The Democratic-led Senate on Saturday passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, which includes checks for many Americans. The sweeping legislation passed on a strictly party-line vote 50-49 after a marathon session, giving Democrats their first legislative victory since reclaiming the majority. All Republicans voted against helping struggling Americans.
After the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed Democrats for approving the legislation without their support. “The voters picked a president who promised bipartisanship. The Democrats’ response is to ram through what they call, quote, the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation on a razor-thin majority in both chambers,” he said on the floor.
The party-line Senate vote Saturday came after no Republican voted for the $1.9 trillion package in the House.
The package provides another round of stimulus checks, aid for state and local government, and more help for small businesses and schools. The party-line vote is a significant break from the previous five coronavirus bills, each of which passed with bipartisan support.
The Senate was in session for more than 24 hours, including all night Friday and well into Saturday, ahead of the final vote as Democrats fended off attempts by GOP senators to make changes to the legislation, which now has to go back to the House before it can be sent to President Biden’s desk.
The House will take up the bill on Tuesday for a vote and plans to send it to Biden’s desk for a signature early next week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement.
Though the Senate bill largely reflects the House legislation, it stripped out language that would have increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. The move came after the parliamentarian advised that the inclusion of the minimum wage hike did not comply with arcane rules that govern what can be included in reconciliation, the process Democrats are using to avoid the 60-vote filibuster.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) forced a vote on the amendment, but it fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural hurdle. Democrats could have tried to overrule the parliamentarian, an option favored by Sanders, but it didn’t have the support of the White House or some of Sanders’s colleagues.
Democratic Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Chris Coons (Del.), Tom Carper (Del.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.) and Manchin voted against the amendment.
Sanders, who told reporters that he wasn’t surprised by the defections, vowed to try again.
“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,” he said.