Senate takes up $1.9 Billion Relief Bill by a small margin

The Senate accepts a $ 1.9 billion relief bill with a small margin

Business News: Senate takes up $1.9 Billion Relief Bill by a small margin.

The Senate voted Thursday to begin debating a $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill after Democrats made 11th hour changes aimed at ensuring they could bring President Joe Biden’s top legislative priority through. the precariously divided room.

Democrats were hoping for Senate approval of the package before next week, in time for the House to sign and quickly submit the bill to Biden. They were facing opposition from Republicans argued that the huge price of the measure ignored promising signs that the pandemic and the wounded economy were changing.

Democratic leaders have made more than a dozen belated additions to their package, reflecting their need to cement unanimous support from all of their senators – plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ casting vote – to succeed in the 50-50 chamber. It is widely expected that the Senate will pass the bill and the House will hand it over to Biden for his signature by mid-March, granting him a crucial early legislative victory.

The 51-50 Senate vote to begin discussing the package, with Harris pushing Democrats over the top, underscored how they were navigating the package through Congress with virtually no margin for error. In the House their majority is 10 meager votes.

The bill, aimed at fighting the killer virus and restoring the baffled economy, will provide direct payments of up to $ 1,400 to most Americans. There is also money for COVID-19 vaccines and tests, aid to state and local governments, aid for schools and the airline industry, tax breaks for low-income workers and families with children, and health insurance subsidies.

“We will not be shy in the face of a great challenge,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y.

The new provisions offered attractive elements for all types of Democrats. Progressives obtained money to promote feeding programs, federal health care subsidies for jobless workers, tax-free student loans, and money for public broadcasting and consumer protection surveys.

Johnson’s move, which would have taken many hours to complete, pointed to a broader topic than the GOP: Democrats were ramming an overpriced bill while ignoring a growing number of vaccinations and other signs suggesting the country’s pandemic ordeal was beginning. to loosen up.

“Instead of going into a dark tunnel, we are speeding out of it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky said.

The economic recovery started stalling late last year as the virus increased, causing hiring to drop in recent months. Employers only added 49,000 jobs in January and cut 227,000 in December. Economists estimate that the February employment report released Friday will show earnings of 175,000, not enough to quickly make up for the nearly 10 million jobs lost due to the pandemic-induced recession.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that economic growth will exceed 4% this year without Biden’s bailout package. Republicans cite the economy is pointing upward as proof, but Democrats say strong economic stimulus is still needed to prevent a relapse.