Chairman Rockefeller's Opening Remarks for Nominations Hearing

May 19, 2009

I would like to welcome everyone here today, and express my regret for not being in attendance. I wish to congratulate all of the nominees standing before the Committee today.  It is a true honor to be selected by the President for these incredibly important positions.

If confirmed, you will lead our country’s investment in communications networks, the advancement of science and technology policy, the promotion of transportation mobility, and the modernization of our air system. 

The bar is high, the challenges great, and the expectations abundant.

Mr. Strickling, the position for which you have been nominated is not new, but it is newly significant. Communications technology holds great promise for our nation and our children.   From managing the home stretch of the digital television transition, to distributing the $4.7 billion set aside for stimulating broadband deployment in the recovery package, to navigating issues of Internet governance, NTIA will have substantial powers – and substantial responsibilities. 

Mr. Chopra, you have been nominated to serve as an Associate Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  President Obama has also appointed you Chief Technology Officer – a new position that he promised to create.  In this dual role, you will immediately face both challenges and opportunities.  From nanotechnology to health IT, I am confident that your vast experience and technical knowledge will allow you to coordinate key players to develop a comprehensive response to the needs of our increasingly technology driven nation.  

Mr. Porcari, if confirmed, you will be charged with balancing the needs of all of the Department of Transportation’s agencies and making sure that our transportation system is safe, efficient, and sustainable.  You will also face the task of efficiently implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including the high-speed rail grants programs. If enacted, the Federal Surface Transportation Policy and Planning Act of 2009, which I introduced last week, will place significant responsibility on the Secretary of Transportation to establish a national surface transportation policy that works for our 21st century needs. 

Mr. Babbitt, the Administrator of the FAA is a challenging job and strong leadership in this role is long overdue.  From the modernization of the air traffic control system to safety concerns raised by the recent crash of Flight 3704, there are many challenges awaiting your attention.  But judging from your background, it is my sincere hope that you are up to the task. 

Ms. Blank, your position as Undersecretary for Economic Affairs at the Department of Commerce places you squarely in the crosshairs of one of this Administration's most important tasks.  Conducting the 2010 Census is one of the largest undertakings the federal government executes whether in peacetime or in war.   Your outstanding credentials and experience give me great comfort that the Census is in excellent hands.

I look forward to hearing everyone’s testimony and I will work with my colleagues to facilitate a quick confirmation process – there is much important work to do – let’s get started.

Thank you again.