tv Confirmation Hearing for Transportation Dept. Nominees CSPAN December 16, 2021 10:03am-12:10pm EST
full committee hearing today on the nomination for several positions to very important nominations to the department of transportation. we welcome the nominees and families and thank them for their willingness to serve. let's consider the nomination of rear admiral phillips. welcome to you and your family. we are facing challenges in the maritime industries, from concerns about sexual assault at the merchant marine academy and the need to ease congestion at ports. phillips has served as the chief of naval operations.
after 31 years of service, she continues to serve as a special assistant to ralph northam with a focus on adaptation and -- the first female director of -- i look forward to seeing her confirmed as the next administrator. next, the nomination of dr. steven cliff will be considered for the post of administrator of the national highway traffic safety administration. welcome. this mission is to save lives, injuries, prevent accidents and hopefully help -- the bipartisan
infrastructure law included new safety mandates that will be required to implement. a law includes historic funding levels for highway safety grants that will help combat impaired driving and improve occupant protection and safety. at a time when roadway fatalities are at the highest level since 2007 and electric vehicles are becoming a part of our economy, is more important than ever to have leadership at nhtsa to take on these challenges. dr. cliff sirs as deputy administrator at nhtsa with an extensive scientific and regulatory background. in addition to working at the university of california at davis, he has held various positions at the california air resource board, including most
recently as deputy executive officer. is working included program oversight of regulation and working on program development. i look forward to asking you some important safety questions relating to nhtsa. finally, the nomination considered for the general counsel for the department of transportation, the chief legal officer of the department and legal advisor to the secretary, at also overseeing the office of aviation consumer protection. as we were talking before the hearing convened yesterday, yesterday's hearing, the need to focus on consumers refund issues and the roles the dot has on that is an important issue to get consumers the refunds they deserve. also, the responsibilities involve coordinating regulatory and legislative
effort. these nominations come in the wake of the infrastructure law, providing funds to the department for various things and incorporating safety rulemaking. the counsel's office will be tasked with setting up programs for freight infrastructure, something that many on this committee have interest in, and as we have seen, problems in our supply chain can cascade throughout our economy. the department also has jurisdiction over civil aviation. the committee has been focused on aviation systems, making sure they are safe and that the ecosystem is poised to grow. congress has done work in this respect, including the aviation manufacturing jobs program, mandating safety rulemaking to make sure consumers are
protected. mr. putnam, i plan to ask you about the department's work to expedite rulemaking as part of the aviation safety law we passed last year that senator wicker and i worked diligently on and our team. part of that rulemaking includes a safety management system requirement for manufacturers. this is critical and one of the key recommendations not only of our committee but other organizations around the world. safety management systems are critical for aviation. and also, as i mentioned, i wanted to ask you about what we are doing about the backlog of consumer complaints about airlines failure to refund during the pandemic and about what the department is going to do on pipeline safety. just yesterday, a grand jury
indicted amplify energy and subsidiarity's for behavior in the aftermath of an oil spill in california, referencing multiple warnings ignored, allegedly, by amplify energy, including eight alarms for leak detection systems over eight hours. amplify failed, is the allegation, to turn off the pipeline and report the alarm, which possibly resulted in one -- in potentially avoidable harm to our ecosystem. this bill was caused by a ship's anchor dragging a pipeline. the coast guard must improve the oversight of pipeline and anchorage location and we must assess the risk posed by existing pipelines near shipping channels and anchorages. this is why it is important to have leadership at the department of transportation, so
i look forward to your confirmation and leadership on these issues. thank you again for your willingness to serve. i turn it over to my colleague, senator wicker, the ranking member, for his opening statement. sen. wicker: thank you. we have worked together closely on items such as the airline legislation. on these nominees, secretary buttigieg came to visit some of us in the capitol last week, so i do appreciate the chair calling this hearing today and seeking to move forward on these nominations. these positions are key leadership roles at dot, making it all the more vital that the committee assess each nominee's qualifications and plans. mr. cliff is serving as -- mr.
putnam is serving as deputy general counsel at dot, undoubtedly giving him valuable experience with the duties of general counsel, and has practiced transportation law in private practice, so i look forward to seeing how these credentials could benefit the public. dr. cliff is deputy administrator of nhtsa. he joined the department from the california air resources board as deputy executive director. he also worked for the department of transportation of california and as a professor at cal davis. i am curious to hear how these roles will inform his approach at nhtsa. his testimony today will allow him to articulate through the committee how he plans to improve safety for the traveling public. rear admiral phillips is presently serving as the special assistant to governor northam for coastal adaptation and
protection. she has a distinguished career in the u.s. navy for 30 years, retiring with the rank of rear admiral in 2013. i'm interested to hear from her regarding her plans on carrying out the critical duties of administrator, including oversight of the merchant marine academy and its program, as the chair mentioned, in addition to strategic efforts to grow the u.s. fleet. i want to note that i am disappointed and puzzled at one entity's recent refusal to provide trafficking assistance, improving protections for shipment, which is a bipartisan provision to address sexual harassment and assault problems that we have. and that the academy is
determined to address also. they came as a surprise to me. i hope admiral phillips, if confirmed, will work for a collaborative relationship and assist the legislative branch when possible. i want to thank all these nominees and the chair for expeditiously calling this hearing and i yield back. sen. cantwell: thank you, senator wicker. rear admiral, we will start with you. we are asking each of you to give five minutes of testimony, submit anything longer for the record, and we certainly welcome you, if you would like to introduce your family or any other additional statements. thank you. rear adm. phillips: thank you, madam chair. senator cantwell, ranking member wicker, members, it is an honor to hear before you today for the position of maritime and further. i want to thank president biden
and secretary buttigieg for nominating to this role that's critical to our economic and national security. i would like to introduce my husband, who is watching virtually, and my brother, jonathan phillips, who is here today. if i'm honored enough to be confirmed, i will work diligently to execute the responsibilities of maritime administrator in a position that is key in the department of transportation as we work to strengthen our merchant marine, the resilience of our supply chain and implement a historic investment in maritime infrastructure. i intend to work closely with members of this committee and your colleagues to advance our goals. i know from my experience on the staff of the chief of naval operations the critical work of congressional committees and how hard you work to meet the needs of your constituents and committee -- and communities. i know how important it is to
