Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill Approved By Senate 50-49, With No Republican Support
After 27-hours in session, the Senate approved President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan COVID-19 stimulus package on Saturday morning. Democrats fought off numerous amendments from Republicans who intentionally extended the session, hoping to break supporters’ resolve. The final vote of 50-49 had the support of no Republicans. The Senate bill now will go back to the House of Representatives to vote on the changes.
“Today I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise, that help is on the way,” Biden said in a statement from the White House soon after the bill’s final vote. “It wasn’t always pretty, but it was so desperately needed, urgently needed.”
A painful concession from Democrats was the reduction of unemployment benefit supplements from $400 a week to $300, an issue Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) refused to compromise on.
“The most important thing is what we delivered for people,” Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in an interview after the historically long session. “The danger of undershooting is far greater than the danger of overshooting, and this may have been our last chance.”
Under the Senate’s new provisions, Americans making $75,000 or less annually will receive a $1,400 stimulus check. Unemployment benefits will also be extended through the start of September with a $300 per week federal supplement to existing packages. The package also supplies $350 billion for state, local and tribal governments, $130 billion to primary and secondary schools, $14 billion or vaccine distribution and $12 billion to assist reopening businesses. Parents will also receive tax credits in the amount of $300 per child five years old and younger and $250 per child six to seventeen years old.
Estimates from researchers at Columbia University say the bill will save 13 million Americans from poverty. The child payments specifically will halve child poverty rates. “Not since Social Security have we made that kind of commitment to cut poverty,” Christopher Wimer, co-director of Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy, said in a statement.