Press Releases

Chair Cantwell Leads Congressional Resolution In Honor of Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary

President Biden Will Mark Amtrak’s Historic Milestone With an Event in Philadelphia Today

April 30, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and today released the following statement along with her bipartisan resolution honoring Amtrak on the occasion of 50 years serving American communities.

“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.”

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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Cantwell, Blunt Introduce Bill to Address Dangerous and Costly At-Grade Crossing Delays

Bipartisan Legislation Takes Aim at Crossings That Create Safety Hazards, Slow Freight Movement, and Snarl Traffic in Communities Across the Country

April 29, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) today introduced legislation that will provide $500 million a year for five years to improve safety and reduce congestion at railroad crossings in communities around the country.

“Communities throughout Washington state know the safety and congestion challenges posed by at-grade crossings,” Chair Cantwell said. “Too many people are injured or killed at at-grade crossings, and the safest crossing is one that does not exist. Crossings can also delay the movement of people and goods all across the United States, hurting our competitiveness. With the volume of freight shipments projected to increase 17% by the year 2030, it is critical we act now to address this urgent infrastructure need. The legislation Senator Blunt and I are introducing today would authorize grants for state, local, and Tribal governments to eliminate at-grade crossing conflicts to improve safety and help the U.S. economy by decreasing freight congestion.”

“As a state with the 10th largest number of railroad miles in the nation, Missourians are no stranger to the safety issues and inconveniences caused by rail crossings,” Senator Blunt said. “Getting rid of rail crossings will reduce traffic jams, improve the quality of life, and – most importantly - increase safety in communities across the state. In addition, removing crossings will increase the reliability of our rail network and strengthen Missouri’s role as a national transportation hub.”

Train passage through at-grade crossings can occupy crossings for hours at a time, separating neighborhoods and towns in two. Additionally, incidents at railroad crossings account for about 30 percent of all rail-related fatalities.

Grade separation projects eliminate the intersection, improving safety and mobility for the whole community. This bill authorizes $500 million annually for five years to help states, cities, and Tribes plan and construct grade crossing separation projects, as well as other track relocation projects to improve safety or reduce congestion.

Voices in Support:

Peter King, CEO, Association of Washington Cities: “Unsafe rail crossings plague many cities in Washington. Fixing these crossings is very expensive, often millions of dollars more than a local community can afford. We are grateful to Senator Cantwell for her leadership in tackling this crucial transportation issue with funding that improves safety as well as freight mobility.”

AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies: “Railroads strongly support this common-sense solution to increase safety, reduce emissions and enhance transportation. AAR looks forward to working with Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Blunt to advance this much-needed program, which will dramatically benefit the communities in which our members serve and improve the mobility of people and goods.”

Clarence Anthony, Executive Director and CEO of the National League of Cities: “When an ambulance is on one side of the railroad tracks and the hospital is on the other, the safety challenge of blocked crossings is clear. The Railroad Crossing Elimination Act will allow cities to finish more rail-road separation projects that keep traffic moving over and under the rail tracks while keeping our communities safe. The National League of Cities and America’s local leaders thank Chair Cantwell and Senator Blunt for leading on this critical legislation to address rail blockages clogging up the heart of too many cities and towns across the county.”

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials: “Reducing the number of highway and railway at-grade crossings blocked by trains is crucial for highway and pedestrian safety, as well as better connecting communities separated by railroad tracks. AASHTO thanks Senator Cantwell and Senator Blunt for their targeted effort to support critical grade separation projects.”

Chuck Baker, President, American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association: “We welcome Senator Cantwell and Senator Blunt’s introduction of the Railroad Crossing Elimination Act. While short line railroads strive to work closely with our communities and customers to avoid causing any unwelcome impacts, there are many opportunities throughout the country to eliminate highway-rail grade crossings to improve the mobility of people and goods and improve the health and safety of communities. If passed, this legislation will help provide funds to our government and tribal partners to allow them to work with us to close, relocate, or improve many challenging crossings, and we look forward to doing so whenever and wherever possible.”

