HAITI: Rep. Maxine Waters – Press Release/Text of Floor Speech on Aid and Relief for Haiti

Posted on January 21, 2010


January 20, 2010
For Immediate Release
    Contact: Michael Levin
    Phone: (202) 225-2201

Congresswoman Maxine Waters Acts to Spur Aid, Relief for Haiti

She Encourages Congress to Support Further Debt Relief for Haiti,
Rallies L.A. Haitian Community

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) announced today
that she is writing 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. 

In a speech from the House floor, 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."
Following her speech, the Congresswoman circulated 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."

Because of the widespread devastation to Haiti's people and
infrastructure and because of the large Haitian diaspora living in the
U.S., the Congresswoman 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 today 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 will also vote this week to pass H. Res. 1021, a resolution
expressing condolences to, and solidarity with, the people of Haiti in
the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of January 12th, 2010.
Congresswoman Waters is an original co-sponsor of the resolution.
H. Res. 1021, Resolution Expressing Condolences for the Earthquake in
Haiti

Rep. Maxine Waters' Statement as Prepared for Delivery

January 20, 2010

    I thank my good friend from California [Rep. Barbara Lee].

    I rise to support this resolution, which expresses the
condolences of the House of Representatives with the people of Haiti
following last week's devastating earthquake.  I especially appreciate
the fact that this resolution urges multilateral financial institutions
to immediately suspend further debt payments from Haiti, and to develop
processes to cancel all of Haiti's remaining debt.

    Haiti cannot begin to recover from the earthquake while
continuing to make payments on debts owed to multilateral financial
institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, and the Inter-American
Development Bank.  Even before the earthquake occurred, debt payments
were a tremendous burden that interfered with the ability of Haiti's
government to meet the needs of its people.  

    Haiti worked very hard over the past several years to qualify
for debt relief.  In order to qualify, the Government of Haiti
successfully developed and implemented a comprehensive Poverty Reduction
Strategy Paper, under the direction of the IMF and the World Bank.  As a
result, multilateral financial institutions provided Haiti $1.2 billion
in debt relief last June.  Nevertheless, Haiti still owes a total of
$664 million in debts to multilateral financial institutions:
*   $447 million to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB),
*   $165 million to the IMF,
*   $39 million to the World Bank, and
*   $13 million to the international Fund for Agricultural
Development (IFAD).

    The IMF offered Haiti a new $100 million loan for earthquake
recovery efforts.  Unfortunately, new loans that will add to Haiti's
debt burden are not what Haiti needs at this critical time.  I was
encouraged to learn that IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn
expressed support for canceling all of Haiti's debts, including the new
loan, and I look forward to working with him to do so.

    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.  

    I thank my good friend Barbara Lee for introducing this
resolution, and I join my colleagues in expressing my deepest sympathies
for the people of Haiti.