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Graham, Durbin, House Leaders Applaud Bipartisan Bill to Support Missing and Exploited Children Becoming Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today applauded the signing of Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2023 into law by President Biden. The bill renews funding for the Missing Children’s Assistance Act (MCAA) through Fiscal Year 2028 and updates the statute concerning the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

“NCMEC is one of the most important organizations we have to protect children. I’m glad this bipartisan legislation to keep NCMEC’s programs up and running has been signed into law,” said Graham.

“The horrors of the Internet are every parent’s worst nightmare. From the beginning of this Congress, Senator Graham and I have been on a mission in the Senate Judiciary Committee to raise awareness of the harms caused by Big Tech to our kids, pass legislation to hold Big Tech accountable for its failures, and bolster programs that support victims and their families. I’m immensely grateful for NCMEC and its work as an invaluable lifeline – to the tune of 100,000 CyberTips per day concerning child sexual exploitation – and I’m glad these programs will be stronger for years to come,” said Durbin.

Historically, this legislation has been sponsored by the Ranking Member and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate passed Graham and Durbin’s legislation by unanimous vote on July 28, 2023. The House passed an amended version of the legislation on April 9, 2024, where it was championed by U.S. Representatives Aaron Bean (R-FL-04), Joe Courtney (D-CT-02), Virginia Foxx (R-NC-05), and Bobby Scott (D-VA-03). The Senate passed the House version on June 5.

“As a father of three, I cannot imagine the pain of a missing or exploited child. Reauthorizing the MCAA gives hope and encouragement to loved ones during a time of immense heartbreak and uncertainty. Time is a critical factor in the search effort, and this bill will modernize the reporting system, so law enforcement can quickly find missing children and bring closure to countless families. Today is an important step in the fight to prevent child victimization, sexual exploitation, and abductions, and I am proud to see our bill signed into law,” said Bean.

“In a narrowly divided Congress, it is very encouraging to see enactment of the bipartisan Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act, which I have co-led in the House alongside my Republican colleague Congressman Bean. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has provided critical lifesaving help for families, law enforcement, and child protection agencies that have to be maintained. With President Biden’s signature, we are ensuring the Center has the latest, up-to-date resources it needs to continue protecting children and supporting families, which is particularly important today as more children are falling victim to predatory online practices,” said Courtney.

“One of the longstanding priorities of our nation is to protect the most vulnerable children – it is an issue that transcends politics, and one that Americans wholeheartedly support. With the bipartisan Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act having been signed into law, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can continue its work serving as a national force for the common good. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their efforts in supporting this legislation, and for their commitment to giving the most vulnerable children a fighting chance,” said Foxx.

“Every child deserves a safe, loving home. And when a child goes missing or suffers abuse, families experience unimaginable pain and horror. And for children, the trauma is much worse. Many survivors of exploitation or abuse suffer physical and mental harm that can impact them for years. Members on both sides of the aisle have long agreed the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is essential to protecting and supporting exploited children, as well as restoring hope for parents and loved ones. The Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act will renew the authorization for NCMEC’s grant program and ensure that NCMEC has the necessary tools to protect America’s most vulnerable children. I am grateful to my colleagues, Representatives Courtney and Bean, for their leadership on this important issue,” said Scott.

Background on NCMEC:

NCMEC, which receives funding through the MCAA, describes itself as “a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent child victimization.” NCMEC works with “families, victims, private industry, law enforcement, and the public to assist with preventing child abductions, recovering missing children, and providing services to deter and combat child sexual exploitation.” Among its many programs, NCMEC operates:

  • A national 24-hour toll-free hotline for individuals to report information regarding the location of any missing child;
  • The CyberTipline, the nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children, which is used by both individuals and online providers (who are required to submit reports of suspected child sexual abuse material (CSAM) offenses); and
  • The Child Victim Identification Program, the nation’s clearinghouse on identified child victims of CSAM, which is used to identify and locate children depicted in CSAM.

In 2013, NCMEC received approximately 1,380 CyberTips per day. By 2023—just 10 years later—the number of CyberTips had risen to 100,000 reports per day.

In addition to reauthorizing NCMEC’s grant, the legislation makes minor revisions to its authorization. Specifically, the Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2023 would:

  • Authorize $49,300,000 per year for FY24 – FY28 for missing and exploited children’s programs, of which $41.5 million would go to NCMEC; 
  • Expand NCMEC’s ability to provide support services to families with children who have been missing or exploited;
  • Permit NCMEC to provide technical assistance on background checks for individuals working with children;
  • Require the reporting of information about children reported missing from State-sponsored care; and,
  • Codify a program currently being run by NCMEC to facilitate requests to providers to remove CSAM.