Rob Woodall

Rob Woodall

GEORGIA's 7th DISTRICT

Washington Watch - 7/16/18

2018/07/16

SHARING UPDATES FROM WASHINGTON WITH SENATOR PERDUE

It was another productive and active week on Capitol Hill, but I’d have to say one of the high points was the opportunity to join Senator David Perdue for a fantastic constituent conference call with folks across the Seventh District and the great State of Georgia! It’s such an honor to serve the people of the Seventh District and to serve alongside a remarkably dedicated and talented Georgia delegation. Senator Perdue is one of those individuals, and it was my pleasure to be able to join him as we shared updates on the activity in Washington last week. The questions we received were reflective of the engagement we’ve come to expect from you all, and I’m grateful to everyone who took the time from their schedules to participate.  

While the Senator and I serve in different Chambers of Congress, in recent months we’ve been able to serve together on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. Of the 16 members on this bipartisan, bicameral committee, Senator Perdue is one of just four Senate Republicans, and I am one of four House Republicans to be chosen to serve in this way.  As I’m sure the Senator would tell you, it’s a great honor, but more than that, it speaks to the way in which Georgia’s collective voice is viewed in the United States Congress.  It’s clear to me that Georgia’s voice is being heard loud and clear. Thank you all for everything you do to make that the case, and please continue to share your insight with us. 

 

TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE DISCUSSES THE POLICY IMPLICATIONS OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT 

On Wednesday, I joined my House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee colleagues to further discuss the policy implications of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones. While drones have existed for many years, there has been a precipitous rise in their use in the last several years. In fact, it’s projected that the number of small drones in the national airspace will double by 2022 and commercial drones may even quintuple in number! This is a multibillion dollar industry that will continue to play a valuable role in our tech economy and national security apparatus in the years ahead, but there are certainly safety, privacy, and access issues that must be confronted.  Congress has acted to prevent unlawful and potentially harmful drone use in recent aviation and defense bills, and we will continue to take incremental steps to protect both the innovative potential of the industry and the safety of the traveling public.

 
Rep. Rob Woodall joins fellow members and aviation industry stakeholders to discuss UAS regulations and safety protocols.  

 

WORKING TOGETHER TO BOLSTER KOREAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with a number of constituents who were in town for the 2018 Korean American Grassroots Conference. As many of you know, Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are home to over 25,000 Korean-Americans, nearly half of the Korean-American population of Georgia, and it has been my distinct honor to represent one of the largest and most vibrant Korean-American districts in the country. 

We had the pleasure of discussing a variety of issues facing Korean-Americans including the U.S.–Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), H.R. 2106, the “Partner with Korea Act,” as well as continued efforts to reunify families that have remained divided as a result of the limited communications and travel between North and South Korea. In fact, the KORUS FTA, which allows U.S. goods and services to be traded freely with South Korea, totaled an estimated $144.6 billion in 2016, and I only expect that number to increase as the Administration continues talks with South Korea to strengthen the agreement for both parties. It is my hope those conversations will also focus on bringing the KORUS FTA in line with our other free trade agreements by putting an end to the prohibition on the exchange of working professionals between our two countries. That said, should trade negotiators not discuss this matter at the negotiation table, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2106 and will continue working with my colleagues to bring the KORUS FTA in line with our other bilateral agreements. Undeniably, our community is made richer by our Korean-American friends and neighbors, and I greatly appreciate them taking the time to stop by my office as well as for inviting me to attend their 2018 Conference!

 

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

The intelligence failures preceding the 9/11 terrorist attacks led to a renewed mandate for effective counterterrorism and law enforcement policies.  In the wake of those devastating attacks, drastic and unprecedented measures were taken to protect our homeland and secure valuable assets overseas.  In subsequent years, however, and with the benefit of hindsight and reflection, the American people determined that in some cases, the federal government simply went too far.  Since I’ve been in Congress, we have taken careful steps to protect and strengthen critical programs that operate within the bounds of the law and save lives, and to pare back the policies that have rightly caused concern among those closely monitoring our constitutional safeguards.  In this spirit, I am proud that the House passed H.R. 6237 last week, which ensures that the individuals in our Intelligence Community—who are entrusted to protect each of us and our families every day—have the resources and authorities necessary to succeed.  In this bill, we bolster our recruitment efforts to make sure we have the smartest people in the nation fighting and winning the cyber war, include new defenses against foreign threats to our elections, increase coordination between federal offices charged with managing our key energy infrastructure, and strengthen oversight and accountability to the people’s representatives in Congress.  You can access more detail about the legislation here, including a summary, committee report, and the bill text itself.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH’S NOMINATION TO BE U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE 

Last Monday, President Trump announced his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the soon-to-be vacant seat on the Supreme Court of the United States that will be left by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, effective July 31st. Judge Kavanaugh currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—often described as the second most powerful court in the U.S.—where he has written over 300 opinions over the last 12 years, many of which were upheld by the Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked in the Bush White House as Staff Secretary, worked with the independent counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton Administration, and clerked with Supreme Court Justice Kennedy—the very Justice he is nominated to succeed. 

Here is what some of you shared with me about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination:

Susan from Buford:

I'm certain Brett Kavanaugh is a good man - just like yourself— and this is not a personal request. This is a request that for the integrity of our nation and the women in our nation (acceptance speech and dog & pony on the stage last night aside) - do NOT approve this choice. Allow this gentleman to continue his service in his past capacity - but do not approve this nomination. I fervently believe this country should continue to move forward and not backslide into the past and undo civility, equality and women's rights and the rights of all Americans.

Ilona from Suwanee:

What are you doing to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court? 

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I will begin by saying Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a highly respected and credentialed jurist whose record reflects a deep and unwavering commitment to the Constitution and the interpretive role of the judiciary. That said, as your Representative in the House of Representatives, I unfortunately have very little official input on the Supreme Court nomination or confirmation process.  The Constitution places that responsibility exclusively with the Senate, and I would encourage you to share your thoughts with our Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue during the confirmation process. 

Appointing a Justice to the Supreme Court is, as President Trump said in his announcement, “one of the most profound responsibilities of the President of the United States.” While I have heard concerns similar to Susan's over the past week, it is eminently important that a President fulfills his constitutional duty to “nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint… Judges of the supreme Court” whenever a vacancy arises in order for our democracy to function properly. We saw in the Court’s 2016 term the consequences of a Supreme Court with only eight Justices when a number of cases had to be settled in a tie, resulting in those cases deferring to the lower court opinion. With such important debates on technology company monopolies, the treatment of class action lawsuit settlements, and our 5th Amendment protections from “double jeopardy” coming to the Supreme Court’s fall term, we need a full Supreme Court to hand down decisions with certainty.

As was the case with Judge Neil Gorsuch, I believe President Trump has again made a sound nomination to the Supreme Court, and it is my hope that my colleagues in the Senate will move quickly to confirm his nomination. I am convinced that Justice Kavanaugh will only rule in the best interests of our republic and allow the important questions of our country to be settled via self-governance by the people and her representatives in Congress rather than through judicial activism. Again, I certainly understand and appreciate the concerns that Susan has, but I believe Mr. Kavanaugh will judge cases by interpreting the Constitution—leaving the job of debating and creating progress to you and I. I look forward to seeing the Supreme Court at full capacity for its upcoming 2018-2019 term and for it to serve our nation as intended.

 

GRATITUDE FOR OUR VETERANS TAKES MANY FORMS

I’ve shared some of the great work being done by Quilts of Valor before, but I just had to share another heartwarming story of their most recent presentation. For those of you who are not familiar with this group, its members make hand-crafted quilts and present them to veterans as an expression of gratitude for their service. I was struck by this organization’s work when I first heard of it because it is, of course, inspiring to see such heartfelt appreciation for those who sacrifice on our behalf. It is also remarkable to see how that gratitude can take so many different forms depending on the talents and abilities of those in our community. Many of us would never have thought to make a quilt – or much less have the skill to do it if we tried – but for these folks, it was something that they were passionate about. The thought, effort, and love that go into crafting a Quilt of Valor make it particularly special to the recipients, and I’m so grateful for the service of both the veterans and those caring for them.

 

GWINNETT COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT GRADUATES 42 NEW OFFICERS

Our law enforcement officers do so much for, and mean so much to, our community. It’s difficult to describe how important they are because the dangers and sacrifice that come with their daily work goes beyond what most of us can comprehend. It’s a special kind of person that is called to this service, but it is most certainly a calling. When you speak with these men and women, it’s clear to see how seriously they take the solemn responsibility with which they’ve been charged. Last week, 42 additional members of our community assumed this role. When asked to choose one and only one word to describe why they want to be a police officer, among the most common answers were: service, protector, accountability, and guardian. I think we’d all agree each of these words captures the spirit we hope to find behind the badge serving us in this way. Congratulations to each graduate, thank you for your commitment to our community, and please know that your fellow citizens are extending their best wishes for your success and safety!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is taking another giant step forward in providing essential funding for our government in FY19. We will consider H.R. 6147, the “Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act of 2019.” This is an exciting week for me because once this bill is approved by the House, we will have passed 6 of the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY19. September 30th marks the end of the current fiscal year, so being halfway done with our appropriations work with over two months left in the fiscal year is fantastic news. That means we’ll have time to negotiate with the Senate on compromise legislation, and hopefully, we’ll be able to fund the government in FY19 without the need for another long-term Continuing Resolution. This success goes to show how much we can get done when we commit ourselves to working together for the American people. 

