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WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Senate prepared to proceed with the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, several lawmakers took time to participate in an event meant to raise awareness about the horrors of human trafficking.
Trucking Cares Foundation, the charitable arm of American Trucking Associations, on Jan. 15 hosted its 2020 Hero Award at the Capitol Visitor Center. Awards were given to members of Congress active in the efforts to eliminate human trafficking in our country. Among them was Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine who has sponsored legislation meant to improve awareness and prevention about such trafficking, as well as increase penalties for perpetrators. The senator recently partnered with her colleague Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on legislation titled, “Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019.”
“We’ve done quite a bit, but much more remains to be done. We must not cease our efforts until we truly brought an end to human trafficking,” Collins, chairwoman of the chamber’s transportation funding panel, told the audience at the awards reception. “And, with your help, I believe that we can accomplish this goal.”
Other recipients included Collins’ Senate colleagues Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). House lawmakers honored included Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.).
In 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law a measure Katko sponsored that disqualifies commercial drivers found guilty of human trafficking. The law requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to ban professional drivers with felonies for using commercial vehicles to traffic individuals.
“Too often, human traffickers take advantage of our nation’s transportation network to transport their victims from one location to the next. Truck drivers are often a critical asset in helping law enforcement identify victims who otherwise might go unseen,” Katko said when the measure was enacted. “ However, an isolated few individuals have taken advantage of their position to illegally traffic innocent people.
“This measure will help us stop this from occurring, and I commend the president for recognizing the importance of addressing human trafficking and for signing this measure into law. While the vast majority of our nation’s truck drivers are hardworking, honest men and women, this bill is necessary to ensure that the select few who commit these crimes are brought to justice.”
The trucking industry has raised its profile in the fight against human trafficking. Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, ATA first vice chairman and CEO of Garner Transportation Group, took part in DOT’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking, which recently issued a report titled, “Combating Human Trafficking in the Transportation Sector.” She was on hand at the foundation’s awards reception.
“The legislators being recognized [Jan. 15] truly embody the recommendations that the Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking outlined in our report,” Garner Brumbaugh explained. “From providing top-level leadership, to raising national awareness, to advancing critical legislation, their tireless efforts — combined with the efforts of the trucking industry and other [nongovernmental organizations] — are what’s needed to eradicate trafficking and save countless lives from unspeakable evil.”
According to the International Labour Organization, more than 20 million people are trafficked worldwide, with about two-thirds of them forced to work.
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
Jan. 21, 1 p.m.: For the third time in the country’s history, the U.S. Senate will conduct a trial on the impeachment of a president. This latest instance features a GOP-led body with a slight majority tasked with considering the articles of impeachment approved by Democrats in leadership at the U.S. House of Representatives. If senators agree to the rules of the road proposed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the trial of President Donald Trump could wrap up prior to his State of the Union address next month.
Jan. 21, 2 p.m.: The Hill newspaper hosts a panel titled, “Mayors Matter: Deepening the Generational Compact in Communities.” participants include Rochester Hills, Mich., Mayor Bryan Barnett, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Jan. 23, 11 a.m.: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety will hold a news conference titled, “The 2020 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. Participants include Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association; Lee Fanshaw, federal government affairs director at American Family Insurance; Chris Olson, commander of the Oro Valley, Ariz., Police Department; and Jennifer Weaver, anti-distracted driving advocate.
Jan. 22-24, 8 a.m.: The U.S. Conference of Mayors comes to Washington for its 88th Winter meeting.
Jan. 24, 7 p.m.: Politics and Prose Bookstore hosts a discussion on, “American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power.”
The committee with jurisdiction over transportation affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to unveil details of a highway policy bill as early as the week of Jan. 27, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters. Her remarks signal the potential for reauthorizing a five-year highway law prior to its expiration this fall.
In Case You Missed It
Mayor Pete has proposed an infrastructure plan that stops short of proposing a long-term fix for the Highway Trust Fund. CityLab breaks it down. It’s a must read.
Upcoming consideration in the U.S. House of disaster relief funding for the Puerto Rican government comes as several residents of the island expressed outrage over undistributed emergency provisions, according to various reports. Last fall, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued the island’s infrastructure a “D-” grade.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a new leader in Pete Gaynor, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 14. Gaynor, who was Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Agency director, was touted by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) ahead of his confirmation.
“I have known and worked with Pete Gaynor for over a decade. I know he will tap his years of experience to serve the American people well,” said Reed, the top Democrat on the transportation funding committee. In recent months, officials from FEMA have touted the disaster mitigation program Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, or BRIC. As part of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, BRIC is meant to incentivize innovative infrastructure projects capable of withstanding the impact of severe weather events.
After winning the national title, the LSU Tigers football team visited the White House, where they were greeted by a high-energy President Trump. During a photo-op, POTUS offered an impromptu pontification about Washington politics.
Arizona Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and CNN’s Manu Raju participate in a very famous-for-D.C. episode after inadvertently producing a viral moment. Impeachment politics make for good #ThisTown theatre.
The question was perfectly reasonable and topical, politely asked, and Manu is respected on the Hill by Democrats and Republicans. https://t.co/efAawOfneO— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 16, 2020
The Last Word
I also defended O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow and Michael Milken and Mike Tyson.
Alan Dershowitz on CNN’s State of the Union, Jan. 19, 2020.
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