Washington Watch - 11/4/19
Last Thursday, the House voted to pass H.Res. 660, a measure to give the six House committees already conducting partisan investigations into President Trump the official approval of the House to continue those investigations. While all Republicans and some Democrats opposed the measure as an unprecedented partisan distortion of historical impeachment procedures, the Democratic majority in the House was strong enough to push the measure through.
While some in the media have portrayed the vote last week as a vote on whether you support or oppose impeachment, that was not the case. The vote was simply on whether you supported or opposed the partisan investigatory process created by the resolution. I do not support that process. The Constitution never envisioned that an impeachment investigation would be a partisan exercise. Impeachment itself stems from an Article I investigation, but a tainted process in the beginning, as we have here, will lead to a tainted product at the end.
Impeaching a president is a grave matter, and every member of the House should want to ensure that the process is fair. The Constitutional responsibility we have in the House is to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch, and while I have no problem with any committee conducting appropriate oversight, I do have concerns when the majority party in the House perverts the process for partisan goal.
Such a position may seem silly—or even self-serving—against the backdrop of partisanship that the media paints for Congress daily, but irrespective of Congress’s daily challenges, setting the rules for an impeachment investigation has always been bipartisan in modern times. If you remember the Nixon process, if you remember Clinton process, you will remember a bipartisan agreement in each case about how a fair investigation should be conducted. This year, not only did we not have a bipartisan agreement, we didn’t even have bipartisan consultation. I serve on the Rules Committee, which creates the rules for the process. Not only were Republicans not consulted, we didn’t even see the proposed rules for the inquiry until 24 hours before the Democrats planned to jam them through.
My colleagues and I offered numerous amendments to try to bring fairness to the process—an amendment to use the rules from Clinton and Nixon, rejected; an amendment to require more than one public hearing, rejected; an amendment to allow President Trump the rights of participation offered to President Clinton, rejected; an amendment to require that exculpatory evidence that the partisan investigations uncover to be revealed, rejected; and much more. Again, not only were Republicans not consulted, but every single amendment that Republicans offered improve the process was rejected on a party-line vote. The anger and contempt coming from the other side is blinding even ordinarily fair-minded Members. It would have been so simple—and indisputably fair—to have adopted the bipartisan investigation rules already utilized in the Nixon and Clinton sagas. House Democrats said no, and now regrettably for all Americans, H. Res. 660 now represents the most formally partisan impeachment investigation in American history.
Regardless of your political affiliation, we should all ask ourselves if the House is conducting this inquiry in an appropriate way. This isn’t supposed to be the Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi vanity show, nor is it supposed to be an all-out competition for who can attack or defend the President most vociferously. All are wrong and beneath the dignity of the House. All fail the obligation placed on each House Member by Article I.
But H.Res. 660 is now the official rulebook for the House investigation into the Trump Administration. H.Res. 660 doesn’t need to go to the Senate or be signed by the President. It became the official rulebook of the House investigation the moment Democrats jammed it through. So, over my objections, and for the first time rejecting all bipartisan input, the stage is set for beginning the third impeachment investigation of a United States president in my lifetime.
As many of you may have seen on the news or heard on the radio, the CEO of the Boeing Company, Dennis Muilenburg, testified on Capitol Hill last week about the company’s flawed 737 Max 8 that was implicated in two international aviation accidents. Mr. Muilenburg appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Space, and Technology on Tuesday and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday. Mr. Muilenburg was accompanied by Mr. John Hamilton, Boeing’s Chief Engineer. As you can imagine, lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill want answers to better understand the chain of events and decisions that resulted in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Moreover, lawmakers on the respective House and Senate Committees are gathering the facts surrounding the accidents to determine whether any legislative solutions exist to ensure that such accidents do not happen again. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We can always do more and do better to improve passenger safety across all modes of transportation. However, we must also ensure that the safety protocols and safeguards we’ve already put in place are being appropriately followed, as well as make certain that the regulations can keep pace with the automated technologies that are present in today’s aircrafts. All in all, I can assure you that Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft will not return to service until their safety can be proven.
I spoke with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business before our hearing to let her know what to expect. Click on the picture below to watch the interview.
Rep. Woodall speaks with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business about the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing about the Boeing 737 Max 8
- NPR. What to Know as Boeing Executives Testify Before Congress
- Washington Post. House committee confronts Boeing CEO with new documents on 737 Max safety
While bipartisan legislative achievements can be few and far between in this Congress, last week, H.R. 1771, the “Divided Families Reunification Act,” took an important step towards being signed into law. You may remember that Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and I introduced H.R. 1771 back in March of this year to help Korean-American families reunite with relatives in North Korea. An estimated 100,000 Korean-Americans have been separated from their loved ones in North Korea for decades, many of whom are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, with little or no opportunity to reconnect. This bill would direct the U.S. State Department to work with South Korean officials to reunite Korean American families with their family members in North Korea, in addition to filling the vacancy in the position of “Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea.”
