Press briefing on American Rescue Plan
Reps. Sara Jacobs (left), Juan Vargas and Scott Peters at Friday’s press briefing on the American Rescue Plan. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The four Democrats who represent the San Diego region in Congress urged support of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on Friday, promising that “help is on the way” to end economic devastation wrought by the pandemic

“This is not about going back to the way things were. This is about reimagining,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs, who organized a press briefing at Veterans Village of San Diego.

Joining her were Reps. Mike Levin, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas. The fifth member of the local delegation, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, voted against act.

Issa said last week the bill is “too big and too expensive” yet lacks a “coherent commitment” reopen the economy and schools.

But the Democrats at Friday’s briefing recited a long list of benefits, ranging from $1,400 stimulus checks to investments in vaccine manufacturing and aid for local restaurants.

“The American Rescue Plan will immediately deliver rapid relief to the millions of struggling Americans,” said Peters, who spearheaded $1.75 billion in the act for widespread genomic sequencing of coronavirus variants by the CDC.

Among the highlights of the legislation, which was passed in the House and is now under consideration in the Senate, are:

  • $1,400 stimulus checks for all but the most affluent individuals and families
  • Extension of unemployment insurance benefits through September at $300 per week
  • $350 billion in aid for states, cities and tribal governments
  • $130 billion for K-12 education to improve ventilation systems and purchase personal protective equipment
  • $25 billion in grants for restaurants and bars that have lost revenue because of the pandemic
  • $10 billion to boost U.S. manufacturing of vaccines, test kits and personal protective equipment

Vargas, who worked to add the money for vaccine manufacturing under the Defense Production Act, said, “We have to defeat this virus if we want the economy to get back on its feet.”

Levin predicted the bill would make it through the Senate after “more twists and turns,” be quickly passed again in the House and get President Biden’s signature.

“I’ve heard from constituents who don’t know how they’ll pay their bills,” said Levin. “I’m here to tell you help is on the way.”

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.