Monday, November 16, 2015: I’m in Washington today and, as can be expected, the Capitol is abuzz about the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. There is a mixture of emotions being expressed by people here- condolence to the French people, anger to the terrorist, concern for the safety of people at home and around the world – but mostly what I see is a feeling of responsibility. A responsibility to respond, someway to let the people of America know that we are going to do everything we can to protect them. My first meeting of the day is with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is running for President and is meeting with a group of interested House members to give an update of his campaign and to answer questions we may have. Senator Rubio is a gifted speaker and communicator and does an excellent job of articulating his vision of our country’s future and what he plans to do if he is successful in his Presidential bid. Next, I head to the House Chamber where I am “managing the floor,” a phrase we use to describe the process of presenting a bill. In this instance, I am presenting two bills for the Committee on Homeland Security. Afterwards, I head to our weekly Whip Team meeting where we review the legislation we will be voting on this week before I head back to the House Chamber where I am presiding as Speaker Pro tem tonight during votes. After our first vote, I step down from the Chair to allow Speaker Paul D. Ryan to preside and lead the House in a moment of silence in honor of the families and victims of the Paris terrorist attacks before going back up to preside over the final two votes.
Afterwards, I head to our weekly Republican Conference meeting where we discuss conference policy changes as well as legislation that will be considered this week, particularly legislation related to changes in our refugee entry laws. Next, I have a hearing in the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where we hear from officials in the Department of Education regarding student information security. Following a phone interview with a Savannah area television station to discuss the Paris attacks and Syrian refugees, I head to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Committees on Homeland Security where we have a hearing on the Secret Service and their ongoing challenges. A link to my questions can be found here. Afterwards, I head to the White House where Andre Massey, Jr., a student at Woodville Tompkins High School in Savannah, is representing the Deep Center as they are receiving a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award presented by First Lady Michelle Obama.
After rushing back to the Capitol for votes in the House Chamber, I attend a House Energy Action Team (HEAT) meeting where we discuss movement on various energy issues coming up before the end of the year. Once I am back in the office, we have our weekly staff meeting before we have a Telephone Town Hall. These calls reach over 11,000 people and give us the opportunity to update constituents in the First District on affairs in Washington and, more importantly, give us an opportunity to hear your questions and concerns.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015: Today begins with a phone conference between Georgia House and Senate members and Governor Nathan Deal to discuss federal issues impacting our state as well as Governor Deal’s decision to not accept Syrian refugees into our state.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015: After attending a Southern Coalition meeting at the Capitol, I head across the street for a meeting with Senator Ted Cruz to get an update on his Presidential campaign. Afterwards, I head to a meeting with representatives with the Auto and Truck industry as we discuss issues and concerns of importance to their business. Next, I attend a joint meeting of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Education and the Workforce Committee where we hear from education officials on the subject of federal student aid. A link to my questions can be found here. After a trip to the House Chamber to deliver a one minute speech congratulating the Living Vine Christian Maternity Home in Savannah on their 20th anniversary, I attend a meeting of the Republican Study Committee where we discuss the refugee bill that will be voted on tomorrow. A link to my one minute speech can be found here. Following our first vote series of the day, I head to a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees for a hearing on the rise of radicalism. After a series of meetings with fellow Representatives, including one with Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) to discuss proposed language in the upcoming Omnibus bill, I head back to the House Chamber for our second and final vote series of the day.
Thursday, November 19, 2015: Following our second Republican Conference Committee meeting of the week, I head back to my office for a meeting with National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) representatives to discuss issues affecting their industry. Next, I head to the House Chamber for our first vote series of the day and then back to my office for a meeting with representatives from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to discuss the impact of the overtime rule being proposed by the Department of Labor as well as the upcoming "Cadillac tax" on higher-end health insurance plans offered by employers that is part of Obamacare.
Our second and final vote series of the day is next as we pass the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act (SAFE Act) of 2015 with a veto proof vote of 289 yes votes. With this many yes votes, even if President Obama goes through with his threatened veto, the House would have the 2/3 majority to override it if the 289 members who voted for it today continue to support the bill. As I leave Washington for the week, I leave feeling that we have had a productive week and are committed to achieving our most important responsibility- protecting our homeland.
Friday, November 20, 2015: After my weekly bible study with the Band of Brothers in Garden City, I head down to Brunswick where I meet with Glynn County Sherriff Neal Jump and other community leaders.
Next, I head to McIntosh County for a visit with U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials to learn more about the seven wildlife refuges we have in the First District. While these natural treasures are somewhat hidden in our area, they provide a much needed sanctuary for many forms of wildlife, especially migratory birds. Afterwards, I head to Darien with McIntosh County Deputy George Trexler as we discuss security issues in the area. Once in Darien, I have an interview with Kathleen Russell of the Darien News before heading back to Savannah for the Benedictine-Lovett state playoff game where I am performing the coin toss. Thankfully, I was not a bad luck charm for the undefeated Cadets of Benedictine as they won a squeaker, 41-40. (And, yes, they also won the coin toss!)