New Curtis Bill Fights to Curb International Business Corruption

New Curtis Bill Fights to Curb International Business Corruption

April 15, 2019

Washington, DC – Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke on the House of Representatives floor after introducing the Protecting US Businesses Abroad Act. The legislation combats corruption in foreign countries and incentivizes US businesses to invest in otherwise high-risk areas around the world.

According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US directly invested over $6 trillion abroad at the end of 2017. Although the United States works with foreign countries to promote a culture of integrity and prevent corruption, businesses—particularly small-businesses—face significant challenges when interfacing with foreign markets. The Protecting US Businesses Abroad Act will bolster foreign investments while providing critical protections for US businesses.

“This legislation will provide critical protections against corruption targeting Americans doing business in emerging markets around the world,” said Curtis. “Many businesses, and especially small businesses, do not have the resources to combat this type of corruption overseas. This bill will provide a crucial tool for small businesses to invest safely around the globe—benefitting our economy and developing markets around the world.”

Statements of Support

House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul:
“By promoting a culture of integrity and confronting corruption in foreign markets, we can open new doors for American businesses to expand innovation and compete overseas. This bill will protect American business interests abroad by authorizing the President to impose sanctions against corrupt actors in both the public and private sectors. I applaud Congressman Curtis for taking the lead to address the significant challenges U.S. businesses face abroad and look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to pass this legislation.”

Derek Miller, President and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce:
“The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce is pleased to support the Protecting US Businesses Abroad Act. This important legislation will provide critical protections against corruption in foreign countries and incentivize businesses to invest in otherwise high-risk areas around the world. We commend you for your leadership in combatting corruption and ensuring businesses have effective risk-management tools available as they consider investment opportunities abroad. We are pleased to endorse the “Protecting US Businesses Abroad Act” and to assist in its passage in the 116th Congress.”

Frank Mosier, Chairman, Rendeavour:
“As a long-time American investor in sub-Saharan Africa, I can speak to both the incredible opportunities in the region, as well as some of the public- and private-sector corruption challenges that can deter needed American investments.  The tools proposed in the Protecting US Businesses Abroad Act will bolster US investments in emerging markets throughout Africa, Eurasia, Latin America and other parts of the world. On behalf of Rendeavour, I want to thank Rep. Curtis for leading on this important effort.”   

Background
Protecting US Businesses Abroad Act

Protects against public or private sector corruption including:

  • Soliciting or accepting bribes
  • Using the authority of the state to extort payments, intimidating US foreign investors, or otherwise thwarting investment by US foreign investors
  • Obstructing, manipulating, or interfering with the impartial operation of justice or law enforcement
  • Expropriating assets without providing just compensation
  • Conspiring to engage in support of corruption
  • Authorizes the President to impose sanctions against individuals engaged in public or private sector corruption
  • Such individuals will be ineligible to receive a visa to enter the US
  • Requires the President to submit a report to Congress on individuals who had sanctions imposed against them using this authority
  • Requires heads of relevant Federal departments and agencies to develop a strategy to coordinate US government efforts to protect against corruption

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

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Protecting United States Businesses Abroad Act.

This legislation will provide critical protections against corruption by authorizing the President—through the advice of Congress or State Department officials—to revoke the visas of those engaging in corruption targeting Americans doing business in emerging markets around the world. This includes soliciting bribes, extorting payments or assets, manipulating law enforcement, and more.

Many businesses and especially small businesses do not have the resources to combat this type of corruption overseas. This bill will provide a crucial tool for small businesses to invest safely around the globe—benefitting our economy and developing markets around the world.

I want to thank Ranking Member McCaul of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for his support, as well as the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Rendeavor—a company that has been directly affected by this type of corruption overseas.

I yield my time.”

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Curtis Bills to Strengthen US-Taiwan Relations Pass Foreign Affairs Committee

Curtis Bills to Strengthen US-Taiwan Relations Pass Foreign Affairs Committee

April 11, 2019

Washington, DC – Representatives John Curtis (R-UT), released the following statement after joining his colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to introduce two pieces of bipartisan legislation. Both bills passed unanimously through committee Tuesday afternoon.  

“Two of my cosponsored bills—H. Res. 273 and H.R. 2002—supporting Taiwan and recognizing the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act have passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee with bipartisan support,” said Curtis. “39 years ago, I was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan. I grew to love their unique customs, culture, history, and language. I developed a great personal appreciation for its people and their way of life. It is an honor and privilege to support our friend and partner, Taiwan, and highlight the bonds that connect us.”

