Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressman Cohen and Co-Sponsors Praise Passage of SOAR Act

February 26, 2018
Press Release
Grants would provide training for health professionals to spot signs of human trafficking

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) and co-sponsors Ann Wagner, Tony Cardenas and Adam Kinzinger praised passage of the Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Training Program (H.R. 767) today, a measure aimed at detecting ongoing human trafficking activity. The Representatives made the following statements:

“This bill is the result of an event I held at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis in 2016 to discuss and promote human trafficking awareness training, attended by first responders, health care workers, faith-based groups, educators and state and local government officials,” Congressman Cohen said.  “The energy, encouragement and support of those present inspired me to pursue this legislation.  The SOAR Act encourages those on the front lines, our health care professionals, to be alert to possible instances of human trafficking when victims appear in clinics or doctors’ offices for needed care.  The measure’s $4 million a year in training grants for health professionals to identify indicators of tell-tale signs signs of those who have been or are in captivity could end horrors for thousands of victims.”

“I was proud to lead this bipartisan effort with Congressman Cohen to strengthen protections against trafficking,” said Congresswoman Ann Wagner (MO-2). “Studies show that up to 9 in 10 victims had contact with a healthcare provider while being trafficked, which is why we must equip these providers with the tools they need on the front lines. The SOAR to Health and Wellness Act will finally do just that by helping our healthcare professionals better identify and respond to victims of trafficking.”

“As a Los Angeles City Councilman I saw first-hand the danger and heartbreak of human trafficking taking place in our own communities, right under our noses,” said Representative Tony Cardenas (CA-29). It made me think about how many lives we could save if we were just able to see the warning signs and knew what to do when we suspected somebody was in trouble. I am proud to say the House just passed a bill I worked hard on: the Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act. The SOAR Act will ensure that health professionals have the necessary tools to recognize and help victims of human trafficking among their patients. Though Los Angeles is making progress in eradicating this despicable trade, we still have so much work to do. I am grateful to my colleagues in the House for supporting the SOAR Act, and hope my Senate colleagues will pass it soon so we can save more lives.”

“It can be difficult to imagine, but human trafficking is happening here in the U.S., within our communities, and it affects all of us,” said Representative Adam Kinzinger (IL-16). “I’m proud to be a co-lead of the SOAR Act, and glad to see it pass through the House today with strong bipartisan support. This bill will raise awareness on human trafficking, educate communities on signs to look for, and ultimately help more victims across the country. The SOAR Act supports the training of healthcare workers to identify victims and best care for them through established protocols and procedures. I believe this pilot program will have a significant impact towards putting an end to this heinous crime, and I hope to see the Senate act on it soon.”

The bill passed by voice vote under a suspension of the rules.