District Connection - 9/9/13
As I return to Washington, D.C., this week, I am reminded of just how important this past month has been for me. Spending time learning and hearing from you is the best preparation I could have asked for to help me make the tough decisions that are coming in the next month on Syria, the debt limit, government funding, and immigration. To that end, I was so happy to spend my last week in the Seventh District before returning to DC with some fantastic community organizations.
ABILITY ONE CHAMPION
I was honored this week to be named an AbilityOne Champion. If you don't already know, the AbilityOne program is the largest single provider of jobs for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities. The program works with community based, non-profit organizations nationwide -- including the fantastic Bobby Dodd Institute right here in Georgia -- who train and employ individuals with disabilities to help them partner with the federal government to provide necessary goods and services. This program provides disabled individuals with the opportunity to acquire job skills and training, receive good wages and benefits, and gain greater independence and quality of life.
The opportunity to work hard and provide for yourself and your family is a human and spiritual goal that we all share -- regardless of physical or developmental abilities. Work and self-reliance are both a blessing and a key to self-esteem. I am so proud of what AbilityOne has been able to do. Its impact goes far beyond its current generation of workers and extends to all of the children and parents of AbilityOne workers who see success modeled every day.
MOVING FUEL TO GEORGIA: COLONIAL PIPELINE
Chances are, if you have filled up your gas tank recently, you are a customer of Colonial Pipeline. Each day, their pipelines deliver more than two million barrels of fuel across America, and much of it ends up right here in metro Atlanta. During a visit to the company headquarters last week, I learned about the safety and reliability of their operations. It's easy to take for granted the expertise and care that is required to successfully undertake a job as critical as fuel transportation. Colonial is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year making sure that Georgia and most of America's east coast has safe, reliable, and affordable access to the fuel we need to power our economy. I offer my sincere thanks to each and every employee who took the time to visit with me, from the CEO to the pipeline controllers to the human resources staff and more. I certainly have a new-found appreciation for all the hard work that goes in to fueling the Seventh District and the nation.
LITERALLY KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON: GEORGIA ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP COOPERATIVE
I was fortunate last week to speak with and hear from our local electric membership co-ops at a big event hosted at the Sawnee EMC headquarters in Cumming. We talked about the successes the EMCs have had providing inexpensive and reliable service to our neighbors, but we also talked about how new regulations proposed by President Obama's administration threaten to increase costs dramatically for those who can least afford it. In the House, we have passed legislation that will shift more regulatory authority to states and halt the Administration's attack on American energy production. I will continue that fight on your behalf, ensuring that we have both a clean, healthy environment and reliable, affordable, American-made energy.
GROWING THE ECONOMY: METRO ATLANTA REALTORS
I want to thank the Northeast Atlanta Metro Association of Realtors (NAMAR) for inviting me to speak to their members at their monthly networking event. The realtors in attendence are all small business people who play an important role in our local community. They don't just help us find a home, they support our local little league teams, they sponsor community festivals and church fairs, and most importantly, they are on the ground floor of growing our economy. Realtors know firsthand the struggles that our economy has gone through in the past few years, and they are working hard to help our housing sector recover. We are beginning to see housing come back in our area, led by south Forsyth County, and I am optimistic about the future.
I spoke with NAMAR about the housing crisis and about the role the federal government played -- particularly with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA -- that made some things better and many things worse. In Congress, efforts to reform many of these programs have already passed the House Financial Services Committee and that will be considered on the House floor in the coming months. I need the input of the experts in our community about how these reforms will impact us, and I was delighted to hear constructive ideas from many participants about how to improve the reform bills further. Together, I know that we can revive not just our housing economy, but our whole economy.
GWINNETT GOP MEETING
Every month the Gwinnett GOP hosts a fantastic breakfast meeting, and I was pleased to join them this past Saturday. We discussed a number of important issues facing Congress and the nation, including Obamacare, Syria, and immigration reform, to name a few. I also learned about a great charity project that the Gwinnett GOP is supporting, called the Lighthouse Project. The Lighthouse Project is sponsored by Lions Clubs International, and our local Lawrenceville Lions Club is participating in the effort to collect eye glasses to refurbish and provide to people around the world who have vision problems. This is the kind of community support that makes the Seventh District such a great place to live!
THE WEEK AHEAD
- Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey are updating Congress this week on new intelligence regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Senate will be debating a resolution this week authorizing the use of military force in Syria, and the House will likely be debating a similar resolution next week.
- Due to the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass a single appropriations bill, the House will consider a Continuing Resolution in order to fund the government for FY14. I expect that we will vote on a short-term Continuing Resolution that gives Congress another few months to pass the necessary appropriations bills and come to a better solution for the future.
- The House will vote on H.R. 2275 -- a bill that I cosponsored -- that will fix a problem created by the Department of Health and Human Services resulting from a rule issued earlier this year allowing Americans to self-attest to whether they qualify for taxpayer provided Obamacare subsidies. This bill requires that no subsidies go out the door until a verification program can be created protecting the American taxpayer from more waste, fraud, and abuse.