In the News5.15.2014 - Last week in Congress…
3.5.2014 - The “Until Then” Problem
2.11.2014 - Question of the week: Do you support raising the debt ceiling without cutting spending?
12.9.2013 - Governing by Crisis
The Balanced Budget is a Game ChangerSixteen years ago the Balanced Budget Amendment passed the House with bipartisan support, only to lose by one vote in the Senate. Since then, the debt has nearly tripled in size, growing by $9.7 trillion, or around $1.6 billion per day. The Balanced Budget Amendment is a game changer and we cannot afford to put it off any longer.
Approved funding for the Departments of Commerce, Justice and NASA. Congressman Forbes supported the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015, H.R. 4660 ,which provides funding for programs critical to manufacturing, cyber security, violence against women prevention, combating human trafficking, scientific and technical research, critical weather forecasting programs and NASA. The bill also terminates 33 programs saving over $250 million. This bill passed by a vote of 321-87.
Opposed raising the debt ceiling.Congressman Forbes opposed legislation, S.540, to raise the debt ceiling and increase our nation’s borrowing limit until March 15, 2015. This bill passed by a vote of 221-201.
Funded the government for FY14.Congressman Forbes supported the Consolidated Appropriations Act, H.R. 3547, which contains all twelve regular appropriations bills, and funds the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014, through September 30, 2014. This bill passed by a vote of 359-67.
Worked to enhance accountability in federal spending.Congressman Forbes supported the Data Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act, H.R. 2061, to establish an independent body to track federal spending, including grants, contracts, loans and agencies’ internal expenses, on a single electronic platform, making all of the information available to the public. The bill expands the role of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to oversee stimulus spending and help prevent waste, fraud and abuse throughout federal spending. This bill passed by a vote of 388-1.
Opposed raising the debt ceiling. Congressman Forbes supported H.J.Res.99, a resolution to disapprove of increasing the debt ceiling. This resolution of disapproval was provided for under the Continuing Appropriations Act for 2014, which provided government funding through January 15th and suspended the debt ceiling until February 7th. The bill passed the House 292-122.
Ensured that paying our debt remains a priority. Congressman Forbes supported the Full Faith and Credit Act, H.R.807, to direct the United States Treasury, in the event the debt ceiling is reached, to pay the principal and interest due on debt held by the public before making any other payments. The full faith and credit of the United States should not hang in the balance on every adjustment to the national debt limit. This bill passed by a vote of 221-207.
Ensured that paying the national debt remains a priority. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Full Faith and Credit Act, H.R.807, to direct the United States Treasury, in the event the debt ceiling is reached, to pay the principal and interest due on debt held by the public before making any other payments. The full faith and credit of the United States should not hang in the balance on every adjustment to the national debt limit.
Opposed a budget that weakens defense. Congressman Forbes opposed H.Con.Res.25 , setting forth a budget for fiscal year 2014, because it failed to fund our military at an adequate level to provide for the common defense of our Nation. While this plan does take the first step toward achieving a balanced budget, reducing the deficit, and canceling the $500 billion in automatic sequestration cuts that Congressman Forbes voted against and has been fighting to reverse for the past 20 months, it accepts a defense strategy from 2012 that he and his colleagues agreed at the time was not a strategy for a superior military, but instead a menu for long-term mediocrity. If we are going to uphold our Constitutional duty, we cannot continue to insist that budget-driven cuts to our military are unacceptable, only to then accept the unacceptable and slash our spending further. This bill passed by a vote of 221-207.
Called for more transparency in the use of taxpayer funds. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Agency Conferences and Conventions Operating Under Necessary Transparency (ACCOUNT) Act, H.R. 283, which seeks to control spending by requiring that conferences costing more than $25,000 receive approval by the head of the particular federal agency, and requiring details to be posted on the agency website within 30 days of the conference, including the purpose, total cost and cost per employee attending. Each agency would be required to submit a report on their conferences to the relevant Congressional committee for the fiscal year. The ACCOUNT Act would make conference spending public, causing federal agencies to use taxpayer money more wisely.
Funded the government through the end of Fiscal Year 2013. Congressman Forbes supported a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through September 30, 2013 (the end of Fiscal Year 2013) averting a government shutdown and beginning the first step toward fully-funding the military. The Continuing Resolution will provide the military with much-needed funding stability for the remainder of the fiscal year. While this is a good first step, Congressman Forbes intends to continue working to replace the devastating sequestration cuts that have severely damaged military readiness and threaten to undermine U.S. national security interests around the world.
Called for openness and transparency in the budget process. Congressman Forbes supported a bill, H.R.668, to require that annual budget submissions of the president to Congress provide an estimate of the cost per taxpayer of the deficit. Under the bill, for each year in which a deficit is projected, the president's budget must include an estimate of the cost of that deficit for the number of taxpayers who are expected to file individual income tax returns. This bill passed by a vote of 392-28.
Called for a balanced budget. Congressman Forbes supported the Require a PLAN Act, H.R.444, to require the President, if his original budget for Fiscal Year 2014 fails to show balance in any year, to submit a supplemental budget that shows when and how a balanced budget would eventually be reached. This supplemental budget would have to be submitted to Congress by April 1, 2013, and must include an explanation of the differences between the president's original FY 2014 budget and the supplemental budget. This bill passed by a vote of 253-167.
