We're still at least a month away from congressional Democrats sending a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill to President Biden's desk, but Senate Democrats have now cleared one of the biggest hurdles to doing so.
In a vote along party lines that could also resemble the final vote, Democrats passed the budget resolution that opens the door for using a simple majority under reconciliation.
After more than 14 hours of continuous amendment votes, the chamber adopted on party lines a 92-page framework for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion package of climate and social initiatives, including subsidized child care, expanded Medicare and paid family and medical leave benefits. Once both chambers have approved the budget instructions, it will unlock the reconciliation process, which empowers the majority party to eventually clear the final bill with just 51 votes in the Senate, rather than the usual 60-vote hurdle.
After the 50-49 vote Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the move “a massive step towards restoring the middle class” and giving “more Americans the chance to get there.”
Voting for the budget resolution does not necessarily guarantee that centrist senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema will vote for the final package, but it is an encouraging sign. To vote for the budget resolution is to implicitly vote for reconciliation.
The House of Representatives is currently in recess and cannot act on the resolution, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says they will return to Washington two weeks early to act on it.