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Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, this is the final amendment to H.R. 6169. It will not kill the bill nor will it send it back to committee. If adopted, H.R. 6169 will immediately proceed to final passage, as amended.
My amendment is simple and straightforward and is a reasonable, additional parameter to a bill, the purpose of which is to set the parameters for tax reform during the 113th Congress.
Mr. Speaker, my amendment simply preserves two of the most important, popular, and widely supported deductions in a future tax reform package to be considered under expedited procedures in the House: the mortgage interest tax deduction and the charitable contribution tax deduction.
The mortgage interest tax deduction helps millions of American families achieve that most celebrated and sought-after part of the American Dream: homeownership. Nearly every Member of this body benefited from this deduction and nearly every homeowner in our districts has utilized this critical tax deduction to buy a home for their family and become part of the larger community. In fact, 199 Members, including 114 Republicans, are cosponsors of H. Res. 25, a resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the mortgage interest tax deduction should not be restricted in any way.
I will submit for the Record a list of the cosponsors of H. Res. 25.
As we head home for the August work period, I urge every Member who votes against this amendment, especially those Members who are cosponsors of H. Res. 25, to return to their districts and tell their constituents, many of whom still struggle to pay their bills or to put a child through college, why they oppose protecting the mortgage interest tax deduction.
As Chairman Camp recently suggested, it is critical that we do nothing to undermine the housing market as our economy marches toward recovery. Because the value of the mortgage interest deduction is capitalized into the price of housing, curtailing or eliminating it would reduce the value of housing across the United States, put more homeowners underwater, and take the wind out of recovery. Simply put, this Congress should not be throwing up obstacles to the American Dream.
Mr. Speaker, my amendment also seeks to preserve the charitable contribution deduction that is essential to the economic viability of thousands of organizations, both large and small, national and local, to advance important causes or provide critically needed services to our most vulnerable constituents. From the neighborhood church to the local food pantry to international organizations like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, these organizations play a crucial role in the lives of millions of Americans as well as the international community.
We've heard many times from our Republican colleagues how charitable organizations can and should relieve the Federal Government of some of its responsibilities, especially those responsibilities of assisting the most vulnerable Americans. With thousands of families slowly regaining their footing after the housing crisis, now is not the time for Congress to make it more difficult for charitable organizations to provide meals, clothing, job training, temporary shelter, and other vital aid to our struggling neighbors.
Repealing the charitable tax contribution could result in a loss of as much as $150 billion, or 69 percent, of annual charitable giving. By one report, private giving must already multiply more than tenfold by 2016 just to keep up with the proposed House Republican budget cuts.
If a Member votes against my amendment, I would urge that Member to go home to his or her district and visit a local food pantry or place of worship and tell their volunteers why they will need to slash their programs and reduce their outreach to the community.
Our Republican colleagues have proposed deep cuts to SNAP, to childhood nutrition programs, affordable housing, and job training. Will they now vote to create another obstacle for organizations that, by their own reckoning, should fill the void of reduced Federal investment for social programs?
My Republican colleagues can't have it both ways. The Republican budget claims that it will lower everyone's taxes in a revenue-neutral fashion by closing loopholes and capping or eliminating deductions. However, when pressed for details about which deductions they plan to cap or eliminate, they refuse to give specifics. Now is the time for specifics.
The underlying bill establishes the parameters of the upcoming tax reform debate. Will my Republican colleagues protect homeowners and the Nation's most vulnerable, or will the richest Americans enjoy another tax cut at the expense of the middle class? There is one way to find out. A vote for my amendment is a vote for protecting the middle class.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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