Construction Industry News

Commerce to Explore Solutions to Next-Gen Broadband Deployment

This hearing will explore solutions to streamline broadband deployment and infrastructure especially in rural areas, and how to encourage private investment in next-generation telecommunications services.

Aviation Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on State of Airline Travel

This hearing will explore consumer protections and the state of airline travel. Following the forcible removal of an airline passenger on April 9, 2017, bipartisan Commerce Committee leaders sent letters of inquiry to United Airlines and the Chicago Department of Aviation, which operates O’Hare International Airport. United Airlines announced policy changes on April 27 developed in the aftermath of the incident designed to avoid such incidents in the future.

Nelson calls Pai’s proposal to roll back net neutrality rules ‘a dereliction of duty’

Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) issued the following statement on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s net neutrality proposal:

“Gutting these rules robs Americans of protections that preserve their access to the open and free internet,” said Nelson.  “Depriving the FCC of its ongoing, forward-looking oversight of the broadband industry amounts to a dereliction of duty at a time when guaranteeing an open internet is more critical than ever.  Chairman Pai should back off from rolling back these essential net neutrality rules.”

Bicameral Leaders Comment on Pai’s Internet Regulations Announcement

Bicameral leaders issued a statement after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking rolling back the FCC’s reclassification of broadband as a “common carrier” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Commerce Committee Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good morning, and thank you Senator Cruz, for calling this hearing. And I’d like to welcome Senator Markey as our new Space Subcommittee Ranking Member.  

I’m looking forward to continuing the bipartisan tradition of advancing the U.S. space enterprise.

I’ve had several very positive conversations with Vice President Pence about the importance of the space program, and I was honored to participate in the president’s signing of our NASA Authorization bill. I also look forward to working with the Vice President on re-establishing the Space Council at the White House.  I think that is an opportunity where, Senator Cruz, you and I can work with the administration to improve coordination of commercial, civil, and national security space activities across the government. 

If you want to take the temperature of the commercial launch sector in the U.S., look no further than Cape Canaveral, FL. As goes the Cape, so goes the commercial launch business.

A few years ago, I recognized a startling trend. Despite all of the available infrastructure and the amazing workforce at the Cape, commercial launch companies were looking elsewhere to take their business. With the Air Force, NASA, FAA, and other entities all involved in licensing and approving launch activities, there was just too much bureaucracy for them to deal with. So, I convened top leaders from the Air Force, NASA, and the FAA in Chairman Rockefeller’s office. I brought a map of all of the abandoned launch pads at the Cape, and I implored them that it is in the best interest of our nation to work together, with the private sector, to bring these pads back to life. 

In 2015, Senator Cruz and I included identical language in both the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, both of which were signed by the President on the exact same day, to streamline the licensing and approving process for commercial launches at federal installations. Now, after that legislation, and after several conversations with the top Air Force brass, the heads of NASA and the FAA, and industry we’re really getting somewhere. 

The transformation at the Cape couldn’t be more dramatic. Huge commercial rocket and satellite manufacturing facilities are going up, along with a steady increase in jobs.  Meanwhile, work continues on NASA’s deep space Orion capsule and the launch infrastructure to launch the SLS monster rocket. The commercial crew companies are building their capsules and rockets at the Cape, preparing for crewed launches in the very near future. And General Monteith, the commander of the 45th Space Wing, is forecasting over 30 launches this year and up to an astounding 48 launches per year in the next couple of years, up from an average of a dozen or so launches per year in the past.  Most of that activity will be commercial.   

This transformation at the Cape is illustrative of the broader impacts that the space industry has to offer to our country.

And we’re just getting going.  Right around the corner, there are exciting new endeavors in space enabled by partnerships with NASA and the entrepreneurs and innovators in the private sector. We’ll hear today about additive manufacturing in space and the amazing potential of that technology. We’ll hear about space habitats, about revolutionary new launch capabilities, and about achieving the dream of vastly expanding the numbers of people traveling to, living, and working in space. 

We all know challenges exist but the key to success here is balance; balance between public and private space endeavors, between competition and cooperation, between risk and public safety.

Thank you all for being here, and I look forward to your testimony.

Committee Leadership Statement on United Airlines and Chicago O’Hare Missing Deadline for Information on Forcible Passenger Removal

“We’re disappointed that neither United Airlines nor the Chicago Department of Aviation has yet provided substantive answers to the straightforward questions we asked about the forcible removal of a passenger on April 9, 2017. Getting answers for the public about what happened and what can be done to prevent such an incident from happening again is a priority for the members of our committee."

