House extends tax-free typhoon aid to Philippines

The House passed legislation on Monday to let people donate to typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines for another few weeks, and deduct those donations from their 2013 taxes.

Members passed the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act, H.R. 3771, in a voice vote after a debate in which members of both parties said millions more in aid needs to be send to the Philippines, which is still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan.

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Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) said the typhoon killed 6,200 people and displaced more than four million, and said aid from the U.S. is desperately needed.

"It allows people up to April 15th to go ahead and make a contribution to try and stem the effects of those losses," he said of the bill.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said the United Nations estimates that it will need $788 million for relief efforts through this November, but said it has collected less than half that amount.

"Sadly, only $369 million has been contributed to date," he said.

Also today, the House passed H.R. 4275, the Cooperative and Small Employer Charity Pension Flexibility Act. That bill extends an exemption that charities, schools, cooperatives and other organizations receive from pension funding rules.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), said that these groups would face enormous pension funding obligations unless Congress extends this exemption.

"Some charities, schools and cooperatives are actually shutting down summer camps, cutting back on services to the community, or raising prices just to meet their pension obligations," she said.

House passage sends both bills to the Senate for further consideration.

Throughout the day, the House also approved several non-controversial bills naming post offices around the country for fallen U.S. soldiers or others. Those bills were H.R. 3060, H.R. 1451, H.R. 1376, H.R. 1813, H.R. 1036 and H.R. 2391.