President Trump took big steps last week to make our nation’s health care system work better for all Americans. As many of you know, the House was successful in its efforts earlier this year to bring relief to those Americans who were both forced into plans that they didn’t want and made promises that the government knew it couldn’t keep. The House bill also ensured that those Americans who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue to benefit. Unfortunately, the Senate was not successful in pushing a health care reform bill across the finish line. While there are clearly differences that must continue to be worked out in Congress, I commend the President’s actions to bring relief to Americans immediately.
President Trump’s Executive Order last week directs federal agencies to take actions to work towards providing lower cost options and bolstering competition in the individual health insurance marketplace. You might recall that earlier this year the House passed two bills aimed at achieving similar outcomes – H.R. 372 and H.R. 1101 – which pave the way for consumers to search for and purchase insurance policies across states lines. Unfortunately, bills like these have been largely overshadowed by the larger ACA repeal and replace debate and have not been acted on in the Senate. For that reason, I commend President Trump for moving forward with this Executive Order, which unlike previous administrations, was done in a responsible manner that doesn’t try to rewrite current law or side-step Congress, but instead directs our federal agencies to act promptly to bring much needed relief to the American people.
President Trump also announced his intent to follow both Congressional and Judicial intent by ending Obamacare’s unlawful payments to insurance companies. These illegal payments would have cost American taxpayers $7 billion by the end of 2017. Despite a federal court ruling just last year that found the Obama Administration was acting unconstitutionally, the Obama team appealed and the payments continued. While I have seen the media characterize President Trump’s decision to end these unconstitutional payments as an attempt to undermine the ACA, the law is the law. I would hope the one thing that we could all agree on—the media, the Congress, the people, and the President—is that we should follow the law; and if we don’t like the law, we should change it rather than ignore it.
President Obama went to extraordinary lengths to go around Congress—with immigration, with health care, with the EPA, and more—yet Congress and the Courts repeatedly rejected those unconstitutional overreaches. President Trump has decided to enforce the law as it is written and work with Congress to change the law where it needs to be improved. This isn’t a particularly novel idea—it comes directly from American Government 101—but it is a welcome change brought by the new Administration. I know that our partnership can bring a solution worthy of all Americans.
Last Wednesday morning, I was invited to talk about the path forward in Congress for the federal budget and tax reform on CPAN’s Washington Journal program. As you all know, I am a member of the House Budget Committee, and the full House just recently approved the FY18 budget resolution my committee colleagues and I crafted. The next step in the process is for the Senate to approve its FY18 budget resolution and then the House and Senate will meet in a conference committee to reconcile any differences. Once a unified FY18 budget resolution is agreed upon and approved by both chambers, the budget reconciliation process will be unlocked and Congress can begin work on advancing a tax reform bill crafted from the recently released Tax Reform Framework.
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While the process dictates that that the budget resolution and tax reform legislation move separately, I absolutely believe that we will not be successful in curbing budget deficits without successfully approving a pro-growth tax reform plan. In the few years that I’ve been entrusted with the voting card of the 7th District, we’ve been able to bring some fiscal discipline to Washington, and I’m proud of those budget successes we achieved together—like the annual discretionary spending caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. But it’s clearer to me now more than ever that we will not be able cut our way to prosperity. Stronger economic growth is a must if we are going to balance the federal budget. Stronger growth in America means more jobs for more American workers; it also means higher wages and more money in the pockets of American families. And with added growth comes additional federal revenues, and more revenue means smaller deficits and less debt. My expectation is the Senate will move this week on their FY18 budget resolution, and that will move us one step closer to getting a bite at pro-growth tax reform.
Last week the House and the White House worked together to pass a tremendously important package of disaster relief for those Americans who are still reeling from natural disasters – particularly the hurricanes, floods, and fires that have ravaged Texas, Florida, California, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. When Americans are in need, it’s remarkable how quickly every American wants to respond. From every corner of this nation, the spirit of giving is alive and well. Right now, firefighters are pouring in to California from as far away as South Carolina and New Mexico. And teams of firefighters from our friends in Canada and Australia have even made the long journey to help get the fires under control. And from Washington, D.C., the funding in this bill will go a long way to help restore devastated communities, put people back in their homes, and get our hard-working friends and neighbors back to work.
We’ve all seen the pictures of flooded streets and homes in Houston and Florida, of entire neighborhoods without power in Puerto Rico, and of communities in California burned to ash with only chimneys left standing. These pictures remind all of us how precious life is, how lucky we are to have family and friends to turn to in times of crisis, and how critically important it is for our government to step-in, step-up, and help Americans rebuild. I know that so many of you have already contributed time or money to helping our fellow Americans, but for those who haven’t, if you’d like to contribute, please think about making a donation to the charity of your choice that is assisting those affected by recent natural disasters. Every little bit helps!
For too long, one of the most poorly managed agencies in the federal government has been the Veterans Administration. And while the House has passed several pieces of legislation to address its problems, there is much more to be done. In fact, one of the most vital ways we are able address issues arising from the VA is through the bravery of whistleblowers like Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick. After reporting widespread patient abuse at the VA hospital in Tomah, Wisconsin, with patients being give prescription drugs at rates that were two and a half times higher than the national average, Dr. Kirkpatrick faced retaliation by his supervisors and was fired. Tragically, upon learning of his termination, Dr. Kirkpatrick committed suicide.
This case made it abundantly clear to Congress that something more must be done to protect whistleblowers, which is why I was pleased to support S. 585, the “Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017,” which passed both chambers without a single dissenting vote. This bill will provide additional protections for federal whistleblowers and set disciplinary measures for supervisors who have been found guilty of retaliatory measures. I believe President Trump will swiftly sign this bill into law, fulfilling a campaign promise to reform the VA and also protecting public servants who aim to make our federal agencies more accountable.
The United Nations (UN), designed as a conference for the world’s leaders to come together and tackle our common challenges with debate and democracy rather than bullets and bloodshed, is a noble concept. Unfortunately, the UN has in recent years failed to live up to its potential as a tool for global peace and justice, and in the absence of major structural reforms, is destined to go the way of the League of Nations.
In these increasingly dangerous and volatile times, it’s more important than ever that nations around the globe have a forum through which peaceful consensus can be forged and the tragic consequences of war can be avoided. That’s why I support President Trump’s recent decision to put the UN on notice by withdrawing from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO is a small part of the broader organization with a singular mission to promote education, science, and culture. Unfortunately, UNESCO recently took sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, siding with Palestine and attempting to delegitimize Israel. President Reagan also withdrew from UNESCO during the height of the Cold War for perceived bias toward the Soviet Union. The reforms that resulted from Reagan’s withdrawal were significant enough to persuade the United States to rejoin the group. Let’s hope this time the United Nations learns from its mistakes by implementing much-needed organizational reforms, and that these changes become a permanent part of a wiser, more useful United Nations.
