Curtis: Utahns Need Access to Child Care, Not Additional Red Tape

Curtis: Utahns Need Access to Child Care, Not Additional Red Tape

July 31,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative John Curtis (R-UT), released the following statement advocating for H.R. 7778, the Expanding Child Care Access Grants Act, which would provide funds for businesses to establish child-care programs or partner with existing providers to offer child care for their employees. The Congressman does not support the two child care bills on the House floor today due to their reckless spending of taxpayer dollars and the creation of new regulations while child care providers are already facing burdensome red tape.

“Access to child care is a key factor to getting Americans back to work and continuing Utah’s successful economic rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, simply throwing billions of dollars at the industry, coupled with additional regulations that will make it harder for child care facilities to open, will not fix the problem. Instead, Congress needs to focus on reducing barriers to affordable child care while being responsible with taxpayer money”, said Curtis. “To that end, I am a proud cosponsor of the Expanding Child Care Access Grants Act, which will provide grants for employers to establish child care options for their employees. Unlike the bills on the Floor today, this bill provides a targeted way for Utahns to have access to the child care they need, with a fraction of the price tag.”

Background

H.R. 7778 – The Expanding Child Care Access Grants Act

  • This bill provides grants for businesses to establish child-care programs for their employees or partner with existing providers to offer child care services.
  • Funds would go from HHS to states and then would be sub-granted to businesses.
    Time-limited in response to COVID so that any unused funds would be returned to the Treasury in a year.
  • States would be required to obligate 80 percent of funding within six months.
  • Authorizes $1B, and achieves the same goal as the Democrat’s bills, but with a much lower price tag.

House Republicans have introduced numerous bills to address the needs of families and providers and worked on a bipartisan basis to include $3.5 billion in much-needed support in the CARES Act. Instead of pursuing bipartisan solutions, House Democrats have decided to take a partisan approach that recklessly spends taxpayer dollars and adds burdensome new mandates that will drive up costs substantially, tie many providers’ hands unnecessarily, and limit available slots for parents returning to work. Representative Curtis will be voting against the following two bills on the House floor today:

Child Care is Essential Act

  • Appropriates $50 billion, which is higher than the entire annual revenue of the child care industry, and substantially more than was included in HEROES.
  • Denies support for certain eligible providers, such as churches and public recreation camps, who are license-exempt and operating legally in a state that meet all state and local requirements.
  • Fails to address the barriers to entry new providers face, an issue that can increase cost and limit slots for children.
  • Does not include protections to ensure eligibility for all providers, potentially closing the door on those who don’t already receive taxpayer funds.

Child Care for Economic Recovery Act

  • CBO estimates on-budget effects of this bill to be more than $165 billion over 10 years, including a substantial increase in mandatory spending, which is out of proportion for the immediate needs related to the ongoing pandemic.
  • Includes an increase in child-care entitlement funds to states from $2.9 billion to $10 billion per year over five years, even though many states have not utilized the additional funding for child care that was provided in the CARES Act.
  • Fails to protect taxpayer dollars by excluding safeguards on the refundability of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, such as taxpayer or child social security numbers.
  • Expands the CARES Act Employee Retention Tax Credit to cover wages paid not only to nannies and other caretakers, but to butlers, maids, and gardeners, and on a retroactive basis.

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Curtis, Welch Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Assess Impact of COVID-19 Telehealth Policies

Curtis, Welch Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Assess Impact of COVID-19 Telehealth Policies

July 25,  2020

Washington, DC — Representatives John Curtis (R-UT), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to study the impacts of telehealth during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). The legislation requires the US Department of Health and Human Services to assess key health care metrics, including utilization rates and hospital readmission rates, for patients who received their health care through expanded telehealth programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate companion bill will be introduced this week by Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV).

“Telehealth is undoubtedly the future of health care, especially for the rural communities that I am privileged to represent,” said Curtis. “Ultimately, Congress’ objective should be to make many – if not at all – of these regulatory changes permanent. Our bill is a significant step in that direction because it will ensure we are keeping patients’ health and reducing the costs of care through value-based medicine as our top priorities as we consider expanding telehealth services throughout the country.”

“This unprecedented pandemic has proven that telehealth not only works, but that it’s essential,” said Welch. “I have no doubt that this study will confirm what rural and underserved patients across the country already know: these emergency telehealth provisions should be continued. This is a commonsense step to make sure our policies keep pace with our technology.”

Statement of Support

Nathan Baugh, Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Rural Health Clinics:

“As rural health clinics adopt telehealth services to care for their patients during the pandemic, it is important for us to understand both the magnitude and effectiveness of telehealth in rural, underserved settings as we deliberate further changes to telehealth policy.”

Ray Timothy, UETN Executive Director, Utah Telehealth and Education Network:

“The Utah Education and Telehealth Network is in support of this bill, which requires the secretary of HHS to collect and analyze data on the impact of telehealth services, virtual check-ins, digital health, and remote patient monitoring technologies on health care delivery permitted by current waivers and modifications of requirements during COVID-19. Many of the current waivers have had a profound impact on the way health care is delivered, in rural and underserved areas in particular, and this bill will help to determine what changes to keep in place after the end of the PHE.”