listen and work with you to find broad, bipartisan solutions to the challenges we face. during my career, i have the honor of holding command at sea three times at several levels. as a commander in strike group two, i worked to ensure capacity and support for a host of strategic response missions. as a result of my experience in this and other assignments, i understand the critical role of our commercial merchant marine in providing the vital sea lift on which our military provides, and have seen many of the challenges facing our commercial fleet. i served as deputy director and director of surface warfare in the pentagon, submitting a plan for the provision of the service force, including weapons system and trading systems and retired as rear admiral in 2013. i have served as a special
assistant to governor ralph northam for coastal protection in virginia, developing and delivering the commonwealth's first master plan to put forward strategies to protect coastal infrastructure from sea level rise and coastal hazards. throughout my career, safety has been at the forefront of my mission. the foundational priority for u.s. dot will always be safety. likewise, safety will be the northstar for the maritime administration should i have the honor of being confirmed. in addition, for the ma my -- addition, for the ma, my priorities will be a competitive, safe and modern maritime industry capable of sealift requirements and capable of competing. second, to continue work initiated by dot to address
challenges to the merchant marine academy, including measures to induce a safe training environment on campus and at sea, where sexual assault and harassment are not tolerated, further advancing the ongoing efforts to advance the academy's infrastructure challenges and supporting effective governance and tackling the other issues enumerated in the study recently released by the national academy of public administration. third and finally, support effective and speedy implementation of the grant program authorized under the infrastructure, investment and jobs at. as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we have a once in a generation opportunity to improve our maritime systems, supply chain infrastructure, and industry, and ensure that it equitably serves all americans and communities of all sizes. i look forward to working closely with you all to
achieve these goals. i'm confident my lifetime of service at sea, my experience commanding maritime operations, my background managing physical resources for the surface force, and my recent experience crafting coastal at action -- coastal adaptation strategies for virginia has prepared me to serve as maritime administrator. i think the committee for the opportunity for allowing me to appear here today and i welcome questions. sen. cantwell: thank you. dr. cliff, welcome. you are welcome to make your opening statement. dr. cliff: thank you, chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of the committee. i'm honored to if -- to hear before you today. i want to thank the president and secretary buttigieg, my wife
and children and everyone watching online. i spent my entire career as a public servant, first as a scientist at the university of california at davis, and then for more than a decade in various technical and leadership roles in the california government. now, if honored enough to be confirmed, i will draw upon this experience to make the transportation system safer. the mission of saving lives is very personal to me, just as it is for too many americans. in high school, i rode in a caravan with a group of friends to the beach. one of the cars, driven by my best friend, crossed the median, flipped and collided with another car. pylons were the only median barriers at the time. three of the four occupants, including my best friend, were killed.
my life was changed forever. this tragedy let my parents in my hometown to start an event to reduce tragedies like this, and while alcohol or drugs played a role in what i described, these safe and sober graduation night parties have no doubt prevented many senseless deaths since that day. since february of 2021, i have served as deputy administrator at nhtsa, working with some of the most professional public servants i have ever encountered. nhtsa is focused on making vehicles safer for everyone and integrating policies that make transportation more safe, equitable and sustainable. like the rest of the department, i am concerned about the increase in traffic fatalities during the pandemic. secretary buttigieg rightfully called it a crisis. while many stopped driving in the early days of the pandemic, those who remained on the road were more likely to engage
in risky behaviors. we have seen an unprecedented rise in road weight -- in roadway fatalities that i'm committed to turning around. we have a lot to learn about why driving behaviors changed the pandemic, how we can encourage people to make safer choices, and change the culture that accepts the loss of thousands of people in roadway crashes as inevitable. we continue to work with safety stakeholders around the country to develop countermeasures, but more work needs to be done. a cultural change will take a transformational and collaborative approach to safety. everyone, including those who design, operate, build and use the road system shares responsibility for road safety. by taking a safe systems approach, we commit to improving safety for all road users. it incorporates the five e's, equity, engineering, education, enforcement and emergency medical services.
the bipartisan infrastructure law will be central to these efforts, increasing nhtsa's budget by 50%, the largest investment in motor vehicle and highway safety since nhtsa was established over 50 years ago. this funding will improve our understanding of where and how crashes happen by improving data quality and expanding reporting, moving from paper-based collection systems to digital. the law will broaden the trash investigation sampling system by -- the crash investigation sampling system by expanding the number of sites and enhancing protocols. these improvements will allow us to understand in real-time the causes of crashes and help us address them. nhtsa is also responsible for setting the corporate average fuel economy standards. i am committed to making the transportation fleet as
efficient as possible to save billions at the pump, improve the country's energy security and protect the environment. we will focus on safe, equitable and environmentally protective policies. if i have the honor of being confirmed as administrator of nhtsa, i commit to continuing to work with members of this committee to improve roadway safety, foster innovation, advanced transportation equity and address climate change. chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of the committee, thank you for your consideration. i look forward to your questions. sen. cantwell: thank you, dr. cliff. thank you for sharing that very personal story. thank you for sharing that with us. i will bet you every member of this committee knows of an experience like the one you described, so thank you and thanks to your family for also trying to do something for young people. mr. putnam, welcome.
thank you for your willingness to serve. mr. putnam: thank you very much. chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of the committee, i am humbled and honored to appear before you today as the nominee for general counsel for the u.s. department of transportation. i would like to begin by thanking the president and secretary buttigieg for the faith they have placed in me. this opportunity to serve as the privilege of a lifetime. i would like to thank my wife, children and family and friends watching remotely. since january of 2021, i have been deputy general counsel for the department. during these 11 months, i have worked with and overseen the efforts of approximately 500 dedicated and highly skilled department attorneys and staff addressing numerous transportation legal issues to improve safety, advance equity, strengthen our economy, address climate change, protect consumers and foster innovation.
near term, the most significant challenge and opportunity that we face in the general counsel's office is the implementation of the present's infrastructure law, the once in a generation law enacted by congress last month. it will restore and repair roads, bridges and other infrastructure while focusing on economic opportunity, climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety. it makes the largest investment in public transit and rail passenger service in our history and improves transportation options for millions of americans. it will also strengthen supply chain and enhance resilience by making necessary improvements at our ports, airports, rail and highways. it will reduce carbon emissions, promote safety and repair our economy for new and innovative technologies. the investment will create many good paying jobs across the
country for years to come. however, historic legislation like the bipartisan infrastructure law must be meshed with the effective implementation to make sure its potential is achieved in a transparent, compliant and compatible manner. the office of general counsel has a critical role to play in this. my experience in the transportation law office has prepared me well for this role. prior to joining the administration, i worked most of my career as a transportation and environmental and energy attorney in colorado and in washington, d.c., working with governments and private entities nationwide on a variety of issues. most recently, i served as director of environmental programs for the colorado department of public health and environment. in my role as director, i worked closely with other state apartments, residents and
businesses for transportation projects, rural prosperity, greenhouse gas reduction, environment will justice and other programs. if i have the honor of being confirmed by this committee in the senate, i found to work with you to strengthen the department, maintain safety as its guiding priority. i further commit to continue leading in an office of general counsel that is responsive to congressional oversight and the expertise shared by you and your staff. i view these principles as vital to the achievement of our shared success. chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of this committee, thank you again for your consideration and the opportunity to appear before you. i would be pleased to answer any questions. sen. cantwell: thank you. i will start with you, but we have lots of questions, so there may be a second round and i
would appreciate everyone being here. the department of transportation has received 5129 refund complaints about airline issues, and you are looking at a spring of 2022 rulemaking. are you going to clarify what significant delays are? this issue has come up about, you know, if the flight is delayed more than to the next day. we do something to help address that? mr. putnam: the rulemaking on the calendar for this spring is addressing the question of refunds as well as addressing some of the definitions of unfair and deceptive practices. we are having conversations right now with the aviation consumer protection advisory committee on that question of
delays and how to define significant delays and the characterization of that. i would anticipate that would be the subject of future rulemaking based on whatever recommendations the acpac may have. sen. cantwell: a deadline for the faa to issue a final rule on safety management systems has been implemented. will you work to meet this deadline and work with others on the implementation of it? rear adm. phillips: thank you. the -- mr. putnam: thank you. the answer is yes. it is a priority for me and the department to extend safety management systems across aviation, certainly covering manufacturing. sen. cantwell: thank you. dr. cliff, what is your plan to address the regulatory backlog related to the mandates in the
bipartisan infrastructure bill? there are 11 new vehicle safety rulemakings, including mandates for advanced safety technology, including automatic emergency braking. i already know you are facing a big backlog, so how are you going to help us get these issues addressed? dr. cliff: thank you for your question. thankfully, the law provides a lot of additional resources for the department. as i mentioned, a 50% increase in our budget. there's a number of rulemakings, as you know, that have been mandated by previous transportation bills, and there's a serious backlog there, as well as a number of new mandates in the recent bipartisan infrastructure law. if confirmed, i will make it a priority to get rid of the backlog and work with this committee to ensure we are moving forward on the new mandates. in fact, as deputy, i have been
working diligently with my team to address the backlog and, as you may have seen from the fall regulatory agenda, we have aggressive deadlines for those rulemakings. we are looking forward to using the new resources and appreciate your leadership on getting those to us to address this. sen. cantwell: rear admiral, if confirmed, you will oversee the merchant marine academy. you have heard about the challenges we are facing their. a report found that the academy suffers from staffing and leadership problems to solve these problems. if confirmed, are you willing to step in personally to fix these issues at the academy, including addressing the issue of sexual assault? rear adm. phillips: thank you for your question. yes, i am willing to step in personally to address the challenges at the merchant marine academy, particularly starting with the challenges
regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment, but also, i'm familiar with the outcomes and reporting from the report and will work diligently with your staff at others and with the staff in the maritime administration and d.o.t. to continue their hard work and make progress for the maritime academy. sen. cantwell: including working with us on drafting legislation? rear adm. phillips: yes, chair. yes, chair cantwell. i will work with you on the drafting of legislation. sen. cantwell: it is important across every agency we oversee, particularly when there is this element of safety and oversight, we have just got to get clear about where agencies are and where we are and what we can do to implement them. there is just so much change happening, we have to be more in sync and working together. if people don't support something, they can tell us, but we have to get some common ground on many of these issues.
do you support the jones act? rear adm. phillips: yes, chair cantwell. i support the jones act. sen. cantwell: thank you. lastly, back to you, mr. putnam. i mentioned to you this issue of the california spill. part of the issue is that, you know, we have so much anchorage. we just need additional safeguards in this system. will you commit to reviewing the regulations in light of the california spill and implementation programs -- and implementing programs to help us have oversight on responding to alarms and the issue of too much anchorage around pipelines? if we basically have given exemptions to allow ships to anchor their and there's more traffic and congestion, we are putting ourselves at risk. mr. putnam: the answer is yes. we are reviewing the california incident and other incidents and
will continue that process, especially including the implementation of a pipe deck an 2020. sen. cantwell: thank you. senator wicker? sen. wicker: thank you. the chair is correct. we have a lot we need to get to. 94% of fatalities in automobile deaths are as a result of human error. you agree with that statistic, do you not? >> i think behavioral circumstances are a factor in 94%. i would not necessarily sate is human error in all cases. sen. wicker: behavioral? ok. and we are past the point of having to debate whether automated vehicles will provide much more safety for the american driving public. we are past that point, are we
not? dr. cliff: thank you, ranking member wicker. it is a great question. and i believe, as the secretary buttigieg has said, automated driving systems offer the potential for much more safety as a result of the statistic you mentioned, as well as offering the opportunity to drive down the cost of transportation and providing more sustainability. sen. wicker: that's at least a twofer. i wrote a letter in october raising concerns about the lack of agency action regarding autonomous vehicle technology this year. we received a response last night, which i asked to insert into the record. sen. cantwell: without objection. sen. wicker: thank you. let me ask you, dr. cliff. what action will nhtsa take on with regard to what my letter addressed?
