Aug 09 2004

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on news the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded slots to Spirit Airlines to provide one new daily round-trip flight between Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). On July 15, Graham along with South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings, Congressmen Henry Brown and James Clyburn sent a letter to DOT Secretary Norman Mineta encouraging him to award the slot to Myrtle Beach and Spirit Airlines. Earlier this year Graham announced MYR will receive over $3.5 million in federal grants to help construct a new terminal and rehabilitate a taxiway. In addition, he helped the airport secure their own TSA director instead of having to share one with Charleston and pledged assistance for the airport when it begins applying for a designation as a port-of-entry, a distinction requiring the federal government to pay for customs handling. “Air travel is very important to Myrtle Beach and the tourism industry. People love visiting Myrtle Beach and the more convenient we can make it to get there the better. “I appreciate Secretary Mineta making this designation which will prove to be beneficial to Myrtle Beach, Spirit Airlines, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The lack of convenient, daily nonstop service to Washington was a glaring gap in Myrtle Beach’s air service. Washington is an important market for bringing tourists to Myrtle Beach and the addition of this new air service will provide significant benefits to the local community. “I've been very impressed by the growth of air travel in Myrtle Beach. We must continue to build the necessary infrastructure to allow the airport to grow. There's no doubt in my mind that increased air travel will tremendously enhance economic opportunities in the Grand Strand.” According to DOT, Spirit must begin its service to Myrtle Beach by October 31. ######

Aug 05 2004

President Bush Signs Defense Appropriations Bill

National Guard, Reservists and their Families Receive Access to Affordable Health Care

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) drive to provide better health care benefits to members of the National Guard, Reserves, and their families has finally come to fruition – at least for a few months while Congress continues its work to make the benefit long-term. Graham said the final Fiscal Year 2005 Defense Appropriations bill contains as much as $683 million for the Department of Defense to launch a new program giving reservists and their families access to affordable health care coverage. President Bush signed the bill into law today. Appropriations Committee leaders told Graham and co-author Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) they would provide the rest of the funding later, if the Graham-Daschle amendment is adopted during House-Senate conference committee negotiations on HR4200, the Defense Authorization Bill. “For the first time, Congress will provide health care benefits to members of the National Guard and Reserves regardless of their activation status," said Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Graham is the only Senator to serve in a Guard or Reserve unit. "This is a step forward and I’m appreciative of the work that went into making this happen. However, our fight for better health care for reservists is not finished," said Graham. "The program will be funded in full for at least four months while we continue to work for the necessary congressional authorization and further appropriations.” Members of the guard and reserves will be eligible to enroll in TRICARE for a modest annual premium regardless of their deployment status. Premiums would be about $530/year for individual coverage and $1,860/year for families. When fully phased in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the provision would assist more than 300,000 reservists and their family members. CBO estimates the costs of the benefit at $5.4 billion over the next 5 years, about one-half of one percent of the entire Department of Defense budget. The Government Accountability Office estimates that 40 percent of the National Guard's junior enlisted personnel and 20 percent of all reservists lack health care coverage. Last year, Graham successfully enacted a one-year program that provided access to TRICARE to members of the Guard and Reserve without employer-based health care. Meanwhile, several recent reports have raised concerns about the declining number of reservists.
  • USA Today has reported that the “Army National Guard is having increasing difficulty recruiting soldiers…. Experts say it’s easier for the active-duty Army to recruit because it offers more benefits.”
  • The Los Angeles Times has written, “In the corridors of the Pentagon, a major concern is that the tempo of deployments since the Sept. 11 attacks will ultimately take its toll on retention and recruitment…. Thus far, the Army has been able to meet recruiting goals for the active force, but is falling short of its 2004 target numbers for the National Guard.”
  • The Washington Post said the Army’s pool of “delayed entry” soldiers has shrunk to its lowest level in three years and quoted a Missouri Congressman who said retention in his state’s National Guard “is sliding downhill very, very fast.”
“We’re calling upon the Guard and Reserve at the same tempo level we did during World War II,” said Graham. “On a percentage basis, it’s even greater. So it’s past time to increase benefits for Guard and Reserve members.” Graham said that in Iraq Guardsman and Reservists have rotated with the active-duty forces, increasing the reserve component share of the total U.S. forces to more than 40 percent. The reserves have also been charged with taking control of the entire peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. But increasing health care benefits is not the only reform Graham wants to see enacted. He has sponsored additional legislation modernizing benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserves. Among the other items on his agenda:
  • Adjusting the retirement structure of the Guard and Reserves to more accurately reflect the needs of the troops. For every two years a member serves after twenty years of honorable service, that individual’s eligible retirement age will be reduced by one year. Under current law, the retirement age is 60. Under this legislation, if an individual serves for 22 years, they are eligible for retirement at 59. An individual entering military service at 18 and serving for 36 years could retire at 52.
  • Providing tax breaks for employers that make up the difference in civilian pay and reserve pay while members are on active duty. Employers can receive up $25,000 per qualified employee in tax breaks for relieving this disparity.
“Guardsmen and Reservists are citizen-soldiers,” said Graham. “Increasingly they are being called up to duty, taken away from their work and families, and being sent to far-away lands for long tours of duty. We need to ensure the benefits they are receiving are equal to the sacrifice they are making to protect our country and interests around the world.” ####

