Rob Woodall

Rob Woodall

GEORGIA's 7th DISTRICT

Georgians See Relief on Horizon as House Sends Dodd-Frank Reform to President Trump

2018/05/22

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)” to drastically reform and reduce the many excessive regulations placed on local financial institutions by the Dodd-Frank Act, which had a disproportionately negative effect on community-based entities and the customers they serve. When the Dodd-Frank Act was passed, it was billed as Wall Street reform, but smaller institutions – such as local banks and credit unions – lacking the personnel and financial resources of larger firms found themselves unable to compete and serve the needs of the community. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07) supported the measure and called it much-needed relief for customers and local lenders alike.

“I thank Rep. Woodall for his support of S. 2155, the ‘Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act,’” said Gwinnett-based Peach State Federal Credit Union CEO Marshall Boutwell.  “This bipartisan regulatory relief will reduce the red tape for Americans trying to get capital, foster economic growth, and empower Americans to make independent financial decisions. The growth of federal regulations on Georgia’s community financial institutions negatively affects our ability to serve consumers and has contributed to the consolidation in our industry because of the cost and burden of compliance.  The common sense reforms in S. 2155 provide relief and will allow credit unions like Peach State to continue to focus on serving consumers, rather than meeting arbitrary measures of regulatory compliance.”

When small institutions are unable to absorb increasing regulatory costs, they must pass them on to their customers in the form of higher interest rates and fees, merge with a larger institution, or as was often the case in recent years, close their doors. In the aftermath of Dodd-Frank, small banks and credit unions could not keep up with the personnel requirements of the excessive new regulatory framework, and in many cases were prohibited from even offering products and services that their customers sought. The bipartisan reforms contained in S. 2155 that will soon be signed into law, have proven to be a welcome sight for many.

“Delta Community believes section 101 (of S. 2155) will provide relief from certain disadvantageous requirements within the Qualified Mortgage (QM) rule for home loans we hold on our balance sheet,” added Delta Community Credit Union CEO Hank Halter. “With these particular loans, we retain the risk and are generally confident with our ability to effectively manage this risk given our close relationship with members and familiarity with their personal circumstances. The loans on our balance sheet are still subject to regulatory supervision and testing through our annual Safety and Soundness Exam. Without the relief being considered under section 101, we and other lenders would be required to apply the QM rule with a one-size-fits-all approach, which may preclude us from making more deeply informed and personalized loan decisions. In such an instance, some borrowers will be declined and not have the opportunity to own a home.”

Broad support for S. 2155 is found not only on both sides of the political aisle, but also includes: American Bankers Association; the Bipartisan Policy Center; the Credit Union National Association; the Financial Services Roundtable; the Independent Community Bankers of America; the National Association of Home Builders; the National Association and Housing and Redevelopment Officials; the National Association of REALTORS; the National Federation of Independent Business; and 50 state bankers associations.

What else are they saying?

“I appreciate the efforts of the House, and especially Congressman Woodall, in passing S.2155,” said Georgia United Credit Union CEO Debbie Smith. “This bill is a carefully crafted bipartisan bill that includes common sense improvements to the nation’s financial rules that will allow community institutions, like Georgia United, to better serve our members and communities. It will open doors for more creditworthy borrowers and businesses, and will contribute to local economic growth and job creation.”

“Georgia Credit Unions are extremely pleased that the House has passed S. 2155 and that regulatory relief is on the way for community-based financial institutions,” Georgia Credit Union Affiliates President & CEO Mike Mercer said.  “We applaud the efforts of those members of the House and Senate who voted for S. 2155, the bipartisan Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.  This common sense bill delivers on its promises and keeps important consumer protections in place while allowing community-based financial institutions – like credit unions – to do their job and improve the financial well-being of the working families they serve. One key element of the bill will allow financial institutions to further help protect seniors from elder financial abuse. Other key provisions in this bill ease mortgage lending, and free up capital for small businesses.  These essential steps will help grow an economy that has suffered from both a financial crisis and the impact of regulations that treat all financial institutions the same without focusing on the bad actors who led us into the financial crisis.”

“I want to thank the House for their efforts to bring common-sense regulatory relief to community based financial institutions,” said Atlanta Postal Credit Union CEO Charles Head.  “One area that will allow our credit union to help with economic development is the release of arbitrary constraints on credit unions lending for one to four family, non-owner occupied residential property.  When a bank makes a loan on a unit such as a duplex, it is a mortgage loan.  If a credit union makes the same loan it is classified as a business loan, which goes against the credit union business lending cap that was put into place during the late 1990’s; prior to this addition credit unions had no business lending cap.   S. 2155 gives credit unions  parity with the banks and will free up capital for other small business loans.  Thank you, Rep. Woodall, for understanding that helping credit unions is also helping your constituents.”

Woodall concluded by thanking those who had played an integral role in crafting the consensus solution now headed to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

“Irrespective of intent, the Dodd-Frank Act put an undue burden on our small-town banks and local credit unions across the Seventh District, the State of Georgia, and the entire country,” Woodall said. “As they have said, it left them unable to compete against the large institutions, and worse yet, unable to serve their neighbors like they always had. The bill we passed today reforms those misguided regulations to restore the freedom to offer customers the financial products and relationship-based services they want, and I’m grateful for the prolonged partnership of our leaders here at home who have invested so much time and energy to getting the right reform to the President’s desk for signature.”

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia , which includes significant portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.                                                                                      

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Washington Watch - 5/21/18

2018/05/21

HOUSE CONTINUES DEBATE ON 2018 FARM BILL  

Last week, the House began considering H.R. 2, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018,” also known as the Farm Bill. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) worked with his committee’s members to come up with a bill that would create market certainty for our farmers and would ensure we maintain our nation’s food security into the future. The bill also included improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – commonly called Food Stamps – which would encourage able-bodied adults without children and those with school-age children to seek employment or enroll in work training or an education program so that they can get back on their feet and get a job that can help them feed their families. 

Unfortunately, after years of hard work, dozens of hearings, and the consideration of 51 amendments on the House floor over a two day period, the bill was unable to garner enough support to pass. Instead, the House decided to continue working on it to make improvements and come up with a better way to help our farmers and food assistance beneficiaries.  

It is all too easy for many of us to take for granted the food available in our grocery stores at any given time, but it doesn’t get there by accident. Our local farmers in Forsyth County and across the great State of Georgia take great risk and work tremendously hard to ensure that availability, and whether it’s crop insurance, loan programs, investment in agricultural research, or other programs farmers use, we owe them that same commitment in providing long-term policy certainty. I’m hopeful the House will resolve its differences soon and bring an even better bill up for a vote. If you’d like to watch me speak about the farm bill on the House floor, click the picture below. 

 

GEORGIA PRIMARY ELECTION ON TUESDAY

Tomorrow, folks from all around the state of Georgia will head to the polls to vote for a number of federal, state, and local offices. If you’d like to check your voter registration status or find your polling place, you can log-in to the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page to find everything that you need. You can also call or visit your local elections office if you have any questions leading up to the primary. I’ve included their contact information below for your convenience. 

Gwinnett County Voter Registrations and Elections Office
455 Grayson Highway, Suite 200
Lawrenceville, GA 30046 
Phone: 678-226-7210

Forsyth County Voter Registrations and Elections Office
1201 Sawnee Drive
Cumming, GA 30040
Phone: 770-781-2118, Ext. 9

While registration has closed for the primary, you can still register for the general election coming up in November. The Georgia Secretary of State provides the voter registration application online, or you can also complete it by mailing in a completed application which is available HERE.

 

AMERICA CELEBRATES OUR BRAVE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

I was proud to join my colleagues in Congress last week, as well as millions of American from across the country, in honoring our dedicated law enforcement officers as part of National Police Week. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy first designated May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day, and Congress established the week in which it falls as National Police Week to honor those heroes who have lost their lives in the line of duty. 

Police officers serve in our communities every day with distinction, and while this one week is not nearly enough to express our gratitude for their commitment, I believe it is important that we take this time to pay tribute to those officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, those families who have lost a loved one, and those men and women who continue to risk their own lives by faithfully following the most noble of callings− to serve and protect.  I am particularly grateful for the dedicated service of all of our law enforcement in Gwinnett County and Forsyth County and for those in our local community who also honored these heroes’ sacrifice. 

I was honored to sponsor the rule for H.R. 5698, the “Protect and Serve Act of 2018” and share my support for our police officers on the House floor. This bill makes it a federal crime to intentionally cause or to attempt to cause serious bodily harm to any law enforcement officer and signals in the absolute strongest terms that we are committed to our men and women in uniform. The “Protect and Serve Act” passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support and in addition to this bill, Congress also passed a number of other measures, listed below, to support law enforcement by encouraging the building of alliances between police and communities and providing additional resources to state and local prosecutors to help address the backlog of cold cases that can be prosecuted through new DNA evidence.

Though we spent last week specifically reflecting on the sacrifices of our heroes, it is my hope that we continue to show our appreciation each and every day for our men and women in law enforcement, as they are truly the heart and soul of so many communities across America.

 

TAX REFORM IS A CONSTANT CHALLENGE

Last week I joined with some of my House colleagues in sending a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to support Tax Reform Part 2, which should center on adopting H.R. 25, the “FairTax.” As I’ve said before, many FairTax principles were included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but like so many of you, I always want to do better, and the FairTax is the absolute best that we can hope for.  Today, the payroll tax is the largest tax that 80% of American families pay, and the FairTax is the only bill in Congress that tackles that challenge on behalf of working families.

Please CLICK HERE to read my letter to President Trump supporting the FairTax.

 

LOCAL COMPANY TESTIFIES BEFORE U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE ON PROPOSED TARIFFS

From North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations with Canada and Mexico to continuing talks with China, trade continues to remain in the news headlines. But the real conversations with our trading partners are not had in the newspaper, but rather around the respective negotiation tables. To make these conversations as effective as they can be for America, it is critical that our officials listen to our American employers, companies, and workers about how important it is for the negotiators to strike the appropriate free trade/fair trade balance in these talks and that the eventual outcomes yield the best possible results for all parties involved. In fact, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) held a three-day public hearing last week on the proposed Section 301 tariffs at the U.S. International Trade Commission to do just that. 

As you may recall, the proposed Section 301 tariffs were announced in late March and target approximately $50 billion worth of Chinese imports. The proposed tariffs followed a Section 301 investigation that found the acts and trade policies of China pertaining to technology and intellectual property to be unreasonable or to negatively impact U.S. commerce. That said, the USTR hearing is an example of the democratic process at work, as it provided an opportunity for companies to appear before the interagency 301 Committee to provide their take on these proposed tariffs. 

In fact, one of our very own local business leaders, Ernest Tai, the CEO of LW Scientific, testified before the committee to share his thoughts and views as a medical device manufacturer on how these proposed tariffs would impact his company. It’s not every day that you and I think of centrifuges or microscope components as being items that have a significant impact on our lives, but for Ernest and the folks at LW Scientific, centrifuges and microscope parts are instrumental in the manufacturing of their final product. Stories like Ernest’s – of a successful small business that has unfortunately found itself entangled in the politics of trade negotiations – is why I wholeheartedly believe we must work to ensure that any application of tariffs are done in a strategic manner and are targeted towards specific industries and goods for valid national security reasons, not simply cobbled together to meet a certain dollar threshold, in hopes to address our trade deficits.

For that reason, it is my hope that Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the President can come to an agreement with China that ends China’s unfair trade practices and opens Chinese markets—both for our American supply chain and our finished goods.

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MOVES TO FURTHER PROTECT LIFE

On Friday, the Trump Administration announced that it would build on Congress’ efforts to withhold Title X funding from facilities engaging in abortions by moving forward with a proposal to establish a clear and distinct physical as well as financial separation between Title X programs and other programs or facilities where abortion procedures are supported, performed, or referred as a family planning service. 

This good news comes shortly after I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar regarding the need to reform the Title X Family Planning Program. As the letter states, the Title X program placed a clear wall between family planning activities and abortion at its inception, distinguishing that they are obviously dissimilar, and funding for family planning activities should never go towards abortion. However, those lines have been blurred with the requirement that Title X grantees provide referrals for abortion. Additionally, Title X sites have been permitted to be co-located within centers that provide abortion. These conditions violate the original intent of the program and must be stopped, and I am pleased that the President’s proposal seeks to ensure that we take the necessary steps to do just that. 

