Baucus Praises Final Passage of Katrina Tax Package
Legislation Will Head to President’s Desk for Signature
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today, the Senate unanimously approved a measure drafted by SenateFinance Committee Ranking Member Max Baucus and Chairman Charles Grassley that willprovide immediate tax relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The legislation will provide cashassistance and encourage charitable donations to hurricane affected areas.
After announcing tax and health relief packages last week, Senator Baucus toured theGulf Coast region with other Senate leaders to survey the damage and assess the relief effort.
“Passing this tax package and getting it to the president is the first step in tackling thedevastating circumstances Katrina has left behind,” Baucus said. “We are also working toprovide long-term tax help, but today’s package will give urgent relief so victims can startpicking up the pieces and putting their lives back together.”
Yesterday, Baucus met with Senator Grassley, Rep. Bill Thomas, chairman of the HouseWays and Means Committee, and Rep. Charles Rangel, ranking member of the House Ways andMeans Committee, to reach an agreement on the House and Senate versions of the bill. Someadjustments were made according to Baucus, but for the most part the key features of the Senatebill stayed intact.
“The Senate and House versions had a few differences, but we were able to work themout,” Baucus said. “I am pleased that my colleagues worked together to develop real solutionsthat will provide cash assistance, help employers hire displaced workers, and support charitabledonations.”
The final package did not include “pay protection” for military reservists and guards.Baucus expressed disappointment with the decision, but pledged to keep fighting for reservistsand the guard, along with both Senators Kerry and Landrieu.
Baucus expects to unveil more relief legislation in the near future. Grassley and Baucushave introduced a package addressing the health and welfare needs of hurricane victims.Rebuilding businesses, housing, infrastructure, and addressing issues affecting distressed,working families will be top priorities, Baucus noted. In the coming weeks, the Senate FinanceCommittee plans to hold fact-finding hearings led by Baucus and Grassley in order to developeffective legislation to help the area recover.
“The recovery period of the Gulf Coast region will take years to complete,” Baucus said.“There is plenty of heavy lifting in the days ahead to help the region get up and running, butputting a plan in place now driven by tax incentives to rebuild homes, businesses, and theinfrastructure will significantly accelerate the rebuilding process.”
A Summary Document of the Modified Version of H.R. 3768, the Katrina Emergency Tax ReliefAct of 2005, is attached.
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