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, has sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work expressing his concerns with the current military-to-military relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
“Current military-to-military engagement with China appears too focused on counting the number of engagements and lacks the thorough guidance and oversight mechanisms necessary to maintain a consistent policy that best serves core U.S. objectives in the Indo-Pacific region,” Congressman Forbes said. “I believe the Department should initiate a review of its current military-to-military engagement policy with China, ideally as part of a larger review of U.S security objectives in the region.”
See text of the letter below:
December 10, 2014
The Honorable Chuck Hagel The Honorable Robert O. Work
Secretary of Defense Deputy Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon 1010 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000 Washington, DC 20301-1010
Dear Secretary Hagel and Deputy Secretary Work:
I am writing to you regarding the military relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
I have observed the U.S.-China relationship closely since I was first elected to Congress in 2001 and agree that a sustained and substantive relationship with the PRC is one of the core objectives of U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific region. The rise of the PRC presents one of the most challenging geostrategic questions of this generation, and one that the Department of Defense will play a leading role in helping to shape. I do not subscribe to an alarmist school about the emergence of a strong PRC, but I do believe China has the potential to pose the greatest challenge to the liberal-international order since the end of the Cold War. This demands continued attention, coordinated guidance, and sustained oversight across our government.
Like with the rest of our government’s policy towards China, I understand that the DoD relationship with the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is a complex one that requires a balanced set of policies. There is no denying that the possibility of conflict with China remains an impolitic subject to address. However, I believe it is the primary duty of the Pentagon to think about such possibilities and to plan for them. Doing so will only make a future crisis less likely. In addition, I recognize that the Department can work to avoid a confrontation or miscalculation by directly engaging the PLA in substantive discussion and finding areas of common interest. Mechanisms like the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), Strategic Security Dialogue (SSD), Defense Consultative Talks (DCT), and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) serve this objective well.
While these dialogues offer important venues by which our two sides exchange views on pressing security issues, I have a growing concern with the overall trajectory of the military-to-military relationship. More specifically, I believe that the Department currently lacks the thorough guidance and oversight mechanisms necessary to maintain a consistent mil-mil policy that best serves U.S. national security objectives over the ‘long-haul’ of the emerging U.S.-China peacetime competition. I am aware of multiple examples where the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Joint Staff, Service Chiefs, the Pacific Command (PACOM) Commander, or the component commands at PACOM were pursuing multiple, divergent mil-mil engagement objectives.
The criticism of mil-mil policy with China in the past was that it had become an end in itself, serving little policy outcome other than its continuation. Far more concerning, in recent years I have witnessed an overestimation of the ability of our military engagement to actually shape Beijing’s behavior in a direction favorable to U.S. interests. Rather, it is increasingly clear that Beijing's goals and interests in East Asia are in many ways inconsistent with our own. This is expected of most rising economic and military powers. However, there is no indication that more engagement has helped to shape Beijing's actions in a positive direction consistent with U.S. objectives. To the contrary, as we have increased our mil-mil engagement over the past two years, China’s actions have only turned more coercive. As our military chiefs have increased their relationships with their counterparts (individuals who can, at any time, order Chinese vessels and aircraft to stand down from taking provocative actions), reckless incidents at sea and in the air have continued to occur and China has resorted to new forms of coercion against its neighbors in the East and South China Seas.
When asked, military leaders frequently tell me they view the objective for our mil-mil relationship with China to be to 'engage the PLA as much as possible' in order to avoid a future crisis and prevent incidents at sea and in the air. I see this as a flawed approach that seeks an operational-level answer to a strategic-level problem. The expansion of activities within areas of cooperation with the PLA seems to increasingly lead to engagements that the Chinese shape to their needs and test the legal limits of our policy. Additionally, while our engagements demonstrate our military capabilities to China, enhancing our deterrent to a degree, I am concerned that they also have the potential to decrease China’s uncertainty about possible responses to their actions, which may only cause China to conclude that it can take more risks.
Instead, the first question the Department should be asking regarding each engagement is how it stands to serve America’s interest based on the context of the overall relationship. What American objective does it achieve? What are the potential negative implications? Will this engagement serve China's strategic narrative? How can it serve our own narrative? We need to move beyond generic efforts to build confidence and avoid misunderstandings and focus on exchanges that manage competition with the PRC - at the strategic level. A valuable strategic dialogue should focus on all of the most challenging aspects of our relationship - nuclear forces, offensive cyber, counterspace, escalation control, and crisis stability. To be clear, the overall quantity of engagements is not my concern. Instead, I believe we lack a clear policy framework for mil-mil engagement with the PLA that is aligned with an overarching strategy towards China.
Given the scope of U.S. security interests in the Indo-Pacific, mil-mil engagement is an area where I believe strong DoD civilian leadership is necessary to construct a detailed set of objectives, generate specific guidance and plans for pursuing these ends across DoD, and then follow-up with sustained oversight of this plan. To this end, I would respectfully request that you initiate a review of the Department’s current mil-mil engagement policy with China, ideally as part of a larger DoD review of U.S security objectives in the region.
I am in agreement with the current legal limitations guiding military engagement with China, established in the Fiscal Year 2000 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). However, as China has grown stronger and more coercive in the last 15 years, and given the concerns I have expressed above, I feel it has become necessary to review the current policies and assumptions that informed the legal limitations established in the FY2000 NDAA process. I plan to work with incoming HASC Chairman, Rep. Mac Thornberry, to proceed with an oversight effort on this topic in 2015. I look forward to working with the Department of Defense in this effort.
Thank you for your consideration of this important issue and your continued commitment to U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific region.
J. Randy Forbes
Member of Congress
When busy shopping malls were the primary way to shop during the holiday season, lines wrapped around the stores and the biggest security concern was to make sure you didn’t leave your purse or wallet unattended while you reached into your cart or put bags in your car. Now times have changed. This year, 86% of Americans said they will shop online via computer during the holiday season, and 41% will shop online via a mobile device.
Today, security breaches can happen without us even knowing. And by the time we realize a breach took place, it’s often too late – money has been taken from bank accounts and identity has been compromised, leading to a painstaking process of identity theft recovery.
A recent survey by Experian, one of three major credit bureaus, showed that consumers are on high alert regarding protecting their personal information. And they should be. Highly publicized security breaches from some big retailers have consumers on edge. Approximately 16 million people fell victim to identity theft in 2012, totaling more than $24 billion dollars in damages, according to statistics by the U.S. Department of Justice.
These attacks are criminal acts and Americans need safeguards to help prevent identity theft. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I work closely with my colleagues to ensure Americans are protected and that perpetrators of identity theft are brought to justice. This year, the House passed – with my support – the STOP Identity Theft Act, H.R. 744, to help protect taxpayers’ information from fraud. We have significant work to do moving forward. Current federal law offers some protection for victims of fraud resulting from identity or financial theft, but it is in your best interest to be proactive.
Holidays are a time of giving, but unfortunately fraudsters treat the holiday season as a time for taking. Identity and financial thieves are in greater pursuit of victims during the holidays. Here are four practical steps to take to better protect yourself:
Look for secure symbols. When shopping online, make sure you are shopping from a site that has a secure connection. There are a few ways of identifying these sites.
First, look for an https:// in the URL. This communication protocol denotes added security capabilities to prevent middle-man attacks. Next, when you are making a purchase, look for a secure lock symbol on the toolbar, which shows you that the website is encrypting your information as you submit. Most major retailers take these added security measures to keep your information safe.
Monitor your bank and credit card accounts. During the holiday season, check your accounts more often or consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service. Many banks and credit unions offer fraud alert programs that alert you when unusual activity is detected in your account. You can order a free annual credit report at: www.annualcreditreport.com.
Be vigilant when using public wifi. It is easier for identity thieves to steal information over public networks where the barrier for entry for online hackers is low. One article released last year tells the story of a hacker in a European café who, in less than 20 minutes, learned birth dates, career information, and credit card numbers for customers in the café. This level of security breach is rare, but it speaks to the amount of information available via unsecure networks and how important it is to keep information safe. First, don’t assume that public wifi is secure, even if the network requires a password to use. Then, if possible, conduct online transactions when you are on a secure network (like at home or a family member’s house), or opt to use a credit card (rather than a debit card) when using public wifi. Read more tips for using public wifi networks from onguardonline.gov.
Password protect your mobile device. This is especially true if you use mobile banking, bill pay, or other online shopping applications with sensitive and personally identifiable information.
If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, use this site from the Federal Trade Commission to find information on steps to take and sample form letters to use for victims of identity theft. I’ve also included on my website identity theft resources to provide tips for minimizing your risk and tools to resolve disputes related to identity theft.Read More
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released the following statement regarding House passage of the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“The annual defense policy bill is among Congress’ most important duties, and its passage is an important step forward for American national defense,” Congressman Forbes said. “This bill invests in critical Seapower and Projection Forces capabilities and maintains vital Navy assets like cruisers and Tomahawk missiles. I hope this legislation will receive the President’s signature as soon as possible.”
