The SenateBudget ReconciliationEconomic PolicyAmerican GovernmentThe Presidency

Senate Passes Stimulus Bill by Narrowest of Margins

Posted on in The Senate · Budget Reconciliation · Economic Policy · American Government · The Presidency

Senate Democrats managed to overcome intra-party disputes to pass the American Rescue Plan bill on a 50-49 vote. This gives President Biden a significant legislative victory in his first 100 days. Senators were at odds over eligibility for the $1,400 stimulus payments, the dollar amount in unemployment benefits, and whether to consider an increase in the minimum wage. Ultimately, Senate moderates prevailed, as eligibility was narrowed and payments were pared back. The minimum wage increase proposal was removed altogether.

Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for “Senate Passes Stimulus Bill by Narrowest of Margins"


“Senate passes $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, including $1,400 stimulus checks, with no Republican support”

“Divided Senate Passes Biden’s Pandemic Aid Plan”
“A guide to what you can expect to get from the $1.9 trillion Senate stimulus”
“Senate Democrats announce deal on unemployment insurance, allowing Biden bill to move forward”

“Senate restarts proceedings on Biden’s stimulus bill after long delay”
“U.S. Senate Votes to Take Up $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Bill”
“The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus plan won’t ‘overheat’ economy: Biden economic advisor”
“Senate Dems, Manchin reach deal on COVID-19 unemployment benefits, allowing bill to move forward”


  • Writing: Describe the differences between regular order and budget reconciliation in the Senate. Why have lawmakers like Senator Joe Manchin D-WV and Kyrsten Sinema D-AZ been unwilling to eliminate the filibuster when their party would be the beneficiary?
  • Debate: Should the proposed $1,400 stimulus payments be restricted to individuals and households making below a certain income level?
  • Poll: Should the minimum wage be increased to $15?
  • Short Answer: Why will other Biden initiatives like election and immigration reform be more difficult to get passed than the American Rescue Plan?

Current events quiz:

1) Why did Democrats decide to proceed with the American Rescue Plan even if it lacked support from congressional Republicans?

a. President Biden promised to pursue unilateral actions
b. the public, across party lines, has demonstrated wide support for passage of more stimulus
c. the federal budget is finally balanced and can sustain deficit spending
d. Democrats have significant vote advantages in both the House and Senate

2) Why have some economists warned against the American Rescue Act?

a. concern about benefits targeted to mostly wealthy Americans
b. concern about using Social Security and Medicare funds
c. worries about overheating the economy
d. worries about continuing the current economic depression

3) How many Republicans voted for the American Rescue Act?

a. 0
b. 5
c. 10
d. 20

4) Senator Joe Manchin was the only Democrat opposed to raising the minimum wage. (T/F)

5) Senators had to sit through a marathon session of proposed amendments and debate, often called a vote-a-rama, before a final vote was cast. (T/F)

6) A reconciliation bill can still be filibustered. (T/F)


1) B

2) C

3) A

4) False

5) True

6) False


Enjoy using Lecture Spark? Answer this 5-question survey to help us innovate!

Featured Image Credit: Geoff Livingston 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *