Washington, DC – The House of Representatives this week approved several measures to support America’s military personnel and veterans trying to obtain their commercial driver’s license, and to prevent human trafficking on the Nation’s highways.
The House approved the following bills under suspension of the rules:
- S. 1393, the Jobs for Our Heroes Act (vote: 418 to 0)
- S. 1532, the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act (vote: 393 to 0)
- S. 1536, the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act (vote: 418 to 1)
All three bills now go the President for his signature.
“Our nation’s veterans are heroes and I’m honored to promote our bipartisan legislation that creates a pipeline of job opportunities for veterans in the trucking industry," said Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO). “The Jobs for Our Heroes Act is a commonsense solution to address ongoing concerns with workforce shortages in commercial trucking and unemployment in the veteran community. Equally as important, sex trafficking is a heinous and despicable act that requires a collaborative effort to combat. This week, we passed legislation that continues the offensive against these criminals.”
“Following our passage of the first surface transportation legislation in a decade in 2015, these provisions again show that transportation is perhaps the most bipartisan issue where we can work together,” said Highways and Transit Subcommittee Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). “Allowing current service members to use the skills they have learned serving our country to earn a decent living not only offers almost immediate support for them and their families, but helps our country overcome the chronic shortage of truck drivers. Fighting human trafficking has long been a bipartisan issue and we must confront it wherever it exists, especially on ours roads and in the trucking and transportation industry.”
S. 1393, the Jobs for Our Heroes Act, exempts current members of the armed services or reserve components from certain testing requirements for commercial driver’s licenses if they had qualifying experience while serving in the armed services or reserve components. The bill also expands the types of medical professionals at the Department of Veterans Affairs who could certify that veterans meet the physical standards required to operate commercial motor vehicles. The Senate legislation is a combination of two bills previously approved by the House in June: H.R. 2547, introduced by U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), and H.R. 2258, introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA).
“I’ve been honored to lead on this issue for our veterans returning to the civilian workforce, and I’m grateful to Chairman Shuster for his support and leadership in seeing this legislation across the finish line,” said Woodall. “These kinds of targeted solutions may not always make the front page news, but they sure do make a big difference in the lives of those affected.”
“This bipartisan package of commonsense reforms is going to play a critical role in making sure our service members can transition seamlessly to civilian life,” said Aguilar. “The ADVANCE Act will enable the brave men and women currently serving our country in uniform to get a head start on their post-military careers while also adding highly-skilled workers to a thriving industry in my community.”
S. 1532, the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, disqualifies individuals from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for their lifetime if they used a CMV to commit a felony involving human trafficking. Current law already prohibits an individual from operating a CMV if they are convicted of one of nine different crimes, including alcohol abuse, negligent manslaughter, and drug trafficking. This bill ensures the same prohibition in instances of human trafficking. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a companion bill by U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) in November.
“As a former organized crime prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand the horrors of human trafficking,” said Katko. “Human traffickers prey on our nation’s most vulnerable and use our interstate highway system to transport their victims. This legislation empowers the U.S. Department of Transportation and will enhance our local law enforcement to better prevent and combat human traffickers. I’m grateful for Chairman Shuster’s commitment to ending the crime of human trafficking, and I’m proud to pass out of the House this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help end this crime.”
S. 1536, the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, directs the Secretary of Transportation to designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator from within the Department, makes human trafficking prevention activities eligible for two FMCSA grant programs, and directs the Secretary to establish an advisory committee on human trafficking. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a companion bill by U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) in November.
“I’m proud that we were able to send these very important bills, which would protect the victims of horrible and inhumane crimes, to the president’s desk for his signature,” Esty said. “Our truckers are our eyes and ears on the road, which is why they’re often the best positioned to see when trafficking activities are occurring and report them to the authorities. I thank my Republican colleague Congressman Katko for his efforts on these important pieces of legislation.”