US Senate Approves $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution 

The U.S. Senate narrowly passed a $3.5 trillion budget plan early Wednesday providing the framework for spending to sharply expand family services, health, education and environmental programs.  The package includes many priorities of President Joe Biden and was supported only by senators from his Democratic Party in the 50-to-49 vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the budget resolution would “provide historic investments in American jobs, American families, and the fight against climate change.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y. walks off the Senate floor and pumps his fists as the Senate approves a $1 trillion bipartisan cornerstone of the Biden agenda to the House, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 10, 2021.“It puts us on track to bring a generational transformation to how our economy works for average Americans,” Schumer tweeted early Wednesday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday ahead of the vote that the minority Republicans lacked the votes to stop the Democratic majority, but he called the legislation “absolutely jaw-dropping.”  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives as the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package is about to be voted on by the Senate in Washington, Aug. 10, 2021.”People want to pretend this is just business as usual. Just liberals doing liberal things using Senate procedure. Make no mistake — this reckless taxing and spending spree is like nothing we’ve seen,” McConnell said.  The legislation would provide universal pre-kindergarten instruction, free community college classes, expanded health care for older Americans and child care funding. It also would fund the fight against the effects of climate change, make immigration law changes and attempt to lower prescription drug prices.  Democrats plan to pay for the programs by increasing taxes on corporations and individuals earning more than $400,000 a year, allowing the government to negotiate pharmaceutical prices, taxing imported carbon fuels and strengthening tax collections by the Internal Revenue Service.  With no Republican support, Democrats are proceeding under a special process known as a budget reconciliation. That allows the bill to advance with only a simple majority and not be subject to a potential filibuster, an action minority Republicans could have used to block or delay a vote. While all Democrats in the politically divided Senate voted to advance the spending plan, not all are committed to eventually voting for the entire piece of legislation, leaving it open to extensive negotiations. Already, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, Democratic centrists, have voiced concern about the cost of the proposals. “I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion,” Manchin said Wednesday. “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,” he said.Sinema said recently she would not support a plan costing $3.5 trillion. The House of Representatives, which also has a Democratic majority, is expected to consider the blueprint legislation when its members return from a recess in two weeks. The specifics of the spending programs would be filled out in subsequent legislation developed in coming months. Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters. 



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