The Cutting Board: Wasteful Programs
Every year, our federal government spends billions of dollars on duplicative, underutilized, and wasteful programs. This is something we cannot afford when, during the first three months of the year, our national debt was equivalent to 95 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).We need to be making every effort to begin cutting those programs that are wasteful or unnecessary. Over the past several months, Congressman Forbes has voted to end these wasteful programs. Read more.
Congressman Forbes is working to reverse the burdensome regulation trend that is preventing businesses from growing. More...
Balanced Budget Amendment
Do you support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution?. Share your opinion in Congressman Forbes’ InstaPoll. More...
Congressional Constitution Caucus
Rep. Forbes is a member of the Constitution Caucus, which provides an educational forum regarding Constitutional principles and fosters discussion of the appropriate role of the federal government. More...
Opposed federal overreach. Congressman Forbes signed a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concern with a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claim to have authority to "garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order." Congressman Forbes also cosponsored H. J. Res 118, a resolution of disapproval of the EPA’s proposed wage garnishment rule.
Opposed burdensome regulations. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Protection and Accountability Regulatory Act, H.R. 4813, to nullify the latest greenhouse gas emissions proposed rule for existing and new electric utility generating units. On June 2nd the administration released its proposed rule cutting emissions from existing power plants. The rule is expected to cut 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. The administration also issued, in January, a proposed rule setting carbon emission standards for newly established natural gas and coal-fired power plants. These sweeping regulations threaten to undermine our economy and increase energy prices on consumers. H.R. 4813 would: terminate both the New Source Performance Standard proposal and the existing source proposal; prevent the administration from issuing a substantially similar rule for a period of 5 years after the date this bill is enacted; and ensure that, if the administration wants to issue a similar rule they have to have it authorized by Congress first.
Opposed bonuses for tax delinquent IRS employees. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the No Bonuses for Tax Delinquent IRS Employees Act, H.R. 4531, to prohibit the provision of performance awards to employees of the Internal Revenue Service who owe back taxes. The bill prohibits the Commissioner of the IRS from providing any performance award (including, but not limited to, bonuses, step increases, and time off) to an employee of the Internal Revenue Service who owes an outstanding Federal tax debt.
Increased transparency in tracking government spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act, S. 994, which expands the amount of data that federal agencies are required to provide online, allowing the public a greater awareness of federal spending. This bill passed by voice vote.
Eliminated unnecessary government reports. Congressman Forbes supported the Government Reports Elimination Act, H.R. 4194, to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary government reports. This bill passed by voice vote.
Funded the operations of the House. Congressman Forbes supported the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, H.R. 4487, which funds operations of the House, joint operations of Congress, and the Capitol police. This bill also includes a provision to freeze the pay of Members of Congress, preventing any pay increases in fiscal year 2015. This bill passed by a vote of 402-14.
Voted to establish a Select Committee on Benghazi. Congressman Forbes supported H.Res.567, establishing a Select Committee of the House of Representatives to investigate and study all policies, decisions, and activities that contributed to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. This resolution passed by a vote 232-186.
Held the IRS accountable. Congressman Forbes supported a resolution, H.Res.574, finding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena regarding her role in the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. Congressman Forbes also supported a resolution, H.Res.565, calling on the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting of conservative groups. These resolutions passed by votes of 231-187 and 250-168 respectively.
Improved federal transparency and oversight over the executive branch. Congressman Forbes supported the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act, H.R. 1459, to change the authority granted to the President to establish national monuments under the Antiquities Act. H.R. 1459 requires the designation of certain national monuments by the President to be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process. If the designation exceeds 5,000 acres it would requiring an environmental impact statement. If the designation is 5,000 acres or less, the action is excluded from the NEPA review process, but the designation expires three years after the declaration unless it is specifically designated by law. This bill passed by vote of 222-201.
Supported IRS accountability and reform. Congressman Forbes supported the Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act, H.R. 2530, to require the IRS to disclose to a taxpayer when it has shared the individual's tax information with another government agency. H.R.2530 further mandates that the IRS, if an audit takes more than a year, explain to the taxpayer in writing why it has taken more than a year. Congressman Forbes also supported the Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act, H.R. 2531, which prohibits the IRS from asking taxpayers questions regarding religious, political or social beliefs. Both bills passed by voice vote.
Opposed regulations targeting 501(c)(4) organizations. Congressman Forbes supported the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act, H.R. 3865, to block for one year the ability of the Treasury Department or IRS to modify regulations addressing the allowable political activities of tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations. The bill directs the IRS to continue using the criteria in effect as of Jan. 1, 2010, for purposes of determining whether a social welfare organization covered under Section 501 (c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code should continue to receive tax-exempt status. Congressman Forbes also sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and submitted a public comment opposing the IRS proposed rule. This bill passed by a vote of 243-176
Called for an independent investigator for IRS case. Congressman Forbes sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting a nonpartisan official be appointed to lead the investigation into the inappropriate targeting of conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status. It is critical that the head of the investigation be unbiased, to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.
Supported increased transparency at government agencies. Congressman Forbes supported the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act, H.R.1211, which would increase the ability of citizens to access records and documents from government agencies. This bill passed by a vote of 410-0.
Promoted efficiency in information technology process. Congressman Forbes supported the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, H.R.1232, which increases the effectiveness of the Federal Government’s IT acquisition process and helps to ensure better oversight of technology purchases. This bill passed by voice vote.
Called for transparency in federal spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act, H.R.1423, which requires federal agencies to annually provide to the public information on the programs they administer, including their cost and any duplication or overlap between programs, in order to consolidate duplicative programs, eliminate inefficiencies and terminate unnecessary, outdated or low-priority programs. This bill passed by voice vote.
Protected against unfunded mandates. Congressman Forbes supported the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, H.R.899. The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 was enacted to curb the practice of imposing unfunded federal mandates on state and local governments, and the private sector. This bill reforms the law to ensure that states, localities, and private sector job creators are not continually burdened by onerous federal mandates. This bill passed by a vote of 234 – 176.
Called for increased transparency and oversight. Currently, the Attorney General is required to report to Congress any time the Department of Justice stops enforcement of a law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Faithful Execution of the Law Act, H.R.3973, to strengthen this provision by requiring any federal official (not just the Attorney General) who is not enforcing a law to report to Congress, and requiring the official to state the exact reason for this non-enforcement, regardless of whether it is being done on constitutional or policy grounds.
Called for an end to government-funded cell phones. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Stop Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act, H.R.176, to address phones made available through the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline Program, which was established in 1984 to subsidize one wired service per household for low-income individuals. In 2008, the Lifeline Program was expanded to subsidize wireless services. The bill would return the Lifeline program back to its original structure and end federal subsidies for free cell phone services.
Reduced burdensome regulations. Congressman Forbes cosponsored and supported the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, H.R.367, which requires that Congress take an up-or-down vote on every new, major rule - those that have an economic effect of at least $100 million or would have a significant adverse effect on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation or U.S. economic competitiveness - issued by a federal agency before it could be enforced on businesses and the American people. This bill passed by a vote of 232-183.
