Press Releases

Committee Approves Six Bills and Four Nominations

June 16, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved six bills and four nominations, which are now all subject to approval by the full Senate.

Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) provided the following statement on committee approval of the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021:

“The main focus of today's markup is the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021, and Senator Wicker and I introduced this legislation last week. It makes a big down payment, $78 billion, on rebuilding and revamping our nation's critical transportation infrastructure, a key to our economic future and creating more jobs.”

1. S. 66, South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act of 2021

2. S. 1747, Fluke Fairness Act of 2021

a. Wicker 1

3. S. 1890, Protecting Consumers from Travel Fraud Act

a. Klobuchar substitute

4. S. 1894, Regional Ocean Partnership Act

a. Wicker substitute

b. Lee 1 (modified)

5. S. 1995, Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2021

6. S. 2016, Surface Transportation Investment Act

kk. Rosen 3 modified by Rosen 3 (modified)

7. Nomination of Col. Pamela Melroy to be Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (PN406)

8. Nomination of Mr. Carlos Monje to be Undersecretary of Transportation for Policy (PN437)

9. Nomination of Dr. Richard Spinrad to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere

(PN439)

10. Coast Guard Promotions (PN371, PN372, PN424, PN474, PN475)

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Chair Cantwell Applauds Lina Khan’s Confirmation to FTC

June 15, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today applauded the Senate confirmation of President Biden’s nominee, Lina Khan, to serve on the Federal Trade Commission. On May 12, Khan’s nomination was approved by the Committee with a strong bipartisan vote.

“I’m very pleased to congratulate Ms. Khan on her confirmation to the Federal Trade Commission,” said Chair Cantwell. “Her confirmation comes at a critical time for our nation as consumers have spent more time online than ever before during the pandemic, from connecting with loved ones, or staying on top of the news, to making a living by working remotely. As I said during Ms. Khan’s nomination hearing before the Commerce Committee: I believe in the promise of the internet and the information age, but I also believe that we need a policeman – or in this case – a policewoman – on the beat. That is the FTC’s core mission. We must protect consumers from the frauds and scams that have proliferated during the pandemic. We must protect their privacy and renew our focus on cybersecurity– both of which are essential to protecting our national security and infrastructure. And we have to do everything we can to help stabilize the local news ecosystem which has been severely impacted by unfair practices by the major internet advertising platforms. I look forward to working with Ms. Khan and the FTC on these critical issues.”

Chair Cantwell spoke about Ms. Khan at her nomination hearing in April.

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Cantwell, Wicker Introduce Bipartisan Surface Reauthorization

June 10, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) today introduced the Surface Transportation Investment Act which authorizes $78 billion over five years to address key infrastructure and safety priorities broken out as follows: $36 billion for rail, $27.8 billion for multimodal grant programs and $13 billion for safety programs.

“With the economy rebounding, it’s imperative that our long delayed transportation needs are addressed,” Chair Cantwell said. “Whether it’s moving people safely, delivering freight on time, or addressing environmental needs, this legislation is a down payment to thrive and compete in the innovation economy.”

“This bill continues the Commerce Committee’s strong history of working across the aisle to find solutions that benefit all Americans,” Ranking Member Wicker said. “The legislation will grow the economy by increasing authorized funding and making improvements to our rail, freight, ports, research, and safety programs.  I thank Senator Cantwell for her dedication to these issues, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass a comprehensive infrastructure package through the Senate.”

Below are some highlights from the Surface Transportation Investment Act:

MULTIMODAL AND FREIGHT INVESTMENTS - $28 billion

  • Freight: This bill invests an average of $1.2 billion a year in the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight grant program, also known as INFRA. Additionally, the bill provides resources for multistate planning and research.
  • Multimodal Investment: This bill for the first time authorizes the U. S. DOT’s BUILD/RAISE grant program at $1.5 billion annually and creates a new program to fund big dollar value projects of national significance at $2 billion annually. Additionally, the bill provides rural and tribal communities with the resources and tools to better plan and compete for financial assistance. 
  • Multimodal freight policy: The bill authorizes a new office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy, updates the National Freight Strategic Plan, and improves coordination between the federal and state governments on freight planning.

RAIL - $36 billion

  • Passenger Rail: This bill authorizes over $25 billion over five years for intercity passenger rail, the most significant bipartisan investment in passenger rail in history. This bill protects Amtrak’s critically important long-distance routes, provides funding to address the Northeast Corridor project backlog, and encourages expansion of passenger rail corridors with State support.
  • Safety: This bill invests $7.5 billion over five years for rail safety and improvement projects, including a new $500 million per year grant program to eliminate grade crossings and a significant increase in funding for the popular Consolidated Rail and Infrastructure Safety Improvement (CRISI) grant program.
  • RRIF: The bill makes substantial improvements to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF) to make it a more attractive and useful to potential borrowers. For the first time, it authorizes $50 million per year for credit risk premium assistance similar to other U.S. DOT loan programs, expands eligibility to transit-oriented development projects and landside port infrastructure, and codifies the RRIF express program targeted at smaller and rural project applicants.

