Department of Veterans Affairs
Our veterans deserve our care, our respect, and our support, and I know that my colleagues and I in Congress are determined to hold those persons accountable who have broken that trust between the American people and our veterans. The terrible stories emanating from the Phoenix VA hospital of secret waiting lists and the possibility that this practice was being used in other VA hospitals around the country is so disturbing that the VA Secretary resigned from his post last week. While resignation is a serious consequence, it doesn't fix the problem, which seems to be deeply-rooted in a culture of obfuscation.
The positive news that we can take from this terrible incident is that the American people are now demanding answers and accountability. The House has already passed a bill making it easier to fire senior VA officials who have engaged in wrong-doing. The Senate must now act and send the bill to the President. The House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees have already held hearings and I am certain that there will be more in the future to find the truth.
Congress has prioritized our veterans funding and increased the VA's budget by 122 percent over the past ten years. Earlier this year, the House passed a bill to fund the VA at the levels the VA requested. This shameful episode isn't about money; it is about management, and we will get to the bottom of it.
I encourage you to visit the House Veterans Affairs Committee website for the most updated information on what the House is doing to find justice for our veterans.
Honoring America's Gulf War Veterans
One bill that you might not have seen considered in Washington this week was H.R. 503. Known as the "National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Act," it authorizes construction of a memorial in Washington, D.C., to recognize those who have served our nation -- including many from Georgia -- in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. We must never forget to honor those who have voluntarily put themselves in harm's way to protect our nation's hard-earned freedoms, and I was proud to join my colleagues in unanimously passing this bill.
On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that Gross Domestic Product declined in the First Quarter by an annualized rate of 1.0%.
Given this winter's cold weather and difficult job market, these results are disappointing, though they are not entirely unexpected. As the following chart indicates, economic growth has been weak and unpredictable coming out of the Great Recession. In fact, this is one of the worst post-recession "recoveries" in my lifetime. To make matters worse, even though we have seen some growth, we still have a stubbornly high and unacceptable unemployment rate with low labor force participation. These results are unacceptable to me, and I know they are unacceptable to you.
As you know, my colleagues and I in the House have passed numerous bills to get the government out of the way of job creators and foster economic growth. Currently, there are more than 40 jobs bills that the House has passed, but that remain unaddressed in the Senate. Please take a moment to review our jobs bill tracker here --http://majorityleader.gov/JobsTracker/.
There is a time and place to debate new regulations that will raise costs and slow productivity--regulations like the ones that President Obama just announced on carbon. But America hasn't even fully implemented all of the previous rounds of regulations. Dodd-Frank to reregulate financial services isn't complete, though it passed into law in President Obama's first term. Obamacare to reregulate healthcare isn't complete, though it passed into law in President Obama's first term. We all want a safe and clean America, but we also all want a job and economic opportunity for our families. Can't we agree to stop changing the rules and making it harder at least until American families get back on their feet? Until our economy is growing again--not at one or two percent, the new anemic normal--but at four and five percent, as we must have to recover, I will resist any and all efforts to continue the march toward a regulation nation.
House Passes Third Appropriations Bill for FY15
The House passed the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill in the early morning hours of May 30th by a strong bipartisan vote of 321-87. While the House has nine more appropriations measures to vote on to reach our goal of passing each individual bill before the end of the Fiscal Year, the cooperative spirit shown during the CJS debate fills me with hope that we will be able to tackle the tough issues that face this country together.
When the President signed the Bipartisan Budget Act in December 2013, funding levels were set to allow the House and Senate to fund the government on time for the first time in a decade. Passing three appropriations bills in May puts the House well on its way to meeting that goal, but unfortunately, the Senate has yet to take up the House bills or passing any others of its own. While I never underestimate the ability of the Senate to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, I remain hopeful that we can put the days of "continuing resolutions" behind us.
2014 Special Olympics Georgia Summer Games
On Friday I had the honor of participating in the opening ceremonies for the 2014 Special Olympics Georgia Summer Games. This year's games were held at Emory University and featured more than 2,200 athletes, coaches, and unified partners, participating in nine events -- making it the largest games in Georgia history. It was wonderful to see the excitement on the faces of the many athletes who had worked all year to prepare for the games; and the pride and joy of the parents, families, coaches, volunteers, and friends of the participants was on full display. I want to congratulate all those who competed, and offer my best wishes to the athletes who will be representing the State of Georgia at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games later this month in New Jersey.
The Week Ahead
This week I am happy to be back in Georgia hosting our June Town Hall Meeting series beginning on Tuesday. While I available to you any time, if any of these times and locations are convenient for you, I hope to see and visit with you then.
Gwinnett County Town Hall Meeting
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Buford City Hall
2300 Buford Highway
Buford, GA 30518
Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Forsyth County Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, June 5, 2014
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Cumming Regional Readiness Center
100 Aquatic Circle
Cumming, GA 30040
Telephone Town Hall Meeting
Thursday, June 12, 2014
As schools end and summer begins, I hope that your week is full of joy and family. If I can be of any service to you or your neighbors, please let me know.
Member of Congress