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

July 10, 2009

Dear Friends,

Last week, over the Independence Day Recess, I enjoyed meeting with a number of constituents in my Atlanta office and in Lincolnton, Ga. The issues I continue to hear from you about and that are on everyone's minds are health care reform and the cap-and-trade legislation recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee continued consideration of health care reform legislation. At the same time, the Senate Finance Committee is also drafting a bill dealing with how to pay for this massive health care reform. The HELP and Finance committees are working separately, but at some point their two proposals would be merged to bring the issue to the floor.

During this week's mark-up, Democrats have repeatedly voted along party lines to defeat amendments that would bring down health care costs, including a proposal to reduce frivolous medical lawsuits, a provision that would have reduced the debt by ensuring that veterans and unemployed workers receive focus, rather than higher income workers through government hand-outs, and a proposal that would have stopped insurance companies from being forced to contract with abortion providers. In addition, the Democrats' bill would impose new financial penalties on employers who cannot offer health insurance, thereby forcing employers to reduce saves and cut jobs - particularly affecting small businesses and low-income, minority workers.

I believe the key to health care reform is stimulating competition in a market-based system that will encourage private health insurers and managed care providers to compete for business and make health insurance more affordable for consumers. I also think Congress needs to look carefully into proposals that will increase coverage of preventative and wellness care, which will help control the cost of managing chronic disease and drive down the cost of treating largely preventable conditions.

That's why I am a co-sponsor of S.1099, Patients' Choice Act of 2009, which seeks to strengthen the relationship between the patient and the doctor by using choice and competition, rather than rationing and restrictions, to contain costs and ensure affordable health care for all Americans.

The HELP committee is expected to continue consideration of its health care legislation next week. We are still at the beginning of this process and there is no timeline for when health care legislation will be considered by the full Senate.

The Waxman-Markey climate change bill passed the House on June 26, 2009, by a slim margin of votes. The Senate is not expected to begin mark up on its version of a climate change bill until this fall, and it is not expected to consider the Waxman-Markey bill, which I do not support.

I believe cap-and-trade will raise the cost of energy to all Georgians, especially those who rely on electric energy. Such a program will tax carbon and redistribute that tax toward other programs unrelated to energy. We need incentives to reduce carbon, not taxes to punish its production.

In addition, I believe it is in the geopolitical and environmental interests of the United States to reduce our dependence on imported foreign oil. Such a reduction is possible through the development of all our domestic sources of energy, including nuclear, wind, biomass and biofuels, solar, hydro, geothermal, and exploration of oil and natural gas inland and off U.S. shores.

Co-sponsored Legislation to Ensure Counting of Overseas Military Ballots
On Thursday, Senator Chambliss and I co-sponsored legislation to ensure that all ballots cast by U.S. troops overseas are counted in elections. Our men and women serving overseas are deployed in defense of freedom and democracy. It is imperative that we do everything in our power to ensure they are able to participate in our nation's democratic process.

The Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act ("MOVE Act") requires all states to provide military voters with ballots no later than 45 days before an election. It also requires states to institute and maintain an electronic and fax system for sending voter registration applications and absentee ballot applications.

The bill addresses problems military and overseas voters face in registering to vote from outside the United States and it bars states from rejecting military ballots for lack of a notary signature, which can be difficult to obtain on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Albany Non-Profit Founder Named CNN Hero
Pamela Green Jackson, founder and CEO of The Youth Becoming Healthy Project, was selected as a CNN 'Hero of the Week,' and appeared on CNN's Larry King Live and American Morning this week to discuss her accomplishments with The Youth Becoming Healthy Project.

CNN Heroes, now in its third year, recognizes individuals around the world who are making a difference in their communities and beyond.

Jackson founded the non-profit organization in February 2004 in memory of Bernard Green, her only brother, who lost his battle to complications of obesity-related illnesses on February 11, 2004. Since that time, The Youth Becoming Healthy Project has worked with countless numbers of students in Dougherty County's middle schools by placing fitness centers, staff and wellness programs in each school to help combat childhood obesity. Jackson has also expanded her work to include elementary schools.

I congratulate Pamela Green Jackson on her accomplishment. Not only does The Youth Becoming Healthy Project work directly with students and schools to provide fitness and nutrition education and healthier menu choices, but Ms. Jackson serves as an inspiration to the community as she took a personal tragedy and turned it into a victory for her community.

What's on Tap?

Next week the Senate will take up the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill. The $680 billion measure would call for a 3.4 percent pay raise for the military and authorize $1.75 billion for seven F-22 fighter planes, extending the future of the production line.

Johnny Isakson