03.19.15

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Pending Trafficking Legislation

Earlier today, Senator Cornyn suggested that we make the funds collected from traffickers “subject” to the appropriations process to get around this impasse, but that does not solve the problem.

The pending legislation came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, an authorizing committee that does not appropriate funds. We should be telling appropriators that we believe services to trafficking victims are important by authorizing funds. As the most senior member of that Appropriations Committee I can tell you that this is an important process that results in real money for victim services.

It is a process that has been working well. Under Democratic leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, total appropriations for trafficking victims’ services more than doubled from FY2014 to $58 million for FY2015

Senator Cornyn’s proposal to simply funnel fees collected from traffickers in his bill through the appropriations process still presents the same problem at hand—this is not taxpayer money, and subjecting it to the Hyde amendment would expand the amendments reach to an offender-financed fund meant for women and children who should have all options available to them when it comes to health services after being sexually exploited.

As the House Republican author of this bill, Congressman Poe said today:

“We passed a bill. The Senate should take it up and pass it.”

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