Controlled wasteful government spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Stop Playing on Citizen's Cash Act, H.R. 2769, which imposes a moratorium on IRS conferences until the recommendations of the Treasury Inspector General (IG) are implemented. Earlier this year, the IG released a report detailing spending of $4.1million at an August 2010 conference held for executives and managers of the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Division. The report included nine recommendations for the IRS to implement, including verifying that conference costs and attendance are being tracked, using IRS personnel to plan future events, and establishing procedures for videos or other technology used in future conferences. Congressman Forbes also supported the Government Spending Accountability Act, H.R. 313, which sets a $500,000 limitation on conferences held by federal agencies and requires the agency post information about conferences that their employees attend on their website for public disclosure. Both bills passed by voice vote.
Increased Efforts to Prevent Further Abuse in Government. Congressman Forbes supported the Stop Government Abuse Act, H.R. 2879, which is a compilation of three separate pieces of legislation that 1) allow individuals to record in-person or telephone interactions with employees of an executive agency; 2) give federal agencies the ability to place employees on investigative leave, with loss of pay, for misconduct, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or misappropriation of funds; and 3) limit, during any fiscal year in which sequestration is in force, bonuses or performance awards paid to federal employees. This bill passed by a vote of 239-176.
Improved Customer Service within the Federal Government. Congressman Forbes supported the Government Customer Service Improvement Act, H.R. 1660, which requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop standards and goals for continuous customer service improvements, efforts to modernize service delivery, and target response times for telephone calls, email, mail, benefit processing and payments. This legislation further requires the Director of OMB to establish a two-year Service Improvement Unit Pilot Program to assist agencies who do not meet Government-wide standards, and requires the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide administrative and other support for the implementation of this program. This bill passed by a voice vote.
Prevented Illegal Immigrants from Receiving Social Security Benefits. Current law forbids an individual from receiving Social Security payments if they are here illegally, but their entire work history—even work done as an illegal immigrant—can count toward Social Security benefits if the individual later becomes a legal resident. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act, H.R.2745, which would forbid unauthorized work from counting toward Social Security credits, but would not affect those who have a legal right to work, such as legal permanent residents or those who have valid work visas.
Called for Accountability for Senior Executive Service Employees. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Government Employee Accountability Act, H.R. 2579, to create investigative leave with or without pay for 90 days; requiring reports back to Congress every 45 days, bring oversight to the suspended employee’s leave and; require at the end of the 90 day investigative leave period, the agency must either remove the employee, suspend the employee without pay, or reinstate or restore employee to duty. Under H.R. 2579, employees retain existing due process rights, including the right to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Called for responsible spending. Congressman Forbes introduced a resolution, H.Res.275, expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that up to $100 million in taxpayer dollars to fund President Obama’s trip to Africa with his family would be better used to compensate the civil servants placed on administrative furloughs.
Opposed awarding federal contracts to those delinquent on taxes. Congressman Forbes supported the Contracting and Tax Accountability Act, H.R.882, to bar individuals and companies with seriously delinquent federal tax debts from receiving government contracts or grants. Seriously delinquent is defined as debts for which a tax lien has been filed. It does not, however, include debt being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement, or debt for which a collection due process is requested or pending. This bill passed by a vote of 407-0.
Worked to reinstate work requirements for TANF welfare recipients. Congressman Forbes supported the Preserving the Welfare Work Requirement and TANF Extension Act of 2013, H.R.890, which reauthorized the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and prohibited the Secretary of Health and Human Services from waiving the work requirements included in the program. Specifically, H.R. 890 would prevent the Secretary from implementing a memo issued by the Administration in 2012 that effectively allowed states to opt out of TANF’s work requirements. The welfare reform law of 1996 imposed specific work requirements, ensuring that welfare recipients are engaged in work-related activities. The bill passed by a vote of 246-181.
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 personal accountability of Members of Congress.Congressman Forbes introduced the Congressional Accountability Pay (CAP) Act, H.R.284, to tie the salary of Members of Congress directly to spending – the more they spend, the less they make. This legislation ensures that Members of Congress are held personally accountable via their own paychecks. Just like families and businesses across America, Members of Congress need to be accountable for their fiscal decisions. Giving Members a personal stake in spending the tax dollars of the American people will reduce federal spending and rein in the growth of the national debt. Congressman Forbes also supported the No Budget, No Pay Act, H.R. 325, requiring Members of the House and Senate to pass a budget by April 15th or have their pay withheld. This bill passed by a vote of 285-144.
Required that unspent funds be used to reduce the debt and deficit. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Congressional Budget Accountability Act, H.R. 106, which would require any unspent funds remaining in a Member of Congress’ operating budget to be returned to the U.S. Treasury specifically for the purpose of deficit and debt reduction. At a time when our national debt is more than $16 trillion, Congress must implement commonsense policies to move our nation towards fiscal responsibility.
Increased oversight to reduce federal agency spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act, H.R. 4053, which requires the identification of programs in the federal government that have a high likelihood of “improper payments.” An improper payment occurs when a federal agency pays too much for a product or service, makes a payment to an ineligible recipient, or makes a payment for a good or service that is never received. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that in fiscal year 2011, federal agencies made an estimated $115.3 billion in improper payments. This bill would require agencies to take precautionary measures before making payments, verifying the eligibility of recipients and reducing the frequency of improper payments. This bill passed by a vote of 402-0.
Eliminated unnecessary and expensive reporting requirements. Congressman Forbes supported the GAO Mandates Revision Act, S. 3315, which updates current law to eliminate or modify a number of audits and reports that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) previously had been required to issue each year. The measure allows GAO to reduce the frequency of several reports, for example, requiring an audit of the U.S. Capitol Preservation Commission every three years rather than every year. This practical measure will ensure that GAO is not issuing reports simply for the sake of reporting, and will enhance the value of each report. This bill passed by voice vote.
Condemned the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Congressman Forbes supported a resolution, H.Con.Res.134, condemning the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. The resolution offered condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those killed in the attack, and expressed hope for the rapid recovery of those wounded. It also applauded the hard work and dedication of those who offered support and assistance, and honored the resiliency of the community of Aurora, Colorado. This resolution passed by a voice vote in the House and by Unanimous Consent in the Senate.
Cut red tape burdening small businesses. Congressman Forbes supported the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act, H.R. 4078, which contained seven bills promoting job creation by cutting away regulatory red tape that burdens small businesses. Collectively, these bills impose a freeze on economically significant regulations that harm the economy until unemployment reaches 6% or below; permanently prevent “lame duck” administrations from issuing economically significant regulations; ensure that impacted parties have a right to intervene before federal agencies agree to binding legal settlements; require independent federal agencies to comply with the same regulatory review requirements as other agencies and requires increased transparency with respect to unfunded mandates; create a streamlined process for consideration of federal permits for construction projects; and require both the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission to conduct cost-benefit analyses of proposed regulations. This bill passed by a vote of 245-172.
