Democrats Introduce $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan That Includes Immigration Reform, Pathway to Citizenship

Senate Democrats on Monday introduced an outline of their $3.5 trillion budget bill that expands health care, increases child care and education programs, boosts climate funding, and includes immigration reforms, The Washington Post reports.

The budget bill, which Democrats can pass with a simple majority in the Senate, includes many of President Joe Biden’s proposals that were not included in the bipartisan infrastructure plan that the Senate advanced over the weekend. Democrats have vowed to pass the two bills in tandem to appease moderate and progressives.

The budget bill, which was led by Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, includes an extension of the Child Tax Credit, universal pre-K, paid family and medical leave, tuition-free community college, and numerous programs aimed at combating climate change. The bill would also lower the Medicare eligibility age and expand coverage for dental, hearing, and vision while also expanding Obamacare to millions of people whose states opted out of the law’s Medicaid expansion.

The bill would boost taxes on the rich and corporations, fine polluters, and ramp up IRS tax enforcement.

“For too many decades, Congress has ignored the needs of the working class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor," Sanders said Monday. “Now is the time for bold action. Now is the time to restore faith in ordinary Americans that their government can work for them, and not just wealthy campaign contributors.”

What about immigration?

The budget blueprint includes over $100 billion to be doled out by the Senate Judiciary Committee, including for a measure on immigration.

The bill instructs lawmakers to craft legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for eligible undocumented immigrants.

The current text does not say how many people would be covered by the bill but instructs senators to provide “lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants” and green cards for “millions of immigrant workers and families.”

Some House Democrats have called for a plan that covers not only Dreamers that were brought to the country illegally as children but also farmworkers, essential workers, and those with Temporary Protected Status.

In all, the legislation could apply to as many as 10 million people, just short of the 11 million that would be covered by a bill proposed by Biden that has stalled in Congress.

Republicans countered the earlier bill with a proposal that would cover fewer than 700,000 DACA recipients.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin said the Republican offer “seeking to compel the deportation of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients who are helping our nation’s economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic makes little sense.”

What will get cut?

The $3.5 trillion price tag is a compromise to the $6+ trillion bill pushed by Sanders and progressives but it is likely to shrink further.

Sen. Joe Manchin, who has been a vocal supporter of infrastructure spending, has already balked at the price tag and the level of climate funding, which he called unnecessary.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema vowed to oppose a bill that costs as much as the initial proposal.

“While I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion -- and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona's economy and help Arizona's everyday families get ahead,” she said in a statement.


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