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  Commerce Secretary Nominee Wilbur Ross Testifies at Confirmation Hearing  CSPAN  January 18, 2017 8:00pm-11:59pm EST

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>> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. >> tonight, on c-span3, the senate confirmation hearing for commerce secretary nominee, wilbur ross, then u.s. trade representative michael froman on international trade agreements and prime minister's questions from the british house of com n commons. at his senate confirmation hearing, donald trump's nominee for commerce secretary, wilbur ross, said he'd push for changes to the nafta trade deal with mexico and canada and he also answered questions about china's trade practices and efforts to promote employment in manufacturing. this hearing of the senate commerce committee is four hours.
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good morning. we are meeting today to consider the nomination of mr. wilbur ross to be the next secretary of commerce. if confirmed mr. ross would bring decades of business and entrepreneurial experience to this position best known for revitalizes distressed businesses such as those in the united states steel industry. at a time most inventors aban n abandoned the industry, investors abandoned the industry he organized the international steel group in 2002 through acquisitions of the largest steel company in north america, later it merged to form the largest steel company in the world. mr. ross' strong record of achievement led bloomberg
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business week to name him as one of the 50 most influential people in global finance in 2011. it's also why he is the only person elected to both the turnaround management hall of "f.a.m.e." and private equity hall of fame. mr. ross's business is complemented by a service 0 the communi community. mr. ross served as first lieutenant of the u.s. army and currently a member of the dean's advisory board of harvard business school and on the board of the school of management which awarded him the legend of leadership award. mr. ross' nomination comes at an important time in our nation's economic recovery. i believe his extensive management in the private sector and his understanding of challenges faced by workers and businesses alike will equip him well for leading the department of commerce. this large department with 12 different bure rose and nearly 27,000 employees in 50 states and all around the world overseas a diverse array of issues from treasure manage
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document weather forecasting to the census bureau. i'll be asking mr. ross about changes facing the department and our economy. first and foremost how he plans to deal with trade matters as the secretary of commerce. i also want to explore how, if confirmed, he would continue to play a lead role in american innovation like freeing up government spectrum for private use and pursuing the growing internet of things and his experience should help him anticipate growing programs like first net charged with creating a facing-wide broadband network of first responders and acquisition of weather satellites by the national oceanic atmospheric administration. and finally one of the hallmarks of his work is ongoing development of cybersecurity best practices and standards this committee has strongly endorsed. mr. ross, should you be
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confirmed we'll be dependent on you for this collaboration and strengthen it as necessary. i believe you know how will make you an excellent next secretary of commerce and look forward to your nomination. i want to turn to our ranking member, distinguished senator nelson for any remarks he'd like to make. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. wilbur ross and hillary ross, we welcome you both to the committee. i want to congratulate you on your nomination. you and interestingly, the incumbent, secretary bripritzgef some of the most substantial holdings of any nominees before this committee. after reviewing your financial disclosure and ethics agreement,
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it's my understanding you have agreed to divest the vast majority of your personal holdings and resign from nearly 50 boards and organizations. i believe that's the right thing to do and it tells me that you are committed to doing the job the right way by placing the public's interests ahead of your own. it's my hope that president trump will follow your lead and set the example that you set, to eliminate any business dealings that could pose potential conflicts of interest. in recent years, the commerce secretary post has not been one of the most sought or one of the most appreciated positions in washington. but i have a feeling that that's about to change in a big way.
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as the president-elect has indicated, he is going to look to you to help lead the administration's trade agenda. that's a departure from past commerce secretaries and the role that they played, which was much smaller in setting u.s. trade policy. given that expanded role and the incoming president's desire to make job creation and overhauling trade deals top priorities, i hope that we'll hear from you today as the chairman has already indicated on the administration's trade plans and how you all will hope to create jobs that will benefit all americans. i'd like for you to tell us more about how your trade duties might expand and how this could
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impact the role of the u.s. trade represent, who traditionally has taken the lead on the trade negotiations. and while we're on the topic of protecting american workers, there's been some negative commentary on how you built your business empire by buying and selling troubled companies. others have lauded you for saving companies and thousands of jobs. i think it would be most helpful to all of us on the committee if we could get an assessment from you on your record of job creation and what the lessons that you've learned that will help grow and protect american workers. now, while i expect a good portion of today will be spent talking about trade and jobs and
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your experience, there's a lot more to the department of commerce. this department, of some 40,000 employees, impacts our daily lives by a number of things. providing vital weather foreca t forecasts to millions of americans through noaa and the national weather service, pl playing a huge role in building out our nation's digital infrastructure. helping grow and expand minority owned businesses. collecting all sorts of data, including data critical to jobs and the economy as well as monitoring environmental conditions and climate change. that brings me to one of my last
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top topics, and one more that is especially important to mr. ross, your state of florida. that is sea level rise and global warming. florida has over 20 million people and 75% of them live on the coast, including the two of you. the state's highest point is only 345 feet. that, by the way, a piece of trivia in the peninsula state is a position in the middle of the state whereba bach tower at lak wales is located. because of the work of noaa and
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nasa, and other agencies, we have measurements and forecasts that can tell us when a monster storm is coming. and we also have the science to know that coastal communities face peril even on sunny days because of the long-term atmospheric trends. scienti scientist scientistingly accurate data shows it is in fact happening. the problem is some folks will go to any lengths to deny this truth including gagging climate scienti scientists. now, that shouldn't happen and that should be troubling to us. so given your personal experience of being a floridian, i hope that you will agree on
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the need to continue vital scientific research to inform the public about extreme weather events and trends over time. it's my hope that we will get a commitment from you to not allow in ttimidation and censorship o climate scientists under your jurisdiction. with that, mr. chairman, i see my colleague, my fellow floridian, senator rubio, he has come back to the committee, and i am -- i know you're going to introduce him. i'm looking forward to having him formally introduce our nominee. >> thank you, senator nelson. we are very privileged to have senator rubio here, your colleague from florida and our colleague of the united states senate to introduce mr. ross, so i welcome back to the committee, senator rubio. please proceed with your
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remarks. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i must say the members, you guys look different from this side of the diyas. anyway, thank you. i appreciate the honor of being here. i'm honored to introduce wilbur ross a fellow floridian and he is president-elect trump's nominee for secretary of commerce. i also want to thank you and senator nelson for allowing me this honor especially, as you said, i enjoyed serving on this committee for the past six years. to say mr. ross has extensive business experience working in the private sector i believe is quite an understatement. for more than half a century now there is virtually no part of the american economy in which he has not created jobs. this includes industries such as airplanes, apparel, auto parts, beer, banking, cards, electric utilities, food service, mortga mortgages, oil and gas. rail manufacturing and shipping
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and textiles and trucking. in all mr. ross has been chairman or lead director of more than 100 companies opera operating in more than 100 different countries. he would bring this real world experience to a departments who mission is fundamentally about expanding opportunities for american entrepreneurs and workers all over the world. despite his professional commitments in the private sector, mr. ross has also devoted time to public service answering the call from leaders in both parties. overall, mr. ross will bring an important perspective to major policy debates we need have includes modernizing tax codes and strengthening our economy and empowering small businesses and increasing wages for hard working family and insuring a fair competitive playing field when it comes to selling american products and services to the rest of the world. i am confident mr. ross will serve this nation admirably and i am proud to introduce him to the committee today.
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i thank you, mr. chairman and thank the ranking member. >> thank you, senator rubio. mr. ross, please come forward and take the witness stand. we'll look forward to hearing directly from you. we're surrounded by floridians today, senator nelson. i know there are many of senator cobuch cobuchar's and my constituents become part-time constituents of yours in florida. >> eventually they become full time. mr. chairman, we're looking forward to hosting you in florida as you so graciously hosted me in south dakota, so, too, we're going to show you the amazing river of grass, the evergla everglades. >> thank you. and thank you for doing it in february. mr. ross, please proceed. welcome. >> welcome, mr. chairman, ra ranking member nelson and members of the committee. i'm very grateful for the
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opportunity to appear before you today. as a proud resident of florida, i would also like to thank senator marco rubio for his kind introduction. with me today is my wife, hillary gary ross. since president-elect trump announced my nomination, i've had the opportunity to meet with many of you. in our meetings, i've heard firsthand how we can work together to the benefit of the american people. these meetings have been helpful to me and i look forward to continuing the dialogue. may be the only nominee ever for commerce secretary who actually worked as a census taker. when i was working my way through harvard business school, i was a census taker, what they more technically call an enumer rate tore in the scully scare
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area of boston -- square area of boston. that task was quite fascinating in that they had me wear a big white belt diagonally from the shoulder to the waist and a big white one around the waist and a big kind of school patrol badge. then, we had to talk our way into people's households to get them to let us take the cens censuses. i have first hand expertise in that and can appreciate the enormity of the task for the 2020 census. i have also been a large consumer of various forms of data put out by different departments of the department of commerce. census data, bea data, data from noaa, all kinds of information have come out. i believe it's the case the commerce department emits 40% of
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all the data to the public that comes out of all of the departments come bined. so that's a huge task, getting it right, getting it timely is a big challenge and one we will work a lot on. another very very important function of course is spectrum. we need more spectrum in the private sector. i will try my best to help convince those government agencies that have spectrum and don't really need to it permit it to be commercialized. that may well be a help to extending broadband to more rural communities and other segments that are underserved right now. i have some first hand experience there in that i have been vice chair of a community
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in southern florida in the process of undergrounding its utilities to bring fiberoptic service and 21st century service throughout the community. also to protect us better against the weather that senator nelson and rubio pointed out is a big threat in southern florida. weather sensitivity is something that comes to you naturally if you're in florida. hi hilary and i live right on the water there so we're well aware of the important of timely warning of impending hurricanes. i'm also aware until noaa has been lunching its new series of satellite, there had been an inferiority of our weather forecasting relative to what was done in europe and in japan.
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as far as i can tell, the new sensing devices will more than bring us up to equal and probably ahead of the others. southern florida also is characterized by very great importance of fishing and tourism. if there's one consistent message i got as i met with the various members of the committee, it's just how important fishing is. i didn't really understand quite how intricate an industry it is. i think i now have some fundamental grasp of it and its importance. one of the things i'd like to try to help correct is we believe it or not, have a trade deficit in fishing of some $11 billion a year. given the enormity of our coastlines and enormity of fresh water, i would like to try to figure out how we can become much more self-sufficient in fishing and perhaps even a net
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exporter of fishing. as to trade, over the years i've had businesses that operated in some 23 countries. for the most part our businesses have been domestic, but we have been on the ground in all of the major trading partners in this country. as a result, we know directly both what's good and a lot of things not so good about the trade policies of many of these other countries. i am not anti-trade, i am pro trade but i'm pro sensible trade, not pro trade that is to the disadvantage of the american worker and the american manufacturing community. i think we should provide access to our market to those countries who play fair, play by the rules
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and give everybody a fair chance to compete. those who do not should not get away with it, they should be punished and severely. i think that we cannot afford trade that is inherently bad for american workers and for american businesses, but i think there are plenty of opportunities to expand our exports. i think the number one objective will be expanding our exports. i think there are many things we can do that we haven't been doing and i look forward to discussing some of those as we get into more detailed questions. very recently, the president-elect has convened meetings with various of the high-tech executives.
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i've been impressed to learn from them how similar the problems they face with the protectionism and a variety of other countries through the problems that manufacturing businesses faced. so while the exact implementation of the improper things is not the same, the general direction is the same, trying to thwart american progress. that's something we need to try to fix. there are many many more function that the commerce department has, but in the limited time of my introductory remarks, i think i'll stop there and hopefully deal with the others during the question and answer period. i thank you dpn for having me here today. >> thank you, mr. ross. before we begin our questions i want to ask unanimous consent to put multiple letters of support for mr. ross into the record
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including those of four former secretaries of commerce endors endorsing him for this position. without objection so ordered. we will now turn to the quest n questions. according to media accounts should you be confirmed as secretary of commerce, president-elect trump will tap you to oversee the nation's trade policy. i'd like to ask you specifically what you will be seeking to accomplish with regard to trade policy in the first 100 days of the trump administration. if you could hone in a little bit because a lot of the media reporting specifically china and also some stories this morning regarding canada and nafta, if you could speak to those issues. >> surely, sir. we are well aware of the legislative powers of the u.s. trade representative and neither the president or i will try to do anything that is adverse to
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the congressional mandate given to the u.s. trade route. having said that, we think it is good for trade policy to bring all of the intellectual resources we can muster to -- [ interruption ]. >> that was not part of my prepared remarks. >> thank you. please proceed. i was saying, i think it's important to bring all the intellectual resources and experience that we can to he helping solve the trade issues, therefore i view that there will be a collaborative process among the u.s. trade with myself and
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peter navarro, the white house director of the national trade council. we will try our best collecti collectively to do what's best for this country. that's how we visualize the interaction of those parties working. as to canada and mexico, the president-elect has made no secret in his public remarks, nor have i in earlier remarks during the campaign that nafta is logically the first thing for us to deal with. we ought to solidify relationships in the best way we can in our own territory before we go off to other jurisdicti jurisdictions. i think that should be and hopefully will be, if i'm confirmed, a very very early topic in this administration.
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>> in china? >> sir? >> china. >> yeah. >> china is the most protecti protectionist country of very large countries. they have both very high tariff barriers and very high non-tariff trade barriers to commerce. so they talk much more about free trade than they actually practice. we would like to levellize that playing field and bring the realities a bit closer to the rhetoric. >> mr. ross, you co-authored president-elect trump's american infrastructure first plan, which is described as featuring a major private sector revenue neutral to help finance a share of the nation's infrastructure needs. there's bipartisan interest in working together on infrastructure issues but also questions about how the new administration's plan will address infrastructure projects
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do not have a readily available revenue source and that would apply to most rural projects. could you provide some insights how the america's infrastructure first plan will address the infrastructure needs in rural america? >> surely. first of all, as to the plan we wrote about with the campaign the public private partnership with incentives for equity investment were to be another tool. there are three categories of infrastructure projects. one are the ones simple to finance. they have an inherit well documented reliable source of revenue from user fees. those don't need much more help because they have access to the corporate bond market and corporate debt market.
