Fact Check

Was Matt Gaetz the Lone 'No' Vote on 2017 Anti-Human Trafficking Bill?

As U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz faced a Justice Department investigation, his past voting record came under fresh scrutiny. 

Published May 15, 2021

 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz was the lone “nay” vote against the 2017 Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act.

Gaetz was the lone "no" vote on the bill, however, seven Republicans and five Democrats in the House did not cast any vote for the 2017 Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act. It passed by unanimous consent in the Senate.

In March 2021, The New York Times reported that U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida was under investigation for whether he had violated federal sex trafficking laws that make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. Gaetz allegedly paid for a 17-year-old girl to travel with him around two years prior. The bombshell report drew scrutiny of Gaetz' past, including his voting record.

For example, one meme shared on Twitter highlighted the potentially ironic fact that Gaetz had been the sole "no" vote on a "Sex Trafficking Bill" in 2017.

The quotes in the meme from the New York Post and Northwest Florida Daily News were accurate.

In 2017, Gaetz was the sole “nay” vote on an anti-human trafficking bill in 2017, however, it should be noted that 12 House representatives including Democrats and Republicans did not vote. The Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act (S.1536) designated a trafficking prevention coordinator at the Department of Transportation and created a committee for states and transportation groups to develop best practices on combating human trafficking.

Gaetz’ vote can be seen on Govtrack.

He defended his vote in a Facebook live video in December 2017, saying, “Unless there is an overwhelming, compelling reason that our existing agencies in the federal government can't handle that problem, I vote no because voters in Northwest Florida did not send me to Washington to go and create more federal government. If anything, we should be abolishing a lot of the agencies at the federal level like the Department of Education, like the EPA and sending that power back to our state governments."

The bill ultimately passed and was signed into law by then-U.S. President Donald Trump in January 2018.

Given that Gaetz’ "no" vote was well-documented by various sources, we rate this claim as “True.”

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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