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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise to speak in support of the ``Hurricane Katrina Fast-Track Refunds for Working Families Act of 2005,'' a bill I am introducing with Senators MURRAY, CORZINE, KERRY, and LEVIN to accelerate the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit for some of the neediest victims of Hurricane Katrina.

A few weeks ago, I visited some of the victims who had been evacuated to the Reliant Center in Houston. These families have nothing left. Imagine having nothing left. All their belongings have been destroyed or washed away and most of their jobs have simply vanished.

We have done a lot of good work here in the Senate so far to bring tax relief and emergency support to these families. And many of us are hard at work now developing strategies for the long-term rebuilding of the Gulf Coast in such a way that doesn't re-create the poverty and inequality of the past but instead builds a more hopeful region with greater opportunity for all of its residents.

But there is more we can do quickly to help affected families reestablish and resettle their lives and also to stimulate their local economies. In the past we have accelerated tax refunds with the goal of economic stimulus. In 2001, Congress directed the IRS to provide an ``advance tax rebate'' of 2001 taxes, and, in 2003, Congress accelerated the Child Credit. Now, with the dual goals of economic stimulus and support for needy Americans, we should do it again.

Fast-tracking refunds will put money into the hands of parents that they can use for food, clothing, housing, transportation, medical services--whatever they need. How they spend the money is up to them. But it's up to us to make sure they get it as soon as possible. It's up to us to make sure the necessary outreach, systems, and delivery mechanisms are in place.

And that's what this legislation does. It directs the Secretary of the Treasury to refund or credit eligible taxpayers from the affected region as rapidly as possible and to take the steps necessary to get the funds into the hands of eligible recipients. Companion legislation has been introduced by Reps. EMANUEL, MELANCON, TAYLOR, and LEWIS in the House of Representatives.

I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join me in supporting this bill now so we can quickly bring relief and support to those who have nothing left. The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are designed to support working families with children. Let's fast track this support to help these families get back on their feet and help their communities rebuild themselves even stronger than before.

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