(Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5303, the “Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA)” addressing the needs of America’s ports, dams, flood protection, and other water resources infrastructure. The legislation builds upon the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA), restoring the two-year cycle of authorizing water policy and equipping the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers with the tools needed to move forward on billions of dollars’ worth of water projects – including ongoing expansion of the Savannah Harbor and feasibility studies for the Port of Brunswick. Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee responsible for crafting the bill, and successfully led the measure through the House, managing debate for its consideration.
With implications ranging from water reservoir levels to interstate commerce and economic growth, WRDA’s impact is significant. Each year, $1.4 trillion of goods move through U.S. ports, which includes the Port of Savannah as the largest single container terminal and second busiest container exporter in North America. H.R. 5303’s investment in this pivotal infrastructure is an economic boon not only to the state, but the entire southeast region, and sustains a locally driven project proposal process that is reviewed, but not dictated, by Congress.
“There is no resource more essential than clean water, and this bill is a crucial part of ensuring we’re responsibly and efficiently managing it; both from a policy and a procedural standpoint,” said Rep. Woodall. “As circumstances change and needs vary across the country, it’s critically important that we leverage our local expertise while staying true to the regular order of biannual authorizations that provide certainty as well as oversight for the American people.”
“This bill is fundamental to America’s competitiveness, and gets Congress back to the regular business of addressing some of our most pressing infrastructure needs. Rep. Woodall understands how important an efficient maritime and waterways transportation system is to the country’s economy, and I’m grateful for his leadership in getting this crucial legislation passed,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), sponsor of the legislation. “We now look forward to continuing our work with the Senate to get a final bill sent to the President’s desk.”
With the 2014 passage of WRRDA, Congress enacted a number of revolutionary reforms that devolved much of the decision-making on projects across the country to states and regions, and H.R. 5303 continues the trend. It also marks the return of regular order as the legislation is historically passed biannually; however, between 2000 and 2014, only three WRDA authorizations were enacted, and Woodall sees the recent progress as a welcome course correction.
“Here at home, we’ve been leading the way in water conservation efforts and infrastructure improvement for years, and a tremendous example is our robust and very successful water management plan that has produced a 30 percent reduction in per capita water use since 2000,” Woodall added. “We as Georgians aren’t doing that because a federal agency told us to, but because it’s the right thing to do; and as a result, total water consumption in the region has dropped by 10 percent despite adding a million people to the region.”
With an important balance of local focus and broad view, H.R. 5303 continues to move forward with infrastructure investment, but maintains a commitment to fiscal responsibility by fully offsetting all new authorizations and putting a sunset provision on inactive projects. The measure also contains no earmarks, ensuring the legislation is focused on relevant policy.
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.
Last week the House unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that I introduced with my friend Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA). H.R. 4712, known as the “Strengthening the Department of Homeland Security Secure Mail Initiative Act (Secure Mail Initiative Act),” will improve the security of sensitive immigration documents such as green cards and work authorizations to ensure they only get delivered to their intended recipient. I’m proud of this bill, which will hopefully be signed into law soon, because it’s another example of constituents sharing an often-overlooked but widespread problem and my working with colleagues to craft a solution not just for our neighbors but for our entire nation.
Imagine, you or your family member has immigrated to the United States legally; you’ve filed all the appropriate paperwork with the government, you’ve paid all the fees, and all you’re waiting for in order to go to work and help to your family is delivery of a green card or work authorization. But, that green card never arrives because something went awry with the mail. Maybe it got delivered to the wrong address. Maybe it’s been stolen by an identity thief. In either case, you’re waiting for it, the government thinks you have it, but you don’t. So you’re stuck in an immigration limbo that can only be solved by your sending the government another $450 and waiting weeks more; again with no guarantee of delivery the second time around.
This is the scenario that a 7th District resident found himself in, leading him to call my office. The bill I passed last week in a bipartisan way simply allows a constituent to request and pay an additional fee for documents to be sent through a “signature required” service to ensure that the government doesn’t hold them financially responsible for lost or wrongly delivered mail and to ensure that errant mail delivery doesn’t prevent anyone from being able to live and work in America legally. While this bill won’t change the world, it will make a big difference to the many families who have struggled with this problem. Every congressional district has seen this problem, but you and I have finally done something to fix it once and for all. No matter how large or small, if every day we work together in Congress to solve a problem, save money, and make a difference, by the end of the year we’ll find that we’ve accomplished a lot. On your behalf, I try to do exactly that.
Last week the House made another strong statement in America’s continuing push to hold Iran accountable for its corruption and support of international terrorism. There is no greater sovereign state threat to the world than Iran. According to the State Department, Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world and is actively financing terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East. It is our responsibility as a peace-loving nation and leader of the world’s democracies to ensure that Iran’s international financial corruption and support for terrorism are stopped.
The first bill the House passed last week to tackle the Iranian issue was H.R. 5461, the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act.” I led the effort to bring this bill to the floor to shine much needed sunlight on the financial assets of top Iranian officials. It’s well known that Iran’s political and military leaders have amassed significant personal wealth through corrupt practices at the expense of ordinary Iranian citizens. In fact, the personal foundations that these leaders direct make up roughly one-third of the entire Iranian economy, including such important sectors as telecommunications, construction, airports, and seaports. Unfortunately, the nuclear deal that President Obama signed with Iran allows many of the entities that are tied to this corruption to be removed from the sanctions list.
While H.R. 5461 won’t put a stop to the nuclear deal, it will force the U.S. Department of the Treasury to publish online a comprehensive list of the financial assets of these Iranian leaders so that everyone in the world will know where they get their money and how it’s being spent. That way, even though the President may support lifting sanctions, Americans in all sectors of the economy will know if they’re doing business with a corrupt Iranian official, and the Iranian people will know how their leaders are fleecing the Iranian economy.
The second bill, H.R. 5931, the “Prohibiting Future Ransom Payment to Iran Act,” makes it illegal for the U.S. government to make cash payments to Iran until such time as the President certifies that Iran is no longer a primary money laundering concern or a state sponsor of terrorism. The bill also states that is the formal policy of the United States to never pay ransom or release prisoners for the purpose of securing the release of a U.S. citizen taken hostage abroad. I’m proud that both these bills passed with broad bipartisan support, and I hope that the Senate will pass these bills soon.
Last week, we had another great hearing in the House Budget Committee. It was the next in a series of hearings related to the Committee’s “Restoring the Trust” initiative, and the focus was on what Congress can do to improve the lives of American families and working age adults. Among the many topics of discussion were education, health care, jobs and wages, and housing, to name a few, and I was surprised to learn that there is so much common ground between members on both sides of the aisle on a group of issues that can often be contentious.
For example, there was near universal agreement that we should focus less on simply ensuring Americans have access to education and more on ensuring that Americans have access to education that will actually benefit them in the long-term. We’ve been succeeding with innovative models in Georgia like dual-enrollment for high school students who want to get college credit from Gwinnett Tech while they’re still in high school. This makes getting a college degree cheaper and faster, and it gives our students an amazing leg-up when it comes to landing quality jobs. The same is true for finding ways to ensure that hardworking Americans see their wages increase as their productivity increases. I very much enjoyed the thoughtfulness of both the witnesses and members at this hearing, and I invite you watch the hearing by clicking the below link and share with me any feedback or ideas that you may have.
Last Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held its third hearing regarding an issue many of you back home have expressed concern about; the allegations of misconduct and possible impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. There’s no disputing that some in the IRS engaged in a targeting campaign against certain groups seeking tax-exempt status, and ever since this targeting came to light in 2013, many Americans have felt uneasy with the IRS’ power. Not only that, but with the subsequent erasure of hard drives containing documents linked to the targeting scandal, it’s only natural that the American people would want answers and would want someone held accountable. I’m pleased that Commissioner Koskinen answered all the committee members’ questions and even expressed regret that the IRS failed to preserve all the information congressional investigators sought in their probe. I look forward to further action by the Judiciary Committee in this matter.
This week the House is going to vote on the 2017 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). We’ve spoken before about how critical this legislation is to Georgia – for our water supply, our ports, and our water infrastructure – and I’m so pleased that we are spending time this week on debating and passing this bill. I also expect the House and Senate to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government’s operations through December 9th.
Member of Congress
(Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced in March by U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) to provide new choices for those receiving official documentation regarding their immigration status from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Currently, USCIS refuses to send sensitive documents through any mode other than the U.S. Postal Service, and if those documents are lost in the mail, USCIS assumes the constituent is at fault and bills them for what can be hundreds of dollars to begin the document production and delivery process again.
H.R. 4712, the “Strengthening the Department of Homeland Security Secure Mail Initiative Act (Secure Mail Initiative Act)” stems from an issue brought to Woodall’s attention by constituents directly affected by the problem and offers recipients the ability to choose signature-required delivery once their application has been approved and completed. The measure imposes no cost on taxpayers and ensures tracking and accurate delivery for the documents.
“As well as being a solution to a problem facing members of our communities, this is also a national security bill,” said Rep. Woodall. “Ensuring these documents reach the men and women to whom they belong is certainly the goal, and by achieving it we can be certain they aren’t falling into the hands of those with ill intent. When I received calls from constituents who never received the documents for which they paid – not to mention rightfully earned – I went to work on a common-sense solution. I’ll always work to sort things out on a case by case basis, but this bill aims to keep it from happening in the first place, and I’m proud to partner with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it done.”
“I am heartened to see that the gridlock that has waylaid so many of our efforts in Congress has given way for the passage of this important piece of legislation. This bill will not only help the people in dire need of receiving these sensitive documents, and who frequently suffer great financial burdens and emotional turmoil when they are not delivered, it will also help to strengthen our national security as many of these items can be used by terrorists, human traffickers, and other criminal elements to wreak havoc here at home,” said Rep. Speier. “This was an easy fix for a complex problem that has affected people within my District and across the country and I am grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together to support this bill.”
Existing law requires permanent resident cards, travel documents, and employment authorization documents to be sent using U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail with delivery confirmation via tracking number, however, that does not guarantee delivery. The “Secure Mail Initiative Act” offers applicants a simple and voluntary way to ensure they – and no one else – receive their documents.
“I always ask constituents to bring their concerns and their solutions whenever they see challenges or opportunities in the federal government,” Woodall added. “I tell them that we can work together to solve problems and make government operate better—not just for the one constituent family, but for all American families. H.R 4712 is one of those success stories, and together – one family and one concern at the time – we will create many more.”
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.
I want to draw everyone’s attention to an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent around the country: IRS telephone scams. I’ve heard from a few of you recently about this issue, and I want to highlight it for everyone else so that you’re all prepared if contacted by a scammer.
The way IRS telephone scams usually work is that you are contacted by an individual claiming to be an IRS agent, and it’s possible that the individual has spoofed the IRS toll-free number and will provide a fake IRS badge number. In many cases, the scammer will have already gained access to some of your personal information, including your name, address, employer, family members, education, and/or the last four digits of your Social Security Number, which will be used to convince you that the call is real. Usually, the individual either demands immediate payment for delinquent taxes and threatens to have you arrested if you refuse to pay or tells you that you are due a tax refund and simply need to provide your bank account information to collect it. If you receive a phone call like this, chances are it’s not the IRS, especially if this is the first time you’ve heard about the delinquent tax bill or tax refund in question, and you should hang up the phone immediately and report the call to the IRS Treasury Inspector General. If you are not comfortable calling the IRS, feel free to reach out to my office for assistance.
