[Pages H3956-H3959]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  FOREIGN CULTURAL EXCHANGE JURISDICTIONAL IMMUNITY CLARIFICATION ACT

  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 889) to amend chapter 97 of title 28, United States Code, to 
clarify the exception to foreign sovereign immunity set forth in 
section 1605(a)(3) of such title.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 889

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Foreign Cultural Exchange 
     Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act''.

     SEC. 2. CLARIFICATION OF JURISDICTIONAL IMMUNITY OF FOREIGN 
                   STATES.

       (a) In General.--Section 1605 of title 28, United States 
     Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(h) Jurisdictional Immunity for Certain Art Exhibition 
     Activities.--
       ``(1) In general.--If--
       ``(A) a work is imported into the United States from any 
     foreign country pursuant to an agreement that provides for 
     the temporary exhibition or display of such work entered into 
     between a foreign state that is the owner or custodian of 
     such work and the United States or one or more cultural or 
     educational institutions within the United States,
       ``(B) the President, or the President's designee, has 
     determined, in accordance with subsection (a) of Public Law 
     89-259 (22 U.S.C. 2459(a)), that such work is of cultural 
     significance and the temporary exhibition or display of such 
     work is in the national interest, and
       ``(C) the notice thereof has been published in accordance 
     with subsection (a) of Public Law 89-259 (22 U.S.C. 2459(a)),
     any activity in the United States of such foreign state, or 
     of any carrier, that is associated with the temporary 
     exhibition or display of such work shall not be considered to 
     be commercial activity by such foreign state for purposes of 
     subsection (a)(3).
       ``(2) Nazi-era claims.--Paragraph (1) shall not apply in 
     any case asserting jurisdiction under subsection (a)(3) in 
     which rights in property taken in violation of international 
     law are in issue within the meaning of that subsection and--
       ``(A) the property at issue is the work described in 
     paragraph (1);
       ``(B) the action is based upon a claim that such work was 
     taken in connection with the acts of a covered government 
     during the covered period;
       ``(C) the court determines that the activity associated 
     with the exhibition or display is commercial activity, as 
     that term is defined in section 1603(d); and
       ``(D) a determination under subparagraph (C) is necessary 
     for the court to exercise jurisdiction over the foreign state 
     under subsection (a)(3).
       ``(3) Definitions.--For purposes of this subsection--
       ``(A) the term `work' means a work of art or other object 
     of cultural significance;
       ``(B) the term `covered government' means--
       ``(i) the Government of Germany during the covered period;

[[Page H3957]]

       ``(ii) any government in any area in Europe that was 
     occupied by the military forces of the Government of Germany 
     during the covered period;
       ``(iii) any government in Europe that was established with 
     the assistance or cooperation of the Government of Germany 
     during the covered period; and
       ``(iv) any government in Europe that was an ally of the 
     Government of Germany during the covered period; and
       ``(C) the term `covered period' means the period beginning 
     on January 30, 1933, and ending on May 8, 1945.''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by this section 
     shall apply to any civil action commenced on or after the 
     date of the enactment of this Act.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte) and the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Cohen) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Virginia.


                             General Leave

  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous materials on H.R. 889, currently under 
consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Virginia?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the gentleman from 
Ohio (Mr. Chabot) for introducing this legislation and the gentleman 
from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) and the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. 
Cohen) for their support as well.
  The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification 
Act strengthens the ability of U.S. museums and educational 
institutions to borrow foreign-government-owned artwork and cultural 
artifacts for temporary exhibition or display in the United States.
  The United States has long recognized the importance of encouraging 
the cultural exchange of ideas through exhibitions of artworks and 
other artifacts loaned from other countries. These exchanges expose 
Americans to other cultures and foster understanding between people of 
different nationalities, languages, religions, and races.
  Unfortunately, the future success of cultural exchanges is severely 
threatened by a disconnect between the Immunity from Seizure Act and 
the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
  Loans of artwork and cultural objects depend on foreign lenders 
having confidence that the items they loan will be returned and that 
the loan will not open them up to lawsuits in U.S. courts.
  For 40 years, the Immunity from Seizure Act provided foreign 
government lenders with this confidence. However, rulings in several 
recent Federal cases have undermined the protection provided by this 
law. In these decisions, the Federal courts have held that the Immunity 
from Seizure Act does not preempt the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. 
The effect has been to open foreign governments up to the jurisdiction 
of U.S. courts simply because they loaned artwork or cultural objects 
to an American museum or educational institution.
  This has significantly impeded the ability of U.S. institutions to 
borrow foreign-government-owned items. It has also resulted in cultural 
exchanges being curtailed as foreign governments have become hesitant 
to permit their cultural property to travel to the United States.
  This bill addresses this situation. It provides that if the State 
Department grants immunity to a loan of artwork or cultural objects 
from the Immunity from Seizure Act, then the loan cannot subject a 
foreign government to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts under the Foreign 
Sovereign Immunities Act.
  This is very narrow legislation. It only applies to one of many 
grounds for jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 
and it requires the State Department to grant the artwork immunity 
before its provisions apply. Moreover, in order to preserve the claims 
of the victims of the Nazi government and its allies during World War 
II, the bill has an exception for claims brought by these victims.
  If we want to encourage foreign governments to continue to lend 
artwork and other artifacts, we must enact this legislation. Without 
the protections this bill provides, foreign governments will avoid the 
risk of lending their cultural items to American museums and 
educational institutions, and the American public will lose the 
opportunity to view and appreciate these cultural objects from abroad.
  Last Congress, this legislation passed the House with broad 
bipartisan support by a vote of 388-4. I, once again, urge my 
colleagues to support this bill.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I rise in support of H.R. 889, the Foreign Cultural Exchange 
Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act.
  This bill makes a modest but important amendment to the 
``expropriation exception'' of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 
1976. Specifically, it ensures that foreign states are immune from 
suits for damages concerning the ownership of cultural property when 
three particularly important ingredients are present: one, that the 
property is in the United States pursuant to an agreement between the 
foreign state and the U.S. or a U.S.-based cultural or educational 
institution; two, the President has granted the work at issue immunity 
from seizure pursuant to the Immunity from Seizure Act; and three, that 
the President's grant of immunity from seizure is published in the 
Federal Register. All three of those conditions must be met.
  The expropriation exception remains available to all claims 
concerning misappropriated cultural property to which these factual 
circumstances do not apply.
  I would not support this bill if it did not contain a sufficient 
exception for claims arising from artwork stolen by the Nazis, their 
allies, and their affiliates.
  H.R. 889 has such an exception, ensuring that victims of Nazi art 
theft continue to have the opportunity to pursue justice in court. This 
exception is appropriate and important in light of the sheer scale and 
the particularly concerted efforts of the Nazis to seize artwork and 
other cultural property from their victims.
  A movie that was directed and starred in by George Clooney called 
``The Monuments Men'' brought to America's attention, really, the 
extreme depth to which the Nazis went to confiscate art, steal art, and 
try to keep it for their own uses and for the future of what they saw 
as a Nazi world.

                              {time}  1715

  In that film, American soldiers were shown in extreme danger to 
themselves in great heroic acts to locate and save that artwork for 
generations to come. In fact, those particular survivors will be given 
a Congressional Gold Medal for their work.
  Another recent film, ``Woman in Gold,'' tells the story of Maria 
Altmann. It surrounds compensation for artwork stolen by the Nazis and 
has been highlighted recently in the theatres.
  Mrs. Altmann's effort to retrieve works by Gustav Klimt that the 
Nazis had taken from her uncle in Austria in the thirties led to an 
important Supreme Court decision that held that the expropriation 
exception applied to claims arising prior to the FSIA's enactment in 
1976, which allowed Nazi-era victims to file suit for damages in 
Federal court.
  It is critical to note that the bill sponsors worked with the 
Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany to revise the 
Nazi-era exception to ensure that it was broad enough to be a 
meaningful exception. As a result, the conference has stated, for 
itself and for the American Jewish community, that it will not oppose 
the bill.
  I also note that all of the FSIA's other exceptions to sovereign 
immunity remain available to potential plaintiffs with claims 
concerning the ownership of cultural property.
  In particular, I note this bill does nothing to affect the attempts 
of Chabad to seek enforcement of its 2011 judgment against Russia, both 
because such judgment would predate the effective date of this bill and 
because it was not predicated on the loan of any artwork to the U.S., 
meaning this bill would not have any effect in that case even if it had 
been in effect in 2011.
  To the extent it may be necessary, I would encourage consideration of 
adding clarifying language that this bill

[[Page H3958]]

does nothing to affect enforcement of an already entered judgment.
  H.R. 89 is narrowly tailored to ensure that it provides for just 
enough immunity to encourage foreign states to lend their cultural 
property to American museums and universities, accordingly, then, to 
the American people, young people and older, for temporary exhibits and 
displays without protecting more than we intend to protect.
  The bill ensures that works that have already been granted immunity 
from seizure by the President, pursuant to the Immunity from Seizure 
Act, are also immune from suits for damages, which is in keeping with 
the act's purpose in encouraging foreign countries to lend their works 
to American institutions without fear of litigation based on the act of 
lending these works.
  In essence, if you believe in art, you like art, you think people 
should see art, and you like your museums, you ought to be for this 
bill. That is why I thank Representative Steve Chabot, Judiciary 
Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and Ranking Member John Conyers for 
their leadership on this issue and for allowing me to manage this time 
and be part of this initiative.
  I would urge my colleagues to support the bill.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield as much time as he may consume to 
the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Chabot), who is the chief sponsor of this 
legislation.
  Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking Chairman 
Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, and also Mr. Cohen of Tennessee for 
their leadership in cosponsoring this legislation.
  As Mr. Cohen had mentioned earlier, he and I have found a number of 
pieces of legislation which we have been able to support together in a 
bipartisan manner, such as the Delta Queen, which we are still working 
on. I would like to think that we can look forward to other pieces of 
legislation down the road to work together on, again in a bipartisan 
manner. There is a lot better chance you can get things accomplished in 
this House if you do that. He has reached out, and I certainly 
appreciate that.
  H.R. 889, which I authored, is simple, straightforward legislation 
that restores American museums the protections of the Immunities from 
Seizures Act and clarifies the relationship that that act and the 
Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act share. This bill would revise existing 
law to clarify that the temporary importation of artwork is not legally 
considered commercial activity and assure foreign government lenders 
that if they are granted immunity from seizures, their loan of artwork 
and artifacts will not subject them to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts 
and lawsuits and disputes about that property, so that it is much more 
likely that they will allow their artifacts and artworks to come here 
and then be enjoyed by the American public.
  Furthermore, it is important to note that the immunity provided under 
this bill does not apply to artwork taken in violation of international 
law, as was already mentioned by both Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. Cohen, in 
particular, to those pieces of art seized during World War II by the 
Nazi government or by the Nazi government's allies or impact ongoing 
cases to get the Russians to return a collection of sacred Jewish books 
and manuscripts claimed by the Chabad movement.
  By enacting the Immunity from Seizure Act, Congress recognized that 
cultural exchanges produce substantial benefits for the United States, 
both artistically and diplomatically. Foreign lending has and should 
continue to aid cultural understanding and increase public exposure to 
archeological artifacts.
  However, for artwork and cultural objects owned by foreign 
governments, the intent of the Immunity from Seizure Act is being 
frustrated by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Some 
interpretations of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act have exposed 
foreign governments to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts based solely 
upon the temporary importation into the U.S. of foreign-government-
owned artwork. According to the American Association of Museum 
Directors, this has led, on several occasions, to foreign governments 
declining to exchange artwork and cultural objects with the United 
States for temporary exhibits.
  In a recent survey of 38 museums across the U.S., it was found that, 
over the past 5 years, these museums had 1,000 pieces denied to 
showcase here in the United States for very questionable reasons. These 
were works that museum curators reasonably believed would be loaned to 
their museum for special exhibits. Therefore, in order to continue the 
exchange of foreign-government-owned art and reaffirm our country's 
commitment to the promotion of foreign lending to American museums, 
Congress needs to clarify the relationship between the two acts I 
already referred to: the Immunity from Seizure Act and the Foreign 
Sovereign Immunities Act. That is what this legislation does.
  This is a relatively minor change to the law, but it will provide 
enormous cultural benefits by ensuring that museums, like the 
Cincinnati Museum Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum and other 
similar museums throughout the State of Ohio and across the country, 
may continue to present first-class exhibits that educate the public on 
cultural heritage and artwork from all over the globe. Through 
enactment of this legislation, we can secure foreign lending to 
American museums and ensure that foreign art lenders are not entangled 
in unnecessary litigation.
  Mr. Speaker, this legislation is supported by the Association of Art 
Museum Directors, which represents 240 museums, including the 
Smithsonian and several within my district and all across the country.
  Last Congress, this body showed overwhelming support for this bill, 
and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation once again. I also 
urge our colleagues in the other body to swiftly move similar 
legislation through their Chamber. Again I thank Chairman Goodlatte and 
Ranking Member Conyers and Mr. Cohen for their support.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee), the ranking member of the Crime, Terrorism, 
Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee of the Judiciary 
Committee.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, let me thank Mr. Goodlatte, Mr. Chabot, 
and Mr. Cohen for their great work on this instructive legislation. My 
appreciation for the Judiciary Committee is how we clarify the law, and 
in this instance the subcommittee has brought two conflicting legal 
tenets as relate to statutes and clarified them. So I want to celebrate 
it because it is directly impacting on the Nation's museums and 
educational institutions. Let me cite some in my congressional 
district.
  Texas Southern University has an African American history museum. It 
is a beautiful display. This legislation will allow a small entity that 
could not stand under a lawsuit to be able to secure international 
gifts which they have received without the burden of litigation.
  In the early stages of my career in Congress, I represented, 
extensively, Houston's museum district: the Museum of Foreign Arts, 
with an outstanding curator, museum director; the Children's Museum; 
the Health Museum; and the Museum of Natural Science. All of those have 
the tendency to receive these international gifts and also be 
subjected, potentially, because of the conflict to seizure.
  In particular, I remember working with the Museum of Fine Arts, maybe 
one of my greatest early opportunities of service, and to help them 
bring the Russian jewels to Houston, Texas. It was a long, long 
journey, not because of the distance but because of the conflicting 
laws and the entanglement of imports and protection of the jewels. I 
remember being at the dock receiving those jewels after a long wait. 
Just imagine if there had been this potential of seizure, which there 
was, but that there was the glaring opportunity there for seizure and 
it had occurred. What would have happened to this great art exchange 
and, as well, to what we were doing in Houston?
  Let me close by saying, Mr. Speaker, I want to support this bill 
extensively, and it will help all of these institutions across America.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 889, the ``Foreign 
Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act.''
  H.R. 889 makes a modest but important amendment to the 
``expropriation exception'' of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 
1976. Specifically, it ensures that foreign states are immune from 
suits for damages concerning