Cruz to Hold Hearing on Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space

This hearing will examine the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act signed into law in November 2015, potential regulatory barriers to address in future legislation, and ways to expand commercial opportunities for American firms in space.

Congressional Statements on Enactment of Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act

President Trump signs the first major piece of weather legislation adopted since the early 1990s into law.

Field Hearing: Extreme Weather and Coastal Flooding: What is Happening Now, What is the Future Risk, and What Can We Do About It?

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will convene a full committee field hearing titled “Extreme Weather and Coastal Flooding: What is Happening Now, What is the Future Risk, and What Can We Do About It?”

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation field hearing on seal level rise, extreme weather and coastal flooding. 

Today we sit at ground zero of the impacts of climate change in the U.S.  And while there are still some who continue to deny climate change is real, South Florida offers proof that it is real and it’s an issue we’re going to be grappling with for decades to come.

As all of us here today know, Florida is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  We have over 1,200 miles of coastline - more than any other state in the continental U.S. - and over three quarters of the state’s residents live in coastal counties.  Florida is also quite flat. The highest point in the state is Britton Hill, at 345 feet above sea level. 

Our communities are already experiencing regular, nuisance flooding during the king tides, as you can see in this photograph taken in Miami Beach in 2015 of a gentleman attempting to cross the street where the floodwater reaches above the curb. It has gotten so extreme that sea creatures are showing up in bizarre places, like this octopus in a parking lot.

The National Academy of Sciences found that 67 percent of nuisance floods in the US are driven by human-caused global sea level rise.  In Miami Beach, tide-induced flooding has increased by more than 400 percent in the last decade. In southeast Florida as a whole, sea level rise has tripled since 2006.

The resulting impacts of coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion, storm surge, and land erosion on Florida’s coastal communities have prompted local governments to act.

Here in Palm Beach County, more than 20 acres of beach and sand-dunes had to be restored following Hurricane Sandy to better protect shoreside communities from flooding and severe weather.

Observation such as these—not models, not projections, but the data—tells us that the average global sea level is rising.  The National Climate Assessment predicts that sea levels will rise an additional one to four feet this century. 

Additionally, rising ocean temperatures have been linked to increasing hurricane intensity, as hurricanes draw more energy from warm water.

In 2016 alone there were 15 weather and climate disaster events that caused over 1 billion dollars in damages each and resulted in 138 deaths across the country. In the first three months of this year there have been five more events with losses exceeding 1 billion dollars. These included a flood, a freeze, and three severe storms. Five is the largest number of billion-dollar events for January to March ever recorded.

Sea level rise will worsen the issue by creating deeper waters near shore, causing higher waves and stronger storm surges during hurricanes. This is especially concerning considering that 79 percent of Florida’s economy is generated in coastal communities, and over 130 billion dollars of beach real estate is at risk.

So, what do we do about it? Well first, we need to be clear about the facts that are presented to the public and fight against political censorship of our climate scientists and their data.   If a doctor were barred from using the word “cancer,” he or she can’t do his job, and the same is true with scientists and the work they do to understand and educate the public about the earth’s own fever.

We’ve got to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But we also must create more resilient communities. I would like to take the opportunity to applaud Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties for their work on the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact; and the Cities of Punta Gorda and Satellite Beach for their sea level rise adaptation planning and their efforts to become more resilient communities. I know they will keep up the good work and I hope that others will follow their lead. And I believe that at the federal level, we should be providing more tools to these communities, not less.

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but at the very moment we should be investing in the resilience efforts of communities, the administration has proposed slashing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program.

The administration’s budget has also recommended delaying investment in the next generation of weather satellites at NOAA—the sentinels that tell us when a hurricane is coming. This would cost lives, property, and even more tax dollars in the long-run. So, I’ll fight to ensure we invest in these vital programs.

With that, I’d like to welcome our distinguished panel and thank them for sharing their expertise. We will be hearing from them on the science, economic risks of inaction, and solutions for communities to mitigate sea level rise and coastal flooding.

Dr. Ben Kirtman is the Director of the Center for Computational Science Climate, and Environmental Hazards at the University of Miami, as well as the Director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Marine & Atmospheric Sciences. Dr. Kirtman is a professor in the Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and is the Executive Editor of the scientific journal, Climate Dynamics. His research focuses on predicting climate change in the short and the long term and how much of that change can be attributed to humans.

