News Center

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

September 9, 2005

Dear Friends,

This week the Senate officially returned from its August recess to a great number of issues that needed to be addressed. First, the leadership called us back for an emergency session late last week to pass $10.5 billion in emergency spending for the Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery. This week, the Senate approved an additional $52 billion emergency supplemental bill (H.R. 3650) - with $50 billion for FEMA, which will be filtered down to individual states and contractors, $1.4 billion for the Department of Defense and $400 million of the Army Corps of Engineers. On Wednesday, a bipartisan committee made up of senior members was formed to review the immediate preparation and response to Hurricane Katrina at all levels of government. The committee is to report its findings to the Congress no later than February 15th, 2006.  However at this time, we must remain focused on completing the recovery, rather than pointing fingers without facts.

As we continue to learn the extent of the damage Hurricane Katrina has caused, my prayers have gone out to all those families in the Gulf Coast, Georgia and Florida whose lives have been affected by this tragedy. As in so many times of trial, Americans have already risen to the challenge and come together to help those in need. I am so proud of the citizens of Georgia who have donated time, money, supplies and even their own blood to help those who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. My office has been contacted many times by citizens wanting to go to affected areas to run clinics, help with physical labor, shuttle evacuees out of bad situations, and to open their homes to those in need. I continue working closely with the Governor and all organizations, both governmental and non-profit, involved in the relief effort to ensure everything possible is being done quickly and efficiently for the victims of Katrina.

On Saturday, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died of thyroid cancer at the age of 80. I join the nation in mourning the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist and my thoughts and prayers are with his family. During more than three decades on our nation's highest court, Justice Rehnquist built a legacy as a strong defender of the Constitution whose wisdom and leadership guided the court skillfully through numerous landmark decisions.

I also want to express my support for President Bush's decision to nominate Judge John Roberts to the Chief Justice position. I agree with the President that it is critical to open the next term of the Supreme Court with a Chief Justice in place, and Judge Roberts is an excellent choice. It is my 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.

Also in August, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission made its decisions to reverse gains to Kings Bay Submarine Base and to close Naval Air Station Atlanta, Ft. McPherson, Ft. Gillem and the Athens Naval Supply School. I remain extremely disappointed with the BRAC Commission's decision to disregard the proposal for major job gains at Kings Bay Submarine Base. Georgia 's congressional delegation and its state and community leaders did an outstanding job to make the case against the closure of Naval Air Station Atlanta, Ft. McPherson, Ft. Gillem and the Athens Naval Supply School. I am proud of our efforts and deeply disappointed by the Commission's recommendation to close these four bases.

While the Senate was out of session over the last month, I have been in Georgia visiting constituents and cities across the state, from Savannah to Camilla to Columbus to LaFayette. Former Louisiana Senator John Breaux (D-La.), Representative David Scott (D-Ga.), and I held a "Ceasefire on Healthcare" event for National Health Care Week to celebrate the work of community health centers and demonstrate the need to work across party lines to get Georgians and Americans proper healthcare. I also spoke to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce at its annual legislative luncheon in Perry in early August. I visited Valdosta, Moultrie, Rock Spring, Trion and Warner Robins to talk with constituents and business leaders in those areas. I also held "Education Listening Sessions" in Albany and Columbus to meet with parents, teachers and administrators and discuss their education needs and concerns. I began using these sessions during my tenure in the U.S. House to gauge the successes and challenges of No Child Left Behind on our Georgia schools. I also spoke to high school students at Gordon Lee High School in Chickamauga and LaFayette High School about education and current events in Washington. In Brunswick and Savannah, I toured our ports from both the ground and in the air and received briefings on our shipment totals and security procedures. I always enjoy being with constituents on their home turf and seeing home much Georgia is growing and changing.

In addition, my office welcomed new interns in Washington and Atlanta. Throughout the year, exceptional students from Georgia have the opportunity to serve as interns in our offices. This fall, our Washington interns are: Houston Ernst, Jenny Strassner, Sara Waldman, and Jana Young. Our Atlanta interns are: Kathleen Bennett and Anna Thorpe. We have enjoyed getting to know each other over the last few weeks and look forward to working hard in the weeks ahead

What's on Tap for Next Week?

Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings on Judge John Roberts for the U.S. Supreme Court. On the Senate floor, we will be debating the Commerce Justice Science Appropriations Bill.

Johnny Isakson