Washington Watch - 12/21/15
CONGRESS NOTCHES CONSERVATIVE WINS IN GOVERNMENT FUNDING BILL
I’ve said it many times before, but it bears repeating, governing is about making choices and prioritizing Americas’ many competing needs and desires. Some voted on the recent Omnibus appropriations bill based on what isn’t in the bill; I voted based on what is in the bill. This bill keeps the government functioning, and it puts real conservative priorities into law. From our national security to our national economy, this bill moved into law priorities that have been elusive for years.
It contains no new funding for Obamacare, and it prohibits funding for the Risk Corridor Program. It maintains all our existing pro-life riders and prohibits discrimination against health providers who refuse to provide or refer women for abortions. It protects our 2nd Amendment rights and prohibits any funds from being used to implement the UN Arms Trade Treaty. It includes the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, so that nobody who has travelled to Syria can come into the U.S. without appropriate screening. It delays two Obamacare taxes that will harm American families and forces all Obamacare health plans to disclose whether they provide abortions. It prohibits the White House from ordering reviews of tax-exempt status. It stops the EPA from implementing costly and unnecessary greenhouse gas regulations on farmers, and much more. It is true that I didn’t get everything I wanted in this bill, but in my two terms as your representative, I don’t think I’ve ever voted on a bill that contained 100% everything that I wanted.
Now that we have FY16 funding behind us, we need to move forward with passing individual appropriations bills for FY17, and hopefully, convincing Senate Democrats to work with us in passing those individual bills into law. Mega bills like this one dilute Americans' opportunity to affect the governing process, and this is wrong. We moved the needle a little bit in the right direction this year, and hopefully, next year we will convince Senate Democrats to work with us in passing those individual bills into law and giving Americans a better opportunity to lead America.
- Woodall. House clears FY2016 appropriations bill
- NBC News. House overwhelmingly passes trillion dollar spending bill
- Roll Call. House passes omnibus
- The Hill. Senate sends deal to Obama
CONGRESS PASSES, PRESIDENT SIGNS, FUNDING BILL TOTALING LEVELS LOWER THAN THOSE IN 2008 AND THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
Many of you are rightly concerned about how much of your hard-earned money Washington is spending. The good news is that the Omnibus bill – while spending more than I would like – still spends less than we did in 2008 under a Republican president. In 2008, we spent $1.18 trillion on discretionary appropriations. For FY16, that number is down to $1.15 trillion. I know a $30 billion cut may not sound like a lot, but $30 billion is roughly the entire budget of the Department of the Interior. Though everything has gotten more expensive in the past 8 years, we’ve managed to save the American taxpayer the cost of an entire Federal agency! That is real fiscally conservative progress for America.
IN A DANGEROUS WORLD, CONGRESS PRIORITIZES FUNDS FOR TROOPS AND NATIONAL SECURITY
Keeping Americans safe by providing for our national defense is the most important duty of the federal government, and the Omnibus bill goes a long way to fulfilling that commitment. The bill funds our national defense and gives the military the resources that it needs to protect our country. For those of you who have been concerned about dwindling Pentagon budgets in the past few years and the possible effects of sequestration on our Armed Services’ ability to get the job done abroad, this Omnibus bill is a welcome sight. It provides $573 billion for defense operations, $58.6 billion for special overseas operations funding, and $163 billion for veterans services so that we maintain our commitment to providing for our veterans when they return from war.
- Military Times. Budget deal nails down fiscal 2016 spending for DOD, VA
BILLIONS IN ECONOMIC GROWTH, ONE MILLION JOBS, FROM FIRST LEGAL OIL EXPORTS SINCE 1970s
The Omnibus bill repeals the Carter-era ban on crude oil exports that are stifling job growth and economic opportunity for hard-working Americans. In the 1970s, Congress enacted the oil export ban in response to the Arab oil embargo out of fear that the embargo would leave the United States without an essential resource. Fortunately, we are in a very different position today. We have tremendous oil resources in the U.S., and lifting the ban means that we can influence the price of oil on the worldwide market, create jobs at home, and create up to 1 million additional jobs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office even estimates that lifting the ban will reduce gasoline prices by 5-10 cents per gallon. Every penny that gas prices fall is the equivalent of a $1 billion tax cut for families. All of this adds up to be great news for hard-working Americans!
- Wall Street Journal. Congress seen likely to lift U.S. oil-export ban
- American Journal of Transportation. U.S. crude oil export no longer banned
BRINGING CERTAINTY TO AMERICAN FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES
Last week, I joined more than 300 of my colleagues in supporting the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act,” a bill that will prevent an immediate tax increase on Americans and bring predictability and certainty to our tax code. For years now, Congress has waited until December to decide whether or not to provide retroactive extensions for more than 50 temporary tax breaks on which hard-working Americans and their businesses have come to depend, and I was pleased to support a bill that works to end that detrimental cycle. The PATH Act provides permanent extensions for about half of those temporary tax provisions and extends several more for five years and two years, respectively. Going forward, Americans and businesses will not be forced to put off purchases or wait to make charitable gifts and investments until Congress decides to act, and that’s a big win for American taxpayers and the U.S. economy.
- Woodall. Providing certainty for America’s working families and businesses
- Peach Pundit. House passes tax extenders bill; onto the omnibus
- The Hill. House approves tax plan
- Reuters. U.S. House backs permanent tax breaks
HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE WORKING TO KEEP AMERICA SAFE FROM TERRORISTS
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held an important hearing last Thursday entitled “Terrorist Travel: Vetting for National Security Concerns.” The purpose of the hearing was to review the screening process that foreign nationals go through before entering the U.S. and to assess the likelihood and ability of foreign nationals to exploit any loopholes or vulnerabilities in our immigration system. I’m pleased that the committee is taking a serious look at this issue so that we can ensure Americans are safe while also remaining the beacon of freedom for those peaceful refugees around the world who long to be free and safe in America.
This week, billions of people around the world will gather with their families and friends to celebrate Christmas. Some of those celebrations will be religious, some will be secular, but my prayer for all of them is that they will be filled with love and laughter. I know that after a very long year in Washington, D.C., I’m excited to spend a few days with my family back home in Georgia, and I’m sure you feel the same. The older I get, the more I’m reminded that time really does fly – it feels like we just celebrated the start of 2015 – and that we need to take a moment to reflect on how truly blessed we are to be living in this great country where we are free to commemorate our holidays in whatever way we wish.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Member of Congress