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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 18, 2009 7:30am-8:00am EDT

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administration but i don't want them to sit high and mighty in their black robes so far above the real world that they couldn't see justice if it bit them. i think that's what empathy blissed someone who's at least in touch with this real world. for the last several two weeks, i guess, the nominee of president barack obama for the supreme court, sonia sotomayor has been meeting with the members of the united states senate. she had an unfortunate mishap and broke her ankle at la guardia airport so i allowed her to use my conference room upstairs on the third floor and there was a steady parade of senators coming in to meet her. i asked her this morning, she said well, i've seen 61 senators and i have 6 more today. she may break a record meeting with senators than most supreme court nominees. but she's doing her level bess to do herself and answer any questions that senators have. i think and i told the president
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when i saw him an event today that he made an extraordinary choice. judge sotomayor served the district court by george herbert walker bush she was promoted to bill clinton to a higher level court, the circuit court and now is being nominated for supreme court service. she has more experience on the federal bench than any nominee in 100 years so she's going to be no neophyte, if she's fortunate enough to serve on the court. she's a woman with an extraordinary life story, having grown up in the bronx in public housing. her father died when she was 9 years old. her mother raised her and her younger brother who ended up becoming a doctor incidentally. she was encouraged to apply to princeton, which was a world she knew nothing about as a young latina growing up in the bronx but she applied and was accepted. at the end of the four-year period she graduated second in her class at princeton.
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i don't believe princeton university is an easy assignment. i think it's a challenging assignment and clearly she was up to it. she went on to graduate from yale law school. she was involved in prosecution. she was involved in working in private law practice. she really has an amazing background in the law and i think she would be an extraordinary member of the supreme court. so senator sessions came earlier and talked about his philosophy and certainly expressed it very capably. i didn't have any prepared remarks on the subject though i disagree with him i respect him very much and i hope at the end of the day we can do the senate proud and serve our nation by giving her a fair and timely hearing. let's not use a double standard on this nominee. chairman of the senate judiciary committee, patrick leahy, has suggested a timely hearing on her nomination. it is a hearing within the same schedule of those who went before her like chief justice roberts or justice alito. so if she is given the same
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standard of fairness, that hearing will go forward. i certainly hope it does. and i think she will do well. >> and i'd seen -- >> the senator from alabama. >> such a fabulous lawyer and an excellent senator. and i think just would respectfully talk about some of the ideas that he suggested. one he raised a question of brown versus board of education, where the supreme court held separate was not equal. and that somehow this is a justification for a judge setting policy. they thought it wasn't good policy. but i would see it differently, mr. president. i would see brown versus board of education as the supreme court saying that the constitution of the united states guarantees every american equal protection of the laws and they found that in segregated
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schools, some people were told they must go to this school solely because of their race. some people must go to this school solely because of their race. and that, in fact, it wasn't equal. there were several constitutional issues plainly there. and i don't think that was an activist policy-making decision. i think the supreme court correctly concluded that these separate schools in which a person was mandated to go one or the other based on their race violated the equal protection clause of the united states and, in effect, they also found it wasn't equal which they were correct in doing. and with regard to the lily ledbetter case, senator durbin and my democratic colleagues during the last campaign and during the last several years have talked about this case a lot. i would just say that everybody knows it's a universal rule that
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whenever a wrong is inflicted upon an individual, they have a certain time within which to file their claim. it's called the statute of limitations. if you don't file it within the time allowed by law, then you are barred from filing that lawsuit. it happens all over america in cases throughout the country. the u.s. supreme court heard the evidence and it was argued in the united states supreme court. this one lady, lily ledbetter, took her case all the way to the supreme court. they heard it and they concluded that she had -- was aware of the unfair wage practices that she alleged long before the statute of limitations -- long before and that by the time she filed her complaint, it was way too late. and, in fact, one of the key witnesses had already died. so it was years after.
