WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at 12:30 p.m. to consider transportation safety related nominations. Senator Claire McCaskill will chair.
Please note the hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website. Refresh the Commerce Committee homepage 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to automatically begin streaming the webcast.
Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for the webcast hearing, should contact Stephanie Gamache at 202-224-5511 at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.
Ranking Member John R ThuneMonje -Thune QFRs.pdf (30.07 KB)Dinh-Zarr QFR response Thune.pdf (144.48 KB)Rosekind - Thune QFRs.pdf (47.96 KB)
“Thank you, Senator McCaskill, for agreeing to chair this hearing to consider the nominations of Mark Rosekind to be the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Bella Dinh-Zarr to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and Carlos Monje to be Assistant Secretary of Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. I appreciate the willingness of these nominees to serve the nation in these important roles.
“As I stated at our hearing last month regarding faulty Takata air bags, the string of recalls this year has been cause for grave concern. We are on pace to have the all-time worst year for auto recalls in U.S. history, with roughly 56 million vehicles being subject to recalls so far. In many of these cases, there are legitimate questions about whether NHTSA should have identified the defective products earlier and communicated more effectively with the public. That is why Dr. Rosekind will face substantial challenges at NHTSA, should he be confirmed. Since the start of the year, I called on President Obama to nominate a qualified individual to lead NHTSA without delay because inaction sends a terrible signal to the regulated community and the American people about automobile safety and oversight.
“In March of this year, over eight months ago, as the nation began to fully realize the severity of the problems at General Motors with regard to certain ignition switch defects, I wrote a letter to the President calling on him to nominate a new administrator for NHTSA as quickly as possible. I never received a response. In September, I sent a second letter to the President, stressing the urgency for NHTSA to have a Senate-confirmed leader as the agency dealt with the GM recalls, as well as serious allegations that information had been withheld from the agency by GM. In September, Senators Heller and McCaskill, the leaders of our Consumer Protection Subcommittee that oversees NHTSA, also both called on the President to nominate a new NHTSA administrator without delay.
“Unfortunately, President Obama didn’t formally nominate a new NHTSA administrator until the evening before this Committee's hearing on Takata air bags on November 20th. By contrast, this Committee is moving swiftly to consider the nomination.
“Dr. Rosekind has served as a Member of the NTSB since 2009. His expertise is in developing countermeasures for fatigue in order to enhance vehicle safety. He served at NASA for a number of years, and founded a technology company aimed at creating software that helps to reduce the role of fatigue in traffic incidents.
“NHTSA’s mission is safety and that is paramount to all of us. I will be asking Dr. Rosekind how his experience at NTSB, in academia, and in the private sector can be translated to managing an agency that many perceive to be in crisis. I will also be asking Dr. Rosekind how his expertise in fatigue and impaired driving can be utilized to lead an agency that is much different than the NTSB. I believe that NHTSA must have a leader that can hit the ground running.
“I will also be asking Dr. Rosekind about his familiarity with NHTSA, and in particular about the administration's ongoing “top-to-bottom review” of NHTSA reported in the New York Times. I want to know how Dr. Rosekind will be involved in this top-to-bottom review of NHTSA, should he be confirmed.
“If he is confirmed, Dr. Rosekind will be departing from the NTSB, and Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr has been nominated to take over the vacancy at the NTSB left by the departure of Deborah Hersman, who stepped down as Chairman earlier this year. Dr. Dinh-Zarr has a solid record as a traffic safety advocate, and a compelling personal life story that includes escaping Vietnam as a small child as the Communists took over the country. The NTSB plays an important role in highway, aviation and other modes of transportation safety, and I look forward to hearing from Dr. Dinh-Zarr about what she would seek to prioritize at the NTSB, should she be confirmed.
“Finally, Mr. Carlos Monje has been nominated to be an Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Transportation. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Monje when he accompanied Secretary Foxx during his visit to South Dakota last month. I very much appreciated the Secretary’s time in seeing firsthand a host of the transportation challenges that exist in a rural state like South Dakota, and I am glad Mr. Monje was able to come to South Dakota. Among other things, I will be asking Mr. Monje about his views on issues regarding changes in the Department’s TIGER grant review process and other issues facing the DOT as we approach the expiration of the MAP-21 extension that runs out on May 31st of next year.
“Thank you again Madame Chairman for holding this important hearing, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.”
Witness Panel 1
Dr. Mark RosekindNominee, AdministratorNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT)
Mr. Carlos Monje Jr.Nominee, Assistant Secretary for Transportation PolicyDepartment of Transportation
Dr. Tho Bella Dinh-ZarrNominee, MemberNational Transportation Safety Board