HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed into law U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation—led alongside U.S. Representative Will Hurd (R-TX-23)—to combat Central American trafficking and smuggling networks and strengthen U.S. border security.
Specifically, Spanberger and Hurd’s Trafficking and Smuggling Intelligence Act directs the U.S. intelligence community to prioritize efforts to combat drug trafficking, human trafficking, and human smuggling networks in the Northern Triangle countries—Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—and Mexico. Additionally, it uses the expertise of the intelligence community to understand how these criminal organizations in the region contribute to the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Spanberger and Hurd—both former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officers—introduced the legislation in July 2019, and their legislation passed in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate as part of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this month.
“To tackle the security and humanitarian challenges at our southern border, we need to understand the root causes of instability, illegal migration, increased levels of asylum seekers, and senseless violence in Mexico and the Northern Triangle,” said Spanberger, a former federal law enforcement agent and CIA case officer. “As two former intelligence officers, Congressman Hurd and I recognize how the reprehensible activities of criminal organizations in this region create a devastating ripple effect that threatens our national security and exacerbates the ongoing humanitarian crisis along the U.S-Mexico border. At its core, our bipartisan legislation will deploy the expertise of the intelligence community to keep the American people safe and secure. I’d like to thank President Trump for signing our bill into law—and I’d like to thank Congressman Hurd for working across the aisle to protect vulnerable populations in Central America and for committing to strengthening the security of our borders and points of entry.”
“My philosophy is simple and has remained the same: the only way we get big things done in Congress is by working together. My bipartisan effort with Rep. Spanberger to stop drug smugglers exacerbating our border crisis and putting innocent lives at risk is the perfect example of that,” said Hurd. “I’m proud that this is my 16th piece of legislation to be signed in to law in 5 years, and I’ll continue to work with my colleagues in Congress over the next year to find solutions to big problems and deliver real results back home.”
During a speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. House in July 2019, Spanberger spoke in support of her amendment, and she described the range of impacts Central American trafficking and smuggling activities can have on the health and safety of American communities. Click here to watch her full remarks.
Spanberger has continued to advocate for smart, effective reforms to U.S. border security and immigration policies—and she has stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of increased migration. Earlier this year, she joined a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in passing a bipartisan emergency supplemental funding package to help mitigate the effects of the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. And later that month, Spanberger visited the southern border with a bipartisan group of her U.S. House colleagues.
Additionally, the FY2020 NDAA includes key provisions from Spanberger’s legislation to combat child pornography on government-associated networks, as well as her amendment to increase transparency in the use of military force in counterterrorism operations abroad. The defense authorization package signed into law yesterday includes key provisions of a bipartisan amendment introduced by Spanberger and U.S. Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC-11) to help the Department of Defense (DoD) stop the use of its affiliated internet networks to possess or obtain child pornography.
Specifically, the End National Defense (END) Network Abuse Act upgrades the training and technical capacity of military criminal investigative organizations to confront the misuse of DoD computers, facilities, and equipment to access and trade child pornography. Spanberger and Meadows introduced a standalone version of this bipartisan amendment earlier this year. In the U.S. Senate, the END Network Abuse Act is led by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).
The Spanberger-supported defense authorization bill includes additional provisions to strengthen support for U.S. servicemembers and their families, including:
- Giving American servicemembers the pay raise they deserve. The funding authorization includes a 3.1 percent pay raise for service men and women. This increase is equal to the pay raise requested by the President in his budget blueprint released earlier this year.
- Addressing unacceptable military housing conditions through increased oversight and accountability. The defense authorization bill requires the armed forces to establish a tenants’ bill for rights for residents in privatized military family housing. Additionally, the legislation directs the Defense Secretary to develop an assessment tool to identify and measure health and safety hazards in U.S. military housing around the world. Earlier this year, Spanberger helped introduce bipartisan legislation to increase accountability and oversight on private contractor-provided housing for military families.
- Providing paid parental leave for federal employees. The final, bipartisan NDAA includes 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal employees.