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Posted by Randyu | May 07, 2015

It might seem small – reaching for the phone to make that call; picking up your pen and writing a quick note; or even pulling out your phone to send a text. But when we stop and take a moment out of our days to say “thank you” to those who have made a difference in our lives, it can be a powerful thing.

This week, during National Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s each remember to stop and show our gratitude to the teachers, parents, administrators, and many others who contribute to educating our children. They do so much to shape the future of our nation.

To learn about some of my recent work on education issues, visit my website here.

Posted by Randy | May 07, 2015

 


Each year for the past sixty-four years, the President has called the American people to a day united in prayer. We call it the National Day of Prayer, and today, we celebrate it once again.  As a nation, we have faced many daunting challenges throughout our history and have overcome them.  We are optimistic about America’s future because throughout her history, the prayers of our people have united and sustained us across impossible odds.

The first presidential call to prayer was issued by George Washington on October 3, 1789. He wrote, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

Since then, there have been over 130 presidential calls to prayer and, in 1952, President Harry Truman signed a law making the National Day of Prayer an annual event. In honor of this day, I, along with Speaker Boehner and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Senator Lankford, led 53 other Members of Congress in writing an open letter on why prayer is an integral aspect of our national heritage. You can see a copy of the letter, here, and read a version published by the National Review, here.

Will you be celebrating National Day of Prayer in some way? Join the conversation happening on my Facebook page and share your thoughts with me.


Posted by Randy | May 05, 2015

When federal agencies propose new regulations, I believe the process should be transparent. The agencies should be required to provide timely, detailed information about how much the proposed rule will cost and what impact it will have on businesses, families, and communities. This helps minimize the risk of unintended consequences.

That is why I am cosponsoring the ALERT Act (H.R. 1759) to make that happen, and prevent new regulations from taking place if federal agencies fail to provide timely information in a transparent fashion. Specifically, the ALERT Act does three things; it:

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

2.  Requires 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.  Prevents new regulations from taking effect unless the required disclosures are made during the 6 months preceding the regulations’ issuance.

Posted by Randy | May 01, 2015

The freedom to peacefully live out our faith is not just part of our heritage as Americans, but a linchpin of our humanity.

In the face of the atrocities being committed against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, it is perhaps more crucial than ever that we refuse to sit idly by in silence. We must stand. We must act. That’s why I cosponsored a bipartisan bill to improve U.S. efforts to protect religious freedom by better training and equipping diplomats to counter extremism, address persecution, mitigate conflict, and assist the Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom to coordinate efforts globally. This bill also reauthorizes the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which passed the House unanimously last year but stalled in the Senate.

This bill requires a training program to be developed for mandatory religious freedom training for all Foreign Service Officers. It states that it should be U.S. policy that violent non-state actors should be eligible for designation as countries of particular concern, and authorizes the President to take specific actions against foreign persons responsible for committing systemic violations of religious freedom or supporting terrorist acts targeting members of religious groups.

I also joined with my colleagues in the House and Senate in a bipartisan letter to President Obama, affirming Congress’ grave concern with ongoing persecution of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, and urging the swift appointment of a Special Envoy.    

Posted by | April 30, 2015
Nearly two years ago, former NSA defense contractor and CIA employee Edward Snowden released classified materials on the NSA’s data collection programs to the media. Since that time, examples of overreach by the NSA have continued to surface, including reports that the Agency violated rules regarding the monitoring of telephone records and misled the court charged with authorizing such surveillance.

Following these revelations, the House Judiciary Committee worked during the last Congress to end the NSA’s bulk collection program by conducting oversight of intelligence-gathering programs and approving bipartisan legislation, which ultimately passed in the House of Representatives. However, the Senate failed to pass legislation on this issue.

This week, the House Judiciary Committee introduced an updated, bipartisan bill that goes even further in strengthening oversight and improving accountability of the intelligence community.  This legislation, which Congressman Forbes is cosponsoring, ends bulk data collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. Additionally, the bill prioritizes transparency and information-sharing with the American people by creating a more robust government reporting system, whereby the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will provide the public with detailed information about how they use these national security authorities. It also provides for national security by enhancing investigations of international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


Question of the WeekDo you support legislation that ends existing bulk collection practices while also protecting U.S. national security?


