Last week proved to be a busy one for my office in D.C. as many folks from the Seventh District and the rest of the state made the trip to discuss policies that are most important to them. Georgia legends, Coach Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker, stopped by to speak about preserving our nation’s battlefields and the importance of physical fitness to America’s children, respectively. I was also visited by another local superstar, the 2016 ACTE National Teacher of the Year Cindy Quinlan from Brookwood High School, who came with other members of the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education to share their successes with their career and technical education programs and the incredibly positive impact those programs have had on their students. I also had some of our neighbors from the Georgia School Nutrition Association speak to me about the benefits of nutritional assistance programs for the neediest folks in our community and how important it is for our kids to have proper nutrition in order to learn. And this is just a snapshot of the issue-packed days I have with constituents at the Capitol.
Too often, people believe that a congressional week is mostly spent with D.C. lawyers and lobbyists. But they’d be wrong. The best information comes from our local experts – individuals directly impacted by federal policy – and I am grateful that these impassioned Georgians come to my office to share their expertise with me. Public policy is made better when these folks take time out of their busy schedules and contribute their voices to the policy. Thank you to everyone who came to D.C. last week!
In the aftermath of the Great Recession, President Obama signed H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This legislation, which has since become known colloquially as “Dodd-Frank,” has had a very significant effect on America’s banking industry. The nearly thousand-page law was so sweeping and complex that federal agencies are still to this day trying to fulfill all of the law’s mandates and directives almost a decade later. While some of the consumer protections in the law were necessary to prevent future catastrophes and financial recklessness in the banking industry, many of the requirements in Dodd-Frank have proven to be ineffective, duplicative, or downright harmful to folks who had nothing to do with the crisis.
That’s why I joined a bipartisan majority of my colleagues in the House this week to pass a targeted set of amendments to federal law that will help consumers and the financial institutions they rely on, like their credit unions and community banks. These institutions help millions of Americans navigate the home buying process, purchase a car, save for retirement, start their dream business, and more, and once the Senate acts on similar legislation, they will be even better position to help their customers succeed. The House Financial Services Committee provided a helpful guide of the four individual bills we considered, which you can read here:
As you’ve likely heard, President Trump last week followed through with another one of his long-held promises to the American people – to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that he believes threaten America’s manufacturing base. In a recent report to the President, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross explained that the “global excess capacity [of steel] is 700 million tons, almost 7 times the annual total of U.S. steel consumption.” For too long, we have allowed China to repeatedly flood our markets with its excess steel, which “alone exceeds the total U.S. steel-making capacity.” Undeniably, the U.S. steel and aluminum industries and workers have been negatively affected by the large excess of these products in our markets, and I have previously expressed my support to implement remedies in a targeted manner in order to avoid any unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy, consumers, and workers. That’s because I certainly understand that there are instances in which we must act to ensure that products coming into our markets do not jeopardize our nation’s security and undermine our military’s readiness and our workers. However, I continue to believe the future of America’s economic well-being is in ensuring our products have access to foreign markets.
No one said that striking a balance between implementing remedies and maintaining our free trade relations so that our exporters can continue to sell their American made goods around the world would be easy. While I commend the President for staying true to his word, I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the White House urging the President to take into consideration a number of factors to minimize negative consequences as he moved forward with crafting his final decision. I was pleased to learn that the President heeded a number of our concerns in his final decision by choosing to exclude Mexico and Canada from the outset, as well as expressing his willingness to discuss excluding other countries with which we have close relationships. You can be sure my colleagues and I will closely monitor the economic impacts of these new tariffs and that we will continue working with the Administration to apply these tariffs in a targeted manner.
I tell 7th District residents often that it’s critical to share your opinions with me because when I hear directly from you, I’m able to represent all of our neighbors better. And you responded to the tune of over 93,000 letters, emails, faxes, and phone calls last year! So that you will know even more about what your neighbors and I are sharing with one another, this week I want to include just one of the many issues that were shared with me last week.
Last week, a number of people wrote in about H.R. 644, the “Conscience Protection Act.”
This is from Sandy in Cumming:
As you are considering the budget, I would appreciate you voting for the Conscience Protection Act. I would also appreciate giving NO money to Planned Parenthood as they are using taxpayer money to fight for their cause and against mine and many others. Thank you.
This is from George in Lawrenceville:
Please work to ensure that the Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 644) is enacted into law as part of the final FY 2018 funding bill. Please also communicate your support for the CPA to House leadership. Most doctors and nurses are unwilling to participate in abortions and should not be forced to choose between violating their consciences or being driven from the healing professions. It is wrong for government to force Americans to violate their deeply held convictions about respect for human life.
I know the issue of abortion is a deeply felt issue, but one thing I am sure most Americans can agree on is that no one should be forced to violate their own religious, moral, or conscientious objections by being required to provide or participate in abortions. While the Weldon Amendment prevents the government from discriminating against hospitals, doctors, nurses, and insurance plans that decline to provide or pay for abortions, we have nonetheless still seen instances where health care professionals have been retaliated against for their religious beliefs and their only recourse is to file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services. The “Conscience Protection Act” would close this loophole by giving health care providers the ability to file a civil suit to seek relief from discrimination, and permanently codify the prohibition against any discrimination or penalty for a health care professional who refuses to involve themselves in or provide an abortion.
I have been proud to support the “Conscience Protection Act” in past Congress’ and look forward to supporting it this Congress. In fact, this past week I signed a letter asking our House leaders to include the bill in the upcoming FY18 spending bill, just like George mentioned in his letter. You can read the letter I signed HERE.
In the coming weeks, I will share more correspondence from our neighbors. Understanding each other better can absolutely lead to better solutions for us all.
The White House made a surprising and important announcement late last week: President Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May of this year to discuss permanent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should certain conditions be met by North Korea. This meeting would mark the first time a U.S. President has officially met with a North Korean leader and could be a significant step towards normalizing relations with a denuclearized North Korea, easing tensions on the Korean peninsula, and providing all our allies in the Asia-Pacific region with peace of mind that a rogue actor has been peacefully disarmed.
The invitation to talk is certainly an encouraging sign that North Korea may be willing to change its dangerous ways, but I’m pleased that President Trump has said he will remain tough on the Kim Regime by maintaining sanctions and continuing with our annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises until an agreement is completed. There is no doubt that reaching any agreement will likely be a long process with many obstacles, but this development is a positive step forward, especially in light of the recent nuclear and missile tests that have been directly targeted at the U.S. and our allies. It’s important that America does not stand by as rogue nations threaten our global security. By maintaining American leadership in the world and confronting these challenges head on with sanctions and other measures, we are beginning to see progress.
