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February 5, 2021

Senate approves budget resolution, paving way for reconciliation

After a late-night session that ended this morning (Friday, February 5), the Senate approved the FY2021 budget resolution 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote after about 15 hours of consideration and votes on dozens of amendments. The resolution will enable Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process for President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief/stimulus bill, potentially allowing it to similarly pass the Senate with 50 votes plus the Vice President's tie-breaking vote, rather than be subject to the 60-vote filibuster threshold. The House, which passed its own version of the budget resolution on Wednesday (February 3), is expected to pass the Senate version later today.

The House Ways & Means Committee is planning a multiday markup of COVID relief/stimulus provisions under its jurisdiction Wednesday-Friday next week, and other committees will consider their portions. House and Senate consideration will follow in subsequent weeks, and Democrats hope to have the COVID relief/stimulus legislation enacted before the mid-March expiration of pandemic unemployment programs. Key provisions under the Biden plan are $400 billion to combat the pandemic, $350 billion in funding to state and local governments, $1,400 direct payments, and a $400/week unemployment insurance (UI) add-on and extension of pandemic unemployment programs through September.

Passage of the budget resolution followed the traditional "vote-a-rama" series of consecutive roll call votes on amendments offered after debate time expired. None of the amendments are binding, though they express the views of senators and some addressed key issues for the COVID relief/stimulus package. For instance, an amendment by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to express that economic impact payments should be targeted to those suffering from the virus, with upper-income taxpayers excluded, was adopted 99-1. A Collins amendment supporting the inclusion of more funding for the Provider Relief Fund, including targeted relief for rural areas, also passed 99-1. Another amendment sought to block a minimum wage increase during the pandemic.

Hundreds of amendments were filed and not voted on, including those related to international tax.

Below are some of the key amendment votes.




Senator John Thune (R-SD)

Deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to the authority of States or other taxing jurisdictions to tax certain income of employees for employment duties performed in other States or taxing jurisdictions ("mobile workforce;" modified from original amendment)

Adopted by voice vote

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Point of order against any measure that increases or eliminates the limitation on the State and local tax deduction if such increase or elimination would, as determined by the Joint Committee on Taxation, result in any taxpayer receiving a reduction in income taxes equal to or greater than $100,000

Failed 49-51

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)

Deficit-neutral reserve fund related to strengthening the Provider Relief Fund, including additional support for rural hospitals

Adopted 99-1

Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Make permanent the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's expiring rate cuts and reforms for individuals and small businesses

Failed 50-50

Senator John Hoeven (R-ND)

Prohibit implementation of a federal carbon tax

Failed 50-50

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT)

Create bipartisan congressional committees to improve the solvency of federal trust funds for Social Security and Medicare (TRUST Act)

Adopted 71-29

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

Expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) by increasing maximum contributions; allowing any health insurance plan to be considered HSA-eligible; and allowing for more preventative and health maintenance expenses to be covered, such as nutritional and dietary supplements

Adopted 53-47

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

Transparency regarding how much pandemic relief money has already been spent

Adopted by voice vote


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   •  Any member of the group at (202) 293-7474.