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tv   Confirmation Hearing for Transportation Dept. Nominees  CSPAN  February 2, 2022 7:38am-9:46am EST

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department. this is just over two hours.
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>> the committee will come to order. we are having a full hearing today on the nominations for several positions. three very important nominations , department of transportation. we welcome the nominees and their families and thank them for their willingness to serve. first, we will consider the nomination of rear admiral and phillips -- ann phillips. welcome. we are currently facing unprecedented challenges about reports of sexual assault the marine academy, investments into our port to ease congestion, and the need for strong leadership at the helm of the maritime administration. we are admiral phillips has significant experience in the
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u.s. navy in many challenging situations, including operation desert shield, desert storm, in her capacity as director of the surface warfare for the chief of naval operations. after 31 years of naval service, she serves as a special assistant to the virginia governor with a focus on coastal adaptation and protection. she has been a trailblazer across her career, the first female commodore that her squadron and first female director of the surface warfare, now the first female administrator. i look forward to seeing her confirmed as the next administrator. next, the nomination of dr. cliff. welcome. he is the administrator o nixaf -- of the national highway and transportation. thank you for your willingness to serve. the mission is to save lives and prevent injuries and reduce the
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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 emergency braking, lane assist, and impaired driving technology. the law includes historic funding levels for the highway safety grants, which will help cities from distracted impaired driving and improve occupant reduction in pedestrian safety. at a time when roadway fit audis are the highest level since 2007, and as electric and automated vehicles are becoming a larger part of our economy, it has never been more important to have leadership that will take on these challenges. . cliff serves as deputy
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administrator at nhtsa with an extensive scientific and regulatory background. in addition to working at the university of california davis, he has held various positions at the california air resource board, including most recently as deputy executive officer. his work included program oversight of regulation and working on program development. i look forward to asking you some important safety questions related to nhtsa. finally, the nomination considered for the general counsel for the department of transportation. the general counsel for the department of transportation is the chief legal officer of the department and legal advisor to the secretary, also overseeing the office of aviation consumer protection. as we were talking before the hearing convened yesterday, yesterday's hearing, the need to focus on consumers' refund issues and the roles the dot has
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on that is an important issue to get consumers the refunds they deserve. also, the responsibilities involve coordinating regulatory and legislative effort. these nominations come in the the bipartisan law which provides an historic amount of money to the department for various things, incorporating safety and rulemaking. the counsel's office will be tasked with setting up grant programs for freight infrastructure, something that many on this committee have interest in, and as we have seen, problems in our supply chain can quickly cascade throughout our economy. the department also has jurisdiction over civil aviation. the committee has been focused on aviation systems, making sure they are safe and that the ecosystem is poised to grow.
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congress has given the department a lot of work in this respect, including the aviation manufacturing jobs program, mandating safety rulemaking to make sure consumers are protected. mr. putnam, i plan to ask you about the department's work to expedite faa rulemaking as part of the aviation safety law we passed last year, that senator wicker and i worked so diligently on and our team. part of that rulemaking includes a safety management system requirement for manufacturers. this is critical and one of the key recommendations not only of our committee but other organizations around the world. safety management systems are critical for aviation. and also, as i mentioned, i wanted to ask you about what we are doing about the backlog of
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consumer complaints filed against airlines for failure to refund during the pandemic. and about what the department is going to do on pipeline safety. just yesterday, a grand jury indicted amplify energy and two subsidiaries for behavior in the aftermath of an oil spill in california, referencing multiple warnings ignored, allegedly, by amplify energy, including eight alarms for leak detection systems over 13 hours. amplify failed, as the allegations say, to turn off the pipeline and report the alarm, which possibly resulted in potentially avoidable harm to our fragile coastal ecosystem. this spill was caused by a
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ship's anchor dragging a pipeline. the coast guard must improve the oversight of pipeline and anchorage locations and we must assess the risk posed by existing pipelines near shipping channels and anchorages. this is why it is important to have leadership at the department of transportation, so i look forward to your confirmation and leadership on these issues. thank you all again for your willingness to serve. i turn it over to my colleague, senator wicker, the ranking member, for his opening statement. sen. wicker: thank you. we have worked together closely on items such as the airline safety legislation. on these nominees, secretary buttigieg came to visit some of us in the capitol last week, so i do appreciate the chair calling this hearing today and seeking to move forward on these nominations. these positions are key leadership roles at dot, making it all the more vital that the
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committee assess each nominee's qualifications and plans. mr. putnam is serving as deputy general counsel at dot, and has also served as acting general counsel. his experience has undoubtedly giving him valuable experience with the duties of general counsel, and has practiced transportation law in private practice, so i look forward to seeing how these credentials could benefit the public. dr. cliff is deputy administrator of nhtsa. he joined the department from the california air resources board as deputy executive director. he also worked for the department of transportation of california and as a professor at cal davis. i am curious to hear how these roles will inform his approach at nhtsa. his testimony today will allow
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him to articulate to the committee how he plans to improve safety for the traveling public. rear admiral phillips is presently serving as the special assistant to governor northam for coastal adaptation and protection. she has a distinguished career in the u.s. navy for 30 years, retiring with the rank of rear admiral in 2013. i'm interested to hear from her regarding her plans on carrying out the critical duties of administrator, including oversight of the merchant marine academy and its program, as the chair mentioned, in addition to strategic efforts to grow the u.s. fleet. i want to note that i am disappointed and puzzled at one entity's recent refusal to provide drafting assistance, improving protections for
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midshipmen, which is a bipartisan provision to address sexual harassment and assault problems that we have. and that the academy is determined to address also. it came as a surprise to me. i hope admiral phillips, if confirmed, will work for a collaborative relationship and assist the legislative branch when that is possible. i want to thank all these nominees and the chair for expeditiously calling this hearing, and i yield back. sen. cantwell: thank you, senator wicker. rear admiral, we will start with you. we're asking each of you to give five minutes of testimony, submit anything longer for the record, and we certainly welcome you, if you would like, to introduce your family or any other additional statements. thank you. rear adm. phillips: thank you,
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madam chair. senator cantwell, ranking member wicker, members of the committee, it is an honor to hear before you today for the position of maritime and further. i want to thank president biden and secretary buttigieg for nominating me to this role that's critical to our economic and national security. i would like to introduce my husband, who is watching virtually, and my brother, dr. jonathan phillips, who is here today. if i'm honored enough to be confirmed, i will work diligently to execute the responsibilities of maritime administrator in a position that is key in the department of transportation as we work to strengthen our merchant marine, the resilience of our supply chain, and implement an historic investment in maritime infrastructure. i intend to work closely with members of this committee and your colleagues to advance our nation's goals.
