|It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your United States Senator. Thank you for subscribing to my weekly email update - a brief summary of some of the more notable events during the last seven days. I hope you'll find this useful and informative. You can also follow my regular updates from Florida and Washington via You Tube, Twitter and Facebook.
If you want to share this newsletter with a friend, sign them up today at http://LeMieux.Senate.gov
Upcoming Jobs Events
I know Floridians are facing difficult times and that is why I developed a multi-faceted effort to help Floridians find jobs, create jobs and increase their incomes. Currently, Florida's unemployment rate is 12.2 percent - the highest it has been in Florida's history.
In an effort to help job-seeking Floridians find work, I have been holding a series of job fairs across Florida. In conjunction with area employers, I have already hosted three successful job fairs in March that have put Floridians in touch with potential employers, as well as existing programs and groups dedicated to helping job seekers. Last week, my office joined with the U.S. Department of Commerce to host a Small Business Export Expo providing an opportunity for Floridians to network with people and groups who are experts in the export promotion field. Upcoming job events include:
- Thursday, April 8, 2010
Marion County Job and Community Resource Fair
- Tuesday, April 13, 2010
WorkNet Pinellas Job Fair
- Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Health Care: A Missed Opportunity
The massive health care bill the President signed into law last week represents a missed opportunity. It fails to achieve its main goal of lowering the cost of health care for most Americans. In addition, the bill cuts more than $500 billion from health care for seniors and uses that money to create a new entitlement program that will lead to increased deficit spending.
To highlight the problems associated with expanding Medicaid, the failing program intended to be the health care safety net for low-income individuals, I introduced an amendment to require all Members of Congress to enroll in Medicaid. I believe since Congress has forced an additional 16 million Americans into Medicaid through the massive health care overhaul, members of Congress ought to enroll in that plan, too. A majority of senators opposed my amendment by a vote of 59 to 40. I have no doubt that if my amendment had become law, Congress would take the necessary steps to improve the program. Click the video below to hear my colloquy on the issue.
Under the bill President Obama signed into law, 1.77 million more Floridians will be forced into Medicaid - costing our state an additional $1 billion.
Additionally, I have pledged to sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government. I sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum commending his effort to highlight the unconstitutional nature of the health care bill. Click the video below to see me talk about this effort on CNN.
Stop the Federal Takeovers
Included in the health care "fixer" legislation called the reconciliation bill, are provisions allowing the federal government to take over the student loan program. This will deprive 15 million students the ability to choose among 2,000 lenders and force them into the federal student loan system.
What's more, under this legislation Washington would eliminate an estimated 31,000 jobs - including 1,200 in Florida. Recently, I visited the Sallie Mae facilities near Panama City, FL. I made clear my support for a solution that protects these private sector jobs in a fiscally prudent way.
During debate, I asked colleagues to halt the takeover at least until Congress could explore the issue and find a bipartisan solution. Unfortunately, the majority wouldn't even let my amendment come to a vote. This federal takeover will have become law without a single congressional hearing on the substance of the provisions.
On health care, student loans, and a number of other national issues, Washington lawmakers need to listen to the concerns of Floridians and others around the nation and conduct the people's work in an open and transparent fashion. Americans expect and deserve to see, hear and provide input on the process of lawmaking. Anything less is a disservice to the democratic process.
Designating a "Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran's Day"
Recently, I joined efforts to designate March 30th as a nationally recognized day to honor the courage and sacrifice of the 58,000 Americans who died, and the more than 300,000 wounded during the Vietnam War.
While some states and localities set aside a day of appreciation for these brave individuals, a national day of honor will provide the fitting recognition these veterans deserve.
Our nation is truly grateful for the sacrifices made by our veterans while serving in South Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.
One of my primary goals is to make sure Floridians are well served by Federal agencies. From time to time, I will share accounts of how our office has helped a Floridian.
Recently, a constituent contacted our office for assistance after his Social Security benefits were suspended. A caseworker on our staff contacted the Social Security Administration (SSA) to inquire about the constituent's suspended account. Upon speaking with the SSA, our office learned there were concerns that the constituent's SSA benefits were not managed properly by a legally designated trustee of those funds. The caseworker notified the constituent of the SSA's concerns, and with his permission the SSA contacted the designated trustee to discuss financial management policies. Consequently, the SSA removed the trustee and lifted the suspension on the constituent's account. A back pay check was deposited into the constituent's bank account and benefit payments have resumed.
If you are experiencing a problem with a federal agency, please contact our Orlando Regional Office by calling (407) 254-2573 to speak with a member of the Casework Department. The toll-free number for Florida residents is (866) 630-7106. To find out more about how my office can help you, go to http://lemieux.senate.gov
or stop by one of our scheduled Community Office Hours in your area.