The U.S. Senate has approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Saturday bringing a big pandemic assistance win for President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies.
It was a narrow 50-49 party-line vote which sets up the bill’s trek back to the House for an expected approval before it makes it to the Whitehouse where President Biden will sign it into law. It was a must for the Dems to pass the bill prior to March 14, when jobless benefits are set to expire for millions of Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said, “We tell the American people, help is on the way. Our job right now is to help our country get from this stormy present to that hopeful future.”
The COVID—19 relief package is nearly one-tenth the size of the entire U.S. economy and was a crucial political moment for Biden and the Democrats. Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, was not present for the vote.
The bill will provide direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans, extend emergency unemployment benefits, and additional spending for COVID-19 vaccines and testing. It also provides assistance to states and cities, schools and hurting industries, along with tax breaks to help lower-earning people.
The Republicans were solidly against the bill, citing that it was a wasteful spending exercise ladened with pork that had little or nothing to with pandemic relief or assistance.