Hearing Of The Senate Commerce, Science And Transportation Committee - Nomination of Gary F. Locke to be Secretary of Commerce
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SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I wish good morning to everybody, particularly to Gary Locke and to the two splendid people who are going to be introducing him. And you, sir, will be the nation's 36th secretary of Commerce. And, you know, we could've waited another several months. (Laughter.) We were getting pretty good at it, but we're really happy to see you there, and particularly somebody of your character.
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but there's been a lot of talk about all that recently. I'm going to skip all the good things I was going to say about how you grew up, what you've done, your public service, all different varieties. You've been completely committed, since you -- since your parents came here. You come up the hard way, and you've served the public at every single instance in every single way.
We're in a very hard time. I think that you understand -- I know that you understand Main Street, and I know you understand the way the people of your state are thinking and the way the people of the nation are thinking. And I think that you have your finger on the pulse of what people want.
The department which you will be taking over is -- it surprises people I think sometimes to find out how huge the scope of it is. It's so huge that sometimes one part doesn't stand out over another. They all stand out on their own. And so it's a huge responsibility you have.
Just to name a few, you have successful national transition to digital television, which I'll be asking you about, as well as the census, which may be your biggest headache to overcome that and get it done on time, the allocation of $4.7 billion in needed broadband funds, two areas of the country which desperately need it, the engagement on climate change head-on. That's what we're doing here. We're part of the process. We've been a smaller part of the process in the past. We're going to be a larger part of the process in the future working with you, always working with you.
And amplification of science and technology -- our President, who you serve and who in a sense we all serve -- or, as my colleague would say, work with -- that's not my colleague here. That's my colleague from West Virginia. We work with him. It's about the most difficult time we've ever been in, and he is an enormous believer in science and technology, which you are too. He has great faith in it. He believes it leads us to solutions, and I agree with him. And that's true whether you're talking about climate change, estuaries, the oceans, the skies, whatever it might be.
And the list goes on and on. And it's a thrilling, I think, opportunity for you and a great privilege for us that you would be willing to do it. I think we can all agree that the Commerce secretary is one very, very big job, therefore, and we need somebody who wakes up every day thinking about what is best for working families and for the nation at the same time. That's everybody.
So Governor Locke, you're going to represent the interests of people with honor. I know that you will ensure American workers can prosper with our businesses and thrive. We have a very large free enterprise agenda, have a great deal to do with what goes on or doesn't go on in businesses large and small. We have trade, all kinds of things. And we need to move quickly on this nomination needless to say because you need to be in place, and I, obviously, am declaring that I'm very much for you. And so my general theory is let's get moving.
And I will now turn to my distinguished ranking member, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am very pleased that you're holding this hearing and agree with you that we need to proceed through this hearing and this nomination because it is such an important position, and there are so many areas in which the Department of Commerce must function and function well. The expansive jurisdiction covering such matters as NOAA, international trade, and our domestic telecommunications infrastructure are of immediate interest, and we did give $17 billion in budgetary authority for fiscal year 2009 to the Department of Commerce to carry out these missions. There are a number of challenges, and I look forward to hearing from you about how you will manage them.
First is the census. There has been a lot of discussion, as you are aware, about the oversight of the 2010 census, and I have concerns about reports that the Administration might insert itself into the management of the census. I believe the process must remain transparent and non-politicized, and when I met with you earlier this month, we talked about that, and I was pleased to hear your position that the census will stay in the Department of Commerce, and it will be handled on a professional basis, and I will ask you about that for the record to assure that we are on the same wavelength, which I believe we are from my conversation with you.
DTV is a huge undertaking, and this committee with the leadership of the chairman actually extended the deadline for the transition from February to June. However, we cannot extend that deadline again. The NTIA has been given additional funding, and the number of consumers on the waitlist to receive coupons has diminished, but there are still many out there. And I will certainly want to see how you plan to run the NTIA to assure that DTV is ready to transition in June because it would be wrong to extend that deadline again.
Science and technology -- investments in science and technology will be extremely important in helping our nation's economic recovery. We need to invest in basic scientific research, math and science education. One area that I hope to talk to you about is the issue of research efforts and the area of weather modification and storm mitigation. I'm particularly interested n your views because NOAA and the National Weather service will be very much a part of that in your department.
You also have moved -- or you will -- the Commerce Department to deliver more than $4 billion in broadband grants across the country. Broadband, as we all know, is a key building block for new business and jobs, but we must ensure that the broadband policies focus on both urban and rural American and offer solutions for both. The Department must also continue to work with the Internet Corporation for assigned names and numbers to ensure that the Internet remains a secure space in which commerce can flourish nationally and internationally.
Other issues. In my home state of Texas we rely very heavily on weather, making sure that we know what the predictions are, what the track of a hurricane is. We are also the home to significant oil, gas, and other energy infrastructure, maritime commerce, all vital to our nation, and all very much affected by the Department of Commerce.
As an example, when Hurricane Ike hit Texas and Louisiana coasts last September, NOAA's advanced warnings clearly minimized the loss of life, and its many response teams helped to re-open our ports and coastal infrastructure to commerce. It was incredible to see what NOAA did and the Weather Service did, tracking that hurricane from five days out and hitting it almost on the dot, where it would land. They predicted well -- the hurricane. What we didn't have predicted was the surge, which really was the damage causer, both there and in Katrina, frankly.
So that's an issue that we're going to have to address. So there are so many things that affect our country that are within your department. I think you have acquitted yourself very well during this time since your nomination, and you have a very strong record as governor, and I look forward to working with the chairman to expedite your nomination, barring any unforeseen questions or answers, or anything that we haven't learned yet. Everything I've seen is very good. Thank you very much, and I look forward to working with you in all these areas.
MR. LOCKE: Thank you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I might add two things. One is that the ranking member and I have both looked at all the financials and FBI reports, and it was clean and happy reading. (Laughter.)
SEN. HUTCHISON: Boring would have been -- (Laughter.)
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: It was pretty boring, yeah. But with the indulgence of the committee, what I'd like to do now, since actually Senator Cantwell is the next one to give her statement, is not to hold Patty Murray -- who runs this place -- (laughter) -- and let them introduce our next secretary, hopefully, and then that will free them to come back, Maria to give her statement, and she's next in line. And if that's okay with the committee, if there's not objection, I think that's a fair and efficient way to do it.
So Senator Patty Murray.
SEN. MURRAY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for that consideration, Ranking Member Hutchison, members of the committee, along with my colleague, Senator Cantwell, members of our Washington State delegation. It is my pleasure to introduce to all of you Gary Locke, who is the former governor of Washington State to serve as the next secretary of Commerce.
I want to welcome Governor Locke and his wife, Mona, who is here with us today, and to thank her and their children, Emily, Madeline and Dillon for -- willing to let him do this for all of us.
Mr. Chairman, I am very proud to recommend Gary Locke to be the next secretary of Commerce at this important time in our nation's history. As we all work very hard to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, we need a Commerce secretary with the dedication and expertise to carry out policies that will strengthen our economy well into the future.
Governor Locke understands the importance of the American dream because he has lived it. His grandfather emigrated from China and worked as a servant just a mile from our governor's mansion in Olympia. Governor Locke spent his first six years in Seattle's Yesler Terrace, a public housing project for families of World War II veterans. His background taught him firsthand the importance of education, hard work and responsibility, and what it means to live in a country that provides opportunities for its citizens.
He studied hard in school, helped out at his father's grocery store, and became an Eagle Scout. He graduated from Franklin High School in Seattle, Yale University, and Boston University Law School, and began a very long career in public service, first in the King County Prosecutor's Office, and then in the Washington State House of Representatives.
I first met Governor Locke when we served together in our state capital in Olympia, and I couldn't be happier that he now the nominee to head the Department of Commerce. Now, there are a lot of reasons why Governor Locke is an ideal nominee, which I will talk about in a minute, but I want to take this opportunity to tell a personal story that I think illustrates his commitment to public service and to making sure we all make the best decisions for our taxpayers.
As I said, I first met Governor Locke in our state legislature. He was chair of the State Appropriations -- House Appropriations Committee. I was a brand new state senator, and I was working very hard to get a piece of legislation passed that was critical to my constituents. Now, governor, I don't know if you remember this, but I still remember it to this day. It made a huge impression on me. As part of getting my bill passed as a senator I had to go talk to Gary Locke as chair of the committee, and I had to sit down in the chair in front of him, and it was one of the toughest experiences I ever had. He knew that budget inside and out. He ran me through the paces. He grilled me about what was in my bill and what impact it would have on our taxpayers, and he was very tough.
But ultimately, after putting me that through that grilling, he supported me and asked the hard questions and defended my legislation, and we improved that bill and got it passed because of his commitment. Governor Locke has brought that level of expertise and dedication to the taxpayers in every position that he has held, and it makes him an idea candidate now to serve in the Department of Commerce.
So Mr. Chairman, let me just say a few words about the experience that he brings. One of the most critical jobs the Commerce secretary performs is finding markets for American products and technologies. Governor Locke understands how important that is, and he knows how to do it successfully. As the two-term governor of the nation's most trade dependent state, he spent eight years breaking down trade barriers and promoting American products from airplanes, to apples, to operating systems. He has led numerous successful delegations to our Asian trading partners to foster those relationships.
The experience and relationships he built over the years will serve him well as he works to promote American products and American technologies to a global market. Governor Locke also understands the health of the environment and knows that it has a direct impact on our quality of life and on our economy. People in our home state of Washington really value our natural resources for recreation and enjoyment, but a great many people depend on those same resources to make a living. Finding a good balance between those two entrants is something every Washington State governor grapples with.
And Governor Locke's experience means he's going to hit the ground running as Commerce secretary as we confront global climate change and other environmental concerns, including the management of our fisheries. And that leads me to my final point.
Former Senator Fritz Hollings, who served as chairman of this committee, used to joke that the secretary of Commerce always come in thinking he will be the head businessman, and then he finds out that he's really the head fisherman. Now, I'm not trying to diminish the importance of the Commerce Department or the issue. The management of our limited fishing stocks is extremely important, and as a senator from the Northwest, I know from experience that we need someone to head the Commerce Department who has a detailed understanding of this delicate and very complicated issue.
Governor Locke is the only Commerce secretary nominee to my knowledge who has personally negotiated a fishing treaty to balance fishing and environmental interests. He understands both sides, and he will bring an evenhanded approach to this issue at Commerce.
So Mr. Chairman, I'm very pleased to introduce this committee to Governor Locke and you. He has served the people of our state well. He will bring that same level of commitment and intelligence to this Administration, and I'm very proud to support his confirmation. Thank you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you very much, Senator Murray. I detect approval -- (Laughter.
SEN. MURRAY: You got it.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: -- in your remarks.
And now Senator Cantwell.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Hutchison. Thank you for holding this important hearing, and it is an honor to be here with my colleague, Senator Murray, and to be here to congratulate the President on his selection of former Governor Gary Locke to be the next secretary of Commerce.
