Senate passes budget that paves way for $ 3.5T spending plan

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“Democrats have worked for months to get to this point, and a lot of work is ahead. But I can say with absolute certainty that it will be worth it, ”said Schumer. “The Democratic budget will bring a generational transformation to how our economy works for average Americans. ”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the lower house would return early from recess to vote during the week of August 23 on the budget resolution, which instructs a series of committees to begin drafting the elements of President Joe Biden’s plan before the flexible deadline. September 15.

Wednesday’s final Senate vote on the budget resolution, which ended just before 4 a.m., followed a classic vote-a-rama – a barrage of amendments that allows the GOP to force the majority party into a series uncomfortable votes. To hurt fellow Democrats for dismissing the GOP’s contribution to the $ 3.5 trillion plan, Republican senators called for dozens of amendment votes on issues such as critical racial theory, police funding , immigration enforcement and the use of federal money to cover abortions.

Senators even had extra padding on their chairs to make the ordeal more comfortable, as they sat down during the last big legislative hurray before leaving for the August recess, which was already supposed to be underway.

More than three dozen Democrats joined Republicans in an 88-11 vote to pass a non-binding amendment that supports a ban on transporting immigrants across the border unless they are negative for Covid.

“We have a super-spreader event at our southern border every day,” said Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), the mover of the amendment. “It is unacceptable that the government is transporting illegal migrants who present a serious risk of transmission of Covid through our country. ”

The Senate, however, rejected an amendment by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), which called for “deportations” of immigrants “who could contribute to the spread” of Covid. The chamber also rejected a proposal by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) which called for denying US resident status to immigrants with criminal records. These two amendments fell 49-50, with all Democrats opposed.

The amendments marathon was the Senate’s third this year, after Democrats rolled out the reconciliation process to pass Biden’s decision. $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief program in March.

The latest torment follows the long-awaited release of Democrats’ long-awaited $ 3.5 trillion fiscal framework on Monday – a price that may ultimately have to come down to appease Senate moderates.

Before the $ 3.5 trillion plan can be sent to Biden in the coming months, the Senate will have to undergo at least one more vote-a-rama. This task could be potentially more painful than this week’s wave of amendments, as trillions of dollars in Democratic priorities will be closer to the finish line and Senators will propose adjustments to legislation much more comprehensive than the budgetary framework currently under study.

Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), speaking for the first time since her breakthrough in Covid infection, said the $ 3.5 trillion plan is “a dream for those who want to socialize” the United States and that “America as we know it is in danger in this budget resolution.

After midnight, the Senate voted 50-49 to pass an amendment from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) To take a stand against teaching “critical race theory” in schools. Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) joined Republicans in voting for the proposal.

Democrats joined Republicans in unanimously passing a non-binding provision, proposed by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), To reject any Green New Deal effort that would “ship” American jobs to abroad, would cause electricity and gas prices to “skyrocket” or make the nation “increasingly dependent on foreign supply chains.”

Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Said he had “no problem” supporting the GOP amendment because it “has nothing to do with the Green New Deal!”

Democrats avoided more drama by unanimously supporting a Republican amendment by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) That opposed police funding. In a light-hearted moment before the vote, Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.) expressed enthusiastic approval, stressing that all senators should publicly declare their support for police funding, their belief “in God, the land and with apple pie. . “

Likewise, nearly all Democrats have backed a GOP amendment that would ban tax hikes in violation of Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes for people earning less than $ 400,000 a year.

The Senate narrowly passed a Republican message amendment aimed at preserving a long-standing ban on federal abortion funding, which House Democrats eliminated from their annual spending bills this year. Manchin, a longtime supporter of the so-called Hyde Amendment, was the only Democrat to break ranks and support the provision.

Lawmakers unanimously passed a provision by Senate Minority Whip John Thune (RS.D.) that targets a Democratic plan to tackle dynastic wealth. The amendment opposes ending the tax exemption that allows the wealthy to pass assets to their heirs tax-free by removing capital gains taxes on things like company stock and land when people die. The Biden administration proposes to allow farms and small businesses to defer paying the tax until the business or farm is sold or ceases to be family-owned and operated.

“Changing that would hit generations in rural communities and force families to pay part of the farm or business to pay the new tax,” Thune said.

Each senator also supported an amendment by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Which seeks to recognize law enforcement officers who fought and died protecting the Capitol during the Jan.6 uprising. In addition to the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick as a result of the attack, four law enforcement officers who responded to Capitol Hill that day have since committed suicide.

“The insurgency on Capitol Hill was more than an assault on democracy,” Klobuchar said on the ground, “it was a real life and death situation for the many courageous law enforcement officers who show up here to work. every day.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Senate voted 69-30 to pass a $ 550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Democratic leaders pledged to push forward the infrastructure package and their cross-party reconciliation measure on two tracks at the same time, tying together the success of both bills.

The Democrats’ multibillion-dollar spending program would bolster Medicare to cover vision, dental and hearing benefits for the elderly. It aims to extend Medicaid to Americans in Republican-led states who have refused to expand the health care program for low-income people. And it would also maintain the new Obamacare grants and make home care accessible to more people.

To help offset the cost of the plan, Democrats are proposing to increase taxes on top incomes, corporations, overseas profits and capital gains.

The measure also instructs the Senate Judiciary Committee to find a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants. This directive could finally come up against resistance from the parliamentarian of the Senate – the procedural arbiter of the upper house – who will decide on the provisions to be adopted with certain restrictions on reconciliation.

Democrats did not include a debt ceiling increase in their budget resolution, instead Republicans dared to reject a bipartisan solution to the country’s borrowing power cap. In a letter released Tuesday, 46 Senate Republicans pledged to oppose an increase in the debt ceiling.

The Treasury Department is expected to run out of money between September and November.

Toby Eckert contributed to this report.


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