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tv   Confirmation Hearing for Transportation Dept. Nominees  CSPAN  January 26, 2022 11:21am-1:30pm EST

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>> the senate commerce and transportation committee held a hearing for nominees including the head of the national highway traffic safety administration and general counsel for the transportation department. this is just over 2 hours . >>.
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>> the senate committee on transportation will come to order . all the nomination for several positions. three very important nominations to the department of transportation, we welcome the nominees and their families and we thank them for their willingness to serve first we consider the nomination of the rear admiral and phillips to the administrator of the ma, welcome to you and to your family . we are currently facing
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unprecedented challenges in the us maritime industry from concerned about reports of sexual assault at the merchant marine academy to the need for investments in our courts and the need for strong leadership at the home of the ma. rear admiral phillips has significant experience in the a u.s. navy and many challenging situations including operation shield and desert storm as well as her capacity as director of the surface warfare for the chief of naval operations. after 31 years of naval service he continues to serve as a special assistant to virginia route north with a focus on postal adaptation and protection. she's been a trailblazer across her career, the first female destroyer squadron, or at first female director of the surface war and now the first female administrator. i look forward to seeing her confirmed as the next
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administrator. next we will consider the nomination of doctor stephen cliff, welcome to the administrator of the national highway transportation the administration . welcome to you and to your family and thank you for your willingness toserve . this commission is to save lives, prevent injury, reduce athe number of accidents and hopefully help us with economic impacts of those events. the bipartisan infrastructure law included new safety mandates that will be required to implement including automaticemergency braking , lane assist and impaired driving inspection technology. the law also include funding levels for nhtsa's safety grants. a time when roadway fatalities are at the highest level since 2007 and as
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electric and automated vehicles are becoming a larger part of our economy, it has never been more important to have leadership at nhtsa that will take on these challenges. doctor cliff currently serves as deputy administrator at nhtsa and brings his dock his role do extensive scientific and regulatory background in addition to working on research at the university of california . he has helped various positions at the california air resources board including most recently as deputy executive officer. his work included program oversight of regulation and working on program development industry and other stakeholders so i look forward to asking you important questions related to nhtsa and finally we will consider the nomination of josh putnam to be department of transportation.the general counsel is that she legal officer of that department and serves as the legal advisor to the secretary.
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the general counsel also oversees the office of aviation consumer protection and as we were talking before the hearing convened yesterday. and the need to continue to focus on consumers refund issues and the rules dot has on that in working with us in congress very important issue to get consumers refund they deserve. also, the responsibilities involve coordinating the department's legislative and regulatory efforts. mister collins nomination comes at a critical moment in light of the bipartisan infrastructure law provides a historic 567 billion to the department for various things and incorporating safety rulemaking. counsel's office will also be responsible to set up grant programs designed to strengthen our port infrastructure, something many members of ttthis committee have great interest in. and as we've seen problems in
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part of our supply chain and quickly cascade to impacts throughout our economy. the department has also jurisdictional over civil aviation, focusing on aviation systems making sure they are not only safe but the entire ecosystem is poised to grow coming out of the pandemic. congress has given the g department a lot of work in implementing aviation manufacturing jobs program myself and senator moran worked on implementing rulemaking to make sure consumers are protected. mister putnam i plan to ask you about the departments work to expedite faa rulemaking and as part of the aviation safety law that we passed last year that senator whitaker and i worked diligently on and our team. part of that rulemaking includes a safety management system requirements for manufacturers and this is critically important and one of the key recommendations
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not only of our committee but many other organizations around the world with safety management systems are critical for aviation. and also as i mentioned, i'm going to ask you what we're doing about the backlog of consumer complaints while against airlines for failures to refund during the pandemic . i'm going to ask what the department is going to do on pipeline safety. just yesterday a grand jury indicted amplified energy for negligent behavior in the aftermath of the october oil spill for southern california. indictment referenced multiple warnings were allegedly ignored by amplified energy including eight different alarms for pipeline leak detection systems over a 13 hour period . amplified failed as the allegations say to turn off the pipeline and immediately
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report the spill to the coast guard. this delayed response and clean up the oil may have resulted in an increase in unavoidable harm to our or potentially unavoidable harm to our fragile coastal ecosystem. the spill was caused by a strict anchor driving a pipeline. the coast guard must improve the oversight of pipeline and anchorage location and we must assess the risk posed by existing pipelines. this is why it's important to have leadership at the department of transportation so i look forward to your confirmation and your leadership on these important issues so thank you for your willingness to serve and now i turn my collie senator booker for his opening statements. >> senator cantwell is correct, she and i have worked together on items such as the airline safety legislation and on these nominees i know secretary
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buttigieg came to visit some of us in the capital and pp asked that we get the team confirmed in place so i do appreciate the chair calling this hearing today and seeking to move forward on these nominations. these positions are key leadership rules. making it more vital that this committee assess each nominees qualifications and plans for the department. mister putnam is serving as deputy general counsel and easter as acting general counsel. this experience has undoubtedly given him value overview of the ideals of the general counsel. he has worked with a staff of colorado and practiced transportation law in private practice i look forward to hearing how these credentials could benefit the american public. doctor cliff is deputy mi administrator of nhtsa having joined the department from the california resources board where this deputy
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executive director counsel worked for the california department of transportation and as a professor at cal davis h. i'm interested in hearing how these previous roles would inform his approach at nhtsa. this testimony will allow him to articulate how he plans to improve safety for the traveling public. rear admiral phillips is serving as special assistant to governor northam for coastal adaptation and protection. she has a distinguished career at the u.s. navy for 30 years and retired with the rank of rearadmiral in 2013 . i'm itinterested to hear from her regarding her plans to carry out critical duties of the administrator which ghinclude oversight of the merchant marine academy. in addition to strategic efforts to grow the us flight or fleet. i would note that i am
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disappointed and a bit puzzled at their recent refusal to provide technical drafting assistance, a former markup of the midshipmen act which is a part bipartisan bit of legislation and to address the sexual harassment assault problemthat we have . and that the economy is determined to address also so it came as a surprise to me. if confirmed i hope admiral phillips will work for a collaborative relationship and assist the legislative branch when that is possible. i want to thank all these nominees and thanked the chair for expeditiously c calling this hearing and i moved back.
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>> thank you senator whitaker. rear admiral, wewill start with you . we're asking each of you to give five minutes of testimony and then anything longer for the record and certainly welcome you if you would like to introduce your family or give any other additional things. >> thank you madam chair. the chair cantwell, ranking member wicker, members of the committee . it's an honor to appear before you as maritime administrator. i want to thank president biden and secretary buttigieg for nominating me that's critical to our economic and national security. i also would like to introduce my husband, captain u.s. navy retired who is watching virtually and my brother doctor jonathan phillips . if i am honored enough to be confirmed i pledge i will work diligently to execute the duties and responsibilities of the maritime administrator and
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support secretary buttigieg and the extraordinary team at the department of transportation ma as we strengthen our merchant marine and continue to strengthen the resilience of our supply chain at the moment investment in our maritime infrastructure. i'm committed to working with the members of this committee and your colleagues to advance our nation's time transportation infrastructure goals. i know from my experience on the staff the critical work of congressional committees and how hard you work to meet the needs of your constituents and communities. i also know how important it is to work with you on a broad range of stakeholders defined bipartisan solutions to the challenges we face. during my nearly 31 year career i have been command at sea three times. the ship, since destroyer squadron and squadron levels. i worked closely with the military command to ensure capacityand support for a host of related strategic response missions .
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as a result my experiences in this and other assignments i understand the critical role of our merchant marine in providing jesus c (which arm may be realized and witnessed many of the challenges that confront our commercial fleet as well. previously i served as deputy director and director of service warfare division in the pentagon and manage the annual defense plan for submission of the service force including ships, systems, weapons systems and related training and infrastructure. i retired as rear admiral in 2013. for the past three years i served as special assistant to governor ralph northam in the commonwealth of virginia and under my leadership we delivered a commonwealth for resilience master plan which set forth strategies to protect our most critical and vulnerable infrastructure from sea level rise and critical hazards. throughout my career safety has been at the forefront of my mission. the foundational priority for us dot will always besafety . likewise he will be the northstar for the ma so they
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have the honor to be confirmed as administrator. in addition, my priorities will be first inpromoting a strong merchant marine and continuing the recapitalization of the strategic fleet and support for a competitive, safe and modern maritime industry capable of meeting the seamless report requirements and prepared to succeed in a competitive environment. tesecond continuing work initiated by marist reject the many challenges the merchant marine academy including implanting measures to support a safe and inclusive learning and training environment. on campus and at sea. where sexual assault and harassment are not tolerated. further advancing ongoing efforts to address any infrastructure challenges and strengthening oversight of
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the economy, supporting a type of government and tackling many other issues enumerated in the studies released by the national academy of public administration. finally to support effective and speedy implementation of the grant program authorized under the infrastructure investment and jobs act. as we emerged from the pandemic by bipartisan infrastructure law we have a once in a generation opportunity to improve our maritime systems, supply chains, infrastructure and industry and insure it equitably serves all americans and communities of all sizes. if confirmed i'll look forward to working with you to achieve these goals. i'm confident my lifetime of service and my experience commanding us maritime operations, my background managing fiscal resources and development for the service force and my experience crafting equitable climate resilience and coastal adaptation and protection strategy for maritime infrastructure in the commonwealth has prepared me to serve as maritime administrator.