While the full schedule for this week hasn’t yet been completed, you can CLICK HERE to see real-time updates of what the House will be voting on all week.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 7/9/18

2018/07/09

ANOTHER SPECTACULAR JOBS REPORT SHOWS CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION AND TRUMP REGULATORY REFORM IS WORKING

Just about every month I have highlighted great news from the monthly jobs reports issued by the U.S. Labor Department because there has been so much good news.  Layoffs have been at their lowest level in 50 years, and the unemployment rate has been moving lower and lower.  There is great news in the just-released June jobs report that may surprise you: even though more jobs were produced in June than expected, there is a rise in unemployment from 3.8% to 4.0%, and that rise in unemployment has an exciting cause.  The reason behind the increase is that with a record number of job openings available, fewer regulatory burdens in the way keeping businesses from growing, and myriad other positive economic factors that are attributable to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, over 600,000 folks who had stopped seeking employment in previous years have come off the sidelines to re-enter the workforce.  That is the largest re-entry in years, and that is great news!

Just in case you don’t follow these numbers closely, let me explain.  The “unemployment rate” only measures those people who are looking for a job and can’t find one.  When it is too hard to find a job, some Americans stop looking for one, and when they stop looking, the statistics no longer count them as “unemployed.”  To find the number of people who have given up on trying to find a job, you watch the “labor force participation rate.”   The labor force participation rate measures how many people are actually trying to work or find work.  The labor force participation rate has been hovering at a multi-decade low since the great recession, so it is very exciting that many of those Americans now have the confidence to seek out better opportunities for themselves and their families.  This absolutely shows that our economy is growing! 

The Labor Department reported 213,000 new jobs were created last month, more than the 195,000 economists had predicted for the June report. And that number touches almost every industry, including education, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. This is a trend that my fellow House Republicans and I will continue to support. America is and will continue to be a global economic powerhouse, and I am proud to support further measures that will ensure that advantage.

 

ADMINISTRATION MOVES FORWARD WITH NATIONAL SECURITY TARIFF INVESTIGATION INTO AUTOMOBILES AND AUTO PARTS

As many of you may have heard, the Trump Administration has moved forward with carrying out its investigation into the import of automobiles and auto parts under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Section 232 may sound familiar to you because it’s being used by the Trump Administration already to target steel and aluminum imports, and because I have discussed the issue before in the newsletter when it affected hometown businesses and workers.

We all oppose any foreign country that is illegally subsidizing exports just to harm our national security, and we must act to ensure that products coming into our markets do not jeopardize our nation’s security and undermine our military’s readiness, but those instances are few and far between. At this time, I don’t believe the application to automobiles and automobile parts that the Administration is seeking is warranted.  While it is certainly true that this industry has changed over the past decades, American production lines are strong.  In fact, in Brunswick, Georgia, we have a port that is used almost exclusively for automobiles, and we export automobiles around the globe. 

For that reason, I have signed my name to not one, but two, letters addressed to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressing concerns about this investigation and highlighting the negative impacts that any potential trade remedies could have on our great state of Georgia and the nation’s overall economy. As I’ve said before, tariffs are nothing more than a tax on the consumer, and they unfortunately drive companies to make tough decisions when their materials and goods are not on the protective side of such remedies. That is why I have taken every opportunity presented to me to urge the Administration both to only apply tariffs when warranted and to do so in the narrowest and most targeted manner possible.  Undeniably, a lot is at stake in Georgia, as our great state is home to more than 300 auto-related facilities which provide hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs to highly skilled Georgians. Should the 232 investigation determine that remedies are necessary, such remedies would have implications for our state.  You can read about my concerns by clicking here to read the letter a number of my Georgia colleagues and I sent to Secretary Ross. 

The second letter I sent urges Secretary Ross to follow and keep in mind a number of factors as the investigation is carried out, especially since the investigation is funded with taxpayer dollars. The letter acknowledges the need for a level playing field for our domestic manufacturers, but continues to reiterate how such trade barriers could potentially undermine our nation’s economic security by harming American jobs, companies, and families. While there are still more members who are adding their names to this letter as we speak, when the letter is complete, you can be sure that I will add it to the “Letters Rob Has Signed” section on my website as soon as possible so you can read it too. It is my expectation that the Administration will not only assess the remedies that it sees are necessary, but it will also seriously weigh the negative consequences that any such remedies could have on American jobs and markets. 

 

SOUTH GWINNETT SENIOR TRAVELS TO NAMIBIA TO ATTEND 2018 WOMEN IN SCIENCE GIRLS STEAM CAMP!

We all know that summer is a great time for vacations, family visits, and more, but for some folks like rising South Gwinnett High School senior Cori Alexandria Nelson, they have other exciting plans. Cori is one of only 100 young women from the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, and eSwatini (previously known as Swaziland) to participate in the 2018 Women in Science Girls STEAM Camp in Namibia, which offers participants opportunities to explore multiple STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts & Design Mathematics) fields, as well as receive unique mentorship and leadership training. To say that’s impressive is quite the understatement, but yet again, we have even more evidence of just how driven and accomplished our young people are here at home. Having talent and interest in these courses of study is one thing, but traveling halfway around the world during your summer vacation to do it is quite another! Congratulations to Cori, and if you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the full story here. If you know of any young women who may be interested in future opportunities with this organization, they accept ages 15 – 18, and you can find their application at http://www.worldlearning.org/

 

FORSYTH RESIDENTS SEND REMINDERS OF HOME TO TROOPS

Some things just don’t ever get old. Coming together as a community to remember and thank our military service members – especially those far from home – for the tremendous sacrifice they make on our behalf is at the top of the list. Across the Seventh District you can find so many organized efforts, some small in number, others very large, which do just that. Maybe it’s with a hand written letter. Maybe it’s with a few simple items that help make a deployment a little more bearable. Maybe it’s with homemade cookies, or maybe it’s with all the above and more. The truth is, what really matters is that we are a community that cares for one another. Service takes so many forms, and there is no better example than the one set by our men and women in uniform. 

In that same spirit you find just as worthy examples in groups such as Treat the Troops - Southern Style in Forsyth County. In the nearly six years since Linda Jones started the group that sends care packages to troops, the number of volunteers joining her has grown and grown such that having space to accommodate the abundance of helping hands is one of the biggest obstacles she faces! That kind of service and gratitude is inspiring, and I couldn’t be prouder of the place we call home. If you’d like to contribute to the cause – whether with time or resources – I encourage you to read the news story below, and you’ll find Ms. Jones’ contact information. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: SEEKING DIPLOMATIC CHANGE WITH RUSSIA 

On the global stage, few countries have captured our attention like Russia has. From its involvement in Syria, invasions of Ukraine and Georgia, being a party to the Iran Deal, interference in our and our allies’ elections, and more, Russia has been in our news headlines nearly non-stop over the past couple years. Here are a couple of the messages I’ve received in the last few weeks:

Charlotte from Norcross:

Do you think that Russia should be invited back into the G8? I believe this is a bad move and that Trump is allying ourselves with repressive regimes.

Angela from Alpharetta:

Dear Rob, I have been living in the USA since 2007. I've been a USA citizen for 2 years now but was born and raised in the Soviet Union in the early 80's. Back home after I completed my Masters in International Law I've been involved in multiple International Projects between Europe and the Former Soviet Union countries. I strongly support the Political International Relations between USA and Russia. Russians and Americans work together on a daily basis on a wide range of areas including combating the threats of terrorism, nuclear arms proliferation, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases as well as other global challenges such as poverty, population, and global warming. Nevertheless, these two world powers do not agree often enough, and after 200 years US-Russian relations continue to evolve (and at times devolve) in both expected and unexpected ways. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss how we might improve international relations between those two historical countries. I look forward to hearing from you soon. 

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We can all certainly agree with Angela and with her desire for better international relations, especially in regards to a country with which we have had such a long, adversarial history. There are a lot of areas where we have and continue to work well together. Because of our cooperation on matters like fighting terrorism, supporting world health initiatives, and perhaps most importantly, treaties regarding the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the world is a safer place. That said, as Charlotte mentions, we cannot reward or allow countries to continue to repress free speech, kill political opponents at home and abroad, interfere in the matters of other countries, or prop-up authoritarian regimes. To answer Charlotte’s question, I do not believe we should reward Russia as it continues its transgressions. For those offenses and others, we and our allies have implemented numerous rounds of sanctions on Russian citizens and have expelled Russian diplomats from our countries. 

Yet, despite recent spats and tensions, there are efforts to fix our strained relationship and take meaningful steps to stop further violence. Most recently, a delegation of seven U.S. senators and one congresswoman visited Moscow over the Fourth of July holiday to meet with Russian officials and deliver our American message personally:  stay out of U.S. elections, respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, work with us toward peace in Syria, and uphold obligations under nuclear arms treaties. While American and Russian delegations did not agree on a number of topics, both sides agreed that none of our problems can be solved without talking, and beginning those conversations will also put us on a path towards reconciling our differences. 

On top of this past week’s Congressional delegation to Russia, the next few weeks have a lot in store for our two countries. First, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), our most important military alliance, which actually began as a deterrent against the Soviet Union, will be meeting this week in Brussels. One of its most important agenda items is NATO’s relations with Russia. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a country which stated last year that it wants to be a member of NATO, and the recent poisoning of political opponents in the United Kingdom, this meeting will be a critical point for the NATO alliance on how to reverse Russia’s antagonistic actions and encourage it to work together towards a safer world order. After the NATO Summit, President Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16th to discuss relations between the United States and Russia as well as a range of national security issues. I sincerely hope that the President will use this meeting to begin a constructive dialogue that holds Russia accountable for its destructive activity and brings real change to our relations. 

Considering our shared dangerous history of the Cold War, and the number of serious global issues we all face, it is important that we improve our relationship. However, as Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) said of his trip to Moscow over the Fourth of July, “The Russians can earn a better relationship with the U.S. if they want to,” but they do in fact have to earn it.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is going to move forward with more critical pieces of legislation: H.R. 6237, the “Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for FY18 and FY19,” and H.R. 50, the “Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act.” 

Every American knows how important it is for our nation to have a strong Intelligence Community (IC) that can protect us from foreign-based threats. Of course, there’s a large part of this bill that I can’t discuss here because it’s classified, but please know that the parts of the bill we will discuss on the House floor will help the IC better report on foreign threats to our elections, will bolster our nation’s cyber security efforts, and will improve IC accountability to Congress, among other provisions. These are important reforms, and I look forward to supporting them this week. 

For a complete list of the bills that the House will be debating this week, please be sure to CLICK HERE

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 7/2/18

2018/07/02

U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY CELEBRATES GEORGIA'S INFRASTRUCTURE SUCCESS 

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao accepted my invitation to join us in Forsyth County and take a firsthand look at the great work we’re doing in our community.  The main purpose for her visit was to celebrate the fact that Georgia was recently selected to receive a $184 million infrastructure grant from a program established by the FAST Act.  The FAST Act is the transformative surface transportation bill that we passed out of the House, and the grant was a competitive grant.  Georgia—with its track record of team work and success at the state and local level—beat out proposals from across the nation and secured the single largest funding award of 2018, a grant that will help to expedite construction of the new Express Lanes on SR-400.  This project, led by the Georgia Department of Transportation, will add two brand new, completely optional express lanes from I-285 to McFarland Parkway and will ultimately make your ride down 400 smoother, quicker, and less congested.                            

CLICK HERE to watch video of the event courtesy of the Forsyth Herald.

I’m proud of our local leadership in the Seventh District, and I’m heartened that our federal partners at the Department of Transportation recognize that leadership as well.  As your congressman, I will continue to advocate for world-class infrastructure in our area to be built quicker and better than ever before.  Throughout the summer and fall, my colleagues and I on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will be working on legislation to do just that.

 

HOUSE PASSES BILL TO FUND U.S. ARMED FORCES

Last week, the House passed with overwhelming bipartisan support H.R. 6157, the “Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations Act,” by a vote of 359-49. This bill ensures that the men and women in our Armed Forces have the resources they need to meet current threats, properly prepare for future needs, and ensure the highest possible quality of life for military families. The funding proposed in this bill – a total of $674.6 billion – is consistent with the levels authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act, which also received strong bipartisan support. Additionally, this bill provides the largest pay raise for our troops in nine years – a raise of 2.6%. That’s real money that will assist these hardworking families and individuals who have made the noble decision to dedicate their lives to defending our country and our freedom. Finally, the bill also provides vital funding to continue our efforts to make long over-due upgrades to military infrastructure and equipment to ensure that our troops are capable to meet any and all threats. 

The passage of this appropriations bill brings us one step closer to passing all 12 appropriations bill on time so that we can begin to fully fund the priorities of the American people for Fiscal Year 2019. The good news is that the Senate is expected to consider its FY19 Defense Appropriation bill in the coming weeks, and it is my hope that we can quickly reconcile the two bills so that we can expeditiously move the final language to President Trump’s desk for his signature. 

 

U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANOTHONY KENNEDY ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

After thirty years of service on the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced last week that he will retire at the end of July. While I may not have agreed with all of Justice Kennedy’s decisions in the past, as the longest serving member on this Court, he has always been thorough and thoughtful in his process. He has served our country honorably, has had an incredible impact on our nation’s jurisprudence, and I wish him the very best in his retirement. 

As you well know, this announcement also means that President Trump must nominate Justice Kennedy’s replacement. While I do not vote in the Senate to confirm or reject any nominee, I am encouraged by the list of potential justices issued by the President and the potential for any of these nominees to shape the court. President Trump has suggested that he will make a nomination by July 9, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has expressed his intent to confirm a new justice in the fall.  As you may remember, it took about two and a half months from the announcement of Justice Neil Gorsuch as a nominee to his confirmation.  Such a time line would ensure that America has a fully constituted court before the end of September.

 

GEORGIA/FLORIDA WATER DISPUTE CONTINUES WITH SUPREME COURT DECISION 

Late last week, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the longstanding interstate water dispute between Georgia and Florida.  The Court ruled in a narrow 5-4 decision to remand the ongoing water dispute back to the Special Master for further review.  In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas noted that, “[g]iving Florida another bite at the apple will likely yield no additional evidence, but it will be unfair to Georgia, which has already spent the time and resources to defeat the case that Florida chose to present.”  I agree with Justice Thomas, but I have no doubt Georgia’s track record has reflected - and will continue to reflect - our commitment to conservation which will ultimately lead to a favorable resolution.  In Congress, we have been extraordinarily successful in defeating attempts by neighboring states to tip the scales through legislation over the last several years, and despite the Court’s recent ruling, the reality of the merit of our case remains intact.  I look forward to continuing the work with Georgia’s leaders to see it through. 

 

HOUSE REPUBLICANS ATTEMPT TO FIND COMMON-GROUND ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

The hard truth is that if solving immigration reform was easy, we would have solved this issue long ago, but it’s not, and we haven’t.  In the last two weeks, the House has taken up two major immigration bills.  Each would have addressed border security.  Each would have addressed children brought to America illegally by their parents.  Each would have made changes and improvements to our legal visa system.  And while I voted yes on both bills, neither was able to get a majority vote.

Two weeks ago, the House took up the first immigration bill (and I discussed it in the Constituent Spotlight section of my June 25th newsletter), and this past week, the House took up a second immigration bill, H.R. 6136, the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act.” This bill would have fully funded America’s border security and enforcement needs, and at the same time, it would have provided legal status to folks eligible for DACA and would have prevented families from being separated at the border.  We know that those border and internal security efforts are essential, not only for terrorism and national security concerns, but also to prevent another generation of children from becoming trapped in the same legal limbo as current DACA recipients are today. We owe it to all Americans to accomplish that goal. It is the only responsible way to move forward. I had been excited at the potential of accomplishing so much in one bill and using that momentum to accomplish more on immigration later.  But in the end, when Democrats decided to vote in lock-step with one another against any bill, the effort to move forward on any immigration reform failed. 

It is easy to be discouraged by such an outcome, and I understand how frustrating it is for so many of you to watch Congress fall short of delivering a solution, but I ask you to stay optimistic.  We are having the most serious conversation about immigration reform that Congress has had in decades.  Doing nothing is to perpetuate a status quo that all sides agree is failing America.  I remain hopeful that we will continue hashing out our differences and moving toward a product that will propel us in a positive direction. Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with me about this issue so that I can be your voice as these conversations move forward. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: PROMOTING CIVIL POLITICAL DISCOURSE

Consistently, one of the most common concerns I hear from constituents is their worries about the divisiveness and partisanship present in today’s politics. In the past weeks we have seen these differences spill over from the public sphere into the private lives of politicians and other government workers when hecklers and protestors intruded into their private lives.  No matter if you are liberal or conservative, everyone is fatigued by the vitriolic and polarizing rhetoric which dominates our political discourse as of late, and we can agree that this is not an acceptable way to reconcile our differences or to move forward. Here is some of what you’ve had to say:

Danasia from Duluth:

For the last 8 years or so, the level of discrimination and division in this country has increased rapidly. In the past, it seemed as if people of different religions, ethnicities, race, etc could coexist peacefully; but lately, people are more angry and less understanding and empathetic of others. Most people want to live in a community where everyone is not constantly judged by their beliefs and things that are not even in their control (i.e. race, ethnicity). We know that in order to make a change this major, one must start from the bottom and work their way up. My question is: What can you do to start unifying everyone again? How can we help people in our community view issues from other perspectives, and argue among each other respectively and productively?

Davina from Suwanee:

I would like to see you and your fellow congressional representatives take action against Maxine Waters for inciting hate and violence against members of the Trump administration and our fellow Americans. This has to be against the code of conduct for House members. Please put a stop to it.

____________________________________________________________

I absolutely agree with Danasia and Davina. Hateful rhetoric and harassment are no way to address legitimate problems. I stand with the House in its dedication to protecting the rights and dignity of all Americans of all faiths, beliefs, and cultures. While free thought and free speech are hallmarks of America, violence has no place here, and any calls to harass and assault those with a different point of view are wholly inappropriate.

To Danasia, I work each day to bring people together, primarily by showing them the very best of who we are here in the Seventh District.  As I walk through the Capitol with families vacationing from here at home, my conservative colleagues will stop to thank me for standing strong for my principles, and my Democratic colleagues will stop to thank me for the civil and productive way in which I do it.  I represent a community of problem solvers, not blamers, and I believe that foundation permeates all of my efforts.

To Davina, I absolutely believe that all hateful rhetoric is antithetical to our American character, and it stands in stark contrast to the oath of office that every member of the House has taken – to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution, which sets forth the pillars our great Republic and demands peaceful, civil discourse. In fact, many of my colleagues and I have been so concerned about the current violent and disturbing rhetoric that over 100 members of the House from both sides of the political aisle have joined me in signing the Commitment to Civility Pledge that was authored by my friend Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA). We can disagree on matters of politics, policy, and what it means to serve America, but we can never allow those disagreements to tear us apart, to foment violence, or to turn honest disagreements into hate. Even the Senate’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is someone with which I rarely agree, called advocating harassment of political opponents “not right” and “not American.” And on that point, I couldn’t agree more. 

As we celebrate the declaration of our independence and the founding of our country this week, I cannot think of a better occasion to remind ourselves of what unites us as Americans. Looking back to our Founding Fathers, it’s not hard to see that we have had differences since the very beginning, from the heated debates over what kind of government America would have, to the expansion of our country, to even a Civil War. Yet, with every challenge, we have found a way to come together as Americans for the past 242 years to move beyond those differences and create the greatest country on earth.

As your Congressman, I am committed to promoting the type of positive dialogue that brings about long-term solutions to our nation’s problems, and I will not hesitate to work with fellow members across the aisle on issues on which we can agree in a meaningful way.  Both Republicans and Democrats in all branches of the government must come together to make the hard choices the American people expect of us.  That commitment extends to each of you as well. Please do not hesitate to communicate with me directly to share your thoughts, concerns, and questions—regardless of if we agree or not. My days in the 7th District are full of one-on-one meetings with constituents and community leaders, and I often find that is the most valuable listening, learning, and sharing that I do. I will always work to find common ground to address the very real challenges facing not only our neighbors but our entire nation.

 

FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOL NURSE NAMED TOP IN GEORGIA!

A community really is the sum of its parts, and let me tell you, we have the best! It takes so many different talents, passions, and abilities to produce the quality of life we’ve come to know here in Forsyth County and across Georgia’s Seventh District, and you can look to your neighbors for the answer as to how we got there. Neighbors like Louisa Holcomb of Chattahoochee Elementary, for example, who was just named the top school nurse in the state! Whether it’s our local elected officials, our first-responders, our business community, or our educators and healthcare professions, and so many more, it’s amazing to see the standard of excellence the folks here at home produce time and again. It makes me proud to see this kind of example being set, and it makes our voice in Washington even stronger. Congratulations once again to Ms. Holcomb, and thank you for all you do!

 

LOCAL PARTNERSHIP, LASTING RESULTS

Leading by example is what we do here at home, and I couldn’t be prouder. Across the board, we have folks working tremendously hard to be successful, and equally as hard to leverage that success into helping others. The team over at Delta Community Credit Union is well known for the service they provide to their customers, but what you have not heard as much about is how they’re giving back to the community. Recently, they awarded funds to three local non-profit organizations (two of which are right here in Gwinnett County) whose entire purpose is helping those in need. Rainbow Village, for example, is one of those organizations, and having had the honor of visiting with these remarkable people over the years as their organization has grown and expanded, I couldn’t imagine a more deserving recipient. I’m quite confident that each organization fits the bill, and I’m just so proud to see the way we as a community partner with one another and achieve lasting results. Not everyone in Washington has the privilege of representing a community like ours – where we are far more interested in being a part of a solution than pointing a finger of blame – and that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to carrying a message of local leadership and solutions to Capitol Hill.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD: HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

There’s nothing more exciting to do this week than to celebrate America’s independence. Wednesday, July 4th, is Independence Day, and I hope that, like me, you’ll be spending some quality time with your family and friends enjoying all that our community has to offer. 

It’s too often that we hear only about the negative in the news, but I must admit that I look forward to the Fourth of July because it is a time when we put aside the negative and focus on the positive. 

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1776 that “the United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES,” and with that brief declaration of our independence, signed by our very own Button Gwinnett, the United States transformed herself into the first nation on Earth built entirely upon an ideal – that all men are created equal, that we are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I cherish that ideal still today, as I know all of you do as well. Celebrating America, our independence, and our exceptionalism isn’t to say that we’ve always done the right thing or that we’ll never make mistakes. A government instituted among men can never be without fault, but that same government, bolstered by the American people, can also soar to great heights. 

Remember this Independence Day all the good that Americans have brought to the world. Americans give more money to charity than any other nation in the world. Americans brought a man to the moon. Americans made the world safe for democracy. Americans continually encourage those living in authoritarian states to fight for their independence. Americans welcome those to our shores who want to make us better and stronger. Americans have stood on the battlefields of history to fight for freedom, and I know that our zeal to spread liberty around the globe remains as strong now as it ever was. 

On this Independence Day, I hope you will join me in celebrating how much good Americans have done for the world, and how, together, there is nothing we cannot achieve in the years to come.  
                        

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 6/25/18

2018/06/25

 

HOUSE ADVANCES OPIOID PACKAGE TO THE SENATE

Last week, the House maximized its efforts to combat the opioid crisis by passing H.R. 6, the “Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.” H.R. 6 not only brings together a majority of the bills the House has considered over the past two weeks – some of which you can find summarized here and here – but it also works to put an end to coverage gaps in treatment services, expand the addiction treatment workforce, and provide states and communities with the tools they need to work towards implementing and sustaining long-term solutions to help those battling addiction. While the bill incorporates more than 55 proposals – the largest legislative effort in recent history to address such a crisis – I want to take a moment to highlight some of the notable provisions that I believe will supplement the valuable work being done in our own communities in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties to stem this perverse tide. 

On the Medicaid front, H.R. 6 would direct state Medicaid programs to have safeguards in place for opioid refills to ensure that no patient can exploit the system. What’s more, H.R 6 works to help those Americans covered by Medicare by incorporating, as part of the Welcome to Medicare initial examination, a review of current opioid prescriptions and, as appropriate, a screening for opioid use disorder. From the public health angle, H.R. 6 would direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue guidance detailing ways that the agency can work to bring non-addictive treatments for pain and addiction to both patients and providers.

To that end, I am confident that the measures included in H.R. 6, in conjunction with the continuous efforts being undertaken at the local, state, and county level, will truly work to make a difference for our neighbors and friends grappling with opioid or substance use disorders. We don’t always get to choose the challenges we face, but we can always choose how we go about overcoming them together, and I believe that the House’s success in passing dozens of bipartisan bills that work to better the lives of Americans struggling with addiction is truly a testament to our shared commitment to work hand in hand to help our neighbors and to uplift our communities.

As you know, partisanship in the Senate has slowed that chamber’s progress toward moving many important bills. While I can’t control the process in the Senate, I can control the process in the House.  Knowing how important moving solutions to the President’s desk is, the House is moving two legislative options to the Senate.  H.R. 6 is a single large vehicle of solutions, and if the Senate could send that directly to the President’s desk, we would make the largest difference.  But the House is also sending the individual components of H.R. 6 to the Senate as dozens of small but effective ideas and solutions.  If the Senate could move any one of these targeted solutions to the President’s desk, America could make progress. Too often, we talk about the backlog of bills waiting for action in the Senate, and we simply feel frustrated. By sending H.R. 6 to the Senate as a large bill as well as broken down in to individual components, my colleagues and I in the House are doing everything that we can to help the Senate be successful in whatever way it can. If this new process makes a difference, you can count on seeing it more often in the future.

 

HOUSE PASSES FARM BILL REFORM 

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! That’s certainly the motto of the folks behind the Farm Bill, which passed last week on the House floor. This is not the first time this has happened – the 2014 Farm Bill also took two votes to pass the House floor – but each time it allows us to come together to improve policy. It’s the legislative process at work! The Senate has also begun to move its version of the Farm Bill, having reported it favorably out of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee earlier this month. Once the bill passes on the Senate Floor, both chambers can go to conference to reconcile the differences between the two bills before sending a finalized version to the President’s desk. Both Committees have worked hard to produce bills that provide certainty and security for our farmers, while also ensuring that food assistance programs are on a sustainable path to feed the neediest in our communities now and in the future. I’m excited at the prospect of getting this done before the current Farm Bill expires at the end of this year, and I am encouraged by my colleagues’ ability to produce such a great product for us to consider. 

 

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR MAKES HEALTH CARE MORE AFFORDABLE FOR MILLIONS OF AMERICANS 

Meeting President Trump’s challenge to his Administration to make health care more affordable for Americans, especially those Americans working in small businesses across the country, the Department of Labor (DOL) this past week finalized a rule expanding access to Association Health Plans (AHPs). AHPs allow small businesses, including self-employed individuals, to join together by geography or industry to purchase a group health insurance plan. We know that large employers can demand better prices for health insurance coverage by leveraging their size and the ability to spread risk across a vast pool of employees, and AHPs allow small businesses to do the same. 

What’s great about this new DOL rule is that it, for the first time ever, allows sole proprietors – those people who have hung out their own shingle, those entrepreneurs who make America great, those neighbors in our communities who make our small towns special – to take part in AHPs. Now, these individuals and their families will be able to harness the power of the free market and negotiate in a group instead of paying huge premiums for individual care, being forced to accept one of the two Obamacare choices in our area, or go without health care altogether.  The expansion of AHPs will lower health insurance costs for many Americans, expand choice for even more Americans, and do for small businesses what Obamacare could not.

 

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE PRODUCES FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE 2019 BUDGET

After a two-day markup with hours of debate, the House Budget Committee has produced its FY19 Budget Resolution. Not only is it important that we produce a budget to provide a spending blueprint for the next fiscal year, but it is also important that we produce a budget to provide reconciliation instructions to address our ballooning mandatory spending problem, which accounts for 70% of our total federal spending. In this budget, we instruct eleven House authorizing committees to find a minimum of $302 billion in mandatory savings over ten years. Additionally, the budget includes spending reforms that would achieve $8.1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade.  I was happy to support the Budget Resolution when it passed out of Committee with unanimous Republican support, and I look forward to its consideration on the House floor. If you’d like to watch some of the debate during the hearing, please click on the photo below. 