Dr. Leonard Berry is a Professor Emeritus of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University and serves as a consultant to Coastal Risk Consulting, a Florida company that assesses climate risk to properties. He has also provided consulting services to communities who wish to relocate power infrastructure to avoid flood risk.

Mr. Carl Hedde (Hehd-ee) is the Senior Vice President and the Head of Risk Accumulation for Munich Reinsurance of America. Mr. Hedde oversees corporate accumulation issues, including the use of catastrophe risk models, client catastrophe risk consulting services, and portfolio management and optimization. Additionally, he manages a group of scientists that provide expertise and research capabilities to Munich Reinsurance of America and its clients. 

Dr. Jennifer Jurado (Her-ahdoh) is the Chief Resiliency Officer, as well as the Director of the Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division for Broward County. Dr. Jurado serves as the county's primary representative coordinating with regional and agency partners, and public and private stakeholders to advance resiliency planning and infrastructure investments. Dr. Jurado was on the President's Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience (2014-2015) and was recognized in 2013 by the White House as a Champion of Change for her leadership on climate resilience. She was integral in drafting the Southeast Florida Climate Compact.

Thank you all for coming today.  I look forward to your testimony.

 

West Palm Beach to Host Senate Commerce Committee Field Hearing on Extreme Weather and Coastal Flooding

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) will convene a full committee field hearing on Monday, April 10, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. EDT in West Palm Beach, Florida.

<p><font size="3">Good morning.<br />

Good morning.

Thank you to the witnesses for appearing before this Subcommittee today to discuss their perspectives on rural air service and the general aviation community.

We have before us:

The Honorable Laurie Gill, Mayor, Pierre, South Dakota; Mr. Spencer Dickerson, Executive Director, U.S. Contract Tower Association, an affiliated organization of the American Association of Airport Executives; Mr. Mark Baker, President and CEO, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; and Dr. Guy Smith, Professor Emeritus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

I would also like to recognize the family members of the victims of Colgan Air Flight 3407.  Your presence is a steadfast reminder that aviation safety must be the primary goal of this subcommittee.

This hearing is one of a series on reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

As we’ve previously noted, civil aviation is a critically important sector for the economy in general, and in rural and small communities in particular. It is estimated that the overall economic impact of reliable air service in small communities is roughly $121 billion, and it supports over 1.1 million jobs.

Quality air service links smaller communities to the broader economy and global transportation networks. Small, and non-hub airports provide lifelines for local businesses, transportation for service members and their families, and bolster local tourism. A perfect example of this is the Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport at Forney Field, Fort Leonard Wood. 

Located in central Missouri, this joint-use facility provides reliable, accessible air service for members of the military serving on-post and thousands of their family members who attend annually for training graduations. It also links the local businesses in Ft. Leonard Wood’s surrounding communities to Lambert International in St. Louis, and supports tourism for the Mahaffey Museum Complex.

In addition to commercial air service at regional airports, we also want to highlight the important role of General Aviation (GA). GA encompasses a range of non-commercial operations, including private pilots that fly small planes, gliders, hot air balloons, homebuilt aircraft, as well as sophisticated jet aircraft. GA plays an important role connecting rural areas to the rest of the nation’s air transportation system, and it’s estimated that GA supports 1.1 million jobs and accounts for $219 billion in total economic output.

There’s no question about the importance of regional air service and general aviation, but we must also recognize and address the challenges they face.

From 2007 to 2016, small and non-hub airports experienced significant declines in departures, seats, and connectivity. Additionally, in 2014, the Government Accountability Office testified that regional airlines were having difficulties finding sufficient numbers of qualified pilots.

Reduced service to rural airports is alarming. 

In addition to reduced service, and insufficient availability of pilots, we must also examine federal programs that support air service at smaller airports to determine if they are working as Congress intended.

These programs include:

The Federal Contract Tower program, which allows FAA to contract with private air traffic control providers at 253 airports nationwide, including five in Missouri; Essential Air Service, which provides a safety net to ensure rural areas have air service, including four in Missouri; and The Small Community Air Service Development Program, which provides grants to communities for strategies to improve availability and price of air service, including multiple airports in Missouri.

This Subcommittee is mindful of the anxiety in rural communities that hear talk about funding cuts in Washington to these programs.

