WASHINGTON, DC – Today, members of the U.S. House Georgia Delegation applauded President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nomination of former Georgia Governor George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The following delegation members issued statements on President-elect Trump’s choice of Sonny Perdue for Secretary of Agriculture:
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-07): “Georgians are well aware of Governor Perdue’s heart for service, and I have no doubt he will bring that same spirit and commitment to this new role. Having served as Governor of Georgia, whose number one industry is agriculture, his knowledge and experience in both the public and private sectors make him an excellent choice to lead the Department of Agriculture. It makes me very proud to see the role Georgia will be playing in moving America forward, and I look forward to partnering with him.”
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01): “Former Governor Sonny Perdue is the perfect choice to lead the Department of Agriculture. As the top industry in our state, Georgians know how important agriculture is. As a two-term Governor of Georgia, Sonny has already proven himself to be a strong leader who will fight to ensure the agriculture industry is able to accomplish their important work. The hard work of our farmers, ranchers, and producers is critical to the production of the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world and I look forward to working with former Governor Perdue to ensure Washington doesn’t stand in their way.”
U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson (GA-03): “Sonny is an excellent choice to be the next Secretary of Agriculture. His experience as a veterinarian combined with his executive experience as a two-term governor make him uniquely qualified to lead the USDA. I have personally had the honor of working alongside Governor Perdue to create thousands of new jobs in Georgia. Sonny has always been committed to making sure businesses, and especially agriculture in Georgia, are successful. I look forward to working with him as the Secretary of Agriculture.”
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08), Member of the House Committee on Agriculture and Chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit: “America’s will have a great Secretary of Agriculture in Sonny Perdue, and I am confident Sonny will be an excellent representative of our state in his service to our country’s agriculture communities. Agriculture is Georgia’s leading industry, so we’re glad to have someone who understands our state’s agricultural needs and act as a champion for the needs of our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (GA-09): “Sonny Perdue is an outstanding choice for Secretary of Agriculture. The experience he brings to that role will a boon to agricultural communities from coast to coast, including the poultry industry, which is a key part of Georgia’s livelihood.”
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (GA-10): “Given his executive experience as a two-term Governor and his background as an agribusiness owner, Sonny Perdue is an outstanding choice to lead the Department of Agriculture. During his tenure as Governor, he shaped an agricultural policy that helped usher in a new era of economic growth. Agriculture remains the top industry in Georgia, and I look forward to working with Sonny as Secretary of Agriculture to continue supporting our farming communities.”
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (GA-11): “It’s great to see my friend, former Governor Sonny Perdue, selected to serve as our next Agriculture Secretary. His proven conservative leadership on Georgia’s agricultural interests teamed with his business background makes him an excellent choice to lead this department.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen (GA-12), Member of the House Committee on Agriculture: “From the farm he grew up on in Perry, Georgia to his service in the U.S. Air Force, veterinary and agribusiness career, and later Governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue makes an excellent and obvious choice for the next Secretary of Agriculture. Hailing from a state like Georgia, where agriculture is our number one industry, I am confident in Sonny’s ability to represent the interests of all American agriculture. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I look forward to his leadership and working with him to advance the needs of our farmers and the industry as a whole.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (GA-14): “Governor Perdue is the perfect choice to lead the Agriculture Department. Between his work as a veterinarian and agribusiness owner to his eight years as governor, he’s walked the fields of Georgia to the halls of the executive office. He has the right combination of experience, and I have no doubt that Sonny will serve the American people well.”
This week America will celebrate our 58th Presidential Inauguration. While the limited number of tickets available to view the Inauguration have all been promised to our friends and neighbors from the 7th District, you can view the Inauguration from the National Mall on giant television screens without a ticket, if your family wants to be present. Additionally, my office is hosting an Inauguration Day reception in Room 2045 of the Rayburn House Office Building directly across the street from the U.S. Capitol on January 20th from 8:00am-3:00pm. If you’re going to be in Washington, D.C., and you’d like a warm place to gather for a moment or even to stay and watch the festivities on TV, please RSVP to Laney Copeland on my staff at InaugurationReception.GA07@mail.house.gov with the total number of guests in your group along with each attendee’s full name, address, and phone number by January 6th. While watching from your living room is a powerful experience, watching from the Mall or from the Capitol office buildings is powerful too. If you are thinking of taking your family north for the event, please let me know so that we will have an opportunity to visit.
For more information about the Inauguration, please visit the 58th Presidential Inauguration Committee’s website or call my office at (202) 225-4272.