[[Page H3959]]

the ownership of cultural property when: that property is in the United 
States pursuant to an agreement between the foreign state and the U.S. 
or a U.S.-based cultural or educational institution; the President has 
granted the work at issue immunity from seizure pursuant to the 
Immunity from Seizure Act; and the President's grant of immunity from 
seizure is published in the Federal Register.
  The expropriation exception remains available to all claims 
concerning misappropriated cultural property to which these factual 
circumstances do not apply.
  I would not support this bill if it did not contain a sufficient 
exception for claims arising from artwork stolen by the Nazis, their 
allies, and their affiliates.
  H.R. 889 has just such an exception, ensuring that victims of Nazi 
art theft continue to have the opportunity to pursue justice in court.
  This exception is appropriate in light of the sheer scale and the 
particularly concerted efforts of the Nazis to seize artwork and other 
cultural property from their victims.
  The particular sensitivity surrounding compensation for artwork 
stolen by the Nazis has been highlighted in recent months by the motion 
picture Woman in Gold, which tells the story of Maria Altmann.
  Mrs. Altmann's efforts to retrieve works by Gustav Klimt that the 
Nazis had taken from uncle in Austria in the 1930's led to an important 
Supreme Court decision that held that the expropriation exception 
applied to claims arising prior to the FSIA's enactment in 1976, which 
allowed Nazi-era victims to file suit for damages in federal court.
  It is also critical to note that the bill's sponsors worked with the 
Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany to revise the 
Nazi-era exception to ensure that it was broad enough to be a 
meaningful exception.
  As a result, the Conference has stated, for itself and for the 
American Jewish Committee, that it will not oppose this bill.
  I also note that all of the FSIA's other exceptions to sovereign 
immunity remain available to potential plaintiffs with claims 
concerning the ownership of cultural property.
  In particular, I note that this bill does nothing to affect the 
attempts by Chabad to seek enforcement of its 2011 judgment against 
Russia, both because such judgment would pre-date the effective date of 
this bill and because it was not predicated on the loan of any artwork 
to the U.S., meaning that this bill would not effect that case even if 
it had been in effect in 2011.
  To the extent it may be necessary, I would encourage consideration of 
adding clarifying language that this bill does nothing to affect 
enforcement of an already-entered judgment.
  H.R. 889 is narrowly tailored to ensure that it provides for just 
enough immunity to encourage foreign states to lend their cultural 
property to American museums and universities for temporary exhibits 
and displays without protecting more than we intend to protect.
  I recognize that some people may instinctively recoil at the idea of 
any bill that grants any level of immunity to a foreign state when 
ownership of a work of art or other cultural object is at issue.
  But I would not support a bill that foreclosed all possibility of 
redress for such people.
  And, H.R. 889 does not do that.
  It simply ensures that works that have already been granted immunity 
from seizure by the President pursuant to the Immunity from Seizure Act 
are also immune from suits for damages, which is in keeping with the 
Act's purpose of encouraging foreign countries to lend their works to 
American institutions without fear of litigation based on the act of 
lending those works.
  I thank Representative Steve Chabot, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob 
Goodlatte, and Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. for their 
leadership on this issue and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I have no further speakers, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, but I 
would like to recognize Lafayette and Washington. The Hermione, the 
boat that brought Lafayette to Washington, a replica thereof, has just 
come to Virginia, and there is a recognition of that at Mount Vernon 
tonight. I think we should recognize their portraits here. They helped 
this country become free from the shackles of Great Britain and become 
the great country we are.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, H.R. 889.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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