Construction Industry News

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Mr. Chairman, today we’re going to be discussing the future of one of the most popular federal agencies - one that directly impacts the daily lives of millions of Americans.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is an agency most people are aware of because of weather forecasts and warnings distributed free of charge through the National Weather Service.

When Hurricane Irma was barreling toward Florida, it was National Weather Service employees - including the great professionals at the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables - who provided key forecasts to Florida’s local governments and emergency managers by using all of NOAA’s satellites and other assets.

But NOAA’s mission doesn’t stop there.  It’s responsible for sustainably managing our nation’s fisheries; ensuring that ships are able to get in and out of our ports; protecting critters, corals, and habitats; and helping coastal communities plan for the future.

As I speak, NOAA is carrying out cutting edge climate research, providing coastal communities with flood warnings and working in my state to mitigate the harmful effects of algal blooms and coral bleaching.

The bottom line is NOAA plays a crucial role in protecting the lives and property of all Americans.  And that role is increasing thanks to the growing risks from human-caused climate change.

Mr. Myers, I mention all of this to make sure you truly understand how important a role NOAA plays in all of our lives.  

As the CEO of AccuWeather I understand that you are knowledgeable about our national weather program and I commend your business background.

But as I look at that background I have serious concerns. 

It’s no secret that in 2005 you were behind a bill sponsored by then-Senator Santorum that would have prohibited the weather service from offering a product or service "that is or could be provided by the private sector" - a provision that would have directly benefited AccuWeather.

If this bill had passed, Americans’ access to free and potentially life-saving government weather forecasts would have been placed at great risk.  

While NOAA has always put protecting the lives and properties of Americans ahead of making a buck off forecasts and warnings, your past history with the Santorum bill suggests you might do otherwise. 

And, with your family connections at AccuWeather, there remains lingering concern about potential conflicts of interest.   

How can we be sure that you will not have a conflict of interest with a company owned by your brothers, previously run by you?  How can weather service employees and the public trust you will truly refrain from involving yourself in NOAA decisions that could affect your family’s company?

These are questions that should be put to rest before you leave today and done so in a way that your answers are clear to everyone.

Mr. Myers, what we really need is a NOAA administrator who will do what is best for the American people. While I sincerely hope that person is you, I want to hear more on how you plan to avoid conflicts and safeguard the critical mission of the agency.

Senate Commerce, Finance Committees Seek Answers on Uber Data Breach

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) today, in a letter to Uber Technologies Inc. CEO DaraKhosrowshahi, requested information related to recent reports of a data breach, which Uber failed to disclose promptly, involving the personal information of 57 million customers including names, email addresses, and mobile phone numbers.

Committee Announces Hearing for NOAA Administrator Nominee

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nominations hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, for the president’s nominee to serve as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Barry Lee Myers, of Pennsylvania, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
10:30 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

Credit Report Errors Plague Consumers

WASHINGTON – Consumer credit reports continue to be riddled with tens of millions of errors annually, according to a new report released by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee.

Between 2014 and 2016, consumers identified and disputed more than 224 million potential errors on their credit reports – a 60 percent increase during the three-year period.  Of those disputed items, more than half were confirmed errors and later fixed by U.S. credit reporting agencies (CRAs).

The figures came in response to a series of questions Nelson sent to the nation’s three largest CRAs - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -in an effort to assess the accuracy of information in credit reports and to better understand current dispute resolution practices. 

“There’s nothing more frustrating than discovering an error on your credit report, especially when it could result in being denied a loan, paying higher interest rates or even getting turned down for a job or an apartment,” said Nelson.  “Unfortunately for consumers, once they’ve found a mistake they have nowhere else to turn but the big three credit reporting agencies.  That’s why it’s imperative these companies do a better job of making it easier and faster for consumers to fix credit report errors.”

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), credit reports were the third most-complained-about product behind debt collection and mortgages from July 2011 to March 2017.  Consumers submitted nearly 195,800 credit reporting complaints during the period.  CFPB complaint data also reveals that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are among the top five most-complained-about companies in the bureau’s monthly complaint reports ranging from February 2015 through January of this year.

