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A Weekly e-Newsletter from
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

March 30, 2012

Dear Friends,

This week, the Senate debated energy policy and Republican senators highlighted ideas for addressing high gas prices and our energy future, including moving forward on the Keystone XL pipeline that would also create tens of thousands of badly needed jobs for Americans.

On Thursday, I voted to defeat a bill in the Senate that would have increased taxes on American oil and gas companies. As a businessman for 30 years, I learned that prices are determined by supply and demand. We can blame whoever we want for rising gas prices, but the fact of the matter is that supply and demand dictate price. We should robustly explore our domestic resources to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. All sources of energy that are safe and reliable should be promoted, including nuclear energy. It's time for some in Washington to stop talking about developing all resources, but failing to follow through when it comes time to take action. For example, the President last week only approved a portion of the Keystone XL pipeline and has refused to approve the entire project and the jobs that would come with it. We owe it to the American people to honestly address cost of gasoline and develop our own natural resources here at home. For more information on my position on American's energy policy, please visit the Energy issue page of my website.

The Senate rejected a motion to end debate over the oil tax legislation, S.2204, which was introduced by Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., by a vote of 51-47. The motion required 60 votes to pass.

Obama Comments on Missile Defense
Also on Thursday, I spoke on the Senate floor to demand an explanation from President Obama over his comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that were picked up on camera and on a microphone in which Obama said he would have "more flexibility" on issues such as missile defense after the 2012 presidential election.

I found the president's comments to President Medvedev very troublesome because I spent many months working on the New START Treaty as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This comprehensive treaty is important to America, the free world and quite frankly, to Russia. To that end, I believe that it is important that the president explain what he meant by his comments and how 'flexibility' would be implied if he were reelected president of the United States. When the Senate ratified the New START Treaty in December 2010, there was neither 'wiggle room' nor need for flexibility. The United States was committed to missile defense in Europe, and we remain committed to it to this day. It is important that the president reaffirm this commitment. It is too important to the country and our allies.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I also joined more than 40 of my colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama on March 27, 2012, demanding that the president explain what he meant by his comment to President Medvedev. Click here to view the letter.

The New START treaty has received support from many current and former members of the United States defense community. Former national security leaders from the past seven administrations have voiced their support for New START, including former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and James Baker. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all signed and ratified arms control treaties with Moscow during their administrations.

'I Hire Veterans' Initiative
On Wednesday, I joined fellow members of the Senate Veterans Jobs Caucus in hosting an event to kick off our "I Hire Veterans" initiative, which encourages members of the Senate and American businesses to show our commitment to hiring veterans by displaying a simple logo - "I Hire Veterans" - in our offices.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis also joined us for the kickoff, where she expressed her support for the caucus' efforts to put our returning servicemembers back to work. Officials from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, representatives from veterans and military service organizations and the private sector also attended.

As a member of the caucus, as well as a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I am proud to join my colleagues in promoting this critically important program to ensure that the men and women who fought to protect our freedoms can find work when they return to civilian life. The men and women who have served in uniform bring unique skills and training to the workforce, and I encourage all businesses to hire veterans, just as I have done in my own office. I also urge Georgians to get involved with the "I Hire Veterans" initiative by making a similar commitment to hiring veterans, and by downloading and displaying the "I Hire Veterans" logo in their place of business.

Health Care Reform
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a challenge regarding the constitutionality of President Obama's terribly flawed health care law over its mandate that individuals buy health insurance.

I voted against the health care bill in December 2009, and I have voted to repeal the law. In January, I joined 35 other Republican senators in signing on to an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the President's health care law. Last week, I joined with 21 of my fellow senators in sending a letter to Dr. Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, requesting that the CBO provide an analysis of the budgetary effects of the 30 percent, 50 percent and finally 100 percent of Americans losing their employer-sponsored care. In other words, what would it cost the federal government if 48 million, 80 million or 160 million Americans were forced to access health care through the government exchange programs? It is extremely important that the American people have this information before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is fully implemented. We must know the full range of its potential costs and consequences.

My hope is that the Supreme Court sees the law as I do: that it is unconstitutional. I will continue to work to repeal the law and replace it with solutions to contain the costs of health care and increase patient choice through competition in the private-sector.

In Other News
This week, I was interviewed on the Rusty Humphries Show on WGST in Atlanta as well as on WGST's "Rob and Dave Show." I enjoyed using Skype technology to talk with sixth grade students at Westside Middle School in Barrow County, Georgia. I was honored to receive the "Spirit of Enterprise Award" once again from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for my record of support for pro-jobs, pro-growth policies. 

What's on Tap?        

The Senate will be out of session for the next two weeks in observance of the Easter holiday. Our next e-newsletter will be sent on April 20, 2012.

Johnny Isakson