Last week, President Trump made the very difficult decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. As you may know, as part of the deal, the President is required to certify every 90 days that Iran is meeting its obligations. This decertification is a clear indication that the President believes Iran has fallen short of its obligations and is engaging in activities that may require further sanctions. No American wants to go to war or see Iran achieve nuclear weapons capability, but I think we can all agree that the current deal should be stronger, and President Trump’s action gives Congress the opportunity to strengthen our laws by setting out specific conditions under which renewed sanctions on Iran could be imposed. The continued missile tests, known support by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard for international terror, and possible cooperation with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program are all reasons for Congress to take this decertification seriously and work together – across the aisle and with the White House – to ensure that Iran is punished for such aggressive actions.
It would be easy to take a lot of things for granted in our part of the world – but that’s never been our style. From top-notch schools, to a thriving local economy, to the abundant green space and community activities that recently caught the national eye of the folks at the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, we’ve grown accustom to excellence; and yet it’s that shared commitment that keeps us driving forward. You’ve all heard me say before how important it is for our voice in Washington to have the tangible results with proven models for success back here at home. It’s always true – no matter the topic – and here we have one more example. As Irby Brinson, a veteran to the industry as well as a member of the Commission recognizing our local leaders put it, “I’m just in awe of what you have here. The citizens should be very proud of what’s provided to them...” The secret to such quality is found in our understanding that it is in fact members of the community who are working so hard to give back to their neighbors and making us all better. That’s the tale of Forsyth County. Thank you all for making it such a wonderful place, and once again, congratulations!
Gwinnett County is home to so many amazing entrepreneurs and small businesses that I would not envy this task taken on each year by the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, but I very much appreciate the work they’re doing to bring attention to what these hardworking men and women do for our community. Each year the Gwinnett Chamber hosts the Small Business Summit and Pinnacle Small Business Award ceremony to highlight their efforts and thank them, and each year the stories of dreams becoming reality through the hard work and vision of our neighbors continue to inspire the next round of risk-taking job-creators. As goes small business, so goes the community, and that’s why it so important that Washington’s policies don’t hinder their success. Perhaps one of the most echoed concerns I hear from many of these business owners throughout the Seventh District is the need for a simplified tax code that allows them to invest more of their time, money, and resources into growing their business and hiring more of their neighbors rather than adhering to the existing convoluted, punitive system. The good news is that Congressional Republicans and the White House have a unified framework for tax reform, and we’re moving forward with our shared vision for a fair and simple tax code that empowers American families and job-creators. You can learn more about it here.
Member of Congress
Many of our friends and neighbors in the 7th District have felt the effects of wage stagnation, slow growth, and historically low labor participation. The fact of the matter is, whether you’re a business owner or just picking up a few things from the shop, you have witnessed firsthand our slow economic recovery from the Great Recession. What’s worse is that the Congressional Budget Office projects further deterioration of our fiscal state in the next ten years as the deficit will more than double. But there is good news.
Last week, the House passed the FY18 budget resolution, H.Con.Res 71, “Building a Better America.” As a Member of the House Budget Committee, I was able to support Chairman Diane Black (R-TN) in crafting our boldest step yet to address our nation’s pending fiscal crisis. In our plan, we will achieve $6.5 trillion in deficit reduction, bringing our budget to balance in ten years, while producing a $9 billion surplus. The adoption of this budget also means implementing reconciliation instructions that will allow authorizing committees to find a minimum of $203 billion in mandatory savings and reforms. Those same instructions will also unburden the Senate from requiring a supermajority to pass the most expansive deficit-neutral tax reform package we have seen in decades. I had the pleasure of managing the Rule that brought this resolution before the House, which gave me the opportunity to speak about the tremendous good this budget is poised to do.
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Last week, the former CEO of Atlanta-based Equifax appeared at public hearings before several House and Senate committees to answer questions about the recent hacking incident that potentially exposed the private information of over one hundred million Americans. As you may have seen, members on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns about the magnitude of the breach and the failure of Equifax to prevent it, especially after being informed of the very software vulnerability that hackers exploited to gain access to the consumer data. I absolutely agree with House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) that, when it comes to data security, “the status quo is failing consumers and leaving them extremely vulnerable.” We simply must demand more of companies like Equifax moving forward. To that end, I expect Congress to work in a bipartisan manner in the coming weeks to craft legislation that will, at minimum, require companies to meet certain data protection standards, and in the event of a breach, provide timely notification to affected customers.
As I noted above, one of the more exciting things about the FY2018 budget resolution is that it unlocks the reconciliation process, which will allow Congress to quickly advance tax reform legislation. And the faster we can get rid of our current tax code, the better!
We have not made significant changes to American tax policy since 1986 when President Ronald Reagan and Congress put the finishing touches on a tax overhaul package that made America a world leader when it came to tax competitiveness. Much has changed in our world in subsequent decades, and many of our international counterparts have caught up and passed us when it comes to tax policy. Currently, America ranks behind all but four nations on the Tax Foundation’s International Tax Competitiveness Index, which compares the corporate and individual tax policies of the 35 OECD nations.
The good news is that America is almost certain to shoot up that list in the coming months when Congress approves a tax reform bill modeled on the Tax Reform Framework recently released by the Trump Administration and congressional leaders. If you’ve had a chance to read through the proposal already, you probably noticed that it is built on the principles of simplicity, fairness, and economic growth, all of which I’ve been championing for years as the sponsor of H.R. 25, the “FairTax.” The Framework’s reforms are designed to deliver tax relief to middle-class families and job creators while making our tax system less complicated and burdensome. It also seeks to jump start our economy, which has been sputtering along in recent years, and realign the incentives built into our tax code so that more businesses will keep jobs and capital right here in America. I hear from business owners – large and small – every time I’m in the 7th District about how much they need fundamental tax reform. And I’m excited to be starting down the path to bringing it to them.
If you’ve not yet had an opportunity to review the Tax Reform Framework, I encourage you to take a few minutes to do so and then share your thoughts with me. I hope that you all are as excited as I am about the once-in-a-generation opportunity we have before us, and I look forward to working together to push tax reform across the finish line!
As a cosponsor of H.R. 36, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” I am extremely proud to share with you that last week Congress took the important step towards protecting the sanctity of life by passing this bill and sending it to the Senate. The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” will end the practice of abortions after 20 weeks, with narrow exceptions in instances of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is endangered. One of my primary goals as your representative has been to defend those that cannot defend themselves and ensure that each life is held sacred. Currently, the U.S. is one of only seven nations that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks, along with the likes of North Korea and China. I am hopeful that my colleagues in the Senate will pass the bill and send it to the President’s desk. The President applauded the House’s action this week in continuing to push needed pro-life protections and said he is deeply supportive of the bill, committing to sign H.R. 36 into law to end painful late-term abortions nationwide. While there is certainly more work to be done to protect life, this is an important positive step to address some of the inadequacies surrounding the issue of abortion.
If you want to get a good look at the kind of bipartisan, common-ground issues we’re moving forward in Washington, transportation and infrastructure is a great place to start. I have the pleasure of serving on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where day-in and day-out, my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and I work to craft solutions for the American people that leverage our partnership with local communities, states, and industry stakeholders. And call me biased, but there isn’t a place that does that better than the 7th District of Georgia. We did that with the FAST Act in 2015, we did it again last year with water resources reform legislation (WRRDA) that shored up state and local control of crucial resources, and we’re now on the verge of successfully reforming America’s aviation system with the “21st Century Aviation Innovation Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act.” Last week I spoke more on the House floor about this opportunity you and I have to do something big with this legislation. Those big things – the heavy lifts – aren’t always within our immediate grasp, but this is absolutely one of those times when it is.
