Rob Woodall

Rob Woodall

GEORGIA's 7th DISTRICT

Washington Watch - 9/17/18

2018/09/17

FIRST THREE APPROPRIATIONS BILLS ARE GOING TO THE PRESIDENT ON TIME

On Thursday, the House approved three appropriations bills in advance of the September 30th deadline—that’s when the current government funding law expires.  These bills provide a years’ worth of stable funding for programs within the Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch Appropriations accounts.  First and foremost, this legislation bolsters our nuclear security needs, increases resources for our military personnel, and provides the highest dollar amount ever to the Department of Veterans Affairs and those programs that are so essential to our servicemen and women. 

Not only that, but this package of bills is a success story for a Congress that has had trouble finding consensus for funding our government on time. Now, for the first time in more than a decade, we’ve sent three full appropriations bills to the President’s desk before current funding expires.  By passing these bills, we are on track to avoid a disruptive and costly government shutdown and provide certainty for our veterans and our growing economy! And when we return to Washington next week, I expect that we’ll complete two more bills. Congress and the President are working together to serve the American people, and that is something to be proud of and support.

 

HOUSE PASSES DOZENS OF BIPARTISAN MEASURES TO HELP AMERICANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

I know that when you read the news or turn on your television, it is easy to believe that bipartisan success in Congress is rare, but I can assure you that legislative achievements gained by reaching across the aisle are a defining characteristic of the 115th Congress. I often say that as Americans, there is more that unites us than divides us, and that couldn’t be more evident than last week as the House took action and passed several pieces of legislation – supported by both Republicans and Democrats – to better serve our friends and neighbors.

One of these bills, H.R. 6198, the “Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 2018,” which unanimously passed the House, completes a reorganization of part of the Department of Homeland Security – the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office – so that we have the tools we need to thwart biological threats and threats from weapons of mass destruction. Ensuring that our federal agencies are equipped to serve the American people is crucial to their success, and supporting their success will always be a valuable endeavor.

H.R. 3186, the “Every Kid Outdoors Act,” also passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support and grants fourth graders and their parents or guardians free admittance into our national parks and federal lands by way of the “Every Kid Outdoors” program. From running around the backyard or swinging in the local park, to playing on a youth sports team or visiting the treasures in our national parks, our children are blessed with natural resources all around them, and we must encourage them to take advantage of these riches. In fact, I have heard from a number of folks back home about their support for this program, and I am proud that the House has taken steps to reward young people and inspire them to be active and explore the world around them.

What’s more, the House came together and passed H.R. 6690, the “Fighting Fraud to Protect Care for Seniors Act of 2018,” which establishes a “smart card” pilot program that will strengthen the Medicare program by eliminating the ability of unscrupulous persons from billing for services for a beneficiary without the beneficiary’s knowledge. It is so important that we ensure that every dollar spent in the Medicare program is benefiting our seniors, and it is essential that we work to deploy the most recent technologies available to us to curb waste and inefficiency and have our government programs better serve their beneficiaries.

I believe that the answers to some of our nation’s greatest legislative challenges will come from creative, bipartisan solutions, and I commit to you that I will press for more as Congress considers even more bills in the coming weeks.

You can read more about other bills that passed the House this week below.

  • H.R. 3635 – Local Coverage Determination Clarification Act of 2018
  • H.R. 6197 – RAWR Act
  • H.R. 6227 – National Quantum Initiative Act
  • H.R. 6287 – 9/11 Memorial Act
  • H.R. 6411 – FinCEN Improvement Act of 2018
  • H.R. 6561 – Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act of 2018
  • H.R. 6662 – Empowering Seniors’ Enrollment Decision Act of 2018
  • H.R. 6720 – Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018

 

HOUSE MOVES WATER RESOURCES BILL CLOSER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DESK

On Thursday, we passed the most important bill you’ve probably never heard of (unless, of course, you’re a regular reader of my newsletter).  S. 3021, “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018,” is the latest effort to fulfill our promise to the American people to build a 21st Century infrastructure system.  This particular bill focuses on our water infrastructure, which takes on special significance here in the Seventh District.  I’m pleased to report that both of our top priorities were included in this bill—we successfully protected Lake Lanier’s clean water supply, and we raised the authorized federal funding level for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP)—Georgia’s #1 economic priority which supports more than 30,000 jobs in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties. In addition, we de-authorized older, obsolete projects and repurposed those funds toward the many critical projects that are underway throughout our state and nation.  

Click on the picture to watch my remarks on the House Floor in support of this bipartisan legislation.

 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: RESPONDING TO THE NEEDS OF AMERICA’S STUDENTS

As the school year gets into full swing, I often hear from students from all age ranges writing in to learn about our government, the issues that are important to them, or simply as a part of a school project. No matter the reason, I am happy to be of service to our students and answer whatever questions they may have, share my experiences, or listen to their concerns. Naturally, a majority of the student letters I receive speak directly to what they are experiencing in their daily lives at school and in class. Here are some interesting letters about what our students are experiencing:

Amaya from Buford

I believe students shouldn’t be forced to do so much testing in multiple years and in such a constricted time limit. High school is an institution that prepares you for college and your career. I believe Georgia can live up the that cause. I believe Georgia should allow incoming high schoolers the freedom to be able to choose what classes they want that would lead them on their correct career path. High schools have electives however there are classes that must be taken. If we open students to either have more electives or open the entire track to choice, then the graduation rate would increase and students would be more engaged simply because they chose their track.

Alexis from Lawrenceville

There are multiple classes that I take that I will not need for my desired major. I want to major in business and minor in marketing or entrepreneurship, and classes such as chemistry will not help me in my major. My fellow classmates agree that the majority of their classes do not pertain to what they want to do in their life. My fellow classmates and I think that curriculum, starting 9th grade year, should accommodate to what each student wants to do outside of high school. If the student is still undecided on what they want their major to be then they could still chose classes that interest them. This would most likely increase grades because students are actually taking classes they enjoy. Due to students having better grades and enjoying the classes they are taking, dropout rates would decrease and graduate numbers would increase.

Senjin from Duluth

An education issue that has bothered me is the number of days in a school week. Currently, Gwinnett County Public Schools adopts a five-day week schedule, however, I feel as if introducing a four-day week schedule would greatly benefit students, teachers, and other faculty members. Adopting a four-day week schedule would allow public schools to save more money and allocate those funds towards other budget spending or staff wages. Excluding Fridays would save money on resource usages, such as electricity consumption and school bus fuel. Saving funds and resource usage could prove to be beneficial especially during the harsh winter and tropical hurricane seasons.

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While most students may be too young to vote, I hope that does not discourage them from reaching out to their elected officials at every level, because their voices and experiences are important for all of us to hear. As policymakers, we strive to lead our students to success through a quality education, but, like with any other policy area, it is critical to get feedback from those on the other side of those policy decisions. In the case of K-12 education, though, the truth is that those closest to our students, including parents, teachers, and state and local education leaders, are in the best position to determine what’s best for them, and as a federal official, I have little input on matters like curriculum or school schedules. The needs of students can vary vastly from school district to school district, and even school to school. In the past, federal one-size-fits-all efforts, like No Child Left Behind, to push curriculum or testing standards have failed to produce the results we expect or to elevate our students to the educational standards we demand as a community and a country.

Rather than institute more impersonal, burdensome requirements that cannot sufficiently assess, manage, or achieve the educational outcomes for such disparate school districts across the country, I have consistently fought for more local control of our schools, where local education officials can adequately respond to the needs of our students. The most significant effort to do this has been the Every Student Succeeds Act, which became law in 2015 and devolves the vast majority of K-12 decision making authority to the individual states. Education has long been an intimately local issue and is often how many families first become involved in their communities. Our schools are proof of what success communities can see by investing in their students. A good example is the newly opened Alliance Academy in Forsyth County, which I discussed in a recent edition of my newsletter. This new alternative high school allows students to focus on building a career by pursuing unique curricula in specific pathways, such as aerospace, criminal justice, healthcare, or mechatronics, just like Alexis and Amaya proposed.

To answer Amaya, Alexis, and Senjin’s concerns directly, I would encourage them to engage with their local education leaders in their schools, on their school boards, and on the state level to discuss how changing the school schedule may improve our schools or how curriculum can be catered to better prepare students for the future. We have entrusted these local leaders with the power to change the direction of education in Georgia, and if our schools in Forsyth and Gwinnett are any example, they have done a great job and will value the students’ input. I look forward to continuing to empower our local leaders to make positive changes for our schools, and I am eager to hear from many more students throughout this school year.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP IMPROVES ENERGY REGULATIONS

Clean air is essential, and the federal government plays a big role to ensure our air stays clean through regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The energy sector also takes it upon itself to limit emissions and employ technology that helps to keep pollutants to a minimum. When this happens, it’s important for the EPA to take a look at the regulations on the books and see which ones make sense to keep folks accountable and which ones don’t. President Trump recognized this when he decided to relax regulations for the oil and gas industry, ridding them of overly burdensome and duplicative regulations and allowing them to redouble their efforts to generate cleaner energy – and more of it! Technology is evolving rapidly, and our regulatory framework should reflect that reality. If we want to keep energy costs low, ensure our country is not dependent on foreign oil, and allow energy companies to invest in clean technology, we cannot impose punitive regulations that go against that mission. We should continue to incentivize energy companies to be better stewards of the environment while keeping sensible regulations that protect the air we breathe, and the Administration’s actions last week moves us closer to both.

 

CUMMING FORSYTH MIRACLE LEAGUE BASEBALL IS THE BEST OF OUR COMMUNITY

I thoroughly enjoy sharing the stories from across the district of all the amazing and inspiring things going on each week – and sometimes, I’m fortunate enough to participate and see them take place in real-time. That was the case in Forsyth County just recently as I got to throw out a pitch at the Cumming Forsyth Miracle League baseball game. This event is a high-point for so many folks from so many different walks of life, and if you ever attend, it doesn’t take long to see why.

From the very youngest athletes to the most senior, from ages 4 to 60-plus, and from various levels of physical or intellectual disability, the Cumming Forsyth Miracle League is changing lives. And from the organizers that I spoke to, though the league requires a great deal of effort, it’s clearly a labor of love which means so much to the families involved. The camaraderie of the athletes, coaches, and participants is palpable, and the energy is immediately infectious! If you ever have the opportunity to see one of the Miracle League games, you should absolutely spend some time with these athletes and count yourself among their community of supporters. Thank you to all the organizers and athletes who made this day so special!

 

EVEN HOLLYWOOD WANTS TO VISIT THE SEVENTH DISTRICT

For anyone who has been around metro Atlanta for any length of time, we all know that the term “Hollywood of the South” has certainly been earned. From television to Internet streaming series to full-length motion pictures, production companies make the trek to Georgia on a regular basis to film their projects. In fact, the film industry in Georgia accounted for an estimated $9.5 billion in economic impact last fiscal year, with $2.7 billion in direct spending! That kind of activity is reflective of the great work Governor Deal and his economic development team have done over the past 8 years to make Georgia a great place to do business, and from the looks of what was happening on the Lawrenceville Square last week, the trend continues. An adaptation of the DC comic book “Doom Patrol” was filming on several streets, and while I can’t say I’m familiar with this particular comic, if you are, you’ll now be able to stream it in the months to come – and catch a few glimpses of some of your favorite downtown Lawrenceville destinations while you’re at it! Apparently we’re not the only ones who are fans of our community!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week I’m happy to be back home in Georgia, and I have to say that I’m very much looking forward to attending all the local events on the calendar: from meeting with students and faculty at Georgia Gwinnett College, to community leaders with our local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, to meeting with insurance and financial services professionals who are providing investing, saving, and retirement advice to our friends and neighbors. Everything that I learn from you, I take back to Washington, D.C., with me and use to inform my colleagues about how we can better craft legislation to provide real benefits to families back home.

If you have an issue that you’d like to discuss with me, or if you want to invite me to one of your local church or community organizations, please contact me at woodall@mail.house.gov.                        

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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House Clears Bipartisan, Bicameral Water Resources Legislation to Expand Georgia Ports, Protect Water Supply

2018/09/13

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the House Amendment to S. 3021, “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” – the bicameral agreement to investment in America’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water infrastructure. Of particular note to Georgians and businesses across the southeast, the agreement raises the authorized federal share of funds for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project from $492 million in 2014 to what will now be nearly $732 million to keep it on time and on track.  Without the provision, federal funding for the State of Georgia’s top economic priority would be at risk. The bill also preserves protections for Georgia’s water supply, including the Seventh District’s own Lake Lanier, by keeping Washington politics out of the ongoing tristate water dispute between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member and Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall spoke on the measure prior to its passage today, and has been highly instrumental in the legislation throughout the process.

“Today’s overwhelmingly bipartisan vote to invest in America’s water infrastructure is the result of a great deal of work, and a great deal of cooperation across the aisle,” said Rep. Woodall. “Protecting our water resources while also fulfilling our commitment to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) has been a top priority of mine since first coming to Congress, and today’s success makes me very proud of the work that got us to this point. As Georgians, we are quick to lead by example, and that reality is invaluable in securing the federal partnership we see in this final bill. This is a fantastic bill for Georgia, the entire region, and it’s a great bill for America. I look forward to President Trump signing this legislation very soon.”

Vocal support of the bill wasn’t hard to find beyond the halls of Congress, and included those ranging from local Seventh District business owners to the Georgia Ports Authority expressing appreciation for the committed effort culminating in today’s passage of S. 3021.

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

“We continue to appreciate the unwavering commitment by Georgia’s Congressional delegation to ensure this critical project has the support and resources it needs to remain on time and on track,” added Georgia Ports Authority Chief Administrative Officer Jamie McCurry. “It is a vital part of maintaining our state’s economic momentum and creating even more employment opportunities for Georgians, and Rep. Woodall’s leadership on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has been invaluable in getting us to this point today.”

Click here for more information on S.3021 or find the full text here.

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

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Washington Watch - 9/10/18

2018/09/10

INCREASING FINANCIAL LITERACY OF STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS

Student loan debt in this country stands at a whopping $1.5 trillion, affecting more than 44 million Americans, and those numbers are growing larger every year. Too many students are not making wise decisions about their education in relation to their financial futures, and are thus burdening themselves with debt for years. They need to know that there are options out there, from getting a certification for a skills-based trade at instuitions like the Alliance Academy for Innovation, which I visited last week, to attending a local school like Georgia Gwinnett College which offers a vast and affordable education right here in the Seventh District. We must do more to educate folks before they take on loans they may not be able to afford so they can make the choice for themselves on what is financially viable for them. 

That is why I was proud to support H.R. 1635, the “Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act,” which seeks to increase the financial literacy of borrowers by mandating counseling and comprehensive information about the terms of the loans they are receiving and their rights and responsibilities moving forward. Our country has some of the best universities in the world, acting as one of the greatest drivers of social mobility and technical advances across industries. If we are to maintain this high standard, we have to make sure our students understand the financial road they are about to embark on when they pursue their field of study. I’m proud of the work my colleagues have done to put this bipartisan bill together, and I know it will do a great deal to advance the next generation of students in pursuit of a higher education.

 

CELEBRATING A NEW SPACE: FOUR ORGANIZATIONS COME TOGETHER UNDER ONE ROOF TO SERVE OUR COMMUNITY

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new building on Gwinnett Drive that is now home to four local organizations that are all working to make our community an even better place to live. Specifically, Navigate Safe Harbor Gwinnett, Mending the Gap, Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity, and Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry, Inc., have all joined together under one roof to better serve our friends and neighbors by functioning as a “one stop shop” for those in need. It was an honor to be among the first to tour the new space and to learn about the different ways that each organization is working to build up our community, whether that be through lending a helping hand to those in need, providing a comfortable space to recover from the wrath of addiction, bridging the gap between generational divides, or providing much needed housing, I have no doubt that this space will not only foster further collaboration among the four organizations that occupy it, but also that it will also allow each individual organization to grow and expand to its fullest potential.  I look forward to partnering with each of the organizations that can now call this magnificent space their new home as we continue working to uplift, encourage, and engage in our community in meaningful ways.   

 
Rep. Rob Woodall and Lawrenceville community leaders celebrate the opening of the Navigate Addiction Recovery Support Center

 

HOUSE REMAINS FOCUSED ON CREATING A 21ST CENTURY INFRASTRUCTURE FOR AMERICA

We had a productive week in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this past week!  All three of my subcommittees—Highways, Aviation, and Water—held hearings on issues that affect every family I have the privilege to serve. In Highways, we discussed innovation in surface transportation. From local Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) that ease congestion and improve reliability, to smart vehicles that are being manufactured or deployed by automakers across the state, to the “highways of the future” being studied and demonstrated at The Ray facility in our own backyard, we are positioning Georgia as a national and global leader in transportation technology. In the Aviation subcommittee, we discussed innovative technologies that are changing the way the flying public thinks about air travel. One of the ideas being proposed is updating our laws and regulations to allow for an “Uber of the sky,” whereby you or I could request a seat on a flight or general aviation aircraft with the ease of ordering a taxi cab. There are no doubt many questions to be answered as we dig into these brand new frontiers of public policy, but it’s important that we continue to air out our concerns and pose substantive questions in a public hearing environment like the one we had last week.  

Lastly, during our Water Subcommittee hearing, I had a chance to speak directly with Major General Scott Spellmon, a senior official within the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). We’ve had great success with the Corps over the past two years. My partnership with homeowners, Lake Lanier stakeholders, and local business leaders has led to the approval of security camera on docks, better accessibility for disabled families, and the first water manual update in decades that will ensure Seventh District families will have enough clean, safe drinking water to accommodate our rising population for the foreseeable future. My main focus on Friday, however, was highlighting our local stewardship of water resources to Major General Spellmon. In the Seventh District, we have invested more than a billion dollars to ensure that we send back as much water to the Chattahoochee system as we can—and it’s cleaner than the water we pulled out in the first place!  If you have been following this issue with me, you’re probably aware of the debate over credit for return flows—the water that we redeposit into the watershed. I asked Major General Spellmon to consider giving our community more credit for our stewardship, thereby incentivizing other communities around the nation to do the same, and I was very encouraged by his response and his willingness to come visit our facilities and see firsthand the great work that we’re doing locally.

CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW TO WATCH THE WATER SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: CELEBRATING OUR VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN COMMUNITY

We are incredibly blessed to have one of the most diverse and vibrant communities in the country. Traveling throughout the district you will meet people who have come from all around the world to settle down in our neighborhoods. The fact that so many people immigrating to the United States decide to make Norcross, Lilburn, Cumming, Alpharetta, and all the other cities in our district home is a testament to both our hospitality and the quality of what we have to offer.  We are a richer and more prosperous community for it.  I wanted to take the opportunity in this week’s Constituent Spotlight to highlight one of those immigrant communities, the Vietnamese-American community. 

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the 10th annual Vietnamese Fall Festival in Norcross. This is an event that I look forward to every year!  With over 40,000 neighbors of Vietnamese heritage coming to the area to join in the festivities, it is one of the largest Vietnamese events in the region. If you have not attended one, I highly recommend it as a cultural experience second to none.  You will mix and mingle—as I have—with families, young and old, who are passionate about sharing their Vietnamese culture and heritage through music, pageants, games, and—of course—amazing food.

 
Rep. Rob Woodall and attendees at the 10th Annual Vietnamese Fall Festival in Norcross sign steel bars that will form the columns of the new worship center.

It is not only a pleasure to engage with the variety of cultures in our district through festivals and celebrations at home in Georgia, but it is also an honor for me to represent them in Washington, D.C., especially when constituents like Michelle from Sugar Hill write in to share support for legislation that is important to both Vietnamese-Americans and to their families abroad. 

“I would like to ask for your support of The Vietnam Human Rights Bill (H.R. 5621), proposed by Congressman Christopher Smith. Throughout Vietnam political dissidents, independent bloggers, human rights defenders and people of faith continue to be subjected to police brutality, torture and even extra-judicial killings. In the first five months of 2018, the Vietnamese government handed out 23 sentences totaling over 172 years in prison followed by 41 years of house arrest to human rights defenders and democracy advocates. By passing The Vietnam Human Rights Bill, America will send a message of hope to those who stand for freedom in Vietnam and will advance American interests in a free and prosperous Vietnam.”

As Michelle wrote, this bill will provide assistance for the development of freedom and democracy in Vietnam, while prohibiting non-humanitarian assistance unless the President certifies that the Vietnamese government has met a number of human rights requirements, including the release of political and religious prisoners. I am pleased to be a cosponsor of the “Vietnam Human Rights Act,” and I am committed to ensuring that human rights violators are brought to justice. In addition to writing to me, Michelle was able to come to visit me in my Washington, D.C., office along with the Atlanta delegation of Vietnamese advocates to personally advocate for this bill on behalf of her community. It means a lot to see this delegation come up each year to share what is important to them.

The diversity of the Seventh District is unquestionably one of our very best attributes, and it is a joy to be able to serve and represent each of the incredible cultures that contribute to our successes. 

 

OVERCOMING HOMELESSNESS, CHANGING LIVES

We live in a wonderful place. That fact certainly doesn’t insulate us from tough times, though, and whether it is us personally or our neighbors, there’s always more to the story than meets the eye. Addressing those root causes of difficulty is most often the secret to moving beyond them, and thankfully, we have some amazing folks in our midst who make it their mission to be a pillar of support for those in need – both in the immediate sense and in the long-term. If you’re not familiar with Family Promise, I’d encourage you to learn more about the work they’re doing. It is a non-profit organization with chapters in both Forsyth and Gwinnett counties that provides a 30-90 day program for families going through homelessness and poverty. The goal is to ensure they receive not only an interim home, but also the skills, tools, and resources they need to be independently successful once they graduate from the program.

Our community is fortunate to have such an organization, and the reality is, not every place can claim such service-minded citizens. Over the years, I’ve had several opportunities to see what this remarkable organization is doing first-hand, but it always makes me proud to see the continued impact they’re having on the lives of their neighbors. We lead by example in the Seventh District. The proof is all around us – and I’m grateful for each and every one.

 

A CYCLE OF SERVICE

In case you haven’t noticed – there’s a cycle of service in our community. Military personnel, first-responders, non-profits, churches, everyday individuals, and more, it just seems to never stop. When one needs help, another steps up. If more help is needed, here comes the reinforcement of another organization or neighbor. If no such organization exists, well then someone decides to create it. It’s that spirit of problem-solving we have here in the Seventh District that I brag about to my colleagues in Washington all the time. We don’t wait around for someone else to address a need, we just find a way to pull together and get it done. There is a mentality that while not every person or organization can address every need, every person has the capacity to serve another. Our different passions, talents, and abilities help guide us to the right destination, and the combined effort is something remarkable.

For former Gwinnett County firefighter, Duluth Police Department officer, and current Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy Bill Stevens, Operation One Voice is one of those callings. Lieutenant Stevens founded the organization 12 years ago, and it has since helped thousands of families of fallen or wounded Special Operations Forces. Following this year’s annual Honor Ride, 50 additional families will now be served. Thank you to Lt. Stevens and all participants in this wonderful cause – and most of all – thank you to the men and women who have given so much for America.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

During the August District Work Period, my colleagues and I heard from countless numbers of Americans – in big businesses and small from all corners of the country – that they are still concerned about the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on their businesses, workers, and families. That’s why the House is working this week to bring a small health care package to the floor that will help workers and employers better afford health care. H.R. 3798, the “Save American Workers Act of 2017,” contains the text of H.R. 1150, the “Tanning Tax Repeal Act of 2017,” H.R. 6718, which allows individuals to request yearly health insurance coverage statements, and H.R. 4616, which delays the implementation of the so-called Cadillac Tax on high value health insurance plans and places a retroactive moratorium on the employer mandate. Taken together, these bills will encourage employers to expand employee working hours, will ensure that employees can continue receiving high value health care from their employers, will help employers better comply with the ACA, and will lower unnecessary costs for health insurers.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress 

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District Connection - 9/4/18

2018/09/04

DOING OUR BEST FOR GEORGIA STUDENTS: INVESTMENTS IN OPPORTUNITY

The Seventh District produces some of the best qualified students for some of the most competitive academic institutions throughout the state and the nation, including our nation’s military academies, from West Point to Annapolis and more. And that’s thanks to our tremendous high schools, our career and technical education system, and the commitment of our local communities. It’s no wonder we have had such great success given the impressive facilities and leaders that we have right here at home. I had a chance to visit some of these sites last week during my time in Forsyth County, including the Forsyth County Public Library in Cumming and the combined campus of the Alliance Academy for Innovation and the new Junior Achievement Center. 

At the Cumming library, students are starting early with a “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program.  Reading aloud to preschoolers, toddlers, and even newborns, I was able to play a small role in helping to encourage literacy and a life-long love of reading.  Combining reading with hands-on arts and crafts, and even a surprise visit from Peter Rabbit himself, the amazing team at the Forsyth County Library had these children—and parents—anxious to come back for more.

With the help of a Federal grant from the Library Services and Technology Act, the Library system is bringing the PRIME TIME program to Forsyth County.  This six-week program is for families in underserved communities with children aged 6-10.  The PRIME TIME program brings those families together once a week to share a meal, be a part of a weekly reading session, and then participate in an open and rigorous discussion about the piece. I’m excited to see this program come to our district and even more excited to see the impact it will have on children’s lives.  Reading and learning are lifetime passions, but they begin at a young age.  Thank you to the Forsyth County Library system for all of your great work!


Congressman Rob Woodall (GA-07) reads “Peek-a-Boo Bunny” by Holly Surplice aloud to children at the Forsyth County Public Library in Cumming.

On the campus of the Alliance Academy for Innovation (AAI) in Forsyth, I was able to see the passion for learning extended into the teen years. AAI offers high school students a state-of-the-art curriculum as a way to prepare them for their future careers in five fields of study: Aerospace and Logistics; Criminal Justice and Law; Healthcare and First Responders; Hospitality and Design; and Mechatronics and Energy. This is not the high school that you and I attended.  Attracting students from every high school in the county, AAI offers students real world experience with real world instructors. With access to some of the finest technology in the state, students in health care learn in a model ambulance, students in aerospace learn in the seat of a flight simulator, and students in law learn in a mock courtroom. The school gym doubles as a robotics arena, and every student graduates with not only a high school diploma, but a real world skills certification in their field of choice.  If you haven’t been reading about the exciting curriculum at AAI, I assure you that you will see more and more great things as this school grows to full enrollment.


Congressman Rob Woodall tours the facilities at the Alliance Academy for Innovation and newly opened Junior Achievement Center. (Photo courtesy AAI Website)

In addition to offering students a first class education, AAI has also just opened its Junior Achievement Center, which I toured last week. The Center provides students from across Forsyth County—and from all across north Georgia through partnerships with other school systems—with hands-on learning to develop their financial literacy skills by spending time working in models of local and national businesses ranging from banks to airlines and food service for a more vivid understanding of the skills necessary to lead a household and even lead a business in the 21st  Century. The Junior Achievement Center has the potential to change the lives of almost 17,000 students each year through exceptional financial literacy and responsibility training. I’m proud to have this site located right here in the Seventh District to make our students prepared for an increasingly competitive academic and workforce environment. 

Each of these sites had an incredibly passionate staff dedicated to the achievement of those they serve. I was truly inspired by them and the work that they do to prepare the next generation for the future. 

 

Q&A WITH LOCAL LEADERS: TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

I also had a chance to visit with the Council for Quality Growth (CQG) in Duluth to discuss our progress on infrastructure and hear feedback on how we can be doing even better. What I heard from my friends at CQG is what I hear from Georgia job creators all over our district—yes, our economy is doing great, but we can only sustain this historic growth if our infrastructure is capable of handling it.  That means our roads, bridges, rail, ports, and airports must all be able to compete not just against neighboring states, but we must be able to compete and win against the entire world.  Georgia’s infrastructure has improved dramatically in the last several years, culminating in a #2 ranking nationwide, but we can’t afford to rest on our past success.

I headed over to Ernst Concrete in Lawrenceville to meet with employees and company leadership to see what kind of effect our #BetterOffNow policies are having on our local and statewide economy. I’m proud to tell you that business is booming! Thanks to our historic tax cuts and new infrastructure investments, Ernst Concrete’s biggest challenge these days is keeping up with demand! I was asked to consider reforming our federal laws that regulate when and if these trucks can use federal interstates to haul their product between job sites. Safety is the number one concern of all drivers in our community, including those driving trucks. With the input of community leaders and corporate citizens, we can find solutions that will build on our already strong safety record.

This is one of the many issues that I expect to delve into as we begin to consider the next major surface transportation reauthorization. You’ll recall that we enacted the FAST Act in 2015—which produced $6.8 billion overall in formula funding for Georgia, $184 million for our GA-400 improvements, and $44 million for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). That law expires in 2020, and next week in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, we’re holding three separate subcommittee hearings to begin laying the foundation for what will be the next step in our national infrastructure plan.

 

Rep. Rob Woodall visits with Ernst Concrete and the Council for Quality Growth.

Chairman Bill Shuster, who is retiring in the coming months, recently released draft legislation that was designed to spur debate and stimulate discussion on what our priorities will be in the next surface transportation law. You can read all about that proposal here, and I encourage you to get in touch with me if you find ideas you like or if you find areas where we can improve. As always, I am reachable by phone (202-225-4272) or email (woodall@mail.house.gov).

 

TRADE OFFICIALS WORK TO DELIVER ON A NEW NAFTA AGREEMENT

As many of you have likely heard, the Administration is continuing its work to follow through with its promise to restructure the more than two decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Last week was a big week for our trade officials as they worked around the clock with officials from both Mexico and Canada in hopes of delivering a final deal. I have repeatedly expressed my support of the Administration’s efforts to uphold and strengthen our free and fair trade policies, and I certainly believe the ongoing negotiations are a positive step in the right direction.

We must find ways to ensure that American workers, companies, and goods can compete with their international counterparts on a level playing field, especially in the globally competitive world in which we live. As such, I find that it would be difficult to argue that we should not modernize our current free trade agreements to prevent harming U.S. industries, workers, and consumers who rely on these agreements. In fact, I believe that if we don’t take action today to update NAFTA and our other free trade so that they are in-line with today’s ever changing technologies and security implications, we’d unduly harm the very companies that rely on such agreements. With more than 95 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, we cannot for one second overlook how important free trade deals are to the various industries that employ many of our friends and neighbors here in Georgia, including motor vehicle and aircraft manufacturing, carpet and textile, agriculture, and more. In fact, the state of Georgia's exports to Mexico and Canada in 2017 totaled more than $9.7 billion combined. 

While Congress has the ultimate say on any final NAFTA agreement that the Administration negotiates, you can be sure that I will continue to support all efforts to bring long overdue updates without doing harm to U.S. industries, workers, and consumers who rely on these agreements.

 

CELEBRATING OUR DIVERSE COMMUNITY AND SHARED VALUES

Last week I had the honor of participating in the opening of the Swaminarayan Gurukul USA’s new assembly hall in Duluth. For those who do not know, Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul USA is a non-profit organization doing great work in our community, and it maintains active chapters across the country that teach classes to promote good moral character and engage with local communities through activities like relief efforts, blood drives, and more. Most recently, the organization assisted flood relief efforts and held a food drive for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and surrounding areas. 


Rep. Rob Woodall attends the opening of the Indian Vedic cultural celebration in Duluth 

With Indian-Americans now making up as much as one sixth of Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District, places like Swaminarayan Gurukul USA-Atlanta are important places for Indian-Americans to not only pass down traditions to their children but also to promote universal values like possessing a high moral character and committing to a life of service to others. It was an honor to be invited to take part in their ceremony!

 

WORKING TOGETHER TO DEFEAT ADDICTION

While there is an undeniable heaviness surrounding the reality of drug addiction and the opioid crisis, our community is leading the charge to defeat it – and that makes me very proud. Addiction affects individuals without regard for race, religion, or socioeconomics, and the time to address it is now. Thankfully, across households, communities, and various levels of government from City Hall to Capitol Hill, we’re working to do just that. Here at home, our Forsyth County Commissioners have long been dedicated to this cause, and recently designated August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day to serve not only as a reminder of this epidemic that has damaged so many families, but also a call to action for those who have yet to get involved. 

Sadly, as the proclamation stated, overdoses are the number one cause of injury deaths per year, with one occurring approximately every eight minutes. That is untenable. Irrespective of how we got to this point, we can all agree that we must respond. That responsibility to act is why our Forsyth County Commissioners continue their work of bringing awareness and crafting solutions. It is why members of our community like Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader and State Senator Renee Unterman have been unrelenting in their efforts to help families overcome this challenge. It’s why in Congress we have made an unprecedented $4 billion investment in combating opioid addiction, and the House has passed more than 50 pieces of legislation specifically targeting areas of concern from the spread of a deadly synthetic drug known as fentanyl to ensure communities have the necessary resources to prevent and treat addiction. For each one of us, we have either been touched by drug addiction at a personal level or know someone who has. At times in the past, it has been a topic some avoided talking about, but now we’re united in our commitment to confronting and defeating it. With more work yet to do, I believe we absolutely can – and will – be successful together. 

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: HOME DEPOT IN FORSYTH

I typically highlight constituent mail in this section, but with the August recess, I have been in the district visiting and meeting many of you all, and I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight one visit. 

As anyone who has been in our district for any amount of time knows, we are growing quickly. Every day, it seems that a new store or business decides to locate in our neighborhoods. Some of those are small local entrepreneurs and family businesses, but some are large corporations that we can see no matter where we go throughout the country. Because of the sheer size and number of locations for some of these businesses, it can be difficult to picture some of them as local businesses that directly impact our communities. But, I can tell you with certainty that is not the case for the Brookwood Home Depot.

 
Rep. Rob Woodall visits with team members at the Brookwood Home Depot

I was fortunate to visit with Store Manager Lance and his team over at the Brookwood Home Depot last Wednesday. While the store itself was beautiful and their trademark customer service was on full display, what really impressed me was the store’s drive to help and give back to the community. Each of the over 100 employees that I met shared their joy for working there and what they do to help the community. Lou shared his passion for reaching out to the community, especially through their Kids Workshop, which can host as many as 600 children on a Saturday. Nick, a mechanic in the Army reserves, shared how the store works with him so he can fulfill his military duties and continue advancing through the Home Depot ranks. Lance, the store manager, talked about the opportunities they have available to employee students even when they go off to school and internship opportunities to continue a career with Home Depot. By the number of orange aprons with patches marking ten, twenty, and even thirty-plus years with the company, you can tell that the store is much more than just a job for so many of the folks I have the privilege to represent in Congress—it’s a career and a real point of pride, and their commitment to our community is special.

 

BERKMAR HIGH SCHOOL FIRST IN GEORGIA TO ESTABLISH ARCHITECTURE CHAPTER

Having visited Berkmar High School, I can attest to the fact that students and staff alike aren’t shy about thinking outside the box or casting a bold vision. Just recently, they added to the list by becoming the first – and only – Georgia high school to establish an American Institute of Architecture (AIA) chapter! The student-run organization is independent, non-profit, and works to promote architectural education, training, and practice in related fields. It also just so happens that there are already 200 Berkmar students signed up to join! At a time when we’re seeing an economy rife with opportunity – and employers always looking for skilled individuals to fill the demand – encouraging young people to develop needed skills is increasingly important. I’ve discussed at length the challenge many employers have expressed to me regarding the difficulty of finding qualified workers as well as what we’re doing to stem that tide. In Congress, we’ve done things like pass the largest – and overwhelmingly bipartisan – reform and expansion of career and technical education programs in decades, but there are also remarkable things being done right here at home. The kind of leadership and initiative demonstrated by Berkmar fits into that category, and I’m excited about what all of our combined efforts will yield going forward. Together, we’re already having a significant impact, and we’re just getting started!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

With Labor Day behind us, summer vacation is officially over, as is the House's annual August District Work Period. That means the House is back in Washington, D.C., this week to work for the American people. Along with the many hearings that House committees will be holding this week, on issues as wide ranging as health care delivery, workforce training, and surface transportation innovation, the House will be voting on two bills that my committee -- the Rules Committee -- has the privilege of bringing to the House floor.

  • H.R. 1635, the "Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act," establishes new requirements ensuring students who are receiving federal student loans, including the Pell Grant, must receive financial counseling from their institution of higher education. Student loan debt is a serious financial issue for individuals and for our economy, and for too long our young people have been given nearly unlimited amounts of loan money without knowing how that debt will affect them in their adult lives. This measure will empower students to take control of their financial futures. 
  • H.R. 4606, the "Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act," harmonizes current law with a Department of Energy proposed rule allowing the import or export of smaller amounts of natural gas to countries with which the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement. Given the vast reserves of natural gas that America is blessed with -- some 60 years’ worth of natural gas by some estimates -- it only makes sense for us to make it easier to export this important domestic product, and I look forward to the House approving this bipartisan bill this week. 

All of this and much more is going on in Washington, D.C., this week. And as always, you can check on the status of all the legislation that might be considered by visiting http://docs.house.gov. I'm excited to be back in D.C. working for you! 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 8/27/18

2018/08/27

ROB WOODALL RECEIVES THE FRIEND OF ISRAEL AWARD 

On Sunday evening, I was honored to receive the “Friend of Israel” award from the Congregation Beth Israel, led by my good friend Rabbi Levi Mentz.  I was tremendously honored to receive the award, and I am very proud of all of the work that we do in Congress to promote the very special bond between Israel and the United States.  Specifically, we discussed the strong support that Congress and the President have demonstrated for Israel over the last 18 months, from strengthened military partnerships, to relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, to enacting a number of laws to fight terrorist activities and put our common enemies on notice.  Today, our bilateral relationship has never been stronger.  I am grateful for so much positive feedback I’ve received from many of you on the important steps we’ve taken to help Israel defend itself from international hostility.

Much more than an award ceremony, though, Sunday night’s celebration was a recognition of local leaders in Forsyth County who have long dreamed that Forsyth would one day have its own synagogue. Rabbi Mentz again laid out that vision and shared the path for making it a reality.  I’m proud of the work Congregation Beth Israel does in our community, of the work Chabad of Georgia does across the state, and of the partnership that we all have supporting both the U.S. and the nation of Israel.

 
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with Forsyth Commissioner Dennis Brown, Mrs. Suzy Brown, Georgia State Representative Todd Jones and Mrs. Tracey Jones

 

AMERICANS MOURN THE PASSING OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN

As everyone knows by now, Arizona Senator John McCain died last Saturday after a brave and hard-fought battle against brain cancer. So much has been said about his life, his legacy, and his honorable service to the American people over the past few days, and you will hear more about his heroic life as his constituents in Arizona and the American people say their final goodbyes to him. A man of great character who had a deep love for America, Senator McCain will not soon be forgotten by those who knew him, nor by those who found his courage in war and in peacetime uplifting and admirable. I hope that all Americans take a moment to say a prayer for his family and friends and honor his legacy this week. 

 

SENATE MOVING FORWARD ON JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS FOR GEORGIA COURTS  

This August has turned out to be a busy one for confirming more of President Trump’s nominees, particularly those to the judiciary. Just last week, the Senate announced that they will soon vote to confirm Judge R. Stan Baker to be U.S. District judge for the Southern District of Georgia. The native Georgian and University of Georgia School of Law graduate is an impressive choice to fill the vacancy here in Georgia, and I am pleased that the Senate is so close to confirming him, as it’s already taken almost a year from his initial nomination to get to this point. And this comes just weeks after the Senate confirmed another Georgian, Justice Britt Cagle Grant, to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit in Georgia. Justice Grant, as you may know, used to clerk for another justice awaiting confirmation, the Honorable Brett M. Kavanaugh. Our state is blessed to have such qualified individuals serving our communities in such a capacity, and I am proud they have dedicated their lives to such a noble cause. I look forward to having my colleagues in the Senate complete their work to confirm the pending nominations before them. 

