CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 16, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 3750, the First Responders Passport Act of 2015, as amended, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 3750 was introduced on October 9, 2015 by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by unanimous consent, on November 5, 2015.
H.R. 3750 allows the Secretary of State to waive passport fees for individuals working under U.S. government contracts to respond to natural disasters abroad. The bill also requires the Department of State to provide a one-time report to Congress no later than 90 days after the end of the first full fiscal year following the bill’s enactment on the number of passport fee waivers granted.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) regularly activates civilian rescue teams to respond to natural disasters around the world. Rescue workers participating in these teams are subject to fees to obtain and to keep their passports current. USAID contracts in part with search and rescue teams in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Los Angeles County, California, to assist with its response to such international disasters. The two teams are comprised of about 450 members. H.R. 3750 waives passport application and renewal fees for members of these teams to ensure their constant readiness.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “Our nation’s first responders are often called upon to help foreign communities devastated by natural disasters. From emergency medical technicians to firefighters, our American response teams regularly give more than their time and expertise by personally paying the costs associated with traveling abroad. In order to reduce this burden, the First Responders Passport Act waives U.S. passport fees, including those for renewal, to ensure first responders coordinated by the U.S. Government are always at the ready to help people in need.”
 See Press Release—“Foreign Affairs Committee Passes First Responders Passport Act of 2015,” November 6, 2015.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 3750 would cost less than $500,000 for the reporting requirement over the 2016 to 2020 period; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply to this legislation because enacting the bill would affect direct spending and revenues; however, CBO estimates those effects would not be significant because few people would be affected.
For questions or further information please contact Jerry White with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.