As you all probably know, at the direction of President Obama, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a regulation this past May that would more than double the salary threshold used to determine overtime pay eligibility. In the weeks and months since, I’ve heard concerns from folks across the district and the state about the overtime rule’s potential negative impact, including workers who were worried about losing flexibility with their schedules or simply seeing their hours reduced, and employers concerned that taking such actions would be their only viable option in order to stay in business. In response to these concerns, House Republicans repeatedly called on the President to reconsider his overtime rule and passed legislation to delay its implementation, while also arguing that he lacked the authority to make such significant changes to our overtime laws without Congress’ approval.
Last Tuesday, a federal court agreed with House Republicans in a case brought by 21 states, including the State of Georgia, challenging the legality of President Obama’s overtime rule. According to the court, the DOL lacks the statutory authority to increase the overtime salary thresholds and mandate automatic increase going forward, among other things. As a result, the DOL can no longer implement or enforce the overtime rule, which was set to take effect on December 1st. While this isn’t likely to be the final word on the overtime rule, as I expect the DOL to appeal the court’s decision, my hope is that employers and employees alike can rest easy knowing that it will not be forced upon them just before the holidays.
This ruling is also another in a long-line of rebukes by the Federal courts against President Obama’s “go it alone” strategy of using the regulatory bureaucracy to implement policy that should rightly be considered in full and open debate by Congress. I know it’s tempting when your party is in the White House to simply bypass the normal legislative structure in favor of the faster regulatory route, but no matter who is in the White House – a Republican or a Democrat – Congress should always be the ultimate arbiter of what should and should not become the law of the land.
Two weeks ago, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce dove into the topic of self-driving cars. While you might think self-driving cars are the stuff of science fiction drama, you’d be wrong; the technology is already here, and I’d venture a guess that partially self-driving cars are going to be parked on your street and mine within the next few decades. In fact, you may have heard that earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a new non-binding regulatory framework to help guide the development and deployment of this potentially game-changing technology. This type of technology could one day greatly reduce accidents and congestion on our roadways by increasing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and I am encouraged that the Department of Transportation understands that heavy-handed federal regulation could hinder or even kill the kind of innovation that is being cultivated by states and manufacturers. There are still many questions that must be answered before we start seeing this technology on our roadways, including questions of privacy and safety, but I am encouraged that we are beginning to examine in detail the kinds of changes we could all be seeing on our roads in the future. I expect we will learn much more about this issue in the coming year.
On November 16th, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology held a hearing entitled “Federal Cyber Security After the OPM Data Breach: Have Agencies Learned Their Lesson?” The Chief Information Officers of the Department of Agriculture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Social Security Administration were called to examine each of the Agencies’ information security programs and management, including their compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act. I applaud the efforts of Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Subcommittee Chairman William Hurd (R-TX) to ensure we don’t repeat the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach which affected 22.1 million people. The Committee has been working with the Administration over the past few months to get better information from more than two dozen Federal agencies about security tests and information security audits. And the Committee highlighted why those tests and audits were so important in its report about the OPM data breach back in July.
If your family is anything like mine, part of your Thanksgiving dinner discussion probably touched on President-elect Trump and his proposed Cabinet and high-level appointments. As of today, Mr. Trump has chosen his Chief of Staff (Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus), National Security Advisor (former Defense Intelligence Agency Chairman Lt. General Michael Flynn), and Deputy National Security Advisor (former National Security Council advisor Ms. K.T. McFarland). And he has nominated for Senate confirmation his Attorney General (Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama), Education Secretary (Ms. Betsy DeVos from Michigan), United Nations Ambassador (Governor Nikki Haley from South Carolina), and CIA Director (Representative Mike Pompeo from Kansas). With this diverse group of appointees and nominees from both inside and outside the Washington Beltway – both public sector experts and private sector advocates – I believe that President-elect Trump is sending an important signal that all sectors of society and the economy need to work together. As President-elect Trump continues filling his Cabinet over the next few weeks, I look forward to learning more about his choices and supporting all those men and women who I know will work hard to retain America’s place as the greatest country in the world.
This week the House is expected to consider a critically important bill from the Financial Services Committee; H.R. 6392, the “Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act of 2016.” Since the adoption of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the government has been erroneously equating asset size and risk, instead of taking the time to understand the varying structures of small, mid-size, regional, and large financial institutions and evaluating financial institutions based on a more complex understanding of portfolio asset management. H.R. 6392 provides financial regulators with a better way to assess risk by eliminating the one-size-fits-all Dodd-Frank approach in favor of one that takes into account the health of asset portfolios.
