Washington Watch - 9/16/19
Eighteen years ago, last Wednesday, our country and the world were forever changed by the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93. For many of us, we can remember vividly each detail of that September morning. Others are too young to remember that day, but nonetheless are all too aware of the consequences of the attacks and how they shaped our nation. Across America, we shared moments of silence, read aloud the names of those we lost, and prayed for the victims and their loved ones.
While that terrible day will be remembered by all for the pain and sorrow it brought, it is also remembered for the renewed sense of unity and determination it sparked in our nation. September 11, 2001 was a day of great heroism, and it revealed the character of our great nation. The courage of our first responders and everyday Americans who risked their lives to save family, friends, and strangers alike, will live on as the most enduring memory of the heartbreaking events in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
- 11 Alive. Liberty Middle School pays tribute to first responders
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Personal connections to 9/11 remembered in Duluth
Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s (T&I) Subcommittee on Highways and Transit continued working toward reauthorizing the nation’s surface transportation programs by holding a hearing where lawmakers were able to learn more about congestion mitigation and financing strategies across the country. We know how critical it is for Americans to be able to get to work, drop their kids off at school, make a doctor’s appointment, or pick a loved one up at the airport on time, and I’m continually impressed by the T&I Committee’s commitment to learning from stakeholders around the nation about ways that we can structure federal policies to mirror those positive reforms already in place in localities from metro Atlanta to Chicago to New York to Dallas and beyond.
With my expectation that the fourth quarter will be the most productive yet, I also want to take this opportunity to update you on what you can expect from the House T&I Committee in the weeks and months ahead. The Committee is poised to consider a bill to reauthorize programs administered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PHMSA plays a critical role in ensuring our nation’s energy sources and hazardous materials are transported safely and efficiently, while simultaneously adhering to and upholding environmental standards. And while I don’t expect a new Water Resources Development Act to pass the committee until 2020, this week the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will discuss the Administration’s Clean Water Act priorities and how we can serve the interests of consumers, farmers, and the environment.
More than 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. U.S. manufacturers export more made-in-America manufactured goods to our North American neighbors than they do to the next 11 largest export markets combined. These two countries also account for nearly one-third of U.S. agricultural exports. Additionally, they are the top two export destinations for U.S. small and medium-size businesses, more than 120,000 of which sell their goods and services to Canada and Mexico.
The House needs to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It is the best trade deal of my lifetime. Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows it and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy knows it. While no bill is a perfect bill, now is the time to work together to move this agreement forward.
Thank you, Fox Business, for inviting me to discuss why Congress needs to support American workers, manufacturers, and farmers. Click on the image below to watch my interview with Charles Payne.
Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of death worldwide. The progress we have made combating cancer would not be possible without the efforts of those like the American Cancer Society. I would like to thank you for coming to meet with me last week to discuss the ways in which Congress can best support research and prevention efforts to ensure our continued progress in the fight against cancer.
Among the bipartisan efforts moving forward in the House is a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The work that NIH does is unparalleled on the planet. America leads the globe in innovative research and cures, and we must continue that effort.
There are many obstacles that make it difficult for employers to encourage and help their employees save for the future. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from the Financial Services Institute (FSI) to discuss common sense legislation that would remove some of these obstacles and make it easier for Americans to save for a financially secure retirement. I would like to thank FSI for stopping by to discuss this issue. Retirement savings is a topic that impacts thousands of us here in the 7th District.
On Wednesday, President Trump called for a ban of flavored e-cigarettes. The President and members of his Administration say the flavored concoctions used in the devices are being marketed to kids, leading to a startling rate of young users nationwide. Many of you have written in to share your thoughts. Here’s a look at some of the opinions I’ve received thus far:
Stephanie from Cumming:
Too many students believe vaping is a safe alternative to smoking – some don’t realize it contains nicotine at all. In reality, a single JUUL prefilled liquid pod contains as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. According to the U.S. surgeon general, that can cause addiction and harm to the developing brain. Yet, e-cigarette use has jumped 78% among high school students since 2017. I am dedicated to ending tobacco use, nicotine addiction and tobacco-related deaths in the U.S., and this is the place to start. Please do what you can to pass the Tobacco to 21 Act and protect our nation’s youth by raising the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 nationwide. Thank you.
