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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 24, 2015 3:00am-5:01am EDT

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framework and i've never known a governor that wasn't willing to give everything they have, including more than they should send to help another governor out and citizens in their time of need. are we better prepared? yes. do we have a mechanism to prepare it? yes. do we have work to do? yes. we're no longer sitting and telling you how much money -- >> the most effective is when everybody mobilizes because that provides more resources to the effort. i just want to close with a final issue that you raised. you talked about hearing from states and localities about the threats from to the cyber security threats. i wonder if you can talk about what fema is doing with respect to grants to address cyber security threats what percentage of the funds are
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actually awarded for the grants and do you work with the cyber center at homeland security at the nddk to -- on how these grants are distributed or the technology that they're developing there? explain a little bit how that process works. >> i'd have to go back and ask staff. most of what we see with states using our funds ren hansment in their centers. i'd have to go back and ask. i know we have work to expand eligibility on what grants can do but there's also within the cyber world still a lot to be determined, what's the best practices and how of this is an it investment versus homeland security grant. i'd have to go back and ask. our role is funding states -- i met with a big city emergency managers a couple of weeks ago. this is at the top of their list. they were talking about what to do during communications in an
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emergency. we said what would happen if communication went out and they said that's our earthquake plan. we get our units to go out and start patrolling the area. if the center can't dispatch they know they're supposed to get on the radios and they'll go truck to truck and start relaying communications. so when we get to cyber emergency management is less about the intrusion the detection and dealing with that as much as what happens if it effects or disrupts the infrastructure. and then you're back to we respond to communication outages, and it's the consequences of that. what cyber does is -- that's more unique is it's more like the same thing as illnesses. it's rarely going to be geographically specific and it may be occurring in multiple states simultaneously. it is a reference point for emergency managers to realize
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they're dealing with the consequences if the disruptions occur while we work with others over the threat the intrusion, the detection and part of what we have to do is make sure our systems are resilient and that we can operate in a cyber attack, and understand that it could be degrading communications and other tools we would assume would be available. what happens if they're not. we do some pretty extreme planning of what if you the k not use the public network to communicate. how do we communicate with the 50 states. we pushed the extreme in the cyber event because we're not going to be dealing with the event it. we're going to be dealing with the consequences and trying to maintain responsibilities to deal with it as other people deal with the actual event itself. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> this will conclude the hearing today. thank you for being here. we look forward to continuing to work with you. the hearing record will remain
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open for two weeks from today. senators may submit written questions for the record. we ask that fema respond in a timely manner and with that this sub committee stands? recess. >> on the next washington journal we look ahead to this week's white house correspondent dinner. we'll talk to brothers j political opposites and creators of wood house divided.
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then president and ceo of the may owe clinic is here to discuss the new medicare law and the fump of health care in america. washington journal live every morning. you can join the conversation with your calls and comments on facebook and twitter. here are some of our featured programs nor weekend on the c-span networks. remarks by president obama and entertainment by saturday night live. and sunday night on c-span's q and a, judith miller on her time in prison for not revealing the source of her reports before and during the iraqi invasion. saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern. back tv in live in maryland state capital for the annapolis
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book festival. there is former attorney general, a talk on climate change and a talk on world war 2 and the holocaust. and sunday. presidential historians on the lives of 45 iconic women. karl anthony, ed ka med forth and authors exploring the lives of the first ladies. and on american history tv on p c-span3, stanford university professor on some of the issues debated during the constitutional convention of 1787 and sunday afternoon at 4:3040 years after the mall of saigon vietnamese veterans talk about their fall. get complete details at >> next a budget hearing from transportation secretary anthony
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foxx testifying on his department's 2016 budget. he also talks about faa safety, infrastructure and transportation security. this this. >> good morning. the sub committee will come to order. while we're waiting for secretary foxx to arrive and right on cue he comes through the door. i want to explain that we moved up the time of the hearing by a half hour, and mr. secretary, i feel your pain on the traffic because it has never taken me longer to get to work than today because of the protests and street closures but today we do
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welcome secretary foxx to testify about the administration's fiscal year 2016 budget request from the department of transportation. the administration is proposing $94 billion in mandatory and discretionary spending for the department of transportation in fiscal year 2016 included in its budget is a proposed six-year $478 billion surface transportation reauthorization paid for by a one-time 14% tax on repay treeization of earnings as well as existing tax revenues. while i support a repatriation proposal and am completely open to using some of the resulting funds for our infrastructure,
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the president's budget is based on a reauthorization that's once again funded by a band-aid approach. it really fails to propose any real reforms necessary to bring about the long-term solvency of the highway and mass transit trust funds. it is perplexing to hear the administration talk about how important our nation's infrastructure is and indeed, there was an event just yesterday to highlight the problems, and yet, at the same time, the administration continues to remain silent on trust fund reforms that must be put in place in order to address our crumbling roads bridges, now and in the future. simply saying that we are happy to work with congress is not an acceptable answer. this administration has had six
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years to provide congress with specific proposals to reform the trust fund yet year after year it's chosen to ignore what is an essential part of the surface transportation equation. this is a critical year for transportation both for the administration and for congress as we must confront not only the reauthorization of the surface transportation program's expiring in may but also a multiyear faa authorization expiring at the end of the fiscal year. that being said, today our focus can is on the fiscal year 2016 budgetary needs of the department of transportation, based on current authorizations. i'm very pleased to see that the administration continues to highlight and fund the important
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tiger program. but i'm disappointed in the unrealistic proposal to shift funding to mandatory spending a budget gimmick that simply will not happen in our appropriations bill. i have advocated strongly for the tiger program since joining the committee in 2009 and i've seen firsthand how this terrific program supports economic growth and job creation nationally regionally, and locally. it's been essential to many bridge railroad and port projects in my home state of maine that otherwise would not have been undertaken when they needed to be. moving onto faa, our aviation system supports 11.8 million
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jobs here in the united states. with an average of 2 million passengers flying in our country each day and 58,000 tons of freight being transported daily by air the nation's aviation system depends upon a safe efficient, and modern air traffic control system. the president's request includes nearly $16 billion to support investments in keeping our aviation system the safest and most efficient air space in the world. while i am pleased that the essential air service program is fully funded in the request. i am disappointed with the mention of air service development program as well as the reduced funding for the airports improvement program. rural states like maine and other states represented by members on this committee
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benefit greatly from services that connect rural america with the larger transportation network. in many instances air service would otherwise have been established if it were not for the support of the small community. i am deeply concerned by the number of train accidents that have occurred over the past three years. this issue has special resonance in my home, because to horrific accident in qu├ębec which killed 47 people and consumed much of a small community's downtown. it happened only ten miles from the maine border and many of our first responders rushed to
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assist their canadian counter parts. the faa's budget request highlights passenger railroad safety, pedestrian safety and the safe transportation of energy products in areas that may need additional resources. i will be looking closely at how we can best target federal funds in order to reduce accidents and save lives. this sub committee has worked hard to provide the department of transportation with resources to improve rail safety but the results have not fully reflected those investments. for example, despite tin creased resources we have provided for the safe transportation of crude oil, it is baffling to me that the department and this administration have yet to finalize regulations to replace the d.o.t. 111 tank cars to make
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improvements. they have failed to begin a consideration of rules that would require comprehensive oil spill response plans for oil tank cars. i also remain concerned about the availability of the department to hire the rail and pipeline inspectors previously funded in our bill. the sub committee will hold the department accountable for every dollar provided for these important safety issues. another of my concerns is that some of the figures and the administration's budget proposal are simply unrealistic. for example, the budget includes nearly $3.3 billion for capital investment grants. more than $1.1 billion above current levels. i recognize your interest in promoting public transit and other service programs and i acknowledge your reauthorization would shift funding to
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mandatory. however, this sub committee must operate in the real world. this program must be funded with discretionary funding and where we continue to face severe fiscal challenges. with that let me turn over the podium to my colleague, senator reed and say once again what a great pleasure it is to have him as our ranking member. senator reed. >> thank you very much chairman collins for your excellent statement and for your leadership and welcome, secretary foxx. this is a lesson today on gridlock and we need to do more on the roads in d.c. and everywhere. you're exhibit one. thank you very much. we really do appreciate your leadership, and look forward to this budget request with you and it includes, as you indicated by senator collins, a long term reauthorization
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program but before i get further, let me thank you for coming out to rhode island and visiting and seeing first-hand some of our transportation issues at tf green airport. our car shipment facility, thank you very, very much. as you recognized that day our airport is a catalyst for economic growth, and we are still lagging in the country in terms of em employment. we're tied for tenth for the highest unemployment rate. we used to be vying for one which is, trust me. you don't want to be in that kind of competition but we can do more. thank you for coming out to rhode island, again. i appreciate it. you had a chance to look at our infrastructure up there, and it's similar to many places around the country. we need a functioning airport. we have the port of davisville. it's been very successful. last year it had another record year.
