Construction Industry News

Nelson Urges Administration to Act on Fee Refunds for Delayed Bags

WASHINGTON, DC - More than a year after Congress passed a law requiring airlines to issue prompt fee refunds for delayed bags, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) wants to know why it’s taking so long for the administration to act.

In a letter sent today to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Nelson called on her to immediately issue rules needed to carry out the law.

“As we enter the heart of the summer travel season, each further day of delay causes substantial consumer harm,” Nelson wrote.  “I urge you to act now to give the flying public the protections they were promised in last year’s FAA extension.”

The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act, which passed Congress and was signed into law in July 2016, gave the Department of Transportation (DOT) one year to develop rules requiring fee refunds for delayed luggage and mandated a review of airline family seating policies.   Specifically, the law required DOT to adopt rules requiring the airlines to issue prompt baggage fee refunds when checked luggage is not delivered within 12 hours after the arrival of a domestic flight or 15 hours after the arrival of an international flight.  Additionally, it mandated that DOT review current airline policies on family seating and, if appropriate, require them to seat families with children under the age of 13 together. 

According to DOT statistics cited by Nelson, the top 13 U.S. airlines collected at least $4.2 billion last year in baggage fees – resulting in passengers being charged as much as $11.4 million per day in bag fees.  

Below is the text of Nelson’s letter to Secretary Chao.  

 

July 20, 2017

 

The Honorable Elaine C. Chao

Secretary

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave., SW

Washington, DC 20590

 

Dear Secretary Chao:

            I write today regarding the status of regulations that were due by July 16, 2017, implementing two critical aviation consumer protections contained in last year’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) extension.

            As you know, the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 passed Congress last year with broad bipartisan support.  In addition to extending the FAA’s operating authority for one year, the bill also contained two provisions designed to help commercial air travelers.  The first provision (Section 2305) generally required automated refunds for any baggage fees when checked luggage is not delivered within 12 hours after the arrival of a domestic flight or 15 hours after the arrival of an international flight.  The second provision (section 2309) directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to review and, if appropriate, establish policies directing air carriers to seat children 13 or under adjacent to the seat of an accompanying family member over the age of 13.  

            By statute, the DOT was required to take final action on both of these regulations no later than one year after enactment of the bill – or July 16, 2017.  Unfortunately, neither regulation has been finalized by the deadline.

            As we enter the heart of the summer travel season, each further day of delay causes substantial consumer harm.  According to DOT statistics, in 2016, the top 13 U.S. carriers collected almost $4.2 billion in ancillary baggage fees.  This works out to approximately $11.4 million in checked baggage fees per day.  And, even assuming that only two percent of paid checked baggage is not delivered within the deadlines, that amounts to almost $229,000 in refunds that consumers are not receiving every day this rule is delayed.

            Furthermore, the failure to promulgate the family seating regulation also causes substantial consumer harm.  This summer, almost all flights are completely full.  When a family is not able to obtain adjoining seating for children 13 or under, it causes undue stress and discomfort as family members are often forced to beg other passengers to move so they can sit next to a young child. 

            In recent months, the DOT has spent a substantial amount of time on issues, such as privatization of the FAA’s air traffic control function, that appear to be taking away resources from statutory mandates – like these important aviation consumer protection requirements.   I urge you to act now to give the flying public the protections they were promised in last year’s FAA extension.

            Thank you in advance for your assistance with this important matter.

 

Sincerely, 

BILL NELSON

<p>Good morning.&nbsp; Today the

Good morning.  Today the Subcommittee meets for an update on FirstNet and its efforts to deploy the nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.  I am glad to convene this hearing with my good friend and colleague Ranking Member Schatz.

In 2012, Congress created the First Responder Network Authority to lead the development of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network in the United States.  Following the communications failures that plagued recovery efforts during 9/11, and other national emergencies, including Hurricane Katrina, there was – and still is – a clear need for a reliable communications network to support the essential work of our public safety officials.  Such a network would improve coordination among first responders across multiple jurisdictions and enhance the ability of first responders to provide life-saving emergency services quickly.  

