Washington Watch - 4/8/19
Last week, the new leadership of the House of Representatives chose to abdicate one of its primary duties when the House Budget Committee – whose chief responsibility is to produce a federal budget – chose not to present, much less try to pass, a budget. While the Senate has often stumbled in its effort to present and pass a budget, the House has always fulfilled this commitment. Last week marks the first time since I have been in Congress that the House Budget Committee didn’t even try.
Drafting a real federal budget requires Members to make difficult choices. It requires Members to decide which programs they want to support, which programs need reform, and which programs may need to go away. Reconciling promises with revenue is always difficult, but it is why the House Budget Committee was created more than 40 years ago.
I have the utmost respect for Budget Chairman John Yarmouth (D-KY), and I absolutely sympathize with the challenges he faces trying to marry the policy priorities of the most radical fringes of his Democratic caucus who want massive new spending programs with the reality that the budget requires these policies be paid for with massive new tax hikes. Instead of taking these policy options seriously and having the tough discussions necessary, the new Democratic Leadership elected to ignore its duty all together.
No matter which side of the aisle you sit on, we all know $22 trillion of debt is unsustainable, and we all know trillion-dollar annual deficits are unacceptable. As Republicans and Democrats continue to blame each other for how we got here – we both agree that we must do better. To move our country in the right direction, we need to have tough conversations about taxes and government spending. That conversation simply can’t happen if we ignore our duty to craft a budget.
I raised these concerns with my Democratic colleagues in my closing remarks during the markup of their bill, which you can watch by clicking the picture below.
Rep. Woodall urges his colleagues to make tough decisions during the House Budget Committee markup of H.R. 2021
- The New York Times. House Democrats Punt on Budget Resolution, Turning Instead to Spending Increases
Following February’s lower than average hiring numbers, the recently released March jobs report shows that the labor market is still strong and that companies are continuing to hire in communities across America! In fact, the March report continues the 102-month job growth streak. With 196,000 jobs added last month and the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.8% – a rate just above the 49-year low of 3.7% we saw last fall – the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s March report exceeded many economists’ expectations. Despite calls from some in Congress to raise taxes, enact unrealistic proposals that seek to wipe out entire sectors of the economy, and put in place a government-controlled health care system, last month’s report is once again a testament to the fact that our workers continue to be the driving force behind our economy’s productivity and innovation. It is my sincere hope that those who remain discouraged about finding good paying jobs or those who want to make a career change will continue to capitalize on these positive reports.
- Wall Street Journal. U.S. Jobs Grew by 196,000 in March as Hiring Bounces Back
Undeniably, there are few issues more divisive in this country than the rights of unborn children. The idea that an infant born alive after an attempted abortion should receive the same degree of care that would be offered to any other child born prematurely should be a shared, universal belief. Sadly, partisan politics has prevailed on this issue as Speaker Pelosi and Democratic Leadership, for months, have denied requests to bring H.R. 962 – a bill that would codify protections for newborns nationwide – to the floor for a vote.
That is why I joined my colleagues in filing a discharge petition to bring H.R. 962 to the House floor. This is a procedural tool that allows legislation that has been referred to committee for a period of at least 30 legislative days to be voted on if the discharge petition receives 218 signatures. While I would much rather have this bill go through the markup, debate, and amendment process, Democratic leadership has chosen to ignore Americans’ call to action on protecting the right to life for newborns. As such, I added my name to this petition, and I will continue to work to protect the sanctity of life as we progress through the 116th Congress.
In 1994, Congress recognized the need to address the disturbingly high rate of women who were victims of domestic and sexual violence committed against them by an intimate partner. Congress confronted this issue by passing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which created a framework of criminal justice reforms and community-based solutions with the aim of preventing and responding to violence against women.
Since the original passage of VAWA, there has been a significant decrease in the rate of violence committed against women. That is great news! However, each reauthorization of this successful program has grown increasingly political, and is unfortunately, diluting the law’s protections for women and girls beyond Congress’s original intent. And in last week’s reauthorization of VAWA, we saw much of the same.
