USDOT Highlights Anti-Human Trafficking Campaign

Buttigieg Promotes Stakeholder Programs, Initiatives
Capitol Agenda Eugene Mulero

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Anti-human trafficking efforts promoted by stakeholders across the different modes were recently highlighted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Secretary Pete Buttigieg pointed to the collaborative Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking. The safety campaign consists of initiatives carried out across the transportation system.

“The horrors of human trafficking are far reaching, but together, we have the power to detect and prevent them,” the secretary said Jan. 31. The department’s spotlight on the safety crisis coincided with National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, recognized in January.

“We’re empowering America’s transportation workforce and the traveling public — hundreds of millions strong — to be the eyes and ears of a collective effort to combat trafficking,” Buttigieg added.

According to background information from the department, the campaign “aims to educate and empower travelers and employees across all modes of transportation to recognize and report suspected instances of human trafficking.”

As part of the initiative, DOT outlined mode-specific indicators associated with human trafficking. For the trucking industry, indicators included: a work site with out-of-place excessive security measures; an out-of-place van or RV near a vicinity of trucks; a vehicle dropping off an individual by a truck and picking them up relatively soon; minors traveling without supervision.

Stakeholders, such as Truckers Against Trafficking and American Trucking Associations, provide resources to respond to the plight of trafficked individuals. ATA is part of the department’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative. These stakeholders participate and engage in training and education, policy development, public campaigns as well as networking forums.

Per Truckers Against Trafficking: “Members of the trucking, bus and energy industries are invaluable in the fight against this heinous crime. As the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, you are in a unique position to make a difference and close loopholes to traffickers who seek to exploit our transportation system for their personal gain.”

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers frequently aim to advance legislation that would assist in eradicating this societal problem. Most recently, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Bill Keating (D-Mass.) introduced the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act. The bill would seek to increase collaboration between the private sector and law enforcement to solve financial crimes linked to trafficking. Additionally, the bill would require the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council to enhance training and examination procedures to detect transactions related to human trafficking.

Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (left), Bill Keating

Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), left, and Bill Keating (D-Mass.) 

“Traffickers utilize the services of banks, credit card companies and money transfer businesses around the world to launder illegal funds. Our bipartisan End Banking for Human Traffickers Act would strengthen collaborative efforts to keep these criminals from being able to use the global financial apparatus for their heinous activities,” Fitzpatrick said Jan. 31. “I am grateful for Rep. Keating’s partnership in this critical effort to both halt traffickers’ access to financial institutions and the ability to exploit their victims.”

“The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act is vital legislation which will close loopholes and direct regulators to work with law enforcement to combat the use of the financial system by human traffickers,” Keating added. According to the International Labour Organization, in 2021 nearly 50 million people were living in modern forms of slavery.

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

Michael Whitaker


Feb. 6, 10 a.m.: The House Aviation Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “The State of American Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration.” FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker is scheduled to testify.

Feb. 8, 9 a.m.: The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee meets for a hearing titled, “The Financial Stability Oversight Council Annual Report to Congress.” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is scheduled to testify.

Feb. 8, 9:30 a.m.: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets for a hearing to examine the administration’s pause on liquefied natural gas export approvals and the Department of Energy’s process for assessing liquefied natural gas export applications. Watch the hearing here.

Freight Corridor

In Panama, blame it on the rain, or lack thereof.

Legislative Docket

The U.S. House last week gave bipartisan backing to a $79 billion tax policy bill specific to businesses, families and disaster-hit areas. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) led the passage of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act.

The bill is designed to invest billions of dollars in research and development operations across various sectors, such as freight and manufacturing. It would enhance take-home pay for certain workers and make adjustments specific to working families based on inflation. It also would update some employee retention tax credits and dedicate disaster tax relief for regions that experienced hurricanes, flooding and wildfires. The bill also would ensure residents affected by a 2023 freight rail derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, do not receive a large tax bill linked to compensation for their losses.

“This tax package is pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-American. Both the $600 billion of pro-growth tax incentives that benefit job creators and the structure and work requirements of the Child Tax Credit in this legislation were first signed into law by President [Donald] Trump,” Smith said after the House voted 357-70. “Last year, the Ways and Means Committee traveled the country and listened to small business owners and American workers about their ideas to make life better for themselves and their neighbors.”


A year after a freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, transportation leaders continue to press for passage of a safety bill.

“In the year since the East Palestine derailment, rail safety has headed in the wrong direction,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Commerce Committee. “The number of derailments since East Palestine has increased by over 13% while most railroads have failed to follow through on their simple commitment to join the Department of Transportation’s close-call reporting program.

"With over 80 million Americans living within 1 mile of a Class I railroad track, Congress must pass the Railway Safety Act to strengthen oversight over the railroads and get safety back on track.”

The bill is specific to policies at the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

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Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) on Jan. 31

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We publish Mondays when Congress is in session. See previous installments of Capitol Agenda here. Email with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

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