Washington Watch - 10/02/17
For the 4th consecutive year, Georgia has been named as the #1 state for business, and I’m happy to say that Georgia is no stranger to being consistently ranked as a top state for business. Our large, diverse, and highly educated workforce, our sophisticated infrastructure that provides access to markets around the globe, and our pro-business tax structure and regulatory policies create the kind of environment that bring both major companies, like Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Porsche, and more, to our state, and encourages our homegrown companies, like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta, to stay in Georgia. In fact, seventeen Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Georgia, with over 450 Fortune 500 companies having a presence in the state. Now as large companies, like Amazon, search for a new home, it will be hard to turn down the warm welcome that Georgia offers.
With so many companies calling Georgia home, that means more opportunities and more jobs for Georgians. Whether it is in our booming tech industry, emerging film production, or every industry in between, each new company coming to Georgia results in more high-paying, quality jobs that continue to make Georgia such a wonderful place to raise a family, work, grow up, and thrive. This distinction is a direct result of the hard work of millions of Georgians across the state, and we are fortunate to live in such a prosperous state that supports that growth. I look forward to continuing to partner with the people of Georgia to push policies, including comprehensive tax reform, that encourage companies to stay in the U.S. and that make Georgia the #1 state in which to do business.
- Georgia Department of Economic Development. Georgia No. 1 state for business
- Area Development. 2017 top states for doing business: Georgia ranks #1 fourth year in a row
You and I have been discussing a variety of issues in detail in my telephone town hall series, and I’m grateful to each one of you for taking the time to participate. Last week we had the opportunity to talk about health care policy on Tuesday, as well as transportation and infrastructure policy on Thursday. As has been the case in each of these events, we had a guest speaker in the respective fields join the calls and offer their input and expertise on the topic, and I certainly hope you found it as helpful as I did. We heard from Sara Morse, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs with the Department of Health and Human Services, during our health care discussion, and we had the chance to get an update from Georgia’s own Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Russell McMurry as he talked about the progress being made here at home on a variety of projects.
As Georgians and residents of the Seventh District, we have an important story to tell, and the fact that we have tangible results to back it up makes our voice in Washington so much more effective – whatever the issue may be. The partnership we at the federal level have with Commissioner McMurry is an example for success not only in Washington and throughout Georgia, but across the country. When the I-85 bridge collapsed following a fire in March, Georgia’s leaders at every level immediately joined together to respond. I was actually with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao when the fire broke out, and saw in-person how quickly and decisively she acted to direct her team to provide Governor Deal, Commissioner McMurry, and the entire Georgia team with all the resources needed to begin the rebuilding process. From that point on, our Georgia leadership worked hand-in-hand with their federal counterparts to rebuild and re-open the bridge in just six weeks! This accomplishment not only showed what we here in Georgia are about, but it serves as a model for regulatory reform that prioritizes protecting taxpayer dollars and the environment while not hindering progress. Working together in this way builds trust and strengthens relationships in a way nothing else can, and that is absolutely invaluable as we craft solutions for the challenges we face.
If you weren’t able to participate in these events, please know I’ll be doing more, and certainly hope you’ll be able to participate at that time. I’ll be sure to let you know when those are coming up, so please keep an eye on future newsletters. Thank you again for your continued partnership, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Last week, the House addressed several important needs with a single piece of legislation, H.R. 3823, the “Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017.” As the name suggests, the bill is designed to deliver targeted tax relief for Americans in Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico who recently found themselves in the path of damaging hurricanes. Among other things, the bill would create a temporary tax break to cushion the financial blow of uncompensated losses in disaster areas, permit penalty-free access to retirement accounts, and encourage Americans from across the nation to make charitable contributions to the recovery efforts. (To find out more about the tax changes in H.R. 3823, click here.) The bill was approved by the Senate shortly after it passed the House, and it has been signed by the President.
Separate from the disaster relief provisions, H.R. 3823 provides a six month reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will both ensure that the nation’s air traffic control program continues without interruption and gives Congress a bit more time to reach a consensus on a comprehensive, long-term FAA reauthorization bill. I look forward to continuing this important debate as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and hopefully approving a transformational new FAA bill that will bring our nation’s air traffic control system into the 21st Century.
Last week I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to express concerns about the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) new proposed rule for how home health agencies will be reimbursed. Not only did I hear from a number of home health agencies in and around our community who shared with me how this rule will negatively impact their business and the patients they serve, I also heard from a number of our neighbors in the Seventh District who believe their loved ones’ care could be compromised by this proposal.
