Senate passes budget resolution to advance Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID aid package

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (August 2019)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) —  President Joe Biden’s drive to enact a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill gained momentum early on Friday as the U.S. Senate narrowly approved a budget blueprint allowing Democrats to push the legislation through Congress in coming weeks with or without Republican support.

At the end of approximately 15 hours of debate and back-to-back votes on dozens of amendments, the Senate found itself in a 50-50 partisan deadlock over passage of the budget plan. That deadlock was broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, whose “yes” vote provided the win for Democrats.

This was part of a so-called marathon COVID-19 relief ‘vote-a-rama’.

Senate Democrats needed to pass a budget resolution to unlock a legislative tool called reconciliation, which allowed them to approve Biden’s proposal in the narrowly divided chamber with a simple majority. Most legislation must get at least 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to pass.

Senate Democrats and the Biden administration left the door open to Republican participation but have said they want comprehensive legislation to move quickly to address a pandemic that has killed more than 450,000 Americans and left millions jobless.

Separate, more detailed legislation still would have to be crafted and passed to carry out Biden’s coronavirus-relief bill, which also could provide more time for negotiations with Republicans.

This vote marked the first time Harris, in her role as president of the Senate, cast a tie-breaking vote after being sworn in as Biden’s vice president on Jan. 20.

Shortly before the final vote, Democrats offered an amendment reversing some earlier votes regarding the future of the Keystone XL pipeline and coronavirus aid to immigrants living in the United States illegally.

(This story was originally published on February 5, 2021)

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