Washington Watch - 6/12/17
Last week, the House continued its push to advance pro-growth legislation by approving H.R. 10, the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which will repeal and replace the failed Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. As you know, Dodd-Frank was Congress’ knee-jerk reaction to the 2008 financial crisis. While some of the law’s reforms were needed and admirable, such as those that restricted risky trading practices at our nation’s largest investment banks, much of Dodd-Frank has proven to be a vast expansion of government regulation. It has done very little to actually prevent a future financial crisis or help consumers, yet has unfortunately done a great deal to harm smaller financial institutions and our economy. The “Financial CHOICE Act,” on the other hand, contains a number of important reforms that will both benefit American taxpayers and reinvigorate our economy, including providing regulatory relief for community banks and credit unions, instituting tougher penalties for those who commit financial fraud and insider trading, and making bankruptcy code changes to prevent bailouts of failing financial institutions while insulating our economy in the event that we experience another major financial crisis, to name just a few. I was pleased to join my colleagues in supporting the “Financial CHOICE Act,” and hope that the Senate will act quickly to send these needed improvements to the President’s desk.
The Financial Choice Act
- The Hill. House passes sweeping bill to strip back financial rules
- Politico. House passes sweeping bank deregulation bill
It is no secret that the men and women charged with securing our border are stretched thin as staffing shortages continuously plague the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Department of Homeland Security. That is why I was proud to partner with my colleagues in the House to pass H.R. 2213, the “Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017.” Among the important provisions of the bill, it will help to speed new, highly trained officers into service. With this bill, CBP will be able to streamline the application process for the most qualified candidates so that we can expeditiously fill the vacancies that are currently leaving our borders vulnerable. Among those affected would be current law enforcement officers who have been granted a security clearance at the local or federal levels, and military officers who have also been granted a security clearance, and are trying to transfer to the CBP. I am pleased the House has taken steps to meet the shared goal of Congress and the President to secure our borders and keep our nation safe while putting our nation’s servicemen and first responders to work. I look forward to continuing that mission moving forward.
- The Hill. House votes to allow lie detector exemptions for Border Patrol hiring
- Washington Post. House passes bill to allow some border and customs job applicants to skip polygraph test
- Washington Post. House passes bill to allow some border and customs job applicants to skip polygraph test
Last week was dedicated to rolling out President Trump’s plan to fulfill his campaign promise to fix America’s infrastructure. It was a busy week to be sure. We started on Monday, and I joined President Trump, Vice President Pence, Transportation Secretary Chao, and a number of my Congressional colleagues at the White House for the announcement of his plans to bring the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into the 21st Century. For decades, the FAA has struggled to modernize its equipment and technology due to outdated and burdensome rules and regulations regarding federal procurement. This inefficiency has led to flight delays for travelers and wasted fuel for airlines and pilots. If you’ve ever missed a connecting flight, waited on the tarmac, or spent extra time in the sky circling the airport waiting to land, you know what I’m talking about.
Rep. Rob Woodall joins President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of Transportation Chao, and fellow members of Congress at the White House to kick-off Infrastructure Week.
On Wednesday, the President explained his plan to empower state and local governments to make critical improvements to our nation’s inland waterway system. And on Thursday, Secretary Chao spent several hours testifying before my House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to further explain the problems with our aviation system and the President’s proposed solution.
Secretary Chao, who in 1989 was the Transportation Department’s Deputy Secretary, mentioned that she is encountering the same technology problems today that she encountered nearly thirty years ago. We are literally still using little strips of paper to keep track of planes landing while other nations are using state-of-the-art digital displays and automated systems! This was an eye-opening revelation, and it is totally unacceptable for the great engine of American innovation to be stifled by arbitrary red tape. But we are going to fix it!
The President ended his week, again with me, at the Department of Transportation, where we were joined by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. This event was focused on perhaps our most glaring infrastructure problems like roads, bridges, and rail. The fundamental goal of all of our transportation infrastructure projects is to move people and things safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, in many parts of the country we are achieving neither of these goals. The President said, “the American people deserve the best infrastructure anywhere in the world.” I couldn’t agree more. The President culminated Infrastructure Week with an Executive Order to reduce the time it takes to permit a major infrastructure project, which could generate trillions of dollars in economic benefits. I am very excited to partner with the President and my colleagues in Congress to answer the call of making America’s infrastructure great again, and we’re going to use every tool in our toolbox to make this happen.
- House Transportation Committee. Building a 21st Century Infrastructure
Last week, Forsyth County celebrated the opening of its first Jewish Synagogue, and while votes in Washington kept me away, I couldn’t be happier to extend my congratulations and celebrate with them. To quote Rabbi Mentz, “A good community has the ability to change lives,” and I couldn’t agree more! No one accomplishes that goal better than we do here at home – in so many ways – and his congregation has long been an invaluable partner. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with Rabbi Mentz in person, and I’m so impressed by his passion, leadership, and dedication. Our community is better because of the folks who will now have a wonderful new place to worship together. We root for each other in this part of the world. We celebrate with our friends because we understand that those victories make us all stronger. I’m thrilled that the new home of Chabad of Forsyth is a reality, and once again, I congratulate my friends as they begin this exciting new chapter.
