Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
On April 4, 2017, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) proposed amendments to Regulation B to permit creditors additional flexibility in complying with Regulation B in order to facilitate compliance with Regulation C, to add certain model forms and remove others from Regulation B, and to make various other amendments to Regulation B and its commentary to facilitate the collection and retention of information about the ethnicity, sex, and race of certain mortgage applicants.
National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
Advance notice of proposed rulemaking
Field Hearing: Extreme Weather and Coastal Flooding: What is Happening Now, What is the Future Risk, and What Can We Do About It?
Good afternoon, and welcome to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation field hearing on seal level rise, extreme weather and coastal flooding.
Today we sit at ground zero of the impacts of climate change in the U.S. And while there are still some who continue to deny climate change is real, South Florida offers proof that it is real and it’s an issue we’re going to be grappling with for decades to come.
As all of us here today know, Florida is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. We have over 1,200 miles of coastline - more than any other state in the continental U.S. - and over three quarters of the state’s residents live in coastal counties. Florida is also quite flat. The highest point in the state is Britton Hill, at 345 feet above sea level.
Our communities are already experiencing regular, nuisance flooding during the king tides, as you can see in this photograph taken in Miami Beach in 2015 of a gentleman attempting to cross the street where the floodwater reaches above the curb. It has gotten so extreme that sea creatures are showing up in bizarre places, like this octopus in a parking lot.
The National Academy of Sciences found that 67 percent of nuisance floods in the US are driven by human-caused global sea level rise. In Miami Beach, tide-induced flooding has increased by more than 400 percent in the last decade. In southeast Florida as a whole, sea level rise has tripled since 2006.
The resulting impacts of coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion, storm surge, and land erosion on Florida’s coastal communities have prompted local governments to act.
Here in Palm Beach County, more than 20 acres of beach and sand-dunes had to be restored following Hurricane Sandy to better protect shoreside communities from flooding and severe weather.
Observation such as these—not models, not projections, but the data—tells us that the average global sea level is rising. The National Climate Assessment predicts that sea levels will rise an additional one to four feet this century.
Additionally, rising ocean temperatures have been linked to increasing hurricane intensity, as hurricanes draw more energy from warm water.
In 2016 alone there were 15 weather and climate disaster events that caused over 1 billion dollars in damages each and resulted in 138 deaths across the country. In the first three months of this year there have been five more events with losses exceeding 1 billion dollars. These included a flood, a freeze, and three severe storms. Five is the largest number of billion-dollar events for January to March ever recorded.
Sea level rise will worsen the issue by creating deeper waters near shore, causing higher waves and stronger storm surges during hurricanes. This is especially concerning considering that 79 percent of Florida’s economy is generated in coastal communities, and over 130 billion dollars of beach real estate is at risk.
So, what do we do about it? Well first, we need to be clear about the facts that are presented to the public and fight against political censorship of our climate scientists and their data. If a doctor were barred from using the word “cancer,” he or she can’t do his job, and the same is true with scientists and the work they do to understand and educate the public about the earth’s own fever.
We’ve got to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But we also must create more resilient communities. I would like to take the opportunity to applaud Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties for their work on the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact; and the Cities of Punta Gorda and Satellite Beach for their sea level rise adaptation planning and their efforts to become more resilient communities. I know they will keep up the good work and I hope that others will follow their lead. And I believe that at the federal level, we should be providing more tools to these communities, not less.
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but at the very moment we should be investing in the resilience efforts of communities, the administration has proposed slashing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program.
The administration’s budget has also recommended delaying investment in the next generation of weather satellites at NOAA—the sentinels that tell us when a hurricane is coming. This would cost lives, property, and even more tax dollars in the long-run. So, I’ll fight to ensure we invest in these vital programs.
With that, I’d like to welcome our distinguished panel and thank them for sharing their expertise. We will be hearing from them on the science, economic risks of inaction, and solutions for communities to mitigate sea level rise and coastal flooding.
