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Moment of Silence in Rememberence of Members of Armed Forces and Their Families

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Chairman, I rise to ask for my colleagues' support of an amendment to protect our most vulnerable constituents, our children.

This bipartisan amendment is a simple one. It says that child victims of sexual predators should not be forced to fight for funding scraps if deep cuts to the Department of Justice occur.

This amendment fences off $30 million within the Department of Justice's Justice Assistance Account for child exploitation prevention and interdiction. It ensures that, even in this time of painful budget cuts, that we will protect the most precious and vulnerable among us.

Over the last decade, child pornography trafficking has exploded into a multi-billion-dollar global industry. The majority of both demand and supply is based in the United States and, sadly, most often involves parents or adults that the victim knows and trusts.

Tragically, the demand for images of young children being sexually exploited, raped, and even tortured can only be supplied through the continued sexual abuse of more children. Literally, every image of child pornography is a crime-scene photo.

Several years ago, law enforcement informed Congress that it could identify hundreds of thousands of individuals perpetrating child exploitation offenses online, but admitted it was investigating fewer than 2 percent of these known individuals due to a lack of resources that left them outnumbered and overwhelmed.

The vast majority of these identifiable sexual predators remained at large, and their young victims beyond rescue.

Congress and the President responded by passing and signing into law the PROTECT Our Children Act, which provides desperately needed resources for the vital Internet Crimes Against Children task forces.

These task forces are teams of local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors that lift the digital fingerprints, rescue the children, and hold perpetrators accountable.

The ICAC task forces rescue child victims in real time, victims like Alicia Kozakiewicz, who was sexually assaulted at age 13 by a man who befriended her online and abducted her from her Pittsburgh home. She was rescued by the FBI and the Virginia ICAC task force.

Now is not the time to pull the funding rug out from under these ICAC task forces. Congress is already funding this effort at only half of its authorization. Yet the law is making a difference. The Department of Justice recently released its ``National Strategy'' to combat child exploitation, but it is only first getting up and running. Now is not the time to impose draconian funding cuts on the Department of Justice that could thwart this progress.

I want to thank Congressman Shuler, Congressman Lamar Smith, and Congressman Dan Lungren for supporting me in this bipartisan effort. This important amendment will give State, local, and Federal law enforcement the resources they need to protect our most vulnerable.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Chair, sadly, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have no idea how to create jobs or turn the economy around, so their true colors have come to the surface. And Speaker Boehner made that clear when asked about the potential job losses that will result from horrendous budget cuts that we have been debating for the last couple of days, when he responded, so be it.

So I rise today to urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this amendment. This is a dangerously ideologically motivated stunt that will imperil the lives and well-being of millions of women and their families. This amendment is not just a war on Planned Parenthood, as the gentleman from Indiana said. It's a war on women.

Planned Parenthood clinics are a crucial part of our national health care fabric. Through Federal funds, including Medicaid reimbursements and title X funding on an annual basis, Planned Parenthood health centers are able to offer nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer, 830,000 breast examination, contraception to nearly 2.5 million patients, nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and education programs for 1.2 million individuals. These are much needed services that we could not afford to lose.

In addition to completely de-funding Planned Parenthood, this amendment would also strike all Federal funding for title X programs. This would be a colossal mistake and truly a matter of life and death to millions of women nationwide.

Since 1970, the title X family planning program has been a key component of our Nation's health care infrastructure and an essential element in the winning strategy to reduce unintended pregnancies.

Today title X serves over 5 million low-income individuals every year. In every State, women and men rely on title X for basic primary and preventative health care including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, in 2009 alone title X providers performed 2.2 million Pap tests, 2.3 million breast exams, and over 6 million tests for sexually transmitted diseases, including nearly a million HIV tests.

As a breast cancer survivor whose cancer was caught at the earliest stage, like my friend from Connecticut, I know how critical these screenings are in saving women's lives. And preventative care isn't limited to cancer screenings and education on how to avoid STDs.

Supporters of this bill mistakenly argue that this cut is necessary to prevent Federal funding for abortions. Let me be clear: Federal funding for abortions is already prohibited by law. This has been the case for decades. Yet this amendment attempts to take funding prohibitions to an unconscionable new level and, if passed, will result in millions of women not being able to obtain necessary preventive care like birth control and cancer screenings.

If Republicans truly want to reduce abortions in this country, they would vote against this amendment. Indeed, title X actually reduces the number of abortions. Title X services help to prevent nearly 1 million unintended pregnancies each year, almost half of which would otherwise end in abortion. Current statistics from the Gutmacher Institute indicate that nearly half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. We should be providing women and their families with the resources they need, not striking them.

Indeed, Planned Parenthood and the title X program provide vital family planning services which help improve the life of the mother and the child. It's a simple fact. Family planning keeps women and children healthy. When women plan their pregnancies, they are more likely to seek prenatal care, improving their own health and the health of their children. In fact, access to family planning is directly linked to the declines in maternal and infant mortality rates. There should be no shadow of a doubt that this amendment is anti-woman and anti-family.

While my colleague from Indiana may frame this amendment in the context of fiscal responsibility, that is once again a mistaken premise. This amendment would not cut the deficit. In fact, title X actually saves taxpayer dollars. Since many of the patients served by title X are on Medicaid, preventative care like cancer screenings and contraceptive counseling actually means fewer costs to the taxpayer in the long run. Indeed, for every public dollar invested in family planning, $3.74 is saved in Medicaid-related costs. That's savings to both Federal and State governments.

And one of the most detrimental and dangerous things we could do to women and their families right now is to de-fund the leading title X provider nationwide, Planned Parenthood. Every year, Planned Parenthood works tirelessly to improve the health of communities across this country. Six in 10 women who access care from centers like Planned Parenthood say it is their main source of health care. We cannot cut these women off from the health services that should be available to all of them.

Efforts to undermine the title X program and this essential health care provider are not only reckless; they are also anti-woman, anti-child, and anti-taxpayer.

Madam Chair, this is a horrendous amendment that would devastate access to health care for millions of American women and should be defeated.


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