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i know from my experience on the staff of the chief of naval operations the critical work of congressional committees and how hard you work to meet the needs of your constituents and communities. i know how important it is to listen and work with you to find broad, bipartisan solutions to the challenges we face. during my career, i have the honor of holding command at sea three times at several levels. as a commander in strike group two, i worked to ensure capacity and support for a host of strategic response missions. as a result of my experience in this and other assignments, i understand the critical role of our commercial merchant marine in providing the vital sea lift on which our military provides, and have seen many of the challenges facing our commercial fleet. i served as deputy director and director of surface warfare in the pentagon, submitting a plan
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for the provision of the service force, including weapons system and trading systems and retired as rear admiral in 2013. for the past three years i have served as a special assistant to governor ralph northam for coastal protection in virginia, developing and delivering the commonwealth's first master plan to put forward strategies to protect coastal infrastructure from sea level rise and coastal hazards. throughout my career, safety has been at the forefront of my mission. the foundational priority for u.s. dot will always be safety. likewise, safety will be the northstar for the maritime administration should i have the honor of being confirmed. in addition, my priorities will be a competitive, safe and modern maritime industry capable of sealift requirements and capable of competing.
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second, to continue work initiated by dot to address challenges to the merchant marine academy, including measures to induce a safe training environment on campus and at sea, where sexual assault and harassment are not tolerated, further advancing the ongoing efforts to advance the academy's infrastructure challenges and supporting effective governance and tackling the other issues enumerated in the study recently released by the national academy of public administration. third and finally, support effective and speedy implementation of the grant program authorized under the infrastructure, investment and jobs at. as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we have a once in a generation opportunity to improve our maritime systems,
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supply chain infrastructure, and industry, and ensure that it equitably serves all americans and communities of all sizes. i look forward to working closely with you all to achieve these goals. i'm confident my lifetime of service at sea, my experience commanding maritime operations, my background managing physical resources for the surface force, and my recent experience crafting coastal adaptation strategies for virginia has prepared me to serve as maritime administrator. i thank the committee for the opportunity for allowing me to appear here today and i welcome questions. sen. cantwell: thank you. dr. cliff, welcome. you are welcome to make your opening statement. dr. cliff: thank you, chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of the committee.
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i'm honored to appear before you today. i want to thank the president and secretary buttigieg, my wife and children and everyone watching online. i spent my entire career as a public servant, first as a scientist at the university of california at davis, and then for more than a decade in various technical and leadership roles in the california government. now if i'm honored enough to be confirmed, i will draw upon this experience to make the transportation system safer. nhtsa's mission of saving lives is very personal to me, just as it is for too many americans. in high school, i rode in a caravan with a group of friends to the beach. one of the cars driven by my best friend crossed the median, flipped, and collided with
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another car. pylons were the only median barriers at the time. three of the four occupants, including my best friend, were killed. my life was changed forever. this tragedy led my parents and my hometown to start an event to reduce tragedies like this, and while neither alcohol nor drugs played a role in what i described, these safe and sober graduation night parties have no doubt prevented many senseless deaths since that terrible day. since february of 2021, i have served as deputy administrator at nhtsa, working with some of the most dedicated and professional public servants i have ever encountered. nhtsa is focused on making vehicles safer for everyone and integrating policies that make transportation more safe, equitable, and sustainable. like the rest of the department,
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i am gravely concerned about the increase in traffic fatalities during the pandemic. secretary buttigieg rightfully called it a crisis. while many stopped driving in the early days of the pandemic, those who remained on the road were more likely to engage in risky behaviors. we have seen an unprecedented rise in roadway fatalities that i'm committed to turning around. we have a lot to learn about why driving behaviors changed the pandemic, how we can encourage people to make safer choices, and how to change a culture that accepts the loss of thousands of people in roadway crashes as inevitable. we continue to work with safety stakeholders around the country to develop countermeasures, but more work needs to be done. a cultural change will take a transformational and collaborative approach to safety. everyone, including those who design, operate, build, and use the road system, shares responsibility for road safety. by taking a safe systems approach, we commit to improving
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safety for all road users. it incorporates the five e's --equity, engineering, education, enforcement and emergency medical services. the bipartisan infrastructure law will be central to these efforts, increasing nhtsa's budget by 50%, the largest investment in motor vehicle and highway safety since nhtsa was established over 50 years ago. this funding will improve our understanding of where and how crashes happen by improving data quality and expanding reporting, moving from paper-based collection systems to digital. the law will broaden the crash investigation sampling system by expanding the number of sites and enhancing protocols. these improvements will allow us to understand in real-time the causes of crashes and help us
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address them. nhtsa is also responsible for setting the corporate average fuel economy standards. i am committed to making the transportation fleet as efficient as possible to save billions at the pump, improve the country's energy security and protect the environment. we will focus on safe, equitable and environmentally protective policies. if i have the honor of being confirmed as administrator of nhtsa, i commit to continuing to work with members of this committee to improve roadway safety, foster innovation, advance transportation equity and address climate change. chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of the committee, thank you for your consideration. i look forward to your questions. sen. cantwell: thank you, dr. cliff. thank you for sharing that very personal story. thank you for sharing that with us. i'll bet you every member of
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this committee knows of an experience like the one you described, so thank you and thanks to your family for also trying to do something for young people. mr. putnam, welcome. thank you for your willingness to serve. mr. putnam: thank you very much. chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of the committee, i am humbled and honored to appear before you today as the nominee for general counsel for the u.s. department of transportation. i would like to begin by thanking the president and secretary buttigieg for the faith they have placed in me. this opportunity to serve as the -- is the privilege of a lifetime. i would like to thank my wife, children and family and friends watching remotely. since january of 2021, i have been deputy general counsel for the department. during these 11 months, i have worked with and overseen the efforts of approximately 500 dedicated and highly skilled department attorneys and staff
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addressing numerous transportation legal issues to improve safety, advance equity, strengthen our economy, address climate change, protect consumers and foster innovation. near-term, the most significant challenge and opportunity that we face in the general counsel's office is the implementation of the president's infrastructure law, the once in a generation law enacted by congress last month. it will restore and repair roads, bridges and other infrastructure while focusing on economic opportunity, climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety. it makes the largest investment in public transit and rail passenger service in our history and improves transportation options for millions of americans. it will also strengthen supply chain and enhance resilience by making necessary improvements at our ports, airports, rail and highways.
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it will reduce carbon emissions, promote safety and repair our economy for new and innovative technologies. the investment will create many good paying jobs across the country for years to come. however, historic legislation like the bipartisan infrastructure law must be meshed with the effective implementation to make sure its potential is achieved in a transparent, compliant and compatible manner. the office of general counsel has a critical role to play in this. my experience in the transportation law has prepared me well for this role. prior to joining the administration, i worked most of my career as a transportation and environmental and energy attorney in colorado and in washington, d.c., working with state departments of transportation, local governments and private entities nationwide on a variety of issues.
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most recently, i served as director of environmental programs for the colorado department of public health and environment. in my role as director, i worked closely with other state departments, residents and businesses for transportation projects and greenhouse gases, rural prosperity, greenhouse gas reduction, environment will -- environmental justice and other programs. if i have the honor of being confirmed by this committee in the senate, i vow to work with you to strengthen the department, maintain safety as its guiding priority. i further commit to continue leading an office of general counsel that is responsive to congressional oversight and the expertise shared by you and your staff. i view these principles as vital to the achievement of our shared success. chair cantwell, ranking member wicker and members of this committee, thank you again for your consideration and the
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opportunity to appear before you. i would be pleased to answer any questions. sen. cantwell: thank you. i will start with you, but we have lots of questions, so there may be a second round and i would appreciate everyone being here. the department of transportation has received 5,129 refund complaints about airline issues, and you are looking at a spring of 2022 rulemaking. are you going to clarify what significant delays are? this issue has come up about, you know, if the flight is delayed more than -- to the next day. will you do something to help address that? mr. putnam: the rulemaking on the calendar for this spring is addressing the question of airline refunds as well as addressing some of the
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definitions of unfair and deceptive practices. we are having conversations right now with the aviation consumer protection advisory committee on that question of delays and how to define significant delays and the characterization of that. i would anticipate that would be the subject of future rulemaking based on whatever recommendations the acpac may have. sen. cantwell: thank you. a section of the act set a deadline for the faa to issue a final rule on safety management systems has been implemented. will you work to meet this deadline and work with others on the implementation of it? mr. putnam: thank you. the answer is yes. it is a priority for me and the department to extend safety management systems across aviation, certainly covering manufacturing.
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sen. cantwell: thank you. dr. cliff, what is your plan to address the regulatory backlog related to the mandates in the bipartisan infrastructure bill? there are 11 new vehicle safety rulemakings, including mandates for advanced safety technology, including automatic emergency braking. i already know you are facing a big backlog, so how are you going to help us get these issues addressed? dr. cliff: thank you for your question. thankfully, the law provides a lot of additional resources for the department. as i mentioned, a 50% increase in our budget. there's a number of rulemakings, as you know, that have been mandated by previous surface transportation bills, and there's a serious backlog there, as well as a number of new mandates in the recent bipartisan infrastructure law.
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if confirmed, i will make it a priority to get rid of the backlog and work with this committee to ensure we are moving forward on the new mandates. in fact, as deputy, i have been working diligently with my team to address the backlog and, as you may have seen from the fall unified regulatory agenda, we have aggressive deadlines for those rulemakings. we are looking forward to using the new resources and appreciate your leadership on getting those to us to address this. sen. cantwell: thank you. rear admiral, if confirmed, you will oversee the merchant marine academy. you have heard about the challenges we are facing there. a report found that the academy suffers from staffing and leadership problems to solve these problems. if confirmed, are you willing to step in personally to fix these issues at the academy, including addressing the issue of sexual assault? rear adm. phillips: thank you
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for your question. yes, i am willing to step in personally to address the challenges at the merchant marine academy, particularly starting with the challenges regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment, but also i'm familiar with the outcomes and reporting from the report and will work diligently with your staff and others and with the staff in the maritime administration and dot to continue their hard work and make progress for the maritime academy. sen. cantwell: including working with us on drafting legislation? rear adm. phillips: yes, chair. yes, chair cantwell. i will work with you on the drafting of legislation. sen. cantwell: it is important across every agency we oversee, particularly when there is this element of safety and oversight. we have just got to get clear about where agencies are and where we are and what we can do to implement them. there's just so much change
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happening, we have to be more in sync and working together. if people don't support something, they can tell us, but we have to get some common ground on many of these issues. do you support the jones act? rear adm. phillips: yes, chair cantwell, i support the jones act. sen. cantwell: thank you. lastly, back to you, mr. putnam. i mentioned to you this issue of the california spill. part of the issue is that, you know, we have so much anchorage. we just need additional safeguards in this system. will you commit to reviewing the regulations in light of the california spill and implementing programs to help us have oversight on responding to alarms and the issue of too much anchorage around pipelines? if we basically have given exemptions to allow ships to
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anchor there and there's more traffic and congestion, we are putting ourselves at risk. mr. putnam: the answer is yes. we are reviewing the california incident and other incidents and will continue that process, especially including the implementation of a pipe act an 2020. sen. cantwell: thank you. senator wicker? sen. wicker: thank you. the chair is correct. we have a lot we need to get to. 94% of fatalities in automobile deaths are as a result of human error. you agree with that statistic, do you not? dr. cliff: i think behavioral circumstances are a factor in 94%. i would not necessarily sate is -- say it is human error in all cases. sen. wicker: behavioral? ok. and we are past the point of
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having to debate whether automated vehicles will provide much more safety for the american driving public. we are past that point, are we not? dr. cliff: thank you, ranking member wicker. it is a great question. and i believe, as the secretary buttigieg has said, automated driving systems offer the potential for much more safety as a result of the statistic you mentioned, as well as offering the opportunity to drive down the cost of transportation and providing more sustainability. sen. wicker: that's at least a twofer. i wrote a letter in october raising concerns about the lack of agency action regarding autonomous vehicle technology this year. we received a response last night, which i ask unanimous consent to insert into the record. sen. cantwell: without objection. sen. wicker: thank you.
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let me ask you, dr. cliff. what action will nhtsa take on with regard to what my letter addressed? can you outline for the committee the actions nhtsa will take in the next six months with regard to autonomous vehicles? and will the roadway safety strategy, set to be released next month include policy on , autonomous vehicles? dr. cliff: thank you for the question, ranking member wicker. our approach to automated driving technologies is to prioritize safety. -- optimize safety while using -- leaving room for innovation. nothing in the vehicle safety act gets in the way of the safe testing and piloting of these technologies. the approach that we are taking is to ensure that we have more data to help inform future action, and in light of that,
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we, this summer, put forth a standing general order, which requires the reporting of crash safety data to nhtsa. it is important we have those data, because in order to move forward on any sort of rulemaking, we need additional data and research to inform those actions so the data we are , collecting as part of the standing general orders is the first step in determining what further actions will be necessary. sen. wicker: so the answer would be, because we have not been able to collect the data quite as soon as we had hoped, we are going to have to wait on setting out our plan for the next six months to a year? dr. cliff: thank you, ranking member wicker. we have put out a rulemaking that establishes a framework for autonomous vehicles and we have collected comments and are reviewing. there's a number of actions the
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department can take, including research, data collection efforts, and looking at the stakeholder comments on the framework, that will help inform future action. sen. wicker: this could save lives. i really hope we can speed it along. you want to be careful and i want you to be. mr. putnam, i voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and it has a lot of hard infrastructure in it, and really much more, contrary to some of the things we hear, but there is some concern about the pace of federal permitting. the department of transportation has an opportunity to make a lot of investments. what steps will you take to improve and speed up the permitting process?