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in closing i thank the committee for the opportunity to appear before you today and welcome your questions . >> doctor cliff, welcome. i think you're welcome to make your opening statement. >> thank you chair cantwell, ranking member wicker. an honor to appear before you as nominee for the national highway traffic safety administration knownas nhtsa . i want to thank that secretary and president for their trust in me and thank my wife maureen and two children. my folks and all the rest of my family and friends watching online. i spent my career as a public servant. first as a scientist at the university of california davis and for more than a decade in various roles technical and leadership in the california government where i championed sustainable transportation. if i'm honored enough to be confirmed i will draw upon those decades of experience to help the transportation system safer for every american.
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this mission is personal for me just as it is for too many americans. while in high school, i rode in a caravan with a group of friends heading to a graduation gathering. one of the cars driven by my best friend when changing lanes crossed the median, flipped over and collided with an oncoming car. there were the only median barriers to protect oncoming traffic . three of four occupants including my best friend were killed . my life was changed forever. this tragedy led my parents and my hometown to start a graduation to reduce tragedies like this and while neither alcohol or drugs played a role in the event the safe and sober graduation party had undoubtedly prevented many senseless deaths in the 33 years since that terrible day. since february 2, 2021 i have served as deputy administrator working with some of the most dedicated and professional public
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servants i've everencountered . nhtsa is focused on making our vehicles safer for everyone while integrating policies that make transportation more safe, equitable andenvironmentally sustainable .like the rest of the department i'm gravely concerned about the increase in traffic fatalities during the family. secretaryrightfully called in a crisis. while many stopped driving in the early days , those who remain on the roads were more likely to engage in risky behaviors. as a result, we seen an unprecedented rise in the calories and i amcommitted to ngturning this around . we have much to learn about why some driving behaviors changed during the pandemic d. how we can encourage people to make safer choices and how to change a culture that accepts the loss of tens of thousands of people in roadway crashes as inevitable. we continue to work with safety stakeholders around the country to develop
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countermeasures but more work needs to be done. a cultural change will take a transformational and ty collaborative approach to saving everyone including those who design, operate, build and use the road system . shares responsibility for road safety. by taking the safe systems approach wecommit to improving safety for all road users. a safe system approach incorporates the five ease, equity ,engineering, education , enforcement and emergency medical services. the monumental bipartisan infrastructure law will be central to these efforts. this historic legislation increases nhtsa's budget by 50 percent, the largest investment in motor vehicle and highway safety since it was established more than 50 years ago. this funding will improve our understanding of where and how crashes happen by improving data quality and expanding electronic recording to move from paper-based data collection systems to digital systems.
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it will also broaden the crash investigation sampling system by increasing the number of data collection sites including more crash types and adding on scene investigation protocols to enhance data collection in crashes involving vulnerable users.w these improvements will allow us to understand in real-time the causes of crashes and help us address those outcomes. we are also responsible for sending the corporate average fuel economy standards. i am committed to making the transportation as efficient as possible to save consumers billions of dollars at the pump to improve the nation's energy security andprotect the environment . we will focus on safe, equitable and environmentally protective policies as we carry out our life-saving mission. if i have the honor of being confirmed as administrator, i commit to continuing to work with members of this committee to improve roadway safety, foster innovation and advanced transportation equity and address climate
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change. t chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of the committee, thank you for your consideration and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for sharing that very personal story. thank you for sharing that with us. and i'll bet you every member of the committee knows thof an experience like the one you described so thank your family for trying to also do something to establish something for other people. mister putnam, welcome. thank you for your willingness to serve. >> thank you. chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of the committee i'm humbled and honored to appear before you today as a nominee for general counsel of the united states department of transportation. i'd like to begin by thanking the president and secretary nhtsa buttigieg for the faith they placed in me. this opportunity to serve as
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the privilege of a lifetime i don't like to thank my wife kristin and my wonderful children , parents, family and friends watching remotely . since january 20, 2000, 2021 i served as deputy general counsel for the department. during those last 11 months i've worked with and overseen the efforts of the approximately 500 dedicated and highly skilled department attorneys and staff, addressing numerous transportation legal issues to improve safety, advance equity, strengthen our economy, address climate change, protect consumers and foster innovation. near-term the most significantchallenge and opportunity that we face through general counsel's office is implementation of thepresident's bipartisan infrastructure law , the once in a generation law and acted through historic efforts of congress last month . the law will repair and rebuild our nation's roads, bridges and infrastructure while focusing on economic
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opportunity, climate mitigation and safety for all users . it makes the largest investments in public transit in our history and improves transportation options for millions of americans. n it will also strengthen supply chains and enhance resilience by makingnecessary improvements in our ports, airports, rail and highways . the law will help reduce carbon conditions, promote safety and repair our economy for new and innovative technologies . the investments will create many good paying jobs across the country for years to come. however, historic legislation like the bipartisan infrastructure law must be matched with effective implementation that ensures its potential is achieved in a transparent and compliant and accountable manner. the office has a critical role to play in helping the department implement this landmark legislation . my experience with transportation law has prepared me well for this role.
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prior to joining the administration i worked most of my career as a transportation environmental and energyattorney in denver colorado and washington dc . i've represented dates departments of transportation, local governments and private entities nationwide on a range of highway transit energy and a other issues. most recently, i served as director of environmental programs or the department of public health and environment . in my role as director, i correlated with other state departments, local governments, residents and businesses on the roadmap for transportation projects. and greenhouse gases. rural prosperity, greenhouse gas reduction, electric vehicle employment and environmental justice and other programs. if i have the honor of being confirmed by this committee and the senate i will work with you to strengthen the department,take safety as a guiding priority and achieve better results for the american people . i further commit to continue
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leading an office of the is eral counsel that responsive to congressional oversight and that needs to be constituents and the deep transportation expertise shared by you and your staff. i view these guiding principles as vital to the achievement of our shared success . chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of this committee, thank you again for your consideration and theopportunity to appear before you. i am pleased to answer any questions you may have . >> mister putnam, i'm going to start with you but we have lots of questions so it may take us a second round and i appreciate everybody being here . the department of transportation has received 5000 refund complaints about airline issues of 2029 and you are looking at a spring of 2022 rulemaking. are you going to clarify what significant delays there are? this issue has come up about the bill has been delayed the
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next day. you want to help address the issue. >> thank you chair. the rulemaking that is on the calendar for this spring is addressing the question of refunds. as well as addressing some of the definitions of unfair and deceptive practices. we're having conversations right now the deviation consumer protection advisory committee. on that question of delays and how to define those significant delays and the characterization of those delays by the airline so we do anticipate that would be the subject of potentially future rulemaking based on whatever recommendations you have. >> thank you and will section 102 of the aircraft safety certification and accountability act set a deadline for the faa to aissue a final rule on safety management systems ? will you work to meet this deadline to work with us and
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others on these limitations? >> iq, the answer is yes. it's a regulatory priority for me and for the department to ensure that we are able to extend safety management systems across deviation. while certainly covering aviation manufacturing. >> doctor cliff, what is your plan to address the regulatory backlog related to the mandate that a bipartisan infrastructure bill. there's 11 new vehicle safety rule makings including mandates for advanced safety technologies such as automatic emergency braking , lane assist, so but i already know there's a state backlog so how are you going to help get these issues addressed? >> thank you chair for your question. the bipartisan infrastructure law provides lots of
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additional resources for the department. i mentioned a 50 percent increase in our budget. there is a number of rule makings as you know that have been mandated by previous service transportation bills and a serious backlog there stas well as a number of new mandates in the recent bipartisan infrastructure law that is confirmed i will make it a priority to get rid of the backlog as well as work with this committee to ensure that we're moving forward on the new mandate . as deputy i've worked diligently with my team to address the backlog and as you may have seen from the fall of unified regulatory agenda that we have aggressive deadlines for those. we're looking forward to using the new resources and appreciate your leadership on getting those and help addressing these roles. >> it confirmed you will ch oversee the merchant marine academy.
