Washington — The Senate handed avery early Friday morning, a key step for the Democratic-controlled Congress to go President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid proposal with none Republican votes. The 51-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie, got here after an all-night marathon “vote-a-arama.”
The “vote-a-rama” included 41 votes with dozens of amendments thought-about. Harris forged her first tie-breaking votes as vice chairman, permitting the decision to lastly go shortly earlier than 6 a.m. with help from all 50 Democratic senators.
The Senate voted to reject a serious element of the Biden plan — elevating the federal minimal wage to $15 an hour. In a voice vote, senators narrowly permitted an modification from Iowa Republican Joni Ernst that will ban the rise throughout. Nevertheless, the rise could possibly be restored when the ultimate measure is hashed out.
Passing a finances decision is a part of a course of generally known as reconciliation, which permits laws to go within the Senate with solely a easy majority as a substitute of the everyday 60-vote threshold, which means Democrats would be capable to green-light it with none Republican votes. However Republicans pressured Democrats to go on the document with a collection of votes on a slew of amendments within the politically painful
The Home handed the Senate-approved finances decision afterward Friday. Now that each homes of Congress have permitted the decision, which serves because the car for the laws, committees can start formulating a reconciliation invoice itself. The ultimate reconciliation invoice will obtain 20 hours of debate, after which one other “vote-a-rama” earlier than a vote in each chambers.
A “vote-a-rama” is a Senate custom through which the minority celebration makes an attempt to place political stress on the bulk for attempting to go controversial laws and might typically final into the early hours of the morning. This one did.
“We’ll put senators on the document. Count on votes to cease Washington from actively killing jobs throughout a restoration — like terminating the Keystone pipeline; that job-killing, one-size-fits-all minimal wage hike; and whether or not to bar tax hikes on small companies all through this emergency,” Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell mentioned on the Senate flooring Thursday, calling the finances “phony” and “partisan.”
Lots of the amendments introduced ahead by Republicans failed. However others acquired bipartisan help, similar to an modification proposed by Republican Senator Roger Wicker and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema to spice up the restaurant trade, which was permitted with a vote of 90-10.
The Senate additionally permitted a bipartisan modification launched by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Susan Collins to stop “upper-income residents” from receiving stimulus checks, though “higher earnings” was not outlined. One other modification that handed by a smaller bipartisan margin was launched by GOP Senators Todd Younger and Tom Cotton, prohibiting the federal government from offering direct checks to undocumented immigrants.
In a speech on the Senate flooring Wednesday, Democratic Senator Brian Schatz urged People to tune out the “vote-a-rama,” calling it a political stunt.
“We have to bear in mind what that is all about. This isn’t a few goofy 10-hour or 12-hour or 15-hour course of the place we stack amendments and attempt to set one another up, that we’ll one way or the other trick somebody into taking a foul place that may be become a marketing campaign commercial,” Schatz mentioned. “It’s nonsense, and all people ought to ignore it if they’ll. Do something to not watch vote-a-rama.”
In 2017, Republicans used finances reconciliation to go a tax minimize that price practically $2 trillion, and which primarily benefited higher-income People and companies. Democrats used the “vote-a-rama” course of through the debate over that laws in an unsuccessful try to bathroom down the invoice with amendments.
Brian Dakss contributed reporting.