Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
May 23, 2012

Dignified Burial for Veterans

Senator Nelson and other members introduced the Dignified Burial of Veterans Act of 2012, which would authorize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to furnish a casket or urn to a deceased veteran when VA is unable to identify the veteran’s next-of-kin and determines that sufficient resources are not otherwise available to furnish a casket or urn for burial in a national cemetery.

This bill would further require that VA report back to Congress on the industry standard for urns and caskets and whether burials at VA’s national cemeteries are meeting that standard.

The members introduced this legislation after a veteran, with no known next-of-kin, was buried in a cardboard container at a VA National Cemetery in Florida. The exposed remains were discovered during a raise and realign project at the cemetery. 

Student Loans Rates

Senator Nelson voted in favor of a cloture motion that would have allowed the Senate to debate S. 2343, the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012. This bill would maintain lower interest rates on federal Stafford loans for undergraduate students. Without congressional action, the rate will double to 6.8%, which would affect some 7.5 million students – including almost a half million Floridians.

 The motion failed to reach 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and did not pass.

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

Export-Import Bank Wins Approval

Senator Nelson voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which passed by a vote of 78 to 20.

In addition to extending the bank’s authorization to September 30, 2014, the bill phases-in a $40 billion increase in the agency’s lending capacity, requires the agency to maintain default rates below 2 percent, and includes new reporting requirements. As part of a compromise, the bill also requires the Treasury Department to negotiate with our trading partners for the global end of export credit support.

Export-Import Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States, financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. The agency is self-sustaining, as it does not require federal appropriations, and often generates a surplus of revenue transmitting millions of dollars to the U.S. Treasury.

Joint STARS Re-Engining

Senator Nelson joined other members in a letter to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force to support re-engining of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft fleet.

The members requested the Air Force spend all the authorized and appropriated re-engining funding and sufficiently budget funds to sustain JSTARS and the important ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) mission in the future.

Since the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the GMTI capability of JSTARS has been a critical factor in successful U.S. military operations and today GMTI remains a top requirement from the combatant commands.

Chesapeake Energy Investigation

Senator Nelson sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force urging Attorney General Holder to investigate Chesapeake Energy Corp. for any wrongdoing with respect to fraud, price manipulation, conflicts-of-interest, or other illegal activities.

It was reported last month that Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon ran a $200 million hedge fund that traded in the same commodities Chesapeake produces and took personal loans out from Chesapeake lenders using his interest in wells drilled by the company as collateral.

 The reports raise concerns that McClendon's personal financial deals could compromise his fiduciary duty to Chesapeake. Since Chesapeake is the second largest producer of natural gas, its activities could have significant implications for energy prices, energy markets, and American consumers.

Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief

Senator Nelson is a cosponsor of the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act currently pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

As our housing market continues to recover, homeowners are forced to engage in short sales, foreclosures, or voluntarily restructuring of their loans. This bill would prevent taxing of loan forgiveness as income through 2014 and could be of particular help to those homeowners impacted by Chinese drywall.

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

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