WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he was pleased the Senate passed an amendment he offered expanding access to TRICARE, the military health care system, to members of the National Guard and Reserves.
Graham viewed today’s vote on the amendment to the Senate budget resolution as the first obstacle to be cleared this year in his efforts to expand the benefit package for Guardsman and Reservists. The Graham amendment passed the Senate unanimously.
“We’ve still got a ways to go before we push this important change into law, but now we’ve at least got a foot in the door,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The budget resolution was the first hurdle we had to cross. Now we can move on to stage two of pushing it through the authorization and appropriation process.”
“The increased demands placed on the men and women who serve this country in a part-time capacity require a modernization of their benefits,” said Graham. “Guardsmen and Reservists will soon make up 40 percent of our forces on the ground in Iraq and over the past decade have seen a dramatic increase in the time they spend on active duty. We must be sure to take care of every person that puts their life on the line to fight for liberty and freedom throughout the world.”
“The National Guard and Reserves are increasingly being called upon to help protect our country and defend American interests,” said Graham. “They are playing a vital role in Operation Iraqi Freedom and are an integral part of the war on terrorism. We must take proactive steps to modernize benefits and improve recruitment and retention. Failure to act will result in a bloodletting in the Guard and Reserves, as many will choose to quit when their terms expire. This would have a devastating impact on the American military.”
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Pendleton will receive a $600,000 grant for water system improvements.
The funds will be combined with state and local money to construct a 500,000-gallon water storage tank, 1.3 miles of water line, a new pump station, metering station, and control system.
“Improvements to Pendleton’s water system infrastructure will increase economic development opportunities and improve the city’s ability to provide fire protection and water service to the community,” said Graham. “This is a great investment in Pendleton’s future.”
The federal funds will be matched by a $500,000 grant from South Carolina’s Community Development Block Grant program and $100,000 in local funds.
The federal grant was awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement after meeting with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mike Leavitt, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and Congressman John Spratt. In April, the EPA will decide whether York County is meeting new federal air quality standards.
“I’m totally convinced, along with Governor Sanford and Congressman Spratt, that efforts to keep the air clean in York County have been successful and we’re in compliance. The county has worked very hard with local industries and local governments to ensure the air is clean and we’re within EPA standards.”
“We certainly don’t want Charlotte politics to hurt York County. Efforts to bring the county into the Charlotte non-attainment area are politically motivated and designed to hurt industrial recruiting and undermine economic opportunities.”
“We presented a united front to the EPA. The Governor’s office and congressional delegation are all singing from the same sheet of music working to ensure York County isn’t unfairly punished for Charlotte’s problems.”
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted against S. 1805 the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
The bill was intended to give gun manufacturers limited liability protections against lawsuits arising from criminal or unlawful acts committed by third parties using their products.
“Unfortunately, the Senate made a Christmas tree out of this bill and it ultimately fell under its own weight,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The bill was loaded down with many overreaching proposals that unnecessarily affected the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. Some of the provisions we adopted had merit, but some were designed to unfairly restrict lawful gun ownership and ultimately kill the legislation.”
“The underlying legislation protecting gun manufacturers from bogus lawsuits that have cost them hundreds of millions of dollars is sound,” said Graham. “The limited protection allows them to stay in business and strikes the right balance of protecting the gun manufacturing industry while not jeopardizing anyone’s legitimate legal rights.”
“The Senate seems to have problems addressing real concerns without loading up legislation,” said Graham. “Like President Bush, I wanted a clean bill unencumbered by other extraneous issues. I’m very disappointed that we weren’t able to get this done.”
WASHINGTON -- The United States Senate last week approved the promotion Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
Graham is the only U.S. Senator currently serving in the National Guard or Reserves.
He compiled a distinguished career in the Air Force serving six-and-a-half years on active duty as a member of the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corp.
From 1984-1988, Graham was assigned overseas and served at Rhein Mein Air Force Base in Germany. He served as a military prosecutor and it was there he received the Meritorious Service medal.
Upon leaving the active duty Air Force in 1989, Graham joined the South Carolina Air National Guard where he served until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.
During the first Gulf War, Graham was called to active duty and served state-side at McEntire Air National Guard Base as Staff Judge Advocate where he prepared members for deployment to the Gulf region. His duties included briefing pilots on the law of armed conflict, preparing legal documents for deploying troops, and providing legal services for family members of the South Carolina Air National Guard. He received a commendation medal for his service at McEntire.
Since 1995, Graham has continued to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and is assigned as a Reserve Judge to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.
Graham did not cast a vote on the promotion in either the Armed Services Committee or on the floor of the Senate.
