Monday, September 11, 2017

With Back-to-School Season Underway, Brownley Introduces BEST Act to Encourage Bilingual Proficiency Among High School Graduates and Improve U.S. Workforce Competitiveness

Source: House Representative Julia Brownly (D-CA, 26th) LLC

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) reintroduced the Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching (BEST) Act. The bill establishes a federal grant program to help states establish a Biliteracy Seal program that encourages and recognizes high school students who achieve proficiency in English and a second language, and that better enables these young people to compete in the global workforce.

“With back-to-school season underway, it is an important time to be focused on setting up America’s young people to succeed,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “We all know how much being proficient in a second language can give you a leg up in today’s globalized, competitive economy. Students in other countries are receiving strong multilingual educations, and America must do more to ensure our young people can compete. Helping states nationwide adopt a Biliteracy Seal program will better prepare our children to succeed in the global workforce and sends a clear signal that our nation is seriously committed to this endeavor.”

California’s State Seal of Biliteracy program was first established in 2011 when legislation sponsored by then-Assemblywoman Brownley was signed into law. Since then, over 146,000 students from California have graduated with this seal. In the 2015-2016 school year, 843 schools across 291 school districts in California participated in the program. The program has also been replicated in 26 states and the District of Columbia, which have each approved and established their own statewide Biliteracy Seal programs.

The BEST Act is cosponsored by Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Rick Nolan (D-MN). It is also supported by the California Association for Bilingual Education, California School Board Association, Californians Together, Early Edge, the National Council for Languages and International Studies, and Unidos Us.

“California has recognized the talents and gifts of over 146,000 graduating seniors who speak English and over 30 other languages by granting them the State Seal of Biliteracy,” said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, Executive Director of Californians Together. “These students are a valuable resource to our state and nation. The BEST Act will encourage states across this nation to join California and 26 other states in valuing multilingual students who will be our future teachers, doctors, lawyers, and business and community leaders.”

“The success and growth of the Seal of Biliteracy in 27 states and the District of Columbia demonstrates that over half of our nation recognizes how important and enriching it is to be proficient in English and another language,” said Jan Gustafson-Corea, CEO of the California Association for Bilingual Education. “Communicating and performing academically in more than one language opens doorways of opportunity for our students, and offers our nation broader opportunities for global success, national security, and economic growth. Let’s provide this opportunity for all students in all 50 states!”

Democrats Introduce Bold Legislation to Broadly Expand Access to Higher Education

Source: House Representative Anthony Brown (D-MD, 4th)

Artistic Labels

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Representative Bobby Scott (VA-03), ranking member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Representative Susan Davis (CA-53), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, and Representatives Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Anthony Brown (MD-04), introduced the America’s College Promise Act of 2017, which would make two years of community college free and provide an affordable pathway to a four-year college degree for low-income students.

“Students and families are faced with the overwhelming burden of figuring out how to pay for college,” said Rep. Scott. “This bill will help more families gain access to quality, affordable higher education opportunities. For low-income students, this bill creates a clear pathway to a four-year degree. At a time when families feel that it is almost impossible to get a college degree at an affordable price, America’s College Promise (ACP) is a bold investment in our students to ensure they gain the skills they need to compete in a 21st century economy.”

The bill provides a federal match of $3 for every $1 invested by the state to waive community college tuition and fees for eligible students before other financial aid is applied. America’s College Promise would also help to cover a significant portion of tuition and fees— for either the first two years or last two years of college—for low-income students who choose to attend qualifying HBCUs, HSIs, AANAPISIs and other MSIs.

This legislation is a cornerstone proposal included in House Democrats’ Aim Higher initiative, a package of legislative initiatives focused on providing all students with access to a meaningful degree that costs less money and leads to a good paying job.

“Community college can be a springboard to a 4-year degree or an opportunity to develop critical workforce skills,” said Rep. Davis. “We must be expanding education opportunities at every level to allow students to find the education paths that work best for them. The America’s College Promise Act will open up even more opportunities for Americans to thrive in higher education and the workplace.”

“I’m a product of community college – it’s what took me from construction work to Congress. I know firsthand that we need to invest in our community colleges as affordable alternatives. We must encourage students to embark on a pathway that leads to a good-paying job,” said Rep. Norcross, an electrician by trade who attended Camden County College and an IBEW apprenticeship program. “Plus, as a father and grandfather, I know about the sticker shock of trying to put children through college. The cost of higher education is one of the greatest financial challenges facing American families today. It’s dragging down our economy and, more importantly, our children. The America’s College Promise Act gives our children a fair shot in the classroom and our families a fair break from that sticker shock.”

ACP was originally introduced in the 114th Congress with the goal of making community college as universal as high school. This Congress, eligibility has been expanded to allow both new and returning students to participate in America’s College Promise, in response to similar expansions in state-led Promise programs. Additionally eligibility for participation in the Pathways to HBCUs and MSIs portion of the bill has also been expanded to allow institutions to serve low-income students who may have qualified for a federal Pell Grant but were ineligible due to their immigration status.

"Far too many students are taking on the economic burden of attending college without the skills necessary to complete their degree,” said Rep. Moulton. “This bill will help provide our children the opportunity to be successful in the modern economy by eliminating barriers that stand in the way of a good education.”

“Every American should be able to earn the education and skills to compete and get ahead in the 21st century economy,” said Rep. Brown. “Community colleges are pathways to the middle class for millions of young people graduating high school, workers looking to get new skills and veterans transitioning back to civilian life. This game-changing bill will make community college free for responsible students, and create new affordable educational opportunities at diverse four-year colleges for low-income students – because in America, a quality education should be a right for everybody willing to work for it.”

ACP is supported by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Boyle Introduces Legislation To Abolish Debt Ceiling

Source: House Representative Brendan Boyle (D-PA, 13th)

Anytime Costumes

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13) has introduced legislation, H.R. 3693, to abolish the United States debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is a statutory limit on the amount of national debt that may be issued by the U.S. Treasury after it has spent and incurred that debt. It ultimately limits how much money the federal government can borrow to pay its own bills.

“The debt ceiling, and the constant crisis it creates through repeated threats of government shutdown, is unnecessary and problematic to say the least. It’s no wonder that only a handful of countries around the world currently follow this disruptive, arbitrary and restrictive fiscal practice,” said Congressman Boyle.

“When you receive your credit card statement at the end of the month, you can’t decide ‘I’ll pay this, but won’t pay that.’ Our current process of ‘governing by deadline’ and playing chicken with the debt ceiling is essentially doing just that – and risking the full faith and credit of the United States,” continued Boyle. “This is reckless and irresponsible.”

Congressman Boyle’s bill would repeal the statutory debt limit that sets a legal limit to how much the Treasury can borrow.

Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin has repeatedly emphasized to Congress that it’s critical to raise the debt ceiling by September 29. He has employed “extraordinary measures” since March to conserve money to pay our bills. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the government may miss certain payments in October if the Treasury Department is no longer able to pay the government’s bills. This would threaten payments on programs like Social Security and Medicare. An agreement struck between President Trump and Congressional Democrats just before midnight last night would end the threat of a government shutdown and a default on the national debt at the end of September, but only for three months. Congress will face a Dec. 8 deadline to strike another deal to avert those fiscal cliffs.


Source: Senator Todd Young (R - IN)

American National Standards Institute Inc.

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that oversees the United Nations, sent a letter to the Comptroller General asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations.

Young and Merkley issued the following joint statement today: “Reform of UN peacekeeping is needed, and this GAO review will provide Congress and the administration valuable information to ensure UN peacekeeping operations are as efficient and effective as possible—focusing on the protection of civilians.”

The request continues Young and Merkley’s active and bipartisan leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy.

