The US Senate has passed a budget resolution that allows passage of Joe Biden’s $ 1.9tn (£ 1.4t) Kovid-19 relief package in the coming weeks without Republican support.
The Vice President, Kamala Harris, broke the 50/50 tie by voting in favor of the Democratic measure, which sends it to the House of Representatives for final approval. It marked Harris for the first time in her role as Senate President, casting a tie-breaking vote after being sworn in as the first female vice president on 20 January.
The House passed its budget measure on Wednesday. Congress can now work to write a bill that can be passed by a simple majority in both houses, which is controlled by the Democrats. Mid-March has been suggested as a possible date by which the measure can be passed, a point at which unemployment benefits will increase if Congress does not act.
The vote came at 5.30 am on Friday at the end of the marathon Senate debate session, known among senators as “vote-a-ram”, a process under which they could offer theoretically unlimited amendments.
Biden Kovid is scheduled to meet with Democratic House leaders and committee chairmen on Friday morning to discuss economic stimulus, and is expected to make public comment on the progress of the briefing at 11.45 a.m. EST (1645 GMT).
There was dissatisfaction with Republicans in the Senate overnight, particularly over plans for a $ 15 federal minimum wage. Iowa’s Republican senator, Joni Ernst, made the amendment “to restrict the increase in the federal minimum wage during a global epidemic”, which was done by one vote.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he still intended to support bringing the measure: “We need to end the starvation wage crisis in Iowa and the United States.”
He outlined a wage increase plan, which was included in the budget reconciliation bill. The federal minimum wage is currently $ 7.25 per hour, and has not been raised since 2009.
In a tweet after the vote, Sanders said: “Today, with the passage of this budget proposal to provide relief to our working families, we not only have the opportunity to address the epidemic and economic collapse – we have hope to give the American people and restore confidence in their faith Government has the opportunity to do. “
During the debate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that “this is not the time for more than trillions of dollars to make the continuing lockdown and economic decline a little more impressive.” Despite all the talk about bipartisan unity, despite the real needs, Democrats are ahead in Congress. They are using this phoney budget to set the table to ram through their $ 1.9 trillion rough draft. “
The proposed $ 1.9 trillion relief package will be used to accelerate Kovid-19 vaccines across the nation. Other funds will extend special unemployment benefits that expire at the end of March and pay people directly to help pay bills and stimulate the economy. Democrats also want to send money to state and local governments to deal with the worst health crisis in decades.