Washington Watch - 12/12/16
The House wrapped-up its work for the year last week, and the great news is that we moved to the President’s desk a number of critically important pieces of legislation that will help our nation’s military men and women, repair our water infrastructure, and find cures for cancer and other deadly diseases, to name a few.
On Thursday, the House passed the “Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act,” in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote with 360 members of Congress supporting the final package. The bill protects our access to Lake Lanier and provides a big boost for our ports, which are responsible for more than 25,000 jobs in the Seventh District. What's more, I'm elated to report that the final legislation, which is on its way to the President's desk, includes a section I authored eliminating language inappropriately inserted in the 2014 WRDA bill by Alabama's senator that unfairly usurped the rights of the Florida, Georgia, and Alabama governors to negotiate a solution to the tri-state water conflict. It unnecessarily inserted the federal government into this issue, and removing it from WRDA is the right thing to do.
I’m proud to serve as Georgia’s voice on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where I helped craft the bill, and I’m looking forward to building on this success and continuing to move power out of Washington and into Georgia in the coming year.
- USA Today. House-passed bill strengthens Georgia in water fight with Florida, Alabama
- The Hill. Senate clears water bill with Flint aid, drought relief
Click on the video to watch me speak about the water bill on the House floor
Last week, Congress passed and sent to the President a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend funding for most federal agencies, programs, and services through April 28, 2017. While it was necessary to advance a short-term CR so that the incoming administration has an opportunity to weigh in on FY2017 funding priorities, I hope that this CR is the last one considered by Congress for years to come. Restoring regular order in the annual appropriations process will be a challenge, and though we were unable to fully achieve that goal this year, I’m encouraged by the September passage and enactment of the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which marked the first time since 2009 that a regular appropriations bill was signed into law before the end of the fiscal year. I look forward to building on that small victory for regular order and working with my colleagues and President-elect Trump next year to ensure that CRs are a thing of the past!
- NPR. No government shutdown: Senate passes funding bill after Democrats back down
- Roll Call. Senate averts shutdown with little time to spare
Last week, Congress sent to the President’s desk the 21st Century Cures Act. We’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating that this legislation will bring much needed investment to the National Institutes of the Health and the Food and Drug Administration so that our nation’s scientists can find cures for the deadliest diseases that afflict Americans and then bring those cures to market quickly and efficiently. The bill also revamps our nation’s mental health care system so that it better serves those who need appropriate mental and behavioral health care. Working together – Democrats and Republicans – across the aisle, we will make a real difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors. I look forward to the President signing the 21st Century Cures Act into law.
- U.S. News and World Report. Congress sends medical research bill to Obama
- USA Today. Mental health advocates celebrate passage of 21st Century Cures Act
In addition to passing a major water infrastructure bill, Georgia got more good news last week in our continuing quest to ensure that Georgia’s water resources are being used appropriately and according to the law. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for managing Lake Lanier, announced on Thursday that Georgia’s water supply request will be granted. This will be done through what’s known as a Water Control Manual (WCM), and it represents the first time in more than two decades that the WCM has had a major update. This means that we are one big step closer to ensuring metro Atlanta will have enough water to sustain our rapidly growing population and business developments, and it couldn’t come at a more critical time with Georgia officials working overtime as we speak to fend off legal challenges from Florida and Alabama over this issue. Georgia has long been a model steward in water conservation and reuse, and I’m so pleased that the new WCM will supplement our existing efforts.
- Forsyth County News. Georgia gets good news in new corps water manual
I’m happy to say that the Senate followed the House’s lead last week and approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017. For decades, Congress has been coming together for the good of our nation’s military members to pass this yearly legislation to guide the Pentagon’s plan for our defense.
I’m proud that this bill includes the biggest pay raise for our troops in six years, ensures our service members have the tools they need to defeat any enemy foolish enough to challenge us, and makes certain that America’s military remains the most capable fighting force the world has ever known. This year’s NDAA will ensure that our new Commander-in-Chief and his Secretary of Defense will have all the resources they need to keep Americans safe. I look forward to the President signing this legislation soon.
- Reuters. U.S. Congress passes $618.7 billion annual defense bill
- Bloomberg. Obama gets defense bill prohibiting Guantanamo closure
As you all may know, the U.S. and the European Union are currently negotiating an international agreement on insurance regulation, and the House took action last week on a bill, H.R. 5143, the “Transparent Insurance Standards Act of 2016,” which I hope will provide greater transparency and enhance accountability for these negotiations. H.R. 5143 would create a formalized role for Congressional monitoring of the negotiations and development of international insurance standards, require federal officials to collaborate more closely with state insurance regulators throughout the process, and establish a series of requirements that must be met before federal officials can accept the final standards, among other things. H.R. 5143 was crafted to put other nations on notice that the U.S. intends to lead, rather than be led, in the development of any international insurance standards, and I was pleased to support it.
Member of Congress