Senate Democrats released Monday's $3.5 trillion budget resolution. It included a number of party priorities, covering everything from climate and healthcare to higher education and immigration. This set the stage for weeks-long negotiations in Congress as leaders try to calm moderate Democrats' worries about increased fiscal spending.
After a Senate Democratic... [+] luncheon held at the U.S. Capitol, Charles Schumer (D–NY), Charles Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, speaks to reporters Getty Images
The Key Facts
Monday's statement by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that the resolution was intended to allow President Joe Biden to pursue his policy agenda without Republican support. It contained only "top-line" instructions, and that every Senator would have the opportunity to influence the final bill. The budget summary included proposals by Democrats to create the first ever federal paid family and health leave benefit, provide a path to residency for millions of immigrant workers, and add a new hearing, vision, and dental benefit to Medicare's Medicare insurance program. The education resolution includes tuition-free community colleges for two years, increased investments in historically black colleges, universities, and an increase in the Pell grant award to undergraduate students with financial need, from $6,495. It also addresses many climate and infrastructure provisions that weren't included in the $1.2 trillion separate bill. This bill is currently making its way through Congress. Although the release does not specify how the package would be funded, Schumer made a reference to Biden's tax increases for the ultra-wealthy in his statement. He stated that the legislation would "make those who are wealthy pay their fair share."
Schumer stated Monday that the legislation was about "restoring the middle class in 21st century and giving more Americans the chance to achieve it."
Although President Joe Biden released his infrastructure plan in March, Democratic party leaders faced opposition from Republicans as well as Democrats. This led them to pursue two separate efforts simultaneously: the smaller bipartisan infrastructure package, which is due for a final Senate vote on Tuesday, and the newly-announced budget resolution. The bipartisan infrastructure bill's price tag was reduced to please GOP lawmakers. However, the budget resolution bill would make use of the Senate's special reconciliation process to allow Democrats sidestep Republican support. It would pass the spending bill with 51 votes instead the usual 60. This would require a tiebreaking vote by Vice President Kamala Hariri and support from all 50 Senate Democrats (including moderates such as Sens). Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema, (D-Ariz.).
Sinema and fellow Democrats reached a deal to help in the beginning of the budget process. She said that she would only support "beginning the process" but not "a bill that cost $3.5 trillion." Manchin stated last week that he voted for initiating the resolution out of respect for his colleagues, but that he was not making any promises about his final vote. To get more members on board, it is possible that Democrats will reduce the size of their package.
What to Watch
According to the budget resolution, lawmakers are asked to submit amended reconciliation legislation by September 15.
Senate Democrats Unveil $3.5 Trillion Spending Deal (Forbes)
New Bridges, Roads and Internet: This is What It Looked Like in the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Supported By The Senate (Forbes).