Washington Update

Congressman J. Randy Forbes, Virginia's Fourth Congressional District

Week of June 16 - 20, 2008


Energy and Gas Prices

ü Appeared live on CNN to discuss his New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence, H.R. 6260.  This bill challenges the United States to achieve 50 percent energy independence in 10 years and 100 percent energy independence in 20 years. To achieve this goal, the New Manhattan Project will bring together the best and brightest scientists in our nation in a competitive format to effectively research one of seven established energy goals and will award significant prizes to any group, school, team, or company who accomplishes each goal. 

ü Delivered a speech before the House of Representatives on The New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence, H.R. 6260.  In this speech, Congressman Forbes outlined his bold new plan to help the U.S. achieve energy 100 percent energy independence in 20 years by establishing a commission that will bring together the best and brightest scientists in our nation, and awarding major prizes to any American who can achieve one of seven established energy goals in the areas of alternative fuel vehicles, green buildings, solar power, biofuels, carbon sequestration, nuclear waste, and nuclear fusion.  He also highlighted the historical significance of such an endeavor, explaining the need for a new national challenge in the face of our increasing dependence on foreign oil, and the need for both short- and long-term solutions to high gas prices.



ü Supported Amendment #2 to H.R. 2642, the Supplemental Appropriations Bill of 2008.  This amendment expanded GI bill veterans’ education benefits to provide tuition sufficient to cover the cost of a four year college for members of the Armed Forces who served on active duty after September 11, 2001 for at least three years.  Additionally, the amendment permits these education benefits to be transferred to spouses and dependents.  The measure also included a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance for all states, and postponed six Medicaid regulations proposed by the Bush Administration.   

ü Supported the Senate Amendments to H.R. 634, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act.  This bill would require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of veterans who became disabled while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

ü Supported S. 1692, to grant a Federal Charter to the Korean War Veterans Association, Incorporated.  This bill will give nonprofit status to an organization that is dedicated to serving the interests of veterans of the Korean War.  





ü Supported Amendment #1 to H.R. 2642, the Supplemental Appropriations Bill of 2008.  This bill provides funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through June 2009.  The bill includes $210 million for day care centers on military posts across the country, including one at Fort Lee, Virginia.  The measure also provides the remaining funding to complete the Fiscal Year 2008 Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) construction.  More than $400 million of construction is ongoing or planned at Fort Lee, Virginia as a result of the 2005 BRAC round.  The bill also includes $200 million in new barracks for soldiers and Marines that was authorized by the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee; Congressman Forbes serves as the Ranking Member of that Subcommittee.

ü Wrote a letter to President Bush to caution the Administration on signing any agreement with the Iraqi government that would require U.S. troops to seek permission from the Iraqi government to accomplish their mission.  Congressman Forbes also recommended that the Administration be prepared to leave Iraq in case the Iraqis refuse to sign a new legal mandate for the presence of U.S. troops, or in case they refuse to provide full legal protections for U.S. troops to defend themselves and accomplish their mission.  The current legal authority for U.S. troops expires on December 31, 2008.

ü Joined in sending a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting they follow the lead of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) to accelerate the number of submarines the Navy will purchase in 2010 and 2011 from one submarine to two submarines.  Congressman Forbes and other members of the HASC offered a series of amendments to increase the number of submarines in the annual defense policy bill.  The Navy is expected to face a shortfall in its requirement of 48 submarines as the older Los Angeles class submarines are retired and replaced by the new Virginia Class Submarines.  Currently, the number of submarines deployed can meet about 65% of the needs of the military commanders requests made from around the world.  Submarines are built exclusively in Groton, Connecticut, and Newport News, Virginia.



Homeland Security

ü Voted to support H.R. 6304, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Amendment Act of 2008.  Congressman Forbes said the following on the House floor: “This is a bipartisan bill that we should have had a year ago…Thank goodness we have it today…Those who benefit the most will never know it because they never became victims, because we were able to stop those terrorist actions before they took place.” 

ü Supported H.R. 5909, the Catching Operational Vulnerabilities by Ensuring Random Testing (COVERT) Act of 2008.  The COVERT Act will enhance security at airports by preventing airport screeners from receiving advance notice of covert testing of security screening procedures. 

