The 100th session of the U.S. Congress came to a close last month amid a flurry of last-minute activity. While several important pieces of legislation were passed, many key issues were left to the next session of Congress, which will convene in January.
The last order of business for this session was enactment of a $2.8 billion Omnibus Drug Bill, which authorizes new education, treatment, and rehabilitation efforts and puts into place tough new penalties for drug users and traffickers. Included in the package is the death penalty for drug traffickers who kill civilians or law enforcement officers. A move by Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Oreg.) to substitute a mandatory life prison sentence for the death penalty was overwhelmingly voted down.
Due to eleventh-hour lobbying efforts by conservative profamily activists, the drug bill also includes stiff anti-child pornography and obscenity provisions. The provisions were originally part of the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act introduced in 1987. That bill became stalled in the committee process, but in a last-ditch maneuver, Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) proposed that the entire act be attached as an amendment to the drug bill.
The obscenity provisions of the act generated strong opposition by the Democratic House leadership. However, a compromise settlement kept many of the provisions—including a ban on the buying or selling of minors to produce child pornography—and a measure against the use of computers for network trafficking of child pornography. Also, the bill expands federal power to prosecute traffickers of child pornography, to confiscate child pornography and the profits of its sale, and to restrict the production and distribution ...1
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