Jan 28 2008

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made these comments on President Bush’s State of the Union Address.

Economy and Earmarks:

"Two major items Congress should focus on if we want to ensure a strong economy in future years are making the Bush tax cuts permanent and getting a grip on how we spend the taxpayer’s hard-earned dollar.

"I hope Congress will join with the President to make the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent. If the tax cuts are not made permanent, 116 million Americans will see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800. Making the tax cuts permanent will help business and individuals plan for the future and know what their long-term tax liability will be. It’s time to get this done.

"President Bush is also right to call for a reduction in both the number and dollar amount of congressional earmarks. While I don’t have a problem with Congress having a say in how the federal government spends money, I also believe the earmarking process has gotten way out of hand.

"When Congress is spending $250 million on a bridge to serve 50 people, it’s pretty obvious the process is broken. Hopefully, the President’s proposal will help get us back on the right track when it comes to spending the taxpayer’s dollar."

Iraq and the Global War on Terror:

"The situation in Iraq looks quite different than it did one year ago.

"At that time, many in the Congress were fighting against the surge. Some were preparing to say the war in Iraq was lost while others were preparing for an American defeat. Thanks to a new strategy, new commander, and the hard work of our brave men and women in uniform, we have seen a phenomenal turnaround in Iraq.

"While there remains more work to be done, now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to embrace the positive effects of the surge and build upon the successes that have been achieved. We should also offer our thanks and appreciation to our American troops and commanders. They have truly made us proud."

Graham on First Lieutenant Andrew Kinard (USMC) in Attendance as a Guest of the First Lady

"The First Lady could not have found a more deserving young Marine to honor than Andrew Kinard. Andrew represents the bravery of all of our men and women serving in Iraq. He is a wonderful young man who makes us all proud."

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Dec 19 2007

Graham Opposes Omnibus Spending Legislation

Supports McConnell Amendment Providing $70 Billion in Funding for Troops in Iraq

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) last night voted against the 3,417 page, $550 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government.  The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 76-17 and awaits action by the House of Representatives.  President Bush is expected to sign it into law if it reaches his desk.

“Simply put, the downside was greater than the upside,” said Graham.  “After careful consideration I came to the conclusion there were some worthwhile provisions, but just not enough to justify a vote in support. 

Graham said changes in border security provisions and earmarking were major reasons for his no vote.

Secure Fence Act Undermined by the Omnibus:

Graham noted the omnibus made significant changes to the Secure Fence Act which was signed into law last year.  Earlier this year, Graham secured $3 billion in emergency funding through the Graham Amendment for improved border security and additional border fencing as called for in the Secure Fence Act.  The omnibus, while providing much of the funding sought in the Graham Amendment ($2.7 billion), institutes bureaucratic and policy changes which will make it more difficult to actually construct the fence. 

Among the changes are removing requirements for double-layer fencing and replacing it with single-layer fencing. The omnibus also creates new bureaucratic hurdles including additional reporting requirements from the Department of Homeland Security and approval of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees before funds can be spent on the border fence.

“The legislation makes changes in the planned construction of the more than 700 miles of fencing along our southern border which are troubling” said Graham.  “In the name of providing flexibility, I think we may end up slowing construction.  I want funding for the fence and the ability to build the fence with limited interference.”   

“In the age of terrorism, regaining operational control of our nation’s borders is a national security issue of the highest order,” said Graham.  “The term ‘operational control’ is a military term, and I look at this effort to secure our border as a military operation.  If we are serious about border security, our actions need to match our words.  When it comes to securing our border, the omnibus does not accomplish those objectives.”

Earmarks ‘Air Dropped’ into the Omnibus:

Graham also expressed concern about the sheer number and manner in which some earmarks were included.  The legislation contained over 9,000 earmarks, including 300 which were ‘air-dropped’ into the final legislation.  ‘Air dropping’ means these earmarks were not passed by either the House or Senate during previous consideration of spending bills.  They also were not subject to a point of order, amendment or debate on the floor, or questioning of their merit.

“Earmarks are a legitimate way to ensure funding is included for projects important in our states, but the process must be clear, transparent, and not abused,” said Graham.  “The omnibus did not meet that standard.  The final legislation included several hundred earmarks which were air dropped into the legislation at the last possible minute.  We can and must do better.”

