Mikulski Opening Statement at CJS Hearing on Department of Commerce FY17 Budget Request

***Broadcast quality video for download – opening statement

***Broadcast quality audio for download– opening statement

***YouTube video of opening statement – here

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee, attended a CJS hearing on the Department of Commerce’s fiscal year 2017 budget request.


The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

“I’m glad to be here with Chairman Shelby and Secretary Penny Pritzker to examine the Department of Commerce’s budget request, totaling $9.7 billion.

“Secretary Pritzker has the Department open for business and focused on jobs and the economy, promoting U.S. businesses and products overseas, bringing investments to America, and helping American companies while protecting citizens from hackers, cyber criminals and freaky weather.  Secretary Pritzker takes the job of managing the Department seriously, and has brought needed oversight of the 2020 Census and satellites.

“Commerce’s mission of protecting Americans and American jobs starts in my home state of Maryland.  Cyber threats aren’t just from a guy in a garage anymore, but also come from organized crime and nation states enriching themselves by defrauding and scamming.  In Gaithersburg, they are fighting back.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) brings government, industry and academia together to solve the biggest problems facing dot-com, dot-gov and dot-mil.

“Last month, Secretary Pritzker and I saw firsthand how well this partnership at the NCCoE is working and making a difference in the real world, not just for the tech sector, but in finance, energy utilities and health care, too.

“NIST isn’t just about cybersecurity.  NIST has always been at the forefront of technological research with its mission to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing science, standards and technology to enhance our economy and better our lives. 

“Secretary Pritzker, Senator Shelby and I worked together to establish manufacturing institutes at NIST to help American manufacturing compete by investing in new capabilities and innovation.  We’ve also worked together on a plan to renovate and expand NIST’s radiation physics labs in Gaithersburg, which are in a 53 year old, crumbling building.  NIST researchers set the standards for technologies like mammograms, so the 39 million mammograms a year performed in the U.S. have trustworthy, reliable results.

“Also hitting close to home, weather isn’t just about needing an umbrella, it’s about protecting ourselves from hurricanes, tornados and blizzards.  That’s where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) comes in.  NOAA is headquartered in Silver Spring with the Satellite Operations Center in Suitland and the National Weather Service in College Park, predicting freaky weather to help communities prepare.

“After Hurricane Sandy caused $65 billion in damages, this Subcommittee led the effort to make serious investments in our weather prediction models.  I worked with Senator Shelby to put $45 million into the federal checkbook to upgrade our weather supercomputer.  Now, it’s 10 times faster, which means the Weather Service can analyze more data for more accurate forecasts.

“When it comes to protecting people, every member of this Subcommittee is pro-weather and pro-science, but investing in weather doesn’t just mean investing in the Weather Service.   NOAA’s satellites need to be fit for duty and launched on time and on budget, too.  We owe it to our coastal state communities that depend on accurate hurricane forecasts and to our inland state communities that depend on timely tornado warnings, because one-third of our GDP is directly affected by the weather. 

“We talk a lot about capitalizing on NOAA’s infrastructure of weather satellites and ships, but I also want to talk about how we can capitalize on NOAA’s greatest resource: the men and women that work there.  I look forward to also hearing about investing in our fishing communities and supporting healthy oceans.


“More data doesn’t just make weather predictions better, it also helps us understand the economy, create jobs and solve problems.  That’s what happens at the Census Bureau headquartered in Suitland.  They work to make sure every American gets counted, so that planners can use the data to put the right services in the right places.  And this year, the Census campus will welcome more than 500 employees from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, bringing data experts closer to one another and saving taxpayers $66 million over 10 years.


“I’m so proud of the 45,000 men and women of the Department of Commerce in Maryland and around the world who work as trade experts, statisticians, patent and trademark examiners, scientists and engineers, ocean surveyors, weather forecasters and support staff.  You work hard every day promoting American businesses, protecting American ideas and resources, keeping our economy moving forward and creating jobs.


“I also want to thank you, Secretary Pritzker, for bringing your business acumen as well as your management and oversight skills to the Department of Commerce.  Together with Chairman Shelby, we have taken on issues important to Maryland and the country, including cybersecurity, trade, weather and manufacturing.  Thank you for your service, Secretary Pritzker, I look forward to hearing your testimony today.”



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