D.C.'s role in the Texas recovery
by Ted Cruz on December 26, 2017 at 2:58 PM
As the New Year approaches, we should reflect on the incredible strength and resilience Texans have demonstrated in the face of disaster. There is no denying that Texas’ Gulf Coast communities suffered tremendous losses from Hurricane Harvey.
But the hurricane also brought out the best in Texas, as we saw Texans standing together and lifting each other up, first through rescue and response, and now in rebuilding our homes and cities.
The nation has witnessed our iconic moments — from the thousands of Texans who went out on boats to save their neighbors, to people of all ages lining up to volunteer at disaster recovery centers, embodying that ‘can do’ Texas spirit. All of this is proof that Texas is coming back stronger than ever.
Texas has also demonstrated resilience beyond the Lone Star State. It is no secret that agreement in Washington between Democrats and Republicans is hard to come by these days. Yet in the wake of Harvey, we have seen bipartisan cooperation in Congress, with Republicans and Democrats uniting to provide the storm relief that Texas needs.
I am proud of the work that Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Gov. Greg Abbott, and I have accomplished together in securing more than $50 billion of emergency funds for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The Texas delegation has stood united, and our victory in D.C. ensured that Texans received immediate aid to begin the rebuilding process.
As legislative priorities changed from day to day in Congress, I remained focused on finding additional, practical solutions for storm victims. Along with Sens. Cornyn and Marco Rubio of Florida, I introduced the Cruz-Cornyn-Rubio Hurricane Tax Relief Bill, which President Trump signed into law, to provide immediate tax relief to victims in federally declared hurricane disaster areas.
This bill is a victory for all Texans. It provides targeted tax relief to provide immediate assistance to the millions of Texans impacted by Harvey, who will see a significant portion of the more than $5.5 billion in tax benefits.
Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed during Harvey, causing unexpected financial burdens for many hardworking Texans. To help in rebuilding, this legislation gives individuals in federally declared disaster areas the ability to withdraw from their retirement accounts to cover costs of damages resulting from the hurricanes, without having to pay the 10 percent penalty that is normally imposed for withdrawing from those accounts before retirement.
This bill also relaxes the tax rules regarding individual casualty losses, making it easier for Harvey victims to claim a full deduction for these losses and leaving them more money in their pockets to rebuild.
Many businesses also made sacrifices to help their impacted employees during the devastation of Harvey, continuing to pay them during the hurricane and after, even when those employees were unable to get to work or when the businesses themselves were shut down because of the storm. This legislation allows those businesses to claim a tax credit, giving countless small businesses the support they need to recover from the storm and come back strong.
And for families whose incomes may have been impacted by Harvey, my bill allows taxpayers to calculate the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit based on their earned income from the previous year, if they choose, which will provide significant help to family budgets.
Lastly, the Cruz-Cornyn-Rubio tax relief bill also has allowed people across the country this year to make charitable contributions toward relief efforts in federally declared disaster areas without any limit to how much they can then claim as a tax deduction. This has encouraged charitable giving across the country, with potentially millions of dollars flowing to charitable causes to help Texans rebuild their lives.
By working together, in a bipartisan fashion, we were able to pass major tax relief for those impacted by Harvey. And billions of dollars flowed directly to Texas.
As Congress continues working to keep its promises to reduce taxes and encourage more job creation and greater economic growth and opportunity, I remain determined to keep fighting for the resources Texas needs to rebuild. There is still lots of work to be done, but I am confident that we will continue making progress on our path to recovery. After all, we are "Texas Strong."
And to my fellow Texans, I want to say thank you for the remarkable work you have done to help rebuild our Texas Gulf Coast communities, from Corpus Christi all the way to the Louisiana border. I assure you that I share the same commitment and passion in continuing to do everything that I can to mobilize and expedite federal resources to ensure no Texan is left behind.