April 08, 2022

Neguse, Curtis Introduce Bipartisan Bicameral Bill to Waive Fees for Document Replacement After Disasters

Costs for replacing critical documents, including passports, will be covered for victims of disasters like the Marshall Fire

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), co-chairs of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, introduced legislation to automatically make document replacement after disasters free of charge. The Replacing Essential Passports and Licenses After Certain Emergencies (REPLACE) Act will greatly benefit victims of future wildfires and climate induced natural disasters. The bill was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). 

“Over the past several months my staff have assisted many survivors of the Marshall Fire in recovering critical documents. From passports to birth certificates, the fees for replacing all that was lost can quickly become overwhelming” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The REPLACE Act will ease the burden of recovery by issuing fee waivers for people impacted, automatically allowing passports and immigration documents to be replaced at no additional cost. We must continue to be present for our healing communities, and this bill is a small way we can show our support on the federal level.”

“When a wildfire destroys a home, the last thing that a family should worry about is paying fees to replace their federal documents such as passports or citizenship forms that have been destroyed. Currently, States must request these waivers after a disaster, adding another hurdle for families, and delaying the replacement of lost forms needed for countless activities and approval processes. The REPLACE Act would automatically waive these fees for households and individuals already receiving Federal disaster assistance – giving those affected by home or business loss one less thing to worry about in their time of need.” said Congressman John Curtis.

Federal law currently allows for replacement fees for passports, visas, proof of citizenship and other documents to be waived, but the waiver process is neither automatic nor guaranteed, and must be requested by States. This means that survivors have to wait for confirmation that the costs of replacement are relinquished, and affected parties rarely know when or if the program is available. 

The REPLACE Act amends the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 to require that certain critical document fees be automatically waived for individuals and households that are affected by major disasters and where Individuals and Households Program (IHP) assistance has been granted for that disaster. 

This legislation seeks to cover the costs of:

  • Passports
  • Passport and/or Visa forms
  • Permanent Resident Card replacement forms
  • Declaration of Intention forms
  • Naturalization/Citizenship Document forms
  • Employment Authorization forms
  • Biometric service fees

 

Background: 

Since the Marshall Fire, Congressman Neguse has advocated to bring federal funding home to Boulder County and to ease the recovery process for constituents. He worked with Colorado Governor Jared Polis and President Joe Biden to ensure an expedited Major Disaster Declaration was issued and that Individual Assistance was included to provide direct financial assistance to all uninsured or underinsured households. He also secured FEMA funding for removing foundations, basements and burned vehicles damaged in the Marshall Fire. 

 

As Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, Congressman Neguse is leading several efforts in Congress to support wildfire suppression, mitigation, and resiliency. After the Marshall Fire, Neguse unveiled the Western Wildfire Support Act, comprehensive fire prevention legislation to fund state-of-the-art firefighting equipment and programs and support recovery efforts for communities impacted by fires. He is also leading,  Tim’s Act, first-of-its-kind comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to overhaul federal wildland firefighter pay and benefits. His proposal to make historic investments in forest restoration and launch a Climate Conservation Corps has captured the imagination of the American people, and $20 million in seed funding was recently enacted into law to set up infrastructure for the proposal. His Wildfire Recovery Act has passed out of Committee and is pending floor action in the House. Last week he spoke on the House floor about the need to pass these measures.

 

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