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As Americans, we were the pioneers of air travel, and we remain the nation with the safest system in the world, but the fact of the matter is our own bureaucracy has limited our efficiency – especially in technologically dependent areas such as air traffic control. With the world’s busiest airport in our own backyard, efficiency is vital to ensuring that flight times are predictable, lines are short, and that the customer’s experience is as pleasant as it can be. By bringing private sector innovators, industry stakeholders, and government safety regulators together in a cooperative effort, the AIRR Act strikes the necessary balance of utilizing new technology and resources while maintaining our long-standing commitment to oversight and safety. The legislation has the support of those ranging from General Mattis and the Department of Defense, to multiple free-market organizations and scholars, and that’s no accident, it’s a direct result of a commitment to the appropriate balance throughout the process.
We don’t just want to reauthorize the FAA – though we certainly need to do that also. We want to reduce taxpayer costs, implement the aviation infrastructure required for a thriving economy in the 21st Century, and increase American competitiveness. The kinds of reforms found in the AIRR Act are being put to use around the globe with great success, and it’s time to reestablish American aviation leadership. Look for this bill to come to the House floor in the near future, and then please join me in urging the Senate to follow suit.
Lost in last week’s headlines was a step forward for community health programs and the health insurance needs of America’s most vulnerable children. The House Energy and Commerce Committee marked-up and passed two bills of great importance to our critical health care programs – H.R. 3921, “the HEALTHY KIDS Act” and H.R. 3922, the “CHAMPION Act.”
The “HEALTHY KIDS Act” would provide a five year funding extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance to 9 million kids across the country and more than 230,000 kids in Georgia. As many of you may have heard, CHIP’s authorization expired on October 1st, the good news is that states have funding to continue this program until the end of the year, and some even have funding well into 2018. As such, the committee has taken this opportunity to evaluate CHIP and recommend its reauthorization. Congress will certainly take swift action to reauthorize and extend these vital funds so that children across the country can continue to receive these valuable services and ensure that no state CHIP program experiences a lapse in funding. I know that we all share a common goal of working to make certain that our children are healthy, and I look forward to supporting a CHIP reauthorization and funding package as soon as it is brought to the floor for a vote.
In addition to CHIP, H.R. 3922, the “CHAMPION Act” would extend funding for Community Health Centers (CHCs) and address other important public health priorities. I believe that CHCs have always represented the best of our federal support for quality health care, which is why I added my name to H.R. 3770 earlier this month – a bill which would reauthorize funding for CHCs for five years. That said, while I continue to believe a five-year reauthorization would be the best solution, I am pleased that the “CHAMPION Act” would extend funding for two years at $3.6 billion a year.
Our district is fortunate to have outstanding CHCs that work to serve and provide health care services to our friends and neighbors. Even though CHCs are authorized by the federal fiscal year, funds flow on the mandatory spending side based on the calendar year. With a Continuing Resolution in place to ensure discretionary funds also continue, the community health center funding stream is guaranteed for months to come, and I am optimistic that Congress will soon reach an agreement to provide that certainty for years to come.
On Friday, we celebrated Manufacturing Day across America, and the stories of hard work, vision, and community impact were truly inspiring. Any time an individual or business commits themselves to hard work and excellence, it’s always nice to see them receive the recognition they deserve. One of those examples here at home is Okabashi in Buford. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re a footwear manufacturer that was recognized just last week by Georgia Trend Magazine for the great work they’re doing on many fronts. They also happen to have been recognized by the White House in July at a Made in America Certification Event. While their great work certainly includes making a quality product, it goes much farther than that. As I’ve seen first-hand when visiting their operation, this family-owned business is deeply committed to being good stewards of the resources available to them, and they strive to be a dedicated part of our community. To put that commitment into context, only two percent of footwear purchased in the United States is produced domestically – and Okabashi is a part of that small number. With a focus on sustainability, generally, each pair of sandals they manufacture includes 15-20 percent recycled material, and they also offer their customers the opportunity to recycle previously purchased products. These characteristics are representative of who they are as a company, and I’m grateful to them for leading by example. They don’t do these things because they have to, but rather because they choose to invest in the people and environment around them. That’s the Seventh District I know, and so once again, congratulations, and thanks for all you do!
This week the House is expected to consider and pass S. 585, the “Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.” The bill promotes good government, efficiency, and effectiveness by providing additional protections to Federal employees who are retaliated against for disclosing waste, fraud, or abuse in the Federal government. The American people need to have complete faith in their governmental entities, and this bill will go a long way to helping bolster that faith.
I also expect the House to pass a supplemental funding bill that will provide $29 billion in aid for additional hurricane relief for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our fellow Americans are still struggling in some cases to clean-up and rebuild from the deadly series of storms, and this package will help them do that faster.
Member of Congress
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.Con.Res 71 to establish the federal FY2018 budget, “Building a Better America,” and set forth discretionary spending levels that bring the budget to balance by 2027. The measure emphasizes spending reduction, government reform, returning decision-making authority to states and local communities, and pro-growth economic policies. Most notably, the reconciliation instructions call on all House authorizing committees to find a minimum of $203 billion in mandatory savings over the next 10 years and on the Ways and Means Committee to move forward with deficit neutral tax reform – a long-standing priority for U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07) who supported the House-approved budget.
“Any budget, whether at the federal level or within our households, is a roadmap – a vision – for accomplishing our priorities,” said Rep. Woodall. “The ‘Building A Better America’ budget does that, but just as importantly, it sets the ball in motion to deliver on a promise made to the American people: a simpler, fairer tax code. Congress and the White House are unified in our vision for reducing the tax burden on American families, and empowering entrepreneurs and job-creators, but the process requires what we did today, and I’m excited about moving forward.”
By directing the appropriate authorizing committees to proceed under budget reconciliation rules, the unified tax reform framework offered by Congress and the White House is in fact significantly closer to becoming law. Woodall has long-advocated for tax reform in the form of H.R. 25, the FairTax, and says his support for the framework presented by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and the White House is grounded in what he sees as the clear presence of shared FairTax principles: simplicity, fairness, and economic growth.
“It’s no secret I’m as big of a proponent for the FairTax that you’ll find, and what we see shaping up in committee is reflective of the impact FairTax proponents have had on the tax reform debate,” Woodall added. “I’m excited to be a part of the discussion and debate that’s coming, and ultimately will bring relief to American families.”
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.
For the 4th consecutive year, Georgia has been named as the #1 state for business, and I’m happy to say that Georgia is no stranger to being consistently ranked as a top state for business. Our large, diverse, and highly educated workforce, our sophisticated infrastructure that provides access to markets around the globe, and our pro-business tax structure and regulatory policies create the kind of environment that bring both major companies, like Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Porsche, and more, to our state, and encourages our homegrown companies, like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta, to stay in Georgia. In fact, seventeen Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Georgia, with over 450 Fortune 500 companies having a presence in the state. Now as large companies, like Amazon, search for a new home, it will be hard to turn down the warm welcome that Georgia offers.
