Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a joint hearing with the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations on the current Ebola virus outbreak, which has been ravaging West Africa. As a committee, we heard testimony from:
You can read each of the witnesses’ opening statements and watch the full committee hearing here.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented – the world has never before seen an Ebola outbreak take such a toll in terms of the number of infected cases and deaths, or the human devastation sweeping across West Africa. The United States has no choice but to lead the global response effort to swiftly extinguish this epidemic and the threat it presents. It is in our nation’s best interest to work with our international partners to deploy all tools at our disposal to stop the spread of this horrible virus and speed the development of medicines to prevent and treat it. I am committed to making sure we do what it takes to defeat this deadly epidemic.
You can watch my questioning of Panel One, which includes questions about the fundamentals of the disease and what tools are needed to combat the outbreak, here and Panel Two here, where I ask questions of the American doctor who contracted and survived Ebola and a Program Manager from one of West Africa’s worst hit areas, Sierra Leone.
Thirteen years ago our nation suffered an unthinkable tragedy that redefined many of our lives. Hundreds of millions of people across the world watched as a small group of extremists tried to tear down our way of life. But instead of caving under our loss, we met their senseless violence with the strength of our resolve, our capacity to care, and commitment to each other.
We responded, and thousands of our men and women in uniform deployed to the ends of the globe and put our nation before their own safety. We continue to owe them a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
On September 11, 2012, our diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya came under attack and we lost four brave Americans to a group of extremists.
I urge every American to take time today for somber remembrance, reflection, and prayer. While we must not forget the tragedies that have taken place, we should also try to remember the sense of unity and patriotism that was so prevalent in the weeks after 9/11. Let us put aside our differences and once again focus on those things that bind us, for we are all Americans, and we will forever be one nation under God.
On June 6, 1944, tens of thousands of Americans and allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy and fought the battles that liberated France. The sacrifices that those men and women made on D-Day and in the campaign that followed changed the course of history.
I recently had the chance to visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. The day was bright and the beauty of the hallowed grounds belied the chaos and struggle that took place on Normandy's wild beaches and bluffs. Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, freedom prevailed.
Today, on the 70th anniversary, we remember those whose lives were lost during that invasion and we honor all those who served Please take a minute to thank a veteran that you know for his or her service to our country. They willingly and unselfishly put their lives on the line to protect our country and our freedom.
The legacy of the Greatest Generation has inspired and sustained the young men and women currently serving our country abroad. Today we also remember we still have work to do on behalf of all of our veterans who return home from the battlefield. We must remain unwavering in our commitment to provide for those who were fortunate enough to come home and who now face their own challenges as they continue to contribute to the success of this great nation.
Yesterday was not a day of celebration, but a day marked by broken promises, numerous delays, and special exemptions. Sunday marked the four year anniversary of Obamacare becoming law.
Before and after Obamacare was enacted, the President promised that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” This statement was repeated by the President’s allies in Congress, defended by his allies in the media, and for which he was awarded “Lie of the Year” by Politifact in 2013. He also promised that under Obamacare, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.” Unfortunately for the American people this was simply not true. The President’s health care law has left millions of Americans with cancelled health plans – at least 4.7 million according to the Associated Press.
President Obama also promised affordable health care, claiming that Obamacare would bring down premiums for families by $2,500. Instead, Americans have watched their premiums increase by an average of 41% in the individual market with reports of more double digit increases on the way.
The President's $2.6 trillion budget-busting law took over $700 billion from Medicare to fund new entitlements and expanded Medicaid—an unsustainable and broken health care program in which some 40% of physicians on average will not even see Medicaid patients.
To help control and keep costs down, the President’s healthcare law established an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats—the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)—with the power to make arbitrary cuts to Medicare. Such arbitrary cuts by unaccountable Washington bureaucrats will threaten seniors’ access to care.
It seems like every day another employer reduces hours or stops offering insurance in response to Obamacare's mandates. Last week I posted a story from WTVD in North Carolina describing how “employers are trying to get their arms around what the new health care law will mean, both for their bottom line and their workers, specifically their part-time workers.” The President only continues to create further uncertainty for businesses and employees with each new delay for his unworkable law.
Obamacare’s costly mandates are resulting in lost jobs, including an estimated 43,000 jobs lost in the medical device industry alone due to the medical device tax.
This week the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Hobby Lobby case, reminding the American people how Obamacare—in addition to its government mandates driving up the cost of health care and hurting our nation’s economy—also violates our nation’s long-standing principles of religious freedom and conscious protections.
Senate Democrats clearly see Obamacare as a problem for them, and have already begun holding hearings about follow-on healthcare reforms. Rather than absorbing the lessons of the last four years, Senate Democrats appear eager to double down on the Obamacare experiment by getting the government even more involved in healthcare. The American people have a vested interest in the direction our nation's health care system is headed, and reform legislation must be focused on empowering them and their doctors—not the government.
Today Brooke and I would like to wish the Reverend Billy Graham a happy 95th birthday. Rev. Graham has reached billions of people worldwide and has certainly touched the state of North Carolina with his kindness, wisdom and love. We are a more compassionate nation because of Rev. Graham’s life’s work and it is my hope his teachings continue to resonate and have an impact for years to come.
Today marks a solemn day for our nation as we remember with great sadness the many precious lives we lost in the attacks of September 11, 2001. The perpetrators of those senseless acts of violence sought to challenge our freedoms and tear down our way of life, but were instead met with the strength of our resolve, our capacity to care, and commitment to each other.
This anniversary, we must tragically open our hearts for four more souls. Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods were taken from us during the attack on our embassy in Benghazi last year and we will never forget their bravery and service to our nation.
We will never forget those who died and the survivors, but let us also always remember the heroes and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our safety and freedoms since that fateful morning.
If you're one of the 11 million students in the purple block, wouldn't you much rather be under our bill where 100% of undergrads see relief?
We live in a country that has built on the hard work, determination, and sacrifice of the generations that came before us so let us never waiver in our commitment to pass on a hopeful future. Let us also never forget that this celebration would not be possible without those who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces. We thank them for their selfless service and pray for them and their families.
God bless you all and may God bless the United States of America. Happy Fourth of July.