For those of you who are following the tax reform process closely, you’ll know that last week brought us another step closer to wrapping up our work on a comprehensive tax overhaul before the end of the year. The House led the way last Monday by voting to meet the Senate in Conference Committee to hash out the differences in each chamber’s tax reform plan, and the Senate followed our lead on Wednesday. Once the members of the Conference Committee reach an agreement on a unified tax reform bill, it will come before the House and Senate for final passage, and if approved by each chamber, the tax reform bill will head to the President’s desk for his signature.
You may be wondering what those outstanding differences are in the House and Senate tax bills. The good news is that the bills are pretty similar, but there are several areas in which the plans differ. For example, the House-passed version of H.R. 1 would consolidate the current seven tax brackets into four, while the Senate bill maintains all seven of today’s brackets. Another outstanding issue is how to deal with certain deductions and credits, including the deduction for medical expenses, which the House bill eliminates and the Senate bill retains, and the child tax credit, which both bills expand but in different ways, to name a few. Even in areas where there is agreement, such as lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%, the two chambers currently disagree on whether the changes should take place in 2018 or be delayed a year until 2019. My expectation is that, after much consideration and debate, the Conference Committee will reach an agreement on each and every one of these issues in the coming days.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about each of chamber’s tax reform bill and the sections that need to be reconciled, I encourage you to take a look at the Tax Foundation side-by-side comparison. And as I’ve said many times in past newsletters, I hope you all will continue to reach out to me about those parts of our tax reform bill that you like and those parts that you believe could be improved. My commitment to you all is that I will continue working until the very last minute of this debate to deliver a tax reform plan that makes the American taxpayers proud!
President Trump fulfilled yet another one of his campaign promises last week by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. This move was lauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and described by many as an important step toward peace in the troubled region. The President wants what we all want—peaceful coexistence between the Israeli and Palestinian people—and the simple fact is that bipartisan majorities in Congress have voted multiple times to recognize Israel’s self-identified seat of government. The Jerusalem Embassy Act became the law of the land in 1995 during President Bill Clinton’s Administration, and I’m pleased that this law is finally being implemented by President Trump, as it should have been long ago.
Amongst the other matters considered in the House of Representatives this past week, Representative Al Green (D-TX) offered articles of impeachment against President Trump, describing the President as a divisive and controversial figure, but failing to actually cite any criminal actions. The articles were overwhelming dismissed, with only 58 members, all Democrats voting in favor of taking the matter up on the House floor, and 364 members, the vast majority of the House – both Democrats and Republicans – in opposition to such an action. While demands for impeachment are not rare, even George Washington faced such calls; the actual impeachment of a federal official is incredibly rare. In fact, only two Presidents have ever been successfully impeached, and both were acquitted by the Senate, where the trial is adjudicated. Impeachment is very serious action and should be reserved for the most grave of circumstances and with appropriate evidence of “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors," as prescribed in the Constitution. If a Member of Congress proposed articles of impeachment every time he or she disagreed with the President, our country would not be able function. Just because we disagree on policies does not justify removing someone from office or overturning free and fair elections decided by the American people. The wonderful thing about the great experiment of American democracy is that we can disagree on many issues, and, despite those differences, still be able to come together to govern the country. I was pleased to see the vast majority of my colleagues—both Republican and Democratic— agree that this was a distraction from the vital work that faces the House, especially with pressing issues such as tax reform, immigration, and our national security on our plate.
Last week, the House passed an important financial services bill – H.R. 477, the “Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales, and Brokerage Simplification Act of 2017,” with overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill seeks to modify the current U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory structure that subjects merger and acquisition brokers who advise small privately held companies to the same SEC registration requirements as larger, publicly traded companies, and such registration requirements typically come with a hefty fee that is oftentimes passed on to small businesses. I know that we can do better for our nation’s small, family-owned businesses, especially when it comes time to pass on a company that someone has invested their life’s work and passion into, and by exempting certain merger and acquisition brokers who assist these companies when that time comes, I am confident that H.R. 477 will provide small business owners with the sound financial confidence they need to finalize a transfers or a sale, as well as the fair treatment they deserve.
In addition to H.R. 477, Congress passed and sent to the President a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend funding for the federal government through December 22, 2017. As many of you already know, the House passed earlier this year, on time and ahead of schedule, an entire Fiscal Year 2018 spending package to fund the priorities of the American people. As I pointed out on the House floor, Congress should not be in the business of funding the government by way of CR’s, but unfortunately, we cannot continue to wait any longer for the Senate to take up and consider the House-passed FY18 spending package and let the federal government’s funding lapse.
Similarly, the Senate has not yet taken up a bill that passed the House weeks ago with my support and would provide a five year reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Because many states and families can no longer wait for the Senate to get itself moving either, this CR includes a provision that allows the government to provide reserve CHIP funds to states most in need of it.
CLICK BELOW to watch me speak about the CR and H.R. 477.
On Thursday, I joined many of my colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for a roundtable on emerging technologies in the trucking industry. We have seen advancements over the last several years in technology related to efficiency and safety that are poised to reinvent this industry for the 21st Century. Today there are more than 10 million commercial trucks on the road, and a growing economy with better trade deals will only result in more commerce. Commercial trucks on the road are a good sign—that means there are more jobs available, Americans have more money to buy things, and businesses are succeeding. That economic activity does bring its own set of challenges, however. We have to make sure that our infrastructure is able to accommodate it, our roadways don’t become hopelessly congested with new traffic, and that we all can drive on our public roads safely.
Rep. Rob Woodall participates in a bipartisan roundtable discussion on emerging technologies in the trucking industry
On the Committee, we are working with safety organizations, industry stakeholders, and folks back home to build consensus on the steps we can take to begin integrating semi-autonomous vehicles on the road and improve the safety technology that truck drivers have access to, such as automatic emergency braking systems, forward collision warning, lane keeping support, and more. These conversations will intensify once the President announces his infrastructure proposal early next year, and I am excited to be in a position to influence such an important issue.
As a gun owner and concealed carry permit holder myself, I value the opportunity to exercise my Second Amendment right while home in Georgia. But as many of you know, not all states will honor a Georgia concealed carry permit. Congress had attempted to address this problem back in 2011, but it failed to offer protections to uphold the rights of states to make their own laws in this area. Last week, however, the House passed a bill, H.R. 38, the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” that would address not only the reciprocity issue, but also many of the Tenth Amendment concerns regarding the protection of state sovereignty. With the additional endorsement of Georgia’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Chris Carr, and twenty three other attorneys general across the United States, I am encouraged that this bill will uphold the Second and the Tenth Amendments equally. I am hopeful that as H.R. 38 continues to move through the legislative process, Members of this body remain mindful of the importance of each Amendment in the Constitution.
I’m so grateful to each one of you for taking the time to participate in my town hall meeting last week. We had a great discussion about Congress’ effort to reform our nation’s outdated tax code, and we were joined by my good friend Representative Tom Rice (R-SC) who sits on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the House. Representative Rice shared with us his insight on Congress’ reform effort as well as his tax policy expertise from his twenty-five plus years of practicing tax law before being sent to Congress. We also heard from a number of Seventh District residents who shared their thoughts about the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” and from those folks who simply wanted to get their facts straight, which seems harder and harder to do now-a-days with the news media’s sensationalized coverage of the issues.
If you weren’t able to participate in this event, please know I’ll be doing more, and I certainly hope you’ll be able to participate at that time. I’ll be sure to let you know when those are coming up, so please keep an eye on future newsletters and on my website. Thank you again for your continued partnership, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Of all the things that make me proud of our community, the way in which we take ownership of the big challenges with a sense of partnership and vision certainly rises to the top. One of those issues is how we partner to address our growing transportation needs not only in the Seventh District, but across the State of Georgia, and throughout the country. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, with your help, I’ve been able to carry our message of local leadership and decision-making, the ways in which we invest with our own time and resources before asking others to do so, and the results we have to show for it to Washington. Not every community has that story to tell, but irrespective of the issue – whether education, taking care of those in need, transportation, and so much more, we work together to reach our goals. We’ve accomplished a great deal together, and there’s absolutely more to do. As the region continues to grow and change, so do our infrastructure needs. Arriving at the best solution requires the kind of discussion and leadership we’re fortunate to have with so many of our local officials – Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash being among them.
In recent years, we’ve made great strides together at the local, state, and federal level. From the bipartisan enactment of the FAST Act, to Georgia’s own billion dollar investment in transportation and infrastructure, to county and local projects in Gwinnett and Forsyth, we’re making tangible progress, but we’re also keenly aware of the work and hurdles that remain before us. Here at home, we don’t always agree on every step forward, but I’m grateful that where we do agree is that we all want to move towards those common goals, and we don’t shy away from the dialogue that gets us there. Thank you all for your continued partnership in these conversations, whether just around the corner, down at the Gold Dome, or in Washington.
It was a productive week in Washington, and that included visiting with several of our fantastic Forsyth County Commissioners who were in town on behalf of the good people of Forsyth County. While our paths cross often here at home, it’s not every day that I have the pleasure of hosting them in my office on Capitol Hill. Now mind you, they had important business to attend to that included meeting with Vice President Pence and White House staff, not to mention many others on Capitol Hill, but I like to think they didn’t feel any more welcome there than when they were in the Seventh District’s office in Washington. We discussed many things, but one of their biggest areas of concern and reasons for their trip was to advance a resolution that would establish a water intake pipe in Lake Lanier.
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in Washington, D.C.
Here again we have yet another example of the forward-thinking leadership of our local leaders, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with them on this issue and so many others. Water resources is a topic near and dear to all of us, especially as it relates to Lake Lanier and its responsible use, which is an on-going conversation we have on Capitol Hill as well. Most recently, in last year’s Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), you and I successfully partnered to preserve our local decision-making authority surrounding Lake Lanier. Without a doubt, it is one of our community’s most valued resources, and it is because of that reality that I will always make the case for our superior stewardship of it. No one values its beautiful shores or precious drinking water more than we do here at home. It was my pleasure to visit with our Commissioners about their vision and goals for our shared community, and I’m looking forward to continuing that partnership on this issue and many more.
I’m especially excited to announce that this Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will approve a bipartisan bill that I introduced along with my colleague Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA). H.R. 2595, the “Strengthening the Department of Homeland Security Secure Mail Initiative Act,” is a common-sense bill that directs DHS to allow someone to pay a small fee and have their important DHS documents held for them at the post office or delivered only with signature confirmation. While this is a simple bill, it’s fixing a complex problem. Too many of our 7th District neighbors have seen their critically important immigration documents – work permits, visas, green cards – lost in the mail. This increases the chances of identity fraud for the unsuspecting immigrant, and it provides criminals an opportunity to engage in terrorism. By allowing folks to pay a nominal amount up front, we’re helping save time and aggravation later by keeping these documents safe. I’m so proud that the Judiciary Committee is moving the bill forward, and I hope that it will come to the House floor soon.
The House is also expected to move four bills through the Rules Committee and across the floor this week: H.R. 1628, the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act,” H.R. 2396, the “Privacy Notification Technical Clarification Act,” H.R. 4015, the “Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act of 2017,” and H.R. 4324, the “Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act.” The Rules Committee will be holding its hearing on these measures Tuesday afternoon at 3:00PM, and I hope you’ll take a moment to tune in online to watch the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee discuss these important pieces of legislation.
Member of Congress
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 38, the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” to enable those properly authorized to carry a concealed firearm in their state to also carry that concealed firearm in any state that offers concealed carry privileges. The measure reaffirms the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, while satisfying the concerns of many conservative Members of Congress that it could supersede or limit the Tenth Amendment rights of any state to permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07), who is among those conservatives who have that concern, supported the bill, and applauded its protections of both the Second and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution.
“Today in the House, we passed H.R. 38, the ‘Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,’ which I was glad to see address not only the reciprocity issue among states across the country, but also many of the Tenth Amendment considerations regarding the protection of states’ sovereignty. The Second and Tenth Amendments to our Constitution are both integral parts of our Republic, and any legislation addressing one should be mindful of the other. I have long had Tenth Amendment concerns about bills such as H.R. 38, but with the advocacy of Georgia's chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Chris Carr, for the bill as one that protects Georgia as a state and Georgians as citizens, I cast a yes vote on the consensus language in H.R. 38.”
Beyond the support of H.R. 38 on Capitol Hill, the measure has garnered broad support from state and local leaders across the country, including Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who joined 23 state attorneys general in urging Congress to approve the legislation passed by the House today and affirming that the new legislation would not infringe upon the State of Georgia’s right to govern themselves.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.
TOWN HALL MEETING THIS THURSDAY
Since we last had the opportunity to check-in with each other and discuss those issues that are most important to the 7th District, a lot has happened in Washington, D.C., chief among them is the House and Senate passage of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act." We are working on the final version of this critically important measure, and as we do, I hope that you will take some time to join me on Thursday evening and share your thoughts with me on this or any other piece of legislation.
Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, December 7th
7:00PM - 7:30PM
Dial-In: (877) 229-8493
As is often the case with Congress, good intentions can sometimes result in poor policy making. In one such case, federal employees are offered job protections which shield them from being unduly terminated, guaranteeing them job security regardless of the administration or their personal political affiliation. This is an important protection, and one that I know every Member of Congress supports. However, federal managers have found it increasingly difficult to dismiss poor-performing employees, and one of the reasons for that is a lack of adequate time during the probationary employment period to evaluate the employee’s work. H.R. 4182, the “Ensuring a Qualified Civil Service Act” would fix that. Rather than allowing a new hire to have only one year to prove themselves to a supervisor, new hires under this bill will be provided a two year probationary period after they have completed their training, giving them ample time to demonstrate their ability and allowing managers the opportunity to evaluate performance metrics before determining if the employee is a good fit for a permanent position on the civil service team. This will ensure that those who do work at our federal agencies are up to the task of serving the American people.
Another case of poor policy execution came to affect those seeking out loans to purchase manufactured housing. In response to the financial crisis in 2008, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, which included a provision to prevent consumers from accessing loans they may not be able to afford. But implementing a one-size-fits-all solution like this effectively shut out qualified potential homebuyers from the market. That is why my colleague, Representative Andy Barr (R-KY), introduced H.R. 1699, the “Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act.” The bill preserves essential protections for borrowers, while at the same time protecting their right to access credit.
I am proud to have supported both bills when they passed the House last week, and I’m pleased that my colleagues are continuing to take full advantage of the opportunity given to us by the American people to make our government more effective and more accountable.
Click on the picture below to watch my remarks on these important bills.
With over 64,000 Americans lost to drug overdoses last year, the opioid crisis has taken an especially devastating toll across our country, and has become a priority for the federal government, with President Trump assembling the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis earlier this year, and more recently declaring the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. Last week the President’s commission joined the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at a field hearing in Baltimore, one of the many parts of our country that continues to battle our ongoing opioid crisis. At the hearing, Chairman of the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), presented the Commission’s detailed report with a number of policy recommendations, all of which you can read here. While the report contains dozens of recommendations, Governor Christie distilled it down to a three pronged approach: (1) preventing deadly drugs such as fentanyl from entering the U.S., (2) educating the medical community on the dangers of over prescribing opioids as well as the need for alternative therapies, and (3) providing better treatment for those already addicted to opioids.
