POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Lawmakers Help Push Haitian Relief Efforts

Many politicians were quick to release statements offering their condolences or encouraging aid donations in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti earlier this week. Some went even further -- from introducing bills to donating their own money -- to aid victims of the disaster.

Immediately following the earthquake, a group of Republican legislators from Florida sent a letter to Barack Obama urging him to give temporary protected status to Haitians currently in the United States illegally. In the following days, many more on Capitol Hill joined in this plea. In the past, the White House has granted this status to nationals from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan, but has repeatedly denied requests to extend this protection to Haitians. The White House has already halted the deportation of about 30,000 Haitians.

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Friday announced plans to introduce a bill allowing relief effort donations to be written off on 2009 taxes, instead of 2010. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he planned to file the legislation Frida, or early next week at the latest.

Senators Gillibrand and Schumer of New York have introduced legislation to temporarily remove limits on tax deduction write offs for donations going to support Haiti. Congress passed similar legislation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), a leading Senate candidate and representative of the most highly concentrated Haitian district in the nation, which includes both Miami and Little Haiti, has chosen to put electoral politics aside and dedicate his time to coordinating relief efforts and tending to the now vast concerns of his constituents. Meek called an emergency town hall meeting on Thursday to field questions and help organize volunteer efforts.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) issued a personal call to action on Hatian relief, asking in an email for people to donate to Partners in Health and their partner organization Zanmi Lasante.

At a press conference in Brooklyn's Borough Hall earlier this week, Democrat John Sampson, Majority Leader of the New York Senate, pledged to donate ten thousand dollars from his own salary to aid the Haitian relief effort.

Know a politician coordinating local aid efforts? Let us know in the comments section below.