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Posted by Randy | September 12, 2015
Often it seems I wake up with a heavy heart these days, as I’m sure much of America does.

One day it’s the horrifying news flashing across our TV screens that a young reporter and her cameraman in Virginia were gunned down on live television. Another day it's graphic images of the persecution faced by people of faith in the Middle East. Or disturbing videos of precious life being treated with such callousness and brutality that it is almost too sickening to watch.

These events are calls to action, unequivocally. They also cause us to grieve. And, in our grief, we are reminded today to live life a little more kindly, more intentionally, and to hold loved ones a little closer. The fragility of life is very real – as is the darkness and evil around us. The gift of life itself should never be taken for granted, nor should the freedom that allows us to follow our consciences and shape our own destinies ever be something we enjoy without gratitude. Let us treasure our families and loved ones. Let us stand for life. Let us never stop fighting to protect those freedoms.
Posted by Randy | September 11, 2015
Today, we pause and remember. We relive the day that is seared into our nation’s memory – mourning the innocent lives lost, honoring the sacrifices made, the raw courage, and quiet heroism displayed. We draw together. We pray.

We remember why this nation is great and that freedom has a price. We will never forget. 

United we stand.
Posted by Randy | September 11, 2015

I just wanted to say a special thank you today to all of the firefighters, first responders, and law enforcement professionals who serve our communities. On this day, and every day, we remember your sacrifices. We honor your service. You are true American heroes. We are grateful.

Posted by Randy | September 11, 2015
Recently, Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, sought an accommodation in issuing marriage licenses bearing her name on the grounds of her religious convictions. This request came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges required all states to recognize same-sex marriages – overruling the marriage laws of Kentucky and over 30 other states. A complaint was filed against Kim Davis by a same-sex couple seeking to obtain a marriage license from their county. After Davis refused to sign the marriage license, the judge found her in contempt of court and ordered her to jail where she remained for six days.  In a statement, Davis wrote, “to issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.”

Liberty Counsel, the organization providing representation for Davis, cited the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act as her defense. This statute prohibits the state government from substantially burdening an individual’s freedom of religion unless the government both proves it has a compelling interest in doing so, and has used the least restrictive means to do it.

Our nation has a long history of protecting religious freedom for individuals of all faiths by balancing workplace accommodations with the needs and interests of employers. This case has raised a national debate over whether or not the United States, as a free and constitutionally-governed nation, will require those with religious objections to disqualify themselves from certain jobs and public service opportunities, or whether options should be provided that support the rights and beliefs of all Americans.

Question of the Week: In light of Kim Davis’ case, which comes closest to your view?

(  ) A government employee should be able to seek reasonable accommodations at work for their sincere religious beliefs that balance rule of law and First Amendment protections.
(  ) A government employee should be required to perform all aspects of the job without accommodation, or else seek other employment.
(  ) I don’t know.
(  ) Other.

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | September 10, 2015
It’s #ThrowbackThursday -- how about a throwback to the time I questioned the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), during a Judiciary hearing and he was unable to confirm the number of criminal illegal immigrants with gang affiliations who are deported, the number of criminal illegal immigrants with gang affiliations who are released, or even explain the process for determining if any of these illegal immigrants are members of criminal gangs?

Or, what about the time I questioned the Director of ICE, Sarah Saldana, and she could not even tell me whether or not the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is asking illegal immigrants about their criminal gang activity before these immigrants are being released?

The fact that the head of DHS and the Director of ICE are unable to answer these questions is beyond staggering -- it’s dangerous. Membership alone in a violent criminal gang must be grounds for deportation and inadmissibility into this country – and asking about criminal gang activity before release should be common sense.  That’s why I wrote language in this year’s immigration enforcement bill (H.R. 1148) to immediately deport ANY illegal alien in our nation who is a member of a violent criminal gang.

The bill has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee and now awaits consideration before the full House of Representatives.

Recently, the House passed a bipartisan bill – with my support -- to cut off certain federal funding grants for “sanctuary cities” who do not comply with current federal immigration laws.  Enforcing the laws we already have on the books should be a no-brainer. Take a look at the bill text, here
Posted by Randy | September 10, 2015
Wanted to pass along this clip from the first House Judiciary Committee hearing on Planned Parenthood yesterday: www.youtube.com/Randy-Planned-Parenthood. What we see and hear is happening is so sickeningly brutal and inhumane that it’s hard for me to believe some argue otherwise.

