April 26, 2006

Good Morning. Today we will consider the President’s nominees for three vital positions within the Administration, including the head of the Federal Highway Administration and two Assistant Administrator positions at EPA:

General Richard Capka, has been nominated to be the Administrator of the Federal Highway Adminstration. Rick Capka is a very good choice to head the FHWA. He is a career engineer, beginning his career at the Army Corps of Engineers after he graduating from West Point. After 29 years of military service for our country, he retired as a Brigadier General. He then went over to the Massachusetts Toll Authority before being tapped as serve this country again as the Deputy Administrator of FHWA.

Jim Gulliford has been nominated to head the EPA Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. Since 2001, Mr. Gulliford has been based in Kansas City as EPA’s Regional Administrator for Region 7. As Regional Administrator, Mr. Gulliford is the chief for all technical and administrative operations of the EPA in Region 7 - comprising the states of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. Prior to joining EPA, Mr. Gulliford was the Director for Iowa’s Department of Soil Conservation.

And lastly, Bill Wehrum, who has been nominated to head the EPA Office of Air and Radiation. Mr. Wehrum is the current Acting Assistant Administrator to this office. Prior to him assuming the Acting role, he was served in EPA as both Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator and Counsel to the Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation. Mr. Wehrum has come under continual attacks from the extremist environmental groups because of his good work at EPA. Now that, in and of itself, is enough for me to support his nomination, but his record also stands up to any non-partisan scrutiny. The bottom line is that the air is cleaner because of this Administration’s policies.

While at EPA, Mr. Wehrum worked to help craft legislation designed to reduce power plant pollution by 70% - the most dramatic reduction in power plant emissions ever proposed. When the legislation was blocked by Democrats over an unrelated issue, he helped craft a collection of Clean Air rules to accomplish as much of the reductions as allowed under the current Clean Air Act. Together, these rules will dramatically reduce pollution from older, dirtier power plants. One of these rules represents the first time ever that mercury emissions have been regulated. In addition, Mr. Wehrum helped craft the diesel rules now going into effect, which will virtually eliminate sulfur emissions from diesel engines, cutting emissions by 97%. These rules will not only make the black soot coming out of buses and trucks a thing of the past, it will do the same thing for construction and other off-road equipment. The bottom line is that the air is cleaner because of Bill Wehrum. I urge the Committee to support all three nominees.

Today, we will also be voting on a change of the Committee rules with regard to the naming of public buildings and facilities - Rule 7 D. This proposal is intended as an opportunity to allow a frank, open, and non-partisan discussion of the possibility of allowing the naming of public buildings after judges over age 70 who are still living and are either serving on the bench – in “senior” status – or retired. Needless to say, the adoption of this proposed amendment to the rule would not mean that every naming proposal would have to be granted. I would certainly consider each naming proposal individually, based on a number of criteria. It doubtless occurs to every member of this Committee the implications of a judge presiding in a courthouse named after him- or herself. I look forward to an honest discussion of this important subject.