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

June 24, 2005

Dear Friends,

It was with great sadness that I spoke on the Senate floor yesterday honoring the life and legacy of a great Georgian and a true patriot, 1st Lt. Noah Harris of Ellijay, Ga. Lt. Harris, only 23 years old, died Saturday at an army medical center in Baqubah, Iraq, after his Humvee was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades while patrolling in nearby Buritz. Shortly after September 11 th, 2001, Noah Harris volunteered to serve in the United States military, and for the greater good of the people of the world. Noah Harris is the type of young man who served in Iraq without desire for credit, but simply on behalf of his country and everything that we stand for. At the age of 23, he embodied the hope of the future, and his sacrifice ensures that the future for others will be brighter.

This week, the Senate continued its work on a comprehensive national energy policy, H.R. 6. After two weeks of debate, we are now poised to vote for final passage on Tuesday and it is long overdue. We must become less dependent on foreign energy and this bill will help us do that.

Yesterday, I joined with 10 Republican Senators in announcing new legislation to "Stop the Raid on Social Security." This legislation protects the Social Security surplus by creating personal savings accounts that workers would own and that would be fully inheritable. The bill works to achieve three goals:  1) the Social Security surplus should only be used for Social Security, not other government programs; 2) Surpluses should be saved in personal accounts that are legally owned by workers; and 3) the surplus should not be used to mask the true size of the national deficit.  The proposal accomplishes these goals by walling off Social Security surplus money from other government spending through the creation of personal retirement accounts. This is an excellent first step toward addressing the Social Security crisis and restoring trust with the American taxpayers over how Congress handles their money. I am pleased to join Senator DeMint and my other colleagues in taking steps to protect the Social Security surplus.

On Monday, I was very disappointed that the Senate again refused to end the debate on the nomination of John Bolton for ambassador to the United Nations. I supported ending the debate and believe that Bolton, like all nominees, deserves an up-or-down vote by the full Senate. It's very disappointing to see Senate Democrats continuing their obstructionist politics with these nominees. I will continue to support Bolton's nomination.

I am pleased to announce that this week the Department of Labor approved an additional $2,562,110 to the State of Georgia to provide assistance to approximately 900 workers affected by the closure of the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company in Macon. Two payments totaling $1,054,013 have been previously provided as part of a National Emergency Grant provided by DOL to Georgia, and this latest grant brings the total to $3,616,123. The workers who have been laid off in middle Georgia deserve our help, and I am very grateful the Department of Labor has committed these additional funds to assist them.

In addition, I would like to address Senator Durbin's comments regarding Guantanamo Bay last week. Senator Durbin's rhetoric is harmful to our soldiers and emboldens our enemies. Last Friday, I, along with my fellow Republican freshman senators, called on Senator Durbin to issue an apology to the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. The American Armed Forces are the best in the world and to compare them with Nazis, Soviet Gulags, or Pol Pot is outrageous. Millions of innocent people were murdered in death camps under these evil regimes.

And finally, I was very troubled by yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that local governments may take people's homes and businesses and turn them over to private developers. The 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court in favor of the city of New London, Connecticut, is deeply troubling and opens the door for government to use the power of eminent domain far beyond what I believe was the intent of our founding fathers. Using eminent domain to acquire private property for purposes such as roads, sewers, water lines is one thing, but the Court's ruling yesterday allows a private for-profit development to qualify as a "public use" and allows a local government to use eminent domain powers to take private property from one citizen and transfer it for the benefit of the other. This is a very dangerous precedent.

What's on Tap for Next Week?

Next week, the Senate will be voting on final passage of the Energy Bill and then will begin debating appropriations for the Department of the Interior, environment and related agencies for 2005-2006 fiscal year. I am also looking forward to the June 30 th BRAC hearing and making the case as to why our Georgia bases should be kept open.

Sincerely,
Johnny Isakson