News Center

Friday, November 30, 2018

Investing in Georgia

Dear friends,

Last week, Georgia got some great news in that the administration is providing $52.12 million in additional funds for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. This additional funding in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fiscal year 2019 work plan, combined with the President Trump’s original budget request of $49 million, brings the total federal funding for this vital infrastructure project to roughly $101 million, keeping this critical economic development project on track

U.S. Senator David Perdue, U.S. Representative Buddy Carter and I have worked tirelessly to ensure that the federal government does its part to fund the deepening of the Port of Savannah to maintain the incredible growth it has experienced.

President Trump is delivering for Georgia in a big way, and I’m grateful to the administration’s dedication to this expansion. Our commitment is unwavering, and we will keep pressing until the job is complete.

Fixing Forever G.I. Bill Payment Issues 

This week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it is seeking to fix payment issues that have arisen as the department implements provisions of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act and works to improve the information technology (IT) system needed to accommodate the updated G.I. Bill changes.

While I am disappointed that the VA does not yet have an effective IT system in place, I understand VA Secretary Robert Wilkie’s decision to reset implementation of certain sections of the ‘Forever’ G.I. Bill while improvements continue to be made. Right now, the VA’s priority must be to ensure accurate payments are sent to student veterans in a timely manner.

Student veterans rely on the G.I. Bill to support themselves and their families while they are in school, and the VA is responsible for keeping those payments going, even as it implements the new law. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I will continue to keep a close watch to ensure the VA implements this law as Congress intended and does so without interrupting the benefit payments on which student veterans rely.

If you or a veteran you know has experienced a delayed, inaccurate or missing G.I. Bill payment, please call the VA’s education call center at 888-442-4551 for help. You can also call our office at 770-661-0999.

In Other News

  • This week, the Senate continued its work to confirm the president’s nominees who require Senate approval. Since we began our work in January 2017, we’ve confirmed a record 29 circuit court judges as well as 53 district court judges and two Supreme Court justices. We are continuing to make history by confirming judges who are dedicated to fairly interpreting the law and who will have an impact on our nation’s courts for years to come.
  • On Wednesday, the Senate passed U.S. Representative Rick Allen’s legislation to name the Statesboro, Ga., VA community-based outpatient clinic the ‘Ray Hendrix VA Clinic.’
  • On Wednesday, the Senate passed a resolution I introduced that designates Monday, Dec. 3, as “Phenylketonuria ‘PKU’ Awareness Day.” More information can be found on this genetic metabolic disorder disease from the National Institutes of Health here.
  • On Wednesday, I was so pleased that the Senate passed the PEPFAR Extension Act of 2018, H.R.6651, legislation to extend the lifesaving President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program through fiscal year 2023. PEPFAR has helped break the infection curve, and it’s an important success story we must do our best to continue.

  • This week, I also sent letters to Senate leaders to request additional supplemental disaster assistance funding for losses due to Hurricane Michael. Our state’s agriculture industry alone suffered more than $2.5 billion in losses. If you are seeking individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) related to Hurricane Michael, the deadline to register for assistance is Thursday, Dec. 13. Registration is available online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.
  • The United States benefits when we are engaged on free trade agreements. Today the president signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement. I look forward to reviewing the final details of this agreement and evaluating its merits. Georgia exports more than $12 billion of its goods and services to Mexico and Canada each year, and I am working to ensure that our trade relationships continue to benefit Georgia’s farmers, manufacturers and service providers.

What’s on Tap?

Next week, the Senate will continue its work on the Farm Bill and confirming nominees. On Thursday, the Senate and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committees will hold a hearing to review the VA’s progress on implementing the VA MISSION Act.

The Senate must also complete its work to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2019. The current short-term funding bill will expire on Dec. 7.

Sincerely,

In Case You Missed It