Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

Third stimulus check: who voted to pass budget resolution through Senate?

Biden’s stimulus bill, which would include a third round of new checks, is edging ever closer to being passed now that Democrats don't need GOP support.

Third stimulus check: who voted to pass budget resolution through Senate?
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP

President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is looking closer than ever to being signed into law. The plan is very likely to include a booster $1,400 third stimulus check to add to the skinny $600 pay out in December.

Talks on a bipartisan deal came to an end after a group of 10 Republican lawmakers proposed a non-starter, a targeted bill of just $600bn.

With a bipartisan deal off the table, and a 60-vote majority necessary to pass the bill normally, Democrats opted to use a process called “budget reconciliation.” For this type of bill, passing a budget resolution allows Democrats to pass a bill using simple majority of 51, in other words without the support of the GOP.

Who voted to pass the budget reconciliation in the Senate?

Early Friday morning the Senate passed a budget resolution which paves the way for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package to be passed.

All 48 Democratic Senators and both Independent Senators – Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine – voted in favour of the resolution. The 51-50 vote in the Senate required the tie-breaking intervention of Vice President Kamala Harris as both caucuses voted along party lines.

Later on Friday the House of Representatives also passed the motion, paving the way to pass the American Rescue Plan. The vote was 219-209 along mostly partly lines to approve the resolution as amended by the Senate. Jared Golden was the only Democrat to vote against the measure. House Democratic leaders have said the chamber should be ready to pass relief legislation by the end of the month, if not sooner.

Because the Senate amended the House-passed budget resolution in a “vote-a-rama”, the version passed Friday morning will now go back to the House, where lawmakers are expected to vote on it quickly.

Senate ‘vote-a-rama’: what happened?

Passage of the stimulus package came after a prolonged spell of amendments in the Senate known as ‘vote-a-rama’, where Senators are permitted to table a series of amendments to the impending bill. This ritual has become a part of Senate business and serves as a way for each party to call for a vote on a series of contentious issues.

In this instance it allowed each party to get the other on record on a series of issues, which may dictate the future of Biden’s coronavirus response. Most were roundly dismissed during this round of voting but one, related to the new round of stimulus checks, garnered almost unanimous support.

An amendment tabled by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine called for "upper income taxpayers" to be excluded from receiving the payments. Of the 100 Senators, 99 voted in favour in of the amendment suggesting that there is bipartisan support for tightening eligibility requirements.

At this stage the amendment is not binding but it will be food for thought for President Biden, who is already reportedly willing to make some concessions on the scope of the stimulus payments.