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US Congress Heads Toward Final Votes on Economic Measure


The U.S. Congress is on track for decisive votes on a $789 billion measure aimed at slowing the U.S. economic decline. The House of Representatives is to consider and vote on the bill Friday, with Senate action also expected.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as the measure is called will be on the floor on Friday.

She says it will be a major step toward creating jobs and helping halt the U.S. economic slide, while being accountable to taxpayers. "We make many votes in the Congress. They are all important. Some of them are historic. This one is historic and transformational," he said.

A summary released on Thursday shows $311 billion of the measure dedicated to infrastructure, health, training, and energy projects, along with food stamp and other aid for poor and low income Americans, and tens of billions for the government Medicaid program.

The bill also includes tax cuts, although at a lower level than President Obama had wanted, credits for first-time homebuyers, and money for U.S. states facing sharp budget shortfalls.

But even as the bill makes it way to the House floor, Republican opponents continue their harsh attacks on its spending and tax provisions.

House Republican leader John Boehner. "We're very concerned that the $800 billion stimulus plan that we are about to pass here in the Congress won't work, and will do nothing more than put mountains of debt on the backs of our kids and grand kids," he said.

Republicans also complained that Democrats had not provided the usual 48 hours to review the full text of the bill, and asserted that an alternative they offered would create more jobs and be more effective for the economy.

With the House debate and vote set for Friday, the Senate will also take up the final bill, which is the outcome of a compromise in which three Senate Republicans joined Democrats in trimming the size of the measure.

Democrats have a sufficient majority in the House to assure passage. Boehner declined to predict whether any House Republicans will support the measure, after all of them voted against an initial bill passed last month.

President Obama told workers at a Caterpillar factory in Illinois that the plan is a crucial part of his administration's efforts to help the U.S. economy. "I believe it will be a major step forward on our path to economic recovery," he said.

Congressional passage of the economic bill would send it on to the president to be signed into law.

But President Obama plans additional trips across the country next week to both build support for steps he is taking for the economy and financial system and try to strengthen morale for Americans facing hardships.
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