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and do you agree that's a problem? mr. putnam: thank you, ranking member wicker. certainly, achieving rapid permitting will be critical to realizing the potential of the bipartisan infrastructure law, so we are taking a number of steps. first and foremost, we will be implementing the one federal decision provision of the law, which includes steps to streamline the permitting process, but we are looking beyond that point to the potential for new categorical exclusions, the potential for other process improvements, so that we can speed along those approvals, focus on the ones that deserve the attention, and clear the way so that we can, you know, move on impactful and likely impactful projects. sen. wicker: there will likely be the opportunity for questions for the record. i want to thank you, madam chair, for underscoring what i said about executive departments
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working with the legislative committees to get things right. it seems to me, having been at sea numerous time, rear admiral phillips would been a great position to understand what our midshipmen go through on the sea and to emphasize the importance of having that sea year. it is supposed to restart december 22 and we expect the leadership to go through with what they told us they would, but perhaps i will have a chance to ask that question, but we have, to me, a resource who has been to sea and perhaps has experienced what our young cadets are seeing now and is in a position to really help us get a grasp on how to stop these
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harassments and attacks. thank you. sen. cantwell: thank you for those comments. senator klobuchar? sen. klobuchar: thank you, chairwoman. thank you to our nominees. i will focus my questions on dr. cliff, because i have long been involved in working on distracted driving, going back to the head of the department of transportation taking on this issue as one of his major focuses, and i think that's because we know it has gotten worse. eight people die and more than 1000 are injured every day in crashes involving distracted driving, and earlier this year, i introduced a bill to create a grant program with nhtsa to encourage states to implement laws banning all non-navigational mobile devices while driving, such as streaming video or video calls on cell phones.
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i personally see drivers doing this in my own state, driving by them, and you see someone on a video call, and the bill was signed into law last month as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. can you talk about how important it is to educate drivers and especially teens about the dangers of distracted driving and what more we need to do? i mean there's carrots and there's makes, more needs to happen. -- there's sticks but more needs , to happen. dr. cliff: thank you. the number of people who die in traffic accidents every year as likely to be underreported. it is difficult to determine distraction as a cause for a roadway fatality. nevertheless, we know it is an important issue. we are committed to working on this. we appreciate the new resources that are in the bipartisan infrastructure law to help us do
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additional research on this and we actually look at the state and local actions that can be taken to educate those in their state when distraction is a particular issue, so thankfully, about a 30% increase in the budget goes to state highway safety offices, and will help in that education role you mentioned. sen. klobuchar: right, and i think we will see how important that will be. one survey found that only about 21% of car owners consider recalls to be a top priority, and the infrastructure bill includes a provision to direct nhtsa to study how to incentivize vehicle owners to get recalled cars repaired and ways to make recall notices more accessible and easier. i have had my own experiences
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with this and i'm sure everyone has. how do we help consumers understand that they need to get their vehicles repaired? dr. cliff: thank you for that question. recalls are a great way to enhance safety before an accident occurs. -- issue actually occurs. if we know there is a problem with the vehicle that needs to be addressed, we want the vehicle to be fixed, and the bipartisan infrastructure law has resources to incentivize that. in particular, the department of motor vehicles having a relationship with the vehicle owner to get information out about recalls. i would note that for anyone who has a vehicle, there's an opportunity to check for recalls. you would be surprised. go to our website and put in your vin number or download the safer car app and it will inform you if there is a recall. sen. klobuchar: ok.
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i didn't know that, helpful to know. last subject, next-generation 911. senator burr and i had up one caucus dealing with that. one of our key focuses, there have been many improvements. the senate reconciliation bill, the build back better bill includes $500 million for nhtsa to begin modernizing the 911 system in a way that i think we really need. can you speak to the importance of upgrading 911 systems and your plans for coordinating with another agency if confirmed? dr. cliff: thank you for that question. we look forward to coordinating with them should that bill passed. next-generation 911 is a critical element of our emergency services system.
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two out of five crash victims is alive when emergency responders get on scene, so having better 911 systems to coordinate with primary care is a real opportunity to improve outcomes for crash victims, and we definitely will work, if confirmed with ntia, to provide any information we have to make that program successful. thank you. sen. klobuchar: thank you. sen. cantwell: next, senator fischer, then senator tester and blackburn. sen. fischer: thank you for being here today. dr. cliff, on october 28, nhtsa reported that in the first six months of this year, traffic fatalities increased 18% over last year, and went on to say that the estimated 20,160 deaths
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is the highest in the first half of a year since 2006. based on your understanding, why are we seeing this concerning increase in highway fatalities? dr. cliff: thank you, senator, for your question. the contributing factors are the same as those that we saw pre-pandemic, but during the pandemic, we have seen that drivers are willing to take riskier action, that is excessive speeding, impaired driving, both alcohol impaired and drug use, as well as being unbelted. more than 10,000 fatalities reported were individuals not wearing a seatbelt, so more education about the dangers of risky driving is going to be extremely important, as well as new technological improvements that will help reduce some of those trends that we see from the uptick in fatalities that you note.
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sen. fischer: in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed, it provides nhtsa with $2.7 billion in new funding over the next five years. as you noted in your testimony, that's roughly a 50% increase from previous levels. how do you plan on using the new funding and, specifically, how do you plan on focusing in on this concerning spike we are seeing? dr. cliff: thank you you, senator, for your question. about two thirds of nhtsa's budget goes through to states for the state highway safety programs, so a large portion of that money will flow to the states in order to provide more opportunity for states to focus on issues that they determine are leading to traffic crashes, so that's one of our opportunities. we also have a huge increase in the research budget that will provide us more opportunity to
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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? -- 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.
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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 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
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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. 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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? 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
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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 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
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questioners, and that will be critically important on the bipartisan infrastructure package and others. how do you square rapid permitting with public safety? dr. cliff: i missed the last part -- mr. putnam: i missed the last part. sen. tester: how do you square rapid permitting with public input on the projects? mr. putnam: thank you for that question. it is a great question. so very little of the process time involves actually getting input, so i think part of it is focusing on those elements, not collecting the public input. it is vital we get the public input early because that actually can help us focus on actual issues and problems, solve those problems early, so you can get a project on track to success, a better project at the end of the day. it is a balance and it will be
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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 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.