Dr. Ben Kirtman is the Director of the Center for Computational Science Climate, and Environmental Hazards at the University of Miami, as well as the Director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Marine & Atmospheric Sciences. Dr. Kirtman is a professor in the Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and is the Executive Editor of the scientific journal, Climate Dynamics. His research focuses on predicting climate change in the short and the long term and how much of that change can be attributed to humans.
Dr. Leonard Berry is a Professor Emeritus of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University and serves as a consultant to Coastal Risk Consulting, a Florida company that assesses climate risk to properties. He has also provided consulting services to communities who wish to relocate power infrastructure to avoid flood risk.
Mr. Carl Hedde (Hehd-ee) is the Senior Vice President and the Head of Risk Accumulation for Munich Reinsurance of America. Mr. Hedde oversees corporate accumulation issues, including the use of catastrophe risk models, client catastrophe risk consulting services, and portfolio management and optimization. Additionally, he manages a group of scientists that provide expertise and research capabilities to Munich Reinsurance of America and its clients.
Dr. Jennifer Jurado (Her-ahdoh) is the Chief Resiliency Officer, as well as the Director of the Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division for Broward County. Dr. Jurado serves as the county's primary representative coordinating with regional and agency partners, and public and private stakeholders to advance resiliency planning and infrastructure investments. Dr. Jurado was on the President's Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience (2014-2015) and was recognized in 2013 by the White House as a Champion of Change for her leadership on climate resilience. She was integral in drafting the Southeast Florida Climate Compact.
Thank you all for coming today. I look forward to your testimony.
West Palm Beach to Host Senate Commerce Committee Field Hearing on Extreme Weather and Coastal Flooding
Thank you to the witnesses for appearing before this Subcommittee today to discuss their perspectives on rural air service and the general aviation community.
We have before us:
The Honorable Laurie Gill, Mayor, Pierre, South Dakota; Mr. Spencer Dickerson, Executive Director, U.S. Contract Tower Association, an affiliated organization of the American Association of Airport Executives; Mr. Mark Baker, President and CEO, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; and Dr. Guy Smith, Professor Emeritus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
I would also like to recognize the family members of the victims of Colgan Air Flight 3407. Your presence is a steadfast reminder that aviation safety must be the primary goal of this subcommittee.
This hearing is one of a series on reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
As we’ve previously noted, civil aviation is a critically important sector for the economy in general, and in rural and small communities in particular. It is estimated that the overall economic impact of reliable air service in small communities is roughly $121 billion, and it supports over 1.1 million jobs.
Quality air service links smaller communities to the broader economy and global transportation networks. Small, and non-hub airports provide lifelines for local businesses, transportation for service members and their families, and bolster local tourism. A perfect example of this is the Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport at Forney Field, Fort Leonard Wood.
Located in central Missouri, this joint-use facility provides reliable, accessible air service for members of the military serving on-post and thousands of their family members who attend annually for training graduations. It also links the local businesses in Ft. Leonard Wood’s surrounding communities to Lambert International in St. Louis, and supports tourism for the Mahaffey Museum Complex.
In addition to commercial air service at regional airports, we also want to highlight the important role of General Aviation (GA). GA encompasses a range of non-commercial operations, including private pilots that fly small planes, gliders, hot air balloons, homebuilt aircraft, as well as sophisticated jet aircraft. GA plays an important role connecting rural areas to the rest of the nation’s air transportation system, and it’s estimated that GA supports 1.1 million jobs and accounts for $219 billion in total economic output.
There’s no question about the importance of regional air service and general aviation, but we must also recognize and address the challenges they face.
From 2007 to 2016, small and non-hub airports experienced significant declines in departures, seats, and connectivity. Additionally, in 2014, the Government Accountability Office testified that regional airlines were having difficulties finding sufficient numbers of qualified pilots.
Reduced service to rural airports is alarming.
In addition to reduced service, and insufficient availability of pilots, we must also examine federal programs that support air service at smaller airports to determine if they are working as Congress intended.
