April 5, 2006 - Issue: Vol. 152, No. 42 — Daily Edition109th Congress (2005 - 2006) - 2nd Session
UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S. 1086; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 42
(Senate - April 05, 2006)
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[Pages S2896-S2897] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S. 1086 Mr. FRIST. But before doing that, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 251, S. 1086. I ask unanimous consent that the committee- reported amendment be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements relating to the bill be printed in the Record. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Mr. REID. Reserving the right to object, Mr. President, Senator Kennedy and other Senators have been told prior to this piece of legislation passing there would be a vote on hate crimes legislation that has been in this body for a long time. I would hope--and it is my understanding the chairman of the committee had worked this out with Senator Kennedy--we could, at an early date, I mean in a matter of hours, work this out. This sex offender registry is [[Page S2897]] an important piece of legislation. But also, as we have learned here in the Senate, people keeping their word is also important. I am confident it was some kind of a misunderstanding. I am hopeful that is the case. But until Senator Kennedy and others and Senator Specter work this out, I must object. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard. Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, just a moment of explanation because I think this bill is, in substance, broadly supported. I am disappointed to hear the objections tonight. Let me comment very briefly on the bill because it is an issue that I think this body does feel strongly about and that we need to move forward on because it can make a difference. This particular bill is child predator legislation, and we all need to be working together to keep our children safe from child predators. American families, as we all know, should not have to live in fear of sexual predators lurking in neighborhoods and enticing our children. In the last 24 hours, we have all seen--actually here in the Senate and in this town--we have learned some shocking and tragic news about the growing problem of online child pornography. The abuse of the Internet has really, unfortunately, become the gateway to more serious violent sex offenses against both children and adults. On Tuesday night, we learned of the arrest of another online child predator and the tragic plight of a child predator victim. The predator was an official from the Department of Homeland Security who was arrested for seducing a child over the Internet. Allegedly, this individual initiated a sexually explicit online chat with a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl. He allegedly described in graphic detail the sexual acts he wanted to perform with her and offered to exchange sexually explicit photos. Fortunately, law enforcement intercepted this individual before he could victimize an innocent child. But for too many innocent children, the child predators are not caught until it is too late. Yesterday we also heard from one of the victims: 19-year-old Justin Berry from California who courageously testified before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on sexual exploitation of children over the internet. For 5 five years, Justin was the victim of an online child pornography ring. At 13, this lonely teenager innocently hooked up a web camera to his computer, hoping to meet other teenagers online. Instead, he heard only from adult child predators who struck up friendly chats and offered him compliments and gifts. One day, one predator offered to pay him $50 to take off his shirt in front of the webcam. Eventually, these predators lured him into performing pornographic acts in front of the webcam for an audience that grew to more than 1,500 people who paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars. These shocking stories are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of a larger problem. I believe we should seize this opportunity to transform these tragedies into positive action. The bill I called up tonight--S. 1086, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act--would help protect our kids against child predators. It was introduced by Senator Hatch. It has 33 bipartisan cosponsors. It was reported unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and the National District Attorneys Association. And it is supported by the families of child predator victims. Among its many provisions, the bill will create a national sex offender registry accessible on the Internet and searchable by zip code; Require convicted sex offenders to register, including child predators who use the Internet to commit a crime against a minor; Make failure to register a felony; Encourage information sharing among local, State and Federal law enforcement; and Toughen criminal penalties for violent crimes against children under 12. Here in the Senate, we need to act to address this issue. In light of the events this week, we should not delay. We should act now before another innocent child becomes a victim of a child predator. It is an issue we do need to address, and I believe it will pass in an overwhelmingly bipartisan way. In light of the events of this week, we should not be delaying it any longer. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the other side in getting this bill passed as soon as possible. Mr. REID. Mr. President, very briefly, if the distinguished majority leader will yield, Democrats support the concept of a national registry. It is important. But we also support the concept that people who are injured, maimed, or murdered as a result of hate crimes also deserve protection. We hope we can do all this at one time. I am hopeful and confident that can happen. ____________________