“This bill makes a major step in turning that around”

This week, House Republicans continue to keep their promises to the American people — especially the promise to keep our families and communities safe. With the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and three anti-human trafficking bills on the floor, House Armed Services Committee Chair Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) joined today’s House Republican Conference stakeout to highlight our work to keep Americans safe at home and abroad.

The NDAA is an annual, bipartisan bill to provide our military the resources and readiness it needs to complete its missions. Rep. Smith’s bill, the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, is one of three anti-trafficking bills on the floor this week, and it authorizes funding to help help prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers. After today, the House will have passed 16 bills so far this year to combat human trafficking.

Key Quotes from Chair Thornberry:

“Sometimes I think when we see something repeatedly, we tend to take it for granted. And it is true, for 55 straight years, under Congresses of both parties and presidents of both parties, there has been an NDAA signed into law. This year, in committee for example, there were 347 amendments filed. In the committee, 116 Democratic amendments were adopted, and 115 Republican amendments were adopted, and the bill was reported out of committee by a vote of 60-1.”

“[The NDAA], as you know, includes everything from big strategic issues, such as really putting our foot on the accelerator when it comes to missile defense, dealing with North Korea among other issues, to much smaller issues that are important like helping spouses pay for licensing fees when they are forced to move from state to state.”

“…but I don’t think any of us on the committee lose sight of the fact that the men and women who serve risk their lives…They are doing dangerous work, and our job is to help provide them with the best equipment, in the best shape, with the best training that our nation can provide. Unfortunately, we’ve seen accident rates go up as defense budgets have come down over the last several years. This bill makes a major step in turning that around. And in my view, we owe those who serve at least that much.”

Key Quotes from Rep. Smith:

“…back in 1997, when I introduced the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, many people thought it was a solution in search of a problem. They had no idea of the magnitude that women, especially women and children were being lured into trafficking, both sex and labor trafficking, around the world, including, sadly in the United States.”

“This legislation is bipartisan. Karen Bast is the chief Democratic cosponsor, and our leadership has instructed us, to reach out across the aisle, to try to bring everyone on board. This is a comprehensive bill, it’s named after Frederick Douglass. We celebrate his 200th anniversary of his birth in 2018, we worked with the Frederick Douglass family initiatives on a number of the provisions, especially on the prevention side. …it’s significant, it is comprehensive, it is bipartisan, it is a whole government approach.”

“I know other things crowd out important issues like human rights, but I implore you to take a look at this one because this will save lives. And I want to thank our leadership, our extraordinary leadership. There have been so many trafficking bills, we’ve never had this kind of interest at the leadership level as we do right now, and I thank them profoundly.”