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Guthrie Statement: Markup of H.R. 1808, the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act of 2017

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 10:20am

I have three children, and my wife and I work very hard to ensure they are safe and taken care of. Their wellbeing has always been our top concern, and I can only imagine what a nightmare it must be to have your child taken from you or to learn that they have been abused, exploited, or taken advantage of. Sadly, last year alone, there were more than 465,000 reports of missing children. And those were just the cases that were actually reported.

Fortunately, as a country, we have long made looking out for these children a priority — coming together at the local, state, and federal level to provide support for children in need. That’s exactly what Congress did in 1984 when it established the Missing and Exploited Children’s program. The program helps coordinate various state and local efforts to recover children who are missing and protect and support kids who are the victims of abuse and exploitation.

As part of the program, we provide a grant that supports the work of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC. For more than 30 years, NCMEC has worked with parents, law enforcement, non-profits, and various public and private entities to provide the help and support many children across the country desperately need.

In fact, NCMEC assisted with approximately 21,000 of the 465,000 reports of missing children last year. Of the cases NCMEC assisted with, 90 percent were endangered runaways, and roughly one in six of those children were likely victims of child sex trafficking. It’s horrible to think that there is a need for this kind of assistance in our country — but there is, and NCMEC continues to play an important role in a critical national effort.

Today, NCMEC operates a number of initiatives to recover, protect, and support missing and exploited children. The organization operates a 24-hour call center and a CyberTipline — both of which provide a way for individuals to report and respond to cases of missing children. NCMEC also manages a nationwide database for cases of missing children and offers technical assistance to law enforcement, criminal and juvenile justice professionals, as well as healthcare experts to get missing and abused children the care they need. The organization is also involved in a wide range of other state and local efforts — both public and private — that help vulnerable children in various ways.

This is important work, and we are here today to ensure it continues. The bill before us will update and streamline the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, making changes that will enable NCMEC to strengthen its efforts.

That includes encouraging and increasing public awareness of new and innovative ways to recover and protect missing and exploited children, as well as efforts to better protect the growing number of children who go missing from state care and those who are victims of sex trafficking.

The legislation will also help NCMEC improve the assistance it provides in identifying and locating abductors, criminal offenders, and missing children. It will help prevent children from becoming the victims of exploitation online, and it will provide transparency surrounding recovery and prevention efforts.

I cannot imagine any of my children ever being put in harm’s way. Sadly, it’s a harsh reality facing many families and children today. With this bipartisan proposal, we can help ensure missing and exploited children and their families have the help they need.

I’d like to thank Representative Courtney and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their help in delivering these important reforms.

The substitute amendment I am offering makes technical and clarifying changes to the underlying bill. I urge all of my colleagues to support the substitute, as well as the underlying legislation.

Foxx Statement: Markup of H.R. 1808 and H.R. 1809

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 10:00am

Today, we will consider two pieces of legislation: the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act. These bipartisan bills are different in policy but share a similar purpose.

One streamlines a law that provides support for missing and exploited children. The other makes reforms to assist at-risk youth and juvenile offenders. But both renew a commitment we have made to help and protect our most vulnerable children.

Over the years, much has been done to make good on that commitment. Families, law enforcement, teachers, community leaders, and policymakers have worked together to protect children from harm and promote safe communities where they can grow into productive members of society.

The amount of time, effort, resources, and passion these men and women devote to helping others is inspiring. They are making a real difference in the lives of countless children, young adults, parents, and families across the country. Still, no organization or individual can do it alone. That’s where we come in.

For years, the federal government has played an important role in helping state and local leaders help and support vulnerable children. However, more can be done to strengthen and improve those efforts.

In 1974, Congress passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to coordinate the federal government’s efforts to improve state juvenile justice systems, help state and local leaders serve at-risk youth, and promote safe communities — all with a focus on education and rehabilitation. Every child deserves the opportunity to achieve success in life, and sometimes that involves a second chance to pursue a better path. Thanks in large part to this law, many young men and women have been given that second chance and have turned their lives around.

Another law, the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, has helped a different group of vulnerable youth. Passed by Congress and signed by President Reagan in 1984, this law created the Missing and Exploited Children’s program. The program includes a grant to aid in efforts to find children who are missing and protect youth who are the victims of sexual exploitation. For more than 30 years, that grant has helped support the work of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. NCMEC — as it’s commonly known — is a unique public-private partnership that works with families, law enforcement, schools, community leaders, and nonprofits to build a national response to crises and crimes affecting vulnerable children across the country.

