Curtis Leads Bipartisan Coalition to Introduce the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act

Curtis Leads Bipartisan Coalition to Introduce the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act

July 2,  2020

Washington, DC — In response to China’s national security law, Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is leading a bipartisan coalition to introduce the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, which would designate the people of Hong Kong as Priority 2 refugees, streamlining their admission process to the United States, and opening up an asylum route for frontline activists in immediate danger. Additionally, the bill instructs the Secretary of State to coordinate the intake of Hong Kongers as refugees with other like-minded countries.

Cosponsors include Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Harley Rouda (D-CA), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ). The Senate companion bill is led by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Todd Young (R-IN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

“Hong Kong represents a struggle for democracy. The people of Hong Kong have demonstrated a desire to fight for the freedom based American values we hold dear,” said Curtis. “The Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act will empower Hong Kongers to continue their fight for freedom, while letting them know the U.S. and global community have their back.” 

“The United States has long served as a beacon of hope for people fighting for freedom around the globe. Many of us saw ourselves in the Hong Kong protesters taking to the streets to combat authoritarianism and exercise their voices,” said Vice-Chair Castro. “This bill ensures that America will offer refuge to Hong Kongers facing political persecution and provide a safe haven that is commensurate with their courage and commitment to liberty and justice.”

“The world witnessed the courage of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists, who last year took to the streets to defend their autonomy from China’s authoritarian grip,” said Rubio. “Following last night’s implementation of Beijing’s National Security Law, the U.S. must help Hong Kongers preserve their society at home and find refuge for those who face persecution for exercising the rights once guaranteed under the Joint Declaration. Through the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, our nation would offer a safe-haven to many Hong Kongers who have tirelessly fought against tyranny.”

“As the people of Hong Kong continue to face Beijing’s tightening grip on their autonomy, freedoms and basic human rights, the United States must hold its torch high and proud for the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” said Ranking Member Menendez. “We are introducing this bipartisan legislation to reiterate to the Chinese Communist Party that we stand resolutely with Hong Kong and its residents, and we will ensure they don’t fall through the cracks of our broken immigration system just because they were forced to flee for standing up for their rights.”

“Hong Kongers are an incredibly well-educated population, with high-tech skills and a visceral understanding of the CCP’s true nature. Any nation would be lucky to have them,” said Gallagher. “As the CCP prepares to crush what remains of one country, two systems, the United States has not just an obligation, but an opportunity to contribute to a global airlift to save as many endangered Hong Kongers as possible.”

“Beijing’s unilateral move to impose a new national security law after years of unsuccessful attempts to use the local Hong Kong legislature to pass other anti-democracy measures must not go unanswered,” said Sherman. “This bill ensures that when the situation on the ground in Hong Kong becomes untenable and Hong Kongers are unduly persecuted due to their political beliefs, the people of Hong Kong have a place to turn. The United States must stand with Hong Kongers and work with our allies to make accommodations for those fleeing undue curtailments to their political rights, as granted to Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.”

“Peaceful protesters in Hong Kong have bravely taken to the streets to demand the autonomy promised to them. Their fight for freedom warrants more than platitudes from the United States of America,” said Rouda. “The Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act epitomizes our nation’s commitment to stand with freedom-loving people everywhere and offer refuge to those fleeing tyranny.”

“The United States has been and will continue to be, a country that welcomes the oppressed and mistreated from brutal authoritarian regimes. The people of Hong Kong were guaranteed freedoms and liberties that are now being taken away by a communist regime that has experienced neither. Communism cannot survive where free thought is allowed,” said Ranking Member Yoho. “It is our country’s moral obligation to provide a safe haven for these people, and I am honored to stand with my colleagues in Congress in supporting the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act to provide that pathway. They will be welcomed to join and assimilate into America as so many successful ethnic groups have.”

