Senate begins debate on Covid relief bill after limiting $1,400 checks, adding other spending

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Senate voted Thursday to start out debate on President Joe Biden’s $1.nine trillion Covid-19 reduction bundle in a party-line vote that units the level for a contentious procedure with Republicans.

The procedural movement handed via a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. It got here after Senate Democrats made some adjustments to the Area-passed model, together with new limits to eligibility for the $1,400 money bills.

“It’s time to inform the American those that lend a hand is at the method,” Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated earlier than the vote.

Ultimate passage within the Senate may come this weekend, after debate and votes on amendments. The method used to be not on time after Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, compelled all of the 628-page invoice to be learn at the Senate flooring on Thursday afternoon. As soon as handed, the Area will want to vote once more at the measure earlier than it may be despatched to the president.

The regulation is the fabricated from negotiations between the Senate Democrats and Biden. The invoice does no longer want any Republican votes to move as a result of Democrats are the use of a different funds procedure to circumvent the filibuster.

Different adjustments come with boosting the well being care subsidies below COBRA for jobless other people from 85 p.c to 100 p.c, and making all Covid-19 scholar mortgage reduction tax-free, stated a Senate Democratic aide. There is additionally some other $200 million for Amtrak, $510 million for homeless services and products below FEMA and $175 million to the Company for Public Broadcasting.

The Senate invoice additionally slaps new “guardrails” at the $350 billion for state and native reduction, the Democratic aide stated. That provision is a number one goal of Republican opposition.

The regulation additionally supplies $eight.five billion in reduction for rural well being care suppliers. Sen. Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has driven for added investment in that space.

Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blasted the Democratic invoice as a “partisan spending spree” in a while earlier than Thursday’s procedural vote.

Earlier than a last vote may also be taken, there can be a duration of limitless amendments, referred to as a vote-a-rama. Republicans say they’re making plans to take a look at to position Democrats at the spot with myriad amendments, forcing them to protect politically contentious provisions within the invoice. That may most likely come with motions to “strike” positive insurance policies.

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