Washington Watch - 3/20/17
Last week the House Budget Committee, on which I sit, became the third House committee to advance the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which represents another step in a multi-step approach of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with patient-centered health care reforms. Before the end of this week, I expect the AHCA will make its way to the House floor for debate and a final passage vote.
As I said, moving the AHCA is one step of many involved in restoring health care markets and choices and making patient-centered care a reality. As you will see in The Week Ahead section at the bottom of the newsletter, the House will consider several additional stand-alone health care reform bills that will complement the many reforms in the AHCA. If you have not done so already, I hope that you will visit www.readthebill.gop to find out more about the AHCA and our multi-step approach to health care reform.
- The Hill. Budget panel advances Obamacare bill with three GOP defections
- The Washington Post. What’s next for the Obamcare replacement bill
Georgia has emerged as a model in transportation policy discussions across the nation. That’s why the Chairman of my Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Representative Bill Shuster (R-PA), invited Georgia’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry to come to Capitol Hill and tell our state’s story. You may have recently noticed new lanes being built, long-neglected roads being resurfaced, and solutions being implemented all across our community to reduce congestion and make getting around town a little less frustrating. That’s exactly why I helped author the FAST Act, which is going to deliver almost $7 billion for transportation projects in Georgia over the next several years, and I am so glad to see that legislation working in conjunction with a number of state and local solutions to improve our quality of life. I appreciate Commissioner McMurry making the trip to Washington to tout our strong federal, state, and local partnerships and demonstrate what we can achieve when we work together to make a difference.
Last week in the House we passed three bills aimed at improving the lives of American veterans that were crafted by listening to their concerns. We’ve heard that a number of veterans were having their Second Amendment rights revoked due to unrelated VA processes. For instance, if it is determined that a veteran needs a fiduciary to help manage his or her benefits, the FBI could strip that veteran of the right to purchase or own a firearm—even when the veteran poses no threat to anyone. The bill we passed, H.R. 1181, ensures that this policy will only apply to individuals who are legitimate threats to themselves or others, and even then, only after the individual in question has an opportunity to make his or her case before a judge or magistrate. As the bill’s author noted, we should not force our veterans to choose between the benefits they’ve earned and the constitutional rights they have sacrificed so much to protect. Two other important bills, H.R. 1259 and H.R. 1367, are designed to improve the VA’s service to our veterans. These bills will make it easier to fire the bad employees at the VA, reward the good employees, and make sure we are recruiting the best and brightest to serve our nation’s veterans for many years to come.
The early days of this new Administration have been focused on streamlining and fixing the many bloated and broken Federal agencies. I am very excited to see the House embrace this agenda and provide bills like this that empower us to get America's house in order.
- The Hill. House votes to make it easier to fire VA employees for misconduct
- National Rifle Association. House passes veterans 2nd Amendment protection act
The tremendous influence Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has had in shaping our nation and ensuring that the rights of every American are guaranteed regardless of race should never be underestimated. That is why I am proud the House passed H.R. 267, the “Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act,” sponsored by my fellow Georgian, friend, and civil rights icon Representative John Lewis (D-GA). The bill expands the current boundary of the site to include the Prince Hall Masonic Building, which served as the headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which trained civil rights leaders and for which Dr. King served as the first president. It also provides the site with a “Historical Park” designation, reflecting the physical complexity of the site and granting it the resources of the National Park Service so it may provide expertise in continued maintenance and restoration. At a time when our political climate has become particularly divisive, I relish the opportunity to come together with my colleagues from all walks of life, regions of the country, and ideological passions to support legislation preserving our local civil rights history for future generations.
One of the most encouraging things I get to see when I visit high schools throughout the Seventh District is the vibrant sense of entrepreneurship that exists with our young people. Strong leadership skills go hand-in-hand with this drive, and it is absolutely alive and well in our community. In fact, several local high school students were among Georgia’s top finishers in the DECA State Career Development Conference held last month. DECA is an international organization focused on preparing emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in high school and college for careers in business, marketing, and finance. Georgia’s top finishers are now headed to the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, California, in April.
Gwinnett County Public Schools recently honored these bright young students for their accomplishments, and I add my congratulations – as well as gratitude – to the mix! Their vision and ingenuity are not only impressive, but also provide the building blocks for America’s continued success for generations to come. From economic growth, to humanitarian aid, to technological innovation, they are putting their big brains to work crafting solutions, and I’m confident great things are yet to come for them and those served by their efforts.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Top state DECA finishers look to international conference in April
“I’d never built a greenhouse, don’t really know how they operate … so I said, ‘I guess we’ll build a greenhouse.’” Those are the words of South Forsyth Rotary Club President James Daniel, and as you and I know so well, that’s just the way things are in the Seventh District. If it needs doing, we have a community full of folks who will figure it out if they don’t already know how to get it done. Mr. Daniel and fellow members of the civic group recently dedicated the greenhouse they built for Creative Enterprises – a center for adults with disabilities – as a service project, and clients of this wonderful organization will soon be putting it to use. Why a greenhouse, you might ask? Well, simple; it was at the top of Creative Enterprises’ wish-list. So the good folks of South Forsyth Rotary got to work and there you have it. I love that about our community. If you have any passion or expertise in this field, I encourage you to reach out to Creative Enterprises. They’re doing great work and are looking for volunteers!
- Forsyth County News. South Forsyth Rotary Club builds greenhouse for Creative Enterprises
On Tuesday night, I was heartened that so many Seventh District residents took the time to call-in to my most recent town hall meeting. I’ve said it a lot, and I’ll say it again – I know how hard it is to take time out of your busy day to spend some time with me – and I greatly appreciate it. I do my job as your representative better when I can hear from you directly. If you weren’t able to participate in last week’s town hall meeting, please be sure to continue reading my newsletter and visiting my website at https://woodall.house.gov to learn when I’ll be holding my next town hall meeting. Thanks again to all of you who participated!
This week in the House of Representatives, it’s Health Care Week! House Republicans are moving forward with three bills that will replace the failing Obamacare law. But rest assured, these three bills are only one more step in the long process to ensure that affordable and appropriate health care choices are available to all Americans.
H.R. 1101, the “Small Business health Fairness Act of 2017,” promotes the creation of Association Health Plans (AHPs). AHPs would be created when a number of small businesses are allowed to pool together across state lines to purchase health insurance plans for their employees. Instead of forcing employers to provide insurance that they can’t afford, limiting salaries and hours, and laying off workers, small businesses can use AHPs to keep health insurance costs low for themselves and their employees.
H.R. 372, the “Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act,” would largely eliminate federal anti-trust protection for health and dental insurance providers. While they would retain the exemption for certain collaborative activities, like sharing claims data to ensure that plans cann be appropriately priced, the federal government would be able to prosecute non-competitive and collusive activities that drive up costs on American consumers.
Finally, this week, the House is going to pass the “American Health Care Act.” This reconciliation bill is another step in a long process to repeal and replace Obamacare with a more patient-centered health care law that increases consumer choice and drives down long-term health care costs. Our health care system has certainly been in flux in recent years, and I know that it’s concerning for many of you to see the system being changed again, but my colleagues and I are unwilling to allow hard-working Americans to be harmed by the current failing system.
Member of Congress