US Congress OKs hurricane aid

The US Congress approved a 10.5 billion-US dollar bill on Friday to support relief efforts in areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The House of Representative approved the bill by voice vote after Senate did the same late Thursday.

US President George W. Bush will sign the bill into law later in the day.

The aid plan is aimed to cover immediate costs of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the country's quick-response body for natural disasters.

At present, the FEMA is reportedly spending over 500 million dollars each day to the relief and rescue needs for hurricane- devastated areas in the four Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The Congress rushed to pass the bill ahead of its reconvening date of Sept. 6, otherwise the FEMA could run out of its relief funds.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay promised more relief bills, noting that Friday's bill is just a first move toward a " comprehensive and long-term response" to the disaster.

He said the Congress will provide more humanitarian aid, combat gasoline price gouging, provide assistance to businesses and the unemployed, rebuild infrastructure and utility systems, and help local law enforcement.

Friday's bill combines 10 billion dollars in new FEMA funds, which are enough to last just a few weeks, and 500 million dollars to cover the military's spending in relief missions.

Meanwhile, the US Labor Department announced Friday that it will provide an emergency grant of up to 50 million dollars to create 10,000 temporary jobs for displaced workers in hurricane- devastated Mississippi.

Source: Xinhua

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