Rob Woodall

Rob Woodall

GEORGIA's 7th DISTRICT

Washington Watch - 4/16/18

2018/04/16

HOUSE CONSIDERS BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION

Each year that I have been in Congress, you and I have voted for a balanced budget.  Sometimes those budgets succeed in the House, and sometimes they failed.  Passage of a budget, though, is but one step.  After the budget passes, Congress must then support the very difficult changes that must be made to achieve balance.  Again, each year you and I support those changes, but finding majorities—sometimes in the House and always in the Senate—to join us has proven incredibly difficult.  I am not giving up, and I am still optimistic that you and I will succeed in our goal.

That said, the challenge of balancing the federal budget quickly is getting harder every day.  So, last week, I joined my colleagues in supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- H.J.Res. 2 --  that would require the federal government to issue a balanced budget for each fiscal year. Of course there might be times of war where it may be necessary to exceed this limitation, but the balanced budget amendment would make for an exception in that regard. It would also allow a super majority of Members to exceed that threshold if they deemed it necessary for any reason. However, it would create a new normal, not one that spends beyond our means, but one that is responsible and spends your tax dollars efficiently. The House was able to pass this measure back in the 104th Congress, failing passage in the Senate by only one vote. Unfortunately, our effort failed again, this time unable to garner enough support on the House floor. 

 

While we did not achieve the super-majority vote threshold required by the Constitution for a constitutional amendment, I know that we did change some minds.  Hopefully, those changed minds will make a difference in our budget process this year.  We must continue to push for fiscal discipline so that we do not leverage our children’s futures because we would not make the tough decisions today. 

 

TRUMP ORDERS ATTACK AGAINST TARGETS IN SYRIA

Late Friday evening, the U.S. military carried out joint airstrikes with British and French forces on three chemical weapons sites in Syria. These airstrikes were in direct response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack on its own citizens the week prior – an attack that killed more than 40 people. This is the second such chemical attack in the past year and a half, and as President Trump said last week: “These are not the actions of a man, they are the crimes of a monster instead.” Certainly, anyone or any nation that stands on the side of a murderous regime that feels empowered to kill, through one of the most brutal means available, its own people – innocent men, women, and children – should be met with the swift condemnation of the entire world. British Prime Minister Theresa May put it well when she said: “This persistent pattern of behavior must be stopped – not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and causalities caused by chemical weapons, but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons.”

While I absolutely believe that it is in America’s interest to stop the use of chemical weapons and to stand with our British and French allies in ensuring that the humanitarian crisis in Syria is contained and eliminated, I continue to be concerned about the lack of clear legal basis for carrying out these airstrikes. The U.S. Congress has never given the President – neither President Obama nor President Trump – the authority to engage our military in Syria in this way. And while I firmly believe that the humanitarian crisis is worthy of our involvement in some capacity, it is essential that President Trump work with Congress to ensure that our involvement is legal. We must work to craft a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that addresses the current situation in the Middle East. I pushed for this during the Obama Administration, and it’s only fair to do so now. The House Foreign Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing this Wednesday that will focus on U.S. policy in the Middle East, and I hope that the issue of a new AUMF will be discussed during that hearing.

 

CBO RELEASES BUDGET AND ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released the most recent report on the Budget and Economic Outlook. While the report is normally released in January, the folks at CBO went back to incorporate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Bipartisan Budget Act, and the FY2018 spending package in order to reflect the legislations’ effects on the economy moving forward. To be frank, the economic data is not as favorable as we would like as it projects trillions more added to the deficit and skyrocketing interest rates that consume a substantial part of our federal budget. While disappointing, this does not come as a shock as we have yet to address our growing problem with mandatory spending. 

What is news, however, is the positive economic growth projected as a direct result of the tax reform bill we passed at the end of last year. CBO anticipates that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will lead to larger economic growth in the next few years than they initially anticipated, a rise in individual income, a decline in unemployment to as low as 3.3% next year, and – oddly enough – an increase in federal revenue. On the whole, this report simply tells us that our job is not finished. The report demonstrates that economic growth alone cannot fix our fiscal outlook; we must address our mandatory spending problem if we are going to get serious about getting our fiscal house in order. When CBO Director Keith Hall spoke with the House Budget Committee last Thursday, I had a chance to discuss this point with him. 

CLICK BELOW to watch the video of my discussion with Dr. Hall.

 

 

TAX DAY 2018 IS ALMOST HERE

As everyone no doubt knows, this upcoming Tuesday is Tax Day. Across the country, millions of Americans are rushing to tackle the labyrinth of confusing forms and paperwork or will spend additional money on top of their existing tax bill in order to file their taxes on time—and hoping to do so correctly. Every year, I hear from constituents about how frustrating this time can be. I’d much rather see everyone save the time and money they spend each year on taxes and enjoy Tax Day as simply another Spring day. That is why I am pleased to tell you that this is the last year of filing under the current complicated and burdensome tax code. As you may know, last year Congress passed and the President signed into law H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which radically simplified the tax code and reduced the tax burden for every American. This time next year, you should be spending less time doing taxes and more time with your families and friends. 

While I am certainly excited about the positive steps the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took, I am anxious to do more to stop the Federal government from digging into the American people’s pocketbooks and give more American’s the freedom to spend their paychecks as they see fit. That is why each Congress I have introduced H.R. 25, the “FairTax,” which would create a simple one-rate sales tax and abolish all exemptions, carve-outs, and special deals. Overnight, the FairTax would allow you to keep 100% of your income, and Tax Day would become a thing of the past. I have advocated for a simpler tax code my entire Congressional career, and there is no doubt that the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took positive steps towards the ideal of the FairTax by cutting the tax rates for all Americans and eliminating scores of deductions, exemptions, and carve outs, but it was just that, another step. I can assure you that I am eager to build on the success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and to continuing the pursuit of our shared goals of giving Americans more freedom and more money in their pockets. 

If you would like to learn more about the FairTax click HERE

 

HOUSE BRINGS COMMON-SENSE REGULATION TO SMALL COMMUNITY BANKS

When folks hear about “banks,” we often conjure images of pinstriped suits and Wall Street.  The truth is the bankers I trust—and the folks I have a relationship with—represent hometown banks that invest in our small businesses, donate to our schools, and that live, work, and contribute to our communities right here in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties. In fact, just this week I met with leaders of the Community Bankers of Georgia, an organization that represents banks like Peoples Bank & Trust in Buford, BrandBank in Lawrenceville, Providence Bank in Alpharetta, Quantum National Bank in Suwanee, Gwinnett Community Bank in Duluth, and Citizens Bank in Cumming. We discussed ways that Congress can improve the federal regulations that too often tie their hands and produce negative consequences for the customers they serve.  

The House approved one such idea on Friday, H.R. 4790, the "Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act."  This bill makes a change to the Dodd-Frank law, which aimed to rein in the reckless behavior and unmitigated greed from megabanks that contributed to the Great Recession. Unfortunately, this overly broad and hastily passed reform trapped many small community banks in the same regulatory framework as the megabanks that manage more than $10 billion in assets. This legislation maintains plenty of stringent oversight and regulatory protections for consumers who rely on the financial services industry, but it simply recognizes that our small community banks shouldn’t be regulated the same way as Wall Street.  This is one of many commonsense, bipartisan solutions the House has advanced to the Senate, and I am hopeful that we will be able to send this to the President’s desk in the coming weeks.

 

SELECT COMMITTEE ON BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS REFORM UPDATE: CONVERSATIONS CONTINUE, ON AND OFF THE RECORD

As you probably know, I have the privilege of serving on the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, and last Wednesday, that committee held its second official hearing. It was a closed hearing of the committee members and committee staff, and we heard from Congressional Research Service (CRS) experts on the history of Congress, including the history of the budget and appropriations process and past attempts to reform those processes. I can tell you without a doubt that our CRS experts are second-to-none in their historical knowledge, and I look forward to engaging with them throughout our reform process. But the best part of the hearing for me was listening to the questions that my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and from both chambers had for our experts. Each and every question was intended to shed some light on how previous reform efforts have succeeded or failed and the reasons why so that we can be certain to succeed in our current mission. 

I know that budget and appropriations process reform isn’t necessarily the most interesting topic for discussion, but I can tell you honestly that reforming the process so that it works better for the American people will help us work together – regardless of who is in charge of Congress or who is in the White House – and that working relationship will bring us closer to a well-functioning Congress. We all want Congress to get the job done, to pass laws that are in the best interest of most Americans, and to put partisanship second to patriotism. Having worked now for a month with the members of this committee, I can say for sure that I have faith in our ability to get something done for the American people. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: MAKING YOUR COMMUTE BETTER 

This week I wanted to focus on something I get to talk about and work on a lot as a member of the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: traffic and our roadways. We in Georgia’s Seventh District are all too familiar with how traffic affects our daily lives. Here is what a couple of you had to say about it.

Diego from Suwanee:

Over the last 10 years, metro Atlanta’s traffic congestion has grown from the 15th to the 4th worst in the country, making it the region’s top challenge to attracting and retaining companies and the high quality jobs that come with them. Business leaders say traffic is the biggest hindrance to running and expanding their companies. Future economic success in the region depends on doing business differently, as this region prepares for the next 2.3 million residents and 1.7 million jobs, the equivalent of the population of Greater Denver, coming to our region over the next 25 years.

George from Lilburn:

We need to fix our transportation systems and roadways. Highway 285 east after Atlanta is an absolute disaster. Potholes, cracks in the roadways, it looks awful out there with all the road debris. I’ve had to replace two windshields already with all the rocks that get thrown up from the roadways. What can we do? 

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As anyone who has sat on GA-400 or I-85 in rush hour traffic can attest, Diego and George are absolutely correct.  However, there are two major hurdles to making America’s infrastructure the best in the world:  funding and red tape.  We’ve taken immediate steps to address both of these problems in the last few weeks.  First, Congress passed and the President signed our annual spending bill in March that includes $86.2 billion ($8.8 billion more than last year) to invest in our transportation infrastructure. And just last week, the President took a major step to reduce the duplicative, overlapping bureaucracy that stalls important projects.  This additional funding is going to be targeted to the problems Diego and George highlighted, and paired with the President’s streamlining initiative, I expect that we will be seeing the benefits from these combined efforts sooner rather than later.

Over the long-term, there is no question that Congress needs to work with President Trump to pass a major infrastructure reform package.  This is one of the key issues that the American people voted for in 2016!   President Trump unveiled a visionary proposal to reimagine the federal government’s role in building our infrastructure and empower states, counties, and cities to make more of their own decisions with fewer federal mandates. The plan pairs $200 billion in federal spending with more than $1 trillion in state, local, and private funding to repair our broken infrastructure, as George described, and prepare for the needs of the future, as Diego pointed out.  The President’s legislative plan includes regulatory streamlining as well.  The complex matrix of federal rules governing infrastructure projects cost taxpayers too much time, money, and trust.  It’s so bad that using a federal dollar for a project can delay a badly-needed project by more than four years. That is why the President’s plan also calls for a permanent fix to our broken federal permit process.  When I-85 collapsed last year, we saw how quickly federal, state, local, and private entities can work together to complete a massive and vital project while being responsible stewards of our environment. We should apply these lessons to every major infrastructure project moving forward.

