Showdown Today on Dems' House Censorship

The battle against censorship by the House Democrat majority continues today as Republicans plan to speak out on the issue during their hour-long leadership Special Orders speeches tonight from the House floor. Highly-placed Republican staffers tell HUMAN EVENTS that all Republican members were invited to defend their First Amendment right to free speech tonight during one-hour Special Orders speeches, giving examples of censorship of their franking privileges by Democrats on the Franking Commission. Members were asked to bring and read aloud franking disapprovals they have received that may have violated their free speech rights.

Democrats on the commission are blocking the approval of payment for postage for correspondence to their constituents from some 20 Republican House members that includes a chart illustrating the Democrats’ government run healthcare scheme.

Sources tell HUMAN EVENTS that Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), Charles Boustany (R-La.), Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), John Culberson (R-Texas), John Fleming (R-La.), Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), Wally Herger (R-Ca.), John Kline (R-Minn.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), Pete Olson (R-Texas), Tom Price (R-Ga.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) all have correspondence to their constituents being held up by the commission.

House staff sources said that in 1993 a similar chart depicting then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s government-run healthcare scheme was approved for mailing by the Franking Commission.

“I have in my hands, the franking approval from 1993 for a similar chart on HillaryCare… Democrats approved it then… only big difference is color,” one staffer said.

The Franking Commission is comprised of three Democrats and three Republican members.

On Friday, Brady and Roskam were preparing a “Dear Colleague” letter asking all Republican members to join them in sending the chart in question in a franked mail piece. From the proposed “Dear Colleague” letter:

As you have no doubt heard by now, the “bipartisan” Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, or Franking Commission, is refusing to allow Republican Members of Congress to share vital information on health reform legislation with the families and businesses in their districts.

After rushing a 1,018 page government health care takeover bill through votes in two committees with no chance to read it, Democrat Leaders are trying to further prevent the American people from finding out just what this legislation will mean for hardworking families and businesses.

As Roll Call reported today, the Democrat staff at Franking has denied approval for mailings submitted by nearly 20 Republican Members of Congress that included a chart of the incredibly complex bureaucracy the Democratic health reform plan wedges between doctor and patient, calling it “misleading and false.”

The chart is anything but. Prepared by Brady and the Joint Economic Committee, this chart shows the massive new government intervention in personal health decisions proposed by the Democrats’ health plan.

Please join me in sending a constituent mailing on health reform that includes the Brady JEC Chart on Democratic Health Care Bureaucracy to the Franking Commission for approval today. If the Majority is going to continue to politicize our ability to educate constituents on the legislation before Congress, we need to make sure every American hears about it. Surely one of the 178 Members of the Republican Conference can craft a health reform letter that is not “misleading.”

As HUMAN EVENTS reported exclusively on Friday, House Republicans are also being barred from using the term “government run health care” in their constituent correspondence. Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), secretary of the House Republican Conference and former District Court judge, was informed via email that his communications to constituents could not include that term. Carter read from the email he received from the Franking Commission.

“What we proposed as language was as follows, ‘House Democrats unveiled a government-run health care plan,’” Carter said. “Our response from Franking was, ‘You cannot use that language.’ You must use, ‘The House majority unveiled a public option health care plan,’ which is Pelosi-speak or ‘just last week the House majority unveiled a health care plan which I believe will cost taxpayers…’”

Carter objects to the Democrat censorship as a violation of his right to free speech.

Last week, House Republicans planned to speak during their Monday leadership Special Orders hour on the refusal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to help secure the release of CIA briefing logs that would disprove or substantiate her accusations that the CIA lied to Congress in national security briefings. House Democrats blocked the ability of Republicans to speak from the House floor last Monday night by abruptly adjourning instead of allowing for the traditional Special Orders speeches at the conclusion of business.

Leadership sources say if the House adjourns tonight in an attempt to again silence Republicans from speaking from the floor, this time on Democrat censorship, the Republicans will move the Special Orders speeches outside to the front Capitol steps in protest.

Stay tuned.

Sex Trafficking of Children in the United States

Last week, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a senior member of the House Committee on International Relations, chaired a joint briefing of the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking and the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus to unveil a new report on the trafficking of our own children within our borders for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, America’s Prostituted Children assessed four components of domestic minor sex trafficking: identifying the victims; prosecuting the traffickers; combating demand; and providing protection, access to services and shelter for the victims — mostly teenage girls. Experts estimate that at least 100,000 American minor children are the victims of sex trafficking within our own borders each year.

“The United States has come far in the fight against this modern day slavery, yet there is still a lot of work to do, particularly regarding the sex trafficking of minors,” Smith said. “It is a problem all over the world and the United States is no exception. There are new victims in our country every day.”

“In addition to helping rehabilitate those brought to the US for sex trafficking purposes our shelters and programs for treatment must have the capacity to help trafficked American teens,” Smith continued. “If we do not, these teenage victims will return to the street broken, destitute, and particularly vulnerable to being re-trafficked.”

“The buyers of commercial sex must be sensitized to the harm they cause women and girls and to the fact their money fuels modern day slavery,” Smith said. “A cultural shift that recognizes the link between commercial sex and the trafficking of women and girls would starve the modern-day slaveholders. If potential buyers knew of the unspeakable lives of servitude and degradation these victims suffer, I think they would think twice before laying down their money.”