The Senate passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package with a 50-49 vote on Saturday.
Why it matters: COVID relief has been a central promise for Biden and passing this bill has been a major priority for the administration and congressional Democrats.
Context: The Senate passed the economic stimulus bill after senators debated for over 24 hours and held a marathon vote on amendments between Friday night and Saturday.
- Democrats approved the package through the budget reconciliation process, meaning it did not require any Republican support to pass.
- However, the reconciliation process also prevented Democrats from including a provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour in the legislation.
- The Senate parliamentarian ruled in February that the wage increase does not directly affect the federal government’s finances, meaning it could not be passed through reconciliation.
What’s next: The Senate version of the bill now goes to the House for likely approval next week before President Biden can sign it into law.
Highlights from the bill:
- Expanded federal funding for COVID programs, including $46 billion for testing and tracing; $7.6 billion for pandemic response at community health centers; $5.2 billion to support research, development and manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics and other medical products; and $7.7 billion to expand the public health care workforce.
- $1,400 stimulus payments for Americans making less than $80,000 annually and couples earning less than $160,000.
- $128.6 billion to help K-12 schools reopen.
- $350 billion in state and local aid.
- $25 billion in aid to restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.
- $19 billion in emergency rental assistance.
- $7.25 billion in funds for Paycheck Protection Program loans.
- Extending the enhanced unemployment insurance of $300 per week through Aug. 29.