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES CHANGES TO FEDERAL ENERGY RULES

In 2015, President Barack Obama began implementing an unprecedented federal takeover of American energy sources that threatened to further slow economic growth, raise electricity bills for those who could least afford it, and cede the global energy boom to foreign competition.  The rule involved enormous costs, yet even Obama Administration officials and carbon control advocates admitted at the time that this rule would have, at best, a marginal impact on global carbon output.  Fortunately, President Trump announced last week that America would be replacing the misguided Obama-era “Clean Power Plan” with a new stewardship vision, the “Affordable Clean Energy Rule,” which allows states to take the lead on regulating energy products to best serve state needs and take advantage of state opportunities.  Rather than simply waging an ideological war on coal as the “Clean Power Plan” did, this new rule will put states and local communities in charge to ensure that both our legacy and renewable energy sources remain plentiful and available to continue fueling our economic boom. We’ve seen first-hand here in Georgia, with the simultaneous expansion of Plant Vogtle and the explosion of Georgia solar energy resources, how state and local entities can work together to spur energy innovation. Georgia has led and done it, and I know that every other state can do it too. 

 

TRADE UPDATE: THWARTING CHINA’S UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES 

With the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it can be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing news cycle, much less understand how certain changes or events might affect your family, company, or even your retirement investments. For that reason, I want to take this opportunity to update you on the Administration’s efforts to combat China’s unfair trade policies that for too long have put U.S. industries and workers at a disadvantage. 

As many of you may recall, the President last August instructed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to determine whether to investigate under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the laws, policies, practices, or actions of the Government of China. In a 215 page executive report detailing the USTR’s findings, it was determined that “the acts, policies, and practices of the Government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation covered in the investigation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.” In order to combat China’s egregious tactics and trade policies, the Administration decided that it would be in the best interest of American companies and workers to get tough on China by applying certain trade remedies pursuant to Section 301 – the statutory means by which the United States enforces U.S. rights under trade agreements and addresses unfair foreign barriers to U.S. exports. While I have previously expressed my concerns about simply cobbling together tariffs to meet a certain dollar threshold in hopes of addressing our trade deficits, I do understand that there are valid instances in which we must use the tools at our disposal to protect our national security infrastructure and intellectual property rights, but we must do so in a narrow and targeted manner.  

To date, tariffs on nearly 1,100 imported goods from China have gone into effect, many of which have been specifically applied to target China’s unfair practices in areas of development that the Chinese government would like to bolster – areas that U.S. companies are typically front-runners in – as well as China’s “Made in China 2025” plan (i.e. aircraft and aircraft components, pharmaceuticals and advanced medical devices, and agricultural machinery and equipment). While I support U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and the President doing all that they can to tear down any and all unfair trade barriers and subsidies and bring strong free trade to all of our trading partners, I would be remiss if I told you that I don’t expect there to be any bumps along the way. That’s because it is no easy task trying to determine which goods China’s unfair practices benefit and which they harm.  

As such, I am pleased that Ambassador Lighthizer has established a Section 301 product exclusion process that provides for an open and transparent process that will work to further refine the list of goods subject to the enacted tariffs.  For some manufacturers here in Georgia, there simply are not any domestically produced alternatives for their inputs.  In this situation, tariffs punish American companies much more than they punish the Chinese government, so an exclusion process was created to recognize and correct bad outcomes for American companies.  If you or someone you know have any questions about what actions have been taken pursuant to Section 301or have questions about the product exclusion process, I do hope you’ll reach out to my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-4272 so that my team can work to get you the answers you seek.  I look forward to partnering with you to achieve the free and fair trade that all of America wants and needs.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: ENSURING THE LAW KEEPS UP WITH TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT 

In today’s modern age, we find that technology moves and advances so rapidly that it’s nearly impossible to fully anticipate the consequences of those advances. From in-app purchases on smart phone applications to licensing for online music streaming services to the potential of drones flying overhead and self-driving cars on our streets, new technological advances have brought both wondrous capabilities and a host of challenges that very few imagined just a few years ago. The truth is that technology always moves faster than the law, and as such, there is a constant need to update our nation's many laws.  This week’s Constituent Spotlight highlights another good example of a problem many of us never could have envisioned: 3D printed guns. 

Sarah from Alpharetta: 

You have GOT to do something about the blueprints for the 3D printed guns going online tonight. This is a safety nightmare. Take a stand against the plans being released. Protect people's lives. 

Christine from Cumming: 

Please stop the imminent release of 3D printed plastic gun plans. This can only make our community less safe. 

Leonard from Lawrenceville: 

I am concerned about the Trump Administration allowing downloadable 3D printed guns to be legal.  

_____________________________________________________________________________ 

From all of the news coverage, this issue appears to be a new one, but in fact it has been the subject of years of litigation already, and I expect it will continue to be.  Whenever you hear about guns and firearms, you expect to be talking about Second Amendment issues, but that isn’t the case here.  The releasing of plans or blueprints—or the prohibition on that release—is a First Amendment issue—freedom of speech, and as extended, freedom of expression.  Let me start at the beginning, and I will explain.

If you do not know, 3D printing has just recently entered the mainstream. Instead of printing an image on paper, 3D printing actually creates, or “prints,” a layer-by-layer, three-dimensional object. While the idea of printing a 3D object may sound like something from science fiction, but in fact, we have cutting-edge, international industry leaders in 3D printing based right here in the Seventh District.  The potential for this technology is nearly endless with examples of applications ranging from the 3D printing of mechanical parts, medical devices, houses, and even food.  However, as Sarah, Christine, and Leonard point out, this potential also includes the production of firearms.

The issue of 3D printing a firearm started with the so-called “Liberator,” when the plans for a 3D printed gun created by Defense Distributed were published online. Soon after its announcement, the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanded that the files for the “Liberator” be taken down, citing its violation of the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations, and the files were removed. This was just recently settled after years in court, when in July, the State Department recognized Defense Distributed’s First Amendment right to publish the plans. 

Existing federal law already prohibits the manufacture or possession of undetectable plastic firearms, so the discussion on this issue has never been a Second Amendment issue.  It has been a First Amendment issue about whether a company is free to share its ideas and work product.  We all revere the First Amendment and its protections, but as demonstrated by Sarah, Christine, and Leonard’s concerns, Americans grapple constantly with the continuum of freedom and security.

To Leonard’s concern specifically, the Trump Administration is not working to legalize printed guns.  In fact, to the contrary, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made crystal clear that the Department of Justice will prosecute producers of any products that violate federal law.  In a statement, the Attorney General said:  

"Under federal law, it is illegal to manufacture or possess plastic firearms that are undetectable. Violation of this law is punishable by up to five years in prison. Such firearms present a significant risk to public safety, and the Department of Justice will use every available tool to vigorously enforce this prohibition. We will work with federal, state and local law enforcement to identify any possible cases for prosecution… We will not stand for the evasion, especially the flouting, of current law and will take action to ensure that individuals who violate the law by making plastic firearms and rendering them undetectable, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent." 

Further, Attorneys General from nineteen states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Defense Distributed to stop the publishing of the plans, and an injunction was issued to block the plans from being published. That case is expected to be decided this week. What’s more, the largest online retailer, Amazon, has announced that it will not allow the plans to be available through its website.  

I am an ardent supporter of our Bill of Rights, all of the amendments from the First and Second to the Tenth. Our system of justice punishes actions, not ideas. As Attorney General Sessions said, producing undetectable firearms has long been against the law and will be vigorously prosecuted.  Considering the promise of 3D printing and its potential applications, however, we are sure to see even more and as yet unforeseen legal conundrums arise. Some of these will be handled by local community and state laws. Some of them will be addressed by Congress. I look forward to partnering with you to unleash the innovative potential of new technologies while holding fast to our traditional understandings and expectations of freedom and security.

 

LANIER FORSYTH ROTARY RAISES THOUSANDS FOR CHARITABLE CAUSES ACROSS COMMUNITY 

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to visit with and get to know the great folks of the Lanier Forsyth Rotary, so this bit of news didn’t surprise me, but it sure does reaffirm what I know to be true about them: they are true leaders who let their example do the talking. Raising $85,000 for your neighbors in need is a remarkable labor of love, and this is just one of their efforts! This can be said of Rotarians all throughout the Seventh District, and any time you encounter these men and women, you’re better off for it. They are, after all, a service organization by definition, so one would expect to see this kind of involvement, but the truth is not every community can boast of a group like Lanier Forsyth Rotary, much less multiple Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions clubs, and so many more in every corner of the region. In the Seventh District, we are so fortunate to have this abundance character – and that matters. When I visit these groups, I often share with them my appreciation not only for the work they’re doing, but how they’re doing it. They don’t care what your politics are. They don’t care what your background is. They only care that you show up and help make the community better, tend to someone in need, and be a part of a solution. Time and again, this is what we see, and it’s the legacy not just of a particular club or organization, but who we are as a community. Thank you all for what you do to make that a reality, and make our voice in Washington that much stronger.

 

FIVE GWINNETT COUNTY TEACHERS WIN STATE HONORS FOR CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION 

In case you were wondering – our community is full of fantastic teachers! Last week, a total of five Gwinnett County Public Schools teachers were honored at the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Educators (GACTE) Summer Leadership Conference for their respective fields, and are now eligible for the overall GACTE Teacher of the Year Award. I don’t know if you saw the recent report that Gwinnett County’s population rose by more than 16,000 last year to reach over 910,000, but there are reasons folks continue to make their home here – and top notch schools is a big one! That said, this creates a tremendous need for talented teachers, and thankfully we have them in our midst. Congratulations to each of these dedicated men and women!

It also just so happens that last month Congress passed – and the President signed – the biggest federal overhaul of career and technical education programs in decades to further partner with remarkable communities like the Seventh District of Georgia. We want to leverage that success such that communities getting it right have even more freedom to excel, and those who have yet to find that level of success will have needed resources to ensure young people are receiving the skills and training they need for a dynamic and evolving economy. I recently wrote more about this in the Gwinnett Daily Post, and if you missed it, you can find it here. At the core of this legislation was the knowledge that our communities, teachers, and mentors here at home are the cornerstone – not Washington – and teachers like these five recently recognized serve as a wonderful example of our broader educators across the district. Best of luck, and thank you again for what you do!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD 

And this week and upcoming Labor Day weekend have even more fantastic community events to take part in. You could spend time in Norcross at the annual Vietnamese Fall Festival this weekend getting a taste of Vietnam right here in Gwinnett County. You could celebrate at Stone Mountain Park with its Labor Day Weekend Everyday Heroes Celebration. Or you can check-out any of the dozens of great activities in Forsyth County. Whatever you do this coming weekend, I hope that you get to spend some quality time with family and friends enjoying your day off!  

This month has been tremendously valuable to me as I’ve been able to visit with you in the community, at your places of worship, at your cultural events, and at your businesses and schools.  Everything that I’ve learned from you is going back to Washington, D.C., with me to help me bring our values and our successes to the rest of America. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 8/20/18

2018/08/20

GEORGIA'S TRANSPORTATION NETWORK IS #2 IN THE U.S.  

Georgians deserve world-class infrastructure, and as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, that’s one of my top priorities in Congress.  Georgia’s infrastructure has improved dramatically in the last several years, culminating in a #2 ranking nationwide this year!  This success hasn’t happened by accident; smart investments and effective federal, state, and local partnerships are ensuring taxpayers are getting the best possible value for our dollars.  In the Seventh District, we have great leadership at the local level.  Our county commissions in Forsyth and Gwinnett work cooperatively to maximize every nickel.  Under the Gold Dome in Atlanta, our state legislators have worked with Governor Deal and GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry to prioritize infrastructure investments like those funded through HB 170.  To push accountability and efficiency forward at the federal level, I helped craft and pass the FAST Act, the first major surface transportation law at the federal level in more than a decade.  The FAST Act not only provided long-term certainty so state planners and local businesses can budget responsibly, but it also created a grant program that recently delivered $184 million to the GA-400 Express Lanes and $44 million to our ports, which support thousands of jobs in the Seventh District alone.  From protecting Lake Lanier, to improving the safety and convenience of air travel, to making sure our road projects are relieving congestion, our community has an enormous stake in infrastructure policy.  We still have much work to do, but this recognition is an encouraging sign that we are moving in the right direction.

 

CELEBRATING NATIONAL HEALTH CENTER WEEK WITH GEORGIA HIGHLANDS MEDICAL SERVICES 

Unless you work in the healthcare field or have recently paid a visit to your local community health center, you may not have known that last week was National Health Center Appreciation Week – a week dedicated to not only celebrating the medical professionals who serve more than 27 million patients, but to also recognizing the collective successes of the more than 1,400 organizations that deliver care in more than 10,400 locations across the country. I was thrilled to join my good friends over at Georgia Highlands Medical Services to recognize their work and to celebrate National Health Center Week with them.  

