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

January 12, 2007

Dear Friends,                              

Happy New Year!  Much has happened since Congress adjourned last month.  The Senate and House have convened for the first session of the 110th Congress, and I have begun work on my committee assignments: Foreign Relations; Environment and Public Works; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Veterans' Affairs; and Small Business.

President Ford

Sadly, on December 26, 2006, our nation lost a great president and friend in the death of President Gerald Ford.  My thoughts and prayers are with former First Lady Betty Ford and the entire Ford family.  When Gerald Ford took office in 1974, he was exactly the right person for our country at a very difficult time in history. President Ford immediately earned the respect of the nation with his honorable and humble leadership. He truly was an unsung hero of our republic and I will miss him.

Saddam Hussein

On Saturday, December 29, 2006, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed.  The execution of this brutal dictator came after a free and fair trial, which was more than the Iraqi people ever received under Hussein's oppressive regime. After decades of torturous tyranny, the free Iraqi people have taken another significant step toward a future of self-governance, security and hope.

Stem Cell Research

This week, I introduced a bill that would allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research using stem cell lines created without destroying a potential lifeStem cell research is one of the most important issues we will deal with in Congress, and I understand both the potential that such research holds as well as its moral implications.  My legislation is based on research that is being conducted at the University of Georgia on three NIH-registered embryonic stem cell lines that were derived from embryos produced during the natural course of the in-vitro fertilization process but incapable of surviving in the womb or during the freezing process.Like many families in America , mine has been forever changed by terrible diseases that have robbed us of our loved ones all too soon. Stem cell research has produced results and offers hope for new and exciting life-sustaining and life-saving treatments for so many diseases believed to be untreatable until recently.  The American people want both parties to work together to break the political logjam and to pass responsible legislation on embryonic stem cell research - legislation that respects the sanctity of human life and takes into account our country's need to advance in this critical area of medical research.

Iraq

On Wednesday night, the president outlined a new plan for Iraq - a comprehensive plan only if the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government buy in to it and fulfill their side of the deal.  Only when there is some degree of peace in Baghdad can you bring about the possibility of reconciliation between the various interests and diverse factions. Right now that does not exist, and it won't exist in the future if the Iraqi military is not capable of working along with the American military to bring peace to the country. The President has got a tough job, and this may be the last opportunity to make a significant difference in the ongoing battle in Iraq . I hope Prime Minister al-Maliki and the Iraqi people will honor their side of this bargain and respond with the military commitment to make this plan work. 

Tennessee Valley Authority

Also this week, I re-introduced legislation to expand the Tennessee Valley Authority board from nine members to 13 members and to add a requirement that each state in the TVA service area have at least one seat on the board. The TVA delivers power to some 123,000 households in northern Georgia , but no Georgian has ever been nominated to serve on the TVA governing board.  In addition to Georgia , the states of North Carolina and Virginia also have never had a representative on the TVA board. The TVA service area includes Georgia , Alabama , Kentucky , Mississippi , North Carolina , Tennessee and Virginia .  Distributors of TVA power sold nearly 1.9 billion kilowatt-hours in 2004 to more than 123,000 households in 10 north Georgia counties. The TVA has jurisdiction over power issues that are critical to our state. Our constituents must rely on TVA, and they deserve a voice on that governing board.

No Child Left Behind

Another priority of mine for this session is the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act - the landmark legislation that is providing this nation's schools with the necessary resources to give all children a quality education.  In the House, I was proud to have served on the drafting team for the No Child Left Behind Act.  With the President's strong commitment, we created a comprehensive reform to strengthen this nation's public schools, and the result is our school systems are improving and our students are receiving more of the educational tools they need to compete in the 21st century. No Child Left Behind has demonstrated improvements in the children it set out to help the most, the inner city poor and rural poor children of America .  I believe our continued commitment to improving reading and math skills by those students most at risk will in time reduce drop out rates and improve educational achievement around the country.

Delta Air Lines

I was very pleased to learn this week that the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold a hearing later this month on the potential impact of airline mergers, including the proposed bid by U.S. Airways to merge with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines. Last month, Senator Chambliss and I sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, asking them to hold hearings on the impact of the U.S. Airways proposal. In our fragile aviation system, it is critical to understand that competition is still in the best interests of the American consumer. I firmly believe this proposed merger bid and the potential further consolidation of the airline industry is a threat to competition, to secondary market service and to lower consumer prices.

State Director

Over the break, we also had some changes in my offices, including the promotion of Deputy State Director Tricia Chastain to the position of State Director.  Tricia will manage the day-to-day operation of my Georgia office as well as attend meetings and events across the state on my behalf. Tricia has worked for me for nearly seven years and has become an integral part of my team.  She is a talented, loyal and dedicated professional and I am delighted that she will now take on this new responsibility. I know she will continue to help me do the best job possible for the people of Georgia .  Tricia replaces Chris Cummiskey who has taken the chief of staff position with Georgia Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson.                                                                                     

What's on Tap for Next Week?

The Senate will continue debating S.1, the ethics and lobbying reform bill.                                                       

Sincerely,
Johnny Isakson