Democrats in the Senate early Aug. 11 passed a $3.5 trillion budget framework with no support from Republicans, though its final passage isn’t assured.
The budget was advanced 50–49, with all votes in favor coming from Democrats or nominal independents who regularly vote with the left.
All Republicans voted against the budget except for Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who was at the Mayo Clinic with his wife, Jean, who is undergoing cancer treatments, he said on Aug. 10.
“This legislation will not only provide enormous support unprecedented in recent American history for the children in our country, for the parents in our country, to the elderly people in our country, to the working families of our country, but it will also, I hope, restore the faith of the American people in the belief that we can have a government that works for all of us and not just a few,” Sanders said on the Senate floor in Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) added, “Senate Democrats just took a massive step towards restoring the middle class in the 21st century and giving Americans, more Americans, the chance to get there.”
The procedural vote followed hours of debate and consideration of amendments, starting on the afternoon of Aug. 10 and wrapping up shortly before 4 a.m. on Aug. 11.
The House of Representatives, which Democrats also control, is poised to take up the measure during the week of Aug. 23, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told colleagues this week.
Democrats were able to avoid needing Republican votes by utilizing a process known as budget reconciliation, which cuts the number of votes required to 50 from 60.
Democrats control the upper chamber by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris’s ability to cast tie-breaking votes in her role as president of the Senate. If Rounds had been present and voted no, Harris could have broken the tie.
Republicans denounced the budget, which has yet to be drafted.
“There is absolutely no way that I could support the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion dollar tax and spend bill from hell. The unsustainable spending policies put forth by this Administration are irresponsible and will do nothing but crush economic recovery, unleash runaway inflation, and destroy the futures of our children and grandchildren,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said in a statement.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) added: “Democrats’ $3.5 trillion wish list on new entitlements, climate change, and amnesty is a reckless spending spree that will accelerate the national debt. This is not what Oklahomans want, and this is not what our nation needs.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the passage of the budget showed Democrats have “fully embraced the radical left.”
If the House also approves the budget framework, it will go back to the Senate for another vote.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who both voted yes, have expressed concerns about how much money colleagues want to spend.
Manchin said in a statement early Aug. 11 that he voted to move the process forward because he thinks it’s important to discuss the fiscal policy future of the United States.
“However, I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion,” he said.
“Given the current state of the economic recovery, it is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or Great Recession—not an economy that is on the verge of overheating. More importantly, I firmly believe that continuing to spend at irresponsible levels puts at risk our nation’s ability to respond to the unforeseen crises our country could face. I urge my colleagues to seriously consider this reality as this budget process unfolds in the coming weeks and months.”