Congressman Bill Owens today introduced legislation that would grant the U.S. State Department the authority to waive replacement fee for residents whose passports were lost, damaged or destroyed during a natural disaster. Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee left thousands of residents with damaged homes and property, causing many to lose their passports.
"As New Yorkers continue to rebuild in the wake of the spring flooding, followed by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, it is critical that we provide all the support available to New Yorkers to get their lives back in order," said Owens. "Many of my constituents frequently travel to Canada for business or pleasure, and they do not need to be hit with a $110 passport replacement fee during financially trying times."
The Passport Recovery Assistance Act was introduced as a result of meeting with residents from northern border communities who were struck by these natural disasters. In a letter last month, Owens addressed the State Department's inaction to waive the passport replacement fee for individuals residing in counties that received federal major disaster declarations. The State Department notified Owens that it has no legal authority to waive the replacement fee for lost passports under current law.