Rob Woodall

Rob Woodall

GEORGIA's 7th DISTRICT

Washington Watch - 5/23/16

2016/05/23

SUPREME COURT CITES AFFORDABLE CARE ACT OVERREACH, AGAIN

Last week, the Supreme Court unanimously decided to remand Zubik v. Burwell to lower federal courts for resolution, marking a win for religious liberty, and further highlighting a long list of objections the American people have with Obamacare. The case centers on the Obamacare requirement that employers provide employees with healthcare benefits that include contraceptive coverage even if it violates the principles of the employer’s faith to do so. Many Catholic charities and religiously-affiliated employers have expressed deep concern over the mandate’s intrusion on their religious beliefs, and they have sued the government to protect their religious freedom.  

As Americans, we certainly don’t agree on everything, but irrespective of our differences, protecting our shared principles and constitutional rights should always be our first priority. It’s my hope that we will soon see a solution prioritizing the religious liberty we all cherish, and I will certainly continue to monitor the case closely. In times of divided government, we have a wonderful opportunity to build the consensus needed to move America forward in a way that doesn’t silence the voice of millions of people. Sadly, that’s the approach with which Obamacare was crafted and passed, and consequently as a nation we’re still sorting through the aftermath.  

 

HOUSE SHOWS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR OUR NATION’S TROOPS

Last week, the House passed one of the most important bills that I have the opportunity to vote on each year with strong bipartisan support: the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This year’s NDAA provides crucial resources to address our nation’s readiness shortfall so that our men and women in uniform can succeed in their very important missions, blocks the President’s attempt to reduce our troops’ annual pay raise, includes important reforms to the Pentagon to make it run more efficiently and effectively, and includes many other provisions that help ensure our nation’s all-volunteer force remains the greatest and strongest in the world. And, it’s not just the bill itself that I’m proud of; the process in which it was considered last week is just as impressive. No less than 180 amendments from both Republicans and Democrats were offered on the House floor and debated.  The end result of such a robust and inclusive process is a better bill for our men and women in uniform and a better bill for American democracy.  

One amendment in particular that I’d like to highlight started as a stand-alone bill that I am proud to cosponsor. My colleague on the House Rules Committee, Representative Alcee Hastings, authored legislation that says, “If you’re a low-income veteran receiving a pension from the VA, you shouldn’t be punished for receiving medical compensation for an accident that was no fault of your own.” Currently, medical compensation that a veteran may receive is seen by the VA as regular income, even if it simply being provided to reimburse the costs of medical care, causing a veteran to potentially become ineligible to receive pension payments that so many rely on for day-to-day expenses. The amendment to the NDAA offered by Representative Hastings rights this wrong, and I’m pleased to say that it passed the House unanimously. Making sure our nation’s military remains the best in the world is no easy task, but I, for one, am proud of the House’s work on this year’s NDAA and was proud to join many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in supporting it and making it that much closer to becoming the law of the land.  

 

HOUSE PASSES THE FIRST OF TWELVE ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS BILLS

The House, last week, also kicked off this year’s appropriations process by debating and passing the first of twelve annual appropriations bills: the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. As is tradition, before considering or debating the appropriations for any other part of the federal government, the House’s top priority is ensuring that veterans’ benefits and healthcare programs have the funding they need to serve our nation’s veterans. Taking care of those who have served us could not be more important, and I am very proud of this tradition and this year’s bill. At a time when many other agencies and departments are seeing their funding cut, this year’s bill increases discretionary spending on veterans’ programs by $2 billion and also contains a number of provisions that help hold the VA accountable to the veterans that it was created to serve and the American taxpayers that provide its funding. The House got off to strong start with this year’s appropriations process, and I am eager to continue work on the remaining eleven bills in the coming weeks.  

 

WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH

The House took another step forward last Wednesday to combat the Zika virus and prevent it from spreading in the U.S. The bill, H.R. 5243, the “Zika Response Appropriations Act,” provides more than $620 million for several federal agencies charged with assisting states and local communities with efforts like mosquito control, disease surveillance, and outbreak response and preparedness. A portion of the funding is also targeted for Zika virus research and development activities, including the development of vaccines and diagnostic tests, and for international mosquito control efforts, which will help keep the Zika virus from spreading to new areas. I hope to see the Senate quickly pass H.R. 5243, as it will bring the total FY2016 funding for the U.S. Zika virus response to $1.2 billion. In the coming weeks, as we continue to work through the FY2017 appropriations process, I expect the House to approve additional funding to both protect Americans from a Zika virus outbreak and ensure adequate resources are readily available should one occur. 

