May 04 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today was one of twenty Senators to vote against the Supplemental Appropriations Act. The Senate vote was 78-20. The supplemental is meant to fund emergency spending priorities outside the normal appropriations process. “The Republican Party of old cared about numbers when it came to spending. It’s long past time our Republican majority gets back to our fiscally conservative roots. A perfect place for us to start was with a supplemental spending bill where some spending priorities defied any rational definition of being an emergency.” Graham recently signed a letter to President Bush with thirty-four other senators, including South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, saying he would vote to sustain a presidential veto if the supplemental bill spends more than the President’s $94.5 billion request. Thirty-four votes are needed to sustain a presidential veto. The final bill passed by the Senate contained $108.9 billion in spending. “I completely agree with President Bush’s view that $94.5 billion should be our outer limit on spending in this bill to rebuild the Gulf Coast and fund the War on Terror,” said Graham. “I will enthusiastically support a presidential veto if the bill comes out of the House-Senate conference over $94.5 billion.” ###

May 04 2006

(Washington, DC)-- A bill which would allow veterans to hire lawyers to represent them in their efforts to obtain federal benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been introduced by U.S. Senators Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). The legislation (S.2694 - the Veterans’ Choice of Representation Act of 2006), if enacted, would repeal restrictions flowing from a policy born nearly 150 years ago when attending law school was not required to become a lawyer and many practicing law were considered ill trained and unscrupulous. "I suppose that some would still warn that lawyers are not to be trusted, but the reality is that the laws are complex and I want veterans to have the option of hiring an attorney to help navigate the system, if they choose," said Sen. Craig, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. "A recent editorial put it this way, ‘If American soldiers are mature and responsible enough to choose to risk their lives for their country, shouldn’t they be considered competent to hire a lawyer?’ I believe the obvious answer to that question is ‘yes,’ Simply put, the current paternalistic restriction is outdated." Under current law, all 24 million living veterans are prohibited from hiring a lawyer to help them navigate the Veterans Affairs system. It is only after a veteran has spent months and even years exhausting the extensive VA administrative process that the veteran then may retain counsel – a process that often takes 3 or more years to complete. "This overdue change will significantly improve veterans’ access to the VA and expedite just outcomes," said Sen. Graham, who also serves on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. "In today’s complicated world, legal assistance in navigating the system is more timely than ever. I thank Chairman Craig for his leadership in this effort." Under the current appeals system, about 85 percent of veterans choose to be represented by Veterans’ Service Organizations or state veterans agency personnel. "I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that attorneys should be considered necessary in order to obtain VA benefits," Chairman Craig said. "We must ensure that the system continues to serve veterans in a friendly, non-adversarial manner – regardless of the presence of an attorney or any other representative. I also want to be clear that, although I believe veterans should have the option to hire attorneys, they should not be discouraged in any way from utilizing the valuable free services now provided by many dedicated representatives of veterans’ service organizations." ####

May 04 2006

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham announced a $4,469,789 grant under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to the City of Greenville. The grant falls under the COPS Interoperable Communications Technology Program and is one of only three awarded nationally. “These funds will allow local law enforcement and fire and medical service communities to have the ability to share critical information and significantly increase public safety,” said Senator DeMint. “First responders and emergency personnel risk their lives every day to protect others,” said Senator Graham. “They are the first line of defense during natural disasters and other emergencies. This grant will help provide them with the technology they need to save lives.” Communications interoperability refers to the ability to talk across disciplines and jurisdictions via radio communications networks on demand, in real time when needed, and as authorized. One of the major issues currently facing emergency services providers is the inability of first responders to communicate with one another. This grant is a regional effort, affecting Greenville, Spartanburg, Laurens and Pickens. Greenville City Police Chief W. L. Johnson said, “This is going to connect Law Enforcement in four counties where we will have interoperability for day-to-day police activities and for crisis response. It is a huge step forward for law enforcement in the Upstate of South Carolina, and something that could not be done on our own. The federal government has provided a way through this grant program.” The funds will offset the cost of purchasing voice and data communications equipment, enhancing communications infrastructures, and project management. The COPS Office awarded 26 agencies nearly $93 million in FY2005 to address this growing need through the COPS Interoperable Communications Technology grant program. This initiative was coordinated with the Office of Justice Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the SAFECOM Program. Targeted agencies were invited to apply for funding for both voice and data interoperability projects. In addition to these 2005 grants, the COPS Office awarded 37 projects across the nation totaling $149 million in fiscal years 2003 & 2004. ###