SAFETY - $13 billion

  • Highway Safety: This bill invests $6 billion into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) highway safety programs
  • Truck Safety: This bill invests $4.6 billion into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) commercial vehicle programs through proven programs that provide flexibility to states to help address highway fatalities, combat human trafficking, and improve law enforcement training. 
  • Hazardous Materials Safety: This legislation invests $500 million dollars over five years to improve first responder planning and training for hazardous material incidents.

RESEARCH - $1 billion

  • This bill invests nearly $1 billion for new and existing research and development programs.

The legislation also reauthorizes and makes important reforms to many of the agencies in the Department of Transportation including:

    • The Office of the Secretary (OST)
    • The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
    • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
    • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
    • The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Hazardous Materials Programs

A summary of the legislation is available HERE, a section-by-section can be found HERE, and the full text of the bill can be read HERE.

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Cantwell, Wicker Introduce Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act

June 9, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) today introduced the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2021. The legislation would reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which supports about $650 million annually in fishery restoration and conservation programs, boating access and infrastructure, as well as fish stocking programs important to recreational anglers. The legislation would also authorize studies on the impacts of non-motorized vessel use on vessel waterway access as well as the impact of abandoned vessels.

“Washingtonians love recreational fishing,” said Chair Cantwell. “That means boating, charter fishing, fly fishing, or even fishing just off the dock. Give us any means possible and we will fish. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which helps keep our lines in the water – and fish on the road to recovery by supporting $600 million per year in fisheries restoration, conservation, and improving access for outdoor recreation.”

“Since 1950, the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund has been a key component in increasing access for marine and freshwater anglers by protecting vital habitats,” said Ranking Member Wicker. “Our legislation would reauthorize this important fund while implementing studies aimed to improve the program. I thank Chair Cantwell for working with me to advance this measure.”

The Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2021 would:

  • Reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund through fiscal year 2026;
  • Authorize a report on the use of the Trust Fund toward improved non-motorized vessel access;
  • Authorize a study on the impacts and potential solutions for abandoned vessels.

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Chair Cantwell at College Athletics Hearing: “This is the Time to Make Progress”

Name, Image, and Likeness Hearing Featured In-Depth Discussion of Increased Rights and Protections for Student-Athletes

June 9, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for action to provide more rights and protections for student-athletes at today’s hearing about college athletics.

“So it is our hope today that this hearing will bring focus and attention to how to resolve the issues that would allow us to grant these important rights to students,” Chair Cantwell said. “And also make sure that we are taking care of our students on important issues like scholarship, health care, transferability, obviously making sure that women are treated equally within the sports arena.”

Chair Cantwell previously introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) guaranteeing equal pay for athletes competing under the American flag at the Olympics or World Cup.

“It's so important for us to listen to the voices that have made so many of these points clear,” Chair Cantwell said. “Dallas Hobbs, a football player at Washington State University, called attention to inadequate COVID protections and formed a unity group with Pac-12 players. We also have heard from Sedona Prince, a college basketball player from the University of Oregon, who shined a spotlight on a persistent gender divide in college sports when she posted a video that literally compared her workout room to the workout room of male athletes during the Final Four tournament, so we can do better.”

During the Q&A portion of today’s hearing, Chair Cantwell asked Dr. Wayne Frederick of Howard University about the issue of health standards and student-athlete safety.

“I want to ask Dr. Frederick, because this issue of heat impacts and horrific news of actual deaths from this,” Chair Cantwell said. “Why can't we just get better health standards to cover the NCAA institutions to set a standard for what health could be, even if it's done here at a federal level, that guidance that must be followed by institutions?”

“You know, I think this is an important point and especially when you look around heat related issues and concussions in particular,” Dr. Frederick responded. “We have to have standards around where the athletes compete. Once again, I think some of the issues here are around education and resources. We must insist that the number of trainers that are out there with the athletes, and someone monitoring the conditions for the individual athletes are part of what is taking place.”

Chair Cantwell also authored a bipartisan resolution honoring the achievements of women athletes and calling for equal treatment and pay.

Video of Chair Cantwell’s opening statement can be found HERE.

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

Transcripts can be found HERE.

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Chair Cantwell Statement on Senate Passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act and NASA Authorization

June 8, 2021

The legislation marks a major commitment to investing in U.S. research, development, and innovation, with the core of the bill advancing out of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee 

Full list of transcripts and videos of Cantwell’s Senate floor speeches below

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today released the following statement after the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act by a final vote of 68-32.

“America is at our best when we are innovating, competing and exploring,” Chair Cantwell said. “Today’s Senate vote is a major step towards building the R&D capacity we need to seize the promise of an Information Age. This bipartisan vote is a huge boost to our innovation ecosystem that will help us keep pace with our competitors.”

Chair Cantwell led the bipartisan process in the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee that culminated in a 24-4 bipartisan vote, and then managed the bill on the floor of the United States Senate.

