Rob Woodall

Rob Woodall

GEORGIA's 7th DISTRICT

Washington Watch - 9/16/19

2019/09/16

REMEMBERING THOSE WE LOST ON 9/11

Eighteen years ago, last Wednesday, our country and the world were forever changed by the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93. For many of us, we can remember vividly each detail of that September morning. Others are too young to remember that day, but nonetheless are all too aware of the consequences of the attacks and how they shaped our nation. Across America, we shared moments of silence, read aloud the names of those we lost, and prayed for the victims and their loved ones.

While that terrible day will be remembered by all for the pain and sorrow it brought, it is also remembered for the renewed sense of unity and determination it sparked in our nation. September 11, 2001 was a day of great heroism, and it revealed the character of our great nation. The courage of our first responders and everyday Americans who risked their lives to save family, friends, and strangers alike, will live on as the most enduring memory of the heartbreaking events in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

 

HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE FOCUSES ON CONGESTION

Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s (T&I) Subcommittee on Highways and Transit continued working toward reauthorizing the nation’s surface transportation programs by holding a hearing where lawmakers were able to learn more about congestion mitigation and financing strategies across the country. We know how critical it is for Americans to be able to get to work, drop their kids off at school, make a doctor’s appointment, or pick a loved one up at the airport on time, and I’m continually impressed by the T&I Committee’s commitment to learning from stakeholders around the nation about ways that we can structure federal policies to mirror those positive reforms already in place in localities from metro Atlanta to Chicago to New York to Dallas and beyond.

With my expectation that the fourth quarter will be the most productive yet, I also want to take this opportunity to update you on what you can expect from the House T&I Committee in the weeks and months ahead. The Committee is poised to consider a bill to reauthorize programs administered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PHMSA plays a critical role in ensuring our nation’s energy sources and hazardous materials are transported safely and efficiently, while simultaneously adhering to and upholding environmental standards. And while I don’t expect a new Water Resources Development Act to pass the committee until 2020, this week the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will discuss the Administration’s Clean Water Act priorities and how we can serve the interests of consumers, farmers, and the environment.

 

WORKING TOGETHER TO MOVE AMERICAN TRADE FORWARD

More than 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. U.S. manufacturers export more made-in-America manufactured goods to our North American neighbors than they do to the next 11 largest export markets combined. These two countries also account for nearly one-third of U.S. agricultural exports. Additionally, they are the top two export destinations for U.S. small and medium-size businesses, more than 120,000 of which sell their goods and services to Canada and Mexico.

The House needs to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It is the best trade deal of my lifetime. Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows it and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy knows it.  While no bill is a perfect bill, now is the time to work together to move this agreement forward.

Thank you, Fox Business, for inviting me to discuss why Congress needs to support American workers, manufacturers, and farmers. Click on the image below to watch my interview with Charles Payne.

 

WORKING FOR A CURE

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of death worldwide. The progress we have made combating cancer would not be possible without the efforts of those like the American Cancer Society. I would like to thank you for coming to meet with me last week to discuss the ways in which Congress can best support research and prevention efforts to ensure our continued progress in the fight against cancer.

Among the bipartisan efforts moving forward in the House is a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The work that NIH does is unparalleled on the planet.  America leads the globe in innovative research and cures, and we must continue that effort.

 

LOCAL LEADERS DISCUSS RETIREMENT SAVINGS

There are many obstacles that make it difficult for employers to encourage and help their employees save for the future. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from the Financial Services Institute (FSI) to discuss common sense legislation that would remove some of these obstacles and make it easier for Americans to save for a financially secure retirement. I would like to thank FSI for stopping by to discuss this issue. Retirement savings is a topic that impacts thousands of us here in the 7th District. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: VAPING

On Wednesday, President Trump called for a ban of flavored e-cigarettes. The President and members of his Administration say the flavored concoctions used in the devices are being marketed to kids, leading to a startling rate of young users nationwide. Many of you have written in to share your thoughts. Here’s a look at some of the opinions I’ve received thus far:

Stephanie from Cumming:

Too many students believe vaping is a safe alternative to smoking – some don’t realize it contains nicotine at all. In reality, a single JUUL prefilled liquid pod contains as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. According to the U.S. surgeon general, that can cause addiction and harm to the developing brain. Yet, e-cigarette use has jumped 78% among high school students since 2017. I am dedicated to ending tobacco use, nicotine addiction and tobacco-related deaths in the U.S., and this is the place to start. Please do what you can to pass the Tobacco to 21 Act and protect our nation’s youth by raising the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 nationwide. Thank you.

Dieter from Lawrenceville:

If the recent illnesses were caused by vaping, I would support this, but it isn't. It is caused by harmful additives being mixed with illegal THC. This issue cropped up in late May or early June, only in the USA, and only affecting young people. Vaping is 95% safer than smoking combustible tobacco. Each day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks out of the year, 1300+ people die from smoking or smoking-related diseases. Responsible vaping is the most effective method of quitting. Patches, gums, drugs, even hypnotism, are nowhere near as effective as vaping. The facts speak for themselves. To ban vaping or flavors would be like banning eating due to obesity.

Michelle from Duluth:

When I smoked cigarettes six years ago I was always sick with bronchitis and pneumonia. When I started vaping I have had no lung infections. I don't cough or wheeze. I'm the healthiest I've ever been. It's not the legal vape shops that are making vaping unsafe. It's street drugs and legalizing marijuana. Vaping saved my life and many others.


 

I’m certainly glad the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are looking into this issue.  Vaping is relatively new and there may be some unknown long-term side effects of which we are only now learning.  Vaping may also be a safer, healthier alternative to smoking. Right now, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health experts are weighing in.  I understand that there are people who have strong feelings on both sides. For now, I support the FDA and other federal studies as we actively investigate the potential hazards and benefits of e-cigarettes. 

 

FORSYTH COUNTY RECOGNIZED AS ‘STORM READY’

We in the 7th District understand the importance of disaster relief preparedness. Just recently, Forsyth County was recognized as a “StormReady Community,” an honor bestowed by the National Weather Service and the Georgia StormReady Advisory Board. This designation certifies that a community has implemented a wide array of safety measures like the establishment of a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center. Forsyth County first received this recognition in 2007 and has since implemented additional safeguards to protect the community from natural disasters.

I would like to commend the Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency for all its hard work in earning this distinction. These precautions are essential to keeping our community safe during severe weather crises.

 

GWINNETT NAMES TEACHERS OF THE YEAR

In the 7th District, we are proud to be continually recognized as having some of the best schools in the country – an achievement made possible only by the hard work of our children’s talented educators. Last week, 139 of these teachers were named “Teachers of the Year” by Gwinnett County Public Schools in recognition of their passion and commitment to our students and the school system.

Later this month, 25 of these teachers will move on to the semifinals, and then in mid-October, six individuals will be selected for the final round. On November 14th, Gwinnett County’s top teacher will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year banquet.

I hope you will join me in congratulating all of these teachers for this outstanding achievement. Again, the success of our schools would not be possible without the dedicated effort of these talented individuals.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week is going to be very busy in the House of Representatives as we plan to consider a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will fund the government beyond the current September 30th deadline. Of course, I’m disappointed that we’re discussing a CR again – as we have done too many times over the past few years under both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, even though Congress and the White House agreed earlier this year on top-line funding numbers for FY20 and FY21, partisan debates about unrelated policy riders coming from Members on both sides of the aisle have continued to stymie the process. I hope that we can use the next few months to find that common-ground that will let us move critical appropriations bills to the President’s desk.

In addition, the Rules Committee is going to consider H.R. 1423, which passed on a nearly party-line vote out of the Judiciary Committee last week. Should H.R. 1423 become law, which I doubt given its partisan nature, it would overrule private contract arrangements and force Americans to go to court to settle disputes instead of engaging in low-cost arbitration with a business or an employer. I can certainly understand why some people support this measure – especially trial lawyers who would benefit greatly from an increase in lawsuits – but I’m not convinced that eliminating arbitration and forcing people to hire a lawyer is the best course of action. I don’t object to reforming arbitration contract requirements, but eliminating them altogether is short-sighted and will make it more difficult for employees and consumers to access our judicial system.

And as is the case every week, you can CLICK HERE to see a full list of measures that the House will vote on. I hope you will share your thoughts about them with me!

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall

Member of Congress

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9/11 Remembrance Ceremonies

2019/09/10

Below are events in our area that will honor those who we lost:

 

  • The City of Norcross will hold a short 9/11 remembrance ceremony at 8:30am at Betty Mauldin Park

 

  • The Lawrenceville Department of Fire and Emergency Services will hold its annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony where county officials will reflect on the importance of remembering the events of September 11th and honor the men and women of public safety at 8:30am at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial

 

  • “Remembering Our Fallen”, a traveling photo memorial wall of Georgia’s Fallen, will be on display in the lobby of the Lilburn City Hall-Library, September 9-13. This photographic war memorial honors over 210 Georgia based service members who died while serving our country during The War on Terror (9/11/2001 to Present).

 

  • The City of Duluth & The Dream Keepers present "A Remembrance of 9/11" with guest speakers Kathy Fincher and Rodney M. Cook Jr. beginning at 6:30pm at the Duluth Town Green
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District Connection - 9/9/19

2019/09/09

HURRICANE DORIAN: THE LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY HAS BEGUN

Last week, Hurricane Dorian followed a long, slow path from the islands of the Bahamas up the Atlantic coast affecting parts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. While our communities in Forsyth and Gwinnett Counties were not directly impacted by Hurricane Dorian, many families and individuals along the coast, and especially in the Bahamas, are experiencing utter devastation. Undeniably, those communities hit hardest have a long path to recovery and will need all the help they can get. As many of you know, one of the best qualities about our community is that folks are always eager to help those in need. It truly warms my heart that my office has received so many phone calls and emails from families, community groups, and church groups inquiring about the ways they can help to assist with recovery and relief efforts. As such, I’ve compiled some resources below for those who would like to learn more about the ways in which you can help give back to communities devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

  • GEMA Donations & Volunteers – Click HERE to visit GEMA’s webpage that details how you can help communities recover from disaster.
  • USAID – Visit usaid.gov to learn more about how you can help. As a U.S. government agency, USAID does not accept donations for its crisis response efforts, but non-governmental organizations may issue appeals for donations depending on the crisis.
  • The Bahamas Consulate General in Atlanta – Visit the Consulate General’s webpage to stay up to date on recovery efforts and to learn more about the ways you can assist the people of the Bahamas. The Consulate General’s webpage also has a detailed list of items immediately needed to aid relief and recovery efforts.

Additionally, I want to bring to your attention that this month is National Preparedness Month and this week’s theme is “Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters.” Does your family have a plan in place when disaster is set to strike? If your answer to that question is “no,” then I strongly encourage you to click HERE to learn more about the ways in which you and your family can prepare for severe weather incidences and other disasters, as well as click HERE to make a disaster plan. It’s never too early to plan ahead to protect you and your loved ones! And on that note of preparedness, I want to take this opportunity to commend Governor Kemp, federal and local officials along the coast, and first responders for taking the necessary steps to protect Georgian’s from harm. 

 

SETTING FEDERAL BUDGET PRIORITIES FOR FUTURE INDUSTRIES

Last week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released its Fiscal Year 2021 Administration Research and Development (R&D) Budget Priorities memorandum, which helps focus all federal agencies’ budget submissions around a united mission. In the budget memorandum issued this year, the Trump Administration outlined a five-point plan that will position the United States as a leader in the industries of the future such as: artificial intelligence, quantum information science, advanced manufacturing, bioeconomic innovation, and American space exploration and commercialization to name a few.  We can build consensus around most – if not all – of these points and secure America’s position as a leader in the global economy.  As Congress returns to business in Washington this week, I look forward to addressing the President’s priorities with my colleagues and delivering results for future generations of Americans.

 

CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF OUTSTANDING SERVICE

40 years ago, George E. Wilson Memorial Health Services, Inc. was founded to provide health care to the underserved, rural community of Forsyth County at the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. Today, Georgia Highlands Medical Services (GHMS) has remained steadfast in its mission to provide services to those in our community who have no other place to turn for care.

GHMS now operates five medical centers and serves over 18,750 patients in our community. Of those, 75% are living below the poverty line, and over 50% are uninsured. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), GHMS leverages its federal investment to provide top-notch health care services to our friends and neighbors. FQHCs have always represented the best of our federal support for quality health care, and I look forward to our continued partnership.

Thank you, GHMS, for inviting me to celebrate this milestone achievement with you!

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: MAINTAINING AMERICA’S ENERGY SECURITY

This week the House is set to consider three bills on the topic of oil drilling in the United States. Each of the bills would end or prohibit the federal government from leasing certain areas for oil and gas development, including the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Florida’s Gulf Coast, and parts of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This has long been a subject of debate in Congress—for some 50 years now—and as such, I have heard from constituents on both sides of the issue:

Leanne from Duluth:

The Trump administration is pushing to expose huge swaths of our nation’s coastlines to devastating oil spills. As your constituent, I am calling on you to take immediate legislative action to stop the Trump administration’s reckless plan. Please protect the American people, not big polluter profits, and oppose reckless new oil and gas drilling off our shores. Expanding offshore drilling into these public waters threatens our coastal communities, whales, and other marine life with catastrophic oil spills. It blocks our path to a clean energy future and keeps us shackled to the heavily polluting fossil fuels of the past. It’s nothing more than another taxpayer handout to oil companies. It’s unconscionable, and it must be stopped. Please stand strong against President Trump and his anti-environment allies in Congress and reject new oil drilling along America’s coasts. Thank you.

Margaret from Lilburn:

I urge you to reject H.R. 205 and H.R. 1941. Both bills would prematurely close the door to expanded offshore energy exploration and development in America when projections show that global energy demand will only grow. A permanent moratorium on this offshore exploration would put our national and energy security, economy and even standing in the world at risk. Ten years ago, no one would have predicted that the United States would be the world leader in natural gas and oil production. This was made possible through relentless exploration and American innovation. Now we no longer must rely on unstable foreign regions to produce the energy our families and communities need. The natural gas and oil industry is creating jobs, investing in communities, and generating revenues for state and federal budget. Closing off our ability to expand the exploration and production of the natural gas and oil we depend on is not only shortsighted, it is un-American. Natural gas and oil supply over two-thirds of the energy used in America and we know that vast quantities of these vital resources exist offshore. But current energy policies keep 94% of federal offshore resources off limits to safe, responsible exploration and development. Unnecessarily limiting our access to offshore energy reserves is a mistake that could weaken our energy and national security, diminish employment opportunities for U.S. workers, and limit the availability of affordable and reliable domestic energy to American families.


I expect that most Americans agree that taking care of our environment is very important. I am an avid outdoorsman and enjoy hiking, camping, and all of the beauty that America provides. In fact, I could not imagine living in a nation that did not protect and maintain its wilderness and wildlife.  Environmental stewardship and national energy independence can and must go hand-in-hand.

The United States is one of the most blessed countries in the world when it comes to its abundant natural resources. From the Gulf of Mexico to the coasts of Alaska, we have almost unlimited untapped resources. We are the envy of the world when it comes to our reserves of energy sources. We rival Canada as the world’s largest source of oil shale and tar sands. We have some of the largest deposits of natural gas, both offshore and onshore, of any major nation. And yet, until recently, we depended largely on oil imported from the Middle East as a primary source of energy, making our country far too dependent on other countries. This dependence on oil from other countries has posed a threat to our national security and prosperity.

In response, our country has moved toward a more independent energy profile, and as Margaret mentioned, the United States is now the global leader in energy production. Families now have more certainty at the gas pump and when opening up their utility bills. There is absolutely no need for our country to be so dependent on foreign energy sources when we have so many resources here in our own country. We can and must responsibly develop our national energy portfolio, which is why I support responsible domestic drilling and development within our borders. To be clear though, our energy independence is not limited to fossil fuels. Right here in Georgia, we know how renewable sources, like nuclear power--which provides a quarter of our energy--hydro, and solar, are key parts of our nation’s energy portfolio. An “all-of-the-above” pursuit of energy is the best way to ensure American families can afford to keep the lights on and begin to use more renewable sources, and that’s why it’s critically important that we not take any type of energy development off the table.  American is committed both to developing our energy reserves and protecting our environment.  We must reject the notion that it can only be one or the other.