More so, I am thrilled that President Trump’s proposal works to buttress the many pro-life provisions Congress pushed across the finish line in the Fiscal Year 2018 spending bill, which ensures that not a single federal dollar can directly fund abortion. Since my first days here in Congress, I have worked to advocate for the protection of the unborn, and I will continue to do so for as long as I have the privilege of representing the Seventh District of Georgia.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: CARING FOR OUR SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN 

With the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) coming to the House floor this week, I have received quite a few messages about your priorities for our national defense programs. For all that the NDAA contains, from nuclear deterrence programs to the number of ships in our Navy, the number one issue folks have been writing about is ensuring the welfare of our troops and their families. As we all know, no one enters the military to get rich. We ask our bravest and smartest volunteers to forego careers in the private sector, where they are likely to earn much more for their talents, to protect us at home and abroad out of their love for their families, friends, and country. For that sacrifice, our men and women deserve to know that the nation stands behind them.

Here is an example of what one concerned neighbor wrote to me:

Clarence from Alpharetta:

Please support and sustain a pay increase that will keep military compensation comparable to private-sector compensation, not only in FY 2019 but also in subsequent years. Although federal law established the Employment Cost Index (ECI) as the default index for military pay increases, strained budgets and sequestration have created a challenging fiscal environment and an ongoing struggle to keep service members' pay raises on pace with their civilian peers', creating a pay-raise gap. Thankfully, Congress asserted its authority with the FY 2017 and FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Acts and matched military pay raises to the ECI, recognizing the service and sacrifice of the nation's service members and their families. While I am grateful for this recent support from Congress, I remain concerned about the cumulative pay-raise gap, created by the capped pay raises in FYs 2014,2015, and 2016, which currently stands at 2.6 percent. History has shown erosion in military pay comparability has a powerful, negative effect on recruiting and retention. In a challenging recruiting environment, America's all-volunteer force must be able to attract the most talented young people. Please exert your leadership to ensure the service and sacrifice of the all-volunteer force are recognized with pay raises consistent with private-sector wage growth. Year over year, your consistent support for these pay raises will assure future recruits that Congress is on their side.

_____________________________________________________________

 

Everything Clarence said is true.  And, the good news is that since President Trump took office, our military has received needed pay raises. What’s more, in the FY2019 NDAA that is coming to the House floor this week, there is a 2.6% pay increase for our troops matching the ECI and continuing the trend of the past couple years. This will be the highest increase in nine years, and it will also include special pay and bonuses for troops in high-demand jobs.  

I agree with Clarence: being able to recruit and retain America’s best and brightest in our Armed Forces is essential to keeping us safe and the world safe, especially as this NDAA calls for an increase in the size of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Naval and Air Reserve, and Air National Guard.  As we work on the NDAA this week, please know that we are not just working to make sure our military is the best in the world with the best equipment and hardware, but we are working to do more to serve our nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families. 

Please share with me your priorities and thoughts on the NDAA this week. You can read more about what the House Armed Services Committee has proposed in the FY2019 NDAA HERE. Together we are making a difference!

 

CUMMING AMERICAN LEGION VISIT PRECEDES CAPITOL HILL ACTION

Before I made my way back to Washington last week, I had the great honor of visiting with members of the Cumming American Legion. As is always the case, we had a candid and productive discussion about the issues facing the country, from what is being done to grow the economy and improve the VA system for all veterans, to what’s happening all around the world and on Capitol Hill..  Following that visit and several suggestions from the group about ways to improve the VA, I was proud to support the bipartisan “VA MISSION Act” – which passed the House by a vote of 347-70 as part of our efforts to make the VA function more effectively and efficiently for our veterans.  Nationally, the American Legion has been supportive of this bill, and I had the honor of leading the Rule to bring this important bill to the floor.

Back in 2014, the VA Choice program was established in order to allow veterans to receive care outside of the VA when the VA cannot provide it. While this program has been truly beneficial for many veterans, it added to an already confusing bureaucratic web of community care options available to veterans. The “VA MISSION Act” will consolidate all of the VA’s community care programs into one cohesive program and continue funding for the Choice program until that new program is actually established. Further, the bill expands the VA’s Post-9/11 Caregiver Program to provide for veterans of all eras, and it creates a process to review the VA’s physical assets to ensure the VA has the resources it needs to serve our nation’s heroes.

As I shared with the folks at the American Legion, there are differing opinions amongst our veterans – often times depending on their generation – regarding whether to invest in the existing VA system or allow more flexibility to see physicians outside the system. The “VA MISSION Act” strikes an important balance and emphasizes the importance of choice for each individual veteran. President Trump called on Congress to pass this bill before Memorial Day, and I am honored to have been able to play an important role in moving the bill to passage. I look forward to seeing the Senate pass the “VA MISSION Act” and President Trump sign it into law very soon. This Congress and our President promised that we would work together to fix the VA and give our veterans the benefits and healthcare they deserve. Now, we are seeing those promises fulfilled. 

 

GWINNETT SCHOOL OF MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY NAMED ONE OF AMERICA’S TOP HIGH SCHOOLS (AGAIN)!

In what has become an annual celebration, U.S. News and World Report has named the Lawrenceville-based Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST) one of the nation’s best high schools! Ranked 31st nationwide for all high schools, GSMST also holds the number one spot within Georgia, and the 12th spot for all Charter High Schools across the country. If you have ever had the opportunity to visit any of the students and personnel at GSMST, you know just how committed everyone there is to excellence.  They don’t do it for the accolades; but the reality is that when you love what you do and work hard at it, good things happen. Our community has long been a leader in so many areas, but certainly in education. We take that responsibility very seriously and have been a model of success for other communities across the country. When you have the dedicated, competent local leaders that we do, local control isn’t a catchphrase; it’s real-world results. Congratulations and keep up the great work!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD 

This week the House will consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA sets our nation’s defense policy for the upcoming year, everything from troop levels to weapons programs to military benefits to our nuclear arsenal and more.  This year, the House Rules Committee is expected to consider roughly 550 individual amendments to the bill. That’s more amendments that we’ve had to this annual bill in any year since I’ve been a member of Congress, and it might be the most amendments we’ve ever had at the Rules Committee on NDAA. It just goes to show how members of the House – Democrats and Republicans – are working to make our military better, stronger, and the envy of the world. 

The House is also expected to consider S. 2155, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act,” and S. 204, the “Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017.” Prior versions of these bills have already passed the House this Congress, and as the legislative process worked over the past few months, those bills were amended by the Senate, and now the House is in the position to send them to the President for his signature. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 5/14/18

2018/05/14

PRESIDENT TRUMP WITHDRAWS U.S. FROM IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Last week began with President Donald Trump announcing that the United States will be re-imposing sanctions on Iran, thereby ending our participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Since its outset, I have opposed this deal, as have many members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle. Simply put, this deal has provided relief to a critical adversary while allowing them to promote terrorism against the U.S. and our allies, harass our close ally Israel, sow further discord in the Middle East where we have worked so long to provide a path to prosperity for those who seek freedom, and continue widely documented human rights abuses. All of this to merely delay its acquisition of nuclear weapons for maybe a decade at the most.

Now we will no longer be limited in how we counter Iran’s aggressions. The United States will again be able to put pressure on Iran with the “harshest, strongest, most stringent sanctions,” as President Trump announced—much like we did to bring Iran to the negotiating table in the first place—to actually put an end to its pursuit of nuclear weapons and demand it make meaningful steps towards peace and stability. The United States and our allies want to ensure not only a nuclear-free Iran, but an Iran committed to peace, and we will not condone blatant efforts to subvert that goal. I look forward to working with Iran and our allies to actually make that happen in a more comprehensive and binding agreement.  It is my hope that a country suffering from high inflation and unemployment and increased domestic discord will recognize that the best thing for its people is to end the Iranian government’s reckless behavior and work with the rest of the world to ensure a safer future for everyone.

JOB OPENINGS HIT RECORD HIGH

Our economy continues to grow more and more favorable for the American worker. As the jobless rate drops and unemployment reaches a record low, job openings in the United States have also reached a record high of 6.6 million! That’s great news for folks, particularly in the industries of professional and business services, construction, transportation, warehousing, and utilities. This jobs climate allows Americans to be more selective with the opportunities they want to pursue and encourages employers to increase salaries and benefits in order to entice workers to join their team. The federal government also collected record breaking revenue last month, demonstrating further that our economy is strong and our potential to grow even more is there. That said, there are steps that the federal government can and should take, like making cuts to mandatory spending programs, to ensure this growth does not go to waste and pays down our national debt. We have to strike when the iron is hot, and there is no time like today when our economy is doing well to ensure that our fiscal house is in order so that future generations can prosper.

HOUSE PASSES BILL TO SAFEGUARD SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL

Last week, the House moved to make targeted reforms to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) to ensure that the federal government can meet its nuclear waste management obligations. For too long, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has not been able to follow through with claiming title to and transporting our nation’s spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) to a long-term storage facility as the NWPA tasked it to do nearly 30 years ago. As many of you know, Yucca Mountain, Nevada, has been formally designated as the site for the repository, however, the licensing and permitting process has been delayed, and subsequently, the financing mechanism no longer works as it was intended. That said, I hope you’d agree with me that we must do better for nuclear ratepayers, the taxpayers, and our nuclear facilities, which is why I joined my colleagues in supporting H.R. 3053 – a bipartisan bill that works to amend the NWPA so that we can not only continue to preserve Yucca Mountain as a waste repository, but so that we can also ensure that the federal government can follow through with its initial promises to nuclear energy facilities and ratepayers. 

Specifically, H.R. 3053 would reform the nuclear waste fund to better protect ratepayers, integrate federal nuclear waste management activities as we continue working towards the goal of permanent, geological disposal, and protect national security sites and budgetary resources to facilitate the eventual removal of radioactive material, just to name a few of its provisions. That said, should H.R. 3053 be enacted, these targeted reforms would directly benefit Georgia electricity ratepayers who receive their electricity from Georgia Power, Sawnee EMC, or Jackson EMC. Yucca Mountain might seem far away, but Plant Vogtle is right in our backyard, and all Georgians need a common-sense nuclear waste policy to rely on in the future.

I am pleased that this legislation moves us in the right direction by not only providing our nation’s nuclear energy producers, such as Georgia Power, the much needed reassurance that the federal government is committed to fulfilling its promises, but also by providing the 121 communities in 31 states that are currently living beside interim nuclear waste repositories with the certainty and security they need by transporting that waste to a permanent and secure repository. I hope you will join me in urging the Senate to quickly take up and pass this crucial piece of legislation. 

CONGRESS DISAPPROVES OF OBAMA-ERA AUTO FINANCING RULE

As most of us who have purchased a car know, you can sometimes get a better financing rate at the car dealership than you can at the bank. However, an Obama-era guidance issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) sought to undermine an auto dealer’s ability to lend.  In the Dodd Frank Act that created the CFPB, the CFPB was specifically prohibited from regulating auto loans.  Section 1029 of the Act reserved that regulatory authority specifically for the Federal Trade Commission, an agency perfectly capable of issuing such a rule and willing to work with stakeholders.  Often times having a car is the key to having a job, and in this growing economy, we cannot afford to have a family denied auto financing because of an overzealous CFPB.  That is why I was pleased our colleagues in the Senate sent S.J.Res. 57 to the House to eliminate CFPB’s guidance on auto dealer lending, and I was happy to support the resolution when it came to the House floor. I look forward to President Trump signing this measure so that we can return some sense back to our government’s regulatory regime.

SECRETARY OF STATE POMPEO SECURES RELEASE OF AMERICAN PRISONERS FROM NORTH KOREA

As many of you heard or saw on the news last Wednesday, our newly confirmed Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, successfully negotiated and secured the release of three Americans detained in North Korea. While Secretary Pompeo’s success in this endeavor comes as no surprise to those of us who knew him and worked alongside of him when he served in the House, I do want to take this opportunity to commend both him and the President for all of their hard work in ensuring that these three men arrived safely back to the States. This good news comes before President Trump is set to meet with the North Korean leader at the historic summit in just a few weeks’ time in Singapore, and while the release of these prisoners has been lauded by some as a friendly gesture leading up to these important talks and by others as a trap set by Kim Jong Un, I believe that it is a testament to the budding relations that have developed.  To that end, I am pleased that these men have the opportunity to reunite with their family and friends here at home, and it is my hope that all parties involved continue their willingness to come to the negotiating table to discuss a brighter future. 

ADVANCE VOTING RESOURCES FOR GWINNETT AND FORSYTH COUNTIES

As many of you know, May 22nd marks the election day for Georgia’s statewide primaries, but early voting is currently underway and will continue through May 21st. Also, it is not too late to request an absentee ballot, and the deadline to submit that application is May 18th. If you would like to call or visit your local elections office, you can do so using the contact information provided below.

