I have been an international human rights activist and lobbyist for 31 years in Washington. There have been times when issues I cared about and worked hard on simply didn't bear fruit, and I wonder at those times if I've just been at this too long. Congress adjourning in October without passing the Child Protection Compact Act (S3184/HR2737) was one of those down-in-the-dumps times!
The CPCA would provide additional authority and funding for the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) to designate "focus countries" and reach an agreement with them on the eradication of child trafficking. "Child Protection Compacts" would open the door to multi-year funding to help countries rescue victims and prosecute and convict perpetrators.
IJM, World Vision, Sojourners and our good friends on Capitol Hill really thought we were going to get this important anti-trafficking bill passed and signed into law this fall. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the bill unanimously on September 21, the day after a massive call-in to Senate offices in support of the measure. Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Sam Brownback, the bill's principle sponsors, had every intention of taking it directly to the Senate floor. The House Foreign Affairs Committee was poised to take up the Senate bill.
It didn't happen. The clock simply ran out.
Wonderfully, miraculously, we have another chance. Senators Boxer and Brownback will again take the bill to the Democratic and Republican cloakrooms and ask that it be taken up on the Senate floor during the short lame duck session that begins Monday, November 15.
And you know what? I think it's going to pass, but not because of anything I can do. No, the CPCA is going to become the law of the land and the terrific TIP Office will have important new resources to help kids in forced labor slavery or exploited in the sex industry because of activists around the United States who care.
We are again calling on our friends and constituents to call their Senators to urge support for S3184. Will you commit to taking just two minutes of your time to be part of the national effort to pass the CPCA?
Making the call is easy; just:
- Find out who your Senators are and how to contact them at www.senate.gov. (Find your state in the upper right corner and look for the "Contact" section on your Senators' websites.)
- Make the call -- use this sample script as a guide: "Hi, my name is [NAME] and I'm calling from [City, State]. I'm calling to ask Senator [NAME] to vote YES to pass the Child Protection Compact Act (S. 3184). This bill would help to eradicate child trafficking, an issue I really care about. Would you please pass my message on to the Senator? Thank you!"
Together, we can be a voice for abused and oppressed children around the world.
Holly Burkhalter is vice president of government relations at International Justice Mission.