WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA 07) issued the following statement in response to the Senate Democrats’ shutdown of the federal government coming to an end.
“I – along with most citizens – was troubled and perplexed that Senate Democrats would shut the government down by opposing a funding bill that they actually support, all to convince the President to take up an issue he had already committed to taking up. But I am glad that they have now abandoned that reckless strategy. Long-term solutions for funding our military, funding the CDC and the NIH and community health centers, reforming our immigration system, and committing to border security were all already in progress as the President had long-committed to working with Congress on these issues. This irresponsible shutdown simply slowed that progress and created new obstacles. I’m eager to move past this partisan distraction and get back to work on those issues important to the 7th District and all Americans.”
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.
Last Thursday, the House passed, with a bipartisan majority, a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through February 16, 2018, to eliminate the Cadillac Tax on comprehensive health insurance plans, to eliminate the tax on life-saving medical devices, and to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for an additional six years for 9 million low-income children and pregnant mothers. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), voted against this bipartisan bill and in the process, shut down the government Friday night.
I know that many of you might be saying to yourselves – why can’t Republicans keep the government open? Aren’t they in the majority? Well, yes; Republicans are in the majority. But in the Senate, Republicans only have 51 votes, and Senate rules require 60 votes to consider a bill, so 9 Democrats need to be willing to buck their partisan leadership, step across the aisle, and do what is right for the American people. Or, Republicans are going to have to change the rules in the future so that a simple majority in the Senate can get the government open and moving again.
Sometimes members of Congress need to take hard stands to shine a light on serious challenges. This was not one of those times. The Senate Democrats were opposing a bill that they didn’t actually oppose to force President Trump to do something that he already said he would do. It took them three days to see the error of their ways, but given their obstinacy in the Senate so far this term, I am candidly grateful that it didn’t take them even longer to find that recognition. I look forward to everyone getting back to work on behalf of the families across America who elected them.
On Friday, Washington, D.C., became the site of the world’s largest pro-life demonstration. In today’s political climate, it is easy to forget that there are both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and people from every religious affiliation who believe in protecting the rights of the unborn. The annual March for Life is an essential reminder of that consensus, and that there is more to be done to defend the defenseless. That is why I cosponsored H.R. 4712, the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which passed the House on Friday. The bill outlines criminal penalties for abortion providers who fail to provide appropriate medical care to a child that is born alive following an attempted abortion, overtly act to kill a child born alive following an abortion, or fail to report that activity to law enforcement. Being a voice for the voiceless requires us to take incremental, yet important, steps like this. And with your voting card, I will continue to work with my colleagues toward this mission.
Unless you have a manufacturing business that utilizes component parts from abroad, you’ve probably never heard of a piece of legislation called the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB). This bill eliminates, reduces, or suspends duties on imported raw materials that aren’t readily available in the United States, and which are used by American companies to manufacture products right here at home. The MTB saves American manufacturers millions of dollars every year while making them more globally competitive. In fact, the National Association of Manufacturers – which counts many 7th District and Georgia companies among its members – estimates that over the next three years, the MTB could boost U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion. I’m proud to say that the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the MTB last week by a vote of 402-0!
You read that right – the House voted unanimously to help American manufacturers and their employees grow our domestic economy, put people back to work, and expand our manufacturing base. The MTB’s passage is one of those “good news” stories that bring every member of Congress from every corner of the country together to support Americans, and I look forward to building on this positive news for the rest of 2018.
Georgia is blessed with the largest and one of the busiest container ports on the continent, some of the most important water resources in the region, and an ever-growing population that will present both challenges and opportunities in the coming years. That’s why one of my most important responsibilities in Congress is serving on the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the jurisdiction of which includes the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and other government bodies tasked with developing our water resources. On Thursday, we had a hearing to examine ways we can improve delivery times and outcomes for water projects. The Corps of Engineers is trying to cope with an enormous backlog of priorities, and while some in Congress would simply suggest throwing more money at the problem, Republicans are driving the debate on how we can streamline the regulatory process to get important projects done faster and more efficiently. As we begin consideration of the next Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) this year, we will continue promoting innovative financing reforms, streamlined decision-making at the federal level, and greater certainty and predictability in the regulatory approval process.
One of the most perplexing tragedies about poverty around the world is that developed countries, like the United States, have spent billions of dollars trying to eliminate the scourge of poverty, and yet, we still struggle with the problem. In the past three years alone, the United States has contributed over $3.5 billion to the World Bank, which provides poor, developing countries with low-interest loans and grants to help them lift themselves out of poverty. Unfortunately, what we’ve found is that too much of American taxpayer money has been wasted by the World Bank on programs that are often unaccountable and do not deliver results. What’s worse is that not only are there reports of ineffective programs, but there are numerous reports of the World Bank’s funds being sent to knowingly corrupt regimes that abuse their citizens, trample on economic freedom for the poor, and inadvertently fund terrorism.
While foreign aid is an instrumental and key part of our nation’s foreign policy, and one that we absolutely must continue, we simply cannot continue to allow taxpayer dollars to be used by entities like the World Bank that allow for mismanagement of foreign aid funds, at best, or to fund countries with corrupt governments, at worst. That is why the House took an important step to reform our contributions to the World Bank by passing H.R. 3326, the “World Bank Accountability Act,” this week. This legislation will change how we contribute to the World Bank and withholds 15% of that funding until the World Bank meets conditions to manage accountability, support economic freedom in developing countries, and oppose violent extremism. As the largest contributor to the World Bank, it is essential for the United States to be an international leader and push for these reforms.
Any community needs good public servants in order to thrive, and throughout the Seventh District, we’re so fortunate to have so many. The men and women of law enforcement are a particularly special group. They put the safety of others above their own, and often times sacrifice time with their loved ones to ensure the rest of us have peace of mind. Lawrenceville Police Chief Randy Johnson is one of those special people. For 33 years he has worn the badge, and for the last 21 years he has served residents of Lawrenceville as Chief. He recently announced that he would be retiring this March, which of course will leave a very important position open for another dedicated public servant, but knowing what I do about our community, I’m confident the next Chief will be just as committed. In the meantime, I’d like share my appreciation for Chief Johnson and his decades of service to the City of Lawrenceville and its residents. The place we call home is what it is because of the amazing people living here. Thank you, Chief Johnson, and all the best in retirement!
Service knows many forms, and can be provided in many timeframes. It’s nothing new to veterans like Gary Goyette, who served America for 20 years in the U.S. Army, and is now serving his fellow veterans once again. The Cumming Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America recently named him Veteran of the Year for all the great work he does for veterans and their families throughout our community. The example set by Gary is so important, not only because of the value in the work he’s doing, but because of the humility with which he does it. “I was completely awe-struck. [I] didn't expect it,” Gary said in reaction to the recognition, and frankly, those like Gary in our community who go above and beyond for others often express a similar sentiment. Caring for one another requires selflessness and sincerity, and thankfully we are blessed with a great deal of these traits in our neighbors here at home. Congratulations, Mr. Goyette, and thank you for your service, past and present!
