Washington Watch - 7/15/19

July 15, 2019
E-Newsletter Archive
Congress Has No More Important Responsibility than the Defense of our Nation

THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT: HISTORY OF PARTNERSHIP DETOURING TO PARTISANSHIP

Over the past 58 years, Republicans and Democrats alike have been able to come together to pass one of the most important bills of any Congress, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rightfully so, the NDAA authorizes all of our national security programs to protect our country and the world—something that normally transcends any political affiliation. This year things went radically differently.

Instead of passing the NDAA out of the Armed Services Committee nearly unanimously—as it has year after year because of hard bipartisan work on both sides—the Committee passed the bill on almost a straight party line vote. When the bill came to the floor last week, rather than giving Republicans an equal opportunity to improve the bill, the Democratic Leadership denied Republicans the opportunity to have our ideas heard. Of the amendments allowed on the House floor, only 15% were Republican amendments, which is just a small fraction of the ideas Republicans offered to restore bipartisanship to the bill.

This year’s House NDAA fails to invest in areas such as modernizing our nuclear capabilities, upgrading our Navy, and other innovations that are critical to deterring threats around the globe from China and Russia. Further, Democrats inserted several “gotcha” amendments designed to divide rather than unite, such as one to limit the President’s ability to respond to threats and protect our country, another to push social policies through the military, and yet another to stop the military’s efforts to address the crisis on our southern border.

Eventually, the NDAA was forced through the House by a partisan vote of 220 to 197, with only Democrats voting yes, but with many Democrats voting with Republicans against the divisive bill. I hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the House take note of the Senate’s NDAA, which passed 86 to 8. Now the bill goes to conference where Speaker Pelosi will have an opportunity to either follow the Senate model of bipartisanship or bow to the new radical left’s demand for partisanship. America needs and deserves the former. 

 

WHITE HOUSE HALTS RULE; WORKS TO PROTECT SENIORS FROM PART D PREMIUM INCREASES; WILL CONTINUE WORKING TO LOWER DRUG PRICES

As I’ve pointed out in previous newsletters, fixing our nation’s broken healthcare system is not an easy task. Last week’s decision by the Administration to rescind the proposed “Rebate Rule” exemplifies the very difficulties and hurdles that ensue when such efforts are undertaken. As many of you may have heard or read about, the President chose not to advance the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed “Rebate Rule,” a rule to eliminate rebates to pharmacy benefit managers in Medicare Part D plans, as White House actuaries determined that the rule would likely not work as was initially intended to lower premiums, but instead might raise Part D premiums for Medicare beneficiaries.

While many are taking this opportunity to label the White House’s initial effort a failure, I see it as a necessary part of the rulemaking process. The process is supposed to vet proposals, and that’s exactly what is happening. A solution gets introduced, it gets debated and studied, and depending on how the vetting process and number crunching goes, the proposal either gets the greenlight or it gets stopped in its tracks. Too often, the latter outcome is frowned upon as a political loss or failure, but I’d much rather a proposal be shelved than get pushed through for the sake of claiming a win. I believe the White House’s decision reinforces the Administration’s commitment to lowering drug prices by showing that it’s not afraid to go back to the drawing board and work with Congress to consider more narrow and targeted solutions. As such, you can be sure that I will continue to keep you updated on efforts to lower drug prices, and that I will support those efforts that can achieve our shared goal of making healthcare more affordable.

 

REP. WOODALL ON AMERICA’S NEWS HEADQUARTERS: “IT WILL TAKE BIPARTISAN LEADERSHIP TO SECURE OUR BORDER.”

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is tasked with carrying out the law as it is written, not with targeting families that have been here for decades or refugees who came across the border yesterday.

In this weekend’s raids, ICE is pursuing those who came into our country without permission and were apprehended. Those who had their day in court, and who were court-ordered to be removed.

Instead of encouraging ICE to ignore the rulings of our nation’s immigration judges, I encourage House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats to work with House Republicans to address the humanitarian crisis at our southern border and find bipartisan solutions that reflect our American values. Click on the image below to watch my entire interview with America's News Headquarters below.

Rep. Woodall discusses border security with America’s News Headquarters host, Kristin Fisher

 

CONSTITUENT SPOTLIGHT: SKILLS-BASED IMMIGRATION

Last week, Congress considered H.R. 1044, the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” a bill to address the decades-long backlog for high-skilled workers. As one of the over three hundred cosponsors, I joined my colleagues to pass the bill 365-65, and I hope to see it advance quickly in the Senate.

I received mail regarding some misconceptions about this bill, so I want to take the time to address those concerns.