Click HERE to read the full bill. 

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Committee Approves Ten Bills, Two Nominations

April 28, 2021

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

1. S.15, Protecting Seniors from Emergency Scams Act; Sponsors: Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

2. S.115, Protecting Tourism in the United States Act; Sponsors: Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Rick Scott (R-FL)

     a. Sullivan 1 (as modified)

3. S.120, Safe Connections Act; Sponsors: Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Rick Scott (R-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

     a. Schatz substitute

     b. Lee 2 (as modified)

4. S.163, Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act; Sponsors: Sens. John Thune, (R-SD) Jon Tester (D-MT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jerry Moran (R-KS)

     a. Thune substitute

5. S.198, Data Mapping to Save Mom’s Lives Act; Sponsors: Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Todd Young (R-IN), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI)

6. S. 381, National Ocean Exploration Act; Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI)

     a. Wicker substitute

     b. Lee 1

7. S. 558, FLOODS Act; Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Gary Peters (D-MI)

     a. Wicker substitute

8.  S.576, Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act; Sponsors: Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Todd Young (R-IN), Gary Peters (D-MI)

     a. Baldwin-Young substitute (as modified)

9. S.735, Advanced Technological Manufacturing Act; Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

     a. Wicker substitute

     b. Luján 1

10. S.1259, Safe Cribs Act; Sponsors: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

11. Nomination of Donet Dominic Graves Jr., of Ohio, to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce (PN79-3)

12. Nomination of Bill Nelson, of Florida, to be to be National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator (PN255)  

 

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Cantwell Praises Transportation Department’s Rollback of Trump Rule Limiting States’ Rights to Enact Own Vehicle Standards

Previews upcoming Senate Commerce Committee hearing on modernizing the national fuel economy program

April 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, released the below statement regarding the Department of Transportation’s action freeing states to raise standards for the fuel efficiency of vehicles:

“I commend the Department of Transportation for restoring the rights of states like California and Washington to combat air pollution and save drivers thousands of dollars by enacting their own vehicle standards. As the Inspector General report released this week found, the Trump Administration’s efforts to rollback consensus vehicle efficiency rules purposefully distorted the science that confirmed the benefits of these standards. Next month, the Senate Commerce Committee will consider ways to modernize the national fuel economy program so America leads the world in manufacturing and selling the next generation of automobiles.”

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Cantwell Statement on Supreme Court Ruling Regarding Section 13 (b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act

April 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, released the below statement regarding the Supreme Court’s 9-0 ruling that Section “13 (b)” of the Federal Trade Commission Act does not grant the FTC the authority to obtain monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement:

"Protecting consumers and compensating them for harm is a paramount duty of the FTC,” Chair Cantwell said. “We are working to move legislation immediately to make sure this authority is properly protected.”

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Cantwell Secures Commitments from NASA, FTC, and Commerce Nominees to Uphold Scientific Integrity, Protect Local News, and Promote Diversity in STEM

April 21, 2021

Opening Statement Video | Audio | Transcript

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, questioned former Senator Bill Nelson, President Biden’s nominee to be National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator; Ms. Lina Khan, nominated to be a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); and Ms. Leslie Kiernan, the nominee for General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Commerce at today’s nomination hearing. Chair Cantwell called for an increase of women in the STEM workforce, highlighted the need to uphold scientific integrity at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other scientific agencies, and stressed the FTC’s responsibility to protect consumers and address unfair and deceptive practices brought on by Big Tech.

Chair Cantwell praised Nelson saying, “Senator Nelson has been a leader in space policy and has been an integral driver of NASA strategic direction for decades. His commitment to public service and passion for space policy has been long known and makes him an incredible choice for this important role… His reputation as a tireless advocate for the space program is well deserved, and at this moment, NASA needs a great advocate that we all can be confident in.”

