Construction Industry News

Preparing for Maritime Transportation in a Changing Arctic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a subcommittee hearing titled “Preparing for Maritime Transportation in a Changing Arctic,” at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 6, 2018. The hearing will examine emerging transportation issues in the changing Arctic region, including increases in vessel traffic and the resulting need for updates in waterway management, infrastructure investment, and domain awareness.

 
Witnesses:

  • Mr. Willie Goodwin, Chairman, Arctic Waterways Safety Committee
  • Andrew Hartsig, Director, Arctic Program, Ocean Conservancy 
  • Ms. Kathy Metcalf, President and CEO, Chamber of Shipping of America
  • Captain Ed Page, Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Alaska

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details: 

Thursday, December 6, 2018
9:30 a.m.
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Commerce Committee Leaders Seek Answers on Marriott Data Breach

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, have sent a letter to Mr. Arne M. Sorenson, the president and chief executive officer of Marriott International. following news that the company had identified a cybersecurity incident impacting an estimated 500 million consumers. 

Excerpt from the letter to Marriott International:

“Of the estimated 500 million consumers impacted by the breach, approximately 327 million of those guests reportedly had a combination of customer data, including personally identifiable information exposed, including name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preference.  Additionally, sensitive payment information like payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates were also apparently exposed, but Marriott stated that this specific information was encrypted using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-128), which requires two individual components to decrypt the information.  Nevertheless, Marriott has also clarified that the company has not yet ruled out that these decryption keys were also taken as a result of the breach.” 

In the letter, Sens. Thune, Wicker, and Moran question Mr. Sorenson on details related to when the breach began, what consumer information was compromised, and investigative efforts Marriott International has taken since detection.  

Read the full letter to Marriott International President/CEO here. The Commerce Committee exercises jurisdiction over consumer protection and cybersecurity.

Subcommittee Announces Hearing to Examine Arctic Transportation Issues

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a subcommittee hearing titled “Preparing for Maritime Transportation in a Changing Arctic,” at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 6, 2018. The hearing will examine emerging transportation issues in the changing Arctic region, including increases in vessel traffic and the resulting need for updates in waterway management, infrastructure investment, and domain awareness.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Willie Goodwin, Chairman, Arctic Waterways Safety Committee
  • Andrew Hartsig, Director, Arctic Program, Ocean Conservancy 
  • Ms. Kathy Metcalf, President and CEO, Chamber of Shipping of America
  • Captain Ed Page, Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Alaska

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Thursday, December 6, 2018
9:30 a.m.
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Thune Statement on Senate Confirmation of Karen Dunn Kelley to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Karen Dunn Kelley to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

“Today, the Senate voted to confirm Karen Dunn Kelley to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce, filling another important position in the administration,” said Thune. “Throughout her career, Ms. Dunn Kelley has exhibited the kind of leadership that the Department of Commerce needs to continue its promoting economic growth, job creation, and innovation. This non-controversial nominee, previously confirmed by the Senate unanimously, has been subjected to an unreasonably long delay due to partisan games by the Democrats.”

On June 27, 2018, the Commerce Committee approved Karen Dunn Kelley’s nomination to be Deputy Secretary of Commerce by voice vote.

Commerce Leaders Applaud House Passage of Bipartisan Coast Guard Authorization

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which exercises jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard, and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the sponsor of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act included within the reauthorization, issued the following statement on tonight’s House vote passing S. 140, The Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018.  

“Now on its way to President Trump for his signature, this bill offers the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard support to enhance and continue search and rescue, storm response, and critical maritime interdiction missions,” said Thune. “I credit my colleagues on the committee as well as Sens. Carper, Portman, and Stabenow for their help in getting this important legislation across the finish line.”

“The brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard do an amazing job protecting the homeland day in and day out and often on a moment’s notice,” said Sullivan“Working closely with Chairman Thune and Senator Wicker, I was honored to have had the opportunity to lead this year’s Coast Guard Authorization, giving our Coast Guard the resources and training they need to complete the many diverse missions they are tasked with. I thank my House colleagues for swiftly moving this bipartisan bill on to the President’s desk for his signature. Semper Paratus!”

“Sending this bill to the President’s desk is a win not only for the U.S. Coast Guard, but also for our national security, economy, and environment. I am particularly pleased this bill simplifies the patchwork of regulations regarding a vessel’s ballast water discharge by adopting key provisions of my Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act. I appreciate the hard work of Chairman Thune, Senator Sullivan, and so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill across the finish line,” said Wicker.

Highlights of S. 140: The Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018:

Maritime drug and border enforcement – includes new authorities to combat illicit trafficking and smuggling and transnational criminal organizations by furthering interagency cooperation, combating concealment of bulk cash, and increasing the budget for investigations and ability to use informants.

Multiyear contracting – authorizes the Coast Guard Commandant to utilize several new acquisition tools, including multiyear funding for procuring future National Security Cutters.  These changes will allow the Coast Guard to reduce the price of follow-on vessels and give shipyards greater predictability, stabilizing workforces.

Authorization level – authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal year 2019 at $10.6 billion.

Arctic Operations – directs the Coast Guard to conduct a review of the assets and personnel required to ensure the safety and security of the Arctic.

Recreational Boating – increases safety and clarifies requirements for recreational boating safety by implementing the installation of engine cut-off switches and alternate signaling devices.

Regulation of ballast water discharges (Vessel Incidental Discharge Act):

  • Delegates the lead role in establishing standards for discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and assigns the Coast Guard the lead role in monitoring and enforcing standards.
  • Accommodates unique regional situations.  Pacific Coast ballast water exchanges will continue and the Great Lakes may set their own basin-wide standards.
  • Allows States to establish no-discharge zones for areas that require additional protection.

The Senate passed S. 140, as amended on November 14. Read the full text of S. 140 here.

Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a subcommittee hearing titled “Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. Consistent with the committee’s oversight responsibilities, this hearing will examine the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) priorities in promoting competition and consumer protection, the ongoing innovation hearings and how changes in technology impact the agency, and whether the FTC should have expanded authority with respect to privacy and data security.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Joseph J. Simons, Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Rohit Chopra, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Noah Joshua Phillips, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Christine S. Wilson, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing  will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.  The FTC is America’s premier consumer protection agency.  The Federal Trade Commission Act, passed in 1914, serves as the bedrock of American consumer protection law.  The agency is tasked with policing and promoting competitive markets and with protecting consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices. 

Despite its important mission and enormous mandate, the FTC remains a relatively small agency. 

For years, I have consistently advocated that the FTC be provided more resources so that it can effectively do its job – particularly during an age when the American economy is becoming increasingly digitized and complex. 

With a little over a thousand full-time employees, the FTC can only do so much to police a nineteen-trillion-dollar economy.  It is my hope that Congress will finally step up to the plate and do the right thing by providing the FTC with increased funding and personnel to police the marketplace and protect American consumers from a myriad of scams, frauds and corporate practices that fleece them of their hard-earned money.

Let me also express my hope that the FTC continues to operate in a bipartisan, consensus manner. The commission has a long, proud history of bipartisanship. It’s a tradition from which other independent agencies should draw. Too often, agencies like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) get mired in competing, individual ideological agendas. By and large, the FTC has avoided this kind of dysfunction, which has served the American consumer well. Quite frankly, Congress can also learn from the FTC’s history of bipartisan deliberation and cooperation.

Lastly, to the FTC commissioners before us here today, thank you for your public service. It’s been a privilege and honor to have worked closely with you during my four years as ranking member of the Commerce Committee.

Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to hearing from the commissioners.

Thune Names New Committee Deputy Staff Director

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced the promotion of Crystal Tully, who previously served as policy director and counsel for communications and technology, to deputy staff director of the full Commerce Committee.

Pipeline Safety in the Merrimack Valley: Incident Prevention and Response

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a full committee hearing titled “Pipeline Safety in the Merrimack Valley: Incident Prevention and Response,” at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 26, 2018, at the South Lawrence East Middle School Gymnasium. This hearing will focus on the September 13, 2018, natural gas pipeline explosions and fires in Lawrence and Andover, Mass., that killed one, injured over two dozen, and damaged over 100 structures, as well as response efforts by federal, state, and local authorities.    

