November 15, 2010

This week, Congress will reconvene for a “lame duck” session where it will consider another giant omnibus spending package in lieu of passing a budget for FY2011.  Rather than submit to this massive piece of spending legislation, I, along with 67 (and counting) of my conservative colleagues are opting for a more responsible solution known as H.J.Res. 96.  This joint resolution would provide a full-year continuing resolution (CR) that would protect defense and veteran spending while returning all non-military discretionary funding to FY2008 levels.  H.J.Res. 96 would also defund ObamaCare, place an earmark moratorium on any FY2011 appropriations legislation, and prohibit “extraneous emergency spending.”  You may read the full text of H.J.Res. 96 by clicking here.

November 8, 2010

The authorization for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP), which provides an additional $500 per month for those members of the Armed Forces who served in a stop loss status, was scheduled to end on October 21, 2010.  Currently, more than 145,000 service men and women are eligible for this benefit, but less than half that number have submitted a claim.   I am happy to announce that the RSLSP claims deadline has been extended to December 3, 2010.  As a reminder, all service members who were involuntarily extended between September 11, 2001 and September 30, 2009 are eligible to receive RSLSP.  Although I am pleased that the claims deadline has been extended, the entire process we use to deploy our soldiers, as well as the basis for which we use stop loss, needs to be reexamined.  Repeated deployments and involuntary recall after completion of a term of service placed tremendous strain on our service men and women, their families, and the Armed Forces as a whole.  For more information about this extension, and the requirements and qualifications set forth under this provision, please click here.

November 3, 2010

Yesterday, Americans spoke out against the oppressive big-government, big-spending, policies of the Pelosi/Obama regime by electing a Republican majority to Congress.  I could not be happier with this outcome.  I announced my retirement in February.  I believed then that America's response to the overreach of the Obama administration would give the Republicans the majority.  I am pleased to leave Congress in the capable hands of strong conservative leaders; leaders who will act in concert with their constituents, not their own egos; leaders who will repeal legislation that the American people never wanted.  I am particularly pleased that my replacement, Rob Woodall, is already equipped to be one of those leaders.  Our incoming majority has an enormously difficult job ahead of it and will be performing under pressure from a skeptical America.  However, I am confident they will rise to the occasion and surpass our expectations. 

October 20, 2010

I am pleased to announce that, yesterday, Gwinnett County Public Schools won the prestigious Broad Foundation Prize for Urban Education, along with $1 million, in the competition for the nation’s best urban school district.  Winners of this competition receive scholarships to help students who have struggled with their education in the past, continue on to pursue a college degree.  You may click here to read the press release.  I would personally like to congratulate Gwinnett Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks and his administration, including Gwinnett School Board Chairman Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, for their hard work and efforts that made this award possible.  This achievement is a prime example of what happens when we allow our educational systems to remain on the local level and in the competent hands of private leaders who know best what our children need to succeed. 

October 19, 2010

On Tuesday, October 12, an unelected Federal Judge overturned the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law (DADT), passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1993.  Rather than showing deference to the Congress and the ongoing public debate, District Court Judge Virginia Phillips of California has decided to set her own military policy, which will impact our Armed Forces around the world, including those in combat in Afghanistan. 
This kind of judicial activism is very disturbing.  Congress and the United States military are currently in the middle of a careful examination of the DADT law, and a Department of Defense (DoD) study of the effects of ending the policy is due by year’s end.   Open and thoughtful assessment of the law within the legislative process is the proper way to address its effect on military readiness and cohesion.   A single judge acting on personal opinion, not the letter of the law, is no way to set policy with a direct bearing on our national security. 
I urge President Obama to rigorously defend the current DADT law so that the Pentagon can complete its review before any changes are made.  Whatever your opinion of the DADT law, the proper venue to address the issue is through the elected Congress in close consultation with the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces to whom the policy will most affect. 
To read more about this issue, please click here.

October 14, 2010

This week, I was proud to sign onto a letter  to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, urging the Assistant Secretary John Morton to escalate the process of deporting extremely dangerous criminal aliens from the United States.  You may view this letter by clicking here.
The Secure Communities Initiative was established strictly for this purpose; however, currently this initiative is not expected to be fully deployed until 2013.  I, along with other Republican Members of the Georgia House delegation, urge the Secretary to implement the Secure Communities initiative throughout the entire State of Georgia as soon as possible.  Implementing this initiative before 2013 would help secure the safety of Georgia citizens much sooner.  Illegal immigration is a serious problem in our state, and we have a long way to go before we have successfully taken control of the outrageous number of illegal immigrants currently living in our nation.  Nevertheless, this letter is a step in the right direction, urging a quick implementation of a very necessary measure needed to ensure the safety of the residents of Georgia’s Seventh District. 

October 12, 2010

Today, the Obama Administration and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced an impending end to the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. You can read an article about the announcement by clicking here.  However, all this really means is that operators may now begin submitting their applications to the Department of Interior to see if they clear the bar for safety and environmental protection.  Our most recent drilling moratorium imposed following last spring’s oil spill was by no means the right decision.  Punishing workers and companies that have flawless safety records for the bad actions of one drilling company has cost thousands of jobs and worsened the economic struggle experienced by the people of the Gulf Coast.  While today’s decision by the Department of the Interior in no way completely mitigates the costly effects of the President’s drilling ban, it is nevertheless one step in the right direction.  Residents of Louisiana and all over the Gulf Coast must be allowed to get back to work.  We have seen all too often the negative effects that the hand of the Federal Government has when it reaches into the private sector. 

October 7, 2010

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced new regulations on September 28, 2010, for veterans who have served in the Persian Gulf area and Afghanistan.  Under the new rules, the VA recognizes the association of certain illnesses with service in the Gulf beginning in 1990 and in Afghanistan beginning in 2001.  Any service member who qualifies under the new guideline can receive a “presumption of service connection” when they file for benefits for any of the nine diseases now listed.  The diseases included under the new directive are Brucellosis, Campylobacter jejuni, Coxiella Burnetii (Q fever), Malaria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nontyphoid Salmonella, Shigella, Visceral leishmaniasis and West Nile virus.  For more information, please visit the VA website on the new regulation here.  I fully support any efforts we can undertake to compensate our veterans in a more effective and timely manner and I’m glad to see this kind of action being taken by the VA.  I am also hopeful that the National Academy of Sciences will continue to make additional findings through continued research on this subject. 

September 29, 2010

As a follow-up to my last blog, I would like to share with you the news that the Department of Defense (DoD) has deemed September 27-October 4, 2010, “Absentee Voting Week.”  Senior DoD leaders will use a series of online tools and educational materials to raise awareness of the absentee voting process for DoD personnel stationed overseas.  
You should know that absentee voting extends beyond this week, and that the new website and educational materials are now live and readily available.  You may access these materials by clicking here.  I encourage all of my constituents who may be overseas to take advantage of this wonderful system our DoD has set in place.  One of the many blessings we enjoy as citizens of this great nation is the ability to actively participate in the voting process.  It is important that your vote be counted as you choose who you want to represent you in Congress. 

September 27, 2010

This month Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced the beginning of a program to allow overseas service members from Georgia to access an electronic absentee ballot for the upcoming November General Election.  You can read more about the program here.  The men and women of our Armed Forces stand guard protecting our most sacred liberties and the freedom we enjoy as a democracy.  It is important that we do whatever possible to ensure their ability to participate in our government and electoral process, and I will continue to support measures to this end.

To browse an archive of previous blogs, click here.