Smith bill continues to gain consensus on way to House Floor Smith’s legislation to combat human trafficking passed by House Foreign Affairs Committee with strong bipartisan support
Legislation authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to combat human trafficking cleared a major hurdle today, winning strong support from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a vote to send the bill to the House Floor for consideration and passage.
Named in honor of Frederick Douglass, the renowned abolitionist, Smith’s legislation—the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act (HR 5856)—would provide approximately $1 billion over five years to strengthen and expand successful programs and laws to combat modern-day slavery.
“This critical legislation reauthorizes funding for FY2024 through 2028—a total of five years—to continue current year enacted appropriation and authorization levels to enhance programs, strengthen laws, and add accountability in our whole-of-government effort to protect women and children from human trafficking,” said Smith, who authored the nation’s historic Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and four subsequent anti-trafficking laws.
Smith’s legislation—which is cosponsored by his Global Human Rights Subcommittee Ranking Member Susan Wild (D-PA), as well as by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Amata Radewagen (R-AS), Michael Burgess (R-TX), and Donald Davis (D-NC)—would:
Among other provisions, Smith pointed to the mandate in the bill to reauthorize the International Megan’s Law, a law he wrote in 2015, to combat transnational child trafficking by requiring the US government to send advanced notifications to foreign countries when a convicted pedophile intends to travel there possibly for the purpose of sexually exploiting minors.
“The International Megan’s Law reauthorized in this bill is named for Megan Kanka, the little girl who was brutally killed by a convicted pedophile living across the street unbeknownst to our community in my then-hometown of Hamilton, New Jersey,” Smith said. Today there are Megan’s Laws across the country notifying parents and communities when a pedophile moves into a neighborhood.
“Information is key and by applying the notification standards internationally, this program has resulted in 22,790 notifications and 8,357 denials of entry as a way of further protecting children from those who may wish to travel overseas for the purposes of child trafficking,” Smith said.
Others who spoke at the committee markup stressed the benefits of Smith’s legislation and offered praise for the strong bipartisan support for the bill as it continues to gain strong consensus on its way to the House Floor.
“I thank Rep. Smith for authoring the first modern trafficking bill and its subsequent reauthorizations, again tirelessly fighting to do the right thing,” Ranking Democrat Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said. “We thank you for your leadership and we are proud to partner with you—not only in elevating this issue, but also in making real differences in peoples’ lives, which this is really all about. This is not about politics but about doing the right thing.”
“There is nothing better than when you pass a bill and you know that you are going to save lives,” said Chairman McCaul.
“Congress must adopt a whole government approach,” said Rep. Wagner. “Passing this bill is a vital step that we must take to combat the scourge of trafficking and exploitation.”
“I can think of no subject more suitable for bipartisan support,” said Rep. Wild.
“This legislation serves as a reminder that Congress has played—and will continue to play—a critical role in advancing the United States’ and global efforts to combat and eliminate human trafficking