TVPRA Update: Taking the Long View
As the dust settles from the election, Congress is coming back into session for about six weeks to deal with long-delayed legislation. The window of opportunity is small for the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act but the tenacity, commitment, and creativity of Women of Vision have had an incredible impact at a difficult time to move anything in Washington.
The Senate version of the TVPRA current has 53 cosponsors (including original sponsor Senator Leahy), which is a tremendous accomplishment in the current political climate. There are few, if any, bills in the Senate that have as many cosponsors and such bipartisan support and this is because of your fantastic work. Almost everywhere there is a WOV chapter there is at least one cosponsor and many states have both. Since Women of Vision Lobby Day in March, there have been 19 new cosponsors, 7 from states with WOV chapters! Most recently, WOV chapters in Texas collaborated with their communities to bring Senator Hutchinson on as a cosponsor and WOV Chicago tirelessly worked with Senator Kirk’s office to ensure he was a cosponsor.
When Congress comes back into session they will have about six weeks to address the budget, sequestration (across the board budget cuts), and a host of other pressing issues that have been delayed due to partisan politics. We still want to reach 60 cosponsors in the Senate and increase the pressure on Senate leadership to bring the TVPRA to a vote. There are several ways the TVPRA could pass the Senate:
- The TVPRA is attached to another bill in the Senate that must be voted on.
- The TVPRA of 2008 is reauthorized as is, meaning none of the current changes are included. This scenario, though not ideal, would at least ensure funding for the next budgetary cycle and probably wouldn’t last more than two years.
- The TVPRA passes by itself as a “stand alone bill”. This is the least likely of the options but could happen.
Meanwhile, in the House, there is still no bipartisan bill. This will pose challenges for getting the TVPRA passed before the new Congress comes in January. It is possible that if the Senate passes a version with time to spare, the House could pass the Senate version if we can make the pressure on House members so high they cannot ignore it.
As you can probably tell, things are bit up in the air here but as events develop in Washington D.C. we will continue to update you. We aren’t giving up hope because our God is the God of the impossible. But we know that God’s time does not run on the Congressional calendar, it’s a much longer-term view. While we want the TVPRA to pass now, we want to work according to God’s plan and timing even more. Women of Vision has done incredible work this year, your commitment and persistence continue to inspire us. Please pray for the passage of the bill in the Senate and the House. If it fails to pass and has to be reintroduced next Congress, please pray for a spirit of bipartisanship and harmony to prevail for the good of men, women, and children who are enslaved around the world. Finally, pray for each other – that we would be tenacious, strong, and courageous in the face of inaction as we work to seek justice. Thank you for everything you are giving to this effort.
By Jessica Bousquette and Jesse Eaves, World Vision Advocacy