This week will be another productive one, but I’m happy to say the work will be here at home rather than in Washington. I always look forward to our district work weeks in which I am able to visit with constituents one-on-one, chat with high school students, hear from local business owners and see their operations, and much more. These are the opportunities that help us partner to advance our shared goals. A great example of that partnership can be found in the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has already led to hundreds of employers increasing wages, issuing bonuses, and investing billions and billions of dollars in the American economy. In the past when I have visited with our Seventh District businesses, tax reform and regulatory relief were time and again the primary areas of concern. Well, that consensus built here at home and across the country is what led to dramatic regulatory relief and the passage of the first major tax reform in more than three decades – and while the positive effects have already begun, I believe they are far from over. As I visit with many of you this week, I look forward to discussing the issues we as Americans are facing so that together we can reach the next big policy goal as we did with regulatory relief and tax reform, to name a couple. As always, thank you for your input, and please feel free to reach out to me any time with thoughts or concerns.
Member of Congress
After a productive conversation at the White House last week, Congress is charging ahead to produce a deal for President Trump that will address the legal status of DACA program recipients, immigration process reform, and border security. In the meeting, President Trump outlined the four areas where the negotiations would be focused: border security, chain migration, the visa lottery system, and the DACA policy. As a result, the House has produced a bill, the “Securing America’s Future Act,” which will focus on all four of those points. And while there is no legislative text yet in the Senate, they have announced that they are close to a deal on their end.
Additionally, in the meeting, President Trump also expressed his desire for comprehensive immigration reform to follow this DACA package. I have always been concerned about offering a solution to one set of folks while leaving those behind who have done everything right to immigrate to the United States through the proper channels. I’m encouraged by the prospects of tackling such a feat as immigration reform, and I am hopeful we can get it done.
Late last week, the House voted overwhelmingly to approve S.139, the “FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act,” which reauthorizes and reforms one of America’s most important tools for hunting down foreign terrorists and bringing them to justice. Arguably our nation’s most enduring and fundamental debate is the balance between liberty and security. When in doubt, I choose to err on the side of liberty—a most precious asset that once relinquished is difficult to restore—and have voted multiple times against reauthorizing legislation that I felt did not go far enough in striking the proper balance. In fact, last Thursday, I voted for an amendment to the underlying bill proposed by Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) that would go even further in reforming FISA programs. When that amendment fell short of the support necessary to pass, I supported more modest reforms that still ensure that our Commander in Chief has the tools necessary to defend our homeland while protecting our privacy.
Long ago, Thomas Jefferson noted that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. As your representative and a fellow citizen, I very much appreciate and respect the healthy skepticism that accompanies these counterintelligence debates. When foreign citizens on foreign soil are plotting against America, Section 702 allows the U.S. government to use every tool in its arsenal to intercept that information. The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights exist to protect American liberties for those in America. To those overseas who seek to destroy this liberty, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights provide no safe haven. As President Trump himself tweeted, this particular legislation “is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land.” I was proud to support and reauthorize and reform this vital national security tool and welcome the ongoing debate on how to further improve it.
Yesterday, the nation celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and while many have come to know Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a day off school or work, the day is much more than that. As Isaac Newton Farris, Jr., the nephew of Dr. King explained at the White House just last week, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day “isn’t a day off at the King Center in Atlanta, but instead it’s a day on -- a day in which we do something to benefit someone else.” In the bustle of our everyday lives, it is easy to forget that a simple act of kindness can have a tremendous impact on the life of another person, and while Dr. King’s tremendous influence goes far beyond a simple act of kindness, it is important to remember that his vision is rooted in the amalgamation of those simple acts, and that together we can work to lift our communities above discrimination and violence and continue to ensure that the rights of every American are guaranteed regardless of race.
At a time when our political climate has become particularly divisive, I relish the opportunity to come together with my colleagues from all walks of life, regions of the country, and ideological passions to honor and remember the legacy of Dr. King. Congress passed and President Trump signed into law H.R. 267, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park Act, just a week before Dr. King’s birthday. It is my hope that designating Dr. King’s birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Dr. King’s burial site as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park will better preserve Dr. King’s legacy for future generations. I hope you will join me in not only celebrating how far our nation has come in carrying out Dr. King’s dream, but also in preserving Dr. King’s legacy to remind ourselves and future generations that while we have made progress, there’s still more work to be done.
The constant conflict against global terror and ISIS in the Middle East has changed and presents new challenges every day to our national security; threats unlike any we have faced in our country’s history until recently. Terrorists flock back and forth from the Middle East and other conflict zones to both cause harm to others and to learn how to bring their radical ideals and experience back to their home countries to bring further harm. Given those new challenges, the House Homeland Security Committee established the bipartisan Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry in the United States early last year to examine how terrorists might enter the country, how to stop them from doing so, and how our counter terrorist programs can better cooperate to achieve that goal.
With one of the largest and busiest points of entry into the United States, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, right here in Georgia, this issue is important not just for our national security but for the security of our community, our families, and our friends. I am pleased to share that after an extensive review of our homeland security efforts, the Task Force released a final report and produced several legislative solutions that the House passed last week.
In our community, we’re tremendously fortunate to have such a wealth of diverse, committed individuals who come together around our shared principles to make the place we call home even better. We see it in so many ways in every corner of the district, and just last week we had the opportunity to celebrate a bit of history being made as Rey Martinez was sworn in as Loganville’s newest Mayor and the first Hispanic mayor to be elected in Georgia! Mayor Martinez has served those in his city for years already, and will now continue in this new role, but I’m sure he’ll bring the same passion for our community he has always had. I want to wish him special congratulations for his historic accomplishment, but most importantly, I want to express my appreciation for his service here at home.
This year the City of Norcross swore-in Gwinnett County’s first African-American mayor, Mr. Craig Newton. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was famous for saying: “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” Mayor Newton has been building that consensus through more than two decades of public service to the people of Norcross. He made clear that he wants to be known as “the best mayor that Norcross, Gwinnett County, and the region has seen…I just want to move us forward.” I look forward to seeing the great things that Mayor Newton and the City of Norcross can do together.
It’s one thing to say you come from a remarkable community, but it’s quite another to know – with absolute certainty – that you do. Unfortunately, it is often tragedy that reveals the true character of a community, but when the response is as uplifting as we’ve seen from Forsyth County in recent days, it sure does make me proud of who we are. Many of you likely know about the devastating fire that took the home – but thankfully no lives – of a family in west Forsyth on New Year’s Eve. The McGuinness family lost a great deal that night, and our hearts go out to them, but of course for the people of Forsyth County that was not going to be where the story ended. The last week has seen thousands of donations pouring in to help their neighbors rebuild their lives, and knowing the kind of folks we have throughout the Seventh District, I have a feeling it’s only the beginning. Taking care of one another is what we do here, and there’s no place that does it better. If you are interested in supporting the McGuinness family, you can find out more in the article below.
