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Confirmation of Debbie Hersman

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HOLLINGS. Mr. President, the Senate recently confirmed Debbie Hersman to become a member of the National Transportation Safety Board. She has served the Commerce Committee for 5 years, and all of us will miss her presence. We all wish her the best in her new position and know that she will serve with honor and integrity.

I ask unanimous consent that the following statements that are part of the hearing record on her nomination be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:


Mr. Chairman, I know Senator Hutchison would agree that the most important character a member of the National Transportation Safety Board can have is independent thinking. I don't want someone going to an accident, mind already made up, sharp elbows telling everybody what they are supposed to find, and everything like that.

What I want is someone who can look at all sides of the issue. Someone who can challenge people to make the right decisions. Someone who can manage the non-partisan professionals doing the work. And someone, who at the end of the day, will give a fair and unvarnished response on what happened.

I pick NTSB members like George Bush picks vice presidents. You can search the country, far and wide, but the best of the best in transportation safety, is right here in the room, everyday with us, Debbie Hersman.

She has worked for the committee for almost 5 years. I've had her focus on rail, because of the tremendous needs we have to modernize Amtrak and improve passenger and safety issues.

But she also has taken on oversight of truck and bus safety, pipeline safety, hazardous materials transportation safety. And post 9-11, I've asked her to oversee transportation security issues, insofar as air, rail, ports, and trucking. In other words, she is well-rounded in all aspects of transportation. Her experience belies her youthful appearance.

Prior to joining our staff, Debbie was the staff director for Congressman Bob Wise of West Virginia, who served on key transportation and infrastructure committees. She holds a bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech and a master's degree from George Mason.

We still have much work to do on this committee on transportation issues, and I hate to lose my right arm. She is as hard a worker, as smart as any, as competent a professional as any Senator could ask for. But I know the country is better off, if Debbie is at NTSB, and I proudly endorse her nomination.

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