Posted by Randy | January 23, 2015
This week, President Obama delivered his sixth official State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress. As part of the speech, the President announced a series of tax hikes, totaling approximately $320 billion in increased taxes, according to White House estimates.
Posted by Randy | January 20, 2015
Wanted you to be aware of a religious liberties battle that California State University students are fighting – it’s an issue plaguing college campuses across the country.
This past fall, Cal State revoked the recognized student organization status of InterVarsity, a group that has been a part of campus life for decades, on all 23 Cal State campuses. Other organizations had since faced the same fate. These groups were de-recognized because they ask their student leaders to affirm the faith mission of the organization—a requirement that the University claims violates the school’s nondiscrimination policy.
Though these groups may still meet on campus, without student organization status they are restricted from participating in campus life on an equal footing with other student organizations. They must now pay fees at the discretion of the University in order to use campus facilities, and they cannot participate in opportunities like student organization fairs and advertising events in space reserved for student groups.
Allowing student groups to select leaders that best represent an organization’s mission is not discrimination—it is common sense. Before the end of the 113th Congress, I joined my democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Rep. Mike McIntyre, along with 24 other Members in sending a letter to California State University, urging them to ensure that the school’s nondiscrimination policy was not being interpreted in a manner that discriminated against religious student groups.
Religious student organizations should not be treated as second-class student organizations simply because they ask their leadership to support the core principles of the organization. I will continue this fight for religious liberties and freedoms on college campuses, and will keep you posted as the developments continue to unfold.
This issue is crucial because our nation’s future leaders are being shaped on college campuses. We should be teaching them the ideals that our country was founded on -- religious freedom and the right to free association are fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution. Colleges and universities should be safe places for the free exchange and debate of ideas, and religious student groups should be free to fully participate in campus life without fear or being marginalized.
Posted by Randy | January 20, 2015
There is reason to worry about the state of the U.S. Navy, from a shrinking Fleet to new threats around the world. We have much work to do in the coming year to ensure that our sailors have what they need to face these challenges. Below is a recent piece from Defense One, which includes my thoughts on the subject.
By Kevin Baron
January 20, 2015
In the Pentagon, senior U.S. military leaders often like to say that historically they are terrible at predicting the next war, while critics argue that generals constantly are planning for the last war. Both may be true. Ironically, those same leaders have spent the last two years complaining that they are being forced to live in an era of too much uncertainty.
Why do Pentagon leaders think they can make uncertainty go away? The year 2014 could not have proven more unpredictable. Maybe it’s time to start planning for the unexpected.
The new era of global conflicts for which political leaders demand constant U.S. military intervention offers the Pentagon a new opportunity to stop fighting against the age of uncertainty and start embracing it.
The increasingly globalization of terrorism, as seen by the attacks in France and other threats across Europe, and the recent aggression of Russia, means that the Navy is in more demand than ever. But there are challenges not only abroad, but at home. Budget cuts still threaten the Pentagon, with another round of sequestration on the table.
“Looking ahead to 2015, the state of the U.S. Navy concerns me,” Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., told Defense One. “Although the American Navy remains the finest naval service in the world, six years of reckless budget cuts have shrunk our fleet to one of its smallest sizes since the First World War.”
Much of the Navy’s resources are tied down with controversial programs like the Littoral Combat Ship, the Zumwalt class destroyer, and the F-35 fighter. The LCS is over budget and widely seen as under-gunned, the Zumwalt is so expensive that procurement is held to a mere three ships, and the F-35, despite being the most expensive weapons program in history, has become a running joke.
Read the full article here: http://www.defenseone.com/feature/state-defense/#navy
Posted by Randy | January 16, 2015
The United States faces numerous challenges in 2015, from the ongoing threat of Islamist terror to a resurgent, rising China, and a nuclear-obsessed Iran. The U.S. Navy will be at the forefront of all these challenges, requiring new strategies, strong leadership, and increased resources to ensure our national security. Below, I recently shared my thoughts with USNI News on the way forward for our Navy in the coming year.
By: Sam LaGrone
January 13, 2015
As the chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) has been both a booster and critic of the Navy’s quest to build more ships and its modernization efforts across its aviation, surface and submarine portfolios.
