Wednesday, June 10, 2015


WASHINGTON – Today, the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (H.R. 889) passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), bill sponsor Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), and co-sponsors House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) praised the continued bipartisan support for the legislation, and the approval of the bill once again by the whole House:

“We applaud our colleagues for passing an important piece of legislation that will allow millions of Americans the chance to see some of the most important art and artifacts the world has to offer.  Both sides of the aisle have come together again to remove barriers that would deny our country’s museums and galleries the ability to borrow works from foreign governments without the restrictions placed by rulings from the federal courts.

“This legislation will make foreign artwork and artifacts more accessible to the public to study and appreciate in American schools and museums while preserving important protections for Holocaust-related claims.  We are pleased that the House has reaffirmed its longstanding appreciation of the arts and the cultural exchange of ideas.”

Background: Currently, court decisions interpreting the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) discourage foreign governments from lending government-owned artwork and objects of cultural significance to U.S. museums and schools for temporary exhibit or display. Foreign governments are discouraged by the possibility of litigation in U.S. courts from which they would otherwise be immune. As a result, the ability of U.S. museums and schools to borrow works of art and objects of cultural significance owned by foreign governments has been seriously curtailed in recent years. The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act fixes this problem by making a narrowly-tailored change to FSIA. This change will make it easier for U.S. museums and educational institutions to borrow works of art and other objects from abroad, increasing Americans’ opportunities for cultural and educational development. This bill also contains an exception for cultural property taken during the Nazi era. 
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