Posted by Randy | May 27, 2016
This week, the House Judiciary Committee passed my bill, the Visa Integrity and Security Act of 2016, which provides common sense solutions to help fix vulnerabilities in our visa security screening procedures. Entry into this country is a privilege not a right, and we need to ensure the safety of American citizens remains our nation’s top priority. You can read Breitbart’s coverage of my bill here or below.
GOP Rep: Time For Visa Protocols to Err On The Side Of U.S. Security
“What most Americans don’t realize is that last year alone 10 million visas were issued for people to come into the United States. Any of those individuals could have been here for good reasons or they could have been here to do harm to Americans,” Forbes said in an interview with Breitbart News, shortly after the House Judiciary Committee passed his legislation to tighten up visa security.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved Forbes’ Visa Integrity and Security Act of 2016 — cosponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) — which would mandate more visa security and anti-fraud protocols intended to weed out foreign threats before they even reach U.S. shores.
As Forbes noted to Breitbart, from 9/11 to the San Bernadino massacre, many terrorist attacks and planned terror plots in the U.S. have been perpetrated by terrorists who came to the U.S. legally on visas.
“We also know that we don’t have very good controls once they get into the U.S. as to what they are doing or when they might leave,” he added.
Forbes’ bill does not attempt to solve all the problems with the current legal immigration system, but instead plug some of the more obvious vulnerabilities in the process, including requiring that all visa applications be fully completed prior to the issuance of a visa and more extensive security checks on nationals from countries of concern like Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen.
Additionally the bill requires that all visa applicants receive additional screening including in-person interviews, social media vetting, and DNA proof for family-based claims.
“We view the ability to come to the United States as a privilege. We view the security of the people within the United States as a right. And if those two are in conflict, we want to err on the side of security within the United States,” Forbes said.
“That’s why we increased the burden of proof in here to a clear and convincing level, instead of just the preponderance of the evidence, because we are hearing over and over that these adjudicators are having pressure put on them to just reach a ‘yes’ conclusion and get them in, he added. “That’s just too risky.”
According to Forbes, the reforms in his legislation are simply “common sense.”
“Every employer just about in the country, if they’re going to hire you they’re going to do a social media check on you before they hire you,” he said, referencing one of the provisions in the bill, mandating social media screenings for all visa applicants.
“We know there are people trying to get into this country to do not just bad things, but horribly bad things, to individuals in this country,” he said.
Read the full article here.
Posted by Randy | May 26, 2016
Wanted to share a couple photos with you from Monday, when I led a group of Democrat and Republican lawmakers down to Naval Station Norfolk to hear firsthand from some of our Navy warfighters – the men who command our ships and our aircraft every day -- about the challenges they face equipping, resourcing, and training our fleet. Did you know that:
After 8 years of the Administration dismantling our military, these are just a few of the challenges facing our Navy. Instead of making sure they are the best trained and best equipped so that they never find themselves in a fair fight, we’ve been asking them to do more with less. Bottom line: this Administration wants to manage our Navy’s decline -- we need to be committed to rebuilding it.
This roundtable aboard USS Eisenhower gave Democrat and Republican Members a chance to hear directly from warfighters about the challenges they face in an age of growing threats and shrinking budgets.
Today, due to increased operations and a shortage of funding and parts, only 1 in 4 Navy fighters is ready for combat. One aviator from NAS Oceana described his job as “managing scarcity.”
The Eisenhower is preparing to deploy to the Middle East, where she will relieve the USS Truman, another Norfolk-based carrier whose deployment was just extended to sustain the fight against ISIS. Average deployment time has gone up 32%, according to the Navy.
Longer deployments mean more stress on our ships, our sailors, and their families. The wear and tear on the destroyer USS McFaul was clearly visible after a nearly 8-month deployment.
And it’s not only the ships – our MH-53 helicopters are an average of 24.6 years old. As aircraft get older they grow harder to maintain—this one has been cannibalized to provide spare parts for other aircraft.
Talking to enlisted sailors gave Members a chance to hear directly about the challenges they face on the deck plates. As the Senate and the House prepare to make decisions on the annual defense policy bill, it’s absolutely critical to hear from the men and women whose lives and jobs these decisions impact.
The men and women who wear our nation’s uniform go into harm’s way to defend our freedoms. Our best chance to bring them home safely is to send them off prepared. That is why, as Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, my top priority is to ensure our soldiers, sailors, airman, and marines are the best trained and best equipped in the world. I will never stop fighting to defend our defenders.
Posted by Randy | May 24, 2016
Posted by Randy | May 20, 2016
Passing along my recent Op-Ed in The Virginia Gazette in case you missed it. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields play such an important role in the lives of our students -- both inside and outside of the classroom. We need to be encouraging them to grow, learn, and innovate, so we can equip them with the tools they need to compete in an increasingly global economy. You can read my Op-Ed here or below.
