Washington Watch 7/3/17
Throughout history, those who have risked everything in order to obtain or preserve freedom have often had the most insightful perspective on its value. As Commander of the Continental Army, Founding Father, and our first President, George Washington certainly belongs in that category. His belief that “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth,” perfectly captures our American story. It was those like him who established the roots that took hold to see us through not only the remarkable growth and success he predicted, but the challenges and difficulties as well.
On Independence Day, we celebrate the sum of those parts, because ultimately the freedom and opportunity that we all cherish comes with a great deal of unknowns along the way. The American spirit has always embraced that reality. We long to live independently and bear the full weight of our choices, our successes, and our failures. The acceptance of both the weight and value of liberty is what makes the American Dream possible, as well as endless.
The Fourth of July – Independence Day – is our day more so than any other throughout the year. It’s a time we celebrate who we are as a people and take stock of the freedom afforded to us by the brave sacrifices of so many. That’s reason enough to celebrate, but the celebration isn’t just a remembrance of these things. It is an active act of gratitude, and that’s why it’s so important in our communities across the country. The Fourth of July isn’t a day; it’s a feeling, a reality, and the emblem of a gift bought with tremendous courage and vision. It brings us together with a shared sense of humility and patriotism that never gets old and which reinvigorates us all.
When we come together around our American ideals and principles, those things on which we may disagree seem to get much smaller and put into perspective. It’s not that we’re unaware of our differences, we’re just reminded that there is in fact much more that unites us, and that is where we place our focus. Our strongest and proudest moments as Americans have always come when this is the case.
In a land where freedom prevails, one would expect varying opinions on many issues, but we’re all a part of an American family, and that is always especially clear on the Fourth of July. We remember our humble beginnings, acknowledge our ups and downs along the way, and optimistically look ahead while standing shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors. The roots that took hold 241 years ago run deep, and are stronger than ever. As Washington anticipated, we’ve grown a lot – and we’re still growing – but we’re a sight to see. Happy Independence Day!
Last Tuesday, my colleagues and I on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked-up and passed the most comprehensive reform of our nation’s aviation laws since President Eisenhower was in office. If you’re not familiar with the “mark-up” process, it’s when the committee of jurisdiction reviews a piece of legislation line by line and every member on the committee is allowed to propose changes as he or she sees fit. For this mark-up, we spent nine hours discussing and voting on more than 80 separate amendments from both Republicans and Democrats. Some won and some lost, but as a result of this open process that was live-streamed online, we walked out of the committee room with a better product than we started with. In fact, an amendment I proposed to increase transparency and consumer protections for air ambulance customers passed and was included in the final bill that will now move on to the Rules Committee, and eventually the House floor, for further consideration.
If you’re a frequent reader of my newsletter, you already know about this FAA bill. If you’re new to the newsletter, I encourage you to read more about the changes we’re proposing here. We’re working to reduce flight delays, ensure travelers are treated with the respect and fairness they deserve, and allow American companies to get better aviation products to market faster. You can read the full bill text, review the organizations that are supporting it, and take a look at the key aspects of reform. You can also look at all the amendments we considered to the bill right here. There are some notable differences in the House and Senate approaches to FAA reform, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Capitol to forge consensus on a final product that will unleash the next great chapter in American aviation.
- Washington Post. Panel makes progress on bill privatizing air traffic control
- USA Today. House panel votes to privatize air-traffic control
- Fox Business. House presented with bill calling for sweeping FAA reform
On Monday, the House of Representatives approved my bill, the “Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act,” by a unanimous vote of 409-0! I was excited to head to the floor and discuss the changes we’re making to ease veterans into good-paying jobs in the commercial trucking industry by reducing federal red tape. We also made progress in the Senate, because in addition to passing its own version of the FAA reauthorization, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the Senate-version of my bill that was introduced by Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). The next stop is the Senate floor and then on to the President’s desk. I can’t wait to get this done!
- American Shipper. House passes bills aimed at getting more veterans into trucks
Local mayors, county commissioners, and governors have been fighting for years to stop implementation of an Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that would have given the federal government control over vast numbers of waterways, lakes, streams, and ponds all over the country, even if those waterways only had a tangential relationship to federally-controlled waters. Congress has been fully engaged in trying to return control from Washington to local government. The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule was a classic example of Washington overreach into an area best left to state and local authorities. We all want clean water, but nobody in Gwinnett or Forsyth County needs the EPA telling them how to best keep their ponds clean. The Trump Administration’s EPA rescinded this rule last week and will work with stakeholders and states to develop a better clean water rule that ensures safe drinking water for millions of Americans without infringing on private property rights or over-burdening farmers and small businesses. I’m heartened that we’ve been able to move the Administration to take this issue seriously and do what’s best for America.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Woodall, Hice cheer move to rescind “Waters of the US” rule
- The Hill. EPA moves to repeal Obama water rule
- Washington Times. EPA moves to kill Waters of the U.S. rule
The Seventh District is home to a rich and culturally diverse immigrant community, of which many have waited years to get their legal status, all the while working hard to contribute to our local economy and making our schools, churches, and community organizations richer in the process. We are truly blessed to be part of this melting pot, and I am lucky to be this District’s representative in Congress because I have the opportunity to bring our values to Washington, D.C.
What saddens me, however, is when the actions of a few criminal individuals soil the reputation of the millions who came here legally and have contributed to the betterment of our country. I believe we must do everything in our power to ensure the safety and security of our community, which is why I was happy to join my colleagues in the House to pass H.R. 3003, the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act,” which would defund localities that flout federal immigration law, and H.R. 3004, “Kate’s Law,” named for Kate Steinle who was murdered by a criminal, undocumented alien who had been deported multiple times from the U.S. These bills fulfill the promise made to the American people to pursue immigration reform and enforcement, and we started with common-sense measures with which almost all Americans agree. We must make sure that violent criminals – who should not be here in the first place – cannot destroy families in the future. I am hopeful the Senate will take up these common-sense bills quickly and send them to the President’s desk for his signature.
- The Hill. House passes 'Kate's Law' and bill targeting sanctuary cities
- The Washington Post. The story behind ‘Kate’s Law’ — and how it could change immigration policies in the U.S.
- CNN. House passes 'Kate's Law' and bill declaring war on sanctuary cities
If you’re still looking for ideas on how to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday tomorrow, I have good news: there are all kinds of opportunities available close by! From Lake Lanier, to Stone Mountain, to city celebrations across the region, our patriotism will be on full display. Whatever your plans, I hope it’s a safe and enjoyable time for you and your family. To live freely is truly a gift, and on this day we celebrate the legacy of liberty, as well as those who risked everything to make it a reality. Happy Independence Day!
- Forsyth County News. Where to watch July 4 fireworks in north Georgia
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Gwinnett bursting with Independence Day events this weekend
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