Washington Watch - 7/17/17
Last week, the House unanimously passed three bills that will bolster federal efforts to combat human trafficking and support those who’ve been impacted by the horrific crime. The first bill, H.R. 2664, the “Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act,” will provide federal labor officials with the tools and resources they need to better detect trafficking cases as well as assist law enforcement officials in trafficking prevention and prosecution. A second bill, H.R. 2480, seeks to ensure that states and localities can access federal law enforcement grants for programs that fight human trafficking. And, finally, a third bill, H.R. 2200, the “Frederick Douglas Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017,” updates and reauthorizes through 2021 the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which is the law that created many of our nation’s most successful anti-trafficking tools and programs, including the annual Trafficking in Persons Report and country Tier Placements – which is a compilation of nations that meet or don’t meet our nation’s anti-trafficking standards.
The issue of human trafficking sometimes feels far away from our lives – something that is happening in foreign countries – but the reality is that trafficking is close to us. Atlanta, because of its vast transportation resources and its status as having one of the busiest airports in the world, is a prime location for human trafficking. Our local law enforcement personnel are working hard to end this scourge, and I was pleased to join my colleagues in supporting each of these bills so that they have the tools they need to stop trafficking in its tracks. I look forward to seeing these measures move through the Senate and on to the President’s desk.
- The Hill. House passes bill to curb human trafficking.
- USA Today. House passes sweeping overhaul of law to combat human trafficking
Each year, in order to fulfill our Constitutional obligation to “provide for the common defense,” Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s bill specifically focuses on rebuilding and reforming America’s Armed Forces to increase our readiness and efficiency. After a decade of slowed funding despite continual war fighting and missions across the globe, we have seen our military readiness decline. Most of the funding has gone directly to the mission today, meaning too few dollars were allocated to training and developing the men and women of our armed forces for tomorrow. The NDAA authorizes an increase in defense spending by 10 percent, an increase that not only provides a much needed pay raise for our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, but also increases size of our nation’s fighting forces, all to ensure that our military has every resource necessary to successfully complete the mission.
While these increases are essential to our success, the bill also emphasizes the need to reform how the Pentagon does business by introducing important oversight in the defense acquisition process and cutting bureaucracy to save the American taxpayers billions of dollars in the coming years. The most efficient, agile, and advanced military is what the American people deserve and demand, and this year’s NDAA takes the crucial steps to do that. Working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this critical piece of legislation, I can tell you our country’s defense should never be a partisan issue.
- Washington Post. Key provisions in House-passed defense policy bill
- Defense News. U.S. House passes sweeping 2018 defense policy bill, 344-81
Not to sound like a broken record, but the same song keeps playing: good things are going on throughout our community! Everywhere you look we seem to be excelling here at home. Last week, one more accolade found its way to the Seventh District in the form of top credit ratings from Moody’s Investors Service for both the Forsyth and Gwinnett County school systems. Now to put that in perspective, only four systems in the state – 77 in the entire country – earned the top rating, and two of those were ours! That’s remarkable, and like so many things that earn recognition, a great deal of work was done behind the scenes to get there. We’re not simply lucky; we simply have families and public servants who are willing to do the very hard work that it takes to succeed. The significance of these credit ratings goes far beyond just a certificate or number. It allows our community to leverage real-world results and success to benefit even more families. Excellence really is a way of life for those who call our part of the world home, and I’m grateful for the many individuals who put others before themselves to reach our shared goals.
- Forsyth County News. Forsyth schools receive top credit rating in U.S.
In recent weeks I’ve shared with you some of the prominent positions Georgians have assumed in the President’s Administration, and last week, Judge Billy Ray from right here in Gwinnett County, was nominated by the President to serve as a federal judge. From Secretary Tom Price (HHS), to Secretary Sonny Perdue (USDA), to Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald leading the CDC, and now this new appointment; it makes me proud to see those who have worked so hard for Georgians for decades use their skills to make our entire nation the very best that it can be. Far beyond just being a point of pride for our communities, as well as making our voice that much more effective in Washington and federal matters, it’s also a great thing for America. Judge Ray is a proven servant-leader, and that’s exactly the kind of person we need assuming this crucial responsibility.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. President nominates former Gwinnett judge for federal court seat
This week the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade is holding a hearing on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which went into effect in 1994 and allows for duty free trade between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. As you know, modernizing NAFTA has been on President Trump’s “to do” list since his time on the campaign trail, and I absolutely believe that he wants the best deal for America’s workers and businesses. In the globally competitive world that we live in, we must find ways to ensure that American workers, companies, and goods can compete with their international counterparts on a level playing field. With more than 95 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, future economic growth and jobs for both Georgia and America increasingly depend on expanding U.S. trade and investment opportunities in the global marketplace. Trade agreements can be a tool for growing U.S. workers, manufacturers, and farmers through new opportunities and markets, however, a failed deal could do exactly the opposite.
In Georgia, more than 1.2 million jobs are supported by trade – an increase of 132% from 1992 to 2014 – and any action we can take to support this job growth and opportunity in our great state is a step in the right direction, because if we fail to succeed in building trade partnerships, other countries, such as China and India, will certainly rush to fill any voids. American workers and businesses deserve a fair deal, and I am thrilled to see that the Ways and Means Committee is looking for ways in which NAFTA can be modernized and updated to better address issues affecting U.S. workers, businesses, and consumers in today’s economy.
- Business Roundtable. How Georgia’s economy benefits from international trade and investment
- Growing Georgia. Farm Bureau Welcomes Decision to Improve NAFTA
- Savannah Morning News. USDA Secretary Perdue hosts Canadian, Mexican counterparts in Savannah
- Politico. Trump launches NAFTA renegotiation
The nation is beginning to realize what we in Georgia already know: our state is an incredible place to live, to raise a family, and to do business. In fact, CNBC has just ranked Georgia second in its study of America’s Top States for Business, bumping our state up six spots from last year. The study showed that Georgia’s economy was the best in the nation, thanks to great prudent fiscal policies in at the state capitol and solid economic growth. With the extensive regulatory rollbacks I supported signed into law at the beginning of the year to unburden businesses from bureaucratic red tape, I anticipate even further economic growth in the near future as businesses begin to feel relief.
The same study also ranked Georgia’s infrastructure at number four in the nation. That fact is no better exemplified than by our state’s quick and thorough response to the I-85 bridge collapse. I’m proud the federal government was able to step in to provide $10 million in emergency assistance, but I’m even prouder in the Georgia Department of Transportation’s ability to utilize those funds effectively and target them in a way that got the roadway finished ahead of schedule. Our state gives us a lot to brag about, and I am so pleased to represent such a fine state in Washington, D.C. Georgia’s success can be a beacon for other states to follow.
This week the House is expected to consider a number of pro-American energy and responsible environmental stewardship bills: H.R. 2883, the “Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act,” H.R. 2910, the “Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act,” and H.R. 806, the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017.”
The House Budget Committee is also expected to consider the FY18 Budget this coming Wednesday. I have been working with my colleagues on the House Budget Committee for many months to craft a budget for our federal government that provides adequate resources for our nation’s many commitments – from the Defense Department to the National Park Service to the State Department and more. In addition, this budget will provide reconciliation instructions so that we can move forward with transformational tax reform and with reining in our mandatory spending so that we can put American on solid financial footing for the future.
Member of Congress