WASHINGTON, D.C.— On November 15, Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-07) and Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) introduced the bipartisan H. Res. 706, which designates Nov. 9 as “Gold Star Father’s Day,” nationally.
“I believe it is important to extend the same recognition to Gold Star Fathers as it currently exists for Gold Star Mothers and families,” said Rep. Johnson. “On Gold Star Father’s Day, we will honor fathers who have lost children in service to the United States of America and recognize their unimaginable loss,” The debt we owe our veterans and their families is immeasurable. The sacrifices of those we have lost, and those of their families on the home front, are the foundation of the freedoms we hold dear.”
“For a Gold Star family, every day is their own personal Memorial Day,” said Rep. Woodall. “Gold Star family members are strong and resilient and want to do nothing more than carry on their loved one’s legacy. We will remember them as mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and remember them as the ones we loved, and most importantly we will remember them as heroes. I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation. Gold Star Father’s Day will ensure that those who made the ultimate sacrifice will be remembered for generations well beyond our years.”
This bipartisan effort stems from the work done in 2018 on Georgia’s state level, where State Rep. Rhonda Burnough (D-77 Riverdale) introduced the unanimously passed H.R. 655, which designated November 9 as Gold Star Father’s Day in Georgia. Reps. Johnson and Woodall were joined by seven other members of the Georgia delegation in support of this important legislation.
The resolution is supported by Gold Star Awareness Inc., Freedom Voice Inc. and the Tragedy Assistance Programs for Survivors (TAPS). Other Congressional cosponsors include: Austin Scott, David Scott, Bishop, Loudermilk, Lewis, Allen, McBath, Costa, E.B. Johnson, Wilson, Norton, Lee, Moore, Clarke, D. Davis, Rush, Lewis, Watson Coleman, Fudge, Beatty, Radewagen, Cox, Cisneros.
Last Thursday, the House Budget Committee hosted Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to share his view on the nation’s economic outlook, and if you’ve been following my newsletter section about the monthly jobs reports you won’t be surprised to learn that he believes it’s positive. Most notably, Chairman Powell called our continued economic growth “sustainable,” given the absence of boom industries that could threaten to bust, the high consumer confidence that’s driving 70% of our economy, our record low unemployment, and an increase in wages, especially for low- and middle-income earners. Chairman Powell also added that the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would be very constructive for the economy by reducing trade uncertainty, echoing sentiments that I’ve shared with you all since the deal had been announced.
During my time with Chairman Powell, I had the opportunity to question him about our growing debt and more. Click on the photo below to watch our exchange at the hearing.
Rep. Woodall questions Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during the House Budget Committee hearing
Last week, the House voted to extend the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, of which I am a member, through 2020. This additional time allows for our Committee to continue its work—recommending much-needed improvements to the House’s operations.
With more than 29 recommendations thus far and more to come, the Select Committee has already proved capable of producing bipartisan solutions in a variety of different areas that hamper the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of our chamber. For example, we have advised Congress to streamline the bill-writing process in order to save time and limit mistakes. We have also asked Congress to implement new tools that allow Americans to more easily follow legislation, find out who is lobbying Congress, and check how members voted on the floor. I look forward to continuing this momentum and devising new ways for the House of Representatives to better serve the American people.
Upon returning home after courageously serving our country, veterans and their families are faced with the daunting task of transitioning into civilian life and workplaces. The good news for these men and women is that the Department of Defense offers programs to ensure servicemembers and their families have a smooth transition. For those servicemembers with an entrepreneurial drive and who want to create jobs in their communities, the good news is that some of the resources available to them are offered in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs found that there are more than 379,000 veteran owned employer businesses across the United States. In Georgia, veteran owned businesses make up nearly ten percent of business in the state. Moreover, the SBA has determined that these veteran-owned companies employ more than 4 million workers across the U.S. Given their proven record to create jobs and boost our economy, I was pleased to support several bills last week on the House floor that continue to allow service members the opportunity to access these critical resources to help them fulfill their dreams of owning their own business. You can read more about each out those bills below, and I hope you will join me in encouraging the Senate to take them up and pass them in a timely manner.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, the House began holding public impeachment hearings this past week, and the hearings went much as you would have imagined. The Speaker of the House and Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (Intel Committee) reiterated their belief that their understanding of President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine constituted “bribery” and stated that the Committee’s witnesses had verified all their worst accusations. Republicans on the Intel Committee refuted those conclusions, of course, and made the point that we learned nothing new from the witnesses, that the witnesses had only second-hand information to present, and that there was no “smoking gun” evidence of any “quid pro quo” or “bribery.” And as you’ve also probably imagined, the hearings were less an exercise in fact-finding and more an exercise in partisan sideshows. This sentiment was echoed in my interview with Fox Business’ Stuart Varney. You can watch our interview by clicking on the picture below.
Rep. Woodall joins Stuart Varney from the Longworth House Office Building on the first day of impeachment hearings
As I’ve said before, impeaching a president is a grave matter, and we should go about the process with thoughtful fairness and seriousness. If you watched any part of the hearings, however, you would have seen that there was very little fairness or seriousness. The circus-like atmosphere is one where many members seemed more intent on producing soundbites and internet memes than finding first-hand witnesses to corroborate or exonerate any of the President’s or the Democrats’ claims. That’s a shame. The Intel Committee is where we go to investigate our most important national security issues. It’s normally a place where partisanship is put aside in favor of protecting America. Unfortunately, Chairman Schiff has encouraged the circus first by creating a false narrative and then by shutting down legitimate inquiry. Click on the image below to watch my reaction to the first day of impeachment hearings.
After the first day of impeachment hearings, Rep. Woodall discusses his reaction with Charles Payne
101 years ago, this past Monday, World War I ended, and every November 11th since we have taken the time to celebrate and honor our veterans. It is only natural that last week, the week of Veterans Day, the House took the time to celebrate our veterans the best way it can: by passing legislation that directly affects the lives of our veterans and their families for the better. This is an issue I hear about almost every day, not just around Veterans Day:
Charles from Cumming:
I’m writing on behalf of veteran and military supporters all over the country. Veterans and active-duty service members have sacrificed so much to defend the nation, and we need to join them in that fight here at home. I support our veterans and their calls for expanded access to quality healthcare, a strong national defense and responsible spending in Washington. I hope you’ll join us in ensuring veterans get the care they deserve and keeping America safe from harm!
Rheagan from Lawrenceville:
Being a part of a military family of many generations, I have witnessed the trials first hand that veterans go through upon returning from a tour. Struggles no veteran, I believe, should have to go through. Settling back into civilian life can be an impossible ordeal, shown with the statistic of 37,800 homeless veterans in the U.S. on any given night. Also, the Bureau of Labor states that there were around 490,000 veterans unemployed in 2015. A beneficial change would be creating a rehab program to assist unemployed veterans struggling to find a job. This would mean creating a community for veterans to reside to upon returning, possibly locating it around a VA hospital. Along with the stability of a place to live, it would have mentors to help with the job finding process. Hopefully the above rehab idea, along with your help, can jump start a future towards assisting veterans by not only allowing them to return with a plan, but with more safety and ease then the otherwise would. Thank you in advance for your time.
The issues that Charles and Rheagan wrote to me about are the real and important issues that I want to tackle during my time in Congress. You may not have heard about it—considering what we all see on the news lately—but the House actually did pass nine bills this past week that will help our veterans and their families who have served America so faithfully. Among those bills was H.R. 4477, the “Reducing High Risk to Veterans and Veterans Services.” This bill requires the Secretary of the VA to create a plan to address healthcare programs at the VA that have a high risk of waste, abuse, and mismanagement to make those programs more efficient and ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve. There was also H.R. 4625, the “Protect the GI Bill Act,” to make it easier for veterans and servicemembers to use educational benefits and become employed once they’ve left the military. This could help reduce the number of unemployed veterans that Rheagan cited.
Those are just two bills, both of which passed by a voice vote with no opposition. These are the kind of bipartisan pursuits the House should be focusing its efforts on. Let us celebrate the things that bring us together and do better on behalf of the American people. This is the example I hope the House to follow moving forward.
Back in September, I congratulated Gwinnett County’s 139 “Teachers of the Year” and said that one of these amazing educators would be chosen on November 14th to stand alone as the one and only “Teacher of the Year.” Last week, Rebecca Carlisle, an AP World History teacher at North Gwinnett High School, received this honor. Ms. Carlisle goes above and beyond for her students. Apart from teaching history, she has sponsored multiple clubs, coached cheerleading, and spearheaded various community service initiatives for local families in need.
