Rob Woodall

Rob Woodall

GEORGIA's 7th DISTRICT

Washington Watch - 11/19/18

2018/11/19

CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT UNIFIED IN PUSH FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

I have heard from many of you about the need to reform our nation’s federal prison system, and Congress has been looking for innovative ways to both reduce the cost of Federal incarceration and provide those who have served their time with an opportunity to contribute positively to their communities. That is why I was pleased when President Trump invited law enforcement officials and members of the House and Senate to join him in announcing his support for H.R. 5682, the “First Step Act,” which is sponsored by my friend and colleague Representative Doug Collins (R-GA). The bill reforms sentencing requirements, implements programs to reduce prisoner recidivism, and more justly applies the law. We passed this bill on the House floor back in May by an overwhelming bipartisan margin, and since then, the Senate has been working to make even more changes that would give judges more discretion when sentencing individuals and retroactively addressing the disparity in some sentencing guidelines. It’s clear that our criminal justice system can and must perform better, and I look forward to voting on the final package once it clears the Senate.

 

GRAY WOLF POPULATIONS ARE FLOURISHING: AN ENDANGERED SPECIES SUCCESS STORY

I often hear from folks who are passionate about the preservation of our wild and native animal and plant populations, and chief among their concerns is the strengthening of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We often hear about animals being placed on the endangered species list, but we don’t often hear about animals coming off the list. The great news is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) estimates that the number of gray wolves in the U.S. has rebounded to such an extent that they have exceeded population targets by as much as 300%. Even with this success, judicial interventions have prevented the gray wolf from being properly delisted. That’s why the House took action and passed H.R. 6784, the “Manage Our Wolves Act,” which removes the gray wolf from the ESA’s List of Endangered and Threatened Species so states can have the authority to manage gray wolf populations.

The truth is that delisting a species is always good news and is an undeniable sign that the ESA’s recovery efforts are working. Even President Obama’s Administration wanted to delist the gray wolf years ago! I was happy to support H.R. 6784, and I hope that our Senators will approve it and send it to the President soon.

 

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES DISPLACE FAMILIES AND LEAVE MORE THAN 1,000 MISSING

As many of you know, the raging California wildfires have displaced hundreds and thousands of families, burned cities and neighborhoods to the ground, and have unfortunately resulted in the loss of too many precious lives. Additionally, more than 900 individuals had been reported missing as of last Sunday in northern California just about a week after the Camp Fire tore through the town of Paradise. The Camp Fire, which is blazing nearly 90 miles from Sacramento, has been declared the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California state history. To the south, the Woolsey fire near Malibu has killed three, burned more than 96,000 acres, and has destroyed more than 1,400 structures, including the home of one of my Congressional colleagues, former Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier.

It is undeniable that the communities, individuals, and families affected by these fires will need all the time and resources they can get to rebuild. To help in that process, President Trump approved California Governor Jerry Brown’s Major Disaster Declaration last week, making federal disaster assistance available to the state to help supplement recovery efforts in the areas that have been ravaged by the wildfires. While President Trump’s approval of the declaration frees up much needed federal funds to help these localities, businesses, and individuals, there is still much more that can – and must – be done to thwart wildfires from escalating to this level of destruction.

That said, when it comes to fixing the wildfire funding crises at the federal level, much of the issue lies in the fact that federal agencies working to suppress and contain wildfires have been underfunded for too long, and as a result, they are forced to borrow funds from non-fire accounts – funds that would typically go towards forest management activities that work to prevent catastrophic fires through responsible forest thinning and other practices. In fact, the House passed a bill earlier this year that would work to resolve this very funding crises – H.R. 2936, the “Resilient Federal Forests Act,” a bill that provides a fiscally responsible budget fix that would prohibit the borrowing of funds while simultaneously enacting smart, targeted forest management reforms. I certainly understand that a legislative fix won’t reverse the devastating impacts these deadly and devastating wildfires have had on the people and state of California, and I also understand that proper forest management is only a single risk factor in the larger issue at hand, but I do believe that it is our responsibility to consider any and all solutions so that we can be proactive when it comes to making decisions rather than being reactive when disaster strikes.

 

BICAMERAL BUDGET REFORM COMMITTEE BEGINS MARK-UP OF BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION

On Thursday, my colleagues and I on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform (JSCBAPR) began considering a bill that will move our nation to a biennial budgeting system among other important reforms. Working on this committee with members from the House and Senate and from both sides of the political aisle has been tremendously rewarding, and it is a testament to how we can work together even during a contentious election season. In fact, the committee unanimously approved an amendment that I offered along with my colleagues Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to strengthen the budget reconciliation process. While we will finish our mark-up of the bill after the Thanksgiving break, I am proud of how far we have come to this point, and I know that we will have a bill to present to the full House and Senate soon. 

 

PARTY LEADERSHIP CHOSEN FOR 116TH CONGRESS

With the 2018 midterm elections finally winding down, we now turn to the future and the beginning of the 116th Congress. On January 3rd, we will welcome over 100 newly-elected legislators to Congress, including the largest class of women in our history, 92 combat veterans, and the first Muslim and Native American women members. The past week was filled with orientation and training for those new members and the selection of who will lead the two parties in each chamber. Here on the House side, my colleagues and I chose Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to be the Minority Leader of the House Republican Conference. Over in the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was re-elected to be the Majority Leader of the Senate Republicans and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was also re-elected to be Minority Leader of the Senate Democrats. House Democrats will select their leaders later this month after returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, and by all accounts, it could be a very interesting race.

The end of the 115th Congress also marks the end of the terms for many colleagues and friends whom I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors, and I look forward to working with the newly-elected members from both parties to serve the American people in the 116th Congress.

 

PARTNERING WITH EACH OTHER TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF OTHERS 

It’s been an active and productive year – and some might even say a hectic one. Sometimes in that grind, we get distracted from certain things. We all have so much going on with many demands on our time, resources, and energy. In a community such as ours, there is also no shortage of generosity, but there is great need as well, and sometimes we unintentionally lose sight of that. What I know about our character, though, is that we answer the call, so I wanted to share a need that has recently come to my attention.

Meals by Grace is a wonderful organization started by Forsyth residents Suellen and Stephen Daniels to help ensure no child and no child’s family goes hungry. I know the Daniels Family personally and have had the opportunity to visit their organization and see the inspiring work they are doing on a daily basis. Food insecurity is a very real problem that affects far too many in our community and across the country, but thanks to folks like Suellen, Steve, and their team, it affects far fewer than it would otherwise.

Just days before Thanksgiving, however, the shelves at Meals by Grace are noticeably bare. None of us want to see that, and right now, it’s our partnership that Meals by Grace needs to continue serving our community in the remarkable way that they have been doing for years. If you are able, I would encourage you to consider partnering with them. I know they will certainly appreciate it, and I can assure you that your time and resources will be put to great use in the service of others. During this time of year when we pause to give special thanks for the blessings in our lives, one of the things for which I am most grateful is a community that cares for one another as we do. Challenging times are always present, and thankfully here at home, so are those ready and willing to meet them.

 

IN HONOR AND REMEMBRANCE OF A LOCAL HERO

For the third consecutive year, we had the opportunity last week to celebrate our first-responders at the Red, Blue and You luncheon in their honor. I love this about who we are! Men and women going to great lengths to not only be good neighbors, but also to be certain those who make sacrifices on our behalf are aware of just how much they are appreciated. My friend Raymer Sale took it upon himself to not only come up with the idea for this event, but also to do the hard work of making it a reality. Those are the kind of folks that make up our community – and I couldn’t be prouder or more grateful.

Sadly, this year’s celebration had a somber tone to it as friends, family members, colleagues, and many more reflected on the life and service of Gwinnett County Police Officer Antwan Toney. Less than one month ago, Officer Toney was killed in the line of duty while responding to a call. The senselessness of this act is heartbreaking, and I continue to pray for those close to him as they have suffered an unimaginable loss. Officer Toney was a native of California but had chosen our community to call home and serve all of us every day. He not only made us safer, he also made us better by way of his actions and example. His love for his work, his community, his brothers and sisters in uniform, and the strangers he encountered every day was evident to all. Officer Toney’s legacy is one of selflessness and joy, and it is my great honor to have been touched by it.

I had the honor of sharing Officer Toney with the American people last week on the floor of the House of Representatives.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Every year, Americans from all walks of life, all religions, and all backgrounds come together to celebrate the most American of holidays – Thanksgiving. This time of year allows us to spend time with loved ones and reflect on all our many blessings. As young people, we don’t often take the time to think about how important Thanksgiving is. We’re consumed with Black Friday sales, food, and football. As we grow older, however, if you’re anything like me, you realize how special Thanksgiving is for the things that can’t be bought or watched. Thanksgiving is about gathering around your family and friends, talking about the Thanksgivings of the past when relatives long departed from us are remembered fondly. It’s about welcoming new people to our families and making new memories with them. It’s about taking time to say thank you to whatever God you believe in for all that we have; for those great things like religious freedom, freedom of speech, and the right to vote, and for those small things like family, friends, health, and happiness. This Thanksgiving, as Americans put politics and elections behind us, let’s remember that whether you’re spending this holiday with the family you were born into or with the family that you chose to be part of, we’re all hoping for a restful, peaceful, and celebratory Thanksgiving.  

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 11/13/18

2018/11/13

2018 MIDTERMS RESULT IN A DIVIDED CONGRESS

As many of you know, the 2018 midterm elections resulted in many historic and unprecedented “firsts,” which I believe demonstrates that our democratic process is healthy and that it continues to work just as seamlessly as our founding fathers crafted and envisioned it to. While the current day partisan rancor that pervades the news cycles and our daily conversations appears to many Americans—especially younger Americans—to be worse than ever before, the reality is that these political factions are not new, and our great nation has and will continue to overcome any and all divisions that it faces. Certainly, each new Congress encounters its own set of hurdles and issues, regardless of which political party is in control; however, it is no secret that a divided Congress compounds those hurdles.

That said, just because something becomes harder to accomplish doesn’t mean that we simply give up and turn our back on the issue. Such a response would be nonsense! When things get tough, you and I know that’s just the time to buckle down and get the job done. While I don’t expect the 116th Congress to persist without its fair share of disagreements when it comes to buckling down on the hard issues, I do believe that there is much more that brings us together than there is that divides us. In fact, I think many folks will find that there is an overwhelming appetite from both parties to tackle big issues that affect families, workers, and individuals across the nation – drug pricing, crumbling infrastructure, and fostering technological innovations just to name a few of the issues I’d certainly expect lawmakers in the 116th Congress to tackle. Congresses from the 1st to the 115th have managed to do well for the American people, and I know that together, we will continue to do.

 

REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS OF THE THOUSAND OAKS TRAGEDY

Last Thursday, vigils began in Thousand Oaks, California, to mourn the lives of the twelve victims lost Wednesday night when a gunman opened fire in a crowded bar. Among the victims taken from us that evening was Sergeant Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, a 29-year veteran only a year away from retirement. He was one of the first on the scene, responding within two minutes of the first 911 call to engage the shooter. Sergeant Helus laid down his life for his fellow man, doing what he knew was right to save others from this senseless act of violence. 

It is easy after such tragedies to dwell on the evil of what transpired, but Sergeant Helus and the officers of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office show us that every act of evil will be met by a formidable force for good. They serve as a reminder that even in the darkness of horror as witnessed that fateful evening, there will always be light to overcome it.

Nevertheless, we struggle to reconcile this reminder with the pain and anguish we feel for those who have perished. The victims at Borderline Bar & Grill were guilty of nothing but enjoying time with friends when they were gunned down so vilely. How then are we to come to terms with these events? Even so, it is important that we meet those feelings of despair with love - love for family, love for friends, love for neighbors. We must build our community through love, leaving no one out to feel hopeless and alone where they feel as though turning to violence is the only means to be heard. We must look out for one another and take care of each other. We have a duty to share that love as a tool to counter hatred and to help those around us who feel broken. Only then can we illuminate the dark. 

I hope you will join me in praying for the lives lost in this tragedy and for the families of the victims left behind. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE US 

This Veterans Day weekend we not only reflect on the service of all those who have served in our Armed Forces, but we also consider the extraordinary sacrifices they have made. Those who don the uniform of the United States do so knowing that they will put themselves in harm’s way and may have to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the citizens of the United States. As a result, over 4 million veterans today live with a service-connected disability. Each generation of veterans bears the unique wounds of their conflict, and perhaps the wounds I hear most about are those who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and the waters off the coast. Here are a few examples:

Aries from Cumming:

Congressman Woodall I would like you to contact Office of Budget Management Director Mulvaney and ask him to give the VA secretary the Budgetary authority to approve funding for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. H.R.299 & S.422. I served in Vietnam and operated off shore sometimes as close as 1 mile yet we are not covered because we never set foot on land yet we were exposed. Thank you.

Lawrence from Alpharetta:

I am a Viet Nam Veteran with service connected disabilities associated with Agent Orange. As a result of my service and disability, I cannot purchase or otherwise acquire Long Term Care Insurance and fear the day when my health care costs will leave my family destitute. I feel that Veterans exposed to Agent orange are being penalized for their service. Is there any possibility for legislation that could assist a veteran exposed to Agent Orange to guarantee them being able to acquire Long Term Car Health Benefits?

James from Snellville:

As your constituent, I write today to ask you to cosponsor and support the enactment of H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017. 

Veterans who served on ships no more distant from the spraying of herbicides than many who served on land are arbitrarily and unjustly denied benefits of the presumption of exposure, and thereby are ineligible for presumption of service connection for herbicide-related disabilities. This legislation would correct that injustice.

This bill would expand the presumptions for service connection related to exposure to herbicides containing dioxin, including Agent Orange. This legislation would extend existing eligibility to certain veterans who served in the territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. 

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Let me begin by thanking all who have served, including Aries, Lawrence, and James. We all share a desire to make sure that all veterans receive the benefits to which they are entitled, and I want to make sure that every dollar goes to those who need it most. The good news is that H.R. 299, the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act,” which the gentlemen mentioned above and would expand the area of presumed exposure to Agent Orange to the territorial waters of the Republic of Vietnam to cover those who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, passed the House and is now being considered by the Senate. I encourage anyone who supports this measure to share your support for Blue Water Navy veterans with Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue as they now consider the bill.

That said, until that bill passes, some Agent Orange-related claims will still have to be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. As such, please know that my team and I are here to help all veterans navigate the maze that is the VA system so they can demonstrate they were serving on ships involved in the transport or delivery of Agent Orange. Please call my Lawrenceville office at 770-232-3005 with any such needs and a caseworker and I can assist.

We owe it to our veterans, in the words of President Lincoln, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” and we must provide them with the best pay and benefits possible, especially if they have been wounded while serving this country. Congress is committed to that goal, and for FY2019, my colleagues and I voted to fund our veterans programs at more than $86.5 billion in discretionary funding, representing the largest dollar amount ever allocated for the VA. I expect this trend to continue until we can provide all veterans with the care they are entitled to. In addition to ensuring the VA has the resources to do its job, this Congress has passed a number of pieces of legislation to bring more accountability to the VA, expand access to quality health care, and overhaul the backlogged VA appeals system. Of course, more can always be done for America’s heroes.  I look forward to partnering with each of you to ensure that America always keeps its promise to the men and women who have honorably served our nation.

 

NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE FORSYTH COUNTY MANUFACTURER

The Seventh District is full of all kinds of local industry-leading manufacturers, and each year the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and South Forsyth Rotary Club offer us the opportunity to recognize some of the very best. It’s that time once again, and local residents will have until Wednesday, November 14, to nominate their favorite small, medium, and large manufacturers for the Manufacturers of Distinction and Leadership (MODL) Awards.  Last year, the winners included companies such as Solvay Advanced Polymers, Metcam, Inc., and Siemens Industry Inc. Metcam, in fact, went on to be named Manufacturer of the Year by Governor Deal!

Not all communities have the kind of industry success we do here at home, but it sure says a lot about who we are that in its inaugural year, Forsyth County went on to take top MODL honors at the state level. Some of the very best engineers, entrepreneurs, skilled workers, and beyond call the Seventh District home – whether native Georgians or lured here by all we have to offer – and as a result, opportunity continues to grow. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to visit with so many companies including Metcam, so I can attest to the fact that they have very impressive operations deserving of the recognition. I have no doubt that this year’s candidates will fit the same description, and I’m eager to see who you all choose! If you have a specific candidate in mind, please reach out to our friends at the local Chamber to find out more about nominating them.

 

SEVENTH DISTRICT COMPANIES TAKING THE LEAD IN HIRING VETERANS

You learn a lot by visiting with our local job-creators and employers, but perhaps most importantly, you learn about the character of the folks running these companies. They take great pride in their work. They want to excel in their industry and be the best. That requires a commitment to the business side of the ledger for sure, but what I am so proud to see all across the region is an even greater commitment to the human side of that ledger. Being a good corporate citizen isn’t just a catch-phrase in the Seventh District; it’s a way of life. That takes many forms, but at the core of the principle is a belief that we should do all that is within our power to help our military veterans be successful as they transition back into civilian life. 

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That’s why I’m so proud to see two Seventh District companies – Insight Sourcing Group Holdings, Inc. of Norcross and Herbert Development Enterprises, Inc. in Duluth – receive the HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration award. The program was established by the Department of Labor after President Trump signed the HIRE Vets Act into law in May of 2017, and its goal is to help draw attention to those employers in communities like ours leading by example. We are fortunate to have no shortage of companies doing just that, but to earn national recognition is certainly worthy of pride back home. Congratulations once again to each of these companies for earning this honor, and most importantly, thank you for your leadership in the Seventh District! 

 

THE WEEK AHEAD 

This week the House is back in session, and there’s a lot of great work to do. On Thursday, the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform will hold a public meeting to consider the legislation that the Committee’s co-chairs, Representative Steve Womack (R-AR) and Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) have drafted together. At that time, every member of the committee will have the opportunity to amend to legislation, and hopefully, after all the amendments have been considered, we will be able to approve a reform plan that will streamline and make more effective the budget and appropriations process. It has been an honor serving with members from both chambers and from both parties on this committee, and I’m so proud of the work that we’ve already done and what we’ll continue to do this week.

In addition to this critical legislative mark-up, the House will be voting on H.R. 6784, the “Manage our Wolves Act.” You may know that the Obama Administration issued a final rule in 2012 that removes Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf in Wyoming. While that might sound concerning to folks who support ESA protections, the reality is that the final rule is good news for animal welfare supporters. Removing ESA protections means that the ESA has worked to bolster the gray wolf population to such an extent that it is no longer endangered or threatened. This is a success story, and H.R. 6784 ensures that success becomes law.

You can always check on additional legislative items that the House will consider by CLICKING HERE.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 11/5/18

2018/11/05

JOBS REPORT SHOWS LABOR MARKET DRIVING US ECONOMY

October turned out to be a great month for the U.S. labor market with a whopping 250,000 jobs added, besting economists’ expectations and outpacing the 12-month average! While the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent – the lowest we have seen since 1969 – over 700,000 Americans previously discouraged from seeking work entered the labor force, likely encouraged by record high job openings and the fact that wages have grown by 3.1 percent, the highest yet since the recession! With household incomes rising, consumer confidence has gone up to levels we haven’t seen in 18 years, driving increased consumer spending that will continue to feed the growth of businesses, hiring, and wages moving forward. The U.S. Department of Labor’s October Jobs Report gives us clear evidence that we are on the right track.

Through our shared efforts to unburden the market from outdated and ineffective regulations and provide tax reform for the American people, this Congress and this President have helped to unleash the potential of the U.S. economy. We’re empowering state and local agencies to govern based on their expertise. We’re letting business owners run their own businesses how they see fit. We’re letting families make decisions for themselves on how best to live their lives without the federal government getting in the way. Month after month we are breaking records on almost every metric, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished so far. With your voting card, I will continue to support these policies to ensure we have the strongest economy yet.

 

WOODALL RECEIVES MANUFACTURING LEGISLATIVE EXCELLENCE AWARD

When thinking about all the different industries that make our great state of Georgia stand out, the first few that come to mind are agribusiness, financial services, and entertainment, and while each industry certainly plays a crucial role in driving Georgia’s economic development and success, Georgia’s manufacturing industry plays a unique role as it is part of every economic sector. In fact, manufacturing in the state of Georgia accounted for 11 percent of the state’s gross product output in 2017, or more than $60 billion – a figure that surely impacts and supports many of our Seventh District friends and neighbors.

While most of Georgia’s successes in the manufacturing sector stem from the business-friendly environment and phenomenal workforce that has been cultivated and supported by our state officials and lawmakers, there is much that can be done in Washington to build on the their success and to help put our manufacturing workers and companies on a level playing field with foreign competitors, and I am honored to be a recipient of this year’s Manufacturing Legislative Excellence Award for my role in doing just that in the 115th Congress. From cutting burdensome and unnecessary regulatory red tape to simplifying the tax code, this Congress has undeniably moved the needle forward in helping our manufacturers succeed. I am constantly hearing from manufacturers right here in the Seventh District about how Congress’s actions have propelled their businesses forward, so much so that the National Association of Manufacturer (NAM) doesn’t need to show me that their manufacturer’s quarterly outlook survey registered optimism at 93.9% -- the highest year average in history – to convince me that manufacturers across the nation are reaping the benefits of this Congress’s bold, pro-growth actions. To that end, I want to thank NAM for their hard work and partnership on behalf of our nation’s manufacturing companies and workers, and I certainly look forward to delivering more successes for these hard-working women and men!

 

SEVENTH DISTRICT’S AWARD WINNING TRUCK CENTER 

Back in March, the American Truck Dealers (ATD) presented their 2018 Truck Dealer of the Year award which recognizes commercial truck dealers for their business performance, industry leadership, and community service. Of the seven nominees from across the country, Richard Reynolds, president of Peach State Truck Centers in Norcross was selected for the honor. Peach State Truck Centers has 11 dealerships and 180 service bays across two states; a massive enterprise that carries seven different truck brands! Richard invited me last week to take a ride in a 2019 Freightliner Cascadia and share his story with me about how his business has grown under his leadership and his relationship with his employees, who he credits for helping him become the 2018 Truck Dealer of the Year.

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Rep. Rob Woodall and 2018 Truck Dealer of the Year Winner Mr. Richard Reynolds

 

While there, we also had a chance to discuss the issues that were currently affecting the industry, mainly the trucker shortage experienced nationwide. This shortage not only delays delivery of goods, but it also drives businesses to increase their prices as the cost of transporting those goods rises. Last Congress, I worked with my colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to enact H.R. 22, the FAST Act, which authorized the creation of a pilot program to allow those between 18 and 20 years old who have received specified heavy-vehicle driver training while in military service and are sponsored by a participating motor carrier to operate commercial motor vehicles across state lines, a task that is currently prohibited for anyone else under the age of 21. A year after, President Trump announced that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would move forward with the proposal and implemented the pilot program!

Each day we are working to make sure all industries in the United States are provided the opportunity to succeed, and I will continue to find and implement solutions that make that success more achievable.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: SUPPORTING ANIMAL WELFARE

The citizens of Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District are a compassionate group of people. The evidence is all around us, but I do not need to look much farther than how often people write to my office with their concerns about animals. Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot from you about your support for animal welfare protections. Here is a sample of a couple of those:

Ana from Cumming:

I was shocked to learn that billions of tax dollars are funneled into cruel, deadly experiments on animals every year. With these public funds, countless animals are burned, shocked, starved, poisoned, mutilated, psychologically tormented, and killed in laboratories across the U.S. What happens to animals in laboratories would be considered criminal cruelty to animals if it occurred elsewhere. To waste public money on archaic and unethical animal experiments when superior methods are available is unjustifiable.

I urge you to earmark research funds for progressive and relevant clinical and non-animal studies instead of experiments that harm and kill animals. Thank you. 

Roy from Buford:

I want to establish more firm and stern guidelines/laws towards animal cruelty. I'll find evidence towards major cosmetic industries and the average day of animal abuse that is being disregarded. Animal abuse should be stopped and we should take a better initiative to end it.

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I appreciate hearing from Ana, Roy, and all of you who have written about this. Like you all, I am totally opposed to all forms of animal cruelty. You might be interested to learn that the State of Georgia has passed a variety of animal welfare laws in the last decade that have provided significant protections to animals, and the federal government has passed laws designed to protect many endangered and threatened animal species as well.

However, when it comes to the use of animals in experiments, as Ana discussed, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. While, other laws and policies may include more specific care or species-specific protections, the AWA is the minimum standard that all are held to. Enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), highly-trained inspectors throughout the United States conduct routine, unannounced inspections of all facilities licensed or registered under the AWA to assess these facilities’ compliance with AWA.

According to NIH, “Research projects involving animal models are considered only after a group of scientists from institutions around the world have rigorously evaluated the proposal, and they consider criteria such as the justifications necessitating the use of animals and plans for veterinary care. These are scientists who understand the scientific value of a particular animal model for exploring the biological processes of a health condition and its treatments.” To that end, we must vigorously enforce the AWA and its protections. Please know that I will seek to ensure that those who violate the AWA will be punished accordingly, and I will always work to ensure that we are using non-animal testing measures where practicable.

 

PREPARING THE NEXT GENERATION FOR SUCCESS

If you live in Forsyth County, you’re no stranger to the success of our local schools, but the hits just seem to keep on coming, so to speak! According to the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), the Forsyth County School System had the highest score among metro Atlanta counties in 2018, and the third highest in Georgia! I’ve said it before, but this kind of success doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of a lot of hard work and commitment by students, educators, parents and mentors. If you’re not familiar with the CCRPI, it focuses on how successfully school systems are preparing students – irrespective of grade level – for the next step. So much of education is about ensuring young people are prepared for the opportunities – and challenges – that lie ahead. If we as families and communities are achieving the goal of equipping our students with the necessary tools for whatever comes next, then the future certainly looks bright. We’ve seen just how effective our local school systems have been time and again, but I never grow tired of seeing the hard work recognized. Congratulations, and keep up the great work!

 

CELEBRATING A VIBRANT SEVENTH DISTRICT!