Last year, this Subcommittee convened for an update on FirstNet’s progress in establishing the public safety broadband network.  At the time, we heard from FirstNet about how it intended to address the unique and individualized needs of each state in deploying the radio access network.  FirstNet also reiterated its commitment to providing reliable coverage to rural areas.  FirstNet assured members of the Subcommittee that user fees would be reasonably and affordably priced for public safety users – two issues of great importance to first responders around the country.

Since that time, much has happened. 

  • Last November, FirstNet opened an Innovation and Test Lab to develop and test new devices and applications that could be used by first responders on the future public safety network.  
  • In March, FirstNet formally selected AT&T as its industry partner to build, operate, and maintain the network over the next 25 years. 
  • And last month, FirstNet issued the initial state plans, which detail its deployment proposals for the radio access network in each of the 56 U.S. states and territories.  States are now reviewing these plans and providing feedback to FirstNet and AT&T before the finalized plans are issued in the fall.

Today, I look forward to hearing more about each of these actions.  I am eager to learn about FirstNet and AT&T’s network buildout plans and how they will leverage existing infrastructure assets within states to maximize coverage in rural areas and save taxpayer dollars.  I hope our witnesses will also address the development of subscription pricing plans for public safety officials to use the network and how those plans are being developed in coordination with the states.  

Likewise, I look forward to hearing about the resiliency of the network: in particular, how FirstNet and AT&T will harden and secure it from potential cyber threats, natural disasters, and other unplanned events.  Additionally, I am interested in how FirstNet and AT&T will incorporate feedback from the states before the initial plans are finalized.

By any estimation, the development of this nationwide public safety broadband network is a challenge.  But it is an important endeavor to ensure that first responders can fulfill their daily mission to save lives.  At the center of this effort is the courage of our nation’s first responders, who put their lives on the line every day – in Mississippi and across the nation – to protect our families, neighborhoods, and communities.  They deserve a network that is interoperable, reliable, and secure.

An Update on FirstNet

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled “An Update on FirstNet” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The subcommittee will examine FirstNet and AT&T’s progress to date and the anticipated timeline to build, operate, and maintain an interoperable nationwide public safety broadband network as established by the Middle Class Tax Relief And Job Creation Act of 2012.
 
Witnesses:

•    Mr. Curtis Brown, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Commonwealth of Virginia
•    Dr. Damon Darsey, Assistant Professor, University of Mississippi Medical Center
•    Mr. Mark Goldstein, Physical Issues Director, Government Accountability Office
•    Mr. Michael Poth, Chief Executive Officer, FirstNet
•    Mr. Chris Sambar, Senior Vice President, AT&T
 
Hearing Details:

Thursday, July 20, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
 

Committee Announces Hearing for Four Nominees

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nomination hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, for four nominees.

Nomination Hearing - FCC

Click to view livestream.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

The committee has before it today all three nominees to the Federal Communications Commission.  As we well know, the commission plays a vital role in protecting consumers and competition, and we should carefully review the qualifications to carry out this role of all persons nominated to serve as commissioners to this agency.

For Jessica Rosenworcel, it has been a long and winding road – when in reality she should already be well into her second term on the agency.  I want to thank you for your patience, perseverance, and your continued willingness to serve the public on the commission.  Your expertise, good judgement, and dedication to the public interest are essential.

Mr. Carr, congratulations on your nomination. It seems clear that you are well liked and well regarded by the communications bar. 

But the two consecutive terms to which the Senate is being asked to confirm you would provide you with the longest single, initial period of service of any nominee to the FCC.  In addition, it is hard to recall a similar situation where someone was nominated to serve at the commission alongside, rather than to follow, their current boss. 

We must have commissioners with an independent voice at this critical independent regulatory agency and ones who will fight for consumers and the public interest. 

That is why I will urge my colleagues to take a particularly hard look at confirming Mr. Carr to two consecutive terms.  It seems to me that the wiser course would be to hold this hearing, consider his qualifications, and, if he is confirmed, see how he does over the next year or two before confirming him to an additional term at the top of this agency. 

Finally, let me welcome back Chairman Pai.  You have been busy since your last appearance.  I want to give you due credit for many of the actions the FCC took at its open meeting last week.  They included several solid, pro-consumer actions aimed at improving the lives of Americans.

