Washington Watch - 3/21/16
On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to authorize the Speaker—for the first time in history—to file an amicus brief on behalf of the whole House in the immigration case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. This is an extraordinary and unprecedented development, but it is necessary considering that we are dealing with a President whose disregard for the Constitution is extraordinary and unprecedented. The details of the case and the central question are important, but the foundational question—is a President allows to effectively rewrite the law by choosing for himself which laws should be enforced and which should be ignored—is most concerning to me. The House’s legal team is expected to appear before the Supreme Court in April and a ruling is expected by the end of June. The specific language of the amicus brief is being drafted as we speak, and I will share it with you as soon. There is no doubt that this will be a landmark case that will likely shape the trajectory of America’s great experiment in self-governance for a generation.
- The Hill. House votes to submit brief in Supreme Court immigration case
- CNN. House will file brief with Supreme Court to block Obama’s immigration policies
- NBC News. U.S. House to oppose immigration executive action in Supreme Court
On Friday, I had the honor and privilege of presenting the Congressional Badge of Bravery to Officer Eduardo Espinoza, a Seventh District constituent and proud member of the DeKalb County Police Department. The Badge of Bravery is awarded by the highest ranking law enforcement official in the country, the United States Attorney General, to local law enforcement officers who engage in “exceptional acts of bravery while in the line of duty.” Officer Espinoza and his colleague are the first from Georgia to ever receive this national award. I am incredibly proud that out of the small handful of individuals who receive this prestigious badge, one of them calls the Seventh District home. Officer Espinoza’s quick thinking, exceptional skills, and complete disregard for his own personal safety saved lives, and we can all feel safer knowing that he is one of the many brave individuals charged with keeping our community safe.
- Atlanta Journal Constitution. 5 DeKalb police officers awarded for heroism
Rep. Rob Woodall presents Gwinnett resident and DeKalb County Police Officer Eduardo Espinoza with the Congressional Badge of Bravery
Last week, my colleagues on the House Budget Committee and I successfully advanced a balanced budget resolution for FY2017 entitled: A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America. The Budget Committee’s FY2017 fiscal blueprint achieves $7 trillion in deficit reduction, which is higher than any previous House Budget Committee proposal, through a combination of sensible spending reductions and policies that will spur economic growth and bring the federal budget back to balance.
By including common-sense conservative policy solutions like repealing and replacing Obamacare with a patient-centered health care reform bill and putting states and local communities back in charge of programs that fall outside the inherent role of the federal government, my colleagues and I were able to produce a budget that ensures our men and women on the front line fighting terrorism have the resources necessary to fulfill the federal government’s Constitutional duty to keep Americans safe both at home and abroad. Simultaneously, we were able to reduce spending in non-defense categories; so much so, in fact, that in many cases, those spending levels are even lower than when President Bush was President in 2008. This budget represents another year of progress, and I invite you to read all about the House Budget Committee’s FY2017 budget resolution by clicking here.
I also encourage you to click the picture below to watch my remarks about how this budget makes a quality investment in our nation's transportation infrastructure, which is an issue I know so many Georgians are concerned about and are willing to support.
Following the instructions in the House Budget Committee’s FY2017 budget resolution, early last week the House Ways and Means Committee reported a package of bills that will achieve $16.5 billion in savings over the first two years and $98 billion over the next decade. Included in the package of bills was legislation that would require taxpayers to provide a Social Security Number in order to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit and legislation that would require taxpayers who erroneously received an overpayment courtesy of Obamacare to return those funds.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee then followed suit with its own bill, H.R. 4725, the “Common Sense Savings Act of 2016,” which will save hard-working taxpayers $8 billion. H.R. 4725 would, among other things, change Medicaid eligibility requirements so that folks who win the lottery can no longer receive subsidized health care benefits and eliminate Obamacare’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, which has been used to fund things like urban gardening projects and Pickleball competition promotion. Those are just a few of the many reforms included these bills, and I look forward to debating and passing them when they reach the House floor. I hope you will take a look a closer look at them and share your thoughts with me.
- Accounting Today. House panel advances bill restricting child tax credit
- Americans for Tax Reform. Repeal Obamacare's public health slush fund
- Bloomberg BNA. House committee targets cuts for budget savings
Last year, Congress passed one of the largest Medicare reform bills in over a decade. The bill changed the way physicians in Medicare are reimbursed for their services and focused on paying doctors for quality of care, instead quantity of care. On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health held an important oversight hearing examining the implementation of these new Medicare payment reforms. Medicare is a key piece of our government’s contract with America’s workers, and I’m so pleased that this committee is working in a bipartisan way to ensure that the government holds up its end of the contract. To learn more about the new payment system and how it will help streamline services and make Medicare better for seniors, please click here.
During its quick rise, ISIS has committed and is continuing to commit truly unspeakable and despicable acts targeted specifically against innocent Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities, and it’s high time that our nation call these actions what they are: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and most importantly, genocide. That’s exactly what the House did last week with the passage of H.Con.Res. 75. While each side of the aisle has their marked policy differences and disagreements, I was very proud to see the House come together to send a powerful message to the world by passing this resolution. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. This is a moral issue, and it is one that the House of Representatives sees with total clarity.
You may have also heard news of Secretary John Kerry’s decision to declare that the actions of ISIS constitute genocide. While the House acted on and passed H.Con.Res. 75 on its on volition, Secretary Kerry’s declaration comes as a response to a congressionally mandated deadline in the FY2016 omnibus appropriations bill. Make no mistake, I’m certainly happy that Secretary Kerry called ISIS’ actions what they truly are, but acting on the very last day of a lawful deadline does not constitute leadership, and if our nation is to ever defeat ISIS and put a stop to the atrocities it is committing, we will need the same level of leadership from the executive branch that we have already seen from Congress.
- Politico. House unanimously condemns ISIL for genocide
- Fox News. House declares ISIS committing genocide against Christians, other minorities
- ABC News. What’s at stake in US saying ISIS committed genocide
Last week I joined with my fellow Georgia Representatives Tom Graves, John Lewis, Hank Johnson, Austin Scott, Sanford Bishop, and David Scott in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation urging fair consideration of Delta’s request to lay claim to flights to Cuba. There are multiple airlines vying for a limited number of routes, and Delta is the only airline who has applied to service Atlanta. While I strongly disagree with the President’s foolish new policy toward a cruel, authoritarian regime, I have an important role as your representative to ensure that your interests are represented at the federal level. That means making sure that if Americans will be allowed to travel to and from Cuba, Georgia families and Georgia’s economy should not be disadvantaged.
This Tuesday I have the privilege of testifying before the House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee on the merits of H.R. 25, the FairTax. As part of the committee’s continuing process to reform the income tax code, I have the opportunity to present to my colleagues how transformational the FairTax would be for our economy. I know that it will spur economic growth, and I look forward to convincing the Ways and Means Committee that it will too!
This week, many in our community will gather together with their families and at their churches to celebrate Easter. As we all commemorate the beginning of spring and Christians rejoice in the rising of our Lord, I want to wish everyone a peaceful and fun-filled Easter.
Member of Congress