The Senate approved a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget spending plan early Wednesday that aims to fund many top Democratic priorities, including expanding Medicare, addressing climate change, and improving education.
The chamber voted 50 to 49, along party lines, to pass the substantial budget framework that covers the bulk of President Joe Biden‘s economic plan.
The Senate budget committee chairman largely responsible for the bill’s contents, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has called the resolution “the most consequential piece of legislation” for working families since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s.
The budget resolution is wide-reaching, and includes investments for paid family and medical leave, universal pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, cybersecurity infrastructure improvements, upgrades for Veterans Affairs facilities, a tax cut for Americans making less than $400,000 a year and for Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits while lowering the eligibility ages.
Democrats in the chamber said the plan would be paid for by increasing taxes on high-income earners, healthcare savings and its impact on spurring long-term economic growth. Families making less than $400,000 a year, small businesses and family farms will not be subject to the higher taxes.
“Today, we move this country in a very different direction,” Sanders said from the Senate floor. “The American people want a government which represents all of us and not just a few, and this legislation is going to ask the wealthiest people in our country to start paying their fair share of taxes so we can address the needs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.”
Democrats seek to pass the spending plan through an expedited budget reconciliation process that would allow them to bypass Republicans and the 60-vote threshold usually required. Democrats have already used the process this year to pass legislation, including the American Rescue Plan in March.
The Senate approval for the spending plan came just hours after it passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and sent it over to the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said previously that the chamber wouldn’t take up the proposal until it, and the spending plan, were both passed by the Senate.