Senate Passes Coronavirus Relief Bill With Narrow Vote

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The Senate had been in the chamber for more than 27 hours.

With a narrow vote of 50-49, the Senate has passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on Saturday afternoon.  The Senate had been in the chamber for more than 27 hours, beginning their amendment process,  known as a “vote-a-thon,” at 9 a.m. EST Friday. For 12 hours, the vote was stalled over a disagreement regarding unemployment benefits.

Every single Democrat voted in favor of the bill, while no Republicans voted in favor of it. The bill will now return to the House so lawmakers can vote on the changes made before sending it to President Biden for his signature.

The coronavirus relief bill includes $1,400 checks to Americans earning less than $75,000 a year. Individuals who make $80,000 per year and couples making $160,000 per year are no longer eligible for the checks.

It extends additional $300 a week unemployment benefits through September 6th. The first $10,200 of jobless benefits would not be taxable for households incomes under $150,000.

State, local and tribal governments will see $350 billion for costs they have incurred through 2024. There is also $14 billion designated for vaccine distribution and $34 billion to widen subsidies provided under former President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

K-12 schools will see about $130 billion to help shrink classroom sizes, enhance social distancing, install ventilation systems and purchase PPE. The plan additionally includes billions of dollars for small businesses and rental and homeowner assistance. Families with and without children will see larger tax breaks. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, told reporters on CNN he believes the President will sign the bill before current benefits expire on March 14th.

When asked whether he thinks the vote will further push Republicans away, Schumer said “I hope it will make bipartisanship more likely.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky seared Democrats for taking what he called a partisan approach to passing the bill.

However, Schumer alluded to the fact that another bill is possible should this one not provide enough aid to Americans.

“If they need more help, we’ll do another bill,” Schumer said.