I have known Gary Locke for more than 20 years, and I can say to my colleagues Governor Locke is the right man for this job. As governor, he helped bring broadband services to the rural parts of our state. Under his leadership using the e-rate funds, Washington State developed the K20 network, a high-speed, high-capacity network linking K through 12 schools with libraries, colleges, universities across the state of Washington.
Governor Locke has also been involved in both public and private sector trade missions advocating open markets and promoting U.S. products. At the International Trade Administration within the Department of Commerce, that experience will be put to good use. Part of the mission is to advocate for American companies competing abroad. It can mean the difference between whether major foreign sales go to U.S. companies or whether they go to foreign competitors.
At NOAA, which is over half of the Department of Commerce budget, Governor Locke's prior experience with the complexities of Puget Sound, endangered salmon species, the hazards of oil spills will also be invaluable. As governor of Washington, Governor Locke dealt with one of the nation's most vibrant fishing industries appointing the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. The fisheries in the North Pacific are among the best managed fisheries in the world, a fact that not -- that has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. Oceans Commission and the Pew Commission.
In addition to commercial fishing, Governor Locke has dealt with the complexities of endangered salmon and in December, 2004 presented to the Federal government the first locally developed regional salmon recovery plan for Washington State.
Additionally, many of the challenges Commerce Department faces in the near-term are management challenges from the set-top box program for digital television, to NOAA's satellite program and getting it back on track, to wisely investing the $4.7 billion in the broadband grants as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
And Gary Locke has never shies away from difficult management challenges, like crafting a state budget in his second term as governor just after the tech bubble bust. He worked with Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature to come up with a spending reduction proposal, many of the ideas unpopular at the time, but necessary given the need to balance the state budget. I know that he will continue that same bipartisan spirit working as secretary of Commerce.
And Mr. Chairman, I believe that Governor Locke will also help out -- help round out the President's economic team. He is someone who understands the challenges many Americans face as they try to get their own personal economic situation and our national house in order.
As my colleague, Senator Murray, mentioned, Governor Locke -- raised in public housing, worked hard. Through financial aid and scholarships graduated from Yale University and on to a law practice. He is a testament to the American dream.
So I look forward to working with Governor Locke on many issues and urge my colleagues today -- for his quick confirmation as the next secretary of Commerce to the United States. I thank the chairman.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you very much, Senator Cantwell. And I understand that that is your statement, and so I won't call on you next up here. However, just to show the dominance of the Northwest, the next person -- (laughter) -- on the first come, first serve is Senator Begich.
SEN. BEGICH (D-AK): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And governor, I know we had our brief meeting, but it was an interesting meeting. You told me that you have great capacity. As we started in my office walking down the hall -- ended up in an elevator, down through the train, and then to the Capital. So I know you have great flexibility, and I appreciate that.
Again, I have a few questions, and I'll just lay them out if that's okay.
And Mr. Chairman, I'm not sure how the rounds will work, but I'm very excited about having you. I've read your resume. I've seen your experience. I'm personally aware of who you are from our own experience, from our governor in Alaska, and the work you've done on (salmon trees ?).
I'm going to lay out questions instead of statement just because I want you to kind of think about them as the process goes forward. They'll be one area of issue -- obviously is the Arctic policy and climate change and how those two will be part of the equation and how you see your department participating and engaging in that issue. For Alaska, the Arctic is becoming more and more -- not only a local issue, obviously, but a national issue -- and how you see the Department engaging in the issues of oil and gas expiration shipping and tourism, and the other commercial activity up there and how you see your role and how you will participate with other agencies throughout the federal government. That's one area as we move forward, is going to be of grave concern for us in Alaska.
The other -- and I like the comment that was made that you will not be necessarily the head businessman. You'll be the head fisherman. And I agree with that, because people who do come to Commerce realize later that there is a lot of activity that you'll be engaged in, and with NOAA's budget, about half of your budgetary responsibility -- commercial fishing in Alaska is pretty significant at 62 percent of the fishing stock in this country.
And the issue of farm fish is of grave concern to us. In Alaska we are not big fans of that, to say the least. And your role and your opinion in regards to the requirement or the potential of farm fishing allowed in federal waters throughout all of this country, and how you would see Alaska, hopefully, not fitting into that -- I'm giving you the answer hopefully to your question -- to my question.
The last -- and again, because our time is always short here, the other is a very specific one, which is The Denali Commission, which is pretty significant for Alaska. The Denali Commission has been around for about ten years. It takes federal money. It invests them throughout the state of Alaska in rural communities in fuel storage, in solid waste and teacher housing, in a variety of areas.
But they're also more than likely going to expand into broadband issues and renewable energy. Denali Commission has been one of these programs that I believe has worked very successfully in impacting and positively impacting rural communities, and I'm hopeful that you could give some commentary on that issue also and how you feel about that, and can it become -- instead of what's it's been every year, kind of an earmark, but more programmatic, because the impact has been significant.
I'm stop there, Mr. Chairman, because I wanted to rapid fire the questions so he can have time to be thinking about them depending on how the process works here.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Begich.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you and Senator Hutchison for scheduling a timely confirmation hearing for Governor Locke, and welcome, and thank you for your willingness to serve as our next secretary of Commerce. If confirmed, you're going to be leading a department and working with this committee during a very difficult time in our country's history. There are a number of issues that people are struggling with today across the country.
You've got small businesses who are hurting and families that are anxious over their next paycheck, their next mortgage payment, or their next job.
As Commerce secretary, you're going to help shape and carry out economic and trade policies that are intended to turn the economy around. And particularly, you're going to oversee the implementation of a massive broadband deployment that's called for under the Stimulus Act. That's an issue of interest and concern to me, and I'm hopeful you'll work closely with this committee as we ensure that these funds are effectively directed to unserved and underserved areas of the country that are most in need of the assistance.
And additionally, you're going to be charged with overseeing the upcoming census of the United States, which for over 200 years has played a central role in measuring the progress and growth of our country and helped policymakers govern a growing and changing population. The 2010 census has got to be carried out accurately and objectively, and as you know as a governor, education, Medicaid, highway funding are all determined by the outcome of the census, and additionally, the census is going to determine the number of congressional seats that each state has.
So needless to say, the stakes are high. These reports of that process being politicized are very concerning to many of us, and recent statements by White House officials indicate that the White House may exert an unprecedented influence in that census process. Those are statements and suggestions that I find unacceptable, and I look forward to hearing more from you on making sure that the census is an open and independent process.
So again, I thank you for your willingness to serve. Many have spoken to your many qualifications, and obviously, you come to this job with great experience and great background, and we look forward to working with you in taking on many of the challenges that the country currently faces. So thank you, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Thune.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and let me add my voice to my colleagues and friends from the state of Washington on a personal recommendation, and great appreciation to the President choosing Gary Locke to be secretary of Commerce. I had the opportunity to serve with Governor Locke during my tenure as governor. My wife Lisa and I consider he and Mona friends. We had wonderful times together with -- (inaudible) -- during our -- when Governor Locke hosted the NGA out in Seattle.
And I can say firsthand that this is a secretary -- soon to be secretary of Commerce who was extraordinarily well respected by governors across the country from both sides of the aisle. He brought a lot of imagination and innovation during his tenure as governor of Washington. One thing that I'm particularly excited about -- I know Gary and I have spent some time talking about this in the past, and during his tenure as governor he spent a lot of time trying to make the state of Washington government more efficient and budgeting more effective.
And some of the things that don't get a lot of press attention -- but clearly, in a department as far-flung as the Commerce Department is with so many different functions and focuses, trying to bring the kind of management expertise you brought to the state of Washington I think to the Commerce Department will be something that we will all be well suited with.
I will simply make one final comment, and Senator Thune has raised this issue already about the broadband deployment. Regardless of where we may have been on the recovery package, I think we're all very excited about the opportunity to continue to roll out broadband. I do think there's going to be enormous tension between the goal of getting the funds out quickly, but at the same time having appropriate oversight and making sure that there's an effective deployment, particularly to rural and underserved areas.
And I particularly look forward to working with you in the areas of last mile deployment. We can get that broadband backbone in, but if we don't do a good job of the last mile deployment working with our local communities -- and I would add we in the -- in Virginia have had very extensive -- we got the biggest rural broadband deployment in the country, and we've spent a lot of time in the last year or so working on these last mile issues on how you engage local governments and local communities to make sure you can get this service not just to the school and to the government, but to actually -- to the businesses and the consumers in the area. And there may be some layers -- we can collaborate and cooperate on that.
So I'll simply say, Mr. Chairman, a hearty yes to Gary Locke, and he will serve not only the Department, but our nation I know with distinction. Thank you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Warner.
SEN. MIKE JOHANNS (R-NE): Mr. Chairman, thank you. And let me, if I might, just second the words of my colleague across the aisle here, Mark Warner.
Governor, it's just great to see you here. Our times did overlap when I was governor of Nebraska, and you did a great job. And if I were to add just another thought, you did it in a very bipartisan way. You worked with Republicans and Democrats and independents, and we can't ask for anything more than that.
If I could -- so I want to add my endorsement. Let there be no doubt about it. I like Gary Locke a lot, and I celebrated when I saw that you were going to be the guy that was nominated. In my mind, you can't get enough governors in the Cabinet. (Laughter) -- that's how I feel about it.
There is the official job description for what you do, and then there's kind of the unofficial job description. As a Cabinet member myself, I had an opportunity to work with Carlos Gutierrez when he was at Commerce, and just a fine, fine man. He came with a lot of experience in foreign trade and that sort of thing. But kind of the unofficial situation with Carlos was he kind of became the face of trade in many respects. Now, of course you have a USTR. You have the rest of us that were working trade issues. But it often times was the Commerce secretary that in -- kind of an informal way became the face of trade.
As you talk today, I would like to ask you to offer some thoughts on some hard questions. I won't ask any trick questions, but I'll ask you some hard ones. Trade promotion authority -- I maintain no President can negotiate a trade agreement without TPA. I support it whether it's a Republican or a Democrat in the White House. We don't have it today, haven't had it now for many months. I don't know why a country would negotiate without TPA, because the negotiations never end. That would be the first thing.
The second thing is it is one thing to say we want better foreign relations. We all want that I think. It's quite another thing when you realize that the first thing that foreign leaders bring up with you when you sit down with them, whether you're a Cabinet member or the President of the United States, is very, very specific trade issues.
And I'll just give you an example, very, very tough issue at the moment. You've got one of our largest trade partners that is very, very irritated with us about action that was taken on -- what really was the pilot program relating to trucks out of Mexico. How do you deal with that? Because that's billions and billions of dollars of trade, and it has a profound impact on farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, because if all of a sudden retaliation starts, there's no way to end that.
How will you propose to manage that, whether it's in the setting of a Cabinet meeting, or a conference with the President, or face-to- face with a world leader? You'll be shocked at how much you travel, how much you're on an airplane talking to foreign leaders about trade issues. I'd like to hear you flesh out some thinking on that and maybe give some thoughts on that as you move on to your testimony.
