Nov 18 2003
Introduction of the Social Security Solvency and Modernization Act
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopSocial Security is the most popular government program in American history. It has provided a safety net for millions of retirees, survivors and persons with disabilities. I know. My family is one of them. I was 22 and my sister was 13 when we lost both my parents. The illnesses were expensive and times were tough. My sister received Social Security survivors’ benefits so I know how important Social Security is to families. That’s why my commitment to the program is strong and unwavering. Unfortunately, Social Security as it’s currently structured is not sustainable. The program must be reformed. The problems facing Social Security are mainly due to demographic changes in the United States. The problems are serious and they include:
- Fewer workers supporting retirees. When Social Security was created, there were over 40 workers for every retiree. In 1950, there were 16 workers supporting 1 retiree. Today, the ratio is 3 to 1. Within a generation, the ratio will drop to 2 to 1.
- Cash Deficits and Reduced Benefits. The Trustees of Social Security have warned us of serious, structural problems facing the system. In 2018, for the first time in history, the program will begin to pay out more in benefits than it takes in as taxes. In 2042, the “trust fund” will be broke and unable to pay full benefits to retirees.
- Baby Boomers Retirement. The oldest baby boomers will be eligible to retire in just 5 short years. Between 2011 and 2030, the number of beneficiaries will increase 65 percent while the working, taxpaying population will increase only 8 percent.
Nov 12 2003
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopWASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Congress has approved the 2004 Defense Authorization Act which provides spending authority for more than $100 million for South Carolina projects and includes several important policy changes to help to modernize military benefits. Graham noted the bill will enhance the ability of the Department of Defense to fulfill its responsibilities and continue the commitment to improve the quality of life for the men and women of the Armed Forces. Graham is a member of the Armed Services Committee which oversees the authorization process in the Senate. “The authorization bill is an essential step in providing the money to keep our national defense infrastructure up and running,” said Graham. “This is also the vehicle through which we make substantive policy changes to improve the lives of the men and women in uniform who sacrifice to protect and defend our way of life,” said Graham. Policy provisions in the bill include: Improved Health Care Benefits for Guard and Reserve Members Graham secured funding for expanded TRICARE coverage in the Iraq Supplemental Appropriations Bill already signed into law. The Authorization bill gives the Department of Defense the authority to spend money on this endeavor. Under the old law, members of the Guard and Reserve and their families could only enroll in TRICARE when called to active duty. The Graham provision allows unemployed reservists and guardsmen and those that are not eligible for health insurance from their employers to enroll fulltime in TRICARE; provides TRICARE coverage to all guardsmen and reservists once they receive orders to deploy, currently they don’t receive their benefits until they actually deploy; allows all reservists and guardsmen to stay on TRICARE six months after deployment to ease the transition back to their private insurance. “I am pleased that my colleagues have come together in a bipartisan fashion to improve healthcare for the brave men and women who valiantly serve our country in the Guard and Reserves and their families” said Graham. “The sacrifices they make to defend our freedom deserve to be rewarded. This is an extremely significant step toward repaying their efforts; however, there is more to be done and more to come.” Concurrent Receipt The bill authorizes a 10-year phase-in of full concurrent receipt of military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation for active duty and reserve retirees with disability ratings of 50 percent or greater. Passage of this benefit has been a priority for the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other veterans organizations. Pay Raise The bill authorizes an average 4.15 percent across the board pay raise for all uniformed service personnel, with targeted pay raises ranging from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent for mid-career service members. Special Duty Pay The bill authorizes the continuation of special pay for duty subject to hostile fire or imminent danger in the amount of $225 per month through December 31, 2004. Family Separation Allowances The bill authorizes the continuation of family separation allowances in the amount of $250 per month through December 31, 2004. Commissary Privilege for Guard and Reserve Members The bill removes the limit on the number of visits Guard and Reserve members can make per year to commissaries. Graham introduced this provision in the Armed Services Committee and led the fight for its inclusion in the bill. Additionally, the bill grants use of the commissary to reserve retirees under the age of 60. Equal access to commissary stores is a benefit that recognizes the increased responsibility of the reserve forces for homeland defense and worldwide deployment and helps to ensure continued patronage of commissaries experiencing reduced income. This also provides a proven incentive for recruiting and retaining military members. The bill also authorizes spending for South Carolina related projects that were included in the 2004 Defense Appropriations Bill. Highlights of the projects include: South Carolina Upstate<.u>
- $26 million for P-3 aircraft Anti-Surface Warfare kits in Greenville. The Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement program greatly expands the P-3C’s capabilities and includes additional advanced technology sensors, expanded communication systems, upgraded weapon delivery capabilities, and survivability upgrades.
