Jul 28 2005

Graham, DeMint to Help Pass Highway Bill

Legislation Restrains Spending, Benefits South Carolina

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, South Carolina’s Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint announced their support for the House-Senate highway conference report. The surface transportation bill provides $286.4 billion in federal highway contract authority between 2004 and 2009, and is expected to pass the Senate and the House later this week. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation soon after. “I’m very pleased we were able to get a deal that is more responsible for taxpayers,” said Senator DeMint, a member of the House and Senate conference committee. “This bill is not perfect but it’s a good step forward. I would have liked it to spend even less overall and to return even more to South Carolina, but this bill is a good compromise that stays within the budget and provides important benefits for our state.” “The highway bill is very good news for motorists in South Carolina,” said Graham. “As a state, we were able to secure a more equitable funding formula which will put additional dollars toward our road system. It truly moves the ball forward in our efforts to build new roads while maintaining and improving the ones we currently have. I’m also pleased we were able to do it without breaking the federal bank. The bill is more fiscally responsible than the first version of the highway bill Senator DeMint and I voted against.” In May, Senators DeMint and Graham voted against the original version of the bill that significantly exceeded budget authority. Their opposition, along with a veto threat from the President, pressured negotiators to agree on a more responsible bill that limits the six-year cost to $286.4 billion from fiscal year 2004 through fiscal 2009. Negotiators originally wanted to pass a $375 billion bill but the final compromise was much less, saving taxpayers over billions of dollars. The highway conference report includes several important benefits for South Carolina secured by Senators Graham and DeMint. Under the new highway program, a better formula will return more federal gas tax dollars to South Carolina. South Carolina will ultimately receive 92 percent back on every dollar it sends to Washington in gas taxes, which is a meaningful increase from the 90.5 percent the state has received since 1998. The bill authorizes a total of over $2.9 billion for South Carolina over the six-year life of the program, an increase of nearly twenty-eight percent. The conference report also includes a new safety program that will give states greater flexibility in addressing safety needs. This program will provide for safety improvements such as adding rumble strips, widening lanes, installing guard rails, and creating additional signage. All public roads are eligible for this new safety funding, benefiting states like South Carolina that have a high percentage of state-maintained roads. “This bill accomplishes one of my top goals for the year by giving our state more control over our highway dollars,” DeMint said. “But much more still needs to be done. I hope that the next reauthorization will address serious reforms and give states full control over their highways. The federal program was created to develop an interstate highway system, but that system has been created and now we need to let the states run it.” “I truly appreciate the work done by Jim [DeMint] and Henry [Brown] on the highway bill,” said Graham. “They’ve been leaders in this area and we all owe them a debt of gratitude for what they’ve been able to accomplish. Making sure our state was treated in a fair and equitable manner was a team effort, but these two guys served as team captains and deserve a great deal of credit.” In addition to several important policy changes the conference report provides a fair share for South Carolina by authorizing over $2.9 billion in funding for transportation and infrastructure projects all across South Carolina. Specifically, the bill provides for $81 million in authorized funding for I-73 in the Pee Dee, $26.6 million for US-278 in Beaufort County, $11.6 million for the Palmetto Parkway in Aiken County, $6.8 million for Highway 9 in Spartanburg County, $4 million for Highway 5 in York County, among many others. ######

Jul 28 2005

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the South Carolina Department of Public Safety will receive a $5,802,326 grant to support crime prevention and control activates. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant will be used to improve cooperative efforts among federal, state, and local agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Funds will primarily be used to address the lack of resources available to law enforcement. In addition, money will be spent to improve criminal justice records, court system efficiency, substance abuse treatment, and crime prevention. Graham noted that several cities and one county were also awarded grants under the same program yesterday:
  • The City of Aiken will receive $14,282 to purchase nine computers which will allow officers in the field to download information to the main computer in the station.
  • The City of Conway will receive $21,843 to purchase a digital recording system to be placed in the dispatch center.
  • The City of North Myrtle Beach will receive $10,722 to purchase tasers.
  • Sumter County will receive $59,529 to purchase mobile data terminals, tasers, and bullet proof vests.
  • The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice. ####