We’ve all heard that the first step to battling addiction is admitting there is a problem, and I was encouraged to see the entire Committee come to a consensus on the scope and extent of our nation’s tragic problem with addiction. I commend both the Commission and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for their hard work and for going out to see this issue where it is truly affecting everyday Americans. I look forward to promoting the policies that result from hearings such as this one, and from reports, such as the Commission’s, that can make a difference for our loved ones and neighbors battling addiction.
The Senate’s success in passing its version of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” marks another big step in making tax reform a reality for millions of taxpaying Americans. That said, I want to take this opportunity to commend my Senate counterparts for their work and diligence in crafting and passing their tax reform package. While the Senate bill differs from the House bill, there is still much work to be done and hours of debate left to be had to resolve the differences before we can send a final bill to the President for his signature.
As you may likely know, some of the notable differences between the two chambers include the tax treatment of state and local taxes, the elimination or modification of certain deductions, changes to the child tax credit, the number of individual tax rates, and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate just to name a few. Irrespective of these differences, which as I said before will continue to be worked out and debated, I am pleased that Congress’ overarching goal of simplifying the tax code and making it work better for as many Americans as possible is still an achievable goal.
That said, I know there are still anxieties out there, and I want to assure you that I’ve heard many of them from our friends and neighbors in the 7th District. As we move toward the next step in this process, I remain committed to working together, and I hope I can count on your counsel in the future.
On Wednesday, my colleagues and I on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee convened two panels of experts to discuss the rapidly growing drone industry. America has always been the world’s leader in aviation, and with this burgeoning new commercial industry, we have an opportunity to build on that record of safety, innovation, and success. Drones present a number of challenges, including questions of safety, privacy, and federalism, but this particular hearing was focused on the real-world applications of drone technology (specifically during the most recent hurricane season) and how we can construct a regulatory environment that promotes private sector innovation while maintaining world-class safety standards.
We began this work in the recent FAA bill, wherein we included new laws to safely integrate drones into our national airspace and establish remote identification to bolster security. The 2016 law also included legislation I authored to expedite the approval of drone operations in emergency recovery and restoration efforts – such as in the aftermath of a destructive hurricane, flood, or earthquake for instance. Close to one million Georgians lost power as a result of the recent hurricane, and we saw drones take flight to identify downed utility infrastructure, which led to quicker restoration of service right here in our own backyard. As we continue to work through these policy questions, I invite you to reach out with your own experiences and ideas.
I often say that our schools here at home provide every young person with the opportunity to be anything they want to be if they work hard and apply themselves. That’s true for academics certainly, but it goes well beyond that. The way in which our community empowers these young people to pursue their passions at the extracurricular level as well as in the classroom opens even more doors for them. As we saw last week with 60 Forsyth County high school students participating in early signing for athletic scholarships at the collegiate level, there’s an abundance of talent, and I’m sure proud of what each of them is accomplishing. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to visit with many students across the district, and I’m so impressed with their drive and work ethic. I have no doubt these young men and women fit into that category, and clearly their hard work is already paying off. Best of luck, and keep it up!
Every year, I look forward to the Christmas and holiday season, as it’s a time when we celebrate those things nearest and dearest to each of us. Part of the season’s traditions has become the wonderful young people that come by to visit the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center (GJAC) and share their talent with us. I have to say, whenever I’m able, I look forward to hearing these groups perform the timeless songs we all know. While business in Washington and throughout the Seventh District keeps the calendar full, any time I can be in our local office in the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center for these performances, it brightens my day. If you find yourself attending to business over the course of the next month and hear the sound of caroling, I encourage you to take a few extra minutes to listen. You won’t regret it!
The House’s work week begins tonight with an important vote that will allow the House to go into a Conference Committee with the Senate to work out our differences on the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” I’ve said it all along, bringing tax reform to the President’s desk is a long process, and this is another step in that process that will hopefully be fulfilled before the end of this year.
The House is also expected to consider and pass two regulatory reduction bills that will spur economic growth through cutting red tape: H.R. 477, the “Small Business Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales, and Brokerage Simplification Act of 2017,” and H.R. 3971, the “Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act of 2017.” H.R. 477 would make it easier for hometown brokers to help small businesses to sell or merge without onerous federal regulations and registration requirements getting in the way. We know that hard-working small business men and women want to grow the economy, and one way to do that is to engage in mergers and acquisitions with other small businesses. The brokers that help them do that shouldn’t be overly burdened by federal regulations that are meant for large broker-deals making Wall Street level transactions, not Main Street level transactions. Similarly, H.R. 3971 would boost local economic growth by making it easier for small community banks and credit unions to engage in mortgage lending and servicing business without having to comply with the complicated and unnecessary regulations of the Dodd-Frank Act that are meant for large financial institutions with expansive mortgage portfolios. I look forward to sending both of these common-sense bills to the Senate soon, and hopefully, seeing them cross the President’s desk.
Member of Congress
I hope that you all enjoyed a blessed and festive Thanksgiving with your friends and families, and for many of you, that probably included a trip to the stores on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday to begin your search for the perfect gift. For the next few weeks, the shopping will certainly continue, and as it does, I hope that you will consider spending a little more of your money at our local Forsyth and Gwinnett businesses. The hard-working merchants in our communities are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. I have had the pleasure of visiting many of these businesses over my years serving you as your Congressional representative, and it’s my hope that we can extend Small Business Saturday beyond one day, and into the rest of the year.
While the House passed our version of tax reform – H.R. 1 – before Thanksgiving, the full Senate is expected to begin debate on its version of tax reform this week. Like the House Ways and Means Committee a few weeks ago, the Senate Finance Committee held a four-day markup of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” that considered scores of amendments, incorporating 35 additional amendments from Democrats and Republicans in Chairman Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) modified bill. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will bring the Finance Committee’s bill to the floor for extensive debate and hopefully passage before the end of the week. Once the Senate passes its bill, then more work will need to be done in a joint House-Senate Conference Committee where we will work out the differences between our two bills and come to a consensus that members in both chambers can support.
I’ve heard from many residents of the 7th District over the past few weeks who have been concerned about certain aspects of the tax reform bill. Some of those concerns have already been addressed by the House – like retaining the adoption tax credit and maintaining the mortgage interest deduction for mortgages under $500,000 – and I know that more concerns will be addressed by the Senate and by both chambers in Conference Committee. I will certainly keep you informed about the progress of tax reform through the newsletter, and I encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts with our Georgia Senators and with me as we move through this process.
As so many families prepared for Thanksgiving last week and filled their tables with food, we should all remember those among us who have trouble meeting their daily nutrition needs. During the holiday season, where abundance tends to be the order of the day, I had the great privilege of going on the road with the Norcross Meals on Wheels program. For too many seniors in our community, maintaining their daily nutrition standards is far more difficult that it should be. And that’s where the Meals on Wheels program comes in. This program is helping hundreds of our neighbors every week through food deliveries, but even more than that, each delivery comes with a kind smile, a warm heart, and a new friendship.
What you may not know about the Norcross program is that it does not receive federal funds. Long ago, the volunteers at the Norcross program made a decision to serve both the elderly and the disabled. The Federal program—funded through the Older Americans Act—funds only those 60 and older, so the Norcross program had to choose between the mission that is was committed to and the restrictions coming out of Washington, D.C. Not surprisingly given the problem-solving nature of our community, Norcross chose its mission and thus fully supports itself with private funds.
Rep. Rob Woodall works with Norcross Meals on Wheels volunteers
Often, people will ask me, “Rob, how can I help to make a difference?” The answer is as diverse as our community. We have so many opportunities to make a difference for one another. If you feel called to help nurture your homebound neighbors, you can CLICK HERE to connect with Norcross Meals on Wheels. Thank you to all the volunteers at Norcross Meals on Wheels who shared their stories with me. You make our community strong!
