Washington Watch - 11/18/19
Last Thursday, the House Budget Committee hosted Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to share his view on the nation’s economic outlook, and if you’ve been following my newsletter section about the monthly jobs reports you won’t be surprised to learn that he believes it’s positive. Most notably, Chairman Powell called our continued economic growth “sustainable,” given the absence of boom industries that could threaten to bust, the high consumer confidence that’s driving 70% of our economy, our record low unemployment, and an increase in wages, especially for low- and middle-income earners. Chairman Powell also added that the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would be very constructive for the economy by reducing trade uncertainty, echoing sentiments that I’ve shared with you all since the deal had been announced.
During my time with Chairman Powell, I had the opportunity to question him about our growing debt and more. Click on the photo below to watch our exchange at the hearing.
Rep. Woodall questions Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during the House Budget Committee hearing
- The Wall Street Journal. Powell Signals Optimism on Economy but Cites Trade Uncertainties
- Reuters. Fed's Powell: No 'booming' in U.S. economy that threatens to go bust
Last week, the House voted to extend the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, of which I am a member, through 2020. This additional time allows for our Committee to continue its work—recommending much-needed improvements to the House’s operations.
With more than 29 recommendations thus far and more to come, the Select Committee has already proved capable of producing bipartisan solutions in a variety of different areas that hamper the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of our chamber. For example, we have advised Congress to streamline the bill-writing process in order to save time and limit mistakes. We have also asked Congress to implement new tools that allow Americans to more easily follow legislation, find out who is lobbying Congress, and check how members voted on the floor. I look forward to continuing this momentum and devising new ways for the House of Representatives to better serve the American people.
Upon returning home after courageously serving our country, veterans and their families are faced with the daunting task of transitioning into civilian life and workplaces. The good news for these men and women is that the Department of Defense offers programs to ensure servicemembers and their families have a smooth transition. For those servicemembers with an entrepreneurial drive and who want to create jobs in their communities, the good news is that some of the resources available to them are offered in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs found that there are more than 379,000 veteran owned employer businesses across the United States. In Georgia, veteran owned businesses make up nearly ten percent of business in the state. Moreover, the SBA has determined that these veteran-owned companies employ more than 4 million workers across the U.S. Given their proven record to create jobs and boost our economy, I was pleased to support several bills last week on the House floor that continue to allow service members the opportunity to access these critical resources to help them fulfill their dreams of owning their own business. You can read more about each out those bills below, and I hope you will join me in encouraging the Senate to take them up and pass them in a timely manner.
- H.R. 499, the “Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Continuation Act” was sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and would correct a discrepancy between the Department of Veteran Affairs and the SBA to establish uniformity and provide certainty to the surviving spouses of our servicemembers trying to maintain service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) contracting status.
- H.R. 3537, the “Veteran Entrepreneur Training Act of 2019” was sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-CO) and would codify the Boots to Business (B2B) program for the next five years. The B2B program is an entrepreneurial education and training program that offers servicemembers and military spouses information about self-employment and the foundational knowledge to develop a business plan.
- H.R. 3734, the “SERV Act, as amended,” was sponsored by Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) and would require the SBA Administrator to submit a report on certain veteran related activities and outreach strategies as part of its Congressional Budget justification, as well as require the GAO to report on access to credit for veteran owned small business.
- H.R. 1615, the “VA-SBA Act,” sponsored by Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) would transfer the responsibility for maintaining the veteran-owned small businesses database from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the SBA.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, the House began holding public impeachment hearings this past week, and the hearings went much as you would have imagined. The Speaker of the House and Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (Intel Committee) reiterated their belief that their understanding of President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine constituted “bribery” and stated that the Committee’s witnesses had verified all their worst accusations. Republicans on the Intel Committee refuted those conclusions, of course, and made the point that we learned nothing new from the witnesses, that the witnesses had only second-hand information to present, and that there was no “smoking gun” evidence of any “quid pro quo” or “bribery.” And as you’ve also probably imagined, the hearings were less an exercise in fact-finding and more an exercise in partisan sideshows. This sentiment was echoed in my interview with Fox Business’ Stuart Varney. You can watch our interview by clicking on the picture below.
Rep. Woodall joins Stuart Varney from the Longworth House Office Building on the first day of impeachment hearings
As I’ve said before, impeaching a president is a grave matter, and we should go about the process with thoughtful fairness and seriousness. If you watched any part of the hearings, however, you would have seen that there was very little fairness or seriousness. The circus-like atmosphere is one where many members seemed more intent on producing soundbites and internet memes than finding first-hand witnesses to corroborate or exonerate any of the President’s or the Democrats’ claims. That’s a shame. The Intel Committee is where we go to investigate our most important national security issues. It’s normally a place where partisanship is put aside in favor of protecting America. Unfortunately, Chairman Schiff has encouraged the circus first by creating a false narrative and then by shutting down legitimate inquiry. Click on the image below to watch my reaction to the first day of impeachment hearings.