Last week, Congress began the process of reforming our health care system so that more Americans have access to quality, affordable health care by approving the FY2017 budget resolution and initiating what’s known as the budget reconciliation process. As many of you may recall, budget reconciliation is a budget enforcement tool that allows Congress to move, via a simple majority vote in both chambers, legislation that brings revenue and spending levels in line with policy objectives. The reconciliation instructions included in the FY2017 budget resolution direct certain House and Senate committees to develop legislation to reduce the federal deficit by at least $4 billion by repealing the most damaging parts of Obamacare.
As soon as the specified House and Senate committees complete work on their respective bills, the bills will be packaged together and approved by the House Budget Committee, on which I sit, and sent to the full House for consideration. If approved by the House, the reconciliation bill will move to the Senate where it cannot be filibustered. I look forward to working with my House colleagues in the coming weeks to deliver on our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with a better health care reform bill. As you all have heard me say before, repealing and replacing Obamacare will be a difficult and lengthy process, but if we work together, I’m confident that we can advance positive solutions and create a health care system in America that is second to none. I hope that you all will share your thoughts and ideas with me throughout this important debate.
On Tuesday, I filed the paperwork to officially add Representative Matt Gaetz (FL-1) as the latest cosponsor of H.R. 25, the FairTax. Representative Gaetz, a freshman member of Congress, was elected in November 2016 and understands what we understand – the American people are calling for transformational tax reform that will ignite America’s economy and lift the ceiling of economic opportunity for families across the nation. I’m proud to have his support and will continue working to grow our momentum for historic tax reform in the coming weeks.
If you’ve ever been on hold with the IRS, used a website of a federal agency, or tried to make an appointment with the VA, you are familiar with how desperate the federal government is to update and modernize our technological capabilities. With my support, the House again passed H.R. 39, the “TALENT Act” on Tuesday to make permanent the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) Program. Under the PIF program, experts in the private sector are invited to serve in executive agencies from six months to two years to improve technology and develop innovative techniques to address the technological challenges we face. I am always blown away by the ingenuity of the private sector tech firms in our district and university students right here in Georgia, and I am eager to have their minds contribute to the service of their fellow Americans.
In that vein, I want to highlight a bill I cosponsored that passed the House this week, H.R. 321, the “INSPIRE Women Act.” We all know that bolstering our nation’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce with highly educated students is good for America. The bill calls on NASA to develop a plan for facilitating and supporting retired astronauts, scientists, and engineers to engage with K-12 female students to inspire them to consider making a STEM field their career of choice. Why focus on young women? Because there are more women enrolled as undergraduates at four-year colleges in the United States than men, and that’s at a time when we have more Americans going to college than ever before. Unfortunately, only 25 percent of our STEM workforce is made-up of women. Clearly, we have talented women in colleges and universities across the country, and getting them interested and involved in STEM education is going to be good for America.
As you saw with the TALENT Act, our nation is in dire need of highly-educated and qualified technology experts. We are being hacked by foreign governments. Our military needs advanced weapons and training systems. Our economy needs innovative ways to boost manufacturing and trade. Our scientists need to discover new cures for deadly diseases. And the INSPIRE Women Act is a fantastic way for our nation to grow those innovators right here at home.
In just the second week of the 115th Congress, the House has passed its third measure to curtail overly-burdensome federal regulations, H.R. 5, the “Regulatory Accountability Act.” While the bills passed last week largely scale back the overreach of the Obama Administration, H.R. 5 combines six bills passed last Congress which serve as guidelines for federal agency rule-making authority moving forward, and it will ensure that Washington bureaucrats are listening if and when the American people offer new facts, ideas, and alternative regulatory approaches. I agree with my colleagues that these are the kinds of reforms that will make America more competitive in the global economy, and my hope is that the Senate quickly passes H.R. 5 and the other regulatory relief measures the House has already approved this year so that they can be waiting on President-elect Trump’s desk once he is sworn into office.
On Friday, the House joined the Senate in passing S. 84, which waives the 7-year statutory waiting period for retired Marine General James Mattis to be eligible for confirmation as our nation’s next Secretary of Defense. The principle of civilian control of the military comes directly from our Founding Fathers, and that’s why waiving the prohibition on former military members being in charge of the Defense Department is such a major issue. The Constitution subordinates the military to our elected officials in the Legislative and Executive Branches, and that’s the way it should be. In fact, George Washington himself made it clear to all of us that the military was never meant to be more powerful than the elected representatives of the people.
If you’ve ever visited the U.S. Capitol, you might remember seeing a painting in the Rotunda that depicts one of the most important scenes in early American life. On December 23, 1783, the most powerful man in America – General George Washington – appeared in the Maryland State House in Annapolis to resign his commission as Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army to the Continental Congress. Scholars have long treated this humble act as one of the most significant in our nation’s history and a watershed moment in firmly establishing civilian authority over the military.
Like so many of you, I reverently uphold the values of our Constitution and the wisdom of George Washington, and I absolutely believe that this type of waiver is one that should never become common-place. We’ve only waived the “cooling off” period once in our history, and that’s as it should be. Mr. Mattis is exceptionally well-qualified to lead our Defense Department, and his unique talents are the reason that S. 84 passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. While I look forward to working with Mr. Mattis as our nation continues fighting terrorism abroad, I will certainly remember this once-in-a-generation waiver as being an anomaly, and I remain committed to supporting civilian military control in the future.
Member of Congress
(Washington, DC) – Today, Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-07) issued the following statement regarding his support of the House-passed budget resolution for fiscal year 2017 (S. Con. Res. 3). The measure initiates the budget process known as reconciliation that will be utilized to repeal Obamacare.
“Beginning with the broken process by which it was rammed through Congress, Obamacare has failed the American people, and today Congress took the first step to initiate the process of breathing life back into local health care markets, as more than a third of the counties in America have been limited to a single insurance company choice on the Obamacare exchange. We are committed to replacing Obamacare’s failed vision of ‘government knows best’ with the proven model of ‘family knows best.’ There is much left to do as we work to free those American families trapped in the current spiral of rising costs and shrinking choices, but together, you and I will put patients back in control.”
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.
The House took a strong and necessary stand last week against continued aggression from the United Nations targeting our nation’s friend and ally Israel. As many of us have seen reported by the Associated Press and other news agencies in recent weeks, the United Nations has taken great care in rebuking Israel in approximately 20 resolutions in 2016, while largely ignoring the sometimes reprehensible actions of human rights violators like Syria, North Korea, and Iran. What’s worse, when the United Nations Security Council passed its most recent anti-Israel resolution on December 23rd, the United States’ Ambassador, under the direction of President Obama, abstained from voting; meaning that the United States did not object to the resolution calling Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, illegally “occupied territory.” Thankfully, 342 members of the House of Representatives – an overwhelming, bipartisan majority – sent a clear and unmistakable message to President Obama, the United Nations, and Israel that under a new presidential administration, the United States Congress would not stand still while Israel is rhetorically attacked, and in fact, we will stand together in calling on the United Nations to repeal its recent resolution and continue working toward a peaceful, two-state solution.
On Thursday, the House took a significant step to roll-back countless onerous regulations and decrease the size of the Federal government by passing H.R. 26, the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2017.” Rules enacted by unelected bureaucrats at federal agencies cost the American economy almost $2 trillion in compliance costs. This bill takes back Congress’ authority to approve major rules drafted by these agencies, allowing Americans a greater voice in determining the efficacy of regulations before enactment. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the 115th Congress to ensure only the most sensible rules are approved so that together, we can build a stronger economy for our country.
No president should be allowed to push through a flood of hurried regulations in the last days of his presidency in an effort to bypass Congress, which is why on Wednesday, I supported the passage of H.R. 21, the “Midnight Rules Relief Act.” Rather than considering one regulation at a time, this bill will empower Congress to disapprove multiple, hastily constructed rules submitted for review in the last 60 legislative days of a president’s final term. This expedites the review process not only for the burdensome regulations put in place by the Obama Administration, but for any future administration that attempts to supplant Congressional authority and jam through policies fitting his or her personal agenda. The American people deserve better than regulations snuck through in the dark of night, and that’s what this new Congress is going to give them.
Last week, Congress took the first step towards reversing a troubling trend in America: rising health insurance premiums and deductibles coupled with fewer choices and restricted access to care. As you all may have heard, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced a resolution that, if approved by simple majorities in the House and Senate, will direct committees in both chambers to produce legislation before the end of this month to dismantle Obamacare. Additionally, the resolution paves the way for passage of a replacement health care reform proposal, such as House Republicans’ A Better Way Health Care Reform Blueprint, which will ensure more hard-working Americans have access to affordable, quality health care at reasonable prices. I expect the Senate to consider the resolution early this week, and the House will follow suit shortly thereafter. While repealing and replacing Obamacare will not be a quick and easy task, I’m confident that we will be successful in this important endeavor if we work together, and I hope you all will share your thoughts and ideas with me in the coming days and months.
This week the House is continuing to charge ahead with the business of the American people. I’m so proud that with a Republican getting ready to move into the White House, that House Republicans have continued our mission to claw-back legislative power to the Article I Congress that we have, for too long, ceded to the Executive Branch. Last week we passed the REINS Act, and this week, we’ll pass more legislation to hold the upcoming President’s administration accountable to the American people.
You can CLICK HERE to watch the Rules Committee’s hearing on the following bills on Monday afternoon at 5pm and Tuesday afternoon at 3pm.
Member of Congress
A new year is upon us, and we all know just how much promise 2017 holds. I am proud to tell you that your Congress isn’t wasting any time getting started. The U.S. Constitution allows the new Congress to begin moving legislation as early January 3rd, so we are convening today and beginning to move bills forward.
