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March 5, 2021 Covid-19 stimulus bill updates

Updated 8:27 AM EST, Sat March 6, 2021
Axelrod breaks down Manchin's surprising move

What you need to know

  • A deal about the path forward on the Covid-19 stimulus bill is coming soon, after being at a standstill for hours, a source says.
  • Moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin stalled the passage as Republicans urged him to support a less generous unemployment benefits plan.
  • If the bill passes, it will have to go back to the House before Biden can sign it into law because it has undergone major changes in the Senate after the House passed it last week.

The Senate is voting into Saturday morning, follow our live coverage of the vote here.

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There's a deal to move forward with the Covid-19 bill in the Senate. Here's where things stand now.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

A deal has been reached in the Senate to pave the way forward on President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 relief bill after activity in the chamber ground to a halt for hours tonight.

Here’s a look at what’s happened so far — and what happens next in the process:

  • About today’s standstill: Moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin earlier today stalled passage of the bill over an impasse on unemployment benefits, with Republicans urging him to sign on to an amendment they had crafted.
  • What’s in the deal: A Democratic aide told CNN that Senate Democrats plan to offer an amendment to extend the enhanced unemployment insurance program through Sept. 6 at a rate of $300 per week as part of an agreement that Manchin has accepted. The aide said that the agreement will make the first $10,200 in benefits nontaxable in a provision that applies to households making less than $150,000.
  • The Senate had already been bracing for a long night: The Senate had braced for a series of politically tough amendment votes that will stretch late into the night and into Saturday, the last major hurdle senators face before voting on Biden’s top legislative priority. The long series of amendment votes, known as a vote-a-rama, is a Senate tradition that the minority party uses to put members of the majority on the record on controversial issues in an effort to make changes to a bill that they oppose.
  • So what happens now? The Senate now needs to gavel closed the minimum wage vote which has been open since 11:03 am. ET. Once that is done, the Senate will move into the vote-a-rama. This is a free-flowing process, so we are uncertain which amendments will be first.
  • The Senate vote isn’t the final stop: Even if the Senate approves the bill, it will have to go back to the House of Representatives for another vote next week before it can proceed to Biden’s desk to be signed into law. That’s because the bill has undergone some major changes in the Senate after the House passed the it last week.

Biden supports the compromise agreement, White House says

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Vice President Kamala Harris on March 5, in Washington, DC.
Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Vice President Kamala Harris on March 5, in Washington, DC.

In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to tonight’s compromise on unemployment insurance in Democrats’ Covid-19 relief package.

She wrote President Biden “supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the Senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome.” 

Here’s the full statement:

“The President supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the Senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome. It extends supplemental unemployment benefit into September, and helps the vast majority of unemployment insurance recipients avoid unanticipated tax bills. Most importantly, this agreement allows us to move forward on the urgently needed American Rescue Plan, with $1400 relief checks, funding we need to finish the vaccine rollout, open our schools, help those suffering from the pandemic, and more.”

What Manchin got in the deal to move forward on Covid-19 stimulus

Sen. Joe Manchin was the only Democratic senator who did not sign off on the jobless benefits deal at the beginning of the day, prompting a furious lobbying effort from the Democratic leadership, the White House and rank-and-file senators to get him on board.

Moments ago, two Democratic aides with knowledge of the negotiations told CNN that a deal has been reached.

Senate Democrats will now offer an amendment to extend the enhanced Unemployment Insurance program through Sept. 6 at $300 a week.

The main things that Manchin got: A cap on who is eligible to write off $10,200 in jobless benefits. Under the deal, Democrats agreed to ensure that households with incomes under $150,000 were only eligible to deduct that amount from their taxes.

The latest Senate version calls for providing a $300 a week federal enhancement, rather than the $400 passed by the House last week — but the extra cash will run until Sept. 6, rather than ending Aug. 29. 

Now that there's an expected deal, here's what happens next in the Senate

Senate TV

A source familiar tells CNN that a deal about the path forward on the Covid-19 stimulus bill is coming soon.

The process had been stalled for several hours today as moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin was urged by Republicans to support a less generous plan extending enhanced benefits for the unemployed.

Under a final agreement accepted by Manchin, Senate Democrats will now offer an amendment to extend the enhanced Unemployment Insurance program through Sept. 6 at $300 a week, according to a Democratic aide with knowledge of the negotiations. 

So what come next? The Senate will have to gavel closed the minimum wage vote — which has been open since 11:03 a.m. ET.

Once that is done, the Senate will move into vote-a-rama, meaning that senators can offer as many amendments as they want. This is a free-flowing process so we are uncertain which amendments will be first and come after.

But the deal Manchin struck will be part of an amendment — likely offered by Sen. Tom Carper. Also, Republicans will have a competing amendment on jobless benefits offered by Sen. Rob Portman, who has been lobbying Manchin all day to get on board. It’s unclear if Manchin will support this.

Many more amendments to come, and unknown how late it will go.

Here's what Manchin said about the deal ahead of Schumer's announcement

Moments ago, two Democratic aides with knowledge of the negotiations told CNN that Senate Democrats will now offer an amendment to extend the enhanced Unemployment Insurance program through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. The House-passed bill would have provided the benefit through Aug. 29. 

The final agreement was accepted by Senator Joe Manchin, who stalled the passage as Republicans urged him to support a less generous plan extending enhanced benefits for the unemployed.

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer is expected to announce the deal soon on the Senate floor.

Before Schumer took to the floor to announce the deal, Manchin’s office released a statement:

“The President has made it clear we will have enough vaccines for every American by the end of May and I am confident the economic recovery will follow. We have reached a compromise that enables the economy to rebound quickly while also protecting those receiving unemployment benefits from being hit with unexpected tax bill next year. Those making less than $150,000 and receiving unemployment will be eligible for a $10,200 tax break. Unemployment benefits will be extended through the end of August.” 

A deal on a way forward will be announced soon, source says

A source familiar tells CNN that a deal about the path forward on the Covid-19 stimulus bill is coming soon.

Under a final agreement accepted by Sen. Joe Manchin, Senate Democrats will now offer an amendment to extend the enhanced Unemployment Insurance program through September 6 at $300 a week, according to a Democratic aide with knowledge of the negotiations. 

The House-passed bill would have provided the benefit through August 29. 

The Senate has been at a standstill for hours after Manchin, a moderate Democrat, signaled he could back a GOP plan on jobless benefits.

This agreement also provides tax relief to workers who received unemployment insurance compensation by making the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits non-taxable for the first time to prevent surprise bills for the unemployed at end of year, which was not in the House-passed legislation. This provision applies only to households with incomes under $150k.

The agreement also extends tax rules regarding excess business loss limitations for one additional year, through 2026.