Ambassador Haley has made UN peacekeeping reform a major priority, raising the issue again at the UN Security Council on August 29.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

On April 6, 2017, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley delivered remarks concerning UN peacekeeping operations at a meeting of the UN Security Council. Ambassador Haley highlighted five principles that she believes should guide and inform the assessment and reform of UN peacekeeping missions. Ambassador Haley’s five principles for effective UN peacekeeping included: 1) missions supporting political solutions; 2) host country cooperation; 3) realistic and achievable peacekeeping mandates; 4) exit strategies; and 5) willingness to adjust mandates when situations either improve or fail to improve.

On August 29, 2017, Ambassador Haley reiterated the need for reform of UN peacekeeping saying, “At the heart of this vision for reform are the civilians we are meant to serve.” She continued, “In peacekeeping, the UN must strive to ensure the ability of people to live in peace and security without a UN presence.”

As the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee responsible for oversight of the UN, we request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine, and provide answers to, the following questions regarding all ongoing UN peacekeeping operations:

1) To what degree do the mandate and associated peacekeeping operations support a realistic and achievable political solution and exit strategy? Is the peacekeeping force appropriately tasked, adequately resourced, and deployed in sufficient numbers to best protect civilians against current threats?

2) To what degree does the mission enjoy host-country cooperation? How are the Security Council and UN regional members using multilateral and bilateral pressure to support the peace process and prevent obstruction to peacekeepers carrying out their mandate?

3) When was the mandate last updated, and what differences exist between the mandate and the current situation on the ground?

We would welcome an interim update by December 1, 2017, but request that GAO provide its findings in a written final report no later than March 1, 2018. To the extent possible, we ask that this report be unclassified, but understand that classified reporting may be needed. Thank you for your timely attention to this request. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our staffs.

Warner Statement on Equifax Data Breach Affecting 143 million U.S. Consumers

Source: Senator Mark R.Warner (D - VA)

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a former technology executive, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, member of the Senate Banking Committee, and cofounder of the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement on the announcement from credit reporting firm Equifax that a data breach could have potentially affected 143 million consumers in the United States:

“The recent news that one of the largest credit reporting agencies and data brokers in the U.S. suffered a breach involving over 143 million Americans is profoundly troubling. While many have perhaps become accustomed to hearing of a new data breach every few weeks, the scope of this breach – involving Social Security Numbers, birth dates, addresses, and credit card numbers of nearly half the U.S. population – raises serious questions about whether Congress should not only create a uniform data breach notification standard, but also whether Congress needs to rethink data protection policies, so that enterprises such as Equifax have fewer incentives to collect large, centralized sets of highly sensitive data like SSNs and credit card information on millions of Americans. It is no exaggeration to suggest that a breach such as this – exposing highly sensitive personal and financial information central for identity management and access to credit– represents a real threat to the economic security of Americans.”

Sen. Warner has been a leader in calling for better consumer protections from data theft. In the aftermath of the Target breach that exposed the debit and credit card information of 40 million customers, Sen. Warner in 2014 chaired the first congressional hearing on protecting consumer data from the threat posed by hackers targeting retailers’ online systems. Sen. Warner also partnered with the National Retail Federation to establish an information sharing platform that allows the industry to better protect consumer financial information from data breaches.

Sen. Warner has been working to develop bipartisan legislation to create a comprehensive, nationwide and uniform data breach standard requiring timely consumer notification for breaches of financial data and other sensitive information.

Trump Administration Reviews Department of Education Guidelines on Campus Sexual Assault

Source: Senator Mark R.Warner (D - VA)

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Trump Administrations has announced that it is reviewing DOE's guidelines on campus sexual assault.

