Listen to 97.3 KIRO Newsradio: NOW! Seahawks vs. Raiders gameday coverage

As Senate debates Dems’ $3.5T budget, GOP launches attacks

Aug 9, 2021, 9:08 AM | Updated: Aug 10, 2021, 9:57 pm
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, walks towards the Senate floor as t...

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, walks towards the Senate floor as the Senate moves from passage of the infrastructure bill to focus on a massive $3.5 trillion budget resolution, a blueprint of President Joe Biden's top domestic policy ambitions, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats pushed their expansive $3.5 trillion framework for bolstering family services, health, and environment programs toward Senate passage early Wednesday, as Republicans unleashed an avalanche of amendments aimed at making their rivals pay a price in next year’s elections.

Congressional approval of the budget resolution, which seems assured, would mark a crucial first step by Democrats toward enacting the heart of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda. It would open the door to a follow-up measure aiming the government’s fiscal might at assisting families, creating jobs and fighting climate change, with higher taxes on the wealthy and big companies footing much of the bill.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., once a progressive voice in Congress’ wilderness and now a national figure with legislative clout, said the measure would help children, families, the elderly and working people — and more.

“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.

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 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “But we will debate. We will vote.”

Budget resolution passage is critical because in the 50-50 Senate, it would let Democrats alone approve a subsequent bill actually enacting their $3.5 trillion in spending and tax policies over the next decade. Approval of the budget would shield the follow-on legislation from Republican filibusters, procedural delays that kill bills.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, No. 2 House Democratic leader, announced Tuesday that the chamber would return from recess Aug. 23 to vote on that blueprint and perhaps other measures. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has praised the budget resolution.

The Senate turned to the budget minutes after it approved the other big chunk of Biden’s objectives, a compromise $1 trillion bundle of transportation, water, broadband and other infrastructure projects. That measure, passed 69-30 with McConnell among the 19 Republicans backing it, now needs House approval.

In contrast, every Republican present was opposed as the Senate voted 50-49 to begin considering the budget. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., missed the roll call to be with his ailing wife.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., assured progressives that Congress will pursue sweeping initiatives going beyond the infrastructure compromise. It was a nod to divisions between the party’s moderates and liberals that he and Pelosi will have to resolve before Congress can approve their fiscal goals. Democrats also control the House but only narrowly.

“To my colleagues who are concerned that this does not do enough on climate, for families, and making corporations and the rich pay their fair share: We are moving on to a second track, which will make a generational transformation in these areas,” Schumer said.

In a budget ritual, senators plunged into a “vote-a-rama,” a nonstop parade of messaging amendments that often becomes a painful all-night ordeal. The Senate had held roll calls on more than two dozen of them as midnight came and went, more than 10 hours after the wretchedness began.

With the budget resolution largely advisory only, the goal of most amendments was not to win but to force the other party’s vulnerable senators to cast troublesome votes that can be used against them in next year’s elections for congressional control.

Republicans crowed after Democrats opposed GOP amendments calling for the full-time reopening of pandemic-shuttered schools, boosting the Pentagon’s budget and retaining limits on federal income tax deductions for state and local levies. Those deduction caps are detested by lawmakers from upper-income, mostly Democratic states.

Republicans were also happy when Democrats opposed restricting IRS access to some financial records, which McConnell’s office said would prompt political “witch hunts,” and when Democrats showed support for Biden’s now suspended ban on oil and gas leasing on federal lands, which Republicans said would prompt gasoline price increases.

One amendment may have boomeranged after the Senate voted 99-0 for a proposal by freshman Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., to block federal funds for any municipalities that defund the police. That idea has been rejected by all but the most progressive Democrats, but Republicans have persistently accused them anyway of backing it.

In an animated, sardonic rejoinder, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., 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.”

Republicans claimed one victory with potential long-term implications when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined them in approving, 50-49, nonbinding language indicating support for health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions.

The budget blueprint envisions creating new programs including tuition-free pre-kindergarten and community college, paid family leave and a Civilian Climate Corps whose workers would tackle environmental projects. Millions of immigrants in the U.S. 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.

Besides higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, Democrats envision savings 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.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Small plane caught in power lines after crash, passengers OK

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) — A small plane carrying at least two people got stuck in live power lines Sunday evening in Maryland, causing widespread power outages in the surrounding county as officials tried to extricate the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the single-engine plane, which had departed White Plains, N.Y., […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. walks on the sideline during a NFL division...
Associated Press

NFL free agent Odell Beckham Jr. taken off plane in Miami

MIAMI (AP) — NFL free agent Odell Beckham Jr. was removed by police from an aircraft before takeoff at Miami International Airport after officials said he failed to respond to requests to buckle his seatbelt and appeared to be unconscious, police and airline officials said Sunday. “Fearing that Mr. Beckham was seriously ill, and that […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Landslide kills at least 14 at funeral in Cameroon’s capital

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — A landslide during a funeral ceremony in Cameroon’s capital on Sunday has left at least 14 people dead, the regional governor said. Dozens of others were missing as rescue crews dug through the rubble with flashlights. Centre Regional Gov. Naseri Paul Bea told the Cameroonian national broadcaster CRTV that the search […]
2 days ago
People gather at the capital's main square, the Zócalo, as they listen to Mexican President André...
Associated Press

Mexico’s López Obrador leads massive pro-government march

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Mexico’s capital Sunday in a show of support for President Manuel López Obrador, who before assuming the presidency had led some of the country’s biggest protests. The “people’s march” marked four years in office for the leftist leader and was a response to a […]
2 days ago
This photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James in Centur...
Associated Press

Colorado shooting victim ‘wanted to save the family I found’

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A member of the U.S. Navy who was injured while helping prevent further harm during a shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado last weekend said Sunday that he “simply wanted to save the family that I found.” Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James made his first public comments on […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

NY sergeant hailed for aiding at 2017 birth helps at another

SHIRLEY, N.Y. (AP) — A group of police officers who helped deliver a baby at a Long Island home over the weekend included a sergeant who helped another newborn take his first breath five years ago. This time, Suffolk County Sgt. Jon-Erik Negron joined officers Conor Diemer, Jadin Rodriguez and Zachary Vormittag after a woman […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
As Senate debates Dems’ $3.5T budget, GOP launches attacks