Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2018

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes.


Senator Sasse: (4:23 p.m)

  • Spoke on U.S-Russia relations.
    • "First, at the podium in the White House Press Room, it was suggested that the U.S. government is unsure if Putin's reelection was perhaps legitimate, free, and fair. Or perhaps the U.S. is morally indifferent to the question of whether Putin's reelection was fair, free, and legitimate. It was not fair or free or legitimate, and it matters. The second horrible thing that happened yesterday is that the president's confidential briefing materials for his call with Vladimir Putin were anonymously leaked to the public. That should not happen. The president's call, congratulatory call, was terribly ill-advised, but that doesn't change the fact that the leaking of the confidential briefing materials for his call were also wrong. It shouldn't be difficult to say both of these things."


Senator Durbin: (4:45 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to Senator Thad Cochran.
    • "He prefers common ground to scorched Earth because he knows it's better to build on. Senator Cochran and I have served together in the Senate for more than two decades. For much of that time, we've both been on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He's been the committee's ranking member and chairman twice. I can only think of a time or two when he and I disagreed so completely hon an issue that we found ourselves unable to find that principled compromise. Some may call that old school. I call it leadership in a representative democracy. Senator Cochran's skill as a negotiator has served Mississippi and the United States exceedingly well. He's helped keep his state and our nation strong and safe and economically sound."
  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "Mr. President, there is a crisis that we face in this country involving DACA. It is a crisis created when president trump announced then of the program on September 5 of last year and gave us a deadline of March 5 of this year to come up with an alternative. Many of us, including self, battled - including yourself, battled mightily to do that. We never could come up with a proposal in which the president accepted. As a consequence, the destiny of these DACA recipients is uncertain. They are now temporarily protected by an injunction from two different federal lawsuits, an injunction which could end in a matter of weeks or months."

Jones, Sullivan, Wyden

The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 1865)

Mar 21 2018

Senator Jones: (1:06 p.m)

  • Delivered his maiden speech to the Senate.
    • "Which leads me to the reasoning I rise today. I want to speak about an issue that has evaded the broad, bipartisan discussions and moderation that Senator Heflin spoke of. Instead, it seems to have been an issue where folks quickly take sides and often criticize those who they disagree with. It's time, Mr. President, that we have a serious, pragmatic, and practical discussion - not a debate or negotiation - but a dialogue on the steps that we can take to reduce the harm caused by gun violence in this country. I know, Mr. President, with just those words people across this country may have already started reaching for their phones to start tweeting or posting without another word, without knowing where I might stand on this issue."


Senator Sullivan: (1:32 p.m)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "And what we do in this legislation, Mr. President, is we're taking the fight to one of the places in this country where human trafficking, sex trafficking has really exploded, and that's the internet. So the bipartisan legislation we are debating right now will ensure that websites and other institutions on the internet and the companies related that knowingly, and that's an important word, knowingly facilitate sex trafficking will be held for their actions. It will over the internet and give more resources to state prosecute toaster go after these heinous crimes. I think you're seeing in the remarks from a whole host of senators this morning that we're going to make real progress in the fight in online sex trafficking without threatening the years of progress we made in creating a free and open internet."


Senator Wyden: (1:51 p.m)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "Mr. President and colleagues, I fear that the legislation before the Senate now is going to be another failure. I fear that it's going to do more to take down ads than to take down traffickers. I fear it will send these monsters, these evil people who traffic beyond the grasp of law enforcement to the shadowy corners of the dark web, a place where everyday search engines don't go, and it's going to be even easier for criminals, these vicious traffickers, to find a safe haven for their extraordinarily evil acts. Mr. President, in many respects, this debate mirrors one the congress went through a little bit more than 20 years ago."

McConnell, Murkowski, Fischer

The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 1865)

Mar 21 2018

Senator McConnell: (12:43 p.m)

  • Spoke on the upcoming legislative agenda.
    • "I will have more to say once the bill has been filed, but I'm proud to announce it will meet a number of vitally important objectives. This includes the largest year on-year increase in funding for our service members in 15 years. Along with major steps forward for law enforcement and border security, for the fight against opioid addiction, for our veterans, and for a number of other priorities. But before we take up that measure, the Senate has a very important piece of business to tackle. This afternoon, we'll vote on the anti-sex trafficking legislation we have been considering this week. I want to thank Senator Portman who has worked hard to advance this reform, Chairman Thune for shepherding it through the Commerce Committee."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "The bigger paychecks for middle-class Americans as the I.R.S. withholds less of their money. But other exciting parts of this once in a generation reform aren't receiving the attention they deserve. Today, for example, is an initial deadline for states to nominate areas they would like to be designated as opportunity zones. This is thanks to a provision incorporated into the tax reform through the unflagging dedication of our colleague, Senator Scott."
  • Unanimous Consent –
    • That at 1:45 p.m. today, Senator Wyden be recognized for up to 60 minutes to offer and debate concurrently his Amendments #2213 and #2212, to H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.
    • That these be the only amendments in order and that following the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate VOTE in relation to the amendments in the order listed with a 60-vote affirmative threshold required for adoption of each amendment. 
    • Finally, that following disposition of these amendments, the bill be read a third time and the Senate vote on passage of H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, as amended, if amended. 
    • (Without Objection)


Senator Murkowski: (12:49 p.m)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "I think we all know that there are many, many reasons why we need to deter the use of internet resources by predators. The wisdom of this is pretty apparent on its face. This legislation is for the protection of our children, the most vulnerable among us. But I have an additional reason for urging the adoption of this legislation, and that's the protection of native women, the protection of native women and girls from predators. I have been talking about the trafficking of native women and girls for - for as long as I have been here in the senate, now some 15 years."