This week is March for Life Week. Every year since the U.S. Supreme Court made its fateful decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, thousands of people have marched on Washington and in other cities in the country for the cause of life. Last year’s March for Life in D.C. attracted an estimated 100,000 people from across the country, and I hope that this year’s march will be even larger.
As we celebrate the gift of life this week, the House will be debating and passing H.R. 4712, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.” The bill is very simple; it says that any baby born after a failed abortion attempt will be given the same medical care as any other baby. This may seem common-sense to you and I – and it absolutely should be. I’m proud that the House will be taking this stand in favor of life this week. In addition, the House will also debate two financial services bills: H.R. 2954, the “Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act,” and H.R. 3326, the “World Bank Accountability Act of 2017.”
Member of Congress
On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department released its monthly jobs report announcing that the U.S. economy added 2 million jobs in 2017, and December marked the 87th straight month of job gains – the longest streak on record. Unemployment remained at 4.1%, matching its lowest level in 17 years, and wages grew by 2.5%. While wages aren’t growing as quickly as most of us would like, there are some very encouraging signs in the job market – including gains of 200,000 jobs or more in the manufacturing, construction, restaurant, and health care sectors. What's more, the Dow Jones broke through 25,000 for the first time ever last week as confidence in the global economy is soaring. Couple these gains with the economic growth effects of the tax reform bill that has already been signed into law, and I fully expect to see robust job and wage growth in the next few years.
Back in September, President Trump announced that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was unilaterally – and unconstitutionally – established by President Obama. This unsustainable program was created as a superficial and temporary fix to an enduring problem. Now, however, by placing the responsibility back in the hands of Congress where it belongs, President Trump has ensured a more permanent outcome and predictable future for those who were brought here illegally as minors, and he has committed to establishing a new border security program to prevent another generation of children from being trapped in this immigration and legal limbo. In fact, just in the first few days of 2018, President Trump and Congressional Leadership have met to discuss what policy proposals could potentially be included in a final deal, including border security and interior enforcement, among others. After the meeting, Senators emerged expressing their optimism that a deal could be reached and their intent to hold another bipartisan meeting at the White House in the coming days. This is how the process should always work with both parties coming together and partnering with the president to move policy forward. Legislative action, not executive fiat, is what is required, and I am proud of my colleagues who continue to work together diligently to produce a comprehensive solution.
I hear from our friends and neighbors in the Seventh District regularly about the pros and cons of Obamacare, but lately, even those who support the law have been concerned about increasing costs and dwindling options. The Trump Administration has also been concerned about this problem, and the Department of Labor is stepping up with an attempt to fix it. On Friday, the Labor Department announced a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register that expands opportunities for small businesses to band together to provide health insurance coverage to employees through Small Business Health Plans (SBHPs), otherwise known as Association Health Plans (AHPs). The plans allow small businesses to group together so that they can negotiate with health insurance companies for lower premiums and better coverage for their employees – just like large companies and federal employees do today. As many as 11 million Americans are working for small businesses that are so small that they aren’t required to provide health insurance. I don’t want to mandate that they provide insurance, as that would likely bankrupt many of these businesses, but I do believe that it’s important to support these businesses if they want to provide health insurance to their employees. AHPs are a great way to offer that support, and they have long been supported by Congress.
The Labor Department is accepting comments for the next 60 days on its proposal, and if you or someone you know has a small business or is an employee of a small business that could benefit from AHPs, I encourage you to take a look at the proposal and share your comments with me and with the Labor Department.
A lot can be learned about a community by watching how those within it take care of one another. That can include anything from a household to a neighborhood to the broader community we share. And whether it’s helping the younger generation along as they learn, develop, and build the skill-sets needed to be successful, helping our veterans transition from military service back to civilian life, or any one of a number of things on that very long list – the Seventh District excels. A couple of those areas worth noting this week can be found at Gwinnett Technical College, where they were recently recognized nationally for the amazing work they’re doing for our veterans. Both Military Times and Military Friendly acknowledged that the folks over at Gwinnett Tech are among the very best in America when it comes to attending to those who have given so much for the rest of us, and while you and I have known that for quite some time, it’s wonderful to see the rest of the country taking notice as well. So once again, thank you to all our remarkable veterans for your service and sacrifice – and thank you to the leadership and personnel at Gwinnett Tech for leading by example in how we can return a share of that service.
Working together to provide our young people with as many opportunities as possible is another way the Seventh District shines, and we’re fortunate to have so many of our neighbors willing to put in the effort to make those opportunities a reality. A couple of those opportunities are sponsored by Sawnee EMC of Forsyth County each year, and the deadlines for submitting applications are fast approaching! If you have any young people in your life that could be interested or eligible for the Sawnee Foundation Youth Scholarship (January 12th application deadline) or their Washington, D.C. Youth Tour (February 9th application deadline), I hope you’ll encourage them to take full advantage of these amazing resources. Each year, through Sawnee EMC and Jackson EMC, some of our very best youth get the leadership training that they need to make a difference. Thank you again to all those partnering to make our community a better place, and of course, if there is ever any way I can assist you in doing so, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
The new tax bill is already in effect, though as an individual taxpayer, much of the benefit to you won’t be felt until you file your 2018 tax return next year before April 15, 2019. But, many American workers are seeing some of the benefits right away. If you are a small business owner, you are already experiencing full expensing of new equipment so that you can make the new investments that you need. If you are a worker, your company may already be using its tax savings to invest in you. Led by Georgia-based SunTrust and Aflac, company after company—just as predicted—is taking advantage of the new tax legislation to invest more in its employees. For a list of just a few of those companies, click here. America already had the best workers in the world; now, it is no longer burdened by the worst tax code in the world. Keep watching for more economic growth and benefits for American workers and families!
This week begins the Second Session of the 115th Congress. As you know, the last part of the First Session was a whirlwind of activity, capping itself off with the passage of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Many other issues were pushed back to find time to move the tax bill forward. This week, many of those bills that were delayed last year begin coming to the House floor, bills that span the spectrum from those dealing with foreign threats to our national security, such as S. 139 to reauthorize parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, to bills dealing with individual domestic development priorities such as S. 140 to authorize a new rural water system for the White Mountain Apache Tribe to ensure they have access to clean, safe water.
As we move through 2018, you can stay up-to-date with the legislation that is coming to the House floor by visiting http://docs.house.gov/floor and clicking on the calendar to see what’s being considering each week.
GOOD LUCK, AND GO DAWGS!
It’s been a great season, and a fantastic week for Bulldogs nation, and I know we’re all looking forward to what will surely be a great game tonight as a new National Champion of College Football is revealed! Now I know not all of those reading this are Dawg fans, but we can all agree that the hard work, dedication, and commitment that got these two outstanding teams to this point is something worth celebrating together. On what will certainly be a busy and active day around metro Atlanta, I encourage everyone to be careful in your travels, and enjoy what will be a special time for our state as we host such a special event. On Friday, Governor Deal proclaimed it “UGA Football Friday,” so let’s see if it can be an even better Monday! Go Dawgs!