The Seventh District is so fortunate to have a wonderfully vibrant and diverse community. We set a remarkable example of what it means to celebrate those things that make us unique and those that bring us together. Thanks again to the folks at the Gokuldham Haveli in Buford for inviting me to be with you on your one-year anniversary and Diwali celebration! There may be no greater example of acceptance than making someone feel welcome in your home, place of worship, and close-knit circles. Here at home, we do that wonderfully well irrespective of our varying backgrounds and religions, and I’m very grateful for the graciousness I see and experience on a daily basis. Without a doubt, one of the biggest honors I have in serving as the Seventh District’s Representative in Congress is being able to tell our tale of diversity and success in Washington and beyond. Thank you all for what you do to make it a reality!

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Rep. Rob Woodall celebrates Diwali and the one year anniversary of the Gokuldham Haveli in Buford

 

ELECTION DAY 2018 IS TOMORROW – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6TH

Tomorrow is Election Day, and while hundreds of thousands of Georgians have already voted, if you haven’t done so yet, I hope that you will. I’ve said it many times before, but it bears repeating; the right to vote is something that Americans have fought and died for, and it is a right that too many people around the world still don’t have. We all have the ability to shape the future of our nation with our votes, and I hope you can find some time tomorrow to make it to your polling place.

If you’re not sure where your polling place it, please visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. You can enter your voter information – first initial, last name, county of residence, and date of birth – and you’ll be provided with all the information you need about where to vote tomorrow. And if you need information about what’s on the ballot, you can go to the Forsyth County Voter Guide or the Gwinnett County Voter Page to find links to your city’s voting resources.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 10/29/18

2018/10/29

AMERICA MOURNS FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE PITTSBURGH SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING

Whether you are religious or not, whether you believe in a higher power or not, the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which led to the deaths of 11 peaceful worshipers, is an attack on every American. When James Madison wrote, “the Religion of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every…man to exercise it as these may dictate…This right is in its nature an inalienable right…” he was speaking far beyond his time and place. He was speaking to all of us through the centuries, to all Americans who hold our First Amendment rights so dear, and to all of us today who must stand and defend our fellow Americans against the senseless hatred that leads to violence.

It saddens me to have to say it – because all honorable people already know it to be true – but religious bigotry has no place in America. Hating your neighbor because he is Muslim, Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, or Hindu is anathema to who we are in this nation. America is a better place when people of all faiths come together and lift each other up. We see that spirit every day in the Seventh District because this is a community where our differences really aren’t so different at all. This is a community where we celebrate what each of us brings to the table, and at the center of that table, regardless of your religious affiliation, is a belief in family, in working for your neighbor, and in the goodness of America.

As we deal with the sadness and despair which certainly follows an attack like this, our response should be one of prayerfulness and love. When we teach our children that people of other religions are worthy of respect, we preach love, and we take one step closer to being who we want to be – the shining city on the hill where all are welcome to worship in peace.

 

DEFENDING JOBS AND SMALL BUSINESSES ACROSS THE NATION

The U.S. Department of Commerce is reporting that our economy has grown by 3.5 percent in the third quarter. We haven’t seen back-to-back growth that positive since 2014! That news, coupled with the record low unemployment rate that I made note of earlier this month, in addition to the record setting 7.1 million job openings also reported this month, tells us that our economy is strong and getting even stronger. Consumer confidence is at an 18 year high and small business optimism is up. I have no doubt that this is a result of this Congress’ partnership with the Trump Administration to eliminate burdensome regulations and provide tax reform to American families and businesses. And while this news may not be as widely reported as we would hope, there are folks out there trying to get the word out. In fact, the Job Creators Network is currently on their second leg of their Tax Cuts Work Bus Tour to spread the news about how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has impacted our local businesses – businesses like Winton Machine in Suwanee that can now focus on their workers and producing quality goods thanks to tax reform. I was honored that the Job Creators network chose to stop in our area to allow Winton Machine to share their story and present me with the Defender of Small Business Award for recognizing the significance of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

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Congressman Woodall receives the Defender of Small Business Award from the Job Creators Network during their national Tax Cuts Work tour in Duluth.

 

It is important that companies are given the tools they need to grow and be successful so that they can provide meaningful jobs for their workers along with high caliber goods and services for their consumers. A strong economy and a welcoming business environment should not be a partisan issue, and you can count on me to continue working with my colleagues in the House to achieve our shared goals.

 

ALPHA TECHNOLOGIES KEEPS INFORMATION FLOWING AND OUR ECONOMY MOVING

Too often, when we think about the businesses that keep our economy moving forward, we think only about those big brand names we see every day: Home Depot, Delta, Coca-Cola, Amazon, and more. But there are so many more with names that we don’t recognize which have a tremendous effect on our daily lives, and Alpha Technologies in Suwanee is one of those companies.

For those of you who are not familiar with the work of Alpha Technologies, it is one of the largest broadband component manufacturers in the U.S., and I had the opportunity to visit with the team and see first-hand the work Alpha’s employers are doing to propel American competitiveness forward in providing advanced and cost-effective technologies in the telecommunications space. While you might have never seen its name, there’s Alpha Technologies equipment in all sorts of broadband infrastructure products that are likely in your home or office right now.

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Rep. Rob Woodall visits with members of the Alpha Technologies team in its Suwanee facility

 

While I am proud of the work that Congress has done through tax reform and regulatory reform to better support businesses’ ability to grow, expand, and be competitive in the global marketplace, the truth is that the real work happens here at home, as it is these industry leaders and workers who each and every day take the risk to open their doors and lead the way in innovation in their respective fields. I saw this entrepreneurial spirit during my visit with Alpha Technologies last week, and it is the same spirit I have seen in countless businesses across the Seventh District. I am grateful for these businesses’ role in not only providing jobs in our state but also in solidifying our community’s stronghold, and Georgia's status as a top state for business.

 

MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT: NOW THROUGH DECEMBER 7TH

A few weeks ago I reminded you that open enrollment for Medicare’s 2019 plan year has begun and will be open through December 7th. As you may know, during this period you can make changes to your current Medicare plan, whether that is altering your Medicare Advantage plan, changing your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, switching to Original Medicare, or moving to Medicare Advantage. During this time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also advises folks to review any materials that your plan sends you, including the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC), to make sure that your needs will continue to be met if your plan is changing. Of course, if you are happy with your current plan, you do not have to make any changes at all!

During the open enrollment period, there are a number of resources available to help you find the plan that works best for you, and you can visit https://www.medicare.gov/ to compare coverage options, estimate plan costs, and explore services in your area. What’s more, if you would like free, personalized health insurance counseling through Georgia’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), a national program that offers assistance to those with Medicare, you can call them at 1-866-552-4464 or you may visit their website for more information.

I know there are few decisions as important as deciding what medical coverage is best for your family, so I encourage you to take this time to review these and other available resources and reach out with any questions that you may have.     

 

PRESIDENT ROLLS OUT PROPOSAL TO DECREASE MEDICARE DRUG PRICES

As many of you know, drug pricing has been a topic of discussion for many years, and the good news is that this Administration has been relentless in its effort to rein in out-of-control drug prices across the board. From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to increase drug approval rates and competition among generic drugs under Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s leadership, to Congress working together to send legislation to the Oval Office that prohibits so called “gag clause” provisions in Medicare and in group or individual health plans, we have seen numerous plans and efforts unfold to tackle this issue head on.

In fact, President Trump and Secretary Azar announced plans just last week to give the Medicare program more tools to lower drug prices in Part B. For those of you that might not be familiar with the Medicare program, Part B drugs are typically administered to patients by physicians in a hospital or doctor’s office setting. Currently, Medicare has little ability to negotiate prices of these medications with drug manufacturers, and so President Trump’s proposal would give the Part B program much needed flexibility to ensure that the program is getting the best and lowest price possible for beneficiaries. Additionally, the President’s proposal seeks to establish a new pricing model to cut down on foreign free-riding by setting target prices based on the discounts given to drug companies in other countries. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that such a policy would result in overall savings for American taxpayers and patients of $17.2 billion, with out-of-pocket savings potentially totaling $3.4 billion.

That said, the President’s proposal is just that – a proposal – and so health care providers, patients, stakeholders, government officials, and lawmakers must take this opportunity to carefully review the proposal and provide feedback. It is my hope that any final proposal simultaneously lowers Part B drug prices without decreasing patient or provider access and without stifling innovation. For that reason, you can be sure that I will continue to monitor these discussions closely to make sure that we get the best deal for our nation’s Medicare beneficiaries.

 

FAMILY PROMISE OF FORSYTH OPENS NEW DAY CENTER

You may not learn everything you need to know about an organization by its name, but in some cases, you can certainly learn a lot. Family Promise is one of those organizations. All the people at Family Promise do, and how each one of them go about it, is just that: a promise to local families. Family Promise consists of unbelievably kind and dedicated men and women who know just how important it is to keep families together while helping those in need find the resources necessary for long-term success. This past week, Family Promise of Forsyth held a ribbon cutting for a brand new day center, which will allow it to serve even more folks here at home.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to visit with many folks throughout our community who have given of themselves to make Family Promise’s mission possible, as well as those who have benefited from it. That circle is what makes our community so special. Through our actions, we care about one another. We are not inclined to wait for someone else to do it. We certainly don’t ignore it. Rather, we join together with family, friends, and neighbors, and we make a difference one family at a time. That kind of character and the results it produces matters so much. It matters to the ones whose lives are changed, it matters to the overall health of our communities, and it matters as we take our message to Washington to serve as a model for others who may not be blessed with such examples. If you’d like to learn more about Family Promise (Forsyth and Gwinnett), please do so. I assure you that you’ll be inspired by the work, and if you are led to support Family Promise, I know those folks will be thankful for your partnership!

 

MILITARY TIMES RECOGNIZES GWINNETT TECH

For those of us in and around the Seventh District, we absolutely know the great work Gwinnett Tech is doing, but what we may not know is that others are noticing too. On Thursday, the Military Times again listed Gwinnett Technical College as one of the best colleges in the nation for its veteran services! Among career and technical institutions, Gwinnett Tech was ranked third in the entire country, and it remained in the top five for the second straight year. This also marks the third consecutive year it has moved up in the rankings. That pattern of success and improvement isn’t incidental or accidental. It reflects the deep commitment day after day, year after year from Gwinnett Tech’s President Dr. D. Glen Cannon, educators, staff, and supporters.

Our servicemembers and veterans have unique training and experiences, and ensuring that they have all available resources to effectively transition back into civilian life and careers is a responsibility we take very seriously. They have given so much in service to America, and I’m so grateful we have the kind of community that is constantly striving to improve upon the way we can give back to them. When we can work together in such ways, the sky is the limit, and when you look around the place we call home, you can feel the optimism. Thank you to all of our military servicemembers, veterans, and those at Gwinnett Tech and beyond for all you do!

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 10/22/18

2018/10/22

7TH DISTRICT STUDENTS AND SCHOOLS ARE SECOND TO NONE

The importance of empowering students to not only be involved in the political process but also to share their ideas about how we can improve public policy and put those plans into practice is critical, as the solutions to our nation’s biggest challenges will undoubtedly come from our next generation of leaders. I can say for certain after visiting with students across the district last week − from elementary to high school – that our future leaders will surely hail from our corner of the world.

I am continually inspired hearing how schools in the 7th District are raising the bar for excellence, and that’s certainly true for the folks at Lanier High School in Sugar Hill, who I had the honor of congratulating on receiving the 2018 Green Ribbon School Award. Since 2012, the U.S. Department of Education has given this award to those schools that engage in environmentally sustainable practices and educational programs as well as health and wellness initiatives, and Lanier High was one of five educational institutions in our state to receive this distinction. During my visit, I got to view first-hand the hard work that led to this recognition, including a walkthrough of their STEM program where I got to see these bright young minds work with 3-D printing, laser engraving, and robotics. Lanier High’s commitment to project-based learning through its STEM program, along with its campus recycling and waste reduction initiatives, campus gardens, and more signals how its team of educators and impassioned students are leading the way in our state, and I am grateful for these students’ willingness to go even further and achieve more.

What’s more, I also had the opportunity to visit with over 100 4th grade students at Puckett’s Mill Elementary School in Dacula as well as middle and high school students and faculty at Notre Dame Academy in Duluth to discuss my role in Congress and the importance of getting young people involved in government. While I know there are those who think young people today are apathetic to current political issues, I don’t think that’s true in our community. In fact, my visit to Notre Dame Academy is a perfect example. It was through the efforts of Rohan Soni, a 10th grade student at Notre Dame who got his fellow students engaged in political issues, invited me to speak, and even moderated the discussion!

From questions on bipartisanship to what a typical day in Congress looks like, it is clear that these students, both those who have years of schooling ahead of them and those who are nearing their transition to college and the workforce, have a passion for ensuring that government is responsive to them. Our community stands above the rest because of this spirit for learning, and it is exciting to hear their questions and ideas. These school visits always lift both my spirit and my expectations. I hope that my sharing them does the same for you!

 

CMS COMPLETES ROLL OUT OF NEW MEDICARE CARDS IN GEORGIA 

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare beneficiaries would receive a new Medicare card this year that does not display the beneficiary’s Social Security Number (SSN). The new cards are an effort to protect seniors from identity theft and to safeguard taxpayer dollars by trying to eliminate fraud. And the great news is that CMS has completed its roll-out of the new cards to Georgians, and as such, all Medicare beneficiaries in the state of Georgia should have received a new card with a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) by now. The MBI is what you’ll use for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status instead of your SSN like you once did. Once you receive your new card, be sure to destroy your old card safely so that your personally identifiable information cannot be obtained by others.

YOUR NEW CARD SHOULD LOOK LIKE THIS

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You can learn more about the new Medicare cards and what to expect by clicking here. If you or a loved one did not receive a new card, or if there is an error on the card, please do not hesitate to call my office at 770-232-3005 to speak with a member of my staff who will be more than happy to assist you. No American should be put at risk of identity theft at no fault of their own, and I commend CMS for undertaking this endeavor in such a timely manner!

 

THE 7TH DISTRICT IS HOME TO AMERICA’S INNOVATORS AND JOB CREATORS

If you’ve ever met with me or have seen me speak at events across the district, you will know that by far one of my favorite things to do as your representative is brag about the countless successes and opportunities I get to see every day here at home. I am so incredibly fortunate to represent a district full of individuals and companies big and small who are job creators and innovators. This past week I had the pleasure of seeing two more examples of that. The first was with a company we all know, Amazon. This past September, Amazon opened a new 75,000 square foot delivery station in Lawrenceville. At this new station, more than 400 part-time and full-time employees work to get your Amazon packages through what is called the “last mile” – from the delivery center to your front door. Not only is this facility offering opportunities to those working directly for Amazon, but it is also empowering small businesses in our community – like local delivery companies – that employ even more people by providing access to Amazon’s logistics services.

The only thing more exciting than the number of job opportunities coming into our district are the number of ideas coming out of it. The second company I had the opportunity to meet with this week was ScanTech, which is doing some great work over in Buford that may change your airport experience for the better. ScanTech showed off what will be the next generation of baggage scanners with their Sentinel III machine that will improve both the speed of our airport security process and the safety of our flying experience. Their new scanner can detect more threats more quickly and is already being used in two major airports. As the only small business to have qualified for TSA’s next generation of X-Ray scanners, ScanTech is competing against some of the largest companies in the country. I am proud that ScanTech has decided to call our community home, and I thank them for their hospitality.

 

SAVING YOUR TAX DOLLARS AND JUMP-STARTING ECONOMIC GROWTH THROUGH SMART DEREGULATION

One of the many achievements this Congress shares with the Trump Administration is the elimination of duplicative and overly burdensome regulations levied on nearly every industry in the United States. The deregulation agenda began almost on day one of the 115th Congress, and for the past two years, the White House’s continued diligence has yielded billions in savings, with $23 billion of those savings achieved this year alone! As noted by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, I’m proud to say that this administration has worked hard to keep and strengthen those regulations that are absolutely necessary for the safety and wellbeing of the American people while ridding us of those that are simply outdated and ineffective. And that has resulted in reduced paperwork for nurses, better access to care for our nation’s veterans, and improved health insurance options for small businesses to provide for their employees, among so much more.

You may recall that when President Trump took office, he set out to cut two regulations for every newly issued regulation. His administration hasn’t done that. It’s done so much more! In fact, the White House announced last week that we have actually eliminated 12 regulations for every new one issued. We have achieved a great many things over these past two years with President Trump at the helm to expand economic opportunity and improve business optimism, but there’s so much more to do. For as long as you entrust me with your voting card, we will continue our great work here in Washington and ensure our nation’s economy reaches its fullest potential.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: YOUR CONGRESS IS WORKING TOGETHER FOR YOU 

More than any single policy item or bill, the most frequent topic I hear about from constituents is their frustration with Congress and the polarizing nature of today’s politics. Here is just a sample of recent messages I’ve received about today’s political climate: 

Maria from Buford

When the governing process fails to function, reform is necessary. Congress has taken a step in the right direction with the establishment of a new committee to fix the congressional budget process but more must be done. Congress must build on this effort and consider more fundamental reforms to its procedures, processes and political behavior. This is why I urge you to take this next step and endorse the establishment of a Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. This committee should be tasked with examining the institution of Congress from every angle, searching for ways to enable bipartisan cooperation, and empowering members to better share their constituents’ voices. It will commit to return to more effective legislating, establishing a strong balance of power, and demanding responsible governance. 

Stephen from Dacula

I feel like we can’t talk about politics or large issues without offending, alienating, or hurting people with different opinions than the majority. This is an issue because it reduces the conversation aspect of politics where we need to discuss problems with our peers or elected officials to find the solution that pleases everyone. What are you doing or what could you do to reduce the political divide in America?

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Like Maria and Stephen, I am dedicated to finding real solutions to our nation’s problems and less worried about which side came up with the idea or who gets credit for it. Whether by crafting laws like the Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act, which I wrote with Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA), protecting Georgia’s water resources with the bipartisan Georgia delegation, or by being selected by House leadership to be one of only four Republican House members on the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, I have made a name for our community in Congress as a leader who is willing to work with others to make the hard choices the American people expect. That partnership does not mean sacrificing my values or principles, but rather, it demonstrates that I am willing to listen and talk. The better news, though, is that I am not alone in this effort.

Constituents are not the only ones who think Congress doesn’t work. Many new members of Congress arrive with that same expectation. Even new members of Congress are surprised by how serious their new colleagues are about their work and how dedicated they are to fighting for their constituents. Despite what you might hear on the news from talking heads or even from politicians themselves, members of Congress are willing to come together every day to pass bills with bipartisan support to keep America running. In fact, the Pew Research Center found last year that the 115th Congress has been one of the most productive in years, and since that study, we have only achieved more, and that does not happen on accident.

As of October 1st, the House has passed 1,011 bills, 279 more than average, and 245 of those bills have been enacted into law, including important laws that reform the VA, establish first-in-a-generation tax reform, and in one of the best examples of bipartisan legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), protect our national security. Arguably, the NDAA is one of the most important laws Congress passes each year to authorize our national defense programs, and for fifty-eight consecutive years, Congress has put aside our differences and partisan squabbles to ensure that our country is safe.

While it’s true that Americans are more ideologically split now than in the past, I do not believe representative government is broken, and I am proud to be your representative in Washington working to overcome the rhetoric that divides us. There is no doubt that Americans disagree and will continue to disagree on issues big and small. But, I am equally certain that there is more that unites us as a nation than divides us. As long as citizens remain willing to participate in the American experiment in self-governance, we will all have common ground to work from to better our entire nation.

 

CELEBRATING FIRE CHIEF BOWMAN’S FIFTY YEARS OF SERVICE TO GEORGIA

When you can point to a half century of dedicated, remarkable service to your community as one of your life’s achievements, well, that’s just inspiring. For Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman, that is exactly the legacy he created over the span of his outstanding career in public safety and service. You don’t get a community like ours without individual leaders like Chief Bowman. They are the pillars of what we’ve built here at home. 

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Rep. Rob Woodall presents Chief Danny Bowman with a U.S. flag and certificate of appreciation for his years of service to the people of Forsyth County

Last week I had the pleasure of joining friends and neighbors as we celebrated his great example, and it was my privilege to present him with an American flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor. Chief Bowman is a humble man, but his love for serving others is as evident as the positive impact he has had on Forsyth County. Like so many who know him, I have tremendous respect for Chief Bowman, and I wish him the very best in retirement! I’m grateful for his service, and I look forward to seeing our next great leader flourish in this vital role.

 

LOCAL BUSINESSES HONORED AT PINNACLE SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS LUNCHEON

It’s often said that small businesses are the backbone of our economy not only here at home, but all across the country. That couldn’t be more true, and these “risk-takers and visionaries,” as Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dan Kaufman described them, are leading that charge. Their growth and success is directly correlated to the success of our community as a whole. Through hard work, long days and nights, and an unrelenting commitment to their dream, they turn those dreams into reality. We are so fortunate to have a robust and thriving small business community in the Seventh District, and I’m grateful to our local leaders, chambers of commerce, and more for their commitment to supporting them.

Just last Wednesday, the Gwinnett Chamber hosted its annual Pinnacle Small Business Awards luncheon, and as is always the case, it was full of outstanding local businesses spanning all kinds of industries. They should all be proud. I’m certainly grateful for their drive and passion and what they bring to our community. One of the most rewarding aspects of serving as the Seventh District’s Representative in Congress is being able to visit with and learn from these business owners, including the winner of the 2018 Pinnacle Overall Gwinnett Small Business of the Year Award and the Small Business of the Year: 25+ employees, Winton Machine.

George and Lisa Winton founded their business from their home more than 20 years ago and have since built their operation into a world-renowned manufacturer, innovator, and local job creator. They have represented Georgia at the Made in America Showcase at the White House, been recognized by the Department of Commerce with the U.S. Commercial Service Export Achievement Award, had their expertise sought after by numerous industries throughout the years, and now they add the Pinnacle Overall Small Business of the Year Award to the list of well-deserved accolades. Having had the opportunity to get to know the Winton team over the years, I couldn’t be happier to see their continued success. As I’m sure they would tell any prospective or new business owner with a dream, with hard work there’s no limit to what you can accomplish here in our community. To all of the Pinnacle finalists and small businesses across the district, thank you for what you do, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can ever be of service.

 

GEORGIANS HEAD TO THE POLLS AS EARLY VOTING BEGINS

Early voting has begun in Georgia, and in the first week, hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors have already gone to the polls. Our state and local election officials know how difficult it can be sometimes to get to the polls on Election Day, so from now until November 2nd, voting locations in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties will be open every weekday, and on Saturday, October 27th, locations will be open for folks who would rather vote on a weekend.

Whether you decide to vote early or vote on Election Day, I hope that you avail yourself of your right to vote. It’s a right that Americans fought and died to protect, and it’s a right that so many around the world living under authoritarian regimes are denied. Our American government – from city halls to the halls of Congress – functions best when we’re all part of the process, and that begins with voting.

You can CLICK HERE for a list from the Secretary of State’s office of polling locations in Forsyth Country, and you can CLICK HERE for a list of locations in Gwinnett County.

I hope that you and your family have a great week and enjoy this beautiful fall weather. Thank you for the honor of serving you.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 10/15/18

2018/10/15

HELPING OUR FELLOW AMERICANS RECOVER FROM HURRICANE MICHAEL

Hurricane Michael grew rapidly from a relatively intense tropical storm to a category 4 hurricane – where it remained well after landfall – breaking meteorological records and causing devastation from the Florida panhandle, through Georgia, all the way to Virginia. Only now in Michael’s aftermath can we truly assess the destruction and loss of life left in the storm’s wake and come to terms with just how long it will take to recover.

As a result of the storm, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in Georgia. In doing so, healthcare providers in Georgia were given greater flexibility to meet emergency health needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Those who rely on dialysis machines and oxygen concentrators are especially vulnerable when storms like this one create power outages that can last for days, and this declaration ensures they will have access to the resources they need.

Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Guard are already on the ground to facilitate clean up and search and rescue operations. In fact, FEMA had already been preparing even before Michael made landfall at its headquarters in Georgia’s Dekalb County, and FEMA is prepared to provide assistance to all those affected by the storm.

Congress has also played a part through the appropriations process to ensure FEMA has sufficient funding to meet the needs of the disaster response in anticipation of the potential devastation of this year’s hurricane season. Each natural disaster we face offers us an opportunity to learn how to better prepare, how to better respond, and how to better serve our fellow Americans in crisis. I am grateful to all the first responders who put their lives in harm’s way in the face of disaster, and my heart goes out to those who have lost everything to this storm.

For updated information about resources offered by FEMA and the federal response to Hurricane Michael, CLICK HERE.

If you would like to help our friends and neighbors in the recovery effort, here is a list of trusted national and local organizations to which you can donate time and money:

As always, if there is any way I can serve you, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit my website for information before and after a disaster strikes.

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MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT: NOW THROUGH DECEMBER 7TH

If you or someone you know is on Medicare, you’ll want to know that the 2019 plan year open enrollment has begun and will continue through December 7th. As you may know, during this period you can make changes to your current health plan, whether that is altering your Medicare Advantage plan, changing your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, switching to Original Medicare, and more. During this time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also advises folks to review any materials that your plan sends you, including the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC), to make sure that your needs will continue to be met if your plan is changing. Of course, if you are happy with your current plan, you do not have to make any changes at all!

During the open enrollment period, there are a number of resources available to help you find the plan that works best for you, and you can visit https://www.medicare.gov/ to compare coverage options, estimate plan costs, and explore services in your area. What’s more, if you would like free, personalized health insurance counseling through Georgia’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), a national program that offers assistance to those with Medicare, you can call them at 1-866-552-4464 or you may visit their website for more information.

I know there are few decisions as important as deciding what medical coverage is best for your family, so I encourage you to take this time to review these and other available resources and reach out with any questions that you may have.     

 

SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFICIARIES WILL SEE AN INCREASE IN 2019

I often hear from seniors and their families about how much they rely on the Social Security program as a steady source of income, and I hear that message loud and clear. Social Security absolutely plays a critical role in ensuring that our seniors are protected in their retirement. In fact, a question I hear commonly is: “When will Congress increase my Social Security benefits?” Many folks are surprised when I tell them that the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) determination, which makes sure that benefits keep pace with inflation, isn’t made by any one member of Congress or any one committee, but instead, is tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). In fact, the statute exists so that politics and political maneuvering are taken completely out of the process. When the CPI-W shows an increase in inflation, the COLA increases in kind, and this year, seniors will see a significant increase. Last week, the Social Security Administration announced that beneficiaries will receive a 2.8% percent COLA increase for 2019, the largest increase since 2012!

