Update (0820ET): The ink on the amended budget bill passed by the Senate early Wednesday has barely dried, yet W.Va. Sen. Joe Manchin is already setting the tone for what's expected to be a fraught negotiation before Dems can push the final, completed budget, through more critical votes later this year.
Manchin told reporters after the bill passed following an all-night series of debates and votes on amendments that he had "serious concerns" about the "grave consequences...if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion."
"Given the current state of the economic recovery, it is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or Great Recession – not an economy that is on the verge of overheating," Manchin said.
He added that "irresponsible levels of spending" could negatively impact the United States' ability to react to "unforeseen consequences."
"I urge my colleagues to seriously consider this reality as this budget process unfolds in the coming weeks and months," Manchin said.
That Manchin is "uncomfortable" with the $3.5 trillion price tag isn't exactly a surprise: h e has previously raised concerns about the debt and the prospects of even ore inflationary pressures (highlighted once again in this morning's CPI report).
But Manchin's latest statement, coming hours after Dems' wrapped up debate and passed the budget bill, seems to confirm that Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has a difficult road ahead. Schumer needs every member of his 50-member caucus to vote in favor of the final bill for it to pass. Fellow Democratic moderate Kyrsten Sinema has already signaled that she can't support the price tag and will try to shrink the package in the months ahead, setting her on a collision course with Democrat progressives in the Senate and the House.
* * *
Just hours after passing the a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package during a "bipartisan" vote, Chuck Schumer and the rest of the Democrats regrouped for another session of all-night debate on a series of proposed amendments, before eventually passing President Biden's $3.5 trillion budget blueprint in a party-line vote, 50-49 (Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota was the lone absentee).
What has been characterized as Biden's "stimulus" budget expands health-care, infrastructure, immigration jobs, housing, education, and climate (for a copy of the bill and a rundown on its contents, see here). To be sure, the final bill looks slightly different, after 47 amendments were voted on and 28 were adopted during the all-night "vote-a-rama" that lasted into the early morning hours on Wednesday, when the final vote was finally taken.
The budget bill includes the rest of President Biden's $4 trillion economic agenda, setting in motion "the largest expansion of the federal safety net in nearly six decades" according to the NYT".
Among other things, it will expand Medicare to include dental, health and vision benefits, fund Dems' climate change agenda, as well as free prekindergarten and community college - partially offset by higher taxes on the wealthy, businesses and corporations (though a Republican amendment shielding small businesses from increased taxes was also passed).
As a reminder, Wednesday's budget resolution includes few details about the ultimate spending plan: instead it consists of broad top-lines that committees will use to start formally drafting their bills. The final package is approved during the reconciliation process, which isn't expected until late September.
Here's an example of one provision that hasn't been fully fleshed out: Democrats included a provision in the budget resolution for “lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants” and border security measures, but they haven’t specified who would qualify, providing the Judiciary Committee with only a price tag, but no guidance on what they should include in it.
Passing the budget resolution is only the beginning of a long process, and Democratic unity on the final package isn't guaranteed: Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has raised concerns about the price tag and West Virginia's Joe Manchin has expressed concerns both about the debt and some of the energy language. It could take months for Dems' to negotiate a final package that garners the support of Democrats. Schumer is pushing for initial drafts of their legislation by Sept. 15.
The NYT wrote that during the vote-a-rama, Republicans "pelted" Democrats with "politically freighted" amendments. After a total of more than 14 hours of votes, 28 amendments were eventually passed, including a ban on "critical race theory", votes to create new law enforcement positions and officially oppose measures to defund the police. Other amendments adopted include calling on the IRS to respect the privacy of small businesses, opposing a fracking ban, supporting improvement of internet service in Cuba, and support for withholding grants for cities that defund the police. Adopted amendments also opposed penalties for state or local governents to cut taxes,
BREAKING: The Senate has voted 50-49 to pass @SenTomCotton's amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used to promote critical race theory in K-12 schools.— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) August 11, 2021
The fight against CRT has gone national—and Sen. Cotton is leading the way.pic.twitter.com/6MpA8hDhpb
Perhaps the biggest of the Republican amendments included a ban on "critical race theory", votes to create new law enforcement positions and officially oppose measures to defund the police
Schumer praised the budget as the result of "many labors".
"Democrats have labored for months to reach this point, and there are many labors to come,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader. "But I can say with absolute certainty that it will be worth doing."
Republicans immediately attacked the budget as a reckless and unnecessary increase in spending that could cripple America's already stretched financial position.
"People want to pretend this is just business as usual — just liberals doing liberal things using Senate procedure," said Minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "Make no mistake. This reckless taxing and spending spree is like nothing we’ve seen."
The House plans to take up the bill during the week of Aug 23. The budget must be passed by the entire chamber before a reconciliation bill can be approved in late September.
Readers can find the 92-page budget resolution below: