News Center

Dear Friends,
This week, the Senate debated the passage of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act. In Georgia, 1.2 million jobs are directly related to international trade. Last year alone, Georgia’s farmers, manufacturers, and companies exported $39.4 billion worth of goods around the globe. Passing responsible trade promotion legislation would further benefit American workers and promote American jobs by setting out clear objectives mandated by Congress that the president must achieve in international trade agreements. Under this legislation, Congress retains the authority to either approve the agreement, or to determine that the agreement will not benefit the United States and to vote it down. 

Protecting National Security
The Senate also debated the reauthorization of a critical national security program that has served as a proven intelligence tool in fighting terrorists since it was first passed by Congress in 2001. Protecting both national security and personal privacy are paramount responsibilities for the U.S. Congress. The threats around the world and even on U.S. soil are growing at an alarming rate. These strong security measures ensure that the intelligence gaps identified by the 9/11 Commission Report would never prove to be vulnerabilities to our national security ever again. 

We need to send a clear message to ISIL and all others who intend to harm us that we stand here to preserve and protect, and we will not let any obstacle stop our pursuit of those who seek to destroy our freedoms.

Denver VA Hospital
As chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I spent a lot of time this week working on the construction and management debacle in the VA’s project to build a new hospital in Denver. To date, the VA has failed to demonstrate any leadership or hold accountable those responsible for the nearly $1 billion-over-budget Denver VA project – the biggest construction failure in VA history. We are caught between a rock and a hard place.  Construction is scheduled to stop on May 24, 2015, and the cost of stopping and restarting construction could be as high as an additional $200 million for the American taxpayer.  As of this writing, the Senate was trying to pass a short-term extension to allow VA to use resources it already has to keep construction crews on the job. We expect the VA and the Obama administration to accept responsibility for what this is – an outright financial and management disaster of catastrophic proportions – and to return immediately to the critical task of developing a workable plan to fully fund and complete the Denver VA medical center. 

Listening to Our Veterans
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs was joined by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to hear from multiple Veteran Service Organizations about their legislative priorities for the year. I want to thank the Paralyzed Veterans of America, AMVETS National Headquarters, Military Order of the Purple Heart, USA, Military Officers Association of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, Blinded Veterans Association, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and NCOA USA for testifying.

You can watch my opening statement and questions at Wednesday’s hearing here.

Improving Medicare for Chronic Health Conditions
Last week, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on improving Medicare for senior citizens and people with disabilities who have been diagnosed with multiple chronic conditions. The prevalence of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer has grown significantly since Medicare was created in 1965, yet aspects of the program have not been updated to reflect the importance of coordinating medical care to help these patients stay out of the hospital. To follow up on this hearing, I am co-chairing a bipartisan working group with Senator Mark Warner of Virginia to explore ways to strengthen Medicare’s coverage of chronic conditions and empower health care providers and patients to develop innovative health solutions that save money without compromising quality.

What’s on Tap?

I hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Please take a moment this weekend to remember our brave warriors and their families. Our fallen soldiers were patriotic men and women with a great sense of duty, and they made the ultimate sacrifice in seeking to protect our liberties and freedoms. We will never be able to repay the tremendous debt we owe to those who proudly served our country with honor. 

You can also watch me on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” this Sunday, May 24, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. ET or at 6:00 p.m. ET. I’ll be discussing the importance of taking care of our country’s veterans and reforming the culture of the Department of Veterans Affairs so that tragedies like last year’s wait time scandal at the VA hospital in Phoenix never happen again.

Sincerely,
Johnny Isakson