 

NIKKI HALEY RESIGNS FROM HER POST AS U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.

Last week, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.), Nikki Haley, announced that she will be stepping down from her post at the end of this year. Ambassador Haley is both a dedicated public servant and diplomat, and I believe she has served our country well in her role as U.N. Ambassador. Undoubtedly, Ambassador Haley will leave those who succeed her with big shoes to fill, as she has faced and engaged with foreign nations on unprecedented matters such as when the U.S. moved its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, discussions and negotiations surrounding the denuclearization of North Korea, as well as taking a staunch stance on Russia and Iran just to name a few of the most notable foreign policy matters she’s expertly maneuvered in her two years serving at the U.N. Despite her decision to resign, I certainly expect that we will continue to see Ms. Haley’s name and presence in the years to come, especially when it comes to important foreign policy matters, and I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS BILLS TO LOWER DRUG PRICES AT THE COUNTER

President Trump acted on drug prices last week by signing two bills into law – S. 2553 and S.2554 – both of which prohibit so called “gag clause” provisions in Medicare and in group or individual health plans. These “gag clauses” have long prevented pharmacists from telling patients at the counter that they could save money if they chose to pay cash rather than use their health insurance.

Certainly, I think we’d all agree that patients and consumers deserve to know the lowest price option available to them, as well as make the decision of whether it makes more sense for them to pay out of pocket or to utilize their insurance plan. I am pleased that this Congress and White House have once again acted to do just that and afford patients and consumers more choices when it comes to being in control of their health care destiny.

The good news is that acting to prohibit the inclusion of “gag clauses” in such agreements between pharmacists, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurers is just one example of the many ways in which this Administration is working to move the needle forward on lowering the costs of prescription drugs, and I believe the passage of these two bills with overwhelming bipartisan support represents just how willing this Congress is to play a role in bringing solutions home to constituents. You can be sure that I will continue looking for ways the federal government can supplement the ongoing movement across states to bring increased pricing transparency to the healthcare realm which will hopefully in turn spur increased competition and greater consumer choice.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: FOCUSING ON ELIMINATING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Last week, President Trump proclaimed October 2018 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As the President said in his proclamation, “Personal relationships should be a source of comfort and support — a solid foundation for each person’s empowerment and achievement in his or her daily life.” Unfortunately, domestic violence shatters lives, and we must do all we can to prevent it. While this month will serve as a reminder of our commitment to ridding our society of this awful crime, this crime does not discriminate at which time it will strike or whom it will affect. Here is some mail I’ve received about Congressional efforts to stop domestic violence:

 

Shoshana from Peachtree Corners:

 

Preventing violence against women through legislation sends a strong message to prove you believe in protecting Americans. The Violence Against Women Act is due to expire soon. I strongly urge you to not only vote for its renewal, but cosponsor this vital piece of legislation. Protect the women of this country and help stop domestic violence in it.

 

Darryl from Lawrenceville:

 

Supports the Violence Against Women act and hopes that RW does the same. It is supposed to help women who endure domestic violence and various crimes related to this. Thanks us for our hard work.

 

Alola from Cumming:

 

More than any other legislation, the Violence Against Women Act has had the largest impact on preventing and responding to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Since VAWA's implementation in 1994, the annual incidence of domestic violence has decreased 53 percent. We pray that the current Congress continues to affirm the importance of VAWA, and through reauthorization, continues to affirm the God-given worth of women.

______________________________________________________________________________

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that Shoshana, Darryl, and Alola wrote in about is a critically important law for funding community violence prevention programs as well as protection and assistance programs for victims, amongst so much more. Like many of you have pointed out in your correspondence, VAWA was set to expire on September 30th. The good news is, though, the funding bill that Congress recently passed and the President signed into law maintained funding for these programs through December 7th. Until that time, Congress will continue its work on the remaining funding bills, including the bill for funding our federal justice programs, which contains VAWA programs. As with any bill, VAWA is not a perfect law as it stands today, but I expect there to be a robust debate about how we can craft a better VAWA to end violence against women. 

That said, the truth is that most domestic violence laws—like most criminal justice laws—are enacted on the state level where law enforcement agencies can more quickly and appropriately respond to any crisis. The Georgia Department of Community Supervision and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence are charged with enforcing and implementing state domestic violence laws, including creating Family Violence Intervention Programs, which rehabilitate family and domestic violence offenders, and running community task forces, which oversee the implementation of family violence laws in Georgia. In addition to our state government, organizations like the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a coalition of advocates which raise awareness about domestic violence and directly serve those affected, or Family Haven in Forsyth County, which can provide shelter, counselling, and support to those fleeing violence, lead efforts across the state to end domestic violence. 

If you ever need to talk to someone because you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please contact one of these organizations or use Georgia’s 24 hour hotline at 1-800-33-HAVE (1-800-334-2836) to receive assistance. If you believe Georgia’s domestic violence laws should be changed to better protect women and children, I encourage you to contact your state representative or state senator, as they have the appropriate jurisdiction to enact those laws. 

Domestic violence is far too common—just one instance of abuse in any form is one too many. Together we can put an end to this horrific crime, and we thank the many advocates, first responders, healthcare providers, and more who work every day protecting and serving those affected.  

 

GWINNETT SELECTS TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

When you have a school system that is nationally known for its standard of excellence – and in fact twice been the recipient of the Broad Prize for best urban school district in the country, as Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) has – you certainly didn’t get there without remarkable teachers. Each year we as a community celebrate some of these amazing people with the district-wide Teacher of the Year Award, and last week, Gwinnett’s six finalists were announced. Once a winner is selected, they will represent GCPS in the State competition. I’m sure whomever is selected will make us proud and I wish each of them the best of luck moving forward. Irrespective of the results, we are fortunate to have such dedicated teachers all across the Seventh District, and I certainly don’t envy those having to make this decision!

 

FORSYTH COUNTY EDUCATION FOUNDATION AWARDS GRANTS TO LOCAL SCHOOLS

Forsyth County is no stranger to success – in education and so much more – and one of the most important ingredients to that success is the way we support each other. While not all of us are teachers or working directly in our community’s schools, we all understand the importance of their mission. In a world that is rapidly changing from a technological and economic standpoint, incorporating necessary innovation into our schools is crucial to preparing the next generation for the jobs and careers that will be needed and available. The Forsyth County Education Foundation was founded in 2015 for this very purpose of adding to the financial resources of schools so that they can invest even more in innovative and interactive initiatives. I love that kind of proactive passion that is so prevalent here at home, and it is undeniably why we lead in so many areas. I often say that we are a community of problem-solvers who are only interested in being a part of a solution, not assigning blame. That absolutely applies in this case. We are always looking for ways to do even better than we already are, and as a result, our schools, businesses, service organizations and more are exceptionally successful. Local leadership isn’t a catchphrase for the Seventh District, it’s a way of life, and I’m grateful for everyone responsible for that reality.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

With those great stories about how well our local schools are doing, I’m excited to spend some time this week meeting with those great students, teachers, and parents. I often say that my best days are those that start out at a school, and this week I’m going to be visiting an elementary school in Dacula to talk with young people who are starting to study the Constitution. I’ll also be with two science classes at Lanier High School in Sugar Hill to congratulate them and their teachers on receiving the National Green Ribbon Schools Award. And to round-out my “education week,” I’ll be with seventh and eighth graders in Duluth talking with them about the important issues facing our nation and how they can become the leaders of tomorrow. We hear all the time how apathetic our young people are and how they aren’t engaged in our national discourse. I don’t think that’s the case at all. And I’m sure that these students will prove just how bright and engaged they are in the future of America!

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

Read More

District Connection - 10/9/18

2018/10/09

LANDMARK OPIOID LEGISLATION SENT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR HIS SIGANTURE

Overshadowed by last week’s partisan news cycle was a significant bipartisan achievement that I want to take a few moments to highlight, and that is the final passage of H.R. 6, the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act,” which has been sent to the President to be signed into law. In fact, H.R. 6 will be signed into law during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a month that the President has dedicated to reaffirming our commitments to lending a helping hand to our friends and neighbors who may be struggling with any form of substance abuse. 

You may recall that it was just a little over four months ago that the House advanced its opioid legislation to the Senate for consideration, and I am thrilled that both chambers of Congress have acted across the aisle and in unison to bring solutions home to the many individuals and families that have been devastated by the opioid crisis that has gripped our nation for too long. This landmark legislation is comprised of dozens of bills that lawmakers have carefully crafted to deliver assistance and resources to parents, patients, teachers, state officials, and communities, and I do believe that the bill’s many solutions will work to bolster efforts we’re already taking at the state and local level to combat the crisis. 

What’s more, this bill not only provides critical resources to communities across the country to thwart the crises, but it also includes measures preventing such illegal and controlled substances from pervading our communities by preventing the flow of illicit substances like fentanyl across borders, as well as ensuring increased access to drug disposals to easily rid unused or old prescription drugs and opioids from homes. Additionally, the bill addresses the economic and workforce impacts of the opioid crisis by putting in place safeguards and initiatives to help prevent individuals from relapsing into addiction. It’s often very difficult for individuals who have battled with addiction to attain work after recovery and thus, our rehabilitation and health care systems can become overwhelmed by those who find themselves using again. As such, H.R. 6 works to help stem the cyclical wrath of addiction by helping to create a solid foundation for these individuals post recovery. 

Because the solutions in H.R. 6 will not put an end to this crisis on their own, as they will surely require a lot of commitment and effort on behalf of states and localities to optimize their impact and reach, I hope you will join me uplifting those individuals who are battling this crisis on the front lines and who are working each day to drive down the number of opioid related deaths in Georgia – and across the country – and are working endlessly to reverse this perverse trend. They are the ones who will take the tools and resources provided in H.R. 6 and move them across the only finish line that truly matters – saving lives and keeping families together.

 

AMERICA’S ECONOMY CONTINUES TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS

America’s economy continues to roll, as the September jobs report indicates. In fact, we added 134,000 jobs last month and achieved the lowest unemployment figures since 1969!  To put that in perspective, the last time American workers had this kind of opportunity, Richard Nixon was president, the Saturday Evening Post was still in publication, and the Brady Bunch premiered on television.  Despite calls to raise our taxes and return to an economy strangled by red tape, this continued record-setting success demonstrates yet again that the American people are the greatest force for productivity, innovation, and prosperity in the world.  With your partnership, we will look back at these milestones as the beginning of the American economic renaissance!

 

JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH CONFIRMED TO THE SUPREME COURT

This past Saturday, the Senate confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court – for whom Judge Kavanaugh himself used to clerk. This confirmation process was long, arduous, and emotional for so many Americans, and I do not envy my Senate colleagues for the responsibility they had to bear and the divisiveness they had to face these past few weeks. With that said, I believe they have made the right choice. Judge Kavanaugh is immensely qualified to be the next Supreme Court Justice as demonstrated by his academic background and career, as well as his twelve-year experience on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – informally called the second most powerful court in the land – where he authored over 300 opinions. The Senate Judiciary Committee was also provided 42,000 pages of documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush Administration. After seven F.B.I. investigations and thousands upon thousands of pages of documentation related to Judge Kavanaugh’s background, I am satisfied the Committee performed its due diligence to ensure the integrity of this candidate for the Supreme Court. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: MAINTAINING OUR STRONG RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL

A significant factor supporting America’s ability to shape world events is the relationship we have with our allies around the globe. With active diplomatic relations with nearly 200 countries, we have partnered with other nations to spread freedom and prosperity since our very beginning.  Countries like the United Kingdom and France have stood with the U.S. for centuries—despite some bumps along the road—while others, like those of the former Soviet Union and other newer countries, have only just begun. While not our oldest or our newest ally, Israel is one of our most important as it is the only fully functioning democracy in the Middle East and our greatest partner for peace and freedom in the region.  Here is what I have heard from some of you about that relationship:

Daniel from Suwanee:

Annual security assistance to America's ally Israel is the most tangible manifestation of American support for the Jewish state. Today, Israel faces an unprecedented array of threats, that range from Iran's increased presence in Syria and Lebanon to the growing weapons capabilities of Hamas and Hezbollah. These threats require the Jewish state to significantly increase its defense expenditures in order to protect itself and to keep its citizens safe. The United States must continue to help ensure that Israel has the resources necessary to defend itself, by itself, against these threats. 

To this end, I ask that you support $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel as well as $500 million in cooperative missile defense funding for Israel for fiscal year 2019 in accordance with the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance. Thank you for standing with Israel, the United States' closest ally in the Middle East.

Miriam from Cumming:

I urge you to support robust U.S. security assistance to Israel and cosponsor the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018. Annual security assistance to Israel is the most tangible manifestation of American support for the Jewish state. With mounting threats on Israel's borders, including Iran's increased presence in Syria and Lebanon, this assistance is more important than ever. The United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 seeks to ensure Israel has the means to defend itself, by itself, against these and other growing threats. This bipartisan bill supports full security funding to Israel, in accordance with the 2016 


U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance (MOU). This bill also extends authorization for the U.S. War-Reserve Stockpile in Israel by five years and authorizes an additional $1 billion in stocks. Additionally, it authorizes the president to add precision-guided munitions to the stockpile. Please cosponsor the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 and support $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel and $500 million in cooperative missile defense funding for fiscal year 2019, as called for in the MOU. These funds are critical for ensuring that Israel—America's closest ally in the region—has the military means to counter these threats. 

________________________________________________________________________________

As the sole democracy in the Middle East, Israel faces constant real and existential threats from terrorists and rogue regimes from hundreds of miles away to just feet away. The U.S. has stood as a proud partner in protecting Israel from those threats from the very beginning. In fact, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. Because of the aforementioned threats, that foreign assistance has largely been in the form of military assistance, the primary vehicle for which being the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Daniel and Miriam wrote about. This past week marked the beginning of the 2019 fiscal year, and with it starts the ten-year period of implementing the most recent MOU. The MOU is a decade long agreement negotiated back in 2016 under the Obama Administration demonstrating our nation’s bipartisan commitment to protecting our crucial ally Israel.

Back in 2016, I was proud to lend my support for this MOU by sending a letter with a number of my colleagues to then-President Obama asking him to increase our commitment to Israel. Under the terms of the new $38 billion MOU, the U.S. will provide Israel with $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defense over each of the next ten years. This MOU replaced the previous $30 billion agreement, representing a significant increase and enabling Israel to acquire additional advanced military capabilities from the U.S. which will ensure Israel’s security and strengthen our bilateral relationship.

A safe and strong Israel is not only critical for the people of Israel but also to America’s own national security interests. I am proud to be a strong friend to Israel and to provide it with the resources necessary to defend itself. 

 

MIGRATING MONARCH BUTTERFLIES ARE FLYING OVER GEORGIA 

The feel of fall is in the air already for some parts of the country, even if those of us in Georgia are still feeling the warm temperatures of a late summer.  While fall usually brings us football games, pumpkins, and outdoor hikes, you might not know that it also brings a great migration of monarch butterflies.  Yes – monarch butterflies!  

The autumn migratory generation of eastern monarchs will be traveling up to 3,000 miles from their most northern breeding range in the United States and Canada to warmer climates in the south. What that means for all of us is that you can watch their peak migration now through October 11th, as they glide over Gwinnett and Forsyth counties on their way to their final destination in either Florida or Mexico. So while you’re outside enjoying Georgia’s beautiful late summer weather, look up, and you just might see one of the 50+ monarch butterflies I released with the House Pollinator Protection Caucus and Pollinator Partnership in Washington, D.C. on September 25th.  We held this bipartisan event to raise awareness about the decline of the monarch population and to share how Americans may help this necessary species by planting milkweed and various nectaring fuel sources,  which are essential for their survival.   


Suwanee resident Caroline LeBleu visited Washington, D.C., with her family and took part in the monarch release in front of the U.S. Capitol.

Other congressional colleagues who joined me include Reps. Rodney Davis (IL-13), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Dan Newhouse (WA-4). Additional participants were U.S. Department of Interior Assistant Secretary Andrea Travnicek and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jim Kurth. This was a fun, educational, and bipartisan event, and I hope to take part in more events like this in the future. 

 

STEM EDUCATION AND TECH INDUSTRY THRIVING IN PEACHTREE CORNERS

Our community is full of legacies left by those who have called it home over the years, and last week we celebrated one of the most impactful residents we’ve known. Paul Duke is often referred to as the “Father of Peachtree Corners” for his service and vision. It was his leadership that brought about Technology Park which is now home to a thriving and ever-growing technology industry in Peachtree Corners. His passion now lives on in the Paul Duke STEM High School, which opened this past August but was recently officially dedicated to its namesake.

The Seventh District is home to so many wonderful communities, and Peachtree Corners is right there with the best. As is the case with each, it’s the people that make our communities what they are. It’s no accident. I’m grateful for all the men and women who put their talents to use and share their vision with us to make our home a better place. The Seventh District has award-winning schools, and it has a robust economy. These things go hand-in-hand; one doesn’t happen without the other. The partnership demonstrated by Peachtree Corners leadership and Gwinnett County Public Schools is further evidence of that shared commitment to excellence not only now, but in the long-term. Thank you all for what you do!

 

PAYING TRIBUTE TO FIRST-RESPONDERS

It would be all too easy to take for granted the assurance we have when it comes to calling upon our first-responders in times of need, but thankfully we have a deep appreciation for these men and women here at home. Whether law enforcement, firefighters, EMS personnel, and more, they are so very important to us all. Their service provides a peace of mind that would otherwise be absent. Day-in and day-out, they go to work to serve their neighbors – often times in precarious and potentially life-threatening situations. They do this willingly, for us, and we’re grateful. 

Last week, first responders and Forsyth County residents gathered to celebrate, memorialize and remember the sacrifice of local heroes in our community and across the nation at the third annual Blue Lives Matter event. Such things can certainly be somber as we remember those we lost, but in our shared gratitude and celebration of their lives and character, we’re brought even closer together. Thank you to each and every one of our first-responders, the families who also bear the weight of that sacrifice, and thank you to all those in our community who made this event possible.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the Senate is expected to move to the President’s desk a major water infrastructure bill, S. 3021, the “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.” This bill passed the House overwhelmingly in September, and now, in a similarly bipartisan fashion, it’s expected to pass the Senate. This will be the third Congress in a row where we have been able to draft, negotiate, and pass a water resources bill to support the work of the Army Corps of Engineers – which manages our very own Lake Lanier – and various states and utilities that provide drinking water and storm water infrastructure. This bill is another critical piece of President Trump’s larger infrastructure plan, and I’m so proud that it’s finally going to become law.

On a more somber note, many of us in the southeast are going to be preparing for Hurricane Michael to make landfall this week. While the hurricane is expected to track south and east of the metro Atlanta area, our friends and neighbors in south Georgia, especially in Albany, Valdosta, and Waycross, should plan for strong tropical storm force winds and many inches of rain. For those of us in the metro area, weather forecasters are predicting that this will be a rain event, with possibly strong, tropical storm force wind gusts, but hopefully, no chance for real damage. That said, with likely power outages, flooding, and wind damage expected to our south, please keep our fellow Georgians – and our neighbors in Florida and Alabama – in your thoughts and prayers. And if you’d like to help, I would encourage you to donate to your charity of choice. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

Read More

Washington Watch - 10/1/18

2018/10/01

U.S. AND SOUTH KOREA SUCCESSFULLY RENEGOTIATE TRADE DEAL 

President Trump has made the renegotiation of America’s longstanding trade agreements a top priority of his Administration, and I am encouraged by the progress that we are making on behalf of American workers.  While the President is still deeply engaged in ongoing negotiations with China, Japan, Canada, and Mexico, we saw last week a final deal come together with our close friends in South Korea!  This process began with a law Congress enacted in 2012, which opened up economic opportunities between our two nations, and culminated last week in a signing ceremony that updates the terms of this agreement to our mutual benefit.  Free and fair trade is an important part of our plan to continue growing family paychecks and the American economy, so I look forward to finalizing even more deals in the near future. 

 

ENSURING THE TAX CODE CONTINUES TO WORK BETTER FOR AMERICAN TAXPAYERS 

Last week, the House took an important step forward in making permanent the many changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Even though the primary effects of the TCJA won’t be felt until next year, many of us have already seen and experienced the immediate effects of tax reform over the past nine months. With a booming economy, unemployment in Georgia has fallen substantially over the past year, and more jobs are available than there are job seekers in America, and it is undeniable that the TCJA and American workers are moving our nation in the right direction. 

That said, I have long said that the TCJA is not the end all be all, nor was it intended be. We must be careful not to fall into the same trap that our predecessors did after 1986 – the last year significant reforms were made to the tax code prior to the enactment of the TCJA – as they thought their work was done, and so they largely ignored the code for the next three decades. As such, we must never stop looking for ways to make our tax code work even better for American families and businesses on a more regular basis, as well as to ensure that our tax code is dynamic enough that it can continue to bolster our growing economy and place America on a level playing field with other lower tax countries. That is why I was proud to join my House colleagues in advancing three bills to the Senate that I am confident will work to make American families, individuals, and small businesses better off and permit them to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the notable changes those bills would make, and I hope you will join me in urging the Senate to take up these bills and send them to the President’s desk. 

  • H.R. 6757, the “Family Savings Act of 2018,” was sponsored by Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) and has been specifically designed to allow families the opportunity to save more of their hard-earned dollars to cover life’s big events – emergencies, education, and children – as well as to set more aside for retirement. 
  • H.R. 6756, the “American Innovation Act of 2018,” was sponsored by Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and seeks to spur innovation and encourage entrepreneurs and start-ups to grow and expand by allowing such businesses to deduct up to $20,000 in startup and organizational expenses in the year they are incurred, with some exceptions.
  • H.R. 6760, the “Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018,” was sponsored by Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) and would make permanent the tax provisions for individuals and pass-through businesses enacted by the TCJA that would otherwise sunset after 2025. 

 

HOUSE APPROVES LONG-TERM FAA REAUTHORIZATION 

On Thursday, a bipartisan majority of the House passed FAA reauthorization legislation, which I was proud to help write as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Aviation Subcommittee.  This bill provides more long-term certainty for the FAA and America’s world-leading aviation community than any bill passed in more than 25 years.  It does far more than simply keep our nation’s aviation systems operational—it included a number of provisions to protect consumers, enhance safety, spur job growth, and invest in better airport infrastructure which will make traveling more convenient and reliable.  You can read a full summary of the bill here, but I want to highlight two parts that I was particularly focused on—certification reform and air ambulance oversight.   

Regarding certification reform, we have a number of businesses in the Seventh District which I’ve had the privilege of visiting and which manufacture aviation components, and they impressed upon me the need for a more predictable regulatory structure.  The way their aviation components are tested for safety and functionality can vary from region to region, generating uncertainty and needless cost overruns.  Some of the larger companies even claim to have better testing equipment than the FAA does, and when the FAA agrees, the FAA is allowed to speed its approval process by including the results of these pre-approved tests in its own evaluation.  This year’s FAA bill makes sure that both the federal regulators and the private companies are working collaboratively to get better products to domestic and international markets faster.  We all know the federal government can never move at the speed of the private sector, so you’ll find language in Title II of this legislation that streamlines this process and makes sure that the only delays in getting our companies’ products to market are due to rigorous safety testing rather than unnecessary bureaucracy.  

We also harmonize other parts of existing law to remove barriers to getting our local products to international markets, which is a win for our job creators and employers in Gwinnett, Forsyth, and throughout the State of Georgia.

Another portion I want to highlight relates to predatory behavior by a handful of air ambulance companies.  I was approached by a number of folks—including local air ambulance operators, state insurance regulators, emergency medical personnel, and consumer protection advocates—who alerted me to the troubling business practices being employed by a few large corporations backed by private equity investors.  The issue boils down to this: if tragedy should strike you or your family and emergency transport to a hospital via air ambulance becomes necessary, you may think your insurance would cover the bill—but you might very well be wrong.  These predatory companies have hired lawyers and lobbyists to subvert and leverage a 40-year old federal law that courts have ruled regulates air ambulances like regular commercial airlines rather than ground ambulances.  This means that if your insurer refuses to pay the exorbitant rate charged by an air ambulance, you could be on the hook for a six-figure bill in the midst of your recovery.   Individual states have attempted to regulate these “balance billing” practices, but they have had little success given the courts deference to the federal law in question.  In other words, the predatory corporations sue the state to overturn reasonable consumer protection laws, and they usually win.  This is outrageous, and I worked for months to craft language that will provide more oversight, more transparency, and tougher enforcement to end these unfair and deceptive practices.  You can read a deep dive into this problem right here, and you can read the specific language I wrote in the bill right here (Sections 418, 419, 420, and 424).   

This bill now goes to the Senate, where I will expect it will pass in the near future and be presented to the President for his final signature!

 

PROMOTING SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH IN CONGRESS 

Earlier this month, small business optimism reached a historic high, and it’s no wonder given our continued economic growth, record number of job openings, and low unemployment. This is in no small part due to the work we have done here in Congress to encourage that growth and incentivize businesses to continue investing in themselves and their employees through regulatory reform and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, among others. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recognized this work at a ceremony last week where I was honored to receive the Guardian of Small Business Award from Juanita Duggan, the President and CEO of NFIB.  

I have always said that jobs aren’t created in Washington; they’re created by small business owners in our communities back home. Those owners deserve an environment that allows them to flourish, providing good, meaningful employment to their workers and the best services to their customers. I’m proud of the work I have been able to accomplish with my colleagues here in the House, and, for as long as you entrust me with your voting card, I commit to you that I will continue my efforts to provide businesses with the tools they need to grow today and into the future.

 
Rep. Rob Woodall receives the Guardian of Small Business Award from Juanita Duggan, President and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business

 

CONGRESS SENDS FY2019 FUNDING BILLS TO THE PRESIDENT’S DESK 

As you may have heard, Congress last week worked across the aisle to pass another package of FY2019 Appropriations bills – H.R. 6157, the “Department of Defense and Labor (DoD), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act.” Passage of H.R. 6157, in addition to the three appropriations bills President Trump signed into law earlier this month, marks the first time since 2007 that Congress has sent multiple appropriations bills to the President’s desk prior to the end of the fiscal year. Building on the American people’s priorities that Congress supported in the first package, H.R. 6157 funds vital Department of Defense activities along with critical Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services programs. More so, the bill gives Congress until December 7th to continue work on the remaining Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriation bills. 