Rather than putting legislation on the House floor that reflects our shared values and demonstrates to the American people the seriousness with which we consider this issue, House Democrats brought a bill seeking to divide. Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) led a last-ditch effort on behalf of House Republicans to offer a clean reauthorization of VAWA, which I supported. Unfortunately, only one Democrat joined our effort – an effort that would surely be signed into law by the President and would protect women and girls from violence.
It is time for us to move away from political gamesmanship and get serious about legislating. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have grown as tired as I have of voting for messaging bills that provide no pathway for improving American’s lives and will instead decide to work in a bipartisan way to achieve our shared goals.
- Roll Call. Violence Against Women Act clears House
In my interview with Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball, we discussed how House Democrats are failing to introduce a budget, how President Trump will deliver on immigration and border security, and why Congress needs a bipartisan infrastructure deal in 2019. You can watch my full interview with The Hill TV below:
Last week marked the 70th Anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was made even more special by Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg’s address to a Joint Session of Congress. Representing the 29 members of the NATO Alliance, Secretary General Stoltenberg is the first ever leader of an international organization to deliver a joint address. The occasion was an opportunity to remark on the Alliance’s successes and how the United States and other member countries can continue our work to preserve peace around the globe. NATO is our most important military alliance, beginning as a deterrent to the Soviet Union, but has since stopped genocide in the Balkans, fought terrorism in the Middle East, and promoted freedom around the world. In fact, Secretary General Stoltenberg reminded us of this very fact in his opening remarks:
“Our Alliance was created by people who had lived through two devastating world wars.
They knew only too well the horror, the suffering, and the human and material cost of war.
They were determined that this should never happen again.
And they were also determined to stand up to the expansion of the Soviet Union.
Which was taking control of its neighbors.
And oppressing their people.
So, they founded NATO.
With a clear purpose.
To preserve peace and to safeguard freedom.
With an iron-clad commitment by all members of the Alliance to protect each other.
They made a solemn promise.
One for all and all for one.”
Undeniably, our commitment to NATO and our Allies have fared our great nation well over the last seven decades, and I certainly look forward to continuing our partnership with NATO in the years to come. As such, I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary General Stoltenberg for his leadership and for ensuring that NATO is well positioned to keep peace for years to come.
Last week, the House passed a previously-approved Senate bill under the 1973 War Powers Act to direct President Trump to end U.S. military actions in Yemen within 30 days. While I have called for Congress to debate and vote on a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) for our Armed Forces in the Middle East, and I supported a resolution last Congress explicitly stating that Congress had not authorized the use of military force in Yemen, I did not support this measure.
Why? The War Powers Act was designed to stop the Presidential abuse of military force, not to score political points. Currently, there are no U.S. forces in Yemen involved in hostilities as a part of the Saudi-led coalition. Our participation in this coalition is to provide logistical and intelligence support to the coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels – nothing more.
While the resolution last week was just a political stunt, the problem in Yemen is very real. I worry that the loss of U.S. presence would exacerbate the very problems those in favor of the resolution seek to end. Proponents of withdrawal argue that too many civilians in Yemen have been killed during the conflict. That’s true. Without U.S. assistance in helping the Saudi’s properly target their military activities, however, I expect civilian deaths to increase. Without U.S. assistance, Iran will have carte blanche in the region to support the anti-Democracy Houthi rebels who overthrew a legitimate Yemeni government and who have no commitment to international norms of how a war should be conducted. Our withdrawal would not solve a problem, it would only make it worse. I expect the President to veto this joint resolution, and I hope Congress can come together to have a serious debate about how we should use our power to craft a new AUMF, rather than haphazardly rebuking the President.
Keeping our heroes safe is one of my highest priorities.
There are more than 20 million veterans in our nation, with nearly 700,000 living right here in Georgia.
We all have a role to play in preventing suicide among service members and veterans in our communities. Every person should ask themselves how they can help because, together, we can win this fight.
To learn more about how you can “Be There” for veterans, I encourage you to visit www.BeThereforVeterans.com and click the image below.