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178,000 automobiles were imported through the port. i must say and concur with senator collins. tiger grants helped a lot. that's an example of how the funds can be used very flexibly by local authorities to create jobs which is what we really want to do. we also understand too that the future is going to mean more port calls because of the new panama ka pal and because of the arctic ocean becoming a commercial transit area which it's never been in the past. so what we're doing today is going to help us in the future dramatically. we have, as you saw in rhode island, significant needs. one out of every four bridges needs repair in the state of rhode island. they can't handle today's traffic. it's just going to get worse. that's one out of four. 20% of our bridges are in this
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situation, and it'll be 40% by 2025, and if we don't fund them, it's just going to get worse. it doesn't stay the same. it'll take $80 million a year just for rhode island to reverse this trend. amtrak has a $70 billion state of repair for the northeast alone. $7 billion. that's a big number and that affects massachusetts and all the way down the coast. then there are other -- we're talking act the things we have to fix. we're not talking about the things we want to build. that's what's distressing about this hearing and your positions. you have proposed a plan that i think will begin to grapple with these issues and i commend you
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for that. if we could reauthorize appropriately and reorganize the tax and authorize committee responsibilities to come up with revenues to pass a meaningful bill, we could begin this process. i applaud you for laying it on the table for us and asking for those funds. i'm afraid that we're going to be stuck here and not going to make tough choices about raising the revenues and -- in order to invest in our future. and there's no more better investment than infrastructure. every american will tell you that. everyone on this committee will tell you that. the real key is finding the revenue and that's what we have to do. we also have to recognize that state and local governments have been struggling and will struggle. if we can't give them the certainty of a four of five year plan of committed federal funding at a reasonable and robust level. they'll be on their own and they'll perform even worse because they don't have the
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certainty or the resources. i look forward to being supportive of what you're doing. i commend you. you have a $1.2 billion request for the tiger program. it works. money for amtrak to repairing their facilities. 908 million for the traffic and safety administration. it's necessary because we've seen recently a lot of situations recalled and the companies were not held to the level of accountability that a robust traffic safety administration should and must do. there's $243 million for the federal railroad administration which will support 84 additional rail safety inspectors. again, the chairman raised the issue of passenger and freight rails in the united states. we've got to do that. $15.8 billion for the faa which not only funds our air traffic
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controllers, which we take for granted each and every one of us when we get on a plane like friday and maybe tomorrow and also, $956 million for next gen which is important. these programs all rely on resources that comes through this bill and we have to ensure that they're there. one point i want to conclude about is that we have a collective responsibility i think to somehow avoid sequestration. it will be detrimental not only on the monetary impacts on the budget, but again, the sort of mindless reduction of accounts without any opportunity for a secretary to say well this makes sense and this doesn't make sense, and also, it will further undermine the predict predictability and certainty governments must have to make investments themselves.
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we're able through the great work of senators to delay it. we need a repetition of that work in the days ahead so that we can go forward. with that, thank you. >> thank you very much, senator reed. i want to acknowledge the presence of several of our members. snar kennedy snar capito. i know how to say it. capito. i can't believe i said it wrong when i know it. and senator blunt who have joined us today. and i'm sure other me believes will as well. we did change the time of this hearing and i very much appreciate the secretary accommodating the schedule in light of the votes that we have so please proceed with your statement. >> madame chairman, ranking member reed and all of the committee's members of the subcommittee, i want to thank
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you for having me here today and i want to say particular thanks to madame chairman, especially for being flexible in scheduling the date of this hearing, really much appreciate that given some of the challenges i have had recently with my knee. i'll jump right in. last month we sent congress a new and improved grow america act. it is a long-term bill and it would provide $478 billion of funding over 6 years. having a six-year bill is very important because it will give communities a stable predictable amount of funding so they can plan for the long term, as has been mentioned. that said, i know this committee is very focused on this upcoming fiscal year. so let me tell you what this bill means for fy-'16. of the $478 billion, approximately $95 billion accounts for our budget request in fiscal year '16.
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within the fiscal year '16 we'd invest $7.5 billion to clear the backlog of deficient bridges and highways that need safety repairs. there's $1 billion for a new freight program and over a billion dollar increase for capital investment grants which help build projects that better connect folks to jobs, schools and doctors. at us dot we recognize that sequestration will take effect next january absent congressional action. sequestration would have a devastating impacting on our transportation safety efforts, threatening the resources needed to conduct safety inspections and enforce critical safety rules. what grow america does is throw down a marker. it shows us the funding level necessary actually to improve the transportation system and the grow america act is fully paid for. it's part of a larger administration budget that avoids sequestration, keeps our
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safety inspectors and air traffic controllers on the job, makes investments in our nation that we need to support for a growing population and a growing economy. i believe we can accomplish this on a bipartisan basis. and there is a long history of precedent in this country of having done so. i want to specifically thank, you, chairman collins for the work that you did last year and even before that on the issue of safely transporting energy. it's an important issue. one that all of us care about. and i also want this subcommittee to know both democratic and republican members that your history of working together to support critical infrastructure investments like our tiger grant and our capital investment grant programs matter a great deal to communities all across america and it's appreciated. and ranking member reed i want
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to thank you for being such a great voice for the need to fix the short fall in the highway trust fund and for long-term stability in the funding. before i take your questions, let me close by saying this. we're speaking today about fiscal year 2016 but as the chairman has also acknowledged, we have to recognize that we have a more immediate issue with the highway trust fund on may 31st. next month the current authorization for the highway trust fund will expire and when states come to look -- come to us looking for money we won't be able to guarantee that it will be there. plans will be shelved, new jobs won't be created and current ones will be at risk. we have already seen about six states pull back close to $2 billion in projects because of federal funding uncertainty. i know there's been a lot of talk about passing a couple of months of funding to get by this latest highway cliff. but the -- as you know the
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definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. frankly, having been at the local level, i can tell you that communities are stuck in the planning process and in the process of get progress jekts moved through because of this uncertainty. and a band-aid on the transportation system is not what we need. last summer, congress passed patch funding for ten months. three months into that ten-month patch, tennessee announced they were moth balling projects. as i said before five more states have joined tennessee since then canceling about $2 billion worth of projects. maybe if america wasn't growing and it didn't need to prepare if a larger population a larger economy, perhaps this wouldn't be so bad. but that is far from the case. america will be home to 70 million more people by 2045. we'll have to move 45% more freight. never before has the demand on our system been so high and our
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response in terms of investment been so low. madame chair if we have to go through the struggle of passing a funding bill let's do it the right way. let's do something big. i'm ready to work with you and all members of congress to get something done and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much for your testimony. i mentioned in my opening statement the tragic incident in canada very close to the maine border which prompted the administration and the department to look at the design of the tank cars that are carrying crude oil. given the recent uptick in crude by rail accidents, most recently west virginia and illinois i'm simply astonished that we're once again waiting for omb to
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sign off on these important regulations. i'm also concerned that the department has failed to publish a draft regulation to require comprehensive oil spill response plan from the railroads. we've given substantial increases and resources for more inspectors, for example. could you update us and explain why more progress hasn't been made in this truly critical area? >> well, first of all, madame chairman, your searches are our concerns. and we certainly take this issue very seriously and i want to describe a few steps that we have taken to answer your question. first of all on the issue of just the overall issue of crude by rail, the department very early on in this process took 24
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steps along with industry to basically provide a bridge between lakmagontic and getting a comprehensive rule in place. just last week we announced several additional steps we have taken as a result and the work on the crude oil rule continues. i will point out that one of the challenges of doing this rule is that we are talking not only about retremendous suspective risk but the fact that this industry is continuing to grow and so there's a lot of focus also on prospective risk, and as a result we are working very, very closely with omb to get a comprehensive rule that not only addresses tank cars but addresses things like speed and other areas that will help impact mitigation, prevention and emergency response. secondly on the issue of the oil spill response plans, i want to point out that we did issue an advance notice of proposed
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rule making on august 1st, 2014, that was designed to put questions out to stakeholders that we thought were very important and ultimately addressing a final rule. questions such as the volume of oil and the number of tank cars in a train that should trigger such an oil response plan. we have received comments on that. i expect that we will have an oil spill response plan notice of proposed rule making put out this summer probably as soon as june and so i look forward to making progress there. and then finally on the issue of inspectors, we appreciate the work of the appropriations committee providing us the resources to hire inspectors i will only point out as we try to hire more inspectors to meet the demands of this emerging area we're also competing in hiring the inspectors with industry and continuing to compete for the very best talent we can in that space and i promise you we will push hard to get the numbers up
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on those inspectors by the end of the fiscal year. >> thank you. that is absolutely critical because the condition of the rail tracks is also an issue. mr. secretary, i'm concerned about a recent attempt to change d.o.t.'s regulation of nine to 15-person passenger vans that are used for summer camp transportation. i believe you having experience in having a child go to summer camp and the great state of maine. as do many americans. without a change in law without going through any regulatory process, one regional office within fmcsa is treating these small, passenger vans as if they were greyhound buses or trailway buses providing year around commercial services.
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for example, when camps in maine transport children from the airport in manchester, new hampshire, across state lines, they're in no way offering transportation services to the general public. this is simply an incidental cost of the overall summer camp experience. yet the agency's new interpretation in just the region that affects the state of maine requires camps to offer continuous and adequate service, post prices, schedules, and other commercial-like services to the public or lose their operating authority. this makes no sense at all for a van that's being used in the summer months to pick up kids at the airport. even a camper who flies directly into maine and is driven in a passenger van within the state itself can be subject to these interstate regulations because
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the combined summer camp package includes airfare from another state. now, i want to be clear. i am not advocating that summer camps be relieved from obtaining the necessary liability insurance to cover safety matters. but it makes no sense to treat them as if they are commercial entities that are solely in the business of providing transportation services year around. the reason omnibus or cromnibus required d.o.t. to include a comment and rule making so that there could be some public input on changing this guidance, can you assure me that d.o.t. will comply with public notice and comment requirements and take a hard look at whether this really makes sense? this strikes me as government
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overkill at its worse. >> i can absolutely assure you that we will take seriously the notice and comment period. i will also do you one better. because of the unique circumstances of maine and the camping industry there i will also send a team to solicit comments directly from stakeholders in maine who are dealing with this unique issue that you have raised. >> thank you. that would be terrific. senator reed. >> well, thank you very much, madame chair, for your questions and, again, for your leadership here. let me begin with a topic that the chairwoman is familiar with, cyber security, farlly the faa. i had the privilege really of watching the chairman work and superb job of pending the intelligence bill and no one knows more and more thought 68 about the issue than senator collins, but i understand that within the faa there is a huge need to protect the system from
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cyber incidents and intrusions. but that there is organization in the air traffic organization that basically has to borrow funding in order to help promote cyber security from other agencies and borrow personnel that there are different experts within the faa that disagree as what's the best approach and how to deal with it. it's -- it is a critical issue. and it seems not only is it a resource issue but it's an organizational issue so let me ask you, mr. secretary, what are you and the director who i have great admiration for doing to get this done. you know, we are late. we won't see problems on the road. we are already years late in dealing with it. >> thank you for the question. it is also an issue of enormous importance and we recognize that at d.o.t. and at the faa. specifically, the faa is working
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to address issues and recommendations that goa has also raised as it relates to cyber security and the faa. we have already established a number of technical findings that are focused on remediating some of those concerns. in addition the faa has established a new executive cyber security steering committee that will focus on these issues across the department, across the agency. one of its major responsibilities will be to coordinate the implementation of the gao recommendations, the committee will also take a risk-based approach in addressing the larger set of issues associated with cyber security. in addition to that, this is an area where we're also joined at the hip with our other agency partners and so we're working closely with the department of homeland security, the national security agency and the u.s. army cyber command to coordinate our efforts to protect the
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integrity of our air space. >> is there someone individual that's in charge? i mean committees are useful, but to get things done, implemented, et cetera usually has to have somebody that's responsible. is there somebody that you've designated? >> look i hold michael responsible for that but we have several units within faa that focus on this, within air traffic control, within certification, within a number of areas. but i think that is an area that we will focus on making sure there's an appropriate accountability on these issues going forward. >> just ask me if this sequestration went into effect how -- could you deal with this issue or would you be such -- >> it would be tough. it would be very tough. we have already experienced just over the last couple of years what sequestration can do to our
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agency. and particularly, ongoing operations. and actually our faa takes as a point of pride despite the shutdown and sequestration we have made progress on integrating more technology in the air space and measure bring harder when there's uncertainty. >> let me turn to another topic, mr. secretary. that is, that we're pleased to see in the proposal additional resources, $75 million for transit for small, urban and rural areas. but the concern we have is that the way that the proposal is drafted it has to have premium features, you know dedicated rights of way and continuous services. for many communities, they can't do that for either financial reasons or for just practical reasons and my concern is that there's cities that could use a help from federal transportation to improve their transit,
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putting new software on their buses, new signaling devices, itet cetera and can be shut out because they can't respond to these premium features. what can you do to make sure that we can get some of this money out to deserving rural and small urban areas? >> i'm glad you raised that because overall in the grow america act, we're putting more than $1.6 billion in place in fiscal year '16 for state and rural transit programs and providers. that would include $810 million in transit formula grants so that would be one place that rural communities and small communities could tap. the $75 million of which you spoke is the accelerated project delivery and development piece where we're trying to encourage local communities and transit
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agencies to adopt best practices in getting projects rapidly on the ground and rapidly providing service. our hope is that there's very -- there's a lot of low-hanging fruit that agencies can adopt quickly and to get access to those $75 million funds. but we want to make sure that we're encouraging the rapid deployment of transit in addition to transit overall. >> and i certainly think that's appropriate. it's just that there are some communities that you know, they cannot get a dedicated right after way, et cetera, but they could do some significant things in terms of improving their transit delivery systems in they could get access to at least a portion of this money so i would ask you to sort of think about that. my time's concluded. thank you. >> thank you very much senator reed. senator blunt. >> thank you, chairman.
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on the proposal on the multi-year bill that senator reed, senator collins, all of us want to see us get to a multi-year bill, you clearly can't build infrastructure in an effective way six months or two years at a time. your proposal the administration proposal that would close the gap between where the gas tax money is and sort of mid level aspirations for what we could do at infrastructure relates to taxing foreign profits. would that be a mandatory tax, secretary? would that be a tax that would be on those profits whether they came back or not? >> yes. yes. it's a part of a larger comprehensive tax reform package and several components. i'll just talk about two. the way we pay for the grow america act is basically there's one to $2 trillion of existing overseas untaxed corporate
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earnings that would be taxed at a 14% rate. that is 21 percentage points lower than the current rate so it provides an incentive for companies that want to bring the money over to bring it over. but either way, that's the rate. for future profits there would be a maximum of 19% u.s. rate and some discount for whatever applied rate those companies are paying in the country where the profits were realized. and that does not pay for our bill. it actually goes for other things but it's part of a larger corporate tax reform proposal that the administration is pursuing. >> and the reason for the mandatory rate is that then you would have a guarantee of how much money would be -- would be coming in based on those profits that you could truly guarantee
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just to a great extent what is highway bill would look like for five or year six years. that the reason for the mandatory opposed to an optional rate if they bring it back? >> it's a benefit. but also the sort of -- the classic kind of repatriation proposal, a voluntary kind of tax holiday hasn't scored well and so the technical reason why we do in it a mandatory fashion is because it -- the other way just actually doesn't score well and this is a way that you can actually work to reduce the overall corporate tax rate and also bring those proceeds back home and put them to work. >> and my other question mr. secretary, last year the spending bill suspended for one year the restart provisions in the 2011 rule on hours of service. as part of the suspension, the department was asked to complete a study on the operational
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safety health and fatigue aspects of the restart provision. how's that study going? >> we have hired consultant to perform the study. we are working very diligently to make sure not only that the study is credible, that we're hearing from all of the various shakeholders to make sure that this is as bullet-proof a study as possible and has the transparency and credibility everyone expects and i hope we are able to meet the deadlines that congress established. >> okay. thank you, mr. secretary. thank you. >> thank you. senator durbin? >> thank you. mr. secretary, good to see you again. thank you for coming by my office. let me echo the previous comments of the tiger program and my list of favorites, top favorites, the create program which means so much in our part of the world with so many
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railroads and a potential to expedite the movement of goods and alleviate some of the problems associated with rail traffic. core capacity means so much to us. there was a time when it was difficult to rest any funds out of the appropriation bill unless for, quote, new starts. i think we come to realize a lot of old starts are still of tremendous value and need to be upgraded and core capacity is part of that. mr. secretary last friday we had an anniversary celebration in chicago of the passage of the americans with disabilities act. 25 years, 25 years ago senator bob dole, tom harken, president george h.w. bush ended up making history and really liberating huge number of americans who were disabled from the bonds that the -- the binds -- the
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binding that they faced in being unseen, unheard and not part of america. i said at that anniversary that i wondered if the ada could pass this congress today. and i really seriously doubt that it could. it's an indication of our dysfunction and our inability to address some of the basics. the transportation bill in washington used to be one of the basics. some of us who have served for a while can remember when this was the easiest bill on capitol hill. the easiest. totally bipartisan. members of the house begging to serve on the public works committee so they could have a chance to grab that shovel grab chose scissors and get a picture taken to help their districts and senators to help their states. and we did it easily. without any heavy lift. and now, there is a serious question about whether this congress can pass a transportation bill. and there are even me believes of the senate and house arguing
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as to whether or not there should be a federal transportation bill. obviously, they never heard of dwight david eisenhower and the interstate highway system. so, the point i'm getting to is i will support whatever funding source we can come up with. i would certainly like to see it more of a user fee, tax related to the purchase of fuel but i know that has diminishing inging returns with fuel economy. i would like to see relief in the tax for people of lower income who pay more disproportionate share of the tax from their income. i'm open. i'm wide open. the thing that troubles me is to basically grabbing at a source that i don't know we can count on on a regular basis. maybe it gets us through the current crisis and that's all we can hope for. but what is your long-term view? what would you think is a reasonable revenue source for a
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federal transportation bill that builds highways sustains mass transit and gives america a fighting chance to be competitive in the 21st century? >> well, it's a very tough question because there are lots of academic ideas but at some level it becomes a question of what can get the political support to actually pass. i would say that, you know, the points that have been raised about the fact our proposal is a six-year proposal they're fair points. but i also would be remiss if i didn't remind us all that we've had 32 short term extensions in the last 6 years. and having six years of stability is a far cry from where we have been over the last six years. now having said that there's a lot of ideas that are out there. there are ideas about vehicle miles traveled, ideas about other user fees going up to the
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wholesale level to raise revenue on the barrel as opposed to at the pump. there are lots of ideas and you're seeing states experiment with some of these qulds. >> states are raising their gas taxes. >> some of them are absolutely. and i would also add in many of those states where voters and governors and leaders worked hard to put more revenue on the table to get more things done they're standing on the shoulders of the federal funding and if that federal funding goes away they're going to go one step forward -- >> 75% of the highway construction in illinois through federal funds. some 80% of the mass transit through federal funding. and what you have just said, 32 short short term extensions of the federal highway bill is the definition of dysfunction. and i might also add i don't believe we can patch our way to prosperity in this nation. filling potholes doesn't build a highway and we are gearing up to
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fund the federal commitment to patch these potholes instead of building an america that can succeed in the future. i'll close by saying i know we talked -- you talked before i came in about tank cars. we had a long conversation. i hope we move to a new generation of safer tank cars. take the ones we have on the rails and make them even safer and i hope that we could address this volatility question of the contents of those cars which i've discussed with you and senator cantwell and others. thank you for your testimony. >> thank you. >> thank you. senator capito. >> thank you. thank you, madame chair. i want to thank the secretary for being here today. i want to ask talk about the tank cars. as you know, an accident occurred in west virginia and the fayette county. 109-car train was carrying more than 3 million gallons of balkan oil from north dakota and 21 of the cars derailed. i'm sure you saw the pictures. thankfully, nobody was hurt, and
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we were really pleased about that. but it's my understanding that this rule that was supposed to be finalized in january if i'm correct and that many people not just on the safety side but on the business side too need the finality of that rule that which would provided by either requiring that they replace or retro fitted because in the accident they had the 1232 cars as i'm sure you're aware. they were i guess not blanketed or weren't -- so i'm very very interested in that. you have talked about the status of the rule but if you could just reiterate that and then what kind of commitment do you have to getting this out as quickly as possible? >> it is a top priority for me. lakmangantic that drew the world's attention happened four days into my tenure as secretary of transportation. this is an issue i've been dealing with almost from day one and we have been working
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feverishly on lots of approaches to this including 24 actions that were taken immediately following and then additional actions that we have taken as recently as last week. i agree with you that the production of the final rule on these -- not only on the tank cars, but on a range of issues that affect the safety of the transport of this material is critical. >> right. >> and we are continuing to work with omb because of the way the process works, i'm not at liberty to at this point offer you a date or a time. but i can tell you that we are working very, very closely with them and i think we are getting very close. >> well, i'm happy to know you're getting close. i would encourage you sooner than later and i'm sure you feel the same way. you know i'm curious to know, too, i think the incident that is are occurring and there was one in illinois i believe after the west virginia accident, i think it brings to light the
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national discussion of pipelines. i know you do pipeline safety within your department. i guess would you -- i would be very interested to see juxtapose juxtaposing juxtaposing, you know, carrying this crude through a pipeline on to a train -- i know we are going to need both. one of the pipelines we voted for here is subject of much controversy. do you have any comment on that in terms of relative safety issue or lack of infrastructure or anything along those lines, pipelines? i'd like your comments. >> from a department standpoint, we're agnostics when it comes to how the stuff moves. our main point is to make sure that however it's moving, whether it's by truck or by rail or by pipeline that it's moving safely. i'll point out that pipelines are not immune from --
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>> absolutely. >> accidents. in fact, we had a spill in montana. the yellowstone river of significant amount of crude oil from the north dakota area. so, you know, we will continue working to make sure every no dalty that's used to move this material is safe modality. >> on the rule you're putting forward, on the tank car issue, is that exclusively or principally on oil transport or does it include a lot of other transport? i mean, i'd like to see that prioritized because obviously that's been the issue. >> so in the notice of proposed rule making that was issued last fall, we focused on the same level of risk category. so not only the crude oil but also something like ethanol that's in the same class of material would also be covered by our rule. >> well i would suggest that --
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i mean, i would ask is there any way to put a higher priority on the oil transport? obviously came up very quickly because of the discovery and unknowns and issues. i would encourage or ask any way to higher prioritize that. it's newer material carrying ethanol for a long time. on our rail systems and on our roads. and so i think i'm -- i think this is a bipartisan issue in terms of the urgency that we feel. and i would like to say with the four seconds i have left a robust six-year highway program is something that i'm very passionate about. we can work together. and we've had a rough winter so if anybody wants an illustration, we don't want to spend our money repairing the roads but we need a lot of repair money, too. there's a lot of potholes out there. thank you. >> absolutely. thank you. >> thank you. senator feinstein. >> thank you very much madame
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chairman. mr. secretary, welcome. and thank you for your service. i'd like to speak with you in my brief time about two issues. the first is drones. and the second is positive train control. on the first, we've been working with some of your people on legislation and i want to thank you for that. i've been very concerned about where the faa is going to go and whether it's sufficient. it's going to permit sufficient regulatory authority. they have the authority over large drones and small commercial drones. but not over small recreational drones an it's clear to me that these drones can also provide a substantial safety risk in untrained hands. and i think this is a gap in the legislative authority of the
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regulatory agency. and it also prevents faa from regulating drone manufacturers which are currently exempt from faa regulation if they're drones might be used for a recreational purpose. i think there's some very constructive steps that can be taken. for example, the faa should have the ability to require that manufacturers put a safety brochure like their quote know before you fly end quote pam let in the box with every consumer drone that's sold. the faa should be able to require that every new drone have the same type of virtual geo fencing that some manufacturers are already doing voluntarily. it's my understanding that after the drone crashed into the white house lawn in january the drone's manufacturer put out a software update for the newest
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models that establish that a virtual fence around washington, d.c. only that would prevent these drones from coming too close to the city. i think that's very helpful. it's too bad only one manufacturer and it took an accident to have that happen. but washington is not the only community that deserves this protection. but the faa does not currently have the authority to require manufacturers to follow suit. i would like to know what your views are and would additional regulatory authority from congress be helpful for faa to achieve these goals. >> well, first of all, senator feinstein, i want to thank you for your leadership on this issue. we have had several colloquies over the years on this topic. and your focus on it is appreciated. >> thank you very much.
