First adopted by the U.S. House of Representative in 2012 and then left to die in the Senate, the Foreign Cultural Exchange Immunity Clarification Act (FCEICA) is back, having been reintroduced by the three original sponsors along with a new co-sponsor.
CHL supported the bill the last time it made its way to Capitol Hill and recommended modifications that would help to bolster the State Department's review of IFSA requests. CHL once again supports the legislation.
IFSA, formally called the Immunity from Seizure Under Judicial Process of Cultural Objects Imported for Temporary Exhibition or Display (22 USC § 2459), protects foreign artwork on temporary loan in America from judicial seizure. It does so by preventing a civil litigant in a U.S. court from claiming the art itself to satisfy a judgment in a lawsuit, for example.
Nazi-era claims.--[Jurisdictional immunity] shall not apply in any case ... in which rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue ... and the action is based upon a claim that such work was taken in connection with the acts of a covered government during the covered period [of January 30, 1933 through May 8, 1945].
The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.
The full committee of the Judiciary quickly held a markup of the legislation, without a hearing, and yesterday approved the bill by voice vote. The measure will now be sent to the full House for consideration.
The Judiciary Committee declared, "By making a minor change to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, this legislation strengthens the ability of U.S. museums and schools to borrow foreign government-owned artwork and cultural artifacts."
A bipartisan statement issued by the bill's Republican and Democratic sponsors announced:
The United States has long recognized the importance of a cultural exchange of ideas through artwork loaned from other countries. We are proud to support this strongly bipartisan legislation that increases Americans’ access to beautiful artwork and artifacts from around the world, fosters knowledge and appreciation of the arts and other cultures, and encourages learning, history and creativity.UPDATE 5/9/14
The full House passed the bill on May 6 by a vote of 388 to 4. The bill was sent to the Senate and referred to the Judiciary Committee on May 7.
Photo credit: Micahel Slonecker