Oct 13 2003

Graham Pushes Congressional Action to Aid Textile Industry

Chinese Currency Manipulation Causing Job Losses in the Upstate

WASHINGTON – On a tour of Mount Vernon Mills, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said it is past time for tougher safeguards to protect the textile industry from unfair, foreign competition, particularly from China. Graham noted the textile industry has been hard hit by the Chinese intentionally manipulating the value of its currency and those actions are having a direct impact on job losses in Upstate South Carolina. “There’s a perfect storm brewing in China which could destroy what remains of the textile industry in the United States,” said Graham. “China’s access to the U.S. textile and apparel market more than doubled in 2002, growing by an astounding 117 percent and is up an additional 114 percent so far in 2003. These are staggering numbers and the net result is we’re losing jobs here at home.” Graham blamed the Chinese for intentionally manipulating the value of their currency creating a competitive disadvantage for American producers. He noted the Chinese yuan has been tightly pegged to the US dollar in a range of 8.3 yuan per dollar since 1994.  Given China's enormous growth over the past decade, this fixed level most likely does not reflect its true value. If the yuan were allowed to float freely, like other major currencies, many economists believe it would appreciate substantially against the U.S. dollar. Economists at Goldman Sachs have estimated that the yuan may be undervalued by 15 percent and other experts say that number could be as high as 40 percent, meaning that the Chinese intentionally lower their currency's value to make their goods and services cheap internationally.  The practical effect of this currency manipulation means Chinese manufacturers receive a 15 percent to 40 percent discount on their exports, providing them with a nearly insurmountable advantage over American producers. “I fear that if we do not act quickly to counter China’s illegal efforts to dominate the United States apparel market, our domestic suppliers will not be able to recover,” said Graham. “I believe now is the time to slow this massive surge of Chinese imports. “We have lost thousands of textile jobs in South Carolina, not because the Chinese work harder or smarter, but because they are cheating,” said Graham. “The American textile worker can compete with anyone given a fair opportunity. Unfortunately, that opportunity does not exist in today’s’ economy.” Graham noted several avenues to help the industry. These include:
  • Congressional passage of legislation Graham introduced along with Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Jim Bunning (R-KY) which imposes a 27.5 percent tariff on all Chinese imports if they do not put an end to currency manipulation. The legislation, S. 1586, allows the President to remove sanctions once he certifies that China has moved to a market-based currency. The tariffs would kick in after a 180 day grace period to ensure that Treasury officials have adequate time to work with the Chinese to institute reforms. Graham noted the U.S. Senate is on record in support of changing the Chinese currency practices. Last month, the body passed Senate Resolution 219 calling on China to abide by its international agreements and adopt a market-based system of currency valuation. The resolution passed Senate late last month without a single dissenting vote.
  • Implement the China safeguards. In our trade agreements with China, the Bush Administration has the ability to impose tariffs on Chinese textile imports to level the playing field. These safeguard provisions should be activated. The safeguards would re-establish a quota on unrestricted textile or apparel categories --  such as knit fabric, dressing gowns and robes, and cotton gloves -- for a period of one year and could be expanded for two additional one-year periods.
“The textile industry provides jobs and benefits to hundreds of thousands of Americans,” said Graham. “The Bush Administration must act to protect these jobs from a communist dictatorship that manipulates and cheats rather than follow the rule of law.” #####

Oct 09 2003

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced more than $300,000 in grants to fire departments in Boiling Springs, Heath Springs, and James Island. “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.” Boiling Springs $304,175 to the Boiling Springs Fire District Heath Springs $11,898 to the Heath Springs Volunteer Fire Department The 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. James Island $44,124 to the James Island PSD Fire Department for fire prevention activities The grant will help increase public education and awareness activities, fire codes enforcement activities, fire inspector certifications, purchase and installation of smoke alarms and fire suppression systems, wildland fire mitigation, and arson prevention and detection activities. 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. ####

