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Committee Announces Hearing to Examine Benefits of the Internet of Things

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will convene a hearing titled “Advancing the Internet of Things in Rural America,” at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. The hearing will examine the use and benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) in rural communities, and the infrastructure needs necessary to advance the IoT market to ensure rural America has access to products and devices that are driving the digital economy.


  - Mr. Michael Adcock, Executive Director, Telehealth Center University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Miss.
  - Mr. David Armitage, Founder and CEO of Cartasite, Denver, Colo.
  - Mr. Timothy Hassinger, President and CEO, Lindsay Corporation, Omaha, Neb.
  - Mr. Michael Terzich, Chief Administrative Officer, Zebra Technologies, Lincolnshire, Ill.

Hearing Details: 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet

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.

GSA Issues Request for Information for Entity Identification and Validation Services

GSA news releases - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 12:12pm
October 25, 2017 The U.S. General Services Administration has released a Request for Information (RFI) on the Draft Performance Work Statement (PWS) for governmentwide entity identification and validation services. GSA is seeking stakeholder feedback on the draft PWS, which will define the final requirements in a future solicitation to fill the government’s need for validation of information, assignment, and maintenance of a unique numbering system to identify specific commercial, nonprofit, or government entities.

GSA Awards Contract for Greenville, S.C. Courthouse

GSA news releases - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 12:12pm
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) awarded the Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc) contract for the new U. S. Courthouse in Greenville, S.C. to the general contractors Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC (Brasfield & Gorrie) on September 25, 2017.

<p>Good morning. &nbsp;Thank you

Good morning.  Thank you Congressman Bridenstine, Ms. Baiocco, Dr. Jacobs, and Ms. Nikakhtar for being here and for your willingness to serve in the important positions to which you have been nominated. 

We have four well-qualified nominees before our Committee today.

Congressman James Bridenstine has been nominated to serve as the next NASA Administrator.  He was elected in 2012 to represent Oklahoma’s First Congressional District and currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.  Congressman Bridenstine also has a distinguished military career, beginning in the Navy flying the E-2C Hawkeye off the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, from which he flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.  While on active duty, he transitioned to the F-18 Hornet and flew as an “aggressor” at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center.  After leaving active duty, Congressman Bridenstine flew counter-drug missions in Central and South America in the Navy Reserve and currently is a member of the 137th Special Operations Wing of the Oklahoma Air National Guard. 

During his tenure in Congress, Representative Bridenstine has established a reputation as a leader on space policy.  In fact, one of his most well-known supporters is former astronaut and the second human to step foot on the moon, Colonel Buzz Aldrin.  Another supporter, John Hamre, former Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Clinton and current President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said of him:  “I have worked with members of Congress for 40 years. Only very rarely have I seen a member of Congress with such intensity and sophistication on an urgent national priority.”

I know that many on this Committee, particularly the Ranking Member, are passionate about the space program and the inspiring work of NASA.  Congressman Bridenstine, we look forward to hearing more about your vision for the agency.  

We are also joined today by Dana Baiocco who has been nominated to serve as a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  Born and raised in Yorkville, Ohio, Ms. Baiocco joined the law firm of Jones Day in 1998 and became a partner in 2007.  She was one of the founding partners of Jones Day’s Boston office, which opened in 2011.  Ms. Baiocco has dedicated her legal career to product safety and liability issues that will serve her well at the CPSC.

Currently, the CPSC is led by a chairman who does not have a functioning majority.  Earlier this month we reported favorably Ann Marie Buerkle to be Chairman and to an additional term on the Commission.  It is my hope that the Senate will prioritize the Buerkle and Baiocco nominations soon, so we can move swiftly towards establishing a chairman with a functioning majority at the CPSC.