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the third category this is tr k trickiest one in some of the rural activities. that's ones where it's very hard to find a convincing source of revenue. it seems to me those will have to be subsidized by someone as part of an overall infrastructure project. the one in the middle are the ones that have a potential revenue source. it isn't as clearly defined you can just do it without needing equity. so the purpose of the plan that we put forward, the public-private partnership, was to fill that second gap. so it's not in place of concepts like build america bonds, not in place of conventional financing, it simply was meant to provide another tool. the reason i think we need another tool is the infrastructure needs of this country are so monumental that
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we need any available source of capital in order to meet it on a timely basis. >> i would just simply say there are a lot of members of this committee on both sides of the aisle that represent large geographic areas and would look forward to working with you as you shape that plan to insure that rural areas are not left out of the equation. my time is expired. before we turn to other members for questions, i wanted to seek clarification from you, mr. ross, on one additional subject. upon your nomination and as part of this confirmation process, it's my understanding you determined you had hired a household employee in 2009 who presented a social security card in the employee's name along with a valid driver's license but who recently was unable to provide similar dock men taigts again. once you made this discovery i understand you immediately terminated that particular
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household employee and informed the committee. prior to this discovery you had used the social security person this person provided you to pay all applicable taxes for this household employee from 2009 to 2016 without incident. i want to say, mr. ross, thank you for being forth coming with the committee about this particular matter, and would ask you if i have explained accurately the facts and if there's anything further you would like to add about this matter at this point? >> those are the facts. we did the best that we thought we could do in order to verify the legality of the employment. it turned out that was incorrect, so -- but we did pay all of the withholdings, so did that employee, and so did all the other employees that we've had. what happened was when i was getting ready for this hearing, i wanted to recheck all of our present and former employees.
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they all produced the appropriate records again, and in many cases they had now advanced to the point where they're actually citizens, so i'm very happy with that. this one employee was unable to, and therefore was terminated. >> thank you, mr. ross. senator nelson. >> i think it's important to point out that that wasn't just one or two employees, you had a battery of employees over those years? >> yes, senator, that's correct, a dozen or so. >> i have, of course, talked to the chairman about this. you were forthcoming in your questionnaire that you filled out for the committee. you were a private citizen all that period of time, and it was only until such time that you had been named commerce
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secretary you then rechecked and then found out that one of your dozen or so employees had in fact deceived you, is that correct? >> yes, it is, senator. >> and then you immediately dismissed that employee? >> that is correct, sir. >> that all occurred sometime within the past months? >> that is correct also. >> okay. can you share with the committee what i stated in the opening statement about that you have bought and sold many businesses. you know what the critics have said. you know those who have said that you have been a job creator, appraising your work. so could you share with us how
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you would characterize that part of your business, and does your record demonstrate that as secretary of commerce you're going to be putting businesses first, and especially american workers first? >> thank you for that question, senator. some of the companies that we have cited, international steel group, there's dle ae's clearly question whatsoever the work leo gerard and i did together, leo believes and i believed probably saved 100,000 jobs in america. fra frankly, that's the series of events i'm most proud of in my entire career. second, there was talk in one of the press about international auto components and a couple of hundred jobs being moved to mexico during a little time period.
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during that same time period, we grew netanyahu net our jobs in this country to 11,000 jobs, which was more than a 10% increase from what we had before it. the only reason we moved a couple of workers to mexico was our business was making interior parts for cars. those are just in time delivers so you have to be right contiguous to the factory you are supplying, the original equipment or factory. the customers of the factory that laid the people off moved to mexico so there was no longer a customer. that customer asked us to relocate workers to mexico. we really didn't have much alternative to do so because once the customer is gone, and since he insists that you be right next door to him, so that
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he doesn't have to keep any inventory, we had no choice. but netanya-net, iac, was an ad of jobs. similarly international textile group, it is true it had to reduce its work force. it is also true we are probably the last large domestic manufacturer of textiles left standing with maybe one or two other exceptions. subsequent to our work at itg, their main union became -- used its pension fund to invest in my fu funds. so clearly unite which is the union that has organized the textile and apparel industry felt that we did responsible things and we were certainly not anti-worker. i think in reality, if we hadn't also begun some foreign
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operati operations, we would have had to shut down far more of the domestic activities. i believe if you add and subtract we have been a very large net creator of jobs during this whole period in this united states. >> mr. chairman, i will take the prerogative to ask one more question. i emphasized it under my opening remarks. in the noaa scientific integrity policy, noaa scientists do not need to ask for permission to share their expertise on scientific matters with the public or the press. do you support that right? >> i support the dissemination of valid information to the public. i don't think valid information should be concealed.
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in general, i have great respect for the scientific quality of noaa. it's my understanding there are four nobel prize winners at noaa. that is certainly a measure of their expertise. i think communication of factual information an data is very very important. >> do you consider the rise of the sea level as valid scientific data? >> it's very hard for me, senator nelson, to parse which part of data is what. in general, i think there will be a very big report forthcoming from noaa. every three years they send a report to the international climate group that should be coming out very very shortly and i think will be very very interesting to see what their p
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updated findings are on that topic as well as other topics. >> mr. chairman, just in clo closing, i will point out noaa and nasa measurements over the course of the last four decades have shown in southeast florida measurements of the sea level rise from 5 to 8 inches. that is data that should be reported again in this report you're talking about that's coming out. >> since you've asked me, sir, not to edit the report, i probably won't have any control over whether they put those specific facts in or not, but i'm sure they're mindful of the facts. >> thank you, senator nelson, i have senator cantwell, followed by senator blount, followed by senator -- >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i thought you were going back and forth. >> i am. >> okay. don't leave the room, i guess, that's the key thing there. mr. ross, i wanted to ask you about you mentioned maritime and fishe fisheries. for us in the northwest, this is big job, 30 billion in annual revenue and 140,000 direct jobs as maritime sector. i don't have the information right in front of me but your ethics documentation is not requiring you to divest your shipping company, of your diamond shipping company that operates 33 tanker vessels and operates petroleum products of 1.2, is that correct, you're not divesting of that? >> that is correct. the research we've done sugges s s there has never been a sh shipping case come before the department of commerce.
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in our case, the vessels are the most environmentally up to date vessels that you're going to find on the water. as you know, there is some new regulations coming in about ballast water and other things. we believe our vessels, even before those rules came in, have been very well brought, for the most part, up to snuff. we're proud that the vessels are the best we can do environme environmentally. in addition, we don't take any risk in the cargo, we simply are like a taxicab, they put cargo on it and we discharge it in another location and we're paid a fee for so doing. but i will have no involvement with the operation of the business. >> i think my question -- first of all, i'm sure when we get into larger infrastructure discussi discussions, there'll be a lot
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of members of this committee that will say, what can we do to provide more ship building jobs in the united states of america. i would probably think there's many members of this panel that believe in ship building in the united states and there's much more to do and state-of-the-art. i'm sure you remember the "exxon valdez" and i'm sure you remember the pristine waters that reached the shores throughout the pacific northwest are of high economic value, i'm sure you get that being a floridian there's a high economic value to the pristine coastlines of a state. so my question -- i'm happy to provide this for you for the record, there are many many many many aspects to your new job that will be about the regulation of this industry. the oil spill liability trust fund and how much shippers pay into that. there is, you know, obviously after the deep water horizon catastrophe, similar issues.
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the oil politicilution act gove our maritime liability and response. i want to make sure that as these issues are discussed within your organization, if you're still going to hold that position in that company, whether you're going to recuse yourself from those issues. >> on issues -- our vessels are only transoceanic vessels, we are not jones act participants so we don't do port to port. >> do you support the jones act? >> the jones act is a fact. i've been living with it. i've never voiced any opposition to it. it's just not relevant to what we've been doing. but the jones act has been useful in continuing u.s. ship bui building. i think without the jones act you'd have even less u.s. ship building than you have now because of the requirement that the intracoastal activities the
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jones act qualified vessels and jones act qualified crews. >> i want to make sure -- i will get this and you can respond in writing, but there will be times in which the influence of those interests will be impacted by decisions made by your organization. and if you would take a look at these specific questions and ar areas, where you would recuse yourself in addition to what you've already done with ethics, i would so appreciate this. >> i intend to be quite skrup pu louse about recusal in any topic where there's the slightest scintilla of doubt. >> thank you. i have a few seconds left. can you tell me, obviously in the private sector, listen, the president-elect's administration's trying to bring in a lot of private sector experience. i appreciate private sector experience. but oftentimes that experience is about answering to shareholders and other special
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intere interests. this is about answering to the public interest. in this issue, as it regards to the huge issues we have on pensions, you know, we've had so many things that have happened in this last several years of an economy where people have been able to come in, reap the assets of companies and organizations and then leave the federal government or workers with the liability. do you support shoring up the miner's pension multi-employer program and do you support sh e shoring up the pcbg. >> let me talk about the pension situation in general. what happens in bankruptcy court is that the debtor, not the potential buyer but the debtor itself has the burden of proving to the court that it is not reorganizable without dealing with the pension and retiree health liabilities. the court makes that
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determination. in every case where we bought and where the pension plan was terminated, that decision had been made by the court prior to our advent on the scene. so the idea that we terminated anybody's mention plan is simply false. >> i'm not asking that. i'm out of time, but if you can't right now we can come back in round two, i want to know now wearing that hat, as commerce secretary, i want to know what your viewpoint is from the worker perspective and whether you support shoring up that aspect of the pension program. you can -- since i'm out of time, mr. chair, we can go to round two or get a written answer on the questions. >> should i answer the question, sir? >> if you can be very very brief? >> i will. i'm quite familiar with pension benefit guarantee corp. commerce has a board seat on pbgc.
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they are the insurer of last resort. i think they need to be even more skrup loupu louse about ri based pricing so they themselves don't run out of money as pension obligations find their way to them. >> thank you, senator cantwell. senator blount. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you, for being here and willing to serve and i look forward to your leadership in commerce from everything i read would be an expanded role beyond commerce because of the president-elect's confidence in you. on the infrastructure side, we had secretary chao, former secretary of labor and i suspect in the future, secretary of transportation in the other day. one of the questions i asked her was about the importance of better in ter mobile strategy for transportation. where i live in missouri, the
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mississippi river is there and missouri river flows into the mississippi. we are at the water nexus of the country but also the rail and highway nexus of the country. i'm sure all of those need to work together even better for us to have the competitive potential we need. i'd like you to talk a little bit about your sense of how we look at those more interrelated transportation system. >> as you know, we have been in the rail car manufacturing business for quite a long time. one of our major products are the best types of cars best s t seated for inter-modul. there's a rail for cars and barges and rail. i think people will keep finding and succeed at finding better
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ways to transfer from one mode of transportation to another. i think that's a very very vital thing for this country because for many industries transportation cost is as much as 20% of their total cost. anything that can be done to facilitate transportation will help the economy just in and of itself, let alone infrastructure spending has a very high labor content, generally around 44%. it's a very very good way to provide high paying jobs to ordinary people. >> if i understand your three level matrix of how you finance, one was things that have an obvious and easy to understand financing component that have access to the credit world because of that, either may have
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some component like a rural cable that could pay part of the bill but not all the bill. in the middle you had that greater category of things that just can't happen without a partnership. would you give me an idea of both of what one of those might be, and what the private sector opportunity that we're not seeing, or not using effectively, could be as we look down the road? >> yes, sir. i think we're fortunate to be coming to grips with infrastructure in a relatively low interest rate environment because that will facilitate getting a lot of projects done that could not be done in a lower interest rate environment because there would be a crowding out effect. but even so, there will be in many cases a need either for the public policy decision to have government play a direct role, or for a way to encourage
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private sector to participate. so i think it won't be one-size-fits-all. it's a very large and very complex problem and it needs very large, very inventive and complex solutions. >> and you're also proposing that as you look at infrastructure that we're making a greater effort to incorporate new technologies into that infrastructure? >> yes, sir. and that's a lot of what we're doing in florida right now. it's not just to get away from the hurricanes, we're also building in extra conduit beyond even the optical fiber that we're putting in in the first instance to allow for potential developments in the future. because it's a lot easier to lay the second or third conduit at the same time than it would be to have to close that up and then come back five years from now so we've been trying to get a little bit ahead of the game and in that particular case,
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it's being financed by tax-exempt bonds. >> so, senator klobuchar and i have been particularly involved in the travel and tourism issues thinking that often described as the low-hanging fruit in the economy, particularly foreign travel to our country. current secretary's been very interested in that. it's part of the portfolio of commerce. would you talk just a little bit about that and how it impacts the economy? >> surely. first of all, having been involved -- i worked with the labor unions and the pan american world airways bankruptcy. i was their financial adviser, was bondholder adviser in twa preferred stock adviser in eastern. so i'm pretty familiar with the airline industry and actually had been on the board of we.a.n. airlines in alaska for quite a while. i'm a big proponent of the open skies policy. i think that's an important
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thing. i think developing tourism is extremely important. and i think something like a ninth of all the jobs in this country are one way or another dependent on the touriourism so powerful economic factor and it is one of the segments of commerce department that i will certainly be paying attention to if confirmed. >> and i just say in closing, mr. chairman, and, too, mr. ross, it's also an area where we've got a very active public/private effort going on right now to encourage people to discover america. so thank you, chairman. >> thank you, senator blount. senator klobuchar? >> thank you very much. congratulations on your nomination, mr. ross, and thank you, senator blount, for asking the important tourism questions. senator blount and i won't ask you if you think the mall of america and bloomington in branson, missouri, are better places to visit than florida but i think one of our reasons in taking this on is there's
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tourism all across america that's very important. i want to lead with something you and i zpdiscussed and that ironore and steel. my state as you know is one of the leading producers of iron ore. it's in my family. my grandpa worked as an iron ore miner 1,500 feet under ground most of his life. we've had an incredible downturn due in part to overcapacity but also steel dumping that is illegal and recently there have been good actions taken by the commerce department. congress has given more funds which has been helpful and we've seen a bit of improvement and i wondered if you could address how you would build on this work and improve it even more for our hardworking minors and people in the steel industry. >> sure. as you can appreciate, i have a greater familiarity with mining than most people up for this position. the fundmeamental problem with e
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steel industry is overcapacity particularly in china. china has 1 billion tons of capacity. that's half of the world's capacity. they need something like 700 million tons domestically. they're actually producing 800 million tons and putting 100 million tons out into the world markets. often at dumping prices. so i think one of the things where we need do very careful attention to more tariff activity is the anti-dumping requirements that we should impose on the steel industry and on the aluminum industry as well. that's a very big issue. and unfortunately until fairly recently, europe was even more reticent to impose countervailing duties than we are, but finally they seem to be feeling the pinch of it and
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they're starting to come around -- >> are right. >> -- as well. >> as you know, they just launched the global form in steel excess capacity in berlin in december so i assume you'll be will to work with our allies on that. >> absolutely. i know many. very active throughout europe. >> okay. thank you. will you work with our customs and border patrol? you and i discussed that. the issue of the shipments coming in with the illegal steel. >> yes. one of the things that horrified me is i studied about enforcement is there are literally billions of dollars of countervailing duties that are never collected because the foreigners set up little shell companies here, we impose a duty, there's nobody home when we come time to collect. i think that kind of thing has to be fixed. there's not much point going through a multiyear trade case if then -- in case you win you don't even collect the countervailing duties.
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that doesn't change anybody's behavior and it's a loss of revenue to the federal government. >> thank you. and i appreciate that. i think that's one of the reasons you just got the steelworkers' support with leo gerard in a letter dated january the 9th. last thing i want to ask you about is cuba. i lead the bill to lift the embargo. i know it's an issue in florida on both sides and we, of course, have republican support on this bill as well. my view is 50-plus years of a failed policy is enough. what's your position on ending the embargo and then also a second question related would be the rollbacks, if there was any plans to, you think, we should be rolling back any of the existing opportunities for american air carriers, businesses that have come about because of president obama's executive orders? because a lot of these businesses in america are making plans, we have 1.5 million visitors now forecasted from our own country a year.
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>> i must make a confession, i've never been in cuba, so i have no firsthand knowledge. i do have quite a number of cuban-american friends in florida and i notice it's a sufficiently complex issue that even within individual families there are people who disagree about what should be done. so there's one area i'd like to become much more educated in as time goes. i am aware that starwood and some other hotel people have already made some deals for cuba so there seems to be interest on the part of american companies in doing business there, but i don't feel i'm expert enough in that right now to have a firm view. >> all right. well, we look forward to talking with you about that. i will put on the record some questions about -- i appreciated you raising broadband, the dig once proposal we have when people are digging for utilities
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to also make sure we lay fiber for broadband and then also the importance of the foreign commercial service, and finally softwood lumber. we can leave that for the written questions. thank you very much. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. senator sullivan. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and mr. ross, welcome. appreciate your willingness to serve and your previous service to our country and you and i talked about it in our meeting before this hearing, but i had an opportunity to have a front-row seat in some ways working at the national security staff on the white house on economic issues, what happened with the steel industry. and what you were able to do. and i think that's something that is an important and positive part of your record and i know there's thousands and
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thousands of steelworkers who appreciated that. we also had the opportunity to talk about, to me, one of the most important issues we can face as a nation right now and that's the issue of economic growth. and as you know, the last ten years we've had a lost decade of economic growth. president obama is going to be the first president never to hit 3% gdp growth never in a year. almost never hit it in a quarter. and so that's -- the obama administration's now said, well, that's the new normal, we shouldn't expect to hit traditional levels of american growth 3.5%, 4%, 4.5%. do you agree with that, the new normal is we're achieving our full maximum potential as an american economy at, you know, 1.5%, 2% growth, the numbers over the last 10 years or can we get back to traditional levels of american growth? and if so, how do we do that? >> i think we can. during the campaign, i
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characterized the 1.5%, 2%, not as the new normal but as the new dismal. i don't think we need to have the new dismal. >> so you think the narrative that's very pervasive in washington, d.c., that the new normal is here to stay, this is what we should achieve, this is what we should expect. i think it's a surrender. so you disagree with that? >> i'm pretty sure that if that proves true, you won't be seeing me much longer because the president-elect won't put up with it. >> so how do we get the traditional levels of american growth, 3.5%, 4%, 4.5%, which, by the way, democrat and republican administrations have achieved this. this has been the -- >> right. >> -- that's the new, that's the normal for america. >> well, i think -- i wrote an editorial with peter navarro that outlined four planks to the economic policy. one was regulatory reform. i'm not against all regulations, obviously, but i do think that
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pendulum, perhaps, has swung a bit further than it should. and i believe the president will roll back some of the regulations. i don't know which ones but i think he'll roll back some. that's one of the most frequent complaints i hear from the business community is about overregulation. second is the energy policy. both making us closer to being energy self-sufficient because we still are a net importer of energy and however you look at it, that's a drain on the economy. third is what we've been talking about before, helping our balance of trade, particularly by increasing the exports. i think if we combine each of those and just get a fraction of a percent more growth from each, we'll get to the kinds of numbers that you were talking
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about. and last, of course, being the infrastructure. we desperately need infrastructure, not only because of the direct jobs it creates, but inefficient and archaic infrastructure is, itself, a drain on the economy. the grid. all kinds of things have to be fixed if we're going to be a truly competitive economy. >> thank you. and i -- we want to work with you on those four elements of getting back to the traditional levels of american growth. i want to talk next, and i appreciate you highlighting the issue of fisheries and their importance to coastal communities. you know, in my state of alaska, employment in the fishing industry is actually bigger than even in the oil and gas industry. so healthy coastal communities, a well-managed sustainable fishery -- our fishery is considered probably the most
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well-managed, sustainable fishery on the planet, is very important. i have the honor of chairing the subcommittee on oceans and fisheries in the coast guard on this committee, so i just want to get your commitment to, as you know, a big part of the commerce department is noaa, is fisheries, is focusing on that data, to keep our fisheries well managed. i just want to get your commitment to working with this committee, working with me, working with the subcommittee, on those important issues for the country, for my state, and also on some of the personnel decisions that you'll be making, that the administration will be making, on having the best people who understand fisheries, understand alaska. i like to say we're the superpower of seafood. almost 60% of all seafood harvested in the united states comes from alaska's waters. so if confirmed, i'd like to get
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your commitment to working closely with us on those important issues. >> you certainly have it, and i am very mindful of the discussion we had about king crabs coming in from russia as part of our trade problem, and i assure you that, too, will be something i'll look into if confirmed. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator sullivan. senator blumenthal. >> thanks, mr. chairman. welcome to the committee, and thank you for being willing to serve, mr. ross. let me begin where my colleague, senator sullivan finished, on the issue of fisheries. as you know, you have very substantial authority under your emergency powers to correct for inequities and overfishing. i'd like a commitment that you will consider using those emergency powers to address the flow of certain fish stocks which you and i have discussed
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from the middle atlantic states to the new england states without the authority to fish, quotas, for the fishermen of new england. >> right. well, i do remember very clearly our conversation and i think it will be important to make sure that quotas are allocated properly. i'll need to do research to follow up on the indications you gave me in order to figure out exactly where i come out on exact details. >> this system is broken. it is broken from an environmental and an economic standpoint. it's costing jobs. and it is preventing the united states from using its fish stocks and instead as you and i discuss, has resulted in impo importing -- >> right. >> -- which destroys livelihoods and economic wellbeing in the new england states.
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i'd like your commitment that you'll work with me to use your emergency powers and legislative reform. >> i'm very interested in helping balance the payments, very interested to helping the fisheries. i look forward to seeing the details of the suggested legislation. >> and i want to welcome your modification, i'll put it somewhat delicately, of the plan that you and mr. navarro submitted or your clarification of it, to permit other authorities like an infrastructure bank and a public financing authority which i think are key to the public side of investment and there has to be a robust public investment in our infrastructure taking advantage of the low-interest environment that you very correctly suggested. >> we're very fortunate, senator, that it is a low interest rate environment where we're trying to solve this problem. if it were a very high interest rate environment, the problem would be two or three times as hard to solve. >> let me focus on another area
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where i think you have really made a very personal sacrifice. your service has resulted in your divesting yourself of literally hundreds of millions of dollars in assets so that you could reach an agreement with the office of government ethics. i don't want to embarrass you or presume, but obviously of all of the billions of dollars in holdings that you own now, you have divested more than 90%. you have resigned from 50 positions. the process has been enormously complex and challenging and costly to you personally. correct? >> yes, sir. >> and i want to ask you very directly, shouldn't the president of the united states do the same? >> well, as i understand it, the
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ethics rules that applied to senate-approved nominees do in the apply to the president. >> but simply as a matter of appearance and morality for that matter, you were able to do it, why not the president? >> i'm not familiar enough, senator, with the exactitudes of his holdings to have any judgment as to how easy or hard it would be to do it. >> you did it to avoid any conflict co conflicts of interest, correct? >> that is correct, sir. >> you now have an agency that will have direct authority that potentially could impact very seriously the president's financial wellbeing, correct? you had, for example, the patent and trademark office. >> yes, sir. >> the president's organization has eight pending applications for new trademarks. his trademarks for hotel,
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clothing, real estate, could well come before the trademark trial and appeal board. you appoint that board, correct? >> well, i had a discussion yesterday morning with the current head of the u.s. patent and trademark office and i asked her how she was dealing with the matters relating to her former relationship with google, and she outlined what i thought was a very thorough process for recusal and determining recusal a and i would intend to emulate the procedure she has set. >> there's no way to avoid a conflict of interest when the one with that interest is the president of the united states. he is your boss. he's her boss. he is the one who presides over the entire united states government, and you appoint the judges who will sit on that appeals board, correct?
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>> that is correct. >> and so i would respectfully suggest that that conflict of interest is inevitable so long as the president of the united states refuses to divest himself. creating the trust that he has done is no substitute for complete divestiture. i realize you can't order him to do so but you will be, in effect, put in a very difficult, if not impossible, position as secretary of commerce and who has appointing authority over the patent and trademarks office. >> i'm quite sure everyone will be watching all of those matters and, therefore, they will certainly be subject to public scrutiny. >> my time has expired. thank you. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. senator heller? >> mr. chairman, thank you. mr. ross, congratulations to you and to hillary and any family member how may be here or may be watching.
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i'm grateful you're here and grateful you're willing to take this upon yourself. article you referred to based on the questioning from mr. sullivan that you wrote on your four platforms for economic growth, you mentioned regulatory reform. i thought about that a little bit, you said you weren't sure on where the president might be on regulatory reform, what he's going to do the first days in office. not knowing that, what would you recommend to him with your background and experience that would help immediately in regulatory reform? >> well, i think what we ought to do is to try to deal with things that really inhibit business and yet aren't all that important. a kind of cost/benefit analysis. the part of the cbo that reviews
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regulations is a very small department. i think it has fewer than 50 employees. so, many, many new things that have been put in have never had a cost/benefit analysis. i think the majority of them, in fact, have not. it would be very useful to conduct that kind of analysis as part of the process for determining which things should be rolled back and which should be preserved. >> so you don't have any specific recommendation at this point? >> at this point, no. the president has not asked me for a specific recommendation. >> i appreciate your comments on cost/benefit analysis. i've been arguing for that since i've been here in congress. any new regulation that comes out of this committee or any other committee should have to be run through some cost/benefit analysis in order to be assured it isn't costing more than the benefits of that particular regulation.
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let's go down to the balance of trade. you mentioned that as your four steps also. what's your process, thought process, here on increasing trade? >> a couple of things. one, in general, i think it's easier and quicker to negotiate bilateral agreements than it is multilateral, and my concerns about the multilaterals are not that there's anything inherently wrong with them, but as somebody who has negotiated a lot of transactions, i can tell you the more complex the environment within which you're negotiating, the less likely you are to get to a sensible result because what really happens is several things. say you're negotiating with 12 different countries, you go to the first one and you want some concession from them, they say yes, we'll give you that concession but we want something back. so that takes a little nick out
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of us. then you go to the next country, you negotiate with them. they take a little nick. keep doing that 12 times, you get a lot of nicks. and what happens is the other countries get the benefit of things they didn't even ask for because you had to give them to someone else. i think that's a fundamental concern. second -- >> i hate to cut you off because i don't have a lot of time. i take from that you weren't impressed with tpp? >> initially when i read the first press reports of tpp, was very favorable toward it. as i delved into the thousands of pages of document, i came across some things that were not consistent with what had been advertised. give you a couple of examples. one is the concept of tpp was to build a wall around the
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countries that were participants, but in automotive, for example, they permit more than 60% of the content of a car to come from outside tpp and yet have all the tariff benefits. that didn't strike me as the world's best idea, particularly from the point of view of protecting the automotive industry because in automotive, about 70% of the jobs are in the part suppliers, not in the oes. >> again, sorry to cut you off, but i only have a couple seconds. >> i'm sorry. >> wiould that argument be you would then oppose a 35% tariff as the president-elect has proposed on foreign cars? >> i think that's it's a complicated issue whether you should have one flat tariff on everything or whether it should be more tailored to the individual situations.
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>> do you support tariffs? >> i think tariffs play a role both as a negotiating tool, and if necessary, to punish offen r ers who don't play by the rules. >> plm chairman, my time's run out. >> thank you, mr. heller. >> thank you very much. mr. ross, there's been a lot of talk about outsourcing -- >> about? >> outsourcing. >> yes, sir. >> of jobs. we need to continue talking about that. the other side of that is insourcing and i can just tell you in my state of mississippi, we're tickled to death to have toyota, nissan, airbus, yokohama tire, building things for the rest of the world and employing americans right there in mississippi.
