WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) today issued the following statement after President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Vladimir Putin is not our friend, and there is ample evidence that Russia meddled in our elections. Russia has repeatedly violated international law, shown disregard for national sovereignty, engaged in human rights abuses, propped up state sponsors of terror, and fueled global instability,” said Tipton. “Russia’s attacks on our electoral system damage the very democratic principles upon which our country was built. I strongly urge President Trump and this Administration to hold Russia and Putin accountable. I will continue to support strong economic sanctions against Russia and measures to protect the integrity of our elections.”
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Last year, all eyes turned to North Korea as the hermit kingdom launched yet another ballistic missile, this time into the Sea of Japan. Actions like this pose a huge threat to global security and are cause for immediate concern. They also raise important questions, the main being: how do we better prevent hostile nations and dangerous organizations from gaining access to nuclear, chemical, biological and other hazardous weapons?
Almost every country that seeks to obtain a weapon of mass destruction faces the same challenge: it cannot produce everything it needs for the weapon domestically. This means that if hostile nations and dangerous organizations successfully gain the resources and materials necessary to create weapons of mass destruction, they have been able to do so by accessing and exploiting the global financial system.
In North Korea’s case, it has been able to access the global financial system through front companies, joint ventures with foreign firms, and most notably, through Chinese financial institutions, all of which have enabled this antagonistic regime to successfully acquire the necessary resources and technology to build weapons.
Even though many financial institutions throughout the world are very careful not to do business with hostile nations and dangerous organizations looking to build weapons of mass destruction, some have done so accidentally. To effectively prevent the spread of dangerous weapons, otherwise known as weapons proliferation, we must close the gaps that allow bad actors to take advantage of the global financial system.
I recently introduced a bill that will help the United State close any gaps that may be found in our financial system. The bill, the Improving Strategies to Counter Weapons Proliferation Act (H.R. 6332), would help financial institutions and law enforcement identify the signs of illegal weapons financing, so they can more easily coordinate strategies that disrupt, and ultimately prevent this dangerous crime.
In the United States, we have robust protections in place to help prevent the financing of weapons proliferation. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, whenever a financial institution encounters suspicious activity, they are required to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at the Department of Treasury. However, while FinCEN has reported that some SARs have been helpful in individual cases, the bureau has also reported that more can be done to analyze these filings and provide financial institutions with guidance on how to better recognize and prevent types of illicit weapons financing.
At a recent Financial Services Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee hearing that was centered around combating weapons proliferation financing, we had the chance to discuss what problems financial institutions and law enforcement currently face as it relates to this issue and what the federal government can do to assist them in preventing these dangerous crimes.
The expert witnesses at this hearing each emphasized that the complexity of the financial networks makes it incredibly difficult to recognize when an experienced bad actor is financing weapons proliferation. They pointed out that many banks, especially smaller ones, may not have the staff and resources available to recognize every instance of suspicious activity that might tip them off to a weapons financier. They also noted that many banks don’t even know exactly what constitutes a weapons-related suspicious activity, and that it’s unclear to the public exactly what kinds of suspicious activity reporting law enforcement finds helpful.
If we are to truly prevent dangerous regimes and organizations from financing the spread of weapons that can do catastrophic damage, then we must first have a clear understanding of the warning signs. This is the goal of the Improving Strategies to Counter Weapons Proliferation Act. It would require the Director of FinCEN to submit a report to Congress each year on the way that SARs reports are used to combat weapons proliferation, as well as FinCEN’s efforts to collaborate with law enforcement and national intelligence agencies to maximize the use of data collected from SARs reports. Armed with the knowledge of how current suspicious activity data is being used, Congress will be able to determine if additional policies need to be created to allow for better coordination among federal agencies trying to disrupt the financing of weapons proliferation.
The financial system is critical to the success of a weapons program, so if we can prevent bad actors from transferring money and other resources into the global financial system, then we can help eliminate this problem. The spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is one of the biggest threats facing not just this nation, but all of mankind, so I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Financial Services Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee, financial institutions across the nation, and our dedicated law enforcement officers to prevent misuse of the U.S. financial system.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) introduced the Improving Strategies to Counter Weapons Proliferation Act (H.R. 6332), which would help both financial institutions and law enforcement better recognize and prevent the illicit financing of transfers and exports of nuclear, chemical, biological and other weapons.
“The ever-increasing number of threats posed by foreign adversaries and dangerous organizations has made it more critical than ever to close the gaps that currently allow bad actors to finance the transfer and export of dangerous weapons,” said Tipton. “By helping financial institutions and law enforcement better identify the signs of illegal weapons financing through this bill, these institutions will be able to maximize the effectiveness of their information and more easily coordinate strategies that disrupt, and ultimately prevent this dangerous crime.”