By the numbers, Georgia Highlands Medical Services’ five medical centers serve over 18,000 patients in our north Georgia communities. Of those 18,000 patients, 76% are living below the poverty line and 51% are uninsured. I frequently talk about how those closest to our communities are best suited to serve our neighbors, and Georgia Highlands Medical Services, along with the 34 other Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) throughout the state, are a prime example of how smart and targeted federal investments are allowing dedicated health care workers to do just that. While emphasizing the need for patients to have financial skin in the game by paying what they can on a sliding scale, the three FQHCs in our communities have leveraged $4.6 million in federal investments to serve more than 24,200 patients in the Seventh District alone.

Rep. Rob Woodall, Mayor Troy Brumbalow, and the fantastic Georgia Highlands team in Cumming 

Community health centers enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress, and I am always proud to partner with Georgia Highlands Medical Services and their team of dedicated and competent medical professionals to ensure that our friends and neighbors have access to cost-effective and high-quality primary and preventive health care services.  Community health centers not only improve the quality of life in our community, but they also save the health care system $24 billion annually by reducing the need for patients to seek care in costlier settings like emergency departments.  This is not an easy task, and I am continuously grateful to all of the community health centers that have made it their passion and their mission to provide top-notch health care services to those who need it most. 

 

WOODALL RECEIVES NATIONAL BUSINESS LEADERSHIP AWARD 

When our businesses see Washington as a place that believes in their ability to hire more and invest more in America, optimism grows for employers and employees. This surge in optimism is just one of the many factors that gives way to a strong economy.  With the elimination of needless red-tape and legislation like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has increased job growth by 215,000 full-time jobs just this year, more and more families are seeing not only greater opportunities for work but also additional opportunities for better, higher-paying jobs.  

It is my mission in Congress to continue to build on that success, and I am honored to have received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise Award for 2017. Each year, the U.S. Chamber presents those House and Senate Members who show strong support for the business community with the Spirit of Enterprise award based on their voting record in Congress. From removing unnecessary roadblocks that hindered startups from getting the investments they need, to passing historic tax reform that will allow businesses to have the resources to reinvest in their employees and their businesses, I was proud to support these measures to reduce the harmful government overreach which had stifled our economic growth for far too long. 

I know that our community’s economic success is due to the people who make our community great, and I’m proud of the steps this Congress has taken to unleash economic opportunities to support families across the country. 

 

DISTRICT EMPLOYER FOCUS:  SOLVAY, LEADING THE WAY IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING RIGHT HERE IN GEORGIA 

I had the pleasure last week of visiting Solvay's Alpharetta location to tour their facility and to learn more about how they are driving future success by pushing the boundaries of chemistry. While this wasn't my first visit to Solvay's Alpharetta location, I can say with absolute certainty that I am just as impressed with their cutting-edge operations now as I was the first time I visited. For those of you who might not be familiar with Solvay, their more than 26,000 employees in 61 countries work each day to enhance and engineer advanced materials and special polymers that can be found in products that many of us use frequently -- planes, batteries, and medical devices just to name a few. 

That said, Solvay’s Alpharetta facility focuses solely on building new products with special polymers that are not only designed to withstand the demands of the industry they are being developed for, but are done so with the consumer in mind. For instance, I was amazed to see the work that Solvay’s Dental Lab is undertaking to redesign removable partial dentures to not only make them more durable, comfortable, and metal-free, but also making them more affordable for those who could benefit from them. I have no doubt that the products coming out of this lab will raise the bar for the dental industry, and I am proud to know that such products and materials are being engineered and developed right here in the Seventh District by over 300 of our friends and neighbors. 


Rep. Rob Woodall meets with team members at Solvay in Alpharetta 

 

TALKING TAX REFORM IN PEACHTREE CORNERS

I’m grateful to everyone who took time from their busy schedules to participate in the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association’s (UPCCA) community meeting focusing on federal tax policy changes. While we discussed everything from tax reform and recent economic success to the challenges we still face ranging from healthcare to immigration reform, one thing is very clear: our willingness to engage with one another makes our community stand out as an example to others pursuing solutions. The UPCCA has been an active leader on this front for years, and as Peachtree Corners continues to grow and prosper with Mayor Mike Mason at the helm, this organization’s continued good work is even more important to reaching our long-term goals. I’d like to thank UPCCA President Sherry Ferguson for inviting me to come out and share, and again express my gratitude for the great local leadership exhibited not only by UPCCA, but by Mayor Mason and everyone working to make Peachtree Corners the great place to call home that it is! 


Rep. Woodall speaks to United Peachtree Corners Civic Association August meeting

For years now, when surveyed, America’s business leaders have named America’s tax and regulatory environment as the biggest impediment to their success.  As I shared with UPCCA, Congress has responded with bill after bill to make America more competitive on the global stage, and today, America’s business leaders cite their struggle to find enough skilled workers as their biggest problem.  What a wonderful change!  American workers can compete with any workers on the planet if the playing field is level.  The Tax Bill took a major step in that direction, and we are continuing to work to do more, including signing a major Career and Technical Education Act into law to ensure that American workers have access to the best skills and training in the world, as well.  In survey after survey, optimism is rising, problems are being solved, and dreams are being achieved.  I couldn’t be more proud of the profound role that our community plays in making that a reality.

 

SERVING SENIORS FRIENDSHIP AND FOOD IN GWINNETT COUNTY 

Our community is blessed with folks who have a heart for service, and it truly shows in the partnership between Gwinnett County and local volunteers in ensuring home delivered meals make it to food insecure families across the county. I had an opportunity to be with Gwinnett County leadership and volunteers last week—in the conference room, in the kitchen, and on the road—seeing this food ministry first-hand.  We have a moral responsibility to care for those who are in need, and I am so proud that folks in Gwinnett and Forsyth take that responsibility seriously.  The federal government provides seed money for local leadership projects like Gwinnett’s home delivered meal program.  As your congressman, I work to be a committed federal partner supporting a shared mission and to provide these kinds of organizations with the flexibility they need to best serve our neighbors.  With our senior population growing rapidly, the need for these types of services will only continue to grow, and I look forward to working with local governments and local charitable organizations to ensure that we succeed for our seniors.

Rep. Rob Woodall joins the great folks at Gwinnett County Community Services for meal delivery

 

THE WEEK AHEAD  

The spotlight will be on U.S. Senate this week in Washington, D.C., as it works on executive and judicial nominations and moving appropriation bills.  In addition, two hearings this coming week will focus on the U.S. relationship with Russia. I know that this has been an extremely important and concerning issue for so many of you, as it has been for me as well, and I’m so pleased that both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will be holding simultaneous hearings this Tuesday examining U.S.-Russia relations, the effectiveness of current Russia sanctions, and the potential for future next steps on sanctions. I’m especially pleased that both of Georgia’s senators will be involved in this process as Senator Johnny Isakson is on the Foreign Relations Committee and Senator David Perdue is on the Senate Banking Committee. Our views are certainly going to be well represented! 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 8/13/18

2018/08/13

GWINNETT’S HOME OF HOPE: WORKING TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF POVERTY 

I talk frequently about how proud I am to live in and represent communities where helping your neighbor is your most important job. That is just what the folks over at Gwinnett’s Home of Hope have made it their mission to do, and I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with them last week to see how they are helping those of us who have fallen on hard times. For those of you who don’t know, the Home of Hope at the Gwinnett Children Shelter provides services and shelter for homeless children and their mothers and works side-by-side with the residents to help put them back on their feet.  Gwinnett’s Home of Hope is one of a few organizations that serves mother and child as a unit, working with residents to ensure that they have not only a roof over their heads for the moment, but also the necessary tools for the future –a job, a home, a strong support system, financial counseling, and even a savings account cushion – to be independent and successful.


Rep. Rob Woodall with Home of Hope Executive Director Maureen Kornawa

What’s more, Gwinnett’s Home of Hope carries out its mission without any help from the federal government, not because it doesn’t need the additional funds, but because the restrictions that come with receiving even one federal dollar would force Home of Hope to change its operations.  As servants in a community, we all believe in second chances, extending a helping hand, and breaking the cycle of poverty.  I could feel this passion in all of those working at Home of Hope. Executive Director Maureen Kornawa, Home of Hope board members, and Home of Hope staff all shared their stories with me so that I can share those truths with Congress.  In this way, we can make the federal government a better partner to us locally, and by sharing with other jurisdictions those ideas that are working for us here at home, we can make a difference across the nation.  I am extremely grateful to the staff and residents for opening their doors and sharing their experiences with me.   

SPOTLIGHT ON LOCAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS: OUR COMMUNITY’S CREDIT UNIONS  

This summer, the House and Senate passed, and the President signed into law the most significant financial services reform since I’ve been in Congress. This law, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, recognizes that the risks of Wall Street and the needs of Main Street are very different.  In the aftermath of the last financial crisis, regulators are rightly focused on Wall Street’s large financial institutions.  But the explosion of regulation targeting Wall Street has taken a toll on Main Street too.  Those regulations were not simply overwhelming local financial institutions, but they were also preventing local businesses, entrepreneurs, and even families from accessing the capital and credit that they needed.  In a bipartisan, bicameral way, Congress recognized the new stranglehold that was threatening community financial institutions and came together to change the law.

Eliminating unnecessary red tape and unintended burdens will allow credit unions and community banks to focus on investing in families and business here in our district rather than filling out mountains of unnecessary federal paperwork.  Was Congress able to solve everything for everybody?  No, but we did take a huge step forward for the benefit of our local community.  I am grateful for all of the feedback I received on these reforms, and I look forward to continuing to partner with all of the local business leaders who believe in our community to ensure that we have maximum flexibility to address local needs and concerns here at home.


Rep. Rob Woodall and the fantastic team at Delta Community Credit Union in Duluth

From Peach State Credit Union in Lawrenceville, to Delta Community Credit Union and Georgia United Credit Union in Duluth, and more, local financial leaders shared their stories—and their members’ stories—with me.  I have no doubt that many of you belong to the membership rolls of these credit unions and have accounts at our community banks.  The goal of regulatory reform is never really to help an institution; it is always meant to help the citizen and the customer.  Armed with feedback, both about how the new law is helping and with ideas about how to help even more, I can continue to make a difference for our community.  In Congress, when it comes to financial services reform, my focus has been on ensuring that consumers are protected and local financial services organizations have the flexibility to address your needs—whether that’s a small business loan, a mortgage, or a simple savings account.  Congress is united rather than divided by this goal, and I am pleased to see that these new reforms—now the law of the land—are making a difference.

FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE  

Education is the cornerstone of any community, and the continued tradition of excellence in our schools is a large part of what makes the Seventh District a great place to live. The efforts of our students, teachers, and administrators are pivotal to that success, and I’m proud that once again, their great work is being recognized as Forsyth County Public Schools was recently named the top county school district in the state. 

Every time I meet with students - whether in the classroom or in Washington, D.C. – I see clearly that these young people are passionate about using their ideas to build a better world around them. That passion does not appear overnight; it’s cultivated, and the educators and families here at home who dedicate themselves to lifting and empowering our students are a large part of our continued success. From boasting half of Georgia’s National Blue Ribbon Award winners to last week’s news of its students posting top marks on this year’s milestones, this is just another example out of how Forsyth County continues to go above and beyond. I know I speak for everyone when I say we are grateful for all those who have made our schools models of success, and I look forward to more great news like this that will surely follow this school year!

And, with Forsyth winning top county honors, if you are wondering which district won top “city school” honors, wonder no more: it was also a Seventh District school system—Buford City!  Education excellence is expected in our community, but it doesn’t come easy.  From property taxes to parents to the right school personnel, thousands in our community work together to ensure that our children are able to maximize their potential.  Thank you to all who demonstrate the extraordinary commitment that produces extraordinary results!  

RETIREMENT SAVINGS IN FOCUS:  LOCAL LEADERS SHARE IDEAS

Much like our local financial institutions, our local financial advisors are 100% invested in the success of our community.  As the American economy improves, Americans are saving more, but retirement continues to be a concern as the Baby Boomers begin their golden years.  NAIFA—the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors—has a local chapter here, and I visited with them last week to understand better the challenges that their clients—our neighbors—are facing.

With four months remaining in year, much more legislation will be heading to the President’s desk for his signature.  The Congress’ #BetterOffNow policies are supporting an amazing economic renewal across the state, and with that renewal comes opportunity.  NAIFA shared with me its top legislative priority on behalf of its clients—the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act—and I asked of NAIFA that its members continue to share with me the challenges that their clients are bringing to them.  Together, we can make a difference.  The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act would allow small employers to pool together to offer shared retirement plans to their employees, improve income portability over the course of an individual’s life, and take several other steps to increase retirement security and financial peace of mind for working families.  Saving for retirement is never easy, but there are real impediments today, and we do have real opportunities to do better for all citizens.

When I return to Washington, I will discuss these ideas with the bill’s bipartisan authors to see where I can help to make a difference.  In the meantime, if you are involved in this industry or have retirement concerns of your own, I encourage you to take a look at the bill and reach out to me with your feedback.   

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: AMERICAN MILITARY POWER IN SPACE 

Last Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence announced the Trump Administration’s proposal to create a sixth branch of our Armed Forces—the Space Force. This new branch would be responsible for protecting U.S. vital interests in space, as we see strategic competitors, like China and Russia, among others, purse space warfare capabilities which could threaten the U.S. during times of conflict and even during times of peace. Considering that the last time the U.S. created a new separate military service was the Air Force in 1947, many of you have shared your thoughts on what would be the most significant restructuring of our military in my lifetime.  