Member of Congress
When I visit schools around the Seventh District, I am often asked, “Where do the ideas for new laws come from?” The answer that I give most often is that a constituent came to me with a problem, and we worked together to craft a solution. That was the case last week when the House passed S. 1393, the “Jobs for Our Heroes Act.” Section 2 of this bill, which is now on its way to the White House to be signed into law, is the exact text of my bill, H.R. 2547. It allows VA medical professionals – physicians, physician assistants, chiropractors, advance practice nurses – to conduct the medical examinations necessary for a veteran to be able to operate a commercial motor vehicle under the rules and regulations of the Department of Transportation. This common-sense legislation was approved by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, and it is going to help veterans get back to work faster.
I was proud to have worked with my main Democrat co-sponsor, Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA) on this measure as well as my friend Representative Pete Aguilar (D-CA) on the final version of this bill. Despite what you may hear elsewhere, bipartisanship is alive and well in Congress, and the “Jobs for Our Heroes Act” is a prime example of how we can work together to make a difference.
While most of the focus last week was on tax reform, Congress also passed a couple of spending bills. The first was a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund our federal agencies and programs through January 19, 2018. The CR also included a temporary extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as well as funding through March 2018 for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). President Trump signed the CR into law at the end of last week. The House has passed full-year measures for funding and reauthorizations for CHIP and Community Health Centers, but the Senate has not yet acted on any of these bills. My expectation is that Senate will resume work on a FY2018 appropriations package in the early days of 2018 with the goal of completing it before the CR expires.
The second spending bill to pass last week was an emergency disaster funding measure, and it was designed to assist with the ongoing recovery and relief efforts for those who were impacted earlier this year by devastating hurricanes and those who are currently being impacted by wildfires. Tens of billions have already been dedicated to those American families affected by hurricanes and wildfires in 2017. President Trump asked for another $40 billion in emergency funding and suggested offsets to pay for it, but by the time the bill reached the House floor, all of the offsets had disappeared and the bill had grown to more than $80 billion—only 15% of which (according to CBO) is actually going toward disaster relief in FY2018. That isn’t right—not for those families in need and not for the American taxpayer. I stand with our families in need, and I will continue to work with the Administration on disaster relief and support Administration requests for funding and offsets. Hopefully, with work, we can eliminate the non-emergency dollars in this bill and put 100% of the bill toward disaster recovery.
As a Christmas gift to millions of American families, President Trump signed H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” into law on Friday morning. As you likely know, the bill was approved by both the House and Senate last Wednesday, marking the first major overhaul of our income tax code since 1986. Certainly, there is still much to do, but there is much to celebrate about this iteration of tax reform. I am confident that its reforms will deliver tax relief for hardworking Americans from all walks of life and fuel our economy for years to come. Though there are far too many reforms to mention them all here, I do want to share some of the more significant provisions with you.
Click on the picture below to watch my remarks in support of H.R. 1.
On the individual side of our tax code, the final version of H.R. 1 significantly increases the standard deduction to shield nearly double the amount of money every American can earn before paying income taxes, and it also lowers tax rates so taxpayers can keep more of their hard-earned money. Though many credits and deductions were eliminated in the name of simplifying the tax code, H.R. 1 preserves several of those that are most beneficial to many American taxpayers, including the mortgage interest deduction, the state and local tax deduction, the charitable contribution deduction, and the medical expense deduction, to name a few. For families with children, H.R. 1 expands the child credit from $1,000 to $2,000, preserves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and maintains the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Businesses of all sizes will also see a simpler tax code and a reduced tax burden beginning in 2018. For small business organized as pass-through entities, H.R. 1 offers a first-ever 20% tax deduction so that more business income can be invested in employees and growing the company. And for larger businesses competing in today’s global economy, the corporate tax rate will fall from 35 percent—the highest in the industrialized world—to 21 percent, a reform that will make American businesses more competitive overnight. Further, H.R. 1 shifts America from a world-wide system of taxation to a new territorial system that will end the outdated practice of double taxing foreign earnings brought back to the U.S. for investment while repealing the incentives in current law that reward companies that offshore jobs and income.
Again, there are far too many good things about H.R. 1 for me to share them all here so I invite you all to use the links below to read more about it. I hope you all are as excited as I am about beginning a new year with a brand new tax code. And if the last few days are any indication, hard-working Americans have a lot to look forward to in terms of benefits. Several companies (Boeing, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Comcast) have already announced new billion dollar investments in their American operations, immediate bonuses for hundreds of thousands of front-line employees, and increases in the minimum wage for entry level employees (up to $15 per hour). This is just the beginning folks. I expect more companies to announce how they are going to use their tax savings to invest in their employees and in the American economy as this law goes into effect in the coming year.
The headlines last week focused on passage of landmark tax reform legislation and another necessary government funding package, but amidst all that, the White House was taking a bold step forward in punishing human rights abusers and perpetrators of worldwide corruption schemes. In 2016, Congress passed a law called the Global Magnitsky Act – named after Russian citizen Sergei Magnitsky who was killed while in government custody after exposing corruption in the Russian government – which allows the President to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on any individual in the world who is responsible for committing or supporting human rights violations and who engages in corruption.
Last week, President Trump used this law to impose sanctions and visa bans on 53 people and organizations, including Major General Maung Maung Soe, a Burmese general who is responsible for an ethnic cleansing operation of the Rohingya minority in Burma. Sanctions were also levied against: Yahya Jammeh, the former President of the Gambia who created a terror and assassination squad in that country to silence political opposition; Slobodan Tesic, one of the biggest illegal arms dealers in the Balkans; Gulnara Karimova, the head of a powerful organized crime syndicate in Uzbekistan that engaged in extortion and bribery of government officials; and Mukhtar Hamid Shah, a Pakistani doctor who Pakistani law enforcement believe is the ring-leader of a human organ trafficking ring, to name a few.
The Declaration of Independence is clear when it says: “[w]e hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happieness….” From 1776 to today, we believe as Americans that all people are equal – whether here or abroad – and it is our responsibility to stand up to those who would take away the God-given rights of every person through horrific crimes like ethnic cleansing and politically-motivated assassinations. I’m proud of President Trump for taking these actions, and I support him continuing to single-out for punishment even more heinous actors around the world.
With a productive week in Washington keeping me occupied, I wasn’t able to attend the celebration in Suwanee last week, but I sure am proud of the North Gwinnett High School football team, and all those who helped them reach the remarkable achievement of becoming the 7A State Champions! The Seventh District alone -- and the entire State of Georgia -- is home to incredible schools with top-notch academic and athletic programs, so to rise to the top in such a competitive field is truly impressive. A Suwanee native and former North Gwinnett High School quarterback, Mayor Jimmy Burnette, said it best when he talked about how the journey to this point was a long one, but shows just how far hard work and commitment can take us – as individuals, teams, and communities. Team sports are such a great way to demonstrate this principle, and I’m grateful to have the kind of local leadership that is empowering our young people with these opportunities to learn and be successful. Congratulations once again to North Gwinnett High School and the Suwanee community for this victory! As is almost always the case, successes are the culmination of a great deal of hard work, many failures along the way, the lessons learned through them, and the support of so many behind the scenes. It’s a moment well-earned, and we’re proud of you!
