Politics Democrats land on $3.5 trillion budget agreement
Infrastructure bill: Schumer and Pelosi face leadership test as legislative push kicks into high gear
Democrats will face a critical month on infrastructure in July as they reckon with deep schisms in their ranks and questions over legislative strategy and policy specifics of a bill the party wants to position itself with ahead of the midterm elections. © Alex Wong/Getty Images North America/Getty Images U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speak to members of the press after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the U.S. Capitol August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Senate Democrats said they have reached a $3.5 trillion budget agreement. This is the first step inthat Democrats plan to use to pass many of President Joe Biden's American Families Plan priorities with a simple majority of votes.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this budget package, coupled with the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being negotiated amongst members, comes "very, very close" to what Biden asked for when he laid out his families plan.
"Every major program that President Biden asked us for is funded in a robust way," Schumer said. "In addition we are making some additions to that."
Senate Democrats Split on Spending as Biden Meets Sanders
President Joe Biden met with Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders on Monday as Democratic lawmakers wrangled to find consensus on legislation designed to carry most of Biden’s $4 trillion longer-term economic agenda. © Bloomberg Senate Democrats Split on Spending as Biden Meets Sanders “My job is to do everything I can to see the Senate comes forward with the strongest possible legislation to protect the needs of the working families of this country,” Sanders told reporters after meeting with Biden at the White House. “I think we are on the same page,” he said of Biden.
On the heels of this announcement, Schumer said the president will join Senate Democrats for their caucus lunch Wednesday to discuss the plan with lawmakers.
Schumer announced the package alongside members of the Budget Committee, though it's still not certain that all Democrats will support the measure. Unanimous support will be necessary to pass the bill.
The package will be, according to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., fully paid for. He did not give details on how the reconciliation bill will be funded, but Democrats have favored a hike in corporate tax rates, not unlike the one Biden originally proposed.
"There are times for really big things, this is one of those times," Warner said. "The plan we've put together, which is fully paid for, will make the investments in American families, will take on the existential threat of climate change in a way that will meet the needs, leading the world on this critical issue."
Democrats reach deal on $3.5T price tag for infrastructure bill
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Budget Committee Democrats, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have reached a deal on a $3.5 trillion price tag for a Democratic-only infrastructure package.Schumer, emerging from an hours-long meeting with Budget Committee Democrats, said they had reached a deal on the budget resolution - which greenlights reconciliation, the process Democrats will use to bypass a GOP filibuster on the infrastructure bill - including a $3.5 trillion top-line figure. President Biden is going to meet with Senate Democrats on Wednesday as Democrats work to lock down support for the deal. "The budget committee has come to an agreement.
The $3.5 trillion topline still falls short of the $6 trillion that Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders had been hoping for, but Schumer announced Tuesday night that the reconciliation instructions include a "robust expansion" of Medicare, something that has been a longstanding priority for Sanders.
"This is in our a view a pivotal moment in American history," Sanders said. "For a very long time the American people have seen the very rich getting richer and government developing policies which allow them to pay in some cases not a nickel. What this legislation says among many many other things is that those days are gone. The wealthy and large corporations are going to start paying their fair share of taxes so we can protect the working families of this country."
Senate Democrats have long said they intend to use a process called reconciliation, which allows them to sidestep the usual 60-vote threshold and pass legislation with a simple majority, to pass parts of Biden's infrastructure agenda that are not addressed in the separate bipartisan infrastructure deal.
Senate Democrats reach $3.5 trillion deal for Biden's 'human infrastructure' agenda, Medicare expansion
The package would expand Medicare benefits, fight climate change and target other "human infrastructure" priorities not part of a separate proposal.After a lengthy meeting among Democrats on the Senate’s Budget Committee, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, N.Y., announced the agreement for a budget reconciliation package that would fund what Biden has called "human infrastructure.
The bipartisan infrastructure plan is also at a critical juncture as that group of senators works to publish the text of their $1.2 trillion legislation -- something negotiators do not expect will happen this week. But once that bill is made public, there's a serious-- whether the proposed revenue will actually cover the $600 billion in new spending.
Sen., R-Utah, raised a red flag Tuesday saying that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – which provides lawmakers with a "score," or price tag, for legislation based on proposed spending and revenue -- cannot price out or "score" some of the ways negotiators propose to pay for the bill.
The first way that can't be scored is the plan to raise money from beefed up IRS enforcement. The bipartisan group of 10 senators, of which Romney is a part, has estimated that for $40 billion of investment in going after those who do not pay, that would net $100 billion in return.
Romney said the CBO has not traditionally issued an official "score" on such matters, which could spell danger for Republicans who are already wary of beefing up a federal agency which has proved politically controversial in the past.
Daily on Energy: Democrats push to impose carbon tariffs
Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with what's going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $1.00 an issue! © Provided by Washington Examiner DOE Default Image - July 2021 CARBON TARIFFS: Senate Democrats are proposing to impose tariffs on carbon-intensive imports to help pay for their $3.5 trillion tax and spending infrastructure proposal, in a surprising move that opens up a web of complex questions.
