Curtis Leads Letter to Secretary Bernhardt Urging COVID-19 Relief for Rural Utah

Curtis Leads Letter to Secretary Bernhardt Urging COVID-19 Relief for Rural Utah

April 3,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT) led a letter to the US Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt asking that he temporarily suspend, defer, or reduce royalty rates to help essential industries survive the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Royalty payments are paid by certain industries for the development of America’s energy and natural resources on the Outer Continental Shelf and onshore Federal lands. The letter also makes explicit that relief should only come from the portion paid to the federal government, ensuring this action would not impact state revenues.

The Congressman is joined by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rob Bishop (R-UT), and 27 other members of Congress.

“There are widespread efforts to ensure our economy continues to function amidst this crisis through industry appropriate financial resources and regulatory pathways. We hope the Department of the Interior will strongly consider similar efforts to ensure industries that operate within the federal estate have the appropriate resources and certainty needed to survive the pandemic and continue to provide the American people with the resources they utilize in their daily lives. With this in mind, we encourage you to suspend, defer, or reduce, the federal royalty payments for oil, gas, coal, soda ash, and other minerals to the U.S. Treasury during these uncertain economic times, caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable David Bernhardt
Secretary 
Department of the Interior
1849 C St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20240 

Dear Secretary Bernhardt, 

Thank you for your leadership during this difficult time. As we all consider efforts to maintain the economic drivers of our economy, we ask your support in providing relief within your existing authority, to essential industries impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, until our nation’s economy gets back on track.

There are widespread efforts to ensure our economy continues to function amidst this crisis through industry appropriate financial resources and regulatory pathways. We hope the Department of the Interior will strongly consider similar efforts to ensure industries that operate within the federal estate have the appropriate resources and certainty needed to survive the pandemic and continue to provide the American people with the resources they utilize in their daily lives. With this in mind, we encourage you to suspend, defer, or reduce, the federal royalty payments for oil, gas, coal, soda ash, and other minerals to the U.S. Treasury during these uncertain economic times, caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Ideally, any reduction would allow producers working on the federal estate to forgo the federal portion of required royalty payments while preserving the portion that is returned to the states so as not to negatively impact state revenues.

As Secretary, notwithstanding section 102(a)(9) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701(a)(9)), section 39 of the Mineral Leasing Act (30 U.S.C. 209) specifically allows you to “waive, suspend or reduce” royalty payments. While economic conditions will improve over time, providing this necessary action now will ensure America continues its international energy dominance. Additionally, this could help save essential industry jobs, many of which are located in heavily impacted rural communities. 

These essential industries are seeking to continue production rather than a bailout and should be given due recognition as such. There is no playbook for the situation we find ourselves in and we must utilize every existing authority to enable them to withstand the economic impacts of this pandemic, which is no fault of their own. 

Given these considerations, we urge you to provide necessary relief during this national emergency in the form of a suspension, or reduction, in federal royalties paid to the U.S. Treasury. Such action will allow a stronger fossil fuel industry to emerge, maintaining America’s energy dominance and national security. 

 

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
Phone: (385) 325-0655   Email: info@johncurtis.org   
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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Curtis Speaks on House Floor on CARES Act: “Help Is on the Way”

Curtis Speaks on House Floor on CARES Act: “Help Is on the Way”

March 30,  2020

Washington, DC — Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives, voicing support for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will enable a targeted stream of resources designed to keep money in the economy and people healthy. The Congressman also expressed concerns about the package costing half of the yearly federal budget and invited his colleagues to join him in taking action to reduce the growing deficit.

“The CARES Act is the largest economic disaster recovery package in our nation’s history. Given the size and scope of the pandemic, it’s a hefty price tag that must be paid, but I challenge my colleagues to join me in dealing with the consequences of spending money we don’t have. It’s time to get our financial house in order before it becomes our next crisis.”

