WASHINGTON – Democratically controlled Senate Saturday overcame Republican roadblocks and a debate that lasted more than 24 hours President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package This would provide $ 1,400 in direct payments to millions of Americans, billions of dollars in vaccine distribution, and funds to reopen schools and colleges.
The Chamber passed the bill after a session that began at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and ended around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday after a “vote” on the proposed changes by both parties. The final vote took place between 50 and 49, with all Republicans voting against the measure and all members of the Senate’s Democratic caucus supporting it. Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, was absent from the vote.
“It’s been a long day, a long night, a long year, but a new day has come,” said Chuck Schumer, Senate majority leader. “We are telling the American people that help is on the way.”
Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Countered that “the Senate has never spent $ 2 trillion in a more arbitrary manner or through a less rigorous process.”
The bill was Biden’s number one legislative priority when he began his presidency. He stressed that aid is urgently needed for Americans battling the economic effects of a pandemic That killed more than 522,000 Americans and has urged Congress to quickly pass the bill.
In brief remarks on Saturday morning, the president told reporters that the package was “another big step forward” in delivering on its promise to provide aid to millions of Americans suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The bottom line is: With this plan we are on the way to fight this virus,” he said.
Democrats weren’t getting everything they wanted. The invoice does not contain a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour that progressives were looking for. And The weekly unemployment benefit has been reduced from $ 400 to $ 300. But it includes $ 350 billion for states and municipalities, provides economic assistance to tenants, and expands the child tax credit.
Republicans have condemned the measure as the bloated legislation Blue states and large cities benefit disproportionately with help that has nothing to do with the pandemic.
The Democratically controlled house, which approved a version of the bill last week, will have to pass the bill one last time before Biden can sign it based on the changes made by the Senate.
But these changes – specifically the lack of a $ 15 minimum wage and a reduction in unemployment benefits – could make it difficult for some House Democrats to support the measure and jeopardize passage in the Chamber.
Two Democrats from the conservative wing of the party had voted against the law when the House was first passed. By that time, the progressives had agreed on the bill, but some seemed wavering in their support for the revised bill.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, DN.J., said she wondered if she could still support the bill with the Senate’s changes.
“What are we doing here? I am honestly disgusted with some of my colleagues and wonder if I can support this bill.” she wrote in a tweet.
But the Democrats are in a time crisis. They want the bill to come into force by mid-March, when the federal government’s increase in unemployment benefits expires. The House Democrats have signaled that they could vote shortly after the Senate passed the bill. House majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Said the house would likely vote on the bill on Monday.
The partisan vote on the law differs from other COVID stimulus plans that have been passed since the pandemic broke out about a year ago. Five more packages passed with the support of both parties last year when control of Congress was split between the two parties.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., admitted the lack of Republican support and said on Friday, “It would be much better if we could work bipartisan, but we have to do it.”
Republicans disapproved of the size of the legislation, ridiculing it as being full of provisions unrelated to COVID relief, but they ultimately didn’t have the votes to block the legislation.
Senate minority chairman Mitch McConnell denounced this as “an ideological shopping spree with unrelated COVID policies”.
“Things are looking better,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., who asked if there were any ways to “slow down” before spending that much money. Graham argued the $ 350 billion in state and local funding would go to “blue states” because of the funding formula used in the last round of discharge.
Under the terms of the invoice:
- Offers most Americans earning up to $ 75,000 a stimulus check of $ 1,400.
- Extends Unemployment Benefit by $ 300 per week through August
- Sends $ 350 billion to state and local governments whose revenues have declined due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
- Allocates $ 130 billion to help schools and colleges reopen completely.
- Distributed $ 30 billion to help tenants and landlords weather economic losses.
- Provides $ 50 billion to help small business owners.
- Provides $ 160 billion for vaccine development, distribution, and related needs.
- Extends Child Tax Credit to $ 3,600 per child.
The Senate went through a lengthy process known as “Vote-a-Rama” to propose changes to the bill before the final vote.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Attempted a change that raised the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. However, this failed after a group of Democrats joined Republicans in an attempt to suppress him. The House Democrats had included the wage increase in their draft bill, but a key Senate official ruled that the increase could not remain in the final Senate bill.
In a statement, Sanders said this would not be the last time he would try to put the wage increase to a vote.
“If a senator thinks this will be the last time he’ll vote on whether or not to give 32 million Americans a raise, they’re deeply mistaken. We’ll bring it up and we’ll get it.” it happened because it is what the American people want and need, “he said.
Final Senate passage of the bill came after Senate Republicans put procedural deadlocks in an attempt to delay it. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., Had forced the Senate reading out the 600-page invoice out loud on Thursday, a process that ultimately lasted almost 11 hours and was only completed early in the morning.
Another delay occurred on Friday afternoon when the senators were bogged down over changes to the law’s unemployment provisions. A compromise agreed after hours of deliberation among Democratic senators extended unemployment benefits to $ 300 a week through August, with the first $ 10,200 non-taxable for households with incomes below $ 150,000.
“This bill, which we are finalizing now, is the most important bill for the benefit of the working people in this country’s modern history,” said Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Before the Senate passed the bill. “People hurt and today we answer.”
Schumer brushed aside concerns about the delay in aid because of the impasse in unemployment benefits. The 8-hour unemployment debate was “meaningless compared to the relief Americans are getting,” he said on Saturday morning after the law was passed.