Since the Obama Administration initially announced its approval of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in 2015, it has been met with a number of legal challenges from sectors of the economy that will be greatly harmed by an expansion of federal jurisdiction over water resources and infrastructure that have always been governed by state and local entities. The WOTUS rule has already been stopped by a federal court, and just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, proposed a further, two-year delay of the WOTUS rule. I hope that this delay will give the Trump Administration ample time to ensure that the WOTUS rule can either be entirely repealed – which would be my preferred option – or significantly refined to ensure that state and local water resources agencies and private landowners aren’t irrevocably harmed by federal overreach.
And the best way to ensure a positive outcome is for Congress to stay involved in the process, and that’s exactly what the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee is doing. This Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Environment will be holding a hearing – The Future of WOTUS: Examining the Role of the States – to hear from stakeholders across the country about how we can work together with the Administration to keep our nation’s waterways clean and safe, without unnecessary federal red tape.
This week the House Rules Committee will be meeting to bring four bills to the House floor: H.R. 1699, the “Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act of 2017,” H.R. 3017, the “Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act,” H.R. 3905, the “Minnesota’s Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act,” and H.R. 4182, the “Ensuring a Qualified Civil Service Act of 2017.” I say it often, but the best part about being on the Rules Committee is that Committee Chairman and Ranking Members come before our committee and have an in-depth discussion about each bill, detailing its pros and cons, and working out our differences. No matter the issue, through this Committee, our community has a chance to a difference in every piece of legislation that comes to the floor. Thank you for your partnership in making sure that we bring the very best ideas and solutions every day!
Member of Congress
Last week the House made good on one of its promises to American families: passing a once-in-a-generation reform for our nation’s outdated and onerous income tax code. I was proud to join my colleagues in supporting H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” because it takes the first major step in decades to putting American workers on a level playing field with foreign competition. This means fewer jobs leaving America and many more jobs coming here. Further, H.R. 1 eliminates scores of lobbyist deductions, exemptions, exceptions and carve-outs that have littered the tax code for decades. As a result of ending these benefits for the few, tax rates come down for the many—meaning less money will be withheld from every paycheck in 2018 and beyond. Not only that, ending all of these complicated carve-outs means that April 15th will become less stressful than ever before.
Each year leading up to Tax Day, the number one complaint I hear from Seventh District families about our current tax code is how complex and confusing it is, as well as how much money they end up spending on top of their tax bill to figure out their tax burden and make sure they comply with all IRS regulations. In fact, it is estimated that American taxpayers spend a combined $99 billion each year simply figuring out how to comply with the individual income tax code. With this bill, most Americans will be able to figure out and file their taxes on a form as small as a postcard. I have advocated for a simpler tax code since my first day in office, and while I worked hard to make the FairTax our choice for reform, I am pleased that H.R. 1 takes so many steps forward to accomplish our shared goals.
No one said that reforming our tax code – a code that is more than 2.4 million words and 70,000 pages long – would be easy. The tax code impacts the lives of millions of Americans and each taxpayer’s situation is different from the next. Thus, it is no easy task putting together a reformed tax code that works in the best interest of all American families, individuals, and businesses. However, I am pleased that my colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee recognized these complexities and were able to successfully craft H.R. 1 in a manner that will enact pro-growth policies, get Washington out of the business of picking winners and losers, provide family-focused incentives, and most importantly, provide long-overdue and much needed simplification so that you never again have to question how much you owe, whether or not you comply with the code, or why it seems that each year your neighbor gets a “better deal” than you.
Click on the picture below to hear Speaker Paul Ryan explain how H.R.1 is going to work for hard-working American families.
I know that there is still some confusion about what this bill does, so I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the benefits both Americans across the country and Seventh District residents would see if H.R. 1 were to be enacted into law. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and data provided by the Internal Revenue Service, H.R. 1 will have the following impacts:
Seventh Congressional District
To that end, while passage of H.R. 1 was another step towards much needed tax reform, it was just that, another step. There’s still much work to be done and countless hours of debate left before we can send a bill to the President by the end of the year. If you haven’t had time to read about the House-passed bill, and you want to learn more about what it does and does not do, I’d encourage you to CLICK HERE.
Last week, the House also took action on legislation to reform and reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). As you all know, the nearly 50 year-old NFIP provides government insurance protection against flood risks, and millions of Americans depend on it each year, as we’ve seen in recent months with several states being hit by devastating hurricanes and floods. The NFIP has not been without issue, however, as it has borrowed more than $30 billion from taxpayers over the years and runs annual deficits of about $1.4 billion. The good news is that the bill we passed last week, H.R. 2874, includes a number of reforms to the NFIP which will ensure it remains an option for folks who need it while limiting overall taxpayer exposure.
For example, H.R. 2874 will encourage the sale of private flood insurance policies, require annual independent actuarial studies of the NFIP’s solvency, and establish new policies and procedures for designating and addressing at-risk or multiple-loss properties—which are those properties that have repeatedly experienced flood losses and represent a disproportionate number of NFIP claims payments. I’m especially supportive of plans to help citizens who have had their homes flood multiple times find ways to better flood-proof their homes, or in some cases, move away from those homes and into safer ones. I was pleased to join my colleagues in supporting H.R. 2874, which also enjoys the support of President Trump, and I look forward to its consideration in the Senate.
So much of what we do today happens online. We use social media to communicate with friends and loved ones; we use online platforms to shop and pay bills; we use the internet to keep up with what’s happening in our world. The desire, and in some cases the necessity, to be connected digitally is not unique to individuals. Many small businesses are taking advantage of new technological tools like social media, cloud data storage, and more, in an effort to reach new customers and remain competitive. The digital transition happening at small businesses across the nation has come with a cost, however, as more and more small businesses have fallen victim to cyberattacks. Last week, the House Small Business Committee called in a panel of experts to discuss this issue and consider ways the federal government can work more closely with the private sector to combat cyberattacks.
As Americans all across the country begin the traditional holiday shopping season, and more and more of us do our shopping online from big and small retailers, the threat of cybercrime is real. Too many small businesses lack the vast IT departments and resources to combat cybercrime, so it’s essential that we enhance our current federal efforts and develop potential new policy solutions to deal with cyber threats. I’m proud of my colleagues on the Small Business Committee for recognizing the threat that cybercrime is, and I look forward to the bipartisan legislation that will most certainly come out of this hearing.
The world needs America to be strong, and unfortunately, the previous Administration oversaw a precipitous decline in military readiness. The Air Force told Congress that less than half of its planes were combat ready. The Navy and Marine Corps said that they had just over half of the aircraft they need. Only three of the Army’s 58 Brigade Combat Teams would be ready to “fight tonight” if called to duty. Considering the significant and growing threats we face around the world, and the fact that we have an opportunity to fix all of these problems, the status quo is completely unacceptable.
That’s why I was a strong advocate for this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which makes significant improvements to our warfighters’ readiness, capabilities, and quality of life. For more than five decades, this has been the primary vehicle through which Congress executes its Article 1 constitutional obligation to “provide for the common defense.” Providing for the common defense is the federal government’s most important and fundamental constitutional duty, and the NDAA is the main tool we use each year to ensure our troops have the absolute best equipment and training to win any conflict, to provide the resources our service members need to take care of their families back home, and to make clear to the rest of the world exactly where we stand and how serious we are about defending America and our allies. In this year’s bill, we begin the process of rebuilding our great military. Below are some of the highlights of the 2018 NDAA:
The final NDAA text was crafted by House and Senate negotiators based off the original House- and Senate-passed bills, and that final product is now on its way to the President’s desk. The NDAA proves that Congress can come together on critical issues and do the hard work required of us. You can read the conference report (the final product to be signed by the President) right here, and you can read the detailed summary here.
