Democrats leave out debt ceiling hike from budget for $3.5T spending plan

Senate Democrats on Monday unveiled a budget blueprint that paves the way for a massive spending plan they want to pass without GOP support later this year.

The budget resolution, which includes instructions for how to draft the $3.5 trillion bill, does not include an increase to the debt ceiling.

Democrats can pass the budget resolution and the spending plan on their own if all 50 of their members stay unified, under a process known as reconciliation.

Republicans, bristling at the spending package, have warned that they won’t put up the 10 GOP votes needed to raise the debt ceiling outside of the budget process. Though the budget resolution can still be changed, the Democratic plan to leave it out paves the way for a massive fight this fall over the nation’s borrowing limit. 

Democrats want to pass the budget resolution this week, after the Senate wraps up its work on a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. Senate committees will then have until mid-September to write their parts of the $3.5 trillion bill, in what is expected to be a weeks-long haggling session to try to lock down support from all 50 Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to his caucus that the budget resolution was a starting point for the negotiations among Democrats over 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 to the caucus.

He added that the budget resolution “provides a target date of September 15th to the committees to submit their reconciliation legislation. We will work towards this goal and meet, as a caucus, during the week of the 15th to review the bill.”

The budget resolution includes instructions for 12 Senate committees to have a hand in drafting the $3.5 trillion spending plan. 

It also greenlights Democrats to include a slew of major priorities in their spending package later this fall including universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, expanding Medicare, providing “lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants” and clean energy technology.  

The details of the spending plan are expected to go through weeks of intense negotiations among Democrats as Schumer tries to work to lock down support from every member of his caucus.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has raised concerns about the price tag and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has sent warning signs over the debt. But any attempt to go smaller would likely spark fierce pushback from progressives in both chambers.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Budget Committee chairman, touted the budget resolution as setting up “the most consequential piece of legislation … since FDR and the New Deal of the 1930s.” 

“Now is the time for bold action. Now is the time to restore faith in ordinary Americans that their government can work for them, and not just wealthy campaign contributors,” he said in a statement.

Updated at 9:26 a.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders budget reconciliation budget resolution Charles Schumer Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema
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