The House will also debate this week a bill that has been years in the making – the 21st Century Cures Act. This measure passed the House over a year ago, and finally, after many months of negotiations with the Senate, we are moving forward with a final bill that will provide millions of dollars in funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for cancer research. There will always be disagreement among well-meaning Americans about the proper role of the federal government in spending taxpayer dollars – but I hope that you join me in supporting taxpayer dollar investment in life-saving health research.
Member of Congress
Last week the House approved two pieces of legislation that will be critical in holding Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, in check. H.R. 5711 will help prevent American financial institutions from aiding in the Iranian acquisition of commercial aircraft, and H.R. 6297 extends our authority to levy painful economic sanctions on Iran for another decade. We know Iran is committed to developing weapons that could imperil the survival of America and our allies, and these are two small steps we can take now to mitigate the threat. I look forward to working with President-elect Trump next year to go even further to protect America, Israel, and all nations committed to freedom and peace.
On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 5732, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act,” to address the ongoing atrocities being committed by the Assad regime and his supporters – namely Russia and Iran. Both individuals and organizations that provide the Syrian government with financial, material, or technological support will be subject to sanctions by the U.S. government. The bill also includes a provision to hold Syrian human rights abusers accountable for their crimes, and encourages a negotiated political settlement to bring this humanitarian crisis, which is now more than five years old, to a close. I am optimistic that this bill, paired with sanctions passed by our partners in Europe, will bring the parties back to the negotiating table to provide the Syrian people peace that they deserve.
You probably don’t realize it, but every few years, when a presidential administration is getting ready to move on and turn over the keys to the White House to another occupant – especially one of an opposing political party – the executive branch bureaucracy shifts into overdrive. Proposed regulations that have been too controversial to finalize, some that have been sitting around for years just waiting for their day in the sun, or even brand new rules that haven’t been properly vetted tend to get fast-tracked through the regulatory process and become new rules that Americans have to live by. And those rules have become voluminous. Tens of thousands of pages of regulations have already been adopted by this administration, and I know that they want to go further in the next month with more. American small businesses already have enough to deal with, our economy is already fighting to break out of its doldrums, and too many Americans are still looking for work for us to continue allowing the government’s regulatory structure to strangle innovation and economic growth. I’m so pleased that the House passed legislation, H.R. 5982, the “Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2016,” but even if the Senate can’t pass it and this President won’t sign it, I look forward to working with our new president and his administration next year to make our government work better for the American people.
Last week, the House took further action to crack down on telephone scams, which is an issue I hear about frequently from many of you as “spoof calls” are increasingly being used by bad actors to defraud Americans out of millions of dollars. The bill, H.R. 2669, the “Anti-Spoofing Act of 2015,” expands the Federal Communication Commission’s authority to enforce criminal fines and penalties against individuals outside the U.S. who alter caller identification information for the purpose of defrauding Americans. Since technological advancements now allow criminals to make “spoof calls” from sources other than traditional land lines, H.R. 2669 applies to text messages and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, which allow criminals to make fake calls from computers and tablets. With the 114th Congress quickly winding down, I hope you all will join me in pressing the Senate to act on this important piece of legislation before the end of this year.
It’s that time of year again, and Thanksgiving has arrived in full swing along with cool air and crisp leaves. This week, we welcome the season of gratitude and joy, which calls for the gathering of loved ones to reflect on our blessings and to give thanks. Americans from all over the world will make the trek home to be with family and friends, just as the pilgrims made the long journey to the New World.
History reveals that the pilgrims’ voyage was not easy, and we know that the harsh winter conditions had a devastating effect on them. However, as so many of us learned in school, and our kids still learn today, the Native Americans taught the pilgrims valuable skills to survive, and together, they reaped the benefits of a plentiful harvest and shared in its wealth. I am confident that as a nation - as Americans - we can do anything when we come together to uphold our American values and principles so that we can all share in the wealth our country has to offer.
I want to take this opportunity to join you in giving thanks for the blessing that it is to be an American. May God bless you, your family and our great nation, and may He especially bless the men and women serving our country overseas who cannot make it home to give thanks with their loved ones. As Americans, we are eternally grateful for them and their sacrifices.
Member of Congress
Last Friday, millions of Americans took part in Veterans Day ceremonies across the country, including right here in the Seventh District. The men and women who have taken it upon themselves to join our nation’s military and serve the county and the people who make it great should always be honored for their sacrifice and service.