At a committee hearing just a few weeks ago, I read from remarks President Ronald Reagan made at the opening of NCMEC. I think it’s worth restating that quote today. Not only does it perfectly sum up the importance of the collaborative nature of NCMEC’s work, but I think the idea also holds true for juvenile justice efforts as well.

As President Reagan said:

“No single sector of our nation can solve the problem of missing and exploited children alone. But by working together, pooling our resources, and building on our strengths, we can accomplish great things … Together, we can turn the tide on these hateful crimes.”

We are here today because we worked together — Republicans and Democrats — to put forward bipartisan solutions that will help honor and improve upon our commitment to help at-risk youth, juvenile offenders, and missing and exploited children.

I want to thank Ranking Member Scott — as well as Representatives Lewis, Guthrie, and Courtney — for their leadership in delivering these bipartisan reforms. Because of their work, we have two proposals before us today that together will help promote safe communities, protect some of our nation’s most vulnerable, and help ensure all children have opportunities to succeed.

Senators Urge DOT to Reverse Rule Delay Affecting Disabled Vets

WASHINGTON – Eight Democratic members of the Senate Commerce Committee today urged the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reverse a one-year delay of a rule requiring airlines to track and report mishandled wheelchair and motorized scooters.

The rule, which was put in place last fall under the Obama administration and set to take effect in January 2018, was strongly supported by several veterans and disability rights groups, such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).  The groups say the rules were needed because wheelchairs and motorized scooters were increasing being damaged during air travel, leaving some disabled without mobility and responsible for repair costs once they reached their final destination.

“The government should be tending to the needs of injured and disabled veterans, not ignoring their concerns,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who organized today’s letter to DOT.  “It makes no sense why the airlines aren’t being held more accountable for mishandled and damaged wheelchairs.”

Last November, the DOT finalized the rule and required that monthly reports on wheelchair and scooter damage be submitted beginning on January 1, 2018.   Last month, the department reversed course and gave the airlines an additional year to comply with the rule.

Senators joining Nelson on the letter include: Maria Cantwell of Washington; Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; Brian Schatz of Hawaii; Edward Markey of Massachusetts; Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; and, Margaret Hassan of New Hampshire.

Attached is a pdf copy of the lawmakers’ letter.  Below is a recent release from the Paralyzed Veterans of America.



Paralyzed Veterans of America Expresses Grave Concerns for Disabled Air Travelers

DOT Delays Requirement of US Airlines to Report Wheelchair and Scooter Enplanements and Damage

March 2017

WASHINGTON, DC—This week, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) members have been on Capitol Hill to discuss with Congressional members the organization’s 2017 legislative priorities.

This advocacy effort included educating lawmakers on the damage that people with disabilities and their wheelchairs encounter on a regular basis during air travel. Paralyzed Veterans’ broader efforts on this initiative were challenged, as the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced it will delay by one year the implementation of a rule that would require large domestic airlines to track and report information about wheelchairs and scooters.

“Paralyzed Veterans of America has grave concerns over the delay of this key component to providing disabled travelers with basic civil rights,” said Executive Director Sherman Gillums. “Our members are tired of incurring damage to their persons and wheelchairs when they travel by air, only to be caught in a web of inconvenient reporting and bureaucracy that results in little to no restitution. The information this new reporting will track plays an important role in protecting the health of our members and identifying additional training needed across the air travel industry.”

As originally published, airlines would be required to provide DOT with information on the total number of wheelchairs and scooters they enplane on a monthly basis for flights taking place on or after January 1, 2018. Airlines would also need to report how many of those wheelchairs and scooters were “mishandled.” Paralyzed Veterans originally submitted comments in response to DOT’s proposed rule on this issue in 2011.

DOT took this action in response to a request from airlines to delay the implementation of the regulation in the spirit of a memorandum issued by the White House Chief of Staff on January 20. In part, that memorandum directed agencies to delay for 60 days the effective date of published regulations that had not yet taken effect.

“This memorandum was not specifically directed at this type of final rule, which had already been under consideration for several years, and became effective in December 2016,” continued Gillums. “At the very least, DOT should have formally requested comments from all stakeholders prior to granting this extension that only further delays the collection of this critical information.”

Paralyzed Veterans will continue to raise our concerns about DOT’s actions on this and other regulatory matters impacting veterans with disabilities in air travel.

“Sandoz v. Amgen”: High Court to Weigh in on Biosimilars’ “Patent Dance”

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 12:41pm
Featured Expert Contributor – Intellectual Property (Patents) Jeffri A. Kaminski, Partner, Venable LLP, with Tyler Hale, Associate, Venable LLP. In 1984, Congress passed the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act, commonly known as the Hatch-Waxman Act, and redrew the legal landscape for intellectual property in the pharmaceutical industry.  The law balanced the need […]
Categories: Latest News

Commerce Announces Legislative Markup for April 5

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, April 5th at 10:00 a.m.

Blunt to Convene Hearing on Rural Air Service

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, will convene a hearing on Thursday, April 6, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. titled “FAA Reauthorization: Perspectives on Rural Air Service and the General Aviation Community.”

IRS Requests Comments on a Proposed Revenue Procedure for Requesting Consent to Change a Method of Accounting

Office of Advocacy - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 11:57am

On March 28, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice inviting comments on a proposed revenue procedure on changes in accounting.  If finalized, the new revenue procedure will allow a taxpayer to request consent to change a method of accounting for recognizing income when the change is made for the same taxable year for which the taxpayer adopts the new financial accounting revenue recognition standards.

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Eye Drops, Water Fountains for Cats, and the Demise of a No-Injury Class Action

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 03/31/2017 - 8:45am
In creating the federal judicial branch, the Framers of the US Constitution did not intend that courts would right every possible wrong. Article III authorizes federal courts to resolve “Cases” and “Controversies.” The US Supreme Court has interpreted that power to mean that civil-litigation plaintiffs must prove they suffered an “injury in fact,” which is […]
Categories: Latest News

Hurricane Hunter Backup Bill Passes Senate

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday requiring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to have reliable backups available for Hurricane Hunter aircraft. 

The provision, sought by Florida Senator Bill Nelson, comes in the wake of an incident last year when the jet NOAA uses to gather hurricane measurements was forced to land for an emergency corrosion repair during a Hurricane Hermine reconnaissance mission.  The Gulfstream G-IV was grounded for several days, forcing NOAA to scramble to find a temporary replacement.

“When it comes to protecting lives and property, we can’t afford to go without the Hurricane Hunters,” Nelson said following the passage of the measure.  “We need to have a backup plan in place and I’m hopeful we’ll have one in time for hurricane season.” 

NOAA maintains a fleet of three aircraft currently based at MacDill Air Force Base that are designed to fly in and around hurricanes and tropical storms.   The fleet include two P3 propeller aircraft, known as Miss Piggy and Kermit, that fly into storms, but only the one Gulfstream jet, known as Gonzo, can reach the altitudes necessary to get above storms.   The measurements taken by Hurricane Hunters are essential to weather forecasters.  The data is used track and measure the intensity of powerful storms.   On May 1, the Hurricane Hunter fleet is slated to move from Tampa to Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport.

Nelson’s Hurricane Hunter provision was included in a broader weather bill (HR 353).  The legislation now goes to the House for its consideration. 

Below is the text of Sen. Nelson’s statement for the Congressional Record and a summary of the Senate passed legislation.




Mr. NELSON  - Mr. President, for years, I have been working to make sure that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reliable tools to forecast hurricanes. And today, the Senate has come together on legislation to get us closer to that goal.  In May 2016, just before the start of hurricane season, the Commerce Committee held a hearing on preparedness.  At that hearing, I asked the then-Director of the National Hurricane Center, Dr. Rick Knabb, about the fact that NOAA has two P3 propeller aircraft that fly into the storm, but only the one Gulfstream jet that can fly high enough and long enough to get above the storm. Flying above the storm is critical because the scientists drop sondes out of the belly of the aircraft that fall through the storm sending measurements of the entire vertical profile. This is vital to telling us where the storm is headed and whether it is weakening or strengthening.

Having only one Gulfstream is a single-point-of-failure because if the plane is out of commission, we don’t have a backup ready to go. Unfortunately, my fears were realized a few short months later.  During a Hurricane Hermine reconnaissance mission, NOAA had to ground the Gulfstream for emergency corrosion repairs.  Luckily, a plane owned by the National Science Foundation and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research was not on a mission at the time, and was able to fill in for the NOAA Gulfstream, but you can imagine that this won’t always be the case.  And while the hurricane season seems to be getting longer, the NOAA plane is getting older.  We must have a reliable backup.  So, in January, I filed S. 153, legislation to require NOAA to acquire sufficient backup capability for our hurricane hunter aircraft.  And I am pleased today that the Senate has unanimously passed this measure to as part of a broader weather bill.