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of course, our states have a lot to do with recruiting these industries, but can you highlight for us your ideas about how to have more of this as we try to combat outsourcing of american jobs to other countries, how can we insource companies like nissan and toyota and airbus? >> sure. i think the best incentive for foreign companies to come here is, first of all, we're the world's largest markets and so that's a big encouragement, but if we lowered the corporate tax rate, that would be a further inducement for them to come. right now, we're not competitive in terms of our marginal tax rate with many other countries against whom we compete. take, for example, mexico. the corporate tax rate there is about half what it is in our country. and that's true in many of the
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other countries so i think if we can become more competitive in the tax rate, would be a very good thing not only for keeping american companies staying here, but also for encouraging foreign companies to come here. so i think that's probably the biggest single tool that we could use. >> okay. that's the biggest single tool. you're free to give other suggestions. >> oh, surely. i think the -- some degree of deregulation would also be very, very helpful and if we can use an energy policy that keeps energy costs low, that would be very, very powerful as well. so i'm much more in favor of carrots than of sticks. >> with regard to a 21st century tax structure that puts us more in line with the modern day, and gets us out of 1986, are you
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involved in those discussions at the transition level and will you be part of writing the administration's tax proposal? >> i believe the president will be listening to some suggestions from me, but he has a whole apparatus on tax that's quite independent of me. but because tax is so important to commerce, i hope that he will have some consultation with me. >> well, i think based on your answer to the previous question, the president-elect would be well-advised to listen to you. you've had a lot to say about infrastructure and let me just tell you, i hope i'm able to assist the trump administration in supporting an infrastructure program for the united states of america. infrastructure includes roads,
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bridges, highways, rail. do you consider the build-out of broadband to be part of infrastructure and should it be part of the trump administration's infrastructure plan? >> i think broadband is an essential part. broadband is, to a very large degree, a path to the future. and i think, therefore, it's a very essential component of economic policy all together including the infrastructure component. >> all right. you're going to look around the room here and see people from nevada to hawaii, to mississippi, to nebraska, and a lot of rural folks on this committee. i hope you will commit to this congress and to this committee that you will work with us on
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making rural broadband more accessible and make the build-out more expeditious. >> i certainly will try to cooperate with you. as you know, it's the intersection of myriad policy decisions, some of which are quite outside my control. >> you're probably aware of this, and my time has expired, but you've been around the track. there is a second level of bureaucracy in your department. there's a third level of bureaucracy. you're going to have to fight those people. and sometimes you're going to have to make sure that they understand that elections have consequences. i want to do a shout-out to your predecessor, secretary pritzger, who helped senator cochran and me and the governor of our state and the people in mississippi who wanted to save lives through
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an innovative way to put doctors in emergency vehicles and it took quite an effort on the part of secretary pritzger to cut through that bureaucracy and make sure the law was followed. i hope you can show that kind of determination, too, and we can work on a bipartisan basis with people, with my democratic friends and people on our side of the aisle, too, to cut s through some of this red tape and do things like secretary pritzger did in helping save lives for americans in mississippi. >> certainly in favor of saving lives and i'm clearly certainly in favor of enforcing the laws, so i look forward to working with you on it. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, senator wicker. next up is senator shatz followed by senator gardner. >> thank you for your commitment to serve the public. your predecessor successfully
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negotiated a couple of very thorny issues over the last few years regarding telecommunications, the useu privacy shield and iana transition. the successful transition of the useu privacy shield and smooth transition of the iana functions from the department of commerce to the global multistakeholder community were widely supported by a range of stakeholders including the congress. do i have your commitment to continuity in these respects? >> well, as i understand it, there is no real alternative on the table to the icap situation, so for the moment there's nothing else to consider. i'm not aware that there's a realistic way to do anything about it. on the privacy side, i think we need to balance a couple of things going forward. the treaty -- the agreements
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that exist obviously exist, but i think going forward there will be attention between privacy on the one hand and problems of localization of data and the implications that they have for the internet as we go forward. so i think that's going to be a very tricky balancing act but i look forward to consulting with you on it. >> thank you. in fiscal 2016, the noaa budget was about $6 billion, making up 60% of the department of commerce's budget, but in recent years noaa's budget has stagnated as critical coastal and ocean programs have been held level to pay for satellites. as a result, noaa has had to rely on aging, rundown buoys and ships to measure high-impact global ocean conditions such as el nino. el nino events originate in the western pacific as you know, but their impact is felt around the world. the data that noaa gathers in the pacific using a small network of buoys is essential
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for forecasting these impacts across the country. these noaa coastal and ocean programs are critical but they're not as interesting, not as expensive, as the satellite programs that you referred to earlier. what is the strategy to restore balance to the noaa budget so that all of its critical programs are adequately funded? >> well, the big capital expenditures right now are for the satellites. as you know, there are several more that are scheduled to be launched and then the next biggest capital expenditures will be to update the vessels. as someone who's operated vessels, i'm well aware that old vessels are quite inefficient to operate, number one, and number two, that the technology of these research ships has improved quite a bit in the years since those vessels were built. to the best of my knowledge, they actually are beyond their
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depreciable life, so they're pretty ancient. through appropriations and finance, to wrestle through how much money do we get all together, and how much of that gets spent on what? but i do think that it's important to continue both the existing service functions and meet the very pressing capital expenditure needs. there's a similar problem with cens census. it's been hard getting commitments for the appropriations the census really needs for its mission and that's something i hope we'll have further discussion about as well. >> i'd like to follow up on senator nelson's question regarding scientific integrity. as you know in 2011 noaa adopted an explicit scientific integrity policy essentially ensuring independence for noaa scientists. i'm satisfied with your answer, both in this forum, as well as in our private conversations,
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but just so that the record is totally clear, do you intend to uphold the 2011 scientific integrity policies? >> well, as i've said, i believe that science is science. and scientists should perform science. i haven't studied the intricate details, frankly, of that document, so i can't make a formal commitment to it. but as to the general concept of scientists doing the science, i'm totally in support of that. >> thank withdreyou. finally on the question of trying to facilitate the reaching of our goal with respect to international visitors, and there are a lot of members of this committee who care very deeply about tourism, part of the role of the department of commerce is not just to be a cheerleader for that stated goal that the department of commerce under secretary pritzger established but to serve as a convener
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because there has be wrangling within departments, department of transportation and their throughput capacity. certainly the department of homeland security and customs and border protection. so we can have your commitment to continue the leadership of secretary pritzger in terms of convening the agencies and working with the white house in making sure that as we deal with all of our security, homeland security concerns, that commerce and tourism and those national policy objectives have a seat at the table? >> well, i know secretary designate chao quite well from some of her former incarnations and look forward to work with her on stimulating tourism. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator schatz. >> thank you, chairman. thank you, mr. ross, for being here this morning. thank you to your family for being here. i'm all the way over here on the end. >> oh. >> i know.
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elaine chao was here last week and i think she actually thought i was in the audience sitting over here. thanks for your willingness to serve the country. appreciate the time we've been able to spend together in the office. colorado, we talked a little bit about trades. importance of trade in colorado, $9 billion worth of exports from colorado, $4.5 billion worth of goods annually are sent is to nations in asia and half of our state's exports go to asian nations. given the position of the new administration on the trans-pacific partnership, how do we make sure that we are increasing american exports abroad and just as importantly, what areas, what markets do you see as the most lucrative opportunities for the u.s. in the next four years? >> well, that's obviously a very complex question and we discussed it some in your office. the things we're the best at in many ways are the technologically advanced things. and i think more research and development, more encouragement of technological breakthrough,
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is clearly an important thing, but at the same time, we need to protect our existing industries because they really are very much labor intensive. and i think we also are going to have to cope with the challenge that combined with the opportunity of some of the technological advances. for example, driverless cars are probably a very good thing. they seem to be, in any event, an inevitable thing, but that presumably will also lead to driverless trucks. well, there's something like 3 million american adults who depend on over-the-road trucks for their livelihood and it's a pretty good livelihood. then you also have the shorter trip drivers as well. so i think what we have to do is to figure out how to make sure we get the benefits of the improved technology and yet cope
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with the dislocation that it inevitably will produce in certain of the industries. so i think that's going to be a real balancing act. >> thank you. my opportunities to meet with leaders from around the globe, it's very important that we make sure that we continue to be a leader in trade and exports and commerce because as nations look to other nations for leadership, as they look to economic opportunity, we need to make sure that international norms are set on standards that we believe are best for the world in economic opportunity and not give other nations a chance to take over. u.s. leadership is very important because they're relying on the united states to continue to lead. i want to thank you for your opening statement. senator rubio and i last year, we will continue to work this year, on evaluation of federal spectrum holdings to make sure that we understand the opportunity cost that having that spectrum held and not utilized means to this country and to the government. so thank you very much for that commitme
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commitment. national institute of standards and technology has a laboratory in boulder, colorado, a major campus. of course, one of the key areas of work, boulder, pursues is cyber areas. a nonregulatory approach that ni nista continues and that's their mission. they do a lot of work when it comes to cyber i. i'm concerned about our construct in government, the way congress works, our executive branch works when it comes to understand cyber, being fully capable of implementing ideas that will protect both our private sector as well as national security interests and so will the trump administration, will you at commerce continue to -- can you commit to continue preserving the nonregulatory status to ensure that this work with the private sector on cyber can continue? >> well, i think cyber, if nothing else, was a big enough issue in the campaign that everybody is very sensitized to it for very local reasons. but it is going to be an increasing issue from a whole variety of directions. and, again, it's one of these
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that's very complicated. you don't want to compromise the privacy side of things. on the other hand, you need real-world protection against people who intend to do us harm. economic harm or military harm. so i think that's a difficult thing that will have to be balanced and it wouldn't surprise me at all if that will be the kind of thing that will come before the congress over and over again. >> thank you. in 2015, there were estimates in 2015 that up to $2 billion a day was lost in economic productivity due to the west coast port slowdown. labor agreements for workers of the west coast and east coast ports are scheduled for near simultaneous expiration in both 2019 -- 2019 for west coast, 2018 for east coast. last congress i introduced the ports act which would have provided governors with the flex kt to address slowdowns and strikes at our nation's ports to
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reduce the damage of such catastropk catastrop catastrophes. given how these dates are quickly approaching and future labor negotiations are moving, how do you plan to avoid similar disruptions at our ports and will you commit to making sure we have an understanding report on the economic impact it would have? >> well, that, thank you, is a very good and very complex question. we have tried very hard in our commercial activities to avoid strikes and showdowns, slowdowns and things of that sort. i think in general those are the failure of negotiation and i think, therefore, the first thing is to try to figure out how can there be a better process for negotiation so that we come to a resolution without this sort of showdown at the o.k. corral? i think that's number one. preventative medicine. number two, clearly much more many the province of labor
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secretary than it would be commerce. we will be interested observers and given that we've had a history with successful work with labor to the degree that they want, i'd be glad to give my thoughts on how to try to help. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator gardner. that is an important issue because it affects the supply chain. everybody was very much impacted by that incident a year ago. senator peters is up next. >> thank you, plcht chairman. mr. ross, welcome. the committee. i appreciate the time that we spent in the office together talking about a variety of issues and certainly one thing that i was very pleased to hear was your extensive knowledge of michigan and the industry there, the work you did with the steel industry as well as automotive sector and other industries there. and i am particularly pleased as well with comments you made in regard to a question made by one of my colleagues here related to tpp and the impact that the tpp would have a on the auto
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industry. a very negative impact. particularly with the suppliers in that industry. so it would have had a devastating impact on jobs and it's not about protecting the auto industry. this is just about having fair rules where we treat the auto industry and the workers in america fairly with others and we know we can outcompete anybody as long as the rules are fair. and i appreciate your stance on that and your comments. along those lines, i wanted to address something that is critically important which is enforcement. if we're dealing with any kind of rules, whether they're trade deals or the legal authority under the wto, certainly the administration will play a vital role, in fact, you if confirmed as the secretary of commerce will play a vital role in enforcing those rules. and under current law, the secretary can self-initiate anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations. however, the use of this tool under previous administrations, i'm sad to say, has been
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virtually nonexistent. in fact, i think the last time was in the 1990s. it's been a long time since commerce department has self-initiated these types of investigations. and normally we only have investigations that have initiated after a formal complaint by an industry. you know firsthand about that from your work in the steel industry. and that's a very imperfect process. usually it's large companies with high-priced lobbyists. they getdepartment. if you're dealing with small and mid-sized businesses in gn begun and oa michigan and other states around the country, they don't have the resources and the impact of unfair trade practices often goes unnoticed and unfortunately not investigated. if confirmed, will you be more aggressive and commit to using your legal authority as secretary to enforce the rules protecting against unfair trade practices and self-initiate anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations? >> well, as we discussion ed,
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senator, when i was in your office, i'm an activist and i think that that tool of self-anything initiation is a useful one. industries with a lot of small companies, very hard for them to get the data together, get the funding together and worst of all, it takes a very long time for them to initiate the case. i think the duration of these cases has got to be shortened, and if anything we can do to shorten it at the front end would be good. self-anythi sel self-initiation is a very good tool for that. to me, part of any negotiation is the psychology of the participants and do the degree that we showed them we're willing to self-initiate, that's a more aggressive stand on cheating than perhaps has been exemplified before.
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i think it's important from its actual curative effect, its preventative effect and the psychological effect on the cheaters. >> i appreciate that answer, mr. ross. and i guess the pushback that we have had from previous administrations as we've attempted to do this is that they have said that they lack some of the resources necessary. that's why i've led efforts to fund the interagency center on trade implementation, monitoring and enforcement, which is a mouthful, but what they do is assist our efforts in trying to get these self-initiated enfo e enforceme enforcements. i hope i could enlist your support with bipartisan support here in congress to provide resources necessary to do that critical function. >> we would welcome more resources. >> right. right. final question, as my time is expiring here, the issue of outsourcing is a critical concern as we continue to see american jobs go overseas and i know you are committed to trying to stem that tide and bring jobs back and keep the jobs that we
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have. what i have found is that it's often difficult to get information as to what jobs are actually being outsourced, where jobs are being created. companies and others will report that they're hiring workers but we don't know where those workers necessarily are. we find that information regarding outsourcing is opaque, incomplete and often entirely inaccessib inaccessible. will you, as commerce secretary, commit to work with congress to develop some new corporate transparency measures that will allow us to have that information so that we can make sure our policies are actively addressing the problem of outsourcing? >> well, i have a very heartfelt saying in management that anything you can't measure, you can't manage. so it's one of the things that's good about the commerce department has all kinds of measurement activities and i was not aware that this was a
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particular problem but certainly understanding the parameters of problems helps you figure out how to deal with them. so i look forward to further discussions with you. >> right. thank you. >> thank you, senator peters. senator cortez mastel. >> thank you. welcome, mr. ross. it's nice to meet your wife as well. i want to thank you for taking the time to meet with me and i thought we had a good conversation. want to follow up on some of the comments that you've made, just to put it on the record. i suspect i, based on our conversation, i know where you stand on these, but when it comes to obviously tourism, in nevada, it's an very important issue. most people don't realize just in 2016, alone, there are approximately 43 million visitors to southern nevada that injects $45 billion into our economy and actually provides good-paying jobs for 400,000 nevadans. so something that's very important for nevada is brand usa.
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we've talked about this. i just want a commitment. are you committed to supporting brand usa as it fits into your strategy to promote travel and tourism? >> everything i've heard about brand usa is that it's been positive and that it's been helpful. so in the absence of some sort of contrary information, it sounds to me like a pretty good idea. >> great. thank you. along those lines, the survey of international air travelers is a primary research program which gathers statistical data about air passenger data, u.s., overseas and mexican air markets. the survey data provides information on passenger trip planning, travel patterns, demographics and spending. it is a survey that is used to analyze visitor segments and used by the convention authority in southern nevada and all industry groups and they use the data directly as part of their marketing plans. will you commit to expanding the
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scope and size of the survey of international air travelers so that industry can better target their marketing campaigns and attract more tourists from around the world? >> well as i've said, senator, i'm in favor of the idea that you can't manage things that you don't measure, so we need measurement of those kinds of data. >> thank you. i appreciate that. i'm a big proponent of data analytics and i don't think we do enough of that, particularly in government. a part of your role will be overseeing the minority business development agency. i think the small businesses in the country, in this country, are the backbone of our economy, particularly in nevada, there's over 230,000 small businesses, many of them owned by latinos, asians, african-americans. one thing i find after talking to the small businesses is the lack of access to capital. particularly access to capital for small minority businesses, to contracts and markets. we haven't had a discussion on
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this. i'm questioning your thoughts on promoting and continuing to support minority-owned businesses, not only in nevada but across this country. >> i've been a supporter of minority-owned businesses, in fact, at the international automotive group, we have had a number of joint ventures with minority-owned businesses in the auto parts space. and i think they can be done very, very well and they help develop leadership within those communities so that they can go on and do independent businesses on their own. and i think the automotive industry has been relatively a leader in fostering minority business development. >> so can i get your commitment, i know the minority business development agency has business centers around the country. i think they're underfunded, need more resources to work with
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our small businesses. will you commit to looking at that funding and continue to support those centers? >> as i explained to you, i like the idea. i'm not intimate enough with the details of it yet to know exactly what it needs, but the idea, i certainly support. >> thank you. then finally, we've talked about this as well, many major u.s. corporations are taking public stances supporting immigration reform efforts because we know that by passing immigration reform, particularly just s-744, that would have contributed to our economy. and i know in our private meeting, we talked about this, and you said you were open to anything that will stimulate the economy that is our job at commerce. so a question for you is can you commit today to supporting co i comprehensive immigration reform, positive for the economy and stimulate job growth? >> well, as i said when we were together, anything that stimulates the economy and truth, i would be in favor of.