“America stands with Hong Kong, and the values of freedom, democracy, and self-governance,” said Stefanik“This legislation gives refugee and asylum priority in the United States to Hong Kongers, particularly those who have been engaged in rightful protests against their government. The actions of the Chinese Communist Party are criminal, indefensible, and will not be tolerated. I will continue to be outspoken against the CCP for their human rights abuses and unacceptable lack of transparency.”

“The people of Hong Kong heroically fight for freedom and democracy against an oppressive Chinese communist government,” said McAdams. “We stand with them and for their right to speak freely. If they are forced to flee, America should offer refuge.” 

“Hong Kong has become the latest battlefield in the struggle for liberty and democracy around the globe. The brave young people of Hong Kong standing up to the CCP deserve more than words of support, they need to know America is willing to stand beside them in their fight,” said Stewart. “The Hong Kong Airlift Act is a re-affirmation of America’s commitment to supporting freedom loving peoples around the world and is rooted in our most basic founding principles.”

“Today, the Chinese government has taken the drastic step to formally violate its international commitments and end Hong Kong’s autonomy. The Hong Kong people have shown tremendous courage in standing up for the human rights and rule of law,” said Chairman McGovern. “It is essential that the United States support a pathway to safe haven for those forced to flee their cherished city. I am proud to support this legislation and the human rights of the Hong Kong people.”

“America has long been and must remain a place of refuge for those fleeing tyranny around the world. This bill says to everyone working to defend human rights in Hong Kong:  If you are persecuted under China’s outrageous new national security law, our doors are open to you, and China’s loss will be our gain,” said Malinowski.

Statements of Support

Samuel Chu, Managing Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC): “The fight for Hong Kong is far from over, and the US can and must do more. HKDC believes one urgent and important US response right now is to give hope and protection to those who are risking their lives and freedoms defending Hong Kong.  That’s why HKDC endorses and supports the bipartisan legislation ‘Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act’ being introduced in both the Senate and House. It is fitting that we are taking this action this week because 31 years ago, this month, we witnessed the horrific crackdown in Tiananmen Square. In the aftermath, the US was a beacon of hope and refuge for those who escaped the massacre. The US can and should do that again for the freedom-fighters in Hong Kong. I hope the legislation sends a message to the protesters and activists, especially those who have been arrested, jailed, beaten, and even kidnapped and tortured for their public involvement in the protests and courageous act of dissents – we have your back.”

Benedict Rogers, Co-Founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch: “The National Security law fundamentally compromises one-country, two-systems. With Beijing breaking their promises, it is vital that Hong Kongers who need it are given a way out. This is why the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act is so timely. The US stepping up to over refuge to Hong Kong’s brave and inspiring young people is not only the right thing to do, their entrepreneurial attitude, love of freedom and dynamism will benefit the US economy and society in the long run.”  

Kristie De Peña, Niskanen Center’s Vice President of Policy and Director of Immigration Policy: “Hongkongers’ brave stand for democracy and resistance to authoritarianism is inspiring to the free world. Exercising their right to dissent must not lead to reprisals and oppression. The Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act would ensure that the United States remains a beacon of hope to those who value freedom, the rule of law, and the open society. The bill keeps with a long tradition of the United States offering safe haven to those fearing persecution. We applaud Rep. Curtis’ and his colleagues’ bold leadership in standing with Hongkongers. While we abhor the treatment that would compel them to leave, they will undoubtedly make America stronger.” 

Ali Noorani, National Immigration Forum’s President and CEO: “The National Immigration Forum supports the bipartisan Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act and its commitment to protect those with a well-founded fear of persecution, including based on differing political opinions. The Act is in line with our nation’s long history of leadership in refugee resettlement and support for freedom and democracy around the world. It establishes that individuals from Hong Kong facing oppression are refugees of special humanitarian concern that warrant the world’s attention and protection. We applaud this bipartisan effort to ensure that the United States continues to be a welcoming nation for refugees.”

