The number-one item on Democrats’ agenda this year—a sweeping coronavirus relief package—has cleared its biggest hurdle on the way to becoming law: the evenly-divided U.S. Senate.
On Saturday afternoon, the Senate passed the $1.9 trillion bill on a strictly party-line vote: All 50 Democrats voted in favor of the bill and all 49 Republicans opposed it, but Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) was absent for the vote, sparing Vice President Kamala Harris from having to break a tie.
The process wasn’t meant to be easy, but the bill’s journey to passage was downright shambolic, even by congressional standards. The Senate was in session for over 24 hours, voting, debating, and considering amendments to the mammoth legislation. Much of the delay stemmed from one member, centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose reservations about the bill’s unemployment benefits unexpectedly froze the floor for nearly 12 hours on Friday as Democratic leadership and the White House frantically worked him to support the latest deal.