Jul 28 2005

Highway Bill Nearer Budget Target

Betters South Carolina's Return Ratio; Has Funds for Needed Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) joined U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in announcing support for the House-Senate highway conference report. The bill promises to return to South Carolina at least 92 percent of the gas taxes collected in South Carolina. In the previous highway bills (renewed every 6 years) South Carolina's return ratio has been as low as 81 percent. The House-passed version of the bill called for expenditures of $284 billion between 2004 and 2009; the Senate-passed version would have spent $295 billion; and the conferees settled at $286.4 billion. The conference report is expected to pass the Senate and the House later this week, and President Bush is expected to sign the legislation soon after. “With pressure from the President and the budget resolution, the conferees stayed closer to the overall spending level of the House. That's good,” Inglis said. “With pressure from the donor states, the conferees got us to a 92 percent return ratio. That's even better.” The conference report contains $19 million for road projects in South Carolina's Fourth District. In a victory for fiscal accountability, those amounts (as well as all amounts earmarked for districts across the country) are included in the determination of the “return ratio.” “The highway bill is very good news for motorists in South Carolina,” said Senator Graham. “As a state, we were able to secure a more equitable funding formula which will put additional dollars toward our road system. It truly moves the ball forward in our efforts to build new roads while maintaining and improving the ones we currently have. I truly appreciate Bob’s work in the House helping ensure our needs were met and interests were protected.” “The funding for these projects will improve our infrastructure and make South Carolina more competitive while also improving safety and our quality of life,” said Senator DeMint. “Bob worked hard to make Fourth District needs a priority in Washington, and his efforts should be commended. I also want to personally thank Lindsey for his leadership and help to ensure South Carolina was treated fairly throughout this process.” Notable Funding for Fourth District Projects: West Georgia Rd, Greenville- $3,600,000 ICAR roads, Greenville- $6,800,000 Greenville Multimodal Center, Greenville- $1,000,000 Brockman-McClimon Interchange, Spartanburg- $800,000 SC 9, Spartanburg- $6,800,000 Hub City Connector, Spartanburg- $800,000 ####

Jul 28 2005

HIGHWAY BILL DELIVERS OVER $125 MILLION TO 1st DISTRICT

Brown, Graham, DeMint Help Secure Needed Funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Henry Brown (R-S.C.) joined U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in announcing over $125 million in the House-Senate highway conference report to fund road projects in the First Congressional District of South Carolina. The surface transportation bill provides $286.4 billion in federal highway contract authority between 2004 and 2009, and is expected to pass the Senate and the House later this week. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation soon after. "As we complete the highway authorization bill, I feel that we have crafted legislation that both enhances the Nation's highway infrastructure and also significantly benefits the First District," said Congressman Henry Brown. "Jim and Lindsey helped form a powerful team in the Senate, and I am deeply appreciative of their assistance and of their leadership. Not only have we been able to secure a higher rate of return at 92% by 2008, but we have guaranteed that South Carolina's most critical highway project, I-73, has every opportunity to be accomplished. I-73 will provide much needed congestion relief and economic development that will allow the Grand Strand region to continue its strong growth. I would also like to thank John Spratt for his contribution of $8 million to I-73." “The highway bill is very good news for motorists in South Carolina,” said Senator Graham. “As a state, we were able to secure a more equitable funding formula which will put additional dollars toward our road system. It truly moves the ball forward in our efforts to build new roads while maintaining and improving the ones we currently have. I truly appreciate the work done by Jim and Henry on the highway bill. They’ve been leaders in this area and we all owe them a debt of gratitude for what they’ve been able to accomplish. Making sure our state was treated in a fair and equitable manner was a team effort, but these two guys served as team captains and deserve a great deal of credit for what our state was able to accomplish.” “The funding for these projects will improve our infrastructure and make South Carolina more competitive while also improving safety and our quality of life,” said Senator DeMint. “It was great to work with Henry on the conference committee. He worked tirelessly to make sure our priorities were addressed, and his efforts should be applauded. We are especially excited about I-73, and we will continue to work for its completion. I also want to personally thank Lindsey for his leadership and help to ensure South Carolina was treated fairly throughout this process.” Overall, the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU) will authorize $2.9 billion to South Carolina’s highway, highway safety and transit programs. This is a total increase of nearly 28 percent over TEA-21. In addition to formula monies, several specific projects in the First District will receive significant funding, as described in the attached list. Most notable of these items is I-73, which has been earmarked $81 million. I-73 is also designated as a Project of Regional and National Significance, which qualifies the highway for significant future funding from the federal government. Notable Funding for 1st District Projects: North Rhett Boulevard, Berkeley- $5,600,000 Railroad Avenue Extension, Berkeley- $1,600,000 Port Access Road, Charleston- $10,000,000 Demolition of Old Cooper River Bridges, Charleston- $5,000,000 MUSC Roadway Enhancements, Charleston- $3,200,000 US 17/Bowman Road Interchange, Charleston- $4,800,000 Extension of the Mark Clark Expressway, Charleston- $3,000,000 Berlin Myers Interchange, Charleston- $6,400,000 Construction of I-73, Horry- $81,000,000 Carolina Bays Parkway, Horry- $2,400,000 701 Connector, Horry- $4,000,000 ####

