Washington, Aug 9 (EFE).- Senate Democrats on Monday unveiled a non-binding budget resolution that could pave the way for a $3.5 trillion social-safety-net package championed by US President Joe Biden.
Approval of that resolution would enable Democrats to use a process known as budget reconciliation to pass Biden’s massive so-called “human infrastructure” bill without any support from opposition Republicans.
The resolution – expected to be passed this week and containing instructions to committees for drafting their sections of the follow-on bill, which are due to be submitted by Sept. 15 – does not include an increase in the United States’ debt ceiling, several media outlets reported last week.
Some of the main components of the proposed $3.5 trillion spending package include an expansion of Medicare benefits to cover the cost of dental, vision and hearing care, the funding of universal pre-kindergarten and two years of free community college tuition, a requirement that power companies generate 80 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, a reduction in prescription drug costs and a path to citizenship for certain undocumented immigrants.
Democrats say the cost of the package will be covered by higher taxes on high-income households, large inheritances and corporations.
The idea is to pass the bill via a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process, although a total lack of support from the 50 Senate Republicans would mean all 48 Senate Democrats and their two independent allies would need to support it so Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the final tie-breaking vote.
Amid their unanimous opposition to the “human infrastructure” package, Republicans have warned that they will not provide the 10 votes needed to raise the US debt ceiling outside of the budget process.
That sets the stage for a potentially intense battle this fall over the country’s borrowing limit.
The Treasury Department began taking “extraordinary measures” to avoid breaching the debt ceiling – including suspending the sale of State and Local Government Series (SLGS) securities – after a two-year hold on the debt limit (the total debt the Treasury can issue to other government agencies and the public) expired on July 31.
These cash-conservation measures will only allow Treasury to meet the government’s debt obligations through October or November, making the task of raising the debt ceiling an urgent priority.
Senate Democrats intend to approve the budget blueprint this week following passage of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter to his caucus on Monday that the budget blueprint serves as a starting point for Democrats’ negotiations on the spending package.
“Please remember that the resolution only includes ‘top-line’ reconciliation instructions to the committees, and that every Senator will have opportunities to shape and influence the final reconciliation bill after adoption of the Budget Resolution,” Schumer wrote. EFE