can you outline for the committee the actions nhtsa will take in the next six months with regard to autonomous vehicles? and will the roadway safety strategy to be released next month include policy on autonomous vehicles? dr. cliff: thank you for the question, ranking member wicker. we are -- our approach to automated driving technologies is to prioritize safety. nothing in the vehicle safety act gets in the way of the safe testing and piloting of these technologies. the approach that we are taking is to ensure that we have more data to help inform future action, and in light of that, we, this summer, put forth a standing general order, which requires the reporting of crash safety data to nhtsa. it is important we have those
data, because in order to move forward on any sort of rulemaking, we need additional data and research inform those actions, so the data we are collecting as part of the standing general orders is the first step in determining what further actions will be necessary. sen. wicker: so the answer would be, because we have not been able to collect the data quite as soon as we had hoped, we are going to have to wait on setting out our plan for the next six months to a year? dr. cliff: thank you, ranking member wicker. we have put out a rulemaking that establishes a framework for thomas vehicles and -- for autonomous vehicles and we have collected comments and are reviewing. there's a number of actions the department can take, including research, data collection efforts, and looking at the stakeholder comments on the framework, that will help inform future action.
sen. wicker: this could save lives. i really hope we can speed it along. you want to be careful and i want you to be. mr. putnam, i voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and it has a lot of hard infrastructure in it, and really much more, contrary to some of the things we hear, but there is some concern about the pace of federal permitting. the department of transportation has an opportunity to make a lot of investments. what steps will you take to improve and speed up the permitting process? and do you agree that's a problem? mr. putnam: thank you, ranking member wicker. certainly, achieving rapid
permitting will be critical to realizing the potential of the bipartisan infrastructure law, so we are taking a number of steps. first and foremost, we will be implement in the one federal decision permission -- provision of the law, which includes steps to streamline the permitting process, but we are looking beyond that point to the potential for new categorical exclusions, the potential for other process improvements, so that we can speed along those approvals, focus on the ones that deserve the attention, and clear the way so that we can, you know, move on impactful and likely impactful projects. sen. wicker: there will likely be the opportunity for questions for the record. i want to thank you, madam chair, for underscoring what i said about executive departments working with the legislative committees to get things right. it seems to me rear admiral
phillips would been a great position to understand what our midshipmen go through on the sea and emphasizing the importance of having that sea year. it is supposed to restart december 22 and we expect the leadership to go through with what they told us they would, but perhaps i will have a chance to ask that question, but we have, to me, a resource who has been to sea and perhaps has experienced what our young cadets are seeing now and is in a position to really help us get a grasp on how to stop these harassments and attacks. thank you. sen. cantwell: thank you for those comments. senator klobuchar? sen. klobuchar: thank you, chairwoman.
thank you to our nominees. i will focus my questions on dr. cliff, because i have long been involved in working on distracted driving, going back to the head of the department of transportation taking on this issue as one of his major focuses, and i think that's because we know it has gotten worse. eight people die and more than 1000 are injured every day in crashes involving distracted driving, and earlier this year, i introduced a bill to create a grant program with nhtsa to encourage states to implement laws banning all non-navigational mobile devices while driving, such as streaming video or video calls on cell phones. i personally see drivers doing this in my own state, driving by them, and you see someone on a video call, and the bill was signed into law last month as
part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. can you talk about how important it is to educate drivers and especially teens about the dangers of distracted driving and what more we need to do? i mean, their spirits and there's sticks, but more needs to happen. -- i mean, there's carrots and there's sticks, but more needs to happen. dr. cliff: thank you. the number of people who die in traffic accidents every year as likely to be underreported. nevertheless, we know it is an important issue. we are committed to working on this. we appreciate the new resources that are in the bipartisan infrastructure law to help us do additional research on this and we actually look at the state and local actions that can be taken to educate those in their
state when distraction is a particular issue, so thankfully, about a 30% increase in the budget goes to state highway safety offices, and will help in that education really mentioned. sen. klobuchar: -- sen. klobuchar: right, and i think we will see how important that will be. only 20% of car owners consider recalls to ba top priority -- to be a top priority, and the infrastructure bill includes a provision to direct nhtsa to study how to incentivize vehicle owners to get recalled cars repaired and ways to make recall notices more accessible and easier. i have had my own experiences with this and i'm sure everyone has. how do we help consumers understand that they need to get their vehicles repaired? dr. cliff: thank you for that
question. recalls are a great way to enhance safety before an accident occurs. if we know there is a problem with the vehicle that needs to be addressed, we want the vehicle to be fixed, and the infrastructure law has resources to incentivize that. in particular, the department of motor vehicles having a relationship with the vehicle owner to get information out about recalls. i would know that for anyone who has a vehicle, there's an opportunity to check for recalls. you would be surprised. go to our website and put in your vin number or download the safer car app and it will inform you if there is a recall. sen. klobuchar: ok. last subject, next-generation 911. senator burr and i had up one caucus -- and i head up one
caucus dealing with that. there are ways to improve the 91 1 system. the build back better bill includes $500 million for nhtsa to begin modernizing the 911 system in a way that i think we really need. can you speak to the importance of upgrading 911 systems and your plans for coordinating with another agency if confirmed? dr. cliff: thank you for that question. we look forward to coordinating with them should that bill passed. next to -- next-generation 911 is a critical element of our emergency services system. two out of five crash victims is alive when emergency responders arrived on scene, so having better 911 systems to coordinate with primary care is a real
opportunity to improve outcomes for crash victims, and we definitely will work with, if confirmed, ntia, to provide any information we have to make that program successful. thank you. sen. klobuchar:. -- sen. klobuchar: thank you. sen. cantwell: next, senator fischer, then senator tester and blackburn. sen. fischer: thank you for being here today. dr. cliff, on october 28, nhtsa reported that in the first six months of this year, traffic fatalities increased 18% over last year, and went on to say that the estimated 20,160 deaths is the highest in the first half of a year since 2006. based on your understanding, why are we seeing this concerning increase in highway fatalities?
dr. cliff: thank you, senator, for your question. the contributing factors are the same as those that we saw pre-pandemic, but during the pandemic, we have seen that drivers are willing to take riskier action, that is excessive speeding, impaired driving, both alcohol impaired and drug use, as well as being him belted -- being unbelted. more than 10,000 fatalities reported were individuals not wearing a seatbelt, so more education about the dangers of risky driving is going to be extremely important, as well as new technological improvements that will help reduce some of those trends that we see from the uptick in fatalities that you note. sen. fischer: in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed, it provides nhtsa with $2.7 billion in new funding over the next five years.
