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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Senate Dems take first step on Biden’s relief package

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Senate Dems take first step on Biden’s relief package
Senate Dems take first step on Biden’s relief package

Democrats in the U.S. Senate were poised on Thursday to take a first step toward the ultimate passage of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal, in a marathon "vote-a-rama" session aimed at overriding Republican opposition.

Colette Luke has more.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate were poised on Thursday to take a first step toward the ultimate passage of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion dollar COVID-19 relief proposal.

They’re aiming to pass a budget resolution to unlock a legislative tool called reconciliation that would allow them to approve the measure with a simple majority.

The House of Representatives approved the proposal on Wednesday.

Still Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to consider amendments from both parties in a process known informally as a “vote-a-rama,” which could run late Thursday night or early Friday.

SEN.

SCHUMER: "I sincerely hope our Republican colleagues approach our work today with the intention of having serious ideas considered, not using the debate over pandemic relief to sharpen ephemeral partisan talking points," Republican lawmakers have said they could offer up to 20 amendments, including one expected from Senator Mitt Romney that would provide $4,200 per year for every pre-school child and $3,000 per year for every school-age child in a bid to combat child poverty.

Most legislation must get at least 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to pass.

But the chamber is divided 50-50.

Reconciliation would allow the Senate's 48 Democrats and two independents to approve the relief package with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, bypassing Republicans altogether.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has decried the effort as a ‘phony partisan budget.’ Despite that, Senate Democrats and the Biden administration have left the door open to Republican participation with President Biden still sounding hopeful.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: "I think we will get some Republicans." The Democrats want to move quickly to address the pandemic that has killed more than 450,000 Americans and left millions jobless.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen telling ABC News on Thursday that there's urgent need for more stimulus and that the U.S. needs to "act big." The reconciliation measure does not require the president's signature to take effect.

If the Senate passes it without amendments, it will take effect immediately.

If any amendments pass, the package would return to the House, which would need to vote on it again.

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