ü Supported H.R. 4749, the National Bombing Prevention Act of 2007.  This bill establishes an Office for Bombing Prevention within the Department of Homeland Security that will work to investigate, detect, deter, and protect against terrorist explosive attacks in the United States.    

üSupported H.R. 2631, the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act.  This bill urges the President to promote international agreements that will help determine the source of any confiscated nuclear material or weapon.  It also urges the development of international protocols to share sensitive information regarding confiscated nuclear materials.  



Environment and Resources

ü Cosponsored H.R. 6233, to reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  A consent decree imposed by the U.S. District Court in late April restricted public access to the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  This legislation would nullify the consent decree and allow the Interim Management Strategy to stay in place until the National Park Service completes the on-going negotiated rulemaking process and produces a final rule on off-road vehicle use.  This strategy governed off-road vehicle use on the Seashore from mid-2007 to the time the consent decree was filed in late April, and provided a balanced approach to protecting the birds, turtles and other resources, as well as providing the public with meaningful access to the beach. 

ü Supported H.Res. 1247, Supporting the goals and ideals of "American Eagle Day," and celebrating the recovery and restoration of the American bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States.




ü Voted to support H.R. 3195, the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Restoration Act of 2007 in a House Judiciary Committee markup.  This bill expands the definition of “disability” to cover those with serious health issues who did not qualify for protection under the original ADA.  Epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and severe intellectual impairment are some conditions that have received added protections under H.R. 3195.

ü Supported H.R. 3546, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Program (Byrne-JAG) in a House Judiciary Committee markup.  This bill provides federal grants to state and local law enforcement divisions to help in fighting violent crime.  These Byrne-JAG grants support drug task forces, crime victim and witness programs, prevention and education, and technology improvement initiatives.  Each state will receive a portion of the $600 million per year grant program.


Science and Technology

ü Voted to support H.R. 6063, the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2008.  This bill provides $20 billion in funding to NASA for next year.  One purpose of the bill is to shorten the anticipated gap between the retirement of the Space Shuttle and NASA’s next space crew vehicle that is currently expected to enter service in 2015.  


Foreign Affairs

ü Cosponsored H.Con. Res. 362, which expresses the sense of Congress that the threat posed to peace and stability in the Middle East by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is vital to the national security interests of the United States and must be dealt with urgently. The measure calls on the President to exercise measures to impose economic sanction upon Iran and businesses that choose to do business with Iran.  The measure is cosponsored by 169 Members of Congress.

ü Joined the Human Rights Caucus and the International Religious Freedom Task Force chaired Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia.  The Caucus and the Task Force seek to raise the awareness of human rights violations around the world and to speak up for those in countries that restrict universal human rights such as the right to worship in the way one chooses.


Government Reform

üSupported 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. 

üVoted 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.   

üSupported 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.    

üSupported 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.   



ü Voted to override the President’s Veto of H.R. 6124, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the Farm Bill).  After this bill was passed by both the House and Senate, a clerical error caused an incomplete version of the bill to be sent to the President’s desk by mistake.  The President vetoed the bill and the House voted to override the veto before the error was realized.  After the error came to light, the House and Senate subsequently passed the bill again, and the complete bill was again sent to the President.  President Bush again vetoed the bill, and Congressman Forbes again joined a majority of the House in voting to override his veto of this important legislation  Once the Senate overrides the veto, this bill will take effect and much-needed resources will begin going to America’s farming community.


For a comprehensive look at Congressman Forbes' work on legislative issues, visit the Spotlight Issues page on his website.



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About Washington Update

Washington Update serves as a resource to the constituents of the Fourth Congressional District of Virginia on the work of Congressman Forbes. It is published weekly while Congress is in session.
Hyperlinks to bill information are provided if the information disseminated by the House of Representatives is available at the time of distribution.


As always, Congressman Forbes welcomes your comments. To share your thoughts on legislation, votes or issues, please visit http://randyforbes.house.gov to send an e-mail or call any of Congressman Forbes' three district offices. 


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