Colbert Uses Willy Wonka to Explain Congress

He sings about 'reconciliation' in a top hat
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2021 10:10 AM CDT

Congress is nearing the end of a monumental week, one in which lawmakers are trying to avert a shutdown as they consider two huge pieces of legislation that could decide the fate of President Biden's legislative agenda. Stephen Colbert attempted to explain all this Wednesday night, in particular the arcane budgetary maneuver known as reconciliation on which much of this hangs. Except he did so in the musical stylings of Willy Wonka, changing the words of "Pure Imagination," per Mediaite. "Reconciliation is a phantasmagorical place of legislative wonder, where anything can happen," he said, per the New York Times. "Who knows—maybe even something!" Watch the video here.

In the course of his explanation, Colbert doled out some blame at the convoluted politics at play:

  • Mitch McConnell: "On Monday, McConnell led a Republican filibuster that blocked government funding and raising the debt ceiling," said Colbert. "So, this is a totally avoidable crisis." This, he added, is "all part of McConnell's plan to derail [President] Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, which can only pass through a budget process called reconciliation that shields fiscal measures from a filibuster. Yes, for one magical vote a year, senators leave the mortal world behind and enter an enchanted land of reconciliation."
  • Manchin, Sinema: He also singled out Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. "In order to pass the bill through reconciliation, all 50 Senate Democrats have to be on board, but Manchin and Sinema have both said that there are parts of the $3.5 trillion bill that they oppose," Colbert said. "But they have yet to publicly detail their demands. So they're holding up the entire government, but they won't tell anyone what they want. That's like getting a ransom note that says, 'Your brother gets it unless you give us ... Wouldn't you like to know?'"
(More Stephen Colbert stories.)

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