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Public Statements

Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2009

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COBURN. I support the goals of this legislation and believe that slavery, in any form, is morally reprehensible. Sex trafficking is a global epidemic, and we should endeavor to eliminate this industry, especially due to its effects on minors who are victims of this practice. However, I believe we can and must do so in a fiscally responsible manner that avoids duplication of existing laws and programs and upholds the Constitution.

Mr. WYDEN. I thank the Senator from Oklahoma for his constructive work in helping to craft an agreement to pass S. 2925. As he notes, sex trafficking is modern day slavery. It is a morally reprehensible epidemic that ensnares far too many children, and there is far too little awareness of the scope of this criminal enterprise in the United States. I also agree that in combating this heinous crime, and providing law enforcement agencies and services providers with effective tools, Congress must take care to do so in a manner that is fiscally responsible and that avoids inefficiency and duplication.

Mr. COBURN. Although the Subcommittee on Human Rights held a hearing on child prostitution this year, it did not fully explore the effectiveness of existing law and grant programs, and whether there are loopholes or problems that need to be fixed in order to make the Federal Government's efforts more effective. There are multiple programs for trafficking victims under existing law, but some of them remain unclear and confusing. In fact, many of them have never received congressional funding. Thus, while I agree with the Senator from Oregon that there seems to be a disparity between the resources provided to domestic victims and those provided to international victims, I conveyed to him in our negotiations that I question whether we cannot already provide most of those resources under existing law. As a result, I am committed to vigorous oversight of these issues during the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, TVPRA, which expires next year.

Mr. WYDEN. I agree with the Senator from Oklahoma that an important role of Congress is to provide oversight to help make Federal programs more effective, to increase efficiency, and to reduce duplication, waste, and unnecessary expenditures. I have discussed with the Senator from Oklahoma his work on the deficit commission, and as he knows, I serve on the Senate Budget Committee and I am very concerned about controlling government spending and working to ensure the most efficient and effective use of government resources. The level of debt that our nation has accumulated is very concerning and is a threat to economic growth and sound fiscal policy. In accordance with these concerns, I agree with the Senator from Oklahoma that when the TVPRA reauthorization occurs, the Senate should carefully consider all programs to combat human trafficking, including S. 2925, to determine which programs provide the most effective impact, and whether there is duplication, inefficiency, or waste that can and should be reduced.

Mr. COBURN. I thank the Senator from Oregon for recognizing the dire state of our economy and his willingness to offset the cost of this legislation. The U.S. national debt is now over $13.8 trillion and growing. As a result, it is irresponsible for Congress to jeopardize the future standard of living of our children by borrowing from future generations. In the TVPRA reauthorization next year, it is imperative that we examine all trafficking victims grant programs, including this one, for waste, fraud and abuse, as well as their effect on the deficit. Our country is too fragile and these minor victims are too important for Congress to shirk its duty to perform oversight. I look forward to working with the Senator from Oregon to ensure this and other trafficking victims grant programs are performing effectively, efficiently and within the bounds of the Constitution.

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the committee substitute amendment be considered; that the two Wyden amendments which are at the desk be agreed to en bloc; that the committee substitute, as amended, be agreed to; the bill, as amended, be read a third time, and that a budgetary pay-go statement be read.

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