The US Senate passed a budget resolution on Friday for Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion ‘COVID-19 Relief Package’.
As President of the Senate, Ms Harris broke a 50-50 deadlock in the vote to move forward with the plan, which has been a topic of much debate on Capitol Hill ever since the inauguration of President Biden.
In the run-up to passing the bill, Senate Democrats had exercised the option for budget reconciliation. This is a method that allows the bill to pass with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes that would normally be required. It is worth noting that this option circumvents the normal rules of filibustering.
There had been concerns about the economic impact of the bill from the Republican camp. A ‘vote-a-rama’ ensued, with many Senators tabling amendments to the bill. This ensured that the debate continued well into the night, with a conclusion not being reached until 5:30am EST.
One of the more prominent amendments was tabled by Senators Todd Young (R-Indiana), and Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas).
The Senators asked that illegal immigrants be prohibited from accessing any stimulus payments set out in the bill. The amendment passed with a 58-42 vote, which saw 8 Democrats break from the party to side with the Republican camp.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticised the relief package as a “phoney budget”. Further Republican disdain towards the bill was echoed in the final vote, with all 50 Republican Senators voting against the passage of the bill. This forced a tie-breaking vote to be cast.
The House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed its own measure on Wednesday. This means Congress can now begin to create a finalised relief package.