Supported Transparency and Reform in FCC Rules. Congressman Forbes supported the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act, H.R.3309, to amend the rulemaking requirements for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The bill requires the FCC to issue a notice - prior to proposing a new rule in order to solicit comments – that must contain background and the text of the rule. Additionally, for those regulations that would have an effect on the economy of at least $100 million, the FCC must include the specific market failure or consumer harm that justifies the rule and its cost. This bill passed the House by a vote of 247 – 174.
Cut federal spending and government waste. Congressman Forbes supported passage of the Civilian Property Realignment Act, H.R. 1734, which puts in place a new framework to sell of federal real-property assets, such as public buildings, that are not being used or are deemed to be wasteful or unnecessary. Property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, or property deemed by the Office of Management and Budget to be of national security importance are exempt from this bill. Within the first six months of this new framework being implemented, a new Civilian Property Realignment Commission is directed to find $500 million in taxpayer savings from the sale or closure of unneeded federal properties. At a time when our nation’s debt is over $15 trillion, it is irresponsible to continue to pay for unnecessary or wasteful federal properties.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 259-164.
Opposing Insider Trading in Congress. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, H.R.1148, to prohibit Members of Congress and federal employees from profiting from nonpublic information they obtain as a result of their official positions. It also requires Members and employees of Congress to report the purchase, sale, or exchange of any stock, bond, or commodity future transaction in excess of $1,000 within 90 days.
Providing Necessary Funding for Government Programs and Reducing Wasteful Spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, H.R. 2055, which contained nine appropriations bills: Defense, Energy and Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior/Environment, Labor/Health and Human Services/Education, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, and State/Foreign Operations. Notably, the House has cut discretionary spending for the second year in a row for the first time since World War II and rolled back non-defense spending to levels near those of 2008. Congressman Forbes recognizes that while this is a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go to rein in spending and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.
The conference report passed the House by a vote of 296-121.
Tightened Washington's belt. Congressman Forbes supported the Fiscal Year 2012 omnibus spending bill that cut an additional 5.2% from the operating budget for the House of Representatives. Since 2010, the House has reduced its own funding by more than 10 percent.
Reforming the Federal Rule-Making Process. Congressman supported the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, H.R. 10, a bill he cosponsored to modify the federal rule-making process to require congressional approval of major federal rules. This legislation is an important step in restoring a system of checks and balances to federal regulations and creating consistency and predictability for business owners throughout Virginia by:
- Creating a consistent economic environment that makes it easier for businesses to invest and grow. Even a small 5% reduction in the federal regulatory budget (about $2.8 billion) would result in about $75 billion in expanded private-sector GDP each year, with an increase in employment by 1.2 million jobs annually, according to a study by the Phoenix Center.
- Stimulating job growth. Small businesses are especially hard-hit by costly regulations, incurring 36% in additional costs per employee relative to larger firms in order to comply with them, when averaged across all business sectors.
- Increasing accountability in Washington. In 2010, unelected bureaucrats in Washington imposed 95 new “major” regulatory rules on businesses, local governments and families, each of which carried an economic burden of over $100 million, according to the Small Business Association.
- Spurring competitiveness. Certainty for small businesses allows them to focus on what they do best - driving innovation and increasing U.S. competitiveness.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 241-184.
Eliminating the Wasteful Spending of Taxpayer Money. Congressman Forbes supported a bill, H.R. 3463, 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. 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.
Supporting Access to Capital, Promoting Job Growth. Congressman Forbes supported four bills to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses and promote job growth:
- Congressman Forbes supported the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act, H.R.2940, which would remove the regulatory ban that prevents small, privately held companies from using advertisements to solicit investors for private offerings. Instead of raising money through conventional lines of credit received from banks, small businesses also can raise money through soliciting investors directly. Current SEC regulations prohibit companies from marketing securities through general solicitations and advertisements, which have been interpreted to mean that potential investors must have an existing relationship with the company in order to purchase securities. This bill passed the House by a vote of 413-11.
- Congressman Forbes supported the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act, H.R.2930, which provides exemptions from SEC requirements in order to allow small businesses to raise capital through so-called crowdfunding, instead of solely raising money through conventional lines of credit received from banks. Crowdfunding is a method of raising money to fund a business through small dollar contributions from a large number of people, all contributing to a common cause. This bill passed the House by a vote of 407-17.
- Congressman Forbes supported the Small Company Capital Formation Act, H.R.1070, which increases to $50 million from $5 million the annual public offering threshold for companies to be exempt from full Security Exchange Commission (SEC) filing requirements, allowing more companies to use the SEC’s simplified process. Simplified registration includes: simpler financial statements that do not require auditing; no reporting obligations unless the company exceeds $10 million in total assets and 500 shareholders; and a choice of formats for preparing the offering circular. This bill passed the House by a vote of 421-1.
- Congressman Forbes supported the Increase Shareholder Threshold for SEC Registration, H.R.1965, which would raise the bank shareholder for SEC registration from 500 to 2,000 and increases to $10 million from $1 million the level of total assets an issuer of non-publicly traded securities must hold before the issuer is required to register with the SEC. In addition to raising money through conventional lines of credit from banks, small businesses sometimes raise money by selling non-publicly traded securities to individuals and other entities. Current law requires that issuers of securities with 500 or more shareholders and total company assets of more than $1 million register with the SEC. With SEC registration comes reporting requirements that can be costly, and as such, some small businesses have avoided raising money through the sale of these securities. This bill passed the House by a vote of 420-2.
Delaying New Regulations to Save Jobs. Congressman Forbes supported H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011. This legislation ensures that new federal regulations are fully analyzed for their economic impact to our nation’s manufacturing and infrastructure industries. At a time when millions of Americans are out of work, it is irresponsible to move forward with new, burdensome federal regulations that have the potential to put thousands out of work. This legislation, which Congressman Forbes cosponsored, simply delays the implementation of these regulations until new achievable standards and compliance timelines can be set. This bill passed the House by a vote of 262-161.
Opposed waste, fraud, and abuse by federal government. Congressman Forbes supported a bill, H.R. 1343, to reclaim broadband funds awarded under President Obama's stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The bill requires the return of broadband stimulus funds if agencies determine that award recipients are engaged in wasteful or fraudulent activities. This bill passed the House by voice vote.
Protecting Jobs from Government Interference. Congressman Forbes supported the Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act, H.R. 2587, to prevent the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from issuing or seeking an order that rescinds any relocation, transfer, or other change regarding the location, entity or individuals engaged in production or other business operation, or to require any initial or additional investment at a particular plant, facility or location. The NLRB recently filed a lawsuit against Boeing to prevent the employer and other manufacturing companies from locating facilities in right-to-work states, limiting job creation in states that do not force unionization.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 238-186.
