Washington Watch - 2/16/15
On Friday, the House passed H.R. 757, the “North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2016,” and it is now on its way to the President’s desk. The bill received near unanimous support in the House and Senate, and I’m proud to say that Congress is leading the way – along with our allies in Japan and South Korea – on holding rogue states like North Korea accountable.
North Korea is a pariah on the international stage. It has routinely ignored United Nations resolutions. It is a proliferator of nuclear weapons. It is a state where basic human rights are ignored and the rule of law is virtually nonexistent. With its recent nuclear test and missile launch, it is incumbent upon the United States to lead the world against this type of violent behavior.
- Washington Post. Congress sends Obama North Korea sanctions bill
- Fox News. House sends North Korea sanctions bill to president for signature
- ABC News. North Korea missile launch strongly condemned by United Nations Security Council
- The Independent. North Korea rocket launch: Pyongyang faces UN sanctions and a planned new missile defense system
Last week the House passed H.R. 3442, the “Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2015.” As you all may know, the President sent Congress his last ever budget this week. Despite raising taxes by $1.6 trillion, the President’s budget never comes close to balancing...ever! It’s troubling to me that we are $19 trillion in debt, and the President continues to call for more spending. H.R. 3442 requires our next President to send, in advance of a debt limit increase, a report to Congress laying out his plan to reduce the debt and discussing the impact that an increasing debt limit will have on future government spending, among other things. I hope to see the Senate quickly take up and pass H.R. 3442, as I’m eager to see what steps our next President believes we must take to get our fiscal house in order. Any President who continues President Obama's call for America to spend beyond its means owes it to future generations to show them what today’s borrowing will mean for their future.
- Dallas Morning News. U.S. House approves bill requiring debt reduction testimony
- The Hill. House votes to make White House outline debt plan
I encourage you to CLICK ON THE VIDEO below to watch me speak on the House floor in favor of H.R. 3442.
On Thursday, my colleagues and I on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee approved H.R. 4441, the most transformational aviation reauthorization and reform bill since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was created. While our aviation system is arguably the safest in the world, the fact that it relies on WWII-era radar technology has led to countless delays, billions of taxpayer dollars wasted, and an inability to accommodate the projected growth of the U.S. aviation industry. So in this bill, we establish an independent, not-for-profit corporation to provide and modernize air traffic services. This corporation will include a board that represents the systems users, taxpayers, and the public interest to ensure that every voice is heard in the decision-making process. In addition to modernizing our air traffic services, we took another historic step to facilitate innovative unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology. We also included provisions to streamline the FAA’s certification process to ensure that better, safer products can get on your aircraft sooner. You can learn much more about the bill here, and you can read the amendments that were offered here.
For those of you who value transparency and openness in Congress like I do, I want to highlight that the markup of this bill took nearly 10 hours, beginning at 10am and wrapping up just before 8pm. More than 70 amendments were considered, and every member on the committee had an opportunity to propose new ideas and get a fair vote. Many of the amendments passed, and some failed. But the fact is, the entire debate, as well as every vote, was streamed live online in clear public view. The next step for this bill is the House floor, where I expect there will be a number of additional amendments offered as the House completes it work. Whether you support or oppose the final product, this is how business is supposed to be done in Washington.
- Reuters. House panel approves plan to privatize air traffic control
- Washington Post. House Republicans move ahead with plan to shift 38,000 FAA workers
- The Hill. Panel approves plan to spin off air traffic control
- Washington Post. The government should get out of the air traffic control business
The State of Georgia, along with 25 other states, notched a win last week when the Supreme Court decided to temporarily halt the EPA’s power plant rule. This rule, as we’ve talked about before, would increase energy prices for Georgia’s families and limit economic growth. While the rule isn’t formally dead yet, I hope that this stay is a positive sign for Georgia’s future, and that it will spur the President to eventually decide that his power-grabbing executive orders and unlawful agency regulations should be stopped.
- The Hill. Supreme Court blocks Obama’s climate rule for power plants
- New York Times. Supreme Court blocks Obama EPA coal emissions regulation
- Georgia Public Broadcasting. Supreme Court puts White House carbon pollution limits on hold
- Atlanta Journal Constitution. Supreme Court stays EPA climate regulations Georgia helped litigate
I took to the House floor last Friday to highlight how this rule, and the Supreme Court's action against it, is "Exhibit A" in how our current President is ignoring the rule of law and the Constitutional powers of Congress. It saddens me that we can't do what presidents and congresses in the past have done -- work together to solve hard problems -- and instead, we have an environment where disagreement isn't seen as an opportunity to work together to change hearts and minds, but as an obstacle to be avoided and usurped.
Last Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled “From Iraq and Syria to Libya and Beyond: The Evolving ISIL Threat,” which featured testimony from the State Department’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, the Honorable Brett McGurk. While the U.S. and her allies from Europe and the Middle East are trying to support anti-ISIS and anti-Assad forces in Syria, Mr. McGurk made clear in his testimony how ISIS is being helped by the airstrikes being carried out by Russian forces in support of Syrian President Assad. He also expressed concern about the growing influence of ISIS on other terrorist groups around the world, especially Boko Haram in parts of Africa and ISIS affiliates in Libya. Clearly, ISIS is a serious threat to the hope of peace around the world, and while we still haven’t seen a comprehensive strategy from President Obama to defeat ISIS, I’m proud that the House Foreign Affairs Committee is taking the lead in working with the State Department to keep the American people informed about our progress in Syria and Iraq and calling for the President to develop a better counter-ISIS strategy.
- Reuters. Russian airstrikes boost Islamic State in Syria, says U.S. envoy
- The Hill. Obama envoy: 70 percent of Russian strikes don’t hit ISIS
- Rudaw. U.S. envoy says airdrops saved Kobani, urging Kurds to stay united against ISIS
Last week, we lost a giant of the American legal world, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia was a champion of an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, which called on all of us to remain faithful to the original document and eschew the desire to mold the Constitution to fit our own political motives. Instead of reinterpreting the words of our Founding Fathers, Justice Scalia said in an interview with New York Magazine in 2013 that “Words have meaning. And their meaning doesn’t change.”
He thoroughly believed that Congress and the ballot box were the appropriate places to debate our politics and decide what our laws should be; and the Supreme Court was a place to interpret those laws and ensure that they remained in concert with the Constitution. It wasn’t his place as a Supreme Court Justice to decide what laws were wise or unwise, simply to decide whether they were or were not constitutional. He once said that “A lot of stuff that’s stupid is not unconstitutional. I gave a talk once where I said they ought to pass out to all federal judges a stamp, and the stamp says – Stupid But Constitutional.” This is the basic nature of our Constitutional Republic: a Congress that is meant to write the law, a President that is meant to enforce the law, and a Supreme Court that is meant to interpret the law.
Justice Scalia was by all accounts, a man of deep personal faith, a man who loved and supported his family, a friend to his colleagues, and a master of legal thought whose Supreme Court opinions will certainly be missed by millions of Americans.
- New York Times. Antonin Scalia, Justice on the Supreme Court, dies at 79
- USA Today. Supreme Court justices weigh in on Antonin Scalia’s death
Please join me on Thursday, February 18th at 7pm for next Forsyth County town hall meeting. As Congress begins our work on the budget and on all 12 appropriations bills this year, I need your support and input so that I can share the 7th District's values in Washington, D.C.
Forsyth County Town Hall
Thursday, February 18th
7:00PM - 8:00PM
Cumming Regional Readiness Center
100 Aquatic Circle
Cumming, Georgia 30040
Member of Congress