tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN March 20, 2018 4:46pm-6:28pm EDT
mr. portman: mr. president, last night i came on the floor to talk about legislation we are debating in the senate this week that has to do with human -- order in the chamber, please. mr. portman: i last night talked about some of the women and children who have been exploited online, their stories, some of their heartbreaking stories. this opportunity we have before us is to pass legislation that addresses that very directly. because we are seeing in this country, in this century unbelievably an increase in trafficking right now, and the experts all say it's for one primary reason, and that's because the trafficking has moved online. the ruthless efficiency of the internet, mr. president, the dark side of the internet, you've been involved with this issue in our committee. as you know, we spent a couple of years coming to this point, an 18-month investigation of what's happening online, why it's happening and then coming up with a legislative solution. the reports of human trafficking
to one of the major antitrafficking groups in the country called polaris through their hotline and text line, the reports increased 842% over the past ten years. this is consistent across the board in talking to other experts, there is this increase. and when they look at it, again, what they see is where it's happening is online. so victims have told me and told you and told other members here, this has now moved from the street to the smartphone. from the street corner to the internet. according to the national center for missing and exploited children, nearly 75% of the child trafficking reports it receives from the public involve one single website, and that's backpage. that's why we spent a lot of time looking into backpage, why this was happening, how we could address it. according to shared hope international, another advocacy group, the number is even higher than 75%. so we did, through a process that many in this body were
involved with, researched this. clare mccaskill is the ranking member, was the ranking member on the permanent subcommittee on investigations. we investigated that. i see she is on the floor now. she and i along with the subcommittee, along with you and other members of the full committee, mr. president, looked into this issue and what we found was even more shocking than we expected. we knew that people were being trafficked online by this website. we knew that they had to be complicit with some of this. what we didn't know is they were taking ads and altering the ads, editing the ads to try to hide the fact that people were selling underage girls online. they, as they put it, were cleaning the ads through a legal transactions and covering up the evidence of these crimes in order to increase their profits. last night i talked about three brave mothers who shared the tragic stories of their daughters who were exploited and sold for sex on backpage.com.
their daughters were between ages 14 and 16 when they were trafficked. kubiiki prude was one of -- kpeubg can -- kubiiki pride wase of the daughters. she is in "i am jane doe." it is a powerful way you can feel their frustration, feel their pain. it's not easy to see but it's important to see and i recommend it. you can go on netflix and find "i am jane doe." unfortunately for those mothers and countless others, backpage has gotten away with this. it's not because people haven't tried to sue them. prosecutors haven't tried to go after them. it's because the courts have consistently said that they are shielded from prosecution. they are shielded from these lawsuits. they're shielded by a federal law, one we passed in this chamber 21 years ago. it's called the communications
decency act. it was a well intended law. back in 1996 the focus was when the internet was in its infancy trying to assure there could be freedom of the internet, ironically part of the original intervention was to protect children from indecent material on the internet by letting websites remove some of that indecent material. now that same law is being used as a shield by online sex traffickers who promoted and engage in this with immunity. this is used by websites to get away with something that would be criminal if they were to do it on the street corner. congress did not intend this broad eupbl phaoupbt but courts have -- immunity but courts have said their hands are tied by the way the courts interpreted this law. as the lawmaking branch of the federal government it is up to us to fix this injustice. one of the federal courts said this cannot be fixed by litigation. it has to be fixed by legislation. that's why america's district
attorneys, 50 of the state attorneys general in this country, judges all over the country and many others called on congress to amend the communications decency act and fix this injustice. in one of the most direct calls for congressional action yet in august of last year, a sacramento judge cited the broad immunity provided by the communications decency acts in dismissing pimping charges against backpage.com. the court opinion stated, and i quote, if and until congress sees fit to amend the immunity law the broad reach of section 230 of the communications decency act applies to those who support the exploitation of others by human trafficking. this judge issued an invitation to congress to act. others have as well. websites that knowingly sell vulnerable women and children for sex are profiting and getting away with sex trafficking because of a federal law. it's up to congress to do the right thing, to fix this
loophole. that's why my coauthor, richard -l blumenthal, who is on the floor here this evening, introduced the stop enabling sex trafficking act or sesta alongside a group of four other original cosponsors. senator john mccain, are clare mccaskill, heidi heitkamp. soon others joined us. in the first day we had 24 cosponsors, bipartisan. soon we had a majority of republicans and majority of democrats cosponsoring this legislation. but i want to thank those five original cosponsors because they helped us put together legislation that was targeted, focused, and actually fixes the problem. sesta will provide justice for victims of online sex trafficking and hold accountable the websites that knowingly facilitate these crimes by making two, two very narrowly focused changes to federal law. first, it allows victims to get the justice they deserve by removing the communications decency act's broad liability protections for a narrow set of bad actors. specifically websites that
knowingly facilitate sex trafficking crimes. second, it will allow state prosecutors, state attorneys general to prosecute websites that violate federal trafficking laws. sesta simply says if you're violating federal sex trafficking laws and you're doing it knowingly, you're facilitating it, then you've got to be held to account. that's just common sense. this bill also includes legislation from the house side that creates new criminal penalties. it creates a new federal crime for websites that have the intent to the promote or facilitate illegal prostitution. all of these changes will help to hold bad actors accountable while doing nothing to impair the free internet. sesta will protect websites that do not actively and knowingly engage in online sex trafficking. we do that by preserving the good samaritan provisions which protects good actors which proactively block and screen for offensive material, thus shielding them from frivolous lawsuits.