On the defense side, H.R. 6157 provides $674 billion in total funding, consistent with the levels established by the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed Congress overwhelmingly. Congress provided a 2.6% pay raise for the military in addition to $243 billion for key readiness programs to ensure our servicemen and women are prepared for every mission. Looking at the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education portion of the bill, I am proud that Congress retained many longstanding pro-life provisions, boosted funding for the National Institutes of Health to $39 billion, provided money to increase students’ safety and well-being in schools, and included more money to help veterans transition back into the workforce, just to name a few of the many notable provisions. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: CREATING A BETTER FEDERAL WORKFORCE 

With employment prospects in nearly every job sector you can think of, Georgia’s Seventh District is full of a wide range of opportunities. This week I want to highlight and share my support for one of those groups of workers: federal employees. 

There are over 7,000 federal employees here in the Seventh working at federal agencies and departments ranging from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to the U.S. Postal Service, the CDC, and the Social Security Administration. Each of them perform the daily essential tasks of keeping our government running and serving its citizens. I truly admire all those who choose to work in the federal government and dedicate themselves to serving the public, and it’s an honor to work shoulder to shoulder with many of them every day.  That said, as an employee of the federal government, they are under more scrutiny and are entrusted with the responsible use of American taxpayer dollars.

You can read below about what some of our neighbors have written in about federal employees: 

Cheryl from Lawrenceville: 

Every member of Congress should support the MERIT Act, which would expedite the removal of federal employees who have engaged in misconduct or are simply not performing, while limiting appeals to 30 days. Under current law it can take multiple years to remove an employee. A system that was initially designed to stop political manipulation of the civil service has become an unhealthy protection of bad behavior. 

Many Americans wonder how civil servants at the Justice Department who abused their power still have their jobs. The reason is because of antiquated civil service protections. Congress has already managed to reform this problem at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it’s working, now it needs to be allowed to work for all the other departments and agencies to hold federal employees accountable for their actions.

Michael from Suwanee: 

As a federal employee in your congressional district, I am writing to ask you to provide federal employees with a pay increase for calendar year 2019.  

Amidst a recovering economy and healthy private-sector job market, federal employees should receive fair pay. Human resource consultancies are reporting that the average private-sector pay increase in 2018 is 3 percent. In recent years, the federal workforce has endured multi-year pay freezes as well as several years of below-market pay raises. The President has also proposed a pay freeze for 2019. Federal employees, like all other Americans, face rising food, utility, college, and health care costs. They live and work in every district across the country, and proudly serve the American public, ensuring that our federal agencies are open and ready for business. Given the President's proposal, it is imperative that Congress act to provide a pay raise for federal workers for 2019. Representative Connolly (D-VA) has introduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) pay H.R. 4775 calling for a 3 percent adjustment for 2019 for federal workers covered by the General Schedule and Wage Grade systems.

Please show your support for federal employees and their families in your district by supporting a pay increase for federal workers in 2019 and cosponsoring H.R. 4775. I look forward to hearing back from you soon. 

Shari from Buford: 

What is being done to cut waste in federal agencies and remove federal employees who think they have a job for life despite their performance? 

Amanda from Lawrenceville: 

Please pass a 1.9% pay increase for federal workers! They deserve a pay raise. 

___________________________________________________________ 

In the words of President George H.W. Bush, “public service is a noble calling,” and you will find federal employees at every level of government working tirelessly to make our country a better place. But as you can see, people view federal employees through different lenses.  It is unquestioned that federal employees make sacrifices on behalf of the American people, but too often we have seen both reports of abuse and waste as Cheryl and Shari describe and reports that show government employees are receiving better salaries, better benefits, and more job security than those in the private sector. A 2017 Congressional Budget Office report found that, overall, “the federal government paid 17 percent more in total compensation than it would have if average compensation had been comparable with that in the private sector.” It is no wonder that constituents like Cheryl and Shari expect the highest performance from our federal employees, and so do I.

That is why I have concerns about supporting a bill like H.R. 4775, the “FAIR Act,” that Michael references, that automatically provides raises to every current federal employee without regard to merit or any other performance related factor. To me, it seems like it would be unfair that the employees who work the hardest and accomplish the most are treated the same as underperformers by H.R. 4775.  I do want federal employees to be financially rewarded, but based on their merit, not their longevity.

As Michael said, the President did propose a pay freeze in his budget aimed at aligning federal pay more closely with the private-sector.  Inflation does erode the value of a salary, so I hope Michael and Amanda will be pleased that the funding bill that Congress just passed maintains the 1.9% COLA from the year prior. That provision of the funding bill will remain in effect until early December while Congress continues to debate the last of the FY19 appropriations. But during that time, I expect more discussion on how we can reward those in public service who go above and beyond every day, while also holding accountable those who fail to meet the expectations of the American people.  

Besides pay, both Congress and the President have taken steps to ensure that our federal employees are indeed serving the American people. Congress has passed bills like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 that allows the Secretary of the VA to more easily remove employees who do not adequately serve our veterans. As a result, the VA has removed nearly 2,000 employees this year. 

The horror stories we have all heard from the VA represent some of the worst abuse and waste, and I was proud to support the bipartisan VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to put an end to it. Since he entered office, the President has made it known that he would take major steps to bring accountability to federal employees, and he has. Through a number of Executive Orders, he put a freeze on federal hires early on in his term, and he has placed an increased emphasis on the merit system that holds employees accountable for performance and conduct. 

Again, I want to echo the words of President George H.W. Bush that those who dedicate themselves to serving our country are remarkable people, and you can count on me to support them in that effort.  Accountability ensures that we can reward true public servants while terminating those who refuse to give American taxpayers their money’s worth. 

 

FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS EARN TOP RANKING IN METRO ATLANTA GRADUATION RATES  

When I have the opportunity to visit with young people in high schools across the Seventh District, I’m struck by their intelligence and commitment to excelling not only in school, but beyond. That dedication is innate in many cases, but also taught and nurtured in our community. Whether parents, mentors, teachers, and more, we invest in our young people; and that matters. Having the highest high school graduation rate in metro Atlanta is a wonderful accomplishment for the folks in Forsyth County working so hard to educate the next generation, but it’s representative of a much deeper principle, and reflective of our character. We know that with a top-notch education, the sky is the limit for each of these students. That starts here at home, and follows them to future jobs, families, and careers. It pays dividends in so many ways, but most importantly, in each individual’s life. It’s easy to take for granted the remarkable characteristics of where we call home, but none of them happened by accident. The approach we have taken with education is no different. When I carry the Seventh  District’s message of local decision-making and leadership in our schools to Capitol Hill, it isn’t just a political philosophy, it’s a proven record of success in a thriving community for others to emulate. 

 

DULUTH FALL FESTIVAL RETURNS FOR 36TH YEAR 

Although the summer temperatures have not left us just yet, the calendar now tells us that fall is here, and it sure looked like it Duluth last Saturday! If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll be able to make it out to some of the wonderful community events coming up this season. One of those celebrations did indeed take place this past weekend with another successful Duluth Fall Festival that I was pleased to be able to join. Returning home to see friends and neighbors is always a highlight, but to share in the 36th annual Duluth Fall Festival was a great way to wrap-up a very productive month in Washington. To all those who were in attendance, I’m sure you had as much fun as I did, and for those who couldn’t make it, I hope to see you soon. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at my local office at (770) 232-3005!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD  

The House completed its work last week, passing bipartisan pieces of legislation to combat opioids, reauthorize the FAA, fund the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and ensuring that individual Americans see even greater rewards from another round of critically important tax cuts. Now, the Senate will continue its work on some of those pieces of legislation, as well as on the most publicized issue of last week, the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. I know this event has sparked much discussion between friends and families in the past week, and I have no doubt that the discussions will continue as the Senate moves forward with its Constitutional role of providing advice and consent. 
                        

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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FAA Reauthorization Act Clears Congress, Brings Big Wins to Georgia, Seventh District

2018/09/27

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House unanimously approved H.R. 302, the “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018,” which invests in airport improvements, introduces new protections for aviation customers, establishes a framework for drones to promote safety and innovation, and streamlines the certification process for safe aviation components, making it easier for Seventh District manufacturers and aviation suppliers accounting for millions of dollars’ worth of local economic activity to get their products to market faster.  The measure provides long-term funding certainty through fiscal year 2023, and contains language authored by Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall to clarify regulatory jurisdiction over air ambulance providers, and offer consumers an avenue to address billing complaints.

“Working together across the aisle to move crucial legislation to the President’s desk is far more common than many may realize, and this bill is another example,” said Rep. Woodall. “It provides long-term certainty for the industry and those working day-in and day-out to keep America’s airspace safe and reliable, but it also makes vital reforms that will free up our innovators and job creators in Georgia and right here in the Seventh District. Removing excessive federal bureaucracy that stands between our local manufacturers and economic success means a more efficient government and more jobs back home. I’m very proud of the bipartisan work that got us to this point, and look forward to President Trump signing it into law very soon.”

Among the regulatory reforms Woodall mentions, certification reform for the aviation industry is at the top of the list of wins for several Seventh District companies including Gulfstream’s 2017 Supplier of the Year, A.S.A.P Technologies. Other local companies poised to benefit from the reform include – but are not limited to – A.E. Petsche, CORUS 360, Netplanner Systems, and American Cybersystems. As suppliers of aircraft manufacturers, companies such as these have historically had production hindered due to an antiquated and cumbersome federal certification process for their products. The reforms in the FAA Reauthorization streamline that process to preserve vital safety measures while allowing proven manufacturers to do what they do best at a much faster pace.

“We appreciate the House passing a five-year FAA Reauthorization bill.  This bill will help ensure the FAA and US manufacturers remain the global leaders in aviation safety,” added Robert Glasscock, Vice President, Gulfstream ODA (Organizational Designation Authorization) Lead Administrator.  “The FAA safety certification reform represents a significant and positive change that will ensure the full benefits of ODA are achieved.  These reforms also incorporate efficiencies into the certification process that will address delays in bringing new safety-enhancing products to the global marketplace.”  

“The long-term certainty and important reforms included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 will help advance the general aviation manufacturing and maintenance industry, and the economy,” said Sarah McCann, spokesperson for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), of which companies in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are members. “Streamlining federal processes and paving the way for manufacturers to get their products to market safely, but more efficiently, benefits Seventh District citizens and businesses, as well as the customers they serve. We thank Representative Woodall for his work on this issue, which will benefit manufacturers in Georgia’s Seventh District and beyond.”

The legislation also includes a variety of other provisions that would provide additional funds for disaster relief and modify federal disaster programs, as well as reauthorize the National Transportation Safety Board and Transportation Security Administration.

FAA Reauthorization of 2018 High Points:

Advisory Committee on Air Ambulance Patient Billing and other reforms

Found in Sections 418, 419, and 420 of the legislation, language authored by Rep. Woodall establishes an advisory committee to recommend solutions to improve the disclosure of charges and fees for air medical services, better inform consumers of insurance options for such services, and protect consumers from balance billing, and other predatory business practices. The advisory committee will include representation from health insurance providers, patient and consumer advocacy groups, State insurance regulators, and additional stakeholders. The measure improves the consumer complaint process for patients who believe they were excessively billed, and mandates that air ambulance providers disclose the hotline number and website on any billing correspondence.  Further, Section 424 establishes the position of the Aviation Consumer Advocate, who will be responsible for pursuing enforcement or corrective actions that would be in the public interest on behalf of consumers.

Airport Improvement Program Grants

A pilot program that allows the FAA to provide Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to states as a block grant would be expanded to include as many as 20 states per fiscal year, rather than the previous 10.

The federal share of airport project costs would be 75 percent at medium or large hub airports such as Hartsfield-Jackson International. Projects at other airports, including in states participating in the block grant program, could be eligible for a 90 percent federal share.

New Grant Program

The measure would establish a new discretionary grant program for airports. It authorizes $1.02 billion for grants in fiscal 2019, increasing to $1.11 billion in fiscal 2023. At least 50 percent of the funds would have to be used for non-hub and small hub airports, as well as general aviation airports.

CONSUMER PROVISIONS

The measure would bar the use of e-cigarettes on flights. It would be unlawful to put a pet in an overhead storage compartment. Violations would be subject to a civil penalty of as much as $25,000. Air carriers would be prohibited from involuntarily removing ticketed passengers once they’ve been cleared to board the plane.

LEARN MORE

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 - 9/24/18

2018/09/24

GEORGIA IS THE #1 STATE FOR DOING BUSINESS…AGAIN! 

Across the nation, unemployment is down, wages are up, job openings are through the roof, small business optimism is at an all-time high, 90% of families are keeping more of the money they earn, and the economy is booming.  Our story in Georgia is no different, as Governor Nathan Deal just announced that we were named the #1 state for business—for the fifth consecutive year!  The recipe for this kind of success is simple, but it’s difficult to implement.  In the face of near unified resistance from the left, we’ve cut taxes by nearly $3,000 for the average Seventh District family, we’ve repealed $18 billion worth of ineffective federal regulations, we’ve made significant investments in our transportation infrastructure, we’ve achieved record-breaking gains in the stock market—and analysts say that we are just getting started and the best is yet to come. I agree! Americans are achievers, Americans are innovators, Americans are hard workers, and—in many cases—Washington simply needs to get out of their way and focus on what the federal government does best – supporting local success by keeping our homeland safe.  I’m proud to be your partner in the success of our great nation and our great state.

