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Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) walks near the Senate Chamber during a vote at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 7. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is warning that he could vote against the $3.5 trillion budget package if more money isn’t added for housing assistance to close the racial wealth gap in the current House version of the bill, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Warner’s threat is another indication that the proposal will face a variety of obstacles before the House and Senate can agree to a top-line number, how that money is spent on specific programs — and how to pay for it all.

  • "As currently written, this proposal falls short,” Warner said in a statement to Axios about the House provisions on housing assistance.
  • Warner, a member of the Budget Committee who helped negotiate the $3.5 trillion number in the Senate, is taking issue with the amount of funding for first-time homebuyers in the House, which he thinks is around $600 million.
  • “I will be working in the Senate to make the American dream of homeownership and wealth creation more accessible to historically disadvantaged communities.”

The big picture: House and Senate committees are drafting specific legislation to raise $1.5 trillion in new revenues and spend some $3.5 trillion to expand the social safety net, including a variety of new programs from universal preschool to free community college to new money for housing and rental assistance.

  • The top line numbers could dramatically change, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) telling CNN’s Dana Bash that the $3.5 trillion package will “not have my vote.”
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also told the same program that Manchin's refusal to support the $3.5 trillion plan was "absolutely not acceptable to me."
  • "I don't think it's acceptable to the president, for the American people, or the overwhelming majority of the people in the Democratic caucus,” he added.

Between the lines: Warner had negotiated a private agreement in the Senate for billions of dollars for down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers and to give them new tools — including a 20-year federal mortgage — to help them build equity in their home.

  • Warner's focus is on racial equity: “We have an obligation to use this historic investment to address longstanding inequities of power and opportunity that have left Black families with an average net worth one-10th the size of their white counterparts."

The other side: The House version of the bill does include $10 billion for first-time, first-generation homebuyers, according to a fact sheet from the House Financial Services Committee.

  • It allocates $500 million for Warner's 20-year mortgage proposal, known as LIFT.

Go deeper: Manchin has privately warned the White House and congressional leaders that he has specific policy concerns with President Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending dream — and he'll support as little as $1 trillion of it.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information about provisions in the House bill to help first-time homebuyers.

Go deeper

Sep 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate offices closing ahead of "Justice for J6" demonstration

Security fencing outside the U.S. Capitol ahead of a planned "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C.. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Multiple congressional offices will be closed Friday amid security precautions ahead of Saturday's rally in support of jailed Jan. 6 rioters, aides who have been instructed to work remotely tell Axios.

Why it matters: As the U.S. Capitol faces its first large-scale security test since the deadly attack, House and Senate offices are taking precautionary measures to protect staff as well as lawmakers.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.

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