District Connection - 4/22/19
For millions of Americans around the world, the past few days and upcoming week are special and represent a holy season. As friends, family, and loved ones come together to celebrate Passover and Easter, we can reflect as a nation on the strength we draw from the diversity of our neighbors and fellow Americans. It’s been a privilege to spend this past week reflecting on this time with those in the exceptional communities of Georgia’s 7th District.
Whether you are observing Passover or Easter, let us recognize and be thankful for our First Amendment freedom to practice our religious faiths peacefully within our communities. We are blessed to live in a country that was created to represent the religious diversity of its people. While I am proud to share my faith with others, I am even prouder to share my faith in the American people and in a Constitution that allows us the freedom to celebrate our differences together. Happy Easter and a Blessed Passover to you all! I am honored to have the chance to represent each of you.
Last week, I had the pleasure talking to CBS 46’s Vince Sims about what the Georgia Congressional Delegation is doing to secure disaster relief for our farmers, why Congress needs to vote on a budget resolution, and how we can prioritize legal immigration and border security.
Click on the image below to watch our exclusive interview.
Every time Congress is out of session, I return home and meet with constituents from across the district. It is a pleasure to personally connect with and reach out to those in the community. This is not only a chance for me to share what I do on your behalf in Washington, but it is also an opportunity for me to see what is happening in the community, hear what worries each of you, and learn about all the good that occurs in our district. Some of the best places to do this are at the local meetings of community organizations like the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, and last week, I spoke with the Lawrenceville Rotary, North Gwinnett Kiwanis, and Duluth Kiwanis clubs. We spoke about how the 116th Congress has started off, what we hope to achieve in the remainder of the Congress, and how to give back to the district. These organizations pride themselves on serving their communities, and they are the places where people of all types can come together to make our tomorrow better than today. At these meetings, I heard how each group is helping our neighbors through things like giving scholarships to students, feeding the hungry, and working towards preventing addiction, homelessness, and other problems. I am privileged to return to Congress with these uplifting stories from our community.
Rep. Woodall answers questions about the legislative priorities of the 116th Congress
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Woodall says bipartisan work still possible in divided Congress
I make it a point when I am here at home to visit with leaders who can help to define the challenges and solutions in federal regulations. For example, I had a wonderful visit with Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) about what the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is doing and can do to support Georgia and our local area’s economic development. As member-owned cooperatives, Sawnee and Jackson EMCs—and Oglethorpe Power—hear directly from citizens about ways to work better together to grow and to serve our communities. As you have heard me say regularly, I don’t have to have all the answers; I simply need to be willing to listen to those in our community with knowledge and experience. Together, we produce better public policy.
A senior member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Woodall has prioritized local issues in Washington, D.C.
A good example of that partnership is in health care. I am a lawyer, not a doctor. But we have amazing health professionals in our district, from those in private practice to those who work at our major hospitals to those teaching at our institutes of higher education. When Congress is talking about funding Graduate Medical Education (GME), I call on our local experts for ideas about how we can do better. Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC), for example, invited me into its Simulation Lab last week to see firsthand how it is utilizing health care simulators and technology to practice high-risk techniques, or even techniques that would be too uncomfortable for a patient to endure repeatedly, in a controlled setting. As many of you are likely aware, several high-risk professions utilize simulators in some form or fashion, including aerospace, maritime operations, and even across our military, and so it makes sense that our healthcare professionals would do the same. These technologies are increasingly being integrated into GME curriculums and hospital settings across the country, and it’s amazing to see how our health care providers, staff, and medical residents are using these simulators to establish safe protocols, refine techniques, and keep their clinical reasoning sharp, improving the quality of care delivered and improving outcomes. Thank you to GMC and the Simulation Lab team for taking the time to help me learn more!
Rep. Woodall visits with Gwinnett Medical Centers Simulation Lab staff members
CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: FOREIGN AID AND CENTRAL AMERICAN IMMIGRATION
As our immigration issues continue to dominate the headlines and Congressional inaction on serious reform remains distant, the Trump Administration has sought out other ways to address the increasing number of people coming to our Southern border—over 100,000 in March alone. As you know, many of those seeking to enter the U.S. through our Southern border do not necessarily originate from our immediate neighbor to the South, but come from a region called the “Northern Triangle,” comprised of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. President Trump announced last month that in an effort to encourage those nations to partner with the U.S. to address migration from this region, he would be cutting our aid to those countries until the partnership improves. My bosses and your neighbors are both for and against the President’s plan:
Courtney from Suwanee:
Donald Trump has announced an end to humanitarian aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. As a constituent, I urge you to make sure that Congress blocks this act of cruelty. In effect, Trump claims that by making these Central American countries even worse places to live he will somehow stop people from leaving them. He claims to be saving money, but is not cutting off funding to murderous police and militaries that contribute heavily to making these countries difficult places to remain in. Congress must keep actual aid, not military "aid," in place.
