Thursday, September 15, 2005


Bills passed, but conference committe needed

The House and Senate tax plan, among other steps, waives penalties for hurricane victims who tap into their retirement savings accounts, helps the working poor hold onto an earned income tax credit, and provides a tax break to anyone who houses evacuees for two months or more.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley also hoped to pass a bipartisan $5 billion to $7 billion plan to speed health care to those displaced by Katrina by easing rules for the Medicaid federal health care program, though objections from unnamed senators had snagged the bill as off midday.

And the Senate is likely to pass and send to Bush a House-passed bill to temporarily ease rules requiring welfare recipients to work 30 hours a week for their benefits while extending the overall welfare program through the end of the year.

Separately, an amendment adopted Wednesday by the Senate on a voice vote would provide more than 350,000 families left homeless by Katrina with emergency housing vouchers averaging $600 a month for up to six months.

Any displaced family, regardless of income, would be eligible for the program, which is slated to cost $3.5 billion over six months.

full story here

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