Florida’s Matt Gaetz Is One of 20 House Republicans To Vote Against Human Trafficking Bill: It Passed by 401 Votes to 20

Toby Hazlewood

What was his motivation?

It's been a busy few days for Florida's Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, and he's managed to ensure that he will remain in the headlines for a few more days. On July 26 he was one of just 20 House Republicans who voted against the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention & Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022.

Aside from one Democrat who abstained from voting, it was only Gaetz and the other 19 Republicans who voted against the bill, which seeks to prevent human trafficking and to help those who have been victims of the horrendous crime.

Cynical commentators on Twitter were quick to latch onto other potentially related details regarding Gaetz and his record when it comes to human trafficking:

  1. That in 2017 he was the only representative to vote against a human trafficking bill
  2. That he is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice for alleged human trafficking of a 17-year-old girl across state borders

Offensive comments in light of Roe V. Wade

His vote on July 26 follows Gaetz having spoken at the recent Turning Point USA conference in Florida on July 24. In his speech, Gaetz made offensive and insensitive remarks about abortion-rights protesters and recent reactions to the overturning of Roe V. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gaetz commented on the appearance of protesters:

"Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb."

Those comments have since been turned against him, by a 19-year-old abortion-rights campaigner from Houston, TX who launched a fundraising campaign for abortion-advocacy groups, citing that Gaetz had 'body-shamed' her.

Olivia Julianna's fundraiser has now raised over $50k - all thanks to Matt Gaetz!

Is he just courting controversy?

There seems to be a sense that if Gaetz didn't vote simply to protect his own liberty in light of the ongoing investigation, that perhaps he's willing to do whatever is necessary to keep himself in the public eye.

This may well hold true - at least in part - in relation to his 'No' vote on July 26. Another of the House Representatives to vote against the bill was Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor-Greene. She and Gaetz have often worked together on controversial initiatives that granted them publicity, occasionally for the wrong reasons.

Taylor-Greene and Gaetz get prankedTwitter of MeidasTouch

In 2021, the pair embarked on a tour of California but found themselves hindered when many venues on their 'America First' series of rallies chose to cancel their bookings. After this happened in Anaheim, they staged an impromptu meet-and-greet on the beach, where the pair were pranked by a man posing as a fan, who shared their encounter online.

Taylor-Greene also uses similar tactics as Gaetz to keep herself in the public eye. She recently voted against providing humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine in the wake of Russia's invasion.

It seems then that Republicans like Gaetz and the other 19 who voted against the human trafficking bill may well be motivated by more than doing what's right in the public interest (or even in line with their party's priorities). Their actions suggest that personal publicity and private interests are more important.

Do you think Matt Gaetz is more interested in voting based on his personal interests and what will give him most publicity, or is he genuinely trying to do the best for those he represents? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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