What Americans Can Learn from the Preamble
By Congressman Randy Forbes
June 13, 2016
Today, there is a lot we can learn when we look at our nation through the lens of the Preamble. Here's a look at each phrase of the Preamble and the important message it sends to our nation today.
"We the People of the United States," The Preamble begins with a radical departure from the way government typically operated. At the time, most governments were headed by a monarch. In stark contrast, the Preamble introduces a government ruled of the people, by the people, and for the people -- declaring that concept as the foundation for the rest of the document. Today, it reminds us of the exceptional nature of our government structure. It reminds us that it isn't government that will sustain us. It is our people, because America is rooted in the rights of the individual.
"in Order to form a more perfect Union," America has never been perfect, but she has always been great. Our greatness comes, in part, from continuously striving to be better. The Preamble reminds us that our eyes should always be set upon making our nation as perfect as it can be. The direction of our nation tomorrow is dependent upon our ability to make difficult choices today, as well as posturing ourselves in a place of humility, acknowledging that we are always growing and learning, and that we can always do better.
"establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,” These ideas introduced a shift in concept, from a rule of power to a rule of law: we who are governed by the law are both subject to it and protected by it. The Preamble reminds us that the rule of law and domestic tranquility are interconnected. The rule of law is a guardian thread running through every fiber of our government structure. Today, we must do our best to commit to the Rule of Law, for it is a necessary condition for justice and liberty to work and for tranquility to exist in our nation.
"provide for the common defence," The freedoms and comforts we enjoy exist largely because our nation has placed great priority on a dedication to a well-guarded peace. The freedoms we enjoy are enviable to some and threatening to others. There will always be individuals who want to take them from us. The Preamble reminds us that to lack vigilance in our investment in our national defense fails a central tenet of our Constitutional duty. We cannot afford to cheapen our national defense. Today, more than ever, it is important that we ensure our men and women in uniform are the best-equipped, best trained in the world.
"promote the general Welfare,” The Preamble reminds us that the government's role in protecting the well-being and happiness of its citizens is to preserve our nation's economic integrity, regulate commerce with foreign nations, and encourage innovation, scientific discovery, and creativity of its citizens. This phrase does not give government latitude to expand its role beyond the limits of the Constitution. Instead, it reaffirms its commitment to promoting the general welfare of every American by protecting their rights as an individual to grow a business, provide for their families, and set the nation up for success on a global stage.
"and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” Former President Ronald Reagan’s words help us to understand this phrase of the Preamble in the context of our modern world: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
Our Founders established our nation with everything we needed to protect the freedom for our citizens, but it is up to us to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our future generations."do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America." The Preamble as a whole declares our commitment, as a nation, to the Constitution, as the heartbeat of our government and the Supreme Law of the Land. As we look at the challenges we face today, let us be reminded that we have a document in front of us that serves as an incredible guide. We just have to commit to pursuing it. Read More
Why Hampton Roads Matters to National Security: A Primer
By Congressman Randy Forbes
June 10, 2016
82,000. That’s the number of military personnel – from all military services – who call the Hampton Roads region home. This comprises one of the highest concentrations in the entire country, with another 43,600 civilian employees of the Department of Defense and thousands more civilians performing more than $8 billion in DoD contracts. These are impressive numbers, and I believe they demonstrate an important truth: not only does Hampton Roads need a strong defense, a strong defense needs Hampton Roads.
What exactly does this military presence mean for our region? Why does it play such a crucial role in America’s national security? Here is what you need to know about defense in Hampton Roads:
What makes Hampton Roads unique?
Hampton Roads itself is one of the best natural harbors on the East Coast. It never freezes, it is relatively protected from hurricanes, it boasts of a 50-foot deep channel (allowing large ships to maneuver through), and there are no bridges that could block access.
On top of that, Hampton Roads is home to the only shipyard that can build and overhaul nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. It has one of only two shipyards in the entire country that can build nuclear-powered submarines. And three out of the nation’s five dry docks that are capable of accommodating a 1,000 foot aircraft carrier are located in this region.
What are the key military installations in Hampton Roads and what do they do?
