Less than six months into his first term in Congress, Congressman Mike Johnson has succeeded in passing a piece of legislation on the House Floor. A rising star on the House Judiciary Committee, Johnson carried The Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act (H.R. 1761) to passage. The bill stitched up a loophole in child pornography laws, which will make it easier to prosecute these heinous offenders in the future. The bill passed the entire House on Thursday, May 25 with bipartisan support: 368-51.
“The Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act is just that – a common sense approach to better protect children from depraved sexual predators,” said Rep. Johnson, in a released statement regarding the passage of the bill. “Those who sexually abuse defenseless children deserve the full measure of punishment by our justice system, and no loophole should be available to avoid that punishment.”
As a State Representative in the Louisiana Legislature, before ascending to Congress, Mike Johnson was known for his focus on family issues. He wrote controversial legislation protecting wedding vendors from prosecution for not being willing, for moral convictions, to participate in gay weddings. His exchanges with Rep. Barbara Norton, over the Pledge of Allegiance, will forever live on in Capitol folklore.
A court ruling, by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, gave impetus to Johnson’s Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act. In the case, United States v. Palomino-Coronado, the defendant confessed to sexually abusing a child and photographing the criminal act, but escaped federal conviction because he was said to have lacked “specific intent” to take the photo. Congressman Johnson’s legislation seeks to close this dangerous loophole.
The legislation was given its blessing by the National Fraternal Order of Police. Democrat Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (TX) attempted to amend the bill on the house floor to ensure minors are not punished as sex offenders. Lee’s amendment was voted down 238-180.
Louisiana’s lone Democrat, Rep. Cedric Richmond (LA-02), was the only member of the Louisiana delegation to vote against the bill.