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the below statement on the Trump Administration's review of Department of Education guidelines on campus sexual assault:

"The Trump Administration’s review of 2011 guidance about sexual assault enforcement responsibilities on college campuses and at K-12 schools under Title IX should be a red flag for those of us who care deeply about student safety. We should be vigilant in monitoring this process and look for opportunities to engage constructively when possible. Any reconsideration of the current guidance should prioritize the needs of survivors and facilitate improvements in how schools investigate, adjudicate and work to prevent sexual assaults. I hope Secretary DeVos recognizes the gravity of her responsibility: young people across the country are counting on her to get this right."

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Van Hollen and Toomey Call for Swift Passage of BRINK Act

Source: Senator Patrick J.Toomey (R - PA)

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing this week on North Korea, where U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) discussed the urgent need to pass the bipartisan BRINK Act. At the hearing, experts agreed that secondary financial sanctions and fines, such as mandated by the BRINK Act, are necessary to exert maximum pressure on Kim Jong Un and his enablers and would impose penalties against financial institutions that support the North Korean regime. The hearing occurred on the heels of a test of a possible hydrogen bomb by North Korea-underscoring the need to act.

"There is bipartisan agreement-echoed by expert testimony-that the rapidly escalating situation in North Korea demands quick action from Congress," said Senator Van Hollen. "We must expand and enforce sanctions against Kim Jong Un's regime-and the BRINK Act would to do just that. This bill will put sharp enforcement teeth behind United Nations sanctions and send a clear message to anyone who has any business dealings with North Korean entities-you can do business with them or you can do business with the United States, but you can't do business with both."

"North Korea's nuclear weapons program poses a grave threat to the U.S. and our allies. Yet, we have not imposed the toughest possible sanctions against North Korea," said Senator Toomey. "In addition, there is ample evidence that North Korea is extensively evading existing sanctions. That is why Senator Van Hollen and I have introduced the BRINK Act, legislation that would expand and enforce tough sanctions against financial institutions and firms that are providing illicit support to Kim Jong Un's regime."

You can watch Senator Van Hollen's remarks and Senator Toomey's remarks from the Banking hearing.

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Source: Senator Jon Tester (D - MT)

Big Sandy, MT - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- After Equifax announced that 143 million of its customers had their personal information compromised, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is demanding that the company’s CEO appear before his Senate Banking Committee.

In a letter to the consumer credit reporting agency’s CEO Richard Smith, Tester said he has grave concerns that millions of Americans had their names, Social Security numbers, addresses, driver’s licenses, and birthdates put in jeopardy after a massive data breach at the company.

“I respectfully request that you voluntarily brief or testify before the entire Senate Banking Committee, on which I serve, so we can question you about these new developments of compromised information, how you plan on compensating harmed customers, and how you plan on securing individuals' personal data in the future,” Tester wrote.

Tester asked Smith why it took nearly six weeks to notify customers that their personal financial information had been compromised. He also raised concerns about how this will impact people’s credit.

“As you well know, what happened to consumers in July is unacceptable and has far-reaching impacts beyond a data breach,” Tester added. “I believe it is critically important that Equifax make their customers whole in a timely fashion.”

Tester has a long record of protecting consumers and holding corporate executives accountable. In 2016, Tester grilled Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf after it was announced the bank illegally opened over two million deposit and credit card accounts without customers’ knowledge or consent.

Tester’s letter to CEO Smith can be found HERE.

Shaheen’s Amendment That Repeals Global Gag Rule Added to Foreign Operations Funding Bill

Source: Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D - NH)


Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) amendment to boost funds for international family planning and reproductive health programs received bipartisan support and was added to the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs annual appropriations bill that allocates federal dollars for programs directed by the US State Department.

“The global gag rule is a dangerous and ill-conceived policy that blocks millions of women and their families from receiving critical aid and assistance,” said Shaheen. “My amendment will preserve and restore funding levels for international organizations that help to prevent over fifty million unintended pregnancies around the world, and reduce the number of maternal deaths we see from those accessing unsafe abortions when the lack of family planning leaves them without options. I’m very pleased that this amendment was approved on a bipartisan basis and hope that Congress can continue to make progress to repeal this disastrous policy.”

