Construction Industry News

<p>The International Space Station is

The International Space Station is the largest and most complex habitable space-based research facility ever constructed by humanity. It’s a marvel of engineering, and it’s critically important to our national space program. 

For over 17 years, the ISS has provided the United States with continuous access to low Earth orbit which has been paramount to the success of NASA, our commercial partners, scientific research, and to human space exploration.

It’s due to the significance of the ISS as a key component of our national space program that this subcommittee led the effort that extended the operation of ISS to 2024 by enacting the bipartisan U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act in 2015, which Senator Nelson and I worked on hand in hand, and which was signed into law by President Obama. 

We then followed up on that effort by once again working in a bipartisan manner, me working closely once again with Senator Nelson, in enacting the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 which was signed into law by President Trump and established the ISS Transition Principles. The purpose of the ISS Transition Principles was to create a step-wise approach to eventually transition from ISS once there is the emergence of a proven and reliable commercial alternative. 

Congress decided to take a step-wise approach due to the long history at NASA in which major programs like Constellation and the Space Shuttle have been eliminated prematurely. These decisions have had long-term repercussions at NASA, its workforce, the local communities surrounding NASA Centers, and American taxpayers who face increased replacement costs for lost capabilities. Not only was it concerning when NASA failed to deliver the ISS Transition Report to Congress before December 1, 2017 as required by federal law, but it was deeply troubling when reports leaked that some were pushing a proposal to end all federal funding of ISS in 2025.

Congress was explicitly clear in making its long-term interest in ISS known in the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017. Federal statute required the transition plan to include cost estimates for extending operations of the ISS to 2024, 2028, and 2030.

It also required an evaluation of the feasible and preferred service life of the ISS through at least 2028 as a unique scientific, commercial, and space exploration related facility.

Nowhere in federal statue is there a request from Congress seeking a hard deadline to end federal support for ISS, to cross our fingers and hope for the best. We’ve seen that act play out too many times in our national space program and it’s time we learn the lessons of history.

Prematurely canceling a program for political reasons costs jobs and wastes billions of dollars. We cannot afford to continue to pursue policies that have the consequence of creating gaps in capability, that send $3.5 billion in taxpayer money to the Russian government or create a leadership vacuum in low Earth orbit that provides a window of opportunity for the Chinese to capitalize upon. 

Let me be clear, as long as I am the chairman of the Space subcommittee, the ISS will continue to have strong support and strong bipartisan support in the United States Congress.

And as long as Article I of the Constitution remains intact, it will be Congress that is the final arbiter of how long the ISS receives federal funding. 

Commerce Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 Last year this subcommittee held a series of hearings on reopening the American frontier. We heard about the incredible new technologies and businesses that will extend human existence beyond Earth to Mars and into the solar system. Our toehold to that frontier is the International Space Station. Abandoning this incredible orbiting laboratory right when we are on the cusp of a new era of space exploration would be irresponsible at best, and possibly disastrous.

It’s pretty clear that the proposal to end funding for the ISS by 2025 was not a NASA decision - it was a political decision. As far as this committee is concerned, that proposal is dead on arrival. Democrats, Republicans, industry, academia and even NASA – everyone except the White House has agreed that focusing on a random date is the wrong way to approach a transition from the ISS. 

I look forward to the day when low Earth orbit is filled with commercial space stations and other platforms used by NASA, but also by non-government customers. And I think we will get there. 

But it’s not fair to NASA or to industry to force a transition based on an arbitrary date. That decision should be based on factors like NASA’s research requirements and the readiness of industry to take the lead. We need to listen to our scientists and the experts at NASA. They have made it clear that NASA will continue to need access to low Earth orbit for astronaut training, technology development and research.

Today we have skilled people at Kennedy Space Center, and at Johnson Space Center in Texas, Mr. Chairman, working on the ISS and on commercial crew and cargo. These are some of the only people in the world who know how to keep people alive in space. If this plan to prematurely end the current ISS program moves forward, I fear that NASA’s expertise in these critical areas – expertise that we’ll need to get to Mars – will be lost.

The good news is that NASA’s ISS transition report indicates that the space station has plenty of operational life left – through the end of 2028 and probably even beyond. We have time to continue the critical research taking place on station. We have time to keep training astronauts to live and work in space as they prepare for long duration missions. And we have time to develop a robust commercial market in low Earth orbit. 

NASA should be focused like a laser on getting commercial crew up and running so that American astronauts are once again launching to station from Cape Canaveral. 

Once Boeing and SpaceX are regularly transporting crew, the ISS will enter a golden era and we will see just how valuable this research platform is.  