Neil Leibowitz,  Chief Medical Officer, Talkspace:

“For many, the stress and anxiety inflicted by COVID was relieved thanks to mental health counseling provided via text, video chat, and audio messaging. By seeking data on the impact and effectiveness of Telebehavioral Health, Congressmen Welch (D-VT) and Curtis (R-UT) will spur on better analysis, fresh insights, and quite possibly new treatments. We hope the bill leads to laws and rules that make it easier for Americans to connect with professional therapists.  Real world evidence will make clear that telemedicine is an invaluable way for mental health care to be delivered and consumed.”

Background

Regulatory action taken by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak in the US gave millions of Americans access to vital health care services with the touch of a button. The 1135 Blanket Waivers issued by CMS in March 2020 permit health care providers to treat patients virtually – either by phone (audio-only) or through teleconferencing – and across state lines, which is a practice that regulators previously prohibited.

These increased flexibilities resulted in a 50% increase in telehealth visits among public payers in March alone and more than an 8,000% increase in telehealth visits to date as a result of similar actions taken by commercial insurers. The bipartisan legislation introduced today will help policymakers evaluate the effectiveness of these changes, specifically if they kept patients healthier and happier, providers more satisfied, and reduced the overall costs of care.

 

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Curtis, Romney Introduce Bill to Advance the Popular Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Curtis, Romney Introduce Bill to Advance the Popular Bonneville Shoreline Trail

July 18,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative Curtis (R-UT) and Senator Romney (R-UT), who last year worked together to secure nearly a million acres of conservation and recreation designations in southern Utah, introduced new legislation to enable the construction of high priority sections of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) to enhance recreation opportunities near Utah’s most urban areas. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act, also supported by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), will adjust management boundaries to allow the advancement of the BST while also designating nearby U.S. Forest Service land for permanent protection. The BST is planned to eventually connect the Idaho border to Nephi, Utah—stretching over 280 miles. The legal map for the legislation can be found here. Senator Romney plans to introduce the companion legislation in the Senate next week.

“This legislation balances creating new recreational opportunities with protecting the environment,” said Curtis. “With a rapidly increasing population, Salt Lake and Utah Counties are in need of more widely accessible opportunities to hike, bike, and get outdoors. This legislation will do this in a responsible manner and help pave the way for all Utahns to enjoy this world-class trail.”

“The Bonneville Shoreline Trail provides great outdoor recreational opportunities for Utahns, but several wilderness-designated areas along the trail are hampering full use of the trail and prohibiting bicyclists in those areas,” Romney said. “Our solution would adjust the boundaries without increasing wilderness area to ensure that the trail can be completed and fully accessible.”

Statements of Support

Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah:

“The Bonneville Shoreline Trail has the potential to be both a beautiful recreational asset for Utah residents and a tool for teaching us about ancient Lake Bonneville and Utah’s fascinating geologic history. I’m very pleased to see the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act, which is the next step in the process of developing this beautiful trail.”

David Wiens, Executive Director, International Mountain Bicycling Association:

“The International Mountain Bicycling Association is excited to support the Bonneville Shore Trail Advancement Act introduced by Congressman John Curtis (R-UT). The Congressman and his office has been a staunch supporter of outdoor recreation and public lands protection, and this legislation will meet both of those standards while establishing connectivity and promoting healthy, trail-based recreation adjacent to major population centers along the Wasatch Front. We look forward to working with the Congressman and our friends in Utah on this important legislation.”

Louis Geltman, Policy Director, Outdoor Alliance: (full letter PDF)

“The BSTAA will help facilitate completion of the multiple-use 280-mile Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST). The proposed boundary adjustments will remove 326.27 acres from Wilderness management across 19 carefully drawn areas, and these adjustments will be offset by the addition of an equal area of new Wilderness protection in Mill Creek Canyon. These adjustments will ensure bicycle access on the BST and allow for work on the trail to proceed using tools impermissible under Wilderness management. In addition to the direct benefits of the trail itself, the BST is a central component for trail planning efforts for jurisdictions across the Wasatch Front.”

Sarah Bennett, Executive Director, Trails Utah:

“Trails Utah is delighted to join forces with Congressman Curtis, IMBA and local organizations in the effort to secure a shared-use future for Northern Utah’s iconic Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act can maximize recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts—including mountain bikers—along the populous Wasatch Front. We are enormously grateful to Congressman John Curtis for his support of this bill and look forward to being a part of the effort to build a sustainable and enjoyable Bonneville Shoreline Trail in the years to come.”

Dallen Atack, League Director, Utah High School Cycling League:

“The Utah High School Cycling League has nearly 2,000 registered student-athletes and coaches living within ten minutes of the trailheads connecting to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. As a league, our vision is to enable Utah teens to strengthen body, mind and character through the life-long sport of cycling. We have witnessed first-hand how mountain biking has strengthened families and communities. The culture of our league and mountain biking in general is one of inclusivity and respect. We fully endorse the efforts of IMBA and other local associations striving to implement the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act.”

