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tv   Transportation Department Confirmation Hearing  CSPAN  August 10, 2020 10:50am-12:20pm EDT

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enjoy booktv on c-span2. >> up next a senate panel holds a confirmation hearing for positions in the transportation department and the board's of surface transportation and amtrak. the transportation committee is chaired by senator wicker of mississippi. [inaudible]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> this full committee nomination hearing will come to order. this morning the committee will consider four nominations the key transportation positions within our jurisdiction. nominees before us today are eric soskin, the nominee to be inspector general for the department of transportation.
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robert primus who is been nominated to be a member of the surface transportation board. sarah feinberg, nominated to be director of the amtrak board of directors, , and chris coons was been nominated to be a direct of the amtrak board of directors. the inspector general for the part of transportation overseas critical audits and investigations of dot's programs with the end goal of ensuring that our national transportation system is safe, efficient, and effective for the american people. eric soskin the numbered for the some portable. mr. soskin is a senior trial counsel in the federal programs branch at the u.s. department of justice where he h has served since 2006. during his tenure at the justice department, he has managed complex litigation and he was chosen for a detailed assignment as policy council in the office of the assistant attorney general civil division.ce earlier in his career mr. soskin
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served as clerk for a federal district court judge. he is a graduate of williams college and earned his law degree from harvard law school. as the independent federal agency which handles the economic relation of various modes of surface transportation, the work of the surface transportation board is vital. robert primus has been nominated to serve as a member of the surface transportation board. he has a distinguished record as a longtime staff member to multiple members of the u.s. house of representatives. he has served in senior roles in the house including chief of staff and senior advisor. while working with former congressman michael r-uppercase-letter during the time he was ranking member -- michael capuano, on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials, mr. primus gained
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valuable expertise on matters involvingli a rail policy. his legislative experience includes work on the surface transportation reauthorization act of 2015. after graduating from hampton university mr. primus began his career on the hill with the late senator frank lautenberg, a distinguished member of this committee. the amtrak board of directors provides guidance and direction the national railroad passengeri corporation, or amtrak. sarah feinberg is one of the two nominees before the committee today to be a director of the amtrak board of directors and she joins us by video link. ms. feinberg has notable experience in passenger rail matters. she is currently interim president of new york city transit, the largest transit system in north america. 2015-2017 she served as the
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acting administrator and administered of the federal railroad administration, and while serving in this role she was the transportation, she was transportation secretary anthony fox designee to the amtrak board. ms. feinberg formerly served as chief of staff at the u.s. department of.s transportation,n private sector roles and as a special assistant to the president and senior advisor to the chief of staff under resident obama. mayor chris koos has also been nominated to serve ono the amtrk board of directors and he joins us today byra video. he has served as the mayor of normal illinois since 2003 and the principal achievement for his municipality during this time was the development and construction of a multimodal station servicing amtrak ridership in downstate illinois on lincoln service
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texas eagletr trains. previously he served as councilmember for the town of normal and he is a small business owner vicki served our country as an infantry platoon leader with the armies 101st division. i want to thank all the nominee's for testifying today and for your willingness to serve in these important instrumental transportation sector roles, and also want to thank senator cantwell for her cooperation in our preparation for this hearing, and recognize or no for any opening remarks. >> thank you, mr. chairman. today, , we have nominees for three agencies is extremely important transportation missions. the first is the amtrak board of directors. amtrak faces a series of critical challenges in the near future as we deal with the severe decline in travel as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.
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in an effort to address these challenges amtrak's management has proposed severe cuts in service including reducing long-distance trains to three days a week and deep staffing reductions are either very concerned that he's cut specifically harm communities served by amtrak and threaten the long-term viability of our national rail network. i hope that my colleagues will step up in this next covid package and make sure that there is support for amtrak, the communities and the workforce. amtrak also w needs leadership d the police went two excellent nominees for the amtrak board of directors here, sarah feinberg service administrator of the federal railroad administration as the chair mitch and from 2015-2017 and then her current role as president of new york city transit. duringk her time at fra she stopped amtrak board and is well aware the challenges facing amtrak and the importance of rail service to kyrgyz across the nation. we're also joined by chris koos, mayor of normal, illinois.