On Monday, Rep. Curtis advocated for small businesses seeking loans (see HERE for more info) and on Wednesday, introduced a bill to sanction foreign officials who withhold or distort public health information (more information available HERE).

To learn more about what the Congressman is doing in regards to COVID-19, visit curtis.house.gov/coronavirus.

The Congressman’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of H.R.748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The CARES Act is the largest economic disaster recovery package in our nation’s history, accounting for almost half of our yearly federal budget and about ten percent of U.S. economic output. Given the size and scope of the pandemic, it’s a hefty price tag that we can’t afford to not pay, but I challenge my colleagues to join me in getting our financial house in order so we are better prepared to tackle future disasters such as this one.

The once-in-a-lifetime set of circumstances that led to this moment require immediate action and outweigh any of this bill’s shortcomings. We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good when immediate action is needed, nor can we allow partisanship to stand in the way.

I have heard stories of the devastating effects of COVID-19 throughout the past week during countless conversations with business owners, many who are near the brink of permanently closing their doors, and individuals impacted by the virus personally, including a dear friend, a fellow Utahn and member of this chamber, who recently became hospitalized with this virus.

One of the most unique parts of Utah culture is the pride we take in serving one another, especially when we need each other the most.

This spirit, coupled with a targeted stream of resources designed to keep money in the economy and people healthy, will be the key ingredients to ensuring communities across the state can fully heal from this unprecedented crisis.

I am voting for this bill today to play my part in beginning the healing process and reassuring my family, friends, and neighbors that help is on the way.

The sudden economic hardships that the hard-working families and business owners throughout my district are facing is by no fault of their own, which is why, in addition to this vote, I have taken numerous steps this past week to ensure that Utahns have every opportunity to weather this storm.

I will remain committed to making sure these precious resources reach the communities and the people in my district who need them the most.

We will get through this. Together.

Thank you, I yield back.”

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
Phone: (385) 325-0655   Email: info@johncurtis.org   
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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Curtis Introduces Bill to Increase Public Health Crisis Global Awareness

Curtis Introduces Bill to Increase Public Health Crisis Global Awareness

March 26,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to hold accountable foreign officials who attempted to conceal public health information related to COVID-19 during its early discovery and give authority to sanction any foreign official who may conceal a future outbreak. Congressman Curtis is joined on this bill by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Ranking Member of the Asia Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The bill I am introducing, the Li Wenliang Public Health Accountability Act, named after a heroic Chinese whistleblower, enables the United States to set a global standard,” said Curtis. “It would sanction any foreign official who conceals information about public health as it relates to a pandemic—particularly COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. My bill will help incentivize foreign leaders to be proactive with their decisions, preventing the spread of a virus that could endanger American lives.”

Background:

There is strong and growing evidence that Chinese officials accelerated the spread of COVID-19 by choosing to not take early action to stop the virus, even after Chinese Doctor Li Wenliang blew the whistle on the virus’ capabilities. He was reprimanded by local authorities and later died from the virus. Other authoritarian countries such as Iran and Russia have been criticized for their lack of transparency as well.  

The Li Wenliang Public Health Accountability Act would sanction any foreign senior official responsible for deliberately concealing vital public health data concerning the outbreak of a disease with the potential to become a pandemic. It would also sanction any official who profited off of the concealment of information, and anyone acting on their behalf. Sanctions include the revoking of visas and the seizing of assets.

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
Phone: (385) 325-0655   Email: info@johncurtis.org   
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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Rep. Curtis Takes Action for Small Businesses Bogged Down By Banking Regulations

Rep. Curtis Takes Action for Small Businesses Bogged Down By Banking Regulations

March 25,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT) advocated for small businesses after hearing from many small businesses in Utah that heavy-handed federal regulations are forbidding banks from being flexible with small business loans, even if the small business is struggling due to COVID-19.

The Congressman will be introducing the Small-Business-Community Banker COVID-19 Relief Act, legislation to suspend these two regulations for any depository institution and small business substantially affected by COVID–19. He also sent a letter to the Acting Director of the Financial Accounting Standards Board about these concerns.

