The Democrats’ slight advantage in Congress in 2020 will be dependent upon the whims of Vice President Kamala Harris, who will be tasked with delivering tie-breaking votes in the Senate, should the rest of the legislature decide to vote down party lines.
Just a few weeks into her first term as Vice President Harris is already providing that go-ahead ballot, this time on the highly controversial coronavirus stimulus bill.
The Senate early Friday approved a budget resolution that’s a key step toward fast-track passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan without support from Republicans. Vice President Kamala Harris was in the chair to cast the tie-breaking vote, her first.
Democrats in the chamber applauded after Harris announced the 51-50 vote at around 5:30 a.m. The action came after a grueling all-night session, where 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 due to the changes made by the Senate. Final passage will unlock the next phase in drafting of the virus relief bill, with the work divided among several congressional committees.
The relief plan has been highly controversial on account of the proposed $1,400 direct payments to Americans. Republicans were looking to keep those payments as limited as possible, (either in check size or distribution), while a great many of the left-leaning Democrats were pushing for the checks to be raised to $2,000 each.
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