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hee, serves, his cfius or by two amtrak routes so is very familiar with amtrak's operations and to be aware of the value it provides to small and mid sized communities. we are joined by robert primus was limited to serve as a member of the surface transportation board, stb plays a a very important role in resolving railroad rates and service disputes as well as reviewing railroad mergers and restructuring activities. mr. primus has a long career as a congressional staffer including working on these activities in the house of transportation infrastructure so i look forward to hearing his views on these are important issues. finally, with the nomination of eric soskin to be inspector general of the u.s. department ofnt transportation. the inspector general of dot plays a key role in that only preventing waste, fraud, and abuse but also ensuring that thn agency carries out its core
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safety mission for our nation's transportation network. one area the ig is curly investigate is the federal aviation administration certification of the 737 max and the faa's subsequent response to two crashes involved in the aircraft. i would mention, mr. chairman, i saw yesterday i find by the faa on south carolina for f intimidation of employees who are part of the faa certification process. the very issue we tried to fix in it on legislation that we worked on together and the legislation the wind administrator was before the committee basically told us he didn't agree that there were any problems, and yet now we see them issuing fines. clearly there is a problem and clearly there is intimidation and one independent workforce whoo is going to basically that the engineers the engineers. let them do e the work and not have fear of intimidation or reparation. anyway, i look at that interesting talbot yesterday mr. chairman, and looking for to
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getting back to those issues. the inspector general act of 1978 specifically states the ig should be appointed without regard to political affiliation and solely based on integrity and devastated a building and accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis of public administration or investigation. i will be asking questions because i am concerned that i want to know that you have the experience that lines up with this important position that oversees so many infrastructure jobs in the united states and definitely plan to ask you questions. .. intent to nominate mr. soskind on may 18, the same day a longtime employee of the d.o.t. inspector's office was removed by the president. i'm concerned the timing of these things. so i hope we can spend some time addressing
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thank you mister chairman for this hearing and i look forward to hearing from the nominees >> thank you senator cantwell and two ofour members would like to say words of introduction and i now turn to senator young >> thank you mister chairman . i am delighted today to introduce to the committee and to the senate the nominee for inspector general for the department of transportation eric soskin. eric is a fellow hoosier, we had an opportunity to speak yesterday and eric and his years in the indianapolis area as i did . eric's experience as a career civil servant and his valuable expertise in the law will bring competence to the important position that he aspires to hold at dot. following his early years in indiana eric went on to study mathematics and political economy at williams college n and graduated with high honors from harvard law .t
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school. today eric serves as a senior trial counsel for the department of justice rswhere he has successfully spearheaded major litigation about the constitution, administrative law and national security for numerous agencies across the us government over the last 14 years so he has extensive experience. prior to joining the doj eric worked for judge paul diamond in the us district court for eastern pennsylvania. us far eric has built a reputation as an exemplary civil servant and a tremendous legal advocate and i'm delighted that he's taking on the challenge of inspector general at the department oftransportation . he has great potential to bring objectivity, accountability and integrity to dot which is precisely what we want from this yo position.
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eric, thank you. thank you for someone with your incredible credentials, someone of your caliber and your hard work and service, for your desire to serve in this capacity . mister chairman i thank you for the opportunity to introduce this great hoosier to our committee . >> thank you senator young and i'm told senator durbin is ready to join us via video link. are you there, richard? >> i am here, can you hear me? >> yes good, thank you for giving me a few moments to introduce chris coons of illinois, he's been ria dear friend of mine for many years . those of us fortunate enough to represent small town rural america know there's an ongoing battle to save downtown. virtually every one of those iscommunities out of normal illinois has done over the leadership of its mayor chris coons who's been in that position for 17 years and the
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t most important element in saving downtown normal is the fact that he suffered on served on amtrak service. normal turns out to be the a number two station in the state of illinois for amtrak passengers , over 240,000 a year . with the home of illinois wesleyan university, chris decided to build an intermodal facility in vedowntown normal as the anchor for the redevelopment of downtown. i helped him secure a $22 million tiger grant and we moved forward with the beautiful facility. he capitalized on that and turned it into on $73 million more in downtown . you have to see it to believe it. it really does make you feel good that amtrak is at the heart of this effort and
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chris is an amtrak passenger and as you mentioned senator a wicker atthe outset he's also a small businessman in the normal community . he always wants to keep people moving. his business sells running shoes and bicycles so in addition to his love for amtrak he has a passion for people on the move . i'm glad to be getting a few words of support for chris today. here's a dear friend of mine and he's tackled challenges and has a vision which i think amtrak will benefit from. it was chris koos who decided his torn out of normal electric ai all the town people and for that he received national recognition. he's sejust a step ahead time and again and i'm honored to call him a friend and i think he will be a great asset when it comes to the future of amtrakry. >> thank you very muchsenator durbin and also senator young . we appreciate you spending time with us today and vouching for these nominees so thankyou so much .
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at this point i want to recognize the witnesses for opening statements. as is the custom, your full statements will be placed in the record at this point and we ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes or under so mister soskin, you arerecognized . >> senator wicker, ranking member cantwell and distinguished members of the this committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i appreciate your consent for placing my full statement in the record which i will summarize. thank you for arrangingthis hearing consistent with public health guidance and thank you to the president for nominating me to serve as
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inspector general of the department of transportation . it is a profound honor and i'd like to thank senator young of indiana for his words of introduction. our plgreat hoosier state always remains a place i long to be. i'm likewise grateful for the support of my family, friends and colleagues, especially my wife, a naturalized us drcitizen who came fearlessly to this country as an adult to study accounting and realize her dreams. she inspires me every day and has made me the luckiest person i know. i'd also like to thank our two children erin and les will bring so much curiosity and joy to my life. i am so proud to be the father of each of you. at an early age i learned that public service is a high calling and have aspired to heed that call. my father, a lawyer was a