sesta's fair commonsense approach is why this bill has extraordinary support. the national law enforcement organizations including the fraternal order of police. faith-based groups, the civil rights community, major businesses, even including a number of tech companies. who support this legislation. but most importantly, antitrafficking advocates and trafficking survivors are the ones who support sesta. they are the ones we listen to when we drafted this legislation. they are the folks back in ohio, back in our states who came to us to talk about this issue. they're the ones we not just listened to but we actually helped work with them to draft something that would work to close this loophole. this bill makes all the sense in the world and it will do its part to help close this gap, to help deal with this amazing in this century, in this country, a bill for -- ability for people to exploit someone online criminally and not be held liable. i want to thank leader mitch
mcconnell for his leadership, for combating sex trafficking and putting this bill on the floor for a vote. i want to thank senator john thune, bill nelson who is ranking member, who held a hearing on this bill and marked it up and addressed some of the concerns that had been expressed by the tech community. here in the senate we now have over 60 cosponsors. this has not been an issue of politics or partisanship. it's been an issue of the heart. it's about preventing exploitation. it's about providing justice. there are some in this chamber who will want to change this legislation over the next couple of days as we debate t. i have a great deal of respect for my colleague from oregon, senator ronwideen. i talked -- ron wyden. i talked about him on the floor. i talked about the legislation i did with him to provide better data for sex trafficking which was his legislation. but he was also a leader in passing the communications decency act that we are amending through this legislation. so i understand that he's passionate about that, that bill that passed 21 years ago. i would just say we took a very
targeted approach here, which is why the internet association representing much of the tech community, not all but much of it actually endorses our efforts. this is the senate's immediate opportunity to help stop online sex trafficking while protecting a free and open internet. it's the right balance. it's already passed the house of representatives. the white house has shown a commitment to it and is willing to sign the legislation. now it's the senate's turn to act. so let me tell you where i stand. i stand with law enforcement officials all around the country and prosecutors all around the country who have asked us to pass this legislation, to give them the tools they need to stop this exploitation. i stand with kubiiki pride who i talked about earlier, nicole, yvonne ambrose and the other mothers across the country who have had their children exploited at the hans of online sex trafficking. i stand with the young women and the children i met in dayton, akron, toledo, cincinnati, all over ohio who are sex trafficking survivors, who are
victims who want justice. i know that together we will all stand on the right side of history when the stop enabling sex traffickers act is voted on and passes this chamber and when it eventually becomes law, to immediately help provide justice for these victims. justice cannot be seen, but it's ab -- but its absence is felt. and those who have been trafficked online only to see the websites who knowingly facilitated in this, then prosper and escape legal consequences, those are the ones who experienced real injustice. they have felt that injustice. we can right this wrong. let's pass the stop enabling sex traffickers act to provide these victims the justice they deserve. mr. president, i noticed again as i mentioned earlier, the coauthor of this eggs will, my cool -- of this legislation, my colleague is on the floor. he's a former federal prosecutor. he's dealt with these issues both as a prosecutor and a legislator. we're the cochairs and cofounders of the trafficking caucus we started seven years ago. i thank him for his work on this legislation.
