House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today called for President Barack Obama to show leadership in enacting actual changes to the criminal code following the President's announcement of an executive order that borrows heavily from bipartisan and bicameral legislation being led by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman James Lankford (R-OK) in the House. Lankford's subcommittee has conducted a series of hearings in the 112th Congress, exposing the lack of Administration action to enforce existing laws. Those efforts resulted in bipartisan legislation, H.R. 4259, the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracting Act. The legislation passed the full House of Representatives as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.
Chairman Issa issued the following statement on the President's executive order:
"Legislation to stop federal taxpayer dollars from supporting human trafficking has been a bipartisan and bicameral effort to address the scourge of human trafficking. While President Obama's executive order borrows many components from Congress' legislative effort, it does not include the most important part: expanding the criminal code to encompass foreign labor bondage for work performed outside the U.S. and cracking down on grants and grantees as well as just contractors.
"Over twenty executive policies and regulations over the past decade have failed to fix this serious problem. I'm concerned that the announcement behind this press event will only add one more unimplemented policy to the list. If he's going to find time to go before the cameras and the international community to announce a half-measure policy, President Obama owes it to victims of trafficking to commit himself to personally engaging in the legislative effort to enact actual changes to federal criminal statutes.
"I thank Chairman Lankford and other lawmakers for their continued efforts to work together on this and urge everyone to continue this important legislative effort."
The Senate, which has a companion bill authored by Rob Portman, (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT), Al Franken, (D-MN), Susan Collins, (R-ME), and Joe Lieberman, (ID-CT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), is expected to include the same language when they move the defense authorization legislation this fall.