After 'Vote-a-Rama,' Harris Breaks Tie on Budget Bill

Chamber spent 15 hours voting on amendments
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2021 5:22 AM CST
Updated Feb 5, 2021 6:43 AM CST
After 'Vote-a-Rama,' Harris Breaks Tie on Budget Bill
Vice President Kamala Harris arrives for the ceremonial swearing-ins of Sen. Alex Padilla and Patrick Leahy in the Old Senate Chamber, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.   (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

After a freewheeling 15-hour "vote-a-rama," Vice President Kamala Harris used her vote to break a 50-50 Senate tie and clear the way for President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan early Friday. The budget resolution will allow Democrats to bypass the filibuster and get the relief package through the Senate without Republican support, though completing the legislation is expected to take weeks, the Washington Post reports. During the "vote-a-rama" triggered by Senate rules, there were votes on 43 nonbinding amendments, and Republicans managed to score a few wins, reports the Hill. "It’s the one time with budget vote-a-rama where anybody can ask for a vote on anything," said GOP Sen. Mike Lee.

With the Senate evenly split, some measures failed on a 50-50 tie, but there were numerous bipartisan successes, the New York Times reports. An amendment to ensure stimulus checks aren't sent to "upper-income taxpayers" passed 99 to 1, though "upper income" was not defined. A GOP-led measure to block tax increases on small businesses passed unanimously. Eight Democrats sided with Republicans to block stimulus money from going to undocumented immigrants, though Biden's proposal had not included any such move. The Senate also narrowly approved an amendment to ban increasing the federal minimum wage during the pandemic. The failed GOP-led amendments included a measure that opposed packing the Supreme Court. (Read more Senate stories.)

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