Results

U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

12/01/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/01/2021 19:23

Senator Cantwell Delivers Opening Statements at Commerce Committee Executive Session and Nominations Hearing

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Senator Cantwell Delivers Opening Statements at Commerce Committee Executive Session and Nominations Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation delivered the following opening statements during today's Executive Session and Nominations Hearing.

Executive Session Opening Statement

Nominations: Jessica Rosenworcel, to be a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission; Jainey Kumar Bavishi, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere; Arun Venkataraman, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service; Alvaro Bedoya to be a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission; Coast Guard promotions

"Good morning. The Commerce Committee will come to order. This morning we have an executive session to vote on several nominations, followed by a hearing. After the executive session, the hearing will be to consider four individuals to fill roles at the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Commerce. During the executive session, we'll be voting on nominees who will fill key positions at the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce, as well as several Coast Guard promotions.

"Both the FCC and the FTC have responsibility to expand conductivity and to promote the protection of consumers online. This morning, we'll be voting on the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel to be the Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission. If confirmed, Chairwoman Rosenworcel will continue to lead the agency's important work to ensure that every American has access to reliable, affordable broadband. Having strong leadership at the helm of the FCC to implement our broadband investments cannot be more important and I look forward to her confirmation this morning.

"Next, we have Alvaro Bedoya, who has been nominated to be a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is responsible for protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, especially online, and for enforcing the nation's antitrust laws. Mr. Bedoya has the experience and expertise in privacy that the Commission needs at this critical moment. He has bipartisan support from all the sitting commissioners and the chair of the FTC, and has experience working across the aisle. Mr. Bedoya also has the support of privacy and civil rights organizations, consumer groups, leading privacy academics, and former FTC officials. I look forward to working with him on the committee's important privacy agenda.

"We will also vote on the nomination of Jainey Bavishi to be the deputy NOAA Administrator. We need strategic leadership and help at NOAA to execute broad climate and coastal resiliency investments we outlined in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and we hope soon the Build Back Better program. Ms. Bavishi will be critical and helping with NOAA's implementation.

"We will also be voting on Arun Venkataraman, who has been nominated to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States foreign and Commercial Service at the Department of Commerce. If confirmed to play a key role in helping small and medium sized enterprises enter and compete in foreign markets. This is very important for our economy and for small businesses who need to have increased help and access to foreign markets to thrive.

"Finally, we'll be voting on several coastguard promotions."

Nominations Hearing Opening Statement

Nominations: Gigi B. Sohn, to be a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission;. Alan Davidson, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information; Viquar Ahmad, to be Assistant Secretary for Administration and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Commerce; Jed David Kolko, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs

"So, we'll now turn to our hearing. I again thank our colleagues for their attendance today. Thank you for helping us get these important nominations filled, and we look forward to working with all of them. So now we will turn to our hearing this morning. Our hearing is a very important set of nominees and so I want to welcome them and their families to the dais. Thank you so much for being here.

"First, we will consider the nomination of Gigi Sohn to be commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission. Ms. Sohn, welcome to you and your family, who I understand is joining you today.

"The pandemic demonstrates how essential broadband is to participate in our 21st century economy and the FCC is critical role in helping our country be competitive. If confirmed, Ms. Sohn will help lead the FCC's effort to address the lack of broadband connectivity in our country due to gaps in broadband infrastructure, and the lack of affordable services. As Commissioner, she'll also be responsible for supporting the diversity and health of local broadcasters so they continue to reflect the interests of local communities, and I look forward to hearing how she intends to support broadcasters in their continued important role if confirmed. She's also responsible for coordinating with NTIA on federal Spectrum sharing policies to protect incumbent users and promote innovation. And she has a decade long of experience as advocating on important telecommunications policy. She was co-founder of Public Knowledge before becoming a Senior Advisor to Chairman Wheeler of the FCC, and she's currently a distinguished fellow at Georgetown Institute for Technology Law and Policy, senior fellow and public advocate at the Benton Institute. If confirmed, she will also be the first openly LGBTQ+ commissioner in the history of the FCC.

"We will also consider the nomination of Alan Davidson - thank you for being here -- to be Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce. Today, it is important more than ever to have a critically strong role at NTIA as the agency leads the largest broadband investment in our nation's history to finally bridge the digital divide. Both my colleagues Senator Wicker and Senator Klobuchar have worked tirelessly as on legislation to try to enhance the role of this at NTIA, so we look forward to having a robust discussion about what leadership role NTIA can play on broadband. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will ask NTIA to increase and implement programs set at historic levels. So I look forward to asking NTIA, Mr. Davidson, about those efforts and what we can do particularly on the issues of digital divide and cost.

"With the vote of Chair Rosenworcel and Mr. Bedoya this morning, today's hearing with Ms. Sohn and Mr. Davidson, we're getting closer to providing these agencies with the key tools that they need to do their job.

"Next, we will consider the nomination of David Kolko to be Undersecretary of Economic Affairs at the Department of Commerce. Welcome to you. The Undersecretary for Economic Affairs is responsible for providing economic analysis, disseminating national economic indicators, serving as the administrator of the department's premier statistical programs, including the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau. These bureaus and others in the department provide important critical data to our nation, to our agencies and to private sector entities….everything from science, climate, weather and economic indicators, including trade and telecommunications.

"Mr. Kolko has been Chief Economist at Indeed since 2016, and before that was Chief Economist and VP of Analytics at Trulia. So he brings private sector experience as well. He's also had numerous research positions where his work has focused on ways to incorporate proprietary and public data into research that is accessible and actionable for a wide range of audiences. To help our economy thrive, the department needs leaders who will set high standards not only for data integrity, but for accessibility as well. Policy makers and business entities should be able to easily access the data develop[ed by] the Department of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau to make good policy and business decisions. So I look forward to asking you about that at the hearing.

"And finally, we will consider Mr. Viquar Ahmad to be Assistant Secretary for Administration and Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Commerce. Welcome to you Mr. Ahmad. The Assistant Secretary for Administration and Chief Financial Officer serves the department's financial resources and human resources and facilities. It's a critical role on the annual budget, managing the billions of dollars allocated through the infrastructure and jobs act as an example. So you are extremely qualified, I believe, for this role - multiple leadership roles in the US government over the past decade, including managing and overseeing the $70 billion budget for the Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies, and [you] currently serve as the Deputy Chief Financial Officer for the U.S. House of Representatives. So I look forward to your confirmation. So thank you all, for being here and your willingness to serve."

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