The US Senate on Saturday (Mar 6) passed President Joe Biden's sweeping 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package after a marathon debate that commenced on Friday (Mar 5) and concluded on Saturday morning.
The Senate voted 50-49 along partisan political lines to pass the stimulus bill via budget reconciliation rules, which allow a simple majority to approve legislation in place of a filibuster-proof 60-vote threshold.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer described the huge stimulus package — its total spending is nearly one-tenth the US GDP — as "broader, deeper and more comprehensive in helping working families and lifting people out of poverty than anything Congress has seen or accomplished in a very long time.”
Among other things, the stimulus bill will
Provide $300 in weekly unemployment benefits through Sept. 6
Transfer a new round of mean-tested direct payments of $1,400 to several Americans
Grant $350 billion to state and local governments
Fund $130 billion for K-12 schools in order to help reduce class sizes to accommodate social distancing, improve ventilation systems, and make other changes.
Fund efforts to accelerate vaccine distribution
Expand child tax credit
The US senate however blocked an amendment from Bernie Sanders to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Several senators from Democratic party, including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, voted against the proposal.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of the Republican party criticized the bill and its passage. “The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way or through a less rigorous process,” McConnell said.
President Joe Biden, speaking Saturday after Senate passage of a COVID-19 stimulus bill, said he anticipated relief checks and deposits for Americans to be sent out yet this month.
The US Senate approve bill will now go back to the House of Congress, which must approve the Senate’s version of the bill in order to send it to Biden for presidential consent.
Congress has previously passed at least 2 stimulus relief bills since the Covid-19 pandemic began, including a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in March 2020 and a roughly $900 billion package in Decembe 2020, with broad bipartisan support.
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