|01-29-10 - News Update|
This week, the Senate passed legislation to increase the federal public debt to $14.3 trillion, without my support. The current and projected imbalance between government spending and revenues is unsustainable and demands immediate attention. This new $1.9 trillion increase is by far the largest in history, and I believe we have an obligation to say ‘enough is enough.’
Additionally, the Senate voted to confirm Ben Bernanke to serve another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. While I understand the disappointment and concern surrounding many of the Federal Reserve’s unpopular decisions during Chairman Bernanke's tenure, I believe that failing to confirm him would have been ill-advised. I supported his confirmation to ensure continuity as Congress tries to work with the Federal Reserve to foster a robust economic recovery.
State of the Union
This week, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address. I was pleased to hear the president say he is going to do whatever is necessary to help create jobs and reinvigorate the economy. It's pretty obvious the stimulus package did not reduce unemployment, so we need to go in another direction. And it is imperative that we work in a bipartisan manner to do so.
Likewise, I was pleased the president wants to put a freeze on federal spending. Freezing spending at the fiscal year 2009 levels would make a greater impact, as there was a 21 percent increase in spending during the 2010 budget, but this is a good step in the right direction.
I was disturbed that there was little mention of national security, which should remain a top priority. Just last month, we had an incident where a would-be bomber attempted to detonate an explosive device on a commercial flight. I think it’s imperative that we focus on the communication breakdown that occurred to ensure that those who seek to do us harm are not given the opportunity to do so.
Close Security Gaps in Visa Screening Process
In light of the Christmas Day incident, I have co-sponsored legislation to close critical security gaps in our current visa screening process, which, had they been addressed sooner, could have prevented Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding the plane to Detroit on Christmas Day.
The legislation, S.2944, would require the Department of Homeland Security to deploy personnel to conduct on-site visa reviews in high-volume visa posts and high-risk countries. It would also clarify that DHS has the ultimate authority to revoke any visas in the interests of our national security, as well as require updates to law enforcement and consular databases of revoked visas.
Fort Hood Shootings
Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the findings and recommendations of the Department of Defense regarding the Fort Hood shootings.
You can watch my line of questioning by going to my YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/senatorchambliss.
2009 Wheat Advocate Award
I was honored to be presented this week with the 2009 Wheat Advocate Award by the National Association of Wheat Growers. As ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I’m committed to advocating on behalf of our farmers and agriculture producers to make sure that America continues to have a safe and abundant food supply.
Should you need assistance with a federal agency, you may contact my office toll free at 800-234-4208, or send an email by clicking the icon at the top of this page that says “e-mail me.” You can also send a letter to one of my office addresses listed at the very bottom of this newsletter.
Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
Very truly yours,