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, there’s a great deal for which to be grateful, and for so many of us, the men and women in our community who serve and protect us each day – often at great personal sacrifice – have definitely earned our thanks. They are our first-responders, and it would be all too easy to take the selfless work they do for granted, but I’m proud that throughout the Seventh District, we make it known how much we value them year-round. Last week, for example, the annual Red, Blue, and You ceremony and luncheon was held at Coolray Field on a beautiful, crisp fall day where local residents and leaders came out to say thank you. The House was voting in Washington that day so I couldn’t share our community’s gratitude in person, but I linked in via video with a message that I hope begins to reflect the appreciation that your family would also want to share.
Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway and members of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department at the Red, Blue, and You event
I have the privilege of carrying our message of local partnership and success to Washington, and I can’t thank you enough for making that message speak so loudly through your example and actions. Whether we’re talking about how to best protect our communities, serve our neighbors, or remember those sacrificing for our benefit, we have men and women like those honored last Thursday to look to, and more importantly, consult as we craft policies for America. Once again, thank you for all you do, and thank you for your ongoing partnership!
As you’ve likely noticed, I enjoy highlighting some of the amazing people in our community and the remarkable things they’re doing. Fortunately, there are always myriad choices, but this week I wanted to share the story of Forsyth County resident and Army ROTC Cadet Andrew Gomez. Andrew was recently recognized as the number 2 ranked cadet out of thousands across the country in similar programs, and while it goes without saying, I am excited to say it: that is absolutely remarkable! I’d like to offer my congratulations to Andrew, but also draw your attention to the kind of young people moving into leadership for our great country. With individuals like Andrew, those who apply to my office for a nomination to one of the Military Service Academies, the countless brilliant, driven students and entrepreneurs, and so many more, we can all rest assured that America’s days are most certainly still ahead. If you’re ever feeling down – or even if you’re not – I’d encourage you to visit with some of these young people. You won’t regret it!
While it may be getting colder outside this time of year, our hearts grow warmer as we give thanks for our numerous blessings. Chief among them, the privilege and blessing that it is to live in our amazing country. We have come a long way since the pilgrims first fled religious persecution in England and sat down in a new land with their new found neighbors, the Wampanoag, to give thanks for their safety and a fruitful harvest. We have grown to span the continent and into the most prosperous country in the world, and although our country still faces challenges, we are thankful to live in a nation that provides the opportunity to overcome those challenges and to succeed. We are incredibly blessed to have the values of hard work, courage, and humility, first evident at that original Thanksgiving gathering, serve as tenets for Americans today. From Georgia to Washington, Wisconsin to Texas, Maine to Florida, regardless of where you were born or how long you’ve been here, Americans are united in these common values, and will continue to live by them.
I know that everyone is excited for the beginning of the holiday season, and I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving this week. As we gather around our tables enjoying each other’s company and diverse traditions, we are reminded of how much we have in common and all for which we are thankful. I am incredibly thankful for our wonderful community in the Georgia Seventh District and for the country that has allowed our district to flourish.
Member of Congress
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” to significantly reform the U.S. tax code for the first time in 31 years – when Ronald Reagan was President. Seventh District Rep. Rob Woodall voted in favor of the measure, and issued the following statement supporting its passage.
“Our tax code has a very real impact on the American people and our economy – and sadly, for too long, that impact has been marked by oppressive and complex policies that burden hard-working Americans and stifle economic growth,” said Woodall. “That’s why since coming to Congress I have worked to deliver fundamental tax reform in the form of the FairTax. To me, the best answer is still the FairTax (H.R. 25), and I believe the partnership I’ve had with fellow supporters all across the country has led to its principles of simplicity, fairness, and transparency being incorporated into the bill passed today. The ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’ is a mechanism to move away from the failings of the past, and I believe it positions us to do even bigger things with tax policy moving forward.”
While Woodall and others pushed for more reforms than are realized in H.R. 1, they agree that this is landmark legislation. H.R. 1 gives families and job-creators a simple and fair tax code that consolidates seven brackets into four, eliminates the punitive Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) altogether, gets rid of multiple existing loopholes, and doubles the standard deduction, to name a few of the highpoints. The measure also seeks to spur economic and job growth by drastically reducing the rates at which small businesses and American-headquartered corporations are taxed.
“Empowering American workers and job-creators with a tax structure that allows them to effectively compete globally means more jobs and bigger paychecks here at home – and it encourages foreign businesses to locate their next plant or factory on U.S. soil,” Woodall added. “We have the best workforce and brightest minds in our communities, but for too long we’ve had the worst tax code. We are seeing that change today, and I’m proud of the work that got us to this point.”
An analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce anticipates that, if signed into law, H.R. 1 would create nearly 1 million new jobs and generate enough economic growth to increase federal receipts by $1 trillion. In Georgia, the number of jobs created is projected to be more than 29,000, with after-tax income rising by nearly $2,400 for Georgia’s families. The Seventh District’s robust small business community would also be able to look forward to new, lower rates allowing for further investment and growth.
To learn more about all of the reforms in H.R. 1, click here.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.
HISTORIC TAX REFORM MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER
Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee held a four day mark-up of H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” As I’ve said before, this land-mark legislation is designed to move America from having the least competitive tax code in the world to having the most competitive code. Putting American workers on a level playing field to compete with the rest of the world is job one. To simply the tax code dramatically, we are ending the special exemptions, exceptions, and carve-outs that have long littered the tax code pitting one American family or company against another. You can be sure that I am hearing from all of the special interests that are losing their preferences, but my commitment to you is to stand strong, as we all know that a lower, simpler, fairer tax code is best for all Americans.
I commend my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee for their many hours of work last week and their dedication to combing through each and every provision in this bill. While the committee made a number of changes to the original bill that will keep even more money in your pocket, I’ve heard from many Seventh District families and companies about additional changes that they think will make our tax code simpler and fairer, and I am grateful to those who have shared their thoughts and suggestions with me. If you haven’t done so already, I hope that you all will take a few minutes to look over the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” and share your thoughts with me. I look forward to bringing the bill to the House floor this week and then working to move it through the Senate and to the President’s desk.
Over the last week, and in particular this past weekend, families across the Seventh District celebrated and thanked the veterans in their lives. I am so proud to live in a community that recognizes the service and sacrifice of their neighbors. I had the opportunity to join many of you at Veterans Day celebrations across the district, and as is always the case in our community, the tributes to these brave men and women were truly moving. From lunch gatherings in their honor, to ceremonies at veterans and fallen heroes memorials in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, the message was consistent: we remember and we are grateful. Our community is blessed to have so many who have worn the uniform and protected America’s freedoms, and we’re equally blessed to be surrounded by neighbors who share our commitment to ensuring their service is valued and remembered. That’s what Veterans Day is all about – honoring those who put their country before their own safety and comfort – and no place does that better than our part of the world. Expressing gratitude to our veterans is a way of life across the Seventh District, and it’s my hope that each of them felt that appreciation and support in a special way.
Rep. Rob Woodall attends Veterans Day ceremonies at the Cumming Veterans War Memorial with Frank Singleton, the Commander of American Legion Post 307 in Cumming
Throughout this Congress, the House has held firm to its commitment to our veterans, and on the week of Veterans Day, the House doubled down on that commitment and passed an astonishing 14 veterans bills, bringing the total number of bills passed by the House dedicated to reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and helping our veterans to over 40. Among those passed by the House this week were:
No one said fixing the VA would be simple or easy. But, with each bill we pass, this Congress will continue to remake the VA into an agency that provides the care our veterans deserve.
