JVTA Passes Congress

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved by a vote of 420-3 the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178) and the bill is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This comprehensive anti-human trafficking bill provides additional resources to law enforcement and service providers, helps to facilitate human trafficking investigations, criminalizes the demand side of this crime, and strengthens the existing federal criminal laws against trafficking. The House has already twice passed companion legislation introduced by Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas) to fight human trafficking, once in the 113thCongress and again earlier this year.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) applauded House passage of S. 178 in the statement below.

Chairman Goodlatte: “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. According to the FBI, sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.  Sadly, this immoral and illicit industry is also a profitable one. It’s estimated that child sex trafficking in the United States alone is a $9.8 billion industry. Together as a nation, we must send the strong message that our children are not for sale.

“The House of Representatives today acted for the third time to fight human trafficking. The legislation passed today holds everyone involved in these crimes accountable, whether they sell, buy, or market these children to potential buyers. It also ensures that exploited children are treated as victims rather than as criminals and provides much-needed resources to victims of sex trafficking that will help them reclaim and rebuild their lives. I thank my colleagues, Representatives Ted Poe, Kristi Noem, Erik Paulsen, and Ann Wagner, for working tirelessly on this issue, and am pleased this bill will soon be signed into law so that we better protect our nation’s children.”

S. 178 contains a number of separate anti-human trafficking bills that were originally passed by the House Judiciary Committee and then by the House of Representatives:

  • The Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act (H.R. 350): This bill, authored by Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), launches a review that will look into federal and state trafficking prevention activities in order to identify best practices to stop human trafficking; requires an inventory of existing federal anti-trafficking efforts to make sure all federal agencies and programs work together and that federal resources are being targeted where needed; and improves existing Department of Justice grants, ensuring that the grants also support shelters for survivors.
  • The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (H.R. 159): This legislation, sponsored by Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), provides incentives to states to adopt safe harbor laws that treat trafficked children as victims, rather than as criminals or delinquents. The bill also provides an avenue for victims to access job skills training so that they can begin to rebuild their lives.
  • The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act (H.R. 285): This bill, authored by Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), criminalizes those who knowingly advertise or profit from advertisements that offer the commercial exploitation of children and trafficking victims.