Called on Secretary of Labor to rescind and revise new onerous regulations. Congressman Forbes joined 47 other Members of Congress and Senators in sending a letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis urging her to repeal and rescind a recent Department of Labor ruling that could result in drastic financial losses for employers throughout Virginia that employ seasonal workers. Specifically, the proposed ruling would alter the H-2B visa program by increasing wage requirements above local market-based wages and creating untenable preconditions for hiring. The H-2B program allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. temporarily and engage in nonagricultural employment that is critical for Virginia business owners. In order to secure an H-2B visa, employment must be seasonal in nature, based on a peak load need, or limited to a one-time occurrence. H-2B visas provide employers the opportunity to stay economically vital at times when local labor is unavailable or when a specific need for additional labor would otherwise go unsatisfied. Areas with seasonal influxes of population or business benefit greatly from the additional labor made available by the H-2B program. In response to Congressman Forbes' letter, Secretary Solis has delayed the implementation of the rule for 60 days. Nonetheless, Congressman Forbes will continue to work with his colleagues to rescind and repeal this unfair rule. A copy of the letter is available here.
Supported transparency for the economic impacts of federal regulations. Congressman Forbes supported H.R. 2401, the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN Act). This legislation ensures that new federal regulations are analyzed for their economic impact to our nation’s energy and manufacturing industries. At a time when millions of Americans are out of work, it is irresponsible to ignore the impact of federal regulations to our nation’s employers and the overall economy. Additionally, this bill would temporarily postpone the implementation of certain proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules that would have forced electric plants to meet unreasonable emissions standards that, in many cases, could prove to be prohibitively expensive.
This bill passed the House by a vote of 249-160.
Froze new federal regulations to get our nation back to work. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 2898, the Regulation Moratorium and Jobs Preservation Act of 2011. This bill would prevent any federal agency from taking any new significant regulatory action until our country’s unemployment rate is equal or less than 7.7%. In this unstable economic climate, it is essential that our nation’s employers have the ability plan for the future in a secure and unchanging regulatory environment. Congressman Forbes joined 37 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives in working to get the federal government out of the way of our nation’s job creators.
Supported increased transparency in federal agencies. Congressman Forbes cosponsored legislation, H.R.1061, that would require federal agencies to publish receipts and expenditures on their websites every two weeks. This legislation would require a level of federal transparency that American taxpayers deserve.
Increased scrutiny for congressional mandates and regulations. Congressman Forbes signed on as a supporter for legislation, H.R.373, requiring Congress and the Executive Branch to disclose the cost—to the government and private sector—of any new regulation or proposed legislative mandates.
Ended ‘Monuments to Me.’ Congressman Forbes worked to prevent federal funds from being used for projects or programs named after a Member of Congress or U.S. Senator by cosponsoring H.R.951. Although there is currently a House rule that prohibits naming federal buildings after current Members of Congress, this rule had not extended to other entities that receive federal funds.
Protected Taxpayers. Congressman Forbes voted to protect taxpayers and end government waste by supporting, H.R.839, a bill to eliminate the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). HAMP directs the use of nearly $30 billion of TARP funding to reduce borrowers’ monthly mortgage payments. Successive reports from the Special Inspector General for TARP as well as the Government Accountability Office have routinely criticized the program whose termination, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will result in $1.4 billion in savings over the FY2011 – 2021 period. In addition, the Congressional Oversight Panel reported that the high re-default rates “signal the worst form of failure of the HAMP program: billions of taxpayer dollars will have been spent to delay, rather than prevent, foreclosures.” This bill passed the House by a vote of 252-170.
Rescinded government funding for National Public Radio (NPR). In light of recent allegations of political bias against NPR, Congressman Forbes voted in favor of H.R.1076 to prohibit direct federal funding for NPR and prevent local radio stations from using federal funds to pay NPR dues. This bill passed the House by a vote of 228-192.
Opposing Government Intrusion. Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau randomly selects three million Americans to fill out the American Community Survey (ACS), which generates data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year. However, many Americans find these questions intrusive and do not wish to answer them. As a result, Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Stop Orwellian Government Act, H.R.931. This bill would make participation in the American Community Survey voluntary by disallowing any criminal penalty for not filling it out.
Supported transparency in public pension systems. Congressman Forbes cosponsored a bill (H.R.567) that would require state and local government employee pension plans to file an annual report on their financial status with the Secretary of the Treasury in order to receive certain tax benefits. Currently, many of these pension funds use unrealistic assumed rates of return when determining their level of unfunded future liabilities. Specifically, the bill would require that they report their funding status, contribution schedule, projections for the next 20 years and assumed rate of return in the estimate, statement of unfunded liabilities and a statement of the amount of pension obligations outstanding. The bill also directs the Secretary of the Treasury to make this information available via searchable website so that American taxpayers can be informed of the true level of indebtedness of many state and local pension funds.
Eliminated wasteful spending. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Government Reform Act (H.R.155), which would establish a commission, at no cost to American taxpayers, to identify duplicative functions within government, government waste, inefficiency and mismanagement. The recommendations of the commission would help Congress find more spending reductions through budget reform, program eliminations and managerial improvement. The commission would also operate at no cost to the government.
Supported regulation of federal agencies. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R.10), which provides for congressional review of agency rulemaking to require congressional approval of major rules of the executive branch before they may take effect.
Requiring Statements of Constitutional Authority for Bills. Congressman Forbes supported adoption of the House Rules package (H.Res.5) proposed by the Republican Conference for the 112th Congress. The newly adopted rules require all legislation to be accompanied by a statement of constitutional authority and require legislative text to be available to the public at least 72 hours prior to any vote. Additionally, the “Gephardt Rule” was repealed which allowed for an automatic increase in the debt limit upon the adoption of a new budget resolution. This bill passed by a vote of 238-191.
Elected Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 112th Congress with 241 votes of the 435 House Members present. Speaker Boehner was sworn into office by Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), the longest serving member of Congress.
Calling on higher ethical stands for Members of Congress. Congressman Forbes voted for H.Res.1737 that required that Congressman Charles B. Rangel be censured by the House of Representatives for ethical misconduct and pay restitution to any tax authorities to which he owes unpaid taxes. This bill passed the House by a vote of 333-79.
Supported government efficiency through teleworking. Congressman Forbes voted to support the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (H.R.1722), which will allow applicable federal employees the ability to telework from home or another location for limited periods of time. This policy will mitigate productivity losses during periods of inclement weather. The legislation prohibits those with access to classified information from participating in the program. This bill passed the House by a vote of 254-152.
Preventing Corruption in Government Contracts. Congressman Forbes supported the Overseas Contractor Reform Act (H.R.5366), which prohibits corrupt individuals from receiving government contracts. Any individual found to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act would be barred from receiving any government contracts or grants under the legislation. This bill passed the House by a vote of 409 – 0.
Reduced time and costs in government emergency preparedness. Congressman Forbes voted for the Federal Supply Schedules Usage Act (S.2868) to allow the American Red Cross and state and local governments access to the federal supply schedule to facilitate disaster response planning. Using the federal supply schedule reduces the time and costs in the procurement process. This bill passed the House by a voice vote.
Opposing duplicative government spending. Congressman Forbes opposed the Rural Energy Savings Program Act (H.R.4785), duplicative legislation that would increase federal spending by $800 million over the next five years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. This bill passed by a vote of 240 – 172.