The bill is a bold initiative to advance United States’ leadership in scientific and technological innovation through investments in the discovery and development of technologies critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness. It would authorize new resources to ensure America does not fall behind in technologies of the future like artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, next generation wireless, composites, and the advanced energy and disaster prevention solutions related to climate change. It would also direct the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and other leading federal agencies to coordinate on science and technology in these areas.

The bipartisan legislation draws on concepts learned from the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization to support translating research into American industries, domestic manufacturing, and the development of a diverse STEM workforce. Chair Cantwell also fought to include aggressive measures to increase diversity and representation in STEM fields, which led to a new, Senate-confirmed Chief Diversity Officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF). To tap into the nation’s diverse talent pools and drive innovation in regional economies, the bill would ensure that research and development funds are made available across the entire country, reserving 20% of NSF funds for building research and STEM capacity in the 28 states and territories that have traditionally received limited NSF support and participate in the “Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research” (EPSCoR).

“If we’re not making the investments here in science and technology and innovation, not only are we missing opportunities in our own country, we are missing opportunities around the globe,” Chair Cantwell said in her floor speech kicking off debate of the bill. She further explained, referencing the comments from NSF Director, that “in this next decade and decades to come, we need innovation everywhere, tied to opportunity everywhere.”

The landmark legislation also incorporates an authorizing bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to support growth in the commercial space industry and reinvigorate America’s leadership in space while carefully stewarding taxpayer dollars.

Cantwell explained, “We also set important policy for NASA, while authorizing the resources needed to protect against programmatic risks and make sure our missions are safe and successful.” 

Key provisions of the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (USICA) will invest to expand U.S. innovation leadership:

Authorize new investments in Federal research and development

  • USICA will authorize more than a doubling of the National Science Foundation budget over five years, from $8.5 billion in FY2020 to $21.3 billion in FY2026.
  • Within that doubling, USICA will authorize a 40% increase in funding for NSF’s core basic and fundamental research activities, from $8.5 billion in FY2020 to $12 billion in FY2026.
  • The funding increase will also include $29B over five years for a new NSF Directorate for Technology and Innovation, to strengthen U.S. leadership in key technology areas.
  • USICA will improve national security by authorizing $17.5 billion over five years at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), doubling the agency budget.
  • USICA will authorize new funding for the Department of Energy research at the National Laboratories and user facilities in key technology areas by 29%, with a focus on innovation in areas like energy storage, grid modernization, and carbon capture.

The bill will grow domestic semiconductor manufacturing capacity and take action to protect other critical U.S. supply chains

  • The USICA will appropriate $39 billion in private-sector matched funds to encourage domestic semiconductor manufacturing capacity, consistent with the “CHIPS Act” in the FY21 National Defense Authorization.
  • USICA will appropriate more than $10 billion for government/industry research, to collaboratively develop the next generation of semiconductor technologies in the United States.
  • The bill will establish a Department of Commerce supply chain resiliency program, bringing together government, industry, and international partners to identify and plan for supply chain gaps before they occur.

Enhance technology transfer and commercialization efforts, increasing the return on our R&D investment and focusing technology research in areas of critical national importance

  • USICA will create a first-of-its-kind NSF technology directorate to accelerate the development and translation of new technologies within the United States.
  • The technology directorate will, for the first time, invest in university technology transfer offices, to identify promising technologies and protect research products through domestic and international patenting.
  • The technology directorate will invest in new DARPA-like technology projects within NSF, working with universities and the private sector to rapidly demonstrate revolutionary technology advances.
  • USICA will direct NSF, the Department of Energy, and other leading agencies to annually review, identify, and coordinate on science and technology areas critical to long-term U.S. competitiveness.
  • USICA will identify well-known technology competition areas, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, advanced manufacturing, next generation wireless, biotechnology, advanced energy technologies, composites, and natural disaster prevention.
  • USICA will authorize an expanded NSF Research Security Office and a new private sector organization to help universities identify and respond to improper foreign exploitation of Federally-funded research.

Invest in creating a diverse and geographically-distributed STEM, research, innovation, and manufacturing workforce

  • USICA will authorize new NSF investment in STEM education and workforce development, from less than $1B in FY2020 to more than $4 billion per year in FY2026.
  • USICA will create a Senate-confirmed position within NSF, focused specifically on metric-driven approaches to improving the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM.
  • USICA will authorize funds for new and existing programs to address STEM workforce gaps, increasing educational capacity at the nation’s institutions, undergraduate research experiences, community college scholarships, apprenticeships, graduate fellowships, and traineeships.
  • USICA will dedicate 20% of all NSF funds to states and jurisdictions that participate in the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which builds research and STEM capacity in areas that traditionally receive less than .75% of NSF’s annual budget.
  • USICA will authorize a new $10 billion dollar Department of Commerce program to build locally-driven regional technology hubs that attract private sector investment and develop the local workforce.
  • USICA will authorize a tripling of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, from $150M to $480M annually, to support small- and medium-sized manufacturers with cybersecurity, workforce training, and supply chain resiliency.

