Early this morning the Senate approved the passage of the the stimulus bill after Vice President Kamala Harris cast her vote breaking the 50-50 tie. Democrats broke put in applause as Harris announced the 51-50 vote at around 5.30 a.m. Friday.
An all-night session saw senators proposing and voting for amendments. It was a marathon session with several proposals being made, some of which were accepted while others were rejected.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa proposed that the minimum wage increase to $15 per house should not be included at the moment as the pandemic is raging and many businesses especially small ones are suffering. It was carried through with a voice vote.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a vocal supporter of the wage increase, promised to press ahead as he said that there was a need to end the “crisis of starvation wages.”
There is a possibility that the minimum wage bill will not be able to get passed as there is some dissent among the Democrats especially during these pandemic times when the economy is shrinking daily and job losses especially in small businesses are increasing rapidly.
The budget has been returned to the House which will have to approve of the changes made by the Senate. After this final passage, several congressional committees will be set up to follow through with the next phase.
The Democrats wish to have the COVID relief package in place by March as the extra unemployment benefits as well as other pandemic related aid is set to expire.
The Senate amendments made with reference to the COVID bill are not binding on the Democrats. The President and his team are concerned about going head on with the relief packages.
On Friday President Biden will meet and discuss these issues with House committee chairs. The budget will be assembled as a bill under a process called reconciliation.