- Forsyth County News. Making history: First Jewish synagogue opens in Forsyth
One of the takeaways from this past election is the desire of the American people to take our nation’s fiscal policy in another direction, and now that we have a unified government, I am optimistic about delivering sound fiscal policy and common sense tax reform to you. Part of that mission is ensuring the right climate for businesses and entrepreneurs to start and grow right here in the United States, which is why last Wednesday, the House Budget Committee held a hearing on the Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Pro-Growth Policies.
I talk to 7th District residents all the time who are working hard to solve real problems in our community, and so many of them would gratefully give their last dollar to help someone in need, to serve a veteran, or to put a first-generation American through college. What folks in our community don’t want to do is give the federal government more money when they believe that what they’ve already given has been thrown away on wasteful spending. That’s why I focused my questions at the Budget hearing on figuring out how to best spend the limited dollars that we have. Is it better to spend more money on loans for 4-year college degrees, or is it better to funnel more people through skilled apprenticeship and 2-year technical colleges? Is it more effective for us to spend money on the interstate highway system or on railroads? Answering these important fiscal questions is what we rely on economic experts to help us decide, and I’m thankful that so many of them have come to the Budget Committee to help us with that task.
The voters have demanded that we change the status quo, and I anticipate doing just that. I believe we can do better by undoing the failed economic policies from the past administration and enacting our common-sense, pro-growth agenda to bolster our nation’s economy.
Please CLICK BELOW to watch my questions at last week’s Budget hearing.
Though we didn’t hear much new information, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee certainly made headlines. Whatever side of the political aisle you might find yourself on, the hearing was certainly “must see tv” in Washington, D.C. and around the country. In the end, the public testimony wasn’t as explosive as I’m sure some of the President’s detractors would have hoped for, and I’m glad about that. I never wanted President Obama to fail because it meant that America had failed, and the same goes for President Trump. If we have a failure of leadership in the White House, those failures will certainly snowball throughout the government, and that’s going to hurt American families. I look forward to the FBI, Congress, and the Justice Department completing their various investigations in short order so that we can get back to the challenging but rewarding work of helping American families succeed.
- USA Today. Conservative and liberals saw two different Comey hearings
- Washington Post. After Comey’s testimony, where does Congress go next?
Cherishing the memory and sacrifice of our American heroes, like Specialist Etienne Murphy, who gave everything in service to America is something our community takes very seriously, and I’m grateful we make it a priority throughout the entire year. No words can sufficiently express our gratitude for Specialist Murphy, but I hope we’ll all keep his family in our prayers now and in the future. On Friday, Governor Deal ordered that all flags on state buildings and grounds be flown at half-staff in honor of this passionate public servant. Such events are always somber. We wish they were not needed at all, but I thank the Governor for his leadership and example in paying tribute to this remarkable young man who made our community proud and served a grateful nation.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Gov. Nathan Deal: Flags to fly at half-staff in honor of Snellville soldier
Next week the House is going to move forward with what we’ve called “Phase 3” of our plan to reform health care. Phase 3 includes targeted pieces of health care legislation that aren’t meant to reform the entire system at once, but that are absolutely critical to millions of Americans, and solve smaller problems that the Affordable Care Act has ignored over the past few years.
Under the current Affordable Care Act, and under the American Health Care Act, should it become law, individuals who are eligible to receive premium assistance and who are also eligible to receive health care from the Veterans Health Administration, but are not enrolled in a veterans’ health plan, are barred from taking advantage of the premium assistance. This bill changes that ill-conceived law and allows veterans to have a choice of either taking part in the VHA or purchasing a health insurance plan of their own using the same premium assistance that other Americans receive. This bill is about fairness for our veterans, and I know we all support that outcome.
This measure will address a loophole in the law that would penalize responsible individuals who are purchasing COBRA health insurance coverage. The House believes that anyone who is making the very responsible decision to purchase COBRA coverage, and is doing so without any subsidy from their former employer, should be commended for making that decision and should be eligible to receive premium tax credits. Helping people who have made the choice to stay insured is a common good for our society, and I’m happy that we’re moving forward with this common-sense bill.
This measure ensures that only individuals with legal status in the United States who have a Social Security Number are allowed to receive an advanced premium tax credit under the current Affordable Care Act or the American Health Care Act, should it become law. This is a common-sense reform that ensures American taxpayer dollars are used to support Americans and legal residents, not those who want to perpetrate a fraud on our health care system.
The House is also expected to concur with a Senate-passed bill that will make it easier for VA employees to report inappropriate actions and for VA leaders to discipline or fine employees who are derelict in their duties. S. 1094, the “Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act,” honors the sacrifices of our former military men and women by ensuring that they are provided with the high quality care and benefits that they have earned.
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