Senate Democrats are considering a sweeping $6 trillion spending package that could be passed without any Republican support, even as bipartisan talks on Capitol Hill for an infrastructure bill gain momentum.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, confirmed that Democrats are weighing a $6 trillion reconciliation bill that builds on the dual economic proposals unveiled earlier this year by President Biden: The $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan.
"The president has given us a framework, I think it’s a comprehensive and serious framework," Sanders, I-Vt., told reporters on Thursday. "It is the function of the Congress now to take that framework and go with it."
Under an early draft of the plan – which Sanders indicated would include a large expansion of Medicare – about half of the proposed spending would be paid for, according to Politico, which first reported the news. Democratic efforts to begin moving forward with a party-line bill will start within a few weeks.
"We expect to have a whole lot done in July," Sanders said.
Still, it's unclear whether the measure would receive the necessary support from all 50 Senate Democrats. Moderate members, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have indicated they want to pursue a bipartisan infrastructure-only deal and have not committed to using reconciliation to pass more progressive priorities.
"We have to be conscious of the debt," Manchin told reporters on Thursday, noting that adding $3 trillion to the national debt is "a lot." An unprecedented level of spending on coronavirus relief efforts pushed the nation's debt to a record $28 trillion.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated that Democrats are taking a two-track approach to infrastructure, simultaneously pursuing a bipartisan deal even as he formally triggered the budget reconciliation process this week.
Schumer said he wants to bring a scaled-back infrastructure bill – one that has the support of both political parties – to the floor under regular order before moving to pass a more extensive spending bill.
A coalition of 10 senators reached an agreement last week for $579 billion in new spending that would be funded without any tax hikes, according to a source familiar with the matter. The proposal would spend $974 billion over five years and $1.2 trillion if continued over eight years, the source said.
"Both are moving forward, the bipartisan track and the track on reconciliation, and both we hope to get done in July, both the budget resolution and the bipartisan bill," the New York Democrat told reporters.