No Republicans Voted for $1.9 Trillion COVID19 Relief Package, Dems Push Ahead

Senate Democrats advanced their efforts to avoid a GOP filibuster on Tuesday by passing a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill without Republican support, a sign that leadership expects to have the full Democratic caucus on board for the final package.

The vote, which comes a day after President Joe Biden met with a group of Senate Republicans, passed 50-49. President Biden told Senate Democrats Tuesday on a private caucus call that the meeting went well, but that the Republicans’ proposal offering a $618 billion counterproposal is not sufficient.

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While Democrats say that there’s nothing stopping Republicans from supporting the $1.9 trillion Biden plan, GOP senators are critical of Democrats for pursuing a process lacking any Republican support after Biden said he would work across the aisle. Republicans also argued that money from previous relief packages remains unspent. The current unemployment benefits expire in mid-March, and Democrats believe they need to pass a bill by March 7 to prevent a lapse and give states time to implement the new policy.

“I feel good that we’ve identified what needs to be done and have a plan for getting it done. I worry about delay, every day that goes by that doesn’t pass,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “That’s been the Republican approach from the beginning, it’s Mitch McConnell’s approach: hold up, hold up, hold up.”

“We’ve really gotta get this bill out early on. I really think we need to have it early in March” on the Senate floor, said Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden of Oregon. Biden “and Janet Yellen are interested in a bipartisan package and talk about it. But they make clear the American people want something that really helps them.”

As part of the budget reconciliation process, the Senate will have a “vote-a-rama” later this week, during which any senator can file an amendment for a vote.

Watch Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer deliver comments on the COVID package, below.

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