Aug 04 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced nearly $1.2 million in grants to fire departments in Ehrhardt, Eutawville, Inman, Lancaster, Lugoff, Marion, Moncks Corner, Monetta, Union, and Williamston. “Firefighters risk their lives to protect others, and they deserve the best equipment and training available,” said Graham. “Firefighters are some of the heroes in our midst.” The grants are awarded in one of three program areas:
  • Operations and Firefighter Safety Program: The funds may be used for training, wellness, and fitness programs; the purchase of firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and modifications to fire stations and facilities.
  • Fire Prevention Program: The funds may be used for public education, awareness, and fire code enforcement activities; fire inspector certifications; the purchase and installation of smoke alarms and fire suppression systems; wildland fire mitigation; and arson prevention and detection activities.
  • Firefighting Vehicle Acquisition Program: The funds may be used for the purchase of firefighting vehicles including pumpers, brush trucks, tankers, rescue vehicles, ambulances, quints, aerials, foam units, and fireboats.
The grants awarded include: Ehrhardt Ehrhardt Fire Department will receive a $148,500 Firefighting Vehicle Grant. Eutawville Eutawville Fire Department will receive a $135,343 Firefighting Vehicle Grant. Inman Inman Mills Fire Department will receive a $9,720 Operations and Firefighter Safety Grant. Lancaster Bell Town Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $477,000 Operations and Firefighter Safety Grant. Lugoff Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $36,360 Operations and Firefighter Safety Grant. Marion Marion Fire Department will receive a $62,968 Fire Prevention Grant. Moncks Corner Moncks Corner Fire Department will receive an $8,509 Operations and Firefighter Safety Grant. Monetta Monetta Community Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $166,500 Firefighting Vehicle Grant. Union Santuc Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $149,742 Firefighting Vehicle Grant. Williamston Piercetown Fire Department will receive a $60,687 Operations and Firefighter Safety Grant. The Assistance to Firefighters grant program awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments, enhancing their ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards in the community. The program supports departments by providing them the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting personnel. Grantees share in the cost of the funded project at a percentage based on the population of their respective jurisdiction. Grantees that serve jurisdictions of 50,000 or fewer residents are required to provide a non-Federal cost-share of 10 percent while grantees that serve jurisdictions of over 50,000 provide a 30 percent cost-share. The match must be in cash without the use of in-kind contributions. In addition, the maximum amount of federal funds that an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. The grants are made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ####

Aug 04 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced more than $1.3 million in grants will be awarded to South Carolina research institutions and healthcare providers. The awards include: Charleston The Medical University of South Carolina will receive a $616,079 grant to conduct research on reducing the burden of strokes. Columbia The University of South Carolina will receive a $544,718 grant to conduct heart and vascular disease research. Greenwood Carolina Health Centers will receive a $136,173 grant to develop a plan for providing comprehensive HIV primary health care services to underserved areas in the community. Rock Hill Catawba Care Coalition will receive a $64,800 grant to develop a plan for providing comprehensive HIV primary health care services to underserved areas in the community. The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ####

Jul 28 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the University of South Carolina will receive $4,970,500 in federal funds for the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center. The funds will provide operational support, equipment, and help fund staff salaries at the Center. Graham secured the funds in the Fiscal Year 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill and was notified today the funds will be released in the coming days. Congress passed the bill January 22, 2004. The funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. ####