 

FORSYTH COUNTY PACKS 188,000 MEALS

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, more than 850 volunteers attended the United Way of Forsyth County’s 18th Annual Day of Caring. Participants helped pack 188,000 meals, almost 23,000 more than last year. The food will be distributed to local food pantries and programs. I would like to commend all the hard work that went into making this event a success. This event is Forsyth County’s single largest volunteer day, and it goes a long way to making our community a better place to live.

 

GWINNETT ANIMAL SHELTER RECEIVES $50,000 GRANT

Whether they are assisting individuals with disabilities, helping military veterans transition to civilian life, or simply serving as a beloved part of the family, there is no doubt that pets are important to us here in the 7th District. On August 30th, the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement shelter received a $50,000 grant from Best Friends Animal Society, a national organization dedicated to no-kill animal rescue and advocacy. The grant will be used to fund a new community outreach program to help Gwinnett residents keep pets from entering the shelter system. Benefits of this program, which is planned to begin on November 9th, will include free supplies and veterinarian visits.

I hope you will all join me in congratulating the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Department for securing this grant and doing incredible work to keep pets safe in our community.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

House committees are holding dozens of hearings and mark-ups this week on issues and legislation that are important to the American people, and you can see a full list of all those hearings by CLICKING HERE.

The Rules Committee today is going to consider three measures that deal with energy exploration and production in various coastal areas around the U.S.  Unfortunately, instead of responsibly managing that portfolio, these bills shut-down exploration and production entirely in some areas, harming economic growth and hurting American jobs. There is no reason why we can’t expand economic opportunities for hard-working Americans while also protecting our wildlife and natural habitats. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Rules Committee to approve amendments to these bills that will allow us to walk that common-sense path of growth and protection.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall

Member of Congress

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District Connection - 9/3/19

2019/09/03

HONORING SENATOR ISAKSON’S SERVICE TO GEORGIA

Senator Isakson’s presence and unique ability to build consensus around solutions to the problems Americans face will be sorely missed in the Senate. He is certainly one of Georgia’s giants. I am incredibly grateful to him for the decades of service he has given us in the State of Georgia, and I am equally grateful to his wonderful family for sharing him so freely with us. I will miss my friend in the Senate, but I join all Georgians in celebrating his service to our state and nation.

 

HAPPY LABOR DAY

Yesterday, we celebrated the American worker. The American Dream was forged through faith, family, freedom, and hard work. In keeping with that great tradition, we celebrated the grit and grind of our nation’s most industrious workers.

I hope that you, and your family, had a safe and happy Labor Day.

 

THE G7 MEETS TO DISCUSS GLOBAL TRADE AND SECURITY

Last week, President Trump attended the Group of 7 meeting, called as such because it is comprised of the world’s seven largest and advanced economies: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan. This year’s meeting was hosted by France in the city of Biarritz. As one can imagine, the topics of these meetings are wide-ranging from climate change to global security, but the primary concern of the leaders of the G7 was global trade. Trade disputes have afflicted the global economy for some time, whether it is each of the G7 nations and China, the U.K. with the rest of Europe, or the U.S. with Europe or any other permutation. The leaders discussed how to best settle these problems for the economic benefit of all. Unlike previous meetings, this meeting did not end with a united “communique” or statement from the group on policies it agrees to pursue.

That is not to say that good news did not come out of the meeting. During the summit, President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that our two countries had agreed to a preliminary trade agreement. What’s more, after the summit, President Trump announced that the U.S. and China will resume trade negotiations to resolve the ongoing trade war. While our economy has been growing and doing well, ending trade conflicts around the globe would only improve that progress. Looking ahead, President Trump will be at the 74th meeting of the U.N. General Assembly where he will have more opportunities to speak with world leaders and settle trade uncertainties.

 

MEDICARE LAUNCHES REDESIGNED PLAN FINDER TO MAKE SHOPPING FOR PLANS EASIER; MAKES UPGRADES TO OTHER ONLINE TOOLS

With Medicare’s Fall Open Enrollment period around the corner, I want to take this opportunity to highlight Medicare’s upgraded Plan Finder tool and bring to your attention other modifications the program has made to its online platforms and tools.

For those of you familiar with the Medicare program, the Plan Finder tool is used by individuals to search for Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plans, and it is reported to be the most used online tool offered. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), this is the first time in more than a decade the Plan Finder tool has been modernized to meet the needs and demands of today’s users and to address common complaints associated with the Plan Finder. To name a few of the upgrades CMS made to the Plan Finder, users of the tool can now compare pricing between Original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies, as well as build a personal drug formulary to ensure that a prospective plan meets their needs as best as possible. CMS is rolling out the new Plan Finder in phases alongside the old Plan Finder through September 2019 to allow ample time for users to become familiar with the modifications. If you know that you or a loved one will be searching for a plan or coverage in the coming months, I’d certainly recommend that you take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the upgraded Plan Finder tool, which you can do by clicking HERE.

Additionally, CMS recently redesigned the Medicare.gov homepage and the MyMedicare.gov portal to enhance user experience and site navigation, as well as to ensure critical information is relayed in an easy-to-read fashion. With more than 10,000 people joining Medicare each day, I believe it is crucial for information to be easily accessible for individuals so that they may easily compare plans and pick those that best suit their needs. These changes and updates are part of the Trump Administration’s eMedicare Initiative, and as such, I commend CMS for taking the necessary steps to make these long-overdue improvements so that the program can better serve beneficiaries into the future.

 

USCIS UPDATES CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION PROCESS FOR CHILDREN BORN AND LIVING ABROAD

As you may have heard this past week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), revised its rules for children who were born abroad and who live abroad with American citizen parents. Whenever citizenship issues are discussed, there are swift and partisan reactions from news organizations and political pundits. In fact, the first reaction from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the revised policy shameful and warned that it was an attack on US servicemembers and diplomats. Of course, that’s not true at all, and once the initial hysteria subsided, and USCIS was able to clarify the revision, demonstrating how the policy is not only justified, but also made at the request of the State Department.

While the State Department is responsible for issuing passports to U.S. citizens, USCIS is responsible for conferring citizenship status for an individual. Each agency was interpreting a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act differently, and as such, children born abroad and living abroad with U.S. citizen parents were being trapped in a legal limbo between these two agencies. The revised policy harmonizes interpretations of the law and only requires parents to file new paperwork with USCIS to provide their children with U.S. citizenship. And according to USCIS, while this change will affect a very small number of families, it is a good governance reform ensuring our federal agencies are working together instead of in competition with each other, and that’s a positive reform for the American people.

 

REP. WOODALL VISITS GRACE ARBOR

I am blessed to represent communities where caring for your neighbor is your most important job. Grace Arbor in Lawrenceville is a model of how the 7th District puts our community first. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Grace Arbor to learn more about the ways in which the program offers top-notch respite services to individuals grappling with Alzheimer’s Disease and other related dementias. We discussed how Congress can be an ally in assisting seniors and caregivers across the nation.

 

DISTRICT SPOTLIGHT: WORKING TO PRESERVE AND GROW THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER NATIONAL RECREATION AREA

This district work period, my staff and I have had the opportunity to meet with students, teachers, local business owners, organizations, and more --- all who have been touched in some way by the work we do in Washington and, more importantly, whose efforts directly impact our surrounding community. The work that they do is truly what makes the Seventh District of Georgia such a great place to live, but more than the impassioned leaders and individuals who make our community special is the unique blend of businesses and organizations, both large and small, who contribute to quality jobs, a skilled workforce, and our economic success. And those economic drivers extend beyond what initially may come to mind.

