Construction Industry News

Committee Approves Four Bills, Eight Nominees

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today, approved four bills and eight nominees subject to Senate confirmation.

Executive Session

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, April 25, at 9:45 a.m. to consider the following legislative measure and nominations.

Click here for additional information on nominees.

Agenda:

1.    S. 2717, Maritime Authorization and Enhancement Act for Fiscal Year 2019, Sponsors: Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.)

2.    S. 2369, Whaling Convention Amendments Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

3.    S. 2511, CENOTE Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

 

4.    S. 2343, Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) 

5.    Nomination of Vice Adm. Karl L. Schultz to Admiral and to be Commandant of the United States Coast Guard

6.    Nomination of Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray to be Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard

 

7.    Nomination of Patrick Fuchs, of Wisconsin, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board (STB)

8.    Nomination of Michelle A. Schultz, of Pennsylvania, to be a Member of the STB

9.    Nomination of Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, of Maryland, to be a Federal Trade Commissioner

10.    Nomination of Rubydee Calvert, of Wyoming, to be a Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as the Public TV Stations Representative

11.    Nomination of Laura Gore Ross, of New York, to be a Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

12.  Nomination of Alan E. Cobb, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
9:45 a.m.
Full Committee Markup
Senate Dirksen Building, Room 106
 
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov

Maritime Transportation: Opportunities and Challenges

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, will convene a hearing on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, at 2:30 p.m. entitled, “Maritime Transportation: Opportunities and Challenges.” The hearing will focus on the U.S. maritime industry, the state of the nation’s maritime transportation system and its current challenges, and the ways in which Federal policy and programs could enhance its performance. This hearing will also inform the upcoming reauthorization of the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Witnesses: 

  • The Honorable Mark H. Buzby, USN, Ret., Administrator, Maritime Administration
  • The Honorable Michael Khouri, Acting Chairman, Federal Maritime Commission
  • Rear Admiral James Helis, USMS, Superintendent, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
  • Mr. Craig Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation 

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
2:30 p.m
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security 

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

Commerce Announces Markup on April 25

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, April 25, at 9:45 a.m. to consider the following legislative measure and nominations.

Click here for additional information on nominees.

Agenda:

1.    S. 2717, Maritime Authorization and Enhancement Act for Fiscal Year 2019, Sponsors: Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.)

2.    S. 2369, Whaling Convention Amendments Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

3.    S. 2511, CENOTE Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)

 

4.    S. 2343, Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) 

5.    Nomination of Vice Adm. Karl L. Schultz to Admiral and to be Commandant of the United States Coast Guard

6.    Nomination of Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray to be Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard

 

7.    Nomination of Patrick Fuchs, of Wisconsin, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board (STB)

8.    Nomination of Michelle A. Schultz, of Pennsylvania, to be a Member of the STB

9.    Nomination of Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, of Maryland, to be a Federal Trade Commissioner

10.    Nomination of Rubydee Calvert, of Wyoming, to be a Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as the Public TV Stations Representative

11.    Nomination of Laura Gore Ross, of New York, to be a Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

12.  Nomination of Alan E. Cobb, of Kansas, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
9:45 a.m.
Full Committee Markup
Senate Dirksen Building, Room 106
 
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov

Senate Confirms NASA Administrator

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on the confirmation of the president’s nominee to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Jim Bridenstine.

“Today, the Senate voted to confirm Jim Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator, filling another important administration position that has stood empty for too long,” said Thune. “I am confident that Congressman Bridenstine’s leadership will serve NASA well, and I wish him the best as he begins his new role.”

<em>(As prepared for delivery)</em><br

(As prepared for delivery)

Good afternoon, I call this hearing to order. I will keep my opening remarks brief because it is most important today that we hear and learn not from those of us behind the dais but from our witnesses whose powerful stories will resonate with each of us. 

To our witnesses, thank you for being here today to share your experiences with this Subcommittee. I speak for all of us when I say thank you for representing the United States so well in and outside of your sport. We appreciate your willingness to spend your afternoon with us discussing ways to better protect our athletes.

I believe we all wish to see Americans successful in international competition and understand the value of encouraging young athletes to participate in our nation’s thriving sports culture. This Subcommittee, which exercises jurisdiction over the U.S. Olympic Committee and amateur sports, is fully committed to ensuring the health and safety of all American athletes, from youth sports to the Olympics.

In January, Senator Blumenthal and I launched a bipartisan Subcommittee investigation to examine cultural and systemic problems regarding abuse after serious and disturbing revelations that former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused hundreds of athletes over two decades, even well after survivors alerted authorities about his actions.

Together we have sought extensive documentation from the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University regarding this specific case. To further expand the investigation, we have requested written documentation from all National Governing Bodies on their policies and procedures in reporting, handling and combating abuse and their use of athlete-organization nondisclosure agreements.

Today’s hearing represents the next step in our investigation. The Ranking Member and I met with several athletes earlier this year – including two of you here today – and we felt it was absolutely necessary to have your experiences shared with this Subcommittee. 

I am also eager to hear our witnesses’ advice and recommendations on what Congress ought to be doing to make certain athletes are protected from predators and can freely participate in their sports without fear of abuse. 

I appreciate the incredible bravery of our witnesses and their willingness to be here to discuss these sensitive topics. You are all enormously talented and successful athletes who made your country proud but were taken for granted by the organizations you represented. You were let down by individuals you trusted but who chose to ignore you, to look the other way, or to deliberately cover up the abuses you suffered because their priority, simply put, was not your safety or well-being. 

Thank you for the time you have taken to prepare and present your heartfelt testimony.

Finally, while she is not here to testify today, another abuse survivor, McKayla Maroney, has submitted written testimony to the Subcommittee. Ms. Maroney, as many of you know, is another Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast abused by Larry Nassar, and whom was alleged to have been silenced from speaking out by USA Gymnastics through an NDA. I ask unanimous consent that her testimony be entered into the record.

With that I will turn to the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Senator Blumenthal, for his opening statement. 

Thune Leads Commerce Committee Hearing Examining the Problem of Abusive Robocalls

“We’re here to address an issue that I’m sure we can all agree on: unwanted, abusive, and illegal robocalls have got to stop.”...

Subcommittee Announces Hearing to Examine the Marine Mammal Protection Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a hearing titled “Enhancing the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” at 2:30 p.m. on April 25, 2018. The hearing will examine the Marine Mammal Protection Act and ways to improve it, in light of potential conflicts with the Endangered Species Act, the needs of tribal and indigenous communities, and the role of zoos and aquariums in marine mammal conservation. 

The hearing was previously scheduled for March 22, 2018 but was postponed due to weather. 

Witnesses:

    • Mr. Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    • Mr. Mike Miller, Chairman, Indigenous People’s Council for Marine Mammals
    • Mr. Guy Norman, Chair, Fish and Wildlife Committee, Northwest Power and Conservation Council
    • Dr. Rae Stone, President and Partner, Dolphin Quest
    • Ms. Jane Davenport, Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Division, Defenders of Wildlife

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 
2:30 p.m. 
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard 

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

Abusive Robocalls and How We Can Stop Them

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. entitled, “Abusive Robocalls and How We Can Stop Them.” The hearing will examine the problem of malicious spoofing and abusive robocalls designed to defraud consumers, as well as measures being taken by government and industry to protect consumers.

“Abusive robocalls are persistently annoying and at worst they are a means for significant fraud and theft,” said Thune. “Our hearing will examine where such robocalls come from, how they work, and what steps can be taken to identify and deter them from happening.”

Witnesses:

  • Ms. Lois Greisman, Associate Director, Marketing Practices Division, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission
  • Ms. Rosemary Harold, Chief, Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications Commission
  • Mr. Adrian Abramovich, former President of Marketing Strategy Leaders (dissolved 1/29/2016)
  • Mr. Scott Delacourt, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP and U.S. Chamber of Commerce representative
  • Mr. Kevin Rupy, Vice President, Law and Policy, United States Telecom Association
  • Ms. Margot Saunders, Senior Counsel, National Consumer Law Center

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee

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

<span>Good morning. In the United

Good morning. In the United States Senate, we often have heated disagreements over important issues facing our country.

