Legislative proposals are being stonewalled that would bring billions in relief for flood and tornado victims in Iowa and across the Midwest, according to Senator Chuck Grassley.
The Iowa Republican blames the Democrats who control the debate agenda in the chambers of Congress. “I filed legislation as an amendment to the house bill and it was slow-walked and avoided by the Democratic leadership. Instead, legislation that short-changes the Midwest is being pushed by House Democratic leader,” Grassley says.
He notes this is the final week of work before Congress leaves for a five-week break, meaning at this rate, it could be mid-September or later before flood relief legislation passes.
“On top of all this, last night, the Senate Democratic leader, the majority leader who controls what happens on the Senate floor, wouldn’t even let me talk on the Senate floor about the importance of getting action on equitable tax relief for Midwest disaster victims,” Grassley says.
The nearly four-billion measure would let disaster victims take money out of retirement plans without facing tax penalties. It would also give tax breaks to businesses that suffered losses and encourage more donation to charities.
Grassley says, “I’m not asking for anything special, just the same consideration that’s been given to victims of other major disasters.” He says he’s aggravated to be getting such a run-around from Democrats when he shepherded similar legislation through Congress three years ago when the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi needed immediate help.
Grassley chaired the Senate Finance Committee after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. He says they acted very quickly to pass a major individual tax relief package for Katrina victims, legislation that was signed into law by the president three weeks after the storm hit.
Grassley says he’s not optimistic the Midwest flood relief bill will be acted upon before recess arrives on Friday, adding, some members of Congress are saying, off the record, that the damage in Iowa just doesn’t come close to what Katrina did along the Gulf Coast.