Senator Shaheen’s amendment repeals the global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. The Mexico City Policy bans federal dollars from supporting foreign non-governmental groups that provide the full scope of family planning and maternal health services that include information about and referrals for abortions, even if these activities are funded with their own, non-US funds. By law, federal dollars are already prohibited from supporting abortions, however the Mexico City Policy goes further by banning foreign non-governmental organizations from providing information on or referrals for abortion services as part of delivering comprehensive women's healthcare. This includes a prohibition on care and counseling for those harmed by abortions. Senator Shaheen’s amendment allows these non-governmental groups to provide family planning services, preserves previous levels of funding for USAID family planning programs, and restores the United States’ contribution to the United Nations Populations Fund to 2017 funding levels.

Senator Shaheen is a leader on women’s reproductive rights and has been advocating to repeal the global gag rule since President Trump reinstated it through an executive order in January. She led a bipartisan group of Senators and introduced the Global HER Act to repeal the dangerous policy and ensure international organizations are able to provide women around the world with the necessary care they need. Senator Shaheen serves on the Appropriation’s Subcommittee on the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs and is also the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sasse Questions FEMA's Denial of Relief to Churches

Source: Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE)

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Ben Sasse sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long, demanding answers regarding FEMA's decision to deny disaster relief funding to three churches seeking to rebuild their communities in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

"This policy discriminates against people of faith," wrote Sasse. "It sends the message that communities of worship aren’t welcome to participate fully in public life.... It reduces the facilities and volunteer time, talent, and effort available to support the broader community. And it is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s recent 7-2 ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer.... In other words, it is unjust. It is unconstitutional. It is unreasonable. And it is impeding ongoing recovery efforts."

Full text of the letter can be found below:

September 08, 2017

Dear Administrator Long,

All across the country, Americans have been closely watching rescue and restoration efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, amazed at the uncomplaining resilience of Texans. While our hearts break for the families who have lost lives and homes, they also swell with pride in the volunteers, neighbors, and first responders who sprang to action. That’s what America is about, and that’s why it is particularly disturbing to hear reports that FEMA has denied three churches disaster funds to help rebuild their communities.

As Congress works to mobilize resources for those affected by this disaster, one of our duties is to exercise our oversight authority to ensure that taxpayer money is being spent efficiently and effectively. In the wake of Harvey’s devastation and in anticipation of future times of need—especially in light of the potential for catastrophic damage from Hurricane Irma—there is no room for discriminatory policies that hinder the tasks of recovery and rebuilding. That is why I am disturbed to learn of FEMA’s refusal to allow religious Americans equal access to disaster aid.

When disasters strike, it’s our churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations that spring into action, offering crucial facilities, manpower, and numerous other forms of support to affected communities. For the victims of a disaster such as Harvey, so many of whom have lost their home or—worse yet—their loved ones, it’s these institutions that provide the helping hands to rebuild suddenly shattered lives.

Nevertheless, religious organizations are not themselves immune from the devastating effects of disasters. Indeed, some of the most inspiring stories we’ve heard in recent days involve communities of worship going the extra mile to help their neighbors even as they themselves have suffered catastrophic damage. But even as these communities inspire the nation by facing even the most difficult circumstances with a servant’s heart, FEMA categorically excludes institutions that use their facilities primarily for religious purposes from receiving recovery aid grants available to otherwise similarly situated non-profit organizations.[1] When facilities for stamp and coin collecting are eligible for aid,[2] but houses of worship aren’t, something has gone seriously wrong.

What are the consequences of this policy?

Obviously, this policy discriminates against people of faith. It sends the message that communities of worship aren’t welcome to participate fully in public life. It incentivizes these groups to focus their resources on the damage their own facilities sustained. It reduces the facilities and volunteer time, talent, and effort available to support the broader community. And it is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s recent 7-2 ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, in which the Court held that the exclusion of a religious organization “from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution . . . and cannot stand.”[3]

In other words, it is unjust. It is unconstitutional. It is unreasonable. And it is impeding ongoing recovery efforts.

