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Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The last time we discussed hurricanes in this committee was in May of 2016.

So, here we are with hurricane season nipping at our heels again. At the same time we’re still actively recovering from the busy and deadly 2017 season.

Today, we’re going to examine what’s gone wrong, what’s gone right and what can be done better.

And as we’re all very well aware, there are some areas where we can and must do better.

Delays by FEMA to reimburse local governments have been completely unacceptable.

Local governments are financially struggling to recover from Hurricane Irma, while at the same time still waiting for funds related to Hurricane Matthew and Hermine, which hit Florida over sixteen months ago.   

Six months after Hurricane Irma, some counties have yet to see a dime of the FEMA reimbursements they were promised.

Our communities are cash-strapped and in need of federal funds in order to continue their recovery efforts and prepare for the upcoming hurricane season less than two months away. They can’t do that the way things are currently going.

Florida’s citrus farmers, too, need to make decisions about harvesting and planting, but they’re still waiting for the USDA to allocate the over two billion dollars Congress provided in February.

And the two hundred million dollars we appropriated to address fishery disasters and the eighteen million dollars to address the canals littered with debris in places like the Florida Keys is sitting at the Department of Treasury as NOAA’s plan to get it out the door awaits approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

This funding was intended to help people, not to be mired in a sea of bureaucratic red tape.

Or, take the Army Corps of Engineers, who have reportedly been moving workers out of Puerto Rico before power is fully restored. 

Suffice to say, we can do better. And we must.

That’s why we’ve asked to hear directly from both folks who are on the ground and those who head agencies here in Washington that are involved in hurricane assistance, recovery and preparedness efforts.

First, I’d like to welcome a couple of our witnesses from Florida.

Chuck Lindsey is the city manager for Marathon, Florida—a city working to return to normalcy after Hurricane Irma slammed into the Florida Keys.  Welcome, Chuck.

Jennifer Pipa is a regional chief executive officer of the Red Cross and lives in Tampa. Jennifer deployed to Houston following Hurricane Harvey—then one week later to Florida for Irma response—and then to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.  It’s certainly rare that we have someone before us who witnessed the devastation in all three locations and played a key role in delivering disaster relief.  Ms. Pipa, we look forward to hearing from you.

I’m also anxious to hear from Admiral Gallaudet on NOAA’s next steps now that Congress has given the agency the funding to purchase a Hurricane Hunter replacement jet.  

And finally, I want to hear from NTSB Board Member Bella Dinh-Zarr about any progress that’s been made to implement recommendations stemming from the investigation into the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship, which tragically was lost during Hurricane Joaquin in 2015. 

Rochelle Hamm is in the audience today to honor her husband Frank’s memory – an El Faro crew member.  Since his death, Mrs. Hamm and the other El Faro families have left no stone unturned to improve maritime safety.

Like the families, I too think we need to do a better job of making sure ships have access to the most up-to-date weather information, they have the best lifeboats and lifesaving equipment and that vessels are properly inspected.  

Welcome, Ms. Hamm. 

Thank you to our witnesses.  And thank you to Chairman Thune and to Senator Wicker for holding this very important hearing. With that, I’ll turn it over to our local impact panel.

Connecting Small Businesses with their Communities

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, Members of the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations heard from a panel of experts on entrepreneurial development and the interdependent relationship between a community and small businesses.

“With 29.6 million small businesses employing 47.8 percent of the workforce, small business success is essential to the economic well-being of both individual communities throughout the country as well as our nation overall.  While there are many factors that contribute to the success of a small business, one factor that is often overlooked is the community-small business relationship,” said Subcommittee Chairman Trent Kelly (R-MS).

The Community-Small Business Relationship

At the hearing, the panel agreed that while the programs provided by the Small Business Administration are critically important, just as important is the entrepreneurial environment of the local economy. When coupled together, not only will small businesses prosper, the whole community will.

