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Congress leaving town without addressing needs of flood victims

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

More federal aid could be on the way for Midwest flood victims, but not until September at the earliest.

The Senate Appropriations Committee delayed action Thursday on a package that included an undetermined amount of supplemental flood aid, and $4 billion- in tax breaks.

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Lawmakers from five states introduced the measure on Wednesday - but Chairman U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., said his committee was too busy trying to act on housing, defense, energy and tax policies before the August congressional recess.

The new package is similar to what victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma got in 2005, and what tornado victims received in Greensburg, Kan., last year.

Flood victims could take money out of retirement plans without tax penalties. Businesses would get tax breaks on their losses and would be encouraged to give more to charities.

The new aid is on top of another $2.6 billion Congress and the White House granted a few weeks ago.

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, D-Iowa, said his colleagues don't seem to understand how devastated his state was.

In the House, U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, said he would demand that Congress not leave until the new aid is passed.

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