Senate approves $1.9 trillion stimulus bill
Senators pull an all-nighter debating amendments to President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief package.
The US Senate has approved the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which includes a third stimulus check -- of up to $1,400 -- and extended benefits for families and small businesses. The Senate voted Saturday after a reading of the entire 628-page bill on Thursday and a more than 24-hour voting session that started Friday and stretched overnight when the process got bogged down in debate over unemployment benefits.
Democrats voted down a series of Republican amendments during the marathon session, called a vote-a-rama, before approving the relief package by a 50-49 vote along party lines. Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, returned home to attend a family funeral and wasn't present for the final vote.
Remarks made by the Senate majority and minority leaders before the vote underscored the partisan divide on the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, said the bill "will deliver more help to more people than anything the federal government has done in decades." Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, on the other hand, said the Senate "has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way or through a less rigorous process."
On Friday, Senate Democrats made a key concession, agreeing to drop their bid to raise unemployment benefits to $400 a week. Under a deal struck with help from the White House, the Senate approved an amendment to extend jobless benefits through Sept. 6 at $300 a week.
The reading and debate began only after Vice President Kamala Harris used her tie-breaking power in the Senate after a 50-50 vote on whether to proceed with the bill.
The next step will be for the two chambers to resolve their differences over the bill, before the House and Senate approve the final version and send it to President Joe Biden to sign into law.
The House passed the stimulus package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, on Feb. 26. the act would see a third stimulus payment of up to $1,400 delivered to eligible Americans later this month. That would follow the first two stimulus payments, of $1,200 and $600, from last year."