Washington Watch - 7/11/16
On Friday, the House approved a final Conference Report providing much needed tools to combat opioid addiction in America. Since 2000, the rate of drug overdose deaths has increased by 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids. In 2014 alone, more than 28,000 people died in the U.S. from the use of opioids – both prescription drugs and heroin. And the issue is hitting us right here at home. From 2013-2014, Georgia saw an over 10 percent increase in drug overdose deaths, with over 1,200 Georgians dying of this terrible disease. That figure puts Georgia in the top 10 of all states in the rate of increase of overdose deaths. This is an epidemic in America, and it’s one that we can help to solve if we come together.
This bill commits the government to investing in programs and private sector entities that specialize in opioid addiction prevention and education as well as treatment and recovery. The bill also makes a significant investment in supporting our nation’s law enforcement entities that are trying to stem the tide of illegal opioids coming into the U.S. and better provide treatment opportunities for those who end up in our judicial system. I look forward to working with the Senate and the President to see this bill signed into law.
- The Hill. House overwhelmingly passes opioids bill
- Washington Examiner. House approved major opioid abuse bill
Last week the House passed its third appropriations bill, the “FY2017 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Act,” which provides funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, and a number of other related agencies. This year’s bill makes investments in programs that support small businesses, increase transparency for consumers and investors, combat financial crime, improve taxpayer services and prevent fraud at the IRS, bolster cybersecurity protections, and more. It also reduces funding for underperforming federal programs and includes policy reforms to rein in executive overreach from the Obama Administration. All told, the bill comes in at $1.5 billion less than enacted funding levels for FY16 and is $2.7 billion below the level requested in the President’s FY17 budget. I hope you will take a minute to read more about the FY2017 FSGG Appropriations Act, which you can do by clicking here, and share your thoughts with me.
While the agencies receiving funding from this bill impact the lives of most us in the Seventh District in some way, I want to highlight one specific part of the bill that provides funding for Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). SBDCs, which are under the umbrella of the U.S. Small Business Administration, provide assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs in an effort to foster economic development. As some of you may have read in the news recently, the 17 SBDC locations across the State of Georgia have worked with private companies over the past five years to create more than 11,000 jobs, and we are fortunate to have an SBDC location in Lawrenceville. If you or someone you know is thinking about starting a new business in the area, I encourage you to have them contact the Gwinnett SBDC office to learn more about the professional services that are available.
- The Hill. House passes financial services spending bill
- Morning Consult: House Passes Financial Services and General Government Spending Bill
The Port of Savannah is the recipient of a $44 million infrastructure grant. The award, announced on July 6th, will help improve the on-dock container transfer facilities and increase efficiency at the port. While that is indeed exciting, what I am even more excited to report is that the FAST Act, the legislation that implemented this program, is already starting to change how we go about efficiently and effectively using taxpayer dollars for transportation.
As House Transportation Committee Chairman Shuster and I worked together crafting the FAST Act, we agreed that this legislation needed to reform how we go about prioritizing and spending money to maintain and expand America’s infrastructure, and in turn, start earning back America’s trust. The Savannah Port is one of Georgia’s greatest economic advantages and one of America’s busiest ports, and this grant award is an example of how we can invest in high priority projects that will benefit everyone. I am proud to see the intentions behind the bill starting to take shape.
- Atlanta Business Chronicle. Port of Savannah lands $44 million federal grant
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Woodall says Savannah port grant example of new infrastructure goals
FBI director James Comey was just brought before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to discuss his decision not to recommend criminal charges for Hillary Clinton related to her email scandal. During the hearing, Comey implied that had she been employed by the FBI, she would have probably been at least fired for her extremely reckless handling of classified government information. While the Department of Justice has decided not to pursue this deeply troubling case any further, I am committed to holding the powerful and connected accountable for their behavior. That’s why I joined many of my colleagues in sending a letter to the director asking for more detail behind his investigation as well as his decision not to recommend criminal charges for the former Secretary of State. I will be sure to keep you informed of his response and any other important developments.
- Washington Examiner. 11 takeaways from FBI Director James Comey’s testimony
- ABC News. FBI Director James Comey grilled about “dangerous” precedent in Clinton investigation
Partnering with each other to make government work best is one of the things we do so well in the Seventh District. I could list example after example of the successes we’ve had fixing things one at a time, and just last week I co-sponsored H.R. 921, the “Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act,” to move the ball forward on another one of these solutions.
By nature of their industry, sports medicine professionals travel to multiple states with athletes, but under current law, often find themselves unable to carry-out their responsibilities due to a lack of licensure and liability insurance in each state they visit. Despite having all the necessary credentials to practice in their state of origin, this technicality prevents them from caring for the same individuals – in the very same way – that they would back home. H.R. 921 offers the clarification needed to ensure properly licensed sports medicine professionals can care for their patients.
This is a seemingly small issue to many of us, but a very important one for those in this field. I would never have known the problem existed if those in the industry, like those serving at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, weren't willing to drop by my office to share not only the problem, but a proposed solution with me. Whatever your industry, you’re an expert in it, and I hope you’ll bring your ideas to me if I can ever partner with you. The big policy issues can be tough to solve, but if we solve one small problem every day together, we will have accomplished a great deal a year from now.
This week the House is expected to pass three important bills that hold Iran accountable for its continued hostile actions. H.R. 5631 requires the Obama Administration to apply enhanced sanctions to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC is not only the Ayatollah’s internal security force and political police, but it also operates as one of the country’s major economic actors and is responsible for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad, including pro-Assad forces in Syria. The IRGC and its affiliated entities will certainly benefit from President Obama’s new alliance with Iran, and I for one cannot in good conscience allow a terrorist organization to do so. In addition to holding the IRGC accountable, H.R. 5119 ensures that the federal government does not provide any support to Iran to purchase heavy water from Iran’s nuclear complex. And H.R. 4992 cuts off the Iranian government and its affiliated financial institutions from having access to funds denominated in U.S. dollars given the government’s financial ties to terrorism.
We’ll also move forward with consideration of our sixth appropriations bill this week, the FY17 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act. The bill provides funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Indian Health Service to name a few. I am heartened that the House is continuing to push ahead with our annual funding bills, and I look forward to working with the Senate and the President to make our Constitutional responsibility of funding the government a reality this year.
Member of Congress