Neil Jacobs has been nominated to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction.  If confirmed, he will serve as one of the Deputy Administrators of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Dr. Jacobs is currently the Chief Atmospheric Scientist at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, where he directs the research and development of the aviation weather observing program, as well as the company’s numerical forecast models.  He is the Chair of the American Meteorological Society’s Forecast Improvement Group, and also serves on the World Meteorological Organization’s aircraft-based observing systems expert team.  Prior to joining Panasonic in 2005, Dr. Jacobs worked on various analyses and modeling projects including NASA’s Earth Systems Science Program, NOAA’s satellite program, and the Department of Energy’s Ocean Margins Program.  Dr. Jacobs’ experience makes him well-tailored to serve in a leadership role at NOAA.

Nazakhtar Nikakhtar has been nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis.  Ms. Nikakhtar is currently a partner at Cassidy Levy Kent, a leading international trade law firm.  For over a decade, Ms. Nikakhtar has successfully represented U.S. businesses – particularly those in the industrial, agricultural, chemical, and steel sectors – in international trade law matters, including trade remedy matters, customs matters, and World Trade Organization dispute settlement.  Prior to private practice, she served at the Department of Commerce advising on legal and regulatory matters related to the enforcement of U.S. trade laws and bilateral trade negotiations, where she received several awards for her work.  Her technical expertise makes Ms. Nikakhtar a well-qualified candidate to run the Industry and Analysis unit at the International Trade Adminisration.

As I’ve noted, all four of these nominees are well-qualified for the positions to which they have been nominated 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 critical posts.

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

Nomination Hearing

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nominations hearing at 10:00 a.m. on November, 2017, to consider four nominations subject to Senate confirmation.


  - The Honorable James Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  - Ms. Dana Baiocco, of Ohio, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  - Dr. Neil Jacobs, of North Carolina, to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Environmental Observation and Prediction
  - Ms. Nazakhtar Nikakhtar of Maryland to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Industry and Analysis

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
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

 Mr. Chairman, I’d like to extend a welcome to our nominees this morning.  In the interest of time, my opening will focus on our NASA nominee. I’ll include a statement in the record on our other witnesses.

It is certainly no secret how passionate I am about NASA having qualified and effective leadership. This passion comes from a deep respect I have for NASA and for everything the space program does to advance our national security, our economy, our understanding of cosmos and of ourselves, and for the hope and inspiration that NASA provides to all.  It also comes from having witnessed, very directly, the tragic consequences when NASA leadership has failed us.

We have three new human spaceflight vehicles that are all at the most critical phase of their development. We have over 70 ambitious science missions in operation and 50 more under development. Now, more than ever, NASA needs – and deserves – an administrator who is up to the challenge of leading the agency through this critical juncture. Because at this juncture, success will mean our triumphant return to deep space and rapidly expanding economic activity in Earth orbit.  Failure, on the other hand, could jeopardize the lives of brave astronauts and set back the search for life beyond Earth for decades.  Failure is not an option. 

The NASA administrator should be a consummate space professional who is technically and scientifically competent and a skilled executive.  More importantly, the administrator must be a leader who has the ability to unite scientists, engineers, commercial space interests, policymakers and the public on a shared vision for future space exploration.

Frankly, Congressman Bridenstine, I cannot see how you meet these criteria.

While your time as a pilot and your service to our country in the military is certainly commendable, it does not qualify you make the complex and nuanced engineering, safety and budgetary decisions for which the head of NASA must be accountable. Moreover, your past statements on climate change are troubling from a scientific perspective and have sparked great concern from climate experts around the nation, which brings me to my greatest concern regarding your nomination.

Your recent public service career does not instill great confidence about your leadership skills or ability to bring people together.  In fact, your record and behavior in Congress is as divisive and extreme as any in Washington.  

You have advocated for discriminatory policies toward the LGBT community, which runs contrary to the civil rights of these Americans and poisons our national discourse.

On the House floor, you called President Obama dishonest, incompetent and vengeful – and followed it up by calling Vice President Biden “equally unfit and even more embarrassing.”

But your divisive behavior and remarks don’t stop there and haven’t been reserved just for Democrats.

You attacked Speaker John Boehner for reaching across the aisle. You later tweeted your opposition to Paul Ryan because he was critical of the vile remarks candidate Donald Trump made about sexually assaulting women.   

You made television commercials attacking my friend and fellow Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, deriding his work to find common ground on immigration and claiming he was working to make America less safe.

Later in Arizona, the GOP challenger to Senator McCain accused him of being directly responsible for the rise of ISIS. You then endorsed her in her Republican primary challenge to Senator McCain.  Most of us believe John McCain is an American hero. As a bipartisan member of the Armed Services Committee, I can tell you that those who would do our country harm have no greater enemy than Chairman McCain. 

And you’ve supported the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee that opposed Senator McConnell in his primary and any number of other Republican senators who did not meet the committee’s extremist ideals.  

Mr. Bridenstine, you’ve gone to great lengths to try to convince folks that you want to keep NASA bipartisan and work across party lines, but that is not what you said in January 2014 at a convention in South Carolina.  

These are your words not mine: 

“You’ve got collusion between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, DC.  They’re coming together and they’re making deals…You’ve got Republicans and Democrats trying to come together...But what we need is fighters. We need people who will stand up and say ‘no, we’re not going to do this anymore…”

Congressman Bridenstine, on behalf of every member who has devoted their career to reaching across the aisle to build consensus and to find working solutions for the American people, I take offense to that. That line of thinking is why Washington is broken. 

NASA represents the best of what we can do as a people.  NASA is one of the last refuges from partisan politics. NASA needs a leader who will unite us, not divide us. Respectfully, Congressman Bridenstine, I don’t think you’re that leader.

Trial Judge Tosses Jury Verdict in Talcum Powder Mass-Tort Suit for Lack of Causation

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Contributor, Mass Torts—Asbestos Robert H. Wright, a Partner with Horvitz & Levy LLP in Los Angeles, CA In a case that has generated national publicity, Judge Maren E. Nelson of the Los Angeles County Superior Court granted Johnson & Johnson’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict after a jury awarded plaintiff $417 million, …

Continue reading Trial Judge Tosses Jury Verdict in Talcum Powder Mass-Tort Suit for Lack of Causation

Categories: Latest News

ICYMI: Tax Reform for the Growing Gig Economy

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON—Today, Heidi Pickman, theCommunications and Policy Director of the California Association of Micro Enterprise Opportunity, released an op-ed in support of Chairman Steve Chabot's (R-OH) bill, H.R. 3717, the Small Business Owners' Tax Simplification Act.

"As Congress debates tax reform, we hear lots about the middle class, corporations, and the 1 percent, but we haven’t heard much about the gig economy, and we should," stated Heidi Pickman.

"What is the gig economy? Do you include independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers? Temp agency and on-call workers? Workers on a company contract?" said Pickman. "People involved in these work arrangements account for 30 million workers or about 20 percent of the labor force; a number that is growing at a rate faster than general total employment. If you include people who do some very part-time independent work, you end up with about70 million people involved in the gig economy, or 36 percent of the workforce."

Pickman continued, "The House Small Business Committee is on the right track with H.R. 3717, the Small Business Owners’ Tax Simplification Act, with a similar bill being discussed in the Senate. The bill would make several changes that would provide simplification and clarity to the tax code for entrepreneurs and startups; it would allow for voluntary withholding agreements and training services through the platforms without impacting a worker’s classification status and enable these business owners to participate in Cafeteria Plans or flexible spending accounts."

Click HERE to read full article.

H.R. 3717 Background:

The overwhelming majority of businesses in the United States are categorized as small businesses; yet, the nation’s job creators face a multitude of inequities with regard to tax policy.

Specifically, H.R. 3717 will help level the playing field for small businesses and provide clarity for entrepreneurs and startups as they face the complexity and uncertainty of the tax code. From updating signature requirements and anti-fraud measures to the treatment of cafeteria plans, the Small Business Owners’ Tax Simplification Act of 2017 will advance the United States Internal Revenue Code, just as technology is advancing how companies reach customers.


Thune Talks Transportation, Cyber, and Border Security Challenges with Department of Homeland Security Nominee Kirstjen Nielsen

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement after meeting this afternoon with President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen.

