Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) passes through a hallway at the U.S. Capitol March 5, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) passes through a hallway at the U.S. Capitol March 5, 2021 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sanders Praises Passage of Covid Relief Bill to Address 'The Myriad Crises That We Face'

Following a lengthy overnight session, the U.S. Senate passed the rescue bill 50-49 with no Republican support.

Andrea Germanos

Prompting cheers from Democrats in the chamber, the U.S. Senate on Saturday passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package following over 24 hours of debate.

In a statement following the vote, Senate Budget Committee chair Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the measure, the American Rescue Plan, "the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working families in the modern history of this country."

"This package, among many other things, increases direct payments by $1,400, extends unemployment benefits, reduces child poverty by half, ensures we are vaccinating as many people as possible, and puts us on a path to safely reopen schools," he said.

"The American people are hurting," Sanders continued, "and this comprehensive plan goes a long way to addressing the myriad crises that we face."

The bill's passage through budget reconciliation by a 50-49 vote along party lines followed an overnight session during which right-wing Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia forced his own party to lower a proposed boost to weekly unemployment benefits.

A screengrab from C-Span shows the chamber immediately following the vote on the Democrats' coronavirus rescue package.
Preceding the vote on the sweeping package, Democrats rejected a slew of Republican amendments, including one to limit the package to $650 billion in aid and another to bar funding for schools that allow transgender athletes to participate in women's sports.

In addition to providing one-time $1,400 checks to most Americans, the bill includes an increase in the child tax credit, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, funding to launch community vaccination centers, and an increase in funds for Medicaid home-based care programs.

It also includes an extension of weekly unemployment benefits. Manchin caused a more than 11-hour delay on a provision to extend unemployment benefits, ultimately leading to a reduced boost of $300 per week until September 6. It will include a 10,200 tax break for those earning less than $150,000.

Not included in the legislation: a provision to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. On Friday, all Republicans voted to shoot down that popular proposal, as did seven Democrats—Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Tom Carper (Del.), Chris Coons (Del.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), and Maggie Hassan (N.H.). Angus King of Maine, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also rejected the provision.

Their effort to kill the wage boost, as well as the effort to reduce UI weekly benefits, drew the ire of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), who said, "I'm frankly disgusted with some of my colleagues and question whether I can support this bill."

"What is the Party of the People doing when instead of putting our full effort into helping struggling working families, we're arguing over ways to toss them aside? What are we here for if not to help the American People?" she added.

Other provisions in the bill were touted by Democratic senators following Saturday's vote:

The bill now heads back to the Democrat-controlled House, where, according to a a statement Saturday from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, it will face a vote on Tuesday.

This is an updated version of an earlier article.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'We Are Trying to Save It,' Progressives Say as Right-Wing Dems Sabotage Biden's Agenda

"The Biden agenda—our Democratic agenda—is at stake. It's progressives who are fighting to pass it in its entirety."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush and Warren Lead New Bill to Protect Renters Nationwide From Eviction

"This pandemic isn't over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet."

Jessica Corbett ·


Campaign Slams Vaccine Makers for Fueling 'Unprecedented' Human Rights Crisis

"Covid-19 vaccines must be readily available and accessible for all. It is up to governments and pharma companies to make this a reality."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sunrise Movement Targets Kyrsten Sinema for Obstructing Build Back Better Act

"Who do you work for? Do you work for the young, BIPOC, and working people who put their lives on hold to elect you? Or do you work for ExxonMobil and fossil fuel corporations?"

Brett Wilkins ·


UN Chief Tells World Leaders To Their Faces That Vaccine Apartheid Is 'An Obscenity'

Persistent inequality represents "a moral indictment of the state of our world," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo