The U.S. House of Representatives passed, by a 240-179 vote, the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 1105), which, as the name of the indicates, ends the federal estate tax, known to many as the “death tax.”
Every Republican in Georgia’s House delegation voted for the bill. Most of them were cosponsors. And, as one might imagine, the press shops for many Georgia-based House Republicans quickly sent out press releases praising the passage of the Death Tax Repeal Act.
You can find the press releases we’ve received below. Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Democrat, also cosponsored and voted for the bill, though we haven’t received a press release from his office and his statement has been included below.
We’ll update the post if and when we receive more press releases.
We received the video of Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14) from his office where he is questioning IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen during today’s House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services hearing on the IRS’ budget request for fiscal year 2016. You can view the exchange below:
A couple of comments from Congressman Graves regarding fraudulent tax returns being filed during the questioning:
Rep. Graves: “It strikes me rather odd – and I imagine the Committee and the American people – that the Internal Revenue Service would, without verification, sent out a refund just because they received a submission online through an online portal, without verification whatsoever, and deposit that money to an unverified account without being able to track it to an individual. But that’s what happens. And it’s $5.8 billion [in fraud] just in one year.”
… Rep. Graves: “I believe that it (the IRS) is an agency that, without verification, sends out refunds very rapidly, very quickly, to folks who are criminals and have no verification whatsoever and deposits that money knowing that they will never get it back. And all the same knowing that $5.8 billion could go to defense, it could go to so many other needs within our country right now. It could go to lowering taxes on hard-working Americans. But instead criminals all across the country, if not across the world, are receiving these tax refunds.”
Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA-09) sent out a newsletter over the weekend about the successful challenge to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ regulation targeting AR-15 ammunition:
I received some good news this week. The Club for Growth, a limited-government group, scored my votes for economic freedom among the most consistent in Congress. I ranked 35th among members in 2014and am second among active Georgia members. I’m proud to be a free-market conservative!
Also, a Fox News columnist called it a “rare victory,” but Georgians’ successful challenge to proposed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulations, which would have regulated common ammunition for America’s most popular rifle out of existence, was much more than that: It was a model for conservative action.
The ATF, following another of the president’s unconstitutional orders, after Americans denied him the power to tamper with our Second Amendment, introduced a new “framework” targeting hunting and sporting ammunition for the AR-15. The agency, re-interpreting 30-year old settled law, claimed criminals could adapt AR-15 ammo for handguns. The heavier rounds could therefore be “armor-piercing” and banned, according to a 1986 federal law Congress intended to protect police officers.
However, in the same law, foreseeing the potential for government overreach, Congress also included a “sporting exemption” to protect the gun ownership rights of law-abiding citizens, whose rifles would be obsolete without necessary ammo. Sidestepping Congress’ exemption, the agency failed to present proof that criminals are exploiting AR-15 rounds, failing even to publish its new rules in a transparent manner.
As a member of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus, I’m always on the lookout for infringements on our Second Amendment rights, essential freedoms like any other. So along with Georgia’s entire House Republican delegation, I challenged the ATF Director to substantiate his agency’s claims. Over 80,000 concerned citizens flooded the bureau with complaints, resulting in its withdrawal of its proposal late last week.
Motivated and organized, we forced the agency to back off its unconstitutional regulations, another of the president’s end-runs around the Constitution, Congress and popular opinion — and showed how to stop him in the future.
Also, congratulations, Congressman on your rating from the Club for Growth!
The Georgia State Senate passed a resolution on Wednesday, urging Congress to draft a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
SR 155 passed by a vote of 37 to 17 and was sponsored by Sen. Judson Hill (R – Marietta).
Georgia joins other states that have introduced similar legislation to encourage Congress to act on a balanced budget amendment. In 1995, a widely-supported Congressional balanced budget amendment failed by one vote. In 2014, a similar bill also sponsored by Hill passed the Georgia State Senate, but failed to receive a vote in the Georgia House of Representatives.
The big question in Washington today was whether the Department of Homeland Security was going to get funded past tonight’s deadline, and if it did, would the funding bill have restrictions preventing President Obama’s executive order allowing additional illegal immigrants to get work permits and driver’s licenses under an expanded DACA and the new DAPA program.
