Senate Passes Historic $1.9 Trillion Covid-19 Relief Bill

By Kurt Stolz on 6 March 2021
  • Share

Old Senate chamber in the Capitol

The United States Senate passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, after deliberating all day Friday and Saturday.

The bill was passed 50-49, with senators voting along party lines.  The bill now heads back to the House of Representatives, which must approve revisions made by the Senate before it is sent to the White House for President Biden’s signature.

Once signed, the measure will provide $300 in weekly unemployment benefits through September 6 and send a $1,400 stimulus check to many Americans.  It will also fund the cost of vaccine distribution, direct pandemic-related aid to state and local governments, and expand the child tax credit for families.

The bill also makes the first $10,200 of 2020 unemployment benefits non-taxable for households earning less than $150,000.

The bill was processed using a procedure known as reconciliation, which allowed Senate Democrats to pass the measure tied to the U.S. budget with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes most bills require.  Vice President Kamala Harris, who is also the president of the Senate, had been expected to cast a tiebreaking vote, but her presence was unnecessary Saturday as one Republican, Senator Dan Sullivan, was absent due to a death in the family, leaving the Republicans with only 49 votes.

In what is known in the Senate as a vote-a-rama, a process tied to reconciliation which allows lawmakers, usually those in the minority party, to vote on an unlimited number of amendments to this type of bill and make their objections heard.

The Democrats held open an amendment vote while negotiating with Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat representing West Virginia, who was unwilling to support the proposed plan to extend jobless benefits through October 4.  After a record 12 hours of negotiation – the longest recorded vote in modern Senate history – the Democrats approved an amendment to extend the $300 benefit without increasing it to $400 as had been originally planned.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

Read previous post:
CDC Links Restaurant Dining with Spread of Covid-19 in U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that research concretely shows a link between on-premises dining at...