As ordered reported by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
on June 26, 2014
H.R. 2283 would change the status of the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) from an office to a bureau. It also would reduce the number of years certain countries could spend on a special watch list to evaluate their efforts to combat trafficking in persons. CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2015-2019 period, assuming the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
The TIP office currently has a staff of 40 employees; under section 4, it would become the department’s smallest bureau. The bill would not create a new Assistant Secretary position to lead the bureau, nor would it authorize any other increase in personnel or additional appropriations. Section 5 would require the department to report to the Congress on its current Assistant Secretary positions and whether it intends to use one of those positions for the new bureau. Based on information from the department that it would be able to upgrade the office to a bureau without any significant increase in employees or spending, and assuming the availability of appropriated funds, CBO estimates that implementing sections 4 and 5 would cost less than $500,000 over the 2015-2019 period.
The TIP office produces an annual report categorizing countries based on their efforts to comply with certain standards and reduce trafficking. Countries that merit special scrutiny are placed on a watch list. If those countries have not improved within four years they are downgraded and may be penalized by restricting their access to nonhumanitarian aid and exchange programs. Under section 6, countries that have been downgraded and subsequently return to the watch list would have only one year (rather than the four years under current law) to show sustained improvement, before being once again subject to penalties. Under the bill, more countries might face those restrictions or countries might face those restrictions more frequently. However, CBO has no basis for estimating how many countries would be affected and whether any assistance or exchange programs would be restricted; thus, CBO cannot estimate the budgetary effects of implementing this provision.