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Frank P.
Democrat NJ 6

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  • Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015

    by Representative Frank Pallone Jr.

    Posted on 2015-01-27

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    PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I think that we can all agree that human trafficking is an important problem that deserves Congress' attention, and that all of us support efforts to ensure that our health care workers are better prepared to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.

    H.R. 398, the Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015, would set up a grant, facilitated by the Department of Health and Human Services, to create and address best practices for health care providers to use in the field. The program would then test those practices in 10 pilot programs across the country.

    The goal of this legislation is laudable and would certainly take important steps to improve our ability to address the spread of human trafficking in our local communities. However, Mr. Speaker, I cannot support the process that brought this bill to the floor.

    This legislation has not gone through a subcommittee or full committee markup in the Energy and Commerce Committee, neither in the 114th Congress nor the previous session. Going through the normal committee process would have allowed Members and staff to make substantive and technical changes to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services is able to implement this legislation effectively. Members who serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee deserve the opportunity to deliberate on legislation within the committee's jurisdiction and offer amendments to strengthen the bills that we consider.

    Additionally, while this bill authorizes a new grant program, it does not authorize any additional appropriations for the Department to carry out this initiative. HHS may not be able to do this work within their limited existing resources. Advancing legislation, Mr. Speaker, that puts new requirements on the Federal Government without authorizing the funds to implement them is not a good precedent to set.

    So, Mr. Speaker, I cannot support new legislation that has not gone through the regular order process, but I will not object to considering H.R. 398 on suspension today and advancing the bill by voice vote.

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