It's been a fantastic week in the Seventh District of Georgia! I thank all of you who either came into my office or invited me into yours last week.
You'll notice a change in the look and length of my newsletter this week -- changes made in response to your feedback. I hope that this new, more compact format will help you find the information you need without being slowed down by the information that you don't.
Working for our Nation's Veterans
Last week President Obama signed the House-passed Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act into law. This bill, which passed Congress with huge bipartisan support in both chambers, will bring greater accountability to the VA health care system and will help our nation's veterans get the quality health care that they were promised.
Washington Times. Obama signs VA bill to pen outside care to veterans
Wall Street Journal. Obama signs VA overhaul bill
USA Today. Obama to sign VA bill on Thursday
As I met with a fantastic group from Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America in Cumming last week, we spoke about the VA reform bill and how critical it is for these veterans to have peace of mind in knowing that they can always get the health care they need in a timely manner. There is more to be done, however, to get the VA running even more efficiently and effectively. The House bill may deal with some of the immediate problems, but there are certainly more institutional issues that the House Veterans Affairs Committee and our local veterans organizations can work together to solve.
Joining The Fight Against Breast Cancer
Breast cancer affects American families every day, and in partnership with the American Cancer Society and the Gwinnett Medical Center, Paint Georgia Pink is helping our neighbors in Gwinnett County. Last week I had the pleasure of joining members of Paint Georgia Pink to present a check to the Gwinnett Medical Foundation for its Breast Cancer Patient Assistance Fund. This tremendous financial gift will help the men and women in our community who are fighting this disease. And yes, I said men and women. As the Gwinnett Medical Center and the PGP group knows too well, we forget that men get breast cancer too. In fact, 1 in 5 men who develop breast cancer have a close relative with the disease, and over 2,300 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
Service to our neighbors is something that brings all of us together -- regardless of party, heritage, race, or creed. I am so proud of the people who make up Paint Georgia Pink and their desire to serve. In Washington, we can do more to help great organizations like this by making it easier for them to comply with our cumbersome income tax code and by increasing their contribution base. Too many 501c(3) organizations like Paint Georgia Pink have to jump through hoops in order to get the tax-free status which allows them to engage in their charitable endeavors -- so streamlining the tax code is high on the House's "to-do list." In fact, the House has already passed H.R. 4719, the "America Gives More Act of 2014," which makes permanent tax policies that encourage individuals to give to charitable organizations. I was proud to support this bill, and I look forward to the Senate acting on it soon.
Looking for Common Ground on Immigration Reform
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to speak at a legislative issues forum sponsored by the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO). As the most diverse district in Georgia, you and I are fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with each other and learn from each other. The only way that America can grow stronger is if we put partisanship aside and work together to build an honest relationship based on mutual respect and trust.
Immigration reform doesn't need to be about Republicans and Democrats, and in fact, shouldn't be about them. It should be about making America strong. There is enough that unites us in America that we can have a common sense discussion about our common ground: securing our borders against drug traffickers, human traffickers and weapons traffickers; providing solutions to families who have been waiting in some cases more than 20 years trying to do immigration the right and legal way; providing a fair and efficient process for employers to seek temporary workers that they need while insuring that American workers are not disadvantaged; and more.
This common ground isn't just talk; it is action. The good news is that the House Judiciary Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee have already passed five bills that bridge this debate: H.R. 2278, the "SAFE Act," H.R. 1772, the "Legal Workforce Act," H.R. 1417, the "Border Security Results Act," H.R. 2131, the "Skills Visa Act," and H.R. 1773, the "AG Act." These bills lay the foundation for our common goals. If we can work together on those issues on which we all agree, I know that it will be much easier in the future for us to work together on bridging the gaps where we fundamentally disagree.
Local Georgia Businesses Mean Big Economic Growth
I often tell my colleagues in Washington, D.C., how important the Seventh District is to Georgia's economy and our growth as a nation, and I am always amazed to see the variety of industry that we are blessed to have in the Seventh District. You might be surprised too.
For example, last week I met with Chemence Inc., a specialty manufacturer of adhesives and sealants that has its North American headquarters right here in Forsyth County and employs approximately 200 of our neighbors. We all know "super glue" products, but did you know only one super glue is made in the United States? It's true, and it is made right here by Chemence. Next time you are buying super glue, look for the "Made in the USA" label and support local jobs. Chemence is continuing to develop new technologies for consumer, industrial, and medical markets, and I am grateful to have the kind of corporate citizenry that they bring to our community.
The "Made in the USA" label on Chemence's adhesives is a point of pride for this business, and I'm happy to report that Congress is supporting American made products. I support free trade, but it must also be fair trade. The House-passed version of the FY15 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act specifically prohibits the U.S. Trade Representative from waiving any "Buy America" requirements when negotiating trade agreements. This is good for our local businesses like Chemence, a good deal for local employees, and a good deal for America.
The Month Ahead
As the kids get ready to go back to school and our families make plans to enjoy the last few weeks before the unofficial end of summer through Labor Day, I hope that you will be able to make some time on your calendars to attend one of my Town Hall Meetings later this month. Below you will find the Town Hall Meeting schedule for in-person and telephone town hall meetings. I absolutely mean it when I say that I can only do my job serving you well if you share with me your thoughts and concerns about the direction our community and our country is moving.
Thank you for partnering with me. I really do believe that together, we are making a difference.