Below is more information from the IRS about these telephone scams, including information that will help you spot them and report them to the proper authorities.
It is important to know that the IRS:
Characteristics of IRS telephone scams include:
Remember, the IRS will NEVER call you to demand immediate payment for a tax liability!
Just days after the 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the House took a strong stand against President Barack Obama’s plans to release dozens of terrorists being held in military prison at Guantanamo Bay. On Thursday, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5351, which prohibits the transfer of any individual detained at Guantanamo Bay for the remainder of the President’s term in office, by a vote of 244-174. It probably sounds crazy to you that the President would willingly allow terrorists out of prison to return to the battlefield and fight against America and her allies, but that’s exactly what he wants to do.
I’m proud that the House has rejected the President’s ill-advised plan, and I hope that the Senate will follow suit soon. Until that time, however, I remain optimistic that the White House will see the error of this plan and ensure that dangerous criminals who want to terrorize Americans and our allies are kept behind bars where they belong.
The President’s health care law increased taxes on millions of American families and businesses while simultaneously increasing insurance deductibles and making it harder for so many hard-working moms and dads to provide quality health care for their families. But last week, the House passed a bill to eliminate one of the many Obamacare taxes that are harming American families and seniors. Before Obamacare, Americans were able to deduct from their taxes the cost of their healthcare if that cost was equal to or greater than 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. This was meant to help folks who had very high health costs, and it was working.
Unfortunately, in order to squeeze a little more money out of the American people, President Obama increased the 7.5 percent threshold to 10 percent. That tax hike is going to hurt Americans across the board, and it’s especially going to hurt those who can least afford it. The majority of households claiming this credit make under $100,000 – and since the average wage earner in the metro Atlanta area makes roughly $50,000 – you can expect that many of our friends and neighbors are going to benefit from this legislation.
I have the opportunity to speak with America’s veterans regularly, and what I’ve been hearing lately is that while most veterans are happy with the care that they are getting at our VA medical centers, especially from the dedicated health care providers at our local VA clinics and hospitals, there’s always room for improvement. And that’s why the House passed H.R. 5620, the “VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016.” The bill allows the VA Secretary to hold those employees accountable who have engaged in misconduct, specifically by firing or demoting them. It might be impossible to believe that this wasn’t the law before, but thanks to this bill, some employees who are convicted of felonies that influenced their job performance can now have their pensions reduced accordingly. And that’s the right thing to do. If a VA employee kept a veteran from getting the care that he or she deserved through some sort of misconduct, that employee should be punished. Our veterans deserve our respect and our support, and I’m proud to have joined with over 300 of my colleagues in passing this measure.
On Thursday, the Senate passed S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 by a vote on 95-3. Working in the House on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I have already passed a companion bill, and it is ready to be taken to the floor. Though the Senate and House bills are very different, both contain important provisions that will benefit the State of Georgia -- our water infrastructure projects and our critical ports. That’s why I called on Speaker Paul Ryan and House leadership to bring our House bill up for a vote as soon as possible, so that we can pass it and begin the conference committee process to negotiate a final product.
This week the House is expected to move forward on two bills that continue moving forward with our important plan to hold Iran accountable for its actions: H.R. 5931, the “Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act,” and H.R. 5461, the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act.” It’s also possible that the House will consider a Continuing Resolution to fund the government until December when Congress can hopefully come together and pass regular appropriations legislation.
The House Judiciary Committee is also expected to hold a hearing on Wednesday with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to discuss articles of impeachment against him. I appreciate the work that the Judiciary Committee has done so far investigating this situation, and I am certain that my colleagues on the committee will hold a fair and complete hearing.
Member of Congress
This week I led a group of friends and colleagues on the House Floor to push H.R. 25, the FairTax. In fact, even though the bill is already the single most popularly cosponsored piece of fundamental tax reform legislation in Congress, just this past week I added two additional cosponsors to the bill! For too long, the tax code has been the go-to mechanism for Washington to manipulate the behavior of the American people, and as Chairman Mike Conaway – who also happens to be a CPA – pointed out during our time on the floor, one of the biggest benefits of the FairTax is that it eliminates every special interest exemption and loophole found in the current convoluted code. With your continued partnership, I’m confident we’ll reach our goal of making April 15th just another beautiful spring day. You can hear our FairTax discussion by clicking the picture below.
Right now, the tax writing committee in the House, the Ways and Means Committee, is putting forward its vision for tax reform. The Chairman of the committee, Congressman Kevin Brady from Texas, is a FairTax cosponsor and supporter, so under his direction, the Committee has crafted a proposal closer to a FairTax consumption tax model than anything that we have ever seen before. Is it the FairTax in its entirety? No. Does it move us closer than ever before? Absolutely. Will it use FairTax principles and policies to grow American jobs, build the American economy, and end America’s reign as “Worst and Least Competitive Tax Code on the Planet?” Most certainly. Again, it is the best effort I have ever seen come out of the Ways and Means Committee. Why? Well, one reason is that the power of the tax writing committee comes from adding “wisdom” to the tax code through special deductions, credits, carve outs, and exemptions.
