tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 20, 2016 8:00am-10:01am EDT
looted art traded hands, some of it openly. although there ha has been improvement in this greg ip objects sold at public auction, there remains a high degree of willful ignorance by some collectors eager to add to their collections. worse still is the lack of knowledge about the history of what they already own. some don't want to know. who can be against confusing the opec a system of art world with increased transparency? tax cheats, those who possess stolen works of art, smugglers, terror networks. ..
>> thank you, good morning. chairman fitzpatrick, ranking member lynch, members of the tax force. on behalf of foundation for defense of democracieses and i will center on illicit finance. thank you for aling you me to testify. it is important to clarify how the trade fit's into isis's overall economic goals. one way to understand the goals looking at some of the strategies guiding the group's actions. one of isis's aims to win over locals who may be on the fence to submitting to jihadist rule. this gives context to the antiquities trade in isis territory. how much isis earns from looting ancient territories is difficult to assess this appears to be part of isis's economic strategy not just for funding the group
to itself but creating ways to bring funds to the subjective population whose hearts and minds isis is trying to win. isis has been dubbed the world's richest army. the illegal antiquities trade gives them advantage against counter financing efforts. history enthusiasts and artificial gnawed dose in the united states and europe, representatives of societies isis pledged to destroy. this poses several challenges to policymakers but there may be opportunities for us as well. now isis has access to roughly 5000 archaeological sites and probably earned several millions of dollars from antiquities trafficking. some of the looting appears to be conducting by local populations who sell amid economically devastating environment where isis taxes earnings and possessions. importance of the trade for isis lies not just in the funding but the market's strategic and operational benefits. the illegal trade of artifacts
generally doesn't risk provoking outside military attacks. not likely that the excavation sites will be bombed or provoking local rebellion. the pipelines that move antiquities to market invariably transit states bordering syria and iraq. turkey and lebanon are among the best reported. these pipelines are well-known for other illicit commodities but less understood in the con text antiquities. balkan route through europe and bulgaria is known path for drugs and migrants and probably plays a role in the antiquities trafficking. looted objects are hidden away for long periods. false documentation on their provenance is routine and it is difficult to track. following are some recommendations that may help policymakers address this trade. one, imposing terrorism sanctions on artifact smugglers
and dealers. even a handful of strategic terror financing designations by ofac, e.u. and u.n. imposed on worst offenders would likely have chilling effect on both sellers and buyers given financial risks and fines associated with sanctions. two, making antiquities loot as intelligence and law enforcement priority. at present it is unclear in the u.s. government is the countering antiquities trafficking. reform only comes about declaring this issue a national security priority. the u.s. government must designate a lead organization and provide adequate authorization and resources. three, incorporating cultural property crime awareness into the intelligence community and u.s. special operations, special forces training. threat finances already emphasized in courses taught at joint special operations university but such courses do not appear to highlight antiquities despite the role in terror finance. antiquity trafficking should be
included in future coarse work. four, expanding registries of art and antiquities. they are commonplace but new technologies make it possible for art and artifacts to be tag and tracked in real time even using dna markers. over time tagging a large number of objects with unique identifiers a better chain of custody can be created. these recommendation are few of extent in what will undoubt he hadly about a long, complex and multifaceted battle. law enforcements intelligence officials should pay close attention to the antiquities trade eminating from syria and iraq. what is important the trade itself reveal something about islamic state operational infrastructure links with partners and middlemen and how the group is exploiting the local civilian population. all this is critical understanding how the u.s. and its allies may defeat the group military, financially, and idealogically. thank you. >> dr. gerstenblith you're
recognized for five minutes. >> chairman fitzpatrick, ranking member lynch, members of the task force, thank you for this opportunity to speak with you. as was mentioned i serve as the chair of cut ral property advisory committee in the state department however i am speaking to you today in my personal capacity and on behalf of the u.s. committee of the blue shield. the blue shield is a cultural equivalent of the red cross as used to mark protected cultural sites. among the current activities of our organization is the creation of no strike lists, cultural sites and repositories and we lee's with the department of defense to assist in fulfilling our international obligations to protect cultural heritage during armed conflict. syria and northern iraq are rich in historic remains stretching over many millenia. this is where king hamarabi ruled and hebrew prophet jonah preached successfully repentance to the syrian ninivites thousand years later.
this has cultures greeks romans, byzantines, and islamic and ottoman periods including many faiths, judaism, christianity and islam and minority groups such as yazidis and drews. they are home to six world heritage sites and 12 tentative heritage sites. when archaeological site is looted context all relationship among the artifacts and remains is destroyed, thereby permanently preventing us from fully understanding and reconstructing our past. unfortunately the looting of archaeological sites is big business. often carried out on organized, industrialized scale. and response to market demands. in many of these sites were unknown before they were looted. cut ral objects move from source, transit and destination countries different legal systems create obstacles to interdiction of objects and prosecution of crime and they at lou the laundering of title to
these artifacts. united states is single largest market for art in the world with 43% of market share. because of the availability of the charitable tax deduction, the ability to import works of art and artifacts without payment of tariffs and because of artistic preference the united states is the largest ultimate market for antiquities particularly those from mediterranean and middle east. antiquities freshly looted from the ground have no established value and no documented history. they can be mined from the ground as new commodities. therefore they are the perfect vehicle for moving funds and value around the world and for supporting illegal activities such as trade-based money laundering, purchase of drugs and weapons, organized crime and terrorism. because of the unknown nature of recently-looted antiquities databases of stolen art or to the most part useless for regulating the antiquities trade an technologies that would tag cultural objects would in my opinion be similarly ineffective
both isil and assad regime are participating in looting and are realizing income from the sale of antiquities. studies of satellite images of archaeological sites revealed historic patterns of looting pre-conflict. for example in this image of the site of mari, which is located in the eastern syria and fell under isil control in the summer of 2014 pre-conflict you see some looters pits but not many. and in the fall of 2014 i hope you can see the large numbers about looters pit, many of which with the red circles around them but there are additional ones as well. we know that isil earned income at several points of intersection with the channels through which these artifacts move. we know for propaganda purposes isil on large public stage, immovable structures as ancient temples, churches and shrines. they destroy artifacts documented in museum collections
and too well-known to sell and too large to move. they charge for licensing taxing smugglers and selling artifact the and taxing their sale. you will hear more about this from doctor alasa. there are steps we can take to pose little cost and no risk to american citizens. these are steps that we can take here in the united states and reduce the economic reward to isil. first of all, returning to the house next week i hope will be hr 1493. it will impose i'm port restrictions on cultural materials illegally removed from syria of at beginning of the rebellion in march of 2011. second, take up hr-2285 to improve customs inforesment of existing law. encourage law enforcement to refocus attention away from forfeiture of repatriation of objections and toward criminal prosecution and criminal networks be dismantled and higher networks week.
foster greater transparency and accountability in the market by requiring documentation of ownership history upon sale or donation to charitable institutions. finally we should be looking prospectively toward places where isil is moving such as libya which is also home to many archaeological sites. we need to develop a proactive, rather than reactive way of dealing with the problem of antiquities looting and marketing. thank you for this opportunity to address the task force. i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you, doctor. dr. alisam is now recognized for five minutes. >> i would like to begin thanking the finance committee and for inviting me to testify on important subject. i will focus my remarks on three key points. one, when isis took over large swaths of territory back in in 2014 it essentially took over preexistingization of looting. isis did not start the looting. it just carried on.
