Honoring Their Ultimate Sacrifice: Memorial Day
This weekend was filled with Memorial Day ceremonies throughout the 7th district, and I am once again so proud to live in a community that commits itself to honoring our heroes. This year I joined my neighbors at the City of Cumming Memorial Day Ceremony and the Gwinnett County Memorial Day Ceremony where we celebrated the lives and memorialized the sacrifices of our brave men and women who have died in the line of duty serving our nation and protecting our freedoms here and abroad. Certainly, many American families made time for bar-b-ques, graduation ceremonies, and pool parties as Memorial Day kicks-off the summer season, but it warms my heart to see how this district prioritizes the true meaning of this day
Defense Authorization Bill Gets Overwhelming House Support
The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 325-98 last week, and I'm happy to say that from my position on the House Rules Committee, I was able to work with Georgia's National Guard leaders to ensure that the Georgia's Guard interests were protected.
From troop pay to military readiness to how we can make the Department of Defense work more efficiently, no stone was left unturned as we discussed and debated how we can maintain our nation's fighting forces as the best in the world. I hope you are as proud as I am of how both sides came together to have an open and transparent dialogue about all the issues our military men and women face.
Water Resources Reform and Development Act One Step Away From President Obama's Desk
Following six months of negotiations to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), the bill was passed by the House by a near unanimous vote of 417-3. Now it awaits one final vote in the Senate before it goes to the President for his signature. This is a good bill for Americans in all parts of the world and it is proof that there are items out there that we can indeed find enough common ground on that we can move forward. I look forward to working towards more of these kinds of agreements.
As I have shared with you in the past, WRRDA provides the final necessary authorization for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to move forward. While that is incredibly valuable for everyone in this state, Georgia did once again come under fire from Alabama and Florida regarding water access. Despite their efforts to claim our water in the courts for decades, Georgia has been given the green light to move forward with the Army Corps of Engineers in the creation of a new water control manual with updated water withdrawal limits. In a last ditch effort, however, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions tried to used WRRDA to stymie that progress and legislate this Tri-State water negotiation from the Federal level. The Georgia delegation immediately went to work to protect Lake Lanier's water supply and passed a bill in the House void of the Sessions language and a conference report that ensured the States would continue their work to find a healthy partnership for all three stakeholders. To ensure clarity for everyone as we move forward, I asked Chairman Shuster to join me and several of my colleagues in a discussion to clarify that the bill bolsters Georgia's efforts to ensure an abundant water supply for the residents of the Seventh District for years to come.
IRS Responds to the Voice of Congress and the American People
It appears that the voices of the more than 150,000 Americans who weighed in on the IRS's proposal to change the rules governing 501(c)(4) organizations were heard loud and clear by the Obama Administration last week. While the House passed legislation that would have delayed the implementation of a final rule that could have had chilling effects on our Constitutional free speech rights, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has refused to allow that bill to move to the President's desk. Thankfully, the IRS announced last Thursday that it will not move forward with the proposed rule changes at this time. I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that we get to the bottom of the IRS scandal and that any new rules do not limit individuals' free speech.
House Votes to Reform the NSA Bulk Phone Data Collection Program
Last Thursday, I joined over 300 of my colleagues in sending H.R. 3361, the "USA FREEDOM Act" to the Senate. The bill ends the practice of bulk phone data collection by the government. The simple truth is that every bill I vote on regarding the national intelligence community alters the balance between security and freedom, and last week I was happy to vote in favor of one that turns the dial in favor of freedom. While there is no doubt more work to be done to protect our Constitutional rights, the USA FREEDOM Act is a great step in the right direction and represents a win for the American people.
Woodall and John Lewis Work Together to Support Autism Research
Too often, the American people think Congress is a place for partisan squabbles. Last week, however, I joined four of my Republican colleagues and seven of my Democrat colleagues in sending this letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking that it provide us data about how we are spending taxpayer dollars on autism research and how we can do a better job promoting those cutting-edge technologies -- like the ones being developed at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta -- to diagnose and treat autism in babies as young as 6 months old. The Oversight Committee, of which I am a member, held a hearing of federal autism activities this week as well, and I took advantage of that opportunity to shine a light on our community's important work. Coming together for a cause greater than politics really is easy to do when it means supporting families struggling with autism.
Last week my colleagues and I took a collective stand against a growing problem in our nation: human trafficking. On Wednesday, the House passed five anti-human trafficking bills by an overwhelming majority, and I believe they go a long way towards cracking down on the criminals responsible for this heinous crime and providing much needed support for victims, and those at high risk of becoming victims, of human trafficking. We all have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and I was proud to voice the Seventh District's support this week for legislative efforts to do just that.
The Week Ahead
This week the House will vote on the "FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act." Last week, the House Rules Committee, on which I sit, cleared the way for this bill to be brought to the floor under an Open Rule. An Open Rule means that any member of the House who wishes to offer an amendment to the bill may come to the House floor and do so. Because of this openness, we should have a robust, fruitful, and bipartisan debate on the merits of a bill that was approved unanimously by the House Appropriations Committee.
When Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) committed to making this House open and transparent, Open Rules and robust amendment debates were the very thing that he was talking about. This is truly a proud day for our Republic and for the leadership of this House of Representatives.
The House will also consider the H.R. 4681, the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015." This bill authorizes the activities of our nation's intelligence gathering agencies, and I expect that it will elicit an exciting debate on the House floor.
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