Feb 24 2004

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he supports President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. “I applaud the President’s announcement that he will support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “A constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman is necessary and something I support. The traditional institution of marriage is now under attack.” “The recent Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, as well as actions in San Francisco, set in motion legal events that can only be adequately addressed by a constitutional amendment,” said Graham. “If we don’t act, it’s only a matter of time until marriage as we have known it will be redefined.” “Defining marriage as being between a man and a woman should be an issue for the public at large, through their elected representatives, to decide,” said Graham. “It should not be decided by a handful of judges and the city of San Francisco and then forced upon the rest of the country.” #####

Feb 20 2004

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement regarding President Bush’s decision to make a recess appointment of Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. “I applaud the President’s decision to appoint Bill Pryor to the federal bench. He has been an outstanding Attorney General in Alabama, and has demonstrated a willingness to take on politically unpopular causes because the law requires it. He will be a judge who follows the law, not a personal agenda.” “The attacks levied against him have been politically motivated and are demagoguery at its worst. Pryor’s “well-qualified” rating by the American Bar Association and strong support from people throughout the state of Alabama illustrate his true qualities as a person and his skills as an attorney.” “President Bush’s decision demonstrates that he will not allow his judicial nominees to be demagogued and destroyed.” Bush originally nominated Pryor in April 2003, but his confirmation has been held up by Senate Democrats with unprecedented judicial filibusters. In addition to Pryor, Democrats have blocked the confirmation of five other federal judicial nominees. “The partisan filibusters of judges driven by liberal special interest politics will put the Senate in a death spiral with regard to judicial nominations. If our Democratic colleagues do not cease in partisan filibusters of well-qualified nominees there will be a confrontation in the Senate of Constitutional dimensions that will take years to overcome.” The recess appointment will enable Pryor to serve through the end of the first session of the 109th Congress. ####

Feb 19 2004

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said he was pleased to hear that Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham has written to the Chairman and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee certifying the MOX fuel fabrication facility to be constructed at Savannah River Site is still on track to convert weapons-grate plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel by January 2009. The written certification to Congress was one of the requirements that Graham, while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, and former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond pushed into law in December 2002. The Thurmond-Graham language also included fines of up to $100 million a year if plutonium is not being converted to fuel under strict timelines and a legal requirement to remove plutonium from the state should the program fail. “I’m very pleased with the Secretary’s certification,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This is an important program, taking the weapons of the Cold War and turning them into fuel to make electricity. I have confidence that the Bush White House will continue to work with us to ensure this program is a success. “Certification was one of the important provisions the Thurmond-Graham legislation contained to protect the state,” said Graham. “I’m glad we passed it into law as it gives us protection from program failure and also serves as a valuable tool to help keep pushing the program along.” In his letter, Abraham noted the U.S. and Russian Federation have disagreed on liability provisions for work done in Russia on the MOX fabrication facility. The disagreement has resulted in the interruption of work in Russia and slowed work in the U.S. as the programs are to proceed in “rough parallel.” “We are determined to resolve this issue in time to prevent slippages that will prevent us from meeting our 2009 commitments,” wrote Abraham. “While the start of construction will be delayed due to our ongoing disagreement with Russia regarding liability, we are confident that we will be able to meet overall program objectives – the elimination of weapon-grade plutonium for thousands of nuclear weapons.” Graham noted he has recently spoken with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and other key parties handling negotiations with the Russian Federation over the liability provisions. “We’re going to get a deal, it’s just a matter of time” said Graham. “Everyone understands the importance of this program to world security and knows there’s a lot at stake. The quicker we can get agreement the quicker we can move both the U.S. and Russian programs forward.” #####

Feb 18 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced an $86,670 grant to North Augusta Department of Public Safety. “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.” Assistance to Firefighters Grants help the fire departments improve their training, wellness and fitness programs; purchase new firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and, make modifications to fire stations and facilities. 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. ####

Feb 17 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Representative Gresham Barrett (R-South Carolina) today announced Westminster will receive $1.6 million in federal funds for water system improvements. The money will be used for water treatment plant upgrades and construction of a new elevated 500,000 gallon tank. “This is great news for Westminster,” said Graham. “Infrastructure improvements create jobs, encourage business investment, and play a vital role in future economic development.” "This is terrific news. There is no doubt this funding will help improve the infrastructure of my hometown," said Barrett. "Westminster has a lot to offer and it is my hope these improvements will help attract new businesses and bring new jobs to the area." Of the total project award, a $1 million grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce and a $600,000 grant was awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. ####

Feb 13 2004

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) released the following statement on his decision to vote against S. 1072 the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003: “My decision to vote ‘no’ on the highway bill was motivated by the fact that it busts the budget by billions of dollars, and will lead to larger deficits that our children and grandchildren will have to pay. Unfortunately, this is a continuation of the freewheeling spending practices we were elected to reign in.” “The highway and bridge needs of this country are very real. However, the federal government cannot afford a 43 percent increase in spending no matter how meritorious the projects may be. The 43 percent increase more than doubles the President’s request and is way out of line with any notion of fiscal responsibility.” “I know South Carolinians can use help in upgrading our infrastructure. But, our economy needs fiscal discipline more than new pet projects. Businesses and families have to make hard choices in difficult times, yet the Senate seems to be unwilling or incapable of doing the same.” “I hope President Bush vetoes this bill if it is not corrected in a conference between the House and Senate. If he does so, I will support his veto.” ####

Feb 11 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced more than $147,000 in grants to fire departments in Inman, Johnston and Spartanburg. “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 help the fire departments improve their training, wellness and fitness programs; purchase new firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and, make modifications to fire stations and facilities. Inman Inman Community Fire Department will receive $60,725. Johnston Johnston Fire Department will receive $37,800. Spartanburg Whitney Area Volunteer Fire Department will receive $48,582. 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. ####

Feb 11 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Dillon County will receive a $25,000 federal grant for a feasibility study on construction of a new general aviation airport. The feasibility study will include a business recruitment strategy, leasing plan, identification of incentives, and a financial feasibility plan. “Community airports play a vital role in growing the local economy by making the area more attractive for economic development and business recruitment,” said Graham. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce and will be matched by a $25,000 local contribution. ####

Feb 11 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced legislation enabling the Federal Communications Commission to increase tenfold the fine on television and radio broadcasters who violate the FCC decency rules. The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 increases the maximum fine for each violation to $275,000 and the total penalty for continued violations could be as much as $3 million. Current law caps penalties at $27,500 per offense. “For many years, I have been a proponent of ensuring that the content released on our nation’s airwaves is free from indecent and inappropriate material,” said Brownback, “Recently, much attention has been given to the FCC and the enforcement of its indecency rules regarding this issue due to a particular expletive used during the live broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards ceremony last year and compounded by the inappropriate Super Bowl Half Time show. This bill will increase, by tenfold, the forfeiture penalties for broadcasting obscenity, indecency or profanity. This will increase the penalties for a single obscene or indecent incident from $27,500 to $275,000. Until the penalties are punitive, there will be little incentive for broadcasters to curb this inappropriate behavior.” Brownback is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and serves on the Communications Subcommittee. “We need to make sure broadcasters air appropriate programming, especially when children are likely to be in the audience,” said Graham. “For too long we have stood on the sidelines and let indecent programming get out of hand. We need to do more to protect the public from indecent programming and this bill will cause broadcasters to think twice before allowing indecent materials on the airwaves. The current penalty is a mere slap on the wrist. It’s time we put a little more sting into the punishment.” Graham testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Commerce in support of the increased penalties. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. A similar bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last month. Additional Senate sponsors of the bill include Senators George Allen (R-Virginia), Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The legislation has garnered support from the administration, commissioners at the FCC, and family groups such as Focus on the Family. #####

Feb 10 2004

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), disturbed by a 35 percent rise in the projected cost of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, will introduce legislation to reign in the cost of the program. The new benefit was initially estimated to cost $395 billion over the next ten years when the bill passed Congress and was signed into law by President Bush in December 2003. A mere two months after becoming law, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revised the figure and projected the bill to cost an estimated $534 billion. Graham said his greatest concern is that the cost explosion is going to be borne by future generations and noted that every dollar spent on the new Medicare prescription drug benefit is borrowed money. “As we try to improve senior’s health care we cannot do it in a way that will doom their grandchildren with debts they cannot afford to pay,” said Graham. “I didn’t vote for the bill last year because I was concerned the projected costs would turn out to be wrong. Even I was surprised at how quickly and dramatically the projected costs of the program spiked. I’m afraid this isn’t going to be the last bit of bad news we receive about the long-term costs of this new entitlement.” Graham proposes controlling the long-term costs of the program by:
  • Placing caps on Medicare prescription drug outlays. The caps would be equal to the estimate of outlays for Prescription Drug Benefit for Fiscal Years (FY) 2005-2013 as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The caps for FY 2005-2013:
    • 2005: $800 million (program not in full effect)
    • 2006: $25.7 billion
    • 2007: $39.0 billion
    • 2008: $44.6 billion
    • 2009: $48.7 billion
    • 2010: $53.7 billion
    • 2011: $58.6 billion
    • 2012: $65.3 billion
    • 2013: $73.1 billion
  • Requiring the President to submit legislation to Congress reducing the costs of the prescription drug benefit upon determination the cap will be exceeded in any fiscal year. The President’s legislation would be considered on a fast-track basis and could not be amended or filibustered. Failure by a President to submit legislation would allow any Senator to move to discharge from the Finance Committee any Medicare reform legislation to lower the cost of the drug benefit.
“I want seniors to have a prescription drug benefit, but I’m not prepared to do it at all costs,” said Graham. “The Medicare prescription drug benefit, as it’s currently structured, allows uncontrolled expansion that will topple the entire system.” “My legislation limits Medicare prescription drug spending to the original $395 billion of borrowed money,” said Graham. “Any year the bill exceeds the original estimate, the President and Congress will be forced to act to reduce the cost. Controlling costs when you have to borrow all of the money is sound fiscal policy. It makes for a winning situation for today’s seniors and future generations of Americans.” ####