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Chairman John Thune - Majority Statement - NASA Transition Act, 4 Other Bills

Status Report From: Sen. John Thune
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Good morning. Thanks to everyone for being here today.

"While we await our quorum, I would note that we will be considering five measures today on a variety of subjects from NASA to ticket BOTS. This agenda is another great example of this Committee working together, in a bipartisan manner, to move important legislation forward.

"I am proud of the work this Committee has done this Congress and I want to thank each Member and their staff for their contributions.

"Our Committee should be proud of the work we have done. From enactment of the FAST Act, the first long term surface transportation reauthorization in over a decade, last year or the FAA reauthorization this year, which not only included numerous passenger friendly provisions, but advanced a number of important aviation security measures.

"The Committee also should be proud of enacting not one, but two, Coast Guard reauthorizations; a Commerical Space bill; the Child Nictonine Posining Prevention Act; and dozens of other important measures too numerous to list today.

"Even with this Committee’s great efforts, I know there are a number of items that still need to get to the President’s desk this year, including the MOBILE NOW Act, the Seasonal Forecasting Improvement Act, the American Innovation and Comptetitiveness Act, and possibly even some of the items we have on the agenda today, including our first item, the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016.

"The bill addresses concerns related to potential instability at NASA during a presidential transition and provides direction to continue to pursue current national commitments and investments for NASA’s space program.

"I applaud the bipartisan effort of the bill’s sponsors, and I am please to be a cosponor.

"We will also be considering the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016 – or BOTS Act, sponsored by Senators Moran, Blumenthal, Fischer, Schumer, Nelson, and Klobuchar.

"The BOTS Act will ensure that all consumers have a fair shot at seeing their favorite act or team live without having to pay exorbitant prices to do so.

"As I mentioned at last week’s subcommittee hearing on this bill, as an avid live music and sports fan, I certainly appreciate the frustration many Americans face with limited ticket availability and high ticket prices when their favorite artists come to town.

"We will also be considering S. 3097, a bill introduced by Senators Schatz and Heller that would authorize the SelectUSA program at the Department of Commerce.

"I will be offering an amendment to this bill that responds to the luxury travel improprieties and questionable office renovation expenditures at taxpayer expense of the recently resigned Under Secretary for International Trade, Stefan Selig.

"The Inspector General at the Department of Commerce recently uncovered the outrageous expenditure of taxpayer dollars by Mr. Selig, which prompted a report in the Washington Post headlined “Globetrotting Obama official traveled in luxury. Taxpayers footed the bill.”

"My amendment simply takes the recommendations made in the Inspector General’s report and requires the Secretary of Commerce to implement these recommendations quickly in order to deter future abuses of taxpayer dollars by politically appointed officials at the Department of Commerce.

"The final two items on today’s agenda are bills that were both recently approved by the House to promote women in science.

"H.R. 4755, the INSPIRE Act, would direct NASA to leverage and improve programs that encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to pursue careers in aerospace.

"H.R. 4742, the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, authorizes the National Science Foundation to pursue programs that better support women who are commercializing ideas, starting small businesses, and creating jobs.

"Both bipartisan bills saw near-unanimous approval in the House and I look forward to their speedy consideration here in the Senate.

"Before I turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks he has, I wanted to say a word about a measure that is not on the agenda today, the Safeguarding American Families from Exposure by Keeping Information and Data Secure Act – or SAFE KIDS Act.

"This measure, championed by Senators Daines and Blumenthal, seeks to protect the privacy and security of information pertaining to students and their families.

"While this Committee strongly supports the goal of protecting student safety and privacy, and Senators Daines and Blumenthal have worked diligently to address concerns of stakeholders and others, at this point a handful of concerns still remain.

"I appreciate the sponsors’ willingness to continue to work to address these remaining issues as we move forward, and once addressed, I am hopeful that the Committee can consider the measure at a future markup.

"With that, I will turn to Senator Nelson for any opening remarks he would like to make."

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