Background

April 10, 2019, marks the 40th anniversary of the date the Taiwan Relations Act became law. Over the last four decades, Taiwan has blossomed into a beacon of democracy in Asia and an increasingly important US partner, but US-Taiwan relations have continued to be constrained by administrative restrictions.

H.Res. 273 recognizes the Taiwan Relations Act on the 40th anniversary of its signing: April 10, 1979. It also reaffirms that the Taiwan Relations Act—together with President Reagan’s “Six Assurances”—are and will remain cornerstones of United States relations with Taiwan.

H.R. 2002 also recognizes the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act and aims to fix excessive restrictions and a lack of transparency. Specifically, the bill directs the Secretary of State to review its guidance on relations with Taiwan, reissue such guidance, report to Congress on the process, and furnish the relevant guidance to the House and Senate foreign policy Committees. It also states that it is US policy to advocate for Taiwan’s meaningful inclusion in United Nations, World Health Assembly, International Civil Aviation Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, etc., supports Taiwan’s continued pursuit of asymmetrical defense capabilities, and encourages the US Trade Representative to continue negotiations with Taiwan to reach a bilateral trade agreement that increases market access for the US and promotes Taiwan’s economic wellbeing.

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Curtis Speaks at Global Leadership Forum on National Security and Utah’s Economy

Curtis Speaks at Global Leadership Forum on National Security and Utah’s Economy

April 9, 2019

Washington, DC – Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke at a forum hosted by the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) to discuss how American diplomacy and development assistance strengthen US national security and create new economic opportunities for Utah businesses. With over 352,000 jobs in Utah tied to international trade, and Utah exports to foreign markets totaling more than $11.6 billion a year, America’s global leadership is a strategic economic issue for the Beehive State.

“When America engages around the world, we all stand to benefit,” said Curtis. “As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I am committed to supporting the vital US government programs that protect our nation’s interests abroad. Our global ties help to open new markets for US businesses and create jobs for Americans, while US diplomats and development workers overseas are preventing conflicts and wiping out diseases before they reach our borders.”

The Congressman highlighted his recent trip to Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Mexico with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and his thoughts after hearing the news that President Trump had announced cuts to foreign aid to the Northern Triangle. Rep. Curtis also discussed his legislative work to combat human-trafficking on a global scale.”

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

“It’s wonderful to be with you today. This is an important conversation that I’m honored to be a part of.

40 years ago, I had the opportunity to be in Israel, living in BYU’s Jerusalem Center, when the historic Israel-Egypt peace treaty was signed in Washington. It was a day I’ll never forget, but the story behind those negotiations makes that historic accord even more incredible. As you may remember, it was widely known that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin despised each other. During the Camp David Accords the year before an agreement was reached, the two couldn’t even be in the same room, so President Carter would meet with each leader separately, shuttling back and forth as they tried to inch towards a peace agreement. But the following year at the culmination of countless conversations, painstaking debate, and considerable heartache, the two leaders proudly stood together for a photo with President Carter after signing a historic accord that would stand for decades. I bought a copy of the Jerusalem Post that day with that same photo, and have kept it for all these years. It hangs in my office as a reminder of the incredible power of diplomacy, and the invaluable role America must play for peace and prosperity in the world.

Serving in the United States House of Representatives is both an incredible honor and a great responsibility. In Utah, we wear our unique culture as a badge of honor. We are proud of what sets us apart. We are a patriotic bunch; we consistently rank as a top state for business, charitable giving, and community service.  I don’t take my responsibility to represent those values in Washington lightly, to ensure those priorities are represented in debates over our spending, foreign policy, and defense.

I currently serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where I have an opportunity to play a role in developing and overseeing U.S. foreign policy around the world. I sit on subcommittees that cover the Western Hemisphere and Asia—areas that have critical relevance to Utah’s own exports and international trade contributions.

Throughout my life, I’ve had countless opportunities to see the value of U.S. global leadership around the world. I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan and spent a good part of my professional career working on imports and exports in Asia and the Middle East.  In my current role, I’ve traveled on Congressional Delegations to Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and everywhere in between, meeting with leaders to discuss both what we have in common and what we don’t.

