Washington Watch - 4/15/19

April 15, 2019
E-Newsletter Archive
Advocating for Georgia Farmers and Pursuing a Fiscally Responsible Budget

NEEDING TO BUILD CONSENSUS FOR OUR NATION’S FINANCIAL FUTURE

Recently, the House Budget Committee failed to present a budget and instead passed a bill to increase discretionary spending for the next two fiscal years. Democratic Leadership decided at the last minute to pull the bill from consideration by the full House when it because clear that the bill couldn’t pass. While the House Democratic Leadership keeps moving bills further and further to the left to attract more liberal support, last week’s failure to pass a budget -- or even try -- shows us that we need to come together. The only way we can meaningfully address our nation’s fiscal crisis is through consensus. Republicans and Democrats must work together to make tough decisions to set our country on the right track.

I spoke more about this problem in this Sunday’s issue of the Gwinnett Daily Post. You can read my thoughts by clicking on the image below.

 

REPRESENTATIVES WOODALL AND SCOTT TEAM UP TO ADVOCATE FOR GEORGIA FARMERS

Georgia is the number one producer of peanuts and pecans in the United States. Our state is the second largest producer of cotton, has the fourth largest amount of total forest land area, and 24.4 million acres of available timberland for commercial use in our country.

Last year, our farmers were devastated by Hurricane Michael. Because Congress has failed to provide disaster relief, thousands of jobs are at risk and $2.5 billion in agriculture losses have gone uncompensated. Our state and our nation are suffering, and there is too little help coming from Washington.   

Georgia farmers work day and night to provide for all Americans - from folks living in San Francisco to the folks living in New York City. Each year, our farmers take enormous risks on our behalf. They deserve better from Congress.

Last week, the House Rules Committee met to consider H.R. 2021. Representative Austin Scott testified about his amendment, which would have provided emergency disaster assistance funding to those who were harmed by 2018 natural disasters. I am committed to working on behalf of our farmers until they have the disaster aid they need. Click on the image below to watch our efforts to secure disaster relief.

Rep. Woodall introduced a motion to include Rep. Scott’s amendment to help Georgia farmers in H.R. 2021

 

TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE SUBCOMMITTEES HOLD HEARINGS ON HIGHWAY SAFETY AND WATER FACILITY FUNDING

Last week, I participated in two House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearings. The first hearing of the week was held by the Highways and Transit Subcommittee and focused on the need to improve safety on our roadways for all users. While we can always work to ensure that fewer lives are lost on roads across America by making targeted investments to improve intersections, traffic patterns, and safety programs, we cannot regulate out of existence unintentional human errors or folks who knowingly make bad decisions, which continue to play a prominent role in most traffic accidents.

States and roadway users have taken steps forward in hopes of bringing down the number of accidents stemming from poor roadway conditions and deliberate human errors (e.g. distracted and impaired driving). One example of a community taking steps to account for the safety of all roadway users can be seen right here in Gwinnett County. In 2018 the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted a complete streets policy that requires the Gwinnett County Department of Transportation to consider bicycle, pedestrian, and transit users of all ages and abilities when the county looks to design, construct, or maintain transportation projects. Gwinnett is one of many localities to have adopted such a policy, and I am thrilled to see communities across the country taking similar initiatives to protect their residents and make their roadways safer.

To that end, while I am an avid supporter of the various safety programs that aim to decrease roadways accidents and fatalities, I continue to believe that much of the burden in achieving our desired goal falls on each of us to be the best actor we can possibly be when using our nation’s roadways, whether that be while driving a vehicle, riding a bike, walking along a roadway, or even while riding as a passenger, and it’s my sincere hope that you will join me in working to increase safety on our roads. 

Rep. Woodall asks about how other states can follow Georgia’s example when it comes to highway safety

The second hearing focused on the need to improve our nation’s harbors and inland waterways, as well as ensure that adequate funding is available to maintain the operations of these facilities and account for improvements to meet the growing demands placed on them. As many of you know, the Port of Savannah is one of Georgia’s driving economic forces and offers our state direct access to international markets. In fact, the Georgia Ports Authority reported that Georgia’s deep-water ports generated more than $44 billion in state GDP and supported more than 430,000 jobs in fiscal year 2017. As such, these facilities are not just critical to their communities and their respective state economies but are also important to the country at large.

That said, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Administration for including in its FY2020 Budget adequate funds to keep the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) on track, and I encourage Congressional appropriators to heed the Administration’s recommendations. That said, I also commend the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Grace Napolitano and Ranking Member Bruce Westerman for holding this important hearing so that lawmakers can highlight how critical our ports and inland waterways are to local economies, constituent livelihoods, and the nation at-large. Click on the image below to listen to my Q&A with expert witnesses.