The first thing that we’ll do this week is to fulfill our Constitutional duty to convene the 115th Congress. On Tuesday, 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate are going to take the oath of office, and for the 115th time, our nation will see a new Congress go to work. If you are interested, I encourage you to tune-in to CSPAN today. The session will begin at noon with prayer and the pledge. At about 2pm we will elect a Speaker of the House, and at about 2:30pm, the Speaker will administer the oath of office to the full House. I can tell you without reservation that standing on the House floor and promising to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” is one of the greatest privileges of my life, and I thank you for allowing me to be your voice to Congress.
This week, the House will begin taking up some important legislation. The House will begin by passing new rules for how we will conduct our business for the next two years – something that we do at the beginning of every new Congress. Then we’ll move to a bill that we’ve passed before in the House, but that the Senate and the President have never before supported – the REINS Act. This bill, which is sponsored this year by my very good friend, Representative Doug Collins from Georgia’s 9th District, ensures that any big and expensive regulations coming from the executive branch will go into effect only if specifically approved by Congress. You’ve heard about some of these massive regulations in the past – like the waters of the United States rule, the clean power plant rule, and more – that did not follow Congressional intent and thus had dramatically negative economic consequences for our nation. With the REINS Act, Congress is ensuring that your elected representatives—rather than unelected bureaucrats—are making the final decisions about how regulations affect your businesses and your livelihoods.
I also expect that the House this week will pass a resolution to make a serious and needed statement about President Obama’s recent decision to turn his back on our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel. You might have heard that the United Nations’ Security Council passed a resolution condemning the existence and continued construction of Israeli settlements in areas that Israel took control of after the 1967 war, including settlements in East Jerusalem. Instead of vetoing the resolution – as the United States has done many times before – President Obama’s United Nations Ambassador abstained from voting altogether. The issue of control over Jerusalem is one that must ultimately be decided bilaterally between Israel and the Palestinians as they continue to work toward a peaceful solution. The United Nations, with the acquiescence of the United States, is putting its collective thumb on the scale in favor of the Palestinians, and that is wrong. I’m happy to say that the House will certainly come forward to support Israel now and in the future.
As we look forward to the first few weeks and months of this new Congress, I know that all of my colleagues are ready to work hard for the American people, and we have some important legislation that needs to be addressed right away. Very quickly, we will complete the fiscal year 2017 (FY17) budget process, and shortly after that, we will take up the FY18 budget process, ensuring that Congress and our new President will not encounter unnecessary delays. Both of these budget bills will be followed by “reconciliation bills”—bills that allow Congress to avoid the filibuster on measures that will save American taxpayer dollars and balance spending on our mandatory spending programs, like Obamacare. Many of these early bills will help to add confidence to a growing American economy, and I look forward to your continued counsel as Congress works to restore more freedom and opportunity.
Every four years, Washington, D.C., comes alive on Inauguration Day. Whether it’s sunny and bright or snowing and cold, Inauguration Day is something that every American can be proud of. It’s a celebration of America’s continued experiment in self-governance; an experiment that began with the inauguration of our very first president in 1789, and continues to this day. On January 20th, we will come together as Americans from across the country to celebrate our 45th President, and I hope that you will tune in to participate.
While the limited number of tickets available to view the Inauguration have all been given out, you can view the Inauguration from the National Mall on giant television screens without a ticket, if your family wants to be present. Additionally, my office is hosting an Inauguration Day reception in Room 2043 of the Rayburn House Office Building directly across the street from the U.S. Capitol on January 20th from 8:00am-3:00pm. If you’re going to be in Washington, D.C., and you’d like a warm place to gather for a moment or even to stay and watch the festivities on TV, please RSVP to Laney Copeland on my staff at InaugurationReception.GA07@mail.house.gov with the total number of guests in your group along with each attendee’s full name, address, and phone number by January 6th. While watching from your living room is a powerful experience, watching from the Mall or from the Capitol office buildings is powerful too. If you are thinking of taking your family north for the event, please let me know so that we will have an opportunity to visit.
For more information about the Inauguration, please visit the 58th Presidential Inauguration Committee’s website or call my office at (202) 225-4272.
I hope that your new year is off to a wonderful start. 2017 will be full of opportunities, and together, we will ensure that we seize each one!
Member of Congress
The secret ingredient for a strong economy isn’t a secret at all for those of us here in the 7th District; rather, it begins right here at home with entrepreneurs and risk takers who take a chance on us our neighbors. When our local infrastructure, tax policy, and regulatory climates welcome big ideas, entrepreneurial spirit, and innovation, the fertile ground of free enterprise allows ideas to grow. This recipe is thriving in the 7th District, and it seems like new business ribbon cuttings are happening every day. Forsyth County celebrated its partnership between family, community, and business with yet another new ribbon cutting, with Fermob USA’s new facility in Cumming. As an international furniture manufacturing company, Fermob could have located anywhere in North America, but because of who we are as a community and what we have to offer new employers, they have chosen Forsyth County to be their new home, and we’re happy to have them.