These programs include:
The Federal Contract Tower program, which allows FAA to contract with private air traffic control providers at 253 airports nationwide, including five in Missouri; Essential Air Service, which provides a safety net to ensure rural areas have air service, including four in Missouri; and The Small Community Air Service Development Program, which provides grants to communities for strategies to improve availability and price of air service, including multiple airports in Missouri.
This Subcommittee is mindful of the anxiety in rural communities that hear talk about funding cuts in Washington to these programs.
Proposed cuts to rural aviation programs are a perennial request of both Republican and Democratic administrations.
While a president has the right to propose cuts in spending, the Constitution gives Congress the power to actually set spending.
The purpose of this hearing is to examine what’s working for rural aviation, and what can be improved. To that end, we need to think of rural aviation and general aviation issues holistically.
I was pleased with provisions included in the short-term FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act that require the Department of Transportation to convene a working group and issue a report to Congress by July 15, 2017.
The focus of the Working Group is to consider whether funding for existing rural aviation programs is sufficient, and to identify initiatives to support pilot training and aviation safety for small communities. The Subcommittee eagerly awaits the working group’s report, and we look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.
I want to thank my Subcommittee counterpart, Maria Cantwell, for being here today as we continue to work in a bipartisan manner to advance rural aviation and safety as part of a comprehensive FAA reauthorization.
I turn now to Ranking Member Cantwell for any remarks she would like to make.
The Honorable J. Russell George
U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
WASHINGTON – As the federal income tax filing deadline approaches, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) told the House Small Business Committee today that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must be more vigilant in protecting taxpayers’ personal information from identity thieves.
“As tax season heats up, so too does tax fraud season,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “In testimony before this Committee last year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen reported that a cyber breach had exposed taxpayer data from over 700,000 accounts. Commissioner Koskinen also told us that IRS computer systems are under constant attack from would-be hackers to the tune of 1 million attempted cyberattacks per day.”
“Criminals are becoming ever more sophisticated and ruthless in the ways they commit tax identity theft and file fraudulent returns with ill-gotten personal information. At a minimum, the goal of the IRS must be to make this crime harder, not easier, for identity thieves to commit,” Chairman Chabot explained.
“The Largest Most Pervasive Scam in the History of Our Agency”
“Since the fall of 2013, a significant amount of our Office of Investigations’ workload has consisted of investigating a telephone impersonation scam in which more than 1.9 million intended victims have received unsolicited telephone calls from individuals falsely claiming to be IRS or Department of the Treasury employees,” testified J. Russell George, Inspector General of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). “The callers demand money under the pretense that the victim owes unpaid taxes. To date, over 10,300 victims have purportedly paid more than $55 million to these criminals. The telephone impersonation scam continues to be one of TIGTA’s top priorities; it has also landed at the top of the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams. The numbers of complaints we have received about this scam have cemented its status as the largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of our agency. It has claimed victims in every State.”
“We at TIGTA take seriously our mandate to provide independent oversight of the IRS in its administration of our Nation’s tax system. As such, we plan to provide continuing audit coverage of the IRS’s efforts to identify and detect identity theft and provide assistance to victims,” George concluded.
If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of an IRS Impersonation Scam, you can report it on the TIGTA website HERE.
Commerce Approves the Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act, DOT Deputy Secretary Nomination and Additional Legislation
WASHINGTON – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved five bills and the nomination of Jeffrey Rosen to serve as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Transportation.
Bills and nominations approved are as follows (approved by voice vote unless otherwise noted):
1. S. 763, Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, Sponsors: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
2. S. 61, A bill to remove the sunset provision of section 203 of Public Law 105-384 (the Dungeness Crabs bill), Sponsors: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.
