U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building G50 to consider the following legislative measures, nominations, and Coast Guard promotions:
- S. 2894, Federal Maritime Commission National Shipper Advisory Committee Act of 2019, Sponsor: Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
- S. 2904, Identifying Outputs of Generative Adversarial Networks (IOGAN) Act, Sponsors: Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
- S. 3681, A bill to require a joint task force on the operation of air travel during and after COVID-19 pandemic, and for other purposes, Sponsors: Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
- S. 3704, Advanced Technological Manufacturing Act, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
- S. 3712, Cybersecurity Competitions to Yield Better Efforts to Research the Latest Exceptionally Advanced Problems (CYBER LEAP) Act of 2020, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.
- S. 3717, Spectrum IT Modernization Act of 2020, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
- S. 3729, Motor Carrier Safety Grant Relief Act of 2020, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., John Thune, R-S.D., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
- S. 3734, Bioeconomy Research and Development Act of 2020, Sponsors: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
- Nomination of Neil Jacobs, of North Carolina, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
- Nomination of Finch Fulton, of Alabama, to be an Assistant Secretary of Transportation
- Nomination of John Chase Johnson, of Oklahoma, to be Inspector General, Federal Communications Commission
- Nomination of Diana Furchtgott-Roth, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Secretary of Transportation
- Nomination of Joseph Ryan Gruters, of Florida, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors for a term of five years
- Nomination of Leon Westmoreland, of Georgia, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors for a term of five years
- Nomination of Rick Dearborn, of Oklahoma, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors for a term of five years
- Coast Guard Promotions
*Agenda subject to change
Executive Session Details:
May 20, 2020
Dirksen Senate Office Building G50
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov.
*Note: Agenda updated 5/20/2020
Click here for the results
Chairman Roger Wicker
Welcome to the Commerce Committee’s 13th executive session of this 116th Congress. As the country continues to work together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, this committee has worked to advance legislation aimed at supporting Federal efforts to combat the spread of the virus and economic recovery. These efforts include many of the proposals we will consider today.
For example, in just a little while we will vote on the Advanced Technological Manufacturing Act, which Ranking Member Cantwell and I introduced. U.S. investment in research and innovation helped our nation to become the strongest economy in the world. As our advanced technological industries continue to grow, we will see increasing demand for a qualified STEM technical workforce. The strain on our economy caused by the COVID pandemic underscores the need to support such advances that would not only bolster economic growth, but also improve health and quality of life.
Our legislation would support education in advanced technological manufacturing, a measure that is supported by 13 state community college associations and hundreds more individual colleges and universities. These institutions provide not only a traditional education curriculum, but also hands-on training to develop the technical skills that students will need in the field.
The COVID-19 crisis has also had significant impacts on state and local law enforcement agencies, which are responsible for keeping our highways safe for the traveling public and freight movement. To take just one figure, the month of March 2020 saw a 60 percent reduction in the number of roadside inspections conducted nationwide compared to March of the previous year. To address these challenges states are facing, we will vote to advance the Motor Carrier Safety Grant Relief Act to provide additional flexibility in how states may spend certain grant funds. This legislation would give states an extra year to spend certain funds that were awarded for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 and would allow the U.S. Department of Transportation to redistribute unallocated funds. This would ensure that state and local law enforcement do not lose funding unnecessarily as they continue their frontline work responding to this pandemic.
We will consider proposals to establish grand challenge initiatives that would provide incentives for innovators to achieve high-priority breakthroughs in cybersecurity and support U.S. leadership in life sciences and biotechnology.
The committee will also vote to advance the Spectrum IT Modernization Act, which I introduced with Ranking Member Cantwell, Chairman Inhofe, and Ranking Member Reed. This legislation would modernize the information technology infrastructure used for the management of federal spectrum. I am so proud of the bipartisan work that has gone into this bill and the many months of work with our Armed Services Committee counterparts. I look forward to advancing this measure today.
Lastly, we will consider several important nominations and Coast Guard promotions.
A final note before we proceed to votes. I am disappointed that the Registered Traveler Act, legislation sponsored by Senators Sullivan and Sinema, was removed from this markup. I am a cosponsor of this legislation.
Members of the Committee received a letter from the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Monday. The Administrator’s letter has created unnecessary confusion by advancing a number of highly contestable claims about the Registered Traveler Act. So let me set the record straight.
Contrary to the Administrator’s letter, the Registered Traveler Act would not result in a “significant expansion of the RT program.” An RT provider can already provide identity verification at the checkpoint. Identity verification is a critical security tool and the incumbent RT provider does it every day in lieu of TSA. The bill would simply allow RT providers to continue that status quo and direct them to the appropriate physical screening lane, without the need for TSA to re-identify the passenger. TSA or its contracted personnel would still conduct all physical screenings. No passenger would “skip” physical screening. This is hardly a “significant expansion”.
Furthermore, it is not true that the Sullivan-Sinema bill would “create an ambiguous status for the RT provider” in relation to TSA. The Registered Traveler Act resolves ambiguity by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of TSA and its private sector partners. TSA would audit RT providers and the Administrator would have authority to immediately suspend or terminate providers’ contracts if they break the rules.
Finally, the Administrator’s letter states that this legislation would “hamper innovation”. In reality, the Sullivan-Sinema bill would facilitate innovation.
I look forward to considering the Registered Traveler Act on a future markup.
I appreciate my colleagues being here today, properly distanced, to vote on so many critical items before us. With that, I will turn to my dear friend and Ranking Member Cantwell for any remarks she may have.