In the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50 last month, law enforcement officials found 42 potential human trafficking victims through a series of stings. At least two were under the age of 18, according to CBS San Francisco news affiliate 5KPIX. Human trafficking is a fast-growing global issue with a reach that impacts every state in the country. In 2012, the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, or ILO, estimated that there are 21 million victims of human trafficking all across the world, forced into labor or commercial sex work. Experts suggest it is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world—just behind the international drug trade—netting an estimated $150 billion each year, according to the ILO.
With a short-term reauthorization set to expire March 31, the U.S. House Transportation Committee took the first step in getting long-term funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, off the ground. On Feb. 11, the committee passed a bill that would extend funding for the FAA until 2022, and also increase funding for airport infrastructure, privatize air traffic control and integrate drones into American airspace. The big question, however, is whether the bill will survive.
America has seen its way through the Great Recession and, through sacrifice and hard work, has turned its economy around. That was President Obama’s message when he submitted his proposed budget to Congress Feb. 9, requesting $4.23 trillion in spending authority for the 2017 fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1. While acknowledging the country’s progress in building a stronger economy in recent years, Obama proposed a variety of new initiatives to address challenges that loom ahead for the nation—providing tuition-free access to community colleges, building a more energy efficient transportation system, strengthening the country’s cybersecurity resources, combating opioid addiction and others.
On Feb. 2, Obama unveiled a $1.1 billion funding proposal to help states fight the growing tide of drug abuse. The proposal includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand treatment access for substance abusers. More than 90 percent of the $1 billion will support cooperative agreements with states to expand medication-assisted treatment options or to make already existing services more affordable. Federal funding will be allocated to states based on the severity of the crisis and the feasibility of the states’ plans for responding to it.
Winter Storm Jonas swept through Washington, D.C., last week leaving behind icy roads and a quiet city. Due to the storm, which left 250,000 people without power and may end up costing the U.S. economy more than $1 billion according to several media reports, major legislative action was stalled on Capitol Hill. The House of Representatives cancelled all legislative activity last week, and the Senate returned on Wednesday to continue debate on a bipartisan energy reform bill.
Following on the heels of an active December that saw Congress avoid a government shutdown, extend tax breaks for Americans and pass education reform, there is hope that President Obama and Congress will carry this unexpected span of bipartisanship into 2016. Although impossible to know with certainty which issues will be tackled, criminal justice reform could be on the list.
On Jan. 12, President Obama delivered his last State of the Union address. Expressing a hopeful tone, the president urged Americans and those in Congress to tone down the growing rancor and suspicion between Republicans and Democrats in order to strive for a brighter future
The U.S. recently concluded a free trade agreement with countries along the Pacific Rim. It’s the largest and most ambitious free trade agreement of its kind and is estimated to generate thousands of new jobs in America.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a multilateral trade agreement with 11 other nations: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These nations collectively have a market size of nearly 800 million consumers and account for nearly 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.
Federal lawmakers are nearing the end of the year with many outstanding issues left on the congressional wish list. Priority centers around a spending bill to fund the federal government past mid-December. Other important issues being discussed include reforms to and reauthorizations of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Highway Trust Fund, Export-Import Bank and special tax credits and tax breaks, known as tax extenders, for certain groups and individuals.
The world took a collective gasp at a deadly and coordinated terrorist strike in Paris, France, Nov. 13. Initial reports suggested that one of the terrorists was an asylum seeker fleeing Syria who had entered Europe through Greece, though the Syrian passport found near his remains was later deemed to be a fake. With more than a hundred dead in Paris, state leaders have had mixed reactions on what the proper response should be towards refugee resettlement in America.