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

September 16, 2005

Dear Friends,

This week, the President outlined a comprehensive relief and recovery effort from Hurricane Katrina that includes shifting federal dollars for Medicare and K-12 education to the states such as Georgia that have taken in thousands of evacuees, including the private sector in the recovery wherever possible and reviewing the government response so that we can be better prepared should anything like this happen again. A catastrophe such as this demands a significant financial commitment from the federal government, but those tax dollars must be spent wisely and the agencies spending those dollars must be held accountable for every penny. I wholeheartedly support the President's efforts to provide incentives for the private sector to participate in this recovery. The more the private sector is part of this recovery, the more tax dollars will flow to the Treasury from their solutions.

The Senate Judiciary Committee began hearings on Justice John Roberts for the Chief Justice position of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Roberts has demonstrated over and over again this week why he is a superb nominee. It is my continued hope that the Senate will work quickly to give Judge Roberts a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote by the full Senate before the Court's term opens on October 3.

On Wednesday, Delta Air Lines filed for bankruptcy. I have been talking continuously with Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein over the past few months, and I admire Grinstein and Delta employees for working together during that time to try to resolve the company's financial woes. Delta and its employees have shown how strongly committed they are to turning this great company around, and I am equally as committed in my desire to help them. I will redouble my efforts to pass the airline pension legislation I introduced in April so that the interests of the airline employees and the interests of the American taxpayers are protected. In addition, on Wednesday, I placed a call to Bradley Belt, Executive Director of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, to urge him to do everything possible to salvage Delta's employee pension plan. For the past five months, I have been working with the Senate Finance Committee as well as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on how best to protect taxpayers and airline employee pensions. 

On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment mandating the Federal Trade Commission immediately begin an investigation on nationwide gas prices in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I have great respect for the free enterprise system in American business but in the case of gas prices right now I believe we must be extremely vigilant in monitoring prices. The amendment, which was offered by U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), requires the FTC to use at least $1 million to conduct a thorough and immediate investigation to determine if and where gas price gouging is occurring throughout the supply chain and distribution markets. The FTC will provide an initial report to Congress within 30 days, updates every 30 days afterwards, and a final report no later than 180 days after enactment.

In addition, President Bush endorsed all of the recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, including its decisions to reverse gains for Kings Bay Submarine Base and to close Naval Air Station Atlanta, Ft. McPherson, Ft. Gillem and the Athens Naval Supply School.   I am disappointed that in his review of the BRAC Commission recommendations, the President did not see fit to reverse the Commission's actions on Fort Gillem, Fort McPherson, Naval Air Station Atlanta, the Naval Supply School and Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. I was very proud to work side by side with Senator Chambliss, Governor Perdue and all the community groups in defending all of Georgia's outstanding military bases. In the end, Georgia still stands to make significant gains from this round of BRAC at Fort Benning and elsewhere, and that is a testament to our state's critical role in our national defense.   

On a lighter note, last Friday, I met with Atlanta Braves rookies Kyle Davies, Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson, Macay McBride and Brian McCann in my Washington, D.C. office. The Braves were in town to play the Washington Nationals in a three game series, which they won 2-1. I was proud to meet with these young men who have really boosted their team's performance this season. I wish our rookies and the entire team the best of luck for the remainder of the season!

What's on Tap for Next Week?

Next week, the Senate will debate the Agriculture Appropriations bill as well as a package of tax relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Johnny Isakson