May 01 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made the following statement after the release of the Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports. The report concludes that by 2017 Social Security will begin to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes and will be insolvent in 2040, one year earlier than previous estimates. Medicare reserve funds will be exhausted by 2018, two years earlier than previously believed. “The latest report proves that time is not on our side when it comes to reforming Social Security and Medicare. Every year we fail to address these issues makes the solution more difficult. “In the Senate I have proposed several combinations that would lead to Social Security solvency. Many of my Republican colleagues have done the same. Unfortunately, no member of the Democratic Party has come on board. When it comes to Social Security and Medicare reform, the Democratic Party solution seems to be blame Republicans. It needs to end. “The number of workers paying taxes to support Social Security dropped from 16-to-1 in 1950 to 3-to-1 today. Within a generation there will be only 2 workers to support each retiree. The consequences of ignoring the demographic time bomb facing Social Security are severe. If we fail to modernize the system we will be forced to either raise payroll taxes 50 percent or cut benefits by one-third. The first choice poses a significant risk to the economy and the second devastates tens of millions of seniors. We can fix Social Security if we roll up our sleeves and get to work. To do nothing is political malpractice.” #####

May 01 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced 500 new jobs will be coming to the Savannah River Site (SRS) this year. The jobs are related to construction of the MOX facility at SRS which will begin later this year. “This is welcome news for Savannah River Site, the MOX program, and the state,” said Graham. “The MOX program is incredibly important to the Site, nation, and world. I’m glad we are taking steps to get the construction and eventual operation of the facility moving forward.” The first phase will see approximately 200 employees from the MOX contractor, Duke Cogema Stone & Webster (DCS), transition from their current offices in Charlotte to the Site by the end of the year. The bulk of these employees are expected to move this summer. These employees will be involved in managing the MOX facility construction and startup activities, providing engineering support during the construction phase, and obtaining an operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In addition, DCS says it plans to hire approximately 320 subcontractor employees for construction by the end of the year. These employees will perform construction activities, such as excavating the MOX facility site, pouring the concrete foundation, and installing equipment. In 2000, the U.S. and Russia agreed to dispose of 68 metric tons (34 metric tons each) of surplus, weapon-grade plutonium by turning it into MOX fuel for use in existing, commercial nuclear reactors. Once the MOX fuel has been created and irradiated in a nuclear reactor, the plutonium can no longer be used for nuclear weapons. Sixty-eight metric tons of plutonium is enough material for 17,000 nuclear weapons. “The congressional delegation is committed to ensuring the MOX program becomes a reality and today we are taking another step forward,” said Graham. “The MOX program is vital to our national security and we will continue to work together to ensure it is adequately funded. The citizens of South Carolina, along with the Savannah River Site workforce, should be proud of the role we are playing in making the world a safer place.” #####

Apr 28 2006

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham announced today a Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant totaling nearly $5 million to the Alligator Rural Water and Sewer Company in the city of Chesterfield. “These funds are a key resource to rural communities who cannot fully absorb the costs of developing these systems,” said Senator DeMint. “I applaud those involved for their efforts to secure the necessary local support to pursue these funds.” “The funds for this project will help provide a safe and dependable water supply for residents of the area,” said Graham. “Key infrastructure improvements like this help with future development and I hope this pays dividends for years to come. I’m optimistic and encouraged about the impact this project will have on the future of the community.” The funds come in the form of a $2,139,300 grant and a $2,784,000 loan from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development. The USDA Rural Development promotes economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks and community-managed lending pools. They offer technical assistance and information to help agricultural and other cooperatives get started and improve the effectiveness of their member services and provide technical assistance to help communities undertake community empowerment programs. “I want to thank Senators Graham and DeMint for their hard work and dedication to the rural areas of South Carolina,” said Tee Miller South Carolina State Director for USDA Rural Development. The Rural Development funds will be used to construct a new deep well, a 1,000 gpm booster pump station, a 1,500,000 gallon storage tank, approximately 32,700 ft. of water line, and related appurtenance. The project will tie into Alligator’s existing system and will increase Alligator’s pumping and transmission capacity. This project will provide an adequate source of water both in quality and quantity, to over 85% of the residents of Chesterfield County. Approximately 36,000 Chesterfield County residents will benefit from this project. ###

Apr 28 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today signed on as a sponsor to the Gas Price Reduction Act which temporarily suspends through September 30 the 18.4 cents a gallon federal gas tax. The plan reimburses the Highway Trust fund an equal amount by suspending certain tax credits and royalties for the major oil companies. “This is a temporary relief measure,” said Graham. “I hope it will be followed by a longer-term strategy to wean our nation of our dependence on foreign sources of oil. As a nation, we must become more energy independent.” Graham noted the gas tax roll back plan introduced by Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) didn’t take money away from the Highway Trust Fund and reduce South Carolina’s share of highway funds which are spent on maintenance and upkeep. The revenue lost by the suspension of the federal gas tax will be replaced by reducing, canceling, and reallocating previous tax credits and royalty payments to the major oil companies. “I know what high gas prices mean to citizens and businesses in South Carolina,” said Graham. “Increased fuel prices hits everyone – from families, to those on fixed incomes, to our businesses -- very hard. With the price of a barrel of oil over $70, these tax credits and royalty waivers are not needed by the oil companies. It’s only appropriate to do away with these breaks.” During his service in the House of Representatives and Senate, Graham has repeatedly voted to open the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration. The provision has been blocked in the Senate for years. Graham also serves as the co-chair of the Senate Hydrogen Caucus and has been a strong supporter of research and development of hybrid vehicles and hydrogen-powered automobiles. The passage into law last year of the Energy Bill contained more than $3.5 billion in funding over the next 5 years for hydrogen research. The hydrogen provisions in the bill were largely based upon language authored by Graham and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota). “As for the long term, I think it would be irresponsible if 50 years from now we’re still reliant on Middle Eastern oil to drive our national economy,” said Graham. “We need to get away from fossil fuels and start looking at using different sources of energy such as hydrogen.” “Our state is a national leader in hydrogen research,” said Graham. “USC is developing fuel cells, Clemson is working on hydrogen vehicles, and Savannah River Site (SRS) is a leading research facility on hydrogen technologies. What Detroit was to the automotive industry, South Carolina can be to hydrogen.” #####

Apr 26 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Abbeville County Memorial Hospital will receive a $180,000 grant to support rural health network development. The hospital is partnering with Lakelands Rural Health Network to develop a collaborative, economically viable health network to improve the quality of care in Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, McCormick, and Saluda counties. The funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ####

Apr 26 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Williamsburg County will receive a $1,724,300 grant and a $2,102,000 loan for water infrastructure improvements. The funds will be used to install approximately 25 miles of water distribution lines in the South Williamsburg area. “The area has been identified by the Department of Health and Environmental Control as an environmentally distressed area,” said Graham. “The funds for this project will help provide a safe and dependable water supply for residents of the area. Key infrastructure improvements like this help with future development and I hope this pays dividends for years to come. I’m optimistic and encouraged about the impact this project will have on the future of the community.” The funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. “USDA Rural Development is committed to the future of South Carolina’s rural communities,” said Tee Miller, South Carolina State Director of USDA Rural Development. “The infrastructure built with these funds is an investment in the future of Williamsburg County." ####

Apr 25 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the town of Lake View will receive an $842,900 grant and a $1,161,000 loan for improvements to the town’s wastewater treatment facility. The funds will be used for an intermittent sand filter, a chlorine contact tank, an effluent pumping station, and a 33 acre spray field. The funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ####