Washington, D.C. – Adding to the House Judiciary Committee’s work to protect children from exploitation and abuse, the Committee today approved a bill to combat child pornography and bring perpetrators to justice.

The Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act (H.R. 1761), authored by Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.), was approved by voice vote. The bill protects child pornography victims by remedying a federal court ruling in United States v. Palomino-Coronado. This decision allowed a defendant to walk free from production of child pornography charges, despite photographic evidence that he had engaged in sexual abuse of a seven-year-old child, because the court found that he lacked the specific intent to produce child pornography prior to abusing the child. To address this loophole in the law, the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act adds additional bases of liability to the crime of child pornography production to prevent this heinous crime and bring criminals to justice.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Representative Mike Johnson praised today’s Committee vote approving the bill in the statements below.

Chairman Goodlatte: “Perpetrators who prey upon and exploit innocent children should be brought to justice for their monstrous crimes. Representative Mike Johnson’s bill ensures that criminals who produce child pornography are not able to escape the law. I thank him for his tireless work to protect our nation’s kids. The House Judiciary Committee has approved a series of bills to combat child abuse and exploitation, and I urge House Leadership to bring them up for a vote so that we have more tools to combat these horrific crimes.”

Representative Johnson: “The Protection Against Child Exploitation Act is common sense legislation that will close a court-created loophole in federal law that currently allows a predator to admit to sexual assault of a child and still evade punishment. I am very pleased the House Judiciary Committee voted overwhelmingly to advance my bill to ensure these criminals receive the justice they so rightly deserve.”

Background: In addition to the approval of the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act, the House Judiciary Committee has also approved the following bills at two separate markups.

The Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 1188): This bill, authored by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), reauthorizes the two primary programs of the Adam Walsh Act—the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and Sex Offender Management Assistance Program—for five years and makes targeted changes to make the system more efficient and just. These programs help prevent child abuse by ensuring the public has access to information on known sex offenders who may live in their neighborhood.

The Child Protection Improvements Act of 2017 (H.R. 695): Introduced by Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), this bill ensures that youth-serving organizations have access to national background checks on prospective staff and volunteers through the FBI’s database. Currently, many youth-serving organizations only have access to state-level background check systems.

The Targeting Child Predators Act of 2017 (H.R. 883): This bill, authored by Representative Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), helps protect valuable information used to prosecute and convict child predators. Under current law, law enforcement is able to obtain the IP address of a suspected child predator and then subpoena Internet Service Providers for the user information attached to the IP address. The provider then may notify the user of the law enforcement inquiry, allowing the alleged child predator to destroy critical evidence. Under H.R. 883, Internet Service Providers must wait 180 days before notifying customers in child predator cases, where law enforcement has certified that such notification would endanger a person, cause the destruction of or tampering with evidence, cause flight from prosecution, or cause the intimidation of a potential witness.

The Strengthening Children’s Safety Act of 2017 (H.R. 1842): Authored by Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), this bill makes communities safer by enhancing penalties for sex offenders who fail to register in the national sex offender registry when they have a prior state conviction for a violent crime. It also ensures enhanced penalties for child exploitation crimes apply equally to all dangerous sex offenders.

The Global Child Protection Act (H.R. 1862): Authored by Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.), the legislation combats global sex tourism by closing loopholes that allow child predators to go unpunished for their abuse of children overseas. Specifically, the bill expands the conduct covered for child sexual exploitation cases that involve abuse occurring abroad to include sexual contact. It also broadens the offenses covered in the recidivist enhancement provisions in current law to protect the youngest of child victims.

For more on today’s markup, click here.

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