moreover, it institutionalized the process and intensified it to a great degree. in fact, what we can say isis seized cultural heritage as resource to be exploited like any other and we know this because isis has a dedicated department for the administration of the looting of antiquities. you can see here, for example, this is one of their offices in the city and placed under the -- it means the office of resources which also manages oil revenue, taxation and any other source of revenue that isis cares to use. through this office licenses like this one are issued to looters which are then given, which allow looters, gives permission to loot archaeological sites. in fact the purchase of a looting license is a source of revenue as are extensions as you see in this case here. this looter having dug up the
site, decided he needed an extension. so he purchases an extension and then needed to use heavy machinery, so in the second image on the right you can see that he purchases an actual extension to his license, allowing him to use heavy machinery. the heavy machinery, see it here now being used to gouge chunks of earth out of the site. if you don't think this is producing good material, here are some of the finds that came out of this one licensed site that was being looted. not only the, these, pieces of pottery but also as you can see, these bronze and metal items all dating, coming from a bronze age tomb complex. we also know that when isis licenses these sites, it also then requires the looter to sell the items. if he face to september them, then isis will fails to sell
them isis takes them back and have a major auction in raqqa. we know there is major auction in raqqa. it operates on regular basis, often three times a week if necessary. these three items were taken from the city of palmyras before isis was forced out of the city and sold about three weeks ago in the raqqa auction. i believe the asking price was $150,000. i can not tell you i can not confirm price that was achieved but that was the asking price. isis has, patty mentioned, also destroys cultural heritage. it does so however for propaganda purposes. it loots what it can sell. it destroys what it can not. large monuments like these end up being destroyed because they allow isis to demonstrates it ability to act with impune i at this and impotence of international community to do anything about it. it is powerful propaganda tool.
isis exploits it to great effect. in terms of also just to point out it is not just isis that loots. looting was also done about it regime. these two items were looted from paul maya but this when it was under regime control and they are currently on sale in syria and about to be exported to turkey by the dealer who has them. he purchased them from an army officer one year before isis took control of the site. what can we do about this? the destruction, efforts are being done to protect cultural heritage inside of syria. 70% of the syria's cultural heritage is actually outside regime-controlled areas and outside the reach of its government institutions. therefore it falls on non-state actors to local activists, museum curators and archeologists, and people like the day after with heritage initiative. we try to monitor the damage, we
try to monitor the destruction. we try to document any activity that occurs related to this but at the end of the day we're just civilians. we don't have the institutional support. we do get some help from organizations here in the united states like asol american school of oriental research and penn cultural center and and the antiquities coalition and others but this support is limited and there is hardly addresses the scale of catastrophe that we are facing. i would also touch upon the importance of why it is necessary to save this cultural heritage. i'm out of time. so i would be happy to answer that during questions. thank you. >> thank you, dr. alazm. >> chairman fitzpatrick, ranking member lynch, members of the committee and task force. thank you for allowing me to testify. i would like to thank the task force for the work to highlight complex nature of terrorism
financing including weekly email clips and stakeholders on the subject. i submitted my more detailed testimony for the record. i will focus on two points. one, problem of terrorism financing through conflict zone looting of conflict and money laundering and global art industry as representative lynch you accurately pointed out. the need for improved aml compliance and connection with art and cultural objects as an asset class which can only happen at intersection of art and financial industries. if we remove ability of terrorists to launder stolen and cultural art objects we remove the economic motive to loot the objects, cut off a key source of terrorism financing and make great strides towards protecting important parts of the world's cultural legacy. two, effective solutions are now within reach. aris reviewing with trade and financial regulators in the
u.s., u.k., switzerland, luxembourg and belgium information-based technology solutions to bring transparency to global art and antiquities transactions. at home aris believes fincen has authority to bring greater transparency and information sharing to the arts an quick at this times market and u.s. treasury and fincen i will discuss in a moment to detect and share information on anomaliestic patterns of behavior and art industry financial transactions. these patterns if identified can signal terrorism financing through looted art and cultural objection and trade-based trading in the art industry. ary. s has role of leading title insure surer in the industry serving broad range of stakeholders of financial markets lending against the asset class, capital markets investing in the asset class and
non-profit museum community as well as the trade. the problem is the of course, unregulated nature of the industry as you heard combined with a lack of record-keeping for transaction and sources of market nations all which obscures legal status and beneficial ownership. in aml context it prevents market participants from identifying patterns in illegal stems when identifying patterns is the occur of aml enforcement and compliance. compounding the problem is prevalence of free ports as you heard alluded to which are tax-free zones designed to serve as a weigh station valid transactions so the tax ultimately assigned is levied at the final destination of object but in fact these become locations to store works indefinitely that adds to the obfuscation in the art industry. the financial action task force on money laundering identified this problem as early as 2010.
to be sure, good faith, well-intended responsible operators of free ports in the market as a whole as well as regulators seek better systemic means to close the gap between aml's compliance regulations and practical barriers to enforcing them. so simply put, attacking terrorism financing using cultural objects and art is impeded by current inability to cross reference independently-reported and organized pieces of information to identify anomalies and suspicious activity. comptroller curren i of the commented in march of 2015 the need is for more accurate and timely information and the use of technology to close information gaps. we believe fincen has the authority to place art title insurance companies under the bsa for information sharing with safe harbor protection to ignite this kind of solution in the
industry that would enable detecting effective patterns. lastly, i mentioned technology solutions which are now underway to address the accurate information, lack of accurate information reliably linked to artistic and cultural objects. currently state university of new york's campus at albany through a non-profit organization called global center foreinnovation and itn standards, based solutions to nif, anci, enable technologies equivalent afnan know scale vehicle identification number for artistic objects and cultural objects is now within reach to anchor objects so that this information can be generated in the industry and provide reliable information. thank you. >> thank you, mr. shindell. thank you for all the witnesses testimony today. we'll first move to the members
questions. i will recognize the gentlelady from missouri, representative an wagner who previously served as ambassador to luxembourg which gives her special information on this subject. she is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for letting me jump ahead. thank you all for appearing before the task force today to discuss key elements terrorists abroad are using in order to obtain illicit financing. antiquities smuggling and sale of cut ral artifacts frankly has been occurring since the '80s and '90s under the regime of saddam hussein as you well know in order to avoid international sanctions. today the islamic state is using it to raise financing to fuel their operations and expand terrorism worldwide. understanding the prominence of this activity and it is critical for cutting off sources of funding for terrorists and
aiding in our efforts to eliminate isis. mr. shindell, it is great to see you again. mr. shin dell came to meet with me and my office back, i guess beginning of 2015 and we've an exploring this issue ever since. you note anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws are limited when it comes to the trade of cultural property because they are not explicitly covered in those laws standards. how can we best address money laundering through the art trade, sir? >> it really comes back to organizing the information. so we've heard a lot of testimony which is important about on the ground means to prevent the looting of the objects specifically but once it leaves the ground and enters the trade it is lack of a a systemic system to monitor what happens
to the object. between gaps of information, unreliability of information because of lack of means to verify, you know, export document, may be a forged document. so what happens is, there is a specific strategy in many circles of the industry to move up the ladder from less important trade sources to more important ones and each step of the way creates a veneer of credibility so that when the object gets to the good faith market, everything's out of control. and so a means that anchors information every step of the way, would shut down the problem. >> right. i'm sure you're keeping up with current events. was there an issue with stolen art involved in the recent "panama papers" issue? can you please briefly discuss the details of that? >> the "panama papers" situation highlights effectively what become as black hole in the industry because of lack of transparency.
none of us knows other than what has been reported in media so far, many objects that are implicated in that, the real problem one doesn't know because of the lack of transparency. so, yes, stolen object may end up in tax-driven facilities anchored in panama which enables hiding that kind of information. >> so uniform system that all can be a part of and buy into across the board is what is, i'm assuming necessary in this space. you mentioned briefly, mr. shindell, that your company submitted a request to fincen i believe in 2014 that art title insurance be subject to bank he secrecy act. could you please explain why you made that request, sir? >> it's a means to create information-sharing in the financial sector. so let's suppose a, one of the large banks in the united states has offered a basket of art objects, whether cultural
heritage objects or art as we might normally think of it for a loan transaction for $50 million. right now because of the lack of information-sharing that financial institution would have no way of knowing whether that same basket of asset was presented to six banks around the world in the last 30 days, each of which on different information, none of which is accurate, because their lens is limited to the transaction that is in front of them and, because of title insurer's role which the keystone to asset integrity and beneficial ownership information, it becomes in effect the vortex to organize this information and take what would be fractured noise to any individual institution, and turn it into reliable, curated privacy-protected information that can be deployed back to generate suspicious activity reports and so forth as banks are trying --
>> thank you, mr. shin spec dell dr. gerstenblith, financial information tax force force in 2014 said financial sector and should improve efforts to prevent suspicious transactions. what progress and additional steps -- i believe i have run out of time can the private sector take to improve these efforts? >> i would like to point out the moment is not necessarily clearly illegal to bring antiquities from syria into the united states. they have not been included in the ofac signing shuns and there is no general principle. >> well, that's a huge hole, yes. >> yeah, sorry. yes. which would be, we hope plugged very soon. and that is not even a criminal provision. that is only going to be something that leads to civil forfeiture. before we go to more advanced things we need to do that. >> i thank you. i yield back remainder of none of my time is left and hope my colleagues will explore that
further. thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> ranking member about task force, mr. lynch, is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. and just following up, miss wagner's line of questioning, it might be profitable for us to look at the "panama papers" side of this as well some suggested legislation. i know in the past on the issue of terrorist financing we have gone to jordan, to morocco, other places where we've asked their legislature and their leadership to adopt anti-money laundering or antiterrorist financing legislation in those countries so that we dot have a means of enforcement. mr. fanusie, and also mr. shin dell, i have a question. the regularly traveling to are iraq.
we went to anbar province, many of us numerous times on southern turkey on the syrian border and, we've haan opportunity to meet with rebel groups operating in syria, against bashar al-assad. a lot of those groups there, including isil, are using the social media platform, whatsapp and, just going back to, to mr. shindell's question about the chain of custody on some of these artifacts, what is coming out of syria and iraq and source of origin, that whole issue, is there a way for us to interdict -- i know they're marketing and selling these antiquities, in many cases on whatsapp, that, you know, that social media platform. is there any way for us to
standing there photographing and passing that information on to us. what happens to information afterwards is really the big question. how it is used effectively. >> there are three ingredients to make these solutions work. one is the means to anchor the object so everyone knows this is the exact object we're talking about. to then anchor verified information to that exact object. the one knows the image actually belongs to the object that is moving in the market and also that be a disconnect around that. and the third is a means to organize that information to identify the anomalies and the technology world today we speak of it in terms of predictive analytics, and other things that
can instantly say through information generated at a different timeline in a different part of the world, the object that just came up on whatsapp is a issue. those are the three ingredients. >> i would just add, there's an opportunity because as we know of law enforcement, with social media, social media can be used to go after criminals and go after smugglers outside of antiquities. there actually are, if whatsap whatsapp, ebay, facebook, as the platforms are being used to market antiquities, the interdiction can come from law enforcement getting involved on those platforms. >> we've had some issues with the encryption piece of that. that's probably why it's a platform of choice i think right now. i probably should've said this at the beginning. thank you, each of you, for your work on this issue. we have really benefited greatly
by your expertise and your willingness to work with the committee. thank you. i yield back. >> i now yield five minutes to the chairman o of the house committee on foreign affairs, mr. royce. >> mr. chairman, i want to thank you and also want to thank mr. lynch as well for your work on this issue. i just returned from the middle east where i was honored to speak at the iraq museum in baghdad about the need to counter this trafficking of priceless antiquities. one of the great shock when you're in that part of the world is to realize just as the third reich in germany tried to destroy so much history with a book burning and history of the german tribes, just tried, destroying evidence that went before. here you have isis and the taliban and groups like that that are united in their concept of just trying to destroy all
evidence of the city and civilization, babylonian, any christian examples of churches or art in that region. and i think the appalling aspect of it when you consider that you see some of these isis spokesman and other islamists talk about taking the pyramids down rick by brick, you begin to realize from what we saw in afghanistan as well, when they talk about wiping out evidence of buddhist civilization, they mean it. they really are committed to this goal. palmyra would be a case in point. but at the same time for the small antiquities that they can sell for the hard currency, they are not beyond engaging in that kind of criminal activity. i was going to ask dr. gerstenblith, we have, doctor, i know how much you work on this over the years and we have the
build eliot engel and i've introduced, 1493, to try to address this. this is coming back from the senate this week. could you speak maybe about this concept of protecting and preserving cultural property through this kind of legislation? >> thank you, mr. royce come and thank you for your leadership on h.r. 1493. as i mentioned, currently there is no legal mechanism clearly implies that would prohibit the import of antiquities from syria into the united states. i will say the same situation applies to libya were i so seems to be moving next. so in order to prevent these objects from coming to the united states, but perhaps more importantly, to convince the middleman and the dealers and the looters along the way that they would not eventually be able to sell these things in the united states. it's important that they understand that the united states will not ultimately be a market for these looted objects.
and holding i cutting down on market demand can we convince those middlemen that they will earn less money or no money and it works its way back to the people on the ground. in that way if these objects are not a salable, then isil also earn less money from the antiquities looting. >> would also were in north africa in tunisia and we saw the results of the attacker on the museum in tunisia. this is isis now in libya to come over the border and carries out attacks specifically against museums and, of course, in libya they are destroying these cultural artifacts that date back to the carthaginian period or roman. maybe i can ask mr. fanusie, can you expand on why terrorists and criminal groups like isis are so attracted to antiquities
smuggling as a means of getting that revenue, that hard currency? and can we approach this in the same way as we did on the legislation that we had authored on blood diamonds, some methodology to try to shut down the ability to traffic in this? >> yes. i think there are some parallels. for the first part of your question, it's a unique strategic resource. ifill look at isil, all of the revenue that they get, much of what they have gotten they have gotten early on was from, taken over territory, and dispossessing the people that they took over. but antiquities provides this opportunity for them to consistently continued to get new resources. you have a flowing resource of revenue, and you of willing partners are willing people who are there to do. that's a real strategic benefit, something they can do a set order, they institutionalize it
and have intensified a. in terms of blood diamond, i think the parallel is we have the ability to change the conversation to sort of shift the perception in the public that you should understand how diamonds, where they were produced. i think we can learn from some of that approach, but also with the blood diamonds issue that was some concerns about credibility and accountability. we can learn, or art lessons learned from may be ways that didn't work well enough so there are parallels. >> the bill will be coming back this week. we'll have a chance to vote on the bill that this tingle and i authored come and i appreciate this forum to discuss the need for us to act quickly. thank you very much. >> thank you as well for your leadership on that important issue. the gentleman from michigan is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you to the panel for very interesting and important presentations. i wonder if i could ask
mr. shindell if you spend a minute or two expand a bit on your comment on free ports, the use of reports as it relates to antiquities. i guess the concern i have is it appears that, for so i guess the main question would be to what extent are we seeing freeport used as a message to cloak the transactions related to antiquities? are we seeing multiple transactions taking place in the dark that make it more difficult to track the chain of title? and what other difficulties do you see in terms the way reports might be used in the context of this question? >> so within the category of free ports, there are also free zones and in our written testimony the are several thousand free zones around the world as well as our industry recognized free ports. they are always stations if you
will come in the movement of these assets. and, of course, most of the industry is using those facilities for correct and legitimate purposes. the problem is the nature of the industry and the rapidity with which things move in the industry make it very difficult for customs and border officials around the world to know whether the information that's been provided in the paperwork as works go in and leave is valid, becomes a blanket that obscures accurate information which is then drives trade based money laundering in general and the movement of cultural artifacts as well. i would estimate that the use of free ports right now is less for cultural artifacts that are in general, but it's also on the rise as people sort of listen to the beating drums in the industry. because they become challenging, and as a result lack of clarity
that enables the movement of the asset. >> would you be able to suggest any potential changes that would mitigate against the use of free ports or other tax havens in order to execute transactions related to antiquities, for example, extending safe harbor protections to brokers and dealers, other individuals involved in these forms of transactions in order to provide information that could be helpful to law enforcement authorities? >> the real problem is no one of those parties has enough information to associate it with anything else. so it becomes noise, and that's why we've been focusing so much at a state university of new york's global initiative has been creating ways to organize that information. there are good cases of a strategy but intel you create a means to organize the information holistically, a very
complex amalgam of information driven by the high mobility and international nature of the market becomes the ultimate obstacle that has to be overcome. >> and one last question directed to dr. gerstenblith, although others may comment, and that question is to what extent is this -- is satellite imagery available to those in academia in order to evaluate existing sites, sites that might be currently under the control of isis or others sort of before and after? are you able to gain access to satellite imagery in order to make evaluations as the extent of the work that is being done in? >> several groups, private groups, some a partnership with the state department and the american association of advancement of science have had access to the government to satellite imagery. one question is, however, there
are some gaps and we don't have a satellite imagery but have not made public by schützi are made available to researchers so far. for example, with the condition of palmyra was just before the offensive was taken over. it's been difficult to assess how much damage was done by the russians and perhaps the assad regime as they took the site as opposed to what was done earlier by isil. by the satellite images have at least to some extent been made available have been very important because people can go in on the ground to find out what's happening. it's not a perfect to what is the tool we have accessible to as. and from that there's a group at the university of chicago that is working to quantify not only numbers of holes in the ground which, of course, there are many thousands and thousands, but also to determine based on excavation reports, also cite some objects are coming out. and again by using algorithms
spread out over periods of time and large quantity of data to come up with an actual assessment of how many and what types of artifacts have been looted under iso- control, and then dashed the isil control. and in depth market study to try to come up with a realistic number of dollars to give how much money are we talking about. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i see my time has expired. i think you and the ranking member for holding this hearing, and for the panel for your really important testimony. >> the chair now recognizes the vice chairman, gentleman from north carolina, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. shindell or dr. al-azm, what are the legal privacy laws that would compete us in our ability to deal with the art dealers, the financial institutions, auction houses, insurance companies in transfer of information? and suspicious activity. what can we do in that regard?