 “I believe that building the infrastructure to support the development of entrepreneurship is well within the means of every community in America - be it large or small,” stated Mr. Ara Bagdasarian, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Office of Omnilert, LLC, in Leesburg, VA, testifying on behalf of America’s SBDC’s. “Once this framework is built, an entrepreneurial ecosystem will develop and flourish incrementally.”

“Our innovative work provides a critical piece of Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem, showing what’s possible when people work together towards a common goal…. Every day, MORTAR shows Cincinnatians and other communities what’s possible when you invest in previously underestimated entrepreneurs,” said Mr. Derrick Braziel, Founding Partner and Managing Director of MORTAR, in Cincinnati, OH, testifying on behalf of SCORE.

“…[A] strong community helps identify new opportunities. Every business, whether five minutes or five generations old, is seeking new opportunities. A community that understands your business and its offerings is incredibly helpful in spotlighting business development,” stated Ms. Stephanie Carter, President of SCB Management Consulting in Upper Marlboro, MD, testifying on behalf of the Association of Women’s Business Centers.

Click here to read full testimonies, and here to watch the hearing.

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Asbestos-Liability-Suit Judges Should Beware Plaintiffs’ Expert’s “Notice” Testimony

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:48pm
Featured Expert Contributor, Mass Torts—Asbestos Robert H. Wright, a Partner with Horvitz & Levy LLP in Los Angeles, CA Anyone involved in asbestos litigation has come across the work of Barry Castleman.  By his own account, Castleman has testified for plaintiffs as an expert witness in over 400 trials in asbestos cases discussing the medical …

Continue reading Asbestos-Liability-Suit Judges Should Beware Plaintiffs’ Expert’s “Notice” Testimony

Categories: Latest News

Nomination Hearing

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, to consider two presidential nominees.

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

Witnesses:

  • Patrick J. Fuchs, of Wisconsin, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board
  • Michelle A. Schultz, of Pennsylvania, to be a Member of the Surface Transportation Board

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, April 11, 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.

The State of Trade for America’s Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:00am

The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “The State of Trade for America’s Small Businesses.”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building

The hearing will examine the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program and the federal government’s overall efforts to increase small business exports.  Additionally, the Committee will explore recent trade policy developments and their impact on America’s small business exporters.  Increasing small business exports continues to be a top priority for both United States lawmakers and the federal government.  While nearly 300,000 small businesses are currently exporting to foreign markets, many small businesses face significant challenges in getting their goods and services abroad.  The Committee will hear from small businesses and technology service experts on how proposed changes to the tariff schedule and stronger enforcement strategies will impact American manufacturers and service-oriented small businesses.

Attachments
1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List 


Witnesses
Mr. Charles Wetherington
President
BTE Technologies, Inc.
Hanover, MD
* Testifying on behalf of National Association of Manufacturers

Mr. Ken Couch
Director of Product Management and International Business Development
ComSonics, Inc.
Harrisonburg, VA
* Testifying on behalf of State International Development Organizations, Inc.

Mr. Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Vienna, VA

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Mr. Chairman, let me also extend my warm welcome to the three nominees we have here today for positions on two critical independent agencies.

Last month, we had a hearing for four of the nominees to the Federal Trade Commission, and I am pleased that we finally have the fifth nominee to the agency – Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. Ms. Slaughter gave birth to a daughter, Pippa, not nine days ago. 

The FTC is a small agency with a critical mandate – protecting consumers from “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”  

They go after robocallers that harass consumers and boiler room scams that try to rip off seniors.

In addition, they make sure that multi-billion-dollar tech companies protect personal data and ensure that they follow their privacy policies regarding the sharing of that data.

Sadly, as we heard at yesterday’s hearing with Facebook, protecting privacy does not always happen.  And the consequences of that can be grave.

Thankfully, we have a nominee here today that is up to addressing this herculean task.

Ms. Slaughter currently serves as chief counsel to Minority Leader Schumer.  In that position, she has served as his trusted advisor on antitrust, technology, privacy and consumer protection issues.

