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Congress Approves Budget, Paving the Way For Biden's COVID-19 Relief Package

During the marathon Senate session on Thursday into Friday, Vice President Harris had to cast her first tiebreaking vote in the divided Senate.
Senate TV via AP
During the marathon Senate session on Thursday into Friday, Vice President Harris had to cast her first tiebreaking vote in the divided Senate.

Congressional committees now move to the next stage of finalizing the details of President Biden's $1.9 trillion bill. Democrats are using a process that can pass the legislation on a party-line vote.

The Senate approved a budget resolution early Friday morning that tees up President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill for passage without Republican support. With the Senate evenly divided, Vice President cast the tie breaking vote.

Lawmakers approved the resolution shortly after 5:30 a.m. following hours of votes on amendments — a process known as a vote-a-rama.

The resolution allows Democrats to move forward with an eventual coronavirus relief bill that can circumvent the 60-vote threshold required to end a filibuster. They could now potentially pass the future bill with a simple majority.

The House must now pass the same version of the budget measure before lawmakers can begin writing the final relief package. That vote may come later Friday.

The budget resolution gives committees the authority to draft legislation reflecting Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. It's expected to eventually include $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans and expanded pandemic unemployment aid.

Republicans oppose the size of Biden's proposal and have offered a smaller alternative. The president said he "will not settle" on his pandemic relief bill.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz
Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.