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Thursday, May 9, 2019

A busy week in the Senate

Dear friends,

We spent much of this week in the Senate voting to confirm the president’s nominees to positions within the government. The Senate confirmed three nominees to the Export-Import Bank, Janet Dhillon to be a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and two U.S. Circuit Court judges. Confirming judges to our nation’s courts has been a top priority in the Senate, and we have now confirmed more than 100 judges, including judges to two U.S. Circuit Courts and four U.S. District Courts in Georgia. Two more U.S. District Court nominees in Georgia await Senate approval.

Filling Vacancies at the VA

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to sit down with James Byrne, President Trump’s nominee to be deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). During our meeting, we discussed how he plans to work with VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to continue to lead the VA in a positive direction if confirmed as deputy secretary. As the VA continues to implement significant, transformative legislative 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 chairing Mr. Byrne’s confirmation hearing next week.

In Other News

  • On Monday, I began the week by joining the Rotary Club of Atlanta to discuss trade, my recent visit to Iraq, and the need for immigration reforms that begin with securing our borders. Read more here.

  • On Tuesday morning, I spoke to the Society of International Business Fellows at their Washington conference. In addition to discussing my April trip to Iraq, we covered a wide range of topics including trade and other partnerships across the globe that strengthen our security and freedom. On the same day, my op-ed about the trip to Iraq and how that visit reinforced the importance of helping students who want to serve our country by attending a U.S. military service academy was published in the Savannah Morning News. You can read the complete op-ed here.

  • Also on Tuesday, I joined a bipartisan group of senators in reintroducing legislation to provide tax relief for AmeriCorps members who earn Segal Education Awards, which help make college more affordable. The men and women who join AmeriCorps perform a public service, giving their time and talents to help communities across our great country, and I am proud to reintroduce this legislation that will allow them to receive the full value of the college funding provided for their service.
  • On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to ask U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green about global food security and the risk of Ebola at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Georgia has played an active role in global food security by helping promote better health and independence in countries around the world as well as our own national security. In addition, Georgia is home to the Centers for Disease Control and Emory University, which have both been instrumental in combatting the spread of Ebola. You can watch our full exchange here.


  • Also on Wednesday, I reintroduced a bipartisan piece of legislation to provide tax relief for families who have lost a loved one serving in the military. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees tax policy, as well as the chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’m proud to support this legislation to provide full benefits for our Gold Star families.
  • I had the opportunity to talk with Gilbert Howland and Bob Passanisi, two of the last 14 living Merrill’s Marauders, on Wednesday to discuss my ongoing efforts to award the unit with the Congressional Gold Medal. Merrill’s Marauders, officially known as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the unit’s mission, where they fought Japanese forces deep in the mountains and forests of Burma during World War II to secure victory for the United States in Southeast Asia. The Fort Benning, Ga.-based 75th Ranger Regiment traces its history to this unit. My staff joined these two brave men for a wreath laying at the World War II Memorial on Wednesday afternoon.

  • Also this week, I sat down with Stephen Dickson of Atlanta, a former Delta pilot and President Donald J. Trump’s nominee to be the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. I enjoyed hearing about Captain Dickson’s extensive experience in aviation, where he has served as an F-15 fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and as senior vice president of flight operations at Delta, among other roles. His commitment to aviation safety is well known. Representing a state that is home to the world’s busiest airport, one of the world’s largest airlines, and manufacturers of business and military aircraft, I’m committed to ensuring American aviation remains safe and thriving. If confirmed by the Senate, Captain Dickson would serve a term of five years.

What’s On Tap?

Next week, I will chair a hearing in the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the nomination of James Byrne to be deputy secretary of the VA. Our work also continues on a federal disaster relief measure to aid Georgia’s farmers.