Last week the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a timely hearing on the challenges facing our nation’s infrastructure and the Trump Administration’s solutions. Our guest was Secretary Elaine Chao, who heads the Department of Transportation and has been promoting President Trump’s infrastructure initiative. She came to our committee to make her pitch and answer questions about the President’s priorities.
I took time to first show my appreciation for her partnership and quick assistance in helping rebuild I-85 after the fire last year, and then sought clarity about the Administration’s proposal to reward communities that invest state and local dollars into their own infrastructure. As you well know, Georgia taxpayers have stepped up to the plate and led by investing our own dollars into priority projects through bonding, user fees, SPLOSTs, and other means. As the Administration works with Congress to craft our infrastructure package, one of my top priorities will be ensuring that this leadership is recognized and encouraged by our federal partners. Constructing a regulatory review process that makes quicker decisions and allows for long-term planning and certainty by state and local officials will be another priority. In fact, Secretary Chao mentioned during our conversation that her department has saved taxpayers and businesses $800 million already simply by streamlining duplicative or unnecessary red tape, and I look forward to building on this success.
You can view our entire exchange here.
With so many phenomenal educators in Forsyth County, selecting a Teacher of the Year isn’t an easy task, but I sure am grateful we as a community make the effort to recognize these outstanding individuals! Our teachers are among the very best in the state, and this year we had another impressive group of finalists. On Friday, Mr. Jonas Streck, who teaches German at South Forsyth High School, was chosen as the 2018 Forsyth County Teacher of the Year, and I’d like to congratulate him, as well as thank him for his service. When you listen to the passion each of the finalsts has for their students, it’s just not possible to be anything but inspired, and I would venture to say that that sincerity and dedication is as contagious to their students as it is to me. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll watch the brief piece below on each of the three finalists. Again, thank you all, and a special congratulations to Mr. Streck!
This week the House is going to consider a number of measures from the Financial Services Committee that reform aspects of the Dodd-Frank law that regulates financial companies. Many of these measures already passed the House as part of the “Financial CHOICE Act” last year, but as the Senate is taking-up its version of Dodd-Frank reform right now, the House is once again trying to persuade the Senate to take real action on helping our nation’s small banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions better serve Americans.
I’m also very excited that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will be holding a hearing Thursday morning to consider a number of Chief’s reports from the Army Corps of Engineers, including one that I have long advocated for that will support the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). The hearing will also delve into the future needs of our nation’s water resources infrastructure and how Congress can continue working with the Corps to serve the American people.
Member of Congress
WASHINGTON, DC –Today, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall (GA 07), House Budget Committee Chairman Steve Womack (R-AR), House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), and fellow appointees to the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform held their inaugural meeting to identify and recommend reforms to the budget and appropriations process. The newly-formed panel was created by a provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. Rep. Woodall, a member of the House Budget Committee and Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process was selected to serve as one of the 16 members.
"Budget dysfunction is neither the goal nor the fault of any one party. But the responsibility for solving it falls on us all,” said Woodall. “Having avoided reform for more than 40 years, the Congressional budget process needs to be reexamined from the ground up, and both parties in both chambers have selected incredibly thoughtful and serious delegates to pursue that goal on this joint select committee. I am honored to be among the four House Republicans chosen, and I believe my selection reflects the 'just get it done' reputation for which our Georgia district is known. This panel is a unique opportunity to restore faith in, and the function of, the federal budget process. I’m encouraged by what began today, and I’m eager to continue our work until we deliver a finished product that puts America on secure financial footing."
“Today’s meeting marks the start of an important dialogue,” added Republican co-chair Steve Womack. “While there is much to consider as a group, I am encouraged that we share the desire for a budget and appropriations process that works in Congress and for the American people. And I look forward to more discussions about how we can achieve that common goal together.”
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, 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.
Completing the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is our state’s top economic priority, and with the announcement last week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed the deepening of the entrance channel, we are closer than ever to delivering this project and all its benefits to our state and nation. I’ve worked tirelessly with my Georgia colleagues—Democrats, Republicans, House members, Senators—to focus federal attention on the project, which stands to provide hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of annual economic benefits to America.
This year, the President committed nearly $50 million to SHEP, and I will work to see that any infrastructure bill that the President signs gives our state an opportunity to compete for the other $50 million we need to keep this project on track. This project is a great deal for taxpayers, a great deal for the state of Georgia, and it supports nearly 30,000 jobs in the 7th District. Now that we’ve reached the halfway point, I look forward to doing my part to get SHEP over the finish line once and for all.
With Atlanta being one of America’s major human trafficking hubs, we Georgians are especially focused on ways to combat this epidemic. Just last month, Mayor Keisha Bottoms and Attorney General Chris Carr marked “Human Trafficking Awareness Month,” outlining initiatives focused on at-risk communities and identifying human trafficking as it happens. And here in Washington, we are taking steps to combat sex trafficking on the Internet with H.R. 1865, the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act,” or FOSTA. The bill allows states and private citizens to sue websites that host content which violates federal sex trafficking laws. While the vast majority of websites are not liable under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for third-party content that is posted on the site, other sites like Backpage.com that knowingly assist and support users who propagate sex trafficking will no longer be able to claim that protection. Not only will this help crack down on websites that currently enable sex trafficking, but it will also act as a deterrent for any site that considers facilitating this heinous crime. Sex trafficking affects too many young Americans – boys and girls – as well as susceptible young adults. As technology continues to evolve, Congress will continue to adapt our laws so that we may protect the most vulnerable among us.
If you’ve had the opportunity to spend time with our local business leaders over the past few months, you won’t be surprised to hear that consumer confidence in our economy is at its highest level in nearly 20 years. That’s right. At no time since the beginning of President George W. Bush’s presidency have American consumers felt so positively about America’s economic performance and our plans for future growth.
I think that has a lot to do with how much success we’ve had in Washington and around the country lately. With the most comprehensive tax reform in over thirty years just now passing its second month, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues to put more dollars into the pockets of our hardworking American families. Just about 10 days ago, Atlanta Gas Light announced that because of the tax law, it was proposing a rate reduction of approximately $16 million for its customers across the metro region. And This is real money in our pockets, and it’s another example of how good public policy can lead to great economic growth.
I am proud of the combined efforts of Congress, the Trump Administration, and our state and local communities that are working to create an even stronger job market and maintain a record rate of low unemployment. Consumers’ rising confidence is indicative of their faith in a brighter future, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to continue to build upon this success.
It would be all too easy to take for granted the safety and peace of mind we enjoy throughout our community, but the truth is, that’s not our style. We are so fortunate to not only have the men and women who wear the uniform and put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf, but we are also blessed to have countless neighbors who value that service just as we do. I certainly hope our law enforcement officers feel that gratitude on a daily basis, but I’m especially grateful to this special group who was honored recently for their acts of bravery. Their willingness to act in such ways is a part of simply going to work for these folks, and while none of us ever wants to have to call on that courage, those who possess it and dedicate themselves to service are invaluable here at home and across the country. I attended the event and each story was moving. One story at a time, Sheriff Freeman noted the lives saved--the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, still with us today—because of the extraordinary sacrifices and bravery of our deputies. Congratulations once again to each recipient, but just as importantly, thank you for what you and your colleagues do each and every day to protect and serve the 7th District.
This week the House will consider two bills that roll-back unnecessary regulatory barriers: H.R. 1917, the “Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2017,” and H.R. 4607, the “Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act,” which was introduced by our Georgia neighbor Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA). The House will also consider H.R. 1119, the “Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act,” which ensures that coal refuse can continue to be recycled and used in power plants.
Two weeks ago I mentioned how excited I was to be asked by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to serve on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. Now that all 16 members of the committee have been appointed by the Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, and House Minority Leader, the committee will have its first meeting this Thursday. This initial meeting will be an opportunity for my colleagues and I to get to know one another better and begin our discussions about how we want to make the budget and appropriations process work better for the American people.
Member of Congress
The Transportation Summit in Forsyth County on Wednesday provided an excellent discussion regarding the progress we have made in improving our infrastructure and the outlook for President Trump’s new infrastructure proposal. I'm grateful to the Forsyth Chamber of Commerce for inviting me out to help lead that discussion. As you may know, the President has proposed a historic $1.5 trillion boost in infrastructure spending, bolstered by $200 billion in direct federal investment, with most of the funding coming from state, local, and private sources. This approach is consistent with the current funding balance, since the federal government is only responsible for roughly 14 percent of America’s total transportation spending.
While the federal government is responsible for only a small minority of funding, it is to blame for the vast majority of regulatory headaches. That’s why we’re seeking to pair this significant new investment with a fresh approach to the federal regulatory process that will result in more projects being completed on-time, on-budget, and delivering benefits to taxpayers much quicker. On average, it takes nearly five years to get a highway project approved, and it can take twice as long as that in certain cases. That’s wholly unacceptable, and we want to bring that period of time down to a maximum of two years. We also discussed the more difficult—but equally important—side of the conversation: how do we pay for it? These are conversations that are happening as you’re reading this, and I invite you to share with me your thoughts on regulatory reform, infrastructure pay-fors, and anything else that is on your mind.
Photo Courtesy of the Forsyth County News
On Friday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) named me as one of four House Republicans to the Joint Select Committee on Budget Process Reform. This committee was created by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and its purpose is to work across the aisle and across Capitol with Democrats and members of the Senate to come up with a new budget process that will allow Congress to pass its annual appropriations bills on time and avoid the seemingly never-ending budget stand-offs that threaten to shutdown our government all too often. I am honored by this appointment and by the Speaker's confidence in me. I am committed to working hard to make this reform a reality, and I look forward to bringing our 7th District values to the committee.
Last week, I met with the Lilburn Business Association to discuss the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and its effect on small businesses and what to expect when people pay their taxes in April 2019. For too long, the complex and overly burdensome tax code resulted in too many small businesses focusing on simply trying to keep up rather than focusing on getting ahead. The good news is that the TCJA provides our main street companies and “mom and pop” shops with the tools they need to invest in their employees and grow their companies by offering the first-ever 20% tax deduction to businesses organized as a pass-through entities. Furthermore, the TCJA allows the expensing of capital investments for certain purchases, like machinery and equipment, and increases the Section 179 small business expensing limit to $1 million. As a result of these positive changes to the tax code, small businesses across the country “are not only reporting better profits, but they’re also ready to grow and expand” explained Juanita Duggan, the CEO and President of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). In fact, the NFIB recently released the January report of their Small Business Optimism Index, which showed that America’s small businesses are at a 45-year year high when asked if they were optimistic about their economic futures.
Rep. Woodall discussing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with the Lilburn Business Association.
And I can tell you that the Lilburn Business Association is feeling that same optimism. I heard directly from many small business owners about the ways in which they plan to grow their companies, and I’m so impressed and excited for what’s coming to Lilburn thanks to these amazing entrepreneurs. Lilburn is fortunate to have these hard-working leaders who are eager to grow their businesses and reinvest into our community, and I truly appreciate the Lilburn Business Association for having me.
There is arguably no better way to begin my day than by meeting with our community's young people. Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with students at Cornerstone Christian Academy, Simpson Elementary, and Lambert High School. We had a wonderful discussion about how can we work together to make our community a better place. Whether a third grader at Cornerstone Christian Academy, a fifth grader at Simpson Elementary, or a graduating senior at Lambert High School, they all share the same level of enthusiasm for working together to solve problems and help one another. They care about their communities and they want to support each other and make those communities into spectacular places to live, learn, and grow. I am encouraged by their passion, and I thank the students and teachers for inviting me to begin my days with them. If you ever think that America’s best days are behind her, I encourage you to meet with these students, and you’ll quickly be displaced of that thought. America’s best days are ahead, and these students are going to help us shine.
Rep. Woodall meets with students and teachers at Cornerstone Christian Academy in Peachtree Corners
President Trump signed an Executive Order in October 2017 to make our nation’s health care system work better for all Americans. Specifically, the Executive Order called on federal agencies and departments to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to boost competition, increase consumer choice, and increase access to lower cost, high-quality care on our health care marketplaces. And last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in conjunction with the U.S. Treasury and U.S. Department of Labor rolled out a new rule to do just that.
Newly confirmed HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced that the Departments have issued a proposed rule that seeks to expand the availability of short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans by allowing consumers to purchase plans that provide coverage for any period of less than 12 months. As you may recall, President Obama restricted the period of coverage of short-term plans to a period of less than 3 months just prior to leaving office in 2016. Because short-term, limited-duration plans are exempt from the definition of individual health insurance coverage under the ACA, this proposed rule, if enacted, would not only give consumers more flexibility when it comes shopping for a plan that is right for them at a price that is more affordable than ACA compliant plans, but it would also provide those Americans who are between jobs for longer than 3 months or are unhappy with their current plan with the certainty they need.