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we've heard a lot of the challenges we are facing their. a report found the academy suffers staffing and leadership to solve these problems and it confirmed are you willing to restore and fix these issues at the academy including to shore up sexual assault., >> thank you chair cantwell for your question. i am willing to step in personally to work to address the challenges of the merchant marine academy to delete starting with the challenges regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment but also unfamiliar with the outcomes and reporting and will work diligently with your staff and others and also with the staff of the ma to work on these issues already to continue their hard work and make significant progress . >> including working with on drafting legislation. >> yes chair. i will work with you on
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drafting legislation. >> this is important across every agency that we oversee particularly when there's this element ofsafety and oversight . we have just got to get clear about where agencies are and where we are and what we can do to implement them. there's just so much change happening. we need to be more in sync and working together and if you don't work to make these laws, we have to get to a common ground on many of these issues. do you support the jones act? >> yes chair, i support the jones act. >> lastly to you mister putnam. i mentioned in my opening statements this issue on the california bill. part of the issue is that you know, we have anchorage. we just need additional safeguards in this system, will you commit to reviewing regulations in light of the california still and
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implementing programs to help us have more oversight on responding to alarms and to this issue of too much anchorage around pipelines. basically giving exemptions to allow ships to anchor there and there's just so much more traffic and congestion we are putting ourselves at risk. >> thank you chair cantwell, the answer is yes. we are reviewing the california incident as well as other incidents and we will continue that process including the implementation o of the pipelines act of 2020. >> and beyond, thank you. >> thank you madame chair. doctor cliff, the chair is correct. we have a lot that we need to get to . 94 percent of the fatalities in automobile deaths are as a result of human error.
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you agree with that statistic, do not? >> i think behavioral circumstances are a factor in 94 percent. i wouldn't necessarily say it's humanerror in all cases . >> and we're past the point of having to debate whether automated vehicles will provide much more safety or the american driving, we're past that point are we not? >> thank you writing member wicker. it's a great question and i believe as secretary buttigieg has said automated driving systems offer the potential for much more safety as a result of the specifics that you mentioned. as well as offering opportunities to drive down the cost oftransportation and provide more environmental standards . >> so senator thune and i
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wrote a letter in october concerned about the lack of agency action regarding autonomous vehicle technologies this year. see your response last night had consent to insert it into the record . let me ask you doctor cliff, what actions will nhtsa take on with regard to entities that my letter addressed? can you outline for the th committee actions nhtsa will take inside the next six months with regard to autonomous rvehicles and will roadway safety strategy set to be released next month include policy on time is vehicles? >> thank you for the question writing member . we are approached to automated driving technologies. it's to optimize safety while
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also leaving room for innovation. nothing in the vehicle safety act gets in the way of safe testing and piloting of these technologies. the approach that we're taking is to ensure that we have more data to help inform future action and in light of that, this summer we put forward a standing general order which requires recording of crash safety data to nhtsa. it's important we have those data because in order for us to inform on a sort of rulemaking we need additional data and research to inform those actions. so the data that we are collecting as part of the standing general order is the first step in determining what further actions will be needed. >> the answer would be because we haven't been able to collect data quite as soon as we had hoped . we're going to have to wait on setting out our plan for
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the next six months to a year. >> outhank you writing member wicker. we put out a rulemaking that establishes a framework for autonomous vehicles and we collected a number of comments on those. we were still reviewing those comments. there's a number of actions the department can take including research, the data collection efforts i mentioned and looking at stakeholder comments on the framework that will inform future action. >> it's going to save lives. i hope we can speedit along. you want to be careful and i want you to be. mister putnam , i voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and it's got a lot of hard infrastructure in it and we need much more. contrary to some of the
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things we hear but there is concern about the pace of federal permitting. the department of transportation as an opportunity to make a lot of investments. what steps would you take to improve and speed permitting process? and do you agree that's a problem? >> thank you writing member wicker. certainly ensuring rapid permitting will be critical to realizing the potential of the bipartisan infrastructure law. we are taking a number of steps first and foremost, we will be implementing the one federal decision provision of that law. that includes a number of steps to streamline the permitting process. but we're looking beyond that point. the potential for categorical ocexclusions, process improvements so that we can speed along those approvals,
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focus on the ones that deserve the attention and clear the way that we can move not impactful and likely impactful projects. >> madame chair, i think this would probably be the opportunity for questions for the record. i want to thank you madame chair for underscoring what i said about other agencies working with the legislative branchto help us get the legislation right . and also i would say that it seems to me having been at sea numerous times, rear admiral phillips would be in a great position to understand what our midshipmen go through on the sea. to make and also to emphasize the importance of actually having that in a year. it's supposed to iprestart december 22 and we expect the leadership to go through what what they told us.
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perhaps i will have the chance to get back in and asked that question but we have to me a resource who's been to see , who perhaps has experienced what our young cadets are seeing in a petition onof how to stop these harassments and attacks. >> thank you senator wicker. >> .. when ray lahood was the head of the department of transportation and took on this issue is one of his major, major focuses. and i think that's because as we know itnd actually got worse. eight people died and more than 1000 are injured everyday in
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crashes involving distracted driving. earlier this year i introduced a bill to create a grant program with nhtsa to encourage states to implement laws banning all non-navigational viewing while driving such as viewing videos or streaming views on cell phones. i seen drivers do this in my own state driving by them and she summit on a video call. the bill was signed into law last month as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. could you talk about how important it is to educate drivers and especially teens about the dangers of distracted driving and what more we need to do? there's carrots and sticks but more needs to happen. >> thank you for the question, senator klobuchar. i appreciate your leadership on this issue. as you probably know, more than 3000 people people die each year due toaf distraction.
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that number is very likely underreported. that's because it's very difficult to determine distraction as a cause for roadway fatality. nevertheless, we know it's really important issue and we are committed to working on this. we appreciate the new resources that are in the bipartisan infrastructure law to help us do additional research on this, and we actually look at the state and local actions that can be taken to educate those in their state when distraction is a particular issue. so thankfully about a 30% increase in the budget goes to state highway safety offices will help in that education role that you mentioned. >> right. and i think you know how important that increase is going to be in your testimony. so one survey found only about 21% of car owners consider car recalls to be a top priority.
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the bipartisan infrastructure law included a bill that introduced with senator markey and blumenthal to incentivize vehicle owners to get their recalled cars repaired as well as ways to make recall notices more accessible and easy. i've had my own experience with this and i'm sure everyone has. can you talk about how we need to do better to get vehicles needed repairs? >> yes, thank you, senator for the question. recalls are a great way to enhance safety for an issue actually occurs. if we know there's a problem with the vehicle that needs to be addressed, then we want that vehicle to be fixed. the bipartisan infrastructure law as you mentioned does have additional resources to help incentivize in particular departments of motor vehicle, vehicles throughout the relationship with the vehicle owner to get information out about recalls. i would just note that for
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anyone who hasth a vehicle, there's an opportunity to check for recalls. if you go to our website, putting your p.i.n. number or download the safer car out and it will inform you if there is a recall. so for anyone -- >> i didn't know that. last subject. next-generation 911. senator burr and i had up that caucus of 911 and one of our key focuses have been many improvements for updated 911 system, better operability and the like, interoperability. the senate reconciliation bill, the build back better bill, includes $500 billion for nhtsa to begin modernizing the 911 system in a way that a think we really need. and i know for ntia, i'm sorry, can you speak to the importance of upgrading 911 systems and your plan for coordinating with
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ntia, if confirmed? >> thank you, senator, for the question. we do look for to courtney with ntia, should that bill pass. nextgen 911 is a very critical element i think of our emergency medical service system. two out of five crash victims is alive when emergency medical responders get on scene, and so having better 911 systems to help coordinate with primary care is a real opportunity to improve outcomes for crash victims, and we definitely will work if confirmed with ntia to provide informationan that we he to make that program successful. >> exactly. all right, thank you veryan muc. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. next is senator fischer, then senator tester, then senator blackburn. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you to our nominees for
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being here today. dr. cliff, on october 28 nhtsa reported in the first six months of 2021 traffic the title these increased by overr 18% from the same time last year. nhtsa went on to say the estimated 20,160 deaths is the highest projected in the first half of the year since 2006. 2006. based on your understanding why are wee seeing this concerning increase in highway fatalities? >> thank you, senator, for your question. the computing factors are the same as those that we saw a pandemic, but during the pandemic we had seen that drivers are willing to take riskier actions. that is,sp excessive speeding, impaired driving both alcohol impaired and drug use as well as being unbelted. more than 10,000 fatalities that are reported are those among
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individuals who were not wearing a seatbelt. soso more education about the dangers of risky driving is going to be a extremely importat as well as new technological improvements that will help reduce some of those trends that we see from the uptick in fatalities that you note. uctures passed, it provides nhtsa with $2.7 billion in new funding over the next five years. as you noted in your testimony, that's roughly a 50% increase from previous levels. how do you plan on using the new funding and, specifically, how do you plan on focusing in on this concerning spike we are seeing? dr. cliff: thank you you, senator, for your question. about two thirds of nhtsa's budget goes through to states for the state highway safety programs, so a large portion of that money will flow to the states in order to provide more
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opportunity for states to focus on issues that they determine are leading to traffic crashes, so that's one of our opportunities. we also have a huge increase in the research budget that will provide us more opportunity to do vehicle safety research as well as behavioral research, and then, very importantly, the electronic data transfer and crash investigation sampling system will give us more real-time data and better information about what leads to crashes so that we can perform interventions, policy interventions, the help drive down those terrible outcomes. sen. fischer: thank you. admiral phillips, how would you assess the overall state of the sealift fleet? we had a conversation earlier and i appreciate your comments, but how would you assess it?
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-- address that. rear adm. phillips: we did, senator. thank you for your question. as you pointed out, we talked about the need to maintain a strong and vibrant sealift support system in support of our national infrastructure and national security. we know from numerous studies that we are not there. should i have the honor to be confirmed, i look forward to working with you and this committee and your staff and the many stakeholders involved to find ways to try to close those gaps and reach a satisfactory state of strategic sealift in support of her national security missions. >> to have any ideas how we move quickly on that? government takes forever to get things done. it is hard to move at a pace we need to and address the threats
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that are out there. >> thank you for that question and comment. as we discussed, it is challenging. however, is my understanding there is work underway to recapitalize the ready reserve for snout that will begin to provide some modernization about force. near-term, continuing sub should i have the opportunity to be confirmed, i look forward to accelerating those programs is a critical first step to achieving what we know we need to accomplish. >> thank you. >> inc. you. senator tester? >> thank you, madam chair. you pointed out what's going on with the fatalities. montana is no exception.
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you mentioned more dollars to do good things my comes to addressing fidelity's. could you be specific and some of the things were looking at, where the greatest opportunity is for fatality reduction on our highways? >> thank you for that question. one of the issues you mentioned montana, where rural fatalities are quite a challenge. we know that about 19% of the population is in rural communities, but about 45% of the fatalities are in room communities. one of the things we find -- rural communities. one of the things we find in our research, being unbelted as one of the leading cause of fatalities in rural communities. we have developed campaigns to get the word out about the need to use seatbelts. that is an opportunity to quickly drive down the numbers.
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we have additional research into technologies that could help improve outcomes. the new car assessment program is one of those, where there's an opportunity to provide information to consumers about the safety of vehicles. there are new technologies as well. >> i agree with the opportunity to educate rural america. from personal experience, someone room someone and they were killed and they were wearing seatbelts, for years back. what mode do deliver that information? >> rural america is a different puppy than urban areas. >> thank you for that question. there is a couple of things, one we actually do surveys and look at what messages connect most
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with rural drivers, so we put out a new advertising campaign that speaks directly to rural americans about the need to use a seatbelt. >> cell phones a been brought up several times. in washington, d.c., i live about six blocks from this building. every once in a while i actually drive here. almost without exception, every morning there's at least one person, often more than i have fingers talking on a cell phone, , not paying attention to traffic lights, to what is going on around them. we can study this issue and we are probably all guilty of this at some point in time in our driving history, but it is not acceptable. it is worse than drunk driving, quite frankly, and drunk driving is really bad. what are we going to do about this?
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there are communities that have passed laws. what can we do with the federal level? >> thank you for that question. there is a real opportunity to continue messaging about cell phone use and distraction in general. it accounts for more than 3000 fatalities each year but we think that is vastly underreported. >> i would agree. dr. cliff: and there's much more opportunity for education and we need a safe systems approach. the issue is that people make mistakes, but an individual making a mistake should not lead to their death, so we need to be thinking more holistically about how we address safety from the driver to the vehicle to the technology in the vehicle to the infrastructure. >> i hope you are able to do something on those things. truthfully, i think we know what the problem is. real solutions, reducing actual
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physical action, can help a lot. i am not big on putting restrictions on people, but on the other hand, we need to figure out how to fix this. one question for mr. putnam. we talked about rapid permitting with some of the previous questioners, and that will be critically important on the bipartisan infrastructure package and others. how do you square rapid permitting with public safety? dr. cliff: i missed the last part -- mr. putnam: i missed the last part. sen. tester: how do you square rapid permitting with public input on the projects? mr. putnam: thank you for that question. it is a great question. so very little of the process time involves actually getting input, so i think part of it is focusing on those elements, not
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collecting the public input. it is vital we get the public input early because that actually can help us focus on actual issues and problems, solve those problems early, so you can get a project on track to success, a better project at the end of the day. it is a balance and it will be one of the areas we are looking at closely, but we are committed to getting that public input. it is essential, the law, but also leads to better outcomes. sen. tester: thank you. madam chair, i hope we can get these people out of committee quickly. i think they are good people and i hope nobody holds them up so they can get to their jobs. i think it is important. sen. cantwell: thank you, senator tester. senator blackburn? sen. blackburn: thank you and congratulations to each of you on your nomination and for being here. mr. putnam, to you. we had a good hearing yesterday it our airline. we had a little conversation
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about spectrum, and i am sure you have seen that the faa had come up. they were voicing some last-minute opposition to 5g deployment and creating problems when 39 countries have already deployed 5g. nobody has had these. and these problems or concerns and d.o.t. does have some significant spectrum holdings, and that mid band spectrum, if it is not being used, we need to get it back, recoup it, auction it, and get it out there, so i would like to hear from you how you would see working with the ntia and the fcc to ensure that spectrum is going to move into
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the pipeline and get there for consumers and that we are wisely managing the spectrum. >> thank you for your question, senator blackburn. certainly there's great economic value associated with providing additional spectrum, but at the same time, we need to ensure, as the department of transportation and with the faa, that the provision of that spectrum it is safe and does not interfere with critical safety systems like radio ultimate there's. >> let me ask you this, what are the other 39 countries doing that they've had no problems that we are not doing? >> is a great question. many of those countries have implemented controls on the level of power associated with the transmitters.
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they have geographic restrictions. relative to airports and other locations. >> you think this is a solvable problem. >> i do believe is it is a set -- solvable problem. it is why the department and the faa are working with the communications providers and the aviation industry to try to address those, craft those mitigation so we can, with a solution that works with for safety and telecommunications. >> what kind of timeline do you see as being a workable timeline? because no one else has had any of these problems. we are looking at the importance of 5g and that rule out, -- that rule out, not just for security, but we look at it as a competition. could we talk about china?
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i find it interesting that all of a sudden out of nowhere come these reservations and last-minute concerns, which quite honestly are appearing the more we hear about it, feared -- appeared to be unfounded concerns. >> with regards to the original question in terms of timing, we are looking at a top priority of the department and federal aviation administration. really looking at weeks and months to craft those solutions, given the decisions of the fcc. these are issues that were raised by the faa years in the past. the sense from the department is that they had not been fully addressed. they are real and significant concerns as identified by the aviation stakeholders yesterday.
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>> let me talk to dr. cliff, autonomous vehicles and the deployment of autonomous vehicles. i would love to hear a couple of things from you about what you think are the steps we need to take to ensure safety in the near-term deployment of the 80's --av's. >> we need to deploy safety as these are being piloted, and research is occurring. one of the things we've done recently, is the standing general order which requires reporting of critical safety data to nhtsa are not timely basis. whether there are defects that need to be addressed, and any other critical safety information.
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we really haven't taken anything off the table. we are trying to ensure our current safety standards are maintained as innovation occurs. we want to optimize safety while we allow for that innovation. >> thank you, madam chairman. >> thank you. there were several people, i'm not sure, senator hickenlooper? >> inc. you, madam chair. i think you all for your willingness to serve. appreciate your wide diversity of careers. mr. putnam, always happy to have a coloradan before us. he previously served as director of environmental programs. d.o.t. recently released a climate action plan, ensure some of the infrastructure projects,
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consider climate change impacts, resilient solutions. describe how your prior experiences and help guide d.o.t.'s implementation within the bipartisan infrastructure bill? >> thank you, senator hickenlooper, good to see you again in the as well as colorado. in my previous experience, have worked on the development projects, approval projects and understand how the permitting process for these projects work. and so understand how incorporation of sustainability principles can work their way into these projects from the beginning of design through approval and implementation. beyond that point, in my experience of the state department, public health and
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environment, developing a greenhouse map -- roadmap, involve many elements including transportation. >> we look forward to seeing your work at d.o.t.. i apologize for having the confusion in our meeting yesterday, in october, the biden administration announced supply chain actions such as expanding the hours of operation at the port of los angeles. the maritime administration is going to receive funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, $2.5 billion for the port infrastructure program. how will they use this program -- this funding to address the supply chain issue? >> senator hickenlooper, thank you for that question. i'm honored to have an opportunity to speak with you today, as you are aware, the
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problem that is most effective in the context of the supply issues from the maritime administration perspective is -- this is in existence, it is effective. generational opportunity with the bipartisan infrastructure law, we will be able to do a lot more with that program. should i have the honor to be confirmed, i look forward to working on that. in particular, the program can focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, considering economic impact and decarbonizing that. across other stages of the infrastructure system. maritime position will be long-term impact, based on what we can do >> it's gotta be the long-term
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consequences of is that matter. dr. cliff, we directed the dot to identify and report on barriers while researching marijuana, we hope to develop several marijuana standards for drivers. when we first legalized recreational marijuana in colorado which i opposed in the beginning, i thought there would be all kinds of increases in teenage driving with increased frequency of use. we haven't seen any of that. but we don't have a good way to measure intoxication level. we use five nanograms of thc in the blood as a standard. the nhtsa report on marijuana impaired driving, if you are confirmed, are you willing to
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commit to working with this committee to develop a federal marijuana driving standard so we can have something that is a national standard? dr. cliff: thank you, senator hickenlooper. if i am confirmed, i look forward to working with this committee on impaired driving and on the marijuana issue that you mentioned. sen. hickenlooper: i think we need to address it and get out ahead of it as quickly as we can. thank you and i yield back to the chair. >> senator young or scott? if not, senator rosen. sen. rosen: think into the witness witnesses for being here today. i am happy about the state of transportation technology. nevada is at the cutting edge of
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transportation technology. it has the only statewide test site authorized by the faa, we participate in several autonomous and smart vehicle projects, and we are supporting several infrastructure deployments. with the home for the hyperloop testbed, and a self-driving delivery company broke around on a manufacturing facility in las vegas and will be building and for its vehicles. underlining all of our states contributions to transportation technology is a commitment to safety first and foremost, and working to produce technology to make a positive impact. dr. so, dr. cliff, can you share your thoughts about how under your leadership nhtsa will continue to meet its mission to save lives, prevent injuries, reduce economic cost due to road crashes while adapting rules to
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be increasingly innovative transportation sector on the use of autonomous vehicle technology with other forms of ai? and also i would say requires critical cybersecurity safeguards. and do you agree with secretary buttigieg who recently said he believed automated vehicles can make transportation safer, cleaner, more assessable and more efficient? >> thank you for that question. actually i agree with secretary buttigieg. he's's my boss. i will say that i appreciate your leadership on this issue, and we have a number of tools that i have already mentioned to help us ensure safety as we encourage more innovation. there is a lot of opportunity here for technology to help us address the fatalities that we've seen increase on our roadways. >> thank you. speaking of being on the
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roadways, of course in nevada tourism tops our list of economic drivers and so we want to support the traveling public. numerous members of this committee have heard me say many times, travel and tourism,ha lifeblood of nevada's economy, and i would say most dates in this nation. it is critical to our prosperity to make the air travel experience as enjoyable as possible from the planning stages to actually stepping off the plane at the airport. mr. putnam, as you know the office of general counsel at the department of transportation is responsible for the office of aviation consumer protection which response to consumer complaints and promotes awareness and understanding of consumer rights and, of course, this officer is a critical role in addressing concerns of the traveling public and really wants to help foster a more comfortable experience in partaking for leisure and
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business travel and we need to make it safe and enjoyable. mr. putnam, can you talk about how, if confirmed, you manage your specific responsibility in the aviation consumer protection space and also tell us about some of your priorities for aviation consumer safety? >> thank you, senator rosen. i can say when a longest standing client is a clark county department of aviation, and the now harry reid international airport. so certainly appreciate the central role that aviation place in the economy of las vegas and nevada. with regard to the aviation consumer protection role, it's been a major focus of my time as deputy general counsel. right now serving addressing the concerns we are hearing from the wave of complaints related to recalls. so ensuring where addressing those complaints, ensuring that we are pushing through with the
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18 active investigations we have related to the failure for recalls. looking at some of the rulemaking discussed by chair cantwell this morning, and ensuring that we're really looking forward to making sure that consumers have the right information and are protected correctly by the airlines. in addition, on the safety front, working with the federal aviation administration to ensure that the safety related rules our top priority for the department and we do everything we can to support those efforts. >> thank you. i appreciate it. see my time is just about up so i have a question vehicle jobs and and i will smith is for the record. thank you, madam chair. rosen.k you, senator thank you for your work on these issues. senator thune. >> thank you, madam chair. let me start by talking a little bit about automated vehicles or evs which i think are going to radically alter the way
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americans been and will be especially true for the elderly and persons with disabilities whose current transportation options are limited especially in rural areas. it has potential to greatly reduce the average of more than 40,000 traffic without a lease that we see on our nation's roadways each year. and while u.s. companies currently lead the world in 80 technology, this offense cannot be taken for granted. the use regular framework has got to catch up with private sector innovation or for these technologies to advance. are tef good paying jobs and billions of dollars of investment at stake. av's have the potential to transform the way americans move. dr. cliff, i have worked over the past several years in a bipartisan fashion to enact automated vehicles legislation which i believe it breaky to ensuring av's are tested and
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deployed under a consistent regulatory framework. av's have the potential to dramatically reduce highway intelligence, to relieve congestion and provide a safe option for the elderly and disabled. i have been pleased to see nhtsa's recent actions to approve the testing of av's third granting exception petitions and updates to relevant regulations, and i hope this department can continue to build on that work. if confirmed, will you make modernizing motor vehicle standards for av's a priority for the department? >> if confirmed, i will continue our work on av's, including the research and data gathering work we have already gotten underway. >> do you see av's as part of the solution and encouraging a
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regulatory framework in that technology? >> i believe av's of our promise. we want to make sure we are optimizing safety on the way to forward implementation of this technology. >> earlier this year net se -- nhtsa requiring vehicles with advanced driver systems are automated driver systems to report crash information within 24 hours. ads, which is developed to operate a motor vehicle without a driver are beneficial but could not be more different. i am concerned about combining data collection on both systems into one sgo perpetrates the false perception that these technologies are similar which could around public confidence in bank feature intervention more difficult. dr. quipped, -- cliff, if
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confirmed would you take their action to confirm the difference between the systems? >> these are different technologies. no vehicle that is available for our purpose -- purchase today is capable of driving. there is nothing that can replace a fully attentive human driver. the general order that you mentioned does provide crash safety data on a timely basis that will help inform our bureau -- future actions, so i believe using bettel as well as our other federal safety tools will drive the technology forward to ensure that we have the safety on our way to full implementation. >> what actionable steps will you take to adopt a common nomenclature for the two
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technologies to mitigate confusion that may lead to use -- misuse or abuse of these systems? >> we want the public to understand the capabilities of these systems and limitations, that's part of our educational work. in terms of terminology we have adopted the sae technology of the levels of automation, and we have reported in our frameworks that there are differences in these technologies in terms of requirements. >> my time is about out. with additional nhtsa funding that you got from the infrastructure bill, could you describe what the agency is doing to understand the factors behind this increase and what countermeasures could be lamented to address this issue from the perspective of enforcing traffic laws and curbing reckless driving, and i'm talking about the 40,000
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people that i am the nation's roadways each year and the alarming increase that we've seen. >> thank you, you are correct. this is an alarming increase. most of the money we get is part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, two thirds of our budget flows through directly to states to address the issues you are talking about. a data-driven approach in each state will help address the most dangerous behaviors, including enforcement. there is also a lot of opportunities with the new technology for rulemaking and the upgrades to find more information for consumers about the safety of vehicles. >> time has expired. >> senator blumenthal. >> thank you all for your service and for being here today. i agree with you, dr. cliff, that optimizing safety is the