As most of you know, last week was Spring Break week for Gwinnett and Forsyth County Schools. While many folks made trips all around the country during their break, it makes me proud that we had over 170 families from the Seventh District come to Washington, D.C. Many of these groups came to visit my D.C. Office, and it was my great pleasure to meet with some of them in between votes and committee meetings. Seeing folks from back home in our Capitol reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in a community of doers. There is far more that unites us than divides us, and I see that every time I interact with folks from the Seventh District. To those of you who made the journey to D.C., thank you for visiting! If you’re ever interested in making a trip to Washington, you can submit a tour request here.
When Democrats took the majority in the House of Representatives this past November, they brought with them several big ideas to change the country. Perhaps the most significant of which is the “Green New Deal.” Championed by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the “Green New Deal” is a resolution calling for the federal government to act on climate change by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, creating high-paying jobs, and ending social injustice within 10 years. The idea is far reaching and would change significant parts of our economy and civil society, if implemented. Here is what some of you have written about it:
David from Norcross
The Green New Deal is a promising starting place for what true U.S. climate leadership could (and should) look like. In this moment we urgently need to rapidly scale down greenhouse gas emissions to zero, provide for millions of well-paying jobs that don’t harm the planet, advance equity and justice for communities on the frontline of climate change, and more. And we need to pay for it all. We must ensure the Green New Deal advances justice for those most impacted by the climate crisis and holds accountable those entities that fueled the crisis for decades: namely by making the fossil fuel industry pay. That is why I urge you to ensure the suite of policies needed to address the climate crisis creates a path to holding the industry liable for decades of abuse.
The Green New Deal is a floor, not a ceiling for just climate leadership, and if solutions to the climate crisis are to succeed, they must address the fundamental root of our climate crisis -- the fossil fuel industry. Making the industry pay is not only a practical solution; it is also the most fundamentally just way to fund the innovative solutions we need to survive.
Thomas from Cumming
As your constituent, I'm asking you to oppose the so-called Green New Deal. This legislation would destroy 10 MILLION good-paying American jobs, gut our military, hike tax rates as high as 70%, cost taxpayers up to $93 TRILLION, eliminate nearly 90% of the U.S. energy sector, practically outlaw air travel, and give my tax dollars to those "unwilling to work." And if that's not bad enough, it would cause gas prices to skyrocket to over $5 a gallon and ban cars!
The Green New Deal would hurt millions of American workers and wreck America's economy! Representative Woodall, please stand with your constituents and FreedomWorks activists like me and oppose the socialist Green New Deal!
Lisa from Lawrenceville:
I urge you to vote against S. J. Res. 8 and H. Res. 109, commonly known as the Green New Deal, if a vote on the legislation occurs. The Green New Deal would be a disaster for American taxpayers, and its astronomical cost would bankrupt the nation. Just two of the proposals contained in the Green New Deal, – rebuilding the energy grid and retrofitting homes for energy efficiency – are estimated to cost almost $10 trillion over 10 years. Other proposals, such as a federal jobs guarantee, “free” college tuition, and universal healthcare, would cost even more and have nothing at all to do with environmental protection. These extravagant government handouts would undermine the American principles of free enterprise and individual freedom and dangerously increase dependence on the federal government. What’s more, to pay for the Green New Deal, you would have to raise taxes on every American to astronomical levels and call on the Federal Reserve to print more money, which would lead to dangerous hyperinflation that would devastate our economy.
While protecting the environment is important, the expensive, half-baked, radical, and untested policy proposals in the Green New Deal are not the solution. Again, I strongly urge you to oppose the Green New Deal.
Harlan from Suwanee:
Vote for the green new deal. Our planet and our country are in trouble. We need aggressive policies to counter climate change. It will cost us more money and cost us lives to wait until it's too late.
