Government Funding Bills Receive Strong Bi-Partisan Support
Last week the House passed two appropriations bills with strong, bi-partisan support: the FY15 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act and the FY15 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act. These are the first two appropriations bills that the House has passed this year, and I expect the Senate to work on these bills and send them to the President's desk.
Georgians often remind me that Congress has the "power of the purse," and I'm happy to say that in support of our veterans, we're using it. Instead of just talking about supporting our veterans, the House is working together to make sure that the VA makes it as easy as possible for any veterans to go to any VA medical facility in the world and receive the best health treatment available.
Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Brings Georgia Know-How to Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday and Thursday of last week the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce was in Washington, D.C., for its annual visit. I was delighted to spend time with so many friends and neighbors. Together, we met with a number of important legislators, including House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade Chairman John Campbell (R-CA), Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, and Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) who represents the southern portion of Gwinnett County.
In all these meetings, our local business leaders had the opportunity to question these Congressional leaders about those issues that are critical to our state's economic prosperity -- water resources, transportation funding, immigration policy, monetary policy and the Federal Reserve, international trade, and more, as well as offer their insight about how federal policies are affecting boots on the ground in Georgia. Their visit was extremely valuable for me, and I thank everyone who attended for taking the time to share their knowledge with my colleagues.
Celebrating Charter Schools in Our Community
Last Friday I visited with students at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology (GSMST). GSMST is a point of pride for our community, and I thank the school for hosting me. This charter school is educating some of the best and brightest young minds in the Seventh District, and it's been recognized nationally for its accomplishments.
The students that I spoke with in the AP Government class were truly exceptional and brought up some of the most salient issues facing our country -- a dominant one being immigration reform. As a community with so many first generation families who believe in America, the opportunity she provides, and the rule of law that keeps her safe, working together with this generation of leaders, we can lead America forward.
Health Care Update
The House passed an extremely important measure last week that fixes a major flaw in Obamacare. Under current law, American health insurance companies that sell policies to Americans living abroad or foreigners legally living and working in the U.S. are subject to all the provisions of Obamacare. The problem with this is that foreign insurance companies are exempt from Obamacare. As such, Obamacare puts American companies at a significant disadvantage, and this will cost American jobs. Republicans and Democrats came together in the House to fix the problem, and now we need the White House and the Senate to work with us to make this change in the law.
We learned last week that healthcare.gov is in even deeper trouble than we thought. Not only is the back-end of the website inoperable at the moment, but it's going to cost $121 million to fix!
While we still don't know how many of the 8 million folks who HHS tells us have signed up for the plans were those who lost their insurance because of Obamacare and have now chosen a different plan, or how many of those folks have actually paid for their plans, but we do know the law is failing the very people it was intended to help -- the uninsured.
Oversight Subcommittee Examines America's Energy Export Policy
On Wednesday, my subcommittee held a hearing on liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports wherein we featured two witnesses from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of State. Our domestic energy producers have succeeded in spite of the Obama Administration's war on American energy, and I took this opportunity to ask a DOE official what the Administration's plan was to ensure the necessary infrastructure keeps pace with demand so that we're able to fully take advantage of this historic and potentially transformative energy opportunity for our nation.
Oversight Continues Search for Answers on Benghazi
Like many of you, I have been concerned about the obstruction and deception of the Obama Administration regarding the events of September 11, 2012. The revelation that a key email was omitted from the documents turned over to Congress until this week further undermined the Administration's credibility on this issue. Speaker John Boehner weighed in on the issue and even called on Secretary of State John Kerry to testify on why the Administration failed to properly comply with a congressional subpoena. The intolerable stonewalling of the Obama Administration over even the most basic details and information on Benghazi is driving Congress toward a special Select Committee to investigate.
War on Poverty Hearing
Georgia's poverty rate is nearly three percentage points higher than the national average. On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee invited three guests who have worked tirelessly to reduce poverty, and I applaud Chairman Paul Ryan's effort to meet with members of communities where our government programs are being most frequently utilized. What was clear from talking with these folks is that funding is not the cure to addressing economic mobility -- it is just part of a broader effort to change how people view work, government dependency, and education.
The Week Ahead
This week is National Charter Schools Week. As you saw above, I had the pleasure of visiting the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST) last week, and this week I am happy that the House is going to consider a bill -- H.R. 10, the "Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act" -- that will help innovative charter schools like GSMST to thrive.
The House will also be considering a very important, though very unfortunate issue -- a resolution holding Ms. Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her failure to testify about the IRS tax-exempt organization targeting scandal.
We have been investigating the IRS for over a year now, and I hope that with this resolution, the Administration will finally realize that Congress will not allow partisan politics to proliferate in the IRS, nor will we accept being stonewalled in our investigation into this matter.