Washington Watch - 3/4/19
Last week, the House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation, H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112, which purported to address gun violence. As happens so often with so-called “gun control” measures, however, this legislation would make life harder for law-abiding Americans, overrule state laws which are already protecting law-abiding Americans, and do very little − if anything − to prevent criminals from gaining access to firearms. As a result, I opposed both measures. If you watched any of the debate on the floor last week, you would have seen the new House Leadership and Majority celebrating simply doing anything that restricts gun sales to anyone. Not only does that sentiment run counter to the U.S. Constitution, it fails to offer any protection against any of the headline grabbing violence that we see across our nation.
Of course, we do have real problems that need real attention. I am devoting my energy to supporting bills that will target criminals who illegally possess firearms and will identify and catch those who would do violence before they commit heinous acts. I joined with my friend and fellow Georgian, Representative Doug Collins, as an original cosponsor of H.R. 1339, the “Mass Violence Prevention (MVP) Act,” which enhances penalties for theft of a firearm and establishes a Mass Violence Prevention Center, based off the very successful National Counterterrorism Center. This new fusion center could eliminate the information sharing failures of the past, and by focusing on the select few who raise red flags rather than on the millions of law-abiding gun owners who pose no danger, we will have a real chance to prevent tragedy before it strikes.
Another bill that could make a real difference is H.R. 838, the “Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety (TAPS) Act.” This bipartisan bill creates a task force of threat experts who will assist in the creation of a national strategy to prevent targeted violence through threat assessment and management. This successful program, which already exists at the federal level to protect federal officials and foreign dignitaries, can be expanded to provide resources, training, and assistance in establishing and operating locally driven threat assessment and management units throughout the country.
We all agree that we must do what is in our power to prevent gun violence in this nation. Penalizing lawful gun owners is never the right answer. Creating a federal network of experts engaging our state and local law enforcement officials to identify threats before they happen is the right answer. I’m proud to support both the MVP Act and TAPS Act as they are real solutions that take us closer to preventing the next tragedy from taking place.
Last Wednesday, the House Budget Committee held a hearing entitled “2017 Tax Law: Impact on the Budget and American Families.” The evidence so far is clear: record revenue growth; 80 percent of tax filers receiving a tax cut; and businesses paying out billions in bonuses to employees, increases to worker pay, and investments in new equipment and facilities. I had a chance to speak with one of the witnesses at the hearing — Lana Pol from Pella, Iowa — who is the president and owner of Geetings, Inc. about the real effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. She testified about the investments she has been able to make in her business thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and how she has been able to give her workers the benefits they deserve.
Fortunately, Ms. Pol’s story is not unique. In fact, right here in the Seventh District, Boehringer Ingelheim, an animal health sciences firm, has chosen to bring 75 high-paying jobs to Duluth. That’s out of the 225 total jobs they will be bringing to our state along with an investment of over $120 million. I had a chance to highlight their success and speak with Ms. Pol about her business’s growth during that hearing. If you’d like to see my exchange with Ms. Pol, click the picture below.
Rep. Rob Woodall discusses the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with Geetings, Inc. President, Lana Pol
Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held its second full committee hearing to examine the readiness and resiliency of our nation’s infrastructure in an ever-changing climate. As many of you know, one of my favorite things about working on this committee is that most of the policy decisions that come out the committee tend to do so in a way that often transcends political divisiveness. That’s because our infrastructure and transportation systems play critical roles in districts across the country as they connect each of our constituents to their loved ones and places of employment, develop and sustain communities and neighborhoods, and most importantly, uphold our country’s place as a global leader in the efficient movement of goods and services from sea to shining sea.
That said, as Georgia’s leading voice on transportation and infrastructure matters, I frequently hear from folks who are eager for lawmakers in Washington to work together in the new Congress to develop and pass an infrastructure package that will effectively rebuild our outdated infrastructure and make smart and targeted investments in new technologies. Undeniably, we must discuss innovative solutions that will not only prolong the life-span of our current and future infrastructure projects, but also ensure that our committed investments can meet the demands of future users as well as any changes in climate patterns and severe weather events. I believe that these are laudable goals held by members on both side of the aisle, but as we’ve seen happen too many times in Congress over the years, and already numerous times under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, opportunities for bipartisan progress can quickly, and too easily, be stifled by partisan politics.
