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Lankford, Ernst Applaud Unanimous Senate Action to Put a Stop to Human Trafficking

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) celebrated Senate passage of his bill with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracts Act of 2022, which will ensure the US government is not paying for or participating in human trafficking of vulnerable third-country workers through our contracts overseas, including those in defense and national security. The bill terminates contracts found to be involved in human trafficking and importantly contractors known to have participated in trafficking and prevent them from trafficking people with US taxpayer dollars ever again.

“The Senate has finally agreed with us to prioritize confronting federal overseas contractors that utilize human trafficking. Now we need the House and President to join us,” said Lankford. “Human trafficking is immoral, illegal and tragic.  It is inconceivable that almost no one is being held accountable for trafficking in federal contracts. This must stop immediately, and now we’re one step closer to saving lives. I thank Senator Ernst for her ongoing support to get this bill into law.”

“The United States should take every step to end human trafficking, and that includes ensuring that not a single cent of government funding is used towards companies that employ this heinous practice,” said Ernst. “Our effort will prevent our hard-earned taxpayer dollars from funding this atrocious human rights violation, and I’m thrilled to see this bill pass the Senate, moving one step closer toward ending this crime altogether.”

In 2012 during his time in the House of Representatives, Lankford offered a similar bill, the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act, as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, but the practice is still going on.

Lankford’s revised bill ensures the US government could terminate any government contract that participated in human trafficking, penalize contractors engaged in trafficking, and prevent future trafficking. However, a recently published Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, as well as annual Defense Department Inspector General (IG) reports, show that human trafficking tragically still exists in overseas government contracts, so the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracts Act of 2021 is needed to provide oversight of remedial action and ensure enforcement of the law.

A majority of contracting officers are aware of the need for contracts greater than $550,000 to have a compliance plan that ensures they are not participating in human trafficking, and a majority of contracts have that clause, though not all.

Lankford penned an op-ed in The Hill to discuss the immediate need for this legislation.