WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) introduced the bipartisan Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, along with Representatives Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ed Royce (R-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Ted Poe (R-TX), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Martha Roby (R-AL), and Lynn Jenkins (R-KS). This legislation would lift barriers that have prevented the Federal Government, States, and victims of sex trafficking from pursuing justice against America’s modern-day slave markets.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 has been wrongly interpreted to shield websites that participate in sex trafficking from any criminal liability. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has said that it is Congress’ role to clarify the intersection between Section 230 and sex trafficking laws. This legislation would provide that urgently needed clarification while safeguarding the freedom of the Internet.
As the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found in Backpage.com, LLC, vs. Loretta Lynch in 2016, “there is no doubt” that online advertisements that promote sex trafficking are “not afforded First Amendment protection.” This legislation would make clear that Congress never intended Section 230 to create a lawless internet where bad actors can engage in criminal activity online that they cannot engage in offline. This is already obvious to our State authorities: In 2013, 47 State Attorneys General called on Congress to amend the CDA to restore jurisdiction to State authorities who are tasked with protecting America’s children.
The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 would:
1) Amend Section 230 to allow State authorities to investigate and prosecute websites that facilitate sex trafficking using State criminal statutes that prohibit sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of children.
2) Amend Section 230 to allow victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children to exercise civil remedies, such as the private right of action available to sex trafficking victims in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
3) Amend 18 U.S.C. § 1591, the sex trafficking statute, to define “participation in a venture” in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit’s 2016 decision in Jane Doe vs. Backpage.com, LLC.
4) Amend 18 U.S.C. § 1591 to clarify that it is unlawful for a provider of an interactive computer service to publish information provided by an information content provider, with reckless disregard that the information is in furtherance of a sex trafficking offense.
“I am honored to introduce this legislation on behalf of the countless children, women and men who have been sold into modern slavery and robbed of their dignity. Sex trafficking has no place in a just society, and bad actors who run these websites are criminals who belong in prison,” said Congresswoman Wagner. “Congress never intended for Section 230 to give a free pass to the retailers of America’s children, and we must address the judicial interpretation of the law and provide a voice for the most vulnerable in our society. This legislation gives U.S. law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and victims the tools they need to help dismantle the human trafficking trade in the United States.”
“I am proud to join Congresswoman Ann Wagner in continuing our bipartisan effort to end the scourge of human trafficking. It is unbelievable that in 2017, web developers, digital advertisers and other companies are allowed to sidestep federal and state human trafficking laws and avoid prosecution because of legal ambiguity,” said Congresswoman Beatty. “The Allow State and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 will strengthen and clarify current law, ensuring justice for more victims and holding accountable both the trafficker and those who facilitate sex trafficking. I look forwarding to working with my colleagues to get this important piece of legislation passed and signed into law by the President.”
"Let's be clear: human trafficking is modern day slavery, and it is time for elected officials and each American to do everything in our power to end it,” said Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. “Halting the sex trade on the web is one important component of this fight, and I urge Congress to act swiftly to empower law enforcement to prosecute websites that are deliberately promoting and profiting from trafficking in persons. I strongly support the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act because it would do just that, removing unnecessary federal barriers to law enforcement action, while providing important safeguards for constitutionally protected free speech. Our state knows firsthand the tragedies of human trafficking, and this legislation is one of many steps necessary to stop this appalling epidemic."
The following organizations support the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017:
National District Attorneys Association; National Association of Police Organizations; Major Cities Chiefs Association; Fraternal Order of Police; National Organization for Victim Assistance; National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE); WIFLE Foundation Inc. (Women in Federal Law Enforcement); Shared Hope; DeliverFund; FAIR Girls; Missouri Police Chiefs Association; Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley; Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; St. Louis Police Officers Association; Airline Ambassadors International; Courtney’s House; The Covering House; Missouri KidsFirst; Missouri Juvenile Justice Association; Faith & Freedom Coalition; Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention; Focus on the Family; Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation-CATE; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Faith & Action in the Nation’s Capital; Cornerstones of Care; Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police; Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM); Crisis Aid International; Ambassador Swanee Hunt; Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW); Concerned Women for America; National Organization for Women; NEST Foundation; Skagit County Coalition Against Trafficking; Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Eastern NC Stop Human Trafficking Now; Foundation for a Slavery Free World; Church of Scientology; She is Rising; Exodus Cry; Innocents at Risk; Saving Innocence; Artists for Human Rights; Enough is Enough; Redeeming Joy; and National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
Click here for letters and quotes in support of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017.
WASHINGTON –Today, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) held the first Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing of the 115th Congress. The hearing, “The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s Unconstitutional Design,” examined whether the structure of the CFPB violates the Constitution as well as the structural changes needed to resolve any constitutional vulnerabilities.
