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Posted by Randy | July 24, 2015

Five years after the Administration announced a greater focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the United States still lacks a strategy for confronting China's continuing military and diplomatic  expansion. This week I gave a talk at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on how to respond to China's construction of nearly 2,000 acres of artificial "islands" in the South China Sea, where I discussed the importance of formulating, articulating and implementing a clear strategy for the United States in Asia. You might be interested in this article in Breaking Defense summarizing my speech.

Forbes: White House Has No China Strategy; Here’s Mine
Breaking Defense
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
July 24, 2015 at 1:41 PM

What’s the strategy for coping with what everyone on Capitol Hill and inside the Obama administration agrees is an increasingly assertive China? The White House can’t answer, Rep. Randy Forbes says, “because they don’t have it.” So, it’s fair to ask: what is Forbes’s strategy, then?

The House seapower chairman’s outline for a “winning strategy” boils down to five principles, he told me in an interview:
  1. Have a clear objective: a peaceful and prosperous Pacific where China follows the rule of law and the US works closely with its partners.
  2. Speak truth to Chinese power: Be willing to offend Beijing with frank statements, especially on issues like human rights and Taiwan.
  3. Punish Chinese provocations, for example by un-inviting them from international wargames like RIMPAC if they continue building artificial “islands.”
  4. Strengthen our military presence in the Pacific, especially (but not onlynaval forces.
  5. Communicate our strategy — to the American people so they buy in, to our allies so they’re reassured, and to the Chinese so they’re deterred.
  6. “One of the cornerstones of any strategy is the ability to articulate that strategy,” Forbes told me. “The administration will tell you have they have a strategy, but ask them in any hearing, ask them in any place, to put it on the record… They will not tell you, because they don’t have it.”

“We’ve been trying to encourage them to have an East Asia strategy review,” Forbes added. “We haven’t had one since the ’90s… They’ve refused to do one since they’ve been in office.”

Read the rest of the article here.

I recently  wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on the senseless humiliations the United States places on its longstanding partner Taiwan, all to avoid antagonizing China. Yet China's behavior in the region has only become more opposed to U.S. national interests. See my article here.

Posted by Randy | July 23, 2015
This week, the Cuban embassy was re-opened in Washington, D.C., after being closed for over half a century. The United States also re-opened its embassy in Havana.  Since 1961, the two nations have not had formal diplomatic relations, and the United States has maintained a strict ban on the majority of trade with Cuba as long as the Cuban government continued to resist the establishment of democracy and disregard human rights concerns.

The resumption of diplomatic relations, however, came as a result of President Obama’s announcement last December to begin efforts to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, loosen financial and travel restrictions, and authorize certain commercial sales and exports to Cuba’s growing private sector.

While the Administration has the authority to normalize relations with Cuba, Congress holds the power to lift the over 50-year-old ban on trade between the two countries. Members of Congress who support the Administration contend that it is time to move away from outdated policies of the past. However, many remain concerned that the process to resume diplomatic relations has been premature and rushed, without the necessary reforms on Cuba’s part in return for the concessions made by the United States.

Question of the Week: Do you agree with the Administration’s decision to re-open the embassies, and re-establish diplomatic, economic, and travel ties with Cuba?

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

Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by | July 23, 2015
Wanted to follow up with you and let you know that -- after sending a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), requesting a delay in the enforcement period of the new mortgage disclosure rules set to go into effect on August 1st-- I am now cosponsoring legislation to delay the enforcement of the new rules until January 1st, 2016. Take a look at the bill text, here.

Providing this grace period is a win-win: it gives the mortgage and housing industry the time they need to be able to adapt to the changes and comply with the new rules, and it takes care of customers by helping make sure they’re not caught up in any potential confusion with the new regulations.
Posted by Randy | July 22, 2015
Wanted to follow up and let you know that Chairman Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee – where I serve as a senior member – announced that the Committee is launching an immediate investigation into the practices of Planned Parenthood. The Energy and Commerce Committee announced that they will also be launching an investigation. You can read a copy of the letter I joined my colleagues in sending, urging Committee leadership for swift and thorough action, here.

I will keep you updated as the investigations get underway.
Posted by Randy | July 16, 2015
Recently, a final decision was released in the case involving Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, Oregon, who declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, stating that participating in the wedding by baking the cake would have violated their personal religious beliefs. In response, the couple filed a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries for refusal of services.

On July 2, 2015, the Oregon Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries released the Final Order on the case, ordering the bakery owners to pay a fine of $135,000 in damages to the couple for “emotional suffering.” According to the order, the bakery owners were fined due to the fact that they 1) declined to participate in the same-sex commitment ceremony by providing a wedding cake and 2) allegedly stated their intent to refuse similar requests in the future. In addition to the fine, the decision also banned the bakery from publishing, “any communication … to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused … any person on account of sexual orientation."

Supporters of this decision in the bakery owners’ case contend that the bakery owners should be required to participate in the same-sex couple’s ceremony, regardless of their religious convictions. Opponents of the decision, on the other hand, argue that the government should not force people to participate in events that violate their beliefs.