Hampton Roads and the surrounding region comprise some of our nation’s most important military assets and installations. Here are some of the unique capabilities they contribute to our national defense:
•Naval Station Norfolk is the largest naval base in the entire world and the home port of four U.S. Navy carrier strike groups.
How many ships are in Hampton Roads?
Hampton Roads is especially important to our Navy as the base for a large portion of the fleet and a place where everything comes together before our forces deploy overseas. It is currently home to 4 of our 9 carrier strike groups, 3 of our 9 amphibious ready groups, and over one third of our destroyers and cruisers. Today, there are a total of 65 Navy ships homeported at Norfolk and Little Creek. Over the next five years, the Navy plans to increase the total to 69, but I am committed to growing the fleet even more.
What do the shipbuilding and ship repair industries do for our economy?
Hampton Roads employs roughly one fifth of the nation’s shipbuilders, while thousands of smaller businesses in Hampton Roads support the ship repair industry. This has huge ramifications for our economy, which is why I’ve worked to fully fund Navy ship repairand pushed the Navy to accelerate maintenance and modernization work to better sustain the ship repair sector in 2016 and beyond.
What does this military presence mean for Hampton Roads as a whole?
11.8% of Virginia’s GDP is reliant on military spending—the highest percentage in the nation. Hampton Roads’ reliance is higher still, with 39% of the economy and 36% of jobs in the area supported by the military.
How does your role in Congress impact the region?
Protecting national security and fighting for the men and women who support our nation’s security are my top priorities in Congress -- it is not only a duty, but a privilege, to do so. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, it’s my job to oversee key Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force programs, including Navy force structure and shipbuilding, that are critical to Hampton Roads. I’ve worked to prevent this Administration from mothballing large portions of our cruiser fleet and led the charge to stop the relocation of an aircraft carrier from Norfolk to Florida – preserving thousands of jobs and millions in economic activity for Hampton Roads.
As a Subcommittee Chairman, I write large sections of the annual defense policy. This bill guides the direction of the entire Department of Defense and is the only bill in Congress to be consistently passed in a timely fashion by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote year after year. Just last month, the Seapower legislation I authored passed the House as part of this bill. My legislation authorizes the highest levels of shipbuilding funding since the Reagan era, protects 1/12th of the Navy Fleet from inactivation, stops the Administration plan to scrap 1 out of 10 Carrier Air Wings, and represents a “down payment” on the 350 ship Navy our national security needs.
Finally, part of my job as a representative of Hampton Roads is to ensure that the military federal facilities in our area are protected from closure under the Base Realignment and Closure process (or BRAC), and to advocate for bringing more military missions to our region. Earlier this year, for example, I led 18 Senators and Members of Congress from Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware in advocating for basing the Navy’s new MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle at Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore. Wallops Island is one of many federal facilities in our area that has room to grow, and basing Navy aircraft there would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity.
Virginia has a proud tradition of supporting our country’s national security, and Hampton Roads in particular plays a key role in resourcing, strengthening, and equipping our military. Looking ahead, I am confident that our future will be defined by our commitment to our servicemembers and our national security, and by our ability to empower our region to keep leading the nation in ensuring a strong defense and a secure America.
Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Award Ceremony
Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released the following statement in response to the U.S. State Department’s admission that Administration officials deleted footage from a 2013 press briefing that undermined the Administration's narrative about the Iran nuclear deal:
“The State Department’s stunning admission provides further evidence of how far this Administration is willing to go to sell its policies to the American people. Coming after Ben Rhodes boasted about his success in spinning the media, this incident makes it clear that the White House has been waging what is in effect a coordinated propaganda campaign to conceal the true nature of its dangerous deal with Tehran. It's apparent, from these revelations and from the weak response to Iran's capture of 10 U.S. Navy sailors and other provocations in the Gulf, that there is very little this Administration won't do to keep that ill-advised deal alive."
Forbes opposed the Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran and recently authored legislation (H.Res. 709) condemning the actions of Iranian military and paramilitary forces in the Arabian Gulf as a violation of international law and stating that Congress will consider the behavior of Iran's forces in the Gulf when voting on sanctions legislation pertaining to Iran. The bill urges the Administration to respond strongly to past and future instances of dangerous and unprofessional behavior by Iranian forces.
