Senate approves budget for $1.9 trillion COVID relief package – CNET

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After an overnight session, the Senate on Friday morning approved a budget resolution for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. The budget resolution, which does not have the force of law, paves the way for Democrats to move forward on a subsequent COVID-19 relief bill that can bypass a filibuster in the Senate.

Among the amendments that senators agreed to during a marathon legislative session were measures to block tax increases on small businesses and to create a fund that provides grants for restaurants impacted by the pandemic, according to The New York Times. There was also bipartisan support to restrict $1,400 direct payments in Biden’s stimulus package from going to Americans with high incomes, though the amendment didn’t specify what income level would be considered too high for a $1,400 stimulus check

Senators also agreed to a Republican proposal to prohibit minimum wage increases during the pandemic, according to the Times. This could signal trouble for part of Biden’s stimulus package, which calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.

The budget resolution now heads back to the House, where lawmakers must pass the same version before they begin writing the final relief bill. That vote is reportedly expected to come as soon as Friday. Once the House approves the funding proposed by the Senate, Congress will use the approved budget as a blueprint to build Biden’s bill, which is expected to come up for a vote in March, if not before.

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