As some of you may remember, back in 2015 the Obama-led National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—an unelected board of officials— changed the 30 year old “joint employer” standard in the National Labor Relations Act and Fair Labor Standards Act. The reclassification says that employers who had “indirect” control over the terms and conditions of someone’s employment, or even if just the employer had the authority to exercise indirect control, but never actually did so, had to be classified as a “joint employer.” This resulted in uncertainty and confusion for many businesses—especially franchisors and subcontractors—about whose responsibility it was to resolve work condition issues, wage disputes, or other similar labor issues, and what business opportunities would be available in the future. Labeling an employer as a “joint employer” led small franchise owners to sacrifice the autonomy to run their own business. Homebuilders, whose business relies on contracting, were limited in what subcontractors they could hire because being labeled as “joint employers” with their subcontractors increased their costs and liability.
This should never have been the NLRB’s decision to make. If the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act needs to be revisited or changed, that is a job for Congress—not the unelected NLRB. That is why I was proud to be a cosponsor and support H.R. 3441, the “Save Local Business Act,” as it passed the House this week. H.R. 3441 provides much needed clarity to the businesses in our community by restoring the decades-old standard that an employer must have “direct and actual control” over employees to be considered a “joint employer.” This will allow our small businesses to have the autonomy and freedom to run their business as they see fit and encourage large companies to work with them by not shouldering them with extra costs and liability. You can always count on me to do anything to empower our local employers to continue to do business and provide jobs to the people of the Georgia Seventh District.
At the beginning of this Congress, the House took bold steps to tear down federal regulations and cut bureaucratic red tape, thereby allowing the rule making process to be more transparent and creating an environment for American businesses and workers to thrive. Having taken steps to address the effects federal agencies have on our economy, we are now working to address how these federal agencies are structured themselves. In fact, the process has already been begun through landmark legislation now signed into law to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) through the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. The VA, historically plagued by delays and inflated bureaucracy, is now on an empowered path where removing poor performing employees and protecting workers who reveal misconduct and negligence at the agency are celebrated.
The question now is, “How do we scale up these best practices to other branches of the federal government?” My colleagues and I have asked that question of federal agency heads across government, and we are soliciting their feedback on what legislative solutions they believe can improve efficiency and accountability at their agencies. As you know, the President has asked true leaders and business professionals to lead these agencies, and we are soliciting their feedback about the tools they need to truly reform their agencies. The House is committed to targeting not only the symptoms of big government, but also the problem of big government itself. I look forward to hearing back from these agency heads and partnering with them to implement solutions and create a more effective federal government.
I proudly joined my colleagues in supporting H.R. 2201, the “Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act,” last week because the bill will make it easier for small companies to raise much needed capital. Our small businesses and entrepreneurs are the driving force in our economy, but unfortunately, they often find themselves at a disadvantage to their larger competitors when it comes to accessing and securing financial capital. That’s because the current federal law – which was written to ensure that large public companies didn’t take advantage of investors – places a disproportionate burden on small companies when they attempt to raise capital through non-public offerings.
H.R. 2201 provides a bright line, safe harbor for small businesses by clearly defining what constitutes a non-public offering. This common-sense, technical change will provide our small businesses with both confidence and clear guidelines so that they can operate confidently within the confines of the law and seek capital without fear of not being in compliance, so long as all of the following requirements are met: 1) each investor has a substantive pre-existing relationship with an officer, director, or shareholder of the issuer; 2) there are 35 or fewer purchasers of securities from the issuer that are sold in reliance on the applicable exemption over a 12 month period; and 3) the amount of securities sold by the issuer does not exceed $500,000 over a 12 month period. Additionally, this bill ensures that the non-public offering exemption is unavailable to those who have been disqualified under the law’s current “bad actor” disqualification standard. I hope you will join me in urging the Senate to quickly take up and pass this bill so that we can bring small businesses relief from the obstacles that are imposed on them by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This week the House is going to consider and pass H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” After years of hearings on various aspects of our income tax code, and after a week of committee consideration where dozens of amendments were thoughtfully debated and voted on, I’m so proud that we’re going to keep our promise to the American people and move pro-growth tax reform across the House floor. Together, we can make this first step of tax reform a reality!
The House is also moving ahead with consideration of the joint House-Senate Conference Report for the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill is a success story. A defense authorization act is required every year, and unlike so make deadlines that slip or are ignored in government, Congress has come together to authorize support and funding for our troops absolutely every year for decades. The FY18 bill sets our nation’s defense policy priorities for the upcoming year, and given the dangerous world in which we live, doing this is a collaborative, nonpartisan, bicameral way has never been more important.
Member of Congress
Ingram Funeral Home director Elizabeth Mitchell, left, stands with U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall and Capt. Wayne Kidd on Saturday at Ingram’s veterans luncheon. - photo by Isabel Hughes
Veterans sat around tables Saturday inside the Cumming Parks and Recreation building on Pilgrim Mill Road — wives, children and at least one service dog beside them.
Smiling, they poked at their plates of barbecue as luncheon speakers made their way to the podium.
It was the scene of Ingram Funeral Home and Crematory’s annual veterans luncheon, an event that provides a free lunch to former service members and their families and recognizes the men and women who have served.
“In this community, in this area, amongst our families, there is so much going on to remind each one of you that you are not forgotten,” said U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall.
Held a week early on Nov. 4 — Veterans Day this year falls on a Saturday — the luncheon featured several prominent speakers, including Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt; Col. Dennis Brown, the county’s soon-to-be District 2 commissioner; and Capt. Wayne Kidd, who served in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart.
The message, overwhelmingly, was giving thanks to the veterans in the room.
“Can you imagine a United States where we didn’t have any of you veterans — [a place] where all of you weren’t here and didn’t answer the call?” Brown asked. “Every generation is met with a threat, and we’ve answered the call. It’s what we do. The War of 1812, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War, a war to end slavery — those wars for freedom and democracy wouldn’t have happened without you, veterans. Who knows where we’d be and what kind of country we’d be.”
Kidd stressed families’ roles too, putting emphasis on the spouse’s children and parents who spend hours worrying about their deployed husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and children.
“Nobody ever wants to go to war, they just don’t; it’s a no-win scenario,” he said. “But it really bugs me — in fact, a lot of things bug me — but what really bugs me is that we pay no attention to the spouses, the children and the parents of the folks going overseas. I was shot once, burned once, and I felt worse for my wife, because she had to go through all that worry.”
He added that Veterans Day is about giving thanks, from one veteran to another.
After more than a year of discussions and debate, much of which began with the June 2016 release of the House Tax Reform Blueprint and continued with the recently released Unified Tax Reform Framework, the U.S. House introduced a complete, transformational tax reform bill last week. The bill, H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” is designed to reduce the tax burden for every American, especially lower and middle income Americans, and small businesses. It will also make dramatic changes to our corporate tax code, which is currently one of the least competitive in the developed world.
While there are far too many changes to list in the newsletter, I do want to highlight a few of the most important ones. As you know, I have been pushing to include the FairTax, which would create a simple one-rate sales tax and abolish all exemptions, carve-outs, and special exceptions. Though we didn’t have the votes to move the FairTax, we did use FairTax principles to move the debate. On the individual side, we collapsed the current seven tax brackets down to four, and we abolished almost every loophole and exemption, leaving a simple standard deduction—which is doubled from today’s level to allow you to keep more of your money. Then, we simplified child tax credit, which is expanded from $1,000 to $1,600 to help America’s working families. So vast is our elimination of complicated rules and forms, we expect nine out of ten Americans to now file their taxes on a form no larger than a postcard.
For our nation’s small businesses, the tax rate on business income would be lowered to 25 percent. To help keep American jobs here at home, the corporate tax rate would fall from one of the highest in the world down to 20 percent. To bring money home to the American economy from overseas, we move to a territorial tax system, meaning trillions of dollars will return to invest in America. Those two tax reforms alone will instantly make American workers more competitive in what has become a global marketplace.
