Rob Woodall

Rob Woodall

GEORGIA's 7th DISTRICT

Washington Watch - 7/6/20

2020/07/06

CELEBRATING OUR NATION’S INDEPENDENCE

This Independence Day, we not only celebrated 244 years of American freedom, but also honored the trials and tribulations we have faced together as a nation throughout our history. This year, celebrations looked a little different than in years past as we worked to limit contact with one another and stem the spread of COVID-19. However, while there may have been changes to our annual 4th of July traditions, I hope you all had the opportunity to celebrate with friends, family, and neighbors, and to remember those who serve to protect our American freedoms and keep us healthy and safe. The sacrifice of our military and healthcare heroes have allowed us to come together once again this year to celebrate our freedoms. Happy Independence Day!

 

RECORD JOB GROWTH FOR JUNE

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest jobs report showing 4.8 million jobs were added to the economy for the month of June. This brought our national unemployment rate down to 11.1 percent. The lion share of job growth came from the leisure and hospitality industries as restaurants, bars, and hotels reopen for business, implementing new health standards to keep their customers safe. What’s more, the May jobs report was revised upward to show almost 200,000 more jobs were added than initially reported, bringing the total number of jobs added to 2.7 million for that month.

This is great news for our economy which has been devastated by the shutdowns and slowdowns associated with COVID-19. However, it is important to note that we are still in the midst of the pandemic. If we are to see our economy fully rebound, we must all continue following social distancing protocols and follow local health and safety ordinances so that we can limit the impact of the coronavirus in our communities. The last thing families and the economy need is for an uptick in virus transmission to lead governors to close our economy once again. Be safe!

 

NEW TRADE DEAL GOES INTO EFFECT

On July 1st, the antiquated NAFTA agreement was officially retired and the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) came into effect. The USMCA brings our trade with our largest trade partners into the 21st century, restores fairness among our nations, and encourages economic growth for all of North America.

Georgia agriculture, our state’s #1 industry, will see tremendous benefits as USMCA is implemented as well as other industries throughout our state. In fact, Georgia alone will save between $352 million and $1.5 billion in extra taxes on goods exported to Canada and Mexico – our two largest export markets.

I have said repeatedly that the USMCA is the best trade deal of my lifetime. I am excited to see the economic benefits come to life as the USMCA is rolled out and helps our nation’s economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus.

 

SADLY, HOUSE AGAIN TURNS ITS BACK ON BIPARTISANSHIP

I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee and on the House Rules Committee for nearly 8 years, and in that time, the main difference between that committee and all of the other Capitol Hill committees was a unique T&I commitment to bipartisanship. On T&I, we have almost always worked together in a bipartisan way to bring bills to the floor. In fact, before last week, the last decade of surface transportation bills were entirely bipartisan products from the beginning to the end of the process. But this year, T&I has been taken over by that same type of bare-knuckled politics that sadly characterize so much of the House in 2020.

Instead of moving this year’s surface transportation bill in a bipartisan way, Committee Chairman Pete DeFazio (D-OR) wrote the bill alone with no partnership input. While the bill usually passes out of Committee on a unanimous voice vote, this year it was strictly a partisan vote, as the Chairman blocked over 100 Republican amendments. And it got worse when the bill came to the Rules Committee. Taking orders from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Rules Committee only allowed 19 Republican amendments to be considered, while simultaneously allowing over 130 Democrat amendments. That’s almost 7 Democrat amendments for every 1 Republican amendment. When Republicans controlled the House, not only did the Transportation Committee pass the bill with a big bipartisan majority, the Rules Committee allowed Democrats and Republicans roughly the same number of amendments on the floor. Rather than follow that path for a bipartisan agreement, Speaker Pelosi shut out millions of Americans from taking part in this process by silencing their representatives, which means the bill written in secret and jammed through with partisanship is going only one place: nowhere. Such a partisan bill won’t even be considered in the Senate and certainly won’t be signed by the President. That is frustrating because America and our economy need the certainty of a long-term transportation bill. The need isn’t partisan; it is American.

It’s a sad state of affairs that in just 5 years, we’ve gone from moving a surface transportation bill that was supported by Republicans and Democrats in Congress and signed by former President Obama, to one that is only supported by the most liberal elements of the House Democratic Caucus and has no chance of becoming law. I know we could have done better, because we’ve done better before. Now is the time to go back to the drawing board and start over with a truly bipartisan bill that all Americans can be proud to support.

You can CLICK the picture below to see part of my floor speech on this issue.

H.R. 2

Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-07) speaks in opposition to the rule for consideration of H.R. 2

 

Now that the Speaker has completed this fruitless partisan exercise, perhaps she will allow the Transportation Committee to go back to work on serious issues in a serious bipartisan way. I know that is what most Republicans and Democrats on the Committee would like to do.

 

DEMOCRATS JAM THROUGH WISH LIST LEGISLATION

In a divided Congress, the path to success makes a commitment to bipartisanship all the more necessary. It requires a concerted effort of Members working across the aisle and coalescing around shared ideas to move final bills to the President’s desk. Unfortunately, while the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate have had abundant opportunities to work together, again and again those opportunities have been overlooked.

And as mentioned above, the trend of partisanship continued last week in the House with the bills the Majority brought to the floor. In addition to the transportation measures Speaker Pelosi called forward, the House also considered three measures from the House Financial Services Committee: House Joint Resolution 90, H.R. 7301, H.R. 5332. Not a single Republican supported the first two measures, and the opportunities to find common ground in the last bill to improve how consumers can access their credit information were shuttered as Republicans were left out of the amendment process.

Another bill House Leadership brought up for a vote – H.R. 1425 – was, unfortunately, also not a good faith effort to move forward meaningful solutions on healthcare reform. To start, this package was a culmination of a number of bills that have already been pushed through the House earlier this Congress that the Senate has no plans to act on because of the lack of broader Republican support. Among the many troubling provisions in this legislation, this bill would extend the ACA’s premium tax credits regardless of income level and need, and would punish states that have not expanded Medicaid programs. Further, the bill would push through main provisions incorporated in H.R. 3 already passed in the House that would establish government price controls for prescription drugs. As I previously discussed, there is outstanding concern that these provisions would stifle research and development and limit life-saving cures from coming to market. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that under that bill, approximately 8 fewer drugs would be introduced to the U.S. market over the 2020-2029 period, and about 30 fewer drugs over the subsequent decade.

Unfortunately, each of these bills was brought forward with no real expectation, even from the Majority moving them forward, that they would land on the President’s desk. Republican input was shut out, and no amendments – from either side of the aisle – could be offered to any of the four bills. And that’s a shame. I hope that future efforts will be ones aimed at bringing Members to the table for a serious discussion aimed at finding a path forward. Anything less is not only a missed opportunity, but also an affront to our responsibilities in Congress.

 

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED

The House and Senate unanimously agreed to extend the deadline for which individuals can apply for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Originally expiring at the end of last month, eligible small businesses are now able to apply for PPP funds through August 8th. Nearly 4.8 million small business loans have been approved – including over 150,000 in Georgia. This extension will allow the PPP to continue serve as a resource for those in need who have not yet applied, as Congress evaluates how to best direct any future lines of support for small businesses and those impacted hardest due to the pandemic.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: CALLING FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT OF OUR NATION’S HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS

We all know just how critical the role our nation’s healthcare providers have played during this time. As we continue to see a concerning trend in new confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country, it is vital that we support providers in their ability to respond to this threat and ensure their continued operations amid revenue shortfalls. Here is what I have heard from you about the ways Congress can best support medical providers across our healthcare systems.

Lori from Peachtree Corners:

Please pressure HHS to stop overlooking Medicaid-funded providers of intellectual / developmental disability (I/DD) supports as it distributes funding from the Public Health &Social Services Emergency Fund.

Mary from Lawrenceville:

Hospitals and health systems across the nation are in vital need of financial support to care for patients and keep their communities safe and healthy. The continued increase of COVID-19 cases means hospitals and health systems need consistent funding for patient care, essential protective gear, and increased surge capacity. As your constituent, I'm asking you to support immediate funding for hospitals so that they have the resources needed to continue providing quality patient care.

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Over the course of the pandemic, our federal agencies have coordinated the delivery and shipment of critical medical supplies, including respirators, surgical masks, face shields, surgical gowns, and gloves to medical providers treating patients on the front lines. These procurement efforts include those led by FEMA through Project Airbridge – a partnership it launched with the private sector aimed at expediting the delivery of crucial medical supplies. Through Project Airbridge, FEMA completed roughly 249 flights and procured millions of these critical supplies from global medical distributors for areas across the country. Additionally, FEMA has shipped more than 23,000 deliveries of medical supplies to nursing homes, who have been among the hardest facilities hit by COVID-19’s spread.
 
As you also know, one of Congress’s most critical efforts to help providers respond to the virus and keep hospitals and medical providers whole after losses suffered as a result of this pandemic have come through the Provider Relief Fund. To date, roughly $102 billion of $175 billion in funding has been allocated to a variety of health care providers, including skilled nursing facilities, rural hospitals, and safety net hospitals who treat our most vulnerable populations. And as I previously mentioned, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) most recent allocation was meant to address Lori’s specific concern, providing $15 billion to Medicaid providers who had not yet been supported through the Fund.
 
And last Friday, I joined Representatives Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and over 80 Members in the House in requesting that HHS provide additional funding to children’s hospitals through this fund. There are several children’s hospitals in Georgia, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Children’s Hospital of Georgia, that provide quality care to children and much-needed support to families, and who are in need of additional financial support. I hope that HHS will work swiftly to support these and other providers so that we can ensure our medical system is fortified in their ability to address this virus and can continue treating patients as elective procedure and visits have resumed.
 
As the threat of COVID-19 remains, we must all continue to do our part to limit community transmission by following proper public health and social distancing guidelines. Our actions individually to limit the spread of the virus can help prevent hospital overruns and ensure that they are able to focus their efforts on treating our friends and neighbors in need of their assistance.

 

FORSYTH COUNTY STUDENT LAUNCHES FREE ONLINE STEM CAMP

The Seventh District is the proud home of many spectacular students who use their time and talents for the greater good. This week, I’d like to recognize Arisha Raza, a student at the Alliance Academy of Innovation in Forsyth County, for her work to create a free online STEM camp. Arisha developed an interest in pursuing a career in STEM at a young age. After regularly attending STEM camps to pursue her passion, Arisha realized that many of these camps are too expensive or far away for some families, limiting opportunities for families who can’t afford to send their kids away to camp. With her boundless creativity and enthusiasm, Arisha found a way to break down those barriers so that any elementary and middle school student interested in learning more about STEM can do so through her free virtual camp called The Radar.

Arisha believes fundamentally that “passion should be free,” and she is working hard to make sure kids who share her passion for STEM can have the opportunity to flourish in their pursuit of knowledge. Thanks to her hard work and dedication, The Radar now has an enrollment of over 100 students from all around the world who are interested in STEM.

Arisha, you have done an incredible job creating this camp, and you have demonstrated that you have the leadership, motivation, and dedication to continue providing similar educational opportunities for years to come.

 

U.S. ARMY HONORS FRONTLINE WORKERS IN THE SEVENTH DISTRICT

Here in the Seventh District, we honor and value those who commit themselves to a life of service. This week, I would like to highlight the valiant efforts of our local heroes who volunteer to fight on the frontlines.

On Friday, June 26, a hundred healthcare workers gathered outside the Kaiser Permanente Gwinnett Comprehensive Medical Center to observe a special tribute offered by the U.S. Army’s Black Daggers. The Black Daggers are a special parachute demonstration team who travel across the country putting on shows demonstrating their professionalism, team work, and dedication. The Black Daggers wanted to show their appreciation to the heroes who have served on the frontlines in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. With their thoughtful dedication to thank healthcare workers, the Black Daggers lifted our community’s spirits and reminded us that our healthcare workers have continued working hard to keep us healthy and safe.

 

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

 

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Washington Watch - 6/29/20

2020/06/29

DEMOCRATS GO IT ALONE ON POLICE REFORM

Do the standards for police de-escalation training vary across the country? Of course. Do our good officers need to be protected and do those officers who consistently run afoul of department policies need to be exposed? Of course. Could a national database of officer misconduct help to prevent bad officers from simply relocating? Of course. Do we owe our best efforts at reform both to the citizenry and the amazing men and women who wear badges to protect us? Of course. Both Republicans and Democrats recognize that we can and must do better. However, rather than use this moment to correct those wrongs and help our nation heal, Speaker Pelosi decided once again to push through a unilaterally drafted bill that rejected all input by Republican Members.

hres

Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-07) manages the floor for debate of H.Res.1017

Let me be clear: effective policing happens at the state and local level. That is where the best and most effective change happens. But there are some areas the federal government can and should lead. As I mentioned in last week’s constituent spotlight, I joined my Republican colleagues in introducing the JUSTICE Act that would address those areas where we find consensus. In fact, Republicans asked twice last week to make the JUSTICE Act a part of the debate. We didn’t demand that it become the law of the land; we simply asked that the House be allowed to debate it on the House floor.  Speaker Pelosi said no, twice. The bill that Speaker Pelosi offered the House was “take it or leave it”. She didn’t allow for any amendment discussed. The JUSTICE Act, on the other hand, is not “take or leave it.” The bill had also been offered by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), with a willingness to consider as many as 20 amendments from Senate Democrats to improve the bill. Even though there was bipartisan support for that offer, there were enough Democrats who voted in lock step against proceeding that, again, the JUSTICE Act didn’t even get a debate.

It is disappointing to watch overdue policy changes predictably collapse when compromise is so clearly in reach. I understand that sometimes a partisan hardline negotiating position is necessary to establish. I am hopeful that is all that last week’s “just say no” to negotiations was. Partnership is the only path forward in divided government if we are to bring a bill to the president’s desk. Is America asking for change? Of course. Grandstanding won’t deliver it for them, but consensus policy making can and will.

 

HOUSE MOVES PARTISAN BILLS WITHOUT BIPARTISAN INPUT

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just on police reform that bipartisan input was rejected in its entirety this week. Additionally, the House brought to the floor a measure that would override the President’s veto of H.J. Resolution 76 – a bill which would use the Congressional Review Act to reject a 2019 rule submitted by the Department of Education regarding the availability of student loan forgiveness when higher education institution misrepresent facts that financially harmed the borrower. As you may recall from earlier this year, the House and the Senate passed this resolution. But with two-thirds of Members needed to override a veto in each Chamber and the shortage of that needed support, this effort was all but fated before being brought to the floor, with the House, as expected, failing to meet that threshold last week.

Let’s say yes to opportunities to work together. Each day in Congress stands an opportunity to better the lives of individuals across our nation. When we are open to other’s ideas and commit to a legislative process that is already in place for those ideas to flourish, it is then Congress will be defined more by our successes than our shortcomings.  

 

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETS TO EXAMINE HEALTH AND INCOME INEQUALITY

Last Tuesday, the House Budget Committee conducted a hearing entitled “Health and Wealth Inequality in America: How COVID-19 Makes Clear the Need for Change.”

The work that my colleagues and are I tasked with on the Budget Committee is so important because its work is intertwined through all sectors of public policy. Much like how the effects of the COVID-19 crisis have been far reaching, our work to find the most effective solutions must be well. As such, our focus must be one that continues to closely examine the continually emerging body of evidence that gives us insights on what groups have been most affected. This will better ensure our response can best be targeted to not only meet needs as they exist, but also to maximize the value of each federal dollar that goes out the door.

It is clear that the COVID-19 crisis has impacted no single state, individual, or group in the same way. That includes the effects of the virus itself, with current data highlighting COVID-19 hospitalization and mortality rates are disproportionally higher among certain racial and minority groups, particularly African Americans. Additionally, as you might imagine, the economic lockdowns enacted to combat COVID-19’s spread have more negatively impacted hourly-wage workers where in-person attendance is necessary compared to jobs in white collar professions where remote work is possible.

I appreciated the opportunity to hear from the economists and public policy leaders in their field who joined our Committee for a discussion on these issues and to share their insights. No one piece of legislation can singlehandedly resolve all the challenges we face today, but continuing these discussions is critical to advancing smart, targeted solutions.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: ASSESSING U.S. POSTAL SERVICE VIABILITY

I would like to thank the folks who contacted my office in recent weeks to share concerns about the United States Postal Service (USPS) and its financial outlook amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take a look at what some of you had to say:

Lena from Buford:

Our Postal Service has stepped up to keep our country working during the COVID-19 crisis. It urgently needs Federal government support, but so far has received little.

The USPS is the nation’s only universal delivery and communications network, connecting 160 million homes and businesses in every corner of the country. The Coronavirus crisis has put a huge strain on the Postal Service with dramatic falls in revenue and increased costs.

Laura from Cumming:

Saving USPS should not be a partisan battle. It's not perfect, but we need it right now more than ever. As your constituent, I ask that you support emergency funding for the Postal Service!

Flora from Lawrenceville:

Please don't let coronavirus destroy the Postal Service too. Something that helps every single American at an affordable rate is too important to fail.

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First, I would like to begin by sharing my appreciation for all the United States postal workers who have continued to serve Americans during this time. Continuing postal operations have been critical as in-person contact has been limited to mitigate COVID-19’s spread. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has long provided an essential service to the American public: postal clerks, transportation diversion, and processing personnel continue to fulfill their duties despite external threats. Their work has ensured that individuals continue to receive their Social Security checks, their medications, and all other mail, adding certainty in a time that lacks it.

A lot of folks are surprised to learn that the USPS is unique from other federal agencies in that it is largely self-financed and operates separately from the federal government. Most of their revenue comes from charges associated with the costs of services it provides. But as Lena, Laura, and Flora are aware, the USPS has been operating at significant financial loss for over a decade, losing $69 billion from 2017-2018 alone. Unfunded liabilities for employee benefits, statutory mandates, and decline in total mail volume have been some of the significant factors contributing to that decline.

In order to ensure ongoing operations at USPS during the pandemic, the CARES Act provided the USPS with an additional $10 billion in borrowing authority from the U.S. Treasury – on top of its current statutory limit of $15 billion. This was done in response to early concerns that the COVID-19 crisis would cause mail volume to plummet, and would move the agency even closer to financial insolvency. But the good news is that new forecasts have shown the USPS has performed better than expect during this time, as e-commerce transactions and demand for packaging services have greatly increased. The USPS saw a 30 percent jump in package deliveries in April and an additional 20 percent in May. If these package volumes persist, the USPS could delay any threat of financial insolvency well into next year.

That being said, we can all agree that the Postal Service is need of modernization and reform, and we must absolutely find ways to improve its services so that the USPS can better provide for its patrons. The threat of insolvency still lingers, and there are targeted steps Congress could take today to modify the statutory burdens that contribute to its operating losses. We must continue to work to enact viable solutions that set the USPS on solid ground so that taxpayers are not left footing the bill.

 

SOCIALLY DISTANCED INDEPENDENCE DAY IN CUMMING

This year marks the City of Cumming’s 63rd Annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade. The annual parade was inspired by A.G. Glen Thomas who drove his 1912 steam engine around the courthouse square with four or five kids trailing behind on their bikes back in 1957. Within a few years, Mayor Dr. Jim Mashburn had purchased a steam engine of his own and helped to organize the annual parade. This year, the parade has been extended to encourage social distancing. The parade will kick off around 10 a.m. at the Forsyth County Tax Commissioner’s Office and will end at the Cumming Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds will open around 4 p.m. and the annual fireworks display will begin at 9:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to limit their group size to 25 people, to wear face masks, and to maintain social distancing of 6 feet between groups. With these safety precautions, the City of Cumming will certainly have a safe, patriotic celebration on July 4.

 

GWINNETT COUNTY EXPANDS SUMMER MEALS PROGRAM

Over the last few months, Gwinnett County has been an excellent example of a community’s effort to ensure that its residents are receiving the support they need. The Gwinnett County Summer Meals Program provides free nutritious food for children as well as emergency meal kits for residents age 60 and older who are in need of assistance. Beginning Monday, June 29, the Gwinnett County Summer Meals Program will be expanded to 11 more park sites for a grand total of 31 meal program pickup locations. Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation staff will be present at each site on Monday to share information with those who come to pick up their meals. As our community takes steps toward recovery from the effects of the pandemic, it is truly heartening to see offerings like the Gwinnett County Summer Meals Program continue to provide support for our friends and neighbors.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

Two weeks ago, we talked about the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee’s mark-up of H.R. 2, the “Invest in America Act,” which reauthorizes our nation’s surface transportation projects. This measure will now head to the House floor this week.

While I opposed that bill in committee, I had held out hope that we could make it better before it came to the House floor. Unfortunately, it’s gotten worse. The bill that the House will vote on is vastly different from what T&I passed. In fact, the bill now includes an entire section on aviation that wasn’t discussed in committee. In all, nearly $1 trillion in extra programs and mandates were added to the bill by Speaker Pelosi after it has already passed the T&I Committee. That’s not the right way to do business, and it certainly isn’t the way to convince the Senate or the President to approve this bill.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 6/22/20

2020/06/22

DEMOCRAT SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BILL PASSES COMMITTEE

As noted in my previous newsletter, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee considered H.R. 2 for mark up last week in what was the latest partisan exercise in drafting legislation meant to help the American people.

Many of my colleagues and I became members of the Committee because of its reputation for delivering bipartisan solutions for the people back home.  During each of my years in Congress, the Transportation Committee has been known as a place where partisanship fades away and partnership prevails.  Unfortunately, while the maintenance of our roads, bridges, waterways, and air travel isn’t a partisan issue, Speaker Pelosi has all but guaranteed the breakdown of the Committee’s collaboration by putting her thumb on the scale to ensure that the Chairman of the Committee reject partnership and instead bring up a Democrat wish-list for us to consider. The unilaterally drafted bill we considered last week not only failed to include Republican input but also seemingly left out rank-and-file Democrats on the Committee, who themselves submitted almost 100 amendments to try to put their constituents’ mark on the legislation. The additional 200 amendments filed by Republican Members of the Committee represent the first and only input that we had to shape this important bill.

While the text offered by the majority wasn’t all bad, Republicans and Democrats could have done so much more to address climate pollution, adjust the gas tax, update environmental regulations, balance urban/rural infrastructure needs, and decide on funding levels for the next few years had we worked together from the beginning. In fact, these areas would have been better served by the STARTER Act, which I cosponsored with Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and would have made modest reforms to existing programs and focus on our country’s most pressing infrastructure needs.

Nevertheless, even after markup – which was mired by technological issues and stretched for two full days, breaking only for lunch and dinner, and the occasional negotiation – the charade has not come to an end. Next week, the bill will be brought to the House floor, with the Speaker adding more provisions that have not been given any Committee consideration, including sections on public housing, the U.S. Postal Service, broadband connectivity, and Green New Deal priorities.  Needless to say, the Senate will not move this bill, and the President will not sign this bill.  Thus, weeks that could have been spent passing partnership priorities have been and will continue to be lost. 

It is truly disappointing to watch partisanship prevail, but I am hopeful that my friends across the aisle will recognize the futility in their go-it-alone strategy and give bipartisanship another shot. 

 

SBA LENDING PROGRAMS CONTINUE TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES

Some of the most important actions Congress has taken through its three relief packages enacted at the onset of the pandemic were those aimed at supporting small businesses. We all know just how important small businesses are in contributing to our economic growth and success, and the numbers in our state certainly reflect that. Small businesses – those fewer than 500 employees – account for 99.6% of Georgia businesses. They employ 1.7 million workers and accounted for 64,000 new jobs in 2019, with the largest gains seen in those firms employing fewer than 20 employees.

The COVID-19 crisis has undeniably levied a large toll on industry of all sizes, but those effects have perhaps been felt the hardest by small businesses. For that reason, the CARES Act created direct lines of support that have been critical to solving the immediate cash-flow needs of small business: the Paycheck Protection Program under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) and the added flexibility to the existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.

As you know, Congress enacted supplemental legislation earlier this month to add flexibility to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including an extension of the covered period for loan forgiveness from 8 weeks to 24 weeks. And coupled with the additional funding provided through Congress’s fourth relief package in May, the PPP has approved more than 4.5 million forgivable loans worth $512 billion. Eligible businesses that have not yet applied and are interested in doing so can still apply through June 30th.

Also, as the end of the covered period is soon approaching for some PPP borrowers, SBA and the Department of Treasury have implemented a streamlined loan forgiveness process. In addition to condensing the full application that reflects changes recently made by Congress, the SBA also published a new “EZ application” which requires less work for loan recipients who meet certain criteria. You can CLICK HERE to learn more, or review those new applications. Additionally, the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently announced new flexibilities in PPP eligibility rules for small business owners with past felony convictions. These are small businesses owners who did what was asked of them: paid their debt to society and have made great efforts to be productive members of their community.

Looking at SBA’s EIDL program, more than 1.3 million loans have been approved. This amounts to nearly $90 billion in lifesaving funds, $3 billion of which have been used in Georgia. On June 15, SBA announced that it will resume accepting new EIDL Loan and Advance applications for qualified small businesses. And if you have already submitted an EIDL application, SBA has said it will continue to process those as submitted. If you are in need of assistance with the SBA regarding the status of your EIDL application, please contact my district office at 770-232-3005.

I have heard from many of you about how crucial these lines of support have been throughout the pandemic. Please know that Congress is doing its best to ensure that workers are safe amidst our country’s reopening and businesses are well-equipped for a new normal. Our economic growth and security are dependent on their vibrant return, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress on how we can best target any future means of support.  

 

SELECT COMMITTEE EXAMINES SOLUTIONS FOR INCREASING CAPACITY

Last week, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress held a virtual meeting with the American Political Science Association (APSA) to discuss ways to increase Congressional capacity and allow the Article I branch to function at its most optimal level. Our panel included Dr. Eric Schickler, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley and co-chair of the APSA Task Force on Congressional Reform, Dr. Ruth Bloch Rubin, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago and member of the Congressional Capacity Subcommittee on the APSA Task Force, and Dr. Michael D. Minta, Associate Professor in Political Science at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. They spoke about the task force they put together in order to draft recommendations for our committee to consider.

The recommendations they offered included an increase in the number of staff in personal offices to address both the breadth of policy issues in Washington, D.C., and the constituent service needs in the district; an increase in policy staff in committee offices to bring them on par with executive branch expertise; expand Congressional support entities like the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to bolster our evolving policy needs; and diversify staff to more closely reflect that of the nation.

I value the input offered by the APSA Task Force, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Modernization Committee to draft solutions that will increase Congress’s capacity to better serve the American people.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: A FEDERAL RESPONSE TO POLICE REFORM

I would like to thank the folks who have contacted my office in recent weeks to share their thoughts on how the federal government can do more to improve the effectiveness our nation’s law enforcement agencies. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Scott from Duluth:

I’m writing to express my support for measures to reform policing in the US. It’s long overdue that we actively support measures to promote equitable policing in our communities, and stop tolerating anything less, any policing based on race or color alone. It’s high time we actively attack racism in our society, and right now is a great time to start with policing.

Sandra from Grayson:

I hope you and your colleagues will work together on a bill to regulate policeman who go outside the bounds of their training and regulations and kill people. We need reform.

Daniel from Peachtree Corners:

I write to you as many others do about the on-going police brutality not just against African Americans, but against all citizens from all races. It seems as of late there have been multiple unnecessary killings of individuals during routine police calls as well as an increase in using excessive force. This is very unsettling to me since we depend on the authorities to keep the peace of people and to promote a safe society. Please consider reforming policing practices and help turn the tide of recent events. 

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The vast majority of police officers have a genuine interest in protecting and serving their communities, and I applaud and thank them for it.  We are lucky to have men and women who are willing to take this very serious risk to serve and protect our communities.  But as we know, there are actions committed by some that contradict these good intentions. To root out bad actors, we must take meaningful steps toward increasing the transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of our nation’s law enforcement officers, and our state and local governments are certainly the best equipped to make those changes. That said, there is still a role for the federal government in this area, and to this end, I would like to discuss the JUSTICE Act, which I proudly cosponsored last week when it was introduced in the House.

Currently, fewer than half of our nation’s law enforcement officers submit detailed information on their use of force when on the job. The JUSTICE Act would remedy this situation by requiring police departments to report data annually on the use of force that involves death, serious bodily injury, or the discharge of a firearm, as well as the use of “no-knock” warrants and details on whether force was used or if death or injury occurred. The bill would go further on the topic of transparency by providing funds for state and local law enforcement agencies to equip officers with body cameras and increase their capacity to store footage.

As we know, police officers often encounter high-stress, high-stake situations in which they must rely heavily on their training and experience. This legislation would ban the use of chokeholds for all situations other than those in which deadly force would be authorized, and it would direct the DOJ to develop and provide training that has an emphasis on de-escalation techniques. These are provisions that would help provide the necessary tools and instruction to help officers handle the high-stress situations that they are bound to face in the line of duty.

Another portion of the bill is aimed specifically at those law enforcement officials that fail to meet the standards of the profession. This bill would increase the criminal penalties for those who willfully falsify a police report as well as establish an accessible disciplinary records system to help prevent bad actors from leaving one department and being rehired in another.

Again, while I believe the most meaningful reforms of America’s police departments should begin locally, the JUSTICE Act is a commonsense approach that provides a valuable framework to improve the accountability of our local law enforcement agencies and most importantly, keep Americans safe.  

 

THE KIWANIS CLUB OF CUMMING TO LAUNCH ANNUAL DONATION DRIVE

Over the last few months, the nonprofits supporting the people of the Seventh District have been working tirelessly to meet our community’s growing needs. This week, I want to recognize the Kiwanis Club of Cumming which has served our community since it was chartered in 1948. On July 7, the Kiwanis Club of Cumming hopes to inspire a spirit of charitable giving with its first annual Christmas in July donation drive. The donations collected at the event will benefit four local nonprofits: Bald Ridge Lodge, Jesse’s Home, the Place of Forsyth County, and CASA of Forsyth County (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Representatives from each of these nonprofits will be present at the donation drive to share information and to answer any questions on their work. It is truly incredible to see organizations like the Kiwanis Club of Cumming go above and beyond to improve the world around them for over 70 years.

 

TWO RECENT GRADUATES OF THE U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY CALL THE SEVENTH DISTRICT HOME

Here in the Seventh District, we are always proud of the brave men and women who serve in the American military. That’s why this week, I would like to congratulate all the recent graduates from the U.S. Service Academies, including two recent graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy who call the Seventh District home.

Following his graduation from the Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, I nominated Ford Higgins of Peachtree Corners to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. During his years as a Midshipman, Higgins displayed outstanding leadership, particularly in his athletic pursuits. In fact, he was voted “Captain of Captains” of all the Naval Academy’s athletic teams during his senior year. Higgins has certainly achieved notable success, but he isn’t the only recent Naval Academy graduate who has made our district proud.

Kendel Wright of Buford graduated from Mountain View High School in Lawrenceville before joining the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 2020. As Midshipmen, both candidates spent four years receiving a world class education, developing strong leadership skills, and preparing to serve in the U.S. military. On May 22, 2020, both Higgins and Wright received their bachelor’s degrees and were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps. Their success is certainly something for all of us to celebrate as they begin this new chapter in their lives.

Congratulations to Second Lieutenants Higgins and Wright upon your graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and your commissions into the U.S. Marine Corps. I wish you both the best of luck as you each pursue careers in the military and I thank you for your service to the United States.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

The busy committee schedule that the House had last week will continue this week as we prepare to return to Washington, D.C. at the end of the month. This week, the House Rules Committee is planning to meet on Wednesday to consider up to six measures that will bring ideas as disparate as police reform, health care, DC statehood, and credit scores to the floor. Last week’s committee hearings were contentious, and I expect that to continue this week, as we try to convince Speaker Pelosi that amendments should be allowed to be offered to these important measures. Input from all sides of the political debate makes better legislation that is more responsive to the needs of the American people and I look forward to that positive outcome.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 6/15/20

2020/06/15

EXAMINING TRANSPORTATION WORKFORCE NEEDS DURING THE PANDEMIC

As the novel coronavirus began to grip the country and force us into self-isolation, many of our friends and neighbors throughout the country continued to work both to secure vital supply chains, bringing us food and other necessities, and to ensure essential workers could travel safely where they were needed. The work of transportation workers – including pilots, flight attendants, truck drivers, bus drivers, and train operators – helped countless Americans weather the fiercest blows of the pandemic. Now that the country begins to focus on reopening and economic recovery efforts, we must also focus on ways we can make sure these transportation workers are equipped to continue their work in safe conditions.

Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing entitled, “On the Front Lines: The Impacts of COVID-19 on Transportation Workers,” to examine how various industries adapted to the evolving needs induced by the spread of the coronavirus. These discussions ranged from how to protect train and bus operators on public transportation to enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing standards on the ground during the pre-boarding process, to in the air during long-distance flights. The Committee also focused on the demands placed on the trucking industry as it continues to keep storefronts stocked and medical workers equipped with personal protective equipment, while also understanding how other supply chain demands like fuel and manufacturing have slowed, casing the industry to contract.

As Congress begins to draft another coronavirus response package, we must focus on ways the federal government can appropriately contribute to the safety and wellbeing of transportation workers and those who travel in a way that will not be overly taxing on industries attempting to rebound. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee plays a unique role in this area, and I am hopeful we can work in a constructive bipartisan manner to craft solutions that will sustain our nation’s transportation needs.

 

SAFETYNET ROLLOUT TO HEALTHCARE FACILITIES CONTINUES

The public health threat from COVID-19 has levied a heavy burden on our nation’s healthcare providers. In order to respond, hospitals were required not only to divert personnel and resources to treat an influx of COVID-19 patients, but also to postpone elective surgeries and suspend routine services in the early months of the pandemic. This left hospitals with massive revenue shortfalls well below the operating revenue they would typically need to stay open. And as our nation works to adapt to the continued presence of COVID-19 amid a larger reopening of our economy, the critical role of our hospitals as part of our public health response is far from over. The threat of COVID-19 still lingers, and we must all continue to do our part to limit community transmission and reduce new rates of infection by following proper public health and social distancing guidelines.

One of the largest sources of relief for healthcare providers has come through the Provider Relief Fund. In it, Congress has already allocated $175 billion to reimburse eligible providers for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are directly attributable to COVID-19. Following a bipartisan call to action from Congressional health leadership about the delays that some Medicaid providers have seen in receiving funding through the program, last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $25 billion in new funding through the Provider Relief Fund. That includes $15 billion to eligible Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program providers that have not yet been supported through the fund, as well as $10 billion to assist hospitals already operating on thin margins and supporting our most vulnerable populations. This is in addition to the roughly $77 billion already allocated through the Fund, and pediatricians, obstetrician-gynecologists, dentists, opioid treatment and behavioral health providers, assisted living facilities and other home and community-based services providers are types of eligible providers that can expect to be supported through this new allocation of funding. As HHS continues to work to distribute available funding, I appreciate the notes of support I have heard from you all back home to ensure our hospitals and providers can continue meeting the health needs of our communities.

 

GOVERNOR KEMP ISSUES NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER ON REOPENING GUIDELINES

Cities and states across the country are continuing their efforts to coordinate the safe reopening of businesses and services in their state amid the continued presence of COVID-19. These reopenings have looked different depending on where you are in the country, as no single state has been impacted in the same way in terms of community transmission, new rates of infection, projected peak, and available resources to respond to the virus.

With regards to those efforts in Georgia, Governor Kemp issued an updated executive order detailing further reopening guidelines and restrictions in our state effective tomorrow. This order lifts the shelter in place orders for individuals ages 65 and older but continues through June 30 those orders for medically fragile individuals, including those who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and those with certain underlying health conditions. Additionally, among other updates, the order restricts gatherings to 50 people unless social distancing can be maintained, eliminates party maximum restrictions in restaurants and dining rooms, and allows sports, live performance venues, and conventions to host events beginning July 1. However, performance venues and conventions are required to meet roughly 20 additional requirements, and sports teams (professional, collegiate, and high school) must operate in accordance with the rules and guidelines set by their conference or association. Amateur sports team and organizations must adhere to public guidelines.

And as the order stresses, all residents and visitors in Georgia shall continue to practice prescribed social distancing guidelines and sanitation guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are strongly encouraged to continue to appropriately wear protective face coverings in public. I encourage businesses looking to coordinate their respective reopening or continue their operations, as well as individuals, to read those complete guidelines HERE to stay informed about procedures to follow in our state.

 

ENSURING TIMELY PASSPORT PROCESSING

For those of you who have ever applied for or renewed a passport, you are familiar with how the process usually takes weeks before you receive the final product. However, with the federal government ceasing consular activity in March to protect U.S. State Department staff, a backlog of passport applications has begun to pile up with no recourse for folks to figure out where their application is in the process. Passports are essential for international travel, and as people begin to travel more for business and pleasure, it is vital for our economic recovery that they have the tools that they need to do so. But passports are also a necessary form of identification for many who do not have any alternative form of ID. For these folks, this passport backlog poses a serious issue, especially during election time where they may be required to show ID to verify who they are.

That is why I joined my colleagues, Representatives Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), in asking Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch to make passport processing a priority and provide special assistance where needed.  I know the State Department will work hard to address this problem, and I am pleased to offer my team’s support to make sure everyone with a pending passport application receives their documentation in a timely manner.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

I would like to thank everyone who contacted my office last week to share their thoughts about how Congress should approach unemployment benefits in the next stimulus package. Here’s what some of you had to say.

Julie from Lawrenceville:

As you know, the travel industry is going to take many months to return and there are many of us impacted who WANT to go back to work. We need your support to continue the $600 unemployment benefit or perhaps similar program based on salary.

Cynthia from Grayson:

I am aware that the rate of unemployment in the United States has dramatically increased citizens who have signed up for unemployment. The intimidating numbers are no reason to ignore the people and leave them wondering how they will be able to pay bills once this pandemic has gone for good. People do not require thousands of dollars to know that they are being cared for; a little bit goes a long way. Just to give the people a portion will definitely give them hope and calm their minds.

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More than 44 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past three months, a number that bears comparison to only the worst economic periods in American history. As many of you know, the CARES Act passed in March offered a weekly $600 federal unemployment payment through July 31, in addition to other state benefits, to those who lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Recipients of this federal benefit included those who are not traditionally eligible, like gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, and employees of non-profits. But with this federal unemployment assistance set to expire at the end of July, it is now up to Congress to decide what steps we can take that best encourage a strong return of our nation’s labor force as our economy reopens.

Congress wants to serve the needs of employees and employers, and there have been a number of proposals introduced around this $600 weekly benefit.  Some proposals seek to expand it, others to alter it, and still others to eliminate the expanded benefit altogether. Expanding this benefit was a cornerstone of Speaker Pelosi’s partisan wish-list, also known as the HEROES Act, which was passed in the House on May 15. This legislation extended the federal unemployment payments through January 2021. However, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that if this extension is implemented, five of every six recipients would receive more from unemployment payments in those six months than they would from returning to the workforce – highlighting a troubling disincentive that could greatly hinder not only workers from returning to work but also businesses from meeting labor demand amid a larger economic reopening. 

While this additional assistance was made in good faith, it is clear that as more states and communities move forward in their reopening, our public policy must take steps to incentivize, not discourage, workers returning to work. That is why I cosponsored H.R. 7066 offered by House Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady which would allow workers keep up to two weeks of expanded unemployment benefits after accepting a job and enable employers to report job refusals to end federal benefits for those workers who have been offered work but do not accept it.  This plan strikes me as a good-faith compromise to jumpstart Americans’ job searches and a return to full employment.

As businesses begin to resume their operations in accordance with public health and government guidelines, I know we all want Americans to return to work safely. But with some studies showing that two-thirds of laid-off workers receive more money from unemployment benefits than from the work they were doing prior to the pandemic, we need to better support workers in their ability to return. And we must not forget all of the Americans who have been working on the frontlines throughout this pandemic and continue to do so, many who could have made more money than they do currently by staying home with the expanded federal UI benefit.

That said, the tide seems to be turning. Our economy has begun to reopen, and Americans are being called back to work. I look forward to continuing this conversation in the weeks to come and help find a compromise that provides the best solution for our country to move forward and return to a booming economy.

 

LOCAL AUTHOR DONATES PROCEEDS FROM AWARD-WINNING NOVEL TO SOUTHEASTERN GWINNETT COOPERATIVE

The Seventh District has a long history of generous, hard-working people who give what they can to build a stronger community. This week, I would like to recognize local author Tim Westover for donating the proceeds for his award-winning novel “The Winter Sisters” to the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative, a local food bank in Grayson, Georgia. The Cooperative has given out over 300,000 pounds of food to those in need over the last two months, seeing about 700 cars pass through their drive-thru each week. Westover says it was a “natural fit” for him to dedicate his novel’s proceeds to support the food bank because the novel is set in Gwinnett County. Thanks to Tim and other generous benefactors, the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative has been working hard to make sure that local families receive the support they need.

I know we are all grateful for the efforts of Tim and the dedicated staff of the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative for doing their part to strengthen our community and support our friends and neighbors who have faced unforeseen difficulties over the last few months. Your hard work and service-mindedness have certainly accomplished wonderful things.

 

SEVENTH DISTRICT LIBRARIES SCHEDULED TO REOPEN

Although the last few months have been challenging, the Seventh District is now safely preparing to transition to a new normal. Over the next few weeks, public libraries will begin to reopen throughout the Seventh District with adjusted hours, social distancing, increased sanitation measures, and other protocols to help protect library staff and patrons. All branches of the Forsyth County Public Library will reopen on June 15, and Gwinnett County Public Library branches will begin reopening on June 22. In order to maintain social distancing, a limited number of visiting patrons will be allowed inside each of the library buildings at any given time. The libraries will also continue contact-free curbside pickup for those who make an appointment with their local library branch.

In addition to the public library reopenings, the Gwinnett County Public School system is currently giving out books for students to keep in their personal library. The Books 2 Kids summer program will visit more than 80 school locations in June and July, giving out two books per student. Interested students and their families can find the Books 2 Kids calendar by clicking HERE.

I would like to thank Forsyth County Public Library and Gwinnett County Public Library branches for working hard to reopen safely for the public. I would also like to thank Gwinnett County Public Schools for bringing the Books 2 Kids program to our district to further encourage our students to read over the summer months. Your dedication to continue providing reading materials to the people of the Seventh District is admirable, and I hope you continue the good work with pride!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is breaking new ground. For the first time in the history of the United States House of Representatives, the Transportation Committee is going to hold a remote mark-up of a new surface transportation bill. I am concerned that Chairman DeFazio (D-OR) has decided to write this legislation as a partisan bill, without any input from Republicans in the House, from the Senate, or from the White House. The “go-it-alone” approach to legislating never works well for the American people. If you’d like to see it for yourself, on June 17 at 10:00am, you can CLICK HERE to watch the markup live, even though many members of the committee won’t be in Washington, D.C., they’ll be participating remotely from around the country.

You might also like to tune-in to this week’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing, which is also on June 17. The Committee will hear from United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the Administration’s 2020 Trade Agenda, including information about the implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), which goes into effect in July.

Finally, we all know how recent protests have been front and center in many lives in the past few weeks, and that is certainly the case in Congress as well. On Wednesday at 10:00am, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a markup of H.R. 7120, the “Justice in Policing Act.” I think this bill is a fair starting point for the House to work together to find understanding and make changes.  I hope that the markup is a step forward where men and women of good conscience can work in concert to amend the bill where needed and ultimately provide a measure to the House that can get hundreds of bipartisan votes. At a time when we all know many communities have police departments that they believe need reform, it would be a shame to let this opportunity for joint action be usurped by partisans who would rather take a “my way or the highway” approach.

You can see a full list of committee hearings for this week by CLICKING HERE.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 6/8/20

2020/06/08

AMERICANS UNITE AGAINST RACISM AND VIOLENCE  

All our hearts are filled with anguish by the events leading to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have listened and learned from all of you about the pain and injustices experienced in our community and around the country. Peaceful protests seen across our country this past week are a testament both to that pain and America’s true character as a nation that comes together for growth and change. The amazing acts of kindness and courage that we see in the aftermath of tragedy reassure us that those who commit acts of hate are a shrinking minority.

Progress cannot be achieved through violence or intimidation. While I have never felt the personal pain and suffering that racism brings, I know that too many of our friends and neighbors have. I know that we have worked hard as a nation to change that, and I know that we must work harder still. Community leader after community leader has stepped forward to bring unity, healing, and change, and that is the America that I know and love.

In the days ahead, we must continue to seek justice for the Floyd family, we must continue listening and learning from peaceful protestors, and we must continue holding accountable those who exploit this moment of national pain and tragedy for their own violent or selfish schemes. Such is the America that we want for our children and our grandchildren, and working together, we can ensure it.

 

ENCOURAGING JOB REBOUND REPORTED IN MAY 

As states across the country come back online and businesses begin to reopen, Americans are returning to work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics released its jobs report for May on Friday showing a record 2.5 million went back to work, bringing the unemployment rate down to 13.3%. Food and drink services saw some of the highest job growth with 1.4 million jobs as bars and restaurants slowly roll out new ways to provide for their customers. Hospitality, retail, and healthcare services also saw significant growth after two months of job losses in those industries. And while there was some added discussion about how the numbers were calculated over the weekend, which you can read about in the Washington Post article below, I think we should all take heart in the good news.

Though the road ahead is still full of challenges, these trends show us that we may have begun our initial recovery from the pandemic’s economic impact. It’s promising to see America’s resiliency and economic strength on display as we forge ahead taking every precaution to return people to work and open for business.

 

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM REFORMS SIGNED INTO LAW

The House recently took steps to reform the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), passing legislation to add greater flexibility regarding the use of PPP funds so that the program better supports small businesses impacted by the economic scourge of COVID-19. And last week, after the Senate approved the measure by voice vote, President Trump on Friday signed these reforms into law.

As detailed in last week’s e-newsletter, some of the changes in this bill include reducing the threshold from 75 to 60 percent on loan proceeds that must be spent on payroll costs, an extension in the time PPP funds can be spent, and an extension of the time period that employers have to rehire employees and restore salary levels in order to be eligible for forgiveness. I am glad that both Chambers acted in a bipartisan manner to move these reforms to the President’s desk for his signature, and I urge our federal agencies to swiftly enshrine these regulations with the clear and necessary guidance to provide greater and much-needed certainty as borrowers and lenders move forward.

 

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE DISCUSSES ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID-19

The House Budget Committee held its first remote hearing last Wednesday to discuss one of the most important issues facing our nation due to the COVID-19 crisis: the economic impacts caused by this virus.

While the pandemic is first and foremost a public health crisis, it is also an economic one. Large sectors of the economy, including financial markets were greatly affected. COVID-19 has left virtually no industry untouched as businesses of all sizes, schools, and offices were asked to shutter their doors to mitigate its spread. Drops in demand, widespread declines in the American workforce, and new uncertainties in various supply chains were all immediately felt. This demanded an aggressive and swift response from all levels of government.

I am proud of this Congress’ ability to come together during the early months of the crisis to pass legislation to provide relief as quickly as possible. Solving the immediate cash-flow needs caused by the virus in the early stages of the crisis was critically important, but in the days and weeks to follow, it is undeniable that our response as an institution will need to differ. To that end, it is crucial that we take steps to maximize the value of every dollar going out the door and target our federal lines of support where they are needed the most.

In a lot of ways, the work we do on the House Budget Committee is foreword-thinking, and I appreciated the opportunity to have two esteemed economists and former directors of the Congressional Budget Office - Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Dr. Douglas Elmendorf – join our Committee to hear their insights on what role the federal stimulus has played so far and what is needed in the future. This includes how we can ensure federal policy is incentivizing, not discouraging, folks to return to the workforce and the importance of our public health response in instilling a sense of confidence for workers when they do return by supporting the ability of businesses to adapt and operate in the continued presence of this virus. You can watch our full exchange, testimony from witnesses, and the hearing in its entirety by clicking HERE.

 

ADDRESSING LABOR NEEDS DURING AND AFTER THE PANDEMIC

Before states required businesses to shut down to protect Americans from the COVID-19 outbreak, the American economy was booming. Our historically low unemployment made it a job-seeker’s market, and the record number of job openings drew more people into the workforce. You will remember at that time many industries still struggled to find a reliable workforce with the advanced skillset necessary to fill their openings. There is no better example of this issue than the healthcare industry.

Hospitals across the country have faced nurse and doctor shortages for years, and with the onset of the pandemic, their workforce was stretched thin as demand increased with patients flooding into the emergency room. While some of these hospitals equipped themselves with foreign-born doctors and nurses, the terms of their visas restricted them from treating coronavirus patients. That is why I joined my colleagues in requesting that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security provide flexibility to these healthcare professionals as we combat the coronavirus, and for the Department to continue to process the visas of these healthcare workers so that we continue to fill the staffing needs of our nation’s hospitals.

Academic institutions are also vital to our post-pandemic recovery in their research of COVID-19 and any treatments or vaccines to mitigate the outbreak. A small yet vital number of these researchers are international students, but with visa processing coming to a halt, many of these researchers have summer and fall training start dates that are in jeopardy. This stoppage also puts President Trump’s mission to attract the best and the brightest minds from abroad at risk, as they may seek out other countries to build their practice. Recognizing the potential impacts, my colleagues and I sent a letter to the Administration to allow these visa programs to continue and mitigate any delays that would negatively impact our nation.

As Congress and state and local governments work to create a pipeline of highly skilled American students to fill the needs of our hospitals and research facilities, I will continue to work to make the United States the most attractive place for the worlds highest trained professionals.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: KEEPING WATER MANAGEMENT LOCAL

I would like to thank everyone who contacted my office last week to share your legislative priorities with me. I assure you that as the summer progresses, Congress will be working overtime to discuss the policies that were put on hold amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, I want to take a look at H.R. 6745, the “Clean Water For All Act.” Here’s what some of you had to say:

Allison from Alpharetta:

I urge you to support the clean water for all Act (H.R. 6745.) This important bill would restore protections to our nation’s waters and safeguard the drinking water sources for millions of people. This bill would also repeal the disastrous Dirty Water Rule, which gives corporate special interests a free pass to pollute streams and wetlands at the expense of everyone else. We need to do more, not less, to protect clean water.

Jennifer from Cumming:

This spring, the Clean Water for All Act was introduced in the House. This bill will help protect clean water across the nation, safeguarding our drinking water supply and the nation’s $887 billion outdoor economy. I urge you to consider

Diana from Sugar Hill:

The clean water for all Act would ensure that historic, bipartisan protections for America’s wetlands and streams are restored, by blocking the implementation of a harmful regulation that dramatically reduces the definition of “Waters of the United States.” This redefinition removes federal protections from more than half our nation’s wetlands and millions of miles of streams.

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In the past century, Congress has continually strengthened water protections, most notably in 1972 when Congress passed the Clean Water Act, which, among many of its provisions, established the basic structure for regulating pollution in our waters and tasked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with implementing various pollution control programs. While this policy has had undeniable success in keeping our nation’s waters clean, it failed to explicitly define which waterways should be subject to federal protection. This issue has festered for years, and courts have struggled to reach a consensus. In an effort to clear up the confusion, the EPA recently issued its Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which helps to narrowly classify the “Waters of the United States.” 

Opponents of the new EPA rule believe it will increase pollution and compromise the purpose of the 1972 legislation. Here is where the legislation Allison, Jennifer, and Diana have mentioned, the “Clean Water for All Act,” comes in. This bill would repeal the EPA’s rule and pave the way for increased federal oversight of our local waterways.

I believe it is important that environmental laws do not go beyond the core mission and prioritize Washington interests over local stakeholders. The only way to prevent that from happening is to consolidate local control and limit the extent of federal intervention.  Again, I am absolutely committed to protecting our nation’s rivers, streams, and great bodies of water. I just simply reject the notion that Washington—rather than Gwinnett, Forsyth, or even the State of Georgia—should be in control of our precious local water resources. I am very proud of our local stewardship, and I have the utmost confidence that our local community can do the most to protect our distinct environmental priorities.

 

THE PLACE OF FORSYTH CONTINUES SERVICE DESPITE PANDEMIC

Over the last few months, the Seventh District has overcome the mounting challenges posed by COVID-19. Our success as a community in navigating through these difficult months is thanks in large part to the dedicated volunteers and nonprofits who have provided assistance for those with financial, food, or housing needs. The Place of Forsyth has partnered with numerous local organizations to maintain its supportive food pantry and other assistance programs, even as our community’s needs have increased. Over the last few months, The Place has received 140 financial assistance requests and has given out thousands of meals to those in need of food assistance. The Place rose to meet our community’s needs even as they faced economic uncertainty themselves. The Place’s thrift store is their main source of revenue, but the store closed due concerns about COVID-19. Despite the uncertainty and financial strain, The Place has been able to serve people in need by working tirelessly to keep their mission of community service alive.

Thank you to The Place of Forsyth County for consistently being a backbone of support for our resilient district, even in these challenging times. Our community is stronger for your efforts.

 

$1 MILLION RAISED TO SUPPORT LOCAL NONPROFITS

The charitable spirit of the Seventh District is one of our community’s greatest strengths, and that spirit has truly inspired some remarkable acts of kindness and generosity in recent months. We have seen individuals and nonprofits working on numerous projects to keep our community healthy and strong this year despite the challenges that the pandemic posed. The Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia established its Coronavirus Relief Fund in March to assist local nonprofits in their effort to meet the growing needs caused by the global health emergency.

Last week, the Community Foundation announced that it has surpassed its goal to raise $1 million dollars for their relief fund. Randy Redner, the nonprofit’s CEO and President said, “our heart to help those during a crisis is who we are as Americans,” so it comes as no surprise that our community has come together to raise so much money to help the less fortunate. The Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia has funded more than 50 grants, totaling over $630,000 to support local nonprofits over the last three months. Although the Community Foundation has already met its goal, the dedicated organization hopes to continue collecting donations to support local nonprofits who in turn will directly support members of our community in need of assistance.

I would like to thank the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia for going above and beyond to support our community. I would also like to thank anyone who has donated or volunteered to aid in the effort to give back to those in our district who need assistance. Our collective efforts to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 help to ensure that no one will be left behind as we seek to recover from these last few months. It is my sincere wish that we continue to help one another and to be a positive presence in the lives of all of our family, friends, and neighbors in the months to come.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

Though votes will not be held on the floor of the House this week, House Committees will be working, including the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on which I sit. Bipartisan negotiation and agreement doesn’t happen all at one time; it comes from sitting down together and working out our differences. Different committees are handling that challenge in different ways, but all are trying to use each day to make a little progress. You can CLICK HERE to see a list of all the House’s remote committee meetings to stay up to date on what we’re working on this week and in the future.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

Read More

Washington Watch - 6/1/20

2020/06/01

HOUSE ADDS FLEXIBILITY TO PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

Of Congress’s collective COVID-19 relief efforts, the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) within the Small Business Administration (SBA) is one we have seen provide critical and direct lines of support to our nation’s small businesses in keeping workers employed as we work to address the public health threat posed by this virus. Amid the growing pains and immediate challenges that came with the implementation and rollout of such a new and expansive program, we have seen successes. Over 4 million loans have been approved, with roughly 80% of those loan amounts totaling $100,000 or less — a strong indicator of how this program has been able to serve as a lifeline for small business owners who truly need that support the most.

Last week, the House passed H.R. 7010, the “Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act” on a nearly unanimous basis. As we have come to learn, the effects of the pandemic extend beyond what we could initially envision at the onset of the crisis, and our public policy must work to meet the needs of individuals on the ground. It is critical that the core function of the Paycheck Protection Program continues to be one that lives up to its name – keeping workers on payroll, but it is undeniable that there are steps we can take to add flexibility to the program so it can better serve those as it was intended.

Some of the most notable changes to the program included in the House-passed legislation would:

  • Extend the time PPP funds can be spent and be forgiven from 8 weeks to 24 weeks
  • Extend the time period that employers would have to rehire employees and restore salary levels to be eligible for loan forgiveness from June 30 to December 31.
  • Reduce the required threshold from 75% to 60% for the loan amount that must be used on payroll costs in order to be forgiven. Funds not used for payroll costs must still be used for eligible non payroll costs in order to qualify for loan forgiveness.
  • Repeal the exemption in the CARES Act that PPP recipients are not eligible to delay paying Social Security FICA taxes for 2020.
  • Extends the maturity date of new loans to a minimum of 5 years. And, for previously issued loans, lenders and borrowers would not be prohibited from modifying loan terms to align with this change.

Having heard from many of you back home, I know this added flexibility stands to provide additional relief in a meaningful way. I am hopeful the Senate will work to quickly move a bill to the President’s desk so that businesses can have some clarity when moving forward.

 

WORKING TOWARD A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON INTELLIGENCE

As you may have read in our Week Ahead section last week, the House was expected to consider a Senate-amended version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this week with at least one additional bipartisan amendment from Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Warren Davidson (R-OH). The Lofgren/Davidson amendment would have increased protections for Americans to ensure that FISA investigations would not infringe upon the Constitutional rights of U.S. persons. Unfortunately, that bipartisan amendment, which was almost identical to an amendment that fell just one vote shy of a super majority in the Senate, was blocked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from being voted on. In addition, you probably heard that President Trump was concerned that the Senate-amended version of the bill didn’t protect Americans from possibly inappropriate FISA investigations, and he threatened to veto the bill had the House sent it to his desk.

While I would have liked to have the important debate on the Lofgren/Davidson amendment last week, I am pleased that the House voted to send the bill to a Conference Committee with the Senate so that we can continue working out our differences. With more time to negotiate with each other and find the appropriate bipartisan balance, Congress can pass a bill that the President will sign and that will protect Americans from terrorists and preserve our rights.

 

ADDRESSING BEIJING’S VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The House returned last week to consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote in favor of the legislation for passage. One of the bills the House considered was S. 3744, the “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.”

It comes to no surprise for many of us that the Chinese Communist Party would take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to double down on the violation of its citizens civil liberties and human rights. And as many of you are aware, Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region have been targeted, surveilled, imprisoned, and tortured for years in the guise of China’s “re-education centers.” That is why I was pleased the House overwhelmingly passed S. 3744 last Wednesday to call for the end of these human rights abuses and sanction senior Chinese officials who are directly responsible for the ongoing repression. The bill now goes to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

Additionally, Congress continues to monitor the ongoing situation in Hong Kong. In the 1997 agreement with the United Kingdom, China agreed to retain Hong Kong’s autonomous status until 2047. However, in recent weeks Beijing has taken steps to impose stricter laws on Hong Kong, virtually stripping it of its autonomy and making it easier to crack-down on pro-democracy activists. President Trump spoke about this issue in his Friday press conference where he announced that the Administration will be taking steps to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials, as well as rescind Hong Kong’s special status.

America stands for freedom loving people and those yearning for democratic representation across the globe. Congress and the White House are in lock-step when it comes to applying pressure on the Chinese government for its violations of its peoples’ rights, and we will continue to do all that is within our power to aid those seeking liberty.

 

EXHIBITING GEORGIA MANUFACTURING STRENGTH

With Georgia leading from the front when it comes to reopening for business, I wanted to highlight one industry that has already begun to get our nation’s economy back on track: Georgia manufacturers. During my call last week with Jason Moss, CEO of the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance (GMA), I was able to learn how manufacturers are using the Paycheck Protection Program to help them bridge the gap between forced closures due to the coronavirus and when they were able to reopen and rehire their employees. The program was essential in keeping their businesses intact so they can comeback online seamlessly. And as Georgia becomes the first state to come back online, businesses across the U.S. are looking to us to fill their production needs.

What’s more, I learned GMA will plan to move forward with its trade show coming this September where they will offer for the first time both in-person and virtual tickets. These trade shows are a vital way four manufacturing businesses everywhere to secure supply lines, update their equipment, and expand their operations – all things essential for our post-pandemic recovery.

I commend the adaptation and pragmatism of Georgia’s manufacturers in leading our economic recovery and showing that we are open for business.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: SAFEGUARDING OUR ELECTIONS

Thank you to all those who contacted my office last week to share your thoughts on how we can better improve the administration of elections here in Georgia amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As I read through your messages, I saw many of you discussing the recent proposal of mail-in voting. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Shawn from Buford:

Americans need to have total confidence that our votes are being counted and our voices are being heard. Mail-in voting simply will not give constituents like me that confidence. Please Representative Woodall, I urge you to protect my vote, put election security first, and oppose any and all efforts to expand mail-in voting.

Frank from Norcross:

I am reaching out to let you know that I DO NOT support national mail-in voting policies. One of the most important features of a Constitutional Republic is a fair and balanced election -- we cannot leave our electoral integrity up to chance.

