July 18, 2008 | Click here to send an email.
Trusting American Innovation

Many may not remember reading about Andrew Higgins in their high school history books. Young Higgins owned a lumber business in the 1930s, and eventually worked to establish his own shipyard where he built light, shallow draft boats out of southern pine and cypress wood. Higgins was confident in his unique design and just before World War II, Higgins boldly shared his concept that the United States would benefit from lighter, personal boats if they ever wanted to effectively invade by open shore. The U.S. Navy resisted the idea at first, but under looming circumstances, Higgins’ design eventually won out.

From the humble beginnings of Higgins’ boat company came the LCVP boat, the landing craft used by Allied soldiers to invade Omaha Beach on D-Day and now famously pictured in history books across the country. Higgins’ company produced nearly 20,000 boats for the war effort. The boats, nicknamed “Higgins boats,” gave the military the ability to transport thousands of soldiers and supplies to the open shore where there was no established harbor. After the war had ended, President Eisenhower shook Andrew Higgins hand and called him “the man who won the war for us.” You see, if it hadn’t been for Higgins’ innovation, our military could not have landed on an open beach, and the strategy of the war would have been drastically different.

Time and time again throughout our nation’s history we see examples of times when American innovation helped us as a nation to reach important milestones or national challenges. From the Manhattan Project where we created the atomic bomb, to the Apollo program where we put a man on the moon, we have constant reminders that Americans respond best to challenges that seem unattainable. By pure vision and a can-do spirit, American innovation almost always wins out.

Today, I continue to believe in the American spirit of innovation and its ability to bring us out of national challenges. We just have to have a unified goal to work towards. We face an energy challenge that is arguably one of the biggest issues to face our nation this decade, perhaps in the next quarter century. Our energy dependence doesn’t just impact the price at the pump - it impacts our economy at large, our environment, and our national security. And it will continue to be a national challenge if we don’t match it with a national-size solution.

About a month ago, I introduced a New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence, an initiative that bets on American innovation. It lays out a challenge to the American people to reach 50% energy independence in 10 years and 100% energy independence in 20 years, and offers prizes to any individual or entity who can reach one of seven bold energy goals. No prizes are awarded unless the goals are met, and it relies on American scientists, researchers and students – not the federal government – to come up with solutions to our energy challenge. Perhaps one of the most exciting things about the New Manhattan Project is that it will energize a whole new generation of young people who will step up to the plate in field of math and science, ready to tackle one of the most critical issues to face our nation.

Some may look at our national challenges and ask why we don’t just have the federal government do it all. Unfortunately, the federal government doesn’t have a very good track record in innovative solutions that work. We shouldn’t put our entire energy future in the hands of the bureaucrats responsible for disaster relief to Hurricane Katrina or who attempt to control our border. Perhaps it is time to form a larger partnership and put both government and the private sector to work building our energy future and bringing America’s competitiveness back where it belongs.

When we trust Americans to do what they do best - create new and imaginative ways to address our national challenges - the results are usually triumphant. Just like with Andrew Higgins and his wooden boats, sometimes it’s an idea that nobody in Washington thought of that ends up carrying the day. And maybe one day in our future, our president will shake the hand of a young innovator and say to that person “so you are the person who won energy independence for us.” If we don’t give American innovation a shot, our results may be drastically different.




Traveling Abroad? Use these tips

If you are planning on taking a trip abroad this summer, there are a few things you should do to ensure your family has a relaxing, safe, and stress-free vacation once overseas. Consider the following tips and information from the State Department before traveling overseas.

Register so the State Department can better assist you in an emergency
Register your travel plans with the State Department through a free online service at https://travelregistration.state.gov. This will help the State Department contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where you are traveling.

Sign your passport and fill in the emergency information
Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required. Fill in the emergency information page of your passport.

Leave copies of itinerary and passport data page
Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page, and visas with family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Check your overseas medical insurance coverage
Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.

Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime
To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money (use an ATM card to withdraw money abroad). Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers.

Contact the State Department in an emergency
Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov. Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.

Learn everything you can about the country you are visiting
Travelers should familiarize themselves with their destinations, both to get the most enjoyment out of the visit and to avoid known dangers. Country specific information, travel warnings and travel alerts are accessible through the State Department's travel information website at http://www.travel.state.gov.

For more tips and information on traveling abroad, watch a clip from our television show, The Washington Review.

Additional Information:

 More Tips from the State Department
International travel updates
 How to replace your passport



College Budget Calculator


Is someone in your family preparing to leave for college in the fall? Use this college budget calculator from Federal Student Aid to determine expenses and estimate total available income for the year.

Follow this link to go.



Bringing Health Care Into the 21st Century


Listen to Congressman Forbes discuss how we can bring health care into the 21st century.

Follow this link to listen.



Find Out What Happened Today in History


The Library of Congress hosts a "Today in History" website with photographs, documents, and stories from milestone events in our nation's history.

Follow this link to find out.



Other News

Jul 10, 2008 Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) and the M&S Caucus Announce the Third Annual Capitol Hill Modeling & Simulation Expo

Jun 26, 2008 Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) Announces 2008 Congressional Arts Competition Winner

Jun 26, 2008 Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04)
 Announces Veterans Clinic Planned for Emporia


Congressman Forbes speaks at the Third Annual Modeling and Simulation Expo on Capitol Hill.

Congressman Forbes at a House Armed Services Committee Hearing on China.
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