Let’s Pass Local Control of Education Act

When it comes down to it, I trust folks in Louisiana to make decisions regarding their children's education far more than I trust bureaucrats in Washington.

Parents, along with local teachers, principals, and education leaders in our communities, know best on how to educate our children. We need to reduce the size and scope of the federal government in our classrooms and return curriculum decision-making and to those closest to Louisiana’s students.

Click here to watch a video of me pushing for a vote on my Local Control of Education Act.

This week in the Senate we’re debating the 2015 federal budget. I’ve introduced my legislation, the Local Control of Education Act, as an amendment to the budget. My bill would allow states to opt out of Common Core without worrying about getting penalized. I’d do that by prohibiting the federal government from mandating that states adopt specific academic standards, including the Common Core standards, curriculum, or assessments. It would also allow states that do not accept these standards to continue to qualify for federal grants and waivers that are currently limited to states in compliance with the standards.

The quality of our children’s education is too high a priority to rely on a one-size-fits-all approach. What works in New York or California may not work in Louisiana. Finally, we have a real opportunity to pass my legislation to start fixing this problem.

Birthright Citizenship is Absolutely Nuts

I’m writing today to update you on something that seems absolutely nuts to me and everyone I’ve spoken to outside of Washington—it’s called “birth tourism”. This is when citizens from other countries travel to the United States to give birth, so their children can get U.S. citizenship. Just a few weeks ago, federal agents raided several Southern California sites connected to multimillion-dollar birth-tourism businesses. This exploits a clear loophole in our immigration system.

For years, the United States has been granting automatic citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil—regardless of whether their parents are legal citizens—according to a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment. This misinterpretation has allowed illegal immigrants to travel to the U.S. to give birth and then stay in the U.S. with their children.

We need to stop automatically granting citizenship to all babies born in this country if at least one of their parents isn’t a legal citizen. That’s why I first introduced legislation on this issue in 2011, and just proposed the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2015. This most recent legislation would clarify that birthright citizenship is only given to the children of U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens.

Some folks in the news media call my efforts controversial – I call it necessary.

Protecting our Second Amendment Rights

A few weeks ago, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) made a grave misstep by proposing to reclassify M855 ball ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” Their proposal would not only make it much harder for well-intentioned Louisianians to purchase this popular ammunition, but would directly diminish our Second Amendment rights.

Congressman Steve Scalise and I immediately wrote a letter to the ATF demanding that they withdraw their reclassification of this perfectly legal type of ammunition. This is clearly just another political attempt by the Obama Administration to infringe on our Second Amendment rights. There is no legal argument, justification or common sense reason for them to make this change, and their effort needs to be scrapped completely.

Although the ATF has now pulled back their proposal on M855 ammunition at the urging of those who recognized their action was absurd, the Obama Administration still can’t be trusted to protect our Second Amendment rights. I’ll continue watching the ATF so they can’t try to undermine the liberties our Founding Fathers gave us. I’ll keep fighting to protect gun owners in Louisiana and across the country.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this nomination and other issues important to you. Please contact me with your ideas at any of my state offices or in my Washington office. You can also reach me online at www.vitter.senate.gov.

Sincerely,

David Vitter 
United States Senator

Fraud-Ridden Free Government Cell Phone Program Must End

Do you think the federal government should hand out free cell phones? Like it or not, there’s a welfare program that’s been going on for years now that does just that.

The program is called Lifeline, and it was originally created to expand landline phone service for welfare recipients. Since 2008, this program has expanded far beyond its original intent by supporting free cell phone service subsidized by the federal government. I’m guessing you’d agree with me that a cell phone is a luxury, not a necessity.

Plus, Lifeline has become one of the most fraud-ridden and abused government programs. Phone companies like TracFone get paid monthly for each free cell phone they hand out. Therefore, they and other vendors have every incentive to expand the free government cell phone welfare – with zero accountability. The more free phones given out, the more money in their pockets.

Reports of fraud within the Lifeline program are uncovered on a far too frequent basis. Examples of blatant fraud that have been reported include companies allowing people to sign up for more than one phone, people showing food stamp cards from others to falsely qualify, and Maryland having double the number of the free phone accounts as it has eligible people living in the state. Clearly, the current standards regulating Lifeline are ineffective and allow for routine abuse by repeat offenders, which is why reforming the program isn’t good enough. We need to flat out end it.

To fix this, I’ve introduced legislation to end the free government cell phone services but keep the landline service intact for people in need. In my new role as Chairman of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, I’ve significantly ramped up oversight of the program and launched a full investigation to the corporate welfare kings like Tracfone.

I’m also investigating General Wesley Clark, a former candidate for the Democrat presidential nomination and political operative, who has publicly come out against my legislation. I’ve repeatedly questioned his motives for promoting the fraud-ridden welfare program, and he still hasn’t responded to direct questions about who is financially supporting his campaign to promote Lifeline. If he’s being supported by those Lifeline vendors who make big money from the program, people need to know their motives.

Standing up for our ally, Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, came to Washington D.C. this week and spoke before Congress. I was really honored and excited to hear from him in person. His speech was amazing, and I thought it was Churchill-like in its clarity and strength.

Unfortunately, President Obama and some Democrats in Congress spoke out against his speech, and some even boycotted it altogether.

Support for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address should never have been controversial. Israel is one of our best allies in the world, and this is a time of great peril in the Middle East for Israel and for the United States. Rather than alienate our greatest ally in the Middle East, we need to send a clear message that the U.S. stands together in support of Israel.

What should be controversial, though, is the nuclear deal President Obama wants to make with Iran. He’s so eager for a deal, he’s signaled that he’ll essentially accept anything. That’s really dangerous.

The Obama administration’s foreign policy has been severely misguided for years. They’ve proven they’re more interested in talking about progress than actually making concrete plans to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.

Click here to watch my video statement.

We need to absolutely stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. I pray we learn from history, not repeat its mistakes. So I stand firmly with Israel in support of its defense and those interests of the United States.