Vice President Harris casts the deciding vote on COVID-19 relief plan

Democrats in the upper chamber applauded after Harris announced the 51-50 vote about 5:30 a.m. The action came after a grueling all-night session, in which senators voted on amendments that could define the contours of the eventual COVID-19 aid bill.

The budget now returns to the House, where it will have to be approved again because of the changes made by the Senate. Final passage will unlock the next phase in drafting the relief bill, with the work divided among several congressional committees.

What’s in and out of the relief package:

  • Raising the minimum wage failed: Joni Ernst adopted an amendment against raising the wage during the pandemic. Ernst said a wage hike at this time would be “devastating” for small businesses.
  • Bernie Sanders vowed to fight on. “We need to end the crisis of starvation wages,” he said.
  • None of the amendments to the budget is binding on Democrats as they draft their COVID-19 relief plan, but passage of a wage increase could prove difficult

The Los Angeles Times:

  • Republicans also proposed to cut off funding to schools that do not reopen for in-person classes once teachers are vaccinated. FAILED.
  • Republicans wanted to reduce funds to states like New York and block funds from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal law enforcement. FAILED.
  • The Senate, by unanimous vote, agreed to a motion from Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Republicans of Florida, to block tax increases on small businesses during the pandemic.
  • Lawmakers also backed a measure from Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, to establish a fund to provide grants to food and drinking establishments affected by the coronavirus crisis. 
  • On a vote of 58 to 42, the Senate agreed to prohibit stimulus money from going to undocumented immigrants — something that is not included in Mr. Biden’s economic rescue plan.
  • 99 to 1 — a measure from Mr. Manchin and Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, to restrict $1,400 direct checks included in Mr. Biden’s plan from going to high earners, though it did not specify what income level was too high.

The New York Times:

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