US Democrats reveal massive $3.5 tn spending blueprint

US Democrats reveal massive $3.5 trillion spending blueprint

The 10-year budget blueprint pushes Congress towards the next step in President Joe Biden's ambitious vision for his first term in office

A huge infrastructure bill deemed historic by US President Joe Biden passed a key procedural hurdle the day before, with enough Republican senators joining Democrats to make its final passage in the upper chamber appear nearly certain. Credit: AFP Photo

US lawmakers on Monday laid out a $3.5 trillion budget framework, calling it the "most consequential" social spending plan since the 1930s, and launching what are expected to be tough congressional negotiations over the programs it covers.

The 10-year budget blueprint pushes Congress towards the next step in President Joe Biden's ambitious vision for his first term in office, following on the heels of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, which the Senate is expected to approved Tuesday before sending it to the House of Representatives.

The dollar amount is staggering, almost matching the size of Germany's economy in 2020.

The budget resolution "will be the most consequential piece of legislation for working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor since FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and the New Deal of the 1930s," said independent Senator Bernie Sanders, chair of the Budget Committee.

"It will also put the US in a global leadership position to combat climate change and make our planet healthy and habitable for future generations," he wrote.

The spending plan published Monday includes funding for climate measures, new investments in infrastructure including items left out of the targeted Senate package, residency status for millions of migrant workers, and two years paid tuition at public universities.

Senators have until September 15 to submit their amendments.

The Democratic majority in Congress plans to pass the package through a mechanism known as "reconciliation" which will allow them to adopt the final text by a simple majority in the Senate, without votes from Republicans who are fiercely opposed to it.

Congress must approve the final spending bills by September 30 to prevent a government shutdown, or extend the current year's budget into the new fiscal year while debate continues.

But while Senate Democrats are ready to give the green light to the budget resolution in a procedural vote as early as this week, moderates in the party have expressed strong reservations about the total price tag, which means tough negotiations are likely.

Crucially, the resolution does not include an increase in the US federal debt ceiling.

This could mean another big battle in Congress to avoid default, as the Democrats will need Republicans to raise the borrowing limit, but opposition leaders have so far said they are against it.