Jul 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget deal sets up next phase of climate push

A $100 bill.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Senate Democrats' new deal on a budget outline sets the stage for their fraught effort to seek unprecedented clean energy spending and incentives.

Driving the news: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Budget Committee members on Wednesday night announced an agreement to try to steer $3.5 trillion into Medicare, climate, education and other priorities.

Why it matters: The preliminary deal is a precursor crafting a "reconciliation" package of programs — such as expanded tax breaks for renewable power, new electric vehicle incentives and more — that's immune from filibuster.

The intrigue: The $3.5 trillion figure is lower than the $6 trillion Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders and other progressive Democrats wanted, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

Quick take: Initial comments last night from progressive Senate Democrats nonetheless praised the package — an early sign that the topline spending is enough to satisfy climate-focused Senate members. But specifics are still absent.

What they're saying: Sanders pointed to extreme weather events in the west as he touted the compromise.

  • He warned that absent a transition from fossil fuels, "the planet we're going to be leaving our children and our grandchildren will be increasingly unhealthy, and uninhabitable."
  • "Today, we begin the process of having this great country lead the world in transforming our energy system," Sanders added.
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse signaled approval in a tweet that notes the combined tally for the Democrats' plan and the bipartisan infrastructure framework.

What's next: The uncertain process of getting moderate and progressive Democrats alike to vote for the budget outline and the substantive reconciliation package that will be crafted in multiple committees.

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