Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act (H.R. 2480).

Chairman Goodlatte: Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted the State Department’s ceremony to launch the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report – the 17th installment of the report, which assesses government efforts around the world to combat human trafficking. Secretary Tillerson remarked that “Human trafficking is one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time.” He went on to observe that the worst thing about trafficking is that it robs human beings of their freedom and dignity. Today, our Committee marks up legislation to combat human trafficking by ensuring state and local law enforcement can pursue criminals who are buying trafficking victims.

HR 2480, the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, does this by adding anti-human trafficking efforts as an “allowable use” for funds under the Byrne JAG program – the Justice Department’s flagship grant program for state and local law enforcement. Every day, the men and women of American law enforcement use these funds to fight crime and protect the most vulnerable among us. It is entirely appropriate to allow JAG funds to be used to combat trafficking in persons.

As part of any comprehensive approach in combating trafficking, law enforcement must address what many call the “demand issue” – that is, going after those who are buying sex from young victims off the street, and very often, off the Internet. This is simple economics applied to a horrific crime. By deterring demand, we hope that traffickers will have fewer buyers, and abandon that illegal activity. These demand reduction operations and programs are most often carried out at the local level, and it is important to ensure local governments have the tools they need to prevent this horrible crime. HR 2480 will help make that a reality.

I thank Congresswoman Hartzler for introducing this legislation and I urge my colleagues to support it.

For more on today’s markup, click here.