But let me just wrap up with this. I could not agree with Senator Warner more. You're the kind of guy we need in the Cabinet. I am thrilled to hear everything has worked well in terms of your background checks and all of that. One thing you'll realize on the Cabinet -- boring is a really good thing. The more boring you get, the better.
So I wish you the very best. You'll have my support, and look forward to working with you, governor. And it's so good to see Mona here. I'll pass her regards on to Stephanie. Thanks.
REP. ROCKEFELLER: Oh, my heavens. I've failed completely.
Governor, could you introduce your wife please?
MR. LOCKE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and to the members of the Commerce Committee. I'd like to introduce my wife, Mona Locke, seated behind me. She's a former television reporter, actually worked a stint here in Washington D.C. and was kind of the correspondent for some of the smaller stations in Kansas. So she got to know the Kansas delegation quite well, and then ended up in Green Bay covering the Packers and tailgate parties in Green Bay, came to Seattle, and I met her --
REP. ROCKEFELLER: Was she on the sidelines -- (inaudible)? (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKE: (Laughs.) And then we got married, and she's been a terrific first lady, really championing early learning well before it was ever popular, the importance, critical importance of educating our children, stimulating their intellectual, emotional -- and wellbeing well before they even go to kindergarten. And then she is now the executive director of the Puget Sound, or Western Washington Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation working on breast cancer education, prevention, treatment of breast cancer.
So she's been an incredible partner, an incredible administrator, incredible motivator, and a really terrific mom to our three children, Emily, Dillon and Madeline.
Thanks for being here, honey.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: She ought to be pretty happy about that. (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKE: (Laughs.)
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Yeah. Thank you very much.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, and welcome, Mona. Good to see you. It's good to have you here. Enjoyed our private discussion that we had. A lot of issues have already been raised that I agree with, particularly on broadband issues in underserved areas.
One that hasn't been talked about is the Patent Office, although I notice in your written statement you've talked about getting the -- and addressing some of the backlog on the Patent Office. It's another issue that's going to be coming up that I hope you'll put some attention to, and that is the changes in the patent law. It was on Judiciary Committee for awhile. And this is such a key, critical area for the further growth of our economy and development and protection of intellectual property and development of intellectual property that I hope you all lean in and watch that all groups are taken care of on this and it doesn't just favor one group over another group.
That was the issue that started coming up with the last patent reform bill, as certain group industries favored it and others didn't because it was going to favor one group over another, and I just -- I don't think that's a wise way to -- for us to grow. I don't think it's something we need to do to change and improve the patent system.
Another issue that you're very familiar with is trade disputes that we have that -- you'll have a voice at the table and work, particularly one on Airbus that I know you as the governor of Washington and my state of Kansas -- we've had this ongoing dispute with Airbus in Europe. That case should report out during your tenure. As Commerce secretary, I hope that we win that case and that we're able to use the offsets to really make this a fair and balanced fight. Whether it extends to the civil side of the aircraft that the case was built on, or the militarized side of the aircraft where the tanker issue comes up -- that -- (inaudible) -- floating back around now and people talking about what to do on it.
I think it requires really a -- kind of a new thinking about how we would address this, because those two issues are related. They subsidized the civilian development of the aircraft and then used it to undercut the price of the militarized type of -- the tanker aircraft. That's a bit of an insider issue, but I know you understand it fully from the state of Washington's perspective.
I also would mention to you on disputes with China -- I know you've practiced that area in your law. You're very familiar with trade issues. I don't know of another trade area that we're going to have more difficulty in working with than in China, whether it's currency manipulations, protection and intellectual property rights. We just really have had -- or perhaps need to have a brawl with the Chinese on making sure everybody abides by their obligations in this. And it gets very frustrating to people here that you get a subsidized system or artificially holding down of currency rates, and then nothing happens, or intellectually property rights stolen.
I was on the streets of Beijing just the day that a movie came out in the United States, and it was being sold on the streets by vendors the day of release, and you're going boy, that was very efficient. I rather think it was stolen, but we've had that as an ongoing dispute for some period of time.
I hope you really will dig into those, and I know by your past and your track record that you will. I look forward to working with you on some of these cases, particularly for ours, the -- from my state of Kansas, the Airbus dispute, and then how that's morphed into the tanker controversy has just -- it's a $40 billion issue for us in the United States versus Europe, and so I look forward to working with you, glad to have your wife back in town. All the best to you.
Thank you, Chairman.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thanks very much, Senator Brownback.
SEN. FRANK R. LAUTENBERG (D-NJ): Thanks, Mr. Chairman, for conducting this oversight and review of an excellent candidate for Commerce secretary, and we saw a Washington armada here with the two highly thought of senators and a distinguished former governor.
Governor Locke and I share background experience from parents. His parents, like mine, ran a neighborhood store kept open seven days a week typically, 365 days a year. And the thing that we did -- each of us seemed to have learned is hard work. And unfortunately, with the economy in recession as is, too many people are searching for a chance to work hard as they struggle to make ends meet. The unemployment rate across the country -- highest it's been in 15 years, and those people who have jobs are working longer and getting less for their labor. And so we're counting on the next Commerce secretary to help right this ship and get the economy back on work.
This committee has a responsibility that goes beyond that of the Commerce Department, and that is we do some significant infrastructure work here. One of them is, for instance, an investment in rail service, rail -- like rail and reduces congestion, reduces our dependence on foreign -- on fossil fuels, and we'll employ 27,000 people per every billion investment. And I use that as an example. And as the Cabinet secretary -- responsible for America's economy and its competitiveness, I hope that Governor Locke will be a partner in promoting investments in transportation, even though it's not within -- directly within his department.
In our meeting Governor Locke and I talked about another type of infrastructure investment mentioned by several colleagues; the need to invest in broadband, especially in underserved areas in New Jersey. The economic recovery law we recently passed provides the Commerce Department with nearly $5 billion for broadband initiatives to improve high-speed Internet access to the served and unserved and underserved communities around the country. By getting broadband into these communities, especially the low income areas, is essential if we're going to keep America competitive.
For Americans with limited time, limited resources, Internet access means access to information, quality healthcare, education that otherwise might be out of reach. And it means that children can get homework help from libraries and parents can go back to school and search for newer, better jobs, even as they stay at home. And for low income Americans, the opportunities available online can help find a way out of poverty.
The secretary of Commerce has the ability to impact so many aspects of American lives from protecting the health of our oceans to promoting American trade, technology and economic development to ensure accurate representation through the census. And I look forward to working with Governor Locke on these issues and many others, including stopping companies from doing business with terrorist states.
Can I close, Mr. Chairman, since you two were governor and the -- an appeal was made for more governors here. I come out of the business community, and my appeal is for more business people to join us here in the United States Senate.
And I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. LOCKE: (How do I respond to that ?) (Laughter.)
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Applause. I (started ?) coming out of both is my calculation.
Governor, just to -- so that you'll come back when we have our next hearing involving you -- it's our custom when somebody presents themselves for nomination for all members to give statements. We've cut them down to four minutes. Ordinarily, it's the chairman and the ranking member that give statements so that -- keep your spirits high. (Laughter.)
And to keep them high even further is Senator Snowe.
SEN. OLYMPIA J. SNOWE (R-ME): Oh, thank you. Yeah, that's great timing on that point. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)
I'll try to be brief, Governor Lock, and I welcome you and congratulate you in your nomination. I think it comes at a specially critical time for the Commerce Department, and certainly, your life's journey does represent a great American story, also, the depth and breadth of your experience and expertise in this multi-mission agency is so well suited for the many challenges and also the area -- the spheres of jurisdiction within the agency. So I certainly want to applaud your nomination, and I appreciate the productive meeting that we had recently on so many issues.
And obviously, one of the critical missions of your agency, as you already mentioned in your statement, is creating jobs that are made and stay in America, and that's exactly right. We have to really focus on jobs, and there's so many programs within your agency and administrations within your agency that are going to create jobs, and we have to maximize the potential of that job creation. And that's why one of the recommendations that I made to you -- and I'm exploring it -- is to create a -- you know, a jobs coordinator within the agency so that you can be singularly focused and bringing together all the potential of all of the programs and administrations under your jurisdiction to create jobs and making sure they stay in America as well.
For example, you got the International Trade Administration. You've got the economic development program that's so essential, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the National Telecommunications -- and obviously, all the trade issues that are so important. So I think that we have to maximize that potential, become singularly focused in coordinating that under one person that reports to you because if it was ever -- it's now more important than ever given the level of unemployment -- and we're at a -- you know, unfortunately at a juncture where, you know, we've got people making claims, unemployment claims, the highest since the 1960s, and so it really, truly is troubling. And so I think we have to do everything we can to enhance that capability within the Commerce Department.
As far as trade is concerned, another issue that I mentioned -- I happen to think that we ought to coordinate all the enforcement activities under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department, and specifically, the International Trade Administration. I thought that the USTR has sort of conflicting missions; negotiating trade agreements and then having to enforce them, and the public petitions simply don't get recognized by the USTR and it's been 12 years since they've acted upon a public petition.
So I'd like to see all the enforcement activities come under the jurisdiction of the International Trade Administration so we have singular capability of making sure that we're represented when it comes to violation of trade agreements in addition to the NI dumping and the subsidy responsibilities. They're already under the mission of the International Trade Administration. I just think that's so important in this day and age where we're losing jobs, is to make sure that we are dealing with a level playing field when it comes to trade enforcement.
Finally, on fisheries, if you heard so much -- and I expressed this as well, and I'm really appreciative of the fact -- of your, you know, expertise in this area because it's so complex and it's critical, and your nomination couldn't come at a more pivotal time for the fisheries. And that's certainly true in New England. We're facing enormous hardships with the ground fish industry, for example. And I explained to you what happened with the -- New England Management Council's decision, and unfortunately got, you know, undermined by one vote, which happened to be the regional administrator's, 15 to one to move in a direction to reduce the days at sea, but not as dramatically and drastically as the agency decided in overturning that decision by the council.
The inspector general just came out with a report that underscores what I mentioned to you in our hearing -- in our meeting, and that is there's a tremendous level of distrust between the fisheries in New England and the National Marine Fisheries Service. It's something that we have to restore. We have to create a confidence, and that means in the integrity of the science and also in the way in which these decisions are made.
So I hope to work with you in this because it's so critical and so pivotal. We've got to preserve our fisherman as we preserve the fishing stock, and that's simply not happening. And we're not going to survive this year given the ruling -- this interim regulation they just issued in order to move ahead to the sector of management in 2010. So I hope we can explore that further in the future.
Again, Mr. Chairman, I thank you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Snowe.
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R-FL): Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
Governor, I'm delighted to have a chance to welcome you as well and congratulate you on your nomination, as well as your family, and your willingness to serve is appreciated. I should tell you at the outset that I enjoy very much our opportunity to chat, and as you know from my comments to you on that day, I'm vitally interested in the issue of trade.
The state of Florida is a state that benefits greatly from trade, that benefits greatly from the opportunity of job creation as a result of trade. You obviously know that because you were so forceful in leading many successful trade missions during your time as governor, and I know that your state and mine both have seaports and the proximity to overseas markets that make us particularly attuned to these issues.