On the Thursday evening before Memorial Day, every available soldier in the U.S. Army’s Old Guard comes together to walk the rows of more than 228,000 headstones in Arlington National Cemetery. With careful precision, they place an American flag one foot in front of each grave marker. For the duration of the weekend, the Old Guard stays in the cemetery, ensuring a flag remains in front of each grave marker.
This tradition called “Flags In” has been conducted every year since 1948. The flags add color and a sort of hope to the otherwise subdued white grave markers. But it’s more than a colorful display of patriotism. It is 228,000 distinct reminders of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
The First Amendment of our Constitution outlines some of those freedoms that our Founding Fathers saw as inherent to our DNA as a nation. The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In other words, the First Amendment expresses freedoms that are at the core of liberty. The First Amendment outlines inalienable rights, and seeks to protect those rights for every citizen in the United States.
We enjoy these freedoms every day. We enjoy them when we attend church, write a letter to the editor expressing a disagreement with a government policy, or sign a petition expressing support for some effort of community betterment. But these freedoms don’t come free. They came – and continue to come – at a very high price.
Each Memorial Day, the significance of the First Amendment is not lost on me. Those 228,000 flags on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery remind us of who won these freedoms for us. Yet, the grave markers at Arlington are only a small representation of the thousands and thousands of veterans’ grave markers that exist across this nation.
Memorial Day is special, not just simply because we recognize those who paid, as President Lincoln said so eloquently, “the last full measure of devotion” for their country. Memorial Day is special because it is a reminder of the very high cost at which our rights come.
Our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors for the liberties expressed in the First Amendment. And every year since the Declaration of Independence was signed, men and women in our Armed Forces have stepped forward to pledge their own lives and sacred honors for the continuity of those liberties.
The freedom we have to express our religious values? We owe gratitude to our men and women in uniform.
Our freedom to express our opinions publicly? The simple act of picking up a newspaper or choosing where we consume our news? We can thank military service members.
The freedom to peaceably assemble? We enjoy this right because of those who served.
This is precisely why so many of us are troubled at continued efforts by a small minority to water down the rights expressed in the First Amendment. It is troubling because those who seek to water down these First Amendment rights seem to forget the sacrifices that paid for those freedoms. Yet, the two cannot be separated because one exists at the protection of the other.
Walking among the rows of white tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery, I can’t help but think of the words by veteran and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “At the grave of a hero we end, not with sorrow at the inevitable loss, but with the contagion of his courage; and with a kind of desperate joy we go back to the fight.”
Let’s not give up the fight for these liberties. We owe it to those we remember this weekend. Those who have fought for and protected – in blood, lives, and sacrifice – the freedoms we enjoy every day.
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Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes is pleased to announce that this year’s Congressional Arts Competition winner, representing Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District, is Heather Danet. Heather, currently a junior, attends Colonial Heights High School in Colonial Heights, Virginia. Heather chose to create her incredibly detailed piece of art by only using a pencil. Her work depicts a globe, book, and a set of keys.
“Talented high school students from across the district submitted artwork for this year’s Congressional Arts Competition,” Congressman Forbes said. “It was wonderful to get to see each of their creativity and skill expressed through their art. A special congratulations to Heather for her achievement; we are proud to have your artwork representing the Fourth District in the tunnel to the U.S. Capitol this year.”
Heather has been invited to come to D.C. and join Congressman Forbes for an unveiling ceremony and reception in June. Her artwork, along with the other winning pieces from across the country, will be proudly displayed in the Cannon Tunnel, where hundreds of visitors, staffers, and Members of Congress pass through every day as they make their way to the U.S. Capitol.
For more information about the Congressional Arts Competition, please visit Congressman Forbes’ website at http://www.forbes.house.gov/ConstituentServices/artscompetition.htm..
Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman J. Randy Forbes announced that he has been named “Hero of Main Street” by the National Retail Federation (NRF), in recognition of his unwavering dedication to the small business community and American entrepreneurs across Virginia and the United States.
“Congressman Randy Forbes has shown through his support that he cares about retailers big and small, and values the role these businesses play in communities across the country,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Congressman Forbes is an advocate for his thriving Main Street and to the long-term growth the retail industry -- our nation’s largest job creators and the catalyst for continued growth and opportunity for our nation’s economy.”