Graham noted the positive aspects of the legislation including the overall spending number was less than previous versions and inclusion of the McConnell Amendment providing $70 billion in funding for operations in Iraq.

“The McConnell Amendment was a major victory for the President’s policies in Iraq,” said Graham.  “General Petraeus and all under his command have earned the right to continue pushing forward in Iraq.  It would have been a huge mistake to withhold or not provide them funding.  Our troops now have the funding they need without strings attached.  I’m pleased we passed the McConnell Amendment and also beat back several Democratic attempts to micromanage the Iraq war.”

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Dec 19 2007

WASHINGTON – Last week, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007 (Farm Bill).  U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, the only member from South Carolina who serves on the Agriculture Committee in either the House or the Senate, voted in support of the legislation which passed 79-14.

Among the major features:

• Extends commodity programs for producers;

• Reauthorizes conservation, agriculture research, rural development, energy, and food assistance programs;

• Establishes incentives for farmers to invest in the production and conversion of renewable biomass, such as cellulosic ethanol, to energy;

• Establishes a Rural Collaborative Investment program that would bolster economic development in rural regions by providing grants for projects created by local government, business and nonprofit organizations;

• Reauthorizes key programs such as the Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Fruit and Vegetable Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, foreign food assistance programs, and rural programs such as community facility funding, broadband service, rural/waste water grants.

“I know how important these programs are to our state’s farmers and communities,” said Graham.  “Agriculture is the second largest industry in South Carolina and our rural communities depend on the development funds included in this bill,” said Graham.  “I am pleased we were able to come together and approve a farm bill that maintains current farm programs and includes increased funding for nutrition, specialty crops, conservation and energy programs.”

“I am especially pleased by the provisions relating to energy programs and our farming community,” said Graham.  “This bill takes important strides towards energy independence and the protection of our environment through the authorization of energy programs that build on the potential of cellulose-based ethanol as an alternative energy source.”

Graham worked to include additional grant programs that could benefit research and training being conducted in South Carolina.  These include expanding research conducted on forage-fed beef systems and a New Era Rural Technology Program that would provide grant money to community colleges for training an agriculture workforce in bio-energy, and the pulp and paper industry.  The legislation also includes a Graham-backed provision that would provide economic adjustment assistance in the amount of 4 cents per pound to textile manufacturers for the modernization of equipment and operations.

Graham noted there are several reform provisions in the bill such as a reduction in payment limits over the life of the bill that would prohibit payments to producers whose adjusted gross income exceeds $750,000 and who earn less than two-thirds of their income from farming.  Under current law, payments are prohibited to producers with incomes above $2.5 million and who make less than three-fourths of their income from farming.  The Senate bill would also ban some farmers from collecting payments for multiple farm businesses.

“This farm bill is not perfect and everyone would admit that there are some things in this bill that they don’t like,” said Graham.  “However, I am proud that through much negotiation an acceptable middle ground was reached.  As a matter of national security, we must support programs that will ensure a reliable and constant food supply for all Americans.”

In addition to broad support in the Senate, the legislation is also backed by various farming groups including the American Farm Bureau, South Carolina Farm Bureau, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, the National Cotton Council, the South Carolina Cotton Farmers, the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, and the American Soybean Association.

“Farmers are in the midst of planning for the new crop year and are at a distinct disadvantage in not knowing how farm programs will be structured for the coming year,” said Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture.  “We appreciate Senator Graham's efforts in securing passage of the Senate Bill and look forward to following the process of negotiating a Farm Bill that will provide the security farmers need as they begin planning their intentions for 2008."

The bill will now go to conference committee with the House of Representatives.

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Dec 18 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on comments by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) who criticized Iraq war supporters for their “consistent support of a failed strategy that has kept out troops mired in an endless civil war.”

The Majority Leader made his comments after an advertisement featuring Graham began running in South Carolina.  The advertisement referenced Reid’s April comment claiming the Iraq war ‘is lost.’

Graham said:

“Senator Reid was wrong to say the Iraq war was ‘lost’ before the surge even began.  Now he is wrong to continue claiming the surge has not been successful.  Frankly, he’s trying to deny the obvious. 

“The surge has been one of the most successful counter-insurgency military operations in American history. 

