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Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate voted 50-49 on Saturday to approve President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: COVID relief has been a central promise for Biden, and passing the sweeping package has been a major priority for the administration and congressional Democrats.

What's next: The House is expected to take up the Senate version of the bill next week before it is sent to Biden for his signature.

Context: The bill passed more than 24 hours after the Senate opened debate. Republicans forced dozens of votes overnight into Saturday on amendments in an effort to stall the process.

  • Democrats approved the package through the budget reconciliation process, meaning it did not require any Republican support to pass.
  • However, the reconciliation process also prevented Democrats from including a provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour in the legislation. The Senate parliamentarian ruled last month that the wage increase does not directly affect the federal government’s finances.

What they're saying: "I promised the American people that help is on the way. Today, I can say we've taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise," Biden said from the White House Saturday.

  • "This plan puts on a path to defeating this virus," the president said, adding that stimulus checks will likely begin going out later this month.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said just before final passage that the "bill will deliver more help to more people than anything the federal government has done in decades."
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the bill "the most progressive" piece of legislation "in a generation," according to NBC News.

Highlights from the bill:

  • Expanded federal funding for COVID programs, including $46 billion for testing and tracing; $7.6 billion for pandemic response at community health centers; $5.2 billion to support research, development and manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics and other medical products; and $7.7 billion to expand the public health care workforce.
  • $1,400 stimulus payments for most Americans.
  • $128.6 billion to help K-12 schools reopen.
  • $350 billion in state and local aid.
  • $25 billion in aid to restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.
  • $19 billion in emergency rental assistance.
  • $7.25 billion in funds for Paycheck Protection Program loans.
  • The bill also extending the enhanced unemployment insurance of $300 per week through Sept. 6.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Biden's comments and clarify the Senate version of the bill extends enhanced unemployment insurance through Sept. 6.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Hours-long reading of 628-page COVID relief bill delays Senate debate

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) forced Senate clerks to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, which took nearly 11 hours and lasted until 2:04 a.m. on Friday. The Senate is set to return at 9 a.m. to debate the bill before considering amendments, which could drag into the weekend.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
14 mins ago - Technology

Meet your doctor's AI assistant

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Artificial intelligence is breaking into the doctor's office, with new models that can transcribe, analyze and even offer predictions based on written notes and conversations between physicians and their patients.

Why it matters: AI models can increasingly be trained on what we tell our doctors, now that they're starting to understand our written notes and even our conversations. That will open up new possibilities for care — and new concerns about privacy.

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.