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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 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
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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. 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
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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? 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 --
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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. >> 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
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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. 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.
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>> 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, consider climate change impacts, resilient solutions. describe how your prior experiences and help guide d.o.t.'s implementation within the bipartisan infrastructure bill?
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>> 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 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
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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 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
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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 consequences of is that matter. dr. cliff, we directed the dot to identify and report on barriers while researching marijuana, we hope to develop
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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 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
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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 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
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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. cliff, can you share your thoughts of how under your leadership nhtsa will continue to save lives, prevent injuries, reduce economic costs due to crashes. in a increasingly autonomous transportation sector that increasingly uses ai, along with critical cyber security safeguards, do you agree with
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secretary mccaig -- buttigieg, reset automated vehicles can make transportation safer, cleaner and more efficient? >> thank you for the question. i agree with secretary buttigieg . 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. i think there's a lot of opportunity here for technology to help us address the fatalities. >> test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test driving public. numerous members of the committee have heard me say travel and tourism is the lifeblood of never that is
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economy. it is critical to our prosperity to make the air travel experience as enjoyable as possible from planning to actually stepping up a plane in the airport. the office of general counsel at the department of transportation is responsible by the office of aviation consumer protection, in response to consumer complaints and promotes awareness and understanding of consumer rights and performs a critical role of addressing concerns of the traveling public and helps foster a more comfortable experience for leisure travel to make it more safe and enjoyable. can you talk about how if confirmed, manage your specific responsibility in the aviation consumer protection space, and
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your priorities for aviation consumer safety? >> thank you, senator rosen. one of my longest standing clients was big clark county department of aviation, so we understand the crucial role aviation plays and the economy of las vegas and nevada. with regard to be consumer protection role, it's been a major of my time as deputy general counsel. right now certainly addressing the concerns we are hearing from the wave of complaints related to recalls, so ensuring we are addressing those complaints. ensuring we are pushing through with the 18 active investigations related to the failures. looking at the rulemaking discussed by chair cantwell this morning, and ensuring where
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making sure consumers have the right information and are protected correctly by the airlines. in addition on the safety front, working with the federal aviation and discretion to ensure that the related rules are top priority for the department and we do everything we can to support those efforts. >> thank you, i see my time is just about up. i have one more question on planes i will submit those for the record. >> thank you for your work on these issues. >> thank you, madam chair. let me start by talking a little bit about automated vehicles or ev's, which i think will radically alter the way americans move. and it will be especially true for the elderly and people with disabilities whose current transportation options are limited. it has the potential to greatly reduce the average of 40,000 traffic fatalities we see on our
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roadways each year. while u.s. companies currently lead the world in navy technology, this cannot be taken for rented. the framework has got to catch up with private-sector innovation for these technologies to advance. there are tens of thousands of 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 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
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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 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
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-- 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 confirmed would you take their action to confirm the difference between the systems? >> these are different technologies. no vehicle that is available for
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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 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,
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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 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
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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 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 --
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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and we're talking here about life and death, potential crashes. can you give us a more precise timetable? we're talking here about life and death potential crashes. can you give us a more precise timetable? >> thank you, senator. i don't have a precise timetable at this time. but if confirmed, i commit to working on this issue expeditiously. >> let me ask you, one of the companies, tesla, is under investigation right now. i think there are several investigations. can you give us a timetable for completing those investigations? >> thank you, senator. the investigations that you are talking about we're working to complete. we work closely with the manufacture to gather information. we hope to have those investigations wrapped up soon. i do not have a precise time line at this time. if confirmed -- >> three months, six months, ten months? early in the new year?
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can you give us a general time frame? >> i can say in a typical investigation that it's usually several months before we take the next step in the action. we're gathering data now and will determine what those next steps will be. >> what do you think nose next -- think those next steps should be? >> at this time, senator, i don't have anything to offer in terms of the -- >> you can give us more transparency in some kind of written response to questions that i put to you about what you are finding? >> thank you, senator. i look forward to those questions. we would be glad to respond. >> my time has expired. i'm looking forward to getting something in writing that satisfies my expectations about precision and some sense of certainty about what the time lines are. thank you. >> thank you, sir. >> senator cruz. >> thank you, madam chair. congratulations to each of the
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nominees. welcome. admiral phillips, i want to follow up on the conversation you and i had yesterday. as you know, i have significant concerns over the biden administration's ongoing attack on the energy industry. the negative impact it is having on energy production in the state of texas. in this case, i'm concerned also about how it could impact the application process for deep water ports licensing. as of november 15th, there are five pending applications under review through deep port licensing program. four of those five are off of the coast of texas. blue marlin, blue water, gulf link and sea port oil terminal. together, these projects create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic benefit. once operational, these deep water ports increase our energy export capabilities, establish
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greater energy security and support the environment by displacing highly polluting foreign sources of energy. even though the u.s. energy related co2 emissions have declined by 15% since 2007, and they continue to decline, president biden and his appointees have been deeply hostile to any and all projects involved in the transport of oil or natural gas. i am concerned that the administration's approach will be extended to the deep water projects that contribute to the state of texas, to economic and energy security of the nation and to the national security interests of the nation. admiral phillips, if confirmed, you will be in a position to approve or to deny applications for port project licenses. knowing the benefit that these projects bring to the u.s.
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economy and to our national security, if they meet the statutory requirements, should they be approved? >> senator cruz, thank you for your question and thank you for your time yesterday. i appreciate it. as you are aware -- i am not yet in the building. however, under the deep water ports act of 1974, we do review through a system jointly co-chaired a nine-step process to achieve a record of decision which then in theory would allow a program to move forward. should the conditions of that record of decision be met. the maritime administration, as i understand, follows the law in that process and works through that nine-step process to achieve a record of decision working with stakeholders, with applicants and a number of federal agencies.
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should i have the honor to be confirmed, i commit to continuing a fair and equitable review of that process under the law to move processes forward to achieve a record of decision. >> so you gave me the same answer yesterday in my office that you would follow the law. my question is, if these applications meet the legal and statutory requirements, should they be approved? >> senator, thank you for that question. without being in the building and without having detailed knowledge of each of these applications and their outcomes, i can commit to you that we will review them fairly and equitable and we will follow the law to complete -- >> you are not willing to say if they meet the statutory requirements they should be approved? >> should i have the honor to be confirmed and have actual sight of these applications and the outcomes and records of decision -- >> yesterday, you said you would follow the statute. i'm asking if they meet the statutory requirement, should they be approved?
