Senate Democrats unveil $3.5 trillion budget measure

Washington — Senate Democrats released a budget resolution Monday that maps $3.5 trillion in spending boosts and tax breaks aimed at strengthening social and environmental programs, setting up an autumn battle over President Biden’s domestic policy ambitions.

The 92-page measure lays the groundwork for legislation later this year that over a decade would pour mountains of federal resources into their top priorities. Included would be more money for health care, education, family services and environmental programs and tax breaks for families, with much of it paid for with tax increases on the rich and corporations.

“At its core, this legislation is about restoring the middle class in the 21st Century and giving more Americans the opportunity to get there,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to colleagues.

The measure’s introduction marks the start of a long legislative trek through Congress of legislation that Democrats hope will result this fall in a progressive reshaping of government. To succeed, they’ll have to overcome likely unanimous Republican opposition and find the sweet spot between the demands of their own often antagonist progressive and moderate factions.

The budget resolution is the second part of Democrats’ “two-track” strategy to pass their major domestic priorities. The Senate is currently considering a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is supported by members of both parties, and cleared a procedural hurdle Sunday night that tees up a vote on final passage early this week.

The resolution calls for creating free pre-Kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds and two years of free community college; extending tax breaks for children and some low-income workers; and establishing paid family and sick leave.

Medicare coverage would be expanded to cover dental, hearing and vision benefits. Spending would increase for housing, home health care and job training, and new resources would go to efforts encouraging a faster transition to clean energy.

To pay for the plans, taxes would be raised on wealthy people and large corporations, without any increases on people earning under $400,000 a year, a key Biden campaign pledge. The budget also calls for reducing the prices the federal government pays for pharmaceuticals it buys for Medicare recipients, a long-time goal of Democrats who want the government to be allowed to negotiate those prices.