Washington Watch - 3/13/17
I have heard from so many of you over the past six years that health care reform should be one of Congress’ top priorities, and Congress is listening. Last week, two House committees met to consider and amend the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Their work will be sent this week to the House Budget Committee – on which I’m proud to serve – where we will consider the work of the other committees. After that, the bill will move on to another committee of mine – the House Rules Committee – where we will again debate the bill and consider even more amendments. Finally, by the end of the month, I expect that the House will have a full and robust debate on the House floor.
This open and inclusive process is the opposite of how Obamacare was passed by President Obama and Congress back in 2010. At that time, there was no opportunity to make the bill better or amend it at all. I’m proud that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and all of my colleagues are working through this process in a collaborative manner. President Trump gave his national radio address in support of the House plan on Saturday, but he also made clear that he was open to changes as the bill moves forward. After all, collaboration and consultation is how our American government works best.
- CLICK HERE to learn more about the current version of the AHCA.
- National Review. Conservative repeal and replace is here
- Wall Street Journal. The health bill you've waited for
It is absolutely vital that our nation’s courts are able to adjudicate cases fairly, openly, and efficiently, which is why I was happy to join my House colleagues in supporting legislation that targets the fraud that is plaguing our judicial system. First, we passed H.R. 725, the “Innocent Party Protection Act,” which would prevent litigants from suing an innocent party just so they can choose the venue where the case can be heard. Lawyers should not be able to fraudulently join innocent people and businesses to a case just so the case can be heard in a court that is most likely to provide them with a favorable judgment, and H.R. 725 corrects that issue.
The House also passed, with my support, H.R. 985, the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act.” The bill creates a standard ensuring that all those attached to a class action have been injured to the same extent. Some lawyers have abused class actions by inflating the numbers of people affected as a means to force parties to pay out larger sums that they then use to line their pockets rather than pay those who were actually injured. Ensuring that real victims are properly compensated is the right thing to do.
The House has also taken steps to cut down on frivolous, predatory lawsuits filed by those seeking to extort money from innocent people and businesses. H.R. 720, the “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act,” creates a uniform standard to penalize those who knowingly file false claims and threaten endless litigation to force innocent parties to settle out of court.
Our courts are already mired in backlogs, and it is important that we continue to make changes to combat dishonest lawyers from filing frivolous cases that waste taxpayer money in federal courts, defraud parties for their own interest, and abuse our judicial system.
- The Hill. House passes bill to curb class action lawsuits
- The Hill. House votes to crack down on frivolous lawsuits
- Washington Post. House GOP quietly advances key elements of tort reform
Last week I joined many of my colleagues in sending a letter to House Ways and Means Committee leadership asking that as the tax reform debate moves forward, that they consider the value of tax-exempt municipal bonds to our state and local governments. As you all may know, the majority of our nation’s infrastructure projects, including those for schools, hospitals, roads, and more, are financed by tax-exempt municipal bonds. We’ve seen the value of local bond initiatives right here in our district in recent years, with projects like the widening and improvement of Georgia 400 coming to mind. It’s been my experience that folks are more willing to invest their hard-earned money locally where they are more confident that they will get a dollars’ worth of value in return for a dollars’ worth of investment. The added local control offered by municipal bonds allows state and local governments to avoid having to come to Washington for financing opportunities, many of which come with added red-tape which adds an average of four years to project delivery times. Without question, a decision to alter the current federal tax treatment of municipal bonds should not be made without due consideration, and I was pleased to add the 7th District’s voice to this important conversation.
- CLICK HERE to view the letter.
Whenever possible, I try to begin the day by visiting with young people in schools across the 7th District, and last week I had the chance to join a group of 4th grade students at Patrick Elementary in Buford before flying back to Washington.
You can always count on a renewed perspective when you spend time with the next generation to talk about America’s future – as well as our past. This particular group had been studying social studies, and let me tell you, their expertise showed. They were engaged, knowledgeable, and eager to ask questions. We had a wonderful conversation, and I’m very grateful to Principal Steward and all the teachers and staff who are so committed to cultivating these bright young minds.
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with Patrick Elementary School 4th graders on March 6th
Named after fallen Gwinnett County firefighter Bobby Patrick, this is a school with very close ties to community service. Its importance is an underlying theme throughout the hallways and classrooms, and I can’t think of a better cornerstone around which to build. They build upon it each day at Patrick Elementary; we build upon it in our communities and throughout the 7th District; and we build upon it across America. Irrespective of our differences, it’s a shared value – one of many – that brings us together. As I shared with these students, we certainly don’t always agree in Washington, but there is in fact much more common ground than many might believe. Even where drastic policy differences exist – and there are plenty – the disagreement isn’t about if we should serve our neighbors and fellow Americans, it’s about how we serve them. It is absolutely possible to disagree without being disagreeable, and I’m grateful to represent a community that exemplifies that belief.
Lake Lanier has been in the news quite a bit recently, and it’s almost all good news! Late last year, I was able to pass a law that restored local control of the lake. Subsequently, Georgia earned a significant legal victory in the decades-old water dispute with Florida. The bad news is that I’ve heard from many constituents and from media reports that there has been an increase in theft and unwelcome behavior around docks on the lake. If you’re not a dock owner yourself, you may not realize that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the federal agency that manages the lake, prohibits homeowners from installing security cameras on their own dock! That’s why I wrote to the Corps last week to request a change in this policy, which has not been updated for more than a decade. It’s critical that dock owners and the government work together to ensure the safety of all who enjoy Lake Lanier, and I look forward to working with the new Administration to get it done.
- CLICK HERE to view the letter.
- Forsyth County News. Dock security a rising concern for Lake Lanier residents
- WSB TV. Homeowners living on Lake Lanier concerned about dock thefts
On Tuesday, March 14th, I will be hosting another telephone town hall meeting. There is so much happening in Congress and the Administration this year, I hope that you will be able to take some time to join me in the telephone town hall meeting. I value both the opportunity to share with you and to hear from you, so please join me if you can.
Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Tuesday, March 14
7:30pm – 8:30pm
Dial- In Number: (877) 229-8493
This week the House is expected to approve three critically important bills – H.R. 1259, H.R. 1367, and H.R. 1181 – which help America’s veterans better access the benefits and health care that they have earned.
The House Budget Committee is expected to mark-up the American Health Care Act this week. As a member of the committee, I’m enthusiastic about this opportunity to help Americans chose the type of health plan they want for their families. If you have time to tune in to the Budget Committee’s mark-up on Wednesday, you can do so by clicking here.
Member of Congress