Washington Watch - 5/22/17
Last week was National Police Week, and I have to say that it was a tremendous honor to see so many law enforcement officials – men and women from all over the country and from all types of jurisdictions – small town sheriffs, big city detectives, state park police, and more converge on Washington, D.C. These men and women, and their families, came to Washington to pay tribute to their fallen brethren and to advocate for legislation that will honor their work and their sacrifice. The House responded with two bills: H.R. 115, the “Thin Blue Line Act,” making killing a state or local law enforcement officer an aggravating circumstance when considering federal death penalty sentences, and H.R. 1039, the “Probation Officer Protection Act,” providing federal parole officers with the ability to arrest those who would obstruct the ability of parole officers to do their sworn duty.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 51 officers have been killed so far in 2017 – 3 of them in Georgia. The men and women of the 7th District who so bravely go to work every day to protect us from criminals are owed a debt of gratitude. The observance of National Police Week is a reminder to all of us to remember to thank a police officer the next time we see them walking the beat in our hometowns and protecting those of us who call the 7th District home.
- White House. Honoring law enforcement this National Police Week
- 11 Alive. Police departments honor their fallen on Peace Officer Memorial Day
Sharing stories with my colleagues from different states across the nation about all the great things we have going on in Georgia is one of my favorite things to do in Washington. So often, due to our amazing local leadership, we in Georgia have model programs that pave the way for better outcomes nationwide. Last week, another model local program was honored: Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute. As you all may have heard, Winship recently received the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) comprehensive cancer center designation, a distinction reserved for the top one percent of U.S. cancer centers. The honor was bestowed upon Winship for reducing the cancer burden in Georgia through its laboratory research, clinical trial programs, and population-based science. We are so very fortunate to have a world-class cancer center right in our own backyard, and I hope that you all will join me in congratulating the folks over at Emory University and the Winship Cancer Institute on this remarkable achievement. These are our friends and neighbors working hard every day for us and our families, and that hard work is paying off for all of America.
- Atlanta Journal Constitution. Winship Cancer Institute Receives top designation
- Emory News Center. Winship awarded NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center status
Last week in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, we held two hearings on issues that directly affect the hundreds of thousands of constituents that I represent in our district. The first hearing was focused on the transformational reform proposal being championed by Chairman Bill Shuster and President Donald Trump that would incentivize users of America’s air space to invest private capital – rather taxpayer dollars and the cumbersome bureaucracy associated with them – to modernize and operate it. This proposal would keep the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in charge of safety regulation and would retain Congress’s important oversight role of the aviation industry, but it would allow the stakeholders who use the airspace to invest their own dollars to supply the technology that supports America’s aviation industry into the 21st century. Before too long, I expect to receive proposed legislative text that would make this change and, as always, I encourage your input. The rest of the world is out in front on this issue, and this year is our opportunity to put America back in front. Our other hearing centered on water infrastructure – specifically, how we can leverage best practices and public-private investments to improve water quality and ensure that local communities have the clean drinking water they need to spur economic growth. These conversations will continue and intensify as we work with the White House and begin to craft the President’s major infrastructure package. The President wants to see world-class roads, bridges, water treatment, water delivery, water conservation, aviation, broadband, and more. I look forward to working with him to deliver on these promises, and one hearing at the time, we will ensure that we are squeezing maximum efficiency and leverage out of each new infrastructure dollar.
- Bloomberg News. Aviation debate heats up as carriers pan dysfunctional FAA
For all that you hear about divisiveness and partisan politics in Washington, you’ll be pleased to hear that that is not always the case. Bipartisanship is alive and well in the Capitol, and members from both parties join together every day to address the important issues confronting our nation. A great example is H.R. 1677, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017,” which will put in place sanctions on the government of Syria and any individual or organization supporting the Syrian government’s human rights abuses. The bill will force foreign companies and banks to choose between doing business with Syria criminal regime or doing business with the United States. Bashar al-Assad’s murderous actions have not only crippled his country, but have also led to the deaths of nearly half a million innocent people. This bill makes it clear that the United States will not stand for the continued slaughter of the Syrian people and will not tolerate the human rights violations of brutal regimes. I was pleased to see members from both sides of the aisle collaborate to pass H.R. 1677 and reaffirm our commitment to peace and justice.
- The Hill. House votes to impose new Syria sanctions
- House Foreign Affairs Committee. House passes Syria sanctions bill
Thanks again to all of you who participated in the telephone town hall meeting last Thursday. It was another busy week on Capitol Hill, but being able to take time to visit with folks back home is always uplifting, and it is always tremendously helpful to me as I seek to best use your voting card. I hope you found it useful as well. If you weren’t able to join us this time, though, please know we do these events regularly, so keep an eye out here in my weekly newsletter, on my website, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and other platforms. Whether sharing the most recent legislation moving in Washington, taking your questions, or getting valuable feedback from you, I’m grateful for your partnership, and look forward to speaking with you again soon.
I’ve been fortunate to visit with the Cumming American Legion on many occasions, and I can tell you, they are an impressive group who care deeply about each other, their fellow veterans, and their community. On Saturday, they celebrated Armed Forces Day by holding a BBQ fundraiser to benefit local youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Boys State, and local ROTC programs. They’ve long been committed to these programs, and this is yet another example of how they successfully serve their neighbors. During the event, veterans who are not already a part of the Legion had an opportunity to visit with members and learn more about the process of becoming involved as well. If you weren’t able to take part in this event, I hope you’ll be able to catch the next one and visit with these great folks in person. I promise you it’ll put a smile on your face! I’d encourage anyone with an interest to learn more about their organization and visit their website here.
- Forsyth County News. Cumming American Legion celebrating Armed Forces Day with BBQ Fundraiser
I don’t envy those with the responsibility of narrowing down the field of dedicated educators in our community for the honor of Teacher of the Year in our great State, but nevertheless, I’m so proud of each of them, and especially this year’s finalist, Ms. Jamie Lynn McFarland. Ms. McFarland teaches 3rd through 5th grade at Rock Springs Elementary in Lawrenceville and has already earned recognition as Gwinnett Teacher of the Year. It is teachers like Jamie who have such a profound impact on so many young lives that make education in our part of the world second to none. Thank you, Jamie – and all of our amazing teachers throughout the Seventh District – and best of luck!
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Gwinnett teacher named finalist for Georgia Teacher of the Year
This week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to mark-up and pass my bill, H.R. 2547, the “Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act of 2017.” You might remember that about a year and a half ago I shepherded a bill into law allowing all VA physicians to conduct physicals for the purpose of issuing Department of Transportation medical certificates. Since that bill became law, I have been working with the VA and the DOT to ensure that the law is working for our veterans. After consultation with stakeholders and my colleagues, I’m happy to say that I’m offering another bipartisan bill to expand the types of medical professionals who can sign-off on these certificates. H.R. 2547 would allow advanced practice nurses, chiropractors, medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and physician assistants to perform these exams. This common-sense addition would expand opportunities for veterans, lower costs for the VA and veterans, and ensure that the law is working as it was intended.
The full House is expected to pass a bill, H.R. 953, the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act,” which would prevent the EPA from requiring unnecessary double-testing and reviewing of certain pesticides under the Clean Water Act if those pesticides have already been tested, reviewed, and approved by the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Congress absolutely wants to ensure that our water is clean and that human health is protected, and I’m convinced that we can do both these things without having to increase bureaucratic red tape and costs to consumers.
We are also going to debate and pass two critically important bills that combat the scourge of sexual abuse and exploitation, H.R. 1761, the “Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017,” and H.R. 1973, the “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017.” Protecting our children from abuse and appropriately punishing those adults who exploit those children are values that every American shares. These aren’t partisan bills, they are bipartisan expressions of our deeply held moral beliefs, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make them law.
Member of Congress