But make no mistake, many view these most recent consumer protection actions as mere icing on what is otherwise an unpalatable cake. 

A cake constructed out of actions that eliminate competitive protections, that threaten dangerous industry consolidation, that make the internet less free and less open, and that weaken critical consumer protections for those most vulnerable.  I cautioned you earlier this year that I would judge your success at the agency on your ability to put the public interest ahead of powerful special interests.  And I fear, frankly, that so far you have not taken that advice I provided many months ago to heart.

Ultimately, we need commissioners who have consumers’ backs. We need commissioners who are not afraid to use the robust statutory authority Congress has given the FCC to protect consumers.  On behalf of those consumers, this committee will be watching your actions – and those of your colleagues – very closely.

<p>Today we welcome three well

Today we welcome three well-qualified nominees to testify before the Committee as we consider their nominations to serve as commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  I’d also like to welcome the families of the nominees who are here today.

While this is a confirmation hearing, given the issues we’ll be discussing and the extensive experience of the nominees, it will also serve as this Committee’s second FCC oversight hearing this year, fulfilling a commitment I’ve made to hold regular, biannual oversight hearings of the Commission.

It would be hard to imagine a group of nominees more well-versed in the agency they’ve been nominated to lead.

Ajit Pai, who has been renominated to a second term by President Trump, and was designated by the President to be the Chairman of the FCC this past January, has served as a Commissioner since 2012, when he was confirmed by voice vote in the Senate.  Prior to becoming a commissioner, Chairman Pai worked on telecommunications policy in both the public and private sectors, notably serving here in the Senate as a staffer on the Judiciary Committee, as well as in the general counsel’s office at the FCC.

Jessica Rosenworcel, who has also been renominated by President Trump for a second term at the FCC, is well known to the Committee and has nearly two decades of experience in communications policy.  She served as an FCC commissioner from May 2012 until January 2017, and before that, served as a senior staffer on the Commerce Committee for both Chairman Rockefeller and Chairman Inouye.

Brendan Carr, who is currently the FCC’s General Counsel, has worked at the Commission for a number of years, first in the office that he now heads and more recently as lead advisor to then-Commissioner Pai on wireless and public safety issues.  He previously worked in private practice for Wiley Rein in the firm’s appellate, litigation, and telecom practices.

In my view, the FCC will be in very good hands when all three of these nominees are confirmed.

Since becoming Chairman, Mr. Pai has made much-needed reforms to improve transparency at the FCC and to improve the agency’s processes.  I am particularly heartened by Chairman Pai’s efforts to treat fellow commissioners fairly by instituting the process of sharing documents with other commissioners before discussing them publicly, as well as starting a pilot project to publicly release the text of all agenda items in advance of Commission meetings.  I frequently criticized the previous chairman’s hyper-partisan leadership approach on these issues because I believed it would lead to counter-productive outcomes over the long term.  Chairman Pai’s new approach should lead to more long-lasting and positive results at the FCC.

With respect to internet regulations, I am pleased that Chairman Pai has sought to hit the reset button on the 2015 Title II Order, because, as I have previously said, the FCC should do what is necessary to rebalance the agency’s regulatory posture under current law.  I continue to believe, however, that the best way to provide long-term protections for the internet is for Congress to pass bipartisan legislation.  Two and a half years ago I put forward legislative principles and a draft bill to begin the conversation, and I stand ready and willing today to work toward finding a lasting legislative solution that will resolve the dispute over net neutrality once and for all.

Thankfully, the net neutrality debate has not distracted the FCC from important work in other areas.  For instance, the FCC’s proposed rulemaking on robocalls is a positive step in the right direction.  The government must do everything we can to protect consumers from those who are truly the bad actors, which is one reason why this committee has advanced Senator Nelson’s anti-spoofing legislation.  But we also need to be sure the government’s rules are not unfairly punishing legitimate callers who are not acting maliciously.  The FCC’s Notice of Inquiry will give that conversation a much-needed jumpstart.