 

OFFERING DIGNITY THROUGH WORK

For eighty years, the federal government has provided employment opportunities to those who are blind and disabled, thereby ensuring meaningful employment. Now called the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, this program has become the largest employer of those with disabilities across the United States. In fact, Georgia is home to a number of facilities employing workers under the AbilityOne program, including one right here in Lawrenceville. 

Goodwill participates in AbilityOne, helping to place folks at sites like the CDC Biorepository, which I visited last week. I had a chance to meet with the custodial team there who shared with me their pride in the work that they do and their love for the culture of performance that they experience every day. It’s no wonder why Goodwill boasts a nine-year retention rate for their employees who gain access to increased independence and financial stability. These programs lift up everyone in the community and reinforce the fact that there is dignity in work, which is especially vital for folks who might struggle to find good, meaningful careers in the traditional job market. That is why I have and will continue to support AbilityOne contracting goals for goods and services so that others may benefit from this program for another eighty years. 


Rep. Rob Woodall visits with the Goodwill Custodial Team at the CDC Biorepository in Lawrenceville

 

CONGRESS IS MOVING ANOTHER FEDERAL FUNDING BILL AHEAD OF DEADLINE

You read in last week’s newsletter about how the House worked to approve three appropriations bills ahead of the September 30th deadline. Well, I’m pleased to let you know that President Trump signed those three appropriations bills into law on Friday. What’s more, responding to House passed bills, the Senate last week also passed a second Fiscal Year 2019 spending package that funds the Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and other related agencies. 

The Senate’s overwhelming bipartisan action last week is a move that puts the House on track to take up this second package, thus sending more bills to the President’s desk ahead of the fiscal year deadline than any Congress has done in almost 20 years. In fact, you may recall that it was just a little over 16 weeks ago that I shared with you that the House was just getting the ball rolling on the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations process, and while we haven’t quite pushed everything across the finish line, I am thrilled that the House and Senate have been able to overcome the political divisiveness that all too often stymies important government funding measures like these and work together to fund the priorities of the American people. I look forward to working with my House colleagues in sending a second package to the President’s desk for his signature this week, and you can be sure that Congress will continue working to pass the remaining appropriations bills in a timely manner.

I know this is campaign season, so the naysayers are peddling a message of inaction, but you can be proud that your Congress—whether for our armed forces, our infrastructure, our medical research, or our children—is having the most productive funding session of the 21st Century.  Don’t look for this news to be promoted on most networks or many major papers, but if you are a believer in self-government, you should be proud of this record-setting bipartisan, bicameral success.

 

FORSYTH FIREFIGHTERS SECURE FEDERAL GRANT OPPORTUNITY 

One of the many great things about being the Seventh District’s Representative in Washington is the way in which I am able to partner with our remarkable local leaders here at home. Some folks in Washington don’t have the kind of leadership in their districts that I do, and consequently, they may feel a need to craft one-size-fits-all policies on Capitol Hill rather than send many of those decisions back to our communities. We don’t have that problem here. You see example after example where City Halls, County Commission board rooms, and the Gold Dome are doing an absolutely outstanding job. 

One of those examples of our partnership, however, came to fruition just recently when Forsyth County was awarded a $1.6 million federal grant to hire firefighters for a new station that will serve the growing needs of the area. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, as it is known, comes from the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA, and requires a $1 million cash match from the county. What many may not know is that the likelihood of being selected for federal grant opportunities goes up immensely when there is an established track record of success locally – like we see from Forsyth County. That competency makes telling our story and speaking on Chief Bowman’s behalf to FEMA’s leaders so much easier and tremendously more effective. It’s exciting to see what our community is doing and the ways we continue to lead not only Georgia, but the entire region. The way in which we work together is certainly at the core of that success, and I look forward to achieving even more in months to come.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: UPDATING MUSIC LAWS FOR THE MODERN AGE

As a member of Congress, I have the opportunity to tackle issues big and small. Rightfully so, we focus on the biggest issues most of the time.  However, almost every day Congress votes on bills that are smaller and target specific industries. And most of the time, these smaller issues are common sense and bipartisan success stories. One of those issues is H.R. 5447, the “Music Modernization Act.” Nearly everyone in America listens to music. Whether it be on the radio, at a concert, or what is now becoming more common, on streaming services via the Internet, we can all relate to the joy and connection of listening to music. 

Some of you have written in in support of this bill:

Arthur from Lawrenceville

Songwriters are egregiously underpaid because laws governing the music industry have not kept pace with technology. The Music Modernization Act of 2017 will change that. This bill is the most significant update to music copyright law in over a generation and represents an unprecedented agreement between the music and technology industries. We, as the songwriters most affected by 100-year-old policies that reduce our royalties, encourage Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible….The next time you hear your favorite song, think of the struggling small business owner who wrote it, and remember that you can do something to help by supporting the Music Modernization Act.

Tikesha from Duluth

Thank you for supporting music creators earlier this year by voting for the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 5447). Since then, the Senate has worked with stakeholders to build more support for the bill and add more protections and assurances for artists, songwriters and producers. On September 18, the Senate unanimously passed its version of the Music Modernization Act and have sent it back to the House of Representatives for consideration. I urge you to once again stand with music creators and vote for the Music Modernization Act (S.Amdt. 4022 to H.R. 1551)--the bill is expected to be voted on before the end of September. 

The current copyright system for music creators is rooted in the distant past and does not reflect the current digital environment, resulting in below-market compensation for performers, songwriters and studio professionals. The Music Modernization Act provides a clear path forward to address outdated and broken laws, benefiting all who create music, including thousands of songwriters, studio professionals, legacy artists and musicians. The MMA is a critical step towards ensuring that music is properly valued and protected in the 21st century, and that all who create music have the opportunity to earn fair value for their work. The Music Modernization Act is the result of years of negotiations, hearings, and input from members of the music community. In addition to the greater music community, businesses, and unions, the MMA is also endorsed by the Digital Media Association, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Internet Association. This final vote represents an historic opportunity for you and your colleagues to bring consensus reform to the president's desk. Please vote for the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 1551).

________________________________________________________________________________

What issue can be more bipartisan than music? No matter the genre, music has been called a universal language, and with the advent of the Internet, it has only allowed us more access to an even wider range of music and allowed more artists to enter the market. However, the rapid advancement of technology has left many artists without appropriate compensation since we’re still forcing songwriters to adhere to rules established before the first World War! Technology always moves faster than lawmakers, and as such, there is a constant need to update our nation's many laws. Certainly, when lawmakers first drafted our copyright laws, they could have never envisioned online streaming sites like Pandora or Spotify, to name a few, or whatever the brand new innovation will be in the years to come. 

The Senate-amended version of the “Music Modernization Act” combines three earlier bills to create a new framework for enforcing songwriting copyrights and paying royalties for digital streaming and downloads. The bulk of the bill is dedicated to creating a new mechanical licensing system (the rights to reproduce copyrighted material on CDs, tapes, digital streams, downloads, etc.) governed by publishers and songwriters called the Mechanical Licensing Collective. The body would be tasked with: identifying musical works used in recordings and locating the corresponding copyright; maintaining a musical works database available to those who have a newly created blanket license; establishing a process for copyright owners to claim ownership of works; and enforcing the new blanket licenses. The new blanket licenses would allow digital streaming services to obtain universal permission to play songs, and it would set the compensation rates for the licenses based on free-market conditions, rather than the low rates set by the current Copyright Royalty Board. Other provisions include codifying the right of producers, mixers, and sound engineers to digital royalties, and requiring payment of royalties for the digital reproduction of works recorded before 1972 under the same license provided to post 1972 recordings. You might not believe it, but sound recordings were not included in federal copyright law until 1972, which shows just how long it takes for legislation to catch up to innovation. 

With the growing popularity of music streaming services, songwriters and performers have not been compensated properly for the digital reproduction of their works and streaming services have been left in the dark, uncertain about who to compensate or even able to compensate artists. This legislation updates our antiquated music licensing system by creating an authoritative and accurate database of music copyright ownership that is run and enforced by the industry. Streaming services will avoid future litigation over improper compensation, and songwriters, performers, and studio professionals will be fairly compensated for their works. The revised legislation was just passed unanimously by the Senate, and I am eager to support this bill when it comes back to the House. 

 

USING LOCALLY DEVELOPED TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE SCHOOL SAFETY

I know I often talk about partnership and what it means to the success of our community, but just in case you still aren’t convinced, I’ll highlight another example which I was able to witness on Friday at Discovery High School. We’ve all seen the flashing school beacons at various times – typically in the mornings and afternoons – to slow traffic and create a safe environment for children going to and from school, but most of us don’t likely think about what goes into making those beacons function, and function at the highest level possible. The folks at Applied Information, Inc. in Suwanee did think about this, however, as entrepreneurs often do. They worked to develop a connected school beacon system using Internet technology, and consequently, offer local governments the ability to more closely monitor these beacons and interactively communicate with them. The Gwinnett County Department of Transportation (DOT) is one of those local governments utilizing the technology, and on Friday I was able to see in person just how the process works.

The technology was first deployed throughout Gwinnett County in 2016, and according to the county DOT, citizen reports involving issues with the beacons went down 80% in the first year! Now of course, school safety has always been priority number one for school and county officials here in the Seventh District. Their track record speaks for itself, but like any good group of leaders, they’re always looking for ways to serve the community even better, and it’s exciting to see such developments happening right here at home. I’m grateful to Discovery High School and Benefield Elementary School Principals Marci Sledge and Shonda Stevens, Gwinnett County Deputy Director for Traffic Engineering Tom Sever, as well as Applied Information, Inc. President Bryan Mulligan, and the whole team who made the visit possible. Thank you all for what you do for our community, and thank you again for your partnership on this important issue!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is expected to consider two critically important packages of legislation: the Conference Report for H.R. 6157, which includes FY19 funding for the Department of Defense and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and a Continuing Resolution to fund the remaining departments and agencies through December 7th, as well as three bills which make-up the “Tax Reform 2.0” legislation – H.R. 6760, H.R. 6756, and H.R. 6757. 

If this sounds like a lot to pack into one week, you’re absolutely right! Passing our two largest annual appropriations bills – Defense and Labor/HHS/Education – before the end of the fiscal year is something that Congress hasn’t been able to do in many years. And what’s more, given the incredible success of our first tax reform bill, the House is moving another package that will help even more individual Americans keep more of their hard-earned money. Under the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and President Trump, we’re changing the culture of brinksmanship and inaction in Washington, D.C., in favor of a culture of stewardship for the American people.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Rep. Woodall Pays Tribute to Officer Antwan Toney on House Floor

2018-11-16 22:06:08


Rep. Woodall Discusses "America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018" on the House Floor

2018-09-13 19:36:37


Rep. Woodall Manages the Rule for H.R. 8, H.R. 3249, and H.R. 5895

2018-06-08 19:16:32


Rep. Woodall Discusses the Water Resources Development Act of 2018

2018-06-06 13:48:56


Rep. Woodall Discusses the Farm Bill on the House Floor

2018-05-17 21:32:01


Rep. Woodall Discuss the FAA Reauthorization Act on the House Floor

2018-04-26 17:52:44


What Tax Day 2018 Means for the FairTax

2018-04-19 21:38:13


Rep. Woodall Talks FairTax - Tax Week 2018

2018-04-19 21:24:59


Rep. Woodall Discusses the Balanced Budget Amendment on House Floor

2018-04-13 15:14:53


Rep. Woodall Discusses Tax Reform Successes on the House Floor

2018-03-23 19:05:27


Rep. Woodall Discusses Lake Lanier Security Camera Prohibition

2018-03-19 13:35:50


Rep. Woodall Discusses SHEP at T&I Subcommittee Hearing

2018-03-19 13:32:25


Rep. Woodall Discusses the President's FY19 Budget with OMB Director Mulvaney

2018-02-16 21:31:37


Rep. Woodall Talks Budgets and Spending on House Floor

2018-02-16 20:57:24


Rep. Woodall Discusses the ADA and Website Compliance on the House Floor

2018-02-15 22:25:50


Rep. Woodall Discusses President Trump's Budget and Infrastructure Plan on Washington Journal

2018-02-14 17:37:24


Rep. Woodall Speaks in Support of H.R. 1 on the House Floor

2017-12-20 22:20:15


Rep. Woodall Manages the Rule for H.J.Res.123, H.R. 3971, and H.R 477

2017-12-08 20:02:22


Rep. Woodall Manages the Rule for H.R. 4182 and H.R. 1699

2017-12-01 23:17:45


Rep. Woodall's Message for Gwinnett’s 2nd Annual Red, Blue and You Celebration

2017-11-17 22:22:29


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.


Serving With

Buddy Carter

GEORGIA's 1st DISTRICT

Drew Ferguson

GEORGIA's 3rd DISTRICT

Karen Handel

GEORGIA's 6th DISTRICT

Austin Scott

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