Senator Fischer: (12:56 p.m)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "The perpetrators trap their victims in unconscionable and violent situations, forcing them to commit sexual acts against their will. This practice occurs in nearly every area code. It's happening closer to home than we even realize. A report published by Creighton University and the Women's Fund of Omaha found there are 900 individuals for sale online every month in Nebraska. Almost all of them female. Our government has a responsibility to stand up and do something to protect women and children from exploitation. Fighting the horrific scourge of human trafficking is priority for me, and it's a priority for the United States Senate."

Heitkamp, McCaskill, Nelson

The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 1865)

Mar 21 2018

Senator Heitkamp: (12:01 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "We're here today on the cusp of passing a bill that will provide victims a real opportunity to seek justice and recover damages from websites who profited on their pain of being sold for sex, while also providing new tools to prosecutors, including my former colleagues, the state attorneys general, to go after these sites and after their owners. Again, I want to thank Senator Portman and Senator Blumenthal for their tireless work in trying to fashion the right mix of understanding of the importance of the communications decency act to the development of this tool we call the internet, but also to make sure that this is not used as a tool for incredibly bad actors who would prey on the most vulnerable among us."


Senator McCaskill: (12:14 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "And what we learned through the investigation was that this law as it exists now was their protector. They were being protected for their bad acts by an outdated law that was being twisted and distorted to allow them to make billions of dollars of profit. And, frankly, millions upon millions upon millions of dollars of profit off trafficking young women for sex. So prosecution of cases is not driven by headlines. It's not driven by press conferences. It's not driven by photo ops. Prosecution of case is driven by evidence, and you only get evidence after a thorough and complete investigation."


Senator Nelson: (12:34 p.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "These shady and she is highly profitable website operators know full well how their sites are being used. And what's more, they're hiding behind a decades' old legal shield to I am immunize themselves from - to immunize themselves from prosecution. And we've got to change that legal shield that was set up a decade ago for a different purpose. And so the bill by Senators Portman, Blumenthal, McCain, Heitkamp, and myself - and now many others - would eliminate the safe harbor in law for sex traffickers, and it would allow state attorneys general, other state and local prosecutors, and the victims themselves to go after the websites that knowingly provide a platform for sex trafficking."

Portman, Thune, Blumenthal

The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 1865)

Mar 21 2018

Senator Portman: (11:37 a.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "You'll hear from my colleagues today, Mr. President, on a number of things we've done in this congress in this process of putting together the right legislative fix to be able to take away an immune itty unbelievably that some of these evil websites have under federal law to be able to sell people online. You'll hear about the 18-month investigation into online trafficking and into You'll hear about stories of online sex trafficking and some of the injustice experienced by some of the victims and survivors who have come to us back home in our states and come here to testify bravely here in the United States Congress."


Senator Thune: (11:40 a.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "Senator Portman has been absolutely relentless in pushing and driving this process forward, and I commend him for his important work which will culminate today, I certainly hope, with a big bipartisan vote in support of the legislation in front of us. I also want to commend bipartisan group of senators that worked hard to draft the stop enabling sex traffickers act which includes Senator Blumenthal, Senator Heitkamp and Senator Portman and Senator McCain who has been an advocate for addressing this issue for so many years and wish he could be here to participate and to be able to vote for its passage."


Senator Blumenthal: (11:47 a.m.)

  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "I have been involved in law enforcement for most of my career, and I'm proud to stand here now in this chamber following the chairman of the Commerce Committee whose dedication to this cause has brought us to the finish line, and my colleague, Senator Portman, whose leadership on this bill is invaluable. I want to second a number of points that have been made by Senator Portman and senator Thune, most especially about the collaborative effort involved in this bill, bipartisan championing of a cause whose time has come, and particularly to our colleague John McCain and his wife Cindy McCain, whose energy and spirit, courage and strength have really been an inspiration to all of us, I also want to thank Senators Heitkamp, Whitehouse, and Cornyn, because their contribution has been enormous as well."


Opening Remarks

Mar 21 2018

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 11:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to the consideration of H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.
  • There will be up to four hours of debate concurrently on Wyden Amendments #2212 and #2213, to H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.
  • At a time to be determined, the Senate will VOTE in relation to Wyden Amendment #2212 and then Wyden Amendment #2213 to H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, with a 60 vote affirmative threshold required for each amendment.
  • Following disposition of the Wyden amendments, the Senate will VOTE on passage of H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, as amended, if amended.


Senator McConnell: (11:02 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the timing of votes related to the snow storm.
    • "I'd like this morning to give an update for my colleagues given the challenges associated with the weather and also as we move toward a conclusion of the omnibus. I've spoken to the Democratic leader. It's my expectation we'll move forward with votes today hoping to move them forward on the sex trafficking bill, moving them up in the day, hope to accommodate safe travel so we will notify everyone when votes are scheduled."