In light of this troubling policy, please provide answers to the following questions:

1. How long has FEMA maintained a policy[4] that religious organizations are ineligible for disaster recovery aid? Please provide a copy of every policy on religious organizations’ eligibility since the enactment of the Stafford Act.[5]

2. In the months since the Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran, has FEMA taken any steps to reexamine this policy to ensure its compliance with the Court’s holding?

3. Will you commit to using any and all expedited authorities at your disposal to suspend or limit the application of the policy to ongoing recovery efforts?

4. Will you commit to a full revision of the policy to correct the legal, moral, and practical problems with the policy identified above?
In light of the need for expedited action, please respond in writing in the next 30 days. If you have any questions, please contact my staff at (202) 224-4224. I look forward to your prompt response.


Ben Sasse
United States Senator

[1] Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency, Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide, FP 104-009-2 at 12 (April 2017).

[2] Id. at 14.

[3] Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, No. 15–577, slip op. at 15 (U.S. June 26, 2017).

[4] “Policy” here refers to the requirement that “[f]acilities established or primarily used for . . . religious . . . activities are not eligible” for financial assistance under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide, supra note 1, at 12.

[5] Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Pub. L. No. 100-707, 102 Stat. 4689 (1988).

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Legal Expert Urges Congress to Pass Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act

Source: Senator Rob Portman (R - OH)

Washington, D.C. - September 11, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) highlighted a new op-ed in The Hill from Mary Leary, law professor at The Catholic University of America, former Deputy Director for the Office of Legal Counsel at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and former director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse (NCPCA), detailing her support for the bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The legislation, widely supported by dozens of Ohio and national anti-human trafficking advocates and law enforcement, will narrowly amend the 1996 Communications Decency Act to help state and local prosecutors hold accountable companies like Backpage that knowingly facilitate the trafficking of women and children online. Courts, as well as district attorneys and 50 attorneys general from around the country, have long urged Congress to fix this law to protect trafficking victims.

“This legislation is a test for Congress,” says Leary in her op-ed. “Will it side with common sense and agree that federal law cannot give immunity to active partners of human traffickers, or will it side with corporations that want the CDA to be left untouched and perverted to afford them broader immunity than ever intended.”

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found below and the full op-ed can be found at this link.

In Bid to Amend Communications Decency Act, Congress Must Side with Trafficking Victims

Mary G. Leary

The Hill

September 7, 2017

The courts cry for help and Congress holds the protection of trafficking victims in its hands. Just two weeks ago a California Court dismissed the pimping charges against the owners of for its role in allegedly knowingly collaborating with human traffickers to sell women and children online for sex. In so doing, it joined an increasing list of courts asking Congress to amend the so-called Communications Decency Act (CDA), which they have interpreted to provide immunity for such companies.

In closing his opinion, Judge Lawrence Brown made this shocking statement: “Until Congress sees fit to amend the immunity law, the broad reach of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act even applies to those alleged to support the exploitation of others by human trafficking.” That’s right – immunity for collaborators of human trafficking.

This is yet another common sense appeal to Congress to make clear that companies who actively partner with human sex traffickers to sell victims online are not immune from liability. Judge Brown’s opinion joins a growing chorus of countless human trafficking victims, law enforcement, and a broad coalition of non-profit organizations to amend the CDA.

The good news is that Congress has begun to listen.

This summer, Congress has acted in a bipartisan way with two widely sponsored bills in each chamber. The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 has nearly 30 co-sponsors in the Senate. These bipartisan legislative proposals demonstrate it is possible to draft a narrowly tailored, common-sense clarification to the CDA. The Senate bill, for example, provides for this simple proposition: a company that knowingly acts to assist human sex traffickers should not have immunity intended for Good Samaritan companies working in good faith to limit this material…

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