During a recent Financial Services Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee hearing on the financing of weapons proliferation, Tipton had the chance to question expert witnesses on what specific areas upon which financial institutions could improve to better combat the complex networks that support financing for dangerous weapons.
Tipton asked Ms. Elizabeth Rosenberg, a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, whether she believes the current Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime in place in the United States provides law enforcement with sufficient information to counter illegal weapons financing, and if it would be helpful to know what kinds of SARs trigger law enforcement action.
On whether it would be helpful to know more about what these triggers look like, Ms. Rosenberg stated “Yes, on proliferation finance, because it will signal to [government agencies and the regulators] that you care. It will give a demand signal to them and the financial institutions that [the regulators] oversee, that must submit the SARs, to know that this is a priority that they must look for and take action on.”
To listen to Tipton’s full line of questioning, click here.
As required by the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), when financial institutions encounter suspicious activity, they file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) at the Department of Treasury.
While FinCEN has reported that some SARs have been helpful in individual cases, the bureau has also concluded that more could be done to analyze these filings and provide financial institutions with guidance on how to proactively prevent types of illicit weapons financing.
H.R. 6332 would require FinCEN to submit a report to Congress within one year and annually on the following:
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tipton (CO-03) introduced a bill that would incentivize more proactive, voluntary conservation efforts to help prevent listings under the Endangered Species Act. The bipartisan Land Ownership Collaboration Accelerates Life, otherwise known as the LOCAL Act (H.R. 6344), was introduced with 15 original cosponsors.
“The most effective approach to species recovery and conservation is through proactive, localized efforts that take into account the unique landscape, habitat and ecological conditions of an area,” said Tipton. “It is critical to empower the landowners who have their boots on the ground every day to lead critical conservation and recovery efforts.”
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 to protect imperiled species from extinction. The LOCAL Act would amend the ESA to give the federal government the opportunity to engage non-federal landowners in voluntary conservation efforts through Species Recovery Agreements (SRA), Habitat Reserve Agreements (HRA), Private Party Conservation Grants, and a Conservation Planning Loan Program.
Through a SRA or HRA, the Secretary of the Interior could enter into an agreement with a non-federal landowner who agrees to carry out activities that protect or restore habitat and contribute to the recovery of an endangered or threatened species. The landowner would receive payments to cover the costs of the agreements.
“I don’t think you can find a better steward of public land or protector of animals than landowners who are out working their land every day for farming, ranching or for other purposes,” Tipton added. “They know the challenges that threatened and endangered species face, and they are in a unique position to provide input on the best conservation strategies.”
Through Private Party Conservation Grants, a private property owner could receive financial conservation aid to alleviate the burden of ESA compliance, and states, counties and municipalities could receive assistance for conservation planning through the Conservation Planning Loan Program.
“We have seen how collaboration and localized initiatives have benefitted species like the Sage-Grouse in Colorado,” Tipton said. “The best way to protect species is by preventing them from getting listed in the first place, so we need to start being proactive instead of reactive. This is the goal of the LOCAL Act.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) voted to pass legislation to cut bureaucratic red tape and free up resources for Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) projects like the Arkansas Valley Conduit. The Reclamation Title Transfer and Non-Federal Infrastructure Incentivization Act (H.R. 3281) passed the House with a vote of 233-184.
“Streamlining the process of transferring completed Bureau of Reclamation projects to local entities would not only incentivize more non-federal investment in water infrastructure, it would also free up more federal dollars to support important projects that have been delayed due to a lack of funding,” said Tipton. “A perfect example of one of these projects is the Arkansas Valley Conduit, which if built, would deliver safe drinking water to the people of the Lower Arkansas Valley.”
During a recent hearing in the Natural Resources Committee on the Department of the Interior’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request, Tipton asked Interior Secretary Zinke why funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit was zeroed out. Zinke indicated that Interior has asked for title transfer authority that would free up money to help fund projects like the conduit. Following the hearing Tipton wrote a letter to Zinke requesting additional information on the Department’s planned title transfers and funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit.
Responding on behalf of Zinke, BOR Commissioner Brenda Burman indicated that a more streamlined approach to title transfers could result in savings for the project beneficiaries. Burman also reiterated the BOR’s commitment to working with partners and stakeholders to expedite construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit.
H.R. 3281 would create a more efficient process for transferring the titles of certain BOR projects or facilities to local water users.
The Arkansas Valley Conduit project is the last component of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which Congress authorized in 1962. The conduit is a planned 130-mile-water delivery system from the Pueblo Damn to communities throughout the Arkansas River Valley to Southwest Colorado. The project would help replace a drinking supply that is naturally contaminated by radionuclides and therefore not in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03), Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) announced on Wednesday that they have introduced the Securing Airspace For Emergency Responders (SAFER) Act. This legislation, which is being introduced in both the House and Senate, makes the unauthorized use of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) over a wildfire a federal felony.
“When an unauthorized drone flies over a wildfire, it poses a huge threat to aircrafts working to suppress the fire and forces them to ground,” said Tipton. “Not only does this prevent the fire from being suppressed as quickly, but the firefighters on the ground are also left without the air support they may need to create an exit route in the event of an emergency. This legislation will deter this kind of problem in the future, helping Colorado’s brave firefighters perform their jobs in a safe and efficient manner.”
“I’ve heard firsthand from the men and women fighting fires in Colorado about the problems and risks they encounter with unauthorized drones flying over wildfires,” said Gardner. “It puts the lives of firefighting personnel at risk and enhances the threat to public safety by causing the grounding of aerial firefighting assets because the airspace over a fire isn’t secure. We need to put a stop to this and the SAFER Act can help do that by making it a federal felony to fly unauthorized drones over wildfires.”
“When managing wildfires, the last thing firefighters should have to worry about is interference from unauthorized drones,” Bennet said. “Coloradans understand the risks that recreational drone activity creates for our communities, and Senator Gardner, Congressman Tipton, and I will work to prohibit this unauthorized drone use to help our first responders do their jobs.”
In recent years emergency responders have had problems with individuals flying their drones over wildfires. Some instances have even required emergency responders to ground aircrafts helping fight the fires due to the risks created by unauthorized drones in the air space.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced Congressman Scott Tipton’s (CO-03) legislation to help states support public education through the responsible development of energy resources. The Education and Energy Act (H.R. 5859) will now move to the House Floor for consideration.
“The Education and Energy Act is a win-win for the nation,” said Tipton. “We can responsibly develop energy to ensure a sustainable funding stream for public education in our state, all while opening the door for good paying jobs and low energy prices.”
“Property taxes continue to be the largest source of funding for the public school system, so in rural counties in my district, where a majority of land is owned by the federal government and therefore not taxable, education budgets are tight,” continued Tipton. “The Education and Energy Act would fix this disparity by sending more of the federal revenues back to the county from which the royalties were derived.”
To watch Tipton’s full opening statement, click here.
H.R. 5859 would dedicate more of the federal share of mineral and geothermal lease royalties back to the states to support public education. The legislation, as amended during the Natural Resources markup, would send 33 percent of the federal portion of new mineral and geothermal revenues to the county in which the royalties were generated, and 17 percent would be split equally between all 50 states.
The bill would only apply to new leases and revenues that exceed the Congressional Budget Office’s estimated revenue for the leases in the prior fiscal year.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) announced that the state of Colorado will receive approximately $40.1 million through the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for fiscal year 2018. This is the largest amount of money ever allocated in the program’s 40-year history.
“Many counties in Colorado’s Third District have broad expanses of non-taxable public lands and PILT helps to bridge the budgetary challenges created by the inability to collect tax revenues,” said Tipton. “I look forward to seeing these resources go back to communities in Western Colorado and support essential services such as education, infrastructure, and law enforcement.”
A county-by-county breakdown of PILT awards for Colorado can be found here.
The federal PILT program reimburses local governments for losses in tax revenues that are experienced due to the presence of large areas of non-taxable public lands.
The Department of Interior collects more than $9.6 billion annually from profitable activities on public lands. A portion of these revenues is shared with the states and counties. The balance is deposited in the U.S. Treasury, which in turn pays for various federal programs, including PILT.
Tipton has long been an advocate for the PILT Program. Last year, he wrote a letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee pushing for PILT to be a priority in 2018.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Congressman Tipton (CO-03) along with several of his colleagues urged the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor to allocate additional H-2B visas for seasonal workers. In a letter addressed to Secretary Nielsen and Secretary Acosta, Tipton and his colleagues assert that the 15,000 H-2B visas released by the Departments earlier this year fall short of what is needed and emphasize that additional visas must be issued if seasonal businesses, American workers and local economies are to thrive.
The text of the letter reads (in part):
“The lack of H-2B workers jeopardizes the survival of small and seasonal businesses and puts their American workers at risk of losing their jobs. We continue to hear daily from employers in our districts about business losses, harmful impacts to U.S. workers, and in some cases about the need to close their operations entirely due to the lack of workers.
“The H-2B program relies on well-vetted returning workers who come to the U.S. for seasonal employment and then go home. These workers are not immigrants. They provide an opportunity for U.S. businesses to operate at a greater capacity that meets the demand for their services, retain their full-time workers and contribute to their local economies. Seasonal workers help to support many upstream and downstream jobs. Every H-2B worker is estimated to create and sustain 4.64 American jobs.