Arthur Rizer, Director of Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties Policy at the R Street Institute: “Americans must stand for the right to protest against government encroachments on fundamental civil liberties. Sitting in a Birmingham jail cell and reflecting on Black Americans’ fight for equality under the law in various parts of the country, Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ As we push for restored trust between law enforcement and citizen, and for criminal justice reforms vital to the preservation of rights outlined in the Constitution, so should we acknowledge the deprivation of these liberties abroad. Residents of Hong Kong who cannot safely exercise their liberty should have refuge in the land of the free. We are proud to support Rep. Curtis’ bill as an assertion of American leadership amid the struggle for human freedom.”

This legislation is also endorsed by the Texas Public Policy Institute and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The idea of visas for Hong Kong has been endorsed by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board and the Bloomberg Editorial Board.

Background

The bipartisan Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act would designate Hong Kong citizens as Priority 2 refugees—streamlining their refugee admission process. the legislation also instructs the Secretary of State to work with likeminded ally countries to accept refugees from Hong Kong.

  • Assigning Hong Kongers as Priority 2 allows any individual applying for refugee status to directly work with the U.S. government, instead of the longer process that requires referral by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 
  • UNHCR doesn’t have a post in Hong Kong—it is quicker for Hong Kongers to apply directly with the consulate in Hong Kong or in a friendly nation. 
  • This legislation would facilitate and expedite the refugee process, allowing citizens of Hong Kong to quickly leave who are in fear of persecution. 
  • The asylum route applies to These are people who: had a leadership role in civil society organizations supportive of the protests relating to the Hong Kong extradition bill and the encroachment on the autonomy of Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China; had an organizing role for such protests; acted as a first aid responder for such protests; suffered harm while covering such protests as a journalist; provided paid or pro-bono legal services to 1 or more individuals arrested for participating in such protests; or were formally charged, detained, or convicted for his or her participation in such protests.

Full text of the bill is available [HERE].

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Curtis: “The House Needs to Return to Washington”

Curtis: “The House Needs to Return to Washington”

May 10,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT) released the following statement calling for the reopening of the House of Representatives. He argues the need to be back in session while taking all necessary precautions:

“Over the last few months my staff and I have been educating businesses impacted by COVID-19 on resources to ease their burdens, coordinating the return of American citizens safely from foreign countries, keeping constituents and government officials informed, and introducing and cosponsoring bills,” said Curtis. “However, the House needs to return to Washington—taking precautions such as masks, social distancing, and handwashing—to make any real, bipartisan progress on the plethora of bills to help the American people that I and others have introduced. Millions of hard-working Americans are safely working through this pandemic, certainly, Congress with its abundance of resources should be as well. You elected me to be your voice in Washington, and I urge House Democratic leadership to swiftly bring us back so we can work in our full capacity to help the American people.”

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Utah Delegation Advocates for Ski Industry with Bicameral, Bipartisan Letter

Utah Delegation Advocates for Ski Industry with Bicameral, Bipartisan Letter

May 9,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT) spearheaded a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza, requesting additional guidance for the Paycheck Protection Program that reflects the unique needs of seasonal employers, and particularly ski areas, within the state of Utah. The Congressman’s effort is supported by the entire bipartisan Utah Delegation, including Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Representative Ben McAdams (D-UT).

According to recent data, it is estimated that Utah’s ski industry supports more than 20,000 jobs and generates approximately $1.8 billion in economic activity each year. The large majority of these Utah businesses operate under private or family ownership.

“We write to stress that ski areas also face a “disparity” in terms of how they calculate employee retention for purposes of maximizing PPP forgiveness. As the CARES Act is currently understood, we have been told by local ski area businesses that they only stand to achieve approximately 20 percent PPP loan forgiveness—a significant “disparity” relative to other small businesses.

As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, our local communities that rely on strong tourism and seasonal business will be among the most economically vulnerable. It is crucial that we take all the necessary steps to protect them.”

The full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza,

Thank for your efforts to provide critical and necessary support to America’s working families and small businesses during this exceptionally challenging time. As the administration continues to implement the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, we write to ask the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration to provide additional interim guidance that consider the unique needs of the winter seasonal employers within our state.