After the Senate passed a clean funding bill that did not block the so-called “Executive Amnesty,” House leaders tried to buy time by pressing for passage of a three week short-term funding bill for DHS. As the AJC’s Daniel Malloy reports, the effort failed, and Georgia Congressmen Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk were the only Georgia congressmen voting against GOP leadership on the bill.
Hice and Loudermilk waited a long time before casting their “no” votes, as GOP leaders tried to cajole various members. Hice voted last, after chief deputy whip Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., came by and whispered in his ear.
Later, Hice and Loudermilk were summoned into the Republican cloakroom but did not change their votes.
For all of those who threatened to impeach the two freshmen congressmen when they voted in favor of John Boehner as Speaker of the House last month: it appears that both have learned their lesson.
After the vote in the House failed, workers at the Department of Homeland Security were informed about how to react. And, a new plan was proposed by those who hope to force the President to drop his plans to temporarily give undocumented immigrants legal status.
And the House Freedom Caucus has made an offer to leadership: 3-week CR that expires in 1 week if the Senate doesn't go to conference.
US Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) both praised the unanimous passage of HR 203, the Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill, which garnered both bipartisan and bicameral support. You can read the press release in its entirety below:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, praised Senate passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act today by a vote of 99-0.
The legislation (H.R.203) — passed unanimously out of the Senate VA Committee on Jan. 21, 2015, as the committee’s first priority this Congress — seeks to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for American veterans. Read more
Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA-09) issued a press release yesterday concerning the federal land sale of under-used tracts of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest:
Today, Congressman Doug Collins (GA-09) introduced the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Land Adjustment Act to facilitate transfer of under-used U.S. Forest Service lands to private hands, a move to boost Northeast Georgia’s recreation and economy.
“This bill would eliminate federal waste, saving taxpayer money, and provide more opportunities to Georgians from around the state to enjoy our beautiful region,” said the Ninth District Republican.
Under Rep. Collins’ bill, H.R. 470, the Forest Service would sell remote tracts at market value and buy others with the proceeds, consolidating holdings to improve fishing, hunting and hiking. Nearby counties, currently providing unreimbursed services to federal lands, would also begin to collect tax revenue from new private owners.
The Forest Service approached conservation groups with its proposal to unload remote tracts of Georgia’s lone national forest in 2014. “This is a win at both the state and local levels,” explained Rep. Collins. “It’s an economic win, too, that will create investment and jobs.”
The Outdoor Industry Association has valued consumer spending on outdoor activities in Georgia at $23.3 billion and related wages and salaries at $7 billion. The state’s consumer spending on outdoor activity ranks 5th nationally.
Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14) announced today that he has been selected to serve on both the House Appropriation Committee’s Defense and Financial Services Subcommittees. From a press release issued by Graves’ office:
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) announced today that he was selected to serve on the House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Defense and Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. In addition to these subcommittee assignments, Rep. Graves was selected in November to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch for the 114th Congress.
“These subcommittee assignments will allow me to serve my constituents even more effectively,” said Rep. Graves. “With eight major military installations in Georgia, it’s critical for our state to have representation on the Defense Subcommittee. And with the broad influence of the Financial Services Subcommittee, I’ll have the opportunity to help shape important funding legislation from a conservative viewpoint. Above all, I will work to ensure the Committee continues putting taxpayers first by finding savings and holding government agencies accountable for every dollar that is spent.”
The Defense Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Departments of Army, Navy, Air Force, Office of Secretary of Defense, Defense Agencies, Central Intelligence Agency and the Intelligence Community.
The Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Department of the Treasury, District of Columbia, the Judiciary, the Executive Office of the President and more than 20 Independent Agencies.
The House Appropriations Committee has cut over $165 billion in federal discretionary spending since Rep. Graves joined it in 2011.
Congressman Graves’ clout looks to continue to be growing within the House.
Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14) spoke in favor of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill and amendments that would prohibit funds to be used for the recent executive orders issued by President Barack Obama on immigration. You can watch the remarks that Congressman Graves gave on the House floor:
Or, you can read the full transcript below the fold: Read more
Congressman Tom Graves’ (R-GA-14) office announced a few new staff changes in his congressional office for the beginning of the new congress. Here is his presser below that was sent out last week:
Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) today announced staff changes in his Washington and Dalton offices.