i would like to yield my time to him. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. at the very start and very grateful, i want to praise my cosponsor, senator portman, who has helped to lead in championing this measure. he has really been steadfast in the face of a lot of challenges. it was a difficult bill to draft and then to redraft and change again in response to suggestions that we received from friends and adversaries. but senator portman has been really stalwart throughout it and i want to join him in thanking our partner senator mccaskill, senator mccain, senator heitkamp, cornyn, and of course senator thune, the chairman of the committee and trafficking member nelson. this road began for me more than
ten years ago when i was the state attorney general in connecticut. and i wanted to pursue legal remedies against the week sites -- against the websites. back then it was creation list or myspace, that promoted sex trafficking and prostitution as well as pornography. and my staff informed me that there was a provision of federal law, section 230 of the communications decency act that would stop me in my tracks. and indeed it has stopped others most recently some of the survivors of sex trafficking who were told by a federal court of appeals in effect what happened to you is outrageous, there should be a remedy for you, but section 230 of the communications decency act blocks your day in court. it closes the courthouse doors to you in seeking a legal
remedy. and along the way, there were many who said to senator portman and to me that we could never pass this legislation because it would hold trafficking week sites accountable. -- websites accountable. they said they were too powerful, too big, too entrenched. they said the victims and survivors were too powerless, too invisible. and we've met them. we know their stories they are heartbreaking. they are children, some younger than the pages in this chamber today who have endured torture that is unspeakablspeakable and unthinkable for anyone of any age and they deserve their day in court right and remedied,
real remedies that make the rights real. so i want to thank senator portman and i want to thanks, as he has done also, those survivors who have come forward and been the face and voice of our cause. their courage and strength and their family members' have enabled us to reach this point. now, i want to emphasize that this measure is very carefully and narrowly written to address a specific harm. i want to just take a couple of minutes to correct any misunderstandings that there may be in this chamber. first, some of the legislation's critics have claimed that it will impose liability on so-called good samaritan. in reality, this bill explicitly preserves subsection 230-c, 2-a
of the communications act, commonly called the good samaritan provision. this provision ensures that websites cannot be held liable on account of actions taken in googood faith to restrict observablobjectionable. sesta is crystal clear on this point. a website operator's good deeds cannot be used against them. this measure is also technology neutral. it imposes no requirement that website operators use a particular technology to screen their sites for objectionable content. they're free to use whatever technology they wish. and that's why the internet association and its member companies support this legislation. they know if technology companies work to prevent trafficking, not to profit from it, they have nothing to fear
from this measure. i understand that an amendment has been offered to restate sesta's good samaritan provision, even if the amendment protected only good samaritans, it would be unnecessary and potentially confusing to the courts. i want to emphasize that point. it would obfuscate and confuse the good intent of samaritan provisions. it would also derail this widely popular legislation by sending it back to the house where special interests will have another chance to kill it. unfortunately, this proposed amendment, perhaps unintensely, would not -- perhaps unintensely, would not simply protect good samaritans it would also protect website websites id faith and identify websites with sex trafficking ads and then leave them up in order to continue profiting from them. i want to briefly just say about
one other amendment that's been offered again while well intentioned threatens to derail this legislation. the amendment would provide additional money to attorney general sessions to investigate and prosecute websites that criminally facilitate human trafficking. i believe that law enforcement ought to have additional resource. i firmly support more funding to investigate and prosecute this criminal activity, but this bill is not the means to do it. in fact, law enforcement and the community against human trafficking are strongly against these amendments. let me repeat. these groups, law enforcement, including the fraternal order of police, the association of state criminal investigative agencies, the f.b.i. agency association. i could go down the list.
in fact, there's no need to, mr. president, because i would ask that the letters from these groups be entered into the record if there's no objection. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: and my colleagues should take heed of what these groups are saying because they see through the potentially derailing impact of these amendments. i want to close by again thanking my friend and partner, senator portman, as well as senator mccaskill, senator heitkamp, senator cornyn, and senator mccain. this measure is truly bipartisan, as it should be. there is nothing partisan about sex trafficking. there's nothing excusable or tolerable about it. i hope that the senate will do its job tomorrow and send this legislation to the president es desk. -- to the president's desk. i want to yield the floor back
to my partner, senator portman, with thanks. mr. portman: let me just say your role as a prosecutor has informed you and therefore, the legislation is better for you. you just heard what senator blumenthal said. he understands this bill inside and out and the fact that there are some well meaning amendments being offered that would derail this legislation. it's something we want to avoid. we want to get this to the president's desk for signature and begin to save people. i noticed one of my other colleagues, senator mccaskill is on the floor who i mentioned earlier a couple of times. she was the ranking democrat on the subcommittee that investigated this issue, looking at these websites that came up with with not just why it's happening but a legislative response. i would like to yield a few minutes to senator mccaskill. a senator: thank you. i want to thank you for allowing me to jump in leer for a couple of minutes. i just want to say that this
body, the entire body, is really responsible for where we are right now because it was during the investigation of backpage that we realized that section 230 was being used as a shield for the bad guys. all of the attorneys general around the country and various law enforcement agencies and individuals trying to sue backpage were met every time with a 230 defense and they weren't even able to penetrate to get the documents from backpage, to learn about what backpage was really up to. it was the investigation where backpage thought they would be able to win again in court and deny us our opportunity to look at the documents and look at the underlying evidence that you should always look at in an investigation. mrs. mccaskill: frankly, us getting the senate resolution through this body almost unanimously -- i think it was unanimously, wasn't it, senator portman? unanimously and going all the way to the supreme court and
