April 06, 2022

Chairman Menendez Delivers Opening Remarks at Full Committee Hearing on Treaties

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following opening remarks at today’s full Committee hearing on treaties.

“Today’s treaty hearing comes at a time when the importance of strengthening our bonds and reinforcing the rule of law is as clear as ever,” Chairman Menendez said. “Our Committee has a critical constitutional role to play in the treaty-making process, and what we do directly impacts U.S. national security, law enforcement, businesses, and consumers. While the treaties on the agenda today cover varied subject matters, they have a common feature: they all make technical updates to frameworks from years past – updates that are required to maximize our engagement with other countries and, in the case of the Tuna Treaty Amendments and Kigali, for our industries to stay competitive.”

Testifying before the Committee were Major General Vaughn Ary (ret.), Director of the Office of International Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice; Mr. Richard Visek, Acting Legal Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State; and Dr. John Thompson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Testifying before the Committee on Panel II were Mr. Jim Sousa, President of the American Tunaboat Association, Director at GS Fisheries, and Mr. Stephen Yurek, President and CEO, Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

Today’s hearing comes as the Committee considers the following treaties:

1. Amendments to the Treaty on Fisheries between the Governments of Certain Pacific Island States and the Government of the United States of America (Treaty Doc. 115-3)

2. Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Croatia comprising the instrument as contemplated by Article 3(2) of the Agreement on Extradition between the United States of America and the European Union, signed June 25, 2003, as to the Application of the Treaty on Extradition signed on October 25, 1901 (the "U.S.-Croatia Extradition Agreement"), and the Agreement between the Government of the United States and the Government of the Republic of Croatia comprising the Instrument as contemplated by Article 3(3) of the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance between the United States of America and the European Union signed at Washington on June 25, 2003 (the "U.S.-Croatia Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement"), both signed at Washington on December 10, 2019 (Treaty Doc. 116-2)

3. Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the "Montreal Protocol"), adopted at Kigali on October 15, 2016, by the Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (the "Kigali Amendment") (Treaty Doc. 117-1)

Find a copy of Chairman Menendez’s remarks as delivered below.

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will come to order.

Today’s treaty hearing comes at a time when the importance of strengthening our bonds and reinforcing the rule of law is as clear as ever. 

So I am grateful to the Ranking Member for helping make this hearing happen. And I also want to thank both panels of highly qualified experts for appearing today.

Our Committee has a critical Constitutional role to play in the treaty-making process, and what we do directly impacts U.S. national security, law enforcement, businesses, and consumers. 

While the treaties on the agenda today cover varied subject matters, they have a common feature: they all make technical updates to frameworks from years past – updates that are required to maximize our engagement with other countries and, in the case of the Tuna Treaty Amendments and Kigali, for our industries to stay competitive.

Turning first to the pair of bilateral law enforcement treaties with Croatia.

We know that modern criminal networks do not observe international borders. Terrorists, cybercriminals, and drug traffickers, aren’t limited to one country or another, and addressing the threat they pose requires intense cooperation.

These treaties with Croatia will improve our law enforcement relationship with Croatia – enhancing the ability to extradite criminals, share information, and exchange evidence for investigations and prosecutions.

Next, we will hear testimony about Amendments to the 1987 South Pacific Tuna Treaty.

The Tuna Treaty has long been a cornerstone of U.S. economic interests in the South Pacific and our relations with other countries in the region.

Reinforcing those bonds is more important than ever, especially in the face of growing Chinese influence.

Our fishing industry and U.S. consumers have long benefited from access to fishing waters in the Pacific, but our fishing fleet needs a better deal, which these amendments would provide.

For instance, the amendments would make it easier for U.S. fishing vessels to fish on the high seas. And the new amendments would allow U.S. businesses to negotiate commercial fishing arrangements directly with our Pacific Island Partners and without the federal government as a middleman.

The Tuna Treaty has long been vital to U.S. economic interests and our strategic influence in the region, and modernizing it will support even more economic activity and further burnish our relationships with important partners.

Finally, we will look at the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

The United States ratified the Montreal Protocol more than three decades ago, and as U.S. companies have innovated and developed new technologies and products ,the Senate has approved four amendments to keep up with those advances. 

The Kigali Amendment modernizes the Montreal Protocol by addressing chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). 

HFCs became a commonplace alternative to dangerous ozone depleting substances in response to the Montreal Protocol, but we know now that they are dangerous in their own right. Beginning with the engagement and encouragement of the George W. Bush administration, U.S. manufacturers have led the development of the next generation of refrigerants and technologies to replace HFCs, and President Trump took a major step toward domestic adoption of this ‘next-gen’ technology by signing the AIM Act into law. 

Senate approval of Kigali will help U.S. businesses, including manufacturers in Texas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, develop and access global markets, and it is necessary so that they don’t get locked out from trade with other parties to the treaty. We have received an outpouring of support for the Kigali Amendment from the business community, including many letters. This includes letters from Walmart, Carrier, Lennox, and others. I ask for consent to enter these letters into the record and will provide them to the Clerk.

Industry estimates calculate that ratifying the Kigali Amendment will help increase U.S. exports by 5 billion dollars and create 33,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs. In contrast, our exports and export-related jobs are predicted to contract significantly if we fail to do so.

All four previous amendments passed with bipartisan support and I hope this one will as well.

I am pleased that we have the opportunity today to hear from government experts on international cooperation in these areas: Acting Legal Adviser to the State Department, Richard Visek; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Thompson from the Oceans, Environment, and Science Bureau; and

Vaughn Ary, the Director of the Office of International Affairs at the Department of Justice. 

Testifying on our second panel of industry experts we have Mr. Stephen Yurek, CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) based in Arlington, Virginia who will testify of on the significance of the Kigali Amendment; and Mr. Jim Sousa, President of the American Tunaboat Association and Director of GS Fisheries from San Diego, California, who is here to testify on the Amendments to the South Pacific Tuna Treaty.

With that, let me turn to the distinguished Ranking Member, Senator Risch, for his remarks.”

###

Press Contact

Juan Pachon