While progressives are threatening to tank a rare bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill unless the Senate approves another $3.5T spending plan, their Democratic colleague Sen. Joe Manchin raised concerns over the ‘grave consequences’ of adding that much to the debt.
Still, the West Virginia Democrat voted yes on a procedural vote to move forward on the budget blueprint, but fired a warning shot at his party that he won’t support the hefty price tag they’ve proposed.
‘Early this morning, I voted “YES” on a procedural vote to move forward on the budget reconciliation process because I believe it is important to discuss the fiscal policy of the future of this country,’ Manchin explained in a statement.
‘I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion. Over the past year, Congress has injected more than $5 trillion of stimulus into the American economy — more than any time since World War II,’ he continued.
With Manchin’ ‘yes’ vote, the blueprint passed 50-49. (Senator Mike Rounds, R-S.D., missed the budget votes to be with his ailing wife.)
The powerful moderate senator noted millions of unfilled jobs across the country and rising inflation rates.
In July, the consumer price index was up 5.4% from one year ago, unchanged from June and at the highest level since the Great Recession in 2008.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices jumped 0.5 percent from June to July, down from the previous monthly increase of 0.9 percent.
Manchin’s ‘yes’ vote was followed by a condemnation of the blueprint’s hefty pricetag
Manchin cautioned his fellow Senators against ‘irresponsible levels’ of spending after voting ‘yes’ for the $3.5trillion infrastructure bill
In July, the consumer price index was up 5.4% from one year ago, unchanged from June and at the highest level since the Great Recession in 2008
Democrats’ budget framework allocates billions of dollars to Senate committees to begin drafting proposals for final bill
Agriculture: $135 billion for conservation, drought, and forestry programs to reduce carbon emissions and prevent wildfires; clean energy investments; agricultural climate research; Civilian Climate Corps funding, child nutrition and debt relief
Banking: $332 billion for housing programs, including down payment and rental assistance and community investment
Commerce: $83 billion for technology and transportation; coastal resilience and oceans; funding for the National Science Foundation.
Energy: $198 billion for clean electricity; rebates to weatherize and electrify homes; financing for domestic manufacturing of clean energy and auto supply chain technologies; federal procurement of energy efficient materials; climate research
Environment and Public Works: $67 billion for low-income solar and climate-friendly technologies; clean water affordability and access; EPA climate and research programs; federal investments in energy efficient buildings and green materials
Finance: At least $1 billion in deficit reduction. ‘This will provide the Committee with flexibility to make investment, revenue and offset decisions consistent with the policy recommendations,’ the instructions state. Offsets to include: Corporate and international tax reform; taxing high-income individuals; IRS tax enforcement
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: $726 billion for universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year olds; child care; tuition-free community college; investments in HBCUs, MSIs, HSIs, TCUs, and ANNHIs; increase the maximum Pell grant award; School infrastructure, student success grants, and educator investments; Investments in primary care; pandemic preparedness
Homeland Security: $37 billion for electrifying the federal vehicle fleet; electrifying federal buildings; improving cybersecurity infrastructure; border management investments; investments in green materials and resilience
Judiciary: $107 billion for lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants and border security
Indian Affairs: $20.5 billion for native health, education, housing, energy and climate programs and facilities
Small Business: $25 billion for small business access to credit, investment, and markets
Veterans Affairs: $18 billion for upgrades to VA facilities
‘These are not indications of an economy that requires trillions in additional spending,’ Manchin said.
The budget blueprint to begin debate on the new spending package passed the Senate 50-49, with both Manchin and fellow middle-of-the-road Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Ariz., giving their approval, though both have said the number needs to be worked down.
Democrats plan to pass the spending bill, which they say focuses on ‘human infrastructure,’ via budget reconciliation, meaning they only need all of the members of their party to approve it.
Republicans are sure to oppose the package and have taken to calling it the ‘Bernie Budget’
Meanwhile, members of the House progressives sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that a majority of their caucus would withhold support for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed in the Senate on Tuesday until the larger bill focused on child care, education, climate and health care makes its way to their chamber, according to the New York Times.
And even Pelosi has said she would not bring up the bipartisan bill without the larger Democrat bill. ‘Whatever you can achieve in a bipartisan way — bravo, we salute it,’ Pelosi said on Friday. ‘But at the same time, we’re not going forward with leaving people behind.’
A half-dozen House moderates wrote their own letter urging the speaker to give the bipartisan bill a vote without linking it to anything else.
‘Adding trillions of dollars more to the nearly $29 trillion of national debt, without any consideration of the negative effects on our children and grandchildren, is one of those decisions that has become far too easy in Washington,’ Manchin continued.
He added that spending $3.5 trillion was ‘more suited to respond to a Great Depression or Great Recession – not an economy that is on the verge of overheating.’
Sinema in July signaled she would negotiate with her colleagues on a more modest number for the package.
‘I have … made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead,’ Sinema said in a statement.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., shot back: ‘Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure.’
The budget blueprint is a patchwork of wish list items expressed by Democrats in the past that would enact Biden’s vision for reshaping federal priorities.