Last year, Forbes was highly critical of the Navy’s plan to layup 11 cruisers, the direction of the service’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program, been vocal about the lack of strategic direction of the service and publically wary of the rise in Chinese and Russian capabilities in the face of declining U.S. defense budgets.
Forbes sat down with USNI News last week to outline the goals for his subcommittee and the direction he’d like to see the Navy move into the future, how he sees China and the service’s strategic direction.
USNI News: What’s going to be the focus of your year ahead?
Forbes: I think you could lay some dots down from where I’ve been to kind of project where I’m going to go.
One of the real interesting things to watch is going to be whether we have renewed debate among Congress itself about what do with sequestration.
We started down this path when the administration started these [defense] cuts, even before sequestration. Now many of the same people in the administration are screaming and yelling, ‘oh look at all these pitfalls.'
You have those cuts then you have sequestration on top of that and that was before the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).
One of the real big things that we’re going to be looking at is, “are we able to get sequestration done away with as it pertains to defense?"
I think the answer to that is going to be yes but I think that’s just one component.
The next part of that is can we begin to turn those [budget] curve lines where they actually need to go.
I say those two big things, because everything else lines up based on those two questions.
Assuming those discussions go reasonably well, then we’re going back and asking what is our strategy across the globe and then what’s it going to take to fulfill that strategy.
USNI News: How so?
Forbes: As I look at policy makers, I try to ask then is not, “how much money do you want to spend on defense and what can you get for that money but what do you want to give up?"
If you have nine choke points around the world, which one of those choke points are you willing to give up?
Are you willing to give up the Asia-Pacific area because we’re going to have two-thirds of all of the trade for the next decade are going to go through there? Are you willing to give up the Strait of Hormuz, which would be 30 to 35 percent of the oil in the world? We’re told by the CIA that if we lose it for two weeks gas will go up to $7.50 a gallon.
Then you ask do we want to give up our under water cables which do 95 percent of all international financial transactions which take place in this country every day or do we want to give up any of our sea lanes, which is 85 percent of all of the goods that we’re selling in our stores, if you say, “no, we don’t want to [ give up] any of those” and we want to have this presence around the world.
Do the math and the math simply doesn’t add up to needing only 274 ships.
Eleven of that 274 would have been [Ticonderoga-class] cruisers that they would have beached with the electronics out of and radar of out of taking at least a year and a half, two years to get them back in the water.
Laying all that out… I think we really realize that we need to do these offset strategies.
We believe very strongly in the innovation and the technological component of what we need to be looking at but among that we think it’s vitally important that we keep our carrier fleet, keep them going strong, that we keep our surface combatants. I have yet to hear anyone from the Navy sit [in my office] and tell me that we don’t need those cruisers
We’re going to argue for those. We’ve heard rumblings that the administration might try and take out six destroyers next year. We will certainly fight against that, if that were to take place.
I think we have a great debate that’s going to go on UCLASS. And then we’re looking at our submarine fleet and whether or not two a year is going to be enough to get us where we need to be going.
We’re focused on just China now, but China and Russia because as you know Russia is increasing their capacity and capability every single day. We’ve got to look at how much we want to spend but look at these capacities and capabilities we’re going to be dealing with our near-term competitors and make sure we have the strategies necessary but then the capacity and capability to deal with that.
USNI News: What do you think of the Navy’s current strategic posture?
Forbes: We don’t feel like we’ve had the kind of strategic planning and strategic thinking that we have needed out of the Pentagon for the last several years.
I think it’s nationwide. We’ve gotten to where we just react to the next six months or just the next few months.
Now more than ever we got to have a defense strategy that makes sense but also gives us the ability to do our acquisitions… you can’t do it with a 12 page defense guidance and the people in the Pentagon would echo that same [sentiment].
USNI News: What would you like to see from the Navy or the Pentagon as far as a strategy product? Would it be a single document?
Forbes: Strategies are not often a single document, normally they are a group of documents coming together but I would like to see an overall comprehensive strategy that’s greater than 12 pages that says this is how we’re going to deal with these capabilities coming out of China coming out of Russia and what we are predicting for the next decade or more.
The decisions that we’re making with the Navy are decade decisions they’re not a month down the road or 12 months down the road.
USNI News: At the Atlantic Council Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition, made a full-throated call for Congress to roll back some legislation that places bureaucratic restrictions on the military. He mentioned specifically the BCA. What’s your take?