>> i don't think the problem is the current state of the privacy laws, but rather getting the core information to them, provide wit what the industry wd refer to as curated privacy protected information. so if we go back to the example i used a minute ago of the bank loan scenario where there were now a means to associate a series of transactions around the world that were the same assets to provide a response back to the current financial institution, that would then trigger the aml suspicious activity reporting regime and all the privacy issues around that, law enforcement or so what would then happen is the system would no their suspicious activity around these particular objects that are being used potentially for some problem or
another, whether it's straight face money laundering or terrorist financing. and then the system we have in place would trigger under its existing rules and regulations. so i don't think we need a change in what's private or not, but organizing the information to provide curated privacy protected but effective information for intervening. >> thank you. so this deals most with just the transfer of information that would be compatible, that we would have access to certain data? >> correct. from a high level. so you would know, the bank would know, for example, the objects were at risk. they would have -- >> thank you. targeted sanctions. give me some insight into that, how we would address that considering the middleman and private collectors. they don't have anything to do with isis, but how would we impose sanctions speak was sanctions could be imposed on the import.
in other words, the antiquities from syria should be listed on the sanctions list. we have been asked twice that in the to do that and has so far refused to do so. if i could go back for just a moment, the last question also, there's a great deal of secrecy. buyers, the name of a seller is never made public when sold through an auction house. the our agency of fiduciary agreements with the auction house. those names are not published and require a court order and the court process to get the name of a seller. the buyers frequently are also not made public. things are sold through the internet without names at all. so i think there's a huge amount of secrecy. maybe i'm looking at on a more microscale than mr. shindell. >> i appreciate hearing that. >> i think you could do a lot to be done that would require that kind of information. >> i would just add most of the material coming out of the ground right now is not even making the market.
it's just being sold, transacted between dealers, and it never sees the main market. so most of this is actually academic when it comes to material currently being looted. >> i could clarify the privacy item a bit further. >> we would like to know if it's necessary for it to be public for law enforcement to be engaged in it. >> as a title insurance company, we function as a safe haven or safe harbor where the information that's kept secret marketwide is disclosed to us under confidentiality provisio provisions. because we need to have that transparency to do our job. and that information only becomes relevant if there in fact is a problem or suspicious activity. and that becomes the information sharing element under the bsa, for example. we would agree industry in many
respects operates privacy reasons, many of which are legitimate, many of which are not, and that can be managed but it's not as though the industry from our standpoint -- >> thank you very, very much. talked to me some more about money laundering and what can be done there to address that issue. >> i believe that this is something like a bridge, military if you take a projected ticket for both ends. obviously, there's the buying and/or the demand and but there's also the supply end. i cannot speak you on the supply-side because that's the site as they do, that's beside i work with. really the best thing we can do right now is to try and document as much as possible what is coming out of the ground and that is really a huge task that is what we are focused on. our problem is how do we then
managed to pass this information on, what mechanisms are available to us in terms of being able to share this information. and more important how the information is then used to pursue a retreat at some point, or even interject to prevent further transactions. >> thank you. my time has expired. thank you. >> the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, panel, for a very informative discussion. i'm wondering if dr. gerstenblith can answer this question or if, not dr. gerstenblith but perhaps another panelist. is there an estimate at all of the number of americans who may have purchased illicit artifacts or antiquities over the last 10 years from the middle east? can we quantify that in any way? >> i think i would be very difficult, partly because i can
with antiquities, because they are unknown and undocumented, proving what is legal and illegal is extremely difficult. so you have to go object by object and make a determination first of what is legal or illegal. but i would certainly say, you including purchase anyway including internet -- >> with estimates of the total value of the transactions. somehow we're getting those estimates. some kind of trying to get some of the data behind those estimates. >> i would only say the united states is largest market for these kinds of antiquities. and my guess, if you include everything for antiquities, you are at least talking about tens of thousands of people. it's not -- >> and the value for the american purchasers? >> do you have that? >> what's the bifurcation between americans and europeans
speak with 43%, england is the second, you get is the second largest at 22%. we are double the next largest single market for art over all. at the dollar value of art, fine art, is much higher than the dollar value of antiquities. but the contours are probably similar and it's also a function of taste and traditions of the united states them that's what collectors collect is better trained antiquities. i think authority wants to add to that spirit i wasn't sure if you wanted to touch on customs data which a dozen specific it into the question of who, but it is possible. one of the things that we've done is look at changes in customs data around artifacts or antiques but again that data is for legal purchases, at least ostensibly legal purchases that have come in from elsewhere but that is dated just come into the united states that might've transited through various countries. you can look at the data to get
a sense of how the tide has risen with certain categories, categories of items in antiques but again that's what we know and that's what people say legitimately, but they are legitimately imported into the country. but not for individual assessment. >> i imagine in the industry there is a separation in dealers. there are legitimate ones who are looking at whether these artifacts are providence to come and others. are there any obligations that the dealer has to know the silicon who the seller is? even though it's a private transaction we may not know who the seller is the remain under the buyer is but is there any obligation on the part of the dealer who will be conducting a transaction to know who the seller is? >> there is no legal obligation on the part of the dealer to
know who it is a seller or the buyer is as long as the dealer is getting whatever finances they want to get out of the arrangement. even at the top in the market. just in the past month at christie's, top into public auction, several pieces were picked up by law enforcement that came from asia, from southeast asia, and a couple of pieces were picked up that were classical antiquities. so even from the people that you think would be doing the most research, where the fault lies is another question perhaps, but clearly illegal antiquities surface even at the top in as well as all the way through the market. >> what can we be doing to prevent that from happening? >> i had some suggestions in my written comments, but i think we need better tracking of objects, what's tracking, no tracking which leaving the country. i think we could require that
these kinds of documents be maintained and made payable to law enforcement. right now law enforcement needs a search warrant before they can get information about who is selling what. there is a number of things about making this a higher priority over all. the number of antiquities that, packages that are searched coming into the country through customs is really minimal and it depends on which port you are coming through. some don't know anything about antiquities trafficking. some like new york have so much that comes in at only if you declare something above a certain value will to even look at it. so over all this is just not considered a high priority by law enforcement, especially custom site i would say. and there's far too little prosecutions enacted with illegal customs actions, violations of customs law. customs in general is happy if they can seize and forfeit and repatriate something. they have a beautiful
repatriation ceremony. it does nothing to stop the illegal trade. people are happy to give an object back. only to give criminal, the threat of criminal enforcement and the possibility of jail time with you perhaps really start to reach the market. market. >> my time is expired. yield back. >> the gentleman from texas is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thanks to the panel. i first saw want to say hello to my good friend and fellow texan, mr. at cell. you are a texas treasure. we appreciate you. mr. at the, i was glad to see the monument and received the congressional medal for their contributions to protecting artifacts during world war ii last year. your country vision cannot be understated and parcel of the like it is local to us but to support the effort. my question, my first question to you said a major benefit of the money was spent effort was a noncombatant in job were grateful to outlet force is the only for liberating them but for preserving the cultural history
of the continent. would you elaborate on that? and deeply the same would be true if we were better able to save antiques and other cultural objects in the middle east today? >> thank you for your kind remarks, and thank you for your for all of your colleagues for the support of the legislation toward the monument spent the congressional gold medal to it was quite a moment. yes, i believe that the united states would be looked upon favorably by nations of goodwill throughout the world. and i think the evidence is irrefutable because look at what happened in 2003 in the aftermath of the american-led invasion of iraq. not getting into the issue of whether we should question up in there but it raised the issue what is the responsibility of the united states or any force wind in the foreign country protecting assets. are failing to take care cost a numbers damage to the country's reputation around the world. i know from experience and
anything monuments didn't touch a monuments been come through so much skepticism because so much of the damage in europe was a result of allied bombing and artillery to soften up landing beaches. time and time again the people expressed appreciation for the fact that you to get rid of the bad guys, get troops on the ground. and when his efforts to affect temperate repairs and at the end of the war, with the breakup of civilization return some of the 4 million objects, 4 million that these hundred or 200 women without any technology, no computers managed to get back to the countries for which they are taken. so i think there's no question, yes. >> are we doing enough as a nation to safeguard the cultural heritage and what more can we give? >> this is a great question and is the challenge of of our time. it makes no sense for us to be sending modern-day monuments men, people with blue shield and patty's organization into harm's way without force protection.
