Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and concur in the Senate amendments to the bill (H.R. 4472) to protect children, to secure the safety of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and their family members, to reduce and prevent gang violence, and for other purposes.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I had a lengthy statement that I wanted to put in the Record, but we have a lot of demands for speakers, so I will be brief and include the full statement in the Record under general leave.
I rise in strong support of H.R. 4472, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. The continued vulnerability of America's children to sexual predators is a national tragedy that demands strong congressional action. During the 109th Congress, the House has twice passed broad child safety legislation; in September 2005 and then in March of this year. I want to commend the other body for recognizing the importance of following the House's lead to address this issue.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 4472 contains strict national offender registration and data sharing requirements to ensure that law enforcement agencies in America's communities know where sex offenders live and work, and to provide stiff criminal penalties for sex offenders who fail to comply with these enhanced registration requirements. This legislation would make it crystal clear to sex offenders: You better register, you better keep the information current, or you are going to jail.
The bill also increases criminal penalties to punish and deter those who prey on children, and it authorizes important grant programs that will help ensure the safety of our Nation's children.
Mr. Speaker, 25 years ago, John and Reve Walsh suffered the devastating loss of their 6-year-old son, Adam, who was abducted and murdered by a child predator. With courage and determination, the Walshes channeled the grief of their son's loss into a national campaign to spare other families from ever facing the pain they will always endure.
And I would just like to point out that in the well, there is a picture of this darling child who was brutally murdered.
Their quarter century of sacrifice has made America's children safer, and it is in the memory of their son Adam that this legislation is named.
Mr. Speaker, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 represents the most comprehensive Federal child safety legislation ever considered by this House. It reflects this body's boldest commitment yet to protecting America's children against sexual predators.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the motion to suspend the rules and send this vital and historic legislation to the President's desk for his signature.
Mr. GREEN of Wisconsin. Members, I rise in favor of the Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act. In my opinion, very honestly, I think this is the most important child safety legislation in modern times.
What makes this bill so powerful is that it gives law enforcement and, more importantly, families, vital tools for keeping our children safer. It expands the sex offender registry. It updates it. It makes it more usable in communities all across this country.
This legislation has the Amie Zyla Act, which I wrote with the help of Mark and Amie Zyla.
Ten years ago, Amie Zyla was then a young girl in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She was sexually assaulted by a 14-year-old boy. Her assailant was released after he turned 18, but because he committed that offense as a juvenile, law enforcement officials were not allowed to inform the community of his presence. He went on to get a job at a teen center, and he tragically victimized other children.
These crimes were absolutely preventable if only law enforcement had the authority and the tools to let people know they a serious sex offender in their midst.
Thanks to Amie's courage in telling America her story, we can now protect the public from dangerous criminals like her assailant because they will be included on the registry.
This great bill also contains the DNA fingerprinting provisions that I authored. These provisions will close a loophole that have let thousands of convicted sex offenders avoid submitting their DNA simply because they were convicted before we had the laws on the books requiring DNA to be taken upon their arrest and conviction.
I want to thank the chairman for his leadership in bringing this legislation to the floor. I want to thank Mark and Amie Zyla for telling their story. I want to thank my friend, Marc Klaas, for his dedication to improving our child safety laws. And of course, like so many today, I want to thank John Walsh for never giving up in the pursuit of justice.
John, I know that the pain is still there after 25 years. But I also know that you have lifted the lives of so many with your strong, clear voice. Thank you for helping us get to these days. Thank you for giving us the tools that we need to help keep family safer.
Mr. PENCE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding and I thank him from my heart, as a dad of three small children, for Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, once again, tenaciously achieving measurable gains in the law to protect our families and protect our children in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
I am particularly humbled because title V of this legislation is derived from a bill that I introduced in Congress, the first session, the Child Pornography Prevention Act. As the title states, the intent of my legislation is to prevent American children from becoming victims of pornography because, as we know, child pornography is the fuel that fires the wicked hearts of child predators, in addition to abusing the children involved.
A main tenet of my bill is the addition of language that will fix a technicality that so-called home pornographers have used to evade Federal prosecutions, and it is in this legislation.
Another element of my bill is the addition of a new section to the criminal code, section 2257(a) which adds a recordkeeping requirement that will force producers of sexually explicit material to keep records of the names and ages of their subjects when they are engaged in simulated sexual activity, another measurable gain in the law for children.
Providing law enforcement with the tools to combat child pornography contained in this legislation is a much needed and overdue step that must be taken to protect our kids from those in society who have no decency, no conscience and no shame.
I urge passage of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. It is time to protect our kids. Today, thanks to the leadership of Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, we take a giant step toward doing just that.
