A Democratic senator has given a passionate speech urging lawmakers to not “turn their backs” on American workers and small businesses during a “vote-a-thon” on amendments for the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill.

During the marathon session, Sherrod Brown, the senior senator for Ohio, spoke out against attempts by Republican lawmakers to block support for workers.

“Every time banks need help, every time large corporate interests need help, this body rises to the occasion. But a bunch of workers, a bunch of small businesses, we're going to turn our backs?” Brown asked Congress.

“Unions, Chamber of Commerce, small businesses, pretty much everyone agrees, we need to get this done.”

He added: “I’ve listened to my colleagues’ speeches for years, extolling the value of hard work, the virtues of small businesses. This is your chance, my friends, to live up to your own words and help these workers…”

Senators have been working this week to pass the huge relief package, which contains direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans, extended emergency unemployment benefits, and additional spending for Covid vaccinations and testing.

Brown’s plea for lawmakers to support US workers through the coronavirus pandemic received support online from Democratic figures:

The speech also inspired a reminder that the senator repeatedly wins in the swing state of Ohio, while being open about supporting progressive policies.

The spending package was able to move forward on Saturday following a compromise agreement on the issue of unemployment benefits, which have been lowered from $400 to $300 a week in the revised bill.

On Saturday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said lawmakers were coming to the end of the long amendment process, with a vote on the overall bill expected soon.

Democrats are hoping that Joe Biden will be able to sign the bill into law before some of the current benefits expire on 14 March.

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