WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD), and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in a press conference on Senate Democrats’ partisan obstruction of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S.178). This legislation would aid victims of human trafficking and enhance law enforcement tools. This legislation previously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and includes ten Democratic co-sponsors. Senator Ernst urged Democrats to end the political theatrics and move forward on this important legislation.
SENATOR ERNST: First, thank you all for coming today, and Senator Cornyn thank you very much for working so diligently on this legislation. Again, thank you for being here. As the mother of three beautiful daughters, and as someone who as a young woman volunteered my time, my energy at a women’s crisis shelter that dealt with many of these forms of abuse, this is important legislation. This legislation is near and dear to my heart. So it is very disheartening to see the partisan politics, the political theatrics that we are seeing this week with this important legislation. Human trafficking cannot be allowed to continue. It shouldn’t exist. And this is essentially modern-day slavery. We have the opportunity to do something about it, and we must do something about it. Senate Democrats in the Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to bring this bill forward, and as my colleagues have stated the language that is found in this bill is nothing new. This is language that has existed for 39 years. So essentially, what they are saying is, ‘It was hidden, it was hidden.’ It was not hidden. This is language that again has been in existence. We’re maintaining the status quo with this legislation. So Senate Democrats, either failed to read that bill or again they are just playing partisan politics and political theatrics with an important issue. Again, as a mother, as a grandmother, we cannot allow our children to be victimized. And now that we have the opportunity to do something about it, we must push this issue, and we must bring this bill forward for a vote. I want to emphasize again that Senate Democrats voted unanimously to bring this bill out of committee, and as stated earlier, there were 10 co-sponsors, Democratic co-sponsors of this bill. So, I am imploring our Senate Democrats to stop the theatrics. Let’s take the opportunity to do something very important for not only our nation’s children, but other children that are being brought into the United States. Let’s enforce these laws, let’s bring forward stiffer penalties, and let’s protect our children. Again, thank you for being here this afternoon.
About the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act:
- The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act provides law enforcement with the tools to crack down on human traffickers while also helping victims restore their lives
- Improves law enforcement’s ability to target and bring to justice those who purchase sex or labor from a trafficking victim
- Creates a deficit-neutral Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund
- Recognizes child pornography production as a form of human trafficking
- Requires traffickers to be treated as violent criminals for purposes of pre-trial release, monitoring and detention
- Streamlines the ability of state and local task forces to obtain wiretap warrants in order to investigate crimes
- Creates a Human Trafficking Advisory Council composed of survivors to formulate recommendations to the Federal Government
- Democrats are suddenly opposing the Hyde Amendment which is included in the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The Hyde language was included in the legislation three months ago and has been the law for almost four decades
- Ten Democratic co-sponsors have signed onto the bill while all Senate Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to bring this bill out of committee