In her questioning with Nelson, Cantwell asked, “On the workforce issue, Artemis is a great mission. Now there are 18 astronauts that are going to be competing for that. There are a few from the State of Washington, we're very proud of them. But I think importantly, it shows that in 2019, women only made up 1/3 of NASA's workforce and 16% of the senior scientific workforce. If confirmed, will you promote diversity of roles for women in technical and leadership roles throughout NASA?”

He replied, “Yes ma’am, and already have, and I strongly recommended to the White House that the Deputy be a woman who is exceptionally qualified and, indeed, I think you will see that in the person that was announced last week, Pam Melroy, a former astronaut commander.”

Cantwell also secured a commitment from Nelson to rapidly provide Congress with a plan for assuring the United States remains competitive and resilient in regards to its space programs.

Cantwell said, “Obviously, NASA has a big tradition of ensuring resiliency and commercial programs by using multiple competitors and maintaining what's called dissimilar redundancy. So I want to know that you will commit to rapidly providing Congress with a plan for assuring that kind of resiliency, out of the Human Lander program.”

Nelson: “I do... Competition is always good.”

Staying on the topic of science, Cantwell highlighted the controversy surrounding the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, where the former Acting Inspector General of NOAA interfered with science and produced false information of the hurricane’s projected path. The Chair secured a commitment from Leslie Kiernan, Department of Commerce nominee, to always follow science.

Finally, Chair Cantwell addressed the need to protect local journalism with Lina Khan, nominee to be a Commissioner of the FTC, asking, “Google and Facebook play dominant roles as portals to news and media. I think you probably understand the challenges that these sectors have faced, given this level of activity. Do you think that the FTC should review Google and Facebook's use of journalistic content without compensation under the unfairness standard that the FTC has?”

Ms. Khan replied, “Congratulations to you and your staff for such an incisive report. I think, you know, everything needs to be on the table. Obviously local journalism is in crisis, and I think the current COVID moment has really underscored the deep, democratic emergency that is resulting when we don't have reliable sources of local news. So absolutely, you know, this would be something that I would hope to focus on at the Commission.”

Chair Cantwell’s comprehensive report calling unfair practices by tech companies a threat to local news can be found here.

Ms. Khan elaborated on those unfair and deceptive practices: “So I think there are two major factors, one of which is the fact that you know, increasingly, news publishers are dependent on a few gatekeepers to disseminate their news, and to disseminate their information, and so a single change in an algorithm can plummet readership and subscriptions for any publisher. And so I think there are some concerns generally there about arbitrary whims and the arbitrary power that these firms can exercise.”

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

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

A transcript of the opening statement is HERE and the Q&A is HERE.

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At FTC Oversight Hearing, Cantwell Pushes For Enhanced Consumer Protections

An FTC report released yesterday detailed 436,000 reports associated with COVID-19 during the pandemic, in which consumers reported $399 million in fraud losses.

April 20, 2021

Opening Statement Video | Audio | Transcript 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, called for increased protections for American consumers and families against fraudulent schemes and other dishonest business practices at today’s hearing.

“These bad actors are kicking consumers when they are already down; peddling fake COVID cures, trolling for personal data in order to commit identity theft, and selling counterfeit PPE to first responders,” Chair Cantwell said. “The FTC report shows a 45% increase in the number of consumer complaints filed for 2020 over 2019.

The FTC report cited by Chair Cantwell at the hearing disclosed that the agency directed over 350 companies to cease deceptive practices related to COVID-19 and issued over 100 consumer and business alerts on COVID-related topics. Last Congress, Chair Cantwell championed  legislation cracking down on bad actors seeking to take advantage of consumers during the pandemic with fraudulent schemes and fake goods.

Chair Cantwell also touched on the dangerous threat to the FTC’s “13(b)” authority currently being considered at the Supreme court.

“That’s why we're here today, to strengthen the Commission's ability to fight for consumers,” Chair Cantwell said. “Unfortunately, the FTC’s long standing authority to return money to victims is endangered now at the Supreme Court. This authority, the so-called “13(b) authority” is the bread and butter of the FTC’s consumer protection mission.”

