Universal Pre-K and Free Community College Tuition: What’s in the $ 3.5T Budget


Senate Democrats released details of their $ 3.5 trillion budget resolution on Monday, urging Congress to begin work on Part II of President Joe Biden’s key economic goals.

The legislative language comes just as the Senate prepares to complete its work on a separate bipartisan $ 1.1 trillion infrastructure bill late Monday or early Tuesday morning. Taken together, the bills are designed to understand the overall priorities of the Biden families’ US plan.

Unlike the bipartisan infrastructure plan, which focuses on ‘basic’ infrastructure needs such as road bridges and waterways, the budget resolution includes many of Biden’s social programs focused on family, climate, and people. Health care.

Key campaign pledges including universal pre-K, a free 2-year community college, and paid family leave are included in the package, as are many of Biden’s climate priorities. The bill, pushed by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Also secures investments in public housing, invests in job training, adds new health insurance benefits and extends benefits extensions of the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats should try to force the massive package through the Senate this week without a single GOP vote. Budget bills are not subject to the normal 60-vote threshold typically required to move legislation forward.

But any Senate action on the budget this week is just the first in a long series of steps before those goals reach Biden’s office.

After the Senate vote on the budget bill, individual committees must draft legislation in line with the new budget, and that legislation will be submitted to the entire chamber for a second vote, likely in the fall.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also made it clear that she will need to see the final Senate budget product before getting the House to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and budget resolution. House progressives want reassurance that the Senate can approve social programs in the budget bill before they support the lean bipartisan package.

Republicans have pledged to fight the budget resolution at every step, including through what is expected to be a vote marathon this week on partisan amendments designed to score political points and squirm centrist Democrats.

The Democrats-only bill is expected to be funded in part by raising taxes on big business and wealthy Americans, which Republicans see as a referendum on the 2017 tax cuts, which many see as one of the most important legislative acts of former President Donald Trump. achievements.

In addition to widespread opposition to the massive $ 3.5 trillion price tag, Republicans also pledged a fierce fight against the language incorporated into legislation aimed at implementing significant changes in immigration policy, including offering an access route to citizenship for undocumented migrants.

According to a summary of the budget resolution released on Monday, the package “will provide green cards to millions of immigrant workers and families” and “fund smart technology for secure and efficient borders for trade, travel and migration.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Told reporters that his panel, which will draft this part of the final bill, is considering drafting a bill that would provide so-called green cards “Dreamers” – children brought to the United States illegally – and for farm workers.

It is not yet clear whether these immigration policies will be allowed under the strict rules governing what can be in a Senate budget bill, but unless a decision by the House Member that such policies are banned, Republicans can’t do much. do to prevent the passage of the bill if all Democrats agree.

It will take all 50 Senate Democrats as well as Vice President Kamala Harris’ decisive vote to move the budget resolution forward, but it’s not yet clear that the caucus will stay united.

Earlier this month, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, announced that she would not support a $ 3.5 trillion package. She said she would allow the process to move forward this week by giving her support for the budget bill for now, but as the committees get down to their business, she said she wanted spending cuts. global.

It’s also not clear whether all Democrats will agree with the leadership’s budget strategy to keep the overall price of the bill low. Committees should end costly programs – like the child care tax credit – before the bill’s 10-year budget window, even though programs could be extended in subsequent years, thereby increasing costs. final expenses of the plan.

Foreshadowing another major partisan fight to come, Democrats have also left an increase in the federal debt limit outside of their budget plan, perhaps to appease the moderates in their ranks, many of whom are running for re-election in 2022. and fearing a growing deficit in Washington. The Republican challengers are almost certain to use a vote to raise the debt limit against them.

A suspension on the federal debt limit expired in late July, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned the United States could exhaust its borrowing power in the coming months without swift action from Congress.

But Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly insisted Republicans will not vote to raise the debt limit, arguing that Democratic policies like the COVID-19 Massive Relief Bill and Project forthcoming budget law, increase the debt, even if an increase in the country’s debt ceiling is made to account for spending and tax cuts that have already taken place, including the effects of the reduction GOP tax of 2017.

“They won’t get our help with raising the debt limit as recklessly as these reckless plans will require. I couldn’t be clearer,” McConnell said of his fellow Democrats in the Senate last week. “They have the capacity. They control the White House, they control the House, they control the Senate. They can raise the debt ceiling and if it is raised, they will.”

But the administration challenged that notion in a statement Monday from Yellen, which urged Congress to use “regular order”, rather than the budget bill, to raise the debt ceiling.

“The vast majority of debt subject to the debt limit was accumulated before the administration took office. This is a shared responsibility, and I urge Congress to meet on a bipartisan as it has done in the past to protect the full faith and credit of the United States, ”Yellen wrote.

Failure to act could turn out to be catastrophic. The last time the parties engaged in a partisan debt ceiling fight in 2011 resulted for the first time in a historic downgrade in the US credit rating. Global and US markets plunged.

The Senate is expected to leave town for a shorter August break after its budget work ends. Upon their return in the second week of September, they will have only a few weeks to chart a course forward on the debt limit, as well as pass a final version of the Democrats’ Budget Bill, as the government lack of funds on October 1. 1.

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