News Center

Dear Friends,

This week, the Senate debated legislation to help bring an end to modern-day slavery and human trafficking and to protect the victims of this heinous crime. I urged my colleagues to vote in favor of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 because U.S. leadership is essential for this movement to grow. This piece of legislation will improve law enforcement’s ability to prosecute sex trafficking offenders and require offenders to pay a fine. These fines will be used to establish a fund to raise money for the victims as well as to help fund private, municipal and state efforts to establish anti-trafficking law enforcement units and task forces, and a Computer Forensics Unit and a Child Exploitation Investigations Unit within the Cyber Crimes Center. 

Modern-day slavery in all its forms must be stopped, and I hope the Senate will act quickly to pass this important legislation. 

Fighting for our Second Amendment Rights
I am committed to protecting our Second Amendment rights. Therefore when the Obama administration proposed a regulation that would effectively ban certain ammunition used in AR-15-style rifles and other firearms, I signed on to a letter demanding they withdraw this unconstitutional proposal.

The letter states, “Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms but to bullets. If law-abiding gun owners cannot obtain rifle ammunition, or face substantial difficulty in finding ammunition available and at reasonable process because government entities are banning such ammunition, then the Second Amendment is at risk.” Fortunately, the administration got our message and has abandoned this ill-conceived plan. 

IRS and Executive Amnesty
The president’s action last year to grant amnesty to millions here illegally also opened the door for those individuals to be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps low- to moderate-income American workers. On Tuesday, I co-sponsored legislation to prevent these millions of individuals benefitting from the president’s 2014 executive amnesty action from collecting this tax credit based on work performed while in this country illegally. It is incomprehensible and unacceptable to reward these individuals for coming to our country illegally.

I will continue to do all that I can to stop this executive immigration overreach and will fight to prevent the IRS from doling out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to those who broke our immigration laws. 

Time for Answers from Colorado VA Hospital
This week, I sent a letter to Veterans Affairs’ Secretary Robert McDonald asking him to address the ongoing problems that have plagued construction of a replacement for the Denver VA Medical Center hospital, including mismanagement that has led to hundreds of millions in cost overruns and repeated delays.

It is crucial that we hold Secretary McDonald accountable about his plans to address these issues surrounding the construction cost overruns and serious schedule delays at the Denver VA Medical Center. We must ensure the veterans of Colorado are provided for, and completion of the project is critical in providing necessary care and support.

It is my intention to make Denver one of the next in a series of VA site visits and field hearings conducted by the Senate VA committee. 

Stronger Commitment to Defeat ISIL
On Wednesday, I questioned Secretary of State John Kerry about the use of military force to degrade and destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, or ISIL, and its affiliates.

I also raised concern over the president’s proposed time limitation, or three-year “sunset” provision, on U.S. military engagement that was included in the authorization the president sent to Congress last month. We should be sending a clear signal that America has no intention of surrendering our fight against ISIL until we win the victory. 

Iran Nuclear Capabilities
Last week I attended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress, where I listened as one of our nation’s closest allies discussed the critical and mutually important goal of stopping Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to Israel and a threat to the United States as well. We should not relax sanctions against Iran until Iran ends its efforts to obtain these weapons.

This week I also joined my Senate colleagues in sending a cautionary warning to Iranian leaders that any nuclear deal not approved by the Senate may be revoked when a new president is elected. I respect the office of the president and the responsibility he has to negotiate with Iran on behalf of the entire country. However, I worry about this president’s foreign policy. It’s a dangerous situation when we have an administration that appears to be nearing such a critically important deal with Iran without providing Congress with any information or opportunity for input. 

Student Loans and College Costs
Georgia Tech students and guests listened to President Obama on Tuesday during his visit to campus to discuss the investment of higher education. Higher education is vitally important, but the cost has become burdensome on both students and colleges.

To help our students, I have co-sponsored FAST Act, this bill would reduce the number of questions some 20 million Americans must answer to apply for federal financial aid down to a single postcard—called the “Student Aid Short Form” –and high school students would be informed in their junior year the amount of federal aid for which they are eligible. It also addresses the problem of some students taking on too much debt by limiting the amount a student can borrow based on enrollment.

I am also a co-sponsor of the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, S.599, which would repeal burdensome and unnecessary regulations that have been enacted over the last six years that restrict choice and increase costs in higher education. This legislation would help prevent future federal overreach in postsecondary education. 

Georgia Students at U.S. Senate Youth Program
It was exciting to meet Georgia’s student delegates, Kylon Harris of Americus, Ga., and Jacob Pierce, of Atlanta, Ga., when I spoke to the 53rd annual United States Senate Youth Program Wednesday evening. I am delighted that I had the opportunity to co-chair this program. 

What’s on Tap

Next week, the Senate will continue consideration of the anti-human-trafficking measure, S.178. Also, the Senate will consider Carlos A. Monje, Jr., of Louisiana, to be an assistant secretary of Transportation and Manson K. Brown, of the District of Columbia, to be an assistant secretary of Commerce. 

Sincerely,
Johnny Isakson