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Senate passes emergency hurricane relief bill

[JURIST] In an emergency session Thursday night, the US Senate [official website] passed a bill to provide $10.5 billion in emergency relief [White House request] to the victims of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive]. The measure was approved by voice vote with only four Senators present on the floor. Read Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's floor statement [transcript]. An identical bill is expected to pass in the House on Friday and the legislation will then go to President Bush for his signature. House and Senate leaders decided to reconvene legislative sessions early, the first time Congress has cut short its vacation since its failed efforts in March to prevent Terri Schiavo's feeding tube from being removed. The disaster relief bill will authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency [official website] to control $10 billion of the funds, with the Pentagon using the remaining $500 million for National Guard deployments and evacuation efforts. Bush has said that he anticipates asking Congress for further emergency funding in the coming weeks. Reuters has more.

2:05 PM ET - The US House of Representatives has approved the $10.5 billion emergency relief bill by a voice vote, sending the legislation to President Bush for his signature. AP has more.

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