WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces an executive session scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. in 253 Russell Senate Office Building. Please note, an overflow room will be available in 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
The following legislation and nominations were scheduled for the Commerce Committee’s consideration:
- S. 50, Commercial Seafood Consumer Protection Act
- S. 179, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Boundary Modification and Protection
- S. 183, Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act
- S. 911, Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act
- S. 962, a bill to reauthorize the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Act to promote the protection of the resources of the Northwest Straits, and for other purposes
- Nomination for Promotion in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps
- Nominations for Promotion in the U.S. Coast Guard
Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for webcast hearings, should contact Collenne Wider at 202-224-5511 at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.
Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IVU.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Good morning, and welcome to today’s executive session. We have some very important bills on the agenda, and I know my colleagues will spend time speaking about them. I’m going to use my time to talk about one: S. 911, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act. As I’ve made clear, passing this bill is my top priority this year. This bill marries smart spectrum policy with good public policy. It is a bipartisan, commonsense bill that will give our first responders the tools they need to do their jobs.
I am grateful to have a terrific partner—Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison—in this effort. We worked together, we made changes, and we’ve come up with a strong bipartisan bill that, hopefully, we will report out of this Committee today and move to the Senate floor.
I am also grateful for the support of the first responder community. I see many in the audience today. They want this bill passed as much as I do. Here’s why: This bill will give them the wireless resources they need to do their jobs and keep us safe. This bill will help prevent the kind of communications failures that occurred during rescue efforts at Ground Zero on 9/11.
On that terrible September day, first responders perished because they could not communicate with each other. They were using conflicting radio equipment operating on different bandwidths and frequencies. Calls were dropped. Critical on-the-ground information wasn’t relayed.
Four years later during Hurricane Katrina, rescue workers across the nation faced the same dangerous problem. They had to resort to running handwritten notes to warn of changing conditions. This is a travesty. And it’s one we have an opportunity to start correcting today.
We can bring first responders’ communications capability into the 21st century. We can give them the ability to share and disseminate information quickly, including fingerprints, floor plans of burning buildings and photos and videos, instantly. This is the same capacity many teenagers have on their smartphones today.
Now, I know several of my colleagues have amendments they’d like to offer. We will vote on these amendments. But I would urge everyone today to not lose track of the big picture—and the main point of this bill—which is to give first responders the tools they need to do their jobs.
We have an historic opportunity to get this done before the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The legislative clock is not forgiving. I hope my colleagues will join me in reporting this bill out of Committee today and moving it to the Senate floor.
So with that, I will turn to Senator Hutchison. Thank you all very much.