Deborah from Berkeley Lake:

Our most basic right to insure a healthy democracy. As our Congressman you have a say in setting forth Federal policy. Stand up for us and allow GA to use mail-in ballots for our presidential election this November. Our future depends on this.

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Of course, voting is a foundational privilege, right, and obligation here in America. It is crucial that we take the necessary steps, especially now during this public health crisis, to protect this privilege and ensure that those who are eligible to vote are able to do so without undue burden.

That said, the federal government’s role is limited when it comes to our elections. Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states that the “times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.” In Georgia, the legislature has entrusted that power to the Secretary of State, and as such, he is largely responsible for overseeing and administering elections, even federal ones, back home.

We saw this in action last month when Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger took charge and sent 6.9 million absentee ballot applications to Georgia’s active voters in an effort to encourage voting by mail for our primary elections. This was an unprecedented measure that helped us overcome the challenges posed by this unprecedented health crisis. I am confident that other states can replicate these efforts and make similar accommodations, without significant federal intervention, that will help maximize voter participation and keep Americans safe.

Again, there is nothing more important than making certain that you are able to vote in local, state, and national elections. States will take the lead in administering elections and making institutional changes, like the implementation of mail-in voting, but I recognize there may be a need for federal assistance. To that end, I assure you that I am wholly committed to supporting federal measures that assist states’ ability to safeguard our free, democratic elections.

As you know, early voting in Georgia has begun. To confirm if you are registered to vote click HERE. For more information on your local polling place click HERE. If you are in need of any special accommodation to cast your vote, I encourage you to reach out to the Secretary of State’s office HERE.

 

SENIORS AT WEST FORSYTH HIGH SCHOOL GIVE BACK TO THOSE IN NEED

Here in the Seventh District, we value and cherish the undeniable sense of community we share. Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, we have continued to find ways to support our neighbors in need.

This week, I would like to recognize the graduating seniors at West Forsyth High School for their efforts to stock our local food pantries with breakfast items. The graduating students had hoped to come together to continue a West Forsyth tradition by sharing a celebratory Senior Breakfast, but the event was cancelled due to concerns about COVID-19. Despite this disappointing news, the students of West Forsyth realized there was still a way they could come together during this special time in their lives. Instead of sharing a meal with just their classmates, these students are hoping to share meals with the residents of Forsyth County in need of food assistance. The students are aiming to gather 2,020 boxes of oatmeal and cereal to donate to The Place of Forsyth County and the Meals by Grace food pantries. With great attitudes and a can-do spirit, these students and their supportive families are working together to keep everyone in our community fed over the summer months.

I would like to thank all of the seniors at West Forsyth who didn’t let the disappointment of a cancelled celebratory breakfast spoil their generosity and community spirit. Congratulations to all of you upon your graduation and thank you for your hard work.  

 

GWINNETT COUNTY NAMED ONE OF THE BEST COMMUNITIES FOR MUSIC EDUCATION

As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close, Gwinnett County Public Schools is celebrating its many accomplishments and achievements, including its recognition as one of the places for music education in the country. The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) is an organization dedicated to supporting music and musical education in the United States. The NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) program honors school districts that have demonstrated notable support and commitment to the arts. Recognition through the BCME program validates the hard work and extraordinary efforts of the Gwinnett County school district, including the faculty, staff, students, and parents who work together to help young musical talent flourish in our district.

Congratulations to Gwinnett County Public Schools upon your recognition for quality music education. Your hard work and dedication to music and the arts has brought pride not only to Gwinnett County, but to the entire Seventh District.

Sincerely,


Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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District Connection - 5/26/20

2020/05/26

MEMORIAL DAY: REMEMBERING THEIR SACRIFICE

Although the circumstances of this year’s Memorial Day were unlike any of recent memory, we will always be reminded of how thankful we are for our brave servicemen and women who gave all to protect our freedoms. While we can never repay this debt, we can always express our gratitude. Whether you were isolating at home or social distancing outside, I hope you were able to remember those we honor on Memorial Day with your loved ones.

 

WORKING TOWARD BIPARTISAN BUDGET REFORMS

In an effort to provide relief as quickly as possible during this pandemic, Congress mounted an aggressive effort to aid hospitals, healthcare workers, the afflicted, families, and businesses. But those actions to mitigate the impact of this crisis have come with a serious consequence for our nation’s long-term fiscal health, with projections indicating that this year’s deficit will land at $3.8 trillion – the largest in American history and four times larger than last year.

Now more than ever, Congress must pay close attention to the dollars going out the door and ensure these funds are being spent efficiently and effectively. That is why I have joined Representatives Jodey Arrington (R-TX) and Scott Peters (D-CA) to work with House Leadership to include bipartisan budget reforms in any upcoming pandemic response legislation. As I discussed in my previous newsletter, Representatives Arrington and Peters have been bringing Republicans and Democrats together around shared budget reform solutions that Congress can act on today. These suggested reforms can make Congress more efficient in addressing our fiscal challenges, like Social Security and Medicare as well as lead to the establishment of debt-to-GDP targets to help achieve long-term goals.

Of course, while solving our long-standing budgetary challenges won’t be quick or easy to accomplish, there are steps that can be taken to put us on a better path. I am grateful there are Members who are coming together to advocate for a budget-minded focus at this time so our future recovery efforts are smart, targeted, and forward thinking.

 

USDA ANNOUNCES ONLINE SNAP BENEFITS COMING TO GEORGIA

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that thirteen additional states, including Georgia, will soon be able to purchase food online with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began a two-year pilot program authorized by Congress so that individuals who receive SNAP benefits have greater opportunities for food access with the ability to order and pay for eligible food items online (minus delivery costs) from approved retailers.

Due to the pandemic, we have seen challenges grow for those who already face difficulties in shopping for groceries at brick and mortar locations. That is why since the onset of this crisis, USDA has expanded online SNAP purchasing to 36 states and the District of Columbia. As our state looks to launch this program, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service recommends that in places where this program is not yet operational, that cardholders utilize options that grocery stores may already provide, like pay at pick up. If you have questions about SNAP eligibility or program benefits in our state, I encourage you to contact the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.

 

MODERNIZATION COMMITTEE DISCUSSES REMOTE WORK FOR DISTRICT OFFICES

Whether it be securing veterans benefits, processing social security claims, repatriating constituents abroad, or assisting with Paycheck Protection Program loans, Congressional district office staff are essential in ensuring constituents are successful when navigating federal agencies. But unfortunately, with stay-at-home orders issued across the country, Congressional offices have shut their doors, and many have struggled to maintain the same level of support their constituents are accustomed.

That’s why the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress conducted a virtual meeting on district office continuity with Peter M. Weichlein, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, and Kristine Simmons, Vice President for Government Affairs at the Partnership for Public Service. Topics like obtaining necessary technology, updating existing hardware, and accessing broadband especially in rural districts were all addressed as part of our discussion. While the virus crisis is driving this discussion, we are finding ways that we can and should be serving constituents better and faster using new tools.  We couldn’t avoid the virus, but we can avoid missing the opportunity to learn lessons to be better servant leaders both during the virus lockdown and beyond.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: LIABILITY PROTECTIONS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

I would like to thank all of you who have contacted my office this past week to share your concerns about the next stimulus package. Please know that Congress and this Administration are hard at work monitoring the spread of this virus and assessing the needs for any additional legislative action. Today, I want to discuss one issue in particular that many of you have requested that I address. Here is what a few of you had to say:

Alice from Norcross:

As one of the businesses working in your district to keep food available in spite of the tremendous challenges this emergency has presented, I urge you to support reasonable limited liability safeguards in the next relief legislation. The grocery and food industry has worked around the clock for the past several weeks to help us through this pandemic. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our associates, shelves are stocked, stores are clean and sanitized, and customers are practicing social distancing. In spite of these extraordinary efforts, many grocery and food companies are beginning to see the efforts and ads by unscrupulous plaintiffs trying to make money off of this emergency. Given this real threat of damaging and time-consuming litigation by unscrupulous lawyers, we are asking for Congress to put some reasonable liability protections in place against such needless lawsuits.

Alexis from Duluth:

After following government guidance and implementing these unprecedented measures to safely provide the food that Americans need during this emergency, the last thing any critical infrastructure business wants to face is potentially crippling liability designed only to enrich the pockets of unscrupulous lawyers. We ask that you support a bipartisan effort for rational safeguards to protect good actors and good actions from abusive litigation in the next relief bill. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Let me start by saying I wholeheartedly agree with Alice and Alexis in their support for the inclusion of business and health care worker liability protection in the next stimulus bill. I have watched our Georgia businesses go to incredible lengths to keep their customers safe and successfully follow public health guidelines. I fear without liability protection, we could see a massive wave of litigation that hamstrings struggling businesses and stymies the economic recovery after the coronavirus subsides.

To be clear, when we are talking about “protections,” this does not mean absolute immunity. Businesses that exhibit gross negligence or intentional misconduct all have and always will be prosecuted and held accountable. The purpose of this protection provision is simply to aid businesses and health care workers that are doing the right thing and are following public health guidelines to the best of their ability.

I am confident that there will be federal action on this issue soon, as Majority Leader McConnell has made this provision the Republicans’ “red line” for any future stimulus package. This issue is the key to maintaining a safe and orderly reopening of our economy, and I look forward to seeing it become a reality as negotiations proceed in the weeks to come.

 

SEVENTH DISTRICT CELEBRATES GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS

As our graduating high school seniors prepare for the next phase of their lives, they will be celebrating their rite of passage a little differently than most. In-person graduation ceremonies were postponed due to health and safety concerns over the coronavirus. Both Forsyth County and Gwinnett County hope to have in-person celebrations for the graduating seniors in July, but students and their families will still be able to celebrate the Class of 2020 virtually this month. Gwinnett County celebrated its graduating high school students with virtual ceremonies last week, and Forsyth County will host a virtual graduation ceremony on May 26.

Our district’s students have accomplished remarkable things throughout their academic careers and have won numerous awards, scholarships, and commendations. Among these graduating students are two of the nation’s 161 Presidential Scholars, Albert Zhang of Northview High School and Alice Ao of Peachtree Ridge High School. This honor is given to graduating high school seniors for outstanding academic excellence, accomplishments in the arts and career and technical fields, and civic contributions. It’s incredible to see not only one, but two 7th District constituents receive this prestigious award. Their success and the success of their fellow students are certainly cause for our community to celebrate.

Congratulations to the graduating Class of 2020 on all of your outstanding achievements. Please know that your community is cheering for you and looks forward to seeing where your lives will lead in the future.

 

AURORA THEATRE OFFERS FREE SHOWS ONLINE

The Aurora Theatre has been a staple of our district’s artistic community since it opened its doors in Lawrenceville in 2007. Although the theatre is temporarily closed due to concerns about the coronavirus, Aurora Theatre is now offering free live shows online on Wednesdays throughout May. Aurora’s Associate Artistic Director, Justin Anderson, curated this digital performance series known as Cyber Stage with plays that were specifically created to be performed virtually. The plays will be performed by professional actors from the Aurora Apprentice program and they will be streamed live to anyone with a ticket reserved in advance.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week, the House is expected to consider the Senate-amended version of H.R. 6172, the “USA Freedom Reauthorization Act.” The bill reauthorizes and amends parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is a critical tool used by America’s Intelligence Community (IC) to prevent terrorist attacks and protect Americans from harm. Of course, we all know that FISA courts have been abused in recent years, and the Senate amendment to this bill is meant to ensure that abuse never happens again. I look forward to working with my colleagues to support the Senate’s amendment and move this bill to the President’s desk.

Sincerely,


Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Washington Watch - 5/18/20

2020/05/18

HOUSE DEMOCRATS PASS PARTISAN WISH-LIST LEGISLATION AMID PANDEMIC

Every one of us understands the need for Congress to pass legislation to provide relief to families, healthcare workers, emergency responders, those who have fallen ill, those most susceptible to infection, employees who have lost their jobs, and businesses big and small. It’s our responsibility to work together – majority and minority, House and Senate, Congress and White House – so that we can provide solutions for the American people. That is why I was disappointed to see Speaker Pelosi call back the House to vote on H.R. 6800, an 1,800 page, $3 trillion bill drafted unilaterally by the majority behind closed doors that doesn’t have a remote chance of ever becoming law.  

