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Senator Lamar Alexander: eNewsletter Volume 8, Issue 2

07 Feb

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I wanted to let you know about some of the things I’ve been working on since the 112th Congress began on January 5:

Repealing the new health care law

On February 2nd I voted to repeal the new health care law, which I warned during last year’s health care debate would prove to be an historic mistake. Republicans warned that premiums would go up, the debt would increase, and many Americans would lose their coverage—and all of that is happening. Senate Republicans promised the American people we’d vote to repeal the health care law and then work to replace it with common-sense reforms that lower health care costs so more Americans can afford to buy health insurance.

Click here to watch an interview I did on Fox News about repealing the new health care law.

Repealing the health care law’s job-destroying 1099 provision

While the Senate majority blocked Republican efforts to repeal the entire health care law, the repeal of one of its many bad provisions gained bipartisan support. The provision the Senate voted to repeal would require 40 million American businesses to file 1099 forms for every business transaction greater than $600 in a given year—even for routine transactions like buying office supplies. American businesses should be focused on how to grow and create good jobs—not on filling out one IRS form after another.

President needs to lead with plan for cutting debt, spending

The president was eloquent in his State of the Union speech on January 25th, but what we need from him is a greater sense of urgency and a plan to reduce spending and debt at a time when Washington borrows 42 cents of every dollar it spends. I hope very quickly he comes forward with a plan to deal with the debt and the entire budget. If he does, a lot of Republicans would be willing to work with him and we could get it done.

Reducing our country’s alarming federal debt

Senator Bob Corker has shown real leadership in introducing the Commitment to American Prosperity (CAP) Act, which would make a dramatic cut in spending over the next decade – and I was proud to join as a cosponsor of his legislation. The bill would cap all discretionary and mandatory spending at a declining percentage of the nation’s GDP over 10 years, eventually bringing spending down to 20.6 percent (the historical average) from 24.7 percent (where it is today). This is a serious proposal to curb out-of-control spending and help solve our debt problem.

Limiting junk lawsuits against doctors

An important step to reducing health care costs and improving access to medical care would be to limit junk lawsuits against doctors.  That’s why I’ve cosponsored the Medical Care Access Protection Act of 2011, which will reduce the cost of medical care for Americans by reforming the medical liability system. The average Tennessee household was paying nearly $1,000 each year in health care costs for “defensive medicine,” the extra tests and procedures performed by doctors to protect them from lawsuits, according to the Tennessee Medical Association.

National Weather Service introduces new flood-prediction system

On January 12th, the National Weather Service released a report documenting its review of the May 2010 Tennessee flood and its plan for new flood-prediction efforts. This was an important step toward making the agency’s flood warnings more like its tornado predictions. During our Senate hearing in July, I urged the National Weather Service to do as good a job with flood warnings as it does with predicting tornado activity. This new system for predicting water levels and communicating flood warnings is an important step in that direction, at first in Nashville, but eventually nationwide. Tornadoes can be devastating, but flooding causes three times as much damage nationwide each year as all other disasters combined.

Click here to read more.

Preserving employees’ rights to a secret-ballot vote on unionization

I am again cosponsoring the Secret Ballot Protection Act, a bill designed to uphold an employee’s right to a secret ballot in elections on whether to unionize a workplace.  Secret-ballot votes are a hallmark of freedom in our country, whether at the voting booth or in the workplace. Secret ballots reduce public pressure that could be placed upon workers by either their employer or union bosses, which would reduce intimidation and strengthen workplace freedom. 

Helping the Senate function better while preserving the rights of the minority party

I was pleased that the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate reached an agreement on significant reforms of Senate rules and practices, which represent a major step forward in helping make the Senate a place that is better able to deal with the serious business that comes before us, while preserving the body as a unique forum—unique in the world, really—in its protection of minority rights. As chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, I served as the lead Senate Republican in negotiations over reforms with the vice chair of the Democratic Conference, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

Click here to read more about the details of the agreement, or here to read my speech on the Senate floor.

Creating more opportunities for schoolchildren and their families

I joined with a bipartisan group of my colleagues – led by Senator Joe Lieberman — to introduce a bill that would bring back a highly successful school voucher program for D.C. students, nearly two years after it was phased out by a Democratic-led Congress. House Speaker John Boehner will be introducing a similar bill in the House of Representatives. I have long supported the voucher program, which will allow at least 2,000 low-income students to attend private schools rather than underperforming public schools in the District.  We need to give all parents more choices when it comes to their kids’ education, and a good place to start would be to bring back this program for students in the nation’s capital.

I also thought you might be interested in the following articles:

Knoxville News Sentinel

Greg Johnson: Alexander takes on Reid’s new rules

Politico

Alexander: Rules reform a power grab

Washington Post

Senate leaders agree on filibuster changes

The Tennessean

Nashville Weather Service admits mistakes in Nashville flood

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