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US Senate greenlights $3.5 trillion Budget plan

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A budget resolution allows the Democrats who narrowly control the Senate to circumvent blocking tactics from Republicans that otherwise require 60 votes to overcome in the 100-seat chamber, rather than a simple majority. AFP

US Senate greenlights $3.5 trillion Budget plan

The US Senate early on August 11 approved a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that would greatly expand social spending with major investments in health, education and tackling climate change.

The measure passed 50-49 along party lines after a marathon “vote-a-rama” session of amendment votes.

Democratic leaders intend to push the package through over the coming months using a fast-track process known as reconciliation that allows budget-related legislation to pass by simple majority in the Senate rather than the usual 60 votes.

The 10-year budget blueprint pushes Congress toward the next step in President Joe Biden’s ambitious vision for his first term in office and follows on the heels of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, which the Senate approved in a bipartisan vote on August 10 and which now moves to the House of Representatives.

It was largely written by independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who has called it the “most consequential” social spending plan since president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s in response to the Great Depression.

The spending plan 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 of paid tuition at public universities.

Senators have until September 15 to submit their amendments.

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