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Posted by Randy | February 26, 2015

This week, the Heritage Foundation released a new study describing how the U.S. military has been decimated by sequestration under this Administration, and assessing three out of four of the U.S. military services as “marginal” in strength and readiness. As has been said before, the most expensive thing in the world is a cheap Army and Navy.

I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the unveiling of the report – watch my speech here or by clicking the image below.

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 bottom-line is this: if we don’t get national defense right, then nothing else matters. I will continue to advocate for a strong defense and a strong America – connect on my Facebook page to stay up to date on my work.
Posted by Randy | February 25, 2015
Wanted to provide you with a brief roundup of some bills that are moving forward in the House, that I think you would be interested in: 

Making life a little easier for our veterans. Currently, only retired or medically discharged veterans receive an ID card from the VA. I’m supporting a bill (the Veterans ID Card Act, H.R. 91) to direct the VA to provide ID cards to any honorably discharged veteran who requests one. This would allow veterans to utilize goods, services, and activities offered by public and private institutions to those who demonstrate proof of military service – without having to always carry their official DD-214 discharge papers, which is both inconvenient and impractical.

Supporting our military families
. The Military Spouse Job Continuity Act is being introduced this week to help military spouses transition more easily into new jobs. This act will allow for an income tax credit when a military move forces military spouses to apply for a new state license or certification.

Caring for disabled heroes. I am supporting the Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act (H.R. 333), which amends Title 10 of the United States Code to permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability rated less than 50%, to receive both retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation. It also extends eligibility for concurrent payment to Chapter 61 disability retirees with less than 20 years of service.

Supporting Vietnam veterans. I cosponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 969) to extend VA agent orange exposure coverage for qualifying Vietnam Navy Veterans, thereby lifting the burden from individual veterans to prove direct exposure to agent orange (which is nearly impossible due to lack of record keeping and the inability to know the precise location of toxins from air and ground water runoff).

Working to prevent suicides among veterans
. I voted to support the Clay Hunt Act (H.R. 203) to direct the VA to provide annual evaluations of mental healthcare and suicide prevention programs. It also requires a pilot program for loan repayment for psychiatrists who agree to serve in the Veterans Health Administration of the VA. This act passed both the House and the Senate, and was signed into law by the President.

I will continue to work on behalf of our men and women in uniform, our veterans, and their families. Because doing everything we can to support them, is the least we can do.

Posted by Randy | February 23, 2015

From the Middle East to Eastern Europe to the South China Sea, U.S. security challenges are mounting and, too often, our strategies seem woefully lacking. I recently had the chance to speak with Real Clear Defense and share my thoughts on some of the most pressing national security issues facing our country.

The A2/AD Challenge: Interview with Rep. J. Randy Forbes
By Harry Kazianis
February 23, 2015

RCD Editor Harry Kazianis: There has been a lot of talk concerning changes to the Air-Sea Battle Concept (ASB). What is your reaction to the recent long form op-ed in The National Interest on the subject that details most of the changes in depth authored by the ASB Office and the Joint Staff? Do you feel ASB will continue to guide American long-term thinking on anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) or fall into obscurity?

Rep. Forbes:
I certainly hope the concept does not fall into obscurity. My chief worry with regards to ASB and the JAM-GC that has replaced it has been that the concept would lose its focus on overcoming A2/AD challenges, even those challenges aren’t going away.  The ASB Office and the J7 have been very clear, both in their op-ed and in a discussion they had down in Suffolk with my staff, that the concept’s focus will remain on overcoming A2/AD challenges.  I think that’s very important and reassuring because those challenges are intensifying, and our efforts to counter and mitigate them are going to need to ramp up as well.

I am also pleased to hear that the JAM-GC will be paying more attention to the role of U.S. ground forces and the role of our allies and partners, subjects that I think do indeed deserve a deeper look.   But my concern is that we’ll end up with a consensus-driven document that really is just the lowest common denominator that everyone can agree upon.