In every conversation I’ve had in every country I’ve visited, one thing that has remained perfectly clear to me is that U.S. leadership on the global stage is more important than ever.

When we discuss the critical value of diplomacy, I’m often reminded of the legendary quote by General Mattis, our former Secretary of Defense.  ‘If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.’ The more we invest in our international relationships, whether it be through high-profile events like trade missions and global summits, or the diplomatic efforts that go on largely behind the scenes, such as our Congressional delegation trips, the less we spend on armed conflict down the road.

Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations said “what we do in the world is not only good for the world; it’s good for us. It’s not a form of philanthropy; it’s a form of national security.”

I’ve seen first-hand the value of these conversations. As we look around the world at geopolitical friends and foes, my role is to consider first what we have in common as we endeavor to make those relationships stronger both for our economic and security interests. Diplomacy does require time, money, and energy, but if we look at it as an investment, the evidence throughout our history shows that diplomacy is one of the strongest investments we can make for our security and our economic interests.

Last week I was in Colombia and had the chance to sit down with President Ivan Duque to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, migration, and a number of other issues that both, directly and indirectly, affect our two countries. I will never forget being on the border between Colombia and Venezuela and seeing the number of Venezuelans who crossed the border on foot daily, going back and forth between food in Columbia and their homes in Venezuela, because President Maduro has restricted the flow of aid and supplies into Venezuela and even burned supply trucks attempting to enter Venezuelan borders.

America’s leadership has proven critical in addressing this crisis, and while the form of that continued leadership will be a subject of important debate in the months to come, I believe it’s absolutely crucial that we continue to help those people in any way we can.

From Columbia, we went to El Salvador where we met with international law enforcement and USAID officials and discussed the vital work they are doing to combat and crackdown on the transnational gang MS-13, which has a particularly strong presence in that region. In the last two years, this aid has lowered the crime rate, helped the economy, and been critical in rerouting at-risk youth into computer science training and away from joining or supporting MS-13.

While we were in South America we heard the news that President Trump had announced cuts to foreign aid to the Northern Triangle: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  I’ll confess that I was surprised by that news. At that same moment, we were hearing about the important ways that very same aid was helping to address the crisis at our own southern border by contributing to lower crime rates and stronger local economies: the root causes of migration from those countries. Our aid is going to lifting people out of poverty, providing education opportunities, vocational programs, improving local governance, and improving police forces and judicial systems.

I agree with the President that there is always room for more accountability when taxpayer dollars are a part of the equation, but I fear the decision to cut aid will do more harm than good, and in turn will make the immigration crisis even worse by exacerbating the problems leading so many to continue flocking out of these countries. We will soon be having a hearing in the Foreign Affairs Committee to examine these cuts, and I hope we’ll have a fulsome debate before they go into effect. 

On the legislative front, one issue that I’ve had the opportunity to work on in the House Foreign Affairs Committee is the fight against human trafficking. I believe one of America’s most important exports is moral leadership, and we have the best tools, resources, and capabilities to fight this terrible evil that exists all around the world. 

I’ve worked on two major pieces of legislation that will make meaningful progress in this effort. The first is a bill originally led by Senator Hatch, alongside Operation Underground Railroad founder Tim Ballard, which ensures that those like Tim, who are succeeding in the fight against trafficking in the private sector, are informing government and ensuring that federal resources are being properly utilized. I’m proud to say that bill is now a law. I believe that we must fight the scourge of human trafficking on as many fronts as we can, which is why I’ve also worked hard on the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act, which will create global measures to cut off and prevent financial transactions around the world that are connected to human trafficking.

I look forward to doing much more in this unique position on the committee both in the fight against trafficking, but also to ensure we are giving every consideration possible to diplomacy, and the importance of finding common interests and values, and investing in peace and prosperity around the world. 

We are not a perfect people, but we are a charitable people, focused on service, and a genuine desire to make the world a better place, and I can tell you that there’s never been a time when that’s been more important. This is the greatest country in the history of our world, and with that great power comes great responsibility. I will do everything I can to support efforts to live up to that responsibility and give your important work a voice in the halls of Congress.”

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Curtis Has “Grave Concerns” with Yemen Resolution

Curtis Has “Grave Concerns” with Yemen Resolution

April 8, 2019

Washington, DC – Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voted against the S.J. Res. 7, a resolution that would use war power tools to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress. 

