Washington Watch - 5/2/16
Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 699, the “Email Privacy Act,” which guarantees digital communications (e.g., emails) the same Fourth Amendment protections as physical communications (e.g., letters). If this seems like common sense; it's only because it is. The problem is that the current law governing electronic privacy protections was passed in 1986—well before email became a critical and ubiquitous communication tool. Because Congress hasn’t updated this law, emails have been accessible to law enforcement authorities without a warrant. Under H.R. 699, the authorities must get a warrant to access emails or other digital communications that are more than 180 days old. This is legislation I have been pushing for more than two years, and I am thrilled to see that the efforts of my colleagues and I have finally paid off and brought this measure one step closer to becoming the law of the land.
- Reuters. Email privacy bill unanimously passes
- Forbes. Email privacy act requiring warrants from feds passes House
Last week I had the privilege of spending time with dozens of Gwinnettians for the annual Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce meeting in Washington, D.C. These folks are small business owners and distinguished members of our community, and thankfully for all of us, they are willing to take time away from their families and their businesses to share with me the needs of the 7th District and how the government can do a better job serving our friends and neighbors.
The Chamber members met with a number of my colleagues, including Chairman John Ratcliffe (R-TX) and Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who spoke with us about how their committees are working to protect our homeland from terrorism and ensure that we have a strong and growing economy. Hearing the perspectives of members of Congress from other parts of the country is a great way for those of us in the 7th District to learn how we can work together across state and ideological lines to make American better tomorrow than it is today.
Last week the House exercised its authority under the Congressional Review Act to formally disapprove of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) rewrite of the fiduciary rule. I’m sure by now you all are familiar with this new rule, as I’ve discussed it in previous newsletters and town hall meetings. The Obama Administration has portrayed the new rule as a necessary change to protect Americans from dishonest retirement planners, but I take issue with that characterization for a number of reasons.
The first is that I believe the best way to protect hard-working Americans is to put policies in place that foster competition and increase choices, and I’ve heard from retirement advisors in our area at companies like State Farm who have told me the new rules will end up limiting choices for folks who are trying to save for retirement. Limiting choices and making it harder to save for retirement hurts Americans; it doesn't protect them. It’s also troubling to me that the Obama Administration believes folks in our area can trust bureaucrats at the DOL more than we can trust our friends and neighbors who serve our community as financial advisors. Maybe folks in other parts of the nation have those concerns. But I don’t believe that’s the case in the Seventh District, and I was pleased to join a majority of my House colleagues in support of the disapproval resolution.
- Investment News. House Votes to Kill DOL Fiduciary Rule
- Wall Street Journal. House Republicans vote to block new rule on retirement advice
- ThinkAdvisor. House Votes to Block DOL Fiduciary Rule
The House also took action last week to promote U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in what is increasingly becoming a global marketplace. The bill, H.R. 4923, the “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act,” will reduce costs on domestic manufacturers by establishing a process to reduce tariff rates on certain imports that are not readily available in the U.S. Right now, those tariff rates are operating as border taxes on our manufacturers and making it harder for them to sell American-made products, grow their business, and create more jobs right here at home. While the House is working on additional solutions to help U.S. manufacturers compete, like reforming our corporate tax code and streamlining our excessive regulatory structure, I’m pleased that an overwhelming number of members agreed that H.R. 4923 was a common-sense, first step towards creating a more level playing field for U.S. manufactures and workers, and I look forward to seeing move through the Senate and receive a Presidential signature.
- The Hill. House Easily Passes Tariff Relief Bill
- Bloomberg. House Votes to Let Manufacturers Seek Lower Import Tariffs
Before I boarded a plane to head back to D.C. for last week’s business on Capitol Hill, I had the pleasure of speaking with a dedicated group of local leaders here in the 7th District through the Council for Quality Growth. I appreciate the partnership of the Council in all of my work on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and I appreciate the invitation to speak with their members. Jackson EMC was a great host, and we had a great exchange of ideas about how to move America's infrastructure forward.
Rep. Rob Woodall joins James Touchton, the Director of Policy and Government Affairs, with the Gwinnett Council for Quality Growth
From transportation issues, water infrastructure, to healthcare, no one works together to achieve excellence better than the 7th District, and that’s because we’re a community of individuals that show up – time and again – for whatever the issue at hand may be. We’re successful not because our politics are always aligned, but because our goals are. The message I am able to share in Washington on your behalf carries weight because of the results here at home that validate our local approach and partnership. Thanks again for all you do.
Last week, the House Armed Services Committee approved one of the most important bills that Congress will consider all year—the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It’s no secret that the world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place, with the persistence of terror groups like ISIS and myriad other threats and challenges facing America and her allies. That stark reality makes this annual defense authorization bill, which provides our men and women in uniform with the equipment, resources, weapons systems, and training they need to successfully complete their missions around the world, all the more important.
While this legislation benefits our nation’s military as a whole, it also protects two programs that are important to the State of Georgia: it prevents the retirement of the A-10 Warthog, a crucial close air support aircraft which flies out of Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, and, in an amendment approved in Committee offered by fellow Georgia Representative Austin Scott, it also prevents the retirement of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), a vital battlefield intelligence aircraft that is based out of Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. These two programs are no doubt important to these two Georgia military installations, the servicemen and women that serve on them, and their families, but I’m very glad that the Committee as a whole recognized their importance and unique role in our nation’s broader military posture.
Because this is such an important bill, it is also very important that we get the process for considering it right. With a base bill that is the product of extensive collaboration between both sides of the aisle on the Committee and over 300 amendments debated, it’s no wonder this year’s NDAA was approved by the Committee on resounding 60-2 vote. While Congress is divided on a number of different issues, and I am always very proud of the Committee’s robust and inclusive drafting and amendment process—the result is a victory for our nation’s military and American democracy, and I could not be more excited for the full House to take up this important measure in the coming weeks.
I’m happy to be back in Georgia this week and spending time listening to and learning from all corners of the 7th District. I’ll be visiting local small businesses, meeting with community leaders, and doing what I love best about this job – talking with the young people of our community about how they can be the future leaders of America.
If you'd like to invite me to visit your group, tour your business, or meet with your students during a future District Work Week, please contact me. You can call me at (202) 225-4272 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we are making a difference.
Member of Congress