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>> we will follow the law and we will review them fairly and equitable 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? >> senator, thank you for that question. i cannot answer the specifics of others. >> do you have a hostility to oil and gas? i'm asking you. >> i look forward to working with your staff -- >> you are refusing -- this is a yes or no question. do you have a hostility to oil and gas projects? >> senator, i do not have a hostility to following the law and reviewing the process and defined in the law. >> i didn't ask you that. i asked, do you have a hostility to oil and gas projects? >> i am thank you for your
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question. i will follow the law fairly and equitable. >> you are refusing to answer that question. that's disappointing that you are willing to -- that is deeply concerning. >> senator cruz, i think she is saying she's going to follow whatever the -- >> she's not. i'm asking if she has a hostility to oil and gas. if you asked a witness, do you have a hostility to airplane manufacturing and they refused to answer that, i would be willing to bet you would be upset at that. >> look, i think we just made a record investment in port infrastructure. i believe in -- >> the biden administration is singling out texas and refusing to invest in texas. >> she's saying she's going to get in there and see what the law requires. >> she's not. >> i would like to move to senator mamarkey. >> thank you, madam chair. i want to, dr. cliff, put a focus on the issue of seat back
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safety. cbs put a spotlight on this problem. i think it's important to get it done, put safety first once and for all. inside of the infrastructure bill, there is a provision which i authored, working with senator blumenthal, to deal with the fact that there is an antiquated and ineffective standard for front seat integrity. the front seats often collapse after a crash sending the seats and their occupants careening into the back seat of the car, often with children in those back seats. these kids are essentially hit by a projectile which is the front seat of a car, coming towards them and tragically these seats kill about 50 children a year in the united states and have been doing so
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for y unconscionable, the data industry is refuing to deal with this. thankfully, we have passed legislation and sent it -- sent over the authority to nitsa to deal with this problem. dr. cliff, will you prioritize seat back safety and advance this rule making as quickly as possible? >> senator markey, thank you for that question. absolutely. if i'm confirmed. i will prioritize the leadership you provided in the bipartisan infrastructure law to advance rule making. >> you are aware of this danger of those seat backs collapsing into children in the back seat? >> thank you, senator. our conversation yesterday was very illuminating. i appreciated having the opportunity to talk about it with you.
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>> you will prioritize? >> yes, senator. we look forward to prioritizing the instruction given to us in the law. >> three other provisions that senator klobuchar, blumenthal and i authored as well in the infrastructure bill as well as other safety protections which are backlogged at nitsa. will you pay increased attention to clearing out that backlog so that we do have safety protections which are put on the books in area after area where the congress has legislated? >> thank you, senator, for that question. absolutely. the bipartisan infrastructure law gives us the resources we need to get through that backlog and address the rule makings going forward. >> thank you, dr. cliff, very much. right now, the biden
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administration is considering new federal fuel economy standards which would cut our energy use, safe consumers money and protect the climate and public health. the best option would increase fuel economy standards by 10% each model year between 2024 and 2026, achieving a total fleet average fuel economy of 51 miamis per gallon by model year 2026. nitsa's statutory authority requires standards to be set at the maximum feasible level. language that i worked to author, include and pass in the 2007 energy bill. dr. cliff, nitsa concluded the 10% year over year increase in fuel economy produces the largest net benefits through the year 2050 compared to other options as well as would best return us to the fuel consumption trajectory exemplified by the $2012
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standards, which the obama administration used to set those high standards. do you agree that this would exemplify the maximum part of the maximum feasible standards goal which is being given to you and your agency to implement? >> thank you, senator markey, for that question. as you know, we put out this proposal in august. we're now evaluating more than 67,000 comments that we received on it. we're analyzing those comments and doing additional modelling and look forward to finalizing this rule prior to april to determine what is maximum feasible. >> again, maximum feasible is, again, focused on feasibility. if it is feasible, we should do it. we lost four years with the trump administration. we know in looking at the
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options, which nitsa is looking at, the middle option provides $100 billion worth of net benefits from 2021 to 2050. the more ambitious 10% increase produces $131 billion in net benefits. from my perspective, that's where we have to be as a nation. otherwise, we won't get all the benefits. but we will also be falling behind germany and china and other countries in the world. it's imperative we catch up. i would only ask you, doctor, that if confirmed as administrator, will you work with me to develop new maximum feasible fuel economy standards tore model years after 2026, which will spur additional fuel economy improvements of passenger cars and light trucks? >> thank you, senator, for that question. absolutely, if confirmed i would
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be glad to work with you on that. >> i hope you are confirmed. your background has made you the perfect person for this job. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator markey. thank you for bringing up this very important subject. senator sullivan. >> thank you, madam chair. admiral phillips, i want to thank you. i enjoyed our discussion the other day. i want to thank you for your service. it's very impressive, your navy service in particular. your service to our country. i am not going to beat a dead horse with what senator cruz mentioned. there's clear to me that there's a split in this administration. some people get that becoming the world's energy superpower or producing more natural gas than anyone else in the world, more oil than anyone else in the world, more renewables, until recently that's where we were. it's a good thing. i'm not going to question you. you are a military person, 30
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years in. very sharp. very impressive. it's kind of a no brainer what's going on. there's a split in this administration. certain people get this. by the way, if you increase exports of l & g to our partners in asia in particular, significantly, there's studies that show that global greenhouse grass emissions would decline. i'm not going to dwell too much -- i had no intention to, but this is a really important issue to me. it's important to any american. unilaterally disarming our energy sector just makes no sense. the hostility from some quarters, not all, of the biden administration on this just makes no sense. i think the worry is if you go through that nine step process that looks good, the laws -- john mccarthy calls you and says, shut it down, that's what i worry about. you won't accept outside influence like that if you decide on your own merits
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something like this is -- meets the statute, would you? they're doing it. i just want to make sure -- you are someone who i don't think would succumb to that kind of pressure. >> senator, thank you for your question. thank you for your time discussing the matters important to you in alaska and others. i appreciate that. my response, of course, as you are aware, i'm not in the building. so i don't have details on some things. in the interest of following the law, which we have discussed, and going through a fair and equitable process within the boundaries of not only port infrastructure development but deep water ports, we have a real opportunity here in the country to improve and build resiliency in ports across the country in a bipartisan way to make change and improve our infrastructure in ways that we have not been able to do in the past. i will say that. i look forward to working with you on that. >> great.
