Washington Watch - 7/24/17
It’s been a busy month in Washington, D.C., and this week is going to cap-off another long stretch of legislative work. I hope that you can join me tonight at 7:45pm for a Telephone Town Hall Meeting so that we can discuss where we’ve been and where we’re going for the second half of the year.
Monday, July 24th
7:45PM – 8:15PM
Please call-in and join the conversation!
Early last week, I stood beside Chairman Diane Black (R-TN) and other Members of the House Budget Committee as we announced the 2018 Budget entitled “Building a Better America.” In it, we include a total of $6.5 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years, producing a $9 billion surplus by 2027. We also include reconciliation instructions that pave the way for much needed, critical tax reform to help families overwhelmed by our tax code and promote job growth throughout the nation. Additionally, our reconciliation package takes a bold step in addressing our out-of-control mandatory spending. We instruct the 11 authorizing committees in the House to find at least $203 billion in mandatory savings in the next decade. I think this is a great start as we plan to use reconciliation next year, and the year after that, and every year after that to rein in mandatory spending to preserve our nation’s fiscal future for generations to come. After a lengthy markup on Wednesday, the budget was passed favorably out of Committee, and I am hopeful it will be considered on the House floor soon. I am so proud of the hard work of our Committee Chairman Diane Black (R-TN), and I am incredibly pleased to work beside her to pass a responsible, pro-growth budget.
Click on the video below to watch the Budget Committee’s pre-markup press conference.
- The Hill. House committee advances budget resolution
- USA Today. The House Republican budget plan to build a better America
- Fox News. House Budget Committee chair: GOP budget hits 'sweet spot'
Last week was “Made in America Week” in Washington, D.C., and American business owners from across the country traveled to Washington to showcase their hard work and share their expertise. On Wednesday, the White House hosted a diverse and talented group of entrepreneurs – including the Seventh District’s own Okabashi Brands, Inc. As you all may know, Okabashi manufactures footwear products right here in Buford, Georgia. I’ve been fortunate to be able to see their operation in person at their Buford location, and last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Okabashi CEO Sara Irvani while she was visiting D.C. I’m grateful for all that Okabashi is doing in our community and very much enjoyed seeing one of our local manufacturers share their story at the White House. I look forward to working with my House colleagues in the coming weeks and months to advance legislative solutions that will empower companies like Okabashi and all of our local manufacturers to do even more great work!
The House passed three bills last week that bolster America’s energy independence and infrastructure through smart and targeted reforms. Two of those bills – H.R. 2883 and H.R. 2910 – seek to update the federal government’s permitting and siting policies for oil and natural gas pipelines. The United States is one of the most blessed countries in the world when it comes to its supply of natural resources. However, we lack the critical infrastructure to get those environmentally friendly, affordable, and abundant resources to American families across the country due to the burdensome permitting process and bureaucratic red-tape.
The good news is that H.R. 2883, the “Promoting Cross Border Energy Infrastructure Act” restructures the permitting process for pipelines that cross international borders to make it a more transparent, efficient, and effective process, which will lower costs for consumers and create additional jobs in the energy field. The second bill, H.R. 2910, the “Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act” strengthens the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s lead agency role and brings greater certainty, accountability, and transparency to the siting process for interstate natural gas pipelines to meet our growing demand for natural gas. Together, these two pieces of legislation are a step in the right direction for American families, businesses, and workers, and I look forward to continue to support legislation that drives America towards energy independence.
In addition to H.R. 2883 and H.R. 2910, the House also passed H.R. 806, the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017.” Too often, we see the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implement new standards before the previous standards are met, and I hope you’d agree with me that such a practice doesn’t set America up for success, but instead leads us down a volatile and dispiriting path. The good news is that H.R. 806 puts an end to that poor practice by giving states the necessary tools to meet new and upcoming ozone and other air quality standards by ensuring that the EPA’s rules are clear. This allows state officials to successfully develop plans to meet ozone standards rather than being forced to change their plans every few years – all of which is done without rolling-back protections on air quality or public health and without unnecessarily burdening our economy. It is my hope that the Senate quickly takes up all three of these bills so that we can move the needle towards success for the American people.
- Roll Call. House passes delay for EPA’s Obama-era ozone standards
- The Hill. House votes to streamline pipeline reviews
Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held two separate hearings on road safety and water infrastructure as part of our effort to build a 21st Century infrastructure for America.
The first hearing examined the multitude of ways our 2015 law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, addressed the alarming number of deaths and serious injuries on our nation’s roads. For example, we increased funding for federal transportation safety programs, reformed NHTSA safety programs, consolidated nine existing FMCSA grant programs into four, streamlined program requirements to reduce red tape and improve flexibility for states, and incentivized the adoption of innovative truck and bus safety technologies. One witness testified that, in addition to the tragic toll on human life, the economic consequences of car accidents amounts to over $800 billion annually. I’m hopeful that the continued focus on improving safety on our nation’s roads will prevent tragedies and save taxpayer dollars.