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leader in fighting to protect the civil rights of institutionalized persons. my mother began her career as a librarian before becoming an expert on emerging technologies, education and training . my career in public service has beeninspired by many mentorse along the way . i wish i had the time to recognize them all today for the roles they have played . since entering harvard law school in 2002 i been committed to public service joining the department of justice as a career civil servant and representing the united states with independence and integrity for 14 years. as a litigator olwith the federal programs branch i provide leadership in a vast array of matters representing agencies from across the entire executive branch and the legally difficult, high-stakes and politically difficult lawsuits that affect the lives of millions of americans and involve hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds. managing many of these cases at one time as a generalist one of my core skills is digging deeply into the complex details of new
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statutes, programs and factual situations to quickly understand the issue and objectively assess the challenges they entail . law enforcement agencies are among my most important clients and my practice involves leading cross functional teams, directing factual investigation and communicating orally and in writing with many types of stakeholders. throughout my career with the department of justice across three administrations i have upheld the highest standards of professionalism of the department. these are all skills that will then themselves to my successful tenure as inspector general of the department of transportation. my experience working across government agencies have led me to recognize the critical role of the inspector general in each agency in combating waste fraud and abuse and advancing efficiency and effectiveness and the delivery of government programs and it should be like me a leader passionate about upholding public confidence in our federal institutions and sustaining our democracy by ensuring
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accountability and thereby delivering the results are public is entitled to expect from their government and as ig i will provide oversight for ndthe department and ensure core dot values are upheld including safety for the traveling public and efficiency in the departments programs to sustain and improve the arteries of public prosperity. beyond my experience and dedication to public service i bring to the job a trained fresh by accustomed to looking at complex situations and establishing pirate. this is a vital skill and an office that routinely initiates new audits and investigations to safeguard taxpayer funds and ensure the department adheresto the letter of the law and established will of congress . i would be honored to lead the office of inspector general and a staff of talented career civil servants in accordance with
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congresses demands of objectivity and if confirmed i will act with integrity and the honest and impartial in continuing the offices work. my team and i will use the tools established to provide accountability, promote transportation safety and enhance public confidence while maintaining the offices high standards of clear, timely and transparent communications with you, the rest of the congress and public . thank you for this opportunity to appear before you and i appreciate your time and look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you mister soskin, mister primus you are recognized. >> good morning chairman wicker, ranking member cantwell and distinguished members of the committee. thank you for affording me the ability to appear before you in consideration of my nomination to serve r. there several people responsible for my success
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who due to the pandemic could not be present with me this morning and i would be remiss if i did not take a moment to acknowledge them. i would like to thank and acknowledge my amazing wife gladys or her love unwavering support. my three energetic and loving sons benjamin jacob and erin francis. my mother betty primus, my sister marcy and her family and my brother michael and i'd also like to acknowledge the influence and support of my late father. lastly i want to thank my friend, teacher and mentor former congressman mike, 10 who gave me the opportunity to serve as chief of staff for 18 of the 20 years he served in congress. my desire to join this service transportation board is born from the idea that i want to continue my career in public service assisting in the oversight of an industry that is of great interest to me and significant importance tothe nation .
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urmy appreciation for our nation's rail system began when i was a child surrounded by family members worked for railroads and has culminated but during my time with congressman catalano when he served as ranking member on the infrastructure committees subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials. during that time i was afforded to the opportunity to work with the rail community and gain a more complete understanding of the regulatory policies that govern our national rail alnetwork . the service transportation board plays a critical role in ensuring our nation's rail network is functioning property . this committee specifically and congress as a whole recognize the boards importance the passage of the servicetransportation board reauthorization act of 2015 . this committee strengthened the authority of the board to oversee, investigate and adjudicate matters have long been a concern to industry stakeholders and congress alike. paramount among these
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concerns is the need to address efficiency associated with the rate case process. chairman beckman along with board members patrick fuchs and marty overman have since made considerable strides to address the issue and i look forward to working with them to implement changes that insistent with sound economic principles streamline the rate case process to reduce costs and timelines and ultimately enhance the board effectiveness and handling such cases n. another area of interest is the attention the board gives to the smaller and midsized shippers in class xxiii railroads that provide vital services to our nations small towns and rural communities. during my time i made sure the concerns of constituents who did not have the resources to navigate congressional process were appropriately heard and confirmed it would be a priority to ensure the voices of the small sugar and a small regional and shoreline railroads are amplified and
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their issues continue to occupy a place of importance among the board . i also plan to value and amplify the importance of our nations passenger rail service. as someone who grew up riding trains and continues to do so when visiting relatives in the south i am acutely aware of the importance of passenger rail service to a rail network and in particular many rural communities that rely on it and outlaw the committee's efforts to address issues related to passenger rail service and if confirmed i look forward to working with the other board members on issues that are of concern to the passenger rail community and within the jurisdiction of the board. in closing t, i have sought over my nearly 25 years of public service to build a reputation centered on objectivity and fair mindedness. which in turn allowed me to become a strong consensus builder problem solver and i hope to bring my background solving complex and multidimensional problems into a regulatory environment
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where i believe an unbiased, thoughtful and unconventional approach will lead to fresh ideas esand ultimately solutions to some of the challenges the board's task to address and resolve. again, thank you for the opportunity to come before you and i look forward to answering any questions . >> thank you very much mister primus. we had technical glitches with our remote witnesses yesterday, madame ranking member and i have a feeling these two are going to go very smoothly. so let's turn to miss sarah feinberg. mister feinberg, are you with us and can you hear us all right? >> i am, i can hear you and i can see you and hopefully you can hear me. >> you are recognized for five minutes and thank you so much for being with us today. >> thank you so much.
