The Bush administration and House lawmakers announced agreement on an economic stimulus package that would distribute rebate checks to 117 million families and give businesses incentives to invest in equipment.
``The stimulus package will put money in the hands of hardworking Americans,'' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference with House Republican Leader John Boehner and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson at the Capitol.
Lawmakers are racing to enact a stimulus measure to try to counter escalating risks of a recession. The Federal Reserve this week made an emergency cut in its benchmark overnight lending rate, lowering it three-quarters of a point to 3.5 percent.
President George W. Bush, in a statement at the White House, said the U.S. economy faces short-term disruptions in the housing market and rising energy prices.
``The country needs this boost to the economy now,'' Bush said. The agreement will result in ``higher consumer spending and increased business investment this year.''
Under the plan, individuals would receive rebates of up to $600 and couples could receive $1,200, plus $300 per child, Paulson said. Rebates would be phased out for individuals earning more than $75,000 and couples earning more than $150,000. Individuals must earn at least $3,000 to get a $300 rebate.
Paulson said the rebate checks may be mailed 60 days after the proposal becomes law, possibly in May.
The accord also seeks to address the growing number of housing foreclosures by including a provision allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest U.S. mortgage finance companies, to temporarily buy mortgages of as much as $729,750, exceeding a $417,000 federal limit.
Some lawmakers protested that the measure doesn't include more spending. Democrats sought to extend unemployment benefits or provide additional food-stamp aid.
Representative Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat who heads the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he did ``not understand, and cannot accept'' the dropping of an extension of unemployment benefits from the final stimulus package.
``These are the families we need to protect in times of recession as they struggle to put food on their tables, clothes on their backs and keep a roof over their heads,'' Rangel said in a statement. Rangel added, however, that he wouldn't block the legislation from ``moving forward.''
Two business incentives were included in the measure. One would allow large businesses to deduct more of the price of new equipment they purchase this year. Small businesses would be allowed to deduct twice the current limit of $112,000 for new equipment purchases.
Senate Democratic leaders, while praising the House agreement today, said the measure will be amended in that chamber.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called for quick action.
``We can all agree that we must act soon if we want to provide timely relief to American families and job creators, and boost our fundamentally strong economy,'' he said in a prepared statement.