 

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION BEGINS FLURRY OF MIDNIGHT REGULATIONS 

On Wednesday of last week, President Obama’s Department of Labor finalized its federal overtime regulations, which more than double the threshold under which salaried workers automatically qualify for overtime pay. While the President is promising that his new overtime rules will increase the paychecks of millions of hard-working Americans, I’ve heard from small business owners in various industries across our district over the last few months who say that’s simply not going to be the case, as small businesses won’t automatically have more money to increase employee pay. The added business costs associated with the new rules will likely just force small businesses to reduce costs elsewhere, meaning some employees could see a modest increase in their pay checks when the rules take effect in December while countless others lose flexibility with their schedules, be converted from salary to hourly employees, or simply see their hours reduced. It’s also possible that the new rules will have the unintended effect of reducing the number of entry level jobs available in the U.S. or at least the starting salaries for those positions. Despite having a front row seat from which to witness the U.S. economy struggle to deal with the regulatory labyrinth he has created over his two terms in office, President Obama has decided that burnishing his legacy is more important than working with Congress to enact pro-growth policies that will actually benefit American workers.

Above I mentioned the House-passage of the first of twelve appropriations bills. These bill are so important because this is the House opportunity to use the power of the purse to prevent regulatory overreach. Without the votes to override a presidential veto, “no funds shall be used to enforce” language in an appropriations bill is the only way to create a win for family businesses and employees. When you see me working to pass appropriations bills, I’m not working to spend money; I am working to control how the money is spent. 

 

LEGISLATIVE FIX COMING TO REDUCE WAIT TIME AT AIRPORTS

If you have flown recently, you may have noticed that it took a lot longer than usual to get through the security lines. One of the suspected causes of these delays is a lack of communication between local airports and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Poor staffing choices have exacerbated the problem. To that end, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul announced that he will be introducing a bill next week to mitigate this problem and provide some relief for travelers. TSA has also announced that they will be expanding the Pre-Check program to cover more airlines. I look forward to reviewing his ideas and making sure that you and your family can get from Point A to Point B as quickly, as conveniently, and as safely as possible.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is expected to consider its second appropriations bill, the FY17 Energy and Water Appropriations Act. This bill provides funding for our nation’s nuclear weapons program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Energy, and the Bureau of Reclamation, to name a few. Though it has taken a little longer than originally intended this year to begin our appropriations work, I’m so pleased that the House and Senate are moving forward and doing the work of the American people.

Also coming up this week will be a bill to reauthorize and reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Over 80,000 chemicals are used in commerce in the United States, and TSCA is the vehicle through which the federal government, the private sector, and state and local governments work together to ensure that our health and our environment are treated responsibly and that these chemicals are secured and used appropriately. The House has been working hard to reform TSCA to better serve Americans, and I’m happy that this bipartisan reform will be coming to the House floor. 


Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress 

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Woodall Supports House Passage of Veterans Funding Bill

2016/05/19

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4974, the “Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act,” marking the first of the FY2017 appropriations season.  The legislation prioritizes combatant command needs while increasing discretionary spending for veterans by 3% from FY2016.  Rep. Rob Woodall issued the following statement in support of its passage. 

“It’s through the appropriations process that we are able to effectively and responsibly allocate America’s resources, and there is no more important or fitting place to begin than with the care of our troops,” said Woodall.  “With this bill we are prioritizing the needs of those who have given so much through their service to each one of us, and we’re doing it in a way that increases transparency and accountability.”

Significant provisions of the legislation include measures to address VA disability backlogs, prohibit closure of Guantanamo Bay, and increase medical care for veterans and their families.

  • Includes $52.5B for VA medical services for 7 million patients to care for a sicker veteran population
  • Prioritizes mental health care, suicide prevention, traumatic brain injury treatment, and opioid safety
  • Addresses the disability claims backlog by providing a $118M increase for hiring new staff, digital scanning,
  • and the paperless claims processing system
  • Prohibits the closure of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station and the construction of any facilities to house
  • detainees in the U.S. or its territories
  • Prohibits bonuses for all VA Senior Executive Service (SES) personnel
  • Provides a total of $7.9B for military construction—prioritizing combatant command needs and targeting
  • tax dollars to where they are most needed
  • Includes funding to support and care for 9.8 million troops and families at military medical facilities

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. 

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Congressman Woodall honors Vietnam vets on anniversary

2016/05/18

CUMMING, Ga. —Congressman Rob Woodall, whose district includes much of south Forsyth County, spoke to members of the Cumming Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America at their May monthly meeting.