Another thing that concerns me is the risk that the JAM-GC will be written in what I like to call “Pentagonese.”  It’s not the acronyms that bother me—it’s the tendency of military writers to use these abstract terms and adjectives that sound important but don’t say much at all.  It’s a problem that afflicts the entire DoD and I don’t want to sound too critical of the ASB Office or J7, but I must say I get a little worried when I hear them talking about “leveraging cross-domain expertise within component and lower-echelon operations centers to create cross-domain effects in support of the commanders’ intent and schemes of maneuver.”  As I said in my own piece in The National Interest, words matter, and it’s important that the JAM-GC be written in concrete terms that can communicate to policymakers and allies what we need to do and we need to do it.  Fortunately, it sounds like the new concept will discuss the characteristics our forces will need to deal with A2/AD and will include an implementation plan that explains what we need to do.

Kazianis: You have been a big supporter of crafting a long-term strategy when it comes to the Asia-Pacific region. In a few words, if you were crafting such a strategy on your own, what would be the key components?

Forbes: The United States has significant national interests at stake in the Asia-Pacific, from ensuring the free flow of global commerce to upholding the peaceful regional order that has prevailed since World War II. Upholding those interests requires a combination of robust military capability and a commitment to the alliance and partnership structure that has endured for seven decades.

The military aspect of any long-term U.S. strategy in Asia requires both a level of defense spending commensurate with our challenges and a focus on investments particularly relevant to the region. The military balance in Asia has discernibly shifted in the past decade, as China focuses on A2/AD systems designed to either neutralize traditional U.S. advantages or aggravate perceived American weaknesses.

While the future is never fully knowable, there are several key areas of military investment that will almost surely be crucial over the coming decades. Preserving the traditional U.S. competitive advantage in undersea warfare, including platforms like the Virginia-class attack submarine and the growth in Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs), will be key. Long-range strike and power projection, including the Air Force's next generation bomber and the promise of unmanned carrier aviation, are essential to preserving U.S. and allied access to the region's common areas. We must also tend to the less "exciting" aspects of our presence in Asia, from a ready stockpile of precision munitions at strategic locations to a well-resourced combat logistics capability.  Finally, American commitment to open access in both space and cyberspace, both of which are crucial to a long-term forward presence in the Asia-Pacific, will require a sustained investment in the years ahead.

Perhaps most importantly, any long-term U.S. presence in Asia requires a reinvigoration of our alliances and partnerships. When I visit with Asian leaders, their most commonly expressed concern is that U.S. presence in the region is shaky and American strategy is unclear and ill defined. We must leave no doubt, through our words and deeds, that the United States sees the Asia-Pacific region as an area of absolute national interest. Our traditional allies, and emerging partners like Vietnam, will respond positively to American leadership when our rhetoric and our actions are aligned and our leaders leave no doubt that the United States sees itself as a Pacific power in the 21st century.

Kazianis: Over the last several weeks there seems to have been some movement on one of America's greatest strategic problems: being what yourself have termed as being "out-sticked" by various types of anti-ship weapons. Do you feel the Pentagon and the administration is moving fast enough to develop, test, and eventually deploy anti-ship weapons with enough range and technological capabilities to compete with efforts by China, Russia, Iran, and various others?

Forbes: I have been pleased with what I’ve been seeing recently with regards to weapons development.  We may have had our head stuck in the sand for a little too long, but now that we’ve belatedly recognized and acknowledged the problem we seem to be moving out pretty quickly.  I am encouraged to see that we’re simultaneously pursuing game-changers in the long-term like directed energy and railguns, while also looking at near-term enhancements like off-the-shelf anti-ship missiles and new tricks for the old Tomahawk missile.  Both are badly needed.

But it’s not just about capabilities, it’s also about capacity, and I think we need to take a hard look at our munitions stocks and see what kind of numbers we have and what kind of numbers we would need if we were engaged in what some have called a “salvo competition” with another highly capable adversary.

Kazianis: Moving away from the Asia-Pacific region I would like to get your reaction to the Obama Administration's new National Security Strategy (NSS). Do you feel it addresses the challenges America faces overseas? Do you think it will have an impact on America strategic thinking longterm considering the relatively short amount of time left for the Obama Administration to craft policy?

Forbes: Strategy is about linking ends, ways, and means, and while the Obama administration’s document contains a lot of warm and fuzzy talk about the lofty aims and ideals of our nation, it says relatively little about the ways in which we will attain and achieve them and even less about the resources required to do so.  So I don’t think it’s a document that can or will be taken very seriously. It certainly does not speak candidly about many of the challenges we face.

