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Columbia County Observer

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US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
September 22, 2011

NASA Announces New Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle

At a press conference on Wednesday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, along with Senators Nelson and Hutchison, unveiled the agency’s plans for a new heavy-lift rocket that will take our astronauts into deep space. The rocket will be the most powerful ever built and will allow NASA astronauts to venture to destinations like asteroids, the moon and— eventually--Mars. The rocket was authorized under legislation led by Senator Nelson at the end of last year.

This announcement marks an important step in ensuring America remains an international leader in space.

Extension of the FAA and Surface Transportation Programs  

For more information
Lynn Bannister: Director of Outreach
111 North Adams St
Tallahassee, FL  32301
850-942-8415 / 850-942-8450 (fax)
billnelson.senate.gov

On September 15, the Senate voted to extend the FAA’s operating authority through January 31, 2012, and to extend surface transportation programs for six months through March 31, 2012.

This extends important safety programs (such as Alcohol-Impaired Driving Countermeasures Incentive grants and Child Safety and Child Booster Seat Safety Incentive grants) and extends authorization to continue collecting the gas tax, which supports the construction and maintenance of our national transportation infrastructure, as well as mass transit programs, research, grants and enforcement.

 President Obama signed this bill, HR 2887, into law on September 16. 

Senate Disaster Relief Funding

Senator Nelson voted for passage of H.J.Res 66, the Burma sanctions bill, with an amendment to add over $6.9 billion to agencies supporting disaster relief and recovery efforts, including the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and the Army Corps of Engineers.

 This funding package would add $5.1 billion to FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DFR), with $500 million for FY11 and $4.6 billion for FY12. The DFR is currently at $377 million, with recent disasters including flooding, tornadoes, Hurricane Irene and wildfires estimated to have incurred $6-$7 billion of damage. FEMA has halted recovery projects in all 50 states to focus funds on immediate disaster needs only. As of last week, projects totaling $65,879,997 are being held up in Florida.

This supplemental appropriations bill would direct $1.349 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, channel dredging, damage repair to federal projects, and other expenses from the disasters. The remaining money (around $450 million) will be divided between emergency conservation, forest restoration, and watershed protection in the Department of Agriculture, economic development program in the Department of Commerce, and community development funds in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The House will address disaster funding this week, though the bill it is considering would appropriate billions less for disaster relief. September 20, 2011

Tax Reform Hearing

Last week, Senator Nelson chaired a Finance Subcommittee hearing to explore whether tax reform could generate enough revenue to lower marginal rates and contribute to deficit reduction.

Among a panel of economists who testified at the hearing was Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman from 1987 until 2006, and Martin Feldstein, chief economic advisor to President Reagan from 1982 to 1984.

Many of the panelists agreed on the need for comprehensive tax reform, and estimates for the amount of revenue that could be generated through tax simplification ranged from $1 trillion to $4 trillion. 

National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week

Senator Nelson cosponsored S.RES.269, which designated the week beginning September 19, 2011, as "National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week.” It passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The resolution highlights the 105 HBCUs in the country.

National Life Insurance Awareness Month

Senator Nelson is an original cosponsor of a resolution supporting the National Life Insurance Awareness Month. Many people in the U.S. recognize life insurance is important to protecting their loved ones, providing a source of financial relief and security to families who suffer a loss. September 2011 is the time to encourage consumers to be informed of their life insurance needs and receive financial planning assistance to protect from premature death, disability, and long-term care.

The life insurance industry employs approximately 46,000 people and supports approximately 56,000 non insurance jobs in Florida.

Original date: September 20, 2011 ed.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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