News Center

Friday, September 13, 2019

Back to work

Dear friends,

This week, the Senate reconvened after a month-long state work period. During this time while I was home in Georgia, after much consultation with family and my doctors, I made the very tough decision to leave the U.S. Senate at the end of this year. I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff. It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term, but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state and for all of you.

I informed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp that I will resign my Senate seat effective Dec. 31, 2019. I appreciate the outpouring of support I’ve received, and my family, our staff and I thank everyone who has lifted us up in prayer.

I was happy to return to Washington for a busy and productive week, and I look forward to continuing to represent Georgians over the next few months just as I have during my nearly 45 years in public service to our state.

Delivering relief to Georgia’s farmers

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Senator David Perdue, Governor Brian Kemp, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and I announced that agricultural producers affected by Hurricane Michael or other natural disasters in 2018 and 2019 can officially apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus.

I am very pleased to see the funding we fought for begin to make its way to Georgia’s farmers and producers who have been hurting from the effects of Hurricane Michael and other natural disasters. I thank President Trump and Secretary Perdue, and I encourage farmers eligible for disaster aid to apply for this needed assistance. I remain committed to doing all I can to assist them as they work to recover from multiple natural disasters in recent years.

For more information, please contact your local USDA service center or visit farmers.gov/recover.

Leadership for our veterans

The Senate voted to confirm James Byrne to be deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Wednesday. As the VA continues to implement significant reforms over the next several months, it is going to be crucial for the department’s leaders to ensure it is operating effectively, efficiently and in the best interest of our veterans. I look forward to working with Mr. Byrne as we continue to transform the VA into a department worthy of our veterans.

Filling Georgia’s court vacancies

Also on Wednesday, Steven D. Grimberg of Atlanta was confirmed by the Senate to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta. Grimberg has a distinguished record of upholding the law, and his deep knowledge of economic crimes and cybersecurity threats will serve him well on the federal bench. I thank him for his past service and his continued willingness to serve.

In Other News

  • The North Atlantic right whale is the official Georgia state marine mammal, and Georgia’s coast is still home to one of the few known calving grounds for this magnificent animal. The right whale is unfortunately now one of the most endangered of all large whales. I was the Republican minority leader in the Georgia State House in 1985 when the North Atlantic right whale was named our state marine mammal, and this week, I was glad to introduce the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered Right Whales Act to help learn more about how we can better protect this important animal whose numbers continue to dwindle.
  • This week, it was announced that Phoenix Air Group, Inc., headquartered in Cartersville, Georgia, was awarded a 10-year contract by the U.S. Department of State to provide air ambulance services, and air passenger services for U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. Phoenix Air has been a strong partner for the U.S. government and has proven its reliability time and again. Ensuring the safety and security of Americans abroad is a top priority, and I am pleased and proud that Phoenix Air has earned this contract to continue serving our officials abroad.
  • On Thursday, I introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize a trade law that has benefited the United States and 23 countries in the Caribbean basin for nearly 20 years. The Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act not only aids Georgia and American cotton growers, textile producers and U.S. trade in general, but also is beneficial to our regional allies.
  • The Senate passed the bipartisan Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2019 this week to increase veterans’ disability benefits from the VA. We’re working every day to ensure veterans and their families receive the benefits they earned while serving our country. This important measure will increase VA disability compensation, dependency compensation for surviving children and spouses, and veterans’ clothing allowance based on rising costs of living. The legislation passed the House in May, and I look forward to the president signing it into law soon.
  • Our office also welcomed Margaret Hart of Alpharetta, Georgia, to Washington, D.C., to participate in the U.S. Senate Page Program for the fall session. Margaret Hart is a four-time Georgia State Senate page, and she has seen our state’s legislative process firsthand. I look forward to having her represent our office this fall while gaining experience in the federal government.

What’s On Tap?

Now that spending levels have been agreed upon in the July budget deal, the Senate is working on all 12 appropriations bills to fund the government during fiscal year 2020.

Sincerely,