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>> thank you. mr. ross, thank you so much, and, again, congratulations on your nomination. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, senator cortez s masto. >> i'm over here where senator gardner was. first of all, thank you for being willing to leave your life in private sejter and serve our nation here, truly appreciate that. to me, our number-one priority has to be to grow our economy. to make sure that we realize the full potential of this marvel we call the american economy. what do you believe is the growth potential in the american economy? do you have kind of a figure in your head? >> well, i think we can certainly get north of 3% growth if we do all the elements of . president's program. >> average since the great depression, 3.2%, the american economy. i would hope that's a minimum goal. from my standpoint, there are four main reasons we're not
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achieving that full potential. overregulation, completely uncompetitive tax system. we're not using our resources, and the fourth i often don't list because there's so many lawyers here, tort reform. can you talk about, you know, from your perspective, maybe you got other ones, i nknow you're talking about expanding exports. what do you think are the primary reasons, kind of expand on the answer, if you would, that we're not realizing the full potential of our economy. >> well, i wrote an editorial that outlined the four, what i think are the four or five key planks. regulatory reform, not just wildly abolishing all regulation but doing cost/benefit analysis and having sensible regulation. second, improving our trade balance, particularly by stimulating exports. third, having an energy policy that takes advantage of our natural resources and keeps
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energy prices low. fourth, an infrastructure program that's a sensible one that leads to more efficiency in the economy and a better capability for dealing with the new technologies as they come through. i think if we do all those and we have a sensible tax system, i think the economy will do very, very well. >> talk about your plans, or, you know, what you would think would be best suited toward stimulating exports. >> well, i think the first thing we have to do is to deal with the unfair, both tariff and nontariff trade barriers that other countries impose on us. it's a little weird that we have very low tariffs and china has very high tariffs. that seems to me to be a bit of an imbalance and it's one thing to talk about free trade, we
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would like to have our trading partners also practice free trade and do it in a more balanced manner than has been done at present. so i think a i think american ingenuity and american labor can compete very effectively. >> talk about the trade barriers. you talked earlier about we have to adjudicate the claims in a far more rapid fashion. some countries with whom we have had treaties agreed to lower the tar riff but they will suddenly
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say we will have a different envir envir environmental standard. they don't qualify as environ m environmentally correct. i can't imagine there is -- i eat quite a lot of beef and as far as i know i don't have mad cow disease. leaving that aside it is hard for me to that our beef -- if it
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is good enough for americans so eat it should be good enough for farmers to eat. as you can gather i'm quite familiar with a lot of the tactics because i have been a personal victim of it. >> your approach would be to simply target those abuses? >> yes. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you senator johnson. >> thank you mr. chair and mr. ross. congratulations on your nomination. >> thank you.
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i wanted to touch on about three issues. it has been rated for business friendliness in the country. many of the businesses in new hampshire are small businesses, in fact the majority of them are. during our meeting you emphasized it is one of the main roles in finding ways is to help small businesses find ways to grow and be able to export. new hampshire businesses financed almost $800,000 in exports from new hampshire. how will you coordinate and work with other departments and administrations such as the bank through existing or new collaborative programs the achieve these goals?
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just trying to figure out how to get letters of credit to do the business can be daunting. i think that part of the department of commerce with its field offices needs to be a better outreach to the small business community to say yes, we know it's a big challenge. we are here to help you figure out the letter of credit.
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they never export anything. it can be the best solution and can't be the right solution. >> thank you. >> i wanted to talk about what we can all do to help invasion based companies. we have businesses like retrieve technologyings, silver tech and dine. >> well, i think we need the outreach. there are also private sector enterprises like the national association of manufacturers which has 14,000 mostly smaller companies as members. i'm very grateful they are one
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of the groups they have very similar objectives to what i discussed in your office. >> great. >> there are other groups similar. these state development agencies can also be useful. more and more states have export development agencies not just those to attract factories to their locals. >> thank you. >> third and i know a couple of other senators touched on this this morning i just wanted to touch on a specific issue.
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the industry is more sensitive to changes than many and in the new rules noah said fishermen will have to pay for at-sea monitors. >> it is mow can we setd up for assuring people are adhering to the rules. >> yeah. >> usually putting in
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technological devices is a net savor of cost. it sounds in this particular case like it's the reverse. i would look forward to researching that and trying to figure out how to accomplish the necessary objective of enforcement without putting undue hardship on the small boat fishermen. >> thank you very much. thank you for being here this morning. >> thank you you have an extensive business background and this experience should prove useful at the department of commerce. commerce does everything from forecasting the weather to
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economic development, improved standards of living for americans. i certainly want to work with you to ensure the commerce departments meets the goals in my home state of new mexico. you will be taking a big role on in international trade policy. the president-elect and his family have a wide variety of assets around the world that other countries could seek to use as leverage with the u.s. and negotiation. if confirmed you are committed to divesting your assets.
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as i understand it the rules are different as they apply to apply for the president and i think it's for him to judge what is the appropriate disposition or nondisposition of his asset. to even have a clear understanding of how extensive they are although i know they are quite huge. i think that's really a personal decision he'll have to make. this could raise real conflicts in terms of doing your job.
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will you neat fi if another country threatens consequences to the trump family or trump organizations a selts in the course of your international trade negotiations to promote exports? >> well, anything that interferes with my job is something that i will have very little tolerance for. that i can assure you of. >> and will you commit to this committee? it is kind of a yes or no answer. if another country offers incentives or threatens consequences to the trump family or trump organization assets in the course of doing your job and working on trade if the
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hypothetical is something it would make it difficult to inform anyone of anything. >> in the course of doing your job somebody comes to you with a threat or incentive would you let us at this committee know that that was happening? >> i know the parking light-elect quite well. i think people who threaten him or offer inappropriate things will find he doesn't take that very lightly i think it is important to make sure we keep those conflicts out. mr. ross, democrats understand a lot of the frustration during my
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time and opposed others. for example, i voted against normalized trade relations with china my question really is in using tpa to pass trade deals without amendment from congress, will the trump administration use tpa to pass trade deals without amendment from congress? >> i think he would take into
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consideration everything she he could at that particular point in time. >> do you support the use of tpa for trade deals? >> i think you need to assure your counter party that there's a reasonable and quick process for solving the negotiations. so far tpa is the law of the land. >> sorry for running over. >> thank you for being here today. >> i enjoyed your questions asked by my colleagues. i enjoyed meeting with you last week as well. throughout the 2016 election cycle we heard a lot from president trump about our country's approach to international trade and about the fact that international
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trade generally and a particular international trade agreements have culminated in things that mr. trump insisted were negative consequences -- direct them to use every to end those abuses immediately. i certainly believe that our country should not accept any trade deal or any practice under any trade deal that intheirly harm -- unfairly harms
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americans. can also bring about a set of circumstances that could be adverse to the american people, some unpleasant consequences. there are some risks that have to be taken into account where you have to wonder whether in some cases the medicine might be worse than the underlying ailment will you take into account of reality of american supply chains and take those
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into account and making the decision? >> surely having been part of those supply chains i have some fair understanding tooz how they work my mind set will be that of a world's largest kus me dealing with his vendors. and while you need to treat the vendors with respect they must also treat you as their largest customer both with respect and more importantly playing by the rules of the road and to the degree they don't it must be enforcement because we are a country of the rule of law. some of these other countries are instead the law of the ruler
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it has been a key part of why our economy is so successful. >> i appreciate your willingness to consider the spill over effects. it congress the power to regulate the commerce with foreign nations between the states. do you believe congress should have a role in determines trade
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policy and will you commit to consult with us before taking any action on your own? >> in the final seconds i have i want to know i appreciate your willingness to look and to take a look at the spectrum that the federal government currently holds and to look at areas where we might be able to release some of that federally held spectrum. >> thank you senator lee.
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sneks up is senator young. >> thank you. i would like to begin by asking you a question about the steel industry. in my state of indiana the steel industry employees directly employee roughly 25,000 hoosiers in the midst of other two. this over capacity issue it is one that has come to four of the last eight years. it has routinely pledged to fight very hard on behalf of
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american workers it would have a an expanding role. could you elaborate to push back on practices from china and other steel dumping countries? >> china is the largest but not the only problem in that regard. there is a global problem but it's mainly focused in china there is something like a third of them that never made a profit. it looks and feels and tastes like artificial subsidy. i think we need to be
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sophisticated in the way we look at forms of subsidy. it isn't things like v.a.t. and things like that it's all i think we will be scrupulous if i'm confirmed at dealing with those issues. >> we don't want to jump to conclusions too quickly. one is very quick when prices rise to -- when prices are the same level roughly. they charge parallel pricing and when a competitor has undercuts we often say dumping is going on. we want to make certain we are sure that's what's occurring. we want to act and we want to act boldly. i hear your commitment to do that here today. >> many have global supply
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chains, something that was invoked. gm's assembly employees nearly 400 hoosiers. toyota roughly 4,500 hoosiers and a whole distinct recreational vehicle industry. can you reassure the tens of thousands of hoosiers that their livelihoods will not be put at risk by restrictive tariffs that might interrupt the global supply chains? >> as i have said quite often publicly i think the best way to deal with the trade deficit is increased exports. i think that's the number one
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priority. the number two is to get companies like that to build their factories here so that workers do have not only continued employment but enhanced employment. i think with the right policies we can accomplish that. >> it's your goal that you consult with others in the administration for there to be no interruption to those hoosiers, tens of thousands who are currently employed in the auto industry who rely upon global supply chains. >> i well understand that having been part of it. >> yes, sir. i very well understand it. tariffs do have a useful role. they have a useful role as a
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negotiating tool i'm aware of our trade in particular. that kind of approach didn't work very well and it didn't work very well then and it very likely wouldn't work very well now. >> i'm encouraged at that those will inform your practices as the next head of the agency. thank you. >> thank you senator young. duckworth is up next. >> you ready? >> sthathank you. we had microphone issues. >> thank you for visiting with me last week that rule breakers
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should be held accountable. we should exercise our rights to enforce those rules and penalize the breakers. we talk about the fact illegal steel dumping has had and particularly in illinois where it has contributed to over 2,000 steel workers just days after christmas. i have been pushing for stronger enforcements that make it difficult for american manufacturers including steel to compete. will you work with me to crack down on currency manipulation? >> yes. i think currency manipulation is another non-tariff barrier that countries use to attack our
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economy i told you the story of u.s. steel in illinois where because of dumping they have to cut down production and laid off all of these workers but the steel company itself that was going into bankruptcy had to bring the case to the international the court system. that is an unfair burden on companies that are already suffering from the current manipulation by competitors. could you speak a little more to this? >> yes. i like the idea of using self-initiation to bring these cases. it will shorten the duration of
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the preparatory time and if we are also stricter about not granting extensions to the perpetrators. historically they refuse to comply on a timely basis with requests for information. i'm not going -- if confirmed i would not look very kindly on the perpetrators deliberately delaying cases by not providing information. >> you have mentioned the potential in our meeting for having a special liaison or someone who would be the point person -- and you can correct my phrasing, for bringing forth these cases when american industry is being unfairly burdened so that it's not on the shoulders of u.s. steel to bring the case to the international court system but that they have someone already looking out and
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able to be that point person. can you talk about how you would set that up? >> we are not going to initiate every case but i think by initiating them it will a, send a message to the people on the other side that we are getting more serious about this. second, it would definitely accelerate the process and i'll figure out some way to allocate people power to that activity. it will be a much more important activity if i'm secretary of commerce than it had been historically. >> thank you. i think for the families of those steel workers time is of the essence. they are the ones missing mortgage payments and the one that is have to tell their
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children you can't go back to college because we can't afford tuition. anything we can do to speed up that process for any of merng's industry, not just the steel workers. what will you give so more companies can grow through high-tech opportunities? >> i think it's an essential thing. those are some of the industries of the future. i think what we will need to do is find people who have the technological capabilities. one of the problems is our educational system is stinting unstemmed science, technology, engineering and math courses. we are also stinting on vocational training. so one of the problems is
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there's a lack in some of the minority communities of the capabilities to do that. that's a very serious problem we can hope to cope with some of that with apprenticeship programs. we are the worst on having apprenticeship programs. we are also the worst on having vocational training. >> thank you. what are you doing for existing minority owned businesses today? i'm out of time. >> thanks. >> well, the entity within commerce i have been told has done a pretty big job. i hear people are pretty satisfied with what it's been doing. there is always more you can do to be more aggressive in
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helping. i will work with the staff to try to figure out how we can most sensibly expand those activities. >> thank you. mr. ross, i would defer to you in terms of when or if you would like a break. we have a number of members to get through and a couple who would like to ask questions in the second round. i assume at some point you would like to take a break. >> i could go another ten minutes, sir. >> okay. we have in order right now senator booker and senator fisher. >> thank you for coming to sit
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with me. i want to start with the first issue when you came to my office and that is infrastructure. in last week's hearing with nomin nominee chou she told me she believes it will include dprekt federal spending. know we talked about the totality of the picture. it really only talked about tax breaks to private investors. we both know there are many ways to invest in projects especially those as we discussed that don't have a clear obvious revenue stream especially those that often effect people in rural areas, people in poor communities, people that often need krcritical infrastructure. your report says rightfully there are about 2,000 additional
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water systems with seszive levels of contamination. do you agree that preparing and rebuilding water infrastructures in places like flint and newark requires double spending especially given the consequences of children that elevated blood lead levels is directly correlated to poor performance in school to the most important economic agents in our nation. lead itself undermines in the economic marketplace. >> those are a platter of public policy. it will take cooperation between the congress and the president to solve what i put out is a
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tool, not to be the be all and end all. i think there is a role for government to play in dealing with infrastructure needs. >> so you support direct spending by government on infrastructure? >> i think there will be some necessity for it. whether it's in the form of guarantees or direct investment or whatever but it's really for congress and the president to figure out what should be the quantity of it and what should be the nature of the project. >> if people were concerned about debt you night call it the greater new ark metro area.
