Representative James Lankford (R-OK) issued the following statement in anticipation of today's announcement from President Obama on his latest circumvention of the legislative process to achieve political goals. Today, at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, the President will announce his newest attempt to legislate from the White House, an executive order to end human trafficking in government contracting modeled directly on Rep. Lankford's bill -- H.R. 4259, the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracting Act.
"For more than a year, a bi-partisan group has worked in the House and Senate to address the global issue of human trafficking in federal contracting, since more than twenty executive policies and regulations have failed to stop the practice," said Rep. Lankford. "One more executive order will not solve the problem. We have a loophole in our law that must be closed, and we have serious enforcement issues of existing law."
"Since my subcommittee held its first hearing in November 2011, I have aggressively utilized the legislative process to end the completely immoral act of human trafficking through American federal contracts. I am saddened that the President plans to undermine months of our bipartisan, bicameral work by issuing a temporary executive order. This is a serious issue that requires legislative solutions and deliberate action, not just political hype. "
Lankford's bill, H.R. 4259 -- the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracting Act -- prevents human tracking by halting the process at the contractor and subcontractor level by increasing disclosure and enforcement requirements. The bill requires the termination of existing contracts found to traffic third-country nationals. It requires large contract and grant holders to implement compliance plans for eradicating this abhorrent practice, and requires that contractors notify the Inspectors General, if they find credible evidence that subcontractors are trafficking humans. H.R. 4259 was successfully offered as an amendment to the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 and is expected to be included in the Senate-passed version.
"With broad bi-partisan support in the House and Senate, it is uncertain why the President refused to work through the legitimate legislative process to resolve this stain on our American values," continued Lankford. "With many executive policies already in place, it is apparent that the issues of Human Trafficking cannot be resolved with speeches, executive orders and regulations. Enforcing our value of human life will require legal standing, not administrative opinion."
"Domestically, the President wants to promote awareness of human trafficking, despite his track record of removing the experts at providing these services. Last year, this Administration removed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as recipient of a grant to assist victims of domestic human trafficking despite having the highest-ranking score and successfully administering the grant for the previous five years. USCCB was not eligible for assisting victims of human trafficking solely because they would not encourage victims of abuse to seek an abortion or contraceptive drugs."
According to an independent review board, the USCCB received the second highest score (89) among candidates applying for grants on a list of criteria set forth by HHS. Despite their high score, the USCCB were ultimately not awarded the grant and the award was given to an organization that received the fourth highest score (69). No explanation was given to USCCB why the administration skipped over the USCCB and ignored their expertise assisting victims of human trafficking.
"The President's political narrative that Congress is not working is threatened when good bills move through the legislative process and he does nothing to move them forward. Today's executive order allows the President to jump in front of the moving crowd and claim leadership, when real leadership involves not just doing something, but doing the right thing, at the right time," concluded Lankford.