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The massive financial “rescue” that President Bush signed into law Friday passed a reluctant Congress in part because the U.S. Senate added funding for rural schools.

After the bailout bill failed in the House on Monday, the Senate scrambled to make the legislation more palatable, especially to rural members from the West. They added to the bill a provision that extends the “Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act” for four more years — legislation that pays rural communities for revenues lost as timbering was restricted on federal lands.

“Oregon communities can finally breathe a sigh of relief,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) once $3.3 billion in rural school funding was slapped into the Senate’s version of the finance bill. The House passed this revised legislation on Friday.

“Payments go to 700 counties in 39 states”; the five biggest beneficiaries will be Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

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