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Senator Stevens Named Chairman of the Senate Commerce,
Science, and Transportation Committee;
Will Continue to Serve as Senate President Pro Tempore
and on Appropriations and other Committees


January 06, 2005

Senator Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, was elected Wednesday by the Senate Republican Conference as the next Chairman of the Committee. (The full Senate is expected to act today to officially appoint Committee Chairmen and organize for the 109th Congress.)  Stevens has been a member of the Senate Commerce Committee since 1971 (with the exception of two years when he served on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee). During his tenure on the Committee, Stevens has served as the Chairman or Ranking Member of the Oceans and Atmosphere Subcommittee, the Aviation Subcommittee, the Merchant Marine Subcommittee, the National Ocean Policy Study Group, and the Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries.

Republican Conference term limits required that Stevens step down as Appropriations Committee Chairman. He will continue to serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee and will retain his Chairmanship of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

He will also keep his seats on the Governmental Affairs Committee (recently renamed the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee), and the Rules Committee. In addition, Senator Stevens will continue to serve as President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate.

During his 32-year tenure on the Commerce Committee, Stevens has seen many of the bills he has authored or been actively involved in, which are under the Commerce Committee's jurisdiction, enacted into law. Listed below are just a few of the Commerce Committee-related legislative initiatives Senator Stevens has championed:

The Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act phased out foreign fishing in U.S. waters, created the 200-mile limit, and created Regional Fishery Advisory Councils to better determine fishery management practices on eight coastal regions across the country. Stevens, one of the primary authors of the Act, had been asked to monitor Law of the Sea negotiations in 1969 and discussions held at that time formed the basis for the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Later Stevens' amendments to the Act required bycatch and waste reduction for fisheries, and required Regional Fishery Management Councils to implement fishery management plans for all fisheries.

The High Seas Driftnet Fisheries Enforcement Act banned the use, in American waters, of monofilament driftnets, which indiscriminately catch seals, sea otters, diving ducks, and other sea creatures in addition to fish. Stevens, as the primary sponsor of this legislation, also worked with the Secretary of State to convince the United Nations to adopt a worldwide ban on the use of driftnets.

Stevens also sponsored the American Fisheries Act, which increased the U.S. ownership/control requirements for U.S. flag vessels in the fishing industry to 75 percent, prohibited large new vessels from entering a fishery, and reduced the number of large factory trawlers operating in the Bering Sea.

The Sustainable Fisheries Act amended the Magnuson-Stevens Act to minimize bycatch and the mortality of bycatch. It required the Regional Fishery Management Councils to specify in fishery management plans when a fishery is overfished and to include measures to rebuild any overfished fishery. The Act also aimed to reduce fishing capacity by authorizing the Secretary of Commerce to implement a vessel or permit buyout program if steps have been taken to ensure that vessels or permits are removed permanently and if the program is needed for conservation and management. Stevens was one of the primary authors of this Act.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act established a moratorium, with certain exceptions, on the taking of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and on the importing of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the United States. Subsequent amendments prohibited the intentional killing of marine mammals by commercial fishermen and required commercial fisheries to reach incidental mortality levels. Stevens worked toward passage of this Act and authored Section 119 which allows Alaska Natives to harvest marine mammals for traditional subsistence purposes. This provision has allowed Alaska Natives to continue a tradition dating back thousands of years.

Legislation authored by Stevens (the Prince William Sound Oil Tanker Recovery Navigation Safety Act) was incorporated into what became the Oil Pollution Act, of which he was a cosponsor. This Act required that all new tankers be equipped with double hulls and that existing single hull tankers be phased out by the year 2010 (a provision authored by Stevens); raised the liability limits from $150 per gross ton to $1,200 per gross ton; established a $1 billion fund to compensate victims, pay for cleanup and restore damaged resources; required contingency plans for all vessels and facilities; required the renewal of mariners' licenses every five years and permits the Coast Guard to suspend or revoke the license of any person convicted of drunken or reckless driving.

Senator Stevens has also been heavily involved in legislation affecting the U.S. Coast Guard including work on several reauthorization bills. He has championed quality-of-life issues, such as improved housing and child care services, for Coast Guard families. Most recently, during the consideration of legislation establishing the Department of Homeland Security, he fought to preserve the Coast Guard's traditional and essential non-homeland security missions, such as search and rescue, fisheries enforcement, aids to navigation, maritime boundary patrols, ice operations, and marine environmental protection.

Senator Stevens helped negotiate the Maritime Security Act, which established a Maritime Security Program to help sustain a privately owned, U.S.-flag and U.S.-crewed vessel presence in foreign commerce and to provide sealift capability in time of war or national emergency.

The Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, which Senator Stevens cosponsored, deregulated shipping in the United States and significantly reduced and consolidated federal water, rail, and trucking regulatory functions.

Senator Stevens, himself a pilot, has long been involved in aviation issues and in Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bills. Representing the state with the highest number of pilots per capita, he is a strong proponent of pilot safety programs, including Safe Flight 21; the Essential Air Service program, which guarantees that small communities that were served by certificated air carriers before deregulation maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service; and the Airport Improvement Program, which provides grants to improve the safety and security of airports, through such projects as runway lighting, taxiways, security fences, firefighting and snow mobile vehicles.

Senator Stevens was the first Senator to circulate draft legislation to address the losses suffered by airlines in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. This draft was the basis for what became the Airline Stabilization Act. It authorized $5 billion in direct cash payments to carriers who combined lost about $300 million per day immediately following the attacks on our country. It also created an oversight board to oversee an additional $10 billion in loan guarantees for travelers.

The Spectrum Auction bill (Emerging Telecommunications Technologies Act) directed the Federal Communications Commission to auction portions of the electromagnetic spectrum needed to provide telecommunications services. Previously spectrum was given away by lottery. This legislation has generated billions of dollars since its inception. This legislation represents a compromise worked out by Senators Stevens and Inouye, the authors of bill.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is the most sweeping reform of telecommunications law since the passage of the original 1934 Communications Act. Stevens was one of the sponsors and negotiators on this bill, which increased regulatory forbearance and deregulation of cable and broadcast media. The Act also protected universal service, provided a mechanism for competition in areas receiving universal service support, and preserved geographic rate averaging and rate integration.

The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, authored by Stevens, provided the structure for the modern United States Olympic Committee (USOC), strengthened protections for U.S. athletes so that they cannot be unfairly denied the opportunity to compete, and established the USOC as the coordinating body for U.S. amateur athletic competition directly related to international competition.

Title IX (Equality in Sports) requires that schools, universities and colleges receiving federal funds offer equivalent opportunities for men and women in all areas of education, including athletics. The Act has dramatically increased the participation of women and girls in athletics in this nation. Stevens has been a long-time proponent of equality in sports and is considered one of the fathers of Title IX due to his steadfast support and continued commitment to ensuring that efforts to erode the Title are defeated.

In recognition of his dedication to fisheries, amateur sports, the Coast Guard, as well as maritime, tourism and communications issues, among others, Stevens has been honored with several awards, including the International Olympic Committee=s Olympic Order; the U.S. Olympic Committee's Olympic Flame; the Salt Lake Organizing Committee=s Order of Excellence; the Women's Sports Foundation's Contribution Award; P.E.4Life's Chairman's Award; the National Fisheries Institute's Legislator of the Year Award; the Northwest Fisheries Association Person of the Year Award; the American Oceanic Organization's Neptune Award; the United Seamen's Service's Admiral of the Ocean Seas Award; the Coast Guard's Ellsworth P. Bertholf Award; the American Shipbuilding Association's Herbert H. Bateman Award; the Propeller Club's Salute to Congress Award; the Science Coalition's Champion of Science Award;  the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Ralph Lowell Medal, the National Association of Broadcaster's Legislative Leadership Award; the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association's Lifetime Achievement Award; the Television & Radio Policy Education Committee's Grover C. Cobb Memorial Award; the Independent Television Service's National Award of Appreciation; the States Distance Learning Association's Eagle Award; and the Travel Business Roundtable's Leadership in Tourism Award.

In 2004 the University of Alaska established the Ted Stevens Distinguished Chair in Marine Policy, which is endowed by the Pollock Conservation Cooperative. In addition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) honored Senator Stevens' work on fisheries issues by naming their new Fisheries Science Center in Juneau "The Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute" at the center's groundbreaking in October 2004.


Source of News:

Office of Senator Ted Stevens
Web Site



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