Path opens for $1.9 trillion stimulus package, despite Republican disapproval

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 6:22 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Congress has mostly agreed that Americans deserve fiscal relief amidst the pandemic.

But the most recent COVID-19 stimulus bill, which passed through the Senate over the weekend, drew a partisan line in the sand with Republicans saying they wouldn’t support it.

The $1.9 trillion stimulus package is the sixth and second largest stimulus bill yet, behind the very first pandemic relief package: the CARES Act. But the high price of the relief was not welcomed by Republican Senators. Through the budget reconciliation process, however, as long as every Democrat voted for the legislation they didn’t need any Republican support.

Senators voted through the night to get the next big COVID-19 relief bill passed, but not everyone was in agreement.

“Democrats are using a global health pandemic to go on a shopping spree with taxpayer dollars. They’re buying as many items off their liberal wish list as they can get their hands on. And it’s frankly gross,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who voted against the stimulus package.

What would usually require a supermajority only took a simple majority, and the stimulus passed through the Senate in a slim vote of 50-49.

This reconciliation process is rare, but was successfully used by Republicans in 2017 to pass tax reform.

“That tax cut, that’s going to cost more than this round of stimulus,” said Executive Director of the Democratic-NPL Party Michael Taylor.

The Democratic-NPL Party said this stimulus is a better investment for North Dakotans.

“To me it’s a price tag worthy of it if it’s saving small businesses and making sure families can stay afloat and make the rent,” said Michael Taylor.

Unemployment aid programs were set to expire March 14, but many Americans need unemployment benefits and direct payments to get their bills paid.

North Dakota’s Senators were concerned much of the spending in the bill isn’t directly related to COVID-19.

In a statement, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who also voted against the bill, said it “goes well beyond the needs of the pandemic and adds to our increasing national debt on the backs of hardworking Americans.”

The senators also wanted all of the money from previous stimulus packages to be spent before authorizing more.

The bill will be sent back to the U.S. House and is expected to be approved on Tuesday before heading to President Joe Biden’s desk for the final signature.

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