The Republican 7th District Representative delivered a PowerPoint presentation outlining federal spending on VA hospitals and other programs and services for military veterans.

In addition, Woodall presented each of the members present with a presidential citation commemorating their service on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

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Washington Watch - 5/16/16

2016/05/16

CONGRESS ADDRESSES NATIONAL PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

Last week the House passed 18 bills that address various facets of our nation’s opioid abuse epidemic, and I’m proud to say that this is an issue with which Republicans and Democrats have found common ground. Too many Americans are fighting an addiction to opioids, and tragically, tens of thousands are dying every year from opioid overdoses. This is an entirely preventable and treatable problem, but it’s one that we all have to work together to combat. While we still have some differences between the House and Senate opioid bills, I expect the House and Senate to work together in the coming weeks to produce a bill that will go to the President’s desk. 

 

MOMENTUM IS GROWING FOR MAJOR TAX REFORM

If you know me, you know that the FairTax is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. Fortunately, I got the opportunity to discuss with my colleagues in the House why the FairTax is the kind of tax reform America deserves on two separate occasions this week. On Thursday, I appeared before the Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee to educate my colleagues of the benefit of the FairTax. The following day I took to the House floor to explain H.R. 25 further. The FairTax is the only bill in Congress that takes the IRS out of your life forever and wipes away the federal tax that hurts struggling American families the most—the payroll tax. It’s time we #PassTheFairTax.  

Click on the picture below to watch my testimony before the Ways and Means Committee.

Click on the picture below to watch me speak on the House floor in favor of H.R. 25, the FairTax.

 

CELEBRATING 68 YEARS OF ISRAEL'S IDEPENDENCE

During the course of any week, month, or year, there are many things upon which we pause to reflect, but none more precious than freedom. It’s that shared love of liberty that bonds the U.S. so tightly with our friends in Israel, who just last Thursday celebrated their 68th Independence Day as a nation.  Our countries share not only a love for freedom, but a reverence for what it takes to attain and keep it. Our stories are unique, yet bound together by this commitment, and we are each made stronger through our partnership. As Americans, we certainly understand the joy and patriotism felt in a celebration of your liberty, and I’d like to again wish the people of Israel a Happy Independence Day! 

 

INCREASING PATIENT CHOICE AND HEALTH PLAN INNOVATION

Last Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held an important hearing with health care experts from across the political spectrum to explore better ways to increase patient choices and develop innovative health plan options. With recent news that the nation’s largest health insurer – United Healthcare – will only offer insurance next year in a handful of states due to losses from the Affordable Care Act equaling roughly $640 million for 2016, on top of loses of $475 million 2015, it makes perfect sense for Congress to look at ways in which we can solve the problem of limited patient choice and increasing patient costs. We can all agree – regardless of our political affiliation – that insurers fleeing the marketplace because of their inability to sustain financial losses is bad for Americans. Anything we can do at the federal level to stop that is worth our time and investment. 

 

HONORING THE WOMEN WHO SERVED AMERICA IN WORLD WAR II

It is of the utmost importance that we ensure that all who have served our nation—man or woman—are properly honored for their service in defense of our fundamental freedoms and liberties, and an important bill that helps our nation fulfill this vital commitment cleared the Senate last week after initially passing the House with my support just two months ago.  

The bill is H.R. 4336, the “Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act,” and it restores the rights of the many Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, to have their ashes inurned in Arlington National Cemetery.  These brave women served our nation in World War II. They conducted test flights, helped in training exercises, and assisted with other non-combat flight roles at a time when their nation desperately needed their support.  

Late last year, the Pentagon reviewed its regulations and determined that these women would no longer be allowed to have Arlington National Cemetery be their final resting place due to a technicality in the law. While I appreciate the Pentagon’s commitment to the letter of the law, I am even more committed to ensuring these brave women are properly honored for their actions, and I hope everyone will join me in calling on President Obama to recognize the contributions of WASPs in WWII and make this legislation the law of the land.

Thank you to all of you who contacted me about this bill and worked to make it a reality. I always say that together we can make a difference, and this is one more example of how our partnership matters.

