$1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package Passes Senate with Kamala Harris’ Tie-Breaking Vote
After an all-night Senate session, early Friday morning lawmakers in Congress voted to pass President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. The budget bill passed by a vote of 51-to-50, split across party lines, according to the Washington Post. Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. With such a closely divided Congress, is this a sign of things to come?
The bill did not pass without much scrutiny, debate, and what the Washington Post deemed, “a chaotic process known as a ‘vote-a-rama.'” Congress considered, and voted on, 45 amendments that were part of the bill, including legislation on minimum wage, extended unemployment benefits, who will receive stimulus payments, and school funding, among other topics, the Washington Post reports.
Provisions of the Bill
If the bill passes by the House of Representatives and Biden signs it, provisions include:
- A five-year phase-in of a $15 minimum wage
- $130 billion in aid to schools to assist reopening efforts
- $160 billion for vaccine roll-out, expanded COVID-19 testing, and other funding for the healthcare sector
- Enhanced unemployment benefits extended through September 2021
- An additional $1,400 in stimulus money to many Americans
Who Will Get a Stimulus Check?
If you received a payment in the first or second round of stimulus money, however, there’s no guarantee you’ll receive one this time. A bi-partisan amendment introduced by Senators Joe Manchin III and Susan Collins sought to limit stimulus payments to lower-to-moderate income individuals and families, although the amendment did not specify how the Internal Revenue Service would define “upper-income taxpayers,” according to the Post’s report.
Early this morning I was proud to watch VP Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote to push forward necessary aid to help get us through this pandemic.
This never would have been possible without the people of Georgia. This is what democracy looks like.
— Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) February 5, 2021
How Soon Could the Stimulus Package Go into Effect?
The resolution is moving along through a budget reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority to pass, rather than 60 votes. It is now moving to the House of Representatives for a vote.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a separate budget measure on Wednesday but has to vote again on the Senate’s bill, CNBC reports. The House plans to move quickly, perhaps voting within the day. That’s when Congress will begin writing the specifics of the bill and push it through Senate with a simple majority.
Democrats hope to see the relief package signed by mid-March, when the expanded unemployment benefits approved in December expire.
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