Washington Watch - 1/17/17
This week America will celebrate our 58th Presidential Inauguration. While the limited number of tickets available to view the Inauguration have all been promised to our friends and neighbors from the 7th District, you can view the Inauguration from the National Mall on giant television screens without a ticket, if your family wants to be present. Additionally, my office is hosting an Inauguration Day reception in Room 2045 of the Rayburn House Office Building directly across the street from the U.S. Capitol on January 20th from 8:00am-3:00pm. If you’re going to be in Washington, D.C., and you’d like a warm place to gather for a moment or even to stay and watch the festivities on TV, please RSVP to Laney Copeland on my staff at InaugurationReception.GA07@mail.house.gov with the total number of guests in your group along with each attendee’s full name, address, and phone number by January 6th. While watching from your living room is a powerful experience, watching from the Mall or from the Capitol office buildings is powerful too. If you are thinking of taking your family north for the event, please let me know so that we will have an opportunity to visit.
For more information about the Inauguration, please visit the 58th Presidential Inauguration Committee’s website or call my office at (202) 225-4272.
Last week, Congress began the process of reforming our health care system so that more Americans have access to quality, affordable health care by approving the FY2017 budget resolution and initiating what’s known as the budget reconciliation process. As many of you may recall, budget reconciliation is a budget enforcement tool that allows Congress to move, via a simple majority vote in both chambers, legislation that brings revenue and spending levels in line with policy objectives. The reconciliation instructions included in the FY2017 budget resolution direct certain House and Senate committees to develop legislation to reduce the federal deficit by at least $4 billion by repealing the most damaging parts of Obamacare.
As soon as the specified House and Senate committees complete work on their respective bills, the bills will be packaged together and approved by the House Budget Committee, on which I sit, and sent to the full House for consideration. If approved by the House, the reconciliation bill will move to the Senate where it cannot be filibustered. I look forward to working with my House colleagues in the coming weeks to deliver on our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with a better health care reform bill. As you all have heard me say before, repealing and replacing Obamacare will be a difficult and lengthy process, but if we work together, I’m confident that we can advance positive solutions and create a health care system in America that is second to none. I hope that you all will share your thoughts and ideas with me throughout this important debate.
- CNN. House to advance Obamacare repeal
- Politico. House takes major step toward Obamacare repeal
- Washington Post. House votes to begin Obamacare repeal process
On Tuesday, I filed the paperwork to officially add Representative Matt Gaetz (FL-1) as the latest cosponsor of H.R. 25, the FairTax. Representative Gaetz, a freshman member of Congress, was elected in November 2016 and understands what we understand – the American people are calling for transformational tax reform that will ignite America’s economy and lift the ceiling of economic opportunity for families across the nation. I’m proud to have his support and will continue working to grow our momentum for historic tax reform in the coming weeks.
If you’ve ever been on hold with the IRS, used a website of a federal agency, or tried to make an appointment with the VA, you are familiar with how desperate the federal government is to update and modernize our technological capabilities. With my support, the House again passed H.R. 39, the “TALENT Act” on Tuesday to make permanent the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) Program. Under the PIF program, experts in the private sector are invited to serve in executive agencies from six months to two years to improve technology and develop innovative techniques to address the technological challenges we face. I am always blown away by the ingenuity of the private sector tech firms in our district and university students right here in Georgia, and I am eager to have their minds contribute to the service of their fellow Americans.
In that vein, I want to highlight a bill I cosponsored that passed the House this week, H.R. 321, the “INSPIRE Women Act.” We all know that bolstering our nation’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce with highly educated students is good for America. The bill calls on NASA to develop a plan for facilitating and supporting retired astronauts, scientists, and engineers to engage with K-12 female students to inspire them to consider making a STEM field their career of choice. Why focus on young women? Because there are more women enrolled as undergraduates at four-year colleges in the United States than men, and that’s at a time when we have more Americans going to college than ever before. Unfortunately, only 25 percent of our STEM workforce is made-up of women. Clearly, we have talented women in colleges and universities across the country, and getting them interested and involved in STEM education is going to be good for America.
As you saw with the TALENT Act, our nation is in dire need of highly-educated and qualified technology experts. We are being hacked by foreign governments. Our military needs advanced weapons and training systems. Our economy needs innovative ways to boost manufacturing and trade. Our scientists need to discover new cures for deadly diseases. And the INSPIRE Women Act is a fantastic way for our nation to grow those innovators right here at home.
- Prince William Living. Bipartisan INSPIRE Women Act passes House
In just the second week of the 115th Congress, the House has passed its third measure to curtail overly-burdensome federal regulations, H.R. 5, the “Regulatory Accountability Act.” While the bills passed last week largely scale back the overreach of the Obama Administration, H.R. 5 combines six bills passed last Congress which serve as guidelines for federal agency rule-making authority moving forward, and it will ensure that Washington bureaucrats are listening if and when the American people offer new facts, ideas, and alternative regulatory approaches. I agree with my colleagues that these are the kinds of reforms that will make America more competitive in the global economy, and my hope is that the Senate quickly passes H.R. 5 and the other regulatory relief measures the House has already approved this year so that they can be waiting on President-elect Trump’s desk once he is sworn into office.
On Friday, the House joined the Senate in passing S. 84, which waives the 7-year statutory waiting period for retired Marine General James Mattis to be eligible for confirmation as our nation’s next Secretary of Defense. The principle of civilian control of the military comes directly from our Founding Fathers, and that’s why waiving the prohibition on former military members being in charge of the Defense Department is such a major issue. The Constitution subordinates the military to our elected officials in the Legislative and Executive Branches, and that’s the way it should be. In fact, George Washington himself made it clear to all of us that the military was never meant to be more powerful than the elected representatives of the people.
If you’ve ever visited the U.S. Capitol, you might remember seeing a painting in the Rotunda that depicts one of the most important scenes in early American life. On December 23, 1783, the most powerful man in America – General George Washington – appeared in the Maryland State House in Annapolis to resign his commission as Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army to the Continental Congress. Scholars have long treated this humble act as one of the most significant in our nation’s history and a watershed moment in firmly establishing civilian authority over the military.
Like so many of you, I reverently uphold the values of our Constitution and the wisdom of George Washington, and I absolutely believe that this type of waiver is one that should never become common-place. We’ve only waived the “cooling off” period once in our history, and that’s as it should be. Mr. Mattis is exceptionally well-qualified to lead our Defense Department, and his unique talents are the reason that S. 84 passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. While I look forward to working with Mr. Mattis as our nation continues fighting terrorism abroad, I will certainly remember this once-in-a-generation waiver as being an anomaly, and I remain committed to supporting civilian military control in the future.
- Politico. House passes Mattis waiver
- The Hill. House passes Mattis waiver, setting up quick confirmation
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