Gwinnett County Voter Registrations and Elections Office
455 Grayson Highway, Suite 200
Lawrenceville, GA 30046 

Phone: 678-226-7210

Forsyth County Voter Registrations and Elections Office
1201 Sawnee Drive
Cumming, GA 30040

Phone: 770-781-2118, Ext. 9

If you missed the deadline to register for this round of voting, you can still register for the general election coming up in November by completing the Georgia Secretary of State’s Voter Registration online or by mailing in a completed application, which is available HERE. Also, you can check your voter registration status and find the polling place closest to you by logging in on the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. If you have any questions, you can visit the Secretary of State’s election homepage or contact your local elections office at the numbers listed above.

 

SUMMER IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER

With semesters winding to a close and warmer temperatures becoming the norm, it must mean summer is just about here! That brings a lot of good things to the table, and for most folks, the summer months are lined up with plenty to do. From family vacations, to college visits, part-time jobs, and so-on, it’s an exciting time of year. If you ever find yourself looking for ways to spend time with your neighbors or meet new folks, though, our community is fortunate to have a lot of opportunities for just that.  As has been the case in recent years, this year “Summer on the Lawn” will be returning to the Lawrenceville Square, and if you’ve never taken part in these events, I certainly encourage you to pencil at least one in on your schedule. From movies on the lawn, to concerts series, Fourth of July celebrations, and more, there’s something for everyone, and our community’s character has a way of shining through each time.

 

WORKING TOGETHER, CHANGING THE FUTURE

There are many things in life we can’t change, but there are also a great many things that we can. The change doesn’t happen overnight, and more often than not it requires a tremendous amount of partnership and dedication. When it comes to those things, our community is a standard-bearer. The proof is everywhere you turn, but one such example can be found in the recent Relay for Life at the Cumming Fairgrounds. Each year, communities like ours come together to raise awareness and funding for research, not to mention offer the solidarity and support that is so crucial for those fighting cancer. It’s a disease that affects so many each year, and sadly, we don’t always have control over when and how this challenge comes into our lives – but we do have control of how we move forward to help those in need and limit the impact on others in the future.  That’s what Relay for Life is all about, and I’m grateful for all those who made this possible. If you’d like to learn more about future events or how you can get involved, I hope you’ll keep an eye on their webpage.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is expected to consider H.R. 2, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018,” which is commonly referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill, as well as H.R. 5698, the "Protect and Serve Act of 2018," and S. 2372, the "VA MISSION Act of 2018." The Farm Bill is the most significant policy proposal to reform commodity support and nutrition programs that Congress will consider all year, and while I know that it is difficult to come to a consensus on how best to support our farmers, consumers, and economically challenged individuals who need supplemental food assistance, I hope that we will be able to come together this week to move this measure forward.   
                        

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Woodall Statement on President Trump's Withdrawal from Obama-era Iran Nuclear Agreement

2018/05/09

Washington, DC – On Tuesday, President Trump announced his intention to terminate United States participation in the 2015 Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which the President stated “failed to protect America’s national security interests.” He has also directed his Administration to immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions related to critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as its energy, petrochemical, and financial sectors. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07) opposed the Obama-led agreement in 2015, co-sponsoring a House Resolution formally disapproving of the measure, and today he reiterated that position following President Trump’s announcement.

“It was almost three years ago that President Obama entered into an ill-advised agreement that provided considerable sanctions relief to an Iranian regime that had offered absolutely no change from the state-sponsorship of terrorism, countless human rights violations, and history of deception regarding nuclear activity that had warranted the sanctions in the first place,” said Woodall. “I believed then – as I believe now – that a bad deal is worse than no deal at all, and I’m eager to work with the current Administration and our allies around the world to ensure the appropriate steps are taken to prevent a dangerous and untrustworthy Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons and neutralizing Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region.”

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia , which includes significant portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.                                                                                     

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District Connection - 5/7/18

2018/05/07

VIBRANT BUSINESS GROWTH IN THE 7TH DISTRICT IS LEADING THE WAY IN GEORGIA

Every day that you have given me the great honor of walking into the United States Capitol to cast a vote on your behalf has been an absolute pleasure, but what’s even more powerful to me than standing in the temple of our Republic is when I have the opportunity to visit with and learn from the people in our community who make that Republic so strong. 

Last week, I visited with four amazing, hometown businesses when I had the pleasure of meeting with the teams at Brightree in Lawrenceville, ProCare Prosthetics and Orthotics in Buford, Veritiv in Suwanee, and Metcam in Alpharetta. The common thread through all of these visits was how success lives in the 7th District and how important it is for the federal government to support businesses with limited regulation, how difficult it is to get great workers, and how important it is for employers to support their workers on the path to success. I want to thank each and every business leader and employee who took time out of their busy days to teach me more about how you're contributing to our community's growth and success.


Rep. Rob Woodall and Veritiv CEO Mary Laschinger at the company's headquarters in Suwanee

You probably won’t ever see their logo, but Veritiv in Suwanee has likely made the packaging for many products in your home or on your grocery store's shelves. They make specialized packaging solutions for all types of products, from mobile phones to large home appliances to food products, and their fleet of trucks is transporting those products all over Georgia and the surrounding states. From trade agreements to labor laws to highway programs, Veritiv is involved in every aspect of the production process and is bringing Georgia know-how to the southeastern U.S. And what’s more, Veritiv’s CEO, Mary Laschinger, is the only female Fortune 500 CEO in the Atlanta area. At a time when our society is focused on opening up opportunities for women and girls to succeed in formally closed business environments of all kinds, it’s especially heartening to see such a positive CEO like Mary who is committed to bringing a culture of success to Veritiv and the 7th District. 


Rep. Rob Woodall and the executive team at Metcam in Alpharetta

Another company that likely flies under the radar for many of us – but it certainly should not – is Metcam in Alpharetta. If you’ve ever walked down the hallway in a hotel and noticed those little red fire alarm boxes on the wall, you very well might have been looking at a red steel box made right here in Forsyth County. Metcam does sheet metal fabrication, finishing, assembly, and logistics all from its plant in Alpharetta. And the people at Metcam are so good at what they do that they’ve received three awards in the past 5 months: 2018 Small Manufacturer of the Year from the State of Georgia, 2017 CommScope Supplier of the Year, and 2017 Small Manufacturer of the Year from Forsyth County. Walking through the Metcam facility is a humbling experience because you meet dozens of employees who have been working for the company for years, who have contributed to its success, and who are proud of their daily labor. Nothing could be more important to share with our children than the pride that comes from working for your family and achieving success together with your community. 


Rep. Rob Woodall learns about Brightree's technological expertise in health care management in Lawrenceville

While it may seem like a stark departure from the machines and welding of Metcam’s metal manufacturing to Brightree’s high-tech workforce in Lawrenceville, I can tell you that the commitment of these corporate citizens to bettering our community and their customers and employees are identical. Brightree works with thousands of independent health care providers – specifically those who are providing home health care and home medical equipment – providing high-tech software to help them navigate the maze of Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance regulations. As we all get a little older and a little grayer, we see our family and friends needing more home health care and equipment, and as the home health industry grows, data solutions like the ones that Brightree offers will be more critical than ever before. The home health companies and medical equipment providers in the 7th District are committed to taking care of all of us when we need it, and the folks at Brightree are there to help take care of them, making certain that they’re getting paid on time, that they’re providing the appropriate care, and that we’re using 21st Century data technology to save taxpayers money. 


Rep. Rob Woodall meets with prosthetic specialists and patients at ProCare

Finally, I want to talk about some people with huge hearts; the folks at ProCare Prosthetics and Orthotics in Suwanee. Stephen Shulte and his staff are literally making people whole again day after day. I met with a military veteran who lost part of his leg in a motor vehicle accident, and ProCare’s staff is working with him and the Augusta VA Medical Center to get him back on his feet and back to walking around the neighborhood with his wife and family. And I met with Mohamed Massaquoi, a former UGA and Cleveland Browns wide receiver who lost four fingers on his left hand in an ATV accident. Someone with the financial resources of Mr. Massaquoi could have gone almost anywhere for care, but he chose ProCare because of the personalized and high-tech care they could provide him. Prosthetic and orthotic care these days is far beyond one-size-fits-all artificial limbs. It’s about harnessing the technological expertise of students and professors at Georgia Tech to create cutting-edge, advanced limbs. It’s about providing families with the support they need to get their loved one back on his or her feet and moving again. It’s about serving the entire patient and listening to what he or she wants to accomplish in prosthetic rehabilitation. With so many of our brave young men and women who served us in the military needing prosthetic and orthotic care, I’m so proud to say that ProCare is stepping-up to serve them and our entire community. 

 

APRIL JOBS REPORT SHOWS A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR AMERICA

You just read about all the tremendous success that our local businesses are having and how they are serving our community. But what almost every business I visited mentioned was how difficult it is for them to attract workers. And Friday’s April jobs report from the Department of Labor supports what our business leaders are seeing. With unemployment at 3.9% -- the lowest level since 2000 – it’s no surprise that it’s hard to find qualified employees. But the good news is that businesses, like the ones I visited, are competing for the employees in our area by providing higher wages, better retirement benefit packages, more flexible vacation and leave policies, and even more telecommuting and mobile work environments. The focus on creating a satisfied workforce is giving Americans more choices and better choices for employment than we’ve seen in a long time. I hope that the continued success we’ve seen in the job market, in large part thanks to the partnership between Congress and businesses during the victorious tax reform debate and our commitment to rolling back harmful regulations, will lead to even lower unemployment and better job opportunities in the future. 

 

REJOICING IN THE POWER OF PRAYER 

From the freedom of speech to the freedom to practice your own religion, the rights granted to each and every American citizen are not only the underpinnings of our great nation, but they also play a prominent role in our lives each and every day.  We all know too well how easy it is to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives; from dropping the kids off at school to taking care of our sick and elderly loved ones, it’s easy to take the rights bestowed to us by our Creator through the Constitution for granted. 

That's why I was honored to join our neighbors and community leaders last Thursday at the Forsyth County Day of Prayer, as it’s not every day that we – as a nation or even a community – take time out of our busy schedules to reflect on and value the freedoms that we hold near and dear to our hearts. I believe the power of prayer transcends political divisiveness, since, to our nation’s core, prayer remains such an important part of the fabric of who we are as Americans. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other religious tradition, we are truly blessed to live in a country that recognizes and upholds our right to pray, rejoice, and practice the religion of our choosing. For that reason, I am pleased that President Trump signed an Executive Order to implement active measures to reinforce and expand the federal government’s support of our faith-based and community organizations that work to serve our communities so diligently. We must continue to protect and ensure the religious liberty of each and every American, and you can be sure that I will continue to do everything in my power at the federal level to do just that.  


 The Forsyth County Day of Prayer on May 3rd

 

LOCAL MORTGAGE LENDERS FOCUS ON HELPING GEORGIANS ACHIEVE THEIR AMERICAN DREAMS

I spent last Wednesday morning with the team at Southeast Mortgage in Duluth, the largest non-bank lender in Georgia.  I'm proud of the work that folks in this industry do. After all, owning your own home is a hallmark of the American Dream, and with unemployment at an 18-year low and more Americans moving from welfare to work, achieving that piece of the American Dream seems more possible for more families with each passing day.  

We had a chance to discuss what I've been working on in Congress, particularly those issues that matter most to their business and their customers. Our economy is growing, but of course there are still challenges that we're focused on solving. One of the challenges highlighted in my meeting was the epidemic of student loan debt that is stunting the financial growth of younger generations. We must address the student loan problem, but most importantly, we must also prevent the epidemic from spreading to future generations who will be entering high school and college in the near future. One of the initiatives I helped pass to do that was a bipartisan modernization of federal Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.  Not everyone needs a liberal arts degree from a four year university; in fact, there are many career paths available straight out of high school or after a vocational program at a 2-year school or other credential program. From health care, to technology, to technical careers, there is a vast array of good-paying, in-demand jobs that need to be filled, and this legislation seeks to build a workforce pipeline by ensuring access and awareness of the opportunities available to current and future graduates looking for promising, stable careers.  

I also provided an update on the status of legislation to drastically improve the Dodd-Frank financial services law, which carelessly lumped all kinds of service providers under one big regulatory tent.  Passing the Financial CHOICE Act into law, which I hope the Senate will do soon, will represent the most significant, pro-jobs financial services reform effort in decades and will make mortgage lenders better able to focus on serving you and contributing to our community rather than struggling with federal paperwork.  

