Bush: Will sign economic stimulus bill next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush said on Friday he would sign a $152 billion economic stimulus package into law next week.

The Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday approved the measure, a series of tax rebates and business incentives aimed at staving off an election-year recession in the struggling U.S. economy.

“We are in a period of economic uncertainty and we’ve acted again,” Bush told 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.”

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

The legislation will provide one-time rebates of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for couples, plus $300 for each child. Low-income people, including retirees on Social Security and disabled veterans who pay no income taxes, would receive checks of $300.

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The final bill was 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.

To win more Republican support in the closely divided Senate, Democrats had to drop proposed benefits for long-term unemployed workers and other provisions that would have helped low-income people pay heating bills and home builders write off current year losses against previous tax years.

The Senate also added language to ensure illegal immigrants did not receive rebate checks.

With the latest economic date suggesting the U.S. economy is stalling, the bill will inject nearly $152 billion into the economy this year and more than $16 billion next year.

Some economists have said, however, that while the measures will buy time, they may not be enough to avert recession.

Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Alan Elsner