In the early hours of this morning, Senate Democrats passed a budget measure clearing the way for them to advance a hyper-partisan $3.5 trillion spending plan in coming weeks. This spending blueprint was released just one day prior. 

My colleague Carrie Sheffield provided a must-read overview of the plan yesterday which includes social and climate initiatives such as universal Pre-K, a paid family and medical leave plan, tax-payer-subsidized community college for two years, expansions in Medicare, more infrastructure spending, and major climate change spending. 

The big takeaway is that Democrats are aggressively pursuing the Biden-and-Bernie agenda that empowers the federal government to remake the economy in a way that will slow growth, accelerate inflation, stifle free enterprise, and boost government dependency.

What’s happened and what’s next

The Senate wrapped up 14 hours of amendment votes on the $3.5 trillion framework—which is not the actual spending bill but a plan of priorities and spending amounts the spending bill should include—with a 50-49 vote along party lines. The U.S. House of Representatives must approve the budget blueprint to start the reconciliation process. The House will now reportedly return from its current August recess early in order to vote during the week of August 23 on the budget framework.

Over a dozen committees in the House and Senate will then get to work crafting what will be the final spending bill. This spending bill requires only a simple majority to pass in the Senate, rather than the typical 60-vote threshold. The committees responsible for writing the bill have until September 15 (potentially a flexible deadline) to produce their pieces of the package, which would then be bundled together for floor debate as a single bill. Both chambers would then vote on the final bill before it could head to President Biden’s desk for signature. This process is likely to go well into the fall.

The odds of passing

This plan faces an uphill battle, but we should not take it for granted that it won’t get passed nor that it will.

In the House, a slim majority means that a few Democratic defections could sink the budget resolution (granted no Republicans support it). Those on the far left are already saying $3.5 trillion is not enough:

The $3.5 trillion in the Democrat-led budget resolution making its way through the Senate right now is much closer to what we need, but it still doesn’t go far enough.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.)

In the Senate, every Democratic senator must vote for the final bill or it’s done. This gives the two or three moderate Democrats great power to reshape the bill. However, far-left members are going to fight to ensure that their leftist priorities are not sacrificed to retain the support of their more moderate colleagues. This creates a delicate dance that will play out in the coming weeks.

While infrastructure is done on the Senate side, the biggest aspect of the Biden agenda is this spending plan that fulfills the far left’s wishlist. We can expect the White House to step in and add pressure to get this done.

More massive spending is likely on the way

Keeping our fiscal house in order is something that Washington must get back to. The hardships of the pandemic, which prompted relief spending, are largely over. With rising inflation, 10 million unfilled jobs, and an economy adding nearly one million jobs last month, there is no justification for more federal spending on priorities that will overheat the economy, drive inflation, and add to our national debt.  

More moderate liberals in Washington recognize this. However, when it comes to the final spending bill, there’s no certainty that they would be willing to cut much spending. We don’t know whether it will be a huge hack or a little chop. Here’s what conservatives are saying according to Politico:

There’s going to be a lot of pressure on them. I think there’s going to be a lot of talk about it… Kyrsten wants to bring the size of it down. What’s down? $100 million? $1 trillion?

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)

Washington is bent on spending massively to enact socialist policies that would change our economy, our nation—and not for good.