Rep. Woodall asks local experts about the benefits of reauthorizing the WRDA bill every two years

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP WELCOMES SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT MOON JAE-IN TO WASHINGTON

Over the course of the past couple years, our relationship with North Korea has gone from essentially nonexistent to President Trump becoming the first President to meet with a North Korean leader. A significant part of why our relationship with the “hermit kingdom” has had recent progress is because of our strong relationship with South Korea and its President Moon Jae-In. The South Korean President has made improving relations with North Korea a priority since taking office in 2017 and has met with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un several times. Last week, President Trump hosted the South Korean leader to discuss a path for continued negotiations and a third U.S.-North Korean summit. After their meeting, the two reiterated our two countries’ goals of achieving a peaceful and denuclearized Korean Peninsula.  

South Korea continues to be one of our most valuable and trusted partners, especially as we seek peace on the Korean Peninsula. It is essential that our two countries remain united in our efforts, and I applaud both Presidents’ leadership in the pursuit of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Koreans and Americans alike are invested in negotiations moving forward.

 

SERVICE ACADEMY DAY

The United States Service Academies are some of the oldest institutions in our country. West Point was founded in 1802, the Naval Academy in 1845, the Coast Guard Academy in 1876, the Merchant Marine Academy in 1943, and the Air Force Academy in 1954. Since their inception, these prestigious institutions have graduated generation after generation of American leaders. Their traditions, outstanding academic rigor, and status as the premier military institutions across the globe are among some of the many reasons young people seek nominations to the military academies.

Each year, I have the honor of joining Senator Isakson for his Service Academy Day at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. This serves as one opportunity for interested students to hear from speakers from each of the Service Academies, as well as several representatives in Georgia’s Congressional Delegation. The deadline to register is tomorrow, April 16th at 5:00 PM, and you can find the registration link HERE.

 

REP. WOODALL: HOUSE DEMOCRATS ARE “POLITICIZING THE TAX CODE”

I enjoyed my discussion with MSNBC’s Katy Tur about how House Democrats are politicizing our nation’s tax code by going after President Trump’s tax returns. You can watch my full interview by click the picture below.

From Statuary Hall, Rep. Woodall discusses the overreach of the Democrat-led Ways and Means Committee

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: SAVE THE INTERNET ACT

Last week, the House voted on H.R. 1644, the “Save the Internet Act.” H.R. 1644 would reinstate the Obama Administration’s 2015 Open Internet Order. That order reclassified broadband internet service as a “common carrier,” which puts it under the stricter Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC overturned the order in December 2017, before it was ever formally enacted, returning the Internet to the regulatory scheme it had from its inception until the 2015 order. Here are what two constituents on the different sides of the issue have written in to me:

Perry from Sugar Hill:

As your constituent, I encourage you to work with your House colleagues to support and pass HR 1644, the Save the Internet Act. This bill would restore net neutrality rules overturned last year by the Federal Communications Commission – a move disapproved of by the vast majority of Americans. Net neutrality will make sure my internet provider can’t slow down my internet service or block me from competitors’ websites. Restoring an open internet can and should be a bipartisan effort, and I hope you will join with your colleagues to support and pass HR 1644, and bring back safeguards for an open internet that treats all customers and websites the same!

Marjorie from Lawrenceville:

I've just learned that some House Democrats are working with Nancy Pelosi to pass the so-called "Save the Internet" Act, a bill that would reverse the FCC's decision to rollback Obama's Title II regulation of the Internet.  As a FreedomWorks activist and as your constituent, I urge you to see through the rampant fear-mongering and fake news, and support FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's Restoring Internet Freedom Order by stopping the "Save the Internet" Act.

Title II pushed ISPs into a regulatory system that forced them to ask permission from bureaucrats before rolling out any innovation or service. It was a thinly-veiled government takeover of the Internet that killed investment and jobs, and kept Americans like me from getting better and faster Internet. All to "solve" purely hypothetical "problems." Chairman Pai’s rollback of Title II simply returned us to the light-touch regulatory framework that allowed the Internet to flourish for nearly two decades. No more, no less. Netflix, Facebook, Google, and YouTube grew from this framework. I recall being able to freely access them all and so much more under these simple rules.

And contrary to many politicians' "the-sky-is-falling" rhetoric, the Internet thrived since the repeal of Obama's Title II regulation of the Internet. In fact, average Internet speeds and the number of Americans like me with access to high-speed Internet has skyrocketed. And, after years of flatlining, investment in high-speed Internet has gone up by BILLIONS, creating countless high-paying jobs.So please Woodall Representative, don't let a radical and loud minority scare you into ignoring the facts. Support FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's Restoring Internet Freedom Order and vote against the "Save the Internet" Act.


