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H.R. 2219: End Banking for Human Traffickers Act of 2017

Apr 10, 2018 at 6:56 p.m. ET. On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended in the House.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 2219 (115th) in the House. This vote was taken under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.

Update: Shortly after this bill passed the House by 405–2, GovTrack Insider wrote in our summary that we could not find any public statements of opposition to the legislation. After publication, we were subsequently informed of opposition by an advocacy group. The article has been updated to reflect their statement.

There aren’t many bills co-sponsored by both Marco Rubio and Elizabeth Warren, but one is the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act, which recently passed the House.

Context

Though great strides have already been made to combat it, the human trafficking industry still generates $150 billion in illegal profits per year, according to the FACT Coalition. That makes it the third-most valuable illegal practice.

One way of halting the practice could be by cutting off the human traffickers’ access to banking and financial funds. That’s the aim of the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act, which passed the House last week.

What the bill does

The legislation would

  • Require the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports to include a nation-by-nation analysis of whether each foreign country has a mechanism to prevent financial transactions from people accused or suspected of human trafficking.
  • Add the Secretary of the Treasury to the list of top government officials on the President’s Interagency Task Force To Monitor and Combat Trafficking, to add more of a financial oversight element.
  • Direct the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to include in its responsibilities “combating illicit financing relating to severe forms of trafficking in persons.”

The legislation was introduced in April 2017 in the House (H.R. 2219) by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA39), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and in the Senate (S. 952) by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the bill is an effective means of crimping a despicable crime that still exists all too often.

“Human trafficking has devastated the lives of tens of millions of victims around the world, including here in the United States… This form of modern-day slavery makes criminal gangs billions each year,” House lead sponsor Royce said in a press release.

“The [bill] will help law enforcement and financial institutions identify and report suspected human traffickers so that they can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Royce added. “We must start using every tool at our disposal to help end human trafficking.”

What opponents say

Opponents say the bill would primarily harm not human traffickers as intended, but instead vulnerable people who are pressured or forced into sex work or prostitution.

“Access to banking services is a central component of economic empowerment to improve sex workers’ living and work conditions, reduce their vulnerability to violence, and enable them to manage and plan their finances and future,” the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) writes in a position paper.

“Globally, stigma, criminalization, and discrimination create barriers to sex workers’ access to financial services,” the paper continued. “The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act is likely to compound these barriers and also further impede sex workers’ access to internet services.”

Odds of passage

After attracting a bipartisan mix of nine Democratic and six Republican House cosponsors, the bill passed the House in April by 405–2.

The two dissenting votes were from Freedom Caucus member Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI3) and Thomas Massie (R-KY4), although GovTrack Insider could not determine exactly why. However, the two libertarian congressmen often cast lone “no” votes on measures that would increase federal spending in any form, even if the cause is ostensibly pure. (The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would cost less than $500 thousand in total.)

The measure now goes to the Senate, where passage seems likely although as of July 2018, it has yet to receive a vote. In addition to Warren’s introduction, the Senate version has been cosponsored by two others, both Republicans: Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Totals

All Votes R D
Yea 100%
 
 
408
226
 
182
 
Nay 0%
 
 
2
2
 
0
 
Not Voting
 
 
18
8
 
10
 

Passed. 2/3 Required. Source: house.gov.

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Study Guide

How well do you understand this vote? Use this study guide to find out.

You can find answers to most of the questions below here on the vote page. For a guide to understanding the bill this vote was about, see here.

What was the procedure for this vote?

  1. What was this vote on?
  2. Not all votes are meant to pass legislation. In the Senate some votes are not about legislation at all, since the Senate must vote to confirm presidential nominations to certain federal positions.

    This vote is related to a bill. However, that doesn’t necessarily tell you what it is about. Congress makes many decisions in the process of passing legislation, such as on the procedures for debating the bill, whether to change the bill before voting on passage, and even whether to vote on passage at all.

    You can learn more about the various motions used in Congress at EveryCRSReport.com. If you aren’t sure what the House was voting on, try seeing if it’s on this list.

  3. What is the next step after this vote?
  4. Take a look at where this bill is in the legislative process. What might come next? Keep in mind what this specific vote was on, and the context of the bill. Will there be amendments? Will the other chamber of Congress vote on it, or let it die?

    For this question it may help to briefly examine the bill itself.

What is your analysis of this vote?

  1. What trends do you see in this vote?
  2. Members of Congress side together for many reasons beside being in the same political party, especially so for less prominent legislation or legislation specific to a certain region. What might have determined how the roll call came out in this case? Does it look like Members of Congress voted based on party, geography, or some other reason?

    One tool that will be helpful in answering this question is the cartogram at the top of the page. A cartogram is a stylized map of the United States that shows each district as an identical hexagon. This view allows you to see the how the representatives from each district voted arranged by their geography and colored by their political party. What trends can you see in the cartogram for this vote?

  3. How did your representative vote?
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