"Created under the Obama-era, 'Washington knows best' mindset, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is an unconstitutional behemoth that side-steps accountability to Congress and the President,” said Chairman Wagner following the hearing. “With an imperial Director, the CFPB continually expands and overreaches its regulatory authority at the expense of American families who are desperate for economic relief. It is time we hold Director Cordray responsible and restructure the CFPB within the framework of our Constitution."
Congresswoman Wagner’s Opening Statement, as prepared:
For the past eight years, the American people under the Obama Administration have grown complacent with the unchecked power emanating from Washington and its complete disregard for the Constitution. From health care to energy to financial services, Washington has worked to plan every aspect of your life and decide what’s best for you. Now more than ever, we have a new obligation to examine the checks and balances of our federal government and ensure that our Constitution is reflected by it. It’s time to bring accountability back to Washington for “We the People.”
Nothing embodies the “Washington knows best” mindset more than the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by removing choices and making access to financial products more difficult under the guise of consumer protection. Since the creation of the CFPB, we have seen regulations that make it more difficult for consumers to qualify for a mortgage, obtain an auto loan, and access forms of credit.
The super independence of the Bureau has demonstrated how a lack of checks and balances can lead to abuse. In the majority opinion of a case last October, a federal judge ruled that “the director of the CFPB is the single most powerful official in the entire US government, other than the President.” As a result of a lack of safeguards, we have seen examples of widespread discrimination within the CFPB itself under Director Cordray’s leadership, to which this committee has held five hearings on itself.
Additionally, without the ability of Congress and the Executive to carry out proper oversight, the CFPB has become confident in its cloak of unaccountability by pursuing policy and regulating entities outside of its authorized scope to the detriment of consumers.
Without proper checks and balances, the natural tendency of government is always to continue expanding its power and reach, and the CFPB has been a perfect example.
The CFPB is unaccountable to Congress in that it does not rely upon Congress for funding, instead taking its funding stream from the Federal Reserve to be allotted by the CFPB Director with no review by Congress. As a result, the CFPB has grown comfortable in repeatedly ignoring oversight requests made by this committee, including for subpoenaed records.
Additionally, the CFPB is unaccountable to the President as well by being headed by a single Director who can only be removed “for cause” rather than “at will.” The Constitution vests the executive power in an elected “President of the United States of America” and not in various unelected agency and bureau heads.
Lastly, the CFPB is unaccountable to the judiciary, as Dodd-Frank mandated that courts give extra deference to the CFPB’s statutory interpretations, even if they are not granted exclusive interpretive authority. In this way, the CFPB can reinterpret consumer laws that are already on the books with established case law and have been regulated by other agencies for years.
Today, we will be examining the unconstitutional structure of the CFPB and how it has yielded unaccountability to Congress and the executive branch. Additionally, we will look at ways that the CFPB can be restructured in order to make the bureau constitutional, as well as more accountable to Congress and the Executive. Finally, we will be looking at what authority the President currently has to remove the CFPB Director, even before the resolution of ongoing litigation.
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) released the below statement following the U.S. House passage of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which includes funding for 14 new F/A 18 Super Hornet jets:
“I am pleased that the House took this important step in securing funding for 14 additional Super Hornet jets, which are critical to ensuring our national security while also protecting vital jobs in St. Louis and across Missouri. At the request of the Navy, I have fought hard every year I have been in Congress to secure funding for these war fighters and strengthen our national defense capabilities. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”Read More
WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) today announced that Elizabeth Snyder, widow of fallen St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder, and her brother, Justin Sparks, a fellow St. Louis County Police Officer, will be their guests to President Donald J. Trump’s first Joint Session Address to Congress on Tuesday.
“Officer Snyder gave his life while serving and protecting our communities,” said Congressman Davis. “We owe a great deal of gratitude to all of our police officers and their families who provide an invaluable support system to our first responders. I’m honored to have Elizabeth and Justin as our guests to next week’s address to share their stories and advocate on behalf of our law enforcement. In today’s environment, bridging the gap that has formed in some communities between police officers and those they serve can be incredibly challenging but it starts by understanding the human faces behind the badges. This is certainly one of our goals of honoring the life of Officer Snyder and his family who has dedicated their lives to public service.”
“Officer Snyder was a true hero who selflessly put his own life on the line to protect our families, while leaving behind his own. It is an honor to host Elizabeth and Justin in Washington for this historic event, as their strength, conviction and unwavering support for our first responders is nothing short of heroic,” said Congresswoman Wagner. “It is because of stories like theirs—positivity in the wake of tragedy—that will help close the divide between our communities and law enforcement. I am grateful for Elizabeth’s and Justin’s commitment to public service as we move forward as a nation under the leadership of President Trump.”
The Joint Session is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at 9 p.m. EST.
Officer Blake Snyder’s Story
33-year-old St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder of Edwardsville, Ill, was tragically killed in the line of duty on October 6, 2016. He was responding to a disturbance call around 5 a.m. when he was shot and killed at point blank. Officer Snyder was the 97th law enforcement officer killed in the United States in 2016.
Law enforcement leaders from across the region praised Officer Snyder and remembered him as a dedicated public servant. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said he was a “tremendous police officer,” and former St. Louis County Police Chief Ron Battelle said he was highly regarded by his fellow officers and command staff.
Officer Snyder leaves behind his wife Elizabeth Snyder and their two-year-old son Malachi. His career in law enforcement was inspired by his late father-in-law, who also served as police officer, and brother-in-law, Justin Sparks, a fellow St. Louis County Police Officer who delivered the eulogy at Officer Snyder’s funeral.Read More
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) released the below statement after President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to delay the implementation of the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule:
“Today is a great day for low- and middle-income American families. I applaud President Trump’s executive order to delay the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule, listening to the concerns of everyday Americans and protecting their ability to access retirement investment advice. This delay will allow the Administration to potentially repeal the rule entirely, and within this time, I will continue working toward a permanent, legislative solution in Congress to help preserve investment choice, access and affordability while ensuring all families are receiving investment advice that is truly in their best interest.”
NOTE: Congresswoman Wagner was in attendance as President Trump signed the Executive Order in the Oval Office.
WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) announced that Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) will join the House Foreign Affairs Committee for the 115th Congress. The Committee considers legislation that concerns the relations of the United States with foreign nations, and legislation that impacts the diplomatic community, which includes the Department of State, the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United Nations, and the enforcement of the Arms Export Control Act.
“I am thrilled to add my voice and experience to the Foreign Affairs Committee during this Congress as we confront the damage caused by eight years of failed Obama foreign policy. I am eager to work with my colleagues to rejuvenate American global leadership, fortify our alliances, and construct a credible political and security architecture that will deter aggression and promote U.S. values and interests,” said Congresswoman Wagner. “The Obama Administration operated under the mistaken presumption that American timidity and compromise were prerequisites for international order. It proved time and again that this was not the case. My Committee work will be founded on the principle that it is in fact through American strength that the world becomes safer and more stable."
“Congresswoman Wagner’s previous experience as a U.S. Ambassador, in addition to her work in Congress to combat some of the toughest issues facing our nation, proves she will be an asset to our Committee as we work to ensure strong diplomatic ties across the globe,” added Chairman Royce.
Congresswoman Wagner’s role on the Foreign Affairs Committee will be in addition to her position as Chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which was announced last week.
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House passed the bipartisan SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, H.R. 78, sponsored by Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) with a 243-184 vote. After the bill’s passage, Congresswoman Wagner released the following statement:
“Whether it is buying a car or choosing a college savings plan, every American family weighs the pros and cons before making major life decisions. The SEC Regulatory Accountability Act simply requires that the Commission engages in the same process and can justify that the benefits of a proposed regulation will outweigh its costs.
“Something our regulators should already be doing, this common-sense legislation will help drain the swamp that Washington bureaucrats have built over the past eight years, while better protecting American families from top-down, one-size-fits-all regulations that cost nearly $15,000 for every household.”
Background on the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act:
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), along with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), today introduced the bipartisan Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, which would allow victims of human trafficking to petition courts to have their criminal records cleared. This bill would apply to non-violent crimes committed by individuals as a direct result of human trafficking, and would allow for judicial discretion.
Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery affecting millions in the United States and abroad. This crime involves either the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for labor or commercial sex, or the exploitation of a minor for commercial sex. As a result of being trafficked, victims are commonly charged with crimes such as conspiracy, prostitution, money laundering, drug trafficking, and related offenses that then follow them throughout the duration of their lives. These charges make it difficult for human trafficking victims to find jobs and housing, leaving them vulnerable to being exploited and trafficked again.
“We have a moral obligation to protect survivors of trafficking who were arrested or convicted for offenses that they were forced to commit,” said Congresswoman Ann Wagner. “No victims of trafficking should be criminalized for the horrific exploitation they have endured. I am proud that through the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, we are giving survivors a fresh start and an opportunity to recover from trauma, social stigma, and discrimination.”
