Curtis, Huffman Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Highlight Dangers of Unauthorized Drones Near Wildfire

Curtis, Huffman Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Highlight Dangers of Unauthorized Drones Near Wildfire

November 15, 2019

Washington, DCThis week, Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Jared Huffman (D-CA), both members of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Aerial Incursion Repercussion (AIR) Safety Act, bipartisan legislation to raise awareness on issues interfering with wildfire fighting by directing the Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service to conduct a study on how drone trespassing has affected wildfire suppression and costs.

“When wildfire breaks out, our brave firefighters need to protect lives and property. When unauthorized drones enter a wildfire area, firefighters must ground helicopters and their own drones—both critical components to wildland firefighting—until the drone is removed. This means that far too often valuable time and resources are spent removing civilian drones instead of containing and suppressing fire,” said Curtis. “That is why I am proud to introduce the Aerial Incursion Repercussion (AIR) Safety Act with my friend Mr. Huffman, to study how private drones flown near wildfire hinders suppression efforts and start looking at solutions that will help deter and remove unauthorized drones. I am confident that this will spur a much needed discussion on the state of our forests and how we can better manage them to reduce the risk of fire and the damage they cause.

“Wildfires have caused enormous devastation to families, businesses, and communities in my district. The idea that anyone would interfere with the heroic efforts of firefighters and other first responders is unthinkable,” said Huffman. “The AIR Safety Act is an important step in addressing the challenges and safety risks posed by unlawful drone interference and ensuring first responders are able to do their jobs and protect lives and homes.”

Statement of Support:

Greg Josten, National Association of State Foresters President; South Dakota State Forester:

“We already know that flying personal drones where wildland firefighters are actively suppressing wildfires puts the civilian operator, their neighbors, and wildland firefighting personnel in danger. The slogan is true, and state forestry agencies know it all too well: If you fly, we can’t. Now, it’s time to quantify all the deleterious effects of drone incursions on​ wildfire fighting airspace. With hard numbers to support needed change, we’ll be better positioned to prevent costly delays and shutdowns and protect both property and lives.”

Brian Cottam, Utah State Forester:

“In Utah, we have seen drone incursions continue to endanger firefighter and public safety. Congressman Curtis’s AIR Safety Act is a step in the right direction to reveal the extent of drone disruption in wildfire suppression and help put a stop to this dangerous behavior.”

Background:

The Federal Aviation Administration sets Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) around wildfires. Although laws exist prohibiting interference with wildfire fighting, many people fly their private drones within TFRs to take pictures and videos of the fire.
When unauthorized drones enter TFRs, events known as drone incursions, all aerial firefighting tools – including helicopters dropping flame retardant – must be grounded, resulting in valuable time and money being wasted that could otherwise be used to suppress the fire and save lives and property.
The bipartisan AIR Safety Act will bring attention to this issue and help determine the best ways to avoid future drone incursions.

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Curtis Statement on Day One of Public Impeachment Proceedings

Curtis Statement on Day One of Public Impeachment Proceedings

November 15, 2019

Washington, DCRepresentative John Curtis (R-UT), released the following statement in regards to Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry proceedings:

“From the onset,  I have advocated for transparency, openness, and fairness, and while the current rules do not completely meet that standard, I am glad that the whole country can now watch the public hearings themselves. It is my hope and plea that Congress and the public can set aside prejudgment and political bias and instead consider facts presented by both Democratic and Republican witnesses, should Democratic Leadership allow it. My constituents have elected me to be their eyes, ears, and eventually their voice, and I will reserve my comments and judgment until it’s time to vote on the House Floor. I commit to Utah’s third district that I will listen to all the evidence presented over the proceedings with an open mind and a pragmatic rationale.”

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Curtis, Bipartisan House Members Introduce Farm Workforce Modernization Act

Curtis, Bipartisan House Members Introduce Farm Workforce Modernization Act

November 4, 2019

Washington, DC —  Rep. John Curtis joined a group of bipartisan colleagues to introduce the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a compromise solution for American agriculture. The bill was introduced with the strong bipartisan support of 24 Democrats and 20 Republicans.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which was negotiated over several months with input from agricultural stakeholders and labor organizations, makes meaningful reforms to the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.

“I am pleased to lead, with a bipartisan group of my colleagues, a pragmatic and realistic proposal to address the immigration reforms that our agriculture sector desperately needs. The “Farm Workforce Modernization Act” creates a pathway to legal status for the dedicated farmworkers who have helped provide food for our nation for decades, and it ensures that Utah’s farmers and ranchers will have the year-round workforce they need to be successful,” said Curtis. “There is no quick fix to our broken immigration system and while this is not yet a perfect bill, I am excited to be a part of real progress being made and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make meaningful change and advance immigration policy we can all get behind.”

Statements of Support:

The bill has garnered the wide-spread support of nearly 250 agriculture groups and labor organizations. 

