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What’s in the Democrats’ budget proposal that could help your family?

The $3.5 trillion spending plan targets health, education, housing and hunger

Jerson Arroyocruz and his sister Genesis get grab-and-go lunches for their family at Edison Elementary School. Expanded child nutrition help is part of the $3.5 trillion budget proposal Democrats hope to get through reconciliation,
Genesis Arroyocruz, right, a student at Edison Elementary School, and her brother Jerson, who attends middle school, get some grab-and-go lunches for their family at the school in Salt Lake City on Oct. 15, 2020. A number of measures that were carved out of the president’s infrastructure proposal are now contained in a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that Congress will consider in coming weeks and perhaps months.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Provisions from the administration’s American Families Plan that were carved out of the president’s original infrastructure proposal are now part of a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that Senate Democrats unveiled this week.

Congressional experts predict a tough road to budget reconciliation, though, lined with partisan fights. The measure has been dubbed “the human infrastructure” proposal, distinguishing it from the traditional infrastructure package that passed a bipartisan Senate earlier this week.

The Associated Press said the budget proposal “lays the groundwork for separate legislation later this year that over a decade would pour mountains of federal resources into Democrats’ top priorities. Included would be more money for health care, education, family services and environmental programs, with much of it paid for with tax increases on the rich and corporations.”

The budget also proposes both providing legal status to millions of immigrants in the United States illegally and funding to strengthening border security.

If the resolution passes, a subsequent bill that enacts the proposals could pass the Senate with a simple majority and would not be subject to the filibuster. “It’s expected to take Democrats well into the fall to complete the follow-up $3.5 trillion bill, as rival progressives and moderates jostle over which of their priorities will survive,” AP said.

The New York Times reported that the early “blueprint” in the Senate “passed along party lines and faces an arduous path ahead.”

The proposed funding source is increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations, in keeping with Biden’s promise that no household making under $400,000 a year will see a tax increase, a “carbon polluter import fee” and money from revved up investigations by the Internal Revenue Service into tax cheats.

Here are the provisions in the budget resolution that would impact families directly:

  • Adding dental, vision and hearing to Medicare coverage benefits. Separately, but more controversially, the proposal would try to lower the age to qualify for Medicare, which is now 65. Though the specific age isn’t known, Biden has said he’d like Medicare to begin at 60.
  • Free prekindergarten for children who are ages 3 and 4.
  • Two years of tuition-free community college.
  • Federal paid family and medical leave.
  • A path to citizenship for people illegally in the country and more money to bolster border security. Reuters said that would have to pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who decides whether something qualifies under reconciliation or is policy, which doesn’t qualify.
  • Tax breaks for child care for low-income families.
  • Extending the child tax cut expansion beyond its 2022 expiration.
  • Extending the earned income tax credit.
  • Negotiating lower drug prices for Medicare recipients.
  • Health, education and housing programs for Native Americans.
  • More Pell grant funding for low-income college students, increasing the maximum subsidy one could receive.
  • Expanding the Affordable Care Act so more people are helped by subsidies.
  • Expanding the child nutrition program.
  • Investing in providing clean drinking water in communities that don’t have a safe water supply.
  • Boosting funding and access to public housing and other affordable housing options.
  • Money to update aging Veterans Administration hospitals.
  • Funding for utility rebates to improve home energy efficiency.
  • Money for more community-based services, including those in-home, for people with disabilities and older Americans, as well as helping those workers who provide home care.