District Connection - 8/27/18
On Sunday evening, I was honored to receive the “Friend of Israel” award from the Congregation Beth Israel, led by my good friend Rabbi Levi Mentz. I was tremendously honored to receive the award, and I am very proud of all of the work that we do in Congress to promote the very special bond between Israel and the United States. Specifically, we discussed the strong support that Congress and the President have demonstrated for Israel over the last 18 months, from strengthened military partnerships, to relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, to enacting a number of laws to fight terrorist activities and put our common enemies on notice. Today, our bilateral relationship has never been stronger. I am grateful for so much positive feedback I’ve received from many of you on the important steps we’ve taken to help Israel defend itself from international hostility.
Much more than an award ceremony, though, Sunday night’s celebration was a recognition of local leaders in Forsyth County who have long dreamed that Forsyth would one day have its own synagogue. Rabbi Mentz again laid out that vision and shared the path for making it a reality. I’m proud of the work Congregation Beth Israel does in our community, of the work Chabad of Georgia does across the state, and of the partnership that we all have supporting both the U.S. and the nation of Israel.
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with Forsyth Commissioner Dennis Brown, Mrs. Suzy Brown, Georgia State Representative Todd Jones and Mrs. Tracey Jones
As everyone knows by now, Arizona Senator John McCain died last Saturday after a brave and hard-fought battle against brain cancer. So much has been said about his life, his legacy, and his honorable service to the American people over the past few days, and you will hear more about his heroic life as his constituents in Arizona and the American people say their final goodbyes to him. A man of great character who had a deep love for America, Senator McCain will not soon be forgotten by those who knew him, nor by those who found his courage in war and in peacetime uplifting and admirable. I hope that all Americans take a moment to say a prayer for his family and friends and honor his legacy this week.
- AJC. In the halls of Congress, John McCain cut a unique path
- WSB-TV. Former Pres. Bush to deliver eulogy at funeral for Sen. John McCain
- Fortune. John McCain’s funeral is this week. Here’s how he’s being honoring in Arizona, DC, and Maryland
This August has turned out to be a busy one for confirming more of President Trump’s nominees, particularly those to the judiciary. Just last week, the Senate announced that they will soon vote to confirm Judge R. Stan Baker to be U.S. District judge for the Southern District of Georgia. The native Georgian and University of Georgia School of Law graduate is an impressive choice to fill the vacancy here in Georgia, and I am pleased that the Senate is so close to confirming him, as it’s already taken almost a year from his initial nomination to get to this point. And this comes just weeks after the Senate confirmed another Georgian, Justice Britt Cagle Grant, to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit in Georgia. Justice Grant, as you may know, used to clerk for another justice awaiting confirmation, the Honorable Brett M. Kavanaugh. Our state is blessed to have such qualified individuals serving our communities in such a capacity, and I am proud they have dedicated their lives to such a noble cause. I look forward to having my colleagues in the Senate complete their work to confirm the pending nominations before them.
In 2015, President Barack Obama began implementing an unprecedented federal takeover of American energy sources that threatened to further slow economic growth, raise electricity bills for those who could least afford it, and cede the global energy boom to foreign competition. The rule involved enormous costs, yet even Obama Administration officials and carbon control advocates admitted at the time that this rule would have, at best, a marginal impact on global carbon output. Fortunately, President Trump announced last week that America would be replacing the misguided Obama-era “Clean Power Plan” with a new stewardship vision, the “Affordable Clean Energy Rule,” which allows states to take the lead on regulating energy products to best serve state needs and take advantage of state opportunities. Rather than simply waging an ideological war on coal as the “Clean Power Plan” did, this new rule will put states and local communities in charge to ensure that both our legacy and renewable energy sources remain plentiful and available to continue fueling our economic boom. We’ve seen first-hand here in Georgia, with the simultaneous expansion of Plant Vogtle and the explosion of Georgia solar energy resources, how state and local entities can work together to spur energy innovation. Georgia has led and done it, and I know that every other state can do it too.
- Forbes. What’s actually in President Trump’s (diet) clean power plan?
- The Hill. Trump ends war on American coal
With the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it can be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing news cycle, much less understand how certain changes or events might affect your family, company, or even your retirement investments. For that reason, I want to take this opportunity to update you on the Administration’s efforts to combat China’s unfair trade policies that for too long have put U.S. industries and workers at a disadvantage.