I am concerned about the protectionist attitudes that seem to pervade at this moment in history. The issue with Mexico that's -- former secretary, governor, and now Senator Johanns brought up is one that -- I greatly share his concern.
I share the concern about TPA.
I'm also terribly concerned about the lack of -- the fact that we could never get congressional approval of the free trade agreement with Colombia, one that I think would enhance our opportunity for job creation not only in the state of Florida, but in places like with Caterpillar, heavy equipment. It's what they import there. Colombia is moving on to do trade agreements with other countries, competitors of ours. They will enter in long-term agreements to purchase heavy equipment from others, like perhaps Germany where they are in negotiations with trade agreements.
So we're going to fall behind. And I think it is incumbent upon you to provide the leadership that this Administration needs to be a clear voice on the issue of trade. In this time of economic turmoil, I think that protectionism is the last thing we need.
I will mention to you that I think your predecessor, Carlos Gutierrez -- was also mentioned by Senator Johanns, and I share a great friendship with him, and I also admire greatly that he got terribly involved and deeply involved in the issue of immigration. Not exactly in the portfolio of the Commerce secretary, but he joined with the secretary of Homeland Security and was a strong partner as we worked for a comprehensive immigration reform solution to this nation's immigration problems.
I hope that you will raise your voice. I know you're sensitive and understand the issue in your own life and in your own family, as I do, and that you will have the opportunity to weigh in and help us to move forward an agenda that will include a comprehensive immigration reform bill, I think will be good for our country.
I join the ranking member also in talking about the issue of hurricanes, very important to a coastal state like Florida. So NOAA is a very, very vital part of hurricane preparedness. I have been involved in presenting some bills. I think I mentioned to you during our conversation -- relating to better research, particularly on issues of storm surge, mitigation of damage, and things of this nature. I hope that we can continue to talk about these issues as you take office.
And in conclusion, I should say take heart because Chairman Sarbanes -- when I was before the Banking Committee for my confirmation, Mr. Chairman, was not as kind as you. And I did not realize that I would get to give a statement at some point during the course of the day -- (laughter) -- as everybody went around the table.
But anyway, best of luck to you. I wish you great success. I enjoy my time in the Cabinet. I know you have a very exciting assignment ahead and lots of challenges, but I do look for you to provide what I think is essential leadership in this Administration on the issue of trade. You know it. You understand it. You know the benefits of it. You now need to be the advocate because the confusing and mixed signals that we're sending to the world are not good. And I think particularly as it relates to our friends -- Mexico is a neighbor and a good friend. We need Mexico to be economically and politically strong, and right now going back on our commitments on NAFTA is not the way to do it.
But thank you very much.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Martinez.
And now Senator Klobuchar.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and welcome, Governor Locke. You're only just a few senators away from giving your statement. I also wanted to welcome your wife. I too have spent significant time in Green Bay in our neighboring state of Wisconsin, which we always think of as the beer and bratwurst capital of the United States. And I do have a button I can give you from my last campaign visit on behalf of the President to Wisconsin. My favorite one -- Brat Obama -- (laughter) -- and that -- you could wear that to your first Cabinet meeting -- (laughter) -- would be very -- I'm sure you'd be -- look very impressive.
I was just -- as I listened to the great tributes to you from your fellow governors -- I think you can have nothing better than that, as well as our senators from Washington. I was struck by a number of them, including Senator Cantwell, that talked about your management experience, and that was my impression when we met and how important that is to this job as you look to managing not only the census, but also managing the digital TV transition.
We talked about how in my state that 21 percent of the people still have the rabbit ear or the old TVs, and I was one that believed because of the mismanagement of the program that we needed a little more time. I remember asking the FCC commission if he truly wanted to go on a roof in Minnesota in the middle of February to try to adjust the antenna. I think this little more time is a good thing, but yet, you are inheriting something of a messy program. And I believe we can do it. We've already transitioned some of our stations in our state, and it's gone well so far. So I think it's actually helped us that some of the stations have already transitioned. So we look forward to working with you on that.
Second issue that's been mentioned by many of the senators is the broadband issue. I think that this is a true opportunity to get our country up to date. We went from fourth in the world for -- industrialized world for Internet subscribership to 15th in just eight years. Jobs that we could be placing in Fief River Falls (ph), Minnesota have been going to other countries. And I think that this Internet expansion is so important to our country. I think back to 1935 when President Roosevelt looked across the landscape and saw that only 12 percent of the rural households had electricity, and then 15 years later 75 percent of them had electricity.
And I see this issue of Internet and broadband the rural electrification issue of this decade. So I think this is a great opportunity to try to get our system up to date. As been mentioned, there's all kinds of issues with what areas -- I can tell you in our state there's a number of areas that may have Internet service, but it's incredibly slow, or it's incredibly expensive. So we have to look at those areas as well.
I am going to be chairing -- Martinez is the ranking member of the Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion Subcommittee. So we hope with your experience in promoting American products abroad we can have some discussions and work on those issues. And I'm also going to be chairing a tourism hearing, and I know that's one issue that hasn't been mentioned, as we're in these troubled times, but tourism is still a very important industry to this country. And we would like the Commerce Department's help in promoting tourism in these troubled times, understanding that it's still very important that so many Americans make their livelihood in the tourism industry.
And then finally, the -- Senator Cantwell talked about the work with NOAA and Oceans, just a reminder that the Great Lakes are also included in that. For two years I served on that subcommittee. As I told the chairman, I couldn't quite figure it out at the beginning given that I'm from Minnesota. And it was called the Ocean Subcommittee, but then I realized it was because I could see Lake Superior from my porch.
But I will tell you, Governor Locke, that the Great Lakes issues are incredibly important. We've seen issues with Great Lakes restoration, (ballast ?) invasive species, and I hope that you keep this high on the front burner when you look at NOAA and the work that's done, that we make sure that there is significant resources and focus on the Great Lakes, as well as our great oceans.
Thank you very much. We look forward to working with you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): Mr. Chairman, how long do I have?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Four big ones.
SEN. NELSON: I can make it very quick, Mr. Chairman. I support you, governor, enjoyed our visit. I have a series of questions that I will proffer for the record that you can answer that go all the way -- and this is an amazing department, how many subjects that you have to control. The questions that I will submit go all the way from managing the fishery stocks -- we have a problem in Florida on snapper and grouper.
And the question is, is it plentiful, or is it being reduced?
And getting accurate information -- of course, all the questions around climate change, including organizational questions about -- should the National Climate Service be situated within NOAA? And how are you going to continue the satellite sea level rise measurements, such as the Jason 3 and other Jason type capabilities in our satellites? As you get into climate change -- to make sure that all governments at all levels understand the consequences of climate change. The single point failure on tracking hurricanes, single point failure -- 1G4 -- if it's down for maintenance or for an accident. We don't have that increased 15 percent accuracy capability that we have now. Of course, the census has been raised to accurately count the census.
The NTIA as an entity should coordinate closely with the FCC on telecommunications policy. Question of getting broadband out into as many areas as possible versus to as many people as possible by making it affordable. That's an issue in your department. The Joint Project Agreement having to do with assigned, named, and numbers on the Internet and, should that JPA, that Joint Project Agreement, be extended? Those are just a couple to digest as you take on this enormous responsibility. Thank you for your offer of yourself for continued public service. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Nicely stated, Senator Nelson. Senator Udall?
SEN. UDALL: Thank you very much, Chairman Rockefeller. It's great to be at this hearing today and welcome Governor Locke. It's a real pleasure to have you here. I just want to say the accolades you've received from all your former governors say a lot about you. I was never a governor, I was a state attorney general, and I served with several governors, but I belonged to an association that had the acronym of NAAG and they always used to accuse us, I know the governors did, of the National Association of Aspiring Governors, which I have not aspired to at this point, but I think these governors that I served with and Governor Rockefeller here have set a great example of public service.
Several of the senators have talked to you about what we should do in rural areas and I know in our discussion earlier outside this committee room, you talked about the rural areas in Washington and getting digital into those areas and making sure that people understand the transition to digital TV. You also talked about broadband in the rural areas. And so, I think you can see there's a real consensus on the committee on both the democratic and republic side that we want to see those things happen, we want your attention put there. This $650 million dollars, I think, that's been given to you in the stimulus package for coupon assistance is something that's important to us and I just hope that you make sure that that is administered in a very transparent way and so that we get out in those rural areas and get people taken care of.
The other issue I wanted to mention and you, in particular, as a governor, I think, have this experience. You have many tribes in Washington. We do, also, in New Mexico; Senator Klobuchar does in Minnesota; there are many other states that have Indian tribes. They are really hurting in terms of economic development. They have been left behind in many, many areas and I hope that your department will make that a top priority. Working with the tribes. Working with their economic development efforts. It's something that I hope will be done collaboratively. I know Ken Salazar shares the same feelings you do over there at the Department of Interior and I think seeing Interior and the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce and probably other departments working together could make a real difference on what is a very dire situation.
Just to remind, at least for my tribes, many of the Indian reservations in New Mexico have 50 percent unemployment. You know, if we have those kinds of numbers anyplace else across the country, we would call it an emergency, we'd have an immediate response of government that we'd move out there and get some things done immediately. So I hope you take it with that urgency.
I have some other questions, but because we're limited here in terms of time and I have another commitment, I'm going to submit those for the record. But I certainly wish you the greatest of success and look forward to working with you on all of the issues that your department covers which have a big impact in New Mexico and across the west. Thank you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Udall. I'm just going to make up a question here, not off my time which now goes to five minutes per person, and that is that you will respond to any and all questions that we pose to your department. Some departments are better than others. And we have an investigation, I mean, and we take the -- I'm sure they'll do on the Intelligence Committee and we get no cooperation, and so, you have to do that. You have to, you know, hold out that subpoena power, whatever it is. I assume we'll never have to use it on you, but I just want you to know that we're going to be an aggressive committee and we'll be proud to be that way.
My questions are -- it would probably be decent if you gave an opening statement.
MR. LOCKE: Thank you very much, Chairman Rockefeller and, actually, maybe we could -- I'm even tempted to dispense with an opening statement and get right into your questions, but I will take this opportunity to make a few remarks. I want to thank you, Chairman Rockefeller and members of this committee. I'm truly humbled and honored to be here today seeking your approval, seeking your confirmation as Secretary of Commerce.
Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to meet with most of the members of this committee to discuss the need for a vibrant Department of Commerce. One that aggressively promotes American products and services and ideas, both here, at home, and abroad while protecting our environment. We share a common vision for this department to be an engine of innovation, job growth, and economic renewal and I look forward to working with all of you to achieve this vision, if confirmed.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you as well as the distinguished Ranking Member, Senator Hutchinson, for the courtesies that you've shown me in the three short weeks since President Obama nominated me to be Secretary of Commerce. I appreciate how expeditiously you have moved this confirmation forward.
