tv Transportation Secretary Nominee Elaine Chao Testifies at Confirmation... CSPAN January 12, 2017 1:39am-4:45am EST
well, good morning, everyone. i want to welcome everyone to this commerce committee's first hearing of the 11 anth congress. especially our new members. hassan and cortez masto. in addition to growing in size our committee has the proud distinction of being the senate committee with the most members ever at eight.
>> i also want to thank all of our returning members especially ranking member nelson for their hard work last congress. we were able to indicate over 60 measures in the 114th congress. i'm confident we'll be equally successful. today we'll consider the nomination of secretary elaine chao to be the 1th secretary of transportation. the agency that secretary chao has been nominated to lead plays a vital role in facilitating on promoting the safe efficient movement of goods and people through the country and the world. the department contains ten agencies employs over 57,000 full-time employees and an operating budget of $85 billion. according to the bureau of labor statistics, the transportation sector employs over 12 million people nationwide and contributors nearly $1.4 trillion to the nation's economy or 8.6% of the u.s. gross domestic product. my home state of south dakota, this translates into approximately 10,000 jobs.
but these numbers only begin to tell the story because so much of our economy is dependent upon a driving transportation sector. for example, without a robust and efficient transportation sector, rural states like mine would be unable to get goods to market. increasing capacity and efficiency of our highways, rail lines and ports is crucial. it will have to be a top priority for the next secretary of transportation. another top priority for the next secretary must be safety. while our nation's pipelines, railroads, airways and highways have a strong record of safety improvements can and should be made. it will be important to avoid up with size fits all solutions on safety. the department must offer a range of tools to combat unique safety challenges as south dakota has done with its innovative 24/so bright program to combat impaired driving. many of the improvements this committee is part of the acts last congress are yet to be implemented. we'll expect our next secretary
to work with us to ensure speedy immemttation. we'll revisit the authorization of the federal aviation administration later this year. the next secretary of transportation will have a unique opportunity to show federal leadership and the advancement of transportation innovati innovation. v to v technology, unmanned aircraft systems to name a few have great promise to improve efficiency and spur economic growth. like all new technologies these must be properly integrated in a way that maximizes their benefits without compromising the performance of the current systems. secretary choop if confirmed, you will have a moment to us opportunity to transform americans' transportation network by promoting safety and innovation, growing our nation's freight network and ensuring all users rural and urban benefit equally. if you were to imagine an ideal
candidate to tackle these challenges it would be hard to come up with a more qualified nominee than the one before us today. in addition to canning for eight years as the u.s. secretary of labor, secretary chao has also served as the deputy secretary of the department she's now been tapped to lead. her extensive experience includes leading the united way of america, the peace corps and the federal maritime commission. secretary chao, have you consistently proven your willingness to address the challenges facing our nation and i would like to thank you for testifying today and for your willingness to continue occur record of service to the country. i will now turn to ranking member nelson for any opening remarks and before secretary chao's opening statement, she would be introduced by her husband, senator mcconnell, majority leader in the united states senate and the other member of the kentucky delegation, senator paul. the chair recognizes senator nelson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as we start out, i want to take a minute to express on behalf of
the committee our condolences to the friends and loved ones of the victims of friday's horrific shooting at fort lauderdale's airport. and i want to thank the heroic work that was undertaken by the first responders and the law enforcement personnel in responding. and although the investigation remains on going, i expect all of us in the congress will continue exploring ways tote protect the traveling public in light of this tragic incident. and while we've made some progress in last year's faa bill to double the number of the viper teams, the dog teams and bolster the screening of airport workers, this tragic shooting serves as a reminder that our
work to improve airport security remains a constant challenge. this year's faa reauthorization bill that we have to take up could be a good place to start if more needs to be done to prevent similar tradition from occurring. so mr. chairman, we're here today at a time when our nation is at a crossroads. many of our roads, bridges, tunnels, and rails are aging. and desperately need to be repaired and replaced. years of neglect and increased demand have brought us to the point that we can no longer sit by idly and watch our country's most critical instruct continc e to deteriorate.
we must step up to this challenge and that's particularly pertinent to the hearing on the confirmation of chao. we must commit to bid the next generation of great american infrastructure or risk harming our economy and global competitiveness, risk it by failing to do so. and that means investing in projects that will move people and goods for decades to come. such as ports. we have a lot in florida. they're responsible for moving lots of the goods in and out of our country. rails and highways that move the goods throughout our states, transit and rail projects that get americans to work. airports and passenger rail projects that connect our communities and technologies of tomorrow that will move people and goods more efficiently and
more safely. these projects will also create good paying jobs whether it's construction workers laying the foundation, an engineer doing the design or the steelworker make the parts. the benefits of updating and expanding our transportation infrastructure can produce thunderous ripple effects, creating new developments, generating increased investments and driving new economic opportunities, and that's what our country needs now. and the immediate future. it takes a strong commitment, however, from the congress and the administration and specifically the department of transportation. and it's going to take a significant amount of funding. and so secretary chao, i hope we'll hear more from you today
on your administration's plan and how you intend to pay for it. and our nation's transportation challenges include more than the deteriorating bridges and roads. safety, of course, continues to be a serious problem. in the last two years, it marked a des touching trend of rising fatalities on highways and reversing a lot of progress that we've seen over the last half century. so the department of transportation must aggressively use all of its authority and resources to bring those numbers do you know whether it's cracking down on the drunk and distract driving, increasing seat belt use or getting defective vehicles such as 240es those are t those with the exploding takata
air bags fix immediately. and as the department must prepare for the future, as i speak, automakers are rapidly moving toward commercializing autonomous technology and self-driving cars. and the department is going to have to play a very central role in ensuring that this is safe for the american public. then of course, there's aviation safety. it's critical. it's an important task. it will be before the complete in the faa reauthorization bill. now chairman thune and i have worked hard on a bipartisan and comprehensive faa reauthorization bill last year and as a result, 95-3 in the senate. it the reauthorization bill was stalled in the house, given a proposal there to privatize air
traffic control. besides the total opposition of the united states department of defense, which has 20% of the air traffic, besides being costly and disruptive in implementation such as privatization, this scheme would upset the partnership between the faa and a lot of the agencies of government. and last, certainly not least, i hope, madam secretary, that we'll get a commitment from you that you'll look out for the traveling public by insuring that they have the basic consumer protections. this means working with us here in the congress to make sure that airline passengers know what they're paying for up front and that those costs are fair.
these provisions had broad bipartisan support in last year's faa reauthorization and we should get them the finish line. and madam secretary, just a personal note. you and my wife are the dearest of friends. she is one of your biggest fans. and i have watched you as you have comported yourself in a previous administration as a cabinet member, and it has been with grace and excellence that you have done so. and i certainly look forward to you in this new administration doing the same. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator nelson. it may be a first to have a senate leader testify in front of this committee but we're privileged today to have senator mcconnell here to make a very
special introduction. the chair recognizes the senate majority leader for a statement. >> chairman thune, senator nelson, members of the committee, obviously, it's a great pleasure to be here today. actually, chairman thune, it's probably not the first time the majority leader's been before this committee. i'm reminded of something bob dole said at the confirmation hearing for another transportation nominee. his wife elizabeth. we all remember bob for having the best sense of humor ever of anyone who served here. this is how he began. he said i feel a little bit like nathan hale. i regret that i have but one wife to give for my country's infrastructure. [ laughter ] that was bob dole for you. the nominee before us is extraordinarily well qualified.
incredibly capable and she's got really great judgment. [ laughter ] on a whole variety of things. i know senator paul will have much more to say about her qualifications when he speaks next. but let me just say this elaine is going to do a fantastic job as secretary of transportation she's going to do good things for our country. she's going to make the commonwealth of kentucky proud. and she will be only the second cabinet secretary we've had from my state since world war ii. who was the other, you might ask? secretary of labor elaine chao. i said at her last confirmation hearing that elaine would be one of the best secretaries of labor we've ever had. i'm saying today that elaine will be one of the best secretaries of transportation, as well. she's overcome some pretty big obstacles in her life but everything she does, she does
well. i know she'll perform brilliantly again in this new role. her family gathered here today couldn't be prouder especially elaine's father dr. james chao. i feel exactly the same way he does. thank you for the opportunity to be here and let me turn to my colleague from kentucky. >> mr. chairman, it is my privilege this morning to introduce a friend, a dear friend and a fellow kentuckian, secretary elaine chao for her nomination hearing to be as secretary of transportation. i'd also like to welcome her family, dr. james chao renowned in his own right, my wife kelly have come to know elaine well sichbs our first election six years ago and we were both grateful for her friendship as we transitioned to public service. we both admire her for her thoughtfulness, integrity, intellect and service to the country. her record of accomplishment and leadership make her a truly
exceptional candidate. prior to her nomination, secretary chao had served this nation under three presidential administrations. most notably as the longest serving secretary of labor under president george w. bush. as aim grant to this country, her successes are not only a testament to the american dream but the unbridled spirit of kentucky also. have having emigrated from taiwan at the age of with no background in the english language, she would copy all the words of her teachers on the black board so her parents could go over them daily when she arrived at home to improve her english skills. her father worked three jobs to support six children but they always expressed optimism for the future. the family was truly grateful to be in america. and despite the challenges, they seized the opportunity that this nation had to offer. secretary chao's parents' belief in education, service and hard work set the foundation for her success. which includes a degree from
harvard business school and 36 honorary doctorate degrees from institutions around the world. but for the chao family, education is never the end. it is just the beginning. secretary chao's extensive background in both public and private sectors includes not only her previous stint as secretary of labor but also deputy secretary of transportation, chairman of the federal maritime commission, deputy maritime administrator, and deputy administrator at the u.s. department of transportation, director of the peace corps, it's a long resume. we would all wish to have such a resume. she was also president of the united way, as well. i have no doubt she would do an excellent job and that her integrity will lead her to great heights as the secretary of transportation. i look forward to working with secreta chao and officials at the department to address our infrastructure issues facing our country. i urge the committee's favorable consideration of my friend,
elaine chao. >> thank you, senator paul. thank you, senator mcconnell and at this point, we will ask our nominee secretary elaine chao to please come forward and offer her opening statement. >> chairman thune, ranking member nelson -- chairman thune, ranking member nelson, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i also want to thank my home state senators from the great
commonwealth of kentucky for their kind introductions. i'm very honored to have the support of senator rand paul and i'll be working to lock in the majority leader's support tonight over dinner. i'm specially delighted to introduce my father, dr. james s. krefrlg chao who along with my mother ruth mulan chao is the foundation of everything that my sisters and i have been able to achieve. like so many others as you've heard, my father left everything familiar behind to come to this country and build a better life for our family. my mother, two sisters and i endured three long years of separation before we were able to join him traveling from asia to america via a cargo ship on an ocean journey that lasted 37 days. there were many challenges during those early days. living in an apartment in queens, new york, learning
english and adapting to a completely foreign culture. but my parents' love, optimism, faith, and diligence kept us together. if i can ask my father to stand up, i would really appreciate it. stand up. [ applause ] >> thank you so much. i'm also very pleased to introduce one of my sisters, may chao and her twin daughters miranda and jessica from new york city. mae is the daughters whose name symbolizes america. my mother was seven months pregnant with mae when my father left for america and he did not see his third daughter mae until she was 3 years old and mae, if i can ask you and the girls to stand up. [ applause ]
and my brother-in-law gordon is here and that's it for the family. my executive career in government began at the u.s. department of transportation during my career, i've will the extensive privilege of leading large, complex organizations. in the public and the private sectors as deputy secretary of transportation, director of the peace corps, president and ceo of united way of america, and the u.s. secretary of labor. in each of these positions, my goal has always been to help others access opportunities in mainstream america and build better lives for themselves and their families by supporting poses that foster job creation and workforce competitiveness. our country's transportation infrastructure is the underpinning of a world class economy. one of the most productive flexible and dynamic in the
world. it is a key factor in productivity growth which has provided millions of hard working americans with a standard of living that is the envy of the world. and it has provided us with unprecedented mobility, safety, and security. and yet, today, these gains are jeopardized by aging infrastructure, growing congestion why, increased fatalities on our highways and a failure to keep pace with emerging technologies. the u.s. department of transportation has a rare opportunity to shape the transformation of our critical infrastructure. and the chance to lead the department at this pivotal historic time is a great honor. first and foremost safety will continue to be the primary
objective. regulatory decisions should be rooted in analysis derived from sound science and data with the risk-based analysis that prevents accidents before they occur. and considers can both the cost and the benefits of new rule makings. railroads, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, pipeline operators, transit authorities and hazardous waste material shippers should be deploying comprehensive approaches to safety. the department will also work with states to ensure that billions of dollars of federal funding are focused on improving transportation system performance and project delivery. our rail and air traffic operational efficiency which is so important to america's competitiveness need to be continuously improved. and i look forward to working with this committee on faa's transition to 21st century air traffic control technologies known as nefgen.
eight months remain before faa reauthorizati reauthorization. so it's important to start the collaborative process soon to provide air travelers with a system second to none. another major challenge is to unleash the potential for private investment in our nation's infrastructure. as we work together to develop the details of the president-elect's infrastructure plan had, it's important to know the significant difference between traditional program funding and other innovative financing tools such as public/private partnerships. in order to take full advantage of the estimated trillions in capital that equity firms, pension funds, and endowments can invest, these partnerships must be allowed to participate with a bold new vision. and again, we look forward to working with you to explore all options and to create a mix of
practical solutions both public and private, that provide the greatest cost benefit to the public because we all know that the government doesn't have the resources to do it all. it's also important to recognize that the way we build and deliver projects is just as important as how much we invest. and we want to seek your advice in identifying and addressing unnecessary bottlenecks in the processes that govern project development and delivery as well as the manufacturing processes that we oversee. and finally, we want to work with you to address the unique transportation needs in rural america as well as the challenges that major metropolitan areas face. looking to the future, we also have a unique opportunity to
address the exciting new technologies transforming travel and commerce. the private sector is driving this innovation. they're working with cities and states to demonstrate improvements in the safety and efficiency of autonomous vehicles. drones are poised to become a major commercial force. and the federal role in these sectors is still very much in its infancy. we want to work with congress to position the federal government as a catalyst for safe, efficient technologies, not as an implement -- and not as an impediment. in summary, the department of transportation has a key role to play in modernizing our transportation systems. strengthening our nation's competitiveness and improving our quality of life.
and i look forward to working with you to rebuild, refurbish and revitalize america's infrastructure so our economy can continue to grow, create good paying jobs for america's working families and enhance our quality of life. thank you. and now i'll be pleased to take your questions into thank you, secretary chao. before we begin our questions, i want to ask unanimous consent to put 20 letters of support for secretary chao into the record. they come from a diversity group of stakeholders ranging from first responders and transportation infrastructure groups to labor and shippers. without objection, so ordered. secretary chao, i think i countied at least a half dozen references to working with congress and more specifically to working with this committee in your testimony. i know you appreciate the importance of cooperation
between the branks of our government. nevertheless, these hearings give us an opportunity to underscore that point. if confirmed, will you pledge to work comrabratively with this committee and provide timely responses for information as we work to address transportation policy. >> i look forward to working with members of this committee and also the congress on all these issues of concern. >> plains, trains and automobiles are particularly important in a rural state like south dakota where long distances often separate people from economic hubs. the markets for their goods and even hospitals. secretary chao, appreciated your recognition of the need and challenge of achieving equity between urban and rural areas in your top priorities for the department. as a senator from the 0 state of south dakota, this balance is especially important to me and my constituents. the fast act struck a careful balance to ensure we appropriately invested in both urban and rural infrastructure critical for connecting the country, supporting mobility options for all americans and
moving agriculture manufactured and other products to the market. to what extent to do you see the funding allocations in the fast act as providing a framework for thinking about potential allocations under any infrastructure proposal put forward by the administration? >> i think the president-elect's vision for an infrastructure proposal is ambitious and futuristic and comprehensive. we will be starting a task force and a process to address these issues. the fast act was a tremendous accomplishment by the last congress. and there are many, many financing options which should be considered and we would hope that as we go into the future, that we also we'll also be creative, innovative and consider other options, as well because as mentioned, the government does not have the resources to address all the
infrastructure needs within our country. so all of us need to put our best thinking forward as to how to fund the aging infrastructure. >> would you strive also to try and strike the balance or achieve the balance when it comes to funding allocations between urban and rural areas that was accomplished in the fast act? >> absolutely. i've lived on the east coast, the west coast. i now live in kentucky. i'm very, very familiar with the balance that needs to be kept between the urban and the rural areas. >> another area of importance for south dakota and for a lot of members on this committee is the availability of reliability and affordable commercial air service which has the ability to allow access to and from geographically isolated areas of the country to hubs in metropolitan areas. while it's a convenience for travelers commercial aviation is something that often helps communities attract businesses creating jobs and spurring economic development. various factors have altered the
market and unfortunately in some cases threatened or eliminated access to commercial aviation for curl communities. if confirmed that will you do to improve commercial aviation connectivity to rural communities? >> rural communities are a central part of our country and their access to affordable and easy air service is an issue and something that we have talked about in many, many ways and over the years. so i look forward to working with the congress on continuing the eas program and finding ways in which we can improve it, as well. >> new technologies i mentioned in my opening remarks like autonomous vehicles, have the potential to improve our transportation system by saving lives increasing mobility and improving fuel economy. the department has begun developing a framework for autonomous vehicles and as you noted in your testimony, but the federal role is still at an
early stage of development. so i welcome your goal of making the federal government a catalyst rather than an impediment for technologies that improve safety and efficiency. if confirmed, how will your department keep pace with evolving technologies and foster innovation? >> innovation and creativity is a hallmark of america. we are famous throughout the world because of the ingenuity and creativity we have shown. and we have led the world in so many fronts because of the new technologies that our country has been able to pioneer. we are now seeing the advent of autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, smart cars, and also drones. while the benefits are very much known, there are also concerns about how they will continue to develop and i will work with this committee and the congress to address many of these concerns. but we need to do so in a way that will not dampen the basic
creativity and innovation of our country. >> thank you, secretary choo. senator nelson. >> mr. chairman, i want to welcome the four new members on the democratic side. they have certainly helped the ratio of male to female that you talked about. senators baldwin, duckworth, hasan, and cortez mast toe. and i hope to announce very shortly the ranking members of the subcommittees very shortly. i'm just going to ask one question. i want to give the opportunity for our members to ask this plethora of subjects that this committee handles and then i'll do any clean-up at the end. the question of privatization of air traffic control, the opposition of dod, the fact that
whereas the business roundtable supports the privatization. there is dissension within that organization. on the other side, the aerospace industries association opposes privatization. you want to offer any of your thoughts on this? >> i like to get confirmed first. obviously, this is an issue of great importance. and this is a huge issue that needs to have national consensus and for that are national consensus to occur, there needs to be a dialogue, a great discussion, a national discussion. the administration has not made a decision on then point. and i expect that come january 20th, this will be one of the issues in which the white house will have some say as to where
their -- where the position of the administration would be. i am open to all ideas. i'm very cognizant of those who are in favor of it. i'm also very cognizant of those who are concerned about the safety aspects of it. >> okay. >> but i will work obviously, with the congress and also with this committee on all those issues. >> well, in view of your answer, let me just say that we will collaborate extensively. >> yes. >> with you with regard to this. and it is so important that we get a full faa reauthorization, a multiyear. the chairman and i worked it out where we would get basically one year and get a number of important things etched into law
in that bill. but for the certainty of the airline industry and the future for the future of the next generation of air traffic control, et cetera, we need to this multiyear faa reauthorization bill and there is a huge contention between the house and the senate over there issue of privatization. so we will be consulting with you and collaborating and communicating with you extensively on this. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i look forward to it. >> thank you, senator nelson. senator wicker. >> madam secretary, i think most members of this committee are delighted that have you been chosen for this position. i think you'll be confirmed with a nice bipartisan vote and i think we'll be consulting and collaborating with you on a wide variety of issues because you have quite a bit of jurisdiction. i think what i heard you say
with regard to senator nelson's question is, if we're going to make a major change as has been proposed, then there needs to be a national consensus on that, and that there needs to be more of a national conversation and certainly i appreciate your assurances that congress will be consulted on this. so i appreciate that. i would also simply like to underscore that in response to senator thune's question about rural america, you expressed support for the essential air service. and i would just use part of my time today to say i think the point there that i would underscore in endorsing your statement, madam secretary, is that it is a bargain for job creators and economic developers in the united states to have this assurance and so i
appreciate hearing that from you. i'd like to just touch briefly on three other things, and those would be the federal contract tower program, the merchant marine academy, and the jones act. now, with regard to the federal contract tower program, this has been one of the faa's one of the faa's most successful government strit partn industry partnership programs. it is critical to air traffic control safety and 253 smaller airports including seven in my home state of mississippi. what are your plans to ensure that this program would enjoy strong bipartisan and by camera support in congress continues to provide these important air traffic control services for our traveling public and our small airports? >> i would hope to work with the congress. obviously, i've always done that in the past.
this is a very important issue. i look forward to working with you on it. >> i look forward to a continuing conversation on that also. now, as you may know and i think we had this conversation when you came by early on for a visit, which i appreciated. i'm a member of the board of visitors at the merchant marine academy. this has been one of the finest collegiate degrees a young american man or woman could receive in the united states of america and we've will some bumps and hiccups along the way. on january 6th, i was pleased to learn that secretary fox has lifted the suspension of the c year on commercial vessels for stunz for midshipmen at the merchant marine academy. i want to encourage you to
continue efforts to ensure the integrity of this critical training program for our future merchant marine mariners. the merchant marine academy is operating also under a warning with regard to accreditation. this is unimaginable to me based on where this academy has been historically in terms of academic achievement. the accreditation warning presents a serious risk. i hope you have plans, and my question to you is will you make it a priority, madam secretary, to ensure that the academy will stay on track to address the cited deficiencies prior to the april 2018 deadline and will you agree with me that the alumni of this fine institution have a lot of knowledge and wisdom that
they can impart to us as government policymakers in this regard? >> senator wicker, during my courtesy visit with you, you were very concerned about this issue. and i listened very carefully to what your concerns are, which you echoed once again here today. i have been to kings point whether he i was deputy maritime administrator, i know the facility very well. this is a an huge issue and i can assure you if confirmed, this will be the first issue that i take up. >> thank you very much. briefly because my time is fleeting, a vitally important part of our maritime industry is the jones act which this committee has jurisdiction over. i hope you will be a strong supporter of the jones act and advocate for our domestic maritime sector as a bipartisan
majority of this committee has always done. >> the jones act is a law of the land and it will be obeyed. unless the congress changes its mind on that. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator wicker. senator cantwell. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and welcome and congratulations on your nomination. i think weep had a chance to discuss the state of washington and how rapidly it is growing. how being a gateway to the pacific has made our transportation system one of the key cornerstones of our economic success, that our tate and local governments are making strategic investments in 2014, washington businesses though lost $800 million because of congestion and we have very challenged infrastructure issues. for the third consecutive year, c tack is the fastest growing airport in the united states. in the last three years, the
passenger volume has increases by 32%. railroads are moving over 105 million tons of freight each year. sand transit is the fastest growing light rail service in the country. the northwest seaport alliance, the largest cargo center and rgdp in the state grew by 3% compared to the nation as a whole which was 2.5 and washington employment grew 3.5% the fastest in the nation adding 109,000 jobs in 2016. so we have growth. we have an economic engine. but we desperately desperately desperately desperately need the infrastructure investment. so i listened to your words very carefully as you phrased out ways in which to get that infrastructure investment. i'm all for creativity. i would say that our last transportation bill stretched us to the limits. there's no more spro dollars to get for infrastructure investment. so it is very important that we move forward.