as you noted in your testimony, that's roughly a 50% increase from previous levels. how do you plan on using the new funding and, specifically, how do you plan on focusing in on this concerning spike we are seeing? dr. cliff: thank you you, senator, for your question. about two thirds of nhtsa's budget goes through to states for the state highway safety programs, so a large portion of that money will flow to the states in order to provide more opportunity for states to focus on issues that they determine are leading to traffic crashes, so that's one of our opportunities. we also have a huge increase in the research budget that will provide us more opportunity to do vehicle safety research as well as behavioral research, and then, very importantly, the electronic data transfer and
crash investigation sampling system will give us more real-time data and better information about what leads to crashes so that we can perform interventions, policy interventions, the help drive down those terrible outcomes. sen. fischer: thank you. admiral phillips, how would you assess the overall state of the sealift fleet? we had a conversation earlier and i appreciate your comments, but how would you assess it? rear adm. phillips: we did, senator. thank you for your question. as you pointed out, we talked about the need to maintain a strong and vibrant sealift support system in support of our national infrastructure and national security. we know from numerous studies that we are not there. should i have the honor to be confirmed, i look forward to working with you and this committee and your staff and the
every morning talking on a cell phone, not paying attention to traffic lights, to what is going on around them. we can study this issue and we are probably all guilty of this at some point in time in our driving history, but it is not acceptable. it is worse than drunk driving, quite frankly, and drunk driving is really bad. what are we going to do about this? there are communities that have passed laws. we know what the problem is. >> thank you for that question. there is a real opportunity to continue messaging about cell phone yes and -- phone use and distraction in general. it accounts for more than 3000 fatalities, but we think that is vastly underreported. >> i would agree. dr. cliff: and there's much more
opportunity for education and we need a safe systems approach. the issue is that people make mistakes, but an individual making a mistake should not lead to their death, so we need to be thinking more holistically about how we address safety from the driver to the vehicle to the technology to the vehicle to the infrastructure. >> i hope you are able to do something on those things. truthfully, i think we know what the problem is. real solutions, reducing actual physical action, can help a lot. i am not big on putting restrictions on people, but on the other hand, we need to figure out how to fix this. one question for mr. putnam. we talked about rapid permitting with some of the previous questioners, and that will be critically important on the bipartisan infrastructure package and others. how do you square rapid permitting with public safety?
dr. cliff: i missed the last part -- mr. putnam: i missed the last part. sen. tester: how do you square rapid permitting with public input on the projects? mr. putnam: thank you for that question. it is a great question. so very little of the process time involves actually getting input, so i think part of it is focusing on those elements, not collecting the public input. it is vital we get the public input early because that actually can help us focus on actual issues and problems, solve those problems early, so you can get a project on track to success, a better project at the end of the day. it is a balance and it will be one of the areas we are looking at closely, but we are committed to getting that public input. it is essential, the law, but also leads to better outcomes.
sen. tester: thank you. madam chair, i hope we can get these people out of committee quickly. i think they are good people and i hope nobody holds them up so they can get to their jobs. i think it is important. sen. cantwell: thank you, senator tester. senator blackburn? sen. blackburn: thank you and congratulations to each of you on your nomination and for being here. mr. putnam, tu. -- mr. putnam, to you. yesterday, we had a little conversation about spectrum, and i am sure you have seen that the faa had come up. they were voicing some last-minute opposition to 5g deployment and creating problems when 39 countries have already deployed 5g. nobody has had these. and these problems are -- and d.o.t. does have some
significant spectrum holdings, and that mid band spectrum, if it is not being used, we need to get it back, recoup it, auction it, and get it out there, so i would like to hear from you how you would see working with the ntia and the fcc to ensure that spectrum is going to move into the pipeline and get there for consumers and that we are wisely managing the spectrum. >> thank you for your question, senator blackburn. certainly there's great economic value associated with providing additional spectrum, but at the same time, we need to ensure, as the department of transportation and with the faa, that the
provision of that spectrum -- >> we are going to break away from this hearing to bring you what we believe will be a brief session in the u.s. house as we keep the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. the chair lays before the house a communication from the speaker. the clerk: the speaker's rooms, washington, d.c. december 16, 2021. i hereby appoint the honorable g.k. butterfield to act as speaker pro tempore on this day. signed, nancy pelosi, speaker of the house of representatives. the speaker pro tempore: the prayer will be offered by our beloved chaplain, chaplain kibben. chaplain kibben: would you pray with me. come lord, quickly come and
disspell our fear. shine your glory around us and break into our darkness. take away the anxiety that binds us to our own doubts and prevents us from receiving the wholeness found in you. pick us up from our missteps and misfortunes that we would walk confidently in the pads you would have us go -- paths you would have us go. come, lord, quickly come and speak your word that we may rejoice in your presence and live in your light. may we hear the words of your salvation, your messages have shared throughout enternity. let us receive the testimonies of those who walk in faith that our own belief would be strengthened. come, lord, quickly come, be among your people and reveal
your presence in our lives. invite us to see and to trust in the miraculous work you are doing in and among us today and every day. come, lord, quickly come. in the joy of your name we pray. may nen. amen. pursuant to section 11-a ofhouse journal of the last day's proceedings is approved, the journal of the last day's proceedings is approved. the chair will lead the house now in the pledge of allegiance. please join me. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the chair will receive a message. the messenger: mr. speaker, messages from the senate.
