Senate Democrats put child care and immigration under $ 3.5 billion budget framework
Updated August 9, 2021 at 9:28 a.m. ET
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., released the text of a $ 3.5 trillion budget framework that aims to give Democrats the ability to approve major federal investments in the relative provisions to child care, family leave and climate change without the support of Republicans in Congress.
In a letter sent Monday morning, Schumer told Democrats the goal is for committees to draft legislation to meet spending targets by September 15.
“When we won a majority in the Senate earlier this year, the American people gave us a great responsibility: to improve their lives,” Schumer wrote in the letter. “I am happy to report that we are making great progress towards this goal.”
The budget framework includes instructions to committees that include specific spending targets. The main elements include:
- $ 726 billion for the Health, Work, Education and Pensions committee with detailed instructions to address some of the Democrats’ top priorities. These areas include universal pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, child care for working families, tuition-free community college, funding for historically black colleges and universities, and an extension of the grant. Pell for higher education.
- $ 107 billion for the Judiciary Committee, including instructions to deal with âlegal permanent status for skilled immigrantsâ.
- $ 135 billion for the agriculture, nutrition and forestry committee, including instructions to fight forest fires, reduce carbon emissions and tackle drought issues.
- $ 332 billion for the banking committee, including instructions for investing in public housing, the housing trust fund, housing affordability and equity, and community land trusts.
- $ 198 billion for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, including instructions largely related to clean energy development.
Democrats plan to use special budget rules to pass new spending without the threat of Republican obstruction in the Senate. Republicans broadly rejected the additional spending plans and said Democrats threatened the chances of bipartisan support for other critical economic issues, like raising or suspending the debt ceiling.
Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Vowed last week that Republicans would offer no debt limit help if Democrats pursued more spending.
“If our colleagues want to impose another tax and reckless spending madness without our contribution, if they want all of this spending and debt to be their iconic legacy, they should seize the opportunity to own every bit of it,” said McConnell in a speech in the Senate. “So let me be perfectly clear: if they don’t need or want our contribution, they won’t get our help with the increased debt limit that these reckless plans will require. “
The decision to proceed with budget reconciliation creates a perilous path for the main Democrats leading extremely slim majorities in the House and Senate at a time of intense tax pressure in the country.
The federal government has already reached the borrowing limit and Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen has warned that the limit must be increased by October 1 in order to avoid a default. This coincides with the end of the fiscal year on September 30, a day earlier.
Democrats haven’t included a debt limit increase in the budget framework, which means they’ll have to find another way to fix the problem.
Leaders also face a difficult path to approving additional spending throughout the budget process.
Passing any legislation under the fiscal rule known as reconciliation would require unanimous agreement from Democrats. It is far from guaranteed.
Moderate Democrats, like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., And Joe Manchin, DW.Va., questioned the need for billions in new spending, but avoided committing to a spending target that they can support.
Progressive Democrats have insisted that the Senate adopt a partisan spending program before the House considers the bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill that is due to be approved in the Senate this week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Has said for weeks that the House will not vote on the bipartisan bill until the Senate completes its work on the additional spending.
Schumer said Monday he was working with Pelosi on this plan.
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