While it’s undeniable that some Americans have benefitted from the ACA, and those successes should be celebrated, it’s equally undeniable that the ACA did more harm than good for many other Americans, and it will harm many, many more if we do nothing. In fact, approximately half of the counties across the nation only have one insurance carrier to choose from, and monthly premiums in Georgia have increased 106% from 2013 and 2017. There are so many of our 7th District neighbors and friends who deserve to have access to an efficient and effective health care system, and while I am committed to working to create a legislative solution worthy of all Americans, I simply cannot accept “just wait” as an answer. For that reason, I support this proposed rule, as it is a step in the right direction to ensure that those individuals and families who do not have access to a plan that meets their needs or who cannot afford the skyrocketing cost of their premium can have more choices and control over their health care dollars and decisions. The Administration is currently seeking comments on the proposed rule, and if you feel passionately one way or the other about this rule, I’d encourage you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
For many of us, we were fortunate enough to be born and raised in this part of the world. For others, they were fortunate enough to relocate to our wonderful community, but what we all share is a love for the place we choose to call home. Whether we chose to stay, return, or relocate here doesn’t matter. We all take ownership of what it means to be neighbors, friends, co-workers, and beyond, and together we do amazing things. Forsyth County has grown and changed in some big ways over recent years, but I’d argue that the core of what makes it appealing to all of us has always been here, and it is a reflection of who we are. It is our character.
You can find so many wonderful examples of that character. In individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, spiritual leaders, and so much more. The list is long, but last week the Forsyth County News highlighted a leader in our community that I’ve been blessed to get to know – Rabbi Levi Mentz. The work Rabbi Mentz is doing within Congregation Beth Israel, Chabad of Forsyth, and far beyond is inspiring, and the partnership he has offered along with so many in the Jewish community is invaluable. Across all faiths, backgrounds, and viewpoints, I’m grateful to be surrounded by those who understand there is far more that unites us as a community than divides us.
Irrespective of one’s age or level of education, one of the many things that makes our community so successful is the way in which we offer opportunity after opportunity to learn the skills that will help folks achieve their goals. From award-winning and standard-bearing schools across the district, to ever-increasing post-secondary opportunities right here locally, the Seventh District is again leading the charge. As you may have heard, Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) was just recognized with international accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business! Since opening its doors to students in 2006, GGC has continued to grow and offer more opportunities for those from all walks of life not only in our community, but throughout the region and state. With just under 12 years since welcoming its first students, to be catching the eye of those evaluating institutions across the globe is indicative of the effort and commitment put forth by everyone from the students themselves, to the dedicated educators, to the leaders casting the vision. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with many of them over the years, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work they’re doing and the success that comes with it. Congratulations, and keep up the great work!
Violence against women and girls happens too often in our society, and for too many vulnerable individuals, the violence goes unnoticed because it’s happening in the darkest parts of the Internet. This week, the House will consider H.R. 1865, the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.” The bill will make it easier to combat online sex trafficking by allowing law enforcement and state officials to prosecute website owners, like those of Backpage, who purposely provide a platform designed to facilitate prostitution and sex trafficking.
The House will also consider two Financial Services Committee bills: H.R. 4296 and H.R. 4607. These bills cut through red tape and address overregulation of the financial industry and unnecessary paperwork burdens that only serve to increase costs on American consumers and businesses.
Finally, the late Reverend Billy Graham, who died last week at the age of 99 and who many past Presidents called-on as a spiritual advisor, will be honored by the United States Congress on Wednesday, February 28th and Thursday, March 1st. Reverend Graham will lie in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Since 1852, the Rotunda has been considered as the most suitable place for Americans to pay a final tribute to our most eminent citizens – Presidents, Members of Congress, and military heroes. This honor has only been given to three other private citizens in the history of the United States: in 1998 to Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson who were killed in the line of duty protecting the Capitol, and in 2005 to Rosa Parks, the distinguished civil rights pioneer who refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus. This week, Reverend Graham will join that distinguished list of private citizens, public officials, and military heroes who have given the full measure of their lives in service to a grateful nation. Members of the public are invited to pay their respects at the Capitol on Wednesday and Thursday, and if you’re in D.C. this week, I hope you will join this historic event.
Member of Congress
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07) will be one of four House Republicans appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Budget Process Reform – a bipartisan, House-Senate select committee that will pursue reforms to the budget and appropriations process. The joint select committee was established under the recently enacted Bipartisan Budget Act. Speaker Ryan’s appointees, announced during this morning’s House session, serve on committees with legislative jurisdiction over these issues. Rep. Woodall, who serves on the House Budget Committee and as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, issued the following statement in response.
“Today’s federal budgeting process—not reformed since 1974—is flawed, and a flawed process can be expected to produce a flawed result. But I represent a district of problem solvers. My district isn’t content with assigning blame; we craft solutions and work to make those solutions a reality. I’m proud to work hard on behalf of Georgians in Congress as an earnest partner seeking solutions to America’s most difficult problems. Earning a seat on this select bicameral committee is a byproduct of those efforts. I commit both to the 15 members of the select committee and the more than 700,000 members of Georgia’s Seventh District that I will do everything in my power to build the bipartisan, bicameral coalition necessary to send budget reform to the President’s desk for the first time in more than four decades.”
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, 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.
Over the past three weeks, many of you joined me for our telephone town hall series in which we had the opportunity to discuss everything from legislative updates, to issues of the day across the country and globe, to whatever it was you had on your mind. As I’ve said before, I’m truly grateful for your participation and feedback, as it makes our voice in Washington that much stronger. Being able to share multiple conversations in the last few weeks with hundreds and hundreds of folks back home each time is of tremendous value to me, and I certainly hope you found them to be helpful as well. Moving forward, we’ll certainly do more, so please keep an eye out for those details, but in the meantime, don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me at either my local or Washington office with any questions, concerns, or ideas that you have.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) lived up to his promise from four weeks ago to bring immigration legislation to the Senate floor when he gave the chamber the opportunity to vote on every immigration bill that was brought up for a vote by either Democrats or Republicans. While we are closer than we have ever been before to an agreement, the Senate failed to proceed with any of the four measures brought before the chamber last week. As you know, there is a 60 vote threshold in the Senate that has been a major roadblock in the past on major pieces of legislation, and that requirement acted once again to keep any measure from getting enough support to pass.
Of course, Senate inaction does not preclude the House from acting, and there are in fact many bills we could consider and send over to our colleagues in the Senate. What is important to note is that progress is being made, and as members begin to accept that neither party will get entirely what they want in the end, we will have an end-product that we can send to the President’s desk. While the Senate may not have been able to find a compromise last week, I am still hopeful we will come up with a solution before the March deadline that President Trump set for Congress.
As you may know, this Congress and administration has been committed to rolling back harmful and unnecessary financial regulations that unduly burden many of our nation’s smaller financial institutions as well as those rules and regulations that negatively affect consumers. That said, Republicans and Democrats worked together last week to pass two financial services bills that work to protect our nation’s consumers – H.R. 3978 and H.R. 3299. I was proud join my colleagues in supporting these two bills, as they work to reduce federal red tape that oftentimes makes it difficult for homeowners and small businesses to access much needed credit and for our financial institutions to operate with certainty. That said, H.R. 3978, the “TRID Improvement Act of 2017," not only requires the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to allow for the accurate disclosure of title insurance premiums and any potential available discounts to homebuyers, but the bill also includes five additional bills that work to make our capital markets more attractive, competitive, and efficient. Those additional bills in include:
The second bill, H.R. 3299, the “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017,” passed the House with bipartisan support, and if signed into law, would allow the interest rate on a loan originated by a bank to remain valid in the event the loan is sold or transferred to a non-bank, third party entity. This is the second time H.R. 3299 has passed the House with my support, as the provision was also included in H.R. 10, the “Financial CHOICE Act,” but the Senate has chosen not to take up. With that said, I hope you will join me in urging the Senate to quickly take up these important bills so that we can send these needed improvements to President Trump's desk for his signature.
