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Lawmakers pass bill to help manufacturers

The House approved a bill Wednesday to help U.S. manufacturers by suspending import duties on hundreds of raw materials they use to make finished goods.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said the bill, which received broad bipartisan support, was a preview of a bigger package Democrats plan to offer in coming weeks to boost manufacturing jobs.

“Democrats know that a strong manufacturing base is key to our economic revival, and the passage of this bill today is a good step forward as we continue to create the jobs America needs,” Mr. Hoyer said.

The House voted 378-43 to approve the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act, a bipartisan measure previously known as the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill and passed every few years.

The Senate also must approve the bill before it can go to President Obama for his signature.

Mr. Hoyer said the tariff relief provided in the bill was projected to add billions of dollars to the economy and support tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

FED

Chief open to steps keep recovery going

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke tells Congress the economic outlook remains “unusually uncertain,” and the Fed is ready to take new steps to keep the recovery alive if the economy worsens.

The Fed chief, in prepared testimony to the Senate banking committee Wednesday, said record low interest rates are still needed to bolster the economy and pledges once again to keep them there for an “extended period.”

Although Mr. Bernanke downplayed the odds that the economy will slide back into a “double-dip” recession, he acknowledged that the “economic outlook remains unusually uncertain.”

Given that, the Fed is “prepared to take further policy actions as needed” to keep the recovery on track, he said. He didn’t outline specific measures.

SENATE

GOP Sen. Lugar to support Kagan

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