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Florida Congressmen Offer Bill to Ensure Americans Escaping Israel Don’t Pay Evacuation Costs

This week, U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., introduced a bill “that would direct the State Department to authorize the waiving of costs of activities relating to the evacuation of United States citizens when fleeing war or acts of terrorism” with two other members of the Florida delegation as co-sponsors.

“Thousands of Americans are in Israel, including constituents from my district, who need help evacuating. Americans can contact the federal government for help; however, upon safe arrival in America, they’re met with a bill for safe transport,” said Dunn. “My bill seeks to waive this debt for these individuals and any American who needs evacuation from a warzone. No American should have to hesitate to ask for help, especially due to financial constraints, when they are escaping terrorist attacks.”

Dunn’s office offered some of the reasons behind the proposal.

“Under the State Department Basic Authorities Act, 22 U.S.C. 2671, participants are required to repay travel costs through a Repatriation Loan Program. This can result in high interest and penalties if the loan is not repaid in time. Participants must sign a promissory note before they are allowed to board the flight or cruise ship and, if they refuse, they won’t be allowed to board,” Dunn’s office noted.

U.S. Reps. Cory Mills, R-Fla., and Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., are co-sponsoring Dunn’s bill.

“It is unfathomable that under current statute, American citizens are burdened to pay out of their own pocket when attempting to evacuate violent conflict zones overseas,” said Mills. “The bottom line is the United States government has a responsibility to protect its citizens both at home and abroad. As the only member of Congress to have run evacuation missions to get American citizens out of both Afghanistan and Israel, I know firsthand the Biden administration’s disregard for Americans overseas. While this administration is quick to use taxpayer dollars to provide free housing to illegal immigrants entering the U.S. or foreign wars, they have no problem putting further financial burdens on Americans who have extremely limited options to escape war zones. I’m proud to join Rep. Dunn in this effort to ensure the American people are not forced to choose between personal safety and their finances.”

“The current rules at the State Department requiring people pay for their evacuation make absolutely no sense. Imagine fleeing a country after a horrific terrorist attack and once you land, you’re footed with the bill? In the midst of war, people are forced to make quick decisions to ensure their safety and the safety of their family. Personal finances should never play a role in someone’s ability to escape a warzone,” said Moskowitz.

Dunn’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mills recently teamed up with Never Forgotten and Mercury One, which was founded by Glenn Beck, to help fly almost 160 Americans out of Israel.

“As an elected official and an Army combat veteran, I couldn’t stand idly by as American citizens struggled to leave Israel without any timely evacuation plans from the Biden administration. Once again, I found myself taking on the work that President Biden should have been handling. My team and I successfully evacuated over 100 Americans by ground in the aftermath of the initial attacks in Israel,77 of which I personally conducted ground evacuations myself. Upon returning to Washington, D.C., I realized my mission wasn’t complete. Despite my elected duties in the speaker’s vote, I’ve been working diligently with our team to continue assisting stranded/abandoned Americans. I’m deeply honored to have facilitated a flight with Mercury One and collaborated with my friends from Never Forgotten to safely bring back another 159 American citizens, including constituents from Florida’s Seventh District, to American soil. This administration has displayed a deeply concerning pattern of disregarding the safety of its own citizens, but with the support of Mercury One, I stepped up to ensure their secure passage and safe return home. Serving in this capacity is a great honor,” said Mills.

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  • Kevin Derby

    Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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