7th District Representative Rob Woodall talked about the resignation of Speaker John Boehner, the passage of the Continuing Resolution that funds the government through mid-December, and the atmosphere in Washington, DC when he spoke to members and guests of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Friday morning.
Because the House and Senate failed to pass this year’s appropriation bills, Congress was forced to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded past September 30th. Leading up to Wednesday’s vote, much of the debate on the bill concerned the possible defunding of Planned Parenthood. The organization has come under fire in recent weeks following a series of videos showing the organization allegedly selling fetal tissue.
Woodall pointed out that Planned Parenthood receives funding from the government two ways. A portion is received from state Medicaid programs that pay the organization for providing healthcare services. These reimbursements are not subject to the appropriations process. The remainder comes from annual grants that were previously approved in March, none of which are paid out during the ten week period covered by the continuing resolution.
The congressman pointed out that even though there was no Planned Parenthood funding in the bill, those who opposed the organization felt it was more important to make a statement than it was to keep the government running past September 30th. Those supporting Planned Parenthood refused to allow the symbolic vote on funding, even though it would not have made any difference to the organization’s revenues.
Congressman Woodall summarized the situation this way: “If we can’t keep the doors open because we can’t get together on something that’s not going to happen anyway, 13 months away from an election, that’s not a Republican problem or a Democratic problem, it’s self governance problem.”
Addressing the announcement of Speaker John Boehner’s resignation, Woodall stated his respect for a man who cared more about the institution of the House and the 435 people who work there than he did about himself. Because Boehner was successful in empowering congress members to represent the interests of their constituents, the result was that Boehner is out, keeping both those on the far left and those on the far right happy. And with no replacement Speaker candidate offered by those who opposed Boehner the most, Woodall is concerned that the same thing will happen to Boehner’s replacement, and the person who becomes Speaker after him.
Predicting that current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy would win the speakership when the vote is taken next week, Woodall pointed out that of all the candidates running for lesser posts in leadership that might become open, only one has completed a full term as a committee chairman. Woodall compared the fact that Boehner was leaving his post as Speaker because he lost the confidence of the other 434 representatives with the departure of Newt Gingrich from the speakership after two terms for much the same reason.
And Woodall lamented that Washington doesn’t have a leadership problem, but it does have a followership problem. Comparing the House of Representatives to a football team, he said that while it was possible to differ over which play to call in order to move the ball, once that decision was made, continuing to do one’s own thing doesn’t serve the team’s interest, or in the case of Congress, America’s interest.
“It’s not a surprise that we disgree about things,” the congressman noted. “It is a surprise to me how disagreeable we are.” Woodall pointed out that the popularity of both Bernie Sanders from the socialist left and Donald Trump from the far right resonates off the charts with both Democrats and Republicans. Saying that both candidates capture the frustration and anger of America right now, he said the question was whether either man would be able to put forth a solution. “Identifying the problem is easy. Finding folks to work on the solution is not hard,” Congressman Woodall said. “What ought to be unacceptable is not agreeing to get 50% of what you want. What ought to be unacceptable is turning down 50% of what we all need for this country.”