Rob’s Rundown: Week of April 9-13, 2018
This week, Senator Portman was pleased to see his bipartisan SESTA bill signed into law. SESTA will help ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and hold accountable websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. It passed the Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 97-2 last month. Despite the fact that it was long overdue, this week Portman praised the indictment of Backpage.com’s owners, executives, and employees. Lastly, Portman commended the nominations of both Sarah Morrison for U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District in Columbus, Ohio, and Pam Barker for U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Northern District of Ohio.
For a more detailed look at Senator Portman’s week, please see the following:
Monday, April 9
Portman Praises U.S. Department of Justice’s Indictment of Backpage’s Owners & Executives
Portman praised the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) after it announced a federal indictment of Backpage.com’s owners, executives, and employees. The website is the market leader in commercial-sex advertising that has been linked to hundreds of reported cases of sex trafficking, including trafficking of children. The Senate recently passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 97-2 as part of a broader congressional effort to help stop online sex trafficking and provide justice for victims. The bill is expected to be signed into law on Wednesday. Portman issued the following statement:
“The indictment of Backpage is good news for victims and survivors of online sex trafficking. This website is hub for the selling of women and children online, and it’s an important step forward in our efforts to hold online sex traffickers accountable. Our bipartisan investigation into Backpage uncovered new evidence that handed over to the Department of Justice more than 10 months ago. Our bipartisan work has made a significant difference in raising awareness of these trafficking crimes and informed our efforts to craft a narrow legislative solution that is now ready to be signed into law.
“I’m also pleased that Congress has taken additional steps by passing my SESTA legislation to help sex trafficking victims get justice and allow state and local law enforcement to swiftly prosecute websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws. This bipartisan measure will make it easier to hold online sex traffickers accountable, and I look forward to seeing President Trump sign this bill into law this week.”
Tuesday, April 10
Portman, Brown Applaud Nomination of Sarah Morrison for U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District in Columbus, Ohio
Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the nomination of Sarah Morrison by President Trump to serve as U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District of Ohio. Portman and Brown recommended the President nominate Administrator Morrison for the vacancy in Columbus, Ohio, which was created upon the retirement of the Honorable Gregory L. Frost. The nomination will now be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee before being considered for confirmation by the full U.S. Senate. The Southern District has court locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton and serves more than five million Ohioans in 48 counties.
“I applaud the President’s decision to nominate Sarah Morrison to serve as Columbus’s newest federal judge,” said Portman. “Administrator Morrison enjoys widespread support because of her significant experience in both the public and private sectors, including her time as CEO of Ohio’s Bureau of Workers Compensation. She will make Ohio proud in this new role.”
Portman, Brown Applaud Nomination of Pam Barker for U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Northern District of Ohio
Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the nomination of Pam Barker by President Trump to serve as U.S. Federal District Court Judge for the Northern District of Ohio. Portman and Brown recommended the President nominate Judge Barker for the vacancy in Cleveland, Ohio, which was created when the Honorable Donald C. Nugent took senior status. The nomination will now be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee before being considered for confirmation by the full U.S. Senate. The Northern District has court locations in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo, and Youngstown and serves approximately 5.9 million citizens of the 40 most northern counties in Ohio.
“I applaud the President’s decision to nominate Pam Barker to serve as Cleveland’s newest federal judge,” said Portman. “Her time presiding over the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas has prepared her to hit the ground running and honorably serve the people of Ohio. She has the necessary experience and sound judgement to be a great federal judge and will make Ohio proud in this new role.”
Wednesday, April 11
On MSNBC, Portman Highlights How New SESTA Law Will Help End Online Sex Trafficking
Portman discussed his bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which was just signed into law by President Trump, during an interview today with Ali Velshi on MSNBC. The legislation will help ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and hold accountable websites like Backpage.com which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. It passed the Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 97-2 last month. Portman also discussed Syria and the need for a multinational coalition to respond to the recent atrocities.
Portman, Blumenthal, McCain, McCaskill, Cornyn, Heitkamp Praise Signing of Bipartisan Bill to Help Stop Online Sex Trafficking
Portman, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) praised the signing of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) into law as part of a broader congressional effort to help stop online sex trafficking and provide justice for victims. The bill passed the Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 97-2 last month:
“This is a momentous day in the fight to help stop online sex trafficking, and a big victory for trafficking victims and survivors who for too long have been denied the opportunity to get the justice they deserve,” said Senator Portman. “We wouldn’t have gotten to this point without the bravery of the sex trafficking victims and their families who shared their stories, the work of anti-trafficking advocates who helped us craft a narrowly-tailored solution, and a broad coalition of support that was unwavering its commitment to getting this done. I’d particularly like to thank Senators Thune, Blumenthal, McCain, McCaskill, Cornyn, and Heitkamp for their leadership and hard work on this effort. No one thought that we could get this done, but we did. SESTA will make a difference in the lives of sex trafficking survivors. Justice for these victims is long overdue.”