Rep. Rob Woodall attends Fermob USA's new facility grand opening in Cumming
As we move into 2017, the 115th Congress, and a new Administration, we have an opportunity to reimagine the role of government and to implement much needed fundamental tax and regulatory reform at the federal level – including drastically reforming our corporate tax code which currently sits among the world’s worst – and I’m eager to continue the work we began in the 114th Congress. Under Speaker Paul Ryan, House Republicans have offered our vision – A Better Way – for these reforms, but sadly we did not have a willing partner in the White House to move these ideas forward. I’m confident that will change in January, and American businesses and workers will receive the much needed relief they deserve. Just as our state and local policies make our state and community more appealing than others, by following the example in Washington that we’re setting here at home, we can once again make America the most appealing country in which to do business. Of course, as you know, I believe H.R. 25, the FairTax, gets us there the quickest, but I’m more than willing to move the country in the right direction as much as I can today – and continue the work tomorrow.
Because the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is such a critical measure, it makes perfect sense that our local media outlets have spent so much time focused on this newly signed law. I know we’ve talked about Georgia’s victories in this bill already, but it bears repeating how well we can do when we work together. I led the charge in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and I was so pleased to be joined in this fight by every one of my Georgia colleagues from both sides of the aisle and from both sides of the U.S. Capitol. Georgia’s success all across the state – from Lake Lanier to the Port of Savannah – is thanks to this team effort, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the future to push Georgia’s success forward.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a second ribbon cutting in our district last week; this one in Gwinnett County. It was for Suniva, which is America’s leading manufacturer of high-efficiency, affordable photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and modules. As you all will recall, Suniva got its start locally at the University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education (UCEP) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and its U.S. manufacturing headquarters is located right here in the 7th District. The ribbon cutting ceremony was in honor of Suniva’s decision to further invest in our community with an expansion that tripled the size of its Norcross facility. It’s been an honor to partner with my friends at Suniva over the years, and I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve accomplished!
It’s always uplifting for me to spend time with our community’s young people. The talented students and teachers at Lanier High School were kind enough to welcome me last week, and speaking with the government and politics class was a true pleasure. These students are concerned with the same issues that I hear about so often from voters across the country: how are we going to improve our economy, what’s the best way to grow jobs, what are we going to do to make college more affordable, and how can we best preserve our freedoms? We have to work together to ensure that America’s best days are ahead. And I can tell you one thing for sure, with students like these asking the questions and finding the answers, I’m supremely confident in America’s future.
Rep. Rob Woodall speaks with students at Lanier High School
As the weather grows colder and family and friends from around the country travel home, we’re all reminded that two of the world’s biggest holidays will coincide this coming weekend. On Saturday evening, millions of people around the world will celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. And on Sunday, millions more will gather to celebrate Christmas. No matter your faith, this holiday season is a time of joy, hope, and love. It’s a time when we put aside those things that divide us, and we remember that it’s not gifts, but the love of family and friends that truly make this season special. Wherever and however you celebrate this exceptional time of year, I wish you and yours a very blessed holiday season.
Member of Congress
The House wrapped-up its work for the year last week, and the great news is that we moved to the President’s desk a number of critically important pieces of legislation that will help our nation’s military men and women, repair our water infrastructure, and find cures for cancer and other deadly diseases, to name a few.
On Thursday, the House passed the “Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act,” in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote with 360 members of Congress supporting the final package. The bill protects our access to Lake Lanier and provides a big boost for our ports, which are responsible for more than 25,000 jobs in the Seventh District. What's more, I'm elated to report that the final legislation, which is on its way to the President's desk, includes a section I authored eliminating language inappropriately inserted in the 2014 WRDA bill by Alabama's senator that unfairly usurped the rights of the Florida, Georgia, and Alabama governors to negotiate a solution to the tri-state water conflict. It unnecessarily inserted the federal government into this issue, and removing it from WRDA is the right thing to do.
I’m proud to serve as Georgia’s voice on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where I helped craft the bill, and I’m looking forward to building on this success and continuing to move power out of Washington and into Georgia in the coming year.