“If we had mistakenly followed Senator Reid’s advice, Al Qaeda would now have a safe haven in a chaotic Iraq and moderate forces there would be under siege.

“Thanks to a successful surge, Al Qaeda has been severely pounded and is now on the run.  Simply put, the surge has been Al Qaeda’s worst nightmare.  The better security situation on the ground has provided breathing room for the forces of moderation in Iraq to begin reconciling at the local level while Iraqi security forces continue to improve by the day. 

“There is no doubt our success has come at a high price.  Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines continue to serve honorably and every success we have in Iraq only comes about because of their heroic sacrifices. 

“It’s about time Senator Reid gives our troops the credit they deserve for their historic achievements.”

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Dec 18 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) and Congressman Gresham Barrett (SC, 03) today urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to come to a final agreement with Aiken, Barnwell, and Allendale counties on a proposed Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) for federal Savannah River Site (SRS) land within the respective counties.

If the agreement is accepted, the counties of Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell will receive a revised PILT from DOE.

“I hope that the proposed PILT hastens movement toward a revised agreement between DOE and Aiken County,” said Congressman Gresham Barrett. “The local and the federal government have been great partners as it relates to SRS, and I am encouraged by the fact that both understand the importance of reaching an agreement that is fair and just for all parties.  I look forward to making the formal announcement on the renewed agreement at SRS with DOE in the near future.”

“I am pleased at the progress all parties have made in negotiating a new PILT agreement,” said Graham.  “The counties are to be commended for working with DOE to negotiate an agreement fair to all.  I look forward to working with DOE and the counties to bring discussions to a positive conclusion.”

Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell County Councils entered into an agreement with DOE/SRS in 1991 on conditions that each county would receive an annual PILT for the county acreage value covered within SRS land. At the initial time of the negotiations, it was agreed that subsequent reviews were to be conducted to reevaluate the value of the SRS land.

Graham and Barrett hope a formal announcement with DOE officials on the agreed PILT can be made in January.

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Dec 14 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced he will oppose efforts to apply the Army Field Manual to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

A provision added by Democrats in a House-Senate conference committee on the Intelligence Authorization Bill for FY 2008 would require all American interrogators – including the CIA -- to abide by the Army Field Manual.  The House of Representatives passed the provision yesterday by a vote of 222-199.  President Bush has threatened to veto the legislation over the provision.

Graham is one of several Senators who have placed a hold on the legislation and made clear they will strongly oppose it should it come up for a Senate vote.

“It would be a colossal mistake for us to apply the Army Field Manual to the operations of the CIA,” said Graham.  “I’ve been fully briefed on the current CIA program to interrogate high value targets.  It is aggressive, effective, lawful and in compliance with our legal obligations.  The Democratic provision will destroy the CIA program.

“I believe in flexibility for the CIA program within the boundaries of current law,” continued Graham.  “The CIA must have the ability to gather intelligence for the War on Terror.  In this new war, knowledge of the enemy and its plan is vitally important and the Democratic provision will weaken our intelligence gathering operations.”

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Dec 13 2007

Washington – Smuggling illegal aliens across the U.S. border would become a felony offense punishable by five years in prison – per victim – under legislation introduced today by Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Under current law, alien smuggling is a misdemeanor.

Each year, between 700,000 to 800,000 people enter the United States illegally, according to the Pew Research Center. A large number of these illegal crossings are organized by criminal smugglers, yet this year there have been only 2,661 prosecutions under the federal alien smuggling statute.

The Alien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Law Enforcement Act of 2007 (S. 2463) amends the current alien smuggling statute to make it a felony offense to smuggle, recruit, transport or harbor illegal aliens.

The Bayh-Graham legislation includes even stiffer maximum penalties for those who smuggle for financial gain (10 years); for repeat offenders (15 years); for cases involving physical assault (20 years); terrorism facilitation (30 years) and kidnapping, rape or attempted murder (life).

“Alien smuggling is a transnational crime problem that poses a significant risk to national security and public safety,” Senator Bayh said. “Those who break our immigration laws for financial gain deserve more than a slap on the wrist. This legislation sends a message to U.S. attorneys that we want these offenders federally prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.”