Some sections of the bill have coronavirus nexus. Those provisions that we could have agreed on include funding for healthcare providers, access to food, and support for the agricultural industry. However, much of the bill is packed with Democrat priorities that have nothing to do with providing emergency pandemic relief. This included eliminating the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap for their constituents in highly taxed states; federalizing the election process by stripping power from our state and local election officials; and much more.

 

Woodall HEROES Act

Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-07) speaks on the House floor during Rule debate for consideration of H.R. 6800

 

While the Speaker was able to jam her bill through the House, opposition to it was bipartisan. It has no chance of being considered in the Senate, and the President has promised to veto it if it ever made it to him. So with this partisan exercise in futility behind us, I am hopeful Congress will continue its multilateral negotiations to evaluate which emergency programs are working, which aren’t, where there is need for federal intervention, and where there’s need for the federal government to recede. 

Friday’s vote shows again that any “go-it-alone” strategy is doomed to fail, and that we must work together and make tough decisions if we are to ensure we are looking after the best interests of the American people.

 

COVID-19 RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES MOVE FORWARD

Since the onset of this crisis, our federal agencies have been working around the clock to accelerate the development and deployment of medical advancements to directly address COVID-19. While you are likely familiar with the work of agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), one such agency you may have heard less about but has been critical to this effort is the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

BARDA is part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and its role supports the advancement of medical countermeasures such as vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics from research through advanced development, largely by engaging stakeholders in industry and the research and development community. Congress has allocated roughly $6.5 billion directly to BARDA to support its mission. The agency’s work includes efforts to support the development of the investigational treatment, convalescent plasma, to aid in patient recovery, as well as those to develop a rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test that can be administered at home.

Additionally, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is continuing to support several clinical trials aimed at addressing COVID-19. Critical to that effort is its clinical trials network – the Clinical Research Consortium – that was established at the end of 2019 to develop and improve vaccines and treatments for numerous infectious diseases. In fact, Emory University here in Atlanta is one of nine institutions part of that consortium, and it has been involved in NIAID-funded efforts to study an investigational vaccine for COVID-19.

On that front, NIAID has stressed the importance of accelerating multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and it has become increasingly clear that coordination from both the public and private sector will be critical to our success in achieving widespread immunity. To that end, the World Health Organization has said that eight COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in clinical evaluation and 110 candidates are in preclinical evaluation, four of those in the United States and Europe.

These research and development activities are critically important to addressing the direct public health threat posed by COVID-19. I will continue to look for ways that Congress can boost these efforts as our nation begins to plan for the next stages amid a more widespread reopening.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: CONTACT TRACING VS. PRIVACY

Thank you again to all the folks who have reached out to my office to share your thoughts and concerns about COVID-19 and the federal policies you believe will help mitigate its harmful impact on the American people. This week, I would like to address one bill in particular – H.R. 6666, the “COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act.” This was a popular topic for many of you last week:

Vickie from Cumming:

I have read the text for H.R. 6666 and am appalled at the implications that the federal government would be tracking its citizens and/or forcing COVID testing on them, including in their homes.

Ann from Duluth:

I am opposed to H.R. 6666. There is entirely too much legislation coming out of the House which is overstepping the Constitutional rights of the United States citizens. I suggest counter proposals to bring legislation to the body that is not going to deduct from American's rights, but rather add to them.

Joy from Lilburn:

We need testing! We need the contact tracing! We need for you people to get it together, so we can feel safe going out & about!

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For those who are unfamiliar, contact tracing is the process of finding and contacting someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, reaching out to those who may have been exposed to that patient, and making sure those individuals are quarantined or monitored. As you can imagine, this is an incredibly laborious process. However, its importance cannot be understated. As public health officials have said, increased testing and contact tracing are the key to containing this virus and better monitoring its spread.  

That said, the TRACE Act as it stands is a concerning solution. This bill seeks to provide $100 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants for “diagnostic testing for COVID-19, to trace and monitor the contacts of infected individuals, and to support the quarantine of such contacts, through…testing individuals and providing [them] with services related to testing and quarantine at their residences.” While this language may seem honest and pure, I am concerned about its lack of specificity. What does supporting the quarantine of possible COVID patients look like? What kinds of services will be provided to those individuals? I believe these are the questions have to be asked before deciding to expend $100 billion of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to provide for such purposes.

But of utmost concern is that of which many of you have already mentioned – your right to privacy. While I support the use of contact tracing, I do not think that individuals should be forced to disclose their personal information. We also must ensure that any individually identifiable health information that is disclosed is properly secured and protected, in accordance with the robust privacy laws already in place.

To that end, I appreciate this bill’s adherence to longstanding federal privacy requirements, as well as Rep. Bobby Rush’s assurance that participation will be voluntary. However, I understand your concerns, and I assure you I am entirely committed to safeguarding your privacy, especially with bills like this that discuss at-home testing and quarantine related services.

I am pleased at the increased coordination we have seen in recent weeks between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state public health departments in order to improve states’ ability to detect, monitor, and prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is a crucial step that must be taken in order to reopen the U.S. economy, and my colleagues and I will continue working hard to find the best path forward to support them in this effort.

 

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS LAUNCHES FREE WEBINARS FOR EDUCATORS

Last week, I wrote to you about the Library of Congress’s reinvigorated efforts to engage the public through their website. Among their new program offerings are free, one-hour webinars for educators who would like to learn how to use primary sources to teach their students. There will be a variety of webinars available throughout the summer, including several special topics based on the Library’s exhibits. The first webinar will be held from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET on May 20, 2020 with a special focus on primary sources from the Library’s exhibit entitled, Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote. Educators can request a certificate of professional development for completing a live webinar. If you are interested in participating in any of these webinars, you can register HERE.

 

FORSYTH COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPPORT STUDENTS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS

The Seventh District is home to an outstanding school system thanks in large part to the exceptional leadership and organization of Forsyth County Public Schools. There are many reasons to be proud of our district’s schools, including Forsyth’s dedication to the 634 students experiencing homelessness in the county. Over the last few years, Forsyth County has launched several programs to support students experiencing homelessness to help them overcome the extra burdens they face. These programs include tutoring, life coaching, and a community youth liaison program with The Place of Forsyth County, a local nonprofit offering food, clothing, and other assistance to those in need.

Sadly, these programs have largely been interrupted by precautionary closures, but a dedicated team of teachers, social workers, counselors, and others has found ways to help these students to stay on top of their academics, despite the additional challenges presented by the pandemic. The team has reached out to these students experiencing homelessness to help meet their needs for food and shelter, as well as to provide the students with the technology they need to access virtual learning platforms. Through these exceptional efforts, all of the students of our district are continuing to receive the support they need to succeed.

I am so proud of our schools’ dedication and our students’ resiliency throughout these challenging times. Thank you to everyone for putting your best foot forward to make sure that the children of our district are receiving all of the support they need to thrive in our community.

 

GWINNETT EXTENDS FREE MEAL PROGRAM THROUGH THE SUMMER

When schools began to transition to virtual learning, students in the Seventh District in need of meal assistance did not have to worry. Schools throughout the district continued to prepare and deliver balanced, nutritious meals to students in need. In fact, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) provided 2.2 million meals for students over the last 2 months. GCPS has consistently gone above and beyond for their students, even during spring break when they continued to provide meals thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers at our local schools. The school meal program ended on May 15, but the students of Gwinnett County will still receive free meals throughout the summer thanks to a new partnership between GCPS and Gwinnett County Community Services. Beginning on Monday, May 18, grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches will be available to pick up at numerous locations around the county. Please click here to find a list of these locations.

I would like to thank all of the staff and volunteers who have continued to serve the students of our district throughout the pandemic. Your outstanding efforts to meet the essential needs of our district’s youth are surely helping to strengthen the bonds of our community.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

Now that the House has passed Speaker Pelosi’s liberal wish-list of non-COVID related matters, it is up to the U.S. Senate to bring rationality back to the legislative process. I expect that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will work with his committee leaders and the White House to craft additional COVID-related legislation that will truly help those who need it without wasting hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on policies that won’t help our first responders, hospitals, police, or other essential workers and their families, at the behest of liberal special interest groups who would use this crisis as an opportunity to help themselves instead of as an occasion to help America weather this storm.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Woodall Announces Winners of Congressional Art Competition and Constituents’ Choice Award

2020/05/15

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Today, U.S. Representative Rob Woodall declared the winners of the Seventh District’s annual Congressional Art Competition. Carolyn Li, a homeschooled student through the SKA Academy, was this year’s first place winner with her work titled “Rough Hands.” Lambert High School’s Breanna Grzybowski came in second with her work “Colorful Summer Day.” And in third place was Ziru Hu, another homeschooled student through the SKA Academy, with her work titled “Still Life - Chocolate.” In the Constituents’ Choice Award portion of the competition, Lambert High School’s Sudeeksha Vontimitta earned 27 percent of the popular vote and was declared the winner with her work titled “Cold Moon.”

“While the virus was closing down schools and keeping our students homebound, their creative talents continued to flourish,” said Rep. Woodall. “This year’s competition had over 100 submissions, and each of them displayed the incredible talent of our high school artists. I would like to thank these students throughout the district for their participation and extend my sincerest congratulations to this year’s winners.”

Each spring, the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives host the nationwide Congressional Art Competition for high school students as an opportunity to recognize and encourage artistic talent throughout the nation. Unlike years past, participants this year submitted their artwork digitally and the panel of judges, made up of artists from the 7th District, made their decisions by reviewing the work online. Winners get their artwork displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol, alongside artwork from other participating districts from around the country. This year’s Seventh District winner will also receive a $3,000 scholarship from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

“The Congressional Art Competition attracts a lot of young and talented students,” said David Cook, a judge in this year’s competition. “I was very impressed. I always look for things to amaze me. I also look to see how an artist depicts what may be going on in real-life. The self-portraits certainly did that.”

“I have seen the wonders this program has done for my students these past few years,” said Leng Kar Chang, Principal at the SKA Academy of Art and Design. “It has given support and instilled confidence in my students – and all students alike – because they finally feel that their art is equally as important.”

 

Rough Hands

“Rough Hands” - Carolyn Li (First Place)

 

Colorful Summer Day

“Colorful Summer Day” - Breanna Grzybowski (Second Place)

 

Chocolate

 “Still Life - Chocolate” - Ziru Hu (Third Place)

 

Cold Moon

"Cold Moon" - Sudeeksha Vontimitta (Constituents’ Choice Award Winner)

 

Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes significant portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. He currently serves on the Rules Committee, the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and the Budget Committee.

 

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District Connection - 5/11/20

2020/05/11

ROLLOUT OF FEDERAL FUNDS TO INCREASE COVID-19 TESTING CONTINUES

In addition to renewing support for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s lending programs, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act – Congress’s latest relief package – provided $25 billion to expand our nation’s capacity for COVID-19 tests for both active infections and prior exposure. Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that over $500 million of this funding will be made available to increase COVID-19 testing capabilities in our nation’s more than 1,300 Health Resources and Services Administration funded centers which serve as crucial first lines of care. Through this allotment, our state received over $12 million to support these federally-funded centers, including Four Corners Primary Care, Georgia Highlands Medical Services, MedLink Georgia, and the Center for Pan Asian Community Services.

Also, I know many of you may have heard about the potential of serology tests that detect the presence of certain antibodies in the blood to be used as a tool to reopen the economy and address the spread of COVID-19. However, the full utility of these antibody tests is still being determined, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noting: “Serology tests could play a role in the fight against COVID-19 by helping healthcare professionals identify individuals [who] have developed an immune response,” but that “studies are underway to address questions that will better inform the appropriate use of these tests, such as whether the presence of antibodies conveys a level of immunity that would prevent or minimize the severity of re-infection as well as the duration for which immunity lasts.”

To that end, the FDA recently took action to strengthen its standards to ensure better quality and accuracy among these tests as it works to balance the need to swiftly approve and deploy their usage under its Emergency Use Authorization. Additionally, the FDA has continued its efforts to combat the selling of unapproved products that claim to treat COVID-19.

More information is needed to definitively conclude how antibody tests stand to best contribute to the COVID-19 mitigation effort, and I will continue to support the evidence provided by our scientific community to guide these decisions as policymakers look to most effectively direct our resources.

