As part of his continued full-court press on behalf of Americans trying to get out of Israel, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester) this week introduced bipartisan legislation (HR 5965) to reimburse US citizens for their flights out of the country as they seek to return home amid an unfolding war started by the butchering of innocent civilians, rape, hostage taking, and the beheading of babies by Hamas.
Cosponsored by Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Smith’s bill would waive current mandates requiring US citizens to sign a promissory note agreeing to repay the US Government for its departure assistance before boarding US-chartered commercial flights out of Israel.
“The United States, which has rightfully provided humanitarian evacuations for hundreds of thousands in war zones, free of charge, over the years, should not be making US citizens—who are desperately trying to flee Hamas’ unbridled terror and deadly antisemitism—take out a loan in order to reach safety,” said Smith, who noted that more than 600 constituents from his congressional district have contacted his office requesting help with evacuating Israel.
“We need to have the backs of our fellow Americans who are in harm’s way and get them home,” Smith said.
Instead of evacuating US citizens, the Biden Administration has offered “transportation assistance” which is basically a notice about chartered commercial flights to Greece, Cyprus, and Germany. These flights are limited, and the State Department requires US citizens to sign a promissory note to the government committing to pay even though the costs will not be determined until a later date.
Compounding the issue, Americans who sign the State Department promissory note still have to find their own way home from the transit port—and pay for those flights and sometimes lodging as well. Most, if not all, had already paid for flights home that were cancelled because of the attacks.
“The federal government should initiate a direct military evacuation and get these people back to safety in the United States,” said Smith.
Smith’s legislation would also require an independent investigation by the Government Accountability Office into any commercial airfare price manipulation and instances of price gouging by airlines on the heels of the brutal terrorist attacks by Hamas.