Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Markup -- H.R. 5161
Opening Statement By Rep. David Wu
First of all, I’d like to welcome everyone to the first Science and Technology Committee markup of 2008. We had a very productive first session, and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to pass good legislation this year. Today we will be considering three bills, each of which deals with protecting and enhancing our Nation’s critical infrastructure and environment.
HR 4847, introduced by the Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee, Representative Mitchell, and with Subcommittee Ranking Member Gingrey as an original cosponsor, reauthorizes the U.S. Fire Administration. The U.S. Fire Administration is an important resource for our Nation’s firefighters, providing training, fire safety awareness for the public, data collection services, and fire suppression and prevention research and technology.
I am pleased we are considering H.R. 4847 today, a bipartisan piece of legislation that will authorize USFA to continue its role as a leader and resource for the Nation’s fire service, and help enable firefighters to meet the dynamic and growing mission of the fire service in the 21st century.
We will also be considering HR 5161, the Green Transportation Infrastructure Research and Technology Transfer Act. As you may remember, this past May we heard from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as local government and industry representatives. They agreed that we have a great opportunity in this country to manage and protect our water resources through the use of innovative techniques and technologies that simultaneously serve as transportation infrastructure and as means for managing and filtering storm water.
The EPA witness, Assistant Administrator for Water Ben Grumbles, is already making a great effort to promote the expanded use of such infrastructure around the U.S. But he and the other witnesses found a number of barriers, which this bill works to overcome through research and education programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Finally, HR 3916, introduced by Ranking Member Hall, authorizes programs at the Department of Homeland Security to improve the technology used to protect the nation’s borders and ports of entry. Border security officers have an incredibly difficult job. It is part law enforcement, part first responder, part diplomat, and part detective. It is clear that these agents need the help of new technology to do their jobs better and to make our borders more secure. Technology can act as additional eyes and ears for Border Patrol agents.
This bill has special importance for me, as these technologies help reinforce security efforts at ports in addition to land borders. The Port of Portland processed more than fourteen million tons of cargo in 2007, and I know that the hardworking officers managing security there could use the assistance these innovative technologies would provide.
These three bills share an important common theme- the use of research and technology to solve some of our nation’s most pressing problems. I’m eager to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in advancing this important legislation.