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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  March 17, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT

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quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd ask consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, i have eight unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have been approved by both the majority and minority leaders. and i'd ask consent that they be agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, this afternoon the senate will proceed to a vote on senate resolution 377, a resolution that would hold backpage.com in contempt of congress for not complying with an investigation being conducted by the permanent subcommittee on investigations. unfortunately, concerns have been raised that the web site has connections to sex trafficking. backpage refused to comply with the subpoena request from the subcommittee. we all know that sex trafficking is a heinous, evil practice, and we should not and we will not
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tolerate it. the 2012, in 2012 i sponsored an amendment to the violence against women act that included a sense of congress demanding that the owners of backpage.com remove the adult services section of their web site. and last year this chamber passed the justice for victims of trafficking act signed into law by president obama in the spring. this law contains language offered by the senator from illinois, senator kirk, which gives law enforcement officials additional tools to prosecute individuals like those behind backpage.com who knowingly facilitate the sale or advertisement of human trafficking victims online. so today's resolution is another opportunity for the senate to stand up for the victims of human trafficking. just as a reminder, when we debated the justice for victims
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of trafficking act, we talked about the profile of a typical victim of human trafficking, not that any of them are typical. but on average, it's a girl between the age of 12 and 14 years of age. so this is a horrific business and sordid business, and i would encourage every member to support this resolution. i want it to thank the chairman of the subcommittee, senator portman from ohio, who's been working tirelessly to highlight this issue and bring it to the senate's full attention. i'm grateful for his bipartisan efforts and strong leadership and look forward to voting on the resolution later today. voting "yes" on the resolution later today. on another matter, we all know president obama yesterday exercised his authority under the united states constitution to suggest to the senate a nominee for the supreme court of the united states. during the announcement,
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president obama spent time talking about the serious task of selecting a supreme court nominee, particularly one to succeed a legal lion like justice scalia, whom the president appropriately called one of the most influential jurists of our time. his point was that the supreme court of the united states, the highest court in the land, is an institution of unparalleled importance, and what happens at the supreme court affects the lives of every american. so lifetime appointments to this most powerful court in the land should not be taken lightly. as the president put it, our supreme court justices have been given the role as the final arbiters of american law for more than 200 years. of course today they consider and answer some of the most pressing and challenging controversies and questions of our time.
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agree with what the president said to that point. we all know that the supreme court is critical to our form of self-government and our democracy and the role it serves it an essential one. and when it plays a role that our founders did not intend, it really undermines respect for the rule of law and for the court as an institution. so the selection of the next supreme court justice should be handled thoroughly and thoughtfully. so i understand the president is taking his authority seriously, but under the same constitution, the same constitution that gives the president the authority to nominate a person to fill this vacancy, that same constitution has a separate responsibility for the united states senate either to grant or to withhold consent to that nomination. and now with the passing of justice scalia, the senate must
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exercise its constitutional authority as well. and we all, i know, regardless of how we come down on the controversy of the day with regard to when this vacancy should be filled, we all take this responsibility seriously. and because of that, i believe we should follow the example set by the minority leader, senator reid, the senior senator from new york, senator schumer; and vice president biden when he was chairman of the senate judiciary committee, their admonitions made over the years when they were in the majority and not move forward with the president's nominee at this time. i think it's only a matter of fundamental fairness to apply the same rules to the same situation no matter who's in the majority and who's in the minority. and when they were in the majority, they argued that these vacancies should not be filled at the last year of the president's term of office. they did that -- joe biden did
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in 1992 during the presidency of george bush, in 2005 george herbert walker bush; 2005 senator reid made that same argument when george w. bush was president of the united states. in 2007, 18 months before president george w. bush left office, senator schumer, the heir apparent to the democratic leader, said that there should be a presumption against confirmation. so it's only fair to play by the same set of rules which they themselves advocated. and based on the conduct, based on the behavior of our democratic colleagues when they were in the majority -- well, first when they were in the minority, when they filibustered judges for the first time, and later when they were in the majority before they saw the majority flip to republicans,
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the democratic leader packed the d.c. circuit court of appeals by invoking the so-called nuclear option, breaking the senate rules in a raw display of political power in order to pack a court that many people called the second-most important court in the land. so this lifetime appointment to the court is a critical check on the executive branch, a check that this administration has proved over and over again we need desperately. and as others and i have pointed out long before the president announced this nominee, this nomination will change the ideological balance of the supreme court for a generation. justice scalia served for 30 years. so because of that, because of all of this, i believe the american people should have their voices heard in the selection of the next supreme court nominee.
