1. S. 571, Pilot Bill of Rights 2, Sponsors: Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and 67 bipartisan cosponsors
2. S.1143, West Coast Dungeness Crab Management Act, Sponsors: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
3. S.1518, Reinforcing American-Made Products Act of 2015, Sponsors: Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Angus King, Jr. (I-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine)
4. S.1685, Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.)
5. S.1916, Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
6. S.2044, Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015, Sponsors: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
7. S.2206, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Act, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
8. Derek Tai-Ching Kan, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
9. Anthony Coscia, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors (reappointment; current chairman)
10. Nominations for Promotion in the United States Coast Guard
*Agenda subject to change
Click here for results of the executive session.
Executive Session Details:
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
11:00 a.m. in Senate Russell Office Building, Room 253
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman John Thune
"Good morning. While we await our quorum, I’d like to highlight some of the items on today’s agenda.
"First, however, I would note that Senator Nelson and I have just come from the initial meeting of the conference committee on the Surface Transportation bill. I am encouraged by the progress we have already made during preliminary discussions with our House counterparts, and I anticipate that the Senate will be in a position to approve a consensus, multi-year bill very soon.
"Before we turn to the agenda items, I would also note that the Committee was originally scheduled to take up the MOBILE NOW Act today, a bill that will help secure our nation’s wireless future. But Ranking Member Nelson and I both thought it best to take a little more time to work through the constructive feedback we have received, including from the Administration.
"We hope to mark up MOBILE NOW after Thanksgiving, so we ask everyone to work with our staffs on any additions or amendments you would like to see included in the bill.
"We have also temporarily postponed consideration of S. 1886, the Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act, to allow for continued negotiations on some discrete issues. This bill enjoys bipartisan support, and I expect it will be on our December markup agenda.
"Today we have a bipartisan slate of bills that reflect the breadth of our Committee’s jurisdiction – from Senator Cantwell’s bill on the management of the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery to legislation sponsored by Senators Wicker and Blumenthal to ensure regulatory parity for amateur radio operators.
"I am especially glad that we’ll be considering the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act, S. 1916, a bill I introduced with Senators Klobuchar, Fischer, and Hoeven.
"Throughout the country, skilled nursing facilities are providing critical care for elderly and convalescing Americans in rural communities. These essential providers are an important part of the rural health care system, yet they are not currently eligible for support from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program.
"Passing S. 1916 today is the first step toward ensuring rural skilled nursing facilities will have the communications connectivity they need to take care of our seniors.
"Today we will also consider the Consumer Review Freedom Act, S. 2044, which would ban so-called “gag clauses” that prevent consumers from providing truthful reviews to help other consumers.
"Earlier this month, the Committee held a hearing on consumer gag clauses and received compelling testimony about how this practice decreases consumer power and negatively impacts the Internet ecosystem. The record in that hearing clearly demonstrated the need for targeted legislation like S. 2044 to bring an end to clauses that stifle free and honest speech.
"I thank Senators Schatz and Moran for introducing this important consumer protection legislation with me, and thank Ranking Member Nelson and Senators Daines, Blumenthal, McCaskill, and Booker for their co-sponsorship. The legislation also has bipartisan backing in the House, where a similar bill has been introduced by Representative Issa.
"I would also like to thank Senator Sullivan and Senator Schatz for their work on S. 2206, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Act.
"Prompted by whistleblower complaints regarding NOAA’s lack of response to allegations of sexual harassment, this bill outlines clear and uniform procedures to help prevent the occurrence of – and improve the Administration’s response to – sexual assault and harassment.
"As an agency with a unique workforce, often serving in remote areas and at sea, NOAA needs a tailored system that its employees can depend upon. "This bill will also reauthorize the NOAA Corps, a uniformed service whose members operate NOAA’s fleet of ships and aircraft. Their combination of scientific and operational expertise, as well as their flexibility and deploy-ability, allow them to support nearly all of NOAA’s programs and missions.
"Our agenda today also includes S.1518, a bill introduced by Senator Lee to ensure consistency in the labeling of products as “Made in America.” Senator Fischer is an original cosponsor of this measure, and she has asked that her statement on the bill be included in the record. So, without objection, it will be.
"Last, but certainly not least, we will be taking up S. 571, Senator Inhofe’s Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, which would make several reforms to the third-class medical certification process to benefit recreational general aviation pilots.
"Senator Manchin is the lead cosponsor of this bill, which has attracted an impressive total of 68 bipartisan cosponsors, including all of the members on my side of the Committee dais. Notwithstanding this support, however, some concerns have been expressed about the bill – as reflected in the nearly two dozen amendments filed by the Ranking Member.
"An amendment in the nature of a substitute filed by Senator Manchin reflects months of negotiations between the prime sponsors of the bill and the Committee, and makes several improvements to the bill.
"It is my hope that, following today’s markup, we will continue to work toward consensus on these issues, so the reforms can ultimately be included in the FAA reauthorization bill the Committee will produce early next year.
"With that, I will turn to the Ranking Member for any opening remarks he would like to make."
Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) Opening Statement
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
Executive Session #9
November 18, 2015
Thank you, Chairman Thune, for calling this markup. I would like to briefly address a few of the bills that we will be considering today.
I’d like to first talk about the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2. I hope that we can make a number of common sense changes today to address some serious safety concerns I have with this bill.
I have filed a number of amendments to improve this legislation, and to make reasonable, common sense changes to ensure the safety of our national airspace.
We have the safest aviation system in the world, and it’s our responsibility to uphold that standard.
S. 571 would eliminate the existing medical requirements for the vast majority of general aviation pilots, regardless of their physical and mental health.
Senator Manchin’s substitute amendment would add a requirement that pilots see their private physician every four years, and I will offer an amendment to require an independent medical panel to develop a checklist for pilots and their physicians to use.
This checklist is aimed at identifying medical conditions that could interfere with a pilot’s ability to fly.
Medical experts know which conditions could be dangerous, so there is no sense in ignoring the science on this.
We should continue working to improve this bill, and protect the safety of our aviation system.
I expect that we will be working on a comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill in the coming months, as the current authorization expires in March. Any changes to FAA regulations contemplated by this bill should be thoroughly debated on the Senate floor as part of that process.
I would also like to take moment to mention the bipartisan NOAA Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Act on our agenda today. This bill will require NOAA to develop a policy to prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment.
I would also like to mention the Amateur Radio Parity Act.
While I have great respect for Senators Blumenthal and Wicker, I must oppose this bill today.
Amateur radio plays an important role in enhancing public safety communication, and I encourage communities to work with amateur radio operators to find ways to further these services.
This bill before us, though, would effectively repeal parts of millions of private contracts and agreements relied upon by homeowners around the country.
This committee would be overriding guidelines that were established – and agreed to – by residents of a community when they voluntarily choose to live in that community. This is a step too far.
Finally, with respect to spectrum, I am glad that the Chairman has decided to pull his draft bill from today’s markup. This will give us much needed time to consult with stakeholders to try to find consensus.
The question this committee always faces with respect to spectrum policy is how to strike the right balance between the needs of federal and non-federal spectrum users.
As a senior member of both the Commerce and Armed Services Committees, I have seen a lot of progress made on freeing up additional spectrum in recent years through the productive collaboration between the private sector and federal agencies such as the Department of Defense.
As a result, we must tread carefully and make sure that nothing we do inadvertently compromises those important steps or jeopardizes national security.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your willingness to continue to work with my staff and our members to find common ground.