Despite our successes on the federal level, there is no substitute for state leadership, and Georgia has demonstrated this time and again.  Our state has committed to incorporating innovative solutions to effectively and efficiently manage our growing population and has set the standard for transportation management. Most recently, as some of you may have heard, Governor Deal allocated $100 million for transit projects in the FY19 state budget, and the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation to fund and incorporate the transit systems from across the 13 county metro-Atlanta region into one single system, ATL—the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority.  More examples of Georgia’s efforts include Diverging Diamond Interchanges and reversible roads, and the state is even considering an inland port and a truck-only lane. All of these solutions seek to drastically improve our surface transportation infrastructure.

There are exciting projects coming to our neighborhoods, and as they move forward, I look forward to your partnership in continuing to solve our transportation challenges. Thank you again for all of your correspondence last week. 

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

I think it’s safe to say that spring has arrived in the Seventh District! Azaleas, pollen, warmer temperatures (this morning excluded), and of course the quintessential sign of spring – baseball – are all here in full force. The recently rebranded Gwinnett Stripers held their home opener at Coolray Field last Thursday, and while the name and uniforms of the Braves AAA affiliate looked a little different, there were plenty of familiar faces and familiar scenes. One of the many reasons folks love our community is the balance that can be found in economic opportunity, education, recreation, and beyond. This is just yet another example. If you haven’t made time to go visit the ballpark just off Georgia Highway 20, I hope you will take in a game over this coming season. There are certainly worse ways to enjoy an evening during here at home the warmer months! 

 

SHARON FORKS LIBRARY CELEBRATES REOPENING AND EXPANSION

Making a difference in your community comes in many forms. We all have such varied talents, passions, and abilities, but time and again we see one another putting them to use and making the place we call home even better! On Friday, we saw even more proof of that insatiable desire to keep moving forward as Forsyth County celebrated the renovation and expansion – to the tune of 18,000 additional square feet – of the Sharon Forks Library. The expansion nearly doubled the size of the existing building, and with the service area population increasing 100% since the year 2000, one can certainly see the need. To add to that impressive growth, the number of items checked out increased by 300% during the same time period. The renovated facility now includes five study rooms, two conference rooms, a Hot Spot, and a room dedicated exclusively for teenagers, to name just a few of the new features and resources!

The importance of a quality library cannot be overstated.  A community such as ours knows that, and when the need exceeded existing capacity, we had local leaders like my friend and fellow Furman alumnus, Forsyth County Library Director Anna Lyle, lead the charge. We get things done here at home. I’ve said it before, but it just can’t be echoed enough. That take-charge spirit and willingness to invest our local dollars as well as effort into such projects sets a tremendous example; and it makes our story – and consequently our voice in Washington – that much more effective. Thank you to everyone who has had a hand in making partnership and improvement a way of life throughout the district, and congratulations to all those who made this remarkable expansion of the Sharon Forks Library a reality. If you haven’t visited yet, please do so soon – you won’t regret it!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is going to consider three bills from the Ways and Means Committee: H.R. 5192, the “Protecting Children from Identity Theft Act,” H.R. 5444, the “Taxpayer First Act,” and H.R. 5445, the “21st Century IRS Act.” H.R. 5192 and H.R. 5445 attempt to address the scourge of identity theft that plagues far too many Americans every year, while H.R. 5444 attempts to give Americans a better way of appealing their cases to the IRS should they have concerns about their taxes or any administration decisions by the IRS. In addition to these pieces of legislation, the House will also consider a large list of bipartisan bills, everything from federal land swaps to protecting personally identifiable information. You can CLICK HERE to view a list of those bills. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

Read More

District Connection - 4/9/18

2018/04/09

MARCH JOBS REPORT SHOWS EMPLOYMENT GAINS 

On Friday, the Labor Department published the latest jobs report showing continued growth with 103,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy just last month. While that number is less than what was added in February, it’s still 90 consecutive months of job gains, keeping our unemployment rate at 4.1% - the lowest we have seen in 17 years!  Thank you to all of the families and small business owners whose good ideas and sacrifices are making this growth possible.  In Congress, I am proud to be doing our part by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens, reducing tax complexity, and lowering the overall tax burden.  These statutory changes have contributed to increased investment, job expansion, and wage increases; and I am pleased to have supported these efforts—and to continue to support these efforts—to grow jobs, wages, and the economy. Fortunately, in our part of the world, you do not have to go far to witness these changes.  New construction, business expansions, and new business ribbon cuttings are happening across the district.  Our Forsyth Chamber of Commerce and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce are as busy ever, and that is good news for us all!  

 

BUSINESSES ARE GROWING IN THE SEVENTH DISTRICT 

I’m always incredibly proud of the thriving network of small business owners that continues to grow here in the Seventh District.  Every corner of our community is dotted with entrepreneurs and families who decided to take a risk and build a business from the ground up. In Congress, I have made it a priority to support these efforts by increasing access to capital, cutting federal red tape that makes it more expensive to succeed, and enacting historic tax cuts that have benefitted businesses of all sizes as well as their employees.  That’s why I was so pleased to join several businesses last week to talk about moves and expansions.  Among those events, Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson and I welcomed Alexander’s of Atlanta, owned by a Central Gwinnett High School graduate, to its new headquarters in historic downtown Lawrenceville.  


Rep. Rob Woodall and Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson join Linda and Jeff Alexander for the grand opening of their family business in Lawrenceville

Another company, Modavate celebrated opening its new headquarters in Buford. Owned and operated by first generation Americans, Modavate is a technology solutions company that follows that model of so many small businesses—a dream, a struggle, an opportunity, a success, growth, and repeat!  Thank you to all of the businesses, owners, and employees for allowing me to take part in your growth and celebrations.  I look forward to celebrating the many new business openings to come in Gwinnett and Forsyth as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues to power our economic growth.


Rep. Rob Woodall visits with Modavate President and CEO Bukie Opanuga and her team in Buford

 

THE POLITICS OF TRADE TAKE CENTER STAGE

Our trading policies and practices with China have been in the spotlight for a number of weeks now, and last week, President Trump announced his plans to crack-down ever further on China’s unfair trade policies. As you’ve likely read or heard about, this decision does not come without reciprocal and retaliatory measures taken by China, as China announced its intent to place tariffs on a number of American made goods.  I support free trade, and I recognize that in a changing world, fair trade is always a concern.  

What you may not know, however, given all of the sensational news coverage is that President Trump’s proposed tariffs totaling $50 billion in imports on goods from China have not gone into effect and neither have China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. Instead, the two countries are at a point in which all possibilities are on the table for negotiation, and there is still ample time for businesses and workers to share their concerns with the Trump Administration.  The headlines that you have seen have been about the conversations that have brought all sides to the table. As I’ve said before, I certainly understand there are instances in which we must take steps and use the tools at our disposal to protect our national security infrastructure, but tariffs to do so tend to be targeted towards specific industries for valid national security reasons, not simply cobbled together to meet a certain dollar threshold in hopes to address our trade deficits. Some are celebrating these tariff discussions as a move toward trade barriers and protectionism.  I adamantly reject that view and that goal.  Rather, I support U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and the President doing all that they can to tear down Chinese trade barriers, end unfair Chinese subsidies, and bring strong free trade to both countries.  

I’m pleased that President Trump’s new Chief Economic Advisor, Larry Kudlow, feels similarly about how certain tariffs can be harmful instead of helpful. Mr. Kudlow explained to reporters that these actions against China are being done to uphold the “laws and customs of free trade,” and that as China and the U.S. continue negotiation talks to get China to do away with their unfair trade practices, the Administration will continue to use all tools at its disposal. More so, I was pleased to hear not only of Mr. Kudlow’s optimism that the use of these tools does not necessarily mean that their use will translate to enforcement, but also that he predicts that we will be hearing positive news on the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations in the weeks ahead. 

Now is the time to build upon the pro-growth policies that this Congress and Administration have worked endlessly together on since the beginning of 2017. Those policies are going to better the lives of all Americans – as we’ve seen already with tax reform – and they will put our great nation even further down the path towards prosperity. For that reason, you can be sure that I will follow these trade and tariff talks closely, and I will continue to urge the Administration to use their trade negotiation tools in a manner that is targeted and would result in the best outcome for American workers, companies, and families. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: OUTDOOR FAMILY FUN THIS SPRING

With spring break last week, we know that great weather is here, summer is just around the corner, and it’s time to head outside to enjoy the many natural wonders that our district has to offer. This week’s constituent spotlight speaks directly to that, and one of the most beloved parts of our district: the Chattahoochee River.  Whenever I visit schools, I remind our young people that they are the future of our beloved country and that they must take their leadership responsibilities seriously.  This week I am highlighting a letter from one of our next-generation leaders who is already taking on the challenge of environmental stewardship in our community.  

Cameron from Buford:

Dear Mr. Woodall, 

 I will admit that it is likely that you have not been sent a letter of concern about this topic from someone in my age group. None the less, I still feel strongly enough about this issue to address those concerns to you. Through my teenage years I have become a very passionate fly fisherman. The majority of my weekends (when I don't have homework to complete) are spent on the Chattahoochee River trying my best to stay stable in the frigid and steady water while also trying to fool a few trout. Over the past few years however I have noticed that poaching has become a significant issue. All throughout the delayed harvest season I see those who keep fish even though it is against the DH laws. I have even seen a number of fish far greater than the legal limit being taken during the non DH season. This occurrence makes the fishing experience much poorer in quality and lowers the quality of the river making it less attractive to travelers and those who may potentially be paying customers and supporting the river’s growing industry. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the hooch, and am thankful for this valuable resource, however something ought to be done about this. Something as simple as a parking lot attendant who checks people who are coming on and off the river to make sure that they aren’t carrying stringers/filleting knives onto the river or fish off of the river could almost entirely solve this issue and restore the amazing quality of this once great fishery for its regular patrons and growing community. This system could even help to ensure that, because of the dangerous conditions of the river, patrons of the river are wearing the proper gear required by the DNR to safely navigate this river such as proper boots and life jackets.

Simply put, I hope you will support tighter enforcement of fish and wildlife sporting rules and laws in the district. Our fisheries on the whole, while commonly overlooked, are a vital part of this area’s community, economy, and culture. They can sometimes require some enforcement to provide a fishery that is unable to be ruined or altered by a selfish and indecent act of poor sportsmanship like I have been seeing as of late. Thank you for considering some action to keep the Hooch’s fly-fishing community active, growing, and well maintained to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. 

_______________________________________________________________________

 

First, I want to thank Cameron for sharing his passion for fly fishing. I’m certain he’s not alone!  As someone who visits and enjoys the Chattahoochee, as well, I absolutely understand that protecting the river from overfishing and other threats, such as pollution, is critical to ensuring that future generations can enjoy the river just as we do today.

