Senate Democrats on the Budget Committee agreed to set a $3.5 trillion top-line spending level for a bill to carry most of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda into law without Republican support.
Democrats on the committee had been divided about the size and scope of the package, with Chairman Bernie Sanders initially pushing a $6 trillion measure that added an expansion of Medicare, immigration reform, more generous childcare benefits and more to Biden’s proposal.
The Budget Committee agreement includes the Medicare expansion, marking a significant win for Sanders. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, a moderate, said the bill will be “fully paid for.”
“We are very proud of this plan,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said late Tuesday. Schumer said it would include dental, hearing and vision benefits for Medicare recipients but didn’t detail whether a proposal to lower the eligibility age will be included or if a separate proposal to lower prescription drug prices is in the plan
Biden plans to travel to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to discuss the plan.
The agreement will allow Democrats to send a budget resolution to the Senate floor containing instructions for a later tax and spending bill that would require just 50 Democratic caucus votes plus Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaker to pass.
The draft budget proposal does not yet have the support of all 50 members of the caucus and could be changed further once moderates and progressives weigh in. House Democrats are coordinating with Sanders’ committee but have not yet announced whether they support the new agreement.
Democrats plan to pay for their proposals through large business and individual tax increases, the details of which the tax-writing committees will decide.
Biden is pursuing a two-track approach to his domestic agenda: a $579 billion bipartisan bill focused on physical infrastructure and a partisan bill that addresses eldercare, childcare, education, paid family leave and other social spending using the budget process.
Schumer wants to send both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and budget resolution to the floor this month, with votes on the follow-up partisan bill enabled by the budget resolution in the fall.
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