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Posted by Randy | January 12, 2015
This week, following the horrific acts of terrorism that rocked France last week, leaders from around the world gathered at a Unity Rally in Paris, France, to express solidarity in the fight against the growing threat of terrorism. Approximately 1.5 million people, including over 40 world leaders, ranging from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, joined the march this past Sunday.
Attorney General Eric Holder was present in Paris over the weekend for counter-terrorism discussions. He did not, however, attend the rally. Instead, the most visible American official present at the march was U.S. Ambassador to France, Jane Hartley. In response, the Administration has faced heavy criticism over the decision not to send a senior official to Sunday’s rally.
In a press briefing today, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that the absence was due to security concerns, as well as the fact that the White House did not want President Obama’s presence to disrupt the gathering. He added, though, that, “I think it’s fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there.”

Question of the week:  Should the United States have had a higher level of representation at Sunday’s Paris rally for unity?

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

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | January 10, 2015
As we look forward to 2015 and the opportunity that a new Congress brings, I wanted to update you briefly on some of the ways I have been working this past year to protect family values and our religious freedom:
  • Worked to defend religious freedom in the military. This year, I was able to lead Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus in successfully working with the Air Force to strengthen religious protections for Airmen by actively advocating for a change in Air Force regulations governing religious expression. By placing a disproportionate emphasis on religious neutrality, the old language was inconsistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and with the conscience protections for servicemembers and chaplains that were passed by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Air Force has released a revised version of the religious expression language, which is a significant improvement and now references well-established standards for religious freedom found in the First Amendment and in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
  • Advocated for public prayer. After the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the highly inclusive practice of public prayer before meetings in the town of Greece, New York, I, along with Rep. Scalise, led 85 Members of Congress in an amicus curiae brief supporting the town’s tradition of prayer before meetings. On May 5, 2014, the Court issued a landmark decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, stating, “These ceremonial prayers strive for the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance and devotion. Even those who disagree as to religious doctrine may find common ground in the desire to show respect for the divine in all aspects of their lives and being. Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs, can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith.”
  • Worked to promote family values, traditional marriage, and the protection of life. Family is the most basic, foundational unit of society.  Throughout my time in Congress, I have continued to be a staunch supporter of legislation to strengthen families and to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us.  In the 113th Congress, some of the many initiatives I supported include:

·         No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7). This bill would establish a government-wide, permanent prohibition on the funding of abortion and passed the House on January 28, 2014 by a vote of 227 to 188.

·         Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act ​(H.R. 1797). This bill would prohibit abortions nationwide on unborn children that are beyond twenty weeks gestation on the basis that children at this stage of development can feel pain and passed the House on June 18, 2013 by a vote of 228 to 196.

·         State Marriage Defense Act (H.R. 3829). The Supreme Court has left the definition of marriage to the states, and this bill would require the federal government to respect each state’s definition of marriage when applying federal laws and regulations. 

·         Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 5285). This bill would ensure that all child welfare service providers have the equal opportunity to serve children and families by prohibiting discrimination by the government against any provider because of the organization’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.

·         Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940). This bill, which includes the full text of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), would ensure that religious organizations, private businesses, institutions of higher education, health care providers, and insurance companies are not required to sponsor insurance coverage that violates their moral or religious beliefs.

·         Parental Rights Amendment (H.J.Res. 50). This bill would amend the Constitution to protect a parent’s fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children.

  • Relentlessly advocated for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini. I repeatedly advocated for Pastor Abedini’s release, and joined Members of the House and Senate in calling for Saeed’s release on the two year anniversary of his unjust imprisonment.  It is essential that the American people know their country will defend fundamental human rights, and we must continue to be vocal in demanding Pastor Abedini’s immediate release.
  • Continued to defend expressions of religion in the public square.  I lead Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus in filing an amicus curiae brief defending the inclusion of our national motto, “In God We Trust,” on U.S. currency.  The case was dismissed by a federal district court in September, 2013—a decision which was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in May, 2014. Additionally, I joined an amicus curiae brief defending the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.  On May 9, 2014, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the constitutionality of the phrase. We also worked to defend war memorials featuring crosses or other religious symbols.

Looking towards 2015, it is my hope that we will be able to accomplish even greater things for the cause of religious freedom in this country. I will keep you posted along the way.

Posted by Randy | January 09, 2015

In 2015, I have no higher priority than continuing my fight to support our men and women in uniform, and to protect our national security. It’s not just a duty, it’s an honor.

Supporting our American heroes once they return home isn’t optional – it is this nation’s moral obligation. That’s why I’m pleased the House passed Hire More Heroes Act (H.R. 22) this week, with my support, and it’s now heading over to the Senate for consideration.
Posted by Randy | December 23, 2014
On November 24, 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced cyber attacks by a hacker group under the moniker, "Guardians of Peace." The attacks were in conjunction with the scheduled release of the film, "The Interview," which portrays the assassination of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. On December 17th, the FBI announced that it had, "enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions." Sony Pictures ultimately decided to cancel the release of "The Interview," with the stated reason being that individual theaters had refused to show the film.

In an interview this past Sunday, President Obama stated that he does not view North Korea's hack of Sony Pictures "an act of war" but rather an act of “cyber-vandalism.” Additionally, the President said that the U.S. will review whether to put North Korea back on a list of states that sponsor terrorism, and stuck by his criticism of Sony's decision to cancel its plans to release the movie, "The Interview."

Question of the week:  Do you agree with Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of the movie "The Interview" after cyber threats?

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

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy Forbes | December 18, 2014
For over half a century, the United States has maintained a strict ban on the majority of trade with Cuba. The ban originated during the 1959 Cuban Revolution, as a U.S. response to the Cuban government’s takeover of privately owned American businesses.  Since that time, the United States has upheld the ban as long as the Cuban government continued to resist the establishment of a democracy and neglect human rights.

The United States has not had formal diplomatic relations with Cuba since 1961; however, that changed yesterday when President Obama announced the release of American citizen, Alan Gross, who was arrested for trying to increase Internet access in small communities across Cuba and was imprisoned there for 5 years; as well as the release of three Cubans who were part of the “Cuban Five” and imprisoned in Florida for 15 years on spying charges.

The President’s announcement is part of his plan to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States, and will also include reviewing the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, easing financial restrictions, easing travel restrictions, and beginning the effort to lift the 54-year-old ban on trade between the two countries. Additionally, the United States will begin looking to establish an embassy in Havana in the coming months.  In return, Cuba also agreed to allow greater Internet access for its citizens and easier telecommunications with the United States.

Question of the week:  Do you support the President’s announcement to reestablish diplomatic, economic, and travel ties with Cuba?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other. Share your thoughts on my blog here.

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | December 10, 2014
Wanted to let you know that I just cosponsored a new anti-amnesty amendment to prevent funding to implement the Administration’s executive amnesty.  The amendment was filed with the House Rules Committee this morning, as they meet to discuss the spending bill for the federal government. 

It is crucial that Congress uses all tools available to rein in the President’s overreach, and uphold the rule of law. Giving the power of the purse to Congress was not an accident, and it is time the Administration understands that adhering to the Constitution is not optional.

Read more about my ongoing fight to oppose amnesty, secure the border, and enforce our current laws, here >>>

Posted by Randy | December 08, 2014
There was a time, not too long ago, when most everything we bought was made in factories here in the United States.  Our manufacturing industry was robust and thriving. It employed our families, our friends, and our neighbors, and produced just about everything we needed. Then U.S. manufacturing began to change, as overseas manufacturing became a cheaper option and burdensome regulations began to choke out our competitiveness and innovation.

In 1985, President Reagan proclaimed that December is “Made in America” Month. This year, I propose that we use this month as a time to refocus on what we need to do to revitalize and reinvigorate our manufacturing sector. The industry is ripe for global competitiveness, as well as national innovation and job creation. We need to take advantage of that potential by reducing unnecessary, unreasonable regulations, lowering tax burdens, and creating a national manufacturing strategy.  Instead of acting as a barrier, the government needs to be doing its very best to enable growth and competitiveness in this crucial component of our economy.

During “Made in America” Month, I would also like to say thank you to all who work in manufacturing, for helping to make the USA strong. You are part of the backbone of our economy, and your industry is responsible for employing thousands of people in steady, good paying jobs. You represent what America is all about: innovation, resourcefulness, growth, and hard work.

Keep up the good work, and know that I am fighting to support you.

This summer, I conducted a manufacturing tour around the 4th District of Virginia to visit various manufacturing sites and hear firsthand from employees and industry leaders what they needed in order to grow, create jobs, and expand opportunities. Learn more about my tour and my work on behalf of American manufacturing, here.
Posted by Randy | December 07, 2014

73 years ago on this day, approximately 2,000 Americans were killed and over 1,000 injured in the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

We will never forget that day. We will never forget the loss of those lives – the loss suffered by the heartbroken families, and the loss suffered by our nation as it missed the good that these patriotic, duty-driven servicemembers would have brought to our country. No matter how many years pass by, we will always remember and we will always be grateful for those who fought to protect our country,sacrificing so much that we might be here today.

This weekend, take a moment to pause and pay tribute to those who dedicate their lives to serving our country. Let us remember Pearl Harbor.

If you have worn our nation’s uniform, or have a family member who has served, I want to say a special thank you. Our country can never repay you for your service or sacrifice. We cannot repay you for the months spent far from home and far from loved ones, for the time and energy invested in protecting this nation. But we are grateful. And we will never forget. Fighting for you in Congress is not just a duty, it is a privilege.

Posted by Randy | December 05, 2014

I wanted to share with you some good news this week. The Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled to uphold the Day of Prayer, rejecting a legal challenge to the Governor’s right to issue Day of Prayer proclamations.

Our country was founded on the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Little victories like this are how the battle is won.

This year, my friend and Co-Chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Rep Mike McIntyre, and I introduced H.Res. 547, a resolution affirming the National Day of Prayer and the role that prayer has played in our Nation’s history. Keep updated on more of our work, here.

Posted by Randy | December 03, 2014

Tomorrow, the House is expected to vote on the Executive Amnesty Prevention Act (H.R. 5759). This bill, which I am supporting, affirms that, except within strict constitutional limits, the President does not have the authority to exempt whole categories of persons unlawfully present in the U.S. from removal, or defer from removal, from this country. Any executive action to the contrary is a violation of the law and thus has no legal effect.

I also wanted to be sure you saw the Op-Ed that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte published today on why President Obama’s immigration power grab poses a danger to America. Weigh in with your thoughts on my blog.

December 3, 2014

Obama's immigration power grab a danger to America

By Rep. Bob Goodlatte

President Obama recently declared from the White House that he is effectively rewriting our immigration laws on his own terms. Under his sweeping executive edicts, President Obama has proclaimed that five million unlawful immigrants can live and work here legally, redefined who is a priority for immigration enforcement, and gutted the interior enforcement of our immigration laws. These unilateral actions have created an untold number of consequences, affecting our Republic, the American people, legal immigrants, and the integrity of our immigration system.

President Obama’s decision to recklessly forge ahead with a plan to unilaterally change our immigration laws creates a constitutional crisis.

The Constitution clearly states that it’s Congress’ job to write our laws and the President’s duty to enforce them. Moreover, the Constitution says that “the Congress shall have the Power to … establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.”

By allowing five million unlawful immigrants to live and work here through executive action, President Obama ignores the limitations placed on his authority and claims legislative power for himself. These actions threaten to unravel our government’s system of checks and balances and imperil individual liberty.

Many of the president’s actions needlessly endanger our communities. President Obama claims he is taking executive action to prioritize immigration enforcement to focus on criminal aliens, yet the loopholes contained in the Obama administration’s new enforcement priority guidelines ensure that no one is actually a guaranteed priority for removal.

Due to the ambiguous and unworkable language in the administration’s guidelines, criminal aliens such as terrorists, gang members, drug traffickers, drunk drivers, sexual abusers, and other felons could stay here if there are “compelling or exceptional factors” – or in some instances, simply “factors” – warranting their release.

And the recklessness doesn’t just end there. President Obama has scrapped a congressionally-mandated tool that identifies criminal aliens booked in jails across the United States so that federal law enforcement officials can prioritize their removal.

Secure Communities, created in 2008, is a simple and successful program to identify criminal aliens once arrested and jailed. It protects Americans from public safety threats and those who could be a danger to their communities. Instead of continuing to utilize this successful existing system that is required and appropriated by Congress, the Obama administration will implement a new, untested program called the “Priorities Enforcement Program.”

Under the new screening program, the Obama administration ignores some of its own enforcement priorities for the purposes of processing aliens for removal and turns a blind eye to most unlawful immigrants booked in jails across the United States. Additionally, the Obama administration permits sanctuary city policies by effectively leaving states and localities with the choice of whether or not to comply with the federal government’s requests for notification about criminal aliens booked in their jails.

President Obama’s new legalization program for unlawful immigrants also unfairly punishes legal immigrants playing by the rules and seeking to come to the U.S. the right way.

As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services shifts attention and resources to the processing of applications for unlawful immigrants, legal immigrants will face longer wait times for their petitions to be processed. This was true under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed over 600,000 unlawful immigrants to stay here so far.

With over five million unlawful immigrants standing to benefit from President Obama’s new executive decree, legal immigrants will only face longer wait times, even though they’ve already paid the fees to have their applications processed.

Furthermore, President Obama’s actions open the floodgates to another wave of illegal immigration.

In the past, our nation has witnessed the surge in illegal immigration that comes when amnesty is promised and the enforcement of our immigration laws is ignored. This was true after the 1986 immigration overhaul and the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in the summer of 2012, which encouraged hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied minors, family units, and adults to flood our borders.

Ironically, although President Obama has stated in the past that these individuals will be sent home, under his new enforcement priorities, if they came here before January 1, 2014 – which many of them did – they will likely be able to stay.

Additionally, since the Obama administration has not deemed immigration-related crimes a priority for enforcement – such as identity theft, document fraud, and refusing to comply with removal orders – this sends the message that breaking our immigration laws and committing crimes that often follow illegal entry are permissible. Collectively, the president’s actions undermine the integrity of our immigration system.

I, and many other members of Congress, want to reform our nation’s immigration system. But the president’s decision to act on his own and ignore the enforcement of our immigration laws is not the right way to do it.

These unilateral immigration actions are a danger to our Constitution, communities, and immigration system and must be stopped.

The House Judiciary Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over our nation’s immigration laws, will fight President Obama’s unconstitutional actions and will shine light on and correct the Obama administration’s anti-enforcement policies.

Republican Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia's 6th congressional district in the House of Representatives. He is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.