Rep. Rodney Davis (R-13) held office hours this morning at his Springfield office. These meetings allow him to meet with constituents directly and talk about the issues that are most important to them. Often, this involves helping them navigate the federal bureaucracy. All too often, veterans have to contact him just to get the VA’s medical system to move forward.
While Davis is always happy to help, he expressed his frustration with the VA. “We’ve passed law after law to try to make the Veterans’ Healthcare Administration more accountable.” But veterans still aren’t getting connected to services like they should. Davis continued, “When they come to me, they’ve already tried their best to get answers out of the bureaucracy… No veteran should have to call their congressman to get a doctor’s appointment; because you and your viewers don’t call me to get a doctor’s appointment at any other facility in our medical community.”
Davis also spoke about the recent legislation to help combat sex trafficking on the internet. The House recently passed a measure which would hold websites like Backpage accountable for facilitating sex trafficking on their platforms. This was an important first step, and one which targets the consumers of trafficking. Going forward, Davis stressed the need for education about trafficking, especially learning how to identify potential victims. Tattoos and other branding marks are often telltale signs someone may be a victim.
Davis also gave us an early look at a new bill to help with the opioid crisis. This bill would force pharmacies to keep a record of individuals who pick up opioid prescriptions for other people. By keeping this record, abuses of the pharmacy system can be identified. Davis drew a parallel to the measures to restrict Sudafed, which was a key measure to combat the methamphetamine crisis.
You can watch his full remarks below:
More Toys “R” Us Closures Expected
Retail giant Toys “R” Us is expected to close many of its locations as early as next week. The struggling business has had trouble competing with big-box stores including Walmart, as well as with online sales from websites such as Amazon. Another hurdle for them has been declining demand for traditional toys as more children plug into electronics.
Founded in 1948, Toys “R” Us grew in popularity, eventually opening up locations in several countries and starting the offshoots, Babies “R” Us and Kids “R” Us. Toys “R” Us accounts for a large part of U.S. toy sales — 15-20% last year, according to Jefferies analyst, Stephanie Wissink. She predicts that business will not shift entirely to other sources and that total sales could decline by as much as 15%.
Investors noticed and reacted negatively. The stock prices of two large toy manufacturers, Hasbro and Mattel, fell on Friday.
The upcoming closures were not unforeseeable. Toys “R” Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2017.
The exact number of closures is still unknown, but it could be more than 200.
House votes to fight online sex trafficking
The internet has made it much easier for businesses to reach their customers. While this has been a tremendous boon for legitimate businesses, it has also been beneficial to criminals. This includes sex traffickers. It is easy to think sex trafficking online only happens on the elusive “dark web,” and is difficult to track. But a large amount of trafficking also happens in plain sight on otherwise mundane websites like Backpage.com .
What was happening?
Websites like Backpage are marketplaces where people can post items or services for sale. The simplicity of placing ads on these services made them idea for selling both legitimate services, as well as illegal ones. Backpage had a very hands-off approach to monitoring what was being sold. This allowed human trafficking to flourish.
However, although the websites were the forum in which the ads were being placed, the sites were not legally responsible for what was going on. The “Communications Decency Act” made it clear that hosting companies are not responsible for what user post. In other words, websites like Backpage would only responsible if an employee actually posted the trafficking ads. If other people choose to sell illegal services on their platform, Backpage wouldn’t be responsible.
The theory behind the Decency Act was to protect the development of the internet and First Amendment rights. If websites could be held responsible for anything a third-party posts, then the risks of operating on the internet would be too high for legitimate services. Despite being sued by trafficking victims on several occasions, Backpage has avoided liability based on the Decency Act.
Why the change?
Legally, Backpage was correct that they were not legally responsible for what criminals posted on the website. However, several investigations and the growing number of victims made it clear to lawmakers that Backpage was aware that their service was being used for sex trafficking, but was not doing very much about it.
In response, the House passed the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (FOSTA). FOSTA states that the goal of the Decency Act was not to protect websites that “unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and contribute to sex trafficking.” The goal is to force websites like Backpage to take a more active role in preventing sex trafficking by weakening their main legal defense. Ideally, this will cut the sex trafficking industry off from some of its main marketplaces.
FOSTA is also known as H.R. 1865. It passed the House 388 to 25. Both Rodney Davis (R-13) and Darin LaHood (R-18) voted in favor of the bill. FOSTA will now move to the Senate. You can learn more about the bill here.
Illinois’ congressional delegations split on significance of FISA abuse memo
Illinois’ congressional delegation is split along party lines on whether the controversial memo released Friday exposes inherent bias in the FBI against the Trump administration or if it’s meant to undermine law enforcement investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The Republican-crafted memo was released Friday after it got the green light to be declassified from the White House. It alleges leadership at the FBI and the Department of Justice under the Obama administration signed off on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications to spy on the Trump campaign without disclosing that the underlying evidence was unsubstantiated opposition research funded by Democrats.
A “Key Points” document released alongside the memo says, “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the [Democratic National Committee], Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding [Christopher] Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.”
Steele is a former British intelligence officer who was hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia.
The “Key Points” documents also says “Former FBI Deputy Director [Andrew] McCabe confirmed that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) without the Steele dossier information.”
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, said the release of the Republican memo was egregious, toxic, and an attack on special investigator Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Trump.
The memo was written by staffers of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence with access to tens of thousands of pages of classified intelligence.
Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, told WMAY Springfield he hopes the GOP memo release is just the beginning.
“I would love for the underlying intelligence to come out,” Davis said. “I would love for it to be scrubbed for top secret material. I frankly hope that the Democrat memo gets put out there because I think the American people need to see it all.”
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week was unanimous in supporting release of the Democrats’ memo for review by the entire House. But Republicans wanted time to digest the 10-page memo that U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said has up to 36 footnotes, “and some of the details there could be described as harming national interests.”
“I think we need time to absorb their 10-page memo before we release it to the full public,” Conaway said in transcripts of the committee meeting released alongside the Republican memo.
Following a campaign stop for Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker in Springfield Saturday, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said the Republican memo is flimsy and he’s worried about it’s motive.
“No one, including the president, is above the law and this idea that they’re going to undermine the FBI and that basic principle is really worrisome,” Durbin said.
As someone who was caught on FBI wiretaps with imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Pritzker said he didn’t have anything to add to the national conversation, other than it was a crafted distraction from alleged Trump wrongdoing. He said Gov. Bruce Rauner is doing the same thing running ads with Pritzker on the wire taps with Blagojevich.
Article By Greg Bishop. For more Illinois News Network content, visit ILNews.org
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