THE HILL

Byline: Cristina Marcos

The House adopted a proposal on Tuesday to increase funding for programs that provide services to victims of human trafficking.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) offered an amendment to the annual appropriations bill for the Departments of Justice and Commerce funnels $17.3 million originally set aside for periodic census programs toward services for trafficking victims. It passed easily on a voice vote.

Poe’s amendment brings the total allocation for victims services grants to $43 million, which is in line with current spending levels.

“It’s not time for us to lower the amount of money we have for grants that will assist victims of this scourge,” Poe said. 

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Justice and Commerce Departments, supported the amendment but noted funding for carrying out the American Community Survey would have to be found elsewhere. The ongoing survey samples select parts of the population every year.

“I don’t want us to assume that the periodic census dollars are not important, however, and are not part of the constitutionally mandated census. They are part of the 2020 preparations. We’ll have to deal with that in some other way,” Fattah said.

The House sent long-stalled legislation to President Obama’s desk last month that creates a fund for victims of human trafficking.

The spending bill is being considered under a process that allows members to offer an unlimited number of amendments. The House is expected to debate further amendments to the measure late into the night Tuesday.