The Senate voted early in the morning of August 11 to pass the framework of a $3.5 trillion spending bill. A vote approved the measure of 50-49 along party lines using the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules requiring only a simple majority.
The final vote came at the end of a 15 hours session that saw multiple votes on amendments proposed by Republicans, all of which failed.
The vote was on approving a procedural framework for a final budget reconciliation bill that could also be approved without a single Republican vote.
Republican Senators were quick to criticize the spending plan. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) stated that the proposed spending bill would “redefine” the federal government’s role in American life based only on Democrat votes. He added that the new spending bill seeks to increase the dependency of the middle class on government while providing tax breaks for the “ultra-wealthy” in blue states.
Predictably, Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was enthusiastic about the vote and said that the spending bill would bring about a “generational transformation” of the economy for “average Americans.” Schumer promised that the spending package would cut taxes and lower costs for “everyone.” Schumer claimed that the bill would be paid for by making the tax code more progressive and would simultaneously create jobs and fight climate change.
The outline provided by the budget framework is open to multiple new federal programs related to the climate, social engineering, and greatly expanded Medicare coverage. Universal pre-K for three and 4-year old children is created under the plan and is expected to take up $726 billion annually. The framework also contemplates the creation of a brand-new federal Civilian Climate Corps.
The spending framework now moves to the House, where ultra-progressive “Squad” members may complicate matters for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At least nine House Democrats said they would not vote to move the spending framework forward until the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill approved previously is fully enacted into law.
Progressive House members have also said they will not vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate approves the more significant second part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package using the budget reconciliation process. Pelosi has previously agreed with taking the same posture on the bipartisan bill in the House.
The potential for a showdown in the House over the competing bills may place Pelosi in a problematic negotiating posture between the base of Democrat members and the Squad, who can kill any of the potential accounts by withholding support.