Question of the Week: Do you agree with the decision to fine the Oregon bakery owners?

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

Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | July 15, 2015
I debated whether or not to share this content because the information is so graphic and disturbing. But I believe it is crucial that Americans are aware that this is happening, and that their taxpayer dollars go to fund this organization. You may have seen it on your Facebook page or on the news already, but at your discretion, click here to view a recently released undercover video of the Senior Director of Medical Research for Planned Parenthood discussing the transfer of aborted babies’ body parts for research.

I have no words to fully describe the content of this video. It’s sickening to me to think this is happening in our country, on our watch. I’m working with my colleagues in Congress to call for an immediate investigation – I will keep you posted.

Also, I am proud to be a cosponsor of the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which prohibits family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions. Take a look at the bill text, here.
Posted by Randy | July 09, 2015
Last week, a young woman was gunned down along the San Francisco waterfront in what police say appears to be a random act of violence. Now, it is being reported that the accused gunman in the shooting is an illegal immigrant who is a repeat felon and has been deported five times to Mexico, according to immigration officials. This news has reignited the national debate over the criminal illegal immigrants who are here in the United States, and the effectiveness of the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s related policies.

According to information provided to the House Judiciary Committee, 30,558 criminal illegal immigrants were released by ICE during Fiscal Year 2014 alone. The number of criminal convictions is even higher, totaling over 79,000, according to the same information. ICE has been unable to confirm to the House Judiciary Committee that it has a process for determining whether or not these illegal immigrants are members of criminal gangs.  Even more troubling, is whether ICE is even asking these individuals about criminal gang activity before they are being released. Watch Congressman Forbes’ questioning of the Director of ICE, Sarah Saldana as she testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on this issue.

Last Congress, Congressman Forbes introduced legislation to immediately deport any illegal immigrant who is a member of a violent criminal gang. The language was incorporated into a larger bill this year addressing interior enforcement of immigration laws, H.R. 1148, and has been passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.

Question of the Week: Do you believe ICE's policies towards releasing criminal illegal immigrants need to be reformed?

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

Take the Poll here

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here
Posted by Randy | July 09, 2015
When was the last time you heard a good review about the customer service from the IRS? I suspect many Americans would say good customer service and the IRS is about as much of an oxymoron as efficiency and the DMV.

It shouldn’t be that way. That is why I joined my colleagues in Congress in sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Lew expressing strong concerns -- and echoing what we are hearing from constituents in our districts -- about the lack of quality and care from the IRS.  Taxpayer wait times and high dropped call rates are unacceptable.  That is why we are calling for an IRS performance review so we can identify the root cause and evaluate how to best solve this problem. The IRS must be held to a higher standard. American taxpayers deserve better.

Take a look at some of the bills I supported recently to increase accountability at the IRS, cut back on bureaucracy, and ensure taxpayers’ privacy is protected, here.
Posted by Randy | July 08, 2015

Wanted to update you briefly on some legislation that I thought you would be interested in. These bills, which recently passed the House or are scheduled to be voted on soon, help ensure our healthcare system is putting patients first and ensuring they get the quality care they need:

  • Protecting life-saving devices. The Protect Medical Innovation Act, H.R. 160, will repeal the 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers that has been criticized for eliminating jobs and reducing investment in research, including those crucial to the lives of seniors.
  • Defending access to Medicare. This bill, H.R. 1190, which passed the House, repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) comprised of 15 presidentially appointed government bureaucrats tasked with cutting Medicare costs through cuts to providers, limiting access to care for seniors. 
  • Ensuring access to quality, low-cost prescription drug plans.  I supported the Increasing Regulatory Fairness Act, H.R. 2507, to alter the annual payment adjustment schedule for Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans so that plan sponsors and seniors have appropriate time to review any rate changes and provide feedback.
  • Promoting better health outcomes. I voted for the Strengthening Medicare Advantage through Innovation and Transparency for Seniors Act, H.R. 2570, which establishes a pilot program to determine how a reduction in high-value prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries can increase utilization and improve patient outcomes.
Seniors are more than just a group of people. They are our mothers, fathers, pastors, teachers, and mentors.  They have done so much for us, the least we can do is ensure they have access to quality care that is actually affordable and tailored to their unique needs.
Posted by Randy | July 08, 2015
Prioritizing medical research with proven clinical success for patients should be a no-brainer.

That is why I recently introduced the Patients First Act, which makes research that uses ethically obtained adult stem cells to treat and cure diseases afflicting many Americans a top priority. In recent years, incredible progress has been made in adult stem cell research, including the treatment of diseases such as spinal cord injury, breast cancer, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. These advances are clear evidence that stem cells can provide benefits to patients, while being ethically obtained. Importantly, this bill does not authorize any more funding – instead, it focuses existing funds on projects that prove to have the greatest benefits in treating patients.

Our message to our country needs to be crystal clear: patients come before politics. Prioritizing adult stem cell research that has the greatest potential for near-term clinical benefits is a move that makes sense for all Americans. Let’s put our patients first.