The second hearing discussed the impact that the two most recent Water Resources Development Acts have had on America’s water infrastructure. You may remember in the 2014 WRDA bill we advanced critical port initiatives in Georgia. Georgia’s ports may be a long way from the Seventh District, but they have a huge economic impact in our community, supporting more than 25,000 local jobs. I used this opportunity to inquire as to why the White House continues to underfund the Savannah Harbor deepening project, despite the incredibly promising cost-benefit ratio and the importance of this project to our region and our nation. I will keep doing my part to move this vital project forward every chance I get, including in the upcoming appropriation bills that will be on the floor in the near future.
It’s been a great week for Georgia and Seventh District manufacturers to say the least. Beyond the excitement of one of our own being invited to the White House for “Made in America” Week, the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance (GMA) joined Governor Deal here at home as he officially proclaimed July as “Buy from Georgia” Month. If you aren’t familiar with the amazing things these folks are doing not only in the Seventh District, but across the state, I would definitely encourage you to learn more about it at https://www.georgiamanufacturingalliance.com/.
GMA got its start right here in Lawrenceville, and I couldn’t be prouder of what they do day-in and day-out. Once again, these men and women show that our community unites around building each other up and making tomorrow better than today. If you’re interested in supporting your local manufacturers – which I highly recommend – you can find all kinds of information at www.buyfromga.com to do just that.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Residents Encouraged to ‘Buy from Georgia’ in July
Reading about all the great things our young people are doing never gets old. From service academy appointees, to aspiring athletes and actors, to award-winning entrepreneurs and students, they’ve already reached remarkable heights, and they’re just getting started. After last week, we can add two more South Forsyth High School graduates to that list as they were named National Merit Scholars. Matthew McCusker received a scholarship from Northeastern University, and Nicolas Devereaux was named a National Merit Scholar at Auburn University, and for those familiar with the process, it doesn’t just happen. These young men began their competition with 1.6 million other high school students during their junior year, and after many test scores, application filings, essays, leadership evaluations, and personal recommendations, they are among approximately 900 who received this prestigious scholarship. Congratulations, gentlemen, and best of luck!
- Forsyth County News. Two South Forsyth High grads named National Merit Scholars
For the first time since it was created, Congress reauthorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Our country’s youngest Executive agency was created in the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11 to consolidate our domestic efforts to protect the United States, including the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) amongst others. This reauthorization is an opportunity to reorganize the department and reexamine programs and sub-agencies that have not been reauthorized since their creation. Not only is it an improvement for the department itself, but also for Congress, which previously reauthorized the agencies and programs piece by piece between eight different House committees until agreeing this year in a memorandum of understanding to their respective roles in reauthorizing the department.
Reform comes in many forms – both noticeable and less obvious. Some of the more noticeable changes to DHS included in the reauthorization are modifications to TSA screening and security activities to give you a safer and better traveling experience, and enhanced border protections on our maritime borders by authorizing the acquisition of more Coast Guard cutters and the use of advanced unmanned technologies. Less visible but nonetheless important improvements are provisions that will give FEMA the flexibility to provide emergency and terrorism-prevention grant money to those that need it in a more efficient manner, to establish a new Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate allegations of misconduct involving USCIS personnel, and to expand intelligence information sharing, all making our country just that much safer.
Improving our government is always a priority for our citizens, but it is even more so when our country’s safety and security is involved. Thankfully this is an effort everyone can get behind, and the reauthorization passed with broad bipartisan support by a 386-41 vote. I look forward to this bill moving through the Senate soon and onto the President’s desk for his signature.
- The Hill. House votes to reauthorize Department of Homeland Security
- Washington Examiner. House approved first ever reauthorization of DHS
This week the House is moving forward for the American people. It is our Constitutional duty to fund the federal agencies that serve Americans, and this week, the House is considering a spending package that includes legislation to fund the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Legislative Branch. This is the first step in a long process to fund the government’s essential functions, and I’m pleased the House is moving forward in plenty of time for us to work with the Senate to get these appropriations bills to the President’s desk before the end of the fiscal year. I expect a robust amendment process on this package of bills, so check in with me and the House Rules Committee throughout the beginning of this week to learn more about these important measures.
The House is also expected to consider H.J.Res. 111, which provides for the Congressional disapproval of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s (CFPB) “arbitration agreements” rule. This rule is highly controversial and will increase substantially the number of class action lawsuits and costs to financial service companies. The CFPB’s own analysis admitted that this rule would force 53,000 companies to redraft their standard consumer contracts and prepare for additional class action litigation. The CFPB’s bureaucratic red tape and insistence on ignoring the real-world negative effects of its regulation is staggering, and I’m pleased that the House is taking a stand.
Member of Congress