Climate Change Health On the Hill

House Approves $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution

The House passed a $3.5 trillion budget plan on Tuesday that will enable Congress to pass legislation to address climate change, health care, immigration, and education.

The budget, which is a legislative framework that does not require the president’s signature, was approved by a 220-212 vote along party lines. It will lay the groundwork for Democrats to pass legislation through the reconciliation process, which prevents bills from being blocked by the filibuster. The final reconciliation bill will be created and voted on this fall.

The budget resolution seeks to expand Medicare to include vision, hearing, and dental benefits. It would allow Congress to pass legislation to lower prescription drug prices, improve paid sick leave and child care access, and create more programs to improve the social safety net for low-income families. The plan also aims to establish universal free pre-K and make the first two years of community college free.

In terms of immigration, the budget will set groundwork to create a legislative pathway to permanent citizenship for undocumented people. The resolution will also address climate change, setting goals to limit carbon dioxide emissions by 2035.

“Passing this rule paves the way for building back better, which will forge legislative progress unseen in 50 years that will stand for generations along the New Deal and the Great Society,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said.

Debate in the House delayed the budget resolution’s vote. Several moderate democrats initially argued that the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, passed by the Senate earlier this month, should be voted on before the budget plan. Progressive democrats disagreed, stating that they would not vote for the infrastructure bill without first approving the budget resolution.

“Our position remains unchanged: We will work first to pass the Build Back Better reconciliation bill so we can deliver these once in a generation, popular, and urgently needed investments to poor and working families, and then pass the infrastructure bill to invest in our roads, bridges, and waterways,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“The American people delivered us the House, Senate, and White House not only to improve roads and bridges, but to improve their daily lives, too,” Rep. Jayapal said. “We can do that by using this governing moment to ensure that President Biden’s complete agenda is realized.”

After reaching a compromise, Democrats decided to vote on the budget resolution Tuesday and promised to vote on the infrastructure bill by September 27. Several members of the House, including Speaker Pelosi, called the day a win.

“A national budget should be a statement of our national values,” Speaker Pelosi said. “And this will be the case.”

Sources: Washington Post 8/24/21; CNN 8/24/21; USA Today 8/24/21; NPR 8/24/21

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