I hope you will all join me in congratulating Ms. Carlisle on this achievement. Her dedication to public service is admirable, and I wish her nothing but continued success moving forward.
Our local farmers in Georgia and across the country take a great risk and work tremendously hard to maintain our country’s food security. Last week, Jared Floyd and his family were selected as the Farm Family of the Year for Forsyth County, an annual honor dating back to the 1960s. This farm has been in Floyd’s family for seven generations, and for over twenty years, Mr. Floyd has been farming cattle and hay.
I would like to offer my sincerest congratulations to the Floyd family. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed, and I thank you for your contributions to our local community here in the 7th District.
As the House enters its last DC work week before the annual Thanksgiving holiday, we’re unfortunately still tackling an issue that should have been dealt with months ago: FY20 Appropriations. Though the Fiscal Year started on October 1st, the federal government is still functioning under the auspices of a Continuing Resolution (CR). And even though we’ve known for months that the current CR runs out this Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been unable to come to any deal on a long-term appropriations package with her counterparts in the Senate. So, this week, we’ll have to fall back on another short-term CR through December 20th, at which date, I unfortunately expect that we’ll be talking about a third CR for the year. I had hoped that Speaker Pelosi could have worked with the Senate and the White House to forge a long-term deal, as House Republicans did last year, but that hasn’t been the case. I hope that my expectations for December are wrong and that we’ll have a real appropriations package to vote on soon.
In addition to the CR, the House will vote on H.R. 1309. The measure is meant to ensure that workers in the healthcare and social services industries are protected from workplace violence by requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue new regulations in this area. Workers in these industries are particularly vulnerable to violence from folks who are in a behavioral or mental health crisis, and every member wants to ensure that we’re doing the best we can to protect those frontline healthcare workers. While there are some concerns about how this bill might be implemented and whether it makes the most sense to supplant the normal OSHA rulemaking process, I certainly believe that the proponents of the bill have American workers’ best interests at heart, and I am glad that we’re finally moving a bill that has bipartisan support.
Member of Congress
Yesterday we honored the brave men and women who have chosen to serve our country in the Armed Forces. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their willingness to sacrifice and defend our American values and freedoms.
I want to thank Gwinnett County and the City of Cumming for the wonderful work they did again this year paying tribute to our veterans and honoring their service to our country. And thank you to all of our neighbors who came together to say thank you for the liberty and security we have here at home.
For those of you who have been following the progress of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, on which I serve, you might be aware that the Committee’s authorization is set to expire at the end of the year. And yet in the short time this Committee has been working, we have made history by being the first committee of its kind to issue rolling recommendations and have issued over two dozen of them so far, ranging from increasing transparency, to making the House more accessible to constituents, to addressing staffing issues, to promoting civility amongst Members – and there’s more to come before the year’s end! With the momentum that we have built in this process and the good will we have achieved both in and out of the Committee, it is no wonder that many have taken notice and are hoping to see the Modernization Committee extended through the second session of the 116th Congress. Already, the association of Former Members of Congress and a group of public policy organizations have each sent a letter to House leadership encouraging them to extend the Committee’s lifespan to address even more issues that have weakened this institution. I am hopeful that the leaders of both parties will heed their call and encourage the Modernization Committee to restore the power of the Article I branch.
We are so fortunate to have the world’s leading public health agency right here in our own backyard in Atlanta. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts critical work around the clock to defend our nation from public health and safety threats. Under the leadership of CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, the agency has been working tirelessly to modernize its operational capabilities and ensure that it can continuously meet the extraordinary demands that are placed on it each day – all while working seamlessly with local and state public health officials and agencies to prepare for, prevent, and respond to public health crises.
I made another visit to the CDC last week to visit with Dr. Redfield and other top-notch public health officials who investigate and respond to public health outbreaks. When we think of the CDC responding outbreaks, most of us probably think of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella or E. coli, or about communicable diseases like Ebola or HIV. But the CDC’s work goes far beyond that. In fact, it’s most recent focus has been on understanding the sudden onset of lung injuries that have been associated with the use of e-cigarettes.
So far, more than 2,000 cases of lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use have been reported to the CDC from 49 states. Unfortunately, the outbreak has resulted in 39 deaths, three of which occurred in Georgia. The CDC has been responding to this sudden outbreak since August 2019, and on Friday, the CDC announced a breakthrough in its work. Specifically, the agency found that Vitamin E acetate was the common compound found in samples from all affected patients in the study. The CDC explained that this finding is the first-time researchers have detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples. What’s more, nearly all of the patients in the CDC analysis also reported that they had used THC vaping products. As such, while the CDC will continue studying the issue, it recommends that individuals stop using e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC, especially when those products are obtained through informal sources.
To that end, should you or a loved one experience any symptoms that are linked to this outbreak, please seek medical help immediately. I thank the CDC for hosting me, and I look forward to following the agency’s work on all outbreaks closely.
We often talk about policies focused on growing student interest and success in STEM fields, and a corollary to those efforts is the focus on “hands-on” skills training for jobs with growing demand. We all drive by facilities with “welders wanted” and “drivers wanted” signs, but the list of in-demand jobs is of course much longer. Right here in the Seventh District, we have training facilities for welders and for drivers, and we also have training for more specialized jobs, like aviation mechanics.
Many of you may drive by the Duluth campus of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) daily without even realizing it, but it is truly a sight to see. The school trains students for promising careers as aviation maintenance mechanics. AIM operates under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 147 rules, which govern the standards that AIM and other domestic aviation mechanic schools must follow to appropriately train and certify students. Like most all schools in our community, AIM goes above and beyond what the federal government requires by offering students the opportunity to pursue a certification in avionics and welding. As the economy continues to grow, and the demand for highly skilled workers continues to grow with it, keep an eye on AIM’s successes. I look forward to partnering with its experts and professors locally to ensure that federal education standards are keeping pace with the advancing technological demands that aviation mechanic students will face after graduation.
Just in time for Veterans Day, I had the pleasure of meeting with the great folks of the Shadow Warrior Foundation. Named for their mission to help those heroes who have fallen into the shadows, the Shadow Warrior Foundation is a non-profit, volunteer group started by veterans who raise awareness about the problems our veterans face, such as homelessness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and others. The “Shadow Chasers” find and support those veterans who need access to healthcare, housing, food, and more. During their visit, the Shadow Warrior Foundation shared their “survival bags,” which are filled with donated medicine, hygiene items, and clothing which are given to homeless veterans. We have made great strides towards ending veteran homelessness, in no small part because federal Department of Veterans Affairs programs are being supplemented by groups like the Shadow Warrior Foundation, but one homeless veteran is one too many, and we will not stop until that goal is realized. We discussed how the federal government can be a better partner in achieving that goal. If you would like to learn more about the Shadow Warrior Foundation, please visit them HERE. They are just one of many groups you can support or volunteer with to help our veterans.
Rep. Woodall meets with advocates from the Shadow Warriors Foundation
This past week constituted the first full week of a return to “Standard Time,” ending the period between the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November when we observe “Daylight Saving Time (DST).” While I no doubt hear fewer concerns about this switch in the fall than when folks are required to “spring” forward, here is what I have heard from many of you about this change and legislation in Congress meant to address it:
Lisa from Alpharetta:
Please stop the messing with our schedules. It’s an antiquated practice that only aggravates people. As it is Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa do not participate in this practice.
Sydney from Cumming:
Is Congress going to act on the Sunshine Protection Act? I know it has been passed to a committee. And as you certainly know, a committee is the best way to kill something.
Many of us are already familiar with the origins of DST as an energy-saving mechanism first deployed in the United States during World War I, but it wasn’t until 1966, with the Uniform Time Act (UTA), that DST was standardized across the country. However, the law allows individual states to exempt themselves from DST if they choose, and as Lisa mentioned, Arizona and Hawaii are currently the only two states that have opted to do so, along with the U.S. territories.
The Department of Transportation (DOT), tasked with enforcing the UTA, points to the benefits of DST, in that it saves energy by allowing more people to spend time outdoors and use less electricity, and also contributes to preventing traffic accidents and reducing crime. It would hold that Florida also shares many of these viewpoints, as last year their state legislature passed a law to keep the state on DST all year round.
The problem, however, is that the UTA only allows states to exempt themselves from observing it—not expanding it. As such, Florida, joined by Tennessee and Washington, which passed similar laws this year, will not see those laws go into effect without action by Congress. That is why Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) have reintroduced the “Sunshine Protection Act,” which would make DST the standard time across the nation and would still allow states like Arizona and Hawaii to continue to observe Standard Time as they do now.
However, the question of which “time” to make the permanent time proves not so simple. While some states, like Florida, would prefer a permanent DST, other states have contemplated opting out of DST. Additionally, some studies have called into question the economic benefits of supporting the change to year-round DST. In fact, a 2007 report issued by the Department of Energy found that DST only saved the United States .03 percent in electricity costs, .02 percent in total energy consumption, and it had no statistically significant change in traffic volume or gas consumption. Others simply do not prefer one time over the other; they just want to make one time permanent.
In an effort to learn more, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter last year to DOT asking that it further detail the effects of DST on the United States. While DOT has initiated a review and will share those results with Congress once completed, that review is still ongoing.
I know folks like Sydney, who want to see action on this issue, are frustrated with the slow pace of progress. I am hopeful that once released, DOT’s insights will help provide actionable information on DST to see whether it is truly helpful or just a twice-a-year headache. In the meantime, if you would like to see Georgia change how it observes DST, I encourage you to reach out to your state representative and senator in the Georgia General Assembly. As you might imagine, I support state leadership on this issue, and I am inclined to support federal legislation that will give state leaders the freedom that they need to best serve local families.
Time and again, the 7th District takes to volunteering as a way to bring our community together and help improve the lives of those around us. Last week, hundreds of volunteers gathered behind Baggett Elementary School to construct bunk beds for families in need. Using an assembly line approach, the volunteers produced about 100 beds by the end of the day. Bedding and linens were also collected and will be donated along with the newly constructed beds.
I would like to recognize the nonprofit, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, for organizing this special event. To all the volunteers—your hard work is admirable, and it goes a long way to making our community a better place to live.
In the 7th District, we are proud to be continually recognized as having some of the best schools in the country. Recently, in the 2019 College and Career Ready Performance Index of the Georgia Department of Education, Forsyth County high schools ranked the highest among metro Atlanta districts and the other large districts in Georgia. The CCRPI is a yearly report that grades schools on how well they can transition students to the next level, whether that be elementary school to middle school or high school to college. Forsyth County schools’ overall score was 92.7 out of 100—the average of Georgia being 75.9.
In other news, Forsyth County also just posted the highest composite ACT score of all the county and large school districts in Georgia. This score ranks higher than both the state and national average.
I would like to commend all the teachers, administrators, and parents who made these achievements possible. Such great success would not be possible without your hard work.
After spending a fantastic week in Georgia, I had hoped to return to Washington this week to share with my colleagues a road map for how we can work together in D.C. for the betterment of our country, just as folks in Georgia do every day. Unfortunately, the Rules Committee is teeing-up another partisan measure, H.R. 4863, which will go nowhere in the Senate; and what’s most disappointing is that it didn’t have to be this way. The Chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee and the Ranking Republican Member of the Committee had come to a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States. But when the Committee finally acted on H.R. 4863, the bipartisan compromise was sidelined in favor of the partisan bill we’ll have before us this week. With this bill, we’re missing a golden opportunity to reform and reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank so that it better serves American businesses and bolsters our export market. Snatching partisan defeat right out of the jaws of bipartisan victory has become an all too common theme for the 116th Congress.
Unfortunately, the theme of partisan infighting will continue beyond the Rules Committee, as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) will hold its first public hearings on impeachment this Wednesday and Friday. It’s certainly important for Congress to be able to do constructive oversight of the Executive Branch; but considering how poisonous the rhetoric has been so far between and among members of HPSCI, the Oversight and Reform Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the White House, I fear that constructive oversight has become political showmanship. We must rise above the pettiness that we’ve seen so far on both sides of the aisle. We must treat each other in this House with respect and treat this process with the dignity that a solemn Constitutional responsibility deserves.
Member of Congress
Last Thursday, the House voted to pass H.Res. 660, a measure to give the six House committees already conducting partisan investigations into President Trump the official approval of the House to continue those investigations. While all Republicans and some Democrats opposed the measure as an unprecedented partisan distortion of historical impeachment procedures, the Democratic majority in the House was strong enough to push the measure through.
While some in the media have portrayed the vote last week as a vote on whether you support or oppose impeachment, that was not the case. The vote was simply on whether you supported or opposed the partisan investigatory process created by the resolution. I do not support that process. The Constitution never envisioned that an impeachment investigation would be a partisan exercise. Impeachment itself stems from an Article I investigation, but a tainted process in the beginning, as we have here, will lead to a tainted product at the end.
Impeaching a president is a grave matter, and every member of the House should want to ensure that the process is fair. The Constitutional responsibility we have in the House is to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch, and while I have no problem with any committee conducting appropriate oversight, I do have concerns when the majority party in the House perverts the process for partisan goal.
Such a position may seem silly—or even self-serving—against the backdrop of partisanship that the media paints for Congress daily, but irrespective of Congress’s daily challenges, setting the rules for an impeachment investigation has always been bipartisan in modern times. If you remember the Nixon process, if you remember Clinton process, you will remember a bipartisan agreement in each case about how a fair investigation should be conducted. This year, not only did we not have a bipartisan agreement, we didn’t even have bipartisan consultation. I serve on the Rules Committee, which creates the rules for the process. Not only were Republicans not consulted, we didn’t even see the proposed rules for the inquiry until 24 hours before the Democrats planned to jam them through.
My colleagues and I offered numerous amendments to try to bring fairness to the process—an amendment to use the rules from Clinton and Nixon, rejected; an amendment to require more than one public hearing, rejected; an amendment to allow President Trump the rights of participation offered to President Clinton, rejected; an amendment to require that exculpatory evidence that the partisan investigations uncover to be revealed, rejected; and much more. Again, not only were Republicans not consulted, but every single amendment that Republicans offered improve the process was rejected on a party-line vote. The anger and contempt coming from the other side is blinding even ordinarily fair-minded Members. It would have been so simple—and indisputably fair—to have adopted the bipartisan investigation rules already utilized in the Nixon and Clinton sagas. House Democrats said no, and now regrettably for all Americans, H. Res. 660 now represents the most formally partisan impeachment investigation in American history.
Regardless of your political affiliation, we should all ask ourselves if the House is conducting this inquiry in an appropriate way. This isn’t supposed to be the Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi vanity show, nor is it supposed to be an all-out competition for who can attack or defend the President most vociferously. All are wrong and beneath the dignity of the House. All fail the obligation placed on each House Member by Article I.
But H.Res. 660 is now the official rulebook for the House investigation into the Trump Administration. H.Res. 660 doesn’t need to go to the Senate or be signed by the President. It became the official rulebook of the House investigation the moment Democrats jammed it through. So, over my objections, and for the first time rejecting all bipartisan input, the stage is set for beginning the third impeachment investigation of a United States president in my lifetime.
As many of you may have seen on the news or heard on the radio, the CEO of the Boeing Company, Dennis Muilenburg, testified on Capitol Hill last week about the company’s flawed 737 Max 8 that was implicated in two international aviation accidents. Mr. Muilenburg appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Space, and Technology on Tuesday and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday. Mr. Muilenburg was accompanied by Mr. John Hamilton, Boeing’s Chief Engineer. As you can imagine, lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill want answers to better understand the chain of events and decisions that resulted in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Moreover, lawmakers on the respective House and Senate Committees are gathering the facts surrounding the accidents to determine whether any legislative solutions exist to ensure that such accidents do not happen again. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We can always do more and do better to improve passenger safety across all modes of transportation. However, we must also ensure that the safety protocols and safeguards we’ve already put in place are being appropriately followed, as well as make certain that the regulations can keep pace with the automated technologies that are present in today’s aircrafts. All in all, I can assure you that Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft will not return to service until their safety can be proven.
I spoke with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business before our hearing to let her know what to expect. Click on the picture below to watch the interview.
