The Senate passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package Saturday by a razor-thin voting margin of 50-49. The bill went through a few last-minute changes to get to the finish line, back to the House, and on President Joe Biden’s desk as early as next week.
While a majority of Americans will still be receiving a $1,400 check, Biden initially wanted to cast a wider net for those eligible for such payments. In the end, both sides compromised on limiting the scope to single filers who earn an annual income of less than $75,000 and joint filers who make less than $150,000.
Progressives were also forced to lower the federal unemployment supplement from $400 to $300 per week. This amendment proved to be a necessary concession after progress to pass the bill was single-handedly halted by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who supported the reduced proposal because he felt giving Americans $100 more every month in unemployment wouldn’t motivate them to get back to work.
“We want people to get back to work. We’re gonna have a hard time getting people ready to go back in to keep the economy going,” Manchin said, per Politico. “It’d be awful for the doors to open up and there’s no one working. … That’s the problem.”
Manchin, a self-described “moderate conservative Democrat,” wields an exorbitant amount of power whenever something as politically divided as Biden’s economic relief bill hits the Senate floor for a vote. The $1.9 trillion package didn’t receive a single Republican vote, with Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska absent due to a death in the family.
While conservative lawmakers have fought tooth and nail to make changes to Biden’s bill, a Vox poll reveals nearly half of Republican voters prefer getting a deal done as quickly as possible, even as the package currently stands.