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Posted by Randy | December 30, 2011
In November, the Supreme Court announced it will review the constitutionality of the new health care law. The primary question the justices will consider is whether in requiring most Americans to buy health insurance the law oversteps its power to regulate interstate commerce.

As you may know, earlier this year, I introduced a resolution, H.Res.74, calling for an expedited resolution to lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the health care law. The resolution recognizes the national importance of prompt resolution in order to provide certainty for employers, individuals, healthcare providers, and state and local governments.

In addition to that legislation, I have recently cosponsored another resolution, H.Res. 475, that expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

You can read about my continued work to repeal, replace, and defund the healthcare law here.
Posted by Randy | December 29, 2011
Millions of Americans across the nation take advantage of the child tax credit. And it stands now, millions of undocumented workers are currently able to take advantage of this credit too. Under current law, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows individuals filing with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to access the child tax credit, allowing those in the country illegally to receive the credits.

An audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that illegal workers collected $4.2 billion in the tax credit known as the Additional Child Tax Credit, a refundable credit meant for authorized working families. The inspector general's office said 2.3 million undocumented filers claimed the credit in 2010, adding up to $4.2 billion worth of refunds.  

This tax loophole is fundamentally unfair to those workers who are authorized to work in the United States, and closing the loophole will save American taxpayers billions of dollars.

I have cosponsored legislation, the Child Tax Credit Integrity Preservation Act of 2011, H.R. 3444, to require tax filers to provide a valid Social Security number to claim tax credits, such as child tax credits, when filing their tax returns.  This bill would effectively prevent illegal immigrants from claiming tax credits intended for law-abiding American taxpayers. A similar requirement is already in place for the earned income credit.

Read more about the bill here.
Posted by Randy | December 28, 2011
“America’s best days are yet to come,’’ Ronald Reagan often declared.  But in a recent Rasmussen survey just 32 percent of those surveyed shared that sentiment, while 52 percent thought America’s best days were past.  I believe America’s greatest days are ahead of us, but we must realize that the direction of our nation's future lies within our ability to come together and deal with big issues, like providing more Americans jobs, reducing our debt, and maintaining a strong defense.  As Congress concludes 2011 and looks toward a new year, I'd like to hear your thoughts on what public policy initiatives would make you more optimistic about our country’s future.

Question of the Week:
What policy changes would make you more optimistic about our country’s future?

Learn about my work on these issues by clicking the following hyperlinks: Job creation, Deficit reduction, A simpler, fairer tax code, A strong defense, Improvements to transportation and infrastructure, and Increased energy independence.

(  ) Job creation
(  ) Deficit reduction
(  ) A simpler, fairer tax code
(  ) A strong defense
(  ) Improvements to transportation and infrastructure
(  ) Increased energy independence
(  ) Other (share your thoughts below)

Take the poll here.
Posted by Randy | December 27, 2011
Earlier this month, I supported a bill to terminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and the Election Assistance Commission and use those funds to pay down the deficit.

Current law allows taxpayers to designate $3 on their federal tax return to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, which provides matching funds to candidates. However, since 2000, major party candidates have chosen to forgo public financing during the primary and general campaign cycles, making the fund unnecessary.

At a time of record national debt, we must be looking to cut those programs that are outdated and wasteful. The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established to update and modernize the voting process. The House Administration Committee, in its report on an earlier bill to eliminate EAC, indicated that it has fulfilled its mission of administrating funds and conducting research as mandated by current law. The Committee also stated that the EAC has overhead costs exceeding its budget and that it has a history of "poor financial and managerial decisions," including claims of employment discrimination based on military service and political affiliation.  It is estimated that terminating the EAC would save $14 million a year.   

This bill passed the House by a vote of 235-190 and will now be sent to the Senate. Read more about the legislation here.
Posted by Randy | December 23, 2011
Over the past several years, we’ve seen a push to remove or dilute symbols and traditions of Christmas that many Americans look towards in celebrating the season. There have been efforts to call Christmas trees “holiday trees.” There has been a prohibition on religious Christmas decorations in a South Carolina cancer center and in schools. And it seems every year we hear of challenges to public nativity scenes in cities across the country.

However, the First Amendment does not require bans on religious references to Christmas, and supports the use of these symbols by those who celebrate Christmas.

I've cosponsored H.Res.489, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those that celebrate Christmas. Specifically it,

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;
(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and
(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.

This Christmas, may your family find joy in displaying the symbols and traditions that you have come to know and look towards.
Posted by Randy | December 22, 2011
The House voted on Tuesday to go to conference to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate proposals to extend the payroll tax break, unemployment benefits and avert a 27% cut in Medicare physician payments.  Extending the payroll tax cut for a full year ensures that taxes will not increase for the nearly 170 million Americans who pay payroll taxes, with the average working family saving $1,000 in 2012.  The House's measure would extend these benefits for a full year while the Senate's plan would only provide a two-month extension.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that the Senate will not return to negotiate a final agreement with the House while thousands of businesses across the country have expressed concern that a short-term extension would cause significant logistical and accounting difficulties for employers.  Without further action by the Senate, the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits will expire at the end of the calendar year and the 27% cut in Medicare physician payments will go into effect.

Question of the Week: Do you support legislation that provides for a full year extension of the payroll tax break and unemployment benefits and averts a 27% cut in Medicare physician payments?

(  ) Yes, I support a full year extension.
(  ) No, I do not support a full year extension.
(  ) Other (share your thoughts below).
(  ) I am unsure.

Take the poll here.

Congressman Forbes' statement in support of a full year payroll tax cut extension is available here.

Find the results of last week's instaPoll here.
Posted by Randy | December 22, 2011
The Supreme Court has released its oral argument schedule for the challenges against the health care law. The Court announced it will hear arguments March 26 - 28. As you probably know, the Court will decide whether the "individual mandate" included in the health care law, which requires Americans to buy health insurance, is an improper exercise of federal constitutional authority.

Joining in the challenge are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

With this argument schedule, the Court will have plenty of time to issue a decision by the end of its term in late June or early July.

Read about my work to repeal and replace the job-destroying health care law and curtail massive spending related to implementing the health care law here
Posted by Randy Forbes | December 20, 2011
What does the death of North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il mean for North Korea, China and the surrounding region? In addition to potentially bringing a dangerous period of transition for northeast Asia as his youngest son takes the reins, an article in the Wall Street Journal points out that China “has long worried that a collapse of the regime in Pyongyang could bring South Korean and U.S. troops perilously close to its border.”

Here are three news articles from the Wall Street Journal that discuss the impact of the North Korean leader’s death, particularly as it relates to China and the surrounding region.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il is Dead

Pyongyang's Uncertainty Hangs Over Region

China Reactions to Kim Jong Il's Death
Posted by Randy | December 20, 2011
A critical component of good lawmaking is the ability to get input from those we represent and give citizens a chance to see the bill rather than limiting them to empty concepts that fit well into a sound-bite.  In the new year, constituents in Virginia's Fourth District and citizens across the nation will have a powerful tool at their hands that will provide an opportunity for you to read legislative information, increase feedback, and help improve the legislative process.

The Committee on House Administration last week adopted new standards that will require all House legislative documents to be published electronically in an open, searchable format on one centralized website. This includes all bills, resolutions, amendments, and conference reports to be considered by the House, as well as votes, meeting notices, and other committee documents. Providing access to this legislative information through a central website will expand and improve public access to the legislative process.

I have long-called for this level of transparency so that those being impacted by the legislation have an opportunity to review it and offer input to their elected officials before it is voted on.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of this site and share the resource as soon as it comes available.
Posted by Randy | December 13, 2011
The Wall Street Journal reports  today that U.S. intelligence agencies have identified many of the Chinese groups that are responsible for cyberspying in the U.S., including groups  connected to China's People's Liberation Army and other non-military groups. 

The article notes that "the National Security Agency has determined the identities of individuals working in these groups, which is a critical development that provides the U.S. the option of confronting the Chinese government more directly about the activity or responding with a counterattack, according to former officials briefed on the effort.”

Read the full article here.

A separate piece in the New York Times this weekend detailed how Chinese spies have infiltrated and undermined the U.S. government over the last 15-20 years, asserting that our intelligence agencies must "rethink their priorities and shift their focus, resources and energy eastward to counter China’s spies.  If not, more secrets like the W-88 nuclear warhead will continue to find their way to Beijing.”

Weigh in with your thoughts on these articles. How do you think Washington's priorities must shift to address China's cyberspying efforts?