A budget resolution for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package was narrowly approved by the Senate early Friday, enabling Democrats to drive the legislation through Congress without Republican support.
The “vote-a-rama,” which started about 2:30 p.m., was terminated by the upper chamber. Thursday, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote by accepting the resolution in a 51-50 vote.
It marked the first time Harris cast a tie-breaking vote since becoming veep on Jan. 20, in her role as president of the Senate.
The adoption helps the Senate to move towards a final bill under the rules of budget reconciliation, which will allow the Dems, if their caucus stays intact, to pass a coronavirus stimulus package by circumventing a GOP filibuster.
“I am so thankful that our caucus stayed together in unity. We had no choice given the problems facing America and the desire to move forward. And we have moved forward,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “Many bipartisan amendments were adopted, so this was a bipartisan activity.”
He continued by saying, “We cannot underscore enough how much help America needs during this awful crisis and we cannot miss the point that we still have a long way to go. This was a giant first step … to bring America back, to overcome this horrible crisis and then move America forward.”
By proposing an amendment reversing some earlier votes about the future of the Keystone XL pipeline and coronavirus assistance to immigrants residing illegally in the US, Democrats had flexed their muscle.
Senate Minority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier suggested that in uncomfortable votes, Republicans would seek to draw concessions from Democrats.
According to Fox News, “We will put senators on the record,” he said on Thursday. “Expect votes to prevent Washington from deliberately killing jobs during a recovery, such as the termination of the Keystone pipeline; the job-killing, one-size-fits-all minimum wage hike; and whether for the duration of this emergency to bar tax increases on small businesses.”