Construction Industry News

Subcommittee to Hold Second Hearing Examining the International Space Station

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness will convene a hearing entitled “Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Stakeholder Perspectives,” at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The second in a series of hearings to examine the role of the International Space Station (ISS), this hearing will provide ISS stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the value of the ISS to our national space program and the future of human space exploration.

Witnesses:

  • The Honorable Mitch Daniels, President, Purdue University
  • Ms. Cynthia Bouthot, Director of Commercial Innovation & Sponsored Programs, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space
  • Mr. Jim Chilton, Senior Vice President, Space and Launch, The Boeing Company
  • Mr. Bob Mitchell, President, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
  • Mr. Michael Suffredini, Chief Executive Officer and President, Axiom Space

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details: 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness 

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.

Subcommittee to Hold Hearing Examining the Digital Coast Partnership

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene a hearing entitled “A Decade of the Digital Coast Partnership Program: Successes and Opportunities,” at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The hearing will examine how partners and stakeholders contribute to and use the Digital Coast, a NOAA-sponsored partnership focused on helping communities address coastal management issues through data, tools, and training.  

Witnesses:

  • Ms. Nicole LeBoeuf, Deputy Assistant Administrator for National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Mr. Paul Barnes, Geographic Information Systems Director, Harrison County, Miss.
  • Mr. Tyson Fettes, Register of Deeds, Racine County, Wis.
  • Mr. David Millar, Government Accounts Director Americas, Fugro

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
10:00 a.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.

Subcommittee to Hold Hearing Examining Past Safety Practices for Olympians and Amateur Athletes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a hearing entitled “Preventing Abuse in Olympic and Amateur Athletics: Ensuring a Safe and Secure Environment for Our Athletes,” at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. The hearing will focus on how past processes to protect our Olympic athletes from abuse have failed to keep athletes safe and explore current efforts to provide a safe environment for amateur athletes.

Witnesses:

  • Ms. Rhonda Faehn, former Women’s Program Director, USA Gymnastics
  • Mr. Steve Penny, former President, USA Gymnastics
  • Ms. Lou Anna Simon, former President, Michigan State University

*Witness list subject to change. 

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
3:00 p.m.
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and 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.

Thune Statement on Apple iPhone 6 Battery Replacement Credit

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on today’s announcement by Apple to offer a $50 credit to customers who purchased an iPhone 6 battery replacement between January 1, 2017, and December 28, 2017:

“Apple’s announcement of a $50 credit for 2017 battery replacements effectively addresses an issue I raised after the company acknowledged it had taken steps to slow the processing performance of the iPhone 6. Full transparency about actions that could degrade the performance of a purchase is especially critical when it involves changes to complicated technology that might not be readily apparent to consumers.”

On January 9, 2018, Sen. Thune wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook asking a series of questions about revelations of a software update which slowed the processing performance of some phones with older batteries, including whether consumers who had paid for a full-price replacement battery in an effort to restore performance should receive a rebate. On February 2, 2018, Apple responded to Sen. Thune’s letter noting that it was exploring potential rebates for customers who had purchased battery replacements before it announced a discounted battery replacement offer.

Nelson Statement on the NTSB’s Release of its Preliminary Report on the FIU Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) issued the following statement this morning in response to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) release of its preliminary report on the March collapse of the pedestrian bridge at Florida International University.  Click here to read the NTSB’s preliminary report.

“While we still don’t know the ultimate cause of the bridge collapse, it’s reassuring that the NTSB is already laser-focused on the emergence of cracks on the structure,” said Nelson, who serves as the ranking Democrat of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the NTSB.  “The victims’ families and the public expect nothing less than a thorough examination of this tragic event to prevent it from ever happening again.”

<p>Good morning. Thank you all for

Good morning. Thank you all for being here for what should be another very quick markup, as I know many of you have to be at the EPW, Banking, or SASC markups, which are also occurring this morning.

We’ll start by considering two well qualified nominees – one to the Amtrak Board of Directors and the other to the National Transportation Safety Board – as well as over 250 Coast Guard promotions.

It is my hope that all of these nominations and confirmations will be considered on the floor expeditiously.

Legislatively, we will consider five measures today, including two focused on the ongoing opioid crisis.

It comes as no surprise to anyone here today that we are in the midst of an opioid abuse epidemic in this country. In 2016 alone, more than 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses.

Widespread abuse affects all industries, and transportation is no exception.

That is why the first item on today’s agenda, which I recently introduced, focuses on the transportation industry.

The Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act seeks to improve drug and alcohol testing requirements for workers performing safety-critical functions across the nation’s transportation network.