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key. all too often, autonomous driving advocates rely more on slogans than science and it undermines the credibility of the entire system when there is over promising creative -- creating excessive expectations. i had the opportunity to drive on the consumer reports track, which exacerbated a number of my concerns about expectations that have been raised and promises that have been made. advanced and automated driving systems have the potential to increase safety on the road but they need to be implemented with caution. and i have been deeply disappointed on nhtsa's reliance on voluntary and unenforceable guidelines and programs and set
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up taking meaning all action -- meaningful action. the av test relies on companies there voluntarily share information about the autonomous driving test. but one might staff checked yesterday they saw data from only 32 companies, and there are more than 80 av companies in the united states. this voluntary system ain't working. we need a mandatory reporting system. this summer standing order to require companies to report caches -- crashes for advanced and automated driver systems when they are engaged is only the first step. it simply doesn't go far enough. nhtsa needs to take regulatory action to implement basic standards for av makers. i've been saying this point
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again and again. and i hope you're hearing it from my colleagues and myself loud and clear. today you told me when we spoke about the standing order was needed so nhtsa could collect data on crashes, and you would use it to create justifiable and data driven regulations. it's been more than six months now, when do you anticipate these rules will be ready? >> thank you, senator for that question. the safety order that we discussed in our call the other day is providing us with a useful data. we hope you make that data public in the very near future. this information is going to be invaluable in determining the actions going forward. but what's the timetable? the order is very new. we've only been getting data for only about four months under that program. we are going to have to continue to look at the data and
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understand it. >> i really want to commitment. it doesn't need to be a precise date, is it going to be six months, six years? your agency, sir, and this is not personal to you, is notorious for delayed rules. and we're talking here about life and death, potential crashes. can you give us a more precise timetable? dr. cliff: thank you, senator. i don't have a precise timetable, but if confirmed, i commit to working on this issue expeditiously. >> one of these companies, tesla , is under investigation. there are several investigations. dr. cliff: the investigations that you are talking about we are working to complete. we are working to actually gathering information and we hope you have those
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investigations wrapped up soon. i do not have a precise timeline at the time. >> three months, six months, 10 months. early in the new year can you give us a general timeframe? dr. cliff: i can say in a typical investigation that it is usually several months before we take the next step in the action. we are gathering the data now and the next steps will be determined. >> what do you think the next steps will be? >> at this time, senator, i don't have anything to offer -- >> can you give us more transparency in a written response to questions i put to you about what you are finding? dr. cliff: thank you, senator i look forward to those questions and we would be glad to respond. >> i am going to yield now. but i look forward to getting something in writing that satisfies my expectations about precision and some type of
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certainty about what the timelines are. >> thank you, madam chair. congratulations to each of the nominees. welcome. admiral phillips, i want to follow up with a conversation you and i had yesterday. as you know, i have significant concerns over the biden administrations ongoing attack on the energy industry, and the negative impact it is having on energy production in texas. in this case, i am concerned about how it could impact the application process or deepwater ports licensing. as of november 15, there are five pending applications under review for the deep port licensing program. four of those five are off of the coast of texas. blue marlin, bluewater, gulf lake, and seaport oil terminal. these projects create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars
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in economic benefits. once operational, these deepwater ports increase our energy export capabilities, establish greater energy security and support the environment by displacing highly polluting foreign sources of energy. even though the u.s. energy-related co2 emissions have declined by 15% since 2007 and continued to decline, president biden and his appointees have been deeply hostile to projects involved in the transport of oil or natural gas. i am concerned that the administration's approach will be extended to the deepwater projects that contribute to the state of texas and the energy security of the nation, and to the national security and interests of the nation. admiral phillips, if confirmed, you be in a position to approve
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or to deny applications for port project licenses. knowing the benefit that these projects bring to the u.s. economy and to our national security, if they meet the statutory requirements, should they be approved? adm. phillips: senator cruz, thank you for your question and for your time yesterday. i appreciate it. as you are aware, i am not yet in the building. the deepwater ports act of 1974 outlines a nine step process to reach a decision which would allow a program to move forward. should those conditions be met. the maritime administration follows the law in that process and works through that nine step
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process to achieve a decision working with stakeholders, applicants and a number of federal agencies. should i have the honor to be confirmed, i commit to continuing affair and equitable review of that process under the law to move processes forward to achieve a decision. sen. cruz: you gave the same answer yesterday in my office that you would follow the law. my question is if these projects meet the statutory requirements, when they be approved? adm. phillips: thank you, without being in the building or having detailed knowledge of these applications and their outcomes. i can commit that we will review them fairly and equitably, and we will follow the law. sen. cruz: so you are not saying if they meet the statutory requirements they should be approved?
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adm. phillips: should i have the honor to be confirmed -- >> i am asking if they meet the statutory requirements, should they be approved? adm. phillips: and i'm committing that we will follow the law and review them fairly and equitably to achieve a decision. >> that does not sound like a yes. do you share the hostility to oil and gas that so many other biden administration appointees do? adm. phillips: senator, thank you for that question. i cannot answer the specifics of others. >> do you have a hostility to the oil and gas -- adm. phillips: the maritime administration -- >> i am asking you personally. this is a yes or no question. do you have a hostility to oil and gas projects? this should be a simple question. adm. phillips: i do not have a hostility to following the law -- >> i didn't ask you that.
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i asked, do you have a hostility to oil and gas projects? adm. phillips: senator, i am thanking you for your question. and i am stating i will follow the law equitably -- >> highly disappointing to set that you --that you are not even willing to say that you have a hostility to these projects? i am asking if she would have a hostility to oil and gas, if you ask a witness if you have a hostility to airplane manufacturing, i would be willing to bet they would be pretty upset at that. the biden administration is singling out texas and refusing to invest in texas. >> i think she is saying she is going to get in there to what the law ours. >> i would like to move to senator markey if i could. >> thank you, madam chair.
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i want to ask dr. cliff to focus on the issue of seatback safety. cvs put up spotlight --cbs put a spotlight on this process and i think it is important for us to get this done once and for all. inside the infrastructure bill there is a provision which i offered working with senator blumenthal to deal with the fact that there is an antiquated and ineffective standard for seatback integrity, the front seats of cars often collapsed after a crash so that the seeds --sending the seats and the occupants careening, often including children, you can be
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hit by a projectile coming towards them and these seats kill about 50 children a year in the united states and have been doing so for years. unconscionably, the auto industry has refused to address these questions for more than 50 years despite having data from nhtsa showing it would cost less than five dollars per seat fix the problem. thankfully, we have now passed the legislation and sent over the authority to nhtsa to deal with this. dr. cliff, will you prioritize seatback safety and advance this rulemaking as quickly as possible? dr. cliff: senator markey, thank you for that question. absolutely, if i am confirmed i will prioritize the leadership that you provided in the bipartisan law to advance rulemaking. >> and you are aware of the
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danger of those seatbacks collapsing into children in the backseat? dr. cliff: thank you, senator. our conversation today was very illuminating and i appreciate talking about it with you. >> so you will prioritize rulemaking of those seatbacks hitting children in the backseat? dr. cliff: we look forward to prioritizing the instruction given to us in the law. >> and there are three other provisions that senator blumenthal and i offered as well that are in the infrastructure bill, as well as other safety protections which are backlogged at nhtsa. will you pay increased attention to clearing out that backlogged so we have safety protections which are put on the books in area after area which congress
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has legislated? dr. cliff: the bipartisan law gives us the resources we need to get through that backlog. >> thank you very much. right now, biden administration is considering due fuel economy standards which would cost -- cut energy use and save consumers money, the best option would increase fuel economy standards by 10% between 2024 and 2026, achieving a total fuel economy average of 51 by 2026. nhtsa's statutory authority requires standards to be set at the maximum feasible level did language that i worked to author and pass in the 2007 energy bill. dr. cliff, the 10% year-over-year in fuel economy
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sees the largest net benefits through the year 2050, as well as would return us to the fuel consumption trajectory example five by the 2012 standards, do you agree that this would exemplify the maximum part of the feasible standards goal which is being given to you and your agency to implement? dr. cliff: thank you, senator markey about russian. -- for that question. we put out this proposal and we are now evaluating more than 67,000 comments were received on it. we are analyzing those comments and doing additional modeling and look forward to finalizing this rule prior to april to determine what is the maximum feasible. >> again maximum feasible is
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focused on a feasibility. if it is feasible, we should do it because we lost four years during the trump administration. and looking at the options nhtsa is looking at, the middle option provides $100 billion of net benefits from 2020 12 2050, whereas the more ambitious 10% increase produces more benefits. from my perspective, that is where we have to be as a nation otherwise we won't get all the benefits but we will also be falling behind china and other countries. so it is imperative that we catch up. so i would only ask you, dr., that if confirmed as administrator will you work with me to develop new maximum feasible fuel economy standards for model years after 2026 which
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will spur additional fuel economy improvements for passenger cars and light trucks? dr. cliff: thank you, if confirmed i would be glad to work with you on that. >> your background has made you the perfect person for this job. >> thank you, senator markey and for bringing up a very important subject. senator sullivan. >> thank you, admiral phillips i want to thank you. i really enjoyed our discussion. i want to thank you for your service, your navy service in particular. i'm not going to beat a dead horse with what senator cruz mentioned. it's clear to me that there is a split in this administration. we are producing more natural gas than anyone else in the world.