It makes good business sense to take full advantage of our investment in the ISS, just as it’s commonsense to maintain our nation’s leadership in ambitious space endeavors. The ISS is an unprecedented accomplishment that continues to serve humanity and maintain the United States’ global leadership in space. I appreciate your commitment to this issue Mr. Chairman and I look forward to this discussion. Thank you.   

<p>Good afternoon.&nbsp; And welcome to

Good afternoon.  And welcome to all of you.  Today the Subcommittee meets to examine the state of the app economy and trends in mobile technologies.  I am glad to convene this hearing with my good friend and colleague Ranking Member Schatz.

Over the past several weeks, consumer interactions with mobile apps and the information these apps collect about Americans has dominated news reports. This hearing is an opportunity to take the broader look at the app industry and to understand its contributions to our economy in creating jobs, driving investment, and fostering innovation.  It is also an opportunity to discuss emerging trends within apps, such as virtual reality and AI apps.  In addition, I hope we will examine policy issues related to broadband infrastructure, data privacy, workforce development, and other considerations important to the continued growth of the app economy.

Proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices has created an exciting market of mobile applications.  Mobile apps allow consumers to access virtually anything at their fingertips. Consumers can watch TV, deposit checks at the bank, control the lighting and security within their homes, start their cars, or connect with a loved one face-to-face all through the touch of an app. 

In a short period of time, a large economy has developed around the app industry.  It has become a robust platform for job creation, investment, innovation, competition, and new opportunities for American enterprise.  Increasingly, consumers and businesses are turning to apps not just for entertainment, but also for efficiency, convenience, productivity, and cost savings. Mississippi farmers, for example, are using apps for precision agriculture technologies. Apps allow them to monitor the health of their crops and the welfare of their livestock remotely.  This helps farmers accurately predict agricultural yields, cutting down costs and increasing productivity. Mississippians are also using apps to access telemedicine services. Apps can provide patients with immediate access to medical professionals or other health-related services that are not readily available in their neighborhoods or communities. This technology helps improve patient outcomes and saves lives.

At the foundation of the app industry’s success is a reliable broadband network.  Significant investments in broadband networks have enabled many of the innovative apps consumers enjoy today. Next-generation communication networks, such as 5G, promise even greater app capabilities.  We need to ensure that reliable, broadband networks are available to all Americans, whether that is through private investment or dedicated government programs, like Phase II of the Mobility Fund.  Broadband offers immediate access to economic opportunities and other resources that have been shifting to the online marketplace.

In addition to prioritizing the deployment of broadband infrastructure, workforce development is critical to growing the app economy.  Maintaining a trained and skilled workforce will help meet industry needs and ensure that the United States remains a leader in the global digital economy.  I am grateful to have Mr. Forster here today representing Innovate Mississippi and the Mississippi Coding Academies.  I look forward to hearing more about his work to train the next generation of workers in Mississippi and across the country.

In the last decade, the app economy has clearly brought value to consumers and businesses.  It promises to continue delivering this value as apps increase in personalization and utility for users while adequately safeguarding consumer data.  To that end, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about how to preserve the many economic and societal benefits of mobile applications now and in the years to come.   

Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Administration Perspectives

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled “Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Administration Perspectives,” at 2:30 p.m. on May 16, 2018. The first in a series of two hearings to examine the role of the International Space Station (ISS), this hearing will provide an opportunity to discuss the value of the ISS to our national space program and the future of human space exploration.  

Witnesses:

  • Mr. William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • The Honorable Paul K. Martin, Inspector General, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, May 16, 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.

Opening Statement

Good afternoon.  And welcome to all of you.  Today the Subcommittee meets to examine the state of the app economy and trends in mobile technologies.  I am glad to convene this hearing with my good friend and colleague Ranking Member Schatz.

Over the past several weeks, consumer interactions with mobile apps and the information these apps collect about Americans has dominated news reports. This hearing is an opportunity to take the broader look at the app industry and to understand its contributions to our economy in creating jobs, driving investment, and fostering innovation.  It is also an opportunity to discuss emerging trends within apps, such as virtual reality and AI apps.  In addition, I hope we will examine policy issues related to broadband infrastructure, data privacy, workforce development, and other considerations important to the continued growth of the app economy.

Proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices has created an exciting market of mobile applications.  Mobile apps allow consumers to access virtually anything at their fingertips. Consumers can watch TV, deposit checks at the bank, control the lighting and security within their homes, start their cars, or connect with a loved one face-to-face all through the touch of an app. 