After the first day of impeachment hearings, Rep. Woodall discusses his reaction with Charles Payne
101 years ago, this past Monday, World War I ended, and every November 11th since we have taken the time to celebrate and honor our veterans. It is only natural that last week, the week of Veterans Day, the House took the time to celebrate our veterans the best way it can: by passing legislation that directly affects the lives of our veterans and their families for the better. This is an issue I hear about almost every day, not just around Veterans Day:
Charles from Cumming:
I’m writing on behalf of veteran and military supporters all over the country. Veterans and active-duty service members have sacrificed so much to defend the nation, and we need to join them in that fight here at home. I support our veterans and their calls for expanded access to quality healthcare, a strong national defense and responsible spending in Washington. I hope you’ll join us in ensuring veterans get the care they deserve and keeping America safe from harm!
Rheagan from Lawrenceville:
Being a part of a military family of many generations, I have witnessed the trials first hand that veterans go through upon returning from a tour. Struggles no veteran, I believe, should have to go through. Settling back into civilian life can be an impossible ordeal, shown with the statistic of 37,800 homeless veterans in the U.S. on any given night. Also, the Bureau of Labor states that there were around 490,000 veterans unemployed in 2015. A beneficial change would be creating a rehab program to assist unemployed veterans struggling to find a job. This would mean creating a community for veterans to reside to upon returning, possibly locating it around a VA hospital. Along with the stability of a place to live, it would have mentors to help with the job finding process. Hopefully the above rehab idea, along with your help, can jump start a future towards assisting veterans by not only allowing them to return with a plan, but with more safety and ease then the otherwise would. Thank you in advance for your time.
The issues that Charles and Rheagan wrote to me about are the real and important issues that I want to tackle during my time in Congress. You may not have heard about it—considering what we all see on the news lately—but the House actually did pass nine bills this past week that will help our veterans and their families who have served America so faithfully. Among those bills was H.R. 4477, the “Reducing High Risk to Veterans and Veterans Services.” This bill requires the Secretary of the VA to create a plan to address healthcare programs at the VA that have a high risk of waste, abuse, and mismanagement to make those programs more efficient and ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve. There was also H.R. 4625, the “Protect the GI Bill Act,” to make it easier for veterans and servicemembers to use educational benefits and become employed once they’ve left the military. This could help reduce the number of unemployed veterans that Rheagan cited.
Those are just two bills, both of which passed by a voice vote with no opposition. These are the kind of bipartisan pursuits the House should be focusing its efforts on. Let us celebrate the things that bring us together and do better on behalf of the American people. This is the example I hope the House to follow moving forward.
Back in September, I congratulated Gwinnett County’s 139 “Teachers of the Year” and said that one of these amazing educators would be chosen on November 14th to stand alone as the one and only “Teacher of the Year.” Last week, Rebecca Carlisle, an AP World History teacher at North Gwinnett High School, received this honor. Ms. Carlisle goes above and beyond for her students. Apart from teaching history, she has sponsored multiple clubs, coached cheerleading, and spearheaded various community service initiatives for local families in need.
I hope you will all join me in congratulating Ms. Carlisle on this achievement. Her dedication to public service is admirable, and I wish her nothing but continued success moving forward.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. North Gwinnett High School's Rebecca Carlisle named GCPS' 2020 Teacher of the Year
Our local farmers in Georgia and across the country take a great risk and work tremendously hard to maintain our country’s food security. Last week, Jared Floyd and his family were selected as the Farm Family of the Year for Forsyth County, an annual honor dating back to the 1960s. This farm has been in Floyd’s family for seven generations, and for over twenty years, Mr. Floyd has been farming cattle and hay.
I would like to offer my sincerest congratulations to the Floyd family. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed, and I thank you for your contributions to our local community here in the 7th District.
- Forsyth County News. 7th generation farmer selected as 2019 Farm Family of the Year for Forsyth County
As the House enters its last DC work week before the annual Thanksgiving holiday, we’re unfortunately still tackling an issue that should have been dealt with months ago: FY20 Appropriations. Though the Fiscal Year started on October 1st, the federal government is still functioning under the auspices of a Continuing Resolution (CR). And even though we’ve known for months that the current CR runs out this Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been unable to come to any deal on a long-term appropriations package with her counterparts in the Senate. So, this week, we’ll have to fall back on another short-term CR through December 20th, at which date, I unfortunately expect that we’ll be talking about a third CR for the year. I had hoped that Speaker Pelosi could have worked with the Senate and the White House to forge a long-term deal, as House Republicans did last year, but that hasn’t been the case. I hope that my expectations for December are wrong and that we’ll have a real appropriations package to vote on soon.
In addition to the CR, the House will vote on H.R. 1309. The measure is meant to ensure that workers in the healthcare and social services industries are protected from workplace violence by requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue new regulations in this area. Workers in these industries are particularly vulnerable to violence from folks who are in a behavioral or mental health crisis, and every member wants to ensure that we’re doing the best we can to protect those frontline healthcare workers. While there are some concerns about how this bill might be implemented and whether it makes the most sense to supplant the normal OSHA rulemaking process, I certainly believe that the proponents of the bill have American workers’ best interests at heart, and I am glad that we’re finally moving a bill that has bipartisan support.
Member of Congress