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it could be a wise business investment, yes? >> as you know, i think the content of infrastructure construction can go a long way towards offsetting tax revenue that aren't there. labor content is around 44% in an infrastructure project. if the you allow for the wages on that and you allow for taxes on the profit of the contractor you have something coming back in. >> i appreciate it. it could be really economically stimlative. >> yes. what is the criteria for projects to be included and will that list be shared soon and do you and the president-elect trump request on federal
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spending for the high priority projects? >> i don't think the list has been refined as yet. you probably saw recently they play a big role in determining what are the key projects and how to implement them. >> and not just because you're the young man born and raised in new jersey and she obviously from new jersey as well. you understand that the busiest river crossing in all of north america is the mhudson river crossing. the fact that the infrastructure is failing now. it is critical we open up the stint you understand the urgency
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of that project. >> i surely do. >> they made that crossing. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> next up. >> thank you for your willingness to serve this country and the position of secretary of commerce. as you know the department of commerce has put a lot of work to encourage would you plan to continue to collaborate with
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both private stake holders and other government entities, including congress, to encourage the development of the internet of things? >> i think all need encouragement it is not a simple subject he was kind enough to have me be very much involved with that. i was impressed with how willing the high-tech people were to work with the new administration to try to deal with these kinds of issues even though as it happens during the campaign we would not necessarily get sfrort
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them. some have followed up with me for more significant suggestions. i look forward to that. >> that's good to hear. as you know, when we look at all that can be created and the invasion and really the business growth will be a huge area for growth. i enjoyed working with him on a bipartisan bay son. we also discussed during our meeting that agriculture is the economic engine of the state of nebraska. in fact cattle outnumber people 4-1 in our state. nebraskans work hard to produce food e fiber and fuel for the rest of the world.
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exported accounted for about 4 billion. that is why access to global markets is really extremely important to my constituents. if confirmed what approach do you believe you will take to ensure we have those global market opportunities and that they available for industries like nebraska where we can continue to grow and develop? >> it is certainly one of the industries where we remain the world leader in technology and in execution so it's one of the very strong points of our economy. second of all, many of the other countries are trading partners and literally cannot feed themselves. they will have to buy food from somewhere outside. take china, for example.
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only 13% of the huge land mass because so much of it is desert and so much is just not farmable. there is some structural disadvantages that many of our trading partners have where they very much need us. i think it's something not to be feared in the negotiations. i think it's one of our strengths. it comes from two places, u.s. and brazil. i don't know where they would get them if they some how tried to cut us off. >> right. thank you. >> there was talk about federally held spectrum which the ntia has an important role in making available for commercial use which i think is a lotable goal. i am a member of the senates armed services committee.
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i believe it is also important that the agencies that have are responsible have the spuk trum they need to do that. how would you approach the task of balancing the commercial sectors needed while still obviously recognizing but also putting as a priority the importance of our national security and making sure we have the spuk trum it is in the department of defense. first is do no harm. we can't compromise homeland security at all but we also need to be rational.
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one of the tricky problems is how do you incentivize to give it up? i think we should all give thoughts to. >> thank you very much. thank you. >> thank you senator fisher. how are we doing? >> it would be an good time. >> let's reconvene as quickly as possible. thank you. we will briefly recess. >> thank you, chairman.
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okay. we are back. we'll pick up where we left off and start with senator cruz for his questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >>congratulations. >> i'll tell you one of the things i'm most excited about. you and i had an opportunity to
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visit at length your commitment to working to reduce the burdens of washington on small businesses an job creators is critically important and shared by cabinet appointees throughout this administration and that is one aspect it that will have on bringing back jobs and expanding the number of high paying jobs and raising wages across the country. i commend you for that. i want to talk about a number of specific areas. and at remarkable levels. indeed u.s. mobile data and
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spectrum is always scarce the federal government owns or cares roughly half of the spectrum. they very reluctant to give up or share any of the spectrum they have control of. it is an opportunity in that it provides the potential for billions of dollars of revenue to the federal government while at the same time opening up new spectrum that can create million of high-paying jobs and increase wages across the country. i want today ask you, i think there is room far lot of creative policymaking, working with your fellow cabinet members who have control of spectrum to find a way to incentivize those ageneral is to work and have it be a win-win all around. i want to ask you to comment on
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that and work with me and work with this committee to explore significantly increasing what's available and the revenue that would be available to the federal government. you need to turn your microphone on, sir. >> i think it's absolutely essential that we do that. i think the tricky part is the one you and i discussed at some length the question is how do you provide some sort offen in -- of an incentive. if there's something else i would do my best to put that
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into effect but i don't see anything immediately obvious. >> i look forward to our working together and to solve that together creatively. let me shift to a different topic. there has been growing concern about china making acquisitions in the united states and among other things gaining significant influence in the u.s. movie industry. entertainment companies engage in self-censorship because of foreign ownership. that concerns all of us who care about free speech and do not want to see speech censored by other nations. do you share those concerns and what steps do you see potentially we could take to mitigate those concerns?
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>> it's not just food. food is certainly an element of national security by any measure but it's also little high-tech companies but the technology potentially is. i am very concerned about that. the world's largest consumer second, when president-elect trump convened the high-tech ceo's a few weeks ago i was struck to learn from them that the closer they get to content the more constrictive the chinese are on their activities
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so it seems not very reciprocal and yet are denying anything getting remotely close to that. so there isn't even a balance. that's a separate problem that's characteristics with a lot of relationships. >> i look forward to working with you. my time has expired. this dme expressed considerable concern it is the basic infrastructure to foreign countries including countries like russia and china and iran. do you share those concerns and will you commit to working to ensure we protect free speech and we do not allow enemies of free speech to exercise authority that restricts our freedoms here in america?
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>> it is in the govern nance of this activity. it strikes me as incorrect solution but i'm not aware of what we can do right now to deal with that. it exists if some realistic alternative comes up i would be interested to help explore. >> thank you. who is up next? >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. ross, it's good to see you again. i appreciate you coming by my office last week to discuss various trade issues. that's where i want to start. you authored the trump trade doctrine. it's something i think ashared with you at first glance. like you and president-elect
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trump i believe we need a new approach to trade. it strengthens in states like wisconsin. i hope that we can work together to achieve these goals in the years ahead while trade has gained a lot of national attention recently it's really been on the top of my mind for many years and certainly my constituents too. given that we share some of the trade priorities i think we take the opportunity to drill down a bit further into some of your plans to ensure that they will
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ensure opportunities who have really formed the brunt of some bad trade deals very directly. mr. ross, you and the president-elect have spoke often about the desire to renegotiate one of the trade agreements, nafta. i too have concerned with that agreement, most notably the prohibition of bi-america programs. it allows mexican and canadian companies to bid for taxpayer financed as domestic companies. can you commit to eliminating the procurement chapter in nafta? >> it will be a topic and that
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would come up so exactly what would come in a final treaty or not is a little bit premature to say. i'm certainly aware of the issue -- >> going forward, do you believe that our trade agreements should allow foreign companies to bid as american companies for taxpayer funned projects? >> i think it's a highly questionable practice and i think that it is one that has to be done with extreme care. there are probably some few segments where there may be a
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technology that someone has that we can't avail ourselves of. there may be some circumstances where it's totally appropriate. many countries have the equivalent. it's not an unusual factor. the chinese most of all have very good strong policies. i think there should be a reciprocity and if if companies can't bid on projects there it doesn't strike me as very logical they should be able to bid on projects here. reciprocity is fundamental principal and one that's mostly honored in the breach by some of our major trading partners. >> in the trump economic plan
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you discuss the outsourcing by both a push of undersome american regulations and the pull from foreign countries who do not have their labor or envir environmental standards. you have also been critical of the obama administration and actions to protect labor rights doe m domestically. -- or only to lowering ours? >> the existing trade agreements have a very very weak enforcement in general and weak enforcement on environmental and labor. the minimum wage in mexico has barely changed for quite a few years. the pay so depreciated quite a
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lot against the dollar. so on a purchasing power basis the average mexican worker is far worse off than he or she was 5 or 10 years ago. that was not the original intent of nafta. one of the original intents was to bring up the standard of living there, make it more stable and more prosperous and redou reduce the gap between the two countries. it hasn't worked that way and that has to be -- or if i'm confirmed will be a very serious conflict for consideration. >> thank you, senator baldwin. >> mr. ross. thank you very much for your interest in public service and your care for americans and their jobs. let me first just associate myself with what the senator
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from mississippi indicated to you in the conversation we had in my office. i would add to his expansion, particularly in rural and unserved areas. and so mr. wicker raised that topic with you. i won't spend any more time on it. i want to talk a bit about spectrum wireless. first of all, senator udall and i have worked on legislation that was included in the bipartisan budget act of 2015. it provided more funding and flexibility for federal agencies to use the spectrum reallocation fund for research and development related to their spectrum activities. it was our intention this additional funding and flexibility would result in a more efficient use of spectrum by federal users and free up more government spectrum for commercial use.
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omb oversees that fund but it does so in consultation with the national telecommunications and information administration that's part of the department of commerce. i'd like to have you assure me that the srf will be utilized to achieve those goals in your administration at the department of commerce and as a follow-on i would indicate to you in following the senator from nebraska's commentary about the use of spectrum, there's a 2011 gao report that basically said the ntia needed to improve its spectrum management policies to improve more efficient use of federal spectrum and the way i read that i think it bluntly indicated that ntia while it oversees the spectrum it is often pushed around by bigger federal agencies and departments and therefore it's difficult to get those agencies and departments who have little incentive to cooperate to give
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up their valuable spectrum and i would ask you what can be done at ntia to get this to work better than it does today? >> well, i don't intend to be pushed around by anyone. >> i like the answer. it also allows me to ask an additional question. we've taken a special interest in the efficiency of i.t. procurement and you indicated in your testimony that it's an area that you have interest in. senator udall again and i introduced an act we call move it. it later evolved into a legislation that is designed to better accommodate agencies who seek to update their i.t. systems but they're unable to do so in their current budget framework. i again would ask you to commit attention toward modernizing the
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department of commerce and its infrastructure particularly its legacy i.t. do you believe the federal government can better leverage cloud-based solutions to increase security in. >> i'm a very big proponent of cloud. we've used it a lot in private sector. and as nar as we can tell it is not only more efficient, it is probably also more secure for lots of very complicated technical reasons. i think it's a very important thing for government to do. and also to have systems that talk to each other. there's an awful lot of siloing both within commerce and outside of commerce. and i think that is not a very satisfactory end result. we need to all be on similar quality and efficiency of communication. i think the tricky part of it is
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where do you get the funding to make the changeover? because there are some one-time costs to doing these. commerce already has several initiatives under way. and i'm certainly encouraged by what i've learned about those. and i think much more could be done. >> mr. ross, thank you. i would indicate that too many times the headline issues that we can deal with are left -- they overcome the good government issues that so desperately need attention. let me finally say that, as i indicated in my office, that trade is important, exports is an important matter to kansans. manufacturing of airplanes sold around the globe. agriculture commodities. i would highlight that for you. but i would also point out the view that china recently increased its anti-dumping duties and its anti-subsidy tariffs on u.s. dried distiller's grain. the decision came just days after the chinese government decided to increase tariffs on
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u.s. ethanol from 5% to 30%. kansas farmers also continued to be held back by china's refusal to approve new varieties of biotech corn, which happened in 2014. i support a wto case challenging china's domestic support of rice, corn, and wheat. my point is that too often we negotiate trade agreements and they're designed to level the playing field in regard to tariffs that in all the other issues that a country can bring to play we high-five ourselves with the satisfaction of reaching a trade agreement but then we miss the point of defending and fighting the other things that prevent our products from getting into other countries. and it seems compatible with what you've been testifying. >> it is. i've been a victim over the years of some of these untariffed trade barriers, and they're quite insidious. but also unfortunately they can be quite effective.
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we need to deal with those. it's not enough to have a trade agreement that just hits tariffs. and it's one of the reasons i think there should be systematic reopeners of trade agreements after a few-year period, because it's hard to anticipate the ingenuity that some of these folks have to get around the intent of the agreement. so i think an automatic reopener, whether it's a sunset provision or just a reopener, would be a very useful thing to look back on what was originally contemplated, look back on what was originally projected to occur and say if we didn't achieve those objectives why not and what do we need to do to fix them? i think an agreement like nafta is more than 40 years old and there's never been a systematic transparent review of it. >> mr. ross, if you're confirmed, i intend to be gum on your shoe with regard to the
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exports of agricultural products and commodities from kansas and manufactured airplanes and other things we do in the global economy. >> i got that impression the other day, sir. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, senator moran. he's gum on our shoe a lot too. we've been -- just to that point, we've been victims, my state has, our agricultural producers, particularly bee producers, of this gaming, and we call it honey laundering, which is the -- something the chinese have been particularly effective at. and we do need to enforce our laws and make sure that people are playing by the rules. very important issue to a lot of people on this committee. senator capito. >> good afternoon now, mr. ross, and thank you as well for joining me in my office last week. i enjoyed our conversation. i just want to reiterate a few of the issues you and i talked about, and no surprise here for you in what's important for the state of west virginia. we talked about the transitioning of our state from a coal economy hopefully to more
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high tech. keeping our coal economy going but also trying to diversify. and one of the administrations under the department of commerce is the e.d.a. recently the e.d.a. has taken a renewed interest at my and other people's urging to really look at the severe job loss in our regions and to use those dollars to maximize the effect of entrepreneurship, capacity building, and other ways for us to diverse up our economy, whether it's agriculture, high-tech, energy sector jobs. so i would just like to reiterate to you since the last two years we've made good strides here that this is important. even though it's not a large agency in terms of appropriation it does and can have a far-reaching effect in the distressed areas in our country where i'm living and where many of us are. so i would just like to reiterate my commitment and hopefully your commitment to
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work together to see that the e.d.a. continues the progress we've made over the last several years. >> yes. i think e.d.a. can be a very valuable source of seed money for projects and kind of matching things, triggering other sources of economic help to get things jumpstarted. i think that given its budgetary constraints that's probably the most that it can do. but i think that can be a very valuable function if properly applied. >> it absolutely can. and in some of the rural areas where we have trouble attracting capital and attracting investment it can be first in or last in and have some complete projects at the same time. i don't want you to think that you're in an echo chamber but i am going to talk about rural broadband, which we discussed. i was really pleased to learn and you told me that day that you reiterated in your remarks that you have some direct experience with broadband deployment in the state of florida. a little bit different terrain
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than the state of west virginia than that's for sure. but the rural areas are really behind here. and again, if we're transitioning or if we're going to go to the next economy, if we don't have that stool of infrastructure development we're going to be further behind. secretary chao was here last week. i reiterated to her how important i think an infrastructure package has to include broadband deployment in the underserved and unserved areas. and since you have experience in this issue i'm sure you can see what it can do to the development of areas that have been undeveloped and what it can do for health care, education, and other aspects of people's quality of life. so i look forward to working with you in this area and learning from you on the best ways to get to that broader and bigger elimination of the digital divide that exists. >> thank you very much, senator. >> lastly, i mentioned to you that -- and i was glad in your
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remarks you talked about noaa and how important it is from the aspect of living in florida. noaa has i large and significant presence in west virginia and i can reasonably state it was probably an earmark from senator robert c. byrd. it's still there and doing well and it's the primary backup for all of noaa's emergency contingency operations. it's key to making sure, for instance, the go-16 satellite that was just launched, this facility serves as the consolidated backup facility for the mission. we've still got capacity to grow here. so we're hoping that noaa, because i have confidence in our abilities now, will work with us in west virginia to grow that footprint and use us as the highly technical skilled folks that we have. and we're growing a technology corridor down through sort of the middle of the state to try to work with that. i want to work with you with noaa and hopefully we can visit those facilities together. >> from everything i've heard noaa is quite happy with the
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relationship they have with the local community there. >> that's great. the fbi's right down the street. so maybe they have to be happy. thank you very much for -- sorry, i think i might be the last one of the -- oh, no. i forgot chairman inhofe right to my left here. i appreciate it and i look forward to working with you at the department of commerce and look forward to voting in the affirmative for your nomination. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you, senator capito. senator inhofe is next. >> thank you. mr. ross, i enjoyed first of all the visit i had in my office. and i'll make mine quicker than most of them. i do apologize the reason for all of us being late is that in my case we have our oklahoma attorney general has been nominated to be the director of the epa and i have more than just a casual interest in that. in fact, the last four of the members here are late because they were up at that hearing. so this is not the way it should be, i suppose, but it's the best we can do. let me just mention one thing.
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way back when nafta was passed in our delegation of seven members from oklahoma i was the only one who voted against it. and i would just like to be drawn into the loop as you make progress on changes you may want to make just so that we'll be aware of that. you can perhaps participate in a small way. >> i believe there is a consultative process provided in the tpa regulations and that therefore there will be at least that level of consultation. >> good. i talked to you also about taiwan being the close friend and ally of the united states and our ninth largest trading partner that's very significant. and we can further strengthen the u.s.-taiwan relationship by engaging in direct bilateral trade agreements. now, these negotiations would need to address taiwan's current ban on importing pork containing
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rectopomine, a food additive that the chairman of this committee has talked about, some of the things we want to do with taiwan. i would say as secretary would you just consider prioritizing united states trade relationship with taiwan and consider laying the groundwork for a direct bilateral negotiations? >> as you know, that's a very complex issue -- >> i know it is. >> -- because of the one china two, china policies. so i think there we would need some guidance from the president as to what direction he wishes to go. >> and that's the very reason i worded it the way i did. just consider. as i mentioned in my office, you were kind enough to give me quite a bit of time. i've had a very close relationship with africa. i've actually made 144 african country visits. i am concerned about africa and our lack of good relationship that we've had historically.
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now, when we did our ndaa, national defense authorization act, i put an amendment on there that we titled the african free trade initiative act that was passed that is now a part of the bill that is going to take care of our ndaa needs for the next year. now, it's a step in the right direction to partner and secure deeper ties with a fast-growing economy such as that in sub-saharan africa. there are nations eager to engage in direct bilateral negotiations on trade with the united states, and i just would hope that you would work with me to focus u.s. trade efforts in africa. >> it's almost impossible to imagine ignoring such a large continent with such rapid growth to it with such strategic importance and potentially such economic importance. so clearly there's a role for us to play. with africa.
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and i think one of the concerns that we should all share is that china has been all over the map in africa, building high schools, building soccer playing fields, doing all kinds of things, and gobbling up natural resources as well. nature abhors a vacuum, and to the degree we've let a vacuum be created there there's a countervailing force that's going to fill it, and that's not us. >> that is a beautiful response. i appreciate that very much. i might add china doesn't even use their labor when they're in these projects. so anyway, i look forward to supporting your confirmation. thank you very much for being willing to do it. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you, senator inhofe. and i think last up in the first round is senator marky. senators capito and inhofe both left time on the clock. i think that's the first time that's happened. senator markey. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much.
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mr. ross, we're in the world of the internet of things. as the internet is built into the appliances which we use, the machines which we use, the automobiles, the suvs. everything now is part of the world of the internet of things. but iot isn't just going to stand for internet of things. it's also going to stand for the internet of threats. to the security, to the privacy of all americans as this technology is built into every device. so as we move forward, we have to think at the same time about cyber security, about privacy, about what are the protections which we're going to give to americans so that their privacy and security is not constantly subject to compromise? could you tell the committee what your views are on that issue and what you would
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recommend that we do in order to protect americans? >> well, we've had some direct -- i've had some direct experience with it. as you know, we've invested in a number of small and medium-size banks around the country, and even they are subject to cyber attacks from all over the place. some are just from hackers who seem to want to prove that they can do it. but others are evil ones trying to steal people's identities, trying to steal people's money, all kinds of things. so it certainly is a serious problem. and it's the unfortunate flip side of interconnectedness is how do you balance interconnectedness and two-way communication and multiple-way everything with protecting people? i think we need to be extremely vigilant and keep developing new and better systems because the
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people who have bad intent are certainly trying to develop new and better ways to break in. continuing challenge. >> i've introduced legislation which is essentially a cyber labeling program that would just say to industries of the united states you have to label devices in terms of how secure they are from being hacked, from having privacy compromised. what do you think about that idea, and don't you think on a voluntary basis that is something that we could ask for american industry now to adopt as a practice? >> i'm quite sure that american industry is becoming more and more sensitized to the problem. there's no company i know of of any size whatsoever that hasn't been having these threats ranging from electric utilities to every other kind of endeavor.
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so i think everybody appreciates the problem. exactly what's the solution and whether one size fits all i think is a more complicated issue and one that needs a lot of very thorough investigation. >> and i appreciate that. the one problem, of course, is that there are many companies that are never going to invest in cybersecurity protections. and that is where the problem is going to be created, where the vulnerability is going to be created. so i look forward to working with you on that. senator fisher and i have introduced the federal spectrum incentive act, which offered new incentives for federal agencies to relinquish underutilized spectrum. i know that senator cruz just asked about whether we should incentivize federal agencies to vacate or share spectrum they don't need. will you commit to working with
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senator fisher and i so that we can try to find a way of moving forward legislation that does create those incentives for the federal agencies to free up the spectrum that the private sector could use? >> right. well, i think it probably would need to be a legislative solution because it's really clear to me that commerce does not have the power to do it on its own. so to the degree that there's going to be an incentive given, i think it would absolutely have to be legislated. >> new bedford, massachusetts is the highest-grossing fishing port in the united states. what actions would you support to ensure that seafood brought to the market is legally caught and sustainable? >> i think it's very, very important. for one thing, in terms of the domestic catch clearly the objective should be the maximum sustainable yield. so that as a starting principle.
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but also a lot of the imports that come in are produced under conditions that would not be tolerate tolerable in the united states and i think that needs to be dealt with. it needs to be dealt with also at the port level. my understanding is that if a shipment of food comes in that for whatever reason is rejected at a given port all that happens is then that vessel diverts to another port and hopes to get the same food in. well, since only 2% of the cargos are ever inspected that means they've got a 98% chance to get away with it the second time. and meanwhile, the food is a couple of days older and perhaps couple of days' worse condition. so i think we need to deal with it the a whole series of levels. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator markey.
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and again i would echo about what's been said about finding more spectrum. 16 billion wireless devices today and headed toward 50 billion by 2020. it's absolutely essential. senator blumen that'll i think wanted to ask some additional questions. >> i have a few questions. as you know, one aspect of the very broad and varied responsibilities that you would have if confirmed pertain to fighting boycotts of american companies that in effect refuse to do business with companies -- with countries, israel is one, where action has been taken. your department has within its authority the bureau of industry and security, which is tasked with with prohibiting businesses with a u.s. presence from boycotting those countries like israel based on foreign laws or
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at the request of a foreign government. in 2015 i wrote to the commerce department and i was joined by a number of my colleagues, including several on the committee, senators booker, schatz, and markey. we wrote in response to a number of claims and incidents in which travelers with israeli passports were denied, and we wrote to the united states department of transportation which agreed that the incidents warranted further inquiry. the department of commerce in effect deflected our inquiry providing little information or concern. that raises for me a very important overall issue, standing up to efforts to boycott israel or any other country in these kinds of business dealings. i'm asking you to commit to make this issue a priority and agree
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to enforce the anti-boycott laws to the fullest extent of your authority. we're talking about existing laws that need enforcement. >> i believe, senator, that the president-elect has made clear his pro-israel attitude. and i certainly would do my part to uphold the laws. >> thank you. i'd like to ask you also about cybersecurity, following up on the very helpful comments you've just made. as you know, this nation sunder cyber attack literally every day from the russians, chinese, north koreans. there have been repeated instances of it. in this very room where the armed services committee meets and holds hearings. i'm a member of that committee. we've heard chilling and staggering accounts about the extent and magnitude of cyber warfare. would you agree that this nation has to develop better policies
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to deter and punish the russians and other countries that currently are attacking us literally every day and interfering with our economic system, threatening our economic network, our electronic grid, our transportation system, as well as our military defense? >> i absolutely do, senator blumenthal. to me the most terrifying form of warfare would be if there was some simultaneous cyberattack on our grid, on the banking system, and on our transportation system. that would be quite a devastate thing. and yet in theory absent some real protective measures that could happen. >> and we should send the russians or any other country that would threaten us in that way an unmistakable message that such an attack will be met by a
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aggressive, effective response. >> i think we don't have very much choice because the danger is both large and imminent. >> and imminent is also extraordinarily frightening because so much of our nation depends on the interconnection between different sectors of our economy and our private sector needs to be given impetus to do better. >> yes. it was either in my discussion with you or perhaps with senator markey that we talked about the situation where a fellow had a generator in his house in case the power went off but the generator was interconnected. or it was on natural gas which would presumably also get cut off. so partial prophylactics are not
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a very good solution in that area. we need things that are quite all-embracing and quite thorough. >> would you agree with me that deterrence against this kind of attack should include measures not only in the cyber domain but also economic sanctions if necessary? and foreign exchange sanctions? >> i think what we need is an overall coordinated policy to deal with the cyber problem. but it gets into a lot of departments that go well beyond commerce. as you're aware. >> i fully agree. but commerce can play and should play an important role. >> i promise you we're on it. >> one last question. i will be introducing a measure that would prohibit look-alike toy guns, which can cause tragedies. you may be familiar with the tragedies that have occurred
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around the country where police in tense situations encounter sometimes young people with look-alike toy guns that they mistake for real weapons. and the result is the police respond by using their weapons and people may be injured or killed. the measure that i'm going to introduce will strengthen the protections against those kinds of look-alikes or toy guns. i am asking for your support because the secretary of commerce along with the commissioner of consumer protection, the cpsc, would have responsibility for developing regulations under this law asking for your support to ensure that toy look-alike or imitation firearms are not allowed to enter commerce unless
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they are made abundantly clear to be toy guns. will you commit to supporting such legislation? >> i look forward to reading the legislation and discussing it with you, senator. >> do you agree in principle that this kind of protection is necessary? >> i think anything that prevents people from being killed or injured unnecessarily is a good idea. but we'd have to look -- i'd have to look at the actual draft legislation. >> in the course of your investments or other endeavors have you ever done any work on smart guns? >> smart guns? no, sir. what is that? >> well, guns that may be limited to firing or use if they had the biometric kinds of -- >> oh. i've heard of it. i've never seen them in action.
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and so i don't really have a very well-formed opinion of them. >> well, i look forward to talking to you about this topic. i'm out of time. and you've been very patient because you do have jurisdiction over the national institutes of standards and technology, which could play a part in developing standards and technology or smart gun. >> well, developing standards for any innovative process is obviously a very critical function and one that the department takes quite seriously. >> i hope you will take this one seriously. i know you will. >> i will, senator. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. senator sullivan. >> thank you, mr. ross. i know you heard that a number of us are moving between committees for other confirmation hearings. if i ask a question you've already answered, please bear with me. but i've very much appreciated your focus. in earlier rounds of questions on economic growth when you were talking about energy, as you know, in alaska we have a lot of
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it and we need to produce more of it. and we're very much looking forward to having aan executive branch that wants to help us, not stop us from producing energy like we have with the obama administration. rolling back some of the unnecessary regulations, infrastructure, and then trade. and i think on the issue of trade i know you've answered a couple questions on it. but as you and i discussed, i believe the trump administration's going tonight first administration in u.s. history to come into office with trade promotion authority. and a flub number of us support that in part because president obama got two years of it but we were hoping the next president would be a republican and would have four years of it. that's happened. the administration doesn't have to spend one ounce of political capital on getting tpa and -- that's usually hard to get over the goal line. can you just talk a little bit about your views on bilateral
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trade, priorities, but also there have been reports in the press about some kind of 35% tariff that would seem to me to be about as anti-growth as possible. i know you mentioned in some of your answers smoot holly. but how are you going to look at the trade element and really take advantage of practices an enormous opportunity which is tpa that you can use? it's a very, very powerful tool to help american exports. >> tpa is an important tool because what it gives is relative assurance to the party with whom you're negotiating that you can deliver because any negotiation is handicapped if you're not sure the other guy can deliver on what has been negotiated. so it's a big help in that regard.
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there are in consultative steps that are required vis-a-vis between the president and the congress on tpa. i'm quite sure that if he uses it the president-elect will adhere to those requirements. so those are good and useful components of the trade process. in terms of the 35% and some of the other statements, i think the president has done a wonderful job preconditioning the other countries with whom we'll be negotiating that change is coming. the peso didn't go down 35% on accident. even the canadian dollar has gotten somewhat weaker. also not an accident. so i think he has done some of the work already that we need to do in order to get better trade deals because when you start out
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with the adverse party understanding that he or she is going to have to make concessions that's a pretty good background for any negotiation to begin. so i'm very grateful that he's made this task a little bit easier by alerting everybody a change is coming. >> would 35% tariffs be pro growth or not? >> i think that the pro-growth thing is stimulating exports much more than just curtailing impor imports. countervailing duties and punishment for people for dumping is essential. because there are inappropriate and illegal trade practices being performed and if you don't really punish them you're never going to modify their behavior. so there's certainly a role for it in.
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>> let me ask you about a related question. when you talk about trade tools there's been a lot of focus on china. that's in the area of reciprocity. right now as you know there's stories and it's happening, china has two very large investment funds where they're buying up strategic companies in western europe, trying to in the united states. some are strategic. some are just important. they're looking certainly at the movie industry in hollywood and chip manufacturers. and yet i think it's fairly common knowledge that if our companies wanted to go to china and buy up a big movie industry or buy up a big chip manufacturer manufacturerar a tool and die industry or a company that's very strategic the answer would certainly be no. so in the wto their session did
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not have as far as i know a reciprocity requirement with regard to investment. however, do you think it would be in the interest of the united states -- and it's a debatable topic here. a number of us are looking at legislation to maybe include investment reciprocity as part of the sifius process. do you think that would be wise or do you think that would undermine the vitality of the united states by restricting investment? even though there's clearly no reciprocity going on right now between the number 1 and number 2 economies in the world and in my view it's an unlevel playing field. chien can do it. they're doing it. if we wanted to go over and do it, we couldn't. how do we deal with that? >> i think reciprocity is an important concept in trade agreements. and i think there are other important concepts as well. to me another one is simultaneity of concessions.
