WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) is back at work after a three-week treatment for early-stage breast cancer. She jumped into an aggressive legislative schedule when she returned to the Capitol on Monday.
During her sick leave, McCaskill said she saw a “real juxtaposition” between the political landscape and her immediate reality.
“There was name-calling, ugliness, hatred, and division, and I was surrounded by people who were lifting me up,” she said.
The Missouri Democrat said she received cards and letters, as well as small presents, from other cancer survivors. The messages came from around the nation.
“I was really blown away by the level of kindness and support I got during my treatment,” McCaskill said.
On Thursday morning, she and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) took on two drug firms that drastically raised the price of prescriptions which had been reasonably priced for decades. They held the second of several public hearings on what they believe are illegal monopolies. McCaskill cited one family, who is now facing prescription drug bills of $300,000 a year.
Thursday afternoon, the Senate voted to hold the online marketing firm Backpage.com in contempt. The firm’s CEO has refused to respond to Senate subpoenas. McCaskill and Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are investigating online sex trafficking by the firm. The Senate voted 96-0 in favor of asking the federal court in the District of Columbia to order Backpage.com to comply with the subpoena.
McCaskill and Portman told their fellow senators the company advertises children for sex on its website.
“We need to find out if they are, in fact, going out of their way to involve themselves in profit making at children’s expense that are being sold for sex,” McCaskill said.
She called their effort an important investigation.
“We need their testimony and now the courts are going to enforce this subpoena.”
It was the first time in more than 20 years that the Senate approved a civil contempt proceeding. The Backpage website offers warnings about human trafficking and child exploitation. It also provides links to the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
However, that center told McCaskill and Portman more than 71 percent of all child sex trafficking reports submitted by the public to the center relate to Backpage ads.
The senator said they want to find out how involved this company is in “knowingly allowing” this kind of advertising to happen.
“Once we determine that, then we will have to fashion a remedy that is respectful of the First Amendment,” she said.