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Congress originally conceived of the budget reconciliation process as a minor fallback mechanism for bringing one year's tax and spending policy in line with overall budget targets. Reconciliation has since become central to congressional efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit. This Note argues, however, that reconciliation is limited in its capacity to impel significant budgetary reform. The author demonstrates how, in 1995-96, reconciliation caused repeated breakdowns in governmental budget-making, undermining the entire budget process. The author concludes that the legal, institutional, and political constraints inherent in the reconciliation process will continue to constitute powerful obstacles to congressional efforts to implement sweeping national reform via the annual budget.



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