Click on the video to watch me speak about the water bill on the House floor
Last week, Congress passed and sent to the President a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend funding for most federal agencies, programs, and services through April 28, 2017. While it was necessary to advance a short-term CR so that the incoming administration has an opportunity to weigh in on FY2017 funding priorities, I hope that this CR is the last one considered by Congress for years to come. Restoring regular order in the annual appropriations process will be a challenge, and though we were unable to fully achieve that goal this year, I’m encouraged by the September passage and enactment of the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which marked the first time since 2009 that a regular appropriations bill was signed into law before the end of the fiscal year. I look forward to building on that small victory for regular order and working with my colleagues and President-elect Trump next year to ensure that CRs are a thing of the past!
Last week, Congress sent to the President’s desk the 21st Century Cures Act. We’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating that this legislation will bring much needed investment to the National Institutes of the Health and the Food and Drug Administration so that our nation’s scientists can find cures for the deadliest diseases that afflict Americans and then bring those cures to market quickly and efficiently. The bill also revamps our nation’s mental health care system so that it better serves those who need appropriate mental and behavioral health care. Working together – Democrats and Republicans – across the aisle, we will make a real difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors. I look forward to the President signing the 21st Century Cures Act into law.
In addition to passing a major water infrastructure bill, Georgia got more good news last week in our continuing quest to ensure that Georgia’s water resources are being used appropriately and according to the law. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for managing Lake Lanier, announced on Thursday that Georgia’s water supply request will be granted. This will be done through what’s known as a Water Control Manual (WCM), and it represents the first time in more than two decades that the WCM has had a major update. This means that we are one big step closer to ensuring metro Atlanta will have enough water to sustain our rapidly growing population and business developments, and it couldn’t come at a more critical time with Georgia officials working overtime as we speak to fend off legal challenges from Florida and Alabama over this issue. Georgia has long been a model steward in water conservation and reuse, and I’m so pleased that the new WCM will supplement our existing efforts.
I’m happy to say that the Senate followed the House’s lead last week and approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017. For decades, Congress has been coming together for the good of our nation’s military members to pass this yearly legislation to guide the Pentagon’s plan for our defense.
I’m proud that this bill includes the biggest pay raise for our troops in six years, ensures our service members have the tools they need to defeat any enemy foolish enough to challenge us, and makes certain that America’s military remains the most capable fighting force the world has ever known. This year’s NDAA will ensure that our new Commander-in-Chief and his Secretary of Defense will have all the resources they need to keep Americans safe. I look forward to the President signing this legislation soon.
As you all may know, the U.S. and the European Union are currently negotiating an international agreement on insurance regulation, and the House took action last week on a bill, H.R. 5143, the “Transparent Insurance Standards Act of 2016,” which I hope will provide greater transparency and enhance accountability for these negotiations. H.R. 5143 would create a formalized role for Congressional monitoring of the negotiations and development of international insurance standards, require federal officials to collaborate more closely with state insurance regulators throughout the process, and establish a series of requirements that must be met before federal officials can accept the final standards, among other things. H.R. 5143 was crafted to put other nations on notice that the U.S. intends to lead, rather than be led, in the development of any international insurance standards, and I was pleased to support it.
Member of Congress
The best votes that I get to make in Congress are the votes that I know will make a difference. Last week, I joined the House in a passing the final version of a bill that the House and Senate have been working on for years, the 21st Century Cures Act. Now, having passed the House with a big bipartisan vote, my hope and expectation is that the Senate will move the bill this week and that President Obama will sign it into law before the end of the month.
The Cures Act has three major components. First, it invests in the cutting-edge medical research being carried out by the National Institutes of Health like the Precision Medicine Initiative, the Cancer Moonshot, and the BRAIN initiative, to name a few. The billions of new dollars dedicated to these investments are being taken from other lower priority or failing programs and are redirected to Cures. Previous versions of the Cures Act borrowed these dollars or dedicated them to programs subject to abuse and very little oversight. I have worked with the Committee to correct these problems in a way that offers families real hope for cures, offers taxpayers real hope for trillions in lower health care costs if cures can be found, and has been certified by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to not add a single new dollar of debt to our children or grandchildren’s futures.
Second, the Cures Act’s reforms to the Food and Drug Administration’s drug, medical device, and clinical trials processes, break down bureaucratic hurdles that make it more difficult and expensive for researchers to develop and deliver lifesaving drugs and treatments to patients. While this can mean billions of dollars can go into research instead of paperwork, it also means that families with a sick loved one will have access to treatments safely and faster.
Finally, the bill also provides funding for states to combat the opioid epidemic. If you know a family that has been touched by this scourge, you know how devastating an opioid addiction can be – not just on the user, but on the entire family. Washington doesn’t have the answer to the national epidemic, but many American localities have been using innovative programs and ideas that are making a difference in their communities. The Cures Act will support that local successes and help to expand those successes into other communities. The Cures Act marks the largest federal commitment to fighting addiction since Ronald Reagan was President and is providing hope to millions of American families.
I hope you all will take a minute to read more about the 21st Century Cures Act and then join me in calling on the Senate to pass it right away!
