Washington Watch - 2/2/15



Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with Jennifer Diaz, a school counselor at White Oak Elementary School in Sugar Hill. Ms. Diaz was recently named a finalist for the National School Counselors Association's 2015 School Counselor of the Year award, and she was invited to Washington, D.C., to be recognized by national education leaders during National School Counseling Week. Ms. Diaz plays an instrumental role within our school system and in the lives of her students. I want to congratulate her on being named a finalist for such a prestigious award.

It's no secret that the Seventh District is one of nation's brightest lights when it comes to education. In fact, pictured above with Ms. Diaz is the 2014 National School Counselor of the Year, Robin Zorn from Mason Elementary School in Gwinnett County. All of this recognition and success is great news for our region as our economic success is directly linked to the success of our schools serving our students.


The House this week took on the horrific crime of human trafficking. The international trade in human beings is disgusting and immoral, and too often, unseen and unacknowledged. Thankfully, our American government is not turning a blind eye. January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and it provides us with an opportunity to focus on ending this crime.

Did you know that the U.S. Department of State estimates that there are currently more than 20 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, and that up to 2 million vulnerable children and adults are trafficked every year? Tragically, this crime isn't confined to corrupt regimes outside our borders. It is happening right here in our own country. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, between 15,000 -- 18,000 women and children are being forced into modern day slavery in the United States each year. These statistics are heartbreaking.

Over the past 15 years, Congress has enacted numerous laws to combat human trafficking in the United States and overseas. These efforts began with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, spearheaded by Representative Chris Smith, a tireless advocate here in Congress for the most vulnerable, and they continue today. Last week, we passed a number of bills that tackle many facets of this horrible crime, and help increase awareness across the country and around the world about what we can do to keep at risk youth and vulnerable men and women safe from predators. These bills will provide additional tools and resources for those public and private groups that are working hard every day to eradicate human trafficking and put an end to the exploitation of our most vulnerable residents.


As we look back on the first month of the 114th Congress, I want to share with you a few of the House's success stories. In just one month, we've passed 27 pieces of legislation, the vast majority with significant bipartisan support, including:

Approving the Keystone pipeline;
Passing the Hire More Heroes Act to make it easier for small businesses to hire veterans without running afoul of Obamacare;
Reauthorizing TRIA and correcting a Dodd-Frank regulation that harmed manufacturers, farmers, and Main Street businesses;
Restoring the 40-hour workweek and protecting the paychecks of millions of Americans;
Prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortions;
Ensuring that Obamacare mandates don't destroy volunteer fire departments;
Expediting the licensing of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports both to create jobs and strengthen our national security;
Blocking funds to implement the President's unconstitutional amnesty;
Reforming the regulatory process to require agencies to seek public input and adopt the least costly regulations; and
Combating human trafficking by passing 12 bills to protect the most vulnerable among us, especially children, and help survivors recover from the horror of being trafficked.
Of course, there is so much more that we will do this Congress to improve the lives of hard-working Americans, from ensuring that we pass a responsible federal budget to reauthorizing funding for children's health care programs to reforming parts of our tax code. I look forward to building on the great work that we've already done and moving our country forward.


Last week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) appointed me to serve on two important subcommittees: the Subcommittee on Aviation and the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. With a renewed focus this Congress on reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration and on reforming our nation's highway programs, I am so pleased that the Chairman has put Georgia's needs and Georgia's knowledge at the forefront of the committee. We have so much to offer from our part of the world, and I look forward to sharing our local successes with the rest of the nation.


This week the House is expected to consider H.R. 596, H.R. 50, and H.R. 527.

H.R. 596 is a very simple, one-page bill that repeals President Barack Obama's health care law. The Congressional Budget Office has made it clear that our current health care entitlement programs, of which the President's health law is a major part, are driving the increase in our national debt. The future of our nation's economic stability hangs in the balance, and this bill will ensure that our economy will be strong for all Americans.
H.R. 50, the "Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act," is a familiar bill to many of us. The House passed it with overwhelming support last year, but like so many other bills, it gathered dust on Harry Reid's desk. This year, H.R. 50, which requires that federal agencies better disclose the cost of federal mandates on state and local governments and equips Congress with the tools to determine the true costs of regulations, will hopefully have a chance of making it to the President's desk.
H.R. 527, the "Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015," is another bill to help American small business owners. The legislation requires federal agencies to consider the economic effects of regulations on small businesses before imposing regulatory mandates that prevent growth and hinder job creation. This is a common sense measure that I hope will become law soon.