The Surface Transportation Board is also a vital independent agency that helps ensure we have a strong and efficient rail network to move freight throughout the United States.

This sixty billion industry dollar that generates more than two hundred thousand jobs moves more freight than any other freight rail system in the world. 

As we know all too well in the state of Florida, the railroad industry is an important part of our economy. 

Without reliable and cost-effective rail service, my state and our nation would not be able to compete in the global market.  

Our rail network also serves an important role by providing passenger rail service. Such service requires good on-time performance so that people can get to where they need to be when they need to be there. 

In Florida, we are striving to restore passenger service along the Gulf Coast. Since Hurricane Katrina, there has been no passenger rail service along the coast. 

This critical service would improve accessibility for more than two million residents between Louisiana and Florida that includes a growing senior population. 

It also would benefit tourism and the economy for towns and cities along the Florida Panhandle.

At some point, the Surface Transportation Board may need to weigh in on Gulf Coast passenger service, and I hope the witnesses today recognize the importance of that rail service. 

To both the nominees for the Surface Transportation Board, I appreciate your willingness to serve in these critical transportation positions. 

I particularly want to thank Patrick Fuchs for his work on Chairman Thune’s side of the Commerce Committee.

Mr. Fuchs has been an important partner in helping to establish bipartisan freight and passenger rail legislation. His questionnaire notes that his nickname is Paco. 

His assistance during the FAST Act helped to establish the first passenger rail reauthorization in a surface transportation bill.

And I now look forward to hearing from the witnesses and our Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Mr. Chairman, let me also extend my warm welcome to the three nominees we have here today for positions on two critical independent agencies.

Last month, we had a hearing for four of the nominees to the Federal Trade Commission, and I am pleased that we finally have the fifth nominee to the agency – Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. Ms. Slaughter gave birth to a daughter, Pippa, not nine days ago.

The FTC is a small agency with a critical mandate – protecting consumers from “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” 

They go after robocallers that harass consumers and boiler room scams that try to rip off seniors.

In addition, they make sure that multi-billion-dollar tech companies protect personal data and ensure that they follow their privacy policies regarding the sharing of that data.

Sadly, as we heard at yesterday’s hearing with Facebook, protecting privacy does not always happen.  And the consequences of that can be grave.

Thankfully, we have a nominee here today that is up to addressing this herculean task.

Ms. Slaughter currently serves as chief counsel to Minority Leader Schumer.  In that position, she has served as his trusted advisor on antitrust, technology, privacy and consumer protection issues.

The Surface Transportation Board is also a vital independent agency that helps ensure we have a strong and efficient rail network to move freight throughout the United States.

This sixty billion industry dollar that generates more than two hundred thousand jobs moves more freight than any other freight rail system in the world.

As we know all too well in the state of Florida, the railroad industry is an important part of our economy.

Without reliable and cost-effective rail service, my state and our nation would not be able to compete in the global market. 

Our rail network also serves an important role by providing passenger rail service. Such service requires good on-time performance so that people can get to where they need to be when they need to be there.

In Florida, we are striving to restore passenger service along the Gulf Coast. Since Hurricane Katrina, there has been no passenger rail service along the coast.

This critical service would improve accessibility for more than two million residents between Louisiana and Florida that includes a growing senior population.

It also would benefit tourism and the economy for towns and cities along the Florida Panhandle.

At some point, the Surface Transportation Board may need to weigh in on Gulf Coast passenger service, and I hope the witnesses today recognize the importance of that rail service.

To both the nominees for the Surface Transportation Board, I appreciate your willingness to serve in these critical transportation positions.

I particularly want to thank Patrick Fuchs for his work on Chairman Thune’s side of the Commerce Committee.

Mr. Fuchs has been an important partner in helping to establish bipartisan freight and passenger rail legislation. His questionnaire notes that his nickname is TACO.

