District Connection - 6/3/2019
Despite what you may be hearing from national news outlets and commentators about the prospects of moving an infrastructure deal, I can assure you that lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee remain committed to advancing solutions that will deliver much needed and long overdue improvements to our transportation and infrastructure systems. That’s because whether a big infrastructure package gets crafted or not, there are still several opportunities on the table for Congress and the White House to work together on delivering solutions that our friends and neighbors expect. For one, the FAST Act, which reauthorized many of our critical surface transportation programs, is set to expire on September 30, 2020, and so Congress must get to work on developing a long-term bill to modernize our surface transportation programs and ensure that they can meet the needs of the 21st Century.
Another opportunity Congress must capitalize on when it comes to delivering solutions to our infrastructure needs, particularly our water resources infrastructure, is a new Water Resources Development Act. Former Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) made it a point to reauthorize funding for our critical water resources on a biennial basis. His leadership in restoring consistency to the authorization process was groundbreaking, and it is my hope and expectation that Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) will continue the tradition of passing this crucial legislation on a biennial basis, as the legislation has been instrumental in making targeted investments in America’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water infrastructure that is critical to America’s success and global competitiveness.
To that end, it’s no secret that we only have so many dollars to spend on infrastructure improvements, and though responsible reforms are stretching our dollars further, if we want more, we must be willing to pay more. I am confident that folks across the country are willing to do just that if it means spending more time with loved ones, sitting in less traffic, and getting around town with ease, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to overcome political rancor and deliver solutions at every opportunity presented to me. Click on the image below to watch my interview with the Cox Media Group.
Rep. Woodall discusses infrastructure solutions with Cox Media Group’s Dorey Scheimer
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Georgia Radiology Society. We discussed how surprise billing is a burden on families in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. I believe it is imperative that we protect patients from unintentional bills, especially when they’ve done everything right to ensure they are staying in-network. Last month, President Trump called on Congress to pass legislation that would end surprise billing and create more transparency for patients. As my colleagues and I work to address this issue, I will be sure to keep you updated.
With Memorial Day behind us, schools are out, students have graduated, and summer has unofficially started. The beautiful, albeit sometimes incredibly hot weather is the perfect excuse to go outside and enjoy one of our over 60 National Parks and over 400 National Park designated areas. Here in Georgia, we have 11 National Park designated areas, including the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area right here in the Seventh District. Last year, nearly 320 million people visited those and the many other beautiful sites across the country, and I have heard from constituents, who are not doubt a part of that number, about how much they treasure our parks.
Elizabeth from Duluth
I am a climber, and I greatly value our National Parks System and their spectacular climbing experiences. Outdoor recreation and tourism at National Parks contribute more than $35 billion to Americas economy. The Restore Our Parks bill is a step in the right direction to keep this critical economic engine maintained for the health and wealth of local communities. Please consider the Restore Our Parks Act as the first step in maintaining our National Parks for future generations. Our National Parks also need appropriate funding levels to keep them well-managed and able to accommodate the growing number of National Park visitors.
Ashwini from Cumming
As one of the 1.3 million members and supporters of National Parks Conservation Association, I urge you to do everything you can to support the Restore Our Parks Act (H.R. 1225/S. 500) and address the National Park Service’s (NPS) $11.9 billion backlog of infrastructure repair needs.
The NPS maintenance backlog is a result of aging infrastructure and consistent underfunding. Additionally, between 2011 and 2017, NPS has lost 11 percent of its staff while at the same time struggling to accommodate a 19 percent increase in visitation on average across the system.
Congress and the administration must work together to find a final legislative solution that addresses the maintenance backlog with realistic and dependable funding. I urge you to support dedicated and robust funding – either through an infrastructure package or as a standalone bill – to directly address the national park maintenance backlog. Thank you for your consideration.
I share Ashwini and Elizabeth’s support for our National Parks, and I am proud to be a cosponsor of H.R. 1225, the “Restore our Parks and Public Lands Act.” Former-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said it best, “Our National Parks are being loved to death." Those 300-plus million people that visit our National Parks each year need adequate infrastructure and facilities to support them and to maintain the parks. Right now, the National Park Service has nearly $12 billion worth of deferred maintenance projects, these are repairs or maintenance projects on roads, buildings, utility systems, and other structures and facilities across the National Park System that have been postponed for more than a year due to budget constraints. $106 million of that is needed for National Parks in Georgia alone. As Ashwini and Elizabeth said, H.R. 1225 would help the National Park Service address this massive backlog by creating a “National Park Service and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund” from federal energy revenues to fund these needed repairs. From the forests and mountains of Yosemite National Park to the monuments along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., we have a beautiful country, and it is vital that we maintain it for future generations.
It is always a privilege to recognize the remarkable achievements of our youngest generations, and with the caliber of talent and enthusiasm among our students here at home, I am never short of that opportunity. I hope you will join me in congratulating Nancy Irungu from Snellville and Helen Getu from Lilburn who were selected to be a part of the 2019 Women in Science (WiSCi) Girls Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Design, and Math (STEAM) Camp. This program is sponsored by the State Department and Girl Up, along with private partners, to give students an opportunity to further their skills in STEM fields and gain leadership skills that will ensure young women will continue to play a pivotal role in this area. Nancy and Helen are two of just three students from our state selected for this honor, and they will attend a two-week intensive camp with students from across the globe in one of three hosts countries this July. Keep up the excellent work!
An altruistic spirit is a defining characteristic of the people of the Seventh District, and I know both new and long-time residents can agree it is something inextricably linked to who we are as a community. For those of you interested in opening your home to a new member of the family, the Forsyth County Animal Shelter is looking to help in that endeavor, waiving their standard adoption fee for all animals through September 3rd. You can learn more about their adoption services and volunteer opportunities by visiting Forsyth County’s website HERE or by checking out the articles below.
- Patch. All Adoption Fees Waived This Summer at Forsyth Animal Shelter
- Forsyth County News. Forsyth County Animal Shelter waives adoption fees for summer
This week is a big week for Georgia’s farmers because I expect that the House will pass H.R. 2157, which will provide disaster aid funds to our farmers who were affected by Hurricane Michael last year. This funding has been delayed for far too long as House Democrats, Senate leadership, and the White House disagreed about provisions of the bill. I’m so pleased that those disagreements have been overcome and that our farmers will soon receive the aid that they have needed for so long.
In addition to this bipartisan legislation, the House will be considering a Rules Committee Print of H.R. 6, which means that the Democrats on the Rules Committee have amended the original version of H.R. 6 by deleting all its text and inserting the text of H.R. 2820 and H.R. 2821 instead. This bill could have been another bipartisan step forward for America this week, but instead, House leaders have once again decided to place a partisan, divisive bill on the House floor.
The measure eliminates the “temporary” designation for folks who have Temporary Protective Status (TPS), which is a status we grant to visitors from countries that are too unsafe or unstable to accept their citizens back. This puts TPS recipients – people who were only supposed to be here temporarily – ahead of other immigrants who have been waiting in line, legally for many years. What’s more, the bill provides a special path to citizenship for illegal aliens – again putting folks at the head of the line in front of millions of people who have been waiting in their home countries or here in the U.S. legally. That’s wrong. Instead of solving our immigration problems, H.R. 6 ignores them entirely.
Member of Congress