Shannon from Lawrenceville: 

SPACE FORCE, are you kidding me?!? This is beyond ridiculous. Do not waste the money on an idiotic space force when that money could go towards vets, or helping the homeless, or women's shelters, or any number of worthy causes that would actually help Americans. Do not let a juvenile man-child make you look like a fool. Stand up for your fellow Americans. Stand up for US. Say NO to SPACE FORCE.

Tom from Cumming: 

I certainly understand that we need to protect our satellites and whatever else may be in space, but do we really need to add more bureaucracy to the military? Should the Air Force continue to handle this? 

_____________________________________________________________________________ 

While it may sound like something from a science fiction movie or television show to talk about a Space Force, and it may remind many of us of President Reagan’s STAR WARS, the reality is that space is integral to today’s American way of life and our national security. We rely on satellites for GPS (operated by the U.S. Air Force), weather forecasting, communications, and military efforts every day.  The U.S. has long held the advantage in space, but as technology has advanced and developed, we are now seeing rivals developing the capabilities to catastrophically hinder our country. In fact, our intelligence community has warned that Russia and China may be able to shoot down our satellites within a couple years.

Calls for a new Space Force are not new. Currently, the Air Force, with its Air Force Space Command leads our efforts in space, and many of the functions of the new Space Force would be a reorganization of that current entity, rather than a new creation. As Vice President Pence said in his announcement of the proposal, “the Space Force will not be built from scratch.” The idea for an independent branch of the military was floated last year during discussions on the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but was ultimately not included. In this year’s NDAA, Congress directed the Department of Defense to establish a subordinate unified command for carrying out joint space warfighting operations. That said, according to a 2016 GAO report, our assets in space are “fragmented across approximately 60 stakeholder organizations within the Department of Defense (DOD), the Executive Office of the President, the Intelligence Community, and civilian agencies,” and it concluded that officials and experts do not know who is in charge of our space defense. Clearly, we can’t adequately address the challenges of protecting American infrastructure in space if we don’t know who is in charge.

Much like we have recently done by elevating U.S. Cyber Command to the level of an independent Unified Combatant Command in response to the rise of cyber threats, we must do more to remain dominate in space and protect our vulnerabilities in the modern age. There are many details of creating a new Space Force as a new military branch that have yet to be discussed, and for those of you who have concerns about the idea, please know that it can only be done by an act of Congress.  Certainly, any restructuring of this magnitude would be complicated, and Congress would want to hear input from all sides, knowing that ultimately, national security is an issue that unites America rather than divides it.  I am interested to see the details of the Administration’s ideas, and then I look forward to partnering with my colleagues if any legislation ultimately moves forward.  

FORSYTH COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS RECOGNIZED AS BEST IN STATE

When words such as valor, heroism, professionalism, and dedication are used to describe the conduct of your local law enforcement officials, it bodes well for the safety and integrity of your community. Thankfully, that’s exactly the kind of standard we have come to expect here in the Seventh District. In case you missed it last week, two of Forsyth County’s own were honored for excellence in the line of duty at the Georgia Sheriff’s Association annual awards banquet. Lt. Scotty Spriggs was awarded the “Deputy Sheriff of the Year Award for Valor,” and Cpl. Page Cash received the award for “Deputy of the Year for Professionalism.” To think about the kind of fellow officers with which they serve, it makes their accomplishments even more impressive. Having had the opportunity to visit with, and get to know, so many of our officers across the region, I can tell you the bar is set very, very high. I have no doubt the entire field of officers eligible for these awards was more than deserving, but I sure am proud of Lt. Spriggs and Cpl. Cash for earning this distinction. What’s more, though, is the appreciation I feel towards the men and women who assume the daily risk of wearing the badge to serve and protect our community. Thank you to each and every one! 

NATIVE GWINNETTIAN, MAJOR-LEAGUER, PARTNERS WITH CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA

What happens when you combine summertime, a baseball diamond, a local Major League Baseball star, and the tremendous work of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA)? Well, folks in Metro Atlanta got a glimpse of that recently when Parkview High graduate and former Atlanta Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur got back on the field to participate in the inaugural Home Run Derby in support of CHOA and to benefit the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Now we all remember Jeff hitting his fair share of home runs during his time in the Major League, but last week he was on the receiving end of that process as he pitched to young people like Luke England – who I’m happy to say is a cancer-survivor and former CHOA patient, and also just so happened to clear three over the fence! I’ve said over and over how proud I am of what those in and around our community do for others, and this is yet another example. No matter the issue, topic, or concern, we have so many talented, dedicated people in our midst willing to use their abilities to improve someone else’s life, and I’m grateful for it. 

THE WEEK AHEAD  

This week is going to be a celebration of the great work that our friends and neighbors in the Seventh District are doing every day. First, it’s National Health Center Week, and that means I’m going to spend some time with the great folks at Georgia Highlands Medical Services in Cumming learning about what new services they are bringing to our community. And as our children get back to school for the 2018-2019 school year, I’ll also be spending time with the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) Superintendent Mr. J. Alvin Wilbanks as he gives the community his annual “state of the schools” address. This is always a fantastic opportunity for us to hear about the amazing students, teachers, administrators, and families who make our GCPS system so special. And of course, I’m always available to meet with you in my District office or at your next community event. Just email me and we will get the ball rolling!  

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 8/6/18

2018/08/06

AMERICAN FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES ARE “BETTER OFF NOW” 

For those of you who are regular subscribers to my newsletter, you know all about the legislative success we have had here in Congress and the great economic news that has developed since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law – and this week is no different! The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its new jobs report, showing a dip in unemployment to 3.9% after adding 157,000 jobs to the economy in fields like business services, technology, and manufacturing. A recent study has also come out breaking down the benefits of the tax package by state and Congressional district. It shows that all filers in the Seventh District will see an average decrease of 10% in their income tax in 2018, and that includes a family of four who will save, on average, more than $2,400 this year and almost $40,000 over ten years!  

I was able to share this good news with the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber this past Friday and talk with them about the great bipartisan successes we have had in Washington, like the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Program, which was just recently signed into law by President Trump and will train our workforce for the jobs available today and tomorrow.  


Rep. Rob Woodall speaks with the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce

While I will always strive to make sure I keep you up to date with the latest news through my newsletter and social media, there is now an additional resource you can utilize called Better Off Now to delve further into the way Congress has improved conditions for businesses, law enforcement, the military, and families like yours. The website even has interactive features for visitors to see the bills we have passed to put America first, deliver results for those living in rural America, and make our communities safer, amongst others. It also includes a survey so that we can hear from you about how you think we are doing.  

If you are like me and want to keep up with the latest news about the House Republican agenda, text BETTER to 50589, and, of course, you can have your family and friends subscribe to my newsletter here

 

A GROWING ECONOMY; A GROWING NEED FOR SKILLED WORKERS 

If you haven't heard enough great economic news already, then I'm happy to share some more with you. On Sunday, I was so pleased that the Gwinnett Daily Post published my most recent editorial highlighting what Congress is doing to help businesses find the workers they need and help students -- both traditional students and adults who are returning to school -- find the jobs that are going to help them provide for their families. 

 

WHITE HOUSE EXPANDS AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS 

Last week the Trump Administration expanded its rules for short-term health insurance coverage such that insurers can offer time-limited plans for one year instead of the original 3 months, and, should they wish to do so, extend the plan for a maximum of 36 months. But what is a short-term health insurance plan? Well, it is a less generous health insurance plan than what is offered on an Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange – meaning that it doesn’t have to comply with all the ACA’s rules and regulations – but it’s also a much less expensive plan. The government estimates that premiums for these short-term plans will be roughly half the cost of those sold on the ACA exchanges. For folks who may need short-term insurance because they are in between jobs, they’re unhappy with their ACA plan, or they can’t afford the high premiums and high deductibles of plans on the ACA exchanges, these short-term plans offer a choice. Now, to be clear, these plans aren’t comprehensive. They don’t cover everything that the high cost plans cover, so you have to be careful and read the fine print, but for those folks who don’t want or need an expensive, comprehensive health insurance plan, these short-term plans are a great alternative. 

 

INTERNATIONAL TRADE BENEFITS GEORGIA’S ECONOMY 

Last week, I joined the United Kingdom’s new Consul General in Atlanta, Andrew Staunton, and the UK’s new Minister of Trade Policy, George Hollingbery, to discuss US/UK trade, particularly as it impacts Georgia.  The United States is the United Kingdom’s single largest trade partner, and the U.K. is Georgia’s 7th largest trade partner. And though our two countries have long had a special relationship where we have supported each other in wartime and in peacetime, President Trump and the Brexit process have created new opportunities for us to work together. Joining us at breakfast to discuss these new opportunities were several Georgia economic development officials, and I am optimistic about the ideas that were exchanged and the relationships that were developed.  I can tell you that the deepening relationship between Georgia and the U.K. and a new bilateral trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. can put American businesses and American workers on a level playing field that will lead to even greater economic success here at home and allow our great companies to expand and thrive!  

 

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING IN MY AUGUST TOWN HALL MEETING 

For those of you who were able to join me this past Thursday during my telephone town hall meeting, please know how much I appreciated your participation and your questions. I know many of the issues we discussed during this meeting − from Social Security and healthcare reform to funding our military and tackling our national debt − remain a top concern for many in our state, and I want to assure you that they remain a top priority of mine as well.

If you were not able to join me for my latest telephone town hall, there will absolutely be more going forward, so please keep a look out for those details. You can always find those on my website or in my weekly newsletter as soon as those events are announced. One of my main focuses as I meet with families and businesses these next few weeks is to learn more about what you believe we are doing right and how you think we can do better, and your partnership is invaluable in that effort. I look forward to more great town halls like we had last week in the future, and in the meantime, I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and ideas with me

 

INTERNATIONAL PARTERSHIPS AND CELEBRATIONS: BANGLADESH

The pride that you and I take in the rich diversity of our community is no secret.  But when the rest of the nation, and even the world takes notice of that pride, I particularly enjoy it!  This past week, the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations of North America (FOBANA) held its national convention in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.  The selection of Atlanta for this event says so much about our community and the Bangladeshi American leaders who are such a big part of it.  FOBANA 2018 brought together Bangladeshi Americans from across the country and many from overseas.  Even the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the United States, Mohammad Ziauddin, traveled down from D.C. to be a part of the festivities.  I was honored to receive, along with the Ambassador, the FOBANA 2018 community service award.  To those in the FOBANA community, thank you!


Rep. Rob Woodall meets with attendees at the FOBANA 2018 National Convention in Atlanta

With school starting last week in Forsyth and this week in Gwinnett, I know that many families are getting back into a routine.  I am struck by how fortunate we are that “routine” in our community means frequent and incredible cultural festivals with leaders from all around the globe.  Not many communities can say that, but we can.  We celebrate it, and we are blessed to be able to do so.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: GROWING SUPPORT FOR THE FAIRTAX 

Nowhere is the federal government’s presence and manipulation felt more than when the IRS reaches into your wallets each year for taxes. That is why I have advocated since my first day in office for a simpler tax code that lets you to keep more of what you earn by introducing H.R. 25, the “FairTax Act,” each Congress. 

For those who do not know, the FairTax is a revolutionary tax reform proposal that would repeal all Federal corporate and individual income taxes, payroll taxes, self-employment taxes, capital gains taxes, the death tax and gift taxes - and replace them with a revenue-neutral, 23 percent, personal consumption tax. Under the FairTax, workers would take home 100 percent of their paycheck, with no Federal taxes withheld.  The only Federal taxes that an American worker would pay is the new 23 percent FairTax on any new goods and services. You can learn more details about the FairTax by visiting my website HERE. 

Here is what a few of you have shared on the FairTax in recent weeks: 

Tom from Duluth: 

When I did my taxes for 2017, the sheer complexity was mind blowing. While I appreciate the latest tax reform, it is still too complicated. The Fair Tax simplifies taxes and eliminates the IRS. 

Sandra from Lawrenceville: 

Please continue your work on getting Fair Tax passed. 

_______________________________________________________________________________

This is one of my favorite topics, so I appreciate that Tom, Sandra, and so many others continue to reach out to me and share their support for such an exciting proposal. The good news is that support for the FairTax continues to grow with the addition of a new cosponsor to H.R. 25 just this past week – Representative Warren Davidson from Ohio! 

With all of the excitement of our historic, once-in-a-generation tax reform last year, I can understand how folks can think that the FairTax is being left behind.  The truth, though, is that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the largest step towards the FairTax we have taken since I have been in office. It simplified the individual tax brackets, cut most individual tax rates, eliminated a number of loopholes and exemptions, and permanently lowered the corporate income tax rate to a more globally competitive 21 percent—all consistent with the principles of the FairTax. 

That said, I agree with Tom. While these were huge steps forward, passing the FairTax would eliminate many of the problems that still exist in our tax code, like the numerous exemptions and carve-outs that remain. Please know that these successes only make me more excited to push for more. In fact, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) recently announced his “Tax Reform 2.0” framework which will continue to build on the successes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by making the middle-class and small business tax cuts permanent, expanding options for families to save, and promoting new entrepreneurs by allowing start-ups to write off more costs—again, all FairTax ideals to simplify the tax code and give people and businesses more freedom. I expect to see legislation covering Mr. Brady’s “Tax Reform 2.0” proposal once we return to Washington, D.C., in September.   