I joined C-SPAN’s Washington Journal bright and early Wednesday morning and GPB’s Political Rewind later that day to discuss the President’s newly unveiled infrastructure plan, which proposes pairing $200 billion in federal spending with more than $1 trillion in state, local, and private funding. Given that Atlanta was just ranked between London and Paris as the 8th most congested city on the planet, a greater focus on modernizing our infrastructure is sorely needed. Unfortunately, one of the major problems we face is the fact that, due to excessive red tape, when Georgia uses a federal dollar today instead of a state or local dollar, the delivery of that project is, on average, delayed by more than four years! We have to address both the funding of priority projects as well as the regulatory structure that has substantially reduced the purchasing power of taxpayer dollars and led to costly delays of critical projects. I look forward to helping write this legislation and working with the President to fulfill another promise to the American people!
CLICK HERE to learn all about the President’s infrastructure plans.
You can watch me on Washington Journal by clicking the picture below.
My friend and former House colleague, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, testified at the House and Senate Budget Committees last week on behalf of President Trump’s FY19 budget request. Despite the increases in spending and inability to balance in the budget window, the President’s budget does include a $3 trillion reduction in spending over the next ten years; $1.7 trillion of which comes from the mandatory side alone. As with any other budget request sent by a president to Congress, the document acts as a blueprint for the Administration’s priorities rather than acting as a directive to members of Congress. In fact, my colleagues and I on the House Budget Committee will be releasing our budget in the coming weeks, and while it may contain some of the President’s priorities, it will be more indicative of Congress’ priorities for the American people. Chairman Steve Womack (R-AR) expressed the Committee’s intent to draft a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions, and I look forward to presenting that budget to all of you soon.
CLICK HERE to watch my question time with OMB Director Mulvaney.
Turning focus to his new infrastructure proposal, President Trump met with the bipartisan congressional leadership as well as state and local leaders from around the nation last week. Our very own Georgia House Speaker David Ralston was in attendance, and he characterized the infrastructure proposal as “transformative” for transportation in Georgia.
From the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which is a critical economic engine for Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties, to Express Lanes on SR-400, to innovative traffic relief projects on I-85, to improved rural broadband access, to expanded options for communities that value transit, this infrastructure proposal can be in fact be transformative for our state. We will need all hands on deck to ensure that we get a final product on the President’s desk that reflects our unique needs and gives taxpayers a dollars’ worth of value for a dollars’ worth of spending.
If you read my newsletter, you may wonder why I so often talk about SHEP—a project located along the Georgia coast that’s a long drive or even a short flight away from the Seventh District. That’s because our ports are incredible drivers of economic growth and support nearly 30,000 jobs in the Seventh District! In fact, between Gwinnett and Forsyth, our congressional district is one of the biggest beneficiaries of increased investment in this project because it helps us get more Georgia- and American-made products to market faster. That’s why I took time last week to discuss this issue with the White House’s head budget writer Mick Mulvaney. Throughout the week, Director Mulvaney highlighted the fact that this Georgia project received a higher allocation of funding than any other project in its category, and there could be significantly more funding in the weeks ahead as a result of the completion of the President’s budget documents and passage of a major infrastructure bill.
This past weekend marked the beginning of the new year for many people in Georgia’s Seventh District. As you may know, the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated across Asia, is one of the most significant holidays for many families in our community including those from Vietnam, South Korea, China, Taiwan, and more. This weekend, I was fortunate enough to celebrate Tet – the celebration from Vietnam – and ring in the Year of the Dog with the Vietnamese-American Community of Georgia. It was a fantastic celebration of all that we have achieved together last year and all that we looked forward to building in the new year. It has been a pleasure to represent the over 13,000 Vietnamese-Americans who call our district home, and I truly appreciate their invitation and warm welcome. If you have not attended an event like this, I certainly encourage you to do so. Our community is rich with a diversity of cultures that each bring a unique heritage that makes our community and America a great place to live, work, and raise a family. I wish everyone and their families good fortune and prosperity in the coming Year of the Dog!
Rep. Woodall pictured with local leaders and members of the Vietnamese American community
Honoring excellence in our community could easily be considered a full-time job, as we have an abundance of it. Whether it’s our business community, our educators, our nonprofit organizations, or so many more, excellence is the standard – and folks across the Seventh District prove it time and again. Last week, Forsyth County held its annual Excellence in Business Awards, and as the ceremony demonstrated, business doesn’t have to be limited to revenue streams and profits. While Scientific Games took home the award for traditional businesses, The Place of Forsyth County was honored with that recognition for nonprofits. I couldn’t be prouder of our community for the way we handle – no pun intended – our business. We do so many different things well here at home, but we strive for excellence not only in the way we produce a product or provide a service, but in how we look after our neighbors and take care of one another along the way. Congratulations to this year’s winners, but also their fellow nominees! Thank you all for what you do!
We hear a lot about investing in the next generation, and there’s a great deal that goes into that. Certainly parents and mentors lead the charge, but our educators and counselors play a vital role as well. Our teachers instill our young people with the academic skills they’ll need to be successful, but as we all know, there’s more to the process than just learning the material. Our school counselors play such an important role in bridging the gap between academia and practical application. It is often offering guidance, sometimes it’s just a listening ear, and almost always, it’s the caring spirit that accompanies these dedicated individuals who serve our community. We have a remarkable group throughout the district, but as you may have heard, six Gwinnett County public schools were recently recognized by the American School Counselor Association as national leaders in the field. They join a select group of those earning this recognition since the program’s inception in 2004, and I’m grateful for the example they set, as well as the difference they’re making in the lives of so many young people. Keep up the great work!
One thing that both Democrats and Republicans do agree on is that the Federal budgeting process is broken. Deadlines are missed, commitments aren’t met, and reconciliation is not always utilized. Part of the issue is that we are still working with budget process guidelines that have been largely untouched since 1974. That, however, is expected to change.
This week, leadership is expected to announce the Members of the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. An overlooked but important section of the recently passed bipartisan budget agreement included the establishment of this sixteen-member committee, made up of four members each of the minority and majority in each chamber. They will be tasked with offering recommendations and legislative solutions to improve the efficacy of the budget and appropriations process. From proposals like biennial budgeting or baseline budget reform, there is no lack of ideas for this committee to consider, and I am excited to see what the Committee produces once it is underway.