Neil L. Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, United States Chamber of Commerce:

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would take important steps to address the growing struggle of agricultural employers to meet their workforce needs…The Farm Workforce Modernization Act seeks to provide workforce stability for agricultural workers by allowing unauthorized farmworkers to earn legal status in the U.S. This legislation also would address future agricultural workforce needs by updating the temporary agricultural worker program, most notably providing eligibility to employers who have year-round labor needs, which is critical for dairy and livestock. Furthermore, the bill would enhance domestic security by making the use of E-Verify mandatory for employers seeking to hire temporary agricultural workers.”

Arturo S. Rodriguez, President Emeritus of United Farmworkers & Spokesperson of UFW Foundation:

“After months of negotiations, the UFW and UFW Foundation are enthusiastic about passing legislation that honors all farmworkers who feed America by creating a way for undocumented workers to apply for legal status and a roadmap to earn citizenship in the future without compromising farmworkers’ existing wages and legal protections. Understanding that compromise is required to meaningfully improve the lives of immigrant field laborers, it is our hope this will be the first time the House of Representatives, under the leadership of either party, will approve an agricultural immigration bill.”

Jim Mulhern, President, and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF):

“We have supported numerous efforts to address dairy’s acute labor needs.  Passing legislation in the House is a critical step in the process.  We urge the Senate to work with us on this important issue so we can get an ag worker bill across the finish line in this Congress. The bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides an important starting point for badly needed improvements to agriculture immigration policy. NMPF would like to thank Chairwoman Lofgren and Congressman Newhouse for their bipartisan leadership, and we look forward to continuing to work with them as this important legislation moves forward.”

Chuck Conner, President & CEO of National Coalition of Farm Cooperatives:

“The legislation points the way towards achieving many of the long-standing immigration reform goals of NCFC and others in agriculture. While there are provisions that are problematic, on balance it is a good starting point for the legislative process. It provides an opportunity to obtain an earned legal status for the current workforce in agriculture; it codifies many of the reforms that the Trump Administration has made to the current H-2A program and provides some certainty over labor costs; and it authorizes a limited number of year-round visas for those farmers with year-round labor needs, such as those in dairy and livestock. We look forward to working with Chairwoman Lofgren, Congressman Newhouse, and the other co-sponsors as the bill moves forward to ensure that the bill leads to a solution that ensures agriculture producers have access to a legal and stable workforce.”

Background:

Farmers and ranchers across the United States are in desperate need of a high-quality, reliable workforce, and the current H-2A guestworker program is in need of meaningful, bipartisan reform.  The Farm Workforce Modernization Act creates a workforce solution for America’s agriculture industry by providing stability, predictability, and fairness to one of the most critical sectors of our nation’s economy.

The bill will:

  • Establish a program for agricultural workers in the United States to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy.
  • Reform the H-2A program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill focuses on modifications to make the program more responsive and user-friendly for employers and provides access to the program for industries with year-round labor needs.
  • Establish mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system for all agricultural employment with a structured phase-in and guaranteed due process for authorized workers who are incorrectly rejected by the system.

The full list of cosponsors includes: Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV-07); Rep. James Baird (R-IN- 04); Rep. Anthony Brindisi(D-NY-22); Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN-05); Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24); Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29); Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-27); Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-04); Rep. Luis J. Correa (D-CA-46); Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA-16); Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA-21); Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-02) Rep. John Curtis  (R-UT-03); Rep. David Scott (D-GA-13); Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13); Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25); Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11); Rep. Sylvia Garcia  (D-TX-29); Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07); Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA-10); Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01); Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL-05); Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05); Rep. Paul Mitchell  (R-MI-10); Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04); Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22); Rep. Jimmy Panetta  (D-CA-20); Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-MN-07); Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-23); Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38); Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05); Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA-08) ; Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID-02); Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08); Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07); Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19); Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21); Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15); Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA-35); Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM-02); Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI-06); Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX-34); Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-02); Rep. Don Young  (R-AK- At Large)

Click here for a one-pager.

Click here for bill text.

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Curtis’ TAIPEI Act Sails Through Foreign Affairs Committee

Curtis’ TAIPEI Act Sails Through Foreign Affairs Committee

November 1, 2019

Washington, DC —  Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, released the following statement after his bill, the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, passed the House  Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously.  

The bipartisan legislation was introduced earlier this month (see here) and is intended to strengthen Taiwan’s standing around the world and comes in response to increased Chinese pressure intended to restrict Taiwan’s international space and global diplomatic recognition.

“I am so pleased to see the TAIPEI Act quickly move through the committee. It’s an honor for me to put this bill forward and I hope it’s a very clear message to our friends in Taiwan to say that friendship is reciprocated and that we appreciate their friendship over the many decades. Our relationship with Taiwan is an important alliance and we must do all we can to empower their democracy and free-market economy—I am hopeful that we can soon vote on the House floor in support of this crucial legislation.”