Utah is home to many of the nation’s most popular ski areas, which serve as the economic drivers for their surrounding communities. The large majority of these Utah businesses operate under private or family ownership. The economic impact of these seasonal businesses is wide-reaching, from supporting the hospitality industry to attracting visitors who generate significant commercial activity at local restaurants and shops. According to recent data, it is estimated that Utah’s ski industry supports more than 20,000 jobs and generates approximately $1.8 billion in economic activity each year.

We appreciate the Treasury Department’s recent effort to expand PPP loans for seasonal employers. On April 27, Treasury issued an interim rule to expand PPP loan amount sizes for summer seasonal businesses, adding an “alternative means” or “alternative base period” for calculating PPP loan amounts, allowing summer seasonal employers to consider their payroll from May 1 through September 15 to maximize the size of their PPP loans. In this interim rule, Treasury referred to an oversight in the CARES Act as a “disparity” relating to summer businesses.

We write to stress that ski areas also face a “disparity” in terms of how they calculate employee retention for purposes of maximizing PPP forgiveness. As the CARES Act is currently understood, we have been told by local ski area businesses that they only stand to achieve approximately 20 percent PPP loan forgiveness—a significant “disparity” relative to other small businesses.

We request that you please consider the ski industry’s urgent need for interpretative guidance. In short, allow these winter seasonal employers the opportunity to elect a similar 8-week “alternative base period” from 2019—as the Treasury Department characterized it in the April 27 guidance—to calculate the number of employees that must be retained for maximum loan forgiveness. By doing so, these winter seasonal employers could maintain a workforce size they would normally employ during this time of year and achieve closer to 80 or 90 percent PPP loan forgiveness, which would better equip them to weather this difficult situation and recover to employ their winter season employees later this year.

As the Treasury Department’s interim rule explained, your adoption of the May-September “alternative base period” for summer businesses “ensures that seasonal employers affected by the pandemic are treated even-handedly.” We simply ask for similar “even-handed” treatment as it relates to PPP loan forgiveness for winter seasonal employers like the 470 ski areas in the U.S.

As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, our local communities that rely on strong tourism and seasonal business will be among the most economically vulnerable. It is crucial that we take all the necessary steps to protect them.

Thank you for your tremendous efforts to ensure PPP loans are usable for the ski industry, and thus directly help their employees financially support themselves and their families through this difficult time.

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Rep. Curtis Named to China Task Force

Rep. Curtis Named to China Task Force

May 9,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement after being named to the newly-formed China Task Force. The Task Force will bring together select members from key committees to help reinforce Congressional efforts to counter current and emerging cross-jurisdictional threats from China. The Task Force was originally designed to be a joint effort with Democratic colleagues, but after delaying for more than a year, House Democratic leadership never launched the initiative.

“I am honored to be selected by Leader McCarthy to join the newly-formed China Task Force. The Task Force will study a wide range of issues such as disinformation campaigns, influence operations, economic threats, and competition for the development of advanced technology, ultimately creating policy recommendations for Congress. My time in the region has given me a unique understanding of the history, culture, and language which I will use as the China Task Force tackles these issues head-on,” said Curtis. “There is a need for a unified and bipartisan voice on these issues; I hope my Democratic colleagues will soon join us.”

Background

The Republican-led China Task Force will be chaired by Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX). House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also selected the following members to serve on the Task Force: Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), and Representatives Jim Banks (R-IN), Andy Barr (R-KY), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), John Joyce (R-PA), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Michael Waltz (R-FL).

The task force will focus on issues such as:

  • Operations targeting U.S. and foreign governments and civil society, including think tanks, business, and media outlets.
  • Export control regimes and foreign investment screening mechanisms in the United States, and efforts to coordinate and harmonize these regimes with partners.
  • Chinese Communist Party efforts to attain leadership positions and change norms at international organizations and standard-setting bodies.
  • Economic coercion of governments and businesses in the United States and partner countries, including through the monopolization of critical supply chains.
  • China’s role in the origin and spread of COVID-19.
  • Efforts to gain the technological advantage (in areas including 5G, AI, quantum computing, and other emerging technologies that may or may not have military applications).