Forbes: It makes no sense to have 40 different approval processes for every platform we’re trying to put out there. You have good intentions with the Goldwater–Nichols [Act] but there are ramifications that come from that.
I don’t think any of us here would object to relooking and saying how do we streamline that process and make it more effective. It’s not just a cost increaser but it’s also a time delay. We can literally 22 and a half years from idea and conception from when we actually deploy something. That’s not acceptable in a world where Iran and China can do it seven to nine years.
We don’t win that math.
If we’re talking about how do we streamline that acquisition process and make that more effective we’d welcome that discussion. It wouldn’t even be a debate, it would be a discussion on how we can help bring that about.
But is Congress going to take a hands-off approach and let the Pentagon do whatever they want? We have no intentions of doing that.
That’s different from saying we’re going to continue to layer it down with needless bureaucracy on how we get something built.
One of the keys for us is how we are able to get more innovation in there… It’s not just the big companies. It’s how do we [bring in] the small companies because sometimes the small companies have the creative capabilities to come in and help do those design concepts.
We have to make sure we have room at the table for them.
USNI News: The modified LCS concept is out now. The Office of the Secretary of Defense appears to be satisfied with how that’s moving forward. Sen. McCain said he had more questions about the platform. Do you have a take on the navy’s decision?
Forbes: We haven’t had them come back and make that presentation to us and we need to make sure we allow them to do that.
USNI News: You mentioned China and Russia and with few exceptions the Navy doesn’t talk much about the capabilities of China and Russia in detail. Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert said in June that due to U.S. trade relationships with China it’s not helpful to talk in the open about China’s capabilities. Where are you in that discussion?
Forbes: His quote was a little more staggering than that. But I disagree that we shouldn’t even be discussing it.
That’s one of the things we have been advocating we ought to be looking at. If you look at the best thinkers at the Pentagon now they fully believe that we can’t just look at Chinese or Russian intentions but he have to look at their capabilities because intentions can change so quickly.
If you listen to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he’s starting to take the tone that’s much more in line with what I’ve been saying for several years now, in terms of China and Russia.
USNI News: What are you looking for in the next budget submission? What are you hoping the Navy has heard from your fellow members, from your committee and the concerns that you have?
Forbes: [Stackley] was pretty pleased with what we were doing in the Navy and some of the steps that we have done. I’m hoping to see them continue forward with that movement. We can’t continue to let the Navy decline. We have to start rebuilding this Navy and we’re hoping we’re going to see that as part of what’s in that budget. If not we will relook and make sure that’s a part of that budget as we did when they tried to take the cruisers out and the carrier out and the Tomahawk missile production out and the amphibious ship. I hope they have gotten the message that Congress isn’t willing to go in that direction.
USNI News: Both of the Fiscal Year 2015 defense bills put in money for a 12th San Antonio-class (LPD-17). Do you think that the line should go beyond 12?
Forbes: Our concern is to make sure the Navy [goes in] the direction [of 12 LPDs]. We still have a deficit in funding of that [ship] and [the Navy] is concerned with that funding.
I think our first step is making sure we get that ship built.
USNI News: At the Atlantic Council Stackley mentioned capability gaps, like electronic warfare and the lack of a modern anti-ship missile, is there anything else you’re seeing from your position?
Forbes: There’s some he didn’t mention, that’s because they’re of a classified nature.
But I think the anti-ship missile capability is something we’ve been looking at. That’s why we worked on getting something in the budget last year, too. That’s a big concern for us. I think that would be a big concern for probably [U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Samuel] Locklear.
Despite the fact we’ve been doing relatively well with our submarines but anytime you do the math and say in eight years they’re going to have over 80 submarines and we’re going to have in the low 30s, that’s math equation isn’t real happy.
I think when you look in the gaps we have in carrier presence, we can’t afford to slide back in what we’re doing there. We think we have some huge concerns with what we might want to be doing with UCLASS, because we see where they might be going. The electronic warfare, cyber, what we do in space in terms of protecting our satellites — all of that is incredibly important because if you lose those capabilities it impacts us overall in terms of our capacity and capabilities.
In the last five years no one was mentioning those deficits no they’re beginning to talk about them and that’s a big turn that I’m excited to see.
It’s not just [Stackley], you hear the Chairman [Dempsey] talking about the same thing in his speeches as well.