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP PROMPTLY SIGNS TWO BILLS THAT MAKE CRITICAL INVESTMENTS IN COMMUNITIES

President Trump signed two important pieces of legislation into law last week that will make critical investments in local businesses and communities across the country. The first bill, H.R. 2333, the Small Business Investment Opportunity Act, increases the maximum amount certain small businesses can borrow from the Small Business Administration from $150 million to $175 million. For too long, small businesses across the country have had a lack of access to much needed capital to grow and expand their business operations. I am pleased Congress moved these bills through the process and that President Trump continues to show his support of our small businesses.  The prompt enactment of H.R. 2333 reaffirms his support. Additionally, the President also took an important step forward in ensuring that our state and local governments and law enforcement agencies have the appropriate resources to fight gang activity and keep our neighborhoods safe. Specifically, H.R. 3249, the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act, which we talked about a few weeks ago in the Washington Watch, authorizes a $50 million grant program that aims to bolster states’ efforts to target and reduce violent gang-related crimes by way of improving existing partnerships between state and federal enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, no community is free of gang violence, and we must take steps to provide our law enforcement with the ability to keep our communities and neighborhoods safe. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: BORDER SECURITY AND FAMILY IMMIGRATION 

I am always heartened when I hear about how our community responds when we hear of others in need. That was on full display this past week when hundreds of you reached out to my office to share your heartfelt concerns about the difficult situation that many families find themselves in along our southern border with Mexico. 

Here is just a small sample of what you had to say:

Kara from Alpharetta

As your constituent, I urge you, to support legislation that would make it clear that children should never be separated from their parents, even in cases where the parents only "crime" is coming to the United States in search of a better life for their family. The current Administration's policy of “zero tolerance” has resulted in over 2,000 children being taken from their families. Ripping families apart is not only immoral but also un-American.  

Jennifer from Lawrenceville 

I am writing you today to urge you to stop this cruelty against families. These are human beings. Innocent children are being traumatized because of the US government. We urge you to pass the Keep Families Together Act. This inhumane treatment of children cannot continue.  

Eric from Duluth

I am here to express my extreme condemnation of the separation of families seeking asylum at ports along our southern border. Like our many American families, these people are often fleeing conditions that are inhospitable and seeking a safe haven in this great country. By separating them haphazardly from their parents, the US is participating in a practice that dehumanizes and traumatizes our fellow man. I implore you to take a stand. I have read that Rep. Isakson has since come out against this heinous policy and commend him for it. It is now up to Perdue and Woodall to step up to the plate and put country above party lines.

I ask you to please support legislation that will put a stop to this inhumane act of separating families.

_____________________________________________________________

I absolutely share the concerns Kara, Jennifer, Eric, and so many of you expressed.  We can all agree that illegal immigration is not the answer, but neither is separating children from their parents.  If we can all agree that there are serious security issues at the border that we must address, then we have a foundation for doing better, even as difficult as finding the right policy can be.  Certainly, separating families wasn’t good policy.  Past practices of turning a blind eye to illegal immigration also wasn’t good policy.  Ronald Reagan and his congresses struggled with these challenges.  Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama did too.  Now, we are working together with the Trump Administration towards a solution.  

You will all be pleased to hear that President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 20th to keep families who are apprehended crossing the border illegally together, and they will be transferred together to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for processing of criminal charges or for the consideration of asylum claims. In addition to keeping families together, the President ordered that the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense provide facilities to house and shelter these families. I applaud the President for responding to this crisis and seeking solutions to keep both our border and our families safe. 

While I was pleased the President acted to immediately address the issue, ultimately, Congress must fix our broken immigration laws – laws which have left families separated from each other and threatened our national security. That is why the House has been working virtually nonstop on immigration language for years.  Last week, for the first time since I was elected to Congress, the House moved sweeping immigration and border security legislation out of committee and to the House floor for a vote.  While last week’s effort did not have enough votes to pass, this week we will be considering H.R.6136, the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018,” which not only reforms immigration and border security generally, but also includes a provision to forever prohibit the separation of families.  I am anxious to join with my colleagues to support this bill. 

Congress is focused on preventing these problems going forward, but it is worth remembering how we got here. You will recall in 2014 during a surge of immigrants from Central and South America, President Obama said “Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back.” His administration sought to detain families together, but was blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Flores v. Lynch, resulting in the Flores consent decree that so many people have heard about in the past few weeks. 

The Flores consent decree states that children cannot be detained for longer than 20 days, even with their families. As a result, after 20 days, children have to be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services at separate facilities from their parents if their parents are detained, or the entire family has to be released. President Obama went around the Flores decision by instituting a “catch and release” policy, meaning little to no consequences were attached for breaking the law by entering the United States illegally. However well intended, the so-called “catch and release” policy allowed almost everyone – from those legitimately seeking asylum to human traffickers and drug smugglers – to enter the country as long as they had children with them. This policy encouraged illegal entry, which has led and will continue to lead to further troubles down the road for those individuals—something recently highlighted by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) issue.

Let me be clear, I support immigration – legal immigration. I support asylum. And for those families seeking asylum, there is a legal process whereby they enter through a proper port of entry and can completely avoid arrest, detainment, or even the fleeting possibility of family separation. President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy is simply the Administration actually enforcing our laws to prevent those who should not be entering our country from doing so. He has said that the policy will remain in place, and families will now be detained together—again, something the Obama Administration sought to do until the Flores consent decree. The bill the House is considering this week will, among many other provisions, codify the family unification process that President Trump supports and that President Obama supported.

The United States allows more legal immigration year-after-year than any other nation in the world.  That is America’s proud legacy, and I know that we all want that proud legacy to continue – legally. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to fix our broken immigration laws to keep Americans safe and keep those families who are seeking asylum together.

 

NORTHSIDE HOSPITAL FORSYTH RECEIVES NATIONAL RECOGNITION

If we’re being honest, a hospital is one of those places most of us hope to avoid as much as possible – but if the need arises, we all want to feel safe and secure with the care provided. Thankfully, our community is fortunate to have tremendously dedicated and competent medical professionals doing amazing things across the Seventh District, and Northside Hospital of Forsyth is no exception. In fact, just recently, they were named by Healthgrades – an online resource for information about physicians and hospitals – as a 2018 Outstanding Patient Experience Award recipient! With nearly 3500 hospitals from across the country considered, only 439 received this award, accounting for the top 15% of America’s hospitals in patient experience. I’d say that kind of success matters, and it doesn’t just happen. Thank you to everyone who works so diligently day-in, day-out to create this kind of environment, and again, congratulations!

 

GEORGIA MAINTAINS TOP CREDIT RATING FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES!

Awards and recognitions are often just symbols of something much bigger and more important, but they still serve the important purpose of drawing our attention to the good work being done across the region and state. Whether it’s how we care for the sick in our hospitals, educate the next generation of young people in our schools, or how our local leaders strive to make Georgia and the Seventh District successful in the long-run, great things are happening every day. Governor Deal recently announced that the State of Georgia – for 21 years running – has maintained a AAA bond rating from Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings, and Standard and Poor’s Rating Services!  As these agencies reviewed states across the country, they considered and cited such things as low debt, fiscal management, and economic growth as significant reasons for including Georgia in the small number of states to reach this accomplishment. Once again, the recognition is well deserved, but what's most important is the leadership that has prioritized those principles such that Georgia is a model of success for other states, and I'm grateful for Governor Deal's leadership. To all our many other state and local leaders who have partnered with him in that effort, thank you for all you do to keep Georgia moving forward!


THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is expected to complete consideration of H.R. 6136, the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act,” commonly referred to as “Goodlatte 2,” as well as begin consideration of H.R. 6157, the “FY19 Department of Defense Appropriations Act.” The DoD Appropriations bill is the most robust funding bill for our nation’s Armed Services that I have seen in my years in Congress. It appropriates $674 billion for FY19, which will support a military pay increase, money for 12 new Navy ships, including 3 guided missile destroyers, over 90 F-35 aircraft, and over 120 Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, and an increase in funding for health care program for our troops, their families, and military retirees. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Rep. Rob Woodall says House, local leaders working on bills to address opioid crisis

2018/06/25

The office of U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., had one message for the public this past week: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are working with local leaders to address the opioid crisis in America.

Woodall’s office is highlighting the work done locally by officials such as Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader and state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, to spotlight the need for additional resources in local communities to fight opioid addiction.

Work between members of the House and local officials have led to a flurry of bills, including more than half a dozen that were scheduled for votes in the chamber over the past week.

“Individuals and families are being irreparably damaged by opioid abuse and addiction,” Woodall said. “Sadly, there is no cure-all or quick fix to this problem facing our community and our country, but long-term solutions can only be achieved together, and that partnership is exactly what these bills are intended to leverage.”

Woodall’s office said more than 70 bills in all have been approved by the House of Representatives in recent weeks and months to address the opioid crisis across the country.

Some bills his office highlighted were the Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act 2018, the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2017, the Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl and Opioids Act of 2017 and the Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms Act, which would require protocols and a grant program to be developed to addresses overdoses in hospital ERs.

“For too long, substance abuse, especially opioid abuse, has hurt families in our community,” Schrader said. “As a result of the opioid crisis, many communities now recognize the lack of resources available to support their citizens. I’m grateful to all our local and federal leaders such as Sen. Unterman, Rep. Woodall and many more for their willingness to address this crisis with collaboration, evidenced-based treatment and resources.”

Political Notebook appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

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Washington Watch - 6/18/18

2018/06/18

SHEP RECEIVES A RECORD $85 MILLION

Two weeks ago the House passed the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which included much-needed support for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).  And last week, the Trump Administration announced that they accepted our request to increase the federal investment in this critical project to the tune of $85 million.  Our Georgia ports act like jet fuel for our state economy, supporting tens of thousands of jobs in the Seventh District alone and ensuring that our hometown products have access to global markets.  And all that economic vibrancy has certainly contributed to another bit of good news: Georgia’s unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been in 17 years!  Clearly, the successes we have had in stopping the onslaught of unnecessary federal red tape, passing historic tax cuts for Georgia families, and allowing the most powerful economy in the world to create opportunity for Americans is making a difference.  We’re just getting started!

