Updated Aug 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats pass $3.5 trillion budget resolution

Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Democrats passed their $3.5 trillion budget resolution early on Tuesday — without any Republican votes.

Why it matters: The budget lays the groundwork for Democrat-led committees to begin drafting sections of a massive spending bill that would mark the biggest expansion of America's social safety net in generations.

  • But this is just the beginning. Now that the budget resolution has passed the Senate, it will take weeks, if not months, for Democrats in both chambers to negotiate and draft the final product.
  • Final passage of the $3.5 trillion spending bill, which will require all 50 Democratic senators to sign on, will likely not come until the fall.

Between the lines: Democrats' plans to ram through the rest of their priorities through a one-party reconciliation bill could eliminate the goodwill built up between the two sides during negotiations on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan “hard” infrastructure package, which passed just hours before the budget vote.

Behind the scenes: The process of passing the budget resolution moved fairly quickly.

  • Senators were eager to get out of town for August recess, having already lost several days due to the debate over the bipartisan infrastructure package.
  • Republicans made clear early on they were willing to give back several hours of debate in exchange for an early start to "vote-a-rama" — the long and largely political process of forcing difficult votes on amendments for substantial legislation.
  • The goal of the minority during a vote-a-rama is to make passage of the bill as painful as possible, and also force senators to go on the record on certain issues that could be used in campaign messaging down the line.
  • But members are already worn out after multiple long days and late nights dealing with the other infrastructure bill.

What’s next: Democratic senators and their staff on the relevant committees will use their recess to begin drafting sections of the mammoth reconciliation bill.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made clear he wants the committees to submit their first drafts of legislation by Sept. 15.
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