Increased the productivity of federal employees. Congressman Forbes supported the Telework Improvements Act of 2010 (H.R.1722), the purpose of which is to reduce losses in federal employee productivity due to weather-related office closures. This past winter, the government lost an estimated $71 million per day during the week-long snow storm which battered the D.C.-region. This bill passed the House by a vote of 290-131.
Preventing Foreign Influence in U.S. Elections. Congressman Forbes supported legislation (H.R.5609) that amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to limit foreign influence in domestic elections. Specifically, this legislation prohibits lobbyists whose clients are state sponsors of terrorism from making campaign contributions in American elections. This bill passed the House by a vote of 408-4.
Opposed unconstitutional limits on free speech. Congressman Forbes voted against the DISCLOSE Act (H.R.5175), which explicitly chooses winners and losers in campaign funding rules. This legislation, which will be enacted 30 days from its date of passage, imposes limits on the campaign contributions of foreign corporations and government contractors while creating loopholes for labor unions. These exceptions run counter to the precedent established by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission just five months ago. This bill passed the House by a vote of 219-206.
Ensured responsible oversight of small business lending. Congressman Forbes supported legislation (H.R.5551) that requires government spending under the Small Business Lending Fund Program to be economically, rather than politically, motivated. This bill passed the House by a vote of 411-0.
Reformed Ineffective Spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act of 2010 (H.R.2142) that will mandate periodic efficiency reviews of government programs. This bill, which establishes a Performance Improvement Council, is a step towards curbing wasteful government spending. This bill passed the House by a voice vote.
Opposed permanent tax increases. Congressman Forbes voted against the Small Business Jobs Tax Relief Act of 2010 (H.R.5486), which seeks temporary tax relief for some businesses by permanently raising taxes on other industries. This bill would result in a net increase of $3 billion of additional taxes. This bill passed the House by a vote of 247-170.
Opposed unnecessary programs. Congressman Forbes voted against the Work-Life Balance Award Act (H.R.4855) that would require the Department of Labor (DOL) to establish a Work-Life Balance Advisory Board to offer awards to employees who have implemented work-life balance policies. Congressman Forbes questions this use of DOL time, energy, and resources during a time of almost 10% unemployment. This bill failed in the House by a vote of 249-163.
Encouraged cost transparency of legislation. Congressman Forbes voted to support a resolution (H.Res.1178), which calls for the nonpartisan cost estimates of bills to be posted to the website of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. This bill passed the House by a vote of 390-22.
Voting against duplicative government spending. Congressman Forbes voted against the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R.5116) which will cost $48 billion in taxpayer money to fund existing science programs and create several new government programs. In addition, several key cost-reducing amendments were not included in the final version of the legislation. This bill passed the House by a vote of 262-150.
Opposed wasteful government spending and inefficiency. Congressman Forbes voted against the Telework Improvements Act (H.R.1722), which would allow federal employees to “telework” from home one day a week and would cost American taxpayers $30 million over five years. This bill failed to pass the House by a vote of 268-147.
Voting Against an Automatic Pay Raise for Members of Congress. Congressman Forbes became an original cosponsor and voted to eliminate the automatic cost of living adjustments for Members of Congress during the upcoming year (H.R.5146). Congressman Forbes has consistently supported legislation to stop congressional pay raises including the Stop the Automatic Pay Raise for Members of Congress in Fiscal Year 2011 Act (H.R.4255) and the Stop Congressional Pay Raise Act (H.R.156). H.R. 5146 passed the House by a vote of 402-15.
Supporting a Constitutional Spending Limit. Congressman Forbes became a cosponsor of an amendment to the Constitution (H.J.Res.79) that would limit spending to 20% of the economy, the historical average since World War II. Two-thirds of each body of Congress would have to vote to exceed the 20% spending threshold. In addition, Congressman Forbes also supports a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (H.J.Res.1).
Supported reducing government waste. Congressman Forbes supported the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (H.R.3393), which lowers the threshold for mandatory reporting of improper payments from federal agencies. The bill also requires federal agencies to develop plans to reduce waste and to seek to recover improper payments. This bill passed the House by voice vote.
Opposed misleading political mailings. Congressman Forbes supported legislation (H.R.5148) that would require all private mailings marked “census” to be clearly identified with a correct return address and notice declaring them to be from non-government organizations. This bill passed the House by voice vote.
Voted to oppose more runaway government spending. Congressman Forbes voted to oppose the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 (H.R.4851), which would extend a number of federal programs until the end of May 2010. This two month extension will cost taxpayers $18.5 billion and was politically designated as “emergency spending” so that it would not have to be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere. This bill passed the House by a vote of 289-112.
Supported Securing Federal Internet Networks. Congressman Forbes voted in favor of the Secure Federal File Sharing Act (H.R.4098), which secures the use of peer-to-peer internet file sharing by government employees on government computers and restricts their use unless necessary for official business. This bill passed the House by a vote of 408-13.
Required that tax forms be written in easy-to-understand language. Congressman Forbes voted for the Plain Language Act of 2009 (H.R.946), which requires that public federal documents, including tax forms, be written in plain language to increase government accountability and make it easier for Americans to understand what the federal government is doing and what services it is offering. The bill passed the House by a vote of 386-33.
Opposed increasing spending on special government programs. Congressman Forbes voted against the Electronic Message Preservation Act (H.R.1387), which expands the preservation of federal electronic records, and establishes special procedures for storing Presidential electronic records at the cost of $156 million over four years. This bill would make the records system more inefficient due to an increase in the number of records and would expand the Archive’s role throughout the government. The bill passed the House by a voice vote.
Encouraged individuals to complete the 2010 Census. Congressman Forbes voted to encourage individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count, H.Res. 1096. Census data is used to calculate federal funding for states and cities. This bill passed the House by a vote of 409-1.
Calling for a freeze in Member of Congress salaries. Congressman Forbes called for a compensation freeze for Members of Congress. He cosponsored H.R. 4255, which would stop the automatic pay raise for Members of Congress in FY2011.
Curbed waste, fraud, and abuse within the federal government. Congressman Forbes supported H.R. 2646, which clarifies and strengthens the authority of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit and provide assessments as to whether the taxpayers are receiving full value from government programs.
Spoke out against using the legislative process for political opportunity. Congressman Forbes sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her not to use the annual defense spending bill that funds our troops as a vehicle to increase the national debt limit. Congressman Forbes said "There is a pattern developing in Congress that says it is ok to use our men and women in uniform as tools to pass contentious proposals irrelevant to our troops, and it is wrong." Ultimately, Speaker Pelosi conceded and a separate vote was taken on increasing the national debt, which Congressman Forbes voted against.
Demanding Bill Text Availability for Members and the Public. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H. Res. 835, which would require Congressional committees to post the text of adopted bills and amendments online within 24 hours of passage. In addition to this, Congressman Forbes has introduced a bill, H.Res.694, to strengthen the rules of the House of Representatives to make it easier for Members of Congress to request that a bill be read aloud on the House floor before it is voted on.