Chairman Brady is trying to end that practice exactly as the FairTax eliminates it. You and I and the millions of others who believe that there is a better way than our current tax code must stand with Chairman Brady and push back against efforts to adulterate his proposal with a new round of exceptions and exemptions. President Ronald Reagan simplified the tax code in 1986, but pressure over the subsequent 30 years for a deduction here and a carve out there led to the complicated, convoluted mess that we have now. It’s tempting for each of us to advocate for a particular tax break that is particularly useful to our lives, but following through on that temptation is what’s given us the absolutely mess that we have today. I hope you will stand with me and Chairman Brady against efforts to further pollute this FairTax-inspired blueprint for tax reform.
I voted for a bill last week that you may not have heard much about, but it’s a critical plank of the House Republican agenda to restore accountability and trust in government. It’s called the “Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act,” and it prevents the Department of Justice from requiring, as a condition of a settlement, a corporation or individual to make a donation to an outside group. It may sound innocuous, but what the Obama Administration has been doing is essentially using the law to compel a private business or citizen to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to private ideological groups to advance its liberal agenda.
For instance, the Department of Justice reached an enormous settlement agreement with some of our biggest banks that included $11 billion in “consumer relief”—purported to help struggling homeowners who were harmed by the Great Recession. But in fact, much of the money was allocated to outside groups like La Raza and the National Urban League. This is money that should have gone to the U.S. Treasury to benefit taxpayers, but is instead going to organizations that focus on lobbying, community organizing, and voter registration for Democrats. The bill we passed this week will end this abuse of government power, and I hope the Senate will vote to pass this bill without delay.
The more time that passes by, the clearer it becomes that the Obama Administration’s policy of “strategic patience” towards North Korea has been a strategic failure. The North Korean regime’s latest ballistic missile tests that landed dangerously close to Japanese shores and last Friday’s nuclear test are just the latest examples in a long line of many dangerous and irresponsible acts by the regime. This sort of behavior not only poses a direct threat to North Korea’s neighbors, such as Japan and South Korea, but to America as well. If the international community is going to effectively counter this threat, it absolutely must coordinate its efforts and work together as a team. That’s why I was pleased to see the House unanimously pass H.Res. 634 last week, which emphasizes the importance of the U.S., Japan, and South Korea working together to address the common threat posed by the North Korean regime. While I was happy to see the House send this powerful message of cooperation, it is of the upmost importance that we translate these words into action.
Last week, the National Small Business Association (NSBA) released its 2016 Mid-Year Economic Report, and while there were some positive findings in the report, I was troubled to learn that 41 percent of small business owners said that a lack of capital is hindering their ability to grow or expand operations. When small businesses aren’t growing and creating jobs, the U.S. economy and American families pay the price. As noted in the NSBA report, capital is the lifeblood of any small business, and that’s as true for a small business operating in a major west coast city as it is for a small business operating in the smallest city in the Seventh District. The good news is that the House passed a couple of bills last week that will make it easier and less-expensive for small businesses access to much needed capital.
The first bill, H.R. 2357, will simplify the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s registration and reporting process for small businesses in an effort to reduce compliance costs and increase flexibility during the securities offering process, and it will also establishe a registration exemption for small securities offerings in which the company owners and officers have an existing relationship with potential investors. Another section of H.R. 2357 will prevent the SEC from adding new regulatory burdens on small companies working to raise capital under a simplified securities offering process established by Congress in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012.
The second bill, H.R. 5424, will update the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 to lift costly and duplicative regulatory restrictions on private investment funds, like private equity funds, which are an important source of capital for American businesses. Last Wednesday, a constituent from Lawrenceville visited my office to discuss the positive impact that private equity funding has had on her Lawrenceville-based compression garment manufacturing business, Marena, and as it turns out, Marena isn’t the only Georgia business benefiting from private equity funding. Georgia businesses receive more private equity investment than business in all but four other U.S. states. I’m confident that the positive, pro-growth reforms in H.R. 5424 will spur even more private equity investment in our part of the world and across the nation, and I was pleased to see it pass with strong bipartisan support.
Last week, the Budget Committee held a hearing to discuss a number of issues associated with a federal government office that most folks who aren’t in the medical profession have probably never heard of, but which has enormous power and influence over Medicare and Medicaid policy – the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). CMMI was tasked under the Affordable Care Act with developing and testing health care demonstration projects that could improve patient outcomes and reduce costs, and as health care costs continue to climb, it’s hard to argue that finding innovative ways to deliver quality health care services for less is a bad idea. However, as discussed by several members at the hearing, past demonstration projects have resulted in limited access to health care and medical supplies for some seniors. What we learned at this hearing is that if Congress moves a bill to reverse a demonstration program that is harming seniors, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would score it as a cost to taxpayers. What’s more, CMMI recently began requiring health care providers and patients to participate in demonstration projects. By mandating participation, CMMI is effectively changing the direction of federal health care policy without approval from Congress.
A very recent example that could impact folks in our district, given that it will apply to 75 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries, is CMMI’s new Medicare Part B payment demonstration program, which will modify Medicare reimbursements to physicians for drugs administered in outpatient settings. Should this demonstration program negatively impact Medicare beneficiaries’ access to medication, CBO scoring will make it much harder for Congress to intervene. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to investigate this issue now and find ways to hold CBO and CMMI accountable for ensuring that these projects don’t harm seniors. I encourage you to click on the link below to listen to the hearing and learn more about these issues.
I am always surprised when I meet someone who doesn’t remember exactly where they were or what they were doing on 9/11, but school has restarted and my experience is that almost no child in school this year will remember. Even seniors in high school this year will only have been two years old in September of 2001. So it is up to us to teach them.