i just have a couple of questions. you can just answer yes or no. it's not trick yes or no questions, more trying to get a sense of what you will prioritize as far as funding. so do you support the legislation that this committee passed that was implemented the freight act and funding fast lane grant programs to move freight more cost effectively through the united states and continuing to fund that program. >> in concept of course, we want to make sure that freight is moved efficiently. adds to the productivity of our country. it's good for the economy. as for the second part of your question, i'm not quite sure yet because i've not briefed on what the current situation is. but if cop firmed, i'll be more than glad to do na. >> when it cops to the faa, i want to be clear, do you support coming up with additional funding, however it works out? you do support a new infrastructure investment in our
airports? >> we need to more resources to build, repair, refurbish, our infrastructure including those that relate to the aviation sector, yes. >> okay. i mentioned sound transit, one of the fastest growing commuter systems in the country. there are projects that are already in the pipeline. do you support continuation of those projects, and you mentioned creativity. one of the things that they've been able to use is the plaster credit agreements so that they can get more affordable loan rates. are those the kinds of programs you would support for sound transnight at this point, if i'm confirmed, i need to look at those projects. there are many projects that are on the books and there are different reasons why some are faster, some are slower. i need to take a look at what is happening with each of those projects. >> i'd like to follow up with
you if i could in writing and see if we can get an answer to that. >> of course. >> i mentioned this issue of the crude by rail going through the state of washington, extraordinary growth rates of trains that have every city in my state concerned about the volatility of this product. department of energy and d.o.t. are working on an analysis of the volatility of that product. will you continue to support that research. >> you and i have talked about this at length. the prospect of having these products go through urban areas of great concern but again, until i'm confirmed and i have an opportunity to be briefed on all of these, it would be premature for me to say anything at this point. >> okay. >> but i will work with you on this. >> i definitely came here very interested in your nomination and very enthusiastic about the prospects of a former cabinet member moving over to focus on something that has been very, if you will, administrations sometimes choosing someone of
the opposite party just because of the bipartisan nature of transportation. so i would hope you could look at some of these. >> absolutely. >> and give me a more specific answer. i'm not trying to box you in as much as the main debate for my state right now is are we going to fund infrastructure investment. we need to know that you're going to step up and say yes to that and work creatively with us to find those solutions. >> the way you have just phrased the question, absolutely. >> okay. >> yes. >> but the specifics, you have. >> yeah, if i'm confirmed, i do need to take a look at the specifics. >> i'm going to send you a few more in writing. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> senator blunt? >> thank you, chairman. secretary chao, it's wonderful to have you here. i think. >> reporter: >> reporter: i don't know that any other committee will have somebody that goes through this process this year who's already been confirmed four times. so far without a dissenting vote on the senate floor. you're in the process of setting a record that it will be hard to
hard for anybody else to meet in the future. we had a chance to work together when you were at the department of labor, the secretary of labor. i thought you did a tremendous job there. but one of the things i liked best about your focus there was on compliance even more than on enforcement. and i wonder if you would talk a little bit about that theory of trying to get people into compliance as a principal focus rather than the heavy hand of enforcement as your first place to go. >> a lot of times the rules and regulations can be very confusing. and so the government, whether it be at the federal, state and local levels i believe has a responsibility to engage in outreach, to help the regulated.
this benefits not only those who are being protected, which is the sole criteria, of course, but also it builds a culture, for example, of safety, that benefits those who are being protected because workers, alone, cannot protect themselves. they need the rules and regulatio regulations and the laws. they need the cooperation of the government. they also need the cooperation of their employers. working together by making it very clear what the obligation of the employer is and how best to understand the plethora of federal, local, state and local regulations, to make it transparent and easily understandable. that's the best way to protect workers. and that was a philosophy in compliance that we followed.
>> you know, i think another area that comes into that immediately, too, all of our appropriate discussions on infrastructure, and, you know, in kentucky, in missouri, really transportation is our greatest advantage. the rivers come together. the highways come together. the rail systems come together. and obviously not as dependent on geography, but air as well, but i think it's really important that we now be thinking of intermodally how all of those things work, and i believe ten years from now, we'll look back at this moment where world food demand is going to double in three or four decades and such great economic opportunities and either think it was a good thing we got started right now looking at that intermodal opportunity or why didn't we do that? i'm wondering what your thoughts are as to the inland port
structure, the rail structure, the highway structure, how those things along with air come together. >> intermodalism is a concept that's been discussed since the 1970s, and as we progress since then, we've improved in many aspects, but not nearly enough. we still have sectors of the economy, different modes of transportation, viewing each other as competitors, whereas we should all be working together in an integrated, intermodal system and so as we consider the infrastructure of the future, we need to focus more on how different modes of transportation can be a seamless partner deliverer of service together to provide a more efficient and productive transportation system for the benefit of the consumer and the shippers a of life for our country. >> i think that competitive model where we're all trying to figure out how we compete as a country, by making this all work
more effectively, is a much more realistic model than trucking people worried about the -- barge people worried about the rails. how do you use this whole system in a way that makes us as competitive as we need to be and can be? one last thought on streamlining, which you've mentioned, you know, in both the last highway bill and the railroad bill, we created some opportunities where you're working an existing space for the more fast-tracked process that lets you go ahead and improve that rail spur, that rail line, that bridge that's already standing there. just a few minutes on your thoughts on streamlining that regulatory process to get things done. >> if i'm confirmed, i think one of the few -- one of the major things that i'll be looking at is the issue that you discussed
and also the intermodal compatibility and interaction that can occur. we are seeing more cooperation between the different modes of transportation, but, again, more needs to be done. part of it is the lack of federal resources, overall resources, to improve our infrastructure, but all of that is connected to the question that you've raised and, again, if confirmed, that would be an issue that we would be having with this committee and the congress and how to improve the situation. >> thank you, secretary. thank you, chairman. >> thank you, senator blunt. senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and congratulations on your nomination and we're excited to work with you going forward. i'm not going to impose an exact question about infrastructure except to say how important it is in our state. we're the state that had the 35-w bridge collapse in the middle of that summer day. it got rebuilt with good bipartisan work in a year.
it was my first few years in the senate. i'll never forget that and i've been devoted to this issue of infrastructure ever since. i've joined with senator warner and blunt on their proposal for financing authority and as senator cantwell pointed out, there's a lot of ideas out there and i was heartened by the fact that the president-elect listed this as the number one issue on election night which all of america saw. so i'm hoping that we can come together on something that makes sense to up our infrastructure in our country which would include broadband and a number of members here are members of the broadband caucus, one of the co-chairs, you and i discussed that. i thought i'd get to some specific questions. first some air questions. both democratic and republican administrations have pursued and expanded open sky agreement to provide u.s. consumers, carriers and airports with more choice, access to new destinations.
i'm concerned recent actions by norwegian air international and some countries like the uae and qatar are undermining open sky agreements hurting american workers because of the way they're financing their airlines. could you work with me on this to make sure that our american airline workers aren't harmed by unfair competition from abroad? competition is great, but not when it's not an even playing field. >> thank you for offering that. i look forward to working with you on this important issue if confirmed. >> thank you very much. the first item on the ntsb's list of most wanted safety improvements for 2016 was reducing fatigue-related crashes. we have all seen a number of horrific crashes in the last few years including colgan flight 3407. we have worked really hard on this issue for passenger
flights. senator boxer, who is no longer with our committee, as she retired, and i worked on a bill with captain sully sullenberger from the miracle on the hudson involving cargo flights and having some rules in place that make sure that their pilots are flying safe. sec tear chao, do you share my -- working on this cargo issue and continuing to have this as a priority? >> i look forward to working with you on all these issues if i'm confirmed. >> we talked about the general aviation, in duluth, we make small jets, an expanding industry with a lot of exports nationally and senator murkowski and i passed a bill, we finally got the rules done to speed up the approval process for their safety additions and i'm hoping you'll continue to help us with the important manufacturing industry to america. >> if confirmed, i look forward to working with you on that.
