WASHINGTON (AP) — 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. ET. 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.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer D-N.Y., called passage of the resolution the “first big step to putting our country back on the road to recovery.”
By moving on a fast track, the goal for Democrats is to have COVID relief approved by March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires. It’s an aggressive timeline that will test the ability of the new administration and Congress to deliver.
Biden, who has been meeting with lawmakers in recent days to discuss the package, will talk Friday at the White House with the House committee chairs who will be assembling the bill under the budget process known as “reconciliation.”