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Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor today on the House’s anti-human trafficking and exploitation legislation.

Full remarks are below, or watch online here.

“Mr. Speaker, they didn’t list her name in the report, and that makes sense. It all happened before she even reached the age of 16.  So to protect her identity, they call her Tonya. She ran away from home and ended up living with a man they called Eddie. Eddie was the stepdad of one of her classmates. Tonya and Eddie started a relationship. Tonya felt that she really loved him. Eddie took advantage of that, and he pressured her into a life no child should have to live.

“Tonya was saved in large part by luck. A tip to the police led to action by a federal special agent. And now Eddie is behind bars finishing the second year of his twelve-year prison sentence. Meanwhile, Tonya is just trying to return to a normal life.

“Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say this story wasn’t true, that these fictitious names didn’t reflect hard reality. I wish I could say it was isolated. I wish I could say that this type of thing doesn’t happen here in America. But it does. It repeats itself with different details, many even more disturbing than Tonya’s story, in towns and cities across our nation. And it’s not just sex trafficking. It’s forced labor. It’s exploitation. It’s slavery. And every single instance cries out against the moral truth written on every human heart.

Now, the numbers are staggering. 20.9 million people are trafficked globally. Of that number, over a quarter are children. The majority are pressed to work for little to no wages. 4.5 million of these people are victims of forced sexual exploitation.

Here in America, there were 7,572 cases of human trafficking reported in 2016. That’s an increase of 35 percent just of the year before. My home state of California is particularly dire. Of all the cases in the nation, 1,323 come from California.

“Though we need no explanation for why we’re passing anti-trafficking and exploitation legislation today, I think it helps that we understand the magnitude of this evil.

“We have, in this body, voted on eleven bills so far. Today, we will vote on two more by Susan Brooks and Mike Johnson. Altogether, these bills address many aspects of this problem: international trafficking, recording and transmission of child pornography, abuse uncovered on the U.S. Olympics Teams, the handling of trauma cases in our justice system.

“Now, I don’t believe that these bills alone will end human trafficking or exploitation in and of themselves. But they will help.  They’ll help prevent these crimes. They’ll help the victims recover. And they’ll bring us closer to a world where every person, especially those who need us most, won’t be abused, but will be truly loved.