U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene to consider two presidential nominees.
Completed nomination questionnaires are available at www.commerce.senate.gov/nominations
- Mr. Geoffrey Adam Starks, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Federal Communications Commission
- Mr. Peter Aaron Feldman, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
*Witness list subject to change.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman John Thune
Good morning. Thank you to our nominees, Peter Feldman and Geoffrey Starks, for being here and for your willingness to serve in the important positions to which you have been nominated.
I would also like to say thank you to the families attending today’s hearing and supporting the nominees. I’d would especially like to recognize Peter Feldman’s father, Clifford Feldman, who is here with us today and just received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal for his work with NASA Television, and its coverage of the 2017 solar eclipse. I also want to wish Peter’s mother, Susan Feldman, a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, she could not be here today, but I know both are extremely proud and supportive of Peter.
Peter Feldman who is a member of my staff, and is well-known to this Committee for his role leading bipartisan efforts in consumer protection, product safety, oversight, and investigations, has been nominated to serve as a Commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Throughout his time as a staffer, Peter has been instrumental in negotiating significant consumer protection, product safety, and sports legislation including: the bipartisan Consumer Review Freedom Act, a bill which prohibits businesses from inserting clauses into their contracts that limit the ability of their customers to criticize products and services online, and the bipartisan Better Online Ticket Sales Act, which prohibits the use of ticket bots, which can distort the market for event ticket sales. Most recently, he worked on the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, which unambiguously charged the U.S. Olympic Committee with the duty to provide a safe environment for sports and athletes as well as authorizing the U.S. Center for Safe Sport.
Not surprisingly, Peter has received support for his nomination from safety advocates and industry stakeholders alike. At an agency that has sometimes been hampered by partisanship, it is my firm belief that if confirmed, Peter’s background and experience on Capitol Hill, where he has shown an ability to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, will be an asset and a force for collaborative solutions at the agency.
Our second nominee, Geoffrey Starks, has been nominated to serve as a Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Mr. Starks currently serves as assistant bureau chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau where he is responsible for enforcing the Commission’s rules, orders, licensing terms, and conditions. Prior to his tenure at the FCC, he worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General from 2013 to 2015 where he provided advice to the Deputy Attorney General on domestic and international law enforcement.
If confirmed, Mr. Starks will have a voice on the many critical matters before the Commission. Some, as this Committee knows well, can be contentious. I have long advocated that the hyper-partisanship of the last Commission must come to an end. Mr. Starks, while I understand that not all issues before the FCC can be decided on a bipartisan basis, given the Commission’s role in overseeing regulatory matters that affect our economy and everyday lives, it is important that members of the FCC seek opportunities for common ground and I encourage you to try to do that as often as possible.
Since Chairman Pai has become the chairman of the FCC, he has made a number of important reforms to improve the agency’s processes and transparency, including publicly releasing text of all agenda items in advance of Commission meetings and instituting a process of sharing documents with other commissioners before discussing them publicly. It is my hope that this spirit of openness, transparency, and collaboration at the FCC is continued, and it is my hope that Mr. Starks will embrace this approach if confirmed.
Again, thank you both for your willingness to serve. With that, I turn to the Ranking Member for his opening statement.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing today to consider nominees for two critical independent agencies: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Let me start with the nomination of Geoffrey Starks to be a commissioner on the FCC.
Mr. Starks, welcome and congratulations on your nomination.
You will join what I believe to be one of the most important consumer protection agencies at a defining moment in its history.
The current FCC majority has spent the past year and a half abandoning the agency’s statutory authority and responsibilities.
Time and time again, the current FCC majority has turned their backs on consumers.
When they eliminated net neutrality rules and gave up FCC authority to protect consumers online, the FCC majority ignored the critical role that unfettered access to a free and open internet plays in Americans’ lives – and the role that the nation’s expert agency should play.
The FCC is also determined to undercut – and do permanent damage to – the great American tradition of local broadcasting preserved through its media ownership rules.
And these are just two examples of a larger trend.
From preempting state, local and tribal authorities to threatening the future of the Lifeline program that helps make phone and internet service affordable for low-income Americans, this FCC seems determined to fulfill special interest wish lists rather than protect those least able to protect themselves.
Right now, FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel alone is holding the line for consumers and the public interest.
We need to get you confirmed quickly, Mr. Starks, so that you can partner with her to stand up for the public interest instead of powerful special interests and fight against the dismantling of the FCC’s core principles.
Much will be expected of you, Mr. Starks – and I look forward to working with you to meet these challenges.
Also, Mr. Chairman, I have a letter from Senator Schumer in support of Mr. Starks that I would like to put into the record.
I also want to welcome Mr. Peter Feldman, who is well known to us, as a current staffer for Chairman Thune.
I appreciate Mr. Feldman’s past work on mandatory consumer product safety standards.
In Florida during last year’s hurricane season, we lost at least twelve lives due to carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators.
We are still gathering statistics, but it is likely that other lives were lost in Puerto Rico from portable generator carbon monoxide deaths.
For years, I have urged the CPSC to adopt a mandatory safety standard for portable generator to stop these senseless deaths.
Unfortunately, the acting chairman of the CPSC continues to defer to portable generator industry on this issue.
Hurricane season is now upon us and more people will die from carbon monoxide poisoning if we don’t address this issue pronto.
So, Mr. Feldman, with your experience in the Senate I really hope you will approach this position with far more openness than the current acting chairman.
So, with that Mr. Chairman, I now look forward to hearing from the nominees.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Peter Aaron Feldman of the District of Columbia
Mr. Geoffrey Adam Starks of Kansas