At the end of last week, a bipartisan congressional effort of Florida lawmakers introduced legislation that would strengthen the recovery efforts of the United States government when it comes to responding to American hostages abroad.
Republican reps. Michael Waltz and Joe Wilson joined Democrats Ted Deutch and Ted Lieu in introducing the legislation that would empower the President to impose sanctions on American-hostage takers, elevate the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs to the rank of Ambassador, and mandate an inter-agency Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell and a Hostage Response Group.
Before a hearing titled “The Status of American Hostages in Iran,” Reps. Waltz and Deutch held a press conference to speak on the legislation and on the hearing that the Hosue Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism would be holding after.
In commenting on the need for the legislation, rep. Waltz explained that the legislation calls “on our colleagues here in Congress, the Administration, and the American people to join us in putting these rogue regimes and terrorist hostage takers on notice.” He further described that “until now, there’s not been a significant downside or cost to taking an American hostage. This bipartisan legislation would raise the costs and increase the pressure on those who dare take American citizens hostage.”
Deutch added that “Americans, like my constituent Bob Levinson, are being held as hostages in countries around the world.”
Levinson disappeared in early 2007, and he is being held hostage in Iran.
Deutch then informed that “Bringing Americans home must be a priority, and countries that engage in hostage taking must know that the United States will continue to bring pressure on those who engage in this despicable practice.” So, “this bill named in Bob’s honor to elevate our efforts to return American hostages” will provide “the Adminsitration more tools to pressure countries to return Americans to their families.”