 

U.S. COURTS TO WHITE HOUSE: THE CONSTITUTION IS CLEAR; CONGRESS HOLDS THE POWER OF THE PURSE

In what was a big victory for American taxpayers and folks who believe in the separation of powers under our Constitution, a federal court sided with the House of Representatives in a lawsuit against the Obama Administration for spending taxpayer dollars without Congressional approval. At issue in the case is a decision by the Obama Administration to provide billions of dollars to insurance companies that offer reduced deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance levels to people who purchase Obamacare insurance plans.  Recognizing the inherent unfairness of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “Offset Program” payments to insurers, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated could cost taxpayers $170 billion over the next 10 years, Congress refused to appropriate funding to implement it. Despite the fact that neither the ACA nor the Constitution permits such action, the Obama Administration decided to take money from another account to make Offset Program payments to insurance companies, and that was wrong. While I’m disappointed that the House was forced to turn to a federal court to uphold its Article I power, I’m pleased with the decision in the case. 

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week, the House is expected to consider the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill authorizes our nation’s defense activities for the year – everything from military personnel benefits to overseas combat operations – and I’m pleased to say that this bill almost always receives wide bipartisan support. We’ll have the opportunity to vote on dozens of amendments to the bill and debate all the most critical issues facing our military men and women. I look forward to continuing the long tradition of bipartisan support for our nation’s military. 

I also expect the House to consider a bill that reprograms existing federal funds for the benefit of Zika preparedness. We all know how important it is to be prepared to combat Zika transmission as we enter the hot summer months when mosquito-borne diseases are more prevalent. This bill will certainly help us achieve that goal. 

Finally, I expect that the House will begin moving forward on our first appropriations bill of the year: the FY17 Military Construction/Department of Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. This is one of the most bipartisan bills Congress passes every year. In fact, last year, this bill received over 400 votes in the House of Representatives. Coming together to support our military men and women and our nation’s veterans is something that everyone can and should support. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Two Naval Academy nominees from Lambert attend reception with congressman

2016/05/10

SOUTH FORSYTH — Two Forsyth County high school students were among the 12 that District 7 U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall nominated — and who were subsequently accepted — to one of the nation’s four military academies that require a nomination.

Kyle Vargas and Connor Mannion, both seniors at Lambert, will attend the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Every year I look forward to this day and the opportunity to personally congratulate these remarkable young leaders for their accomplishment,” said Woodall, a Republican from Gwinnett County whose district also covers south Forsyth and Cumming.

He said his district consistently leads Georgia in the number of appointees each year. He held a reception for the appointees last week.

Admittance to four service academies — Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.; Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.; and Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. — requires a nomination from a member of Congress, the vice president or a service branch secretary.

The Coast Guard Academy does not require a congressional nomination.

“The application process — not to mention the years of hard work required to get them to this point — is lengthy and demanding, and they have all earned their place at institutions second to none,” Woodall said.

The congressman also recently joined the Georgia delegation at Dobbins Air Reserve base for the annual Service Academy Day to kick off the new nomination season.

For more information on the nomination process, visit woodall.house.gov or contact Debra Poirot in Woodall’s office at (770) 232-3032.

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District Connection - 5/9/16

2016/05/09

YOUNG STUDENTS STEPPING UP TO LEAD OUR NATION 

 While no one week can completely capture all the hard work that goes into earning a spot at one of America’s Service Academies, in recent days I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with some remarkable Seventh District students eager to serve.  Some were just beginning to explore their interest in service and others were celebrating their hard-earned appointments that begin in coming weeks. 

Last Saturday, young people from across Georgia gathered at Dobbins Air Reserve Base for the annual Service Academy Day to hear from representatives and learn more about admission requirements. This event -- the best and largest of its kind anywhere in America -- unofficially kicks off our  7th District academy nomination process each year, and I always look forward to sharing it with local students and their families. Students as young as 8th grade and as old as high school juniors were on-hand to learn more about how to put their best application forward for one of the coveted academy slots. Saturday was especially rewarding as the 7th District’s own Brooke Wheeler, who I had the privilege of nominating four years ago, was chosen by the U.S. Air Force Academy to return to Georgia and speak to aspiring cadets about her passion for and experience with the U.S. Air Force Academy.  She’ll graduate next month, and I couldn’t be prouder of what she’s accomplished.


Rep. Rob Woodall visits with Air Force Academy Cadet and 7th District resident Brooke Wheeler

And while those young leaders were just beginning their application journey, on Wednesday I celebrated with students from the 7th District who are such standouts that my academy panel and I nominated them last year and they received appointments this spring to enter our Service Academies this fall.  The application process – not to mention the years of hard work required to get them to this point – is extraordinary and demanding, but through it, they have all earned their place at institutions second to none. It was a thrill to visit with them and their families as they finish one phase of leadership and prepare themselves for the next exciting chapter. I have no doubt they’ll be successful, and with young leaders like these, I have no doubt that America’s best days are most certainly ahead.