As many of you may recall, the President last August instructed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to determine whether to investigate under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the laws, policies, practices, or actions of the Government of China. In a 215 page executive report detailing the USTR’s findings, it was determined that “the acts, policies, and practices of the Government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation covered in the investigation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.” In order to combat China’s egregious tactics and trade policies, the Administration decided that it would be in the best interest of American companies and workers to get tough on China by applying certain trade remedies pursuant to Section 301 – the statutory means by which the United States enforces U.S. rights under trade agreements and addresses unfair foreign barriers to U.S. exports. While I have previously expressed my concerns about simply cobbling together tariffs to meet a certain dollar threshold in hopes of addressing our trade deficits, I do understand that there are valid instances in which we must use the tools at our disposal to protect our national security infrastructure and intellectual property rights, but we must do so in a narrow and targeted manner.
To date, tariffs on nearly 1,100 imported goods from China have gone into effect, many of which have been specifically applied to target China’s unfair practices in areas of development that the Chinese government would like to bolster – areas that U.S. companies are typically front-runners in – as well as China’s “Made in China 2025” plan (i.e. aircraft and aircraft components, pharmaceuticals and advanced medical devices, and agricultural machinery and equipment). While I support U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and the President doing all that they can to tear down any and all unfair trade barriers and subsidies and bring strong free trade to all of our trading partners, I would be remiss if I told you that I don’t expect there to be any bumps along the way. That’s because it is no easy task trying to determine which goods China’s unfair practices benefit and which they harm.
As such, I am pleased that Ambassador Lighthizer has established a Section 301 product exclusion process that provides for an open and transparent process that will work to further refine the list of goods subject to the enacted tariffs. For some manufacturers here in Georgia, there simply are not any domestically produced alternatives for their inputs. In this situation, tariffs punish American companies much more than they punish the Chinese government, so an exclusion process was created to recognize and correct bad outcomes for American companies. If you or someone you know have any questions about what actions have been taken pursuant to Section 301or have questions about the product exclusion process, I do hope you’ll reach out to my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-4272 so that my team can work to get you the answers you seek. I look forward to partnering with you to achieve the free and fair trade that all of America wants and needs.
In today’s modern age, we find that technology moves and advances so rapidly that it’s nearly impossible to fully anticipate the consequences of those advances. From in-app purchases on smart phone applications to licensing for online music streaming services to the potential of drones flying overhead and self-driving cars on our streets, new technological advances have brought both wondrous capabilities and a host of challenges that very few imagined just a few years ago. The truth is that technology always moves faster than the law, and as such, there is a constant need to update our nation's many laws. This week’s Constituent Spotlight highlights another good example of a problem many of us never could have envisioned: 3D printed guns.
Sarah from Alpharetta:
You have GOT to do something about the blueprints for the 3D printed guns going online tonight. This is a safety nightmare. Take a stand against the plans being released. Protect people's lives.
Christine from Cumming:
Please stop the imminent release of 3D printed plastic gun plans. This can only make our community less safe.
Leonard from Lawrenceville:
I am concerned about the Trump Administration allowing downloadable 3D printed guns to be legal.
From all of the news coverage, this issue appears to be a new one, but in fact it has been the subject of years of litigation already, and I expect it will continue to be. Whenever you hear about guns and firearms, you expect to be talking about Second Amendment issues, but that isn’t the case here. The releasing of plans or blueprints—or the prohibition on that release—is a First Amendment issue—freedom of speech, and as extended, freedom of expression. Let me start at the beginning, and I will explain.
If you do not know, 3D printing has just recently entered the mainstream. Instead of printing an image on paper, 3D printing actually creates, or “prints,” a layer-by-layer, three-dimensional object. While the idea of printing a 3D object may sound like something from science fiction, but in fact, we have cutting-edge, international industry leaders in 3D printing based right here in the Seventh District. The potential for this technology is nearly endless with examples of applications ranging from the 3D printing of mechanical parts, medical devices, houses, and even food. However, as Sarah, Christine, and Leonard point out, this potential also includes the production of firearms.
The issue of 3D printing a firearm started with the so-called “Liberator,” when the plans for a 3D printed gun created by Defense Distributed were published online. Soon after its announcement, the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance demanded that the files for the “Liberator” be taken down, citing its violation of the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations, and the files were removed. This was just recently settled after years in court, when in July, the State Department recognized Defense Distributed’s First Amendment right to publish the plans.
Existing federal law already prohibits the manufacture or possession of undetectable plastic firearms, so the discussion on this issue has never been a Second Amendment issue. It has been a First Amendment issue about whether a company is free to share its ideas and work product. We all revere the First Amendment and its protections, but as demonstrated by Sarah, Christine, and Leonard’s concerns, Americans grapple constantly with the continuum of freedom and security.
To Leonard’s concern specifically, the Trump Administration is not working to legalize printed guns. In fact, to the contrary, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made crystal clear that the Department of Justice will prosecute producers of any products that violate federal law. In a statement, the Attorney General said:
"Under federal law, it is illegal to manufacture or possess plastic firearms that are undetectable. Violation of this law is punishable by up to five years in prison. Such firearms present a significant risk to public safety, and the Department of Justice will use every available tool to vigorously enforce this prohibition. We will work with federal, state and local law enforcement to identify any possible cases for prosecution… We will not stand for the evasion, especially the flouting, of current law and will take action to ensure that individuals who violate the law by making plastic firearms and rendering them undetectable, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent."
Further, Attorneys General from nineteen states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Defense Distributed to stop the publishing of the plans, and an injunction was issued to block the plans from being published. That case is expected to be decided this week. What’s more, the largest online retailer, Amazon, has announced that it will not allow the plans to be available through its website.
I am an ardent supporter of our Bill of Rights, all of the amendments from the First and Second to the Tenth. Our system of justice punishes actions, not ideas. As Attorney General Sessions said, producing undetectable firearms has long been against the law and will be vigorously prosecuted. Considering the promise of 3D printing and its potential applications, however, we are sure to see even more and as yet unforeseen legal conundrums arise. Some of these will be handled by local community and state laws. Some of them will be addressed by Congress. I look forward to partnering with you to unleash the innovative potential of new technologies while holding fast to our traditional understandings and expectations of freedom and security.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to visit with and get to know the great folks of the Lanier Forsyth Rotary, so this bit of news didn’t surprise me, but it sure does reaffirm what I know to be true about them: they are true leaders who let their example do the talking. Raising $85,000 for your neighbors in need is a remarkable labor of love, and this is just one of their efforts! This can be said of Rotarians all throughout the Seventh District, and any time you encounter these men and women, you’re better off for it. They are, after all, a service organization by definition, so one would expect to see this kind of involvement, but the truth is not every community can boast of a group like Lanier Forsyth Rotary, much less multiple Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions clubs, and so many more in every corner of the region. In the Seventh District, we are so fortunate to have this abundance character – and that matters. When I visit these groups, I often share with them my appreciation not only for the work they’re doing, but how they’re doing it. They don’t care what your politics are. They don’t care what your background is. They only care that you show up and help make the community better, tend to someone in need, and be a part of a solution. Time and again, this is what we see, and it’s the legacy not just of a particular club or organization, but who we are as a community. Thank you all for what you do to make that a reality, and make our voice in Washington that much stronger.
- Forsyth County News. Hometown News: Lanier Forsyth Rotary Club raises $85,000 for charities
In case you were wondering – our community is full of fantastic teachers! Last week, a total of five Gwinnett County Public Schools teachers were honored at the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Educators (GACTE) Summer Leadership Conference for their respective fields, and are now eligible for the overall GACTE Teacher of the Year Award. I don’t know if you saw the recent report that Gwinnett County’s population rose by more than 16,000 last year to reach over 910,000, but there are reasons folks continue to make their home here – and top notch schools is a big one! That said, this creates a tremendous need for talented teachers, and thankfully we have them in our midst. Congratulations to each of these dedicated men and women!
It also just so happens that last month Congress passed – and the President signed – the biggest federal overhaul of career and technical education programs in decades to further partner with remarkable communities like the Seventh District of Georgia. We want to leverage that success such that communities getting it right have even more freedom to excel, and those who have yet to find that level of success will have needed resources to ensure young people are receiving the skills and training they need for a dynamic and evolving economy. I recently wrote more about this in the Gwinnett Daily Post, and if you missed it, you can find it here. At the core of this legislation was the knowledge that our communities, teachers, and mentors here at home are the cornerstone – not Washington – and teachers like these five recently recognized serve as a wonderful example of our broader educators across the district. Best of luck, and thank you again for what you do!
- Gwinnett Daily Post. GCPS teachers win state Career and Technical Educators honors
And this week and upcoming Labor Day weekend have even more fantastic community events to take part in. You could spend time in Norcross at the annual Vietnamese Fall Festival this weekend getting a taste of Vietnam right here in Gwinnett County. You could celebrate at Stone Mountain Park with its Labor Day Weekend Everyday Heroes Celebration. Or you can check-out any of the dozens of great activities in Forsyth County. Whatever you do this coming weekend, I hope that you get to spend some quality time with family and friends enjoying your day off!
This month has been tremendously valuable to me as I’ve been able to visit with you in the community, at your places of worship, at your cultural events, and at your businesses and schools. Everything that I’ve learned from you is going back to Washington, D.C., with me to help me bring our values and our successes to the rest of America. Thank you!
Member of Congress