There are so many lessons from that day.There are so many heroes of that day. I can’t pretend to know what is most important for our children to learn, but I know that the story of Flight 93 is near the top. The 40 passengers and crew on Flight 93 didn’t sign up to be heroes. They were just average Americans – along with a citizen of Germany, a citizen of Japan, and a citizen of New Zealand – on their vacation or on their way to work. Yet, in a small period of just over 30 minutes, those men and women transformed from vacationers and commuters into victims of a hijacking, into comforters of their families far away, and into heroes for an entire nation fighting back.
Some people know that they want to be protectors and stand in the gap between others and harm, and so they join the military or law enforcement or the fire department. Those people are and will always be role models for our children. But while the heroes of Flight 93 did not pursue the role of protector, in the very short window in which they were presented with the opportunity, they seized it. For all of the heart-breaking or inspiring or enraging lessons that our children can learn from September 11, 2001, among the most important to me is that while America’s greatness may be protected by our Constitution, that greatness emanates from the ordinary people who comprise its citizenry. America’s legacy – and America’s future – is one of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things. I will be forever grateful that such heroes live among us. I will never forget.
This week the House is expected to consider H.R. 3590, the “Halt Tax increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act.” The bill rolls-back an Obamacare tax increase on hard-working Americans who are spending a significant amount of their income on health care expenses. This bill puts more money back in the pockets of our friends and neighbors.
The House is also going to consider H.R. 5620, the “VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act.” The bill will improve the ability of our nation’s veterans to receive timely and accurate decisions on their disability claims, and it will make it easier to fire VA employees who have engaged in gross mismanagement or misconduct. Our veterans deserve our support, and I’m happy that this bill is coming to the floor for a vote.
Member of Congress
Last week, the United States and South Korea took another step closer in our critically important economic, cultural, and military relationship. You’ve likely read or heard about North Korea’s continued testing of missiles and its nuclear ambitions, and in an effort to protect our close ally and good friend from North Korean aggression, the U.S. has placed an advanced, defensive weapons system – the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) – in South Korea. You may think that extending our defense shield across South Korea has nothing to do with Georgia, but the purpose of THAAD is to deter violence; and the dream of a peaceful Korean peninsula is alive and well in the 7th District.
Gwinnett County is home to nearly half of the Korean-American population of Georgia and dozens of Korean-American owned and operated businesses – like Doosan Infracore America Corporation in Suwanee, Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas in Norcross, Kia Motors America parts and distribution center in Lawrenceville, Mega Mart in Duluth, and Shinhan Bank America in Duluth – which are all examples of how our 7th District community is bolstered by our nation’s special relationship with South Korea and Korean Americans. What’s more, the peaceful and economically fruitful environment that THAAD will hopefully bring to South Korea was echoed on August 28th during the One Korea Festival that was held at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. The festival featured traditional Korean dancing and music and was a fantastic celebration of Korean heritage and a showcase of everyone’s hope for a more peaceful future for the Korean peninsula.
With the many tremendous business opportunities in our community that are supported by Koreans and Korean-Americans, as well as the close relationship that I have had the pleasure of cultivating with representatives from the Korean Consul General’s office in Atlanta, I know that America’s defense assistance to South Korea will lead to a more peaceful Asia in the future.
Last week I met with a group of our friends and neighbors who work at Mölnlycke Health Care in Norcross. Mölnlycke is an international medical device provider that specializes in surgical and wound care products, and its U.S. headquarters is right here in the 7th District. Visiting Mölnlycke afforded me an invaluable opportunity to discuss and witness first-hand the real world impact that federal laws and regulations, like Obamacare’s medical device tax and the implementation of the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act, are having in our district. I also learned about a product Mölnlycke has developed to prevent hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, which affect more than 1 million Americans each year and add roughly $10 billion per year to the cost of health care in the U.S. This invention could save Americans billions and bolster the quality of care that our seniors receive, and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to increase the use of these medical devices throughout our health care system.
Rep. Rob Woodall visits with employees at Mölnlycke in Norcross
I’m grateful to the folks at Mölnlycke for the work they do and the time they spent with me last week, and I look forward to using what I learned during this visit and the many others I’ve had over this August district work period to make Washington more responsive to the needs of folks back home.
When it comes to trading ideas and crafting solutions, there’s no substitute for sitting down with local leaders and business owners in our community. Last week I had the opportunity to do just that with some of the folks at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Pruitt Health, Eagle Rock Productions in Norcross, Sawnee EMC, and Georgia Highlands Medical Center in Cumming. As the activity in Washington resumes today, there’s still a great deal we can accomplish together, and that partnership centers around these kinds of discussions. From the need for responsible trade policies to common sense labor regulatory reform, it’s one thing to debate the issues on Capitol Hill, but it is quite another to hear directly from those at home who work day-in, day-out with these policies.
A common thread in my conversations with many of you is the need for tangible tax reform – and there is perhaps no better example of common ground than the desire to make our corporate tax rate globally competitive. This is something President Obama has expressed interest in doing time and again, and it’s certainly something Republicans are eager to accomplish. In fact, the House Republican tax reform proposal leverages that middle ground by proposing a 15% reduction in the overall corporate tax rate. I would much rather eliminate it altogether and bring even more jobs here, but am more than willing to move America in the right direction as much as I can today and coming back tomorrow for more. We have an opportunity to make real progress on these issues, and that’s due to men and women in the 7th District and across the country getting involved, sharing their ideas, and ultimately shaping the policies coming out of DC.
Tonight, Tuesday, September 6th at 7:30pm I am hosting another telephone town hall meeting to share more with you on the topic of tax reform and the process we’re making incorporating 7th District principles into Washington policy discussions. I hope that you will be able to take a few moments to join the conversation.
Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Tuesday, September 6th
7:30PM – 8:00PM
Dial-In Number: (877) 229-8493
This week will be a busy week in the House as we work to move bills dealing with small business investment, energy security, litigation reform, foreign policy, and more. Among these bills are large ones and small ones, but each will make a difference for the American economy or for American families. One step at the time, together we are making a difference.
Member of Congress
Here at home, in Washington, and all across the country we often have the discussion about the benefits of keeping education at the local level, but in the 7th District, we have the distinct advantage of being able to point to very real, very significant success using that approach. Both Forsyth and Gwinnett County schools are highly regarded in Georgia and across the nation as high-achieving, results-oriented systems – and that isn’t due to a federal mandate, but rather the commitment of our local educators and the hard-work of our students. You may have seen in the news last week that Forsyth County seniors achieved the highest composite ACT scores of any district in the state while besting the state and national averages. Their neighbor to the south – Gwinnett County schools – is no stranger to national recognition as it has twice been the recipient of the Broad Prize for the best urban education system in the country, and also outpaced the state and national ACT average composite score this year.
These things don’t just happen. They are tangible products stemming from the vision, dedication, and local partnership we’ve crafted in our community. The results speak for themselves, and of course, the number one priority is preparing our young people for the next phase of their lives, but the added benefit is that any school system around the state or country that may be less successful can look to our model as an example. This fundamental principle is why you and I work together to take 7th District values to Washington.
There are many voices in the conversation, but we’re making progress, and you need look no further than the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which reauthorized of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and was touted as the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century. Securing a Presidential signature on an education reform bill that sent so much decision-making authority back home to parents, teachers, and communities and empowered them to develop the best systems for them was one of our biggest legislative victories of the 114th Congress, and the repeated education successes from counties in the 7th District prove that it was the right thing to do. These are the kinds of changes you and I are implementing together – and all the while we’re delivering on the crucial responsibility to provide the next generation of leaders with choice and opportunity in education.
You can’t talk about the success of our students without also looking to the tremendous teachers working day-in and day-out preparing each young person with the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence to embrace the next challenge or chapter – whatever it may be. Just as the hard work of our students has garnered national attention, so too has that of our teachers. One example in particular is Cindy Apley Rose. Ms. Rose currently teaches mathematics at Couch Middle School in Grayson, but has dedicated her entire career to the students of Gwinnett County. She was recently named as a winner of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching – one of only 213 nationwide – and will be recognized in Washington, D.C., in coming weeks.
It’s a remarkable achievement to have a career centered on empowering young people, and that is exactly what Ms. Rose personifies. Her accomplishment is certainly in the impact she has had on countless individual students, but I couldn’t be more pleased to see that dedication recognized at a national level with this award. Thank you to Ms. Rose and all our amazing educators throughout the 7th District.
It’s no secret that America has her fair share of challenges, but I am constantly reminded that we live in a truly amazing time now and even better days for our nation lay ahead. For instance, I am the Republican chairman of the Congressional Robotics Caucus, and robotics is one of the most promising and exciting fields in science today. From cars that can drive themselves to microbots that can scrape plaque off an artery to prevent heart attacks, there is plenty of amazing innovation going on in this country. The world’s leading mechanical engineers are making great strides in fields like medicine, transportation, and agriculture, and perhaps more importantly, the next generation of science superstars are well on their way, including students right here in the 7th District who were recently invited to participate in an international robotics competition in Indiana. I am committed to making sure that the federal government promotes these important advancements rather than hinders them, and I will continue to do that as the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Robotics Caucus.
As we look toward the future, we are blessed to have a brand new class of high school seniors who are just beginning their final year in high school and who are looking forward to college. While many of them may stay in Georgia and pursue an education and a career closer to home, there are some among us who look at the horizon and envision themselves serving others in the military. Our nation’s Armed Forces are the greatest fighting force the world has ever known, and thankfully, those volunteers who keep the peace around the world and protect our lives here at home are drawn from our own neighborhoods.
The 7th District of Georgia is honored to have a number of exceptional students who have been nominated and who are attending our nation’s service academies – the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Air Force Academy in Colorado, the Naval Academy in Maryland, and the Merchant Marine Academy in New York. These academies require a Congressional Nomination to attend, and I’ll tell you, choosing students to nominate is the most difficult and most rewarding part of my job. Our community’s young people are leaders, and every student who is nominated to attend an academy has the potential to lead our nation in the future.
If you are a student or you know a student who is considering military service, please visit my website to learn more about the eligibility qualifications and the application procedure for receiving a nomination.
Member of Congress
Tax reform may not be everyone’s passion, but it’s one of those issues that seems to always be at the forefront of our national conversation — certainly in a presidential election year. Whether you’re a teenager receiving your first paycheck, a small business owner weighing the implications of hiring another employee, or the leader of a billion-dollar corporation determining where to build your next manufacturing plant, the tax code impacts you. Irrespective of your politics, it directly affects you and your family in one way or another.
As Americans, we have differing opinions about exactly how we should reform our tax code, but there is agreement that we need a simpler system that rewards hard work and encourages economic growth. So how do we get there? While some advocate nibbling around the edges of a broken and punitive income tax system, I want to replace it entirely with the FairTax (H.R. 25). This is a bill that I introduced to rip our destructive tax code out by its roots, dismantle the IRS as we know it, and implement a simple, one-time national retail sales tax on all new goods and services. The FairTax repeals the payroll tax — the largest tax that 80 percent of American families pay. It repeals estate taxes, corporate taxes, and every single existing tax loophole, exemption and carve-out. By ending favoritism in the tax code we also end Washington’s ability to manipulate the American people through the tax code.
