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McConnell

Kentucky Airports and Consumers Will Benefit from Airport Security Legislation Passed by Republican-Led Senate; Now Goes to President for Signature

SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

This bill is an ‘important step to ensuring safety and security for American travelers… [and] another example of how the Senate under Republican leadership is prioritizing America’s vital transportation network’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Senate passage of a bipartisan bill which aims to keep Americans safe in

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) photographed at the Capitol on December 2, 2008.  Photograph by Karen Ballard

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) photographed at the Capitol on December 2, 2008. Photograph by Karen Ballard

our airports and in the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, which will benefit communities and airports across the country, including those in Kentucky, is headed to the President for his signature.

“I applaud the Senate for passing this bipartisan aviation bill, which is an important step to ensuring safety and security for American travelers,” Senator McConnell said. “Recent terror attacks, like those at the airports in Brussels and in Istanbul, underline the importance of this bill, which represents the most significant airport security reform in a decade. Passage of this bill is yet another example of how the Senate under Republican leadership is prioritizing America’s vital transportation network.”

By shoring up security for international flights coming into U.S. airports, by enhancing vetting for aviation employees, and by improving security in pre-screening zones that are often vulnerable, the airport security bill works to protect airline passengers. The bill also takes steps to keep Americans safer from active shooter threats, by authorizing more so-called ‘VIPR’ teams. It will also help make sure airports are better equipped to respond to and disarm threats that come their way, by bolstering resources and training for security personnel.

In addition to these smart security enhancements, the bill also includes a number of key items to improve safety in our skies, such as ensuring that unmanned aerial vehicles don’t interfere with emergency response and improving mental health screenings for pilots.  It also includes a number of consumer-protection provisions too, like refunds for lost or delayed baggage and improvements to travel for disabled passengers and parents with small children. The bill accomplishes all of this without raising fees or taxes on passengers, and without imposing heavy-handed regulations that threaten consumer choice.

Eric J. Frankl, A.A.E., Executive Director of the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, said, “We were pleased to see the action taken by the Senate today to provide for much-needed investment in our aviation infrastructure, and I sincerely appreciate Senator McConnell’s continued support and prioritization of our nation’s transportation infrastructure. This bill not only provides stability for aviation funding but it will reauthorize important programs that enhance security at airports and provide additional protections for airline customers.”

Skip Miller, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, said, “The security measures in the FAA re-authorization bill will reassure air travelers that tools are in place to provide adequate protection.  We are also grateful for the funding certainty provided by the re-authorization, as repeated short-term extensions over the past year have been disruptive to financing our ongoing operational needs, and I want to thank Senator McConnell for his leadership on this vital issue.”

Juva Barber, Executive Director of Kentuckians for Better Transportation, said, “Passage of this FAA authorization bill will help Kentucky’s airports and the traveling public and we are very appreciative of Senator McConnell for continuing to prioritize Kentucky’s transportation infrastructure needs in Congress.”

NOTE: In 2015, Sen. McConnell helped shepherd through the Senate and to enactment a five-year highway and surface transportation bill, the longest-term transportation bill to pass Congress in almost two decades.

‘Truly a Comprehensive Response to the Opioid Epidemic’

SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

‘This Senate has provided more than twice as much funding for opioid-related issues as under the previous Senate majority…The sooner we send this bill to the president’s desk, the sooner we can help our communities begin to heal from the prescription opioid and heroin crisis. And another way to do that is by passing the conference report that would fight Zika and enact record levels of funding for veterans’ Medical Services, including millions for substance abuse and treatment.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and funding to support veterans, anti-Zika efforts:

“Angie was ‘a beautiful girl with a heart of gold and a smile that would light up a room’ before her life was changed by heroin. Angie described her addiction to her mother saying, ‘Mom, I need this drug like I need air to breathe.’ It would take Angie experiencing an overdose and her mom begging her to quit before she agreed to seek treatment. Unfortunately though, like so many addicts, Angie left the treatment facility and started using again. She told her mother, ‘I’m in a black hole and I can’t get out.’ Angie would end up dying from an overdose, her body dumped callously at the bottom of a muddy creek by her drug dealer.

“Tragically, Angie’s story is just one glimpse into the widespread prescription opioid and heroin epidemic sweeping our country. In fact, drug overdoses now claim 129 lives a day.

“The families of these victims know more must be done to prevent others from enduring the pain of drug addiction and overdose.

“Anti-drug groups and law enforcement officials also know more must be done to prevent the widespread loss communities have experienced at the hand of this crisis. That’s why nearly 250 anti-drug and law enforcement groups across the country have voiced their support for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) conference report. Just last week, these groups collectively sent a letter urging passage of this legislation, which they called a ‘truly a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic’ that represents ‘the critical response we need.’

