Updated: 12/12/2013 8:35 PM
Created: 12/12/2013 4:55 PM WHEC.com
It's been almost a year since the West Webster tragedy on Christmas Eve and still, close to a million dollars of your donations have not been given to the families of the firefighters who were killed and wounded.
It's all because of an IRS law that News10NBC has told you about before. On Thursday, Senator Chuck Schumer got Senate approval to change that law.
News10NBC is told this is a joint effort with Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. If the legislation is passed in the House of Representatives, it will then go to the president for final approval.
When this tragedy happened nearly a year ago, thousands of people donated money to help the families of those killed and injured. Close to a million dollars is supposed to go to the families of Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka who were killed. As well to families of Ted Scardino and Joseph Hofstetter who were wounded during the attack.
The problem has been the West Webster Fire Department is a non-profit and an IRS law pertaining to non-profits prevents the department from distributing money "directly" to the victims and families without putting its "tax exempt" status at risk.
Also under the current law, if families received money they would have to pay taxes on it. Schumer said the Senate has done its part and he's thrilled all one hundred senators supported the legislation.
He tells us, "I told them I know we have a lot of fighting going on here in Washington but to allow this legislation to pass and these four families to get close to a million dollars that generous donors sent in because they felt so about the tragedy is in keeping with the Christmas spirit."
As for the next steps, now Congresswoman Slaughter will introduce the bill. News10NBC spoke with a representative from her office today. He told us the House will try to get the bill through Thursday or Friday. Senator Schumer said he's confident it will pass before Christmas Eve.
UPDATE: News10NBC has learned from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's office that the bill to assist the families of the West Webster victims has been passed in the House.
"There are no words that can heal the wounds suffered by Ted Scardino and Joe Hofstetter, and nothing we can do to bring back Mike “Chip” Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka,” Rep. Slaughter said. “But by passing today’s legislation we can help lessen their burden, ease their pain, and prove that even in our darkest hours, our country will be there to support our public servants, their families, and communities in need.”
News10NBC is told the bill will now return to the Senate and then will be sent to the president for his approval.