As you may know, the Chattahoochee River is a part of the greater Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (NRA), which is run by the National Park Service (NPS) and spans 48 miles from Lake Lanier to Peachtree Creek in Atlanta and includes over 80 miles of hiking trails and a trout fishery. Not only is it one of the largest outdoor destinations for Georgians from all walks of life, but it is also an economic driver of our community which averages 3 million visitors a year and generated $129 million worth of economic activity last year, supporting over 2,000 jobs.  As such, I visit with the NPS Superintendent of the NRA regularly to share concerns and opportunities.  Our relationship is one that I value greatly.

While the Chattahoochee NRA is run by the NPS, Georgia fishing regulations apply to its waters, and those are established and enforced by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This includes the Delayed Harvest that Cameron mentioned, which says that all trout must be released once caught between November 1 and May 14. If, while fishing on the river, you keep a trout between those dates, you are in violation of Georgia law. Together with NPS Rangers, Georgia DNR Rangers stop poachers who literally “steal” wildlife that belongs to you and all other Georgians. You will be pleased to learn that the Georgia DNR has a Ranger Hotline (1-800-241-4113) for reporting poachers, or you can contact your local Game Warden to report poachers, as well. If you see someone fishing illegally or poaching, I encourage you to reach out to them. You can learn more about Georgia fishing regulations or how to get a fishing license at the Georgia DNR’s website.   As a community, our obligation is to either change the law or to enforce and obey the law.

While as your federal representative, I do not have a role in crafting those DNR regulations or working toward their enforcement, I am committed to the greater effort of preserving the Chattahoochee. As an example of how federal efforts help our local community, Congress provides specific funds for the restoration and preservation of the Chattahoochee NRA. If you haven’t visited the National Recreation Area recently, you will be in for a treat.  And if you have visited recently, you know about all of the infrastructure improvement projects that are underway.  That is money coming from Georgians and being returned to Georgians to pursue projects that protect our natural wildlife and expand exciting recreational opportunities for you, me, and Cameron. 

I hope everyone enjoyed their spring break and takes the opportunity to see some of the beautiful sites in our community as it begins to warm up. Of all of the federal land projects that I receive questions about, Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River is the most frequent topic.  If your family has any questions or concerns, I hope that like Cameron you will reach out and share them with me.  Together, we are making a difference.

 

SEVENTH DISTRICT FAMILIES VISIT WASHINGTON, D.C.

Last week was Spring Break for the public schools in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and I want to thank the roughly 800 visitors who came to D.C. to visit the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and more. And if you stopped by your Seventh District office on Capitol Hill, I hope you enjoyed the experience and will tell your friends and families to stop by next year. 


The Zhang Family from Cumming visits their Seventh District office in Washington


The Thomas Family from Lawrenceville enjoys a beautiful day on the balcony with the U.S. Capitol in the background

I know families could choose to spend their spring break and vacation time anywhere, and I think it speaks volumes that so many of you chose to plan a trip to Washington, D.C., to learn more about our nation’s history and explore America’s capital city. I am excited that so many of you were able to experience the many museums and tours that D.C. has to offer, and please do not hesitate to contact me if your travels bring you back to Washington or if I may be of any assistance to you in the future.  


ONE BY ONE, A COMMUNITY THAT CARES

It’s been a productive district work period here at home, and as always, I’m reminded at every turn just how fortunate we all are to call the Seventh District home.  Examples abound, but for our community, a lot can be said about how we take care of one another.  Now I know that’s a broad statement, but I believe it’s the truth, and it’s a simple concept that makes the biggest difference in the lives of our neighbors.  The good work being done in our schools, our civic organizations, churches, community healthcare facilities, and veterans organizations is endless. Giving back, and achieving excellence is what we do.  I could spend paragraph after paragraph sharing with you the various projects, accomplishments, and inspirational stories from across the region, but since that could be a little overwhelming, I’ll stick to highlighting examples along the way.  

On one side of the spectrum, we saw Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton recognized with a Women’s Choice Award for the fourth consecutive year as one of the best hospitals in the state! On another side, we see the Vietnam Veterans of America in Forsyth County once again working to provide scholarship opportunities for young people – and if you know any student who could be interested, I hope you’ll encourage them to apply! Neither of these things just happen because they’re good ideas or noble goals. They require leadership, focus, and commitment to each other and the values we share. While to us this is thankfully standard operating procedure, it is less familiar to some from other places around the country. In Washington, when I share our stories of success here at home, folks listen precisely because of the tangible results we’ve produced together. So once again, thank you for making our voice so effective, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with ways we can keep moving the Seventh District and America forward! 

 

YOU'RE INVITED TO A SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE

The Seventh District is very fortunate to have such a vibrant small business community, and your partnership is invaluable to America's success. Many of you have brought your expertise and concerns to me personally over the years, which I always welcome, but this Tuesday there is a unique opportunity to speak directly with those at the Small Business Administration (SBA) who are looking for your input to improve the federal regulatory process.  If you’d like to join that conversation and offer your thoughts on what is working – and more importantly, what is not working – please visit the link below to register. 

Small Business Administration's Regional Regulatory Roundtable: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sba-office-of-advocacy-regional-regulatory-roundtable-atlanta-ga-tickets-43670690210 

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

After two weeks of being home in Georgia and having the opportunity to celebrate Easter and Passover with family and friends, it’s time to return to Washington, D.C., and get back to the business the American people expect of us. 

The House floor is going to be busy this week as we consider H.J.Res. 2, a measure which proposes a Constitutional amendment on a balanced federal budget. The bill would prohibit total outlays for a fiscal year from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year, and it would also require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress each year. This bill will be considered under a special procedure called “suspension of the rules,” which means that it takes two-thirds of the Representatives to vote for it in order for it to pass. Like so many of you, I’m concerned about our nation’s growing debt, and this vote is one way for us to highlight how important it is to take that debt debate seriously and make real progress toward fixing it for the future. 

If you’ve been watching the news for the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen stories about Facebook’s and Cambridge Analytica’s use and protection of consumer data. I know for a lot of you, protecting your personal data online is a constant battle, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is going to be visiting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg on Wednesday to better assess how Facebook – and by extension, other social media platforms – are working to ensure that consumer data isn’t being misused by third parties. 

Finally, the House Rules Committee is going to be considering H.R. 4790, the “Volker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act.” If you’re not a financial services professional, you probably haven’t heard much about the controversies surrounding the Volker Rule, which was created through the Dodd-Frank Act. The Volker Rule is one of the most complicated rules governing banks and other financial institutions, and its vast complexity and cost are harming small, community banks. H.R. 4790 would give the Federal Reserve the ability to exclude community banks – those will less than $10 billion in assets – from the requirements of the Volker Rule. If you’d like to learn more about the bill, I hope you’ll watch the Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday at 5pm. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 4/2/18

2018/04/02

Q&A WITH CIVIC LEADERS ACROSS THE SEVENTH DISTRICT

Being back home for the Spring district work period has already given me the opportunity to visit with so many of you, and as always, your input has been invaluable.  We come from a community of leaders, and that spirit comes across in every corner of the district. Our civic groups not only provide a great example of that trait, but they’re full of insight into the challenges facing our community, and they’re full of neighbors working to craft solutions. Whether Civitans, Rotarians, Kiwanis Club members, or beyond, I’m grateful that you and I are able to discuss these challenges as we build on our successes.  

As you’d expect from such folks, there was keen interest in the business of Washington and how it relates to those of us back home. Just like on Capitol Hill, not everyone has the same opinion, but by moving towards our common ground we’re able to make a difference together. Naturally, the list of topics to discuss is long, but one recurring issue was the recent bill to fund the government.  I’m proud to say that this legislation gives our troops the biggest pay raise in a decade, provides the resources President Trump, Secretary Mattis, and the Pentagon requested to keep America safe, and it will continue to fund the effort to secure the southern border.  It goes on to address the opioid crisis, bolster resources for school safety in districts where it is needed, and much more. While I’m glad to see these important issues being addressed, I’m also proud to say that irrespective of what you might hear on the news, the bill was comprised primarily of those things on which we as Americans – not political parties – agree.  One of the reason we’re so successful here in the Seventh District is precisely because we’re able to focus on what brings us together, move forward, and continue working tomorrow.  


Rep. Rob Woodall discusses economic growth and taxes with the Duluth Civitan Club

Representing a community like ours is an honor, and make no mistake, our voice in Washington is made stronger by the ability to point to tangible partnerships and success like those we see in our civic groups.  The men and women in these organizations don’t always agree on every issue, but they absolutely agree on the need to make the biggest positive difference they can each and every day. Thank you so much for setting that example, and thank you for investing your time and expertise in our shared goals.

 

ARTISTIC ABILITY ABOUNDS IN ANNUAL COMPETITION

Each spring, we have talented young artists from across the Seventh District participate in the Congressional Art Competition, and each year I can honestly say I’m just blown away by the level of artistic ability these young people have.  I don’t share their talent, but I sure do appreciate them sharing it with the rest of us. Their passion and skill speaks to me.  The wonderful thing about art is that depending on the day, your state of mind, the things you’re going through, and more, what didn’t speak to you yesterday may strike you in a powerful way today.  I told them the story of walking past the winning pieces from across the country that travel up to Washington and are displayed in the hallway from my office to the Capitol.  A piece that never caught my attention before will just jump out at me on a particular day.  That’s the phenomenon and power of art, and I couldn’t be more proud of our group of young artists in the Seventh District.  


Seventh District Art Competition finalists and their parents, teachers, and friends

This year, our winner was Ms. Allie Chin from North Gwinnett High School.  Her artwork entitled “Missing Grandpa” is truly remarkable, and having visited with Allie personally, I’ll tell you she’s an impressive young lady as well as artist. Given that she’s just begun her high school career, I look forward to seeing where her talent takes her. I’m sure this is just the beginning, but she’s off to a great start by already securing a scholarship to both the Art Institute of Atlanta and the Savannah College of Art and Design! I’m excited for Allie, and I’m proud of each of these talented students.  If you know any young people in your life that would be interested in participating in future art competitions, I hope you’ll encourage them to do so, and you can find more information about it here.

 

LEARNING FROM STUDENTS IN OUR COMMUNITY

There are so many reasons to feel optimistic about America’s future, and I’m never more optimistic than when I get to spend time with our community’s young people. Students across the country have become more politically engaged recently than I have seen in a long time, and that’s great news for all of us. The talent that I saw at Forsyth Central High School, Central Gwinnett High School, and Georgia State University’s Alpharetta campus last week is going to move our economy forward in the coming years and ensure that our best days are still ahead. 


Rep. Rob Woodall meets with a group of students at Central Gwinnett High School

But let me tell you honestly, these students had some very tough questions about school violence, education standards, paying for college, federal spending, and more. The great thing is that in a world where it seems like everyone is talking over each other, we listened to each other. We had fruitful discussions – not always in agreement – but always respectful, and that’s something to celebrate. Our community’s young people are thoughtful, intelligent, and willing to work hard to be transformational in the lives of all Americans. I thank each of these schools, the students, their parents, and their teachers for giving me the opportunity to learn and partner with these remarkable students. 

 

HAPPY EASTER AND A BLESSED PASSOVER

For millions of Christians and Jews around the world, the past few days and the upcoming week are special and holy. Passover began at sundown on Friday and will continue throughout the week, and for most Protestant Christians and Catholics, Easter was celebrated on Sunday. For the Orthodox Christian community, yesterday was Palm Sunday, and Easter will be celebrated this upcoming Sunday. Clearly, for so many Americans, we are in the midst of a holy season. 

As such, I would like to take a moment to send my best wishes for a happy holiday to everyone who is celebrating. As you take these days to gather with friends and family and to attend religious services, we should all be reminded and thankful for our First Amendment freedom to practice our religious faiths peacefully and with our communities. Regardless of your faith, our Founding Fathers created a country where if you wake up tomorrow and decide to join a church, you are free to do so, and if you wake up tomorrow and decide that there is no god, there are no repercussions from the government for that either. While I’m proud to share my faith with others, I’m even prouder of our shared faith in each other and in a Constitution that allows us the freedom to celebrate together as Americans. Happy Easter and a Blessed Passover to you all! 

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MOVES TO PROTECT NATIONAL SECURITY INFRASTRUCTURE

Bolstering our national security infrastructure is a top priority of mine, and it is also a priority that I believe transcends political divisiveness. As many of you know, the Trump Administration has made no secret of its commitment to not only protect U.S. industries and workers, but also to protect our nation’s national security infrastructure through the use of certain tools available to the President and the Executive branch. That said, the use of these tools, whether it be the application of targeted trade remedies or the President moving to halt a large business investment or merger, is not uncommon, as we have witnessed previous administrations take similar actions in the name of national security. 

Certainly, there are instances in which we must take steps to protect the supply chain that feeds into our national security infrastructure such as semiconductors, and I commend the administration for continuing to ensure the investments which have already been made by American taxpayers are protected and are not inadvertently threatened by foreign investors who might not have the best interest, safety, and rights of American citizens at heart.  As I’ve said before, striking a balance between maintaining our trade relations while simultaneously taking steps to buttress our national security infrastructure is no easy task, and I look forward to learning more from the Administration about what steps it plans to take to appropriately identify which technology sectors Chinese companies would be banned from investing in and which we can work with Chinese companies to support. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: THE POWER OF THE MINORITY PARTY

I receive hundreds – sometimes thousands – of letters, emails, and phone calls every week, and while most of them are from folks who are very concerned about particular pieces of legislation, every once in a while, I get a letter from a student who asks a question that is very unique; and that’s certainly the case this week. 

Aamish from Duluth:

I had a question regarding what you do when a piece of legislation is on floor and it’s against your party’s standings.  How do you keep that legislation from getting passed? I’m in a Congress class, and I’m part of the minority party from Georgia. I’m a Republican candidate and wanted to know what the minority party can do to stop the legislation from getting passed on the floor.

_____________________________________________________________________

Have you ever heard someone say: let me write the rules of the game, and I’ll win the game every time? If you have, then you know a little bit about how the House of Representatives functions. It’s a majority-rules chamber where any measure that can get 218 votes will win. As a member of the majority party on the House Rules Committee, I have the privilege of writing the rules of the game for almost every bill that comes to the House floor. Since I can decide – with my Rules Committee colleagues – which amendments are made in order for debate, which bills can come to the floor for a vote, and how long each bill and amendment can be debated for, I have the duty of ensuring that the majority party’s agenda is brought to the floor and that it is approved by at least 218 of my fellow House members.

Minority party members in the House have no formal power on their own to bring bills to the floor or stop bills from coming to the floor. They can try to rally opposition to a bill or an amendment, they can engage in dilatory tactics to slow down consideration of bills or amendments, or they can work with the majority party on a compromise piece of legislation, but there is no official way that the minority, on its own, can use parliamentary procedure to stop the majority party’s agenda.

The Senate, however, is another story altogether. Senate rules require 60 votes to pass almost all measures, and there is nothing like the House Rules Committee in that chamber to make it easier for the majority party to move its agenda. Since there are rarely 60 or more senators from the same party, minority party senators hold a significant amount of power. Right now, there are 51 Republicans in the Senate, and while that makes Republicans the majority party, it also means that every major piece of legislation will have to be supported by at least 9 Democrats. Those 9 Democrats are empowered by the Senate’s rules to make deals with the majority party on amendments and bills so that they can get their preferred legislation passed. That was the case with the recently signed into law FY18 spending bill. In order to get that bill passed, the Senate majority had to compromise with some minority senators in an effort to sway at least 9 Democrats to vote for the bill. If the majority didn’t compromise, the bill would have failed, and the government would have shut-down.

Our Founding Fathers created a system of checks-and-balances within Congress to ensure that our laws were temperate and absent the passions of the moment. James Madison once explained that the Constitution’s framers considered the Senate to be the great "anchor" of the government, and a “necessary fence” against the “fickleness and passion” of the general public and the House of Representatives. George Washington is said to have remarked to Thomas Jefferson that "we pour our legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it," as you would with a cup of hot tea. This juxtaposition between the majority-led passions of the House and the minority-respecting considerations of the Senate creates turmoil within Congress on a regular basis, but it also creates better legislation that is more attune to the needs of all Americans. The Constitution got it right! 

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week, I’m so excited to continue spending time learning from all of you. We’ve heard a lot about how our economy is growing under the policies of President Trump, and that’s evident right here in the 7th District.  If you have a business, church organization, civic club, or school group that you’d like me to know about, I hope that you will invite me to join you and learn from your expertise. Please contact my office at (202) 225-4272 or at woodall@mail.house.gov any time and my staff will gladly work with you. 

I’m also excited to welcome dozens of local families to Washington, D.C., this week as they use spring break to visit our nation’s capital.  Many of you are already planning on coming by your office on Capitol Hill.  For others who have time, please know that you are always welcome.  Whether in D.C., elsewhere, or right here at home, I hope that spring break week is a wonderful one for all of our Seventh District families. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 3/26/18

2018/03/26

GEORGIANS HONOR FORMER SENATOR AND GOVERNOR ZELL MILLER

I often say that in our part of the world, people would give their last dollar and their last ounce of strength to be transformational in the life of another. On Friday, our Georgia family lost a man who truly fit the mold – Zell Miller. Zell Miller was a true servant of Georgia, serving as Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor for 16 years, Governor for eight years, and after seemingly departing public service, answering the call to serve as Georgia’s United States Senator following the death of Paul Coverdell. 

During a forty-year career in public service, Zell Miller touched many lives in many different ways, but for so many Georgians, his greatest contribution to the state, his most transformational attribute, was his unending support for the HOPE scholarship programs. Nearly 2 million Georgians have been able to attend a public university or college thanks to HOPE, which is made-up of six different scholarship programs: the HOPE Scholarship, the HOPE Grant, the Zell Miller Scholarship, the Zell Miller Grant, the HOPE GED Grant, and the HOPE Career Grant. The purpose of HOPE was to invest in Georgia’s economic future and create a better-educated workforce – and as we all know, HOPE has succeeded. Georgia is rising economically, is the #1 state to do business, and is a magnet for national and international investment, thanks in large part to our world-class educational systems and highly qualified and educated workforce.

Every time I visit a middle school or high school classroom, I hear from students who are excited about going to college because they know that HOPE exists to help them. It is my sincere wish that every Georgian remembers fondly the contributions of Zell Miller and honors his legacy through continued support for HOPE. 

 

CONGRESS PASSES FY18 FUNDING BILL

In Article 1 of the United States Constitution, America’s Founding Fathers gave Congress the awesome responsibility to “provide for the common Defence.” I take that responsibility seriously, and I know that my colleagues in Congress do as well. While we can argue about what programs are best to support to ensure that our duty is fulfilled, I want to make clear that failing to perform this function is not an option.  Thus, while I lost the fight to lower spending levels across many accounts during this negotiation, I am proud to have supported President Trump when he asked for a “yes” vote on the FY18 Appropriations bill last week

I know that some people who count themselves as conservatives thought that I should vote against H.R. 1625. They didn’t like the elevated funding level.  Let me be perfectly clear that this was not the bill that I would have written by myself, nor is it as conservative as the FY18 funding bill that the House passed six months ago in September. But in those six months, the Senate has been struggling to find the 60 votes that it needs to pass any spending bill—and those 60 votes require that both Democrats and Republicans support it.  After months of negotiation, the House, Senate, and White House leadership—Republicans and Democrats—finally reached a deal that they could all support.  The choice before Congress last week was not whether to pass that bill or a more conservative one.  Rather, it was a choice of whether to pass that bill and fulfill our constitutional obligations or pass no bill and govern by continuing resolution for the next six months.  The choice was whether to pass a bill with some conservative wins included or allow the government to shut down and risk getting stuck with a funding bill that had even fewer conservative victories in it. I chose to support the conservative steps forward today, and I will be back at the table tomorrow to work for more.

Just a few of those victories for Georgia values and priorities include:

National Defense – After years of neglect, this bill starts rebuilding America’s Armed Forces by making the largest investment in 15 years. It provides $654.6 billion in Defense Department base and Global War on Terror funding and $14 billion in nuclear security. It fully funds a 2.4% pay raise for the troops, fulfills the requests made by Secretary Mattis and military leaders, and gives warfighters the resources they need to do their jobs and make it home safely.

Securing Our Homeland – The bill includes $47.8 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, an increase of $5.4 billion over the last fiscal year. These dollars will bolster border infrastructure and improve surveillance technology. The legislation includes $1.6 billion for physical barriers and associated technology along the Southwest border.  This amount provides for more than 90 miles of “border wall system,” going beyond the Administration’s budget request for a total of 74 miles in fiscal year 2018.

Supporting Groundbreaking Disease Research – The bill builds on Congress’ commitment to finding cures for diseases that plague American families every day by providing $37 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That’s a $3 billion increase from last year, and every penny is going to fund additional biomedical research so that we can develop cures for the diseases that are taking the lives of our friends and family. The bill also provides $8.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) right here in Atlanta – a $1.1. billion increase from last year – so that infectious disease experts can control pandemics like Ebola and Lassa Fever, thereby saving the lives of millions of people around the world and right here at home.

Rebuilding America’s Aging Infrastructure – Improving the nation’s infrastructure is critical to reliability, safety, and economic growth. The legislation includes more than $21 billion for infrastructure projects across the country, including transportation, energy, water, and cyber. It also reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration through September 2018, a critical component of Atlanta’s busiest airport in the world.

Combatting the Opioid Crisis – This legislation includes nearly $4 billion in resources to combat the opioid crisis that President Trump has declared as a national emergency. It will invest in treatment, prevention, and law enforcement efforts to stop the spread of these dangerous drugs and help families and communities get the assistance they need.

Pro-life protections – The omnibus retains all the longstanding pro-life riders, such as the Hyde, Helms and Dornan (DC Hyde) amendments, among others.

School Safety – To help protect children and to promote safe learning environments, the bill provides more than $2.3 billion in new funding to effective mental health, training, and school safety programs at the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health.