“These groups represent states from coast to coast, from Lifehouse Recovery Connection in California…to Justice and Recovery Advocates in Maryland…to Friends of Recovery in New York …among dozens and dozens of others. They’ve seen the crisis firsthand and they know the positive impact this bipartisan comprehensive response can have. Here’s what I mean.

“The National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities has asked Congress to ‘act quickly’ and pass the CARA conference report. They call it a ‘…a pivotal step towards stemming the tide of this epidemic.’ The Addiction Policy Forum has warned Congress ‘not [to] play politics’ by blocking passage of this CARA conference report. They call it ‘a monumental step forward — a tipping point to better addressing the paralyzing opioid epidemic.’ The Faces and Voices of Recovery has urged support too. They call it ‘the most expansive federal, bipartisan legislation to date for addiction support services’ and they say it can ‘help save the lives of countless people.’ And the Fraternal Order of Police has asked Congress ‘to adopt the conference report’ on behalf of its more than 330,000 members. They call it another ‘…tool to reduce the deaths from this epidemic.’

“We’re just one step away from sending this legislation to the president’s desk. The House overwhelmingly passed it, by a vote of 407-5. With continued cooperation, the Senate can send it to the president this week.

“This Senate has provided more than twice as much funding for opioid-related issues as under the previous Senate majority. Let me say that again, this Senate has provided more than twice as much funding for opioid-related issues as under the previous Senate majority.

“The passage of CARA would represent another crucial step towards combatting this crisis. It wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering commitment of members like Senator Portman, Senator Ayotte, Senator Grassley, and Senator Alexander to move this bill forward. From raising awareness about this crisis to serving as voices for the voiceless and working across the aisle to develop this comprehensive legislative response, these Senators were resolute in their support. In no small part because of their efforts to drive this bill forward, communities will be better equipped to prevent heroin and prescription opioid abuse in the first place, just as they’ll be better equipped to save lives and foster treatment and recovery. I want to also recognize the work of Democratic members, like Senator Whitehouse and Senator Klobuchar, for their efforts to help garner support for this bill and move it through the legislative process.

“There’s no reason every Senator shouldn’t support it now. The sooner we send this bill to the president’s desk, the sooner we can help our communities begin to heal from the prescription opioid and heroin crisis. And another way to do that is by passing the conference report that would fight Zika and enact record levels of funding for veterans’ Medical Services, including millions for substance abuse and treatment.

“Democrats are clearly very nervous about their decision to attack women’s health and veterans with their filibuster of the anti-Zika funding bill. Who can blame them? They’ve put forth a variety of tortured excuses that don’t stand up to scrutiny. They’ve offered a proposal that they hope would provide political cover — by ditching funding for our nation’s veterans. That’s not a solution.

“I don’t know how Democrats plan to explain any of this to veterans this summer. I certainly don’t know how Democrats plan to explain this to pregnant mothers. Either Democrats believe Zika is a crisis that requires immediate action, or they do not.

“Republicans believe we ought to pass this bill now because this is a crisis. Our friends across the aisle will have to decide if they feel the same or if a partisan political group is worth delaying funding to protect families from Zika or funding our veterans.

“There is only one option to get anti-Zika funding on the President’s desk before September, and that is passing the compromise Zika-control and veterans funding legislation before us and sending it to him. The rules don’t allow for a conference report to be amended, and re-passing the same bill that went to conference won’t put a bill on the President’s desk, it won’t create a vaccine, it won’t kill a single mosquito, and it won’t help a single pregnant mother. So let’s do the right thing for our nation and pass the legislation before us.”

General Officer Announcements

SOURCE:  DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the president has made the following nominations:

Air Force Lt. Gen. John L. Dolan for appointment to the rank of lieutenant-general, and for assignment as director for operations, J-3, Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, District of Columbia.  Dolan is currently serving as commander, U.S. Forces Japan; and commander, Fifth Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson for appointment to the rank of lieutenant-general, and for assignment as deputy commander, United Nations Command Korea; deputy commander, U.S. Forces Korea; commander, Air Component Command, Republic of Korea/U.S. Combined Forces Command; and commander, Seventh Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Osan Air Base, South Korea.  Bergeson is currently serving as director, Legislative Liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, District of Columbia.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard M. Clark for appointment to the rank of lieutenant-general, and for assignment as commander, Third Air Force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.  Clark is currently serving as commander, Eighth Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Global Strike Command, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana; and joint functional component commander for Global Strike, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Geary for appointment to the rank of major-general.  Geary is currently serving as the director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, strategy, plans, policy and force development, Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, District of Columbia. 

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