Washington Watch - 7/31/17
This spring, I started hearing from constituents near Lake Lanier that more and more of their property on docks was being stolen or damaged. Dock owners wanted the option of installing security cameras right there on their docks to deter would-be thieves or trespassers and apprehend criminals, so we looked into it and found out that an old 2004 rule from the Army Corps of Engineers prohibited them from installing cameras. So I reached out to Corps leadership and asked them to revisit the policy and hear for themselves what our community and local law enforcement thought about this Federal rule. 95% of the people that responded said, yes, we should allow security cameras. Last week, the Corps announced that the 13 year old prohibition is gone, and it’s because a group of constituents cared enough to pick up the phone and call me about it. I hope this is an example to everyone in the 7th District. Things can get done in Washington when we all care enough to work together to make it happen!
- Forsyth County News. Corps: Security Cameras Allowed on Lake Lanier Docks
On Thursday, the House passed the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act,” which includes vital funding for defense, military construction, and nuclear energy programs. I was proud to support this bill because it fulfills many of the promises we made to the American people over the last 18 months. For starters, it funds President Trump’s border wall request. Border crossings have already fallen to a 17 year low under the new Administration, the most violent gang members in America are being brought to justice, and these reinforcements along our border will ensure that we maintain that progress to keep our nation secure.
This bill also gives our military service members their largest pay raise in eight years and equips them with state-of-the-art weapons, equipment, and infrastructure they need to fulfill their mission and eliminate threats to the homeland. The bill supports our brave law enforcement officers who defend our nation’s Capitol complex and the millions of Americans who visit it each year and authorizes President Trump to roll-back the Obama Administration’s incredibly harmful attempt to put America’s waterways under EPA control. Not only is this a bill that the American people can be very proud of, it is one that was considered the right way – with a robust debate in subcommittee, full committee, and with days of debate and amendment opportunities on the House floor. This truly is a product of the House’s collective work, and I hope the Senate will move on this bill swiftly before the end of the fiscal year.
- Minneapolis Star Tribune. Highlights of $788b House GOP spending bill
- Politico. House passes spending package with border wall money
Under the Trump/Pence Administration, America is reclaiming its leadership role in the world, and as a result, relations with key allies are improving and terrorist groups are being destroyed. However, there remain a number of complex geopolitical challenges that threaten America’s interests and our very way of life. For instance, North Korea is developing a nuclear arsenal with the capability to reach America’s coasts. Russia is continuing to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s despotic regime in Syria and undermine American efforts to build lasting peace in some of the world’s most volatile regions. Iran remains committed to funding terrorism and exploiting unrest in the Middle East to further its own radical agenda. That’s why last week Congress passed—with bipartisan, veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate—a tough sanctions package aimed at holding these countries accountable for their unacceptable behavior and their dangerous trajectory toward war and chaos. These sanctions target human rights abuses, support for terrorism, ballistic missile development, and the vast amounts of money it takes to maintain these treacherous activities. I look forward to seeing President Trump sign this bill into law.
- CNN. House overwhelmingly passes Russian sanction bill
- ABC News. Senate sends new Russia sanctions bill to White House in overwhelming vote
If you watched the news or read the newspaper at all last week, you certainly saw story after story about the Senate’s health care negotiations. It all began with a successful procedural vote to initiate floor debate and proceedings on legislation that would repeal and replace portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the back and forth continued throughout the week before ultimately coming to an end early Friday morning when Senate Republicans came within a single vote of advancing the “Health Care Freedom Act”, which was designed to deliver relief from the ACA’s burdensome insurance mandates for millions of Americans. Like many of you, I am incredibly disappointed that the Senate was unable to approve any legislative solution at all to help those struggling under the ACA and the millions more who will suffer when the inevitable comes to bear. There are some who would like to simply throw in the towel at this point, but I promise you that this will not be the end of the health care reform debate. It’s imperative that we continue working to find a path forward on health care reform, and I remain just as committed today as I’ve ever been to doing just that. Each year, more and more Americans are losing their Obamacare coverage because insurance companies are leaving the marketplace. We can and we must do better.
- NBC News. Obamacare Repeal Fails: Three GOP senators rebel in 49-51 vote
- Politico. Senate rejects ObamaCare repeal
There are so many ways we can help one another, and no one does that better than our community. Beginning tomorrow and going through Wednesday, local residents will be able to visit the Mall of Georgia and join the Red Cross in offering a life-saving gift to those in need. Knowing our neighbors the way I do, I have no doubt the turnout will be spectacular. For anyone interested and able to support through donation, you can visit redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment with the code: moga.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Mall of Georgia to host American Red Cross blood drive
It may be hard to believe with all the other votes we had this week, but the House passed even more bills, including a number of important bills for our nation’s veterans. Congress continues to demonstrate that improving the livelihoods and health of our veterans is a priority and not just empty words. Our service members and veterans sacrifice so much for us and face unique hardships that many of us do not.
Often times, service members are required to move several times during their careers, sometimes in the same year, creating challenges for their families, which is why the House passed H.R. 282, the “Military Residency Choice Act,” to allow the spouse of a service member to claim the same residence as the service member for tax and voting purposes, regardless of when they were married. Another challenging situation that veterans can face is finding child care while they receive VA care. H.R. 95, the “Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act,” addresses that by directing the VA to provide child care assistance to eligible veterans.
Perhaps the most impactful piece of legislation the House passed last week was H.R. 3218, the “Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act.” The G.I. bill has educated generations of veterans, however, our economy has changed, and the job market has new demands. H.R. 3218 enables veterans to take advantage of these new opportunities, particularly STEM and tech programs that could never have been envisioned 73 years ago when the G.I. bill was first created. Furthermore, H.R. 3218 will allow veterans to use their educational benefits at any time, not just within the 15-year limit currently in place. This is a major expansion of the G.I. bill, and I was proud to support it.
Of course, we are always on the look-out to constantly improve the VA itself, because an efficient and effective VA is the best way to ensure our veterans get the care and benefits they deserve. That’s why the House passed H.R. 1058, the “VA Provider Equity Act” to attract more podiatrists to the VA and H.R. 2006, the “VA Procurement Efficiency and Transparency Act” to improve the procurement process for the VA and save millions of taxpayer dollars.
I am incredibly humbled and thankful for the sacrifice our veterans have made, above-and-beyond the average citizen, and it’s our duty to assist them with the obstacles they face after they serve.
Last week, as you all may have read, congressional leaders and President Trump released a joint statement of agreement regarding a set of principles that will guide congressional committees as they start drafting tax reform legislation. The mission of the tax writing committees, as the statement reads, will be to produce a bill that will “protect American jobs and make taxes simpler, fairer and lower for hard-working American families.” If you are a FairTax supporter, those buzz words, “simpler and fairer,” certainly catch your attention. I hope you are as excited as I am to begin the important work of replacing our tax code, as we’ve not made major changes to it since the 1980s. So much has changed in our world in the more than three decades that have followed, and it’s never been more clear that the time has come to scrap our outdated, overly-complex tax code and replace it with a modern tax system that will deliver benefits for hard-working Americans and our businesses – all of which are competing now more than ever in a global economy. Many of you have shared with me in recent months your thoughts about tax reform and your ideas for improving our tax code, and I hope to hear from even more of you as this important work gets underway in earnest.
- White House. Joint statement on tax reform
- New York Times. White House and GOP leaders reach deal on principles of tax overhaul
- Roll Call. Tax overhaul moved forward without border adjustment plan
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