District Connection - 4/4/16
Every year, members of the House are asked to flex our Constitutional muscles and use our “power of the purse” to best spend (or not spend, as is often preferable) the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. That isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that I am proud to share responsibility with my colleagues for. It is also one on which I get to work shoulder-to-shoulder with so many Seventh District constituents, as many great ideas about how to best serve America originate right here at home. I'd like to share just a couple of those ideas with you today, and I look forward throughout the spring and summer to turning these ideas into law.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with providers from all across our area from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) to the Shepherd Center; and from our area’s Community Health Centers, places like Four Corners Primary Care in Norcross and Lawrenceville and Georgia Highlands Medical Services in Cumming, to our local primary care doctors across Forsyth and Gwinnett. They’ve shared with me their expertise about what our community’s health care needs are and how we can use federal investments more efficiently and effectively.
With their counsel, I worked with my colleagues to advocate for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH provides American medical researchers like those at CHOA, Georgia Tech, and Emory with much needed financial support so that they can develop cutting-edge medical treatments for our friends and neighbors fighting deadly diseases. I am working to eliminate less effective spending and redirecting those dollars to this high priority and high value programming.
You might also remember that I’ve advocated in the past for CHOA’s work with the Marcus Autism Center, and I did so again this year. Marcus has developed state of the art diagnostic tools to screen babies for autism. The earlier we can diagnose autism, the earlier we can begin the interventions that are necessary to ensure that kids with autism can reach their full potential in school and in the working world. And the best way to ensure that our kids are taken care of is to make sure that we are training high-quality pediatricians to serve them. That’s why I also worked with CHOA to ask the Appropriations Committee to support an essential program – the Children’s Healthcare Graduate Medical Education program – that trains new pediatricians and pediatric specialists. There is no other program in the country that is specifically focused on providing education for pediatric physicians, and our children deserve the best care we can offer. Marcus has been named an NIH Center of Excellence for its national importance, and I am pleased to partner with it to make a difference in the lives of local families.
Finally, I want to highlight a very special request that hundreds of members came together across the aisle to make – a letter asking the Appropriations Committee to support Community Health Centers (CHCs). There are thousands of CHCs around the country, and some of the best, in my opinion, are right here in metro Atlanta. The physicians, nurses, and volunteers that serve at CHCs are committed to providing the best quality primary care that they can and they do so in partnership with their patients. Each patient at a CHC is asked to pay what they can afford. In this way, nobody is getting a free ride, and everyone has “skin in the game.” This makes CHCs part of our community in a deep and meaningful way.
You may not know it, but the business that has been tasked with overhauling and upgrading the Army and the Marine Corps’ small arms simulation systems is headquartered right here in the Seventh District. That’s right; Meggitt Training Systems is based in Suwanee in a large 235,000 square foot facility and employs over 400 local residents. In 2014, Meggitt was awarded two, five-year contracts to utilize its state-of-the-art simulator technology to replace the Army and the Marine Corps’ aging weapons simulators. I want our men and women in uniform to be as ready and prepared to complete their missions as possible, and employing Meggitt’s technology will help the Pentagon achieve that vital goal. Meggitt training tools not only provide state-of-the-art, real-world simulations to prepare our soldiers and marines, but these tools also save taxpayers millions in ammunition and other training costs. These saved dollars can then be reinvested to ensure that the American military is prepared for whatever threat we must face tomorrow.
This year, I am working with Meggitt not to increase the value of their contract or put more money in the Seventh District, but simply to ensure that these five-year contracts are funded on schedule. Both American servicemen and the American taxpayer are losers when these contracts fall behind schedule, but we all know that the Pentagon is under a lot of financial strain. Because this contract both saves the Pentagon money and provides for our men and women in uniform, you can understand why I led a delegation letter to the Appropriations Committee supporting this important project, and why I gathered support from other members of the Georgia Delegation who also see the importance of the work Meggitt is doing. I hope the House Appropriations Committee hears this powerful message and helps enable a Seventh District company to continue doing valuable work for our nation’s military.
I’ve talked about it a lot in the past, and I want you to know that I am continuing to work with my colleagues to halt the unprecedented, unconstitutional “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. My most recent step was formally requesting language in this year’s appropriations bill to ensure the Administration cannot use another penny in taxpayer dollars to implement this flawed rule that will have disastrous consequences for builders, farmers, families, and more. The New York Times—no friend to Republican lawmakers—wrote about the troubling process the EPA used to push this rule forward, and I voted for legislation that we sent to the President’s desk representing congressional disapproval of this rule. I fully expect any appropriations bill in the House to contain this important limitation language and will work to stop this federal encroachment through any legislative means necessary.
Because I am very passionate about keeping electricity costs as low as possible for Seventh District families, I signed onto a letter in support of level funding for the Rural Utility Service’s (RUS) electric loan program. By providing our nation’s Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs)—including those right here in the State of Georgia—a vital life line of low interest capital to construct and improve transmission lines, install smart grid technology, and repair storm damage, families all around the nation benefit from a lower electric bill each month. In fact, according to the USDA, the Seventh District’s own Jackson EMC was by far the biggest user of this loan program last year in the State of Georgia—providing a direct benefit to Seventh District families. Better yet, because RUS loans have been so successful with borrowers always repaying these loans with interest, they actually end up generating the federal government money, and it is estimated that federal savings will be around $300 million this coming fiscal year. I hope this common-sense program is funded this year once again so that our state and our community can reap its benefits.
I know that many in the Seventh District are just as passionate as I am about preserving our Second Amendment rights guaranteed to all law-abiding citizens, which is exactly why I signed onto this letter in support of defunding the UN Arms Trade Treaty. With some provisions about sales and transfers too vague and not clearly limited solely to international trade, I am adamantly opposed to this agreement which threatens both our Second Amendment rights and our nation’s sovereignty. While admittedly, I don’t get everything I want in the appropriations process, this defund language was a conservative win in last year’s omnibus, and I remain confident that we can achieve the very same win this coming fiscal year.
I co-signed a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies regarding four regulatory changes proposed by the National Labor Relegations Board (NLRB) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). These unilateral actions being taken by the Obama Administration, which are discussed in more detail in the letter, demonstrate President Obama’s continued effort to tip the scales in favor of union bosses at the expense of private employers and hard-working Americans. In the years and months since these proposals were first issued, I’ve heard from folks across the Seventh District about their potential job-killing effects, including home service employees, who provide in-home personal care in our district for seniors and individuals with disabilities, managers at our local Home Depot stores, and construction company owners and subcontractors, who spend their days building and renovating homes in our area. If President Obama genuinely believes that his proposed changes fall on the right side of these labor issues, then he should have no problem coming to Congress and making his case to the American people. However, he has chosen instead to direct groups of unelected bureaucrats to decide these issues behind closed doors, and that is something I simply cannot support.
You might know that every year the House of Representatives holds an art competition for high school students from around the country. Students from each Congressional district compete in a district level competition, and the winning art piece from each district competition is flown to Washington, D.C. to hang in the U.S. Capitol. This year, our winner from the Seventh District is Mr. Ian Peng from North Gwinnett High School. His artwork was spectacular, and I am proud that it will represent our entire community.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. North Gwinnett student’s artwork headed to U.S. Capitol
If you know of an artistic high schooler in your life who would like to participate in this competition next year, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Member of Congress