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kevin wicker, ranking member cantwell and the other distinguished members of the congress committee i want to thank you for holding this morning's hearing during what is an unprecedented time for this country and this body . i know your time is valuable and you have many demands on your attention and i thank you for your service and for your interest. here in front of you as a nominee to the amtrak board of directors. this is a board i served on deviously in 2015 and 2016 serving as the federal railroad administrator at the us department of transportation . as federal railroad administrator i served as countries take the regulator of frpassenger and freight rail during the stand on the amtrak board i have the opportunity to shape the company's approach to safety its continued implementation of train control and its approach to making the system more or less accessible to all and afterwards i worked closely with the company and board members as we
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implemented service improvements across the country including on state-supported routes and on the company's long-distance nervous including the concentration of the return of both service and each turn i felt our board was able to simultaneously work with the company and work closely with the congress including this committee and its staff to further improve service for writers, improve business performance and protect taxpayer dollars. to that end i view the possibility of a second stint on amtrak board as an opportunity to continue to poh push forward with safety improvements for all passengers and to serve those traveling public and taxpayers. without a doubt amtrak faces an unprecedented moment in a challenging future. like all transportation entities its finances have been severely impacted by the koos covid pandemic grid ridership as reduced and the timing of its return is
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uncertain while costs have risen. i believe amtrak is taking the right steps to address the crisis, leading into cleaning and disinfecting and matching service levels to correctridership demands . i believe members of the amtrak board have a serious responsibilityto the company as well as the taxpayers . members of the board have a responsibility to share a commitment toimproving safety , service and reliability for amtrak's customers and i can assure you i take those responsibilities seriously and in the immediate term if my nomination is successful i would look forward to working closely with amtrak to ensure continued protection of passengers during the pandemic and return stability to the company and its finances. my current day job is serving as interim president of new york city transit, the largest public transit agency in north america and it is my day job that prevents me from being with you in person as i remain in new york city leading our agency as we
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continue efforts following tropical storm and of course our ongoing work to recover from covid and prevent a secondwave . it's an honor to be with you today even for julie and i look forward to taking your questions . >> thank you very very much. and we now turn to mayor koos. can you hear us loudand clear ? >> i can senator, thank you. wi>> you are recognized for five minutes, thank you for joining us . >> i have proudly served as the mayor of the town of normalfor 17 years . i thank you chairman wicker, ranking member cantwell and distinguished members of the united states senate committee on science, and transportation for the ability to testify before you today and i would like to take a moment to thank this committee under the leadership of chairman wicker and ranking member cantwell
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for including passenger rail in the transportation bill. i'd like to thank president trump, secretary chow and editor durbin, duckworth and schumer for advancing my nomination and i like to thank congressman davis and congressman hood or their strong support of my nomination. if confirmed i hope to bring my experience as a mayor, small business owner and frequent amtrak customer to the board. these experiences have leinstilled in me the belief that passenger rail is a necessary investment that increases mobility, and improves the quality of life for all communities it serves . i have seen positive impact of passengerrail first-hand in normal . it serves by an amtrak station at uptown station. the station has been key to revitalizing the town of normal central business district. have happened if the business
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community and political leaders in the region did not recognize the importance of inner-city passenger rail and transitoriented development . i have a deep respect for the organization, its history and employees who are committed to making amtrak a convenient and reliable transportation option for all americans. i believe that a healthy national passenger rail system will be crucial to solving many of the toughest problems we face today as a nation from providing a viable addition to our transportation network, fighting climate change and new and sustainable jobs, amtrak can be a valuablepart of this solution . as much as i admire amtrak i recognize the organization faces a number of challenges i would hope to focus on if my appointment to the board of directors is confirmed.
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as a member of the board i would reaffirm my support for the long-distance passenger rail system . my community is served by state-supported and long-distance lines and i recognize the importance of long-distance train travel for many of my constituents are often unable to travel by plane, bus or car . bamtrak plays a major role in the mobility and independence of the disability community. this cannot be ignored. in order to make passenger rail and affordable transportation option we need to improve on-timeperformance . this means engaging in metrics and new standards as well as holding rail companies accountable for following agreed-upon timetables and i'm also invested in making amtrak a safer system . i would use my position as director to advocate for safe rail crossings, improve grade separation and right of way improvements that create a safer conditions, decreased travel times andimprove on-time performance .i would advocate for a strong
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safety culture for amtrak's management and employees. if confirmed i look forward to tackling some of these challenges. i understand the benefits of inner-city passenger rail my community and nation. i hope i have the opportunity to work with this community as well as the entire congress. i look forward to your questions and thank you for having me here today. >> thank you very much mister mayor and thank you to all of our witnesses. we will now move to questions and there is a question that e i am required to ask each of you. and so i will ask the question and call on each of you for a yes, sir no answer in turn. if confirmed will you pledge to work collaboratively with this committee and provide
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thorough and timely responses to our request for es information as we work together to address the important policy issues. mister soskin. >> yes i will. >> mister primus yes i will. >> miss feinberg. >> yes i will. >> andmayor koos . >> yes i will. >> let me say it's no secret that the ranking member and i are supporters of passenger rail . it plays a very important role in our economy. i'd like to see it enhanced and expanded and i assume all of our witnesses feel that way to. for miss feinberg and mayor
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koos, i hope you know by now that i've long championed restoration of amtrak service for the gold coast route from new orleans to mobile. southern rail commission has received a consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvements grant four $33 million for this project. miss feinberg, you're a little bit familiar with this because in a predisposition you came down and wrote a train with me and state officials and federal officials and so for yourself and each stop the local support for gulfcoast service . are you committed to working with me to restore this route if confirmed? >> i am. i remember that trip fondly. that was such a lovely day and i was reminiscing about
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it with your staff the other day . it was a beautiful day in new orleans and it was a great day for an amtrak trip so i continue to be supportive of returning both coast service and happy to work with you and your staff, amtrak's southern rail commission and others moving forward. i know it's been pushing a boulder up the mountain but i look forwardto working with you . >> it was amazing the number of local citizens, just massive crowds that came out to join us at each stop as we left new orleans and made our way across the coast. mayor koos, i bet you would be willing to come down and ride that train with me also on the gulf coast. >> mister chairman, i can tell you my association with one of your former . mayors
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john roberts reminds me all the time that i have to pay attention to the gulf coast routes and has invited me to go down there. i would certainly be honored to join you and to learn as much as i can about that route but i can assure you former mayor , smith keeps me well-informed onthat . >> that speaks well in your favor also and i can tell anfor those who are listening that do not know john roberts smith, it was a long time veteran mayor of meridian mississippi and he knows firsthand the value to a medium-sized city of passenger rail because that is around that continues to
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be successful and i think his experience there as mayor with the passenger rail industry after that has demonstrated to him that there is a role for passenger rail even in areas outside the major corridors. miss feinberg, did you shut down totally in new york transit and can you give us a minute about what you may have learned from the virus impact in new york city, the largest transit district? >> certainly. new york was both the epicenter and leading edge of the virus and it has taken a
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toll on mta that is hard to describe .
