A Weekly e-Newsletter From Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
This week the Senate passed legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from receiving a cost-of-living increase for 2011.
Our economy is still recovering from one of the worst recessions in our nation's history, andas Congress continues to spend money at an alarming and unsustainable rate, I can't think of anyone less deserving of a pay raise in this economy. Congress needs to take immediate steps to stop out-of-control federal spending. It is an obligation that those of us in Washington owe to future generations of Americans.
I joined a majority of my colleagues in voting to block the annual pay increase for fiscal year 2010. I also voted for a bill to repeal automatic pay raises altogether, which passed the Senate in 2009. That bill is pending in the House of Representatives. In the past, I have donated the automatic pay increase that I and all members of Congress received for fiscal year 2009 by writing a check each month to the Atlanta Community Food Bank equal to the amount of my pay raise.
I am a strong believer in being a good steward of taxpayer money. Since my election to Congress in 1999, I have returned over $2.2 million of my annual Congressional office budget allotment to the Treasury. Additionally, for fiscal year 2009, I will return an estimated $460,000 of my Senate office budget allotment once final expenses have been completed.
Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., is pursuing legislation to reform the financial industry. The Banking Committee approved a bill on March 22 on a party-line vote. However, Senator Dodd continues to meet with Senator Richard Shelby, the ranking member of the Banking Committee, to work on the legislation before it comes to the Senate floor next week.
I originally introduced legislation to examine the causes of the current economic crisis in January 2009. On April 22, the Senate overwhelmingly passed this legislation , as an amendment to the Senate's version of the financial fraud bill , to create the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. President Obama signed the legislation into law on May 20, 2009.
I believe it is a mistake to draft reform legislation in the absence of all the facts and contributing factors. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has the authority, the power and the money to get to the root of the problem. The commission has a $5 million budget, subpoena powers and 18 months to complete its investigation. Some of the best financial minds have been appointed to serve on this bipartisan body.
The final report of this commission is due to Congress by December 15, 2010, with recommendations to ensure such a market meltdown never happens again. The president and Congress should be cautious in moving ahead with regulatory practices without first getting the facts.
Savannah Harbor Expansion Project
Last Friday, Senator Chambliss and I sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urging the departments to allocate all resources necessary to expeditiously complete the federal reviews associated with the deepening of the Savannah Harbor in Savannah, Ga., and the related repair of the associated federal Freshwater Control System.
The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project has encountered several delays over the years. Completing the federal reviews will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on the project, which was authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1999.
Senator Chambliss and I have submitted requests to the Senate Appropriations Committee to include funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in the fiscal year 2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
We feel that much is at stake with regard to this process. The Port of Savannah supports more than 286,000 jobs in Georgia alone, and contributes some $10.8 billion in income, $35.4 billion in revenue and $1.4 billion in state and local taxes each year. The port is poised to lead the way to a new generation of job creation, but to do so, the river channel must be deepened to accommodate the much larger vessels which will come with the scheduled completion of the Panama Canal expansion in 2014. To view the full text of the letter, click here .
Military Academy Day
Each year, I, along with the Georgia Congressional Delegation, have the honor of hosting a statewide Military Academy Day to help familiarize students with the application and nomination process for applying to the nation's five service academies. This year's event will be held on Saturday, May 8, 2010 at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Atlanta from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
Representatives from all five academies will also be in attendance to explain more about their requirements and expectations and will be available to answer questions. The event is open to students grades eight through 12. In addition, a number of aircraft will be on display at the event, including an F-22 Raptor, a UH-1 Huey helicopter and an AH-1 Cobra helicopter.
Due to Dobbins' security restrictions, all attendees must make reservations and must present photo identification, vehicle registration and proof of auto insurance at the Cobb Parkway checkpoint for admittance. All individuals who are interested in attending must make a reservation by contacting my Academy Director, Nancy Brooks, at (770) 661-0999 or by registering online . All individuals who wish to attend must provide their phone number, date of birth, driver's license number, and total number of guests who will be in the car by the registration deadline on Friday, April 30, 2010, at 5 p.m.
Our annual Academy Day event has proven extremely helpful for students interested in applying to our nation's military academies. I am proud to work with the Georgia delegation to provide this service and hope it will be an informative experience for all who attend. To view highlights from our previous Academy Day events, click here .
What's on Tap?
Next week, the Senate will begin debate on the financial regulatory overhaul measure (S.3217).