In a short period of time, a large economy has developed around the app industry.  It has become a robust platform for job creation, investment, innovation, competition, and new opportunities for American enterprise.  Increasingly, consumers and businesses are turning to apps not just for entertainment, but also for efficiency, convenience, productivity, and cost savings. Mississippi farmers, for example, are using apps for precision agriculture technologies. Apps allow them to monitor the health of their crops and the welfare of their livestock remotely.  This helps farmers accurately predict agricultural yields, cutting down costs and increasing productivity. Mississippians are also using apps to access telemedicine services. Apps can provide patients with immediate access to medical professionals or other health-related services that are not readily available in their neighborhoods or communities. This technology helps improve patient outcomes and saves lives.

At the foundation of the app industry’s success is a reliable broadband network.  Significant investments in broadband networks have enabled many of the innovative apps consumers enjoy today. Next-generation communication networks, such as 5G, promise even greater app capabilities.  We need to ensure that reliable, broadband networks are available to all Americans, whether that is through private investment or dedicated government programs, like Phase II of the Mobility Fund.  Broadband offers immediate access to economic opportunities and other resources that have been shifting to the online marketplace.

In addition to prioritizing the deployment of broadband infrastructure, workforce development is critical to growing the app economy.  Maintaining a trained and skilled workforce will help meet industry needs and ensure that the United States remains a leader in the global digital economy.  I am grateful to have Mr. Forster here today representing Innovate Mississippi and the Mississippi Coding Academies.  I look forward to hearing more about his work to train the next generation of workers in Mississippi and across the country.

In the last decade, the app economy has clearly brought value to consumers and businesses.  It promises to continue delivering this value as apps increase in personalization and utility for users while adequately safeguarding consumer data.  To that end, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about how to preserve the many economic and societal benefits of mobile applications now and in the years to come.   

There’s an App for That: Trends in Mobile Technologies

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled “There’s an App for That: Trends in Mobile Technologies,” at 2:30 p.m. on May 15, 2018. The hearing will examine the state of the mobile app economy and its role in fostering job creation, e-commerce, innovation, and technology investment in the United States, and how apps are disrupting traditional business models and evolving in their sophistication and utility for consumers and businesses. Additionally, the hearing will explore ways to improve mobile broadband connectivity and how to address policy issues to support the continued growth and prosperity of the app economy.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Mike Forster, Chairman, Innovate Mississippi and Founder, Mississippi Coding Academies
  • Dr. Sarah Oh, Research Fellow, Technology Policy Institute
  • Mr. Morgan Reed, President, ACT – The App Association

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
2:30 p.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.

Commerce Ranking Member Bill Nelson

The app economy is not just about Silicon Valley.  The level playing field of the internet has enabled growth and success for businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the country, including in my home state of Florida. 

And while these apps now contribute billions to the economy, it’s important to recognize that developers also are tackling significant social issues in the country.  Several companies are working on ways to address issues surrounding climate change and sea-level rise.  And others have developed apps to help keep our children safe – this is especially important given the recent tragic spate of school shootings.

Joining us at this hearing today is Mr. Roger Koch, the CEO of Shield Group Technologies.  Shield Group is headquartered in West Palm Beach and has focused on the development of apps to improve communication between citizens and law enforcement.  In particular, the company has developed StudentProtect to allow students and faculty to contact law enforcement about threats, including providing precise information about the location of the threat. Given the Parkland tragedy, I’d like to learn more about StudentProtect and how it can help law enforcement receive information about school threats.  

More broadly, we need to focus on making sure American workers have the right skills to participate in this part of the economy and push its success forward.  

And colleges and universities throughout Florida have stepped up to the plate.  From Florida Atlantic University – with its Tech Runway – to Florida Polytechnic University and the University of South Florida, our institutions of higher education are training the coders and entrepreneurs that will be designing the next wave of apps. 

Switching gears a bit, tomorrow, the Senate will vote on a resolution to restore strong net neutrality protections enforced by the FCC.  I will have more to say on this on the floor, but I wanted to state clearly and forcefully that I believe we would not have the app economy we have today without robust net neutrality.  

Repeal of these protections by the Republican FCC last December was a mistake.  The end of net neutrality is now less than a month away – we must stand with American consumers and restore these essential protections.

15 Deaths, 278 Injuries Linked to Takata Airbags in U.S. States And Territories

Top five include Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, California and Georgia...

Committee Announces Hearing for Presidential Nominees

WASHINGTON – 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 threepresidential 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.

VIDEO: Thune on the Importance of Bipartisan Net Neutrality Legislation

“There is widespread agreement among senators in both parties that we need to maintain a free and open internet. And there is widespread agreement among both parties that we need net neutrality legislation.”...

