District Connection - 7/10/17
Summer is in full swing, and you don’t have to look far to see the examples this time of year. Last week we celebrated Independence Day with so many wonderful events across the 7th District. From the annual running of the Star Spangled 4th at Mall of Georgia, to the annual 4th of July Fireworks at the Cumming Fairgrounds, and all of the local parades and fireworks in between, I hope each of you found the right setting for you and your family. Summer is always an exciting time, and the Fourth of July in the 7th District is always a highpoint for me where we share those things that unite us – which absolutely outnumber any differences.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Lawrenceville’s Prelude to the Fourth lights up the skies
- Forsyth County News. 4th of July fireworks at Cumming Fairgrounds
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Thousands attend Star Spangled Fourth at Mall of Georgia
While it’s no secret to those of us who call Georgia home, we are fortunate to have truly amazing leaders in our state and throughout our communities. Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. is one of those individuals, and she has been leading the Georgia Department of Public Health since 2011. She will now be taking her expertise and leadership to the federal government as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the third Georgian to take a prominent role such as this, we now have more members of our community serving in the Presidential Cabinet and leading federal agencies than we did when a Georgian – Jimmy Carter – was President. That makes me proud, but more importantly it also provides us with a tremendous opportunity to affect public policy for the better. I’m excited about what’s to come as we put that voice to use. Congratulations to Dr. Fitzgerald, and thank you for your continued service!
- Washington Post. Trump administration names Georgia health official as new CDC director
- Washington Examiner. Georgia Public Health Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald named as CDC director
Congress returns to Washington, D.C., this week, and I’m happy to say that our House committees are hitting the ground running. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is holding a hearing on assessing the capital asset needs of the VA. So often we spend time working on ways to help our veterans by providing more services, hiring more health care professionals, or cutting bureaucratic red tape – as we’ve done with my bill H.R. 2547 – but a less mentioned, though very important part of serving our veterans is providing them with appropriate facilities. If you’ve even been to the Atlanta VA medical center in Decatur or any of the VA clinics around the area, you know that even though the facilities are high-quality, there is always room for improvement. Our veterans deserve the best that we can provide, and I’m so proud that the VA Committee is taking this charge seriously.
Another huge issue that most Americans don’t think about until they retire is the status of the Social Security trust funds. You might know that there are two Social Security trust funds: the Federal Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund and the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund. Each is funded by payroll tax contributions, and each is supplemented by the interest derived when trust fund securities are cashed-in to the general fund of the Treasury. Beginning in 2034, however, those securities will be depleted and incoming payroll tax revenue will only be sufficient to pay about three-quarters of scheduled Social Security and SSDI benefits through 2090.
This looming fiscal cliff for America’s seniors has been ignored for far too long. Instead of continuing to ignore the problem, I’m heartened that the Ways and Means Committee is looking for ways to solve the problem. While I would advocate for renegotiating the Social Security contract for younger workers – those under age 40 or 45 – who have decades left in their working lives to adjust to any changes that we need to make, I know that there will be many ideas for how to maintain Social Security for years to come, and I’m looking forward to learning about those innovative ideas. Too many young people don’t believe that they’ll ever see a Social Security check when they retire, so this is an opportunity to us to change their minds and provide them with some retirement security while also helping current seniors and those close to retirement maintain the financial security that they have planned for.
Last month the U.S. economy added 222,000 jobs, which was 43,000 more than the 179,000 economists had anticipated. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.4 percent, but the labor participation rate also increased to 62.8% during the same time with 170,000 more individuals in the labor force. There’s absolutely more work to be done to ensure sustainable, long-term growth that creates opportunity for those across the economic spectrum, but things are moving in the right direction, and I’m excited about what will happen as we push ahead with the pro-growth agenda that has seen great progress this year. Continuing the work that has already been done to reduce excessive and redundant federal regulations while moving forward with permanent tax reform is all a part of the process to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners in our communities.
- New York Times. U.S. Labor Market Roars Back, Adding 222,000 Jobs in June
- CNBC. US nonfarm payrolls total 222,000 in June vs 179,000 expected
As part of the House’s continued effort to fulfill our promise to keep America safe and support our troops, this week we are going to consider the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA authorizes the Department of Defense, the nuclear weapons programs of the Department of Energy, and the defense elements of our Intelligence Community. It is a critically important measure that has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and I hope that this year’s bill will follow along that path. I fully expect there to be a robust, days-long debate on this bill, including the many dozens of amendments that the House will certainly consider.
On the other side of the Capitol this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to hold a confirmation hearing on Wednesday for FBI Director nominee, and fellow Georgian, Christopher Wray. Mr. Wray has had a long and distinguished career in the law, and I look forward to his approval and his nomination moving forward to the full Senate for a vote.
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