Supported ending automatic pay adjustments for Members of Congress. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 196, which would end automatic pay adjustments for Members of Congress. The measure would repeal the provision of law that provides for automatic increases, and would instead require that any pay increase for Members of Congress receive an up or down vote. Members of Congress should not be afforded special treatment and be made immune from the economic challenges facing our nation. Given the current state of our economy which has saddled the American people with widespread joblessness, Congressman Forbes will continue supporting legislation to stop automatic pay increases for Congress.
Called for audit of the Federal Reserve. Congressman Forbes cosponsored and supported the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, H.R. 459, requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve banks. The bill was introduced to address the Federal Reserve’s 2008 and 2009 bailouts, which authorized a total of $1 trillion in outstanding loans and the expansion of government involvement in the private sector, primarily to AIG and Bear Stearns. H.R.459 would allow Congress to perform its appropriate oversight duty, ensuring that credible standards guide the Federal Reserve’s decision making. This bill passed by a vote of 327-98.
Called for a report on effect of sequestration. Congressman Forbes supported the Sequestration Transparency Act, H.R.5872, to require the President to submit a report to Congress that includes an estimate of the sequestration percentages and amounts necessary to achieve the required reduction for each spending category on an account level. The bill will also require the report to include additional data or explanations that would enhance public understanding of the looming sequester and actions to be taken under it. This bill passed by a vote of 414-2.
Called for a report on effect of sequestration. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Sequestration Transparency Act, H.R.5872, to require the President to submit a report to Congress that includes an estimate of the sequestration percentages and amounts necessary to achieve the required reduction for each spending category on an account level. The bill will also require the report to include additional data or explanations that would enhance public understanding of the looming sequester and actions to be taken under it.
Reducing Funding for Operation of the House of Representatives. Congressman Forbes supported H.R. 5882, a bill to fund the operation of the Legislative Branch for the Fiscal Year 2013. This bill, which provides funding for the House of Representatives, cut spending by almost $40 million from the current level while ensuring that the House maintains the resources that members need to best represent their constituents. Congressman Forbes also supported passage of an amendment that saved the American taxpayers $1,000,000 by cutting the unnecessary Open World Leadership Center that used U.S. taxpayer money to bring Russian citizens to the United States to study our legislative process. The bill passed the House by a vote of 307-102.
Supported Funding for Key Programs. Congressman Forbes supported the Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013, H.R.5326, which funds the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, NASA and the National Science Foundation at a total of $55.1 billion. This funding level is $1.6 billion below last year’s amount and $731 million below the President’s request for these programs. This is the first of twelve appropriations bill to be considered by the House this year. This bill passed by a vote of 247-163.
Voting for a Budget for the Federal Government. Congressman Forbes supported a resolution, H.Con.Res.112, establishing a budget for Fiscal Year 2013. This proposal would cut $5 trillion, relative to the President’s budget, from the federal budget over the next ten years; simplify the tax code to two income tax brackets; promote job creation and economic growth by reducing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and eliminating corporate tax loopholes; and strengthen health and retirement security by repealing and defunding the President’s health care law and ensuring the solvency of Social Security. This bill passed the House by a vote of 228 – 191.
Cut government waste and unnecessary spending. Congressman Forbes supported passage of the Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act of 2012, H.R. 665. This bill requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct a program for the disposal of wasted or unnecessary federal property. Within the first 19 years, this bill requires the OMB Director to save $19 billion through the closure and sale of these wasteful properties. At a time when our nation’s debt is over $15 trillion, Congressman Forbes continues to support measure that end the irresponsible waste of taxpayer month on wasteful federal properties. H.R. 665 passed the House by a vote of 403-0.
Reformed the budget process. Congressman Forbes supported the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act, H.R. 3581, to require consideration of the market risk when calculating the cost of federal loans and guarantees.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 245-180.
Supported efforts to reduce spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act, H.R.3521, to provide for an expedited process for spending cuts in which the President can submit to Congress proposed discretionary spending cuts from appropriations bills. These proposals would then be voted on by the House and Senate and would have to be signed by the President to become law.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 254-173.
Eliminating Pay Raises for Members of Congress. Congressman Forbes supported H.R. 3835 to eliminate pay raises for Members of Congress and federal employees through 2013. At a time when millions of Americans continue to have trouble finding work and paying their bills, Congressman Forbes believes that it is inappropriate for Members of Congress to have their salaries increased. In addition, if our fiscal crisis demands that we freeze the salaries of our nation's civil servants, Members of Congress should not be exempt.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 309-117.
Supported initiatives to reform the budget process. Congressman Forbes voted for two initiatives to reform the broken budget process in Washington. Specifically, he supported the the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act, H.R.3582, to require that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office begin providing a supplemental analysis of the longer-term economic impact of legislation that is estimated to have a budgetary impact of more than .25% of GDP. The current economic model used to score legislative proposals assumes current law will remain unchanged over the course of the fiscal period and does not take economic growth into account. Congressman Forbes also supported the Baseline Reform Act, H.R.3578, to remove the assumption that discretionary spending will increase each year by the level of inflation.
H.R.3582 passed the House by a vote of 242-179 and H.R.3578 passed by the House a vote of 235-177.