it worked and what you because we have 3 million troops in europe, but to say that because we can't put troops on the ground can we can't do anything is ridiculous. the united states as a leader in technology and we are not using all the tools necessary to try and put him into a lot of these things. we discuss and there've been good questions are of the panel about steps that can be taken going forward. the are two realities about collectors that are inarguable. they love to show people what they've got a that's a problem if it's hot. they hate losing money. that's a problem if you be monetized illegally owned works of art. i'm not talking just about objects that come from these war zones but going back to nazi looted art, works of art stolen from the museum from mr. lynch is part of the world. objects that are stolen from churches in italy, all over the world.
these things don't ge get stolen unless there's someone to buy them. they don't get stored in these tax-free zones in the summer thinks eventually the spotlight will move away and there will be collectors second bite them. so if we have some process to register works of art, perhaps this should be a threshold, where there's a clean bill of sale. ..
so i'm not really interested in hearing someone tell me all the difficulties of why something can't be done today when we can read a credit card from base. the so the technology there, the question is the process of addressing the divination or determination of the cell sale of looted antiquities and this increased reporting bring transparency because he was against transparent if we bring that into the arena we are not only cutting down on trafficking services for organized crime for iss and other terrorist organizations, but the internal revenue service will get more of the revenue that will take the burden off of tax payers and have to carry the share of people in the system. ill return works of art from the places they were stolen. there's no downside to doing this. just a matter of will. >> thank you for her testimony.
i yield my time back, mr. chairman. >> gentleman from arkansas mr. hill's recognizer five minutes. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your work on this important topic. it was great to see the remaining monument of the families and is really touching. i want to target talk about motivation. as an iss or other motivations in the destruction and marketing of these cultural items trying to establish cultural superiority. it's not what drives people when they do that sometimes? if you look at the murex. in world war ii, didn't hitler want to capture all of this art in having an possession? >> estimate significant back there. no question if you look over the 20th century and regular
little bit of that is his to rehear. the genocide that end up happening during world war ii weren't incarcerated immediately because there is a key component of the theft and destruction of objects in the process of humiliation. we are going to detain you. we will put you in concentration camps. but while you are alive, we are going to steal the things which define you as a civilization. we are going to kill you later on but we are not going to do it yet. we have seen that in mali, the destruction and to not view of islamic treasures people supporting to be followers of islam. these are treasured relics that define a civilization in the process begins by destroying them and now we have not really a modern twist. i think when you look back over
germany, you want to talk about institutionalizing the looting. the amount of resources very dedicated and organized way trust, planes, to move around western civilization to the church bell from the cathedral, drives and statutes was extraordinary and a distraction to the war. prices may not have quite the resources at this point in time for that degree of organization. there's a strong incentive for good and i think certainly the things that are a movable or a grave risk being destroyed. we saw that with al qaeda in 2001. we see it now a ball being the end sell them and convert them to cash. >> i think this is a cultural
genocide just like we are guaranteeing religious inhuman genocide in the middle east or the great tragedy and one better administration not been behind the curve ball for multiple years and others in europe and russia as well. i'm also interested in 1493 why limit this to dr. gerstenblith. for example, why don't we ban cultural treasures from other countries? how do we determine these are reason versus something that actually has evolved in the marketplace. are we hurting much in demand antiquities trade potentially. and finally, are we enabling the a side regime which you testified here today is just as district about the cultural treasures as isis ever was and why we therefore institutionalized their control of this iphones. they then sell them themselves.
>> i'm not sure how we're institutionalizing are helping the assad regime. if they were forfeited -- >> title is transferred to the united states government. i don't think that will happen as long as assad is in power. who knows what government is going to emerge at the end of the day, but i would imagine this to be at a point when relations are normalized with whatever government in syria. i don't see this as helping out the regime. i agree that they ardoing off the bat things, too. what we call the normal -- there is a normal process in place on the convention of implementation act for imposing restrictions on cultural materials from countries that ask her assistant that has to start with a request from the country.
syria has not done not in the past. libya, tunisia, morocco, none of them have done that. any number of other countries in the middle east are at risk. so that is the reason why 1493 needed to bypass primarily just that requirement of a request. 1493 is written so again at the point when relations are not wise between the united states and the syrian government in the future, the government is expected to bring a request under the normal process. how this helps if it changes the burden of proof. so if i show up at the border that may have recently come from syria, one that matches the designated list come in the state department and homeland security promulgate. now has to show syria before march of 20 another in. that helps law enforcement significantly. at the same time do not impose a burden on the importer or the
industry because showing where why is for five years ago shouldn't be that difficult. so that documentation needs to be offered. there's a couple other ways of showing documentation, but basically at that point it would be a portable into the united states. this present the best of both worlds do not overly burden the trade, but at the same time prevent the recently looted on objects which both the assad government may be receiving funding. present this coming to the united states now and into the future. >> thank you at the gentleman from kentucky for five minutes. thank you, mr. chairman. thanks for your leadership on this important hearing. there is nothing more disgraceful about what these terrorist organizations are
doing than what we hear about today. the international council of museums described the situation as a larger scale mass destruction of cultural heritage since the second world war. the united nations educational scientific and cultural education direct or considers the islamic state destruction of heritage sites in iraq and syria to be an international war crime of the global financial integrity group conservatively averaged an aggregated the figures to estimate the value of the illicit trade of cultural property may range between 3.4 and 6.3 billion annually. my question to you in following up mr. hillside questioning, and reading the statistics about the individual islamic state looters, one estimate is the islamic state is actually pillaging the historical and cultural antiquities site.
