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Senate Democrats unveil $3.5-trillion budget for social and climate programs

Charles E. Schumer speaks at a lectern to reporters
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters as lawmakers work to advance the $1-trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill at the Capitol on Tuesday.
(Associated Press)

Senate Democrats unveiled a budget resolution Monday that maps $3.5 trillion in spending boosts and tax breaks aimed at strengthening social and environmental programs, setting up an autumn battle over President Biden’s domestic policy ambitions.

The measure lays the groundwork for legislation later this year that over a decade would pour mountains of federal resources into their top priorities. Included would be more money for healthcare, education, family services and environmental programs and tax breaks for families, with much of it paid for with tax increases on rich people and corporations.

The measure’s introduction marks the start of a long legislative trek through Congress of legislation that Democrats hope will result this fall in a progressive reshaping of government. To succeed, they’ll have to overcome likely unanimous Republican opposition and find the sweet spot between the demands of their own often antagonist progressive and moderate factions.

“At its core, this legislation is about restoring the middle class in the 21st Century and giving more Americans the opportunity to get there,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to his colleagues that unveiled the plan.

The resolution calls for creating free pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year olds and and two years of free community college; extending tax breaks for children and some low-income workers; and establishing paid family and sick leave.

Medicare coverage would be expanded to cover dental, hearing and vision benefits. Spending would increase for housing, home healthcare and job training, and new resources would go to efforts encouraging a faster transition to clean energy.

To pay for the plans, taxes would be raised on wealthy people and large corporations, without any increases on people earning under $400,000 a year, a key Biden campaign pledge. The budget also calls for reducing the prices the federal government pays for pharmaceuticals it buys for Medicare recipients, a longtime goal of Democrats who want the government to be allowed to negotiate those prices.


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