20 House Republicans vote against reauthorisation of federal programmes to combat trafficking
The Georgia congresswoman cast her vote on 26 July hours after accusing Democratic lawmakers of failing to combat trafficking and the deaths of migrants along the US-Mexico border.
“How can anyone who voted for Democrats not be offended by this?” she wrote on Twitter. “Dems said they care about children in cages [and] migrants, yet migrants are dying everyday, women are raped, and kids are being trafficked.”
“All while Dems send $54+ billion to defend Ukraine’s border and NOT our own,” she added, referencing congressional legislation to support Ukraine against the ongoing Russian assault.
The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022 passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 401-20. Eight Republicans and one Democratic lawmaker did not vote.
The measure allocates more than $1.1bn over five years to bolster programmes created under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, including shelters, mental health support, education and job training, among other efforts, according to a bill summary.
It also reauthorises the US Department of Homeland Security’s Angel Watch Center to combat international sex tourism travel by convicted child sex offenders. The bill also aims to improve trafficking prevention education for children and their families.
The legislation also would boost funding for housing survivors.
Other Republicans who voted against the measure include Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, who is reportedly facing a federal investigation over trafficking allegations involving a 17-year-old girl. He has strenuously denied the accusations.
In a statement explaining his vote, the congressman said that “the government’s failure to accurately and specifically define human trafficking allows this legislation to act as a backdoor loophole for illegal immigration and amnesty” while the bill “costs over half a billion dollars to implement and gives more taxpayer money to overfunded, inefficient grant programs.”
“Human traffickers never take a holiday, nor can we,” bill co-author and New Jersey congressman Chris Smith said in a statement following the vote. “Because traffickers and the nefarious networks they lead always find new ways to exploit the vulnerable, especially women and children, we must aggressively strengthen laws and their implementation.”
He said the largely overwhelming bipartisan support for the bill, despite 20 GOP opponents, “is a testament to a widespread consensus and underscores the absolute urgency for securing the funds needed to protect victims, prosecute perpetrators and prevent trafficking from occurring in the first place.”