News Center

Dear Friends,

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I made it a personal commitment to make sure the Department of Veterans Affairs rises to meet the challenge of implementing necessary reforms on behalf of all of America’s veterans. In late April, I made a trip with the committee to host a field hearing regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs construction of a new medical center in Denver, Colo. The cost of the facility has climbed to $1.7 billion, which is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and makes this project the most expensive hospital construction in the VA’s history.

The committee made it very clear at the April 24, 2015, hearing that we expected a full report from the VA about its plans to address the unacceptable surge in costs, delays and mismanagement of the construction at the replacement Denver VA Medical Center. Because of a near complete and total lack of focus on the project at the highest levels of VA and the department’s disregard for congressional oversight, the future of the Denver replacement hospital is unclear.

Instead of putting forth a realistic plan for covering the enormous cost overruns in Denver by finding efficiencies in its existing budget and eliminating waste, VA has essentially demanded that taxpayers subsidize the department’s incompetence with an $830 million bailout. Incredibly, VA is asking for this bailout in the absence of any accountability whatsoever for the problems in Denver while just today the public learned the department is improperly spending as much as $6 billion on procurements per year.

Congress will not tolerate any more empty VA promises. So if the department is serious about getting the Denver project back on track, it needs to show us rather than tell us. I issued a statement along with U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Calif., who serves as chair of the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee yesterday. To read the entire statement, click here

Fighting Obama’s Unilateral Immigration Amnesty
This week, I continued my fight against the president’s unilateral amnesty actions. I joined my colleagues in the U.S. House and Senate to file an amicus brief with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Georgia and 25 other states, arguing that President Obama’s unilateral, deferred-action programs for illegal immigrants are unconstitutional. The amicus brief was filed in the case of Texas v. United States. Oral arguments were heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on April 17, 2015.

The U.S. District Court in Texas said in February that President Obama’s action on immigration is illegal. Any attempt to circumvent Congress and grant amnesty to millions in this country illegally is unacceptable and unconstitutional. 

Reigning in the EPA
This week, I co-sponsored the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. The Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act will ensure reliable and affordable energy, put jobs and the economy first and curb federal overreach. For more information about this legislation, click here

Providing Quality Care for our Veterans
At a Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing on Tuesday, I expressed my desire to have a partnership between the private sector and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in its implementation of the Veterans Choice Act. If private contractors and the agency can’t work together seamlessly, the Veterans Choice Program will never work.

Also, I questioned Sloan Gibson, deputy secretary of the VA, about what the VA is doing to ensure that each VA Medical Center has implemented the program correctly, and I shared concerns that the culture in lower levels of the Veterans Health Administration does not support health care choices for veterans.

The entire hearing is available to view here

Truck Rule Would Save Lives
On Thursday, Sen. David Perdue and I called on the Obama administration to act expeditiously to adopt a long-overdue and much-needed safety measure that would require large trucks to have speed limit devices to cap maximum speeds to a predetermined mileage-per-hour. This proposed mandate has the ability to greatly reduce the number of accidents caused by speeding trucks that often result in serious injury or death.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, we voiced serious concerns over the numerous negligent delays that have occurred since 2011 on issuance of the Department of Transportation’s long-overdue rule to mandate electronic speed limiting devices on the country’s heaviest trucks. Had this life-saving measure already been enacted as promised more than six years ago, it could have prevented the deaths of five young nursing students who were run over by a tractor-trailer truck while traveling on Interstate 16 between Statesboro and Savannah, Ga., on April 22, 2015. This is an issue I have been pressing with the U.S. Department of Transportation for some time, and it is time for full implementation. 

Helping Americans Prepare for Retirement
On Wednesday, I introduced the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, S. 267, to help Americans plan in advance to help ensure they do not outlive their retirement savings.

This legislation would help provide Americans annual statements with their projected monthly income based on the current balance of their 401(k). This information not only helps Americans to plan, but also helps them to save more during their working years. 

Georgia News
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting one of my favorite annual events, Military Academy Day, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga. More than 1,200 Georgians attended this special opportunity to learn about attending our nation’s service academies.

I also spoke at a summit on Monday in Atlanta with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., about ending the scourge of human trafficking. In April, the Senate passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act by a vote of 99-0.

I was also delighted to greet students and families from across Georgia in my Washington, D.C., office this week. Any time you are in our nation’s capital, please stop by our office for home state products. We’ll treat you to Georgia peanuts and refreshing beverages straight from Georgia! If you’re planning a visit, be sure to check out some helpful visitor information on my website.

What’s on Tap?

Next week, the Senate will continue debate on trade agreements. 

Johnny Isakson