winning, finally it was the first time that backpage had to turn over the dirty evidence of them knowingly facilitating sex trafficking on their page. and that's why this language is knowingly facilitating. just to make sure that going forward, no bad guys can hide behind section 230. the other part of this bill that i think is very important, i think a lot of people forget -- and with all due respect to my friends who were in this chamber that were u.s. attorneys -- over 90% of the crime prosecuted in this country is prosecuted by state prosecutors called district attorneys, depending on the state term that is used. they have been handcuffed in terms of being able to bring these kinds of cases. this legislation not only opens up the courthouse doors to victims who have been victimized by this but also so that the full force of american law enforcement can be brought to bear on this problem, not just
the limited jurisdiction that was available around the prb of sex trafficking -- the problem of sex trafficking. this is so important to getting to the bottom of it because many u.s. attorneys don't have the time. frankly, many attorneys general don't have the time or the jurisdiction, frankly, to get after crime. but the local prosecutors don't get to decide what cases they go after. if it's -9d 11, they'll take it. they are the ones in the trenches with the sex crimes and they'll have the ability to go after these cases in a way that i think will be very meaningful. i'm proud of the bipartisan nature of this. i'm proud of the partnership we had, senator portman, on the investigation. i know we'll get a big vote on this. i think people will see through these amendments as ways to slow this bill down and possibly kill it and i know we will get it
across the finish line tomorrow. mr. portman: thank you, senator mccaskill. we'll continue this dialogue tomorrow and i look forward to making a difference in the lives of those this represents. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i thank senator portman and senator mccaskill for the work they have done on this. senator portman is the leader in this. he has spent untold hours especially in toledo, ohio, where c ecilia has been combating this terrible affliction in our society. i ask unanimous consent to place the rest of my remarks in a different place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. last week the house passed another giveaway to wall street,
siding with special interests and rolling back accountability in some of the biggest banks at the expense of taxpayers. it comes on the heels of last year's tax giveaway that will benefit the same megabanks. this congress bends over backwards to help wall street working families continue to struggle. wall street is making things worse. it is not just helping wall street with tax breaks, we are helping them with the rollback of legislation. let me explain what that means. in a series over several months i'm laying out the case for how wall street undermines american workers and in making work in america pay off. you remember one of the points i made was that american airlines announced that they were going to give -- to increase did increase workers wages, as did chipotle, and wall street
basically hit them with a lower stock price as a result. in each installment of this series, we will -- we've talked about these issues. i want to talk specifically this time about what wall street workers does to employment. it is posted on my medium page. you can follow along, medium.com/senatorbrown. wall street's executives focus on padding their pockets is bad enough, but it comes at the expense of american workers. -- it is how c.e.o.'s bonuses are, so they do things to make their stock price go up, and then they do even better because they are compensated in large part with company shares. wall street analysts like it
when corporations minimize their costs to boost short-term prices, their stock price often goes up, even when the company is profitable and that leads to layoffs. corporations lay off workers to show that they are serious about cutting expenses and their stock prices rise as a result. wall street's war on workers means not only smaller paychecks, but also pink slips for those workers. how do we get to a point where stock prices are more important than workers? it didn't happen overnight. companies -- i was talking to senator whitehouse, whether it's in rhode island or mansfield, ohio, companies used to consider their employees and customers and the people they did business in as stakeholders, you cared about your community, your workers, your customers. they felt a duty to fulfill obligations to a broader community, not just their own corporate board members. i grew up in mansfield, halfway
between our two -- our state's two largest cities. and i remember there were so many companies in our town -- i didn't know these company presidents. they were really big people in town, i was a kid. i do remember what those companies did. they sponsored little league teams. they were involved in local clubs. they cared about their workers, they cared about the community, they cared about their customers. they weren't always only interested in sharing holders. they were interested -- shareholders. they were interested in stakeholders, all of us as a community, we were all stakeholders. now the focus has narrowed to just shareholders. as wall street's influence has grown, corporate priorities have shifted from shareholders at large in the way success is measured has changed, fundamentally to stockholders. businesses have become beholden
to the quarterly earnings reports and left employees and comiewntsd customers behind in many ways. they do everything possible, including laying off workers, to make sure their balance sheets and profit margins look as good as they can. the impact of the workers are the long-term health. in the 1980's, investors pursued hostile takeovers. executives at other companies began to fear takeovers if they didn't keep profits and stock prices high. in the pay packages of top management went greater and greater and became more and more closely tied to short-term stock performance. wall street's and main street's -- wall street's and main street's interests began to die verge. folks in the boardroom were no longer able to consider what was in the interest of their workers. for top corporate executives workers became nothing more than
a line item in the budget. by the 1990's even profitable companies started laying off workers to boost profits. look at what happened to zero xerox, they never had a layoff, but in 1993, they this to cut workers. they faced an agonizing decision and bad options but the c.e.o. justified the job cuts as necessary, quote, to compete effectively and to have a lean and flexible organization. he said he expected to see higher profits because of the layoffs the following year. xerox wasn't alone. in the first months of 1998 when the economy was booming, corporations laid off al half million u.s. workers -- a half million u.s. workers. this is the definition of profits before people and things have gotten worse and worse since the late 990's.
