WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, released the following statements on today’s Senate vote of 97–2 to send legislation cracking down on the use of websites for illegal sex trafficking to the White House for the president’s signature.
“Today’s vote pushes back against the growth of illegal sex trafficking on the internet,” said Thune. “I congratulate Sen. Rob Portman and his cosponsors who initiated this legislation, witnesses who testified at our committee in favor of cleaning up sites frequented by traffickers, technology companies who worked to grow consensus around the reform, and my colleagues on the Commerce Committee who gave this important accountability reform the panel’s unanimous approval.”
"We simply cannot sit idly by any longer while websites aid and abet child sex traffickers," said Nelson. "The cost of further inaction is far too high."
H.R. 1865, which includes both Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), creates new accountability for websites hosting ads posted by sex traffickers, allows state attorneys general to prosecute websites that knowingly facilitate trafficking, and enhances criminal penalties for traffickers. In September 2017, the Commerce Committee held a hearing on SESTA that included testimony from Yvonne Ambrose, mother of human trafficking victim, Desiree Robinson. In November, Thune and Nelson unveiled an amendment making technical changes and clarifying the intent of the legislation that broadened support for the bill and enabled the Commerce Committee to approve the measure by voice vote.