The stories of success just keep coming! In our community it doesn’t seem to matter which direction you look, you’ll find real-world examples of tangible success and excellence in just about any field you choose. If you hadn’t heard yet, it was recently announced that Forsyth County public schools ranks higher than any other public system in the state on the College and Career Readiness Performance Index! Of course, this isn’t the first accolade earned by our fantastic educators here at home, but it is yet another one. These kinds of results give our voice in places like Washington tremendous credibility, and I’m so appreciative of our local leaders who make that a reality. When I share our story of success on Capitol Hill, it isn’t just my voice, it’s a proven track record from a diverse community that is working together to get things done. That matters, and it makes a big difference as we work to shape federal policy that partners with, and empowers, those back home. The message of local decision-making and freedom to craft tailored solutions for individual communities isn’t hypothetical in the Seventh District – it’s a way of life, and I’m grateful. As Assessment and Accountability Director of Forsyth County Schools, Beth Kieffer, said, “We are blessed here by a community with high expectations. And beyond that, we have excellent students who want to excel,” and I couldn’t agree more. Congratulations!
This is truly the most wonderful time of the year. No matter how your family celebrates the holiday season, it is hard not to get caught up in the season of joy and giving, family and traditions. Across the Seventh District you can see Christmas trees, Menorahs, poinsettias, wreathes, lights, and so much more celebrating and sharing the holiday spirit with our entire community. This is by far one of my favorite parts of representing our district. The ability to take part in and see that vast diversity of traditions present in our community warms the heart, and I am incredibly thankful for how each of our different celebrations enriches and benefits our community. While the holiday decorations on the outside of every home are beautiful, what is more inspiring is the generous and caring spirit that fills each home and every person. The holiday season is so much more than a time of year or an actual season, but rather a reminder to cherish and love one another, to enjoy the warm company of friends and family, and to pursue the dream of “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, from my family to yours. See you in the New Year!
Member of Congress
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, legislation introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA-07), and in the Senate by Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), received final approval in Congress before heading to the President’s desk for signature. The “Jobs for Our Heroes Act,” builds upon current law, the Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities (VETOPPS) Act, originally authored by Woodall and signed into law as part of the FAST Act in December of 2015 to remove regulatory barriers for military veterans continuing or beginning work in the trucking industry. Specifically, Woodall’s 2015 provision required the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Veterans Administration (VA) to develop a streamlined process for VA physicians to join the National Registry for Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME), which will save veterans time and money by allowing them to receive a DOT physical from their own VA healthcare team.
The DOT requires all commercial drivers to be examined by a health professional listed on the NRCME, and while there are more than 50,000 certified medical examiners (CME) nationwide, FMCSA found during their rulemaking that there were only 25 within the entire VA health system – a mere .0005%. This forced many veterans to look outside the VA for a medical professional eligible to perform the required physical, possibly having to pay out of pocket as well. The “Jobs for Our Heroes Act” further increases veterans’ access by allowing all qualified VA medical professionals, including advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, to provide physical examinations for veterans using the new streamlined process.
“This bill has always been about crafting a common sense, bipartisan solution that provides opportunities for our veterans returning to the civilian workforce as quickly as possible while also filling much-needed positions within the trucking industry,” said Rep. Woodall. “These kinds of seemingly small, targeted solutions may not always make the front page news, but they make a big difference in the lives of those affected. I’m proud to have led on this issue, and I am grateful to the constituent who first called me up to bring the problem to my attention, as well as to Senator Cornyn and all my colleagues who partnered with us to get this across the finish line for our veterans.”
“Rep. Woodall is a trusted voice on this Committee, and he continues to be a strong leader committed to improving employment opportunities for our Nation’s veterans, and to effective, commonsense government,” added House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster. “I commend him for his work on this legislation and in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s work to strengthen America’s infrastructure.”
From his speech on the Senate Floor, Senator Cornyn also added, “And I want to thank Congressman Rob Woodall who played a key role helping get this bill through the House. I hope with this bill signed into law, more members of our military will be able to utilize the skills they have acquired while in the military to qualify for well-paying jobs in our communities, and we continue to use our best efforts to keep faith with our veterans who have done so much for all of us.”
The High Points:
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, 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.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The U.S. House of Representatives, along with the Senate, passed the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” which will now be sent to the President’s desk for his signature. The achievement is the first major tax reform measure since Ronald Reagan’s Presidency. It provides across the board tax rate reductions and takes steps to simplify the tax code while positioning U.S. businesses and job creators to be significantly more competitive globally. Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall supported the measure and issued the following statement after passage.
“Today’s historic agreement to reform America’s tax code for the first time in more than three decades marks tremendous progress and is the fulfillment of a commitment made to the American people,” said Rep. Woodall. “As a long-time advocate for the FairTax, which I believe is the truest form of fundamental tax reform, I’m pleased to see many of its principles of simplicity, transparency, and competitiveness incorporated into H.R. 1. The ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ reduces individual rates, empowers our businesses and job-creators to be more competitive at home and abroad, and sets the invaluable precedent that consensus on big ideas is not only attainable, but also replicable, and I look forward to building on this consensus as we take on new legislative challenges next year.”
Key measures of the reform enacted through H.R. 1 include, but are not limited to, the following:
For individuals and families, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
• Retains seven brackets, but at reduced rates (10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%).
• Significantly increases the standard deduction to protect roughly double the amount of what you earn each year from taxes – from $6,500 and $13,000 under current law to $12,000 and $24,000 for individuals and married couples, respectively.
• Increases the child tax credit to $2,000. Of this, $1,400 would be refundable, with the refundable portion indexed to inflation. All dependents ineligible for the child tax credit are eligible for a new $500 per-person family tax credit. Provisions begin to phase out at $400,000 ($200,000 for single filers).
• Retains other above-the-line deductions, including educator expenses and student loan interest. Graduate student tuition waivers also remain in place.
• Retains the charitable contribution deduction. Also retains the mortgage interest deduction for acquisition, but limited for new purchases to $750,000 in mortgage debt, while eliminating the deduction for equity debt.
• For all homeowners with existing mortgages that were taken out to buy a home, there will be no change to the current mortgage interest deduction.
• Continues to allow people to write off the cost of state and local taxes – up to $10,000. Gives individuals and families the ability to deduct property taxes and income – or sales – taxes to best fit their unique circumstances.
• Eliminates Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty tax – providing families with much-needed relief and flexibility to buy the health care that’s right for them if they choose.
• Maintains the Earned Income Tax Credit to provide important tax relief for low-income working Americans.
• Increases the exemption amount from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) to reduce the complexity and tax burden for millions of Americans.
• Provides immediate relief from the Death Tax by doubling the amount of the current exemption to reduce uncertainty and costs for many family-owned farms and businesses when they pass down their life’s work to the next generation.
