U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters after Senate Democrats weekly policy luncheon at the Capitol in Washington, July 13, 2021.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
Senate Democrats announced on Tuesday that they have reached a budget agreement among themselves that provides for a massive $3.5 trillion in spending over the next decade. The fiscal plan would pave the way for Democrats’ push to spend a massive pool of federal resources on climate change, health care and family care programs that President Joe Biden is committed to.
Majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the accord, flanked by all 11 Democrats on the chamber’s budget committee, after a two-hour evening meeting that concluded weeks of negotiations between party leaders, progressives and moderates.
The agreement is an important step in Democrats’ drive to turn Biden’s efforts to bolster a pandemic-ravaged economy into a course of long-term growth. Separately, bipartisan senators have been working on another measure that would spend about $1 trillion on roads, water systems and other infrastructure projects.
If Congressional Democrats rally behind the budget deal announced Tuesday and push it through Congress in the coming weeks, it would help them pass another sweeping bill that would actually fund their priorities.
That’s because the budget resolution includes language that would allow Democrats to push the ensuing, huge spending bill through the Senate by just a simple majority, not the 60 votes Republicans could demand by using a filibuster that kills the bills.
“We are very proud of this plan,” Schumer told reporters. “We know we have a long way to go. We’re going to get this done to make the lives of average Americans a lot better.”
Schumer said Biden would attend a luncheon at the Capitol of all Senate Democrats on Wednesday “to help us carry out this wonderful plan.” But Schumer and other lawmakers did not respond when asked if they had the support of all the 50 senators they need to push the measure through the evenly divided Senate.
Schumer said the proposal would advocate funding Biden’s budget priorities “in a robust manner”. He also said it would be a priority of Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other progressives: an extension of Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, to cover dental, vision and hearing services.
Sanders called the agreement “a pivotal moment in American history” that would end an era when, he said, wealthy people and big corporations were not burdened enough by the financing of government programs.
“Those days are over,” Sanders said. “The rich and big corporations are going to pay their fair share of taxes so we can protect the working families of this country.”
sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a leading moderate who helped shape the budget package, said the measure would be paid in full with revenue compensation, but did not provide details.
The budget will include language stating there will be no tax increases for those making less than $400,000 a year or for small businesses, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations, who has granted anonymity to discuss them.
The budget resolution only sets broad spending and revenue parameters, leaving specific decisions about which programs will be affected — and by how much — for later.