Given the evolving nature of our national security threats, from state-sponsored hacking to non-state-actor cyberattacks, it is imperative for us to leverage every resource available to tackle this issue head on. That’s why the House passed H.R. 5843, the “United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act,” and H.R. 5877, the “United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act,” creating a grant program incentivizing advances in cybersecurity research and including cyber security technologies in our bilateral effort to combat cyber threats. These bills not only deepen our bond with Israel, but they also encourage cooperation between two of the biggest hubs of cybersecurity research and advancement. I’m proud of the work Representatives John Ratcliffe (R-TX) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) have done to put these bills together, and I’m optimistic that these bills will make our nations more secure.
By a vote of 375-34, the House approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017 on Friday. I’m proud that this bill includes the biggest pay raise for our troops in six years, ensures our service members have the tools they need to defeat any enemy foolish enough to challenge us, and makes certain that America’s military remains the most capable fighting force the world has ever known. This year’s NDAA will ensure that our new Commander-in-Chief and his Secretary of Defense will have all the resources they need to keep Americans safe. I expect that the Senate will pass this bill in short order and that President Obama will sign it into law this month.
For too many years, Americans erroneously believed that if you needed mental health care you were weak, or crazy, or someone to be pitied. Thankfully, we have come out of that dark time, we know that mental and physical health care are intertwined, and thanks to Congress’ resident mental health expert, Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), a renowned psychologist, we know that getting proper mental health care is just as important as physical health care. There is no shame anymore in taking care of oneself. I’m so proud to have joined Dr. Murphy as he has led the charge to make mental health care a national priority and to reform how mental health is delivered in our health care system.
As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, the House passed portions of Dr. Murphy’s bill, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.” With the Cures Act, we are going to help break down barriers to care and ensure that evidence-based mental health care programs are prioritized over the feel-good programs of the past that have shown little achievement. We especially have to prioritize early interventions so that we’re ensuring proper treatment for our young people so that they can avoid the behavioral problems that undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues evolve into later in life. By making mental health care part of the mainstream continuum of care, we are going to improve quality of life for all Americans.
The House took action last week to provide federal regulators with the flexibility to more accurately determine the risk that financial institutions pose to the economy. The bill, H.R. 6391, the “Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act,” passed the House with bipartisan support and would replace an arbitrary threshold put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act. Under current law, if a financial institution has more than $50 billion in total assets, financial regulators must automatically designate it as systemically important, and such designations, whether appropriate or not, come with a slew of time consuming, costly regulatory compliance requirements. H.R. 6391 would replace Dodd-Frank’s capricious asset threshold with a new test that considers multiple indicators of systemic importance, including the size, interconnectedness, and complexity of financial institutions. I agree with the former Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), who authored Dodd-Frank, the $50 billion asset threshold was a “mistake,” and I was pleased to support this common sense change.
Often in this recent election season, it’s been easy to see partisanship, but hard to find common ground. The good news is that common ground has been found in the House with the passage last Thursday of H.R.6393, the “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.” This bill, which passed with my support, authorizes critical national security programs that help protect Americans against terrorism and cyberattacks. The bill also calls for increased scrutiny of Russia’s attempts to exert covert influence around the world.
In our day and age, the Internet and global communication tools are right at our fingertips, and they have resulted in the sharing of ideas and collaboration around the globe. However, in this digitally globally connected world, it is critical that we take the necessary steps to ensure that our great nation is ready to combat cyber-attacks, terrorism, and acts of aggression by foreign powers. Americans around the world today face the most significant threat levels since 9/11. That said, we must do everything in our power to provide the intelligence community with the resources it needs to protect all Americans. H.R.6393 has been sent to the Senate for consideration, and I look forward to working together to send this language to the President for his signature.
This week, the House will wrap-up its work for the 2016 year and the 114th Congress will come to a close. But before that happens, we have the opportunity to pass a bill that we’ve been talking about for almost a full year; the final version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). After months of negotiation, this landmark legislation is finally ready to send to the President for his signature, and I’m proud of the work that we’ve done to help Georgia in this bill. We’ll also send a Continuing Resolution that will fund the government until April 2017 to the President’s desk. While I would have preferred us to finish each of the 12 individual appropriations bills this year, we will instead have another opportunity to change our nation’s spending priorities for the better with President-elect Donald Trump in the White House next year.
Member of Congress
As you all probably know, at the direction of President Obama, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a regulation this past May that would more than double the salary threshold used to determine overtime pay eligibility. In the weeks and months since, I’ve heard concerns from folks across the district and the state about the overtime rule’s potential negative impact, including workers who were worried about losing flexibility with their schedules or simply seeing their hours reduced, and employers concerned that taking such actions would be their only viable option in order to stay in business. In response to these concerns, House Republicans repeatedly called on the President to reconsider his overtime rule and passed legislation to delay its implementation, while also arguing that he lacked the authority to make such significant changes to our overtime laws without Congress’ approval.
