Washington, D.C. – Adding to the House Judiciary Committee’s work to protect children from exploitation and abuse, the Committee today approved two additional bills to strengthen penalties for child predators and fight abuse of children abroad by U.S. citizens.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the following statement on today’s Committee approval of these bills:
“When it comes to protecting children, we must ensure our laws are airtight to prevent predators from facing no consequences for their cruel abuse and exploitation of kids. The bills approved by the House Judiciary Committee today close several loopholes in current law in order to combat global sex tourism and keep our kids safe from dangerous sex offenders. I applaud Representatives Ratcliffe and Roby for their good work on these bills and urge the House to take action on them quickly.”
The Committee first approved the Strengthening Children’s Safety Act of 2017 (H.R. 1842), authored by Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), by voice vote. The 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.
“One of the top priorities of the House Judiciary Committee is ensuring our nation’s laws are properly enforced on behalf of the safety of all Americans – especially those most vulnerable among us,” said Representative Ratcliffe. “I’m grateful for Chairman Goodlatte’s leadership on our bold agenda to bolster federal protections for our nation’s children, including my bill to close loopholes that are allowing child exploitation offenses to go unpunished.”
The Committee also approved the Global Child Protection Act (H.R. 1862) authored by Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.), by voice vote. 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.
“There are loopholes in current law allowing child predators to evade punishment for their abuse of children overseas,” said Representative Roby. “These loopholes were, of course, never intended. Nonetheless, these technical flaws are making it harder for authorities to put serial child abusers away where they belong. The Global Child Protection Act aims to close these loopholes and better equip law enforcement to protect children and punish abusers. I want to thank our strong partners in the Department of Justice for their commitment to combatting exploitation and abuse here in our country and abroad.”
In addition to the bills approved today, the House Judiciary Committee recently passed the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act, the Child Protection Improvements Act, and the Targeting Child Predators Act. These bills ensure youth-serving organizations have access to background checks for prospective staff and volunteers, investigators have efficient access to critical evidence needed to stop child predators, and reauthorize and improve critical programs to track sex offenders.
More information on today’s markup can be found here.