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Posted by Randy | July 28, 2015
Not all education can be effectively accomplished in a classroom.  On-site technical training is invaluable in many industries, especially in the maritime and energy sectors. That’s why I am cosponsoring the Maritime and Energy Workforce Technical Training Enhancement Act, H.R. 2923, to establish maritime workforce training Centers of Excellence and support colleges’ efforts to expand maritime and energy workforce training programs, so our students are best equipped to succeed.

This bill is especially relevant to the 4th District because it prioritizes Centers of Excellence for colleges with existing partnerships with federal agencies or businesses in the public and private sector.  One example of this is Tidewater Community College in Hampton Roads, which has one of the most robust Maritime Workforce and Training Simulation Programs on the East Coast, making it an ideal candidate for a Center of Excellence.  I’m excited about the potential this provides for our students and our employers, and will continue to support initiatives that support our community colleges in the 4th District as they strive to provide critical educational and workforce training.
Posted by Randy | July 28, 2015
Pointing out everything that is wrong in Washington would be a full time job.  But one of the greatest flaws I see in the policy debates in Washington today – which I believe impacts every decision made and every solution put forth – is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of government in our lives. So here are three key truths that I believe Washington desperately needs to wrap its head around, if we want to get our country back on track:

1)  Government was created to protect people’s rights, not protect people from themselves.  When you have a government that believes its role in your life is to protect you from yourself, that is when we have -- not just a problem -- but a complete erosion of our founding principles. Our Founding Fathers could not have been more clear when they wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

2)  There’s no such thing as a “free” government program. Any program provided by the government is paid for out of the American people’s pocket. I believe government should be the last resort we turn to – not the first one – while we instead focus on empowering citizens with options and opportunities.

3)  Government doesn’t fix the problem. Usually, government is the problem. The American people are the ones who are best at coming up with creative solutions, building things, creating jobs, and prosperity, and pushing our country forward. Instead, government should serve as a launching pad, catalyst, and facilitator of success, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Why does this matter? Because I believe understanding the proper role of government is crucial to charting our country’s course to a future that is brighter, freer, and more prosperous than ever before. Bringing that understanding to Congress is one of the biggest reasons that I serve and that I’m committed to pushing for solutions that limit government, cut back on bulky bureaucracy, and get to the heart of government overspending.

What do you think – do you agree limited government is effective government? Join the conversation on my Facebook page, here, and weigh in with your thoughts.
Posted by Randy | July 27, 2015
Many of you have heard the story of a Marine who was court-martialed, in part because of a dispute with her commanding officer over the posting of a Bible verse quotation at her work station. Former Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling used the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as her defense to this charge, saying that under the law, she has a legal and constitutional right to exercise her personal beliefs.

However, the Navy-Marine Court of Appeals refused to accept this defense, stating that the posting of Bible verses is not part of a recognized system of religious belief and thus could not be considered a religious exercise.

In response, I, along with my colleagues in Congress, filed an amicus brief on RFRA’s application in the military. We argue that RFRA is a balancing test that was intended for courts to apply to protect religious freedom in cases just such as this.  The brief addresses the flawed analysis by which the judge improperly limited the definition of free exercise, arguing that the definition of religious exercise—both under the statute and under the First Amendment—must encompass all religiously motivated content.

Protections for religious expression have never been limited solely to a formal framework of belief. Expression can take many forms, and religious freedom must be applied equally – because religious freedom is exactly that: freedom.  I will keep fighting to ensure every American’s constitutional rights are protected.
Posted by Randy | July 25, 2015

In case you haven’t been following along on my Facebook page, below is a quick highlight reel of what’s been happening this week.

In honor of the fallen servicemembers killed in the ‪Chattanooga shooting, many Members of Congress from across the country began displaying the Marine Corps and now the Navy flags outside of their offices since the day after the shooting. Both are outside my office as, for me, it serves as a small, personal gesture of respect for the five heroes who lost their lives. Major John Bacon, who is an active duty Marine serving in my office on a one year fellowship, helped to put them up.

The Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act passed the House this week, with my support. This bipartisan bill cuts off certain federal grant funding for “sanctuary cities” that do not comply with current federal immigration laws. This bill is just the first step in ensuring local law enforcement is enforcing immigration law -- it is critical that Congress continues to act aggressively to hold the Administration’s feet to the fire, and to be unrelenting in our demand that they enforce the laws of this nation, as the Constitution requires them to do.  Take a look at the bill text, here

It’s always a pleasure when constituents stop by, and I enjoyed talking to some of our 4th District nurses who were representing the American Nurses Association, this week. Nurses are some of the unsung heroes of our communities, working long hours to serve our friends, neighbors, and loved ones, to help keep the 4th District healthy.

At the Fifth Annual Center for Strategic and International Studies’ South China Sea Conference, I shared my thoughts on recent developments in the South China Sea and what it means for United States’ national security. The fact that this Administration has no clearly defined strategy towards China isn’t just short-sighted – it’s dangerous. Read more of my thoughts, here.

I had a chance to spend some time with my interns from our Chesapeake, Chesterfield, and DC offices.  Encouraging to see such bright young people eager to get our country back on track, and I’m grateful for all of the work they do to serve the 4th District.

To learn more about what I’ve been working on recently, and to stay up to date with everything happening in DC and in the 4th District, click “like” on my Facebook page. For more personal photos and behind-the-scenes shots, follow me on Instagram (@randy_forbes).
Posted by Randy | July 24, 2015

Transparency is the foundation of every efficient system – especially in government.  That’s why I’m championing the ALERT Act (H.R. 1759), to require all federal agencies to provide detailed information about how much proposed regulations will cost and what impact they will have on American businesses – before the new regulation goes into effect.  This does two things: it increases the accountability of these agencies and it minimizes the risk of new regulations harming our entrepreneurs and small business’ ability to create, compete, and succeed. The ALERT Act accomplishes these goals by:  

            1.  Forcing federal agencies to give more detailed annual disclosures about planned regulations and their expected costs, final rules, and cumulative regulatory costs;

            2.  Requiring monthly, online updates on planned regulations and their expected costs, so that those who will be affected know in real-time how they can better plan for the impacts on their budgets, operations, and hiring; and

            3.  Preventing new regulations from taking effect unless the required disclosures are made during the 6 months preceding the regulations’ issuance.

I will keep you posted on this bill’s progress.

Not too long ago, I visited Rep. Bill Posey’s office where he created a physical representation of the burden of these regulations, by stacking up all the new and proposed federal regulations from April 2011-present in a big pile. Our small businesses already contribute so much to our economy -- just imagine what they would be able to accomplish if they were freed from all this bulky bureaucracy.  Check out a picture and more of my thoughts, here.

Posted by Randy | July 24, 2015
Good news on the passage of The Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act (H.R. 3009)  – a bipartisan bill, which cuts off certain federal grant funding for sanctuary cities that do not comply with current federal immigration laws.

The bill passed the House last night, with my support, and is now headed over to the Senate for consideration, but the fight is far from over. This bill is just the first step in ensuring local law enforcement is enforcing immigration law.  It is crucial that Congress continues to act aggressively to hold the Administration’s feet to the fire, and to be unrelenting in our demand that they enforce the laws of this nation, as the Constitution requires them to do.  I will keep you updated on my continued action.

When I questioned Secretary Johnson, head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at a recent Judiciary Hearing, he was unable to confirm the number of criminal illegal immigrants with gang affiliations that have been deported, the number of criminal illegal immigrants with gang affiliations that DHS has released, or even explain the process for determining if any of these illegal immigrants are members of criminal gangs, before they are released. This is unconscionable.  We shouldn’t have to wait for a gang member to commit a crime, or worse, commit a violent crime, and simply be released. That’s why I wrote legislative language to immediately deport any illegal alien in our nation who is a member of a violent criminal gang, which is included in this year’s border security and interior enforcement bill, (H.R. 1148). The bill has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee and now awaits consideration before the full House of Representatives -- I’ll keep you posted.
Posted by Randy | July 24, 2015

Five years after the Administration announced a greater focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the United States still lacks a strategy for confronting China's continuing military and diplomatic  expansion. This week I gave a talk at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on how to respond to China's construction of nearly 2,000 acres of artificial "islands" in the South China Sea, where I discussed the importance of formulating, articulating and implementing a clear strategy for the United States in Asia. You might be interested in this article in Breaking Defense summarizing my speech.