where the they are only taking about 1% not a top and most of the profits from the illicit trade of antiquities is coming to the benefit of the middleman who are engaged in ministry at my question is obviously the dispenser is the revenue for the islamic state. but is it more a matter of wiping now the cultural and religious artifacts that are inconsistent with their twisted ideology of the terrorist organizations. are they equal motives always one predominant? i'm sure it's a slippery slope tried to be an analyst for a safe and what is going on in that there had. i think what we can say is if we
can find a way to distance and by eliminating or reducing the revenue making opportunities of these things, we at least are cutting down on one of the main reasons it's happening. there is little we can do about addressing the ideological motivations for destroying things. again, i emphasize i have people all the times they why don't we have monuments than? it would be a suicide mission to send the troops into harms way without having horse protection. but the world changed its monuments men and we have all sorts of western, nonmilitary weapons that we are not using that i should say are evolving. this use of aerial photography to the developments on the
ground and others are really pioneering the use of 3-d technology to do it in the jury that these non-movable objects so that they are damaged or destroyed they could be rebuilt. people are thinking about these things now. this is a positive step to dr. gerstenblith. you both mention potential raids with the trade of antiquities fighting terror sanctions by the country off as against antiquities smugglers and buyers. also the angle bill on restrictions on syrian antiquities, what is the best approach to diminishing the demand for these looted antiquities? and all of the above approach? >> all of the above in the sense that we've made quite a few recommendations that can be used from different angles. i think when you talk about sanctions and what we're trying
to get at it as there's a difference between the threat of prosecution and the threat of having your assets are used or the asset of people close to you. so sanctions, even though a bit of a bold move provide a potentially greater than tears. it's how effective they can do, but in my remaining time if i can editorialize a little bit, i appreciate the added pc and i agree with you. i support there was legislation. because the motivation is not entirely profit driven and finance driven and because it's an evil toxic ideology, ultimately, the only way we are going to protect the antiquities is to take back the territory that these radical jihadists control and ultimately will have
to happen in order for us to in the long run reserve and protect these sites. i yield back. they might gentleman from maine is recognized for five minutes. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you all very much for being here. mr. edsel, let me ask you, as more and more pressure is put on ice this, hopefully from the western world to stop this horrible pillaging of our human history, and do you think there is going to be -- there will be different avenues that these folks will use to boot into so the antiquities? >> different than what they are doing now? >> yes. can you look down the road and extract the latest bar pressures put on combat and from this part of the world what their reaction
will be when it comes to funding the terrorists are today's news in the of funding. >> if we are sick vessel, i agree. our focus should read on what to do now because we are seated that opportunity away once isis gained control of these areas. to ask what we should do, that is the wrong question. but we should be doing is thinking about what are we going to do about where they are going next with this libya or some other area. they will take the same type operation. if there's oil revenue, that is a simple, fungible, immediately profitable way to generate revenue. but that doesn't mean because that's the majority of revenues that we should be concerned about cultural treasures.
in particular, where 5% of the people of the united states trying to figure out how to get along with 95% of people in the world. the currency that connects people around the world are cultural treasures. sports, music, works of art. we don't necessarily look at the world that way. if we want to do ambassadorial for an ability not the united states and the world, showing respect for cultural treasuries which is the hallmark policy during world war ii we will do more than all of the foreign aid we are giving away. >> do you think that isis as it spreads its ideology and becoming much more active, have you seen the same sort of illicit activity in that part of the middle east? >> not a question i'm qualified to answer. i know we have for people that are.
three for sure. >> we do know we have taken control of major archaeological studies in their territory and libya. there has been some anecdotal information. we don't have satellite imagery yet it in the dead and stolen from libya. if i could have quickly there's one big difference. if you're getting revenue from oil, will want to. that is why we need to control through the market. >> one other thing. if you want to talk about the war going around, that areas of concern and libya are the very areas that the very first monuments men started work in 1943 in north africa and not to >> them in other areas. we are right back to where we've been 70 years. >> do you think that purchases -- a purchase source of this artwork of these pieces
in america, are they aware -- let me rephrase that, sir. do you know of illicit artifacts having been purchased by americans? >> selected artifacts not necessarily from this area. from the area we are talking about in the contemporary sense of antiquities. i don't have any personal knowledge, no. >> and anybody else on the panel answer that question? when folks purchase this type of artwork here in america, with the probability that in fact it is obtained? >> i can, and on the good-faith market and a not good faith market like in any other sector. the good faith market is trying as hard as they can to avoid acquiring for sally by taking
implicated assets today. there's been different eras in the art world of the world has matured around these issues. there's no question at the same time that things fall through the cracks despite the good faith effort. >> are talking about the faith efforts of americans? in the european market as well. ever acting in good faith, they are doing their best to stare at our problematic assets in an environment where the information is limited and often inaccurate. >> can you think of another way where we can avoid the heavy hand of u.s. government getting off to help in some way these folks make sure that they're good faith effort is supported? >> the analogy i would use and i know i really think it's the answer. if we look to the pharmaceutical industry, which 20 years ago had
enormous problems with drug is still somewhat of a problem today but far better than it was. it wasn't until the entire supply distribution chain as we would use different words in the art world came together and created systemic solution that enabled assuring the integrity of the object. here we have the same dynamic is certain ways. we have ideological motivation that are trying to eradicate identities. i suppose at the same time as long as we torn it down instead of burning it or destroy it, we'll get the money and further terrorism. a lot of the ideas are multidimensional and good ones on how who's on the ground on the grounds that a speaker at this site protest the ideological distraction and how do we create lots of different barriers that ultimately to incentivize everyone in the
trade and the sequence from monetizing good >> amr al-azm. >> the gentleman from ohio is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. a lot of great questions authority been asked. i would like to follow on to some of those questions. i've got a question for mr. fansie. he said in your statement if we could make declaring antiquities a property crime and national security priority, we can start to reform things and that we made to make it an intelligence law enforcement priority. how would we go about doing that? is that an executive action? is there a lot of required to make that happen? how could we make that happen quickly? >> one of the key things is very
good resources to lead the effort. we already have institutions and banks operating in dealing with the issue. but we should have greater resources of those. a huge role in this. the issue of cultural diplomacy is something we could leverage more. a lot of what we talked about goes to public perception. so there is a potential for a to emphasize them highlight in our diplomas did this issue, the cultural property issue. you know, if you think about him i mentioned earlier blood diamonds and you can also think about wildlife trafficking and deferred industry. desired in this tree is right there is -- you can have a cozy at a mall or something people are familiar with because they deal with them every day, diamonds. but we don't have that in the
same sense of antiquities. i also said dhs, customs, isis, you are to have unit dedicated to coming into the country so that is the structure we could elevate for due diligence from people who may be dealing with, maybe bringing antiquities into the country. so we have within our government i think a lot of the arteries. at the nsc, the national vote, there's an opportunity to have greater coordination. i know authorities talking about legislation, but to see how the nsc operates, there's definitely opportunity there within that body to help coordinate efforts. >> we have talked a little bit with other members about the legislation that is pending,
that would end importation of certain antiquities. from the perspective that the panel, but other ledges native proposals he talked about pedigree earlier for lack of a better word or, you know, getting the recent authorship from antiquities in our training, what other legislative proposal should be pursued if we are going to get at this problem? >> h.r. 2285 authority referred to out of the homeland security committee that would streamline the way customs operate in two parts of homeland security with the customs and border protection and immigration which they don't do terribly well in the field at least.
in 1990. so there are in fact several steps to be taken beyond 2285 but not legislatively for example. the number of court can be research it. the key is developed to recognize things. i'm the first to admit that the very edge gear and narrow area of the law. the number of people who we trained either as agents for the united states attorneys should be limited. we can concentrate the expertise and therefore have better outcomes of lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and the light. >> are there in the today that have some expertise that is marad? >> new york versus most active. because of that, i haven't been told in it totally until you
declare something that's worth at least $250,000 that they don't expect it. there are a couple of other poised in particular in this house. there are a couple from central and south america like you said, santa fe, coming to send disco, l.a. so sometimes people read these to report that don't have a lot. for example, a group of chinese antiquities were picked out were they probably don't have -- geographically it makes sense they don't have the expertise. i think we can concentrate and thereby build both of the u.s. attorneys offices to have a trained expert at the main justice would take on the cases did we have a very effective fbi crime scene that could use higher priority. but i don't think we had the
same level expertise within customs and we don't have it within the u.s. security office other than probably the southern district of new york. i also think both federal prosecutors and judges should understand when there is a criminal conviction, there is the possibility of jail time. there's a special cultural heritage guidelines put in place for 12 years. it is not used enough. there's a lot that can be done with education, consolidation of resources which will produce more effect if law enforcement and better criminal sentencing outcome in appropriate circumstances. >> thank you, dr. gerstenblith for everything you've worked for and testified for it today. my time is expired. i yield back my nonexistent balance of time. >> i'm going to give myself five minutes. i will ask the staff your original side, which is you went
through in your opening statement at a moment i'll ask you in more detail if you can explain that slide into more detail. this is the second one. this is the actors that. first i want to ask mr. fanusie a quick question. the fbi issued a warning in 2015. those involved in the trafficking of islamic day, antiquities can be prosecuted under material support, terrorism provisions. to your knowledge has the fbi ever applied the stripes of charges? >> i haven't heard any name for antiquities. i have not heard of any team. >> ha ha investigations? any and total evidence? i don't have anecdotal evidence except in the bulletin that states the fbi is aware that
people have been approached -- buyers have been approached. i assume there should be investigations going on. publicly i haven't seen an opinion as to what the obstacles are to investigation. >> i'm sorry. >> the obstacles to the investigations. someone >> some adjustments in u.s. attorneys office. cultural property is not the most well-known topic for investigators. even though the does have a good team, if you think about all of the agents all over the country and it's not the word, cultural property is not something that's probably the most -- but i'm not the most expertise in all of our offices with all of our agents. >> dr. gerstenblith -- >> you can watch the rest of the hearing on the sale and destruction of antiquities by isis on our web way. go to c-span.org.