This speaks to a problem I have had with the Administration for many years: the failure to speak candidly about our national security challenges. Instead of Islamist terrorism, we are facing “man-caused disasters” and the generic threat of “violent extremism”. It is difficult to rally the world to your cause when you speak mostly in euphemism and refuse to call your adversary what it truly is. Not only does it confuse our allies and partners but it gives our enemies a sense of comfort that they most certainly do not need.

Kazianis: Finally, in a recent article for Politico, former Mitt Romney foreign policy adviser Robert C. O'Brien makes the case that America's Navy is too small to address the challenges that lie ahead—and it seems like it will get even smaller. What can be done to address this important issue?

Forbes: The Navy is shrinking, and has done so for most of the past generation. Both parties failed to sustain the gains of the Reagan Administration, when our Fleet numbered a little under 600 ships. Today, we are at 284 ships, one of the Navy's smallest sizes since World War I, and likely to shrink still further.  The number of grey hulls in the water isn’t the only metric for the strength or weakness of our Navy, but given the demand for ships in multiple theaters and the fact that each ship can only be in one place at one time, it remains an important one.

Looking ahead, the Navy faces a roughly $4 billion shortfall between the money budgeted for shipbuilding and the resources that are actually going to be needed to make the 30 Year Shipbuilding Plan a reality.  $4 billion sounds like a lot of money to most Americans—and it is—but as the Congressional Research Service has pointed out, it would take less than 1% of the DoD budget to fill that gap and fully resource the Navy’s shipbuilding plan.  Given the importance of seapower to our nation and our foreign policy, I think it’s a strategic imperative that we do so.  It’s an issue of supply and demand, and right now the demand is going up while the supply is just barely holding steady. The shipbuilding budget will be even further strained by the Ohio Replacement submarine program, a national strategic asset that should be funded outside the Navy’s shipbuilding accounts. If we don’t bend those trend lines the Navy is not going to be able to keep protecting our interests and preserving peace and stability the way it has been for the past 100 years.

Meanwhile, we need to make sure that we’re keeping our limited number of platforms as capable and ready as we can.  We need to make sure we’re fully funding ship maintenance, upgrades, and overhauls and getting those hulls out of the drydocks and back on station as quickly as we can.  We also need to harness new technologies like unmanned aircraft, directed energy weapons, and lasers to maximize the capability and capacity of individual platforms and multiply the force they can deliver.

Read the article here.
Posted by Randy | February 20, 2015
Throughout their entire lives, productive, hardworking Americans pay taxes on what they earn. To have to pay taxes again, on the inheritance they are leaving behind to their children, is unfair.

That’s why I cosponsored a bill (H.R. 173) to repeal the death tax. Rather than trying to tax our way to prosperity, the federal government should instead focus its efforts on creating an environment that encourages job growth and returns more of the American taxpayer’s hard-earned money back in their pockets.

I will continue to oppose tax increases, and fight for a fairer, more straight-forward tax code. You can read more about my work on this issue here
Posted by Randy | February 19, 2015
 This week, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, issued an injunction temporarily halting the Administration’s sweeping executive actions on immigration, noting that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary is “not just rewriting the laws; he is creating them from scratch.” Additionally, Judge Hanen argued the Administration’s programs would impose substantial burdens on states and states' budgets.

This injunction was issued in response to a federal lawsuit filed by 26 states, challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s immigration actions. These executive actions were announced in November 2014, when President Obama proclaimed he would unilaterally allow approximately four million unlawful immigrants to stay and work in the United States, without a vote of Congress -- despite having stated over 20 times that he does not have the constitutional authority to change our immigration laws unilaterally.

In December, Congressman Forbes joined the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) in filing an amicus brief in this lawsuit, arguing that the Administration’s executive action on immigration, at the admission of the President, “changes the law and sets new policy, exceeding the Defendants’ constitutional authority and disrupting the delicate balance of powers.”

This week’s ruling on the lawsuit was handed down just days before thousands of illegal immigrants were set to begin applying for legal protection and work permits under the Administration’s executive actions. According to Administration officials, the expansion, which was set to begin on Wednesday, has now been indefinitely postponed to comply with the federal judge’s order. The President has vowed to appeal the injunction, and expressed confidence in the success of the appeal, stating: “The law is on our side, and history is on our side."

Question of the Week: Do you support the federal judge’s ruling halting the President’s executive actions on immigration?

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

Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here
Posted by Randy | February 19, 2015
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) drug approval process is bulky with bureaucracy and clogged with outdated regulations. Too often it blocks, rather than encourages, potential breakthroughs. It’s not easy to measure the impact this has on our medical environment: who can say how many of our nation’s most innovative researchers’ attempts to bring groundbreaking new treatments to patients have been crippled by the FDA’s clunky process? Lost opportunity is difficult to quantify. But that’s all the more reason it is crucial to streamline the FDA’s drug approval process and regulations on emerging technologies, and to accelerate the pace of medical innovation.

Recently, the FDA announced it is “committed to streamlining its processes” in the context of simplifying and accelerating the application process for unapproved investigational drugs. Better, though, would be the simplification and acceleration of the process for drug approval itself – so fewer patients are waiting for treatments tangled up in red tape, and more patients are able to access innovative new cures that have been safely tested.

The bottom line is this
: our medical system will only be successful when it is driven by innovation and discovery, instead of bureaucracy.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a bipartisan discussion draft with suggestions for reforming the FDA’s drug approval process, and multiple Members of Congress have called on the FDA to take action. I will continue to keep you updated on this issue and our progress.
Posted by Randy | February 17, 2015
Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code is important for small businesses because it helps them, and our economy, grow. It allows small businesses to expense up to $25,000 of the total cost of qualifying new and used equipment they buy or lease –  serving as an effective way to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in their own growth.
Last week, the House voted to expand the maximum expensing threshold and make this much needed tax relief for small businesses permanent. I whole-heartedly support this move –  when government acts as a barrier to economic growth, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Stepping out of the way and allowing job creators to grow their companies and invest in the future simply makes sense.
Posted by Hailey Sadler | February 17, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, was honored with the “True Blue” Award for his strong commitment to family values issues and his leadership in defending the constitutionally protected right to the free exercise of religion.
The “True Blue” award is given by FRC Action, the legislative arm of the non-profit Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family Action. This award is presented to Members of Congress who have consistently supported policies that are pro-family, pro-marriage, and protect the sanctity of human life.
“Faith, family, and freedom are the pillars upon which this grand idea – this experiment in self-governance we call America – was built,” said Congressman Forbes. “Our dedication to these three ideals will define the direction of our future. I’m grateful for organizations like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family Action, who do an outstanding job of fighting for our nation’s rich heritage of faith freedom. America’s tomorrow depends on our willingness to take a stance today.”
To read more about Congressman Forbes’ work to protect the role of faith and families in America, click here.

Posted by Randy | February 12, 2015
This week, after over half a year of conflict with ISIS, the Administration sent Congress its proposal for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), for the purpose of degrading and defeating the brutal terrorist group.

Currently, the Administration is operating under a broad AUMF, which dates back to September 2001, and reacted to the 9/11 terror attacks. It authorized the President with all necessary and appropriate force, “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

Now, the President is requesting formal authorization from Congress for the use of military force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  The authorization would not authorize the conduct of long-term, large-scale ground combat operations.  But it would authorize the conduct of ground combat operations in limited circumstances, such as rescue operations or the use of special operations forces to take military actions against ISIS leadership. It also authorizes the use of U.S. forces in situations such as intelligence collecting, missions to enable strikes against terrorist targets, or the provision of operational planning and assistance to partner forces.

Proponents argue that the President’s proposal fulfills his constitutional and legal obligations, while striking the proper balance of demonstrating commitment towards destroying ISIS, yet limiting U.S. ground troops’ involvement. Those opposing the proposal cite concerns over the content of the request, including the lack of a concrete, comprehensive strategy, the limits it places on the flexibility and options of our military commanders, as well as the potential it creates for another endless conflict with no clearly articulated plan for achieving the stated objectives.

Question of the Week:
Do you support the President’s proposal to authorize the use of military force against ISIS?

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

Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | February 06, 2015
Last week, I introduced a bill that does two important things: 1) it strategically cuts the legs out from under Obamacare and 2) it rolls back the massive overreach of the IRS. The Prevent IRS Overreach Act (H.R. 683), accomplishes these goals by prohibiting the expansion of the IRS to implement the President’s health care law – and stopping the IRS from using Obamacare as its next political bludgeon.

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

What are your thoughts on this strategy for defeating Obamacare and reining in the IRS at the same time? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comment section below.