Unfortunately, such partisan focus was injected into last week’s hearing with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle — pushing their multi-trillion dollar “Green New Deal” instead of focusing on common sense investments which would provide the most value to all Americans. Rather than allowing partisan rhetoric — rhetoric that I believe only stands to jeopardize the years of bipartisan policymaking infrastructure has enjoyed — I submit to you that I will continue working across the aisle to deliver realistic and innovative solutions to achieve our shared goal of building a better and brighter tomorrow for future generations.
- Fox News. Green New Deal would politicize infrastructure -- and that would be a tragedy
- The Hill. Union leader says Green New Deal would make infrastructure bill 'absolutely impossible'
During last week’s rules debate, I spoke out against House Joint Resolution 46, which would terminate the President’s border emergency declaration. This legislation didn’t have any committee hearings or expert testimony before it passed the House because Congressional Democrats do not want to talk about the very real problems that the President is trying to address in his declaration.
Congress has repeatedly failed to address the drug crisis, weapons crisis, human trafficking crisis, and now humanitarian crisis at our southern border. Article I of the Constitution clearly states that it is the Legislative Branch’s responsibility to write the immigration and border laws of our nation, and it is the Executive Branch’s responsibility to enforce the laws of our nation. With over 1,600 illegal border crossings per day, it is disappointing that Speaker Pelosi turned what sure be a shared goal along the border into a “me against him” fight with President Trump.
To be clear, I do have reservations any time any President goes around Congress to achieve any goal. Such steps should not be common, and they have become all too common now in modern presidencies. Every president in my adult lifetime has declared national emergencies, going around Congress, and Congress has rarely taken any steps to reign those presidents in or to solve those real problems with legislative solutions. I applaud the Senate for taking a serious look at this new emergency declaration and comparing the very real need for action along the border with the very real danger of Congress and the executive failing to follow their Constitutionally mandated roles.
Make no mistake, however: the act of a presidential emergency declaration is never in and of itself the problem. In 1976, Congress — rightly or wrongly — delegated this authority to the presidency. Congress can rescind that grant, and Congress can disapprove any declaration, but the act of making the declaration is currently authorized by Congress. I share this as a lens through which to view this very difficult debate. Too many lawmakers and commentators are making this conversation, as Speaker Pelosi is, about “us against the President.” That isn’t and shouldn’t be the debate. There are real problems at the border that demand real solutions. Congress can decide whether they amount to an emergency, but to pretend they don’t exist does a disservice to all Americans. Similarly, there are real concerns about the division of Constitutional authority between the presidency and Congress. To pretend those don’t exist is also a disservice. Listen as the debate continues. Those who focus on President Trump make their motives clear. Those who focus instead on the presidency—and its role in crisis and with Congress—will be the ones who provide thoughtful solutions needed.
Click the picture below to view my remarks.
On the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Woodall opposes H.J.Res.46
Thank you to Stuart Varney for inviting me on his television show to discuss “Medicare for All.” This policy proposal from Congressional Democrats would cost at least $30 trillion and would be a disaster both for middle class families who would have to pay the new bill and for senior families who have been paying into Medicare their entire lives. So-called “Medicare for All” is simply masking an already rejected federal takeover and socialized medicine scheme in the very popular and reliable name of “Medicare.” But the two have absolutely nothing in common. Medicare promises care to those who have earned it through a lifetime of work and payments. “Medicare for All” promises everyone everything but provides absolutely no plan about how to pay for it. Instead, our goal should be more transparency and consumer involvement to lower health care prices, not less.
From Statuary Hall, Rep. Woodall examines “Medicare For All” and its hefty price tag
Last Friday marked the 100th anniversary of Korea’s March First Movement that began the Korean people’s path to independence. On March 1, 1919, two million Koreans gathered in Seoul and across the Korean Peninsula to participate in mass demonstrations and read aloud the Korean Declaration of Independence. Inspired by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the declaration called for self-determination, justice, humanity, and dignity for the people of Korea. The March First demonstrations brought global attention to the movement, leading directly to the establishment of a provisional Korean government in Shanghai, and for the next 36 years, the Korean people would fight for their independence from then Imperialist Japan.
Today, March 1st is recognized as a national holiday in both North and South Korea, and in honor of this occasion, I was proud to introduce H.Res. 159. This resolution recognizes the significance of the March First Movement and reaffirms the strong bond between the United States and South Korea. For over 70 years our two countries have worked side by side militarily and economically to our mutual benefit. It is an honor to recognize this important milestone of the Korean people, and I look forward to our continued partnership.