The report made a number of recommendations aimed at improving the process for consumers to correct mistakes on their credit reports.  They include:

      • CRAs must make the dispute resolution process easier for consumers, establish better processes for the removal of inaccurate information, and take a tougher stance against furnishers that provide inaccurate information;

      • Consumers should regularly check their credit reports with all three major CRAs to determine whether their reports contain any of the tens of millions of errors discovered each year;

      • When a CRA fails to promptly correct an error in response to a dispute, consumers should file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and CFPB; and,

     • The FTC and the CFPB must continue their long-standing efforts to protect consumers and ensure that the CRAs are complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

 

 

Coast Guard Readiness: How Far Can We Stretch Our Nation’s Only Multi-Mission, Military Force?”


U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a hearing titled “Coast Guard Readiness: How Far Can We Stretch Our Nation’s Only Multi-Mission, Military Force?” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 16, 2017. The hearing will examine the Coast Guard’s role in preparation and response to recent natural disasters that have impacted the U.S. mainland and territories, as well as other strains on the Coast Guard, including drug enforcement, icebreaking, safety of navigation, oil spill response, and non-maritime emergency response.
 
Panel I:

  - Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard
 
Panel II:

  - Ms. Etta Kuzakin, King Cove, AK
  - Dr. Guy Meadows, Michigan Technological University 
  - Mr. Lee Smithson, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
 
Hearing Details:
 
Thursday, November 16, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, & 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.

Senate Passes Bill Requiring U.S. Amateur Athletic Organizations, Members to Report Sexual Abuse

The U.S. Senate today passed legislation led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) to require amateur athletics governing bodies to report sex-abuse allegations immediately to local or federal law enforcement, or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department.

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Good morning. Welcome to the subcommittee’s hearing on “Technology in Agriculture: Data-Driven Farming.” The subcommittee will come to order.

Thank you for being here today to discuss the advancements and benefits of agricultural technology and the potential of “Big Data” in farming.

The agricultural community’s adoption of field sensors, drones, satellite imagery, advanced machinery and similar technology is increasing at an incredible pace to increase crop yields and improve sustainable practices. The most profitable farms are often the most sustainable ones. This rapidly evolving technology will have a vital role in preserving farmers’ most important asset, their land, with the potential to increase farmers’ margins to unprecedented levels.

The collection and analysis of data has enabled farmers to reduce costs through more efficient applications of inputs like fertilizers and pesticides; improve production decisions through enhanced recordkeeping and more accurate yield predictions; and enhance land stewardship and sustainable practices by removing inefficiencies in planting, harvesting, water use and the allocation of other resources. With an increasing volume of quality data, in tandem with improved data analysis, data-collecting technology has the potential to drastically increase farm productivity and profitability.

The collection and use of such data raises issues regarding control of the data, the transparency of agreements between farmers and data firms and barriers to expanding internet access in rural areas.

Additionally, as data collection and sharing practices become more popular across the agriculture economy, farmers are well-positioned to benefit from the “commoditization” of data collected from their land, especially as equipment manufacturers, service providers, cooperatives and other businesses seek to access and utilize this data.

My goal for this hearing is to educate and empower our nation’s farmers to understand the value of the information they are creating.

It is my pleasure to introduce our panel today. Thank you all for being here. 

Mr. Justin Knopf is a farmer from Gypsum, Kansas, and he grows wheat, alfalfa, soybeans, grain sorghum, corn and multi-species cover crops. As a part of his sustainability-focused farming operations, he practices what is commonly referred to as “no-till” farming and utilizes a variety of technologies that assist his monitoring efforts to be a good steward of the land while improving his yield.

Mr. Jason Tatge is the Co-Founder and CEO of Farmobile, a technology firm based in Overland Park, Kansas. His company’s services provide farmers with real-time access to and ownership of current and historical data pertaining to their land. By providing a user-friendly, simplified yet comprehensive overview of relevant data, Farmobile’s customers are able to make educated decisions in a timely fashion.

