WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. to consider the following legislation measures and pending nominations.
Click here for more information on the nominees.
1. S. 3084, The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, Sponsors: Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
2. S. 827, Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2015, Sponsors: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Angus King (Ind-Maine), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
3. S. 2997, Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act of 2016, Sponsors: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
4. S. 1717, to amend title 46, United States Code, to exempt old vessels from certain requirements if improvements made, Sponsors: Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), David Vitter (R-La.)
5. S. 3088, Deadline for Compliance with Alternative Safety Compliance Program, Sponsor: Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
6. S. 3087, American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
7. S. 3059, Marine Mammal Research and Response Act of 2016, Sponsors: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)
8. S. 2219, The Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2015, Sponsors: Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Steve Daines (D-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
9. S. 3086, A bill to reauthorize and amend the Marine Debris Act to promote international action to reduce marine debris and for other purposes, Sponsor: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
10. S.3099, Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016, Sponsor: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
11. Nomination of Peggy E. Gustafson to be Inspector General, Department of Commerce
12. Nomination of Michael A. Khouri to be a Federal Maritime Commissioner (reappointment)
* Agenda subject to change
Click here for markup results.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
10:00 a.m. ET
Full Committee Hearing
Senate Russell Building 253
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman John Thune
"Good morning. Thanks to everyone for being here today.
"I would note that we will be considering a full agenda today—10 legislative measures and two nominations—but I first want to say a word about an item that is not being considered, the Kelsey Smith Act.
"We had all hoped this important measure would be ready for consideration today; however, the sponsors are still working to strike the right balance between public safety and privacy. Progress has been made, and I’m confident we’ll consider the measure relatively soon.
"Turning now to the measures that we will be considering today, the first item on the agenda, the American Innovation and Competiveness Act, is the culmination of bipartisan work by the Innovation and Competitiveness Working Group led by Senators Gardner and Peters.
"Their work product represents consensus legislation to address policy recommendations to improve the effectiveness of U.S. R&D.
"The text also incorporates elements of bills cosponsored by several members of the Committee, including Senators Ayotte, Fischer, Daines, and Udall.
"While the bill may still need some work before it can pass the full Senate, including ways to ensure the authorization increase that will likely be adopted are feasible, I commend Senators Gardner and Peters for their efforts on this bill and am glad to be a cosponsor of the measure.
"I’m also pleased that we have come to an agreement and will be considering Senator Klobuchar’s Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act, which deals with long-distance call completion issues in rural areas.
"Despite the efforts of the Federal Communication Commission over the past several years, low call completion rates have been a longstanding and persistent issue in South Dakota and throughout rural America.
"For example, a constituent of mine who works from home has been working as a customer service representative for a company located outside of South Dakota.
"She has a fiber connection to her home, yet her company has noticed that she’s not answering a substantial number of calls that are being routed to her. She’s not answering the calls because they’re not getting through to her home.
"The South Dakota phone company serving my constituent investigated the issue, and on the first day they checked, they found she did not receive 41 percent of the calls sent to her home number.
"Unfortunately, my constituent may well lose her job because of these call completion issues.
"I very much appreciate Senator Klobuchar’s willingness to work with my staff to shape this bill into something that I believe can receive broad-based bipartisan support and become law this Congress.
"Another item on today’s agenda, the SANDY Act, recognizes the life-saving importance of repairing and restoring modern communications during natural disasters by adding mobile telephone, Internet access, and broadcasting to the Stafford Act’s list of essential services.
"Winter storms, tornadoes, flooding, landslides, and fires can have devastating effects on life and property, harming American households and local economies from coast to coast.
"I am hopeful that strong support in the House of Representatives for a similar bill will pave the wave for enactment of this measure this Congress.
"Another item on the agenda today that has broad bipartisan support is the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act, sponsored by Senators Gardner, Shaheen, Ayotte, Daines, Moran, Wicker, Klobuchar, and Peters, among others.
"Whether it be exploring South Dakota in a recreational vehicle, hiking the Everglades in Senator Nelson and Rubio’s home state of Florida, or making fresh tracks on a Colorado powder morning, being outdoors is an important part of American recreation. But it’s also a key part of the national economy.
"The Gardner substitute amendment would direct the Bureau of Economic Analysis to conduct an assessment of the outdoor recreation industry's full contribution to the U.S. economy.
