Washington Watch - 4/25/16
In the few short years that I’ve been entrusted with your voting card, many of you have contacted me about the IRS, and most of you used the opportunity to share your concerns and frustrations about the agency. These concerns typically include things such as the IRS targeting scandal, tax refund checks being stolen, or the lack of assistance offered by IRS taxpayer service representatives. As it turns out, those concerns and stories you all were sharing with me were also being shared with Members from Congressional districts across the nation, and during Tax Week in America, the House took action on a number of bills inspired by those many constituent emails, phone calls, and office meetings.
My colleagues and I began the week by unanimously passing two bills, one that prevents the use of taxpayer funds to target U.S. citizens for exercising their Constitutional rights, and another that calls on the IRS to provide taxpayers with printed forms that explain general tax laws and rules for filing tax returns. We also passed bills to ensure IRS employees are paying their taxes just like hard-working Americans, and to require any fees collected by the IRS to be deposited into the Treasury where those funds can be appropriated by Congress with proper oversight.
We wrapped up the week by moving a bill to prevent the IRS from rehiring former employees who were dismissed for cause, and a final bill to stop the IRS from paying employee bonuses until a comprehensive plan to improve taxpayers services is submitted to Congress and approved by the Treasury Inspector General. I was pleased to see so many Members from both sides of the aisle come together in support of hard-working American taxpayers, and I hope that the Senate will quickly send these bills to the President’s desk.
Click here for more information about the abovementioned legislation.
On Wednesday, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing entitled “Small Business and the Federal Government: How Cyber-Attacks Threaten Both.” The era of Americans doing business solely on Main Street is over. Americans from all walks of life are on the internet, and almost every small business in our country has an internet presence. Credit cards, websites, mobile apps, and more make it easier to conduct commerce, but it’s also easier for criminals to infiltrate and attack our small businesses. Sophisticated hackers use technology to go after our bank accounts, Social Security numbers, intellectual property, confidential business data, and anything else they can use for financial gain. Small businesses don’t have the man-power or the money to defend against sophisticated hackers, and that’s why it’s imperative for small businesses and the government to work together to protect Americans. This is a non-partisan issue, and one that I’m convinced we can work together to combat.
- Small Business Committee. What happens when small business suffers a cyberattack
Israel remains our nation’s strongest ally in the Middle East, and with myriad threats and other challenges mounting against its people and very existence as a nation, now more than ever we must stand in solidarity with them. From the Palestinian incitement of violence or the growing adventurism of Iran emboldened by a dangerous nuclear deal, the persistence of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas that are bent on Israel’s destruction, or the dramatic rise of ISIS in neighboring Syria, the people of Israel face very real threats. Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss these issues first-hand with a group that was in Washington for AIPAC’s annual policy conference. Consisting of volunteers – young and old – primarily from our community in the Seventh District, they took time away from their busy schedules to share their passion about Israel and the challenges its people face daily.
These conversations and the difficult realities behind them are why I decided to sign onto two important letters to President Obama this week. The first letter requests an increase in our nation’s security assistance contribution in the next Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel. These crucial assistance dollars aren’t just about ensuring Israel’s safety. America and Israel face a number of shared strategic goals and common threats such as terrorism and weapons proliferation, and these dollars are just as important to protecting our nation’s troops deployed overseas and people at home as they are to protecting Israel. With the threats against Israel even stronger than they were when the last MOU was negotiated in 2006, an increase in our contribution isn’t just warranted, it’s absolutely necessary.
The second letter urges the President to reject any imposed outside solution to the very difficult situation between Israel and the Palestinians, and instead urges him to be an effective mediator and foster an environment for direct negotiations between the two sides. While of late, the Palestinians have refused to come to the negotiating table and have instead chosen to incite violence against the people of Israel, our nation still must send a clear message that lasting peace will only be achieved if both sides work out their differences in good faith and arrive at a solution together. Both of these letters weren’t just signed by me, but by dozens of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle, and it’s my hope that the President hears this powerful message and supports policies that are of upmost importance to one of our greatest friends and allies.
After another busy and productive week in Washington, it was great to be back home with the folks of the 7th District on Friday. I had several great visits to wrap up the week, including the pleasure of presenting Arjun Karanam with the Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for his work in the Congressional App Challenge. It's an opportunity for high school students with a wide range of computer coding skills to develop that skill by building an original app from scratch. Arjun is currently a sophomore at South Forsyth High School, and built an app called the Electoral College History that was named the winner for the 7th District! You can view Arjun’s demonstration video here. Take a look; it's impressive!
7th District App Challenge Winner, Arjun Karanam, pictured with Rep. Woodall
Another item on the agenda when I returned to Georgia was to hear from one of our local businesses, Daimler Trucks North America in Buford. Like all our job creators here at home, they face myriad federal regulations and burdens that affect how they do business, and consequently how they are able to grow our economy. In speaking with Plant Manager Anthony Coppola and his team in Buford, it is clear that the federal government can either be a partner - through R&D initiatives like the SuperTruck program to improve freight efficiency - or a millstone around their neck as in the case of ever-increasing EPA fuel regulations and the 12% federal excise tax on the retail sale of heavy-duty trucks. I've said time and again, but it's true every time: seeing first-hand how Washington policies affect our community - good and bad - is vitally important to our overall success, and your partnership is what makes it possible.
This week the House is expected to consider a bill – H.R. 4498 – that cuts unnecessary government red tape to make it easier for American entrepreneurs and innovators to connect with people who want to invest in their companies. The American economy can only grow when the smartest and most innovative among us are allowed to use their brains and their hard work to turn an idea into a business. This bill champions that “can do” American spirit.
The House will also consider H.J. Res 88 – under the Congressional Review Act – disapproving the “fiduciary rule” recently finalized by the U.S. Department of Labor. I’ve talked about how onerous this rule is in the past and how it will harm Americans and hurt financial advisors in our communities. Now, the House is taking a stand and telling the Obama Administration that it’s wrong to make it more difficult for hard-working Americans to plan, save, and invest for their retirement.
Finally, I want to highlight an important oversight hearing this week. The Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing entitled “Transferring Guantanamo Bay Detainees to the Homeland: Implications for States and Local Communities.” The Obama Administration has seemingly cooled on its proposed plan from February to close Guantanamo Bay and potentially move detainees to facilities inside the United States following condemnation of the plan from all sides of the political spectrum. But the plan remains one that President Obama supports, and it’s essential for us to understand the dangers that his plan may carry for our local communities so that we can oppose it together.
Member of Congress