-- 1990's. in 2015 sis cal announced a plan to reduce the workforce. it might have made sense if the company experienced a year of sluggish sales, but the opposite was true. their sales increased, generated $1 billion in cash flow and paid $700 million in dividends to the company's shareholders and if the large dividend payoff wasn't generous enough, the c.e.o. said one of the goals of the three-year plan was to maximize shareholder's returns, not the customer or the community, but shareholders. the next year in 2015 tyson's food announced layoffs despite a good quarter in beef sales. they touted exceptional results. the -- they had to cut workers because of cost cutting.
he cited not great sales, not investments in new or more workers, the ability of the company to buy back hundreds of -- to buy back billions of dollars of its own stock. an accounting trick that funds money -- funnels money to executives is what the company cited as a measure of success. buying back means that competence goes back. that was the key to what it was doing to cost cutting. the company buys up shares of its own stock to drive up the price and increase value for shareholders and the compensation for executives whose pay is tied to stock performance. it's no coincidence since the biggest corporations reaped their biggest tax windfall they have announced their buybacks. it is always about executives. it is about the executives compensation and buybacks. again and again we see wall street considers workers as simply a cost to be cut, but executive pay is essential to a
company. humana last year announced it was eliminating 2,700 jobs despite $13 billion in revenue. the same call where the c.e.o. announced the layoff, he announced an increase in executive pay. workers lose their job so executives get more money. a month later humana announced $3 billion in stock buybacks. what is that about? higher executive compensation. typically cost-cutting measures mean workers lose their jobs. each of these examples the company decided cost cuts were so necessary they had to fire workers. up end thousands of lives. i wonder, mr. president, how many of those corporate leaders brought some of those workers in their office an looked them in the eye and told them they were
laying them off. my guess is a lesser paid employee made that announcement and face those employees who lost their jobs. how many executives -- listens to the story of an employee who loses her job and her house and her life is up ended. how many of them listen to those stories of what happened to workers that get fired? the cost -- the company who cited cost cuts were so necessary they had to fire those workers. the short-sighted approach may work for top xiches who can squeeze as much money out of the company in a short term without considering the business' long-term values. it is not just bad for the employees of the community, it is also bad for the long-term health of the company. making short-term decisions pays off if you are well paid, but it doesn't work for those employees. main street only makes a profit when the stock market value continues to rise over time.
but executives in the corporate boardroom are no longer considering what is in the interest of workers or small-time investors. as long as wall street's one-size-fits all corporate success continues to be cost cutting, workers are at a constant risk of losing their jobs. as long as c.e.o.'s are paid based on stock prices, workers will keep getting fired at profitable companies. we need to break the cycle of greed between wall street and c.e.o.'s. companies in the end can't be profitable without good workers. we need policies that restructure our economy so workers share in the profits they create. wall street doesn't determine when workers keep their jobs or how much? in their paychecks. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, today we are more aware than
ever of the accelerating pace of climate change and of the serious threat that rising seas and higher temperatures and changing weather pose. i suppose i don't need to lecture the presiding officer from florida on the threat of rising seas. the real time effects of climate change are becoming clearer and clearer every year. here is a telling example unfolding right now in the arctic. in this graphic we see the mean area of arctic sea ice over the last several decades. the maximum yearly extent of the ice which occurs this time of the year continues to shrink each decade. this line tracks the sea ice in the arctic in millions of square
kilometers running from february through to may. this is the track of the sea ice extent during the 1980's. if you took all the years in the 1980's and averaged them together and ran them through the calendar, this is like a clock this way going through the months, you would see the sea ice growing and fading away as spring came on to the arctic. that's where the ice was when you average the 1980's. this green line is the exact same thing. it's just the 1990's. so you can see how much sea ice has been lost averaged decade over decade. then the blue line here. this is the 2000's, and once again you see another loss of sea ice -- a considerable loss
from the levels back as recently as the 1980's. this purple line right here is the average of the years in this decade so far. so 2010 and 2017, that's the average of those seven years. this dot is the high, the maximum ice extent recorded in 2016. this lower dot is the lower high of the ice recorded in 2017. so you can see that even though this is the average, the trend remains downward, and this red line is what we have measured so far in 2018. here we are right now in march of 2018. it is well below. decade after decade, we see the ice melting away.