"The CBO won't score that because they say, 'Well, the government's entitled to all of its tax revenue, so you can't get a score for actually getting more of it," Romney told reporters.
"Generally, the CBO's assessment of tax gaps is that they do not rely on them for scoring purposes and I would presume that would be the case here. But we recognize that there were some things that we saw as a source of revenue that the CBO might not be able to score."
But Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is leading the bipartisan effort along with Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, told ABC News in an interview that the CBO is expected to give an estimate of revenue from the tax-gap proposal, though it would not be an official score.
"They will separately analyze it and they will give us, not the official score, but they'll give us an analysis, which we've relied on in the past," Portman said.
A group of 22 senators, including the 10 who crafted the original package and 12 other Democrats and Republicans who initially signed on to support it, huddled in the Capitol for two hours on Tuesday evening over dinner, wine and cannoli. Several lawmakers touted significant progress in negotiations toward the final bill text, but there remains disagreement among them on how to pay for the bipartisan package, especially with the CBO score hanging in the balance.
On The Money: Five questions for Democrats on their $3.5T budget | Retail sales rebound in June despite rising prices
Happy Friday and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.See something I missed? Let me know at email@example.com or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.Write to us with tips, suggestions and news: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane and @NJagoda.THE BIG DEAL-Five questions for Democrats on their $3.5T budget: Key Senate Democrats this week reached an agreement on a $3.
The senators have set a Thursday deadline to work out their remaining differences.
"I think that's our next real goal is to try to get something done so we can show some positive results," Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said of the Thursday deadline.
Still, several negotiators left Tuesday's meeting conceding that the deadline is a "tall order."
Republican Whip John Thune said that if the CBO returns a score that reflects a bill that is not fully paid for, it could spook some of his members.
"It makes it harder," the senator from South Dakota said. "I think some of our members would be open to perhaps some amount of debt financing but the majority I think would have to be paid for in a critical way which is a challenge that we've had since the beginning of this."
But for some Republicans, the CBO score is not a deciding factor.
"It's less crucial for me. I'd like most of it to be paid for," said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., part of a separate larger group of 20 negotiators who are part of a consensus-minded group seeking compromises on a number of measures. "I'm willing to accept some things that won't score, like how much can be done on the private investment side."
"My test is -- is it paid for in my own mind?" Romney said. "Will we be able to --to not add to the deficit? And I know there are some things that we're relying on as pay for's that will probably not receive a CBO score, but nonetheless are real. I think my colleagues will know that."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she agreed that the score should be considered, but is not a be-all-end-all.
Infrastructure push on rocky ground as key Senate test vote looms
It could all come together, or it could all fall apart. © Alex Wong/Getty Images Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) listens during a news briefing after a Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol July 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. Those are the stakes for President Joe Biden's infrastructure agenda as it faces a critical week in the Senate that could prove to be a make-or-break moment for both a bipartisan deal and a broader package to expand the social safety net that Democrats intend to move on a party-line vote.
"Are we all going to pass out if the score doesn't come out exactly the way we want? No," Murkowski said. "What we've been looking at is alright, is this something where we really missed or is this something where we can adjust?"
And though many Republicans support private investment in public works projects -- so-called public-private partnerships -- they could be concerned that the CBO is not expected to be able to put a revenue price tag on that either. It's something the group has estimated should bring in more than $100 billion.
But for Portman, he sees Republicans understanding that -- knowing that private investments provide leverage for public funding and often yield a profit down the road.
"You know there are differences between funding for social programs and funding for fixed assets into the future that are going to create more economic activity and help the economy, and that's what this is. This is not immediate funding. This is long term funding for fixed assets," Portman told ABC News.
Some Democrats in the bipartisan group have, throughout negotiations, said they want the infrastructure bill to be credibly paid for. Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, said the CBO score presents additional challenges in striking a deal.
"It's tough. This is -- this is tough," King said. "And part of the problem is that the CBO has some very conservative views about what they'll score."
Some dismissed concerns on Tuesday of a lower-than-planned estimate.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said he still has questions about how CBO will come to its final determination.
"I don't know what kind of math they use but it isn't the math that I learned in high school," Tester said.
And though Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell repeatedly over the recent two-week recess said he would be looking to see that the $1.2 trillion bipartisan plan is "credibly paid for," Portman, with whom McConnell is close, said he thinks the senator from Kentucky will understand the sparse nature of the eventual CBO analysis.
"He realizes this is infrastructure and is different than other things," said Portman, who added that he thinks -- despite the bumpy road to floor consideration -- the group will get the 10 Republicans necessary for final passage of the legislation, if every Democrat supports it.
"Ten? Oh yeah, for sure," Portman said.
The group of 22 is still projecting a positive outcome for the bipartisan bill.
"I mean, I'm optimistic that we're going to find a path forward," Rounds said. "People in there really are trying hard to listen to each other's concerns and find (a deal)."
Schumer to push Senate forward on bipartisan infrastructure bill, budget resolution this week .
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the Senate this week, and wants Democrats to agree on a budget bill.Also this week, Schumer wants Senate Democrats to agree to move forward with a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that they plan to pass without any Republican votes.