Curtis Champions High-Skilled Immigration Bill

Curtis Champions High-Skilled Immigration Bill

July 15, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT) spoke on the House floor to advocate for HR 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, legislation that he co-authored to eliminate the per-country caps for employment-based visas and shift to a first come, first served process. After he spoke, the legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support 365-65.

“Current limitations in our immigration system are forcing talented engineers who have trained in our universities to remain on temporary visas or leave entirely for competing countries while important jobs go unfilled and economic opportunities are lost. This legislation will create a first-come, first-serve system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs—regardless of where they were born.”

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

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in strong support of the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act. In recent years, Utah has witnessed incredible growth in tech and innovation, bringing thousands of jobs and strengthening our economy. However, one problem I consistently hear from our tech leaders is the need for more high-skilled workers.

Even as we work to strengthen STEM education and bolster the number of home-grown engineers and programmers, the demand continues to outstrip the supply here at home. Current limitations in our immigration system are forcing talented engineers who have trained in our universities to remain on temporary visas or leave entirely for competing countries while important jobs go unfilled and economic opportunities are lost.

This legislation will create a first-come, first-serve system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs—regardless of where they were born.

As these companies expand operations with greater output from high-skilled workers, they create countless more American jobs.

Mr. Speaker, with the debate around our broken immigration system growing increasingly challenging in recent years, I’ve been thrilled to see the bipartisan groundswell of support around this effort. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.”

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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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Reps. Curtis, Fudge Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Community College Graduation Rates

Reps. Curtis, Fudge Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Community College Graduation Rates

June 21, 2019

Washington, DC—Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), introduced the Time to Completion Act of 2019, legislation that will provide information that is essential for students and families to better evaluate the performance of colleges and universities. Specifically, the bill extends the graduation rate benchmark requirements under the Higher Education Act (HEA) to better reflect community college success.

“While representing the youngest congressional district, I am constantly seeking ways to improve educational opportunities for students,” said Curtis. “I am proud to partner with my colleague, Congresswoman Fudge, to introduce bipartisan legislation that will increase transparency and enable students to make more informed decisions for themselves and their families regarding higher education.”

“It is critical that we understand that many students take the non-traditional path to obtain their degrees,” said Fudge. “Students working while attending classes, part-time students, and students with children face unique challenges that can contribute to longer times for program completion. I am proud to introduce legislation that will properly count every student earning a degree and allow potential enrollees to make more informed decisions when choosing an institution of higher learning.” 

Statements of Support

The Time to Completion Act has been endorsed by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and other organizations.

Deneece G. Huftalin, President, Salt Lake Community College.

“Salt Lake Community College and community colleges across the nation play a critical role in providing opportunities for students to succeed in their educational pursuits. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of community college students who earn certificates or degrees are classified as “drop-outs” because they don’t complete their studies in the timeframe currently prescribed by the federal government, a timeframe that doesn’t take into consideration that the majority of community college students attend part-time and as a result take longer to graduate. We join community colleges in applauding and thanking Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and Congressman John Curtis for their leadership on this important issue. The Time to Completion Act will ensure that the millions of community college students who graduate with certificates or degrees are appropriately recognized by the federal government as college completers.”

Background

The bill extends the graduation rate benchmark to six years or 300% of the “normal time” it takes to complete a higher education program. Increasing the graduation rate benchmark will provide information that is essential for students, families, and policymakers to better evaluate the performance of colleges and universities by:

  • Improving federal graduation rate measurements to better reflect community college success;
  • Enabling prospective students to better assess their likelihood of finishing community college programs;
  • Retaining key existing measurements and allowing relevant comparisons to be made about changes in institutional performance; and
  • Creating a more comprehensive and detailed account of institutional performance than required by the system currently in place. It also rationalizes and streamlines relevant Higher Education Act (HEA) provisions and regulatory practices.

The legislation allows the current, 150%, graduation rate benchmark to be retained, and for a larger window to be employed to capture more community college successes.

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

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Rep. Curtis: “Equality Is Not a Zero-Sum Game”

Rep. Curtis: “Equality Is Not a Zero-Sum Game”

May 20, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), spoke on the House floor to reiterate his support for the LGBTQ community and express his concerns with the lack of balance in the “Equality Act” between the absolute rights of both LGBTQ individuals as human beings and religious institutions protected by the first amendment.

