Washington Watch - 7/16/18
It was another productive and active week on Capitol Hill, but I’d have to say one of the high points was the opportunity to join Senator David Perdue for a fantastic constituent conference call with folks across the Seventh District and the great State of Georgia! It’s such an honor to serve the people of the Seventh District and to serve alongside a remarkably dedicated and talented Georgia delegation. Senator Perdue is one of those individuals, and it was my pleasure to be able to join him as we shared updates on the activity in Washington last week. The questions we received were reflective of the engagement we’ve come to expect from you all, and I’m grateful to everyone who took the time from their schedules to participate.
While the Senator and I serve in different Chambers of Congress, in recent months we’ve been able to serve together on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. Of the 16 members on this bipartisan, bicameral committee, Senator Perdue is one of just four Senate Republicans, and I am one of four House Republicans to be chosen to serve in this way. As I’m sure the Senator would tell you, it’s a great honor, but more than that, it speaks to the way in which Georgia’s collective voice is viewed in the United States Congress. It’s clear to me that Georgia’s voice is being heard loud and clear. Thank you all for everything you do to make that the case, and please continue to share your insight with us.
On Wednesday, I joined my House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee colleagues to further discuss the policy implications of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones. While drones have existed for many years, there has been a precipitous rise in their use in the last several years. In fact, it’s projected that the number of small drones in the national airspace will double by 2022 and commercial drones may even quintuple in number! This is a multibillion dollar industry that will continue to play a valuable role in our tech economy and national security apparatus in the years ahead, but there are certainly safety, privacy, and access issues that must be confronted. Congress has acted to prevent unlawful and potentially harmful drone use in recent aviation and defense bills, and we will continue to take incremental steps to protect both the innovative potential of the industry and the safety of the traveling public.
Rep. Rob Woodall joins fellow members and aviation industry stakeholders to discuss UAS regulations and safety protocols.
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with a number of constituents who were in town for the 2018 Korean American Grassroots Conference. As many of you know, Gwinnett and Forsyth counties are home to over 25,000 Korean-Americans, nearly half of the Korean-American population of Georgia, and it has been my distinct honor to represent one of the largest and most vibrant Korean-American districts in the country.
We had the pleasure of discussing a variety of issues facing Korean-Americans including the U.S.Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), H.R. 2106, the “Partner with Korea Act,” as well as continued efforts to reunify families that have remained divided as a result of the limited communications and travel between North and South Korea. In fact, the KORUS FTA, which allows U.S. goods and services to be traded freely with South Korea, totaled an estimated $144.6 billion in 2016, and I only expect that number to increase as the Administration continues talks with South Korea to strengthen the agreement for both parties. It is my hope those conversations will also focus on bringing the KORUS FTA in line with our other free trade agreements by putting an end to the prohibition on the exchange of working professionals between our two countries. That said, should trade negotiators not discuss this matter at the negotiation table, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2106 and will continue working with my colleagues to bring the KORUS FTA in line with our other bilateral agreements. Undeniably, our community is made richer by our Korean-American friends and neighbors, and I greatly appreciate them taking the time to stop by my office as well as for inviting me to attend their 2018 Conference!
The intelligence failures preceding the 9/11 terrorist attacks led to a renewed mandate for effective counterterrorism and law enforcement policies. In the wake of those devastating attacks, drastic and unprecedented measures were taken to protect our homeland and secure valuable assets overseas. In subsequent years, however, and with the benefit of hindsight and reflection, the American people determined that in some cases, the federal government simply went too far. Since I’ve been in Congress, we have taken careful steps to protect and strengthen critical programs that operate within the bounds of the law and save lives, and to pare back the policies that have rightly caused concern among those closely monitoring our constitutional safeguards. In this spirit, I am proud that the House passed H.R. 6237 last week, which ensures that the individuals in our Intelligence Communitywho are entrusted to protect each of us and our families every dayhave the resources and authorities necessary to succeed. In this bill, we bolster our recruitment efforts to make sure we have the smartest people in the nation fighting and winning the cyber war, include new defenses against foreign threats to our elections, increase coordination between federal offices charged with managing our key energy infrastructure, and strengthen oversight and accountability to the people’s representatives in Congress. You can access more detail about the legislation here, including a summary, committee report, and the bill text itself.
Last Monday, President Trump announced his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the soon-to-be vacant seat on the Supreme Court of the United States that will be left by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, effective July 31st. Judge Kavanaugh currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuitoften described as the second most powerful court in the U.S.where he has written over 300 opinions over the last 12 years, many of which were upheld by the Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked in the Bush White House as Staff Secretary, worked with the independent counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton Administration, and clerked with Supreme Court Justice Kennedythe very Justice he is nominated to succeed.
Here is what some of you shared with me about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination:
Susan from Buford:
I'm certain Brett Kavanaugh is a good man - just like yourself and this is not a personal request. This is a request that for the integrity of our nation and the women in our nation (acceptance speech and dog & pony on the stage last night aside) - do NOT approve this choice. Allow this gentleman to continue his service in his past capacity - but do not approve this nomination. I fervently believe this country should continue to move forward and not backslide into the past and undo civility, equality and women's rights and the rights of all Americans.
Ilona from Suwanee:
What are you doing to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court?
I will begin by saying Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a highly respected and credentialed jurist whose record reflects a deep and unwavering commitment to the Constitution and the interpretive role of the judiciary. That said, as your Representative in the House of Representatives, I unfortunately have very little official input on the Supreme Court nomination or confirmation process. The Constitution places that responsibility exclusively with the Senate, and I would encourage you to share your thoughts with our Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue during the confirmation process.
Appointing a Justice to the Supreme Court is, as President Trump said in his announcement, “one of the most profound responsibilities of the President of the United States.” While I have heard concerns similar to Susan's over the past week, it is eminently important that a President fulfills his constitutional duty to “nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Judges of the supreme Court” whenever a vacancy arises in order for our democracy to function properly. We saw in the Court’s 2016 term the consequences of a Supreme Court with only eight Justices when a number of cases had to be settled in a tie, resulting in those cases deferring to the lower court opinion. With such important debates on technology company monopolies, the treatment of class action lawsuit settlements, and our 5th Amendment protections from “double jeopardy” coming to the Supreme Court’s fall term, we need a full Supreme Court to hand down decisions with certainty.
As was the case with Judge Neil Gorsuch, I believe President Trump has again made a sound nomination to the Supreme Court, and it is my hope that my colleagues in the Senate will move quickly to confirm his nomination. I am convinced that Justice Kavanaugh will only rule in the best interests of our republic and allow the important questions of our country to be settled via self-governance by the people and her representatives in Congress rather than through judicial activism. Again, I certainly understand and appreciate the concerns that Susan has, but I believe Mr. Kavanaugh will judge cases by interpreting the Constitutionleaving the job of debating and creating progress to you and I. I look forward to seeing the Supreme Court at full capacity for its upcoming 2018-2019 term and for it to serve our nation as intended.
- New York Times. Brett Kavanaugh Is Trump’s Pick for Supreme Court
- Washington Post. Brett Kavanaugh is nominated by Trump to succeed Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
I’ve shared some of the great work being done by Quilts of Valor before, but I just had to share another heartwarming story of their most recent presentation. For those of you who are not familiar with this group, its members make hand-crafted quilts and present them to veterans as an expression of gratitude for their service. I was struck by this organization’s work when I first heard of it because it is, of course, inspiring to see such heartfelt appreciation for those who sacrifice on our behalf. It is also remarkable to see how that gratitude can take so many different forms depending on the talents and abilities of those in our community. Many of us would never have thought to make a quilt or much less have the skill to do it if we tried but for these folks, it was something that they were passionate about. The thought, effort, and love that go into crafting a Quilt of Valor make it particularly special to the recipients, and I’m so grateful for the service of both the veterans and those caring for them.
- Forsyth County News. Group honors local veteran for service
Our law enforcement officers do so much for, and mean so much to, our community. It’s difficult to describe how important they are because the dangers and sacrifice that come with their daily work goes beyond what most of us can comprehend. It’s a special kind of person that is called to this service, but it is most certainly a calling. When you speak with these men and women, it’s clear to see how seriously they take the solemn responsibility with which they’ve been charged. Last week, 42 additional members of our community assumed this role. When asked to choose one and only one word to describe why they want to be a police officer, among the most common answers were: service, protector, accountability, and guardian. I think we’d all agree each of these words captures the spirit we hope to find behind the badge serving us in this way. Congratulations to each graduate, thank you for your commitment to our community, and please know that your fellow citizens are extending their best wishes for your success and safety!
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Gwinnett County Police Department’s 100th academy graduation stresses integrity, duty, camaraderie
This week the House is taking another giant step forward in providing essential funding for our government in FY19. We will consider H.R. 6147, the “Interior, Environment, Financial Services, and General Government Appropriations Act of 2019.” This is an exciting week for me because once this bill is approved by the House, we will have passed 6 of the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY19. September 30th marks the end of the current fiscal year, so being halfway done with our appropriations work with over two months left in the fiscal year is fantastic news. That means we’ll have time to negotiate with the Senate on compromise legislation, and hopefully, we’ll be able to fund the government in FY19 without the need for another long-term Continuing Resolution. This success goes to show how much we can get done when we commit ourselves to working together for the American people.
While the full schedule for this week hasn’t yet been completed, you can CLICK HERE to see real-time updates of what the House will be voting on all week.
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