House Ways and Means Democrats have released key pieces of their $3.5 trillion social spending package, with the committee marking up measures today and tomorrow that would mandate universal paid family leave and expand Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision benefits.
Other pieces of the Ways and Means markup would commit resources to modernize a trade program that supports American workers facing hardship due to international competition, fund better protections for the nation’s elderly, increase pay for child care workers and require employers without employer-sponsored retirement plans to automatically enroll their employees in IRAs or 401(k)-type plans.
“This grueling pandemic continues to deliver one-two punches in the form of the public health and economic crises, and the American people are counting on us to build back better,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). “This is our historic opportunity to support working families and ensure our economy is stronger, more inclusive and more resilient for generations to come.”
Democratic lawmakers are in a time crunch to draft, vet and whip the forthcoming $3.5 trillion bill in order to move the legislation alongside the bipartisan, Senate-passed infrastructure bill, which is set for a House vote no later than Sept. 27. While details of the package are still taking shape, Democrats have confirmed that it will be paid for with new taxes on corporations and the wealthy, while sticking to Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 per year.
House Republican leaders have labeled the Democrats’ plan as a tax-and-spending spree that will fuel inflation and send jobs overseas. During today’s markup, Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) said Democrats are “ramming through trillions of wasteful spending and crippling tax hikes that will drive prices up even higher, kill millions of American jobs and drive them overseas, and usher in a new era of government dependency with the greatest expansion of the welfare state in our lifetimes.”