Subcommittee Hearing to Examine the Future of 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 titled “Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Administration Perspectives,” at 2:30 p.m. on May 16, 2018. The first in a series of two hearings to examine the role of the International Space Station (ISS), this hearing will provide an opportunity to discuss the value of the ISS to our national space program and the future of human space exploration.  

Witnesses:

  • Mr. William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • The Honorable Paul K. Martin, Inspector General, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, May 16, 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 Hearing to Examine the App Economy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled “There’s an App for That: Trends in Mobile Technologies,” at 2:30 p.m. on May 15, 2018. The hearing will examine the state of the mobile app economy and its role in fostering job creation, e-commerce, innovation, and technology investment in the United States, and how apps are disrupting traditional business models and evolving in their sophistication and utility for consumers and businesses. Additionally, the hearing will explore ways to improve mobile broadband connectivity and how to address policy issues to support the continued growth and prosperity of the app economy.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Mike Forster, Chairman, Innovate Mississippi and Founder, Mississippi Coding Academies
  • Dr. Sarah Oh, Research Fellow, Technology Policy Institute
  • Mr. Morgan Reed, President, ACT – The App Association

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
2:30 p.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.

<p>Good morning.&nbsp; Thank you to

Good morning.  Thank you to each of our witnesses for being with us today to discuss Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or what most refer to as drones. 

The Commerce Committee overall understands the importance of technology.  We have learned through our hearings, meetings, watching or reading news through the many variety of today’s sources, and our own activities daily, that technology plays a central and critical role in our society. 

Keeping pace with innovation and technology, as well as the challenges, includes the space of drones. 

While the benefits of drone technology are pretty clear, how are we keeping pace as technology and innovation advances more rapidly?  

Are we identifying and working through the challenges as fast as the technology evolves?

Are we working to ensure that regulations are balanced to ensure that innovation and growth continues, but public safety is at the forefront?

At one point, many thought of drones as either a hobbyist’s tool for capturing images or as a sophisticated military technology.  We know that drone technologies are improving at a rapid pace.  Today, we have big tech companies investigating and investing in future drone-delivery services, drones are putting on light shows at events, precision agriculture is aided by drone use, and drones are putting eyes in places difficult for people to get to so safety checks can occur more frequently. 

Drones have multiple applications which I am confident we will hear about today. 

The 2017 World Civil Unmanned Aerial Systems Market Profile & Forecast says the value of drone activity rose from $40 million in 2012 to about $1 billion in 2017.  By 2026, they estimate that both corporate and consumer applications of commercial drones will have an annual impact of $31 billion to $46 billion on the country’s GDP.

According to an article I read in the Wall Street Journal, the FAA has increased its projections for commercial drone pilots to more than 300,000 by 2022.

Anticipating the need for a skilled workforce related to drones and drone technologies, Southeast Missouri State University has a Bachelor of Science program in unmanned aircraft systems where students will learn the fundamentals of the machines, but also maintenance, customization, acquisition and commercial use. 

I know my friend from Kansas, Senator Moran, is likely aware of the drone-related programs at Kansas State Polytechnic University and Senator Cantwell of the drone-related programs at Green River College in Washington.  A number of my colleagues on this subcommittee have institutions of higher education that have accredited drone programs, drone research activities, and active student groups involved with drones.

The new drone programs at schools across the country are a clear indication of the future growth of this industry.

While the industry, and the technology and innovation related to it, is growing, it is not surprising that we are grappling with regulatory issues related to drones—we would with any innovation that has implications for public safety.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at a drone conference last year said, “The integration of drones into our national airspace will be the biggest technological challenge to aviation since the beginning of the Jet Age….Our job is to prepare the way for new technology, so it can be deployed safely and usher in a new era aviation service, accessibility and ingenuity.”

For this reason, the members of this subcommittee are here to listen, learn, ask questions, and figure out how Congress can help the FAA safely advance in a way that manned aircraft, commercial drone operators, and hobbyists all operate safely and together.

Keeping Pace with Innovation – Update on the Safe Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the Airspace

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, will convene a hearing titled “Keeping Pace with Innovation – Update on the Safe Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the Airspace,” at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. The hearing will provide a status update on efforts to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system without compromising safety.   

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Earl Lawrence, Director, Office of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Federal Aviation Administration
  • Mr. Brian Wynne, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
  • Mr. Matthew S. Zuccaro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Helicopter Association International
  • Mr. Todd Graetz, Director of Technology Services, BNSF Railway Co.

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, 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.

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