With so many companies calling Georgia home, that means more opportunities and more jobs for Georgians. Whether it is in our booming tech industry, emerging film production, or every industry in between, each new company coming to Georgia results in more high-paying, quality jobs that continue to make Georgia such a wonderful place to raise a family, work, grow up, and thrive. This distinction is a direct result of the hard work of millions of Georgians across the state, and we are fortunate to live in such a prosperous state that supports that growth. I look forward to continuing to partner with the people of Georgia to push policies, including comprehensive tax reform, that encourage companies to stay in the U.S. and that make Georgia the #1 state in which to do business.
You and I have been discussing a variety of issues in detail in my telephone town hall series, and I’m grateful to each one of you for taking the time to participate. Last week we had the opportunity to talk about health care policy on Tuesday, as well as transportation and infrastructure policy on Thursday. As has been the case in each of these events, we had a guest speaker in the respective fields join the calls and offer their input and expertise on the topic, and I certainly hope you found it as helpful as I did. We heard from Sara Morse, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs with the Department of Health and Human Services, during our health care discussion, and we had the chance to get an update from Georgia’s own Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Russell McMurry as he talked about the progress being made here at home on a variety of projects.
As Georgians and residents of the Seventh District, we have an important story to tell, and the fact that we have tangible results to back it up makes our voice in Washington so much more effective – whatever the issue may be. The partnership we at the federal level have with Commissioner McMurry is an example for success not only in Washington and throughout Georgia, but across the country. When the I-85 bridge collapsed following a fire in March, Georgia’s leaders at every level immediately joined together to respond. I was actually with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao when the fire broke out, and saw in-person how quickly and decisively she acted to direct her team to provide Governor Deal, Commissioner McMurry, and the entire Georgia team with all the resources needed to begin the rebuilding process. From that point on, our Georgia leadership worked hand-in-hand with their federal counterparts to rebuild and re-open the bridge in just six weeks! This accomplishment not only showed what we here in Georgia are about, but it serves as a model for regulatory reform that prioritizes protecting taxpayer dollars and the environment while not hindering progress. Working together in this way builds trust and strengthens relationships in a way nothing else can, and that is absolutely invaluable as we craft solutions for the challenges we face.
If you weren’t able to participate in these events, please know I’ll be doing more, and 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. Thank you again for your continued partnership, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Last week, the House addressed several important needs with a single piece of legislation, H.R. 3823, the “Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017.” As the name suggests, the bill is designed to deliver targeted tax relief for Americans in Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico who recently found themselves in the path of damaging hurricanes. Among other things, the bill would create a temporary tax break to cushion the financial blow of uncompensated losses in disaster areas, permit penalty-free access to retirement accounts, and encourage Americans from across the nation to make charitable contributions to the recovery efforts. (To find out more about the tax changes in H.R. 3823, click here.) The bill was approved by the Senate shortly after it passed the House, and it has been signed by the President.
Separate from the disaster relief provisions, H.R. 3823 provides a six month reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will both ensure that the nation’s air traffic control program continues without interruption and gives Congress a bit more time to reach a consensus on a comprehensive, long-term FAA reauthorization bill. I look forward to continuing this important debate as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and hopefully approving a transformational new FAA bill that will bring our nation’s air traffic control system into the 21st Century.
Last week I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to express concerns about the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) new proposed rule for how home health agencies will be reimbursed. Not only did I hear from a number of home health agencies in and around our community who shared with me how this rule will negatively impact their business and the patients they serve, I also heard from a number of our neighbors in the Seventh District who believe their loved ones’ care could be compromised by this proposal.
Among the concerns brought to my attention was the fact that CMS did not collaboratively work with home health providers in a constructive manner to ensure that rule works in the best interest of patients, especially those in rural areas. You can count on me to continue supporting efforts to delay the rule so that CMS has adequate time to work in conjunction with providers to ensure that patients continue to have access to quality care in the comfort of their own homes. In addition, I look forward to working with our local providers and CMS to modify the proposal so that we can come to a better solution that saves money for taxpayers and provides needed home health services to those American who have earned their Medicare benefits.
During the presidential transition in January, it was reported that then-President Obama warned his successor that his most vexing challenge in office would be North Korea. There are no “good” realistic solutions to achieve peace with this rogue regime, as several presidents have come to learn, but we continue to bring all of America’s diplomatic tools to bear in hopes that war can be avoided. So far, we’ve approved new economic sanctions against North Korea, pressured China to do more to disrupt the flow of funds to their nuclear development programs, and rallied worldwide support of our efforts to set Kim Jong-Un’s regime on a more peaceful course. This week, the U.S. House unanimously added a powerful new tool to our diplomatic arsenal. H.R. 2061, the “North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017,” approves much-needed assistance to the oppressed people of North Korea. The lucky few who have escaped the grasp of Kim Jong-Un’s hermit kingdom have spoken forcefully about the power of outside information and tyranny of life inside the dictatorship. This legislation protects basic human rights and promotes freedom of information by providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and defectors as well as updating current federal law to reflect new technological capabilities available to us to disseminate more outside information among the citizen-hostages in this highly isolated part of the world. This measure now goes to the Senate for final passage.
The House also acted last week to provide a five-year reauthorization for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. As you all may know, MIECHV is a federal program that provides grant funding to states to assist at-risk pregnant women, children, and families. In Georgia, MIECHV efforts are led by the Department of Public Health, and the agency works to improve child and family outcomes through several evidenced-based home visiting programs, including Early Head Start-Home Visiting, Healthy Families in Georgia, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers. I was pleased to support the five-year MIECHV reauthorization and Georgia’s efforts to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our state, and I hope to see the Senate advance this important bill very soon.
Along with the MIECHV reauthorization, the House moved legislation to ensure taxpayer dollars are not being collected by folks who have outstanding felony warrants. As you all may recall, under the 1996 welfare reform law, which was signed by former President Bill Clinton, fugitive felons were made ineligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits. However, since the 1990s, the law, and the Social Security Administration’s enforcement of it, has been the subject of a few court cases which ultimately limited the policy’s application and impact. The bill passed in the House this week, H.R. 2792, the “Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons Act of 2017,” seeks to restore the original intent of the 1996 welfare reform law, and I was pleased to support it.
Part of what makes our community such a great place to live is the way in which we invest in our young people. That starts with education, and no place does it better than we do. Now some might say I’m biased, but the fact of the matter is that time and again, our educators and students earn the recognition they receive. The most recent round of accolades includes a Gwinnett County class of 2017 that has posted SAT scores 24 points higher than the national average and a Forsyth County system that includes three of the six Georgia public schools earning the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award! If you’re not familiar with the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, it honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. These achievements matter not because they make us proud of our community – though they absolutely do – but because they represent a younger generation that is being equipped with the skills and education needed to be successful. That success isn’t the result of a federal mandate or one-size-fits-all approach from Washington, it’s indicative of our local educators’ commitment to our hard-working, intelligent young people. Whether we’re talking about transportation policy, education, or one of a number of issues, our track record is one of action and record-setting results. Congratulations and keep up the great work!
