Sen. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalOvernight Finance: Trump adviser softens tone on NAFTA | Funding bill to be released Tuesday | GOP leader won't back Trump tariff plan Trump gets chance to remake the courts Wrestling mogul McMahon could slam her way into Trump administration MORE (D-Conn.), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would help improve the treatment of third-country workers who are lured to work in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be defrauded or enslaved.
"Modern-day slavery by government contractors — unknowingly funded by American taxpayers — is unconscionable and intolerable," Blumenthal said. "Current law prohibiting human trafficking is insufficient and ineffective, failing to prevent or punish abuses.
A co-sponsor, Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioHaley to meet with senators during Washington trip Senate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Juan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama MORE (R-Fla.), said it is unacceptable that these abuses are often supported by U.S. taxpayer dollars.
"This bill will help crack down on this dehumanizing practice, particularly in government contracting labor operations, and I am proud to support it as one more step we can do to punish human-rights abuses," Rubio said.
Under the bill, contractors with contracts worth $1 million or more would have to implement plans to prevent all abusive practices, and would have to notify the government if they have evidence that a subcontractor is involved in prohibited conduct.
The enforcement provisions of the bill would allow for criminal penalties, in part by expanding current rules related to the treatment of foreign workers inside the United States to foreign workers outside the country. The bill would also allow the government to remove certain employees or suspend contractors when violations are found.
Blumenthal's bill, S. 2234, is also co-sponsored by Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsMedicare looms over Trump-Ryan alliance Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Cornyn: ‘Virtual certainty’ Sessions and Price will be confirmed MORE (R-Maine), Al FrankenAl FrankenDems press Trump to keep Obama overtime rule GOP wants to move fast on Sessions Overnight Cybersecurity: Lawmakers pushing for vote to delay warrant rule changes MORE (D-Minn.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillOvernight Defense: Funding bill would ease Trump Defense pick's confirmation | Obama delivers final security speech Congress wants hearing on Pentagon wasteful spending charges A Cabinet position for Petraeus; disciplinary actions for Broadwell after affair MORE (D-Mo.) and Rob PortmanRob PortmanGOP debates going big on tax reform Who is Tim Ryan? A closer look at Pelosi’s challenger Battle for the Senate: Top of ticket dominates MORE (R-Ohio).
The House companion bill, H.R. 4259, was sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), and is co-sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Reps. Gerry ConnollyGerry ConnollyOvernight Cybersecurity: Fed agency IT report cards | Senate Dems push for briefing on Russia hacks Watchdog finds improvement in federal agencies' IT Congress rips DC Metro over falsified reports that led to July train derailment MORE (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.).
Issa's committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., with Blumenthal and Portman expected to testify on the bill at that time.