Notably it includes funds for universal pre-kindergarten, tuition-free community college, paid family leave and clean energy source development.
It also allocates billions toward helping immigrant workers onto a pathway to citizenship.
But in a rebuke of the Biden administration’s border policies senators also voted to block the release and transport of migrants at the southern border if they do not have a negative COVID test.
Furious Republicans accused the Democrats of letting Bernie Sanders dictate their policy and have called the package a ‘reckless tax and spending spree’.
Republicans argued that Democrats’ proposals would waste money, raise economy-wounding taxes, fuel inflation and codify far-left dictates that would harm Americans. They were happy to use Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, to try tarring all Democrats backing the measure.
If Biden and Senate Democrats want to ‘outsource domestic policy to Chairman Sanders’ with a ‘historically reckless taxing and spending spree,’ Republicans lack the votes to stop them, conceded Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. ‘But we will debate. We will vote.’
Donald Trump issued a statement late Wednesday morning, ‘Good morning, America! While you were all sleeping, the Radical Democrats advanced a plan that will be known as the $3.5 trillion Communist Plan to Destroy America.’
‘It destroys our Borders and the rule of law by granting dangerous amnesty that will flood America’s beautiful cities. It will overwhelm our schools, and make our Nation less safe. It raises taxes like we have never seen, while also making many things you buy everyday more expensive (gas, groceries, and much more). And don’t forget the crazy Green New Deal. America, you are being robbed in the dark of night. It’s time to wake up!’
GOP Senators Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn, among others, blasted the legislation as ‘Bernie’s budget’ on Twitter. Cruz called the bill one of Biden’s ‘biggest mistakes’ in the White House.
Senators blasted the Democrat-backed bill as ‘Bernie’s budget’
Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz blasted the budget bill as one of Joe Biden’s ‘biggest mistakes.’
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, once a far-left outsider, lauded the $3.5trillion legislation (pictured arriving on August 10 as the Senate moves from passage of the infrastructure bill to focus on the massive budget resolution)
Meanwhile Democratic socialist Senator Sanders lauded the pricey bill.
‘It will also, I hope, restore the faith of the American people in the belief that we can have a government that works for all of us, and not just the few,’ he said.
An avalanche of Republican amendments intended to pry control of Congress away from Democrats came down during the 15-hour voting session.
The Senate held more than 40 roll calls by the time it approved the measure at around 4 a.m. ET, more than 14 hours after the procedural wretchedness began.
GOP Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama proposed curbing federal funding for any municipalities that defund the police.
Republicans have persistently accused Democrats of backing the idea, but their attempt to show it failed when the Senate voted 99-0 in favor of the measure.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey called Tuberville’s amendment ‘a gift’ that would let Democrats ‘put to bed this scurrilous accusation that somebody in this great esteemed body would want to defund the police.’
He said he wanted to ‘walk over there and hug my colleague,’ and encouraged every Senator to show they want ‘to fund the police, believes in God, country, and apple pie.’
Republicans claimed two narrow victories with potential implications for future votes, with Manchin joining them on nonbinding amendments taking on abortion and critical race theory.
House leaders announced their chamber will return from summer recess in two weeks to vote on the fiscal blueprint, with final congressional approval near certain.
Final approval would protect a subsequent bill actually enacting the outline´s detailed spending and tax changes from a Republican filibuster in the 50-50 Senate, delays that would otherwise kill it.
If passed the bill would disburse the $3.5trillion over the next 10 years.
Democrats can use Senate rules to pass their budget without Republican support, but will have to balance progressive and moderate demands to hold together their wafer-thin majority
Besides higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, Democrats envision savings to pay for the bill by letting the government negotiate prices for pharmaceuticals it buys, slapping taxes on imported carbon fuels and strengthening IRS tax collections. Democrats have said their policies will be fully paid for, but they’ll make no final decisions until this fall’s follow-up bill.
Some friction between moderate Democrats and progressives is expected, while solid GOP opposition seems guaranteed.
Passage of the landmark bill also comes after new federal data showed inflation remaining at a 13-year high – 5.4 – percent in July.
Food costs are up nearly 4 percent and new car prices have increased 6.4 percent – the highest annual increase since 1982.
On a monthly basis, consumer prices jumped 0.5 percent from June to July, down from the previous monthly increase of 0.9 percent.
The new numbers were announced after the Senate passed Biden’s $1.2trillion bipartisan infrastructure compromise.
The Senate approved the $1.2trillion bundle of transportation, water, broadband and other infrastructure projects late Tuesday morning. That measure, passed 69-30 with McConnell among the 19 Republicans backing it, also needs House approval.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer assured progressives who worry the compromise bill doesn’t go far enough that Congress will pursue sweeping initiatives going beyond that infrastructure package.
The budget blueprint also outlines paid family leave, and a Civilian Climate Corps whose workers would tackle environmental projects.
Millions of immigrants in the US illegally would have a new chance for citizenship, and there would be financial incentives for states to adopt more labor-friendly laws.
Medicare would add dental, hearing and vision benefits, and tax credits and grants would prod utilities and industries to embrace clean energy. Child tax credits beefed up for the pandemic would be extended, along with federal subsidies for health insurance.