Authorize NASA research activities and require best-practices for missions that will bring Americans to the Moon, on the way to Mars

  • USICA will authorize NASA exploration, aeronautics, and science missions for FY2021, making it U.S. policy to encourage the development of commercial sector operations in low-Earth orbit.
  • USICA will authorize $10B to maintain competition and safety in the Human Lander System program through at least FY2026, consistent with best practice in other commercial space programs.

Senator Cantwell has previously spoken about the Endless Frontier Act on the Senate floor:

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Chair Cantwell’s Resolution Honoring Amtrak’s 50 Years of Service Passes Senate

Chair Cantwell Introduced the Bipartisan Resolution in April

May 27, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, a bipartisan resolution, led by Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), honoring Amtrak’s 50 years of serving American communities, unanimously passed the United States Senate.

“For fifty years, Amtrak lines have been a lifeblood of travel in the United States,” Chair Cantwell said. “In my home state of Washington, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, and Cascades lines provide over 1 million trips across the state each year. We must continue to invest in our celebrated passenger rail system because Amtrak lines like these link people to economic opportunities, tourism destinations, and other communities around our state and across the country.”

Chair Cantwell has been an outspoken advocate for passenger rail and Amtrak. During the pandemic, Cantwell championed $3.7 billion in COVID relief for Amtrak, including $1.7 billion in the American Rescue Plan which restored over 2,000 Amtrak jobs across the country and prevented additional furloughs. Chair Cantwell’s provision requires Amtrak to restore daily long-distance service. She also recently reintroduced legislation to ensure transportation worker safety amidst the public health crisis.?  

The full text of the bipartisan resolution from Chair Cantwell, Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) can be found HERE.

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Committee Approves Office of Science and Technology Policy Nomination

May 20, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved President Biden’s nomination of Dr. Eric S. Lander to be Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) by voice vote. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the committee, spoke about the responsibilities and importance of this Cabinet role, and stressed the need for increased diversity in STEM:

“This position of Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy is charged with advising the president on a broad range of scientific and technical policies to address the nation's problems. We are at a critical moment when science and innovation has never been more important to our health, to our economy, to our well-being, to our planet, and to our way of life. For the first time in our country's history, President Biden has elevated this position to a Cabinet-level post, underscoring its significance and importance of the role that science will play in decision-making.”

“Dr. Lander and I have come to a focus and understanding that the very first task that you should focus on is helping all of us add diversity of women and minorities in the science field… In doing the Endless Frontier Act, we have seen and understood how important an active and aggressive approach that we need to take to this. I'm very proud that the University of Washington had an NSF grant and worked on this very issue, and their most important recommendation to us is we couldn't be passive about this issue. This issue takes an aggressive approach, you have to change the faces of people who are doing science, you have to accommodate women in the challenges that we face that we saw during COVID, of the fact that women were both caregivers and scientists at the same time and thereby didn't have all the resources they needed to get their science work done.”

Video of Chair Cantwell’s opening statement can be found HERE, audio is HERE, and a transcript is HERE.

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Cantwell to DHS Chief Mayorkas: “Urgent Need” to Harden Critical Energy Infrastructure Against Cyberattacks

Chair Cantwell also announces Commerce Committee Hearing to “examine what additional actions must be taken to further strengthen America’s cybersecurity defenses”

May 18, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today wrote to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas regarding the cybersecurity of America’s energy infrastructure in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.

“Having nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply crippled by a single ransomware incident highlights the urgent need to harden our nation’s critical infrastructure against computer errors, criminals, and hostile foreign adversaries,” Chair Cantwell wrote.

Chair Cantwell has been warning for years about America’s vulnerability to an attack of this kind—even issuing this warning during a 2017 Energy and Natural Resources hearing: “There is the issue of cybersecurity that keeps me up at night, thinking about potential hacks from Russia or foreign actors, as we see large-scale attacks happening in other places. If we do not make the necessary investments to prevent, defend against and minimize the impact of these cyberattacks, our enemies may succeed in causing us a widespread blackout or devastation to our economy.”

In 2018, Cantwell joined Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to demand immediate action from the Department of Homeland Security on a series of recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In today’s letter to DHS, Chair Cantwell noted how little progress has been made on those recommendations.

“In December 2018, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Pallone and I wrote to former Secretary Nielson to express our concerns about weaknesses in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) pipeline security management,” Chair Cantwell wrote. “It is extremely concerning that several of the GAO’s recommendations remain open, and I ask that you provide a status update on TSA’s action to address them.”

The Commerce Committee will soon be holding a hearing dedicated to exploring what more can be done to prevent future cyberattacks of this kind and better protect our nation’s critical infrastructure.

You can read Chair Cantwell’s full letter to Secretary Mayorkas HERE.