This week the House is going to pass the FY18 Budget. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I’m so pleased that my committee’s work product will finally get a debate on the House floor. And if you’d like to watch that debate, I hope that you will tune in to CSPAN on Wednesday at 12:30PM, where I will kick-off the many hours of debate on this critically important measure. The bill, “Building A Better America,” balances the federal budget within 10 years, promotes economic growth, improves the sustainability of Medicare, ensures a strong national defense, and achieves $6.5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. This budget is something to be proud of, and I am going to be very happy to cast my vote in favor of it this week.
In addition, the House will also consider H.R. 36, the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” This bill would prohibit the performance of an abortion if the baby is at least 20 weeks old, and it includes general exceptions for cases of rape, incest involving a minor, or if the life of the mother is in jeopardy. I know that issue of abortion elicits strong feelings; feelings that are often times tied to a deeply held religious or moral belief. And because of that, I realize that most feelings on this issue are crystalized and have been for decades. Please know that while I am unapologetically pro-life and will do all that I can to support pro-life policies, I hope that we can have a discussion about abortion that is fair-minded and respectful. The children and the mothers deserve nothing less.
Member of Congress
I push hard in Washington for legislation that preserves the ability of our state and local education leaders to decide what’s best for our students. Congress passed and the President signed legislation to ensure exactly that. I visit Gwinnett and Forsyth schools at all grade levels to see local leadership in action, preparing our young men and women to meet tomorrow’s challenges. I am incredibly encouraged by what I see. Last week, for example, I had the pleasure of visiting South Forsyth Middle School and spent time with the teachers, students, and administrators to see how they are working together innovate and drive educational outcomes. From the introduction of new technologies to exposure to career pathway programs—offering students an opportunity to explore specific career paths like health care or criminal justice while still in middle school—I saw our student leaders learning and engaging in ways that my generation never dreamed of. Visits like these to see first-hand the dynamism of our individual schools confirm for me that our students are best served every day by local leadership and local control. I look forward to sharing with my colleagues in D.C. the great work being done at South Forsyth Middle School and across our district in hopes that their districts can benefit from our cooperative model.
The best part of my job is being able to travel around our district, meet with local business and community leaders, and translate what I learn from their experience into policy in Washington. This kind of partnership makes me a better representative and produces tangible benefits here in the Seventh District.
During part of last week, one of my colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Representative Drew Ferguson, and I traveled across Georgia to learn from transportation leaders in different regions. Drew and I represent different parts of the State, but Georgia’s infrastructure needs often cross congressional boundaries. Many of our neighbors either commute to different places around the state for work or rely on the infrastructure in other regions to deliver the goods and services that we need here in our community. With stops in Rome, Duluth, Gainesville, Augusta, and Macon, we are working together to ensure that Georgia’s needs are met.
Representatives Woodall and Fergusson meet with members of the GeorgiaTransportation Alliance on September 18th
As we traveled, one of the most common questions we heard was, “how can we as a community and as a state put ourselves in a position to benefit from the upcoming infrastructure package President Trump is proposing?” What we have done over the past several years to distinguish ourselves from our neighbors – from investing more of our local funds into priority projects to shocking the nation with how well we recovered from the I-85 bridge collapse – has caught the attention and the imagination of both President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. I am going to ensure that this sort of leadership is rewarded and incentivized by our federal partners, and as Congress begins to fill in the details for the President’s infrastructure package, I commit to you that the conversations you and I have will absolutely make a difference on the kinds of tools and resources our state will have to continue building our 21st century infrastructure.
The 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly convened last week in New York. The General Assembly allows all 193 members of the U.N. a venue to address the entire world, and President Trump took this opportunity to present a clear declaration of his vision for U.S. foreign policy going forward and a call for renewed American leadership on the global stage. Changing course from previous administrations, the President called for a serious reassessment of the relationship between the U.S. and U.N. While many thought that reassessment would mean discarding the U.N. completely, President Trump instead called for cooperation from the diverse members of the General Assembly to significantly reform the U.N. to create a more efficient body that actually solves the issues pressing our international community, a body with more equitable contributions from member nations, and one that respects the sovereignty of each nation.
The President emphasized empowering all nations to be successful to create a community of strong, sovereign nations that lifts one another up to “new heights,” including renewed support for human rights and democratic institutions around the world. That includes removing the hypocrisy of having authoritarian nations as members of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and most importantly, uniting to denounce rogue regimes. Together the U.N. member states must address the rogue nations that threaten to disrupt the peace we so desire. We cannot continue to allow Iran and North Korea to continue their dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons. We cannot continue to stand for the human rights abuses and suppression of democracy that occurs in Venezuela and Cuba. We cannot allow countries to violate the sovereignty of their neighbors, particularly Russia in Ukraine and China in the South China Sea. We must not be afraid to call out these irresponsible actions.
Just days later, the Trump Administration announced further sanctions on North Korea. Leveraging the power of the United States economy and the dominance of our financial institutions, this new round of sanctions will force foreign financial institutions to choose between doing business with U.S. or doing business with North Korea. As our relations with North Korea have become increasingly strained, it is important to aggressively confront their nuclear ambitions before they become a pressing threat to the U.S. and our allies. With each new administration we have the opportunity to reexamine our relations with the rest of the world, and I’m glad to see the Trump Administration continuing America’s leadership role in the international community. These are common sense calls to action that will not only benefit the United States by renewing principled American leadership in the world, but will benefit all nations by calling on our global community to act together to solve our common issues.
Congress often works to cut budgets and spend less money. Just as often, though, Congress works to get more value out of the same amount of money. This is what Congress and states are seeking to do today through federal Medicaid waivers. The major health reform bills in Congress today are trying to make this flexibility obligatory and permanent, but even today temporary flexibility is permissive and available, and Georgia is working to take full advantage of it on behalf of Georgia’s citizens. A good example of this effort is Georgia’s Section 1115 waiver which was designed to reduce the number of low birth weight (LBW) babies in the state—Georgia ranks 46th in the nation in this category. This waiver is allowing Georgia to come up with innovative ways to raise that ranking.
While the media sometimes portrays waivers as an effort by states to do less for its citizens, support for these waivers is strongest from those who work hardest to serve Georgia’s underserved. Last week, for example, I sat down with executives from Mercy Care, a primary care provider to homeless individuals in the Atlanta area and one of Georgia’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). You and I support Mercy Care and those that they serve through our support of FQHC funding. Mercy Care shared with me both its optimism and concern on a variety of topics including FQHC funding, the Graham-Cassidy bill making its way through the Senate, and the Medicaid waiver, Section 1115 of the Affordable Care Act which allows states to request permission from the federal government to “test new or existing ways to deliver and pay for health care services in Medicaid”—meaning, if approved, a state could take an innovative approach to delivering health care services to their citizens that would not ordinarily be allowed under federal rules. Like Mercy Care and many others, I absolutely support Section 1115 and giving states more flexibility to innovate and meet the health care needs of its citizens.
For those wondering how the Medicaid reforms in the Senate’s Graham-Cassidy bill would impact Medicaid, somewhat like the House bill it would convert Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement program that imposes strict requirements on states to a per capita system that sends states a lump sum of federal dollars based on the number of individuals in the Medicaid program. This bipartisan idea was championed by former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and it would guarantee that states would have more freedom and flexibility under the new system to decide how to spend those dollars—meaning states like Georgia wouldn’t have to go calling on Washington for permission to implement innovate and much needed health care programs or services.
