HomeWashington Letter2021 ▶ Senate Passes Budget Measure, Paving Way for Action on Biden COVID Relief Bill
Senate Passes Budget Measure, Paving Way for Action on Biden COVID Relief Bill

On Feb. 5, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed a budget measure that allows President Biden’s COVID-19 emergency stimulus bill to move forward through a congressional process known as “budget reconciliation,” that permits the bill to pass the Senate with a simple majority vote, instead of the 60 votes normally required. The budget measures passed on a party-line vote of 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote, following hours of Senate debate on numerous amendments to the bill.

The Senate budget bill will now move to a House vote this weekend, where it is expected to pass. Following House passage of the budget measure, House and Senate committees will draft the President’s proposal into a bill. Congressional Democratic leadership is aiming to pass the COVID relief bill by mid-March, before enhanced unemployment benefits expire.

President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal includes funding for vaccine distribution, testing scale up and economic relief for families, including significant expansions of paid sick leave, and funding for school reopening. Other health-related proposals in the proposal include the following. Some of these and other proposals in Biden’s plan may not make it into the final legislation.

  • Expansion of the federal funding match for states to ensure vaccine coverage for Medicaid beneficiaries
  • Tripling the public health workforce by funding 100,000 public health workers
  • Funding, amount not yet specified, to address COVID-19 health disparities
  • Funding, amount not yet specified, to expand disease sequencing and surveillance
  • $30 billion for essential medical supplies
  • Research funding, not yet specified, for development of COVID-19 treatments
  • Federal subsidization of COBRA health insurance coverage until Sept. 30, 2021
  • Expansion and enhancement of the Premium Tax Credit for health insurance, capping out-of-pocket costs at 8.5 percent of income.
Last Reviewed: February 2021