His assistance during the FAST Act helped to establish the first passenger rail reauthorization in a surface transportation bill.

And I now look forward to hearing from the witnesses and our Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

<p>Good morning. Today we welcome three

Good morning. Today we welcome three well-qualified nominees to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee.

The nominees before us today have been nominated to two important independent agencies, Becca Slaughter to be a Commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, and Michelle Schultz and Patrick Fuchs, to be Members of the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

Thank you Ms. Slaughter, Ms. Shultz, and Mr. Fuchs for your willingness to serve, and thank you to your families for your presence today. I also want to congratulate Ms. Slaughter on the most recent addition to her family, a little girl who was born only last week.

The FTC oversees competition and consumer protection across large segments of the U.S. economy. Congress originally created the FTC as an independent agency in 1914 to address the problem of monopolies and trusts, but its role has evolved to include its modern day consumer protection mission, a mission that will likely continue to grow, as new technologies emerge in the 21st century the marketplace.

Ms. Slaughter has been nominated to become a Commissioner at the FTC. She is a graduate of Yale College as well as Yale Law School, and the majority of her career has been right here on Capitol Hill working for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Throughout her time on Capitol Hill she has developed a reputation as a talented staffer with an ability to work across the aisle. This will serve her well at the FTC.

The STB is responsible for the regulatory oversight of our nation’s freight rail network. In states like South Dakota, where farmers and businesses depend on rail service to get their products to market, the STB plays a critical role in ensuring access to reliable and efficient rail service for large and small shippers alike.

Ms. Shultz is an exceptionally well-qualified nominee for the STB, having worked at the Southern Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, for the past 11 years.

She currently serves as Deputy General Counsel and, in that role, is responsible for advising SEPTA on complex regulatory, statutory, and administrative law matters at the local, state, and federal level. Relevant to this Committee, Ms. Shultz provided guidance to the U.S. Senate on compliance issues involving the federal mandate for Positive Train Control implementation for public passenger transportation.

Finally, Patrick Fuchs has served an invaluable role as a Senior Professional Staff Member for me on this Committee for over three years.

His extensive knowledge of the transportation industry, especially with respect to rail operations, as well as his insight into the legislative process, has been instrumental to the Committee’s work.

During his time serving this Committee, Patrick drafted and played a critical role in the successful passage of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act, the first reauthorization of the Board since its creation.

The bill included important changes for agricultural producers and businesses, establishing the STB as a fully independent agency, directing the STB to set shorter timelines for reviewing rate cases, and providing the agency with the ability to proactively resolve problems before they escalate into larger disputes by conducting investigations on the agency's own initiative. The Act also sought to promote collaboration among the Board Members by allowing them to discuss agency matters with one another with proper disclosure.

Patrick was also instrumental in drafting many other important pieces of legislation, including the FAST Act and the first passenger rail reauthorization in over seven years. Prior to working on the Committee, Patrick served as a policy analyst on transportation and security matters at the Office of Management and Budget.

Those of us who have had the opportunity to work with Patrick have seen first-hand how incredibly capable and talented he is.

I am confident that the Surface Transportation Board will be extremely well-served by Patrick’s experience, expertise, and dedication, and, while we will certainly miss his hard work on the Commerce Committee, I know he is looking forward to serving on the STB.

As I’ve noted, all three of these nominees are exceptionally well-qualified to serve the nation in the positions to which they have been nominated. They have all demonstrated their dedication to working on the important issues facing our country, and I look forward to their swift confirmation.

Once again, I would like to thank you all for testifying today and for your willingness to fill these important posts.

I will now turn to Ranking Member Nelson for any opening remarks.