“In many cases, small and medium-sized business owners have been working with community bankers for years and have developed a mutual trust. Bankers in our state want to assist the small and medium-sized businesses in our community who are struggling to make payments on their loans due to the impact of COVID-19 but federal regulations are preventing them from being flexible with small business loan repayment,” said Curtis. “My bill, the “Small Business-Community Banker COVID-19 Relief Act” would allow small and medium-sized businesses and community banks and credit unions to work together without heavy-handed federal government intervention. In addition to the bill, I have sent a letter to the Financial Accounting Standards Board Acting Director raising the issue.”

Background

The bill and letter address two regulations that have been brought to Rep. Curtis’ attention by business owners in Utah. In response to banks’ challenges during and after the 2008 financial crisis, in June 2016, FASB promulgated a new credit loss standard— Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL). It requires banks to shore up additional capital to counter non-performing loans. Because of COVID-19, some small business loans are going to be non-performing but community banks will not have the capital to counter non-performing loans.

Banks also have to disclose poorly performing loans in a new category under troubled debt restructuring (TDR). Because of COVID-19, some small business loans are going to be non-performing, but that does not necessarily make them impaired. Suspending this regulation would allow banks to have more flexibility to work with their borrowers and provide loan modifications without getting dinged by their regulators.

Full text of the bill is available [HERE].  

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Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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House Passes Rep. Curtis’ Bipartisan TAIPEI Act

House Passes Rep. Curtis’ Bipartisan TAIPEI Act

March 6,  2020

Legislation Will Require US Strategy and Response to Help Taiwan’s Global Standing

Washington, DC The United States House of Representatives unanimously passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, authored by Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, and cosponsored by 47 colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

This bipartisan legislation is intended to strengthen Taiwan’s standing around the world and comes in response to increased Chinese pressure and bullying tactics intended to restrict Taiwan’s international space and global diplomatic recognition. The Senate cosponsors of the bill are US Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

“I’m proud to see today’s unanimous passage of my bill, the TAIPEI Act, which strengthens Taiwan’s position in the world by promoting free trade negotiations, supporting Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, and protecting its relations with its allies,” said Curtis. “This bill makes for a powerful statement and demonstrates that the United States stands with its democratic and free-market partners throughout the world.”

“The United States and democracies around the world should be concerned by China’s efforts to suppress Taiwan,” said co-lead Congressman Vicente Gonzalez. “I am proud to support passage of the TAIPEI Act and stand in solidarity with Taiwan, a free and thriving democracy.”

“The United States should use every tool to support Taiwan’s standing on the international stage,” said Senator Gardner. “This bipartisan legislation demands a whole-of-government approach to ramp up our support for Taiwan, and will send a strong message to nations that there will be consequences for supporting Chinese actions that undermine Taiwan. I applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for unanimously  advancing this critical bipartisan legislation, and I will continue to advocate on behalf of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people, as guided by United States law.”

“The House passage of this important legislation will help to strengthen Taiwan’s democracy, its free market economy, and its standing on the world stage,” said Senator Coons. “I look forward to seeing this bill passed into law.”

Background

Introduced in October 2019 and endorsed by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, The TAIPEI Act recommends a US strategy to engage with governments around the world to support Taiwan’s diplomatic recognition or to strengthen unofficial ties with Taiwan, calls on the State Department to exercise a range of diplomatic and assistance options with regard to any government that takes adverse actions with regard to Taiwan, and articulates a clear U.S. policy to support Taiwan’s participation in appropriate international organizations. The bill also calls on the Administration to enhance economic cooperation with Taiwan.

The Senate previously passed the TAIPEI Act in October 2019. Because the House of Representatives slightly altered the bill, the Senate will need to pass it again before it is sent to the President’s desk to become law.

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
Phone: (385) 325-0655   Email: info@johncurtis.org   
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296   Provo, UT  84603-0296

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