Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee said on July 13 that they have reached an agreement on a $3.5 trillion package that includes many provisions backed by President Joe Biden, including on climate change, expanding Medicare, and plans to address “human” infrastructure.
The announcement was made by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) following a two-hour meeting. Top Democrats said they plan to advance the trillion-dollar deal alongside a bipartisan deal that would spend around $1 trillion on roads, water systems, and other infrastructure projects, but that omits many of Democrats’ priorities.
“We are very proud of this plan,” Schumer told reporters, alongside 11 Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee. “We know we have a long road to go. We’re going to get this done for the sake of making average Americans’ lives a whole lot better.”
Schumer says the agreement would call for financing Biden’s budget priorities “in a robust way.”
“The budget resolution with instructions will be $3.5 trillion. You add that to the $600 billion bipartisan plan, you get to $4.1 [trillion], which is very, very close to what President Biden asked us for,” Schumer said. “Every major program that President Biden has asked us for is funded in a robust way.”
However, he and other lawmakers didn’t respond when asked if they had the support of all 50 senators they will need to push the measure through the evenly divided Senate.
The price tag for the budget agreement falls short of the $6 trillion figure pushed for by Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and progressive Democrats. However, it includes a priority of Sanders and other progressives—an expansion of Medicare, the federal health insurance program relied on by most older Americans, to cover dental, vision, and hearing services.
Sanders said the agreement marks “a pivotal moment in American history” that would end an era in which, he said, rich people and big companies weren’t bearing enough of the burden of financing government programs.
“The American people have seen the very rich getting richer and government developing policies, which allowed them to pay, in some cases, not a nickel in federal income taxes, they’ve seen corporations make huge profits,” Sanders said. “In some cases, they’re not paying a nickel in taxes. And what this legislation says, among many, many other things, is that those days are gone. The wealthy and large corporations are going to start paying their fair share of taxes so that we can protect the working families of this country.”
Sen. Mark Warner, (D-Va.), a leading moderate who helped shape the budget package, also endorsed the plan.
“I’ve done this job for about 12 years. I can’t think of a more meaningful effort that we’re taking on, than what we’re doing right now,” Warner said.
Warner said the measure would be fully paid for with offsetting revenue, without elaborating.
“I make no illusions how challenging this is going to be,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.