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face shields, we try to put as much space between operators and the public as possible. we've stopped using cash. we are cleaning our machines multiple times a day so it has had a massiveimpact on us and it has changed the entire way we operate the system . it changed the way we think about public transportation and change the way we think about operating generally . i am happy to take any questions on this. that's a high-level view. i think what we have learned is mass work. >> i appreciate that and clearly this is an important perspective to bring to this hearing today. senator cantwell. >> thank you mister chairman
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and i think that last port is important. whatever sector of transportation, keeping our workforce as they provide transportation is a key thing i hope wecontinue to focus on . the hearing gives us obviously a lot to cover for a broad spectrum of excuse me if i have to jump around betweendifferent issues but let's start with you mister soskin . the independence of your job is critically important. a recent geo report highlighted video must be independent of mind and appearance and the president removed the dot acting it, a career official and installed a politically appointed administrator to fill both those roles simultaneously. the gao has expressed concerns about whether this o.situation is inconsistent, that is not being consistent with the independence requirements generally accepted for auditing and standards and other professional standards.
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would you agree the abrupt removal of the acting it and replacing him with a political appointment creates an appearance of bias ? >>. [inaudible] what i can is my qualifications and my commitment to you to be an objective and independent voice to combat waste, fraud and abuse and to oversee the office of inspector general integrity if confirmed. i spent 14 years as a career civil servant in the department of justice across three administrations and i've been entrusted with politically sensitive matters and to have hard conversations throughout that time and i am prepared to
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continue to do so and to act objectively as inspector general if confirmed. >> so if you're confirmed would you talk about not interfering in investigations involving the secretary or political appointees of the departments ? >> i will serve with objectivity and integrity. i'm not sure i totally understood your question. >> do you agree with you will not interfere with investigations involving the secretary or political appointees at the department. somebody comes in and investigate the secretary or a political appointee the department from outside. >> we will investigate all allegations and all issues without fear or favor and without regard to whether it involves a politicalnominee or not . the public is entitled to have oversight of everyone in the department of
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transportation including medical appointees. >> so you wouldn't interfere if there was another investigation. maybe i should put this in writing because i think you're hesitating and i want to make sure i'm clear about what i'm asking and you can respond in writing for the record . that would be helpful . i'm very concerned about what happened there and i'm concerned about various positions within the administration i think are overly political but let's go to the amtrak organization and the twonominees that we have here . obviously, amtrak is critical for millions of people and for us, the two lines washington state to coast to starlight and the empire builder acer 15 communities and a majority of them being small and rural communities so i'd like to ask the nominee, what kind of commitment can we get that you're going to preserve the amtrak long-distance service,
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theeconomic lifeline and provides to rural communities . >> go ahead mister koos. >> thank you. senator cantwell, i'm committed to the national network of long-distance trains. without those trains we don't have a national network and i think it's crucial for the function of amtrak and i think people sometimes gloss over the long-distance routes as saying there from point a to point z but a lot of people don't realize that they use those trains get for shorter distances along the corridor and it's a critical part of ourdaily operations . i understand the need right now to be prudent about the frequency of those rats in a covid-19 world and i'm
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strongly committed to such time as we safely travel this country without the fear of covid-19 to return daily service onlong-distance routes . >> miss feinberg, committed to preserving a long-distance service. >> you have my commitment, i'm from a small town in a rural state myself from west virginia and i'm well aware of the importance of that long-distance service to those communities and also just the station and the employees there acting as touch points for the community. >> so in 2017 we had a horrific accident claimed the lives of three individuals and injured 65 people. the chairman of the ntsb
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received an anonymous warning about the amtrak safety culture and he said amtrak safety culture is failing and is primed to fail again unless and until amtrak changes its waysof safety management . former ceo richard anderson testified about improving the safety culture so this is a very big issue. i think you probably are both aware of the dupont accident that happened where a train derailed on sky 5 and shut down i find and it was a maiden voyage through a new rat. speed control and awareness just didn't seem to be there and it was very costly accident both to life and to property owner will you ensure that reforming the safety culture against positive train control will help us and that we have a safety culture that remains top priority amtrak? >> absolutely. >> mister koos.
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>> the safety culture is critical for effective and a safe system. >> i would hope that i'm going to ask a follow-up writing how you wouldcontinue to focus on . i think that we definitely want to have service area we definitely have big challenges with covid so thank you misterchairman . >> mister moran, your next. >> the four nominees for the amtrak board will be asked the same questions by maybe several of us. i appreciate senator cantwell and you both express your strong support for long-distance passenger rail service and i am here to do the same . more importantly i'm here to make sure that the nominees understand what they just answered and senator cantwell's commitment question about their commitment to long-distance service.
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i think all our nominees for their interest in service and i wish the inspector general confirmed success and inspector general is a important component of how congress should do its job and i want you to do it well and let me begin with miss feinberg and mayor koos. i've experienced what i think at least is an attitude in prior times that amtrak of bias against or at least not in favor of long-distance passenger service. what i would describe as a bias against service that can't make a profit onits own . my view is amtrak is designed to provide long-distance service across the country . biometrics of whether or not it shouldexist is not whether or not it's profitable . we have a nationwide system designed to make certain that service is available to all americans with geographic diversity across our country.
