District Connection - 10/9/18
Overshadowed by last week’s partisan news cycle was a significant bipartisan achievement that I want to take a few moments to highlight, and that is the final passage of H.R. 6, the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act,” which has been sent to the President to be signed into law. In fact, H.R. 6 will be signed into law during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a month that the President has dedicated to reaffirming our commitments to lending a helping hand to our friends and neighbors who may be struggling with any form of substance abuse.
You may recall that it was just a little over four months ago that the House advanced its opioid legislation to the Senate for consideration, and I am thrilled that both chambers of Congress have acted across the aisle and in unison to bring solutions home to the many individuals and families that have been devastated by the opioid crisis that has gripped our nation for too long. This landmark legislation is comprised of dozens of bills that lawmakers have carefully crafted to deliver assistance and resources to parents, patients, teachers, state officials, and communities, and I do believe that the bill’s many solutions will work to bolster efforts we’re already taking at the state and local level to combat the crisis.
What’s more, this bill not only provides critical resources to communities across the country to thwart the crises, but it also includes measures preventing such illegal and controlled substances from pervading our communities by preventing the flow of illicit substances like fentanyl across borders, as well as ensuring increased access to drug disposals to easily rid unused or old prescription drugs and opioids from homes. Additionally, the bill addresses the economic and workforce impacts of the opioid crisis by putting in place safeguards and initiatives to help prevent individuals from relapsing into addiction. It’s often very difficult for individuals who have battled with addiction to attain work after recovery and thus, our rehabilitation and health care systems can become overwhelmed by those who find themselves using again. As such, H.R. 6 works to help stem the cyclical wrath of addiction by helping to create a solid foundation for these individuals post recovery.
Because the solutions in H.R. 6 will not put an end to this crisis on their own, as they will surely require a lot of commitment and effort on behalf of states and localities to optimize their impact and reach, I hope you will join me uplifting those individuals who are battling this crisis on the front lines and who are working each day to drive down the number of opioid related deaths in Georgia – and across the country – and are working endlessly to reverse this perverse trend. They are the ones who will take the tools and resources provided in H.R. 6 and move them across the only finish line that truly matters – saving lives and keeping families together.
- Washington Post. Congress OKs opioid legislation in show of bipartisanship
America’s economy continues to roll, as the September jobs report indicates. In fact, we added 134,000 jobs last month and achieved the lowest unemployment figures since 1969! To put that in perspective, the last time American workers had this kind of opportunity, Richard Nixon was president, the Saturday Evening Post was still in publication, and the Brady Bunch premiered on television. Despite calls to raise our taxes and return to an economy strangled by red tape, this continued record-setting success demonstrates yet again that the American people are the greatest force for productivity, innovation, and prosperity in the world. With your partnership, we will look back at these milestones as the beginning of the American economic renaissance!
- USA Today. Economy added 134,000 jobs in September; unemployment falls to nearly 50-year low
- New York Times. With 8 years of job gains, unemployment is lowest since 1969
This past Saturday, the Senate confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court – for whom Judge Kavanaugh himself used to clerk. This confirmation process was long, arduous, and emotional for so many Americans, and I do not envy my Senate colleagues for the responsibility they had to bear and the divisiveness they had to face these past few weeks. With that said, I believe they have made the right choice. Judge Kavanaugh is immensely qualified to be the next Supreme Court Justice as demonstrated by his academic background and career, as well as his twelve-year experience on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – informally called the second most powerful court in the land – where he authored over 300 opinions. The Senate Judiciary Committee was also provided 42,000 pages of documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush Administration. After seven F.B.I. investigations and thousands upon thousands of pages of documentation related to Judge Kavanaugh’s background, I am satisfied the Committee performed its due diligence to ensure the integrity of this candidate for the Supreme Court.
- AJC. Senate confirms Kavanaugh to Supreme Court after bitter fight
- The Hill. Senate installs Kavanaugh on Supreme Court
A significant factor supporting America’s ability to shape world events is the relationship we have with our allies around the globe. With active diplomatic relations with nearly 200 countries, we have partnered with other nations to spread freedom and prosperity since our very beginning. Countries like the United Kingdom and France have stood with the U.S. for centuries—despite some bumps along the road—while others, like those of the former Soviet Union and other newer countries, have only just begun. While not our oldest or our newest ally, Israel is one of our most important as it is the only fully functioning democracy in the Middle East and our greatest partner for peace and freedom in the region. Here is what I have heard from some of you about that relationship:
Daniel from Suwanee:
Annual security assistance to America's ally Israel is the most tangible manifestation of American support for the Jewish state. Today, Israel faces an unprecedented array of threats, that range from Iran's increased presence in Syria and Lebanon to the growing weapons capabilities of Hamas and Hezbollah. These threats require the Jewish state to significantly increase its defense expenditures in order to protect itself and to keep its citizens safe. The United States must continue to help ensure that Israel has the resources necessary to defend itself, by itself, against these threats.
To this end, I ask that you support $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel as well as $500 million in cooperative missile defense funding for Israel for fiscal year 2019 in accordance with the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance. Thank you for standing with Israel, the United States' closest ally in the Middle East.
Miriam from Cumming:
I urge you to support robust U.S. security assistance to Israel and cosponsor the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018. Annual security assistance to Israel is the most tangible manifestation of American support for the Jewish state. With mounting threats on Israel's borders, including Iran's increased presence in Syria and Lebanon, this assistance is more important than ever. The United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 seeks to ensure Israel has the means to defend itself, by itself, against these and other growing threats. This bipartisan bill supports full security funding to Israel, in accordance with the 2016
U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance (MOU). This bill also extends authorization for the U.S. War-Reserve Stockpile in Israel by five years and authorizes an additional $1 billion in stocks. Additionally, it authorizes the president to add precision-guided munitions to the stockpile. Please cosponsor the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 and support $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel and $500 million in cooperative missile defense funding for fiscal year 2019, as called for in the MOU. These funds are critical for ensuring that Israel—America's closest ally in the region—has the military means to counter these threats.
As the sole democracy in the Middle East, Israel faces constant real and existential threats from terrorists and rogue regimes from hundreds of miles away to just feet away. The U.S. has stood as a proud partner in protecting Israel from those threats from the very beginning. In fact, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. Because of the aforementioned threats, that foreign assistance has largely been in the form of military assistance, the primary vehicle for which being the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Daniel and Miriam wrote about. This past week marked the beginning of the 2019 fiscal year, and with it starts the ten-year period of implementing the most recent MOU. The MOU is a decade long agreement negotiated back in 2016 under the Obama Administration demonstrating our nation’s bipartisan commitment to protecting our crucial ally Israel.
Back in 2016, I was proud to lend my support for this MOU by sending a letter with a number of my colleagues to then-President Obama asking him to increase our commitment to Israel. Under the terms of the new $38 billion MOU, the U.S. will provide Israel with $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defense over each of the next ten years. This MOU replaced the previous $30 billion agreement, representing a significant increase and enabling Israel to acquire additional advanced military capabilities from the U.S. which will ensure Israel’s security and strengthen our bilateral relationship.
A safe and strong Israel is not only critical for the people of Israel but also to America’s own national security interests. I am proud to be a strong friend to Israel and to provide it with the resources necessary to defend itself.
The feel of fall is in the air already for some parts of the country, even if those of us in Georgia are still feeling the warm temperatures of a late summer. While fall usually brings us football games, pumpkins, and outdoor hikes, you might not know that it also brings a great migration of monarch butterflies. Yes – monarch butterflies!
