Washington Watch - 5/20/19
As many of you know, lawmakers have worked on both sides of Capitol Hill since the beginning of this year to advance solutions aimed at curtailing skyrocketing prescription drug costs – costs that too many of our friends and neighbors grapple with daily. The good news is that my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a number of bills back in April to thwart the anti-competitive behavior that increased prices. Unfortunately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Leaders chose last week to allow partisan politics to undermine those bipartisan successes that could have delivered solutions to hundreds of thousands of Americans who desperately need relief from costly prescription drugs. Rather than allow the consensus solutions package to move forward, the House Leadership added partisan bills to the package—bills to spend more money on the Affordable Care Act’s failing Navigator program, bills to roll-back the Trump Administration’s expansion of health plan choice, and bills to prohibit states like Georgia from implementing locally-based health solutions.
While those added bills further the partisan Democratic message of “Washington knows best,” they do a disservice to American taxpayers. The added provisions seek to limit consumer choice while increasing spending on expired and failing programs. For that reason, I supported an amendment in the Rules Committee co-sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) that sought to eliminate all of the toxic progressive provisions so that we could move forward with pushing the drug pricing solution bills towards the finish line. I succeeded in passing the amendment out of the Rules Committee, but the Democratic leadership defeated it on the House floor, dooming the passage of the bipartisan drug pricing bills. While I am certainly frustrated by the Democrats decision to unnecessarily stall good policy making in the name of partisan politics, you can be sure that I remain committed to finding a way to move bipartisan solutions forward to drive drug costs down for all Americans.
- Washington Post. The Health 202: Democrats are putting a political pothole in the way of bipartisan drug pricing bills.
During Infrastructure Week, I spoke to both local and national media about the importance of rebuilding our nation’s crumbling transportation systems. In the Atlanta Journal Constitution, I published an op-ed about why I believe our nation should follow Georgia’s lead on infrastructure. I spoke about why the federal government should partner with state and local officials to efficiently use taxpayer money as well as raise awareness about the areas where both Democrats and Republicans agree. So many people are not optimistic about the future. We can get this done.
Click on the images below to hear why Congress needs to make targeted investments in our communities nationwide.
The most recent projection released by the Social Security Board of Trustees showed that the program will be forced to dip into the trust fund to cover the shortfall beginning in 2020, and will deplete the fund in 15 years, forcing a cut in benefits to Social Security recipients should we fail to institute further financing measures. It is not an exaggeration to say that we are approaching a crisis. That is why I was pleased when House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmouth (D-KY) held a hearing entitled “Keeping Our Promise to America’s Seniors: Retirement Security in the 21st Century,” where Members were able to have a productive conversation with our witnesses about pathways forward for increasing the stability of the Social Security program. We found consensus regarding how vital it is to preserve the program, especially for the most vulnerable among us who have limitations on our ability to save for retirement outside Social Security. On a bipartisan basis, we agreed that there is zero appetite for a short-term solution to prop up Social Security, and a strong shared desire to see a comprehensive solution that will increase the lifespan for this program for future generations.
For decades, federal law required American families who adopted children from abroad to go through a lengthy additional process to gain United States citizenship for their adopted children. Unfortunately, many families didn’t know about this extra step. They assumed that because they were U.S. citizens and because the government approved the adoption that the child was automatically given citizenship. So many families were caught in that trap that eventually this law was changed so that since 2001, all children adopted by U.S. families are given a certificate of citizenship automatically with their adoption visa. However, the law only applied to adoptees who were still under the age of 18 in 2000; it did not apply retroactively to those adoptees who faced the same dilemma but had aged into adulthood before the law took effect. This has resulted in tens of thousands of adoptees still lacking U.S. citizenship today, many of which didn’t know they lacked citizenship until well into their adulthood.
To fix this oversight, I have partnered with Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) to introduce the “Adoptee Citizenship Act,” to help the many American families still facing this serious problem. This is a bipartisan, common-sense solution, and I am hopeful we will be able to get this bill to the President’s desk before the end of this Congress.
Watch my interview with KTN Atlanta regarding the “Adoptee Citizenship Act” by clicking the picture below.
Often, many of our debates in Congress focus on what is the appropriate role of government in our daily lives. How large or small a role should the Federal government have in the economy? Should there be a Federal curriculum standard? Or, where can the Federal government be the most appropriate leader? When it comes to the Federal government ensuring the safety and welfare of the American people, however, whether that is from “enemies foreign or domestic” or from hazards we may unknowingly experience in our everyday lives, we all agree that there is certainly a federal role to be played. An example that I hear about regularly is how we can protect human health, specifically relating to the use of pesticides.
Michael from Cumming:
I am writing today as a Farm Bureau member and constituent. I would like to bring two recent reviews of glyphosate done by EPA and Health Canada to your attention. Both regulatory agencies reaffirmed that the herbicide poses no risk to public health and is not likely to be carcinogenic, echoing the more than 40 regulatory agencies world-wide, that made the same determination.