Dieter from Lawrenceville:
If the recent illnesses were caused by vaping, I would support this, but it isn't. It is caused by harmful additives being mixed with illegal THC. This issue cropped up in late May or early June, only in the USA, and only affecting young people. Vaping is 95% safer than smoking combustible tobacco. Each day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks out of the year, 1300+ people die from smoking or smoking-related diseases. Responsible vaping is the most effective method of quitting. Patches, gums, drugs, even hypnotism, are nowhere near as effective as vaping. The facts speak for themselves. To ban vaping or flavors would be like banning eating due to obesity.
Michelle from Duluth:
When I smoked cigarettes six years ago I was always sick with bronchitis and pneumonia. When I started vaping I have had no lung infections. I don't cough or wheeze. I'm the healthiest I've ever been. It's not the legal vape shops that are making vaping unsafe. It's street drugs and legalizing marijuana. Vaping saved my life and many others.
I’m certainly glad the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are looking into this issue. Vaping is relatively new and there may be some unknown long-term side effects of which we are only now learning. Vaping may also be a safer, healthier alternative to smoking. Right now, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health experts are weighing in. I understand that there are people who have strong feelings on both sides. For now, I support the FDA and other federal studies as we actively investigate the potential hazards and benefits of e-cigarettes.
We in the 7th District understand the importance of disaster relief preparedness. Just recently, Forsyth County was recognized as a “StormReady Community,” an honor bestowed by the National Weather Service and the Georgia StormReady Advisory Board. This designation certifies that a community has implemented a wide array of safety measures like the establishment of a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center. Forsyth County first received this recognition in 2007 and has since implemented additional safeguards to protect the community from natural disasters.
I would like to commend the Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency for all its hard work in earning this distinction. These precautions are essential to keeping our community safe during severe weather crises.
- Forsyth County News. Forsyth County, EMA recognized as Storm Ready
In the 7th District, we are proud to be continually recognized as having some of the best schools in the country – an achievement made possible only by the hard work of our children’s talented educators. Last week, 139 of these teachers were named “Teachers of the Year” by Gwinnett County Public Schools in recognition of their passion and commitment to our students and the school system.
Later this month, 25 of these teachers will move on to the semifinals, and then in mid-October, six individuals will be selected for the final round. On November 14th, Gwinnett County’s top teacher will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year banquet.
I hope you will join me in congratulating all of these teachers for this outstanding achievement. Again, the success of our schools would not be possible without the dedicated effort of these talented individuals.
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gwinnett names 139 local school Teachers of the Year
This week is going to be very busy in the House of Representatives as we plan to consider a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will fund the government beyond the current September 30th deadline. Of course, I’m disappointed that we’re discussing a CR again – as we have done too many times over the past few years under both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, even though Congress and the White House agreed earlier this year on top-line funding numbers for FY20 and FY21, partisan debates about unrelated policy riders coming from Members on both sides of the aisle have continued to stymie the process. I hope that we can use the next few months to find that common-ground that will let us move critical appropriations bills to the President’s desk.
In addition, the Rules Committee is going to consider H.R. 1423, which passed on a nearly party-line vote out of the Judiciary Committee last week. Should H.R. 1423 become law, which I doubt given its partisan nature, it would overrule private contract arrangements and force Americans to go to court to settle disputes instead of engaging in low-cost arbitration with a business or an employer. I can certainly understand why some people support this measure – especially trial lawyers who would benefit greatly from an increase in lawsuits – but I’m not convinced that eliminating arbitration and forcing people to hire a lawyer is the best course of action. I don’t object to reforming arbitration contract requirements, but eliminating them altogether is short-sighted and will make it more difficult for employees and consumers to access our judicial system.
And as is the case every week, you can CLICK HERE to see a full list of measures that the House will vote on. I hope you will share your thoughts about them with me!
Member of Congress