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the previous nominees to the amtrak board have received my committee but also received me placing a hold on their nominations before the senate could consider them and that would be a similar circumstance for me in this circumstance. i want to make, let me take a step back and indicate that at various points in time in my time in the senate i've seen the southwest g which runs through three states of members of this committee, colorado, new mexico and kansas has been in the crosshairs of amtrak and it is in my view only through our engagement and intrusion that significant improvements are now being made on the southwest g with the commitment of itsfuture longevity . but now with covid there's perhaps an excuse for diminution of service which i understand. what i'm concerned about is the return of the service and
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i want to make sure that responding to the challenges financial and otherwise of covid pandemic is not used as an excuse to now terminate or significantly reduce where it no longer is viable long-distance service on the southwest chief and other long-distanceroutes . so one of the things that i understand from amtrak is that they have criteria by which they would determine whether to restore additional funding for long-distance service. one of those is whether or the ridership levels in fy, the first quarter of fy 21 is within 90 percent of amtrak's projected numbers. that puts, requires me to have a lot of faith in the projections of amtrak so that something less than what you ha project doesn't automatically become an explanation for why we no longer can support long-distance passenger service . so miss feinberg and mayor
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soskin koos, would you tell me again that's what you've already said and i will ask you to respond to me in writing so that i don't have to delay your confirmation on the senate floor. your commitment to long-distance service and assure me that if you are a member of the amtrak board that you will not look for the excuse bthat covid-19 might present for the elimination orsignificant edfurther reductionof that service . in other words , we struggle with maintaining our service for the needs on a daily basis that now with reduced service i think ridership is going to be less viable, not more viable so a criteria that the amtrak is creating is making it more difficult in my mind to see that amtrak is on a path to restoration of service.
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what would you like to assure me of that ? >> senator, you have my commitment as i mentioned earlier and you'll have my commitment in writing as well . i understand these are incredibly important services we provide to rural communities and also to states that need the service so americans that want to take a train instead of a car or plane but i'm from west virginia where there is an airport but the amtrak service they are just like it does in many other states is similar to air service. it is one of the few ways that folks can get where they're going other than using their owncars . so you have my commitment and i'm happy to work with you and your staff as we contemplate the future and i know this is very important to you and to senator gardner and others. i'm happy to work with you. >> mister koos.
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>> senator moran, in your comments i would posit that there is no transportation system in the united states that is not subsidized by federal and state dollars so to hold amtrak to a different standard i think is unfair. the texas eagle comes through my community and i see the people getting on and off daily. and the ridership level on that train is important to my community and i think it's important to a lot of the smaller communities throughout the united states that don't have airports and maybe don't have an interstate but they do have train service and i think that is a critical amenity or our communities. this first quarter of fiscal year 21 seems to me like a tenuous benchmark i don't know where we're going to be
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in the first quarter of 21 with covid-19. i think we have to recognize the root of the country and people's willingness to trust public transportation again in a post covid world and that is the metric that i would use to judge the viability of the long-distance routes. i will indeed allege to you in writing my support for the long-distance trains. >> thank you mayor and both of you i appreciate your answers and we have been through this issue with amtrak now for more than a year and the senators from those three states, we thought we had things back on track and of course covid creates new challenges and i appreciate what you had to say and will follow through with you. mayor, i don't know the geography enough of illinois but the chief originates in chicago on its way to los angeles so this is not just
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animportant issue for the three states i mentioned, it's a long-distance route thatinvolves your home state as well . thank you . >> senator moran, your position has been made clear this morning. thank you for that line of questioning. senator blumenthal. >> thank you mister chairman and thank you to all the nominees for your willingness to serve. miss feinberg you and i have worked together in the past and i thank you for your work in new york and i want to join my other colleagues as well as your work in the department of transportation previously read i joined my other colleagues in my intent and urgent interest in the infrastructure challenges posed by amtrak and i think my colleague senator moran has said it well. we need to link thecountry, we are one country .that is one of the points i think that's been highlighted during this pandemic and we
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not need to think not only about existing tracks and railcars about significantly upgrading them, reimagining what rail transportation can be in this country. it isn't all that difficult because other industrial countries are way ahead of us and people are going to vote with their feet. they will take amtrak and the ridership will increase if they provide the kind of service that i hope all the nominees are dedicated to provide. let me ask you mister soskin, inspector general in this country are more vulnerable than any time in our nations history . the president inspired a number of them as you know red the state department inspector general left yesterday suddenly without any explanation. after his predecessor was fired because apparently he was investigating the secretary of state. the fact is that inspectors general need more protection right now and all that's
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required is 30 days notice to congress. will you support legislation such as i've offered that would for bid firing inspectors general not good cause? >> senator, i am currently involved in litigation representing the united states on matters pertaining to executive officers and their service in an acting capacity in their removal. both in light of that and my lack of specific familiarity with legislation you proposed, it would be inappropriate for me to comment at this time with a physician on specific legislation read what i will say that i share your commitment to objectivity and independence on the part of inspectors general. it is a necessary part. >> forgive me for interrupting you because first my time is going and second, let me just say
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bluntly that's what they all say and it's not for lack maybe a good intention but the fact of the matter is that this white house has interfered repeatedly and forcefully in investigations. and whatever your assurance is, without some greater protection you as other inspectors general will be vulnerable to the same improper influences and perhaps firing. will you: you will look at that legislation and yet back to me with a position on it? >> i will certainly look at the legislation and provide you with our input and assessment if i am confirmed as inspector general. >> let me ask you who are you representing up as counsel of record was involved in inspector general litigation? >> it's litigation about the independence of in executive officers and their appointments in services
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acting. >> what's the name of the litigation. >> it's several of the cases involving acting attorney general matt whitaker when he was serving as acting attorney general of the united states. and those cases present issues about the service of acting appointees. >> what was your involvement and you said in your resume politically sensitive litigation involving executive orders on travel and immigration. what specific cases? >> i've been involved in a number of politically sensitive cases throughout my career . first to come to our office they have to be of significant ... >> which cases on travel and immigration. >> i was involved in cases involving a president's executive order and proclamations regarding entry to the united states including ...
