US Democrats agree on $3.5tn budget target

15 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

WASHINGTON: Top US Senate Democrats agreed late on Tuesday on a US$3.5 trillion package to implement President Joe Biden’s vast plans to fund climate initiatives, health insurance and human infrastructure programs like child care, social welfare and housing.

The huge proposal would direct federal funds to a sweeping array of projects over the coming decade that Mr Biden has outlined as his top priorities but which have encountered fierce pushback from opposition Republicans, report agencies.

All 11 Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee emerged from an evening meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to announce they had decided on a budget number.

“Tonight the Senate Budget Committee reached an agreement on a fully paid-for US$3.5 trillion topline budget which includes funding for climate, education, Medicare expansion, family programmes, and more,” Senator Mark Warner said on Twitter.

Mr Schumer added to reporters: “Every major programme that President Biden has asked us for is funded in a robust way.”

The Democrats’ aim is to turn the agreement into a budget resolution that, if it is able to clear both chambers of Congress, would allow lawmakers to enact the massive spending legislation without assistance from Republicans.

A budget resolution allows the Democrats who narrowly control the Senate to circumvent filibuster blocking tactics that otherwise require 60 votes to overcome in the 100-seat chamber, rather than a simple majority.

Democrats used the same procedural move in March to pass Mr Biden’s US$1.9 trillion pandemic relief package.

The agreement followed weeks of haggling between the White House, party leaders, progressives and moderates to make a once-in-a-generation investment in the United States.