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Chair Cantwell Statement on Commerce Committee Passage of The Endless Frontier Act, NASA Reauthorization

May 13, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation yesterday held an executive session that included passage of the “Endless Frontier Act,” NASA’s reauthorization as well as other important bills and nominees. Chair Cantwell released the following statement hailing the productive, bipartisan session:

“America is at our best when we are innovating, competing and exploring,” Chair Cantwell said. “This week’s Commerce Committee markup represented a major step towards building the R&D infrastructure we need to seize the promise of an Information Age. We passed the Endless Frontier Act with a big bipartisan vote—a huge boost to our innovation ecosystem that will help us keep pace with our competitors. We also set important policy for NASA, while authorizing the resources needed to protect against programmatic risks and make sure our missions are safe and successful.”

Below are some highlights of the NASA reauthorization:

  1. Extend operations of the International Space Station (“ISS”) to 2030.  Currently ISS is authorized to operate until 2024.

  2. Authorize the Artemis Program, including the Human Lander System. The legislation would explicitly authorize the Human Lander System program at $10.032 billion and require that NASA maintain competition by funding at least two commercial capabilities.

  3. Accelerate Development of the Space Launch System’s (“SLS”) Exploration Upper Stage (“EUS”).   The SLS with EUS will be the most powerful rocket ever built.

  4. Authorize a Series of Aeronautics Projects.  NASA aeronautics precompetitive research and development has helped the domestic aviation industry stay competitive.  The legislation would authorize a series of X-plane demonstrators that will focus on energy efficiency, developing a low-boom supersonic aircraft, and more.  The legislation also authorizes an advanced materials and manufacturing technology program, which includes composite materials. 

  5. Establish a Skilled Technical Education Outreach Program.  The bill would direct NASA to create a skilled technical education outreach program to expose K-12 students to skilled technical occupations at NASA centers.

  6. Extend NASA’s Enhanced Use Leasing (“EUL”) Authority. This bill would extend NASA’s EUL authority for five years.  EUL allows NASA to lease underutilized real estate they own to industry, including launch pads. 

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Speeches

Inouye Applauds Senate Passage of Historic Fuel Economy Legislation

December 13, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) delivered the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate just before passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
 
“Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Renewable Consumer and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007. After months of constructive negotiations, we have successfully crafted thoughtful and rich bipartisan agreement, particularly in Title I, otherwise known as the ‘Ten-in-Ten’ Fuel Economy Act. Title I would mandate an increase in automobile fuel economy to a nation-wide fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. In addition, the Department of Transportation would adopt fuel economy standards for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles for the first time.
 
“Today’s agreement marks historic progress: This is the first statutory increase in fuel economy standards for cars since 1975. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil is of vital importance to our national security, economic stability, and consumer welfare; the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act is a major step forward in achieving these goals. 
 
“Title I of the bill will save approximately 1.1 million barrels of oil per day in 2020, equal to one half of what we currently import daily from the Persian Gulf. By the year 2020, the legislation will save consumers approximately $22 billion at the pump and prevent approximately 200 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from polluting our environment each year. By dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, Title I would demonstrate to the world that America is a leader in fighting global warming.
 
“Legislation of this magnitude could have only been achieved through the hard work of a coalition of Members. In this case, without Senators Feinstein, Stevens, Snowe, Kerry, Dorgan, Lott, Carper, Boxer, Durbin, Alexander, Corker, and Cantwell, the agreement would not have been reached.
 
“In particular, I wish to congratulate Senator Feinstein on her efforts in developing this bill. Her dedication over the years has led to a public policy that very few thought possible.  I would also like to praise the efforts of my good friend Senator Stevens, who was instrumental in forging the compromise before us. I also would like to thank Chairman Dingell and Senators Levin and Stabenow for their hard work and willingness to achieve an agreement that aggressively improves fuel economy while protecting domestic automobile manufacturing and U.S. workers. The American automaker and autoworker have no better champions.
 
“In addition, the tireless efforts of groups dedicated to conservation and improving national security were vital to enacting this legislation. Of special note is the support of a non-partisan group of business executives and retired senior military leaders concerned about global energy security, known as Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE). I am grateful for the support and hard work of its leaders Frederick W. Smith and General P.X. Kelley, as well as Robbie Diamond, who served as their liaison. The Union of Concerned Scientists, David Friedman in particular, provided significant technical support and advocacy for the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act.   
 
“Finally, Mr. President, I would like to express my appreciation to all the hard working members of the staff who worked to make this historical legislation a reality. In particular, I would like to commend David Strickland, Alex Hoehn-Saric, Mia Petrini, and Jared Bomberg of my Commerce Committee staff for a job well done.
 
“The importance of this legislation cannot be underestimated. During the Arab oil embargo in 1973, Americans suffered the first devastating effects of our addiction to oil. Born out of this embargo, Congress put in place a fuel economy program that nearly doubled the gas mileage of cars from 1975 to 1985.  Passage of this bill will ensure that our nation’s energy priorities start moving in the right direction again. 
 
“Higher fuel economy standards will wean the country of its oil addiction, put billions of dollars of savings back into our domestic economy, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
 
“A diverse group of constituencies support the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act, from environmentalists to automotive workers and automakers. While it sets forth aggressive standards, the Act also recognizes the challenges faced by the auto industry and ensures that those concerns will be addressed.  Providing flexibility to the automotive industry, the sponsors of these fuel economy provisions have worked together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that automakers have the tools they need to meet the requirements enumerated in the Act.  The Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act directs the Secretary of Transportation to create two fuel economy curves, one for passenger cars and one for light trucks. 
This change from the Senate–passed bill provides the certainty that American automakers, auto workers, and car dealers requested, but the Act still requires that the combined car and light truck fleet meet a fuel economy standard of at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020.    
 
