House passes bill to curb human trafficking

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The House voted Wednesday to reauthorize a comprehensive law that fights sex and labor trafficking in the U.S. and abroad.

Passed by a simple voice vote, the bill known as the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act authorizes more than $500 million for programs across the federal government.

Those efforts include training law enforcement officials to recognize and combat human trafficking, providing victims with assistance and investigating international trafficking rings.


The measure includes allocating $1 million over four years to train airport personnel, pilots and flight attendants how to spot human trafficking victims and report to law enforcement.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline received 7,572 reports of human trafficking in the U.S. last year, an increase from 5,544 in 2015. That’s part of a total of 31,659 reported cases to the hotline in the last decade.

“We want law enforcement to have every possible resource to protect our citizens. And we want to give real support — and a voice — to the victims of these awful crimes,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said.

The House additionally passed two other bills by voice vote dealing with human trafficking on Wednesday. One of the measures, authored by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), would require training of Labor Department personnel to detect human trafficking. The other by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) would let law enforcement use certain Justice Department grants to combat human trafficking.

President Trump praised the House votes and said he’s “hopeful” the Senate will take up the legislation.

“My Administration is focused on ending the horrific practice of human trafficking, and the three bills the House of Representatives passed today are important steps forward,” Trump said in a statement.

The House passed more than a dozen other bills earlier this year to crack down on human trafficking and child exploitation, including legislation to direct the Justice Department to ensure prosecutors receive training in how to process cases with a traumatized victim.

Another, authored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), would allow the State Department to offer monetary rewards for human traffickers.

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