The Congressman also explains his frustration that no consideration of amendments was allowed. Rep. Curtis considers himself a “willing partner” has introduced commonsense amendments that would help achieve this critical balance of protection for both interests and maintain the standards set by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“With the Equality Act, we face a unique challenge of balancing needed protections for the LGBTQ community with the importance of protecting religious liberty—one of the fundamental rights enshrined at the founding of our nation. I believe this compromise is possible because I’ve seen it before in my home state with something called the “Utah compromise,” –historic legislation that effectively balanced the absolute rights of both LGBTQ individuals as human beings and religious institutions protected by the first amendment. The Equality Act fails to strike that balance. Instead, these two interests are treated as a zero-sum game and no good faith effort has been put forth to allow both sides to win.”

The Congressman’s full speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about the Equality Act. 

First and foremost, I must begin by saying that I believe the LGBTQ community is a critical part of the fabric of our country. They are deserving of our unequivocal love and respect, and their contributions to my home state of Utah are utterly invaluable.

As the mayor of Provo, I prioritized inclusion and love, and sought to ensure my administration did everything possible to recognize the intrinsic value of all our citizens, including our LGBTQ community. I fought hard against discrimination and was grateful for my association with organizations like Provo Pride, Equality Utah, Encircle, and others who I was honored to stand with to ensure our policies in City Hall reflected the love in our hearts.

Perhaps even more than that, I’m grateful for the associations and relationships in my life that have helped me better understand the experience of the LGBTQ community and have been patient with a conservative, Utah boy who grew up in the 60’s and took longer to develop the appropriate empathy than he would’ve liked. I say again, I am incredibly grateful for the contribution of the LGBTQ community and will always stand with them in love and support. 

With the Equality Act, we face a unique challenge of balancing needed protections for the LGBTQ community with the importance of protecting religious liberty—one of the fundamental rights enshrined at the founding of our nation. I believe this compromise is possible because I’ve seen it before in my home state with something called the “Utah compromise,” –historic legislation that effectively balanced the absolute rights of both LGBTQ individuals as human beings, and religious institutions protected by the first amendment. 

The Equality Act fails to strike that balance. Instead, these two interests are treated as a zero-sum game and no good faith effort has been put forth to allow both sides to win. This bill would end long-standing religious liberties under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a historic bipartisan legislative victory fought for by the current Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, my own Utah mentor Orrin Hatch, a Republican, and liberal lion Ted Kennedy. It was also signed into law by Democrat President Bill Clinton. 

I’ve introduced commonsense amendments that would help achieve this critical balance of protection for both interests and maintain the standards set by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

I’m frustrated that House Democrat leaders have decided there will not be any consideration or even debate of amendments on the Equality Act. Instead, they have established a model of legislative gas-lighting. In this case, they are taking issues where broad bipartisan agreement is possible, and taking the debate off the table. On issue after issue, whether it be climate change, the Violence Against Women Act, or now the Equality Act, they disregard willing partners such as myself, standing here hoping to work with them, and instead prefer to pass party-line bills that won’t go anywhere so they have issues to campaign on.

If my colleagues on the other side of the aisle truly want to achieve progress on this issue, I hope they’ll recognize that they have a willing partner in me—but they must be willing to work together to legislate and make room to protect both religious liberty and the LGBTQ community. Exploiting another group in order to pass another campaign messaging bill along party lines is not what this body is for.

I hope they’ll hear me today and change course before this bill is brought up for a vote.”

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
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Curtis Advocates for Utah Forests on House Floor

Curtis Advocates for Utah Forests on House Floor

May 14, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), Deputy Republican Leader of the House Natural Resources ‘National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee’, spoke on the House floor to advocate for an amendment to HR 2157 that would increase funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection program.

In the state of Utah alone, nearly half a million acres burned last year. Over 60% of Utah is federal land, adding even more unique challenges to forest management. This week, Rep. Curtis cosponsored The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019, a solution to the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfire. Click here to read more.

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

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of this amendment to HR 2157, increasing funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection program by 310 million dollars.

Last year, Utah, like many States in the West, faced devastating wildfires that affected many communities in my district. The Pole Creek Fire and Bald Mountain Fire, which started on federal land, collectively burned over 117,000 acres and left damaged infrastructure and homes in their paths.

Many of the communities affected by the fires need assistance to rebuild and repair the critical watersheds that they rely on, but have not been able to receive it. For example, Utah County has been approved for over 9 million dollars in aid from NRCS through the Program, but because of inadequate funding, has yet to get the funds they were promised.

Cleaning up and rebuilding after a wildfire is an important step in protecting against future disaster. I am proud to support this amendment that will bring aid to communities like Utah County that have been affected by catastrophic natural disasters.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.”

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After Tragic 2018 Forest Fires, Curtis Introduces Bill to “Restore Health and Resiliency”

After Tragic 2018 Forest Fires, Curtis Introduces Bill to “Restore Health and Resiliency”

May 13, 2019

Washington, DC— Representative John Curtis (R-UT), Deputy Republican Leader of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee, gave the following remarks at the House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing.

