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. ####

Jul 21 2005

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statements on the announcement the Chinese have begun to revalue their currency. Graham, along with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have been leaders in pushing the Chinese to discontinue pegging their currency to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 8.28 yuan arguing it hurts American manufacturing. “I’m pleased with the Chinese government’s decision to revalue the yuan,” said Graham. “While the initial revaluation was small, it is encouraging. They’ve taken a small first step which I hope over time will turn into more revaluations and the eventual floating of the Chinese currency.” China set the value of the yuan at a level equal to 8.11 yuan to the dollar, an increase of about 2 percent. The Chinese also set up a mechanism to allow the yuan to fluctuate in value by as much as 0.3 percent per day. This mechanism allows the yuan to potentially increase gradually over time. The Chinese government will continue to manage the exchange rate. “The most significant aspect of the announcement is it allows the Chinese to have a daily upward valuation of their currency,” said Graham. “This mechanism is the best indication they don’t view today’s two percent adjustment as the end of the road, but the beginning of a series of adjustments over time. It creates a process for continued upward adjustment to bring the Chinese currency in-line with its true value.” The issue was brought to a head when Graham and Schumer offered their legislation calling for a 27.5 percent tariff on all Chinese goods entering the country as an amendment to the Foreign Affairs Authorization Act. A procedural motion to table the amendment was brought forward and soundly defeated in a bipartisan 67-33 vote. A majority of Republicans and Democrats opposed the tabling measure. “In light of China’s decision, Malaysia has decided to begin revaluing their currency as well,” said Graham. “A revaluation of China and other Asian currencies will greatly benefit American manufacturers in the global economy. China is too strong of an economy to continue manipulating its currency to create a discount on its products. It’s been unfair to American manufacturing and put us at a competitive disadvantage.” “By beginning to move away from pegging their currency, China will create a better climate for doing business,” said Graham. “Over time, it can become a win for both countries. That’s the goal Senator Schumer and I have hoped to achieve with our actions on this issue.” Last month, after meeting with Treasury Secretary John Snow and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, Graham and Schumer agreed to postpone a pending July vote on their tariff legislation. Graham said he was convinced progress was being made on this issue and in light of this progress, it was appropriate to show flexibility. “I’m appreciative of the attention the administration has placed on this issue,” said Graham. “I look forward to working with Secretary Snow and Chairman Greenspan to encourage China to continue to move to an eventual float of their currency.” #####

Jul 19 2005

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he was pleased U.S. and Russian negotiators had come to preliminary agreement on liability provisions which have slowed construction of the mixed oxide fuel (MOX) facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS). MOX is the process where weapons-grade plutonium is converted into fuel for use in commercial reactors to produce electricity. “The preliminary agreement is very good news for the Savannah River Site, South Carolina, and the nation as it helps move our construction efforts forward,” said Graham. “I look forward to a formal agreement being reached in the coming weeks. MOX is a tremendous program and one that will pay dividends for years to come.” Construction efforts at SRS have slowed as the liability provisions were negotiated. The liability provisions deal with American workers helping construct the Russian facility in Siberia. “I recently spoke with Secretary Rice and told her I appreciate her hard work in addressing this issue,” said Graham. “MOX is a very important piece of our efforts to stop nuclear proliferation as it turns nuclear swords into plowshares.” “To a terrorist like Osama Bin Laden, weapons-grade plutonium is more valuable than gold,” said Graham. “Under MOX, we’ll be able to take this material off the market and turn it into fuel to produce electricity in a commercial nuclear power plant.” The agreement on liability requires a Russian presidential decree and then a formal signing of the pact by the two countries. The Russian Duma will then ratify the agreement. #####