Even in the Commerce Committee, which has a longstanding tradition of reaching bipartisan compromise when possible, we don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to contentious issues.

But today, we’re here to address an issue that I’m sure we can all agree on: unwanted, abusive, and illegal robocalls have got to stop.

Unsolicited robocalls consistently rank among the top consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

Beyond just being annoying, many of those who send out unwanted robocalls do so with the intent to defraud consumers.

As more phone systems move from copper wires to the internet, it has become easier and cheaper for bad actors to make illegal robocalls from anywhere in the world.

These new technologies have also made it easier for scammers to hide from law enforcement and seek to gain their victims’ trust by displaying fake caller ID information.

Known as “spoofing,” this technique allows a fraudulent call to show up on recipients’ caller ID as a number within their area code, or even with many of the same digits as their own phone number – making it appear like a trustworthy local number.

I’m sure that many of us, as well as many of our constituents, have experienced this phenomenon.

The goal of scammers using spoofed robocalls is often to get money out of unsuspecting recipients, and some of their methods can be particularly malicious. For instance, given that yesterday was tax day, one common scam, especially at this time of year, is the “IRS scam.” This scam involves the caller pretending to represent the IRS in order to scare the victim into providing money or personal information to avoid phony tax penalties.

But perhaps the biggest negative effect of the increasing prevalence of unwanted robocalls is that they frustrate recipients to the point that they are less likely to answer legitimate calls.

It’s important to remember that robocalls are not inherently negative. Many important services are carried out via robocall where companies and call recipients have pre-established relationships and where the consumer has agreed to participate in these types of calls.

Indeed, some entities, like hospitals and pharmacies, use robocalls to remind a patient of an upcoming appointment or that a prescription is ready for pick-up. In addition, automakers often use robocalls to warn vehicle owners of urgent safety recalls. Missing calls like these can have life or death consequences for recipients.

Today we have the opportunity to hear from enforcement officials responsible for combatting illegal robocallers and from industry representatives who can speak to new methods for preventing consumers from receiving unwanted calls in the first place.

We also have the opportunity to hear from Mr. Adrian Abramovich who, according to the FCC, allegedly made almost 100 million robocalls in a three-month period in 2016.

On October 10, 2017, the Committee sent Mr. Abramovich a letter of inquiry regarding the FCC’s notice of apparent liability, asking several questions about his conduct. On November 3, 2017, through his counsel, Mr. Abramovich informed the Committee that he would not be providing information in response to the Committee’s inquiry.

This past March, I invited Mr. Abramovich to appear voluntarily at today’s hearing, but, through his counsel, he declined.

In light of Mr. Abramovich’s decision to decline the Committee’s invitation, and refusal to provide information in response to the Committee’s inquiry, a subpoena requiring Mr. Abramovich’s appearance before the Committee was issued.

Mr. Abramovich, your participation at today’s hearing is important. According to the FCC, you allegedly made nearly 100 million robocalls to American consumers purporting to be a well-known travel or hospitality company such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, Marriott, or Hilton. If a robocall recipient answered and pressed “1” for more information, the consumer would be directed to a Mexican hotel and resort chain engaged in selling timeshares and vacation packages that had contracted with you, Mr. Abramovich, to receive calls generated by your network.

Mr. Abramovich, I expect that today you will shed some light on your past conduct and provide the Committee with your unique perspective on the technologies and practices behind abusive robocalls. With this information, and that of the second panel, the Committee should better understand this problem and what steps might be necessary to end this abusive practice.

Finally, before I turn to Ranking Member Nelson, I would just note that the recently enacted Omnibus Appropriations bill included Committee-approved legislation he sponsored with Senators Fischer, Klobuchar, Blunt, and Duckworth, to empower the FCC to combat spoofing originating from international locations. We’ll be eager to hear how that new law will be implemented, and what more needs to be done.

I now turn to Ranking Member Nelson for his opening remarks.

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