I'm particularly grateful to my two senators from the great State of Washington, Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell. I want to thank them for their kind introductions. Over the years I've worked closed with both Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell in the other Washington in our capacity as members of the state legislature and then once they came here to this Washington. We've been able to collaborate closely on the issues facing the people of Washington State and our nation. And I'm looking forward to the opportunity of serving with them again, but in this Washington.
And, Mr. Chairman, even though he is not able to attend the hearing today, he did stop by earlier and that is Senator Inouye, a great patriot who served our country valiantly in World War II as did my father. He's been a great role model and inspiration to so many Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
I also want to reintroduce again my wife, Mona, who was able to join me today. A first lady for the State of Washington, she spent eight years tirelessly promoting the critical importance of early learning. That learning cannot wait until kindergarten. That, really, it starts from the time of birth. And she did this well before it was popular and she's now doing a great job as Executive Director of the Puget Sound Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation focusing on education, prevention, and research for breast cancer.
Our children, Emily, Dylan, and Madeline, can't be here today, but like all of the Locke family, they are very much a part of these hearings. As has been mentioned, I am the son and the grandson of immigrants. My family's history in this country dates back to more than a hundred years. My grandfather came to the United States from China and worked for a family in the state capitol of Olympia, Washington. He washed dishes, swept floors, and cooked meals in exchange for English lessons. He lived in a house just one mile from the Governor's mansion and, when I was sworn in as Governor, I remarked that it took our family one hundred years to travel that one mile.
But our family story is really the story of millions and millions of Americans since the beginning of this great nation. It is a story founded on the American promise of freedom, hope, and opportunity. It is precisely those values that led me to come before you today seeking your confirmation to be the nation's 36th Secretary of Commerce.
The Department of Commerce touches ordinary American citizens in so many ways every single day. From the weather satellites to NOAA to the global offices of the International Trade Administration and from the laboratories of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to the many communities that benefit from the Economic Development Agency program. Next year, as the Department conducts the 2010 census, more than 1.2 million temporary commerce employees will fan out across the country to provide a full and physical count of the American people.
While the Department of Commerce has incredible depth and breadth, I want to provide a unifying mission and, if confirmed, I will develop an aggressive, integrated agency-wide program to create and protect American jobs. The goal is simple. To carry out the President's plan for economic recovery by focusing the Department of Commerce on saving American jobs and creating family wage jobs for the future. We must look over the horizon and prepare for the new economy that will emerge when this recession passes. Simply put, we must rebuilt, retool, and reinvent our national strategies for sustained economic growth.
The Department of Commerce, as the President has noted many times, must be able to do multiple things all at once. And with the talented staff of the Department of Commerce, I know we can do all these things and, indeed, more. We must create public/private partnerships that bring together businesses, other Federal agencies, state and local governments, universities and community-based organizations. Together, we will come up with innovative solutions to create jobs that are made in America and stay in America. To foster entrepreneurship and growth across all sectors of the economy. To deliver broadband to communities far and wide, urban and rural. To support innovation through cutting edge, honest science. To protect our global ecosystem. And to reduce our Federal deficit by positioning the United States as a world leader in exports.
In my home state of Washington, trade is the lifeblood of our economy. We are the most trade-dependent state in the nation with nearly 1 to every 3-to-4 jobs directly or indirectly tied to trade. There has never been a more important time for this country to have strong and fair trade partnerships around the world. Partnerships that protect our national interests while opening the doors of prosperity to American businesses and raising the standard of living for developing countries. In both the public and private sectors, I've worked hard to open global markets for American made goods and services. And more than free trade, though, I believe in fair trade and this means we must enforce our trade agreements and, if confirmed, I will not only help negotiate complex trade agreements, I will enforce them. As a former prosecutor, I believe in vigorous and even enforcement of the law.
The success of the Department of Commerce has never been more important to the economic success of America. It is my hope that you and the people of this great nation will come to know the Department of Commerce as a champion of knowledge, innovation, and sustained economic growth.
Mr. Chairman, thank you, again, for the opportunity to address this committee. Should you confirm my nomination, I pledge as secretary that I will continually and frequently inform and consult with the members of this committee. I now look forward to your questions. Thank you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Governor. That last statement was so important because secretaries often say that and then fail to follow up on it. That is keeping in touch. That's not just them, but their chief lieutenant. It's extraordinarily important to us and to our staff to be in close touch. I don't believe we should write our own bills all on our own, I think we should cooperate with you to get your input, but that really does put an emphasis on cooperation back- and-forth.
I'm going to give you questions at once. The census is just overwhelming. You mentioned in the beginning of one million three hundred thousand. It's the largest undertaking that our government undertakes every 10 years. Congress has declared the census an emergency. We've given it $11 billion dollars. The JO has placed a decennial at the top of their list of high risk government enterprises. Despite these challenges, the OMV and the Department have seriously underfunded paid advertising which is necessary to get people alert. And this all has to take place on April 1, 2010, so I mean, the clock has been running as we have all been waiting and it's a real challenge.
There are some who actually think that it won't happen, it won't finish on time, which will feed into my next question, the DTV, but I'm interesting in the level of your confidence and what your program is to make sure that the census is taken. There is a lot of conflict about the census and it's a very harmful conflict to the fabric of our nation, and so, it must be done properly and it rests on your watch.
The second is DTV. As the Ranking Member pointed out, it ends on June 12 and she was kind enough to agree to extend it to June 12. That's not much time and, you know, the range of people who are not covered by DTV, not all of them choose to be covered by DTV, is enormous. It goes from 10-to-16 million houses. And so, it's a crisis. How do you use resources provided in the stimulus package to make certain that no consumers are left behind? I'm obviously coming from West Virginia, very, very sensitive to those who are caught in the hollows and the creek beds of a state which is only four percent flat and 96 percent mountainous. It makes it very difficult and my interest, obviously, is very keen.
Can you assure people that they will receive the coupons they need in a timely manner? That's a hard question, I would think, to answer. Can you pledge to be more forthcoming with information to both Congress and to the American people. To bring the American people, frankly, into this debate, I think that's one of our biggest problems right now. It's we understand it here, they don't understand it at all out there. And what is the NTIA doing to ensure that enough boxes will be available and that there are no regional shortages, particularly in smaller communities? So I would as you those two questions.
MR. LOCKE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, with respect to the census, it's an issue that goes back to the founding of our country. In fact, the first presidential veto in America was over the census and a big source of debate between Hamilton and Jefferson and even President Washington was disappointed in the count and thought that it was an underreporting. With respect to the census, I know there are many members of the committee that have raised that. Let me first assure you right off the bat that the President has assured me that the Director of the Census will report to me and, of course, I ultimately report to the President, but that there will always be consultation and information shared with the White House and with the members of Congress because everyone has an interest in a full and accurate and proper conducting of the 2010 census. And I pledge to do that.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: But that doesn't answer my question.
MR. LOCKE: No. Let me address the issue of, "Are we capable of doing it?" We're going to have -- we're starting behind and the JO report has documented some failures of acquisition and technology, a whole host of management challenges that we face. We're going to have to devote extraordinary efforts to this and I intend to be personally involved in overseeing this and getting the right people in place and making sure that we catch up and that we work on this with absolute vigor. We're going to have to employ very creative methods of public outreach. Getting the message out to people; how important this is and the impact this has to their communities in terms of Federal assistance. We're going to have to be very creative in the use of technology to get the word out, to expedite, to be as efficient as possible because time is running out. As you said, the count must be made on April 1, 2010.
With respect to the management challenges that we face and, I guess, the issue of, "How are we able to deliver?" and "Can we deliver?" and I want to thank you and the Ranking Member for your leadership in extending the deadline on digital television. We will not be seeking additional funds, nor will we be seeking an extension beyond the June 12 deadline. But let me just say that in just the last several weeks thanks to the leadership and the funding provided by the Congress, we had a backlog of some four million coupons representing over two million households.
We are on track to have that backlog completely eliminated by next week. We are using first class postage to get these coupons out.
We have a concerted effort working with the FCC to get the word out and, quite frankly, I have to tell you that I think that the public service announcements and the education to the American people has not been all that clear so far. I can tell you that up until just about a month or so ago, I was not even aware of the full implications of this conversion. Most people who are affected don't understand what digital or analog television is and it wasn't until my brother- in-law told me because he relies on "rabbit ears" what this all meant to him.
I think that the public service announcements and the education messages have to be crystal clear; that if you rely on that antenna on the roof of your house or "rabbit ears," you are affected. We have to be very, very clear so that the people who are impacted understand this using plain English in our broadcasting.
We are also trying to work with the people to make sure that any last coupons that they have that they know that they can be reissued these coupons. And, again, we believe that we can process all of these applications after next week after the backlog has been completely eliminated. We can have a turnaround time of less than 10 days with respect to sending out the coupons to any and all people who want them. But we've got to do a better job of still informing the American public as to the consequences and the implications of this conversion and of the availability of services.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: So you really are confident that we can get this done?
MR. LOCKE: I'm confident with the resources that have been provided thanks to the leadership of you and the Ranking Member and the funds provided, we will get the job done.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: And do you have in mind a management team?
MR. LOCKE: We do have a management team already working on this and I've been meeting with them already informally. They've been giving me progress reports on what's been happening and I believe that, with the new funding and with the new emphasis on clearing out the backlog, working with the FCC to reach people who still may not have heard about it, that we will, first of all, take care of the backlog and reach out to people who still have not applied for coupons.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you very much, Governor. Senator Hutchinson?
SEN. HUTCHINSON: Thank you very much. Governor Locke, I want to have a clear statement on the record regarding the census and you have stated that it will be in the Department of Commerce and that you will share information with both Congress and the White House. Let me ask you, when we talked, you said that you believed that it must be absolutely accurate and that you believe in counting actual individuals at the correct location and did not think that we should use statistical sampling. Is that your position and would you elaborate, if you would like to, on your own position?
MR. LOCKE: Thank you, Senator. The Supreme Court has made it very clear that statistical sampling is not permissible for apportionment purposes. That is the law; we will enforce the law. That is the position, plain and simple.
Statistical sampling is used with respect to determining accuracy, to determine whether or not we need to do a better outreach with specific communities or parts of the country, and in fact, we also have a long form and a short form that gets into some of the demographic detailing and profiling of the American population, American families. That is a method of sampling just to find out income levels, etc., etc., but again, for the purposes of the census as we all understand it the apportionment, statistical sampling will not be used by the Department of the Census.
SEN. HUTCHINSON: Thank you. I think that is clear and I think it is the expectation of all of us that the actual count is what we would be interested in assuring and I think we're together on that. I thank you for the clear position that you took both with me privately and here.
Secondly, on the issue of the DTV, I think all of us have talked about it and you have said that you will make it happen. However, I want to say that I'm concerned that we haven't had a nominee put forward yet to lead the NTIA, your Assistant Secretary position, and I wanted to ask you if you are going to address that, if you can tell us today that you have a nominee in mind? Where do we stand on having the actual person in charge of the DTV transition to come before us?