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


Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | April 30, 2015
Wanted to flag this recent piece I wrote in the Suffolk News-Herald -- thought you might be interested.

Our manufacturing and transportation industries are crucial to lighting up our economy again. As manufacturing grows, it spurs job creation and innovation in other industries through a multiplier effect. One of my priorities in Congress is ensuring these important industries aren’t hamstrung by overly heavy burdens from the federal government, and positioning the Fourth District to continue to grow as a leader in the manufacturing space. This, in turn, fuels our national economy and helps set us up for global competitiveness.

 

​​Port of Virginia Primer
Suffolk News-Herald
By Congressman Randy Forbes
April 11, 2015


67 million tons. That is the total amount of cargo that the Port of Virginia moved in 2014 at a value of roughly $71.4 billion. The incredible thing about those impressive numbers is that they provide only a small glimpse into the value our ports provide the Fourth District, the commonwealth and the country.

Every day, our ports move cargo in and out of Virginia, bringing goods and supplies to shop owners, farmers, manufacturing companies, warehouses, retail stores and more. They allow businesses to meet their growth goals, better serve customers, and move agricultural products.

But how exactly does the Port of Virginia work? And what are its benefits to the commonwealth?

What is the Port of Virginia?

The Port of Virginia is a collection of terminals and logistics operations that receive and transport cargo goods to and from markets around the world. Although the port mainly transfers consumer goods, its deep-water harbor supports the world’s largest naval base and a robust shipbuilding and ship repair industry.

The port is considered Virginia’s gateway to international commerce. Thirty international shipping lines provide direct service to and from Virginia, connecting those shippers’ goods to an interconnected system of highways, railroads, waterways and airways.

Where are Virginia’s ports?

Seven terminals make up the Port of Virginia: Newport News Marine Terminal, Norfolk International Terminal, Virginia International Gateway Terminal, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Port of Richmond, Virginia Inland Port and Craney Island.

These terminals are located at strategic points, with several in and around Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District.

The Port of Virginia is one of the busiest ports on the east coast, processing more than 2.4 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units, which are a standard-size shipping container) in 2014, roughly 13 percent of the East Coast market share, compared to New York City’s 32 percent and Savannah, Ga.’s 18 percent.

What do Virginia’s ports do for our economy?

The port is a major employer and economic driver for the commonwealth. In fiscal year 2013, the Port of Virginia brought in more than $60 billion in revenue to the commonwealth. Additionally, nearly 10 percent of the commonwealth’s total resident workforce is linked to Virginia’s port terminals, and the port has played a key role in attracting more than 700 international companies — and more than $4 billion in international investments — to Virginia.

What makes Virginia’s ports so appealing?

Virginia’s ports are well known to shippers around the world, because Virginia’s centrally located, ice-free harbors are only 18 miles (a 2.5-hour sail) from open sea.

The port also has 50-foot-deep channels, some of the deepest on the East Coast, and is the only East Coast port with authorization to dredge its channels to 55-feet. This puts Hampton Roads at an advantage over other ports, because Virginia is able to receive some of the largest cargo ships in the world, when other ports cannot.

The port is also one of the most technologically advanced in the world, housing one of only two fully-automated terminal facilities in the United States. It can process more than one million TEUs a year.

Where do goods go once they arrive at the Port?

Virginia’s ports are supported by a highly effective inland transportation system, from ground transportation to rail. In 2014, 63 percent of cargo in the port was moved by truck, 33 percent was moved by rail, and 4 percent was moved by barge.

Norfolk Southern and CSX — two of the nation’s biggest railroads — run goods from Virginia’s ports across large swaths of the United States.

What are the major issues facing Virginia’s ports?

Overall, the Port of Virginia is a strong link in Virginia’s economic chain. Recently, the port has seen increased cargo traffic as a result of an improving economy and a West Coast port slowdown that drove traffic to the East Coast.

Today, the port is focused on retaining cargo traffic and making appropriate preparations for increased international shipping, trade, and transport.

Two key elements of this equation are the continuation of dredging efforts to reach a channel depth of 55 feet, maintaining the port’s competitive advantage over other East Coast Ports racing to deepen their own channels, and expanding terminal operations to Craney Island to help meet rising container volumes and consumer demand.