Chabot Pushes for Comprehensive Package of Small Business Bills in FY19 NDAA

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) addressed Members of the House Armed Services Committee on behalf of America’s 30 million small businesses and pushed for 13 bipartisan bills to be included in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“I am here today to support the inclusion of thirteen small business bills in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.  Each of them is critical to ensuring a robust defense industrial base…

“Our nation demands a vital small business industrial base:  it is fundamental to the health of our nation as a whole.  I am grateful to the Armed Services Committee for its collaboration with the Small Business Committee and I look forward to working with you to ensure that small businesses continue to provide the Department of Defense and the federal government with competitive solutions that support critical programs.”

The Committee on Small Business has delivered a wide range of small business bills to be included in the FY19 NDAA. Some of these provisions include the increased use of research and development programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs; urging of the federal government and private sector to work together to combat cyber threats that harm small businesses; and the reducing of regulation and red tape to increase access to capital. 

The State of Trade for America’s Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and the House Committee on Small Business heard from a panel of stakeholders on the state of international trade for America’s 30 million small businesses.

“We must do more to make it easier for small businesses to engage in foreign markets. About one percent of United States small businesses export—around 300,000 of them and, in 2016, exports reached 2.2 trillion dollars and supported nearly 11.5 million jobs,” said Chairman Chabot.

“Simply put, trade means opportunity for small business. After all, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of our borders, and I have long believed that if we tear down trade barriers, we can make it easier for small businesses to participate in the global marketplace and unleash one of the largest sectors of the American economy. “

Tariffs, Trade, and Technology

At the hearing, witnesses agreed that there is little doubt that the United States needs to negotiate better trade deals—agreements that not only make American small business more competitive but also fair for American workers. Stronger and more easily enforceable trade agreements means businesses will create and sell more products, drive up wages, increase benefits, and generate more jobs. Increased access to international markets strengthens the American economy.

“Some of the challenges small businesses face are similar to larger businesses, including tariffs and other market access barriers, lack of transparency, discriminatory policies and weak protection of intellectual property,” said Mr. Chuck Weatherington, President of BTE Technologies, Inc. in Hanover, MD, testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers. “We need open markets and strong, enforceable agreements that eliminate barriers and set in place strong rules to promote fairness.”

“One of the most significant barriers to success in international business is the investment of resources without any known return. Companies often do not have the needed funds or they are unwilling to take the investment risk,” stated Mr. Ken Couch, Director of Product Management at ComSonics, Inc. in Harrisonburg, VA, testifying on behalf of the State International Development Organizations (SIDO).

“It is important to start out on a foundational point, i.e., that free international trade amounts to a significant plus for the economy, consumers and small businesses. In fact, the net benefits of free trade are one of the very few points upon which most economists agree,” said Mr. Raymond J. Keating, Chief Economist at the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, in Vienna, VA. “Free trade reduces costs through enhanced competition and lower trade barriers; expands choices and lowers prices for consumers; keeps U.S. firms competitive; opens new markets and opportunities for U.S. goods and services; expands economic freedom; and feeds economic growth.”

Committee Members agreed that trade is not a choice or a luxury in our modern world. It is a necessity. If the United States wants to continue to be a global economic powerhouse, small businesses need to have every opportunity to engage in global commerce.

Click here to watch full hearing, and here to read full testimony.

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2018 Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories

Office of Advocacy - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 3:12pm

COMING SOON

The Office of Advocacy’s Small Business Profiles are an annual analysis of each state’s small business activities. Each profile gathers the latest information from key federal data-gathering agencies to provide a snapshot of small business health and economic activity. This year’s profiles report on state economic growth and employment; small business employment, industry composition, and turnover; plus business owner demographics and county-level employment change. 

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Committee Announces Hearing for Coast Guard Commandant Nominee

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) will convene a nomination hearing at 10:00 a.m. onTuesday, April 17, 2018 to consider the presidents nomination for Coast Guard Commandant.

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

Witness:

  • Vice Admiral Karl L. Schultz to be promoted to Admiral and to be Commandant of the United States Coast Guard

Hearing Details:

Thursday, April 17, 2018
10:00 a.m.
Full Committee 

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Let me get to the point, one that I made to Mr. Zuckerberg yesterday during our lengthy conversation in my office.  If Facebook and other social media and online companies don’t do a better job as stewards of our personal information, American consumers are no longer going to have any privacy to protect. 