And what’s great for Georgia is that this bill includes a specific section that will help Georgia’s electricity ratepayers with the inclusion of an expanded nuclear production tax credit. This credit – which was supported by Republicans and Democrats in Georgia’s House delegation – is critical to the construction of Plant Vogtle. And for anyone who receives their electricity from Georgia Power, Sawnee EMC, or Jackson EMC in our area, this credit will directly affect your electricity bills every month. I’m heartened that Georgians are going to benefit from this tax reform bill, and I’m even more proud that we could support Georgia’s citizens in a bipartisan manner.
If you want to know more about the bill, the good news is that the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the tax code, has released a legislative summary and frequently asked questions document that provide additional details about the bill. And, of course, you can read the actual legislative text. If you haven’t done so already, I hope that you all will take a few minutes to look over the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” and share your thoughts with me. The process is moving forward this week in the Ways and Means Committee, and I expect H.R. 1 to land on the House floor very soon so now is the time to make your voice heard!
Last week, I proudly supported H.R. 3922, the “CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS ACT,” which passed the House with bipartisan support.This bill reauthorizes critical health care programs such as Community Health Centers (CHCs), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the National Health Service Corps, and the Special Diabetes Program, just to name a few. As you may know, more than 230,000 kids in Georgia rely on CHIP funding for vital health care services. Specifically, H.R. 3922 ensures that CHIP is reauthorized for five years – the longest reauthorization since the program was established. Additionally, this bill reauthorizes funding for Community Health Centers for the next two years. We are fortunate to have outstanding community health centers in the Seventh District that are run by top-notch health care professionals, and I wholeheartedly believe that they are worthy of federal funding. While I will continue to work with my colleagues to craft a fiscally responsible, longer-term funding solution for CHCs, I am pleased that H.R. 3922 provides $3.6 billion per year in 2018 and 2019 to CHCs so that vulnerable populations are able to access high-quality health care in our community.
Furthermore, I commend Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee for putting together H.R. 3922 in a manner that addresses the health care funding crises with smart, targeted reforms, and does so without increasing overall spending. In fact, it is estimated that H.R. 3922 will save hard-working Americans millions! I encourage you to join me in urging the Senate to quickly take up and pass this bill so that these vital health centers remain open and these programs and services for the most vulnerable among us remain available for our friends and neighbors who rely on them today.
Another month goes by and another report comes out showing our state is a great place to do business. Last month, I highlighted Area Development’s ranking of Georgia as #1 for doing business for the fourth year in a row. This month, Site Selection Magazine has ranked Georgia #1 in its Top Business Climate ranking for the fifth year in a row! The publication noted that Georgia ranked the same or better than it did in all of Site Selection’s 2016 measures of state business climates. Thousands of jobs are being created, and hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in Georgia’s financial technology sector, logistics and distribution firms, automotive industry, digital media, and food processing industry. Georgia is proving to be an economic powerhouse, and I couldn’t be prouder to represent this state in Congress. And so much of that success is due to you – the people of Georgia who are working hard every day to build better lives for their families. I commit to you that I will continue to support initiatives in the House that not only ensure Georgia’s continued economic growth, but also promote greater economic opportunity for the entirety of our nation.
Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to address an audience of folks interested in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones, who were brought together by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. When some think of UAS, recreational hobbyists and military equipment often come to mind. But the reality of the UAS industry is much further reaching and holds great promise in applications ranging from agriculture to transportation to even emergency recovery and restoration efforts. In fact, I highlighted how useful UAS were during the recent hurricane season. Nearly a million customers were left without power due to damaged infrastructure and millions of dollars’ worth of private property was destroyed. UAS were deployed in these instances to safely identify damaged infrastructure and what sort of property damaged occurred. This allowed our utility companies to get power back on quickly and safely and allowed insurance companies to expedite claims to make families whole again sooner.
There is a robust debate occurring right now in Washington and in partnership with individual state and local governments as we work to find consensus on questions of privacy, jurisdiction, and safety. To help answer some of these questions, President Trump recently announced a pilot program that will allow state and local governments to “establish innovation zones for testing complex UAS operations and to attempt different models for integrating drones into local airspace.” The House FAA reform and reauthorization bill, H.R. 2997, also takes a number of steps to establish a risk-based permitting framework that will prioritize safety without impeding innovation. I applaud the President’s leadership on this issue and look forward to working with him to safely and effectively make UAS a more useful tool for the American economy.
With Veterans Day fast-approaching, I hope you’ll join me in thanking those who have worn the uniform, spent time away from their families, and risked their lives to protect others. If you’d be interested in doing more to serve our veteran community, I’d encourage you to visit with organizations such as the Gwinnett County Veterans Resource Center, or reach out to my office to learn more about ways in which you can get involved.
This Saturday marks the 99th anniversary of the first observance of Veterans Day. Originally known as Armistice Day to celebrate the of the end of World War I, which ended at 11:00am on November 11,1918, the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” The day now serves as a celebration of all of those who have served in uniform over the years to defend our country. As President Woodrow Wilson described that very first commemoration in 1919, this Saturday will be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America.” I sincerely hope you take the opportunity to not only to spend the day with friends and family, but also to take a moment on that 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to remember and express our gratitude for all who have served in defense of our liberty.
I also hope to see many of you out at Veterans Day celebrations across the district. In Forsyth County, there will be Cumming’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony at 11:00am on Friday at the Veterans War Memorial at 301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., next door to the Cumming Police Department. In Gwinnett County, there will be the annual Veterans Ceremony on Saturday at 11:00am at the Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville.
Fall Saturdays are full of wonderful events, but every year, one of those Saturdays in the Seventh District means the next round of remarkable young people seeking admittance to America’s Service Academies will take another big step towards their goal. As part of the nomination process through my local office, those who have submitted complete applications for the year have the opportunity to be interviewed by our Academy Panel comprised of local leaders, military veterans, and graduates of the Service Academies. Earning a Congressional nomination and ultimately an appointment to an academy is a very difficult and highly competitive endeavor, but each year our community leads the state in appointees – and I’m humbled and proud to have a roll in this process. Once again, these young people impressed all of us with their academic achievements to this point, their desire to lead America, and their selfless commitment to service. I’d like to thank each and every one of our applicants who participated in our interviews this past Saturday, and wish them all the best of luck moving forward. If you know of any young person who may be interested in this opportunity in coming years, I hope you’ll encourage them to visit my online office to learn more.
This week the House is going to consider H.R. 2201, the “Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act,” H.R. 2874, the “21st Century Flood Reform Act,” H.R. 3043, the “Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017,” and H.R. 3441, the “Save Local Business Act.” You can also find a full list of bills that might be considered by clicking here.
But what’s most interesting for this week is the multi-day mark-up of the tax reform bill that will be happening in the House Ways and Means Committee. The markup will begin on Monday, and the committee will continue working through the bill this week, taking input from committee members from both sides of the aisle, and bringing bipartisan solutions to hard-working Americans who want to keep more of their hard-earned dollars and who deserve a simpler code that supports jobs and economic growth.
Member of Congress
As the Trump Administration continues to engage with our allies around the world in hopes of finding a peaceful resolution with the regimes in Iran and North Korea, we in the House of Representatives are doing our part to strengthen the President’s negotiating position and bring even greater economic pressure to bear wherever possible. Last week, we passed a number of bills designed to address the difficult circumstances we’re confronting in the Middle East, including:
Right now the House has passed nearly 300 bills that are sitting in the Senate awaiting action. The ones listed above are all bills we passed last week with an average of 427 bipartisan votes in support (that’s 98.6% of the entire House). The Senate has no excuse—they must get to work and help us continue to implement the positive agenda that we promised the American people in 2016.