Throughout the last four decades, the Commission has used this authority to help consumers targeted by a wide variety of illegal scams and anticompetitive practices. And, within the past five years alone, Section 13(b) enforcement cases have resulted in the return of more than $11 billion dollars to consumers. 

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

Video of Chair Cantwell’s first round of questioning can be found HERE and audio is HERE.

Video of Chair Cantwell’s second round of questioning can be found HERE and audio is HERE.

Transcripts can be found HERE and HERE.

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Cantwell Declares Local News Is Critical Infrastructure—Urges Congressional Support

April 15, 2021

TV Quality Video | Audio | Transcript

Americans trust local news over national news by a two-to-one margin 

Roughly 37,000 newspaper employees have been laid off, furloughed, or had their pay cut since the pandemic began

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today came out strongly in favor of including local news as critical American infrastructure in need of support—highlighting the role of local broadcasters and newspapers as a trusted source of news and information during the pandemic.

“So I plan to, Mr. Chairman, push this issue as it relates to this critical infrastructure investment we're making,” Senator Cantwell said at today’s subcommittee hearing. “I think news, local news particularly, a trusted source, is frayed beyond belief. And if we don't shore it up, at least until the legal battles play out with the tech industry, that will be making a big mistake. So I continue to appreciate this hearing, because I think it was a good diagnosis of how important local journalism was and I think the critical infrastructure needs to be preserved.”

In October of last year, Senator Cantwell released a report about the impact of unfair practices by major technology companies on local news outlets all across the country. “Local news across America creates competition and trusted information,” Senator Cantwell said in a statement released along with the report. “We shouldn't let regional and community news die as local newspapers and broadcasters adjust to digital delivery because online giants are unfairly leveraging the advertising market against them.”

That same month, Senator Cantwell pressed Big Tech CEO’s about the impact of their platforms on local news. “The message from today's hearing is the free press needs to live and be supported by all of us,” Senator Cantwell said at that hearing. “We look forward to discussing how we can make sure that they get fair return on their value.”

Then, in December, Senator Cantwell successfully fought to expand Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility for more local news outlets to receive PPP funding—providing a lifeline to local outlets all around the country.

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

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Cantwell Calls For Increased Research and Development Funding To Keep America Competitive

April 14, 2021

Opening Statement Video | Audio | Transcript

U.S. lags behind Germany, Japan, South Korea, other nations in research intensity 

Cantwell points to universities as key components of national R&D strategy

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today held a hearing on the “Endless Frontier Act” which seeks to enhance American competitiveness in the area of research and development.

So today we're here to talk about America's competitiveness,” Chair Cantwell said. “Between 1996 and 2015, federally funded research led to over 1 trillion in economic growth, and millions of new jobs. Today federal investment in research and development is near its lowest point in 45 years when measured against GDP.”

Chair Cantwell cited increased competition from foreign nations as she made the case for a robust American investment in research and development.

“Other nations are ready to challenge our position on the world's innovation stage,” Chair Cantwell said. “So, since 2000, global R&D spending has risen more than 200%...while the United States has certainly contributed to that growth, we only spend about 2.8% of GDP on research and development, less than some of the big economies, like Germany, Japan and South Korea.”

Chair Cantwell praised the witnesses as a whole for their thoughtful testimony and emphasized the role of universities in advancing R&D and the importance of collaboration.

“I really love the underlying theme in a lot of the testimony in front of us,” Chair Cantwell said. “[U]niversities play such a key role in, I think, a distributed network of R&D that already exists in the United States and we should be playing off of that.” The Chair continued, saying, “You can have all the innovation in an information age and all the information, but if you don't collaborate it to get it implemented, then you're not going to innovate.”

During the hearing, Chair Cantwell also underscored two of her longstanding policy priorities, diversity in STEM education and workforce development.

