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Congresswoman Maxine Waters Acts to Spur Aid, Relief for Haiti

January 20, 2010
Press Release

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) announced today that she is introducing legislation to cancel Haiti's debt to multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which now stands at $664 million.

During a press conference with the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Waters said, "I am introducing legislation to require the United States Secretary of the Treasury to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States within the multilateral financial institutions to cancel all of Haiti's remaining debts, and I hope all of my colleagues will support it.  Canceling Haiti's debts will free up the country's meager resources, allowing it to begin meeting its immediate and long-term needs." The Congresswoman is also circulating a letter among her colleagues seeking support for further debt relief for Haiti.

Congresswoman Waters has been a longtime advocate for the fair treatment of the Haitian people. Just last year, she secured $1.2 billion in debt relief for Haiti from these very multilateral institutions. Congresswoman Waters said, "We were able to accomplish debt relief for Haiti last year, believing it to be an important step forward so the country could focus on investing in health care, education, and infrastructure vitally important to the Haitian people. However, we now know that not only will all of Haiti's resources be needed to deal with this disaster; the international community will also need to continue to make urgent and sustained donations to the country."

Congresswoman Waters recently partnered with The Coalition in Solidarity with Haiti in Los Angeles to rally the local Haitian community and share information about the U.S. government's response to the disaster and how to help.

She also voted yesterday to help earthquake victims in Haiti by offering an immediate tax benefit to Americans who make charitable contributions to aid the region. This bipartisan legislation, passed unanimously by the House of Representatives, will allow individuals to claim any donations to the relief effort as an itemized deduction on their 2009 tax return, instead of waiting to claim it on their 2010 return.

"I have been moved and inspired by the outpouring of support from America for the Haitian people," said Congresswoman Waters. "This bill acknowledges the many Americans who have donated millions of dollars to charitable organizations, including through wildly successful texting campaigns. I believe that this important change to the 2009 filing laws will inspire more Americans to donate to Haiti during its critical time of need, and I encourage them to do so."

The House is also expected today to pass H. Res. 1021, a resolution expressing condolences to, and solidarity with, the people of Haiti. Congresswoman Waters is an original co-sponsor of the resolution.