Construction Industry News

Senate Ranking Members Urge DOJ to Restore Information Access for Minority Committee Leaders

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, led Senate committee ranking members in a letter to U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Merrick Garland imploring the DOJ to rescind the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) 2017 opinion, which advises departments and agencies that they can ignore document requests from minority leadership of congressional committees.

“The opinion creates insurmountable challenges for ranking members in conducting effective oversight. To restore the balance of information access between majority and minority leadership on committees, and as proponents of fair, transparent government, we implore the Justice Department to take action,” the ranking members wrote.

Members who joined Wicker in the letter include: Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee; Tim Scott, R-S.C., ranking member of the Special Committee on Aging; John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member of the Agriculture Committee; Richard Shelby, R-Ala., vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee; James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Armed Services Committee; Pat Toomey, R-Pa., ranking member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., ranking member of the Budget Committee; John Barrasso, R-Wyo., ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, ranking member of the Finance Committee; James Risch, R-Idaho, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee; Richard Burr, R-N.C., ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; Rob Portman, R-Ohio, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member of the Indian Affairs Committee; Marco Rubio, R-Fla., vice-chair of the Intelligence Committee; Roy Blunt, R-Mo., ranking member of the Rules Committee; Rand Paul, R-Ky., ranking member of the Small Business Committee; and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Excerpt from the letter:

The OLC released an opinion on May 1, 2017 about the authority of individual Members of Congress to engage in oversight of the Executive Branch. It concluded that “[i]ndividual members of Congress, including ranking minority members, do not have the authority to conduct oversight in the absence of a specific delegation by a full house, committee, or subcommittee.” Not only does this opinion misinterpret the constitutional responsibilities of Congress for monitoring the activities of the Executive Branch but it fails to provide clarity on whether those same limitations apply to information requests made to Offices of Inspectors General (OIG).

The OLC opinion, which advises departments and agencies that they can ignore requests from Ranking Members, is based on grounds unsupported by the Constitution. Instead of respecting the separation of powers, the opinion ignores that our system of government vests Congress with all legislative responsibilities. Recognizing the importance of broad congressional access to information about activities in the Executive Branch, the Supreme Court acknowledged that “the power of inquiry is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.” Unfortunately, the opinion authored by then-Acting Assistant Attorney General Curtis E. Cannon inhibits Congress from fulfilling its duty of overseeing the programs it legislates into law, specifically by treating Ranking Members of congressional committees no differently than private citizens.

Click here to read the full letter.  

Alongside the EPA, DOD, and DHS, GSA Announces New Actions to Reduce Emissions of Super-Polluting Hydrofluorocarbons 

GSA news releases - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 12:00am
These Efforts Aim to Bolster Competitiveness of Domestic Industries and Reduce Climate Pollution   WASHINGTON — Today, the Biden Administration announced a historic set of actions across the federal government to phase down super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are man-made climate...

Committee Approves Biden Nominations for CPSC, DOC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the following three nominations, all of whom are now subject to approval by the full Senate.

  1. Nomination of Alexander Hoehn-Saric, to be a Commissioner and Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission

 

  1. Nomination of Grant Harris, to be Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis, Department of Commerce

 

  1. Nomination of Richard Trumka Jr. to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission 

Executive Session

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 to consider the presidential nominations of Alexander Hoehn-Saric to be a Commissioner and Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); Mary T. Boyle to be a Commissioner of the CPSC; Richard Trumka, Jr. to be a Commissioner of the CPSC; and Grant Harris to be Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis at the Department of Commerce.

Immediately following the executive session, the Committee will hold a hearing to consider the presidential nominations of Victoria Marie Baecher Wassmer, to be Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Transportation (DOT); Mohsin Raza Syed, to be Assistant Secretary of Government Affairs at DOT; Amitabha Bose, to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; and Meera Joshi, to be Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

DETAILS

 

Commerce Committee Executive Session

10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Committee Hearing Room, Russell 253

 

Executive Session Agenda: 

  • Nomination of Alexander Hoehn-Saric, to be a Commissioner and Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Nomination of Mary T. Boyle, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Richard Trumka Jr., to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission  
  • Grant Harris, to be Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis, Department of Commerce

At the conclusion of the markup, the Committee will go directly into the nomination hearing.