Dr. Shannon Ferrell is an Associate Professor at Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics. He also serves as the agricultural industry representative to the Oklahoma Environmental Quality Board, which oversees the operation of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

Mr. Todd Janzen is President of Janzen Agricultural Law, LLC and the Administrator of the Ag Data Transparency project. This project makes available the Ag Data Transparency Evaluator, which aims to provide clarity to consumers as to what businesses do with the data that is shared with them.

Dr. Dorota Haman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida. She specializes in irrigation water management and efficiencies, and has been an active leader in providing irrigation technology to developing countries in the Americas and Africa.

I look forward to hearing the testimonies of this expert witness panel. I now turn to my colleague Ranking Member Blumenthal for his opening remarks.

Technology in Agriculture: Data-Driven Farming

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, & Data Security, will convene a hearing titled “Technology in Agriculture: Data-Driven Farming,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. The hearing will examine the potential benefits of advancements in agricultural technology and the collection and utilization of data in farming.

Witnesses:

  - Dr. Shannon Ferrell, Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University
  - Mr. Todd J. Janzen, President, Janzen Agricultural Law, LLC
  - Mr. Justin Knopf, Vice President, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers
  - Mr. Jason Tatge, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Farmobile 

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, & Data 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.

Committee Announces Hearing to Examine Coast Guard Readiness


WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a hearing titled “Coast Guard Readiness: How Far Can We Stretch Our Nation’s Only Multi-Mission, Military Force?” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 16, 2017. The hearing will examine the Coast Guard’s role in preparation and response to recent natural disasters that have impacted the U.S. mainland and territories, as well as other strains on the Coast Guard, including drug enforcement, icebreaking, safety of navigation, oil spill response, and non-maritime emergency response.
  
Panel I:

  - Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

Panel II: 

  - Ms. Etta Kuzakin, King Cove, AK
  - Dr. Guy Meadows, Michigan Technological University 
  - Mr. Lee Smithson, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
 
Hearing Details:
 
Thursday, November 16, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, & 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.

Senate Commerce Approves the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, Nominations

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today, by voice vote, approved S. 1693, Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, with a Thune/Nelson/Blumenthal substitute amendment. The amendment addresses issues raised at the Commerce Committee’s September 19 legislative hearing. The committee also approved bipartisan legislation renaming a waterway in New York and eight nominees subject to Senate confirmation, including current Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to lead NASA as its administrator.

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Good morning.  Now that our executive session is complete, we turn to the issue of data breaches. 

Data breach is not a new issue for the Committee to explore.  In fact, the Committee has been focused on the consumer impact of data breaches since before I was elected to the U.S. Senate.

The September 2004 ChoicePoint breach, what many consider to be the first high-profile data breach of the modern era, prompted a number of investigations from this Committee, the FTC, and federal and state authorities.  

For those that don’t remember, ChoicePoint was a data aggregation company originally created by Equifax, who as fate would have it, is represented here today.  In terms of the trajectory of congressional inquiry into major data breaches, you might say we have come full circle.

In the intervening years, Congress, and this Committee in particular, have paid close attention to data breaches big and small.  In addition, the Committee has entertained a variety of proposals to strengthen data security requirements for companies across the board, as well as to impose federal requirements for affected companies to notify their consumers following the discovery of a breach.   

Sadly, we are truly in the era of major data breaches.  These include the large-scale breaches at Equifax and Yahoo! that we are examining today. 

While the Yahoo! breaches are larger in terms of affected consumers, the Equifax breach is potentially much more severe given the sensitive nature of the consumer information compromised.  In fact, I have heard from many constituents in South Dakota who are concerned about the lasting effects of the Equifax breach.  I have also heard complaints that it is difficult to set up a credit freeze, and questions about whether credit monitoring is an effective tool to prevent identity theft. 

The Equifax breach reportedly exposed the sensitive personal data of about 145.5 million U.S. consumers, including their names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and in some cases, driver’s license numbers. 

Also exposed were the credit card numbers for more than 200,000 U.S. consumers and dispute documents containing personal identifying information for more than 180,000 U.S. consumers. 

