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Chairman Smith Opening Statement – Markup of Tax, Trade, and Foster Care Legislation

November 30, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“Before we begin, I’d like to say a couple of words about our colleague, Dan Kildee, who announced he would be retiring at the end of this Congress. 

“The Kildee name has been a staple of Mid-Michigan politics for the last fifty years. Anyone who’s met Dan knows he’s a fighter who cares about his people and his community. And let me also say, that I might need to stop doing these announcements every week if you all keep retiring.

“Today, we will be marking up six bills in the Tax, Work & Welfare, and Trade spaces.

“Our first piece of legislation, H.R. 5988, is a bipartisan bill that provides targeted relief from double taxation on cross-border investment between Taiwan and the United States. It requires reciprocity under Taiwanese law for Americans investing, operating, and working in their country. This bill makes it clear that we stand with our economic ally, Taiwan, as we work to counter China’s malign influence in the region.  

“Next, we have legislation to end taxpayer support for any organization that contributes to terrorism, introduced by Representatives Kustoff and Schneider, which is especially important and timely given what we heard just weeks ago in this hearing room about the links between American charities and Hamas. Our tax code should not be used to support or finance violent terrorism around the world. This bill revokes tax-exempt status for ‘terrorist supporting organizations,’ defined as groups that have provided material support or resources to a listed terrorist organization within the past three years. 

“Our last tax bill, H.R. 1432, is another bipartisan effort sponsored by Dr. Wenstrup and Representative Panetta that updates the tax code to better support veterans and Veteran Service Organizations, also known as VSOs. These VSOs help our veterans file service-connected claims with the VA, support their families, and navigate the confusing web of government programs our veterans rely on. This bill allows deductible charitable contributions to all federally chartered tax-exempt organizations that serve current and former members of the military.

“H.R. 2426 is the first of two bipartisan child welfare bills we will consider today. These bills are precursors to the Committee’s larger work – led by Chairman LaHood and Ranking Member Davis – on reauthorizing the expired Title Four-B program and modernizing the child welfare system. The Find and Protect Missing Foster Youth Act, introduced by Representative Gonzales and brought before this Committee during our Member Day hearing, requires the Department of Health and Human Services and states to improve tracking for children in the foster care system who have run away or gone missing, including screening youth for signs of human trafficking or other trauma. Under federal law, states are required to report missing foster children within 24 hours to law enforcement, yet some states still struggle to implement these protocols. This means that, in some cases, kids missing from foster care are not being tracked or reported as missing in a timely manner. This legislation requires HHS to conduct an evaluation of state protocols and report to Congress.

“H.R. 3058, the Recruiting Families Using Data Act, introduced by Representatives Kildee and Feenstra, will help to build out a strategy and identify national trends and best practices that Congress can use to further improve foster care for the 600,000 vulnerable children that come into contact with the child welfare system each year. Right now, nearly every state is facing a shortage of foster care homes. A significant number of foster parents stop fostering within a year, and that number grows even larger after one or two placements. States need a strategy for recruiting foster parents and adoptive families. 

“Lastly, we will consider legislation introduced by Rep. Waltz, H.R. 529, the Extending Limits of U.S. Customs Waters Act – sponsored by several members of this Committee. This legislation fulfills a request from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to clarify the ability to perform their mission in waters from the current 12 nautical miles to 24 nautical miles. This will assist critical efforts to enforce our trade laws, while preventing drugs like fentanyl from coming into the U.S.”