Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., interviewed by the press before the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol. ( Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
The retiring chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee gave his farewell speech Thursday on the Senate floor and he mentioned a few science and tech-related items including surveillance overhaul legislation and the federal program that discounts phone and Internet service for schools and libraries, known as E-Rate.
In case you missed it, some quotes on tech and science issues from Sen. Jay Rockefeller‘s, D-W.Va., farewell speech are below.
On surveillance overhaul legislation.
He described it as having “reforms necessary to uphold the mission of protecting our nation.”
Because the global threats we face increase daily as the world becomes more connected, we depend on the highly trained professionals at NSA to zero-in on those threats. There’s really only 22 of them that make sort of final decisions. They’re highly trained. They’ve taken the oath of office to protect our nation.
“Now, I don’t think that we have any excuse to outsource our intelligence works to telecommunications firms,” he said. He added that his work on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation panel showed him what telecommunications companies do “when they think they can get away with it. You know, everything from cramming to just all kinds of not very nice things.”
He said it was the government’s job to address the matter, and that it’s been conducted successfully.
“A lot of people say oh well what if. But the fact of the matter is nobody has ever been able to show me somebody whose privacy has been, you know, influenced or broken into by the NSA,” he said.
On E-Rate (he was among the authors of the program):
“We have worked to give children a fair shot through the E-Rate, a program which introduces even the most rural classrooms and smallest libraries to the world through the Internet.”
On the science and research law known as the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act:
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (who preceded John Thune on the Commerce Committee) Senator Alexander and I sought unanimous consent to get the bill passed because we thought we’d worked out the details pretty well, and do it prior to the recess, therefore we had to do it by unanimous consent. But there were five objections holding the bill still. Instead of retreating to party corners and pointing fingers we compromised right on that center aisle…. And we had ourselves a $44 billion bill over five years on which we agreed. We didn’t have to have a vote. Sen Hutchison, Senator Alexamder tenaciously worked to clear the holds. It was, Madam President, absolutely beautiful. It was just beautiful.”
Rockefeller was greeted with handshakes and hugs from fellow senators after his speech.