US Senate paves way for Democrats to pass $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package

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President Biden meeting with House Democratic leaders to discuss the American Rescue Plan (Image Source: Twitter/President Biden)

The resolution was passed 51-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris casting her first tie-breaking vote. 

On Friday, the US Senate passed a budget resolution that sets up the path for Democrats to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package without Republican support. The measure passed 51-50 on a party-line vote with Vice President Kamala Harris tipping the balance as she cast her first tie-breaking vote in the early morning showdown.

The resolution was passed after a marathon of votes on dozens of amendments. It lets Democrats push forwards with the budget reconciliation process, which will allow the party to pass the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package without Republican support. Earlier this week, the initial version of the budget resolution was passed, the House will now have to vote again to reconcile with the Senate version. 

After a meeting with Biden and Democratic House committee chairs at the White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “On Monday we will begin working on the specifics of the bill.” She said: “This is the American Rescue Plan.”  Pelosi vowed to pass the final Covid-19 relief legislation before March 15, when special unemployment benefits that were added during the pandemic expire.

Biden stated that he was open to compromise with Republicans but it shouldn’t slow things down. Biden said: “If I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation … that’s an easy choice. I’m going to help the American people hurting now.”

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer stated, “this was a bipartisan activity” as the chamber considered numerous amendments written by senators from both parties. He said: “We had no choice given the problems facing America and the desire to move forward. And we have moved forward.”

A Republican, Senator John Cornyn said: “This reconciliation process is designed not to encourage bipartisanship, not to encourage negotiation, not to get bipartisan buy-in.”

Also Read: Biden reveals $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal for pandemic-hit economy

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