While it has been more than a week since Tropical Storm Irma affected our community, the work to repair and rebuild what was damaged continues. In both Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, many were affected by this storm in one way or another, and over the past week, officials from local, state, and federal agencies have been working with the community to assess the damage. Whether government officials, first-responders, or local residents, the partnership has been what we’ve come to expect here at home: remarkably cooperative. From FEMA and GEMA representatives deploying to the region to move the recovery process forward, to volunteers cleaning debris from Lake Lanier, and on and on, we’re working together to make our home a better place. Thank you all for what you do to make that a reality.
Beyond just helping those around us, many of you have already helped our neighbors to the west and those to the south who have been devastated by Hurricane Irma, and moving forward I hope we’ll all keep those near and far away in our thoughts and prayers, helping them when we are able. Sadly, now Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and those throughout the Caribbean are weathering the effects of Hurricane Maria, which has proven to be even more damaging in many areas than Irma. As a reminder, there are many ways to help, but it’s important to be careful in selecting those you support. If you would like to learn more about available resources, please visit my website, and as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.
This Tuesday and Thursday, I will be hosting two more town hall meetings to discuss issues of health care and infrastructure. I hope you’ve been able to take part in my two previous town hall meetings this month, and that you can time to do so again. But even if you’re missed those meetings, I encourage you to add your voice now.
This week, the House is going to pass two important pieces of legislation: H.R. 2824, the “Increasing Opportunity Through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act,” and H.R. 2792, the “Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons Act of 2017.” The first bill extends funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which is a bipartisan home visitation program that uses evidence-based solutions to help low-income children and families escape the cycle of poverty that too many families have been trapped in for generations. To pay for the extension of this program, H.R. 2792 improves Supplemental Security Income program integrity by prohibiting individuals with an outstanding arrest warrant for a felony or a parole violation from receiving SSI benefits. Ensuring that struggling families are given an opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and onto a higher rung on the ladder of economic success by limiting the ability of criminals to receive government benefits is an entirely appropriate way of paying for the programs that we want to prioritize. I look forward to supporting these bills, and I hope that they will receive broad bipartisan support.
I also expect that we will continue to hear about the Senate’s possible consideration of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. The Senate is still working hard on coming to an agreement on a way to reform and replace parts of Obamacare, and I look forward to a successful that will give more Americans access to affordable health insurance, empower states to take the lead in designing more effective Medicaid programs, and put patients in charge of their health care.
Member of Congress
Lawrenceville, GA – This week, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall, the senior Georgia member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, participated in a roundtable discussion with the Georgia Transportation Alliance and members of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce to highlight transportation priorities for the state and region. Rep. Woodall was joined by fellow Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA 03), and the two provided legislative updates, as well as answered questions from those in attendance.
“When we talk in Washington about the importance of keeping both dollars and decision-making at the local level, our voice is made stronger by the fact that we have proven success here at home – and that’s because of people like those in this room,” said Woodall. “From Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nash, to those leading the robust partnership at the Georgia Transportation Alliance, to our local business community, there is a credibility in our part of the world that makes those in Washington on both sides of the aisle pay attention.”
With transportation and infrastructure being at the top of the priority list for many in Gwinnett County and throughout metro Atlanta, discussion topics ranged from ensuring the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, protecting crucial water resources, to incorporating adequate public transportation for the region moving forward. Referencing recent legislative accomplishments in Washington, Woodall expressed the importance of a Georgia Delegation that is remarkably united on this issue irrespective of differences on other policies.
“Whether it’s the transformative long-term surface transportation bill (FAST Act) being signed into law in 2015, or the water resources reform bill (WRRDA) in 2016, we’re able to move not just our respective districts, but the entire state’s interests forward with major legislation,” Woodall continued. “When our delegation speaks with a unified voice, it makes us incredibly effective – whether on issues of water or surface transportation, and the list goes on and on.”
Next on that list for Congress in coming weeks is reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the “21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 2997)” moves closer to the finish line. With significant reforms that would inject new innovation and technology into America’s Air Traffic Control system, as well as prioritize passenger experience improvements, H.R. 2997 is seen by many as a vehicle to shorter lines and fewer delayed flights at the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s own Hartsfield-Jackson International.
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.
Recent weeks in Washington have seen a lot of activity, but we’ve made great progress on many fronts, and I’m grateful to all of you who took time from your own busy schedules to join me for last week’s town hall meetings discussing some of these developments. We’re currently in the middle of our series in which we focus on targeted issues while hearing from guest speakers who just happen to be some of the most respected minds in their respective fields. For those who weren’t able to participate last week, we discussed national security and foreign affairs, and were fortunate enough to be joined by General Thomas Spoehr from the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation, and Dr. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). I’d like to again thank these gentlemen for sharing their time and expertise with us. I sure found it helpful, and I hope you did as well.
If you weren’t able to participate in either of these events, though, I’m happy to tell you that we have two more coming up on September 26th and 28th at 7PM where we’ll focus on healthcare and infrastructure. You can find all you need to call in here, and of course there is an abundance of information on my website at all times, ranging from news on recent votes and legislation, to casework services, to details on upcoming events. Thank you again for your continued partnership, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
For the first time this decade, the House passed an entire Fiscal Year 2018 spending package on schedule last week. The package, H.R. 3354, the “Make America Secure And Prosperous Appropriations Act,” is a work product of which the American people can be proud. This measure keeps America safe, begins to rebuild our military, spends taxpayer dollars responsibly, protects life, and limits the reach of government. While you can read all about this legislation here, I want to share a few highlights. Among other things, this bill:
This legislation was crafted with input from all sides of the ideological spectrum. And after thousands of amendments were considered in committee, we voted on over 450 amendments more on the House floor, representing ideas from all sides of the political spectrum and both sides of the political aisle. We debated all 12 appropriations bills for months in the Appropriations Committee and for almost a full week on the House floor. This was a robust and fruitful debate, and I’m so proud of the work that every member of Congress has done to advance our constitutional duty to fund the federal government. While this is the first time this decade that the House has completed this job on time, if the Senate can join us, it will be the first time in more than 20 years that has happened. Each day, Congress is striving to do better and keep the promises made to the American people.
Last Thursday, my colleagues shared with the House horror stories of street gangs – many of which have members who are in this country illegally – terrorizing their districts and leaving their constituents fearing for their lives. President Trump drew attention to this crisis on his recent trip to New York where he spoke to local police officers about cracking down on criminal gangs like MS-13. However, while law enforcement officials currently do track these individuals, they are forced to wait until these gang members commit a crime to deport them from the United States. Thankfully, Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA) has sought to remedy this deficit in our current immigration law by introducing H.R. 3697, the “Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act.” This bill would allow U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to put undocumented aliens through removal proceedings if they are affiliated with a criminal gang. The bill also ensures that current and former gang affiliates are not offered asylum nor protected status, and are permanently inadmissible to the United States. I was proud to support this bill on the House floor, and I am hopeful the Senate will send it to the President’s desk soon so that we can restore law and order to our communities.
