The past few months have been an emotional and turbulent one in the life of the Child Protection Compact Act. We went from walking to the Capitol building to celebrate the bill’s supposedly eminent passage, to a frantic rush to appease the Senators who held up the CPCA.
As we near the end of this Congress, we don’t have the outcome we desire — yet.
When Congress came back into session after the November elections, the Senate was set to unanimously approve the CPCA. It was then to go to the House of Representatives for their vote and then on to the President to sign the bill into law.
However, at the last minute, Senators Tom Coburn from Oklahoma and Jim DeMint from South Carolina opposed the bill. They said they would not support the bill until the bill’s sponsors (Senators Barbara Boxer and Sam Brownback) found money to pay for it by taking money from other programs. To be effective, the bill would have needed only $1 million in 2011. While we acknowledge and understand the senators’ legitimate concerns over federal spending, we also believe the U.S. should continue to be the global leader in the fight against slavery.
The staff persons for Senators Boxer and Brownback worked tirelessly to find a solution. Those efforts, combined with the hundreds of calls from around the country, softened the opposing senators’ positions, but not enough to get the bill passed. Finally, on December 17 I had a sobering call with Senator Boxer’s staff member who said they could not see any way to get the CPCA passed in this Congress, but they would keep trying until the clock ran out.
While we are still working to get the CPCA passed in this Congress, Senator Boxer is already planning to introduce the bill, first thing, in the next Congress. The bill can either be introduced by itself, or it can be folded into another law that we will be advocating for next year — the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The TVPRA is the cornerstone of U.S. anti-human trafficking policies and it must be “reauthorized” every few years.
Your voices brought together an unlikely coalition of senators and congresspersons from both sides of the political divide. You educated and united these leaders to pledge they would do more to help stop slavery.
As I reflect on the past year, I know that it is ONLY because of our collective voices that the CPCA made it this far. Many other well-deserving bills in Congress never even got to see the light of day.
In 2004, the Child Soldier Prevention Act was introduced in both houses of Congress. The bill was designed to prevent the U.S. from providing military aid to any country that used child soldiers in its national army. At the time, six out of the eight countries that used child soldiers received U.S. military support. Despite the urgent need, the bill never moved because no one knew it existed. It took four years, but after enough advocates called their elected leaders, the momentum grew until finally, in December 2008, the Child Soldier Prevention Act unanimously passed Congress.
So take heart. Our fight will continue and we would never have gotten this far without you. Your voices mattered and continue to matter. The only way true and lasting change occurs is through the dedication of individuals who stand up, endure set backs, and press on until they succeed.
If you look at the major social movements of the past 300 years, Christ-followers have been instrumental in bringing an end to injustices. The abolition movement of the 18th and 19th centuries; the women’s suffrage movement; the civil rights movement, the anti-apartheid movement — It was followers of Christ who helped organize and galvanize support for these causes and kept fighting.
So too shall we keep fighting in this modern-day abolition movement. As long as 27 million slaves continue to toil and suffer in bondage, I have no intention of letting up the fight. I hope you’ll join me. Remember Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Thank you all for your help and we will update you as soon as we know anything about the CPCA. In the meantime, keep calling. Keep raising your voices. Keep spreading the word that modern-day slavery exists, but we are here to stop it.