When I first came to Washington, I kept finding myself getting turned around while driving my car through the unfamiliar city. There are a lot of one-way roads, street names that change based on quadrants, and the city is laid out in a spoke-and-wheel system, rather than a typical grid system. The roundabouts and diagonal streets were a far cry from the rural roads I grew up on in Hampton Roads.
I remember a friend once telling me a story about getting lost in Washington, DC. His trick was to look for the Washington Monument. The marble obelisk towers over all other buildings around it, and it can be seen from many places in the city. So no matter how turned around you get, you can look for the Washington Monument and you know where you are. It serves as a 555-foot compass.
Like the Washington Monument, many of us have something that serves as a compass in our lives. I keep a prayer hanging in a large frame in my Congressional office: “Our Father in Heaven, save us from the conceit which refuses to believe that God knows more about government than we do, and deliver us from the stubbornness that will not seek God's help,” the prayer reads.
That prayer – and ultimately my faith – is a compass for me. No matter what happens, my faith serves as an unwavering guide that both centers me and directs my decisions.
These days, I hear more and more often from people who say they have lost trust in government and become disheartened. It’s not hard to see why. We have only to flip on the news to witness an increasingly divided nation, polarized on almost every issue. Uncertainty hangs in the air. Lack of trust creates room for fear – something I sense increasingly in our nation today. We’re facing challenges of a magnitude we have not seen in many years.
And in the middle of the unknown territory that lies ahead is the great question of our time: where will our nation find our compass? What will we tether our future to in order to find our true position and see the way forward?
There are some who believe we will find the answers in a particular leader. Others believe we will find the answer in new government programs or in more regulation. Some say the compass is on the left. Others say it is on the right. While all these things can affect our trajectory as a nation, whether positively or negatively, none of them will innately show us our true north.
But like the Washington Monument, there is a guide that stands above the rest.
Over 200 years ago, our Founding Fathers had a vision for a nation free from the tyranny of England. They had no reasonable expectation of success – they only had a dream. And out of that dream -- despite the overwhelming chance of failure, personal ruin, even death -- they built a revolution. They built America.
At the core of the experiment was an exceptional combination of freedom rooted in a set of rights, endowed by the Creator, that cannot be taken away from us. These foundations lay the bedrock of liberty and freedom upon which we, as a nation, stand. They are established in the Declaration of Independence, applied in our Constitution, and echoed across the generations of Americans who have gone before us. Time and again during hardship and trials, we have looked to these truths as a guide. And we’ve always found our way forward.
Our Founders created for us a compass. Our challenges today are different, but the compass remains the same. As a nation, we may travel down different roads, and sometimes we make wrong turns. Sometimes we may find ourselves in a new place, unfamiliar territory. Sometimes we face challenges that seem impossible to surmount. But as long as we can keep our eyes fixed on the bedrock of faith and freedom that defines us as a nation, we will always find our way forward.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes was selected by the Chaplain Alliance For Religious Liberty as the 2016 recipient of the Chaplain Alliance Torchbearer Award. Forbes received this award in recognition of his bold leadership in defending the religious freedom of all military personnel through his work as Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.
“We are delighted to present our Torchbearer Award to Representative Forbes for his faithful stand to protect servicemembers’ God-given, constitutionally protected religious liberties. No American, especially those who wear the uniform, should be denied their religious liberties,” said Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USA Retired, Executive Director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
“The freedom to live out our faith is not only our unique heritage as Americans, but also a fundamental human right that is intrinsic to a free society,” said Congressman Forbes. “The men and women in uniform serving on the front lines to defend our nation should not be penalized for exercising the same freedoms they are fighting to protect. I will continue to work to defend the constitutional right of every American to practice their faith without fear of punishment by the government.”
The Torchbearer Award is awarded to individuals who have helped carry high the torch of religious liberty for all servicemembers. The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is an organization of chaplain endorsers, the faith groups that provide chaplains for the U.S. military and other agencies needing chaplains. The endorsers in the Chaplain Alliance represent more than 2,600 chaplains serving the Armed Forces.
For more information about the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, please visit their website at http://chaplainalliance.org/.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and Co-Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, issued the following statement following the ruling of the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal in favor of the Philippines in its maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea:
“Today is China’s moment to show, once and for all, the reality of its claim to be a ‘responsible stakeholder’ in the international community. Failure to fully respect the ruling of the arbitration panel would not only expose China’s belief in a ‘might makes right’ philosophy for all the world to see- it would also profoundly fray the post-1945 international order that Beijing has been chipping away at for nearly a decade. The United States must stand steadfastly on the side of international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes, and hold China to account for its behavior following this ruling.”
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Washington, D.C. –Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, issued the following statement upon release of the overdue 30 Year Shipbuilding Plan:
“This long-overdue plan is intended to provide Congress and the public with a sense of the Navy's likely future trajectory.I am concerned that despite Congress' clear intent to bend the curve lines and grow the fleet, this document still shows attack submarine production returning to a single boat in 2021, a shortfall in small surface combatants, and an eventual return to 10 carriers. All told, the plan will result in a fleet that will only meets the Navy's outdated requirement of 308 ships for 8 years, and falls far short of the larger force that the CNO and every serious naval analyst thinks we need for the future.It is also important to note that even this budget-constrained plan is predicated on a 20% increase in funding to pay for Ohio Replacement. This plan may be the best that the Navy can do under the current administration's fiscal constraints, but it clearly will not produce the fleet we need for national defense."
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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.
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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We grieve with France. We stand with France against terrorists who attack the very ideals of freedom we stand for. https://t.co/ZRh9VFTyZO
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