>> okay. so now we go to snowmobiles, how to end good here. the recreational trail program is extremely important. it funds off-highway vehicle, snowmobiles. it's one of these uses where we've actually had the cross-country skiers and the bicyclists working with the mot motorized vehicles. it derives its funding from gas taxes paid by off-highway vehicle users. when they fill up their machines. and i hope you will work with us going forward on that issue as well. it's maybe not the first thing you thought of when you got up this morning, but that's been a very positive program for recreational use. >> look forward to working with you on it. thank you. >> okay. last, just thoughts on rail safety. we have got a lot of issues in our state, you and i talked about the fact we are at this hub where the oil is coming in from north dakota and some from canada, and we're glad that we've had more production in our
country, but that combined with the biofuels, we've had a number of derailments. i look at senator baldwin in wisconsin as well and just your thoughts on that. rail safety. >> rail safety is number one. there's no question about that. and so safety will continue to be the number-one priority and responsibility of the department of transportation and if confirmed, i look forward to working with you, both of your -- we talked about this during our courtesy visits and with all members of the committee and the congress on this very important priority. >> okay. thank you. >> thank you. >> i will put some questions on the record on distracted driving. i've been leading those efforts and we've had some success. it's a very hard issue, but overall nationally, a 7% increase in traffic fatalities from 2014 to 2015. secretary lahood, actually, this was one of his top priorities when he was in, and i hope that we can reinvigorate those efforts and make this a top
priority. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. senator fischer. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, madam secretary. it is a pleasure to see you today and i want to add my congratulations on your nomination. i appreciated you coming in for a private meeting that we had in our office and i thought we covered a variety of issues and i just want to touch on a few of those today with you. of course, on everybody's mind is the highway trust fund. when you hear the president-elect speak about infrastructu infrastructure, putting money into infrastructure, part of that i would assume would go to the highway trust fund. we are looking at a shortfall of $107 billion over the next 5 years following the expiration of the f.a.s.t. act. what are your thoughts on
addressing that long-term solvency of the federal highway trust fund? >> the highway trust fund is in bad shape. because of a declining miles -- because of the increased miles per gallon that cars normally get, the gas tax, which is 90% of the funding of the highway trust fund, is no longer -- is not as lucrative as it used to be, and the fund annually spends $47 billion, takes in $37 billion. there's a $10 billion deficit every year. we can't make that up on volume. so this is a huge issue. and the pay fors for any infrastructure proposal are all challenging and all have their particular champions and also detractors. so once again, if confirmed, i look forward to working with this committee and also the
congress on this number-one priority among the top priorities of this president-elect. >> thank you. this -- >> and it will go bankrupt by 2021 if we don't do something, so we all know this. >> yes. this is an issue i worked on in my state as a state senator. we were successful in thinking outside the box on some policy issues and in a couple weeks we'll be putting forward a proposal here to start that conversation on how we're going to be funding our highways. another thing that identify worked on in this committee, secretary chao, is addressing and reduce the growing number of those unnecessary regulations that we face and during the last congress, the subcommittee on surface transportation that i chaired held nearly 20 hearings and events on how best that we can keep goods moving across this country and do so safely. so i was pleased to be able to
have language in the f.a.s.t. act to reform the federal motor carrier safety administration's regulatory process by making it more transparent and responsive and open to input from our stakeholders. i would ask you, what do you think is the best way that we can keep passengers and freight moving across our system and how do you plan to approach looking at regulations that many consider to be a burden on how we are moving goods and people across this country? >> you and i had a long conversation during our courtcoy meeting which i'm very grateful that you granted. many of the transportation issues in your state. and it was very clear from your career in the past as part of the state legislature, that you are quite an expert on all of these transportation issues, yourself. so it was a real benefit for me
to learn from you and hear your points and also see your passion for protecting interest of your state. what was the question? i'm so sorry. >> how are we going to -- >> oh, regulations. sorry. so on the regulations, i think the great challenge for all regulators is to balance the ultimate goal, obviously, of safety, but also to make sure that the regulations that are enacted are based on sound science, on true data, and that the underlying analysis is solid. that is the best way that we protect consumers and passengers. >> right. i agree with you on that. another point, we're looking at shortages with regards to commercial truck drivers, with airline pilots, and that has a direct impact not just on our transportation system, but on our country as a whole when we're not able to move people, when we're not able to move and
seek products and see commerce grow, so i look forward to working with you on that as well. my time is up, but i thank you for being open to all of the issues that your portfolio is going to encompass when you take over the department as the new secretary. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator fischer. senator moran. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. elaine, welcome to the committee. robin joins me in offering our congratulations to you on this nomination. >> thank you. >> while i've always been an admirer of your able, it's your nieces that i'm most admiring this morning. they're well behaved. apparently you're seemingly attentive to what's being said here and it's perhaps the only people in the audience seems to be interested in what members of the united states senate are saying. i appreciate the suggestion that
what we're saying is of interest to them. i would commend your sister and her husband for raising apparently good daughters, so congratulations to your family as well. >> thank you. >> senator nelson raised the traffic of privatization of air traffic control. one of the justifications that's been used, and i'm very concerned with that privatization, so i join senator nelson in that regard but one of the justifications that proponents of the privatization have utilized is the failure of the faa to, in a timely manner, implement nextgen, bring the latest technologies and safety to our air traffic control system. the knock is by the time the department of transportation completes its work on nextgen, its technologies will already be outdated. so my question is, maybe you can help us eliminate one of the reasons that people advocate for
privatization by telling us how we could have faster, quicker, more efficient implementation of technologies designed to improve our air traffic control system and the safety that it provides. >> when i was deputy secretary in president george h.w. bush's administration, modernization of the air traffic control was a huge issue then. a lot has changed. a lot has been done. more needs to be done. obviously, as times change and the lag in the ability of the organization to keep up with the modernization that is required. this is a huge issue. i'm very much aware of those who are for it, those who are against privatization. i know that you, with your state of many general aviation interests, have not been a proponent. we need to have a national
discussion about this and so i look forward to working with the congress, especially with the faa reauthorization bill coming up on september 30th of this year, on addressing many of these very important aviation issues if i'm confirmed. >> well, miss chao, i appreciate that and certainly interested in working on the privatization issue. i just would reiterate my belief that one of the ways we can diminish the demand for a different air traffic control system is to get the technology in place necessary for the latest updated, advanced air traffic control system even its current government structure. you're right, wichita, kansas, is the air capital of the world. we manufacture more general aviation aircraft than any place in the country and that would give me the opportunity to highlight the importance of something that's developing today and that involves the certification process. the method by which we get new
aircraft, new to market. and getting that done in a timely fashion enables wichita, kansas, and our manufacturers, but the aerospace and aviation industry in our country to compete in a global market. reforms that encourage the full use of organization designation authority, odas, is important to us. meaning that it is moving in a direction of self-certification. the faa has been helpful in recent times in accomplishing that and i would bring that issue to your attention. it's -- the faa and industry are moving toward a risk-based safety oversight approach and i would encourage you to encourage the faa to continue that process so that we can get the latest technologies in our manufacturing sector utilized. new products in the market and
better able to compete in the global economy. any reaction -- >> i would certainly hope to do that. thank you. >> i appreciate that. i would only mention because as was indicated earlier by one of my colleagues as the clock had already turned to red that his time was fleeting, my time is fleeting and i would be interested in visiting you because of the subcommittee i chaired in this committee in the past dealing with the vehicle-to-vehicle technology, and we have jurisdiction over ni nishta, and we look forward to hearing your views how we can itch let safety in the latest technology. there seems to be a theme, technology provides great advantages and we want to work with you to see that it is ready available to the industry and consumer. >> i look forward to working with you if confirmed. >> thank you, ma'am. >> following up on that point,
the reason there's been so much discussion about faa and reform is because the promised benefits of nextgen have not been realized. >> i understand. >> you've indicated an open mind about how to proceed. i have on open mind, too, but it's going to require that we work together and it's certainly important that travelers, taxpayers, people in the aviation stakeholder community, realize the benefits of this and make sure they're getting a good return on the billions that have already been spent. >> and mr. chairman, let me just chime in on that issue. what we're doing with nextgen is we're basically going to have air traffic control off of satellites instead of radars. and as a result, you can vector an aircraft much more efficiently to its designated airport. at the same time, aircraft can
be aware of each other so that you've got realtime awareness in air traffic control in the cockpit. the technology is there. we just need to implement it. and those contracts are being vigorously performed in the faa. i just wanted to add that, mr. chair. >> senator nelson. senator blumenthal. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. welcome, miss chao, and thank you for your past service. i look forward to working with you and i might just say although senator mcconnell has left, he and i have something in common which is we both married above ourselves. and my wife, cynthia, is a friend and admirer of yours and welcome to our committee. i look forward to -- >> thank you.
>> -- working with you on issues that concern investment and infrastructure. you and i have talked a little bit about the need to modernize and upgrade our deteriorating railroads and bridges. we see this issue particularly in connecticut on our roads and bridges but also the safety and reliability and speed of our rail systems which needs to be significantly improved. and that requires real investment, public resources, not just tax credit. and you and i have talked about the need for a public/private partnership. i hope that we can work together to make that happen and build a bipartisan consensus in favor of it as i think is very possible. i also think that safety in our other kinds of transportation is very important.
as you well know, a lot of the recommendations made by the agencies that will be under your jury diction very simply have not been itch letted according to the latest numbers from the national transportation safety board. there are hundreds of open safety recommendations, 305 at the federal aviation administration. 61 at the federal railway administration. 91 at nhtsa. these recommendations are essentially, potentially life saving for people who are affected by them. and the agencies have failed to fulfill recommendations and so my first question to you is, what can -- what are your plans to close those recommendations, make sure that they are implemented? >> as mentioned, safety is a top priority of the department. if confirmed, one of my first tasks will be to get briefed on
all of these outstanding issues and i look forward to working with you and your committee and the commitment on all of this. >> i know there's a tendency sometimes to it dismissive about these kinds of recommendations. i hope that you will make them a priority. >> if confirmed, i will look at them very seriously. >> and make sure that they are implemented because i know you're a doer and these recommendations need doing. let me turn to one of the areas where technology is tremendously important. you mentioned technology in your opening statement. positive train control. not a new technology. been around for many years. the deadline for implementing it was 2015 which then was extended to 2018. over opposition from a number of us, including myself. and, again, you and i have talked a little bit about it. would you plan to make sure that
that deadline is fulfilled and that, in fact, positive train control, which is a life-saving technology, is implemented by 2018? >> if confirmed, i hope to get briefed on this and if there's a deadline, as you mentioned, of that particular date, i would look at it very seriously and, again, i want to get an up to date briefs on what's going on on that and i promised you have would do that. >> you have promised. >> yes. >> i hope the promise, again, is not just to be briefed but also to take action because we've seen in the northeast the consequences of the failure to it implement it in a number of the rail catastrophes that happened. in pennsylvania and others where these disasters could have been stopped with positive train control. one last question relating to
the plan recently issued by the federal railway administration which would, in fact, reroute some of the rail going through connecticut and bypasses through areas like oldlime where they would have disastrous effects on the environment, culture and historic landmarks, quality of life. i would ask your commitment that you will review this plan and change it in response to the overwhelming outcry from people in connecticut that the recently implemented fra plan simply is unworkable and it is also unaffordable. >> you and i have spoken about this before during our courtesy visit, and i will certainly review this very carefully if confirmed. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator
blumenthal. senator schatz and senator sullivan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, secretary chao, and thank you to your family for their commitment to public service and commitment to you. this morning was historic, it's the first time i've seen leader mcconnell hug anyone, so -- >> i'm glad it was me. >> so, secretary chao, we have a serious safety crisis on our roads. more than 35,000 people died in crashes in 2015. as senator klobuchar mentioned, that's a 7% increase over the previous year and the largest increase in 50 years. the early estimates show that that number will surpass 40,000. these aren't just car-on-car accidents but those who walk along the road. seniors are 50% more likely than
other pedestrians to be struck and killed by a car. and this problem is particularly bad in the state of hawaii where we have the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities among our elderly in the country. these deaths are preventable. they're preventable through the itch l itch l implementation of best practices. we worked with the current secretary of transportation to try to get metropolitan planning organizations, departments of transportation services and state departments of transportation to implement safe streets. do we have your commitment to work on pedestrian safety and the implementation of a safe streets agenda? >> we've talked about this as well. i look forward to working with you on that. if confirmed. >> thank you, secretary. following up on senator wicker's question regarding the jones act, it is a bipartisan
consensus, as you know, it's the foundation of the domestic u.s. flag maritime industry, and it is also essential to our national security. u.s. flag vessels, american merchant marines support our war fighters, transporting medical supplies, food and other cargo to troops in combat. the military's confidence in a fleet of u.s. flag ships to move cargo to troops deployed in places like iraq, afghanistan, allow the navy to save limited cargo space for weapons, fuel and other essential goods and that's why every secretary of defense, every secretary of the navy, for generations has supported the jones act. and with the usual caveats, but understanding that you have a unique role as the former administrator, former deputy of transportation, and the former secretary of labor, and your private-sector experience in the shipping context, can you talk about the importance of the jones act from both a national
security standpoint and from an economic security standpoint? >> the jones act is a very important program that secures national security. we have seen two wars now in the last 25 years. i'm of an age where i have seen two wars in pivotal areas of the world. if we did not have the merchant marine assets to assist these campaigns, military and naval campaigns, our country would not have been able to supply our troops, bring the necessary equipment, all of that is not done on the gray bottoms, but rather merchant marine bottoms. this is an area i'm very familiar with. i have great interest in as
well. and the national security of the merchant marine fleet of this country is part of the way that we are able to be effective overseas and protect this country. so i am a great proponent of the u.s. flag merchant marine fleet. >> thank you very much. and my final question is just following up on our conversation during our courtesy visit, hawaii is the most isolated, populated place on the planet and so our unique geography and topography, the fact we're an island state, means our maritime needs, our aviation picture, our broadband infrastructure needs, and our surface transportation needs, are different and not dissimilar to senator sullivan's unique situation representing the state of alaska. we'd just ask for your continued
understanding both as we're crafting statutes, but also as you make rules and also as you interpret existing rules and statutes and even procedures to understand that every place says they are digfferent and that is only true in hawaii and alaska. >> we've talked about this and i appreciated your sharing with me the concerns of your state. >> thank you very much. >> i look forward to working with you. >> thank you, senator schatz. senator sullivan. >> thank you, mr. chairman and madam secretary, congratulations. i certainly agree with the chairman that you are an ideal candidate for this position. my wife, julie, sends her congratulations as well. and i want to begin by thanking you for your exceptional service to our nation. when you look at your background, it's just remarkable what you've done for this country. and i also just want to mention that you and your family, including your nieces, are a great example for all americans, and i hope a lot of people are
watching to hear the story of your family. it's very powerful. i appreciate your focus on modernizing the transportation system, but i really want to emphasize that it's going to be very difficult to do that without modernizing the federal permitting system and you and i have had the opportunity to discuss some of these challenges, but just last year in a hearing in this committee, we had the head of the seattle airport, seatac airport, when he talked about it took four years to build the new runway at seatac but 15 years, 15 years, to get the federal permits to start building. there's stories all across the country that i know you're familiar with. in alaska, we've had many nightmare scenarios. took 20 years almost to permit a gold mine in my state. and, you know, our country used to be the envy of the world in terms of building infrastructure
projects responsibly, on time. the 1,500 mile alaska/canada highway was built in under a year. and now in america, it takes on average six years to get a permit for a bridge. so if we're looking at infrastructure, major infrastructure initiative, which i support, if we're not also undertaking major federal permitting, i think that we're not going to be successful in our infrastructure initiative. do you see this as a major problem and will you work with us both from your regulatory authority standpoint and legislation that we would undertake here and on the epw committee to try to address this? >> yes, i would. senator, you wrote a very, very good article in the "wall street journal" about this particular issue and what we hear from many
investors and outside interest, various stakeholders, is the duplicative and bureaucratic permitting that sometimes may occur, we want to make sure that the regulatory process works but that also means getting rid of some of the redundancies and some of the unnecessary burdens. so you've certainly been a leader on that and i look forward to working with you. >> well, we look forward to working with you as well. i would note that both the epw committee, former chairman inhofe and chairman thune were all very committed to that. one other area, and we want to work with you, and in that "wall street journal" op-ped you mentioned, i appreciate you commenting on that, but we're working on a major permitting reform bill called the rebuilding america now act and certainly look forward to working with you and the rest of the trump administration on those kind of permitting reforms. one other area i just wanted to mention, we have all these
opportunities with regard to energy in this country. we're once again the world's energy superpower and yet the obama administration has clearly politicized and delayed the permitting of pipelines. the keystone xl pipeline took eight years until the president finally pulled the plug on that. the irony is pipelines are much more safe than delivering by rail. so can we get your commitment to help us streamline the permitting of pipelines and to depoliticize what has become a very politicized permitting process with the current administration on that important area of permitting? >> i look forward to working with you on this issue as we've discussed, if i get confirmed. >> thank you. finally, i will turn a little bit, as senator schatz had mentioned, to talk about alaska and some of the rural areas. we're a very research rich but infrastructure poor state. at almost 6 00,000 square miles
of land, alaska is more than 2 1/2 times the size of texas. we like to say in alaska if you split alaska in two, texas would be the third largest state in the country. we have 10,400 miles of paved roads compared to texas which has 313,000. alaska is 118 times the size of connecticut but we have less than half the roads connecticut has. so if confirmed will you commit to come to alaska with me to meet with my constituents to help us address the unique challenges and opportunities with regard to infrastructure, roads, bridges, pipelines, in alaska that are not only important to my constituents but really important to the nation? >> i'd be delighted to. in our courtesy meeting,
senator, you mentioned how important your office is in terms of convening important stakeholders to address these issues and i'll be more than glad to help convene and also to help, to participate in those as well. >> great. thank you. thank you, again, for your great service to our country. >> thank you, senator sullivan. and newly minted chairman of the ocean subcommittee. so we're all for more roads in alaska. next up is senator peters followed by senator inhofe. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary chao, it's great to you here and i'll concur with my colleagues that it's a privilege to have you testifying before us today and also appreciate your story and your family's story. it's a true american story and shows the power of immigration and how immigration has brought many wonderful people to our shores to pursue their version of the american dream. so thank you for being an embodiment of that. >> thank you. >> i also want to thank you for
the time in which you spent with me in my office talking about a variety of issues and i think it was fairly clear at the end of the meeting, you know that i'm focused primarily on automobiles. being from michigan and some of the incredible things that are going to be happening when it comes to autonomous vehicles or as i refer to them as self-driving vehicles. autonomous sounds a little sinister. it sounds like you get the car, it takes you where you want to go. you'll tell it where it's going to go, it's going to drive for you. incredible benefits when it comes to things such as safety. we heard from senator schatz and others. i was at the detroit auto show before coming here. the focus of that is mobility. nhtsa believes we can eliminate nearly all auto crash, 80% of auto crashes could be eliminated saving tens of thousands of lives. this is transformational technology with the first car to come of the assembly line, it's that big. as we talked about it, there's also an area where there's intense competition in who gets there first with this technology from an international
perspective. we'll have a significant competitive advantage. we know the asians are moving on this very aggressively. we know the europeans are moving very aggressively. we also know our american auto companies are doing a phenomenal job. ford motor company announced they will have a production of vehicles by 2021, a mass-production vehicle of a self-driving vehicle available. that's rushly five years. we may see that accelerated. i want to touch on a couple issues. we know speed is critical. we have tough competition as i mentioned. w one aspect we talked about is test facilities to test these technologies. we're in a competition with a number of sites around the country. there may be multiple ones that are selected as early as next week to do this kind of testing. i would hope you will be fully engaged after those facilities are selected toways we can work with the federal government to help industries use those facilities to test vehicles and
get your thoughts on that. >> i would certainly want to do that. >> i appreciate that. the other aspect is federal policy. you know, these technologies are going at an exponential rate. federal policy tends to move much slower than that. you have some specific ideas as to how we speed that process up, but understanding, as you have said over and over again, safety is pash mouramount. the public will already be a little bit concerned about a self-driving vehicle so any kind of accidents that occur will have a tremendous public blowback. we can't have that. the industry doesn't want it. we certainly can't do that. on the same token, we need to be able to allow innovation to go and test vehicles not just on test tracks but getting them out on the road. any thoughts as to what you'd be open to see on that? >> i'm very open to working with you on it. we've talked about it. you're obviously a tremendous proponent for your state and for the manufacturers that are in your state. i thought it was very interesting with senator heller here as well that you talked about testing grounds and how
sometimes snow and cold weather are actually advantages in testing grounds. what we are seeing is obviously technology outstripping the consumer ability to accept and understand some of the technology. so i think it behooves all of us, as a country, as a society, to bring greater familiarity and greater comfort for those who are passengers and other stakeholders who will be eventual users of this technology, to understand what the benefits, the limitations and also what it means going forward in the future. so it requires a national discussion and i look forward to doing that with you. >> well, i will look forward to that as well. one final question, another important issue for me, back in 2005, following hurricane katrina, president bush and the department of labor, which was under your leadership at that
time, suspended davis bacant provisions on federal contracts in the gulf coast. this action was very concerning to me as i know many others because even a temporary suspension of it will drastically reduce wages to american workers who are tasked to rebuild their community. now, i know president-elect trump has stated that his administration will follow a mantra of buy america, hire america, and we hope that part of that mantra also means that there are fair wages paid to those americans who are doing that work. and that's why just a final question, can you commit now to us to the application of davis bacen for all department of transportation contracts issued under your leadership? >> well, the davis bacen is kus currently the law. unless congress changes that, it is the law. >> the suspension we saw in the past -- >> the suspension in katrina was very, very extraordinary. >> right. >> it was extraordinary
circumstances in which we needed to get rebuilding going at a very fast rate to enable obviously very distressed communities to come back to life. >> so you support the basic foundation of the davis bacen as well and that's something you'll continue to support as secretary? >> as i mentioned davis bacen is the law and will be the law unless the congress changes it. >> right. thank you. i appreciate that. >> thank you, senator peters. senator inhofe then senator baldw baldwin. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i say to you eand the ranking member that i'm just delighted to be on this committee and i'm looking forward to it. you know, i think -- keep thinking, last night i was with you and your family, your daddy, how much -- how popular, how excited your daddy is right now thinking about the things that are -- >> thank you. >> -- going on that he is responsible for you and your
performing and your kucute litt nieces i've really enjoyed -- >> yes, miranda and jessica. >> i say that. as you know, i got 20 kids and grandkids. you got more work to do. that's all right. let me share a couple things with you that perhaps even you didn't know -- i think you probably did know this. i think a lot of the members of this committee did not know this, that i've been on a committee that is like this, the environment public works has a lot of jurisdiction here also in transportation, for 21 years. prior to that, eight years on the tni committee in the house of representatives. so i've been around this thing for a long time. our biggest problem used to be when i was in the house that we had too much surplus in the highway trust fund. >> not anymore. >> yep. and you outlined in your opening statement why that changed, but that was actually a fact. in fact, i remember when bill clinton was first president of the united states, he was
looking for some money to rob out of some other accounts and he took -- he took $16 billion out of the highway trust fund. so those days are behind us and we can't go back to them, but nonetheless, it's kind of fun to review -- review the history. let me share something else and i'm going to ask unanimous consent that two articles be made a part of the record this morning. mr. chairman. >> without objection. >> these articles are articles that were very complimentary to you when you had your previous secretary position of labor. and they talk about how you got on the job -- i wouldn't bring this up except it's in writing here and on virtually the first day you got everybody in there and said, these are our problems, these are going to be our solutions, we're going to stay on top of them and you never slowed down from the very beginning. >> tauhank you so much. >> and i would hope and ask you
do the same thing in this job and i do happen to know because they contacted us that in the audience here, we have people who were strong supporters of you and worked for you during those years. they're all going and doing grand things now, but they still have that allegiance and that love for you. in fact, i have to say this, in the years that i've been here, that's 30 years now, i've never seen anyone come into -- get the nomination for a position that people loved more than you. there's got to be a reason for that. all right. let me -- a couple of specific things i do want to get in. and one is we've been talking about the big issue, the privatization in all this and -- i think i might be the only active commercial pilot on this committee, and so i deal with this and controllers, i know that there's other options out there as has been pointed out by
the ranking member. but they've done a great job and we need to make sure that we do this thing right. i see as a problem, just an observation to any, my communications normally with the general aviation community, because i've been involved in it for so many years, but it seems to me that there's not a lot of communication going back and forth and i would just suggest judging from your past performance that one of the first things you might do is get them all in one room and talk about it. it's surprising how sheltered people are in their own opinions. just a thought. what do you think about that? >> thank you very much for making that suggestion. and obviously if confirmed, the convening power of the secretary of transportation is immense and that certainly could be put to good use in convening these various stakeholders and talk
about an important issue like this. >> yeah. one of the things that has not been mentioned so far, a lot has been mentioned during this, is the use of drones and how significant that is now. it started out, in my experience with them, in the housed armed services committee then the senate armed services committee and, of course, we had some provisions put in the faa bill to facilitate the use of drones, areas like pipelines and other areas. and i know this is going to be one that is going to be of interest to you. one of the inhibiting factors in drones is all the overregulations that are there. do you, number one, agree with that, and do you have plans to attack these regulations pretty quick in your service? >> you know, the drones started out as you mentioned with the department of defense. it's an emerging technology. there are those who see the benefits of commercializing them
for various uses. it's transforming the way we work, the way we do commerce. there are also others who are very concerned about privacy issues, security issues, and, again, going forward with an emerging technology as important as this with such vast implications for our future, i think we need to talk about it. we need to have, again, a national consensus on where we're going. >> okay. >> state-by-state patchwork is of concern and what does that mean for federal regulation. so i look forward to working with the committee and also with the congress on these issues. >> that's great. my time is expired. so for the record, if you would address something that hasn't been addressed and that is the energy infrastructure which is -- hasn't really been given the attention that it should and perhaps you can give me your ideas -- give us your ideas -- for the record. >> i will be glad to do so. >> thank you, senator inhofe, and welcome to the committee. senator baldwin is up next
followed by senator -- if nobody else shows up, capito. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to thank the chairman and ranking member for a warm welcome to the committee. i'm delighted, secretary chao, my first commerce committee hearing is your confirmation hearing. welcome. >> thank you. >> thank you, again, for our visit last week. it was helpful to start the conversation and i actually want to start by asking you to speak a little bit more on a topic that we discussed when we visited which is the buy america rule. simply put, i firmly believe that american workers should build our infrastructure with american products and that taxpayers' money should not be spent on chinese or russian steel and iron. so here in the senate, i have spent some time working on
including a buy america provision in our recently passed water infrastructure bill that was signed into law just a few weeks ago. and despite broad bipartisan support in the senate, speaker ryan and the congressional republicans pulled my buy america provision from the water infrastructure bill, as we discussed. now, their position against buy america is at stark odds with the president-elect who has repeated his pledge that there will be two rules for rebuilding america's infrastructure. buy american and hire american. so if implementing the
president-elect's plan. you have previously been critical of buy america rules. in 2009, you wrote an op-ped describing buy america as, "dig a mote around america policy." this is a heritage foundation op-ped. and to further quote you, you said "buy america squanders america's credibility on international trade." so i want to tease out how this conflict might be resolved and my question is, if confirmed as secretary of transportation, will you stand with the president-elect and support buy america? >> the president has made very clear his position on this and it is his policy and, of course, all cabinet members will follow his policy. >> okay. well, that's a welcome change and welcome news to me from your past writing on this topic and i
look forward to working with you on buy america language as we move forward. i do want to note that buy america provisions have been written into the authorizing language of several department of transportation grant programs. every single statute, hour, allows the secretary of transportation wide latitude to waive the buy america requirement if, quote, it would be inconsistent with the public interest. given your past views on buy america restrictions, i guess i'd like to hear more about how you would intend to use that authority to waive buy america restrictions. how you would evaluate what is in the public interest and under
what -- my specific question is under what conditions would you seek granting these waivers or will you grant them sparingly or frequently? >> i think it is premature at this point for me to comment on any of this until i get fully briefed. i have mentioned that buy america is the president's priority. when you drill down to some of the details that you talked about, thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. i am not fully confident about that. so if confirmed, i look forward t to getting grieved on all those issues. >> i look forward to working with you in that -- >> yes, of course. >> -- implementation rule. the president-elect pledged to rebuild our nation's crumbling information with a trillion-dollar investment in transportation, clean water, telecommunications and other pressing needs and i welcome that discussion, especially if it includes real investments and
not just tax credits. when we met last week, i mentioned my support for reliable broadband infrastructure to ensure access to quality and affordable internet in rural communities and we have many of those in wisconsin. additionally, it's well-do well-documented that water infrastructure across the country is in need of repair and upgrade, not only to avoid the failure and tragedy we experienced in flint, michigan, but to also meet the growing needs for delivering clean water to families and businesses. we talked about the water council located in milwaukee, wisconsin, that is working to find solutions to the nation's most difficult and pressing water problems and i've introduced reforms that encourage the development and deployment of innovative water technology and i believe these reforms have a place in any bold
infrastructure investment. so my colleagues and i are eager to learn more about the scope of the infrastructure package that you will help shape, but my final question is if confirmed, will you work with me on an infrastructure package that includes real funding to address both the infrastructure challenges and support innovation exemplified by what is occurring in my home state of wisconsin? >> i will be more than glad to. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator baldwin. senator duckworth has returned so you're up next followed by senator capito. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me say how pleased i am to join you on this committee. i'm looking forward to working with you on transportation infrastructure and other issues that are critical to the midwest and illinois in particular. secretary chao, first let me thank withdryou for the time yo with me in my office earlier
this week. commitment to maintaining an open line of communication with me is matched by my commitment to be helpful to you where my interest and those of my state are aligned. the question i have for you has to do with this new rule from the department of transportation on the metropolitan planning organization consolidation rule. as we discussed in my office, i'm deeply concerned that this recent d.o.t. rule, in fact, it was passed december 20th at a time when you sort of push through rules that are problematic, but, and may have some opposition. but it was pushed through and it threatens to disrupt important transportation projects in illinois and throughout all of the midwest. i appreciate that the intended initiative may have been to encourage better results through regional cooperation, but, in fact, impact of the new mandate will have unintended consequences for some localities and would be absolutely disastrous for illinois and mar.
in addition it would require the metro agency for planning to merge with a similar agency in wisconsin, indiana and it would require the governors that the -- any federal transportation funding in chicago be approved by the governors of indiana and wisconsin. the application will slow down the important delivery transportation projects and give other states huge leverage. it is true for decisions that are made in wisconsin or indiana or our neighboring states. will you work with me to either reverse this rule or at the very least make sure it works for everyone including illinois and other metro areas especially those near state borders.
>> thank you so much for that meeting in your office and thank you for bringing this to my attention. as i mentioned, if confirmed i will be very eager to look into this particular issue because the way you have characterized it i would understand more so i look forward to also working with you as we go forward. >> thank you. thank you. the department of transportation is an important small business set aside for minority and women owned business enter prizes. this serves as a guide for state departments of transportation, small business programs and in fact many of our states department of transportation are lined with whatever the federal d.o.t. policies are.
it may not have as good an opportunity to bring those contracts into the local economy, to bring jobs into the local entrepreneurs and local women owned businesses if the program is not emphasized. small businesses will be included in the initiative. >> when i was secretary of labor i was the only secretary to have gender parity in the executive
>> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. i would like to thank you for allowing me to join the committee and i want to thank the ranking members while i look forward to serving on this committee. i am pleased to see my husband sends you his best and congratulations as well particularly because of your past service and also from being from neighboring states. thank you for your visit last week. as you recalled in that visit you came and visited me and senator bird in west virginia so i would extend another invitation to talk about transportation issues. >> thank you. i look forward to it.
i think you and i talked about the significance and the chairman talked about this, attending in terms of transportation needs. the financing part of an infrastructure package has been mentioned many times in terms of private investment. as a person who represents almost all rural states i'm concerned about how are we going to be able to send the private dollars to go to the less populated areas of our country.
>> rural america needs to be more connected and also to different ways. as we look at the national infrastructure proposal one of the great challenges are how are we going to pay for all of these great ideas which are so necessary to keep our country maintained the competitiveness of our country. how can we find projects that can be short in duration and funded as well. thank you for asking. >> thank you. we used successfully the public
private partnerships to complete like u.s. route 35. they come from washington d.c. many people who live around the washington d.c. area wonder how we could need one more road because they are all named in r interstate but we still have a great need here. a lot of states are having trouble meeting their match muchless so i look forward to working with you and the department to try to find those answers. and if you're creating a new highway you're running a high speed internet at the same time.
i would encourage you to see where you could help us with that and present the concept of not only speed but also being able to pinpoint certain areas that need that critical infrastructure as well. it is just as important. i look forward to working with you on that. >> something i worked on when i was on the house transportation committee and i was a congresswoman at the time to try to get invasion to try to work on prevention -- to prevent massive loss of life that people get behind the wheel when they
shouldn't. i would encourage you to keep moving forward. i think there's lots to be done and a lot of good ideas out there. >> i'm so pleased to be joining you on this committee because the committee's work is of course so focused on expanding economic opportunity and supporting innovative businesses and keeping our economy moving forward. it is great to be with you secretary chao. my husband enjoyed your conversation and sends his best wishes as well. it is obviously around making
sure our highways and our roads are modern and safe. as we talk about building that foundation i know when he visited in my office you have been thinking a great deal about the issues. i am very grateful not only for your past government service but also for the way it will inform your work going forward. i think it's a terrific thing to bring. >> thank you. one of the things we talked about is the importance of tiger grants. you'll recall it was a tiger grant to refurbish our
drawbridge over new hampshire's port. new hampshire does have a port. and so those competitive type of grants because they really help fund projects that aren't suited to the more broad categories to funding grants. the loan project has been critical to our plans to complete with lower interest rates and deferred payment schedules. so part of my question to you is just are you familiar with the programs and do you have a commitment to continue and support them? >> from all of my meetings with members of congress there seems to be one area of great agreement. that is the utility of the tiger
grants. i can't make a commitment at this point. i have been very impressed with how many members like it. we need to be seeking more innovative and a more varied options of funding. they have proven the specific amounts. it would be a budgetary issue if i'm confirmed. >> we also spoke on monday about the importance of commuter rail
we try today focus bringing from boston from manchester not only because it is businesses sported by all of our major chambers of commerce but because millennial workers don't want to own cars and do like to see access to public transportation. it would not only require a partnership between ma massachusetts and new hampshire, so are you committed to ensure the commuter rail project? >> it is very popular with passengers. my father came down on amtrak as did my sisters.
this is a wonderful opportunity and i look forward to this. >> and i see my time is almost up. i just wanted to add my thoughts on the driverless cars or automated automobiles now. as we think about that technology i hope we think about making it accessible to people who, for a variety of reasons, can't drive and as new technology comes on board it doesn't -- >> those are very good points. i appreciate you brings them up. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> welcome to the new members. some sitimes we get confused wi
people being here to testify. it is great to be here. thank you for your service to the country and your willingness to continue to serve this nation. a difficult job you have ahead of you. not only do you have to know and understand the acronyms. it is congested and it has to be addressed. thank you for the work that you're since 2010 we have tried to have 10% population growth and people moving into the state of colorado. an entirely different
congressional district seems to be moving to colorado. that is between pueblo, colorado the south and fort collins along the corridor. the growth has been a great economic opportunity for colorado but lots of challenges for infrastructure. it looks like it did in the 1960s and 1970s. i was able to help ensure that the department of transportation considers population growth it is to help meet their needs through programs or grant funding. >> so if the congress wishes to change the formula that is obviously a discussion the administration would have and i
look forward to working with you on that. >> thank you. it's one of those areas where a number of states in the west will have the same kinds of needs and considerations. they are working on handling heavy snow over the past several days. we have a vision referred to utilize smart transportation through the mountains. this is already helping us become a state for high-tech. we had the first fully autonomous shipment. it was a beer truck from fort collins to colorado springs. it is the first time ever in the country. tremendous step but we have to make sure there's more work done for safety to make sure we have no adoption of regulations that would prevent this new technology from thriving. how do you think the department of transportation should work with states and others in the
integration of technologies like those in colorado? >> always in collaboration. they must take into account the perspective. we look forward to working with you on all of these concerns. >> how do we make sure we have that certainty we need in order to ensure this technology thrives? >> i think regulations need to be based on sound science, on real data to ensure that the best regulations are put forward. >> and whether it's roads we talked about here but across all of the agencies within the department of transportation colorado felt a lot of impacts to give you a few. many of our communities on the front range that have grown around railroads have major concerns with train horn noise within the federal railroad
administration. a certification process delays where an airplane from frontier airlines is treated like an airplane that's a local crop duster. many can create uncertainty and increase the time it takes to increase the cost of that project. how can you help us -- help congress reduce the regulatory burdens? >> the issue of regulations is an overall larger issue as well. some think the regulations in the past few years have added to dampening the rate of growth and
that it decreased the competitiveness. it's to come to regulations that are truly based on real data, on sound science buzz thecause tha the best way. having said that there have been overly burdensome regulations that need to be reviewed, so that is part of a new administration coming in that all of these regulations.