I very much appreciate Southeast Mortgage inviting me out to spend the morning with them.  If your business or organization would like to visit with me and share your experiences and ideas on how your government can better serve you, I hope you will give me a call.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: PROTECTING PERSONAL DATA ONLINE

In the wake of recent high-profile data breaches at Equifax and Facebook, we have been reminded all too much of how vulnerable our personal information can be. As the Internet becomes more pervasive and connected to our everyday lives, the need to address data breaches and better protect our personal data becomes that much more pressing. Here is what just a couple of you have shared with me on the issue:  

Kevin from Suwanee:

I am writing this in regards to the credit bureaus and credit protection. I think that it is ridiculous that a credit bureau makes consumers pay up to $25/month to protect their data, especially when cybersecurity breaches are happening left and right these days. Why should I have to pay someone to keep my information protected? It affects me if my identity gets stolen, not them. Being in the business of dealing with someone's personal information comes with a duty to protect said information. I am not exactly sure what can be done, but I refuse to sit here and think that I am the only one outraged by this issue.

Tennie from Norcross:

I am a resident in your district. In March, the public learned of yet another major privacy violation: Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that supported President Trump's campaign, maintained copies of private data for about 50 million Facebook users without the majority of these users’ knowledge or consent. 

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is not unique. Unauthorized access to personal data has been a running theme over the past year. The latest estimates show the Equifax data breach affected half of the U.S. population. 

It’s time for the Congress to take a stand on unauthorized access to data -- whether that’s data obtained with authorization but shared and used in ways that exceed user permission, like Cambridge Analytica, or a breach where data is obtained without any consent at all, like Equifax. In the digital era, it is impossible to fully participate in society without sharing our personal information with third parties like Facebook. Congress needs to step in to protect consumers. 

You can protect consumers by requiring companies like Facebook and Equifax to ensure meaningful notice and consent for data collection, retention, and sharing. You should also take steps to ensure these companies are adhering to the latest, state-of-the art security standards. 

Additionally, as we saw with the Equifax breach, companies regularly used forced arbitration clauses, buried in fine print, which prevents consumers from being able to sue these companies when their trust has been violated. Congress should explicitly exempt cases addressing the failure to protect personal information from the Federal Arbitration Act to make sure consumers can have their day in court when their information is misused.

Please make consumer privacy a legislative priority. It’s time for Congress to return control of personal data to the people providing it -- the rightful owners.

____________________________________________________________

The Internet is a new frontier for Congress and for federal regulators--not because we don’t understand it, but because we want to ensure that the regulatory “light touch” that has allowed the Internet to flourish for decades doesn’t grow to strangle the Internet now that it is more mature. While technology has and always will evolve at a much faster pace than our laws, it is clear that American consumers of all walks of life feel more vulnerable today than before. That is why Congress has called on companies to come to Capitol Hill to explain to the American people and to reexamine the relationship between tech companies and their users. 

Most notably, you may have seen the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, in which he was asked to answer for the recent reports that Facebook had misused its users’ data by allowing other firms and developers to access their data without their consent. In addition to that hearing, the House Financial Services Committee has held several hearings on how to reform our current data security and breach notification standards, including one specifically to address the Equifax data breach. Outside of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also opened an investigation into Facebook to see if the company violated a previous settlement requiring it to obtain permission before user data is shared.

In the aftermath of these breaches, we have already seen companies like Facebook and Equifax take steps to improve their security measures to ensure greater protection of consumers’ data, but as, Kevin and Tennie said, we must demand more of these companies moving forward. A number of legislative proposals have emerged since these hearings, and it is my expectation that Congress will work together with regulators and stakeholders to find the best way to ensure companies meet certain data protection standards and notify those affected by any breach. Regardless of any action by Congress or the federal government, one of the most effective ways to ensure your data is secure is to be vigilant and protect yourself. You can find more information on how to do so by visiting the FTC’s website HERE and OnGuardOnline.gov for additional tips and information. 

Thank you for sharing your concerns with me so my colleagues and I can craft legislation that better serves you. 

 

A NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS

The last week has been full of so many great events and visits across the Seventh District and beyond, but certainly one of the highlights was our annual Service Academy Day, which once again, was a huge success! Every year that I’ve been in Congress, I have had the distinct honor of joining Senator Johnny Isakson, other Representatives from across the state, and of course the men and women from our great military in presenting Georgia’s Academy Day at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. It is one of the largest Academy Days in the country, and I’m proud to say we in the Seventh District have one of the largest classes of appointees year after year. This event is a great opportunity for young people to learn more about how they can serve their country while getting a world-class education.  It’s an exciting time, and we mark the beginning of the process in this way every April.  I always look forward to it because of the excitement I see in the eyes of all these future leaders in attendance, and I look forward to it because it reminds all of us that America’s best days are certainly still ahead! The level of integrity, character, intellect, and work-ethic required for an appointment one of the academies is daunting…and yet our communities are producing that kind of young person in abundance! 


Rep. Rob Woodall speaks with one of the hundreds of families who attended Academy Day 2018 at Dobbins Air Reserve Base

If you know of any young people in your life who are interested in this path but didn’t attend Academy Day, that’s ok too, they can visit my webpage or call my local office at (770) 232-3032 with any questions. They can learn all about the requirements and deadlines for submitting 2018 applications there.

 

MAKING EVERY DAY COUNT

Here in Georgia and especially in the Seventh District, the name David Pollack is well-known. For many of us, we remember the Gwinnett County product as a fierce linebacker for the University of Georgia where he accrued accolades one after the other. For many others still, we know him as a college football analyst and commentator for ESPN. Now a new generation of young people is learning who David Pollack is, and it’s through his “EveryDay Counts” campaign, which recently made a stop at several Forsyth County schools.  As a part of the program, participants are challenged to exercise every day as best they can. Especially as we age, we all know the value of regular exercise, but David is also using the opportunity to speak to kids in schools and communities across the region about far more than just exercise, and it sure makes me proud to see long-time members of our community giving back in such important ways. David often says you have two things you can always control: your attitude and your effort. I couldn’t agree more, and I’m appreciative of the role model he is, not just for young athletes, but all young people. If you’d like to participate or just follow the progress of the challenge, you can do so by using #EveryDayCountsGA on Instagram.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week I’m taking all the good counsel that I received in Georgia last week back to Washington, D.C. In the Rules Committee, we’re moving forward on a number of measures that will boost economic growth, lower regulatory barriers, and help bring competition to the marketplace.

  • S.J.Res. 57 is a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act that will stop a gross overreach of the Dodd-Frank Act. Dodd-Frank was meant to stop huge financial institutions from taking the out of control risks they took back in the early and mid-2000s, which eventually threw our entire financial system into chaos. Unfortunately, the previous presidential administration expanded the reach of Dodd-Frank to regulate car dealers and auto financing companies – two groups which had little to nothing to do with the financial system’s near collapse. Instead of allowing unnecessary regulations to continue, I’m happy that the Senate has working with the Trump Administration to bring forward this measure, and I’m looking forward to sending it to the President for his signature. 
  • H.R. 5645 ensures that the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice can work together in a more efficient manner to make certain that business mergers and acquisitions aren’t allowed to create uncompetitive monopolies. Monopolies harm consumers and eliminate the competition that is necessary in the market to keep prices in check. This bill will make sure that marketplaces are strong.
  • H.R. 3053 is a much needed update of our nation’s nuclear waste management program. Those of us in Georgia know how important nuclear energy is, and with the continued development of power plants like the expansion at Plant Vogtle, which will serve nearly every 7th District family, we also know that the issue of properly disposing of nuclear waste is just as important. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bill across the House floor and to the Senate. 

If you’d like to share your thoughts about these measures, or any of the other measures that the House will be considering this week – which you can find by visiting https://docs.house.gov/floor  – I hope that you will do so by visiting my website or by emailing me at woodall@mail.house.gov

Sincerely,


Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 4/30/18

2018/04/30

HOUSE PASSES LANDMARK, 5-YEAR FAA REAUTHORIZATION

On Friday, we passed H.R. 4, the “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 and the Disaster Recovery Reform Act,” after voting on more than 100 amendments!  This legislation is the first long-term reauthorization of the FAA in years, and it couldn’t come a moment too soon.  Our domestic airports, airlines, and aviation manufacturers need to be able to win against stiff foreign competition, and customers deserve safety, reliability, and convenience when traveling.  I’m proud to say this bill achieves those goals.  As a member of the full Transportation Committee and a member of the Aviation Subcommittee, I have had an opportunity to develop and perfect this bill over twelve months.  Moreover, the full House also approved additional improvements on Friday, including a bipartisan amendment to the bill that I co-authored with Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) to make sure that airlines can find the safest pilots and hire them more quickly.

So who does this bill help?  For starters, it helps the airports we all use.  The third busiest airport in Georgia, Briscoe Field, is right here in Lawrenceville, and the busiest airport in the entire world, Hartsfield-Jackson, is right down the road.  By stabilizing long-term funding and streamlining grant programs, both of these airports will be able to better serve you.  This bill helps the many businesses in the Seventh District—from Norcross to Cumming to Duluth and beyond—that manufacture, repair, and maintain aviation components.  This bill removes the weight of out-dated and vague federal regulation so that those businesses can invest in innovation and growth instead of compliance and bureaucracy. This bipartisan bill was a win for the FAA and for the American flying public!

You can read all about the bill here, and you can also CLICK THE PICTURE below to watch my floor speech in support of H.R. 4. 

 

GWINNETT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE VISITS WASHINGTON, D.C.

When I say it is the passionate folks back home who come to Washington to share with me their insights and goals about how we can make the lives of families in our community better, when I say that it is those folks who lead to our greatest successes in Congress – I’m talking about great people like the members of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Last week I had the pleasure of visiting with some dedicated members of the Gwinnett Chamber, and it was great to talk with them about how the federal government is affecting their businesses and their families in Georgia’s 7th District. More importantly, it was great to hear about their successes and the economic development progress back home. I know their efforts and the efforts of all our businesses in the 7th District, big or small, are certainly a significant reason why year after year, Georgia is named as the #1 state in which to do business. 

During the Chamber’s visit, I was lucky to have several of my colleagues in Congress and others who do outstanding work in the federal government stop by and share their expertise. From discussions on how best to fix our crumbling infrastructure to ideas about how to fund and implement these reforms, it was a pleasure to have Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and members of our Georgia delegation − Senator Johnny Isakson, Senator David Perdue, and Representative Jody Hice – share their insight on what all this federal investment means for Georgia going forward. 


Rep. Rob Woodall and members of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce on the Speaker's Balcony at the U.S. Capitol

Also, Director Kenneth Leonard, of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, graciously took the time to stop in and discuss just a few of the many exciting developments that lie ahead as the link between technological advancements and transportation reforms grows exponentially. Specifically, we spoke with the Director about Peachtree Corners self-driving shuttle bus pilot program as an example of how our state is helping to lead the way in transportation innovation. Indeed, I expect that our discussions of this pilot program, the communication between “smart” vehicles and “smart” traffic signs while driving, and the cost-efficiency of smart automation on our roadways, will be some of the most important conversations of the future of transportation across the nation.

I am grateful for each and every member of the Gwinnett Chamber for their dedication to our community, and I look forward to continuing our work together as we show those around us just how truly exceptional the 7th District is.

 

SENATE CONFIRMS MIKE POMPEO AS SECRETARY OF STATE

This week the Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as the 70th Secretary of State. After a small amount of drama at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate approved his nomination by a vote of 57 to 42. Secretary Pompeo did not hesitate for one moment before getting to work. Shortly after his confirmation, he walked across the street from the Capitol to the Supreme Court to be sworn in and then jumped straight on a plane to Brussels for a meeting with our NATO allies. Prior to being Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo, an Army Veteran who graduated first in his class from West Point, was a colleague of mine here in the House representing Kansas and served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency since President Trump took office. We have already seen some of his work in the Trump Administration come to light recently when he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend to begin the plans for the President’s upcoming summit with North Korea. Knowing of Secretary Pompeo’s experience and qualifications, I am excited to see how he is going to build on what he has already done and push America’s foreign policy goals abroad.  

 

FRENCH PRESIDENT MACRON ADDRESSES JOINT MEETING OF CONGRESS

I am always pleased when Congress meets for a Joint Meeting to hear from heads of state who share our democratic values and passion for liberty and democracy. That is why last week I was particularly excited to see French President Emmanuel Macron speak in the House Chamber during his official visit to the United States. As President Macron noted in his speech, France is our nation’s oldest ally, having stood by our side during the Revolutionary War and through the early days of our nation’s founding to today where our shared intelligence and military prowess help to defeat terrorism around the world. Our two countries have one of the longest, most productive relationships in the world. In fact, throughout Washington, D.C., there are monuments to those French patriots who risked their lives and who gave of their talents to help a fledgling America be free. 