“As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world and witness firsthand the importance of US support for our allies. As I said on the House Floor last November, I believe we should be doing everything we can to end the horrific war in Yemen and pursue peace between the Saudis and the Houthis; however, I have grave concerns about the precedent this resolution would set,” said Curtis. “By using war powers tools to remove aid, instead of other legislative vehicles, we risk disrupting over 100 critical security partnerships around the world relying on those same powers. This could result in unintended impacts on non-US military operations by other countries as well. Foreign policy is a delicate endeavor and I would encourage those supporting this resolution to consider the wider impact.”

Background

  • The resolution uses the War Powers mechanisms to direct the removal of US troops from hostilities when there are no US forces to remove.
  • The Department of Defense has repeatedly confirmed that there are no US troops engaged with the Houthis in Yemen.
  • This resolution sets a precedent that US security cooperation with partners and allies count as “engagement with hostilities,” which will put U.S. security cooperation relationships with more than 100 countries throughout the world at risk.
  • This resolution specifically seeks to halt aerial refueling of coalition jets, which is a practice that was stopped by the Trump Administration in November 2018.
  • This resolution ignores the destructive role of the Houthis and their backers in Tehran.
  • Additionally, this legislation does nothing to address the human rights violations of the Houthis or the fact that the Houthis are not the legitimate rulers of Yemen.
    • The Houthis regularly attack the Saudi border, launch missiles strikes into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and divert international medical and food aid to favor its own supporters and sell on the black market.
    • Human Rights Watch has accused the Houthis of taking hostages and torturing detainees.
    • The UN has reported that the Houthis use civilian human shields.
    • The World Food Programme has criticized the Houthis of illegally stealing urgently needed food aid.

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
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Curtis on US – Israel Relationship in Foreign Affairs Hearing with Secretary Pompeo: “Our Success Depends on Bipartisanship”

Curtis on US – Israel Relationship in Foreign Affairs Hearing with Secretary Pompeo: “Our Success Depends on Bipartisanship”

April 2, 2019

Washington, DC – Last week, Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Foreign Affairs Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation Subcommittee, spoke at the Foreign Affairs hearing on “The State Department’s Foreign Policy Strategy and FY20 Budget Request.”

The congressman discussed the recent attacks in Israel and efforts from the US to strengthen and secure Israel with United States Department of State Secretary Michael R. Pompeo. Rep. Curtis also presented a 40 year newspaper clipping he has kept from the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

“[The newspaper] hangs in my office as a reminder of the many lessons that came out of [the peace treaty]. Among other things: we can do what seems nearly impossible,” said Curtis. “We can bring these groups together that seem so far apart. We can be bipartisan in the way that we approach this. I worry that our relationship with Israel is becoming a partisan issue and I hope that it’s not; our success depends on being bipartisan.”

Background

40 years ago this week, Rep. Curtis was living in Jerusalem studying with the BYU Jerusalem Center when the Israel-Egypt peace treaty was signed in Washington. He grabbed a copy of the Jerusalem Post’s coverage of the historic pact (click here for more) and has held onto the newspaper for over four decades as a reminder that seemingly impossible peace is obtainable.

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Curtis Petitions for Fire Management in Natural Resources Hearing with DOI

Curtis Petitions for Fire Management in Natural Resources Hearing with DOI

March 29, 2019

Washington, DC – Representative John Curtis (R-UT), member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, spoke at the Natural Resources oversight hearing on “Examining the Department of the Interior’s Spending Priorities and the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Proposal.”

The congressman questioned Scott J. Cameron, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Policy, Management, and Budget, US Department of the Interior, on the Department of the Interior’s efforts to prevent, and fight, future wildfires on federal land.

“We had some of the largest fires in the State’s history, Pole Creek Fire and Bald Mountain Fire, last year. I was really pleased with my constituents’ response to these fires but there was an underlying frustration that because of the fuels, you’ve mentioned—this didn’t need to happen.”

Background

Last year, Utah battled the worst wildfire season in recent memory. In September, the Bald Mountain Fire burned nearly 20,000 acres of land, and threatened Utahns in Elk Ridge City. Instead of burning the city, the fire suddenly halted, stayed behind a mountain peak, and spared the community. After the unnamed peak began to be referred to as “Miracle Mountain” by many locals, Congressman Curtis introduced legislation to federally recognize the name “Miracle Mountain”.

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CURTIS FOR CONGRESS:
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