“Our actions today will improve national security, create jobs, help consumers, and protect the environment. At times it is the government’s responsibility to balance conflicting interests. Today, I believe we found that balance.”
 
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Sen. Stevens Speaks on Aviation and Surface Transportation Security Legislation

March 1, 2007

 

 

Senator Stevens:  I thank my colleagues, Senators Lieberman and Collins for working with the Commerce Committee to include important security measures in this bill.  And, I’m very grateful to my great friend, Senator Inouye, for his willingness to work in our committee on a bipartisan basis to develop and report these measures.   

In the five and a half years since the horrific events of September 11th, we have made many improvements in the security of our nation’s transportation infrastructure and ensured communications interoperability.

Our job is far from over, whether it’s more improvements to be made or gaps to close.  In matters of security, we must not become complacent – as our enemies adapt, so must we. 

The Commerce Committee’s aviation and surface transportation security legislation, which have been included in S. 4 – will significantly enhance the ability of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), to fulfill their missions.  These provisions were developed by the Commerce Committee while mindful of the delicate balance between implementing tough security measures and the effect such regulations may have on the nation’s economy and the movement of goods.

The aviation provisions incorporated into S. 4 were reported by the Commerce Committee on February 13th as S. 509, the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 2007.  The provisions incorporate aviation-related 9/11 commission recommendations, and provide TSA with additional tools to carry out its layered approach to security. 

To do this, the aviation security provisions dedicate continued funding for the installation of in-line explosive detection systems utilized for the enhanced screening of checked baggage at our nation’s airports. 

We all recognize the importance of screening 100 percent of cargo transported to and within the .  Last year, in the SAFE Port Act, Congress acted to ensure that all cargo arriving in the by sea is screened.  In S. 4, we ensure that 100 percent of air cargo also is screened.  The air cargo supply chain handles over 50,000 tons of cargo each day, of which 26 percent is designated for domestic passenger carriers. 

Screening is particularly important in Alaska .  Anchorage, my home, is the number one airport in the for landed weight of cargo, and it is number three in the world for cargo throughput.  Our provision would require TSA to develop and implement a system to provide for the screening of all cargo being carried by passenger aircraft.

To address on-going concerns about passenger pre-screening procedures, the legislation requires DHS to create an “Office of Appeals and Redress” to establish a timely and fair process for airline passengers who believe they have been misidentified against the “No-Fly” or “Selectee” watch lists. 

TSA’s “layered approach to security” relies not only upon equipment and technological advances, but also upon improved security screening techniques employed by the TSA screeners as well as the very effective use of canines.  This legislation calls for TSA’s National Explosives Detection Canine Team to deploy more of these valuable resources across the nation’s transportation network.

The bill we are considering also contains the provisions of S. 184, the Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act of 2007, which was also developed and reported on a bipartisan basis by the Commerce Committee.

While the aviation industry has received most of the attention and funding for security, the rail and transit attacks in , , and all point to a common strategy utilized by terrorists.  The openness of our surface transportation network presents unique security challenges.  The vastness of these systems requires targeted allocation of our resources based on risk. 

Most of the surface transportation security provisions in the bill before the Senate today have been included previously as part of other transportation security bills introduced by Senator Inouye, Senator McCain, and myself.  Many of the provisions in the substitute amendment passed the Senate unanimously last year, as well as in the 108th Congress.  Each time, however, the House of Representatives did not agree to the need to address rail, pipeline, motor carrier, hazardous materials and other over-the-road security.  The time has come to send these provisions to the President’s desk.  We’re hopeful the House will agree this time.

The substitute also contains the provisions of the Commerce Committee-reported measure, S. 385, the Interoperable Emergency Communications Act.  Since 2001, we have heard the cries of public safety officials that the police, firefighters and emergency medical response personnel throughout the country need help achieving interoperability.

With this $1 billion program that helps every state, public safety will be able to move forward with real solutions and begin addressing the problems that have plagued our nation’s first responders for too long.

The legislation addresses all of the public safety issues that have been brought to the Commerce Committee’s attention.  It also includes $100 million to establish both Federal and State strategic technology reserves that will restore communications quickly in disasters equal in scale to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. 

We must not politicize national security.  The Commerce Committee’s provisions included in this bill are very important, and I urge their adoption.  Again, I thank very much the cooperation of the Homeland Security Government Affairs Committee. We achieved our reported bills that I have mentioned here from the Commerce Committee because of the bipartisanship in our Committee.  I hope that this debate on this important bill before the Senate will continue in that same spirit.  The American people really expect and deserve nothing less.

