March 06, 2014

Bill to Boost Aid to Philippines Passes in Senate

In an effort to boost assistance to victims of last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, senators passed a bill Thursday that would allow donors to deduct new charitable contributions from last year’s taxes.

The bill (S 1821), which passed the Senate by unanimous consent, would allow people who make donations from the date of enactment of the bill through April 15 to deduct that amount from last year’s taxes.

Under the measure, cash contributions made for the relief of victims in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan would count as a charitable contribution deduction for tax purposes.

Bill sponsor Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, said the bill, her first to pass the Senate, would encourage people to continue donating to relief efforts. Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever recorded on land, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage across the central Philippines, leaving more than 6,000 people dead, she said.

“Today because of the magnitude of the devastation, the Philippines has not yet recovered,” Hirono said Thursday. “It will take them a long time.”

Hirono said Congress passed identical legislation after a 2010 earthquake in Haiti, to encourage donations to that country. “It is a modest step, but it is one we should take,” she said.

Hirono attempted to pass the bill earlier in the day, but her request was blocked by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. Sessions, ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, said the measure included language designating the provisions as emergency spending, exempt from discretionary caps, which is under his panel’s review.

Sessions spokesman Stephen Miller said the senators worked together to fix the concern. An amendment offered by Hirono and her Republican co-sponsor Dean Heller of Nevada, which was adopted before passage, removed the disputed language.

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By:  Sarah Chacko
Source: CQ Roll Call