Rosen Transcript Following Hearing on Nomination of Gina Raimondo to Lead the Department of Commerce

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) questioned Governor Gina Raimondo, President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Commerce, about repealing solar tariffs, supporting Nevada’s entertainment industry, and promoting cybersecurity jobs and workforce training. A transcript of the Senator’s full exchange can be found below, and a video of the Senator’s full exchange can be found here.

ROSEN: Governor Raimondo, thank you for being with us today and for your commitment to serving our nation. I appreciated our productive meeting and look forward to learning more about your plans to revive our nation’s economy, create jobs, and ensure that every American has access to broadband, no matter where they live. Amidst a global pandemic that has devastated our economy, I urge this committee to facilitate a swift confirmation for Governor Raimondo so she can immediately get to work for our country

The solar industry employs 7,000 workers in Nevada, the most solar jobs per capita in the entire country. If we are to address the climate crisis and continue creating good-paying jobs in the energy sector, we must have federal policy that promotes the affordable deployment of solar projects. Unfortunately, the previous administration imposed costly Section 201 tariffs on imported solar panels and cells. These misguided tariffs have cost us an estimated 62,000 solar jobs across the US. In October, the Trump administration doubled down on this failed policy and directed the United States Trade representative to increase the tariffs for 2021. The right move for the economy and the environment would be for President Biden to rescind this ill-conceived proclamation before it takes effect on February 7th.

Given the extremely small solar manufacturing industry in the US and the fact that nearly 90% of solar jobs in the US are non-manufacturing jobs that rely on affordable solar panels, do you support the current tariffs on imported solar panels? And will you work with me to address this pressing and time-sensitive issue?

RAIMONDO: Thank you, Senator. I understand from talking to you and your governor how important these solar jobs are in your state. I look forward to learning more about it. Of course, I will work with you. I understand this is time-sensitive and challenging, and a lot of jobs are at stake.

ROSEN: I appreciate that. Usually, we have nothing but sunshine in Nevada, but I hear today it is snowing on the Las Vegas Strip. But, We’ll have sunshine coming back soon. Speaking of the Las Vegas Strip, I want to talk about reviving our entertainment economy. In Nevada, while our economy continues to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic, we are still facing one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Nearly half a million jobs are a part of Nevada’s entertainment and tourism ecosystem. Unfortunately, our once vibrant creative arts community is now struggling to stay afloat. Performers and support staff have seen their work come to a complete halt as venues are unable to open their doors during the pandemic. I know this is happening across the country. Theatres, television, film, sports events, all these productions have shut down in an abundance of caution.

As we work to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity, what are your plans to specifically help the creative industries stay afloat and get back to work?

RAIMONDO: I hear you about Las Vegas, you mentioned it the other day. My state also depends heavily on tourism and hospitality, so I see it. I expect to play a real leadership role with Brand USA, and work with you and the industry, and collaborate to find creative ways to get folks traveling again, going out to dinner, and the like.  And I support President Biden fully in his reinvigorated approach to get COVID under control, which gives people confidence to go out and travel.

ROSEN: Thank you. My last question I think I’ll have time for is about NIST and the cybersecurity workforce. The Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST, plays an important role in supporting technological innovation and, of course, our STEM workforce. In particular, and I like this acronym, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, or NICE, housed within NIST, focuses on cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development. According to NICE’s jobs heat map, there are currently over 520,000 cyber job openings in the U.S.

So, in the interest of time, I have a few bills out there — Cyber Ready Workforce [Act], Junior ROTC Cybersecurity Workforce [Act], we’re working on all of this.

What are your goals for supporting the cybersecurity workforce? There are half a million jobs open, and probably more needs to be created. We know we’ve got lots more needs. Let’s get folks into these jobs.

RAIMONDO: I could not agree more. I will work with you on it. I will prioritize it. I have done that as Governor. A big piece of that puzzle is job training, but I agree there are many jobs available and we ought to help Americans get them.

ROSEN: Thank you. I appreciate your willingness to serve.