The Senate allowed a sweeping coronavirus relief bill after a marathon session. It gave the Democrats their first legislative win after becoming Senate majority.
They won the bill with a 50-49 vote. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R- Alaska) didn’t vote because of a family funeral.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) gave her vote against the $1.9 trillion bill.
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The bill offers another package of stimulus checks to aid state and local governments. Also, it will help and support small businesses and schools.
This party-line vote is an essential break from the last five COVID-19 bills passed with bipartisan aid.
On Friday and Saturday, Democrats defended the GOP senators’ attempts to change the legislation. The legislation must go back to the House before it reaches Biden’s desk.
On Tuesday, the House will take up the bill, and during the next weak, it should reach Biden’s desk for signature.
The Senate’s debate wasn’t purposeless because the Democrats attempted to make their first legislative battle with a 50-50 majority. All Democrats had to stick together to reach the aim so the bill could pass.
The first Democrats’ amendment vote started at 11.03 am, and it was open for almost 12 hours.
Twelve hours they were negotiating a deal on the unemployment language.
During the debate, Republicans could temporarily get in the amendment to lower the payments to $300 a week during the middle of July. In the end, the Dems agreed to give a $300 a week payment until September 6.
Regarding the final deal on jobless benefits, Ron Wyden, Senate Finance Committee, said:
“Our goal has been to secure the strongest possible protections for jobless Americans that could pass the Senate,”
What was really bad was the deal published on Friday to give a $300 weekly payment in October. Not all Democrats supported it, which is needed in the face of GOP opposition.
The Democrats debated with Sen. Joe Manchin, the lone holdout, a couple of hours before agreeing.
This deal also makes the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits tax-free for all those with an income of up to 150,000 dollars.
Manchin said he didn’t know about the unemployment deal until 10.00 am on Friday.
This Senate bill will influence the House legislation because this agreement is a significant change.
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The Senate bill eliminated language about $15 increased minimum wage by 2025. The parliamentarian said that the minimum wage hike’s inclusion didn’t meet the standards of arcane rules.
The Democrats that gave their vote against this amendment are:
Jon Tester, Krysten Sinema, Chris Coons, Tom Carper, Angus King, Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, and Manchin.
“If any Senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken,”
According to The Hill:
“Democrats also lowered the cutoff level to receive a stimulus check. The Senate bill, like the House bill, would give individuals who make up to $75,000 and couples who make up to $150,000 a full check. But the Senate bill reduces the income ceiling for receiving a partial check from $99,000 to $80,000 for individuals from $200,000 to $160,000 for couples.”
The acceptance to remove some parts of the bill shows the fragility of the Democrats. They know that no one from the Republican Party would vote for this bill. Schumer needed all 50-member votes to push the bill to the Senate.
Republicans attempted to punt the Senate’s debate from early Friday to early Saturday. Also, the Republicans gave dozens of amendments for changing the bill.
“The whole idea behind this, I gather from listening to them over the last few weeks, was to use the crisis to jam through what the White House chief of staff called ‘the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation.’ A little tougher than they thought it was going to be, isn’t it? It turns out to be a little bit tougher,”– said McConnell.
Many of the Democrats knew that any change would be palatable to the House.
Besides, Democrats have a razor-thin margin in the House, and they know that no Republicans would vote for the bill. Nancy Pelosi cannot alienate any faction in her caucus.
Moreover, Democrats must pass the relief bill before the jobless benefits expire on March 14.
“This trend is outrageous: Eliminating $15/hr Reducing thresholds for payments. …Cuts to weekly payments What are we doing here? I’m frankly disgusted with some of my colleagues and question whether I can support this bill,”