Washington Watch - 2/8/16
Last week, the House fulfilled one of its Constitutional duties by taking a vote to override President Obama’s veto of H.R. 3762, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act.” While the House was not successful in overriding the veto, we have succeeded in forging a clear path to repealing Obamacare with fewer than 60 votes in the Senate and with a different President in the White House.
Repealing and replacing this harmful law is the ultimate goal, and we will continue working every day until we get there. In the meantime, I am proud of the work we have done to hold President Obama accountable for the failures of this law. Last week, final briefs were due in House v. Burwell, the lawsuit filing by the House against this Administration for the Department of Health and Human Services' and Treasury Department's improper payment of more than $5 billion to insurance companies. This is one of the myriad efforts by the House to hold this Administration accountable and root out this misguided legislation.
- USA Today. House fails to override President’s veto of Obamacare repeal
- The Hill. House fails to override Obamacare veto
We always see headlines when Democrats and Republicans are at odds, so I want to highlight for you an issue on which we all agree: disrupting terrorism financing. The House Financial Services Committee’s Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing held a hearing last Wednesday that focused on how criminals could be using the existing international trade framework to launder money and finance terrorism. Criminal justice experts were on-hand to brief the task force’s members and to highlight how complex the money laundering schemes are and how dangerous they may be to our collective pursuit of international peace and an end to terrorism across the world. This is probably an issue that you’ve never thought about before, and that’s why I’m so pleased that the House is working across the aisle to bring the issue to light and to develop ways for our government to combat the scourge of terrorism financing.
CLICK HERE to read more background about this critically important issue.
Las week, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing with witnesses from the major immigration agencies within the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the continuing challenge of appropriately screening and vetting our refugee and visa programs. All Americans agree that our nation should be a beacon of hope for people who are persecuted and who are longing for an opportunity to be free, work hard, and give their children a better future. In our quest to provide immigrants with that opportunity – an opportunity that so many of our own families were given at one point – we must also ensure that we are keeping out those who would use our generosity against us and who want to come here to do us harm. The Homeland Security Committee is working together on both sides of the aisle and with the Administration to introduce legislation that will further strengthen our visa security screening capabilities to deny terrorists entry into America.
- RealClearPolitics. Lawmakers urge social media monitoring of refugees
Last Wednesday, the House Budget Committee held a hearing on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) recently published Budget and Economic Outlook report. As many of you know, this annual report provides Congress with spending, revenue, and economic growth projections that are based on current federal policies, such spending authorizations for federal programs and tax laws. My colleagues and I on the House Budget Committee use the report’s projections to craft annual budget resolutions.
As always, finding a way to balance the federal budget is the goal, and the continued decline in the labor force participation rate and lackluster growth in the U.S. economy have made reaching our goal more difficult in recent years. I used a portion of my speaking time to discuss with CBO Director Keith Hall the kinds of policies we can enact to create more jobs, entice discouraged American job seekers to reenter the labor market, and grow our economy. I invite you to watch a clip of the discussion by clicking on the link below.
Last Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 3662, the “Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act,” by a vote of 246-181. This bill is a common-sense step forward in our relationship with Iran, and it is in direct response to President Obama’s lifting of sanctions. President Obama has argued that this bill would put an end to our nuclear agreement with Iran, and for that reason, he has threatened to veto it. That should be a red flag to all Americans. The President doesn’t want to sign a bill prohibiting terrorist sympathizers from getting millions of dollars in sanctions relief because giving a free pass for past aggression is part of the deal. That’s not a good deal for Americans or for our allies who still question Iran’s motives.
I want our nation to coexist peacefully with Iran, but that peace must be rooted in our joint opposition to terrorism. Any Iranian institution or individual who has supported terrorism or who has financed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or the country’s ballistic missile program should never be allowed to benefit financially. I hope that the Senate will expeditiously pass this bill and send it to the President. Opposing terrorism is simply too important to fall prey to partisanship and legacy building.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Woodall backs congressional oversight of sanctions against terrorism financiers
- Reuters. House passes bill again to restrict Obama lifting Iran sanctions
Last week the House also passed H.R. 766, the “Financial Institution Customer Protection Act,” which prevents federal banking agencies from pressuring private financial institutions to end banking relationships with legally operating business that the Obama Administration considers a “high risk.” Carrying out what has been called “Operation Chokepoint,” the Obama Administration has reportedly deemed businesses that sell tobacco, firearms, ammunition, pharmaceuticals, and more, as “high risk” business that should not have access to traditional banking services. H.R. 766 would put an end to that practice, and I was please to support it.
- The Hill. House passes bill to curb operation choke point
- Bloomberg. House passes bill to shield banks from choke point abuses
Last Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing that you’ve probably seen some news stories about because it included former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the methods and reasoning behind drug price increases, including the role of pharmacy benefit managers and the impediments to timely FDA review of new generic drug applications. It’s admittedly not often that this committee agrees on more than it disagrees, but this hearing was certainly one of those times. Prescription drugs are a lifeline for millions of Americans, and they are the only way that some people can live normal, active lives. Ensuring that the government is doing all that it can to make it easier for drug companies to appropriately price their products and for Americans to afford the drugs that they need are key parts of this Congress’ continued focus on health care reform. We know that the Affordable Care Act hasn’t been able to lower drug prices, so I look forward to working with my colleagues to find ways to do just that.
- Reuters. House committee seeks testimony from ‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli
- Bloomberg Business. Valeant, Turing slammed as Shkreli calls Congress ‘imbeciles’
This week the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is holding an important hearing on the future of the Air Traffic Control system and will likely consider a bill to reauthorize and reform the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Given the aviation industry’s significant economic impact on Georgia, it’s clear to me how important this FAA bill is going to be for our state’s workers and businesses.
The House is expected to vote on a very important bill, H.R. 3442, the “Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act.” This bill requires the Secretary of the Treasury to report to Congress on the historic, current, and projected levels of debt, the drivers and composition of future debt, and how the government will meet its debt obligations should the debt limit be raised. This bill will give us the best information available on how to reduce our debt and how the debt impacts every aspect of our government’s obligations to its citizens. I look forward to passing this bill and sending it to the Senate.
Member of Congress