 
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with 7th District students who have been appointed to one of our nation's five service academies

 

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT MAKES THE 7TH DISTRICT A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit with local Kiwanis members from across the 7th District.  They face the very same issues that many families and small business owners across our nation face – a struggling economy, an overly burdensome federal government, and the sense that America is heading in the wrong direction. However, I was also reminded how critically important local communities are to America's success. Recently, these local Kiwanis members came together to raise more than $20,000 for pregnant women to provide vaccines for a devastating illness – maternal and neonatal tetanus -- which is entirely preventable, but often the treatment is unaffordable. I am constantly proud of my friends and neighbors who, when confronted with a problem, come together to find a solution. I appreciate the invitation to join them this month and look forward to coming back in the future.

 

HIGHLIGHTING OUR HARD WORK AND BIPARTISAN EFFORTS FOR AMERICA

I've said it many times before, but too often people believe that Washington just can't work together for the good of the country. The great news is that simply isn't true. I went to the House floor right before our most recent District Work Week to talk about those successes that we've built together and to discuss what more we have to do. I hope you'll take a moment to click on the picture below and watch my speech.

 

SERVING THOSE WHO SERVED US

I want to extend a big thank you to Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America for inviting me to speak at their monthly meeting in Cumming last Monday. I absolutely admire the passion and commitment that Chapter 1030 has for advocating on behalf of all Vietnam veterans, and I was very glad to have the opportunity to visit with them. During the meeting, we discussed a number of serious and important topics including making sure we keep the promises that we’ve made to our nation’s veterans and the work that still remains to be done to ensure that the VA is kept accountable.

On a more personal note, we also discussed some of the recent “casework success stories” where my team has successfully resolved issues that several 7th District veterans were having with the VA. I’ll tell you exactly what I told Chapter 1030 during the meeting:  I am here to serve you and your family, so if you are a veteran who’s having any issues with the VA or know of a 7th District veteran who is, I hope you won’t hesitate to reach out to my dedicated team at 770-232-3005 or by email at woodall@mail.house.gov. My colleagues and I in Washington might not be able to change the law to fix all of the problems with the VA overnight, but I relish in the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of individual veterans in the meantime.   

 

THE PATH PROJECT: SOUTH GWINNETT COMMUNITY LEADERS WORKING TOGETHER TO HELP ONE ANOTHER

I often say that the best part of my job is meeting with the young people of our community, and luckily, I was able to do just that last Tuesday. I visited an after-school program in the South Gwinnett cluster that was started by two individuals from Graystone Church. Jim and Melinda Hollandsworth founded a program – The Path Project – in 2009 to help kids from families with limited English proficiency perform better in school. We’re spoiled in Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties with tremendously high-achieving public schools, so it’s easy to forget that according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, in Georgia, only 64% of Latino students graduate from high school. That’s the third-lowest graduation rate in the nation for Latino students.

Federal laws, like the Every Student Succeeds Act, are meant to help local schools improve English language skills and boost graduation rates for all students. But it’s clear that the federal government can’t do it alone. We need community leaders like those involved in The Path Project in order to succeed. And the good news is that The Path Project isn’t just a labor of love for the Hollandsworth family; it’s a great example of how our entire community comes together to help each other -- from local moms, to Georgia Gwinnett College students, to members of local churches, and more. Again, when our community sees a need, our community members step-up to help. I am so proud to represent these values! 


Rep. Rob Woodall visits with students, teachers, and parents at The Path Project in Loganville

The Path Project partners with families, schools, churches, and businesses to help children and teenagers in at-risk communities close the achievement gap and find the right path for their lives in all aspects of life – spiritual, academic, and social. They hope that every child who is part of The Path Project will develop a stronger bond with God, graduate from high school with a plan for their future, and become productive members of society who will give back to our community. I can tell you first-hand from my visit that the parents and students who are involved in The Path Project are going to achieve all their goals. These kids are hungry for knowledge, and their parents are working hard right along side them to encourage them and show them that our community is invested in their success. I am grateful to the folks at The Path Project for opening their hearts to me and making me part of their team. I am proud to be working for them in Washington.

 

CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT OF THE ADMINISTRATION’S AFGHANISTAN STRATEGY

Though I don’t normally spend time during a District Work Week talking about what has been happening in Washington, I wanted to highlight a House oversight hearing from a few weeks ago that seems especially critical given the amount of time I spent last week with our nation’s future military leaders.

In the wake of another horrific terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in April that killed roughly 65 and wounded over 300 more, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a joint subcommittee hearing addressing the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and examining the President’s proposals for dealing with terrorism in this part of the world. We all know that terrorism will not be stopped overnight. This is a long-term battle, but it’s one that we must win and one that our brave men and women in uniform are committed to winning. Our job as policymakers is to ensure that they have the ability to win the fight.