I urge you to continue to support science-based regulation of pesticides by EPA and to support the foundation of pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. Please oppose legislation that bans or restricts pesticide tools that protect our health, safety and sustainability.
Kathy from Suwanee:
Monsanto’s cancer-linked weed killer shouldn’t be anywhere near our food. But tests by EWG have already revealed shockingly high levels of glyphosate in popular oat-based cereals. Glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide in the U.S., and it’s been linked to serious health risks like cancer. But right now, glyphosate is excluded from the routine pesticide monitoring conducted by the USDA. Americans have a right to know if we’re eating Monsanto’s cancer-linked weed killer. I urge you to support the Keep Food Safe from Glyphosate Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
This bill would require the USDA to include glyphosate in its annual pesticide residue testing. It would also dramatically reduce the levels of glyphosate allowed on oats and ban the unnecessary use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant on oats. Experts agree this use is a major cause of glyphosate contamination in oat-based foods, like Cheerios and Quaker Oats.
Please vote YES on the Keep Food Safe from Glyphosate Act of 2019 and stand up for the health of all Americans.
I absolutely share both Michael and Kathy’s desire to preserve our environment and protect human health. And even though they disagree on the policy outcome, both agree that facts and research—rather than political ideology—should drive how we craft America’s science policy.
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in U.S. agriculture and has been studied for decades. Glyphosate is used on more than 100 food crops and a number of non-agricultural products to protect crops and aid in greater production. As Michael mentioned, EPA recently announced that the federally required periodic review of glyphosate is underway and reaffirmed that glyphosate is noncarcinogenic and poses no risk to public health when used as directed. This is similar to the findings of the European Union, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. While the EPA’s regular registration review process for glyphosate—which happens with all pesticides at least every 15 years—is not over, I trust the scientists involved and the process. America has no problem banning dangerous chemicals nor any reluctance to rescind a certification if new science comes to light. Public confidence in our regulatory agencies requires that the agency is strong enough to rely on sound science no matter which way or how hard the winds of public opinion are blowing.
Even the most farsighted observers could not have predicted the advancements we have made in robotics and applied technologies in the past decade, and I am proud to serve as Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Robotics Caucus, along with Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA), to see how our work here in Congress can propel those technologies forward. Equally important is the role that our youngest generations will play in bringing these new technologies to fruition and deploying their usage in new ways. That is why it is so inspiring to see young folks, particularly in our community, excel in this field, and I want to congratulate two Forsyth County elementary students, Landon and Nathan, for receiving the STEM Research Award at the VEX IQ Robotics World Championship! Not many of us can say we carry the title of ‘World Champion’, but for Landon and Nathan, they are certainly worthy of that distinction. I know we are all proud of their work to increase response times for our first responders and emergency personnel.
- Forsyth County News. Their STEM project to help first responders won these Forsyth County students first place at a world championship
This past week was National Police Week, and I hope you will join me in honoring those heroes who have lost their lives in the line of duty along with recognizing those men and women who, each and every day, answer the most noble of callings to serve and protect our communities.
The debt we owe our men and women in uniform, and our servicemen and women, can never be repaid, but there are certainly ways we can aid their transition from our Armed Forces to civilian life. We are fortunate to have a multitude of companies and organizations in our state committed to going the extra mile to hire and serve our veterans, and in fact, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department is working to expand employment opportunities for veterans after their service. Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway recently partnered with the U.S. Army through its Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program which works with the public sector and private companies to provide job interviews and potential employment to soldiers after completing their first term of enlistment and reservists completing their basic training and job training. You can read more about that partnership below, and while it is important we pay tribute to the sacrifice and service of all our law enforcement during National Police Week, I hope we continue to show that appreciation every day.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office partners with Army to offer potential employment to soldiers
As I’ve been saying seemingly week in and week out, the House is gearing up again to move another deeply partisan bill; one which could have brought us together had the House Democrat majority decided that policy was more important than politics. That bill is H.R. 1500, and while it proports to reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it’s really another attempt by House Democrats to change the rules in the middle of the game because they don’t like President Trump. When the Dodd-Frank Act was first passed, Republicans warned that the CFPB was given too much power and was too independent of Congressional oversight. Democrats rejected those concerns when President Obama was in charge of the CFPB, but now that President Trump is in charge, House Democrats seem to have seen the light. H.R. 1500 is an attempt to stop President Trump from being able to use the same powers President Obama did. That may be good partisan politics, but it’s certainly not good public policy.
The good news is that the House Ways and Means Committee is eschewing that kind of rank partisanship at the moment and is bringing a bipartisan retirement savings bill to the floor. H.R. 1994 expands opportunities for hard-working American families to increase their retirement savings and improve the portability of retirement savings vehicles. We all know how important it is for Americans to save for their own retirement, especially given the growing stress on the Social Security trust funds. I’m pleased that we’re having this bipartisan conversation, and I congratulate the leaders of the Ways and Means Committee for taking this bold step forward. I hope that as this bill comes to the House floor, it will retain its bipartisan consensus.
Member of Congress