Washington, Mar 5 : The US Senate afternoon formally started work on the House of Representatives-passed $1.9 trillion Coronavirus relief package.
The Senate voted 51-50 in favor of a motion to proceed with consideration of the 2021 American Rescue Plan, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting a tie-breaking vote. The bill is expected to pass in the coming days.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the bill last week in a 219-212 vote.
In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans have 50 seats each, but Harris serves as the tie-breaking vote, which gives the Democrats a simple majority that is enough for the bill to pass.
Republicans have said that only a small portion of the $1.9 trillion bill actually deals with combating the coronavirus while many parts such as foreign assistance they deemed unnecessary and wasteful.
However, Democrat leader Chuck Schumer has said the bill would help fund small businesses, keep teachers, firefighters and other essential employees on the job, provide food and direct cash payments to millions of impoverished Americans as well as speed up vaccinations.