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and so they concluded that, okay? the congress fulfilling its proper role was unhappy about it. and has passed a law that i think unwisely muddles the statute of limitations on these kinds of cases dramatically but it would give her a chance to be successful or another person in their circumstance to be successful. so the supreme court -- this wasn't a conservative activist decision. it was a fact-based analysis by the supreme court by which they concluded that she waited too long to bring the lawsuit and it was barred. and congress thinking that was not good, passed a law that changed the statute of limitations so more people would be able to prevail. it's not wrong for the court to strike down bad laws.
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we just had a little to-do with attorney general holder today in which the office of legal counsel of department of justice had written an opinion that he kept down and has still kept it hid that declared that the legislation we passed to give the district of columbia not a state but a district, a united states congressman was unconstitutional. he didn't want that out since he and the president supported giving a congressman to the district of columbia. but i think that case is going up to the supreme court, and i would expect it will come back like a rubber ball off that wall because i don't think that was constitutional. and i don't believe that's activism or an abuse of power. it's simply a plain reading on the constitution and if the congress passes laws in violation of the constitution, they should be struck down and nothing wrong with that if the court is doing it in an objective, fair way not allowing
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their personal, emotional, political, cultural or other biases entering into the matter. so i think we're going to have a great discussion about the supreme court and our federal courts. i look forward to it. i really appreciate senator durbin. he's a superb lawyer and can certainly -- if i were in trouble, i'd like to have him defending me. i thank you, mr. chairman. i yield the floor. >> every weekend book tv has the latest nonfiction books and authors on c-span2.
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>> there's lots more books and authors this weekend on book tv. our website has the entire schedule and great new features including streaming video, archives that are easy to search and simple ways to share your favorite programs.
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>> now a senate transportation subcommittee holds the second in a series of hearings on aviation safety. we'll hear about the circumstances surrounding the crash of flight 3407 in buffalo, new york. senator byron dorgan chairs this two-hour hearing. >> we'll call the hearing to order. this is the hearing of the subcommittee, the senate commerce committee, cassette in aviation. i want to thank all of you for joining us today to talk about the importance of the issue of aviation safety. this is the second hearing that we have held this month to discuss the subject of aviation safety with a particular focus of the safety of regional carriers. in this hearing we will receive testimony from representatives of the nation's network carriers and regional carriers from the
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air transport association and from the regional airline association respectively. we'll also hear from the airline pilots association and from mr. scott mauer representing the families of continental flight 3407 which crashed on february 12th of this year in new york. i do want to say as well as i start this hearing i had intended and wished to have representatives of the carriers themselves at a hearing and so we did not accomplish that today. i'm notc minimizings at all the representatives of the two -- the ata and the raa but i will wish to extend invitation and have representatives of the airlines themselves in here within the next month or so. it is important, i think, that they would accept an invitation to come and i will extend those invitations again. in this country, i think it is
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safe to say that we have a remarkably safe system of air travel. it's not my intention with hearings about aviation safety to alarm anyone about taking a flight on a regional carrier or
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reason to question the oversight or the applicationjx of aviatio safety across the country. i've said before that i've read extensively about the most recent crash that occurred in our country the crash at kogan air in buffalo, new york. frankly, a numberí5e of things happened on that flight that cause me great, great concern. there were a number of mistakes that occurred, a number of things to me were revelations that were quite stunning. and led me to question was it an aberration, was it something that happened only in the cockpit of this one plane or is there something else at work?@ is there a set of standards that is applied one way in one set of carriers and another way in another set of carriers? i don't know the answer to that, but i think it is important that we ask those questions. the plane that crashed in new york was a bombardier operated by a captain and a copilot who
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had -- both comuted long distances to get to work. were found to have reasonably little rest before the flight. the copilot raised issues in the transcript that i read of the conversation in the cockpit of her inexperience with icing conditions. they clearly that evening were flying in significant icing. the captain had failed a number of flight tests during his career, which the carrier themselves were unaware of and did not have information about. we're going to hear from those that are investigating this. the ntsb i know is doing substantial investigations. but the larger question for me here is, what about the airlines and the faa's ability to prevent a double standard or two different standards of experience in the cockpit? what about the enforcement of