Rep. Woodall speaks with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business about the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing about the Boeing 737 Max 8
While bipartisan legislative achievements can be few and far between in this Congress, last week, H.R. 1771, the “Divided Families Reunification Act,” took an important step towards being signed into law. You may remember that Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and I introduced H.R. 1771 back in March of this year to help Korean-American families reunite with relatives in North Korea. An estimated 100,000 Korean-Americans have been separated from their loved ones in North Korea for decades, many of whom are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, with little or no opportunity to reconnect. This bill would direct the U.S. State Department to work with South Korean officials to reunite Korean American families with their family members in North Korea, in addition to filling the vacancy in the position of “Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea.”
While North and South Korea have held over 20 reunions for their divided families since 2000, Americans of Korean descent have been excluded. In the past, the House has introduced resolutions to raise awareness of this tragic issue, but H.R. 1771 would actually compel the State Department to seek out solutions to address it and bring closure to these families.
You can learn about this issue and hear the story of families in Korea who have been reunited by watching this CNN video featuring folks who have been directly affected by this issue.
The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics released the October jobs report on Friday, showing 128,000 jobs added to the economy. That’s well above economic estimates that anticipated the number to be less than 100,000. The report also included revisions to the August and September jobs reports, adding a total of 95,000 more jobs over those two months. Even while some continue to warn of an impending economic downturn, the data – and even more importantly, the experience of everyday Americans – proves differently.
Tax reform and deregulatory efforts that have been implemented by Congressional Republicans partnered with the President have shown to be fruitful, and I am hopeful my friends across the aisle will begin to recognize that fact. With phase one of a U.S.-China trade deal on its way and USMCA pending in the House, the time is now for us to come together and continue to propel the American economy forward.
I often hear from folks back home who are frustrated with the operations of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Here is what I have heard from some of you on this issue.
Lori from Sugar Hill:
As your constituent, I am writing to ask you to support H.R. 2382, the USPS Fairness Act. The act would repeal the awful mandate on the USPS to prefund retiree health care benefits for 75 years into the future. It is unnecessary and is draining the Postal Service's funds, limiting their ability to innovate and expand services.
Jay from Loganville:
Will there ever come a time when the U.S. government will no longer protect the USPS and allow competition from the private sector?
The USPS is unique in that it is largely self-financed and operates separately from the federal government. That said, the concerns that Lori and Jay have raised demonstrate how it is clear that the USPS can – and must – do better. Americans deserve to have access to an efficient and fiscally responsible mail delivery system, and with the USPS operating at significant financial loss for over a decade, the USPS is unfortunately not living up to that ideal. I think we can all agree that the Postal Service is in need of modernization and reform, and it is important that we look for ways to improve its services so that the USPS can better serve its patrons.
As Lori mentioned, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who I serve alongside on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has proposed one such solution in H.R. 2382. While I applaud his efforts to address those challenges that have been exacerbated by the federal mandate that requires USPS to pre-fund current employees' future retirement health benefits, H.R. 2382 would simply repeal the pre-funding mandate without any fiscally responsible replacement. I agree that the pre-funding mandate could stand to be adjusted, but this bill is a short-sighted solution that won’t address any of the original problems that the pre-funding mandate was created to solve.
The good news is that optimizing the USPS’s services and rightsizing its mission has bipartisan support, including from the Trump Administration. In fact, President Trump issued an Executive Order on the Task Force on the United States Postal System to evaluate the operations and finances of the USPS and to develop recommendations for administrative and legislative reforms that will enable the USPS to create a sustainable business model without shifting additional costs to taxpayers. And late last year, that task force issued its report. I hope that my colleagues in Congress and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will take a serious look at their suggestions and move forward those ideas that will ensure the hardworking men and women at USPS are best positioned to serve the American people.
Last week I went to the House floor to recognize the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ National Principal of the Year—Georgia’s very own Kerensa Wing from Collins Hill High School. Ms. Wing was selected out of 90,000 public school principals from across our nation, yet this prestigious recognition comes as no surprise. Ms. Wing’s distinguished leadership and passion for her students is unmatched. During her tenure as principal, she has helped raise students’ state test scores while both innovating the academic curriculum and encouraging entrepreneurship and creativity.
I want to again offer my sincerest congratulations to Ms. Wing. Dedicated educators like her make incredible contributions to our community and make the 7th District a better place to live.
Rep. Woodall honors Principal Wing on the House floor
Here in the 7th District, we are protected by outstanding first responders. Last week, one of these brave public servants, Division Chief Jason Shivers of the Forsyth Fire Department, was recognized for completing the Executive Fire Officer Program. This program provides advanced training for senior fire officers so they can better handle the difficult and unique problems that arise in our communities. In the over 30 years the program has existed, less than 4,400 firefighters have earned this distinction, and only 78 of them are here in Georgia.
I hope you will all join me in congratulating Mr. Shivers on this notable achievement. His hard work and dedication to professional development is admirable and will go a long way in keeping our community safe during crisis.
Member of Congress
WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan legislation to reunite Korean Americans with family members in North Korea was approved by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs today.
H.R. 1771, which now goes to the full House for approval, would direct the U.S. Department of State to consult with South Korean officials on how to reunite Korean American families with family members in North Korea, as well as to fill the vacancy in the position of “Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea.” While the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a number of resolutions that have raised awareness about this difficult subject, this bill would compel the State Department to take diplomatic steps to address this tragedy.
“There are so many American families who desperately want to reunite with their loved ones in North Korea,” said Congressman Woodall. “Nearly seventy years after the Korean War, too many Korean Americans died not knowing what happened to their parents, their siblings, and their children. This important legislation deserves a vote on the House floor.”
“Although there have been efforts on Capitol Hill over the several years, this is the farthest any legislation on this issue has reached,” said Wonseok Song, Executive Director of the Korean American Grassroots Conference, the largest nationwide network of Korean American voters. “Nearly a 100,000 Korean Americans have family members in North Korea whom they have not been able to reach, let alone meet, in over 70 years. In the dynamic nature of policy toward the Korean Peninsula, often forgotten and lost are humanitarian, family issues like this. We thank Representative Woodall’s bold leadership and continued support on this issue.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes significant portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. He currently serves on the Rules Committee, the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and the Budget Committee.
Last week, the House passed four bills to support small businesses across the nation. In the federal government, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the agency tasked with bringing the voice of small businesses to the table and is also responsible for ensuring they have access to counseling resources, capital, and contracting expertise. You may not know this, but there are more than 20,000 small businesses within the boundaries of Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, and these businesses provide more than 178,000 good paying jobs to our friends and neighbors. It is critical that our small businesses and entrepreneurs have resources to turn to when they want to expand their footprint, reinvest in their employees, build strategic relationships, and create training programs, and the SBA through Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), the SCORE program, and more resource partners offers just that. As such, I was pleased to see my Democrat and Republican colleagues come together in supporting the following bills, and I’d encourage you to join me in urging the Senate to follow suit.
H.R. 2513, the “Corporate Transparency Act,” was considered on the House floor last week. Advocates describe this bill as aimed at exposing shell companies that are used by criminals and terrorists for money laundering—a goal every Member of the House can agree on. However, instead of narrowly focusing on that goal, the bill creates a brand new government database by forcing millions of law abiding small business owners to turn over personally identifiable information, down to the passport numbers and driver’s licenses, for each of its vaguely defined “beneficial owners” to the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). This bill requires corporations or LLCs with fewer than 20 employees or $5 million or less in revenue to comply, includes substantial penalties for owners who miss any of the reporting requirements, but provides virtually no protections for the privacy of the small business owners.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) estimates the bill would cost small businesses $5.7 billion over the next decade and would waste more than 130 million hours of small-business owners’ time on compliance. If a small business does not or cannot comply with this, there are penalties of up to $10,000, three years in prison, or both. What’s more, access to the new FinCEN database would not require a subpoena or warrant, raising serious civil liberty and privacy concerns. While I applaud the effort to root out criminals with shell companies, I do not think this is the best way of achieving that, especially with its significant burden on our small businesses.
Rep. Woodall urges colleagues to pursue a bipartisan solution
We had a chance to improve this bill, address its flaws, and send it to the Senate with a big bipartisan vote because, as I said earlier, literally everyone wants to expose criminal shell companies. But the Democratic leadership rejected every effort at addressing civil liberty concerns, overreach concerns, and cost of compliance concerns. As has been the case so often this year, the House leadership seemed committed to passing a partisan solution that will not be taken up in its current form in the Senate rather than crafting a bipartisan solution that could move quickly to the President’s desk.