Today, Equifax will have an opportunity to provide an update regarding the breach, as well as its much-criticized efforts to mitigate the harm and prevent anything like this from happening again.  

The Yahoo! breach we will discuss today  compromised over 3 billion user accounts and followed a prior breach in which hackers stole similar types of information from at least 500 million users. 

The compromised data included names, telephone numbers, dates of birth, partial passwords, unencrypted security questions and answers, backup e-mail addresses, and employment information.  

The 3 billion figure constitutes the entirety of the Yahoo! Mail and other Yahoo!-owned accounts at the time of the breach. 

Today Yahoo! representatives will have an opportunity to provide an update regarding these breaches as well as efforts to mitigate the harm and ensure the security of consumer data going forward. 

The massive data breaches at Equifax and Yahoo! illustrate quite dramatically that our nation continues to face constantly evolving cyber threats to our personal data. 

Companies that collect and store personal data on American citizens must step up to provide adequate cybersecurity.  And there should be consequences if they fail to do so. 

The Committee has made cybersecurity a priority, and I am hopeful that today’s hearing will help the Committee to better understand these challenges as it considers legislation to address data breach notification and data security issues.  When there is risk of real harm stemming from a breach, we must make sure that consumers have the information they need to protect themselves.  

That is why I support a uniform Federal breach notification standard to replace the patchwork of laws in 48 states, in addition to the District of Columbia and three other territories.

A single Federal standard would ensure all consumers are treated the same with regard to notification of data breaches that might cause them harm.  Such a standard would also provide consistency and certainty regarding timely notification practices, benefiting both consumers and businesses.

In order to ensure that businesses secure information appropriately, I have also advocated for uniform, reasonable security requirements to protect consumer data, based on the size and scope of the company and the sensitivity of the information. 

However, in this regard, the facts of the Equifax breach are particularly troubling.  As a credit bureau, Equifax was already subject to the Safeguards Rule under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which is considered to be a stringent regulation. 

Nevertheless, the Equifax breach occurred and its implications on American consumers appear dire.

Enhancing security and protecting the personal data of American consumers will continue to be a priority for this Committee.  I want to thank all of the witnesses for appearing here today.  I look forward to hearing your testimony. 

I will now turn to Senator Nelson for his opening remarks.   

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Good morning.  After today’s executive session, we will be holding a very important hearing focused on the Equifax and Yahoo! data breaches.  As such, I am going to keep my remarks brief so that we can turn expeditiously to that important discussion. 

But first, today’s agenda includes two legislative items and eight nominations. 

The first agenda item, Senators Portman and Blumenthal’s Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, is cosponsored by almost half of the Committee and seeks to address online sex trafficking while maintaining key operational pillars of the internet ecosystem. 

Our earlier Committee hearing on this legislation featured powerful and thoughtful testimony outlining the need for this measure, and I am pleased that the Thune-Nelson-Blumenthal Substitute we are about to consider resolved the final technical changes needed to garner the support of many stakeholders, including the Internet Association. 

Today’s eight well-qualified nominees will, if confirmed, fill a number of key vacancies including – Administrators of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Assistant Secretary positions at the Department of Transportation and Department of Commerce; and memberships on the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Amtrak Board of Directors. 

While these nominees have diverse backgrounds – including two Members of Congress; current and former members of the Armed Services; and distinguished careers in public service, academia, business, and the law – they all share the common desire to serve the American people to the best of their abilities. 

I am hopeful that these accomplishments and their shared desire to serve our nation will be considered as we advance their nominations today. 

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

Protecting Consumers in the Era of Major Data Breaches

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled “Protecting Consumers in the Era of Major Data Breaches,” at approximately 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, in room Dirksen 106. The exact start time is contingent on the conclusion of an earlier and separate Commerce Committee business meeting that will be open to the public in the same hearing room.

Executive Session

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 9:45 a.m. in Dirksen 106 to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.

Click here for additional information on nominees.

Agenda:

1.      S. 1693, Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, Sponsors: Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Shelley Capito (R-W.Va.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), along with 25 cosponsors. 

