Rep. Frederica Wilson PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA
MIAMI, Fla. – A federal bill designed to waive the existing U.S. State Department’s repayment requirement for Americans who evacuated from Israel during its month-long conflict with Hamas has been ﬁled by two members of Congress from Miami.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat, and Republican Congressman Carlos Gimenez jointly ﬁled the Justiﬁable Use of Money Peace (JUMP) Act, which would not require Americans who were victims of the Israel-Hamas conflict and those wishing to evacuate and return to the United States to reimburse the federal government for travel and other expenses.
Americans tried to leave Israel but were left stranded when major airlines suspended flights in and out of Israel during the war.
The U.S. State Department chartered flights to evacuate Americans who were required to repay the government and has signed promissory notes agreeing to reimburse all expenses.
Wilson said the federal government should give Americans who are suffering emotionally from the conflict a pass.
"At times of crisis, the last thing we should burden our fellow Americans frantically trying to evacuate Israel with is bureaucratic red tape and ﬁnancial strain as they flee the horrors inflicted by Hamas terrorists,” said Wilson.
Wilson said the JUMP Act is a beacon of compassion, recognizing the unimaginable pain and trauma victims faced during the war.
According to reports, more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7 and the death toll in Israel stands about 1,200.
The two sides extended a cease ﬁre in which more hostages were released last week.
Wilson said the bill would lift the ﬁnancial burden for Americans who already have suffered enough after being caught in the crossﬁre by actions of Hamas terrorists.
"By waiving the U.S. State Department’s repayment requirement, we’re offering solace to those grieving, allowing them to begin the healing process without the added weight of repayments," Wilson said. "This bill is a call for empathy, and I urge my colleagues to stand with us in prioritizing the well-being of Americans escaping Hamas terror.”
Carlos Gimenez Gimenez, former Miami-Dade County mayor, said the JUMP Act reflects a bipartisan effort to streamline the repatriation process and demonstrates a commitment to standing with Americans in times of crisis.
He said one of the key provisions of the JUMP Act is the elimination of the U.S. State Department’s repayment requirement, recognizing the exceptional circumstances that necessitate swift and uncomplicated repatriation.
“On October 7, Hamas terrorists invaded Israel’s sovereign borders, indiscriminately killing, kidnapping, and torturing thousands of civilians while leaving countless others in desperate need of evacuation back to the United States,” said Gimenez. “As the law is written, US citizens and permanent residents that take U.S. government transport are required to repay the cost of their transportation.
"A victim of Hamas terrorism in the midst of an evacuation should not be burdened by cumbersome paperwork or be forced to repay their transportation. I am proud to work with my fellow South Florida colleague Rep. Frederica
Wilson to introduce a bill that waives this onerous requirement and allows victims to mourn without a costly repayment looming.”
Last month the U.S. State Department said it was preparing plans to evacuate about 600,000 Americans from Israel in the event of a full-scale war in the region.
Chartered flights and cruise ships were to be used for the major exodus of American citizens from the area.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said state-ﬁnanced flights from Israel brought home 300 Americans who were stranded due to flight cancellations.
The state’s move supplements federal government efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens from Israel due to the limited availability of commercial flights leaving the country and a mounting death toll.
Citizens are not required to repay Florida for travel expenses. In 2021 the State Department charged U.S. citizens $2,000 to evacuate from Afghanistan.