USNI News: Talking about UCLASS, apparently the Navy and OSD have reached some type of accord on what that concept is going to be and they’re going to release it as part of the budget submission as to what it’s going to look like. Do you have an inkling what that is or what that looks like?
Forbes: Yes, I have an inkling but no inklings that I can talk about.
I want to be fair in that I think the [DoD] and the Navy in bringing us into that but there’s not much I can talk about.
But I have lines I can’t cross on that, but I’m pleased with the direction they’re now going in.
USNI News: Were you satisfied with the Navy’s response with what you asked in your letter to CNO Greenert on strategy?
Forbes: I was pleased and satisfied with the response that they gave with their willingness to really look at these issues and the movement that they are willing to start making.
But in all of these things, the proof is in the pudding but right now I think they have been very responsive.
We’re looking at what they’re doing with strategy and the officers they’re bringing in with that. I don’t know if it would be realistic for me to say they’ve done much more.
It’s been interesting to see the development of Chinese strategy and how that’s evolving — much different from what the Pentagon thought it was four or five years ago but it’s more in line with what we thought four or five years ago.
It’s absolutely accurate, they realize how big this concern is now and it can’t be swept under the rug right now.
USNI News: What do you want to see from the Navy this year?
Forbes: I think a continued partnership with Congress in terms of making sure we’re jointly rebuilding the United States Navy so that we can meet the strategic goals it must meet. Not just in the foreseeable future but in the next one to two to three decades.
I am pleased with movement we’ve seen but I think but we’re going to look to continue that kind of partnership as we go through this year.
If we do, there’s a lot we’ll be able to accomplish.
Read the article here: http://news.usni.org/2015/01/13/interview-hascs-forbes-china-strategy-navys-year-ahead
Posted by Randy | January 16, 2015
Wanted to be sure you saw that the House recently passed the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 30). This bill is crucial to our job creators and hardworking employees as it repeals the Affordable Care Act’s 30-hour work week definition, which is forcing some employers to cut worker hours and restructure their work force to avoid paying the costly penalty of Obamacare’s employer mandate. This unconventional definition has resulted in lost income for some employees, while others have lost their jobs. The Save American Workers Act takes steps to protect employees by restoring the 40-hour work week.
Moving forward, much work remains to be done to roll back the harmful impacts of the President’s healthcare law. I will continue to advocate for the freedom of businesses to create jobs and grow their companies, as well as the opportunity for hardworking Americans to support their families, advance in their careers, and build better futures for their children.
I also support the Regulatory Accountability Act, (H.R. 185) to address head on the problem of the endlessly escalating, unnecessary federal regulations that are choking out our small business’ innovation and growth, and crippling our economy. Read the full text of the bill, here.
Posted by Randy | January 13, 2015
A couple important things I wanted to highlight for you in the text of the amendments to the DHS funding bill we’re voting on over the next day or so. See my notes below...
1) It stops the use of fees. Many people didn’t realize that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the agency within the Department of Homeland Security responsible for implementing much of the President’s executive amnesty plan – is approximately 97% funded by fees. That means only about 3% of its budget is funded by Congress. That’s why withholding funding back in December, which I wrote to you about, would not have stopped the President’s executive amnesty – the agency would have continued to operate. Now, though, by prohibiting the use of agency-collected fees, we’re able to effectively take the teeth out of the Administration's executive actions. This is something I have been working with the Judiciary Committee on, and is, in my opinion, the most crucial aspect of the amendments. (Read the full text of the amendment, here.)
2) It stops the President’s memos. These amendments cut the funding from 15 memorandums issued by the Administration as part of its continued efforts to bypass Congress and rewrite our nation’s immigration laws. The amendment also defunds the ability of aliens to receive any Federal benefits based on these policies. Congress has the power of the purse and it’s imperative that we use it. (Read the full text of the amendment, here.)
3) It stops DACA. These amendments cut funding for the consideration of any new, renewed, or previously denied applications for deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). No amnesty means no amnesty – it’s that simple. (Read the full text of the amendment, here.)
While much work remains to be done to secure our borders, enforce our current laws, and restore the rule of law, rolling back the President's unconstitutional action is a good first step. I’ll keep you posted as this moves to the House floor.