2.      S. 1668, A bill to rename a waterway in the State of New York as the “Joseph Sanford Jr. Channel”, Sponsor: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

3.      Nomination of Dana Baiocco, of Ohio, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for a term of seven years from October 27, 2017

4.      Nomination of James Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

5.       Nomination of Neil Jacobs, of North Carolina, to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce

6.       Nomination of Bruce Landsberg, of South Carolina, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board for a term expiring December 31, 2022

7.       Nomination of Raymond Martinez, of New Jersey, to be Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

8.       Nomination of Nazakhtar Nikakhtar, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce

9.       Nomination of Diana Furchtgott-Roth, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Secretary of Transportation

10.     Nomination of Leon A. Westmoreland, of Georgia, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors for a term of five years

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details: 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
9:45 a.m.
Full Committee Markup
Senate Dirksen Building 106
 
A live video of the markup and additional information will be available at www.commerce.senate.gov.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, along with Senators Baldwin and Cortez Masto for calling for this hearing today.

Mr. Chairman, this is the latest edition in a long history of hearings we’ve held in this committee to discuss data security and breaches.  Starting with the massive ChoicePoint breach in 2005, and continuing with Target, Neiman Marcus, Shapchat, Sony, Citigroup, CVS, South Shore Hospital, Heartland Payment Systems, and many, many others, the parade of high-profile data breaches seems to have no end.

Billions of consumers have had their sensitive personal data compromised, including Social Security numbers, drivers’ license numbers, addresses, and dates of birth.  For years going forward, criminals can use this data to steal the identity of innocent consumers and create fake accounts in their names and commit other types of fraud.

On top of that, we also recently found out that the 2013 Yahoo breach compromised the personal data of three billion users, making it the biggest data breach in history.  

Yet today, here we are once again dealing with the aftermath of the recent Equifax breach involving the personal information of nearly 145 million Americans. This most recent breach raises an even more troubling question. If a credit reporting agency that offers identity theft protection and credit monitoring services can’t safeguard their own data from hackers, then how can consumers trust any company to protect their information?   

Sadly, that’s a question millions of Americans are now asking themselves as they struggle to figure out how to protect themselves in the wake of these massive breaches.  This committee will, no doubt, once again, consider what it can do to make sure consumers are protected from these breaches.  But if we are going to do anything meaningful, we must have the political will to hold these corporations accountable.

Over the years, the Federal Trade Commission has brought numerous enforcement actions against companies for lax data security practices.  But industry has recently challenged the FTC’s well-established legal authority to bring such enforcement actions.  Furthermore, this piecemeal, after-the-fact approach would be better served if the FTC were able to prescribe rules that require companies to adopt reasonable security practices in the first place.  The FTC has already put forward rules that apply to financial institutions like Equifax.  The agency should have similar authority for the rest of the commercial sector.

Only stiffer enforcement and stringent penalties will help incentivize companies to properly safeguard consumer information and promptly notify them when their data has been compromised.

Mr. Chairman, I strongly believe that without rigorous data security rules in place to hold companies accountable, it’s not a question of if we will have another massive data breach, but when.  So, we can either take action to enact these common-sense rules or we can start planning for our next hearing on this issue, because it’s not going away on its own. 

 

Ranking Member Nelson Opening Statement

Mr. Chairman, we have a full agenda today, but I am pleased that the committee will be advancing the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act today.  What is happening to children and women around this country amounts to modern day slavery – and the cost of further inaction is simply too high.  These shady and highly profitable website operators know full well how their sites are being used. The bill we are moving forward today will help shut down these despicable websites that promote sexual trafficking.

Additionally, we have eight nominations before us today, some of which are controversial.

In fact, last week, we had a hearing on a NASA nominee that was as contentious as any nomination hearing this committee has had, and far more contentious than has been the case historically for a NASA administrator.

I have come to believe that the position of NASA administrator is one of the most challenging positions in the entire federal government. And it is a position where a failure of leadership can quite literally mean the difference between life and death.

The NASA administrator must be a skilled executive capable of managing a portfolio of many of the most challenging technical projects undertaken by humankind. 

