Arlington, VA— Shared Hope International applauds the Senate, particularly the leadership of Senator John Cornyn, Patty Murray and Harry Reid, for reaching a bi-partisan agreement that passed with a 98-0 vote and moved the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) forward to passage on the Senate floor. This important bill now moves on to the House. The amendment ensures that law enforcement will receive funding for training and that victims of sex trafficking will be able to receive comprehensive services on their path towards restoration.

“I commend Senators Cornyn, Reid and Murray on their unwavering commitment to bring justice to victims of trafficking. My own time in Congress provided a constant reminder that it takes much courage and passion to remain steadfast in your moral grounding, and today’s vote proves that the Senate is still able to put human rights above politics.” –Congresswoman Linda Smith, President and Founder Shared Hope International (U.S. Congress 1994-1999).

Shared Hope has supported the advancements of the JVTA since it was introduced in 2013. Not only will the bill provide much needed funding for law enforcement and survivors, it will also:

1. Clarify current law and codify federal appellate case law confirming that the conduct of buyers who “solicit” and “patronize” commercial sex with a child are committing the crime of sex trafficking. Buyers of sex acts with children fuel sex trafficking markets. Without demand, traffickers will lose their profits, and countless children will be spared the horrors of sexual exploitation.

2. Authorize state and local law enforcement to obtain wiretaps in state courts, without federal approval, to investigate trafficking and CSEC offenses more effectively.

3. Hold predators accountable for the harms they cause. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act would require certain federal offenders to pay an additional special assessment of $5,000 upon conviction for child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and other related crimes. The assessment, which would be payable after orders of restitution and criminal fines are paid in full by the offender, would be directed into the Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund to help pay for victim services and law enforcement prevention efforts.

With the JVTA’s successful passage out of the Senate today, advocates are now turning their attention to the House of Representatives and the President, to ensure that this critical legislation is passed!