Five Years Later

Five years ago today, the Dodd-Frank financial reform act was signed into law and sold to people as a fix to prevent Wall Street megabank bailouts. But unfortunately, “too big to fail” is far from over. Frankly, it’s more institutionalized now than ever before. On top of that, community banks are under attack by incredibly burdensome regulations enacted by this legislation

We need to adopt a fundamentally different approach to financial reform that’s focused on simpler, more targeted reforms. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Sherrod Brown to even the playing field and better protect taxpayers like you from bailout out the megabanks. It would also give smaller community banks some significant regulatory relief. Earlier this year, I also introduced the Bailout Prevention Act to halt megabank bailouts during a financial crisis. And with Republicans taking control of the Senate, the Senate Banking Committee has also been hard at work crafting a regulatory relief bill that would ease the regulatory burden from Dodd-Frank.

As of February, there are 1,342 fewer community banks in the U.S. than there were in June 2010. This stat is heartbreaking, as financial institutions that once served as the backbone of communities across this country have shuttered due to the ridiculous costs associated with complying with Dodd-Frank. In May, we passed The Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015 through the Banking Committee. I’m working hard to reach an agreement on a far-reaching bipartisan bill that would ease community banks regulatory burden, allowing them to thrive and prosper once again.

If another financial crisis happened tomorrow – and that’s still a real risk – nobody doubts that megabanks would be calling on the federal government to bail them out again. This anniversary is not one to celebrate, and that’s why I’m fighting to make sure that taxpayers aren’t footing the bill.

Big News to Share – No White Flags!

I’m proud to share some exciting news out of Congress. The House of Representatives passed my bipartisan legislation, the Steve Gleason Act of 2015!

This legislation was inspired by Steve Gleason. As you probably know, Steve is a former professional football player with the Saints, and he currently lives with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). While fighting the disease, he has led his foundation, Team Gleason, to grow public awareness towards finding a cure for ALS. Steve has been relentless in his advocacy, living up to the Team Gleason motto: No White Flags!

Passing this legislation is a huge victory for ALS patients across the country because it will make speech-generating devices more accessible and affordable.

These devices are truly amazing. For example, the device that Steve Gleason uses tracks the motion of his eyes and translates that motion into speech. Devices like this are critical for patients who have lost their ability to speak – they help them communicate with friends, family or doctors, or even call 911 in case of emergencies.

Now our legislation will bring this type of technology to patients across the country that cannot afford them on top of their other healthcare costs. Making this equipment more accessible and affordable will give them the ability to communicate with their family and friends – even literally giving them a voice and the ability to simply tell them “I love you.”

Passing this legislation has been more than a year in the works. I started working on this issue in 2014—and even participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with my son Jack—and first introduced this legislation in January. That was around the time I invited Steve to come to Washington D.C. as my guest to the State of the Union this year. We also met with the Secretary of Health and Human Services about getting her help to move our legislation forward.

Steve and the rest of Team Gleason have been an incredible inspiration. Just as Steve gave the city of New Orleans hope to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, his “No White Flags” message is giving hope to the ALS community.

Thanks to Team Gleason’s tireless work, we can bring this hope to patients across the country.

From David’s Desk: June Recap

Wendy and I want to wish you and your family a happy 4th of July. Our country is the land of the free thanks to the many men and women who have answered the call to serve our country. I send my gratitude to them and their families, and all those who make America the greatest country on Earth.

It’s an honor to serve Louisiana in the U.S. Senate, where I’m constantly reminded of the rights our country has always stood for and those we still work to protect. Please continue reading below to learn more about some of the ways I’m working to serve Louisiana in the U.S. Senate.

Sincerely,

David Vitter 
United States Senator

Highlights from June (click the hyperlinks for more information): 

Passing a Highway Bill to Reduce Traffic, Improve Our Roads

Roads and infrastructure are literally the foundation of our everyday lives. But unfortunately, Louisiana faces major infrastructure problems. We need to build and improve more roads, bridges, lanes, and mass-transit systems. That’s why I passed legislation out of the Senate transportation committee that will improve our roads, highways, and transportation infrastructure. The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (or DRIVE Act) will make the updates we need – including investments to reduce traffic congestion. This bill will allow folks to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families – it’s a win-win for everyday Americans and our economy. Click here to read more.