Opposed unethical governance. Congressman Forbes voted to support a measure, H. Res. 805, requesting that Rep. Charlie Rangel step down from his position as chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means while under investigation for ethics violations stemming mostly from failure to report income. The resolution failed to pass by a vote of 153-246.
Called for accountability within the United Nations. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 557, which calls for greater transparency and accountability in the United Nations, as well as conditioning U.S. contributions to the U.N. with U.N. reforms.
Ensured federal funds are used efficiently. Congressman Forbes voted for H.R. 1053 to ensure funding for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay is being used as efficiently and effectively as possible. This legislation requires the Office of Management and Budget to determine how much federal money is being spent on cleanup efforts each year and whether those funds are helping to restore the Bay and producing the desired results. This bill passed the House by a vote of 418-1.
Met with constituents about the increasing size of government. Congressman Forbes met with the Chester Patriots in Chesterfield County to discuss ways to halt the expansion of the federal government’s size and scope. They also discussed steps to reverse the explosion of national debt, and ways to reverse the assault on individual freedoms.
Protected cities from being coerced into unconstitutional agreements by activist groups. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H.R. 1300, the Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA).The bill would prohibit activist groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from recovering legal fees when they successfully sue localities for violation of the Establishment Clause. Currently, many cities and towns are being coerced into settling claims, which are oftentimes unconstitutional, out of fear of huge monetary losses. PERA would modify the law so each side pays its attorney fees.
Prohibiting Federal Funds for ACORN. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Defund Acorn Act, H.R. 3571, to prohibit ACORN from receiving federal funds. In recent weeks, ACORN has come under scrutiny for a series of undercover videos that show ACORN employees in four different cities providing advice on how to acquire government assistance for setting up a brothel. Additionally, the FBI has recently issued arrest warrants for 11 Miami ACORN employees accused of falsifying hundreds of voter registration cards. Congressman Forbes also voted for an amendment to prohibit ACORN from receiving federal funds. This amendment passed the House by a vote of 345 - 75.
Supported financial relief for the United States Postal Service (USPS). H.R. 22 would change current law to allow the USPS to pay its share of contributions for annuitants' health benefits out of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund. Since 2008, mail volume has been down 12.6 percent due to the increased use of email and the economic downturn. In an age of increasingly rapid technological advancement, it is vital that USPS enact dramatic reform in order to compete with the private sector and the growing reliance on telecommunications. This bill passed the House by a vote of 388 - 32.
Recognized September 17, 2009 as Constitution Day. On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time in Philadelphia to sign the document they had created. The document was then sent to the states for ratification where all 13 of the original states signed it. The document officially became the United States Constitution on June 21, 1788 after New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify the document. Congressman Forbes cosponsored H. Res. 734, which would encourage Americans to celebrate the birth of our nation’s Constitution and to recognize the importance of this document for our nation’s history.
Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Czar Accountability and Reform (CZAR) Act of 2009. H.R. 3226 would eliminate taxpayer funding for “czars” who hold senior policy-making positions and are appointed without the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
Supported making participation in the American Community Survey voluntary. Leading up to the 2010 Census, this mandatory survey is sent out to a random sampling of 3 million households in the U.S. and Puerto Rico every year. Individuals are required to answer 28 pages of personal questions, or face fines ranging from $100- $5,000. There are numerous privacy concerns with the government’s collection of such comprehensive and potentially sensitive information. Congressman Forbes supported H.R. 3131, which would make participation in the American Community Survey voluntary, and only require people to answer four basic questions: a) Name, b) Contact info, c) Date of Response, and d) Number of people living or staying at the same address.
Supported a resolution to recognize September 11th. H. Res. 722 honors the heroic service of first responders, law enforcement personnel, state and local officials, volunteers, and others who aided the victims and, in so doing, bravely risked and often sacrificed their own lives and health. The United States remains steadfast in its determination to defeat, disrupt, and destroy terrorist organizations and seeks to harness all elements of national power, including its military, economic, and diplomatic resources, to do so. This bill passed the House by a vote of 416- 0.
Congressman Forbes introduced legislation, H.Res.694, to ensure Members can demand a reading of a bill prior to a vote on the House floor, especially in circumstances where insufficient time had been given for the review of that measure. Current House rules include the right for any Member to demand a reading of the bill, but this rule is routinely waived.
Congressman Forbes supported a requirement to ensure all legislation is available to Members and the American public for three days before a vote is called on the bill. H.Res. 554 would change the House Rules to require pending legislation to be placed on the Internet for at least 72 hours before a vote can be taken on the House floor.
Opposed increasing spending for government agencies. Congressman Forbes voted against H.R. 3170, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act which provides $1.8 billion for 2010, 4 percent more than regular 2009 funding. The legislation reduces the District of Columbia’s school voucher program by funding vouchers only for those students already receiving vouchers. The bill also eliminates the current ban on using local D.C. funds for abortions and for domestic partnership benefits. The bill passed the House by a vote of 219-208.
Opposed new federal mandates on the tobacco industry. Congressman Forbes opposed H.R.1256, a bill that would allow tobacco products to be given a “FDA approved” seal of approval, which would send the wrong message to our children about the safety of tobacco products while imposing mandates on states and private businesses.
Introduced interagency reform legislation to examine long-term global challenges facing the U.S. Congressman Forbes introduced H.R. 2207, the Interagency Cooperation Commission (ICC) Act, which would bring together officials from the Administration, Congress, and outside experts to recommend legislative and regulatory changes to improve the coordination of federal activities for major undertakings such as post-Katrina recovery, the government pandemic flu response, and coordinating government policy toward China and other countries.
Opposed funding increases for congressional committees. Congressman Forbes opposed H.Res. 279, which would raise the amount of money committee’s have available to pay for staff salaries and administrative expenses by 8.67% over levels for the last Congress. Congressman Forbes believes that when our economy is in a recession, unemployment figures are on the rise, home values are falling, and our national debt exceeds $10 trillion, Congress should not raise funding levels for itself. Congressman Forbes continues to fight for fiscal responsibility at all levels of government spending.
Supported H.R. 1323, to reduce the number of government documents unnecessarily shielded from public view. The Reducing Information Control Designations Act would would require the federal government to create regulations on how to control access to documents that are not classified, as well as provide information to date and track such documents. This measure would provide a single standard for all federal agencies and reduce the likelihood of documents being improperly shielded.
Entered a statement in the Congressional Record outlining his opposition to increasing pay for Members of Congress, and demanded that Congress cancel the automatic pay increase system currently in place for Members. Congressman Forbes entered this statement in relation to his vote to oppose H.R. 1105, the $410 billion spending bill that funds the government through the rest of Fiscal Year 2009 by $32 billion, or 8.3%, over FY2008 levels. While he opposed the overall bill, the 1100-plus page omnibus bill contained a provision supported by Congressman Forbes that freezes Member pay upon passage of the bill.
Congressman Forbes recently cosponsored H.R. 156, legislation that would prevent Members from receiving an automatic cost of living adjustment in the future. Voted in favor of H.Res. 83 recognizing the significance of Black History Month as an important time to recognize the contributions of African-Americans in our nation’s history.
