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Posted by Randy | March 31, 2015
Wanted to highlight an important bill for you: The Firearm Manufacturers and Dealers Protection Act (H.R. 1413), which was recently introduced, stops the Administration from using Operation Choke Point (or any similar programs) to target the firearm industry.

Under Operation Choke Point, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Department of Justice were permitted to place immense regulatory pressure on financial institutions doing business with firearms and ammunition manufacturers – thus essentially working to cripple the industry. While the FDIC is now claiming that it has stopped targeting firearms manufacturers under Operation Choke Point, I believe more must be done to ensure the Second Amendment is not infringed upon. That’s why I’m cosponsoring this bill to entirely defund any activities associated with Operation Choke Point, and forbid the U.S. Attorney General from restarting a similar program.

I will keep you posted on its progress.
Posted by Randy | March 31, 2015
13 hours. That is the approximate time it takes the average American taxpayer to comply with the tax code, including record-keeping, reading the rules, gathering receipts, and filling out the forms required by the Internal Revenue Service, according to the IRS.

According to a National Small Business Association 2014 Taxation Survey, nearly 50% of small businesses reported they spend more than 80 hours – the equivalent of two full work weeks – per year dealing with federal taxes. One in three businesses surveyed also said they spend more than $10,000 annually on just the administration alone of federal taxes.

The level of complexity in the tax code, and resulting time and cost burdens, have produced numerous calls for reform, including proposals to abolish the Internal Revenue Code and create a new federal tax system that is simpler, fairer, and less burdensome on American small businesses and families. Supporters argue that legislation terminating our current tax code is essential to force Congress to fully debate and address fundamental tax reform. They contend that the current code is unfair, discourages savings and investment, and is impossibly complex. Opponents to terminating the current tax code argue that the current code either is adequate or can be fixed, rendering a complete overhaul unnecessary.

Question of the Week: Do you support abolishing the current tax code and creating a new system?

(  ) Yes.
(  ) No.
(  ) I am unsure.
(  ) Other.

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by | March 31, 2015

The Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard recently released a new Maritime Strategy. I’ve shared my thoughts on what any successful Maritime Strategy should contain here and recently discussed the subject with USNI News, noting the significant progress made since the last Strategy was released in 2007.


Rep. Forbes: New U.S. Maritime Strategy Revision 'Light Years Ahead' of 2007 Original
By Sam LaGrone
March 30, 2015

The recent revision to the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard’s maritime strategy is ‘light years ahead’ of the 2007 original draft, the chairman of the House Armed Service Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces told USNI News last week.

Two weeks after the rollout of the tri-service plan. Rep Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said he mostly pleased with the content of A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (CS21).

“I thought the last one wasn’t very strong at all it didn’t have much meat to it. This one is light years ahead of where that strategy was and because of that I think this could be something that could have a lot more shelf life to it,” Forbes said.

“It is certainly something we are looking at and paying attention to with our subcommittee."

In particular, Forbes was pleased the Navy included a component about China.

“They were pretty straightforward talking about the challenge China would pose,” he said.

“That’s something if you leave out of our maritime strategy, it almost becomes worthless.”

However, Forbes would have liked to see more attention on the industrial base and a force structure assessment specifically for the Navy.

“I think one of the things that more and more people are becoming a little bit concerned about is our over all industrial base — what it’s going to look like five years down the road and ten years down the road?” he said.
“I would have liked to have seen them do a laydown about that industrial base is and then some planning on how the maritime strategy will help support that industrial base so we will have it there to provide the ships and repairs we’ll need down the road.”

Forbes has been vocal about a perceived lack of overall U.S. military strategic direction.

“I find the degree to which we as a nation are devoting any real intellectual energy to the subject [of strategy] to be minimal, just as I find that our capacity to devote such energy to be waning,” read a July 28 from Forbes to Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert.

“I write to you because of my sense that an effort to restore strategic thinking in the U.S. government must be started and championed by a strong advocate. I believe the Navy can be that champion and the Chief of Naval Operations can be its chief advocate."

Over the 18-months CS-21 revision process, the Navy shared drafts and asked legislators for their input into the final revision, including Forbes.

“The Navy actually met with us early on in this process, talked to us and said ‘we included some of your suggestions in this maritime strategy’ and in face they have — throughout,” he said.

“Overall they did a very good job with this maritime strategy and it should guide us in many of the decisions we should make over the upcoming months.”

Read the article here.
Posted by Randy | March 30, 2015
In case you haven’t heard the news yet, the Veterans Administration (VA) recently announced that in order to expand the number of veterans eligible under the Veterans Choice Program, they are changing the way the distance between a veteran’s residence and the nearest VA medical facility is calculated. (This is the program that allows eligible veterans to receive access to non-VA providers, to ensure they get the care they need and deserve). The VA will now be calculating the 40-mile rule by driving miles instead of “as the crow flies” miles – thanks to feedback from veterans, their families, and others.