Last Tuesday, a federal court agreed with House Republicans in a case brought by 21 states, including the State of Georgia, challenging the legality of President Obama’s overtime rule. According to the court, the DOL lacks the statutory authority to increase the overtime salary thresholds and mandate automatic increase going forward, among other things. As a result, the DOL can no longer implement or enforce the overtime rule, which was set to take effect on December 1st. While this isn’t likely to be the final word on the overtime rule, as I expect the DOL to appeal the court’s decision, my hope is that employers and employees alike can rest easy knowing that it will not be forced upon them just before the holidays.
This ruling is also another in a long-line of rebukes by the Federal courts against President Obama’s “go it alone” strategy of using the regulatory bureaucracy to implement policy that should rightly be considered in full and open debate by Congress. I know it’s tempting when your party is in the White House to simply bypass the normal legislative structure in favor of the faster regulatory route, but no matter who is in the White House – a Republican or a Democrat – Congress should always be the ultimate arbiter of what should and should not become the law of the land.
Two weeks ago, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce dove into the topic of self-driving cars. While you might think self-driving cars are the stuff of science fiction drama, you’d be wrong; the technology is already here, and I’d venture a guess that partially self-driving cars are going to be parked on your street and mine within the next few decades. In fact, you may have heard that earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a new non-binding regulatory framework to help guide the development and deployment of this potentially game-changing technology. This type of technology could one day greatly reduce accidents and congestion on our roadways by increasing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and I am encouraged that the Department of Transportation understands that heavy-handed federal regulation could hinder or even kill the kind of innovation that is being cultivated by states and manufacturers. There are still many questions that must be answered before we start seeing this technology on our roadways, including questions of privacy and safety, but I am encouraged that we are beginning to examine in detail the kinds of changes we could all be seeing on our roads in the future. I expect we will learn much more about this issue in the coming year.
On November 16th, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology held a hearing entitled “Federal Cyber Security After the OPM Data Breach: Have Agencies Learned Their Lesson?” The Chief Information Officers of the Department of Agriculture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Social Security Administration were called to examine each of the Agencies’ information security programs and management, including their compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act. I applaud the efforts of Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Subcommittee Chairman William Hurd (R-TX) to ensure we don’t repeat the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach which affected 22.1 million people. The Committee has been working with the Administration over the past few months to get better information from more than two dozen Federal agencies about security tests and information security audits. And the Committee highlighted why those tests and audits were so important in its report about the OPM data breach back in July.
If your family is anything like mine, part of your Thanksgiving dinner discussion probably touched on President-elect Trump and his proposed Cabinet and high-level appointments. As of today, Mr. Trump has chosen his Chief of Staff (Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus), National Security Advisor (former Defense Intelligence Agency Chairman Lt. General Michael Flynn), and Deputy National Security Advisor (former National Security Council advisor Ms. K.T. McFarland). And he has nominated for Senate confirmation his Attorney General (Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama), Education Secretary (Ms. Betsy DeVos from Michigan), United Nations Ambassador (Governor Nikki Haley from South Carolina), and CIA Director (Representative Mike Pompeo from Kansas). With this diverse group of appointees and nominees from both inside and outside the Washington Beltway – both public sector experts and private sector advocates – I believe that President-elect Trump is sending an important signal that all sectors of society and the economy need to work together. As President-elect Trump continues filling his Cabinet over the next few weeks, I look forward to learning more about his choices and supporting all those men and women who I know will work hard to retain America’s place as the greatest country in the world.
This week the House is expected to consider a critically important bill from the Financial Services Committee; H.R. 6392, the “Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act of 2016.” Since the adoption of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the government has been erroneously equating asset size and risk, instead of taking the time to understand the varying structures of small, mid-size, regional, and large financial institutions and evaluating financial institutions based on a more complex understanding of portfolio asset management. H.R. 6392 provides financial regulators with a better way to assess risk by eliminating the one-size-fits-all Dodd-Frank approach in favor of one that takes into account the health of asset portfolios.
The House will also debate this week a bill that has been years in the making – the 21st Century Cures Act. This measure passed the House over a year ago, and finally, after many months of negotiations with the Senate, we are moving forward with a final bill that will provide millions of dollars in funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for cancer research. There will always be disagreement among well-meaning Americans about the proper role of the federal government in spending taxpayer dollars – but I hope that you join me in supporting taxpayer dollar investment in life-saving health research.
Member of Congress
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.
Georgians are well aware of Governor Perdue’s heart for service, and I have no doubt he will bring that same spirit and commitment to this
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. #MLKDay2017
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