Ensured taxpayer dollars targeted at the needy are used appropriately. Congressman Forbes supported the Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act, H.R. 3567, which requires states to ensure that federal taxpayer dollars provided as part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program are not being spent at liquor stores, casinos, or strip clubs. The federal funds allocated for this program were intended to help those who have basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, not to be misused for gambling and adult entertainment.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 395-27.
Tightened the belts of House Committees. Congressman Forbes supported H.Res. 496, a bill that cut House Committee budgets in order to contribute to House efforts to reduce federal spending. Congressman Forbes has consistently voted to reduce congressional expenditures, including personal office expense and committee spending levels.
This bill passed the House by voice vote.
Recognized the importance of balancing the federal budget. Congressman Forbes voted to support H.Res.516, a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the passage of a federal budget for Fiscal Year 2013 is of national importance.
This resolution passed the House by a vote of 410-1.
Opposed increasing the debt ceiling. Congressman Forbes supported H.J.Res.98, a joint resolution of disapproval of the President’s action to increase the debt limit by $1.2 trillion. As a part of last year's debt ceiling agreement, which Congressman Forbes opposed, legislative language was included to allow the debt ceiling to be raised automatically, 15 days after the President officially notified Congress, unless Congress voted to deny the borrowing increase.
This resolution passed the House by a vote of 239-176, but failed in the Senate.
Voting for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Congressman Forbes supported a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, H.J.Res.2, which would require that Congress not spend more than it takes in. Additionally, the amendment would require a three-fifths majority in both chambers to raise the debt ceiling and would legally require the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress annually. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate, and ratification by three-fourths of the states to take effect. A statement by Congressman Forbes on the failed vote is available here.
This bill failed to pass the House by a vote of 261-165. Two-thirds (290 votes) was required for passage
Ending Taxpayer-Subsidized Bonuses for CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 1221, the Equity In Government Compensation Act, to suspend the compensation packages for executives of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since September 2008, the Federal Housing Finance Authority has approved multi-million dollar bonuses for the GSEs’ top executives. A report released recently by the Inspector General of the FHFA found that the six top executives at Fannie and Freddie were paid $35.4 million since the taxpayers bailed out the GSEs. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to suffer losses three years after being taken under government conservatorship. Combined, the two companies have required about $145 billion in taxpayer aid since 2008.
Maintained funding for key government programs. Congressman Forbes supported the conference report to H.R. 2112, a “minibus” package comprised of the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bills. The three bills provided about $128 billion in discretionary spending subject to the $1.043 trillion cap provided for under the Budget Control Act, the debt limit compromise that passed in August. This bill also provided a short-term continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December 16, 2011, ensuring that moneys for critical government agencies do not expire.
This bill passed in the House by a vote of 298-121.
Tying Government Spending to Congressional Pay. Congressman Forbes reintroduced the Congressional Accountability Pay (CAP) Act, H.R. 3136, to break Congress’ addiction to spending by tying the salaries of Members of Congress to the growth in government spending. The bill would require a decrease in the rate of pay for each Member of Congress by a specified percentage if outlays for any fiscal year are greater than outlays for the preceding fiscal year. Read more about the CAP Act here.
Supported a short-term measure to fund the government. Congressman Forbes supported a continuing resolution, H.R. 2608, to fund the federal government through November 18, 2011 at $1.043 trillion, as set by the Budget Control Act. The bill provides a total of $2.65 billion in disaster relief funding in response to this year's storms and floods. This bill passed the House by a vote of 352-66.
Supported a short-term funding measure and cut wasteful spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Continuing Appropriations Act, H.R.2608, to fund the federal government through November 18, 2011 at a rate of $1.043 trillion. The bill also provides for $3.65 billion in disaster funding, with $1 billion immediately available and the remainder during fiscal year 2012. The funding is offset by cutting $1.5 billion from "stimulus" programs, including $100 million from the fund that provided taxpayer dollars to the bankrupt solar-panel company Solyndra, which is under criminal and congressional investigation.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 219-203.
Opposed raising the debt ceiling. Congressman Forbes cosponsored a resolution of disapproval, H.J.Res.77, regarding an increase in the debt ceiling. The Budget Control Act called for a reduction of spending of $917 billion over 10 years, which would allow the President to immediately seek a $900 billion increase to the debt limit. Under the bill, $400 billion of that increase occurred with passage of the bill in August, but the other $500 billion remains subject to a congressional resolution of disapproval.
Supported transparency in "supercommittee" negotiations. Congressman Forbes cosponsored a bill, H.R. 2796, to guarantee that all of the supercommittee’s work sessions will be open to the general public and the press in order to enhance transparency and accountability. The supercommittee was created under the Budget Control Act that was signed into law in August. This committee is comprised of 12 Members - 3 Senate Republicans, 3 Senate Democrats, 3 House Republicans, and 3 House Democrats - and is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.
Working to Stop Spending, Reduce the Deficit, and Protect our National Security. As Congress debated issues surrounding the need to lift the debt ceiling over the course of the past several weeks, a number of proposals came before the House of Representatives for consideration. Congressman Forbes supported solutions that cut spending, reduced the deficit, and put the nation on a path to passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. However, Congressman Forbes also supported protecting our men and women in uniform around the world and maintaining our national security.
Ensuring Payment of Social Security Benefits. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R.2581, the Social Security Check Guarantee Act, to ensure that Social Security payments would be paid even if the federal government exceeded its debt limit and could not meet all of its financial obligations. Social Security payments are earned benefits and are paid through payroll taxes, which continue to come in to the U.S. Treasury each month. As a result, Congressman Forbes fought to ensure that the continued revenues would be used to pay benefits, not other purposes.
