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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
Tribute To Dr. William E. “Brit” Kirwan June 24, 2015
Benjamin Cardin, D-MD
"After 51 years in the field of education—spending 25 years as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Maryland, College Park, president of both the University of Maryland, College Park and The Ohio State University, and now as the chancellor of the University System of Maryland for the past 12 years—Dr. Kirwan will be retiring on June 30, 2015."
Submitted Resolutions June 18, 2015
Benjamin Cardin, D-MD
"The worldwide displacement from wars, conflict, and persecution in 2014 was the highest level recorded and accelerating fast, escalating to 60 million last year from 51.2 million in 2013, and a dramatic increase from the 37.5 million of a decade ago. We are on course to over double the number of refugees worldwide."
Electric Cooperative Youth Tour June 17, 2015
Jerry Moran, R-KS
"Those electric cooperatives that sponsor these kids coming to Washington, DC, from my State, yours, and every other State across the country, are more than just poles and wires. They are about people and communities. Recognizing that youth are the future of those communities is what the rural electric cooperative program is all about—sending 51 students to Washington, DC, for 51 straight years, so future leaders can have a front-row seat to American Government."
Introduction Of The Superfund Reinvestment Act June 15, 2015
Earl Blumenauer, D-OR
"The Superfund Reinvestment Act restores the “polluter pays” taxes and updates these taxes for inflation, returning fairness to the process and once again making those responsible for pollution pay for the cleanup. The bill includes excise taxes of $.163 per barrel on crude oil or refined oil products and taxes ranging from $.51 to $11.35 per ton on certain chemicals. The bill reinstates a corporate environmental income tax of .12% on a corporation’s modified alternative minimum taxable income that exceeds $3.735 million. This legislation expands the definition of oil to include unconventional crude oil sources, such as tar sands and oil shale. This legislation also includes language to guarantee that money from the Trust Fund is only spent on Superfund cleanups."
The Goldman Act To Return Abducted American Children: Assessing The Compliance Report And Required Action June 12, 2015
Christopher Smith, R-NJ
"Mr. Speaker, international parental child abduction rips children from their homes and families and whisks them away to a foreign land, alienating them from the love and care of the parent and family left behind. Child abduction is child abuse, and it continues to plague families across the United States. Every year, an estimated 1,000 American children are unlawfully removed from their homes by one of their parents and taken across international borders. Less than half of these children ever come home. The problem is so consequential and the State Department’s previous approach of “quiet diplomacy” so inadequate, that Congress unanimously passed the Goldman Act last year to give teeth to requests for return and access. These actions increase in severity, and range from official protests through diplomatic channels, to extradition, to the suspension of development, security, or other foreign assistance. The Goldman Act is a law calculated to get results, as we did in the return of Sean Goldman from Brazil in 2008. But a law is only as good as its implementation. Broken-hearted parents across America waited four years for the Goldman Act to become law and still await full U.S. government implementation of the law. The State Department’s first annual report that we are reviewing today should be a roadmap for action. The State Department must get this report right in order for the law to be an effective tool. If the report fails to accurately identify problem countries, the actions I mentioned above are not triggered. Countries should be listed if they have high numbers of cases—30 percent or more—that have been pending over a year or if they regularly fail to enforce return orders, or if they have failed to take appropriates steps in even a single abduction case pending more than a year. Once these countries are properly identified, the Secretary of State then determines which of the aforementioned actions the U.S. will apply to the country in order to encourage the timely resolution of abduction and access cases. While the State Department has choice of which actions to apply, and can waive actions for up to 180 days, the State Department does not have discretion over whether to report accurately to Congress on the country’s record, or on whether the country is objectively a non-compliant. As we have seen in the human trafficking context, (I authored both the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as well as the Goldman Act) accurate accounting of a country’s record, especially in comparison with other countries, can do wonders to prod much needed reforms. Accurate reporting is also critical to family court judges across the country and parents considering their child’s travel to a foreign country where abduction or access problems are a risk. The stakes are high: misleading or incomplete information could mean the loss of another American child to abduction. For example, a judge might look at the report table filled with zeros in the unresolved cases category, erroneously conclude that a particular country is not of concern, and give permission to an estranged spouse to return to their country with the child for a vacation. The taking parent then abducts the child and the left behind parent then spends her life savings and many years trying to get her child returned to the U.S. All of which could have been avoided with accurate reporting on the danger. I am very concerned that the first annual report contains major gaps and even misleading information, especially when it comes to countries with which we have the most intractable abduction cases. For instance, the report indicates that India, which has consistently been in the top five destinations for abducted American children, had 19 new cases in 2014, 22 resolved cases and no unresolved cases. However, we know from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that India has 53 open abduction cases—and that 51 have been pending for more than 1 year. The report shows zero new cases in Tunisia for last year, 3 resolved cases, and zero unresolved cases. And yet Ms. Edeanna Barbirou testified to her more than 3-year battle to bring her children home from Tunisia. NCMEC’s numbers show 6 ongoing abductions in Tunisia, all of which have been pending for more than a year. Nowhere is the report’s disconnect with reality more clear than in its handling of Japan, a country that has never issued and enforced a return order for a single one of the hundreds of American children abducted there, and was not listed as a country showing failing to cooperate in returns. In March, nearly two months before the annual report was released, I chaired a hearing in the subcommittee which I chair featuring Ambassador Susan Jacobs in which it was made perfectly clear that, “Congress expects that Japan will be evaluated not just on its handling of new abduction cases after it joined the Hague Convention last year, but on its work to resolve ALL open abduction cases,” including the more than 50 cases I and others have been raising with the State Department for the last 5 years. Among such cases is that of Sgt. Michael Elias, who has not seen his children, Jade and Michael Jr., since 2008. Michael served as a Marine who saw combat in Iraq. His wife, who worked in the Japanese consulate, used documents fraudulently obtained with the apparent complicity of Japanese consulate personnel to kidnap their children, then aged 4 and 2, in defiance of a court order, telling Michael on a phone call that there was nothing that he could do, as “my country will protect me.”"

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