Member of Congress
WASHINGTON, DC – This Wednesday, February 14, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall will join CSPAN’s Washington Journal from 8 – 8:30AM to discuss the recently released budget and infrastructure proposals from the White House.
Who: Representative Rob Woodall (GA 07) and C-SPAN's Pedro Echevarria
What: A half hour interview to discuss the President’s infrastructure and budget proposals, and the ongoing conversations on Capitol Hill regarding these topics.
When: Wednesday, February 14, 8 – 8:30AM
How to tune in: Live broadcast on CSPAN and CSPAN Online beginning at 8AM.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.
For those of you who have joined me the last two weeks for our telephone town hall discussions from Washington, thank you, and I hope you found them as helpful as I did. If you weren’t able to join for either to this point, but would like to participate, I’ll be hosting another discussion tomorrow at 7:40PM. I hope to visit with you soon.
If this time still doesn’t work out with your schedule, don’t ever hesitate to contact me at my Lawrenceville or Washington office, or reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input and partnership on the many challenges facing our community and country are invaluable, and that is exactly why I look forward to these opportunities to share updates and chat with folks back home as business on Capitol Hill moves forward. Thank you again for all you do, and I hope to talk with you on Tuesday!
The President signed the Bipartisan Budget Act early Friday morning. This legislation makes crucial investments to rebuild and restore our military, allowing us to finally give our soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and all other servicemen and women the resources they need. This is money that will go towards repairing our depleted Air Force, recruiting more pilots, providing training to prevent tragic accidents, and equipping our military to combat the growing threats around the world and win any battle we ask them to fight.
Terrorism still poses a daily threat to America and our allies, rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran continue to threaten global conflicts, and as a result, we have increased our demands on our military all while failing to provide them with the appropriate resources to actually counter these threats to our national and global security. Our military depends on adequate and reliable funding and the patchwork, stopgap measures we’ve been forced to accept for too long are wholly inadequate. Our men and women in uniform have enough to worry about; uncertainty about whether or not they will get paid or have the resources to do their jobs should never be on their minds. With the recent budget deal signed by President Trump, we can put those worries to rest and allow them to do what they do better than anyone on the planet—defend their nation.
Last week, the House also passed several pieces of bipartisan legislation to improve collaboration with our allies abroad. H.R. 1997, the "Ukraine Cybersecurity Cooperation Act of 2017," moves to address serious cyber aggressions by bad actors like Russia that threaten both America and Ukraine. H.R. 2646, the "United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act," recognizes the critical role that Jordan plays in the Middle East by extending a program created in 2016 that increases America’s military cooperation with our ally and establishing a new enterprise fund that will help Jordan build a stable and self-sustaining economy. H.R. 3851, the "War Crimes Rewards Expansion Act," empowers U.S. courts to bring war criminals and perpetrators of genocide to justice by extending the War Crimes Rewards Program to fugitives who are captured and tried here in America. Together, these types of bills reaffirm America’s commitment to justice, security, and peace to both our allies and our adversaries.
Last week, the House passed H.R. 1153, the “Mortgage Choice Act” – a bill that would make adjustments to the Truth in Lending Act to ensure that consumers have increased choice in mortgage and settlement services under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Qualified Mortgage Rule (QM Rule). As you may know, the QM Rule came into effect in 2014 as a result of President Obama’s Dodd-Frank Act and established minimum underwriting standards for consumer mortgages. Specifically, the QM Rule requires lenders to make a good faith effort to determine that consumers are able to repay the mortgage before it is taken out. Under the QM Rule, such loans prohibit risky features, provide safe harbor from liability to the lender, and limit the amount of upfront points and fees that can the lender can charge.
H.R. 1153 focuses on that last point – the amount of points and fees that the lender can charge upfront, which may not exceed three percent of the total loan amount for a loan to be a Qualified Mortgage. Whether you’re like me and you like to shop around for the services with least amount of fees or if you prefer a one stop shop, I advise you to be careful if you’re hoping to secure a Qualified Mortgage. That’s because the law, as it is currently written, is not clear when it comes to defining what constitutes a “fee” or a “point” towards the QM Rule’s points and fees cap. In fact, the definition varies greatly depending upon who is making the loan and what arrangements are made by consumers to obtain title insurance, and as a result, many consumers can easily find themselves in a situation in which the loan no longer meets the Qualified Mortgage criteria. For that I reason, I proudly joined my colleagues in supporting H.R. 1153, which will provide clarification by excluding from the QM Rule’s definition of fees and points: 1) insurance held in escrow, and 2) fees paid to companies affiliated with the creditor from the costs that would be considered in calculating the three percent limitation. I am committed to ensuring that consumers have the greatest amount of flexibility when it comes making choices, and it is my hope that the senate will quickly take up and pass this important piece of legislation.
Capitol Hill was a-buzz last week dealing with yet another funding deadline. However, this deadline wasn’t just met with another short-term funding bill; it was also met with a budget agreement that I hope will create a smoother path for passing our appropriations bill next year. If you recall from last year, the House passed an entire Fiscal Year 2018 spending package, on time and ahead of schedule, but unfortunately, the Senate never acted on it. That said, full year appropriations bills, which will now be able to move forward in both chambers under this budget agreement, are the only way I know how to fully fund the priorities of the American people. While the budget agreement is not perfect, nor is it the one I would have crafted if I had been the sole author, I am pleased that the agreement includes many provisions that stand to benefit our great state of Georgia.
One of the biggest wins for our state is that the bill includes a specific section that will help Georgia’s electricity ratepayers with the inclusion of an expanded nuclear production tax credit. This credit – which has long been supported by Republicans and Democrats in Georgia’s Congressional delegation – is critical to the construction of stacks 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle. And for anyone who receives their electricity from Georgia Power, Sawnee EMC, or Jackson EMC in our area, this credit will directly affect your electricity bills every month.
Additionally, the deal included a provision that will prevent devastating cuts to safety net hospitals such as Grady Memorial Hospital. In fact, Georgia’s safety net hospitals were slated to lose a total of $36 million in 2018, $11 million of which was supposed to come from Grady alone. Such cuts were mandated by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and can have a devastating impact on those hospitals that treat a high number of uninsured patients in states that chose not to expand Medicaid. I am thrilled that this bill provides certainty to our hospitals so that their doors can remain open to those who need care the most.
On the farming front, the agreement includes a provision that makes seed cotton eligible for the farm safety net. For too long, our farmers have felt the impacts of unfavorable economic conditions, and it is my hope that this provision provides our cotton farmers with the financial stability they need when crop prices drop below certain levels.
