Washington Watch - 5/30/17
Throughout the past week, we have all been reminded of how incredibly thankful we are for our servicemen and women, because without their sacrifice, our freedoms would not be possible. From Cumming to Snellville, 7th District residents participated in remembrance events throughout the weekend.
My Memorial Day weekend ended yesterday at the Fallen Heroes Memorial in Lawrenceville, but it began last Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery when First Lieutenant Weston Lee was laid to rest. Lieutenant Lee, a Georgia native and graduate of the University of North Georgia, died last month when an IED detonated while he was on a patrol outside of Mosul, Iraq, in support our country’s fight against terrorism. On the cover of his funeral program, the family placed the following quote from General George S. Patton: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.” This Memorial Day in particular, I thank God for Lieutenant Weston Lee and for Specialist Etienne Murphy, an Army Ranger and South Gwinnett High School graduate who lost his life on May 26.
Memorial Day ceremonies at the Gwinnett Fallen Heroes Memorial
We can never repay the debt that all Americans owe to the families of the fallen or to the brave soldiers themselves, but we can ensure that those who serve are cared for and receive needed support from a grateful nation. This past week, the House passed seven bills to improve veterans’ access to quality health care, instill accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and provide a cost-of-living adjustment for veterans receiving disability compensation.
On Wednesday, my former House colleague and current Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney came to the House Budget Committee to testify on behalf of the President’s FY18 Budget proposal. As many of you well know, the power of the purse is vested in the House of Representatives, and while we are in the process of drafting our own budget, it is good to know where the President’s priorities are.
Additionally, the hearing allowed Director Mulvaney the opportunity to clarify some misconceptions about several proposals outlined in the President’s budget. We know we can no longer continue down this path of out of control spending, and I am pleased that we finally have a president in the White House who recognizes our need to bring fiscal discipline back to Washington. This is our moment to implement real budgetary reforms and tax relief for the American people, and I am excited that, under the leadership of Chairman Diane Black (R-TN), we at the Budget Committee will be able to put together a budget that does just that. To see my line of questioning to the OMB Director, click on the picture below.
- The Hill. Mulvaney defends Trump budget before Congress
- Fox News. Donald Trump's budget, spending cuts are 'moral,' Mulvaney says
Last week, my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives sent a clear message to the perpetrators of the abhorrent acts of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, especially the exploitation of children: your days are numbered. Each of the twelve bills brought to the floor last week were overwhelmingly passed in bipartisan fashion, demonstrating our willingness and determination to bring these criminals to justice. No longer will those who engage in sex tourism be able to flout the law, nor will repeat offenders be able to exploit loopholes in our justice system. While I’m saddened that there are people in our world who would exploit innocent children, I’m proud of the work the House was able to accomplish, and I am hopeful our friends in the Senate will consider these bills soon and send them to the President’s desk. We are one step closer to putting an end to one of the most heinous crimes committed here and abroad, and I am confident the House will continue working toward that mission.
- The Hill. House votes to target human traffickers with cash rewards
- The Hill. Technology's role in human trafficking cannot be ignored
I’m proud to report that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a meeting to consider a number of bills last week, including a bipartisan one that I authored. My bill – H.R. 2547, or the “Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act of 2017” – clears the way for veterans who drive commercial vehicles for a living to utilize the full resources of the VA health system for their mandatory physical fitness examinations. You might recall I authored a bill in 2015 that became law and allowed veterans to see their own VA physicians for this purpose. The new bill expands on this idea and includes, in addition to VA physicians, medical professionals within the VA including advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. Given that only 25 of the 50,000+ individuals who are able to perform these physical fitness exams are part of the VA right now, this legislation will help cut costs and limit wait time for veterans in the industry. I was pleased that the committee passed this bill unanimously, and I am hopeful that we can send it to the President’s desk in short order.
- Woodall Press Release. Committee approves Woodall legislation to expand veteran employment opportunities
Among the other legislation we amended and approved were measures to reauthorize critical federal programs, streamline government, and help our nation’s veterans get back to work. And the great news is that we did all of this in a bipartisan way – with Democrats and Republicans working together for the betterment of America. You can read the text of each bill we considered below.
- HR 2518 - The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017: bipartisan legislation to reauthorize, strengthen, and support the United States Coast Guard in its critical missions to save lives, safeguard our shores, protect living marine resources, and help ensure a 21st century maritime transportation system for America.
- HR 2548 - The FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2017: bipartisan legislation to address the rising costs of disasters in the United States, reduce the toll of future losses, and reauthorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the first time in the agency’s history.