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Curtis Introduces the “American Healthshare Plans Act” to Insure the Self-Employed, Their Teams, and Millions of Americans

Curtis Introduces the “American Healthshare Plans Act” to Insure the Self-Employed, Their Teams, and Millions of Americans

May 8,  2020

Washington, DC —  Representative John Curtis (R-UT) released the following statement after introducing the American Healthshare Plans Act. The bill would dramatically expand access to customized and affordable health care for millions of Americans. The bicameral bill is cosponsored by Reps. Jody Arrington (R-TX), Jody Hice (R-GA) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate.

“Our legislation would especially be a game-changer for Utah’s small business community by ensuring our hard-working business owners, their workforce, and their families have access to affordable health coverage,” said Curtis. “This also gives thousands of Utahns who filed unemployment claims over the past month the ability to obtain health care coverage in the event of them or a family member contracting COVID-19, while also allowing our front line workers, like grocery store clerks or UberEATS drivers, to purchase affordable health care coverage in the event that they contract the virus on the job.”

Statement of Support:

Derek B. Miller, President and CEO Salt Lake Chamber:

“The Salt Lake Chamber, and Chambers across the country, exist to speak for and support businesses. Making sure our workforce has access to quality health insurance for their employees is one of the most important issues for our membership and is a top priority for the Salt Lake Chamber. The need for organizations like ours to be able to provide and facilitate health insurance to our members, while important in the best circumstances, is even more important in light of our current economic challenges. The American Healthshare Plans Act of 2020 would create a new path for membership organizations to offer health insurance to its members outside of an employment relationship. This would allow us to put together health care plans that can meet the specific needs of our membership, and very importantly, allow our members to maintain stable health insurance as they transition between jobs, are self-employed, and as they establish new businesses and work to mitigate costs. The Salt Lake Chamber is very supportive of the American Healthshare Plans Act of 2020- now more than ever.”

Background

According to the US Department of the Treasury, almost a third of the country is self-employed but only 25 percent of that group is insured. The American Healthshare Plans Act would give these individuals, their employees, and their dependents access to customized and affordable health care coverage by:

  • Creating a new pathway for any membership organization to offer health insurance to its members, across state lines, regardless of an employment relationship
  • Allowing for the portability of health insurance between jobs or from job-to-job
  • Giving their members more benefit options, while prohibiting rate-setting discrimination based on health status or pre-existing condition

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Curtis Speaks at House Small Business Hearing: “Small Businesses Will Save Us”

Curtis Speaks at House Small Business Hearing: “Small Businesses Will Save Us”

April 27,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT), spoke at House Committee on Small Business hearing, highlighting the recently passed CARES Act and advocated for the passage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Health Care Enhancement Act. The Congressman will be voting for the legislation this afternoon.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the Utah economy. As a matter of fact, they make up 90% of the businesses in my district. As a former small business owner, I have a soft spot in my heart for these courageous entrepreneurs who make constant sacrifices in order to grow our businesses and our economy. Businesses throughout my community need more help, and now. This bill we will vote on later today is critical to delivering resources to the parts of the country and economy that are currently on life support. I’m grateful to be here in Washington DC with my colleagues to vote for this legislation to help our small businesses and their employees.”

Background:

  • The recently passed CARES Act pumped billions of dollars into Utah’s economy, giving roughly 21,000 Utah businesses with under 500 employees immediate financing to help offset losses related to COVID-19.
  • Despite this, businesses and the more than 24,000 Utahns who filed unemployment claims over the past month need more help.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act increases funding by over $320 billion for the Small Business Administration’s guaranteed loan program and authorizes an additional $60 billion in funding for SBA’s disaster relief loan and emergency grant programs.

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