Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved by voice vote the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act (H.R. 2480). This bill, authored by Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and a product of the House Judiciary Committee, ensures that state and local governments are able to obtain and use federal law enforcement grant funding for programs that combat human trafficking, including programs aimed at reducing demand for commercial sex.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. The JAG Program currently provides states and units of local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas, including law enforcement; prosecution and court programs; prevention and education programs; corrections and community corrections; drug treatment and enforcement; crime victim and witness initiatives; and mental health programs. Since fighting human trafficking is a top law enforcement priority, the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act adds a category for programs that combat human trafficking and address demand reduction.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the following statement on today’s House action to fight human trafficking.

Chairman Goodlatte: “Every person has inherent worth and value and ought to be treated with dignity. Human traffickers and their buyers dehumanize their victims for their own profit and pleasure, and we must do all we can to fight this heinous crime and bring perpetrators to justice. Today, the House has taken action to combat this crime by passing the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act to ensure that state and local law enforcement officials have access to additional tools needed to fight human trafficking in their communities. I applaud the House for approving this bill and urge the Senate to pass it quickly.”

For more on the House Judiciary Committee’s work to combat child exploitation and human trafficking, click here.

Watch a video on the Committee’s work here.