After being in session for more than 27 hours, the Senate passed a $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill 50-49, on a party-line vote. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) missed the vote; he had to fly home after his father-in-law passed away.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) requested that the entire 628-page bill be read aloud to the chamber, a task which took 11 hours to complete. While progressives whined that it was a waste of time and keeping them from passing this “crucial” relief for Americans, that was most likely the only way to ensure that each Senator actually heard what the bill contained. Those progressives also seem to forget the time they wasted impeaching Donald Trump a second time and putting him through a Senate trial while Americans in locked-down states suffered, as evidenced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s remarks prior to the vote:
“We’re not going to make the same mistake we made after the last economic downtown, when Congress did too little to help the nation rebound, locking us into a long, slow, painful recovery. We are not going to be timid in the face of big challenges.”
Some “highlights” of the Senate version of the bill include $1,400 stimulus checks, $300/week in additional unemployment benefits through early fall (down from $400 in the House bill), $34 billion in expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution. In the Senate bill, eligibility for the $1,400 stimulus checks is limited to those who make under $80,000 ($160,000 for couples) and subsidizes 100 percent of COBRA insurance coverage (up from 85 percent in the House bill).
After Senate clerks finished reading the bill aloud a “vote-a-rama” was held overnight in which approximately three dozen amendments, mainly from Republicans, were heard and voted down on party-line votes. An amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour failed, with eight Democrats voting against it.
Prior to the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said:
“The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way. [Democrats’] top priority wasn’t pandemic relief. It was their Washington wish list.”
The bill will now go back to the House, where Nancy Pelosi has the task of wrangling the Squad’s votes, and where Democrats could possibly insert additional stupid pork barrel projects unrelated to China flu relief.
Watch Schumer and McConnell’s remarks below:
President Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act, passed the Senate 50-49 on Saturday.
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) March 6, 2021