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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
Military Construction, The Department Of Veterans Affairs, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016—Motion To Proceed October 1, 2015
Richard Blumenthal, D-CT
"So I urge my colleagues to provide sufficient funding to restore that $857 million and to make sure that we meet those needs of our veterans. Failing to do so is as unacceptable as failing to meet the needs of the emergency responders who went to the 9/11 site. This bill underfunds the VA’s medical facilities by $100 million, reducing the VA’s ability to keep pace with the need for critical facility maintenance. This is upkeep that is vital for basic repair and maintenance. Facilities will decay and downgrade without that funding. It is an investment in basic infrastructure."
Hire More Heroes Act Of 2015—Continued September 22, 2015
Orrin Hatch, R-UT
"Second, valuing transient policy objectives over deeply held religious beliefs places citizens on the horns of an impossible dilemma: either obey God whose commands are eternal and unalterable or obey the state, which controls life, liberty, and property here on Earth. There are some who seek to equate religious liberties with other forms of liberty or to downgrade it to a form of “belief liberty.”"
Concurrent Resolution On The Budget, Fiscal Year 2016—Conference Report May 5, 2015
John Cornyn, R-TX
"When we vote on this budget today, it will be the first time both Chambers have actually voted for an agreed-upon spending bill since 2009. As I said earlier, it will be the first balanced 10-year budget since 2001, and that is despite 4 consecutive years of trillion-dollar deficits under President Obama—trillion-dollar deficits. Those deficits, as the chairman has appropriately pointed out, add up to debt, the deficit being the difference between what the government brings in and what it spends in a given year. Four years of consecutive trillion-dollar deficits has done grave damage to our national debt, with a downgrade in America’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s."
Accountability And Transformation: Tier Rankings In The Fight Against Human Trafficking April 23, 2015
Christopher Smith, R-NJ
"Mr. Speaker, I recently held a hearing on the importance of accountability in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report—the State Department’s biggest opportunity of the year to prod countries to fight human trafficking with greater effect, greater efficiency and greater effort. There are some twenty plus million people around the globe who live in sex or labor slavery today. When one hears such a figure—over twenty million people—one’s eyes begin to glaze over, as a number of such magnitude becomes an abstraction. There is a cynical saying, attributed to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, that “the death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” Stalin knew that many would shrug their shoulders and avert their gaze. But we must never allow such cynicism to obscure the fact that each of those twenty million persons is a human being with inherent, God-given dignity. Each one is a child that suffers from beatings and abuse, a woman raped, a man who labors in the field as a slave—all for the commercial gain of others. The annual Trafficking in Persons Report, required by the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Action of 2000 (TVPA)—legislation which I authored—ensures that countries making anti-trafficking efforts a priority are praised and supported, while countries that ignore the cries of the enslaved are justly shamed, and considered for sanctions. The success of the TIP Report and rankings is beyond anything we could have hoped for. From presidential suites and the halls of parliaments, to police stations in remote corners of the world, this report focuses anti-trafficking work in 187 countries on the pivotal principles of prevention of trafficking, prosecution of the traffickers, and protection of the victims. Each year the trafficking office at the Department of State evaluates whether a government of a country is fully compliant with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking or, if not, whether the government is making significant efforts to do so. The record is laid bare for the world to see and summarized in a tier rankings narrative. Tier 1 countries fully meet the minimum standards. Tier 2 countries do not meet the minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to do so. Tier 3 countries do not meet the standards and are not making significant efforts to do so—and, indeed, may be subject to sanctions. Over the last 14 years, more than 100 countries have enacted anti-trafficking laws, and many countries have taken other steps required to significantly raise their tier rankings. Some countries openly credit the TIP Report for their increased and effective anti-trafficking response and look to us for examples of how to do even better. Last year, for example, I was invited by the speaker of Peru’s unicameral congress to address legislators on how to protect victims of trafficking, meeting also with prosecutors, members of a multi-agency task force, victims and those who provide for victims. The Tier 2 Watch List was created in the 2003 TVPA reauthorization and I also authored to encourage good-faith anti-trafficking progress in a country that may have taken positive anti-trafficking steps late in the evaluation year. Unfortunately, some countries made a habit of last-minute efforts and failed to follow through year-after-year, effectively gaming the system. To protect the integrity of the tier system and ensure it works properly to inspire progress, Congress in 2008 created an automatic downgrade for any country that had been on a Tier 2 Watch List for 2 years but had not taken significant effort enough to move up a tier."
Human Trafficking Prioritization Act January 26, 2015
Christopher Smith, R-NJ
"In addition, the bill stops countries and other State Department bureaus from gaming the tier ranking system by limiting the time problem countries can use promises of action to avoid a tier downgrade."

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