On Feb. 5, the U.S. House of Representatives approved President Joe Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill without a single Republican vote.
In a letter to Democrats prior to the vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Our work to crush the coronavirus and deliver relief to the American people is urgent and of the highest priority.”
In order to pass this bill, Democrats used a process called “budget reconciliation,” which requires fewer votes to pass a major budget bill. This is in response to Senate Republicans’ vocal opposition to the legislation.
Additionally, Biden wanted to ensure that the stimulus bill was finalized before former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Through this process, the Democrats’ slim majority was tested, as Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote in the Senate, which hinges on a 50-50 split. After broadcasting his desire for bipartisanship during his campaign, Biden faced criticism for this move. Yet this latest move brushes aside Republicans entirely, bypassing their approval.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, cast aside critics saying the White House sacrificed bipartisan cooperation for partisan glamour, despite numbers that gleam with bipartisan support among voters.
“He didn’t run on a promise to unite the Democratic and Republican Party into one party in Washington,” she said in a briefing at the White House.
However, Biden did offer Republicans a small bonus: he acknowledged that he favors constraining the scope of the stimulus payments, limiting them to households that earn less than $300,000 a year.
“I’m not cutting the size of the checks,” Biden said on Jan. 5. “They’re going to be $1,400 period.”