District Connection - 2/22/16
We’re fortunate to have phenomenal health care professionals in our community, and last week I had the opportunity to visit with many of them during a Gwinnett-Forsyth County Medical Society meeting. These men and women find themselves uniquely positioned in the national health care debate over accessibility and coverage. They’re on the front lines of the issue and – for many – find themselves increasingly involved in federal bureaucracy and less involved with direct patient care. Irrespective of its intent, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has played an enormous role in this shift. Its federally-mandated, one-size-fits all policy approach has driven a wedge in the doctor-patient relationship. It has forced physicians to a place where they must consider regulation over regimen of care and removed much of the consumer choice from patients altogether.
While the ACA is currently the law of the land, its effects continue to move America’s health care system in the wrong direction, and we as an electorate have not settled the debate. I’m grateful to all those – especially our dedicated medical professionals – who continue to take the time to provide input in this discussion. It is that input and involvement in the process that will ensure we craft the long-term solutions America needs; not only for patient-centered, affordable health care choices, but for all the challenges we face as a nation.
Whether we’re discussing our national security concerns, the status of the Supreme Court, or ongoing federal policy debates, we move the ball forward for America when we work together; no matter where we may come down on any given issue. Last week I joined Gwinnett County Chairwoman Charlotte Nash as she delivered her State of the County address. She did a wonderful job discussing where Gwinnett is today and what Gwinnett’s priorities need to be for Gwinnett county to remain that way. She told the massive crowd that if we focus on four pillars, a strong school system, robust water infrastructure, elite first responders, and an efficient transportation infrastructure, then Gwinnett will surely continue to be great.
Listening to Chairwoman Nash discuss her four priorities, it affirmed for me my belief that the more decision making power we push back to our communities, the stronger America we will make. 20 billion gallons of water treated and returned to Lake Lanier from our very own F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center (that’s 39% of what we take out of Lake Lanier). Construction is underway on 17 projects supported by the 2009 SPLOST. Gwinnett corrections inmates are put to work and yielded 184,042 hours of labor last in the last year, worth $21 million to the county, cities and community improvement districts. The Gwinnett school system is a two time Broad Prize winner and is consistently ranked at the top of the nation. The list goes on and on, and these are ideas driven by local residents demanding local results.
Gwinnett County succeeds in this magnificent way because the folks in Gwinnett care enough to come to the table, battle through the disagreements, and find common ground. We are able to implement our ideas and because we all feel a little ownership when they were made close to home.
Too often that is not the case in Congress. For example, the President has never submitted a budget to Congress that comes to balance. Ever. He has not proposed paying down one cent of our now $19 trillion debt, while I as your Representative wrote a budget that balanced in just 4 years. That’s the degree to which there is a divide in Washington, one that is difficult to overcome. It is complicated further when heels are dug in for political reasons and no other.
Throughout my tenure as your Representative I have tried to push control back home, and town hall meetings are an important part of that effort. I had another one last week in Forsyth County. The very same budget divide discussed above was prevalent in our discussion, and the folks in the room felt helpless. While we are a long way from returning decision making back to our communities as our Founders had intended, helpless is the last thing any of us should feel.
Things are looking up, and the only reason we have moved the needle in the right direction is because Americans everywhere are taking an active role. With your help, we’ve been successful in reducing real-dollar deficits each year I’ve been in Congress. Our current federal spending level – as signed by President Obama – is $1 trillion less than it would’ve been without your influence and our partnership – and that matters.
There are many challenges we face as Americans, but, we’ve made tremendous progress in Washington – though it may not always feel that way – and it’s a direct result of your passion.
Rep. Rob Woodall visits with members of Boy Scout Troop #1425 in Cumming on Thursday, February 18th
We have much more to do, and I haven’t lost sight of the end goal. America’s best days are ahead. I’m optimistic because I see the American people invested and tuned in to the process. America isn’t run by 51% of the people. It’s run by 51% of those who show up; and I’m proud to represent a community that does that time and again.
February 15, 2016, came and went, and with it, another failure by the President to live up to a clear requirement in the law. While we’ve seen this Administration fail to live up to a number of requirements and deadlines in law during President Obama’s tenure, this latest example relates to quite possibly the greatest national security threat our nation is confronting today: ISIS. The FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act contained a clear provision requiring the Administration to deliver a strategy to Congress by February 15th outlining what elements are needed to defeat ISIS and what our nation’s broader role in the fight against them should be. ISIS poses a very serious threat to our nation, and this missed deadline, along with other examples of failed leadership on ISIS that have paved the way for their rise, demonstrate that this Administration has not committed to a serious response. It’s not just Congress that the President has failed, it is all the brave men and women deployed overseas in the fight against terror that are left without a clear direction and strategy from their Commander in Chief. They and all other Americans deserve better. The safety and security of American families depend on it.
- The Hill. GOP chairman blasts Obama for missed deadline on ISIS strategy
- CNS News. White House misses deadline to deliver ISIS strategy to Congress
- House Armed Services Committee. White House fails to deliver strategy to counter Islamic extremism
43 years ago, Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX), who at the time was a decorated U.S. Air Force pilot, was released from 7 years of captivity, including 42 months in solitary confinement, as a Prisoner of War held in the Hanoi Hilton by the North Vietnamese military. Congressman Johnson never says that he’s a hero – just that he’s a faithful American who served his country in the military and who serves it still today as a Member of the House of Representatives – but to so many Americans, including me, he is absolutely a hero. His tenacity and love of country has endeared him to generations of Americans, and his colleagues on Capitol Hill, on both sides of the political aisle, have the utmost respect for him.
Last week, many of my colleagues rightly honored Sam Johnson’s contributions to our nation. And simultaneously, we honored every member of our Armed Services who has ever fought for our freedoms, especially those who were tortured and who, like Sam Johnson, refused to allow the enemy to break their American spirits.
This coming week, every House Appropriations subcommittee will be holding a hearing to discuss the budget requests of their particular Cabinet agencies. These hearings are a way for Appropriations Committee members to learn more about which particular programs and policies should receive taxpayer support in the coming fiscal year, and more importantly to many of you, which programs are underperforming and should have their funding cut. This is the first step in the process of crafting and passing all 12 individual appropriations bills this year, and I look forward to that hard work.
The House is expected to pass two bills: H.R. 2406, the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015,” and H.R. 3624, the “Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act of 2016.” The Rules Committee, on which I sit, will hold a hearing on Tuesday at 5pm on these bills, and I invite you to click here to watch that hearing.
Member of Congress