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Executive Session

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 in Dirksen G50 to consider the committee budget resolution and subcommittee membership.

Winning the Race to 5G and the Next Era of Technology Innovation in the United States

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene the first full committee hearing of the 116th Congress titled, “Winning the Race to 5G and the Next Era of Technology Innovation in the United States.”

NJ Supreme Court to Decide Whether Third-Party Manufacturers Have Duty to Warn of Asbestos Exposure

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 02/06/2019 - 9:51am
Featured Expert Contributor, Mass Torts—Asbestos Robert H. Wright, a Partner with Horvitz & Levy LLP in Los Angeles, CA In Whelan v. Armstrong International, the New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal that will decide a manufacturer’s liability for asbestos-containing replacement parts that it did not manufacture or sell.  The Supreme Court …

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Ranking Member Maria Cantwell Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this important hearing today on 5G. I welcome all the witnesses who are here today, especially our witness from Spokane, who’s going to talk about smart city innovation.

But we’re here to talk generally about how the United States maintains its competitive advantage in 5G and how we use this new technology to help us in growing our digital economy. Already in the state of Washington a lot of 5G investments are being made to continue the growth of what our country knows is a trillion dollar opportunity and a continuation of the innovation economy.

So, I’m all in for 5G. We know that, along with various applications that you already mentioned, Mr. Chairman – on artificial intelligence and quantum computing – that we will really reshape our economy for the future. That the innovations that 5G will help us unleash will help us in many, many important aspects of our national agenda, national defense, and important partnerships for the future. 

But in the push for 5G, we need to make sure we’re not blind to some of the very important policy issues. Put simply, 5G networks must be secure, and that starts with having a cybersecurity strategy that focuses on shoring up our defense against hackers and state-sponsored actors of cyberterrorism. 

Protecting national security means making sure that America’s economy is strong and that we remain a global leader. Cybersecurity is one thing I wish I would have heard more from the President on last night. We know that with artificial intelligence and quantum computing, that applications made possible with 5G can transform innovation, change our modern warfare, creating military advantages through integrated military operations, but we need to make sure that this network is safe.

So, the more that we rely on these networks to drive productivity and efficiency and sustainability, whether it is our businesses or our military applications, we need to make sure that the promise of a 5G network does reach that level of security. 

So, a few things that I think we need to think about. First, we must be certain that there is a secure supply chain backing up our 5G system. We cannot tolerate a leaky valve or a back-door into these networks. Second, the administration should provide us with a real, quantifiable 5G threat assessment so we can work fully to make sure our network is secure. And three, we need to have a serious conversation about what level, if any, of foreign components we are going to allow into the 5G network.

I know that there are state-sponsored actors who have hacked our networks, and I want all of us to work more closely together to call out, on an international basis, those wrong actors, and work together to try to prevent them in a broader coalition. We need to make sure that we are all hands on deck. I want the FCC to use its existing authorities to make sure these networks are safe and secure, and to know that Congress is watching.

So, I know if we roll up our sleeves, get serious about the cyber issues, and continue to make the right investments, that the innovation economy and the race to win in 5G, the United States will do very, very well.

More importantly, we need to continue to talk about the great applications that 5G will empower. That is why I’m so happy today that we have a witness from the smart cities and innovation area to talk about exactly what this can do for our local governments. Local governments are always cash-strapped, so to know that they can make smart technology infrastructure upgrades that can help save money in the future is something I think is very important.

I especially want to welcome Kim Zentz, the CEO of Urbanova, who is on the panel today, and to talk about how that cutting-edge collaboration between Washington State University, the City of Spokane, and a group of innovators are already exploring ways to leverage technology and data analytics to move our cities towards a more sustainable future. This is something that I know many of my colleagues on this committee have already sponsored legislation related to this.

Mr. Chairman, I know that we’ll have a chance at a future hearing to talk about, again, how we access rural broadband and do a better job, but as we’re talking about 5G, I think that we need to put as much enthusiasm into the discussion of what will 5G investments do for us in the area of rural and underserved areas, like Tribal communities, into broadband.

And lastly, Mr. Chairman, I should just mention, since you mentioned the value of the mid-band and how important that was, that as we talk about how we move forward on capitalization of this effort, that valuable mid-band spectrum license to satellite providers years ago is a very valuable commodity, and I think that we need to make sure that the U.S. taxpayer is involved in getting the best out of that as possible.

So, with that Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses and look forward to what our colleagues have to say about this issue during the Q&A. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

DOJ Updates Justice Manual to Formalize Guidance about Guidance

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 2:22pm
Featured Expert Contributor, White Collar Crime & Corporate Compliance Gregory A. Brower, a Shareholder with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP in Las Vegas, NV and Washington, DC, with William E. Moschella, a Shareholder in the firm’s Washington, DC office. Back in November 2017, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum entitled “Prohibition on Improper …

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Ninth Circuit Narrowly Vindicates First Amendment in Bellwether Compelled Speech Case

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 02/05/2019 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Contributor, First Amendment By Megan Brown, a Partner with Wiley Rein LLP, with Jeremy Broggi, an Associate with the firm.*  Wiley Rein LLP represents the United States Chamber of Commerce as amicus in American Beverage Ass’n v. San Francisco. Click here for a printer-friendly version of this post. The tide may be turning …

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Ninth Circuit Decision Underscores Need for Clarity on ADA’s Application in Cyberspace

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 9:05am
Debate over whether the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) applies to websites has been raging for years—mostly in the federal courts. As happens all too often, federal legislators and regulators have remained mostly mute, leaving judges to resolve this thorny question. This default appeal to the judiciary, which has produced divergent decisions, deprives website owners …

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POSTPONED: Organizational Meeting

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 1:00pm
The Committee on Small Business organizational meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 30, 2019, has been postponed.

Committee Announces Markup and First Hearing of the 116th Congress

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene an executive session at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, in Dirksen G50 to consider the committee budget resolution and subcommittee membership.

Wicker Statement on Huawei Indictments

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today issued the following statement on the U.S. Department of Justice indictments of Huawei officials in the U.S. and China:

Wicker Announces Commerce Committee Senior Staff

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced key staff roles on the committee. 

“Now that we have a senior team in place, we are redoubling our effors to advance the agenda for the committee,” said Wicker. “This team has varied experience from the Senate, House leadership, as well as the private sector. They are well suited to help advance our agenda and pass legislation that will benefit not only Mississippi, but the entire country.” 

Wicker has tapped John Keast to be staff director. Keast brings over 30 years of government and private sector policy expertise to the Committee, including service as staff in the Virginia House of Delegates and at a non-profit think tank. He joined Wicker in the beginning of 1994 and served as Wicker’s Chief of Staff in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2006. Keast holds a political science degree from Radford University.

Crystal Tully has been named deputy staff director. Tully has led the Commerce Committee’s communications and technology policy team since September 2017. She served previously in the offices of Sen. Wicker and Sen. John E.Sununu, R-N.H. She has also worked in the private sector with stakeholders on communications issues, and held legal clerkships with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and the George Washington University Law School.

Steven Wall will serve the committee as General Counsel. Wall previously served on the House Committee on House Administration, the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Agriculture Committee. In addition, he served in the offices of Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.. He has also worked in the private sector in government relations and public policy consulting. Before beginning his career in Washington, Wall practiced law in Jackson, Mississippi. He received a Bachelor of Public Administration degree from the University of Mississippi, a J.D. from Vanderbilt University, and a Master’s degree in European Politics from the University of Edinburgh.

Rick VanMeter, who has been Sen. Wicker’s communications director since April 2018, will also serve as the communications director of the committee. VanMeter is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, and brings more than a decade of experience working in Congress and political campaigns. He most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Andy Barr, R-Ky., and Communications Director for Congressman Adrian Smith, R-Neb.

Brianna Manzelli has been named deputy communications director of the committee. Manzelli has worked on the Commerce Committee’s communications team since July 2017. Previously, she was on the Republican National Committee’s communications team, as well as in the private sector. She is a graduate of Catholic University of America.

Rounding out Wicker’s leadership team on the committee are senior policy advisors Ellen BearesJames Mazol, and Olivia Trusty

Ellen Beares has been named policy director over the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety, and the Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather. Beares has worked in the Senate for the past 20 years, 5 of which have been for Chairman Wicker handling Commerce Committee transportation, oceans, and science issues. Prior to working for Sen. Wicker, she served on the Senate Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee handling the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. She graduated from Virginia Tech. 

James Mazol has been named policy director over the Subcommittee on Security, and the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space. Mazol previously served as Sen. Wicker’s National Security Advisor covering the national defense, foreign policy, and space portfolios. Prior to joining Senator Wicker, he served as Legislative Director to then- U.S. Congressman Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., and as staff member on the House Armed Services Committee. 

Olivia Trusty has been named policy director over the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, and the Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection. Previously, Trusty handled telecommunications and technology issues for Sen. Wicker. Prior to joining Sen. Wicker, Trusty worked on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee and served as Legislative Assistant to Congressman Bob Latta, R-Ohio. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s degree in American Government from Georgetown University.

