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All Work and No Pay: Change Orders Delayed for Small Construction Contractors

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 10:00am


The Subcommittees on Contracting and Workforce and Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations will meet for a hearing titled, “All Work and No Pay: Change Orders Delayed for Small Construction Contractors.”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, May 25, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

This hearing will examine the effects of change orders on small business contractors and potential solutions to alleviate the financial burden on small businesses caused by agency delay in approval and payment of change orders.

Hearing Documents
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List 

Witnesses

Mr. Edward DeLisle
Co-Chair, Federal Contracting Group
Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC
Philadelphia, PA 
Testimony
Disclosure

Mr. Andy Brown
Vice President
GlenMar Construction
Clackamas, OR
*Testifying on behalf of the National Electrical Contractors Association
Testimony 
Disclosure

Mr. Greg Long
CEO
Long Electric Company
Napa, CA
*Testifying on behalf of the National Electrical Contractors Association
Testimony
Disclosure

Ms. Colette Nelson
Chief Advocacy Officer
American Subcontractors Association, Inc.
Alexandria, VA
*Testifying on behalf of the Construction Procurement Coalition
Testimony 
Disclosure

<p>Good afternoon, everyone. I call to

Good afternoon, everyone. I call to order this hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security.

Today is the second gathering of the subcommittee this year, and again our purpose is to raise awareness of issues important for the protection of American consumers.

I have convened today’s hearing to specifically examine the issue of pool and spa safety. It has been several years since Congress last held a hearing on this issue.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 19, 2007.

This legislation, known as VGB, aimed to enhance the safety of public and private pools and spas, reduce child drownings and educate the public on the need for constant supervision of children in and around water. This hearing will examine the extent to which VGB has accomplished these goals over the past decade since enactment.

I understand former Senator George Allen of Virginia is in the audience today. Senator Allen is to be commended for his leadership in getting VGB signed into law during his time as chairman of this subcommittee.

Of course, while I wish she were here under different circumstances, I am pleased that we are joined today by Nancy Baker, whose daughter Virginia Graeme Baker was the namesake for this legislation after her tragic death in June of 2002.

I want to recognize one more individual with us today and that is Scott Taylor, whose daughter Abbey Taylor was also a victim of suction entrapment. Her death inspired the Abbey’s Hope foundation in her name to educate the public about pool and spa safety and keep kids safe.

As some of you are aware, the month of May is National Drowning Prevention Month. To that end I am pleased to join Ranking Member Senator Blumenthal and Commerce Committee Chairman Thune today in introducing a resolution supporting the states, including Kansas, that have signed proclamations declaring May as “National Water Safety Month.” We wish to recognize and express support for the goals and ideals of that designation.

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the start of summer swimming season. For American families, recreational swimming is a time-honored tradition. Swimming pools such as The Big Pool in Garden City, Kansas – the largest outdoor municipal concrete swimming pool in the world – are fixtures in local communities and popular destinations for relief from the summer heat.

While parents and adults work to monitor children around pools and spas and take precautions such as stopping them from running on wet surfaces, many don’t realize the potential dangers posed by the pool drains. Even when attentive parents and adults are around, accidents can unfortunately still happen.

Drowning continues to be ranked second or third among the leading causes of death for children, depending on the state, especially for children ages one to four years old. In Kansas, there have been 297 drownings in the past decade. What makes these tragedies all the more painful for families is that the accidents are, by and large, preventable.

I appreciate the willingness of our witnesses to discuss these sensitive topics. Each of our witnesses will bring unique perspective on how to avoid harm and improve safety for pool and spa-related activities, as well as offering ideas beyond this hearing for improving consumer awareness. I appreciate the time you have taken to prepare your heartfelt testimony.

It is my hope that a Senate hearing calling attention to pool safety leading into the summer season will have a positive impact on reducing pool and spa-related injuries and deaths.

I thank my colleague and ranking member, Senator Blumenthal, for being here to help promote awareness of the issues surrounding pool and spa safety. Certainly if greater awareness can prevent just one child’s death, we will have succeeded.  

Guthrie Statement: Hearing on “Empowering Students and Families to Make Informed Decisions on Higher Education”

Many people in this country grow up dreaming about the college experience — leaving home and starting off on their own in the world — hoping to obtain the education and skills they need to be successful in life. With more than 7,000 postsecondary institutions in the U.S. to choose from, selecting the best school and finding the best way to pay for it can be a daunting task.

In fact, just this morning, some key details of a new report — set to be fully unveiled early next month — were publicly released, and they provide some fresh insights into how prospective students make important decisions that affect their long-term academic and professional futures.

According to the preliminary findings of a national survey conducted by Gallup in partnership with the Strada Education Network, most people rely on a family member or relative when deciding which major or field to choose. And as we all know, this decision, often impacts which college or university a person decides to attend.

Fortunately, there are those who are relying on trusted high school counselors or college advisors. Very few turn to online resources, including websites maintained by schools. But it is also troubling to learn that more than 20 percent of individuals with some college experience never sought the advice of anyone or used any other available resources as they made these important decisions.

Without objection, I would like submit for the record a letter from Strada highlighting some of the key findings of this national survey. Hearing no objections, the letter will be made a part of the record.

In 2008, Congress took steps to improve transparency in higher education. Because of those reforms, colleges and universities are making information about price, financial aid, demographics, and graduation rates more readily available to the public. Many of these initiatives provide helpful resources to students and their families, but clearly there is more work to be done.

First, much of the information currently available is about first-time, full-time students — despite the fact that only 21 percent of undergraduate students are attending postsecondary education full-time and for the first-time. Today’s college students come from a variety of backgrounds that no longer neatly fits into the traditional full-time student schedule, which is why they need information that properly reflects the unique circumstances they face.

Secondly, we want to be sure that institutions are not overburdened with red tape. Collecting this information can be time-consuming. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, also known as IPEDS, currently requires institutions to complete 12 separate surveys capturing hundreds of pages of data taking nearly one million combined hours each year to complete. The time and money universities and colleges spend on data collection requirements can lead to higher costs that inevitably affect the students who attend.

Third, it’s important that we as policymakers can properly evaluate the success of the federal student aid system and ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly. Unfortunately, in many ways, that’s just not the case today.

\Much of the information surrounding students defaulting on their loans is unknown. We don’t know how much they’ve paid back before defaulting on the loan. We also don’t know the type of repayment plans they are using when they default. We also don’t know how much the various income-driven repayment programs are really costing taxpayers or how many students who receive a Pell grant are actually graduating.

Quite frankly, we don’t really know what’s working and what’s not. As policymakers, we need to be better equipped to conduct proper oversight of how taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Lastly, but most importantly, we must balance the need for transparency and accountability with the need to protect student privacy and maintain a limited federal role. Striking that balance is never easy. However, the need to provide students and policymakers with more information — no matter how valuable that information may be — should never come at the expense of student privacy.

At the end of the day, the college experience should be a joyous occasion for students and their families. That’s why it’s important for the federal student aid system to be efficient and effective. And that’s why it is important to do everything we can to provide better transparency so students are able to make informed decisions.

As we work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, empowering students and families and improving accountability will be leading priorities. I’m looking forward to hearing the testimonies of this panel of witness who will have great insight into how we can do just that. Thank you, again, for your attendance.

# # #

As CMS Considers Restricting Access to Pain Medication, Greater Opportunities for Public Input Are Required

WLF Legal Pulse - 9 hours 34 min ago
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is ramping up efforts to limit patients’ access to pain medication without giving affected parties sufficient notice or opportunity for comment.  Since the start of 2017, CMS has released three separate guidance documents on how insurers and payers should impose new limits on the use of opioids. […]
Categories: Latest News

Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. This is a very important topic in my home state. Florida and California have more swimming pools than any other state in the country, and sadly, more children drown in Florida than in any other state. 

My fellow Floridian, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was the author of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act when it passed Congress in 2007. I was a cosponsor of the Senate bill.  Senator Klobuchar also worked very hard on this law. I am extremely proud of our work and I have no doubt that as a result of its passage, many lives have been saved, including the lives of young children.

Having said that, our work is not done. We still have more to do to make sure that the unspeakable, horrifying tragedies of Virginia Graeme Baker and Zachary Cohn do not happen again to other young children.  Ms. Baker and Ms. Cohn, thank you for being here today. What you have endured is every parent’s worst nightmare, and I can’t imagine what you went through.  Parents across this nation owe you a debt of gratitude for the tireless work you have done to promote pool safety and save lives. It’s now our job to explore what we can do to ensure that the Act is as effective as it can be. 

Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing, and I look forward to working with you and all of the members of this committee in addressing pool safety.

“Gordon v. CFPB” Provides a Good Vehicle to Rein in Executive Branch Authority

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 7:12pm
The US Constitution imposes important checks on the exercise of executive power by the federal government.  In particular, Article II specifies that executive power may be exercised only at the behest of properly appointed “officers” of the United States, and it sets forth detailed requirements for the appointment and Senate confirmation of such officers.  However, […]
Categories: Latest News

Accomplishments and Challenges at the SBA’s Office of International Trade

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 11:00am





The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Accomplishments and Challenges at the SBA’s Office of International Trade.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

The Committee will hear directly from the SBA about its ongoing efforts to assist small businesses seeking to engage in the international trading system.