Nearly every American can rally around the idea that Internet users should be free to go where they want, when they want online, and innovators and product developers should be free to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission. That’s exactly how the Internet has worked since the 1990s when former President Clinton and a Republican-controlled Congress amended the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure the Internet would be “unfettered from federal or state regulation.” What followed was 20-plus years of innovation that gave us the Internet that we know today. This “light touch” regulatory approach allowed Google, Facebook, Netflix, and other Internet companies to flourish and provide the services and products that you and I enjoy every day.

As I mentioned above, in 2015, the FCC decided to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act (meaning that it would be regulated like a copper line telephone company), and “net neutrality” was born. When discussed at the FCC or in Congress, “net neutrality” means “regulating the Internet under Title II like a telephone utility.” Under just the threat of that regulatory regime, broadband network investment declined by over $3 billion—or more than 5 percent. The innovation that occurred from the 1990s until 2015 would not have been possible without the $1.5 trillion in investments made by private companies to “build out America’s communications network,” and as is true in any industry, the expansion of Internet access and productivity, including the expansion of 5G service, is dependent upon substantial future investment.

From its inception through the 2015 order, the Internet flourished under the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “light touch” regulation, and the Internet is continuing to do so now. Since the FCC’s new rule was adopted in 2018, consumers have benefited from a greater than 35 percent increase in average, fixed broadband download speeds, and the United States rose to eighth, from twelfth, in the world for those speeds. In 2018, fiber was also made available to more new homes than in any previous year, and capital investment by the nation’s top six Internet service providers increased by $2.3 billion.

The FTC can still take action against ISPs for anticompetitive acts or unfair and deceptive practices, as proponents of H.R. 1644 argue is necessary. The FTC has years of experience addressing these Internet-related issues, whereas the FCC’s role in what should and should not be has remained uncertain—discouraging investments and innovations. We simply do not see the problems Perry described, and I do not believe that H.R. 1644 and returning to the Title II regulations is the way to “save” the Internet. In fact, the Internet is thriving, rather than needing saving.

 

FORSYTH CENTRAL ROBOTICS TEAM TO COMPETE IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Technology investment and innovation is critical to our nation’s economic development and success. I have the pleasure of serving as co-chair of the Congressional Robotics Caucus, and discussions on how we can not only best support the development and deployment of robotics and related technologies, but ensure the next-generation of workers are trained in this endeavor, will surely be some of the defining conversations of our time. As National Robotics Week comes to a close, it could not be more fitting, or more exiting, to see our youngest generations here at home excelling in this field. I want to congratulate Team OTTO and the students from the Forsyth Central High School Robotics team on placing fourth overall at the Georgia FIRST Robotics State Championship. With that great finish, they will now move on to compete at the national level in Houston at the 2019 FIRST Championships, which will take place April 17-20th. Congratulations to these students!

 

2019 CONTINUES TO BRING NEW BUSINESSES TO GWINNETT COUNTY

The Seventh District consists of a diverse, vibrant community of businesses and manufactures, both small and large, whose tradition of success has solidified our reputation as a leader in industry. We are so fortunate to have state and local leaders devoted to taking that success even further, and we continue to see the results of that hard work. You may have heard that OS National, a title and settlement provider, has chosen Duluth as the home for its new national headquarters, and this expansion is expected to add more than 1,000 jobs. Another company, Elemaster, which designs and develops electronic technologies, recently opened the doors of its new manufacturing facility in Duluth and is set to bring additional jobs and opportunities to our community. I hope you will join me in welcoming them to the Seventh District!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD          

I’m happy to say that the House of Representatives is observing its annual Easter/Passover district work period for the next two weeks. While I will be meeting with many of you throughout the 7th District early in this week at your civic associations, schools, and community events, the end of the week and this weekend will be devoted to faith and family. For millions of Christians around the world, Holy Week and Easter are upon us, and for millions of our Jewish brothers and sisters, Passover begins on Friday evening. These two faith celebrations can serve to remind all of us that there is more that unites us than divides us and that all Americans should be grateful for our guaranteed First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Too many people around the world are still fighting for that freedom, and sadly, the horrific recent church burnings in Louisiana show us how people of faith – all faiths – must come together to support one another at this holy time of year for so many Americans. I wish you and your family a peaceful, faithful, and reflective Easter and Passover. May God bless the United States of America.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall 
Member of Congress