 

Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young Speak at Signing of Enrolled Magnuson-Stevens Act

January 3, 2007

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in his role as President Pro Tempore, sign the enrolled Magnuson-Stevens Act on Wednesday, January 3, 2007. Stevens was joined by Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) at the ceremony. The Magnuson-Stevens Act passed both the House and Senate last December. Legislation that passes both the House and Senate must be enrolled and signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate before being sent to the President for final signature and approval into law.

Op-Eds

Can the Right Technology End Distracted Driving?

February 5, 2014

Can the Right Technology End Distracted Driving?

By Sen. Jay Rockefeller

Roll Call

Feb. 5, 2014

JDR Head ShotAt any given moment during any given day, hundreds of thousands of drivers in the United States are using their phones while behind the wheel — talking, texting or searching for information — and endangering their lives and the lives of those around them. Technology may be part of our daily habits, but using these devices while driving is becoming a fatal vice that threatens to undo the remarkable progress we have made to improve highway safety. According to the National Safety Council, as many as a quarter of today’s automobile crashes involve drivers talking or texting on their phones, and there is no sign of the problem abating.

Surveys show that nearly all Americans know the perils of distracted driving — that texting behind the wheel, for instance, makes it 23 times more likely that they will be involved in a crash. Yet the temptations to use electronic devices, and the resulting tragedies, persist.

Auto companies and the software industry are now eagerly developing in-car “infotainment” systems that offer ever-more connectivity and features to mirror the temptations of our smartphones. They say consumers are demanding constant connectivity in the car, and that these systems are safer than the alternatives. Further, they claim transferring such functionalities from the phone to the built-in system will reduce distractions and increase our safety because drivers will put down their phones.

Despite these new advances, I reject this “lesser of two evils” reasoning that, because in-car infotainment systems are supposedly safer than hand-held smartphones, they belong in cars. Lost amid this focus on a technological solution is careful consideration of whether these onboard systems should, in fact, replicate so much of the connectivity — a lot of it completely unrelated to driving — that we have on smartphones. For instance, I see no reason drivers should be able to update their social-media profiles or compare restaurant and hotel reviews while behind the wheel. Furthermore, researchers have shown that distractions come in different forms, and, while these in-car systems can reduce the amount of time that the drivers’ hands and eyes are off the wheel and the road, attention can still dangerously wander. 

In contrast to the current industry approach, I believe we should be leveraging the technology in our cars and harnessing the same ingenuity to reduce distracted driving, rather than creating new forms of distraction. Many drivers may, in fact, prefer to limit their distractions while they are on the road. And many parents would like the ability to establish such limitations for teen drivers in their family. Perhaps we should be looking to limit the functionality of mobile and built-in technologies, rather than accommodate them.

I strongly believe phones should be capable of automatically limiting functionalities while in the car, whether the phones are connected to the in-car systems or not. We know that technological means of accomplishing this already exist, but they are not widely available and do not seamlessly operate across software platforms. Mobile device-makers, software developers, automakers and wireless carriers should be working collaboratively now to remove these obstacles. This is a problem that cannot be solved by just one industry alone, and I would like to see broad cooperation across the spectrum of stakeholders.

Later this week, I am convening a summit on this critical public safety matter and bringing all of the key industries to the same table and pushing them to act — and to act now. Over the course of my chairmanship of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, I have dedicated significant attention to protecting Americans on our nation’s roadways. Yes, the car has never been safer, and technology has been a key ingredient in that success, but this progress is being undermined by the glut of nonessential technology that has nothing to do with the task of driving. 

It is my hope and expectation that the summit will spur industries to proactively seek technological solutions that can be widely adopted, readily available, and highlight to the public the life-or-death matter of staying focused behind the wheel.

###

The Digital Revolution Must Be Televised Nationwide

October 16, 2007

The Hill Special Report: Telecom - A revolution is coming to television sets across this country. On February 17, 2009–less than 500 days away–television broadcasters will switch from analog to digital signals. For viewers, this change holds tremendous promise. By migrating to digital, they can enjoy dramatically sharper pictures and crisper sound. Broadcasters now offering a single channel of analog programming will be able to develop multiple digital channels, with more regional news, weather, children’s fare, and content for non-English speakers. On top of this, the switch to digital means more efficient use of our airwaves, opening up more spectrum for our nation’s first responders.


The rewards of a successful digital television (DTV) transition are enormous. Like in any revolution, however, these rewards come with an undercurrent of risk. As many as 21 million households rely exclusively on over-the-air television. These households risk seeing their sets go dark. So do millions more that have one or more analog sets that are not connected to either cable or satellite service. Yet a recent poll from the National Association of Broadcasters suggests that only 1 in 10 Americans know when the digital transition is coming.


To ensure success, we must draw up a battle plan. At the federal level, this responsibility falls principally on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).


The FCC is charged with managing the airwaves used by our nation’s broadcasters. It must act decisively to ensure that broadcasters are fully prepared for the switch. It also must ensure that consumers are not only generally informed about the DTV transition, but also are given information tailored to advise them about changes occurring in the communities where they live.