Benefits to Georgia – Secures $50 million for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, prevents a federal power grab of Georgia’s water supply, as well as investing in the state’s National Guard and Reserve Equipment, and the research, procurement and manufacturing of F-35 aircraft in the state.

 

TAX REFORM CONTINUES TO HELP AMERICAN FAMILIES

Last week, I was invited by my good friend Representative Drew Ferguson (GA-3) to speak on the House floor about the ways in which the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is benefitting our great state of Georgia and our community here in the Seventh District. 

As I’ve said before, our Seventh District friends and neighbors deserve a tax code that works for them, and for too long, our tax code has been broken and has put the needs of special interest groups above those of hard working American taxpayers. Undeniably, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has brought a sigh of relief to families across the country as they can now consider ways to invest in their families and in their communities. While the primary effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs act won’t be felt until April 2019, many households and companies in our community and across the state have already begun to reap the benefits of tax reform. 

As one of the largest employers in our community, Home Depot employs nearly 1,900 Seventh District residents, the majority of which are hourly associates. The bonuses Home Depot announced will go to hourly associates, both part time and full time, and the amount awarded is based on how long the employee has been with the company, up to $1,000. The bonuses that went to these families are real money that they can now choose to spend or to save however they please, and I am thrilled that we have afforded these families the ability to make such decisions. 

Click the picture below to listen to my remarks on the House Floor. 

Additionally, I joined Vice President Mike Pence, Governor Nathan Deal and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt -- as well as my colleagues Karen Handel (GA-06) and Barry Loudermilk (GA-11) -- on Friday afternoon right here in Atlanta to discuss the many tax reform successes and what folks can expect going forward. The America First Policies 'Tax Cuts to Put America First' event in downtown Atlanta was a fantastic event bringing together business leaders and hard-working Americans. Lots of good questions were asked, and as a panelist, I could feel the excitement that filled the room as folks engaged in discussions about the positive economic effects, the significance of this historic achievement, and how these changes will allow America to compete and win in the years to come. 

According to the Tax Foundation, the long-range estimates of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act show an increase in GDP of 1.7%, increased wages of 1.5%, and 339,000 new jobs. That is real growth that I am confident will bring many positive changes to our community, especially since more than 60 international companies have chosen to call Gwinnett home for their American or global headquarters. I’ve heard from companies across the Seventh District – both big and small – that have shared with me their plans to make larger investments in property expansions, in their employees, and in more equipment – all to grow their business and to get ahead. Whether they were planning to make these changes regardless of the outcomes of tax reform, there is not a doubt in my mind that these decisions have now been reaffirmed, and in many cases, these plans are being pursued more aggressively as a result of President Trump signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That’s real investment, real economic growth, and real jobs right now.

Following the panel discussion, Vice President Mike Pence and Administrator Scott Pruitt each spoke about tax reform and shared their economic outlook. Their optimism and candor reinforced the notion that the future of our economy is bright as long as we all stay active in the fight to ensure that our laws make sense and serve the people’s needs. 

That said, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is not the end all be all, as we must be careful not to fall into the same trap that our predecessors did after 1986. They thought their work was done, and so they largely ignored the code for the next 31 years. As your voice in Washington, I commit to you that I will continue to focus on making the tax code work for American families and businesses on a more regular basis and ensure that our tax code is dynamic so that it can grow our economy. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: FEDERAL BACKGROUND CHECKS

Last week one of the most popular topics folks wrote in about was background checks for purchasing a gun. As you may know, the federal spending bill President Trump signed into law last Friday included the “Fix NICS Act,” which would strengthen the federal background check system, known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to prevent dangerous individuals from acquiring firearms. Here is what folks had to say about it:

Kelsey from Lawrenceville:

I am writing you to urge your opposition to the "rule" for any bill containing Fix NICS. It has come to my attention that the 'Fix NICS' language has become entirely too vague and open to abuse by authorities allowing them to deprive Americans of a constitutionally enshrined natural right without adequate due process. I urge you to oppose inclusion of 'Fix NICS' in the pending omnibus spending bill and if it does become included, to vote against the rule for it. Ultimately I would hope you vote against the omnibus bill should 'Fix NICS' language wind up included in it. 

Harley from Cumming:

States that closed the background check loophole had fewer women murdered by intimate partners, fewer people attempt suicide with a gun, and fewer law enforcement officers killed with a gun. This is common-sense public policy. Please support universal background checks for all firearm sales. The history of gun violence in this country needs immediate change and previous restrictions on gun purchases have proven their efficacy. It’s is time to stop pandering to an organization which has gone off the rails. 

_______________________________________________

We have a diverse range of views on almost every issue in our District, and this one is no exception. I hope I can use this as an opportunity to clarify and dispel some misunderstandings on the issue. 

For all the debate surrounding gun control recently, there is one thing that nearly everyone — from President Trump to the NRA to the Congress to those students marching in cities across the country— can agree on: we can do more to prevent the sale of firearms to people who are a danger to themselves or others. There are laws on the books today requiring background checks to stop those with a history of violence, crime, and mental illness from obtaining a gun, but the laws requiring a background check to purchase a gun are only as good as the database responsible for keeping that information. The tragic shootings at Virginia Tech, in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Sutherland Springs, Texas, were all perpetrated by evil doers who were legally prohibited from purchasing a gun. Nevertheless, gaps in NICS allowed these murderers to acquire the weapons that killed so many people. 

“Fix NICS” will strengthen the existing background system by requiring federal agencies and states to create NICS implementation plans that focus on getting all the information effectively and efficiently uploaded to the database. It will incentivize federal agencies to keep these plans by publicly reporting their efforts and prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees for failing to do so. States that comply with their plans will be rewarded with additional grants to improve their systems. Further, it will create a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS.

That’s what “Fix NICS” will do.  As a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I have listened carefully to the concerns of law abiding citizens who have heard that the “Fix NICS” bill will restrict their rights and opportunities.  With those concerns in mind, this is what “Fix NICS” will not do: 

  • “Fix NICS” does not add any new disqualifications for being able to purchase a gun—it only aims to better enforce the current laws. 
  • “Fix NICS” does not abridge anyone’s right to due process—it improves the current system by imposing a 60-day deadline for the federal government to respond to appeals from those who believe they are wrongly included in the database. Today, those appeals can take months or more, and there’s no timeline for the government to respond to your appeal.

Prior to focusing on improving the NICS database, big states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey had submitted less than 20 names of individuals who should be legally prohibited from purchasing a gun.  After focusing on state compliance, almost one million names were added from these states, names of individuals that the law says should not be allowed to purchase a gun.  This focus on compliance makes the NICS database work better for the entire nation, ensuring that only law abiding citizens have access to legal gun purchases.

Thank you for all of your correspondence this week. “Fix NICS” ensures that criminals who aren’t allowed to own a gun won’t slip through cracks in the system, and while I know that any gun-related legislation can be concerning, I truly believe that this law will make all Americans safer. Please continue to share with me any concerns, questions, or comments you may have. 

 

SUPPORTING HUMANE TRANSPORT OF ANIMALS 

By now, you have most likely read about the recent incidents involving United Airlines and pet transport.  One dog was sent to the wrong country, another dog was boarded on the wrong plane, and sadly, one dog died as a result of mishandling.  Whether they are assisting individuals with disabilities, helping military veterans transition to civilian life, or simply serving as a beloved part of the family, there’s no doubt pets are important to us. When we board a flight with our pet, certainly we have the right to expect our pets will be treated respectfully and humanely and will arrive safely alongside us at our final destination. Though you might expect laws about animals and pets to be passed at the state level, federal laws govern the airways and thus trump many of the state laws designed to protect animals and pets. That’s why I joined my Republican and Democratic colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in requesting information from the Trump Administration on pet transport policies and a plan of action to ensure that airlines treat our pets with the care they deserve.  We will take steps to ensure that federal laws support—not hinder—animal safety in the air.

 

MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE FOR OTHERS

There are endless ways in which we can make a difference and help others. We all have different resources, talents, and passions, but one of the great things about a community as cohesive as ours is that the desire to help comes as second nature to us. From the inspiring service of our first-responders day-in and day-out, to the actions of a caring and observant mail-carrier like Amanda Nalley of Forsyth County, examples are everywhere.  

Recently, the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce held their annual Valor Public Safety Awards, which brought more than 200 public safety officials and their families to Duluth’s Infinite Energy Forum to recognize their dedication and service. Their stories are heartwarming and harrowing, and I hope you’ll take a few moments to read about them. 

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of our public safety officials, and it is always a tremendous honor to work alongside them. Congratulations to each and every recipient of a Valor Award!  And to all those who answer the call that none of us ever wants to have to make, thank you!

There’s an expression you may have heard: “Not all heroes wear capes.” Well, I certainly agree, and in fact, sometimes it’s their thoughtfulness and observation that saves a life and makes them someone’s hero.  Amanda Nalley is proof of that. She has served as a mail-carrier in Forsyth County for 13 years, and she recently noticed that one of the gentlemen on her route had not been picking up his mail as usual. Rather than just assume he had forgotten or been out of town and going about her busy day, she looked into the matter. After checking with a neighbor and learning they hadn’t seen him recently either, she made a call to the Sheriff’s Department. The gentleman was indeed in his home and in need of urgent care, and thankfully, due to Ms. Nalley’s willingness to act, he is now recovering.  It’s a wonderful story of service and community, and it’s such a perfect example of the character of the place we call home.  Thank you, Ms. Nalley, for your service to our community, and for the example you set for all of us!  

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

It’s with a great deal of joy that I’m excited to say that for the next two weeks, the House will be recognizing its annual Easter/Passover District Work Period. From the Rotary Clubs and Civitan Clubs to schools across Forsyth and Gwinnett Counties to manufacturers and businesses to Kiwanis Clubs and Commerce Clubs to one-on-one constituent meetings, I’m going to be out and about during this time learning from you. 

While this current District Work Period is already very busy, if you’d like to invite me to your church, business, or civic organization, or if you’d like to schedule a meeting with me in the future, please email me at woodall@mail.house.gov, and my office will reach out to you to find a time for us to visit.

Thank you for the honor of serving you!
                        

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

Read More

House Clears FY2018 Funding Measure

2018/03/22

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation – H.R. 1625, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018” – to provide discretionary funding for the remainder of FY2018.  The measure incorporated 12 individual appropriations bills that were either passed by the House or approved at Committee level.  Most notably, the bill marks a pivot from the previous Administration’s reduction in military funding while making record investments in Georgia priorities such as the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). The bill also prioritizes resources for the Department of Homeland Security, school safety programs, and opioid abuse treatment and prevention.  Rep. Woodall (GA 07) issued the following statement after its passage.

“The bill we passed today does important things for Georgia and America, and is a good example of what we’re achieving together. It is not the bill I would’ve written alone, nor is it the bill I voted for nine months ago when the House got its work done on the country’s appropriations bills.  But given the procedural hurdles the Senate has struggled to overcome year after year, our best hope of moving forward is contained in this legislation today. It delivers on the Administration’s commitment to our military, national security, and beyond, and it also provides record resources for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP), which is vital not only to Georgia, but the entire region. I’m pleased by the progress, but the fact remains that in order to address America’s fiscal challenges, we must have a willing partner in the Senate.”

