Democrats pushed a $3.5tn framework for bolstering family services, health and environment programs through the Senate early Wednesday.
The overnight vote advances Joe Biden’s plans for reshaping federal priorities, and came hours after passing a $1tn infrastructure package.
Lawmakers approved Democrats’ budget resolution on a party-line 50-49 vote, a crucial step for a president and party set on training the government’s fiscal might on assisting families, creating jobs and fighting climate change.
Higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations would pay for much of it. Passage came despite an avalanche of Republican amendments intended to make their rivals pay a price in next year’s elections for control of Congress.
House leaders announced their chamber will return from summer recess in two weeks to vote on the fiscal blueprint, which contemplates disbursing the $3.5tn over the next decade.
Final congressional approval, which seems certain, would protect a subsequent bill actually enacting the outline’s detailed spending and tax changes from a Republican filibuster in the 50-50 Senate, delays that would otherwise kill it.
However, passing that follow-up legislation will be fraught with party moderates wary of the massive $3.5tn price tag vying with progressives demanding aggressive action.
The party controls the House with just three votes to spare, while the evenly divided Senate is theirs only due to Vice-President Kamala Harris tie-breaking vote. Solid GOP opposition seems guaranteed.
The Senate budget committee chairman, Bernie Sanders, said the measure would help children, families, the elderly and working people.
“It will also, I hope, restore the faith of the American people in the belief that we can have a government that works for all of us, and not just the few,“ he said.
Republicans argued that Democrats’ proposals would waste money, raise economy-wounding taxes, fuel inflation and codify far-left dictates that would harm Americans.
The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, assured progressives that Congress will pursue sweeping initiatives going beyond that infrastructure package.
“To my colleagues who are concerned that this does not do enough on climate, for families, and making corporations and the rich pay their fair share: We are moving on to a second track, which will make a generational transformation in these areas,“ Schumer said.
The budget blueprint envisions creating new programs including tuition-free pre-kindergarten and community college, paid family leave and a Civilian Climate Corps whose workers would tackle environmental projects. Millions of immigrants in the US illegally would have a new chance for citizenship, and there would be financial incentives for states to adopt more labor-friendly laws.
Medicare would add dental, hearing and vision benefits, and tax credits and grants would prod utilities and industries to embrace clean energy. Child tax credits beefed up for the pandemic would be extended, along with federal subsidies for health insurance.
Besides higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, Democrats envision savings by letting the government negotiate prices for pharmaceuticals it buys, slapping taxes on imported carbon fuels and strengthening IRS tax collections. Democrats have said their policies will be fully paid for, but they’ll make no final decisions until this fall’s follow-up bill.