the secretary: mr. speaker. i have been directed by the senate to inform the house that the senate has agreed to the amendment to s.1605. an act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2022 for military activities of the department of defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the department of energy to proscribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: enrolled bills and joint resolution were signed by the speaker on the following dates. tuesday, december 14, 2021. the clerk: to reset designate the federal building located at 167 north main street in memphis, tennessee, as the odell house reporton federal building. h.r. 4660, to designate the federal building in the united states courthouse located at 1125 in wheeling, west virginia
as the federal p. stamp jr. united states and federal courthouse. the speaker pro tempore: wednesday, december 15, 2021. the secretary: senate joint resolution 33 -- the clerk: joint resolution, relating to increasing the debt limit. the speaker pro tempore: the chair lay -- lays before the house a message. the clerk: the honorable the speaker, house of representatives. madam. pursuant to the permission granted in clause 2-h of rule 2 of the rules of the u.s. house of representatives, the clerk received the following message from the secretary of the senate on december 15, 2021, at 11:58a.m. that the senate passed senate 1097. senate 1543. signed, sincerely, cheryl l. johnson, clerk. the speaker pro tempore: the chair would inform the house that pursuant to house resolution 851, the speaker has certified to the united states attorney for the district of
columbia the refusal of mark randall meadows to appear before a deppation before the select -- roadmap for the state that included a number of specific elements, including transportation. >> we look forward to seeing you work at d.o.t.. i apologize for having the confusion on our meeting yesterday. in october the biden administration announced several supply chain actions, such as expanding the hours of operation at the port of los angeles. the ma received -- the maritime
administration received funding, $2.5 billion for the port infrastructure development program. how will the maritime administration use this funding to address the supply chain issues? >> senator, thank you for that question. i am honored to have an opportunity to speak with you. as you are aware, i am not yet in the building, but the program that is most affected in addressing supply chain issues from the maritime administration's perspective will be the port infrastructure development program. this is in existence and has been effective. however, this generational opportunity with the bipartisan infrastructure law, we will be able to do more with that particular program. should i have the honor to be confirmed, i look forward to working on that. the program can focus on greenhouse gas emissions, considering economic impacts, and decarbon icing them across
stages -- decarbonizing them across stages. thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law. >> i agree completely. it will be the long-term consequences and investments that really matter. let's switch a little bit. the bipartisan infrastructure bill includes an amendment that we put together that directs d.o.t. to issue a report identifying barriers to researching marijuana. obviously, the report would help to develop federal marijuana incumbent standards for drivers. when we first legalize recreational marijuana in colorado, which i opposed at the beginning -- i thought there would be all kinds of increases in teenage driving and teenage
consumption, frequency of use. we haven't seen any of that, but we recognize that we don't have a good way to measure the intoxication level. we use five nanograms in thc in the blood as the state standard. the national highway traffic safety administration issued a report on marijuana impaired driving in 2017. if you are confirmed, are you willing to commit to working with this committee to develop a federal marijuana impaired driving standard so we can have something as a national standard? >> thank you, senator hickenlooper. if i am confirmed i look forward to working with this committee on impaired driving, and in particular the marijuana issue you mentioned. >> it is one of those things, it's not going away. it's coming. we need to address it and get
ahead of it as soon as we can. >> is senator young or scott -- senator rosen? >> thank you, madam chair. i appreciate that. thank you to the witnesses for being here today. i want to start in on adapting to innovative transportation technology. nevada is proud to be on the cutting edge of innovative transportation technology. currently hosting the only statewide test site authorized by the faa, and we participate in several autonomous vehicle and transportation projects and we are supporting electric vehicle infrastructure and deployment. we are home to the hyper one test and the las vegas loop tunnel. last month a self-driving delivery country broke ground on a manufacturing facility in las vegas and will be building an innovative test track for its vehicles. underlying all of our state's
advances and contributions to transportation technology is a commitment to safety first and foremost and companies working to making technology -- can you share your thoughts how it will continue to meet its mission to save lives, reduce injuries, reduce economic cost to the boat crashes and setting rules to increasingly innovative transportation sector that uses autonomous vehicle technology with other forms of ai. also, i would say requires critical cybersecurity to safeguard. do you agree with secretary buttigieg who stated that he believes automated vehicles can make transportation safer, cleaner, more accessible, more efficient? >> thank you for that question. i agree with secretary buttigieg.
i appreciate your leadership on this issue. we have a number of tools i've already mentioned to help us ensure safety as we encourage more innovation. i think there is a lot of opportunity here for technology to help us address the tallies that we've seen increase on our roadways -- the fatalities that we've seen increase on our roadways. >> in nevada tourism tops our list of economic drivers. we want to support the traveling public. numerous members of this committee have heard me say many times, travel and tourism is the lifeblood of nevada's economy, and i would say most states in this nation. therefore, critical to our prosperity to make the air travel experience as enjoyable as possible on the planning stages to actually stepping off of the plane at the airport.
as you know, the office of general counsel at the department of transportation is responsible for the office of aviation consumer protection to respond to consumer complaints and promote awareness and understanding of consumer rights and a critical role in addressing concerns of the traveling public and wants to help foster a more comfortable experience partaking in business and leisure travel and need to keep it safe and enjoyable. can you talk about how, if confirmed, you plan to manage your specific responsibilities in the aviation consumer per protection space and your priorities for aviation consumer safety? >> thank you, senator rosen. i can say that one of my longest standing clients is the clark county department of aviation and the perry reed national airport. i certainly appreciate the
central role that aviation plays in the economy of las vegas and nevada. with regard to the aviation consumer protection role, it has been a major focus in my time as deputy general counsel. now certainly addressing the concerns we are hearing from concerns related to recalls, ensuring that we are addressing those complaints, ensuring that we are pushing through with the 18 active investigations we have related to the failure to pay recalls. looking at some of the rule-making that i've discussed with senator cantwell -- chair cantwell this morning, and ensuring that we are looking forward to making sure consumers have the right information and are protected correctly by the airlines. in addition, on the safety front, we are working with the federal aviation administration to ensure that safety-related rules are top priority of the department and we do everything
that we can to support those efforts. >> i appreciate it. i see that my time is just about up. i have a question on clean vehicles that i will submit for the record. >> thank you for your work on these issues. >> thank you, madam chair. let me start by talking a little bit about automated vehicles which i think will radically alter the way americans move, and it will be especially true for the elderly and persons with disabilities whose current transportation options are limited, especially in rural areas. it has the potential to reduce the more than 40,000 traffic fatalities that we see on roadways each year. while u.s. companies currently lead the world in av technology, this advantage cannot be taken from granted. the regulatory framework has to catch up with private-sector sector innovation for technologies to advance.
