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Lankford, Ernst Want to Put a Stop to Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today was joined by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to introduce the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracts Act of 2022 to ensure the US government is not funding 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.

“It’s not okay for the coyotes in Mexico to traffic people across our southern border, and it’s definitely not okay for the US government to participate in human trafficking,” said Lankford. “We are the United States of America. We have to ensure when we work with a contractor that they are not trafficking workers. It is ridiculous and illegal that this is still going on with almost no one being held accountable. Every Senator, every House member, and the President should support my bill to keep the US government out of the sad and disgusting business of human trafficking with Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars.”

“Under no circumstance should our hard-earned taxpayer dollars ever be allowed to aid or assist in the horrific practice of human trafficking. This legislation takes important steps to ensure American tax dollars are cut off to any contractor found to be participating in this disgusting practice, and President Biden and congressional Democrats should immediately support this effort,” said Ernst.

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 amendment was intended to ensure 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.