U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 26, 2018, to consider two presidential nominees.
Completed nomination questionnaires are available at www.commerce.senate.gov/nominations
- Mr. Rick A. Dearborn, of Oklahoma, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
- Mr. Martin J. Oberman, of Illinois, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board
*Witness list subject to change.
Thursday, July 26, 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 Roger Wicker
I would like to thank our nominees, Rick Dearborn and Marty Oberman, for being here and for your willingness to serve in these important positions. Thank you.
Rick Dearborn has had an impressive career in public policy that spans more than 24 years. He has held leadership roles with the Trump and Bush administrations. He has also been a staff member for six Senators, most recently serving as the Chief of Staff and State Director for Jeff Sessions. After the 2016 election, Mr. Dearborn served as the Executive Director of President Trump’s Presidential Transition Team and was the President’s Deputy Chief of Staff from January 2017 until March 2018.
The Amtrak Board of Directors is comprised of ten individuals. They include eight Senate-confirmed appointees, and the Secretary of Transportation, and the President of Amtrak. There are currently two vacancies on the board. Mr. Dearborn has been nominated to replace board member Jeffrey Moreland, whose term expired in 2015.
Mr. Dearborn, we are very anxious to fill these vacancies. If confirmed, I know your vast experience in public policy will be crucial as you work with fellow board members on issues like long-distance service, positive train control, Gateway, and the restoration of Gulf Coast Rail, which is of particular importance to some of us in the room.
Our second nominee, Mr. Marty Oberman, has been nominated to serve as a member of the Surface Transportation Board. Mr. Oberman has spent the past 49 years of his career as attorney. His practice focuses on complex civil litigation spanning medical and legal malpractice, commercial disputes, local taxation, constitutional rights, civil rights, and financial crimes.
Apart from his distinguished legal career, Mr. Oberman has spent significant time in public service. Most recently, he served as the chairman of Metra, a commuter railroad in the Chicago metropolitan area that serves more than 100 communities with 241 stations and 11 lines. In this capacity, he led the formulation and adoption of a 10-year capital program totaling over $2 billion to revitalize and renew Metra’s rail cars and locomotives.
Mr. Oberman has been nominated to fill one of the three vacancies on the Surface Transportation Board. As a board member, he will help resolve railroad rate and service disputes and review proposed railroad mergers. Filling these vacancies is vital to ensuring that the board has the staff and experience for these responsibilities.
Mr. Oberman, if you are confirmed, I am sure that your diverse legal background and leadership within Metra will serve you well in your position as a board member.
Again, thank you both for your willingness to serve.
We have two nominees before the committee today who have been nominated for positions at critical transportation organizations — the Surface Transportation Board and the Amtrak Board of Directors.
Both these nominees may eventually deal with an issue that is critically important to my home state. Florida is still working to restore the Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast that was shut down after Hurricane Katrina. This line serviced two million people from Florida to Louisiana and has an impact on our tourism industry. I look forward to hearing their views on restoring the Gulf Coast rail service.
Another important issue is positive train control implementation. It is critical that we do everything we need to make sure that railroads are on track to meet the 2018 deadline. I hope to hear Mr. Dearborn’s views today on Amtrak’s progress.
I look forward to hearing from our two witnesses today, but first I must address a critical matter that falls within the purview of this committee.
One of the most important issues this committee oversees is transportation security, which is jeopardized by the recent decision by the Department of Justice and the State Department to settle a three-year-long legal battle to prevent the publication of blueprints on how to make 3D printed guns, including AR-15s, online for the public to download.
The administration’s decision paves the way for the publication of these blueprints online on August 1—just a week from today. Once those blueprints are posted on the Internet, it’ll be impossible to pull them back.
We can’t overstate the danger presented by 3D printed guns, many of which may evade detection by our current security screening systems.
Let me be blunt about this: Somebody could come into this building—and sit in this hearing room—and have a gun, and we wouldn’t know about it. People could walk onto airplanes and have plastic guns—and we wouldn’t know about it.
We talk about “hardening” schools, “hardening” airports, “hardening” public spaces—but all of that is meaningless if a deranged individual can get past the metal detectors with a plastic gun.
If this settlement is allowed to go through, we will see a fundamental shift in American safety and security.
Mr. Chairman, I ask that this committee immediately hold a hearing on this issue. We should hear directly from the TSA on the dangers posed by 3D-printed plastic guns at airports and on aviation security generally. Time is of the essence.
And with that, I conclude my remarks for today’s hearing.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Rick A. Dearborn of Oklahoma,to be a Director of the Amtrak Board o
Mr. Martin J. Oberman of Illinois, to be a Member of the Surface Transpo