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Ranking Member Risch Opening Statement at Hearing on Treaties

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave the following opening remarks at a full committee hearing to evaluate treaties. The witnesses for panel one included: Mr. Richard Visek, acting legal adviser at State, Dr. John Thompson, deputy assistant secretary for environment at State, and Major General Vaughn Ary (ret.), director of the office of international affairs at Department of Justice.

On panel two, the witnesses included: Mr. Jim Sousa, president of the American Tunaboat Association and director at GS Fisheries, and Mr. Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute.

Ranking Member Risch gave the following remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for scheduling this hearing. Obliviously treaties are one of the important things this committee does and it kind of gets lost with the swamp of all the nominations that we have to do. But, it is important and deserves our attention.

“From the State Department and Department of Justice, we will hear how the mutual legal assistance treaty with Croatia will help streamline the process for securing the evidence and testimony we need to enforce our laws. It will also update our current extradition treaty, making it adaptable to advances in criminal law in the U.S.

“The State Department will also discuss the South Pacific Tuna Treaty. This agreement, submitted under the last administration, establishes stable and predictable fishing rights for U.S. vessels fishing in the exclusive economic zone waters of certain island nations of the South Pacific.

“This treaty updates our existing agreements and strengthens our cooperation and partnership with these island nations, particularly at a time when China is attempting to increase its influence in that part of the Pacific.

“Finally, we will hear from the State Department on the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

“The Senate has consented to ratification of the previous four amendments to the Montreal Protocol with strong bipartisan votes. With ratification of this treaty, the U.S. will join more than 120 countries in a multi-decade plan to phase down the production and consumption of 18 highly polluting substances known as ‘HFCs.’

“The treaty will facilitate the transition to the next generation of refrigerants, which is beneficial to our U.S. industry that enjoys a strong competitive advantage in the production of successor substances to HFCs.

“Finally, I’ll note that we passed legislation last Congress, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, which implements U.S. obligations under this treaty. With ratification of the Kigali amendment, the U.S. can better position itself to uphold our interests as we transition away from these substances to the newer, more efficient substances that will replace HFCs globally.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. Witness testimony is available on