- $9.2 million for Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT) to fund prototype development in Greenville.
- $1.2 million for Formidable Aligned Carbon ThermoSets (FACTS), a new composite product for naval aircraft construction. FACTS will allow the design and fabrication of much more efficient designs significantly lowering airframe weight.
- $8.5 million for construction of Shaw Deployment Center, Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter. These funds were appropriated today in the 2004 Military Construction Appropriations Bill.
- $5 million for M-249 Squad Automatic Weapons (Army) and $4 million for M-249 Squad Automatic Weapons (Marines) produced in Columbia. The M-249 is a portable, high-fire volume, highly reliable light machine gun which serves as one of the Army infantry and Marines most valuable weapon systems. In addition, the bill authorizes an additional $18.8 million for the Army and $6 million for the Marines to purchase additional weapons.
- $1.2 million for the development of an Advanced Electric Drive for military use.
- $8.863 million for construction of Charleston Air Force Base housing. These funds were appropriated today in the 2004 Military Construction Appropriations Bill.
- $2 million for the development of an Autolog System, a concept that uses multi-point stabilization to overcome the pendulations problems on existing shipboard cranes. Research will be conducted in Charleston.
- $2.25 million for continued development of multi-spectral Barium GaloGermanite (BGG) glass window technology, an essential component for airborne reconnaissance systems. Research and development of BGG glass is conducted in Hilton Head.
- $2.8 million for the procurement of Quadrangle Containers, produced in Charleston. These shipping containers divide into four separate sections to aid in transport by facilitating the loading and unloading process.
- $2.1 million for further development of Lean Munitions, designed to reduce the time necessary to design, manufacture and test munitions to keep pace with the Army’s increased operational tempo.
- $2.35 million for the Charleston Naval Weapons Station South Annex Gate 4. These funds were appropriated today in the 2004 Military Construction Appropriations Bill.
- $1.5 million in additional funds for the Consolidated Infrastructure Protection Center (CIPC) at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in Charleston.
- $5 million for Eagle Vision which provides the National Guard, including the South Carolina National Guard, with in-theater, real-time acquisition and processing of commercial satellite imagery of our adversary’s territory.
Nov 11 2003
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopWASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said the treatment of President Bush’s nominees to the federal bench has been one of the low points of his first year in the Senate. Graham said he looks forward to the 30-hour, round the clock ‘Justice for Judges’ debate scheduled to begin late Wednesday and conclude Friday morning. As one of the new members to the Senate and one of the leaders of the push to bring additional pressure on the Senators holding the nominations hostage, Graham is scheduled to be on the floor during the late evening Wednesday starting about midnight and finishing up early Thursday morning. He’ll be joined in the early morning hours by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) fellow freshmen Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) and Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota). “Democrats, abusing the rules of the Senate, have changed the requirement for getting a judicial nominee confirmed from a simple majority of 51 votes to a 60 vote supermajority,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It’s without precedent and marks the first time in American history a judicial nominee has been defeated by partisan filibuster. We need to break these filibusters, and we must do it soon. The presidents’ nominees deserve a straight up or down vote. If they get this, they will be confirmed.” Among the Bush nominees currently being blocked are:
- Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans,
- U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans,
- California Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and
- Alabama Attorney General William ‘Bill’ Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Nov 06 2003
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopWASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced ‘Loser Pays’ legislation in the United States Senate. The bill is designed to encourage settlements and reduce frivolous lawsuits which clog our court system. Graham’s legislation establishes a set of guidelines under which the loser of a lawsuit in federal court could be required to pay the winner’s attorneys’ fees. The bill applies only to cases in which the parties are from different states. In order to receive compensation for attorneys’ fees the winning side must have made a settlement offer that was rejected, and then file a petition with the judge requesting compensation. The judge will make the final determination. “This is responsible and effective legal reform,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Under this bill people will think twice before filing frivolous lawsuits. It will also encourage litigants to settle their differences before they go to trial. People will play around with other people’s money, but when they have a personal financial stake in the lawsuit it will force them and their attorney to more fully consider the merits of their case.” Graham noted gun control groups have filed suits in some states to impose large legal costs on gun manufacturers in pre-trial discovery. In some western states, environmental groups have filed lawsuits to unnecessarily delay development projects, hoping to bankrupt development companies from months of delay. U.S. Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) have already agreed to add their names as co-sponsors of the legislation. Graham also noted he would like to offer the provision as a Senate amendment in the coming months for a floor vote on the measure. “I believe very strongly that citizens of this country have a right to seek damages if they are truly injured or harmed by another,” said Graham. “This bill does not discourage legitimate lawsuits, but it does make those who abuse the system think twice about their actions and the possibility they could face very expensive consequences.” ####
Nov 06 2003
Legislation Contains Over $5 Million for South Carolina Projects
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopWASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Senate passed the Agriculture Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2004. The bill contains over $5 million for South Carolina related projects. Graham voted for the bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 93-1. The bill provided funding for the following projects: Upstate
- $303,000 to Clemson University to continue research to develop innovative pest control techniques.
- $260,000 to Clemson University research for peach tree short life research in southeastern orchards.
- $300,000 increase to FY03 funding for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) study of improved animal waste management in Florence. The ARS research station is investigating alternative treatments and techniques to respond to this major problem in swine production.
- The Senate bill instructs the USDA to continue funding the Cotton Genetics Research program in Florence with FY03 funding levels.
- The Senate bill instructs the USDA to continue FY03 funding for Swine Lagoon Alternatives Research in Florence to treat the waste on small swine farms at a reasonable cost while meeting stringent environmental regulations.
- $3.5 million to the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston for the completion of greenhouse and headhouse construction.
- $300,000 increase to FY03 funding for research staff at the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory Charleston. Additional scientists are necessary to conduct priority research and to maximize use of the facility.
- $4,187,000 to study shrimp aquaculture in South Carolina and six other states.
- $800,000 for the continued development of a geographic information system database in South Carolina to integrate commodity and conservation program data at the field level for watershed analysis purposes.
Nov 05 2003
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopWASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced nearly $300,000 in grants to fire departments in Conway, Campobello, and Pumpkintown. “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. Conway: The Conway Fire Department will receive a grant of $130,672. Campobello: The Campobello Fire Department will receive a grant of $96,300. Pumpkintown: The Pumpkintown Area Fire Protection District will receive a grant of $57,060. 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. ####
Nov 05 2003
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopWASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has been was sworn in as a reserve appellate military judge on the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals. Graham is the only member of the U.S. Senate to serve in either a Guard or Reserve unit where he maintains the rank of Lt. Colonel. The Court reviews and hears appeals of convictions by court-martial within the Air Force. The judges are appointed by the Judge Advocate General based upon their qualifications, judicial temperament and character. The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest judicial body within the Air Force. “It is a great honor and privilege to have been selected to serve on the Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals,” said Graham. “Over the past twenty years, the fine men and women of the United States Air Force have had a great impact on my life and I am excited about the opportunity to continue my service in this capacity.” “One of the things that make this country great is the fact that rules matter,” said Graham. “In civilian courts and in the military we follow a set of laws. This separates us from our enemies and truly demonstrates our commitment to individual rights. I appreciate the responsibility of this court and pledge to uphold the high standards of the Constitution, the Air Force, and the Code of Military Justice.” Graham joined the United States Air Force in 1982 and was assigned as an assistant staff judge advocate at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. In July 1983, he was selected to be the area defense counsel at Shaw, where he served until 1984. He was then selected to be a circuit trial counsel and was transferred to Rhein Mein Air Base, Germany. In July 1988, Graham separated from active duty, established a private law practice, and continued his military service in the South Carolina Air National Guard. From 1988 to 1989 Graham was attached to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina as an individual mobilization augmentee. In April 1989, he became the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate of McEntire Air National Guard Base in Eastover, South Carolina. Graham later became the Staff Judge Advocate of McEntire and participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in that capacity. Upon his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Graham joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 1995. ####
Nov 03 2003
Senate Passes Interior Appropriations Bill Containing Over $14 Million for South Carolina Related Pr
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopWASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Senate passed the Interior Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2004. The bill contains over $14 million for South Carolina related projects. Graham voted in favor of the bill, which passed 87-2. The bill provides funding for the following projects in South Carolina: Upstate & Midlands
- $1.3 million for land acquisition at the Sumter National Forest;
- $300,000 for historic preservation of the Benjamin Mays Birthplace in Greenwood;
- $200,000 for historic preservation of the Old Marion High School in Marion;
- $75,000 for historic preservation of the Cheraw & Darlington Railroad Depot in Society Hill;
- $7.7 million to support the Forest Legacy Program in the Cooper River Corridor;
- $1.3 million for land acquisition at the Francis Marion National Forest;
- $1.3 million for land acquisition at the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge;
- $500,000 for construction of dike and water control structures at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge;
- $100,000 for historic preservation of the Morris Island Lighthouse in Charleston;
- $1 million for the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor;
- $750,000 for land acquisition in the Chattooga River Corridor (SC, NC, and GA);
- $50,000 for the study of mercury methylation in South Carolina’s rivers.