Proposed cuts to rural aviation programs are a perennial request of both Republican and Democratic administrations.

While a president has the right to propose cuts in spending, the Constitution gives Congress the power to actually set spending. 

The purpose of this hearing is to examine what’s working for rural aviation, and what can be improved. To that end, we need to think of rural aviation and general aviation issues holistically.

I was pleased with provisions included in the short-term FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act that require the Department of Transportation to convene a working group and issue a report to Congress by July 15, 2017. 

The focus of the Working Group is to consider whether funding for existing rural aviation programs is sufficient, and to identify initiatives to support pilot training and aviation safety for small communities. The Subcommittee eagerly awaits the working group’s report, and we look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.

I want to thank my Subcommittee counterpart, Maria Cantwell, for being here today as we continue to work in a bipartisan manner to advance rural aviation and safety as part of a comprehensive FAA reauthorization.

I turn now to Ranking Member Cantwell for any remarks she would like to make.

Commerce Approves the Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act, DOT Deputy Secretary Nomination and Additional Legislation

WASHINGTON –  The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved five bills and the nomination of Jeffrey Rosen to serve as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Transportation.

Bills and nominations approved are as follows (approved by voice vote unless otherwise noted):

Agenda

1.    S. 763, Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, Sponsors: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

    a. Thune-Nelson substitute amendment
    b. Baldwin 1, as modified

2.    S. 61, A bill to remove the sunset provision of section 203 of Public Law 105-384 (the Dungeness Crabs bill), Sponsors: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.

3.    S. 701, A bill to improve the competitiveness of United States manufacturing by designating and supporting manufacturing communities, Sponsors: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Shelley Capito (R-W.V.), Angus King (I-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)

    a. Klobuchar 1, as modified

4.    S. 756, Save Our Shores Act of 2017, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) Gary Peters (D-Mich.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

5.    S. 770, Making Available Information Now to Strengthen Trust and Resilience and Enhance Enterprise Technology (MAIN STREET) Cybersecurity Act, Sponsors: Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), James Risch (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)

    a. Schatz 1, as modified

6.    Jeffrey A. Rosen, of Virginia, to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation (agreed to by roll call vote: 15-12)

###

Executive Session

Click to watch the livestream

<p>"Good morning and welcome everyone

"Good morning and welcome everyone to the second executive session of this Congress.  Today, we will be considering a number of measures, including the Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, which I have introduced with Senators Nelson, Fischer, and Booker.  I am also pleased to have Senators Wicker, Blunt, Cantwell, and Blumenthal as cosponsors. 

"This bill is designed to address concerns raised by independent government watchdog agencies that TSA is not adequately identifying risks across all modes of transportation.  One of the provisions in our bill focuses on making sure TSA has enough canine units. 

"To highlight the good work these units do, we are actually going to start our markup today with a short demonstration by two of Amtrak’s canine detection teams.  The teams will be showcasing the talents of these dedicated dogs and their handlers.

"Both canine teams we have here today are led by Sergeant Micah Jones.  Sergeant Jones has been a certified handler since 1996 and has been training canine teams since 2008.  Sergeant Jones retired with 21 years of service in the United States Air Force as a Master Sergeant. 

"He honed his canine experience during deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, among other locations.  I also want to thank his boss, Amtrak Police Chief Neil Trugman, for being here and facilitating today's demo.

"The first demo team is Officer Ryan Tullar and K9 Ivan.  Officer Tullar and Ivan have been a certified team since 2012.  K9 Ivan is one of the Amtrak Police Department’s Vapor Wake canines, and he has the ability to detect explosive odor on a moving target. 

"Thank you Officer Tullar and Ivan.  We will now start the second demo, with Officer Daniel Scanlon and K9 Ladley.  Ladley is honorably named after Mr. James Patrick Ladley, a 41 year old businessman who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and tragically lost his life. 

"Officer Scanlon and Ladley have been a certified team since 2013.  K9 Ladley is one of the Amtrak Police Department’s TSA Conventional canines, which means he has the ability to detect explosive odor on stationary targets. 

"Thank you officers and K9s for that demonstration.  We all truly appreciate your great work. 

"It is my hope that the Surface and Maritime Transpiration Security Act will be reported favorably today and that we can continue to work with the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, under Chairman Johnson’s leadership, and others to ensure its eventual enactment. 

