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H.R. 1625, Targeted Rewards for the Global Eradication of Human Trafficking, or the “TARGET” Act

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Monday, May 22, 2017, the House will consider H.R. 1625, the TARGET Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 1625 was introduced on March 20, 2017, by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which ordered the bill reported, by unanimous consent, on May 3, 2017.


Summary

H.R. 1625 amends the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to authorize the State Department and law enforcement agencies to target international human traffickers by offering financial rewards for their arrest or conviction.  The Department currently has a rewards program that uses appropriated funds to offer cash awards to deter transnational organized crime.   The legislation broadens the program to explicitly include severe forms of human trafficking.


Background

The Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program was established by Congress in 2013 as a tool to assist the U.S. Government to identify and bring to justice members of significant transnational criminal organizations. The program gives the Secretary of State statutory authority to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of members of transnational criminal organizations who operate outside the United States. [1]

The program complements the Narcotics Rewards Program by authorizing rewards for information on members of transnational criminal organizations involved in activities beyond drug trafficking that threaten national security. This includes human trafficking, money laundering, and trafficking in arms and other illicit goods.[2]

Any proposals to pay rewards are submitted to the Department of State by the Chief of Mission at a U.S. Embassy at the behest of a U.S. law enforcement agency. Reward proposals are carefully reviewed by an interagency committee, which makes a recommendation for a reward payment to the Secretary of State. Only the Secretary of State has the authority to determine if a reward should be paid. In cases where there is federal criminal jurisdiction, the Secretary must obtain the concurrence of the Attorney General.[3]

According to the bill’s sponsor, Human trafficking is increasingly perpetrated by organized, sophisticated criminal enterprises, and profits from this illicit industry contribute to the expansion of organized crime and even terrorism in the United States and worldwide.  That is why combating human trafficking requires a global approach to identify and apprehend the world’s worst offenders.  The TARGET Act specifically authorizes the State Department and law enforcement to target international human traffickers by offering rewards for their arrest or conviction – anywhere on earth.”[4]


Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the department could offer individual awards of up to $1 million to $2 million under the bill, but there is no basis for estimating whether the department would offer awards and for how much.  Enacting H.R. 1625 would not affect direct spending or revenues, and would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.


Staff Contact

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.

 

[1] See U.S. Department of State, Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] See Chairman Royce’s Press Release, May 3, 2017

115th Congress