as these facts and so many others relentlessly pile up, it has become harder and harder for the fossil fuel industry and the web of front groups and trump administration officials who do its bidding to claim that there is nothing to see here, folks, move along, it's all just a big hoax. the universal of alaska is our closest university to the arctic. the university of alaska actually has a climate science center where they are studying and teaching the science of climate change. the university of alaska also actually has an ocean acidification research center. as i have pointed out in these speeches over the years, one of the most obvious and pernicious consequences of climate change is that when you ramp up the co2 concentration in the atmosphere, the oceans, which cover 70% of the surface of the world, absorb
not only excess heat, but they actually chemically absorb the carbon dioxide, and when that happens, they become more acidic. in the wee hours of a morning months and months and months ago, i actually did the experiment right here where i blew the carbon dioxide from my breath through an aquarium bubbler into a glass of water that had p.h.-sensitive dye in it. you could actually see in the moment it took for me to exhale that carbon dioxide-rich breath in the water, the color charged and you could measure it against the color chart for p.h. and see how just that one breath changed the acidity of the water, made it more acid. that is happening across the planet, and because it affects creatures like pteropods, which are a very important species for salmon, which is in turn a very important industry for alaska, that's why alaska has an ocean
acidification research center. some hoax. for this, my 201st time to wake up speech, i want to get into some of the reasons why i remain optimistic, even in the face of relentless attacks on the environment, both from the fossil fuel industry and from the trump administration. there are success stories, including bipartisan wins in congress and major advances outside of congress. we are still making progress on climate and energy policy, even under a political siege by the fossil fuel industry. first, there is the explosion in renewable energy. in 2017, renewables provided nearly 20% of electricity generation in the united states. wind and solar energy costs
fell, and utilities across the country even in red states invested heavily. the renewable energy industry in america hit 3.3 million jobs, more than all fossil fuel jobs combined. the private sector is leading renewables purchases. one example -- at&t. at&t recently signed onto the world wildlife fund's corporate renewable energy buyers' principles. criteria to help energy producers meet the needs of large customers like at&t. as part of that commitment with the world wildlife fund, at&t has signed two agreements with next era energy for wind power. 220 megawatts from an oklahoma wind farm, and 300 megawatts
from a texas wind farm. it's one of the largest corporate renewable energy purchases in history, and i congratulate my texas and oklahoma colleagues for these new home state renewable energy jobs. and i congratulate at&t for its foresight and leadership. another business breakthrough came when the massive asset manager black rock helped break exxon and occidental petroleum's resistance and forced through shareholder resolutions, requiring those oil producers to report their climate risk to their shareholders, to their investors. i for one don't think those shareholders are yet getting the full story.
the multinational insurance firm a.x.a. announced that it would divest from its tar sands holdings and that it would stop providing insurance for pipelines to transport tar sands oil. credit rating agency moody's announced that it will consider climate risk in rating coastal communities' municipal bonds. so our coastal municipalities in rhode island, the presiding officer's coastal communities in florida, coastal communities across the country are now going to have to take into account the climate risk, what infrastructure and what hazards they face from sea level rise, storm activity, all the things we associate with climate change, and it's going to be part of how the rating agencies value their municipal bonds. that is going to change behavior, and it doesn't matter
whether you are a red state or a blue state. the -- the companies like microsoft and unilever have baked into their own internal accounting their own internal carbon prices to help them reduce the carbon intensity of their operations, and of course virtually every republican who has thought the climate change problem through to a solution has come to a price on carbon as being the market-based solution to that problem. when the president announced that he would withdraw the u.s. from the historic paris agreement, leaving us as the mariah nation, the only one in the world to reject this global pledge, many american companies cledged that as to that paris agreement, they are still in. the corruption of the trump
administration by fossil fuel interests has not affected many state and local officials. in colorado, for instance, the state public utility commission is working with excel energy to build out a cleaner mix and retire older fossil fuel units. specifically, colorado is looking to retire 660 megawatts of coal-fired generation, close it down, and replace it with renewables. their recent request forbids brought a flood of new renewable energy proposals at costs that came in, beating out existing coal and natural gas facilities. new built renewable on price
beat out existing fossil fuel. the market is speaking, and it's saying that fossil fuel, even with all its scandalous and well-defended subsidies, can't compete. fossil can't compete. on the paris agreement, california, connecticut, hawaii, new york, north carolina, oregon, virginia, washington state, and i'm proud to say rhode island all declared that they, too, are still in. they will meet their goals. alaska announced that it would meet its paris agreement goals. what's more, california and washington state have combined with canada, chile, colombia, costa rica, and mexico in a plan
to put a price on carbon that would reach up and down virtually the entire pacific coast of the americas, from canada all the way down through chile. one problem for the fossil fuel folks' political influence, which is so deadly effective here in congress, is that it doesn't do so well in government agencies where the rule of law, not politics, prevails. so the federal energy regulatory commission, a federal administrative agency bound by rule of law, more or less blew off a preposterous proposal by fossil fuel flunkies at the department of energy to subsidize coal even more.
