Huffman Votes to Pass America COMPETES Act

Legislation Would Strengthen Supply Chains & U.S. Economic Competitiveness

February 04, 2022

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American COMPETES Act – a strong package to fix our supply chains, start making more critical products here in America, turbocharge American scientific and technological leadership, and strengthen our global competitiveness. The bill includes multiple provisions championed by Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife (WOW).

“America has long been a world leader in the global marketplace, forging innovations in science and technology and building strong at home manufacturing– but we’re falling behind. For the sake of our economic, financial, and national security, we must restore America’s prominence on the world stage,” Rep. Huffman said. “The America COMPETES Act reinvigorates our innovation and economic strength, ensuring that America cannot only compete, but win in the global market. I’m also glad that my bipartisan bill on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing has been largely incorporated into COMPETES. It will help level the playing field for American fishing industries and make us more competitive in the long run.”

Earlier this week, Rep. Huffman spoke on the House Floor to advocate for the many Natural Resources provisions in the America COMPETES Act, particularly his bill with Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act, to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing and human rights abuses in the seafood supply chain and make America more competitive in the global seafood market.

Click here to view Rep. Huffman’s full speech advocating for the America COMPETES Act.

The Natural Resources Committee Division includes provisions to protect our oceans, combat wildlife trafficking, and ensure that seafood imported into the country does not come from illegal or slave-harvested fishing practices. These provisions, supported by Rep. Huffman, include:

  • Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention: China is a major source of IUU fish products and a top country of concern for human rights violations in the seafood supply chain. This bill strengthens laws surrounding illegal fishing and slave labor provisions.
  • Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction: Large-scale driftnet fishing is already illegal on the high seas. This bill phases out large-scale driftnet fishing in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone within five years.
  • Marine Mammal Research and Response: Increasing activity in the Arctic, including new ice breakers and shipping lanes by China, Russia, and other countries, threatens the fragile Arctic ecosystem and the marine mammal species that depend upon it. This bill directs analysis, planning, and cooperation to expand Arctic mammal rescue and response capabilities. This will support local governments and nonprofit organizations in marine mammal protection and preservation efforts.
  • Restoring Resilient Reefs: The trade of vulnerable deep-sea coral species threatens the long-term conservation of corals. These titles reauthorize and amend the Coral Reef Conservation Act to better address climate change, ecosystem loss, disease outbreaks, and other threats to corals.
  • Buy American Seafood: U.S. government agencies that purchase seafood should prioritize buying seafood caught or harvested in the United States. This bill will provide authority to the Secretary of Commerce to make grants to promote the consumption of seafood products that are local or domestic, climate-friendly, or from well-managed but less known species.
  • Insular Affairs. Ocean and Coastal Mapping Integration Act: This section adds an assessment of progress in the study of Insular Areas and the effects of climate change as an element of the biennial report to Congress on progress in coverage and modernization of ocean and coastal mapping required by the Ocean and Coastal Mapping Integration Act. This inclusion would monitor and ensure progress towards innovation and science in U.S. Insular Areas.
  • Studies and Reports: Given China’s expansion of claims to the high seas and its planned exploitation of deep-sea resources, the U.S. should take proactive steps to address and understand uncertainties associated with deep seabed mining and the impacts of such activities on deep-sea carbon storage. This bill authorizes a National Academies study of the environmental impacts associated with deep seabed mining, including characterization of deep seabed ecosystems, assessment of species impacts, sediment plume impacts, and potentially related emissions.
  • Law Enforcement Attaché Deployment: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is a global leader in the effort to stop wildlife trafficking, which is driven by the global demand for wildlife products. The bill will expand the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement attaché program to 50 attachés.
  • Lacey Act Amendments: This bill addresses threats from wildlife disease and invasive species by amending the Lacey Act to allow for up to a three-year emergency ban on the importation of wildlife that poses imminent threats to human health. It also prohibits the transportation of injurious species across state lines in response to a circuit court ruling that limited the scope of the Lacey Act. It presumptively bans new species imports until they are found to not be invasive in the United States.
  • Shark Fin Sales Elimination: Since 1970, shark populations have declined by 70 percent, due in part to the gruesome and wasteful practice of shark finning. China has one of the largest markets for shark fin sales. Reducing the trade of illegally or unsustainably harvested shark fins is an important measure towards saving threatened and endangered shark species. The bill prohibits the domestic sale of shark fins and creates a violation penalty under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The bill also includes an amendment led by Rep. Huffman that directs the Secretary of Commerce to increase the number and diversity, equity, and inclusion of stem professionals working in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mission-relevant disciplines via a nonpartisan and independent 501(c)(3) organization to build the public-private partnerships necessary to achieve these priorities.

Additional Resources on the America COMPETES Act: