The Senate passed Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill

By Melissa Mahtani and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 4:16 p.m. ET, March 6, 2021
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12:56 p.m. ET, March 6, 2021

Democrat who stalled Senate vote for nearly 12 hours says "we got a better deal"

From CNN's Clare Foran 

Asked by a reporter what ultimately got him behind the eleventh-hour compromise with his party on unemployment benefits, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said:

“We just had to negotiate. That’s the whole thing. The bad thing about reconciliation is there’s not really time to really work things out and negotiate a lot. So we started negotiating, it took longer than it should have, but we got it done and we got a better deal.”

Manchin was the only Democratic senator who did not sign off on the jobless benefits deal at the beginning of the day on Friday. Instead, he signaled support for an alternative, less generous proposal put forward by Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

After a long negotiation, and with a flurry of other amendments to consider, Manchin finally agreed to extend $300 weekly unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, about a month earlier than what Democrats had envisioned. The West Virginia Democrat also limited a provision to make the first $10,200 in benefits nontaxable apply only to households making less than $150,000.

The gavel finally went down on the first amendment vote of the Senate vote-a-rama, 11 hours and 50 minutes after it began, making it the longest roll call vote in recent Senate history.

12:44 p.m. ET, March 6, 2021

President Biden expected to speak this afternoon after Senate passes stimulus bill

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

President Biden is expected to speak this afternoon after the Senate passed his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, a senior White House official said.

The official said the White House team has been working into the afternoon with “little sleep” and “long nights” as they’re trying to get this bill across the finish line. The White House is “taking nothing for granted,” the official said, and their work will continue as the bill moves back over to the House of Representatives.

CNN previously reported Biden spoke with Sen. Joe Manchin yesterday, and this official said today Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer played a big role in the last-minute negotiations with Manchin and others on unemployment benefits.

12:45 p.m. ET, March 6, 2021

Moments before final vote, Schumer thanked Senate staff

From CNN's Nicky Robertson

Senate TV
Senate TV

In the moments before the final vote on the $1.9 trillion dollar plan, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took a moment to thank the Senate staff who worked overnight as the senators did. 

“Let us thank the great floor staff, the clerks, the cafeteria workers, the custodial staff and the Capitol Police,” Schumer said, causing his colleagues to clap and give a standing ovation. 

 “Many of them have worked for as many as 36 hours straight,” Schumer added.

12:32 p.m. ET, March 6, 2021

The Covid-19 relief bill has passed in the Senate. Here's what happens next.

From Manu Raju, Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Alex Rogers

Senate TV
Senate TV

The Senate passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan on Saturday, after an all-night “vote-a-rama” and a 12-hour struggle to get Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin to support the party's plan on a critical issue. 

The vote was 50 to 49.

Now the bill goes back to the House of Representatives for a separate vote before President Biden signs it into law.

It's expected to be passed next week.

The $1.9 trillion bill includes stimulus checks for many Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats have faced fierce pressure to stay united to pass the administration’s top legislative priority before March 14, when jobless benefits are set to expire for millions of Americans. But West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s unexpected opposition on Friday to a Democratic deal boosting unemployment benefits ground the Senate to a halt, prompting a furious lobbying effort between the two parties. 

Democrats kept a Senate roll call vote open for 11 hours and 50 minutes, the longest in recent history, as Manchin signaled he would accept the Republicans' less generous proposal.

The dispute was a sign of the centrist Democrat's power in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats control the narrowest possible majority, and an example of how a single senator can derail the President's agenda.

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan had to leave Friday to return home to Alaska for a family funeral, leaving Republicans with just 49 no votes. 

12:33 p.m. ET, March 6, 2021

The Covid-19 relief bill has passed in the Senate

President pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy.
President pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy. Senate TV

The Senate passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan on Saturday, after an all-night “vote-a-rama” and a 12-hour struggle to get one Democrat to support the party's plan on a critical issue. 

The vote was 50 to 49. The legislation is now expected to go back to the House for a final vote before Biden signs it into law.

12:15 p.m. ET, March 6, 2021

NOW: The Senate vote on Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill is underway

Senate TV.
Senate TV.

Senators are now voting on President Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, after a marathon overnight session on a series of amendments.

If the bill passes in the Senate, it will have to go back to the House for a separate vote before President Biden can sign it into law.

Lawmakers made several changes throughout the legislation, including narrowing eligibility for the stimulus checks, trimming the federal boost to unemployment benefits and nixing an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

You can read more about what's in the bill here.

11:15 a.m. ET, March 6, 2021

Senators in the chamber seem bleary-eyed and fatigued

From CNN's Manu Raju

Senate TV
Senate TV

CNN's Manu Raju popped into the Senate chamber and said members were bleary-eyed, staring blankly into space, on their iPads and phones and chit-chatting with their neighbors.

He said members look exhausted and ready to move on.

"As [GOP Sen.] Chuck Grassley stood up and called for support of his amendments, several Republicans shouted out “by voice!” to speed consideration, but Democrats wouldn’t allow it," Raju reported.

Virtually all senators were seen at their desks – which rarely happens – but they are sitting there to speed the voting process.

Some are popping into their cloakrooms, according to Raju, and GOP Sen. Rand Paul was the only one not wearing a mask.

10:36 a.m. ET, March 6, 2021

End is in sight for vote-a-rama after senators pull an all-nighter

Both Democrats and Republicans are indicating that an "end is actually in sight" to the amendment process, according to CNN's Manu Raju, after senators pulled an all-nighter over President Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill.

"The senators are just exhausted, after 11 straight hours overnight of voting as part of this free-flowing amendment process. Republicans have tried to gut, derail, and change core elements of this bill through the amendment process overnight, but Democrats have successfully fended off those amendments. There have been some changes made to the bill but not enough to derail its path to passage," Raju reported.

Democrats believe they can keep their caucus together, and passage could potentially occur within the next couple of hours, Raju reported.

If the bill passes in the Senate, it will have to go back to the House for a separate vote before it heads to Biden's desk and the President could sign it into law.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday evening that Biden "supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the Senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome."

"This agreement allows us to move forward on the urgently needed American Rescue Plan, with $1,400 relief checks, funding we need to finish the vaccine rollout, open our schools, help those suffering from the pandemic, and more," Psaki said.

Watch the latest:

10:18 a.m. ET, March 6, 2021

Millions could lose unemployment benefits on March 14 if Congress doesn't pass another relief package

From CNN's Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco

A pedestrian walks through Times Square during a winter storm in New York on Friday, February 19.
A pedestrian walks through Times Square during a winter storm in New York on Friday, February 19. Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Millions of Americans will start running out of pandemic unemployment benefits on March 14, putting increased pressure on the Senate to quickly pass its version of President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to extend those programs.

The jobless payments are among the first federal lifelines from December's $900 billion stimulus package set to expire, with additional provisions for expanded paid sick and family leave, small businesses, food stamps, housing protections and other relief lapsing in the following weeks and months.

Out-of-work Americans will get their last $300 federal weekly boost to jobless payments on March 14. And those in two key pandemic unemployment assistance will start running out of benefits at that time.

Some 4 million people in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs will see their benefits expire in mid-March, while the payments of another 7.3 million folks will lapse over the following four weeks, according to a recent report from The Century Foundation.

The two temporary federal programs were created in Congress' $2 trillion relief package last March and were extended by 11 weeks in the $900 billion relief deal passed in December.

The former provides benefits to freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors and certain people affected by the pandemic, while the latter lengthens the duration of payments for those in the traditional state unemployment system.

Read more here.