Most Americans will be getting rebate checks from Washington within a few months as part of an economic stimulus plan passed by Congress.
After the Senate voted Thursday, the House quickly followed suit and passed a stimulus package designed to pump money into the economy to avoid fears a looming recession.
"What has passed the Congress in record time is a gift to the middle class and those who aspire to it in our country," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "We believe the stimulus, the way it is targeted, will put money into the hands of those who will spend it immediately, injecting demand into the economy and therefore creating jobs."
Check's In The Mail
The plan would send every American taxpayer earning between $3,000 to $75,000 annually a rebate between $300 to $600.
Couples making less than $150,000 a year could get up to $1,200 and parents would get a $300 rebate for each child.
The Senate-modified version also extends eligibility to those who earn too little to pay taxes, including 20 million seniors on fixed incomes and a quarter of a million disabled veterans.
Illegal immigrants are not to receive rebate checks.
The bill also includes tax breaks for businesses investing in new plants and equipment and takes steps to prop up the slumping housing market.
President Bush said he will sign the nearly $170 billion bill even though it is more than what he requested.
Once it is signed the Internal Revenue Service will begin processing checks which will begin to be mailed out to taxpayers in May.
"For those people who are listening that thinks nothing in this city ever gets done on a bipartisan way, we are proving to the rest of the nation that everything in Washington is not partisan," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
Both Sides Drop Priorities
In the end, Democrats and Republicans dropped their party priorities, pressured by two things. The fact that it is an election year and the growing concern about a slowing economy where Americans are spending more on food and gas and less on everything else.
Thirty-three Republicans joined 46 Democrats and the Senate's two independents to pass the measure.
Sixteen Republican senators voted against the plan, some who expressed concerns about the effectiveness of rebate checks and an expanding federal deficit.
"We have to remember that every dollar being spent on the stimulus package is being borrowed from our children. And our children's children," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who voted against the bill.
The two Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, skipped the vote. The Republican front-runner, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, cast his first vote of the year on the bill, voting "yes."
McCain had missed the vote the evening before.
Source: Associated Press