District Connection - 8/1/16
It's no secret that we are living in a dangerous world, and one in which our allies around the globe are looking to the United States to lead a coalition of peace-loving nations overcome the brutality of violence and terror. To do that, however, the U.S. military must continue to be the greatest, strongest, and most feared fighting force we have ever known. And that means Congress and the President have to work together to provide our military with certainty of purpose. The House has worked hard this year to provide the means to put purpose into action.
In June, the House passed, with wide bipartisan support, an FY17 Department of Defense Appropriations bill that increases funding for our troops and the Global War on Terrorism. And in July, the House amended the Senate's National Defense Authorization Act and began negotiations on a final version of the measure. Unfortunately, action on both bills has largely been stymied by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), but I'm hopeful that when the Senate returns to Washington in September, after having heard from folks back home about how critical both these bills are to our national security, that Senator Reid and his fellow Senate Democrats will lift their objections and join with the House in sending these bills to President Obama's desk.
But there's so much more that we can do right here in Georgia to support both our national security and our military. For example, last week in Lawrenceville I met with local representatives of the Navy League, which is a civilian organization comprised of over 40,000 citizens across the country who add their voice of support for our nation’s maritime services – the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marine. President Ronald Reagan believed in a doctrine of “peace through strength” where our ultimate goal was to never go to war, never to have to fire a missile, and never to have to send a young man or woman home with a broken body or spirit. I too believe in this doctrine, and so does the Navy League. I look forward to working with the League and all members of our community to promote peace through a strong national security posture.
In the wake of increased terrorist attacks in France, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia, to name a few, it’s clearer than ever that our national security is of upmost importance. The good news is that we’ve been able to move a number of important bills to the President’s desk that will keep America safe.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. America still works together for national security
And if you’re as concerned about our national security as I am, I invite you to call-in to my next Telephone Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, August 4th at 7pm to share your thoughts with me.
Last week I stood with dozens of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in sharing our heartfelt condolences with the Baton Rouge Police Department and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. We all know about the terrible murder of three Baton Rouge police officers on July 17th who were targeted specifically because they were serving Americans as law enforcement officers. Our nation’s law enforcement personnel deserve our respect and our support. They put their lives on the line for us every day, regardless of our race, creed, nationality, or political persuasion. This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue; all Americans should be able to come together to mourn the sacrifice of these officers, and the many others who have been killed this year in the line of duty protecting and serving their communities.
In fact, I'm so proud that right here in Forsyth County, our community is making a difference and honoring those who serve us. On Thursday, July 28th, people gathered at the McDonald and Son funeral home in Cumming to celebrate Forsyth Lives Matter. The event showed support for our local law enforcement officers and first responders who so often put their personal safety on the line for us. And it gave all of us a chance to honor those officers who have fallen this year in the line of duty. We owe a debt to them and their families that can never be fully repaid, but which can be honored and respected every day.
- New Orleans Times Picayune. Hundreds gather at vigil for slain Baton Rouge officers
- Fox News. Biden, Lynch, hundreds remember officers gunned down in Baton Rouge
If you're a parent of a college-bound student, or maybe even a college-bound student yourself, you probably know how expensive a good college education can be. Nearly half of all 18-34 year olds have at least one student loan for themselves or their family members, and total student loan debt has ballooned from $240 million in 2003 to more than $1.3 billion in 2016. Soaring student loan debt levels have tremendous effects on future economic growth as well, as young professionals put off buying homes and cars for fear of taking on more debt. While the federal government has been focused on loans to students, we all know that the State of Georgia has been investing in the HOPE Scholarship. In fact, just a few weeks ago we learned that the Georgia Lottery raised more than $1 billion last year to fund our state's pre-kindergarten and HOPE Scholarship programs -- the first time ever that the lottery has raised over $1 billion.
But the local support for students doesn’t end with state government. Literally scores of local groups are working to make education accessible to our young people. Kiwanis, for example, is one local group dedicated to helping with scholarship funds. I learned while visiting with the North Gwinnett Kiwanis Club this week that this one club alone is helping 21 different students. What an amazing difference this club is making!