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we have tended to in prior agreements to make our concessions up front and the other party makes their concessions later. but the problem is sometimes later doesn't come because when you have weak enforcement provisions and you've already made your concessions a little bit hard to unscramble the egg. so i think reciprocity is another concept going forward. i think simultaneity is another concept going forward. i think as i've mentioned i think while you were out of the hearing room the concept of an automatic re-examination after a period of time to find out, well, what worked, what didn't work, and what should we fix, i think there are a number of these conceptual issues that have not been present in prior trade agreements. but i would hope that if confirmed i can contribute toward designing kind of a model trade agreement where we would
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introduce into it certain principles that would have to be in any agreement. i think it's a huge mistake to start out each time with kind of a blank page from ground zero. makes it take longer. makes it harder to negotiate. the best negotiating tool is to be able to tell someone i can't change this, this is official policy, you know it is, we got it in ten other deals, we're not going to give you anything different. that's a much better position in my opinion than starting out with a blank slate. >> mr. chairman, may i have the opportunity to ask one more question? thank you. mr. ross, i wanted to talk just a little bit on the infrastructure. i think you're going to see a number of senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle be supportive of doing more with regard to infrastructure and as we talk about one element that a number of us see as critical
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when we move forward on a big large-scale infrastructure initiative is fixing the federal government's broken permitting system. so whether that's on average right now it takes six years to permit a bridge in the united states of america we had a hearing on infrastructure last year. it took the seattle airport to build a new runway. 15 years to get the federal permits in alaska. it took shell seven years to get federal government's permission to drill one exploration well in 100 feet of water. it's a broken system. and if we have an infrastructure package that's in the hundreds of billions without a dramatic overhaul of our permitting system i fear it's going to be money that can't be deployed. would you agree to work with us on not only focusing on the
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financing of infrastructure but the very, very important issue of fixing a permitting system. this country used to build big things on time and now we can't permit a bridge inside of half a decade. >> the permitting is an issue. i think it's one of the reasons why there weren't so many shovel-ready projects when president obama got money for infrastructure. and the permitting isn't just on big projects. in some parts of this country if you want to put a port-a-potty on a well site you have to go get a permit and it takes weeks to do that. that's not even drilling a hole in the ground. it's not invasive. it's not anything. i think we're gone a little permit nutsy. >> i look forward to working with you on that and i look forward to your speedy confirmation. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator sullivan.
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all a good line of questioning. and i know i have found the answers, responses today on some of the trade issues to be somewhat reassuring. i think there are a lot of folks who are spooked when they hear a rhetoric surrounding 35% tariffs and that sort of thing and i think you've given good insights into how that might be interpreted today. senator nelson i think has a couple cleanup questions and i think we'll get you out of here shortly. zbluf certain . >> well, you have certainly seen by the questions today and the breadth that's covered by the commerce committee the intense interest. you have comported yourself quite well. you have been very detailed and non-evasive in your answers, and that is appreciated.
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and albeit the length of this hearing, let me assure you that this hearing is a piece of cake compared to some of the other nominees that are going through the process of the constitutionally required advise and consent. your wife hillary has been most patient back there and has not looked around the room. she has been very attentive. my compliments to her as well. just for a couple of cleanup things here, i want to insert in the record, mr. chairman, a letter by ten scientists, many of whom are professors at florida universities having to do with a concern of my state
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being so fragile when it comes to sea level rise. and i would quote just one paragraph in this letter addressed to you. like you, climate scientists are facing a distressing situation as we study the projected impacts of sea level rise. however, we remain optimistic that our challenges can be solved with american ingenuity, entrepreneurship, strategy and new technologies. >> without objection we'll have it included in the record. >> that sounds quite a reasonable approach. and here i would also like to insert a document just released this morning at 10:30 from noaa's national centers for environmental information marking some of the measurements with regard to consecutive years
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of record warmth on the globe. and i think that's instructive for us to have from noaa. >> without objection. >> itself. >> senator blumenthal asked what i was going to ask about our support for israel and your attitude about that. and i think you've covered that. and i would finally appeal to you as a floridian who lives on the coast that there is not only a tourist industry which is an $85 billion a year industry in florida, almost a million jobs connected with tourism, much of which depends on the very attractive and pristine beaches that we have. and we learned a valuable lesson in the deepwater horizon oil
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spill when that oil fortunately did not get to all of our beaches but instead had gotten to pensacola beach, which was covered up, some oil on destin's beaches as well as tar balls as far east as panama city. what it did, it shut down the tourist season for one entire year. on the gulf coast. and had that spill been at a time when the loop current that comes off of the western end of cuba and loops up into the gulf of mexico, then turns south, goes around the florida keys and becomes the gulf stream that hugs the coast not only at miami but at your residence in west
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palm beach all the way up to ft. pierce before it takes off further out into the atlantic from the coast. had that spill or any future spill gotten into the loop current, we would have that effect on the east coast of florida and the resulting debacle with regard to our tourism industry. now, there's one other reason of why this is so important to us. and you and i have not had a chance to talk about this. the largest training and testing area for the united states military in the world is the gulf coast off of florida. it is the gulf testing and training range. and thus the extensive activities at not only eggland air force base but also tyndall
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air force base at panama city. i have two letters from two republican secretaries of defense saying we simply cannot have oil drilling activities that it is incompatible with the testing and training of some of our most sophisticated weapons. when you combine that with the fact that the gigli shows that there's very little oil off of florida. the oil is off of louisiana where all of the sediments came down the mississippi. >> and alaska. >> i'm talking about the gulf of mexico right now. i won't get into the bering sea and north slope and all of that. i'm tending to florida. you tend to alaska.
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the effects would be devastating so much so that my colleague, a republican former senator, senator mel martinez, joined with me for all of the reasons that i stated, and we put in law off limits until the year 2022 the gulf of mexico off of florida. that's in law. and so i ask you to consider this because there are going to be others in the cabinet in which you serve that their idea is drill baby drill. this senator is not objecting to drilling if it's in the right places. but for all the reasons that i've stated i've felt it incumbent for me to bring it up
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since you -- in the white house. so with that, mr. chairman, thank you for the extent to which your mind and mr. ross's posteriors have endured almost four hours. >> thank you, senator nelson. and yeah, this has been a lengthy hearing but i think as you pointed out a very productive one in terms of responses as generated in the substance of the discussion. there's been i think a wide range of questions posed from members of this committee who represent very different areas of the country, but the range of the issues this committee has jurisdiction over is such that it requires a good amount of
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knowledge on behalf of -- that is mr. ross in 2012 first net was established as an independent authority to implement a nationwide broadband network dedicated to first responders and as firstnet makes progress and it has made some progress in acquisition activities, consultation and internal controls it still faces a good number of challenges. i want to emphasize that firstnet is an independent authority but i want to ask also whether you will commit to being engaged on the progress of first net and to inform this committee if you observed any waste, fraud, or abuse within that fram should you be confirmed. >> i certainly support the
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concept of firstnet. i gather there is some controversy in some states about it. and i gather there have been some technical issues. i'm obviously not yet conversant with them. but the idea of giving the first responde responders all the tools that you can imagine can be useful has to be the right direction to go. i'm certainly supportive of that. and to the degree there are issues with it i'll do my best to confirm to try to figure out how to overcome them. >> we look forward to having you bring your expertise in solving problems and managing difficult circumstances to bear on this issue as well. i believe that's it. given our hope to confirm mr. ross as soon as possible, we'll keep the hearing record open until 12:30 p.m. tomorrow. during this time senators are asked to submit any additional
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questions for the record. and upon receipt woe would ask our nominee to submit to the written answers to the committee as soon as possible so we can get about the process of scheduling you and reporting you out of here and getting it onto the floor for a vote. with that i thank members of the committee. thank you, mr. ross, for your willingness to serve our country and for those who came with you today. your wife hillary for your patience. it's a long hearing but it's an important one. so with that this hearing will be adjourned. >> thank you, senators. [ room noise ]
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[ room noise ]
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>> what is your reaction oto that? should that be disqualifying for the nominee? >> not knowing the particulars of that. as you know, we just have the questions here. our nominee had taken reasonable steps to abide by the law and i think that's certainly something the members of the committee appreciate and recognize. and he was very forthcoming about it as well. i just don't know the particulars of the issue to be able to say one way or the
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other. >> so his -- mr. ross's comments on trade seem to be very much in line with what mr. trump has been saying. it hasn't necessarily been consistent with what republicans generally talk about with trade. how did you feel about how he talked about things like redoing trade negotiations on a regular basis? redoing nafta right away. >> i thought that what he expressed was that he wanted to re-examine trade agreements including nafta but that he was also i think very open in terms of keeping options on the table. it seemed to me at least that he has an interest and i think it's based upon his experience as you heard him speak to today that there are a lot of companies in this country that are victims of unfair trade practices by other
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countries and it's worthwhile on an ongoing basis to look at those trade agreements. i don't think there's anything you said today that anybody would take issue with. because i think he wants to re-examine but i also think he was very open about keeping options open. >> any concerns that they're not going to be as open to free trade as republicans in congress would like? >> well, as i pointed out, i have been concerned based on some of the rhetoric that has come out throughout the course of the campaign and from the administration on trade issues, specifically the 35% tariff flex is one issue. there have been other circumstances or cases i think where there are statements made that we've been very supportive of trade. wee an export-oriented state, agriculture. but i thought he did a really
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good job today of talking about enforcing the law, examining on a recurring basis these trade agreements, see how they're operating, what's working, what's not. but i felt that -- i was comfortable with the way he addressed those issues today. >> senator thune -- >> any reassurance that there would not be massive tariffs on china or mexico as a result of this administration? >> i think that he -- what i got out of it was that one, when you're negotiating you want to go in with a good -- and some of the statements that are made put other countries on notice and alert them to the fact that it's not going to be business as usu usu usual, cutting good deals on the front end is important. i think people generally would agree with it. there have been examples where as i said companies and industries in this country have been taken advantage of because other countries have abided by the same rules of trade that we
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follow and we don't sometimes enforce our trade agreements or enforce our laws. >> do you feel comfortable with ross's expectation to direct federal spending in any sort of transportation or infrastructure package? >> well, i suspect that with the condition by direct federal spending -- they've talked a lot about -- he talked about three different tiers of one being a way to get the private sector and leverage that. i think he was pretty clear of that in some circumstances including when i asked the question about real infrastructure projects that they would be -- that would be interpreted in a different way. i think that what works in new york may not work in south dakota. and i think he expressed an openness to taking a look at -- putting together an infrastructure package and having some flexibility contained within it and how those things are financed in areas of the country where you
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may not have revenue sources to provide the stream to pay off investors. >> did you read ross's comments as there will be no tariff on mexico? you said he ced some ligshed so it. but i don't know. he was non-committal. >> he may have been non-committal in terms of specifically coming out and saying he wanted some sort of tariff on mexico but i think what he did say was that he was willing to re-examine these agreements and i think he's been very consistent. as has the incoming president about relooking at some of those agreements. i didn't take from it at all that he was pro export and pro trade. he made that abundantly clear, that in order for the country to grow we've got to export. >> how do you feel about his answers on world broadband spectrum? >> i thought that was really
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good. i thought that was something that got covered pretty well by a lot of members of the committee and i thought his responses on that were consistent with what we wanted to see happen. i think we've got to be able to find ways to share and reallocate and find new frequencies because the spectrum issue is increasingly relevant, particularly as you look at the internet of things and the connectivity that we're going to need in the future. there's going to be huge demand for. we have to figure out ways of freeing it up. >> do you think he was familiar with those issues and -- >> i think so. i was overall impressed with his knowledge on a wide range of issues. i thought his answers for a hearing like this which sometimes tends to be more of -- you know, i look forward to working with you if confirmed type. i thought thinks answers were generally substantive on a whole lot of issues. yeah, i think he gets it. and i thought that --
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>> are you confident -- [ inaudible ] >> i thought he was pretty straightforward in his responses. senator nelson worked those issues pretty hard and i thought his answers about letting noaa and other agency that's are involved in that agency was -- i thought that he answered -- i though the responded pretty well. >> when do you think there will be a confirmation vote? >> i'd like to get that scheduled as soon as -- as quickly as possible. we have to allow a for a little bit of time get responses back and find out if there are any objections to discharging them. if there wasn't any objection. and we can do that and get them scheduled. i mean, i would say probably more likely scenario is it ends
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up being we're going to get a markup scheduled for next week. but if we can get consent it would be nice to do as many of these quickly on friday as we can. i think most of the friday votes are going to be national security. >> do you have a sense of -- democrats didn't seem to have a lot of fire. they asked a lot of detailed questions. this was as senator nelson said compared to some of the fireworks in some of the other confirm hearings this was straightforward. would you expect any democratic opposition to him? >> i hope not. my sense of the committee coming out of here is people had good questio questions. i thought he gave substantive answers. i didn't sense anybody coming out of here except this is someone who knows his stuff and
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i'd be surprised if there were no votes. you never know. >> let me go back to the trade horse and beat it yet again. basically the takeaway is you were reassured because mr. ross seemed to give the framework for how the administration will function, what it's going to be looking at. they're not going to be essentially kind of gun slingers on tariffs. >> that was my sense subpoena what i felt like is -- >> i used the word gunslinger. >> i felt, that one, he recognizes the importance of exports and that for our economy to grow and get back up to that rate, in fact he mentioned that several times in response to questions about growth. you've got to have trade. but i also felt that he understands and is empathetic to people that have been wrong and by trade that's unfair or we're not enforcing our agreements and so he was very much in favor of robust enforcement of existing laws or agreements and he's
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willing on a regular basis to relook at things. i thought his answers to me were very balanced. >> do you think he shed some light on how trade policy will be run with him and navarro and the uscr? i asked yesterday and you said you were going to ask him but i don't really know still how the process -- >> and it was in my questions to ask. but i didn't -- i felt like that was kind of a sort of inside baseball down in the weeds question about how bureaucracy's going to function. i was more interested today in getting his perspective on generally some of the trade issues. but i do think just based on what i heard today that he's going to be a very strong voice in the cabinet and the administration on trade issues. now, how they work that with ustr and who has the ear of the administration, that's an issue that probably remains to be seen as the administration starts to take shape.
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>> and your committee with jurisdiction over trade? >> well, we're very interested in trade. i -- of course as you heard today on the committee, too there's people talking about industries in their states, a lot of jobs associated tied to trade. i think there's going to be a lot of oversight by this committee on trade issues. like i said, i don't -- again, i think based on what i heard today if that's representative of where the administration's coming from on these trade issues i'm reassured by his answers. >> thank you. >> [ inaudible ]. >> i wish we could do more. i think -- [ inaudible ]
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[ inaudible ] [ room noise ]
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>> two more senate confirmation hearings for donald trump nominees tomorrow. at 9:30 live coverage of the senate energy committee and energy secretary nominee rick perry. that's on c-span 2. and over on c-span at 10:00, treasury secretary nominee steve mnuchin testifies before the senate finance committee. you can also watch both of these hearings on c-span.org or listen live with the c-span radio app. ♪ the presidential au