Matt Gaetz, 19 Other Republicans Vote Against Bill Targeting Human Trafficking

The measure passed despite the opposition of Gaetz, who has been scandalized by a federal sex-trafficking investigation involving a 17-year-old girl.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has been embroiled in a federal sex-trafficking investigation, on Wednesday joined 19 other Republicans in voting against a House bill targeting human trafficking.

The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022, aimed at protecting survivors of human trafficking and providing funds for programs fighting the crime, passed the House with 401 votes. All Democrats, except for one who abstained, supported the legislation. Gaetz and 19 other Republicans voted against the bill, while eight GOP members abstained.

The legislation calls for granting $1.1 billion over five years to fund programs that came about through the implementation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, according to The Hill.

Gaetz took issue with the bill’s definition of “human trafficking” and its cost, spokesperson Joel Valdez told USA Today.

“The government’s failure to accurately and specifically define human trafficking allows this legislation to act as a backdoor loophole for illegal immigration and amnesty,” Valdez said. “The bill also costs over half a billion dollars to implement and gives more taxpayer money to overfunded, inefficient grant programs.”

Gaetz, a hard-right, election-denying Donald Trump enthusiast, has for months been under the cloud of a federal sex-trafficking investigation into whether he paid women for sex across state lines and committed the statutory rape of a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz hasn’t been charged and has steadfastly denied wrongdoing, claiming that he and his father were the victims of extortion, according to The New York Times.

Marc Short, chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, on Monday torched Gaetz, saying he would be surprised if Gaetz wasn’t in prison by 2024, after Gaetz told an audience of conservative students Pence would never be president.

“I don’t think Matt Gaetz will have an impact on that,” Short told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “But In fact, I’d be surprised if he was still voting. It’s more likely he’ll be in prison for child sex trafficking by 2024. And I’m actually surprised that Florida law enforcement still allows him to speak to teenage conferences like that. So I’m not too worried about Matt Gaetz, thanks.”

Gaetz has also come under fire for making misogynistic comments and for calling women who attend abortion-rights rallies “ugly.” This week, he body-shamed a teenager who called him out over his statements.

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