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Friday, January 11, 2019

A new session of Congress

In Case You Missed It:

Dear friends,

The 116th Congress was formally gaveled into session last week on Jan. 3, 2019. The 116th session of Congress will run from Jan. 3, 2019 until Jan. 3, 2021.

Unfortunately, before the end of 2018 and the new session of Congress, leaders of the Senate and House were unable to come to an agreement with the president on a path forward to fund the remaining seven areas of the federal government, and as a result, the government has been partially shut down since Dec. 22, 2019. Shutting down the government is never a good idea, and I was disappointed by this outcome.

On Tuesday evening, the president addressed the nation regarding the resources needed to secure our Southwest border. I appreciate the seriousness of the situation and appreciate President Trump’s urgency in addressing it.

My hope is that congressional leaders in both parties will work with the president to develop legislation that can pass both chambers and be signed into law to reopen the government and secure our borders without delay.

Preventing Future Shutdowns

In the midst of this shutdown, I again joined Sen. Rob Portman and several other senators in reintroducing the End Government Shutdowns Act, which would permanently prevent future federal government shutdowns.

It is wrong to continue the constant threat of a government shutdown. Too often, last-minute omnibus bills do little to address out-of-control spending, while shutdowns cut off essential federal government services and force Americans to bear the burden of Congress’ dysfunction.

If this bill became law, funding would automatically continue for discretionary programs for which a budget has not been enacted by the Oct. 1 deadline each fiscal year. After the first 120 days past the Oct. 1 deadline, if the government has yet to enact spending bills, the budget for each program, project or activity affected would be reduced by 1 percent. Another reduction of 1 percent would take effect after 90 days until Congress does its job and completes the annual appropriations process.

This is the one proposal in Washington that will work to end these irresponsible shutdowns that harm Georgians and Americans.

The New Congress

On Wednesday, I was honored to be selected to continue to serve as chairman of both the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics in the 116th Congress.

As the returning chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I’m proud to continue fighting for our veterans, and as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, I pledge to uphold the integrity of the ethical standards of the Senate in a fair, nonpartisan manner.

In addition, I was also selected to continue my service as a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The next two years present a number of unique opportunities to build on the momentum of policies we worked to enact in the last session of Congress, and I will continue working to find ways to advance a positive agenda that helps more Americans succeed.

Preserving Georgia’s Historic Lands

This week, I was proud to reintroduce legislation in the Senate to expand and protect three Georgia historic sites with oversight from the U.S. Department of the Interior: Ocmulgee National Monument, Fort Frederica National Monument and Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park. If passed, these bills would preserve the rich historical significance and archaeological heritage of some of Georgia’s oldest historic landmarks. I’m optimistic that both the House and the Senate will soon pass this legislation.

What’s On Tap?

Twice this week, the Senate was unable to move forward on a package of four bills called the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act. I voted in favor of these bipartisan measures that would provide support for Israel and for civilians impacted by the Syrian government’s humanitarian atrocities. However, the measures were blocked by Democrats. On Monday, the Senate is expected to hold another vote on whether to move to a debate on this package.

I’m hopeful that we will find a way forward to end the current stalemate over government funding so that the Senate can return to the business of helping the American people. As your representative, I promise to do all that I can to help.


Johnny Isakson