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let me get back to -- i mentioned in our meeting the department of defense. i actually have a report on the assessment on the strategic -- dod strategic seaports. the two lowest rated of the 18 were the port of tacoma and the port of alaska. i know the chairman cares about this issue as well. will you just recommit to me to work with me and i'm sure senator cantwell is interested on addressing this challenge? i know dod is interested as well. this is kind of a win/win on two very important ports that actually work very closely together. >> yes, senator, should i have the honor to be confirmed, i look forward to working with this committee in particular to work on port infrastructure development nationwide and, of course, with consideration, thank you for forwarding the
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study you forwarded to me yesterday, i did review it and look forward to working with other federal entities, dod and others to make progress in building resilience and sustainability across america's port infrastructure. >> let me ask a question i didn't get to ask yesterday. it was news. you and i weren't involved in this. the port of anchorage had this long running lawsuit against merritt on the port. the judge rules in favor of anchorage. my own view has been, we need to settle this and move on. right? i just want to get a commitment from you, there's going to be a damages award element of this. i don't know if it will be $1 or several hundred millions. i don't want somehow if it's a significant sum that they will say, well, anchorage won that lawsuit, so we're not going to provide them any additional funds. that would actually be very
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unfair. can i get a commitment from you on that? >> senator -- >> i don't want double dipping. they have spent -- you and i talked about it a long time on this, tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of legal fees. what i don't want is the fed saying, they won, they got an award so we're not going to use any of the infrastructure dollars to help them, would seem to be penalizing them. >> senator, thank you for your question. we have discussed this issue. i am aware of the lawsuit and of the recent outcome. however, as i am not yet in the administration, i have no insight into any details current or future that may impact that particular outcome. what i can commit toplicants to get a fair and equitable review of their application irrespective of who they are so that we can move forward. again, to take advantage of this generational opportunity for america's port infrastructure.
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>> great. thank you. madam chair, i have other questions for the other witnesses. i will submit those for the record. >> thank you. senator peters, technically, you are next. senator lujan has been waiting -- >> i would be happy to defer. >> thank you. >> i appreciate that. thank you, senator peters. dr. cliff, 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% increase in traffic fatalities despite a 13.2% reduction in miles traveled. 2021 is even worse with an additional 18.4% increase in deaths during the first six months of this year. increases in challenge and drug use while driving has had a terrible impact. nitsa found proportion of drivers with opioids in their
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system nearly doubled in march of 2020. the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana rose by 50%. in your role as deputy administrator, congress gave you a mandate to save lives and prevent injuries. that is why i introduced the. i believe ntsa needed to be pushed to do a better and get impaired drivers off the road. fortunately, this committee, the senate and president agreed. now the halt act is law. the president has nominated you to oversee implementation of the most important safety standard in over a decade. the work is only just beginning thchlt cannot be another rule making where nhtsa blows through the deadline.
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dr. cliff, i would like a clear time line. is nhtsa prepared to implement the act within three to five years required in section 24220 of the iija? >> thank you for that question, senator lujan. thank you for your leadership on this important issue. absolutely, yes. >> this can't afford to wait. i want to work with you to make sure congress gets you the resources you need to implement this legislation within this deadline. madam chair, i have documents i ask to be submitted to the record. the first document is reporting by hemmings motor news titled, general motors on board
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experimental drug and challenge detection device of the 1970s. the second is from nbc news, dated january 2007, with an announcement from toyota motor corps that they are developing a system for cars that detect drunk driving and automatically shuts the vehicle down if sensors pick up signs of excessive alcohol consumption. the third is a prerelease from volvo stating that volvo cars believe intoxication and distraction should be addressed by installing in-car cameras and sensors that monitor the drive and allow the car to intervene if a driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury and death. finally, the fourth is a report on test results performed which
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gave subaru which has a system that that monitors alertness by assessing eye movement and from steering inputs which can provide indications of fatigued or impaired driving. >> without objection. >> dr. cliff, auto manufacturers have been developing this technology for over 40 years. in november 2020, nhtsa requested information on available or late-stage technology under development for impaired driving detection and mitigation. dr. cliff, based on your rfi, the car manufacturers' claims and cars on the road, do you believe impaired driving technology using driver monitoring is best suited to meet the mandate under the halt act? >> thank you, senator, for that question. i think that there are many promising technologies, including driver monitoring and the technology you mentioned that can help move forward on
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this important issue. we are continuing research. because of the resources provided in the bipartisan infrastructure law, we will have an opportunity to really advance that technology development. >> i appreciate that, sir. dr. cliff, i want to tell you a different story as well about one of my constituents. 2015, a 16-year-old was driving to high school in new mexico. he was driving responsibly under the speed limb limit. he got into an accident. his civic was dragged a half mile until it burst into flames. he burned to death. on his way to school that day. under ride crashes include when a car collides with a semitrailer and due to the height differential, goes under the side. these crashes are dangerous and often result in severe injuries and deaths like in the case of
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riley. the question i have, madam chair, because my time expired, i will submit, but it's important to hear from you on what nhtsa will do with the research required in this legislation where congress has taken action and the family continues to share this story because they don't want other families to go through what they did. i want to commend you for the work that you are going to do. i look forward to your expeditious confirmation so we can get to work and get this done. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator lujan. senator peters. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you, senator lujan for your leadership on that legislation which i was proud to co-sponsor with you. i know the family, they are a wonderful, amazing family in michigan. the tragic death of members of
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that family to a drunk driver in 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, three small children, a mother and a father, a horrific thing. i vividly remember the funeral where the community turned out. it's clearly one of the saddest i have been to to see a beautiful young family die so tragically on the highway. this legislation must get enacted. we have passed it. it's critically important that, dr. cliff, you focus on that. we get it done. there are other families that suffer similar tragedies. thousands of people every day. i hope you prioritize that. i will be working with senator lujan and many others who will be making sure that you do that. i hope i have your commitment to make that a priority.
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>> thank you, senator. you have my commitment. >> thank you. in addition to the lives lost from drunk driving and other substances, we lose a lot of other lives on the highway, nearly 38,000 people lost lives on our highways. we know most of those accidents, as you know, are from human error. we have technology that is 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. 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 framework in place that allows that technology to move as quickly as possible. i think when it comes to moving quickly, we know that that works out to 100 people die on our
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highways every day. every day we can get this up and running saves a lot of people. it's cumulative. i know you have talked about autonomous vehicles. several of my colleagues have raised questions related to autonomous vehicles. i appreciate your support. we talked as well prior to this hearing. in the spirit of making this a reality, will you 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. how committed are you? >> thank you, senator peters. if confirmed, i'm committed. as i said in the conversation that we had, i look forward to working with you. i know you and your office have a lot of expertise on this issue. >> i appreciate that, if confirmed. the other thing that i think is
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important is that -- is how nhtsa communicates with the public about these autonomous technologies in automation to help ensure the discussion on autonomous vehicles puts the safety record in context. what i mean by that is -- i'm concerned that a single high profile accident which will happen, as this technology is developed, can make the 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 as they continue to be developed. i think it's important not to unfairly prejudice public opinion as to the potential benefits of this life saving technology. do you think nhtsa needs to communicate that to the public at large as this technology is developed? >> thank you, senator, for that question.