Oct 07 2003

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced displaced employees at RST&B Curtain and Drapery in Woodruff and Conso International in Union are eligible to receive trade adjustment assistance (TAA). The Department of Labor has certified that both companies have suffered losses due to increased foreign imports and cheap foreign labor. TAA benefits help provide displaced workers with job retraining, educational advancement, resume writing and relocation assistance. Both companies also qualify for alternative trade adjustment assistance, a special program that benefits workers over the age of fifty. “These programs help soften the blow of job losses due to the unfair trade practices,” said Graham. “This is a perfect example of why we need to end trade abuses and enforce fair labor standards with all of our trade partners. We are simply asking for a fair playing field. American workers are hard-working and smart. When given the chance to compete in a fair market, no one can even come close.” Graham noted that manufacturing companies in South Carolina have been hard hit by unfair competition, much of it from China. The Senate recently passed a resolution he sponsored calling on the Chinese to stop undervaluing their currency. Some economists estimate that the yuan is now undervalued by as much as 40 percent. The undervaluation of the yuan makes Chinese goods less expensive for foreigners, and it makes foreign products more expensive for Chinese consumers. The effective result is a significant subsidization of China's exports and a virtual tariff on foreign imports. Undervalued currency and the efforts of the Chinese government to intervene in the yuan’s value violate the rules of the World Trade Organization. Graham has also taken a lead role in pushing the Schumer-Bunning-Graham bill through the Senate. This legislation would impose a 27.5 percent tariff on all Chinese imports if they do not put an end to their currency manipulation. In addition, it would allow the President to remove sanctions once he certifies that China has moved to a market-based currency. The tariffs would kick in after a grace period of 180 days to ensure that Treasury officials have adequate time to work with the Chinese to institute reforms. Graham and several other Senators also circulated a letter to Senate colleagues seeking support for action against China. The letter invited members to sign a letter to President Bush urging him to initiate the China special textile safeguard and take other actions to protect American textile companies from Chinese abuses. “I will continue to fight for South Carolina’s manufacturing jobs in South Carolina and across the nation,” said Graham. “Our manufacturing and textile economy has been hard-hit by unfair, foreign competition and it’s past time for it to stop.” Employees of RST&B and Conso should visit their local ‘One-Stop Center’ for more information on how to receive TAA benefits. There are ‘One-Stop’ locations in Spartanburg and Union. ####

Oct 06 2003

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced more than $500,000 in grants to fire departments in Bath, Gaffney, Lake City, Laurens, Montmorenci, Piedmont, Ridge Spring, Spartanburg, Surfside Beach, and Whitmire. “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. Bath Bath Fire Department will receive $22,008. Gaffney Corinth Volunteer Fire Department will receive $78,750. Lake City South Lynches Fire Department will receive $121,301. Laurens Laurens City Fire Department will receive $31,518. Montmorenci Montmorenci Volunteer Fire Department will receive $44,988. Piedmont Powdersville Fire Department will receive $40,428. Surfside Beach Surfside Beach Fire Department will receive $41,934. Whitmire Whitmire Fire Department will receive $83,690. Graham noted the grants to Ridge Spring and Spartanburg will be used for different fire programs. Ridge Spring Ridge Spring Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $54,900 grant to assist with the purchase of a new fire fighting vehicle. Spartanburg The Spartanburg Public Safety Department will receive a $54,658 grant for fire prevention programs including public education and awareness activities, fire code enforcement, fire inspector certifications, purchase and installation of smoke alarms and fire suppression systems, wildland fire mitigation, and arson prevention and detection activities. 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. ####

Oct 06 2003

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department will receive two grants for more than $1.2 million dollars to assist individuals with disabilities. The Department will receive:
  • $862,074 for the establishment and administration of an Access to Telework Fund. The ATF will feature one or more alternative financing mechanisms to allow individuals with disabilities access to computers and other needed equipment not provided by an employer to enable them to telework from home or other remote site.
  • $414,060 for the establishment, expansion and administration of an alternative financing program to allow individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and authorized representatives to purchase assistive technology devices and services.
“These programs improve lives and empower South Carolinians with disabilities,” said Graham. “The alternative financing mechanisms enable people to purchase the equipment they need to achieve success.” The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. ####