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rules with respect to÷mb familiarity with certain kinds of conditions, familiarity with certain equipment. we are supposed to have dating back to the mid-1990s one level of safety, quote-unquote, for both regional and major carriers. and i want to hear from our witnesses today whether you think that is actually the case, whether the system has kept up with changes or whether there have been changes that have occurred that have drifted us away from one standard. i'm particularly concerned from some of the things i've learned in the last hearing, for example, that a carrier does not easily have full access to the records of pilots they are considering hiring. i'm talking about all the records. they have access to the records of everything that has occurred with respect to an airplane. an airplane that comes off the line and is put in service, everything that happens to that particular airplane is a matter of record that anyone can access and that is not the case with respect to the record of the pilot or the people in the
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cockpit. i think that there is some reason to believe encouraged by what the new administrator, randy babbitt has done. he called for a meeting monday this week which reflects a concern that he wants to understand these things quickly and take whatever action is necessary. it is also the case that he indicated that after two years the ntsb suggested a rulemaking on access to records for pilots, that mr. babbitt indicated to me that the next time he came to a hearing and i asked the question, have you begun a rulemaking, he indicated that he expected the answer to be affirmative rather than negative. so i think we're making some progress here, but this is very, very important. and it's something that we have to ask questions about. they are tough questions, but necessary and important questions. i want to thank the witnesses for being with us. senator demint is the ranking member of our subcommittee and i know senator demint wishes to make a comment and then i think
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also introduce mr. mauer formally who's a member of your state. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i thank you again for conducting these hearings. i would just add my comments to yours. i agree with everything you said about the concerns about this flight. a lot of us get on regional flights ourselves every week going back and forth to our home states and that we assume a lot when we get on a plane and i and we do need to make sure there's a standard of safety for every american. i'm lookingb'ó forward to worki with the chairman on language that would reveal all the pilot records just as we have them for an airplane and some things seem to make commonsense right now, but i d0y the pleasure)-of introducing mr. scott maurer
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this morning. mr. maurer of a 30-year-old flight -- a 30-year-old who was in in the flight crash. he was born and raised in redding, pennsylvania, where he and his wife daughter raised their daughter. he currently lives in south carolina. i appreciate him taking the time to come to washington. i think this is his third week here and i know this is very difficult for him to continue to recount this tragedy in public as well as private. mr. maurer comes before this committee this morning as a representative of over 150 people and the families of the 3407 group. they've come together as a result of the terrible tragedy where the goal of making changes in the airline industry and the faa hoping to keep an accident like 3407 from happening again. and saving many other families the sadness that they are continuing to endure.
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mr. maurer is joined by his wife teri and lauren's boyfriend. i appreciate the work of the maurer and all the families of the victims of flight 3407 as a father of four and a grandfather of two, i can't begin to imagine the pain that can see from so tragically losing a loved one. speaks highly of all the families here today that you're working to take what must be a deep sorrow and focusing it on improving airline safety and helping other americans. i'm looking forward to hearing your testimony, mr. maurer and the recommendations this morning. and both and the chairman and i -- and i know i speak for everyone on the committee, we thank you for the sacrifice that you're making to try to improve the system for others. m
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mr. lautenberg? >> thank you for calling this hearing because though our flight safety record is so outstanding, when we look at the total of aviation it services, the situation with the flight is one that shook our bodies, our minds. the plane took off from newark liberty international in february. it cost the lives of 50 people. flight 3407 taught us that we need to improve pilot training, address flight crew hours and service and implement consistent safety standards for both regional and large air carriers. and just last year we saw disturbing reports about safety inspection failures where the
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faa let planes filled with passengers take off with cracked hulls and these failures forced the cancellation of thousands of flights by airlines who may not have taken safety as seriously as they should have. and so we're anxious to learn whatever we can about the failure of good precautions with flight 3407. and we extend our sympathies also to mr. maurer. and that we would like to be able to make a promise when we finished with these hearings, mr. chairman, that we will have done whatever we can to make this excellent safety record that exists for the american aviation even better. and we look at interest at our witnesses. >> senator johanns? >> mr. chairman, thank you.