we will be pure for the start of the senate session after 10:00 boat on an energy policy modernization bill, senators will start debate on the water spending bill. the first of a dozen appropriations bills senators have to consider this year. live coverage of the senate. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, your works are great and marvelous. we praise you for the gift of this day and rededicate ourselves to serve our nation in a way that honors you.
lord, we confess that we too often bring you the leftovers of our time, talents, and trust, but empower us to offer you nothing less than our best. bless our senators. give them the compassion, courage, and wisdom that our times demand. use them to touch our nation and world in a way that will enable your will to be done. dwell in us all and make us productive for the betterment of humanity. we pray in your great name.
amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: under a new republican majority, the senate is getting back to work, and progress is being made on behalf of the american people. we saw another example of that yesterday when we passed the most pro-passenger, pro-security f.a.a. reauthorization in years. it's are the product of
dedicated work from senator thune, senator ayotte and the ranking member counterparts, senators nelson and cantwell. these senators ensured republicans and democrats both had a say on this bill and we ultimately arrived at balanced legislation that passed by a very strong bipartisan majority. it makes -- it takes important strides to bolster national security against the threat of terrorism. it contains provisions to help frustrated passengers. and it won't levy a nickel and tax or fees on passengers or impose the kind of overregulation that can take away their choice or threaten service. as "the washington post" reminded us, this is the second major transportation bill approved by the senate within five months. so whether it's providing long-term solutions for highway funding or permanent tax relief for families and small small businesses or commonsense reforms for airline passengers
and airport security, this much is clear, the republican-led senate is working to address issues that affect our constituents on a daily basis. now, mr. president, passing the f.a.a. reauthorization bill isn't the only legislative milestone we'll mark this week. today we'll pass, as "the new york times" put it, the first major energy bill to come to the senate floor since the bush administration. the passage of which, as the paper has also noted, would represent a significant step forward for the nation's energy policy. it has been nearly a decade since the senate last debated major energy legislation, and much has changed in that time. that's why senator murkowski, the energy committee chair, and senator cantwell, the ranking member, worked for the past year to move broad bipartisan energy legislation, the energy policy modernization act. like the f.a.a. reauthorization
bill i mentioned earlier, this bill won't raise taxes on american families, but it can help them by making energy more affordable and more abundant. by building on technological advances and bolstering national security, by growing the economy and furthering innovation. in short, the bill before us takes a comprehensive approach to bring america's energy policies in line with the kind of challenges and opportunities we now face. the bill managers worked through to bring this bill to final passage following the most comprehensive reauthorization in years, the republican-led senate will today pass the first major energy bill in nearly a decade. it's broad, it's bipartisan, it's just the kind of legislation we're seeing a lot of in a republican-led senate that continues to show what's possible with good ideas and good old hard work. and finally, on the topic of
hard work, the reason the republican-led senate has been able to pass so much good legislation over the past year is because we resolved to put this chamber back to work. that started with the committees. we've seen what's possible in the commerce committee. just look at the f.a.a. bill. we've seen what's possible in the energy committee. just look at the energy bill. but we're also seeing what's possible in many other committees like appropriations. last year the committee passed all 12 of the bills that fund the government. passing all of those bills through committee used to be fairly routine. yet, it hadn't happened in years by the time the new majority took over. we changed that last year. we resolve to do even more this year. the committee has again gotten the appropriations process off to a strong starpt, and now would like to pass as many of the funding bills as possible out here on the senate floor. getting this done will require cooperation from across the aisle.
our democratic friends wrote a letter pledging cooperations in the appropriations process. this is a win-win opportunity they said and we should seize it together. with the appropriate cooperation, we will and we are. the appropriations committee has already conducted more than 40 hearings since january. tomorrow they'll mark up two more funding bills which follows their action last week to pass two others on a bipartisan and unanimous basis. we're about to consider one of those funding bills out here on the floor. the energy and water appropriations bill is thoughtful, bipartisan legislation that will ensure a fiscally responsible approach to a variety of issues, things like national security, energy innovation, waterways and economic development. i look forward to talking more about it tomorrow, and i'd like to thank senator alexander and senator feinstein for their many hours of hard work on that bill.
i'd also like to recognize chairman cochran for everything he's done with ranking member mikulski to get the appropriations process moving forward. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i'm happy to be here and have the republican leader talk about the things we've been able to accomplish. but i would note, just to make sure the record's clear, the reason these things are happening is because we have a minority that is willing to work with the majority. the record should also be corrected to the effect that we had over the last seven and a half years lots of debates on energy. lots of them. the problem is they have gone no place because of the obstruction of my republican colleagues. filibuster after filibuster, the bill that we are going to soon
dispose of, i'm glad, it's really an important piece of legislation, it was worked on for five years, led by senator shaheen. but it's really difficult to determine how many different times it was stopped because of obstruction. seven or eight times that i can come up with. so we're glad we're able to get it done. why? because we wanted to get it done for years, and finally we're able to get it done. so we want to be here and work with the republican leader and his friends on the other side of the aisle to get things done. that's why we've been no obstacle to f.a.a. it's too bad it was such a narrow version of what we wanted done, but the republican leader said we'll finish the things we have to do dealing with section 48-c before the end of the year. also on the appropriations bills, it was a long, i was a
long-term member of the appropriations committee and i'm glad we're moving forward on the appropriations bills. why didn't we do it before? because we had objections from the republicans, we couldn't. but we're going to be as cooperative as we can and see if we can move some of these appropriations bills. so i'm happy to have the republican leader talk about the accomplishments and make sure there's a side note or a footnote that says this has been accomplished because of our cooperation. mr. president, my friend also talked about the accomplishments of the various committees. my caucus knows how much i believe in the committee system. i think it's very important that committees work well, and we know one committee that's not working well, led by the senior senator from iowa. the senior senator from iowa says he feels no pressure of
blocking president obama's supreme court nominee merrick garland. if that's really true, senator grassley must not read the papers from iowa. to date there have been two dozen iowa editorials condemning senator grassley's refusal to consider the president's supreme court nominee, and many more letters to the editor. this is only in iowa. around the country, there have been scores and scores of editorials talking about how wrong it is that the judiciary committee is taking a vacation. but in iowa, there was a column published in the "des moines register" over the weekend that was especially discerning. it was offered by veteran iowa political journalist kathy obronovich. this is what she wrote, senator grassley keeps offering new reasons for refusing to give judge merrick garland a hearing and a vote on his appointment to the u.s. supreme court. he may as well keep trying as
explanations he's given so far for waiting until after the next presidential election are mostly nonsense. close quote. so i'm only going to mention a few of the excuses that the senator from iowa has invented in an effort to avoid his job. senator grassley won't consider merrick garland because he says he wants the american people to have a voice. the senator either is ignoring or forgetting or doesn't know that the american people and fellow iowans used their voice twice when they elected and reelected both times overwhelmingly president obama. they gave president obama the right to nominate individuals to the supreme court among the other obligations the president has. secondly, senator grassley won't consider merrick garland because he says he wants a justice who abides by the law. try that one on. if the senior senator from iowa wants a justice who abides by
precedent, sticks to the law, he need look no farther than merrick garland who developed a reputation on the bench for respecting precedent. people who have served with him, so-called liberals, conservatives, moderate judges, they all agree merrick garland is good. senator grassley, in fact, maybe there's somebody that can't stand him but we haven't heard a peep from anybody saying what a bad judge he is. not from anyone. senator grassley says he won't consider merrick garland for the third reason because the supreme court needs only eight supreme court justices. the supreme court needs all nine. yesterday they deadlocked on another question, and it appears that the chairman of the judiciary committee is willing to gridlock our nation's highest court just to keep merrick garland from being confirmed. that decision yesterday is a bad decision, mr. president, because what it does is keep in place a
