U.S. Senate adopts human trafficking bill

Human TraffickingBy The Iowa Statesman


The U.S. Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Both of Iowa’s senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, played roles in the bill’s passage.

The Senate-passed bill also includes human trafficking legislation introduced by Grassley earlier this year.   The Grassley proposal would clarify that federal grant resources can be used to meet the housing needs of trafficking victims and offer training on the effects of sex trafficking to those who serve runaway, homeless and at-risk youth.  It also calls for a federal human trafficking task force to identify best practices to prevent human trafficking.

As Judiciary Committee chair, he shepherded the bill through committee, where it also was approved unanimously.

“During a Judiciary Committee hearing in February, we heard of the pain and unimaginable harm that victims of sex trafficking endure,” he said. “We can no longer turn our heads the other way.  Victims deserve the help that this strong anti-trafficking bill provides. This is a major victory for victims. We’ve all been frustrated that a bill to help end sex trafficking and cleared the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 19-0 was filibustered and delayed by the minority.”

Grassley said the bill’s passage is a “step forward” in helping survivors of trafficking heal, and protecting others from becoming victims. He said the House of Representatives now has a chance to “add its stamp of approval” on legislation that can make a big difference in people’s lives.

Ernst actively worked behind the scenes, lobbying other senators to support the bill. She said Wednesday’s vote was “an important step to combat the spread of human and sex trafficking.” She said the U.S. can no longer turn a blind eye to the human rights crisis happening across the nation.

“The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act provides the much needed support to victims of this modern day slavery,” she said. “It also enhances law enforcement’s ability to bring perpetrators to justice and brings forward stiffer penalties for criminals. As a mother and grandmother, I am deeply pleased to see this bipartisan agreement move forward, and I will continue working to see such violence eliminated.”