"This information will enable government and business to better understand the impact of this industry and make future policy decisions and recommendations to ensure it thrives in the future.
"In addition to the legislative matters I have just spoken about the Committee will also be considering a handful of oceans and fisheries measures including:
- Senator Nelson and Rubio’s Access for Sportfishing Act;
- Senators Cantwell, Sullivan, and other’s Marine Mammal Research and Response Act;
- Senator Booker’s reauthorization of NOAA’s Marine Debris program;
- Senators Sullivan and Cantwell’s bill to provide a common sense path forward on fishing industry safety regulations;
- Senators Blunt, McCaskill, and others’ bill to provide a roadmap to safety compliance for the DELTA QUEEN; and
- S. 3087, Senators Sullivan, Cantwell, and other’s American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act.
"Finally, we will consider two nominations: Peg Gustafson to be the next Inspector General at the Department of Commerce and Michael Khouri, who has been reappointed to another five-year term at the Federal Maritime Commission.
"The Inspector General position at the Department of Commerce has been vacant for over a year. I look forward to working closely with Ms. Gustafson on oversight of the Department of Commerce, should she be confirmed.
"She has committed to meeting on a regular basis with Committee staff once she has been confirmed, and I will be particularly interested in Ms. Gustafson’s activities as she conducts oversight of the FirstNet public safety broadband network, which is entering a critical phase of its development over the coming months.
"Commissioner Michael Khouri has had a distinguished career at the Federal Maritime Commission, and I’m very glad to support his nomination for another term.
"I look forward to continuing to work with him on the important issues facing the maritime industry, and I’m hopeful that we can move Mr. Khouri’s nomination on the floor with the other FMC nominations we have recently reported: Rebecca Dye and Daniel Maffei."With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks he would like to make."
Thank you, Chairman Thune, for calling this markup. There are a few bills to note on the agenda today.
I was very pleased to join with Chairman Thune in kicking off the bipartisan Innovation and Competitiveness working group, with Senators Gardner and Peters at the helm. The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act is a product of that working group and will promote and improve U.S. science, innovation, and STEM programs.
The legislation we’re considering today authorizes a 4% increase for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology between FY 2017 and FY 2018. This increase is a reasonable and needed investment to ensure American competitiveness.
The bill also does a number of other important things to advance science and U.S. innovation, including a reduction in administrative burdens on researchers and a commitment to grow the number of women and minorities in STEM fields.
Senators Gardner and Peters should be commended for their fine work on this important legislation, and urge the full committee to support this bill.
We are also taking up the Access for Sportfishing Act today, Senator Rubio and my legislation.
Biscayne National Park is a treasured national park off the coast of Miami, Florida. Its waters provide visitors with opportunities to dive, snorkel, kayak, and fish.
Unlike most national parks, Biscayne is almost entirely within state waters. The legislation that created the park recognizes the shared responsibility of the state and federal governments by delegating fishery management largely to the state.
For years, fishery access decisions were made through a collaborative process. The bill before us today would reinforce the importance of that joint effort.
This bill makes sure that the state of Florida and other stakeholders have a voice in the process—not a veto.
More than four years ago, Senator Rubio and I urged the Park Service to be more inclusive of the recommendations from the state, recreational fishermen, and other stakeholders when revising fishery management regulations, such as the park’s general management plan.
Unfortunately, the Park Service did not follow through, and now we are in a situation where their proposal is a drastic measure—a 10,000-acre no-fishing zone.
This bill encourages the Park Service to consider less restrictive measures, such as seasonal closures, before using opting for an outright fishing ban.
This bill strikes a careful balance for a very specific issue in South Florida.
Today the committee will also consider two bills designed to make sure that our communications networks are reliable and resilient.
Senator Klobuchar’s call completion bill will help guarantee that all telephone calls make it to their intended destination – something we all sometimes take for granted.
And the SANDy Act from Senators Cantwell and Booker, of which I am a cosponsor, will help speed the restoration of communications networks after disasters - a very important issue for Floridians.
We also have two nominations on the agenda today. I look forward to these nominees passing here today and moving through the Senate quickly, along with others that have been stuck on the floor.
With that, Mr. Chairman, let’s get this markup underway.