- HR 1684 - The Disaster Support for Communities and Homeowners Act: a bill to require the FEMA Administrator to provide recommendations on how common areas of condominiums and housing cooperatives may be eligible for disaster assistance.
- HR 2258 - The Active Duty Voluntary Acquisition of Necessary Credentials for Employment (ADVANCE) Act: a bill to exempt active duty military and reserve personnel with qualifying experience from all or part of the skills test when they try to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
- HR 2593 - The Federal Maritime Commission Authorization Act of 2017: bipartisan legislation to authorize funding for the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and provide reforms to Commission authorities.
Our community is the amazing place it is because of the people. It’s a simple concept, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to always remember those who give of themselves to make our businesses, places of worship, civic organizations, and schools the standard bearer we’ve come to expect. Last week, Forsyth County Schools did just that by honoring 66 men and women who have served their neighbors for years, and in many cases, decades. I’d like to extend my best wishes to these public servants as well, and hope their respective retirements are full of the people and things they love the most. Any time one chapter closes and another begins, a time of reflection is sure to follow. I’m quite certain that varies for each person, but there is one thing they should all feel, and that’s the gratitude of a thankful community. All the best to you and your families!
- Forsyth County News. Forsyth County Schools says goodbye to 66 retirees
So many of my colleagues hear from their constituents just like I hear from all of you, that Americans are looking for ways to get out from under the thumb of a seemingly superfluous federal regulatory regime. The great news is that H.R. 953, the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017,” is a solution to that problem. This bill prohibits the EPA from requiring unnecessary and duplicative pollution permits for certain pesticides. While this might not sound like an important issue, eliminating an unnecessary permitting process will save businesses and local governments money and will ensure that important agriculture treatments are available to American farmers and local mosquito control districts.
For decades, the EPA accepted that a pesticide approved by the EPA under a law called the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) did not need an additional approval from the EPA under the Clean Water Act. In fact, in 2006, the EPA published a rule specifically stating this fact. Unfortunately, court cases since then have required two approvals – one under FIFRA and one under the Clean Water Act. That government red tape is going to make it more difficult for our local governments and the private sector to effectively manage insect and other pest populations that can carry disease. H.R. 953 ensures that if a pesticide is regulated and approved under FIFRA, then it doesn’t have to be approved again under the Clean Water Act. This is common-sense legislation that fixes a court-created problem, not a real-world problem, and I’m proud that it received strong bipartisan support.
CLICK BELOW to watch my floor speech in favor of H.R. 953.
- American Journal of Transportation. House passes Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act
Last week I re-introduced a common sense bill to amend immigration law that cleared the House easily last Congress with strong bipartisan support. Unfortunately, it didn’t pass the Senate before it expired in the 114th Congress, so we are trying again this year. This bill, H.R. 2595, the “Strengthening the DHS Secure Mail Initiative Act,” is the product of bipartisan negotiation and constituent input. This bill offers recipients of green cards and other important immigration documents the option of signature-required delivery by the U.S. Postal Service at no additional taxpayer cost.
Over the years, I’ve spoken with many constituents who were left in the lurch after a life-changing document like a green card got lost in the mail. Something that critical simply can’t be left up to chance. I’m happy to help solve these problems on a case-by-case basis, but my colleagues and I decided to try to solve the problem at its root by establishing new accountability tools for the families depending on these deliveries. Hearing stories from constituents and turning their problems into legislative solutions is one of my favorite parts of this job, and it’s always gratifying to find those legislative solutions by reaching across the aisle. Because good public policy isn’t partisan; I’m happy to say that my House colleague Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2595 along with me. Together, I fully expect to be celebrating the enactment of this simple but meaningful reform before the end of the year.
- Woodall Press Release. Woodall, Perdue lead bipartisan, bicameral legislation to improve immigration system
The unofficial start to summer is here once again, and that means longer days, hotter weather, and all those things we anticipate about the season. I remember well this time of year as a child; how you could literally feel the excitement in the air as you looked towards upcoming months filled with sports, summer jobs, family vacations, and much more. It goes without saying that things are a bit different as we get older, but that excitement is still there. As long as there’s a new generation experiencing these things for the first time with pride in their accomplishments of the past year, and teachers and parents breathing a sigh of relief with even more pride, we’ll all benefit from that energy. I’d like to wish each and every student a happy and productive summer, and I’d like to thank all the teachers, staff, and administrators at our fantastic schools for yet another year of excellence. Have a wonderful summer vacation! You’ve earned it!
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Students, teachers wave farewell, welcome summer
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