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP AND NORTH KOREA’S KIM JONG UN ENGAGE IN HISTORIC MEETING 

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about President Trump’s historic summit with the North Korean regime.  It is a historic step toward lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, and I’m pleased that both parties agreed to bring home our American servicemen who paid the ultimate price in defense of our nation and move toward the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the region.  

Some in the media have already tagged these efforts as a failure because the President didn’t come home with all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons in tow.  Nonsense!  No one expected to see all of our goals achieved with a single, introductory meeting, but opening the door to building trust between all parties involved is a major achievement in and of itself and is critical to laying the foundation for future negotiations.  Of course, as with any agreement, the devil is always in the details, and I will be monitoring future developments closely. In fact, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of South Korean human rights activists and North Korean defectors in my office last week who shared my cautious optimism.  Having been deceived by the North Korean regime before, they are also monitoring developments with a healthy dose of skepticism.  But they recognize, as you and I do, that we must do all we can to avoid what could be the most devastating conflict in human history and work together to transform the world’s most isolated, paranoid, and despotic regime into a peaceful, prosperous nation-state.  If we are able to succeed in this endeavor, we could secure a safer planet for generations to come.

 

GEORGIA EMC YOUTH TOUR COMES TO D.C.

For the past 53 years, some of the best and brightest young leaders from across our state have had the honor of being selected for the Georgia Electric Membership Cooperatives’ (EMC) Washington Youth Tour, and I was thrilled to join this year’s participants during their visit to our nation’s capital. Over 100 students from Georgia were chosen by their local EMCs to take part in a one-week trip to Washington where they joined more than 1,500 students from across the country to learn more about public policy and public service while cultivating their leadership skills−all while touring museums, visiting monuments, and exploring history at the seat of our Republic. 


Rep. Rob Woodall speaks to Georgia's EMC Youth Tour participants at the U.S. Capitol

Ebun Ajayi from Duluth, Anish Bikmal from Cumming, and Briani Netzahuatl and Abbas Rangwala from Lawrenceville were selected to represent our corner of the world here in the Seventh District, and I had the great pleasure of visiting with them to learn more about their goals and passion for government. These amazingly bright young people have the ambition and talent to pave the way for America’s next greatest achievements, and I am eagerly awaiting the great things that they will do for our nation. Empowering young people early on in life to realize that their voice and ideas can make a difference is crucial to finding new solutions to some of the toughest challenges that lie ahead of us as a nation, and I appreciate the efforts of the dedicated team at Georgia EMC in doing their part to embolden our community’s students. It was my honor to speak with these future leaders and know that I and the folks back home are proud of your achievement! 

 

HOUSE PASSES TARGETED BILLS TO COMBAT THE OPIOID CRISIS

As you may know, the opioid epidemic has taken a devastating toll on many Americans, both those individuals who suffer from addiction and those families and friends who must watch their loved ones grapple with the vicious wrath of addiction. In 2016 in Georgia alone, opioid-involved overdoses accounted for 2,435 Emergency Department visits, 1,709 hospitalizations, and 929 deaths according to a study done by the Georgia Department of Public Health. While the Trump Administration has repeatedly expressed its dedication to undertaking initiatives to ensure that states, families, schools, and individuals have access to the necessary tools that work to prevent and treat addiction, there is still much work that can be done legislatively to reduce the number of opioid related deaths that plague our great nation and our communities. The good news is that the House did just that last week and will continue to consider a number of measures this week to address the opioid crisis. Some notable bills that passed the House last week with my support included:

  • H.R. 5041, the “Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act” – a bill that seeks to reduce the number of unused controlled substances that are at risk of diversion or misuse by allowing hospice employees to safely dispose of these medications on site after the death of a patient;
  • H.R. 5176, the “Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act of 2018” – a bill to ensure that hospitals have the resources they need to develop appropriate protocols for discharging patients who have presented with an opioid overdose;
  • H.R. 4275, the “Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act” – a bill to better help pharmacists understand and detect fraudulent prescriptions, as well as the ability to decline to fill controlled substances when they suspect the prescriptions are fraudulent, forged, or appear to be for abuse or diversion; and
  • H.R.5788, the “Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act of 2018” – a measure that give more tools to the United States Postal Service (USPS) and federal agencies to help curb international shipments of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids from entering the states.

In total, the House passed more than 30 bills last week addressing many aspects of opioid addiction, treatment, and recovery, which I think is a testament to this Congress’ willingness and commitment to doing its part to make a difference. In fact, you can click here to learn more about the other bills that passed the House as well as follow the House’s progress on tackling this issue. It is my hope that the Senate acts quickly on these important bills, and I look forward to sending more bills to the Senate in the coming days. 

Of course, I hope you’d agree that we cannot rely on legislative or administrative action alone to move the needle forward in tackling this perverse crisis. I continue to believe that the people closest to those individuals battling addiction are best suited to assist in providing them with the necessary care and support, and we must continue to supplement their efforts rather than supplant them. In fact, I am most proud of the stories I hear of the dedicated folks back home, whether through organization-led initiatives or individualized care, who are lifting up our friends and neighbors struggling with addiction. It is these dedicated individuals who will surely have the most palpable influence on our communities, and I want to ensure that they are equipped with the resources and tools they need to be successful. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: THE COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen thousands of students graduate from our high schools in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, and naturally, they are now looking to the future and to what they will be doing with their lives. Some will go off to start jobs already, some will begin learning a new trade or skill at vocational and trade schools, but a great deal of them will leave home to receive a college education. While a college education is one of the most important investments one can make, and is increasingly necessary for a good paying job in our modern work force, we have seen the costs of that opportunity skyrocket. In fact, the average tuition for attending a four-year university has increased 213 percent for public schools and 129 percent for private schools since I first began my undergraduate education. That doesn’t even touch on all of the other costs associated with attending college or the exponential increase in tuition costs to attend graduate school. 

With Americans holding over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, it is clear that the status quo is not working, but the good news is that the House will likely consider a proposal this summer to reform and reauthorize our higher education programs with H.R. 4508, the “PROSPER Act.” Here is what just a couple of you have said about this issue in recent weeks:

Togi from Buford:

I recently read an article about an Orthodontist who graduated with $600k worth of student loan debt but now owes over $1 Million of debt. Upon further research, I found this is problem throughout the nation. Although, I understand the need for an education, I cannot fathom the idea that people will be stuck paying their debts till end of their lives. It is quite perplexing that a student without any financial means to be given a large sum of money without the guarantee on the return. 

I humbly request that as the representative for the district my family and I live in, that you oppose this faulty system. If possible, it would be awesome if there can be a bill made to reduce the amount of money that a student is permitted to borrow based on their field of choice. There is no reason for any student to borrow more than $200,000.00 for their education. Frankly, it is quite sad that the government permits such a faulty system to still exist. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this message.

Evan from Norcross:

As an education advocate, I strongly urge you to oppose H.R.4508, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. 

As written, the PROSPER Act would be harmful to students, educators, and taxpayers. It eliminates critical federal student aid programs that benefit millions of low-income students each year; eliminates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that benefits many current and future educators and other public service employees; and eliminates or weakens safeguards intended to protect students from unscrupulous, predatory institutions. If signed into law, the PROSPER Act would make college less affordable for students and their families, which defies the purpose and intent of the Higher Education Act. 

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the PROSPER Act. If the bill is brought to the House floor, I hope you will support taxpayers, students, counselors, teachers, and other educators by strongly opposing this legislation. 

Thank you for your consideration.

___________________________________________________

Togi and Evan’s concerns demonstrate the complexity of the state of our student loan debt problem.  Evan would like more opportunities to make debt disappear while Togi wants to make sure the debt never appears in the first place.  I hear both of these concerns from parents and students regularly.  Undoubtedly, a highly educated work force is good for our nation, and we want to give our students the tools to succeed, but for all the billions of dollars the federal government spends to make getting an education affordable, we need to ask if we are helping or hurting our students who now graduate with an average of $37,000 in debt. 

Given the extraordinary amount of student loan debt that is being carried by millions of Americans, the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidized tuition payments and loans that are provided by the federal government every year, and the toll that this is having on our economic growth, common sense would seem to indicate that we should lend more money or forgive more loans more quickly. Unfortunately, simply forgiving student loan debt and increasing loan amounts has done nothing to address the rising costs of attending college.  In fact, some data suggest that these programs have even incentivized some schools to raise tuition, housing, and other costs, as the federal government continues to dole out more and more taxpayer money to subsidize or mask rising costs. What’s more, unlike other types of loans, like car or home loans, there is no collateral on these loans nor any indicators that a borrower will earn enough in the future to pay back that loan completely. Instead of setting our students up for success, in many cases, we are condemning them to a life of loan payments that they can never fulfill —exactly the situation Togi presented. 

This is where the “PROSPER Act” comes in. Among its various provisions, this bill will provide more information to students on the availability of federal financial aid and how much it would cost the student to pursue various options, which allows students to properly weigh the costs and benefits of attending a particular college or university. The bill also addresses campus safety and sexual violence issues and strengthens accountability for student outcomes at colleges and universities through the accreditation process. However, its most significant changes would be to our student loan programs. 

PROSPER will consolidate our many student aid programs into three single programs:  one for loans, one for grants, and one for work study programs. Under the new loan program, rather than the six loans available, students would be able to receive a new unsubsidized Federal ONE Loan for each kind of borrower (undergraduates, graduates, and parents) with annual and aggregate loan limits.  While current repayment and forgiveness programs would remain for current borrowers, new borrowers would choose from two simplified repayment options: a standard 10-year repayment plan and an income-driven repayment plan with a cap on interest charges that would never exceed the total interest that a borrower would pay under the standard 10-year plan. This second option would still require a borrower to repay their debts but it could save them tens of thousands of dollars in additional interest charges.

