Senators buried their faces in their hands and dozed at their desks during an all-night session that finally ended midday Saturday with the passage of a huge economic relief package.
All 50 Democrats voted for the $1.9 trillion bill that is a top priority of President Joe Biden’s new administration. Vice President Kamala Harris did not have to break a tie because one Republican, Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, missed the vote, making the final count 50-49.
What’s in the bill? Everything but the kitchen sink. It provides $1,400 for most Americans—the third round of direct payments in less than a year—plus extra unemployment benefits, and vast piles of taxpayer money for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, local governments, schools, and ailing industries. It also includes tax breaks for lower-earning people, families with children, and consumers buying health insurance.
“Big, bold, urgent COVID relief is on the way,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted after the vote.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized the legislation: “The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way.”
The House and Senate must reconcile their versions of the bill before sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the House will vote on the Senate version on Tuesday.
Democrats are trying to get the package signed into law by March 14, when some added unemployment benefits will expire.
This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.