Senate Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget would expand Medicare, make community college free and introduce paid family leave

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talks with reporters while leaving the U.S. Capitol on Monday, August 9, 2021.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

An expansion of Medicare, two free years of community college and a multi-year extension of the enhanced child tax credit (CTC) are all part of the Senate Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget resolution for fiscal year 2022 that passed early Wednesday.

Because the Democrats will likely get no support from GOP members, the budget will need to pass via reconciliation, a strict process that will allow them to pass the legislation with a Senate split 50-50.

"The Democratic budget will bring a generational transformation to how our economy works for average Americans," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said after its passage.

So far, Senate Democrats have released topline figures for housing and transit priorities. Now, committees will work out the actual details of the legislation. The House, which is currently on summer break, will also need to pass its own budget resolution.

Here are some of the priorities included in the Senate's resolution.

Affordable housing

The blueprint calls for "historic" investments of $332 billion in public housing, sustainable housing and other housing initiatives.

Child tax credit

It also calls for the enhanced CTC, worth up to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 annually for children under 6, to be extended for an unspecified number of years.

That's just one of a number of provisions that would provide financial relief to families with children. The budget would also make pre-K education universally free for 3 to 4 year olds.


Expanding Medicare is another priority for Democrats. They are allocating funds so that it includes dental, vision and hearing benefits. They also want to lower the eligibility age, which is not specified, though President Joe Biden has said in the past he supports lowering it to 60 from 65.

Paid family leave

The resolution also calls for the creation of the first ever federal Paid Family and Medical Leave benefit.

Coming on the heels of the passage of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, the budget outline also proposes spending on climate change initiatives and other family programs. Democrats are proposing raising taxes on corporations as one way to pay for their priorities.

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