A deal has been reached in the Senate to pave the way forward on President Joe Biden's Covid-19 relief bill after activity in the chamber ground to a halt for hours tonight.
Here's a look at what's happened so far — and what happens next in the process:
- About today's standstill: Moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin earlier today stalled passage of the bill over an impasse on unemployment benefits, with Republicans urging him to sign on to an amendment they had crafted.
- What's in the deal: A Democratic aide told CNN that Senate Democrats plan to offer an amendment to extend the enhanced unemployment insurance program through Sept. 6 at a rate of $300 per week as part of an agreement that Manchin has accepted. The aide said that the agreement will make the first $10,200 in benefits nontaxable in a provision that applies to households making less than $150,000.
- The Senate had already been bracing for a long night: The Senate had braced for a series of politically tough amendment votes that will stretch late into the night and into Saturday, the last major hurdle senators face before voting on Biden's top legislative priority. The long series of amendment votes, known as a vote-a-rama, is a Senate tradition that the minority party uses to put members of the majority on the record on controversial issues in an effort to make changes to a bill that they oppose.
- So what happens now? The Senate now needs to gavel closed the minimum wage vote which has been open since 11:03 am. ET. Once that is done, the Senate will move into the vote-a-rama. This is a free-flowing process, so we are uncertain which amendments will be first.
- The Senate vote isn't the final stop: Even if the Senate approves the bill, it will have to go back to the House of Representatives for another vote next week before it can proceed to Biden's desk to be signed into law. That's because the bill has undergone some major changes in the Senate after the House passed the it last week.