Mr. FOLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer my strong support for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
I remember that tragic day in Hollywood, Florida, when a young Adam Walsh hit the headlines, having been abducted from a mall in our State. Over 2 years ago, his father, John Walsh, and Ernie Allen approached me to discuss what they saw as a growing and dangerous threat to our children, sex offenders. We talked about the fact there were over 500,000 sex offenders listed on various State registries, but because of poor Federal and State laws, we were missing over 150,000 of them. Soon after that
meeting, I began work on the Sex Offender Registration Notification Act, which is contained in this bill today.
The Adam Walsh Act is the most comprehensive piece of child protection legislation this Congress has ever considered. The bill creates, among other things, new State and Federal regulations, community notification requirements, as well as new Federal criminal penalties for sex offenders. It also gives law enforcement new resources, including authorizing U.S. Marshals to go after missing sex offenders, 20 new task forces, 200 new Federal prosecutors, 45 new forensic scientists dedicated to investigating
crimes against children.
It used to be that we tracked library books better than we do sex offenders, but this bill will even that score.
I am grateful to Chairman Sensenbrenner for his leadership and willingness to work with so many Members across the political aisle on this important issue. I want to thank the Speaker for keeping his word to get this bill to the President by July 27, the 25th anniversary of Adam's death.
Mr. Speaker, there are many people who made this day a reality, but the two people who should take the most credit are the parents of Adam Walsh, and that is John and his wife, Reve. It still amazes me to this day the way they were able to turn Adam's death into a lifelong crusade to protect our Nation's children. Their passion and commitment have led to the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and to the rescue of countless children.
John and Reve, our Nation thanks you for everything you have done.
I want to especially thank Bradley Schreiber, my legislative director; Michael Volkov; Phil Kiko; and Sean [Page: H5726]
McLaughlin of the House Judiciary Committee for their outstanding efforts.
Mr. CRAMER. Mr. Speaker, I too stand in strong support of this bill. I want to compliment the chairman of the Judiciary Committee for giving us this opportunity. My colleague, Mark Foley, who just spoke, he and I cochaired the Caucus for Missing and Exploited Children.
Prior to my time here in Congress, I was a district attorney, and I saw too many children victimized by predators that had slipped between the cracks, predators that lived in neighborhoods. Neighbors didn't know it. Schools didn't know it. We can tighten this net of safety around children and families, but only through this bill can we do that.
I joined with John Walsh in the early 1980s in an effort to form a stronger network of child abuse intervention programs that we built around the country called the National Children's Advocacy Center programs. They exist in 700 or 800 communities around this country, and they are one-stop service centers where child abuse victims and their families can come to get help and support.
But in establishing centers like this, in bringing network teams together in communities, we found out that that safety net to protect those children and families simply did not exist, and that was because the registration and notification system was practically nonexistent. And even though we, from the 1990s forward, have done everything we can to improve that, we still kept the notice factors in that too private, too available to only a certain select few so that neighbors and communities and
schools did not know what they needed to do.
I want to congratulate John Walsh and his wife, Reve, as well for making sure that they are establishing the next chapter in honor of Adam Walsh. John and Reve have given so much to the rest of this country in making sure that children are protected.
We need to pass this bill today in Adam Walsh's memory.
Mrs. KELLY. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Chairman Sensenbrenner for his hard work on this piece of legislation, which goes a long way toward protecting our children from predators and abusers.
Our Nation loses four children a day to abuse and neglect. Our government owes it to these children to provide our law enforcement and child protective service communities with a deep, ready, and effective arsenal that they can utilize to protect the most vulnerable element of our society.
The conference report contains a provision I authored in the House to create a Federal registry of child abuse and neglect at the Department of Health and Human Services. This registry will close a glaring loophole in our current law which allows child abusers to find sanctuary by merely crossing States' borders.
This legislation puts a ``go-to'' Federal resource in place to help local jurisdictions identify and track those with a history of child abuse anywhere in this country. Now our State and local child protection services will be able to access this valuable tool to weed out predators and help them fight child abuse and neglect across State lines. It is a commonsense child protection measure. It was passed by the House twice, and I am very happy to see it included in this conference report before
With the establishment of the Federal Child Abuse and Neglect Registry, local and State child advocacy services will have a full picture of the individual who would have children placed in their care, abuse them, and then try to escape; and our Nation's most vulnerable children will now be protected.
I would like to thank Chairman Sensenbrenner again for his leadership on this issue, and I also want to thank my constituent John Walsh for his hard work over many years to bring this bill to fruition.
Mr. FITZPATRICK of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank Chairman Sensenbrenner for his leadership in protecting America's families [Page: H5727]
and for his determination in bringing this bill, H.R. 4472, to the House floor today.
Mr. Speaker, as the father of six children, I am deeply committed to finding better ways to safeguard the welfare of America's families. That is why I introduced the Justice for Crime Victims Families Act and, with Congressman Foley, the Internet SAFETY Act of 2006. Both of these bills have been included into H.R. 4472, and they will strengthen what is already a sweeping set of improvements to the way law enforcement solve murders and protect kids from online sexual predators.