3. S. 701, A bill to improve the competitiveness of United States manufacturing by designating and supporting manufacturing communities, Sponsors: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Shelley Capito (R-W.V.), Angus King (I-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)
a. Klobuchar 1, as modified
4. S. 756, Save Our Shores Act of 2017, Sponsors: Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) Gary Peters (D-Mich.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
5. S. 770, Making Available Information Now to Strengthen Trust and Resilience and Enhance Enterprise Technology (MAIN STREET) Cybersecurity Act, Sponsors: Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), James Risch (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)
a. Schatz 1, as modified
6. Jeffrey A. Rosen, of Virginia, to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation (agreed to by roll call vote: 15-12)
The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Taking Care of Small Business: Working Together for a Better SBA.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The Honorable Linda McMahon was sworn in on February 14, 2017 as the 25th Administrator of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). From 1980 to 2009, Administrator McMahon was active in her family’s company, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., eventually becoming President and Chief Executive Officer. WWE began as a small regional company and grew into a large, global business. The Committee will hear from Administrator McMahon about her priorities for entrepreneurs and the SBA.
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List
The Honorable Linda McMahon
United States Small Business Administration
"Good morning and welcome everyone to the second executive session of this Congress. Today, we will be considering a number of measures, including the Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, which I have introduced with Senators Nelson, Fischer, and Booker. I am also pleased to have Senators Wicker, Blunt, Cantwell, and Blumenthal as cosponsors.
"This bill is designed to address concerns raised by independent government watchdog agencies that TSA is not adequately identifying risks across all modes of transportation. One of the provisions in our bill focuses on making sure TSA has enough canine units.
"To highlight the good work these units do, we are actually going to start our markup today with a short demonstration by two of Amtrak’s canine detection teams. The teams will be showcasing the talents of these dedicated dogs and their handlers.
"Both canine teams we have here today are led by Sergeant Micah Jones. Sergeant Jones has been a certified handler since 1996 and has been training canine teams since 2008. Sergeant Jones retired with 21 years of service in the United States Air Force as a Master Sergeant.
"He honed his canine experience during deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, among other locations. I also want to thank his boss, Amtrak Police Chief Neil Trugman, for being here and facilitating today's demo.
"The first demo team is Officer Ryan Tullar and K9 Ivan. Officer Tullar and Ivan have been a certified team since 2012. K9 Ivan is one of the Amtrak Police Department’s Vapor Wake canines, and he has the ability to detect explosive odor on a moving target.
"Thank you Officer Tullar and Ivan. We will now start the second demo, with Officer Daniel Scanlon and K9 Ladley. Ladley is honorably named after Mr. James Patrick Ladley, a 41 year old businessman who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and tragically lost his life.
"Officer Scanlon and Ladley have been a certified team since 2013. K9 Ladley is one of the Amtrak Police Department’s TSA Conventional canines, which means he has the ability to detect explosive odor on stationary targets.
"Thank you officers and K9s for that demonstration. We all truly appreciate your great work.
"It is my hope that the Surface and Maritime Transpiration Security Act will be reported favorably today and that we can continue to work with the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, under Chairman Johnson’s leadership, and others to ensure its eventual enactment.
"In addition to the Surface and Maritime Transportation Security Act, we will also be considering a handful of other measures and the nomination of Mr. Jeffery Rosen to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation.
"These include Senator Sullivan’s Save our Seas Act of 2017, which will reauthorize the Marine Debris program at NOAA, and Senator Cantwell’s bill, S. 61, which will allow the States of Washington, Oregon, and California to continue to manage the Dungeness crab fishery permanently.
"There is also Senator Schatz’s MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act, which I am pleased to cosponsor, along with Small Business Committee Chairman Risch and Senators Nelson, Cantwell, Gardner, and Cortez-Masto.
"This legislation will help small businesses get the information they need to protect themselves and their customers from cyber attacks.
"We’ll also be considering the Made in America Manufacturing Communities Act of 2017. Sponsored by Senators Gillibrand, Capito, Moran, Blumenthal, and Klobuchar, it was considered by the Committee as part of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act last year, but was not included in the final enacted measure.