The Department of Homeland Security funding bill itself provides for the largest operational force levels in the history of the Customs and Border Protection agency, as well as several critical border security initiatives (including around-the-clock surveillance of air, land, and sea approaches to the border). Additionally, it strengthens internal enforcement efforts, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention programs.
Question of the Week: Should the United States have had a higher level of representation at Sunday’s Paris rally for unity?Posted by Randy | January 12, 2015
This week, following the horrific acts of terrorism that rocked France last week, leaders from around the world gathered at a Unity Rally in Paris, France, to express solidarity in the fight against the growing threat of terrorism. Approximately 1.5 million people, including over 40 world leaders, ranging from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, joined the march this past Sunday.
Attorney General Eric Holder was present in Paris over the weekend for counter-terrorism discussions. He did not, however, attend the rally. Instead, the most visible American official present at the march was U.S. Ambassador to France, Jane Hartley. In response, the Administration has faced heavy criticism over the decision not to send a senior official to Sunday’s rally.
In a press briefing today, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that the absence was due to security concerns, as well as the fact that the White House did not want President Obama’s presence to disrupt the gathering. He added, though, that, “I think it’s fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there.”
Question of the week: Should the United States have had a higher level of representation at Sunday’s Paris rally for unity?
( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other.
Take the Poll here.
Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | January 10, 2015
As we look forward to 2015 and the opportunity that a new Congress brings, I wanted to update you briefly on some of the ways I have been working this past year to protect family values and our religious freedom:
· No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7). This bill would establish a government-wide, permanent prohibition on the funding of abortion and passed the House on January 28, 2014 by a vote of 227 to 188.
· Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 1797). This bill would prohibit abortions nationwide on unborn children that are beyond twenty weeks gestation on the basis that children at this stage of development can feel pain and passed the House on June 18, 2013 by a vote of 228 to 196.
· State Marriage Defense Act (H.R. 3829). The Supreme Court has left the definition of marriage to the states, and this bill would require the federal government to respect each state’s definition of marriage when applying federal laws and regulations.
· Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 5285). This bill would ensure that all child welfare service providers have the equal opportunity to serve children and families by prohibiting discrimination by the government against any provider because of the organization’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.
· Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940). This bill, which includes the full text of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), would ensure that religious organizations, private businesses, institutions of higher education, health care providers, and insurance companies are not required to sponsor insurance coverage that violates their moral or religious beliefs.
· Parental Rights Amendment (H.J.Res. 50). This bill would amend the Constitution to protect a parent’s fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children.
Looking towards 2015, it is my hope that we will be able to accomplish even greater things for the cause of religious freedom in this country. I will keep you posted along the way.
Posted by Randy | January 09, 2015
In 2015, I have no higher priority than continuing my fight to support our men and women in uniform, and to protect our national security. It’s not just a duty, it’s an honor.
Supporting our American heroes once they return home isn’t optional – it is this nation’s moral obligation. That’s why I’m pleased the House passed Hire More Heroes Act (H.R. 22) this week, with my support, and it’s now heading over to the Senate for consideration.
Question of the week: Do you agree with Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of the movie "The Interview" after cyber threats?Posted by Randy | December 23, 2014
On November 24, 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced cyber attacks by a hacker group under the moniker, "Guardians of Peace." The attacks were in conjunction with the scheduled release of the film, "The Interview," which portrays the assassination of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. On December 17th, the FBI announced that it had, "enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions." Sony Pictures ultimately decided to cancel the release of "The Interview," with the stated reason being that individual theaters had refused to show the film.
In an interview this past Sunday, President Obama stated that he does not view North Korea's hack of Sony Pictures "an act of war" but rather an act of “cyber-vandalism.” Additionally, the President said that the U.S. will review whether to put North Korea back on a list of states that sponsor terrorism, and stuck by his criticism of Sony's decision to cancel its plans to release the movie, "The Interview."
Question of the week: Do you agree with Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of the movie "The Interview" after cyber threats?
( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other.
Take the Poll here.
Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
RECENT POSTS01/23/2015 - Question of the Week: Do you support the President's proposals to increase taxes?
01/20/2015 - College Campus Falters on Freedom
01/20/2015 - The State of our Navy: No Reason to Worry
01/16/2015 - My Thoughts on the Year Ahead for the U.S. Navy
01/16/2015 - Full Time = 40 Hours
01/13/2015 - Quick FYI