In an address to the Clinton Global Initiative this week, President Barack Obama announced that he has issued an executive order to strengthen prohibitions against human trafficking in government contracting.
Sadly, the United States has become complicit in the horrendous crime of modern-day slavery through the actions of subcontractors working for the State Department to supply workers to embassies in global trouble spots. Those subcontractors are known to lure foreign workers with false promises and then trap them into servitude at American facilities.
The order is based on legislation authored by U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond, which has already passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support and awaits a vote in the Senate.
While Obama’s actions are a nice gesture, Lankford said the problem “can’t be solved through an executive order.” In a meeting with The Oklahoman editorial board, he noted roughly 20 previous executive orders on the topic haven’t ended the problem. By nature, those orders are temporary; statutory changes have more effect. Lankford’s bill would require that U.S. government contracting include worker protections provided even in some Third World countries to prevent human trafficking.
If Obama had pressured Senate leadership to schedule a vote on his bill, Lankford noted, the president “could have had a big bill signing today” instead of announcing a mere order. Lankford’s bill is tentatively scheduled for a Senate vote in a November lame-duck session. Here’s hoping the president’s dedication to this issue extends beyond the desire for one day’s headline.