Congress sends anti-trafficking bill to Obama

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House approved long-awaited legislation on Tuesday to combat human trafficking, sending it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act will expand law enforcement tools to target sex traffickers, create a new fund to help victims, and define child pornography production as a form of trafficking. Obama is expected to sign it.

The 420-3 vote happened with little fanfare or debate, a quiet finale for a bill that provoked weeks of partisan dissent in the Senate and held up the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as attorney general.

The dispute in the Senate focused on whether money in the new fund could be spent to pay for abortions. In the end senators resolved it by structuring the fund to reassure Republicans that abortion funding restrictions were being followed — and Democrats that they were not being expanded.

The House went along, approving the bill as it had passed the Senate.

"Drugs are only sold once, but minor children can be, and are, prostituted multiple times a day, every day," House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said on the floor late Monday ahead of the vote. "It is time for Congress to send a clear message that we won't stand for this."

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