Democrats issue budget resolution as Senate works on infrastructure bill

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attend a press conference with mothers assisted by child tax credit payments at the United States Capitol in Washington, United States, July 20, 2021.

Élisabeth Frantz | Reuters

As the Senate put the finishing touches on a bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday, Democrats released their $ 3.5 trillion budget plan that paves the way for massive investment in social programs and climate policy.

The plans are part of what Democrats see as a complementary two-part program to boost the economy, strengthen the social safety net and curb climate change. The party will have to lead a complicated legislative dance to get the two proposals through Congress in the coming months.

First, the Senate could pass the bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill as early as Tuesday morning. The plan, which calls for $ 550 billion in new spending on transportation, utilities and broadband, is expected to pass through the chamber with the backing of Democrats and Republicans.

The Senate will then move “immediately” to passing the budget resolution, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., told colleagues on Monday in a letter. The measure would allow Democrats to spend up to $ 3.5 trillion in spending on climate policy, paid vacation, child care, education and health care without a Republican vote.

Schumer aims to approve the measure in the coming days before the senators leave for their August vacation.

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The budget plan recommends that congressional committees develop the parts of the Democrats’ bill by September 15, days before the House returns from its August recess. President Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Stressed that she would not pass either of these plans until the Senate passes both.

Democrats have a tough road ahead: They’ll need to keep everyone in their Senate caucus on board with the budget bill and can only afford a handful of House defections. And they will try to pass a gigantic spending plan, funded by tax hikes on businesses and the wealthy, in the face of staunch opposition from Republicans who want to make it difficult to vote ahead of the country’s midterm elections. next year.

Democrats and Republicans have trumpeted the infrastructure bill as a late investment to modernize transportation and jumpstart the economy as the United States emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. It would invest new funds in roads, bridges, airports, waterways, railways, mass transit, water systems, power grid and broadband, among others.

Still, Democrats see the $ 3.5 trillion budget plan as the main event. In a statement on Monday, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Called it “the most important piece of legislation for workers, the elderly, children, the sick and the sick. poor since the FDR and the New Deal of the 1930s. “

While the budget resolution does not go into the explicit details of many policies, Democrats say their bill would include:

  • Extensions of paid family and medical leave
  • An accumulation of child care programs
  • Extension of household tax credits, including the enhanced child tax credit introduced during the pandemic
  • An extension of Medicare benefits to include dental, vision and hearing care, and a reduction in the age of Medicare eligibility
  • An extension of the increased subsidies of the Affordable Care Act
  • Universal Pre-K
  • Community college tuition-free
  • Tax incentives and subsidies to encourage the adoption of green energy, manufacturing and transportation
  • Polluting charges on methane and carbon
  • Consumer rebates to encourage clean energy and weatherization in homes
  • Funding to increase the number of electric vehicles in the federal fleet

The proposal would not increase the federal debt ceiling. The Treasury began using so-called extraordinary measures this month to prevent the United States from defaulting on its obligations.

Democrats aim to pay for their spending plan through corporate and personal tax reform, as well as increased enforcement of existing rates by the IRS. In a statement, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Said the revenue collection plans “will fall into four categories: multinational corporations, wealthier individuals, application of tax evasion to the rich and savings from other programs “.

The party had previously raised the possibility of increasing the corporate tax rate to 28% and increasing the top bracket of individuals to 39.6%.

The Republican tax law of 2017 reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and the top personal rate from 39.6% to 37%. GOP senators opposed any tax increase under the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Has repeatedly called the Democrats’ $ 3.5 trillion budget plan “reckless.”

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