House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday signed a bill designed to help fight human trafficking that contains a provision championed by Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. , a former nurse, that will help health care workers recognize when a patient is a trafficking victim.
The bill now goes to the president’s desk to be signed into law in upcoming days. It cleared the last legislative hurdle when the House of Representatives passed it on Tuesday.
Ellmers, who was on hand for the House signing ceremony, said afterward that the legislation, S178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, united members of both parties in both chambers of Congress.
The section of the bill that Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., got added would award grants to medical and nursing schools to develop ways to help health care workers be able to spot the signs of trafficking and intervene to help.
“One of the things we found out over time through research is many of the victims of human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, when they’re in need of health care, they are going to the same hospitals and clinics that the rest of us go to, in plain sight, and some of those signs and symptoms of being trafficked aren’t necessarily recognized,” Ellmers said.
Boehner, speaking at the ceremony, said the bill started “with a group of our members in the House working across the aisle to find common ground and the best ideas.”