The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package is one step closer to reaching president Joe Biden’s desk, after the Senate passed the contentious bill Saturday (March 6) afternoon.
After deliberating for over 24 straight hours, the Senate reached a final vote of 50-49. As expected, every Republican chose to vote “nay” on the legislation created to aid the American people. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska did not attend.
Discourse over amendments, including the amount of unemployment insurance recipients should receive and the federal minimum wage, prolonged the final vote. The amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 was scrapped from the package but $1,400 stimulus checks, $14 billion for vaccine distribution and additional $300 unemployment insurance measures are all included in the massive relief bill.
Since his presidential campaign began, President Biden has been adamant about delivering aid to struggling Americans. Shortly after the bill passed in the Senate, the president took to Twitter to thank the new Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and the rest of his party members.
“When I took office, I promised help was on the way,” he tweeted. “Thanks to @SenSchumer and Senate Democrats, we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise. I hope the American Rescue Plan receives a quick passage in the House so it can be sent to my desk to be signed.”
Senator Bernie Sanders called the bill “the most consequential and significant legislation for working families that Congress has debated for many, many decades.”
“The working families of our country today are hurting in a way that they have not hurt since the Great Depression, and they want their government to hear their pain and come to their aid,” he said. “And that is not too much to ask.”
Republicans proposed over 30 amendments to the bill, which they believe is too expensive. After the vote, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate, “has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way or through a less rigorous process.”
The stimulus payments could arrive in Americans’ direct deposit accounts or via check or debit cards shortly after Biden signs the bill into law. The president said during a press conference Saturday afternoon that the plan “will get checks out the door starting this month to the Americans that so desperately need the help.”