Unfortunately, members of the committee were warned that the Taliban is taking advantage of the Obama Administration’s restrictions on U.S. support for Afghan forces, and members were asked to pressure the Administration into expanding close air support and surveillance of the Taliban. We’ve seen what turning a blind eye to increased terrorist activity has done in Iraq and Syria and the extreme humanitarian and security losses that the world has endured. We simply cannot let that happen again in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is expected to consider a number of bills that address our nation’s troubling epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse. According to the CDC, more than 60% of all drug overdose deaths can be attributed to an opioid – either a prescription drug or an illegal opioid like heroin. In fact, 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Solving this terrible problem is going to require a nationwide effort, and I’m happy that the House and Senate are working together to help American families and our health care system better deal with this issue. 

On Tuesday evening, I will be hosting a Telephone Town Hall Meeting. This meeting is an open forum, so I encourage you to call-in and listen to what your fellow 7th District residents have to say. And if you have a question or a concern about how the federal government is serving you, I hope that you will share it with me. 

Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Tuesday, May 10th
7:30pm – 8:00pm
Dial-In: (877) 229-8493
Passcode: 115446

I look forward to talking with you on Tuesday!

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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GDOT commish says I-85 toll lane expansion begins this summer

2016/05/09

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry gave members of the Gwinnett Chamber fair warning on Wednesday: Orange construction barrels and cones are coming to Interstate 85 this summer.

The GDOT leader told the chamber that construction work on new high-occupancy toll lanes that extend the existing toll lanes north to Hamilton Mill Road is expected to begin in August. Ten miles and new toll lanes will be built over the next two years between Old Peachtree Road and Hamilton Mill Road as part of the project.

“They are actually working through design now, getting the permits in place and ready to turn dirt in August,” McMurry said. “That’s about a $149-$150 million investment in mobility and trying to bring mobility up the northeast side of the county, up the 85 corridor which is such a lifeline.”

The HOT lane expansion news was one of several Gwinnett-related transportation projects McMurry discussed during his visit to the chamber.

The head of GDOT also said the agency will be working on plans to install new interchanges and overpasses at existing intersections on state Highway 316 as officials move toward making it a limited access highway to the Athens area. The state will begin designing the interchanges later this year and will then conduct engineering and environmental work.

Funding for right-of-way acquisition on those interchanges is expected to become available in 2020, McMurry said. Other plans, which McMurry said are still at the “starting gate,” include adding new regular lanes on I-85 from Hamilton Mill Road to the Jefferson area.

However, the big news was the announcement that construction on the HOT lane expansion project will begin this summer. McMurry said the will build new lanes in the existing median for the tollway instead of converting existing lanes. There will be one lane for each direction, he added.

“We’re going to get some improvements just in the normal lanes besides having the express lanes, so we’re very excited that that project is underway,” he added.

Officials at GDOT are getting underway on the long anticipated project after new state and federal funding bills became law over the last year.

McMurry said the funding measures have been to turning around GDOT’s ability to get projects off the drawing board. The state’s funding bill reconfigured how Georgia raises money for transportation projects by establishing a new consolidated fuel tax.

Meanwhile, Congress passed a five-year transportation funding bill at the end of last year, marking the first time in years that the federal government has had a long-term funding bill for transportation projects. McMurry said the federal funding bill was key in giving state officials enough confidence to move forward with several projects across the state.

“Last year, the federal government was basically unable to reimburse Georgia at three different times last year,” he said. “You can’t plan, you can’t do what takes three to five years to build, if you don’t have funding certainty that you’re going to have the dollars to go to the next step.

“Some of these (projects) you could never start because you never knew that you could finish them.”

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., said design and construction firms that deal with transportation projects across the country are seeing business pick up now that local and state governments have more confidence in the availability of long-term federal funding.

As a member of the House Transportation Committee, Woodall was involved in getting the long-term funding bill passed after a long series of short-term funding bills that lasted only months at a time.

“It’s not an academic conversation,” he said. “We’re talking about folks making it to the opening pitch of their son’s Little League game or folks making it to the start of the lacrosse event time and time again. This is real life and folks are trading away time in their community, with their families and focused on other priorities because they’re stuck in traffic.

“This isn’t a difference in dollars. This is a difference in quality of life.”

