News Center

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Working together

Dear friends,

On Monday, the Senate passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which is bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to improve the federal government’s response to the opioid epidemic.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 combines more than 70 proposals, three of which I authored, from five Senate committees. The legislation takes a multi-pronged approach to address the opioid crisis through prevention, treatment and recovery, support for caregivers and families, safety, medical research, and improved border security measures, in addition to tackling the crisis through the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The opioid crisis has touched my own family just as it has affected so many other Georgia families, veterans and businesses. President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national health emergency last year, and after months of work, I’m proud that the Senate has passed such a comprehensive measure to fight the opioid crisis in Georgia and across the country. We must all work together to tackle this crisis.

Senate Passes Second Government Funding Bill

On Tuesday, the Senate passed legislation to fund the government and provide critical investments in the areas of defense, education, health, human services and labor. The final measure included my amendments to fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Neurological Conditions Surveillance System and to address dangerous lead levels on military bases.

The legislation also provides short-term funding through Dec. 7 for the additional parts of the federal government that have not yet been funded. Work continues on the remaining annual appropriations bills, including the four-bill package approved by the Senate on Aug. 1 to fund agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, and Interior.

This legislation is another step toward completion of the work the Senate began in August to help ensure on-time funding of programs that help more hardworking Georgians and their families succeed. It continues to modernize our military to protect our national security against emerging threats and provides our military families additional support they need. I’m also glad we’re making wise investments in Americans’ futures that will save lives and improve education and training for workers as we adapt for changing medical and workplace conditions.

Continuing Critical Veterans Services and Benefits

Also on Tuesday, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation I introduced to ensure veterans continue to have access to critical programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018 reauthorizes numerous programs and services at the VA for fiscal year 2019, which begins on Oct. 1, 2018. The legislation ensures that many important programs, including veterans homelessness prevention, adaptive sports programs for disabled veterans, and workforce training for injured service members, continue to be available. A number of authorizations included in the bill were set to expire at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, while others were set to expire in 2019.

The Senate has now passed 21 major pieces of veterans’ legislation this Congress, a remarkable achievement and a true testament to our teamwork. By working together, we are truly making progress for our nation’s veterans.

In Other News

  • On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs approved James Gfrerer to be chief information officer (CIO) and assistant secretary of the VA Office of Information and Technology (IT) and Tamara Bonzanto to be assistant secretary of the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. I’m proud to send two accomplished nominees to the full Senate for confirmation. Mr. Gfrerer and Ms. Bonzanto each bring unique experience to their respective positions, and I am confident that they will do well in their future roles. I urge the full Senate to quickly approve these nominees so they can get to work serving our nation’s veterans.

  • On Friday, President Donald Trump signed the first funding bill for fiscal year 2019 into law. The measure includes funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs – including funding for the VA MISSION Act – as well as for energy and water infrastructure, military construction, and other areas. I’m pleased to see the Senate continue its work on government funding on time and through regular order to help ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars.
  • I’m pleased that both the Senate and House have passed bipartisan legislation I’ve worked on with Senator Bob Casey to ensure that children’s hospitals have the support they need to provide adequate medical education for training of pediatricians and other residents. The legislation was signed into law by the president on Tuesday, and our second government funding bill, which also passed on Tuesday, provides the necessary funding for the program. Investment in our pediatric workforce and healthcare facilities is a necessity. I will continue to support this vital program to help ensure our youngest patients are able to receive the quality care they need. 

  • Also this week, the Senate passed the Music Modernization Act to reform music licensing law for the 21st century and create a fairer marketplace for songwriters and other content creators. As technology changes the way we listen to music, our copyright and licensing laws need to change too. The artists, producers and distributers whose work touches our lives and makes our music industry thrive should receive fair compensation. I’m proud to have cosponsored this bill with Senators Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander and joined Congressman Doug Collins and so many others to help our Georgia musicians and this dynamic industry. This bill will now go to the House for final passage.

What’s on Tap?

Next week, the Senate is expected to vote on the nomination of Jackie Wolcott of Virginia to be a U.S. representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency. On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hear from VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on the “State of the VA.”


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