Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Senate Democrats eke out 50-49 COVID-19 relief bill victory

President Biden is another step closer to signing his administration's COVID-19 relief bill into law.

The Senate on Saturday passed the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan along party lines with a 50-49 vote. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) was absent, so Vice President Kamala Harris was not needed to cast the tie-breaking vote on behalf of the Democrats, as expected. Democrats, despite having only a narrow majority in the upper chamber, were able to push the bill through thanks to a procedural tool called budget reconciliation, which allowed them to avoid Republican filibusters and pass the legislation with a simple majority.

The best chance for a surprise vote disappeared after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), one of the most moderate voices in the GOP Senate, stood with her Republican colleagues and voted against the bill.

Because the Senate amended the package, it will now head back to the Democratic-majority House, where it's likely to get a second stamp of approval, before it gets to Biden's desk. Despite the extra step, it's on pace to get there before March 14, when the current iteration of enhanced unemployment benefits expires. Read more at The Washington Post and NPR.