Congressman Matt Gaetz explains his vote against human trafficking bill

Congressman Matt Gaetz explains his vote against human trafficking bill

A bill to combat human trafficking is headed for President Trump's desk. The legislation almost had unanimous support in Congress. Representative Matt Gaetz was the only vote against it.

The freshman congressman went on his Facebook page Thursday night and started a live video from his parent's home in Walton County to explain his reasoning.

"Where there's a necessity to change legal standard to bring prosecution against human traffickers, I'm all in and I've been very successful implementing that legislation in our state," Gaetz said.

The bill is titled "Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act." It appoints a person to serve as a coordinator to work with transportation agencies to implement trafficking prevention efforts on our roadways. It also creates a committee of stakeholders in trafficking advocacy organizations, law enforcement, and transportation.

Gaetz said the crime needs to be addressed, but believes we do not need another government committee to combat the problem.

"Voters in Northwest Florida did not send me to Washington to go and create more federal government," Gaetz said. "If anything, we should be abolishing a lot of the agencies on the federal level."

Michelle Jones, a victim's advocate, said she understands his argument, but said the potential payoff counters it.

"If it saves a life, then to me, it's worth it," Jones said.

Jones has seen firsthand what human trafficking does to a person. She is with Refuge for Woman Emerald Coast and helps find resources for survivors. Soon, she will have a shelter where they can recover. She believes the bill is a step in the right direction.

"As long as the demand is there, it's always going to be an issue," Jones said. "The transportation of the girls and the individuals that are, unfortunately, being sold, it's a hard to task at hand to stop that," Jones said.

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