Transportation and Commerce Departments One Step Closer to New Leadership

Transportation and Commerce Departments One Step Closer to New Leadership

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today approved the nominations of Anthony Foxx to be Secretary of Transportation and Penny Pritzker to be Secretary of Commerce.

The votes were unanimous.  Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said both were “excellent nominees” with “strong bipartisan support” and urged his colleagues to quickly schedule a floor vote to confirm them.

Both departments play important roles in space policy.   The Department of Transportation is home to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).   AST facilitates and regulates the commercial space launch business.

The Department of Commerce is the parent of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which operates the nation’s weather satellites and licenses commercial remote sensing satellites, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which oversees federal government use of spectrum.   It also is in charge of exports of dual use items and is working with the State Department in the effort to transition commercial satellites from the State Department’s Munitions List and its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to the Commerce Department’s less strict Commerce Control List.   The Secretary of Commerce position has been vacant for a year.  Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank was serving as acting Secretary, but she recently left the Administration to become Chancellor of the Unviersity of Wisconsin-Madison.

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