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July 14, 1998

H.R. 3682 - Child Custody Protection Act
(Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R) FL and 136 others)

The Administration strongly opposes enactment of H.R. 3682 in its current form. If a bill is presented to the President that fails to address the concerns that are described below, the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto it.

As stated in recent letters from White House Chief-of-Staff Erskine Bowles to the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary, the Administration would support properly crafted legislation that would make it illegal to transport minors across state lines for the purpose of avoiding parental involvement requirements. Unfortunately, H.R. 3682, as reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary, fails to address a number of the critical concerns raised by the Administration. Specifically, the bill must be amended to:

  • Exclude close family members from criminal and civil liability. Under the legislation, grandmothers, aunts, and minor and adult siblings could face criminal prosecution for coming to the aid of a relative in distress.

  • Ensure that persons who only provide information, counseling, referral, or medical services to the minor cannot be subject to liability.

  • Address constitutional and other legal infirmities that the Department of Justice has identified in particular provisions of the legislation. These concerns were transmitted to the House Committee on the Judiciary on June 24, 1998.

The Administration is concerned that H.R. 3682 raises important federalism issues, including the rights of States to regulate matters within their own boundaries. The Administration believes, however, that legislation that addresses the concerns noted above, and that is carefully targeted at punishing non-relatives who transport minors across State lines for the purpose of avoiding parental involvement requirements, would mitigate the federalism and the Administration's other concerns.

Pay-As-You-Go Scoring

H.R. 3682 could affect both direct spending and receipts; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. OMB's preliminary scoring estimate of this bill is zero.