 
Witnesses:

 

  • The Honorable Robert L. Sumwalt, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
  • The Honorable Dan Rivera, Mayor, City of Lawrence
  • The Honorable Matthew A. Beaton, Secretary, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Mr. Paul Roberti, Chief Counsel, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  • Mr. Steve Bryant, President, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts
  • Mr. Joe Hamrock, President and Chief Executive Officer, NiSource
  • Mr. Richard Kuprewicz, President, Accufacts Inc.  

 

*Witness list subject to change.

 

Hearing Details:

 

Monday, November 26, 2018

9:00 a.m.

South Lawrence East Middle School Gymnasium

165 Crawford Street, Lawrence, Mass.

 

Witness testimony and opening statements will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov. Media interested in attending the event should contact Giselle Barry at giselle_barry@markey.senate.gov.

Thune and Markey Applaud FCC Action on Reassigned Number Database

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, issued the following joint statement on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) draft order for a comprehensive database of reassigned telephone numbers to help consumers avoid unwanted robocalls and robotexts.

No Thanksgiving dinner should be interrupted by intrusive and unwanted robocalls,” said Thune and Markey. “A reassigned numbers database could curb the increase in unwanted calls and texts and also provide more certainty to legitimate callers seeking to communicate important information to their patients, customers, or employees.  We applaud the Commission for their effort to create this database, and support its swift implementation.”

In July, Sens. Thune and Markey sent a letter to Chairman Ajit Pai outlining an opportunity for the FCC to take action and better protect consumers from unwanted robocalls and robotexts. Earlier this month, Sens. Thune and Markey introduced S. 3655, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which gives regulators more time to pursue enforcement actions against scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally ignore laws.

Subcommittee Announces Federal Trade Commission Oversight Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a subcommittee hearing titled “Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. Consistent with the committee’s oversight responsibilities, this hearing will examine the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) priorities in promoting competition and consumer protection, the ongoing innovation hearings and how changes in technology impact the agency, and whether the FTC should have expanded authority with respect to privacy and data security.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Joseph J. Simons, Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Rohit Chopra, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Noah Joshua Phillips, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
  • The Honorable Christine S. Wilson, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing  will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Bipartisan TRACED Act Cracks Down on Illegal Robocall Scams

Thune, Markey bill targets the worst offenders...

Senate Approves Coast Guard Funding Increase

Senate Approves Coast Guard Funding Increase

Sen. Nelson applauds vote to give service more resources

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to increase funding for the Coast Guard by a 94 to 6 vote today.

The legislation authorizes roughly $10.6 billion for the Coast Guard in fiscal year 2019 – a 16 percent increase compared to 2017.  

“This is a good bill and one we can be proud of,”  U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said in a floor speech Tuesday.  “Passing it will ensure the Coast Guard has the tools it needs to continue to carry out its many important missions, including its maritime rescue, disaster response and drug interdiction roles so many Americans have come to depend on.”

Nelson, who co-authored the legislation, also praised the Coast Guard for its recent rescue and disaster relief efforts in Florida. 

“Just last month I saw firsthand the Coast Guard’s efforts in protecting life and property following Hurricane Michael. Coast Guard ships, planes and helicopters came from across the country to help hundreds of people on the Florida Panhandle.  The Coast Guard, as always, was there to assist,” he added.

In addition to the funding increase, the legislation would, among other things:

  • Strengthen the Coast Guard's maritime drug and border enforcement roles by bolstering interagency cooperation, enhancing the service’s ability to find and seize concealments of bulk cash and allowing the increased use of informants.  
  • Enhance the Coast Guard’s efforts to place and perform maintenance on navigational aids.
  • Allow the Coast Guard to enter into less costly multi-year contracts for purchasing future National Security Cutters.
  • Improve safety and flexibility for recreational boaters by promoting the installation of engine cut-off switches and alternate signaling devices.
  • Require the EPA to establish uniform national standards and requirements for treatment and management of ballast water and other vessel discharges.  Accommodations will be made for unique regional situations, such as the Great Lakes and Pacific coast.  States will also be allowed to create no-discharge zones for areas requiring additional protection.  
  • Direct the Coast Guard to monitor and enforce requirements governing discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels.
  • Give commanding officers flexibility to grant leave for new parents.

The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration where it’s expected to pass before the end of the year.   

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