MR. LOCKE: I can tell you that we do have a nominee in mind. That person is being reviewed by the White House. I also want to say that we also have a Deputy Assistant Secretary at NTIA who's helping lead this and we also have already put in place, or the department has put in place, mechanisms for oversight with respect to a lot of these projects, not just digital television conversion, but a lot of the Federal stimulus dollars for broadband and they have an interagency team overseeing this, working with the Inspector General's Office, that cuts across the department and is on top of these very large funding and projects where the Congress and the American people and the Administration have expectations of getting these dollars out quickly, but with results.
And so, we can talk more about that, but with respect to digital television, we do have a Deputy Assistant Secretary at NTIA that I have great confidence in who is very familiar with these projects who brings an incredible level of energy and management oversight. While we don't have an Assistant Secretary for NTIA that has been officially announced or nominated yet, the department is moving forward.
We also have incredible professionals in the department. Secretaries come and go and a lot of these political point pieces come and go, but there's a great deal of pride and expertise within the agency and we are harnessing them, or at least, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for NTIA is harnessing them and already working with stakeholders to get this job done.
SEN. HUTCHINSON: Governor Locke, I have introduced twice in two different Congresses bills to increase the research and the data that we have on the violence of the weather as in more significant hurricanes and, also, as I mentioned earlier, the surge issue that really has come, I think, in very recent times to cause the most destruction which would be Katrina and Ike. In addition to that, I think we have -- we used to gather the information regarding the change in weather patterns where there had been cloud seeding and other weather modification efforts, but that was actually stopped years ago back in the '80s.
My question to you is where do you think we can most effectively begin to gather this data and begin research? My hope and my original thought is that it would be in NOAA. And if you have any thoughts about the best place to do it and would you work with me to develop this legislation going forward so that we can achieve this? We did not have the support in the past from the Administration for the Department of Commerce and I think that is where it logically stands. So my question to you is what do you think and would you work with me to achieve the right result?
MR. LOCKE: Thank you, Senator. We chatted about this when I first met with you several weeks ago. I do believe that NOAA is the appropriate place for this research and data collection. It's a natural extension of the work that they do now with respect to weather as well as the oceans. Several people have mentioned the impact of the surge of sea water after hurricanes and, given the fact that NOAA does that research, it's a natural extension of their capability, their expertise. We must, in fact, gather more data and engage in more research with respect to all of our weather patterns to understand whether or not modification of weather in one region affects what the weather would have been in another part of the United States, and making sure that whatever modification efforts there are at weather do not hamper and have dire consequences for the weather of another part of the region because communities depend on that whether it's water for irrigation, water for fish, or recreation. And for drinking water for people.
And so, I very much support that type of research and data collection and look forward to working with you on the legislation that you might develop.
SEN. HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Hutchinson. Senator Cantwell.
SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Governor Locke, over the years I've asked several nominees to the Secretary of Commerce how they plan to stop the flow of counterfeited goods entering into the U.S., or counterfeiting of U.S. products like software, video games or CD's that remain a huge problem for us in protecting our intellectual property. What do you think that the Department of Commerce should be doing in this effort?
MR. LOCKE: Well, first of all, thank you, Senator Cantwell for that, that question. And I've long been, in the public sector as well as the private sector focusing on those issues of intellectual property protection, especially as it affects American companies abroad. Where you go to other countries, and as one of the senator's noted, you suddenly see a DVD of an American movie that was just released the other day.
That's taking away money from American companies, and taking away money that could otherwise could go into wages for the employees in supporting the American economy. So I think we have to work aggressively with respect to the intellectual property enforcement programs within other countries. And that we need to work with other federal officials here, and other agencies in America to stop the flow of counterfeit goods, whether auto parts, to consumer goods, to software coming into this country, because it's taking away from American workers. And that's got to be the number one priority of the Department of Commerce, enhancing American companies and the employees that they support.
SEN. CANTWELL: I'd like to follow up on that, because the U.S. foreign and commercial services within the Department of Commerce also handles trade promotion. And as we have seen the opportunity for products and services to get access to other markets, one of the challenges has been resolving disputes.
And if you look at the opportunity of our products to foreign markets as foreign markets have grown, huge opportunities but the number of specialists helping us resolve disputes, whether -- (inaudible) -- sanitary or what have you have just continued to grow. So, would you look to increase the number of U.S. foreign and commercial service trade specialists overseas as a way to help U.S. companies?
MR. LOCKE: I believe that our foreign commercial service operations are sometimes underappreciated and unknown. They are an incredible resource to American companies wanting to do business abroad, wanting to sell their products abroad, wanting to learn more about the opportunities abroad.
And they can also be great helpers in finding potential partners and clients and customers in other countries. And simply to understand the economic, political, financial, legal system of other countries. I think it's a resource that in some ways has been uneven around the world. We need to really focus on improving the quality of those services in every country where they have a presence. And in some areas we may need to beef up the number of foreign commercial service officers.
SEN. CANTWELL: I think, I think you know of my advocacy on clean energy technology, particularly as it relates to getting access to overseas markets. Would you be willing to, in your capacity, work with USTR (ph) to eliminate clean energy tariffs on U.S. products and services for markets bound abroad?
MR. LOCKE: Clean energy and protection of the environment is a top priority of President Obama. And it's also an incredible opportunity for the United States to show leadership in the world. And quite frankly, wee need the cooperation of other countries on climate change and environmental protection, environmental cleanup. And we in the United States have so many companies that excel in this area, from alternative energy, energy efficiency, to green energy.
That can create more jobs for people here in America, while exporting that technology to other countries to create a better standard of living for the people of those countries, but ultimately for the entire globe. Climate change, environmental protection knows no borders. And what we do here at home in America cannot truly be successful unless we get the entire world to engage this. Incredible opportunities for U.S. technology, U.S. jobs here at home, that has to be part of our trade agenda. That has to be part of our trade agreements as well. And I very much applaud you for what you've been doing to try to showcase American environmental technology to address the issues of climate change around the world, especially in Asia.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Senator Cantwell, and now Senator Snowe, whose gone. Senator Klobuchar.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, governor. I know that you talked briefly with Senator Hutchinson about the DTV transition. And there, as you know, a lot of this where we are today was due to a lack of organization in how the converter box program was handled. And how will you be more responsive to the public as secretary?
MR. LOCKE: Well thank you, Senator. And if I'm confirmed, I intend to work very closely with the NTIA Division of the Secretary of Commerce, or the Department of Commerce. We already, the department, excuse me, already is on top of this. The assistant secretary at NTIA or the deputy assistant secretary for NTIA has already informed me that by next week they have, they hope to have the entire backlog for coupons completely eliminated.
That department inherited a backlog of some over 4 million, 4.2 million coupons representing over 2 million households. And thanks to the appropriation provided by the congress, and especially the extension by this committee, they intend to have that backlog completely eliminated by next week. And the turnaround time for future requests for coupons will be less than ten days using first class mail. There's also a very concerted effort with the FCC for outreach to populations that still, and people who still may not be aware of this conversion. And as I indicated earlier, we have to have a better publicity, public service campaign to announce and educate the American people on exactly what this conversion is. Too many people still do not know that if they have rabbit ears, or the antennae on, attached to the chimney of their house, that they're going to be affected come June 12th.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: So, you mean Senator Hatch and my public service announcement didn't get through to everyone? It was really a good piece. Okay, I wanted to switch to, but thank you for that. That's very good news about the backlog. Tourism; as you know, Senator Dorgan has a bill that has, has a lot of support in the congress, and I'm now chairing the subcommittee that includes tourism. And as you probably know, hundred two, foreign visitors, international visitors spent more than 122 billion dollars on U.S. travel and tourism in 2007. And that was actually a 13 percent increase over 2006.
Now, with the economic times we're in, we know that won't be the same this time. But it is very, travel and tourism exports account for 7 percent of all U.S. exports. So it is a very important piece of our economy. And what I'd like to know, because we've, we get a lot of people talked about it, but are you willing to look at the Commerce Department to see how you can best leverage the existing resources of the department to protect and grow the global market for our country, so we can get more in, and also promote tourism in the United States, and any ideas that you have along this way?
MR. LOCKE: Thank you, senator. We do have some people within the International Trade Administration that work on tourism. Tourism does generate millions of jobs within our country. And when you think about the jobs that are indirectly connected to tourism, whether those hotel workers and people in hospitality industry are involved in, in tourism, they shop in malls, eat in restaurants, and support many other companies. So the extent of the impact of tourism is very large and very broad. There's a great deal of interest, fascination with America among people all around the world. They think of the great cities of America, but they also think of the great majestic natural beauty of America, from the Grand Canyon to the badlands (ph), to our incredible beautiful national parks. And they think of America as a place of great pristine environment, a place to visit, a place for recreation.
So we need to promote that. How we do that, working in concert with other states that have promotion and tourism programs, or major corporations that run major theme parks and attractions, that all has to be carefully sorted out. Because we have limited dollars, and how we leverage these federal dollars on tourism promotion has to be carefully thought out. But I'd like to work with you on greater emphasis on tourism, because that's money that comes into the dollars or local communities, businesses, and those visitors leave, and we don't have to worry about some of the impact of education, schooling, and etc, etc.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Last quick question. Just, the broadband issue, you know, we've had some very successful public, private partnerships in expanding broadband in our state. And as you look at the standards you're going to use, and the criteria for getting this money out to expand broadband, I just wondered if your experience as governor of Washington, what experience you had with these public/private partnerships? What do you think the best way is to expand service and make sure it's not so slow?
MR. LOCKE: The congress has appropriated over four and a half billion dollars for broadband. And it is to be done expeditiously. The president has placed a great priority on this, and has great personal interest with respect to bringing advanced modern telecommunications to the entire nation. It is also a priority of this Department of Commerce. And if confirmed, I hope to bring some of the same management practices that I brought and used in the state of Washington.
Where on major projects we have clear, deliverables, where we have clear, coherent guidelines for the deployment of these dollars. And that we have monitoring systems in place from Day one, and that we also have progress, final reports, so that we know what we got for the dollars that were spent. It's important that in the short time frame that we have for the deployment of these dollars, that we involve all the stakeholders. And the people at the Department of commerce have already instituted a very transparent, very open process of soliciting input from everyone. No secret meetings.
Public meetings. Input and suggestions over the internet, and all the comments are available so that everyone can see what is being received by the Department of Commerce. From all of these ideas, we're going to have to distill down to some common themes, so that at the end of the day we are having true leveraging of these dollars. Working in concert with the programs and activities of different states, different regions, as well as the private sector. We need to make sure that at the end of the day, we have something that is a unifying theme, that advances modern advanced telecommunications for people all around the country.
SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Thank you very much.
SEN. ROCKEFELLE: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Senator Dorgan.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND): Senator Rockefeller, thank you. Governor Locke, I'm going to be supporting your nomination. I think you're a great choice, and appreciate your being here. First of all, on the issue of destination tourism, and getting our share of the international tourism in this country, that's very job creating. As you know, I've put together a piece of legislation on this committee. We'll be re-introducing it, and hope for your support.
