WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – The Senate is on the verge of passing President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, but Republicans are still weighing just how long to drag out the debate.
On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, forced Senate clerks to read the entire 628-page bill, which will delay the vote by at least 12 hours.
The package then faces a vote-a-rama, where the GOP will try to add unlimited amendments.
“The only way I know how to approve his bill is with a shredder,” said Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA. “I call it spending porn.”
Republicans argue the country has yet to spend about a trillion dollars Congress approved in previous relief bills. That’s why Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, said schools can reopen without additional funding.
“Money is not the problem,” Blackburn said. “What is an obstacle is teachers unions who are saying, ‘We have a wish list.’”
Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-TN, takes issue with the planned $350 billion in state and local aid.
“There’s more money in this to bail out union pension funds than all of the money combined for vaccine distribution and testing,” Hagerty said.
However, Democrats argue Republicans are only delaying the inevitable.
“No matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill this week,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY.
Schumer wants the plan passed as quickly as possible to keep emergency unemployment benefits and paid leave from expiring later this month.
“We are racing against the clock to defeat the pandemic and save American lives,” he said.
No House Republicans voted for the bill, and two Democrats opposed it. Senate Republicans are expected to vote against the package, too.
“It seems the only group that opposes the bill are Republicans here in Washington,” Schumer said.