First Responders Passport Act of 2015by Representative Brendan F. Boyle
Posted on 2015-12-16
BOYLE of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself
such time as I may consume.
I rise in support of this measure.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Chairman Royce, Ranking Member Engel, my colleague and friend from California (Mr. Issa), and my fellow Foreign Affairs Committee colleagues for their unanimous support in helping our first responders answer the call to service when a natural disaster strikes abroad.
Every year, Americans bravely go abroad to help victims of natural disasters in foreign lands, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2008 cyclone in Yemen, and 2015 Hurricane Patricia in Mexico, just to name a few.
Earlier this year, the world was shocked by the images of Nepal's 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed over 8,600 and injured over 16,800. The United States was one of the largest donors to the relief and rebuilding effort in the wake of this catastrophe through charitable donations, DOD donations, and search and rescue operations and efforts. The United States' search and rescue teams searched for survivors trapped in debris.
These first responders continuously put their lives on the line at home and abroad. Mr. Speaker, this is an example of American leadership. Their bravery and efforts do not go unnoticed. We should all do what we can to make their endeavors easier.
Unfortunately, American contractors and volunteers, despite being coordinated by USAID, are subject to passport fees at their own expense when attempting to travel abroad in response to these disasters. To alleviate this obstacle, H.R. 3750, the First Responders Passport Act, would allow the Secretary of State to grant their passports free of charge.
I am proud to have introduced this commonsense bill with the gentleman from California (Mr. Issa) because contractors and volunteers deserve the same treatment as government employees when they are being sent abroad to offer their service on behalf of our Nation.
Cultural diplomacy, like the services these brave men and women provide in the face of international disasters, is critical to our international image and international relations. I ask that my colleagues support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation.
I reserve the balance of my time.