This policy change will occur through a regulatory action that may take a number of weeks, but the good news is that the VA estimates this change will roughly double the number of veterans who will be eligible to participate in the Choice program. The VA published a FAQ sheet on the change here, and has said they will notify newly eligible veterans by mail.

Our servicemembers didn’t wait to answer the call of duty, and they should not have to wait to receive timely, quality medical care. I will continue working to ensure that is the case.
Posted by Randy | March 27, 2015
Just a quick note – wanted to let you know I recently sent a letter calling to end the use of federal dollars to push states to adopt or keep Common Core. You can read the letter, here.

I strongly believe our education system is the most effective, and serves our children best, when the federal footprint in education is reduced, local control is restored, and parents and local education leaders are empowered to hold schools accountable for effectively teaching students.

If you’d like to hear some of my more in depth thoughts on the issue, read the recent column I wrote on why we need common sense education, not Common Core. 
Posted by Randy | March 27, 2015
Wanted to highlight a bill for you that I recently cosponsored – The Detaining Terrorists to Protect America Act (H.R. 401) – to push back on what I strongly believe is the Administration’s ill-advised approach towards the remaining detainees at  GITMO.

What this bill does:
  This legislation accomplishes several important priorities: 1) suspends international transfers of high and medium risk detainees; 2) prohibits transfers of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen; 3) extends the current prohibition on transfers to the U.S.; and 4) increases transparency regarding risk assessments of the remaining GITMO detainees.

Bottom line: I believe for the Administration to put politics above national security, and personal priorities above the interests of the American people is beyond shortsighted – it is dangerous.

Recently, I joined Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel to discuss the President’s recent comment that he should have closed GITMO on his first day in office. Click here to watch if you missed it.
Posted by Randy | March 26, 2015
On October 1, 2015, the Internet Tax Freedom Act’s temporary ban on taxation of Internet access is set to expire.

Enacted in 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act implemented a temporary ban preventing state and local governments from taxing Internet access. The ban specifically prohibits state and local governments from imposing sales taxes on monthly payments for internet service. Since the time it was enacted, Congress has voted four times to temporarily extend the ban. Now, in less than seven months, the ban is set to expire once again unless there is a renewal or permanent change to the law.

To address this, the bipartisan Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA) was recently introduced in the House of Representatives to permanently ensure citizens cannot be taxed for Internet access at the local and state level.

Opponents of the measure argue that it harms states by costing them billions in potential revenue, while others contend that the issue should be left to the discretion of state and local governments. Supporters of the bill believe that access to the Internet should never be taxed, since all Americans – students, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals – benefit from tax-free Internet access.

Congressman Forbes is a supporter of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act.

Question of the Week
: Do you support the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act to keep the Internet tax-free?

(  ) Yes.
(  ) No.
(  ) I am unsure.
(  ) Other.

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | March 25, 2015
In case you missed it, I’m proud to be supporting the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1299) as an original cosponsor. This bill prohibits the federal government (or any state receiving certain federal funding) from discriminating against child welfare service providers who adhere to sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.

It’s an important bill because faith-based providers, charities, and organizations play a vital role in administering adoption, foster care, and other services assisting our communities’ most vulnerable children. These organizations' valuable contributions, and the families and children who benefit from them, should not be limited because of their religious faith. Additionally, all participants in both the foster care and adoption systems gain from having variety of service options to choose from to best accommodate their financial, spiritual, and emotional needs.

That's why I am working to ensure faith-based providers and individuals are able to continue to serve along with other agencies and organizations, to care for children and provide adoptive and foster parents with access to a diversity of providers.
Posted by Randy | March 25, 2015

Defense isn’t just another line in the budget – it is a constitutional duty. The consequences of getting our national defense wrong are far-reaching and, despite what the Administration will say, far more devastating than getting funding for the EPA wrong, or the IRS. The bottom line is if we get national defense wrong, nothing else matters.

Below is the speech I delivered on the House floor yesterday during the budget debates. Click here, or the image below to watch, if you missed it.

Posted by Randy | March 24, 2015
Real quick note – just wanted to be sure you saw that H.Res.11 was recently introduced to provide the House of Representatives with the authority to initiate litigation regarding the failure of the President, the head of any department or agency, or any other officer of the executive branch, to act in accordance with their constitutional and legal duties regarding immigration laws.

This will authorize the House of Representatives to legally determine in federal court whether President Obama’s unilateral immigration actions violate the Constitution and federal immigration law duties. Specifically, this bill allows the Speaker to seek declaratory judgment to compel the President to obey immigration laws as passed by Congress, signed into law by previous presidents, and interpreted by federal judges.

I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I am working with the Judiciary Committee on legislation to secure the border, remove the President's ability to unilaterally shut down immigration enforcement, and strengthen the E-verify system. Learn more, here.