|Committee||Commerce, Science, and Transportation|
|Date||December 15, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)|
|Staff Contact||Adam Hepburn|
S. 987 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Wednesday, December 15, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The legislation was introduced on May 6, 2009, by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). The Senate approved the bill on December 1, 2010, by unanimous consent.
S. 987 would authorize the president to provide assistance to developing countries to reduce the incidence of child marriage and would require him to develop and implement a multiyear strategy to prevent such marriages and to promote the empowerment of girls.
The bill would direct that priority be given to areas or regions in developing countries in which 40 percent or more of girls under the age of 18 are married. The legislation would also require the president to develop programs that expand and replicate successful community-based programs to prevent the incidence of child marriage, and to establish pilot programs to prevent child marriage and share evaluations of successful programs.
Finally, the bill would require the State Department to include a description of child marriage in its annual Human Rights Report in countries where child marriage is prevalent at rates that are at or above 40 percent in at least one region.
The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that 60 million girls in developing countries between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before they reached the age of 18. Experts estimate that the number will increase by 100 million over the next decade if current trends continue. Child marriage is often carried out through force or coercion. In some countries, it is not uncommon for girls as young as seven or eight years old to be married. Marriage at an early age puts girls at greater risk of dying as a result of childbirth. Pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death for women 15 to 19 years old in developing countries.
Some Members may be concerned that Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen sought changes in the text of S. 987, but, those were not accepted by the Democrat Majority. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has introduced those provisions as a stand-alone bill. CBO estimates that the Ros-Lehtinen bill (H.R. 6521) would cost no more than $1 million in outlays over five years, while S. 987, as passed by the Senate, would cost an estimated $67 Million in outlays over five years. H.R. 6521, while removing the language in S. 987 that would create the $67 million in costs, would nevertheless provide for: (a) Sense of the Congress statements that child marriage is a violation of human rights and that its prevention should be a goal of US foreign policy; (b) a requirement for a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage in developing countries; (c) a requirement for a subsequent report on the strategy, including an assessment of current US efforts to prevent child marriage; and (d) inclusion of reporting on practices of child marriage in annual Human Rights reports and reports by the Secretary of State on countries that are proposed recipients of US security assistance.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would cost $67 million over five years, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts