CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 4573 on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 4573 was introduced on February 2, 2010, by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and referred to the House Financial Services Committee, which took no official action. On March 10, 2010, the bill was considered in the House under a suspension of the rules and passed by voice vote. On March 26, 2010, the bill was passed by the Senate with an amendment by unanimous consent.
H.R. 4573 would amend the International Financial Institutions Act to direct the Treasury Secretary to instruct the U.S. Executive Directors at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other multilateral development institutions to use their influence at each institution to:
• Cancel all debts owed by Haiti to such institutions;
• Suspend Haiti's debt payments to such institutions until the debts are canceled completely; and
• Provide additional assistance from such institutions to Haiti in grant form in order to avoid additional debt accumulation before February 1, 2015.
In addition, the bill would prompt the Secretary of Treasury to instruct the IMF to use some profits from the ongoing sale of gold to provide debt stock relief, debt service relief, and grants for Haiti before February 1, 2015. The bill also directs the Secretary to urge other bilateral, multilateral, and private creditors to cancel all debts owed by Haiti to such creditors.
On January 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck the impoverished island nation of Haiti. There is major damage to Port-au-Prince, the capital, including several government buildings. Over three million people are estimated to be affected by the earthquake and 230,000 are estimated to have been killed, according to USAID. In addition, USAID reports that to date, $1 billion in humanitarian aid has been provided by the U.S. government through USAID and other organization. According to the International Monetary Fund, Haiti's total external debt was $1.2 billion in 2009. The House passed H.R. 4573 by voice vote in early March and the Senate amended the bill to urge that grants to Haiti be made prior to February, 2015.
A CBO cost estimate of the underlying legislation was not available as of press time.