The NASA administrator must have a strong scientific or technical background. And the NASA administrator must not be political. This is the point that my colleague Senator Rubio was making, when, after being asked about his concerns over the administration’s nomination of a politician to head NASA, he said “I just think it could be devastating for the space program.” And he said further “It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history.”  

Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I believe Congressman Bridenstine falls short in all three of these areas.

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

 

Committee Announces Hearing To Examine Technology in Agriculture

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, & Data Security, will convene a hearing titled “Technology in Agriculture: Data-Driven Farming,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. The hearing will examine the potential benefits of advancements in agricultural technology and the collection and utilization of data in farming.

Witnesses:

  - Dr. Shannon Ferrell, Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University
  - Mr. Todd J. Janzen, President, Janzen Agricultural Law, LLC
  - Mr. Justin Knopf, Vice President, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers
  - Mr. Jason Tatge, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Farmobile

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, & Data 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.

<p>Today, the subcommittee meets to

Today, the subcommittee meets to examine the Internet of Things.  Our discussion will focus on how to advance the availability and accessibility of these technologies in rural America.  I am glad to convene this hearing with my good friend and colleague Ranking Member Schatz.

The Internet of Things encompasses a diverse market of internet-connected devices, machines, and physical objects.  Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of physical objects like refrigerators and washing machines take on “smarter” capabilities through internet-connected sensors.  Internet connectivity enables these things to collect data and share actionable insights to consumers and businesses alike.  This information allows the user to be more productive, efficient, and cost-effective. It is changing our economy.

Beyond generating simple conveniences, Internet of Things technologies are taking on more significant and vital roles in our lives.  They are making us safer, improving our health, and opening up opportunities for economic advancement in both urban and rural communities. 

In our rural communities in particular, Internet of Things technologies, such as telemedicine, are making a big impact.  In my home state, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which is represented here today, is providing life-saving health-care services through innovative telehealth applications.  Physicians are remotely monitoring and diagnosing patients.  This remote access can offer specialty care that is not readily available in many rural communities.  

Our first responders are also using telemedicine to communicate and provide treatment in the field.  For example, first responders can consult with emergency personnel in hospitals through video applications.  This is accelerating the delivery of care and saving lives.

Underlying these IoT technologies and their economic and societal benefits are reliable broadband connections and mobile broadband services.  Internet connectivity is absolutely essential to the adoption of these technologies.  As IoT technologies become smarter and increasingly sophisticated, they will require seamless and reliable internet connectivity to achieve the promised health, safety, and economic benefits.

To that end, it is vitally important that the Federal Communications Commission take steps to ensure that the Universal Service Fund program provide adequate and predictable support to help preserve and expand broadband in rural and underserved communities.  It is also important for the Commission to collect accurate and reliable coverage data for programs, like Phase II of the Mobility Fund, before making new funding decisions.  We should ensure the delivery of essential communications services to communities in need first. 

In addition to accelerating the deployment of broadband in our rural areas, cybersecurity will be key to advancing the economic success of the Internet of Things market.  Large-scale data breaches have understandably shaken consumers’ confidence and trust.  Fortified security measures will help strengthen the United States’ leadership role and competitiveness in the IoT market around the world.

The Internet of Things marks an exciting space for digital innovation in this country.  There is significant economic potential associated with these technological developments.  Today, I look forward to learning from our witnesses about the how the IoT is bringing vital services to rural America and creating opportunities for investment, innovation, and job creation.  I welcome all the witnesses here today and thank them for their testimonies.

Advancing the Internet of Things in Rural America

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled “Advancing the Internet of Things in Rural America,” at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. The hearing will examine the use and benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) in rural communities, and the infrastructure needs necessary to advance the IoT market to ensure rural America has access to products and devices that are driving the digital economy.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Michael Adcock, Executive Director, Telehealth Center University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Miss.
  • Mr. David Armitage, Founder and CEO of Cartasite, Denver, Colo.
  • Mr. Timothy Hassinger, President and CEO, Lindsay Corporation, Omaha, Neb.
  • Mr. Michael Terzich, Chief Administrative Officer, Zebra Technologies, Lincolnshire, Ill.

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet

 

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.

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