WASHINGTON, DC – This morning at about 5:30 a.m., after an all-night vote-a-rama, the U.S. Senate passed S. Con. Res. 5 – a budget resolution that will provide the Senate with the legislative tools to expedite the overdue delivery of emergency COVID-19 relief to the American people.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) voted for the measure and says he is committed to ensuring the final package includes measures to boost vaccine distribution and bolster local health infrastructure, $1,400 direct payments to taxpayers, state and local aid, expanded unemployment insurance, housing and LIHEAP assistance, and support for schools and libraries.

Senator Reed stated:

“This represents a major step toward more effectively combatting a pandemic that has ravaged people, communities, and our economy.  It was a long night, but going forward, it puts Congress in a position to deliver much needed help in the fight against COVID-19.

“I am pleased we were able to get bipartisan support for many key amendments to help deliver assistance where it’s needed.  We still have a long way to go to provide overdue relief, and we must move forward expeditiously and thoughtfully.

“Unlike the previous Administration, President Biden is listening to experts from the scientific, business, and medical communities, as well as governors and local leaders from both parties.  The result has been a more comprehensive COVID-19 strategy, and a more coordinated plan to speed the distribution of vaccines – one of the keys to getting people’s lives and our economy back on track.  But we can’t afford further unnecessary, partisan delay and stalling tactics.  Congress must play a more constructive role by prioritizing the needs of our fellow Americans.

“There are many challenges ahead.  Advancing this COVID-19 relief and economic rescue package is about helping Americans weather the devastating health and economic impacts of this crisis, and gets us closer to the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.”

The U.S. House of Representatives, which previously passed a similar measure earlier this week, must now pass the same version of the Senate budget resolution before lawmakers in both chambers can begin writing a final pandemic relief package.  The House vote could come as soon as today.

Once it is passed by the House and the Senate, the budget resolution provides committees of jurisdiction the authority to draft legislation reflecting the Biden Administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Package.  The overall price tag and provisions in that proposal are expected to change, but will include key pillars of the proposal, including more state and local aid.

Senator Reed, a senior member of the Banking Committee, was part of a bipartisan working group that developed the CARES Act (Public Law No. 116-136).  Senator Reed was the driving force behind the successful effort to create the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) in the CARES Act and successfully secured a small state minimum of $1.25 billion in the law.  President Biden’s proposal includes $350 billion in federal aid to state and local governments.  Under the proposal, it is unclear exactly how much Rhode Island would get, but  with Rhode Island continuing to shoulder the costs of battling COVID-19, Senator Reed says he is committed to delivering as much federal aid to the state as possible.