As many of you may already know, an improvised explosive device was detonated on a crowded commuter train in London during the morning rush hour. This heinous and cowardly act left dozens injured as they made their way to work. It is clear that we must continue to be diligent in our pursuit of these terrorists and collaborate with our allies so that we can prevent future attacks. Last week, the House took steps to bolster our current operations by passing a series of bills that aim to improve our readiness and enhance our information sharing capabilities. Building our defenses against terrorists and strengthening our homeland security are areas that generally share wide consensus in Congress, and I am pleased with the members of Homeland Security Committee for drafting such vital pieces of legislation that will further develop our ability to thwart terrorist attacks and help our friends abroad.
A few months ago, when the Senate was unable to come to an agreement on an Obamacare replacement bill, many people thought that the effort to help Americans struggling under the weight of Obamacare’s regulations and costs was over. But the good news is that Republican senators have not given up the fight. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Dean Heller (R-NV) have been working hard to develop another health care proposal that can help Americans regain control of their health care decisions. And this coming week, the Senate is expected to discuss this measure and others.
It would be easy for the Senate to simply move on to other things and ignore the necessity to act on Obamacare. But I’m proud of my Senate colleagues for sticking in the fight and working for the American people. Nobody can craft a perfect bill to repeal and replace Obamacare all at once – we all know that – but we have to persevere. Millions of Americans are counting on us, and I know that we can work together and deliver for them.
There is little doubt that the uncertainty created by DACA is a symptom of a broken immigration system, a system that challenges those who want to come here legally to contribute to the American dream and rewards those who break the law. If you wanted to bring your adult child from Mexico to the U.S. today, you would have needed to file in April 1995 for his or her visa number to be called this month. If you wanted to bring your adult sister or brother from the Phillippines, you would have needed to file in June 1994 for their visa number to be called up this month. These are just two examples, but there are many many more for countries all over the world. No family wants to suffer the anxiety of being separated for years on end while waiting through the legal process that is filled with confusion and uncertainty.
Fortunately, we now have the incredible opportunity to have this discussion, find consensus, and cure what has put us in this situation of uncertainty and find certainty for those who have been failed by the system. Since President Trump's announcement that he would like to sign a permanent solution within the next six months, the President and Congress have come together to find common ground. I’m encouraged by the President’s leadership and willingness to find solutions and consensus on both sides of the aisle on the serious issues our country has long contended with, and I hope that my colleagues feel the same. We clearly have many differences to reconcile, but it is important that we have those debates because for far too long we have faced deadlock and inaction in the face of disagreement. What we all can agree on is that we must do better. We are both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. I am optimistic that Congress and the President will find a path that celebrates both. We in the 7th District will be deeply involved in that discussion.
My colleagues and I have heard from many folks over the years who have expressed concern about the potential risks associated with having their Social Security Numbers (SSNs) displayed on their Medicare card, and I could not agree more that we should be taking steps to reduce the vulnerability of our senior citizens, not putting them in harm’s way by no fault of their own. That said, Congress listened and took swift action to remedy the issue by passing into law the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) in the last Congress, which directs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to remove SSNs from all Medicare cards to help combat identity theft and safeguard taxpayer dollars. The good news is that CMS announced just last week that Medicare beneficiaries can expect to receive their new cards as early as April 2018.
A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status. You can learn more about the new Medicare cards and what to expect by clicking here, and if you have further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call my office at 770-232-3005 to speak with a member of my staff. Protecting the personally identifiable information of all Americans should be common-sense, and you can count on me to continue finding ways to make the government work in the best interest of the people it serves.
North Korea has been one of America’s greatest foreign policy challenges over the past several Administrations. Unfortunately, the failure of past Administrations to effectively extinguish North Korean nuclear ambitions has allowed the rogue regime to evolve from a foreign policy challenge to an existential threat to many of our allies around the world—and soon to the United States itself. The most recent missile launch over Japan marked the second time in two weeks that North Korea directly threatened our ally in the Pacific and further stoked fears among nations around the globe that they could be next. This is exactly why President Trump and Congress has taken such bold steps to confront North Korea and warn them to settle down and begin down a new, more peaceful path before it’s too late. Congress enacted a very tough package of sanctions that has led China’s biggest banks to stop accepting North Korean money, and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley successfully recruited China and Russia to support the strongest sanctions ever placed on North Korea by the UN Security Council. As the Administration has made clear, the United States is never looking for war and is not pursuing regime change in North Korea. We are however pursuing an end to the barrage of apocalyptic threats coming from this troubled state and will do what is necessary to protect ourselves and our closest allies.
This week (in fact, hopefully tonight) the Senate will debate, and is expected to approve, the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). You’ll remember that the House spent almost a week on this bill earlier this summer, and I’m pleased that the Senate is taking up the bill and working to make it even better. Providing our nation’s troops with the tools they need to get the job done and specifically outlining the tactics and strategies that they will use to keep us safe here at home and keep our allies safe abroad are critically important. There are enemies abroad who would wish to destroy our American way of life and prove that democracy and freedom aren’t the bedrocks of good governance. We know better, and we rely on our military to ensure that our enemies will never win. I wish my Senate colleagues good luck, and I look forward to meeting with them in Conference Committee soon to bring a final version of the 2018 NDAA to the President’s desk.
Member of Congress
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 3354, the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act,” to fund the federal government through FY2018. After considering more than 450 amendments to the bill, the House passed the legislation, finishing the annual government funding process before the end of the fiscal year for the first time this decade. Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall led the debate to consider the measure, and lauded its final passage.
“For the past two weeks on the House floor we’ve debated amendment after amendment – literally hundreds, we’ve carefully made our way through each of America’s appropriations bills, and I am extremely pleased with the end result,” said Woodall. “We hear a great deal about what’s not getting done in Washington, but the product approved by the House today is a great example of the difficult work that is being done together.”
In remarks from the House floor during debate of the measure, Woodall stated, “This annual appropriations process has been conducted in a more comprehensive fashion this year than in any year in my memory. This year, the Appropriations Committee, beginning its work way back in April, has worked through every single appropriations bill – one by one at the committee level – and we’re seeing the culmination of that effort here on the floor today. Mr. Speaker, it’s been since FY2010 that the House has finished its work before the September 30 fiscal year end. It’s hard to get this done, and it happens because the collaboration that we have is successful.”
Watch the remainder of Rep. Woodall’s remarks below:
Video of Rep. Woodall discussing House FY2018 Appropriations Legislation
If the Senate can follow suit, this year will represent the first time since 1997 that the Congress has fully funded the government before the end of the fiscal year. Not only can this year’s process accomplish that, it has done so in an open and transparent way that included thousands of Member amendment requests submitted to the Appropriations Committee. This success is one part of a growing pattern, often guided by Woodall, to reestablish regular order absent in recent years.
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.
Though it has been 16 years, the events of September 11, 2001, remain a painful reminder of why we must always be vigilant against those who would do us harm. I remember clearly where I was and what I was doing on that crisp morning – and I remember how quickly things changed that day. Terrorism was brought to our doorstep and, tragically, took the lives of thousands of Americans. It did not, however, inspire fear in the American people. Quite the opposite. As clearly as I remember the devastation of the attacks, I remember the American patriotism, resolve, kindness, and heroism that defined the hours, days, and weeks that followed. Those have always been the most American of traits. We come together in times of tragedy and need, and we help one another to overcome it.
