The Senate on Saturday passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill on a party-line vote, ending a marathon session lasting nearly 26 hours.
The measure passed 50-49 in the evenly divided chamber due to the absence of one Republican, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, who flew home Friday after the death of his father-in-law.
Sullivan’s departure meant there was no need for Vice President Kamala Harris to cast a tie-breaker vote to gain the Democratic victory.
“This Senate has never spent $2 trillion dollars in a more haphazard way,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said afterwards. “Voters picked a president who promised unity and bipartisanship, but the Democrats have passed what they call the most progressive legislation in a generation on a razor-thin margin.”
Democrats shot down more than a dozen last-minute GOP amendments Saturday to get to that point — a process that significantly delayed the bill’s ultimate passage and contributed to the 26-hour session that began before noon Friday.
Some of those votes could prove politically painful to moderate Democrats, who were forced to reject amendments thought to be popular among swing voters.
One GOP amendment, proposed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, would have withheld stimulus money from illegal immigrants. Another, submitted by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, would have slashed the funding given to schools that remain closed to in-person instruction as the pandemic continues.
“It’s been a long day, but a new day has come,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at the start of the vote. “With this bill we tell the American people help is on the way.”
The Senate version of the bill now heads back to the House of Representatives, which must vote again on the measure — now shorn of the minimum-wage increase that the House had included, and with the addition of a measure that will restrict the number of Americans receiving $1,400 stimulus checks.
New York is on track to receive as much as $70 billion in emergency aid from the bill.