The autumn migratory generation of eastern monarchs will be traveling up to 3,000 miles from their most northern breeding range in the United States and Canada to warmer climates in the south. What that means for all of us is that you can watch their peak migration now through October 11th, as they glide over Gwinnett and Forsyth counties on their way to their final destination in either Florida or Mexico. So while you’re outside enjoying Georgia’s beautiful late summer weather, look up, and you just might see one of the 50+ monarch butterflies I released with the House Pollinator Protection Caucus and Pollinator Partnership in Washington, D.C. on September 25th. We held this bipartisan event to raise awareness about the decline of the monarch population and to share how Americans may help this necessary species by planting milkweed and various nectaring fuel sources, which are essential for their survival.
Suwanee resident Caroline LeBleu visited Washington, D.C., with her family and took part in the monarch release in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Other congressional colleagues who joined me include Reps. Rodney Davis (IL-13), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Dan Newhouse (WA-4). Additional participants were U.S. Department of Interior Assistant Secretary Andrea Travnicek and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jim Kurth. This was a fun, educational, and bipartisan event, and I hope to take part in more events like this in the future.
Our community is full of legacies left by those who have called it home over the years, and last week we celebrated one of the most impactful residents we’ve known. Paul Duke is often referred to as the “Father of Peachtree Corners” for his service and vision. It was his leadership that brought about Technology Park which is now home to a thriving and ever-growing technology industry in Peachtree Corners. His passion now lives on in the Paul Duke STEM High School, which opened this past August but was recently officially dedicated to its namesake.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Paul Duke STEM celebrates official dedication
The Seventh District is home to so many wonderful communities, and Peachtree Corners is right there with the best. As is the case with each, it’s the people that make our communities what they are. It’s no accident. I’m grateful for all the men and women who put their talents to use and share their vision with us to make our home a better place. The Seventh District has award-winning schools, and it has a robust economy. These things go hand-in-hand; one doesn’t happen without the other. The partnership demonstrated by Peachtree Corners leadership and Gwinnett County Public Schools is further evidence of that shared commitment to excellence not only now, but in the long-term. Thank you all for what you do!
It would be all too easy to take for granted the assurance we have when it comes to calling upon our first-responders in times of need, but thankfully we have a deep appreciation for these men and women here at home. Whether law enforcement, firefighters, EMS personnel, and more, they are so very important to us all. Their service provides a peace of mind that would otherwise be absent. Day-in and day-out, they go to work to serve their neighbors – often times in precarious and potentially life-threatening situations. They do this willingly, for us, and we’re grateful.
- Forsyth County News. Locals, first responders gather at the third annual Blue Lives Matter event
Last week, first responders and Forsyth County residents gathered to celebrate, memorialize and remember the sacrifice of local heroes in our community and across the nation at the third annual Blue Lives Matter event. Such things can certainly be somber as we remember those we lost, but in our shared gratitude and celebration of their lives and character, we’re brought even closer together. Thank you to each and every one of our first-responders, the families who also bear the weight of that sacrifice, and thank you to all those in our community who made this event possible.
This week the Senate is expected to move to the President’s desk a major water infrastructure bill, S. 3021, the “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.” This bill passed the House overwhelmingly in September, and now, in a similarly bipartisan fashion, it’s expected to pass the Senate. This will be the third Congress in a row where we have been able to draft, negotiate, and pass a water resources bill to support the work of the Army Corps of Engineers – which manages our very own Lake Lanier – and various states and utilities that provide drinking water and storm water infrastructure. This bill is another critical piece of President Trump’s larger infrastructure plan, and I’m so proud that it’s finally going to become law.
On a more somber note, many of us in the southeast are going to be preparing for Hurricane Michael to make landfall this week. While the hurricane is expected to track south and east of the metro Atlanta area, our friends and neighbors in south Georgia, especially in Albany, Valdosta, and Waycross, should plan for strong tropical storm force winds and many inches of rain. For those of us in the metro area, weather forecasters are predicting that this will be a rain event, with possibly strong, tropical storm force wind gusts, but hopefully, no chance for real damage. That said, with likely power outages, flooding, and wind damage expected to our south, please keep our fellow Georgians – and our neighbors in Florida and Alabama – in your thoughts and prayers. And if you’d like to help, I would encourage you to donate to your charity of choice.
Member of Congress