09:45 AM Russell Senate Office Building 325
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 9.45 a.m. in Russell Senate Office Building 325 to consider the following legislative measures and nominations:
- S. 804, Empowering Rural Economies Through Alaska Native Sustainable Arts and Handicrafts Act, Sponsor: Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska
- S. 1626, Government Spectrum Valuation Act of 2019, Sponsor: Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
- S. 3831, Visit America Act, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii
- S. 4159, Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, Sponsors: Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Todd Young, R-Ind.
- S. 4286, Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act, Sponsors: Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
- S. 4462, Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Gary Peters, D-Mich.
- S. XXXX, Forensic Science Research and Standards Act, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
- Nomination of Eric Soskin, of Virginia, to be Inspector General, Department of Transportation
- Nomination of Robert Primus, of New Jersey, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board
- Nominations of Theodore Rokita, of Indiana, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
- Nomination of Sarah Feinberg, of West Virginia, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
- Nomination of Chris Koos, of Illinois, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
*Agenda subject to change
Executive Session Details:
September 16, 2020
Russell Senate Office Building 325
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov.
*In order to maintain physical distancing as advised by the Office of the Attending Physician, seating for credentialed press will be limited throughout the course of the hearing. Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream.
*Note: Agenda updated 9/16/2020
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Chairman Roger Wicker
Welcome to you all to the Commerce Committee’s 15th executive session of the 116th Congress. Before we begin, let me provide a brief summary on the Committee’s activities.
During this Congress, the committee has reported nearly 100 bills, the vast majority of which are bipartisan. This Committee has also moved 34 nominations and 545 Coast Guard promotions to the floor. We intend to add to this list of accomplishments in a few moments.
I am disappointed that the Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act was taken off of today’s agenda. The underlying bill and the substitute amendment would make significant reforms to improve the aircraft safety certification process, bolster whistleblower protections, reduce the opportunities for undue pressure, and enhance international collaboration on aviation safety. Our proposals are grounded in the findings and recommendations of numerous reports and investigations into the tragic crashes involving the 737 MAX aircraft.
Our postponement today amounts to a setback but I reiterate my willingness to work in good faith on any proposal with any member of this committee.
I certainly appreciate the cooperation with my friend and colleague Senator Cantwell. I recognize her now for her opening statement.
Ranking Member Maria Cantwell
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
Opening Statement at Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Executive Session
September 16, 2020
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this important mark-up today.
I, too, would like to address the issue of Agenda Item Number Four. We know that there were several amendments that had been filed by many members that were not worked out last night even though people were working diligently all through the evening to communicate about these important issues. So I appreciate everyone's attention and continue to address these unresolved issues, and appreciate the hard work of the staff.
It's very important that we have accountability and transparency both at the FAA and at manufacturers. I do appreciate, as the Chairman said, the underlying mark and manager's amendment that continues to make improvement on those areas, particularly in requiring analysis, rule makings, and also the whistleblower protections. The Chairman and I have been working and listening to many whistleblowers on these cases and guiding us in this legislation, but look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues on these unresolved issues.
I also look forward to considering the bill before as the Forensic Science Research and Standards Act, an important stride in continuing to advance forensics in the criminal justice system.
I'm also pleased to see Senator Markey’s RISE Act on the agenda and I want to thank him for supporting research institutions during the challenges posed by global pandemic.
I'd also like to thank Senator Schatz for his hard work on the Visit America Act that he worked on with Senator Sullivan, to help and support tourism.
Unfortunately I'm going to oppose some of the legislation in front of us today and nominations. The Government Spectrum Evaluation Act has one goal: to put pressure on federal agencies such as DOT, NOAA, NASA, and DOD to give up spectrum. It is designed to create a wildly inaccurate evaluation of spectrum use, and I hope that we don't ignore how essential federal spectrum is, but come to working together to resolve these issues between agencies.
I also oppose the Electronic Signatures and Global National Commerce Act. While I think this is an area worth further study, I think it's very important to protect low income consumers who may be on the wrong side of the digital divide and unable to easily access electronic records.
And finally, I can't support the Empowering Rural Economies through Native American Sustainabilities Act at this point. We have a large native population but we continue to work on respecting tribes, but this legislation is too broad and preempting states who want to chart their own path. So I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on that.
And Mr. Chairman, I will be quick because I know you want to get to the business and we are on a time constraint today, but I want to discuss two nominations that I can't support today.
Mr. Todd Rokita up for the Amtrak board. He has obviously in the past been a member of the House of Representatives, trying to slash Amtrak funding and opposing funding for Amtrak, so I'm not comfortable on supporting this nomination today. Not that people can't change, but I would rather see somebody with a more aggressive stance, because I think we need an aggressive defense of Amtrak particularly during the COVID crisis. We need an aggressive approach.
And Eric Soskin, [to be] the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation--a position that I am concerned about, the independence and the questioning that we had before committee.
So I thank you very much for the mark-up today, Mr. Chairman, and continuing to work together with all our colleagues on a collaborative effort to resolve very important issues. So thank you.