A Weekly e-Newsletter from Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
June 5, 2009
Last week, as the Ranking Member on the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, I traveled to the continent where I visited several countries - including Sudan - that receive U.S. aid to see the progress as a result of that aid. I also met with non-governmental organizations such as Atlanta-based CARE as well as Peace Corps volunteers.
My trip was one of the most worthwhile of my time in Congress. It was inspiring to see the results from our nation's efforts, especially seeing the rate of children with AIDS born from mothers with AIDS drop from 50 percent six years ago to less than 1 percent today. In addition, it was impressive to see the positive strides that have been made in Rwanda between formerly warring tribes who now work and volunteer together in peace. To read more from my journal about my visit, please click here and here .
46th Brigade Combat Team No Longer Coming to Ft. Stewart
Unfortunately, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren announced this week that the Department of Defense would officially stop the growth of the Brigade Combat Teams at 45, instead of the 48 Brigade Combat Teams originally planned. Georgia's Fort Stewart was expected to receive the 46 th Brigade Combat Team.
This is absolutely the wrong decision, and I am deeply disappointed by the announcement. When a community works as hard as the Friends of Liberty and Fort Stewart have worked to prepare for an expansion of the local installation, it is absolutely critical to be able to rely on the military's word. I will continue to work with the Georgia congressional delegation to ensure that Fort Stewart receives one of the brigades that the Army plans to move back to the States from Europe. With its strategic location and strong community support, Fort Stewart is still the ideal place to grow the U.S. Army. I have been in contact with Secretary Geren since the original announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Senator Chambliss and I plan to meet with John McHugh, Obama's nominee to replace Secretary Geren, to discuss Fort Stewart.
GM and the American Auto Industry
In December 2008, the Senate rejected bailing out the auto industry because of the failure to agree on concessions necessary for the Detroit automakers to remain viable. On December 19, 2008, President Bush announced the federal government would give automakers in Detroit $17.4 billion in emergency loans from the Troubled Asset Relief Program - a decision I strongly opposed.
I believe it was obvious even then that a structured bankruptcy was the correct path for GM to restructure its debt and contracts. By giving GM funds from TARP, the administration only delayed the inevitable, but worse created a situation where the government became a part owner of private business.
On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings with GM and government officials.
As a member of the committee, I questioned officials and will work to ensure no further government intervention that will further erode the interest of private businesses such as dealerships in Georgia. To view my interview on this hearing, click here .
In addition, I signed on as a cosponsor of an amendment that would prohibit the Treasury from giving any more TARP funding to bail out GM or Chrysler and to require that one year after each of these automakers emerges from bankruptcy, the Treasury be required to distribute its common stock holdings in that company evenly to every American who paid taxes on April 15.
Supreme Court Nominee
During last week's recess, President Obama nominated federal appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor to succeed retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice David Souter.
I look forward to a thorough examination of her legal views during the Senate confirmation process. A qualified judge is one who understands the value and the strength and the power of the Constitution of the United States of America, who will rule based on the law and who will not legislate based on the position.
NCR Announces Move to Georgia
Some good news came to Georgia this week in the form of a Fortune 500 company's announced move to Georgia - bringing with it 1,250 jobs to Duluth and approximately 800 jobs to Columbus.
NCR produces ATMs, cash registers and self-service kiosks, and in October 2008, NCR announced it would establish a global Center of Excellence for its worldwide customer services operations in Peachtree City, Ga. This is expected to create more than 900 jobs in the coming months. The NCR manufacturing plant in Columbus that will create 800 jobs is expected to begin production before the end of the year.
I am delighted that NCR has chosen to move its corporate headquarters and a manufacturing facility to Georgia. This is great news for our state and reflects the world-class workforce and location that Georgia provides.
What's on Tap?
Next week the Senate will continue work on the FDA-tobacco regulation bill. As a senator who represents a state in which agriculture is the number one industry, I take a keen interest in the issue of tobacco regulation. The Senate is also schedule to complete work on the supplemental war spending bill, and two Senate committees are working on crafting major health care reform legislation.