"In addition to the Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, we will also be considering a handful of other measures and the nomination of Mr. Jeffery Rosen to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation. 

"These include Senator Sullivan’s Save our Seas Act of 2017, which will reauthorize the Marine Debris program at NOAA, and Senator Cantwell’s bill, S. 61, which will allow the States of Washington, Oregon, and California to continue to manage the Dungeness crab fishery permanently. 

"There is also Senator Schatz’s MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act, which I am pleased to cosponsor, along with Small Business Committee Chairman Risch and Senators Nelson, Cantwell, Gardner, and Cortez-Masto. 

"This legislation will help small businesses get the information they need to protect themselves and their customers from cyber attacks.

"We’ll also be considering the Made in America Manufacturing Communities Act of 2017.  Sponsored by Senators Gillibrand, Capito, Moran, Blumenthal, and Klobuchar, it was considered by the Committee as part of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act last year, but was not included in the final enacted measure. 

"I look forward to getting feedback from, and working with the new Administration and the sponsors, as this bill proceeds to the Senate floor.

"With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks."

<font face="Times New Roman" size="3">


Good afternoon everyone.  Thank you all for being here today for our third hearing of the 115th Congress. Today’s hearing is titled, “Keeping Goods Moving: Continuing to Enhance Multimodal Freight Policy and Infrastructure.”

I am pleased to bring together a panel of leaders who work each and every day to strengthen America’s transportation system. I’m particularly proud that we have representation from two of our nation’s largest transportation companies, Werner trucking and Union Pacific railroad, both headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Today’s topic is freight policy. This is an issue that’s important to every state, including urban and rural communities, and advances a wide array of transportation projects across that country. 

Enhancing the flow of commercial freight across our country grows our economy, reduces costs for families and businesses, and, most importantly, increases safety for all Americans. 

Everyone here today knows that the White House and Congress have been discussing a major infrastructure package.

In fact, recent news reports suggest the administration is considering a legislative strategy to pair tax reform and infrastructure together. Combining these objectives makes sense.

I support using a portion of tax reform revenues to fund infrastructure investments. Infrastructure is a core duty of the federal government. Investments in infrastructure strengthen our economy, public safety, and national security.

But as we think about infrastructure package, we should avoid falling into the trap of stimulus-style spending for its own sake. States know best their own transportation needs, not the federal government. And there’s no need to create a new program that works for various transportation projects in urban and rural states. We already have one.

In 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and President Obama signed it into law. The FAST Act was the first long-term highway bill in a more than a decade. In it, Congress established a formula freight program that provides every state with annual, guaranteed funding. Because of the freight program, states will have greater flexibility to work with key stakeholders and local officials to develop long-term strategic investments in transportation.

The program funnels transportation funds to states and allows them to decide on their terms how to use it.

The only stipulation: projects must somehow be connected to enhancing freight transportation movements. Railway-highway grade separations, truck-only lanes, and highway or bridge projects are examples of possible uses.

By dedicating funding for rural and urban freight corridors, the program enhances the flow of commercial traffic and increases safety on our nation’s roads for all travelers. 

The true beauty of this program is it offers states the opportunity make critical investments that best meet their specific geographic and infrastructure needs.

For example, Nebraska can elect to invest in a rail-grade crossing or a truck parking lot along a rural road.

At the same time, California could choose to invest in on-dock rail projects at our nation’s largest port complex, located just outside of Los Angeles. The national freight program works for all states, without leaving any behind.

The national freight policy also has robust bipartisan support.  For example, I know my colleague and friend, Senator Cantwell, has been a strong proponent and advocate of the freight program.

As Congress and the Trump Administration work to address our nation’s infrastructure needs with revenue from tax reform, expanding the national freight program should be an idea on the table. I believe that it would be a wise investment in America’s future. 

Along with investing in infrastructure, Congress must keep in mind how unintended regulatory consequences can impact our freight network. Whether it is a delay to a critical highway project or a new requirement that negatively alters the supply chain, burdensome regulations can hinder progress.

States need certainty and predictability when initiating key transportation projects. Transportation stakeholders in the private sector are constantly innovating to enhance efficiencies along the supply chain using real time data and novel technologies. There’s a real opportunity to work together and facilitate greater innovation across our nation’s transportation network.

I look forward to today’s discussion and how we can bolster our nation’s freight infrastructure.

I now turn to my colleague and Ranking Member Senator Cory Booker for his opening remarks. 

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