However, to a broader point: even those with opinions ranging across the spectrum should be able to agree that taxpayer dollars should not continue to be funneled towards an organization that operates in a way so many Americans find horrific and morally reprehensible.

This is not a question of whether Planned Parenthood should or should not exist, or whether Americans should be able to continue to choose to utilize their services. This is a question over whether the federal government should be funding this organization with your taxpayer dollars. I strongly believe the answer to that question is “no.”

I am cosponsoring both a one year moratorium on Planned Parenthood funding, as well as a permanent funding ban for Planned Parenthood. I am also involved, as a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, in the Committee’s investigation into the allegations against Planned Parenthood – I will keep you posted. 
Posted by Randy | September 08, 2015

This past month, during the August District working session, I had the oppurtunity to visit with many employers, local leaders, neighbors, one of my high school mentors, and many others around the Fourth District.

Conversation after conversation, I was reminded that one of my favorite things about being able to serve in the House of Representative is just that -- serving you. The mother with two children in the Armed Forces, who feels a little bit like she’s holding her breath every time they leave until they are safely home. The small business owner, who’s fighting to provide for their family while turning a dream into reality. The farmer, who’s land has been in his family for four generations, and whose granddaughter likes to take a ride on the tractor with him on Saturday afternoons.  The student excelling in her STEM classes, with big dreams of being an engineer one day. You. You represent, to me, the best of America, and it’s an honor to be able to represent you in Congress.

In case you haven’t been keeping up on my Facebook page, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite moments from my time with you in the 4th District last month.

Eva Scott is the first woman elected to the Senate of Virginia. She was born in Amelia Country and has lived there nearly all her life. Eva won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1971 and served four consecutive two-year terms before running for the Senate in 1979. Eva is an outstanding role model and was a trailblazer for women in Virginia – as well as a wife, mother of five, and business owner.

Did you know Amazon has two fulfillment centers in Virginia's 4th district? There’s one in Chesterfield and one in Dinwiddie.  I appreciate Amazon's commitment to hiring veterans and was pleased to meet several of them while visiting the center in Dinwiddie County.  I also appreciate the relationship Amazon and Fort Lee, the logistics leaders in retailing and the U.S. Army, have forged to better serve our country.

Sat down with Fort Lee Commander Major General Williams and his leadership team to discuss several issues critical to our overall military readiness, including the impact of sequestration. Thankful for MG Williams’ leadership and for all those serving in our Armed Forces.

Attending the annual Dinwiddie County Farm Bureau Legislative Appreciation Cookout is always one of my favorite events of the year. Not only is it a great opportunity to meet with members of the agricultural community from around the district and Virginia, but it is also a good time to catch up with other state and local elected officials.

It was great to meet and spend time with the Dinwiddie County High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) leadership team. Loved hearing all their ideas on how to raise awareness of the importance of farming to our Commonwealth and the country. The future of farming looks bright when we have young leaders like these.

Participating in the keel laying ceremony for the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) was a special moment. She will reflect the pride of those who build her, the courage of those who sail her, and the strength of the world’s greatest military.

I met with a great group of people in Greensville County.  For 31 years, County Administrator Dave Whittington has assembled teams of dedicated people focused on serving county residents.  Like many I have spoken to recently, they are concerned about the long term impacts of sequestration, the security of our country and world, and the future our nation.

For 28 years, Jean Barker (pictured right) has served on the Wakefield Town Council. Her longevity is a testament to her love for and dedication to her community.  Thankful for Jean’s service and many contributions to the quality of life in Wakefield, Sussex County, and the 4th District.

Enjoyed visiting Virginia Beach based London Bridge Trading, which is an American manufacturer of tactical equipment, apparel, and materials that support the warfighter and America’s law enforcement community.  Ensuring that these dedicated service members train and fight with superior gear is vital to our security both here at home and around the world.

Always appreciate the opportunity to attend and talk with the good people of The Chesapeake Rotary Club. Through its many service programs like the Chesapeake Wine Festival, Paint Your Heart Out, and Coats for Kids, the Chesapeake Rotary members are hard at work to enhance the quality of life in the community by helping those most in need. Their selfless approach to giving back to their community and the many other charitable organizations in the City are part of what makes Chesapeake a great place to live.