Most of the concerns that I have heard about the PROSPER Act have come from those who have already begun their public service under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF).  Please know that the bill does not eliminate the PSLF program for those already enrolled in it, and I agree with those who say that it would be unfair to do so.  The authors of the PROSPER Act also agree, and you will see that commitment reflected in the bill. 

Everyone in Congress wants to help young people succeed. For decades, that help has been defined as “as much money as you want to borrow,” and for millions of students who have insurmountable levels of student loan debt as a result, we should admit that the system has failed. Instead of student loans being a helping hand – as they were always intended to be – and one that comes with the added lesson of not borrowing what you can’t pay back, they have morphed over the years into being a drag on our economy and the financial futures of the very people they were meant to help. Clearly, graduating with massive debts has not been the answer. Now we can change that and find other ways to encourage responsible borrowing and position our students for success. For some that may mean going to schools in their home state that are much more affordable than others out of state. For others, it might mean starting at a two-year institution before transferring to a four-year college to save some money. Still for others, it might be a mixture of work and school so that they graduate debt-free.  For others, it means getting the financial counseling at school to understand how not to borrow to the legal maximum. For years, providing such counseling was inexplicably forbidden by federal regulation.  Under the PROSPER Act, colleges and universities will be able to have these important conversations with students.  Student aid advisors have been asking for this authority for years, and now they will have it.

Of course, we are fortunate in Georgia, where students who attend school in the state are eligible for the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships, funded entirely through the Georgia Lottery. Georgia also has a program similar to PSLF that is administered through the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce (GBPW) that offers service-cancelable loan repayment programs for physicians, dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses. The GBPW program utilizes state funds only and will not be impacted by any of the provisions of the PROSPSER Act. We can encourage more states to do as Georgia has done by investing more in their students, and more states are looking at following Georgia’s model every day. You and I are fortunate to be in a state that leads! 

There will be much more debate on this bill as it moves forward, and you can be certain that I will remember concerns, like those of Evan, when it comes up for a vote.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO LAMBERT HIGH SCHOOL!

As a recent article in the Forsyth County News put it, “Success, as ubiquitous as it may be for the Longhorns, certainly isn’t getting boring.” That’s absolutely true at Lambert High School, but also throughout our entire community here in the Seventh District. I know – we talk about it every week – and to be candid, I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I thoroughly enjoy seeing, hearing about, and sharing the wonderful things going on here at home. When folks put in the work and get the results; that’s worth noting. Another Regions Director’s Cup for Lambert athletics, which makes four in a row, is the result this time, but the principle carries over to everything we approach. Our parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, and beyond, do such a fantastic job instilling that mindset from a young age, and it makes me proud to serve a community like ours. Congratulations again to Lambert High School, and best of luck going forward! Something tells me we’ll continue to see the accolades accumulate.

 

SUMMER FUN IN SUWANEE

Summer always brings lightheartedness with it, and I know we all capitalize on it as much as we can. Narrowing done the activities is often the biggest challenge, but sometimes finding a good family-friendly event on short notice is difficult.  If you find yourself in that category and are in or around Suwanee this week – especially if you enjoy music – I hope you’ll check out Suwanee’s Summer Porch Jam and Georgia’s first-ever Make Music Day event. You can find all the details you’ll need at the article below, but it includes the opportunity to hear great local music at multiple venues including Mayor Jimmy Burnette’s front porch! If you have small children, don’t worry, there’s activities for them too, so come on out and join the good folks of Suwanee this week to celebrate music and good company!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is expected to consider an additional slate of bills dedicated to combatting opioid addiction, including H.R. 6, the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act,” H.R. 5797, the “Individuals in Medicaid Deserve Care that is Appropriate and Responsible in its Delivery Act,” and H.R. 6082, the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.” More bills will likely be added to that list, and you can check for updates by CLICKING HERE

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 6/11/18

2018/06/11

GEORGIA EARNS HUGE DEPARTMENT FEDERAL DOT GRANT

If you drive on GA-400 as often as I do, you know that traffic has contributed to a lot of motorist headaches over the years.  That’s why state and local leaders here at home have prioritized projects to improve mobility and reduce congestion by investing Georgia’s state resources and our local county resources.  One of those projects is to add additional new lanes to serve as express lanes over a crucial 17-mile stretch of GA-400.  These express lanes expect to take more vehicles off the existing lanes and reduce delays in this corridor by 19,000 hours a day by the time the new lanes are fully operational.  

This week, I was proud to announce that all of our work and stewardship in Georgia has earned us a special federal grant so that we can do even more.  Rather than allow some critical projects to drag on for years—increasing costs and frustrations—this grant program is designed to find those projects and those communities that can deliver the greatest change for a region and the greatest value for the American tax payer.  This year, the single largest grant in the entire nation came to Georgia—$184 million to the construct these new GA-400 lanes.  This grant is provided through a program Congress established in the FAST Act, a 2015 law I helped co-author and pass through the House as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  You can read all about the grant in the links below, as well as watch my CBS interview that recently aired.

 

HOUSE PASSES WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT WITH NEAR UNANIMOUS SUPPORT

Providing certainty to and investing in our water infrastructure is crucial for economic success and long-term growth in our great state, and last week was a huge win for Georgia’s ports and waterways!  With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House voted to approve the “Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018” which invests in our nation’s ports, channels, locks, and dams. What’s more, it protects Lake Lanier from Washington attacks and ensures the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will provide the funding necessary to keep the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) on schedule and fulfill the federal government’s cost share commitment.  Completing SHEP is the State of Georgia’s top water infrastructure priority—it’s the number one thing we can do at this moment to continue Georgia’s job-creating economic momentum.

CLICK BELOW to learn more about how WRDA works for Georgia.

The positive impact of this bill touches every corner of our state and can surely be felt in our own backyard—Georgia’s ports support more than 25,000 jobs in Gwinnett County and 4,500 jobs in Forsyth County alone.  Georgia has led on this project for years having invested more than $300 million of its own money in SHEP, and this year’s WRDA bill signals that Congress also recognizes the local, regional, and even national significance of Georgia’s ports.  Not only was this bill a great step forward in investing in America’s water infrastructure, but it was also a great bill for the Seventh District of Georgia. I was proud to work with my colleagues who I serve with on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to be your voice in Washington and to advocate for good jobs, clean drinking water, and recreational access to Lake Lanier on behalf of Georgia families.  This week was a great week!

CLICK BELOW to watch me speak about the open process that brought three bipartisan measures: WRDA, the first FY19 appropriations package, and the “Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program” to the floor.

 

COMING TOGETHER TO COMBAT GANG VIOLENCE

In the United States, it’s estimated that the MS-13 gang has as many as 10,000 members operating in 40 states. They pose a direct threat to our communities, and their depravity has no place in our society. President Trump has repeatedly led on this issue, most recently traveling to Long Island in New York discussing ways to address the scourge of gang violence, and even issuing a fact sheet about the gang and its recent activity. Last week, Congress took another step towards combatting gang violence by sending H.R. 3249, the “Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act,” to the President’s desk. The bill will allow greater cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities to combat violence and create safer neighborhoods by targeting gang crime and developing intervention and prevention initiatives for vulnerable populations. I’m pleased to say this bill overwhelmingly passed with bipartisan support. Keeping our communities safe is a nonpartisan issue, and I am glad both chambers and both parties were able to come together to put together this plan.  

 

HOUSE GETS THE BALL ROLLING ON THE FISCAL YEAR 2019 APPROPRIATION PROCESS

Last week, the House took significant steps forward to begin fulfilling our constitutional duty of funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins on October 1, 2018, by passing three of the twelve House Appropriation bills. As you know, Congress must pass Appropriation bills each and every year if we are to keep the doors of the federal government open for business. That means Congress has roughly three and a half months to pass all twelve bills through both chambers and send the final bills to the White House for President Trump’s signature if we are to avoid a government shutdown later this year. For that reason, I was proud to join my colleagues in getting the ball rolling on the Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriation process by considering and passing H.R. 5894 – a bill that works to bolster our nation’s energy and water infrastructure, support military families, and rebuild outdated military infrastructure just to name a few of the notable provisions that I believe most everyone can stand behind. 

More specifically, the bill provides $1.2 billion for the new VA electronic health record system to help ensure our veterans get the proper and timely care they deserve, continues to provide funding for the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy, which identifies and supports projects with the potential to revolutionize American energy know-how, and includes a provision that would repeal the 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule. These are all victories for those of us in Georgia! It is my hope that the Senate quickly takes up and considers H.R. 5894 so that we can begin to fully fund the priorities of the American people for Fiscal Year 2019 on time and ahead of schedule. 

 

SENDING BEST WISHES TO THE SEVENTH DISTRICT’S 2018 U.S. SERVICE ACADEMY APPOINTEES

I recently had the great honor of visiting with this year’s Seventh District U.S. Service Academy appointees and their families for a casual lunch before they make their way to one of the academies in the coming months. Each year I look forward to this opportunity because it marks the culmination of so much work on their part to make it through one of the most rigorous application processes you’ll find. 

These young people didn’t just wake up one day and decide to test the waters of a Service Academy. If they did, the truth is, they wouldn’t have been successful. To receive a Congressional nomination and an appointment from one of these prestigious institutions is extremely difficult and requires years of diligence in many areas of life. It speaks so highly of these individuals that they set their sights on excellence their entire lives and have now decided to apply that standard in service to America. I’m grateful, I’m inspired, I’m humbled, but perhaps more than anything, I’m tremendously optimistic about our future with men and women of this caliber at the helm of our great country. Thank you, and all the best as you move forward on this journey! If you know of anyone that may be interested in pursuing this opportunity in the future, please visit my website or call my local office at 770-232-3032.