Jul 28 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced more than $460,000 in grants to fire departments in North, Olar and Vance. “Firefighters risk their lives to protect others, and they deserve the best equipment and training available,” said Graham. “Firefighters are some of the heroes in our midst.” The Assistance to Firefighters Grants will assist the fire departments in purchasing new firefighting vehicles. North North Volunteer Fire Department will receive $156,893. Olar Govan Fire Department will receive $148,500. Vance Vance Volunteer Fire Department will receive $157,500. The Assistance to Firefighters grant program awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments, enhancing their ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards in the community. The program supports departments by providing them the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting personnel. Grantees share in the cost of the funded project at a percentage based on the population of their respective jurisdiction. Grantees that serve jurisdictions of 50,000 or fewer residents are required to provide a non-Federal cost-share of 10 percent while grantees that serve jurisdictions of over 50,000 provide a 30 percent cost-share. The match must be in cash without the use of in-kind contributions. In addition, the maximum amount of federal funds that an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. The grants are made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ####

Jul 27 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. 3rd District Representative Gresham Barrett (R-Westminster) today announced Tri-County Technical College will receive a $30,918 grant and Piedmont Technical College will receive a $29,500 grant to aid the institutions in formulating comprehensive development plans. The funds can be used to identify and analyze problems at each institution as well as develop a comprehensive plan to address those issues. “South Carolina’s technical colleges play a vital role in our state’s education system,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Their continued success is a key element in developing a highly-skilled work force that will drive South Carolina’s economic development in the 21st Century.” "There is no doubt that Tri-County Tech and Piedmont Tech are key in educating South Carolina's work force," said Barrett. "A vital part of the success of our technical colleges is the partnership they have with the community and the business sector. These grants will enable each to continue to produce valuable and highly-trained workers as our economy continues to improve and South Carolina looks to the future." The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. ####

Jul 27 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Voorhees College will receive a $29,600 grant to support an international business and entrepreneurship program that focuses on building economic relationships with Brazil. The program provides students with the opportunity to experience the cultures of Brazil and the United States while learning international trade, marketing and management via bilingual inter-institutional curricula and internships. Voorhees will partner with the South Carolina World Trade Center, the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, Paul Quinn College in Texas, and two colleges in Brazil. The US-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. ####

Jul 26 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Congress has approved $500,000 to support a joint project between South Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. The funds will be used to produce a documentary detailing the stories of African-Americans who trained at Montford Point, North Carolina between 1942 and 1949 and became the first African-Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps. The funding was included in the 2005 Defense Appropriation Conference Report. The Conference Report provides $416.2 billion to the Department of Defense, including $25 billion in emergency spending requested by the President for early fiscal year 2005 costs associated with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is an important part of our nation’s history and one that should be fully documented,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The men who trained at Montford Point are not as well known as the Buffalo Soldiers or the Tuskegee Airmen, but their role in advancing civil rights in the military and the country was just as significant.” The Montford Point Project, located just outside Camp Lejeune, replicated for African-American recruits the training other United States Marines received at Paris Island, South Carolina. Another aspect of the history of this group of Marines that adds a dimension of excitement to this project is the fact that some Montford Point Marines are alive and able to share their stories first-hand, although their ranks are rapidly thinning. The funds will be used to conduct research and interviews, and cover production costs. To date, more than twenty interviews have been recorded and extensive research has been conducted through the uncompensated efforts of officials at S.C. State and UNC-Wilmington. ####

Jul 26 2004

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced over $2.59 million in health grants for organizations in South Carolina. Charleston The Medical University of South Carolina will receive the following grants:
  • $488,003 to conduct youth violence research.
  • $217,977 to support advanced nursing degree education programs.
  • $200,902 to support pre-doctoral training programs in primary care.
  • $180,965 to support residency training programs in primary care.
Greenville Greenville General Hospital will receive a $225,500 grant to conduct cancer research. Little River Little River Medical Center will receive a $523,448 grant to expand Community Health Center services in the surrounding community. Community Health Centers provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care services to the medically underserved population in the communities. North Myrtle Beach Sea Haven, Inc. will receive a $200,000 grant for ongoing operational expenses in conjunction with the Transitional Living Program. The program assists older, homeless youth, including pregnant and parenting teens, in developing skills and resources to promote their independence and prevent future dependency on social services. State of South Carolina The State of South Carolina will receive a $562,500 grant to close the gap in infant mortality in the African-American community. The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ####