The Slatest

Senate Democrats Are at Last Moving on a $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan That Could Transform America

Schumer is flanked by Murray, Durbin, and Stabenow as he talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is flanked by Sens. Patty Murray, Dick Durbin, and Debbie Stabenow as he talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

Senate Democrats announced late Tuesday they’ve agreed to advance a sweeping $3.5 trillion reconciliation budget plan that would incorporate a slew of Democratic priorities, from combating climate change to bolstering health care through expanded Medicare. Democrats will simultaneously pursue the partisan reconciliation package, which is not subject to the filibuster and would allow the party to pass the bill with a simple majority, alongside a more modest, bipartisan infrastructure deal, which includes $600 billion in new spending on physical infrastructure.

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The bill is the first step in realizing a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. economy and updating the social contract between Americans and their government. The intraparty deal was months in the making as different factions sparred over the scale and ambition of the Democrats’ vision for the country. To actually make all of this a reality and pass the reconciliation package, which includes spending and new taxes that Republicans won’t even consider, the party will need every member of the caucus to support the bill. That support has not been a given with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, but Tuesday’s announcement indicates Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer must think that any wavering centrists can be corralled. The bill will also need to hold Democratic support to pass in the House, where Democrats have a historically narrow majority of just six seats.

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Senate Democrats have not released the details of the proposal, which will certainly shift as it makes its way through the legislative process. “The resolution is expected to include language prohibiting tax increases on small businesses and people making less than $400,000,” the New York Times reports. “Mr. Schumer said the resolution would call for an expansion of Medicare to provide money for dental, vision and hearing benefits, a priority for liberals like [Vermont Sen. Bernie] Sanders. It is also likely to extend a temporary provision in the president’s pandemic relief law that greatly expands subsidies for Americans purchasing health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, one of the largest health measures since the law was passed more than a decade ago.”

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