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Senate approves sweeping $3.5 trillion budget plan after punchy all-night 'vote-a-rama'

Less than 24 hours after the Senate approved a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure package, 69-30, senators adopted a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint on a 50-49 party-line vote early Wednesday morning. "The Democratic budget will bring a generational transformation for how our economy works for average Americans," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after the vote.

Approval of the budget plan came after a ritual known as "a 'vote-a-rama,' a nonstop parade of messaging amendments that often becomes a painful all-night ordeal," The Associated Press reports. "This time, the Senate had held more than 40 votes by the time it approved the measure at around 4 a.m. EDT, more than 14 hours after the procedural wretchedness began." Most of the amendments were offered by Republicans to trip up vulnerable Democrats, a point Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) emphasized in a sardonic, very animated endorsement of a proposal by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) to punish municipalities that "defund the police."

With the budget outline passed, lawmakers will now have to fill it in with legislation to expand Medicare, provide free community college and universal pre-kindergarten, enact paid family leave, create a Civilian Climate Corps, extend expanded child tax credits, reform immigration laws, and other priority items on President Biden's agenda. The final price tag will be paid for mainly by rolling back the GOP's 2017 tax cuts, strengthening IRS tax compliance enforcement, and allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices. 

Wednesday's vote unlocks the budget reconciliation process that will allow Senate Democrats to pass their package with no Republican votes, if moderate and more liberal Democrats can agree on the final legislation. Both the budget blueprint and bipartisan infrastructure bill also still have to pass the House, where progressives are insisting they pass together or not at all.