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Bush signs stripped-down economic stimulus bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush Saturday signed a stripped-down version of an economic stimulus bill that extends unemployment benefits for displaced workers, but doesn't contain the tax cuts the president originally supported.

"We're seeing some encouraging signs in the economy, but we can't stand by and simply hope for continued recovery," Bush said in his Saturday radio address, given live from the Rose Garden where he signed the bill. "We must work for it. We must make sure that our recovery continues and gains momentum."

Bush was flanked by congressional leaders, Vice President Cheney and a number of workers representative of those who would be helped by the bill.

The stimulus measure, approved by the Senate Friday after earlier approval by the House, extends the 26-week limit on unemployment benefits to 39 weeks -- longer in states with high unemployment rates. The extension comes just as the 26 weeks of unemployment benefits were about to expire for workers who lost their jobs after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The law also provides tax incentives for companies to expand and invest in plants and equipment, which Bush said "will mean more job opportunities for workers in every part of our country, especially in manufacturing and in high-tech and for those who work for small businesses."

The $42 billion stimulus bill also contains more than $5 billion in tax relief for businesses in lower Manhattan "to help businesses get back on their feet so they can start hiring again," Bush said.

"The people of New York have shown great courage and perseverance, and America stands with them," he said. "For the families of victims, these have been six months of sorrow, and America will never forget their loss."

While the bill also extends several expiring tax provisions, it does not contain tax cuts that Bush and GOP leaders had proposed, which could not get through the Democratic-controlled Senate. House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Friday that Republicans would act on a tax package later this year.

Also missing from the bill was any extension of health insurance benefits for the unemployed. Republicans and Democrats had disagreed over how to provide those benefits.




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