Ultimately, the bill passed by a vote of 249 to 173, without my support. Echoing my desires, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has said he would like to find a way to disclose shell companies, but I know he will pursue a path forward that does not unnecessarily burden the millions of small businesses across the country or put Americans’ Constitutional rights in jeopardy.
From the war in Syria to civil upheaval in Venezuela, to political and religious oppression in China, many around the world have been forced to flee their homes to save themselves and their families. Our nation has a long history of generosity towards refugees as we continue to be the largest donor of assistance for humanitarian crises and accept high rates of refugees and asylees from around the world. In fact, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties are home to many of these same folks who have sought freedom from oppression and terror, from Axis countries in World War II, to war-torn countries like Korea and Vietnam, to places where freedoms were stolen like China and former Soviet-bloc countries. Our nation is made stronger by these families’ presence and their partnership. We must have a comprehensive and effective system in place so that we may continue our tradition as a refuge, which is why I joined Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, Ken Buck (R-CO), and my colleagues in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointing out the importance of our refugee program and urging him to maintain our commitment to the oppressed. America is known around the world as a beacon of freedom, democracy, and human rights, and I believe we must have a comprehensive and effective system in place so that we may continue our tradition as a refuge for the oppressed around the world.
If you would like to read my letter to Secretary Pompeo, CLICK HERE.
If you live anywhere close to Lilburn, you know yesterday was the celebration of Diwali at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. If you live close by, you saw the traffic and heard the music. If you live further away, you still saw and heard the spectacular fireworks display. Diwali is one of the foremost Hindu festivals of the year and symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The Seventh District is so fortunate to have a wonderfully vibrant and diverse community. We set a remarkable example of what it means to celebrate those things that make us unique and those that bring us together. Thank you to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir for inviting me to be a part of your celebration, and congratulations on your twelve years as servant leaders in our community!
You will also be proud to know that at the festival our Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department was recognized for its service and dedication to our community. BAPS Charities raises money for worthy causes all around the state and the globe. Last night, in front of a crowd of thousands, young children presented a substantial contribution—and an equally large cardboard check—the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Benevolent Fund. Thank you, BAPS, for recognizing and serving those who serve us all so well!
In these divided times, it seems harder and harder to find issues that unite us instead of separate us. However, there are several bills that have been introduced to Congress regarding the prevention of animal abuse and cruelty. As someone that supports this campaign, I join alongside my fellow Members who believe in the protection and preservation of animal rights. Here is what a few of you back home have said about this issue.
Linda from Norcross
Please support and vote YES on H.R. 724, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act. The PACT Act will strengthen the existing animal crush video law by prohibiting extreme acts of animal cruelty that take place on federal property or involve interstate commerce. I ask that you please join the almost 300 other members of Congress who have cosponsored this bill.
Dana from Cumming:
Please vote “Yes” on the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act (H.R. 724) when it comes up for a vote on the floor this week. Numerous studies indicate that animal cruelty precedes violence against people, but under current law, federal law enforcement has limited options in pursuing some of the most violent and senseless cases of animal cruelty. The PACT Act would give federal officials the authority they need to address extreme animal cruelty on federal properties. This bipartisan bill has been endorsed by the National Sheriffs Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, National Children’s Center, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc., and over 100 law enforcement agencies across the country. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Like Linda and Dana, I am totally opposed to all forms of animal cruelty. As a general rule, I normally support the rights of the states to determine their own animal welfare laws. However, I believe there is a compelling federal interest to ensure that the most egregious acts of animal cruelty and torture—cruelty and torture for the purpose of entertainment and profit—are eliminated. From voting to increase funding of the Endangered Species Act to supporting the “Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act” last week, throughout my years with your voting card, I hope that we have made and will continue to make a difference in this area.
Residents across our community and our state joined the Gwinnett County Police Department and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office this past week to remember and pay tribute to the sacrifice of Gwinnett Officer Antwan Toney one year after he was killed responding to a call. Though the loss still profound, the sting all too fresh, I know we are all proud of the way our community has responded following this tragedy. That support will ensure Officer Toney’s legacy and his dream of serving his great country lives on through all of those who were fortunate enough to know him and work alongside him. May his sacrifice always be remembered.
A hallmark of the Fall is the holiday season, and this Thursday and throughout this weekend, children and families across the country will be taking part in a time-honored tradition of trick-or-treating. As you prepare for Halloween festivities, the National Safety Council, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a number of precautions you can follow to ensure your kids remain safe during the holiday. Encouraging children to be accompanied by an adult, traveling in well-lit areas, being aware of all road and traffic signs, and visiting safe, familiar locations are things I’m sure we are all aware, but I encourage you to take this time to review those tips below with your families as we all look to follow safe practices this Halloween.
This week, the House is going to be very busy wrapping-up a three week stretch in Washington before returning home for the November district work period. We have five bills to consider in the Rules Committee:
While I’d like to say that all five bills this week are bipartisan, enjoy broad support across the country, and would bring Americans together, that’s unfortunately not the case. The first three bills come from the Natural Resources Committee, and while their titles sound appealing, I’m concerned that the “protection” they seek will harm local economies and take opportunities away from local Native American tribes. The last two bills -- H.R. 4695 and H.Res. 296 – are both controversial bills that will certainly have a significant effect on the United States’ relationship with Turkey. Our diplomatic and military relationship with Turkey is complicated, as it has been for many years, which is why I had hoped that the House would move slowly and deliberately when considering bills that impact that relationship; but as with so many bills this year, the House is moving with great speed, but not necessarily with great care. I hope that we can change that dynamic soon.
Member of Congress
LILBURN, GA – Today, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall attended the Lilburn Diwali Festival. Diwali is one of the foremost Hindu festivals of the year and symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
“The Seventh District is so fortunate to have a wonderfully vibrant and diverse community. We set a remarkable example of what it means to celebrate those things that make us unique and those that bring us together,” said Congressman Woodall. “Diwali – also known as the Festival of Lights – is a celebration of light triumphing over darkness, and there is no better way to bring light to any situation than by serving a neighbor. We are blessed to live in such a wonderful community that embraces that shared principle, independent of any differences that exist between us. I love that about who we are, and I’m grateful to everyone for making it a reality. Thank you to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir for inviting me to be a part of your celebration, and congratulations on your twelve years as servant leaders in our community!
Click here to download the photos from tonight’s event.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes significant portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. He currently serves on the Rules Committee, the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and the Budget Committee.
The Middle East was on the minds of policy makers last week as Turkey began military operations in Northern Syria following the withdrawal of American forces from the region. Despite warnings from the Trump Administration that the U.S. would retaliate if Turkey moved into Syria, Turkish President Recep Erdogan ordered his military to do just that, justifying the invasion as an attempt to fight terrorism and to create a safe zone in Northern Syria for the 3.6 million Syrian refugees that have had to find a safe haven in Turkey. That said, as evidenced by the recent violence, there is little doubt that this military action is a move to attack the Kurdish population near the Syrian-Turkish border.
The Kurds have been a key ally and integral to our military success against ISIS, but Turkey considers the ethnic minority group as terrorists. Since the Turkish military incursion began, the Kurdish-majority Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) have suffered hundreds of casualties among other reported atrocities, including civilian deaths.
Initially, President Trump announced that the U.S. would place sanctions on top Turkish officials, stop negotiations on a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey, and increase steel tariffs to 50%. However, Turkey continued its efforts. In response, the House voted on H. J. Res. 77 to call on Turkey to immediately cease military action. This resolution passed with my support by a wide bipartisan margin. I also cosponsored H.R. 4692, the “Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019,” which was introduced by my friend Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), to impose more severe sanctions on Turkey for its military actions.
Bowing to growing pressure from both Congress and the White House, Turkey has agreed to a five-day ceasefire, set to end early this week, but it is my hope that our combined efforts will stop Turkey from bringing even more violence to a region that has seen non-stop tragedy for the better part of ten years.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing last week to provide lawmakers the opportunity to learn more about Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), companies like Uber, Lyft, and other ride sharing companies, and the important role they play in connecting people. While TNCs face a wide array of challenges, passenger and driver safety remained at the forefront of the conversation. That’s because safety across all modes of transportation is not a Republican or Democratic ideal, it’s a bipartisan one that lawmakers on the Committee have always embraced. While many TNCs have taken steps to improve safety, there is always more that can be done.
One such proposal from last week’s hearing was “Sami’s Law,” H.R. 3262, introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Thomas Suozzi (D-NY). The bill is named after Samantha Josephson, a 21 year-old student at the University of South Carolina who was tragically killed earlier this year after she got into a car she thought was her Uber ride. In an effort to prevent such tragedies, H.R. 3262 would enact a host of safety measures such as requiring TNC drivers to display a consistent and distinctive signage at all times, making it unlawful for non-TNC drivers to display said signage, displaying QR codes on the side of the car to match passengers and drivers, and mandating front and rear passenger plates, just to name a few of the bill’s notable provisions.
Though I am not yet convinced that “Sami’s Law” is the best solution to protect ride sharing passengers and drivers alike, I laud the bill’s sponsors for proffering solutions and igniting this important conversation at the federal level. While Congress continues reviewing such proposals to improve TNC safety for all, including “Sami’s Law,” the good news is that nothing prohibits states from enacting many of the proposals “Sami’s Law” puts forward. For instance, Georgia is one of the nineteen states that does not require vehicles to display front and rear license plates. If Georgia wants to join the thirty-one states that already require this, I would certainly support the state’s decision to do so.
To that end, I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the best practices ride-sharing passengers can employ to better protect themselves and their drivers. While most all ride-sharing platforms have made an in-app “Call 911” feature readily available to both passengers and drivers, the bottom line is that you – whether you are a passenger or a driver – should never hesitate to call the police when you feel unsafe, to report a crime, or to report an attempted crime.
What are some steps that you can take to keep you and your rideshare driver safe?
Again, these are just a few of the most common steps you can take to keep yourself and your driver safe. You can click HERE to learn more about how Lyft is working to put safety first, and HERE to learn about how Uber is doing the same.
This Saturday, October 26, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. I hope you’ll join me as we take another step in combating the opioid crisis. Take Back Day provides a safe and responsible way to dispose of excess prescription drugs. In addition, it gives us an opportunity to educate our friends, family members, and neighbors about the potential for medication abuse. To locate a collection site near you, CLICK HERE or on the image below.
Peter from Lilburn:
I am very concerned that congress is wasting my money doing nothing but hate and divide. I feel it is time for all of you to get back to work. I value what you pass – not what you vote against. Getting a bill passed means all sides have made some compromises. That is a success. I urge you to get back to work for us and shake the one next to you and "urge" him/her to do the same.
Dwayne from Duluth:
I’m deeply concerned about our current political climate. It seems as though both parties are equally unwilling to work together. Where are the real leaders? Who are the men and women from both parties willing to call out their party leaders when they are wrong? In my humble opinion our congressional leaders lack courage. We need men and women within their own parties to begin to hold their own party accountable to do what is RIGHT and NOT just side with the party lines as a blind follower. Where are the leaders with courage?
I would like to thank both Peter and Dwayne for contacting my office and sharing their concerns about Congress and our government. Let me start by saying I share your frustration with partisan politics. Too often, people believe that politicians are sent to Capitol Hill to best their political opponents and force a partisan agenda through Congress. I reject that interpretation entirely. We have been sent to Congress to work across the aisle to create solutions that improve the lives of all Americans.
People sometimes erroneously conclude that progress stops when the government is divided – but that is simply not the case. In fact, sometimes Congress can craft and pass the most meaningful legislation when bipartisanship is required rather than simply desired. While laws are created more easily when a single party controls Congress and the White House, the effect can be swinging the pendulum too far to the left or to the right and ignoring the viewpoints of the opposing party which represents a sizable portion of our country. However, with today’s divided government made up of a Democratic House, a Republican Senate, and Republican White House, the time is right to work on the big issues where legislation can include everyone’s fingerprints. When everyone has a stake in the solution, we can move the country in a positive direction on even the toughest issues.
I made just that point last week during debate on the House floor.
Instead of focusing on polarizing ideas, we should look at proposed legislation in areas like trade, drug pricing, and surprise medical billing that could pass Congress tomorrow and get to work making our country a better place to live. For my part in Congress, I will continue to be an advocate for overcoming party politics and passing bipartisan solutions on behalf of the 7th District.
The bottom line is that no political party has a monopoly on good ideas. We can disagree about policy and the best path forward for our nation. We can even be vocal about those disagreements. But political grandstanding gets us nowhere. What will move us forward is men and women of good character in Congress and the Administration coming together and working hard to help the American people.
The 7th District has a long and revered history of success when it comes to education excellence. Certainly, there are ways that we and schools across Georgia can improve the quality of our students’ education, and direct input from students is undeniably critical to furthering that goal. In that effort, earlier this summer the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) began its search for enthusiastic and bright young minds to be a part of its Student Advisory Council. Out of a pool of roughly 1,000 applicants, 130 middle and high school students from across the state were selected for this great honor, including nine students from Gwinnett and Forsyth County Schools. I have no doubt these students will represent our community well, and I am excited to hear about their work with Superintendent Woods as this academic year continues!
As you may remember from earlier this year, Lambert High School’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team earned top honors when competing at the national level. And as I’m sure we all suspected, their good work isn’t done yet. Their team’s captain, Abby, and biotechnology and science teacher, Janet Standeven, were selected to take part in the White House’s Summit on America’s Bioeconomy earlier this month to discuss challenges the U.S. faces in this field as well as opportunities our nation can better capitalize on to bolster our success. This event brought out key leaders of industry, federal officials, and experts in bioeconomy issues– ranging from health care, information systems, agriculture, manufacturing, and more. Few among us can say they have had the great honor of being selected to share ideas at the highest levels of government, and I want to congratulate these two for all their hard work that led to this great opportunity.
This week the Rules Committee will bring two bills to the House floor: H.R. 2513 and H.R. 4617. H.R. 2513 is a controversial measure coming from the House Financial Services Committee that attempts to help law enforcement better crack-down on illegal money laundering activities, which we all support of course, but it does so in a manner that could infringe upon an American’s Constitutional right to due process. I want to help law enforcement stop criminals from using our financial system to launder money being used in drug and human trafficking, but stopping criminals can be done without giving away our rights.
The other measure, H.R. 4617, is the third “election security” bill that has come before the House this year. We all know that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and we all want foreign influences to stay away from the 2020 election, but this bill is not the answer. Instead of empowering the Federal Election Commission or the FBI or the Justice Department to go after foreign influences, this bill is a political power grab. It empowers the federal government to decide what the definition of “legitimate journalistic activities” is, and presumably, whatever doesn’t fall within the government’s definition would be subject to censorship. Just as I’m not willing to trade away your or my right to due process under the Constitution, I’m equally unwilling to trade away our right to First Amendment protected speech. Politics should never get in the way of the Constitution.
Member of Congress
If the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) were brought to the floor in both chambers of Congress, it would pass overwhelmingly.
If the USMCA were passed, there would be increased economic growth, greater foreign investments in our state and national economies, and thousands of new jobs for Americans.
You might be wondering – so why haven’t we passed this agreement already and what do we have to do to make it happen soon?
Read my latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution column to find out:
This week, Gwinnett County surprisingly became the subject of headlines across the country because of a new invader to Georgia. The northern snakehead, an invasive fish originally from East Asia, was found in a pond on private property in Gwinnett, and it has the unique ability to breathe air and survive on land. While you may not have to worry for your personal safety because of this “invader,” the northern snakehead could seriously harm our local ecology and native species by competing for food and habitat and could quickly establish itself in the area. The snakehead has been found in 14 states, but this is the first one found in Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources urges anglers to do the following if you believe you have caught a northern snakehead:
And remember, in Georgia, it is unlawful to import, transport, sell, transfer, or possess any species of snakehead fish without a valid wild animal license.
The trade war with China and the passage of USMCA are two of the most concerning issues raised in my visits with local businesses. As the global economy creates more and more interconnections, more and more businesses are affected by global trade uncertainty. For months, I have been working with local businesses one-on-one to address new tariffs on their business inputs – tariffs intended to protect American jobs, but which are actually threatening them right here in our neighborhoods. If you know of a business struggling to file a tariff exclusion request with federal regulators, please direct them to my office so that we can partner with them to continue the growth of local jobs and the local economy.
For those focused on this international issue, I’m pleased to report that we are gaining ground on China, and the chances of a deal being struck are improving with every passing day. Additionally, there are still several opportunities to pass legislation this year, like the USMCA, that will create jobs and boost our economy. Since these issues have such an impact on our local community, I will continue to provide an update to you all as negotiations continue.
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit with the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce to update them on progress in D.C. and to address some of their local interests. Our local chambers do so much to develop local businesses and grow opportunities. Their concerns are almost always shared by chambers across the nation, so when I carry those concerns back to Congress, I can almost always find bipartisan partners to help with solutions. Thank you to the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber for hosting me and sharing with me!
Martha from Duluth:
Dear Rep. Woodall Right now, threats to social security and Medicare remain high in Washington. That's why I need you, my elected representative in Congress, to take a strong public stand for protecting the benefits that I and so many others have paid into during our entire working lives. As you know, millions of Americans cherish their earned benefits, and are hoping these programs will be protected and strengthened.
And so, as your constituent concerned about the future of Americans' retirement and health security, I'm counting on you to uphold our hopes by preserving these vital programs. Today, millions of retirees, workers with disabilities and their families are counting on social security and Medicare as never before. So instead of slashing these vital programs, now is the time to build and strengthen social security and Medicare's historic legacy for current and future beneficiaries. I need to hear from you on this critical issue that will impact the livelihood of millions of middle-class American families. Please stand up for social security and Medicare!
David from Cumming:
I am writing to urge you to act in a bipartisan manner and support the passage of H.R. 860, the social security 2100 Act, to make social security financially strong for the next 75 years. Beginning in 2020, social security will pay out more in benefits than it takes in from taxes and interest income and will deplete its $2.9 trillion reserve fund in 2035, according to the social security trustees' annual report issued in April. While the program will not go bankrupt due to payroll taxes, projections are there will only be enough revenue to cover 77% to 79% of benefits.
Congress and a President haven't acted to preserve social security since 1983 when, to avert a social security financial crisis, payroll taxes were raised, and the eligibility age is slowly raised from 65 to 67 years old. Social security benefits have become increasingly important as pensions have disappeared and many Americans have failed to save enough for retirement.
Let me begin by saying that I share Martha’s and David’s commitment to maintaining the Social Security program. This program is a vital source of income for many individuals across our nation. It is no secret that Social Security is facing serious financial difficulties, however, and we all know that the sooner Congress acts to put it on a solid financial course and ensure that it is a healthy program for current and future beneficiaries, the less dramatic the solution will need to be. As Martha points out, I certainly recognize and appreciate the fear that surfaces when folks hear Congress is considering changing the program. That said, before getting into more specifics, please know that I cannot name one serious lawmaker who is looking to deny hard-working Americans their well-earned benefits or renege on the federal government’s long-standing obligation to provide for this program’s beneficiaries. When you hear lawmakers talk about changing the program, they are talking about saving it, not destroying it. According to the Social Security Administration actuaries, doing nothing to change the programs dooms it to begin short-changing retirees. So, let’s talk about where we are and where we can go.
Righting Social Security’s fiscal ship is never easy, but as I said above, it’s always easier to fix it sooner rather than later. Rescuing Social Security always takes lots of political courage. America came together in 1983—Republican and Democrat, Congress and the President—and added 40 additional years to the life of the program. They adjusted the taxes workers paid, they adjusted the benefits workers receive, and they added life to this critical program. Those 40 years of additional life will soon expire, however, and we must all come together to make new and hard decisions to extend the program safely and soundly for generations to come. David is spot on with his calculation above – according to the Social Security Administration’s own actuaries, with the current laws in place, Social Security’s Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, combined with the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, is projected to be insolvent by 2035, at which point, payroll taxes will only be sufficient to pay roughly 79% of scheduled benefits.
Clearly, such a shortfall would be a breach of the trust of and the contract with American workers. Given that the shortfall is a certainty in the absence of reform, I’d hope that you would agree with me that reform is a necessity. While various proposals addressing Social Security in one way or another have been put forward, including the proposal David mentioned in his correspondence (H.R. 860), any serious solution must be carefully vetted to ensure both fairness for current Social Security recipients and continuity of the program for future beneficiaries. As such, I am not convinced at this time that H.R. 860 is a viable reform proposal. I am concerned that the measure puts an undue burden on working Americans, especially lower-income Americans, by increasing their payroll taxes substantially without a resulting overall increase in the value of the benefits received. Additionally, reasonable solutions must ensure younger workers have more effective programs to enroll in when they reach retirement age, and they must address the structural deficiencies in today’s program in a manner that will ensure Congress doesn’t have to fix the program again in another few years. While H.R. 860 doesn’t fill the bill entirely right now, you can be sure that I am closely monitoring every Social Security reform proposal because we must do more to help current seniors and those who are paying into the system today. Should you come across any proposals that you’d like me to review, please do not hesitate to share them with my office.
As you may know, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law sweeping legislation last year that included more than 70 measures to combat the ongoing opioid crisis. As federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services work to fully implement those reforms, it is critical that those in our local communities continue supporting our friends and neighbors who are battling opioid abuse and addiction. In fact, that bill was crafted with this very goal in mind, and we are starting to see more of those dollars trickle directly back to our community, in addition to those dollars that were allocated through the FY19 appropriations process to address this epidemic. For instance, Invistics Corporation in Peachtree Corners – a provider of healthcare analytical software – recently received more than $400,000 through the National Institutes of Health’s Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative. That initiative is aimed at improving treatments for chronic pain, curbing the rates of opioid addiction and overdose, and achieving long-term recovery for those who have become addicted. Solutions will surely come from every corner of industry, and I know we are proud that some of those are the result of the hard work from folks here at home.
The ability of our students to be successful once outside the classroom relies on a strong educational foundation and rewarding experience that is meticulously cultivated day after day by the teachers, parents, educators, and administrators who we charge with that great task. If you are a frequent reader of my newsletter, you are no doubt aware of the many accolades presented to schools in our community in the name of education excellence, and I’m sure none of us are surprised that trend has once again continued in a big way. The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST) was once again ranked #13 on Niche’s list of 2019 Best Public High Schools in the country and was selected as the #1 public high school in the state. I am sure you will recognize several schools from our area at the top of their list of “Best Public Schools in Georgia,” and you can read their complete rankings HERE. You won’t be surprised to learn that three more of the top 10 public schools in the state are also in the Seventh District. Lambert High School comes in at number five, South Forsyth at number seven, and North Gwinnett at number 8. What an amazing testimony to the quality of our students, parents, and teachers here in the Seventh District that four of the top 10 schools in the state are located right here in our neighborhoods! Congratulations to all who helped to make this recognition possible!
This week, the House is moving forward with consideration of H.R. 1815 and H.R. 3624. These partisan measures from the House Financial Services Committee are unfortunately just more of the same thing we’ve seen far too often this year: bills that score political points but won’t move in the Senate, won’t be signed by the President, and thus won’t provide any benefit for hard-working Americans.
Instead of working with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as it crafts pro-consumer regulations, H.R. 1815 unnecessarily up-ends the SEC’s current rulemaking power. Similarly, instead of working with American companies and workers to support the production of U.S.-made products, H.R. 3624 erroneously assumes that placing more reporting requirements on multinational companies will somehow shame these businesses into moving operations back to the U.S. I want companies hiring more American workers and making their products here, but playing political games with their workforces and forcing them to spend money complying with useless regulations isn’t the answer hard-working Americans sent us to Washington to find. It is the answer you get, however, when partisanship is the order of the day instead of working together. I hope that we can put strife aside and bring bills forward next week and for the rest of the year that will make a difference in people’s lives.
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Last week, the President signed an Executive Order (EO) directing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve and protect the Medicare program. Given that an overwhelming majority of Americans on Medicare like their plans and believe they receive quality health care services, I commend the President for directing HHS Secretary Alex Azar to protect and bolster these plans so that future generations of Americans can enjoy the program. Now is the time to undertake these efforts, especially since leading Democratic lawmakers continue to push socialized “Medicare for All” proposals that would abolish Medicare and Medicare Advantage and replace them with a one-size-fits-all single-payer health care system throughout the U.S.
Specifically, the EO directs the HHS Secretary to foster innovative benefit structures in Medicare Advantage plans, enhance access to telehealth services and technologies, and eliminate abuse and fraud within the system, just to name a few of the EO’s directives. I look forward to following Secretary Azar’s action on these directives, and you can be sure that I will keep you updated.