“Main Street, not Wall Street, is where you find both the heart of America and the engine that drives our economy,” said Congressman Forbes. “Washington needs to be reminded that bureaucrats don’t create jobs – small businesses do. Our job in Congress is to rein in the costly and often unnecessary regulations that are crushing our job creators, and ensure government serves as an enabler – not a barrier – to business growth.”
The “Hero of Main Street” award recognizes Members of Congress who demonstrate a consistent commitment to economic growth and pro-small business policy initiatives, through their votes on key issues including trade, tax reform, and healthcare reform. Congressman Forbes has served as an outspoken advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, supporting key legislation such as the REINS Act (H.R. 427) and ALERT Act (H.R. 1759), to protect businesses from overregulation and introduce accountability into Washington’s regulatory system.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods, and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. For more information, visit www.nrf.com.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, will chair a bipartisan, joint hearing with the Subcommittee on Readiness entitled “Navy Force Structure and Readiness: Perspectives from the Fleet” on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 10:00 AM. The hearing follows a Monday listening session onboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and will be attended by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry.
The impact of a shrinking fleet on operational tempo. Over the last three administrations, our Navy has shrunk by 40%, but the number of ship deployments the fleet is conducting has only gone down by 9%. This means our ships and our sailors are being worked harder to provide presence and combat power. (Source: U.S. Navy: FY17 Budget Press Brief).
The impact of extended deployments on the fleet. The length of an average deployment has gone up 32%, from 5.5 to 7 months. Some ships have deployed for 10-plus months. This increases strain on Navy ships, sailors, and families. (Source: U.S. Navy: FY17 Budget Press Brief).
The Navy’s inability to meet combatant commanders’ requirements. America’s Navy can meet less than half of the demand for ships from our commanders around the globe. (According to the Navy, “In FY17, Navy will source approximately 42% of all Combatant Commander (CCDR) demand for major afloat force elements.” (Source: U.S. Navy response to request for information).
The Navy’s insufficient “surge” capacity. The United States can only sustain 3 of the 5 carriers that would be needed in the event of a major conflict. (Source: HASC Hearing on Aircraft Carrier Presence and Surge Limitations)
The health of our strike fighter fleet. Only 1 in 4 Navy strike fighters are ready for combat, while more than half of our “legacy” Hornets are grounded due to a shortage of parts and maintenance. (According to the Navy, 24.5% of F/A-18s are “fully mission capable” in 2016, while 51% of F/A-18 A-Ds are “Out Of Reporting” in 2016 Source: Navy Aviation Maintenance/Supply Readiness Reporting).
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2135 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Placed prominently on the wall of Congressman Randy Forbes’ Washington office is a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence surrounded by portraits of the fifty-six founding fathers who signed the document asserting our nation’s freedom. Frequently when Randy is in our nation’s capital, he can be found personally escorting constituents through his office to tell the story of how this powerful document and its signatories serve as reminder of the sacrifices that were made during birth of our nation and the weight of responsibility on elected officials to preserve the freedom for which so many have fought and died.
Since his constituents elected him to Congress in 2001, one of Randy’s key priorities has been to protect and defend our nation. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Randy is responsible for the research, development, acquisition, and sustainment of Navy and Marine Corps programs as well as the Air Force’s bomber and tanker fleets. Randy’s position is central in developing the nation’s long-term strategies to meet our future security needs. As a result of his work on behalf of our military, in 2009, Randy became one of only a few individuals to have been honored with the highest civilian award offered by both the United States Army and the United States Navy.
In a time of broken government and stale ideas, Randy has focused on legislative solutions that have proven to be refreshing alternative to the status quo. His much-hailed New Manhattan Project for Energy led the Wall Street Journal to ask: “Why is Randy Forbes all alone? … The surprising thing is that there aren’t 100 Randy Forbes out there, issuing similar calls to arms to seize this moment and finally cure the country’s oil addiction.” The Virginian Pilot, similarly, commented: “Outrage won’t solve the nation’s energy troubles, or safeguard jobs. For that, you need something else, something Forbes is displaying: Leadership.”
