Alabama’s Senators Among Republicans Who Opposed $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill That Won Senate Approval

WASHINGTON — The Senate on a highly partisan vote Saturday approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The vote on (HR 1319) was 50 for and 49 against. Both of Alabama’s senators joined every Republican present to vote against the bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives.

However, the Senate blocked a Democratic move to increase the minimum wage that had been in the bill.

On the House side, representatives in the week that ended March 5 passed a multi-faceted bill aimed at expanding voting in the U.S. and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, both mostly along party lines.

Among provisions of the $1.9 trillion relief bill, it would expand unemployment benefits by $300 per week from March 14 through Sept. 6; deliver payments of $1,400 per person to individuals with incomes up to $75,000, single parents earning up to $112,500 and couples up to $150,000; increase the Child Tax Credit in a way designed to eventually cut child poverty nearly in half; deliver $350 billion to state, county, city, tribal and territorial governments; establish a $25 billion grant program for the restaurant industry; increase Affordable Care Act premium subsidies for a large number of the uninsured; fund the reopening of K-12 schools; provide $25 billion in rental aid to avert evictions and $10 billion to help landlords meet their expenses; and fund programs to vaccinate against Covid-19 and slow the spread of the virus.


Voting yes: None

Voting no:  Richard Shelby, R, and Tommy Tuberville, R 

Not voting: None.

Keeping Minimum Wage at $7.25

Voting 42 for and 58 against, the Senate on March 5 failed to reach 60 votes needed to include a proposed raise in the federal minimum wage – from $7.25 per hour at present to $15 per hour by 2025 – that was included in the coronavirus relieve bill. The amendment sought to overcome a parliamentary ruling that found the wage hike to be not germane to the bill.

A yes vote was to gradually raise the federal minimum wage.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Shelby, Tuberville 


Expanding Voting Rights, Reforming Campaign Finance

Voting 220 for and 210 against, the House on March 3 passed a bill (HR 1) designed to broadly expand participation in U.S. elections and make limited changes in the way campaigns are financed.

The bill would increase registration opportunities; require voting systems to be backed up with auditable paper ballots; qualify felons who have served their time to vote in federal elections; require presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose personal and any corporate tax returns; modernize voting equipment and harden systems against cyberattacks; and prohibit influence peddling by inaugural committees.

The bill would apply primarily to federal elections but also affect state and local balloting in major ways. In other provisions, the bill would:


Require states to use 15-member bipartisan and commissions rather than partisan gerrymandering to redraw congressional districts following the decennial census.

Voter Registration

Authorize $750 million over five years on state programs to make voter registration easier. States would have to allow no-excuse absentee voting; automatically register residents who sign up for government services including education; allow registration applications online and in person on Election Day; and provide at least 15 days’ early voting.

Public Campaign Financing

Impose a surcharge on penalties paid by corporate and high-income tax cheats and use the projected $2 billion in revenue over 10 years to partially finance House general and primary election campaigns. Incumbents and challengers who agree to a $200 limit on individual contributions would receive $6 in public funds for each $1 raised privately.

Facebook, Google, Twitter

Require large social-media platforms including Facebook, Google and Twitter to compile public databases of foreign actors and other entities seeking to purchase at least $500 annually in political ads and identify anonymous “dark money” financiers of political ads to the public.

Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said the bill “restores guardrails to our democracy that almost went off the rails as Republicans pledged their loyalty to the cult of Donald Trump. Republicans have long found success creatively suppressing the votes, restrictive voter ID laws, limiting voter hours, locations and extreme gerrymandering … . Fraud is their description of any election that they lose.”

Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., branded the bill as “an attempt to destroy democracy by federalizing aspects of U.S. elections constitutionally delegated to the states. It would prohibit commonsense voter ID rules, encourage ballot harvesting, require no-excuse absentee and early voting, permit felons and noncitizens to vote, and make colleges and universities … voter-registration agencies.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Terri Sewell, D-7 

Voting no: Jerry Carl, R-1, Barry Moore, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6 

Removing Democracy Panel

Voting 207 for and 218 against, the House on March 2 refused to remove from HR 1 (above) a proposed commission for protecting U.S. democratic institutions against foreign interference. The amendment was sponsored by Republicans, who said ample defenses already are in place to fend off manipulation from abroad.