there are tens of thousands of good paying jobs and billions of dollars in investment at stake. av"s have the potential to transform the way that americans move in the u.s. must lead the world in this transportation revolution. i have worked over the past several years in a bipartisan fashion to enact automated vehicle legislation, which i believe is the key to ensuring that a.v. are tested and deployed under a safe regulatory framework and committed to advancing this emerging technology. a.v.s have the potential to dramatically reduce highway for counties and provide safe and accessible transportation for the elderly and disabled. i have been pleased to see recent actions to improve the -- to improve the testing and deployment of av's through the granting of petitions and granting to relevant legislation and i hope this department will build on that import work. if confirmed will you make
public confidence and make innovation more difficult. can you discussed the action you take to make a clear distinction between them? >> thank you for that question. you are absolutely correct that these are different technologies. i want to make clear that no vehicle available for purchase today is capable of driving itself. there is nothing that can replace a fully attentive human driver in vehicles available today. the standing general order that you mentioned provides us
critical crash safety data that is on a timely basis that will help inform our future actions. i believe that using that tool as well as other federal motor vehicle safety standards to drive forward this technology to make sure we have safety on the way to full into mentation -- full implementation. >> what step would you take to develop common nomenclature for the goal of mitigating confusion to misuse or abuse the systems? >> thank you, senator. >> we want the public to understand the capabilities of these systems and in the limitations of the system. that is part of our educational work. in terms of terminology we have adopted the levels of automation, and we make clear in our reporting framework that there are differences between
these technologies in terms of the reporting requirements. >> my time is about out, but with the additional funding that you have gotten from the infrastructure bill, can you describe what the agency is doing to understand the factors behind the increase and what countermeasures can be implemented to address this issue, particularly from the perspective of enforcing traffic laws and curbing reckless driving? i'm talking about the 40,000 people who die on the nation's roadways each year. the alarming increase that we've seen. >> thank you, senator. you are correct. this is an alarming increase. most of the money we get as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, two thirds of our budget flows through states to address the issues you are talking about. a data-driven approach in each state will help address the most
expectations raised and the promises made. advanced driving systems and automated driving systems have the potential to increase safety on the road, no question, but they need to be implemented with caution. i am disappointed they have relied on voluntary unenforceable guidelines and programs instead of taking meaningful action. instead of relying on companies to voluntarily share information. when my staff checked yesterday they saw data from only 32 companies. there are more than 80 a.v. companies in the united states. the voluntary system is not working. we need a mandatory reporting system.
to require companies to report crashes for advanced and automated driving systems engaged. it is only a first step. it simply doesn't go far enough. it is a need to take regulatory action to implement basic standards for a.v. developers. i have been saying this again and again and again. i hope that you are hearing it from my colleagues as well as myself loud and clear. you told me when we spoke that the standing order was needed so they could collect data on av crashes and use it to create justifiable data-driven regulations. it has been more than six months. when do you anticipate these rules will be ready? >> thank you, senator for that question.
the standing general order that you mentioned is providing us very useful data. we hope to make that data public in the very near future. this information is going to be invaluable in determining the actions going forward. >> what is the timetable? >> the general order is very new. we've only been getting data for about four months. we are going to have to continue to look at the data and understand what's next. these -- >> i really want a commitment. it doesn't have to be precise. six months, six years? your agency, and this is not personal to you, is
about how it could impact the application process for deepwater ports licensing. there are pending -- five pending. four of those five are off of the coast of texas. blue marlin, bluewater, golf link, and seaport oil terminal. -- gulf link, and seaport oil terminal. once operational these deepwater ports increase our energy export capabilities, establish greater energy security, and support the environment by displacing highly polluting foreign sources of energy. even though the u.s. energy-related co2 emissions have declined by 15% since 2007, and they continue to decline, president biden and his appointees have been deeply
hostile to any and all projects involved in the transport of oil and natural gas. i am concerned that the administrations approach will be extended to the deepwater projects in the state of texas, the economic and energy security of the nation, and the national security interests of the nation . admiral phillips, if confirmed you will be in a position to approve or deny applications for port project licenses. knowing the benefits of these projects to the u.s. economy and our national security, if they meet the statutory requirements should they be approved? >> senator cruz, thank you for your question. thank you for your time yesterday. i appreciate it. i am not yet in the building,
however under the deepwater ports act of 1974 we do review a nine step process for a record of decision that way and in theory allow a program to move forward. should the conditions of that record of decision be met. the maritime administration follows the law in that process and works through that nine step process to achieve a record of decision working with stakeholders, applicants, and a number of federal agencies. should i have the honor to be confirmed i commit to continuing a fair and equitable review of that process under the law to move processes forward to achieve a record of decision. >> you gave the same answer yesterday in my office, that you would follow the law. my question is, if these applications meet the legal and
statutory requirements should they be approved? >> senator, thank you for that question. without being in the building and without having detailed knowledge of each application and their outcomes, i can commit that we will review them fairly and equitably and follow the law. >> you are not willing to say if they meet the statutory requirements they will be approved? >> should i have the honor to be confirmed and have actual sight of these applications and outcomes and records of decision -- >> yesterday you said you would follow the statute. i'm class i am committing to you that we will follow the law and review them fairly and equitably to reach a decision. >> that does not sound like a yes. e.u. share the hostility to oil and gas that some of the other biden appointees do? >> senator, thank you for that question. i cannot answer the specifics of
others. we will review applications. >> i am asking you personally. >> senator, i look forward to working with your staff. >> this is a yes or no question. this should be a pretty simple question. i asked, do you have a hostility to oil and gas projects? >> i am thinking you -- thanking you for your question. >> you are refusing to answer that question. it is highly disappointing to say you do not have a hostility for those projects. that is deeply concerning. >> i think she is saying she will follow whatever the administration -- >> -- >> >> if you asked a witness, do
you have a hostility towards airplane and fracturing -- i that people would be pretty upset about that. >> man-made a record investment. >> the biden administration is singling out texas. >> i think she is saying she will get in there and see what the law will require. >> she is not. >> i will move to senator markey. sen. markey: i want to talk about the issue of seatback safety.
