WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 06: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the press … [+]
On Saturday, the U.S. Senate concluded its marathon voting session and passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill 50 to 49 on party lines. It will now need final congressional approval in the House of Representatives before it is sent to the president’s desk for his signature.
The measure follows five previous bills that Congress enacted since spring totaling around $4 trillion to address the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Senate package was delayed as Democratic lawmakers were forced to make eleventh-hour changes to balance the demands of the party’s more moderate and progressive factions. However, soon after the passage of the bill in the United States Senate, many of its supporters took to social media.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) praised the passage of the bill, “The American Rescue Plan is the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working people in the modern history of this country.”
“BREAKING: The American Rescue Plan has passed the Senate! Every Republican voted against it — against checks for families, expanding vaccine roll-outs, money to help schools reopen safely. They are so out of touch,” posted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)
Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) was also quick to post, “The American Rescue Plan has PASSED. Democrats promised: Shots in people’s arms Money in people’s pockets Children in schools Workers in jobs We’re following through on that promise.”
Sen. Ed Markey (@Ed Markey) (D-Mass.) added, “Every Republican tried to stand in our way, but today we delivered the urgently needed relief demanded by the American people.”
Fellow Democratic Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) concurred “The American Rescue Plan will make a real difference to get more Americans vaccinated, safely reopen our schools, and help struggling families make ends meet. I’m going to keep fighting for more relief, and to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour—because our work is not done.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) also called out her Republican colleagues, “Fact: 76% of Americans, including 60% of Republicans, support the American Rescue Plan. Fact: Not 1 Republican Senator voted for the bill. Fact: Democrats just approved: $1,400 direct payments Extended UI benefits Rental assistance Quicker vaccine distribution”
“We made sure the coronavirus relief package included critical health care funding, like increased vaccine doses, expanded testing, $8.5 billion for rural providers, $14.5 billion for veterans’ health services, and $6 billion for the Indian Health Service,” posted Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
The Media Reaction
As more people now get their news on social media, it wasn’t surprising that many reporters jumped to Twitter to share news of the passage of the bill, while adding a bit of “color” to the commentary.
“The Senate has passed their amended version of the American Rescue Plan, after 25+ hours of debate and a grueling vote-a-rama. The final vote was 50-49, with cheers and applause coming from Democrats when the Senate gaveled out,” noted CBS News reporter Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers).
Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) of USAToday shared some historical insight, “For those wondering, this is not the longest-ever all-night Senate session. That distinction goes to a 54-hour session on the ‘Ship Purchase Act’ in February 1915” – only to offer a correction, “Correction here – as several folks have pointed out, the longest session was in fact the March 1960 session on civil rights. From noon on Monday, Feb 29, to 5:31 p.m. on Saturday, Mar 5. (125+ hours)”
Some political pundits didn’t pull any punches in how they saw the bill pass on party lines. This included author Joy-Ann Reid (@JoyAnnReid), who called out the Republicans in the House and Senate in a tweet, “Republicans – House and Senate alike – will now have to face re-election in 2022 or beyond explaining why they opposed giving Americans financial relief despite the ongoing pandemic. They’ll likely cite some culture war justification about trans kids in sports, abortion or this:”
NBC News’ Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) showed some partisan feelings, “Democrats just passed a $1.9 trillion bill with zero Republican votes and told deficit hawks to shove it. This is a changed party.”
While many users on social media also applauded the passage of the bill, there were plenty of angry responses from both the right and the left.
On the right side, many users addressed the cost of the bill, which has total spending that is nearly one-tenth the size of the entire U.S. economy.
“Proud to join @LindseyGrahamSC on this. Hard working Kansans shouldn’t be forced to bail out blue states who totally shut down their economies & schools. Dems want to bail out mismanaged states at the expense of taxpayers w/ dollars distributed unfairly. KS shorted $400 million,” noted Dr. Roger Marshall (@DrRogerMarshallMD).
“76% of Americans don’t understand the bill and all of the pork in it. They will be glad when inflation kicks in and the dollar devalues even more,” @juddbus13 replied to Sen. Duckworth.
That sentiment was shared by @Firefrogs2021, “Exactly. I find it funny when Democrats post sh*t like this trying to make republicans looks bad. Those reasons she listed isn’t the reason the Republicans votes against it. I just wish they would be honest with the American people.”
“That is a horrible, misguided, pork laden bill of trash. That’s why reasonable people voted no. They don’t want to mortgage our children’s future for a political gain today,” suggested @realsupero
On the left, Rep. Ro Kanna (D-Calif.) was among those who didn’t think the bill goes far enough, “Please, show me how to budget rent, utilities, food, child care, health care, school supplies, and clothes with a one-time payment of $1,400.”
“as one of your constituents i’m pretty disappointed that you did not fight harder for 400/week UI and to overrule the parliamentarian on the $15/hr wage. sure, republicans stood in your way, but you’re neglecting the fact Ds negotiated against themselves to whittle away relief,” @t00thsome responded to Sen. Markey.
Another user also said it doesn’t go far enough to help struggling families, “Does it have $2000 in it? Per month? Does it have minimum wage increase? Or are y’all breaking your promises and selling it as victory after struggling with your own selves?”
It isn’t just the Republicans in the Senate who clearly didn’t support the bill, and across social media it appears that the nation’s deep divide will show little sign of closing. Unity will have to wait.