lower court ruling that most all academics and people who follow the law believe it's wrong. it allowed yesterday, it allowed standing, the state of california to sue another state. basically the state of nevada. but under their ruling, we're going to now have a free-for-all among states suing each other. for the time we've been a country, that didn't take place. there was order. in the interstate commerce. well, the fourth reason senator grassley gives is that it's all chief justice roberts' fault. the very person who is blocking the supreme court nominee is accusing the chief justice of making the court political. and finally, there are others but this is enough for this morning, the senior senator from iowa says he's just doing what
chairman biden said 20 years ago. well, i would suggest -- and i'm sure staff has done this if he hasn't -- look at what vice president biden did, not what a partial, part of his speech he gave because if you looked at that he was exemplary. he brought judges to the court -- i'm sorry -- to the senate floor. he even brought the nominees to the floor who had been turned down by the committee because as he said yesterday and he said before, i believe that we have an obligation for advice and consent and it's not completed till it's brought to the floor. so senator grassley should follow joe biden's example and process more than part of a speech he gave. none of these examples make sense as the columnist from iowa said, but yesterday the
judiciary committee chair came up with another -- listen to this one. this is classic. senator grassley said he won't consider merrick garland's nomination because the hearing would be a waste of taxpayers' dollars. i quote what he said. well, we could have a hearing or are going to have a hearing but let's suppose we did have a hearing. so you have a hearing and you spend a lot of taxpayers' money gearing up for it. you spend a lot of time with members, a lot of research, and it has to be done by staff. that's kind of a strange comme comment. staff's not paid by the hour. they're paid each day. i would hope that they could squeeze into their busy schedules enough time to look at a supreme court nominee. offering our advice and consent on a supreme court nomination is what the taxpayers want us to
do. look at polls all over america. that's our job. i find it ridiculous, probably better descriptions but i find it ridiculous that the very senator who continues to use the judiciary committee to wage a political war on secretary hillary clinton dares to claim -- es -- dares to claim he's trying to save taxpayers' dollars. where was he. where was his concern for misusing taxpayer funds while his committee continues to waste millions of dollars on partisan opposition research of a presidential candidate? that's not their job. where was the penny pinching when the judiciary committee used senate funds and senate staff to investigate former clinton staffers? for example, asking for maternity leave records. maternity leave records, time seats, anything -- sheets, anything they could to try to
embarrass secretary clinton. where was senator grassley's focus on government waste while the so-called benghazi select committee continues to spend millions and millions of dollars on a political hit job with no end in sight. every day the judiciary committee has a new excuse, a new justification why it won't do its job. so i think we all have news for the senator from iowa. no one is buying it. they're not buying it in ie wa. they're not buying it in nevada. they're not buying it in kentucky. they're not buying it any place. the american people aren't buying it and his own constituents are leading the pack as constituents who are not buying this. his behiefer reminds me -- behavior reminds me of a henry wadsworth poem. it takes less time -- here's what he said, wadsworth -- i'm sorry, longfellow -- quote -- "it takes less time to do the right thing than it does to explain why you did it wrong."
so the senior senator from iowa spent months trying to explain away the obstruction of a supreme court nominee. wouldn't it be easier just to give him a hearing and a vote? wouldn't it be easier for him to just do his job? wouldn't it be the right thing to do just to do his job? mr. president, i would ask the chair to announce to everyone what we're going to do the rest of the day. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 2012 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 218, s. 2012, a bill to provide for the modernization of the energy policy of the united states and for other purposes. the presiding officer: time will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees.
who yields time? if no one yields time, time will be discharged equally to both sides. the senator from washington. a senator: mr. president, we are about to vote on the energy modernization act of 2016. ms. cantwell: i know my colleague, the chairwoman of the committee from alaska would probably like to close debate. i would like to take a few minutes before that vote this morning to again thank all our colleagues for their diligent consideration of this legislation. we will be passing the first energy bill since 2007, an
energy bill that will be the first one in nine years. it's a modernization of our energy system that is so desperately needed because it focuses on cleaner, more efficient, more renewable sources of energy, more cost effective for the consumer. it does this by modernizing the grid, making investments and advanced storage technology, smart buildings, composite materials and vehicle batteries. it improves cyber security and helps plan for the work force that we need for tomorrow. so i thank my colleagues for making sure that this legislation passes. i want to say that yesterday we improved this legislation by the lands package that was included, including the basin project in the state of washington and the save act which will help homeowners recognize the involvements this he make in energy efficiency so they with recognize it when they are about to sell their homes. so i think that yesterday's
efforts helped prove this -- improve this legislation, but all of this would not be possible without the staff and support of so many people. so i want to thank angela becker ditman, sam fowler, david brooks, rebecca bonner, rosemary colabro toolly, john davis, bending ming drake, david gillers, rich glick, spencer gray, sura hem, alicia johnson, scott mckey, casey kneel, brian petit, david poyer, betsy rosenblat, sam sig letter, bradley sinkas, melanie assistancebury, nick sutter, stephanie mcgoldrick, brie mancleve and i want to thank karen heys from the majority staff who worked so hard on this legislation as well. as i said, mr. president, the improvements that we're making
in this bill help us reach the goals that have been outlined in the quadrennial review. the energy secretary, secretary moniz, helped us on this legislation clearly calling for the type of 21st century energy structure investments that will help our country be competitive for the future. it also will help us skill and train the 1.5 million new workers that we need over the next 15 years. and i should say one of the provisions that we were so happy to defeat amendments on yesterday, preserving the land and water conservation fund. the land and water congress vision fund being -- conservation fund being one of the preimminent programs in our country for preserving open space at a time as our country continues to develop. it has been a program that has nurtured, that has a very important need for all of us to be outdoors, and it is also helped to build an outdoor economy. so saying to the american public this is a program we believe
should be made permanent, particularly after last september's lapse and our successful renewing it for just a couple years. it's time to say that the land and water conservation, a program that's been around since the 1960's should be made permanent. i thank everyone again for their work on this legislation. i hope we get a resounding vote out of the united states senate and quick conference with the house of representatives so we can plan for america's energy future in a more effective streamlined way so that we can realize the opportunity to help our businesses and consumers plan for the energy future. with that i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. officer: theg officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the short time -- the presiding officer: can you -- ms. murkowski: excuse me, mr. president. i request that proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, in the very short time we have before the vote is called, just a few meants -- comments here this morning as we have completed our work on a bill that includes more than 350 amendments that were filed to this broad bipartisan bill. we've accepted a total now of 65 of those amendments. and that bill contains priorities from over 80 members of this body. not everything has been smooth. i think we recognize that. but i think that this bill has shown that the senate does work. the senate can work cooperatively. they can work towards a bipartisan product that will produce long lasting benefits for the people who have sent us here to serve them.
so our next step, our last step is final passage. and i would strongly encourage all of our colleagues to vote aye this morning. there are plenty of reasons to do that, and i will repeat what i said yesterday. our bill. will help america produce more energy. it will help americans save more energy. it will protect our mineral security and our manufacturers. it will boost innovation leading to new technologies and new jobs. it will increase america's influence on the world stage allowing us to finally become that global energy super power and enjoy the benefits that come with it. mr. president, this is a good bill. this is an important bill for our country, and i thank our colleagues who have worked with us to get us to this point today. the presiding officer: thank you. the senator's time has expired. the clerk will read the title of the bill for the third