2016 Veterans Day Salute at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial
It was a great privilege for me to join with our neighbors on Friday morning to celebrate that very sacrifice. Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties always do a fantastic job bringing our community together to show support and reverence for our veterans, and spending time at these events always opens my eyes and my heart to a deeper appreciation for all of America’s blessings—our veterans being chief among them.
The Seventh District has experts in just about every field and industry imaginable, and I make a constant effort to learn from our very best here at home and turn those lessons into public policy. Last week, for example, I visited with the men and women at Winton Machine, Nidec Elesys, ASC Construction Equipment, and more. They showed me around their operations and shared insight about how seemingly small decisions in Washington have big impacts here at home. While their products may range from small electronics to large industrial construction equipment, the challenges they face are often similar. Each business needs the certainty of a competitive tax code and a responsible regulatory climate. Navigating endless federal rules or trying to compete in a global economy while enduring the highest corporate tax rate in the world doesn’t just hurt business; it hurts American workers, consumers, and ultimately our economy as a whole.
Rep. Rob Woodall visits Winton Machine in Suwanee on November 10th
It’s no secret that in recent years we’ve seen federal regulations grow exponentially, and we are still in dire need of fundamental tax reform. But, the good news is that I believe we’ll have an opportunity to address both of these issues very soon and finally see a cooperative effort between Congress and the President. In the House, we’ve moved many of America’s priorities forward, only to be stymied by others in Washington. The American people voted for change last Tuesday, and they voted to end the road blocks to getting things done. Irrespective of how you voted, a new Congress and new Administration offers us an opportunity to usher America’s to-do list – including tax reform and ending ineffective regulation – across the finish line in an effort to grow jobs and family incomes.
For businesses all across the Seventh District and the entire country, those they employ, and those they serve, I’m grateful for our partnership and eager to get back to work. America’s best days are still ahead, and working together, we can achieve them.
On Thursday evening I hosted a great many of you for a telephone town hall meeting. It certainly was an exciting event, and all I can say to those of you who couldn’t take part, is that I hope you can do so in the future because you missed a tremendously important discussion about our nation’s future. I know how hard it is to take time out of your evening and to spend it with your neighbors and me talking about public policy, but we all know that our government works best when Americans like us take part in the process. As we look forward to the 115th Congress and the work that is yet to be done for America, I hope that you will share your good council with me. And remember, you can always visit my website at http://woodall.house.gov to see when you can join me for my next town hall meeting. Both a new Congress and a new White House are busy setting priorities for next year, and your input can move the needle.
I often tell my colleagues in Washington that I am most fulfilled and heartened about the future of America when I start my day with a school visit. Sometimes those are elementary or high schools, but last Friday, I had the great opportunity to start my day at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) visiting with students of various ages and at various stages of their lives. There were veterans, young people just out of high school, and adults going back to school after years in the workforce. What they all have in common, however, regardless of their political party, who they support for president, where they go to church, or what language they speak at home, is a desire to work together for a better America.
It has certainly been an emotional past few days – some of our friends and neighbors have been excited and some concerned about our new Presidential Administration – but the uniting factor in all of it is that every one of us is ready to put aside our temporary differences and work together to ensure that our nation works better than it has ever worked before. We are blessed as a nation that the peaceful transfer of power from one party to the other and from one President to another is a common value. I hope that we can all embrace that common value and move forward together with a renewed sense that our future is strong.
As we enter this “lame duck” session of Congress, we have a lot to accomplish. I have high hopes for a productive 2017, and we can get a lot done in the remaining days of 2016 to make that more likely.
First up this week is H.R. 5982, the “Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2016.” It seems that at the end of every Presidential administration, there is a rash of last-minute rules and regulations that are put in place by bureaucrats who have already packed-up their desks and are ready to walk out of the White House for good. This bill is designed specifically to strengthen Congress’ institutional authority over the legislative rulemaking process and ensure that we maintain proper oversight over these last-minute – “midnight” – rules.
After that, the House will move forward with another important piece of legislation to ensure that Iran doesn’t continue benefitting from American financial institutions or companies. H.R. 5711 prohibits the Secretary of the Treasury from authorizing transactions from U.S.-based financial institutions in connection with the export of commercial aircraft to Iran. It would also make permanent a prohibition on the direct and indirect financing by the Export-Import Bank to the government of Iran. Given Iran’s continued status as a state sponsor of terrorism and a haven for illegal money laundering, it is unconscionable that the Treasury Department is approving the sale of airplanes to Iran.