Among the concerns brought to my attention was the fact that CMS did not collaboratively work with home health providers in a constructive manner to ensure that rule works in the best interest of patients, especially those in rural areas. You can count on me to continue supporting efforts to delay the rule so that CMS has adequate time to work in conjunction with providers to ensure that patients continue to have access to quality care in the comfort of their own homes. In addition, I look forward to working with our local providers and CMS to modify the proposal so that we can come to a better solution that saves money for taxpayers and provides needed home health services to those American who have earned their Medicare benefits.
- Click HERE to read the letter.
During the presidential transition in January, it was reported that then-President Obama warned his successor that his most vexing challenge in office would be North Korea. There are no “good” realistic solutions to achieve peace with this rogue regime, as several presidents have come to learn, but we continue to bring all of America’s diplomatic tools to bear in hopes that war can be avoided. So far, we’ve approved new economic sanctions against North Korea, pressured China to do more to disrupt the flow of funds to their nuclear development programs, and rallied worldwide support of our efforts to set Kim Jong-Un’s regime on a more peaceful course. This week, the U.S. House unanimously added a powerful new tool to our diplomatic arsenal. H.R. 2061, the “North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017,” approves much-needed assistance to the oppressed people of North Korea. The lucky few who have escaped the grasp of Kim Jong-Un’s hermit kingdom have spoken forcefully about the power of outside information and tyranny of life inside the dictatorship. This legislation protects basic human rights and promotes freedom of information by providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and defectors as well as updating current federal law to reflect new technological capabilities available to us to disseminate more outside information among the citizen-hostages in this highly isolated part of the world. This measure now goes to the Senate for final passage.
- Washington Examiner. House reauthorizes North Korean human rights law
The House also acted last week to provide a five-year reauthorization for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. As you all may know, MIECHV is a federal program that provides grant funding to states to assist at-risk pregnant women, children, and families. In Georgia, MIECHV efforts are led by the Department of Public Health, and the agency works to improve child and family outcomes through several evidenced-based home visiting programs, including Early Head Start-Home Visiting, Healthy Families in Georgia, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers. I was pleased to support the five-year MIECHV reauthorization and Georgia’s efforts to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our state, and I hope to see the Senate advance this important bill very soon.
- Huffington Post. Home visiting: proven family support needs action from Congress
Along with the MIECHV reauthorization, the House moved legislation to ensure taxpayer dollars are not being collected by folks who have outstanding felony warrants. As you all may recall, under the 1996 welfare reform law, which was signed by former President Bill Clinton, fugitive felons were made ineligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits. However, since the 1990s, the law, and the Social Security Administration’s enforcement of it, has been the subject of a few court cases which ultimately limited the policy’s application and impact. The bill passed in the House this week, H.R. 2792, the “Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons Act of 2017,” seeks to restore the original intent of the 1996 welfare reform law, and I was pleased to support it.
Part of what makes our community such a great place to live is the way in which we invest in our young people. That starts with education, and no place does it better than we do. Now some might say I’m biased, but the fact of the matter is that time and again, our educators and students earn the recognition they receive. The most recent round of accolades includes a Gwinnett County class of 2017 that has posted SAT scores 24 points higher than the national average and a Forsyth County system that includes three of the six Georgia public schools earning the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award! If you’re not familiar with the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, it honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. These achievements matter not because they make us proud of our community – though they absolutely do – but because they represent a younger generation that is being equipped with the skills and education needed to be successful. That success isn’t the result of a federal mandate or one-size-fits-all approach from Washington, it’s indicative of our local educators’ commitment to our hard-working, intelligent young people. Whether we’re talking about transportation policy, education, or one of a number of issues, our track record is one of action and record-setting results. Congratulations and keep up the great work!
This week the House is going to pass the FY18 Budget. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I’m so pleased that my committee’s work product will finally get a debate on the House floor. And if you’d like to watch that debate, I hope that you will tune in to CSPAN on Wednesday at 12:30PM, where I will kick-off the many hours of debate on this critically important measure. The bill, “Building A Better America,” balances the federal budget within 10 years, promotes economic growth, improves the sustainability of Medicare, ensures a strong national defense, and achieves $6.5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. This budget is something to be proud of, and I am going to be very happy to cast my vote in favor of it this week.
In addition, the House will also consider H.R. 36, the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” This bill would prohibit the performance of an abortion if the baby is at least 20 weeks old, and it includes general exceptions for cases of rape, incest involving a minor, or if the life of the mother is in jeopardy. I know that issue of abortion elicits strong feelings; feelings that are often times tied to a deeply held religious or moral belief. And because of that, I realize that most feelings on this issue are crystalized and have been for decades. Please know that while I am unapologetically pro-life and will do all that I can to support pro-life policies, I hope that we can have a discussion about abortion that is fair-minded and respectful. The children and the mothers deserve nothing less.
Member of Congress