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more oil. more renewables. so recently, that's where we were. i'm not going to question you, you are a military person, 30 years in, very impressive. it's a no-brainer what is going on, there is a split in the administration. if you increase exports of lng to our partners in asia significantly, there are studies that show global greenhouse measures would decline. i'm not going to dwell too much. but this is an important issue to me, too. it is important to any american. unilaterally disarming our energy sectors makes no sense. the hostility from some quarters, not all, the biden administration, makes no sense. if someone calls you and says
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hey, admiral shut it down, that's what i worry about. you won't accept outside influence if you decide on your own merits, they are doing it, you or someone who i don't think would so to that kind of pressure. adm. phillips: senator, thank you. thank you for your time discussing matters important to you in alaska and others. i appreciate that. my response, i am not in the building so i do not have details. in the interest of following along and going within the boundaries of important infrastructure developments, we have the opportunity to build resiliency
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and make change and improve our infrastructure in ways we have not been able to do in the past. and a look forward to working with you on that. >> i mentioned in our meeting the department of defense, i have the department of defense commissioner report on the assessment of the strategic seaports, the two lowest rated where the port of tacoma and alaska. i know the chairman cares about this issue as well. will you just recommit to work with me, and i'm sure senator cantwell is interested as well. this is kind of a win-win from two very important parts. dashboards. -- ports. adm. phillips: i look forward to working with you and your staff on this committee more broadly,
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in particular, to work on port infrastructure development nationwide and thank you for forwarding the study you forwarded yesterday. i did review it and look forward to working with other federal entities, the dod and others to build resilience and stability across our port infrastructure. >> i did ask yesterday. you and i worked involved with this. the port of anchorage has had this long-running lawsuit against rule the other day in favor of anchorage. in my own view we need to settle this. i want to get a commitment from you there's going to be damages award element of this . one dollar or several hundred million but i don't want
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somehow a significant sum. anchorage won that lawsuit so we're not going to provide them any additional funds. that would be very unfair. can i get a commitment from you on that? i don't want double dipping here. you and i have talked a long time about this, tens of millions or hundreds of millions of legal fees. i don't want them saying they got an award so we're not going to use any of the infrastructure dollars to help them would seem to be penalizing >> thank you for your question. i am aware of the lawsuitand of the recent, yet as i am not yet in the in co administration i don't have any details current or future that may impact that particular outcome . what i can commit to you as
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applicants to the port infrastructure development program will get a fair and equitable review of their application irrespective of so that we can move forward t. again to take advantage of this generational opportunity . >> thank you and madam chair i have questions forthe other witnesses and i will submit those for the records . >> senator peters, technically your next but senator lujan has been waiting a long time. >> i be happy to defer. >> senator lujan. >> i appreciate that chair cantwell. doctorcliff, the mission of the national highway traffic safety administration has never been more important . according to the agency in 2020 , the united states had a 7.2 percent increase in traffic fatalities despite a 13.2 percent reduction in miles traveled.
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2021 is worse with an additional 18.4 percent increase in deaths during the first six months of this year. the increases in alcohol and drug use as at a terrible impact . nhtsa found that the proportion of drivers with opioids in their system nearly doubled in march 2020. while the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana rose by 50 percent. in your current role as deputy administrator, i just gave you a mandate to save lives and prevent injuries. that is why i introduced the right act or the honoring of family legacy to terminate drunk driving. congresswoman dingle, senator scott, peters and i believe nhtsa needed to be pushed to do a better and get impaired drivers off the road. fortunately this committee, senate and president agree. now the hall to act as federal law and president has nominated you to oversee implementation of the most important safetystandards in over a decade . but the work has only just begun and this cannot be an another rulemaking where
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nhtsa blows through the statutory deadlines. there are too many lives on theadline . every additional year means 10,000 preventable deaths and countless injuries. i'm grateful that this week you said your quote, committed to expeditiously implanting the lives advanced and impaireddriving technology provision . doctor cliff i would like a clear timeline. o,yes, sir no is nhtsa prepared to implement the federal motor vehicle safety standard established by the holdback within the 3 to 5 years required in section 24220 of the eye i ja . >> thank you for that question senator lujan and thank you for your leadership on this importantissue . absolutely yes. >> this can't afford to wait and i want to work with you to make sure iris is you the resources you need to implement this legislation within the deadline. madam chair, i would have a series of documents i asked to be submitted to therecord
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. the first document is reporting by hennings motor use title general motors onboard experimental alcohol and drug impairment detection device. of the 1970s. the second is from nbc news january 2007 with an announcement from toyota motor corporation that they're developing a failsafe system for cars that detect drunk driving and automatically cashut the vehicle down if sensors pick up signs of excessive alcohol consumption. there's a third is a press release stating that volvo cars believe intoxication and distraction should be addressed by installing in car cameras and other sensors that monitor the driver and allow the car to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to the warning
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signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury and finally the fourth document is a report on test results performed in the 2021 super guide from european counterparts and cap which gave the model its highest rating in states that the car quote, a system which monitors the drivers state of alertness directly by accessing eye-movement and indirectly from hearinginputs which can provide indications of fatigued or impaired driving . >> without objection. >> doctor cliff, auto manufacturers have been developing this technology for 40 years. in november 2020 nhtsa requested information on available for late stage technologies under it development for impaired driving mitigation. doctor cliff, based on your rfi car manufacturers claims i mentioned and cars already on the road you believe impaired driving technology using driver monitoring is best suited to meet the mandates under the holdback west and mark. >> thank you for that question. i think that there are many
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promising technologies including driver monitoring and the dance technology that you mentioned that can help move forward on this issue. we're continuing our research and thankfully because of the resources provided in the bipartisan infrastructure law we will have an opportunity to advance that technology development . >> appreciate that and doctor cliff i want to try a different story as well about one of my constituents. 2015 a 16-year-old riley eric klein was driving to high school in albuquerque new mexico. she was driving responsibly under the speed limit with a cell phone zipped in his backpack. ronnie got into an accident with a semi trailer and a civic was pinned underneath it and dragged half a mile until itburst into flames . rileyburned to death . on his way to school that day. under precious crashes occur when an automobile collides with the side of a truck or a
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semi trailer due to the high differential between the vehicles collides partially or completely under the side of the semi trailer. these pressures are dangerous and often result in severe injuries and death like in the case of riley. the question i have madam chair because my time is expired and i'll submit to the record but it's going to be important to hear from you doctor on what nhtsa will do with the research required in this legislation where congress has already taken action. and behind family continues to share this story because theydon't want other families to go through what they did . i want to commend you for the work that you're going to do. i look forward to your expeditious confirmation so we can get to work and get this done. >> thank you senator lujan. senator peters. >> thank you mister chairman and thank you senator lujan for your leadership.
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on our legislation which i was proud to cosponsor with you and i know the family as you know, the family is a wonderful amazing family in michigan and the tragic death of members of that family to a drunk driver on a nighttime drive back from florida with the entire family, with a drunk driver on the wrong side of the highway crashed into them and killed the entire family. threesmall children , a mother and father whose it was a horrific thing. i still vividly remember the funeral where the community turned out . it's clear one of the saddest funerals i've ever been to to see a beautiful young family died so tragically on that highway. so this legislation must get enacted. we've e passed it. it's critically important that doctor cliff, you focus on that.
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that we get it done. there are so many other families that suffered similar tragedies and thousands of people everyday. i hope you prioritize that . i will be working with senator lujan and many others will be making surethat you do that i hope i got your commitment to make that a priority . >> you have my commitment. >> in addition to the lives lost from john drunk driving and other substances, we lose a lot of other lives on the highway. nearly 38,000 people lost lives on our highways and we know most of those accidents as you know are from human error. we have technology that's now being developed that can take the human error aspect out of driving and create incredible safety particularly with autonomous vehicles. that's the thing that excites me most about this technology is that it literally will save tens of thousands of lives each and every year but we need to fully develop this technology. our auto companies are spending considerable amount of resources to get there but we need to have a legislative
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remark in place that allows the technology to move as al quickly as possible. i think when it comes to moving quickly, we know that roughly it works out to 100 people die on our highways every day. every single day we can do this technology up and running saves a lot of people. as cumulative. i know you've talked about autonomous vehicles but my clients, several of my colleagues have raised questions related to autonomous vehicles and i appreciate your support when we talk as well prior to this hearing. but in the spirit of making this a reality we do commit to providing timely feedback and technical assistance on legislative efforts that i'm engaged in with a number of my colleagues here. we have to get this done. tell me your commitment. not just yes, sir no, how committed are you? >> if confirmed i am committed.