For job creators of all sizes, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
• Lowers the corporate tax rate to 21% – down from 35%, which today is the highest in the industrialized world – the largest reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate in our nation’s history.
• Adopts a 20 percent deduction for pass-through income, limited to the greater of (a) 50 percent of wage income or (b) 25 percent of wage income plus 2.5 percent of the cost of tangible depreciable property for qualifying businesses, including publicly traded partnerships but not including certain service providers.
• Enacts deemed repatriation of currently deferred foreign profits at a rate of 15.5 percent for liquid assets and 8 percent for illiquid assets.
• Allows full (100%) expensing of short-lived capital investment, such as machinery and equipment.
• Eliminates the Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax, thereby lowering taxes and eliminating confusion and uncertainty for American job creators.
To learn more about the bill in its entirety, click here.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, 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.
As you all know, tax reform has been a goal for decades and a hot topic in recent months. It’s been discussed around kitchen tables at dinner time and conference rooms during business meetings. It’s been debated on live television by policy experts and political talking heads. It’s been considered in various forms in hallways and committee rooms on Capitol Hill for years. The reason, of course, that all this debate and discussion has been happening is because our tax code impacts Americans from all walks of life, and that reality makes reaching a consensus on a reform plan an uphill battle. But I’m pleased to report that we are nearing the top of the mountain. Last week the House-Senate Tax Reform Conference Committee successfully reconciled the separate tax reform bills passed in each chamber. That’s right, an agreement on the first fundamental overhaul of our tax code since 1986 has been reached, and the final tax reform bill has been signed by the conferees and posted online for the world to see.
As I pointed out in last week’s newsletter, the final bill still needs approval from the full House and Senate before it can be sent to the President’s desk. My hope and expectation is the House will pass it tomorrow (Tuesday), and the Senate will follow suit before the week ends. I invite you all to take a look at the bill and the accompanying summary documents to see exactly how you will benefit from the new plan. I think what you’ll find in the agreement are many of the ideas and policy proposals that many of you have contacted me about in recent months—and thank you again to all who have reached out about tax reform over last few months and years!
As you can see from the below tax reform timeline, this legislation has been years in the making. It is the result of countless hours of deliberation and debate—many of those hours occurring during the more than 100 tax reform hearings held in the House and Senate in recent years. In the few years that I have been entrusted with your voting card in the House, there has never been a conference report that has the potential to do as much for jobs and wages as this one, and I am very much looking forward to casting our vote on H.R. 1 this week. Let’s get this bill to the President’s desk, lock in these reforms that make it easier to keep and grow jobs in America, and then we’ll roll our sleeves back up again and see what more needs to be done.
While much of America’s attention is currently focused on the North Korean threat, Iran continues to finance terrorism, sowing violence and chaos in the Middle East and beyond. In the House, we passed two bills—H.R. 4324 and H.R. 1638—last week to address this illicit behavior and put a stop to their terror. These initiatives require the Treasury Department to lend greater scrutiny to the export of aircraft to Iran, report to Congress on any new transactions by U.S. or foreign financial institutions involving the export or re-export of commercial aircraft to Iran, and include additional measures to improve the deeply flawed Iran deal that was negotiated by the Obama Administration. The White House and Congress are working closely to leverage cooperation with global partners and continue to make progress against terrorism and the rogue regimes that finance it. We simply cannot allow Iran’s terrorist financing and support to continue unabated, and I’m pleased that the House passed both of these bills with bipartisan majorities.
Last week, the House approved H.R. 2396, the “Privacy Notification Technical Clarification Act.” This measure builds on legislation approved and signed into law during the last Congress that allowed financial institutions to forgo sending annual privacy notice disclosures to customers so long as those policies had not changed and the company did not share information with non-affiliated third parties. H.R. 2396 provides additional flexibility by allowing vehicle financing companies – those companies that work with your local car dealer to help you buy your new car – to post privacy policies on their websites as long as customers are notified about them in monthly billing statements. Right now, these financial institutions have to print and mail these notices to consumers each year, and this bill would update existing laws to reflect the technological advancements of recent decades. I was pleased to join an overwhelming majority of my colleagues in supporting H.R. 2396, and I look forward to its consideration in the Senate.
Once again, I have the pleasure of sharing with you all – if you haven’t already heard or seen – a heartwarming story that’s happening right here at home. The Place of Forsyth County is doing amazing things for those in need in our community, and I can’t describe the amount pride I feel when I see, time and again, members of our community going out of their way to help others – often times in very new and innovative ways. The Place of Forsyth County is a non-profit organization led by Executive Director Joni Smith, and they recently held their third annual Holiday House, where Forsyth County residents who are experiencing hard times can come to ensure they are still able to make the Holidays a wonderful time for their children. Through the generosity of residents across Forsyth County and the region, and the selfless work of Ms. Smith and her whole team, thousands of lives have been touched by the kindness that shapes our part of the world. That is a reality to which we’ve grown accustom here, but not every community can claim such remarkable citizens. Thank you all for what you do!
It’s hard to believe, but with 2017 drawing to a close, it’s time to enjoy the holidays and gear up for a productive 2018! On Wednesday of last week, leaders from across the region and state gathered in Gwinnett County to do just that. At the Gwinnett Chamber legislative luncheon, folks had the opportunity to visit with and hear from colleagues, elected officials, local businesspeople, and to top it all off, a keynote address from Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. The Lieutenant Governor discussed his vision for not only the upcoming state legislative session beginning next month, but also for the coming years.
Now I know our community has differing opinions on exactly how we reach our common goals, especially when it comes to the specifics, but we all want the community we share to thrive in every way possible. The only way we get there is if we engage each other in productive conversation, and we turn to our elected and business leaders to often be the tip of that spear. We’re fortunate to have these kinds of folks at every turn here at home. Irrespective of our disagreements, we work together in a way that builds consensus towards solving the challenges we face. There’s always more work to do, but I’m grateful for the goals we’ve reached to this point, and the vision and commitment that keeps us striving towards those we’ve yet to achieve.
Overshadowed by the larger debate on Congress’ effort to reform our nation’s tax code last week were a number of important hearings that took place on Capitol Hill. Among the many hearings, Congress heard from Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as from trade and foreign policy experts on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
As you know, it is the responsibility of Congress to conduct oversight of federal departments and agencies to ensure that taxpayer resources are properly utilized as well as to ensure proper behavior of all federal employees as they conduct their official duties. That said, questions and concerns have been raised in recent weeks about the actions of some DOJ investigators and counselors assigned to Special Counselor Robert Mueller’s team and whether or not those actions had any influence over investigative decisions. In response, the House Judiciary Committee called on Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, who appointed Mr. Mueller, to testify on his knowledge of this matter as well to discuss a number of other important issues. I believe that Americans deserve to know the extent to which Russia may have interfered in our elections, and I do hope you’d agree with me that any and all investigations must remain free of political bias. My expectation is that most of the findings will be made public, but if any do need to remain classified, I commit to you that I will investigate those, as well. You can click here to watch the entire committee hearing or here to read Mr. Rosenstein’s opening statement.
Additionally, members on the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade heard from policy experts on the future of NAFTA and its importance to both the U.S. economy as well as our national security. We live in a global economic marketplace and while NAFTA’s continued success is critical to the future of America’s economic well-being, the increased trade between our three countries has forged relations that allow us to work together on a number of important issues that extend beyond trade. As Chairman Ted Poe (R-TX) exclaimed in his opening statement, “we cooperate with the Mexican government on issues of border security, immigration, and the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking. Our southern border security depends on our joint efforts with Mexico.” With that said, you can count on me to continue encouraging this Congress and Administration to move forward with renegotiation talks in a manner that does no harm to U.S. industries, workers, and consumers or to the important relations we have fostered with our North American neighbors.
This week the House is going to consider and pass two critically important bills: the final version of H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” and H.J.Res. 124, a measure which will keep the government funded through January 19, 2018, will provide a two-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and will fund the Department of Defense for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018. I’m so excited that we’re just a few days away from making tax reform a reality. Congress has been working on tax reform for many years, but the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has brought us to the edge of success. I look forward to telling you next week that President Trump has signed this landmark bill into law.
Member of Congress
For those of you who are following the tax reform process closely, you’ll know that last week brought us another step closer to wrapping up our work on a comprehensive tax overhaul before the end of the year. The House led the way last Monday by voting to meet the Senate in Conference Committee to hash out the differences in each chamber’s tax reform plan, and the Senate followed our lead on Wednesday. Once the members of the Conference Committee reach an agreement on a unified tax reform bill, it will come before the House and Senate for final passage, and if approved by each chamber, the tax reform bill will head to the President’s desk for his signature.
You may be wondering what those outstanding differences are in the House and Senate tax bills. The good news is that the bills are pretty similar, but there are several areas in which the plans differ. For example, the House-passed version of H.R. 1 would consolidate the current seven tax brackets into four, while the Senate bill maintains all seven of today’s brackets. Another outstanding issue is how to deal with certain deductions and credits, including the deduction for medical expenses, which the House bill eliminates and the Senate bill retains, and the child tax credit, which both bills expand but in different ways, to name a few. Even in areas where there is agreement, such as lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%, the two chambers currently disagree on whether the changes should take place in 2018 or be delayed a year until 2019. My expectation is that, after much consideration and debate, the Conference Committee will reach an agreement on each and every one of these issues in the coming days.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about each of chamber’s tax reform bill and the sections that need to be reconciled, I encourage you to take a look at the Tax Foundation side-by-side comparison. And as I’ve said many times in past newsletters, I hope you all will continue to reach out to me about those parts of our tax reform bill that you like and those parts that you believe could be improved. My commitment to you all is that I will continue working until the very last minute of this debate to deliver a tax reform plan that makes the American taxpayers proud!
President Trump fulfilled yet another one of his campaign promises last week by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. This move was lauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and described by many as an important step toward peace in the troubled region. The President wants what we all want—peaceful coexistence between the Israeli and Palestinian people—and the simple fact is that bipartisan majorities in Congress have voted multiple times to recognize Israel’s self-identified seat of government. The Jerusalem Embassy Act became the law of the land in 1995 during President Bill Clinton’s Administration, and I’m pleased that this law is finally being implemented by President Trump, as it should have been long ago.
Amongst the other matters considered in the House of Representatives this past week, Representative Al Green (D-TX) offered articles of impeachment against President Trump, describing the President as a divisive and controversial figure, but failing to actually cite any criminal actions. The articles were overwhelming dismissed, with only 58 members, all Democrats voting in favor of taking the matter up on the House floor, and 364 members, the vast majority of the House – both Democrats and Republicans – in opposition to such an action. While demands for impeachment are not rare, even George Washington faced such calls; the actual impeachment of a federal official is incredibly rare. In fact, only two Presidents have ever been successfully impeached, and both were acquitted by the Senate, where the trial is adjudicated. Impeachment is very serious action and should be reserved for the most grave of circumstances and with appropriate evidence of “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors," as prescribed in the Constitution. If a Member of Congress proposed articles of impeachment every time he or she disagreed with the President, our country would not be able function. Just because we disagree on policies does not justify removing someone from office or overturning free and fair elections decided by the American people. The wonderful thing about the great experiment of American democracy is that we can disagree on many issues, and, despite those differences, still be able to come together to govern the country. I was pleased to see the vast majority of my colleagues—both Republican and Democratic— agree that this was a distraction from the vital work that faces the House, especially with pressing issues such as tax reform, immigration, and our national security on our plate.
Last week, the House passed an important financial services bill – H.R. 477, the “Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales, and Brokerage Simplification Act of 2017,” with overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill seeks to modify the current U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory structure that subjects merger and acquisition brokers who advise small privately held companies to the same SEC registration requirements as larger, publicly traded companies, and such registration requirements typically come with a hefty fee that is oftentimes passed on to small businesses. I know that we can do better for our nation’s small, family-owned businesses, especially when it comes time to pass on a company that someone has invested their life’s work and passion into, and by exempting certain merger and acquisition brokers who assist these companies when that time comes, I am confident that H.R. 477 will provide small business owners with the sound financial confidence they need to finalize a transfers or a sale, as well as the fair treatment they deserve.
In addition to H.R. 477, Congress passed and sent to the President a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend funding for the federal government through December 22, 2017. As many of you already know, the House passed earlier this year, on time and ahead of schedule, an entire Fiscal Year 2018 spending package to fund the priorities of the American people. As I pointed out on the House floor, Congress should not be in the business of funding the government by way of CR’s, but unfortunately, we cannot continue to wait any longer for the Senate to take up and consider the House-passed FY18 spending package and let the federal government’s funding lapse.
Similarly, the Senate has not yet taken up a bill that passed the House weeks ago with my support and would provide a five year reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Because many states and families can no longer wait for the Senate to get itself moving either, this CR includes a provision that allows the government to provide reserve CHIP funds to states most in need of it.
CLICK BELOW to watch me speak about the CR and H.R. 477.
On Thursday, I joined many of my colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for a roundtable on emerging technologies in the trucking industry. We have seen advancements over the last several years in technology related to efficiency and safety that are poised to reinvent this industry for the 21st Century. Today there are more than 10 million commercial trucks on the road, and a growing economy with better trade deals will only result in more commerce. Commercial trucks on the road are a good sign—that means there are more jobs available, Americans have more money to buy things, and businesses are succeeding. That economic activity does bring its own set of challenges, however. We have to make sure that our infrastructure is able to accommodate it, our roadways don’t become hopelessly congested with new traffic, and that we all can drive on our public roads safely.
Rep. Rob Woodall participates in a bipartisan roundtable discussion on emerging technologies in the trucking industry
On the Committee, we are working with safety organizations, industry stakeholders, and folks back home to build consensus on the steps we can take to begin integrating semi-autonomous vehicles on the road and improve the safety technology that truck drivers have access to, such as automatic emergency braking systems, forward collision warning, lane keeping support, and more. These conversations will intensify once the President announces his infrastructure proposal early next year, and I am excited to be in a position to influence such an important issue.