John Donnelly, who previously served as communications director and deputy chief of staff for Rep. Graves, was named chief of staff.
Garrett Hawkins, who most recently worked as deputy communications director on Ed Gillespie’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Virginia, and also served as press secretary for U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, was hired as communications director.
Valerie Jones, who previously served as staff assistant in the Dalton office, now serves as a constituent service representative.
Speaking of the staff changes, Rep. Graves said, “I’m grateful to have experienced staff members who have devoted years to public service. They will be instrumental in helping me take on the challenges we face in the new Congress and work to advance conservative solutions. My team’s commitment to serving the people of Northwest Georgia is unmatched.”
Congress get underway on Tuesday, and the newest members of Georgia’s delegation are already marking the occasion. 11th District Congressman-Elect Barry Loudermilk welcomed local supporters to Washington on Sunday for swearing in ceremonies:
Meanwhile, in Savannah, 1st District Congressman-Elect Buddy Carter held a ceremonial swearing-in on Sunday. According to the Savannah Morning News, Carter, who previously served as a state senator and mayor, talked about what he expected to find once he got to Washington:
Carter said the troubles that the country faces, such as national debt, unemployment and health care crisis, are a mess, but he is confident that America is still a great nation and he will remain true to the citizens he represents.
“A number of people have told me, ‘Now Buddy, when you get up there don’t you drink that water, don’t you get that Potomac fever, don’t you change,’ and let me assure you that will not happen,” he said. “… We’ve got a mess there is no question about it. We’ve got a lot of challenges in this world and a lot of challenges in this county, but America is still great. It’s still great because we still have God and we have God’s blessings and where there is God there is good.”
Carter intends to focus on fiscal responsibility during his first term. The man who preceded him in Congress, Jack Kingston, spoke at the ceremony, urging Carter to listen to his constituents. And, he told those present to let Carter know what was important to them, but that “he can’t vote with you every single time, but you still need to always support him.”
The 114th Congress convenes on Tuesday, meaning Georgia’s newbies will encounter new challenges. The New York Times asked several outgoing members of Congress what wisdom they wish to share with the incoming class. The resounding nugget: Partisanship is easy, governing is hard.
Outgoing U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss recalled an experience from the mid-90s when Republicans took control of the House.
“We were all ultra right-wingers, but we figured out right quick that when you are in the majority, you have to govern,” he said of the 1994 class of House Republicans. “If you are going to govern in this country you are not going to govern on the far right or the far left. You’ve got to figure out a way to somehow get pretty close to the middle, otherwise you are going to do what we did — that is shut the government down. And we paid a heavy price for it. And you saw that again just a year ago.
“We need to find the best solution that is not a political solution and that requires hard and tough votes to be made,” Mr. Chambliss said. “And nobody around here has been willing to make hard and tough votes the last four years.”
Congressman Kingston urged the newcomers to break out of the partisan cycle and focus on doing what is best for America.
If lawmakers are to break out of the partisan cycle, Mr. Kingston said, they need to avoid being inundated by their constituents in an increasingly digital world where members of Congress find themselves under immediate pressure as events unfold.
“If new members allow their base to control their behavior up here they are going to be miserable,” said Mr. Kingston, who has seen the rising influence of Tea Party activists on Republican lawmakers. “While the voters might be yelling and screaming at you to do something, that’s not your job.
“You have to look at all the information and then make the best determination as to what’s going to be best for America,” he said. “Sometimes you have to have disagreements with your own party along the way, and that is O.K.”
Senator-elect Perdue and Congressmen-elect Carter, Loudermilk and Hice have some rather large shoes to fill. It appears Georgia’s outgoing leaders hope this new crop of leaders will avoid partisanship. I guess we’ll see Tuesday.
I’ve seen some strong language from conservative friends on Facebook who are saying that Georgia’s Republican congressmen who voted in favor of the termed “CROmnibus” bill that recently passed Congress have “betrayed” conservative voters. Of course, a lot of liberals are upset over the bill too, so there’s that. You can see the statements from some of the congressmen on their vote here, but Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA-09) has sent out an email newsletter that explains what is in the bill and setting the record straight. You can read it in its entirety after the jump. Read more