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we've already undertaken the process here of the democrats choosing their nominee for president. republicans are doing the same. there's just simply too much at stake to leave this decision in the hands of a president who is headed out the door. a decision that will have dramatic consequences on the balance of the court and the direction of the country for a generation to come. so i believe we should listen to the voices of the american people and allow them to cast their vote and to raise their voice and determine who will make that selection. let me just conclude, madam president, i know there has been some members of the press who asked about well, if not now, how about in a lame-duck session of the congress, that is, after the election, before the new president is confirmed? i think that is a terrible idea. if you believe in the principle that the american people's voice
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ought to be heard, it makes no sense to have an election and then to do it and not honor their selection. so i know some have expressed some concern about that, but i for one believe we ought to be consistent, and that consistent position is -- consistent principle is the american people deserve to be heard and their voice heeded on who makes that selection to something as important as filling this vacancy on the supreme court. madam president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president, i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: yesterday president obama nominated federal court judge merrick garland to fill the vacancy left by the death of antonin scalia. the president has done his job. now it's time for the senate to do ours, to use the advise and consent on this nominee, to not treat that as an option but as
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an obligation. it's my sincere hope that in the coming days and weeks, all my senate colleagues will join me in meeting the nominee, evaluating him based on his merits and on his record, and that republican objections about this individual be laid aside so that at least they can look at his qualifications, his judicial temperament and his record. chief garland has served the united states court of appeals since 1997. let me stress, he has served on this important court for almost 20 years. he was previously at a law firm as a partner. he served as u.s. attorney for the district of columbia. and as deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the u.s. department of justice, and finally he served as a u.s. circuit judge earlier in his career. he is highly qualified as a
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nominee. america deserves to have a fully functioning court, and they deserve to have senators who will do their job in reviewing this nominee. the supreme court cases which impact our fundamental rights and our operations of government including the extent of property rights, privacy rights, the balance between civil liberties and national security, how to ensure equal protection under the law and how to guarantee adequate and due process are all things that deserve to have a full supreme court. we need a fully functioning court to keep the balance that we have in our system, the checks and balances throughout our government, and we cannot delay the consideration of this supreme court nominee. president obama had an obligation to fill this vacancy on the court. he did so by making this nomination, and his duty doesn't
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end just because this is an election year. the senate has a constitutional obligation now to provide the advice and consent to the president on this nominee. that is a job that we should all take very seriously, and the american people deserve no less. in fact, a supreme court justice who grew up in the state of washington, william o. douglas, was nominated and confirmed within 16 days. that's right, 16 days. president franklin d. roosevelt nominated justice douglas on march 20, 1939, to serve the u.s. supreme court in a seat vacated by justice brandeis and justice douglas was confirmed by the united states senate on april 4, 1939. he went on to serve on the supreme court for 36 years. so, madam president, it can be done, and while i'm not saying
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it has to be done in the short amount of time that that took, 16 days, i do believe that we can get this nominee done in efficient time. if you look at the record of most of the supreme court nominees, it's been on average of 70 days. so we have plenty of time to make this consideration and make this decision, and yet senate republicans have manufactured their own artificial barrier to this debate on the supreme court nominee, basically saying that they don't believe that we have to take up consideration of this issue. i'm asking them please take justice garland's -- please take judge garland's phone calls. please make your schedule available to meet with him. and when we return, please schedule hearings to consider his nomination. and then do what the american
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people want us to do. that is, do our job and actually vote on consideration of judge garland. this is in the interests of the american people. i know that senate republicans want to say that they want to wait, but we cannot wait a full year to get another nominee on the court. the senate has confirmed supreme court justices in the final year of a presidency more than a dozen times, and during the last year of president reagan's final term, justice kennedy was unanimously confirmed by a democratic-controlled senate. so the republican party is saying -- the republicans on the other side of the aisle and many out there in the party is saying they want to just allow a minority to drive the interests of the party and delay, delay, delay, delay. well, in my opinion, you are delaying justice. in fact, you are taking some of the gridlock that has existed in
