News Center

Friday, September 28, 2018

Securing our Future

Dear friends, 

This week, as the Senate Judiciary Committee reconvened its confirmation hearings in light of new allegations involving the nominee, members of the committee heard directly from both Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, during an open hearing on Sept. 27. I watched the proceedings, and I will review all witness testimony along with all the rest of the record that has been presented throughout the course of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has requested that the FBI conduct a supplemental FBI background investigation to help gather additional information regarding these allegations, and I respect Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s decision. 

I continue to believe that Judge Kavanaugh is an experienced and qualified nominee, but I will ultimately make my decision on based on the totality of the information provided during his confirmation process.

Progress Report from VA Secretary Wilkie

This week, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to discuss the progress of the VA’s ongoing implementation of several pieces of critical veterans’ reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law in 2017-2018.

During 2017 and so far in 2018, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed 22 major pieces of veterans legislation - 20 of which have been signed into law - that aim to strengthen veterans’ health care and benefits and support. At the hearing, I emphasized that Congress has given Secretary Wilkie the tools to fix the problems at the VA and that his most important task is to oversee the implementation of these reforms at the department to ensure veterans are being well served.

I also discussed the importance of the VA and the committee working together to find a solution for “Blue Water” Navy Vietnam veterans. Currently, veterans who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam but did not dock or approach close to the shore are not eligible for certain disability benefits covering certain medical conditions associated with the chemical herbicide Agent Orange commonly used in Vietnam.

Providing Renewable, Affordable, Safe Energy

On Wednesday, an agreement was reached to continue the construction of Plant Vogtle near Augusta, Ga., the only nuclear plant under construction in the country.

As someone who has supported Plant Vogtle since its inception and understands the need for us to provide renewable, affordable and safe energy, I am pleased that all parties were able to come together on an agreement to complete this critical project.

This agreement allows the completion of Plant Vogtle which is a huge step forward in strengthening America’s nuclear security and energy security and preserving the more than 7,000 Georgia jobs created by this project.

Protecting Peace Corps Volunteers 

This week, the Senate unanimously passed the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation I introduced to reform the U.S. Peace Corps by improving access to medical care for volunteers, strengthening accountability and oversight, and enhancing procedures to reduce the risk of crime where volunteers serve.

This legislation builds on the reforms we made to better protect our volunteers through the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011, which I introduced in honor of a Peace Corps volunteer from Georgia and that was signed into law previously. I appreciate my colleagues’ commitment to providing greater protection and safety for our Peace Corps volunteers whose work and goodwill produce results for both the communities they serve and the United States. This legislation now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

In Other News

  • On Monday, President Trump signed the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement. This is welcome news for both the United States and Georgia. I applaud the administration for its commitment to helping strengthen our partnership with South Korea while helping U.S. manufacturers and consumers. The trade relationship between the state of Georgia and South Korea is of vital importance to our state’s economy.
  • On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives signed the Music Modernization Act, to reform music licensing law for the 21st century. The bill now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law. The artists, producers and distributers whose work touches our lives and makes our music industry thrive should receive fair compensation. As technology changes the way we listen to music, our copyright and licensing laws need to change too.
  • On Tuesday, the Senate passed the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation I introduced to increase veterans’ disability benefits from the VA. Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed greatly, and it is our duty to make sure our disabled veterans and their families are provided the benefits they have earned. I am pleased the Senate has passed this important measure, and I look forward to the president signing it into law.
  • This week, I introduced critical bipartisan and bicameral legislation to combat Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood and strengthen existing efforts to understand these tragedies and improve prevention efforts. The Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act would supply grants to help states, municipalities and nonprofits improve data collection and death scene investigations related to unexpected infant and child deaths, promote safe sleep practices, and ensure death reviews for every infant and child fatality. I’m proud to introduce this legislation to ensure we are employing every resource available, including the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, to combat infant mortality and protect our youngest and most innocent lives.

  • Throughout the week, I held a number of meetings with constituents. The right-hand sidebar of our newsletter has a few of these highlights.

What’s on Tap?

Next week, we have a Tuesday hearing scheduled in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations regarding Russia’s role in Syria and the Middle East.

Sincerely,

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