Prioritizing Payments for Troops in Debt Debate. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R.2534, the Ensuring America's Promises Act, to ensure that interest on the debt and benefits for active duty military personnel, veterans, social security, and Medicare are paid regardless of whether or not the federal government reached its statutory debt limit.
Supporting the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act. Congressman Forbes voted for the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, H.R.2560, which would cut spending by $111 billion in Fiscal Year 2012, cap spending at 19.9% of the nation's gross domestic product, and require the passage of a Balanced Budget amendment to the Constitution before the debt limit could be raised. Read Congressman Forbes' statement on the vote here. The House passed this bill by a vote of 234-190.
Supporting Speaker Boehner's Plan. Congressman Forbes voted for Speaker Boehner's plan, S.627 , which would create a two-step process for the President to increase the debt limit by as much as $2.5 trillion, following the enactment of $2.7 trillion in spending cuts. The legislation provides an initial $915 billion in savings over 10 years, primarily through the imposition of spending caps on discretionary spending, which would allow the President to immediately seek a $900 billion increase to the debt limit. Under the bill, $400 billion of that increase would occur immediately, but the other $500 billion would be subject to a congressional resolution of disapproval. The bill creates a bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to recommend $1.8 trillion in additional deficit reduction, which if enacted would allow the President to seek a further $1.6 trillion increase in the debt limit — which also would be subject to a congressional vote of disapproval. Finally, the measure requires the House and Senate to vote on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution between Sept. 30 and Dec. 31. Read Congressman Forbes' statement on the vote here. The House passed this bill by a vote of 218-210.
Opposing Leader Reid's Plan. Congressman Forbes voted against Senator Reid's plan, H.R.2693, which would provide for $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, primarily through the imposition of spending caps on discretionary spending, and allows for a total $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling through a two-step process that allows Congress to disapprove of the increases. Unlike the House-passed debt reduction bill, the measure does not make a second debt limit increase contingent upon passage of deficit reduction legislation or a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. This bill failed in the House by a vote of 173-246.
Opposing the Budget Control Act of 2011 in Order to Protect National Security. Congressman Forbes voted against S.365, the final bill to raise the debt ceiling. This bill creates a two-step process for the President to increase the debt limit by a maximum of $2.4 trillion, following the enactment of at least $2.4 trillion in spending cuts. The legislation provides for an initial $917 billion in savings over 10 years, primarily through the imposition of spending caps on discretionary spending, which would allow the President to immediately seek a $900 billion increase to the debt limit. The bill creates a bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to recommend at least $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction over 10 years. Though details remain unclear, conservative estimates suggest that total cuts to defense over the next ten years would be at least $900 billion. Read Congressman Forbes' statement on the vote here. The House passed this bill by a vote of 269-161.
Cut Spending and Balancing the Budget. Congressman Forbes voted for the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, H.R. 2560, which would cut spending by $111 billion in Fiscal Year 2012, cap spending at 19.9% of the nation's gross domestic product, and require the passage of a Balanced Budget amendment to the Constitution before the debt limit could be raised. Read Congressman Forbes' statement on the vote here. The House passed this bill by a vote of 234-190.
Fought for Seniors and the Military in Debt Ceiling Negotiations. Congressman Forbes joined his colleagues in sending a letter to the President, asking him to make a public commitment to making debt-interest payments on time, in the event we do reach the debt ceiling. The letter urges the President to make a priority Social Security and Medicare payments, as well as payments to our military personnel, a priority.
Cut budgets for Members of Congress. Congressman Forbes supported the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act of FY 2012, H.R.2551, which allocated $227 million, or 6% less than the current level of funding, and $472 million, or 12% less than requested by the offices and agencies covered by the measure. All accounts funded by the bill were reduced from their FY 2011 levels, except for the Capitol Police, which was maintained at its current funding level for security purposes. Notably, Member offices also received reductions of 6.4% from the current funding level. Congressman Forbes also supported an amendment to the legislation to reduce wasteful spending for the printing of documents for Congress that can be accessed online, saving taxpayers an estimated $5 million. Every year, the GPO wastes taxpayer dollars with the daily printing and delivery of publications such as the unsolicited Congressional Record, only to be thrown away. The House passed this bill by a vote of 252-159.
Reduced the Nation's Deficit. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, H.R.2560, which would cut spending by $111 billion in Fiscal Year 2012, cap spending at 19.9% of the nation's gross domestic product, and require passage of a Balanced Budget amendment to the Constitution before the debt limit could be raised. Upon voting for this legislation, Congressman Forbes released a statement that is available here.
Opposed Additional Funding for the IMF and European Bailouts. Congressman Forbes cosponsored a bill, H.R.2313, to rescind enhanced funding provided to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF has recently taken the lead in financing bailouts of European nations such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. As 1 of only 17 Members of Congress to oppose every bailout and stimulus plan in the United States, Congressman Forbes believes it is wrong to use American taxpayer dollars to bail out foreign nations. The bill directs that all unobligated amounts be put back into the Treasury's General Fund to be used solely for U.S. deficit reduction.