Additionally, the bill closes loopholes by expanding mandatory random drug testing requirements to both rail mechanical employees and yardmasters.

In a letter of support for the bill, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt stated that this change, if enacted, has “great potential to save lives and avoid injuries.”

The bill would also: expand the Department of Transportation drug testing panel to include fentanyl; improve transparency of drug testing data; and speed the adoption of testing methodology improvements.

The second item on today’s agenda, the Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018, sponsored by Senators Capito and Cortez Masto, focuses on weeding out bogus opioid treatment programs and products.

Given the physical, emotional, and financial challenges many face when deciding even to seek treatment, ensuring the resources they find are legitimate is critically important.

Their legislation would prohibit the marketing of bogus opioid treatment programs and products and provide additional tools to the Federal Trade Commission and states to enforce against these practices.

Other Committees in the Senate – including the Finance and HELP Committees – are also working on other legislative initiatives designed to tackle the opioid crisis, and I am hopeful today’s bills can eventually be considered along with them by the full Senate.

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

Controversial Consumer Product Safety Commission Nominee Narrowly Approved by the Senate

By a vote of 50-45, the U.S. Senate today narrowly confirmed the nomination of Dana Baiocco to serve on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The move is seen as a win for corporate America and a loss for consumers.

Among those leading the charge against Baiocco’s nomination was Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the CPSC.  Nelson’s opposition to Baiocco’s nomination hinged on her refusal to require portable generators be equipped with devices that limit carbon monoxide emissions or automatically shut off the machines when they reach dangerous levels.

The commission, which regulates the safety of thousands of products, from children’s toys to portable generators, is viewed as one of the nation’s top consumer watchdog agencies. 

In a floor speech moments before the vote, Nelson said carbon monoxide poisonings from generators were linked to as many as 12 deaths and numerous injuries in Florida following Hurricane Irma.

“Hurricane season begins on June 1st and every day the CPSC fails to act on portable generators equals more Floridians and other Gulf Coast residents at risk,” said Nelson.  “Sadly, it seems with the administration’s recent appointments to the CPSC, the commission could soon become known as the ‘Commission to Protect Shareholders and Companies.’”

Baiocco, a lawyer at powerful corporate lobbying and litigation giant Jones Day, was nominated by President Trump to serve on the CPSC last September.  Her nomination has in-part come under fire due to her refusal to disclose clients she’s represented or fully recuse herself from matters involving those companies.  Previous news reports indicate she has defended a number of manufacturers with interests before the CPSC, including cases involving toys with lead paint and ATVs linked to numerous rollover-related injuries and deaths.

Committee Approves Five Bills, Two Nominees, and Coast Guard Promotions

WASHINGTON – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today, approved five bills and two nominees subject to Senate confirmation, and Coast Guard promotions.

Bill and Nominations considered are as follows (all approved by voice vote):

1.    S. 2848, Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

         a. Thune Substitute (modified)

2.    S. 2842, Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)

         a. Capito 1

3.    S. 2844, STB Information Security Improvement Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

4.    S. 2764, Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

5.    S. 2418, Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) 

         a. Hassan Substitute

6.    Nomination of Joseph Ryan Gruters, of Florida, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors

7.    Nomination of Jennifer L. Homendy, of Virginia, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board

8.    Coast Guard Promotions

Executive Session

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Tuesday, May 22 at 10:00 a.m. to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.

Click here for additional information on nominees.

Agenda:

1.    S. 2848, Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

2.    S. 2842, Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)

3.    S. 2844, STB Information Security Improvement Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

4.    S. 2764, Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

5.    S. 1092, Interstate Transport Act of 2017, Sponsor: Sen. Mike Enzie (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

6.    S. 2418, Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.)

7.    Nomination of Heidi R. King, of California, to be Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

8.    Nomination of Joseph Ryan Gruters, of Florida, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors

9.    Nomination of Jennifer L. Homendy, of Virginia, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board

10.  Coast Guard Promotions

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
10:00 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 Votes to Restore Net Neutrality

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted 52 to 47 to restore Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules prohibiting internet service providers from blocking or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps.   

The measure, supported by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, was backed by all 47 Democratic senators, along with three Republicans and the chamber’s two Independents. 

The rules, known as net neutrality, were initially adopted by the FCC under the Obama administration but were repealed by the newly Republican-controlled commission in the aftermath of President Trump’s election. 

The resolution approved by the Senate would reverse the FCC’s rollback of the rules, which are set to expire on June 11.  

“The American public understands how important these protections are to their lives and the future of the internet,” Nelson said on the senate floor before the vote.  “They do not want to have their websites blocked or internet accessed slowed.  And, they certainly don’t want their internet providers making those decisions.”