Wicker and Cantwell Release Subcommittee Assignments

U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced member assignments for each subcommittee.

Food-Labeling Suit’s Successful Class Certification is Cause for Concern in California

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 01/23/2019 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Contributor—Civil Justice/Class Actions Frank Cruz-Alvarez, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P., with Rachel Forman, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. California is broadening the legal landscape of food-labeling class actions to the dismay of the food and beverage industry.  The Southern District of California in Hilsley v. Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. et al. has thrown …

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With Emulex Corp., Supreme Court Could Raise Bar for “Merger Tax” Securities Suits

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 01/22/2019 - 10:50am
Featured Expert Contributor, Corporate Governance/Securities Law Stephen M. Bainbridge, William D. Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law. In the wake of the Delaware Chancery Court’s pathbreaking decision in the Trulia case,1 which sharply increased the scrutiny given settlements of cases challenging mergers and other takeovers, there has been a dramatic shift of …

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The Judiciary Can Corral the Administrative State, but Only the People Themselves Can Tame It

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 2:35pm
The executive power of this nation would, James Madison wrote in Federalist 48, be “restrained” within a “narrow compass.” The judicial power could, in his view, be “described by landmarks still less uncertain.” It was against “the enterprising ambition” of the legislature, he believed, that “the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust …

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Knick v. Scott Township: Whack-a-Mole at the Supreme Court

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 5:54pm
Today’s Supreme Court argument in Knick v. Scott Township made clear that state and local governments are playing Whack-a-Mole with private property rights. Whack-a-Mole is the arcade game in which every time a mole is whacked down, a new one pops up. At issue in Knick is whether to overturn the Court’s 1985 Williamson County …

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Wicker Convenes First Committee Meeting of the 116th Congress

Excerpt from Chairman Wicker’s opening statement, as delivered, below:


The bar has indeed been set high.  This committee accomplished a great deal last congress, and I look forward to similar successes this congress.  

In particular, I see this committee focusing on a number of primary objectives across the committee’s broad jurisdiction.

Broadband connectivity is the digital engine driving investment, innovation, and productivity in virtually every economic sector in the United States. 

Although we have made significant progress on wireline, wireless, and satellite broadband deployments over the years, more needs to be done to close the digital divide, particularly in rural America.  

This process should start with collecting standardized and accurate data about where reliable fixed and mobile broadband already exists and where it does not – both in my state of Mississippi and around the country.  

Data is critical to delivering broadband to rural communities that lack service.

We will also continue the committee’s efforts to maintain U.S. leadership in 5G, the next-generation of broadband services. 

To that end, modernizing outdated rules that delay and add unnecessary costs to broadband infrastructure deployment and making more spectrum available for commercial use will be critical to our nation’s success in developing a reliable, resilient, and secure 5G network.

Robust and reliable broadband connections underpin the internet marketplace where innovative applications and services are taking on more significant and vital roles in our lives.

Maintaining consumer trust and confidence in this marketplace is critical to preserving a prosperous and thriving digital economy in the United States. 

A priority of this committee will be to protect the privacy of consumers’ data in a way that promotes industry transparency, consumer choice, and innovation.

We will continue our efforts to keep the skies safe and foster American leadership in outer space.  These efforts will include oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration and the safe integration of unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace.  They will also, I hope, include a commercial space bill and a National Aeronautics and Space Administration reauthorization. 

With creation of a new security subcommittee, we will be able to focus on supporting the organizations — such as the Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, and Transportation Security Administration — whose efforts strengthen the nation’s economic prosperity and security. 

I hope these efforts will include Coast Guard and Maritime Administration reauthorizations, support for the American maritime industry, and a focus on the national security dimensions of agencies and issues under the committee’s jurisdiction.   

I look forward to the committee continuing its work on improving the nation’s infrastructure and safety. Work this congress will likely include a pipeline safety reauthorization as well as the reauthorization of the FAST Act.  

We will also focus on motor carrier safety, multimodal freight, as well as our nation’s rail and Amtrak and look forward to working with the administration on shoring up the highway trust fund, as well as meeting the nation’s ever-increasing infrastructure needs.  

This is by no means a complete list, although it has been a lengthy one — there are many other high priorities the committee will consider.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on a range of issues important to their states and to all Americans. 

I thank my colleagues again for giving me the opportunity to lead this great committee.

Executive Session

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. to consider and approve the rules for the committee and to ratify Subcommittees and Subcommittee assignments for the 116th Congress.


1.    Rules Governing the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 

*Agenda subject to change

Executive Session Details:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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

Ranking Member Maria Cantwell Opening Remarks

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and let me congratulate you on taking the gavel of this committee and for your past leadership here in the Commerce Committee on a myriad of important issues. You mentioned several of them: communications, fisheries, oceans issues – I didn’t quite hear ship building, but I’m sure it’s a high priority for the people of your state and for our nation as well. I know my colleague, Senator Sullivan and I, we’ll be a constant pest on building an Arctic fleet for the future and recapitalization of the many assets that the Coast Guard needs. We thank you for your leadership on many of those issues and look forward to working with you in your capacity as Chair of this committee.

I also look forward to helping to tackle many of the issues that you just mentioned, but before I start, I just want to point out the number of employees that this committee does have oversight over: the 55,000 TSA workers who are working without pay, and the 400 NTSB employees who are currently furloughed, and many others who are involved in the government shutdown. So I hope one of the things that we can get working on is how we get our government back open.

I also too want to thank Chairman Thune and former Ranking Member Nelson for their leadership on this committee. Obviously the hard work that it took to get an FAA bill, to basically get the reauthorization of the Coast Guard legislation, and the important upgrade to TSA security were all landmark pieces of legislation passed by this committee in the last Congress, and I want to congratulate them and thank them for their hard work on that.

I also look forward to working with Senator Thune as the new Subcommittee Chair on Communications and wanted to just mention that I do thank Senator Nelson for his great leadership on the space program and his continued focus on fighting offshore drilling. I certainly look forward to working with our colleague from Texas on his chairmanship of the Space and Aviation Subcommittee as well.

As the Chairman mentioned, we have new members to the committee, and I want to introduce and thank the committee members on our side. I actually think in total, Mr. Chairman, we have a record number of woman serving on a Senate committee, so I’m very proud that we have so many women. Hopefully we’ll put our imprint on what we think the economy of the future looks like and what we need to do.

But I want to welcome Senator Sinema to the committee. Obviously Senator McCain was a long-standing member and former chair of this committee, but Senator Sinema brings a very big consumer advocacy and technology focus to this committee, working on both cyber and technology privacy issues in the House. And we welcome her to the committee.

And I also want to welcome Senator Rosen to the committee who, if the Senate ever needed a true coder – sometimes people call me the “high-tech” senator, but I guarantee you, you are now meeting the true high-tech senator who knows several languages in coding and her strength and knowledge coming to the United States Senate on workforce and STEM issues is going to be a great reward.

I too welcome the new Republican members as well: Senator Scott and Senator Blackburn.

As you said, Mr. Chairman, the committee has had a long record of working together in bipartisan fashion. You mentioned many of those things that we have to tackle: investing in infrastructure, strengthening cyber security, expanding rural broadband, boosting commercial space, continuing our aviation modernization, protecting consumer privacy and data, addressing oceans and fisheries and climate change issues, working on America’s competitiveness, as this committee has often done to meet the challenges of an international marketplace.

And we believe that the economy of the future is one that we need to invest in, whether it is science, R&D, or skilling a workforce. But we also believe that we have to protect consumers, particularly in the areas of privacies and product, nor do we want to shy away from those. No matter what the name of the subcommittee is, we’re going to continue to focus on that consumer advocacy. So I look forward to working with all members of the committee on both sides of the aisle on these important issues.

I would be remiss, though, if I did not mention on of my predecessors from this committee: Senator Warren Magnuson. Senator Magnuson, from the state of Washington, served as the chairman of this committee for 23 years. So hard to understate the significant or importance of this. Senator Magnuson, in those 23 years, helped shepherd changes to the 1964 Civil Rights Act Section 2, helped for the first-ever label warning on cigarettes for the dangers of tobacco, helped – with many of our colleagues – introduce the recognition that automobile manufacturers had to report defects, and many, many other things, including the very important work he did with Senator Stevens on the creation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that really did save the American fishing industry and create it into a multibillion dollar sustainable industry that we have today.

So I thank my colleagues for allowing me make those remarks. Again, Mr. Chairman, I’m excited to work with you as you take the gavel of this committee and look forward to a productive few years here of what we can accomplish for the people of the United States of America.

Quality Control at a Sustainable Cost: Blockchain Solutions for Bank Secrecy and Anti-Money-Laundering Compliance

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 2:19pm
Featured Expert Contributor, Legal & Regulatory Challenges for Digital Assets By Daniel S. Alter, a Shareholder in the New York, NY office of Murphy & McGonigle P.C. I’ve banged on this drum before in American Banker but—given recent and exciting developments in blockchain technology—it’s time to beat on it again.  The costs of Bank Secrecy …

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