“Passage of this bill today can mark a turning point.  Broad, consolidated spending bills are inevitably going to prevent the kind of precise attention that is needed to address America’s fiscal challenges, and the process must be corrected.  The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, on which I serve, has been tasked with this challenge and is already working very hard to achieve this goal.  I look forward to continuing that work, succeeding in that goal, and making this the last time we push a consolidated appropriations bill to the President’s desk.”

H.R. 1625 includes, but is not limited to:

·Benefits to Georgia – Secures $50 million for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, prevents a federal power grab of Georgia’s water supply, as well as investing in the state’s National Guard and Reserve Equipment, and the research, procurement and manufacturing of F-35 aircraft in the state.

·National Defense – After years of neglect, this bill starts rebuilding America’s Armed Forces by making the largest investment in 15 years. It provides $654.6 billion in Defense Department base and Global War on Terror funding and $14 billion in nuclear security. It fully funds a 2.4% pay raise for the troops, fulfills the requests made by Secretary Mattis and military leaders, and gives warfighters the resources they need to do their jobs and make it home safely.

·Securing Our Homeland – The bill includes $47.8 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, an increase of $5.4 billion over the last fiscal year. These dollars will bolster border infrastructure and improve surveillance technology. The legislation includes $1.6 billion for physical barriers and associated technology along the Southwest border.  This amount provides for more than 90 miles of “border wall system,” going beyond the Administration’s budget request for a total of 74 miles in fiscal year 2018.

·Rebuilding America’s Aging Infrastructure – Improving the nation’s infrastructure is critical to reliability, safety, and economic growth. The legislation includes more than $21 billion for infrastructure projects across the country, including transportation, energy, water, and cyber. It also reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration through September 2018, a critical component of Atlanta’s busiest airport in the world.

·Combatting the Opioid Crisis – This legislation includes nearly $4 billion in resources to combat the opioid crisis that President Trump has declared as a national emergency. It will invest in treatment, prevention, and law enforcement efforts to stop the spread of these dangerous drugs and help families and communities get the assistance they need.

·Pro-life protections – The omnibus retains all the longstanding pro-life riders, such as the Hyde, Helms and Dornan (DC Hyde) amendments, among others.

·School Safety – To help protect children and to promote safe learning environments, the bill provides more than $2.3 billion in new funding to effective mental health, training, and school safety programs at the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health.

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.                                                                                     

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Woodall to Join America First Policies’ Tax Reform Panel Discussion, VP Pence to Speak

2018/03/22

WASHINGTON, DC – This Friday, March 22, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall will take part in a panel discussion hosted by Vice President Mike Pence and America First Policies on the impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act across Georgia and the country.  Following the panel discussion, Vice President Pence will address the crowd. To register for the event, click here.

Event Details

Fri, March 23, 2018

 

Loews Atlanta Hotel

Ellington Ballroom

1065 Peachtree Street NE

Atlanta, Georgia, 30309

03:30 pm (ET)

Doors open at 1:30 pm (ET)

Hotel self-park and valet parking available. Satellite and metered parking also available.

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee. 

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Community Health Centers of Georgia Visit Capitol Hill, Present Woodall with Health Advocate Award

2018/03/19

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA 07) recently hosted doctors and staff from the Community Health Centers of Georgia to further discuss the role of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) throughout the state. Community health centers specialize in providing cost-effective and high-quality primary and preventive health care that annually saves the health care system $24 billion, largely due to their success in reducing the need for patients to seek care in costlier settings like emergency departments. The Seventh District is home to three FQHC organizations in multiple locations, which have leveraged $4.6 million in federal investments to serve more than 24,200 patients.  They are a significant portion of the 35 FQHCs across the state that are providing care for over 405,000 patients – 42% of whom are uninsured. Care is provided to all patients at a sliding scale cost based on their financial resources.

Federal investments play an integral role in supporting the comprehensive and integrated range of health and social services they provide. It is model and mission strongly supported by Rep. Woodall, as he has voted repeatedly to reauthorize Community Health Centers. Most recently, Woodall joined those encouraging House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairman Tom Cole and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro to continue support for the program in FY2019.  More than eight million children and over 330,000 veterans get their health care at Community Health Centers nationwide. In total, health centers now provide more than 104 million coordinated and integrated patient visits every year in all 50 states and almost every Congressional district.

“The role FQHCs play in our community and communities across the country is invaluable,” said Woodall. “They are a functioning example of what happens when you partner tremendously dedicated, competent medical professionals back home with federal policy that responsibly leverages hard-earned tax dollars, and does so while also emphasizing the need for patients to have financial skin in the game within their means. The result is an exponential return of better health and decreased health care costs.”

Dr. Brian Williams, who serves as CEO of Four Corners Primary Health Care Center in Gwinnett County - and has long been a driving force behind the success of Community Health Centers in the Seventh District - was among those in attendance. He underscored the importance of the community’s partnership with elected leaders in Washington, and recognized Woodall specifically with the 2018 Distinguished Community Health Advocate Award.  

“Rep. Woodall continues to be a strong ally in our mission to provide affordable, quality, and accessible health care to those in need in our community, and I’m very grateful for his support,” added Dr. Williams. “At a time when many struggle to find consistent access to care, Georgia’s Community Health Centers are filling a crucial void. On behalf of the Georgia Primary Care Association and the Community Health Centers in the 7th Congressional District, I commend Rep. Woodall for his commitment and partnership.”

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.  

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Washington Watch - 3/19/18

2018/03/19

HOLDING RUSSIA ACCOUNTABLE FOR CYBER CRIMES

Last summer, I joined my colleagues in Congress in enacting the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. This law, which President Trump reluctantly signed as a result of the veto-proof majority with which it passed, imposed tough new sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea. After new evidence emerged last week that Russia continues to be a serious threat to U.S. interests at home and abroad, the President took advantage of this new law and announced sanctions on entities and individuals who are proliferating the Russian threats to our energy grid, our cyber infrastructure, and our allies. I applaud the President’s decision and will continue supporting efforts to respond forcefully to foreign challenges to America and her allies. 

 

GEORGIA’S COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS VISIT WASHINGTON, D.C.

Two weeks ago I told you that the best lobbyists aren’t DC lawyers, but rather, those individuals from our community who take the time to come to Washington, D.C., to share with me about how Congress can support those in our community making a difference in people’s lives. Last week was a prime example of that community outreach as representatives from the 7th District’s Community Health Centers (CHCs) honored me by visiting my Washington office and talking with me about the successes and the challenges of our local CHCs.

 
Rep. Rob Woodall and representatives from Georgia's Community Health Centers meet in Washington

CHCs provide high quality primary care for tens of thousands of our neighbors every year, both those with and without health insurance. And what’s so remarkable about CHCs is that they use a ground-breaking payment model where patients are charged based on a sliding scale, so people are asked to pay what they can afford to pay. Patients are also asked to be part of the governing board of directors of their particular CHC. This gives patients, doctors, nurses, and center directors a stake in the future of their CHC and makes all of them advocates for better health care, better health outcomes, and better community outreach. 

I was proud to have supported an additional two years of robust funding for CHCs in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and I was even prouder to ask the House Appropriations Committee to increase funding for CHCs again this coming fiscal year. What’s more, I was so surprised and honored when our local CHCs presented me with the 2018 Distinguished Community Health Advocate Award for my work on behalf of CHCs. 

If you are looking for quality primary care, know someone who is uninsured and is in need of quality care, or if you want to help make health care in our community better by volunteering your time and talents, I would encourage you to learn more about the CHCs in the 7th District: Four Corners Primary Care Centers, CPACS Cosmo Health Center, and Georgia Highlands Medical Services, which altogether serve Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties. 

 

HOUSE VOTES TO HELP SCHOOLS BE SAFER AND MORE SECURE

One month after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Congress has begun consideration of legislation that strengthens schools’ ability to intervene before and respond to a potential attack. H.R. 4909, the “STOP School Violence Act of 2018,” which passed the House overwhelmingly on a vote of 407-10, is the first step we hope to take to prevent school shootings from happening in the future. The bill will reauthorize the Secure Our Schools program for ten years, providing $750 million for training at the school, coordination programs with local law enforcement, and investment in physical improvements to school buildings and grounds for greater security. This bill is not meant to be a cure-all, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to craft meaningful and effective legislation moving forward. The desire is there to do more to protect our nation’s children, and I am hopeful that the Senate will take up this legislation swiftly and send it to the President’s desk so we can start making the changes we need.

 

BUDGET COMMITTEE CONCLUDES 5-HEARING SERIES ON CBO OVERSIGHT AND REFORM 

Last Wednesday, my colleagues on the House Budget Committee and I held our fifth and final oversight hearing of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Over these past few weeks, we have dug into the details of how CBO comes up with economic assumptions and scores, and the role those assumptions have on the overall policy making process. The series also included a day for House Member proposals for improving the CBO, and, last week was an opportunity for outside experts to offer their perspectives on the CBO and how it can improve. 

This last hearing included two panels. The first featured two former CBO directors: Dr. Alice Rivlin who built the CBO from the ground up and was the first to lead the agency after the passage of the Budget Control Act back in 1974, and Dr. Doug Holtz-Eakin who was the sixth to hold the title of CBO Director. Their intimate understanding helped to inform the Committee of CBO’s limitations, where it succeeds, and how we can move forward with making it more accurate, transparent, and effective.

The second panel featured outside budget policy and process experts, Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and Sandy Davis of the Bipartisan Policy Center. Both have been incredibly involved in the federal budget process and have offered their fair assessments of the process in the past. This hearing was no different, as they spoke candidly with us on their thoughts of CBO reform.

This hearing and the four preceding it provided me and my fellow Members on the Budget Committee a greater understanding of the CBO and how best to move forward to ensure the agency can adapt in the future.

If you’d like to learn more, click on the links below to watch as I question both panels on the role of CBO:

Panel One: Former CBO Directors, Dr. Alice Rivlin and Dr. Doug Holtz-Eakin

Panel Two: Outside Budget Policy Experts Maya MacGuineas and Sandy Davis

 

WORKING WITH THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO PROTECT GEORGIA’S WATER AND PORT INFRASTRUCTURE

On Thursday, I was pleased to host the new Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), the Honorable R.D. James, at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  If you use water, enjoy the lake, shop for goods, or export products in the metro Atlanta area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps)—which is responsible for Lake Lanier and the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP)—matters to you.  The Assistant Secretary was just confirmed in January, and this hearing provided members on the committee with an opportunity to learn more about Mr. James’s priorities as well as share our own.  I advocated on behalf of those of us who depend on Lake Lanier as well as for continued federal support for SHEP, one of our nation’s most pressing infrastructure needs that supports nearly 30,000 jobs in the Seventh District.  From Forsyth County’s needs for a new water intake at Lanier to metro Atlanta’s need for the Corps to work with us to ensure that we are credited for cleaning and returning water to the basin, there is so much that I am happy to use your voting card to advocate for in this important area. Getting credit from the Corps from our area’s good environmental stewardship and responsible water infrastructure maintenance is critically important. Soon we will be writing and debating a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), and my top priorities will be protecting our access to water and securing a greater federal commitment to SHEP.

Click on the picture below to watch me discuss the importance of SHEP.

Click on the picture below to watch me discuss how my office and the Corps solved problems for Lake Lanier residents.

 

LOCAL VOLUNTEERS SAYING THANK YOU WITH TIME AND TALENT

There are many ways to express gratitude. We all do it in our way, and thankfully our community is full of those who find ways to use their talents and abilities to do just that.  A great and unique example is what the folks of Quilts of Valor here at home did recently to present local active duty military service members and veterans with handmade quilts to recognize them as “Guardians of the County.”  Since 2003, this national group with volunteers across the country has used their talent and time to honor and thank those who have sacrificed so much for the rest of us.  Their actions are a wonderful reminder of just how important a sincere “thank you” can be, and how much it can mean to those being thanked.  Whether with our time, our resources, our talent, or beyond, we live in a place that keeps the important things in perspective.  So often, that means never losing sight of the individuals who protect our freedom and keep us safe.  Humility and gratitude tend to inspire more of the same in others, and I’m grateful for all the men and women who share that with us.  Thank you!  

 

FORSYTH COUNTY REMAINS HEALTHIEST IN GEORGIA FOR SIXTH STRAIGHT YEAR

We strive for excellence in Forsyth County and across the Seventh District, and I’m proud to say we reach that goal more often than not!  Whether it’s economic opportunity, education, athletics, quality of life, and the list goes on and on, we’re consistently leading the pack – and that doesn’t just happen.  It’s a representation of our people.  It’s a reflection of the character of those making up our community.  We want to build successful businesses that attract good employees. We want to provide the best possible education and growth opportunities for our young people, and in so doing, we nurture the principles that produce the health and vitality we see at every turn.  Of the 159 counties in the State of Georgia, Forsyth County has been named the healthiest (as determined by multiple factors) for six consecutive years, and Gwinnett County followed closely behind number four!  That impressive feat is one more feather in our cap perhaps, but we know it’s much more than that.  Thanks to each of you for what you do and the ways in which you keep us moving forward and improving. With our many and varied passions and talents being put to use, I’m confident that that drive and partnership will continue to produce success!

 

CONSTITUENT CONCERN SPOTLIGHT: DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME  

In last week’s newsletter, we started highlighting some constituent mail that has come in over the past week. While there are certainly plenty of bigger issues to cover, one of the more frequent inquiries I received this past week was about daylight saving time. As you no doubt know, on March 11th at 2 a.m. we “sprung” forward an hour to begin daylight saving time, increasing the amount of daylight during our normal working hours for the next eight months. Here are what a few of you had to say about the time change:

Douglas from Lawrenceville:

Dear Mr. Woodall, Thank you for representing our district in the House of Representatives. I am writing you to urge you to introduce or support legislation that would remove the daylight savings time switches from our calendar altogether. This switch is arbitrary and causes a great deal of stress on families, especially those with young children. Thank you for your consideration.

Jewel from Duluth:

Time to abolish daylight saving time. Once again, my family, friends, and colleagues are walking around half asleep every day. The twice-annual time change wreaks havoc on people's lives, and there is no good reason to subject people to this torture. The common reasoning is that it saves energy, but numerous studies show it does not. Offices and businesses do not change their lighting habits based on it. They keep their lights on all day (and night if necessary) regardless. Just walk around any office building any time of day. Most modern office buildings are already equipped with sophisticated energy control systems that have nothing to do with outside light. Yet many other studies have shown the highly detrimental effects on people. especially on sleep patterns and health effects. DST is a scourge that people have to endure. And one day recovery time is not enough. It takes the human body weeks to recover from the sleep disturbances. Let's end this misery once and for all. End DST.

Robert from Cumming:

Congressman Woodall, While we are all thinking about springing forward, let’s make 3/11/2018 the last time we are forced to adhere to an outdated practice. It’s no longer necessary and is another example of a solution to a problem that no longer exists. The costs/problems associated with artificially changing our time far outweigh any benefits received. Thank you for your efforts to not Fall back.

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As you can see, the change in time has been blamed for everything from sleep loss to increases in traffic accidents to millions of dollars in lost productivity to even heart attacks. But why do we change our clocks every March and November?

In the United States, daylight saving time began during World War I, but it was only observed sporadically to save energy—mostly during times of war. It wasn’t until 1966 with the Uniform Time Act that daylight saving time was standardized across the country, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) was tasked with enforcing the law. However, the law allows individual states to exempt themselves if they choose, and now Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states that have done so. Over the years, the length that we have observed daylight saving time has fluctuated, but since the Energy Policy Act of 2005, we observe it from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. 

DOT states that daylight saving time is beneficial because it saves energy by allowing more people spend time outdoors and use less electricity; it prevents traffic accidents, because there is increased visibility in the daylight; and it reduces crime, because more people are out during the daylight. For those reasons, Florida recently passed a law to keep the state on daylight saving time all year round. The problem, however, is that the Uniform Time Act only allows states to exempt themselves from observing it—not expanding it. Therefore, the federal government must act in order for Florida’s law to go into effect. That is why Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Jeanette Nunez (R-FL) recently introduced the “Sunshine Protection Act” and the “Sunshine State Act,” both of which would make daylight saving time the standard time across the nation.

Either solution -- eliminating daylight saving time altogether or keeping it year round -- would address the concerns of people like Douglas, Jewel, and Robert. And some studies dispute the economic benefits of supporting the change to year-round daylight saving time. In fact, a 2007 Department of Energy report found that daylight saving time only saved the United States .03 percent in electricity costs, .02 percent in total energy consumption, and it had no statistically significant change in traffic volume or gas consumption. As such, last week the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to DOT to look into further detail on the effects of daylight saving time on the United States.

While I am not certain of the fate of the bills proposed by Senator Rubio and Representative Nunez, I am eager to hear from DOT on the effects of daylight saving time on the United States and to see if daylight saving time is truly helpful or just a twice a year headache. In the meantime, I would encourage you to contact your state representative and senator if you would like to see Georgia change how it observes daylight saving time.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

I normally look forward with hope to every new work week, but this week, I admit that I’m filled with some sadness. My good friend and Rules Committee Colleague, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), passed away Friday morning, and today, I know that our first Rules Committee Hearing since her passing will difficult for all of us.

For all the partisanship that people believe exists every day in Washington, D.C., I can tell you honestly that on the Rules Committee – which is made up of only 13 House members – while we disagree on policy, we are family. We spend hours each week in a small room on the third floor of U.S. Capitol working together to get the business of the American people accomplished, and when there are only 13 of you; you get to know one another well. Representative Slaughter was the first woman in history to chair the Rules Committee, and through her over 30 years representing the people of western New York, she never lost her zeal for service, her dogged determination to pass legislation that she felt passionately about, or her good humor in working with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I was privileged to have known Louise as a colleague and a friend, and I know that everyone on the Rules Committee will miss her greatly. 

And as the Rules Committee gets back to work today, we will be bringing more important financial services reform bills as well as the FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Act to the floor. I expect the Appropriations bill to pass the House with strong bipartisan support, as it’s been debated and worked on for months between House and Senate leaders, and it will finally put an end to the FY18 funding process while allowing us to move on to FY19. As always, you can go to http://docs.house.gov to see the most updated list of bills that the House will vote on this week.
                        

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 3/12/18

2018/03/12

NATIONALLY RENOWNED GEORGIANS SHARING THEIR EXPERTISE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

Last week proved to be a busy one for my office in D.C. as many folks from the Seventh District and the rest of the state made the trip to discuss policies that are most important to them. Georgia legends, Coach Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker, stopped by to speak about preserving our nation’s battlefields and the importance of physical fitness to America’s children, respectively. I was also visited by another local superstar, the 2016 ACTE National Teacher of the Year Cindy Quinlan from Brookwood High School, who came with other members of the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education to share their successes with their career and technical education programs and the incredibly positive impact those programs have had on their students. I also had some of our neighbors from the Georgia School Nutrition Association speak to me about the benefits of nutritional assistance programs for the neediest folks in our community and how important it is for our kids to have proper nutrition in order to learn. And this is just a snapshot of the issue-packed days I have with constituents at the Capitol. 

Too often, people believe that a congressional week is mostly spent with D.C. lawyers and lobbyists. But they’d be wrong.  The best information comes from our local experts – individuals directly impacted by federal policy – and I am grateful that these impassioned Georgians come to my office to share their expertise with me.  Public policy is made better when these folks take time out of their busy schedules and contribute their voices to the policy. Thank you to everyone who came to D.C. last week! 

 

HOUSE CLEARS LEGISLATION TO HELP LOCAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, President Obama signed H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  This legislation, which has since become known colloquially as “Dodd-Frank,” has had a very significant effect on America’s banking industry.  The nearly thousand-page law was so sweeping and complex that federal agencies are still to this day trying to fulfill all of the law’s mandates and directives almost a decade later.  While some of the consumer protections in the law were necessary to prevent future catastrophes and financial recklessness in the banking industry, many of the requirements in Dodd-Frank have proven to be ineffective, duplicative, or downright harmful to folks who had nothing to do with the crisis.

That’s why I joined a bipartisan majority of my colleagues in the House this week to pass a targeted set of amendments to federal law that will help consumers and the financial institutions they rely on, like their credit unions and community banks.  These institutions help millions of Americans navigate the home buying process, purchase a car, save for retirement, start their dream business, and more, and once the Senate acts on similar legislation, they will be even better position to help their customers succeed.  The House Financial Services Committee provided a helpful guide of the four individual bills we considered, which you can read here:

  • H.R. 4607, the “Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act,” sponsored by Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), amends the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 (EGRPRA) to now include the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The legislation also requires these reviews to be held every seven years, instead of every ten years as is current policy. This bill passed 264-143.
  • H.R. 2226, the “Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act,” sponsored by Representative Andy Barr (R-KY), amends the Truth in Lending Act to allow certain mortgage loans that are originated and retained in a portfolio by an insured depository institution or an insured credit union with less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets be considered as qualified mortgages. This bill is based on Section 516 of H.R. 10, the "Financial CHOICE Act of 2017." This bill passed by voice.
  • H.R. 4725, the “Community Bank Reporting Relief Act,” sponsored by Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL), amends the Federal Deposit Insurance Act to direct federal banking agencies to issue regulations that allow a reduced reporting requirement for depository institutions with $5 billion in consolidated assets or less, and that meet certain other criteria when making the first and third report of condition for a year. This bill is based on Section 566 of H.R. 10, the "Financial CHOICE Act of 2017." This bill passed by voice.
  • H.R 4768, the “Strategy for Combating the Financing of Transnational Criminal Organizations Act,” sponsored by Representative David Kustoff (R-TN), requires the President, through the Secretary of the Treasury, to develop a national strategy to combat the financial networks of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) not later than one year after the enactment of this Act and every two years thereafter. In particular, the strategy will assess the most significant TCO threats and the individuals, entities, and networks that provide financial support or facilitation to those TCOs.  It also reviews current goals, priorities, and actions against TCOs’ financial support networks and will recommend new ways to deter and prosecute those who financially enable TCOs. The bill passed by voice.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP IMPOSES TARIFFS ON STEEL AND ALUMINUM IMPORTS

As you’ve likely heard, President Trump last week followed through with another one of his long-held promises to the American people – to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that he believes threaten America’s manufacturing base. In a recent report to the President, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross explained that the “global excess capacity [of steel] is 700 million tons, almost 7 times the annual total of U.S. steel consumption.” For too long, we have allowed China to repeatedly flood our markets with its excess steel, which “alone exceeds the total U.S. steel-making capacity.” Undeniably, the U.S. steel and aluminum industries and workers have been negatively affected by the large excess of these products in our markets, and I have previously expressed my support to implement remedies in a targeted manner in order to avoid any unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy, consumers, and workers. That’s because I certainly understand that there are instances in which we must act to ensure that products coming into our markets do not jeopardize our nation’s security and undermine our military’s readiness and our workers. However, I continue to believe the future of America’s economic well-being is in ensuring our products have access to foreign markets. 