instead, ferc recently finalized a rule for energy storage in america's electric grids. this will not only expand energy storage, it will also accelerate renewables like wind and solar. a recent study predicted that the rule could spur -- hold on -- 50,000 megawatts. 50,000 megawatts of additional energy storage across the u.s., enough to power roughly 35 million homes. and this estimate could turn out to be conservative if renewables' prices keep heading on their current trajectories. that ferc rule, by the way, was unanimous and bipartisan. ferc oversees the system operators like i.s.o. new england who are steadily improving the role of renewables
in regional markets, removing the obstacles that had kept renewables from competing fairly in capacity auctions and dispatch decisions. with wind power such a large part of iowa's energy mix, for example, its midwestern i.s.o. figured out the algorithms to treat wind as reliable base load power. ferc's storage rule will give the system operators a new answer for further progress on clean renewable energy. believe it or not, even congress has acted. just last month, congress passed a bipartisan budget agreement that included legislation i cosponsored with senators heitkamp, capito and barrasso to spur investment innovation in next-generation carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies. our bill attracted what i would
call an unlikely coalition of energy, industrial, agricultural, and technology companies, as well as environment and labor groups. this bill puts a positive price on bipartisan reduction through a tax credit for projects that capture and utilize or store carbon dioxide emissions. without that price signal, there was little incentive to innovate how to turn carbon pollution from power plants and industrial facilities into something safe or even useful. the bill even incents technologies to pull carbon pollution directly from the atmosphere. the key, the key is that congress for the first time put a dollar value on reducing carbon pollution. the senate also just passed a nuclear innovation bill written
by senator crapo and me to increase collaboration between private industry, universities, and national laboratories in advanced nuclear technologies. our bill was also cosponsored by senators booker, murkowski, risch, hatch, and durbin. it would put private innovators together with our national labs, with the nuclear regulatory commission, and with the energy department, all working together on safe new nuclear technologies. my goal here is not only to help bring new carbon-free technologies forward ultimately to a carbon-free power grid, but also to stloar technologies that may, that just may allow us to turn our present hazardous nuclear waste stockpiles to productive use, to generate clean energy.
to move those waste stockpiles from the liability to the asset column on our nation's books. what an achievement that would be. so although congress may be blockaded still by fossil fuel interests, it's nevertheless the law of the land that administrative agencies must take into account the social cost of carbon, the cost that fossil fuel's carbon pollution imposes on society in making energy-related decisions. that test will remain. and lawsuits are slowly closing in on the moment of discovery when lawyers finally get access to the fossil fuel industry's files and decades of lies and denial and political manipulation are exposed for all to see.
though well-funded climate denial machine with its front groups and trick pony scientists and political muscle operation can only keep denial castle propped up so long. but until that battlement of lies collapses -- and it will -- until it collapses, nevertheless, progress still continues. -- all around us. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, we are quickly turning to the stop enabling sex traffickers act legislation coupled with legislation that has come over from the house of representatives, and i hope that we will get a big bipartisan vote in support of that legislation when it's voted on probably tomorrow. mr. president, let me just say that for more than two decades the commercial internet has been an undeniable force for good. it's delivered economic opportunity to people who would not otherwise have had it. it's empowered marginalized citizens around the world to fight back against oppressors. it has expanded educational
opportunities and made news and information more accessible. and more -- but like any tool, the internet can be used for evil as well as good. and right now certain corners of the internet are being exploited to facilitate sex trafficking, including the widespread trafficking of children. mr. president, each year thousands of children are sexually trafficked within the united states. that's right, mr. president. thousands of children are trafficked each year in the united states -- not in some faraway country but right here at home in our communities. and more and more every day this trafficking is being facilitated via the internet. three out of four children who have been sexually trafficked in this country have been trafficked online. the national center for missing and exploited children reported
an 846% increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking from 2010 to 2015. the increase the national center reports is, and i quote, directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to sell children for sex. end quote. now, obviously, mr. president, dedicated prosecutors and law enforcement around the country are working every day to combat the proliferation of sex trafficking on the internet. but some of their efforts have been stymied by a provision of a 1996 law called the communications decency act. the provision in question, section 230, was meant to protect websites from being held accountable for material that people create and post on their sites. it's thanks in part to this provision that such popular sites as facebook, youtube, and twitter have been able to flourish. but certain websites have used
this provision to defend themselves in court cases dealing with criminal activity that they have knowingly allowed or participated in; specifically, sex trafficking. now, needless to say, congress never intended this provision to be used to protect websites that knowingly and deliberately facilitate trafficking. the courts have generally held that this provision does not permit them to hold websites accountable for knowingly facilitating sex trafficking. and courts have also made it clear that if congress wants to ensure that these trafficking accomplices can be prosecuted, it needs to provide some more clarity on this provision. well, mr. president, that's what we're here to do today. senator rob portman of ohio has been a leading voice in the senate in the fight against human trafficking, and the legislation before us today includes his legislation, the stop enabling sex traffickers
