Democrats say they have the votes to advance $3.5T budget measure
Senate Democrats say they have the votes needed to pass a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, which would green light a massive spending measure packed with President Biden ’s top legislative priorities.
In addition to the $1.2 trillion bipartisan deal currently being debated by the Senate, Democrats are expected to try to pass a $3.5 trillion bill along party lines through a budget process that lets them bypass a GOP filibuster.
In order to do that, they first need to pass a budget resolution that will include the top-line figure and instructions for crafting the Democratic-only bill, which will require total unity from all 50 members of the Democratic caucus.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking from the floor, said Democrats were "on track" to pass both before leaving for a weeks-long August break.
“In order to start work on a reconciliation bill, the Senate must pass a budget resolution first. And we are on track for that as well," Schumer said.
Schumer's update comes after the Senate, with the support of 17 GOP senators, agreed to take up a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal. Because the text of the agreement is still being finalized, the Senate is advancing a shell bill that they will swap the language into once it is finished.
Senators are warning that debate of the bipartisan deal could eat up a week or two of floor time, with Republicans pushing for a robust amendment process.
But after, or if, they pass the bipartisan bill, Democrats are expected to turn to the budget resolution. Schumer said they have the 50 votes needed to avoid a filibuster.
“I’m proud of my Democratic caucus, every one of them voting yesterday for this [bipartisan] bill and all pledging to go forward on the second track as well," Schumer said referring to the budget resolution.
Schumer, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Budget Committee Democrats announced earlier this month that they had agreed to a $3.5 trillion price tag for the budget resolution and subsequent spending package.
Sanders told reporters that he expects to have 50 votes from the Democratic caucus for the budget resolution, which he predicted to come to the floor next week.
"As I understand it, next week we're going to have 50 votes in order to pass a 3 1/2 trillion dollar budget resolution," he said.
A key group of moderate senators hasn't committed to supporting the massive spending package itself, which will include top party priorities including immigration reform, expanding Medicare and combating climate change. The Senate isn't expected to vote on that bill until at least September, and Democrats have warned it could slip beyond that.
But they are signaling they will vote to take up the budget resolution to get the process started.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has said he will vote to start debate. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told reporters on Wednesday that he supported moving forward with the budget resolution and described himself as open to the details.
"I'm looking. I'm not saying whether I can or I can't," he said.
And while Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said Wednesday that she doesn't support a $3.5 trillion price tag on the eventual bill, she added that she has "made clear that ... I will support beginning this process."