WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today convened the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for its first meeting of the 116th Congress. The meeting was Wicker’s first as Chairman of the full committee. During the meeting, the committee approved the rules for the committee and the subcommittee structure.
Excerpt from Chairman Wicker’s opening statement, as delivered, below:
The bar has indeed been set high. This committee accomplished a great deal last congress, and I look forward to similar successes this congress.
In particular, I see this committee focusing on a number of primary objectives across the committee’s broad jurisdiction.
Broadband connectivity is the digital engine driving investment, innovation, and productivity in virtually every economic sector in the United States.
Although we have made significant progress on wireline, wireless, and satellite broadband deployments over the years, more needs to be done to close the digital divide, particularly in rural America.
This process should start with collecting standardized and accurate data about where reliable fixed and mobile broadband already exists and where it does not – both in my state of Mississippi and around the country.
Data is critical to delivering broadband to rural communities that lack service.
We will also continue the committee’s efforts to maintain U.S. leadership in 5G, the next-generation of broadband services.
To that end, modernizing outdated rules that delay and add unnecessary costs to broadband infrastructure deployment and making more spectrum available for commercial use will be critical to our nation’s success in developing a reliable, resilient, and secure 5G network.
Robust and reliable broadband connections underpin the internet marketplace where innovative applications and services are taking on more significant and vital roles in our lives.
Maintaining consumer trust and confidence in this marketplace is critical to preserving a prosperous and thriving digital economy in the United States.
A priority of this committee will be to protect the privacy of consumers’ data in a way that promotes industry transparency, consumer choice, and innovation.
We will continue our efforts to keep the skies safe and foster American leadership in outer space. These efforts will include oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration and the safe integration of unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace. They will also, I hope, include a commercial space bill and a National Aeronautics and Space Administration reauthorization.
With creation of a new security subcommittee, we will be able to focus on supporting the organizations — such as the Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, and Transportation Security Administration — whose efforts strengthen the nation’s economic prosperity and security.
I hope these efforts will include Coast Guard and Maritime Administration reauthorizations, support for the American maritime industry, and a focus on the national security dimensions of agencies and issues under the committee’s jurisdiction.
I look forward to the committee continuing its work on improving the nation’s infrastructure and safety. Work this congress will likely include a pipeline safety reauthorization as well as the reauthorization of the ‘FAST Act.’
We will also focus on motor carrier safety, multimodal freight, as well as our nation’s rail and Amtrak and look forward to working with the administration on shoring up the highway trust fund, as well as meeting the nation’s ever-increasing infrastructure needs.
This is by no means a complete list, although it has been a lengthy one — there are many other high priorities the committee will consider.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on a range of issues important to their states and to all Americans.
I thank my colleagues again for giving me the opportunity to lead this great committee.