Senate Democrat have their budget resolution, the $3.5 trillion bill that includes spending, or reconciliation, instructions for various committees to create their reconciliation bill for all the stuff in President Joe Biden's human infrastructure plan. That's the second part of the "two track" effort, one demanded by House Democrats. The resolution does not include a debt ceiling hike, ensuring a showdown with Republicans in the not very distant future.
A topline summary of the budget resolution includes four buckets of programs: families, climate, infrastructure and jobs, and health care. In the "family" bucket, it would create pre-kindergarten for 3 and 4 year olds; two years of free community college; extending tax breaks for children and some low-income workers; and establishing paid family and sick leave. For immigrant families, it would give legal status to millions of undocumented individuals.
The climate part of the plan puts the U.S. "on track to meet President Biden’s 80% electricity and 50% economy-wide carbon reductions," leaders say, with new clean energy programs and tax incentive and grants; new polluters fees; coastal resiliency programs; investments in combatting drought and wildfire; and incentives for residential weatherization and green electrification. It's a start. The climate initiatives continue "game-changing infrastructure projects and jobs programs" that were left out of the bipartisan bill, including a "historic level of investments" in green and sustainable public housing, housing affordability, and home construction; a Civilian Climate Corps modeled on the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps; a "largest-ever" one-time investment in Native American infrastructure projects; and strengthening the supply chain.
In health care, it expands Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing benefits. It includes American Rescue Plan expansion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and expands home- and community-based care services for seniors and disabled people. It would create a federal program to provide coverage for people in the Medicaid gap that states refusing Medicaid expansion under the ACA have created, and has some sort of prescription drug cost-saving mechanism, which is to be determined.
Much of it is "to be determined," like how the Finance Committee will find the funding to do all this and not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, and reduce the deficit by $1 billion. That's going to be higher taxes for the rich and corporations.
"At its core, this legislation is about restoring the middle class in the 21st Century and giving more Americans the opportunity to get there," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter to his colleagues that unveiled the plan. "By making education, health care, child care, and housing more affordable, we can give tens of millions of families a leg up. By making further investments in infrastructure, we can create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. And by finally tackling climate change, we can spare our country and our planet the most devastating effects of global warming."
The Senate is going to finish work as soon as Tuesday on the bipartisan bill, and then pass this budget resolution as the starting point for the House and Senate Democrats to work out the details of these instructions. Those fights will stretch into the fall. As of now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is insisting that the bipartisan bill won't get a vote until the budget reconciliation is ready to pass.