Explainer: U.S. Senate referee in spotlight as Democrats pursue major spending


Few know her name or have seen her on TV, but Elizabeth MacDonough is one of the most important people in Washington.

As the Senate’s parliamentarian, MacDonough advises lawmakers about what is acceptable under the chamber’s rules and precedents. Her advice on arcane points of Senate procedure usually doesn’t make the headlines, but can have lasting consequences.

In the weeks ahead, MacDonough likely will be asked to advise on what Democrats can include in a $3.5 trillion spending bill that is a top priority for Democratic President Joe Biden.