It's bipartisan, very significant effort to increase international tourism in our country. I want to ask you about trade, specifically, if I might. Last year's trade deficit was 800 billion dollars, and the new administration put out a piece here, says the President's trade policy agenda, interesting piece, there's not the word deficit in the entire piece. Not one word about the deficit. The question is, in your judgment, is an 800 billion dollar a year merchandise trade deficit a threat to our economy?
MR. LOCKE: Thank you, senator. I'm still looking for the book, and hope to --
SEN. DORGAN: That's right. I promised to send you a book, didn't I? I'll do that.
MR. LOCKE: We'll be able to, we'll take care of that.
SEN. DORGAN: You can answer without having read my book. I just, I'm only asking if you think that an 800 billion dollar a year merchandise trade deficit is sustainable, or do you think that it, it ultimately undermines our economy?
MR. LOCKE: We cannot continue to have such large trade deficits with any one particular country. And it is of concern. That's why the Department of Commerce must be an aggressive and active champion in helping reduce that trade deficit by helping sell more products and services around the world, and opening up markets for American companies.
SEN. DORGAN: And let me ask you about that then, because we have just negotiated, our government has negotiated a trade agreement with South Korea. Let me take one piece of it, for example, bilateral automobile trade. South Korea ships us around 800 thousand vehicles a year to be sold in our marketplace. We are able to ship them about 6,000, 800 thousand coming this way on boats, we get the sell the 6,000. Just over 98 percent of the vehicles on the roads in South Korea are made in South Korea, because that's the way the country wants it. We have a trade deficit with South Korea. We've negotiated a new trade agreement, and ignored the issue of bilateral automobile trade. Do you believe that we ought to deal with the issue of the bilateral automobile trade that seems so out of balance?
MR. LOCKE: Senator, I'm not familiar with the specifics of that particular trade agreement. And I don't know what other markets may have been opened up for American products and services that may have offset that particular issue dealing with automobiles.
SEN. DORGAN: Would you take a look at that?
MR. LOCKE: I'd be more than happy to take a look at it.
SEN. DORGAN: Let me tell you. We did a bilateral trade agreement with China. This is a country with whom we have a 260 billion dollar merchandise trade deficit at the moment. China is beginning to develop an automobile export industry. They're very aggressive. And we will begin seeing automobile exports in a very significant quantity. Our agreement with China, a country with whom we have a very large trade deficit, our agreement provided the following (ph) with respect to automobiles, that after a phase-in, they could impose a 25 percent tariff on any American automobiles sold in China, and we would impose a two and a half percent tariff on Chinese automobiles sold in the U.S. A country with whom we had a 200 billion dollar deficit, we said to them, it will be okay if you impose a tariff ten times our tariff on bilateral automobile trade. Does that seem fair, governor?
MR. LOCKE: Again, without knowing the specifics --
SEN. DORGAN: I'm actually helping with the specifics here.
MR. LOCKE: I understand that. But I think we also have to look at the entire trade agreement, and what, perhaps, concessions or openings were made for other American products, where perhaps there is no countervailing or offsetting that tariff (ph). But that, if we look at the entire package, but on its face, I mean, obviously we need to make sure that we're not giving unfair advantage to the products and services of another country while hampering our products and services going into that country.
SEN. DORGAN: You're absolutely correct. You have to look at the entire package. And the verdict is in with respect to China. Since we've done the bilateral, the deficit with China has gone up, up, up and way up. So, whatever we might have achieved somewhere else was obviously not significant enough to outweigh what we gave away. And let me be clear. I believe in trade and plenty of it. I think our country can compete anywhere in the world. But I think our trade agreements are almost bankrupt, unbelievable.
You were asked about the Mexican truck issue today by a colleague of mine. Let me just tell you what happened at the table where you're now sitting. We had a hearing on that subject. And what we were told, for example, is that the Inspector General with (ph) DOT says that we don't have equivalent standards. No centralized repository of driver's records. No central repository of accident reports in Mexico. No central repository of truck inspections.
And by the way, with respect to the cross border trucking project, we were told that one of the requirements is to be fluent in English. And the Inspector General's office told us the way they determine fluency in English was to have a driver from Mexico look at a stop sign, for example, and then you'd inquire what is this? And the driver would answer alto, Spanish for stop. And the driver would then be declared fluent in English. The point is, we're not anywhere near the point of having equivalent standards. And no trade agreement, I believe, should diminish safety standards on America's roads.
And we now hear that Mexico has decided to impose tariffs on sun glasses, toilet paper and grapes, among other things. I hope you will not allow that to stand. I mean, there's, we want to trade with our neighbors to the north and the south and around the world. We want trade to be fair. But Warren Buffet himself has indicated, you can't consume three percent more than you produce, and run trade deficits at the 800 billion dollar range and believe that can be sustainable for your economy.
No one is describing these trade deficits as helping undermine this economy, and help cause this crisis. It has, but no one wants to talk about it. Because the minute you talk about it, they suggest somehow you're anti trade. As I said, I'm for trade, and plenty of it. But I support you, and I know you're, you vigorously support trade. I hope you understand that these numbers, 800 billion dollars worldwide merchandise trade deficit, 266 billion with China, 73 billion with Japan. And by the way, that Japanese one has been there for 12 to 15 years. So, we have to decide as a country that we're going to stand up for our economic interests by expanding trade in a manner that is fair, that required fair trade rules for our producers as well.
So, again, I thank you for listening to me and answering my questions. You have a great opportunity to play a significant role here because of your credentials as a free trader. And I want you to succeed. And for that reason, I'm very pleased to vote for you. And when your nomination comes to the floor, I'll have a chance to visit about this a bit more. But in the meantime, I send you my best wishes. And I'm pleased the president has chosen you. And I hope you will have a chance to read the book I sent you, and we'll have a chance to spend some significant time to talk about this.
MR. LOCKE: Well, thank you, Senator Dorgan. Let me just make one point very clear. I believe in fair trade. And I believe that if we don't have environmental health and human safety standards, and other things incorporated, and labor standards incorporated into some of these trade agreements, we are putting American workers at a competitive disadvantage. And whatever agreements we have, we need to enforce them.
I think too often in the past, when we've alerted other countries to our concerns over violations of trade agreements, which have been hard fought, involving tough negotiations. If some of the elements of those other, of the trade agreements are not enforced, then we have basically given away more than we've gotten back. And as a former prosecutor, I believe in vigorous enforcement of the law. And I will do everything within my power, within the Department of Commerce if confirmed, to enforce those agreements. And let me just give you an example. When I was governor of the state of Washington, we pressed the administration to enforce trade laws and impose anti dumping penalties for China, for apple juice concentrate coming into the United States. We believe that they were illegally dumping apple juice concentrate. Pres (ph), Mexico, and the administration, with respect to some trade policies and differences with Mexico.
But for instance, our farmers, apple growers, have to abide by health and human safety standards, pesticides, herbicide regulations. And the apples coming in from other countries, whether Latin America or South Pacific, don't necessarily have to follow those same standards. And so, the prices are cheaper. That puts American farmers and American workers at a competitive disadvantage. So I believe it's appropriate to have those protections in our agreements.
SEN. DORGAN: Well, I appreciate that answer. My time has expired. Just one final quick comment. And that is, much of what we produce in this country now is intellectual property. And it's very important to be protected. There is substantial piracy and counterfeiting around the world. And we, you're going to be in a position to, I think, take new aggressive actions to deal with that. But we must deal with that to protect the property, the intellectual property that we create in this country. And the piracy and counterfeiting is unbelievable. So you'll do American business and the inventors and the creators in this country a great service if you'll make that a significant priority as well.
MR. LOCKE: I agree with you one hundred percent.
SEN. DORGAN: Thank you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Dorgan. Governor, the, we're having a hearing here tomorrow, a full committee hearing on cyber security. And this comes within our purview on this committee. And it, I'm not trying to be dramatic about it. When the internet was invented, everybody fell flat on their face, they were so thrilled. And the world began to do business in a different way.
Now, both the, President Bush's director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell (ph), who I greatly respect, and President Obama's director of national intelligence, Admiral Blair, who I greatly respect, have labeled cyber security perpetrated through the internet, as the number one national hazard of attack on the homeland in West Virginia, in West Virginia, America, anywhere else. So, I mean, it really, it really almost makes you ask the question, would it have been better if we never invented the internet, and had to use paper and pencil or whatever.
And that's a stupid thing to say. But it's, it has genuine consequence, because it's on the internet that these acts of shutting down, you know, they have the television saying that, ads every day saying that the Department of Defense is attacked 3 million times a day. And it's true. Everybody is attacked. Anybody can do it. People say, well, it's China and Russia, but there could be some kid in Latvia doing the same thing. I mean, it's an individual act. It doesn't require a sleeper cell, doesn't require any, you know, ammonia or explosives. It's just an act. And yet it's an act which can shut this country down, shut down its electricity system, its banking system. Shut down really anything that we have to offer. It is an awesome problem.
On the intelligence committee, we were taken for a full day to discuss, to an undisclosed place in Virginia to discuss this. It is a fearsome, awesome problem. And it's under your watch, so to speak. I mean, obviously it broader than that too. I wonder where this stands with you, what your thoughts are, and what you think we ought to be doing about it.
MR. LOCKE: Senator, cyber security is, obviously, of utmost importance from a national security standpoint to protection of our way of life. And as you indicated, a cyber attack could cripple the banking system, communication systems, electricity, how any and all businesses operate. It could bring our country to a grinding halt. I know that the great professionals, the scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have been leaders in this, and have been working with other agencies.
And it's an incredible set of laboratories that we have, with several Nobel Laureates, who are proud to call themselves employees of NIST. It is something that every federal agency's going to have to work on, and together, in concert with members of this committee, and the members of congress. And of course, the President's security officials as well. I'd like to work more with you, and learn more about your thoughts. But clearly it's going to require a lot of inter agency cooperation and greater attention.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: You're going to have to work very closely with the intelligence community. Because it's, it's a question of trying to keep up. We'll never get ahead of those who perpetrate violence, this kind of violence against us. All we can try to do is to get ahead for a little bit, then we'll fall behind. It's a losing game for us. And it's potentially a catastrophic national event. And I just, you know, I just think it's got to be at the top of your list.
And Americans don't know about it. Probably don't believe it's going to happen, because that's not the kind of thing that's likely to happen in a place called the United States of America. But it already has. And it threatens the nation unlike anything else, more so than suitcase bombs, more so than dirty bombs, more so than plutonium bombs. This is what threatens us. And I will just (ph) lay that down as a, a major, major subject. We'll be having a hearing tomorrow. We'll be having many, many others. It's that serious. Senator Cantwell.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to, Governor Locke, I chaired the Ocean Subcommittee of the Commerce Committee. And one of the things that we have had reports on for the last couple of years is ways to improve the management of an oversight of oceans. But the Puget Sound partnership in Washington state has been an innovative and collaborative science-based effort to manage Puget Sound, and an eco-based management system approach. And as you know, Puget Sound is the second largest estuary in the United States, so it's a pretty comprehensive effort. Part of the problem is, we're seeing dead zones already from ocean acidification. So, major problems to the fishing industry, particularly the shell fish industry. And so my question is, isn't that eco system science based approach the kind of management approach to ocean governments that we should be seeing throughout the country?