“[We] need to do more in STEM. In 2019 women made up 48% of workers, but only 27% of STEM workers. And, as noted, COVID made that challenging, because many of these women were also the caregivers in their families.” The chair continued by noting that “doing the R&D without the STEM workforce will be a mistake. We need the workforce. The best research can't be implemented if we don't have the workforce.”

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

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

A transcript of Chair Cantwell’s opening statement can be found HERE and the Q&A is HERE.

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Chair Cantwell Appoints Members of the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee

April 2, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced her appointments to the Commission on the State of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC Commission), including her pick for co-chair.

“The USOPC exists to protect athletes and uphold the integrity of sport,” said Chair Cantwell. “There are many issues that plague sports, from unequal pay and treatment to sexual abuse. Having the right members on this Commission ensures that these issues can be properly addressed and remedied, so that Olympic and Paralympic athletes can feel safe in their sports environment. Jordyn Wieber, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, and Benita Fitzgerald Mosley are all iconic Olympians who are using their knowledge and experience in the sports world to advocate for diversity and inclusion, and against abuse and inequality. Dionne Koller is a sharp legal mind well-practiced in the issues surrounding Olympic and amateur sports. I am proud to be nominating these women to the Olympics and Paralympics Commission today.”

The USOPC Commission is a product of the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act that passed on November 2, 2020. It directs the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to each appoint four members to the USOPC Commission. The USOPC Commission must conduct a study reviewing recent USOPC reforms and must submit its findings and recommendations to Congress. As Chair, Senator Cantwell nominated the following individuals:

Dionne Koller will serve as co-chair of the Commission. Dionne Koller is a professor of law at University of Baltimore School of Law, where her scholarly focus is on Olympic and amateur sports law. She is the Director for the Center for Sport and the Law and former Chair and current member of the Executive Board of the Association of American Law School’s section on Sports and the Law. Professor Koller also serves as a member of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s Anti-Doping Review Board and provides pro bono support for Olympic Movement athletes.

Jordyn Wieber is an American Olympic gold medalist gymnast and currently the head coach of the Arkansas Razorback gymnastics team—the youngest individual to currently hold that position. She won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Her accomplishments include being a gold-winner for the 2011 World Championships for the individual all-around title and bronze medalist on the balance beam. Wieber is an advocate for the survivors of sexual assault and testified at a Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing on systemic abuse in sports in 2018.

Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, a Track and Field Olympic Gold Medalist who currently serves on the International Olympic Committee’s Active Society Commission, is Head of Community and Impact for sports technology company LeagueApps and a member of the board of directors for Athletes for Hope. She was a member of the 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic track and field teams, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter hurdles, and is known for promoting diversity and inclusion across all levels of sport. Fitzgerald Mosley also spearheaded the establishment of the USA Track and Field Coaches Registry, Code of Conduct, and universal background checks.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar is a two-time Olympic swimmer and three-time gold medalist. She is a civil rights lawyer and professor of sports law known for her advocacy for athletes’ rights. She is the recipient of numerous honors for her work fighting against athlete abuse, and for gender and racial equality in sports. She currently serves as the CEO of Champion Women, which provides legal advocacy for girls and women in sports. She was actively involved in congressional proceedings on sexual abuse within the Olympic movement and is a leader in many USOPC reform groups.

Senator Cantwell is a strong advocate for fair treatment and pay of athletes competing on the global stage, particularly female athletes. In July of 2019, Cantwell introduced the Equal Pay for Team USA Act to ensure equal pay for Americans who represent the U.S.  in global athletic competitions, like the World Cup or the Olympics. In August of that same year, Senator Cantwell introduced a resolution calling on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to immediately eliminate gender-based pay discrimination between male and female soccer players. And in 2020, Cantwell introduced a bipartisan resolution in support of the 34th annual “National Girls & Women in Sports Day” to recognize the achievements of women athletes. She also met with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team star Megan Rapinoe to discuss equal pay.

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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.

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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.