No one said that striking a balance between implementing remedies and maintaining our free trade relations so that our exporters can continue to sell their American made goods around the world would be easy. While I commend the President for staying true to his word, I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the White House urging the President to take into consideration a number of factors to minimize negative consequences as he moved forward with crafting his final decision. I was pleased to learn that the President heeded a number of our concerns in his final decision by choosing to exclude Mexico and Canada from the outset, as well as expressing his willingness to discuss excluding other countries with which we have close relationships. You can be sure my colleagues and I will closely monitor the economic impacts of these new tariffs and that we will continue working with the Administration to apply these tariffs in a targeted manner. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: LETTERS OF THE WEEK

I tell 7th District residents often that it’s critical to share your opinions with me because when I hear directly from you, I’m able to represent all of our neighbors better. And you responded to the tune of over 93,000 letters, emails, faxes, and phone calls last year!  So that you will know even more about what your neighbors and I are sharing with one another, this week I want to include just one of the many issues that were shared with me last week. 

Last week, a number of people wrote in about H.R. 644, the “Conscience Protection Act.” 

This is from Sandy in Cumming:

As you are considering the budget, I would appreciate you voting for the Conscience Protection Act. I would also appreciate giving NO money to Planned Parenthood as they are using taxpayer money to fight for their cause and against mine and many others. Thank you.  

This is from George in Lawrenceville:

Please work to ensure that the Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 644) is enacted into law as part of the final FY 2018 funding bill. Please also communicate your support for the CPA to House leadership. Most doctors and nurses are unwilling to participate in abortions and should not be forced to choose between violating their consciences or being driven from the healing professions. It is wrong for government to force Americans to violate their deeply held convictions about respect for human life.

I know the issue of abortion is a deeply felt issue, but one thing I am sure most Americans can agree on is that no one should be forced to violate their own religious, moral, or conscientious objections by being required to provide or participate in abortions. While the Weldon Amendment prevents the government from discriminating against hospitals, doctors, nurses, and insurance plans that decline to provide or pay for abortions, we have nonetheless still seen instances where health care professionals have been retaliated against for their religious beliefs and their only recourse is to file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services. The “Conscience Protection Act” would close this loophole by giving health care providers the ability to file a civil suit to seek relief from discrimination, and permanently codify the prohibition against any discrimination or penalty for a health care professional who refuses to involve themselves in or provide an abortion.

I have been proud to support the “Conscience Protection Act” in past Congress’ and look forward to supporting it this Congress. In fact, this past week I signed a letter asking our House leaders to include the bill in the upcoming FY18 spending bill, just like George mentioned in his letter. You can read the letter I signed HERE. 

In the coming weeks, I will share more correspondence from our neighbors.  Understanding each other better can absolutely lead to better solutions for us all.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP OPEN TO MEETING WITH NORTH KOREAN REGIME

The White House made a surprising and important announcement late last week: President Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May of this year to discuss permanent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should certain conditions be met by North Korea. This meeting would mark the first time a U.S. President has officially met with a North Korean leader and could be a significant step towards normalizing relations with a denuclearized North Korea, easing tensions on the Korean peninsula, and providing all our allies in the Asia-Pacific region with peace of mind that a rogue actor has been peacefully disarmed. 

The invitation to talk is certainly an encouraging sign that North Korea may be willing to change its dangerous ways, but I’m pleased that President Trump has said he will remain tough on the Kim Regime by maintaining sanctions and continuing with our annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises until an agreement is completed. There is no doubt that reaching any agreement will likely be a long process with many obstacles, but this development is a positive step forward, especially in light of the recent nuclear and missile tests that have been directly targeted at the U.S. and our allies. It’s important that America does not stand by as rogue nations threaten our global security. By maintaining American leadership in the world and confronting these challenges head on with sanctions and other measures, we are beginning to see progress.  

 

SECRETARY CHAO TALKS TRANSPORTATION WITH HOUSE MEMBERS 

Last week the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a timely hearing on the challenges facing our nation’s infrastructure and the Trump Administration’s solutions.  Our guest was Secretary Elaine Chao, who heads the Department of Transportation and has been promoting President Trump’s infrastructure initiative.  She came to our committee to make her pitch and answer questions about the President’s priorities.  

I took time to first show my appreciation for her partnership and quick assistance in helping rebuild I-85 after the fire last year, and then sought clarity about the Administration’s proposal to reward communities that invest state and local dollars into their own infrastructure.  As you well know, Georgia taxpayers have stepped up to the plate and led by investing our own dollars into priority projects through bonding, user fees, SPLOSTs, and other means.  As the Administration works with Congress to craft our infrastructure package, one of my top priorities will be ensuring that this leadership is recognized and encouraged by our federal partners.  Constructing a regulatory review process that makes quicker decisions and allows for long-term planning and certainty by state and local officials will be another priority.  In fact, Secretary Chao mentioned during our conversation that her department has saved taxpayers and businesses $800 million already simply by streamlining duplicative or unnecessary red tape, and I look forward to building on this success.  

You can view our entire exchange here.

 

FORSYTH COUNTY NAMES 2018 TEACHER OF THE YEAR

With so many phenomenal educators in Forsyth County, selecting a Teacher of the Year isn’t an easy task, but I sure am grateful we as a community make the effort to recognize these outstanding individuals!  Our teachers are among the very best in the state, and this year we had another impressive group of finalists.  On Friday, Mr. Jonas Streck, who teaches German at South Forsyth High School, was chosen as the 2018 Forsyth County Teacher of the Year, and I’d like to congratulate him, as well as thank him for his service.  When you listen to the passion each of the finalsts has for their students, it’s just not possible to be anything but inspired, and I would venture to say that that sincerity and dedication is as contagious to their students as it is to me. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll watch the brief piece below on each of the three finalists.  Again, thank you all, and a special congratulations to Mr. Streck!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is going to consider a number of measures from the Financial Services Committee that reform aspects of the Dodd-Frank law that regulates financial companies.  Many of these measures already passed the House as part of the “Financial CHOICE Act” last year, but as the Senate is taking-up its version of Dodd-Frank reform right now, the House is once again trying to persuade the Senate to take real action on helping our nation’s small banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions better serve Americans. 

I’m also very excited that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will be holding a hearing Thursday morning to consider a number of Chief’s reports from the Army Corps of Engineers, including one that I have long advocated for that will support the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). The hearing will also delve into the future needs of our nation’s water resources infrastructure and how Congress can continue working with the Corps to serve the American people.  

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Woodall Statement Following First Meeting of Joint Select Committee on Budget Process Reform

2018/03/08

WASHINGTON, DC –Today, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA 07), House Budget Committee Chairman Steve Womack (R-AR), House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), and fellow appointees to the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform held their inaugural meeting to identify and recommend reforms to the budget and appropriations process.  The newly-formed panel was created by a provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.  Rep. Woodall, a member of the House Budget Committee and Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process was selected to serve as one of the 16 members.

"Budget dysfunction is neither the goal nor the fault of any one party. But the responsibility for solving it falls on us all,” said Woodall. “Having avoided reform for more than 40 years, the Congressional budget process needs to be reexamined from the ground up, and both parties in both chambers have selected incredibly thoughtful and serious delegates to pursue that goal on this joint select committee. I am honored to be among the four House Republicans chosen, and I believe my selection reflects the 'just get it done' reputation for which our Georgia district is known. This panel is a unique opportunity to restore faith in, and the function of, the federal budget process. I’m encouraged by what began today, and I’m eager to continue our work until we deliver a finished product that puts America on secure financial footing."  

“Today’s meeting marks the start of an important dialogue,” added Republican co-chair Steve Womack. “While there is much to consider as a group, I am encouraged that we share the desire for a budget and appropriations process that works in Congress and for the American people. And I look forward to more discussions about how we can achieve that common goal together.”

Additional Background

  •          The committee is comprised of 16 members, equally divided between the House and Senate. Four members each were appointed by the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader, the House Democratic Leader, and the Senate Democratic Leader. House Budget Committee Chairman Steve Womack and House Appropriations Ranking Member Nita Lowey were tapped to lead as co-chairs of this panel.
  •          The select committee is required to hold public hearings and report recommendations and legislative text by November 30, 2018. The select committee will be dissolved no later than December 31, 2018

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee. 

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Rep. Woodall Manages the Rule for FY18 Budget Resolution

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Rep Woodall Discusses the 21st Century AIRR Act

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Rep. Woodall Manages Rule #1 for the "Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act"

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Contact Information

1725 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4272
Fax 202-225-4696
woodall.house.gov

Rob Woodall serves the 7th district of GA in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the House Committee on Rules, the House Budget Committee, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Rob also serves as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee’s Budget and Spending Task Force.

Rob was born and raised in Georgia, graduated from Marist School in 1988, attended Furman University for his undergraduate degree and received his law degree from the University of Georgia

Rob first came to public service as a staffer for then Congressman John Linder serving as his Chief of Staff and was elected to Congress in 2010.

Rob’s political philosophy is guided by the principles of freedom, and his proudest accomplishment is helping Seventh District families one at a time through casework and creating a Congressional office that functions for the people.


Serving With

Buddy Carter

GEORGIA's 1st DISTRICT

Drew Ferguson

GEORGIA's 3rd DISTRICT

Karen Handel

GEORGIA's 6th DISTRICT

Austin Scott

GEORGIA's 8th DISTRICT

Doug Collins

GEORGIA's 9th DISTRICT

Jody Hice

GEORGIA's 10th DISTRICT

Barry Loudermilk

GEORGIA's 11th DISTRICT

Rick Allen

GEORGIA's 12th DISTRICT

Tom Graves

GEORGIA's 14th DISTRICT

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