Marian from Cumming:
Please co-sign the Berta Caceres act which would stop American taxpayer dollars going to support Honduran police and military which are committing human rights abuses.
Foreign aid is an important tool in pursuing our foreign policy and national defense goals, and I absolutely believe that we have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves. That said, when providing aid to countries that are consistently failing their people, we must look critically at where the aid is going to ensure it is truly beneficial. Too often we have seen taxpayer dollars mismanaged. For the countries of the “Northern Triangle” where violence and drug trafficking is growing, it is essential that we ensure our financial assistance is actually going to combat drug production, human trafficking, and criminal gangs. Congress has already taken a stand, conditioning 75 percent of the aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras on the Secretary of State certifying that these governments have taken the necessary steps to combat corruption, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and to improve the human rights of their people.
As Marian mentioned, my friend Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has introduced the “Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act” to suspend all security assistance to Honduras until it has met certain requirements. Further, last month then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen met with the security ministers of the “Northern Triangle” countries to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to unify our efforts in combating human trafficking, criminal organizations, and other security matters. While I believe we can use foreign aid to incentivize good policies, President Trump has shown that he is looking at every dollar for better results. I expect the U.S. will continue partnering with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and will continue working to improve the livelihood of all our peoples.
FORSYTH SCHOOLS NAMED AS GEORGIA “LIGHTHOUSE SCHOOLS TO WATCH”
Our community is second to none when it comes to excellence in education, so it should come as no surprise that our educators and students are, once again, being recognized for their hard work. South Forsyth Middle School was recently named a “Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch” for 2019, joining only a handful of schools in our state and across the country in receiving this honor, including Liberty Middle School in Cumming, which was re-designated with this recognition this year. For those of you not familiar with the Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch program, this program is a state-level partnership that identifies high-achieving middle schools which excel in the areas of academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structures and processes. I hope you will join me in congratulating these schools on this incredible achievement!
- Forsyth County News. South Forsyth Middle awarded for leading the way in education
You’ll find no shortage of individuals in our community who are willing to devote their time and their talents in service to our country. I see that enthusiasm each year in the faces of young folks during Service Academy Day, and I know that will be equally true of this year’s upcoming Academy Day this Saturday, April 27th.
I know we are all inspired by those who make the sacrifice to serve our country in our Armed Forces, and as such, I want to share a great story about U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Krystal-Monaes Johnson, a Lawrenceville native, who currently serves aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt based in San Diego, which you can find below. I know we are all grateful for her service and sacrifice, and if you are interested in attending Academy Day on April 27th, you can find those details HERE.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Collins Hill High grad finds deep meaning to service aboard aircraft carrier
THE WEEK AHEAD: CONTINUED DISCUSSIONS OF THE MUELLER REPORT
As Congress takes this week to continue our annual Easter/Passover district work period, the news of the week is going to continue to be the Mueller Report. It’s clear from the reporting and reactions already made by Members of Congress and political pundits, that there are two keenly different views of the report. If you’re inclined to support the President, you likely see the report as a complete exoneration of the President. After all, the report says clearly, “…the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” If you’re inclined to oppose the President, however, you likely see the report as a call for Congress to further investigate possible obstruction of justice by President Trump as the report states, “[t]he evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” So in the end, the American people have been left with a murky outcome and two points to consider:
- there was absolutely a concerted effort by the Russian government – begun in 2014 – to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election;
- there was no collusion, coordination, or conspiracy by the President or his campaign with the Russian government in this effort; and
I am certain there will be myriad opportunities for partisanship as Congress addresses each of these points, and that’s unfortunate. I had hoped that the report would provide the confidence to bring us together, not push us farther into our partisan corners, but some partisans simply don’t want that outcome. While all Americans should be pleased that the partisan accusations of coordination or conspiracy between the Administration and the Russian government have been definitively debunked and rejected, and even as the most partisan elements of the Democratic party continue investigating the President, we cannot lose focus on the truly bad actor in this story: Russia. Every American knows now beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Russian government worked to involve itself in the President election. The Mueller Report clearly shows that whatever efforts the Obama Administration took from 2014 to 2016 didn’t subdue Russia, so now we must take stronger action. I hope that securing our elections is something that everyone – Democrats and Republicans – can agree should be priority number 1 for this Congress. We all need to keep our eyes focused on what I believe the most important conclusion was from this report: safeguarding our elections from malign foreign influence. Everything else is secondary to the preservation of our Republic – a Republic that is grounded in free and fair elections.
As this discussion continues, I urge you to make your voice heard. Please let me know what you think about the Mueller Report and how we should ensure that foreign influence in our elections never happens again by visiting my website at http://woodall.house.gov/contact or by emailing me at email@example.com.
Member of Congress