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Friday, October 6, 2017

Standing with Las Vegas

Dear Friends,

Like many around the country, I woke up Monday morning to the shocking and heartbreaking news of Sunday night’s attack on innocent lives in Las Vegas. I agree with the president that this horrific shooting was an act of pure evil. Our prayers are with the victims and their families as well as the first responders and medical professionals who worked around the clock to save additional lives.

Press reports of the crime scene in Las Vegas indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. In light of those troubling reports, I’ve asked the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review regulations surrounding the sale of such devices, and bump stocks specifically, that allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles. 

As additional facts come to light regarding the tragedy that took place in Las Vegas, I will thoughtfully consider what legislative or administrative action may be appropriate.

Tax Reform

Last week, our Senate leadership unveiled a tax reform framework that is a starting point for the Senate Finance Committee’s efforts to provide more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks for the American people.

This proposal is the result of years of work by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance to overhaul the U.S. tax code, boost our economy and provide meaningful tax relief for middle-class Americans. 

By simplifying our broken tax code and leveling the playing field for American businesses and workers, we can help strengthen America’s standing in the global marketplace, increase domestic economic growth, create more jobs with higher wages and provide tax relief for hardworking Georgians.

On Wednesday, I spoke on the floor of the Senate to outline a few of the reasons I support the tax reform efforts that are currently underway in Congress. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I look forward to taking an active role in this overhaul as we work together to enact comprehensive tax reform for the good of our nation.

Children’s Health Insurance Program and Hospital Payments

The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance passed legislation I cosponsored to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, for five years. The bipartisan Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure Act, S.1827, which passed the committee on Wednesday, also transitions CHIP to its traditional federal-state partnership over time and provides additional protections for low-income children and flexibility for states. 

I used the hearing to reiterate my commitment to ensuring payments to safety-net hospitals are extended before the end of the year. Our Georgia hospitals will be badly hurt if payments to disproportionate-share hospitals that treat uninsured patients in our state are reduced. Under the current Affordable Care Act law, payments to safety-net hospitals are now eligible to be cut unless Congress acts to keep the payments at current levels.

Education

It was an exciting week for education in Georgia! U.S. Senator David Perdue, R-Ga., and I honored nine Georgia schools, ranging from elementary to high school, that received a National Blue Ribbon School designation by the U.S. Department of Education.

The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

These outstanding schools are going above and beyond for Georgia students, and I encourage them to keep up the good work as they serve as guideposts for exceptional achievement.

I also had the honor of hosting five outstanding Georgia students in Washington to commemorate their participation in the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) scholarship program.

It was a privilege to welcome Demetriyah Lane, Jhoana Peralta, Isabella Ramirez, Christopher Ramos Diaz and Myracle Washington, all eighth-grade students at Valdosta Early College Academy in Valdosta, Ga., who were selected as REACH scholarship recipients, to our nation’s capital. 

Each of these students has demonstrated a commitment to academic achievement and will have the support they need to ensure future success in their education and career opportunities.

Veterans Affairs Nominations

On Wednesday, I chaired a U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing to consider the qualifications of three nominees to serve in various U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) roles.

The committee considered Melissa Sue Glynn to serve as VA assistant secretary for Enterprise Integration, Cheryl L. Mason to be chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, and Randy Reeves to be VA undersecretary for Memorial Affairs.

If confirmed, I have full confidence that each nominee will use their vast experience to do great work on behalf of our nation’s heroes.

Other News:

What’s on tap?

Next week is a state work period, and I will be in Georgia to hear from you about many of these important issues. When the Senate returns to session on Oct. 16, the Senate will vote on the nomination of Callista Gingrich to be ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See.

Sincerely,

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