I truly am thrilled about this legislation's future as we continue to take these positive steps, but the FairTax will be passed only when the American people demand it. True change comes from grassroots leaders, like Tom and Sandra, who are passionate about seeing true reform implemented. The more people who call their representatives in Washington and voice their support for the FairTax, the better our chances become of seeing the FairTax signed into law. 

 

TOP MARKS FOR FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS! 

If you ever need to lift your spirits, just take a look around at the way young people all across our community are excelling. I know I brag a lot about their accomplishments, but it’s such a great indication of the kind of character we have here at home. Just last week, Forsyth County Schools released the results of the 2018 Georgia Milestone assessments, which showed what many of us knew to be true already: students are setting the bar and exceeding expectations! That’s first and foremost a reflection of their intellect and hard work, but beyond that, it points to the love and guidance from parents, mentors, teachers, and more. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into preparing the next generation for all the things they will achieve, but not every place does this as well as the Seventh District, and I’m grateful to all those who make it possible. Congratulations, and keep up the great work!

 

NEW CERTIFICATION OPPORTUNITY COMING TO PEACHTREE CORNERS’ TECH PARK 

In the Seventh District, we lead rather than follow – time and again in so many different ways. We have a history of it with influential members of our community like Paul Duke, who helped make the notion of a technology park in Peachtree Corners a reality, and we see it still with local leaders creating innovative new ways to offer even more opportunity to those who call the area home. On Thursday, Mayor Mike Mason, a whole host of community leaders, and I gathered in Peachtree Corners to celebrate the announcement of a new partnership between a local business incubator – Prototype Prime – and Georgia Tech to offer a certification program in computer coding, with a focus on front and back-end web design. Once opportunities like this exist, it’s easy to take them for granted, but it’s important to remember that they don’t just happen. It takes visionary leadership and an unrelenting spirit of cooperation to make them a reality. Thankfully we have both in abundance here at home! A growing and robust economy like what we’ve seen over the past year is a wonderful thing, but in order to sustain it, it’s critically important that we have a workforce equipped with a variety of in-demand skills. Initiatives like this are a big part of reaching that goal, and it makes me proud to see our community again leading the way.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD  

As you know, I have the pleasure of spending August visiting with church groups, civic organizations, businesses, and individual Seventh District constituents, but I always have time for more. And that’s where you come in. If you want me to visit with you at your place of business or worship, or if you want to meet with me at my Lawrenceville office, please contact me. We have an amazing opportunity to work together to move the needle forward for the American people, and I want to seize that opportunity now. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

Read More

Washington Watch - 7/30/18

2018/07/30

HOUSE TAKES ACTION TO LOWER HEALTH PREMIUMS, INCREASE CONSUMER CHOICE

As you may have heard, the House took action last week to move the needle forward on Congress’ continued efforts to bring high quality, patient-centered care to American families and individuals at lower costs. Specifically, the House passed a number of bills with bipartisan support that will work to expand and modernize the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), lower the costs of health care services by permanently repealing the onerous Medical Device Tax, as well as work to lower the costs of premiums by increasing consumer choice of quality coverage. I want to take this opportunity to not only commend my colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee for creating these bipartisan solutions that I believe most all Americans can coalesce around, but to also highlight some of the notable reforms that were included in many of last week’s bills. 

  • H.R. 6311, the “Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018,” was sponsored by Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL), and would work to expand access and use of HSAs to those 25 million Americans who have already chosen HSAs as their saving and spending option. H.R. 6311 also included targeted changes to some ACA plans that would surely work to decrease premiums. More specifically, the bill would:
    • Amend current law to allow health plans that qualify as bronze and catastrophic on health exchanges to be eligible plans for HSA contributions;
    • Allow both spouses to make catch-up contributions to the same health savings account, as opposed to separate accounts under current law; and
    • Repeal the cap and allow FSA balances to be carried over to the succeeding plan year as long as those balances don’t exceed three times the annual contribution limit. 
  • H.R. 6199, theRestoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018,” was sponsored by Representative Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), and would provide relief to Americans from onerous ACA taxes on over-the-counter medications, as well as further modernize and expand the use of health savings accounts. Some notable provisions of H.R. 6199 would work to:
    • Provide more flexibility by allowing HSA-eligible plans to offer a certain amount of first dollar coverage (up to $250 a year for an individual and $500 a year for family), without losing HSA eligibility; 
    • Remove Obamacare’s restriction on over-the-counter medicines for all tax-favored health accounts; and
    • Allow for contributions to an HSA if a spouse has a health Flexible Spending Account. 
  • H.R. 184, the “Protect Medical Innovation Act,” was sponsored by Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s 2.3% excise tax on the sale of medical devices by a manufacturer, producer, or importer. During the years this tax was levied, it resulted in the loss of over 29,000 American jobs, and prevented medical device manufacturers from reinvesting dollars into critical research and development of life saving technologies. 

While health care issues can easily fall subject to political divisiveness, I continue to believe that most all Americans share a common goal when it comes to fixing our health care system – making sure that our friends, neighbors, and loved ones have access to an efficient and effective health care delivery system. With premiums in the individual marketplace in Georgia 106% higher in 2017 than in 2013, I hope you’d agree with me that we cannot waste even a small opportunity to address the challenges to our overall health care system that have been left behind by the Affordable Care Act. I am confident that the bills passed last week, as outlined above, will address some of the ACA’s challenges, as well as work to assist those who were forced into a plan they didn’t want, by taking long overdue steps to enact targeted policies to make our health care system work better. However, these bills must make their way through the Senate before becoming the law of the land, and so I hope you will join me in urging the Senate to quickly pass them into law.

HOUSE PASSES 2019 NATIONAL DEFENSE FUNDING; MOVES BILL CLOSER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DESK 

It’s no surprise that Republicans and Democrats don’t always agree on questions of public policy.  But on matters of keeping the American people safe and serving our men and women in uniform, we have found bipartisan consensus on these priorities for 57 consecutive years.  On Thursday, after considering hundreds of amendments in committee and on the House floor over the past few months, the House did its job to extend that streak to 58 years in a row as the final version of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was sent to the Senate for approval, and hopefully to the President’s desk for his signature very soon. I was proud to be among the 359 House members who voted to grow our military dominance and deter emerging threats from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and others.  

This year’s NDAA fully funds a 2.6% pay raise for our service members, extends special pay and bonuses for those in high demand fields, fully authorizes and strengthens the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction programs, increases the size of our service branches, and includes significant funding to realize these goals—including $17.7 billion to begin to rehabilitate and replace worn out Army equipment, $40.8 billion to begin to overcome the crisis in military aviation by getting more aircraft in the air, $36.3 billion to restore America’s strength at sea, and $23.5 billion to sustain, repair and rebuild crumbling military buildings and other key infrastructure.  Importantly, it also makes new investments in state-of-the-art missile deterrence to account for the modern and evolving threats our nation and our allies face each day.  Until we can make nuclear weapons a thing of the past, we must ensure that they are rendered as ineffective as possible against American targets.  CLICK HERE to read all about this year’s NDAA.

BUILDING A STRONGER, DYNAMIC AMERICAN WORKFORCE

Earlier this month, I highlighted the exciting news that over 600,000 Americans previously discouraged from seeking employment decided to come off the sidelines and re-enter the workforce. Their confidence in the economy is well founded as the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows real GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.1% in the second quarter of 2018. That means consumers are spending more, companies in the U.S. are exporting more, and American businesses are investing more. With all this great news, however, our economy is at risk of losing momentum if we do not have a workforce to support it. Many of the folks I have met with recently have told me just that; their industries are suffering because they cannot find the truckers, engineers, carpenters, masons, and others to fill their demand. 

Luckily, President Trump has recognized this need and issued an Executive Order to establish the National Council for the American Worker which will be charged with expanding apprenticeship programs to bring more skilled labor into the workforce and retraining workers to help them keep-up with the evolving demands of their industries. Congress has also addressed this issue legislatively. The House started last year by passing H.R.2353, the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” which would increase the number of students served by this program and the capacity of schools’ authority to shape curriculums to meet the local industries’ needs. After resolving differences with the Senate, we were finally able to send this groundbreaking bill to the President’s desk last Thursday. Ensuring that we fill the gap between technical jobs and workers who have the skills to fill those jobs is a mission everyone - no matter party affiliation - can get behind. President Trump and Congress are working in tandem to ensure this economic growth is sustainable and felt by every American.  

DEEPENING OUR TIES WITH SOUTH KOREA

Everyone in the Seventh District knows the close relationship that our area has with South Korea, and last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Consul General Kim Young-jun to discuss ways to make our relationship – from making it easier to travel to increasing our economic ties – even better. 


Rep. Rob Woodall meets with South Korean Consul General Kim Young-jin

Did you know that three Georgia communities have sister city agreements with South Korea, including Gwinnett County with the city of Gangnam-Gu?  And did you know that the Atlanta area is home to the Southeast U.S.-Korean Chamber of Commerce, the Korean American Chamber of Commerce, and the Korean American Coalition? Georgia exports to South Korea totaled nearly $985 million in 2016, and imports totaled over $6 billion in that year alone. There are over 75 Korean-affiliated facilities in Georgia, and they are employing more than 10,000 Georgians. As you can see, Georgia’s close ties with Korea are deep and meaningful, and I’m grateful to the Consul General for taking the time to talk with me about that very special relationship. 

PRESIDENT TRUMP SECURES RETURN OF U.S. SERVICE MEMBER REMAINS

During the anniversary of the signing of the armistice officially ending hostilities in the Korean War, President Trump announced that the many military families who paid the ultimate price will finally receive the closure they deserve.  I’ve met with Georgia families affected by this, and their determination to succeed in securing these remains would surely have made their loved ones proud. Those conversations put into perspective for me how truly important this milestone is, and I’m appreciative to all who made it possible.  Earlier this year, the House passed H. Res. 129 with my support, which calls for a renewed effort to fully account for and return all American service members who are still listed as “Missing In Action (MIA),” or otherwise unaccounted for.  We will continue working to secure closure for every military family who has endured the pain of losing a loved one and the hardship of not even being able to bring them home.

THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING IN MY TOWN HALL MEETING

Hopefully you heard that my office hosted a Telephone Town Hall Meeting last Wednesday night, and I have to tell you that it was such a pleasure to hear from folks back home in the district! Our conversation ranged from healthcare to national defense to veterans’ health care to foreign policy, and I surely appreciate that so many people took time out of their day to speak to me about the issues that matter most to them.  If you weren’t able to call last week, there is no need to fret! We are hosting another Telephone Town Hall Meeting this Thursday, August 2nd, at 6:55 PM. You can visit my website to learn more and get all the call-in details! Again, thank you for taking an interest in what our government is doing, and thank you for participating in these events.

OUR NEXT GENERATION: USING THEIR VOICE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

As I’ve said before, some of my best days in Washington are when I get to meet with folks back home who are truly committed to making a difference. In a time where many young folks feel deterred or discouraged about how they can make their voices heard, I am grateful for young people like Reid Pickering and Lauren Seroyer who have heeded the call to use their passions and talents to better serve others. Reid, a senior at Lambert High School, recently visited with me in Washington, D.C., to share his ideas on how we can best support those suffering from cystic fibrosis, and Lauren, a recent graduate of Peachtree Ridge High School, co-founded The Community Assistance and Resource Effort (CARE) Closet, a non-profit that serves as a confidential, school-based food bank for students in need. 

You can read more about their stories below, but I wanted to highlight the efforts of Reid and Lauren to show how our community’s successes don’t result from unilateral action; they come from a collaborative partnership with individuals who are willing to take up the challenge that inherently comes with changing our community for the better and finding a way to see their goals through to their very end. Emboldening our future leaders to share their ideas and thoughts on how we can best serve our state and our nation has always been a priority of mine, and I look forward to my time in Georgia this upcoming month where I will meet with local groups, businesses, and families so that we can continue to do just that. 

LOCAL STUDENTS BEGIN THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR

It’s hard to believe, but as the last days of summer vacation come to an end, students in Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties are gearing up for the start of the 2018-2019 School Year. More than 48,000 students in Forsyth County will begin classes this Thursday, August 2nd, and over 180,000 students in Gwinnett County will start their first day next Monday, August 6th. 

As I’m sure you know, we have some of the best schools here in the Seventh District. And in case you haven’t heard the news, Denmark High School in Alpharetta will be opening its doors this week as the newest addition to an already fantastic Forsyth County Public School system. I look forward to Principal Heather Gordy and her team continuing the trend of excellence that we’ve all come to expect from Forsyth’s schools. And it’s certainly true that all that success is largely due to our dedicated students and the devoted efforts of our teachers, parents, and the close-knit community we have cultivated back home, and I’m excited, as I’m sure you all are, to see how we can continue to build on that success. 

