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Town hall meeting covers finances
First of several for congressman


District 7 U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall addressed the nation’s finances and fielded questions during a town hall meeting Saturday in south Forsyth.

It was the first local visit of several for Woodall, a Republican from Gwinnett County whose district includes some of south Forsyth.

The congressman was set to attend a Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce-organized “meet and greet” this morning with business and community leaders at DeKalb Office.

Afterward, he was scheduled to visit with students and staff at Brookwood Elementary School.

During Saturday’s talk at Johns Creek Elementary, Woodall said a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution likely will come up for a House vote in a couple of weeks. It follows an August decision to raise the debt ceiling.

“I think that’s the absolute biggest vote we’re going to take in these two years in Congress,” he said.

Woodall said he had hoped the months between the first vote and the next would launch a movement.

However, the issue hasn’t gained much attention, which he said could be due to the American people believing the Democrat-controlled Senate will vote down whatever the House approves.

“It’s a real frustration what’s going on … the Senate side,” Woodall said. “Not agreeing is OK, but not showing up at the table is not OK.”

No common ground can be found if the Senate doesn’t propose alternative views, he said.

The balanced budget amendment, Woodall said, would “force” the needed conversation about the nation’s exponentially growing debt.

In what Woodall called the “most conservative House in [his] lifetime,” budget-minded freshmen representatives like himself have not mustered the votes to curb the nation’s spending.

“We have got to become as good as they are at reclaiming our freedom one fiber at a time, as they have been good at stealing our freedom one fiber at a time,” Woodall said. “That’s our challenge.”

Questions from the crowd of about 40 at Johns Creek touched on issues ranging from Social Security and government financial regulations to possible sanctions against Iran.

Hitting closer to home, Woodall answered a Forsyth County resident’s query about Congress’ involvement in resolving the tri-state water war surrounding Lake Lanier.

Litigation between Alabama, Florida and Georgia hit a major milestone in June, when a circuit court reversed a July 2009 decision that would have severely limited much of metro Atlanta from withdrawing water from Lake Lanier.

Judge Paul Magnuson’s 2009 decision, affecting some 3 million people, had imposed a three-year deadline for Georgia to find another source of water, have Congress reauthorize Lanier as a specially designated source of drinking water or negotiate a water sharing agreement with Florida and Alabama.

“Congress could take it back over,” Woodall said. “Congress might have had the Magnuson decision not been overturned, but I believe that has given the impetus to Florida and Alabama to come to the table.”

What has happened in Congress, Woodall said, is the introduction of three related amendments.

One would raise the lake level from 1,071 to 1,073 feet above sea level, while another would allow a credit for returning treated water to the source. There’s also a proposal to define drinking water.