Congress sends human trafficking bill to Obama to sign

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Washington — Lawmakers have sent to President Barack Obama for his signature a bill to combat human trafficking, following overwhelming approval by the U.S. House Tuesday.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which passed 420-3, would expand law enforcement tools to target sex traffickers, create a new fund to help victims and define child pornography production as a form of trafficking.

Obama is expected to sign the legislation, which included a provision sponsored by U.S. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana. The provision would create a pilot project to train medical professionals to better identify patients who are victims of trafficking.

“Doctors and nurses are in a unique position to help victims of trafficking who seek medical attention, and training medical professionals to recognize the signs of trafficking will help rescue victims and allow them to rebuild their lives,” Peters said in a statement.

Tuesday’s vote happened with little fanfare or debate. The bill had been held up for weeks in the Senate over partisan dissent that also delayed the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general.

“Drugs are only sold once, but minor children can be, and are, prostituted multiple times a day, every day,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said on the floor late Monday ahead of the vote.

“It is time for Congress to send a clear message that we won’t stand for this.”