In order for Virginia to stay competitive as an economic hub, the port must continue to innovate and enhance its operations.

Read online, here: http://www.suffolknewsherald.com/2015/04/11/a-port-of-virginia-primer/ 





Posted by Randy | April 30, 2015
Recently, I cosponsored a bill I thought you’d be interested in – the National Blue Alert Act of 2015 (H.R. 1269). This bill would create a national Blue Alert communications network within the Justice Department, tasked with integrating existing and future Blue Alert systems throughout the United States. The legislation would assign an existing DOJ officer to act as the national coordinator of the Blue Alert communications network.

Through the national Blue Alert program, law enforcement agencies, state, and local governments would voluntarily adopt new guidelines and develop protocols and procedures to speed up the apprehension of criminals who 1) have seriously injured or killed law enforcement officers; 2) are wanted in relation to the disappearance of law enforcement officers; 3) have made an imminent and credible threat with the intent to cause serious injury to or death of a law enforcement officer.

Our law enforcement officers and first responders put duty before self, working on the front lines to protect our homes, our communities, our children, and our lives. For that, I am grateful. They protect us; the least we can do is make it a priority to protect them.

As a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, I will continue working to increase public safety and ensure proper protection for our law enforcement officers and first responders.  To continue receiving updates on my work, make sure you are signed up for my email updates, here.
Posted by Randy | April 29, 2015
You may have heard that in January of this year, President Obama issued an Executive Order to expand the definition of a “floodplain” and establish a new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard that must be used for any new construction, development, or substantial improvement to existing structures located in designated floodplain areas. Although the Administration’s proposed Executive Order (EO) is in a public comment period until May 6, I am concerned that the lack of transparency regarding this EO and its implementation will ultimately lead to new, more costly, and burdensome regulations.

Recently, I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the Administration calling for more information regarding the development of this EO and raising concerns that the entire EO itself could be in direct violation of certain safeguards enacted to prevent such an action without proper analysis under the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for FY2015, H.R. 83. This legislation, which the President signed into law, prohibits the Administration from implementing new standards until it has solicited and considered input from governors, mayors, and other stakeholders. To date, though, there has been no public disclosure of the stakeholders who were consulted, the types of alternatives considered, or any type of cost-benefit analysis.

The letter I signed, which you can read here, requests the President to submit this information to Congress as is required under current law.

Transparency and clarity in this process are important. While it is true some regulations are necessary and beneficial, an examination and analyses of these rules is vital to ensuring that the federal government is not overstepping its bounds. I will keep you posted on the Administration’s response.
Posted by Randy | April 29, 2015
Nearly two years ago, former NSA defense contractor and CIA employee Edward Snowden released classified materials on the NSA’s data collection programs to the media. Since that time, examples of overreach by the NSA have continued to surface, including reports that the Agency violated rules regarding the monitoring of telephone records and misled the court charged with authorizing such surveillance.

Following these revelations, the House Judiciary Committee worked during the last Congress to end the NSA’s bulk collection program by conducting oversight of intelligence-gathering programs and approving bipartisan legislation, which ultimately passed in the House of Representatives. However, the Senate failed to pass legislation on this issue.

This week, the House Judiciary Committee introduced an updated, bipartisan bill that goes even further in strengthening oversight and improving accountability of the intelligence community. This legislation, which Congressman Forbes is cosponsoring, ends bulk data collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. Additionally, the bill prioritizes transparency and information-sharing with the American people by creating a more robust government reporting system, whereby the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will provide the public with detailed information about how they use these national security authorities. It also provides for national security by enhancing investigations of international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


Question of the Week: Do you support legislation that ends existing bulk collection practices while also protecting U.S. national security?


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


Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | April 29, 2015
Recently, I cosponsored a bill (H.R. 131) to address the interstate transportation of firearms or ammunition, and strengthen federal protections for law abiding Americans traveling with firearms. This bill has the NRA’s endorsement, and would make it clear that, as long as they comply with the law, American citizens can legally transport firearms across state lines.

I will keep you posted on this bill's progress in the House.

P.S. In case you missed it, I recently sent out a poll regarding legislation allowing concealed carry permit holders to legally bring their firearms into other states with similar laws. 90% of respondents supported the legislation. You can take the poll here, if you haven’t already.