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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.

Yours in Service,



GOP Rep: Time For Visa Protocols to Err On The Side Of U.S. Security
May 26, 2016

Absent additional enhancements to visa security, the country is playing a dangerous lottery game with its legal immigration system, according to Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA).

“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:

  • An average deployment has gone up from 5.5 months to 7 months -- many deployed sailors are away from their families for more than half of a year.

  • America’s Navy can meet less than half of the demand for ships from our commanders around the globe, according to the Navy.

  • Of our older strike fighters (half of Navy’s aircraft), 1 in 2 is grounded due to a shortage of parts and maintenance.

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.

Yours in service,


P.S. In case you didn’t get a chance to read it yet, here is the internal memo we sent to all Members of Congress about what we saw and heard from our Fleet Operators on Monday. We can have no higher priority than ensuring those who fight to keep us safe are equipped to come home safe.

Posted by Randy | May 24, 2016

Friend –

Yesterday, 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. This Thursday, the House Armed Services Seapower and Readiness Subcommittees will be holding a joint hearing to get this critical message to as many lawmakers in Washington as possible.

Here is the internal memo that we’re sharing with Members of Congress about the issues we saw and heard about on Monday – added a few of my own notes for you to see. Our best chance to bring our servicemembers home safely is to send them off prepared.

You can read the full memo with my notes here.

Yours in service,


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
The Virginia Gazette
May 13, 2016

It was July 20, 1969. I was a 17-year-old driving past the golden corn fields that lined quiet rural roads of Virginia.

I remember the rich, smoky voice of the announcer coming through the speakers, the rush of cold air blasting out of the vents of my father's Ford on that hot, heavy Sunday afternoon. Neil Armstrong was commanding Apollo 11.

With only minutes of fuel remaining, Armstrong was piloting a tiny fleck of a spaceship nearly a quarter of a million miles away. Humanity drew in its breath to listen as he took the controls to manually redirect the craft on course to collide with bulky craters jutting out of the charcoal landscape.

My heart hammered in my chest. My mind raced. Around the world, a half a billion hearts pumped with me. Armstrong was unflappably calm. Precise. He held the anticipation of all of humanity in that moment.

"Houston, Tranquility Base here," he radioed. "The Eagle has landed."

"Roger, Tranquility," mission control replied. "We copy you on the ground. You've got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again."

It was a day I will carry with me forever. Armstrong was a main character in a national narrative of hope. Hope based not in words but in deeds. Hope measured by not by soundbites but by skill. He lived at a time when the word 'communism' wasn't a theory but a threat. And when he walked on the surface of moon that day, the world felt the power of our nation's pride.

Virginia's children may not have lived the nervous excitement of that day, but they hold within them a freshness of vision that we remember of our younger selves.

We see that across Virginia, as students are learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students walk into W-JCC schools every day, craving creativity. Their minds are, as Armstrong's was, equipped to think critically and to solve complex problems. They tinker, question, test, and retest. They build websites. They create apps. They code. They build virtual cities.

The same curiosity that existed in Neil Armstrong's heart and mind lives on in our nation's youngest citizens today. When we tell our students about the man who walked on the moon, we must show them that the biggest ideas start in unfamiliar places, move forward with small steps, and bring leaps for mankind.

We must tell them how our economy and global competitiveness depend on the skill level, adaptability, and diverse knowledge of our workforce. We must equip our students with the knowledge and resources they need to hone their abilities to compete in an increasingly global economy. As a representative of these Virginian students, I believe it is both my job and my privilege to create avenues for this. That's why I've made it a mission to advocate for programs promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. That's why I believe it's necessary that we expand the definition of STEM technology to include computer science, a growing and critical field today. That's why I've supported legislation like the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which highlights the importance of industry investment and partnerships when it comes to STEM education. And it's why we must create opportunities to get students excited about learning, through competitions like the Congressional App Challenge that recognizes and awards students who build software applications. Because students who are empowered to invest in STEM fields today, tomorrow may do what Neil Armstrong did – change the world.

Passing on the torch of curiosity and creativity that these great discoverers is critical not just for our country's economy, but for its future. Because scientific discovery remains the antidote for a weary nation, jostled and numb by an onslaught of mediocrity and dizzy from a national lens out-of-focus.

Read the full Op-Ed here.



Posted by Randy | May 19, 2016

Friend -

Every day, we should be grateful for the law enforcement officials who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. This week, as we honor National Police Week, we offer a special thank you to all the men and women who, with dedication and courage, work hard every day to protect our communities and our loved ones.

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


I wanted to be sure you saw the Op-Ed I recently wrote in the Daily Press on my vision for the future of U.S. policy in space and the role Hampton Roads can play in the decades ahead. Read here or below.

Yours in Service,


A springboard for adventure
Daily Press
By Congressman Randy Forbes
May 10, 2016

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.

Yours in Service,



Defense spending plan moving through Congress is good news for Hampton Roads
The Virginian-Pilot
May 18, 2016

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

Friend –

Recently, I was honored to be included on Inside Business’ Power List of influential individuals in Hampton Roads for my efforts to defend our Hampton Roads military assets, rebuild our Navy, and support our men and women in uniform. Hampton Roads is the epicenter for national defense in this country, and its critical importance as a center of shipbuilding and ship repair make it a national strategic asset. It’s an honor to represent this region and I will continue working to protect Virginia jobs and equip our servicemembers. Read the full article here or below.

Yours in Service,


P.S. – My legislation as Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee is just one example of my commitment to defending our defenders in Hampton Roads. It passed the House Armed Services Committee recently, and will soon be on the House floor for a vote. I will keep you posted.

Power List 2-16: No. 12 Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell and Bobby Scott
Inside Business
April 29, 2016

Congressmen Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell and Bobby Scott landed at the No. 12 spot on The Power List for their continuous efforts in fighting budget cuts and sequestration that affect the Hampton Roads economy.

“We have continually fought and increased the amount of money going to our national defense, and stopped the dismantling of our military,” said Forbes, R-Chesapeake.

Priorities for Forbes include strengthening Virginia’s shipbuilding and ship repair industry, growing the military and supporting the Port of Virginia.

“The port is a great asset for us,” Forbes said.

Although the port is blessed with a naturally deep channel, Forbes said all stakeholders must work together to ensure that the region’s transportation, infrastructure and logistics are in place to help the port’s efficiency.

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Forbes helped establish the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, which he says will fund the next generation of ballistic missile submarines that will be built in Newport News, creating more jobs in the area.

Scott’s congressional agenda includes access to quality, affordable early, secondary and higher education; higher wages; and criminal justice reform.

“We need better funding for crime prevention and early intervention to make sure that young people don’t get in trouble to begin with,” Scott said. “Every study has shown that you can reduce crime and save money in these types of investments.”

Scott said his biggest priority is securing sufficient military funding for the Hampton Roads area.

“A major priority is making sure that we maintain a strong shipbuilding industry,” said Scott, D-Newport News. “The military funding is very important to Hampton Roads, and working with the Hampton Roads delegation to maintain funding for shipbuilding has been a major focus of my work.”

Three-term Congressman Scott Rigell will retire in January after representing Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District since 2011.

Rigell said his greatest accomplishments over the past six years have been providing a comprehensive solution for the nation’s fiscal challenges and reducing sequestration in Hampton Roads.

“I don’t know that there was a stronger advocate for sequestration that the effort I put forward,” Rigell said.

Although he is set to retire from Congress in January, Rigell says he will continue to act as a leader in the community.

“I care about our community, and I will continue fighting for the things that I’ve been advocating for in Congress and continue to serve this community.”

Read the full article here

Posted by Randy | May 11, 2016


Like many Americans, I’ve always been in awe of the work NASA does and the new worlds they unlock.

Recently, I visited the NASA Langley Research Center to see firsthand the incredible work these men and women do for the future of our economy and national security. In order to make sure all Members of Congress understand and support the limitless opportunities NASA offers for our future, I am launching a bipartisan Congressional NASA caucus. You can see my press release announcing the Caucus here, along with the Daily Press’ coverage below.

Yours in service,


Forbes at NASA Langley to push hypersonics research
Daily Press
May 6, 2016

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.

"Very few people really knew what a satellite was, or anything about a satellite," U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, said in a phone interview Thursday. "Then, all of the sudden, we see Sputnik going across the sky. And America had this Kodak moment for a while, saying, 'Oh, my gosh, we are getting behind the Russians.'"

Sputnik sparked the space race that led to NASA's Mercury and Apollo programs and the U.S. landing the first man on the moon.

Well, said Forbes, the race is on again. Only this time it's with China and advanced hypersonic vehicles.

Last month, Chinese media announced a successful flight test of a hypersonic glider capable of flying at speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or five to 10 times the speed of sound. Hypersonic generally means speeds above Mach 5.

This concerns Forbes, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, and others because such technology theoretically could be used to send missiles hurtling over vast distances at a fraction of current speeds, leaving little time to respond.

"This glider, if they develop it, will be able to beat most of the air and missile defense systems in the world today," Forbes said. "That should be a similar kind of Sputnik moment for us to realize we have got to reach not only existing levels of hypersonics — but we have to go to new horizons."

To that end, Forbes was in Hampton Friday afternoon for a tour of NASA Langley Research Center before announcing the formation of a bipartisan congressional NASA Caucus intended to spur advances in select technologies, including hypersonics.

About 50 NASA Langley Research Center contractors have been laid off since Oct. 1, according to a Langley spokeswoman.


The research center was deliberately chosen, he said.

"Whether or not we're able to take advantage of the challenges and opportunities that hypersonics gives us," Forbes said, "is going to be dependent pretty much on the work that's done in Hampton, Va., at NASA Langley."

The center was established nearly a century ago as the country's first civilian aeronautics laboratory, and continues to help develop next-generation aircraft technologies.

The U.S. Air Force has been working on its own hypersonic technology, and in 2004 partnered with NASA — in this case, the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California — in a $300 million technology demonstration program to prove the viability of supersonic scramjet propulsion.

After some initial failures, that effort culminated in 2013 when officials announced the historic final flight of the X-51A Waverider, a cruiser that reached Mach 5.1 and traveled more than 230 nautical miles at 60,000 feet in just over six minutes.

Other partners in that effort were Boeing, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Air Force has said there was no immediate successor to that program, but that hypersonic research would continue.

In an email statement Friday, Jay Dryer, head of the Advanced Air Vehicles Program at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., acknowledged that developing new hypersonic capabilities is "important for the country."

"In the near-term, application of hypersonics is likely to be on enhanced defense systems," Dryer said. "But this could eventually expand to include improved access to space capabilities that would directly benefit NASA."

The space agency's Hypersonics Technology Project is part of its Advanced Air Vehicles Program. Dryer said their project will continue to research high-speed propulsion systems and other advanced physics-based models while coordinating closely with the Defense Department.

Russia is also developing its own hypersonic technology, joining with India to develop a short-range supersonic cruise missile called BrahMos that can carry a nuclear warhead.

"We just can't afford to let these other countries take the lead," Forbes said.

Friday's visit

At NASA Langley, the congressman was given a hypersonics overview and shown the hypersonic scramjet test facility where fundamental research is conducted, said center spokesman Rob Wyman.

He was also briefed on other aeronautics activity, including a flying laboratory used to study Earth systems, the Cirrus SR22 single-engine plane that assisted the first government-approved drone deliver medical supplies last summer by remote piloting, and a model of a Mars flyer that could one day be used on the Red Planet.

Forbes was also shown the "boom room," or supersonic simulation building, used to develop ways to minimize or redirect the loud booms generated by supersonic aircraft when they break the sound barrier. If successful, Wyman said, it could one day return supersonic flights over land.

The next step for the NASA Caucus, Forbes said, is staffing it with members who will choose critical research areas to champion.

"Instead of having one person that's promoting NASA, you will have a large number of members of Congress kind of speaking with a single voice," Forbes said.

"Which should be hugely beneficial both to NASA and, we believe, to NASA Langley and the importance of the kind of work that's going to be done there over the next decade or more."

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