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.