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>> the faa does have many challenges when it comes to mnging this emerging issue. and the gaps that you have identified are, in fact, gaps. and we welcome your engagement on this issue and the efforts that you're undertaking to look at legislative solutions to this. >> thank you very much. my other big priority, positive train control. the 2008 metro link crash really brought home the problem of single tracks and commuter trains going one way and freight trains going the other. it's hard for i think anyone to see bodies chopped into parts when these accidents happen. and i think positive train control is one of the most important things our government can do to prevent this from
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happening. i've been concerned by the time it takes and i'm particularly concerned whether metro link can get approval this year to be able to move ahead. they are ready to do so. could you tell me what you know about that and whether it is possible for metro link which is our big commuter southern california line to get that approval? >> we think this is an urgent issue. all across the country and particularly with metro link. our team stands ready to help. we do believe that if metro link is able to provide us with their -- with their package as quickly as possible that we do have the resources in place and the ability to get that certification done by the end of the year. so we would work very closely with you to make sure that happens. >> well, thank you. and we will relay that promptly
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to metro link and i'll let you know when they will have their package in and then if you could let me know if that would be adequate for you to be able to certify it or approve it by the end of the year. appreciate it. >> absolutely. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you, madame chairman. >> thank you. senator daines. >> thank you madame chair. secretary foxx, i do share your concern and statement today that people outside the beltway desperately want us to find a way to work together here in washington and fix the serious transportation issues we have in america. in northern states like montana where our construction season is short we need to get some certainty, sir. and we can't begin the much-needed projects in montana without another short-term highway funding extension so you have my commitment. i think you have everybody on this dias commitment to work hard in the senate to get a long-term funding bill through the u.s. senate.
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last time we met at a senate commerce committee. i know you're facing challenges of vacancies and work to move forward in the key roles. i think at that time there were five major operating agencies in the d.o.t. that had acting administrators. my question is, what is the disconnect here and why hasn't the administration nominated anyone for these positions? >> well, there is having been through the process, it takes a while from the time someone agrees to do the job. there's a vetting process. there's a very extensive process that's involved in this. what i can tell you is that we have one of the five pending vacancies in front of congress today, the federal transit administration. and we'd be delighted to have congress take up that confirmation as soon as possible. the other four are in some stage
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of process and my hope is that that moves along a pace and able to get those up soon. >> yeah, yeah. we are looking at the website here. i know mr. nadu is an administrator. is he still in an acting role? >> he is actually now deputy administrator again because of the length of time. >> we have that federal vacancies in reform act i believe when it hit the 210 days and then deputy. >> that's correct. >> sounds like a loophole in the rule there in a little bit in terms of getting it pushed and i can't imagine running an organization with having the open head counts in very, very key positions. let me turn and shift to femsa. and you mentioned the pipeline spill in montana that we saw happen on the yellowstone river. some 30,000 gallons of crude dump into the yellowstone. the yellowstone is a tremendous fishery. it is the water source for many
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communities in montana. i have spent a lot of hours in an mckenzie boat fishing on that river. the femsa acting add min term ends and your deputy came up, a great meeting with him. he witnessed and pulled up that broken pipe. we saw it a 1955 pipe that had a weld that looks like probably failed on it. could you help explain the interim plan for the next acting administrator? may 2nd i believe in femsa we hit that same 210-day threshold. what's the plan going forward? >> well the plan is currently that mr. butters will continue to serve as the leader of the organization until a nomination is put forward and a confirmation vote by the senate. and my hope is that nomination will be imminent and that you will have an opportunity to help
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us put a leader in place of that agency. >> you said you had one i think of the five positions filled in this long arduous process. what's the plan for the other four to get these positions filled as soon as possible? >> well, as i said, in the commerce hearing we have been working very closely with the white house on these issues. and, of course the prerogative is ultimately the president's to put up a nomination and my belief is that the positions that you're talking about all four of the other positions are in some stage of the process and that the president's time and choosing those nominations will be made. >> do you know why it's taking so much time? >> got to be very qualified people in this country and dealing with pipelines breaking, rail car challenges i can't think of anything more important to make sure we have the right leadership filling the positions. if i was looking at my to-do list every day in terms of
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threats of safety for people as well as chanlgs for environment why isn't more being done leer there? >> welk look. i don't think it's a matter of effort. frankly, having observed this process for quite a while i think there are fair number of very qualified people who look at what one has to go through to go through this process, including having months on end of a pending nomination that they some point say, hey, it's okay. i can do whatever else i'm doing and serving the public will have to come later. so i think that there is -- i can't overstate how challenging it becomes when people give of their time and out of private sector lives or whatever else they're doing to invest in moving forward into a government position and in some cases spend months and some cases more than a year waiting for a nomination. >> yeah.
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it's one more part of the uncertainty in this city puts in front of as a barrier i think to moving forward here on many many issues. my time's out, secretary foxx. thank you. >> just know this. i'm moving as quickly as we can and look forward to getting the nominations up to you. >> thank you. >> yes, sir. >> senator coons. >> thank you for convening this today and thank you, secretary foxx, for your positive energetic can-do apreach to the very real and lasting issues of infrastructure for our country. i want to specifically thank you and your staff for a very responseive attitude when we had a challenge in delaware as you well remember. we found ourselves really challenged with the closure of a bridge due to ground shifting that detoured 90,000 cars a day and the speed and thoroughness with which you responded and helped us get access to emergency relief funding and get the bridge back up and open i
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think surprised everyone in the area. so thank you. thank you also for your advocacy and leadership in seeking a long-term blueprint. you have heard from many members today that we share your concern in absence of a reauthorization we are falling behind. just in the little state of dell care, small but mighty state of del delaware there's work on hold due to uncertainty. i think we continue to put at risk jobs, infrastructure, competitiveness, things i care about a great deal. let me turn if i might to amtrak where i took the 625 train down this morning and god willing will take the 6:05 train home. i commute virtually every day and very pleased to see your request for this coming fiscal year and the $28.6 billion over the coming 6-year period for investment in the national passenger rail system. as part of an integrated for the
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first time really as a fully integrated national transportation strategy. passenger rail is critical to our overall national transportation strategy and fixing our network and investing in state of good repair i think is essential to reducing congestion and improving efficiency and connecting towns across america. amtrak set records year over year and continuing to underinvestment in the critical infrastructure. so last month i led a letter with pennsylvania senator casey and 20 other senators asking the subcommittee to consider funding am track at $2 billion for fiscal year '16 and i would be interested in hearing what you believe we need to do to improve service and making progress towards achieving a state of good repair in the northeast corridor. >> i think it's an excellent question. and it speaks to one of the fundamental tenets of the grow america act which is that it is not just the year to year funding that we need to put
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amtrak on a more stable footing the not only be able to improve its operations, but also, to make sure that managing the state of good repair of the system. that it is having multi-year certainty. that is also very critical to that. and our bill puts fully $28.6 billion over 6 years into a passenger rail system so that there is multi-year certainty, amtrak can actually plan. i think one of the things amtrak suffers from is just not being able to plan beyond the current year. and i think it's very important for us to start thinking of our passenger rail system as a critical part of the overall surface system and our budget reflects that. >> one of the things i'll commend you for is proposing a dedicated funding stream for rail comparable to highway and transit and hope to include that in the reauthorization for surface transportation. let me ask you one other
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question in the time i've got. it's my understanding that amtrak submitted an application for a loan for the current fleet. the program is authorized to provide loans and guarantees up to 35 billion and only a fraction of it is tapped. i'm giving this loan for advance of it desperately needing to be replaced provide major benefits for the northeast corridor. i'm a strong support ore of this program for critical infrastructure projects like this. i hope we can overcome any potential concerns or issues and just wondered if you could give me an update on that loan proposal status stands and a final deadline. >> the loan application is under review. i know that amtrak is anxious to get a decision on this soon. i would expect that by the -- no later than the middle or end of the summer we should have a final call on that, maybe even before that.
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the point that you make about the rift program i think is also a very important point because we find that many agencies many transportation systems don't make use of rift partly because of the credit risk premium that's required is up-front money to tap into it and the grow america act one of the things it does is it allows federal rail administration grants to be used as part of the credit risk premium so that we can make better use of the rift program, as well. i wanted to make this point. >> this is another example, mr. secretary, of an area where you have real command of the underlying facts and issues and working to solve what have been long-standing challenges that have been real bayiers to our ability to invest responsibly over the long term in passenger rail for the whole country. thank you for your testimony today. i look forward to working together with you on this important issue. >> thank you. >> senator boozman.
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>> thank you, madame chair. thank you, secretary foxx, for being here. we really do appreciate your hard work. i know that you have faced some difficult challenges as we do as a congress. you know? in making such it such that we have the infrastructure that we need in this country. one thing that i have to mention and you mentioned it in your testimony and i appreciate it and constantly brought up. trying to get the modernizing the permitting process. >> yes. >> you know, getting it up to snuff. we talk a lot of things that cost money. this would save a tremendous amount of money. and i know that that you're working hard to do that and your particular agency. tell me about the cooperation with the other agencies. are you making any headway to try and get them to understand how important this is? >> what i would say is that on a
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project by project basis we have been able to actually work very well with other agencies. and one example that i use commonly is the tapenzee bridge project would ordinarily would have taken three to five years of permitting work at the federal level we got that done in 18 months and we did it by bringing all the agencies to the same table at the same time and working through the permitting issues, each agency had together. the place where i would like to take this and where we would love to have congress' help, and of course, your committee's help is by routenizing that type of process. by creating a system where that becomes more of the norm opposed to an exception. our budget also reflects permitting center to stand up to help accelerate projects. >> very good. and certainly you know anything we can do to assist you
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in that -- i think i speak for the entire committee, the entire congress, we will be glad to help in that regard. we're very proud of our aviation aero space you know, entities in arkansas. in regard to efficient processes, can you talk a little bit about when's going on in making sure that faa certification process is efficient? you know, promotes safety and enhances competitiveness. >> we are working through the faa to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of aircraft parts certification by implementing a system safety approach to that. and we're committed to using all of our available tools under the faa modernization act to support it. we have to do this in many cases on a case by case us basis working carefully with each
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manufacturer to assure that that manufacturer has the protocols in place to be as safe as possible and certified to our standards but where we see that we're going to do everything we can to work with them to accelerate the certification process. >> the small airplane revitalization act requires improvements to the certification process for small airplanes by modernizing part 23 air worthiness regulations which will enhance safety and reduce costs. faa, d.o.t. and omb must focus on a coordinated and concurrent review process to ensure notice of proposed rule making is issued by the summer of 2015. a failure to act would seed international to other authorities. can you talk, again, maybe in a little bit of detail about implementing requirements of the act? >> well, again i think what the
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faa is purporting to do is to work with each individual manufacturer. what we don't want to do is to essentially certify a manufacturer to manage certain parts of our protocols on their own if they're incapable of doing it. so we have a process by which our teams go into manufacturer and stress test their safety protocols and if we're confident that they can meet or exceed the standards we have set and we have precedent for having allowed some of the manufacturers to do that. now, in the large scale, in some of its facilities, boeing has that. on the small scale, i can't cite you chapter and verse yet of who's able to do that. >> no. thank you. thank you, madame chair.
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>> thank you. senator murphy? >> thank you. thank you first for making your first official visit when confirmed as secretary 0 new haven, connecticut. we appreciated that in part because of the attention that you were paying then and have paid to the northeastern rail corridor and wanted to build off senator coons' questions, he was talking about the budget for amtrak writ large. but i wanted to drill down on the northeastern rail corridor. we are talking about a section of the country that's only about 2% of the nation's land mass but has 20% of the rail traffic and about 19% of the nation's gdp. and when i heard senator daines talk about a pipe which was constructed and welded in 1950 i think about how envious we would be of construction that was only 60 years old when it comes to the rail lines and the bridges that run up the northeast corridor. we've got a bridge in nor walk that you know a lot about that opens occasionally when we want
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it to open because it was built in the grover cleveland administration. and we're finally thanks to your help rebuilding that bridge. but i want to thank you for your recognize og in addition that the northeastern rail corridor just cannot continue to sort of tread along at the current funding pace and so you've got a proposal here which is really important, setting aside a certain amount of money not nearly enough but an important not nearly enough but an important signal to do specific work. i wanted to allow the chance to explain why you proposed a specific matching grant for the northeastern rail corridor and how important you believe that is to make sure we don't have a disaster by virtue of one of these 1800-year-old bridges
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failing. >> thank you for the question. by the way i had a great time in connecticut. the northeast corridor is a critical lifeline for many people. you compare it to airline travel between say washington d.c. and new york. three out of every four trips is taken by rail, not the other way. so it's a very important corridor for us. it is also a corridor, as you point out, that in some cases is moving past its useful life in terms of the actual infrastructure. one thing we can't afford in a place where so many people count on rail as a life line is something to happen with the infrastructure that would result in a loss of life or a long term stoppage in our ability to move people. it would create a traffic disaster in the northeast if we didn't have that northeast corridor behind us.
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so our budget request contains 550 million specifically for the northeast corridor much of it specifically for state of good repair. just to get us back in the business of trying to update what we have. i think long term we need to have a butch bigger vision for the northeast. i think the service should be faster. i think we should think this terms of making sure that we have a stepped up level of safety features on all aspects of our rail systems in the northeast and this could be the subject of not only public funding, but it also could be the subject of public private partnership as well. we are working actually to develop a strategy around this along the with northeast corridor commission. i think that over time we're going to see some big things happen in the northeast
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corridor. some of the infrastructure up there may have a life span of, say, 20 more years. if we wait too long we're going to find ourselves not having that great asset. >> this was an innovation at the last authorization, they've done really great work proposing a new allocation. there's also a proposal to provide some funding to allow them to position to this new way which you allocate capital resources between the state governments, commuter rail lines and amtrak. they've done really great work and i hope that you're going to continue to support this. part of this is just getting all the different commuter rail lines in all the different states to have the same strategy and plan. up until the commission really wasn't happening. which hurt us. >> i would say that as we move from concept to execution on what's been envisioned it's
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going to be very important for each of the states to buy in to what it is we're trying to get done. we're looking forward to working with you and others up there. >> thank you very much. mr. secretary it looks like we have a couple more moments before the vote so you don't get to leave us quite as quickly as you might have hoped. and what i would suggest is that senator reed and i each do one question. did you make them call the vote when i said that. >> that was me. >> nice work. let us each ask you one more question. one important way to reduce highway fatalities is to require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. this is something that the trucking industry itself has
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petitioned the department for and the department has received literally thousands of comments in support of the petitioners' requests. the fmcsa believes this regulation would reduce the number of fatal crashes annually and would have minimal cost since these governors are already installed on many trucks. yet this regulation has lingered within the department since i believe 2011 and has been delayed 21 times. could you tell us why the department has failed to issue these regulations on speed limiters so many years after the initial petition despite widespread support and evidence of their effectiveness?
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>> well, first of all shlgs i want to commend not only you but many of the stake holders that are pushing for this because we do believe there is a benefit that benefit to having a rule in place here. of course some of it predates me. but i can tell you from the agency perspective, there has been a lot of work done to quantify the safety benefits. the department also had to complete a fatality analysis supporting systems and general estimate systems data as well as research to provide sound estimates of safety benefits prior to submitting the rule making proposal. i can tell you there is a notice of proposed rule making that is working its way through the department currently and i'm looking forward to getting that out as soon as possible,
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hopefully no layer than the fall. >> senator reed? >> thank you. e-cigarettes. you have said and have regulations that they cannot be used aboard an aircraft by a passenger, but you're sort of stuff because you cannot bar them from baggage and cargo. you've recommended they not be included in cargo or baggage because you have to work with the international organization. series of questions. first, when will you finalize the use specifically about the use of e-cigarettes on aircraft. and can you get a rule that will ban them from baggage. will you come to us or should we jump ahead and do legislation that authorizes you to do it independently of eko. >> very important question.
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we have brought our concerns to the attention of iko. we think that is the right venue to basically create a framework to deal with e-cigarettes. so we're working aggressively. i would like to report back to you on what the timeline is for actual action on that. beyond that, the faa did issue a safety alert in january of 2015 informing air carriers of the emerging risk discouraging them from using the belly of the planes to store these e-cigarettes and that they be transported in the passenger section of the airplanes where an incident can be handled more readily. at this point, what i would say is that we plan to work through iko to try to get the world standard in place and i would like to come back to you with a timeline on which we think that can happen. and then we can have further
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discussion about how you would like to proceed. >> thank you, senator reed. i want to associate myself with your position on the e-cigarettes completely. i think we have time if you -- if either of you -- okay. great. this hearing will adjourn. mr. secretary thank you very much for adjusting your schedule in light of the votes. and i do admire your ability to call the vote. and thus avoid the additional round of questions that we had for you. they will be submitted for the record. and i do want to say that the record will remain open until next friday for any additional questions or testimony that may be submitted. thank you for being here today. this hearing is now adjourned.
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coming up today, a discussion about the humanitarian situation in libya. you can watch the panel live at 10:00 a.m. eastern. and then live at 1:15, national security advisor susan rice will give a keynote address. she's expected to talk about the link between trade and exports and national security. this saturday is the 2015 white house correspondents association annual dinner. watch our live coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. eastern.
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president obama will address the more than 2600 attendees in the ballroom. this year's entertainment is from "saturday night live." saturday starting at 6:00 p.m. eastern on cspan. next a senate homeland security hearing on u.s. northern border threats and security. they discuss challenges such as unaccompanied minors and illegal immigrants. this is two and a half hours. >> good morning. this hearing will come to order. senator carper is on his way and
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his staff informed me that we could get underway here. i would like to without objection enter my opening comments into the record. hear no objection, so ord ordered. as i was talking to the witnesses before the hearing here, this is our fifth in the series of four hearings on border security. we're trying to lay out the reality and i think senator booker will agree with me. it's not a pleasant reality. it's an enormously difficult problem. in terms of illegal immigration in terms of drug trafficking, the biggest problem is no doubt about it it's on the southern border. as my ranking member says repeatedly, and i completely agree, we really need to analyze the root cause of the problem. we had an extremely good meeting with general kelly yesterday just discussing the problems in
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central america. and the problems with the border security and the drug trafficking. and looking for that root cause, you know we were discussing it's really america's demand for drugs and how that demand has created these drug cartels that have really corroded been so harmful to the societies in central america. we bear some responsibility for that. these are not going to be easy problems so solve. i come from a manufacturing background. nothing is ever perfect. you have to continuously improve. the purpose of this hearing is to get the people watching admitting we have the problem by trying to lay out that reality properly. my ranking member has joined us here. i'd like to turn it over to you. >> i'd love to. not too long. thanks for pulling this
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together. important hearing and we appreciate those members including the senator from new jersey who has been encouraging to have this kind of hearing. over past couple months we spent a fair amount of time on this committee, some of you know because you've been here, focus focused on trying to understand the challenges we face along our southern border with mexico. the border with canada is even larger. our shared border with canada is the largest in the world. it spans some 4,000 miles. when you add in alaska it goes up to about 5,500 miles. it's huge. it's also an economic power house for both of our countries. some 300,000 people and $1.5 billion in trade cross the u.s. canada border every day.
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that's something to celebrate even as we pay close attention to addressing potential border threats. i had the pleasure of visiting michigan and north dakota. and memorable visit. we sat -- we went to this mexican restaurant and listened to the opening game, the tigers beat the twins. i won't forget that. great day. great day. the risks along the northern border include northbound and southbound flows of drugs and potential exploitation by terrorists. we've increased border staffing technology along the northern border. they're back to 2,000 border patrol ees stationed on the northern border today. almost a seven-fold increase. and there are about 3,700 cdp
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officers at the northern ports of entry. is there more we can do to better secure the northern border? sure. sure there is. we can't close our border. having said that, we need to better understand the risks associated with it and implement the most cost effective strategy. not unlike our southern border aerial surveillance underground sensors, cameras on mobile towers can greatly help. good intelligence and strong information sharing networks can also make help the best use of limited staffing and resources. fortunately our relationship with the canadians is perhaps
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the best we can hope for. share our shared prosperity. we look forward to hearing more about how this relationship is working under the 2011 beyond the border framework and any areas of progress still needed. i hope the witnesses will address whether there are successful practices at the northern border that we could replicate and use on our southern border with mexico. i continue to hope our focus on border security will become part of a larger conversation. with that, we look forward to your testimony. thank you all for coming and for your service. >> this committee really is pretty well populated with senators from those border states. by have senators from wisconsin. senator ayotte from hm hm. you're welcome as well.
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it's all part and parcel of the same problem. we're glad to see you mr. chairman. i do want to welcome the witnesses. thank you for your very thoughtful testimony. it is the tradition of the committee to swear in witnesses. if you'll rise and raise your right hand. do you swear the testimony you would give before this committee would be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god. >> i do. >> thank you. by the way we do have votes starting at 10:45. i asked you to keep the five minutes. we have good attendance by our commiter. first is michael j. fisher. he joined june 1987 and served in numerous services and sectors
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since then. deputy chief patrol agent, assistant chief patrol agent in the tucson sector. mr. fisher. >> thank you mr. chairman. ranking member carper and members of the kplit tee. it is indeed a privilege to appear today on behalf of the united states border patrol to discuss our strategy to secure the northern border. our approach supports u.s. customs and border protections over our themes of collaboration, integration and innovation. collaboration at all levels, including information sharing and operational coordination. it's critical to the shared security of the border. enhanced information and intelligence will always be the key to minimizing risk along our borders. the operational integration center located at south ridge
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international guard base in michigan is an information sharing demonstration project to enhance the informational awareness of cpb and our mission co-partners. state and local law enforcement as well as the royal canadian mountain police and the canadian border services agency. it consolidates a wide range of information including radar and camera feeds, data base queries remote sensor inputs and surveillance system feeds and video from various ports of entry. local traffic cameras will be added in the near future. our joint efforts to improve existing surveillance technologies that can overcome terrain and environmental challenges. they are collaborating with
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canada along with us in a sensor sharing pilot to demonstrate the common surveillance picture between the cpmb and rbmt. our situational awareness on the northern border is enhanced by technological capabilities. cbp's office of air marine has 41 fixed wing and rotary aircraft equipped with sensors stationed along the northern border. they operate out of the grand forks air force base in north dakota. it improves our situational awareness and border security in areas that are difficult to reach. we are expanding the coherent change detection technology along the northern border this year. this is the same methodology that allows us to cover
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approximately 900 miles along the southwest border without having to deploy technology or border patrol agents. each month, cbp produces the state of the northern border briefing which provides a multi-agency intelligence report for identifying monitoring and addressing emerging trends and threats along the northern border. it's produced in direct collaboration with our canadian partners. the state of the northern border provided a broader avenue for information sharing and greater intelligence up sight. it is also an active participant in several targeted joint operations which are called the integrated border enforcement teams. they are comprised of u.s. and canadian personnel. the teams designed to increase
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information and intelligence sharing capabilities among the appropriate u.s. and canadian authorities. by incorporating integrated mobile response capabilities in the air, land and marine environments they provide participating law enforcement agencies with a force multiplier. chairman johnson, ranking member carper, again, thank you for the opportunity to appear today. and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, chief fisher. i do want to note that the deputy assistant commissioner of the office of field operations, john wagner. you've been assigned to the cbp headquarters since 1999. mr. wagner began his federal law enforcement year in 1991 when he joined the u.s. customs service. also worked at the new york, new jersey sea port in the port of laredo, texas. our next witness will be james
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sparrow. he's a special agent in charge for the buffalo new york area. he was also the deputy assistant director of ice. unit chief of the identity and acting assistant special agent in charge for hsi, their washington field office. am i pronouncing that right mr. spero. >> yes senator, spero. >> mr. spero. >> chairman johnson, ranking member carper and distinguished members, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you discuss ice's efforts to improve security along the northern border. as dhs principal investigative agency, this position to lev ranl broad statutory authority to enforce border enforcement. we work with u.s. interagency
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partners as well as counterparts in canadian law enforcement targ targeted in travel, trade and finance. hsi provides a full range of techniques including leading and participating in joint u.s. canadian task forces, undercover operations, controlled deliveries asset identification and removal, informants and title 3 electronic intercepts. we have nearly 1,300 special agents and 100 intelligence research specialists operating along the northern border. in fiscal year 2014, hsi's seven special agent enforced officers covering the northern border koorpt in investigation with
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state, local tribal and canadian law enforcement seized more than $237 million in cash and monetary instruments. nearly 26,000 pounds of marijuana. 2,000 pounds of cocaine. 146 pounds of ecstasy. 719 pounds of heroin. 949 pounds of methamphetamine. nearly 1,400 weapons and firearms. over 55,000 rounds of ammunition and about 8,400 weapon components. hsi special agents made over 5,700 criminal arrests resulting in nearly 3,800 indictments and approximately 3,500 convictions. these statistics reflect the impact of our coordinated law enforcement investments and investigations along the northern border.
