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Holly's News From Washington: May 2016
Last month, over 80 anti-slavery activists visited 78 Senate and House offices to support the End Modern Slavery Initiative, EMSI. The group included pastors and advocacy leaders who were in Washington (with 1,600 others) for International Justice Mission’s annual Global Prayer Gathering. The advocates spent an extra day and night in DC to let their members of Congress and senators know that they supported the End Modern Slavery Initiative and urge their support.
Many of the meetings with policy makers were for the simple pleasure of telling them “thank you.” Forty U.S. Senators, Republican and Democrats, are currently cosponsors of EMSI. IJM’s friends from those states were able to tell them how much it means to their friends and neighbors and congregations that those elected to represent them in Congress cared about slavery and wanted to use their power to end it.
Early next month, the Senate will be taking up the large bill that authorizes funding for U.S. national defense. The Senate Armed Services Committee noted the connection between global trafficking and U.S. security concerns and included in the bill a provision authorizing U.S. participation in the End Modern Slavery Initiative. EMSI’s cost ($36 million per year) is but a tiny fraction of the $600 billion-plus National Defense Authorization, but it nonetheless represents a significant investment in combatting global slavery.
Once the Senate passes its legislation, the House and Senate will iron out the differences between their respective bills. The House has been very active on slavery issues in recent years. Given the reception our advocates received in their meetings with House offices recently, we have good reason to hope that the Senate-passed EMSI provision will be in the final version of the NDAA that goes to the President for his signature.
These past two years of working on the End Modern Slavery Initiative have reminded me of the great privilege of living in a democracy. The U.S. Congress is very close to passing a historic anti-slavery measure that will help free millions of victims around the world. It will happen because the American people spoke from their hearts about the cruelty of trafficking children, men and women into slavery. And it will happen because their elected lawmakers listened and understood.