"I look forward to getting feedback from, and working with the new Administration and the sponsors, as this bill proceeds to the Senate floor.
"With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks."
As I said at our first subcommittee hearing of the 115th Congress, “the rules and regulations surrounding the Fair Labor Standards Act are simply outdated.” We live in the 21st century, yet many of the rules governing America’s workplaces were designed by those who lived during the Great Depression.
It goes without saying that a lot has changed since then. Millennials now represent the majority of the workforce. In nearly half of two-parent households, both mom and dad work full time. That’s up from roughly 30 percent in 1970. Meanwhile, technological advances continue to rapidly change the very nature of how we work and stay connected to work.
As a result, men and women today face a different set of challenges when it comes to balancing the demands of their professional lives and personal lives. “There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.” It’s something I hear often as I talk to neighbors and families in my district. As our colleague, Representative Martha Roby, once put it, “We can’t legislate another hour in the day.” That’s true, but we can do our part to ensure the federal government isn’t making life more difficult for workers and their families.
That’s why Representative Roby introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act. This commonsense proposal would improve the quality of life of many hardworking men and women by removing outdated federal restrictions imposed solely on the private sector.
For decades, public-sector employers have been able to offer workers the choice between paid time off and cash wages for working overtime. That’s because in 1985, Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to give public-sector employees greater flexibility. In fact, in a report filed by this very committee more than 30 years ago, our Democrat colleagues wrote that this change in the law recognized the “mutual benefits” of comp time for state and local governments and their employees. The Democrat committee report even refers to the “freedom and flexibility” comp time would offer public-sector workers.
But under federal law, it is still illegal to extend the same benefits to private-sector employees who are eligible for overtime pay. This isn’t right, and it isn’t fair. Private-sector workers should be afforded the same freedom to do what’s best for themselves and their families. For many Americans working paycheck to paycheck, earning some additional income is the choice that’s best for them. But the federal government shouldn’t assume that’s the best choice for everyone.
Many individuals would welcome the opportunity to put in a few extra hours, if it meant having more paid time off to catch a child’s baseball game or dance recital. Others are in desperate need of greater flexibility to care for an aging relative, juggle work and parenting while a spouse is deployed overseas, or complete another semester of college while working full-time.
Every worker has a different story. But they all deserve the choice between more time and more money in the bank. They all deserve to choose the best option that meets their personal needs.
Unfortunately, union leaders and special interest groups have tried desperately over the years to deny workers the freedom to make that choice. They’ve used no shortage of false and misleading rhetoric in the process, so allow me to briefly explain what this bill actually does.
This bill preserves the 40-hour work week and existing overtime protections. For workers who elect to receive paid time off, their leave would accrue at the same rate—time-and-a-half—as wages.
The bill includes strong protections to ensure the use of comp time is completely voluntary. Workers can switch back to receiving cash wages whenever they choose, and they are allowed to cash out their comp time for any reason at any time.
Additionally, it is up to the employee to decide when to use his or her time off, so long as reasonable notice is provided and the request is not overly disruptive. This is the same commonsense standard that exists in the public sector, and I suspect it’s the same standard that is applied in most of our congressional offices.
This bill also includes important protections to prevent employers from intimidating or coercing employees into receiving paid leave in lieu of cash wages, and the Department of Labor would have full authority to enforce those protections.
This legislation is ultimately about freedom, choice, and fairness. An antiquated federal law shouldn’t limit the ability of private-sector employees to better balance work and family. Democrats and Republicans came together more than 30 years ago to amend the law to provide more choices for public-sector workers, and it’s time we did the same for workers in the private sector. This isn’t a new or radical idea either. In fact, President Bill Clinton had his own comp time proposal during his presidency.
I want to thank Representative Roby for leading this effort. Improving workplace flexibility is one step we can take to make a positive difference in the lives of American families — and it doesn’t require another government program, a federal mandate, or onerous regulations that burden small businesses. That is why I support the Working Families Flexibility Act, and I urge all of my colleagues to do the same.