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>> is that the muslim band western mark. >> some people labeled it as such. i think the title of the president's actions were executive orders and proclamations. >> where you lead counsel? >> i was one of many councils on the team taking to defend those enactments against challenge. >> did you participate in policymaking leading to those orders ? >> my involvement in them was as litigation counsel. >> were you in touch with the white house at the time they were formulated. >> i was involved as litigation counsel. >> what was your involvement in the department of justice is banned on bump stocks? >> in that when i was on detail in a policy role to the office of the assistant attorney general of the civil division i worked on the drafting of what became the rule treating bump stocks as
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machine guns. i've subsequently been involved as lead litigation counsel in defending band against challenges for preliminary injunctions i'm proud to say we successfully defeated in their entirety and now on the merits of litigation. >> what was yourinvolvement in the clinton email litigation ? >> i was one of many lawyers serve as a trial attorney defending the state department against lawsuits by various outside groups and some of them interest organizations, some of them media groups seeking to obtain territory clinton's personal emails as part of the information that came to light. >> have you ever conducted an investigation? >> a core part of my responsibility biin defending litigation for the united states is overseeing investigations tuinto the factual circumstances of the
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mattersthat are challenged . i routinely supervise cross functional teams gathering information and seeking out, seeking to layout a factual basis on which we will be defending lawsuits and seeking to highlight and identify. >> could you give me a specific example please? >> specific example of what? >> of your conducting an investigation. >> absolutely. in the cases that we had involving the cancellation of the trademark registration of the football team then called the washington redskins, one of the allegations in the case which challenged a large-scale matter of constitutionality under the first amendment of the statute under which it operated, one of the allegations involved whether there was political
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involvement in the and as part ing of our extent of that case we got to run down the factual underpinnings of those allegations. >> i'm not sure what the time is the cause i can't see here . i'm sure it's expired. >> you are three minutes over. >> i apologize mister chairman, you are very gracious . and i appreciate your giving me time. >> iq senator blumenthal and mister soskin, sounds to me like you're a pretty talented and experienced attorney and litigator. senator baldwin is next. >> thank you mister chairman. my question is for mister primus. i appreciated the opportunity to speak with you earlier this week about your nomination to the board and
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i'd like to start today by continuing our conversation about competitive switching. competitive switching would increase railroad competition and market forces over railways. simply put, the current rules are not working for rail shippers or the public interest . this rulemaking has been swallowed before the service transportation board was recently because of empty seats on the board. i look forward to the day when i do not have to ask nominees for a commitment to take up competitive switching proposals. but i think that it is so necessary to provide competitive rail service so if confirmed, would you commit to moving forward with the pending rulemaking on competitive switching?
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>> senator baldwin, let me also say i enjoyed having the opportunity to sit and talk with you and about the issues that are of concern to you and i can say right now that i will commit to working with you, this committee as well as the stakeholders within the rail community on trying to resolve the issue of reciprocal switching and a lot of the issues that surround it. you are correct in assessing that it's been, this has gone on for some time and i hope to be a part of the solution with of the existing >> thank you for that and i want to continue by noting that rebuilding our economy
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gives us the opportunity to build back better and i expect the same is true for freight rail but i have been concerned about significant changes to freight rail operations adopted by the major railroads as part of their implementation of precision scheduled railroading for psr. these changes in operation were poorly communicated to rail customers and ended up disrupting the movement of the central product. underlying the psr is a focus on short-term gain. if confirmed, you do to ensure that psr is not used to prioritize shareholders over rail service and jobs. particularly as we work through to rebuild our economy.
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>> i think that it's been very clear that there are concerns with psr. the existing board as held hearings to talk about the issue and has raised a number of concerns with respect to what's been going on particularly with cs x implementation . >> .. i believe there has to be a solution to some of these concerns, and i think i want to play a role in addressing these concerns and bringing a fair and equitable solution to psr, into
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the communities that are impacted by it. >> thank you. my last question for you is that canadian national recently announced its intent to sell portions of its rail network in wisconsin and the upper peninsula of michigan. recognizing that surface transportation board has jurisdiction over linee sales, line construction and line abandonment, i encourage the board's oversight should assail occur. throughout this process my attention were made on wisconsin shippers and other rail customers, particularly our manufacturers and agricultural producers. do i have a commitment from you to give attention on this matter? >> absolutely, senator. in my statement as i said i am very concerned and i want to be,
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what to ever find an advocate on behalf of of a lot of the committee's that will be affectedec by those moved away from these areas. most of them are rural o and sml communities. there may be opportunities for as i said class two and threes to get engaged and to assist in these areas, but you have absolute commitment to work with you, and again with the stakeholders and these communities to make sure the rail system that they rely upon continues t to exist, and actuay becomes more robust and responsive. >> thank you. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator baldwin. senator tester is next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to thank ms. feinberg and mr. koos for their comments
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to senator moran. i'm also going to focus on that. before i go there though i did have some questions for mr. soskin but i'm not going to ask them, and i'll tell you why. because after listening to your responses to senator blumenthal, i just don't think you're being straight up. i will just tell you that right now. you've been told about it if it is and that's what you been doing. quite frankly up and put in a position that is highly political now and you need to address that and how you're going to handle that moving forward, and you have yet to do that. there's no need wasting my time on questions to revolve around that. this is for ms. feinberg and mr. koos. i just want to say first of all, i am a long-distance guy, too, and we've been fighting like hell with everybody dealing with amtrak. it seems like they want to cut the long-distance routes.