Randy has rejected Washington political rhetoric and has instead focused on solutions-based leadership to tackle issues such as economic recovery, health care, tax reform and government spending. In health care, Randy has introduced proposals to protect seniors and individuals with preexisting conditions from health insurance cancellation, to harness the potential in ethical stem-cell research, and to double the investment the federal government is making in research to cure diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. His work has earned him the award, “Guardian of Seniors’ Rights.” In addition, Randy has introduced legislation to improve efficiency in government agencies, and he has been named a “Hero of Taxpayers”. Instead of abandoning sound fiscal policy in the face of economic challenge, Randy was one of only 17 Members of Congress to vote against each stimulus and bailout package under both the Bush and Obama Administrations.
Randy founded and chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus and has led this group of bipartisan Members in national efforts to protect prayer and our nation’s spiritual history. He is known as a skilled orator on the Judiciary Committee and, as the former Ranking Member of the Crime Subcommittee, Randy is often called upon to lead the debate on national issues such as gang crime or immigration reform. As founder and chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, Randy has introduced legislation to combat Chinese espionage and is frequently tapped as a national commentator on Sino-American relations. Groups as diverse as the US Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, the National Taxpayers Union, and the American Farm Bureau Federation have all recognized the work Randy has done in Congress – a testament to Randy’s independent problem-solving and focus on bipartisan solutions.
While Randy’s legislative proposals have received significant national and local attention, Randy’s commitment to improving quality of life for his constituents has been the hallmark of his career in Congress. Randy places a high-priority on partnering with community leaders and elected officials of all political persuasions to bring about greater economic prosperity, increased educational opportunities, safer communities, and improved local transportation and infrastructure for the Fourth District. His work to position Fort Lee through the last BRAC round led to the arrival of nearly 12,000 jobs in the Chesterfield/Tri-Cities area and his work as founder and chairman of the Congressional Modeling & Simulation Caucus has elevated Hampton Roads as a premier destination for high-paying tech jobs.
Working in Washington has not changed Randy’s enthusiasm for serving those that elected him. Richmond Times Dispatch noted Randy has “earned a reputation for constituent service” for his ability to cut through red tape and for his unparalleled constituent communications. Randy publishes a weekly email newsletter with over 85,000 subscribers that includes commentary and as well as factual information on the issues before Congress.
Randy has long worked under the belief that transparency is a key condition of good government. In addition to his unparalleled work to inform and solicit input from his constituents, Randy was one of the first members of Congress to publish appropriations requests to his website, causing the Richmond Times Dispatch to call him, “an admirable example for openness.” His website was selected by the Congressional Management Foundation as one of the best websites in Congress and was specifically commended for offering constituents a “clear understanding of his work in Congress”.
A life-long resident of Virginia, Randy began his career in private law practice helping small and medium-sized businesses and ultimately became a partner in the largest law firm in southeastern Virginia. From 1989-2001, he served the Commonwealth of Virginia in the General Assembly. As a member of the House of Delegates, he served 7 years, quickly establishing himself and serving as the Floor Leader until his election to the State Senate in 1997. One year later, he became the Senate Floor Leader. He served in the State Senate for 3 1/2 years, until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Randy graduated from Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake in 1970. He was valedictorian of his 1974 class at Randolph-Macon College. In 1977, Randy graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Randy attends Great Bridge Baptist Church, where he has taught adult Sunday school for over 20 years. He was born and raised in Chesapeake, Virginia where he still resides with his wife Shirley. He and Shirley have been married since 1978 and have four children: Neil, Jamie, Jordan, and Justin.
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Regardless of the cause of this crash-- we need to be better equipping our men & women in uniform so they can keep us safe & come home safe.
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Our pilots aren't getting the flying time they need to build their skills.
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Only 1 in 4 Navy fighters is ready for combat. Of our older strike fighters, 1 in 2 is grounded due to a shortage of parts and maintenance.
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In a hearing on Navy readiness challenges right now, as we learn this news. Pilots are being flown to the hospital. https://t.co/hVksLfxln0
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Reports of rescue crews responding to Navy helicopter crash near James River Bridge -- prayers for all involved.
Too many veterans are still waiting for the care and benefits they have earned and deserve. We have to continue to find ways – not only to
As Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, I recently authored legislation to stop the Administration’s plan to scrap
Proud to be an American. Honor the United States flag. #FlagDay