Senators worked throughout night to reach deal in coronavirus relief package
Democrats lead efforts to push a relief effort in the equally-divided Senate. They hope another round of government funding will be available when the last round of federal unemployment benefits expires next week. Kris Van Cleave reports.
- The mad scramble over President Biden's nearly $ 2 trillion coronavirus aid package. For now, the Democrats are leading efforts to move the measure forward in the evenly divided Senate. They hope to allow another round of government funding when the last round of federal unemployment benefits expires late next week. The measure provides $ 1,400 stimulus checks for Americans who earn $ 75,000 a year or less.
Emergency grants and small business loans, state and local state aid, public health money and an increase in unemployment benefits. On Friday, the Ministry of Labor reported that 3,079 new jobs were created for the country's economy in the past month. Mr Biden says that this shows the urgency of this aid package.
We're reporting on this Capitol store - story from Capitol Hill and the White House this morning where it was a long night. We start with Kris Van Cleave on Capitol Hill. Kris, I hope you're not too tired. What's the latest there right now?
KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Good morning, Jeff. We are about 20 hours, 20 amendments, three of which have been passed, and a motion to adjourn and leave. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last night, "Make no mistake, we'll keep working until we get the job done."
Well, that work is not done yet. The Senate's Vote-a-Rama was distracted for 12 hours from what some call voting-a-drama. Democrats spent half a day bogged down in a change that looked at unemployment benefits. After sometimes heated discussions, Holdout Joe Manchin of West Virginia agreed to extend federal unemployment benefits through early September, but reduce the amount from $ 400 to $ 300 per week.
That corresponds to the current number. The change will also make some unemployment benefits tax-free. Once that deal was struck, the actual voting could begin. This is part of a secret legislative process known as reconciliation that will allow the Senate to pass this $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill by a simple majority.
But first of all, any single Senator can offer as many amendments as they want, and Republicans have many amendments. Why? Because they can force Democrats to vote on issues they might otherwise not want, which you can later bring up in an attack notice. Now one of the big questions of this Congress was how long Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could keep his razor-thin majority in step.
Well, yesterday that lasted until around noon. It underscores how precarious a 50:50 split in the Senate can be. One thing that will benefit the Democrats is that the Republicans have a Senator. Dan Sullivan from Alaska attends a family funeral.
Right now there is a 59-49 majority here in the Senate for Democrats. We expect a vote maybe later today. Probably pass a party line vote. Dana?
- Good. Kris, thank you. Precarious, the key word there, of course.
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