Voted in favor of H.Res. 47 supporting the goals and ideals of Peace Officers Memorial Day. Peace Officers Memorial Day honors federal, state, and local peace officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
Speaker Pelosi announced that House leadership is working to block the pay raise for Congress Members’ salaries next year after Congressman Forbes and 108 other Members cosponsored H.R. 156. This bill would prevent Members of Congress from receiving an automatic cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2010. Congressman Forbes has never supported the annual cost of living adjustment for Members. Under the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, increases in salaries for Members are an automatic COLA that is mandated by law unless otherwise declined by Congress. Congressman Forbes has consistently voted against the pay raise each year it has been considered by the House of Representatives.
Attended House Republican Select Committee on Earmark Reform meeting to make recommendations to increase transparency and accountability in the annual federal spending process.
Cosponsored H.R. 156, which would prevent Members of Congress from receiving an automatic cost of living adjustment in 2010. Congressman Forbes has never supported the annual cost of living adjustment for Members. Under the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, increases in salaries for Members are an automatic annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) that is mandated by law unless otherwise declined by Congress. Congressman Forbes has consistently voted against the pay raise each year it has been considered by the House of Representatives.
Opposed H.R. 35, the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2009, which would significantly burden current and former presidents and may raise constitutional separation of powers issues. This bill would modify current procedures for requesting and releasing presidential records by setting deadlines for the release of records being made public, and requiring that presidents notify the Archivist and Congress when asserting constitutional privilege against disclosure of records. This bill would unreasonably restrict the time that presidents have to review documents necessary to assert relevant claims of executive privilege. Such restriction would lead to sweeping, blanket claims of privilege over large quantities of material by presidents.
Opposed H.R. 36, the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2009, over concerns that the bill disregards sound federal criminal law and would establish a law that could be easily abused. This bill would amend the Presidential Libraries Act to impose additional reporting requirements on donations to presidential libraries, require public disclosure of donation records, and impose civil and criminal penalties for violations. This bill includes provisions that would include up to five years in prison for submitting false material information or omitting material information with respect to a donation as small as $200. Such penalties are well-intended, but these provisions stray from a balanced approach necessary to support sound federal criminal law.
Supported S.J.Res.3, a joint resolution ensuring that the compensation of the Secretary of the Interior complies with the Constitution. With the imminent appointment of Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) to the position of the Secretary of the Interior, legislation is needed to avoid any violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Specifically, the emoluments clause states that it is unconstitutional to appoint elected officials to government positions when they have voted on the salary for the position during their most recent term in office. Reverting the salary back to the level that existed prior to 2005 should rectify this violation of the emoluments clause.
Opposed H. Res. 5, the 111th Congress rules package. Rules packages are voted on at the beginning of each new Congress and set procedural guidelines for how legislation will be considered. The rules package included a number of concerning provisions. For example, tax bills that are designated as “emergency” will receive an exception from the House’s pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, increasing the likelihood of large budget deficits. The six-year term limit on House committee chairmen has been repealed in this rules package, making seniority more important than merit. Also, this rules package prevents minority party members from offering amendments to bills on the floor that would send the bill back to the appropriate committee with specific instructions.
Supported H.R. 6669, which would expedite the donation of certain presidential documents relating to Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the National Archives. The Sun-Times Media Group hopes to donate the Grace Tully papers — named for the former commander in chief’s secretary, who collected them — to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y. That library is an arm of the National Archives. However, the Archives has asserted a claim that it already owns a portion of the papers — which would prevent the Sun-Times from reaping the full tax benefits of a donation. This bill would waive the National Archives’ claim. The collection includes historical gems such as Roosevelt’s correspondence with Benito Mussolini.
Supported S. 3536, which would allow the United States Postal Service to set its own rates for international air mail contracts, scrapping a system of government rate-setting that has been in place for decades. The measure would allow the Postal Service to enter into contracts to transport mail internationally, with U.S. airlines given preference. However, it also would establish a process through which the Postal Service could contract with a foreign air carrier if it had not received offers from at least two U.S. airlines at a “fair and reasonable price.” Currently, the Transportation Department sets rates that the Postal Service must pay to U.S. air carriers for transporting international mail, based on a methodology set in the late 1970s by the Civil Aeronautics Board, the predecessor to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Postal Service has argued that the current system results in excessive rates, impeding the U.S. operation’s ability to compete in the international airmail marketplace.
Supported H.R. 5683, which gives employees with the Government Accountability Office the same cost-of-living adjustments that other federal workers receive.
Supported H.R. 6575, legislation that directs the nation’s archivist to establish new regulations so that government agencies do not impose more restrictive classifications than particular documents deserve. The goal of this bill is to improve the sharing of information between arms of the government and comes in response to the independent September 11th commission, which suggested limiting the unnecessary classification of documents to give all agencies involved in national security more access to information about potential threats. This legislation requires random audits of information marked as classified and requires documents to identify who made the classification decision.
Supported House passage of H.R. 3032, which would allow candidates running for Federal office to designate a primary and secondary individual responsible for the disbursement of campaign funds in the event of the candidates’ death. Current law delegates this responsibility to the campaign treasurer.
Supported House passage of H.R. 6296, which would extend the authority of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to impose civil penalties on persons found in violation of FEC regulations through 2013, an authority currently set to expire this year.
Signed a discharge petition calling for H.R. 1399 to be scheduled for a House vote. This bill would prevent District of Columbia officials from enacting new laws that discourage or eliminate the private ownership or use of firearms. Last month, in D.C. v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court held that D.C.’s gun ban law violated the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. In response to that ruling, D.C. officials have sought to implement new firearm ownership restrictions. H.R. 1399 would prohibit new restrictions from becoming valid law.
Opposed H.R. 5876, which would establish a new $805 million federal bureaucracy for the regulation of residential youth programs (privately-run boot camps), which are currently overseen by state agencies. H.R. 5876 requires programs to meet minimum federal mandates and authorizes citizens to seek relief in a U.S. district court for harm for any violation of the established standards.
Supported House passage of H.R. 5687, the Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2008. This legislation would require that appointments to advisory committees be made without regard to political affiliation. However, the bill would also require that appointees complete a conflict of interest form, and requires that agency heads ensure no one is appointed to an advisory committee who has a relevant conflict of interest.
Supported passage of H.Res. 1283, a resolution expressing sympathy for the victims of the tornado that hit Little Sioux, Iowa, on June 11, 2008. The tornado took the lives of four young Boy Scouts and injured 43 others when it struck the Little Sioux Boy Scout Ranch. The resolution also expresses gratitude to the officials, first responders, and medical teams for their efforts to respond quickly and treat the victims.
Supported House Passage of H.R. 5781, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2008, which would provide four weeks of paid paternity/maternity leave following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child for government employees. Current law allows for 12 weeks of unpaid paternity/maternity leave. In a recent study by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, nearly 75% of Fortune 100 companies were identified as offering an average of 6-8 weeks of paid maternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child, with 25% offering this same benefit to fathers. In contrast, the only current way for federal employees to have paid parental leave is to use accrued sick and vacation days.
Voted to amend H.R. 5781, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2008, so that deadbeat dads could not receive paid parental leave. The provision would prohibit fathers who are not compliant with court ordered child support from receiving the paid parental leave benefits. The motion failed by a vote of 206-220.
Supported H.Res. 1219, a resolution celebrating the American flag and supporting National Flag Day. Flag Day is celebrated annually on the anniversary of the official adoption of the flag by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, to honor the flag which stands as a symbol of our great nation and its ideals.
Supported H.Res. 1237, a resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day, which commemorates the official ending of slavery in the United States on June 19. While the Emancipation Proclamation officially barred slavery in the U.S. on January 1, 1863, it was not until June 19, 1865 that news of freedom spread to all states, particularly in the Southwest.
Voted in favor of H.R. 752, the Federal Electronic Equipment Donation Act of 2007. H.R. 752 would direct all federal agencies to identify surplus electronic equipment and donate that equipment to our nation’s schools, libraries and towns in need.
Supported H.R. 5787, the Federal Real Property Disposal Enhancement Act of 2008. H.R. 5787 would identify excess federal property and prepares it for sale. Prior to sale, the excess property would be made available to state and local governments and certain nonprofit institutions.
Supported H.Res. 1132, a resolution supporting Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor federal, state, and local peace officers killed or disabled in the line of duty.
Supported House passage of H.R. 3033, the Contractors and Federal Spending Accountability Act, which would require the General Services Administration to create a database that includes any final convictions against government contractors and grant recipients that resulted in a penalty of more than $5,000. The database would be public and also would contain a listing of all federal grants or contract recipients along with the amount of federal funds each has received. In addition, the database created by H.R. 3033 would include information regarding current civil, criminal and administrative proceedings against federal contractors or grant recipients, giving the federal government the necessary tools to assess responsibility and risk in the contract award process.
Supported House passage of H.R. 5712, the Close the Contractor Fraud Loophole Act, which would require federal contractors to notify the Office of Inspector General when they believe they have violated criminal law or received overpayment for awarded contracts. The bill would apply to all federal contracts over $5 million that are more than 120 days in duration. H.R. 5712 would also apply to contracts both inside and outside the U.S., changing a provision published last year in Federal Acquisition Regulations, which exempted overseas contracts from fraud reporting requirements.
Supported House passage of H.R. 3928, the Government Funding Transparency Act of 2008, which would require contractors receiving more than $25 million annually from federal contracts, totaling more than 80 percent of their income, to disclose the names and salaries of the contractor’s executive officer, financial officer, the three other most highly compensated officers, and the directors. H.R. 3928 will provide the American taxpayer and Congress the necessary oversight and transparency to assess the federal contracting award process.
Supported House passage of H.R. 5489, the “Congresswoman Jo Ann S. Davis Post Office” Designation Act. This legislation would designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 6892 Main Street in Gloucester, Virginia, the “Congresswoman Jo Ann S. Davis Post Office” after the late Congresswoman Davis. Rep. Forbes, a cosponsor of the legislation, said, "Jo Ann Davis to me represented the best of what America has to offer. She was a friend of mine. I still miss her to this day. I think the district continues to miss her, and I think the country continues to miss her.”
Voted against H.Res. 895, which established an independent Office of Congressional Ethics within the House of Representatives. The panel has the authority to open investigations that could ultimately be referred to the current Ethics committee, known as the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Congressman Forbes opposed the bill because the independent panel would bring more partisanship to the ethics process without doing anything to impose punishment on law-breakers. A vote to even consider creating the panel became contentious, and House leadership decided to extend the time for the vote when they realized that a majority of members had concerns about whether the measure should be considered at all. Ultimately, the vote passed after several members switched their initial vote.
Cosponsored H.Con.Res. 286, to honor and recognize, Earl Lloyd, who broke the color-barrier in basketball by becoming the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association League in 1950.
Supported H.R. 928, the Improving Government Accountability Act, which would overhaul the inspector general system within the executive branch by limiting the allowable reasons for dismissing an inspector general, allow inspector generals to directly submit budget requests to Congress, and establish a Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
Cosponsored legislation that would modify the House Rules in order to provide greater access and more transparency to legislative proposals. This legislation would require the Clerk post an electronic “red line” edition of all bills introduced, showing how the bill proposes to modify current U.S. Code. Such a tool would provide more transparency to legislative proposals by providing a format illustrating how the proposed legislation modifies current law. The proposed rule change would require that the proposed language changes be shown so that anyone can see how the bill proposes to change the code section.
Supported H.R. 2630, the Campaign Expenditure Transparency Act, which prohibits the spouse of an individual holding federal office or the spouse of a candidate for federal office from receiving payments for services provided to a campaign committee or a leadership Political Action Committee (PAC). In addition, H.R. 2630 establishes a penalty for candidates and officeholders who violate this Act.
Supported H.R. 1239, the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2007. H.R. 1239 authorizes additional funding to carry out the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998. This program, administered by the National Park Service, coordinates preservation and education efforts nationwide, and works to integrate local historical sites, museums, and interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad into a community, regional, and national network.
Voted in favor of H.R. 2316, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. This legislation, the "lobbying reform" bill, would require registered lobbyists to file quarterly disclosure reports on all lobbying activities and federal election-related political contributions. These reports would be maintained in an electronic database available to the public free of charge and searchable over the Internet. In addition, this legislation would increase penalties for failure to comply with lobbying disclosure requirements.
Voted in favor of H.R. 2317, the Lobbying Transparency Act of 2007, which would require all lobbyists who bundle two or more contributions to a candidate for federal elected office, an individual holding federal office, a political party committee or a leadership political action committee (PAC), each quarter to file a quarterly report with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives.
Voted in favor of H.R. 1362, the Accountability in Contracting Act, which would require federal agencies to limit the use of abuse-prone government contracts during situations such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This legislation would instruct federal agencies to minimize the use of contracts that do not contain cost estimates, and to promote the use of cost-effective, fixed-price contracts. It also requires agencies to report to Congress on contracts that go over their original budget.
Cosponsored H.Res. 231, which would require that all House Committee votes be posted on official Committee websites. Posting these votes on official Committee websites will encourage transparency and make it easier for constituents to see how their Representative voted during this important step in the legislative process.
Attended the President's annual State of the Union Address.
Commented on the State of the Union Address:
Cosponsored the Federal Customer Service Enhancement Act, H.R. 404. This bill would set higher standards for government agencies in their performance in customer service. Currently, U.S. law does not provide for customer service standards and performance measures for federal agencies. This legislation would create a standard for agencies, holding them accountable for the service they provide to the nation's citizens.
Cosponsored The Pledge Protection Act, H.R. 699, which protects our Pledge of Allegiance by preventing judges and lawyers from questioning the constitutionality of the phrase "under God," as well as stopping those who would like federal courts to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from schools because it mentions "One nation, under God."