I believe in the FairTax as the foundation for a new era of jobs and prosperity in America. While I don’t currently have the votes in Congress or the support of the President to enact the FairTax, I’m as confident as ever that the day will come. And if you have any doubt, you need look no further than today to see the impact that FairTax supporters across the country have had in shaping the tax reform conversation. Just last month, for example, House Republicans — under the leadership of Ways and Means Committee Chairman and FairTax co-sponsor Kevin Brady — released a tax plan with broad support that has the fingerprints of the FairTax all over it. From dismantling the IRS, permanently repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and Estate Tax, drastically simplifying tax compliance for American families and more, many core principles of the FairTax are now on the verge of becoming law.
The understanding that businesses don’t pay taxes but rather merely collect them in the form of higher costs to their consumers or lower wages to their employees is a key tenet of the FairTax, and I’m happy to say the House tax reform plan takes an immediate step towards relieving this burden. Small businesses facing a rate as high as 44.6 percent today would see a reduction to 25 percent under the plan, and the full expensing of capital investments would be the norm. The plan ends America’s excessively high, job-killing corporate tax rate and reduces it to 20 percent. I’d certainly prefer a rate of zero so that we could be competitive for even more jobs, but I’m more than willing to move America in the right direction as much as I can today — and then I will come back tomorrow and push for more.
There is no good reason why America should rank last among the world’s developed nations in tax competitiveness, but yet that’s where we stand. While frustrating, America’s plight is far from hopeless. We put ourselves in this punitive position by way of a flawed, misguided tax code, and we can dig ourselves out of this hole by crafting reforms that leverage the American people’s entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic. For too long we have pushed businesses away from our shores; it’s time we welcome them instead. That’s why the House tax reform plan also removes the additional tax penalty associated with American businesses repatriating foreign profits to the United States. Simple, common sense measures such as these will help to unleash the American economic engine, and ultimately benefit everyone on the economic ladder.
We have a tremendous opportunity to accomplish pro-growth tax reform unlike anything we’ve seen in decades, and I couldn’t be prouder of the partnership that has gotten us to this point. I’m excited about what is happening in Washington and all across the country because it reaffirms that the American people are absolutely still in charge. Whether tax reform, national security, or myriad other issues, we as a people are involved; we’re engaging our elected leaders as well as our neighbors; and we’re making a difference in the kind of policies coming out of Washington.
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., represents the 7th Congressional District, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and serves as chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.Read More
As Obamacare failures continue to mount, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, Aetna, announced it will end coverage for Affordable Care Act exchanges in another 10 states this year, leaving Aetna exchange plans available to consumers in only 4 remaining states. This means that the roughly 80,000 Aetna customers in Georgia who have purchased these exchange plans will have to find another health insurance option in 2017. And Aetna isn’t alone. Cigna and United Healthcare have also indicated their desire to leave many state exchanges, including Cigna in Georgia, next year. The dwindling number of available plans will certainly lead to higher prices and fewer choices for Georgians in rural areas of our state who are already struggling to make ends meet and care for their families. We have more choices than most in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, but for our neighbors in south Georgia, for example, choices may be nearly non-existent.
What’s most concerning, however, is that with state exchanges failing rapidly, the Obama Administration is simply doubling-down on its failed policies rather than recognizing that government-run marketplaces aren’t really marketplaces at all and moving us back closer to a traditional free market-based structure where insurers want to compete for business. The Administration is being pressed by the left to constrain markets even further, of course, as Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) wants to do away with choices altogether. But experience shows that single payer health care would only cost us more and provide us less. That’s why even Democrats in Congress rejected this option!
There is a better way, and the House is working together to move in that direction. As the prices continue to rise and choices continue to shrink in the President’s health care plan, my hope is that if this President—and if not, the next President will work with us on solutions. Together, with solutions like those in the House GOP’s health care alternative, we can ensure coverage for who need it and choice for those who want it.
CLICK BELOW as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) discusses the tenets of our Republican health care plan and why it’s better than the failed ACA.
Another week has gone by, and with it came yet another troubling foreign policy decision by the President. Last week, the President released 15 dangerous prisoners from the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the custody of the United Arab Emirates, marking the single largest transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo under the President’s watch. Ever since he took office, President Obama has dogmatically pursued his vision to close Guantanamo Bay, and it has become increasingly clear that attempting to fulfill a 7-year old campaign promise has come at the expense of good policymaking and will jeopardize American lives and national security in the process. This isn’t simply an empty assertion, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has reported that 30 percent of former Guantanamo prisoners are confirmed or suspected of reengaging in terrorism, and there have been recent reports of former detainees being involved in an ISIS-affiliated terror plot and rejoining Al Qaeda’s leadership.
The simple truth is that these detainees were placed in Guantanamo Bay for a good reason. Georgia, and specifically the Atlanta metro area, is a target for terrorism. We are the largest, most economically productive region in the southeast, and with major events -- from sports competitions to trade shows -- brining millions of people from around the country and the world to the metro area every year, Georgians should be especially concerned about this short-sighted, unsafe strategy by the President. The American people deserve a President whose top priority is national security; not fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of it.
Tax reform may not be everyone’s passion, but it’s one of those issues that seems to always be at the forefront of our national conversation – certainly in a presidential election year. Whether you’re a teenager receiving your first paycheck, a small business owner weighing the implications of hiring another employee, or the leader of a billion-dollar corporation determining where to build your next manufacturing plant, the tax code impacts you. READ MORE FROM MY RECENT EDITORIAL ON THE PROGRESS WE’RE MAKING TOGETHER.