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this building and just moving it across the street to the supreme court. we cannot have delays and gridlock in our judicial system. we need to do our job and move through this process, so today i'm urging my colleagues to hold the hearings, ask the tough questions and finally hold a vote. let's show the american people that we can do our job and that we can vote for or against this nominee. but you have to first meet with him, take his phone calls and schedule a hearing. "the seattle times" recently wrote -- quote -- "the hiep partisan mill iew of congress in an election year must not thwart the framers' intent." end quote. "the olympian" newspaper in our state wrote -- quote -- " the republican party's intransigence in congress is legendary, but the new refusal to consider any appointment of a new justice in
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the u.s. supreme court by president obama is an outright abuse of power." end quote. owe if the other side continues to refuse a nominee until a new president is sworn in, it would mark the longest period in the history of the senate since the civil war to fill a vacancy. all the positions on the supreme court are essential. my constituents and people all across america expect the senate to do its job, regardless of whether it's an election year or not, so i hope that as our forefathers and framers of our constitution put together a government that works, that those here in the united states senate will take the phone calls of justice garland, take the meetings, schedule a hearing and make sure that we vote on this nominee this year. i thank the president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that further proargs under the quorum call being dispged w. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 4721, which was received from the house. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 4721, an act to amend title 49 united states code to extend authorization for the airport improvement program and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the thune-hatch-nelson-wyden substitute amendment be agreed to, the bill as amended be read a third time and passed, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the
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senate will proceed to the consideration of s. res. 377, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 375, s. res. 377, directing the senate legal counsel to bring a civil action to enforce a subpoena of the permanent subcommittee on investigations. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be one hour of debate equally divided in the usual form.
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the senator from ohio. mr. portman: madam president, i rise today in support of s. res. 377, which is a resolution to enforce a subpoena of the permanent subcommittee on investigations, which i chair. i'll be joined shortly by my colleague, senator claire mccaskill of missouri, who is the ranking emdi ranking democre committee and who i've worked with as a partner on this issue over the past year. this is a subpoena that we i issued to a group called backpage, backpage.com. this resolution is intended to enforce that subpoena. backpage and its cleave executive officer carl firere ha
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have not cooperated and we're at the point where we have to enforce our subpoena. for a year now we have conduct add bipartisan investigation into the scourge of human trafficking on the internet with a focus on sex trafficking involving children. in the past five years, the national center for missing and exploited children reported an over 800% increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking, an increase the organization has found to be -- and i quote -- "directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to sell children for sex." they testified before our subcommittee about this. they're the experts. they see this huge increase being related to the internet. in other words, the destructive crime of sex slavery has moved from the street corner to the money is. an adult can now shop for you understand aged trafficking victims from their computer screen and sex traffickers are
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well affair that sex advertising sites like backpage.com offer them a quick and easy marketplace to sell children and coerced adults. here's how the national center for missing and exploited children spells it out, describing this growing problem at a hoorg i chaire -- hearing i chaired last year. "online classified ads such as backpage.com remain sex traffickers to remain anonymous, attempt to evade public or law enforcement detection on the one hand easily locate children to consummate their sale of children for sex. it also enables trafficker trafo easily update an existing add and move the child to another location where there are more customers to purchase a child for rape or sexual abuse." this is from the national center for missing and exploited children. as cochair of the senate caucus
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to end human trafficking, i spent many hours with those dedicated to fighting this crime and those who were victimized by it. for victims, the toll is measured in stolen childhoods, in painful trauma. for traffickers, it is measured in dollars, often a lot of dollars. it is a problem that i believe should command more attention around our country and certainly here in the united states congress. the aim of our investigation is very straightforward: we want to understand how lawmakers, law enforcement, and even private businesses can more effective combat this serious crime that thrives on the online black market. trarvegers have found -- traffickers have found new refuge in customers that specialize in advertising -- quote -- "ordinary prostitution and lawful escort services." this business called backpage.com is the leader in that industry with annual revenues in excess of $130 million last year.