Member of Congress
(Lawrenceville, GA) - U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA 07) issued the following statement with regard to the U.S. House and Presidential election results.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to represent Georgia’s Seventh District in the next Congress, and I am anxious to get back to work,” said Rep. Woodall. “So often in the U.S. House, we have delivered results on America’s priorities only to by stymied by an intransigent White House. Those days of intransigence are over. America voted for change. America voted for accountability and transparency. Donald Trump ran with the promise of ending the status quo and rolling up his sleeves on day one to go to work for America. I have high expectations for all of the American priorities that we can accomplish together.”
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 many of you know, this coming Friday our nation will celebrate Veterans Day. This is a very important day for all of us to pause and reflect on the many sacrifices America’s veterans have made over the years to protect and preserve the hard-earned freedoms that we all enjoy today. You may have your own Veterans Day plans already, but if you’re looking for great opportunities to reflect on the service of our nation’s heroes with other members of our community, we have them across the Seventh District. In Forsyth, the City of Cumming will host its annual ceremony on Friday at 11:00am at Veterans Memorial Park. Also on Friday at 11:00am is the annual ceremony in Gwinnett County at the Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville. I have attended both of these events over the years, and I can assure you that both will make your family and the veterans in your life proud as they do a remarkable job of honoring and remembering America's heroes. I hope to see you there this Friday!
And more than just honoring our nation’s veterans with prayers and solemn remembrances, on Thursday, our community is working together to bring our veterans into contact with local job creators. Military veterans are highly trained, loyal individuals who are accustomed to hard work and coming together for the betterment of a team. These are the same values that our large and small business leaders are looking for every day. Some of our areas largest employers – Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, FedEx Ground, and various local and state law enforcement agencies – will be at Gwinnett Technical College for a Veterans Services Job Fair that is being hosted by Gwinnett Tech and the Georgia Department of Labor. I encourage you to read the Gwinnett Daily Post article below for more information about attending the job fair.
Amid all of our diversity here in the 7th District, we share a great many things. Among those is an enthusiasm for service to others. I recently had the honor of joining with the Hindu community in Lilburn at a Diwali celebration where thousands of men, women, and children from our community gathered to celebrate.
Diwali – also known as the Festival of Lights – is a celebration of light triumphing over darkness, and there is no better way to bring light to any situation than by serving a neighbor. We are blessed to live in such a vibrant community that embraces that shared principle, independent of any differences that exist between us. I love that about who we are, and I’m grateful to everyone for making it a reality.
Thank you to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir for inviting me to be a part of your celebration, and congratulations on your nine years as servant leaders in our community!
Rep. Woodall attends the Lilburn Diwali Festival
Fundamental tax reform has been a national conversation for my entire adult life, and it’s only because America instinctively understands that we can do so much better than our current tax code. I am tired of just talking about tax reform, and next year represents the best opportunity we’ve had in three decades to actually achieve a revamp of the tax code, which punishes workers, encourages evasion, and keeps opportunity out of the reach of so many American families. House Republicans have put forward a blueprint for tax reform that borrowed ideas from me and my colleagues—including the FairTax. Some of the ideas borrowed from the FairTax include dismantling the IRS, eliminating special interest tax breaks, repealing the death tax, moving to a consumption-based model, and simplifying compliance for families and businesses. I encourage you to take a look at this blueprint and imagine how it would impact your own family’s finances. The IRS, America’s most powerful government agency, should not treat every American like a criminal. We can rebuild our tax code to make sure that your government works for you—not the other way around—but I will need your help to make it happen.
This Thursday, November 10th, I will be hosting another Telephone Town Hall Meeting. Given what has been a largely contentious political climate this presidential election year, I want to take this opportunity for us to come together and talk about what our goals and priorities are for the remainder of the year and for the coming year as well.
Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, November 10th
7:00pm – 7:30pm
Dial-In Number: (877) 229-8493
Our 7th District community is filled with friends and neighbors who want to work for a better, stronger, and more prosperous America. I love that we worry less about who gets the credit for our good ideas and more about whether we are making a difference. Thank you for the honor of serving with you. I hope that you will be able to take some time out of your evening on Thursday to talk with me about our past successes and to share with me how we can best work together going forward.