While I could continue to list ways in which Georgia will benefit from this deal, I briefly want to mention that the deal also provides essential funding to combat the opioid epidemic, permanently repeals the Medicare therapy cap, supports mental health programs, and ensures that community health centers can provide vital services to all Americans who rely on their care. That said, I look forward to sending a long-term Fiscal Year 2018 spending bill to President Trump’s desk in the coming weeks, and I hope that you will reach out to my office if you have any questions about the budget agreement.
The 2018 Winter Olympics are officially underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Athletes who have worked toward this moment their entire lives will be competing on the world stage on behalf of our nation. The 244 athletes that are set to compete this year as part of Team USA is the largest athlete delegation in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, and this achievement surely serves as a testament to these athletes’ talent and steadfast commitment to their craft.
Georgia proudly has two of its own, Chris Kinney and Elana Meyers Taylor, competing in the men's and women’s bobsled events, and I know we all look forward to cheering them on as a valuable part of Team USA. With the Olympic Games comes a renewed spirit of pride and patriotism, Americans can be proud of the extraordinary dedication these athletes and their families have demonstrated to achieve their goal of competing in the Winter Olympics.
One of the most rewarding aspects of serving as your representative in Washington is the remarkably gifted and dedicated individuals I have the honor of working alongside. The list of people I could talk about is extensive, but one in particular you may have seen in the news recently. Chelsea Haley is an educator in Marietta, Georgia, now, but before she began her teaching career, I was proud to have her on my team in Washington as an intern while she completed her studies at the University of Georgia. Chelsea was a hard-working, servant leader then, and she continues to take her servant’s heart wherever she goes. If you haven’t read the story about the amazing ways she’s affected the lives of others, please do. You won’t regret it! I couldn’t be prouder of Chelsea, but the truth is, we have so many wonderful people doing amazing things across the district and state that it just drives home how lucky we are to live in such a special place. I’ve often said that our community leads by example – making our voice so much stronger – and here we have further proof, and I’m humbled and grateful.
Being a student athlete is a great way for young people to not only develop their talents such that they can help them advance their education down the road; it’s a great way to teach those intangible qualities that are so important in life: discipline, dedication, teamwork, and perseverance. It’s no secret that the Seventh District turns out some of the finest athletes in the state and region, but with every passing class of young people, we as a community come together to celebrate their success, and wish them well in the next chapter. Just recently across Forsyth County high schools, over 40 students have signed collegiate athletic scholarships! Gwinnett County also continued its tradition of excellence by producing a wellspring of incredible young student-athletes, and was just highlighted by ESPN as one of nation’s premier counties for football talent. That’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of the student-athletes, of course, but also to the mentorship of parents, teachers, coaches, and more. Congratulations to you all, and best of luck!
In the White House, the President is expected to unveil its long-awaited infrastructure proposal to Congress and the American people. A new report identified Atlanta as the 8th worst city in the world and the 4th worst city in America for traffic congestion, rivaling Los Angeles, New York, Paris, and London for the dubious distinction. That’s the bad news; the good news is that we can do so much better, and we are already making progress toward that end. I helped author the FAST Act in 2015, which committed more than $1 billion a year to the State of Georgia annually. In conjunction with increased state and local investments, we are on our way to reducing commute times, completing priority projects on-time and on-budget, making our roads safer, and putting the infrastructure in place to take full advantage of a growing economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to fulfill the President’s promise to make America’s infrastructure great again.
In the Senate, I expect immigration to come to the forefront as members begin working on a bipartisan deal that reflects the President’s “four pillars.” I am committed to a permanent solution for DACA recipients that bolsters border security, strengthens enforcement, puts American citizens first, and ensures that we won’t be dealing with future generations of DACA recipients who are stuck in legal purgatory. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has outlined a simple, fair floor procedure whereby any senator can offer their proposals and they will receive an up or down vote. I will be closely tracking their progress, and look forward to hearing your feedback on any final product that results.
In the House, we will be considering a package of bills that continue to right-size our regulatory responsibilities and streamline red tape for American consumers and businesses in Rules Committee and subsequently on the floor. In the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, we’ll be reviewing progress on the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) technology, which has taken on greater importance in the wake of recent rail tragedies and incidents.
Member of Congress
I’d like to again thank everyone who participated in last week’s Telephone Town Hall Meeting. As usual, we had a great crowd – reaching over 800 folks – with lots of good questions, and I certainly always appreciate your feedback. I hope you found it as helpful as I did. If you weren’t able to join us for that discussion, though, and would like to participate in future events, I have good news! This Wednesday at 7PM (time subject to Front Porch availability – might have to be just a little later) you can join me again for our next conversation. From infrastructure, to immigration reform, to government funding and beyond, there are many important issues on the agenda in coming weeks and months, and I am eager to share updates with you, as well as continue our partnership in confronting America’s challenges. I hope you’ll join me this Wednesday. You can find all the information you’ll need to call in right here. I look forward to speaking with you!
On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump’s very first State of the Union address was broadcast live into the homes of millions of families throughout America and around the globe. In a speech watched by over 45 million people, President Trump reached out to Americans from all walks of life who yearn for freedom, opportunity, and security, and he promised a return to government by the people, for the people, and of the people.
CLICK HERE to read a transcript of the speech
Over the past twelve months, we have accomplished some amazing achievements together. We’ve halted or repealed more burdensome and unnecessary federal red tape in the first year of this new Administration than ever before in American history. We’ve also passed historic tax cuts that put $1.5 trillion back into the pockets of workers, families, and businesses. We have seen entrepreneurs add nearly two million new jobs since President Trump took office, wages climb, and unemployment rates fall to multi-decade lows.
Both small and large businesses have finally been able to switch their focus from merely surviving the political and regulatory onslaught under the previous Administration to finding ways to hire, invest, and expand. That’s led to millions of Americans benefitting from higher wages, bonuses, or more tax-free pay, and in many cases all three. No matter your political leanings, we should all welcome this economic progress.
In addition to unleashing the American economy, the President has nominated and Congress has confirmed not only a Supreme Court Justice but also more circuit court judges than any new president in history—judges, by the way, who rule based on the Constitution rather than their own personal ideology. The President reiterated his Administration’s commitment to an “America first—but not America alone” policy by highlighting that we provide more funding for development aid for needy, struggling, and underprivileged people around the world than any other nation. We have also begun rebuilding our military by investing more in training, state-of-the-art equipment, pay raises for active duty troops, and missile defense. We have redoubled our commitment to uphold our sacred promises to America’s veterans enacting the most significant reform of the VA in my lifetime to ensure that veterans are treated with the respect and care they have earned by department employees. We’ve enacted legislation, including my own bill, to streamline the path to a good career by cutting bureaucracy and enacting an historic expansion of GI Bill benefits to ensure our veterans have access to a top-notch education.
