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EXECUTIVE SESSION


American Government Topics:  Nicole R. Nason, Federal Highway Administration

EXECUTIVE SESSION

Senator Tom Carper
Congressional Record: 116th Congress
28 March 2019


EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, 
which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Nicole R. Nason, of New 
York, to be Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will be 15 
minutes of debate, equally divided in the usual form.
  The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my friend and 
colleague, Senator Barrasso, to speak on behalf of the nomination of 
Nicole Nason to serve as Administrator of the Federal Highway 
Administration.
  Ms. Nason is currently serving as the Assistant Secretary for 
Administration

[[Page S2078]]

at the State Department. Right now, though, there is no Administrator 
leading the Federal Highway Administration. In fact, it has been more 
than 2 years since we had an Administrator in charge at that important 
Agency. The last time our country went this long without top leadership 
at the Federal Highway Administration was more than 100 years ago, back 
when the Agency was known as the Bureau of Public Roads. Henry Ford had 
just introduced the Model T, and the idea of speedy and safe 
transcontinental travel was still outside of our imagination and even 
further from being realized.
  Today the Federal Highway Administration oversees more than 220,000 
miles of our National Highway System and some 145,000 bridges. The sad 
truth is, many of these roadways and many of these bridges are in poor, 
in some cases, even dangerous condition, having been in use far beyond 
the intended duration of their original design.
  Moments from now, when Ms. Nason is confirmed--and I hope she will be 
confirmed--to be our Administrator, I think she is going to inherit 
responsibilities and political realities far more challenging and 
complex than perhaps all of her predecessors.
  As our next Administrator, Ms. Nason will find herself at the center 
of a national crisis because our highway trust fund is going broke, and 
the system of paying for it is broken.
  Last year, we spent about $11 billion more from the highway trust 
fund than we collected in revenues. When that happens, the highway 
trust fund turns to the general fund, Treasury, and says: How about $11 
billion? The general fund doesn't have $11 billion, so what Treasury 
does is it issues debt in order to finance the hole in the trust fund, 
the general fund, so we can actually fund the hole in the highway trust 
fund. It is crazy. In fact, to pay for the FAST Act, we took $70 
billion from the general fund and other programs.
  For the next Transportation bill, we need to find an additional $68 
billion--$68 billion--just to prevent the highway trust fund from going 
broke for 5 more years and to keep our programs at the current funding 
level.
  We all know that the current funding isn't sufficient, either. 
Despite spending more than we collect, we still aren't spending enough. 
The backlog of money to rehabilitate and improve highways and bridges 
in this country has grown to $800 billion. The backlog for roads, 
highways, and bridges is $800 billion. The 800-pound gorilla in the 
room is really an $800 billion gorilla.
  We have to figure out how we are going to pay to maintain or better 
yet rebuild and modernize our roads, highways, bridges, and transit 
systems. That should be near the top of our to-do list. It is not just 
the Senate, not just the House, not just the Congress, not just the 
administration, but all of us together.
  Whether or not it is fair, Ms. Nason's job as Administrator will be 
made either easier or all the more difficult by Congress's ability or 
inability and the administration's ability or inability to responsibly 
address that 800-pound gorilla.
  On the topic of paying for infrastructure, I was encouraged to hear 
from Ms. Nason at her confirmation hearing that she believes that ``all 
options are on the table.'' Those are her words: ``All options are on 
the table.'' I welcome those words.
  We also discussed several other policy-related concerns Ms. Nason 
will need to begin addressing on day one at the Federal Highway 
Administration. Too many pedestrians, too many bicyclists, and too many 
drivers put their lives at risk when they use our roadways.
  In 2017, 2 years ago, there were more than 37,000 fatalities on our 
Nation's roadways. In that same year, nearly 7,000 nonmotorized users 
were killed. That is unacceptable.
  I was encouraged that during her confirmation hearing, Ms. Nason 
promised that she would have a focus on safety at the Agency and work 
closely with NHTSA and others to improve information-sharing with 
States, localities, and Tribal communities.
  Too many Americans lack access to reliable transit or safe places to 
walk or to bike. In my State, we have done a lot in the last 20, 25 
years. There is a lot more to do, and, frankly, we can learn from other 
States, and maybe one or two of them can learn from us.
  Meanwhile, our country's public safety networks should connect people 
to commerce and opportunity in every ZIP Code--not just some of them, 
in every ZIP Code. In too many instances, disadvantaged communities are 
spatially disconnected from commerce and opportunity. Lower income 
neighborhoods are often far from good-paying job opportunities, or safe 
and dependable transit options don't exist for those working outside of 
an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Our country's public transportation 
networks should lift up disadvantaged communities--lift them up. The 
Federal Highway Administration must be a strong Federal partner in that 
effort.
  Too many drivers lack access to charging stations for electric 
vehicles and hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell vehicles. This is 
especially frustrating for those who have made investments in this 
technology but may not have feasible options to use those investments.
  That brings us to the glaring reality of climate change and its 
worsening impact on our infrastructure. Our vehicles and travel 
patterns exacerbate the impacts of climate change, and mobile sources 
are our Nation's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. I want to 
say that again. Our vehicles and travel patterns accelerate and 
exacerbate the effects of climate change, and mobile sources--our cars, 
trucks, and vans--are our Nation's largest source of greenhouse gas 
emissions in this country and on the planet.
  Meanwhile, increasingly frequent and extreme weather events are 
continuing to erode our transportation networks. We see it in my State. 
My guess is that we see it in every other State that is represented 
here.
  Sea level rise threatens the structural integrity and longevity of 
our roads and bridges. Delaware is the lowest lying State in America, 
and seas are rising. That is not a good combination.
  The challenges are great, but here is the good news: so are the 
opportunities. The challenges are great, but so are the opportunities.
  Today, I am supporting the nomination of Ms. Nason because I believe 
the key to success at any organization--any organization I have ever 
been a part of--is its leadership--the Navy, the State of Delaware's 
Governor, and here. Right now, the Federal Highway Administration needs 
a top leader, and I believe that in Ms. Nason, they will have one. I 
hope--more than just hope, I believe she is going to prove to be a 
partner with Congress and work with us to address some of the many 
challenges I have laid out and the many challenges before us in the 
months and years ahead. I call on all of our colleagues--Democratic, 
Republican, and a couple of Independents--to rise up later today when 
the vote is taken and vote in favor of her nomination.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for both sides to 
yield back all remaining time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Nason 
nomination?
  Mrs. FISCHER. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Kansas (Mr. Moran) and the Senator from Alaska (Mr. Sullivan).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Kansas (Mr. Moran) 
would have voted ``yea.''
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Booker) 
and the Senator from Michigan (Ms. Stabenow) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 95, nays 1, as follows:

[[Page S2079]]

  


                       [Rollcall Vote No. 54 Ex.]

                                YEAS--95

     Alexander
     Baldwin
     Barrasso
     Bennet
     Blackburn
     Blumenthal
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Braun
     Brown
     Burr
     Cantwell
     Capito
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Cassidy
     Collins
     Coons
     Cornyn
     Cortez Masto
     Cotton
     Cramer
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Feinstein
     Fischer
     Gardner
     Gillibrand
     Graham
     Grassley
     Harris
     Hassan
     Hawley
     Heinrich
     Hirono
     Hoeven
     Hyde-Smith
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     Jones
     Kaine
     Kennedy
     King
     Klobuchar
     Lankford
     Leahy
     Lee
     Manchin
     Markey
     McConnell
     McSally
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Murkowski
     Murphy
     Murray
     Paul
     Perdue
     Peters
     Portman
     Reed
     Risch
     Roberts
     Romney
     Rosen
     Rounds
     Rubio
     Sasse
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)
     Shaheen
     Shelby
     Sinema
     Smith
     Tester
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wicker
     Wyden
     Young

                                NAYS--1

       
     Sanders
       

                             NOT VOTING--4

     Booker
     Moran
     Stabenow
     Sullivan
  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to 
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the 
President will be immediately notified of the Senate's actions.

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