Senate Democrats were ebullient on Saturday after the passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill along party lines, touting it as evidence of Democrats’ ability to pass major legislation even in an evenly-divided Senate and an era of unprecedented partisan division in Congress.
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 06: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gives a thumbs up after the … [+]
The announcement of the bill’s passage by a 50-49 vote prompted applause to erupt from the Democratic side of the Senate chamber, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a vocal proponent of extensive relief, fist-bumping Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Saturday was a “huge victory” and “the best day of my Senate career” because “as a team we did amazing things that the public overwhelmingly likes,” while Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said some Democrats had “tears in their eyes.”
Brown dismissed the significance of unified Republican opposition to the bill – including from moderates like Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who he thought might vote for it – stating “the bill was bipartisan because the public wants it. It doesn’t matter what we all think.”
Stabenow, a member of Democratic leadership, credited the victory to Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) handing Democrats the majority in January, quipping, “We keep bowing to Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.”
“Unity, unity, unity, that’s how we got this done,” Schumer said at a press conference following the vote, adding that he feels “good about the long range… about moving on to new victories.”
But Stabenow acknowledged that the filibuster – which requires Democrats to get at least 10 Republican votes on most legislation – presents an obstacle for “really important, fundamental things, like voting rights” and said Democrats will have to have a “discussion.”
Senate Minority Whip John Thune blasted Democrats for a “partisan process” and said they were “unprepared” for Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) consideration of a GOP amendment scaling back unemployment benefits, which forced them to pause proceedings for over 10 hours to get him “in line.”
Manchin, widely viewed as the swing vote, said in a statement after the vote that he was “proud” to vote for the bill and “looks forward” to President Joe Biden signing it. “This COVID-19 relief package is what West Virginia needs to put this pandemic behind us once and for all,” he said.
Stabenow said Biden played a role in getting Manchin on board with Democrats’ proposal on unemployment insurance: “He certainly did what President Biden does, and called and talked to him about it.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer put out a statement shortly after the vote announcing that the House will take up the Senate’s version of the relief bill on Tuesday “so that we can send this bill to President Biden for his signature early next week.”
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I am a news reporter covering politics and the Biden transition. I have previously worked for MSNBC and Chronogram Magazine. I attended Vassar College and the London