WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. to consider legislation and nominations.
- S. 429, the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act of 2013
- S. 1014, Youth Sports Concussion Act
- S. 1406, Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST Act)
- S. 1275, REFI Pacific Act
- S. 1468, Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013
- S. 1793, Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2013
- S. 1925, Driver Privacy Act
- S. 2022, Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2014
- S. 2028, Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2014
- S. 2076, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Board of Visitors Enhancement Act
- S. 2086, Reliable Home Heating Act
- S. 2140, To improve the transition between experimental permits and commercial licenses for commercial reusable launch vehicles
- H.R. 2052, Global Investment in American Jobs Act
- Nomination of David Arroyo, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- Nomination of Mr. William Doyle, to be a Member of the Federal Maritime Commission (Reappointment)
- Nominations for Promotion in the United States Coast Guard
*Agenda is subject to change
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.
Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IVChairmanU.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Good afternoon, and welcome to this Committee’s seventh Executive Session in the 113th Congress. At least there’s no snow storm today to up-end our work. Today’s agenda contains a very interesting group of bills that Senators from both sides of this Committee have been developing for the past few months.
One bill that Senator Thune and I have introduced is S. 2028, the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2014. This bill will reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which distributes about $600 million in user fees each year to states for fisheries management and other activities that protect our natural resources and promote recreational sports fishing. Fishing is a great tradition in West Virginia and South Dakota, and it’s also a good source of tourism dollars for our states. Our bill would reauthorize the Fund through 2021.
Another bill we are considering is S. 2022, the Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2014. This Committee has now held three hearings on the scientific validity of the evidence our justice system uses to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. The National Academy of Sciences and many other experts from the science and law enforcement communities have told us that some forensic disciplines lack the scientific rigor they should have. And DNA tests have unfortunately exposed a number of cases in which innocent people were wrongfully convicted of crimes.
This bill promotes the scientific testing and validation of forensic methods, and it promotes cooperation between researchers and practitioners. The Innocence Project, the NAACP, and many other groups support this bill. This bill will complement the effort the Obama Administration has already started to establish the scientific validity of forensic methods. Earlier this month, NIST Director Pat Gallagher and Deputy Attorney General James Cole convened the 37-member National Forensic Science Commission to begin studying this problem.
Also on our agenda today is S. 1014, the Youth Sports Concussions Act, which I introduced with Senator Tom Udall, who used to be a member of this Committee. Back in 2011, Senator Udall and I held hearing that examined the troubling claims some sports equipment manufacturers were making about their purported “concussion-preventing” products, including football helmets. We learned that these companies were making concussion safety claims to parents, coaches and young athletes with little or no scientific basis. This bill encourages the FTC to go after such deceptive equipment safety claims, and it directs the CPSC and sports equipment industry to improve football helmet standards in accordance with the best available scientific research. This bill is endorsed by the NFL and a number of other sports organizations.
We are also considering a bipartisan bill introduced by our colleagues Senator Blunt and Senator Brown, that would help push promising manufacturing technology out of the research and development (R&D) phase and into commercial use in our country. This bill is S. 1468, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act. It calls for the creation of manufacturing “hubs,” where governments, universities, and businesses can work together to commercialize innovative manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing and lightweight alloys. This legislation – which has been endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers and a number of major U.S. manufacturing companies – is going to help our country create new advanced manufacturing jobs and remain competitive in the global marketplace. It’s been streamlined since its introduction in an effort to draw stronger bipartisan support – and I believe that effort will prove successfully. Senator Thune’s staff has been instrumental in trying to forge broader consensus on this bill. I deeply appreciate how hard they fight to articulate and advance the views of the Members on their side.
Another important jobs bill we are taking up today is H.R. 2052, which is the House companion to S. 1023, the Global Investment in American Jobs Act, sponsored by Senator Corker and five other Senators. The purpose of this bill is to promote investments by foreign companies in the United States. If you want to see how beneficial foreign direct investment can be to a state’s economy, you should take a look at my home state, where investments by Toyota and other foreign companies have created thousands of good manufacturing jobs for West Virginians.
