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.