Democrats pass Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package

US President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress moved ahead with their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Friday as lawmakers approved a budget plan that will allow them to build Biden’s plan through in the coming weeks without Republican support.

By a party-line vote of 219-209, the House of Representatives passed the budget plan, after the Senate approved it in a pre-dawn vote. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate for the first time.

Biden said he was open to compromise with Republicans as long as they did not slow things down and continued weakness in the job market, underscored by data released on Friday, proved the need for aggressive action, Biden said.

Republicans have floated a $600 billion aid package, less than a third the size of the Democratic plan. Even some Democrats, like Larry Summers, an economic adviser to former President Barack Obama, have warned that Biden might be spending too much.

Republican Representative Michael Burgess said Congress should wait until all of the previous $4 trillion in pandemic relief has been spent. He said $1 trillion has yet to go out the door.

The budget resolution enables Democrats to pass Biden’s plan by a simple majority in the 100-member Senate instead of the 60 votes required for most legislation. That means Democrats, who control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, might not need Republican votes. Democrats have a 10-seat majority in the House.

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