Member of Congress
In 2007, then Senator Obama said of his health care plan: “the only thing that will change for you under this plan is that the amount of money you will spend on premiums will be less.” Most of us knew back then that his statement was too good to be true, and now, we have proof. On Tuesday, the Obama Administration announced that Obamacare health insurance premiums for 2017 would increase by 25 percent on average across the nation. In Georgia, expect an average increase of 32 percent. But that pales in comparison to what’s happening in Oklahoma, where average premiums are expected to increase by over 75 percent. What’s more, deductibles for individuals on the lowest tier plans will average more than $6,000 in 2017, and for families, deductibles will average more than $12,300. That means Americans who are already working hard to make ends meet, pay the mortgage, and feed their families are going to find it harder to afford their health care next year.
And the financial toll that increased premium costs will have on American families isn’t the end of the story. With higher premiums come higher taxpayer subsidies. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that more than 70 percent of individuals on the exchange are eligible for vast government subsidies. But that’s just a bandage on the wound. For millions of hard-working Americans, that means not only will they have to spend more money meeting their deductibles, but we’ll also have to deal with higher taxes and more debt in order to cover the costs of premium support. And there’s no guarantee that health costs will decrease any time soon. In fact, costs will likely continue to rise thanks to the influence of high cost therapies and very sick individuals who are now in the marketplace. When the top 5 percent of patients account for 49 percent of all health care expenditures, it’s clear to see that our current system simply isn’t a sustainable way forward.
The President’s health care plan is caught in a spiral of high costs and low expectations, but we can change that paradigm. In fact, House Republicans have already designed A Better Way to reform health care. I encourage you to take a look at this patient-centered alternative to Obamacare.
I had the great pleasure last Monday of attending a great town hall event that was jointly hosted by the Job Creators Network (JCN) and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce as part of the Bring Small Business Back (BSBB) tour. The JCN website captures one of our nation’s biggest economic problems – it says “too often, elected officials in Washington pass laws and regulations that create unnecessary hurdles for America’s small businesses and the jobs they create.” Luckily, the BSBB was created specifically to highlight those issues and to help business leaders come together to find solutions. And the great news is that we did talk about solutions.
Rep. Rob Woodall speaks with small business people during the Bring Small Businesses Back tour
Small businesses care about making our tax code fairer and simpler. They care about ensuring that our nation isn’t drowning in a pool of debt. They care about passing a real health care reform law that can control costs and increase coverage opportunities. They care about facilitating workable immigration and education reforms that will grow the pool of employees and small business owners in America. Our nation’s small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities, and I was proud to visit with so many of them and learn from them about how Washington can serve them better.
In order to maintain Georgia’s status as the economic capital of the South, we need top-notch multimodal transportation policy and clear lines of communication between federal, state, and local governments. That’s why I make it a priority, as the only Georgian on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to visit stakeholders in all corners of our state – including Savannah, Augusta, Atlanta, Columbus, Valdosta, Athens, and Dalton – to discuss transportation issues critical for our state with community leaders and to learn from their expertise. In the past year, the House has passed a major surface transportation law and the water resources development reauthorization, and there’s a lot to unpack in these two pieces of legislation. You can read in-depth summaries of the surface transportation bill and the water bill, but in short, these bills make sure that our ports continue to be among the best in the nation and that Georgians can get where they need to go as quickly and safely as possible. We can only succeed when leaders from all levels of government are working hand in hand to deliver the best possible products at the best possible price for taxpayers, and I’m committed to doing just that.
For millions of Americans, this time of year means one thing: open enrollment. Beginning tomorrow, open enrollment for Obamacare marketplace plans begins and runs through January 31st. If you’re eligible for Medicare, your open enrollment period began on October 15th and runs through December 7th. Nearly one-third of Medicare beneficiaries have chosen Medicare Advantage plans in the past, and this year, more Americans are expected to choose this option again.
I know how confusing open enrollment can be; from estimating your drug costs for next year to planning for elective surgeries or even planning for the unexpected, the choices can seem daunting. The good news is that there are myriad resources available online to help you make this important Medicare decision.
Member of Congress
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.
It’s been a productive week in Washington, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve made on some very important, common-ground issues. Earlier
As Co-Chair of the House Robotics Caucus, I’m fortunate to interact with some remarkably intelligent and innovative people from across the
After many months of negotiations with the Senate, today the House approved the final language for the 21st Century Cures Act, which will provide
Congratulations to Gwinnett Technical College for making the Military Times' Best for Vets list! Thank you for all you do in our community –
From employees losing hours or flexibility in their schedules to employers being unable to meet excessive regulation, the Obama Administration’s