We are also going to consider:
- Senator Ayotte’s bill, S. 1406, which cracks down on the cruel practice of intentionally “soring” Tennessee Walking Horses;
- Senator Boozman’s bill to make some constructive changes to the structure of the Board of Visitors that governs the Merchant Marine Academy; and
- A nomination to the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and a few promotions of Coast Guard officers.
- Senator McCaskill is still working through a few issues with stakeholders on her needed patent demand letter legislation. I look forward to the Committee taking that up.
- I will note that we had planned to mark up an FCC reports bill sponsored by Senator Heller, but we still need some technical assistance from the FCC. That bill will require a few more modifications before it is ready for mark up.
Senator John R ThuneRanking MemberU.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, we will consider a number of important measures today.
Understandably, much of the attention has been on the advanced manufacturing and forensic science bills, and I look forward to discussing those measures when we turn to them shortly.
On the forensic science bill, I do want to underscore one point that I think we’d all agree on: Our efforts, as the Senate’s science committee, to enhance forensic science should not be interpreted as questioning the integrity or professionalism of the law enforcement officials, forensic science practitioners, and prosecutors who are working hard every day in our criminal justice system – most of whom work in our states, and not for the federal government.
The overwhelming majority of these men and women are working diligently to achieve justice – which includes both the conviction of the guilty and the exoneration of the innocent. In this pursuit, we want them to be supported by the best available science, and we need them to be part of the process. Mr. Chairman, along these lines, I appreciate the many changes you have made to the bill to ensure collaboration with the forensic science community.
Mr. Chairman, in addition to these higher-profile bills, I would also like to briefly highlight a few other items on the agenda.
First, I would like to thank you for including S. 2086, the Reliable Home Heating Act, on today’s agenda. Senator Klobuchar and I have introduced this legislation to help states better respond to propane and heating fuel shortages. This past winter, much of the country faced severe heating fuel shortages, which were accompanied by record high prices. These shortages were due to extreme cold temperatures, regional supply disruptions, and a wet corn harvest.
In late January, after requests from industry and outreach from Members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation extended state emergency orders for 36 states, including my state of South Dakota. These emergency orders provide limited regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicles transporting home heating fuels into the affected states or regions. Under current law, the Governor of a State can issue an emergency order for a 30-day period, but only DOT has the authority to extend these orders if warranted. Our legislation would give Governors added authority to allow them to better meet the heating fuel needs in their states. This legislation is co-sponsored by several members of this Committee, both Republicans and Democrats, and I am glad the Committee will consider it today.
I am also pleased that we will be considering S. 2028, the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act, which you and I have sponsored, Mr. Chairman. South Dakotans take great pride in our hunting and fishing opportunities, which attract a large number of visitors who take part in our state’s wonderful outdoor offerings. As the co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I know this strongly supported, user-fee program has proven to be successful and has broad support from sportsmen across the country, because it sustains fishery management, habitat conservation, and boating safety programs.
Mr. Chairman, although we have a long list of bills today, I would also note that we have deferred consideration of Senator Heller’s bill on the consolidation of FCC reports, as well as the bill introduced by Senators Schatz and Wicker on the National Sea Grant College Program, until our next markup. I appreciate their willingness to continue negotiations on these measures, and I hope that NOAA works with us on some needed reforms.
Mr. Chairman, as is sometimes the case, we are also advancing a few bills today that may require some additional work before the full Senate considers them. For example, I understand that Senators Klobuchar and Hoeven have made changes to their bill on the privacy of data collected by vehicle data recorders – which many of us have cosponsored – but they are still in discussions about additional modifications that may need to be made.
Additionally, when we turn to S.1468, the manufacturing bill sponsored by Senators Brown and Blunt, I know we plan to underscore our shared commitment – along with the bill’s sponsors – to find a viable funding offset. This will be very important to a number of our colleagues who share some concern with creating new federal programs.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. With that, I am prepared to move to consideration of the agenda.