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Jobs and Security
Column by Sen. Trent Lott

British thinker Paul Johnson said that “nothing appeals to intellectuals more than the feeling that they represent people.  Nothing, as a rule, is further from the truth.”  It’s the same for national leaders.  The Senate regularly evokes “the people” but often loses sense for what folks outside the beltway really want.  Well, I’m thankful that Mississippians never let their Senators forget what’s important.  So, I’ve put forth a legislative agenda based on what Americans care most about – jobs and security.

* Highway Bill – No single piece of legislation has a greater impact on public safety and on our economy than the highway bill, and the Senate and House now are trying to craft a final measure.  I’m a conferee on this bill – charged with resolving the differences between the Senate and House initial versions – and, as the chairman of the Senate’s Surface Transportation Subcommittee, I authored this bill’s safety provisions.  It will govern our highways for the next six years, improving our roads and bridges, both of which now suffer 30 percent deficiencies.  Better roads will save lives and help create new jobs, and I want this bill to be law before summer ends so that construction can begin on the roads and projects it covers.

* Immigration Bill – Mississippians have welcomed many new immigrants from places like Southeast Asia, Mexico and India.  Most of these folks have assimilated and become part of our communities.  They want and need work.  Yet, we know that many immigrants come to America illegally.  Unlike the legal immigration which came through Ellis Island a century ago, illegal immigrants are straining America’s financial resources.  And, in this age of terrorism, some are coming here for sinister purposes.  Americans want Washington to address the illegal immigration problem before another domestic terrorist attack, not after.  Americans recognize that many immigrants come here for a better life, and we want that dream to continue legally.  I’ve advised President Bush that any immigration reform proposal containing amnesty for illegal aliens is unacceptable.  We need a immigration bill that puts America’s security first.

* Energy Bill – All Americans understand that our nation is too dependent on foreign energy sources.  We have different ideas about how to become energy independent, but we all agree that we must.  On the Senate floor this week is an energy proposal calling for more domestic energy exploration, and conservation and research centered around what we now consider “alternative” energy, but which could indeed be tomorrow’s standard energy sources.  Americans care little about bickering between energy producers and environmentalists.  They want an energy plan that protects jobs and keeps energy – including gasoline prices – affordable.

* Education – As a federal legislator, I have little authority over our state government’s elementary and secondary schools, but I’m able to assist our secondary schools with federal investments in research, new academic programs and other initiatives.  The Senate should act to reauthorize programs to support accessibility and affordability of higher education, and support more links of our colleges and universities with the business sector.  More and more, companies seeking to put jobs in our state want strong ties with local universities and community colleges.  These relationships no longer are an option for economic growth, but a necessity.

* Lawsuit Reform – Public outcry against out-of-control lawsuits have forced state and federal governments to enact tort reforms designed to protect jobs.  Now before the Senate is a proposal to end the many outstanding asbestos lawsuits by consolidating them into one award pool.  Both employers and injured workers have agreed to this concept.  Yet, there still are some who clearly have sued without merit, actions unfair to workers suffering real injury or to employers trying to stay afloat.  We must pass an asbestos bill equally designed to help injured workers and protect jobs.

Each of these bills represents, not Washington’s agenda, but America’s.  Security and jobs comprise the agenda people really care about.  It doesn’t take an “intellectual” to see it or to enact it.  (06/10/05)

Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column. 

Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office) or Email: senatorlott@lott.senate.gov

Editor's Note: GCN published Sen. Trent Lott's column with no editing or changes.

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