Vitter’s View: 10 Years of Rebirth; We’re Not Done Yet

It was 10 years ago when we lost so much because of Hurricane Katrina. The horrific scenes of families on rooftops, homes completely under water, businesses abandoned – these memories will stay with us forever.

And in the 10 years since, Louisianians have fought hard to rebuild, recover, and have a rebirth. It’s our innate strength, determination, and resilience that have been the driving forces behind our recovery and is a good indicator that our future is brighter than ever.

Even now, while much progress has been made, there is much more work to do. We are certainly better off in Southeast Louisiana than the day before Katrina, but the job isn’t done yet. That’s why I pledge my ongoing commitment to work with the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, state agencies, and local communities to make sure storm protection and levees and coastal restoration remain a priority.

Just last year, I was able to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) into law, which made critical reforms to the Corps that reduce red tape, expedite construction, and hold them accountable to a higher standard. My legislation also instituted a national levee safety program that provides local leadership with the necessary tools to ensure that their communities have the ability to repair and rehabilitate levees that were built to protect them.

These are just a few of the positive changes I’ve been working on to make sure that Louisiana is protected in the future. But the flood protection system is just one part of ensuring a brighter future. Citizens and elected officials need to commit to making our communities safer, and that absolutely includes fighting the crime epidemic currently rearing its ugly head. Natural disasters and violent criminals aren’t going to wait for us to tell them when we’re ready – we need strong leadership and focus to protect our people now. 10 years of positive recovery is far too important to let thugs ruin it.

The threat of natural disaster will always remain for those of us living in Louisiana, but let’s get a grip on the things we can control – like fighting violent crime. I know that in the years to come, Louisianians will continue to demonstrate their resolve and spirit as we rebuild and recover from Hurricane Katrina. And as long as we continue working together, our future will bright.

Helping Veteran Entrepreneurs Start & Grow Their Businesses

I’m proud to report that the Senate unanimously passed my bipartisan legislation, the Veterans Small Business Ownership Improvements Act of 2015, which will support our brave servicemen and women as they transition into civilian life as small business entrepreneurs.

My bill offers resources and support to veteran small business owners. Also last week, I was also able to pass 2 other veteran bills, all of which help Louisiana’s entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Specifically, these bills ensure that veterans and their families have appropriate training, agencies are provided essential oversight and program coordination, and the veteran mentor/client matching process is improved.

Click here to watch a recent news story on my Veterans Entrepreneurship bill.

As Chairman of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, I’m committed to providing the best resources for business development and entrepreneurial programs. Right now, business owners find that complying with federal taxes is more burdensome than the actual taxes. Clearly something needs to change, which is why I’ve introduced a bill to help business owners spend less time on confusing paperwork and more time growing their business. Click here for more information.

From David’s Desk: July Recap

Do you remember the ALS ice bucket challenge last summer? Folks across the country poured buckets of ice water over their heads to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. One of the biggest advocates for ALS patients is our own Steve Gleason, formerly with the Saints. He was diagnosed with ALS in January 2011.

This month, we got a big win for the ALS community – Congress passed my Steve Gleason Act, which will make the speech-generating devices that ALS patients use more accessible and affordable. Click here to read more.

Steve and the rest of Team Gleason have been an incredible inspiration. Thanks to their tireless work, we’ll be able change the lives of ALS patients and their families.

Please continue reading below to learn more about other ways I’m working to serve Louisiana in the U.S. Senate.

No White Flags!

David Vitter

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

Video Spotlight: Fighting Back Against Iran Deal and Sanctuary Cities

I’m concerned that the Obama Administration is putting our country in a dangerous position – from its really bad nuclear deal with Iran to its sanctuary cities policies that are endangering folks across the country. Continue reading below to learn more about these issues. 

Speaking Out Against the Iran Deal

Earlier this month, President Obama announced a nuclear deal between the United States and five other nations with Iran. Frankly, this agreement is a really bad deal for America, for Israel, and for freedom. First, under its own terms, the deal accepts Iran eventually getting nuclear weapons. Second, there are huge holes in verification which, to me, make it certain that Iran will successfully cheat. I’ve introduced legislation that would try to help fix this. Click here to read more.

Putting a Stop to Sanctuary Cities

You may have heard about a tragic incidence in San Francisco recently where a young woman, Kate Steinle, was killed by an illegal immigrant who had previously been deported five times after seven felony convictions. He was allowed to live in San Francisco because it’s considered a sanctuary city, or a city that refuses to comply with federal immigration laws. I’ve introduced legislation that would withhold funding from these cities if they continue to ignore our immigration laws. Click here to read more.

Investing in our Highways, Roads and Bridges

Roads and infrastructure are literally the foundation of our everyday lives. That’s why I’ve been working on a long-term highway bill that will make the updates that our nation’s roads and bridges desperately need. And our bill will reduce traffic congestion, which will allow folks to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families. The Senate passed a short-term highway bill this month, and I’ll continue working on legislation to make these long-term investments. Click here to read more.

Investigating Washington’s Obamacare Exemption

I’ve been fighting for years to end Washington’s Exemption from Obamacare. It’s a loophole that allows Washington insiders to get a special subsidy to offset their healthcare costs. As Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, I led an investigation into how this exemption came to be created. My report documents how Congress exempted itself from Obamacare by qualifying itself as a “small business” – even though it employs roughly 15,000 people. Click here to read more.

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.