Rep. Rob Woodall attends the North Gwinnett Kiwanis Club lunch on July 26th
Sophisticated computer hackers and cyber terrorists from around the world are stealing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of data from American citizens. We're not just talking about pirated movies and illegally downloaded music—we're talking about merger and acquisition data, pricing information, the results of expensive research and development, and more, and when you consider that our nation's critical infrastructure—from our waterways to our electric grid—is equally susceptible to a massive, well-coordinated cyber attack, it becomes clear that the threat is real.
The good news is that the House of Representatives has passed a number of important cybersecurity bills this Congress, including: H.R. 1560, the "Protecting Cyber Networks Act," H.R. 1731, the "National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act," H.R. 3490, the "Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act," H.R. 3510, the "Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Strategy Act," and H.R. 3878, the "Strengthening Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Coordination in Our Ports Act," to name a few. The bad news is that the legislative process moves slowly, and cyber criminals move quickly. While the FBI is already working hard to keep our cyber systems safe, with unscrupulous nations and lone-wolf hackers attacking us daily, we need more than just the government to be on guard.
You may have heard of some of these programs and solutions coming from Congress, but what you may not know is that experts are doing cutting-edge research on cyber problems and crafting world-class solutions right here at home. The men and women at the Duluth Honeywell Cybersecurity Lab are world renowned leaders in the process security field. As you sit in the brain center of the lab right here in our own backyard, you feel like you’re sitting on the movie set of a Hollywood spy thriller. Honeywell has long been a leader in personal and business security, but given the growth in threats in this area, the role it plays in protecting our transportation systems and infrastructure cannot be overstated. We should all be proud of the contribution to security being made right here at home by our friends and neighbors.
- CNN. Obama institutes new directive on cyberattacks
- Associated Press. Citing cyber revolution, Obama issues attack response plan
Small business owners across the country are succeeding in buoying our economy, but the government can and must do more to support them. I spent some time last week visiting the Ryder Shared Service Center in Alpharetta. If you’re my age, you think of the Ryder truck the college student rented to move his stuff up to campus. That time is no longer. Ryder today is a Fortune 500 company with nearly 232,000 trucks, over 800 locations in the 5th and 7th Districts of Georgia, and more than 33,000 employees, of which more than 650 of them are right here in Georgia. Despite Ryder’s size and success, however, they still wrestle with the same issues that all 7th District businesses tell me about every day: labor shortages, the unpredictability of fuel prices, and crippling regulatory burdens. One of those regulatory burdens stems from individual states enforcing a patchwork of meal and rest break rules instead of following the federal hours-of-service guidelines, despite a federal law that preempts states from enforcing laws affecting the price, route, or service of any motor carrier.
If you know me, you know that I am a strong proponent of federalism. California, and indeed any other state, should be largely free to pass any law it sees fit to deal with intrastate issues, as long as they are consistent with the Constitution. However, certain interstate issues must be guided by federal standards. Imagine if every state had different rules for commercial aviation; it would be virtually impossible to fly anywhere. Interstate trucking is in a similar spot; it would be virtually impossible to transport affordable food, clothes, and other goods if every state enforced different requirements. That’s why we included a provision in the original House FAA reauthorization and reform bill to fix this misguided court ruling and reaffirm Congress’s intent. While it wasn’t included in the short-term extension, I expect this issue to return next year when we take up another FAA bill. Ensuring American businesses can actually do business is a top priority in the House, and hearing first-hand how we can do better at the Federal level is an invaluable tool.
This Thursday, August 4th, I am hosting a Telephone Town Hall Meeting. While the event is focused on national security policy, I encourage you to call with any questions or comments that you might have. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to discuss those issues that are most concerning to you and your family, and for me to learn from you what you want to see achieved in Washington, D.C.
I’m also pleased to have been invited this week to speak with the folks at the Lawrenceville Kiwanis Club and the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. As always, if you have a community organization, church group, or business that you’d like me to visit, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org to set-up an appointment. I’m a better representative for you when I’m able to learn from you.
Member of Congress