As you know, one of the defining features encompassed in the Seventh District is the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA). Covering roughly 48 miles along the river, the CRNRA is a shared economic, social, and ecological resource of immense value to the metro-Atlanta area and our state. While the ecological services the Chattahoochee River affords to the neighboring environment and wildlife alone are invaluable, in 2016, the CRNRA also supported more than 1,800 jobs and accounted for a $166 million benefit to the local economy. If you were one of the more than 2.8 million visitors who visited the CRNRA last year, you undoubtedly benefited from the work of the National Park Service, the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Trust for Public Land, local officials, and a number of invested stakeholders and volunteers who are not only working to preserve the existing area, but those groups who are also looking to expand access to the CRNRA as a valuable ecological and recreational space through its Chattahoochee Riverlands project. The ability of these groups to preserve, maintain, and grow the CRNRA as a public connector without undue federal and judicial influence is key to the region’s success, and I will continue to do what I can to support their efforts so that the CRNRA remains a place to fish, kayak, cycle, hike, and more for current and future generations.

 

GWINNETT CHAMBER CELEBRATES FEMALE LEADERSHIP

The 7th District has incredible female leaders that make our community a better place to live. Last week, some of these women were recognized at the Gwinnett Chamber’s 2019 Moxie Awards. The event celebrates female leaders and organizations that have contributed to the advancement of women in our community. Among the recipients were women at the peak of their career and women rising in their profession. In addition to the award ceremony, there was a panel discussion that included female CEOs from various organizations. I would like to congratulate all the award recipients and I wish them continued success moving forward.

 

FORSYTH 6-YEAR-OLD TO RIDE IN ANNUAL RODEO

There is a long history of incredible athletic achievement in the 7th District. This weekend, when the annual rodeo at the Cumming Fairgrounds returns, 6-year-old Ella Bennett will participate in the barrel racing event. Ella has been racing for the last half year and has traveled all over the country to hone her skills. She rides two or three times a week with trainers and sometimes travels on the weekends, riding in different parts of the state and country. Ella loves to go fast, and no matter the speed, she never gets scared. I would like to commend Ella for her tenacity and wish her the best of luck this weekend.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Rep. Woodall Honors Senator Isakson’s Service to Georgia

2019/08/29

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Today, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall issued the following statement:

“Senator Isakson’s presence and unique ability to build consensus around solutions to the problems Americans face will be sorely missed in the Senate. He is certainly one of Georgia’s giants. I am incredibly grateful to him for the decades of service he has given us in the State of Georgia, and I am equally grateful to his wonderful family for sharing him so freely with us. I will miss my friend in the Senate, but I join all Georgians in celebrating his service to our state and nation.”

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.

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District Connection - 8/26/19

2019/08/26

ANOTHER VICTORY IN PROMOTING LIFE

The Trump Administration issued a new rule earlier this year requiring federal Title X funding to go only to facilities physically separated from abortion providers and eliminating the requirement that Title X providers offer abortion counseling and referrals. Abortion providers are already barred from receiving federal funds for performing abortions, however, organizations like Planned Parenthood have provided other healthcare services alongside its abortion services. The Administration’s rule closes this loophole and eliminates the gray area that abortion clinics have exploited to receive taxpayer funding.  Though Planned Parenthood has long claimed to be primarily a health care provider, after the Title X rules change, Planned Parenthood announced it would fully withdraw from the federal Title X family planning program altogether rather remove its abortion services from its locations.

Title X funds will now be used exclusively by organizations that in fact have healthcare as their primary mission, facilities like Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) which can provide a full range of healthcare services including birth control options, cancer screenings, prenatal and postpartum care, immunization, and sexually transmitted disease testing, to name a few. This is great news for underserved communities who may see an influx of federal dollars in their local facilities.

We can all agree on the importance of promoting women’s health and the tremendous impact Title X has had in promoting family planning services. I commend the Administration for upholding the mission of the Title X program and ensuring that women’s health comes first.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS BILL TO EXTEND CRITICAL MEDICAID PROGRAMS

President Trump signed into law H.R. 3253, the “Sustaining Excellence in Medicaid Act of 2019,” a bill that extends a number of critical Medicaid programs as well as modifies Medicare payments for certain Part B drugs. I had the pleasure of supporting H.R. 3253 earlier this summer when it passed the House with bipartisan support, and I applaud the Senate for swiftly taking it up so that these programs will be in place to serve the most vulnerable among us.

Specifically, this new law is a multi-pronged approach: it provides a brief extension for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program, an initiative to help folks access community-based mental health services; provides additional money for the “Money Follows the Person” program, a program which ensures individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses have the resources necessary to transition from an institution to the community; and extends the “Spousal Impoverishment” provisions through the end of this year. Additionally, the law provides a five-year extension of the Family-to-Family Health Information Centers, which support families of children with special healthcare needs. Each program mentioned successfully serves families and individuals in communities across our great nation.  I am pleased that the House and Senate came together to fund these programs in a targeted manner so that lawmakers have the necessary data to decide whether these programs are worthy of longer-term federal investments in the future. You can be sure that I will keep an eye on these demonstration programs and continue to support those that prove to be successful.

 

REP. WOODALL SITS DOWN WITH LUPUS ADVOCATES

The Lupus Foundation of America works to improve the quality of life for all people affected by Lupus through programs of research, education, and support.

I want to thank all the Lupus Foundation advocates who met with me to discuss ways we can work together to move the needle forward in better understanding Lupus. As a member of the Congressional Lupus Caucus, I share the goal of finding a cure.

Rep. Woodall meets with advocates from the Lupus Foundation of America.

As you might imagine, one of the areas of federal funding focus that brings people together is health research. Research through the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and even the Department of Defense is one of the topics that constituents most frequently visit me about. Whenever a family member is afflicted with a disease or condition, we naturally become experts on that malady.  When advocates come in to visit me, they know so much about the areas of promising research, about aspects receiving too much attention, and about aspects receiving too little.  It isn’t easy for families to come and share such personal stories, but it is very important to do so. I am grateful to all of the families throughout the year that have made the effort to reach out and educate me about the decisions and challenges facing their loved ones. Together, we have made a difference in so many areas, and together will will continue to make a difference in so many more.

 

REP. WOODALL PARTICIPATES IN CEREMONY HONORING LOCAL HEROES

Every day is a blessing and an opportunity to serve our friends and neighbors. Nobody knows this better than the many brave men and women who have served in uniform to defend freedom-loving people at home and abroad.

Silver Oaks at Post Road held a fantastic event honoring the valor and courage of its veteran residents and their family members. I was fortunate enough to speak at the event and thank everyone for their service.

Whether you served your country, or you supported a family member who did, your sacrifices have not gone unnoticed. As a country, we wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

Rep. Woodall thanks a 99-year old World War II veteran for her service

If you have a neighbor or a loved one who is struggling to obtain the federal benefits that they have earned through their service, please reach out to me and my team.  I am constantly surprised by the number of people who tell me that they waited to contact me because they didn’t want to cause a fuss.  My primary mission is to be your voice, whether on the floor of the House or with a federal agency that is underperforming.  Together, we can ensure that no hero in our community goes unserved.

Rep. Woodall presents Silver Oaks at Post with an award for outstanding service to local veterans

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: CONGRESS MUST ACT SOON TO SUPPORT AN UPDATED AND REFORMED NAFTA AGREEMENT

Andrea from Duluth:

I am writing to strongly encourage you to vote YES on the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) to replace NAFTA. NAFTA took effect 25 years ago and was negotiated during a time when the economy looked much different than it does today. USMCA will replace the out-of-date provisions of NAFTA with a new deal that is tailored to put American workers first.

I support the USMCA because American workers and consumers will be the main beneficiaries of the agreement. This deal would provide U.S. employers with tariff-free access to sell U.S. products in Mexico and Canada while protecting American jobs from outsourcing. The USMCA supports American farmers, manufacturers and autoworkers – and encourages pharmaceutical and medical breakthroughs.

The USMCA mandates that U.S. farmers have more access to overseas markets after years of unfair trade practices. The deal opens $40 billion in export markets, creating agricultural jobs from sea to sea. This new agreement will provide unprecedented access to foreign markets, especially in Canada. USMCA puts new standards in place that stop Mexico from undercutting America workers. These wage and employment standards will discourage outsourcing and keep American jobs here at home. At the same time, the deal opens markets to more exports of U.S. manufacturing.

