The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. in Hart 216 to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.
Click here for additional information on nominees.
1. S. 2202, National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act, Sponsors: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
2. S. 2200, National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2018, Sponsor: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
3. S. 1768, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act of 2017, Sponsors: Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
4. Nomination of Barry Lee Myers, of Pennsylvania, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
5. Coast Guard Promotions
*Agenda subject to change
Executive Session Details:
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Full Committee Markup
Senate Hart Building 216
Results of the markup are available here.
Chairman John Thune
Good morning. Before we begin our eighth and likely final executive session of the year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all the Committee has accomplished this year and thank all of you for your hard work and cooperation.
The Committee has held 33 full Committee hearings and an additional 30 Subcommittee hearings.
After today, our Committee will have processed 47 pieces of legislation, 28 of which have passed the full Senate as standalone measures or as parts of larger bills. And, as of yesterday, seven of these have been signed into law.
The Committee has also spent a considerable amount of time this year considering nominations. Of our 32 full Committee hearings, a dozen have been confirmation hearings. After today, this hard work will have resulted in 32 nominations and over 250 Coast Guard promotions being successfully reported to the full Senate.
While I had hoped that the full Senate would have been able to confirm a few more of these well qualified individuals by now, I am proud to say 19 of the Committee’s nominees are currently serving in the Executive Branch.
Again, thank you all for your hard work this year. I look forward to another productive year in 2018.
Now we turn to today’s agenda, which includes three legislative items, one nomination, and almost 300 Coast Guard promotions.
The first item on today’s agenda, the NTSB Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Senators Nelson, Fisher, Booker, Blunt, Cantwell, and myself, reauthorizes the Board through 2023 and makes several reforms to modernize it and improve transparency.
We rely on the NTSB to investigate tragic transportation accidents and inform Congress, the Department of Transportation, and the public on any safety recommendations necessary to prevent similar accidents in the future.
The improvements and reforms in our bill will help ensure this important work continues.
We are also considering the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Senator Nelson and myself, today.
As last year’s drought in my home state of South Dakota reminded folks, having timely and accurate drought monitoring is critical to those affected by severe weather conditions.
Our bill will encourage important partnerships with the private sector, integrate seasonal and subseasonal drought and water forecasts, and support ongoing soil moisture monitoring to better aid farmers.
The primary nominee we are considering today, Mr. Barry Myers, has been tapped to lead the agency that spearheads our forecasting efforts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA.
Mr. Myers has dedicated his entire career to the weather forecasting enterprise and will bring that same commitment to NOAA. I am hopeful that his nomination can be considered as soon as possible by the full Senate.
And, as I just mentioned, we will be considering over 250 Coast Guard promotions.
We all appreciate the service and sacrifice these brave men and women make each day, but I wanted to particularly recognize one of these individuals – Captain Tom Allan, who will be promoted to Rear Admiral.
As many Members of this Committee and our staff know, Captain Allan served as head of Congressional Affairs for the Coast Guard. Captain Allan and his team’s hard work has always been top notch and appreciated. I thank him for his continued dedication to the Coast Guard and our Nation.
With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks.
Mr. Chairman, before we get started, I would like to say a few words about the nomination before us of Barry Myers to be the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
At this committee’s hearing on Mr. Myers’ nomination last month, I questioned whether we could be sure that Mr. Myers would refrain from involving himself in NOAA decisions affecting AccuWeather - the company owned by his brothers and which Mr. Myers himself previously ran. While Mr. Myers is clearly knowledgeable about our national weather program, I remain concerned about whether conflicts of interest due to his family connections with AccuWeather can, or will, be avoided.
If Mr. Myers is confirmed, I will work with and support him in his efforts to make his time at NOAA successful. However, it is imperative that he demonstrate that he will approach this position as a public service role – not as another private sector job. Running this agency, which deals with life or death scenarios, demands that its administrator represent the public, first and foremost.
Unfortunately, when questioned by Senator Schatz at his nomination hearing, Mr. Myers was unable to say that his perspective would change as he transitioned from the private sector to take on this public role. In fact, he was unable to come up a single instance where, if confirmed, he might be at odds with his former employer, AccuWeather. He even refused to acknowledge that his support of the Santorum bill in 2005 would have prohibited the weather service from offering a product or service that is or could be provided by the private sector and would have benefitted his own company.
NOAA is doing important work nationwide – from providing forecasting to managing fisheries, conducting climate research, helping coastal communities plan for the future, and much more. As I have said before, we need a NOAA administrator who will safeguard the critical mission of this important agency, without any conflicts of interests. I am not convinced that Barry Myers is that man, and I will be voting against his nomination today, but with the hope that Mr. Myers will prove me wrong about my conflict of interest concerns.
With that Mr. Chairman, let’s proceed.