Congress has approved tougher penalties for traffickers and increased funding for slavery survivors.
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act deadlocked the Senate for weeks earlier this year, and even delayed Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s confirmation vote. However, a Senate compromise in April led to a vote of 99 to 0 to approve the measure. Yesterday, it passed the House on a vote of 420 to 3.
The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a coalition of major organizations combatting slavery, including Free the Slaves, applauded the bipartisan Senate compromise that led to near-unanamious approval for the bill in both chambers of Congress.
“At a time when it seems impossible to move important legislation, the Senate vote sends an important signal: Services must be in place to ensure human trafficking survivors do not return to exploitative and vulnerable situations, and resources must be available to enable law enforcement to hold perpetrators accountable,” ATEST said in a statement.
The Hill website quotes the bill’s House co-sponsors about yesterday’s vote:
Poe noted that slavery, although banned by the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, remained a national problem in the form of human trafficking.
“This ugly scourge has risen its head again one more time,” Poe said. “America can no longer deny the inconvenient truth of sex trafficking.”
The measure has been sent President Obama for approval.