John D. Rockefeller, IVSenator
Chairman Rockefeller Opening Statement
- GOV. GARY LOCKE NOMINATION HEARING TO BE U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE -
Good Morning, I want to welcome everyone to our hearing on the nomination of Governor Gary Locke to be the nation’s 36th Secretary of Commerce.
I am not sure if you all have noticed, but there has been a fair bit of discussion lately about who will be the next Secretary of Commerce --- and I am very proud to say that Governor Locke is the perfect choice for this extremely important job.
Governor Locke, you have been asked to lead at a time of enormous challenge, but also a time of enormous opportunity.
You all are probably well aware of Governor Locke’s incredibly impressive biography and his deep commitment to public service but it certainly bears some highlighting.
Governor Locke was elected Washington’s 21st governor in 1996, making him the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history. He spent his first six years in one of Seattle’s public housing projects for families of World War II veterans. He worked in his father’s grocery store, became an Eagle Scout and graduated with honors before moving on to Yale University. After receiving his law degree from Boston University, he worked for several years as a deputy prosecutor focusing on felony crimes. He was later elected to the Washington State House of Representatives and served as chief executive of King County.
Now, why am I going through Governor Locke’s biography in such detail?
Because I know that the job of Commerce Secretary is undeniably crucial to the improvement of our economy. And during these challenging times, the American people must have an understanding of the person who will be at the helm of reinvigorating our communities from the bottom up.
The people deserve to know that the person working with Congress and this committee every day, to determine the best way to reboot this economy, is a person who – simply put – gets it.
Governor Locke gets it.
He understands what is happening on Main Street. He was a governor. He is a civil servant. He is a man with his finger on the pulse of what direction America must head toward in generations to come.
I think people are often very surprised to hear the vast jurisdiction of this Committee. And I think people are equally surprised by the expansive influence the Department of Commerce has on people’s lives.
The Department is charged with promoting job creation, improving living standards by promoting economic growth, increasing competitiveness, issuing patents and trademarks, and helping to set industrial standards.
This is no small job. And there will be challenges.
Governor Locke, to name only a few specifics, if you are confirmed, you will immediately begin to tackle:
· The successful national transition to digital television.
· Management of the Census.
· The allocation of $4.7 billion in needed broadband funds to expand service to millions of people.
· Engagement on Climate Change.
· Amplification of Science and Technology to significantly increase U.S. competitiveness and innovation.
The list goes on.
I think we can all agree that the Commerce Secretary is one very big job in one of most crucial times in the history of the American economy.
We need someone who wakes up every day thinking about what is best for working families.
Governor Locke will represent the interests of the people with honor.
I know he will ensure American workers can prosper, our businesses can thrive, and the economy can grow.
We need to move quickly on this nomination because there is important work to be done and not a moment to waste.
Let’s get moving.
Kay Bailey HutchisonSenator
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
I am very pleased that you’re holding this hearing and agree with you that we need to proceed through this nomination because it is such an important position and there are so many areas in which the Department of Commerce must function and function well. The expansive jurisdiction covering such matters as NOAA, international trade, and our domestic telecommunications infrastructure are of immediate interest and we did give $17 billion in budgetary authority for fiscal year 2009 to the Department of Commerce to carry out these missions. There are a number of challenges and I look forward to hearing from you about how you will manage them.
First is the census. There has been a lot of discussion, as you are aware, about the oversight of the 2010 census and I have concerns about reports that the Administration might insert itself into the management of the census. I believe the process must remain transparent and non-politicized and when I met with you earlier this month we talked about that and I was pleased to hear your position that the census will stay in the Department of Commerce and it will be handled on a professional basis and I will ask you about that for the record to assure that we are on the same wavelength, which I believe we are, from my conversation with you.
DTV is a huge undertaking and this committee with the leadership of the Chairman, actually extended the deadline from February to June. However, we cannot extend that deadline again. The NTIA has been given additional funding and the number of consumers on the waitlist to receive coupons has diminished, but there are still many out there and I will certainly want to see how you plan to run the NTIA to assure that DTV is ready to transition in June because it would be wrong to extend that deadline again.
Science and Technology. Investments in Science and Technology will be extremely important in helping our nation’s economic recovery. We need to invest in basic scientific research, math, and science education. One area that I hope to talk to you about is the issue of research efforts in the area of weather modification and storm mitigation. I am particularly interested in your views because NOAA and the National Weather Service will be very much a part of that in your department. You also have moved the Commerce Department to deliver more than $4 billion in broadband grants across the country. Broadband, as we all know, is a key building block for new business and jobs, but we must ensure that the broadband policies focus on both urban and rural America and offer solutions for both. The Department must also continue to work with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to ensure that the Internet remains a secure space in which commerce can flourish nationally and internationally.
Other issues. In my home state of Texas, we rely very heavily on weather, making sure that we know what the predictions are, what track of a hurricane is. We are also the home to significant oil, gas, and other energy infrastructure, maritime commerce, all vital to our nation and all very much affected by the Department of Commerce. For example, when Hurricane Ike hit the Texas and Louisiana coasts last September, NOAA’s advanced warnings clearly minimized the loss of life and its many response teams helped to re-open our ports and coastal infrastructure to commerce. It was incredible to see what NOAA did and what the Weather Service did, tracking that hurricane from five days out and hitting it almost on the dot, where it would land. What we didn’t predict was the surge, which really caused the damage, both there and in Katrina. So that’s an issue that we’re going to have to address. So, there are so many things that affect our country that are in your department. I think you have acquitted yourself very well during this time since your nomination and you have a very strong record as governor and I look forward to working with the Chairman to expedite your nomination, barring any unforeseen questions or answers, or anything that we haven’t learned yet. Everything I’ve seen is very good. I thank you very much and I look forward to working with you in all these areas.
The Honorable Patty MurrayUnited States SenatorWashington
The Honorable Maria CantwellUnited States SenatorWashington
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Gary F. LockeSecretaryU.S. Department of Commerce