U.S. Democrats are anxious for Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s top priority – his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill – in the next two weeks. Their biggest challenge lies just ahead: getting it through a Senate where they have the slimmest of majorities.
The House of Representatives narrowly approved the bill to fight the pandemic and boost the economy early Saturday. The action now moves to the Senate, where Democrats don’t expect much if any Republican help, even though polls indicate a majority of Americans – around 70 percent – favor the measure.
That means Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris may have to cast a tie-breaking vote in a chamber where Republicans control 50 seats and Democrats and their allies control the other 50. Even this outcome depends on all the Democrats staying united behind the first major bill to come through Congress in the Biden administration.
“We’re moving ahead with a bill that probably will get no Republican votes in the Senate, but will have broad Republican support in the country,” Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.
Republicans in Congress say the plan is too expensive and includes things like transportation projects that have nothing to do with relief for COVID-19.
“It’s $1.9 trillion, more than half of it won’t even be spent in this calendar year … So how could it be about COVID relief? No one expects a year from now that we’ll be in the Covid crisis we are in now,” Republican Senator Rob Portman told ABC’s “This Week.”
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