Hosting President Macron at the White House for President Trump’s first official State Dinner and inviting him to speak to Congress at the U.S. Capitol reaffirms our alliance with a loyal and honest partner. While we may differ on some issues, I am proud that our two nations still share a special relationship and will continue to share that relationship well into the future. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: FIGHTING FAKE NEWS ON SOCIAL SECURITY 

The purpose of the 7th District’s weekly newsletter is to share with all of you not only what goes on in Washington and in the District, but also to clarify what pieces of legislation actually do and why I support or oppose them. This week I want to use the Constituent Spotlight to dispel a rumor about how a proposal called the “Balanced Budget Amendment” would affect Social Security and Medicare benefits.  Here are a few messages I received based on misinformation:

Cyndie from Cumming

I want to know why you voted to steal 2.9 trillion surplus from Social Security pension? Politicians keep dipping into the working class hard earned contributions. This is not an entitlement. I got a measly $20 cost of living raise. That won't even buy 2 items at the grocery store. Leave our Social Security alone. A total of 10 congress members in Georgia voted to steal from our Social Security pension. 

Catherine from Lawrenceville

I don't know who you're representing up there in DC besides yourself, but the fact that you voted for the terrible "balanced budget amendment" proves you're NOT representing me! Leave what's left of OUR Social Security alone!!! 

Daniel from Buford

Why are you one of the "233 Members of Congress Just Voted to Steal Social Security’s $2.9 Trillion Surplus?" Cut spending, cut welfare not social security! 

Thor from Lawrenceville

I have heard that 233 Representatives just voted to steal Social Security’s $2.9 trillion surplus through a “balanced budget amendment.” What was the vote for last night, and is the accusation true? If true, why? Why is it OK to raid one department of the government to pay for other departments? Especially since this would lend credence to the accusations that "Social Security Is Broke" down the road (a 2.9B surplus indicates to me that it most certainly is not broke).

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If you heard any of the same misinformation that the constituents above did, let me be crystal clear:  the Balanced Budget Amendment did not include any language to take even one penny from Social Security or Medicare.  If you want to read the bill for yourself, you can do that by clicking here.  The entire resolution is less than three pages long.  Not only does the Balanced Budget Amendment not pull the rug out from under retirees, I can tell you that I know of no serious bill in Congress to cut the Social Security benefits of America’s seniors.

What H.J.Res. 2, the “Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA),” proposes is to amend the U.S. Constitution to require the federal government to maintain a balanced budget in order to ensure the integrity of programs like Social Security and Medicare.  The BBA reminds Congress that we must be cognizant of our taxes and spending and ensure that our tax receipts meet our obligations.

The Social Security and Medicare Trustees tell us that by 2034, the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds will be exhausted.  That means that for those Americans in their forties and younger, we do need to have an honest conversation about what these programs do for us.  Doing nothing ensures that promises will be broken with those younger Americans.  Doing something can ensure promises are kept.  The passage of the BBA would not reform Medicare and Social Security for these younger Americans, but it would highlight the need to have this conversation today rather than put it off for the next 20 years.

I regret that so many groups are trying to profit by frightening constituents like those above with misinformation, but sadly that is how so many interest groups operate these days.  If you or your family ever hear frightening information about what is happening in Congress—information that just doesn’t sound quite right—please know that you can always reach out to me for clarification, and I will always be your partner in getting answers. 

Thank you again for your correspondence this week, and thank you for helping me to get answers to those who may also have these questions.

 

LITERACY FORSYTH OPENS FREE LIBRARY FOR FAMILIES

When folks in our community see a need, they get to work doing all they can to fill it. I just love that about who we are. We’re doers – in so many different ways, but the common trait is that underlying sense of initiative. People here at home aren’t worried about who gets the credit, they just want to be a part of the solution.  As just one of the examples this week, you can look to Pam Burlingame and what’s happening at Literacy Forsyth. Of course they’re already doing great work there as they offer GED and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) training courses, but what Pam noticed was that often times the children accompanying their parents to class had nothing to do while they waited. So what did she do? She enlisted the support of her community who rose to the occasion by donating the funds for a what is now a stocked, free of charge library for these families and children! I’d encourage you to read the rest of the story, as it’s bound to brighten your day and make you even prouder to call Georgia’s Seventh district home!

 

LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS COMPETE FOR NATIONAL SCIENCE BOWL TITLE

We have some very, very bright young people in our part of the world, and if you doubt me at all, just spend a little time around some of them and you’ll share my conviction. The crew over at Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology are certainly in that category, and back in February they sent the winning team to the National Science Bowl’s Regional competition.  This past weekend, the GSMST team competed in the national finals.  They’ve worked tremendously hard, and our entire community can be proud of what they’ve achieved!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week is a District Work Week and I’m looking forward to learning from our community leaders and hearing from many of our friends and neighbors about the issues that matter most to them. Congress has been busy the last three weeks passing meaningful legislation, and I look forward to sharing some of that good news in person with many of you as it oftentimes doesn’t make the headlines of our main stream television channels and newspapers. 

Additionally, this week is also Small Business Week, and I’m thrilled to have been invited to visit with a number of small businesses in both Forsyth and Gwinnett counties to learn more about the critical roles they play in our local, state, and national economies, as well as to see first-hand their operations and to hear from them directly about how my colleagues and I can continue working to help them grow and be successful. If you are a small business owner, or if you have a neighbor or a friend who runs a small business and is interested in learning more about what resources might be available through the Small Business Administration, I do hope you’d reach out to my office and speak to a member of my staff who’d be more than happy to share those resources with you.   

While this current District Work Period is already very busy and I am gathering a lot of ideas and information from all across the district, if you have something on your mind, please reach out to me at woodall@mail.house.gov.  There really is no limit to what we can accomplish together.

Thank you for the honor of serving you!                   

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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House-passed Five-Year FAA Reauthorization Act Delivers Win for Local Community

2018/04/27

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 and the Disaster Recovery Reform Act,” to reauthorize the programs of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), continue investment in airports across the country, improve competitiveness for local manufacturers, and strengthen passenger protections. The measure extends to 2023, and contains reforms long sought after by many in the local community, including the state’s third busiest airport at Briscoe Field in Lawrenceville. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall led debate on the legislation earlier this week, and voted in favor of the bill as it passed the House today.

“These kinds of bipartisan, good-government bills that offer the long-term certainty, investments, and regulatory reforms found in H.R. 4 don’t just happen; they’re the result of a tremendous amount of work and partnership across political aisles, and with input from so many folks back home,” said Woodall. “We all need a safe and efficient Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Briscoe Field. We all want our local manufacturers and companies to be able to do what they do best without redundant, overly cumbersome red tape. And we all want to be sure we’re appropriately regulating new technologies like UAS (unmanned aircraft systems). I’m proud to say we accomplished these things – and more – with the bill we passed today.”

“As the third busiest airport in Georgia, we appreciate Rep. Woodall’s leadership on securing the first long-term FAA reauthorization in years, and for his recognition of the valuable role that Briscoe Field plays in our state’s aviation community,” said a spokesman for the Gwinnett County Airport.

The Seventh District is also home to multiple manufacturers, technology companies, and utility providers who have all felt the weight of excessive and vague regulation in everything from product certification to unmanned aviation over the years, and consequently, they’ve seen growth, development, and innovation within their business held back. The reforms found in the FAA Reauthorization Act focus on improving and expediting that process for manufacturers moving products to market, and solidifying a safe and business-friendly regulatory environment for unmanned aviation.

“The long-term certainty and crucial reforms delivered in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 are vitally important to the general aviation manufacturing industry and the economy as a whole,” added Sarah McCann, spokesperson for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), of which several companies in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are members. “Removing red tape that delays or prevents manufacturers from getting their products to market benefits Seventh District citizens and businesses, as well as the customers they serve. We’re grateful for Representative Woodall’s leadership on this issue, and are excited about what it means for manufacturers in Georgia’s Seventh District and beyond.”

Specifically, the reforms target eliminating redundancies in the FAA’s certification process such that manufacturers have a quicker, streamlined path for their products.  The measure also requires the FAA to establish risk-based permitting procedures for UAS operations, so as to ensure the safety of the general public, but also allow for appropriate use by utility providers across the state. 

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia , which includes significant portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee. 

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Washington Watch - 4/23/18

2018/04/23

HOUSE PASSES IRS OVERHAUL PACKAGE TO PUT TAXPAYERS FIRST

Last week, I joined my House colleagues in working across the aisle to pass two measures – H.R. 5444 and H.R. 5445 – that work to make the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) work better to serve you and to protect your personal information. While it’s my hope that everyone had a relatively stress-free 2017 tax season, I certainly know that was not the case for a number of our neighbors for various reasons. The good news is that last week marks the last time that American taxpayers will ever have to file under the old and convoluted tax code. 

That said, even though we’ve moved the needle forward substantially by working to make the tax code one that serves Americans better, there’s still more work to be done to make the code even simpler and more advantageous for American workers competing in a global economy.  As you know, I am pushing for even more reforms; reforms that will remove the IRS from a worker’s life forever and make April 15th just another spring day.  Yes, I’m talking about H.R. 25, the FairTax.  While the reality is that we are not quite there yet, and the IRS continues to play a powerful role in the tax-filing and collecting processes, I hope you’d agree with me that we still can and must take steps to modernize the agency and bring it up to speed with 21st Century technologies and security safeguards so that it can carry out its critical-mission of putting taxpayers first. 

While H.R. 5445 was ultimately rolled into H.R. 5444, both bills passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, and I want to take this opportunity to commend my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee for crafting these important bills as they work in the best of interest of all of our constituents. 

As you may know, the last time Congress took action to substantially reform the IRS was over two decades ago when the Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98) became law. While the RRA 98 had good intentions and did result in a number of positive changes, we all know too well that those changes have not kept pace with our rapidly changing technology. H.R. 5444, the “Taxpayer First Act,” would make the IRS modify its appeals, summons, and asset seizure procedures to make the agency work better and more efficiently.  Specifically, H.R. 5444 establishes a new Office of Independent Appeals to resolve tax controversies and review administrative decisions in a fair and impartial manner, requires a comprehensive strategy for customer service to be drawn up and submitted to Congress, and would provide a taxpayer whose return has been delayed or otherwise adversely affected due to tax related identity theft to have a single point of contact at the IRS throughout the case, just to name a few of the bill’s notable provisions that work to put the taxpayer first. 

On the security and information technology (IT) side, H.R. 5445, the “21st Century IRS Act,” works to modernize the IRS’s antiquated technology and user interface systems. It’s undeniable that the agency’s ageing IT infrastructure not only puts taxpayer’s personal information at risk, but it also makes administering the tax code onerous and hampers taxpayers’ ability to comply with the law. In fact, we all witnessed the IRS experience technical issues just last week which resulted in hundreds of thousands of taxpayers being unable to file their taxes on time. To safeguard against threats and technical lapses, H.R. 5445 provide the IRS with the tools it needs to combat such issues and deficiencies by appointing an IRS Chief Information Officer with operational control of all IT infrastructure for the IRS, requiring the development of secure, individualized online accounts to provide services to taxpayers and their designated return preparers, and requiring the IRS to work with the public and private sectors to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. 

To that end, until we can work to make the FairTax a reality, the IRS is here to stay. As a result, we must ensure that the IRS can properly function under the new tax code as well as serve taxpayers diligently. I hope you will join me in urging the Senate to take up this IRS reform package because I am confident that we can – and should – do better for the American taxpayer. 

 

FARM BILL PASSES AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE

Last week, the House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 2, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act,” also known as the Farm Bill, to address the evolving needs of our nation’s farmers and to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – sometimes called Food Stamps – to ensure beneficiaries are encouraged to take on job opportunities and training programs while on the program. While there is not a great deal of farmland in the Seventh District, agriculture is an incredibly important industry for the State of Georgia. In fact, it’s our number one industry, contributing $73 billion to our state’s economy, not to mention we all depend on farmers every day to feed and clothe ourselves and our families. From peanuts and blueberries to cotton and aquaculture, farming of all kinds in integral to the American economy, and the new Farm Bill will support Georgia’s and America’s farmers. I’m proud of the work Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and his committee members were able to accomplish, and I look forward to bringing this bill to the House floor. 

 

THE FAIRTAX IS THE ANSWER

Tax Day 2018 is now behind us, and as we FairTax supporters tend to do, we took it as an opportunity to call others to action. It’s a reminder that this simply isn’t the way things have to be. We know a better way: the FairTax. 