Worked for innovative solutions to pay down the debt. Congressman Forbes continues to explore innovative ways to pay down America's skyrocketing debt and has cosponsored H.R.1358, the Returned Exclusively for Unpaid National Debt (REFUND) Act. This legislation would allow states to return unwanted federal dollars to be used toward paying down the national debt. Current law allows these funds to be returned and then given to other states, but not to the federal government for the explicit purpose of paying down the debt.
Eliminated Wasteful Stimulus Spending. Congressman Forbes cosponsored End the Stimulus Advertisement Act, H.R.389, which would prohibit funding for any additional “stimulus” signs and reduce each federal agency's budget by the amount they have already spent on such signs. The signs are not required, but they are “strongly encouraged” by the Administration to identify all American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) projects funded by the Department of Transportation. It is up to individual states whether the signs are displayed, but the cost of the signs is considered an “eligible project administration cost” of the ARRA grants, meaning they are funded by taxpayers across the country. The cost to make each sign varies state-by-state, but according to some reports, some of the "sponsored by the stimulus" road signs can cost taxpayers up to $10,000 each. Congressman Forbes believes that at a time when our nation is facing a crushing national debt, we cannot afford a taxpayer-funded marketing campaign for a stimulus program that has not been effective.
Approved a Balanced Budget Amendment. Congressman Forbes voted to approve H.J.Res.1, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The resolution requires that Congress not spend more than it receives in revenues, requires the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress, and requires a 3/5 majority vote to increase the debt limit. The resolution authorizes a waiver of the provisions when a declaration of war is in effect as declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which has become law. H.J.Res.1 passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 20-12 with Congressman Forbes' support and has been reported to the House floor for further consideration.
Voted Against Raising the Debt Limit Without Spending Cuts. Congressman Forbes voted against H.R.1954, a bill that would raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit an additional $2.4 trillion to $16.7 trillion---the amount needed to implement the President’s budget through the end of fiscal year 2012---without any significant cuts in the nation’s spending habits. Congressman Forbes believes that the Administration must first agree to make real cuts and reforms to reduce the deficit before Congress can agree to raise the debt ceiling. Failing to take action to cut current spending, restrict future spending, and improve federal budgeting will only worsen our nation’s fiscal condition. This bill failed in the House by a vote of 97-318.
Cut Government Spending by $6.2 Trillion. Congressman Forbes supported the budget proposal for the next fiscal year, H.Con.Res.34, put forth by the House Budget Committee Chairman, Congressman Paul Ryan. The proposed budget will reduce deficit spending by $6.2 trillion over the next 10 years when compared to the Administration’s budget proposal. This budget eliminates hundreds of duplicative programs, reflects the ban on earmarks, and curbs corporate welfare, bringing non-security discretionary spending to below 2008 levels. Learn more about the House budget proposal here. This bill passed the House by a vote of 235-193.
Opposed insignificant reduction in government spending. Congressman Forbes opposed the continuing resolution to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, H.R.1473. Initial reports were that spending would be reduced by $38 billion for the remainder of the fiscal year; however, upon further review, it was determined that actual federal outlays would only be reduced by $352 million. Congressman Forbes believes that it is not enough to reduce just the license to spend taxpayer dollars; Congress must reduce the actual spending. With a projected budget deficit of $1.5 trillion in FY2011 alone, the American people deserve serious solutions addressing our nation’s fiscal condition. Congressman Forbes believes that Congress could have and should have done better. Read his statement here. This bill passed the House by a vote of 260-167.
Joined the Balanced Budget Amendment Caucus. Congressman Forbes joined the Balanced Budget Amendment Caucus. The purpose of the Caucus is to raise awareness about the necessity and importance of amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget and to educate other Members on the subject. Congressman Forbes is also a cosponsor of the balanced budget amendment, H.J.Res.1. Learn about the key elements of a balanced budget here.
Averted government shutdown. Congressman Forbes supported a short-term continuing resolution, H.R.1363, funding the federal government through April 15th. The legislation was enacted to provide the House and Senate with time to consider the bipartisan spending compromise that will fund the government through the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year (September 2011). This bill passed the House by a vote of 348-70.
Ensured that Paying the National Debt Remains a Priority. Congressman Forbes signed on as a cosponsor for the Full Faith and Credit Act, H.R.421, which directs the United States Treasury, in the event the debt ceiling is reached, to make payments on the debt a priority, rather than defaulting on our obligations.
Worked to prevent a government shutdown. Congressman Forbes voted for the Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011, H.R.1255, expressing the urgency for Congress to pass a spending measure in order to prevent a government shutdown. Additionally, the legislation bars Members of Congress and the President from receiving a salary for each day there is a government shutdown lasting more than 24 hours. This bill passed the House by a vote of 221-202.
Kept the government functioning. Congressman Forbes supported H.J.Res.48 to extend funding for the federal government an additional three weeks through April 8th, 2011. The legislation reduces funding for designated federal programs by $3.5 billion and rescinds $2.6 billion in earmarks. In total, the bill cuts government spending by $6 billion dollars in proportion with spending reductions designated by H.R.1, a bill that reduced appropriations for the remainder of FY2011 by $61 billion. To read Congressman Forbes’ statement on the vote, click here. This bill passed the House by a vote of 271-158.
