The Capitol in Washington
A view of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. REUTERS/Erin Scott

The House of Representatives gave final approval on Wednesday to one of the largest economic stimulus measures in U.S. history, a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that gives President Joe Biden his first major victory in office.

Rep. Darrell Issa was the only member of the San Diego congressional delegation to oppose the bill, saying “the bill contains no coherent commitment to fully opening our economy, getting Americans back to work and our kids back in school.”

The measure provides $400 billion for $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for vaccine distribution.

The city of San Diego is expected to get $300 million in aid, an amount that Mayor Todd Gloria said is sufficient to “protect core city services and provide aid to small businesses.”

Approval in the Democratic-controlled chamber came without any Republican support after weeks of partisan debate and wrangling in Congress. Democrats described the legislation as a critical response to a pandemic that has killed more than 528,000 people and thrown millions out of work.

“The American Rescue Plan will save lives, jobs, and businesses, and I was proud to vote for it,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs, a Democrat who represents central San Diego County. “We are going to crush this virus and come back stronger. Help is on the way, and things are going to get better.”

Biden plans to sign the bill on Friday, the White House said.

Republicans said the measure was too costly and was packed with wasteful progressive priorities. They said the worst phase of the largest public health crisis in a century has largely passed and the economy is headed toward a rebound.

“It’s the wrong plan at the wrong time for so many wrong reasons,” Republican Representative Jason Smith said.

Democrats were eager to get the final bill to Biden’s desk for his signature before current federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14.

The House, which passed an earlier version of the legislation, needed to meet again to approve changes made in the Senate over the weekend.

“There’s been a lot of talk about this package being too large and too expensive, but if there was ever a time to go big, this should be it,” said Democratic Representative Richard Neal.

Although many Republicans supported coronavirus relief under former President Donald Trump’s administration, no Republican lawmaker voted for the bill in the House or Senate, although polls have shown it is popular with voters, even Republicans.

The legislation could have high stakes for both parties. If it succeeds in giving the economy a major boost, it also could improve Democrats’ political fortunes as they attempt to hold onto their slim majorities in Congress going into the 2022 mid-term elections.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

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