Rep. Rob Woodall meets with 7th District Service Academy appointees

 

THE SEVENTH DISTRICT HAD 20 YOUNG MEN SELECTED IN THE 2018 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DRAFT 

The Major League Baseball Draft took place last week, and as it happens, several young men in our community were selected by an organization to join the ranks of some of the world’s most talented rising stars! We saw a young man from Forsyth Central High School chosen 35th overall by the Cleveland Indians in the first round, we saw Pinecrest Academy alumnus and son of longtime Braves ground crew chief Ed Mangan, Micky Mangan, drafted by his hometown Braves, and many more. I can only imagine the excitement that comes with such an opportunity after the countless hours of work committed to their craft, and I join those here at home celebrating that success. It seems at every turn in the Seventh District, our young people continue to impress. Above all, that is a reflection of their own work ethic, character, and talent; but there are also the parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, and more, whose positive influences helped make them who they are and present them the opportunity to chase their dreams. Best of luck to you all, and once again, congratulations!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD 

This week the House of Representatives is placing a special spotlight on the scourge of opioid addiction. We are going to be considering dozens of measures – over 60 bills – from eight different House committees that seek to help folks who are already combatting opioid addiction, stop vulnerable individuals from becoming addicted in the first place, provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to punish those who engage in drug trafficking, assist our customs and border officials in stopping synthetic opioid imports, educate physicians and first responders about the signs of addiction and overdose, and much, much more. Opioids have taken the lives of too many Americans, young and old, and it’s imperative that we have a comprehensive, long-term approach to combatting addiction and giving people the opportunity to live productive and drug-free lives. 

For a full listing of the opioid bills under consideration, please CLICK HERE.


Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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DOT to contribute $184M for Ga. 400 express lanes

2018/06/08

The federal government is pledging significant funding for the addition of new express lanes on Ga. 400.

In a news release, Rep. Rob Woodall, who represents portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, announced this week the U.S. Department of Transportation will announce $184 million in Infrastructure For Rebuilding America grant funds for the Georgia Department of Transportation for the construction of the express lanes.

“Make no mistake, this kind of success doesn’t just happen. It is a result of the amazing partnership and leadership we have back home,” Woodall, who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in the release. “Forsyth County residents, Seventh District constituents and Georgians in general have led by example when it comes to investing our own dollars, time and resources to building and improving our communities and infrastructure.  

“This decision by the DOT to recognize that effort in this way is further proof of the amazing things we’re getting done together, and I’m excited about what’s to come.”

The project will add two express lanes on each side of the road from the North Springs Marta Station in Sandy Springs to McGinnis Ferry Road and one express lane in each direction from McGinnis Ferry to McFarland Parkway. 

Express lanes are optional toll lanes along existing lanes aimed at allowing drivers to bypass congestion. 

The lanes are not planned to reduce the number of normal lanes on the road, including new lanes funded through a $200 million transportation bond approved by voters in 2014. 

At a work session last week, Forsyth County Commissioners heard an update on the project from Tim Matthews with the Georgia Department of Transportation. 

“Obviously, the intent here is to provide mobility and a reliable trip time. That’s the focus for building these express lanes,” Matthews said in the meeting.

Right now, the project is going through traffic analysis, coordination with stakeholders and environmental fieldwork. The next steps are an environmental phase, future traffic volume forecasting and right of way acquisition work.

Construction is slated to begin in 2021 and be completed by 2024.

Locals will have a chance to give input on the project in September, and plans will solidify in 2019. 

Ga. 400 is one of 11 Major Mobility Investment Program projects across the state, which also includes express lanes on I-285, interstate widenings for options of I-85 and I-16, commercial vehicle lanes on I-75 near Macon and interchange reconstruction projects on I-16 and I-285.

Once other projects are completed, the new Ga. 400 lanes will tie in with express lanes on I-285 between I-75 and I-85. 

The 11 projects total $11 billion.

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Rep. Woodall Visits SCM

2018/06/08

Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., recently visited woodworking machinery maker SCM’s facility in Duluth, Ga.

The congressman participated in SCM North America’s “Meet and Greet” event, illustrating to local organizations and businesses in his district the current manufacturing-related priorities on the political agenda.  There to welcome Woodall were Andrea Aureli, SCM Group CEO, and Giuseppe Riva, SCM North America country manager. Among those present were representatives of the local administration and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as Ryan Kurtz, honorary consul for Italy in Atlanta.

The congressman’s visit was an opportunity to discuss the main concerns of companies operating in Georgia, where there are more than 2,500 businesses operating in the woodworking industry, producing furniture, doors and window frames, and woodworking machinery. SCM seeks proper government support for the manufacturing sector and federal funds to boost technical and professional training.

“Our U.S. revenues have more than doubled over the last four years,” says Aureli. “Today, the American market accounts for 20 percent of the group’s exports, and the first half of this year shows a double-digit growth rate, higher than the average in the woodworking district. Hirings are also on the rise. We are opening new offices with commercial personnel and technical assistants and are looking for enterprising and dynamic young people, because despite the numerous job applications we receive we always need more.”

“The scarcity of specialized technicians – to work on the production floor, provide maintenance service and develop software applications – who are familiar with the new Industry 4.0 digital developments, is a very serious problem, also in the United States, and especially in the woodworking industry,” says Riva. “An industry which due to its economic and industrial importance, with 2,500 companies operating in Georgia alone, should be supported by the government, just as the automotive and aerospace industries are for example.”

Woodall pushed for the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, which the United States Congress passed and which calls for allocating considerable federal funds for improving technical and professional education meant for the manufacturing sector.

Woodall, as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is also among the promoters of the Administration’s 200 Billion Infrastructure Plan for repairing and improving the aging U.S. infrastructure. It would be a huge opportunity for the Italian giant and for the entire industry in North America – which has been growing with a fast pace recently.

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House Approves Water Resources Bill, Big Wins for Savannah Harbor, State Economy, and Local Businesses

2018/06/07

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House passed (H.R. 8), the “Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018” – which provides for improvements to America’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water resources. The measure was unanimously approved by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last month, and easily cleared the full House today with a vote of 408 - 2. The legislation includes a critical increase in the authorized cost of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) to ensure the completion of Georgia’s top economic priority remains on schedule. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07) supported the bill’s passage today while ushering it through the Committee process and full House vote. Hear more from Rep. Woodall on the Georgia impact here.

“Georgians have always led by example, and the way we’ve approached protecting and investing in our water resources is no different,” said Rep. Woodall. “Securing the kind of crucial federal partnership we’re seeing on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) – while also preventing federal intervention in interstate water disputes – is a result of our commitment and leadership here at home. Whether Governor Deal, the folks at the Georgia Ports Authority, a cohesive Congressional delegation working together for Georgia, or many others who have worked so diligently to get this done, Georgians stand to reap a great benefit from what we passed in the House today.”

It is true that Georgia has been a leading investor in the project since it began, and it is also true that in recent years, WRDA has often been the mechanism of choice for Florida and Alabama’s efforts to influence the tri-state water negotiations. Congressman Woodall again led the charge to ensure that no such language was included, and succeeded in keeping Washington politics out of  Georgia’s water rights – in particular, Forsyth County’s own Lake Lanier.

With the positive economic impact remaining front and center for many Georgians, supporters of H.R. 8 range from local business owners to Governor Deal. Lisa Winton, President and co-owner of Winton Machine in Suwanee, is one of those business owners.

“As a Georgia based manufacturer, I am excited and grateful that the Georgia Ports Authority projects are progressing to help our state's economic growth and our nation's ability to ship and receive goods faster and with more efficiency,” said Winton. “Reduced shipping costs and improved delivery time of our machines are both mission critical to increasing our export business. Thank you to Rep. Woodall, Georgia’s Congressional delegation, Governor Deal, and all our leaders for working together to make such tremendous progress on the GPA expansion and capacity projects.”

Previously, following WRDA’s approval by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on which Rep. Woodall serves, Governor Deal voiced support for the bill as well.

“I applaud Rep. Woodall and the Georgia delegation for their continued efforts on behalf of the deepening of the Port of Savannah,” Governor Deal added. “This bill is another important step forward to ensuring this project receives support and resources from the federal government. Georgia taxpayers have already invested more than $300 million to fund the state’s full local share for SHEP to further establish Georgia’s role as a gateway for global commerce. As Georgia has fulfilled its commitment, we continue to look to the federal government to provide its promised share of funding to ensure that construction on this internationally-recognized project progresses steadily, resources are allocated efficiently and taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately.”

WRDA’s unanimous committee approval was also lauded by Georgia Ports Authority Chief Administrative Officer Jamie McCurry, saying, “We appreciate the continued commitment by Georgia’s Congressional delegation to keep this critical project on track. It is a vital part of maintaining our state’s economic momentum and creating even more employment opportunities for Georgians.”

In Georgia, port-supported jobs total more than an estimated 439,000, with over 25,000 of those being found in Gwinnett County, and over 4,500 in Forsyth – the two counties comprising the Seventh District represented by Woodall. Personal income across the State derived from these positions surpassed $25 billion last year alone (FY2017). As the nation’s fastest growing and fourth-busiest container port, the Port of Savannah handles more than 3 million twenty-foot equivalent container units per year for more than 21,000 U.S. businesses. It is also the largest single-terminal container facility of its kind in North America.

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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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


Rep. Woodall Leads Debate on FY2018 Budget

2017-10-26 15:38:41


Rep. Woodall Visits Washington Journal to Discuss Tax Reform

2017-10-13 21:22:44


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

GEORGIA's 8th DISTRICT

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