From the time the Wall Street Journal first reported that the Obama Administration sent what amounted to a $400 million cash payment to Iran in an unmarked cargo plane, many have questioned the Administration’s motivation – believing it to be ransom for American hostages. The Administration has repeatedly denied that allegation, claiming there was absolutely no quid pro quo connection between the two events, but last week, State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged the money was withheld for ‘leverage’ until the Americans’ release. While we can debate the semantics of the term used to describe the act, the fact remains, this feels an awful lot like ransom and sets a very dangerous precedent. Despite the President’s own Justice Department raising concerns that the payment would indicate a willingness by the United States to pay large sums for detained citizens, it is now clear that the funds were directly correlated to their release. Not only does this put Americans at greater risk of being detained abroad, but it further damages their trust and confidence in government. From national security to transparency, the American people deserve better.
I want to bring some good news to you this week about how our friends and neighbors in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are helping each other succeed. We're so blessed in our part of the world to have corporate citizens and community activists that take an active interest in our area and want to make our lives better. But that's certainly the case with Jackson EMC and the Forsyth County Arts Alliance. Last week, both of these groups stepped up to the plate and provided thousands of dollars in grant money to local organizations that are serving our neighbors. The investments that these community leaders are making will last for years to come, and I want to thank them for helping lead the way to a better 7th District.
Member of Congress
I want to take a moment this week to draw your attention to something that affects every American household and business, including hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors in the 7th District of Georgia: taxes. Too often, the farther away from April 15th we get, the less we think about the scourge that is our income tax code, but if you know anything about me, you know that I have a passion for tax reform.
The U.S. tax code is one of those self-inflicted wounds that restricts the opportunity of every American family and every American small business. The world is getting smaller; money can move quickly from one nation to the next; businesses can move quickly from one nation to the next; and all the while, America is rated as having the single most punitive and destructive tax code on the planet. We both know that America can do better.
The House has already been at work improving the code. In fact, believe it or not, in this Congress, we have been able to make tax cuts permanent that even President Bush couldn’t push through in his tenure. But when America still ranks nearly last among the world’s developed nations in tax competitiveness, and American jobs and investments continue moving to nations with less burdensome tax codes, it’s never been clearer that tinkering with our tax code won’t get us the results we need. It’s time for wholesale reform, and we are closer than ever to achieving that goal!
I’ve long been an advocate for throwing out our current tax code and starting over with the FairTax, which is a tax reform plan that would eliminate our income tax system – along with the payroll tax and every loophole and deduction – and replace it with a consumption tax. While there aren’t 218 votes in the House or the 60 votes in the Senate to pass the entire FairTax bill, there is still some very good and encouraging news to share. Our work has not gone unnoticed, and in fact, the FairTax movement has had an extremely significant impact on the tax reform debate and the tax reform blueprint released by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX).
In fact, there are a number of fundamental FairTax principles in his plan. The plan even refers to the abolition of the IRS exactly as it’s envisioned in the FairTax plan, labeling the FairTax as one of several “serious ideas for pro-growth tax reform.” On the individual side of the code, the blueprint consolidates the current seven tax brackets into three. The blueprint takes a page out of the FairTax plan by totally eliminating the estate and gift taxes, the alternative minimum tax (AMT), and every itemized tax deduction except those for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The House blueprint also alters the treatment of capital gains, dividends, and interest income in an effort to encourage – rather than punish – savings and investment, and it simplifies tax filing for families by merging the five basic family deductions into two and streamlining the more than one dozen current education tax benefits. The blueprint’s elimination and consolidation of so many tax credits and deductions should enable Americans to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard. The next step is to pass the rest of the FairTax and eliminate the postcard too, and we are making real progress toward that goal.
FairTax supporters understand that business taxes are simply hidden taxes on consumers, and it’s exciting that the House tax reform plan embraces that logic. By reducing these hidden taxes on consumers, Americans will see stronger economic growth, more jobs, and higher wages. The blueprint begins by reducing the tax rate on small businesses organized as pass-through entities from a rate as high as 44.6 percent to 25 percent and provides immediate, full expensing for the cost of capital investments. It then tackles our job-killing corporate tax system by reducing the overall rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, repealing the corporate AMT, and eliminating every business tax credit except the R&D tax credit. The House tax reform plan also enacts a deemed repatriation for all deferred corporate profits at a one-time rate of 8.75 percent and moves the U.S. to a fully territorial system, meaning U.S. companies could bring foreign earned profits back home to invest without paying additional U.S. taxes.
I hope that you will take a closer look at the House tax reform blueprint and share your feedback. And if you are a fellow FairTax supporter, you should feel affirmed that the fingerprints of the FairTax are all over this reform plan. Like me, many people want all of the FairTax right now, but I’m willing to get it a piece a time as well. It’s certain that in the coming months, folks from Main Street to K Street will come to Capitol Hill in an effort to reclaim abolished exceptions, exemptions, carve outs, and favors. Resisting that pressure and preserving the FairTax-principled victories in the House blueprint is essential if we are going to ensure that America keeps moving forward.
As such, I encourage you to "save the date" on your calendars now for my next telephone town hall meeting on September 6th at 7:30pm. We will discuss the House tax reform blueprint, the FairTax, and any other tax reform ideas that you have. You can find further information on my website soon. Please join me!
Member of Congress
1725 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Rob Woodall serves the 7th district of GA in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the House Committee on Rules, the House Budget Committee, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Rob also serves as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee’s Budget and Spending Task Force.
Rob was born and raised in Georgia, graduated from Marist School in 1988, attended Furman University for his undergraduate degree and received his law degree from the University of Georgia
Rob first came to public service as a staffer for then Congressman John Linder serving as his Chief of Staff and was elected to Congress in 2010.
Rob’s political philosophy is guided by the principles of freedom, and his proudest accomplishment is helping Seventh District families one at a time through casework and creating a Congressional office that functions for the people.
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