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List

Witnesses 
Mr. Peter J. Cazamias
Associate Administrator
Office of International Trade
United States Small Business Administration
Washington, DC 

Byrne Statement: Hearing on “The Need for More Responsible Regulatory and Enforcement Policies at the EEOC”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 10:00am

Every American deserves an equal chance to earn success. No one should be denied an opportunity because of unlawful discrimination. The vast majority of employers treat their employees equally and foster an environment free of discrimination. But we live in a world where prejudice and bigotry still exist, and bad actors must be held accountable.

That is why there are important protections under federal law to prevent workplace discrimination, including the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Equal Pay Act, among others. Republicans and Democrats agree our nation’s non-discrimination laws must be properly enforced, and the EEOC should play a critical role in doing just that.

We wouldn’t be doing our job here in Congress if we didn’t hold the EEOC accountable when it has fallen short of its important responsibilities. That is why, under the Obama administration, we repeatedly raised concerns over the agency’s misplaced priorities. The EEOC consistently took its eye off the ball and pursued flawed enforcement policies at the expense of workers.

Take for example the agency’s backlog of unsettled charges. At the end of 2016, the EEOC had more than 73,000 unresolved cases. Thousands of individuals were still waiting for answers on the discrimination charges they filed. This is completely unacceptable. These are men and women who turned to the federal government for help and got lost in an inefficient bureaucracy.

The EEOC’s backlog hasn’t always been this high. In fact, the average annual number of unresolved cases was roughly 90 percent higher under the Obama administration than the Bush administration. 90 percent. And that’s not all. The Obama EEOC pursued 50 percent fewer cases on behalf of individual workers.

With this type of track record, one may wonder what exactly the EEOC has been doing all these years. Part of the answer lies in the agency’s misguided focus on fishing expeditions. Instead of using its resources to address actual claims of alleged wrongdoing, the EEOC has been on a nationwide search for “systemic” cases of discrimination that may or may not exist.

The result? A long list of frivolous lawsuits and the needs of many individual workers unmet. One U.S. District Court judge described the agency’s backwards strategy as “sue first, ask questions later.” And unanimous rebukes by the Supreme Court led the Wall Street Journal editorial board to name the EEOC the “government’s most abusive agency.”

However, the EEOC has been busy in more ways than fishing expeditions. The agency has also spent its time and resources concocting overreaching and convoluted regulatory schemes. Most recently, we’ve seen expansive changes to the employer information report, the EEO-1.

Under federal law, employers have long been required to file employment data categorized by race, gender, ethnicity, and job category. This year, employers will fill out a form with 128 data points. But beginning next year, employers — including many small employers — will face a form with a whopping 3,360 data cells. That’s 26 times the amount of information employers currently provide to the federal government. Can you imagine making sense of this massive, confusing reporting regime as a small business owner?

This new mandate is estimated to cost American job creators $1.3 billion and more than 8 million hours of paperwork each year — resources that could go toward raising wages and hiring new workers. And for what? We don’t even know how the EEOC intends to use all of this new data and whether or not it can help combat pay discrimination in the first place. There are also serious privacy concerns since the agency has failed to demonstrate how it plans to safeguard this enormous amount of new information.

What the EEOC should be focused on is improving enforcement of existing worker protections. And that’s exactly why we are here today: to hold the agency accountable and demand better. With a new Congress and new administration, we have an opportunity to move the EEOC in a new direction, and that’s precisely what America’s workers need.

Today’s discussion is an important step in our efforts to encourage the EEOC to adopt more responsible regulatory and enforcement policies. It is my hope we can have a thoughtful dialogue on how we can ensure the strong worker protections that exist in the law are properly enforced.

SBC Examines How SBA Can Help Small Businesses in the Global Marketplace

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – House Small Business Committee Member Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced H.R. 2594 the Small Business Payment for Performance Act to ensure small business federal contractors get paid in a timely manner for change orders.

Specifically, the legislation allows contractors to submit a request for equitable adjustment (REA) - or an increase in fee - to the agency. The contractor may then bill the agency for any actual change order work completed, while the REA is pending. Once the agency receives the REA, it must pay 50% of the billed amount immediately to offset extra costs. Currently, small businesses complete change orders without this protection. 

