The Senate took up Democrats’ proposed coronavirus relief package, with a nearly $2 trillion price tag, on Thursday afternoon. The hefty, 628-page bill is backed by the White House and Democrats in both chambers, but is filled with unrelated, spending line-items and was made public just hours before being taken up.
Republicans remain united against unnecessary spending, and in favor of delivering real relief to Americans in need. To expose the extraneous spending items within the package, GOP Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) forced a full reading of the bill on the Senate floor.
Senate clerks have now been reading the Democrats’ 628-page covid relief bill for more than 4 hours. They’ve been rotating between a few clerks who have been reading the text aloud— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 5, 2021
.@SenSchumer: "I ask consent to dispense with the reading."— CSPAN (@cspan) March 4, 2021
.@SenRonJohnson: "I object."
.@VP: "The objection is heard. The clerk will continue the reading."
WATCH: Senate clerk(s) read the COVID-19 Relief Bill - LIVE on C-SPAN2 https://t.co/RedQmo2TSm pic.twitter.com/GTgKTOUIJp
The bill will be read in its entirety before debate begins and amendments can be offered. Senate Democrats opposed giving transparency to Americans as to what is present in the taxpayer-funded bill.
Ron Johnson is more focused on finding ways to waste time than on delivering real relief that the American people so desperately need.— Michael Bennet (@MichaelBennet) March 5, 2021
It's time for us to pass the next Covid relief package. pic.twitter.com/pXAxhoEoVF
Republican Senator Ron Johnson is trying to delay— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) March 4, 2021
Emergency COVID checks
Vaccine distribution funding
Small business support
Money for schools
As long as possible – because he says American families don’t need “any” additional COVID relief. pic.twitter.com/ArIhjLLlm5
While all Senate Republicans voted against moving forward with the COVID relief bill and one is now holding it hostage on the Senate floor, we have our eyes on the prize. We will pass the American Rescue Plan. https://t.co/erEBggcwVh— Senator Alex Padilla (@SenAlexPadilla) March 4, 2021
The bill bankrolls causes unrelated to pandemic relief, while also disproportionately benefiting blue states, including California and New York, that ordered strict lockdown measures. The GOP’s Senate arm reminded Democrats of their party's history of arguing in favor of passing bills before finding out what is written in.
“Democrats are throwing a temper tantrum because their COVID bill is simply being read out loud on the Senate floor. Nancy Pelosi famously said, ‘you have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.’ Senate Democrats are now saying, ‘please don’t read the bill so no one can find out what’s in it,'" NRSC Communications Director Chris Hartline said on Thursday. "They must not want Americans to know that 90% of the bill is unrelated to COVID or that less than 1% goes towards vaccine development and distribution. They must not want the American people to see the pork and the liberal pet projects, including the Cuomo Kickback. What else are they trying to hide?”
Debate on the hefty package, with opportunity for Senators to offer amendments, is expected to continue through the weekend.