Kevin Dwyer, Executive Director, Salt Lake Valley Trails Society:

“The Salt Lake Valley Trail Society enthusiastically supports the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act as an opportunity to provide accessible outdoor recreation for a wide variety of trail users. Hikers, cyclists, families, and adaptive athletes will be sure to be recreating in a more sustainable fashion as the sections of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail facilitated by the Act are built out and authorized for local recreation. We hope Utahans join us in supporting this bill and the recreation and community-building opportunities local trails create.”

John Knoblock, Chairperson, Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee:

“The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee was formed thirty years ago to promote development of a 280-mile long shared-use trail along the urban wildland interface of  the northern Wasatch Front in Utah. However, there are many obstacles in completing the entire envisioned trail which is still only about halfway complete. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act is important to overcome one of those obstacles by adjusting wilderness boundaries so that mountain bikes can use the entire trail as originally envisioned. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is enjoyed by thousands of trail users every year and the mountain bike community is a large and important user group.”

Bill Lee, Senior Vice President for Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations, The Trust for Public Land:

“More than 75% of Utah’s population lives along the Wasatch Front. In 2017, Utah’s outdoor recreation economy generated more than $12.3 billion in consumer spending and directly supported more than 100,000 jobs in Utah. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act will help to complete the vision of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail; giving mountain bikers, runners, hikers, equestrians, cross-country skiers — and families — new opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. We look forward to working with you to advance the legislation through Congress, and working together to achieve the promise of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.”

Kurt Bradburn, Mayor of Sandy:

‘The Bonneville Shoreline trail is the crown jewel of Sandy’s interconnected trail system. This trail once completed will connect hundreds of miles of pristine Utah open space and serve as a tremendous asset to the community. We encourage members of Congress to support Congressman John Curtis’s efforts in regard to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act.”

Troy Stout, Mayor of the City of Alpine:

“I fully support this effort to complete this trail as a mixed-use recreational resource in and near our city of Alpine in Utah County. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is one of the most recognized trails in Northern Utah and we are excited to host a section of this trail in our community. The popularity of activities like hiking, trial running, and mountain biking continue to grow here in Alpine, so I support every effort to provide our citizens with healthy, outdoor lifestyle opportunities.”

Jessica Klodnicki, Chief Marketing Officer, Skullcandy; Member of Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau:

“The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act will foster and create a consistent management approach of the BST across the federal estate (USFS). This will drive more attention to trail building and streamline efforts to fundraise for new development. The expansion of this trail will incentivize more individuals to get out and ride, which will benefit local communities and bike businesses.”

Background

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a popular trail in Utah that will ultimately stretch 280 miles. However, small segments of wilderness designations have prohibited biking on parts of the trail, preventing the full vision multi-use trail connecting dozens of Utah’s communities.

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act:

  • Releases 326 acres of wilderness, divided over more than 20 small locations, to accommodate the advancement of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Salt Lake County and Utah County, two population centers in high demand for additional recreation opportunities.
  • Resolves a wilderness boundary issue in Birch Canyon to ensure the trail that runs parallel to the road can be fully utilized as a multiuse trail.
  • Designates 326 acres of wilderness to preserve land formerly owned by the Boy Scouts of America in Mill Creek Canyon that fully offsets any wilderness release to accommodate the BST. 

Text of the bill available [HERE].

 

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Curtis, Moulton Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Consumers from Curious Smart Devices

Curtis, Moulton Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Consumers from Curious Smart Devices

July 16,  2020

Washington, DC — Representative Curtis (R-UT) introduced bipartisan legislation to put American consumers in the driver’s seat by giving them clearer knowledge about the technology they are purchasing. The Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act, introduced by Reps. Curtis, Moulton (D-MA), and Bilirakis (R-FL), requires the creation of reasonable disclosure guidelines for products that have audio or visual recording components that are not clearly obvious to a reasonable person, such as a kitchen or another household appliance.

“This legislation balances protecting American consumers with continuing to foster innovation, and I am extremely pleased with this final bipartisan product we introduced today,” said Curtis. “By working with a broad range of stakeholders, this legislation will allow regulatory flexibility without hamstringing the technological pioneers who are developing smart technologies, while ensuring consumers are aware of the capabilities of items they are putting in their homes.”

“We should be allowed to make informed decisions about the electronic eavesdroppers we invite into our homes. But we can’t do it if big tech hides microphones and cameras that are always listening in refrigerators, toasters, and other household gadgets,” said Moulton. “Let’s pass this bill so consumers know when big tech is listening in.”

Background:

The legislation is in response to reports about household devices listening to individuals’ conversations without their knowledge. While some manufacturers have taken steps to more clearly label their products with listening devices, this legislation would make this information more obvious to consumers without overly burdensome requirements on producers of these devices. 

Specifically, the bill requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to work alongside industry leaders to establish guidelines for properly disclosing the potential for their products to contain audio or visual recording capabilities. To ensure this does not become an overly burdensome labeling requirement, the legislation provides manufacturers the option of requesting customized guidance from the FTC that fits within their existing marketing or branding practices in addition to permitting these disclosures pre or post-sale of their products.

Text of the bill available [HERE].

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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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