Another strong jobs report was released last week, showing continued gains in our economy and its positive effects on the U.S. workforce. Just last month, 136,000 jobs were added, bringing the national unemployment rate down to 3.5%; a jobless rate we haven’t seen since 1969! The jobs reports for July and August were also revised to reflect the additional 45,000 jobs added in those two months, bringing those numbers up to 166,000 and 168,000 respectively. This economic growth is also reflected in people’s paychecks with average hourly earnings rising by 2.9%.
More jobs, more pay, and a stronger economy is what’s driving America forward, and I am hopeful this Congress will continue to work with President Trump so that we may deliver positive results for the American people.
This past week much of the buzz across the country was about the recent announcement by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), that the Democrats will begin an impeachment investigation into the President. As I traveled around the Seventh District, I was asked frequently what that really changes. The truth is that it doesn’t change much. There have been as many as six House committees already conducting investigations on matters related to President Trump since the beginning of this Congress. Speaker Pelosi could call for a vote on the House floor to begin an official impeachment inquiry, but she doesn’t seem interested in doing so. Thus, the same Committee chairmen who have been investigating for almost three years will continue investigating, and the same partisan press conferences that have been going on for almost three years will continue to go on. In the absence of a vote on the floor of the House, nothing but the tone of the investigations really changes.
That said, the investigations seem increasingly partisan in nature, threatening all other bipartisan goals and opportunities that we have in the House. Congress missed the deadline to complete the appropriations process for the 2020 Fiscal Year and has yet to begin reauthorizing Highway and Transit funding programs or the National Flood Insurance Program, both of which are expiring and in need of reform. There remains an unaddressed humanitarian crisis at our Southern border. The much-needed update to NAFTA, the USMCA, has broad bipartisan support and needs to come to a vote on the House floor but has been delayed.
I know that many of these legislative priorities affect your business and our community directly. While we wait and encourage the Speaker to bring those critical issues to a vote, do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you would like me to speak to your group and provide an update on Congress.
Rep. Woodall addresses the Sugarloaf Rotary Club
Americans have always believed that if you work hard, play by the rules, and treat others with dignity, you can make it in America. Entrepreneurship and innovation have been the foundation of our world-leading economic growth since our nation’s founding. From the Department of Labor to the Small Business Administration to the Department of Education, the federal government is working to promote entrepreneurial growth across the country and at every level. Not surprisingly, our community has taken a leading role in that effort through our educational system, helping all of our children to unlock their full potential.
One of the very first innovative programs I heard about after I was elected to Congress was a local Gwinnett County effort to connect local entrepreneurs with local high school students to bring a new focus to entrepreneurial education. Fast forward to today, we see entrepreneurial education programs formalized in our schools and thriving. Programs like Brookwood High School's Integrated Entrepreneurship Program are so successful that they are oversubscribed and now have waiting lists of students hoping a new slot will open.
I’m a firm believer that education should be handled at the local level. We don’t want to see Washington bureaucrats promoting a “one-size-fits-all” national education curriculum that isn’t tailored to the individual needs of our children. However, the federal government can play an important role in taking successful programs like the ones we see in Forsyth and Gwinnett and helping to share those with other school districts across the country. I am so proud of our local educators and young people, and I am full of optimism about what this means for our nation’s future.
Rep. Woodall visits with Brookwood High School’s Integrated Entrepreneurship Program
As you may know, a number of proposals have been introduced this Congress regarding prescription drug prices. I cannot imagine a goal which the American people agree needs addressing more, and I applaud my colleagues’ commitment to addressing the high costs of prescription medications which have plagued seniors and families alike for far too long. Here’s what I have heard from some of you back home on this issue:
Holly from Duluth:
I've just learned that Nancy Pelosi is pushing a health care plan that brings European-style drug price controls to America, raises taxes on our businesses, and gives unelected bureaucrats more control over my health care. It’s no accident that more cures, therapies, and vaccines have been developed in America than in any other country on Earth.
Jacob from Cumming:
Retirees can’t wait. We need quick passage of H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act. Each day, millions of Americans, including seniors and retirees, having to choose between paying for medicine and paying for other necessities because their prescription drug costs are so high. I strongly urge you to work to get this bill to the floor of Congress immediately.
As you may have heard, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have introduced their solution - H.R. 3 - aimed at reducing the high costs of prescription drugs through a number of sweeping reforms. These include Secretarial price negotiation, a price index that bases drug costs on those of other countries, an out-of-pocket spending cap in Medicare, and rebates for Medicare Part B and D drugs, among others. While folks like Jacob believe this plan is the best path forward, I can tell you with certainty that it wasn’t crafted as a serious pathway forward. From its drafting to its introduction to its coming presentation before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, H.R. 3 has been a completely partisan effort. We could have worked together to address some of Holly’s concerns, but unfortunately, this was not the goal of H.R. 3 or its authors.
On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate Finance Committee has advanced its solution – the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act – which includes several suggested reforms in the prescription drug pricing realm and is largely bipartisan. Among these, the legislation would modernize Medicare Part D’s benefit design, including establishing an out-of-pocket spending cap, along with imposing new rebate requirements for manufacturers like a new 20 percent discount on brand name drugs once beneficiaries enter the catastrophic coverage phase. The CBO’s preliminary assessment projects that this measure would reduce beneficiaries’ spending for cost-sharing by roughly $25 billion over ten years.
As you can imagine, both bills are quite complex and both proposals will surely be subject to much debate, feedback, and improvement in the halls of Congress. It is clear to me that the ideals of transparency and fairness are shared by my friends on both sides of the aisle and must be incorporated into any successful legislation. Crafting large comprehensive solutions is never easy, but in this case, it is a goal we are all committed to pursuing.
Even as big bills are introduced, however, smaller, bipartisan solutions like the “CREATES Act” which would help facilitate the introduction of cheaper generics could be moved to the President’s desk today if party leadership could set politics aside. It is still too early to say how the debate on prescription drug costs and access will end, but I know that a lasting legacy of the 116th Congress could be one of decisive action to bring individuals and their families some relief at the pharmacy counter.
It seems like every week the schools here in the 7th District reach another incredible milestone that is worth sharing. But last week was particularly special. The Gwinnett County Public Schools reported that its students’ average SAT scores topped state and national averages on both sections of the test. More specifically, the Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology had an average score that ranked No. 1 in the state of Georgia.
The good news didn’t stop there. In Forsyth County, graduation rates climbed to an all-time high of 95 percent, leading all Metro Atlanta county school districts for the 2018-2019 school year and breaking the state record. Also last week, Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden was named a finalist for the 2020 Georgia Superintendent of the Year, a prestigious honor that highlights “leadership abilities and superior skill sets in the community, school boards and staff.” The winner will be announced in December.
I would like to offer my sincerest congratulations to everyone that has made this success possible. It is only from your hard work that the 7th District is continually recognized for its outstanding schools and education.
Here in the 7th District, we are protected by outstanding law enforcement agencies. Last week, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office was honored with advanced accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). To obtain this renowned accreditation, an agency must undergo a rigorous self-assessment in which policies, practices, and processes are closely scrutinized and altered to meet 439 internationally accepted standards and almost 1,500 other items.
I would like to congratulate the Sheriff’s Office for this impressive achievement and thank everyone there for their hard work to help keep our community safe.
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1724 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Rob Woodall serves the 7th district of GA in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the House Committee on Rules, the House Budget Committee, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
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 has served in a variety of leadership roles during his short time in Congress ranging from Chairman of the Budget and Spending Task Force, where he authored the most conservative budget to come before Congress in the last 5 years, to Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the caucus comprised of the Republican conference’s most conservative Members.
Rob is guided by the principles of freedom, and his proudest accomplishment is helping Seventh District families one at a time through casework and creating a Congressional office that functions for the people.
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“Gold Star Father’s Day” was made a statewide holiday in Georgia to honor the fathers whose children made the ultim… https://t.co/iVXNbDDMxm
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Congress’ oversight of the White House is serious business. Folks want it to be done in a serious way but only see… https://t.co/UeuldC1nnT
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Representatives from Daves Creek Elementary School were in D.C. this week receiving the National Blue Ribbon of Exc… https://t.co/Y5jLbAlkuv
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During today’s Rules debate, I encouraged my colleagues to break the status quo and overcome our chamber’s partisan… https://t.co/jf743xY3Hp