The Internet SAFETY Act will increase penalties for registered sex offenders who commit felony offenses involving a minor and set fines and imprisonment for Internet providers who facilitate child pornography. The legislation will also establish an Office of Sexual Crimes and Violence Against Children within the United States Department of Justice.
These are strong additions to an already thoughtful and comprehensive set of policies outlined in H.R. 4472. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to adopt this legislation.
Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4472, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
Mr. Speaker, this bipartisan legislation is a victory in the fight to keep our children safe. There are many critical and important provisions included in this bill. In particular, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House and Senate conferees for including in this legislation a provision that I introduced in the House earlier this year, a provision that is entitled Masha's Law.
Last year I learned of a shocking inequity that exists in our current law. Currently, a person who illegally downloads music faces penalties in civil court that are three times as harsh as a person who downloads child pornography. This horrible inequity was the inspiration behind the introduction of Masha's Law, and this provision dramatically increases civil statutory damages for child exploitation, creating a civil avenue victims of child sexual exploitation can pursue to recover monetary damages
from these predators. This includes those who produce, distribute, and consume child pornography.
Mr. Speaker, I want my colleagues to know that Masha's Law is named after a brave 13-year-old girl from my district, Masha Allen. Masha was born in Russia and placed in a state orphanage because her mother was an alcoholic and a drug addict. When she was 5 years old, a man from the United States was allowed to adopt her through an international adoption agency. This man started sexually abusing her the very first night she arrived in America.
Fortunately, this perpetrator is now behind bars. However, over the years of his abuse of Masha, he photographed her, posted her pictures, and traded her pornographic images over the Internet. The sad reality is that, although these monsters can be put behind bars, the victims of Internet child pornography will continue to be exploited, and this is why I introduced Masha's Law.
Mr. Speaker, a compassionate society looks after the most vulnerable among us, our children. I urge my colleagues to support the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act so we can protect our most precious commodity, innocent children like Masha, and give back hope to those who need it most.
Ms. GINNY BROWN-WAITE of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4472, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.
Finally, we have a bill passed by both this body and the Senate for the President to sign. Finally, Mark Lunsford has a legacy for his daughter Jessica of a guardian angel keeping children safe by closing dangerous loopholes in our law. Finally, the family and friends of Adam Walsh, Carlie Brucia, Sarah Lunde, and so many others can sleep a little better at night knowing we are helping to protect America's precious children.
My heart is still broken for the loss of Jessica Lunsford and all the joys in life that she will miss. At least she will be in a better place where no one can ever harm her again.
Mr. Speaker, certainly Chairman Sensenbrenner, who worked tirelessly on this bill, deserves a great deal of credit.
Back when I first heard about Jessica's disappearance, I knew that we could not sit back and do nothing. For instance, the probation officer for Jessica's alleged killer, John Couey, never knew that he was a convicted sex offender. I introduced a bill, and Chairman Sensenbrenner was kind enough to include it in this comprehensive bill, that fixes that.
The alleged perpetrator also did not have a current address on file with law enforcement, as he should have. This bill demands more frequent updates and checks. It also provides some grant mechanisms to be sure that the localities can pay for this additional registration. The bill empowers States to do just as Florida has done and use GPS monitoring devices to track offenders.
I know in my heart that these changes will genuinely help equip our law enforcement to better protect the most innocent in our society, our children.
My good friend Congressman MARK FOLEY has said numerous times that previously we tracked library books better than we tracked sex offenders. Thankfully, that will be no more.
Mr. HAYWORTH. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this good commonsense bill. It will protect our children from sexual predators and sex trafficking and provide more tools for law enforcement to help defend our kids.
Last year during House floor consideration of this important legislation, Representative Sue Kelly and I offered an amendment to create a national child abuse registry within the Department of Health and Human Services. This registry will remove the loophole in our local laws that allows child abusers to remain anonymous by moving to another State. This provision will require that States share with other States information that they already collect and share with their counties, cities,
A national child abuse registry is strongly supported by a number of child advocacy organizations including ChildHelp USA.
Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, by working together, we can strengthen our efforts to protect children from predators. Again, I urge this House to pass this commonsense legislation.
Mr. GILLMOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in wholehearted support of this legislation. I think it stands as a testament to Congress's heeding the call of the American public for increased protections from these dangerous sexual predators.
I would like to commend Chairman Sensenbrenner for his leadership and for his unwavering commitment to ensure that American families receive the necessary tools to protect their loved ones. As a father of three young children, I feel a special appreciation for the benefits that this legislation will provide, not the least of which is a national database of sexually violent offenders accessible to all Americans via the Internet, enhanced community notification measures, and a study to
assess the merits of a standardized national risk-based classification system. I particularly want to thank the chairman for working with me in including those provisions which were set forth in two bills I had previously introduced.
I urge passage of the bill.