The first tax-filing season since the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is now under way. The new law lowered tax rates, doubled the standard deduction, and significantly simplified our tax code. It is estimated that two-thirds of households will see a cut to their tax liability.
While everyone’s taxes will vary, some constituents have written to say that their tax refunds are smaller than they expected, and that will absolutely be true for many families. Tax refunds are a result of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taking too much money out of each of your paychecks based on your withholding allowance, which it then returns to you in April. The tax bill did two things: it lowered tax rates for most individuals and it lowered the amount of money that the IRS takes from each of your paychecks. The result? Perhaps lower refunds in April, but lower tax liability overall, and more money in each paycheck.
When you compare a similar income to total taxes from 2017 to 2018, 94% of American families should be doing as well or better this year than last, and that is great news both for families and the American economy!
There are so many people who work hard each day to keep our planet clean and make our community a wonderful place to live. Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, a non-profit whose community-based network consists of volunteers, community leaders, and local organizations, was recently honored at the Georgia State Capitol with the Governor’s Circle Award for their exemplary work in community beautification and environmental sustainability.
In addition, the Georgia Forestry Commission recently announced its 2018 Tree City USA recipients, and 9 cities in Gwinnett have joined more than 3,400 communities across our country in this distinction. To achieve this status, communities must meet four core standards of viable tree management and while this was certainly not a new honor for some, Loganville’s recent addition demonstrates how there are those back home who are committed to doing even more to be responsible stewards of our environment. I know we are all proud of their hard work!
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful receives state recognition for environmental achievement
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Multiple Gwinnett cities receive ‘Tree City USA’ honors
The Seventh District of Georgia has always led the way in education excellence. Not only does our community boast a dedicated student body, who are using their time and talents to be life-long learners and leaders, we have a team of dedicated administrators, teachers, and parents who are continually supporting their success.
I want to congratulate Collins Hill High School Principal Kerensa Wing for being named Georgia Principal of the Year for 2019! In fact, this is the third time in the past five years that this honoree has hailed from Gwinnett County Public Schools. I know that it is through the efforts of folks like Principal Wing and her team at Collins Hill, and those hard at work throughout our entire school system, that are directly responsible for our community’s tradition of success.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Collins Hill Principal Kerensa Wing named Georgia Principal of the Year
Last year Congress passed sweeping legislation that included more than 70 measures to combat the ongoing opioid crisis. As the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) works to fully implement those reforms in our state, it is critical that those in our local communities − who are closest to the individuals and families battling opioid abuse and addiction – continue supporting our friends and neighbors back home. The Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council (FCDAC) is one of those organizations working to eliminate substance abuse in our own backyard, including through programs aimed at targeting opioid use among our youth. You can read more about their work below, and can visit their website HERE to learn about ways to get involved.
For those interested in finding specific programs and facilities for friends or loved ones seeking assistance in our state, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities (DBHDD) recommends individuals seeking services visit www.mygcal.com to identify adult community-based service providers in their area, or call the toll-free Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 1-800-715-4225.
- Forsyth County News. What Forsyth County is doing to curb drug use among youth
If you’ve been reading my weekly newsletter for a while, you know that some weeks are more interesting than others when it comes to the importance of legislation being voted on in the House of Representatives. This week is an especially important week. The House will be considering one of the most consequential election measures we have seen in decades, and it’s unfortunately a measure that will take a sledgehammer to our Constitution – H.R. 1.
H.R. 1 is Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) most important legislative vehicle, but instead of using it to craft bipartisan solutions to immigration, infrastructure, homeland security, foreign policy, or any of the dozens of other critical issues facing our nation, Speaker Pelosi has crafted a partisan, Constitutionally-questionable bill that will alter our current election process in ways that are solely meant to benefit Democrats. The U.S. Constitution empowers states to control elections – including how to draw Congressional district boundaries, institute voter registration and identification requirements, decide on types of voting systems, and more – but H.R. 1 would federalize all of those powers and more. In the Speaker’s wisdom, she has decided that she knows better than the Georgia Secretary of State, the Georgia Governor, and the Georgia State Legislature in all these areas. Election reform is important, of course, but it’s unconscionable to me that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives would so pervert our electoral system in such an obviously partisan manner.
The Rules Committee will be meeting on H.R. 1 on Tuesday, March 5th, and I encourage you to CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.
Member of Congress