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backpage has a special niche. according to one industry analyst, in 2013, eight out out of every 10 dollars spent onion line commercial sex advertising in the united states goes to backpage.com. the public director indicates that backpage sits -- >> of the suspected child trafficking reports it receives from the public, 71% involve backpage. again, they have said that of the suspected child trafficking reports they receive from the public -- and they have a 1-800 number, they get reports from the public -- 71% involve backpage.com. according to a leading anti-trarvegging organization called shared hope international -- quote -- "service providers working with child sex trarvegging victims with have reported that between 80% and
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150% of their clients have been bought and sold on backpage.com. this organization has documented more than 400 cases in 47 states of children being sex trafficked on backpage.com. despite all this, backpage executives said they're committed to combating sex trafficking. the company claims that its internal procedures lead the industry. that claim led us to ask a very simple question: what are those industry-leading procedures? if they're so effective in the fight against human trafficking, congress and other lawmakers ought to know about them. that's why senator mccaskill and i asked them for documents about their ad screening practices, a process backpage called -- quote -- "moderation." end quote. we also asked for other information about their business practices. fair questions, targeted questions, relevant questions. the company has refused to answer them, refused to cooperate. we then took the next step and
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issued a subpoena to the cay requiring him to produce documents about moderation practices, efforts to combat human trafficking and financial information. the company essentially told us, no. wrapping itself in a frivolous first amendment argument, backpage refuses to produce documents about its business practices and has told us that the company refuses to even look for documents, not just that they don't have the documents, but they refuse to even look for them. a clear sign of willful contempt for the senate's process. and that's why we're here today on the floor. senator mccaskill and i gave backpage every opportunity to cooperate in good faith. we carefully considered its objections to the subpoena. we actual lished a 19-page opinion, thoughtfully overruling their objections and directing them to complievment they tinged to stonewall. in the meantime, our investigation has not stopped.
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our investigators and lawyers have found other witnesses that had information about the procedures. we found from 2010 to 2012 backpage outsourced much of its screening and again this moderation -- meaning looking at these ads coming in -- the screening and moderation they outsourced to others, including to workers in india. we obtained e-mails from the california company that managed those india-based moderators, including e-mails with backpage's korepage's c.e.o. anr executives. these are troubling. our investigation showed that back p page edited advertisements before posting them by removing certain words, certain phrases, certain images. for instance, they might remove a word or image that makes it clear that the sexual services being offered are being offered for money. then they might post this sanitized version of an ad. while they had i thinking changes nothing about the
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underlying transaction, it tends to conceal the evidence of illegality. in other words, backpage's editing procedures, far from being an effective anti-trafficking measure, served to sanitize the ads of illegal content to the outside viewer. we still don't know the full extent of their editing practices, how much of the illegal conduct or even the fact that they were selling minors online was being concealed. why? because backpage won't tell us. then there's this e-mail. it tells the moderators what to do if they have doubts about whether a girl advertised is underage. i want to quote from this e-mail. it says, "if in doubt about underage, the process should for now be to accept the ad. however, if you find anything that you feel is underage and is more than just suspicious, you can delete the ad. only delete if you really very
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sure person is under age." to be clear, we didn't get this information from backpage itself because it refuses to provide t this came from the contractor. backpage claims emaims like this are -- e-mails like this are protected by the first amendment, which is not accurate. in november, senator mccaskill and i release add bipartisan staff report about our investigation. we held a hearing to consider what to do about backpage's noncompliance. i encourage members to take a look at this staff report. it is online. you can find it. by the way, despite being under subpoena, backpage's c.e.o. refused to shoip for that hearing that we held. shortly before the hearing date, they sumly informed us that he wasn't going to show up. this is something senator mccaskill and i will continue to focus on. but others did show up for our hearing. we heard testimony from law enforcement, prosecutors. we heard testimony from the national center for missing an
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exploited children confirming what we had come to suspect -- backpage is not really an ally in the fight against human trafficking. it profits from it. the general counsel of the national center for missing and exploit thed children told us it had dozens of messages about improving the company's trafficking centers. the national center determined that backpage was not engaging in good-faith efforts. the national center told us "despite backpage's assertions, it was adopted carefully selected sound practices while resisting recommended substantive measures that would protect more children from being sold for sex on backpage.com." for example, the national center noted that bac backpage did noth its photos, a very low-cost technique for comparing digital images that could help identify missing chirchl the national center also noalted that backpage has more stringent rules to post an ad to sell a pet, a motorcycle, or a boat
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than it does to sell a person. a user is required to submit a verified phone number for sealing hamster but not for when placing an ad to sell a child for sex. think about that in. the human toll of all of this is staggering. it is hard to overstate the traumatic effect of a minor being advertised on a daily basis on a site like this. in a recent lawsuit brought against backpage, the plaintiff was a 15-year-old girl who had been raped over 1,000 times as a result of being tied on backpage.com. 1,000 times. in the course of our investigation, we also heard some similarly heart-wrenching stories. for example, backpage receives reports from families pleading with it to take down ads of their chirchlt here is one such e-mail sent to backpage: this is an e-mail, remember,
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from a parent about a child. being sent to backpaifnlgpage. they sent this: "your web site has ads featuring our 16-year-old daughter posing an an escort. she is being pimped out by her old boyfriend and she is underage. i have e-mailed the ad multiple times using your web site, but i've gotten no response. for god's sake, she's only 16! stuff like this shouldn't be allowed to happen." end quote. this is from a parent pleading. even after receiving such reports, the national center tells us backpage often does not remove the ad. instead, the ad remains. l. live on the web site which allows the abuse of that child to continue. imagine as a parent or a grandparent or an aunt or ankh l, brother or sister feeling
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helpless in the face of backpage and not being willing to take down an ad of a family member. you see, it is sometimes hard to square backpage's public statements about its business practices with the reality on the ground. for example, the national center recently was searching for a child who went missing and by the way is still missing. found she appeared in a sex advertisement on backpage. sadly that's pretty common. what made the case even more incredible is the backpage ad actually contained a missing child poster of the same child. so the ad advertising sex actually used the missing child poster of that child. that poster had the child's real name on it, real age, real picture and the date that she went missing. the other pictures in the ad included topless photos. we certainly would like to know what supposedly market leading screening and moderation procedures missed that one.
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and that, madam president, is exactly why we need the documents that we have asked for from backpage, documents that we have subpoenaed from backpage. without them we can't really evaluate how sex trafficking has proliferated in these online market places but we can't really evaluate how congress can do a better job fighting against this crime. we can't really help the many prosecutors at the local level who are trying to stop this practice or the attorneys general around the united states of america who are trying to stop this practice. we can't really help to stop this from happening. to be clear, our purpose is absolutely not to shut down any particular company or to deter protected advertising for lawful services. this is not an attempt to shut down something that is lawful on the internet. it's an attempt to stop something that's unlawful. nor are we even looking for
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information about individual advertisers. in fact senator mccaskill and i have made clear backpage should redact any documents they send us, any personally identifying information about its users. we don't need that. that's not what we're about. what we are interested in are facts that will enable smart legislation on a critical issue of public concern. we hope our investigation will help to combat this process directly, but also help to generate legislation here in the united states congress. this civil contempt resolution before us today s. res. 377 will enable us to get those facts. it was reported out of the full committee unanimously and i want to thank senator ron johnson, the chairman of the committee and senator tom carper, the ranking member of the committee and all of our colleagues on the committee for their unwavering support for this investigation. this will be the first time in more than 20 years that the
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senate has had to enforce a subpoena in court. i can't think of a time when it's been more justified. to my colleagues who are wondering about this, again i hope they'll look at our report and see why it's so important that we move forward with enforcing this subpoena. the subcommittee on investigations has a long history of investigating crime that infiltrates interstate commerce and affects our nation's health and safety. in our era, the crime of human trafficking has become a scourge and congress needs to know everything it can to be able to better fight it. no investigation of that subject could omit backpage.com. again as we've heard from these outside groups, the vast majority of this sex trafficking is going online through this very site. the national association of attorneys general has described backpage as a hub of human trafficking, especially the trafficking of minors. that's the attorneys general around the country.
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this is an issue that affects unfortunately all of our communities. it knows no zip code. before i yield the floor, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to enter a number of statements in support in the record from the nation's leading antitrafficking organizations, including the national center for missing and exploited children. mr. president, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to enter these statements of record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: mr. president, i urge my colleagues to vote yes on this resolution and vindicate the authority of congress to obtain information necessary for sound legislation, to protect the most vulnerable among us. mr. president, we're going to hear shortly from senator mccaskill who's been a partner of mine from the beginning. this investigation has taken about a year. we've done it thoughtfully and carefully and again i want to
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express my gratitude to her for her support of the legislation. we wanted to wait until she was back here in congress. she was home taking care of some important health matters in order to take up this vote today. i know that she will express her own strongly held views on this, but i just want to say i hope all of my colleagues, republican and democrat alike will look at this issue and realize that this is an opportunity for us to go on record supporting an investigation that can lead to legislation that can actually help to protect those most vulnerable among us. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask to suspend the quorum call and address the united states senate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president, i came to the floor today to support' reserve 377, a resolution to enforce a subpoena of the permanent subcommittee on investigations against backpage.com and carl ferrer, the company' company's chief exe
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officer. this comes with regards to the on-going investigation of the sex trafficking of minors and the use of the internet facilitating this horrific crime. i'd like to express my deep appreciation to the chairman. senator portman has been tenacious. he is committed. he is forcing us, as a body, to address an issue that is so unpleasant that many times we shy away from it. that we'd rather talk about more pleasant subjects and issues that are less emotional. but what is happening in america and in the world, thank to the leadership of senator portman, is being addressed in a forthright manner that alerts all of us and indeed alerts the world.
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and i must say that i very much appreciate the great work that he has done on this issue, and i know he remains committed for as long as he is a member of this body, and we are grateful -- incredibly grateful for his friendship. and his leadership. this marks the first time in 20 years that the senate has been required to enforce a subpoena in court. you've been in congress -- i've been in congress a long time, and i've never seen anything quite like this. as part of the subcommittee's fair and deliberative investigation of human trafficking and child exploitation on the internet, we've encountered a company that instead of doing everything in its power to assist in protect the most vulnerable in our society has decided to focus its energies on stonewalling congressional efforts to do so. let me be clear. as is always the case in this unsavory underside of society,
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it's about money. papbackpage.com is the leader in commercial sex advertising, valued at over $650 million in 2015 with over $130 million in annual revenue, and they are business model is dependent on the revenue generated from this part of its web site. it claims to be leading fighter in sex trafficking by taking deliberate steps to prevent illegal activity from appearing on its web site. but the company has refused to produce documents that could verify this claim and the facts gathered by the subcommittee from other sources indicate this is not the case. as senator portman has indicated, backpage.com has been linked to hundreds of human trafficking cases, including those of children.
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the national center for missing & exploited children has gathered data that indicates that the vast majority of suspected child trafficking reports it receives from the public include postings made on backpage identifying what screening procedures are in place and the effectiveness of these efforts in curbing trafficking are an important part of this investigation. it's hard to think -- it's hard to think, thanks to the leadership of the senator from ohio -- it's hard to think of a more worthy use of the authority than facilitating the buying and selling of children for sexual exploitation. this investigation is designed to guide congress as we consider ways to combat human trafficking and identify what can be done to protect children and eliminate this crime. enforcement of this subpoena is
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necessary to accomplish that goal and to protect the prerogative of the u.s. senate to investigate matters of consequences to our national interest. i aappreciate senators portman and mccaskill's efforts in a true bipartisan efforts -- efforts to investigate matters of consequence to our national interest. so i aappreciate their efforts to shed light on this difficult issue, and i aappreciate their commitment to defending the senate's role in addressing it. so i hope and i believe that the vote will be 100-0, as we strongly support chairman portman's right to obtain the information he believes is necessary to the subcommittee's investigation concerning human trafficking. i urge my colleagues to join me in support of this important resolution. i know that my friend and
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colleague, senator portman, knows that one of the areas where human trafficking is most intense is those states that are on the border, and our southern border is obviously penetrated regularly by these human traffickers. and so i'd like to -- as a representative of the people of my state of arizona, where this issue is of particular importance, i want to thank you and senator mccaskill for your unending and such worthy and important efforts on this issue. and by passing this, we will send a message to others -- we will send a message to others, i say to my colleague from ohio, that they can run, but they can't hide. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. portman: mr. president? the presiding officer: is not sphrr ohio. mr. portman: first, i want to thank my colleague from arizona. he has been a leader on this issue for many years. those of you who don't know this, cindy mccain, his wife, is a national, even an
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international leader on this issue dealing with human trafficking all over the world, but especially sex trafficking here at home. i appreciate his passion and commitment for it. as a former chair and ranking member of this committee, i look to hu -- to him for advice and counsel. i'd now like to yield to the senator from minnesota such time as she may consume. ms. klobuchar: well thank you very much, senator portman. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. ms. klobuchar: thank you. i want to thank senator mccain for his work. i started to work on some of these backpage issues in conjunction with senator mccain's wife, cindy welcome main. we also took a trip to mexico to focus on the trafficking going on across border with that country, and i want to thank senator portman and mccaskill for their leadership on this really important resolution. just last year, five st. paul
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residents were charged with running a multistate sex trafficking ring. one of the alleged victims was 16. those underaged girls were being advertised on backpage and the ads were placed in minnesota, wisconsin, iowa, georgia, ohio, kentucky, and illinois. in southwest minnesota, an operation involving backpage resulted in charges against 48 men around the towns of nualm and mankato. these cases prove that it is not happening in just such faraway place. it is happening in the united states of america. it is hpg in our own neighborhoods and oil patches in nortnorth dakota. it is happening in cleveland, in st. paul. these are real stories with real people. in 2014, i spoke to the trafficking advocacy group polaris when they released their state-by-state rankings. as i said then, the scope and scale of human trafficking
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within the united states presents a daunting challenge to policy-makers, service providers, law enforcement, and advocates. originally, human trafficking was thought to be more of a problem in other countries, but now it's known to be happening in our backyards. it is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of victims of sex and labor trafficking inside our borders. we've learned more about human trafficking through the advocacy and dead kairks as i mentioned, of our friend cindy mccain and the work at the mccain institute. their 2014 report actually focused specifically on this advertising. when i was a prosecutor for eight years, yes, we had trafficking. of course we did. yes, we had child pornography. but i will say, we didn't see this tsunami of advertising that we saw then. why? the internet has made it easier. we love the internechinternet. it has allowed us to commun kaivment but this has expanded demand. expanded demand for sex
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trafficking victims because of the existence of the fact that it's easier to do than it used to be. what the mccain report showed was that the availability of potential victims of domestic minor sex trafficking exceeded researcher expectations with no less than 38 different web sites advertising victims who showed indications of being a juvenile sex trafficking victim with at least four web sa say web sitesg recommendations on victims of sex trafficking. the mccain report went on to say in phoenix during ten days of ad screening, 34 were identified as depicting minor victims with duplicate ads resulting in 81 distinct tips of domestic minor sex trafficking. as you know, we successfully passed last year the justice for victims of trafficking act that senator cornyn and myself led. we are making good progress in implementing this bill. senator cornyn and i met recently with attorney general lynch. they're working hard, ongoing
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work not only includes this resolution and the focus on the advertising of illegal sex trafficking, but also partnering with the private sector. senator warner and i have introduced the stop trafficking on planes act or the stop act, which is built on the work of the industry to train flight attendants, train people on the planes to find the victims. this investigation being led by the permanent subcommittee on investigations, i note, is a bipartisan attempt to address a serious issue. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting senate resolution 377. this is just one element of this fight against sex trafficking, but it is an important one, because people should not be allowed to violate the senate rules. they shouldn't be allowed to skirt hearings. they shouldn't be allowed to get away with this kind of behavior. backpage and others of its ilk are not just a vehicle for
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advertising this crime. they are actually a vehicle for expanding this crime and hurting more people, and i appreciate the work of senator portman and mccaskill. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: thank you, mr. president. i thank my colleague from minnesota for her support of this resolution today which is enforcing a subpoena which is targeted, focused on information that will help us be able to legislate in this matter. i hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join us in this effort. i also want to thank her her for her broader work on this issue specifically as the work she did as a former prosecutor as trying to get at the problem of sex trafficking online. senator klobuchar's absolutely right, the internet has provided so many wonderful things to our economy, to our society, and yet there's a dark side, isn't there. and that dark side is shown as clearly as anywhere with regard to backpage. and the fact that sex trafficking has been made more
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efficient through the internet and specifically through this one web site that contains the vast majority of sex trafficking and commercial sex. again, i would refer you to my comments earlier. we talked about the fact that there is a girl who is missing, currently missing. the senate center for missing & exploited children have been trying to find her. they put up posters about her and she period on an advertisement on backpage. this is more common than you would expect. what made this case to me more incredible is that the backpage ad contained a missing child poster of that same child. the missing child poster that the national center put out there for all of us to help find her shows up on backpage.com as an advertisement for this young girl. the poster had the child's real name, real age and the day she
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went missing. other photos included topless photos of this girl. she's 16 years old. this is another example of where there is a problem here that must be addressed. our investigation is to create the information for us to be able to legislate wisely on this issue. i am see my colleague from new hampshire has joined us. we'd love to hear from her. another, in this case, former attorney general of a state who's been involved in this issue for many years, an active member of the caucus to try to combat human trafficking. i would like to yield to my colleague, the senator from new hampshire, such time as she may need. ms. ayotte: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank senator portman and i want to thank senator mccaskill for their strong, strong leadership on such an important issue, because enforcing the subpoena, the resolution that we have before us to enforce the subpoena of the permanent subcommittee on investigations which they are,