The most notable difference between this Tax Day and those in years past is that it marks the last time the American people will file their taxes under the old, broken tax code we’d been subject to for far too long. That is without a doubt a win! The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a step in the right direction. It’s only one step though. It is also without a doubt not the end goal. Tax reform hadn’t been achieved in more than three decades precisely because it is so difficult to build the needed consensus around big, transformative ideas. That takes time, and patience, and lots of hard work. All of which we FairTax supporters have in abundance.

It’s not an accident that the tax reform achieved last year contains principles embodied in the FairTax. Simplicity, transparency, and an innate acceptance that taxes on businesses are taxes on consumers, which are all tenets of H.R. 25. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady himself has long been a supporter of the FairTax, and don’t think for a second that didn’t matter. The reality is simply that we didn’t have quite the amount of support needed to make H.R. 25 the law of the land at this time. President Trump had a different vision for what he wanted to accomplish, and any reform needs Presidential support to get across the finish line. That’s ok. I believe we’ll get there, and not getting all the way there right now was no reason not to move America as close to the freedom of the FairTax’s principles as we could. That’s why I supported last year’s reform, and it’s why I’m as motivated as ever to keep pushing to make the FairTax – in full – the law of the land.

The drastic reduction in the corporate tax rate within the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is one of the best examples of the progress we’ve made in shaping the national conversation surrounding tax reform. Before the FairTax, no one was emphasizing the importance of reducing – or in our case, eliminating – the corporate tax rate as a way of unleashing economic opportunity and lowering the cost of goods and services. That was not only an accepted point of view this time; it was a broadly embraced fact. You and I did that. 

The notion that complexity within the tax code and all its compliance costs drive up prices and stifle economic growth is further proof of the impact we’ve already had.  It is now simply accepted throughout the Republican conference and within President Trump’s Administration that America must simplify the code, and the bill the President signed into law in December did that. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act absolutely improved a bad situation for American families. I’ll take that progress any day; and I’m eager to come back tomorrow and continue working on furthering the FairTax initiative.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act didn’t override the FairTax, it drew inspiration from it. The FairTax isn’t diminished by the success of last year’s tax reform; it’s further legitimized by it. That’s the message I want to share. Washington often moves slowly, and progress can be tedious, but we’ve made tremendous progress – not just for H.R. 25, but for millions of American families who will benefit from the recent reform and those who will benefit even more from the FairTax.

CLICK BELOW to watch me speak on the House floor about the FairTax! 

 

STRENGTHING THE U.S. RELATIONSHIP WITH TAIWAN

As America’s economy continues to grow and America’s leadership continues to be challenged by foreign adversaries, maintaining our strategic partnerships with steadfast allies like Taiwan is more important than ever.  Georgia businesses export half a billion dollars’ worth of goods to Taiwan every year, including poultry and textile floor coverings, and this relationship strengthens America’s position in East Asia and supports good-paying jobs right here in Georgia.  That’s why I was pleased to welcome representatives from the Atlanta Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce to our office in Washington, including my friend Maggie Chang who works and lives in Duluth, to continue our dialogue on trade and national security.  Their visit was well-timed, since the House Foreign Affairs Committee had a hearing on Tuesday regarding U.S.-Taiwan relations.  You can read more about our own state’s connections to Taiwan here, and you can watch the Foreign Affairs hearing here.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: EXPLORING STATUARY HALL IN THE U.S. CAPITOL

During the Spring and Summer, I not only have the privilege of meeting with many constituents back home in Georgia, but many of you also visit me in Washington, D.C. when you and your families come up to see the many monuments, museums, and other sites that our nation’s capital has to offer. If you ever plan on visiting Washington, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. My staff and I are more than happy to assist you with setting up tours of the U.S. Capitol and other sites around the District, coordinate tours of the White House, and even recommend some great spots to grab a bite to eat. From planning a trip to Washington, D.C., to opening a casework file, to just learning more about the comings and goings of our nation's legislative body, my office and I are glad to help you out. Click HERE to learn more about visiting D.C. and how my office can help.

This week’s constituent spotlight is about one of the many things you can see when you visit our nation’s capitol.

Andrew from Cumming:

Dear Congressman Woodall, I play baseball in Cumming. Jackie Robinson is my favorite player. I think Jackie Robinson is the most important baseball player in history because he was the first black player to be in the major leagues. I was at the Capitol building over spring break and I noticed there was no statue of Jackie Robinson so I think Georgia should bring in a statue of Jackie Robinson. On my capitol tour our tour guide said if the person was born in your state you can ask for your state to bring in a statue. I discovered Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia so I'd like to request that Georgia should bring in a statue of Jackie Robinson. 

_____________________________________________________________

If you ever come to D.C. and take a tour of the Capitol, like Andrew did, you will learn about the many statues of notable citizens on display in the United States Capitol.  Established in 1864, the National Statuary Hall Collection is comprised of one hundred statues, two from each state, displayed throughout the Capitol between National Statuary Hall, the Crypt, the Rotunda, the Capitol Visitors Center, and other public spaces. The collection includes figures ranging from George Washington to Helen Keller to Will Rogers. The two statues from Georgia are Crawford Long, placed in the Crypt in 1926, and Alexander Hamilton Stephens, placed in National Statuary Hall in 1927. 

Many Georgians know the name Crawford Long from the Crawford Long Memorial Hospital (now Emory University Hospital Midtown) in downtown Atlanta that was named after him in 1931. But what many folks don’t know is that Dr. Long was an influential physician who pioneered the use and development of ether as a surgical anesthetic. Alexander Hamilton Stephens, who was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams, represented Georgia in the House both before and after the Civil War. During the war, Stephens served as Vice President of the Confederacy. And even after the war, he continued to serve as a member of the House and as Governor of Georgia. 

As Andrew said, each state selects the two statues it displays in the collection, and each state can choose to replace a statue with a new one under two conditions. First, the state legislature must adopt and the governor must sign a resolution requesting to replace one of Georgia’s current statues with that of Jackie Robinson. Second, the statue that the state seeks to replace must have been on display for at least ten years. The good news for Andrew is that both statues have been in the collection for over 90 years! 

As your federal representative, I cannot introduce or vote on such a resolution, but I recommend that Andrew reach out to his state senator and state representative to share his idea. Undeniably, Jackie Robinson has been an influential figure in our American history as the first African American to break the color barrier and play Major League Baseball. He was a vocal civil rights activist, and there is little doubt that his contributions to baseball and to the American experience were groundbreaking. Considering Jackie Robinson’s impact on our country, I doubt Andrew will have trouble finding someone in the Georgia legislature who shares his idea. 

Thank you again for all your correspondence last week. 

 

GWINNETT COUNTY HABITAT FOR HUMANITY CELEBRATES 30 YEARS!

A lot can happen in 30 years. In the case of Habitat for Humanity’s Gwinnett County chapter, hundreds of homes have been built, and hundreds of families have been touched. When you listen to founder Jan Kennedy talk about the unknowns and uncertainty that existed when she and her team began this journey in 1988, you can’t help but be struck by the prevailing sense of faith and passion that guided these remarkable members of our community. They hadn’t done this before. They weren’t sure exactly how they would move forward and make the vision a reality – but they had the courage to act and to learn as they went. As we can see, they did just fine, and their example is one we can all follow in our own lives. Be willing to take the leap, follow your passion, and most importantly, to serve others along the way. Thank you to the entire Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity team, and congratulations on a wonderful three decades! Here’s to many, many more!

 

FORSYTH AQUAPONICS FARM TO SERVE THOSE IN NEED

I’ve been fortunate to know Steve and Suellen Daniels for quite some time now, and I continue to be inspired by the work they and so many of our neighbors are doing through Fill Ministries to serve families in our community in need. Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited out to see their latest endeavor and expansion. I toured what will soon be a fully functioning aquaponics farm in Forsyth County that, once completed, will be the largest aquaponics farm in the southeast that is devoted to feeding the hungry, as well as offering job training! If you’re not familiar with the good work of Fill Ministries or Meals by Grace, I encourage you to learn more about the amazing things they’re doing for their neighbors. It all began during the economic downturn when Suellen noticed a need in her community. Children – and families – were suffering from food insecurity, so she decided not only to open her kitchen and feed them, but to help address the causes of the need. Since then, they have outgrown multiple locations, enlisted an army of volunteers, and have fed and assisted tens of thousands! Whether you want to get involved somehow, or if you just want to feel even prouder about the place you call home, it’s worth your time to check out their operation.  

 
Rep. Rob Woodall visits with the Daniels Family at Forsyth Aquaponics

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House will consider H.R. 4, the “FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.” The bill is a five year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that streamlines and reforms the FAA certification and regulatory process, enhances aviation security, improves service for customers, modernizes our airport infrastructure, and works to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems into our domestic airspace.  I was so proud to work on this bill with my House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee colleagues, and I’m pleased that it is finally coming to the House floor for a vote.

In addition, the House will consider H.R. 3144. This measure is meant to help promote hydropower usage in Washington State and ensure that Americans have access to cost-effective, clean, and renewable energy sources. I hope that you will tune in to the Rules Committee on Tuesday at 5:00PM to watch the committee debate these two important measures. And as always, you can go to http://docs.house.gov/floor to see a complete list of all the bills that will be voted on this week. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 4/16/18

2018/04/16

HOUSE CONSIDERS BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION

Each year that I have been in Congress, you and I have voted for a balanced budget.  Sometimes those budgets succeed in the House, and sometimes they failed.  Passage of a budget, though, is but one step.  After the budget passes, Congress must then support the very difficult changes that must be made to achieve balance.  Again, each year you and I support those changes, but finding majorities—sometimes in the House and always in the Senate—to join us has proven incredibly difficult.  I am not giving up, and I am still optimistic that you and I will succeed in our goal.

That said, the challenge of balancing the federal budget quickly is getting harder every day.  So, last week, I joined my colleagues in supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- H.J.Res. 2 --  that would require the federal government to issue a balanced budget for each fiscal year. Of course there might be times of war where it may be necessary to exceed this limitation, but the balanced budget amendment would make for an exception in that regard. It would also allow a super majority of Members to exceed that threshold if they deemed it necessary for any reason. However, it would create a new normal, not one that spends beyond our means, but one that is responsible and spends your tax dollars efficiently. The House was able to pass this measure back in the 104th Congress, failing passage in the Senate by only one vote. Unfortunately, our effort failed again, this time unable to garner enough support on the House floor. 

 

While we did not achieve the super-majority vote threshold required by the Constitution for a constitutional amendment, I know that we did change some minds.  Hopefully, those changed minds will make a difference in our budget process this year.  We must continue to push for fiscal discipline so that we do not leverage our children’s futures because we would not make the tough decisions today. 

 

TRUMP ORDERS ATTACK AGAINST TARGETS IN SYRIA

Late Friday evening, the U.S. military carried out joint airstrikes with British and French forces on three chemical weapons sites in Syria. These airstrikes were in direct response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack on its own citizens the week prior – an attack that killed more than 40 people. This is the second such chemical attack in the past year and a half, and as President Trump said last week: “These are not the actions of a man, they are the crimes of a monster instead.” Certainly, anyone or any nation that stands on the side of a murderous regime that feels empowered to kill, through one of the most brutal means available, its own people – innocent men, women, and children – should be met with the swift condemnation of the entire world. British Prime Minister Theresa May put it well when she said: “This persistent pattern of behavior must be stopped – not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and causalities caused by chemical weapons, but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons.”

While I absolutely believe that it is in America’s interest to stop the use of chemical weapons and to stand with our British and French allies in ensuring that the humanitarian crisis in Syria is contained and eliminated, I continue to be concerned about the lack of clear legal basis for carrying out these airstrikes. The U.S. Congress has never given the President – neither President Obama nor President Trump – the authority to engage our military in Syria in this way. And while I firmly believe that the humanitarian crisis is worthy of our involvement in some capacity, it is essential that President Trump work with Congress to ensure that our involvement is legal. We must work to craft a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that addresses the current situation in the Middle East. I pushed for this during the Obama Administration, and it’s only fair to do so now. The House Foreign Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing this Wednesday that will focus on U.S. policy in the Middle East, and I hope that the issue of a new AUMF will be discussed during that hearing.

 

CBO RELEASES BUDGET AND ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released the most recent report on the Budget and Economic Outlook. While the report is normally released in January, the folks at CBO went back to incorporate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Bipartisan Budget Act, and the FY2018 spending package in order to reflect the legislations’ effects on the economy moving forward. To be frank, the economic data is not as favorable as we would like as it projects trillions more added to the deficit and skyrocketing interest rates that consume a substantial part of our federal budget. While disappointing, this does not come as a shock as we have yet to address our growing problem with mandatory spending. 

