WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today applauded the introduction in the Senate of a companion measure to his legislation aimed at cutting OFF resources from ISIS terrorists. Yesterday, Senators Bob Casey (PA), Chuck Grassley (IA), and David Perdue (GA) introduced a Senate version of Rep. Engel’s Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (HR 1493), which would impose import restrictions on looted artifacts and enhance U.S. government efforts to protect cultural heritage around the world. Representative Engel’s bill passed unanimously in the House last month.
“I’m pleased that my Senate colleagues have pushed this measure to crack down on terrorist financing through the trafficking of looted artifacts. With each passing day, ISIS continues to line its coffers with these resources, and it’s long past time that the United States takes greater action,” said Rep. Engel. “I hope the Senate acts quickly on this legislation so we can get it to the President’s desk.”
Representative Engel’s legislation unanimously passed the House on June 1st. The bill would impose new import restrictions on cultural artifacts removed from Syria. Similar restrictions were enacted in 2004 with respect to Iraqi antiquities. The legislation would provide exceptions to allow artifacts to enter the United States for temporary protection and restoration. Restrictions would remain in effect until the crisis in Syria is resolved and America is able to work with a future Syrian government to protect cultural property from trafficking under a bilateral agreement, in accordance with America’s national interests.
The bill would also establish a new interagency body and coordinator role to enhance coordination among government agencies, including the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, already working on cultural preservation issues. It would also take steps to enhance Congressional oversight of this issue.