District Connection - 8/28/17
Each year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce evaluates the voting record of House and Senate members and presents those who support job creation with the Spirit of Enterprise award. I was grateful to receive the award again this year. In fact, I received a 100% rating from the Chamber, which means my voting record in Congress aligns with the needs of America’s businesses and workers. Specifically, I was happy to support 14 pieces of legislation last year that buoyed America’s growing economy: items as diverse as reauthorizing the Career and Technical Education Act, improving implementation of the government’s ozone standards, ensuring that Americans have access to quality financial investment advice, protecting the ability of American companies and entrepreneurs to defend their intellectual property from unscrupulous foreign competition, maintaining American manufacturing competitiveness, directing the Army Corps of Engineers to protect and sustain our nation’s water infrastructure, and many more. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its various state and county-affiliated organizations represent millions of businesses and employees of all sizes and from all sectors of our economy. But what they all share is a commitment to making America the most prosperous nation on Earth, and I’m proud to be one of their champions in Washington, D.C.
The backlog of veterans’ appeals for benefits, including health care, is perhaps the most critical and pressing issue facing our veterans. With a backlog of nearly half a million appeals, our veterans have been left waiting, oftentimes for years, with little reason to hope for a decision on whether they will receive their earned benefits and necessary health care for their service-connected disabilities. A VA estimate has said that it would take at least five years to clear the existing backlog of appeals, despite millions of dollars appropriated by Congress to solve the issue. Clearly this is a broken system. Clearly this is unacceptable. This is why the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 is such an incredibly important piece of legislation that I’m excited to say is now law.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 will create three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals for the different stages of the appeals process. These lanes will speed-up appeals and get veterans the decisions they deserve faster. We can never tolerate sub-standard care for our veterans, and this takes another important step toward ensuring our nation’s heroes have the great, timely care they deserve. I can’t emphasize enough how seriously this Congress has taken its promise to our veterans, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House in that effort.
- The Hill. Trump signs bill to speed up veteran disability appeals process
- Atlanta Journal Constitution. VA reform laws are rare legislative bright spot in 2017 for Trump, Congress
Last year, I had the pleasure of touring Winton Machine Company in Suwanee to see a glimpse of how this local business, founded by George and Lisa Winton, crafts customized machinery for their clients across the globe. Last week, I had the honor of visiting them again, but this time to present them with the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) Export Achievement Award! The hard-earned recognition comes as a result of their successful efforts reaching new foreign markets with their product, and I couldn’t be more proud of the whole team. I’m also grateful to Southern Regional Director Thomas Strauss and all the dedicated public servants at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service for their commitment to our small businesses and local economy. It’s this kind of partnership between the American people and their government that nurtures further success, and it’s absolutely worth celebrating. If you’re a small business in the area looking to expand to foreign markets, but have run into difficulty or been unsure how to begin, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the talented Commercial Service team. And of course you’re always welcome to reach out to my office. We stand ready and eager to help.
Rep. Rob Woodall and the U.S. Consumer Service present the Export Achievement Award to the team at Winton Machines in Suwanee
Winton Machine’s story is certainly unique to them, but in it we also find many common threads to the classic American story, both in how they got where they are, and the challenges they face. They began in the basement of their home twenty years ago, and through the power of their ideas and years of hard work, they’ve turned a dream into a reality – not to mention honed an industry-leading product that is serving countless individuals all over the world while employing 30 members of our community.
During my visit, I had the chance to visit with these folks as well, and as you might expect, their concerns ranged from the state of health care, to national security, to the need for a simpler, more transparent tax code. The latter is an issue virtually every business I visit has on its radar as a top priority. I couldn’t agree more, and I’m optimistic we’ll see significant movement soon because Speaker Ryan has made clear his commitment to getting it done, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady is working as hard as ever to do the same, and President Trump is certainly leading the charge. There are differing opinions about exactly what the best tax policy is, but there is agreement that it shouldn’t be hindering our job-creators and workers from doing what they do best, and it’s on that common ground where I believe we’ll be successful.
- Winton Machine Company. Winton Machine Company selected as a 2017 Atlanta Metro Export Challenge Semi-Finalist
- Politico. Trump’s team and lawmakers making strides on tax reform plan
- Ways and Means Committee. Bold, pro-growth tax reform
Did you know that Gwinnett County is home to the 4th busiest air traffic control tower in Georgia? On Wednesday, I had the privilege of touring the Air Traffic Control Tower at Briscoe Field in Lawrenceville to learn more about their operations and what Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reform could mean to them in terms of modernized equipment and greater efficiency. Since Briscoe Field only services general/private aviation, the protections that we included in this year’s FAA reform bill for general aviation users are of great importance. These protections include preventing any new user fees on general aviation, ensuring continued access to our national airspace for all pilots, guaranteeing sustainable funding for our smaller community airports, and more. You can learn all about our efforts to modernize American aviation here.
Rep. Rob Woodall views operations at Briscoe Field's air traffic control tower
Our part of the world is fortunate to have an abundance of dedicated leaders who take time from their busy lives to serve our community. Mayor Bucky Johnson is one of those individuals, and after leading the City of Norcross for the last 10 years, he recently announced his plans to not seek re-election as he and his family move on to the next chapter of their lives. This is what good citizen leadership looks like: serving your neighbors with distinction, leaving your community better than you found it, and passing the torch to the next in line. And again, no one does that better than we do here at home. While we will miss Mayor Johnson’s leadership in this capacity, I have no doubt his successor will bring his own strengths and vision to the role, and I look forward to what’s to come. In the meantime, I’m grateful to Mayor Johnson for his years of service and partnership, and I wish him all the best going forward!
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson will not seek re-election
As you all know, I frequently have the pleasure of sitting down with businesses leaders from our district and across our state, and one issue that seems to come up in just about every one of those meetings is the need to ensure that American workers have the necessary skills to meet the needs of today’s job market. This issue is not confined to our district or state, as businesses in states across the nation are scrambling to find the right workers to fill their open positions, and one of the best solutions to address the skills gap in America is to get more folks into apprenticeship programs. You all will recall that President Trump recently issued an Executive Order to help more private entities, including businesses, trade groups, and labor unions, establish apprenticeship programs. I absolutely support the President in this effort and look forward to helping connect more workers in our area with groups offering apprenticeship programs.
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with administrators and instructors at the electrical worker training center in Norcross
It should come as no surprise to you all that our district is ahead of the curve on this issue, as is the case with many other issues, and last week, I visited a Norcross-based electrical worker training center which is jointly funded by the Atlanta Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 613. At the more than 36,000 square foot, state-of-the-art training center, workers can enter apprenticeship programs to become an Inside Wireman (electrical apprentice), Installer Technician (telecommunications apprentice), Construction Electrician, and more. These are high-paying, technical jobs that are in great demand across the country, and contribute to our growing economy. I very much enjoyed visiting with the folks at the training center, and I’m excited to take what I learned back to Washington, D.C., and incorporate it into legislative solutions for folks in our district. As Congress works to reform and reauthorize both the Higher Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act in the coming months, I will certainly be thinking about the electrical training center and the importance of supporting apprenticeship programs.
Forsyth County is brimming with entrepreneurial activity, but if you have any doubts, just come out this Tuesday to the Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Technical College to see for yourself. The inaugural 2017 FoCo Expo is free of charge, will include 68 vendors from across the county, and will have food and drink available for purchase, as well as events for all ages. The event highlighting the local economy will take place from 4 – 8PM on August 29th, and offers attendees the opportunity to network, collaborate, and learn about local businesses. Having had the pleasure of visiting with so many of our Forsyth business owners, employees, and entrepreneurs, I’m confident that you won’t regret coming out to see all the great products and services available from folks right here at home. It’s sure to be a great event, so if you’re able, come on out and support your neighbors! You can find more information on the event here, or at the link below.
- Forsyth County News. Buy-local expo coming to Forsyth Conference Center
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