Washington Watch - 1/20/15



I am looking forward to hosting another town hall meeting tonight at 7:30pm. President Obama is scheduled to give his State of the Union Address at 9:00pm in the U.S. Capitol, so I'm sure his expected speech will come up, but we'll be talking about much more. If you're able, I hope you will participate.


Last week, the House succeeded in passing H.R. 203, the "Clay Hunt SAV Act." H.R. 203 is named after a young Marine Cpl. Clay Hunt, who tragically committed suicide in 2011 after a long struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as he attempted to transition to a civilian life following his second tour of duty. Marine Cpl. Hunt was a hero at home and on the battlefield. H.R. 203 is a fitting legacy for Cpl. Hunt because it will make sure that the Department of Veterans Affairs has the resources available to prevent the suicide of our brave military personnel, like Marine Cpl. Hunt. It will also ensure that each of our heroes, including some of the more than 40,000 veterans living in the Seventh District, is screened regularly for mental health issues and provided with the latest treatments for PTSD.

As we continue working to reduce the backlog of disability claims and increase access to physical and mental health care facilities for our veterans, you can count on me to continue supporting our nation's veterans with each vote I cast. In the meantime, if you or a family member or friend is suffering with PTSD and are not sure where to turn, please call my office at 770-232-3005, and we will work together with one of my dedicated case officers to find you or your loved one the help that they need.


On Wednesday, the House acted to reverse President Obama's unconstitutional immigration programs and fully fund the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the Fiscal Year. I was proud to support the underlying bill, which fully funds Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, and other critical national security items. I voted for all five amendments to the bill as well. In combination, these important amendments repeal President Obama's unilateral illegal immigration policies and make clear that the roughly five million illegal immigrants covered under the President's November 2014 memoranda are not eligible to receive federal benefits. It is now up to the Senate to take up this legislation. While the bill that the Senate is able to pass may not be identical to the House bill, I hope that many of the important additions that were made on the floor are preserved in the final version that we send to the White House for President Obama's signature.


You may recall that on the first day of the 114th Congress, I introduced the FairTax Act with more day one support than ever before. The FairTax got another major boost this week, as Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced S. 155, the FairTax Act of 2015, in the United States Senate along with Georgia Senator David Perdue (R-GA). More and more Americans are realizing the need for a tax code overhaul, and I expect that we'll add even more supporters as tax filing season approaches. Already, the IRS is warning Americans that it will answer less than half the phone calls it receives this year while intruding into our lives even deeper than it does today. The American people deserve better, and I look forward to working with Senators Moran and Perdue to grow support for the FairTax and end the IRS once and for all.


I joined several members of the Georgia delegation this week in sending a letter to the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) requesting a delay of the recently released 870 page proposal to regulate prepaid financial products. We all know that new rules and regulations mean increased costs for businesses, and when the price of doing business goes up, consumers pay more and employees lose jobs. I suspect that at least some of the nearly $100 billion estimated to have been loaded on to prepaid cards in 2014 came from folks in the Seventh District, and if companies that process prepaid card transactions shed jobs as a result of the CFPB's proposed rules, I'm certain that employees across Georgia and in our district will be impacted since the transactions processing industry accounts for roughly 40,000 direct jobs and 80,000 indirect jobs in our state. The nation's largest prepaid card company, INCOMM, has several locations in the Seventh District and will be brining roughly 500 new jobs to our community, and another company, FIS Global, employs roughly 900 people in our district. That's why I believe it's so important for the CFPB to consider the potential harm that could result from its massive new proposal, and a delay will provide consumers and businesses more time to digest the proposed rules and offer comments.


This week the House is expected to consider H.R. 36 and H.R. 161.

H.R. 36, the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," is a good faith attempt on the part of the House to ensure that unborn children who have grown to beyond 20 weeks gestation -- the point at which some scientists and medical professionals believe that an unborn child can feel pain -- are not aborted, except in very rare cases.
H.R. 161, the "Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Act," would streamline the federal government's review process for approving natural gas pipeline applications. The U.S. is blessed with an abundance of clean natural gas, but we're not making the best use of that resource because we aren't moving around the country efficiently. Approving new pipelines would help lower energy prices across the country, and I look forward to supporting this bill.