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my comments will be very, very brief. but let me tell you what i'm thinking about and hoping to accomplish through this process. i think the burden is on the airlines to prove to the american people that when we get on for the price of our ticket, whatever that is, that we're going to have a well-experienced crew who will treat us politely and decently. an airplane that is safe as can possibly be and i think really the burden is there. when i think about this flight and i feel so badly for these families but this hearing is bigger than that one flight. i think about questions about, is the plane safe? what's the inspection background of this airplane? what would the service records show me if i were to take a look at them?
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i ask myself does the train have the training, the background, the discipline, have they gotten a good night's sleep so they can handle all situations. i had a pilot -- a dear friend of mine -- he flew small planes who said to me, you know, flying is hours and hours of boredom followed by moments of sheer terror. and, you know, that always stuck with me. i ask myself does the crew know when they are entering a situation that is beyond their capability? or their airplane's capability? ..
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perspective. i will be anxious to ask several questions. i don't want you to take any of them personally. this is an important issue as just described by several senators here in regards to safety for our air flights. as people walk into the flames -- planes assuming they're safe, we want to make sure they continue to improve. i am coming from 2 perspective and i hope you recognize that. thank you very much. >> i too want to thank you for
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calling the hearing and i thank our analysts for being here, especially mr. mauer, my condolences to you in your family and all the families, a very tragic incident and i applaud you for committing yourself to making sure this doesn't happen to any other families. thank you for your efforts and the courageous work you are doing. coming from a state like mine, we have heavy reliance on regional airlines, they play an important role transporting passengers from smaller communities who otherwise would not have scheduled air service. i don't think -- no one is arguing we shouldn't take our overall aviation safety record for granted, there's also room for improvement. we want to ensure the faa and the airline that doing what they can to improve the safety record when it comes not only to regional airlines but all airlines, and i want to home in on something we discussed last
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week, mr. chairman, that is the need to incorporate more information regarding the background of pilots. it makes sense that we work to ensure the f a incorporates a more accurate picture of a prospective pilot's flight history when an airline is looking to make a hiring decision. voluntarily requesting this information isn't good enough. there is more that congress can require when updating a pilot's record improvement. we can work on that in this committee to make sure those changes, clearly that came into play in this very tragic incident. thank you for holding the hearing and i want to thank our panelists and the look forward to hearing from you. >> thank you. as several of my colleagues have mentioned, we look at these issues through the lens of tragedy, regrettably. but in many cases, i expect mauer is here, we will improve
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lives and improve airline safety and all of us would embrace that goal. with that in mind, we have 4 witnesses. i want to call on mr. jim may, president and chief executive officer of the air transport association of america. you and i have discussed all of the issues that have been discussed this morning, the same is the case with mr. cohen. let me say to all 4 of you that your entire statement is part of the permanent record and we ask that you summarize your remarks. please pull that very close and turn it on. >> thank you, mr. chairman, good morning. let me share my condolences with mr. mauer and other representatives of the families that lost loved ones aboard the kogan air flight. is this terrible tragedy. the airline industry safety is our highest priority. we try very hard to assure that
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we never compromise safety because of economic conditions, we work closely with all members of the aviation community including regional airlines, achieve extraordinary records, no fatalities for mainline carriers in the past number of years and it is in that spirit that i appeared before you today with the understanding that no accident is acceptable. we have a responsibility to understand, through rigorous and searching inquiry, the causes of the buffalo accident and to take what ever single or multiple corrective measures are needed. in light of that responsibility, we are very fortunate that there are 3 expert government forms in which scrutinies happen today. this is as it should be. the public needs to be confident in the response to aviation safety issues. the national transportation safety board's ongoing investigation is going to produce a far more compte


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