Senate prepares for COVID-19 relief bill voting marathon Friday


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – On Capitol Hill, Democrats are trying to pass President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan, but Republicans brought the entire process to a grinding halt Thursday night.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell promised Republicans would do everything they can to stop Democrats from passing their COVID relief bill and that’s exactly what they’re doing. Republicans forced the Senate to stay in session into the middle of the night.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) forced the Senate clerks to read out loud all 628 pages of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

“All I’m trying to do is make this a more deliberative process, obviously shine the light on this abusive and obscene amount of money,” Johnson said.

The move kept the Senate in session into the middle of the night and delayed the process of getting the package through the Senate. Democrats say it’s all a stunt.

“It will accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said.

Key compromises include removing the $15 an hour and federal minimum wage provision and lowering the income limits for who will qualify for stimulus checks, secured support from all Democratic senators. However, Republicans are still against the bill, as Texas Sen. John Cornyn explains why.

“It’s purely a partisan bill, it’s really a trojan horse for non-COVID-related spending,” he said.

However, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy called those objections “disingenuous,” saying the Republican-backed CARES Act that was passed by Congress last year was very similar to the plan Democrats are proposing now.

“Take a look at what was broadly part of the CARES Act that was supported by every single Republican. And what is broadly part of the American Rescue Plan,” he said.

The Senate is now back in session Friday morning for that so-called vote-a-rama. Republicans are expected to introduce a slew of amendments, but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to stop or even significantly change the COVID relief package.

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