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US House Passes Final Version of Stimulus Package

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the final version of a huge economic stimulus package, including money for broadband deployment and health IT.

The House on Friday voted 246-183 to approve a compromise version of the estimated US$787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. All 176 Republicans present voted against the bill.

Republicans complained that the bill included so-called pork-barrel spending and that Democrats didn't seek their input in crafting the bill. "A bill that was supposed to be about jobs, jobs, jobs has turned into a bill about spending, spending, spending," said Representative John Boehner, an Ohio Republican and House minority leader. "We owe it to the American people to get this right."

Democrats argued the bill is necessary to jump-start the U.S. economy.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill late Friday. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will sign the legislation.

The House and Senate both passed versions of the bill within the past three weeks, and negotiators from both chambers agreed on a compromise version of the bill earlier this week.

The bill includes $7.2 billion to help deploy broadband in rural and other unserved areas, $17 billion for incentives for health care providers to adopt electronic health records, and $11 billion to update the nation's electricity grid by hooking it up to the Internet.

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