Gwinnett Daily Post- For months, I have been traveling the region to talk with Georgians about what they could expect from a new American Congress. As you can imagine, they were skeptical. For the past few years in a divided Congress, the House has been producing literally hundreds of bipartisan bills, but the Senate has been too dysfunctional to move those bills to the president’s desk.
As I talked with folks across the state, I expressed my confidence that if a new Congress was elected, America could expect different results. I shared my hope to begin this new Congress by passing commonsense, solution-oriented bills like the Hire More Heroes Act, a bill passed overwhelmingly in the last Congress by the House and ignored by the Senate.
The Hire More Heroes Act recognizes that some businesses across America are not hiring new employees in order to avoid cresting a 50-employee threshold that would catapult them into a complex and expensive regulatory regime under the Affordable Care Act. Based on this bad government policy, these businesses stop hiring in order to avoid costly regulation and that is hindering American job growth. All the while, our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in record numbers are still struggling to find employment. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the unemployment rate among veterans out-paces the non-veteran population by 2 percent.
So, to spur job growth and help return our veterans to work, the Hire More Heroes Act allows employers to exempt new veterans that they hire from the 50-employee Obamacare regulatory threshold.
The Hire More Heroes Act won’t solve all of America’s problems or save everyone from the burdens of excessive regulation resulting from the Affordable Care Act, but it will help small businesses to grow, and it will help our veterans get back to work. This is a step in the right direction for America. Rather than begin the new Congress with partisan gridlock, I have been working to promote these commonsense solutions that will begin making a difference immediately.
The new Congress began on a snowy Washington Tuesday this past week. Legislation began to be filed. Committees began to hold meetings, and through my efforts and the work of many others, on that very first day the House again passed the Hire More Heroes Act — this time unanimously. As the week went on, more commonsense, bipartisan solutions came to the House floor and passed in dramatic bipartisan fashion. A bill to build the Keystone Pipeline, a bill to restore the 40-hour work week that the Affordable Care Act is eroding, and a bill to reform and reauthorize terrorism risk insurance followed—all commonsense, all bipartisan, and all headed to the Senate.
Unlike recent years, the new Senate is joining the House in looking for solutions. It is already scheduling the consideration of these bills. Solution-oriented bills that languished for months or years with no action in the previous Senate are now moving towards a final vote on the Senate floor before January is even complete.
I can’t tell you with certainty how much this new Congress will accomplish or if President Obama will agree to work with a bipartisan majority, but I can promise you that this new Congress is committed to problem solving. Beginning with that snowy Washington Tuesday this past week, a new day is dawning in Washington, and solutions — not gridlock — will be the new normal on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, serves on the House Budget Committee and the House Rules Committee.