Washington Watch - 5/31/16
While reflecting on the sacrifice of those who have lost their lives in service to America and the defense of freedom, James A. Garfield once said, “For love of country they accepted death.” In this brief yet poignant statement, we find a reverent truth that captures the essence of Memorial Day. As Americans, we have always cherished freedom and – even more so – the ones who gave their lives to deliver it. Throughout our history, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and loved ones have all been willing to put their own lives and responsibilities on hold to ensure liberty was preserved and passed on to the next generation. They understood it wasn’t promised; they were aware of the personal risk; and for love of country they were undeterred. On Memorial Day we honor the legacy of those men and women who did not return home. For their country, for their fellow Americans, and for the sake of freedom across the globe, they gave their lives in service to others.
Forsyth County Memorial Day Ceremony
The Seventh District has been home to many of these heroes, and I’m humbled by their sacrifice and the strength of their families. Our community is a remarkable place with remarkable people – none more so than those we honor today. I am forever grateful.
- Forsyth County News. Annual Memorial Day ceremony set for Friday in Cumming
- Gwinnett Daily Post. County pays tribute to fallen vets this Memorial Day weekend
Last Wednesday, my colleagues and I approved the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. This bill is a positive step for Georgia, and for several reasons, it’s also a positive step for Congress. First of all, it restores the biennial process of approving a water resources bill. For years, the needs of America’s harbors, ports, dams, and other infrastructure were mired in the same gridlock that consumes much of Washington. We would be happy to pass a bill every few years. Unfortunately, that prevented Congress from deauthorizing obsolete projects, effectively overseeing ongoing work, and authorizing important new work. Getting back on track to pass a bill every two years will lead to better governance and more responsible stewardship of our tax dollars. Secondly, this bill will help create and maintain jobs and enable our water infrastructure to remain competitive in our global economy. I’m looking forward to moving this bill to the House floor and clearing it in short order for the president’s signature.
Last week, the House voted unanimously to go to conference with the Senate to work on a unified funding bill to combat the Zika virus. As you all may know, both the House and Senate recently passed separate Zika funding packages, and now both chambers will get together to iron out the differences in their respective bills. The product of the conference committee will be a single funding bill that provides additional resources on top of the roughly $600 million that’s already been allocated to various federal agencies charged with preventing, and if necessary, responding to a Zika outbreak in the U.S. I hope to see members of the Zika conference committee and their staffs begin work immediately so that a final bill can be quickly passed when both chambers return to Washington after this District work period.
- Washington Examiner. Congress Heads to Conference on Zika Funds
- Bloomberg. House Republicans Urges Fast Action on Zika Conference Committee
Amidst all of the other legislative activity last week was an important hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee entitled: “Iran Nuclear Deal Oversight: Implementation and its Consequences.” The nuclear agreement with Iran, in which President Obama traded permanent sanctions relief for a temporary delay in Iran’s nuclear program, is dangerous for our nation’s security and erroneously assumes that Iran is telling the truth about its past and current nuclear program. That is why it’s essential for the House to continue keeping tabs on an emboldened and increasingly aggressive Iran and to draw attention to the misguided choices of the Obama Administration, which has gone above and beyond the four corners of the nuclear deal to accommodate Iran by purchasing excess heavy water.
And I want to point out that it’s not just Republicans who are concerned about the Obama Administration’s concessions to Iran. The highest ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY), said “we need to make sure it’s [Iran nuclear deal] implemented to the letter.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Iran cannot be allowed to shirk its responsibilities under the nuclear agreement, and our country must hold Iran accountable for its continued aggression in the Middle East.
- CNN. Lawmakers press Obama officials on Iran nuclear deal
- CNS News. State department official sidesteps queries on reauthorizing Iran sanctions
- NPR. John Kerry’s awkward push for investment in Iran
The Transportation Security Subcommittee held a hearing on Thursday addressing the issue of long TSA check-point wait times at our nation’s major airports. Since our hometown airport here in Atlanta is also the world’s busiest airport, long wait times have a particularly oversized effect on us. The easy answer from some of my colleagues is to throw more money at the problem; but the TSA’s funding was already increased in FY16. Clearly, more money doesn’t mean better service. What we need is a commitment from TSA to do better, and I’m pleased that the committee held this hearing to show TSA how it can hold itself to a higher standard and best serve the travelling public.
The good news for those of us who use Hartsfield regularly is that the airport is already experimenting with a new screening procedure that will shorten wait-times for passengers. And the TSA is expected to launch its new My TSA App in June to provide passengers around the country with real-time updates on wait times. What’s more, this might be a great time for Hartsfield to consider moving away from TSA security and towards privatization. We know that airports with privatized security screeners – like San Francisco and Kansas City – have shorter wait times and are more efficient and effective. But even before that might happen, I’m happy to say that the House Homeland Security Committee is already taking steps to address the TSA problem with a new bill, the “Checkpoint Optimization and Efficiency Act of 2016.” I look forward to this bill coming to the House floor soon.
- CNN. Experimental TSA screening lanes open for the first time
- CBS News. TSA chief on lines: “we have a challenge this summer”
- Yahoo News. The surprising reason airport delays are suddenly so bad
- CNN. A simple solution to the TSA breakdown
I hope your Memorial Day was a special one. We are truly blessed to be Americans.
Member of Congress