WASHINGTON – In her first Congressional testimony since being confirmed as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Linda McMahon pledged to work with the House Small Business Committee to make her agency more effective and efficient in helping small businesses by improving capital access, counseling, and government contracting programs.
“This Committee has long believed that the SBA is an agency in need of attention,” said House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) at the outset of today’s hearing. “The loan programs that provide crucial access to capital need vigilant oversight. The training and technical assistance programs that reach people through local SBDCs need to keep up with rapidly changing times. Our job is to ensure that SBA’s programs are effectively and efficiently serving the millions of Americans who work at, own, or want to start a small business.”
“We ended the last Congress with a lot of unanswered questions from the SBA about how the agency will address longstanding deficiencies in management, information technology, and program oversight. It’s our intention that today will mark the official start of a collaborative relationship that will address these issues and any more that arise in the future,” Chabot explained.
“Administrator McMahon has a record of spotting opportunity where few others could. I think it’s also safe to say that she doesn’t put up with much nonsense. We’re looking forward to hearing directly from her today about her plans for making the SBA a better agency,” Chabot noted.
The Main Event: Administrator McMahon Shares Her Goals For SBA
Administrator McMahon shared her own personal story as an entrepreneur who overcame difficulties to start her family’s small business. She told the Committee that this experience will help to better inform her work at the SBA.
“As I have visited small business all over the country, I have seen that same resiliency over and over again. Entrepreneurs are fighters,” Administrator McMahon said. “They work hard, and when they get knocked down by a recession or a natural disaster or simply a change in consumer demand, they turn to their creativity to make it better. But sometimes they need a helping hand.
“Now that I am the SBA Administrator, I am committed to ensuring that our agency is as strong as it can be to lift up as many entrepreneurs as it can,” McMahon pledged. “My commitment extends to make sure that all services we offer to our customers are delivered effectively and efficiently and, most importantly, that SBA and our partners are offering what small businesses actually need to grow, innovate, and create jobs. With small business as the driver of our economy, I believe our country will remain strong, too.”
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for being here today for our third hearing of the 115th Congress. Today’s hearing is titled, “Keeping Goods Moving: Continuing to Enhance Multimodal Freight Policy and Infrastructure.”
I am pleased to bring together a panel of leaders who work each and every day to strengthen America’s transportation system. I’m particularly proud that we have representation from two of our nation’s largest transportation companies, Werner trucking and Union Pacific railroad, both headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Today’s topic is freight policy. This is an issue that’s important to every state, including urban and rural communities, and advances a wide array of transportation projects across that country.
Enhancing the flow of commercial freight across our country grows our economy, reduces costs for families and businesses, and, most importantly, increases safety for all Americans.
Everyone here today knows that the White House and Congress have been discussing a major infrastructure package.
In fact, recent news reports suggest the administration is considering a legislative strategy to pair tax reform and infrastructure together. Combining these objectives makes sense.
I support using a portion of tax reform revenues to fund infrastructure investments. Infrastructure is a core duty of the federal government. Investments in infrastructure strengthen our economy, public safety, and national security.
But as we think about infrastructure package, we should avoid falling into the trap of stimulus-style spending for its own sake. States know best their own transportation needs, not the federal government. And there’s no need to create a new program that works for various transportation projects in urban and rural states. We already have one.
In 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and President Obama signed it into law. The FAST Act was the first long-term highway bill in a more than a decade. In it, Congress established a formula freight program that provides every state with annual, guaranteed funding. Because of the freight program, states will have greater flexibility to work with key stakeholders and local officials to develop long-term strategic investments in transportation.
The program funnels transportation funds to states and allows them to decide on their terms how to use it.
The only stipulation: projects must somehow be connected to enhancing freight transportation movements. Railway-highway grade separations, truck-only lanes, and highway or bridge projects are examples of possible uses.
By dedicating funding for rural and urban freight corridors, the program enhances the flow of commercial traffic and increases safety on our nation’s roads for all travelers.