Cancelled Underutilized and Overfunded Programs. Congressman Forbes voted to support H.R.830, which would terminate the FHA Refinance Program and restrict the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from newly insuring any mortgage under the program. The legislation would also direct the HUD Secretary to conduct a study to determine the extent of use of the FHA Refinance Program by members of the Armed Forces, Veterans, and Gold Star recipients. The program was funded with $8 billion in TARP funds. $50 million of this $8 billion has been disbursed as of February 3, 2011. Only 44 loans have been refinanced under this program as of mid-February and only 245 applicants have been submitted. This bill passed by a vote of 256 – 171.
Terminated unused federal programs. Congressman Forbes supported the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program Termination Act (H.R. 836). This bill repeals the unused and underfunded Emergency Mortgage Relief Program that was initially authorized in 1975 and never funded until 2010. This bill rescinds any of the $1 billion in funds appropriated that have not been used. It also requires the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development conduct a study to determine the extent of usage of the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program and the impact on covered homeowners. This bill passed by a vote of 242 – 177.
Funded federal government operations through March 18, 2011. Congressman Forbes supported a short-term continuing resolution (CR) (H.J.RES.44). The CR reduced spending by $4 billion and provided a total of $1.083 trillion in discretionary budget authority for Fiscal Year 2011. The bill eliminated funding that was made available in Fiscal Year 2010 for earmarked programs and projects and eight current government programs for which no funds were requested in the President’s budget. This bill passed by a vote of 335 – 91.
Reduced Federal Spending by $61.5 Billion. Congressman Forbes supported the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution (H.R.1) reducing federal spending by $61.5 billion through September 30, 2011. The bill included the elimination of federal funding for abortion and public broadcasting and prohibited the use of funds this year for the disestablishment of U.S. Joint Forces Command. During the more than 90 hours of debate, Congressman Forbes voted on over 100 amendments. The legislation is currently pending in the Senate and must be acted on by March 4, 2011. This bill passed by a vote of 235 -189.
Eliminated Wasteful Spending in Congress. Congressman Forbes supported the Stop the Over Printing (STOP) Act (H.R.292) eliminating the mandatory requirement that 200 paper copies be printed of any bill or legislation introduced in Congress. In the 110th Congress the Government Printing Office printed 2.8 million paper copies of 14, 042 bills and resolutions at a cost of $7 million. The Act would require all bills and legislation be made available in an electronic format accessible on the internet and permit 75 copies of a bill or legislation be printed upon request by either a Member of Congress of a Congressional Committee. This bill passed by a vote of 399-0.
Supported responsible federal spending. Congressman Forbes supported an amendment to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R.5116), to prevent federal employees who have been disciplined for viewing pornography at work from receiving salaries. The amendment would also lower the bill’s spending back to 2010 levels from the proposed increase. This amendment passed the House by vote of 292-126.
Cut government spending by 40%. Congressman Forbes has introduced legislation, the Tighten Washington’s Belt Act of 2010, to cut government spending by 10% each year until Fiscal Year 2015. Read Congressman Forbes’ recent column with details on the bill here.
Limited the national debt. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 4262, which would require a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and Senate to raise the national debt level. Currently, the national debt can be raised automatically in the joint budget resolution without facing a direct vote or by a simple majority. This legislation will make new debt increases more difficult.
Voted against the statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2009. “Pay-Go” is a term used to describe a rule in Congress that requires any new spending and tax cuts to be offset by cuts or revenues somewhere else in the budget. This pay-go bill contained so many loopholes that it is ineffective. For example, H.R. 2920 exempts all discretionary spending from pay-go rules, which makes up 40% of all government spending. Rising discretionary spending is one of the major reasons we are facing a massive federal deficit. Furthermore, some of the biggest spending proposals, such as the bailout and stimulus packages, would be exempt from pay-go altogether under this new bill. H.R. 2920 passed the House by a vote of 265-166.
Voted against excessive government spending. Congressman Forbes voted against H.R. 3293, which contained a 7% increase in spending, or $11.1 billion, over last year’s level for federal labor, health and human services, and education programs. The bill also removes the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs in the United States. The bill passed the House by a vote of 264-153.
Supported an amendment to restore “regular order” to the consideration of annual spending bills, a key step necessary for Members' voices to be heard on runaway spending. Appropriations bills are the federal government’s annual spending bills. Traditionally, those bills have been considered under “regular order,” which means that any Member of Congress may offer an amendment to change any spending measure within a bill. This year House Leadership has turned down most of the proposed changes and pre-selected a small number of amendments for consideration on the House floor. This essentially shuts off the opportunity for Members of Congress representing varying districts and constituents from offering their proposals.
Urged President Obama not to commit $100 billion to foreign countries. The President has asked Congress to approve a $100 billion line of credit to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Congressman Forbes sent a letter to the President Obama urging him not to commit the additional money to the IMF. Because the federal government is already $11 trillion in debt, the government would need to borrow the $5 billion in seed money, likely from China, to make this loan to the IMF. Russia, China, Brazil, and India have all announced that they will not make similar loans to the IMF.
Sent a letter to President Obama urging him not to commit an addition $100 billion to the International Monetary Fund.
Called for the Federal Reserve to be audited. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 1207, which would order the Comptroller General to complete an audit of the Federal Reserve board and banks before the end of 2010. The Federal Reserve’s role has grown significantly due to the volatility in the financial markets.