"Once confirmed, Kirstjen Nielsen will provide leadership and direction on critical transportation, cyber, and border security initiatives where the department frankly needs to improve performance. As the chairman of a committee with jurisdiction covering key areas and agencies within the department, this afternoon we discussed legislative reforms underway in Congress to aid the department’s important mission as well as the need for department employees to remain vigilant. I look forward to working with her and know her experience working on cybersecurity, at TSA, and at the White House will be invaluable to our nation’s security.”

The Commerce Committee exercises legislative jurisdiction over the United States Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which are components of the Department of Homeland Security.  The Committee also exercises jurisdiction over efforts to set standards for cybersecurity. 

GSA to Announce Additional Lease Requirements for U.S. Census Bureau

GSA news releases - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:12pm
October 31, 2017 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On October 31, 2017, the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Automated Advanced Acquisition Program (AAAP) will release 208 additional short-term lease requirements for the U.S. Census Bureau. These requirements are in addition to the 37 requirements released in mid July, bringing the total to 245 requirements nationwide.

GSA, DOE Issue RFI for Innovative Building Technologies to Improve Federal and Commercial Building Performance

GSA news releases - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:12pm
October 30, 2017 WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a joint Request for Information (RFI) today for next-generation building technologies that have the potential to improve the operational efficiency of federal and commercial buildings, and provide a solid return on investment.

GSA Awards Nine Building Maintenance and Operations Phase II Unrestricted Contracts

GSA news releases - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:12pm
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has awarded nine new contracts to its Phase II Unrestricted Building Maintenance and Operations (BMO) Best-in-Class strategic sourcing solution.

GSA To Dispose of 129-Acre Federal Complex in Auburn, WA

GSA news releases - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:12pm
GSA plans to dispose of the Auburn Federal Complex in Region 10.

GSA Awards Contract for Savannah U.S. Courthouse Annex

GSA news releases - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:12pm
ATLANTA, GA -- U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a design-build contract for the Savannah U.S. Courthouse Annex (Savannah Annex) to Hoar Construction LLC, Birmingham, Alabama.

Nomination Hearing

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a nominations hearing at 10:00 a.m. on October 31, 2017, to consider four nominations to the Department of Transportation.


  - The Honorable Leon A. Westmoreland, of Georgia, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors
  - Ms. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, of Maryland, to be Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Research and   - Technology
  - Mr. Bruce Landsberg, of South Carolina, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board
  - Mr. Raymond Martinez, of New Jersey, to be Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
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

I appreciate all of you expressing a willingness to serve in these critical transportation positions. 

Infrastructure investment and safety are two top priorities that are critical for my state of Florida and for communities around the country. 

The infrastructure needs are great and they continue to grow.

Whether it’s increasing investment in our highway and transit systems or restoring rail service along the Gulf Coast.  

These investments mean real jobs and real improvements for our communities. 

We also need to make sure our transportation systems are safe.  

That means that we’re doing everything possible to improve safety in our skies and on our highways and railways. 

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today. 

Federal Courts, State Governments Push Back Against Corrosive Disabilities Act Suits

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 9:05am
Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 to provide important protections for some of the most vulnerable Americans.  Like other federal anti-discrimination laws, the ADA included a private right of action.  And as has happened with many other laws that can be privately enforced, the ADA has seen its share of questionable …

Continue reading Federal Courts, State Governments Push Back Against Corrosive Disabilities Act Suits

Categories: Latest News

Exploring Native American Subsistence Rights and International Treaties

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene the hearing titled “Exploring Native American Subsistence Rights and International Treaties,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. The hearing will examine the cultural, economic and noncommercial use of fish and marine mammals for subsistence hunting.


  - The Honorable Harry Brower, Mayor, North Slope Borough
  - Mr. John Hopson, Jr., Chairman, Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission
  - Dr. Robert Suydam, Senior Wildlife Biologist, North Slope Borough
  - Mr. Chris Swartz, President of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard 

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.


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