Statements of support given during the markup:

Taiwan Caucus Co-Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH):

“As the founder and one of the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, I want to voice my strong support for Mr. Curtis’s TAIPEI Act. Taiwan is a critical ally in the pacific and ought to be a role model for other nations across the globe. Last month the Solomon Islands and Kiribati switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The TAIPEI Act seeks to discourage other countries from making that same mistake.”

Asia Subcommittee Ranking Member Ted S. Yoho (R-FL):

“I want to voice my support for the following measures, which I am proud to cosponsor… H.R. 4754, the Taiwan Allies International Protection Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019. The U.S. government should support Taiwan in strengthening its official diplomatic relations. We have witnessed countries like Panama, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands, and Kiribati fall victim to China’s coercion and bribery. Due to this pressure, Taiwan currently maintains full diplomatic relations with only 15 nations around the world.”

Background

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 US policy to support Taiwan’s participation in appropriate international organizations. The bill also calls on the Administration to immediately begin negotiations on a US–Taiwan Free Trade Agreement.

The Congressman has also fought to protect Taiwan from being treated unfairly on the international stage. In September, he introduced legislation to addresses politically-motivated abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) by autocracies [Click HERE to read more]. He also led a bipartisan letter with 46 of his colleagues to US Attorney General William Barr and Secretary Pompeo regarding Taiwan’s lack of participation in Interpol [SEE HERE]. In May, two of Rep. Curtis’ bills passed the house: H.R. 2002 — “To foster security in Taiwan, and for other purposes” and H. Res. 273 — “Reaffirming the United States commitment to Taiwan and to the implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act. Click [HERE] to read more. 

Earlier this month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed a Senate version of the bill. Click [HERE] to read more.

Full text of the bill can be found [HERE].

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
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Curtis, McCaul, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Bill to Empower Taiwan

Curtis, McCaul, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Bill to Empower Taiwan

October 21, 2019

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, introduced the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act with Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), Vicente González (D-TX), and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX).

The bipartisan legislation is intended to strengthen Taiwan’s standing around the world and comes in response to increased Chinese pressure intended to restrict Taiwan’s international space and global diplomatic recognition. 

“My time as a missionary for the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan provided a unique understanding of the history and culture in the region. Almost four decades later, I am still committed to advocating on behalf of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people,” said Curtis. “Our relationship with Taiwan is an important alliance and we must do all we can to empower their democracy and free-market economy. The TAIPEI Act is bipartisan, doesn’t cost the American taxpayer a cent, and it combats Chinese bullying tactics. Win, win, win.”

Background

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 US policy to support Taiwan’s participation in appropriate international organizations. The bill also calls on the Administration to immediately begin negotiations on a US–Taiwan Free Trade Agreement.

The Congressman has also fought to protect Taiwan from being treated unfairly on the international stage. In September, he introduced legislation to addresses politically-motivated abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) by autocracies [Click HERE to read more]. He also led a bipartisan letter with 46 of his colleagues to US Attorney General William Barr and Secretary Pompeo regarding Taiwan’s lack of participation in Interpol [SEE HERE]. In May, two of Rep. Curtis’ bills passed the house: H.R. 2002 — “To foster security in Taiwan, and for other purposes” and H. Res. 273 — “Reaffirming the United States commitment to Taiwan and to the implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act. Click [HERE] to read more. 

Earlier this month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed a Senate version of the bill. Click [HERE] to read more.

Full text of the bill can be found [HERE].

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Curtis Supports U.S.-Allied Kurds With New Proposals

Curtis Supports U.S.-Allied Kurds With New Proposals

October 20, 2019

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced legislation in regards to Turkish military movement against the Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.

 “The Kurds have been some of our strongest allies in that fight and have served as a bulwark against the incursion of Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. Abandoning them to the will of Turkey sends a devastating signal to partners around the world and is harmful not only to the Kurds but to American interests in the region,” said Curtis. “I am pleased to introduce the Countering Turkish Aggression Act, which will sanction specific Turkish officials and any foreign person who provides support to Turkish Armed Forces, prohibit U.S. military assistance to the Turkish armed forces, and define Turkey’s recent purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia as punishable under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. I have also cosponsored, H.J.Res. 77, a resolution disapproving of the policy decision by the Administration and calling for the Turkish President to immediately end military action.”

Background

Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019:

The Congressman joined House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) and over 90 of his Republican colleagues in the House to introduce a bill that seeks to impose sanctions against Turkey in response to Ankara’s military offensive against US-allied Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.

This move follows similar efforts led by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in the Senate.

 

In addition to Congresswoman Cheney, the following members have signed on to this legislation as original co-sponsors: Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, HASC Ranking Member Rep. Mac Thornberry, and others.  

The text can be found here.

H.J. Res. 77

This bipartisan resolution opposes the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria. It passed the House this afternoon 354 to 60.

Full text available here.

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