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January 15, 2020 7:15 PM, EST

Susan Collins, 7 Other Lawmakers Recognized for Combating Human Trafficking

Maine Sen. Susan Collins accepts Hero AwardFrom left: ATA First Vice Chairman Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, former ATA Chairman Phil Byrd, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and ATA President Chris Spear at ceremony honoring lawmakers. (Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics)

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WASHINGTON — Eight members of Congress who are leading efforts to eliminate human trafficking nationwide were recognized by the Trucking Cares Foundation during a reception on Capitol Hill on Jan. 15.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, a leader on the transportation funding panel, was among the recipients of the group’s Hero Award. Over the years, the senator has sponsored legislation targeting online outlets that reportedly provided a forum that critics said had facilitated sex trafficking. Most recently, Collins partnered with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) on a bill titled, “Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019.”

“Every state in America is affected by this evil,” Collins said at an awards presentation hosted by the foundation. “We must not seize our efforts until we truly [have] brought an end to human trafficking.”

The bipartisan measure would facilitate training to assist with identifying instances of trafficking.

“The programs reauthorized by this bill are critical in helping homeless youth stay off the street and find stable, sustainable housing. I look forward to working with Sen. Leahy to move this bill through the Senate and House so that the president can sign it into law,” the senator said in a statement last year.

Chris Spear, president of American Trucking Associations, said: “Our industry is very vast, very large, and very involved in communities across the country. It’s also uniquely positioned on issues like trafficking. We have 7.5 million employees-strong throughout the U.S.” Spear also referred to Collins as a “leading Senate Republican advocate on this issue for many, many years.”

Besides Collins, other Hero Award recipients were Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). From the U.S. House, recipients included Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.).

The Trucking Cares Foundation is ATA’s charitable arm. Foundation Chairman Phil Byrd, CEO of Bulldog HiWay Express and former ATA chairman, emphasized the industry’s role on the matter.

“Beyond serving on the front lines, our industry can help raise awareness by recognizing those partners in government who provide the tools and resources we need to fight the good fight. The 2020 Hero Award does just that, and we thank these members of Congress for their commitment to this important cause,” Byrd said.

“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 [non-governmental organizations] — are what’s needed to eradicate trafficking and save countless lives from unspeakable evil,” added Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, ATA First Vice Chairman, and CEO of Garner Transportation Group.

Garner Brumbaugh was a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking. Last year, the committee issued a report to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao titled, “Combating Human Trafficking in the Transportation Sector.”

“The committee hopes that the best practices and recommendations within this report will foster increased collaboration between public and private transportation stakeholders, encourage transportation organizations to adopt comprehensive counter-trafficking strategies, catalyze an expansion in mode-specific and survivor-informed training and awareness materials, galvanize improved data collection to measure the collective impact of transportation sector counter-trafficking efforts, and inspire widespread information-sharing,” according to the report.

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