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Democrats' Budget Deal Would Invest In The Child Tax Credit, Health Care And Climate

Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, faces reporters after a lunch Wednesday with President Biden and Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, faces reporters after a lunch Wednesday with President Biden and Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol.

A budget deal announced by the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday includes major investments in climate initiatives and would extend the child tax credit expansion and fund universal pre-K.

The sweeping $3.5 trillion resolution has a long way to go before passage, but the White House lauded it as a "breakthrough" on one of President Biden's major legislative priorities. Biden was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to rally support for it.

Lawmakers have offered only an outline of the plan so far — and few details on how to pay for it. Specifics will need to be worked out in the weeks ahead, but the question of how to pay for it is crucial. Senate Democrats need every member of their caucus — even the most moderate — to pass the budget narrowly. The price tag is big and a potential hurdle in the Senate, while in the House, the most progressive members may argue it doesn't go far enough.

Here are the highlights of what we know so far about the resolution, from a senior Democratic aide:

Total cost: $3.5 trillion

How it will be paid for: A senior Democratic aide says the plan is to tap three major areas to offset the costs: health care savings, including on prescription drugs; tax code changes for high-income individuals and corporations; and long-term economic growth. The plan says it prohibits tax increases on families making under $400,000 a year, small businesses and family farms.

Child tax credit expansion: The resolution would extend the child tax credit expansion that passed as part of coronavirus relief. Starting Thursday, qualifying families will start getting money each month through the end of the year. The budget proposal would extend that temporary program. Many Democrats want to make this credit permanent, but the length of the extension will depend on final details decided by the committee drafting the bill.

Climate initiatives: The budget outline aims to meet Biden's goal of 80% clean electricity and 50% carbon emissions by 2030 through clean energy and vehicle tax incentives, a clean energy standard and other initiatives. It would also establish a Civilian Climate Corps.

American Families Plan programs: The resolution takes on major programs proposed by the president, including universal pre-K; investment in high quality and affordable child care; and funding for community colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions. It would also put more money into paid family and medical leave, nutrition assistance and affordable housing.

Health and home care programs: The resolution would add new dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare; extend the Affordable Care Act expansion put in place by the American Rescue Plan; expand home and community-based services; and reduce patient spending on prescription drugs.

Support for workers and businesses: The plan would make investments in housing and small businesses and give "pro-worker incentives and penalties."

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