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US Congress Passes Economic Stimulus Bill

The U.S. Senate Thursday passed a package of tax rebates for millions of Americans and business tax cuts aimed at reviving the sluggish economy. The measure was quickly approved later by the House of Representatives by a vote of 380 to 34. President Bush is expected to sign the bill shortly. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

The 81 to 16 vote came after Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a deal to include rebate checks to disabled veterans and retired Americans who receive social security - two groups who were left out of an economic stimulus package approved by the House last week.

The measure, which would give checks of up to $600 to American taxpayers, is aimed at heading off a recession this election year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is Nevada Democrat:

"The best way to stimulate the economy is to get money into the hands of those who will spend it immediately," said Harry Reid.

Democrats dropped their demands to include home heating assistance and expanded unemployment benefits after Republicans blocked the proposal Wednesday.

After days of partisan wrangling on the package, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky praised the compromise.

"We were able to put aside our differences, not only here in the Senate, but with our colleagues in the House as well and the administration, to make an important statement that we are concerned about the slowing of our economy, and that we want to do something significant about it very quickly," said Mitch McConnell.

The legislation also makes clear that no rebates are to be provided to illegal immigrants.