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The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 and its journey to become law
The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015 (S.553; EMSI) provides a bold, bipartisan opportunity to advance the very best of American ideals to end modern-day slavery. From many years of working in the human rights field, I can tell you it is painfully rare to see opportunities like the one this bill represents: a way to spring forward and fight injustice on a new level. Senator Corker’s bill will make a big difference in the fight to end modern slavery and human trafficking – if it becomes law.
How the #EndSlaveryAct began
We at IJM are completely astounded by the care and the pace with which Senator Corker has stewarded the EMSI. The Senator and his team have been considering this initiative for some time. They began conversations with IJM and other organizations in spring of 2014.
The Senator’s key Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff person, Caleb McCarry, began circulating a rough concept note of the legislation in November. By Christmas, Senator Corker was talking to other Senators about the initiative and enlisting their support. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, was an early supporter. Menendez’s staff were very helpful in finalizing the legislation. By late January, Senator Corker had secured the support of the State Department and White House. And on February 26, the bill was reported unanimously out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
It is a joyous thing to watch a powerful Senator exercise his prestige and relationships within the Senate on behalf of the world’s least powerful men, women and children: the world’s slaves.
The next step in the journey to become law
So what’s next? Once the Senate passes the composite anti-trafficking bill, the action will turn to the House of Representatives. Senator Corker and his staff have been in discussion with foreign policy leaders in the House, including House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce about moving the Senate-passed bill quickly. Chairman Royce is a good friend to the abolitionist cause and championed several important initiatives last year. We don’t yet know what the House strategy will be, but have high hopes that the EMSI can become law before Congress adjourns in the fall.
I predict that we’ll need for every House member to hear from anti-slavery activists in their legislative districts that they want to see the End Slavery Initiative Act become a reality. We’ll keep you posted and work with you on that hurdle in coming weeks and months.
Find out more about the #EndSlaveryAct
In the media