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Bush Wants Action on Stimulus, Warrantless Surveillance


President Bush wants swift Congressional action on tax cuts to stimulate the economy and broader powers for the government to monitor the communications of suspected terrorists. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, opposition Democrats want more court oversight of eavesdropping and both Republican and Democratic senators want to expand the president's economic stimulus plan.

President Bush says Congress should move as soon as possible to approve taxpayer rebates and business incentives meant to stimulate a U.S. economy hurt by rising fuel prices and instability in the housing and financial markets.

The $150 billion deal is a compromise between the White House and Republican and Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives. Members of both parties in the Senate want to add to the plan. In his weekly radio address, President Bush says that would be a mistake.

"I ask the House and Senate to enact this package into law as soon as possible," he said. "And while I understand the desire to add provisions from both the left and the right, it would be a mistake to undermine this important bipartisan agreement. By working together, we can provide our economy with a shot in the arm when we need it most."

A bipartisan coalition of Senators wants to expand unemployment benefits, food aid, and home heating assistance. Others want more spending on roads or tax breaks for U.S. corporations that repatriate offshore profits.

President Bush is warning against delaying the measure, because its ability to stimulate the economy depends on it being done quickly.

In the Democratic radio address, North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan says the president's cooperation with Congress is encouraging, but long overdue.

"Frankly, there is a lot more that has to be done to put our economy back on track for the longer term, and we need real cooperation," he explained. "This isn't going to be easy. President Bush has given us a fiscal policy that has piled up mountains of debt by insisting we fight the war in Iraq with borrowed money."

President Bush says he will use Monday's State of the Union address to lay out a full plate of issues before Congress for his final year. Mr. Bush says there must be immediate action before a law governing electronic eavesdropping expires on Friday.

"If this law expires, it will become harder to figure out what our enemies are doing to infiltrate our country, harder for us to uncover terrorist plots, and harder to prevent attacks on the American people," he added.

The president wants broader powers for U.S. intelligence agents to act without court approval in monitoring telephone and computer communications between people in the United States and suspected terrorists abroad.

Opposition Democrats want more court oversight in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Some object to legal immunity for telephone companies that have helped the government monitor those communications.

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