Washington, March 15, 2005
Freshman Congressman Bobby Jindal is already making
a difference on the Hill as he has promised. The House
of Representatives has passed a bill co-sponsored
by him to stop the taxing of disaster assistance grants.
The House Monday passed the bill (H.R. 1134) by a
Now the bill moves to the Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Representatives Mark Foley
(Republican from Florida) and Bobby Jindal (Republican
from Louisiana), would prevent the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) from taxing Americans who receive Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants to take
preventive measures against natural disasters.
Last week in his update, Jindal told constituents
he had not forgotten the bill and that it was on its
way to passage. "I have some good news to report
on the bill I introduced to prevent grants given to
disaster victims from being taxed as income - it is
"Sorry to steal the old pun, but I am excited
to announce that there has been much support for it,"
the Indian American said.
The bill had garnered 78 co-sponsors and Jindal said
he hoped to "move it quickly through the House
and into the Senate".
The bill has to become law before April 15 and Jindal
said: "I promise I will fight hard to get some
resolution before that date."
"I am grateful for the leadership of Chairman
Thomas in getting this important bill to the House
floor," said Ways and Means Member Mark Foley,
whose district suffered direct hits from three back-to-back
hurricanes last summer.
"These grants are intended to save lives as
well as future taxpayer dollars. Taxing victims of
natural disasters is 'penny-wise, pound-foolish'."
Currently, FEMA provides grants to businesses and
individuals to encourage pre-emptive protective measures
against natural disasters - called mitigation grants.
Last year, the IRS defined these grants as taxable
income. H.R. 1134 would make mitigation grants tax-exempt
- removing a disincentive for Americans to participate
in preventive disaster programmes.
"Encouraging individuals to take precautions
against disaster damage benefits all taxpayers by
reducing claims against federal, state and local emergency
management programmes," concluded Foley.
In the last 15 years, there have been more than 2,500
preventive disaster projects which resulted in saving
an estimated $2.9 billion in property losses. The
Joint Committee on Taxation estimates H.R. 1134 would
cost $105 million over 10 years.