Washington Watch - 8/5/13
TRUTH THROUGH TRANSPARENCY
Last week, the House was focused on approving a number of bills that roll-back unnecessary and harmful rules and regulations from the executive branch and helping America’s entrepreneurs unleash their creative power on our economy. One of the ways that we can help Americans innovate and work to eliminate government over-regulation is to empower Americans with the same knowledge that federal bureaucrats have. This was the catalyst for my amendment to the “Energy Consumers Relief Act,” which passed the House on Thursday. The bill would return to Congress for a vote all Administration rules and regulations with a cost of more than $1 billion to the U.S. economy. After all, shouldn't we want to get such big rules absolutely right?
I offered an amendment, which passed on Wednesday, that requires the government to provide to the public all the information and calculations that the government uses to write a new rule or regulation. For too long, federal agencies have published rules and kept Congress and the public in the dark about how those rules came to be, saying essentially, “just trust us, we interpreted the data correctly.” Now, Congress and the public will be able to decide if that’s really the case.
HOLDING THE LINE ON FEDERAL SPENDING
As Congress heads into a series of expected early fall budget battles, my colleagues and I on the Republican Study Committee’s Budget and Spending Task Force put down a clear marker to keep federal spending in check. Recently, there have been calls to “turn off” additional sequester cuts in favor of higher defense spending. The House Appropriations Committee has already charted a path with its spending allocations to ensure that defense needs are met while keeping aggregate spending to a minimum. On Friday, I presented Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers with this letter to show him that the Republican Study Committee leadership supports his current work and rejects any effort to push the House into the trap of overspending that characterized so many Congresses before us.
STANDING STRONG AGAINST IRAN AND SUPPORTING ISRAEL
As many of you know, for years, the U.S.-Israel partnership is a top priority for me. Last week, I joined my colleagues in supporting House passage of H.R. 850, the “Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013,” which will further promote stability in the region and protect Israeli citizens from Iran’s escalating threats.
The ultimate goal of H.R. 850 is to close the remaining loopholes in our sanctions laws against Iran by making sure that the Iranian regime is finally stripped of its support from a number of countries and business entities that continue to subsidize Iran’s efforts to advance its nuclear capability. Our commitment to Israel’s security and overall peace in the region has helped to maintain a certain degree of stability for Israel and its neighbors for more than 34 years. Though violence in the region has increased, I am hopeful that our strong partnership with Israel and our ongoing collaboration on defense and security issues will continue to protect Israeli citizens and promote greater stability in the region. We must continue to stand with Israel, and I am proud to support additional legislation that will continue to demonstrate America’s unwavering support for Israel.
To learn more about H.R. 850, I would encourage you to read Representative Ed Royce’s (R-CA) statement on the bill.
REACHING BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON STUDENT LOANS
Last week, the House easily passed a bipartisan, bicameral agreement by an overwhelming margin to maintain our nation’s commitment to students and their families as they fund their college educations, but to restructure that aid so that it benefits both today's taxpayers and tomorrow's students. The bill takes politics out of the equation by fixing student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.05 percent, with an overall cap of 8.25 percent. Most importantly, it empowers parents and students, not politicians, when it comes to funding a college education. When we focus on one issue at a time, even with this Senate, we are getting things done to make government more efficient and more accountable.
KEEPING THE IRS AWAY FROM YOUR HEALTH CARE
It’s well known now that the IRS has been engaged in political targeting of American citizens and misuse of taxpayer dollars to fund lavish conferences. The House is doing its best to root-out these questionable practices, but even more upsetting than knowing about the IRS’ past bad behavior is knowing that this is the same agency that is going to be responsible for ensuring that every American has government-approved health insurance. It’s the same agency that is going to be responsible for implementing the employer mandate, the individual mandate, and ensuring that folks aren’t cheating the American taxpayer by claiming Obamacare subsidies that they aren’t entitled to receive. Putting the IRS in charge of health care in this way is a terrible idea, and I co-sponsored H.R. 2009 to prevent it from happening.
On Friday, H.R. 2009 passed the House. We must now focus on the Senate and encourage it to pass legislation that prohibits the IRS from implementing or enforcing any provision of Obamacare.
KOREAN AMERICAN CONVENTION ON CAPITOL HILL
Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of speaking to the Council of Korean Americans’ Convention on Capitol Hill.
This convention was an educational forum for its members and supporters and a celebration of the ongoing success of the Council of Korean Americans. I have always believed that when we as individuals come together to solve their own challenges within our communities, we outshine any attempts by the federal government. And that is exactly what the Council of Korean Americans is doing. The group is successfully involving and motivating Korean Americans in the Seventh District and throughout the country to take the lead on working on the most important issues facing us today. Community involvement is the key to affecting change at every level of government.
Rep. Rob Woodall meets with 7th District resident Grace Choi at the
Council of Korean Americans' Convention in Washington.
REDUCING THE VA DISABILITY BENEFIT BACKLOG
As a result of last year’s passage of the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, which I supported, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced a program to award veterans who file a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) up to one year of retroactive disability benefits. The VA states that a FDC is one in which the veteran includes all supporting evidence in their possession at the time of their initial claim. This information includes private medical records, service medical records, and any information the veteran has access to that the VA would otherwise have to spend time gathering and receive permission from the veteran to acquire. The VA also encourages veterans to work with Veteran Service Organization which can help the veterans put together their FDC. By encouraging FDCs, the VA hopes to significantly cut down on the current backlog of claims since FDCs require less VA resources to process.
You can read more about the VA’s program here, and if you know a veteran who can be served by this opportunity, please send them to my office. The program does have a time limit for action, however, and to be eligible for the retroactive benefits, veterans must file their FDC before August 5, 2015.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THE AUGUST TOWN HALL MEETINGS
This round of August town hall meetings is posted on my events calendar, and I hope you will find one to attend. Together, we can make Washington, D.C., more responsive to the needs of the 7th District of Georgia.
THE WEEK AHEAD
This week, Congress will begin the August District Work Period. For the next month I will have the pleasure and the privilege of spending most of my time in the great State of Georgia. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to discuss what’s been happening in Washington, how it is affecting the lives of hard-working Georgians, what has been done right, and what we can do better.
While my August schedule is already very full of meetings with constituent groups throughout the district, visits to local businesses, and town hall meetings, if you have any concerns about how Washington is serving you, this is the time to make an appointment to come visit me. Just call my office at (770) 232-3005 or email me at Woodall@mail.house.gov. I am here to serve you.
Member of Congress