Benefits for US hostages backed in House panel

The House Post Office and Civil Service Committee unanimously approved a bill Wednesday to exempt the 52 American hostages in Iran from income taxes during their captivity and to extend other government benefits to them and their families. The bill also would cover released hostage Richard Queen, the six Americans who hid in the Canadian Embassy in Iran, former Ambassador Diego Asencio, who was held captive in Colombia, and two Peace Corps volunteers who were abducted in South America.

Among the provisions, the bill would reimburse hostages and their families for travel, rest, recuperation, and medical expenses not covered by insurance and provide training and education funds for spouses and children of the hostages who want to enter the job market up to 45 months after the hostages' release.

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