Washington Watch - 1/25/16
Largely in response to the terrorist attacks last year in Paris, Congress passed a bill – which the President signed into law – prohibiting individuals who are citizens of one of the 38 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries from participating in the program should they also have dual citizenship with Iran or have visited Iran, Syria, Sudan, or Iraq. This security-related measure was meant to ensure that ISIS sympathizers and others who want to do us harm were not taking advantage of our nation’s good will. This is common sense, and it was overwhelmingly supported in the House of Representatives. In fact, more than 400 of my colleagues supported the bill; and President Obama signed it into law.
Last week, however, President Obama looked at this new bipartisan law and unilaterally decided to ignore the law. He directed that the State Department create a special exemption for people who traveled to Iran for “legitimate business-related purposes” following the adoption of the Obama/Iran nuclear deal.
My colleagues in the House who were the chief negotiators with the White House when crafting the VWP reform bill had expressed their concerns about the Administration’s suggestion that it might ignore the law back in December, but hope springs eternal that an oath to "faithfully execute the laws" might be followed. The Supreme Court this year is taking up the issue of "faithfully execute the law" for yet another instance of the Administration ignoring the law, but I will be working with my colleagues in the House on both sides of the aisle to restore the original intent of the VWP reform bill and hold the President accountable for his actions.
- The Hill. Feds roll out changes to visa program aimed at stopping terrorists
- Politico. New U.S. visa rules will have some Iran exceptions
- The Hill. GOP explodes in anger as feds create Iran carve-out for visas
In a case that has dragged on for years, a federal judge has once again chastised the Obama Administration for its secrecy and ordered it to turn over important evidence to Congress. In this case, the judge ordered that papers related to the deadly and botched "Fast and Furious" Justice Department gun-running case be provided to Congress. The President promised the American people that his administration would be the most open and transparent in American history. Even the media criticizes the Administration for its closed and secret ways, and yet again, the courts have had to get involved.
- Wall Street Journal. Obama Administration must turn over "Fast and Furious" documents, judge rules
- The Hill. Judge rules against Obama on "Fast and Furious"
- Politico. Judge rejects Obama's executive privilege claim over Fast and Furious records
On Friday I visited with two classes of students in the School of International Business at Meadowcreek High School and talked with a number of student ambassadors who truly represent the best and brightest our community has to offer. What’s interesting about Meadowcreek High School is that students are able to direct their course of study in a more personal manner. The “Meadowcreek U” model allows students to tailor their time in high school to focus more acutely on an area of study that is most interesting to them: communication and arts, health and hospitality, information technology, international business, and science, technology, and engineering.
The students I spoke with all embraced this model as helping them better prepare for college and the workforce and to be more engaged with their fellow students, their teachers, and with learning in general. One young lady on the student ambassador team spoke of her younger brother entering high school this year and how she has encouraged him to work hard and take advantage of all the opportunities at Meadowcreek. “You can be anything you want to be here. It is what you make it,” she said with pride. Another student talked about how serving as peer leader allows her to give back to those who may need a helping hand or encouragement. The examples go on and on, and what makes me so proud of our community is that this clearly represents who we are.
Meadowcreek U is a homegrown idea that spurs our students to want to learn more, stay in school, and go forward with their education. Initiatives like Meadowcreek U illustrate for me the importance of keeping education decisions local and preventing the heavy hand of the federal government from taking over and stifling this kind of creativity. I thank them for having me. Visits like this affirm for me that what you and I are working to achieve in Washington, D.C. - pushing decision making back home - is moving America in the right direction.
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with students and teachers at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross on January 22nd.
Last week, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a field hearing in Riverside, California, examining the problem and finding solutions for homelessness among our nation's veterans. This is the first of two hearings on this issue, with the second one happening in the coming months in Ohio. When a member of our Armed Services returns home, it is incumbent upon us as a nation to ensure that he or she has the support needed to have a home to return to. Too often Congress doesn't work together, but helping our veterans is a non-partisan issue and one that we can all come together to fix.
- Press Enterprise. Homeless Veterans: Hearing in Riverside Looks to Find Solutions
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