act, which will prevent section 230 from being used as a defense by those who are knowingly cooperating with sex traffickers. under the stop enabling sex traffickers act, state law enforcement officials will be able to prosecute websites that knowingly assist in or facilitate sex trafficking. victims will be allowed to sue websites that violate the federal sex trafficking statute. state attorneys general will now also be allowed to file civil suits against websites that knowingly facilitate trafficking. the stop enabling sex traffickers act is an outstanding bill, mr. president, and a great credit to senator portman and the others that he worked with to get it considered here on the floor. it addresses a hole in our laws that is allowing sex traffickers to exploit the internet to facilitate their traffic, but it ensures that only bad actors are
targeted, and it maintains the key freedoms that have allowed the internet to flourish. under this legislation, websites can only be prosecuted if they knowingly facilitate or support trafficking. this bill is strongly supported by members of both parties. in fact, 67 out of the 100 united states senators are cosponsors of this bill. this bill is supported by the white house. it is supported by law enforcement organizations. it is supported by organizations that fight sex trafficking. it is supported by faith-based organizations. and it is suppor supported by ar of technology companies. i was proud to help facilitate conversations with a number of technology companies that resulted in solid support for this bill among members of the technology community. mr. president, the process of getting this bill to the senate floor today has been characterized by a wonderful
degree of bipartisan. i'm hoping that continues as we debate this bill over the next couple of days, and i encourage my colleagues to reject any attempts to slow this bill down with amendments. we have a remarkable degree of consensus on the stop enabling sex traffickers act, both within and without congress, and we should not disturb this momentum. we need to get this bill over the finish line. every day we wait for this bill to be enacted into law is another day in which websites in the dark corners of the internet can facilitate the heinous practice of sexually exploiting vulnerable human beings. mr. president, during the commerce committee hearing that i chaired on this bill, we heard testimony from yvonne ambrose whose daughter desiree was sexually trafficked repeatedly before being murdered. desiree was just 16, a bright and loving girl who dreamed of becoming a doctor in the air
force. instead, she was raped and murdered by a man twice her age who had sought her for sex after seeing her advertised on an internet site. mr. president, every day across this country there is another desiree being trafficked. some of these children are not yet teenagers. they should be going to basketball games and birthday parties. instead, they're being taken to homes and hotels to be violated by strangers. some, like desiree, will die there. mr. president, fighting trafficking has to be a priority for all of us, and i'm proud to have helped traffic two -- to have helped draft two bills earlier. while we've passed some good legislation over the past two years, there is a lot more work that needs to be done. there are many more desirees out there in danger, and we have an obligation to do everything that we can to protect them.
the stop enabling sex traffickers act will strike an important blow against this new wave of traffickers exploiting the internet to sell children the bill it is now part of, the bill that we're considering today, will allow states and victims to fight online sex trafficking act, will further boost sesta's impact by establishing new penalties for facilitating sex trafficking. mr. president, i urge my colleagues to pass this bill and to get it to the president as soon as possible. there are a lot of children out there who are waiting for our help. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session for the en bloc consideration of the following nominations: executive calendar 735, 736, 737, 738, and 739. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: nominations, department of justice, william m. mcswain of pennsylvania to be united states attorney for the eastern district of
pennsylvania. matthew d. harris of utah to be united states marshal for the district of utah. johnny lee kuhlman of oklahoma. joseph d. mclean of indiana to be united states marshal for the southern district of indiana. david a. weaver of colorado to be united states marshal for the district of colorado. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the senate vote on the nominations en bloc with no intervening action or debate, that if confirmed the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table en bloc, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, that no further motions be in order and that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question is on the nominations en bloc. all those in favor say aye. opposed nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nominations are confirmed en
bloc. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate resume legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the help committee be tkr-fpd from further consideration of s. res. 434 and the senate proceed to immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 434, recognizing the contributions of americorps members and alumni to the lives of the people of the united states. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the committee on veterans' affairs be discharged from further consideration of s. 899 and the senate proceed to
its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 899, a bill to amend title 38, united states code to ensure that the requirements that new federal employees who are veterans with service-connected disabilities, and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding it to the measure? without objection the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the bill be considered read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 11:00 a.m., wednesday, march 21. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, i ask that following leader remarks, the senate proceed to the consideration of h.r. 1865 as under the previous
order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 11:00 a.m., the senate finishing up the day using a procedural vote to stop a yemen war powers resolution. while senate lawmakers are expected to finish an online sex trafficking bill later in the week they will need to consider a bill to keep the government open to pass this coming friday. the yemen war powers resolution that accounted for most of the senate debate today and one of its cosponsors, senator bernie sanders, started the debate with the speech on the floor. >> mr. president, pursuant to section 1013 of the department of state authorization act fiscal year 1984