Chairman Rockefeller's Remarks on Today's Executive Session

November 19, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As we have a quorum, Senator Hutchison will make a motion to adopt the bills and a number of agreed to amendments. I want to briefly summarize the bills and accepted amendments, before the committee today.

I know members wish to speak on various bills, and I will be happy to give everyone an opportunity to speak after the bills have been adopted.

We will begin by considering S. 592, Senator Cantwell’s Local Community Radio Act of 2009, eliminating statutory obstacles to licensing more low-power FM stations and directing the FCC to modify its rules to provide more opportunities for new low power stations. These are important local voices that offer community-based radio services in a low-cost and flexible manner and I support this legislation.

S. 850, the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 offered by Senator Kerry, would clarify that the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, which prohibited the practice of removing sharks’ fins and discarding their carcasses at sea, applies not only in the case of fishing vessels but also non-fishing vessels.

The third bill, S. 1224, the Chesapeake Bay Science, Education, and Ecosystem Enhancement Act of 2009, would improve protection of the Chesapeake Bay and extend more economic and environmental benefits to the animals, and living resources that rely on it, including the more than 16 million people who live in its watershed. I commend Senator Warner for leading this effort and I support his legislation.

S. 2764 the Satellite TV Extension and Localism Act reauthorizes the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA) and addresses a new digital broadcast world. Introduced by Senator Kerry and myself working closely with Senator Hutchinson, the reauthorization encourages satellite carriers and broadcasters to better serve their consumers.

I have heard from my colleagues about their desire to incentivize satellite carriers to provide more local programming to rural markets. I agree and as we merge Commerce’s bill with Judiciary’s part of the reauthorization, I will make this one of my highest priorities.

Several amendments have been filed to this bill. It is my understanding that the sponsors of these amendments will not seek a recorded vote on them, but they do wish to speak about them. After giving Senators Hutchison and Kerry the opportunity to talk about STELA, I will recognize those members.

We will also consider S. 2768, the National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act of 2009. The NTSB is a world-class investigative body with over 40 years of experience and reauthorization will provide the tools to continue the Board’s success, while addressing new challenges, and working to improve the safety of our transportation system.

These important bills carry the tremendous promise of making a real difference in people’s lives. That is why we’re here, and I thank my colleagues on this committee for their steadfast commitment to getting this done.

Senator Dorgan, I understand you have to leave. So let me thank you for your leadership and partnership on NTSB Reauthorization. You are welcome to make any comments at this time.