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US House approves massive economic stimulus bill

world Updated: Jan 29, 2009 08:58 IST
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The divided US House of Representatives has approved a $819-billion stimulus package touted by President Barack Obama as a vital remedy to revive the ailing US economy.

The bill sailed through by a vote margin of 244-188, handing Obama a major victory and shifting the battle over how best to draw the US economy out of a paralyzing recession to the Senate.

The legislation cleared the House without so much as a single Republican vote, frustrating Obama's hunt for bipartisan support, notably two unusual in-person appeals to his foes at the capitol one day earlier.

And 11 Democrats broke ranks to oppose the plan, which passed shortly after the House defeated a Republican rival measure anchored on tax cuts by by a vote of 266-170.

The vote came hours after Obama made a last-minute call for Republican votes, demanding "bold and swift" action to resurrect US jobs and arrest the US economy's brutal downward slide.

Obama enlisted the muscle of 13 top executives of major American companies in a meeting yesterday to pile political pressure on Republicans as the House opened its debate and also warned American workers were watching closely.

"The workers who are returning home to tell their husbands and wives and children that they no longer have a job, and all those who live in fear that their job will be next on the cutting blocks, they need help now," Obama said.

"They are looking to Washington for action, bold and swift," Obama said in a short speech in the East Room of the White House.