The US Senate on Wednesday morning passed a $3.5 trillion draft budget that would dramatically increase social spending with major investments in health, education, and addressing climate change.
The plan passed by 50 votes to 49, with votes split along party lines after a marathon session of voting on amendment after amendment.
“Senate Democrats just passed our budget resolution to make historic investments in American jobs, American families, and combat climate change,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the hearing.
“This puts us on the path to a generational shift in how our economy works for ordinary Americans.”
Democratic leaders plan to push the package forward in the coming weeks using a fast-track process known as reconciliation that would allow budget-related legislation to pass by a simple majority in the Senate, rather than the usual 60 votes.
The draft 10-year budget pushes Congress toward the next step in President Joe Biden’s ambitious first-term vision, and comes on the heels of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan passed by the Senate on Tuesday that will now move to the House of Representatives.
The text was drafted mostly by Senator Bernie Sanders, who called it the “most impactful” social spending plan since President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in the 1930s that followed the Great Depression.
The spending plan includes funding for climate measures, new infrastructure investments that include items removed from the Senate package, residency grants for millions of immigrant workers, and two-year public university tuition payments.
Senators will be able to submit their amendments until September 15.
Ahead of the vote early Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats were “on the verge of taking the first step toward reckless spending.”
He noted that it “would increase costs even more for families and break President Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes for the middle class.”
Congress must pass final spending plans by Sept. 30 to prevent a government shutdown, or for this year’s budget to be extended for a new fiscal year while debate continues.
But while Senate Democrats are preparing to give the green light to the budget decision in a procedural vote that may take place this week, moderates in the party have expressed strong reservations about the total cost, raising the possibility that the file will be subject to difficult negotiations.