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We've got unfinished business: keep our issues alive during the August recess!
It’s August and Washington, DC has slowed down considerably – especially if you’re in traffic and trying to make it to Nationals Stadium in time for the first pitch. The House and Senate are on recess and overworked legislative staff who haven’t seen daylight for months have either left town altogether or are wearing jeans to work and taking it sloooow…
Legislators may have put policy issues behind them this month, but there are big problems waiting for them when they return after Labor Day. None of the annual spending bills have passed the Senate, the emergency supplemental aid to address the Central American immigration crisis hasn’t been passed, and there are hundreds of Presidential appointments to various government posts that await Senate confirmation.
There is one piece of unfinished business issue that we at IJM care about very much. Happily, it is an issue that policymakers should be able to come to agreement on. I hope they do soon. On July 23, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R.2283, legislation that would upgrade the State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Office to being a bureau. The Senate companion, S.1249, has 34 cosponsors. The chief sponsor of the Senate measure, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, would like to see the Senate act on the measure before adjournment.
This legislation would make U.S. policy to confront modern day slavery vastly more effective. The sturdy little TIP Office issues a superb annual report on trafficking and slavery around the world. But without the stature of a bureau (a change that would cost U.S. taxpayers nothing), TIP is frequently outgunned in negotiations with other State Department bureaus over how much attention slavery should get in U.S. diplomacy.
IJM’s friends around the U.S. are keeping the issue alive during the August recess by tweeting pictures and messages to Senators and Members. It is a light-hearted, friendly way to tell legislators that we care about modern day slavery, and we’re thinking of you! I love this message that our friend Cliff, tweeted to New York’s Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, both of whom support S.1249. It is a group of Cliff’s friends from church thanking the Senators. I think it’s a message that the Senators (and many others) will be proud to receive. Join us and send a message to your members of Congress today!