Forbes: White House Has No China Strategy; Here’s Mine
Breaking Defense
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
July 24, 2015 at 1:41 PM

What’s the strategy for coping with what everyone on Capitol Hill and inside the Obama administration agrees is an increasingly assertive China? The White House can’t answer, Rep. Randy Forbes says, “because they don’t have it.” So, it’s fair to ask: what is Forbes’s strategy, then?

The House seapower chairman’s outline for a “winning strategy” boils down to five principles, he told me in an interview:
  1. Have a clear objective: a peaceful and prosperous Pacific where China follows the rule of law and the US works closely with its partners.
  2. Speak truth to Chinese power: Be willing to offend Beijing with frank statements, especially on issues like human rights and Taiwan.
  3. Punish Chinese provocations, for example by un-inviting them from international wargames like RIMPAC if they continue building artificial “islands.”
  4. Strengthen our military presence in the Pacific, especially (but not onlynaval forces.
  5. Communicate our strategy — to the American people so they buy in, to our allies so they’re reassured, and to the Chinese so they’re deterred.
  6. “One of the cornerstones of any strategy is the ability to articulate that strategy,” Forbes told me. “The administration will tell you have they have a strategy, but ask them in any hearing, ask them in any place, to put it on the record… They will not tell you, because they don’t have it.”

“We’ve been trying to encourage them to have an East Asia strategy review,” Forbes added. “We haven’t had one since the ’90s… They’ve refused to do one since they’ve been in office.”

Read the rest of the article here.

I recently  wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on the senseless humiliations the United States places on its longstanding partner Taiwan, all to avoid antagonizing China. Yet China's behavior in the region has only become more opposed to U.S. national interests. See my article here.

Posted by Randy | July 23, 2015
This week, the Cuban embassy was re-opened in Washington, D.C., after being closed for over half a century. The United States also re-opened its embassy in Havana.  Since 1961, the two nations have not had formal diplomatic relations, and the United States has maintained a strict ban on the majority of trade with Cuba as long as the Cuban government continued to resist the establishment of democracy and disregard human rights concerns.

The resumption of diplomatic relations, however, came as a result of President Obama’s announcement last December to begin efforts to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, loosen financial and travel restrictions, and authorize certain commercial sales and exports to Cuba’s growing private sector.

While the Administration has the authority to normalize relations with Cuba, Congress holds the power to lift the over 50-year-old ban on trade between the two countries. Members of Congress who support the Administration contend that it is time to move away from outdated policies of the past. However, many remain concerned that the process to resume diplomatic relations has been premature and rushed, without the necessary reforms on Cuba’s part in return for the concessions made by the United States.

Question of the Week: Do you agree with the Administration’s decision to re-open the embassies, and re-establish diplomatic, economic, and travel ties with Cuba?

(  ) Yes.
(  ) No.
(  ) I don’t know.
(  ) Other.

Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by | July 23, 2015
Wanted to follow up with you and let you know that -- after sending a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), requesting a delay in the enforcement period of the new mortgage disclosure rules set to go into effect on August 1st-- I am now cosponsoring legislation to delay the enforcement of the new rules until January 1st, 2016. Take a look at the bill text, here.

Providing this grace period is a win-win: it gives the mortgage and housing industry the time they need to be able to adapt to the changes and comply with the new rules, and it takes care of customers by helping make sure they’re not caught up in any potential confusion with the new regulations.
Posted by Randy | July 22, 2015
Wanted to follow up and let you know that Chairman Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee – where I serve as a senior member – announced that the Committee is launching an immediate investigation into the practices of Planned Parenthood. The Energy and Commerce Committee announced that they will also be launching an investigation. You can read a copy of the letter I joined my colleagues in sending, urging Committee leadership for swift and thorough action, here.

I will keep you updated as the investigations get underway.