The vote is seen as a victory for consumer groups and small businesses that argued that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality would ultimately result in internet service providers charging extra to access some online content or have websites load faster.  

The resolution now heads to the House of Representatives. 

Thune Statement on Senate Democrats’ Objection to Bipartisan Net Neutrality Legislation, Vote on Markey CRA Resolution

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’s 52-47 vote to approve the S.J.Res. 52, a resolution offered under the rules of the Congressional Review Act to reverse changes to internet rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in December 2017.

“This vote was about politics, not protecting net neutrality. Unfortunately, it’s only going to delay Senate Democrats from coming to the table and negotiating bipartisan net neutrality legislation,” said Thune.

“Today, I made a motion to put this resolution aside and take up a draft of net neutrality protection legislation, first floated in 2015, as a starting point for amendment and discussion. I’m disappointed but not surprised that Democrats rejected my offer to write, consider, and amend legislation in a process open to ideas from both sides of the aisle. Despite this vote, I remain committed to finding a path to bipartisan protections for the internet and stand ready to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle when they are ready as well.”

On the Senate floor, Thune proposed that S.J.Res. 52 be set aside and the Senate instead take up for amendment and consideration a draft he first put forward in 2015 with House of Representatives colleagues Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.). The objection to beginning work on bipartisan legislation came from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the sponsor of S.J.Res. 52.

Click here to watch Sen. Thune’s floor speech on the need for bipartisan net neutrality legislation. His motion, and the objection from Sen. Markey, occur at the end of the floor speech.

Commerce Announces Markup on May 22

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Tuesday, May 22 at 10:00 a.m. to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.

Click here for additional information on nominees.

Agenda:

1.    S. 2848, Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

2.    S. 2842, Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)

3.    S. 2844, STB Information Security Improvement Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

4.    S. 2764, Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

5.    S. 1092, Interstate Transport Act of 2017, Sponsor: Sen. Mike Enzie (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

6.    S. 2418, Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2018, Sponsors: Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.)

7.    Nomination of Heidi R. King, of California, to be Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

8.    Nomination of Joseph Ryan Gruters, of Florida, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors

9.    Nomination of Jennifer L. Homendy, of Virginia, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board

10.  Coast Guard Promotions

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
10:00 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

Nominations Hearing

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, to consider three presidential nominees. 

Completed nomination questionnaires are available at www.commerce.senate.gov/nominations

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Joseph Gruters, of Florida, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
  • Ms. Jennifer Homendy, of Virginia, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
  • Ms. Heidi King, of California, to be Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, May 16, 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.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

The three nominees before the committee today have been nominated for positions critical to safety, on the roads, the rails and in the sky.

Ms. Heidi King has been nominated to serve as the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

NHTSA needs to be on the front lines of detecting serious vehicle safety defects and issuing recalls.

And this, quite frankly, is an area where NHTSA has failed.

For years, NHTSA has struggled with the Takata airbag inflator recalls.

Recall completion rates have lagged, and the death and injury toll continues to rise – particularly in my home state of Florida.

During today’s hearing, I hope Ms. King will provide a detailed plan on how she will demand accountability from those involved in the Takata fiasco and finally implement a real strategy to help drivers get safe airbags in their vehicles as soon as possible.

NHTSA also needs to do more to increase highway safety, including truck safety. 

One way to do this is to have more use of underride guards on trucks so that cars don’t slide underneath during collisions. 

The addition of this safety shield could have helped saved the lives of many, including Lois Durso’s daughter Roya. Lois is here today, along with other tireless advocates.

And I hope Ms. King has some answers for the Durso family on that issue.  They certainly deserve it.  

The National Transportation Safety Board is another very important independent agency that investigates transportation accidents and promotes safety. 

Unfortunately, tragic accidents happen.  We know this all too well in my home state of Florida. 

Whether it was the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship, the collapse of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge or the recent Tesla crash, families of victims rely on the board to thoroughly investigate these accidents. 

Ms. Homendy, if you are confirmed, and I certainly hope you are, we will rely on you.  

Finally, Representative Gruters, I hope you agree with that it is critically important to Florida that Amtrak continues to be a strong and safe agency. 

For example, Florida relies on having reliable, on-time long-distance service to the state. Currently, many towns along the Gulf Coast are working to restore Amtrak service that was stopped after Hurricane Katrina.  

Following several deadly accidents over the last few years, safety must also be a top priority at Amtrak.  

Mr. Chairman, thank you again for holding this hearing. I now look forward to hearing from the witnesses.

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