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today stressed the need for the federal government and South Carolina to take the necessary steps to help end frivolous lawsuits clogging our court system.
“Our federal and state legal system generally serves us very well,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “However, we have come to the point where reform is necessary.”
Graham noted that on the federal level he introduced “Loser Pays” legislation along with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). The legislation establishes a set of guidelines under which the loser of a lawsuit in federal court could be required to pay the winner’s attorney fees. It applies to cases in which the parties are from different states, which are the large majority of cases in federal court.
In order to receive compensation for attorneys’ fees, the wining 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.
“The right to a jury trial is one of the key building blocks of our democracy and should be jealously guarded,” said Graham. “However, I do not believe that the constitution requires nor does justice dictate that in our legal system only one party should bear the burden and the risk.
“Loser Pays does more to stop frivolous lawsuits in the federal court system than any other reform,” said Graham. “Litigation designed to shake someone down for a settlement would be far less frequent if each party had something to lose.”
Graham noted he often finds himself at odds with his party leadership when it comes to overriding state tort reform laws.
“As a conservative, I strongly believe states should have control over their legal systems and be allowed to pursue their own reforms without Big Brother in Washington mandating outcomes,” said Graham. “I am encouraged by efforts to reform South Carolina’s legal system and remain confident that our state can chart its own course without interference from Washington.”
Graham said he is also strongly urging the South Carolina General Assembly to consider a “Loser Pays” rule as part of litigation reform.
“We have the opportunity in South Carolina to be on the leading edge of legal reform, particularly in medical malpractice,” said Graham. “The arbitration panel with physician involvement and the requirement to arbitrate medical claims, as proposed by the General Assembly, will do much to reduce courtroom litigation.”
“I strongly encourage the General Assembly to consider a Loser Pays rule at the state level,” said Graham. “Loser Pays, applied to either party that refuses to go to arbitration, is a strong filtering device against frivolous lawsuits and those who unjustly fail to settle meritorious claims.”
“If South Carolina adopts arbitration and Loser Pays, it will be among the first jurisdictions in the country to combine these legal reforms,” said Graham. “Loser Pays will strengthen the reform legislation and will pay great dividends in the future.”
“Governor Sanford’s support for arbitration and Loser Pays is another example of bringing about much-need reforms,” said Graham. “He is working to reshape our legal system in a manner consistent with all of his efforts to move our state forward.”
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he was very pleased the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation protecting the unborn from acts of violence.
The unborn protection legislation, twice introduced by Graham while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and passed by that body in a bipartisan manner, has never been debated or voted on in the U.S. Senate.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill for the first time in March.
“It’s time for the Senate to take up this important protection for pregnant mothers and unborn children,” said Graham. “I think, regardless of pro-life or pro-choice feelings, that most Americans want to protect the unborn from violence by criminals,” said Graham. “When a woman chooses to have her child, a criminal should not take that away from her.”
Under current federal law, an individual who commits a federal crime of violence against a pregnant woman receives no additional punishment for killing or injuring the woman’s unborn child. Under the Unborn Victim of Violence Act (UVVA), if an unborn child is injured or killed during the commission of an already-defined federal crime of violence, the assailant could be charged with a separate offense on behalf of the unborn child.
The UVVA would apply this principle to over 60 existing federal laws dealing with acts of violence. These federal laws affect federal geographical jurisdictions, the military justice system, protection of federal officials, and specific acts defined by law as federal crimes.
As an example, Graham noted a situation where a pregnant woman visiting Capitol Hill is assaulted and loses her unborn child. Since the Capitol is under federal jurisdiction and there is currently no law on the federal books, the assailant could only be held accountable for the crime against the mother. The assailant would face no charge or receive no punishment for the harm done to the unborn child.
“I believe most Americans want to protect life as much as possible," said Graham. “People who want to turn this into an abortion debate have an irrational view. The purpose of this bill is very simple: Once the woman chooses to have the child and someone takes that child away from her through an assault or an act of violence, we want to put them in jail for the damage done to the unborn child.”
The UVVA specifically exempts abortions from the list of prosecutable offenses. The bill does not permit prosecution: (1) for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman has been obtained or for which consent is implied by law in a medical emergency; (2) for conduct relating to any medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child; or (3) of any woman with respect to her unborn child.
“There is a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives committed to closing this scandalous gap in federal law,” said Graham. “I think it shows the bill isn’t about abortion but holding criminals accountable for their actions and protecting pregnant women to the fullest extent of the law.”
President Bush has said he will sign the measure into law if it passes Congress.
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.”
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.
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.”