U.S. automobile workers are some of the biggest winners under the USMCA. The agreement protects American auto workers by requiring more car parts to come from North America. In addition, the agreement requires that at least 40% of automobiles must be made by people earning at least $16 an hour. This provision stops Mexico from paying substandard wages for manufacturing and undercutting American workers.

Medical innovation is another major benefit of the USMCA. Under current law, patents for innovative drugs receive eight years of market exclusivity within the countries that are party to the agreement. The USMCA provides ten years of patent protections for cutting-edge biologic drugs so American scientists are incentivized to find new cures without the fear of countries stealing their intellectual property.

If you and your colleagues do not act to finalize the USMCA, the consequences would be severe. The price of almost all consumer goods would steeply increase, and jobs would be lost. Passage of the USMCA is deeply important to me, my local community, and America as a whole. I strongly urge you to vote YES on the USMCA. Thank you for your consideration.

Michelle from Alpharetta:

Manufacturers and hardworking Americans need you to quickly take up and consider the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

I support the USMCA because it will help grow manufacturing in America and provide much-needed certainty to the millions of manufacturing jobs that depend on trade with Canada and Mexico.

Congress needs to consider this new deal without delay so that manufacturers can continue to grow and succeed as strongly as possible.


If you have been a regular reader of our 7th District Newsletter, then you have certainly seen me talk about how important I believe the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), will be for the United States’ economy, and in recent weeks, I’ve been hearing more and more from our neighbors about their support, including Michelle and Andrea.

Let me begin by saying that I have long been a supporter of free trade, and I have repeatedly expressed confidence in our ability to modernize current free trade agreements without doing harm to U.S. industries, workers, and consumers who rely on these agreements. For that reason, I certainly believe that the USMCA is a step in the right direction to bring much needed updates to the two-decade old NAFTA, rebalance trade among the three countries, and ensure that U.S. workers and companies are not disadvantaged.

Already, $4 billion worth of trade occurs between our three nations, and the International Trade Commission estimates that the USMCA will increase American exports to Canada by $19 billion and exports to Mexico by $14 billion. For Georgia, which already saw the total value of the state’s international trade hit nearly $140 billion in 2018, more robust access to two of our top 5 trading partners will support our workers and manufacturers even more. That economic growth will lead to greater foreign investments in our state and national economies and will create thousands of jobs for Americans.

The Trump Administration is working closely with leaders in Congress, including both Speaker Pelosi in the House and Majority Leader McConnell in the Senate, to move the USMCA forward.  From the House perspective, I can tell you that Speaker Pelosi has been a great partner with USMCA, but she does have some challenges within her caucus and she is moving deliberately (even if it appears “slowly”) to address those challenges so that the trade agreement can move forward.  I am optimistic that late in the third quarter or early in the fourth, Speaker Pelosi will put the deal on the House floor for a vote.  I am working enthusiastically in that direction.


 

FORSYTH COUNTY TEEN INSPIRES WITH CHARITABLE ACT

Time and again, the 7th District proves it is a community that is dedicated to helping its neighbors in time of need. Last week, Hannah Testa, a junior at West Forsyth High School, helped the MSG Foundation, a charitable organization that helps feed almost 60 Forsyth families a week, including 150 children, to meet its very substantial food goals. I would like to commend Hannah for her efforts. She is one of the many outstanding individuals who works tirelessly to make our community a better place to live.

 

GWINNETT PUBLIC SCHOOLS FULLY STAFFED

In the 7th District, we are proud to be continually recognized as having some of the best schools in the country. This is why it comes as no surprise that despite severe teacher shortages across the country, Gwinnett Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, has successfully filled all its teacher vacancies for the 2019 school year. This accomplishment is truly outstanding, and I would like to applaud all the hard work that went into making this achievement a reality.

 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall

Member of Congress

 

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District Connection - 8/19/19

2019/08/19

PARTICIPATE IN THE CONGRESSIONAL APP CHALLENGE TODAY

Each year, the Congressional App Challenge gives middle school and high school students the opportunity to showcase their coding skills by creating their own “app” for mobile devices, computers, or another form of technology.

The winners of the challenge will have their app featured in the United States Capitol Building and be invited to Capitol Hill for the annual #HouseOfCode event to demonstrate their apps for Members of Congress. Students can compete individually or in teams of up to four and may begin working on their apps as soon as they like. The application period closes on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. CLICK HERE to learn more.

 

BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN AMERICAN SMALL BUSINESSES

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recently released its report on Small Business Economic Trends which shows that small business optimism is up! Small business owners are confident in our nation’s economy and are making new investments to expand their operations, create new jobs, and make increased investments in newer products. This is good news not only for these businesses, but also for consumers who can anticipate new products on the shelves soon and job seekers who are looking for new employment opportunities. While NFIB’s report is largely positive, it did highlight small business owners’ apprehension for finding qualified workers to fill the openings they seek. That said, building job opportunities helps to encourage folks to reenter the workforce and drive up labor participation in the country – both of which are great for our economy.

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and I am happy to continue supporting policies that help them thrive.

 

KEEPING OUR PLEDGE TO THE AMERICAN WORKER

A year ago, President Trump called on businesses and industries from across the country to create more quality jobs and provide employees opportunities for skill development and growth. For as well as our economy has been doing with unemployment sitting at 3.7%, there were still 7.3 million job openings at the end of June with businesses searching for skilled workers. With 6.1 million Americans still unemployed, not including those who are considered “underemployed,” there is an opportunity to fill what is called the “skills gap.” Initially, more than 20 companies and industry groups pledged to hire or train more than 3.8 million workers. Now one year later, over 300 companies have pledged to provide over 12 million educational and training opportunities to American students and workers over the next five years. This includes companies you and I are very familiar with here in Georgia like UPS, Home Depot, Lockheed Martin, Kia, and more. Keeping our economy growing to bring prosperity to communities across the U.S. is more than just having a “Help Wanted” sign out in front of a business, it’s investing in the workers and communities to ensure there are opportunities for the future.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: CONGRESS LOOKS TO TACKLE SURPRISE BILLING

It’s an unfortunate reality that too many of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones have received unexpected medical bills. In fact, the most common thing I hear is that folks thought that they had done everything right, from calling the number on the back of their insurance card, to checking with their doctor’s office, but somewhere along the way they crossed paths with an out of network provider or facility, at no fault of their own. The financial consequences of doing so can be steep and, in many cases, financially debilitating.

However, just as Congress and the Administration responded swiftly to public outcry about ever-increasing drug prices, which I noted in my previous newsletter, I think many will be pleased to hear that Congress has acted similarly to tackle surprise billing. In fact, I don’t think I could find a single lawmaker in Congress who hasn’t heard from their constituents about the toll of surprise medical bills and the need to address them. As such, both the House and Senate have proposed and advanced measures to remedy surprise out-of-network bills, and while I have not yet had a chance to vote on the House’s proposal, the “No Surprises Act,” I want to take this opportunity to share with you what I have heard from folks, as well as to invite your feedback on the bill. Take a look at the thoughts I’ve received thus far:

Teresa from Peachtree Corners:

I urge you to cosponsor H.R. 3630, bipartisan legislation to end the practice of surprise medical billing by implementing a federal benchmarking standard.

Armando from Cumming:

I’m writing to ask you to adequately protect patients from surprise medical billing. In order to do so, please support a solution that includes an independent dispute resolution (IDR) process that is similar to the successful New York state model. I strongly oppose the benchmark rate setting approach in Energy and Commerce’s No Surprises Act, H.R. 3630, that caps reimbursement for out-of-network care at the median in-network rate for that geographic area and was amended to include an inadequate IDR process. 

John from Duluth:

I am asking you to support the Ruiz/Roe version of the surprise medical billing since I feel that it is the fairest to both patients and physicians and minimizes the power given to insurance companies.