MR. LOCKE: Thank you Senator Cantwell. President Obama very much supports the use of science and not shackling the scientists in making sure that we have good science guiding all of our decisions. And the (Puget ?) Sound partnership is one that I believe that the Department of Commerce will want to use as a model in working with all of the estuaries (ph) throughout the United States, but also as a way of addressing the issue of depleted stocks--whether it's salmon, whether it's red snapper, and other species. Those types of collaborations, those types of partnerships, those types of reliance on science, and using science as a guide for subsequent actions, all of that is the approach that we need to have throughout the federal government, and especially at the Department of Commerce.
SEN. CANTWELL: Would you say that--I know that you have been quoted before as saying that we need to look at long-term goals like stock recovery, rather than just the immediate needs, and obviously fisheries management is difficult, (I'm or I?) assuming that you support the open and transparent process on fisheries management. But, wouldn't you agree that in the long run we have a long way to go with NOAA and some of these policies in creating a more open and transparent process in focusing on recovery?
MR. LOCKE: I do believe that we have a ways to go, and I know that the NOAA scientists are very committed, they're great professionals, we need to work perhaps more closely with stake holders groups, and we need to use some of the resources of other agencies within the Department of Commerce in mitigating the economic impact of some of these policies where we're trying to reduce fishing, trying to achieve the goals or the Magnuson-Stevenson Act to end fishing - --overfishing by 2011. There's going to be a lot of dislocation, economic implications, and consequences to the effected fishing industry, and that's where we need to provide technical assistance, economic assistance. But we need to use science as the guide, and we need to have open transparent policies working with those stake holder groups so they understand the objectives.
If we allow overfishing to continue, there'll be no fishing left for them, or for future generations, and it will completely end the fishing industry in so many communities. We don't want that to happen, but we need to take tough measures quickly, and soon. But we also need to provide economic assistance to those that are impacted.
SEN. CANTWELL: Thank you. Mr. Chairman.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Senator Cantwell. I just want to probe a little bit more on cyber security, because when you say that the current and the past director of National Intelligence say is the number one national security threat, that is a show stopper, and people don't believe it. Business doesn't believe it, the big ones do, and they're trying to do something about it. You've mentioned NIST, several thoughts come to mind, they set the standards after all of this. I remember when I had been on this committee for about two years, and I've been on about 24 years, I went out to NIST and they said they hadn't seen a Senator there in five years. And it raises a couple of questions from me. Number one, you're scope is so broad, I mean recently West Virginia is not exactly famed for its ocean capacity, but on the other hand the port of Huntington is the seventh largest port, operating port in the United States of America including Baltimore and Los Angeles, and all the rest of them.
Because of the Ohio River, and the coast guard has become a matter of enormous interest to me in protecting the power plants and chemical plants, et cetera, that have run down the Ohio River, which always back up, obviously to the river, because they may need the water. But there aren't enough coast guard boats, speed boats with (gun ?) capacity out there to make any real significant difference. So, one of the problems I think in the Commerce committee, the Commerce Department, is that there are so many agencies that do such crucial work but don't get attention, and two things occur to me. Number one, obviously NIST relationship to (set up a ?) security. How does one fully describe it? And secondly, keeping good people. I'm not sure, I mean I think there is an enormous surge of public commitment, national service --- we're going to pass the National Service Bill, the president want one, I think most of us do, -- (inaudible)--got to West Virginia.
But the desire for national service is enormous, but it tends to be in the under 50 group, or the under 40 group, and the professionals who work in key positions at the place like (NIS ?), which has been flat line budgeted for a number of years, keeping them, keeping the people who can help us formulate a policy on cyber security is incredibly important. And one of the things that I worry about across government is keeping our very best people, that they will come to feel that there's too much --- I mean these, after some sort of false starts the bar now for being allowed to serve in government in a high position is so high that I think it's actively discouraging people from wanting to participate. People are looking for reasons not to serve in government, even though their instinct is to serve in government because they have a new sense of commitment to the nation and their obligation to the nation. So these things clash. So, I'm just asking you two things --- one is, what role do you see this playing with the cyber security? And secondly, how are you going to go across the department and pick out the people that you want to stay, and encourage them to stay? I mean, there's a lot of them leaving.
MR. LOCKE: Thank you Senator, and I truly take to heart your emphasis on the need to pay closer attention to cyber security. I read you loud and clear, and you've made an impression on me with respect to that topic, and I will learn much more about that, I'd be more than happy to sit down and chat with you in greater detail--
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: (Inaudible.)
MR. LOCKE: And the other intelligence officials as well. With respect to keeping good people, I agree with you that President Obama has excited people around the country to serve their communities, to be engaged in their communities, and to serve their country. Whether it's tutoring in schools, cleaning up the environment--you name it, they're engaged. They care about this country, and they're concerned about the future of this country. I think that's what this election was all about.
The challenge now is to capitalize on that energy and that enthusiasm into real permanent change in America. I can tell you that, with respect to government service, I have long believed that it is a very noble calling, and not just the elected officials, not just the top officials, but rank and file employees. And when I was governor of the state of Washington, our motto was we wanted the employees of the state of Washington, regardless of what they did, to be proud to call themselves a state employee--to be as proud as if they were to call themselves an employee of Microsoft, or Nordstrom, or the Fred Hutchinson (sp.) and Cancer Research Center.
And so we focused on programs that interfaced with the public to improve their interactions with government, so that they could feel that government was efficient, and effective, and responsive. And we had recognition programs after recognition programs--even competition among state agencies on quality initiatives, and showcasing the reforms that they were able to undertake. I think we need that at all levels of government--pushing innovation, pushing efficiency, but recognizing the great work of government employees so that they too can be proud to say they work for the government.
I think we need to look at retention policies, promotion policies, and compensation policies to keep the best and the brightest. I think any government official will tell you that they've always been, they've always had a problem of keeping their best and brightest who were always lured away by the private sector, even lured away by other governments.
State governments, for instance, might train the members of the Washington state patrol, the premiere law enforcement agency in America, judged the number one law enforcement agency in America, only to have their members after the state's spent so much money training them, only to have them lured away with higher pay by some of the municipalities in the state of Washington, or other governments around the state, or around the country. So, salaries is an issue; financial incentives, rewards, have to be looked at, (but?)to keep the best and brightest within government service.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Before I call on Senator Hutchison, I just wanted to make one statement that should (cheer all of us up ?). The applications for the Peace Corp., Teach for America, AmeriCorp, VISTA, all of those programs --- all of them are higher this year than they have ever been before. And the quality of the applications are higher than they have ever been before. It's a powerful statement from people who want to serve their country in a certain fashion--social service.
At the other end of the spectrum, but not really, the same thing is happening at the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, their applications are at an all time high --- now, and the quality of those applications is at an all time high. So, somewhere in that fit, it says very good things about (the ?) American will. What it doesn't say is it doesn't get down to the solving of basic problems, like cyber security. But we have a generation, you know, now following another generation that really wants to help our country succeed.
SEN. HUTCHISON: Thank you. Governor, we've talked about the census of and we talked about the Supreme Court ruling that you agree and will comply with the law. Just one other point on that, and that is the Supreme Court did not specifically mention the intrastate redistricting. What you have said is on the record, that you want people to be counted one by one in the right place, as well. And that is what would effect the intrastate redistricting. Is it your view that the intrastate redistricting, meaning every person is counted in their appropriate place, is also a function of the census that should be adhered to ---the person in their proper place counted so that intrastate redistricting is also not going to have statistical sampling?
MR. LOCKE: It's my understanding that there are no plans, within the Department of Commerce, or the Census Bureau, to infuse any type of statistical sampling with respect to population count.
SEN. HUTCHISON: Thank you. I think that's clear and would apply to intrastate as well. Let me ask you one last question. I think we've covered, pretty well, everything here through all the questions. And that is the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Interior issued joint regulations last December on the use of the Endangered Species Act for a climate change policy, and on the Omnibus Bill that passed last week, it contains a provision that the Secretaries of Commerce and Interior could concurrently withdraw, within 60 days, those joint ESA regulations without having to go through any notice or public comment, and without being subject to any judicial review.
I am concerned about that. And that a joint set of regulations that went through the proper process and all of the comment periods, and were in a final regulation, that you would then be able to withdraw it without any of those notices that proposed rule making about the withdrawal, and the comment period before any kind of final withdrawal of that could be made. What is your position on that? And is that something you are looking at?
MR. LOCKE: Senator, I'm not really well versed on the history of that particular issue. All I can say is that it's important, with respect (in or to?) any listings of endangered species that we follow the law that we provide appropriate and full notice of any actions before they are taken, so that there's ample time for public comment and feedback from other agencies and other stake holders.
SEN. HUTCHISON: Well, I think (there ?) it was an expansion of the use of the Endangered Species Act to affect global climate change policy, rather than the normal use of the Endangered Species Act, which is to protect endangered species. So, my question would be, would you agree that if you're going to withdraw a final regulation, that you would go through the processes of a notice of proposed rule- making published in the federal register with comment periods before there would be any kind of change in the regulation that was --- (inaudible)-- last December?
MR. LOCKE: Again Senator, I'm--that's a little bit out of my league, and out of my realm of expertise, and I'm not familiar with the various legal requirements on how regulations are proposed under the federal system, and how regulations might even be withdrawn. So, it is an area of which I may have almost no knowledge.
SEN. HUTCHISON: Well, the law, the Omnibus Bill did allow the withdrawal without going through the procedures. And so you could legally do something like that, and I realize you are not prepared to answer that, but I would like an answer on the record regarding your views on implementing that, in my opinion, erroneous direction that could be used. I don't think we should waive the normal requirements for rule making, because I think that they are very thorough, and I would hope that you wouldn't use the newly given authority that Congress did pass in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. And I would ask you to answer on the record if you would go through the normal process, if in fact you were going to withdraw the regulation that was -- (inaudible).
MR. LOCKE: Thank you. I'd be happy to do that, Senator.
SEN. HUTCHISON: Thank you.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Let me just make a closing comment in thanking you for what has been an absolutely superb, on your part, statement of your values, your plans, your history, your nature, as well as your wife. And it's the following, and Senator Hutchison has just complicated it a bit, because she and I have agreed that what we'd like to do is to have a rolling vote tomorrow morning before the first vote, or during the first vote, and vote you out of this committee. Now, it is also the practice that people do have questions that you need to answer. So what I would strongly (counsel ?) is that I have no idea what your afternoon or evening schedule is like, but what I would like to have it like, is to get all of those questions answered, even if you don't write an encyclopedia on each one of them, so that we can in fact, proceed with that rolling forum call tomorrow in which you will be voted out. And then it's just a matter of getting the unanimous consent from the Senate. I mean, somebody may object, we may have to take a vote, but we always take our chances on that. But I'd like to see you in place as soon as possible for the good of the nation.
With that this hearing is adjourned.
MR. LOCKE: Thank you, Mr. Senator.