SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: "The yays are 50, the nays are 49. The bill as amended is passed..."
And with that, the Senate on Saturday passed President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan in a party-line vote.
After an all-night session that saw Democrats battling among themselves over jobless aid and the Republican minority failing in attempts to push through some three dozen amendments, 50 Democrats voted for the American Rescue Plan -- not a single Republican did.
In what would be one of the largest stimulus packages in U.S. history, the final bill includes $400 billion in one-time payments of $1,400 to most Americans, $300 a week in extended jobless benefits for the 9.5 million people thrown out of work in the crisis, and $350 billion in aid to state and local governments that have seen the pandemic blow a huge hole in their budgets.
"I promised the American people that help was on the way..."
Biden hailed the bill's passage, and promised it would supercharge the end of the pandemic.
"This nation has suffered too much for much too long. And everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and meet the most urgent needs of the nation and put us in a better position to prevail."
Republicans have broadly supported previous stimulus packages to fight the virus and revive the economy. But with Democrats in charge of the White House and both chambers of Congress, they criticized this bill as too expensive and unneccessary.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "Democrats inherited a tide that is already turning. 2021 is already set to be our comeback year."
While Friday's jobs report showed that U.S. employment surged in February, adding 379,000 jobs, the country has yet to replace 9.5 million jobs lost since last year and the White House says it could take years to do so.
The bill will now head to the House, which approved a slightly different version a week earlier, and then to the president's desk.