October 30, 2019 — Last night, the House passed by voice vote the Expositions Provide Opportunities Act (EXPO Act), authored by Rep. Dean Phillips (D, MN-03). Bloomington, in Phillips’s Third Congressional District, is one of two U.S. cities interested in competing to host the 2027 World Expo. In a unanimous, bipartisan show of support, the entire Minnesota House Delegation signed on as original co-sponsors.
Under current law, the U.S. is the only G7 country that relies on private donations to guarantee its presence at world expos, and the only country in the world that relies entirely on private funding for the creation of its pavilion. As a result, funding for seven of the last 10 American pavilions have fallen short of need.
According to James Ogul, InPark Magazine’s World Expo Editor, “Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World’s Fair to be held in the Middle East will open on October 20, 2020 and 25 million visits are expected over the six months it will operate. 192 nations will be participating, but U.S. participation has been in doubt due to a lack of success in raising private sector funding for a $60 million pavilion. The State Department by law could not spend Federal money for the pavilion as proscribed by legislation. H.R. 4842 will hopefully make participation possible by allowing federal funding for a U.S. Pavilion for the first time in 25 years.”
The EXPO Act authorizes funding for the United States pavilion at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, and, in doing so, paves the way for American cities like Bloomington to bid for hosting rights at future fairs.
“World expos are an opportunity to strengthen our international relationships and showcase American innovation on the world stage,” said Phillips. “I thank the City of Bloomington and my fellow Minnesotans in Congress for their hard work to restore our historic leadership role and bring commerce and ideas right to our doorstep. This is how democracy should work – Democrats and Republicans in Congress working together with constituents and government agencies to craft legislation that will benefit localities and the nation as a whole.”
“This bipartisan support for our nation’s public diplomacy has created crucial momentum for our efforts to bring a future World’s Fair to the United States,” said Mark Ritchie, former Minnesota Secretary of State, current President of Global Minnesota, and a leader in the public-private partnership working to host the 2027 World Expo in Minnesota, “We work closely with the U.S. State and Commerce Departments to advance economic ties with companies around the world and know from this experience that this EXPO Act will dramatically boost the effectiveness of our efforts, bringing more economic activity to the entire nation.”
The EXPO Act establishes Congressional oversight of the State Department funding and requires the State Department to provide reports to Congress on investment in the U.S. stemming from the pavilion. It also requires State Department reporting and certification of human rights and human trafficking issues in the United Arab Emirates, host nation for the 2020 World Expo and pavilion location.
“We should always jump at the opportunity to promote American values and exceptionalism on the world stage,” said Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R, MN-01). “I am proud that the Minnesota delegation is leading the charge on this issue.”
“In order for the entrepreneurship and innovation of our country to be on full display at Expo 2020, we need the partnership of the State Department,” said Rep. Angie Craig (D, MN-02). “This bill would not only allow the State Department to fund a U.S. pavilion at Expo 2020, it will also make our cities more competitive locations for hosting future Expos. I’m proud to work with my fellow Minnesotans on this bipartisan effort.”
“American pavilions used to be a staple at world fairs, but in recent decades, the U.S. has fallen short of this historic leadership role,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D, MN-04). “By allowing the State Department to fund a U.S. pavilion at Expo 2020, this bill paves the way for American cities to fully compete for World Expo hosting rights and put American innovation in the spotlight on a global scale.”
“The World Expo is an opportunity to showcase America’s innovation, culture, and values,” said Rep. Tom Emmer (R, MN-06). “Last Congress, I was proud to lead the effort to allow Minnesota’s bid to host the World Expo move forward by rejoining the Bureau of International Expositions. Minnesota is a great state with a lot to offer, and Minnesotans will continue their pursuit to host the World Expo in the future. I am proud to support the United States’ efforts to participate in the World Expo in Dubai in 2020.”
Reps. Ilhan Omar (D), Collin Peterson (D), and Pete Stauber (R) of Minnesota, Reps. Lizzie Fletcher (D), Pete Olson (R), and Michael McCaul (R) of Texas, and Rep. Ted Yoho (R) of Florida are also co-sponsors. Houston has expressed interest in hosting the 2030 World Expo.