Washington Watch - 11/13/17
HISTORIC TAX REFORM MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER
Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee held a four day mark-up of H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” As I’ve said before, this land-mark legislation is designed to move America from having the least competitive tax code in the world to having the most competitive code. Putting American workers on a level playing field to compete with the rest of the world is job one. To simply the tax code dramatically, we are ending the special exemptions, exceptions, and carve-outs that have long littered the tax code pitting one American family or company against another. You can be sure that I am hearing from all of the special interests that are losing their preferences, but my commitment to you is to stand strong, as we all know that a lower, simpler, fairer tax code is best for all Americans.
I commend my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee for their many hours of work last week and their dedication to combing through each and every provision in this bill. While the committee made a number of changes to the original bill that will keep even more money in your pocket, I’ve heard from many Seventh District families and companies about additional changes that they think will make our tax code simpler and fairer, and I am grateful to those who have shared their thoughts and suggestions with me. If you haven’t done so already, I hope that you all will take a few minutes to look over the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” and share your thoughts with me. I look forward to bringing the bill to the House floor this week and then working to move it through the Senate and to the President’s desk.
- Ways and Means Committee. Ways and Means passes historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
- Politico. House tax writers eye changes to reform bill as committee work gets underway
- Wall Street Journal. GOP Tax Plan: Live Coverage
- Washington Post. Senate GOP plan would delay corporate tax cut, protect mortgage interest deduction
Over the last week, and in particular this past weekend, families across the Seventh District celebrated and thanked the veterans in their lives. I am so proud to live in a community that recognizes the service and sacrifice of their neighbors. I had the opportunity to join many of you at Veterans Day celebrations across the district, and as is always the case in our community, the tributes to these brave men and women were truly moving. From lunch gatherings in their honor, to ceremonies at veterans and fallen heroes memorials in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, the message was consistent: we remember and we are grateful. Our community is blessed to have so many who have worn the uniform and protected America’s freedoms, and we’re equally blessed to be surrounded by neighbors who share our commitment to ensuring their service is valued and remembered. That’s what Veterans Day is all about – honoring those who put their country before their own safety and comfort – and no place does that better than our part of the world. Expressing gratitude to our veterans is a way of life across the Seventh District, and it’s my hope that each of them felt that appreciation and support in a special way.
Rep. Rob Woodall attends Veterans Day ceremonies at the Cumming Veterans War Memorial with Frank Singleton, the Commander of American Legion Post 307 in Cumming
- Forsyth County News. ‘You are not forgotten:’ Ingram Funeral Home honors veterans with annual luncheon
- Forsyth County News. Honoring service, sacrifice: Veterans Day ceremony held at War Memorial
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Gwinnett honors servicemen, women in Veterans Day ceremonies
Throughout this Congress, the House has held firm to its commitment to our veterans, and on the week of Veterans Day, the House doubled down on that commitment and passed an astonishing 14 veterans bills, bringing the total number of bills passed by the House dedicated to reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and helping our veterans to over 40. Among those passed by the House this week were:
- H.R. 918, the “Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act,” which requires the VA to provide mental health services to former service members who would otherwise not be eligible for these services because of an “other than honorable” discharge from the military, thereby helping those veterans who may have been discharged due to a symptom of PTSD. Unfortunately, many service members are discharged from the military with an “other than honorable” discharge due to disciplinary issues, often a result of PTSD symptoms, and are thus ineligible for VA mental health services that could help them. H.R. 918 will provide those former service men and women the opportunity to get the help they need and help combat the epidemic of veteran suicides;
- H.R. 1066, the “VA Management Alignment Act of 2017,” requires the VA to report to Congress on its organizational structure and its efforts to fix its notoriously mismanaged health care system. Despite over 100 recommendations by outside groups to fix an ineffective VA health care system, the VA has failed to fix a system that has resulted in long wait times and lackluster care. This bill will be the first step in reorganizing the VA into the efficient and effective health care system that veterans deserve; and
- H.R. 2123, the “Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act (VETS) Act of 2017,” which allows VA providers to practice telemedicine across state lines. Telemedicine provides a convenient way to reach veterans that could not otherwise receive their necessary health care. PTSD screening, rehabilitation, checkups, and so much more can all be done via telemedicine to reach those far from VA facilities or limited in their mobility. That said, often the doctors that specialize in telemedicine are in different states and restrictions on practicing medicine across state lines has limited veterans’ ability to receive that care. Once H.R. 2123 is signed into law, that will no longer be the case, and the VA will be able to reach more veterans.
No one said fixing the VA would be simple or easy. But, with each bill we pass, this Congress will continue to remake the VA into an agency that provides the care our veterans deserve.