I take comfort that even in times of great divisiveness, the Senate can come together on matters of public safety. The power of Mother Nature must be taken seriously. Consider the flooding in California—or the devastating tornadoes that hit Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida early this year. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew took 46 lives in the United States alone.

In addition to requiring backup capability for the hurricane hunters, the broader bill we’ve passed tonight, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act, will improve NOAA’s ability to understand, predict, and —most importantly—to warn people about all kinds of weather events that dramatically affect the economy and people’s daily lives.   It also includes a reauthorization of the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act.   These provisions will give NOAA the tools to protect life and property and to support continued economic growth.  It is my hope that the House follows suit.


HR 353 - BILL SUMMARY – As amended by the Senate

The Senate amended and passed the weather bill (H# 353) last night by unanimous consent.   The Senate-passed bill, as modified by the Thune-Schatz-Nelson substitute amendment (as modified) and the Cantwell amendment includes:


Title I. U.S. Weather Research and Forecasting Improvement.


•          Defines that NOAA weather research programs should prioritize the protection of life and property. This includes developing a technology transfer initiative and leveraging extramural research.

•          Establishes a program to improve tornado warning.

•          Protects and formally establishes the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program

•          Requires NOAA to develop a formal weather research plan.

•          Requires NOAA to develop and maintain a prioritized list of observational needs for maintaining and improving our weather forecast products.

•          Requires that before procuring observing systems or commercially provided data at a cost of more than $500 million, NOAA must quantitatively assess the value of those purchases.

•          Requires an annual report of NOAA computing capacity to run weather models.

•          Defines an improved process to move research into application more efficiently.

•          Authorizes NOAA to conduct outreach to stakeholders in the weather enterprise.

•          Authorizes $120 million for this Title.


Title II. Subseasonal and Forecasting Innovation


•          Requires NOAA to develop and disseminate meteorological forecasts on subseasonal (2 weeks-3 months), seasonal (3 months-1 year), and interannual (up to two years) timescales. Authorizes $26.5 million.


Title III. Weather Satellite and Data Innovation


•          Requires NOAA to complete its COSMIC-1 and COSMIC-2 programs as scheduled; to integrate data from the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing System into weather models, and to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to complete a $1 million independent study regarding likely future satellite needs.

•          Requires NOAA to consider options to purchase commercially provided weather satellite data rather than to launch government satellites. Upon completion of a pilot project to purchase commercial weather data to assess its quality and reliability, and before developing any future governmental space system, require NOAA to consider whether existing or planned commercial capabilities are available.  Authorize $24 million total over 4 fiscal years ($6 million each year) for completion of the pilot project.  Still requires NOAA to meet international data sharing obligations.


Title IV. Federal Weather Coordination


•          Formally establishes the Environmental Information Services Working Group as a standing working group within the NOAA Science Advisory Board.

•          Requires OSTP to coordinate relevant weather research and forecasting activities between federal agencies.

•          Authorizes NOAA to establish an exchange program for up to 10 staff each year from the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research to be detailed to the National Weather Service.

•          Authorizes a one year fellowship program at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction for postdoctoral fellows and academic researchers.

•          Requires NOAA to designate at least warning coordination meteorologist at each weather forecast office to work specifically with emergency managers.

•          Requires NOAA to assess and provide recommendations based in social and behavioral science to improve its watch and warning system.

•          Authorizes NOAA to develop an award program for users of NOAA All Hazards Receivers to save lives and property.

•          Requires NOAA to report on the impact of the Air Force’s proposed divestiture in the U.S. Weather Research and Forecasting Model in favor of the European model.

•          Authorizes the ongoing National Weather Service Operations and Workforce Analysis.

•          Requires NOAA to report on contract positions.

•          Requires NOAA to review the unique considerations of how urban environments influence weather patterns.

•          Requires NOAA to acquire backup for the capabilities of the P-3 and G-IV hurricane hunter aircraft sufficient to prevent a single point of failure.

•          Requires NOAA to complete a study on radar coverage gaps.


Cantwell Amendment


•          Reauthorizes the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act through 2021.

Senators Reintroduce Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act

The legislation addresses deficiencies in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) efforts to protect rail, transit, highway, and maritime passenger and freight transportation.

