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Thursday, September 6, 2018

The latest from the Senate

Dear friends,

Today I’m visiting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center in Atlanta with VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. Secretary Wilkie told me during his confirmation hearing this summer that he wanted to visit VA facilities regularly to be an “on-the-ground” secretary who is accessible to employees and who knows what is going on. I invited him to Atlanta to tour our great facility and to hear directly from folks in Georgia, and I'm very glad the secretary is here today.

During the visit, Mr. Wilkie and I will meet with medical center leadership and visit with employees to discuss the recently passed VA MISSION Act, landmark legislation I authored that was signed into law June 6 to strengthen healthcare services at the VA and streamline the department’s community care programs. These changes will help ensure veterans receive timely, quality care, whether inside the VA system or from providers in their communities.

Together, we are working to transform the VA into a department worthy of our veterans and one that is indicative of a nation grateful for their service.

Critical Administrators for our Veterans 

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to consider the nominations of James Gfrerer to be chief information officer and assistant secretary of the VA Office of Information and Technology and Tamara Bonzanto to be assistant secretary of the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

These two positions are of tremendous responsibility and importance, and our veterans are in need of a more responsive, accountable and responsible VA. Having these leadership positions filled is critical to that effort.

We owe our veterans the best possible care and support that they have earned. By helping to instill a culture of accountability at the VA, we can see to it that we deliver on that promise. If confirmed, I look forward to Ms. Bonzanto and Mr. Gfrerer bringing to the VA their experience and commitment to veterans.


The Real Deal 
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary began several days of hearings with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Hearings will pick back up next week, and I look forward to continuing to learn more about the nominee.

Last month, I delivered remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate to announce my support for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

I believe there’s no better person to do the job than Brett Kavanaugh. He is the real deal. He’s written many opinions that have been affirmed by the Supreme Court, referenced by other courts, and adopted as a part of the law. That is a great testament to his ability and his intellect.

His work and record speaks for itself, and I’ve been impressed with how he’s handled his hearings. I look forward to voting to confirm him to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Other News

  • On Tuesday, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that Senator Bob Casey and I worked on to ensure that children’s hospitals have the support they need to provide adequate medical education for training of pediatricians and other residents. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law. Investment in our pediatric workforce is a necessity, and I will continue to support this vital program to help ensure our youngest patients are able to receive the quality care they need.
  • On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing to discuss the impact of tariffs on our nation’s autoworkers, a very important topic to our nation and especially hardworking Georgians. I’ve been very concerned about the uncertainty of our trade policies and the negative affects of tariffs. The quicker we can clarify our policies, the better. 

  • This week, we welcomed Alexander Presley Little, a high school junior from Gainesville, Ga., who I appointed to participate in the U.S. Senate Page Program in Washington, D.C. Alex Little has demonstrated an interest in public service, and I’m delighted that we’re able to offer him the opportunity to work in government at a young age through the Senate Page Program. I’m confident that Georgia will be well represented by Alex during his time in Washington. 

  • This week, the Albany Herald published a great piece on one of our former interns, Johnson Collins. Johnson spent 12 weeks this summer in my office, serving as a University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Congressional Agricultural Fellow. Johnson worked closely with our staff in D.C. and Georgia who focus on agriculture issues, and she did great work! Learn more about our internship program and how to apply here.

What’s on Tap?

The Senate is adjourned until Wednesday for the annual observance of Rosh Hashanah, which will begin on Sunday at sunset. L’shanah tovah to all our friends who are celebrating!


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