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BUSH SIGNS BILL EXTENDING BENEFITS FOR UNEMPLOYED

President Bush signed legislation Wednesday making federal unemployment benefits available through December 31.

Bush turned the bill into law with no fanfare. The White House announced it in a one-sentence statement that contained no comment.

Only people who exhaust all their state aid -- generally 26 weeks -- will be eligible for the 13 weeks of emergency benefits. Jobless Americans who live in the high unemployment states of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania will get 26 weeks.

About a million people who have already used up their state and federal benefits won't get any new aid.

The program was scheduled to expire May 31, but Congress passed the extension last week.

The nation's unemployment rate is 6 percent, almost 2 percentage points higher than when Bush took office. About 8.8 million people are out of work, victims of a struggling economy that is stuck in low gear without producing new jobs.

It was the third time Congress has acted on unemployment.

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