Portman Recognizes Ohio’s First Responders on Senate Floor
Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor to recognize Ohio’s first responders. This week is Ohio Appreciation Week honoring all first responders who devote every day to ensure Ohioans’ health and safety.
Portman Hails SESTA Becoming Law: “Today is a Big Day in the Fight Against Sex Trafficking”
Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor to highlight his bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) becoming the law of the land. Senator Portman was present at the White House when President Trump signed SESTA into law. On March 21st, the Senate passed Senator Portman’s bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) – by an overwhelming vote of 97-2 – as part of a broader House effort to help stop online sex trafficking and provide justice for victims.
Thursday, April 12
Portman’s Bipartisan SESTA Bill Signed into Law, A Victory for Trafficking Survivors
On March 21st, the Senate passed Senator Portman’s bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) – by an overwhelming vote of 97-2 – as part of a broader congressional effort to help stop online sex trafficking and provide justice for victims. President Trump signed the bill and SESTA became law of the land.
Portman states in the video: “We had a great victory in passing legislation we’ve worked on for two years to be able to allow victims and survivors of sex trafficking to get the justice they deserve, to be sure we can go after these websites that are exploiting women and children online. We were told by many that this could never happen, we were told that the special interests were too powerful, that they would push back and keep us from providing this kind of justice for victims and survivors. Now we have the opportunity to be able to help these individuals get their lives back together and to avoid the countless other women and children who might have been drawn into trafficking and all of the trauma and heartache that is associated with it.”
To watch the video, click here.
Portman, McCaskill Introduce Promoting Hydropower Development & Jobs Act
Portman and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced the Promoting Hydropower Development & Jobs Act, new legislation to streamline permitting for hydropower projects and create more jobs for local communities across the country. This bill will promote hydropower development at existing non-powered dams by establishing an expedited licensing process that will result in a decision on an application in two years or less. The bill also would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of the Interior to develop a list of existing non-powered federal dams that have the greatest potential for non-federal hydropower development. Currently, there are more than 50,000 suitable non-powered dams across the country that collectively have the technical potential to add 12 gigawatts of hydropower capacity, enough power to illuminate 1.2 trillion LED lightbulbs.
“This bill will promote clean energy and create more jobs,” Portman stated. “It makes sense to streamline the permitting process for hydropower on dams that already exist, especially given that the new facilities will have a minimal environmental impact. In Ohio alone, there are 44 suitable dams that potentially could benefit from this bipartisan bill.”
The full text of the bill can be found here.
On Social Media
Trump signs Portman’s bill fighting sex trafficking
Sen. Rob Portman was at the White House Wednesday to watch President Trump sign a bill Portman introduced giving victims and prosecutors the right to sue websites that sell women and young girls for sex.
Flanked by lawmakers including Portman; Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and survivors of sex trafficking, Trump paid tribute to the survivors of sex trafficking, saying they have “endured what no person on Earth should ever have to endure” and telling them he was signing the bill in their honor.
Trump’s signing of the bill is the culmination of a three-year effort by Portman, an Ohio Republican, to stop online sex trafficking. His bill garnered 68 cosponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
As Trump prepared to sign the bill into law, Portman thanked Ivanka for her support of the bill at a time when many thought the bill would not be passed.
“By signing this today, Mr. President, you will make a huge difference in the lives of so many women, girls, boys going forward,” Portman said. “And I want to thank you for that and, again, thank the survivors who are here because they’re the ones who led this fight.
(Trump signs Portman’s bill fighting sex trafficking. Jessica Wehrman. Columbus Dispatch. April 11, 2018.)
U.S. Shuts Down Backpage, a Classified-Ad Website, Indicts Co-Founders
Federal officials said they were shutting down Backpage, a controversial classified-ad website that has long been accused by political leaders and law-enforcement officials of providing a platform for prostitution and sex trafficking.
As part of the federal operation, a grand jury in Arizona indicted seven people associated with Backpage on charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering. They included Michael Lacey, 69 years old, and James Larkin, 68, the co-founders of Backpage.
Members of Congress, including Sens. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and Rob Portman (R., Ohio), have investigated the alleged role of Backpage in the sex-trafficking system.
The bipartisan law passed last month, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) and Mr. Portman, would amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to roll back immunity that Congress had conferred on websites for the actions of their users.
(U.S. Shuts Down Backpage, a Classified-Ad Website, Indicts Co-Founders. Del Quentin Wilber and Lalita Clozel. Wall Street Journal. April 9, 2018.)