Jul 28 2005

Highway Bill Delivers over $21 Million to 3rd District

Barrett, Graham, DeMint Help Secure Needed Funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) joined U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in announcing over $21 million in the House-Senate highway conference report to fund road projects in the Third Congressional District of South Carolina. The surface transportation bill provides $286.4 billion in federal highway contract authority between 2004 and 2009, and is expected to pass the Senate and the House later this week. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation soon after. "I appreciate Senator DeMint's efforts as a conferee to help secure funding for these projects," said Congressman Barrett. "This funding will go a long way toward improving the transportation infrastructure and safety of roadways and bridges throughout the Third District. Additionally, I thank Senator Graham for his continued dedication to the people of the Third District." "The highway bill is very good news for motorists in South Carolina," said Senator Graham. "As a state, we were able to secure a more equitable funding formula which will put additional dollars toward our road system. It truly moves the ball forward in our efforts to build new roads while maintaining and improving the ones we currently have. I truly appreciate Gresham's work in the House helping ensure our needs were met and interests were protected." "The funding for these projects will improve our infrastructure and make South Carolina more competitive while also improving safety and our quality of life," said Senator DeMint. "I sincerely appreciate Gresham's hard work in securing these funds, as he fought to make sure the Third District's priorities were given attention. I also want to personally thank Lindsey for his leadership and help to ensure South Carolina was treated fairly throughout this process." Notable Funding for Third District Projects: Palmetto Parkway, Aiken- $11,600,000 Replace Milford Rd Bridge, Anderson- $400,000 Replace Murphy Rd West, Anderson- $188,000 Replace Murphy Rd East Bridge, Anderson- $212,000 Extension of Wells Highway, Oconee- $3,600,000 Interchange at I-385 and SC-14, Laurens- $3,760,000 Frontage Rd, Laurens- $2,240,000 ####

Jul 27 2005

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Senate passed the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act and the Southern Campaign of the Revolution Heritage Area Study Act. Both measures were included as part of a larger bill that included other heritage and interior-related legislation. The purpose of the Gullah/Geechee heritage corridor is to:
  • Recognize the important contributions made to American culture and history by African-Americans known as the Gullah/Geechee who settled in the coastal counties of South Carolina and Georgia.
  • Assist state and local governments and public and private entities in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida in interpreting the story of the Gullah/Geechee and preserving Gullah/Geechee folklore, arts, crafts, and music.
  • Assist in identifying and preserving sites, historical data, artifacts, and objects associated with the Gullah/Geechee for the benefit and education of the public.
“I would like to thank my colleagues in the Senate for coming together to assist us in preserving a piece of South Carolina’s heritage,” said Graham. “It’s important we recognize the contributions of these South Carolinians and pass along their story to future generations.” “I would also like to thank my colleague Jim Clyburn for his efforts in pushing this forward,” said Graham. “He has been a tireless champion of the bill in the House and it is my hope that we will soon see this become a reality.” Graham noted that in addition to the Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor Act the bill also contained the Southern Campaign of the Revolution Heritage Area Study Act. The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to study and report on the suitability and feasibility of designating specified South Carolina counties, cities, and public sites as the Southern Campaign of the Revolution Heritage Area. South Carolina has over 200 Revolutionary War sites, more than any other state, and is currently celebrating the 225th Anniversary of most of these battlegrounds. Although the Southern Campaign is considered by many the turning point of the Revolution, no heritage corridor currently exists to commemorate the Southern Campaign. The bill must now be passed by the House of Representatives and then signed into law by President Bush. ####

Jul 26 2005

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today met with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts in Washington. Graham is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He made this statement following the meeting. “Judge Roberts is an extremely bright and capable individual with an impeccable legal background. I very much enjoyed meeting with him. “It’s my hope the Senate will treat him in a fair and professional manner during the confirmation process. Early indications are that we will and I certainly hope that trend continues. “I do expect Judge Roberts will be aggressively questioned in the Judiciary Committee, but I do not expect him to say how he would vote on any particular case. Questions asking the nominee to do this in advance of hearing a case should be out-of-bounds. The same goes for requests for documents protected under attorney-client privilege. “It’s also improper to use a client’s position against the nominee. Lawyers give legal advice to those they represent and it’s not fair to judge them by the actions and thoughts of their clients. “I hope the hearings do not become a referendum on any single issue. The purpose of the hearing is to give members of the Senate an opportunity to examine the nominee’s qualifications and background. It’s not an opportunity to get them to say how they would rule on cases that may come before the Supreme Court in future years.” ####

Jul 25 2005

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was joined today by former U.S. Senator Ernest F. ‘Fritz’ Hollings and representatives from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to discuss the importance of making the Hollings Cancer Center a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center. “Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the nation,” said Graham. “Practically every South Carolina family has been impacted by this horrible disease. Like Senator Hollings, I want to do all humanly possible to conquer cancer. South Carolina is aggressively confronting its many health care problems and MUSC is on the front line of this battle.” “It’s my goal to take the Hollings Cancer Center to the next level by achieving a National Cancer Institute designation,” said Graham. “This designation would put the Center in an elite group of institutions. With an NCI designation, the Hollings Cancer Center would rightfully hold a place in the major leagues of cancer research.” An NCI designation is the highest recognition a cancer center can receive. It acknowledges the center has met the highest standards for patient care, prevention and control, research, and education in the field of cancer. This designation would increase the resources available to Hollings Cancer Center to conduct research and prevention programs. It will also increase the state’s access for clinical trials for newly developed drugs to fight cancer. “To reach this goal we must work together as a Congressional delegation and in concert with state and local officials, along with the private sector,” said Graham. “With Senator Hollings and the steady leadership of Dr. Greenberg and Dr. Kraft, I believe we can achieve this prestigious designation.” Graham has secured $8 million for the Hollings Cancer Center in the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill. The funding will go towards the construction of a new research facility dedicated to the role genetics plays in the development of cancer. It will also help in the long-term efforts to turn the Center into an NCI designated cancer center. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in South Carolina, claiming the lives of nearly 8,000 citizens each year. More than 17,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in South Carolina annually. One in two males and one in three females will develop cancer at some time in their lives. “The Hollings Cancer Center is a national leader in treatment and research,” said Graham. “With focused commitment and persistence an NCI designation is achievable over time. There would be no better way to honor Senator Hollings than to achieve this goal.” ####

Jul 25 2005

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is scheduled to offer an amendment to the defense authorization bill strengthening the legal hand of the Bush Administration and future Administrations to hold enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Gitmo). “It is imperative we have procedures in place at Gitmo that will keep terrorists off the battlefield as long as necessary to protect our nation,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “My amendment seeks to achieve that goal.” “Without congressional authority we run a real risk a federal court will either take over or impede our efforts at Gitmo,” said Graham “We are winning in some courts and losing in others. It is now time to strengthen Gitmo so it can meet our national defense needs.” Graham noted that by Congress acting through statute, the likelihood of keeping properly designated enemy combatants off the battlefield for an undetermined amount of time is enhanced and will strengthen Gitmo’s legal position in federal court. “The president has established procedures to determine who is an enemy combatant and to annually review their status,” said Graham. “It’s now time for Congress to sign-off on these procedures and turn them into a statute, a move the courts will give great deference to.” The major provisions of the Graham amendment include:
  • The Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT), established by the president, would become statutory law. The tribunal determines the status of whether a detainee is an unlawful enemy combatant.
  • The Annual Review Board (ARB), also established by the president, would become statutory law. The ARB reviews the combatant’s status on an annual basis to determine if the individual is an enemy combatant, still holds intelligence value and/or, still presents a threat to the United States. Graham modifies current procedure by allowing an enemy combatant to have a military lawyer present when appearing before the ARB. They currently have a military representative present.
  • The president is also given flexibility to update CSRT and ARB procedures by giving Congress 30 days notice.
“My goal is to legitimize the actions our nation is taking at Gitmo and keep enemy combatants off the battlefield as long as possible,” said Graham. “Congress can and needs to act to legitimize the long-term detention of enemy combatants at Gitmo. The War on Terror will go on long after this Administration and we need to have congressional buy-in into this matter.” “By getting Congress to put some of these things into law, it will strengthen the Commander in Chief’s hand in the War on Terror,” said Graham. “We can also clear up any legal confusion that currently exists and can show the courts the Executive and Legislative branches have acted together which will tremendously strengthen the legal position of Gitmo, President Bush, and all future Commanders in Chief.” #####

Jul 21 2005

Graham TRICARE EXPANSION Passes Senate

Amendment Provides Access to Healthcare Benefits for Guard and Reserve Members

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today hailed unanimous Senate passage of his measure to expand access to healthcare benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve. The initiative, which has gained widespread support in the Senate, cuts across party and ideological lines as it has drawn support from Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives. The Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, John Warner (R-VA), also expressed strong support for the legislation on the floor of the Senate. The expansion, which passed as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill, extends TRICARE to all drilling members of the Guard and Reserve regardless of whether they are on active duty or not. Reservists would be required to pay modest monthly premiums. Graham has worked with U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Norm Coleman (R-MN), George Allen (R-VA) and others to expand access to TRICARE benefits for Guard and Reserve members and their families. In October 2004, Senator Graham sponsored legislation that was part of the approved Department of Defense Authorization bill, which provided an extension of one additional year of TRICARE eligibility to Guard and Reserve members for every 90 days the Reservist or Guardsman serves. This expanded eligibility program went into effect in April 2005. The amendment passed today further expands eligibility by lifting the 90 day cap and allowing any drilling reservists to buy into TRICARE at any time. “Guardsmen and Reservists are the only part-time federal employees who are currently ineligible for federal government full-time health care benefits,” said Graham, a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. “We’re going to continue pushing for a better benefit package for our citizen-soldiers. “The National Guard and Reserves are playing a vital role in Iraqi and Afghanistan and are an integral part of the war on terrorism,” said Graham. “Our proposal will also help in our lagging recruiting and retention efforts.” The TRICARE efforts have gained support from many groups including the National Guard Association of the United States, the Reserve Officers Association, and the National Governors Association. The legislation now goes to a House-Senate conference for consideration. ####