The means of paying for the bill, a result of difficult negotiations in the Senate, were contentious.
Republicans objected to raising some $10 billion by raising taxes on some U.S.-based multinational companies. Advocates for the poor protested a provision to accelerate the phasing out of an increase in food stamp payments implemented in last year's economic recovery bill. Under the measure, payments would return to pre-stimulus rates in 2014, saving almost $12 billion.
James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, said that would be cutting benefits for some 40 million people now receiving food stamps. "Those families will be hungrier and less able to buy healthy diets," he said.
Weill's group estimated that a family of four that may now receive about $464 a month in food stamps stood to lose about $59. Democrats gave assurances that they would look for other ways to pay for the bill before the payment cuts go into effect in four years.
"The cutbacks in food stamps in the bill are plain wrong," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Gerald McEntee rejected GOP arguments that the Democrats' primary purpose with the legislation was to reward their friends in organized labor. "We're in tough shape out there with these incredible holes in these state budgets. To the American people it's tremendously important and will give a little lift to the economy," he said of the legislation.
The House on Tuesday also passed a $600 million measure to boost security on the U.S.-Mexican border by hiring more enforcement officers and making greater use of unmanned surveillance drones. That bill still has to go back to the Senate.