It’s evident from the mail my office has received that H.R. 3630, which was incorporated into H.R. 2328 during the House Energy and Commerce’s markup, has garnered different positions from people, and the debate has focused on the mechanism in which surprise out-of-network bills should be addressed. As you can see, Teresa prefers a federal benchmark standard, a policy outcome in which out-of-network payments would be based on the median in-network median amount, while Armando would like to see the House adopt an independent dispute resolution (IDR) process, a neutral arbitration system. Both mechanisms seek to hold patients harmless in these situations, and each mechanism has its own constituency of support among lawmakers in the House and Senate. In fact, support for both mechanisms was so strong when my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee considered the bill, they adopted a motion to add an arbitration provision to the bill. That’s good news for folks like John, who have expressed support for solutions that build on the successes of New York state’s approach to addressing surprise medical bills through arbitration.

I commend all my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee for their diligent and thoughtful work in passing critical legislation to deliver real solutions to address problems that hit home for too many of us.

 

BOLSTERING LOCAL ARTISTS

The calling that leads those in our community to say “yes” to serving others is commonplace - not because the work is easy, but because it is second nature for individuals in our community to find ways to give back. The number of organizations here at home devoted to that mission are too many to name, but in the local arts space, I have no doubt that the Forsyth County Arts Alliance (FCAA) is one name that is recognized among many for their continued support. Over the last decade, FCAA has provided over $500,000 in funding for the arts in Forsyth County, and just recently awarded more than $20,000 to support arts programs across Cumming. Our public schools, hospitals, and local groups could not continue to do their great work in this space without the support of FCAA and so many others. I am glad to highlight their efforts here.

 

TV STATION TRIUMPHS AT AWARDS CEREMONY

I hope you will all join me in congratulating GCPS TV, Gwinnett County Public School’s news and educational channel, for winning a silver and two bronze 2019 Telly Awards. GCPS TV reaches thousands of television screens across Gwinnett County and helps educate our bright student population. The Telly Awards receives over 12,000 entries from all over the globe. I am proud of GCPS TV’s accomplishments on the world stage, and I wish them continued success moving forward.

 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall

Member of Congress

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Rep. Woodall Encourages Students to Participate in Congressional App Challenge

2019/08/13

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Representative Rob Woodall has just announced the beginning of the annual Congressional App Challenge, a competition for middle and high school students across the nation. The contest allows students to work individually or in teams to showcase their innovation and coding skills by creating their own software application, or “app,” for mobile devices, computers, or another form of technology.

“The App Challenge provides a fantastic outlet for students to display their creativity and STEM skills as well as represent the 7th District of Georgia’s remarkable school system,” said Congressman Woodall. “I am excited to see what these bright young minds come up with.”

The winners of the challenge will have their app featured in the United States Capitol Building and be invited to Capitol Hill for the annual #HouseOfCode event to demo their apps for Members of Congress. Students can compete individually or in teams of up to four and may begin working on their apps as soon as they like. The application period closes on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

Additional details about the competition can be found on Congressman Woodall’s website.

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.

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District Connection - 8/12/19

2019/08/12

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO MAKING SAFE IMPORTATION OF DRUGS A REALITY

As many of you know, the Trump Administration has undertaken several efforts to lower drug prices for all consumers. From working with Congress to close the doughnut hole a year early for brand-name Medicare Part D drugs to banning “gag clauses,” which prohibit pharmacists from disclosing cheaper drug options to consumers, I can assure you that Congress and the Administration are committed to achieving lower drug prices.

However, despite the steps we’ve taken to increase competition and choice in the name of driving down drug prices, the cost of prescription drugs are still incredibly expensive. That’s why I am pleased the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced an action plan for the safe importation of prescription drugs. The HHS Secretary established a working group to study the importation of drugs from foreign countries, and the group has been working for a year on a plan to allow targeted and safe importation in the future.

I’ve long believed individuals should be able to import a controlled number of drugs from abroad for their own personal use, and this action plan represents a step forward toward lower drug prices, increased competition, and innovation and increased standards for patient care.

 

REP. WOODALL TO LANIER ROTARY CLUB: “DO NOT LOSE FAITH IN SELF-GOVERNMENT”

The Lanier Rotary Club is where our friends and neighbors come together to share ideas and solve problems.

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest speaker! I thoroughly enjoyed answering your questions about what is happening in Washington and how I can be an advocate and resource for my 7th District bosses.

When you look at the kind of leaders that our community has in the Lanier-Forsyth Rotary and across the district, it is easy to understand our success tackling local problems and concerns. We have a common purpose in improving our community and serving our neighbors. Congress sometimes looks like it has lost that common purpose, but my message is that it has not. Of course there are issues of disagreement. There were in the summer of 1787 when the Constitution was drafted, and there have been every day since. How we respond and progress despite those disagreements determines our success. My commitment to you is to pursue that common purpose with my voice and your voting card in Congress each day.

 

Rep. Woodall speaks with the Lanier Rotary Club about developments in foreign affairs

 

From Northside Hospital, Rep. Woodall gives an update of what is happening in Washington, D.C.

 

REP. WOODALL MEETS WITH LOCAL BROADCASTERS

85 years ago, the Georgia Association of Broadcasters was founded to represent the interests of Georgia’s local television and radio stations.

Today, their membership is comprised of more than 500 radio and television broadcasters who reach over 95 percent of Georgia’s population.

Thank you for inviting me to be the first Congressman at your “Congressional Meet and Greet.” I enjoyed meeting with veteran broadcasters who cover the important issues that matter to our communities. As I said in our meeting, local broadcasters serve a special need in our Republic, a need that national broadcasters cannot fill. The public airwaves are exactly that—for the service and benefit of the public. Americans have more media choices than ever before, and that is wonderful progress. But that progress does not change the stewardship responsibilities that we have for our public resources, including our airwaves. You can count on me to continue to defend local control of our local resources.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: RESPONDING TO THE CRISIS IN VENEZUELA

While much attention on Capitol Hill is focused on domestic policy, news continues to develop around the globe. Last week, we addressed the protests in Hong Kong. This week, I’d like to answer questions from folks about what is going on in Venezuela.

Beverly from Lawrenceville:

Dear Rep. Woodall, I have recently spoken to someone who is a former resident of Venezuela and who has made me aware of the ongoing deplorable conditions in that country. I am writing to ask if there is not something our country can to do assist the people there who are suffering?

Leigh from Suwanee:

We support the measures taken by the Trump administration to weaken the Maduro regime of Venezuela while at the same time providing increasing humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people. We strongly request stronger measures to be taken by the American government to lead to the removal of the dictator Maduro from his illegitimate power over the suffering Venezuelan people. The epic humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has reached American shores. Things will continue to worsen as long as Maduro clings to power in Venezuela. We do not think that American military intervention would currently be supported by many American allies to remove the brutal Cuban intelligence forces which orchestrate and implement their puppet Maduro's destruction of the economy, medical system and society of Venezuela. However, all efforts short of military intervention by the U.S. are now necessary to build an alliance to forcefully remove Maduro and his backers from power. We ask that you take a public stance towards this goal.

 

For a short period of time, there was a glimmer of hope that the conflict in Venezuela could be peacefully resolved through peace talks that have been ongoing since May. Unfortunately, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced last week that his government would withdraw from those talks.

The tragic situation in Venezuela strikes a chord with all those who believe in democracy and human rights. To answer Beverly in short, there are absolutely ways our country can help the people of Venezuela, and the good news is that we are taking steps to do so. As Leigh described, there are measures that the U.S. can take to weaken the authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro, and President Trump did just that by placing new sanctions on the property and assets of the Venezuelan government and of any individuals who assist Venezuelan officials affected by the sanctions.

For more than a decade, the U.S. has had sanctions against the Venezuelan government for drug trafficking, antidemocratic actions, and other assaults on democracy and the rule of law, but these new sanctions put Venezuela amongst the likes of Iran, North Korea, and Cuba. These sanctions will further cripple the Maduro regime’s ability to further subject the people of Venezuela to his tyranny.

That said, the Trump Administration did include an exemption to the sanctions to allow for the Congressionally approved $17.5 million worth of humanitarian aid for the people of Venezuela. With increased sanctions and pressure against the Maduro government, as well as increased efforts to deliver relief for the Venezuelan people, it is my hope that peace talks resume and a democratic resolution is found soon.