“This is an area of immigration reform where the Congress can come together and find common ground,” Senator Graham said. “I don’t think there’s any question the existing penalties for alien smuggling are insufficient. Our legislation will give prosecutors and law enforcement stronger tools to crack down on the terrible trade in human cargo. It will also create a deterrent effect for smuggling people into the United States, particularly for those doing it for profit. The legislation passed the House in an overwhelming fashion. I’m hopeful we can get it to the president’s desk in short order.”

It is estimated that the international alien smuggling and sex trafficking trade generates $9.5 billion for criminal organizations worldwide, and the profits are used to finance additional criminal enterprises, such as the trafficking of drugs, weapons or other contraband. Smugglers endanger the safety and lives of those who are seeking to enter our country by subjecting them to physical abuse, rape and subjected to deplorable and dangerous conditions by their smugglers.

A companion version of the alien smuggling legislation authored by Congressman Baron Hill (D-IN) passed the House of Representatives in May by a vote of 412-0.

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Dec 05 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. U.S. in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Earlier today Graham attended the Supreme Court oral arguments on these cases where lawyers for the detainees challenging their detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba argued their case. 

Graham played a key role in drafting the Military Commissions Act and authored a provision which denies detainees unfettered access to sue in federal court.

He said:

“I’m cautiously optimistic the Supreme Court will not strike down the Military Commissions Act and allow Al Qaeda members the unprecedented right to bring lawsuits in our federal court system.

“Never in the history of warfare have enemy prisoners been able to bring lawsuits challenging their detention.  Thousands of Germans and Japanese soldiers were captured and held by the military during World War II.  Not one case was allowed in federal court where they were allowed to sue for their release. 

“I’m hopeful the Court will understand the Congress has spoken loud and clear on this matter.  Before the MCA was signed into law, enemy combatants were filing frivolous suits requesting better mail delivery, more exercise, judge-supervised interrogation, Internet access, the right to view DVDs and alleging medical malpractice.

“It would be a monumental mistake for the Supreme Court to give enemy combatants – members of Al Qaeda -- the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen.  I hope the Court does not go down that road.”

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Dec 04 2007

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has introduced legislation strengthening the rights of parents in the education of their children.

“The rights of parents are under assault from school districts, teachers unions, and activist judges,” said Graham.  “Parental rights do not and should not end at the schoolhouse door.”

In November 2005, a group of California parents brought suit against their school district for not being fully informed about a questionnaire given to their children containing strong sexual and violent content. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the parents claiming their rights do not, “extend beyond the threshold of the school door.”  The court also stated that once parents choose to enroll their children in a particular educational program, they have no right to determine what information their children are exposed to at school, nor do they have the right to be the sole provider of sexual information to their children

The Parents’ Rights Empowerment and Protection Act (PREP) seeks to address the problems with the Court’s ruling.  The legislation:

  • requires any educational institution receiving federal funds to obtain the affirmative, informed, written consent of the parent before requesting or conveying information to the child on matters related to sex or sexuality;
  • creates a private right of action for parents if an educational institution violates the required consent provisions;
  • temporarily cuts off federal funds for schools found to be in violation of this statute; and
    reaffirms parents are primarily responsible for the care, health, and education of their children.

“It is unfortunate that this legislation is needed, but without it there is no way to correct an egregious court decision by the Ninth Circuit,” said Graham.  “Eliminating parental input regarding public school decisions is a disaster for public schools.  The last thing we need to do is to alienate or destroy parental involvement in public education.”

U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), and James Inhofe (R-OK) have signed on as co-sponsors.  The American Center for Law and Justice, Eagle Forum and Family Research Council have expressed support for the legislation.

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Nov 29 2007

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the death of former Illinois Representative Henry Hyde.

“I admired Henry Hyde as much as anyone I have ever served with in the Congress.  His death is both a personal loss and a real loss for the country.  

“In the effort to protect the unborn, there was no better advocate than Henry Hyde.  The Hyde Amendment, which essentially banned federal funding of abortions, remains the gold standard of the pro-life movement.  

“As most people know, my association with Henry came to a head during the impeachment of former President Clinton.  Henry was the leader of the House Managers presenting the case to the Senate.  I will always remember his understanding of the Constitution and the steady, sound leadership he provided.  Henry Hyde truly was a legendary figure in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

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