Washington Watch - 4/29/13
FAA FURLOUGHS AND FLIGHT DELAYS
As you know, the federal government is asking all agencies to reduce spending. Most of those reductions are happening in a way that the public doesn’t even notice. Cutting overhead, administration costs, duplicative services, and the like allow government to be more efficient and more effective. Last week, however, the nation faced a manufactured crisis when the FAA decided that the best way for it to reduce spending was not by reducing its grant funding, not by reducing its overhead costs, not by furloughing administrative staff, and not by furloughing air traffic controllers from overstaffed airports. Instead, the FAA decided that the best way to save money was to reduce the number of air traffic controllers and that those reductions should be made equally across all towers in the system, including the busiest airport in the world—Hartsfield Jackson here in Georgia. The FAA knew the impact of its proposal—itself predicting three-hour delays in Atlanta—but chose this path anyway. The Wall Street Journal opined, “FAA regional employees wrote to blow the whistle on their bosses. As one email put it, ‘the FAA management has stated in meetings that they need to make the furloughs as hard as possible for the public so that they understand how serious it is.’” This was a manufactured crisis that failed the common sense test both here at home and in Congress.
Since we couldn’t convince the FAA to take appropriate steps on its own, last week the House and Senate both passed legislation, H.R. 1765, to force smarter FAA spending. The bill maintains our commitment to reducing spending but ensures that the Administration manages the changes in a responsible way. After this bipartisan action, the FAA should end the political games and stop these unnecessary delays.
TAKING THE FAIRTAX TO JOB CREATORS
The FairTax is as pro-business and as pro-jobs as bills come in Congress. Under America’s current tax code, many American companies take their business overseas because it’s more cost-effective to manufacture and import their products back into the United States rather than produce them domestically. Last week I traveled to visit with members of the World Presidents Organization (WPO), a group of over 4,000 business leaders from around the globe who are dedicated to being responsible leaders in their respective fields and communities. I wanted them to hear about the FairTax first hand. As you might imagine, many had heard of the FairTax and had questions, but there were others who were new to the idea. I was excited to share my knowledge about and passion for this important bill in hopes that WPO members will in turn spread the message of freedom through the FairTax to their own business networks.
AN OPEN LEGISLATIVE PROCESS
Last week I proudly joined 100 of my colleagues in sending a letter to House Republican leaders supporting a full and open appropriations process for this coming fiscal year. As you may know, the Constitution specifically tasks Congress with the power of appropriating money, and we do so annually. Every year, the 12 subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee go to work writing bills that will keep our government agencies funded. Unfortunately, for the past few years, Congress has been unable to pass each of these 12 bills separately, and instead, we have relied on Continuing Resolutions and omnibus bills. Instead of perpetuating this cycle, we must choose a better way to govern, and that means passing each bill separately and allowing as many amendments as necessary to improve those bills. An open and transparent funding process is the best way to reflect the will of the American people, and they want and deserve that from their Congress.
LOCAL SCHOOL LEADING AMERICAN EDUCATION
I want to take this opportunity to recognize the great work of the parents, teachers, and students at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST). U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the school the #3 High School in the United States. GSMST is a public charter school and a fine example of the effectiveness of local control. Washington did not make GSMST succeed. Local leadership, in connection with the school administration, parent and teachers developed a formula that worked for students. GSMST has a 100% participation rate in Advanced Placement programs and scored a perfect score on Math Proficiency, English Proficiency, and College Readiness under the U.S. News rubric. GSMST is a diverse school, with a 71% minority enrollment and more than a quarter of the student population coming from an economically disadvantaged background. I hope you will join me in congratulating GSMST on their top ranking.
GWINNETT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE VISITS DC
It was my great pleasure to host the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., last week. Many Congressional leaders made it a point to come and visit with the Chamber on issues that are important to our communities. Representative Bob Gibbs (OH-07), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, spoke with the group about the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) and how the process will unfold. WRDA is key to maintaining Lake Lanier in a way that serves all of our local needs. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan also hosted the Gwinnett Chamber in the Capitol to discuss the future of congressional budget policy. Finally, staff from the House Committee on Financial Services met with Chamber members to discuss the avalanche of complicated regulations flowing from the misguided passage of the Dodd-Frank regulatory bill.
The Chamber brought common sense Georgia values to leaders in Washington. The feedback that the Chamber shared with Georgia Representatives and Senators will be valuable as we move through this year’s agenda in Congress.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan joins Rep. Woodall and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce in U.S. Capitol Building
WORKING FOR STRONG WATER POLICY SOLUTIONS
Water policy is beginning to take center stage in Washington. This week, the U.S. Senate took steps to move the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 to the floor in the coming weeks. This recurring bill is one of the most significant pieces of legislation related to water policy in the eastern half of the United States. The bill sets policy for the Civil Works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as authorizes new Civil Works projects. This year’s proposed legislation could potentially have a significant impact on water systems in the State of Georgia and around the country. I want you to know that I am working hard to make sure that the Seventh District of Georgia comes out a winner in this bill.
I have taken a number of steps to ensure that all of our water issues are addressed. Over the past year, I have talked with Governor Nathan Deal, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, my colleagues in the Georgia delegation, and regional and national directors of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about crafting a solid plan to responsibly manage the water supply from the ACF river basin in the future. In fact, this week, I met with the Mobile District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C., to discuss next steps to ensure that water from Lake Lanier will continue to flow to millions of Georgia residents. In that meeting, I was told that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making steady progress on updating its water control manual for operation of the ACF system. I urged them to continue their efforts, and I look forward to meeting the challenges that lay ahead.
THE WEEK AHEAD
When I first came to Congress in 2011, my colleagues and I changed the Congressional calendar to ensure all Members would have at least one week each month – a District Work Week - to return to their constituencies. This week I am back in the Seventh District for the latest District Work Week, touring small businesses, visiting with students, meeting with Farm Bureaus, and discussion issues one-on-one with constituents in my Georgia office. The District Work Week is an excellent way for constituents to hold their members accountable as well as a way for Members of Congress to remember who the boss is: you.
Thank you for all that you do to keep America strong.
Member of Congress