NEWS: US Bill Would Help Curb Child Porn

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Subject: NEWS: US Bill Would Help Curb Child Porn
From: Jyothi Kanics (
Date: Thu May 27 1999 - 23:11:38 EDT

Wednesday May 19 2:32 AM ET

Bill Would Help Curb Child Porn

               By JIM ABRAMS Associated Press Writer

               WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Customs Service would get more
money to
fight illicit drugs and Internet child pornography under a bill approved by
a House panel.

The legislation would authorize more than $2.4 billion in 2000 and 2001 for
the operations of
Customs and two other trade agencies, with the emphasis on more people and
better equipment to
detect drug trafficking. The funding level for the two years is $400
million above what the
administration requested.

The bill would set aside $311 million over two years for 1,745 new Customs
officers along the
borders and at major drug and money-laundering locations.

Customs' Child Pornography/Child Sexual Exploitation Program would see its
budget increased
from $2.4 million to $10 million, allowing it to increase its staff by 50
from the current 26.

The boost is needed, said Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., chief sponsor of the
money, because the Internet ``is quickly becoming the No. 1 choice of
pedophiles as a means of
preying upon children.''

The 2-year-old Customs program, which led to 228 arrests last year,
concentrates on international
Internet sex predators and traffic in child pornography. It turns over to
the FBI domestic cases that it

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there
are 10,000 Web sites
maintained by pedophiles.

The House Ways and Means trade subcommittee approved the bill by a 9-6 vote
Tuesday, with
Democrats voting against it because they objected to provisions that would
change the overtime and
night differential rules for Customs officers. The National Treasury
Employees Union also strongly
opposes the changes.

Labor issues were also a major issue last year when a similar bill passed
the House by a large margin
but was never taken up by the Senate. This year the Republican leadership
took out controversial
provisions altering collective bargaining and duty rotation policies, but
kept in the overtime changes,
saying they are needed to bring Customs employees in line with other
federal workers.

NTEU President Robert Tobias said it was ``counterproductive to penalize
the very people'' who
were being asked to take on the job of keeping drugs off the streets.

But Rep. Philip Crane, R-Ill., criticized the Democrats on the panel for
voting against the legislation
because of the labor issue.

``Protecting our children and their families from the scourges of drugs and
child pornography should
not be a decision based on union strong-arming,'' he said.


The bill is H.R. 1833

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