Emily from Suwanee

Rep Woodall, Please do not vote for HR 1044, our young American graduates should have an opportunity to be hired for jobs before foreign immigrants are given green cards to come to America to compete. I know you're not planning to run again for your seat representing Gwinnett County citizens, but please consider the futures of those young men and women who have worked hard to get through college and deserve to have first consideration. If you can persuade some of your colleagues to vote NO as well tomorrow, maybe a bill like this needs to be done publicly with hearings and debates before a vote is called. Thank you for your service, Emily

Sherry from Lawrenceville

Please reconsider your support of The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019. This bill will take jobs away from technology graduates of the US in favor of Indian and Chinese workers. I believe you should adopt an America First attitude on all legislation. Not only will it replace American workers but will allow the chain migration of the families of all these workers. I urge you to reconsider your support.


I recognize the concerns expressed by Sherry and Emily above, but they are misapplied to H.R. 1044. H.R. 1044 doesn’t have anything to do with who can come into this country to work. H.R. 1044 only affects families who have already been allowed to legally enter this country and who are already working.
 
Right now, thousands of immigrant families are legally present in the U.S. through the H-1B high-skilled worker visa program. H-1B visas are for individuals with skills that cannot be found in the United States, and before any visa is issued the employer much prove that it has looked aggressively for but has been unable to find a U.S. citizen to fill the job. A debate over the H-1B program and how large it should be would be appropriate, but that is not what H.R. 1044 is.
 
Some of these H-1B visa families, including many right here in the Seventh District, have lived and worked legally in the U.S. for decades. They’ve complied with all our laws, made their homes here, made their work here, paid their taxes here, and contribute to the richness of our community. For decades, immigration law has allowed these folks—if they have done everything right—to apply for a green card to attain U.S. citizenship. H.R. 1044 doesn’t do anything to change that either.
 
Unfortunately, there is another provision in U.S. law today that caps applications from certain countries, like India, for example. Even if green cards are available, even if a family does everything right, because current law caps applications by country of origin, a decades long backlog now exists for countries like India. H.R. 1044 addresses those country of origin caps and addresses President Trump’s desire to have our immigration system focus more on merit.
 
While H.R. 1044 doesn’t impact H1-B visa numbers as Sherry and Emily feared, I do want to address that issue briefly. The truth is that in today’s booming economy every labor expert recognizes that the U.S simply does not have enough high-skilled workers to fill the number of jobs available. As you have heard many times recently, our nation has more job openings than there are job seekers available to fill those vacancies. Again, before an employer can sponsor an H-1B immigrant, the employer must certify that there are no American workers available to fill that job and that the visa holder would receive the average prevailing wage that an American citizen would. Those protections are in place to ensure that no citizen’s job is taken, and that visa-holders are not undercutting salaries of American workers.  Reforming and improving the H1-B program is a worthy goal, and I will remember Sherry and Emily’s concerns if the effort is undertaken, but H.R. 1044 is not a part of that effort.

 

RECOGNIZING EXCEPTIONAL VOLUNTEERISM IN OUR COMMUNITY

While there are so many who do so much across our state in service to our friends and neighbors, time and again I see residents of our community go above and beyond. They don’t do it for the recognition, but I am sure none of us are surprised that when those efforts are highlighted, it is for the work that is being done in our area. Charla Summers was awarded the HCA Healthcare’s Frist Humanitarian Award for her more than seven years of volunteer service at Eastside Medical Center in Snellville. This award is only given to three individuals – a physician, an employee, and a volunteer – across the country who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to spreading kindness and serving others in the healthcare space. Thank you for your service, Charla!

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week the House is going to consider three measures, but unfortunately, only one of them has any bipartisan support.

H.R. 582 would incrementally raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. While I absolutely thrilled by the wage growth that is supported by our growing economy, I am very concerned about the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis that says the bill could cause 1.3 million Americans to lose their jobs. The last time Congress raised the minimum wage, job losses were so severe for those earning less than $7.50 per hour that net earnings declined for that group. Artificially increasing wages sometimes has a detrimental effect on those who it is designed to help. For millions of Americans, this could put them deeper into poverty.

Another problematic bill this week is a contempt resolution from the Committee on Oversight and Reform. In a move dripping with partisan animus, this measure holds Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for, in the opinion of Speaker Pelosi, not cooperating fully with the Committee’s investigation into the origin of the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census.  As the Trump Administration has provided over 30,000 documents to the Committee since the subpoenas were issued in April 2019, this resolution is intended simply to score political points with the most radical left of the Democratic party.

Thankfully, the House will also consider H.R. 3494, which reauthorizes our nation’s intelligence activities for the upcoming year. This critical authorization allows our Intelligence Community – the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and more – to carry-out those missions which keep Americans safe and which protect us from adversaries and enemies abroad. The bill was approved by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence unanimously, and I hope that as the measure moves through the Rules Committee and across the House floor, that we do all we can to ensure that the final bill remains as bipartisan as it can be.

Sincerely,

Rob Woodall

Member of Congress