“Tens of thousands of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking each year. Too often, they are charged as criminals, thrown in prison, and shackled with a criminal record the rest of their lives instead of being free to get the care and assistance they need. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act will empower human trafficking victims to escape the chains of their past and move forward with their lives,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
“Holding victims of human trafficking accountable for illegal acts committed while being victimized is unfair and diminishes their ability to find work, receive an education, and secure safe housing,” said Congressman Sensenbrenner. “These victims deserve a fresh start and a fair shot at rebuilding their lives, and the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would help them do just that.”
Additional original co-sponsors of the legislation include Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA), Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Rep. Ron DeSantis (R- FL), Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA), Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Rep. David Young (R-IA), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and Ryan Costello (R-PA).
The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would require survivors to provide supporting documentation in order to get their non-violent criminal records vacated. These documents can include the following:
WASHINGTON – Today, Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) announced that Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) will lead the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in the 115th Congress.
“I am grateful for Chairman Hensarling's trust in me to lead the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee,” said Congresswoman Wagner. “The Obama years have seen a rise of imperial Washington, D.C., with the crushing weight of regulations harming small businesses and families from the coasts to the heartland. Over the next several months and years, we will expose the damage the old administration caused to our national economy while detailing what the new and hopeful administration will do to restore the American family."
"Congresswoman Wagner is a dedicated, principled member of our Conference and has a proven track record of success as a member of this Committee,” added Chairman Hensarling. “Her determination to end burdensome regulations forced on American families and ability to shed light on unaccountable federal agencies like the CFPB will be an asset to our Committee leadership team."
In this role, Congresswoman Wagner will provide oversight of several federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Export-Import Bank.
For Immediate Release
Contact: (202) 225-1621
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution:
“Working with President-elect Trump, the House today passed a Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution, which will fund our national defense, disaster relief, and the 21st Century Cures Act, among other critical investments, through April. I am looking forward to working with a Republican-led Senate and Trump Administration next year to ensure our conservative spending priorities are enacted through the remainder of the fiscal year, while removing government intrusion and providing American families with better opportunities for success.”
435 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Ann Wagner’s career is both deep and broad in service to her hometown, state and nation with over 25 years of work in the private sector, community and public service, and the political arena.
The 2nd District means family for Ann. It is where she and her husband of twenty-five years, Ray, grew up, went to school, raised their children, work, volunteer and go to church. This community has given her extraordinary opportunities to make a difference.
At an early age, Ann started working in the family business, a retail carpet store called Carpetime in Manchester. Working beside her parents she learned the value of a dollar, a strong work ethic, honesty, integrity, and that government ought not be in the way and on the backs of hard-working Americans trying to make a living.
Ann then took her firsthand experience to the University of Missouri-Columbia and received her BSBA from the Business School with an emphasis in Logistics. After college, Ann went to work in the private sector and held management positions at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City and Ralston Purina in St. Louis.
Ann’s most important jobs, however, have always been as a wife and mother. Ann and Ray have three children: Raymond, a recent West Point graduate stationed at Fort Campbell with the 101st Airborne; Stephen, a Client Services Manager for a St. Louis area financial management company; and Mary Ruth, a freshmen at Miami University in Ohio.
Ann Wagner’s public service began at the grassroots level. She served for nine years as a local committeewoman in Lafayette Township and went on to Chair the Missouri Republican Party delivering historic Republican gains. She also served as Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee during the first term of President George W. Bush.
In 2005, following nomination by President Bush and confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Ann was sworn in as the 19th U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She served as U.S. Ambassador for four years before returning to her home in Ballwin, Missouri.
In 2010, Ann was asked to serve as the Chairman of Roy Blunt’s successful U.S. Senate campaign in Missouri. Bringing her high energy and political skills to the campaign, Ann helped unite existing and new conservative grassroots activists to produce a landslide victory.
Ann announced her first run for public office on April 26, 2011 and has attended hundreds of events including forums, debates, picnics, meetings and rallies. Her signature grassroots “Table Tops” have been a listening and learning tour in homes all across the district. Her strong connection to her community has helped Ann recruit hundreds of volunteers from every corner of the 2nd Congressional District.
Ann won her 2012 Congressional race with over 60% of the vote and received more votes than any other Republican candidate for Congress in the State of Missouri this cycle.
Ann will serve on the House Financial Services Committee – a key committee for the 2nd District and St. Louis region. St. Louis and its suburbs are national and regional centers for financial services activity. Over 84,000 people in St. Louis and its suburbs are employed in the financial services industry with a total payroll of around $4.57 billion.
The St. Louis area is also home to national investment firms including Edward Jones, Scottrade, Stifel Financial and Wells Fargo Advisors, to name a few, making it one of the largest clusters of brokerage firms and personnel outside of New York.
Ann was also selected by the Freshman Class of the 113th Congress to be their representative on the Elected Leadership Committee.
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