The House of Representatives passed two bills this week to address the use of the surface transportation network in human trafficking rings.
The House passed the Senate version of the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act by a 393-0 vote. U.S. Rep. John Katko, was the House sponsor of the bill.
The bill, which the Senate approved by unanimous consent in September, would prohibit individuals previously convicted of felony human trafficking offenses involving commercial vehicles from operating a commercial vehicle.
A similar provision is currently in place for commercial drivers who engage in felony drug trafficking offenses.
Katko, R-Camillus, introduced the legislation in September. He lauded the trucking industry for its support in combating human trafficking.
"Truck drivers are often a critical asset in helping law enforcement identify victims who otherwise might go unseen," he said. "However, an isolated few individuals have taken advantage of their position to illegally traffic innocent people. We must stop this from occurring."
The House passed another bill supported by Katko, the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, by a 418-1 vote. The legislation would require the U.S. transportation security to designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator within the Department of Transportation and form a human trafficking advisory committee.
Katko, a former federal prosecutor, said he saw the "horrors of human trafficking" while working in the U.S. attorney's office.
"Too often, human traffickers take advantage of our nation's transportation network to transport their victims from one location to the next," he said. "The U.S. Department of Transportation and the transportation industry play a critical role in preventing and stopping these heinous exploitations."
As of June, there were 4,460 human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. There have been 13,897 calls to the hotline this year.