To finish on a personal note, Harry Blevins was one of the most influential men in my life growing up. He was my high school principal, and later became my friend and fellow public servant. It was very special to be present when he was recently recognized by the Chesapeake Rotary for his lifetime of public and community service. Harry had a tremendous impact on my life when I was a student and I am forever grateful for his guidance.  Thank you, Harry, for being a role model to me and so many others, for your dedication to students and teachers, for your love for your family, and for your outstanding service to education, our community, and our state.

It’s time to head back to Washington now, and I look forward to bringing all of your feedback and ideas to this next session of Congress. You can continue keep up with me on my Facebook page or Instagram account (@randy_forbes) for more behind the scenes shots of my work in Congress. Don’t forget to leave me a comment with your thoughts or feedback – I love hearing from you.

Posted by Randy | September 04, 2015
Recently, Iran and a U.S.-led coalition of six nations reached a nuclear agreement after years of negotiations. The deal lifts stringent U.S. economic sanctions currently in place on Iran in exchange for certain concessions over Iran’s development of nuclear capabilities. Currently, Congress has until September 17th to vote over whether or not it will lift Congressional mandated sanctions on Iran.

There are many critics of the agreement, including Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the deal as a “historic mistake” and an existential threat to the nation of Israel. This year, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed both Chambers of Congress to warn about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, contending the deal constitutes a dangerous compromise that risks increasing regional conflicts within the Middle East and empowering greater Iranian aggression towards Israel. He continues to argue that rewarding the terrorist regime in Tehran with hundreds of billions in unfrozen assets will fuel both Iran’s efforts to destroy Israel and Iran’s terrorism worldwide.

The Obama Administration and supporters of the deal, however, insist it will not hamper relations between the United States and Israel, and instead will effectively provide oversight of Iranian nuclear research facilities and building capabilities.  This is despite the fact that recent reports suggest the IAEA made their own secret agreement with the Iranian government, authorizing Iran to conduct its own inspections with less IAEA oversight – which critics contend undermines any accountability in the deal.

Question of the Week: Do you believe Israel is put at risk with the Iran nuclear deal?

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

Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | September 04, 2015

22 million. That is the approximate number of people impacted by the recent hack against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which a number of accounts have attributed to the Chinese government. Although this malicious hack has not be formally confirmed to have originated the Chinese government, there is no shortage of evidence that China is actively promoting cyber espionage. And they are not just hacking personal information—they are also suspected of making off with some of our most sensitive military technology and the medical data of millions of Americans.

So far the Administration has pursued at best an incoherent strategy for addressing this growing threat.

As Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, I sent a letter to the President, along with Rep Joe Wilson, Chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee outlining China’s belligerent behavior to the United States and urging him to take decisive action -- in the form of punitive economic sanctions -- to protect the intellectual property and personal data of U.S. based companies, as well as government data and personnel information. It is time to send a clear message to China, and to the world, that state sponsored hacking against the United States will not be tolerated and will have tangible repercussions.

You can read more about our letter in the article below, published in The Hill.


 Lawmakers press Obama to sanction China
The Hill  |  Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) on Thursday called on President Obama to impose economic sanctions on China “to let the world know that state sponsored hacking will have tangible repercussions.”

In a letter to the White House, Wilson and Forbes pointed to mounting evidence of Beijing’s active promotion of cyber espionage, specifically its alleged hack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The congressmen said the White House has pursued an “incoherent deterrent strategy” when it comes to state-backed cyber espionage.

While Obama authorized additional sanctions for certain North Korean officials in response to the attack on Sony Pictures, the representatives said he has taken no such action against the five Chinese military hackers indicted on economic espionage charges in 2014.

Some observers say it’s unlikely the five members of the People’s Liberation Army charged in 2014 will ever see the inside of a U.S. court room, and that the purpose of the indictments was simply to send a diplomatic warning.

“A clear and unwavering line needs to be drawn by your Administration in protecting the intellectual property and personal data of U.S. based companies, as well as government data and personnel information,” Wilson and Forbes wrote.

The representatives’ call comes in the wake of recent White House leaks that revealed the administration is developing possible economic sanctions to use as a tool to deter China cyber spying.

The unnamed White House sources suggested that those sanctions would most likely be targeted at Chinese companies, not Beijing — and that the OPM hack would not be one of the actions subject to sanctions.

