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Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Mr. Obama’s executive order borrows heavily from bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate and does not expand the criminal code to encompass slavery for work performed outside of the U.S.

While it cracks down on contractors with the U.S. government, it also does nothing to address violators who receive government grants, Mr. Issa added.

“If [Mr. Obama] is going to find time to go before the cameras and the international community to announce a half-measure policy, President Obama owes it to victims of human trafficking to commit himself to personally engage in the legislative effort to enact actual changes to the criminal statutes,” Mr. Issa said in a statement.

Mr. Issa credited Rep. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, with leading the legislative effort in Congress to strengthen the law and for holding hearings he said expose a lack of administration action to enforce existing laws.

Mr. Lankford’s legislation passed the House as part of the Defense Authorization Act earlier this year. The Senate has a companion bill co-sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, and Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, among others.