Democrats moved to push through President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan with or without – most likely without – Republican support. Following an hours-long “vote-o-rama” (a sophisticated legislative procedure, for those who aren’t familiar), VP Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote to approve the budget plan in the Senate.
The deciding vote came early Friday morning, after about 15 hours of all-night debate, and votes on dozens of amendments. In the end, the Senate found itself in a 50-50 partisan deadlock, allowing Harris to break the tie in a 0530ET vote…
… but not before a series of amendments were passed to the budget plan that passed the House on Wednesday. Reuters offered an example: the Senate added a measure calling for increased funding for rural hospitals whose resources have been strained by the pandemic.
Shortly before the final vote, Democrats upped the pressure on Republicans by using amendments to reverse three earlier Trump-era votes that Republicans had won. This involved stripping support for the Canada-to-United States Keystone XL pipeline that Biden has blocked and support for hydraulic fracking to extract underground oil and natural gas.
Also overturned was a Republican amendment barring coronavirus aid to immigrants living in the United States illegally.
Given the changes approved by the Senate, the revised bill will now be kicked back to the House, which will need to approve the changes and agree on the Senate’s language. After all that is done, there is still one last step: Democrats will come together to craft the final relief bill, and pass it under special budget rules allowing them to circumvent a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The special rule is called “reconciliation”,