The United States Senate approved this Saturday the $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package proposed by the White House to alleviate the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The initiative, already approved in the House of Representatives, has passed the process in the Senate with the favorable vote of the 50 Democratic senators.
The vote, after a marathon session of more than 24 hours, gives the Democrats their first legislative victory after the November elections despite the rejection of the 49 Republicans, one less due to the absence of Senator Dan Sullivan. Had it been present, it would have been approved anyway due to the casting vote of the vice president, Kamala Harris.
The only Republican senator who had speculated with her support, Lisa Murkowski, has finally voted against it. Now the bill will be addressed again in the House of Representatives and after its approval it can finally be signed by the president, Joe Biden, before the current unemployment benefits expire on March 14.
One of the main changes is the elimination of the minimum wage of $ 15 per hour with progressive increases until 2025 that had been included in the original text at the initiative of Senator Bernie Sanders.
The five previous aid packages, approved during the presidency of Donald Trump, had the support of some senators of the opposite party.
“Today is a good day. When I took office, 45 days ago, I promised the American people that aid was on the way. Today I can say that we have taken another giant step to fulfill that promise,” Biden said in a hearing. from the White House.
“This plan puts us on the path to defeat the virus. This plan gives troubled families as much help as possible and they will get the air they need to get through this moment. This plan gives small businesses in this country a option to be able to fight to survive, “he argued.
Instead, the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has reproached Biden that “he promised unity and collaboration between parties” but “has rammed with what they call the most progressive domestic legislation of the last generation with a bare and partisan majority in the two cameras “.
In his appearance, Biden has assured that he will continue working to get the support of Republicans in future legislative proceedings. “There are many Republicans who have been very close, who have received enormous pressure and I do not give up to try to get their support,” he stressed.
Biden wants to use this package of measures to stimulate the economy and create millions of new jobs. Among other things, he foresees direct payments to private households, financing measures for coronavirus tests and for the distribution of vaccines, as well as additional aid for the unemployed.