Yours in Service,
Thank you, Mr. Armstrong
Posted by Randy | May 19, 2016
Don’t forget to find an opportunity this week to commemorate the dedication of these special patriots – whether it’s by post on social media or a personal thank you to a local officer. We are grateful.
Yours in Service,
P.S. – I will always stand to support those who serve to protect our communities. Recently, I joined in sending a letter to increase resources for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, which has been a critical asset to state and local law enforcement officers as they combat drug trafficking around Richmond and Hampton Roads.
Posted by Randy | May 19, 2016
A springboard for adventure
As is the case with many people my age, Cape Canaveral has a special place in my heart and my imagination. When I was a child, it was from "The Cape" that the most intrepid pioneers of our age set out on epic missions of discovery. And I will never forget the moment man set foot on the moon. But what I didn't know then, listening in awe to my car radio, was that some of the first and most important steps of mankind's epic journey to the Moon had been taken right here in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore.
Even those of us who have spent our whole lives in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore may not fully appreciate the critically important role that our region has played — and continues to play — in the exploration of our universe. A strong argument can be made, however, that the "giant leap" mankind made in 1969 started at the Langley Research Center on the Peninsula. It was right there in 1917 that the organization that would later become National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), established its first research center.
From the beginning, Langley focused on cutting-edge aeronautics research and the design of ever-better performing aircraft including the legendary P-51 Mustang of World War II fame. But in 1945, Langley Research Center set up an offshoot facility on Wallops Island to experiment with what was then a largely unproven but incredibly promising technology — rocket propulsion.
Wallops' rockets were initially used for propelling model aircraft—some of the first UAVs—but starting in 1958, when NASA was established, Wallops took on a new mission: putting men into space. Unbeknownst to many residents, the capsules that would carry the first Americans into space during Project Mercury were tested at Wallops right here on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Meanwhile, back at Langley, men who would soon have household names underwent training to become America's first astronauts. One of them, known around Virginia Beach for driving a flashy white convertible, was Alan Shepard, who would soon become the first American in space. A few years later, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong would come to Langley to train in its lunar landing simulator for that day that my generation remembers so very well.
There is a tendency among air and space enthusiasts to focus on those glory days in the 1960s, but the decades since have witnessed many more accomplishments by the hardworking men and women of NASA. Langley Research Center has continued to push the frontiers of aerospace research and today, according to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's senior curator, "It's hard to think of an airliner in the air today that doesn't have Langley's signature on it" or "a military airplane flying today that Langley wasn't involved with in one way or another." Wallops Flight Facility, meanwhile, has continued launching rockets, and in September 2013 became the first place outside "the Cape" to send an American mission to the moon.
While Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore's space facilities have an incredible history to be proud of, the future looks equally bright. For both Langley and Wallops, good things appear to be in store. NASA's budget, which was submitted to Congress last month, contained a 10-year plan to reach "New Aviation Horizons" by building and flying a new generation of cutting-edge "X-plane" prototypes. The first of these experimental programs will be managed by the aerospace experts at Langley, with more projects likely to follow. Meanwhile, Wallops Island has developed into a viable commercial spaceport that is currently used by the company Orbital ATK to send resupply missions to the International Space Station. Looking ahead, as the commander of the Air Force's Space Command told me recently, Wallops could have growing utility as a site for launching a new generation of smaller military satellites with important national security missions. As one of only a handful of sites authorized by the FAA for the testing of unmanned aerial vehicles, Wallops could also play a major role in that dynamic market.
All these local contributions to air and space exploration should inspire in Virginians the same pride, optimism and excitement about future opportunities that I felt on that roadside in 1969. In many ways, Virginia represents a model for the future with its innovative partnerships between the commonwealth, the federal government, and the private sector. With its NASA facilities, military presence, universities, high-tech industry and supportive communities, Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore have all "the right stuff" to support future breakthroughs. As with any federal program, however, NASA's ambitious plans will need strong support in Washington to succeed. That is why I am establishing a congressional NASA caucus, to ensure that members of Congress are well-informed about the inspiring work NASA is doing and why it is so important.
With the 100th anniversary of NASA Langley's creation approaching, we should all be excited to see what new milestones in aeronautics, spaceflight and our understanding of the universe we can reach in the century ahead.
Read the full Op-Ed here.
Posted by Randy | May 18, 2016
The Seapower legislation I recently authored begins the process of rebuilding the U.S. Navy, authorizing three more ships than the President funded, and providing the most money for shipbuilding since President Reagan was in office. From aircraft carriers to submarines and much more, my legislation not only provides our sailors with the resources they need to be successful--it also supports the national strategic asset that is the Hampton Roads industrial base. As the full House of Representatives prepares to vote on the annual defense policy bill that includes my Seapower legislation, you can read coverage of the work I've been doing to support our warfighters in The Virginian-Pilot here or below.
Defense spending plan moving through Congress is good news for Hampton Roads
For Hampton Roads, where Pentagon dollars are a lifeblood of the economy, the 2017 spending proposals making their way through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are mostly good news.