Jul 19 2005

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the nomination of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Graham said: "With the nomination of Judge John Roberts, the American people are getting an extremely qualified nominee with impeccable legal credentials. He also happens to be a very decent and honorable man. In a single word, John Roberts is 'solid.' "Judge Roberts is a solid conservative who understands the role of a judge is to interpret the law and not legislate from the bench. He is a truly an oustanding choice the entire country can be proud of as he is one of the best legal minds of his generation. "Judge Roberts represents a new generation of Associate Justices for the Supreme Court. I expect him to be fairly and decently treated by the Senate. Based on his qualifications, temperment and character he will be confirmed by an up-or-down vote. "Judge Roberts also holds the unique distinction of being confirmed for his current position on the D.C. Court of Appeals, the nation's second-highest court, by unanimous consent. This has rarely occured and is the best indication about how the Senate feels about John Roberts. "In 2003, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee I strongly supported John Robert's nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals. Over the past two years, I've heard nothing to change my opinion about Judge Roberts." ####

Jul 07 2005

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the bombings in London. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of London who have been affected by this attack. “The contrast, described by President Bush between the terrorists who indiscriminately kill and the leaders of the G-8 trying to solve world problems, was right-on. It also presents the best description of our terrorist enemies as being ruthless and having no regard for human life. They must be dealt with by aggressive action and a strong will. #####

Jul 06 2005

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Richland School District Two will receive a $1,599,935 Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) Grant. The SLC program is designed to promote academic achievement through small, safe, and successful learning environments in large high schools. The funds will be used to develop smaller learning communities at Ridge View High School and Blythewood High School. Smaller learning communities are intended to personalize the environment and ensure student success by implementing the District’s Communities of Learners Accelerate Student Success (CLASS) program. CLASS places emphasis on relationships, rigor and relevancy. Last month, Graham announced Richland School District One would receive a $2.5 million SLC Grant to be used at Dreher and Lower Richland High Schools. The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. ####

Jul 06 2005

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Lowcountry Area Health Education Center in Varnville and the Medical University of South Carolina will receive a $358,396 grant to support the South Carolina Rural Interdisciplinary Program of Training (SCRIPT). SCRIPT trains health care professionals to function within interdisciplinary teams to deliver care or conduct research in rural communities. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ####

Jul 06 2005

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Florence School District One will receive a $3,999,935 Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) Grant. The SLC program is designed to promote academic achievement through small, safe, and successful learning environments in large high schools. The funds will be used at five high schools in Florence and Darlington including: Darlington, Hartsville, South Florence, West Florence and Wilson. The funds will be used to create highly personalized school-within-a-school environments in each high school. The program, known as STARS (Small Teams Achieving Results for Students), will use instructional strategies, services, and interventions to boost overall academic performance and narrow the achievement gap in student subgroups. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. ####

Jul 06 2005

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will receive more than $9 million for projects along South Carolina’s coast. The funds include: Berkeley County
  • $100,000 for an assessment study of the Cooper River.
Charleston
  • $2.9 million for operations and maintenance at the Cooper River.
  • $100,000 for a feasibility study on storm drainage reduction on Edisto Island.
Georgetown County
  • $2.6 million for the planning, design and construction of a protective sand berm on Pawleys Island.
  • $100,000 for environmental restoration at the Santee Delta.
Horry County
  • $100,000 for beach renourishment at Myrtle Beach.
  • $50,000 for a Waccamaw River watershed modeling project.
  • $50,000 for a storm water drainage study at Surfside Beach.
Statewide
  • $3 million for maintenance of the Intracoastal Waterway in South Carolina.
“I am pleased our colleagues have recognized the importance of these projects to South Carolina,” said Graham. “The funds will help maintain critical parts of our state’s energy infrastructure and preserve our valuable natural resources for the enjoyment of future generations.” "These projects will help ensure commerce will continue to thrive on South Carolina's waterways,” said DeMint. “I'm please that the entire state will benefit by the protection of our state's natural resources." The Senator’s secured the funds in the Fiscal Year 2006 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. The bill passed the Senate in a 92-3 vote. The measure will now be referred to a House-Senate Conference Committee. ####

Jul 05 2005

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Western Carolina Higher Education Commission-Salkehatchie Leadership Institute in Allendale will receive $228,098 in grants. The grants will be used to develop an inventory of artisans and craftspeople in the newly-formed Southern Carolina Regional Economic Development Alliance. The project is expected to create 30 jobs and assist 15 businesses. The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ####