News Center

Dear Friends,

Our great state of Georgia received long-awaited good news this week, with the funding of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Not only did the budget request include $29.7 million for the Savannah harbor, the budget lists the project for the first time as an ongoing construction project in order to keep this vital economic infrastructure project on track for future federal funding. The Army Corps of Engineers has also indicated that it is also working to secure an additional $21 million dedicated to the Savannah project in the Corps’ budget for this year’s FY15 budget. This is a victory for our state and will result in creating jobs and growing our state’s economy. This project has been a top priority of mine since joining the Senate in 2005, and I am thrilled that it will finally be underway. It is the result of bipartisan support from Georgia’s local, state and federal leaders.

More information on the Savannah Harbor Expansion project is available here.

On Tuesday, I co-sponsored legislation to fully repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act collectively known as Obamcare. The Obamacare Repeal Act, S.336, would fully repeal Obamacare and allow Congress and the states six months to develop and vote on new patient-centered health care reform.

Since the day that Obamacare was signed into law, I have worked to repeal it because of its terrible consequences for America’s families and small businesses. This entire law is fundamentally flawed and must be taken out root and branch. We need commonsense solutions that improve the cost and quality of health care through competition and choice, rather than imposing job-killing taxes, mandates, and penalties on the American people. 

Clay Hunt Act
This week, in a 99-0 vote, the Senate passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. The Clay Hunt Act was the first priority for the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and I am pleased that the senate acted quickly on this urgent legislation.

The bill provides for better access to information on mental health by improving the exchange of training, best practices and other resources among the Veterans’ Affairs and non-profit mental health organizations to enhance collaboration of suicide prevention efforts, as well as including a new website that offers veterans information on mental health care services. It creates a pilot program of loan repayment for Veterans’ Affairs psychiatrists.

The Clay Hunt SAV Act also creates a community outreach pilot program to help veterans transition from active duty service and extends the ability for certain combat veterans to enroll in the Veterans Health Administration for one year.

Visit to VA Headquarters
I also made good on a promise this week to visit the Department of Veterans Affairs Headquarters and to learn more about how the department is serving our nation’s veterans. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., along with Representatives Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Corrine Brown, D-Fla., accompanied me on the visit. We were briefed on access to care by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald and Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. Additional senior Veterans Affairs leaders provided an update on ongoing efforts to accelerate access to care and deliver real-time, data-driven updates from staff.  We also held a town hall meeting with VA employees that was very informative.

Balanced Budget
Congress received a proposed budget from President Obama this week that taxes too much, spends too much and borrows too much. Even with $2.1 trillion in new taxes, the president’s budget still does not balance. Instead, the plan increases the debt by $8.5 trillion.

It is reckless and irresponsible to continue this unsustainable path. That’s why I am committed to working to pass legislation to curb federal spending and to demand more accountability from programs that receive federal dollars. This week I joined 54 of my Republican Senate colleagues to introduce a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution in order to reign in government spending and reduce the nation’s debt. The federal government will not stop mortgaging away our children’s futures until they are forced to do so.

The legislation requires the president to submit a balanced budget each year, a requirement to balance the budget, an 18 percent spending cap and a supermajority of votes for tax increases.

Homeland Security
On Wednesday, I took to the Senate floor to encourage my Congressional colleagues to get off the sidelines, secure the border and once again be a government of check and balances. Senate Democrats are holding up debate on the House-passed Department of Homeland Security funding measure this week. I told Senate Democrats that it is time to end their filibuster and allow this measure to be debated in the interest of national security. Unfortunately, Democrats repeatedly prevented the Senate from beginning debate on one of the most important issues facing our country.

It is time to hold the president accountable for his lawless executive amnesty and to provide funding for the Department of Homeland Security that is set to expire at the end of this month. The number-one issue for me when we debated the Homeland Security bill in 2007, was to put in a trigger to ensure that no changes in immigration law took place until we first secured the border. The border is still not secure.

Read more here.

What’s on Tap?

Next week, the Senate is expected to consider Defense Secretary Nominee Ashton B. Carter.

Johnny Isakson