Vice President Kamala Harris made her first tie-breaking vote on Friday in a move to accelerate a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package intended to offer much needed relief to Americans during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, USA Today reports.
Following Friday’s vote President Biden is expected to meet with Democrat leaders and deliver remarks regarding the economy.
Harris submitted her vote as president of the Senate around 5:30 a.m. on Friday, securing a 51-50 vote along party lines.
“The yays are 50. The nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative. And the concurrent resolution as amended is adopted,” Harris stated.
However, some political pundits hope that Harris’ interventions will be few and far between, noting that the path to a possible 2024, 2028 presidential run is only possible with bi-partisan support in the Senate. The need for Harris’ vote as a tie-breaker on measures with unknown outcomes also infringes on the vice president’s mobility, meaning she would need to remain close to the Capitol in order to cast her vote.
Harris’ intervention as president of the Senate means Biden’s American Rescue Plan can now pass the Senate without Republican support. Democrats were able to use reconciliation, which allows budget-related bills to bypass a Senate filibuster, one of the many points of contention between Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Without reconciliation, Dems would need at least 60 votes to pass budget-related bills to avoid a Senate filibuster.
The measure will head to the House of Representatives who will work with Senate committees to amend or negotiate, meaning the bill could pass by the end of February.
Democrats have made their position evident, signaling they intend to support President Biden’s American Rescue Plan which calls for another round of $1,400 payments to qualifying Americans, another $130 billion to reopen schools. The bill would also allocate millions to state and local governments, vaccine testing and the distribution of PPE equipment, as well as aid to small businesses and would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Last week Biden held a meeting with GOP members who proposed a scaled down rescue plan totaling $600 billion. Republicans argued that since a relief package recently passed in December and another large measure would significantly increase the national debt. Biden made it apparent that he did not intend to budge during a socioeconomic and racial crisis which has upended life for Americans, specifically Black and brown communities.