Rodney Davis, R-Ill., said “absolutely no one wants foreign interference in our elections, but the last thing we need to do is create a commission with another layer of bureaucracy when we have programs in place that have been successful for our local election officials.”

Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said that “in light of the evidence of foreign interference in the 2016, 2018 and 2020 federal elections, the federal government needs a coordinated approach to protect and secure our democracy.”

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.


Voting yes: Carl, Moore, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Voting no: Sewell 

Preventing, Punishing Misconduct By Police

The House on March 3 passed, 220 for and 212 against, a bill (HR 1280) that would set federal rules and guidelines for policing practices at all levels of government. In addition to addressing misconduct by federal officers, the bill would use the high levels of police funding in federal programs to induce state and local reforms. Dubbed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the bill would affect these areas.


Prohibit federal police from using chokeholds or other applications of pressure on the carotid arteries, throats or windpipes of persons being restrained, and use federal financial incentives to encourage state and local police to do the same. The use of chokeholds based on race would be defined as a civil rights violation.

Qualified Immunity

Eliminate the “qualified immunity” defense from federal and non-federal civil litigation in which a police officer is sued for damages based on misconduct including excessive use of force.

Lynching, No-Knock Drug Warrants

Make lynching a federal crime and prohibit no-knock warrants in federal drug cases while using federal funding to induce states and localities to do the same.

Federal Subpoena Power

Give the Department of Justice subpoena power for investigating discriminatory and brutal patterns and practices by local departments, and fund efforts by state attorneys general to investigate troubled departments.

Registry of Misconduct

Establish a National Police Misconduct Registry of officers fired by local departments for reasons including excessive use of force.

Racial, Religious Profiling

Prohibit racial, religious and discriminatory profiling by federal and nonfederal law enforcement; aggrieved individuals could bring civil actions for declaratory or injunctive relief.

Use of Force

Require police to justify use of force on grounds it was “necessary” rather than merely “reasonable” and require state and local police to report use-of-force data by race, sex, disability, religion and age to a Department of Justice database.

Evidence Standard

Lower the criminal-intent standard of evidence in police misconduct prosecutions under federal law from “willful” to “reckless.”

Camera Rules

Require uniformed federal police to wear body cameras and marked federal police cars to mount dashboard cameras, while giving state and local departments financial incentives to do the same.

Local Oversight

Fund local task forces to develop practices based on community policing rather than the use of force.

Military Equipment

Limit the Pentagon’s transfer of combat-level equipment to state and local police.

Sexual Misconduct

Make it a crime for a federal officer to engage in sex, even if it is consensual, with an individual under arrest or in custody, and use financial incentives to encourage states to enact the same prohibition.

Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., said the purpose of the bill “is not to second guess officers who act in good faith (but) to hold liable officers who repeatedly abuse their power and who rarely, if ever, face consequences for their repeat abuses. If you are a good officer, you have nothing to fear. But if you are a bad officer, you have accountability to fear.”

Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., said the bill “aims to cripple or degrade our law enforcement” and would “diminish public safety and prevent…officers from serving and protecting our communities, all while trying to hold them personally liable. The brave men and women who put on the uniform every day deserve better.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Sewell 

Voting no: Carl, Moore, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 


Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education

Voting 64 for and 33 against, the Senate on March 1 confirmed Miguel A. Cardona, 45, as secretary of education, the first Latino to hold that position. An educator in public schools for 20 years, he served most recently as Connecticut’s commissioner of education. A bilingual son of Puerto Rican parents, he was raised in public housing in Connecticut.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Shelby, Tuberville 

Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce

Voting 84 for and 15 against, the Senate on March 2 confirmed Gina M. Raimondo, 49, the first woman governor of Rhode Island, as secretary of commerce. Formerly a venture capitalist, she has an undergraduate degree in economics from Harvard College and is a graduate of Yale Law School.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Shelby, Tuberville

Cecilia Rouse, Chief Economic Adviser

Voting 95 for and four against, the Senate on March 2 confirmed Cecilia E. Rouse, 57, as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, a White House unit that determines administration economic policies. The dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and a specialist in labor economics, Rouse also served former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as an economic adviser.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.


Voting yes: Shelby 

Voting no: Tuberville