Despite the constant partisan rhetoric that most see on cable news, the 115th Congress has been actively and effectively working to address many of the nation’s most pressing challenges. Two particular issues have found wide bipartisan consensus from both Republicans and Democrats: human trafficking and the growing opioid epidemic that has touched communities in every state.
Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes a person can commit. Forcing another human into labor, often in the form of compulsory sexual exploitation, should be recognized for what it is: modern-day slavery. According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking is now a $150 billion industry with over 20 million victims worldwide. For the sake of our own communities’ safety and the protection of our neighbors, we must recognize that America is not immune from these terrible crimes.
At the same time, the opioid crisis has plagued our communities and is claiming the lives of too many of our friends and loved ones. In fact, every day opioid overdoses claim the lives of more than 115 Americans. Much like human trafficking, a large portion of the activity, production assets and planning for the distribution of these drugs enters our country through the southern border via criminal organizations.
As representatives of two border states, California and Texas, and having built careers in law enforcement, we both have seen firsthand the need for stronger laws to combat threats, such as these, that harm our communities and our national security. Thankfully, we have found almost unanimous bipartisan agreement in both chambers of Congress that these issues are priorities that must be addressed.
Earlier this year, President Trump signed Chairman McCaul’s bill, H.R. 4708, the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Authorization Act, into law. This law will provide guidance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to help detect, intercept and stop human traffickers.
Additionally, the House passed Rep. Knight’s H.R. 5546, to authorize the use of certain Department of Defense (DoD) funds for combating opioid trafficking and abuse in the United States, with strong bipartisan support. This bill is expected to pass the Senate in the coming weeks and would allow DoD resources to be used to combat the international illegal drug trade.
These are just two of the many ways the 115th Congress is working hard to protect your families and defend your human rights. In an environment saturated with such heavy partisan rhetoric, it is important to remember the real accomplishments that are being achieved every day to help Americans.
Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, represents the 25th Congressional District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.