Slimmest of Margins

By a 50-49 margin, Senate Democrats pass a $1.9 Trillion Covid-19 Relief Plan.

The Senate approved the package along party lines, 50-49, after deliberating all of Friday and into Saturday morning. The package now heads back to the House, which must approve the Senate-revised legislation before sending it to the White House for Mr. Biden’s signature. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) brought the chamber to a standstill for much of Friday, when he balked at a Democratic proposal to extend federal jobless benefits until Oct. 4. 

Longest Recorded Vote in History

Democratic leaders held open an amendment vote during the negotiations with Mr. Manchin for nearly 12 hours, making it the longest recorded vote in modern Senate history.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, was not present due to a family emergency. Thus  Vice President Kamala Harris did not have to break a 50-50 tie. 

The bill now heads back to the House where Biden recommends passage. If the Progressives hold out for more, it will delay or even fail passage.

What's In the Compromise?

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  1. Current $300 weekly benefits extended through Sept. 6.  
  2. $1,400 direct payments to many Americans
  3. Senate Democrats lowered the weekly payments to $300 from their $400 level in the House bill, phased out $1,400 direct payments more quickly for some households and stripped out a minimum-wage increase that had passed the House last weekend.
  4. The first $10,200 of the 2020 unemployment benefits will be nontaxable for households making less than $150,000.
  5. $350 billion direct aid to state and local governments,
  6. An amendment by Tom Carper (D, Delaware) to extend by a year limits on how much high-income earners can deduct certain business losses passed.
  7. Temporary expansion of Child Tax Credit of up to $3,600 for one year through 2021
  8. $34 billion to expand Affordable Care Act subsidies 
  9. $14 billion for vaccine distribution.

Boondoggle 

Much of this is a big boondoggle as noted previously. 

I disagree with at least some aspects of points 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. I do not know the details of points 6 and 8. I endorse point 9. 

Money should not go to anyone who did not lose their job, people should not make more being unemployed than they did employed. And there should be no handouts to states. 

I discussed point 5 in detail in Democrats Propose a "Fair Way" Forward. Who Gets the Free Money?

Also check out Mitt Romney Explains Biden’s Stimulus Bill Is a $1.9 Trillion Clunker

The best provision on the compromise bill is what's not in it. The Senate did not pass Bernie Sanders' minimum wage hike. 

Mish