As a gun owner and concealed carry permit holder myself, I value the opportunity to exercise my Second Amendment right while home in Georgia. But as many of you know, not all states will honor a Georgia concealed carry permit. Congress had attempted to address this problem back in 2011, but it failed to offer protections to uphold the rights of states to make their own laws in this area. Last week, however, the House passed a bill, H.R. 38, the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” that would address not only the reciprocity issue, but also many of the Tenth Amendment concerns regarding the protection of state sovereignty. With the additional endorsement of Georgia’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Chris Carr, and twenty three other attorneys general across the United States, I am encouraged that this bill will uphold the Second and the Tenth Amendments equally. I am hopeful that as H.R. 38 continues to move through the legislative process, Members of this body remain mindful of the importance of each Amendment in the Constitution.
I’m so grateful to each one of you for taking the time to participate in my town hall meeting last week. We had a great discussion about Congress’ effort to reform our nation’s outdated tax code, and we were joined by my good friend Representative Tom Rice (R-SC) who sits on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the House. Representative Rice shared with us his insight on Congress’ reform effort as well as his tax policy expertise from his twenty-five plus years of practicing tax law before being sent to Congress. We also heard from a number of Seventh District residents who shared their thoughts about the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” and from those folks who simply wanted to get their facts straight, which seems harder and harder to do now-a-days with the news media’s sensationalized coverage of the issues.
If you weren’t able to participate in this event, please know I’ll be doing more, and I certainly hope you’ll be able to participate at that time. I’ll be sure to let you know when those are coming up, so please keep an eye on future newsletters and on my website. Thank you again for your continued partnership, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Of all the things that make me proud of our community, the way in which we take ownership of the big challenges with a sense of partnership and vision certainly rises to the top. One of those issues is how we partner to address our growing transportation needs not only in the Seventh District, but across the State of Georgia, and throughout the country. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, with your help, I’ve been able to carry our message of local leadership and decision-making, the ways in which we invest with our own time and resources before asking others to do so, and the results we have to show for it to Washington. Not every community has that story to tell, but irrespective of the issue – whether education, taking care of those in need, transportation, and so much more, we work together to reach our goals. We’ve accomplished a great deal together, and there’s absolutely more to do. As the region continues to grow and change, so do our infrastructure needs. Arriving at the best solution requires the kind of discussion and leadership we’re fortunate to have with so many of our local officials – Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash being among them.
In recent years, we’ve made great strides together at the local, state, and federal level. From the bipartisan enactment of the FAST Act, to Georgia’s own billion dollar investment in transportation and infrastructure, to county and local projects in Gwinnett and Forsyth, we’re making tangible progress, but we’re also keenly aware of the work and hurdles that remain before us. Here at home, we don’t always agree on every step forward, but I’m grateful that where we do agree is that we all want to move towards those common goals, and we don’t shy away from the dialogue that gets us there. Thank you all for your continued partnership in these conversations, whether just around the corner, down at the Gold Dome, or in Washington.
It was a productive week in Washington, and that included visiting with several of our fantastic Forsyth County Commissioners who were in town on behalf of the good people of Forsyth County. While our paths cross often here at home, it’s not every day that I have the pleasure of hosting them in my office on Capitol Hill. Now mind you, they had important business to attend to that included meeting with Vice President Pence and White House staff, not to mention many others on Capitol Hill, but I like to think they didn’t feel any more welcome there than when they were in the Seventh District’s office in Washington. We discussed many things, but one of their biggest areas of concern and reasons for their trip was to advance a resolution that would establish a water intake pipe in Lake Lanier.
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in Washington, D.C.
Here again we have yet another example of the forward-thinking leadership of our local leaders, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with them on this issue and so many others. Water resources is a topic near and dear to all of us, especially as it relates to Lake Lanier and its responsible use, which is an on-going conversation we have on Capitol Hill as well. Most recently, in last year’s Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), you and I successfully partnered to preserve our local decision-making authority surrounding Lake Lanier. Without a doubt, it is one of our community’s most valued resources, and it is because of that reality that I will always make the case for our superior stewardship of it. No one values its beautiful shores or precious drinking water more than we do here at home. It was my pleasure to visit with our Commissioners about their vision and goals for our shared community, and I’m looking forward to continuing that partnership on this issue and many more.
I’m especially excited to announce that this Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will approve a bipartisan bill that I introduced along with my colleague Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA). H.R. 2595, the “Strengthening the Department of Homeland Security Secure Mail Initiative Act,” is a common-sense bill that directs DHS to allow someone to pay a small fee and have their important DHS documents held for them at the post office or delivered only with signature confirmation. While this is a simple bill, it’s fixing a complex problem. Too many of our 7th District neighbors have seen their critically important immigration documents – work permits, visas, green cards – lost in the mail. This increases the chances of identity fraud for the unsuspecting immigrant, and it provides criminals an opportunity to engage in terrorism. By allowing folks to pay a nominal amount up front, we’re helping save time and aggravation later by keeping these documents safe. I’m so proud that the Judiciary Committee is moving the bill forward, and I hope that it will come to the House floor soon.
The House is also expected to move four bills through the Rules Committee and across the floor this week: H.R. 1628, the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act,” H.R. 2396, the “Privacy Notification Technical Clarification Act,” H.R. 4015, the “Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act of 2017,” and H.R. 4324, the “Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act.” The Rules Committee will be holding its hearing on these measures Tuesday afternoon at 3:00PM, and I hope you’ll take a moment to tune in online to watch the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee discuss these important pieces of legislation.
Member of Congress
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 38, the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” to enable those properly authorized to carry a concealed firearm in their state to also carry that concealed firearm in any state that offers concealed carry privileges. The measure reaffirms the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, while satisfying the concerns of many conservative Members of Congress that it could supersede or limit the Tenth Amendment rights of any state to permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07), who is among those conservatives who have that concern, supported the bill, and applauded its protections of both the Second and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution.
“Today in the House, we passed H.R. 38, the ‘Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,’ which I was glad to see address not only the reciprocity issue among states across the country, but also many of the Tenth Amendment considerations regarding the protection of states’ sovereignty. The Second and Tenth Amendments to our Constitution are both integral parts of our Republic, and any legislation addressing one should be mindful of the other. I have long had Tenth Amendment concerns about bills such as H.R. 38, but with the advocacy of Georgia's chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Chris Carr, for the bill as one that protects Georgia as a state and Georgians as citizens, I cast a yes vote on the consensus language in H.R. 38.”
Beyond the support of H.R. 38 on Capitol Hill, the measure has garnered broad support from state and local leaders across the country, including Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who joined 23 state attorneys general in urging Congress to approve the legislation passed by the House today and affirming that the new legislation would not infringe upon the State of Georgia’s right to govern themselves.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, 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.
1725 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.
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