Nov 03 2003
Wes Hickman/Kevin BishopWASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the state of South Carolina will receive over $35 million in federal grant money for homeland security in fiscal year 2004. “These funds will be used to provide South Carolina’s first responders with the best training and equipment available, and educate every citizen about family safety and community preparedness,” said Graham. “Local law enforcement plays a key role in preventing terrorist acts and these funds will help ensure South Carolina’s law enforcement agencies have the tools necessary to protect our state and the nation.” The money consists of funding for three programs:
- $26,828,000 for first responders from the State Homeland Security Grant Program. The funds will help state and local public safety and law enforcement personnel pay for planning, training, equipment, exercises and other costs associated with enhancing the capabilities on a state and local level to prevent, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks.
- $7,961,000 for the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program. This program will provide law enforcement communities with funds to enhance their capabilities to share information to preempt terrorist attacks, reduce vulnerability of certain high value targets, recognize the potential development of a threat, provide intervention activities before a threat could be executed, enhance interoperability communications and assist in management and administration. The funds can be used for these activities within the areas of planning, organization, training, exercises and equipment from an authorized equipment list that includes an expanded category for law enforcement equipment related to threat intervention, such as SWAT gear. This program also allows for overtime costs specifically related to Homeland Security efforts.
- $557,000 for the Citizen Core Program. The funds provide resources for states and local communities to bring together the appropriate leadership to form and sustain a Citizen Corps Council and develop and implement a plan for the community to engage all citizens in homeland security, community preparedness, and family safety. In addition, the funds should be used to conduct public education to inform citizens about their role in crime prevention, mitigation, emergency preparedness for all hazards, public health measures, including bio-terrorism, and develop and implement Citizen Corps programs offering training and volunteer opportunities to support first responders, disaster relief groups, and community safety efforts.
Oct 23 2003
Bill Contains More than $30 Million for South Carolina Projects
Wes Hickaman (202 224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864 250-1417)WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Senate approved the FY 2004 Transportation and Treasury Appropriations Bill which includes millions of dollars for South Carolina projects. Graham voted for the bill which passed the Senate by a vote of 91-3. South Carolina projects in the bill include: Upstate
- $11 million for site acquisition and design for a new Federal Courthouse in Greenville.
- $3 million to SCDOT for surface improvements to the Arkwright Connector in Spartanburg.
- The bill instructs the U.S. Department of Transportation to give priority to the Pickens County Airport rehabilitation project grant application.
- The bill instructs the U.S. Department of Transportation to give priority to the Spartanburg Memorial Downtown Airport runway extension and safety area construction project grant application.
The bill instructs the U.S. Department of Transportation to give priority to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport land acquisition project grant application. $1.5 million for the Sumter Municipal Airport to install an Instrument Landing System. Lowcountry $5 million to the Medical University of South Carolina Intermodal facility for maintenance, acquisition, and rehabilitation of bus facilities. $1 million to SCDOT for construction of a four lane divided arterial over an approximately 10-mile corridor of U.S. 278. $1 million to SCDOT for the Northwest Bypass in Beaufort. $1 million to SCDOT for improvements to the Berlin G. Meyers Parkway Extension in Georgetown. $1 million to the North Charleston Regional Intermodal Transportation Center for maintenance, acquisition, and rehabilitation of bus facilities. $300,000 to the Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority for maintenance, acquisition, and rehabilitation of bus facilities. $84,478 for the Charleston Airport to replace the elevator and make improvements to the air traffic control tower. The bill instructs the U.S. Department of Transportation to give priority to the Andrews Municipal Airport pavement reconstruction project grant application. Statewide $5 million to the SCDOT to help replace South Carolina’s transit fleet. $3 million to SCDOT for the Inroads Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) project to place Video Cameras, changeable message signs, and other safety devices along South Carolina’s interstate highways. $2 million to SCDOT for a construction study of I-73. $750,000 to conduct a Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor Study. “Improvements to roads and airports provide greater access to our state, stimulate business investment and encourage tourism,” said Graham. “These projects are another investment in the future economic development in South Carolina.” “During this economic rebound, it is vital that we remain committed to investing in infrastructure, and promoting economic growth,” said Graham. “This is a key ingredient creating and protecting American jobs.”