Oct 06 2003

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will receive six grants totaling $733,000.
  • $345,515 to assess the potential environmental impacts of red tides, pfiesteria, and other toxic algae in the coastal zone of South Carolina estuaries;
  • $103,242 to assess the levels of genetic variation within and among populations of tomtate and French grunt in the Western Atlantic;
$94,760 to provide continued funding for data entry personnel and limited administrative costs to maintain Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) compliance. The ACCSP is a cooperative state-federal program to design, implement, and conduct marine fisheries statistics data collection programs and to integrate those data into a single data management system that will meet the needs of fishery managers, scientists, and fishermen; $90,000 to estimate the catch-and-release mortality for red drum; $50,123 to involve community members in hands-on oyster restoration through creating and monitoring oyster reefs on the South Carolina coast; $50,000 to implement portions of a recovery plan for populations of loggerhead and other species of turtles in South Carolina waters. “South Carolina’s natural resources are one of our greatest treasures,” said Graham. “These programs will help preserve and protect the natural environments and wildlife in South Carolina for generations to come.” The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce. ####

Oct 02 2003

WASHINGTONM- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced the committee unanimously approved several bills to improve benefits for veterans and their dependants. The committee approved the following bills:
  • Veterans Survivors Benefits Enhancement Act of 2003- This bill improves and enhances certain benefits for survivors of veterans, including an increase in survivors/dependants educational benefits and a $250 increase in the monthly rate of dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses with children under 18.
  • Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (formerly known as the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act) - This bill provides updated civil protections for service members called to active duty. The bill authorizes to termination of leases, including automobiles; sets the maximum interest rate on debts incurred before military service at 6 percent; and, protects the voting rights of military personnel called to duty.
Graham was a cosponsor of both bills. “Men and women who serve our country in the armed forces make sacrifices to preserve our freedom and protect our liberty,” said Graham. “Their patriotism and dedication should be rewarded. We have a responsibility as a nation to care for their needs and those of their families.” Graham noted the committee also approved legislation authorizing the creation of a new national cemetery in Greenville. In addition, the committee approved the annual cost-of-living-adjustment to increase the rates of compensation for veterans with service connected disabilities. The bills must now be passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. ####

Oct 02 2003

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Senate unanimously approved his plan to improve the healthcare benefits of Guard and Reserve members by modernizing their coverage under TRICARE, the military health program. Graham submitted his proposal as an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill for funding ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Graham is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and is the only Senator who is a member of the Reserves. “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,” said Graham. “The sacrifice they make to defend our freedom deserves to be rewarded. This is an extremely significant step toward repaying their efforts; however, there is more to be done and more to come.” Under current law, members of the Guard and Reserve and their families can 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.
“This amendment demonstrates a growing commitment of the Senate to providing continuity of care for Guardsmen and Reservists,” said Graham. “The next step is to ensure that continuity for all members of the ready reserve. We need to make sure that when the total force is called up, the total force is ready to go, fully trained, and medically cleared.” Graham noted there is strong bipartisan support for the idea in the House as well. Last week the House voted overwhelmingly to support giving Guard and Reserve members the option to enroll in TRICARE 356 to 67. “Since 9-11 there has been a seven hundred percent increase in the use of Guard and Reserve personnel,” said Graham. “We have not changed the benefits for these essential military personnel. It’s time we reward them for their service and patriotism, and make service to their country more attractive and fair.” “Recent deployments have led to one-fourth of all Guard and Reserve members being called to active duty. The stress on the Guard and Reserve force is beginning to show. The Army National Guard is almost 15% short of its recruiting goal; some 69,000 soldiers short. Hopefully this measure will begin to help correct this trend.” The amendment must now be passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Bush. ####

Oct 02 2003

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will receive $1.49 million in federal funds to support the South Carolina Computer Crime Center. The funds will be used to help offset the high costs of procurement, services, and training. In addition, the money will be used to assist SLED in addressing the new requirements in the South Carolina Homeland Security Act for lawful interceptions of communications. “Criminals have taken advantage of computers and modern technology to hide from law enforcement,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It is vital that we provide state and local law enforcement agencies with the equipment and training necessary to combat computer crimes, and bring these people to justice. This grant will help SLED better protect South Carolinians in the twenty-first century.” The funds were earmarked for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division in the Fiscal Year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, and have been previously announced. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Justice. ####

Oct 02 2003

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind will receive a $154,204 grant to help ensure all deaf and blind students in South Carolina receive a high quality individual program of services that meet his or her developmental and educational needs. The funds will be used to support the creation of Regional Deaf-Blind Education Teams to provide technical assistance and training throughout the state. The teams will work with students, teachers and family members to help make certain the needs of deaf and blind students are met throughout the state. “This program will help South Carolina’s schools meet the needs of deaf and blind students, and provide them with the skills and education necessary to succeed in life,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. ####