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as i said in that conversation i look forward to working with you. i know you and your office have lots of expertise on this issue. >> the other thing i think is important doctor cliff is how nhtsa communicates with the public about these autonomous technologies in automation. to help ensure that the discussion puts the safety record in context and what i mean by that is an always concerned that a single high profile accident which will happen as this technologies developed can make this new technology seem unsafe to the public. but in reality we know that cars driven by humans are going to prevent a much larger safety risk than these technologies as they continue to be developed so i think it's important not to unfairly prejudice public opinion as to the potential benefits of this life-saving technology . how do you think nhtsa needs
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to connect it back to the public at largeas those technologies develop ? >> thank you senator for that question. i agree that we want to avoid hyperbole. we want to ensure we are av putting into context the data we collect and ensuring that as we put out information to the public that we're doing so in the best scientific fashion that we can. we are a data driven agency and we will rely on those data to inform ourfuture actions . we need to make sure we're doing so in astraightforward and engineering scientific way . >> good and as you move forward to help us move this technology, do you think there are additional resources or barriers you face in getting us to the place we need to be? how can we be helpful here?
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how can congressassist your efforts and the efforts of nhtsa to bring this technology to the forefront ? >> if confirmed i would be glad to continue to work with you and advance any ideas that we have that we believe might be barriers. >> appreciate it. thank you madam chair. >> cute senator peters and thank you for your comments about the legislation and the families . it's very moving and we moved to work on thatwe will move to senator young . >> thank you madam chair. in 2018 a driver struck and killed three youngstudents and severely injured a fourth student while they were boarding a school bus in rochester indiana . in 2019 pool bus drivers throughout indiana documented every stop violation that
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occurred during one single day of the morning and afternoon routes. and one day more than 2500 stop violations occurred. that's why i introduced a stop for school buses act with senator peters to address this problem. bipartisan legislation requires nhtsa to perform a comprehensive evaluation of methods to prevent the dangerous and illegal passing of school buses and loading zones. this important legislation was recently signed into law. doctor cliff, if confirmed will you commit to strictly implement this bill and prevent dangerous and illegal passing of school buses western mark. >> thank you for that question. if confirmed ilook forward to moving forward on these provisions .>> thank you doctor. the united states is a leader in emerging transportation
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technologies and as a matter of national and economic security we have to maintain that leadership edge as other countriesworked to erode america's competitive advantage . at the same time there's an ta epidemic of roadway fatalities and injuries on our roadways. nhtsa reported an 18.4 percent increase in roadway fatalities in the first half of 2021 . tens of thousands of americans lose their lives every year in motor vehicle crashes andmillions more are injured . the vast majority of these class crashes are caused by human error and autonomous vehicle technology remains removed human error from the equation. since i joined the senate five years ago senator thune has been pushing the same bipartisan av start act, a bill that passed this committee by voice vote in 2017 . and yet we came here today
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and that bill has gone nowhere because isof the trial lawyers and politics being played by some of my colleagues on the other side of the island. sadly that means that once we finally do pass senator thune great bipartisan av start act , and i believe we will soon, some members of this committee will have literally contributed to sending the united states back bmultiple years. and the rates against china and other nations. doctor cliff, while your testimony mentions the increased traffic fatalities i was disappointed that you made no mention of autonomous vehicles. can you share your thoughts on the importance of supporting american innovation and roadway safety and theautonomous vehicle sector ? >> thank you senator for that question. nhtsa our role is to optimize safety as we allow for innovation .
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we are, we believe these new technologies hold promise as you indicate and i think there's an opportunity for us fo to continue to advance innovation while ensuring safety along the way. atfull maturity, the safety of technologies you identify are unprecedented . but we can't forgo the safety in the interim as we get to that full maturity. >> if confirmed sir what concrete steps will you take to promote the near-term deployment ofself driving vehicles ? >> if confirmed i look forward to continuing to ensure that we are providing the exemptions under the law and as directed by the fast act as well as using the new research dollars provided under the bipartisan infrastructure law advance our understanding ofthese technologies . >> thank you sir, i look t
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forward to working together on this and pushing the envelope to ensure that your exploiting all legal and responsible opportunities to make sure you're able to deploy self driving vehicles at the earliest opportunity thank you so much, i yelled back . >> senator young, we did have senator scott, senator johnson and cinema may be joining us remotely . i don't know if they're out there, it's hard to see if you have anybody on camera now but if there's some at the home office is the time to have them join. while we are waiting to see if we have a response i want to ask one last question to you mister putnam about the implementation of the bipartisan law dot is set to receive 567 billion over five years and 80 percent increase from the fast act to help modernize every aspect of our transportation system. this includes a 221 percent
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increase in the capacity for things that will impact our supply chain and eliminate great bottlenecks. for example in the state of washington that would be things related to five, things related to the major export center for us. i went to which there's the means of needed infrastructure. there are also places, highway two the last 15 years as more than six people died on highway two, an average of maybe 2000 vehicles in that passageway every year. as the asian-pacific becomes a bigger destination for us product all the wayfrom , through the midwest all the way to the coast getting our infrastructure to help deal with the supply chain is radical so how can we get the
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implementation of these programs and talk about how dot can help get these implemented as well. >> thank you senator cantwell for the excellent questionand that is top of mind atthe department right now . a very high level , the secretary is directed the creation of executive policy council headed by the deputy secretary. staffed by the undersecretary , i'm a member of that along with all of the operating administration administrators for acting administrators. a very high level, it has a focus but we're taking a complete and thorough review from beginning to end of the process. making sure that we get guidance in place. make surethat we get the appropriations tables out . allocation tables out. starting to work on common language on notices of funding opportunities so we can streamline the process.
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technical assistance for many of the things rural, urban, freight. all across the country, tribal so we can make sure we get good projects in the pipeline that we get good applications in. look at the permitting process. look at the process of documenting those decisions and then all the way through to actually implementingthose projects, overseeing those and closing them out . if confirmed, i look forward to continuing my efforts to implement that process. certainly there's a legaldg component and a budget component and management component to make sure we have a staff in place to do that . it's the whole of department efforts . >> you think these things in areas where we authorize things like megaprojects which is not moving major projects, many of them definitely related to our economic success as a nation. and moving at red cross and other new programs to help where congestion occurs.
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many of our cities and towns as freight moves through them and obviously the increase in the courts program. so all of these are a big priority to moving parts. this is something you think will be the be done early in january western art. >> thank you chair cantwell. we started the conversations about megaprojects, about some supply chainrecognizing the priorities associated with those given the current challenges . so they are top focus. we're bringing in additional staff and talent as you likely read in the news or press releases in order to make sure that we have really the best and brightest on those problems . and try to focus on that as quickly as we can out of the gate . >> i will always say all courts are off when it comes to my state so we're excited about this level of investment just because we
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have seen thechallenges and again we may be the throughput but we see products from all over the united states and we know rates can't wait . if it does we're going to lose competitively to other nations who have made major infrastructure investments so i'm glad you have been able to get back to the panel with answers about the specifics of what the agency is undertaking. that's why we want to get you over there sowe can get the legal aspects taken care of . i don't see nkanybody joining us on camera.we'd like to thank all of you for being here. senators will have until tuesday, december 21 at noon to submit records and one week to respond to those questions so thank you for your willingness to participate today and that concludes our hearing. >> you chair cantwell.
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>> this afternoon white house press secretary john jen psaki hold a press conference. you can also watch online at c-span.org for watchful coverage on our new video app, c-span now. >> download c-span's new mobile app and stay up-to-date with live video coverage of the day's biggest political events from live streams the house and senate floor and key congressional hearings to white house events and supreme court oral arguments . even our live interactive running program washington journal where we hear your voices every day. we have you covered, download the app for free today. >> book tv every sunday on c-span2 features leading authors discussing their
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latest nonfiction books . 2 pm eastern, wealth management expert david bronson discusses his book there's no free lunch. 250 economic truths in which he argues that the us free enterprise system is being threatened by socialistand progressives . then at 10 pm eastern on "after words" political scientist barbara walter with her book how civil war start and how to stop them which examines the warning signs that often precede civil wars and asks the question another one happen in the us.she's interviewed by chief college middle east studies chair stephenheinemann . watch tv every sunday on c-span2 and find us. on your program guide or watch online anytime at book tv.org. >> at least six presidents recorded conversations while in office . here many of those on c-span's new podcast presidential recordings.
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>> she's in one focuses on the presidency of lyndon johnson junior about the civil rights act, 1964 presidential campaign, tonkin incidentmarch on selma and the war in vietnam . not everyone knew they were being recorded . >> certainly johnson secretaries new. because they were tasked with transcribing many of those conversations. in fact, they were the ones who made sure the conversations were taped as johnson would signal to them through an open door between his office and there's. >> you'll also hear someblunt talk . >> i want to report of the number of people that were assigned to kennedy when the day he died and the number assigned to me now and if mine are not blessed i want and blessed right quick and if i can't ever go to the bathroom iwill go. i promise i won't go anywhere, i'll stay right
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behind these blankets . >> presidential recordings, find it on the mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. >>. t >> will get your calls and comments momentarily. start with the first one that happened on monday with the li supreme court, this is associated press headline on that story. the justices to hear challenge to race in college admissions. the conservative dominated

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