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i agree with you that we want to avoid hyperbole, we want to ensure we are putting into context the data we collect and ensuring that as we put out information to the public that we are doing so in the best scientific fashion that we can. we're a data driven agency. we're going to rely on those data to inform our future actions. we need to make sure that we are doing so in a straightforward and engineering and scientific way. >> good. as you move forward to help us move this technology, do you think there are resources or barriers you face in getting us to the place that we need to be? how can congress assist your efforts and the efforts of nhtsa to bring this technology to the forefront? >> thank you, senator, for that question. if confirmed, i would continue to work with you and advance any ideas that we have that we believe might be barriers.
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thank you. >> i appreciate it. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator peters. thank you for your comments about the legislation and the family that was impacted. >> which one? the school bus? >> very moving. thank you for your work on that. we are going to senator young. >> thank you, madam chair. in 2018, a driver struck and killed three young students and severely injured a student while they were boarding a school bus in indiana. in 2019, school bus drivers throughout indiana documented every stop armed violation that occurred during one day of the morning and afternoon routes. in one day, more than 2,500 stop arm violations occurred.
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that's why i introduced the stop for school buses act with senator peters, who addressed this problem. our bipartisan legislation requires nhtsa to perform a comprehensive evaluation of methods to prevent the dangerous and illegal passing of school buses at loading zones. this was recently signed into law. dr. cliff, if confirmed, will you commit to swiftly implement this bill to help prevent dangerous and illegal passing of school buses? >> thank you, senator, for that question. if confirmed, i look forward to moving forward on these provisions. >> thank you, doctor. the united states is a leader in emerging transportation technology. as a matter of national and economic security, we have to maintain that leadership edge as other countries work to erode america's competitive advantage.
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there's an epidemic of roadways fatalities and injuries on our roadways. nhtsa reported an 18.4% increase in roadway fatalities in the first half of 2021. tens of thousands of americans lose their lives every year in motor vehicle crashes and millions more are injured. the vast majority of these crashes are caused by human error and autonomous vehicle technology removes 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. yet, we sit here today and that bill has gone nowhere because of the trial lawyers and politics being played by some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
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sadly, that means that once we finally do pass senator thune's great bipartisan av start act -- i believe we will soon -- some members of this committee will have quite literally contributed to setting the united states back multiple years in the race against china and other nations. dr. cliff, while your testimony mentioned 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 in roadway safety in the autonomous vehicle sector? >> thank you, senator, for that question. at nhtsa, our role is to optimize safety as we allow for innovation. we believe that these new technologies hold great promise, as you indicate. i think there's an opportunity for us to continue to advance innovation while ensuring safety
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along the way. at full maturity, the safety of technology that 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 of self-driving vehicles? >> thank you, senator. 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 to advance our understanding of these technologies. >> thank you, sir. i look forward to working together on this and pushing the envelope to ensure you are exploiting all legal and
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responsible opportunities to make sure we're able to deploy self-driving vehicles at our earliest opportunity. thank you so much. i yield back. >> thank you, senator young. we did have senator scott, senator johnson and senator sinema maybe joining us remotely. i don't know if they are out there. it's hard to see. we don't have anybody on camera now. if there is somebody in those offices, now is the time to have them join. while we are waiting to see if we have a response from any of them, i want to ask one last question to you, mr. putnam, about the implementation of the bipartisan law. dod will receive $567 billion, an 80% increase to help modernize every aspect of our transportation system. this includes 221% increase in the capacity for things that will impact our supply chain and eliminate freight bottlenecks.
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for example, in the state of washington, that would be things related to i5, related to the port of tacoma, a major export center for us, highway 2, which there is atressle. these are places -- highway 2 had more than 60 people die, an average of 82,000 vehicles use that passageway every year. as the asia pacific becomes a bigger destination for u.s. products all the way from -- through the midwest, to the coast, getting our infrastructure to help deal with the supply chain is chris cal. you talk about how dot can get this implemented as quickly as possible.
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>> thank you, senator cantwell, for that excellent question. that's top of mind at the department right now. at a very high level, the secretary has directed the creation of an executive policy council that's headed by the deputy secretary, staffed by the undersecretary. i'm a member of that along with all of the operating administration -- or acting administrators. at a very high level, it has ou -- our focus. we are taking a review from beginning to end of the process, making sure we get guidance in place, make sure we get the appropriations tables out -- allocation tables out. starting to work on common language on notices of funding opportunities so that we can streamline that process. look at technical assistance for many of the applicants, hur rural, urban, that we get good
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applications here. look at the permitting process. look at the process of documenting those decisions. then all the way through to actually implementing those projects, overseeing those projects and closing them out. if confirmed, look forward to continuing my efforts to implement that process. certainly, there's a legal component. there are budget components. there are management components. make sure we have the staff in place to do that. it's a whole of department effort. >> you think these things, particularly in areas where we authorize things for the first time, mega projects about moving major projects, many of them related to our economic success as a nation and moving freight, other new programs to help move product where congestion occurs at many of our cities and towns as freight moves through them, and obviously the increase in the ports programs. all of these are big priorities in moving products.
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do you think this is something that will be done early in january? >> thank you, chair cantwell. we started the conversations about mega projects. as an example, about supply chain recognizing the priorities associated with those, especially given the current challenges associated with the supply chain. they are top focus. we are bringing in additional staff and talent, as you have likely read in the news or with press releases, in order to make sure that we have really the best and brightest on those problems. try to focus on that as quickly as we can out of the gate. >> i always say about ports are us when it comes to my state. we are very excited about this level of investment just because we have seen the challenges. we may be the through put, but we see product from all over the united states. we know freight can't wait. if it does, then we are going to lose competitively to other
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nations who made major infrastructure investments as well. glad that you have been able to give that detailed of an answer about the specifics the agency is going to be fortaking. that's why we want to get you over there to get the legal aspect of this taken care of. we would like to thank all of you for being here. the senators will have until tuesday, december 21st at noon to submit questions to the committee. you all will have one week to respond to those questions. thank you, again, for your willingness to participate today. that concludes our hearing. >> thank you, chair cantwell.
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on thursday, the house oversight and reform committee looks at the washington football team's workplace culture, a day after the team announces its new
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name. watch live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3. online at or watch on c-span now, our new video app. sunday, law professor sheryll cashin will talk about race relations and inequality in america. join in the conversation with your phone calls, facebook comments, texts and tweets. live, sunday at noon eastern on c-span2. before the program, visit to get a copy of "white space, black hood." c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more. including charter
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