“Relief for seasonal businesses that use the H-2B program is desperately needed. We urge you to immediately resume processing H-2B visa petitions up to the full number of H-2B visas authorized by the Fiscal 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act.”
See a pdf of the full letter here.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) voted for legislation that would reinstate benefits for veterans who served in the territorial waters of Vietnam during the Vietnam War and are now suffering from diseases that resulted from exposure to Agent Orange. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 299) passed the House with a vote of 382-0. Tipton is a cosponsor of this legislation.
“Since 2011, I have heard too many stories of Vietnam veterans from Colorado’s Third District who still do not immediately qualify for the VA’s Agent Orange treatment benefits, all because they did not serve on the ground in Vietnam,” said Tipton. “It is completely unacceptable that these brave veterans are denied the care they have earned and so desperately need because of arbitrary specifications.”
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed more than 12 million gallons of an herbicide called Agent Orange to remove jungle foliage and crops that hid and fed Viet Cong troops. It was later discovered that Agent Orange is linked to serious health effects like non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease.
The Agent Orange Act of 1991 (AOA) allowed the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to declare certain illnesses “presumptive” to Agent Orange exposure and enabled veterans to receive disability compensation for these illnesses. However, in 2002, the VA limited these benefits to only those veterans who could provide proof of “boots on the ground” in Vietnam. This left veterans who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam to file individual claims to restore their benefits, which have been decided on a case-by-case basis ever since.
H.R. 299 would relieve the challenges posed by this current policy by restoring presumptive coverage for those who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam and lifting the requirement that the individual prove direct exposure to Agent Orange.
Congressman Tipton also recently cosponsored legislation that would give veterans who served in Thailand during the Vietnam War the opportunity to prove exposure to Agent Orange and receive VA benefits for illnesses related to that exposure. Click here to learn more.
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218 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Scott Tipton was raised in Cortez, Colorado. He graduated from Ft. Lewis College in Durango, where he studied Political Science and became the first person in his family to earn a college degree. After college, he returned home to Cortez and co-founded Mesa Verde Indian Pottery with his brother Joe. It was through his business that Scott met his wife, Jean, who is a former school teacher. The Tipton’s have two daughters, Liesl and Elizabeth, and two sons-in-law, Chris and Jace.
After a lifetime running his small business, Scott was elected as a Republican to the Colorado House of Representatives for the 58th District in November of 2008. During his time at the state House, he worked to ensure quality water for the people of Colorado and to improve the air quality of Southwest Colorado. He also sponsored legislation to protect children from the worst criminal offenders by mandating harsher penalties for child sex-offenders and allowing law enforcement to collect DNA evidence from suspects through Jessica’s Law and Katie’s Law.
Scott was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and again in 2012 for a second term.
In the 112th Congress, Scott pushed hard to advance a federal version of Katie’s Law to encourage additional states to implement minimum DNA collection standards and enhanced collection processes for felons in order to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to prevent violent crimes, and protect women and children. That effort became a reality when the President signed Katie’s Law on January 3, 2013.
Using his positions on the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Small Business Committees, Scott has is fighting for the issues that most directly impact Coloradans, many of which involve our state’s extensive open spaces and natural resources. In his first term, Scott introduced legislation to encourage healthy forest management and prevent wildfire, as well as passed a bill in the House with bipartisan support to advance the development of clean, renewable hydropower. He is also leading the charge in Congress to stop a federal grab of privately-held water rights, standing up for farmers and ranchers, the ski industry, and all who rely on their water rights to survive.
Scott is champion of advancing an all-of-the-above energy solution that balances common sense conservation with responsible development. He passed the Planning for American Energy Act through the House (as a title under the American Domestic Energy and Jobs Act) to put requirements into place to develop wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale and minerals, based on the needs of the American people.
Scott has used his experience as a small businessman to inform his work as a Subcommittee Chairman on the Small Business Committee. Here he has worked to protect farmers and ranchers from regulatory overreach, as well as push for expanded trade opportunities for Colorado products. Scott is a co-founder of the Congressional Small Business Caucus, a bipartisan caucus committed to open dialogue on the issues that most impact small businesses. Members of the Congressional Small Business Caucus are dedicated to advancing efforts to foster the economic certainty needed for small businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed and create jobs.
In the 113th Congress, Scott continues to represent the many interests of one of the most diverse and geographically vast districts in the nation. He will fight to bring Colorado common sense to Washington—focusing on reforming regulation, protecting Colorado’s natural environment, encouraging responsible all-of-the-above energy development, reducing government spending, and removing hurdles so that small businesses can do what they do best—create jobs.
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