The US House of Representatives has passed an $825bn economic stimulus bill of emergency spending and tax put forward by Barack Obama, the US president, to tackle the ailing US economy.
The bill was passed by 244 votes to 188, but every Republican who voted opposed the landmark bill, complaining it contained too much new spending and not enough tax cuts.
All but 11 of Obama's fellow Democrats in the House supported the bill to combat the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The Senate begins debate next week.
Obama, seeking to build support, said, "I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk" to be signed into law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said Obama sought bold and swift action and "that is exactly what action we are taking today."
The Democratic-led Senate is expected to approve a similar version of the bill, one costing $887 billion. It includes a one-year fix to insulate middle-class taxpayers from the Alternative Minimum Tax, which originally was aimed at the wealthy but is affecting a growing number of middle-class taxpayers because of inflation.
Once the Senate passes its bill, House and Senate negotiators must resolve differences and approve a final measure that can be sent to Obama.
Earlier in the day at the White House, Obama got a boost from corporate heads.
"The message has to be that the situation is dire," David Cote, chief executive of Honeywell, said after a meeting with Obama and other business leaders. "Everybody is being touched by this."
Ending the 13-month U.S. recession will be difficult and economists disagree over how to do it.
On Friday, the federal government is due to release an estimate of economic performance that economists expect will show the economy contracted at an annual rate of 5.4 percent last year. That would put the U.S. economy closer to the 6.4 percent contraction in 1931, which was followed by 13 percent in 1932, during the Great Depression.
The House-passed bill would spend $825 billion over the next few years with a combination of emergency spending and tax cuts to create and save up to 4 million jobs.
"This $825 billion package is not too large ... in fact it's probably smaller than it ought to be," House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey said.
U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday on optimism the new administration was moving quickly to stabilize banking and on hopes for a stimulus package soon.
Last Mod: 29 Ocak 2009, 17:43