Today, we pause to remember those we lost on that day and those we have lost in the years since in the defense of freedom. America – and the freedom for which it stands – was attacked, but as has been our way throughout our history, we stand together even stronger as a result.
With Hurricane Irma already bearing down on southern parts of Georgia, we’ve seen the severity of this storm, and I urge everyone to heed the guidance of Governor Deal and all our local leaders as it approaches metro Atlanta and the Seventh District. Prioritizing your safety should of course take precedence, but as the storm passes, there may be many of our neighbors who need our help. If you’re interested in pursuing some of these options and resources to contribute, please visit my website to learn more.
After a difficult and tragic week for folks in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, Congress last week approved a much needed disaster relief funding package. The House kicked off the efforts early in the week by approving legislation that included funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is the federal agency primarily responsible for coordinating government-wide disaster relief efforts. The Senate, working with President Trump, amended the House-passed bill to include additional disaster relief funding and an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program—both of which will be helpful to folks in Texas who were impacted by Harvey and many more Americans who are being impacted by Hurricane Irma at this very moment.
President Trump requested, and Congressional leaders agreed, to use H.R. 601 as the legislative vehicle to deal with two other important, rapidly approaching deadlines: the new fiscal year and the debt limit. While I would have preferred taking these issues up one-by-one, and the House was working to do just that, I voted to support the President’s larger agreement.
As you may remember, the House approved a national security appropriations package consisting of five of the twelve annual appropriations bills at the end of July, and our goal at the time was to move the remaining bills before the end of September. I’m pleased to report that we are very close to delivering on that promise after spending much of last week debating and voting on most of the 342 amendments that were offered for H.R. 3354, the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018.” Though the House had originally planned to wrap up the remaining amendments and approve the final version of the bill last week, we stopped on Friday morning to consider the disaster relief package I mentioned above. My expectation is that, by early this week, the House will finish work on the remaining amendments, approve the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Act,” and send it to the Senate for further consideration. If we and they are successful in this effort, it would mark the first time since 1997 that Congress funded the entire federal government before the end of the fiscal year. I look forward to getting it done!
Rep. Woodall manages debate on House Appropriations legislation
One of the many amendments considered and approved by the House last week was one I authored on behalf of not only those of us here in the Seventh District but those all across the State of Georgia. As we considered the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill, it contained an $800 million rescission of unobligated contract authority in the Highway Trust Fund, and there was language mandating a uniform way in which states must fulfill the rescission. As we’ve seen here in Georgia – perhaps most recently with the success of rebuilding the I-85 bridge in record time – our local leaders are tremendously capable and certainly know Georgia’s needs better than Washington does. That principle will be as true for any other state as it is for Georgia, and each should have the ability to determine their own priorities. When it comes to deciding which transportation projects will move forward here at home, I want to ensure our local leaders have the flexibility to make the best determinations for our community, and my amendment helps to get us there. Having passed this amendment through the House, I will now turn my attention to encouraging the Senate to do the same.
After much discussion and debate, President Trump announced that his Administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As you may know, DACA was created by President Obama as an amnesty program for children who were brought to the United States illegally. Under DACA, these individuals could receive work permits and temporary legal status in the U.S. under the theory that they had no choice regarding their illegal entry into the U.S. and shouldn’t be punished for the choices of their parents. While President Trump’s action does not change anyone’s current status, it does stop further expansion of the DACA program.
President Trump echoed the position that I have taken for years: Presidents can’t write laws; only Congress can. Immigration reform is a subject for Congress to tackle so that every individual in America has the certainty of the law as their guide. President Obama’s DACA program was only ever going to be a temporary step that ignores a permanent problem – what to do with individuals who were minors when their parents brought them into this country and/or kept them here without a visa. DACA was the subject of ongoing legal challenges by states and localities, and while touted by its supporters as a “fix” has always placed its recipients in legal limbo; something that would have been unlikely had President Obama worked with Congress to change the law instead of working outside Congress through executive orders and directives.
President Trump has made it a point to target the violent offenders who are in this country illegally. He has also made it a point to observe the amazing talent, generosity, and ingenuity of many of the DACA recipients. He is encouraging Congress—and I agree—to look at ways to continue to ensure that every bad apple is located and apprehended while developing new ideas about how to tap into the talent and entrepreneurism of those children brought to America years ago. Make America Great has long been President Trump’s mantra, and he is committed to working with any one—young or old, near or far—who will commit to working with him to achieve that goal. Our community has a host of outstanding young people who fit that description! Working out the details will be hard, and I would expect controversial, but I am committed to working with the President to get it all done: visas, border security, interior enforcement, and more.
Rep. Woodall speaks on the President's decision to end DACA
The surest way to impede exciting, new, and innovative technology is to smother it with government regulation. That’s why the House last week unanimously approved legislation, H.R. 3388, or the “SELF DRIVE Act,” designed to assist the private sector in its development of autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles without weighing innovation down with new burdensome federal rules before it matures. This bill sets in motion a process whereby the Department of Transportation will carefully monitor this developing technology and seek input for future rulemaking designed to set broad, baseline performance and safety standards. It’s an approach that is supported by the private sector innovators who are investing in this transformative technology because it will allow a level playing field to continue improving without compromising the safety of the traveling public, including those who opt for traditional, non-autonomous vehicles. In fact, I recently had an opportunity to visit a facility in Suwanee, Applied Information Technology, that is developing cutting edge technology that will be deployed in this space. I look forward to Senate approval of this first, preliminary step toward an exciting future in the automobile industry.
This week in the House the work continues on our Appropriations bills, in which we have already considered hundreds of amendments going back to last week, and we’ll be completing this process and voting on final passage of H.R. 3354, the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act” soon. While a short-term continuing resolution cleared Congress on Friday, proper funding for FY2018 remains, and the hard work put in by the House on H.R. 3354 gives us a firm foundation on which to build consensus with the Senate going forward.
Another piece of legislation we’ll be considering in the Rules Committee this week is H.R. 3697, the “Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act,” which is yet another targeted step to strengthen our immigration system and protect the American people. H.R. 3697 would further empower the Department of Homeland Security to deny entry and/or deport any alien having known association or involvement with a criminal gang. National security remains the highest priority for Congress on both sides of the aisle, and this bill offers an opportunity to build upon that common ground.
We talk a great deal about national security, and in fact, this week I’m hosting two telephone town hall meetings, one of which will discuss this very issue. The first meeting will be tomorrow evening at 7PM, and will focus specifically on the issue of national security, while Thursday we will be meeting at 7PM as well, but we will be discussing foreign affairs. If you’d like to join either or both, please click here or visit my website and you’ll find all the information you need. Dial in just prior to 7:00PM, enter the passcode when prompted, and you’ll be connected to the call. I look forward to speaking with you!
Member of Congress
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07) released the following statement addressing President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
"Laws can only be made by the President and the Congress working together. That is what the Constitution requires. President Obama's ‘go it alone’ approach was always going to end with the anxiety that DACA participants are experiencing today, and I applaud President Trump for committing to work with Congress on real, permanent solutions."
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.