Congressional Democrats announced an agreement on July 13 to a budget reconciliation bill expected to cost $3.5 trillion that prioritizes President Joe Biden’s “human infrastructure” initiatives. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says the proposal is “wildly out of proportion to what the country needs right now.”
Among the programs included in the proposal are Medicare expansion, multiple climate change policies, expansion of Biden’s child tax credit payments, free community college tuition, and national paid family leave.
In announcing the agreement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “Every major program President Biden has asked us for is funded robustly. We are very proud of this plan. We know we have a long road to go. We’re going to get this done for the sake of making average Americans’ lives a whole lot better.”
Republicans will not support the agreement but are expected to promote the second infrastructure bill, including traditional roads and bridges. Democrats decided to take a two-bill approach to reach a bipartisan deal on existing infrastructure while attempting a budget reconciliation approach to the bulk of their plan to avoid needing Republican support.
Republicans are highly critical of the wasteful spending proposals in the Democrats’ newly agreed “human infrastructure” plan and are signaling a possible withdrawal of support from the smaller traditional infrastructure bill.
McConnell commented further: “Just this morning, we learned that runaway inflation is continuing to hit working American families and hit them hard.
“Consumer prices spiked in June considerably more than had been forecast. Inflation is up 5.4 percent year-on-year, the fastest jump in about 13 years. Stunningly, it’s up 0.9 percent just month over month. What Democrats say they want to force through this summer through reconciliation would make our current inflationary mess look like small potatoes,” he added.
While Republicans criticize the immense size of the new Democratic plan, some Democrats are expressing dissatisfaction for other reasons.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expresses unwillingness to go with a bill as large as the agreement proposes. Manchin said, “I think everything should be paid for. We’ve put enough free money out.”
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Democrats argued for an even more expansive $6 trillion bill. Because of the even division of the Senate, Democrats need every Senator’s vote to move a reconciliation plan forward.