 

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SEEKING STUDENTS FOR ADVISORY COUNCIL

Our student population consists of bright, impassioned young people who are leaders among their peers. We rely on their good ideas as their feedback allows us to evaluate what we are doing right and how we can improve. This collaborative dynamic is particularly important in the classroom, and the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) is looking to bring students to the table to be a part of these important discussions as it looks for ways to build upon our continued scholastic success. GaDOE is currently seeking middle and high school students to serve on its 2019-20 Student Advisory Council. Students interested in applying must complete and apply by August 31st. I am sure we will all be hearing of State School Superintendent Woods’ and the Advisory Council’s good work as this year moves forward.

 

HONORING OUR HEROES

I hope you will all join me in applauding the City of Norcross for joining cities throughout Georgia and across the nation to participate in the Purple Heart Trail. This program is a symbolic and honorary trail meant to pay tribute to Purple Heart recipients. The Purple Heart is given to service members who have lost their lives or been wounded in the line of duty.

As I’m sure you noticed this past week, whether you were driving by or visiting historic downtown, Norcross was lit in the color purple to pay homage to these servicemembers and their great sacrifice. It is a great honor to live in a community focused on recognizing those who have given the most in the defense and support of our freedom.

 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall

Member of Congress

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District Connection - 8/5/19

2019/08/05

PRESERVING CONSERVATIVE PRIORITIES IN THE BUDGET AGREEMENT

Last week, the President signed H.R. 3877, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019.” As I noted in my previous newsletter, this bill came together with the agreement of House and Senate leadership and President Trump to address spending caps for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, spending offsets, and the debt limit all in a single bill.

As you would imagine, getting President Trump and Speaker Pelosi on the same page requires some creative legislative drafting.  Certainly, this bill is not the one you or I would have written, but I would like to highlight some of our priorities that were successfully accomplished in it.  For example, this bill ensures that our obligations to veterans and Social Security beneficiaries are funded.  It makes increased investments in our military to rehabilitate our equipment currently in service, make new purchases to phase out old equipment, and provide our service members the pay raise they deserve. The bill also includes meaningful pro-life protections like the Hyde amendment to prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.

Additionally, by having both sides of the aisle and both chambers agree on spending caps for the next two years, this bill eliminates the brinksmanship of “government shutdowns.”  Last year, Congress successfully passed and enacted more funding bills than any other Congress in decades.  This year, we could do even better.  Given all of the uncertainty around the globe, self-inflicted chaos has no place in 2019, and this bill helps Congress and the White House to avoid it.

As I mentioned last week, my vote for this bill was not an endorsement of every line in this bill, but rather it was an acknowledgement that if this bill were to fail, the next proposal would be worse. So, while the conservative wins and opportunities for reform this agreement provides are worth celebrating, there is still much  work to be done. I am hopeful that my friends on the other side of the aisle will recognize the serious challenges ahead and work with me to get our nation on a path to a sustainable fiscal future.

 

SENATE MUST ADDRESS BIPARTISAN EFFORTS IN THE HOUSE

Too often the newspapers and cable news spend their time talking about how Congress is dysfunctional instead of spending time on the ways in which Congress is working together for the betterment of the American people. One such effort, which should be especially interesting to those of us from Georgia, is the proposed merger between SunTrust and BB&T. The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on this merger on July 24th, and while there are certainly differences between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to enforcing the Dodd-Frank Act and various bank merger laws, it is gratifying to see the House properly use its oversight powers.  We have laws in this country concerning mergers, market concentration, and monopolies for good reasons, and I look forward to the Senate moving forward with its examination in the near future.

Another step forward that you probably didn’t see in the news but should have been highlighted there is the passage of H.R. 3352, which reauthorizes the Department of State for FY20. This bill passed the House unanimously, and while you probably don’t realize it because the State Department has been funded every year, its authorization lapsed 16 years ago. That means that for the past 16 years, the State Department has been falling behind in important areas, especially in working on anti-piracy initiatives, updating embassy construction and security needs, reforming personnel matters, and updating our cooperative initiatives with foreign militaries and diplomatic institutions. I’m heartened that we were able to pass this bill with unanimous bipartisan support. Now it’s up to the Senate to do the same.

 

BUDGET COMMITTEE SEEKS COMMONSENSE STEPS FORWARD ON CLIMATE

The House Democratic majority has made it crystal clear that addressing climate change is one of the biggest issues it wants to tackle. Nearly every committee, from Armed Services to Financial Services to Transportation and Infrastructure, a committee on which I serve, has held a hearing on one aspect or another of climate change. The Budget Committee, on which I also serve, held its second hearing of the year on climate change. While I wish that the Budget Committee was holding budget hearings instead, our first climate hearing was surprisingly productive, as both sides of the aisle agreed that the hyper-partisan “Green New Deal” was not the path forward and that we must come together to find bipartisan solutions if we are to move forward.

This second hearing focused on the costs of climate change and its potential impacts on America’s budget. Government so often does as much or more harm than good with new public policies; I used my time with the witnesses to explore “how to get it right.” For example, one of the witnesses, Ms. Stefani Grant from Unilever, testified on the carbon pricing initiatives that are in use among its subsidiary companies. Unilever is just one company, but it is currently using at least three different carbon pricing models, each designed to be most appropriate for the business unit it impacts.  If a single company committed to pricing carbon can’t agree on what should be the right single price, clearly Congress—legislating for a divided America—is unprepared to set a single right price for all companies and consumers across the nation.  Any agreement would undoubtedly have to be combined with the elimination of other nonsensical regulations and taxes, so that businesses and consumers could more efficiently partner to achieve shared goals. 

Also focusing on the efficient use of resources, I asked Mr. Rich Powell, Executive Director of ClearPath, about a more efficient use taxpayer dollars than the system used to deploy clean energy solutions today. You can view my full remarks here.   

The hard work of crafting a smart solution on behalf of the American people doesn’t require that we all agree on everything. Democrats can oppose the tax bill, but still work to make the tax cuts more effective for family businesses. Republicans can oppose the government takeover that was Obamacare but still work to ensure that families playing by the rules are protected from preexisting condition exclusions and lifetime caps. Climate change is the same. We aren’t required to agree on all of the how’s and why’s to agree that every federal tax committed to natural disaster mitigation and environmental stewardship be used as effectively and efficiently as possible.  I hope that our hearing helped to bring members together on that “effective and efficient” goal.

 

CMS ADVANCES PROPOSAL TO INCREASE PRICE TRANSPARENCY IN HEALTH CARE; A KEY ELEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT’S RECENT EXECUTIVE ORDER

As many of you may recall from a previous newsletter, the White House issued an Executive Order (EO) earlier this summer directing federal agencies and departments to take steps to improve price and quality transparency in our nation’s health care system. The good news is that just last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed payment policy for 2020 that looks to implement the goals of President Trump’s EO.

Specifically, the proposed rule applies to the Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Centers, and it includes a provision that would require hospitals to not only disclose to patients standard charges for common procedures, but also negotiated rates with insurance companies – a key element of President Trump’s goal to make health care more “shoppable” for consumers. What’s more, the proposed rule would require this information to be made public in an easy to compare, consumer-friendly manner, allowing consumers to compare costs across hospitals as well as determine what one’s out-of-pocket cost might be. That said, the proposed rule in question is just that, a proposed rule. As such, it will have to make its way through the public comment and regulatory processes before a decision is made on whether to finalize the proposal. With that said, I commend the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Administrator of CMS for advancing such a bold proposal and for their willingness to work with patients and stakeholders to obtain feedback and craft a rule that achieves the President’s goals.

 

SUPPORTING U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS

The relationship between the U.S. and Japan continues to be one of our most important partnerships on the international stage.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Japan’s Congressional Minister Kimitake Nakamura, who is the primary liaison between Congress and Tokyo, to discuss the positive impact of Japanese investments in the United States and how to counter Chinese expansion in the Pacific.