“For small businesses, federal contracts can lead to good jobs, but can also result in many headaches. While businesses regularly deal with change orders in the private sector, contractors and subcontractors on federal construction projects are often forced to bear a financial burden by the slow process of approval. Some federal agencies routinely delay the approval process until the end of the project. That isn’t fair,” said Fitzpatrick. “The Small Business Payment for Performance Act stands up for small businesses by requiring federal agencies to make interim partial payments to contractors, allowing them to pay their own bills without being delayed until the end of the project. It’s common sense.”

“When federal agencies request unexpected work, it often puts the burden of financing the change orders on the small business – including paying their employees, buying supplies and even paying taxes. We need to ensure small business owners won’t be shackled with extra financial burdens while completing a project, and I appreciate Rep. Fitzpatrick’s leadership on this very important legislation,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot.

Joining Rep. Fitzpatrick as original cosponsors are Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA), Chairman of the Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee, and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Ranking Member of the Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee.

###

Fitzpatrick Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Ensure Small Business Federal Contractors Get Paid

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – House Small Business Committee Member Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced H.R. 2594 the Small Business Payment for Performance Act to ensure small business federal contractors get paid in a timely manner for change orders.

Specifically, the legislation allows contractors to submit a request for equitable adjustment (REA) - or an increase in fee - to the agency. The contractor may then bill the agency for any actual change order work completed, while the REA is pending. Once the agency receives the REA, it must pay 50% of the billed amount immediately to offset extra costs. Currently, small businesses complete change orders without this protection. 

“For small businesses, federal contracts can lead to good jobs, but can also result in many headaches. While businesses regularly deal with change orders in the private sector, contractors and subcontractors on federal construction projects are often forced to bear a financial burden by the slow process of approval. Some federal agencies routinely delay the approval process until the end of the project. That isn’t fair,” said Fitzpatrick. “The Small Business Payment for Performance Act stands up for small businesses by requiring federal agencies to make interim partial payments to contractors, allowing them to pay their own bills without being delayed until the end of the project. It’s common sense.”

“When federal agencies request unexpected work, it often puts the burden of financing the change orders on the small business – including paying their employees, buying supplies and even paying taxes. We need to ensure small business owners won’t be shackled with extra financial burdens while completing a project, and I appreciate Rep. Fitzpatrick’s leadership on this very important legislation,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot.

Joining Rep. Fitzpatrick as original cosponsors are Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA), Chairman of the Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee, and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Ranking Member of the Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee.

###

Briefing Program Assesses WLF’s Supreme Court Cert Petition in “Gordon v. CFPB”

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 3:13pm
Gordon v. CFPB: Will the High Court Halt an End-Run Around the Appointments Clause? To view this WLF Media Briefing program on our IBM Cloud Video channel click here. To view the program on our YouTube channel, click here. The program featured commentary on WLF cert petition on behalf of our client Chance Gordon currently […]
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Linda Graves receives NAMC Golden Champion Award

WCOE News - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:06pm

WCOE is excited to announce that one of our Corporate Alliance partners, Linda Graves, VP of Diversity and Community Affairs at Gilbane recently received the Golden Champion Award for Leadership in Minority Business Development in Wisconsin Construction Industry. Since 2016, NAMC-WI has sponsored the 31st annual DBE Workshop and Secretary's Golden Shovel Award in coordination with WisDOT, City of Madison, Dane County, and Milwaukee Country. Members of the NAMC board presented seven Golden Champion awards to deserving industry professionals and government officials. Thelma Sias, Vice President – Local Affairs, We Energies, received the highest honor, the Golden Champion Lifetime Achievement Award. 

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Senate Panel OKs Bill Allowing Federal Assistance For Toxic Algae Outbreaks

WASHINGTON, DC - A key senate panel today approved legislation that, for the first time, could open the door to federal assistance for states and local communities hard hit by toxic algae blooms.

The measure, sponsored by Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, unanimously cleared the Senate Commerce Committee on a voice vote.

“Floridians have borne the brunt of recent toxic algae outbreaks, but by law have been unable to qualify for federal help,” said Nelson, the top Democrat on the panel.  “Algae blooms are more than just a nuisance — it can be an environmental, economic, and public health nightmare that warrants emergency relief.”

Last summer, a massive, toxic bloom began in Lake Okeechobee, spreading to the Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee River and the coastline causing widespread and severe environmental and economic damage.  

Under Nelson’s measure, the heads of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would have the authority to declare a severe harmful algal bloom or hypoxic event as nationally significant, triggering access to federal resources.

The legislation also authorizes the use of $11o million over a five year period for research into the causes and control of large algae blooms and hypoxia.  