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the chair and ranking member on is critical because as you've heard today, i was attorney general of new hampshire. i had the opportunity to work with the internet crimes against children task force, the national center for missing and exploited children reports suspected child trafficking reports that it receives from the public, 171% involve backpage.com -- 71% involve a.b.m. what is the resolution before us today about? both senators portman and mccaskill and the committee they lead has asked legitimate questions and asked for documents from backpage.com about, we've seen, heard horrific stories of things that have happened that have been reported in a recent report that i know that senator portman referenced in boston about a 15-year-old girl who had been raped over 1,000 times as a result of being advertised on
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backpage.com. we of course heard horrific stories about children. in one pennsylvania case the defendant forced a minor to have sex with approximately 15 different men in one encounter where she was threatened with a weapon, advertised on backpage.com. so it's pretty straight -- a florida case, a trafficker threatened to drug and kill a 14-year-old girl so he could sell her. backpage.com. a man forced two women with physical violence, backpage.com. these are legitimate questions that have been asked to inform our policy decisions here. backpage.com. yet, they won't produce the documents that have been asked of them to ask how are they screening to ensure that they aren't taking illegal actions when it comes to child sex trafficking and trafficking of women and men and boys and
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girls. yet, they won't answer that. the c.e.o. of backpage.com was subpoenaed to come testify, and he refused to appear. this is not something, as you look at -- if backpage.com is not doing the things that some of these reports have come forward and is not acting illegally, then they'll come and talk to us about this. the c.e.o. of backpage won't try to hide behind the first amendment, making arguments that don't bear out under the first amendment because we're talking about illegality, the trafficking of children in horrific ways, then this is a legitimate inquiry for this committee. i again want to commend senators portman and mccaskill, and i urge the members of the senate to support this resolution to enforce the subpoena so that we can ensure that we get the information that this committee
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needs to inform our policy decisions to address a very important issue that is putting children at risk, that is harming families, that is harming men and women who are being trafficked. and we need to get to the bottom of it. i thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor back to senator portman. mr. portman: i thank my colleague from new hampshire. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i've talked about senator mccaskill a couple of times in my remarks. she has a passion for it, former prosecutor, someone who understands this issue well. i would now like to yield all the remaining time to her. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri.mrs. mccaskill: last year a 15-year-old girl told a horrific treal asking for help, she had been trafficked across truck stops throughout the midwest, taken from truck stop to truck
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stop, sold to truckers for sex mrs. mccaskill: as we debate this today, i think it's important that we stay focused on that 15-year-old girl and don't get lost in the process of the senate. this is a valid investigation. this is an important investigation. and what we're really just doing today is making sure that the senate can do its work under the constitution. backpage has refused to cooperate. it's refused to willingly cooperate. it has refused to legitimate and duly authorize subpoenas asking for information at the heart of the investigation concerning backpage. under any circumstances, i p find it shocking that a company would refuse a lawful subpoena of the united states senate, would ignore a lawful subpoena of the united states senate.
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it's particularly outrageous given that backpage has already admitted that serious criminal activity, including sex trafficking of children, occurs on its site. backpage simply has no excuse for not complying with these legal subpoenas. during our november 19 hearing, i promised that while the subcommittee would move forward carefully and cautiously, we would not go quietly into the night. and on some day in the near future, we would use the senate's enforcement measures to compel cooperation from backpage. today is that day. and while we stay focused on that 15-year-old girl, i know i speak for the chairman. and i want to give the chairman great accolades for our working relationship. it's not always easy to
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reconcile differences in positions and differences in policy and staffs working together, but he doesn't give up, and we both stay at it, and we are both determined to work on this committee in a bipartisan fashion. and i'm very grateful to him for his effort in that regard. but as we think of that 15-year-old girl and the information we need, we also need to think that a bigger principle is at stake here, and that is if we ignore backpage's refusal, what does that say to companies in the future where we need information in order to do our job? that you can give the back of your hand to the united states senate and there will be no consequences? obviously that's a slippery slope i don't think we should go down. i don't think the founding fathers would want us to go down that slippery slope. that's why today is the day we say enough. we go with this vote to the
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courts and we get enforcement of these legal subpoenas so we can truly find out what, if any, role backpage has had in the highly gleam -- highly illegal and immoral practice of using children for sex. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor and i yield the remaining time of the democrats. the presiding officer: all time is yielded back. the question occurs on adoption of the resolution. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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