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additionally hsi maintains the largest investigative footprint of any u.s. law enforcement agency in canada. hsi officers located in ottawa, vancouver, toronto and montreal further enhance national security by serving as ice's leewayiaison and counter parts to local government and law enforcement. our partnerships are essential to join operations and information sharing along the northern border and beyond. one example is how hsi participates in the fbi-led joint terrorism task force. it brings unique authorities and experience to the task force to help protect the homeland from threats to national security. hsi's flag ship task force program, bes, created in 2005 as a mechanism to address the
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threat of cross-border crime. in 2007, ice began to deploy bes units along the northern border. it provides a proven and flexible platform from which dhs investigates criminal organizations at our nations border. bes units differ from other task forces due to their proximity to the border and focus on cross-border criminal activity. kurntly there are four bes units operating along the northern border. one significant advantage is the participation and integration of foreign law enforcement personnel who have the ability to conduct cross-better border investigations with hsi and our federal, state local and travel partners to address criminal activity on both sides of the
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border. one successful collaboration with our international law enforcement partners is operation primed which is an hsi buffalo investigation that target add cocaine smuggling organization involving the illicit movement of cocaine within canada, the united states and mexico. they were responsible for the smuggling of approximately 1,600 kilograms of cocaine into canada with a street value of over $60 million. through successful collaboration with canadian law enforcement, the high level target was sentenced in may of 2014 to 82 months of enincarceration. he was trying to import from new york into canada. the 97 kilograms of cocaine
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seizure is to this day the largest seizure in the history of the port of buffalo. in conclusion, ice remained dead cased and committed to this mission. and we look forward to continuing to work with this committee on these efforts. thank you again for the opportunity to testify today and i would be pleased to answer any questions. >> thank you. i have informed that mr. wagner does have an opening statement. would you like to give that now or wait until the very end? >> i thought i was off the hook. >> oh, no. >> i'll give it now if that's okay. >> okay. >> chairman johnson ranking member carper, thank you for the opportunity to appear today on behalf of cbp's office of field operations to discuss ports of entry along our northern border. the u.s. international boundary with canada delynn yats to friendly nations with ties that
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have contributed to a high volume of cross-border trade and travel. we ensure that the northern border pragtss protect and secure the vital flow of commerce. the u.s. and canada connected by more than 120 land ports of industry 750 daily flights and numerous commercial and recreational vessels that cross the maritime border. cbp has more than 3,600 cbp officers and 190 ing aagriculture specialists stationed along the border. at many northern border ports of entry, we continue to invest in and deploy radio frequency identification technology. this technology along with the 2009 implementation of that allows cbp to clear nearly 100%
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of travelers against databases. large scale and small scale images technology as well as a variety of portable and handheld technology. additionally, dhs and canadian agencies are collaborating to develop tests to enhance cross-border operations. we've also made significant investments in infrastructure. the u.s. government invested over $400 million to rebuild and improve more than 30 ports of entry along the northern border. it has a high volume of international trade and travel. approximately 73 million travelers enter the united states through the border with canada. many of our initiatives to facilitate lawful international travel simultaneously increase security. we develop effective security operations. security measures vitally
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protect travel and tourism. identifying and separating low risk travelers from those who may require additional scrutiny is a key element in our efforts to facilitate international travel. in 2014 the combined two-way trade and investment between the u.s. and canada totalled $759 billion. it's our largest export market. cbp is committed to a coordinated approach working with our federal, private sector and canadian partners to reduce transaction cross and promote economic growth along the northern border. in 2011, the u.s. and canada signed the beyond the border initiative. cbp is the primary lead and has significant interest and participates in seven others. we've completed the first two
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phases of the entry-exit pilot which involves an exchange of entry records of travelers. land entry into one country will serve as the exit record from another. we've launch add pilot program to reduce wait times and congestions. phase one of the fie lot was completed in washington and british columbia. phase two in ontario also recently concluded. in march 16th dhs concluded negotiations of new preclearance agreement for land, air, marine air modes of travel. over 1.1 million travelers, an increase of approximately 80% since 2011. we're striving to provide a secure and trusted global supply chain. a key means of achieving this
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objective is through the integrated cargo security strategy which seeks to address risks at the earliest opportunity. we were testing the ability to use advanced data and inspecting inbound marine cargo at the first point of arrival in north america. canada and the united states continue to aliegnalign. and in u.s. the custom trades partnership. we're expecting to launch a fully automated process allowing a joint application for the cross-border highway carriers by fall of this year. this will allow companies entered in joining both programs submit a single application and manage only one partnership account instead of two. we also engaged with local entities and authorities. for example cbp and the dhs domestic nuclear detection
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office have partnered with buffalo to replace 18 radiation portal monitors in northern new york. this agreement was reached in november of 2014 and just recently completed. it will increase security and efficiency by supporting new calibration procedures. chairman johnson, thank you again for the opportunity to testify today and i'm happy to answer any of you questions. >> thank you. our next witness is david rodriguez. he began his career in 1970. mr. roz reguess worked at the dea. in 1997, he was selected as the director for the northwest high area program in seattle washington. if 2013, the nw -- you get used to acronyms this this business, received national awards for the
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program op the u.s./canada border. >> chairman johnson, distinguished members of the committee, my name is dave rodriguez from seattle, washington. we coordinate and do joint operations with more than 115 international, federal local and state agencies throughout the northwest. we help these agencies to identify drug threats and elementary strategies to address them. the transnational criminal organizations operating on both sides of the u.s.-canada border continue to move proceeds from illegal drugs sold in the skpus canada as well as drugs weapons and bulk cash. these organizations include caucasian groups ethnic east indians, asian organized crimes groups and members of the hell's angels motorcycle club.
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particularly those by consolidated priority organization targets. we have gain add strong foothold of the pacific northwest. these include but not limited to the knights templar and another organization. washington's topography and location render it susceptible to drug smuggling and production. the border is 3400 miles long. a significant portion of the international border is secluded dense forest. and particularly large scale cannabis cultivation. they also serve as routes for drug and currency smuggling. most of


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