Chairman Rockefeller's Remarks on Today's Nominees

July 8, 2009

Washington, D.C.--Good Afternoon, I want to welcome everyone to our hearing on the five critical nominations of very talented public servants.
Each one of these talented individuals will be responsible for leading the way forward at very different agencies -- the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC).  But together, they represent a renewed commitment to keeping this nation prosperous and innovative, our communities safe and growing.
A few of my colleagues will make introductions, but I’d like to take a brief moment to welcome and introduce these incredible nominees.
Mr. Charles Bolden Jr., the President’s nominee for Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) comes to us after a distinguished 34-year career in the military.  He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003 as the Commanding General of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing.  Mr. Bolden is also an astronaut who has flown on four Space Shuttle missions – two as Shuttle pilot, and two as Shuttle Commander.  He also has the unique distinction of flying with a member of the Commerce Committee, our very own Senator Bill Nelson – or as he was known on the Shuttle, “Payload Specialist Bill Nelson.” 
Mr. Bolden is accompanied today by a very supportive – and large – group of family and friends.  I am told that on his first Space Shuttle mission, numerous busloads of his family and friends made the trip to Cape Canaveral.  It’s good to see so many of them here today as we consider his nomination.
Ms. Lori Garver, the President’s nominee for Deputy Administrator of NASA, brings over 20 years of experience in space and aeronautics.  Ms. Garver was the lead civil space policy advisor for Obama for America, and she helped lead the Agency Review Team for NASA during the transition.  Ms. Garver has previously served as NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Office of Policy and Plans and as a primary spokesperson for NASA. 
Ms. Polly Trottenberg, the President’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy at the Department of Transportation, has devoted her career to transportation, including a long history in the Senate. She has worked for such esteemed members of the Senate as Senator Moynihan, Senator Schumer, and Senator Boxer. She currently serves as Executive Director of Building America's Future.  With her extensive experience, I know she will be an asset to the Department.
Mr. Richard A. Lidinsky, the President’s nominee to be a Commissioner at the Federal Maritime Commission, has dedicated more than 35 years to the international maritime industry serving in positions in both business and government. If confirmed, Mr. Lidinsky will be responsible for ensuring that U.S. international trade is open to all nations on fair and equitable terms, and protecting against unauthorized activity in the waterborne commerce of the United States. 
Finally, I want to take a few moments to welcome back to the Committee a special friend of my home state of West Virginia - Ms. Deborah Hersman. 
Ms. Hersman spent several years on this side of the dais and returns here for a second time as a nominee to serve on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).  She has also been nominated to be the Chairman of the NTSB: a true testament to how well President Obama believes she has served in her current position.
I am proud to say that Ms. Hersman comes from some very good roots. Both of Debbie’s parents were born in Charleston West Virginia and raised in Spencer, West Virginia (Roane County).   Her father, Walt Hersman, is here today and I think it’s safe to say he is one proud father.  He was a test pilot and fighter pilot and retired as a Brigadier General in the Air Force.  Although the Air Force had her family traveling all over the world while she was growing up, she always called West Virginia home.
After attending college at Virginia Tech, Ms. Hersman worked for then Congressman and now former Governor of West Virginia Bob Wise.  After her time on the House side, Ms. Hersman joined us here at the Senate Commerce Committee for five years to lead the Committee’s Surface Transportation Subcommittee team, handling the economic and safety regulation of railroads, trucks, buses, pipelines, and hazardous materials transportation issue.  In 2004, Ms. Hersman was nominated and confirmed by the Senate to serve as a member on the NTSB. 
As a Board member, Ms. Hersman has led investigations into several major transportation tragedies.  Most recently she has been working very hard to address the horrible accident that occurred right here on the Washington, D.C. Metro system.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who lost their loved ones in that accident.
I could go on and on about Ms. Hersman and how proud our state is of all her accomplishments.  She is a remarkable leader and I am so very pleased that the Committee can consider her nomination here today.
To all of these remarkable nominees -- Mr. Bolden, Ms. Garver, Ms. Trottenberg, Mr. Lidinsky, and Ms. Hersman – thank you for joining us.  It’s great to have you before the Committee and I look forward to your speedy confirmations so you can get right to work – there is much work to do.