Senate Approves Negotiated Weather Reform Bill with Amendments

The legislation includes core seasonal forecasting, forecast communication, and other proposals first put forward by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai'i).

DC Circuit Rules FedEx Drivers Are Independent Contractors, Again Rejecting NRLB View

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 12:24pm
Guest Commentary By Jeremy B. Rosen, John F. Quiero, and Lacey L. Estudillo, Horvitz & Levy LLP* The National Labor Relations Act guarantees private-sector employees the right to organize, form unions, and bargain collectively with their employers.  In 1947, Congress amended the NLRA to expressly exclude independent contractors from the Act’s definition of employee. In […]
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SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs: Resources to Assist Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 10:00am

The Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce will meet for a hearing titled, “SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs: Resources to Assist Small Businesses.” The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M. on March 30, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

Hearing Documents

Witness List

Committee Examines SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Groups that assist American entrepreneurs told the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce that while key entrepreneurial development programs administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have helped small businesses, reforms could make these programs even more efficient and effective.

“From the startup company in my home district in California to the entrepreneurs and innovators all over the country, small businesses employ approximately half of all workers in the United States,” said Subcommittee Chairman Steve Knight (R-CA) in his opening statement. “Recent reports identify health care costs, regulatory compliance and a burdensome tax code as the top hurdles impacting the nation’s small businesses.”

“Frequently short on time and wearing many hats within these new start-ups, entrepreneurs need guidance and assistance. This hearing today is about exploring the resources available to entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses as they navigate a complex business ecosystem.” Subcommittee Chairman Knight explained.

“We will hear about the technical assistance and expert advice available to them through the Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneurial Development programs. With approximately 29 million small business in the United States, the programs within the SBA must operate efficiently and swiftly as the entrepreneurs they seek to help.  I am looking forward to hearing about the details of these programs. How do they help entrepreneurs?  How do they assist startups traversing the regulatory environment?  How can the programs be improved to better assist small businesses?” Knight said.
Small Businesses Know the SCORE

“SCORE is a uniquely American organization that synthesizes two historic national ideals: entrepreneurial spirit and volunteerism,” testified Ken Yancey, the Chief Executive Officer of the SCORE. “Since 1964, SCORE has provided expert volunteer business mentoring to more than 10 million entrepreneurs and small business owners. In 2015, SCORE set a goal is to help 1 million additional entrepreneurs by 2020. While this is an ambitious goal, it will help to guide a continual pattern of growth and expanded services. 13 Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all employer firms and generate more than 50 percent of the non-farm private gross domestic product.”

“They employ more than half of all private sector employees. In this way, these small businesses are the engine of America’s job creating economy, the fabric of our local communities, and the embodiment of the American dream.” Yancey said.

Helping Women Entrepreneurs

“We appreciate this Committee’s dedication to the modernization of SBA’s resource partners and your willingness to hear from the programs that are serving entrepreneurs across the country,” said Antonella Pianalto, the President and CEO of the Association of Women’s Business Centers. “The WBC program is a proven program, an effective public-private partnership, and fills a growing need for the distinct population we serve. The directors and staff at WBCs are committed to helping women and their families prosper and achieve financial security through business ownership.”

“In my visits across the country, from California and North Carolina, to Florida and New York, I remain in awe of our centers incredible power to bring a dream, an innovation, or an idea to fruition. We urge Congress to advance the efforts already underway by this Committee to strengthen the WBC program and provide the necessary investment women entrepreneurs need to reach their full potential,” Pianalto explained.

Your Local SBDC Can Help

“This hearing couldn’t be better timed. The new Administrator has an opportunity to assess and analyze the programs at her disposal and work with us to maximize their effectiveness,” said Charles “Tee” Rowe, the President and CEO of America’s Small Business Development Centers. “We need to identify the gaps in coverage – geographic and content. Who is doing what right? Who is doing what wrong? Are the goals, metrics and data systems up to the job?”

“The recovery from the 2008 recession left a lot of holes in our economy. Many counties and communities have not recovered. How will we focus our efforts, reach them and build their small business infrastructure? SBA and its resource partners have an excellent arsenal of talent to bring to bear on these problems. The biggest obstacle we have is failing to listen to one another and recognize our respective strengths and weaknesses.” Rowe added.

