Congress Calls for Haiti Debt Cancellation (Updated)

February 4, 2010
by John Fawcett, Legislative Director

Responding to the urgent humanitarian crisis in Haiti, Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA), Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 92 other members of the House are sending a message that Haiti’s debt must be canceled.

Last week the IMF approved an emergency $100 million loan, adding to the $165 million already owed by Haiti to the Fund. Haiti owes an additional $447 million to the Inter-American Development Bank, and tens of millions to other institutions. As an influential member of these multilateral organizations, the U.S. will be critical in ensuring Haiti’s debt will be canceled.

Representatives Waters and Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (pdf) yesterday urging him to work to immediately suspend Haiti’s debt payments, cancel any existing or newly incurred debt, and provide further assistance in the form of grants rather than debt-creating loans. Thanks in part to the efforts of RESULTS activists, 94 members of Congress signed this letter.

Update: In response to this letter Secretary Geithner voiced his strong support for debt relief for Haiti:

The earthquake in Haiti was a catastrophic setback to the Haitian people who are now facing tremendous emergency humanitarian and reconstruction needs, and meeting Haiti’s financing needs will require a massive multilateral effort. . . . Today, we are voicing our support for what Haiti needs and deserves — comprehensive multilateral debt relief.

This announcement comes just before Geithner departs for a meeting of G7 finance ninisters this weekend in Canada. This strong public statement is essential to ensuring Haiti can begin its recovery free from debt

Read the full press release from Treasury.

Signers: Gary Ackerman, Tammy Baldwin, Earl Blumenauer, Sanford Bishop, Robert Brady, G.K. Butterfield, John Conyers, Bruce Braley, Corrine Brown, Lois Capps, Michael E. Capuano, Andre Carson, Kathy Castor, Donna Christensen, Steve Cohen, Judy Chu, Elijah E. Cummings, Yvette D. Clarke, Wm. Lacy Clay, Joe Crowley, Danny K. Davis, Peter DeFazio, Rosa L. DeLauro, Diana DeGette, William D. Delahunt, Donna F. Edwards, Keith Ellison, Eliot Engel, Eni Faleomavaega, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Bob Filner, Barney Frank, Marcia L. Fudge, Al Green, Raúl M. Grijalva, Luis V. Gutierrez, Phil Hare, Alcee L. Hastings, Rubén Hinojosa, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Michael Honda, Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, Dale Kildee, Mary Jo Kilroy, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Dennis Kucinich, Rick Larsen, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Carolyn Maloney, Jim McDermott, James P. McGovern, Kendrick B. Meek, Gregory Meeks, Michael H. Michaud, Brad Miller, James P. Moran, Gwendolynne Moore, Jerrold Nadler, James Oberstar, John W. Olver, Ed Pastor, Donald M. Payne, Chellie Pingree, David Price, Mike Quigley, Charles Rangel, Laura Richardson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Bobby L. Rush, Jan Schakowsky, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, José E. Serrano, Carol Shea-Porter, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Vic Snyder, Fortney “Pete” Stark, Paul Tonko, Edolphus Towns, Chris Van Hollen, Nydia Velázquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Melvin L. Watt, Lynn Woolsey.

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