What’s more, I am grateful for the efforts of our friends, neighbors, and local groups who have volunteered their time and donated items so that every child can have the tools and resources they need to achieve success in the classroom. There is no shortage of altruism or the spirit of giving in our community, and I am empowered by the news I read and stories I hear about the Gwinnett Fraternal Order of Police, the Forsyth County United Way, or all our local Publix stores that are working to provide schools supplies to local kids in need. Welcome back to school everyone! 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: SERVING YOU AND OUR COMMUNITY THIS AUGUST

Each year, Congress traditionally departs Washington, D.C., and reserves the month of August for Members of Congress to spend in their districts surrounded by their constituents. What started as a respite from Washington’s oppressive summer heat has developed into a regular feature of the Congressional calendar, and while it may be a break from Capitol Hill, it is certainly not a break from work. Today, Members of Congress take this time to work in their districts and states, meeting with constituents and visiting businesses, schools, churches, community organizations, and more. My August will be no different. The next five weeks will be filled with one-on-one meetings with constituents to discuss the issues that are important to them and visiting with different groups to share what is going on in Washington and how I can bring the Seventh District’s values to D.C. 

I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to reach out to me via my new website if you would like to meet with me. Whether you would like to have a one-on-one meeting, hear what is going on in Washington and how I am serving you there, or invite me to come to listen to your thoughts and whatever you have to share, you can CLICK HERE to contact me. 

Along with being able to request a meeting, on our website you will be able see the number of services my office can provide. We can offer assistance in everything from interacting with a federal agency to helping you plan a trip to Washington, D.C. You can explore more of what we can do for you HERE.  

Serving each of you and providing the best experience with the federal government possible is the most fulfilling and rewarding part of being your representative in Congress. Again, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office for any need. I look forward to seeing you around the great Seventh District this August!

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

Read More

Washington Watch - 7/23/18

2018/07/23

WORKING ACROSS THE AISLE TO GET RESULTS

With the around the clock noise of the news cycle and the real time updates of our social media feeds, we all know too well how easily our attention and thoughts can be captivated and redirected. But even amid the chaos and frenzy, there are constant and common goals that I believe we all share and want to strive to attain; however, the tricky part is keeping our eye on those goals and making sure that they don’t get drowned out, overshadowed, and hyper-politicized. That’s because as soon as our shared goals succumb to any such noise or frenzy, working together becomes harder and harder. 

The same notion translates to Capitol Hill where too often our bipartisan successes are drowned out by political rancor. For example, the House came together last week in true bipartisan fashion to leverage solutions for a number of issues that aren’t being championed by just one side of the aisle or the other, but that are instead supported by a majority of members on both sides of the aisle.  I was proud to join my colleagues in keeping our focus on the end goal of bringing solutions home to our friends and neighbors. Some of the solutions that passed the House last week included measures to ensure that our disabled Veteran Affairs employees receive care for their service-connected injuries, modernize federal casework services, improve our stormwater infrastructure, and make much needed reforms to how we regulate over-the-counter drugs. 

  • House Amendment to S. 899the “Veterans Providing Healthcare Transition Improvement Act,” was sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI). S.899 seeks to bring the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) up to speed with other federal agencies to ensure that veterans with service-connected disabilities who are employed by the VA are able to take leave to treat their conditions without loss or reduction in their pay.
  • H.R. 3076the “CASES for Constituents Act of 2017,” was sponsored by Representative Garret Graves (R-LA), and would allow Congressional offices to utilize electronic privacy consent forms to assist constituents more timely in problems with federal departments and agencies. Specifically, the bill would direct the Office of Management and Budget to develop and establish a process by which all agencies can receive electronic privacy waivers. 
  • H.R. 3906, the “Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act of 2018,” was sponsored by Representative Denny Heck (D-WA) and would establish within the EPA a stormwater infrastructure funding task force to study and make recommendations on how we can work to leverage public and private resources to better fund our stormwater infrastructure and make much needed improvements. 
  • H.R. 5333, the “Over-the-Counter Monograph Safety, Innovation, and Reform Act of 2018,” was sponsored by Representative Bob Latta (R-OH). This bill makes vital reforms to the regulations that oversee the safety and efficacy of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and will allow for new and safe OTC drugs to be brought to market more readily and expand consumer choice, and it does so all without jeopardizing safety. 

Each of these solutions will make a difference, and while you may not hear the daily work on such solutions in the news or read about it on social media, please know that I am continuing to put the best interests of our nation and our neighbors above politics and will never turn away from an opportunity to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to do so. That’s because if there are people in our community grappling with an issue, I can likely find a colleague on the other side of the aisle who has a community in their district dealing with the same issue.  Working together, we can bring solutions to our constituents.   

 

SUWANEE’S OWN WINTON MACHINE HONORED AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Monday is starting off right in Washington, D.C.! That’s because George and Lisa Winton, the owners of Winton Machine in Suwanee, are participating in the Made in America Product Showcase at the White House. Manufacturers from every state in the nation will be featured – everything from Lockheed-Martin’s F-35 aircraft which will be on the White House lawn to Winton’s coaxial cable bending machine – will be on display. I am so proud that Georgia’s representative is a company that has been serving the metro Atlanta area for decades, and is one that I have had the pleasure of visiting many times. In fact, just last year I was thrilled to award Winton Machine with the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Achievement Award, and now, I’m even more pleased to join them at the White House for this well-deserved honor. Congratulations to the entire team at Winton Machine!


Rep. Rob Woodall presents the 2017 U.S. Commercial Service Export Achievement Award to Greg and Lisa Winton

 

JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE IS MOVING FORWARD WITH BIPARTISAN WORKING SESSIONS

For the past few months, 15 of my bipartisan, bicameral colleagues and I have been working on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. Being on this committee is an honor, and a lot of work! But that’s really great news. We’ve completed five public hearings on various aspects of the budget and appropriations process, and we’ve had a number of member working sessions – both formal and informal – to discuss the best ways to ensure that Congress is able to get its work done every year on time and that we’re adequately considering ways to lower our long-term debt and manage our mandatory spending programs. 

I won’t pretend that it’s easy work. If budget challenges were easy to solve, we would have resolved them long ago. To come up with a plan that can get the support of a majority of Republicans and Democrats on the committee requires persistence and patience, but I’m consistently impressed by how much each and every member with whom I’m working is committed to coming to a lasting agreement. Too often, too many assume that we must retreat to our partisan corners and if a deal is struck, we must be selling out our core principles to do so. I can tell you with conviction that my experience in Congress generally and on this committee specifically is very different: Republicans and Democrats can work together, we can find common-ground together, and we can do what is best for the American people without compromising our deeply held beliefs. I look forward to all that this committee can accomplish this year. 

 

SEVENTH DISTRICT MILITARY ACADEMY STUDENTS CONTINUE TO SUCCEED

It’s no secret that Georgia’s Seventh District is home to some of the best schools in the nation, so it’s no surprise that we sent 17 students to our nation’s service academies last year.  Including those new cadets and midshipmen, Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District has more than 30 students enrolled and serving in our nation’s military academies.  I had another chance to spend time with one of those students, Cadet Sergeant Justin Jang from Duluth, who is currently a rising junior at the United States Military Academy at West Point and is interning in the Senate for the summer. I first met Justin when he was still a student at Peachtree Ridge High School applying to West Point, and I was so pleased to catch up with him to hear about his accomplishments since then. 


Rep. Rob Woodall and Cadet Sergeant Justin Jang on the Speaker’s Balcony at the U.S. Capitol

If you know someone who would like to follow in Justin’s footsteps and would like to apply to one of our service academies, they must first receive a nomination from a member of the Executive Branch, House of Representatives, or Senate. I’ve had the pleasure of nominating so many exceptional students in the past, a great deal of whom have been selected to go on to the academy of their choice, and I look forward to making new nominations this year. Anyone interested in being nominated by my office can visit my website for more information about the nomination process. Good luck to you!

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: THE APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS

This past week the House completed the passage of the first six of the twelve annual appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government for the 2019 Fiscal Year, which begins October 1st. These first six appropriations bills will provide funding for our federal programs in the Departments of Energy, Veterans Affairs, Interior, Treasury, and Defense. And in the coming weeks, the House will consider more funding bills for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.  As you can see, these spending decisions cover everything from our military and national defense needs to education programs to parks and courts, and everything in between. Naturally, as Congress begins to consider appropriations bills, I hear a lot from all of you on what federal spending priorities you have. Many people send me their thoughts on specific priorities such as these:

Laura from Cumming:

Please support spending legislation for FY19 which will fund border improvements on the southern border.

Michael from Lawrenceville:

As a constituent, I urge you to continue recent progress and provide more funding for education, including significant increases for programs like Title I, IDEA, and early education. Congress also needs to take steps to help make college more affordable. At the same time, I urge you to oppose the reckless cuts and voucher plans repeatedly proposed by education secretary Betsy DeVos, including elimination of afterschool programs and Title II, which supports professional development for educators and helps reduce class sizes. All our students deserve the opportunity to attend strong, well-resourced public schools, no matter what zip code they live in. To fulfill America's promise of equal opportunity for all, I urge you to increase funding for education and reject the DeVos budget cuts.

While others have more broad concerns about our federal spending, like these:

Carolyn from Cumming:

Wasteful federal spending is out of control. The recent $1.3 trillion omnibus package only underscores the federal governments continued reckless spending on the taxpayers dime. It’s time for Congress to put current and future generations of American taxpayers first, by cutting back on wasteful federal spending.

David from Duluth:

Please finish the appropriations before you go on a break.

___________________________________________________________

The “Power of the Purse” is the most significant Constitutional responsibility given to Congress, and each appropriations bill is your opportunity to advocate for the programs and initiatives that you believe will make a difference in our district, our state, and our nation. Every fiscal year, Congress deliberates and decides on funding for all of the federal government’s discretionary operations via the twelve appropriations bills.  These twelve bills cover roughly a third of total federal spending each fiscal year, while the remaining nearly two-thirds of our federal spending is comprised of direct spending and trust fund spending outside of the appropriations process, including funding for important priorities like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the debt. 

The entire appropriations process begins with the President’s budget, which lists the Administration’s priorities for the coming fiscal year through recommendations for the spending levels for the various federal agencies and programs. While Congress considers the President’s request, it crafts its own budget establishing a discretionary spending ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year and the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate set the spending levels for each agency and program. 

The appropriations bills take months of work and debate, and input from you helps prioritize funding decisions. Big or small, I hope each of you will continue to share what your priorities are with me as we work through the rest of the FY19 appropriations process, and in every year going forward, as Laura, Michael, Carolyn, and David have. America can only spend each dollar once, and I want to be certain that we make the best of each opportunity. 

 

FORSYTH CLUB RAISES THOUSANDS FOR LOCAL CHILDREN 

What’s in a name, they say. Well, while it may not tell you everything you need to know, sometimes a name can do a lot to paint a pretty clear image. The Optimist Club of Forsyth County certainly fits in that category, and if you’re not familiar with what they’re doing here at home, I hope you’ll learn more about it. As a quick – and candidly oversimplified – summary of what they’re accomplishing, they work to raise funds and partner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to provide additional resources for children battling cancer, as well as those in need all across the community. The reality is there are many communities all across the country where optimism is hard to find – and for good reason. Folks in those places haven’t experienced the kind of compassion, cooperation, and results that we are fortunate to have in abundance in the Seventh District. It seems like our community is full of these stories where, whether large or small groups, individuals, businesses, non-profits and more, come together to be a part of a solution. No blame – just solutions. There are so many needs, but because of those like Optimist Club President Brenda Basey and her team, there are a few more of those needs met each and every day, and I’m grateful for their passion.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is going to consider a number of bills meant to solve problems related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), specifically sections that have made it more expensive and more difficult for Americans to get the health care that they want. I’m happy to say that with these three bills – H.R. 6311, the “Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018,” H.R. 6199, the “Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018,” and H.R. 184, the “Protect Medical Innovation Act” – we can do better. These bills will expand Health Savings Accounts and allow Americans to purchase lower-priced health insurance plans that still meet their family’s needs.  Providing needed access at affordable prices is a shared goal across the country, and these three bills will move us closer to that goal.

The House may also consider a final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week that will guide the Department of Defense’s policies for the next fiscal year. This Conference Report will be the product of months of negotiations between the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the Pentagon, and the White House.  It is a major security victory for our nation and gives our servicemen and women the certainty they deserve for the coming fiscal year. 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress 

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

2018-09-13 19:36:37


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

2018-06-08 19:16:32


Rep. Woodall Discusses the Water Resources Development Act of 2018

2018-06-06 13:48:56


Rep. Woodall Discusses the Farm Bill on the House Floor

2018-05-17 21:32:01


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

2018-04-26 17:52:44


What Tax Day 2018 Means for the FairTax

2018-04-19 21:38:13


Rep. Woodall Talks FairTax - Tax Week 2018

2018-04-19 21:24:59


Rep. Woodall Discusses the Balanced Budget Amendment on House Floor

2018-04-13 15:14:53


Rep. Woodall Discusses Tax Reform Successes on the House Floor

2018-03-23 19:05:27


Rep. Woodall Discusses Lake Lanier Security Camera Prohibition

2018-03-19 13:35:50


Rep. Woodall Discusses SHEP at T&I Subcommittee Hearing

2018-03-19 13:32:25


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

2018-02-16 21:31:37


Rep. Woodall Talks Budgets and Spending on House Floor

2018-02-16 20:57:24


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

2018-02-15 22:25:50


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

2018-02-14 17:37:24


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

2017-12-20 22:20:15


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

2017-12-08 20:02:22


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

2017-12-01 23:17:45


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

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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

Karen Handel

GEORGIA's 6th 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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