- The Hill. House passes bill to expand mental health care for veterans
- Stars and Stripes. House passed bill taking VA telehealth across state lines
As some of you may remember, back in 2015 the Obama-led National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—an unelected board of officials— changed the 30 year old “joint employer” standard in the National Labor Relations Act and Fair Labor Standards Act. The reclassification says that employers who had “indirect” control over the terms and conditions of someone’s employment, or even if just the employer had the authority to exercise indirect control, but never actually did so, had to be classified as a “joint employer.” This resulted in uncertainty and confusion for many businesses—especially franchisors and subcontractors—about whose responsibility it was to resolve work condition issues, wage disputes, or other similar labor issues, and what business opportunities would be available in the future. Labeling an employer as a “joint employer” led small franchise owners to sacrifice the autonomy to run their own business. Homebuilders, whose business relies on contracting, were limited in what subcontractors they could hire because being labeled as “joint employers” with their subcontractors increased their costs and liability.
This should never have been the NLRB’s decision to make. If the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act needs to be revisited or changed, that is a job for Congress—not the unelected NLRB. That is why I was proud to be a cosponsor and support H.R. 3441, the “Save Local Business Act,” as it passed the House this week. H.R. 3441 provides much needed clarity to the businesses in our community by restoring the decades-old standard that an employer must have “direct and actual control” over employees to be considered a “joint employer.” This will allow our small businesses to have the autonomy and freedom to run their business as they see fit and encourage large companies to work with them by not shouldering them with extra costs and liability. You can always count on me to do anything to empower our local employers to continue to do business and provide jobs to the people of the Georgia Seventh District.
- The Hill. House passes bill to overturn controversial joint-employer ruling
- Reuters. House passes bill to narrow joint employment under FLSA and NLRA
At the beginning of this Congress, the House took bold steps to tear down federal regulations and cut bureaucratic red tape, thereby allowing the rule making process to be more transparent and creating an environment for American businesses and workers to thrive. Having taken steps to address the effects federal agencies have on our economy, we are now working to address how these federal agencies are structured themselves. In fact, the process has already been begun through landmark legislation now signed into law to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) through the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. The VA, historically plagued by delays and inflated bureaucracy, is now on an empowered path where removing poor performing employees and protecting workers who reveal misconduct and negligence at the agency are celebrated.
The question now is, “How do we scale up these best practices to other branches of the federal government?” My colleagues and I have asked that question of federal agency heads across government, and we are soliciting their feedback on what legislative solutions they believe can improve efficiency and accountability at their agencies. As you know, the President has asked true leaders and business professionals to lead these agencies, and we are soliciting their feedback about the tools they need to truly reform their agencies. The House is committed to targeting not only the symptoms of big government, but also the problem of big government itself. I look forward to hearing back from these agency heads and partnering with them to implement solutions and create a more effective federal government.
I proudly joined my colleagues in supporting H.R. 2201, the “Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act,” last week because the bill will make it easier for small companies to raise much needed capital. Our small businesses and entrepreneurs are the driving force in our economy, but unfortunately, they often find themselves at a disadvantage to their larger competitors when it comes to accessing and securing financial capital. That’s because the current federal law – which was written to ensure that large public companies didn’t take advantage of investors – places a disproportionate burden on small companies when they attempt to raise capital through non-public offerings.
H.R. 2201 provides a bright line, safe harbor for small businesses by clearly defining what constitutes a non-public offering. This common-sense, technical change will provide our small businesses with both confidence and clear guidelines so that they can operate confidently within the confines of the law and seek capital without fear of not being in compliance, so long as all of the following requirements are met: 1) each investor has a substantive pre-existing relationship with an officer, director, or shareholder of the issuer; 2) there are 35 or fewer purchasers of securities from the issuer that are sold in reliance on the applicable exemption over a 12 month period; and 3) the amount of securities sold by the issuer does not exceed $500,000 over a 12 month period. Additionally, this bill ensures that the non-public offering exemption is unavailable to those who have been disqualified under the law’s current “bad actor” disqualification standard. I hope you will join me in urging the Senate to quickly take up and pass this bill so that we can bring small businesses relief from the obstacles that are imposed on them by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- CrowdFund Insider. Micro-Offering Exemption Passes House of Representatives, Next Up the Senate
This week the House is going to consider and pass H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” After years of hearings on various aspects of our income tax code, and after a week of committee consideration where dozens of amendments were thoughtfully debated and voted on, I’m so proud that we’re going to keep our promise to the American people and move pro-growth tax reform across the House floor. Together, we can make this first step of tax reform a reality!
The House is also moving ahead with consideration of the joint House-Senate Conference Report for the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill is a success story. A defense authorization act is required every year, and unlike so make deadlines that slip or are ignored in government, Congress has come together to authorize support and funding for our troops absolutely every year for decades. The FY18 bill sets our nation’s defense policy priorities for the upcoming year, and given the dangerous world in which we live, doing this is a collaborative, nonpartisan, bicameral way has never been more important.
Member of Congress