The Senate voted to advance the framework of a $3.5 trillion budget plan in the early hours Wednesday morning after a “vote-a-rama” in a 50-49 vote along party lines, with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) absent. After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “Senate Democrats have just took a massive step towards restoring the middle class of the 21st century.”
“What we’re doing here is not easy. Democrats have labored for months to reach this point…but I can say with absolute certainty that it will be worth doing” added Schumer. Republicans, however, opposed the plan unanimously.
Before the vote, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a floor speech on Tuesday, “Senate Democrats want to take their next big step toward playing Russian roulette with our country…what our colleagues are proposing and planning is absolutely jaw-dropping….this reckless taxing and spending spree is like nothing we’ve seen.”
The framework provides for universal pre-kindergarten, free two-year community college, tax incentives for clean-energy sources and an expansion of Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing. Democrats plan to party cover costs with tax hikes on corporations and families who earn higher wages.
While the framework of the resolution was approved, Democrats are divided on a final price tag for the measure. Progressive Representative Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) said the $3.5 trillion partisan plan “still doesn’t go far enough,” while Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) has already indicated that she does not support the plan’s price tag.
The plan now goes to the House, where lawmakers will return early from recess to take it up. Moderates have argued that the House should hold a stand-alone vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed earlier Wednesday, but progressives have said they will refuse to vote on the infrastructure bill until the House approves the budget package.
A dozen Senate committees will now begin negotiating the final details of the budget package, which Schumer hopes to pass in mid-September.