Cantwell to Commerce Secretary Nominee: “Science Needs to Prevail”

January 26, 2021

Opening Statement Video | Q&A Video | Transcripts

Cantwell: U.S. should be a leader in weather forecasting

Governor Raimondo: “I plan to lead with science and lead with data”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At today’s hearing to consider the nomination of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to be U.S. Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, the incoming Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, secured Raimondo’s commitment to prioritize science and defend scientific integrity at the Department of Commerce.  

“I appreciate that [Governor Raimondo] will lead the agency in making decisions based on science and data that will help our economy grow in the future, everything from these oceans issues and fisheries, to spectrum and space issues,” said Senator Cantwell. “We in the Pacific Northwest know that we can't always agree on issues, but we know we can agree on science, and that's why science needs to continue to prevail.”

During her questioning of Raimondo, Cantwell asked, “Do you oppose any censorship of scientific data and information coming out of the Department of Commerce? And will you work with us to help restore the confidence in that science and data information and investment in it for the future?” Raimondo responded “yes” to both questions.

In her opening statement, Cantwell highlighted the critical role the Department of Commerce will play in COVID-19 recovery. In particular, she noted her work with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to find ways to support the aerospace manufacturing sector during a time with dramatically decreased demand and discussed the ongoing pandemic’s impact on minority-owned businesses, both in Washington state and around the country.

Cantwell noted the importance of high-quality scientific data in areas like weather forecasting to the wide variety of issues under the purview of the Department of Commerce and called for more investment in U.S. capabilities: “There's no reason why the United States should not be a leader in weather forecasting. This is an important issue for us, whether you're talking about fires or you're talking about ocean issues. So, making a better, crucial investment in science for maritime, aviation, space, and agriculture industries will be very important for us moving forward.”

Senator Cantwell has long called for U.S. spectrum policy to better respect national security, public safety, and scientific spectrum needs, and to be absolutely sure that spectrum decisions do not imperil our ability to get the highest quality weather forecasts.

Cantwell also highlighted the critical role science plays for salmon restoration and for the fishing economy as a whole, both in Washington and throughout the country.

Raimondo responded by pledging to work with Cantwell to support salmon restoration and the fishing industry, and reaffirmed the central role science will play in her decision-making: “I plan to lead with science and lead with data,” Raimondo said.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement can be found HERE and audio is HERE.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with Raimondo can be found HERE and audio is HERE.