WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today delivered the following remarks during a hearing on progress in the global fight to end modern slavery. The hearing featured testimony from Ambassador John Richmond, heard of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Natalie Grant, a singer-songwriter and the co-founder of Hope for Justice, a nonprofit devoted to ending modern slavery; and Shawna Bader-Blau, the executive director of the Solidarity Center, a workers’ rights organization focused on eliminating forced labor.
“Today, we will once again shine a light on the global fight to end modern slavery.
“This could be my last legislative hearing as chairman, and of all of the work that we have done together on this committee, the fight against modern slavery stands out.
“I am proud that Senator Menendez and I worked to pass legislation with the entire committee establishing the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery that has finally launched a truly global effort to end it, with major contributions from the United States, the United Kingdom, and now private donors and others.
“I will say that amount has now reached over $110 million dollars in a global, public-private partnership, something that I think this committee and our country should be very proud of.
“All of the senators on this committee have helped to lead this work, and we are hopeful that what we have done will make a big difference in the lives of so many people who suffer in bondage throughout the world.
“As I turn the gavel over to my successor here in the next few weeks, I only ask that you all continue to carry on this fight with us and those who are appearing before us today on this committee.
“And I know John is very committed to this effort and has been involved personally for many, many years in the same effort.
“Our time this morning will be short. We have another commitment at 11 o’clock. I know that Senator Menendez and I both want to be there before it begins for many reasons, and so we will probably cut this hearing a little bit short to make sure that occurs.
“We have two distinguished panels.
“We welcome first Ambassador John Richmond, who was just sworn in by Secretary Pompeo as our new Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
“Again, we thank you for your commitment to this effort for a lifetime and what you are bringing to this office.
“We are thankful for the important role you will play in ensuring continued U.S. leadership to eliminate slavery wherever it is occurring around the world.
“Our second panel, we are pleased to welcome Natalie Grant and Shawna Bader-Blau.
“As one of our state’s most talented singer songwriters, Natalie needs no introduction, except to say that as part of her personal calling, she has been a tireless leader in the battle against modern slavery.
“Shawna, equally, has been a powerful voice for workers’ rights and in the movement to end all forms of modern slavery, especially forced labor.”
In 2015, Corker proposed a bold, bipartisan initiative to end modern slavery worldwide that became law in 2016 and now operates as the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS). The GFEMS is designed to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize tremendous support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to fund projects and organizations around the world working to end modern slavery where it is most prevalent. With support from the administration, the U.S. made a $25 million contribution to the fund in 2017, which was soon after matched by the United Kingdom.
Click here for complete testimony and video footage from the hearing.