 

EXPLORING SOLUTIONS FOR THE CONTINUITY OF CONGRESS

As social distancing protocols remain in place for much of the country, the House has begun to explore ways to conduct the people’s business remotely. This problem is not unique to the U.S. House of Representatives, as foreign legislatures and even state and local bodies have explored ways to continue their important work during this pandemic.

Recently, the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress hosted a virtual Member discussion with guests Marci Harris, CEO of PopVox, and Beth Simone Noveck, Director of the Governance Lab and Chief Innovation Officer for the State of New Jersey to discuss best practices being implemented today and challenges we might face moving forward.

Among the topics discussed were ways to keep votes and meetings secure, the logistics of conducting committee hearings and markups remotely, and how to maintain Member-to-Member relationships digitally.

ModCom

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress discusses the continuity of committee activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

GEORGIA DELEGATION SHOWS UNITY TO PROTECT OUR WATER INTERESTS

While Members are back in their districts as we wait for the Speaker to return the House to session, there is certainly no shortage of work to be done. Recently, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee wrapped up its submission process for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a bill considered every two years that authorizes projects, guidance, and studies for our nation’s ports, waterways, drinking water, levies, dams, and more. During this process, Members are able to submit policies and project requests for the Committee to consider when drafting this year’s WRDA.

As many of you are aware, there is pending litigation among Georgia, Alabama, and Florida regarding water use rights of each of the states. Although recent decisions have been made in Georgia’s favor, our standing in the courts could be jeopardized by an act of Congress to change the status quo. The WRDA process is one such outlet in which Georgia’s water rights could be undermined. However, it is also one of the areas where the Georgia stands the strongest and most unified.

Fellow Georgia Representative and T&I Committee Member Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and I joined forces to lead a letter requesting that the Committee not include changes that would negatively impact Georgia’s standing in our ongoing water disputes. In a show of force, we were able to include every Member of the Georgia delegation, both Democrat and Republican, as signatories to this letter. We demonstrated to the Committee how there is no daylight between us when it comes to protecting the interests of our state, and we are committed to ensuring the water rights of our constituents. I’m proud of how unified our delegation can be, and I am hopeful we can use this momentum to address issues that face our state and our nation.

 

ADDRESSING IMPACTS OF COVID-19 ON NATION’S MEAT SUPPLY

There is virtually no industry that has been left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, and one such industry I’m sure you heard a lot about in recent weeks is our nation’s meat and poultry production facilities. In reference to President Trump’s recent executive order to stabilize our nation’s meat and poultry supply chains amid outbreaks at processing facilities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Centers for Disease Control, and FEMA to work in consultation with state and local authorities to ensure the safety of these workers and the continuity of facility operations.

Additionally, mass closures have led to significant drops in demand for many producers. Without the ability to distribute product through their established channels, farmers, livestock producers, and poultry producers have faced challenges with bringing animals to market. That is why USDA has established a National Incident Coordination Center to provide direct support to producers and help identify potential alternative markets and provide additional assistance.

In times like these, it is absolutely critical that we ensure when families go to the grocery store, there is confidence in the supply and quality of their food choices. You can be sure Congress will continue our efforts to secure our nation’s supply chains and support this industry that is so vital to Georgia and our nation.

 

MEMBERS WORK TO ADVANCE BIPARTISAN BUDGET REFORMS

As we move forward adapting to the radical life changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that Congress’s role in responding to this crisis must evolve as well. There’s no question that this pandemic has created crises and hardships for families. In the name of public health, we asked folks to close their doors, and we should absolutely continue to take steps to support these individuals and our hard-hit industries that by many accounts were previously thriving under the economic conditions this Administration and Congress helped generate.

With the Congressional Budget Office projecting financial consequences of the pandemic that extend beyond the short-term, it is time now for Congress to address our nation’s long-term fiscal health and ensure that the dollars out the door are targeted and effective so we can best support those in need. I can tell you there are Members on both sides of the aisle that are committed to that very goal, and I have joined a group of budget-minded Members who have assembled and are collectively working to advance bipartisan budget reforms to make the budgeting and appropriations process more effective.

Unfortunately, we will soon come to find that the cans we have too willingly kicked down the road, like the solvency of programs like Social Security and Medicare, will be that much more pressing, as the aggressive response mounted to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 has dramatically shaped the outlook of our nation’s long-term financial outlook. Of course, Congress’s budgetary challenges have been longstanding and have been something I have long been working to address, particularly in my days on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform operating last Congress. Politics at play kept many of the committee’s recommendations from moving forward at the time, but I am optimistic about the work this group is doing to put solutions forward that will increase transparency in the budgeting process, promote accountability in Congress and our federal agencies regarding spending, and strengthen the budgetary functions of Congress.

I am encouraged by the enthusiasm from Members across the aisle to be a part of these efforts and move forward on those shared ideas, and I will certainly keep you apprised of our work.

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: REQUESTING RELIEF FOR SMALL CITIES AND COUNTIES

Thank you to all those who contacted my office last week to share their thoughts on how the federal government can better help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on states and local governments. I sincerely appreciate hearing from each and every one of you.

Eric from Peachtree Corners:

The Republican response to efforts to get federal aid to local governments immediately is along the lines of “we won’t do it now, but it will be taken care of down the road.” While we appreciate their sentiment, the fiscal issues municipalities are currently facing and will continue to confront in the coming weeks need to be addressed ASAP. It is uncertain when or even whether the next round of funding will materialize and the local government funding proposal on the table now is real and needed by Georgia’s local governments. Your support now would be critically important in getting this local funding proposal being enacted into law.

Betty from Lawrenceville:

The initial bill that gave people more money for not working than returning to work was bad enough but now we read you are considering bailing out states for their years of mismanagement that has nothing to do with the virus. I urge you to not cave to the democrats on this issue just to give a shield against lawsuits to businesses reopening which we all know will end up in the court system anyway. The residents of the state of Georgia, which has the balanced budget requirement, should not have our tax dollars given to those states who have made poor decisions. As an example, Kentucky has underfunded its pension plan for years. They need to figure out a solution within their own state not expect a federal bailout. Additionally, those states who choose to stay sheltered not allowing businesses to reopen need to live with the results of their actions. We have always been responsible with our personal spending and now have the fear our savings will continue to be diminished or taxed away by irresponsible government spending. Enough is enough!

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When Congress passed the CARES Act, it provided funds to states and expected state governments to use those dollars to assist cities and local governments that were hit hard with unexpected COVID-19 related expenses. Unfortunately, this financial support has been slow to arrive.

For folks like Eric, I’d like to assure you that you haven’t seen the final word on this issue yet. Just recently, I signed onto a letter with Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) requesting President Trump to fix the statutory definition of a local government so counties, cities, and municipalities with fewer than 500,000 residents can better access federal assistance in any future negotiations for additional COVID-19 recovery legislation. My colleagues and I also requested retroactive relief to assist these struggling smaller communities to offset unforeseen COVID-19 related expenses. Again, like you, I would like to see swift and immediate relief, so smaller cities can get what they always expected to receive – funds to help pay for COVID-19 related issues.

However, like Betty, I do not want to see states taking advantage of this public health crisis and replenishing funds they had lost from mismanagement prior to the pandemic. I believe state governments should only receive funds for reasonable COVID-related activities like increased testing or contact tracing, which are all essential to getting our economy back on track and keeping Americans safe.  Given that Congress has already provided “local government relief” funds to the states for distribution, if local governments do not receive that money, Congress must go back to those states for an accounting.

I will be sure to keep you updated on these issues as negotiations of the so-called “Phase 4” package continue. It is of the utmost importance to me that your hard-earned taxpayer dollars are not squandered, but instead, spent carefully so you and your loved ones can better endure these turbulent times.

 

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS LAUNCHES NEW SERVICES FOR THE PUBLIC

Since it was founded in 1800, the Library of Congress has grown to become one of the largest, most inclusive libraries in the country. The Library offers a wide variety of services both to Congress and the American public, but these services have been complicated by precautionary closures due to COVID-19. In an effort to continue its public engagement, the Library has rolled out a new digital public outreach initiative through its website. The Library of Congress is now offering a variety of webinars, virtual tours, and brown bag lunches for the public to discover the Library’s collections and services. Among its many public programming offerings, you can listen to the music archives, explore Library exhibits, or even become a virtual volunteer. CLICK HERE to learn more.

 

FORSYTH STUDENTS JOIN EFFORT TO GET PPE TO FIRST RESPONDERS

The can-do attitude and generosity of the Seventh District has been clear throughout this pandemic. So many have you have done remarkable work to support our community by providing healthcare to the sick, by providing food to the hungry, and by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to those on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. This week, we acknowledge the hard work of the members of the iGEM team in Forsyth County for using their 3D printers to create face shields for first responders. Lambert High School’s iGEM Club is made up of students with a passion for finding new and innovative ways to reduce costs to help resolve real-world medical problems. Most of the members of the iGEM team have 3D printers or other tools at home, so they opted to join a wider effort to print PPE for first responders. These students are helping meet the growing need of PPE for first responders. Just last week, iGEM and other volunteers from Lambert High School and Forsyth Central High School created 200 face shields for the Northeast Georgia Health System in Gainesville.

I would like to thank the members of the iGEM team for contributing PPE for our first responders. You, along with many others in our community, are doing an incredible job by stepping up to ensure the health and safety of those who continue to serve our community during the pandemic.

 

GWINNETT COUNTY STUDENT LEADS PROJECT TO ENCOURAGE LOCAL HOSPITAL STAFF

This has certainly been a difficult time for all of us, but the crisis has been especially hard for healthcare workers on the front lines. Carson Schiller, a junior at Wesleyan School, has a family friend who works as a nurse at Northside Hospital. After seeing how hard her friend was working to combat COVID-19, Carson decided to lead a project to encourage the staff at Northside Hospital to keep up their valiant effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Carson was inspired to ask students from her school to create encouraging signs to post outside the hospital to cheer on the staff inside. Carson rallied 230 students from her school from kindergarten through 12th grade to participate in her “Signs for the Frontlines Project.” The artwork was sent to Global Signs who donated the signs in support of Carson’s efforts. On May 6th, a small group of volunteers set up the signs outside Northside Hospital’s main campus, decorating the exterior with encouraging messages thanking the staff for all they do.

Carson, thank you and your peers for putting your creativity and compassion to good use. Your signs are a testament to our district’s strong sense of community and our dedication to supporting one another.

 

VOTE NOW FOR THIS YEAR’S CONSTITUENTS’ CHOICE AWARD

The annual Congressional Art Competition is now underway, and like last year, I need your help in selecting a winner for the Constituents’ Choice Award. For those who don’t know, the Congressional Art Competition is an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent of America’s high school students. Winners will have their artwork displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol, alongside artwork from other participating districts from around the country. This year’s Seventh District winner will also receive a $3,000 scholarship from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The Constituents’ Choice Award is separate from the competition, but it allows folks in the Seventh District to get involved and choose their favorite artwork.

Voting is now open and can be completed online HERE. The deadline to place your vote is Wednesday, May 13 by 6 p.m. Winners will be announced Friday, May 15 at 12 p.m.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to release the fourth COVID-19 relief package, which is being called CARES 2. I wish I could tell you what’s in the bill, but unfortunately, I can’t, only because Speaker Pelosi and her staff have written this bill entirely on their own and in secret. They haven’t consulted with any Republican in the House nor have they consulted with the White House or with anyone else in the Administration. They haven’t even consulted with the U.S. Senate leadership on what may be in the bill. Instead, Speaker Pelosi is going alone on this measure which she has suggested in press reports may cost upwards of $2 trillion. Everyone in Washington, D.C., knows that without working together, laws can’t be made. We certainly need to continue helping small businesses, state and local governments, hospitals, workers, and more, but none of those things will come to fruition with a go-it-alone strategy.  “Go-it-alone” is only good for a press release, and not one family in need will benefit from that.  I continue to deliver this message, and I am hopeful that this week will yield more partnership on this legislation than last.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall
Member of Congress

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Contact Information

1724 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 Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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

Rob has served in a variety of leadership roles during his short time in Congress ranging from Chairman of the Budget and Spending Task Force, where he authored the most conservative budget to come before Congress in the last 5 years, to Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the caucus comprised of the Republican conference’s most conservative Members.

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


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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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