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As Democrats look to cut their spending bill, here's a reminder of where they started

Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York walk out of a budget resolution meeting at the Capitol on Monday.
Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York walk out of a budget resolution meeting at the Capitol on Monday.

Updated October 12, 2021 at 4:04 PM ET

Democrats are in a bind. Congressional leaders want to deliver on the big promises they've made to approve major investments in climate initiatives, Medicare, the child tax credit and more. But splits in the Democratic caucus mean compromising on what was initially billed as a $3.5 trillion budget.

They're using a process called reconciliation to pass the measure without Republican support, but Democrats still need almost all of their own party members in agreement, and they have to follow specific rules about what can be in a budget bill.

Centrist Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have been the most vocal about wanting to cut back the spending. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested Tuesday that lowering costs might mean ending some funding earlier than originally planned — if not cutting some programs altogether.

Lawmakers are largely keeping quiet about the specifics of what's up for negotiation. But here's a reminder of where they started this summer when the resolution was just an outline of Democratic priorities:

What it would cost

The price tag was initially set at $3.5 trillion, but that is set to shrink, possibly to around $2 trillion. The original plan called for the investments to be offset by a combination of new tax revenues, health care savings and long-term economic growth. It called for raising money through IRS enforcement and proposes a new fee on carbon pollution. The plan prohibited tax increases on families making under $400,000 a year, small businesses and family farms.

What was included in the outline:

Education: $726 billion toward universal pre-k for 3 and 4-year-olds, child care for working families, tuition-free community college, investments in historically Black colleges and universities, and investments in primary care. (Details drafted by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee)

Immigration: $107 billion toward lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants, border security measures. (Judiciary Committee)

Health care: At least $1 billion in deficit reduction, with investments in paid family and medical leave, ACA expansion extension, expanding Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing benefits along with lowering the eligibility age. Also included are investments to address health care provider shortages, the expansion of the child tax credit, long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities, clean energy, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives, housing incentives.

The following offsets are listed for these initiatives: corporate and international tax reform, taxes from high-income individuals, IRS tax enforcement, health care savings and the carbon polluter import fee. (Finance Committee)

Agriculture: $135 billion to go toward agriculture conservation, drought and forestry programs to reduce carbon emissions and prevent wildfires, climate research, debt relief, child nutrition, and funding for a Civilian Climate Corps. The budget outline aims to meet Biden's goal of 80% clean electricity and 50% carbon emissions by 2030. (Agriculture Committee)

Housing: $332 billion for housing affordability, rental assistance, homeownership initiatives, revitalization projects, zoning, transit improvements and public housing investments. (Banking and Housing Committee)

Clean energy: $198 billion toward clean electricity payment program, financing for domestic manufacturing of clean energy and auto supply chain technologies, federal procurement of energy efficient materials, and climate research. (Energy and Natural Resources Committee)

Climate initiatives: $67 billion toward funding low-income solar technologies, environmental justice investments in clean water affordability and access, EPA climate and research programs, federal investments in energy efficient buildings and green materials, and investments in clean vehicles. (Environment and Public Works Committee)

Homeland security: $37 billion toward improving cybersecurity infrastructure, border management investments, federal investments in green materials procurement. (Homeland Security Committee)

Investments in Native communities: $20.5 billion toward Native health programs and facilities, education, housing, energy, and language programs. (Indian Affairs Committee)

Small businesses: $25 billion toward small business access to credit, investment and markets. (Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee)

Veterans: $18 billion toward upgrading VA facilities. (Veterans Affairs Committee)

NPR's Kelsey Snell contributed to this report.

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