Veterans Affairs Committee Passes Bill Promoting Suicide Prevention

It didn’t take long for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to get down to business. In its first official meeting under new Chairman Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, the committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. The bill now heads towards a full Senate vote. It was passed by the House earlier this month, and Senator Isakson hopes the bill will become the first one President Obama signs in 2015.

Following committee passage of the bill, Isakson said,

When you have 8,000 veterans a year committing suicide – which is more veterans than have died in all of Iraq and all of Afghanistan since we’ve been fighting – then you have a serious problem and this is emergency legislation that we need to pass to help our veterans.

Stars and Stripes has some background on the bill’s history, and what it will do for America’s veterans:

Veteran groups and Clay Hunt’s parents have backed the measure since it was first introduced last year. Hunt served in Iraq and Afghanistan and struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, becoming one of the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day.

Despite widespread support among lawmakers, the bill failed in the last congressional session because retiring budget hawk Tom Coburn blocked a final vote in the Senate. The Oklahoma Republican had objected to the $22 million price tag, which supporters say is small in terms of the federal budget.

Isakson, who is a veteran himself, has been on the Veteran’s Affairs Committee since being sworn in a a Senator in 2005. Named committee chair this year following the Republicans winning the Senate majority, Isakson pledged bipartisanship for the committee’s actions.

As I’ve said many times in Atlanta at the VA hospital, we don’t just have Republican veterans and Democrat veterans, we have American veterans. This committee is about serving the veterans of the United States of America regardless of their race, creed, color, national origin or their political affiliation. This is going to be the most bipartisan committee in the United States Senate because … those that sacrifice themselves for our country need to be rewarded with the best possible health care available and the best services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For more information on the issue of veterans’ suicides, and how veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan eras have a higher risk of suicide, the Hartford Courant has some in-depth information.

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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Posted in 9th/14th District News, Congress, Medicine/Medicare, Politics, State & Local Issues, U.S. Military, Veterans Affairs | Leave a comment

Doug Collins: Northeast GA to Benefit from Federal Land Sale

Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA-09) issued a press release yesterday concerning the federal land sale of under-used tracts of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest:

Today, Congressman Doug Collins (GA-09) introduced the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Land Adjustment Act to facilitate transfer of under-used U.S. Forest Service lands to private hands, a move to boost Northeast Georgia’s recreation and economy.

“This bill would eliminate federal waste, saving taxpayer money, and provide more opportunities to Georgians from around the state to enjoy our beautiful region,” said the Ninth District Republican.

Under Rep. Collins’ bill, H.R. 470, the Forest Service would sell remote tracts at market value and buy others with the proceeds, consolidating holdings to improve fishing, hunting and hiking. Nearby counties, currently providing unreimbursed services to federal lands, would also begin to collect tax revenue from new private owners.

The Forest Service approached conservation groups with its proposal to unload remote tracts of Georgia’s lone national forest in 2014. “This is a win at both the state and local levels,” explained Rep. Collins. “It’s an economic win, too, that will create investment and jobs.”

The Outdoor Industry Association has valued consumer spending on outdoor activities in Georgia at $23.3 billion and related wages and salaries at $7 billion. The state’s consumer spending on outdoor activity ranks 5th nationally.

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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▶ Rep. Collins Delivers Northeast Georgia’s Rebuttal to President’s State of the Union – YouTube

▶ Rep. Collins Delivers Northeast Georgia’s Rebuttal to President’s State of the Union – YouTube.

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▶ Senator David Perdue’s Address To Georgians

Senator David Perdue released a video address to Georgians last night outlining his priorities. The video was almost overlooked because it was released less than three hours before the State of the Union Speech, but anyway…

Transcript:

“Good evening, I’m David Perdue. While it’s only been a few weeks, I can tell you one thing, I’m still the outsider in Washington. What’s sorely missing from the debate is a real sense of urgency to tackle our full-blown fiscal crisis. That’s why I’m here.

“Too many people are out of work, or have stopped looking for jobs altogether. Costs for health care and education continue to skyrocket. We are now handing our kids and grandkids a mountain of debt of $18 trillion and counting. This is just unconscionable. It’s unnecessary. And it is a grave threat to our economy and our national security.

“Clearly, the current path isn’t working. Yet, what we continue to hear from the President is more of the same. Georgians see through this empty rhetoric. They expect and deserve more from their government. They want and deserve results.

“That’s why I have hit the ground running to get Washington working again for the people of Georgia and the people of this country. To bring functionality, transparency, and accountability back to the process.

“In my first few weeks in the Senate, I introduced a Georgia-based solution called the Fair Tax, co-sponsored the bipartisan Keystone jobs bill, and also co-sponsored a term limits resolution that I want to start having an active debate on, immediately.

“These are great first steps, but we have a lot more work to do to solve our debt crisis. First, we need to cut this outrageous spending. Next, in order to grow the economy, we need to simplify our tax code, roll back regulations, and unleash our full energy potential.

“It’s time for the President to get serious about working with Congress to get things done, not circumvent the Constitution every chance he gets.

“My commitment is to fight every day for you and your family, to put Georgia first, and to make sure that Washington doesn’t get in the way. Together, we can make some real changes and get the government working for the people – for us – again. Thank you, and God bless you.”

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▶ Army Recruitment Office Forced to Remove ‘God and Country’ Poster

▶ Army Recruitment Office Forced to Remove ‘God and Country’ Poster – YouTube.

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Republican National Committee Sets Debate Schedule

It’s time once again to see which candidates pound their chest the hardest trying to out-conservative each other lay out why they have the chops to win in the ’16 presidential contest against a presumed Hillary Clinton (of course, remember the last time we presumed Hillary was getting the nomination…).

Last week, the Republican National Committee released the GOP Presidential Debate schedule. A total of 9 (!!) debates have been confirmed with 3 pending for a total of up to 12 (!!!) debates among GOP contenders:

CONFIRMED:

Fox News – August 2015 in Ohio

CNN – September 2015 in California

CNBC – October 2015 in Colorado

Fox Business – November 2015 in Wisconsin

CNN – December 2015 in Nevada

Fox News – January 2016 in Iowa

ABC News – February 2016 in New Hampshire

CBS News – February 2016 in South Carolina

NBC/Telemundo – February 2016 in Florida

PENDING:

Fox News – March 2016 (Location TBD)

CNN – March 2016 (Location TBD)

Conservative Media Debate (Date and Location TBD)

Among some of the talked about contenders include, but obviously not limited to, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), former MA Gov. and ’12 nominee Mitt Romney, former FL Gov. Jeb Bush, WI Gov. Scott Walker, LA Gov. Bobby Jindal, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, former TX Gov. Rick Perry, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), former AK Gov. Sarah Palin, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI-01), and Dr. Ben Carson.

No debate drinking games have been published for 2016 (yet), so make some suggestions in the comment

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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The Meaning of MLK Day

▶ The Greatest Speech Ever – Robert F Kennedy Announcing The Death Of Martin Luther King – YouTube.

Tim Darnell posted earlier Martin Luther King Jr.’s moving last speech the night before he died.  Let me add what may be described as the first eulogy of the slain civil rights leader.

On the night of King’s assassination, Robert Kennedy stepped onto the back of a flatbed truck in the heart of an Indianapolis ghetto and informed the crowd of the death of Dr. King.  Kennedy then delivered a moving call for calm and for each of us to honor Dr. King by seeking the best in ourselves and our country.  Kennedy would himself be struck down by an assassin’s bullet two months later.

Regardless of one’s race, religion, party or ideology, Kennedy’s moving testimony that horrible night is a reminder to us all of why we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. today.

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Congressman Graves to Serve on Defense & Financial Services Appropriations Committies

Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14) announced today that he has been selected to serve on both the House Appropriation Committee’s Defense and Financial Services Subcommittees. From a press release issued by Graves’ office:

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) announced today that he was selected to serve on the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Defense and Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. In addition to these subcommittee assignments, Rep. Graves was selected in November to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch for the 114th Congress.

“These subcommittee assignments will allow me to serve my constituents even more effectively,” said Rep. Graves. “With eight major military installations in Georgia, it’s critical for our state to have representation on the Defense Subcommittee. And with the broad influence of the Financial Services Subcommittee, I’ll have the opportunity to help shape important funding legislation from a conservative viewpoint. Above all, I will work to ensure the Committee continues putting taxpayers first by finding savings and holding government agencies accountable for every dollar that is spent.”

The Defense Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Departments of Army, Navy, Air Force, Office of Secretary of Defense, Defense Agencies, Central Intelligence Agency and the Intelligence Community.

The Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Department of the Treasury, District of Columbia, the Judiciary, the Executive Office of the President and more than 20 Independent Agencies.

The House Appropriations Committee has cut over $165 billion in federal discretionary spending since Rep. Graves joined it in 2011.

Congressman Graves’ clout looks to continue to be growing within the House.

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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Wimping Out on Obamacare?

Republicans have now won two Obamacare elections, the first in 2010 and the second in 2014. (In 2012, their presidential nominee chose not to engage on the issue.) In the lead-up to their latest victory, Republicans ran far more ads against Obamacare than either party ran for or against anything else. Voters responded by giving the GOP 9 more Senate seats and 13 more House seats. The one candidate who ran on a genuine alternative to Obamacare, Ed Gillespie in Virginia, almost pulled off the upset of the night. Predicted by polls to lose by nearly ten percentage points, he lost by less than one.

One would think such resounding results would have given Republicans renewed confidence in pursuing repeal and reinvigorated interest in uniting behind a conservative alternative to pave the way to that repeal. One would expect the election to have reaffirmed the party’s long-held position that the “comprehensive,” 2,700-page overhaul of American medicine shouldn’t be “tweaked,” “fixed,” or “repaired,” but comprehensively repealed. That is, after all, what rank-and-file Republicans and a great many independ-ents surely had in mind when they cast their ballots for GOP candidates.

Unfortunately, the early signs suggest that House and Senate Republican leaders think voters sent them to Washington to make Obamacare better—on the margins, in ways that appeal to corporate interests. At a time when neither political party is doing a very good job of standing with everyday Americans, Republicans appear to be listening to the lobbyists of K Street rather than the voters on Main Street.

Witness the first weekly Republican address of the new year. In it, Republicans touted two small-ball Obama-care fixes. The first was the Hire More Heroes Act, which the House passed last week. To quote the address, that act “exempts veterans already enrolled in health care plans through the Department of Defense or the VA from being counted toward the employee limit under the health care law.” It had already passed the House last March by a vote of 406-1. Picking it as a lead-off item for the new Congress was akin to taking a vote in favor of puppies or baseball.

Worse, the address also declared that the House would act to modify Obamacare’s definition of a full-time workweek, which it proceeded to do later last week. This is an example of lawmaking that is worse than doing nothing, for it will help give Obamacare—which the Democrats passed without a single Republican vote—a layer of bipartisan gloss. If President Obama were actually executing it as written, Obamacare would require all businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide them with Obamacare-compliant health insurance. Obamacare defines full-time employees as those who work at least 30 hours a week; House Republicans voted to change that to 40 hours.

But why would Republicans want to “fix” the law in this way? The focus of Obamacare’s opponents should be on repealing and replacing the overhaul, not on repairing it—and everything they do should be with an eye toward advancing that larger goal. In the short term, therefore, they can look to pull pieces out of Obamacare—particularly pieces whose absence would simultaneously provide relief for Americans and undermine Obamacare. A fine example is the individual mandate: Americans hate it, and Obamacare relies upon it. Another good play is to highlight especially egregious sections that haven’t gotten much popular attention, such as the effective ban on building or expanding doctor-owned hospitals—a striking example of Obamacare’s rampant cronyism, and one that comes at the expense of a group with whom Republicans would be well-served to align themselves.

It is one thing to take pieces out of Obamacare in a strategic way, however, and quite another to reach inside and start actively tweaking and “fixing” it, a trap that Republicans had essentially avoided to date. If they succeed in changing the definition of full-time work from 30 to 40 hours, Republicans will put their fingerprints on Obama-care, a monstrosity not of their making, taking partial ownership of the president’s unpopular namesake.

via Wimping Out on Obamacare? | The Weekly Standard.

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US House Votes Against Obama’s Immigration Order

SO WHAT DOES THIS PROVE?  OUR CONGRESS IS STILL PLAYING POLITICS AND NOT ACCOMPLISHING THE REAL GOALS FOR AMERICA.  OUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS ARE PAYING OUR REPS AND SENATORS TO WASTE TIME.  OF COURSE, THEY HAVE LEARNED TO CRY AND POLITICALLY POSTURE AT THE RIGHT TIMES FOR “GOOD” TV/NEWS.

THIS IS A PERSONAL COMMENT BY WEBMASTER AND NOT A DIRECTION BY THE PC GOP.

By a vote of 218-209, the US House passed Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s amendment to roll back the President’s recent Executive Order on immigration. Actually, though news blurbs read that way, the Blackburn Amendment goes further and stalls new admissions to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program announced in 2012. The bill also funded the Department of Homeland Security through September of this year, despite earlier rumors that it would be de-funded in response to the President’s immigration actions.

All of Georgia’s Republican Congressman voted for the measure. None of the state’s Democrats joined them. A sampling of congressional press releases below the fold

Rep. Barry Loudermilk

By the end of his presidency, President Obama will have granted amnesty to nearly half of the illegal immigrants living in the U.S. While the majority of Americans agree we need to reform our immigration system, circumventing Congress is not the way to achieve this goal. The president is not tasked with writing laws; he is responsible for enforcing the laws that are already on the books. These unilateral actions to subvert the legislative process demonstrate a blatant disregard for our Constitution, existing immigration law, and those who came to our country legally.

Rep. Rob Woodall

Last November, President Obama made the decision to bypass the American people’s Congress – and recklessly tether the legitimate responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security to his unconstitutional actions,” said Rep. Woodall. “With this bill today, we in the House have unequivocally rejected the President’s unilateral action and overreach, while enabling the men and women within DHS to continue working diligently to keep America safe.

There is a great deal we can accomplish in the 114th Congress, and today’s vote is a clear indication of our commitment to the legislative business at hand, but it’s also a defense of the Constitution and separation of powers.

Rep. Tom Price

This legislation does exactly what House Republicans said we would do – address our homeland security needs while simultaneously taking action to halt President Obama’s unlawful executive amnesty. The president has increasingly shown little to no respect for the limits of his constitutional authority. Therefore, Congress is obligated to act, on behalf of the American people, to restore and protect the integrity of the rule of law.

Rep. Austin Scott

I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and made a promise to represent the people in Georgia’s Eighth Congressional District,” said Congressman Austin Scott. “Today, I stood with my constituents who overwhelmingly disapprove of President Obama’s dangerous overreach, and I cast my vote to defund his unlawful executive order on immigration in its entirety. With passage of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, the House of Representatives sent a clear message to the President: enforce the immigration laws that currently exist on our books and allow the Department of Homeland Security to defend our country and protect our borders. I intend to do everything in my power to uphold our country’s system of checks and balances, and I encourage the President to work with Congress towards a long-term solution.

Rep. Buddy Carter

President Obama’s executive actions are not only dangerous, they’re unconstitutional. House acted today to stand up to the President, uphold the rule of law and restore the balance of powers. It is unacceptable that the President continues to directly ignore the will of the people, the law and most importantly, the United States Constitution.

Of course, the vote is meaningless. There aren’t enough Republicans in the Senate to overturn the 60-vote filibuster, much less the Presidential veto. It’s doubtful the GOP elite even wants to revoke privileges already given. Bad optics.

In a new Congress expected to be quarrelsome, party lines held firm. But the first major vote of the term was only theater.

via US House Votes Against Obama’s Immigration Order – Peach Pundit — Peach Pundit.

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Posted in Amnesty, Editorials/ Opinions, Immigration, Liberals vs. Conservatives, Politics, The Constitution | Leave a comment