Sailors should get a pay raise. The region’s shipbuilding and repair industries are in line to be fully funded. The legislative plans would block President Barack Obama’s desire to start a new round of military base closings and stifle the Navy’s desire to mothball 11 cruisers, including two based in Norfolk.
There’s one noticeable downside that could affect the region’s construction contractors: Spending for onshore construction projects is markedly smaller than previous years.
The new year may not be one for major new initiatives, but the proposals – if they become law – will give the region a stable source of funding and defense work, said Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance.
“I’d say stability is desirable. This is pretty stable,” Quigley said Tuesday.
The annual spending plan, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, is one of two major bills that decide how lawmakers allocate defense money. The NDAA sets policy rules and directs spending, while the appropriations bill writes the checks.
The House and Senate armed services committees have each drafted their versions of the authorization act in recent weeks. The full House is expected to take up its bill later this week. After the Senate considers its own version, negotiators for the two chambers will work out a compromise.
Quigley predicted a final agreement won’t be reached until late this year. National and congressional elections will bring negotiations to a standstill until Congress returns after the Nov. 8 voting, he said.
In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of some key elements that resonate in Hampton Roads:
Aircraft carriers and submarine construction: Both the House and Senate legislation would continue funding construction at Newport News Shipbuilding of the two Ford-class carriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS John F. Kennedy, as well as preparations for construction of a new USS Enterprise. They also include money for midlife overhauls of the USS George Washington and the USS John Stennis.
At the urging of Rep. Randy Forbes, a Chesapeake Republican, the House bill proposes speeding up the pace of carrier construction to begin building a new flattop every four years instead of every five. The change, beginning in 2022, would add more jobs and ensure an 11-carrier fleet, said Forbes, a senior member of the House committee. The Senate version does not include that provision.
The Navy would buy two more Virginia-class submarines as part of a multiyear procurement. The attack subs are a joint project with Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a member of the Senate committee, said he expects Newport News would be “deeply involved” in future years in building replacements for the Navy’s Ohio-class submarines.
Ship construction and overhauls: Both chambers’ authorization act proposals provide enough money for ship repairs or overhauls to reverse the recent trends of layoffs in local shipyards, said Bill Crow, president of the Virginia Ship Repair Association. Recently approved contracts mean the private yards are expected to see a boost in work this summer that will stretch into 2017, Crow said.
“We’re definitely seeing an upturn,” Crow said. “There’s work on the horizon for the next year or so.”
Quigley said, if adopted, the spending will help the Navy catch up on a backlog of ship maintenance.
”This is something we really need,” he said.
Pay and benefits: A pay raise is coming for sailors and other service members, but the amount is up for debate. The House bill proposes a 2.1 percent increase while the Senate bill favors the 1.6 percent raise requested by the Pentagon.
Military construction: Hampton Roads would be getting its smallest allocation of brick-and-mortar construction money in several years, Quigley said.
A total of $86.2 million was proposed by the House committee for a project at Norfolk Naval Station and two projects at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. By comparison, last year Congress approved more than $240 million for eight projects on bases or facilities in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton and Newport News.
Quigley said the view of many in Washington is that buying equipment, training, overhauling ships and aircraft, and fighting wars have a higher priority than building projects. He noted that Obama’s original proposal didn’t include any money for military construction in the region.
No base closings and the cruisers stay put: Both the House and Senate rejected the Pentagon’s request for a new round of base closings.The legislators’ proposal also blocks the administration’s plan to mothball 11 guided missile cruisers, including the Norfolk-based USS Anzio and USS Vella Gulf. Defense officials have tried for years to get congressional approval to remove the ships from service to save money and slowly bring them back online after overhauls.
Read the full article here.
Posted by Randy | May 17, 2016
Earlier this morning, I joined America’s Newsroom to talk about Iran’s treatment of our sailors and why – in the absence of leadership from the Administration – it is critical that Congress acts now to hold Iran accountable. That’s why I introduced a bill to do just that. Watch here or below to learn more >>
P.S. You can read more coverage of my bill this week in the Washington Times, The Hill, the New York Post, or the Washington Free Beacon. Equipping and defending our defenders – so they can successfully accomplish their missions and return safely home – will always be my top priority in Congress.
Posted by Randy | May 12, 2016
Power List 2-16: No. 12 Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell and Bobby Scott
Posted by Randy | May 11, 2016
Forbes at NASA Langley to push hypersonics research
Nearly 60 years ago, America and the world watched as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into orbit, besting everyone else in artificial satellite technology and ushering in the space age.
Regardless of the cause of this crash-- we need to be better equipping our men & women in uniform so they can keep us safe & come home safe.
Our pilots aren't getting the flying time they need to build their skills.
Only 1 in 4 Navy fighters is ready for combat. Of our older strike fighters, 1 in 2 is grounded due to a shortage of parts and maintenance.