From the minute consumers wake up to the minute they put down their smartphone at the end of the day, online companies like Facebook are tracking their activities and collecting information.  Facebook has a responsibility to protect this personal information.

Unfortunately, I believe that the company failed to do so.  This is not the first time that Facebook has mishandled its users’ information.  The Federal Trade Commission found that Facebook’s privacy policies had deceived users in the past.

In the present case, I recognize that Cambridge Analytica and an app developer lied to consumers and lied to Facebook.  But did Facebook watch over their operations?  And why didn’t Facebook notify eighty-seven million users when it discovered that Cambridge Analytica had inappropriately gotten hold of their sensitive information and was using it for unauthorized political purposes?

Only now has Facebook pledged to inform those consumers whose accounts were compromised.  I know Mr. Zuckerberg wants to do the right thing and enact reforms, but will it be enough?  I hope to get some answers today.

Lastly, we still don’t know exactly what Cambridge Analytica has done with this data.  That’s why I have asked Chairman Thune to haul Cambridge Analytica in to answer these questions at a separate hearing.  I want to thank the chairman for working with me on scheduling a hearing in the near future.

There is obviously a great deal of interest in this subject, and I hope that we can get to the bottom line.  That is, if Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix these privacy invasions, then we will. How can American consumers trust them to be caretakers of their most personal and identifiable information?

Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data

WASHINGTON – Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Senate Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will convene a hearing titled “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data,” at 2:15 p.m. on April 10, 2018, in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center.

“Facebook now plays a critical role in many social relationships, informing Americans about current events, and pitching everything from products to political candidates,” said Thune. “Our joint hearing will be a public conversation with the CEO of this powerful and influential company about his vision for addressing problems that have generated significant concern about Facebook’s role in our democracy, bad actors using the platform, and user privacy.”  

“Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate, using data to connect people from around the world.  With all of the data exchanged over Facebook and other platforms, users deserve to know how their information is shared and secured. This hearing will explore approaches to privacy that satisfy consumer expectations while encouraging innovation,” Grassley said.


Witnesses: 

  • Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer, Facebook

Joint Hearing Details:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 
2:15 p.m. 
Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Capitol Visitor Center Room HVC-210

Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov and www.judiciary.senate.gov.

<p>Today&rsquo;s hearing is

Today’s hearing is extraordinary.

It’s extraordinary to hold a joint committee hearing.

It’s even more extraordinary for a single CEO to testify before nearly half the U.S. Senate.

But then, Facebook is pretty extraordinary.

More than two billion people use Facebook every month.

1.4 billion people use it every day – more than the population of any country on Earth except China, and more than four times the population of the United States.

It’s also more than fifteen hundred times the population of my home state of South Dakota.

Plus, roughly 45 percent of American adults report getting at least some of their news from Facebook.

In many respects, Facebook’s incredible reach is why we’re here today.

We’re here because of what you, Mr. Zuckerberg, have described as a breach of trust.

A quiz app used by approximately 300,000 people led to information about 87 million Facebook users being obtained by the company Cambridge Analytica.

There are plenty of questions about the behavior of Cambridge Analytica, and we expect to hold a future hearing on Cambridge and similar firms.

But as you’ve said, this is not likely to be an isolated incident—a fact demonstrated by Facebook’s suspension of another firm just this past weekend.

You’ve promised that, when Facebook discovers other apps that had access to large amounts of user data, you will ban them and tell those affected.

That’s appropriate. But it’s unlikely to be enough for the two billion Facebook users.

One reason so many people are worried about this incident is what is says about how Facebook works.

The idea that—for every one person who decided to try an app—information about nearly 300 other people was scraped from your service is, to put it mildly, disturbing.

And the fact that those 87 million people may have technically consented to making their data available doesn’t make most people feel any better.

