House Passes $3.5T Budget Blueprint

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Aug 25, 2021
1920px-United_States_Capitol_-_west_front

The House of Representatives narrowly passed the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint by a 220-212 vote that paves the way for Senate approval without GOP support, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The victory was at least partially due to a last-minute deal struck between 10 House moderates and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). Moderates had previously refused to move on the budget blueprint unless a separate vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has already been approved by the Senate, was passed first. Pelosi and others had wanted the opposite. The deal had the moderates stand down in exchange for locking in the vote on the infrastructure bill to Sept. 27. Considering that the specific legislation for the budget blueprint is not yet completely drafted, the Journal said that this deal could serve to reduce the leverage of progressives, as the two bills will be coming to a vote at around the same time (unless the budget package is successfully written and voted on before then). 

Senate Democrats plan to pass the $3.5 trillion package through the reconciliation process, which would require just a majority vote (the 50 Democratic senators plus Vice President Harris) and thus avoid a Republican filibuster. The bill is meant to contain voluminous spending on social and environmental programs, among other things. Included in its priorities are expanding Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision care; offering universal prekindergarten and two free years of community college; and pushing utilities to generate 80 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean sources by the end of the decade. It would also raise taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals to help defray the cost. The Journal noted that it may be a challenge for the Democratic caucus to retain the support of all 50 Democratic senators, as senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have voiced concerns over the cost of the reconciliation bill.

Republicans disliked both the spending package itself as well as the anticipated use of reconciliation to ultimately pass it. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that the package would pass Congress only over his dead body, according to CNBC, but when pressed on what further actions could be taken to stop it, aside from pressuring moderate Democrats, McCarthy declined to discuss specifics. 

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