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Woodall Hosts Service Academy Appointee Reception

2016/05/05

(Lawrenceville, GA) – Last Saturday, Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07) joined the Georgia delegation at Dobbins Air Reserve Base for the annual Academy Day kick off of a new nomination season, and on Wednesday he hosted a reception for the 7th District students he nominated last year who were subsequently accepted and received appointments.  They will soon begin their time at America’s Service Academies, but first they celebrated with family during a visit with the Congressman. 

“Every year I look forward to this day and the opportunity to personally congratulate these remarkable young leaders for their accomplishment.  The application process – not to mention the years of hard work required to get them to this point – is lengthy and demanding, and they have all earned their place at institutions second to none.  I couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve accomplished, and under their leadership I’m confident America’s best days are ahead.”

The 7th District is a perennial leader in the number of Service Academy appointees each year and will now send 12 more to three different academies.  The 2016 Service Academy appointees include: David Abbott (North Gwinnett HS/Naval Academy), Kyle Vargas (Lambert High School/Naval Academy),  Diego Manrique (Mill Creek HS/Naval Academy), Justin Jang (Peachtree Ridge HS/West Point Military Academy), Andrew Murphy (Hebron Christian Academy/Naval Academy), Tricia Dang (North Gwinnett HS/Air Force Academy), Connor Mannion (Lambert HS/Naval Academy), Sally Varner (St. Pius HS, Gwinnett resident/West Point Military Academy), Ashton Barnes (Lanier HS/Air Force Academy), Matthew Herbig (Collins Hill HS/Air Force Academy), Richard Ford Higgins (Greater Atlanta Christian School/Naval Academy), and Ernando Manrique (Mill Creek HS/Naval Academy).

For more information on the Service Academy nomination process, visit http://woodall.house.gov or contact Debra Poirot in the Congressman’s district office at (770) 232-3032.

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. 

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U.S. Chamber Recognizes Rep. Woodall with Spirit of Enterprise Award

2016/05/04

(Duluth, GA) – Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall with the Spirit of Enterprise Award in recognition of his pro-economic growth voting record fostering small business and entrepreneurship.  Each year the Chamber tracks Members of Congress on key votes to the business community, and Woodall has become a perennial recipient of the award with the highest percentage ranking of the entire Georgia delegation.

“The Seventh District is a community of folks that get things done,” said Rep. Woodall.  “From start-up entrepreneurs to established corporate citizens, we have expertise in just about every field right here at home, and all they need from Washington is a regulatory climate that allows them to do what they do best.  Their partnership is the driving force behind our success, and it makes our voice in Congress that much more effective.”

During the first session of the 114th Congress, the Chamber scored Members on 20 House votes, including votes to make permanent tax provisions that would have regularly expired, and the first long-term transportation law in a decade (H.R. 22 ).  Rep. Woodall serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee responsible for crafting H.R. 22, which was ultimately passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Obama.

Also in attendance at today’s presentation were members of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and local business community.

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. 

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Washington Watch - 5/2/16

2016/05/02

HOUSE APPROVES PRIVACY PROTECTIONS FOR EMAIL

Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 699, the “Email Privacy Act,” which guarantees digital communications (e.g., emails) the same Fourth Amendment protections as physical communications (e.g., letters). If this seems like common sense; it's only because it is. The problem is that the current law governing electronic privacy protections was passed in 1986—well before email became a critical and ubiquitous communication tool. Because Congress hasn’t updated this law, emails have been accessible to law enforcement authorities without a warrant. Under H.R. 699, the authorities must get a warrant to access emails or other digital communications that are more than 180 days old. This is legislation I have been pushing for more than two years, and I am thrilled to see that the efforts of my colleagues and I have finally paid off and brought this measure one step closer to becoming the law of the land. 

 

GWINNETT CHAMBER BRINGS 7TH DISTRICT VALUES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO WASHINGTON

Last week I had the privilege of spending time with dozens of Gwinnettians for the annual Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce meeting in Washington, D.C. These folks are small business owners and distinguished members of our community, and thankfully for all of us, they are willing to take time away from their families and their businesses to share with me the needs of the 7th District and how the government can do a better job serving our friends and neighbors.

The Chamber members met with a number of my colleagues, including Chairman John Ratcliffe (R-TX) and Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who spoke with us about how their committees are working to protect our homeland from terrorism and ensure that we have a strong and growing economy. Hearing the perspectives of members of Congress from other parts of the country is a great way for those of us in the 7th District to learn how we can work together across state and ideological lines to make American better tomorrow than it is today.

