Senate MPs unveil $ 3.5 billion budget for social and climate efforts – Twin Cities
By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Democrats on Monday unveiled a budget resolution calling for a massive 10-year $ 3.5 trillion cascade of federal resources, targeting historic sums to support family, health and education programs and an aggressive campaign to cure the climate.
The measure is a crucial first step in what will likely be a tumultuous months-long legislative march towards a gradual overhaul of the federal government that also aligns with President Joe Biden’s main domestic policy ambitions.
The plan reflects the tilt to the left of many Democrats in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency and bears the imprint of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., A longtime progressive voice now in the center of the Democratic Party’s power structure in Congress.
Many of his proposals would be funded by raising taxes on the rich and big business while saving people earning less than $ 400,000 a year, an oft-repeated Biden pledge and liberal goal. Although party leaders say the measure will be paid for in full, the budget resolution does not require it, instead giving congressional tax drafting committees an unspecified license to raise funds that a summary calls “substantial.” .
The Senate was due to approve the budget plan this week despite strong Republican opposition. Meanwhile, senators were set to approve a separate $ 1 trillion funding package for roads, water and other infrastructure projects, a bill with broad support.
The vote on this bipartisan plan was scheduled for Tuesday morning. After that, the Senate will immediately cast votes on the $ 3.5 trillion plan.
Importantly, Congressional approval of the budget plan would allow Democrats to pass a detailed follow-up bill this fall enacting the spending and tax changes proposed by the plan without facing obstruction from the GOP that would certainly kill it. It would take 60 votes to end these delaying tactics, an impossible obstacle on a strongly partisan issue in today’s 50-50 Senate.
We do not know when the House, now on summer recess, will vote on the budget. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Hailed it as “a clear statement of the value Congressional Democrats place on American workers and families.”
The budget plans to extend Medicare coverage to dental, vision and hearing benefits and to lower the program’s eligibility age below 65, although reducing the age is expensive and seen as a disadvantage. long chance to survive. The child tax credit, expanded during the pandemic to provide millions of families with monthly checks of $ 300, would be extended beyond its current expiration in 2022. Further tax breaks for some low-income workers and for childcare would also be renewed.
Unveiled on the same day the United Nations warned of a “code red for humanity” due to rapid global warming, the budget plan would unravel a broad push to drive the United States toward clean energy. This would include a new tax on imported fuels that spew carbon emissions, federal support for clean energy developers, and investments in low-emission vehicles.
“The question is not complicated,” Sanders said Monday of the budget plan. He asked if lawmakers have the courage to charge special interests a “fair share of taxes so that we can create millions of well-paying jobs for working families, so we can protect our children, protect the elderly and facing the threat of climate change. “
In an illustration of the hurdles ahead, about $ 198 billion of the master plan’s climate proposals are expected to go through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This panel is chaired by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist and ardent defender of his state’s energy interests who has made it clear that he supports an energy policy that is “not elimination, it is elimination. ‘innovation”.
In line with the budget outline, the $ 3.5 trillion expenditure and revenue bill is sure to cause turmoil among Democratic leaders as they struggle to strike a balance between the demands of competing progressive and moderate factions. their party, each having a decisive influence.
Besides the equally divided Senate, which only Vice President Kamala Harris’ decisive vote allows them to control, Democrats cannot lose more than three votes in the tightly divided House.
Modere is backing the $ 1 trillion funding package for roads, water and other infrastructure projects that the Senate was about to approve. Progressives strongly support the broad social and environmental plan, and each group fears that disagreements will cause the other to fail to its preferred extent.
“We are going to say to middle class families, ‘We are going to make it easier for you to stay there,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. He added: “We are going to say to the poorest families, ‘We are going to help you get into the middle class more easily. “
Democrats revealed their budget as the Senate was set to approve the smallest compromise infrastructure measure. This bill, another Biden priority, garnered strong support from Republicans keen to bring public works spending back to their home states.
But the GOP was united against the Democrats’ larger $ 3.5 trillion plan, calling it burdened with overspending and tax increases that would hurt the economy and strain families.
In the run-up to the 2022 election for control of Congress, Republicans were preparing amendments that would force Democrats to vote on politically sensitive issues such as immigration, crime and inflation. They also amplified their oft-used theme of accusing Democrats of socialism.
“They tried to tax and spend our country in oblivion,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky said. “They handed over the keys to national policy making to President Sanders and some Socialist members of the House.”
The Democrats’ budget plan seeks to extend federal subsidies for people who purchase health insurance through former President Barack Obama’s Health Care Act of 2010, and money would be provided to states that have yet to expand Medicaid coverage. There would be a very first federally paid family leave program, and some pre-kindergarten and two years of community college would be tuition-free.
There would also be more money for home health care, housing, skills training, child nutrition, and Pell Grants for low-income students.
It would also pave the way for millions of immigrants to the United States to move illegally towards citizenship and strengthen the enforcement of labor laws on language. Such provisions will have to be approved by the parliamentarian of the Senate, who can prohibit provisions that are not primarily related to the budget.
The budget provides additional savings by letting the government negotiate lower prices on pharmaceuticals it purchases for Medicare beneficiaries. He also seeks to strengthen the IRS so that it can collect more unpaid taxes, although analysts are wary of the savings lawmakers might claim, as estimates of the impact of this proposal vary widely.
The tax plan also suggests relaxing the cap on federal deductions people can take for their state and local taxes, a controversial proposal among Democrats. Relaxing those limits is a top priority for high-tax states like the Northeast, but it would cost the government billions every year, making it harder for Democrats to fund other priorities.
The measure contains no language extending the federal debt limit, the limit on government borrowing that has already expired. The Treasury Department uses accounting tricks to keep the government paying its bills, but Republicans have pledged to vote against extending the borrowing limit, and this battle will be joined to other laws.
PA reporters Matthew Daly and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.