What is news, however, is the positive economic growth projected as a direct result of the tax reform bill we passed at the end of last year. CBO anticipates that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will lead to larger economic growth in the next few years than they initially anticipated, a rise in individual income, a decline in unemployment to as low as 3.3% next year, and – oddly enough – an increase in federal revenue. On the whole, this report simply tells us that our job is not finished. The report demonstrates that economic growth alone cannot fix our fiscal outlook; we must address our mandatory spending problem if we are going to get serious about getting our fiscal house in order. When CBO Director Keith Hall spoke with the House Budget Committee last Thursday, I had a chance to discuss this point with him. 

CLICK BELOW to watch the video of my discussion with Dr. Hall.

 

 

TAX DAY 2018 IS ALMOST HERE

As everyone no doubt knows, this upcoming Tuesday is Tax Day. Across the country, millions of Americans are rushing to tackle the labyrinth of confusing forms and paperwork or will spend additional money on top of their existing tax bill in order to file their taxes on time—and hoping to do so correctly. Every year, I hear from constituents about how frustrating this time can be. I’d much rather see everyone save the time and money they spend each year on taxes and enjoy Tax Day as simply another Spring day. That is why I am pleased to tell you that this is the last year of filing under the current complicated and burdensome tax code. As you may know, last year Congress passed and the President signed into law H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which radically simplified the tax code and reduced the tax burden for every American. This time next year, you should be spending less time doing taxes and more time with your families and friends. 

While I am certainly excited about the positive steps the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took, I am anxious to do more to stop the Federal government from digging into the American people’s pocketbooks and give more American’s the freedom to spend their paychecks as they see fit. That is why each Congress I have introduced H.R. 25, the “FairTax,” which would create a simple one-rate sales tax and abolish all exemptions, carve-outs, and special deals. Overnight, the FairTax would allow you to keep 100% of your income, and Tax Day would become a thing of the past. I have advocated for a simpler tax code my entire Congressional career, and there is no doubt that the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took positive steps towards the ideal of the FairTax by cutting the tax rates for all Americans and eliminating scores of deductions, exemptions, and carve outs, but it was just that, another step. I can assure you that I am eager to build on the success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and to continuing the pursuit of our shared goals of giving Americans more freedom and more money in their pockets. 

If you would like to learn more about the FairTax click HERE

 

HOUSE BRINGS COMMON-SENSE REGULATION TO SMALL COMMUNITY BANKS

When folks hear about “banks,” we often conjure images of pinstriped suits and Wall Street.  The truth is the bankers I trust—and the folks I have a relationship with—represent hometown banks that invest in our small businesses, donate to our schools, and that live, work, and contribute to our communities right here in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties. In fact, just this week I met with leaders of the Community Bankers of Georgia, an organization that represents banks like Peoples Bank & Trust in Buford, BrandBank in Lawrenceville, Providence Bank in Alpharetta, Quantum National Bank in Suwanee, Gwinnett Community Bank in Duluth, and Citizens Bank in Cumming. We discussed ways that Congress can improve the federal regulations that too often tie their hands and produce negative consequences for the customers they serve.  

The House approved one such idea on Friday, H.R. 4790, the "Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act."  This bill makes a change to the Dodd-Frank law, which aimed to rein in the reckless behavior and unmitigated greed from megabanks that contributed to the Great Recession. Unfortunately, this overly broad and hastily passed reform trapped many small community banks in the same regulatory framework as the megabanks that manage more than $10 billion in assets. This legislation maintains plenty of stringent oversight and regulatory protections for consumers who rely on the financial services industry, but it simply recognizes that our small community banks shouldn’t be regulated the same way as Wall Street.  This is one of many commonsense, bipartisan solutions the House has advanced to the Senate, and I am hopeful that we will be able to send this to the President’s desk in the coming weeks.

 

SELECT COMMITTEE ON BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS REFORM UPDATE: CONVERSATIONS CONTINUE, ON AND OFF THE RECORD

As you probably know, I have the privilege of serving on the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, and last Wednesday, that committee held its second official hearing. It was a closed hearing of the committee members and committee staff, and we heard from Congressional Research Service (CRS) experts on the history of Congress, including the history of the budget and appropriations process and past attempts to reform those processes. I can tell you without a doubt that our CRS experts are second-to-none in their historical knowledge, and I look forward to engaging with them throughout our reform process. But the best part of the hearing for me was listening to the questions that my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and from both chambers had for our experts. Each and every question was intended to shed some light on how previous reform efforts have succeeded or failed and the reasons why so that we can be certain to succeed in our current mission. 

I know that budget and appropriations process reform isn’t necessarily the most interesting topic for discussion, but I can tell you honestly that reforming the process so that it works better for the American people will help us work together – regardless of who is in charge of Congress or who is in the White House – and that working relationship will bring us closer to a well-functioning Congress. We all want Congress to get the job done, to pass laws that are in the best interest of most Americans, and to put partisanship second to patriotism. Having worked now for a month with the members of this committee, I can say for sure that I have faith in our ability to get something done for the American people. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: MAKING YOUR COMMUTE BETTER 

This week I wanted to focus on something I get to talk about and work on a lot as a member of the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: traffic and our roadways. We in Georgia’s Seventh District are all too familiar with how traffic affects our daily lives. Here is what a couple of you had to say about it.

Diego from Suwanee:

Over the last 10 years, metro Atlanta’s traffic congestion has grown from the 15th to the 4th worst in the country, making it the region’s top challenge to attracting and retaining companies and the high quality jobs that come with them. Business leaders say traffic is the biggest hindrance to running and expanding their companies. Future economic success in the region depends on doing business differently, as this region prepares for the next 2.3 million residents and 1.7 million jobs, the equivalent of the population of Greater Denver, coming to our region over the next 25 years.

George from Lilburn:

We need to fix our transportation systems and roadways. Highway 285 east after Atlanta is an absolute disaster. Potholes, cracks in the roadways, it looks awful out there with all the road debris. I’ve had to replace two windshields already with all the rocks that get thrown up from the roadways. What can we do? 

_________________________________________________________

 

As anyone who has sat on GA-400 or I-85 in rush hour traffic can attest, Diego and George are absolutely correct.  However, there are two major hurdles to making America’s infrastructure the best in the world:  funding and red tape.  We’ve taken immediate steps to address both of these problems in the last few weeks.  First, Congress passed and the President signed our annual spending bill in March that includes $86.2 billion ($8.8 billion more than last year) to invest in our transportation infrastructure. And just last week, the President took a major step to reduce the duplicative, overlapping bureaucracy that stalls important projects.  This additional funding is going to be targeted to the problems Diego and George highlighted, and paired with the President’s streamlining initiative, I expect that we will be seeing the benefits from these combined efforts sooner rather than later.

Over the long-term, there is no question that Congress needs to work with President Trump to pass a major infrastructure reform package.  This is one of the key issues that the American people voted for in 2016!   President Trump unveiled a visionary proposal to reimagine the federal government’s role in building our infrastructure and empower states, counties, and cities to make more of their own decisions with fewer federal mandates. The plan pairs $200 billion in federal spending with more than $1 trillion in state, local, and private funding to repair our broken infrastructure, as George described, and prepare for the needs of the future, as Diego pointed out.  The President’s legislative plan includes regulatory streamlining as well.  The complex matrix of federal rules governing infrastructure projects cost taxpayers too much time, money, and trust.  It’s so bad that using a federal dollar for a project can delay a badly-needed project by more than four years. That is why the President’s plan also calls for a permanent fix to our broken federal permit process.  When I-85 collapsed last year, we saw how quickly federal, state, local, and private entities can work together to complete a massive and vital project while being responsible stewards of our environment. We should apply these lessons to every major infrastructure project moving forward.

Despite our successes on the federal level, there is no substitute for state leadership, and Georgia has demonstrated this time and again.  Our state has committed to incorporating innovative solutions to effectively and efficiently manage our growing population and has set the standard for transportation management. Most recently, as some of you may have heard, Governor Deal allocated $100 million for transit projects in the FY19 state budget, and the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation to fund and incorporate the transit systems from across the 13 county metro-Atlanta region into one single system, ATL—the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority.  More examples of Georgia’s efforts include Diverging Diamond Interchanges and reversible roads, and the state is even considering an inland port and a truck-only lane. All of these solutions seek to drastically improve our surface transportation infrastructure.

There are exciting projects coming to our neighborhoods, and as they move forward, I look forward to your partnership in continuing to solve our transportation challenges. Thank you again for all of your correspondence last week. 

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

I think it’s safe to say that spring has arrived in the Seventh District! Azaleas, pollen, warmer temperatures (this morning excluded), and of course the quintessential sign of spring – baseball – are all here in full force. The recently rebranded Gwinnett Stripers held their home opener at Coolray Field last Thursday, and while the name and uniforms of the Braves AAA affiliate looked a little different, there were plenty of familiar faces and familiar scenes. One of the many reasons folks love our community is the balance that can be found in economic opportunity, education, recreation, and beyond. This is just yet another example. If you haven’t made time to go visit the ballpark just off Georgia Highway 20, I hope you will take in a game over this coming season. There are certainly worse ways to enjoy an evening during here at home the warmer months! 

 

SHARON FORKS LIBRARY CELEBRATES REOPENING AND EXPANSION

Making a difference in your community comes in many forms. We all have such varied talents, passions, and abilities, but time and again we see one another putting them to use and making the place we call home even better! On Friday, we saw even more proof of that insatiable desire to keep moving forward as Forsyth County celebrated the renovation and expansion – to the tune of 18,000 additional square feet – of the Sharon Forks Library. The expansion nearly doubled the size of the existing building, and with the service area population increasing 100% since the year 2000, one can certainly see the need. To add to that impressive growth, the number of items checked out increased by 300% during the same time period. The renovated facility now includes five study rooms, two conference rooms, a Hot Spot, and a room dedicated exclusively for teenagers, to name just a few of the new features and resources!

The importance of a quality library cannot be overstated.  A community such as ours knows that, and when the need exceeded existing capacity, we had local leaders like my friend and fellow Furman alumnus, Forsyth County Library Director Anna Lyle, lead the charge. We get things done here at home. I’ve said it before, but it just can’t be echoed enough. That take-charge spirit and willingness to invest our local dollars as well as effort into such projects sets a tremendous example; and it makes our story – and consequently our voice in Washington – that much more effective. Thank you to everyone who has had a hand in making partnership and improvement a way of life throughout the district, and congratulations to all those who made this remarkable expansion of the Sharon Forks Library a reality. If you haven’t visited yet, please do so soon – you won’t regret it!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is going to consider three bills from the Ways and Means Committee: H.R. 5192, the “Protecting Children from Identity Theft Act,” H.R. 5444, the “Taxpayer First Act,” and H.R. 5445, the “21st Century IRS Act.” H.R. 5192 and H.R. 5445 attempt to address the scourge of identity theft that plagues far too many Americans every year, while H.R. 5444 attempts to give Americans a better way of appealing their cases to the IRS should they have concerns about their taxes or any administration decisions by the IRS. In addition to these pieces of legislation, the House will also consider a large list of bipartisan bills, everything from federal land swaps to protecting personally identifiable information. You can CLICK HERE to view a list of those bills. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 4/9/18

2018/04/09

MARCH JOBS REPORT SHOWS EMPLOYMENT GAINS 

On Friday, the Labor Department published the latest jobs report showing continued growth with 103,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy just last month. While that number is less than what was added in February, it’s still 90 consecutive months of job gains, keeping our unemployment rate at 4.1% - the lowest we have seen in 17 years!  Thank you to all of the families and small business owners whose good ideas and sacrifices are making this growth possible.  In Congress, I am proud to be doing our part by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens, reducing tax complexity, and lowering the overall tax burden.  These statutory changes have contributed to increased investment, job expansion, and wage increases; and I am pleased to have supported these efforts—and to continue to support these efforts—to grow jobs, wages, and the economy. Fortunately, in our part of the world, you do not have to go far to witness these changes.  New construction, business expansions, and new business ribbon cuttings are happening across the district.  Our Forsyth Chamber of Commerce and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce are as busy ever, and that is good news for us all!  

 

BUSINESSES ARE GROWING IN THE SEVENTH DISTRICT 

I’m always incredibly proud of the thriving network of small business owners that continues to grow here in the Seventh District.  Every corner of our community is dotted with entrepreneurs and families who decided to take a risk and build a business from the ground up. In Congress, I have made it a priority to support these efforts by increasing access to capital, cutting federal red tape that makes it more expensive to succeed, and enacting historic tax cuts that have benefitted businesses of all sizes as well as their employees.  That’s why I was so pleased to join several businesses last week to talk about moves and expansions.  Among those events, Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson and I welcomed Alexander’s of Atlanta, owned by a Central Gwinnett High School graduate, to its new headquarters in historic downtown Lawrenceville.  


