Senate Takes Step Toward Passing COVID Bill And GOP Begins Its Procedural Warfare

UNITED STATES - March 4: Vice President Kamala Harris departs from the Senate floor after casting a tie-breaking vote in Washington on Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
March 4, 2021 3:50 p.m.

With Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote, the Senate took a procedural step Thursday toward passing the Democrats’ sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. Now begins the several hours — and possibly several days — of Republican parliamentary maneuverings that will delay the final Senate vote on the legislation.

First up is a reading of the freshly released 628-page Senate version of the bill. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) requested the reading of the bill, and he has predicted that the stunt will drag things out for additional 10 hours. (The clerks who are actually in charge of doing the reading think that they will be able to get through it much more quickly.) Once the reading is done, there will come another 20 hours of floor debate.

Then the Senate will move on to what’s known as “vote-a-rama.” During vote-a-rama, lawmakers can put up as many proposed amendments to the bill for a vote that they want. Republicans are talking a big game for how many amendments they have planned and are promising that this vote-a-rama will last longer than the last one, which clocked in at about 15 hours.

After the vote-a-rama, the Senate will get to take the vote to formally pass the legislation. Then the bill will have to go back the House for a vote, because of the tweaks the Senate has made to it, before heading President Joe Biden’s desk.

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