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i have the same perspective as senator moran does on this. and i'll tell you i think would be a huge mistake. but we have been playing defense. if you get confirmed to the amtrak board of directors, what are you going to do on offense to make thiss long-distance routes more appealing and more writer friendly. >> i'm happy to start, senator. thank you for the question and i hope you can see me because suddenly i can't see any of you sunk is going to assume you can see me and go with it. thank you for the question. look, i think one thing that amtrak needs to do is take over how we can approve improve ridn those routes. whether it's through the dining experience or the experience in the private rooms or the reliability experience, service experience, i think there are things we can do that will bring ridership back particularly in the moment we are in when it may
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be that all travel feels unappealing to folks who are particularly anxious at this moment, but i think the reality is and line travel in particular feels scary. i think this can be an opportunity for amtrak, and happy to work with you and your staff as we walk through those issues. >> mr. koos? >> i i: think i would echo what. i think modern cleaning equipment, understand what the customer wants, monitoring that, measuring that is critical for the improvement of the service. the empire building is not wasted on me, senator, while it goes through some beautiful country, it does make sure major population areas, billings, missoula, ett cetera. but again modern, clean
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equipment, real service that people want, maybe different levels of meal service, at a cost. that. at we have to understand what customers want. confirmed, i haa notion and hopefully you will back it up with actions but we will have a conversation and i n't want to -- [indiscernible] let me ask you this and aps this yes or no, do any of you live on the railroad system in new york? >> yes. >> do you think there are thing that are done that could implement the united states to make our system more user friendly? on-timeld say, senator,
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performance and modern cleaning equipment and reasonable male service. and get all levels of it. it is a model that we should look at. to get from t is one mode of transportation to another. and movement from airports to rail. and that's something -- amtrak is an important thing for us to get belter on in the united states if we want people. benchmarks and staffing cuts, while they continue to ask for supplementals and how these folks are going to deal with that. you don't have to answer that. thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, ranking member.
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senator wicker: if there are no further questions >> maybe i'll just keep going. senator wicker: you could take a round two or three. but as to your last comments, we will leave the roofered open for two weeks and is customary during this time, senators are asked to submit any questions for the record with the deadline with close of business thursday, august 20 of this year. and so the committee asked witnesses upon reset of any questions, you submit answers as soon as possible. t me finish the sentence, no later than september 3, 2020. >> i think somebody i --
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indiscernible] >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate everyone for being here today. like everyone else. we in nevada and amtrak service and wanted to tell you how important it is and comes to know surprise to your nominees that we do have service in northern nevada. it is a vital link in and out of street communities. these are places that depend on reliable rail service to bring travelers in and out of their communities and 84,000 riders
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who travel. and if you ride on that line, you will see the beautiful mountains and valleys. i'm quite sure. and lots of our riders, veterans and seniors and go into reno and other kinds of things. due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen this service been temporarily cut. this is a job issue. indiscernible] >> i need to protect their safety and ability to move around as much as i do.
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ollowing up questions from the senators, i was hoping i would get a commitment to ensure that people in nevada as well as other rural communities wonderful beautiful communities to have long distance service. senator feinstein: i'm happy to go first. nice to see you. happy to work with your staff. i know this is important to the people of your state and recognize your commitment and look forward to working with you. mr. koos: i would agree with that. i would support amtrak service through the state of nevada and any state it goes through in
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terms of the national network. it is critical to maintain frequency and what makes it work. >> i couldn't agree with you more. thank you for being here today. thank you, mr. chairman of giving my beauty of northern nevada. thank you. senator wicker: i can't wait to visit there. >> come on. senator wicker: we apologize for not having you in the cue for question and answer. are there other senators that i may have missed? if not, i made the announcements and with that, i believe -- let me check with counsel. there being no further business, this hearing is concluded. and i think each of our
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witnesses and they are all i think they are all four excellent choices. we are adjourned. conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the acting commissioner of u.s. customs and border protection mark morgan discusses the protest in portland, oregon, hosted by the heritage foundation. live at 2:00 eastern on c-span2 come online the or you can listen live on the free
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c-span radio app. >> here's a look at congress as we begin the week. after president trump signed executive orders related to the covid-19 pandemic lawmakers from both parties say they are open to further negotiations on a more comprehensive relief package. right now thou stands in recess for the month of august holding brief pro forma sessions every three days between now and labor day. in the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell says he plans to remain in session in case an agreement is reached. no votes are currently scheduled for when the senate returns later today but if a deal is announced, members of both chambers will be given 24 hours notice to return to the capital for votes. as always follow the house live on c-span, the senate live on c-span2.
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>> tonight on "the communicators" american economic liberties project executive director sarah miller and baker donelson senior advisor barbara comstock on whether big tech is too big. >> there are not going to be more facebook, more amazon's and more google's because our antitrust workers and/or policymakers have allowed these handful of corporations to amass an enormous amount of power over the respective markets to shut down competition and engage in self prophecy and predatory behavior. >> when i heard from those leaders, of those businesses, was the american success story and all the things you're doing to help our current economy thrive, grow and how to make america the most competitive tech ecosystem in the world. >> sarah miller and barbara comstock tonight at the eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. >> weeknights this month we're
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featuring booktv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span2. >> enjoy booktv on c-span2. >> up next to conversation about u.s. military power and money for potential conflict. this event from aspen institute security form is about 50 minutes. >> thank you, nick. it's great to be here with you in with the security forum and with chris. we book writers lik


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