Randy's Blog

RSS Feed
Posted by Randy | July 14, 2014
According to the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Homeland Security – the third largest federal agency – has failed to properly manage the systems and programs used to secure our borders, protect our shores, and monitor goods coming into the U.S.

The federal government must be accountable to the American people for how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. An oversized, wasteful government is a serious threat to the stability and success of our nation. That’s why I supported the DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act, H.R. 4228, which requires the DHS to streamline its acquisition process and hold its programs accountable.

When it comes to national security, our federal agencies have a responsibility to keep our nation safe from those who would wish us harm, whether they are from within the United States or from other countries seeking to get into our country. However, national security must not come at the cost of the fiscal integrity of our country. 

Posted by Randy | July 14, 2014
I wanted to share with you a new bill I introduced.  The Independent Research and Repurposing Act, H.R.4287, encourages the development of new medical treatments by repurposing existing drugs to address new ailments, conditions, or diseases. 

Drug repurposing research is already underway in many disease areas, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, depression, sleep disorders, and Post-Traumatic Stress. 

Whether it is a servicemember suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress, or a relative recently diagnosed with cancer, discovering treatments and cures for the diseases afflicting many Americans is a priority that transcends politics. Encouraging drug repurposing is a critical avenue for discovering ground-breaking ways to combat - and ultimately cure - these devastating diseases.

I have also introduced the Patients First Act, H.R.1740, to intensify research and human clinical trials using stem cells that are ethically obtained and that show evidence of providing near-term clinical benefit for human patients. This bill recognizes that the twin goals of scientific advancement and the protection of human life are not mutually exclusive; rather, they should be one in the same.
Posted by Randy | July 11, 2014
In 2009, two organizations representing the heads of state education departments and the nation’s governors developed the Common Core State Standards to provide consistent learning goals across states for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

Currently, all but seven states – Virginia, Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Indiana – have adopted the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English.  As an incentive, states that implement the standards have an increased chance of receiving federal grant money.  

The goal of the academic benchmark is a focus on comprehension and critical thinking; however, critics believe that tying tests to these standards will actually harm this goal because teachers will teach to the tests rather than working to ensure their students receive a well-rounded education.

Question of the week:  Do you support the Common Core State Standards or other universal sets of academic benchmarks to measure learning?

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


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | July 11, 2014
Since 1998, the Department of Commerce has exercised control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private, non-profit organization that manages basic functions of the Internet.  Earlier this year, however, the Administration announced its intent to relinquish control of ICANN to the global Internet community. 

In response, I sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Pritzker to request important information about the Department’s plans to relinquish United States oversight of the Internet. It is vitally important that we put policies in place that are in the best interest of the American people - a free Internet is one I will continue fighting to protect. 

During floor consideration of the annual funding bill for the Department of Justice (H.R. 4660), I also supported an amendment to prohibit funding for the transfer of ICANN. The bill passed the House and is now awaiting action in the Senate.
Posted by Randy | July 11, 2014

Friend – Wanted to share this article with you written by Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Bob Goodlatte from Virginia. Chairman Goodlatte recently led a bi-partisan trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to witness firsthand what is happening with the surge of children, teenagers, and families attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.  In the editorial below, Mr. Goodlatte lays out the many tools the President has at his disposal to quell the activity at the border and put an end to this crisis in leadership, crisis in national security, and crisis in common sense.

Bottom-line:
The answers to our problems are not to throw money at it. Billions of taxpayer dollars in additional resources are no substitute for actually enforcing America’s immigration laws and securing our border.


Exclusive – Goodlatte: How Obama Can Stop the Border Crisis

By: Bob Goodlatte
Breitbart
July 10, 2014

There is a surge of unaccompanied children, teenagers, and families from Central America—largely from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—that are arriving in unprecedented numbers in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

They are making a dangerous journey through Mexico and then walking miles across a hostile border environment, assisted by smugglers, and coming to the United States in violation of the law.

This crisis at the border is a disaster of President Obama's own making. The Obama Administration's lax immigration enforcement has given confidence to parents who are in the U.S. illegally that they can stay and now they are finding ways to bring their children, who are still in Central America, to the United States unlawfully.

President Obama's policies have caused the crisis at our southern border and he has tools at his disposal to fix it. Here are several steps the President can take now to stop the surge at the border:

Send the strong, public message that those who enter illegally will be returned. President Obama needs to use his bully-pulpit to send the clear message that those who are seeking to enter the U.S. illegally will be returned to their home countries and that subjecting children to the perilous trek northward to our southern border will no longer be tolerated. Unfortunately, most of the money requested in the President's emergency supplemental seems geared toward processing Central Americans rather than stopping the surge itself. With Obama's current policies, this just means that more illegal border crossers will be eligible to stay in the U.S.

Stop abusing his prosecutorial discretion authority. Over the past five years, President Obama and administration officials have abused "prosecutorial discretion," a tool meant to give the Executive Branch flexibility in individual cases. Instead he has stretched this authority beyond all recognition in order to shield entire categories of deportable aliens from facing the law. This sends the message to the world that if you get into the U.S. illegally, you will not be deported.

