The Biden Administration finally got its first victory as the President’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill finally passed the Senate 50-49 on Saturday. According to Bloomberg, this follows more than 25-hours of deliberating and amendment votes.
Pleased Biden issued a statement from the White House Saturday afternoon, touting his plan’s widespread public support even if it didn’t earn any Republican votes. “By passing this plan, we’ll have proved that this government, this democracy, can still work. It has to be done. It will improve people’s lives,” the President said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also defended the relief bill’s passage along party lines, saying it showed the Republicans that they could do it alone.
Now called, “The American Rescue Plan Act,” the relief bill now returns to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said a vote will be held Tuesday. While some House progressives have complained about changes made by the Senate, none so far have threatened to withhold votes.
The vote was stalled for nearly 12 hours on Friday because West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin balked at a deal to extend supplemental unemployment benefits into October.
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Manchin found himself at the center of a political tug-o-war as Republicans attempted to get him to vote for a proposal by Senator Rob Portman of Ohio that would extend the benefits until July 18. On the other side were Democrats, from the President on down, lobbying for the moderate senator to vote for their proposal.
Manchin finally signed on to a deal that would provide $300 a week in extra benefits through Sept. 6 and make the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance benefits non-taxable for households with incomes of less than $150,000.
Manchin said in a statement “We have reached a compromise that enables the economy to rebound quickly while also protecting those receiving unemployment benefits from being hit with unexpected tax bills next year.”
Friday evening, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the Senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome.”
Democrats and Biden aim to sign the relief bill into law next week.