cv has put a spotlight oncv has. >> had them showing that it could cost five dollars would fix the problem. thankfully, we have passed legislation and sent it over to deal with this problem. will you seatback safety in advance, as quickly as possible? >> senator markey i will prioritize the leadership that you have provided to advance rulemaking. >> you are aware of the danger of them to children in the backseat? >> thank you. our conversation yesterday was very illuminating. >> said he will prioritize to protect against those seatbacks
hitting children in the backseat? quess c1 that we have safety protections p6 climate and public health. it would increase fuel economy standards each year between 2020 four and 2026, achieving a total economy of 51 miles per gallon by model year 2020 six. statutory authority requires it to be set at the maximum feasible level, language that i worked to author and pass in the energy bill. the 10% year-over-year increase produces the largest benefit through the year 2050, compared to other options, as well as best returning as to the trajectory exemplified, of which they used to set high standards. do you agree this would exemplify the maximum part of the maximum feasible standards goal, which is being given to you and your agency to
part of this. what i do not want is, if it is a significant sum, that they will say, they won that lawsuit, so we will not provide them any additional funds. that would be very unfair. can i get a commitment from you on that? they have spent -- we talked about it, a long time on this, tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions in legal fees. they got an award, so we are not going to use any of the infrastructure dollars to help
them, which seem to be penalizing. >> thank you for your question. i am aware of the lawsuit and the outcome. i have no insight into any details, current or future that might impact that particular outcome. applicants to the program will get a fair and equitable review of their application, you respective of who they are, so we can move forward. >> thank you. i have questions for the other witnesses. i will submit them for the record. >> is it possible that senator ray lujan could go? quest i appreciate it. thank you, senator peters.
the mission of the safety administration has not -- never been more important. according to the agency in 2020, the u.s. had a 7.2% increase in traffic fatalities despite a reduction in miles traveled. 2021 is even worse with 18.4% increase in deaths during the first six months of this year. increases in alcohol and drug use. they found a proportion of drivers with opioids in their system nearly doubled in march 2020 while the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana rose by 50%. in your current role, congress gave you a mandate to save lives and prevent injuries. that is why i introduced the act to terminate drunk driving.
i believe they need to be pushed to do a better job to get impaired drivers off of the road. now is federal law and the president has nominated you to oversee implementation of the most important safety standard in over a decade. the work is just beginning and this cannot be another ruling where they blow through the statutory deadlines.
our future actions. we will make sure that we are doing so. >> as you move forward to help us. how can we help bring this technology to the forefront? >> if confirmed, i would be glad to continue to work with you or advance any ideas that we believe might be better. >> we appreciate it. >> thank you senator peters. thank you for your comment about the legislation and your family that was impacted. it was very moving. inc. you for your work on that.
we are going to senator young. >> a driver struck and killed three young students. they were boarding a school bus in rochester, indiana. in 2019, school bus drivers throughout indiana and documented every stop that occurred in one single day in the morning and afternoon routes. in one day, more than 2500 violations occurred. that is why i introduced the stop for school buses act with senator peters to address this problem. bipartisan information to prevent the dangerous and illegal passage in loading zones.
this was recently signed into law. dr. cliff, if confirmed, we commit to swiftly implement this bill to help prevent dangerous and illegal passing of school buses. >> thank you. if confirmed, i look forward to moving forward on these provisions. >> thank you, dr.. the u.s. is a leader in emerging transportation technology and is a matter of national and economic security. at the same time --
disappointed that you made no mention of autonomous vehicles. can you share your thoughts on the importance of supporting american innovation and roadway safety in the autonomous vehicle sector? >> thank you for that question. our role is to optimize safety as we allow for innovation. we believe these new technologies hold a great promise, and i think there is an opportunity for us to continue to advance innovation while ensuring safety along the way. at full maturity, the safety of technology you -- are unprecedented. we cannot forgive the safety in the interim as we get the full maturity. >> is confirmed, what concrete steps will you take to promote
the near-term deployment of self-driving vehicles? >> if confirmed, i look forward to continuing to ensure we are providing the exemptions under the law, as directed by the fast act as well as using the research dollars to advance our understanding of these technologies. >> thank you. i look forward to working together on this and pushing the envelope to ensure you are excluding all legal and responsible opportunities to make sure we are able to deploy self-driving vehicles at our earliest opportunity. i yield back. >> we did have senator scott, senator johnson and senator sinema joining us maybe remotely. it is hard to see if we have
anyone on camera. if there is somebody in those offices, now is the time to join. while we are waiting, i want to ask one last question about the implementation of the bipartisan law. dot is set to receive $567 billion, an 80% increase to monitor -- modernize our transportation system. this includes an increase in the capacity for things that will impact our supply chain and eliminate great bottlenecks. for example in washington, that would be things related to i-five, the port of tacoma, highway two, which there is an all -- needed means of infrastructure investment. there are also places like
highway two in the last 15 years had more than 60 people died on highway two, an average of 82,000 vehicles use that passage every year. as asia becomes a bigger destination for the u.s. for products all the way to the coast, getting our infrastructure to deal with the supply chain is critical. how can we get the implementation of these programs? can you talk about how dot can get these implemented as quickly as possible? >> thank you for that question. that is top of mind at the department. at a very high level, the secretary has directed the creation of a policy council headed by the deputy secretary, staffed by the undersecretary. i am a member of that along with the operating or acting
administrators. at a very high level it has our focus but really we are taking a complete and thorough review from beginning to end of the process. making sure we get guidance in place, making sure we get the allocation tables out. starting to work on common language -- funding opportunities so we can streamline the process. look at technical assistance for many applicants across the country. so that we can make good projects in the pipeline and we get good applications in. look at the process of documenting those decisions and all the way to implementing those projects and closing them out. if confirmed, i look forward to continuing my efforts to implement that process. there is a legal component and budget components to make sure
we have the staff in place to do that. it is a whole department have hurt. >> you think these things where we authorize things for the first time for megaprojects about moving major projects, many of them related to our economic success as a nation and moving freight at grade crossings and a new program to move product where congestion occurs. many of our cities and towns, as freight moves through them and obviously the increase in the ports program. all of these are big priorities in moving -- is this something that will be done early? >> we started -- about recognizing associated with the supply chain. they are top focus.
we are bringing in additional talent, as you have likely read in press releases. in order to make sure we have the best and brightest on those problems. try to focus on that as quickly as we can. >> i always say -- when it comes to my state, we are excited about this level of investment because we have seen challenges. we see product from all over the united states and frankly cannot wait if it does and we are going to lose competitively to other nations who made major infrastructure investments as well. i'm glad you have been able to give detail. we want to get you to the agency as quickly as possible so we can get the legal aspects taken care of. i do not see anyone else joining us on camera. we would like to thank all of you for being here.
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