The American Legion on Veterans Entrepreneurship

“Small business continues to be a primary job generator and a major trainer for American employees,” testified Joseph C. Sharpe, Jr., the Director of the National Veterans Employment & Education Division of The American Legion.   “The small firm workplace includes a considerable amount of young and entry-level workers. It is vital that veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses receive a fair and proportionate amount of federal contracts so these veterans can build and maintain successful businesses.”

“The American Legion reiterates that the Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development should be the lead agency to ensure that all veterans are provided with Entrepreneurial Development Assistance,” Sharpe stated.

You can watch full video from today’s hearing HERE and read full testimony HERE.

Thune Statement on FCC Decision to Return Lifeline Program Authority to States

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will with withdraw from litigation and allow states to perform the role Congress intended in designating broadband providers eligible for federal subsidies.

Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

During the height of the Great Recession, when unemployment was hovering around 10 percent, we noticed something surprising: the unemployment rate for recently separated veterans was consistently higher than the national average. This was unexpected, because folks coming out of the military are highly trained for technical jobs – air traffic controllers, combat medics, and airplane mechanics. And, technically trained professionals were in high demand in the civilian world. 

What was happening was that these veterans were receiving world-class training, but not the right civilian certification or credential to be eligible for the same job once they left the military. There was a small gap in their education. 

So, we fixed it. I introduced legislation, the Veterans Skills to Jobs Act, and the Department of Defense now helps service members get these credentials and certifications so they are qualified to get a job as soon as they leave the military.

An abundance of technical jobs presents a big opportunity for civilians as well, but the skills gap for them is even wider. Companies today are having a hard time finding qualified job applicants for technical positions. As many as 13 million U.S. jobs require technical or STEM skills, but not a 4-year college degree. 

On one hand, more Americans than ever are attending college – many graduating with crippling student loans. On the other, companies are desperate to fill well-paying technical jobs that require some training, but less than a bachelor’s degree. It is clear there is a mismatch between our education system and industry’s workforce needs.

This skills gap in the workforce affects the bottom line of big and small companies across the country. On the Space Coast of Florida, small and large companies alike are working with community colleges to build a pipeline of technically trained employees so workers can hit the ground running on day one. These positions aren’t what we normally think of as blue-collar - these folks are helping to build and launch NASA’s space launch system – the largest rocket ever built.  Siemens, who we will hear from today, has similarly implemented apprenticeship programs across the country for machinists, welders, and other skilled positions. 

Aggravating this problem is a stigma about blue-collar jobs. High school students choosing between university or technical training need to know that many manufacturing workers are well paid and highly sought after.  We have to do a better job of changing attitudes when it comes to the perception of technical education and manufacturing jobs.   

The bottom line here is that we - educators, industry and all levels of government – must do everything we can to better prepare workers for the job market of today and tomorrow.  Failure is not an option.   We have to expand job opportunities for American workers and make sure our nation has the skilled labor it needs to remain competitive in the global economy.

Our witnesses today are leaders in industry and workforce training, and I look forward to hearing their testimony. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Closing the Skills Gap and Boosting U.S. Competitiveness

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a full committee hearing titled “Closing the Skills Gap and Boosting U.S. Competitiveness” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. This hearing will explore the technical skills gap in the U.S. manufacturing sector and other trades. It will also highlight steps taken by advocates and industry to address the growing issue and foster a competitive workforce.

•    Mr. John Ratzenberger, Actor, Director, Founder of the American Museum of Manufacturing
•    Mr. Rory DeJohn, Senior Vice President, Turner Construction Company
•    Colonel Michael Cartney (USAF, retired), President, Lake Area Technical Institute
•    Mr. Jay Neely, Vice President of Law and Public Affairs, Gulfstream Aerospace
•    Ms. Judith Marks, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens USA
Hearing Details:
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Full committee hearing
This hearing will take place in Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G50. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Evaluating the Paperwork Reduction Act: Are Burdens Being Reduced?

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 11:00am

The Committee on Small Business will meet for a hearing titled, “Evaluating the Paperwork Reduction Act: Are Burdens Being Reduced?”  The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  

The Committee will examine the Paperwork Reduction Act’s effectiveness in reducing the paperwork burden on small businesses and issues that may warrant further scrutiny or legislative action.

1. Hearing Notice
2. Witness List


Mr. Sam Batkins
Director of Regulatory Policy
American Action Forum
Washington, DC

Ms. Leah F. Pilconis
Environmental Law & Policy Advisor
Associated General Contractors of America
Arlington, VA



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