Nelson has long championed efforts in the Senate aimed at curbing the impacts of toxic algae blooms.   In 2014, he successfully shepherded a law through Congress that authorized $82 million for research to help battle toxic algae outbreaks.

The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration. 

Full text of Nelson’s measure is available here.

VIDEO: Pass Legislation to Protect the Open Internet

“We need a statute offering clear and enduring rules that balance innovation and investment throughout the entire internet ecosystem. In crafting rules, we need to listen to the concerns of all Americans who support an open internet but who may have differing opinions about the greatest threats to online freedom.”

Commerce Committee Approves Six Bills, including Coast Guard Reauthorization

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved six bills, including the U.S. Coast Guard reauthorization.

Good morning and welcome. &nbsp;Before

Good morning and welcome.  Before we begin, I first want to thank my colleagues for their flexibility on the scheduling of this markup.

It is our hope that, by holding this executive session today, rather than next week as originally planned, the Majority Leader might be able to find some time in the Senate schedule during the next work period to debate and consider our first item on today’s agenda – The Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2017.

Sponsored by Senators Sullivan, Nelson, and myself, this bill reauthorizes the Coast Guard for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and ensures that they have the tools necessary to accomplish their 11 statutory missions.

From provisions that help with the Coast Guard’s maritime drug and boarder enforcement missions, to a provision requiring the service to review the assets and personnel required to ensure the safety and security of the Artic missions, to improvements in recreational boating safety ---

This bill will ensure that the Coast Guard can continue to do what they do best – ensure for the safety, security, and environmental stewardship of our nation’s ports and waterways.

Also included in the manager’s amendment I’ve filed with Senator Nelson are two measures that have passed this Committee before – the NOAA Corp Reauthorization Act and the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act or VIDA.  I am hopeful that these two measures, which have had bipartisan support in our Committee numerous times, can finally make it to the President’s desk.

Even with this strong support, I understand some still have some concerns with VIDA.  As we have said many times before, Senator Nelson and I stand ready to work with you, the sponsors, and stakeholders to address these concerns once and for all to ensure that our nation’s fishermen and vessel owners have one consistent and attainable standard for ballast water and vessel discharge.

Also on today’s agenda is Senator Lee’s Reinforcing American-Made Products Act.  While I know he had hoped that this could be considered at an early markup this Congress, I am glad to see that key stakeholder concerns have been addressed, and it should pass the Committee today.

We round out the agenda with four other maritime and fishery bills.  Each has strong bipartisan support here in Committee and I am glad that we can consider them today.  With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks.

Executive Session - Coast Guard Authorization Act

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Thursday, May 18, at 10:00 a.m. to consider the following legislative measures.

Agenda:

 

  1. S. ____, Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)

     

  2. S. 118, Reinforcing American-Made Products Act of 2017, Sponsors: Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Angus King (I-Maine)

     

  3. S. 396, A bill to make technical amendments to certain marine fish conservation statutes, and for other purposes, Sponsors: Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

     

  4. S. 793, Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act of 2017, Sponsors: Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

     

  5. S. 1057, A bill to amend the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998 to address harmful algal blooms, Sponsors: Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio)

     

  6. S. 1096, Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act for Fiscal Year 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

    *Agenda subject to change


Executive Session Details:

Thursday, May 18, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee Markup
Senate Hart Building 216

A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov.

Ranking Member Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this markup. I am pleased that we are able to markup a Coast Guard bill and want to thank you and Senator Sullivan for your work in getting this bill ready for primetime.

The bill will greatly enable the Coast Guard’s ongoing efforts to modernize its cutter and aircraft fleet. 

Another bill on our agenda today reauthorizes the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act.  In addition, this important piece of legislation will, for the first time, provide future federal assistance to communities hard hit by toxic algae blooms, such as red tide, and hypoxia events. 

My home state of Florida has been ground zero recently for algae outbreaks.   Last summer, a massive, toxic bloom began in Lake Okeechobee, spreading to the Indian River Lagoon and the coastline causing widespread and severe environmental and economic damage.  Along just one ten-mile stretch of Florida’s coastline, red tide events are estimated to cause a loss of more than four million dollars in restaurant revenue and more than five million dollars in lodging revenue per month.

As it stands today, affected communities don’t have an avenue to get emergency assistance for these algae and hypoxia crises.  So, our bill today sets up a process for federal assistance when significant algae blooms and hypoxia events occur.  And it reauthorizes this small but important program through fiscal year 2023.  I urge my colleagues to support this important bill.

With that Mr. Chairman, let’s proceed to our agenda items.

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