Twenty Republicans on Wednesday voted against legislation that would reauthorize programs to combat human trafficking.
The bill, called the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022, passed the House by a tally of 401-20. It first became law in 2000 and saw almost no opposition from either party at the time.
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is reportedly himself under federal investigation for sex trafficking allegations involving a minor, was among the GOP members who voted “no” on the bill.
Gaetz was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying for her travel, The New York Times first reported in March 2021. The Florida congressman has denied any wrongdoing and suggested to the Times that the investigation is part of a scheme to extort him and his family.
In May 2021, the congressman’s former friend — disgraced former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg — pleaded guilty in federal court to six of the 33 counts on which he’d been indicted, including sex trafficking.
Gaetz has not been charged with anything. According to a statement released by his office, Gaetz voted against the bill due to its definition of “human trafficking” and its cost.
“The government’s failure to accurately and specifically define human trafficking allows this legislation to act as a backdoor loophole for illegal immigration and amnesty,” Joel Valdez, a spokesman for Gaetz, told USA TODAY. “The bill also costs over half a billion dollars to implement and gives more taxpayer money to overfunded, inefficient grant programs.”
The other Republicans to join Gaetz in voting against the anti-trafficking bill were:
- Rep. Brian Babin of Texas
- Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona
- Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado
- Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama
- Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado
- Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia
- Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas
- Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona
- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia
- Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland
- Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia
- Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky
- Rep. Tom McClintock of California
- Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois
- Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas
- Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina
- Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania
- Rep. Chip Roy of Texas
- Rep. Vann Taylor of Texas