Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON – Nearly five years have passed since then-U.S. Representative Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) authored and introduced the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Even though Graham twice pushed the legislation through the House in a bipartisan manner, it never came up for debate or a vote in the U.S. Senate. Until today, when as a U.S. Senator, Graham played a leading role along with Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) in pushing the legislation through the Senate and on to the White House for President Bush’s signature.
“It has been a long journey and we have now cleared the last hurdle,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “After five years of hard work Congress is going to make it a crime at the federal level for a criminal to attack a pregnant woman and do harm to her unborn child. The legislation is on its way to President Bush and he will sign it into law.”
“It’s a very good day for pregnant women and their unborn children,” said Graham. “It’s also a very bad day for the criminals who wish to do them harm.”
The UVVA applies to more than 60 federal crimes of violence including crimes committed on federal property, crimes against federal personnel, and crimes committed on military bases. Some examples of federal crimes of violence include drug-related shootings, car jacking, violence at an international airport, and terrorist attacks.
“I think regardless of pro-life or pro-choice feelings that most Americans want to protect the unborn from violent criminals,” said Graham. “When a woman chooses to have her child, a criminal should not take it away from her.”
“The Laci Peterson case is a clear example of a situation where two victims were involved,” said Graham. “Under California law, separate prosecutions are allowed for death or injury to the unborn child or mother. There is no such provision in federal law dealing with federal crimes of violence.”
As an example, Graham noted a situation where a pregnant woman visiting the U.S. Capitol 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.
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.
The legislation passed the House of Representatives in February 2004 by a vote of 254-163.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the passing of former Governor John Carl West.
“South Carolina has lost one of its most capable leaders.
“Governor West will be remembered for many accomplishments but his greatest legacy was providing a soothing presence during difficult times. His effort to bring together all South Carolinians has paid great dividends and is something all of us in public service should try to emulate. It has and will continue to pay dividends for our state.
“He was an enduring gentleman and will be greatly missed.”
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) will receive two grants for more than $480,000 to be used for parks in Camden and North Augusta.
PRT has been awarded a $231,458 grant to assist Kershaw County in acquiring approximately 45 acres of land for the development of an athletic complex. Federal funds will be matched by an equal amount of local funds.
PRT has been awarded a $250,000 grant to assist the City of North Augusta in the development of walking trials on approximately 33 acres of land along the Savannah River. The trail will connect the City’s greenway to Riverview Park. Federal funds will be matched by an equal amount of local funds.
The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Charleston County Aviation Authority will receive an $8,334,245 grant to be used at the Charleston International Airport.
The funds will be used for expanding the general aviation apron to accommodate larger numbers of general aviation aircraft. Funds will also be used for improvements and modifications to the terminal building including construction of rain covered walkways to public parking areas.
“This award will directly benefit Charleston’s ability to attract new business and continue to make the city one of the best tourist destinations in America” said Graham. “It’s very good news for the Charleston area.”
The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration.
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.”