Supported a commission to address federal spending. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 1557, which would establish a non-partisan commission to develop legislation designed to address: (1) the nation’s unsustainable deficits; (2) increase net national savings and economic growth; (3) study the implications of foreign ownership of U.S. debt; and (4) revamp the budget process to emphasize long-term fiscal responsibility.
Opposed the 2010 Federal Budget resolution. Congressman Forbes voted against S. Con. Res. 13, the Conference Report for the Federal Budget. This $3.5 trillion budget proposal increases federal spending at a level that will result in the largest deficit in the nation's history. In addition, the legislation allows health care and energy tax legislation to bypass the conventional legislative process without adequate debate.
Supported a commission to eliminate government waste. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R.1802, which would establish a bipartisan commission to evaluate federal agencies and programs to eliminate wasteful spending on duplicative, inefficient or outdated programs. The commission would make recommendations to Congress and the President for changes to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of taxpayer dollars.
Voted to debate the Budget. Congressman Forbes supported a motion on H. Con. Res. 85, the 2010 budget resolution, which would have required any health care reform or climate change legislation to undergo debate and amendments to the proposals. The motion failed to pass the House by a vote of 196-227. H. Con. Res. 85, the $3.5 trillion budget proposal, will create more debt in the next ten years than the entire amount of debt accumulated by the federal government from 1789 to today. Congressman Forbes supports amending the Constitution to control federal budgets by requiring the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress and force Congress to pass a balanced budget (H.J.Res.1).
Met with the Board of Supervisors and County Administrator from Sussex County. During the meeting, the Board and Rep. Forbes discussed the stimulus bill, the Navy’s ongoing study for an Outlying Landing Field in Virginia or North Carolina, and ways to spur economic growth in the County.
Voted against runaway spending in the federal budget. Congressman Forbes opposed the $3.5 trillion budget, H. Con. Res. 85, which will result in the largest deficit in history and create more debt in the next ten years than the entire amount of debt accumulated by the federal government from 1789 to today. Congressman Forbes supports controlling federal spending by requiring the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress and forcing Congress to make the decisions necessary to eliminate the federal deficit. Congressman Forbes is a cosponsor of H. J. Res. 1, the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Cosponsored H. J. Res. 1, proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This resolution would reign in out-of-control spending by mandating that Congress not continue to increase our federal debt except under extraordinary circumstances and with three-fifths approval by each house of Congress.
Voted against the Conference Report on S.Con.Res. 70, the Congressional Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009-2013, which would create a $2,915 annual increase in federal taxes on the average taxpayer in the Fourth District. S.Con.Res. 70 increases spending by $526 billion over the next five years—from $2.9 trillion in FY 2008 to $3.4 trillion in FY 2013. To pay for this increased spending, this proposal would impose the largest tax increase on American taxpayers in history—$683 billion over the next five years. The Majority’s budget proposal would increase individual income tax rates, cut the child tax credit, bring back the marriage penalty, reduce small business tax credits, and raise dividends and capital gains taxes. In addition, the Majority’s budget would not address entitlement spending and would raise the national debt by $646 billion in FY2009.
Cosponsored H.J. Res. 81, which would amend the Constitution of the United States to control federal government spending by prohibiting the federal government from spending more than 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP is the dollar amount that represents the whole U.S. economy. An exception can be made for years when a declaration of war is in effect or when the Congress votes by a two-thirds supermajority.
Voted against H.Con.Res. 312, the Congressional Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009-2013, which would create a $2,915 annual increase in federal taxes on the average taxpayer in the Fourth District. H.Con.Res. 312 would result in a tax increase that is more than double the tax rebate provided in the so-called “economic stimulus” package that was recently passed. This budget proposal presented by House leadership would impose the largest tax increase on American taxpayers in history —$683 billion over the next five years. In addition, the Majority’s budget would not address entitlement spending and would raise the national debt by $646 billion in FY2009.
Expressed disappointment after the House Budget Committee reported a Federal budget plan that will raise taxes for Virginians by an average of $3,120 per year. Rep. Forbes said, “With the strain we are currently seeing on our economy - declining home value, slowing job growth, and rising energy and health care prices - the last thing we should do is raise taxes for our working families. Washington has enough of Americans' hard-earned money. Congress should instead focus on how to best spend the money that they already have, rather than taking more money out of the wallets of hardworking Americans."
Opposed the House version of H.R. 2764, the Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated (Omnibus) Appropriations Bill, on December 17, 2007. While this version of the fiscal year 2008 funding bill met the President’s funding levels and included $11.2 billion in “emergency” spending, it restricted the use of funds for military operations in Iraq and included funding only for military operations in Afghanistan. Congressman Forbes voted in favor of the Senate Amendments to H.R. 2764 on December 19, 2007, which added $70 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan without imposing artificial time tables on our troops. This is critical funding for our troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terror. The President is expected to sign H.R. 2764, as amended, into law, which will complete the annual appropriations process for fiscal year 2008.
Joined Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Bush in support of entitlement reform. The letter calls on President Bush to meet with cosponsors of the SAFE Commission Act to talk about the need for entitlement reform. Earlier this year Congressman Forbes cosponsored the SAFE Commission Act (H.R. 3654) which will would institute a comprehensive review and reform of the United States tax and entitlement systems. With the first baby boomer signing up for Social Security a couple weeks ago, it is important for the United States to address this growing fiscal problem to ensure that future generations are left with a country that is financially solvent.