While many bills previously approved by the House this year have been sitting in the Senate for months, last week one of those bills moved forward. The legislation uses the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn a rule recently issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would have restricted the use of mandatory arbitration clauses as a method of dispute resolution between consumers and financial institutions. Though the CFPB touted the rule as a win for consumers against big banks by green lighting more class action lawsuits, I agree with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) that the rule would have done far more for trial lawyers than consumers, and the facts support such a conclusion. According to the CFPB’s own study, the average arbitration case moves faster than class action lawsuits, which can go on for years, and the average arbitration award per consumer is around $5,400 compared to an average of just $32 per plaintiff in class action lawsuits. I’m pleased that the Senate took action on this important piece of legislation, and President Trump has already signaled his willingness to sign it.
I believe that eight years of the previous administration's policies have undermined Congressional authority in myriad ways, not the least of which includes unilaterally appropriating taxpayer dollars and writing onerous regulations burdening private industry. Since President Trump has taken office in January, Congress has partnered with him in restoring constitutional checks and balances between the Executive and Legislative branches, and last week, the House continued that partnership with the passage of H.R. 469, the “Congressional Article I Powers Strengthening Act,” and H.R. 732, the “Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act.”
When the Senate sends these bills to the President’s desk, they will bring much needed transparency to the bureaucracy’s use of sue-and-settle agreements and will ensure that settlement agreement funds are given first to victims and then to the American taxpayers. The Obama Administration had found and exploited loopholes in our justice system as a means to circumvent the legislative process, and I am pleased that the House has moved to ensure no other administration will be able to abuse its power in this way again.
Though there was a lot going on both sides of Capitol Hill last week, one of the biggest legislative victories for hard-working Americans occurred last Thursday morning on the House floor with the passage of a unified FY2018 budget resolution. As you all likely know, the House’s approval marks the final step for unlocking the budget reconciliation process, which is the legislative procedure Congress will use to advance a historic tax reform bill based on the recently released Unified Tax Reform Framework. It has been more than 30 years since our tax code was last updated, and since then, America has fallen from the top of the pack in terms of tax competitiveness to nearly the very bottom.
According to the Tax Foundation, our individual tax code ranks 25th among the 35 OECD nations, and our corporate tax code ranks dead last. The worst part is that it’s American workers who are shouldering the cost of our broken tax code in the form of fewer jobs and lower wages. But, with passage of the unified FY2018 budget resolution, we are one giant step closer to changing all of that, and I couldn’t be more excited!
Click on the picture to watch my speech on the budget bill!
As you can see from the below tax reform timeline graphic, there is still a great deal of work to be done if we are to succeed in pushing a tax reform bill across the finish line before the end of 2017. But we are off to a great start, and the next step is the release and consideration of the actual tax reform bill by the House Ways and Means Committee. My expectation is that the text will be released in the coming days, and I hope that when that time comes, you all will take some time to review it and share your thoughts with me. Over the next few weeks, Congress will be debating and making some tough decisions on some very important tax reform issues, and my hope is that you all will engage with me throughout this important process. I know that if we work together, we will successfully deliver a great tax reform bill to the President’s desk.
As many of you know, opioid addiction is taking a devastating toll on Americans of all races, creeds, backgrounds, sexes, and economic status. And last week, the president followed through with his campaign promise to declare the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. While I have joined my colleagues and the White House in supporting initiatives to combat opioid abuse, there is always more that we can do to better serve the people and families afflicted by addiction and steps we can take to curb the rapidly escalating trend of opioid abuse that has gone unchecked for far too long. But to be successful in reversing these trends, I believe that we must direct our efforts towards attacking the root cause of the opioid crisis, not simply putting Band-Aids on the symptoms.
While I commend President Trump for getting the ball rolling at the national level to address this issue head on, I continue to believe that the love that comes with individual effort provides the best solutions. Bureaucrats in Washington may think they know what is best, but I am confident that people closest to the individuals and families battling opioid abuse and addiction – like you and me – are better suited to provide individualized help and support. In fact, right here in our own backyard, the Gwinnett United In Drug Education (GUIDE), Inc., is actively working to improve the condition of our great community by delivering specialized training and resources and preventing substance use and abuse. GUIDE is one of many local initiatives working to help and educate our friends and neighbors, and I am proud to live in and represent communities where helping your neighbor is your most important job.
In a hearing last week, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee began the process of tackling a fix for the VA’s Choice Program; a bipartisan program that has brought relief to many veterans who have waited far too long for timely care, but one that has also been fraught with implementation issues. Twice already this year, Congress has passed legislation to continue this program so veterans have certainty and continuity of care, but last week, VA Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) presented a plan to make the short-term extensions permanent. A product of collaboration with both the Trump Administration and Veteran Service Organizations who represent veterans across the country, Chairman Roe’s plan will create a coordinated VA community care system that relies on VA providers and medical facilities where and when they are available, in addition to community providers who veterans can see in consultation with the VA. The bill would also help modernize the VA’s medical claims processing system to guarantee that community providers can expect to be paid on time for the care they provide to veterans on the VA’s behalf, which will encourage providers to participate in the program and give veterans even more options for care.
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, along with its Senate counterpart, continues to be an example to all of us for how Congress should truly work with substantive hearings, bipartisan votes, and important legislation moving forward. If you ever have a chance, take the time to watch a hearing at the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and you will see the diverse members of our country coming together around the universal idea that our veterans deserve the best care, benefits, and service that America can provide. Even on the controversial measures, such as the VA’s Choice Program, members are willing to collaborate to find a solution, and this week’s hearing exemplified just that.
One of my absolute favorite things to do in our weekly newsletter – and throughout each week, to be honest – is highlight the amazing things young people across the Seventh District are doing. That includes what they’re accomplishing in pursuit of their own goals, and what they’re doing in the community for others. I’m grateful to see such an impressive group of future leaders, and I’m also so appreciative of all the tremendous parents, mentors, educators, and more, who invest so much in them. Last week we got to see a glimpse of that commitment in the inaugural science expo success at Covenant Christian Academy in Forsyth County. More than 65 elementary school students got to share with others how they’re putting science to work in the real world, and the rumor is that we have some very talented young scientists coming up!
We also saw that commitment to serving others in the actions of a group of students at Central Gwinnett High School. These young men and women partnered with a non-profit organization called Magic Wheelchair to provide a young girl with an amazing Halloween costume. Three year old Harper Jackson loves planes and helicopters, you see – so of course they made her very own helicopter! The organization has partnered with Central Gwinnett for the last three years to make sure those among us with physical challenges still have an opportunity to participate in all the holiday festivities to the fullest. Here we have yet another example of how in so many different ways, time and again, we as a community come together to lend a helping hand to those in need. In turn, we’re all better for it, and it makes our part of the world a very special place to call home. Thank you all for being a part of it in your own way.
This week the House will consider H.R. 849, the “Protecting Seniors Access to Medicare Act of 2017,” which will repeal Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, and H.R. 2936, the “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017,” which will improve our nation’s forest management policies and allow additional wildfire recovery resources to be provided by Congress in the coming weeks and months.
The House is also expected to move forward with a critically important bill for the millions of children who rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP has long been a lifeline for children from low-income homes, and I look forward to a strong bipartisan vote in favor of continuing and improving this program.
Member of Congress
1725 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Rob Woodall serves the 7th district of GA in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the House Committee on Rules, the House Budget Committee, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Rob also serves as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee’s Budget and Spending Task Force.
Rob was born and raised in Georgia, graduated from Marist School in 1988, attended Furman University for his undergraduate degree and received his law degree from the University of Georgia
Rob first came to public service as a staffer for then Congressman John Linder serving as his Chief of Staff and was elected to Congress in 2010.
Rob’s political philosophy is guided by the principles of freedom, and his proudest accomplishment is helping Seventh District families one at a time through casework and creating a Congressional office that functions for the people.
Retweeted by @RepRobWoodall
Retweeted by @RepRobWoodall
Retweeted by @RepRobWoodall
Retweeted by @RepRobWoodall