Nominees: 

  • Victoria Marie Baecher Wassmer,?to be Chief Financial Officer, DOT
  • Mohsin Raza Syed, to be Assistant Secretary of Government Affairs, DOT
  • Amitabha Bose, to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, DOT
  • Meera Joshi, to be Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 

 

WATCH LIVESTREAM:  www.commerce.senate.gov

 

Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream. Social distancing is now lifted for vaccinated members of the press who wish to attend. The Office of the Attending Physician recommends that all individuals wear masks while in interior spaces and other individuals are present.

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Legislative Solutions to Revive Travel and Tourism and Create Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chair of the Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion will convene a hearing titled “Legislative Solutions to Revive Travel and Tourism and Create Jobs” at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. This hearing will examine a staff discussion draft of bipartisan legislation, the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act of 2021, that would support the recovery of the travel and tourism economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act includes provisions to study the impacts of COVD-19 on the travel and tourism industry, elevate travel and tourism matters at the US Department of Commerce, promote travel to the United States, and set visitation goals for international travelers to the United States.

  

Witnesses: 

 

  • Ms. Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, U.S. Travel Association
  • Mr. Christopher Bidwell, Senior Vice President of Security, Airports Council International – North America
  • Mr. Chirag Shah, Senior Vice President of Federal Affairs, American Hotel and Lodging Association
  • Ms. Suzanne Neufang, CEO, Global Business Travel Association

 

*Witness List is Subject to Change 

Hearing Details: 

 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

3:00 P.M. EDT 

Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion

Senate Commerce Committee Hearing Room

Russell 253

 

Livestream available at www.commerce.senate.gov

 

Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream. Social distancing is now lifted for vaccinated members of the press who wish to attend. The Office of the Attending Physician recommends that all individuals wear masks while in interior spaces and other individuals are present. 

 

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Commerce Committee Announces Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion Subcommittee Hearing on September 21, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chair of the Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion will convene a hearing titled “Legislative Solutions to Revive Travel and Tourism and Create Jobs” at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. This hearing will examine a staff discussion draft of bipartisan legislation, the Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act of 2021, that would support the recovery of the travel and tourism economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act includes provisions to study the impacts of COVD-19 on the travel and tourism industry, elevate travel and tourism matters at the US Department of Commerce, promote travel to the United States, and set visitation goals for international travelers to the United States.

  

Witnesses: 

 

  • Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, U.S. Travel Association
  • Christopher Bidwell, Senior Vice President of Security, Airports Council International – North America
  • Chirag Shah, Senior Vice President of Federal Affairs, American Hotel and Lodging Association
  • Suzanne Neufang, CEO, Global Business Travel Association

 

*Witness List is Subject to Change 

Hearing Details: 

 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

3:00 P.M. EDT 

Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion

Senate Commerce Committee Hearing Room

Russell 253

 

Livestream available at www.commerce.senate.gov

 

Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream. Social distancing is now lifted for vaccinated members of the press who wish to attend. The Office of the Attending Physician recommends that all individuals wear masks while in interior spaces and other individuals are present. 

 

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During Climate Week NYC, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan and CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory Discuss the Transition to a Zero-Emission Federal Fleet

GSA news releases - Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON — Today, as a part of Climate Week NYC, General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Robin Carnahan and White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory discussed moving to a zero-emission federal fleet in a fireside chat hosted by RouteZero and The...

Wicker, Cardin Introduce Bill to Support Maritime Workforce

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., today introduced the Maritime Technological Advancement Act. The legislation would establish a grant program to develop, offer, or improve educational or career training programs for American workers in the maritime workforce. 

“A qualified maritime workforce is essential for our national security and economic prosperity,” said Wicker. “However, there is currently a shortage of licensed workers with the appropriate training and technical skills to meet the needs of this growing industry. Our proposal would support community and technical colleges in developing a capable workforce to address operations at sea and ashore, as well as in shipbuilding, port operations, and cybersecurity.”

“From the dedicated public servants at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore that repair and rehabilitate our Coast Guard fleet, to the longshoremen and logistic personnel who transport billions of dollars of international cargo, Maryland’s maritime industries surrounding the Port of Baltimore are key components of the economic growth of our state,” said Cardin. “This legislation provides funding to strengthen our local institutions that have track records of success in developing the skilled maritime workforce necessary to maintain and strengthen this critical industry.”

The Maritime Technological Advancement Act would: 

  • Authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration to provide funding for two-year public institutions of higher education to develop, offer, or improve educational or career training programs for workers related to the maritime workforce along the nation’s coasts, Mississippi River System, the Great Lakes, and other inland waterways; 
  • Support initiatives to expand an institution’s capacity to train the maritime workforce; and
  • Authorize appropriations of $40 million annually for fiscal year 2022 through 2026.

Click here to read the bill.

Cantwell, Durbin Call on DOJ, FAA to Toughen Actions Against Dangerous Airline Passengers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Richard Durbin, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee today sent separate letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Steve Dickson regarding increased incidents involving dangerous airline passengers.  The senators called on the agencies to coordinate efforts to ensure that those airline passengers who commit criminal acts are prosecuted. 

 

“Civil penalties alone are failing to deter criminal activity by airline passengers,” Sens. Cantwell and Durbin wrote to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “Robust and public efforts to prosecute those who endanger passengers and crewmembers are necessary to deter interference with safe air travel.  The FAA plays a critical role in investigating and referring criminal incidents to federal law enforcement authorities.”

 

As of September 14, 2021, there have been 4,284 reports of unruly passenger incidents this year—3,123 of which were mask-related.  Additionally, the FAA has initiated 755 investigations into unruly passengers, which is more than double the investigations for 2019 and 2020 combined.  The FAA has initiated enforcement actions in 154 cases, levying more than one million dollars in fines.

 

“As you know, DOJ has ample authority to prosecute those who commit crimes while onboard an aircraft,” the senators wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “It is critical that DOJ direct federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors to use these authorities to fully investigate reported incidents on aircraft, and, when supported by the evidence, prosecute those who are criminally responsible.”

 

According to a recent survey of flight attendants, over 85% of respondents had dealt with unruly passengers in the first half of 2021.

 

Cantwell and Durbin also asked for a briefing from DOJ and FAA to inform Congressional oversight of the issue no later than October 11, 2021.

 

A copy of today’s letter to DOJ is available here.

 

A copy of today’s letter to FAA is available here.

 

 

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Wicker Questions Drone Flight Restriction at Mexican Border

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today sent a letter requesting Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) Steve Dickson to explain the implementation of the two-week Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the international bridge into Del Rio, Texas, and to promptly process any waiver sought by the media to ensure that the First Amendment is protected.

Click here or read the letter below:

Dear Administrator Dickson:

The worsening situation on our southern border is a crisis that requires the Biden Administration’s attention. Reports suggest that the number of migrants waiting to cross the international bridge into Del Rio, Texas, has swollen precipitously in recent days, underscoring the urgent need for the Administration to respond by securing our border.

Disconcerting images showing thousands of migrants waiting under the bridge surfaced on September 16, 2021. I understand that the FAA on the same day implemented a two-week TFR over the area at the request of Customs and Border Protection, thus preventing drone imaging of the bridge by media outlets unless a waiver is granted.  

To ensure that the First Amendment is protected, I expect that the FAA will promptly process any waiver sought by the media, which I understand is standard practice. Given the concerns raised by this matter, I request a briefing with an explanation for implementing this aviation restriction at the Mexican border.

I appreciate your attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

Executive Session

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 to consider the presidential nominations of Alexander Hoehn-Saric to be a Commissioner and Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); Mary T. Boyle to be a Commissioner of the CPSC; Richard Trumka, Jr. to be a Commissioner of the CPSC; and Grant Harris to be Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis at the Department of Commerce.

Immediately following the executive session, the Committee will hold a hearing to consider the presidential nominations of Victoria Marie Baecher Wassmer, to be Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Transportation (DOT); Mohsin Raza Syed, to be Assistant Secretary of Government Affairs at DOT; Amitabha Bose, to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; and Meera Joshi, to be Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

DETAILS

Commerce Committee Executive Session

10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Committee Hearing Room, Russell 253

Executive Session Agenda: 

  • Nomination of Alexander Hoehn-Saric, to be a Commissioner and Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Nomination of Mary T. Boyle, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Richard Trumka Jr., to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission  
  • Grant Harris, to be Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis, Department of Commerce

At the conclusion of the markup, the Committee will go directly into the nomination hearing.

