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Senate passes resolution to advance COVID-19 relief package

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The Senate early Friday narrowly approved a budget resolution for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — allowing Democrats to push the legislation through Congress without Republican support.

The upper chamber ended the “vote-a-rama,” which began at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, by adopting the resolution in a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

It marked the first time Harris — in her capacity as president of the Senate — cast a tie-breaking vote after becoming veep on Jan. 20.

The adoption allows the Senate to proceed toward a final bill under the budget reconciliation rules, which would let the Dems pass a coronavirus stimulus plan by circumventing a GOP filibuster if their caucus remains united.

“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 added: “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.”

Bill Cassidy (from left) John Barrasso, Cory Booker and Pat Toomey make their way to a series of Senate votes known as vote-a-rama.
Bill Cassidy (from left) John Barrasso, Cory Booker and Pat Toomey make their way to a series of Senate votes known as a “vote-a-rama.”
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Democrats had flexed their muscle by offering an amendment reversing some earlier votes about the future of the Keystone XL pipeline and coronavirus aid to immigrants living illegally in the US.

Senate Minority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated earlier that Republicans would try to extract concessions from Democrats in uncomfortable votes.

“We’re going to put senators on the record,” he said Thursday, according to Fox News. “Expect votes to stop Washington from actively killing jobs during a recovery — like terminating the Keystone pipeline; that job-killing, one-size-fits-all minimum wage hike; and whether to bar tax hikes on small businesses for the duration of this emergency.”

Mitch McConnell indicated that Republicans would try to extract concessions from Democrats in uncomfortable votes.
Mitch McConnell indicated that Republicans would try to extract concessions from Democrats in uncomfortable votes.
Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Thursday, Schumer slammed Republicans for planning to introduce “messaging amendments” to “score political points.”

“What amendments our friends in the minority propose is entirely up to them,” Schumer said. He added that he hopes Republicans don’t use “the debate over pandemic relief to sharpen … partisan talking points.”

With Post wires

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