Democratic Senators on the budget committee agreed to the framework for a wide-ranging $3.5 trillion reconciliation package to supplement the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mark Warner, D-Va., met with President Joe Biden Tuesday evening at the White House and finalized the framework.
“Every major program that President Biden has asked us for is funded in a robust way,” Schumer said while speaking Tuesday evening. “And we are making some additions to that. Most important, something that Senator Sanders has led, and convinced America is so important, which is a robust expansion of Medicare, including money for dental, vision and hearing.”
In addition to the expansion of medicare, the framework of the reconciliation package also includes funding programs for low income Americans and initiatives for climate change. The $3.5 trillion cost covers the “human infrastructure” Biden was unable to get included in the bipartisan deal. The reconciliation bill will likely be paid for with tax hikes for corporations.
Sanders, an independent Senator who caucuses with Democrats, called the framework a “big deal” and outlined some of the key objectives in the package.
“All over America…wherever it may be, your mom and dad going to work but they can’t afford childcare; they’re scared to death about whether or not they can afford to send their kids to college: and they go to work over a bridge which is crumbling,” Sanders said. “What this legislation does is says we’re going to create millions of good paying union jobs rebuilding this country not only from a physical infrastructure, but dealing with the human needs of our people which are many, and which have long been neglected.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki praised the framework Wednesday at a briefing.
“What we’ve seen come out as the current framework is reflective of the President’s priorities, both what was in his budget, what was in his American Families Plan and also what were the components that were left out of the bipartisan agreement that was in the American Jobs Plan,” Psaki said “We certainly recognize there are additional steps to come, as we said, that’s why he’s up on the hill and we feel this is working as it should.”
Psaki also stated that Biden intends to sign both the reconciliation package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, saying that the two bills are still on a “dual track.”
Midday Wednesday Biden was at the Capitol having lunch with Democratic Senators speaking on the reconciliation framework.
“Great to be back with my colleagues, I think we’re going to get a lot done,” Biden said as he left the lunch.
Both the reconciliation package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill are still far from passing. The reconciliation package will require 50 votes and the bipartisan bill will require 60 votes to pass. Because the Senate is split 50-50, Biden must get the support of every Democratic Senator to pass the reconciliation package.
The proposed reconciliation bill also comes at the risk of killing the bipartisan bill, as Republicans have indicated hesitancy to supporting the bill if a reconciliation package is also passed.
Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., blasted the reconciliation deal but also indicated it was unexpected at a press conference Wednesday.
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone because Bernie Sanders has not hidden the fact that he is a socialist,” Barrasso said. “He does want socialism in America. He is fully in on this, and the Democrats are proposing to spend money like it’s monopoly money.”
Now that the frameworks for both the reconciliation package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill have been introduced, the fight to get them passed through Congress begins for Biden. Psaki conveyed that this is only the beginning for the White House on Wednesday.
“He’s going to engage, he’s going to advocate with members, he’s going to advocate with the American people and communicate and sell the package about why it needs to move forward,” Psaki said.
This article was originally posted on Democrats ready for battle on reconciliation package