The true beauty of this program is it offers states the opportunity make critical investments that best meet their specific geographic and infrastructure needs.
For example, Nebraska can elect to invest in a rail-grade crossing or a truck parking lot along a rural road.
At the same time, California could choose to invest in on-dock rail projects at our nation’s largest port complex, located just outside of Los Angeles. The national freight program works for all states, without leaving any behind.
The national freight policy also has robust bipartisan support. For example, I know my colleague and friend, Senator Cantwell, has been a strong proponent and advocate of the freight program.
As Congress and the Trump Administration work to address our nation’s infrastructure needs with revenue from tax reform, expanding the national freight program should be an idea on the table. I believe that it would be a wise investment in America’s future.
Along with investing in infrastructure, Congress must keep in mind how unintended regulatory consequences can impact our freight network. Whether it is a delay to a critical highway project or a new requirement that negatively alters the supply chain, burdensome regulations can hinder progress.
States need certainty and predictability when initiating key transportation projects. Transportation stakeholders in the private sector are constantly innovating to enhance efficiencies along the supply chain using real time data and novel technologies. There’s a real opportunity to work together and facilitate greater innovation across our nation’s transportation network.
I look forward to today’s discussion and how we can bolster our nation’s freight infrastructure.
I now turn to my colleague and Ranking Member Senator Cory Booker for his opening remarks.
As someone who has been interested in the wider field of criminal justice reform for many years, it’s a privilege to be able to make some common-sense reforms to strengthen our juvenile justice system and help get our children on the right track.
Ensuring young people grow into productive members of society is essential to building a strong and prosperous nation. But the reality is that all across America there are young people experiencing grim and challenging circumstances. Some are growing up in broken or abusive homes. Others have loving parents who are struggling to make ends meet. As a result, some kids fall into the wrong crowd or make a bad decision that drastically changes their lives.
There are more than 1 million kids currently involved in the juvenile justice system — an experience that can have devastating consequences for their futures. In fact, kids who have been incarcerated are 26 percent less likely to graduate from high school and up to 26 percent more likely to return to jail as adults.
In 1974, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was signed into law with the goal of helping state and local leaders improve their juvenile justice systems. These systems play an important role in helping young people develop the life skills they need to be successful. However, not all efforts have produced the same results, and the consequences can have negative effects on at-risk youth, their families, and the communities they live in.
We don’t live in a perfect society; and sometimes mistakes are made. But regardless of the circumstances surrounding a bad decision, every kid deserves the opportunity of a better path forward. Yet it’s been 15 years since the law to support these programs has been reformed. It’s long past time for Congress to update the law and ensure state and local leaders have the tools they need to develop effective juvenile justice programs.
That’s why I, along with my colleague and our Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), introduced the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017. This bipartisan legislation sets kids up for long-term success by providing state and local leaders the flexibility they need to help at-risk youth and improve public safety.
We want to help state and local leaders as they develop ways to enhance community engagement and keep kids out of the system. This bill does that by improving support for prevention services and requiring the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to prioritize what works — using evidence-based strategies and current, reliable data to help reduce juvenile delinquency.
H.R. 1809 also improves oversight and accountability — requiring the OJJDP to provide Congress with an accurate and transparent account of juvenile justice efforts going on across the nation. To help limit waste and fraud in the system, the bill requires the Department of Justice to assess whether or not juvenile justice programs are complying with the law, and enhances oversight of taxpayer dollars to ensure they are being used responsibly.
Making sure kids who find themselves in difficult life circumstances avoid a life of crime is a collaborative effort. It requires parents, teachers, and state and local leaders who are engaged in their communities and targeting support to the kids who need help the most. We must do everything we can to help them in this effort — ensuring more kids have the resources and acquire the skills they need to turn their lives around and grow into productive, successful members of society.
The substitute amendment I am offering makes minor technical changes to the underlying bill. I urge my colleagues to support the substitute, as well as the underlying legislation.
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