Senate Democrats released their sweeping $3.5 trillion budget resolution on Monday, August 9 – the latest step in their drive to expand education, health care and child care support, tackle the climate crisis and make further investments in infrastructure.
Democratic leaders are hoping to use the budget resolution to push through the massive broadening of the nation’s social safety net envisioned in President Joe Biden’s jobs and families proposals that have been blocked by Republican opposition.
Unlike the bipartisan infrastructure package currently working its way through the chamber, the budget resolution would go through reconciliation, which under Senate rules means it can be passed with 50 Democratic votes alone. GOP lawmakers have already lashed out at the size of the budget blueprint and multiple provisions the Democrats are considering.
The resolution provides recommendations from the Senate Budget Committee to other committees. The bill itself has yet to be written, and the elements of it will likely be modified as it works its way through each committee.
Lawmakers have a target date of September 15 to submit their detailed legislation, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The Senate Budget Committee, which released a framework agreement over the summer, says that the investments will be fully offset by a combination of new tax revenues, health care savings and long-term economic growth, though the summary doesn’t provide details. The instructions also list corporate and international tax reform and Internal Revenue Service tax enforcement as options – both of which Republicans shot down in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
However, a memorandum to Democratic senators sent Monday specifies that new taxes on families making less than $400,000 a year, small businesses and family farms would be prohibited.
Here’s what’s in the Budget Committee’s resolution summary:
Broader supports for families
The resolution calls for multiple measures that were contained in the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan proposal Biden unveiled in April.
The budget framework seeks to establish a universal Pre-K program for 3- and 4-year-olds and a new child care benefit for working families.
Under the American Families Plan, the federal government would invest $200 billion in universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds through a national partnership with states. The administration estimates it would benefit 5 million children and save the average family $13,000 when fully implemented. It would be accessible to families of all income levels, but states would be required to foot about 50% of the cost when the measure is fully up and running.
The framework also calls for enhancing child care for working families. Under Biden’s proposal, low- and middle-income households would pay no more than 7% of their income on child care for kids younger than age 5. Parents earning up to 1.5 times the median income in their state would qualify. The President also wants to invest more in the child care workforce to bring their wages up to $15 an hour, from the typical $12.24 hourly rate they earned in 2020.
The blueprint proposes making community college tuition-free for two years. Under Biden’s plan, the federal government would cover about 75% of the average tuition cost in each state when the program is fully implemented, with st