Nominees: 

  • Victoria Marie Baecher Wassmer,?to be Chief Financial Officer, DOT
  • Mohsin Raza Syed, to be Assistant Secretary of Government Affairs, DOT
  • Amitabha Bose, to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, DOT
  • Meera Joshi, to be Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 

 

WATCH LIVESTREAM:  www.commerce.senate.gov

Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream. Social distancing is now lifted for vaccinated members of the press who wish to attend. The Office of the Attending Physician recommends that all individuals wear masks while in interior spaces and other individuals are present.

GSA Awards $2.29 Million Contract for Edward T. Gignoux Courthouse Renovation to Laconia, N.H. Small Business

GSA news releases - Wed, 09/15/2021 - 12:00am
BOSTON – Today, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced that it has awarded a locally-based small business a $2.29 million Design Excellence Architect-Engineer Service contract for HVAC and fire alarm replacement at the historic Edward T. Gignoux Courthouse in Portland, Maine. ...

During Hispanic Heritage Month, GSA Launches Public Engagement Campaign to Raise Awareness of Spanish-Language Government Services

GSA news releases - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON — In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), the General Services Administration (GSA) announced a public engagement campaign to connect the American people with official, reliable, Spanish-language government information and services. During this campaign, USAGov en Español will...

GSA Appoints Waldo Jaquith Senior Advisor to the Administrator and Nathan Osburn as Speechwriter

GSA news releases - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON — This week, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) appointed Waldo Jaquith as Senior Advisor to the Administrator and Nathan Osburn as the agency’s Speechwriter. Waldo Jaquith comes to the agency with over a decade of experience in government and technology policy.  An expert...

Ronald Reagan Courthouse in Harrisburg up for auction

GSA news releases - Thu, 09/09/2021 - 12:00am
Courthouse in prime downtown location listed for public sale PHILADELPHIA — Today, the U.S. General Services Administration is pleased to announce the sale of the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse at 228 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The 11-story, approximately 246...

GSA Expands Retail Presence at Five U.S. Navy Installations

GSA news releases - Wed, 09/08/2021 - 12:00am
New public works stores in California provide tools, supplies to support DoD mission SAN DIEGO – The U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Retail Operations program is expanding its support for the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Southwest by opening five new public...

GSA Names Raylene Yung Technology Modernization Fund Executive Director

GSA news releases - Tue, 09/07/2021 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON -- Today, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced the appointment of Raylene Yung as Technology Modernization Fund Executive Director. Yung will oversee the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) Program Management Office, authorized by the Modernizing Government...

Wicker Statement on Commerce Department’s Report Confirming Misconduct at ITMS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today released the following statement after the Department of Commerce issued a report on the misconduct at the Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS):

“I am encouraged by the actions taken by Secretary Raimondo to correct the egregious misconduct within the Commerce Department,” said Wicker. “I will complete a thorough review of the Secretary’s report and consider additional oversight to ensure compliance with these corrective actions. We will continue to investigate why the Department’s Inspector General previously failed to address the allegations of abuse of power, ethnic targeting, and reprisal by ITMS staff.”

Wicker launched an investigation into alleged misconduct in the ITMS after whistleblowers reported a variety of improper activities dating back to the mid-2000s involving abuse of authority, mismanagement, and reprisal against Department employees. In July, Wicker released a Committee report detailing the misconduct.

GSA Publishes Guide to Low- and No-cost Grid-interactive Efficient Building Measures

GSA news releases - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 12:00am
  WASHINGTON — The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has published a guide outlining steps to implement low- and no-cost grid-interactive efficient building (GEB) measures that result in utility cost savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. These simple measures can be done with...

GSA Announces Public Auction for Former FAA Tower Site in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts

GSA news releases - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 12:00am
BOSTON – The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is auctioning a former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tower site in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, as part of its mission to deliver value and savings in real estate, acquisition, technology, and other mission support services across...

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