There is no doubt that the “Green New Deal” has some elements that are laudable, but I fervently reject the broad solutions it puts forth as a way for us to achieve those goals. Estimates from AEI put the cost of implementing the ideas behind the “Green New Deal” in the tens of trillions—between $50 trillion and $90 trillion. To put that into context, today our entire national debt sits at around $22 trillion. As we all know, the federal government can only get money from one source – the American taxpayer – and the Green New Deal’s policy mandates would ultimately result in the federal government levying insurmountable taxes on American families. In addition to the increased tax liability that each American family would have to shoulder, the American Action Forum estimates the cost of household energy bills could go up as much as 286%.
There is much left to be said of the “Green New Deal,” but the truth is, lawmakers have not yet reached a consensus as to how a “Green New Deal” might come to fruition. In fact, the Senate held a vote on its version of the resolution two weeks ago, and the sponsors of the resolution did not even vote for it, they voted “present” instead. That’s right, the bill’s supporters are so unsure of how the bill will work in real life that they punted when they had a chance to vote for it.
The “Green New Deal” is a resolution rooted in ideas, but it provides no real way to achieve them. As a package, I simply cannot support it. That said, one policy goal and element at the time, moved forward in a bipartisan, bicameral way, I am sure that we can find common ground.
Each year, I have the privilege of hosting dozens of high school students in the 7th District as they compete in the annual Congressional Art Competition. And every year I am amazed that the level of talent continues to surpass the year before. This year is special in that we have a record number of entries. Over 120 students have chosen to participate and share their artistic skills. Therefore, in addition to having my panel of judges choose the finalists, I also want to hear from you, my constituents, in our first ever Constituent’s Choice Award. Click the image below to choose your favorite piece!
In our community, we are so fortunate to have the best and brightest young minds looking to contribute to our society, and undeniably, Career Technical Education (CTE) and STEM programs will play a critical role in that effort. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with countless students and groups, both in Washington and here at home, who have shared with me the importance of advancing CTE programming, and I am inspired to see that our youngest generations back home are not only saying yes to those opportunities, but they are excelling while doing so. Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) recently recognized high school students in CTE courses who have succeeded expectations in this area, and I want to extend my congratulations to these students who are continually demonstrating the import role the importance of CTE programs in our schools. Keep up the good work!
- Gwinnett Daily Post. GOOD NEWS FROM SCHOOLS: Discovery High student named Career and Technical Education Student of the year
As we all know, Forsyth County is home to great outdoor spots, including hiking trails, parks, and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. If you are looking for an opportunity to get involved in the great outdoors, Forsyth County Parks & Recreation will be offering free activities, including guided hikes, rock climbing, zip lining, yoga, games, and more during its Spring Festival at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve on Saturday, April 20. Furthermore, Cumming will resume its “Fridays at the Fairgrounds” to take place on the third Friday of the month, that will feature food trucks, vendors, and additional activities. As the spring season moves forward, I encourage you to take this opportunity to explore all of Forsyth’s offered activities and services.
- Forsyth County News. Cumming readies for second year of ‘Fridays at the Fairgrounds’
The House is set to consider two proposals this week: H.R. 1644 and H.R. 2021. These two measures are complicated and partisan, and unfortunately, I’m sad to say, have been rushed through the House on totally party-line votes. H.R. 1644 is being characterized as a bill that will “keep the Internet free” and stop Internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing down your Internet speeds in certain circumstances. What the bill really does, however, is put the government in charge of the Internet. If you want more government regulation and less tech innovation, then H.R. 1644 is the bill for you. If you want entrepreneurs to be able to thrive, create, and maybe build an even better version of the Internet in the future – than H.R. 1644 is anathema to that dream because it will stifle innovation and lead to less investment in cutting-edge Internet technology.
In addition to this short-sighted, anti-innovation bill, the House will be voting on H.R. 2021. I’ve spent my entire Congressional career as a member of the House Budget Committee, and this is the first year that the House Budget Committee has failed to pass a budget. H.R. 2021 isn’t a budget, because House Democrats can’t agree on a budget for the next 10 years. So instead, H.R. 2021 is a two-year discretionary spending caps bill that allows members to side-step the hard decisions about how we’ll spend taxpayer dollars. I’m sad to say that it’s a weak alternative to a real House budget, and I expect to oppose it this week.
Member of Congress