WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nomination hearing on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 to consider the presidential nomination of Don Graves to be Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce.
- Mr. Don Graves to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce
*Witness list subject to change
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Full Committee (Hybrid)
This hearing will take place in the Russell Senate Office Building 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on 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 markup. Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this markup via the live stream.
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Chair Maria Cantwell
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
Opening Statement at Senate Commerce Committee Hearing entitled “Nomination Hearing”
Witnesses: Mr. Don Graves to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce
March 10, 2021
Cantwell: This morning we are reviewing the nomination of Deputy Secretary position for Mr. Don Graves. Welcome to the committee and we look forward to hearing from you this morning and hearing your testimony.
Before I begin, or before we begin, I should say, I want to take a moment to acknowledge what is really a solemn milestone. Today marks the two year anniversary of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash and we honor and remember the 157 victims and their families, along with 189 lives lost on the Lion Air Flight 610. These tragedies remind us that there is still much at stake in aviation safety policy. In December, Congress passed important safety reform legislation and these comprehensive safety reform laws now must be implemented by the FAA. It requires this disclosure of new and novel systems and requires those systems like MCAS to be fully vetted by the FAA. The new law also requires manufacturers to adopt safety management systems, create safe reporting structures, and make sure that new whistleblower protections are in place. So, I'm grateful to the families for their tireless advocacy in this effort and clearly for the great work that our committee did in trying to address the crisis.
Wicker: Will the Chair yield on that?
Wicker: I thank Senator Cantwell for mentioning this and indeed this is one of the most gripping, one of the saddest events, series of events, that we've had to deal with. I think this committee rose to the occasion and It was a pleasure to collaborate with you, Senator Cantwell, and with other members of this committee. I think we ended up with a great product. We ended up in our oversight function, finding a lot of deficiencies that come with human nature and we have legislative legislation in place to address that. And so, it's appropriate that we pause on this solemn anniversary, but also for me to thank you, and members on both sides of the dais, and our terrific staff for coming together with a product that should provide much of the answer. So thank you.
Cantwell: Well thank you, Senator Wicker and thank you for your leadership, and we look forward to continuing to work with you on our oversight role of the FAA, but thank you for that statement.
We will now turn to the nomination of Mr. Graves. So, welcome again to the Commerce Committee. I'm excited to have this nominee as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Commerce before us today because I'm confident he will be a strong partner for the committee, and all of our efforts to help support innovation and growth to our economy. Mr. Graves, thank you for your willingness to serve, and we look forward to hearing your vision. If confirmed, you would bring tremendous experience to the role, both from public and private sector experience. He is focused on supporting local communities, developing workforce to compete in today's environment, helping to support good paying jobs, helping entrepreneurs and making sure that we continue to tackle some of the many challenges that our nation faces. He has served as Deputy Secretary for the Small Business and Policy Advisor at the Department of Treasury. He served as Director of Public Policy at the Business Roundtable, where he saw first-hand what makes some of our most successful businesses work in the private sector. And he's been the executive director of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a critical role in the economic recovery after the Great Recession. Also been Executive Vice President, head of corporate responsibility and community relations for KeyBank, where he led sustainable economic development initiatives and I appreciate their efforts, one of the institutions that used the EXIM Bank pretty fully and so we appreciate that because that's very supportive of an export economy. And he also served as President Obama's point person for the Federal Detroit Working Group and then on Vice President Biden’s Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative.
Not unlike the other roles you've had Mr. Graves, this is a big job under any circumstances, but right now it seems like an immense challenge. Our country is reeling from the deadly pandemic, our economy is still picking up the pieces from the economic fallout that has pursued because of that. To recover, we must focus on empowering workers throughout the country to compete and thrive in a 21st century economy. When I talk to people throughout the state of Washington I hear the same message over and over again: our workers need the tools and resources to compete and our businesses need to have the opportunities that trade relationships offer for them. They like to open up markets, they get that 95% of consumers live outside the United States, and that we've crossed the threshold of a population that is middle class and it's a growing economic opportunity for American goods and products. So, we want to know how the Department is going to use its opportunity there to help the American economy, plays a key role in export promotion through the International Trade Administration's U.S. Commercial Service. American jobs depend on trade, and growing trade is essential. In 2019, our state exported over $60 billion worth of goods to countries all over the world. So that's planes, and cloud services, and cherries, and apples, and wheat, and fish just to mention a few, but our state is a very trade dependent state. I actually point out to people that I'm pretty sure that we were already trading with China before Lewis and Clark showed up. So, we want to continue that effort.
In the previous administration, unilateral approaches cost us 245,000 American jobs, and companies at least 1.7 trillion in market capitalization. So, I hope that the Biden Administration and your team particularly at the Department of Commerce will set a goal to help us grow U.S. exports and make sure we meet that. I know the Obama Administration had a goal of increasing exports by 50% over five years, and while they fell short, it was, you know, they still had a very robust goal. I think they had something like a 60 or 65% increase of where they were so I mean, they got 65% of their goal. And so, I think this is a very good goal and I hope that we will look at that.
I also hope you prioritize the US-EU Privacy Shield agreement, and the free flow of data across borders. My colleague, Ranking Member Wicker has been consistently pointing out how critical this agreement is and to get an agreement where we can move forward.
I also want the Biden Administration to elevate the role of science and decision making. Over the last four years, we saw science ignored and undermined and we can't afford that. Our Pacific Northwest fisheries continue to need a science-based fisheries management system. And this is so important for sustainable fisheries, for the economic impact that they have on our communities. In 2018 commercial fishermen caught more than 9.8 billion pounds of seafood, and that in turn supported seafood processors, shipbuilders, trade, and restaurant jobs. In total there's more than a million jobs across the United States supported by the seafood sector and I'm sure you probably know from your previous jobs that there is a lot of international issues here, a lot of market access issues here, but I believe that our sustainable fisheries policy is the idea that we should be exporting, so that people understand what sustainable fisheries around the globe really look like and what we can do.
Another area of science will be weather forecasting and weather forecasting infrastructure. The United States must be a leader in predicting and forecasting weather. Another crucial investment is just the fact that that information on weather makes so many other decisions for shipping, for maritime, for agriculture, actually space, NASA, everybody needs this information, so I hope we can count on you to help bridge that gap.
You'll also as oversight be given additional responsibility to help bridge the digital divide, particularly in Tribal communities. A 2019 report from the FCC said that less than half of those households in Indian Country have high-speed broadband service, a 27% gap from non-Tribal areas. So, we tried to enhance that in the December COVID package, and we'll look forward to working with you on that.
And I will have questions about the census, when we get to our Q&A because we certainly think that that is a priority as well.
So now I'll turn to my colleague Senator Wicker for his opening statement.
Mr. Don GravesDeputy SecretaryDepartment of Commerce