The recent revelation that malicious actors were able to utilize Facebook’s default privacy settings to match email addresses and phone numbers found on the so-called “Dark Web” to public Facebook profiles – potentially affecting all Facebook users – only adds fuel to the fire.

What binds these two incidents is that they don’t appear to be caused by the kind of negligence that allows typical data breaches to happen.

Instead, they both appear to be the result of people exploiting the very tools you’ve created to manipulate users’ information.

I know Facebook has taken several steps – and intends to take more – to address these issues.

Nevertheless, some have warned that the actions Facebook is taking to ensure third parties don’t obtain data from unsuspecting users – while necessary – will actually serve to enhance Facebook’s own ability to market such data exclusively.

Most of us understand that – whether we’re using Facebook or Google or other online services – we are trading certain information about ourselves for free or low-cost services.

But for this model to persist, both sides of the bargain need to know the stakes involved.

Right now, I’m not convinced that Facebook’s users have the information they need to make meaningful choices.

In the past, many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been willing to defer to tech companies’ efforts to regulate themselves. But this may be changing.

Just last month, in overwhelming bipartisan fashion, Congress voted to make it easier for prosecutors and victims to go after websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking.

This should be a wake-up call for the tech community.

We want to hear more – without delay – about what Facebook and other companies plan to do to take greater responsibility for what happens on their platforms.

How will you protect users’ data?

How will you inform users about the changes you are making?

And how do you intend to proactively stop harmful conduct, instead of being forced to respond to it months or years later?

Mr. Zuckerberg, in many ways you and the company you’ve created represent the American Dream. Many are incredibly inspired by what you’ve done. At the same time, you have an obligation to ensure that dream doesn’t become a nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook.

This hearing is an opportunity to speak to those who believe in Facebook and those who are deeply skeptical about it.

We are listening.

America is listening.

And, quite possibly, the world is listening too.

Chabot Applauds Announcement of a Women’s Business Center in Cincinnati

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 12:00am
Cincinnati, OH – Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) made the following statement today regarding the announcement that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is opening a Women’s Business Center in Cincinnati:

“The announcement that the SBA is opening a Women’s Business Center in Cincinnati is tremendous news. Women-owned small businesses have had a remarkable impact on our nation’s economy. With an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses employing nearly 9 million Americans, it’s impossible to ignore the role these businesses play in creating jobs and growing our communities. Not surprisingly, women-owned small businesses have grown at a rate 2.5 times faster than the national average over the last decade. But, we still have a ways to go before our economy benefits from the full potential that women business owners could provide.

“And that’s where the SBA’s Women’s Business Centers come in. Through advocacy, education and outreach, Women’s Business Centers help women entrepreneurs navigate the various challenges they face when starting and growing their businesses. Now, and in the coming years, more women business owners here in Cincinnati will be able to take advantage of these resources and utilize them to continue to create and grow their businesses, while bolstering the local economy.”


The U.S. Small Business Administration announced on April 5 that it is partnering with the non-profit Economic and Community Development Institute, Inc. to develop and administer a new Women’s Business Center to be located in Cincinnati.

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Chairman Chabot Applauds Administration’s Memo to Improve Inefficient Permitting Reviews

House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), released the following statement on the Administration’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expedite infrastructure project approvals.

“Small businesses and contractors across America can now breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing that this Administration continues to work on their behalf. For too long the burden of federal permitting has cast a shadow on entrepreneurs, small contractors, and innovators. I applaud the White House and the corresponding federal agencies for putting hard working Americans first. Streamlined decision-making for infrastructure projects are key to rebuilding our nation and allowing for a healthier small business economy.”

The Committee on Small Business recently held a hearing examining excessive federal permitting requirements and the burden it has on small businesses. Click here to watch the hearing, and here to read testimony. 

Additionally, the Committee will be holding further hearings in the coming weeks on American infrastructure and the small business perspective. 

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