Stop releasing convicted criminal aliens from detention. In Fiscal Year 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released over 36,000 criminal aliens from detention who were in removal proceedings or had been ordered removed, in the large majority of cases purely as an act of discretion not compelled by any federal court or immigration judge. These 36,000 criminal aliens had nearly 88,000 convictions, including 193 homicide convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, 9,187 dangerous drug convictions, and 16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions. This sends the message that not even aliens with criminal convictions will be detained.

Crack down on fraudulent asylum claims. The House Judiciary Committee obtained an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report which shows that at least 70% of asylum cases contain proven or possible fraud. The Administration has refused to take steps to stop asylum fraud, which has encouraged more aliens to come to the U.S. and make false claims. Yet the Obama Administration continues to set records for approving claims. In fact, in 2013 under the Obama Administration immigration judges granted 74% of all affirmative asylum claims.

Implement tougher standards for "credible fear" claims. In order to thwart "expedited removal" proceedings, family units caught along the border or at ports of entry often claim a "credible fear" of persecution in their home countries and seek a hearing before an immigration judge (usually years later). While awaiting the hearing, they are released into the U.S. and receive work authorization while their case is pending. The Obama Administration is granting approximately 92% of all "credible fear" cases decided on the merits in Fiscal Year 2013. In fact, credible fear claims have increased 586% from 2007 to 2013 as word has spread about the rubberstamping of applications. The Obama Administration has not effectively curbed "credible fear" abuse, which has dramatically encouraged more illegal border crossings.

Detain asylum seekers until their claims are proved valid. One way to deter fraudulent asylum claims is to detain asylum seekers apprehended at the border while the government determines whether their case is legitimate, rather than releasing them into the U.S. Most non-detained asylum seekers who lose their cases and are ordered back to their home country simply disappear into our communities. This must stop.

Restore agreements with local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws. About 5,000 ICE agents have the duty of enforcing our nation's immigration laws. These agents have to deal with at least 11 million unlawful immigrants in the United States and many thousands of aliens who have committed deportable crimes. We need help. Currently, there are over 730,000 state and local law enforcement officers in the United States. Under current law, DHS is allowed to enter into agreements with states and localities - commonly referred to as the 287(g) program - under which state and local law enforcement officers who have been trained by DHS can assist in the investigation, apprehension and detention of removable aliens. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration effectively killed this commonsense program. The Administration should reverse this foolish decision and allow state and local law enforcement officers to help with enforcing our immigration laws. This would send the message that the United States is serious about enforcing our immigration laws.

Employ diplomatic resources to stop the border crisis. President Obama should exhaust all diplomatic resources to end this crisis. He needs to work with the Mexican government to help secure its southern border with Guatemala and he also needs to work with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to help them dissuade their citizens from making the dangerous journey to the U.S.

Give Border Patrol agents access to federal lands. Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector cite restrictions that bar access to federal lands as a significant stumbling block to securing the border. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture currently have rules that prevent Border Patrol agents from accessing federal lands near the border under the guise of environmental preservation. As a result, federal lands along the border provide drug traffickers, human smugglers, and unlawful immigrants effective routes and hiding places where Border Patrol agents cannot reach them. President Obama should reverse this foolish policy.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/07/10/Goodlatte-How-Obama-Can-Stop-Border-Crisis

Posted by Randy | July 10, 2014
I wanted to share with you an article I read that focuses on students’ relationships with technology.  In today's world, our students’ lives revolve around the computer – studying, perusing social media sites, etc.  However, many students don’t consider computer technology as a career path.  

Over the next ten years, 70% of new jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will be for computing professionals.  I believe that we must encourage students to get involved in STEM at an early age, not only to develop their interest in those subjects, but to allow them to see that what they enjoy doing – like playing on computers – can be what they do for a living.

I supported the Academic Competition Resolution, H. Res.77, to establish an academic competition to spur student interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.  Read more about the competition here.
Posted by Randy | July 02, 2014

I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting two job fairs in Chesapeake and Chesterfield in July and August.  As an employer or business leader, I would appreciate your participation and I am hopeful that these events will provide area businesses, government agencies, and individuals with a mutually beneficial opportunity to find the right job match.
 
I am inviting a variety of government agencies and departments, as well as private sector companies in all areas of business and industry, to participate. Details of the events can be found below:


Chesapeake Job Fair
Monday, July 28, 2014
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Greenbrier Middle School
1016 Greenbrier Parkway, Chesapeake, VA 23320
 
Employer Registration Page:  https://chesapeakeemployers.eventbrite.com
Contact: Curtis Byrd, District Director, Eastern Region, 757-382-0080, Curtis.Byrd@mail.house.gov   

 
Chesterfield Job Fair
Friday, August 8, 2014
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
L.C. Bird High School
10301 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield, VA 23237
                   
Employer Registration Page: http://chesterfieldemployers.eventbrite.com 
Contact: Ronald O. White, District Director, Western Region or Joan Fallon, Senior Constituent Services Representative, 804-318-1363, Ronald.White@mail.house.gov or Joan.Fallon@mail.house.gov  

Thank you for considering participating in this event.  

If you haven’t already, please sign up for my weekly e-mail newsletter.
Posted by Randy | July 01, 2014
In November 2013, the Supreme Court decided to hear the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Store, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, involving two family-owned businesses seeking to operate their companies in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs.

These cases were brought in response to a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Affordable Care Act, known as the HHS mandate, which forced family business owners to choose between their convictions and their businesses by requiring all employee health plans to cover contraceptives that may cause abortions, at no cost to the patient.  The mandate offered a very limited “religious employer exemption,” and as a result, would have forced many religious hospitals, charities, and universities to choose between their faith or face crushing fines under the Affordable Care Act.  Employers who omit just one drug face fines of $36,500 per year per employee, but employers who offer no insurance whatsoever would only be fined $2,000 per employee per year.

This week, the Supreme Court held that the HHS mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law protecting religious freedom that was passed by Congress in 1993 with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Question of the week:  Do you agree with the 5-4 Supreme Court decision that the government cannot force family businesses to provide a service that the owners of a company say violate their religious beliefs?

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


Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | June 30, 2014

Below is a recent article in the Virginian-Pilot that discusses my concerns that U.S. leaders are not speaking openly about the challenge China poses to U.S. security interests. I recently expressed my concerns on this subject in an op-ed entitled “China. There, I Said It. (Part II)”.


                   

Navy should talk openly about China, Forbes says
The Virginian-Pilot
June 28, 2014

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes says Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert was wrong in urging military officers not to speak openly about Chinese military threats during a recent speech.

"If we resign ourselves to a policy of self-censorship about China's assertive actions and growing military power for fear it will antagonize them, we will be granting Beijing a veto over what we can and cannot say," the Chesapeake Republican wrote in a column published Thursday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Forbes, the senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, started the House's China Caucus and has repeatedly warned about the Asian nation's growing military presence.

He was reacting to Greenert's comments June 17 at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island.

When an unidentified officer noted that there was a reluctance to publicly talk about operations, tactics and air strategy in responding to the Chinese military, Greenert agreed.

"If you talk openly, you cross the line and you unnecessarily antagonize diplomatically," he said. "You probably have a sense of how much we trade with that country, right? It's astounding."

The admiral said there are closed-door discussions of how to meet the Chinese threat.

"There are groups up here that do this full time. And they're talking strategies and all that," he said. "People say we need to talk about it more openly... We can't do that... It will unnecessarily muddy waters."

But a lack of open discussion hurts the Navy's argument that it needs a larger 313-ship fleet and new military capabilities, Forbes wrote.

He has said that he believes many in Congress who want to shrink the military do not have a deep understanding of the threats the U.S. faces.

If China wants to be a superpower, Forbes wrote, it has to develop a "thick skin" so that its leaders can respond to criticism "without simply resorting to retaliation."

"I am not implying we need to be abrasive or obstinate in how we discuss this policy issue," he wrote. "Instead, our leaders should speak with clarity when China bullies its neighbors, seeks to unilaterally revise the status quo, challenges freedom of navigation, directs economic espionage, and as it continues to build military capabilities that undermine U.S. security guarantees in the region."

The debate arises as Chinese navy ships are participating for the first time in a joint exercise - called the Rim of the Pacific - off the coast of Hawaii with ships from the U.S. and 20 other nations. Greenert and his wife plan to visit

China next month at the invitation of his counterpart, Adm. Wu Shengli.

Nonetheless, Greenert said, the U.S. is continuing to build its presence in the Pacific and Asia.

Other nations and U.S. trading partners who want to keep maritime shipping lanes open have expressed growing concern with China as its navy moves more aggressively to broaden its influence.

"People ask me: 'What are you going to do about the South China Sea?' " Greenert said. "I say we're going to manage it."

The U.S. has to be clear with the Chinese about the freedom of the seas, he said. "They understand that. They don't like it, but they understand it."

Read the article here: http://hamptonroads.com/2014/06/navy-should-talk-openly-about-china-forbes-says
Posted by Randy | June 27, 2014

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014, H.R. 4457, with my support. This bill makes Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code permanent, providing important tax relief to small U.S. companies. It helps small business streamline records, purchase equipment, and reduce uncertainty for planning. This legislation passed by a vote of 272 – 144.

Bottom-line: It’s simple. Washington needs to get out of the way. We need to eliminate burdensome regulations and reduce the crippling tax load on small businesses so that they have the freedom they need to work, earn, grow, and create jobs.    


Standing up to big government on behalf of small businesses is a duty I take very seriously. Read about my recent work to ease burdens, provide access to capital, and support small business growth, here.