Senate Democrats roll childcare and immigration right into a 3.5 ton funds: NPR
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., revealed the text of a $ 3.5 trillion budget. J. Scott Applewhite / AP Hide caption
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has released text of a $ 3.5 trillion budget designed to allow Democrats to make large federal investments in childcare, family vacations, and climate change without Republican support to approve in Congress.
In a letter sent Monday morning, Schumer told Democrats that the goal is for committees to legislate to meet spending targets by September 15.
“When we won a majority in the Senate earlier this year, the American people entrusted us with a great responsibility: to make their lives better,” Schumer wrote in the letter. “I am pleased to announce that we are making great strides towards this goal.”
The budget framework contains instructions to the committees with specific expenditure targets. The most important elements include:
- $ 726 billion for the Committee on Health, Labor, Education and Pensions with full instructions to address some of the Democrats’ top priorities. These areas include universal Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, childcare for working families, toll-free community college, funding for historically black colleges and universities, and an expansion of the Pell Scholarship for higher education.
- $ 107 billion for the Judiciary Committee, including instructions to address “lawful permanent status for skilled immigrants”.
- $ 135 billion for the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Forestry, including instructions on how to fight forest fires, reduce carbon emissions and deal with drought issues.
- $ 332 billion for the banking committee, including instructions on investing in public housing, the Housing Trust Fund, affordability of housing and equity, and community land trusts.
- $ 198 billion for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, including instructions primarily related to clean energy development.
The Democrats plan to use special budget rules to resolve new spending without the threat of a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Republicans have broadly opposed plans for additional spending, saying Democrats threaten the chances of bipartisan support for other critical economic problems like raising or suspending the debt ceiling.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Promised last week that Republicans would offer no help with the debt ceiling if Democrats spent more money.
“If our colleagues want to break another ruthless tax and spending frenzy without our intervention, if they want all of this spending and debt to become their signature legacy, they should take the chance to own every little bit of it,” McConnell said in a speech in the Senate. “So let me be very clear: if they don’t need or want our contribution, they are not going to get our help in raising the debt ceiling that these ruthless plans require.”
The decision to proceed with the budget vote represents a dangerous path for top Democrats, who at a moment of intense fiscal pressure in the country hold an extremely thin majority in both the House and Senate.
The federal government has already hit the debt limit and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has warned that the limit must be raised by October 1 to avoid default. That coincides with the end of the fiscal year on September 30th – one day earlier.
The Democrats have not included raising the debt ceiling in the budget framework, which means they will have to find another way to address the problem.
Executives also face a difficult path to approve additional spending as part of the budget process.
Passing laws under the budgetary rule known as reconciliation would require unanimous Democratic approval. That is far from guaranteed.
Moderate Democrats like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., And Joe Manchin, DW.Va., have questioned the need for trillions in new spending, but avoided committing to a spending target they can support.
Progressive Democrats have insisted that the Senate pass a partisan spending package before the House of Representatives will consider the $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill due to be passed in the Senate this week.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has said for weeks that the House will not vote on the bipartisan bill until the Senate finishes work on the additional spending.
Schumer said Monday he was working with Pelosi on this plan.