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    Stimulus Bill to be Signed This Week

    Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation applauds the Senate's signing of the $152 billion plan.

    WASHINGTON -- President Bush is expected to sign a $152 billion economic stimulus package into law this week, after last week's approval by the Senate and House of Representatives, Reuters reported.

    The $152 billion plan involves a series of tax rebates and business incentives aimed at preventing an election-year recession in the struggling U.S. economy, the report stated.

    "We are in a period of economic uncertainty and we've acted again," Bush said at a conservative conference in Washington. "I want to thank the members [of Congress] for passing a good piece of legislation, which I will sign into law next week."

    The legislation includes one-time rebates of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for couples, plus $300 for each child, according to the report. In addition, low-income people who pay no income taxes, including retirees on Social Security and disabled veterans, would receive checks of $300, Reuters reported.

    "This bill reflects our principles," added Bush. "It is robust; it is pro-growth; it stimulates business investment, and it puts money into the hands of American consumers."

    The final bill approved by Congress is broader than the original package backed by Bush. The Senate added the benefits for elderly and disabled veterans, who had been left out of the House bill that was approved last month. The Senate also added language to ensure illegal immigrants did not receive rebate checks, the report stated.

    To win Republican support, Senate Democrats dropped proposed benefits for long-term unemployed workers and other provisions to help pay for home heating bills and allowing home builders to write off current year losses against previous tax years, the report stated.

    In the wake of the approval, The National Retail Federation (NRF) welcomed the completion of the economic stimulus legislation.

    "Expanding the rebate checks to include retirees and disabled veterans is a win-win strategy," NRF senior vice president for government relations, Steve Pfister, said in a statement. "Retirees and veterans not only deserve a check, but are also among those most likely to spend the rebates so that this money gets put to work in the economy right away. The most important thing is that Congress is moving quickly, because stimulus legislation needs to be timely in order to be effective."

    The NRF board of directors passed a resolution last month that urged Bush and Congress to act, following the smallest holiday sales growth in five years at 3 percent, according to the NRF.

    "We agree with economists who say that boosting consumer spending is the quickest way to get the economy back on track," Pfister said. "Consumer spending represents 70 percent of our nation's economy. Money that consumers spend in retail stores supports every job behind every product on the shelf and has a ripple effect throughout the economy."

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