Rep. Rob Woodall and Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson join Linda and Jeff Alexander for the grand opening of their family business in Lawrenceville

Another company, Modavate celebrated opening its new headquarters in Buford. Owned and operated by first generation Americans, Modavate is a technology solutions company that follows that model of so many small businesses—a dream, a struggle, an opportunity, a success, growth, and repeat!  Thank you to all of the businesses, owners, and employees for allowing me to take part in your growth and celebrations.  I look forward to celebrating the many new business openings to come in Gwinnett and Forsyth as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act continues to power our economic growth.


Rep. Rob Woodall visits with Modavate President and CEO Bukie Opanuga and her team in Buford

 

THE POLITICS OF TRADE TAKE CENTER STAGE

Our trading policies and practices with China have been in the spotlight for a number of weeks now, and last week, President Trump announced his plans to crack-down ever further on China’s unfair trade policies. As you’ve likely read or heard about, this decision does not come without reciprocal and retaliatory measures taken by China, as China announced its intent to place tariffs on a number of American made goods.  I support free trade, and I recognize that in a changing world, fair trade is always a concern.  

What you may not know, however, given all of the sensational news coverage is that President Trump’s proposed tariffs totaling $50 billion in imports on goods from China have not gone into effect and neither have China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. Instead, the two countries are at a point in which all possibilities are on the table for negotiation, and there is still ample time for businesses and workers to share their concerns with the Trump Administration.  The headlines that you have seen have been about the conversations that have brought all sides to the table. As I’ve said before, I certainly understand there are instances in which we must take steps and use the tools at our disposal to protect our national security infrastructure, but tariffs to do so tend to be targeted towards specific industries for valid national security reasons, not simply cobbled together to meet a certain dollar threshold in hopes to address our trade deficits. Some are celebrating these tariff discussions as a move toward trade barriers and protectionism.  I adamantly reject that view and that goal.  Rather, I support U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and the President doing all that they can to tear down Chinese trade barriers, end unfair Chinese subsidies, and bring strong free trade to both countries.  

I’m pleased that President Trump’s new Chief Economic Advisor, Larry Kudlow, feels similarly about how certain tariffs can be harmful instead of helpful. Mr. Kudlow explained to reporters that these actions against China are being done to uphold the “laws and customs of free trade,” and that as China and the U.S. continue negotiation talks to get China to do away with their unfair trade practices, the Administration will continue to use all tools at its disposal. More so, I was pleased to hear not only of Mr. Kudlow’s optimism that the use of these tools does not necessarily mean that their use will translate to enforcement, but also that he predicts that we will be hearing positive news on the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations in the weeks ahead. 

Now is the time to build upon the pro-growth policies that this Congress and Administration have worked endlessly together on since the beginning of 2017. Those policies are going to better the lives of all Americans – as we’ve seen already with tax reform – and they will put our great nation even further down the path towards prosperity. For that reason, you can be sure that I will follow these trade and tariff talks closely, and I will continue to urge the Administration to use their trade negotiation tools in a manner that is targeted and would result in the best outcome for American workers, companies, and families. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: OUTDOOR FAMILY FUN THIS SPRING

With spring break last week, we know that great weather is here, summer is just around the corner, and it’s time to head outside to enjoy the many natural wonders that our district has to offer. This week’s constituent spotlight speaks directly to that, and one of the most beloved parts of our district: the Chattahoochee River.  Whenever I visit schools, I remind our young people that they are the future of our beloved country and that they must take their leadership responsibilities seriously.  This week I am highlighting a letter from one of our next-generation leaders who is already taking on the challenge of environmental stewardship in our community.  

Cameron from Buford:

Dear Mr. Woodall, 

 I will admit that it is likely that you have not been sent a letter of concern about this topic from someone in my age group. None the less, I still feel strongly enough about this issue to address those concerns to you. Through my teenage years I have become a very passionate fly fisherman. The majority of my weekends (when I don't have homework to complete) are spent on the Chattahoochee River trying my best to stay stable in the frigid and steady water while also trying to fool a few trout. Over the past few years however I have noticed that poaching has become a significant issue. All throughout the delayed harvest season I see those who keep fish even though it is against the DH laws. I have even seen a number of fish far greater than the legal limit being taken during the non DH season. This occurrence makes the fishing experience much poorer in quality and lowers the quality of the river making it less attractive to travelers and those who may potentially be paying customers and supporting the river’s growing industry. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the hooch, and am thankful for this valuable resource, however something ought to be done about this. Something as simple as a parking lot attendant who checks people who are coming on and off the river to make sure that they aren’t carrying stringers/filleting knives onto the river or fish off of the river could almost entirely solve this issue and restore the amazing quality of this once great fishery for its regular patrons and growing community. This system could even help to ensure that, because of the dangerous conditions of the river, patrons of the river are wearing the proper gear required by the DNR to safely navigate this river such as proper boots and life jackets.

Simply put, I hope you will support tighter enforcement of fish and wildlife sporting rules and laws in the district. Our fisheries on the whole, while commonly overlooked, are a vital part of this area’s community, economy, and culture. They can sometimes require some enforcement to provide a fishery that is unable to be ruined or altered by a selfish and indecent act of poor sportsmanship like I have been seeing as of late. Thank you for considering some action to keep the Hooch’s fly-fishing community active, growing, and well maintained to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. 

_______________________________________________________________________

 

First, I want to thank Cameron for sharing his passion for fly fishing. I’m certain he’s not alone!  As someone who visits and enjoys the Chattahoochee, as well, I absolutely understand that protecting the river from overfishing and other threats, such as pollution, is critical to ensuring that future generations can enjoy the river just as we do today.

As you may know, the Chattahoochee River is a part of the greater Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (NRA), which is run by the National Park Service (NPS) and spans 48 miles from Lake Lanier to Peachtree Creek in Atlanta and includes over 80 miles of hiking trails and a trout fishery. Not only is it one of the largest outdoor destinations for Georgians from all walks of life, but it is also an economic driver of our community which averages 3 million visitors a year and generated $129 million worth of economic activity last year, supporting over 2,000 jobs.  As such, I visit with the NPS Superintendent of the NRA regularly to share concerns and opportunities.  Our relationship is one that I value greatly.

While the Chattahoochee NRA is run by the NPS, Georgia fishing regulations apply to its waters, and those are established and enforced by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This includes the Delayed Harvest that Cameron mentioned, which says that all trout must be released once caught between November 1 and May 14. If, while fishing on the river, you keep a trout between those dates, you are in violation of Georgia law. Together with NPS Rangers, Georgia DNR Rangers stop poachers who literally “steal” wildlife that belongs to you and all other Georgians. You will be pleased to learn that the Georgia DNR has a Ranger Hotline (1-800-241-4113) for reporting poachers, or you can contact your local Game Warden to report poachers, as well. If you see someone fishing illegally or poaching, I encourage you to reach out to them. You can learn more about Georgia fishing regulations or how to get a fishing license at the Georgia DNR’s website.   As a community, our obligation is to either change the law or to enforce and obey the law.

While as your federal representative, I do not have a role in crafting those DNR regulations or working toward their enforcement, I am committed to the greater effort of preserving the Chattahoochee. As an example of how federal efforts help our local community, Congress provides specific funds for the restoration and preservation of the Chattahoochee NRA. If you haven’t visited the National Recreation Area recently, you will be in for a treat.  And if you have visited recently, you know about all of the infrastructure improvement projects that are underway.  That is money coming from Georgians and being returned to Georgians to pursue projects that protect our natural wildlife and expand exciting recreational opportunities for you, me, and Cameron. 

I hope everyone enjoyed their spring break and takes the opportunity to see some of the beautiful sites in our community as it begins to warm up. Of all of the federal land projects that I receive questions about, Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River is the most frequent topic.  If your family has any questions or concerns, I hope that like Cameron you will reach out and share them with me.  Together, we are making a difference.

 

SEVENTH DISTRICT FAMILIES VISIT WASHINGTON, D.C.

Last week was Spring Break for the public schools in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and I want to thank the roughly 800 visitors who came to D.C. to visit the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and more. And if you stopped by your Seventh District office on Capitol Hill, I hope you enjoyed the experience and will tell your friends and families to stop by next year. 


The Zhang Family from Cumming visits their Seventh District office in Washington


The Thomas Family from Lawrenceville enjoys a beautiful day on the balcony with the U.S. Capitol in the background

I know families could choose to spend their spring break and vacation time anywhere, and I think it speaks volumes that so many of you chose to plan a trip to Washington, D.C., to learn more about our nation’s history and explore America’s capital city. I am excited that so many of you were able to experience the many museums and tours that D.C. has to offer, and please do not hesitate to contact me if your travels bring you back to Washington or if I may be of any assistance to you in the future.  


ONE BY ONE, A COMMUNITY THAT CARES

It’s been a productive district work period here at home, and as always, I’m reminded at every turn just how fortunate we all are to call the Seventh District home.  Examples abound, but for our community, a lot can be said about how we take care of one another.  Now I know that’s a broad statement, but I believe it’s the truth, and it’s a simple concept that makes the biggest difference in the lives of our neighbors.  The good work being done in our schools, our civic organizations, churches, community healthcare facilities, and veterans organizations is endless. Giving back, and achieving excellence is what we do.  I could spend paragraph after paragraph sharing with you the various projects, accomplishments, and inspirational stories from across the region, but since that could be a little overwhelming, I’ll stick to highlighting examples along the way.  

On one side of the spectrum, we saw Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton recognized with a Women’s Choice Award for the fourth consecutive year as one of the best hospitals in the state! On another side, we see the Vietnam Veterans of America in Forsyth County once again working to provide scholarship opportunities for young people – and if you know any student who could be interested, I hope you’ll encourage them to apply! Neither of these things just happen because they’re good ideas or noble goals. They require leadership, focus, and commitment to each other and the values we share. While to us this is thankfully standard operating procedure, it is less familiar to some from other places around the country. In Washington, when I share our stories of success here at home, folks listen precisely because of the tangible results we’ve produced together. So once again, thank you for making our voice so effective, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with ways we can keep moving the Seventh District and America forward! 

 

YOU'RE INVITED TO A SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE

The Seventh District is very fortunate to have such a vibrant small business community, and your partnership is invaluable to America's success. Many of you have brought your expertise and concerns to me personally over the years, which I always welcome, but this Tuesday there is a unique opportunity to speak directly with those at the Small Business Administration (SBA) who are looking for your input to improve the federal regulatory process.  If you’d like to join that conversation and offer your thoughts on what is working – and more importantly, what is not working – please visit the link below to register. 

Small Business Administration's Regional Regulatory Roundtable: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sba-office-of-advocacy-regional-regulatory-roundtable-atlanta-ga-tickets-43670690210 

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

After two weeks of being home in Georgia and having the opportunity to celebrate Easter and Passover with family and friends, it’s time to return to Washington, D.C., and get back to the business the American people expect of us. 

The House floor is going to be busy this week as we consider H.J.Res. 2, a measure which proposes a Constitutional amendment on a balanced federal budget. The bill would prohibit total outlays for a fiscal year from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year, and it would also require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress each year. This bill will be considered under a special procedure called “suspension of the rules,” which means that it takes two-thirds of the Representatives to vote for it in order for it to pass. Like so many of you, I’m concerned about our nation’s growing debt, and this vote is one way for us to highlight how important it is to take that debt debate seriously and make real progress toward fixing it for the future. 

If you’ve been watching the news for the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen stories about Facebook’s and Cambridge Analytica’s use and protection of consumer data. I know for a lot of you, protecting your personal data online is a constant battle, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is going to be visiting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg on Wednesday to better assess how Facebook – and by extension, other social media platforms – are working to ensure that consumer data isn’t being misused by third parties. 

Finally, the House Rules Committee is going to be considering H.R. 4790, the “Volker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act.” If you’re not a financial services professional, you probably haven’t heard much about the controversies surrounding the Volker Rule, which was created through the Dodd-Frank Act. The Volker Rule is one of the most complicated rules governing banks and other financial institutions, and its vast complexity and cost are harming small, community banks. H.R. 4790 would give the Federal Reserve the ability to exclude community banks – those will less than $10 billion in assets – from the requirements of the Volker Rule. If you’d like to learn more about the bill, I hope you’ll watch the Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday at 5pm. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Contact Information

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

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

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

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

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


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