The House of Representatives on Wednesday finalized a massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that will now head to President Biden’s desk.
The vote was 220 to 211 in the House with zero Republicans voting “yes” on the controversial relief package which is filled with goodies for the Democrats and their buddies.
Democrats maintain that the nearly $2 trillion bill is necessary to rebuild the economy. “The American people have been calling on us to deliver relief and to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dem. Rep. Bobby Scott, the chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor that helped author the legislation. “Today we come together to send a resounding message that help is on the way.”
Biden plans on signing the bill on Friday and “hitting the road” in the near future to try to convince Americans the package was a good idea, according to the White House.
Meanwhile, Press secretary Jen Psaki during a press conference in Washington called it “the most progressive bill in American history.”
Democrats utilized a budget process to ram the package through Congress with no bipartisan support, drawing criticism from the GOP.
Republican Ann Wager on Wednesday said on the House floor, “I rise in opposition to the partisan $1.9 trillion spending bill before us today. It’s shameful Democrats have disregarded their obligation to provide real COVID relief to the American people and are instead attempting to use this process to jam through partisan agenda items.”
“This bill is not targeted, timely, or tied to COVID. We need to focus on solving the critical issues at hand: getting vaccines to Americans, providing relief to our local businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues, and supporting those who have been seriously impacted by this pandemic. Only 9 percent of this massive $1.9 trillion package goes to fighting COVID-19. And outside of stimulus payments, nearly half won’t even be spent this year.”
Democrats, however, pointed out that they broke no rules.
“We have acted with the urgency this pandemic demands while following every House rule and proper procedure required for a budget reconciliation package,” House Budget Chairman Democrat John Yarmuth said.
“The American Rescue Plan is aggressive, no doubt about it, but researchers and health professionals have told us this is what it is needed to scale up testing, and to speed up equitable vaccine distribution. They said this is what is needed if we want to save lives and defeat this pandemic once and for all. Economists have also made clear what is needed to generate a strong strong, inclusive economic recovery. And, again, we listened,” he said.
Others also said the bill would provide much-needed relief.
“A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic requires bold investment and that is what the American Rescue Plan is. This bill invests $20 billion to get shots in arms and make sure everyone knows where, when, and how to get a vaccine. Many students are back in school or going back soon. California will get $15 billion to reopen safely and keep schools open to make up for lost time,” Democrat Rep. Salud Carbajal said on the House floor.
Republicans asserted that the bill included a number of measures unrelated to combating the pandemic.
Republican Rep. Andy Barr argued the economy is already poised for a full recovery while accusing Democrats of “exploiting this pandemic” to pass partisan items such as giving money to state and local governments, and sending checks to prisoners.