Policy experts say there is a critical distinction between hacking for commercial gain and hacking for traditional intelligence purposes. Most reports indicate that the sanctions would address only the former.

The president has been under increasing pressure to take a more offensive stance on cyber espionage where China is concerned, with rhetoric amongst D.C. lawmakers reaching a fever pitch in the wake of the OPM hack.

“One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence,” a White House official told The New York Times in an oft-quoted interview on administration policy. “We need to disrupt and deter what our adversaries are doing in cyberspace, and that means you need a full range of tools to tailor a response.”

“We strongly urge your Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, to apply punitive economic sanctions to entities and individuals conducting cyberattacks to punish and deter such action,” Wilson and Forbes wrote.
Posted by Randy | September 02, 2015

70 years ago on this day, Japan surrendered to the United States and its allies, marking an end to the cataclysm that claimed some 30 million lives across Asia and the Pacific Ocean. Today, we pause to remember the lives lost, the courage and heroism displayed, and the sacrifices made.

In remembrance of this somber anniversary, I joined Rep Mark Takai in sharing a few reflections with the Honolulu Star Advertiser on how and why the War in the Pacific happened, and the worrisome parallels visible in the Asia-Pacific region today. You can read below, and share your thoughts in response on my Facebook page, here.

Reflections on war and peace in the Pacific
Honolulu Star Advertiser 
By U.S. Reps. J. Randy Forbes and Mark Takai
Sunday, Aug 30, 2015

On Sept. 2, 2015, we will gather with veterans, civilians, military dignitaries and our colleagues from Congress to commemorate the end of the Second World War in the Pacific.

The ceremony being held aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii will mark the 70th anniversary of the date on which Japan surrendered to the United States and its allies, bringing to an end a cataclysm that claimed some 30 million lives across Asia and the Pacific Ocean.

The Second World War is a somber subject with a complex legacy, but the end of that terrible conflict is something that everyone -- not just the victorious powers -- should commemorate.

The end of the War in the Pacific was not just a reprieve for the millions of men, women, and children caught up in the conflict. It was also a transformational moment for the Asia-Pacific region.

It did not bring universal peace or freedom, but it did usher in a new and enduring international order. That order, led and defended by the United States and its partners, has enabled many nations in Asia to emerge or reemerge in the decades since 1945 as increasingly free and prosperous states in a relatively peaceful region. Japan -- our former adversary -- now stands as a close U.S. ally and a responsible stakeholder in the international system.

It is fitting, therefore, that we should commemorate the end of the War in the Pacific. But we should also remember how and why that terrible conflict began. Most Americans think of the Pacific War as a 4-year contest that started on Dec. 7, 1941, but Imperial Japan aggressed against its neighbors long before Pearl Harbor.

As in Europe, the road to war in Asia passed what the late historian Mark Peattie called "numerous forks pointing the way toward ... aggression or accommodation, action or inaction." Unfortunately, the United States and the other great powers did too little until it was too late, and, as Peattie tells us, "the failure of the international community to take effective action to prevent aggression and to limit the use of force in a regional conflict ultimately paved the road to a larger war." That lesson was brought home for Americans right where the Missouri is now anchored.

Seven decades later, it is important to remember how and why the War in the Pacific happened and reflect on how it might have been prevented. History does not repeat itself, as the saying goes, but it does rhyme; and worrisome parallels are visible in the Asia-Pacific region today.

Nationalism is on the rise once again, and in China we now see another rising Asian nation rapidly amassing economic and military power and starting to flex its growing muscles. Watching these events unfold, as Princeton's Aaron Friedberg recently observed, "it has become increasingly difficult to escape the conclusion that Beijing's ultimate aim is to displace the United States and resume its traditional position as the preponderant power in Asia."

As the outcome of the war in the Pacific reminds us, the United States and its allies are resilient, although often slow to react. But we should not assume that the post-war international order that we established in the region will endure without continuous American leadership and efforts to shore it up.

The United States should welcome the "peaceful rise of China," but it must also make clear through words and deeds that the use of force and coercion by any country in the Asia-Pacific region will be strongly and resolutely opposed. Skillful diplomacy will be needed to convey our positions, but we must also maintain a balance of hard power that will not allow China to dominate the region or achieve its aims with force and coercion.

As we gather to commemorate the end of one conflict in the Pacific, we should reaffirm our pledge to deter and prevent the outbreak of another.