Dr. Coburn Urges Senate Leaders to End Partisan Obstruction of Child Protection Legislation
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician, today called on Senate leaders to end their obstruction of S. 3344, the "Protecting Children from Pornography and Internet Exploitation Act," after Oprah Winfrey featured a major provision of the bill on her television show today.
"Those who watched Oprah's broadcast today deserve to know that Senate leaders have repeatedly objected to passing critical child protection legislation for partisan, political purposes. Congress has a nine percent approval rating because politicians in Washington refuse to set common sense priorities, refuse to make rational budget decisions, and refuse to work across the aisle when that requires sharing credit with the other party during election season. Victims of these horrible crimes don't care whether Democrats or Republicans get the credit for protecting children," Dr. Coburn said.
"Oprah's viewers deserve to know that Senate leaders have twice objected to passage of the bill she supports. Senate leaders have insisted that S. 1738, authored by Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and endorsed by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), only pass if it is included in a package of unrelated bills that addresses less vital concerns such as the interstate commerce of non-human primates. When I proposed de-linking the causes of protecting children and chimpanzees, Senate leaders objected," Dr. Coburn said.
"Because of these objections, I introduced S. 3344, a comprehensive child exploitation bill that pairs S. 1738 with the Securing Adolescents from Exploitation-Online (SAFE) Act of 2007, a measure strongly supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which passed the House by a margin of 409-2. The Democrat leadership objected, however, apparently because they didn't want to give the SAFE Act's Senate author, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), credit for passing a complimentary bill," Dr. Coburn said.
The SAFE Act would expand the requirements for electronic service providers (ESPs) to report online child pornography and help to root out people selling, trading, or displaying illegal pornographic images of children. (click here for NCMEC's letter endorsing the SAFE Act)
"Senates leaders also have not informed Oprah's viewers, as well as victims of child pornography and their families, that they have zero intention of funding child protection legislation this year. Senate leaders, who are eager to leave Washington to campaign, have refused to do their job and have passed no appropriations bills this year. As a result, child protection legislation will receive no funding. The children who have been exploited by these crimes deserve real action, not false promises and empty Washington rhetoric," Dr. Coburn said.
"Sadly, victims of crime and their families have been down this road many times. For instance, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act in 2006 and, despite promises to the Surviving Parents Coalition, including Ed and Elizabeth Smart, Congress has failed to appropriate any money to fund the act," Dr. Coburn said.
"Oprah's viewers who want to support this noble cause should ask Senators to support S. 3344, a bill that includes the key provisions of S. 1738 as well as the SAFE Act. Viewers should then ask Congress to make tough choices and fund these vital programs with real money by spending less on special interest earmarks and other forms of wasteful Washington spending. Our economy is in trouble and our country is going bankrupt because politicians refuse to do what American families do every day and make tough choices between competing priorities," Dr. Coburn said.
"Finally, I'm concerned that Oprah's program only highlighted one half of the solution - the half supported by the presidential ticket she has endorsed. While I support the right of celebrities to use their platforms to advance partisan goals, Oprah's viewers deserve to know all of the facts. The American people have had enough of Washington's false promises and partisan rhetoric that fails to acknowledge that all Americans, both Democrat and Republican, want to do their best to protect our children from internet predators," Dr. Coburn said.