Cantwell Takes Over as Chair of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation—First Woman to Chair the Committee

February 11, 2021

TV-Quality Video | Audio | Transcript

New Chair identifies three priorities: COVID-19 relief, planning for the information age, addressing economic disparities

Chair Cantwell: “I may be the first woman [to lead] this committee, but… I don’t plan on being the last”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a hearing today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) officially took over as Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, becoming the first woman to chair the committee in its history.

In her remarks, Cantwell thanked Roger Wicker (R-MS) for his leadership of the committee and for the bipartisanship that helped them pass a number of major accomplishments into law, including landmark aviation safety legislation and the reauthorization of the Coast Guard. She also spoke about her priorities for the committee in the 117th Congress, starting with passing more COVID-19 relief and protecting consumers from pandemic-related fraud and abuse:

“We have to continue addressing the COVID pandemic and the crisis in the impact that it’s having on our economy. We're right now in the midst of another transportation package to help revive our economy and help continue to work,” Cantwell said. “We are looking to our FTC to make sure that there are no fraudulent products and materials out here, like masks, that my state is facing.

Cantwell identified two other priorities: addressing the challenges we face living in an information age and confronting disparities in the economy.

“We live in an information age, and we just have to own up to it. To me it's better to prepare for that information age, so everything from privacy to broadband to AI to cybersecurity to STEM. I look forward to working with all my colleagues who have had so much legislation introduced on that.”

“I do think our committee has to work hard in this information age at the disparities that we have in our economy. I do think, just like this committee dealt with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, I do think that we can work together… And, to my fellow colleagues, all of you but particularly the women, I hope that we can do a better job on strategies to help women in the workforce, particularly in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. I may be the first woman of this committee, but I can tell you this--I don't plan on being the last.”

Senator Cantwell is not the first Senator from the State of Washington to chair the committee. Senator Warren Magnuson chaired the committee for 22 years from 1955-1977, during which time they passed landmark civil rights and consumer protection legislation. Cantwell noted the importance of leading the committee in the same collegial and efficient way he did, all while putting the needs of the American people first.

Video of the gavel transfer and Senator Cantwell’s remarks is available HERE, audio is HERE, and the transcript is HERE.