Newsletter: Washington Watch - 4/20/2015



On Thursday the House passed a critically important bill to repeal the death tax. The death tax, as you may know, is levied by the federal government on property transferred from deceased individuals to their heirs. This is a tax on property that's already been taxed; and it is immoral that the government would tax you again at the time of your death simply because you had the temerity to work hard, build a nest egg, and pass that along to your children. No family business, no family home, no family farm should be lost to the federal government in order to pay the death tax. What you earned, you should be able to pass along to your heirs without fear of Uncle Sam taking a cut of your legacy.

Though I supported this bill, as every little step forward in eliminating corrosive tax policies is a step in the right direction, my top tax priority continues to be the FairTax. April 15th might be behind us, but that doesn't mean we can forget about the unfair and convoluted income tax code, and we can't forget that the FairTax is the best way for our nation to boost economic growth and help middle-class families. President Obama has no intention of signing the FairTax into law, but the FairTax will not simply sit idle for the remainder of the President's term. In Congress, I continue to press for hearings and gather supporters. Across our district and across the country, I continue to share the story of opportunity and economic growth that only the FairTax can provide.


Last week I took to the floor to discuss a very important topic -- the impact of EPA regulations on Georgia families and businesses. The President has once again chosen to go around Congress to move his environmentalist agenda forward through regulatory fiat that would otherwise fail to advance through the normal legislative process. The truth is that every time the President goes it alone, we miss an opportunity to come together and put forward lasting solutions to our nation's problems. This time, he has chosen the go it alone route to impose burdensome new regulations on our nation's power plants.

Sadly, these new regulations will have a miniscule impact on global carbon emissions and a major impact on Georgians' wallets through higher electricity prices. At a time when many families in our state are still feeling the effects of a weak economy, we cannot afford to take even more money out of their pockets -- particularly on a policy that does virtually nothing to solve the problem it seeks to address. Just as many from Georgia and around the nation have spoken loudly against these regulations in their public comments to the EPA, and I will continue to be a strong voice against regulatory overreach and a strong voice against policies that have an adverse impact on Georgia families.


Historically, the federal government and states have been partners in protecting our nation's water quality. Unfortunately, the EPA proposed a new rule just last year entitled "Definition of "Waters of the United States' Under the Clean Water Act," which would represent a dangerous and unprecedented takeover of America's water. It would also stand in direct contravention of the 1972 Clean Water Act, which explicitly protects each state's right to regulate its own water, and several Supreme Court decisions, which have limited the reach of federal authority. The EPA's new power grab has prompted widespread concern among Georgia's business community--from farmers to golf course managers to commercial developers--that every ditch, puddle, pond, stream, river, and lake in the state of Georgia could soon fall under federal jurisdiction. That means that in order to maintain our roads, build new storefronts, or even make improvements in our own backyard, we could first have to seek the EPA's approval.

We have to stop this rule, and that's why I enthusiastically voted to pass a critical piece of legislation, H.R. 1732, out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday. This bill, entitled the "Regulatory Integrity Protection Act," would force the EPA to scrap their proposed rule entirely and replace it with an acceptable rule that results from a fair, transparent consultation process with state governments, local officials, and other stakeholders. Now that this bill has passed through our committee, I expect it to be coming to the House floor in the near future.


Last week, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) agreed to introduce legislation that would provide the President with Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The TPA legislation defines Congress' negotiating objectives and priorities, establishes consultation and notification requires between Congress and the Obama Administration, but most importantly, this legislation guarantees that the House and Senate will have the final say on whether to approve or deny U.S. concurrence with the trade agreement.

TPP is a large trade agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 other countries -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Together, the TPP countries are the largest goods and services export markets for the U.S. in the world, representing nearly $700 billion in exports in 2013. In agriculture alone, these countries represent 85% of the total U.S. ag exports. Georgia exported roughly $13 billion worth of goods and services annually to TPP countries between 2011 and 2013, and that will grow with a strong TPP agreement. Supporting TPA will bring us closer to achieving the economic benefits of TPP.


This week is cybersecurity week in the House, and we will be passing two important pieces of legislation that will protect Americans, our businesses, and our national security.

H.R. 1731, the "National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act," and H.R. 1560, the "Protecting Cyber Networks Act," ensure that the government and businesses can share information about cyber vulnerabilities so that we protect our economy and our homeland security. Cyber terrorism and cyber vandalism are growing threats, and I am pleased that Congress is working with the private sector to find ways to combat these threats.