Given the FCC’s importance to the future of our economy and our society, it is important for the Commission to seek opportunities for common ground.  As I noted last fall, the previous chairman unfortunately led the Commission with unprecedented partisan zeal.  I know that agreement is not always possible.  Nevertheless, as a corrective to the Commission’s recent history, I urge you all to treat each other fairly, to respect the law, to be willing to ask Congress for guidance, and to seek consensus whenever and wherever possible.  Doing so will improve the agency’s credibility and will result in actions that are more likely to endure.

Before I close, I want to extend my thanks to Chairman Pai for visiting my home state of South Dakota last month, as well as the emphasis the agency has placed on bridging the digital divide for rural states like mine where many are still without broadband service.  The actions the agency has taken to advance the long-delayed second phases of both the Mobility Fund and the Connect America Fund will go a long way to ensure millions of Americans living in rural states will have access to an increasingly important service.  I deeply appreciate it, and I also want to take the opportunity to invite Ms. Rosenworcel and Mr. Carr to visit South Dakota as well.

Thank you all for your willingness to serve the nation in these important positions, and thanks again to your families for supporting your service.  As I’ve indicated, I support all three of these nominees, and look forward to confirming them quickly.  With that, I now turn to the distinguished ranking member for any remarks he would like to make.

Report Recommends Restoring Gulf Coast Passenger Rail Service

WASHINGTON - The Gulf Coast Working Group released a report to Congress last night that recommended restoring daily round trip Amtrak train service between New Orleans and Orlando.

The working group, which outlined a number of steps that would have to be taken before service is restored, cited the potential for expanded tourism and business travel along with improved access to jobs, education and healthcare among the reasons it recommended restoring the route.

Amtrak service between New Orleans and Orlando was suspended in 2005 due to significant damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

“This report makes clear the need to restore passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast and provides a path to get us there,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who helped create the working group Congress approved as part of the FAST Act in 2015.  “While there’s lots of work ahead, this service will not only help us meet the future transportation needs of the region but could also be a boon for tourism and the local economy. “

 

Report Recommends Restoration of Gulf Coast Passenger Rail Service

WASHINGTON - The Gulf Coast Working Group released a report to Congress last night that recommended restoring daily round trip Amtrak train service between New Orleans and Orlando.

The working group, which outlined a number of steps that would have to be taken before service is restored, cited the potential for expanded tourism and business travel along with improved access to jobs, education and healthcare among the reasons it recommended restoring the route.

Amtrak service between New Orleans and Orlando was suspended in 2005 due to significant damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

“This report makes clear the need to restore passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast and provides a path to get us there,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who helped create the working group Congress approved as part of the FAST Act in 2015.  “While there’s lots of work ahead, this service will not only help us meet the future transportation needs of the region but could also be a boon for tourism and the local economy. “

Click here for a copy of the report.

Thune and Wyden Urge President to Prioritize Digital Trade in NAFTA Re-Negotiation

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, urged President Donald J. Trump to prioritize digital trade in a renegotiated NAFTA and “set the highest possible bar” for the internet’s economic potential.

Thune and Markey Applaud FCC for Exploring Solutions to Unwanted Robocalls and Robotexts

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that became law in 1991, commended the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for exploring solutions to unwanted robocalls and robotexts by creating and making available to callers a comprehensive database of reassigned telephone number

Subcommittee to Examine Progress of FirstNet Emergency Response Network

The subcommittee will examine FirstNet and AT&T’s progress to date and the anticipated timeline to build, operate, and maintain an interoperable nationwide public safety broadband network as established by the Middle Class Tax Relief And Job Creation Act of 2012.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

In 2010, Kay Bailey Hutchison and I joined together to set NASA’s human space flight program on its current “dual path” – where we are working to build private sector capabilities in Earth orbit and a government-led program for deep space and ultimately Mars.

That dual path approach is now bearing fruit. We’ve recaptured a significant portion of the global commercial launch market and we’re seeing launch prices coming down for NASA and for the Department of Defense. We are building the rocket and capsule that will take us deeper into space than we’ve ever been before. And we are seeing a dramatic transformation of the Kennedy Space Center where all of this is taking shape.

It has been my great pleasure to work with Mr. Bob Cabana, and with other leaders in government and industry, to bring this transformation about, and the exciting thing is we’re just getting started.

At Kennedy Space Center, the beating heart of Florida’s Space Coast, Bob leads one of the most dedicated and talented workforces in the country. It is a workforce that poured their hearts and souls into the Space Shuttle and Space Station.  It is a workforce that is now building new vehicles like Dragon, Starliner, and Orion, and who are transforming the Kennedy Space Center and the whole area around Cape Canaveral for the next era of civil and commercial space missions. 

One of the most visible and exciting examples of the transformation at the Cape is at Pad A, where SpaceX, under a public-private partnership, has taken responsibility for a historic launch complex that NASA was not using and could not afford to maintain.  SpaceX is using that launch complex to get supplies to the International Space Station, to launch national security missions, and to perform commercial launches that just a few years ago would have gone to Russian or European companies. Next year, they will be launching crew to the International Space Station.

Just down the beach from Pad A, United Launch Alliance will also be launching crew to ISS in Boeing’s Starliner Capsule.

And soon they’re going to have even more company.  In 2015, Bob and I worked together to help close the deal between NASA, the Air Force, Space Florida, and Blue Origin for development of Blue Origin’s new orbital launch site at the Kennedy Space Center. Today, the company is nearing the completion of its more than 630,000-square foot manufacturing facility at Kennedy Space Center's Exploration Park where Blue Origin will build its New Glenn rockets.

All of this activity is complementing ongoing work like the assembly of Orion, which was made possible by a public-private partnership with Lockheed Martin to renovate the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Facility.  

So, as I said, we are just getting started, and I am going to continue to work with Bob and his counterpart at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, General Monteith, to ensure that we continue to improve operating conditions and capabilities for commercial users of the range, and look at ways to make the spaceport more competitive for new commercial spaceflight activities. As a matter of fact, I’m happy to report that in this year’s defense authorization, I inserted provisions to help improve the launch infrastructure at the range and to accelerate the Air Force’s adoption of reusable launch vehicles like the Falcon 9.

And, Mr. Ellis, I would add we certainly have a spot for launching your company’s rockets at the Cape as well. I’d love for Relativity Space to come be a part of the community that folks are beginning to call the Silicon Valley of the Space Business.

So, I want to thank the witnesses for coming today and thank you, Senator Cruz, for calling this hearing on this very important and timely topic. 

Thune, Klobuchar, and Nelson Introduce Bills to Combat Human Trafficking

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced S. 1532, the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act and S. 1536, the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, of which all three senators introducing the legislation are members, also held a hearing today to explore the role of transportation providers in combating human trafficking.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing.

Human trafficking is a horrific crime.   

It is a widespread problem that requires us to put all solutions on the table.  

Today, we will look at how transportation, technology and the supply chain can help prevent and respond to incidents of human trafficking.

In Florida, we unfortunately know the consequences of human trafficking all too well.

According to the human trafficking hotline, Florida ranks third in the country for the number of cases reported in 2016.

The Florida Department of Children and Families also said Florida received more than 1,800 reports alleging human trafficking.

That’s a 54 percent increase over the year before.

These statistics are shocking.

But the stories of victims are even worse.

Especially when we look at the fact that many victims of trafficking are women and children.

Minors may be targeted because they have run away from home or have substance abuse problems.

The traffickers promise these kids all kinds of things – money, clothes, drugs, housing – and they have no idea the price they will have to pay.

Since the traffickers prey on the desperate and the vulnerable and they seek out places where people won’t notice, it can be very difficult to intervene.

Help can sometimes come from unusual places.

I’ll give you an example. 

A Florida truck driver was traveling through Virginia two years ago.

At a gas station, he saw an old RV that stuck out and noticed suspicious behavior that made him concerned for a minor female in the RV. 

He immediately called the police.

Later he learned that the woman he spotted was a trafficking victim.

She had been coerced from Iowa, held against her will, and subjected to torture and sexual assault.

His quick thinking and attention to suspicious behavior saved her life.

Groups like Truckers Against Trafficking train truck drivers to spot signs of trafficking and report these concerns to the human trafficking hotline.

Last Congress, the FAA bill included a provision, which Senator Klobuchar championed, to require that all flight attendants receive training on how to recognize and respond to potential human trafficking. 

This Congress, I joined Chairman Thune and Senator Klobuchar on legislation to improve our response to trafficking in the transportation sector by increasing awareness, expanding training, and providing a new penalty to discourage human trafficking.

I thank all of our witnesses for being here today, especially Mr. Lares, who traveled from Florida to speak on the work he does to combat human trafficking in the Orlando area. 

Committee Announces Nomination Hearing for FCC Commissioners

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nomination hearing at 10:00 a.m. in Dirksen G50 on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, to consider the nominations of three appointments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

<p>Good morning. Thank you all for

Good morning. Thank you all for being here.  HyuhToday, we will hear from some remarkable leaders working on the ground to combat human trafficking and help victims.

Human Trafficking is a heinous crime that often hides in plain sight.  The coercion that traffickers use to manipulate victims is not just happening overseas; it occurs right here in the United States. 

As the National Human Trafficking Hotline details, cases of human trafficking are annually reported in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. 

It is estimated that human trafficking is a $150 billion-dollar industry globally. 

Our hearing today will explore the role of transportation providers, who are fighting the growth of trafficking in the United States, and their ongoing efforts to reduce forced labor in the global economy.

Our witnesses have been asked to testify about the challenges and successful strategies in combatting this horrible crime.

Human trafficking takes on many different forms and the perpetrators use a variety of tools to recruit and control their victims.  Victims of human trafficking are often lured with false promises of well-paying jobs, stability, or education.  Others are manipulated by people they trust. 

Because the ways in which humans are exploited differ greatly, the responses needed to disrupt and eradicate trafficking also differ.  Solutions involve cooperation among industry, the government, and NGOs.  No single entity can tackle this problem alone.

In the Senate, my colleagues Senators Cornyn, Grassley, and Klobuchar have been working on legislation, including the Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017, which increases the scope of training, targets organized perpetrators, and improves the national strategy to combat human trafficking.  As a cosponsor of this legislation, I hope to see it move quickly through the Senate. 

Our Committee also plays a role in helping to solve this problem.  The FAA Extension Act, signed into law last year, included a provision requiring enhanced training for flight attendants to recognize and respond to potential human trafficking victims.

Just this week, Senator Klobuchar and I plan to introduce complementary bills that would create a lifetime ban for Commercial Driver’s License holders convicted of a crime related to human trafficking and improve education and outreach efforts regarding trafficking prevention within the transportation sector.  I anticipate that both of these measures will be on the Committee’s next markup agenda.

As we’ll hear from our witnesses today, greater knowledge, understanding, and awareness are essential for any forward movement in combatting this crime.

Ms. Goetsch from Truckers Against Trafficking will discuss her group’s work to educate, equip, and mobilize the trucking industry to combat trafficking as part of their regular jobs.

As consumers, many of us are unaware of potential victims who may come knocking on our door.  As Ms. Sorenson from Polaris will testify, these victims can often be found in traveling sales crews, domestic work, and commercial cleaning services, just to name a few.

We also may not realize that forced labor might have been used to harness the seafood we regularly enjoy.  Mr. Goswami will testify about the Issara Institute’s efforts to assist those who are trapped at sea and oftentimes working without food or pay.  He will discuss Issara’s efforts to work with corporate partners who want to ensure their supply chain, not only for seafood but for all of the goods they sell, is free from forced labor.

There is also some significant work being done on the ground in my home state of South Dakota.  Organizations such as Call to Freedom and Pathfinder are working to identify gaps in services for human trafficking victims and provide housing and support for victims to regain their lives and independence. 

Other organizations in my state, such as Native Hope, are on the ground working to educate and expand awareness during large events in South Dakota.  They are also working with state and tribal law enforcement to assist vulnerable communities often targeted for trafficking.   I commend the efforts of these organizations and their leaders.

I am encouraged by the partnerships and innovative solutions that our witnesses will highlight today. 

Thank you all for being here and for the advocacy and work you are engaged in.  I will now turn to Ranking Member Nelson for his opening statement. 

Subcommittee to Examine Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Space Exploration

The subcommittee will examine partnerships between the U.S. government and commercial space industry to advance space exploration.

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