The NTIA is in charge of the government program that, beginning January 1, 2008, will allow consumers to request up to two $40 coupons per household to defray the cost of digital-to-analog converter boxes. These boxes make it possible for consumers who rely on over-the-air service to continue to receive television broadcasts. Without them, their sets could cease to work. But with three months to go, the NTIA program is plagued by uncertainties. It is not clear which boxes have been certified and which retailers will stock them on their shelves.


Getting these boxes in the hands of consumers is a challenge. Getting the word out is even more daunting. Yet to date, efforts on the outreach front have been patchy. The FCC is in the early stages of reaching out to at-risk populations. The NTIA has $5 million to spend on consumer outreach, but its efforts have barely begun. Making a complicated situation even more difficult, the General Accountability Office (GAO) has suggested the absence of federal action is raising questions about who has ultimate authority for the switch. In the ominous words of a recent GAO witness: “It’s pretty clear to us that there is no one in charge.”


The time has come to manage the mechanics of the transition with the American public in mind. First, to get this done right, the Administration should establish a federal, interagency DTV Task Force, co-chaired by leadership at the FCC and NTIA. The DTV Task Force would determine how best to marshal existing resources across the federal government and advise Congress as to what additional measures may be necessary to ensure a smooth transition. A similar structure was used successfully to coordinate federal action in addressing the Y2K problem.


Second, as we develop this national effort, it is imperative that we match our work with local needs and strategies. National messages will only take us so far. What works in Houston may not work in Honolulu. Questions about the impact of broadcast tower construction, the presence of translator stations, and the need for antennas will require local answers. We need the equivalent of DTV “block captains” ready, willing, and able in every media market in this country.


Finally, we must enhance transparency and accountability for the digital transition. Indeed, success will require that we regularly measure data in each television market. As part of this assessment, the DTV Task Force should consider ways of collecting and reporting granular data that will validate successful strategies and provide early warning when we are at risk of running off the rails.


The countdown to February 17, 2009 is on. For the revolution to yield benefits for viewers across the country, the time to act is now.

THE HILL OP-ED: Communications issues still need Congress’s attention

February 7, 2007

As our nation moves farther into the digital age, there are several important issues that Congress should consider which will dramatically affect the way millions of Americans communicate. These issues include reforming universal service, easing the transition to digital television, and encouraging Internet access.


All Americans deserve the advantages presented by essential communications, and telemedicine and distance learning are especially important to rural America. To encourage the deployment of such services, we must maintain and reform the universal service program, which helps connect the entire nation. An important and overdue first step is the USA Act (S.101 – the Universal Service for Americans Act), which mirrors language contained in the comprehensive communications bill reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee last year.


The USA Act would place all communications companies on a level playing field, acknowledging new technologies and lowering the burden on industry. The bill ensures continued support for schools and libraries to provide broadband Internet access to students, library patrons and health clinics (including rural pharmacies). Additionally, it creates a program to support the expansion of broadband Internet access in underserved areas. More will need to be done, but these measures are desperately needed to ensure access to communications for all Americans so our nation does not lose its technological edge.


Basic communications services for Americans are not the only issues that need to be addressed. A sea change is coming in the way Americans watch television, especially for those who receive broadcast signals over the air. Last year, the Senate set a hard date for the transition from analog television broadcasting to digital television broadcasting. This transition will allow broadcast spectrum to be devoted to emergency interoperable communications for police, firemen, paramedics and other first responders.


Also, pursuant to the digital transition law, valuable broadcast spectrum will be auctioned and proceeds will fund a converter box program to ease the digital transition for consumers. Auction proceeds will also fund important grants for public safety and first responders. To help with the transition, the National Association of Broadcasters is launching a massive education campaign to ensure consumers are aware of the coming change and are prepared for the switch to digital signals.


The Internet is an increasingly vital part of our daily lives, and Congress must work to ensure that we do not hinder its growth. It is imperative that the government find ways to encourage the deployment of broadband throughout the nation and promote increased Internet access for all Americans. The digital television transition, which passed last Congress, will free up valuable spectrum for increased broadband Internet deployment.


The FCC has also played an important part in this goal by recently approving an item that will speed the deployment of advanced networks by telephone companies. Such networks will provide competition for cable companies, and reduce prices. These networks will also increase quality television programming and offer Americans even faster Internet access. Congress can also play a role in supporting improved Internet access by extending the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which will expire on Nov. 1, 2007.


As Congress addresses these pressing communications issues, it should not get sidetracked by theoretical problems. Some members of Congress would impose net regulation in an era of unprecedented investment, innovation and job creation. I continue to support the right of every broadband consumer to access all legal content on the Internet. But behind flashy catchphrases, special interests are pushing agendas that will not solve the communications issues that require immediate attention. In fact, both Robert Kahn and David Farber, known as the father and grandfather of the Internet, are firmly opposed to sweeping regulation of the Internet.


The Internet has not only existed, but flourished without unnecessary government intervention. It is my hope that special interests do not succeed in denying consumers the benefits of communications technology, investment, innovation and jobs.


Stevens is the ranking member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.