The House on Tuesday passed legislation to enhance law enforcement efforts against human trafficking.
Approval of the package of eight bills comes a day after the House passed four other measures on the issue. Most of the bills approved over the last two days passed the House in the last Congress but didn't get votes in the Senate.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates approximately 20 million people across the world are victims of human trafficking. And about 17,500 people are trafficked through the U.S. each year, according to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report.
"The sale of children for sex sounds like something that could only happen in faraway places, but tragically it is happening right here in the United States every single day," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line MORE (R-Va.) said.
Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynHouse passes bill to expedite financial disclosures from judges McConnell leaves GOP in dark on debt ceiling Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default MORE (R-Texas) said Tuesday that he'd urge consideration of the measures, so they can be sent to President Obama.
"I'm going to be asking the majority leader to schedule floor action, so we can have a debate on and a vote on this important legislation," Cornyn said on the Senate floor.
One of the measures passed by voice vote on Tuesday, H.R. 285, would establish penalties for people who knowingly sell advertisements to exploit human trafficking victims.
"Government intervention is necessary to end facilitation of sex trafficking by websites like Backpage.com and other who commercially advertise this criminal activity," said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), the bill's sponsor.
Meanwhile, H.R. 159, passed by voice vote, would encourage states to adopt "safe harbor" laws for trafficked children to seek welfare services by giving them preference in applications for Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) grants.
Three of the 12 measures would require training for employees at the State, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services departments. One bill passed by voice vote on Tuesday, H.R. 460, would require the Department of Homeland Security to implement a human trafficking awareness program for agency employees. Agencies eligible for the training program would include the Transportation Security Administration, and Customs and Border Protection.
"It is everywhere. It is a national problem," Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeNew Texas law limiting abortion takes effect Thursday Detroit voters back committee to study reparations Biden's policies have been disastrous to the US security, the economy MORE (D-Texas) said of human trafficking. "Our homeland security personnel, thank goodness, will now have the opportunity to have special training that in the capacity of their work. Their eyes and ears will be extra trained to detect those trying to move past the law."
Another bill, H.R. 350, passed by voice vote, would direct the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking to issue a report on the best strategies to prevent children from becoming human trafficking victims. And H.R. 181, passed by voice vote, would authorize the attorney general to create grants for improving deterrence programs for human trafficking of children.
Members debated two bills Monday afternoon but waited to conduct roll call votes until Tuesday due to inclement weather canceling the previous day's votes. One measure, H.R. 469, passed 410-0, would create additional reporting requirements for state child welfare systems for human trafficking. The other, H.R. 246, passed 411-0, would amend existing law to replace the term "child prostitution" with "child sex trafficking, including child prostitution," in reporting categories for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.