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President Bush Hails Approval of Tax Cut Bill by US Senate

The U.S. Senate has approved a measure that would cut $70 billion in taxes over the next five years.

The bill passed the Senate Thursday by a vote of 54-to-44, one day after it passed in the House of Representatives. President Bush says he will quickly sign the bill into law.

It extends the 15 percent tax rate for investors until 2010, and provides one year of relief from an alternative minimum tax originally created to reach the country's most wealthy people, but that has increasingly affected middle-income Americans.

The lower taxes, which the Republican-controlled Congress first passed in 2003, were set to expire at the end of 2008. Mr. Bush and other Republicans say the cuts have helped boost the U.S. economy.

The president says the extension "prevents an enormous tax hike" that Americans "do not want and would not welcome."

But Democrats and a few moderate Senate Republicans say the cuts benefit only the wealthiest Americans, and have made the huge government deficit even bigger.

The bill's approval gives Mr. Bush a much-needed political victory amid low approval ratings for the president and Congress. He is hoping the bill will improve the Republican Party's chances of retaining control of Congress in this November's mid-term elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.