 

COMING TOGETHER FOR HARD-WORKING AMERICANS 

Last week the House exercised its authority under the Congressional Review Act to formally disapprove of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) rewrite of the fiduciary rule. I’m sure by now you all are familiar with this new rule, as I’ve discussed it in previous newsletters and town hall meetings. The Obama Administration has portrayed the new rule as a necessary change to protect Americans from dishonest retirement planners, but I take issue with that characterization for a number of reasons.  

The first is that I believe the best way to protect hard-working Americans is to put policies in place that foster competition and increase choices, and I’ve heard from retirement advisors in our area at companies like State Farm who have told me the new rules will end up limiting choices for folks who are trying to save for retirement. Limiting choices and making it harder to save for retirement hurts Americans; it doesn't protect them. It’s also troubling to me that the Obama Administration believes folks in our area can trust bureaucrats at the DOL more than we can trust our friends and neighbors who serve our community as financial advisors. Maybe folks in other parts of the nation have those concerns. But I don’t believe that’s the case in the Seventh District, and I was pleased to join a majority of my House colleagues in support of the disapproval resolution.

 

SUPPORTING AMERICA’S MANUFACTURERS AND WORKERS

The House also took action last week to promote U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in what is increasingly becoming a global marketplace.  The bill, H.R. 4923, the “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act,” will reduce costs on domestic manufacturers by establishing a process to reduce tariff rates on certain imports that are not readily available in the U.S. Right now, those tariff rates are operating as border taxes on our manufacturers and making it harder for them to sell American-made products, grow their business, and create more jobs right here at home. While the House is working on additional solutions to help U.S. manufacturers compete, like reforming our corporate tax code and streamlining our excessive regulatory structure, I’m pleased that an overwhelming number of members agreed that H.R. 4923 was a common-sense, first step towards creating a more level playing field for U.S. manufactures and workers, and I look forward to seeing move through the Senate and receive a Presidential signature.  

 

ENSURING GROWTH AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY 

Before I boarded a plane to head back to D.C. for last week’s business on Capitol Hill, I had the pleasure of speaking with a dedicated group of local leaders here in the 7th District through the Council for Quality Growth. I appreciate the partnership of the Council in all of my work on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and I appreciate the invitation to speak with their members. Jackson EMC was a great host, and we had a great exchange of ideas about how to move America's infrastructure forward. 


Rep. Rob Woodall joins James Touchton, the Director of Policy and Government Affairs, with the Gwinnett Council for Quality Growth

From transportation issues, water infrastructure, to healthcare, no one works together to achieve excellence better than the 7th District, and that’s because we’re a community of individuals that show up – time and again – for whatever the issue at hand may be. We’re successful not because our politics are always aligned, but because our goals are. The message I am able to share in Washington on your behalf carries weight because of the results here at home that validate our local approach and partnership. Thanks again for all you do. 

 

SUPPORTING OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee approved one of the most important bills that Congress will consider all year—the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It’s no secret that the world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place, with the persistence of terror groups like ISIS and myriad other threats and challenges facing America and her allies. That stark reality makes this annual defense authorization bill, which provides our men and women in uniform with the equipment, resources, weapons systems, and training they need to successfully complete their missions around the world, all the more important.  

While this legislation benefits our nation’s military as a whole, it also protects two programs that are important to the State of Georgia: it prevents the retirement of the A-10 Warthog, a crucial close air support aircraft which flies out of Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, and, in an amendment approved in Committee offered by fellow Georgia Representative Austin Scott, it also prevents the retirement of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), a vital battlefield intelligence aircraft that is based out of Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. These two programs are no doubt important to these two Georgia military installations, the servicemen and women that serve on them, and their families, but I’m very glad that the Committee as a whole recognized their importance and unique role in our nation’s broader military posture.

Because this is such an important bill, it is also very important that we get the process for considering it right. With a base bill that is the product of extensive collaboration between both sides of the aisle on the Committee and over 300 amendments debated, it’s no wonder this year’s NDAA was approved by the Committee on resounding 60-2 vote. While Congress is divided on a number of different issues, and I am always very proud of the Committee’s robust and inclusive drafting and amendment process—the result is a victory for our nation’s military and American democracy, and I could not be more excited for the full House to take up this important measure in the coming weeks.  

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

I’m happy to be back in Georgia this week and spending time listening to and learning from all corners of the 7th District. I’ll be visiting local small businesses, meeting with community leaders, and doing what I love best about this job – talking with the young people of our community about how they can be the future leaders of America. 

If you'd like to invite me to visit your group, tour your business, or meet with your students during a future District Work Week, please contact me. You can call me at (202) 225-4272 or email me at woodall@mail.house.gov. Together, we are making a difference.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Contact Information

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

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

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

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

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


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