 

STRONG JULY JOBS REPORT

As confirmed by Friday’s jobs report, we currently have the lowest rate of unemployed Americans recorded since December 1969! This is good news for middle and working-class families in the 7th District because wages are increasing and they can count on job security for the long term.

Here are the biggest takeaways from July’s jobs report:

  • The Labor Department reports that payrolls increased 164,000 during July
  • Wages increased 3.2% year over year, topping expectations by one-tenth of a percentage point. Average weekly hours edged lower to 34.3
  • The total labor force came in at a record-high 163.4 million participation

Our economy is booming! In Congress, I will always support pro-growth policies that build an inclusive and vibrant economy. As Georgians, we all win when wages increase, when unemployment is low, and when the American Dream is attainable to anyone who is willing to put in the work.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: SUPPORTING HONG KONG’S AUTONOMY

As many of you are aware, Hong Kong has been in the midst of weeks long protests in response to proposed legislation that would allow China to extradite individuals from Hong Kong to the mainland. An estimated one million people have taken to the streets in Hong Kong to oppose the change. Many people right here in the 7th District have ties to China and Hong Kong—or simply sympathize with the people of Hong Kong’s plight—and have written in to share their thoughts with me:

Manchun from Buford:

Dear Mr. Woodall, I am writing to you in regard to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, commonly known as the Extradition Law in Hong Kong. The proposed ordinance has triggered a protest by over a million citizens in Hong Kong and is now being brought up to the international attention. As a U.S. citizen who grew up in Hong Kong and has family ties there, this is a pressing issue that needs your help to speak for us, current U.S. citizens who have close ties with Hong Kong and future U.S. citizens from Hong Kong. On June 13, 2019, U.S. Representative Jim McGovern and Senator Marco Rubio reintroduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which McGovern stated clearly that “This legislation makes clear that the U.S. Congress stands with the people of Hong Kong in their effort to preserve human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong...”

I sincerely ask that you take action to support the reintroduction of the house bill in the Senate in the 116th Congress, plus any punitive actions that the Congressional Executive Commission on China and your other congressional colleagues may take in regard to the situation in Hong Kong. At the same time, I ask that all sanctions include clauses that protect the interests of hundreds of thousands Hongkongers currently in the US who had been in Hong Kong before July 1, 1997, for immigration and security purposes. While the US should rightly re-examine its relationship with Hong Kong for security purposes, in light of the Extradition Law, I do not want to suffer collateral damage from the venomous actions of China with no fault of my own. Passing the Extradition Law will not only dangerously affect local Hong Kongers, American-Hong Kongers, but also U.S. citizens who travel to Hong Kong for business or leisure purposes. The Chinese government has had a history of arresting and holding foreigners to pressure US allies. The Extradition Law is a foreshadow that the Chinese government may capture U.S. citizens as bargaining chips, if any issues arise. For security reasons, for the good of U.S. citizens and nationals, for the sake of preserving human rights and freedom, I kindly ask that you take the best efforts to support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, to go against the Extradition Law and protect our future.

Maggie from Cumming:

I am writing to urge that my representative support and co-sponsor the "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019" (H.R. 3289 / S. 1838). The United States has significant business interests in Hong Kong as a major international financial hub. In June 2019, the city saw massive protests against a Fugitive Offenders Ordinance proposal that would have affected global citizens even simply transiting through the city to be extradited to China for an unfair trial. When the Hong Kong government refused to completely withdraw the proposal, ongoing social unrest ensues. It is vital that the United States act to protect a democratic system in Hong Kong, for its own business and geopolitical interests and for the over 85,000 American citizens residing in the city.

The "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019" would reaffirm the United States' commitment to support human rights of people of Hong Kong and democratization of the city's political system, by way of protection of citizens involved in peaceful protests and punishment of human rights violators within the capacity of the United States government. It will also keep the Hong Kong government from resuming the legislation on the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. Currently, the bill is garnering bipartisan support. I look forward to seeing the passing of this bill before the end of this congressional session.


As you may know, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which was created by Congress in 2000 to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, is a bipartisan commission made up of members of the House, the Senate, and the Administration. It is tasked with submitting an annual report to Congress detailing legislative proposals advancing human rights and the rule of law in China, and the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” is just one of those proposals. As Maggie and Manchun said above, this bill reaffirms America’s commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy. While the administration of Hong Kong was handed over from the British to the Chinese in 1997, the agreement guaranteed that Hong Kong’s “capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years” until the year 2047. However, as the recent protests indicate, China is failing to keep that promise.  The “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” would require the U.S. Secretary of State to certify Hong Kong’s autonomy in order to maintain its special treatment and trade status with the U.S., requires the President to identify those responsible for the abductions of Hong Kong citizens who have spoken out against mainland China, and includes other steps to ensure U.S. interests are in Hong Kong are protected. This bill has been introduced in every Congress since the 113th Congress but has never advanced, though the current situation in Hong Kong is highlighting the need for action.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging China to “do the right thing” and “proceed in a way that is not violent.”   And as you might expect, the discussion of Hong Kong is bleeding over into the tariff and trade talks that are already underway between China and the U.S.  We can all agree that China must keep its promise to Hong Kong.  Congress, the Administration, and the world are partnering to ensure exactly that. 

 

COLLINS HILL PRINCIPAL NAMED FINALIST FOR “PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR”

The new school year is officially underway, and it’s already shaping up to be an exciting year. We are so fortunate to have so many educators, administrators, and parents who are committed to making sure that our children have opportunities to succeed in school. That commitment is what has continually led to our communities’ reputation of excellence in education across the state of Georgia, and I am pleased to share the news that their hard work continues to be recognized at a national level as well. In fact, Collins Hill High School Principal Kerensa Wing was recently selected as one of three finalists for Principal of the Year nationwide, after having been selected earlier this year as Georgia Principal of the Year. The National Association of Secondary School Principals is set to announce the overall winner this October in Washington, D.C. We are certainly proud of her efforts and this well-deserved recognition!

 

FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS LAUNCH “STATE OF THE SCHOOLS” EVENT

Earlier this spring, U.S. News & World Report released its list of top schools nationwide, and that list included several schools in our community as among the best in the country. In light of this news, it should come as no surprise that our Forsyth County Schools are going even further to ensure that our students are among the most competitive in the country. In that endeavor, the Chamber of Commerce and Forsyth School system hosted their first-ever “State of Schools” event to shed light on new plans to continue academic and athletic success and expand business partnerships. Our greatest achievements are the result of a collaborative partnership between all of those in our community, and I am always glad to report on the hard work that is being done to make our home a better place to live.

 

RESPONDING TO DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Like you, I am shocked by the violence that took place in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend. As a community, we say with one voice, and with finality, that hate and violence have no home here. While local law enforcement agencies continue to gather information, all of the resources of federal law enforcement are at their disposal. The affected communities will be supported with whatever they need -- whether legal resources or mental health/counseling resources or more. There is a cancer of violence in our culture. It's symptoms are seen in individual communities, but it is a cultural cancer that affects every corner of our nation.

In an effort to prevent future mass shootings, I have co-sponsored H.R. 1339, the “Mass Violence Prevention Act,” which enhances penalties for theft of a firearm and establishes a Mass Violence Prevention Center. In addition, I have co-sponsored H.R. 838, the “Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety (TAPS) Act,” which creates a task force of experts in this field who will assist in the creation of a national strategy to prevent targeted violence through threat assessment and management. This program, which already exists at the federal level to protect elected officials, will provide resources, training, and assistance in establishing and operating locally driven threat assessment and management units throughout the country.

 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall

Member of Congress

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Contact Information

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

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

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

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

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


Serving With

Buddy Carter

GEORGIA's 1st DISTRICT

Drew Ferguson

GEORGIA's 3rd DISTRICT

Austin Scott

GEORGIA's 8th DISTRICT

Doug Collins

GEORGIA's 9th DISTRICT

Jody Hice

GEORGIA's 10th DISTRICT

Barry Loudermilk

GEORGIA's 11th DISTRICT

Rick Allen

GEORGIA's 12th DISTRICT

Tom Graves

GEORGIA's 14th DISTRICT

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