The hearing was on “Wildfire Resilient Communities” and yesterday, the Congressman joined a group of his Republican colleagues in the Natural Resources Committee to introduce The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019, a solution to the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfire. More information can be found below.

“This Congress presents a new opportunity for Congress to enact meaningful reforms to bring relief to our western communities. It is vital that we empower land management agencies with the tools they need to restore health and resiliency to our forests, while also finding ways to make our rural communities safer from the threat of catastrophic wildfires.”

The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019

Last year, the Pole Creek Fire and Bald Mountain Fire burned thousands of acres of federal land in Utah. Many of those communities, including Utah County, have attempted to utilize USDA’s disaster recovery programs (Emergency Watershed Protection) but have been unable to receive any resources.

The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019 pairs targeted forest management reforms with needed regulatory streamlining to dramatically improve the health and resiliency of forests and rangelands. The bill provides federal land management agencies immediate tools to increase the pace, scale and cost efficiency of forest management projects, without sacrificing environmental protections.

“Last year, Utah had some of the largest fires in the state’s history. Though I was proud of my constituents who stepped up and volunteered time and resources to fight the fires, behind the camaraderie there was an underlying frustration that these fires should have been prevented in the first place,” Curtis said. “I’m pleased to support this legislation that provides tools to streamline forest management projects without having to compromise environmental protections.”

The bill utilizes tools that the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can implement immediately to mitigate insect and disease infestation, prevent damage to municipal watersheds and critical infrastructure, quickly harvest wildfire-killed trees to pay for reforestation and improve the health of forests and grasslands to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.

It also streamlines environmental reviews of projects for the removal of dead trees to pay for reforestation after large wildfires, requires an Environmental Assessment for a reforestation project, and encourages and speeds wildlife habitat improvement for wild turkey, ruffed grouse, elk, deer and other “early seral” forest-dependent species.

Click here to read the full bill text.

The Congressman’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

“I want to thank my democratic friends for convening this hearing to discuss our growing national wildfire crisis. After a historically tragic fire year, House Republicans, especially those on this committee, have been urging our friends on the other side of the dais to take action on this dire issue. I am pleased they are doing so here today.

The poor health of our nation’s forests has reached crisis levels. Before our own eyes, we’ve seen many of our nation’s once flourishing forests transform into dead and burned out wastelands. 2018 was an especially deadly and destructive year. Wildfires destroyed over 8.8 million acres across the US.

In my home state of Utah alone, nearly half a million acres burned last year. Over 60% of Utah is federal land, adding even more unique challenges to forest management. Tragically, wildfires have also claimed the lives of over 400 Americans in the last 20 years. Just last year an especially deadly fire in California killed 85 people.

The poor state of many federal forests is an undeniable national emergency. For decades we have failed to properly manage our forests, which has led to hazardous fuels buildup. As a result, these excessive fuel loads are increasing the likelihood of deadly fires. We cannot continue to ignore the forest health crisis. The Federal government’s current rate, treating a mere 2% of the nearly 80 million acres identified as high risk to wildfire, is not acceptable.

Litigation and endless analysis force federal land managers to spend 40% of their time and money on bureaucratic processes and “bulletproofing” against the fear of litigation instead of getting real work done on the ground. This is a very real problem and we must enact measures to increase the pace and scale of active management across our forest lands.

This Congress presents a new opportunity for Congress to enact meaningful reforms to bring relief to our western communities. It is vital that we empower land management agencies with the tools they need to restore health and resiliency to our forests, while also finding ways to make our rural communities safer from the threat of catastrophic wildfires.

There are some who unfortunately dismiss or downplay the need for better forest management. They argue that efforts would be better served to focus solely on community protection tools like fire-resistant construction and defensible spaces. While these are very important public safety tools, they do not negate the need for more proactive management of our forests. They go hand in hand.

While I am excited to work on important community safety efforts, I must also urge my colleagues to not neglect our responsibility to address the failing health of our nation’s forests. For too long we have focused on fire suppression while ignoring the need to address fire prevention, and year after year, our national wildfire crisis continues to grow.

Toward that end, yesterday I was proud to join my good friend Congressman Westerman in introducing the “Resilient Federal Forests Act.” I believe this bill provides the types of fire prevention tools needed to restore health to our nation’s forests, while also empowering important community safety efforts. This proposal builds upon Congressman Westerman’s House passed legislation from the 115th Congress, and provides real reforms that will help our land managers prevent catastrophic wildfires and stop the horrible tragedies that we are seeing in the west year after year.

I urge my colleagues to join us in this effort. With that, Madame Chair, I would like to thank our witnesses for being here today. I look forward to listening to your testimony.”

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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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