>> thank you very much secretary. it's good to have you here and i'm grateful to you for being willing to visit with me in my office and i appreciate your willingness to be considered for the position. it is in a way that will allow them to be exercised at the state and local level. we accomplished great things. there have been some things that we have created out of an understanding that in order to facilitate the free transfer of goods and of services of people there are appropriate things for
the federal government to get involved in. it was an appropriate activity for federal government enter into. at the time it was created there was an understanding that once the interstate highway system is established it will be handed over to the states. we find ourselves some times running short in terms of the revenue we received. there are proposals that have as an idea that have as their central idea that perhaps we should reduce the federal gasoline tax and allow them to take over authority both in terms of spending that money and deciding where it ought to be
spent. i hope it would be something that you would be willing to consider and wouldn't dismiss. >> i am open to all ideas. i look forward to discussing your idea further with you. >> thank you. >> let's talk about super sonic air travel for a minute. there were a lot of assumptions that super sonic air travel would become another thing. certainly by the time we were in 2017 things like the concord would be more common and not with standing material that is are lighter weight that would otherwise allow for the design, the development of commercial aircraft that could travel at super sonic speeds. we don't see that today. part of this some argue has related to a ban on super sonic
travel, one that was put in place in the 1970s as a result of studies not with standing the fact that super sonic aircraft don't produce anymore noise at take off and landing than they do midair. the sonic boom was concerned underlying super sonic travel policies that have been in place since the 1970s. it can be taken care of just through the altitude at which a super sonic aircraft passes through the sound barrier. is it something that if you were confirmed you would be willing to take a look at? >> i am not very familiar with the topic that you mentioned. i look forward to getting a briefing on it. >> great. he discussed with you the important balance between safety and invasion there are a lot of
people in this country who earn their living driving cars or driving trucks and at the same time there are predictions that many will become obsolete it is at least some type of frame work in which these manufacturers and designers of these vehicles can operate. can you tell us how you work with state and local governments as well as industry and tech leaders to preserve the safety of our roads without inhibiting this type of important innovation? >> you bring up a very very important topic. the role of government is to
foster the right environment through which job creation can occur. i'm very concerned about the ability of our economy to create good paying jobs. i am very much in support to create the environment of which economic growth would occur. we are facing new emerging technologies which would bring about great dislocations. so how we as a society deal with that and not again stifle, damp l the creativity that is so much a hallmark of what america is all about, that's a balance. it's not an issue that can be decided by any one person, any one department discussion on all
of the pros and cons and concerns of the benefits and the concerns that these new technologies bring. >> thank you. >> thank you senator lee. >> thank you mr. chair it is true, all of the questions have been asked. i do want to first of all thank you for taking the time to meet with me. we will be going for the important needs in our state. one of the questions i have for you is involving an important
project. so las vegas are two of the largest in the country that are not connected by an interstate and in the last congress worked to include the future designations. now that the route is eligible for federal funds nevada and arizona will be looking for federal support to bring these existing roads up to interstate standards what role do you see to fund projects of regional significance such as interstate 11? >> you and i have talked about this a great deal it is obvious you care about this deeply. i said to you it would be a priori priority, that i would look at this and i would do so.
>>. >> one of the things we learned is the region of transportation in the state of nevada if you don't know they are looking to connect our airport it is as well as provide transportation for over 40 million annual visitors to the las vegas area. this project will need federal dollars. in our meeting you said that department secretaries have to make tough choices. when allocating that funding there's never enough. how do you evaluate where they will go? it has come to my attention when we are talking about allocating
the funding it is based on a formula that also includes population. it includes a population based on a census in 2000. as you know, nevada is one of the fastest growing kpunties. to me it is an outdated formula and i would like to know your thoughts in working with us and how we address that issue. >> it is very complicated. in recent years it has gotten a lot simpler. so it's totally within the preview of congress. >> like my colleagues, let me just say, like what i'm hearing from several of my colleagues,
it is an important issue and economic driver in developing new technology. sandoval announced dedicating specific resources from our state to a center for atonomous vehicles. i heard your commitment to working with us on this new technology. what i would like is your commitment and take a look at what's going on and you can see firsthand. would you commit to making a visit and take a look at what's happening there? >> i would be delighted to come to nevada. >> thank you. >> and we didn't get a chance to talk about disadvantaged business enter prizes are important to me. this was an important initiative that our director continues to
promote. i look forward to working with you on that as well. >> thank you. >> next up is senator young. >> thanks so much for your presence here today and for your willingness to serve. have adopted cross roads of america. we sell bratded that fact for roughly 80 years. the name stems from the fact that indiana is the intersection of four major interstate highways it involved expanding
administration. our state's governor really empower them to expand financing needs in particular. and so along those lines i know that the transportation plan is still in development through the administration. would you kindly elaborate on how you plan new financing opportunities like public private partnerships to help invest in 21st century infrastructure? >> there are times when public-private partnerships have not been welcomed. we need to do away with impediments. it is encouraged to enter when they see a bold vision. this president has a bold vision. we will be talking about it when the administration comes in after january 20th. it will be exciting to work on a
new infrastructure in america. >> public private partnerships embraced by some and not by others. for them to be truly effective i think there are revenue streams that need to be assured. whether groups on either side would agree is something we have to talk about. i look forward to working with the congress on these issues.
>> you have proven in your previous capacities you know how to identify bottlenecks and bring them to the public sector and so forth. you'll no doubt be involved in this activity and i suspect in short order i would just request that your department report back to this committee within six months, 180 days with opportunities to make d.o.t. more efficient in budget conscience. is that a commitment i can get here today? >> i can certainly give you a report in six months. >> thanks so much. >> thank you senator young and senator booker. >> it is such an honor to be sitting before you. thank you for your willingness to serve not once but twice in the administration. i have a great deal of respect
for you. i have some frustration with mcconnell. he has never taken me aside to tell me how to marry out of my league. i am a jersey boy. we have serious infrastructure challenges. the 107-year-old hudson river tunnel is a crisis for the entire northeast corridor. more people use those tunnels than the entire population of south dakota every day. that's not a knock, chairman, at all. but the reality is we need to replace these tunnels and unfortunately the urgency is greater because of super storm sandy. it is estimated if these tunnels would go down they would cost about $100 million in lost productivity every single day. given the importance to this
region of the country is one of the most productive on the planet earth. will you continue to prioritize investment and complete completion of the gateway program? >> i have not had a specific conversation about this. i do look forward to getting briefed. i would assume any project in new york/new jersey would be very important going into the future. >> the president-elect knows a little bit about commuting between new york and new jersey. he might take a helicopter. it will help this kind of financing. i want to see if it is something you believe in and is it something you think you could
support going forward giving not just the needs of my region but all around our country. >> we need to be looking at all of these options. once again, the tremendous resources that are required to build a first class and maintain a first class infrastructure. i look forward to working with you on it. >> i'm happy to here it has made clear putting together a package is a priority. others have argued such as steve bannon we need to rebuild roads,
bridges and rail system, ports and infrastructure assets. do you support a package that will include direct federal spending sm. >> i believe the answer is yes. >> great. thank you. can i shift really quick to air traffic control staffing? it is just a critical aspect. we need to make sure we continue to have well trained work force. it includes certified and experienced air traffic controllers and right now unfortunately we face a crisis when it comes to staffing of our nation's air traffic controllers. the system has declined to a 27 year low with certified professional controllers. how will you ensure you have it to continue operating the safest air space in the world. >> i am always very concerned
about the ability of a work force to prepare for a certain percentage of workers retiring and how webest to prepare for t future. i will be very concerned about that and that it's a whole plethora and i look forward to discussing some of these strategies and getting up to date information from the department as to what their current plans are as well. >> thank you very much. the last thing i want to say is even president-elect trump has criticized saying our airports are like from a third world country. you land at kennedy. you land at l.a.x and you come in and you see these incredible airports. you come in and see these incredible airports and we become a third world country. i have had a lot of frustration.
it so a full implementation that's already on the way. it needs a champion as a secretary to get this over the line so we can modernize our airport like the president-elect has mentioned. >> absolutely. we need to have a greater emphasis on improving the rate of modernization. there are questions that have taken place before you arrived and the rate of change and improvements is certainly not as what we would all like and needs to be improved. >> thank you very much. i would like to apologize to the chairman of south dakota. >> thank you senator booker.
might i add that only in the united states would the senator from new jersey be considered a young single guy. >> thank you. i have to tell you, i'm impressed with the size of your committee. let it be a less son on to all about being on time as i look around here. to you and your family welcome today. we have appreciated our friendships over the years and we both congratulate you on your nomination. >> thank you. >> in our meeting in my office we talked about the functions of the federal government and one of the most important constitutional functions is the creation of infrastructure. in order to conduct commerce, trade and general transportation it is very critical. one of the upsides to the state
of nevada is to have my colleague and i on the same committee so we can ask you the same questions twice. i do want to emphasize that nevada is of the challenges and opportunities before the department of transportation in the coming decade. nevada is one of the fastest growing states in the nation as you're well aware of adding nearly a million residents over the last 20 years. add to that 43 million visitors and you can imagine the infrastructure and the growth strains we have in the infrastructure that we need for increased vehicular travel that increased by 150%. so i want to talk to you about 9/11.
these are the two largest cities in the country that do not have a freeway between them. and the fact that it officially designated between phoenix and las vegas as an officially designated future highway. you may be aware of this but it's been decades since we designated a future highway in this country and it's good to see i-11 moving forward. i think nevada has done a great job. the first phase is known as boulder city bypass. because of this we are able to complete this on time and very
quickly. you heard a lot of great projects today and the issue is always going to be resources. it would help you securing the resources that are necessary in order to not only grow this designated freeway between phoenix and las vegas but you can imagine the impact that it has on the region, the southwest earn portion of the country which has been the fastest growing for decades. so i guess that's the commitment we are trying to get between the two of us from you is that the help and support from department of transportation to see this come to fruition. >> a couple of points. one, this emphasizes again the need to find additional financing creative innovative
ways to fund many of these projects. i look forward to working with both senators on this issue and i look forward to seeing both of you in nevada. >> thank you we need today hear that. it will continue to extend up into the northern portion of the state we did authorize the extension of i-11 from las vegas in that bill. it's going to be a very complicated project. we are not talking just the 290 miles between phoenix and las vegas but to get it to the northern end of the state. it will be treacherous terrain and there's a lot of federal land in the state of nevada.
it is so we can get through the initial phases to the northern end of the state. can we get your commitment that we can try to overcome some of the shackles that we find through this difficult project as we move forward? >> i will work with you on this. >> and i do appreciate that. the idea of this project moving forward would actually be a model for the rest of the
nation. >> i understand. thank you. >> i think my time has run out. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> we are almost to the end. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i enjoyed being a very active member on this committee and appreciate yours and senator nelson's approach to the committee work. secretary chao, welcome. it is great to see your willingness to come back and do this a second time. i very much enjoyed our visit about a variety of different issues, some of which i will ask about today. it is always good to see your family here the young people right behind you have focus
there. you always talk fondly about your dad. it is great to see him here too. first i would like to talk about drunk driving. in your written testimony you write that safety will continue to d.o.t.'s primary in 2015 and killed more than 10,000 people. it is roughly one-third of all traffic fatalities. these are tragic deaths that are preventable. i know that you know that and you worked on this before. we know from efforts in my home state of new mexico we can reduce the tragic toll from drunk driving and public safety campaigns, all of those helped save lives. i am excited to find technological solutions and i think the senator talked about how we could work together on that. it is called the driver alcohol
detection system. it is a public/private partnersh partnership. will drunk driving be a priority for you as d.o.t. secretary? >> yes. >> will you support the national highway transportation operation and efforts to combat drunk driving such as drive sober or get pulled over? social security a public awareness campaign. >> i have worked with them in the past and look forward to getting an update on this latest initiative as well. you have done great work. >> thank you. really appreciate your responses. everybody's talk has been mentioned several times. i don't want to plow new ground.
one thing that hasn't been mentioned is our native american communities where many of these indian pueblos, tribes are in very rural areas, some times 40 and 50%. one of the ways to grow jobs is to have good infrastructure. i hope that you'll work with me in the rural areas to make sure that we get the infrastructure they deserve and they can grow their communities. i know our chairman has a lot of tribes that are in this same situation too. thank you for that. and then let me talk a little bit about greenhouse gas emissions. the d.o.t.'s transportation states that -- and this is a quote within your department. within the united states transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after electricity
generation with scientific recognition it is contributing to a long-term warming trend of the earth. there is an increasing realization that transportation as a significant contribute to plays an important role in climate change, policy and program decisions. that's your department's statement. excuse me. will a department of tran poratipo poration under your leadership address climate change issues? >> i'm not very familiar with what the department is doing right now so i would want to be briefed and i look forward to working with you on it. >> the related issue has to do with vehicle emissions. i hope you'll work to see that we improve the vehicle fuel
economy rather than rolling back the standards. appreciate your effort here today. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman, very much. welcome msecretary. you're father over your shoulder, such a wonderful dad. let me go first to this revolution that's taking place in the automotive sector where automobiles are very rapidly turning into computers on wheels and increasingly it's possible to be able to hack into these vehicles as they go down the streets. all of these vehicles have information about us, which streets we went down, when we went there and potentially they are compromisable in terms of
someone with a computer even taking control over that vehicle. can you take a -- can you talk a little bit about how you view that issue and what role you think that the congress can take in ensuring that drivers are protected against the compromise of their information? >> the invasion and creativity of our country is unsurpassed in the world, and so we have a responsibility to ensure that that creativity and that innovation remains. obviously with these new immerging technologies there has surfaced a number of key issues, privacy among them, that are ve very worrisome.
as these are coming up they are faced with state by state regulations which also present a new challenge as well. there are many benefits for senior citizens who may not want to drive. they are a way to give them back their freedom. there are pros and cons and we need to have a national dialogue about all of this. as i said, the regulations at the federal level are in their infancy. we need to work with members of the congress and all of you on this committee to make sure we are not dampening the spirit of creativity and the real deep seeded concerns as so much of our public and some of the issues these new immerging technologies bring. >> and we'll follow up on a question which the senator asked which is on the greenhouse gas
issue which is related to fuel economy issues. i'm the author in 2007 of the law which required the dramatic increase in the fuel economy. senator stevens were the senate authors of that. that calls for 54.5 miles per gallon which has been reinventing the automotive sector in our country. that is going ton reviewed over the next couple of years. can you talk a little bit about how you view that issue and whether or not the u.s. should stay on a path to meet those goals because it requires less gasoline for people to buy? it reduces greenhouse gases. >> this issue will be coming up. it will be an important one for the department and before i comment i would like to do so
responsibly and i would like to get up to date briefings of what's happening in the department. again, i look forward to soliciting your points of view. >> and on the issue of drones, there will be millions of drones up in the sky but commercial companies can actually collect data about individual families all across the country as these drones are just hovering over people's backyards. i was successful in having an amendment passed last year. it got knocked out in the conference committee but it just goes to the issue of the privacy of americans and the information being gathered around them by commercial companies, and creating a privacy standard for those families. can you talk about that and what
role you believe the department of transportation and this congress should be playing and ensuring that these eyes in the sky don't compromise the privacy of families across the country? >> you and i talked about this at length during our visit in your office as well. on this issue we all need to talk and understand the benefits, the concerns that are expressed by various stake holders and i look forward to working with this committee and the congress on all of those issues. >> and do i have time for one more question? >> your time is up. if you want a second round -- >> okay. >> thank you mr. chairman. congratulations on the nomination. congratulations to your family who is here especially your father who is very very proud of
i want to talk about several topics quickly because we have limited time. i want to start with a topic you and i visited about yesterday, which is the impediment right now that overregulation serves as to building roads, buildings bridges, building infrastructure, and what we should do to reduce those regulations so we can more quickly rebuild the infrastructure in our country. i'd just ask your views on how overregulation slows down transportation projects. >> there's a whole list of projects that are outstanding in various departments throughout the department of transportat n transportation, and they've been on the books, so to speak, for quite a while. one of the major can complaints that private investors voice is how long it takes for projects
to be ready for bidding. so the issue is not only how much to fund our infrastructure projects but also how to increase the pipeline of projects that would be available for all groups, private sector included, to be able to participate and fund. >> terrific, madam secretary. and i look forward to this committee working closely with you to streamline that process so we can have more and more shovel-ready projects that actually are creating jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure. i want to turn to another area where regulations can potentially slow things down. and that's commercial space, something that is of great importance to my home state of texas. when you last worked at the department the office was located inside the office of secretary and reported directly to the secretary today that office is a few layers down inside the faa, which is allowing issues of importance to the commercial space launch
industry to be lost within the bureaucracy. in fact, it's illustrated by the fact that secretary fox's exit memo doesn't even mention commercial space. within the commercial space launch act which i authored and congress signed into law it directs the department at looking at moving the office of commercial space transportation back under the secretary. would you be supportive of that move and an increased focus on creating an environment where commercial space launch can thrive? >> thank you very much for bringing this issue to my attention. i was not aware of this issue and i look forward to getting briefed on the current status of this issue. >> i look forward to working with you on it. i want to turn to another issue you and i discussed which is airlines and particularly the fact our air traffic control system is right now outmoded
with 1950s-style radar. when we have gps technology and far better technology to ensure airline safety and efficiency which would benefit everyone. i'd like to hear your views on whether you share my concerns for the need to modernize and upgrade our air traffic control system. >> the professional career staff at the department of transportation are terrific. the task ahead of them is a huge one. next gen we need to do more, better, faster. and that's a tall order for anyone. so if confirmed, this will be a top priority of mine, to examine the next gen, how do we improve it and also how do we keep -- how do we maintain our aviation system to be the best in the
world. >> i like those adjectives of more, better faster. and i look forward to working with you to accomplish those in upgrading our air traffic control system. the final question i want to focus on is transportation funds. historically texas has received less from the highway trust fund than the state has contributed in gas tax receipts. and a major reason for that inequity is that the fast act didn't update apportionment formula so that texas is underrepresented. will you commit to this committee to looking at this issue and examining it carefully and in particular examining updating the apportionment formula so they actry reflect population in each state and they're using current census data and not outmoded data. >> this has been brought up several times during this hearing, and i will certainly do that. >> very good. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman.
>> thank you, senator cruz. senator nelson. >> i had the honor of authoring the first commercial transportation bill in 1986 when you and i were young pups. >> i was perhaps a younger pup. >> easy. madam secretary, will you commit to go to the state of every senator that is a member of this committee? >> i will do so. >> i want to acknowledge the dedication of the cogan families and the contributions to
aviation safety which has resulted from their hard work since that tragic flight 3-4-307 claimed the lives of their loved ones in 2009. representatives of the cogan family are with us today and we welcome them and commend them for their continuing efforts. just one cleanup question, mr. chairman. many of our members have raised the importance of direct federal funding to support infrastructure. federal funding is critical for projects in our state and you have heard a number of the senators from various states specifically enumerate their projects, infrastructure projects. now, here's a commit that you can actually commit to.
do you commit to providing this committee with details of your plan for infrastructure funding, particularly your recommendations on the federal funding? and to do that within a short period of time, say, 30 days. >> i will certainly try to give this committee a continuing report on what the infrastructure proposal will be. i will try for 30 days, but i can't promise 30 days. >> and when you formulate it, will you commit to sharing it with this committee? >> i can assure this committee that there will be continual and constant dialogue on what the proposal will be. for the very simple reason that we cannot do this alone and any infrastructure proposal would require the participation and the discussion of the united states congress.
>> okay. in order to get these infrastructure projects done with federal funding we need to know what the administration is proposing. >> absolutely. >> now, except for you being shackled by the white house that you can't release any of the proposed proposals for federal funding i would assume you could commit to sharing that information with us. >> i will certainly be in discussion with the congress and not only myself but other members that are involved in the infrastructure project, the white house. as i mentioned it would be a heavy lift and it would require the administration to work with the congress on making all of this a reality. so currently the administration -- i shouldn't
say currently because the administration is not in office yet. when the administration gets into office, these issues will be discussed. there's a national infrastructure task force. and when it gets under way, the pay force and other aspects of the infrastructure project will be tackled at that time. and i look forward to that. >> okay. the only way we're going to get an infrastructure bill done is to have it done in a bipartisan way. >> totally agree. >> the chairman and i are an example of that bipartisan cooperation. and we are going to need to know the information of what the administration, that you will be representing them on transportation, will in fact commit to. what we need is the information in the committee so we can work
together. >> i totally agree with you on that and at the appropriate time, i'm not saying at any later time, but as the infrastructure proposal is being put together we will certainly be in great discussion with the congress. because once again we cannot do it on our own. we need to have the input and the agreement of the congress as we go forward. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator nelson. i just have one quick cleanup thi thing. secretary chao, you mentioned in response to my question on the fast act earlier the creation of a task force. and i'm interested in your committee to brief me and my staff about this task force and would also ask that a rural perspective be included in that. some of the thikz we're talking about, projects don't reflect that point of view. >> we will certainly do so. i might put that in a more
positive spin in that the infrastructure proposal is very exciting and this is an opportunity for bipartisan agreement for to us all work together to build a better america. that's how i view it, as something very positive, that it actually gives our country on a bipartisan basis the opportunity to work together. >> sounds good to us. we do the bipartisan thing pretty well. the urban-rural thing is my version of bipartisanship. i just want to make sure we have rural representation in those conversations. >> yes. of course. >> final question. this will probably be the hardest one of the day for you. louisville or kentucky? >> i'm definitely taking a pass on that one. >> you're going to take that one for the record. well, i appreciate everybody's participation today.
and giving our hope to confirm secretary chao on inauguration day the hearing record's going to remain open until tomorrow. during that time i would ask senators to submit any questions for the record and upon receipt would request submission of written answers to the committee as soon as possible. secretary chao, thank you for your patience, your indulgence. very long day for you. and your response to our questions. and your willingness to serve our country. we look forward to work wug in hopefully what will be busy days in weeks and months ahead. the hearing is adjourned.