While North and South Korea have held over 20 reunions for their divided families since 2000, Americans of Korean descent have been excluded. In the past, the House has introduced resolutions to raise awareness of this tragic issue, but H.R. 1771 would actually compel the State Department to seek out solutions to address it and bring closure to these families.
You can learn about this issue and hear the story of families in Korea who have been reunited by watching this CNN video featuring folks who have been directly affected by this issue.
The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics released the October jobs report on Friday, showing 128,000 jobs added to the economy. That’s well above economic estimates that anticipated the number to be less than 100,000. The report also included revisions to the August and September jobs reports, adding a total of 95,000 more jobs over those two months. Even while some continue to warn of an impending economic downturn, the data – and even more importantly, the experience of everyday Americans – proves differently.
Tax reform and deregulatory efforts that have been implemented by Congressional Republicans partnered with the President have shown to be fruitful, and I am hopeful my friends across the aisle will begin to recognize that fact. With phase one of a U.S.-China trade deal on its way and USMCA pending in the House, the time is now for us to come together and continue to propel the American economy forward.
- The Hill. Economy adds 128K jobs in October, exceeding expectations
- Reuters. Phase one trade deal with China is in good shape: U.S. Commerce Secretary
- AJC. Opinion: Key trade bill should be brought up for vote
I often hear from folks back home who are frustrated with the operations of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Here is what I have heard from some of you on this issue.
Lori from Sugar Hill:
As your constituent, I am writing to ask you to support H.R. 2382, the USPS Fairness Act. The act would repeal the awful mandate on the USPS to prefund retiree health care benefits for 75 years into the future. It is unnecessary and is draining the Postal Service's funds, limiting their ability to innovate and expand services.
Jay from Loganville:
Will there ever come a time when the U.S. government will no longer protect the USPS and allow competition from the private sector?
The USPS is unique in that it is largely self-financed and operates separately from the federal government. That said, the concerns that Lori and Jay have raised demonstrate how it is clear that the USPS can – and must – do better. Americans deserve to have access to an efficient and fiscally responsible mail delivery system, and with the USPS operating at significant financial loss for over a decade, the USPS is unfortunately not living up to that ideal. I think we can all agree that the Postal Service is in need of modernization and reform, and it is important that we look for ways to improve its services so that the USPS can better serve its patrons.
As Lori mentioned, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who I serve alongside on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has proposed one such solution in H.R. 2382. While I applaud his efforts to address those challenges that have been exacerbated by the federal mandate that requires USPS to pre-fund current employees' future retirement health benefits, H.R. 2382 would simply repeal the pre-funding mandate without any fiscally responsible replacement. I agree that the pre-funding mandate could stand to be adjusted, but this bill is a short-sighted solution that won’t address any of the original problems that the pre-funding mandate was created to solve.
The good news is that optimizing the USPS’s services and rightsizing its mission has bipartisan support, including from the Trump Administration. In fact, President Trump issued an Executive Order on the Task Force on the United States Postal System to evaluate the operations and finances of the USPS and to develop recommendations for administrative and legislative reforms that will enable the USPS to create a sustainable business model without shifting additional costs to taxpayers. And late last year, that task force issued its report. I hope that my colleagues in Congress and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will take a serious look at their suggestions and move forward those ideas that will ensure the hardworking men and women at USPS are best positioned to serve the American people.
Last week I went to the House floor to recognize the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ National Principal of the Year—Georgia’s very own Kerensa Wing from Collins Hill High School. Ms. Wing was selected out of 90,000 public school principals from across our nation, yet this prestigious recognition comes as no surprise. Ms. Wing’s distinguished leadership and passion for her students is unmatched. During her tenure as principal, she has helped raise students’ state test scores while both innovating the academic curriculum and encouraging entrepreneurship and creativity.
I want to again offer my sincerest congratulations to Ms. Wing. Dedicated educators like her make incredible contributions to our community and make the 7th District a better place to live.
Rep. Woodall honors Principal Wing on the House floor
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Rep. Rob Woodall recognizes Collins Hill Principal Kerensa Wing for being named nation's top principal
Here in the 7th District, we are protected by outstanding first responders. Last week, one of these brave public servants, Division Chief Jason Shivers of the Forsyth Fire Department, was recognized for completing the Executive Fire Officer Program. This program provides advanced training for senior fire officers so they can better handle the difficult and unique problems that arise in our communities. In the over 30 years the program has existed, less than 4,400 firefighters have earned this distinction, and only 78 of them are here in Georgia.
I hope you will all join me in congratulating Mr. Shivers on this notable achievement. His hard work and dedication to professional development is admirable and will go a long way in keeping our community safe during crisis.
- Forsyth County News. Forsyth County Fire Department division chief honored after 4-year program
Member of Congress