Continuing the Fight for the Steve Gleason Act

Since last year, I’ve been working with Steve Gleason and his foundation, Team Gleason, on legislation to make speech generating devices (SGDs) more accessible and affordable for patients across the country. Our fight took a big step forward this month, when the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee passed our legislation. Now we just need a vote before the full House of Representatives. Click here to read more.

Protecting Jobs for Blind Louisianians 

My amendment to protect jobs for the blind and disabled was passed as part of the Defense Department funding bill. The amendment specifically protects programs like the New Orleans Lighthouse for the Blind, which employs over 180 Louisianans. Last year, the program lost 40 jobs as a result of the Obama Administration’s initiative to shift jobs to foreign employers. There should be no question that these jobs – which directly support our national defense – should go to American citizens instead of foreign employers. Click here to read more.

Making Sure the Chemicals We Use Are Safe

You probably use chemicals every day, but are you sure they're safe? Senator Tom Udall and I are fighting to pass our legislation that will update our country’s chemical safety laws. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to reform these outdates laws, and now I’m fighting for a vote in the Senate. Click here to read an op-ed I co-wrote with the March of Dimes and Sen. Udall for CNN.com

Working to End Abortions After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

We can make great strides toward protecting and dignifying innocent human life by putting an end to late-term abortions – when an unborn child can feel physical pain. That’s why I’ve co-sponsored the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Every step toward ending abortions once and for all is an important step in the right direction. Click here to read more.

Pushing for Long-Overdue VA Clinic in Lafayette

The Department of Veterans Affairs has again delayed critical services for our veterans – this time over religious freedom. The VA has withdrawn from a contract to provide a desperately-needed and long-promised temporary clinic in Lafayette. The VA’s reason for withdrawal was common contractual language intended to protect freedom of religion. I have asked the VA why this withdrawal occurred. Our veterans deserve a completed facility, where they can get appropriate treatment. Click here to read more.

A New Highway Bill to Reduce Traffic

Do you feel like you spend too much time in traffic? From going to and from work to picking up the kids from school, we rely on our roads to get us there – and traffic can make it a real challenge to get everything done.

Roads and infrastructure are literally the foundation of our everyday lives. But unfortunately, Louisiana faces major infrastructure problems. Our highway system is 40th in the nation, and our interstates come in at 48th. Our Louisiana bridges currently rank 10th in the nation as the most deficient. And on top of that, New Orleans and Baton Rouge both rank in the top 25 in the nation for traffic congestion.

We need to build and improve more roads, bridges, lanes, and mass-transit systems. Investing in these infrastructure updates can spur new jobs, shorten commutes, and encourage greater economic opportunities for businesses.

That’s why I passed legislation out of the Senate transportation committee this week that will improve our roads, highways, and transportation infrastructure. The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (or DRIVE Act) will make the updates we need – including investments to reduce traffic congestion. This bill will allow folks to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families – it’s a win-win for everyday Americans and our economy.

Our Fight to End Late-Term Abortions

Like you, I’m a consistent advocate for the sanctity of human life. Just this year, I earned a 100% pro-life voting record from the National Right to Life Committee. Recently, my focus has been stopping abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy, the point at which an unborn child can feel pain. I cosponsored the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to end this barbaric practice.

Many countries around the world have already ended late-term abortion. The United States needs to join these countries and pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which will save approximately 13,000 unborn babies from feeling the excruciating pain when they are killed while in the womb. This legislation is simply common-sense—it’s unbelievable that there are groups working to fight an initiative that would protect unborn children from feeling the pain of an abortion procedure.

Putting an end to late-term abortions is an important component in our ultimate goal to fully protect and dignify innocent human life. Our pro-life movement is growing, and it gains momentum every year. We’re changing hearts and minds around Louisiana and across the country. But we still have a long way to go. With the persistent witness of pro-life advocates like you, I’m confident that we will be successful.