PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) -- After the Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Saturday, Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey tells Eyewitness News that the bill is going to increase vaccinations. President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies notched a victory they called crucial for hoisting the country out of the pandemic and economic doldrums.
"When you dig into the bill, you can see it," Casey told Eyewitness News on Sunday. "The vaccination dollars are essential. We have to dramatically increase the number of vaccinations every day and every week. If we can't do that, then nothing else matters. We can't have our economy functioning and thriving like the way we want it to be."
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, was the only senator in the Delaware Valley who voted against the COVID-19 relief bill.
In a statement regarding his decision, Toomey wrote, in part, "This bill is not about responding to COVID. It is about exploiting the final stretch of a public health crisis in order to enact a longstanding liberal wish-list for years into the future."
Toomey is not running for reelection after his term ends in 2022. The race is wide open for both parties in what could become the nation's most competitive Senate contest next.
Already declared on the Democratic side are Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta of Philadelphia. Sharif Street, a Democratic state senator from Philadelphia and the vice chair of the state Democratic Party, said he is considering running for Toomey's seat in next year's election.
On the Republican side, Jeff Bartos, the GOP's unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2018, has filed paperwork to run, as have more than a half-dozen of unknown or first-time candidates from both parties.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.