Those are just a few of America’s accomplishments over the past twelve months, and I can’t wait to continue this work in 2018 and beyond. In the months ahead, I look forward to working with the President to add an immigration deal to this list of accomplishments that can win the support of the American people, welfare reform that moves more Americans off government support and onto independence and financial security, and a major infrastructure package that will facilitate economic growth and improve the quality of life for all Americans who depend on our roads, bridges, ports, waterways, and airports. As always, your constructive feedback is valuable to me and I encourage you to reach out and share your own priorities.
For the third time, the House has passed funding for the Department of Defense to equip our men and women in uniform with the resources necessary to protect our country, but each bill continues to sit in the Senate, waiting for the threatened filibusters to end so that a bill can head to the President’s desk for a signature. Time and time again, we have heard our military leaders express their frustration about funding uncertainty, with some even saying such uncertainty is the number one threat to our military’s readiness. That’s right. One of the biggest threats to our servicemen and women is not a foreign enemy, rogue nation, or terrorist cell, but rather the inability to defeat a filibuster in the Senate and provide predictable and sustained funding to provide them the resources to safely and successfully fulfill their duties. It is irresponsible and dangerous for the Senate not to pass a full-year funding bill for our military and it is my sincere hope that the third time is in fact the charm as the Senate now receives H.R. 695, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018.”
Last Friday, White House Counsel Donald McGahn notified House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) that President Trump had agreed to declassify an Intelligence Committee-produced memorandum relating to possible abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the FBI and the Department of Justice. Following that declassification, the Intel Committee released the memo to the public.
Cable news networks and national newspapers have devoted weeks of coverage and hundreds of column inches to discussing the memo, its effects, the appropriateness of Congressional oversight, the needs of the Intelligence Community, and more. Now that the memo is public, you can read if for yourself—unfiltered and uncensored. You can CLICK HERE to go to the Intelligence Committee’s website for an official copy.
You can’t have a great community without great people, and we have some truly amazing folks throughout the Seventh District. You can find them around every corner, doing remarkable things that range from teaching the next generation of leaders, to starting businesses that employ hundreds of their neighbors, to investing their own time and resources to serving those in need. While we can – and should – thank these men and women throughout the year as we encounter them, I’m grateful we here at home understand how important it is to publicly recognize their work and commitment. Last week we did just that in both Forsyth and Gwinnett, and while through slightly different lenses, the message is the same: thank you for a job well done. On Friday, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce held its annual dinner celebrating local leaders, and just a couple days prior, the 2018 Best of Forsyth ceremony took place. These are important opportunities to thank those who have contributed a great deal to our community, but also inspire the next generation of movers and shakers, and I’m grateful to each and every one for what they do. To all those receiving awards, and all those nominated, Congratulations and keep up the great work!
19 million Americans – 33 percent of the entire Medicare population – and over 550,000 Georgians are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. These comprehensive plans are highly rated by their members, and statistics show that 90 percent of seniors are happy with their Medicare Advantage plans. In an effort to support these seniors, hundreds of my House colleagues from both sides of the political aisle sent a letter to Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), asking that as CMS completes its annual review of the program and works on readjusting reimbursements and coverage options, that it commits itself to ensuring that all readjustments support the program’s goals. We must ensure our seniors are getting the service that they deserve from CMS, and I’m proud that Democrats and Republicans are working together to achieve that goal.
CLICK HERE to read the Medicare Advantage letter
BIG VICTORY FOR LOCAL FARMERS, BUSINESSES, AND STATE REGULATORS
After several legal challenges and input from various stakeholders who would be negatively affected by the Obama Administration’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a two year delay in the rule’s enforcement. This demonstrates the Trump Administration’s seriousness in its commitment to repeal the WOTUS rule, which unlawfully exerted federal jurisdiction over state and local waterways. From the beginning, Administrator Pruitt expressed his desire to rein-in the EPA and return enforcement of the Clean Water Act back to its original Congressional intent. The delay will now allow the EPA to continue looking into ways to replace the Obama WOTUS rule so that its scope is limited to what is required by law. I have always said that those who are on the ground with knowledge of the area are best equipped to manage that land, and Administrator Pruitt’s follow-through demonstrates that shared belief.
This week the House will consider H.R. 772, the “Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017,” H.R. 1153, the “Mortgage Choice Act of 2017,” and H.R. 4771, the “Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act of 2018.” In addition, I expect that the House will consider a bill to fund the government beyond the current February 8th deadline. You can find the most updated funding bill text by visiting http://docs.house.gov.
Finally, as I talked about earlier in this newsletter, I will be hosting another Town Hall Meeting this week. You can find all the details below.
Town Hall Meeting
Wednesday, February 7th
7:00PM – 7:45PM
Call-In Number: (877) 229-8493
I look forward to talking with you on Wednesday!
Member of Congress
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., greets officials from The Marena Group in Lawrenceville during a recent visit to the business. (Special Photo)
A Lawrenceville-based company that produced medical-grade compression apparel recently received a visit from U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall.
Woodall, R-Ga., recently visited the Marena Group, whose apparel covers a wide range of fields, from surgical recovery to athletic performance improvement. The congressman’s office said he highlighted the importance of job-creators and policy-makers working together during his visit to the 24-year old company, which was founded by Vera and Bill Watkins.
“Marena is yet another example of the drive that makes us successful,” Woodall said in a statement. “The Watkins had a dream, and they’ve worked tremendously hard to turn it into an industry-leading reality. When that’s the character of your community, it makes carrying our message to Washington much more effective.
“Local control, business-friendly regulatory climates, and tax relief that spurs growth and investment isn’t just a philosophy, it’s a proven approach with tangible results.”
The Marena Group has received several recognitions over the years, including Georgia’s Small Business Exporter of the Year Award in 2001 and Apparel magazine’s Grand All Star honor in 2006.
Marena Group Chief Operating Office Patricia J. Royak said the company’s representatives talked to Woodall about its products and values. they also discussed Marena’s efforts to stay ahead technologically and maintain its ISO certification and FDA registration.
“Representative Woodall’s visit to our factory came at an exciting time for Marena Group,” Royak said. “His support of local businesses and industry driving growth and jobs in Georgia has inspired us to continue looking for opportunities in our own back yard.
“We appreciate his genuine interest and recognition that our patent pending product and technical designs, some inspired by NASA, would benefit many potential partnerships, such as with local hospitals and VA.”
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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Retweeted by @RepRobWoodall
Great to have Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao join us on Capitol Hill today to further discuss the Administrat… https://t.co/tIESEiKePy
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America's budgeting process is flawed, and hasn't been reformed in more than 4 decades, but we now have the opportu… https://t.co/rjnC4ydE4h