News Center

Thursday, June 27, 2019

National Security

Dear friends,

This week, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, S.1790, to strengthen national security in the face of evolving global threats. The measure benefits our all-volunteer force of service members, their families and Georgia’s military installations, including the nearly 90,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the state.

The annual defense legislation builds on last year’s increased investments in readiness, modernization and benefits for our service members. It also creates a sixth military service, the U.S. Space Force, and prohibits the Department of Defense from conducting another Base Realignment and Closure.

The fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act builds on the last year’s pay raise for active duty troops with a 3.1% raise for members of the armed forces for fiscal year 2020. It is a continuation of our promise to protect America as we strengthen our national defense, and it accomplishes the goals the administration set forth to ensure we protect Americans and our ideals.

We are helping our warfighters and their families, investing in the warfare of the future, and fortifying Georgia’s strategic and active role in our national defense. Click here to read more about the benefits of this legislation for Georgia and our national security.

Funding for Humanitarian Crisis at Southern Border

This week, I joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority of colleagues to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and provide humanitarian assistance for migrant families and children. The heartbreaking reports we’ve seen about conditions at border facilities show that there is a moral imperative for Congress to act on the administration’s request for additional humanitarian assistance. Our personnel on the ground are overwhelmed, and this funding gives the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Justice and Defense the resources they need to meet the growing demands caused by the dramatic influx of migrant families arriving at our Southern border.

To permanently solve this crisis, we need to address our broken immigration system starting with securing the border. I am committed to continuing to work toward real solutions to restore credibility to our immigration system.

In Other News

  • I hosted Ivanka Trump, first daughter and advisor to the president, at a bipartisan working coffee on Tuesday to discuss how the administration, Congress and the private sector can improve our joint efforts to strengthen our workforce to help hardworking Americans succeed today and prepare for the future. Workforce development programs are an important part of the equation, and the White House’s renewed push for apprenticeships is a good way to strengthen our workforce and create better paying jobs.

 

  • I had the opportunity to meet this week with the new Georgia Southern University president, Dr. Kyle Marrero, and with Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson, who has announced his retirement. These universities are doing outstanding work for our students and research. The reach their students, faculty and staff, and alumni have is truly global.

 

  • On Wednesday, I voted to advance legislation out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to deliver better health care to Americans at a lower cost. This legislation aims to prevent Americans from receiving a surprise bill for unexpected health care costs, increase transparency so they know what they are paying for ahead of time, and lower the costs of prescription drugs through increased competition. As the bill makes its way to the full Senate, I will continue working to address concerns that many hospitals and physicians have raised about the way the legislation addresses surprise billing to find a solution that best fits the needs of patients and providers.
  • On Thursday, Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., and I introduced bipartisan truck safety legislation to help save lives on our busy roadways. The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019 would require that all new large commercial trucks be equipped with speed limiting-devices set to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour. The maximum speed requirement would also be extended to existing trucks that already have the technology installed. This measure would officially enforce a long-awaited rule and reduce the number of preventable fatalities on our busy roadways. 

 

  • Also this week, I met with U.S. Undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, who is currently serving as the acting U.S. army secretary. McCarthy has been nominated to fill the secretary role permanently, and I was glad to have the opportunity to discuss with him defense priorities, including providing safe housing for military families, and Georgia’s role in our national defense.

 

  • I joined Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I., in introducing bipartisan legislation to require the U.S. Department of Education to automatically forgive federal student loan debt for veterans who are deemed permanently disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It is a commonsense way to make it easier for totally and permanently disabled veterans to receive the student loan relief they deserve, and as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and a member of the committee that oversees education, I hope that we’re able to act quickly on it.
  • As the relief funding that we passed for Georgia and other states recovering from natural disasters is disbursed through federal agencies, I joined members of Georgia’s congressional delegation in writing to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide additional guidance on our recovery needs in Georgia. We offered our assistance and encouraged the department to work with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to ensure that our farmers affected by Hurricane Michael receive needed aid in a timely and effective manner.
  • This week, I spoke with Martha Zoller of WDUN radio about my recent trip to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the one-year anniversary of the VA MISSION Act and the upcoming July Fourth holiday. I always appreciate the opportunity to thank our service members and veterans for their service and sacrifice, and you can listen to our full conversation during a Fourth of July special airing next Friday, July 5, on WDUN radio in Gainesville.

What’s On Tap?

Next week, the Senate will be in a state work period as our nation celebrates Independence Day on July 4. I look forward to being in Georgia and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. May God bless America, and may God bless the service members and veterans who have laid it all on the line to keep our country free.

Sincerely,