Voted in favor of H.J. Res. 52, which makes continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 2008. The resolution would extend federal government spending authority through November 16 for those agencies and programs whose FY 2008 appropriations bills were not enacted before FY 2007 ended on September 30, 2007. Spending for those agencies and programs will continue at the current FY 2007 level. H.J. Res 52 includes provisions to continue funding for programs such as the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and defense-related spending, including appropriations for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, among others.
Cosponsored H.R. 3583, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, which would provide for an automatic continuing resolution in the event that Congress does not pass a budget by the end of the fiscal year. This would prevent any political party from using the threat of a government shutdown as a political ploy. It would also prevent anyone from hiding earmarks in a Continuing Resolution.
Cosponsored H.R. 3654, the Securing America’s Future Economy Commission Act (SAFE Act), which would establish a commission to investigate entitlement spending, tax policy and all federal spending. The mission of the SAFE Commission would be to address the long-term problems facing our country such as foreign-held debt, solvency of Social Security and Medicare, increasing individual savings, and reforming entitlement programs to serve the most needy. The Commission’s recommendations would be submitted to Congress for approval.
Cosponsored H.R. 2084, the Family Budget Protection Act, which would reform the Congressional budget process to create a simple and legally binding budget. This would create five spending categories: mandatory spending, defense spending, non-defense spending, interest payments and emergency spending. Non-defense spending would be capped and would require approval by the Congress before it could be exceeded. The bill would also require emergency funds to be budgeted. In addition, H.R. 2084 would provide a legislative veto, biannual budgeting, and would sunset all discretionary programs every ten years.
Cosponsored H.R. 2380, the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act, which would provide better financial stability to small businesses and family farms by eliminating the federal estate and gift taxes. This legislation would also make permanent the estate tax approved by Congress five years ago, set to expire in 2010.
Cosponsored H.R. 1304, the Motorsports Fairness & Permanency Act, which would permanently extend the tax depreciation provisions of the 2003 tax cuts, which are set to expire in 2008. This would allow the Richmond International Raceway and the Martinsville Speedway to plan for capital improvements to keep them competitive and keep motorsports thriving in Virginia.
Cosponsored H.R. 1576, the Tax Credits for Land Conservation Act, which would make permanent the tax credit for conservation easement donations. H.R. 1576 would raise the deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation easement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%. In addition, this legislation would allow qualifying farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income. Finally, H.R. 1576 would extend the carry-forward period for a donor to take tax deductions from 5 to 15 years. H.R. 1576 would help the Commonwealth achieve its goal of establishing 400,000 conservation acres.
Cosponsored H.R. 473, the SAFE Commission Act, which would establish a Securing America's Future Economy (SAFE) Commission that would review federal spending and develop legislation designed to address: (1) the unsustainable imbalance between long-term federal spending commitments and projected revenues; (2) increases in net national savings to provide for domestic investment and economic growth; (3) the implications of foreign ownership of federally issued debt instruments; and (4) revision of the budget process to place greater emphasis on long-term fiscal issues.
Cosponsored the Commission on the Accountability and Review of Federal Agencies (CARFA) Act, legislation that would establish a bipartisan commission to review federal agencies and programs in an effort to eliminate wasteful spending on duplicative, inefficient or outdated programs. CARFA would make recommendations to Congress and to the President for changes to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of taxpayer dollars.
Voted against H.Con.Res. 99, the 2008 Budget Resolution. This budget, which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 216 - 210, would inflict the largest tax increase in American history - nearly $400 billion over five years and an average tax increase of $3,119 for Virginia taxpayers. Congressman Forbes voted in favor of the budget substitute amendment, which includes manageable spending, continued tax relief and reserve funding for emergencies. National advocacy groups in favor of this budget substitute include: Freedom Works, Citizens Against Government Waste, the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union. For information on fiscally responsible legislation that Congressman Forbes has cosponsored, click here.
Voted against H.R. 1227, the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007. In response to the disasters, the federal government has already committed more that $110 billion to help the Gulf Coast, including $16.7 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program. This legislation would give even more housing assistance for the areas of the Gulf Coast hit by hurricanes in 2005 (Katrina, Rita and Wilma). Congressman Forbes supports oversight of federal money spent to support the families affected by these disasters, but considered the additional impact this costly legislation would have on our deficit. Congressman Forbes supports responsible federal spending and has recently cosponsored additional legislation, the Emergency Spending Control Act of 2007, H.R. 1122, which would budget for emergency spending and clearly define what constitutes an emergency.
Cosponsored H.R. 1122, the Emergency Spending Control Act of 2007. This legislation would require justification from the President for all funding requests designated as an 'emergency.' It would create a separate reserve fund in the budget in anticipation of these emergency funding needs. The emergency cost of the hurricane season of 2005, including Hurricane Katrina, was over $110 billion. This bill would work towards ensuring emergency spending is more thoroughly reviewed and provided for in the budget.
Cosponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment, which will force Congress to enact fiscally responsible spending measures, reduce the deficit, and ensure that the money our citizens work so hard to earn is not spent on wasteful spending and programs. The bill requires that Congress not spend more than it receives in revenues, requires the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress, and requires a 3/5 majority vote to increase the debt limit. A Constitutional amendment will force Congress to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending and make the decisions necessary to balance the budget and eliminate the federal deficit