Today, the House of Representatives voted 420-3 to approve the Justice For Victims of Trafficking Act, a piece of legislation that stands to put a major dent in the big business of modern day slavery.
Last we heard of the JVTA, it had just escaped partisan gridlock in the Senate over abortion funding language Democrats argued would lead to an expansion of the Hyde Amendment. Republicans, however, reworded the language of the bill, kept federal funds away from abortion clinics, and forced Harry Reid’s hand on the issue. The bill passed out of the Senate, and made its way to the House where it passed easily.
Now, it’s finally heading for the President’s desk.
For all the posturing from Democrats that held up passage of the bill for so long, today’s vote was remarkably…unremarkable:
The 420-3 vote happened with little fanfare or debate, a quiet finale for a bill that provoked weeks of partisan dissent in the Senate and held up the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
The dispute in the Senate focused on whether money in the new fund could be spent to pay for abortions. In the end senators resolved it by structuring the fund to reassure Republicans that abortion funding restrictions were being followed – and Democrats that they were not being expanded.
The House went along, approving the bill as it had passed the Senate.
“Drugs are only sold once, but minor children can be, and are, prostituted multiple times a day, every day,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said on the floor late Monday ahead of the vote. “It is time for Congress to send a clear message that we won’t stand for this.”
This is a fantastic development; Obama should sign it immediately so law enforcement officials can get to work putting slavers and sex traffickers out of business.
The only problem? How is it that we took so long to get to this point?
A similar version of this bill went nowhere last Congressional session. When the modern iteration of the JVTA made its way back to the Senate floor, Democrats used it as an excuse to posture on abortion, knowing full well that 1) Hyde wouldn’t be expanded by the original language of the bill, and 2) actually blocking bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting victims of sexual and human rights abuses would be political suicide.
The bottom line is that Democrats postured at the expense of the exploited, gained no ground, and now have earned a legacy of having their hands forced when it came to abolishing modern day slavery.
I just hope Obama knows better than to test the waters with this one.
Congratulations to the GOP—this was a hard-fought battle and a well-earned victory!
You can read our coverage of the JVTA fight here.DONATE
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