Among the areas covered by the FY15 NDAA:
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, praised the inclusion of numerous Asia-Pacific security provisions in the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, December 4, 2014:
“I am pleased that these bipartisan provisions have been included in the NDAA,” Congressman Forbes said. “This bill takes significant steps towards restoring a favorable military balance in the Asia-Pacific and strengthens cooperation with allies and partners in the region. This represents an important first step in ‘rebalancing’ the Congress toward a more active role in overseeing U.S. security interests in Asia. I also want to thank Rep. Colleen Hanabusa for her tireless work with me on these important issues over the past year.”
Asia-Pacific security provisions championed by Congressman Forbes and included in the NDAA include:
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, will chair a hearing on, “The Role of Maritime and Air Power in DoD’s Third Offset Strategy,” on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 3:30 PM.
“Congress has historically played a key role in promoting important disruptive military innovations, from the Tomahawk missile to unmanned aircraft to stealth technology,” Congressman Forbes said. “As competitors begin to seriously challenge the technological advantages we have grown accustomed to over the past generation, it is imperative that Congress work with the DoD to develop a true long-range strategy to sustain our warfighting advantages.”
WHAT: Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee hearing on, “The Role of Maritime and Air Power in DoD’s Third Offset Strategy”.
WHO: Mr. Shawn Brimley, Executive Vice President and Director of Studies, Center for a New American Security (CNAS); Mr. Andrew Hunter, Director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS); Mr. Robert Martinage, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments (CSBA); and Mr. David Ochmanek, The RAND Corporation.
WHEN: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 3:30 PM.
WHERE: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.
Last week, Americans watched as our President announced sweeping changes to our nation’s immigration system. The bottom line of his decision? Amnesty.
In a stunning example of executive overreach, the President took an action that he himself has said is one of the biggest problems facing America. “I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with [the president] trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America,” the President said in a campaign speech in 2008.
But in last week’s televised announcement of his executive action, the President brought that statement to its knees. In one 15-minute address to the nation, he went back on 22 statements he made claiming he couldn’t ignore or create his own immigration laws.
Since his announcement last week, the President has forged ahead with his executive plan for amnesty, leaving the American people – and the Constitution of the United States – in his dust.
Let me state clearly my position on immigration: No amnesty. Period. Our immigration policy must reflect our core belief that entry into the United States is not a right, but a privilege. America’s immigration laws are only as good as our commitment to enforcing them. Executive action granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants not only fails to fix the problem, it makes it worse. It undermines our current immigration policy, and will only encourage more illegal immigration.
But the uproar over the President’s decision is about more than immigration. It’s about a commitment to the Supreme Law of the Land.
American presidents swear to faithfully execute the laws of our nation. Yet, Americans have repeatedly found themselves in situations where they question whether the current President is truly upholding his end of that commitment. Each unilateral action chips away at what little trust remains in our government institutions. Our institutions, our Constitution, and our nation’s foundation are built on the rule of law. On the issue of immigration, the cornerstone to any successful plan must be the enforcement of our current immigration laws. The President’s executive actions place the integrity of those laws, as well as the integrity of our government, at stake.
American presidents, by the nature of their position, make a commitment to work through the democratic process. The President’s unilateral action to change our immigration laws is not discretion; it is a blatant disregard of the separation of powers as laid out in the Constitution. In his address to the nation Thursday night, the President criticized aspects of our democratic system. However, the very pieces of that democratic system that the President criticized – the processes of deliberation and negotiation – are set in place to prevent sweeping changes from taking place without proper debate. The goal is not obstruction. The goal is to create the best possible laws to govern our nation. Finding an agreement is never going to be easy. But our Constitution doesn’t promise easy. It only promises that there will be separation of powers, and checks and balances to protect our democracy and the American people. When the President sidesteps that process, especially out of frustration, he is pushing aside the very core tenants of our government.
American presidents are supposed to be trustworthy, even if we disagree with them. We want our presidents to rise above, but at the very least, we expect them to be honest and uphold the law. The President’s unilateral action tastes bitterly of a “my way or the highway” approach that the American people loathe and our form of government rejects.
Even as Americans are angry at the President’s blatant disregard for the law, I know it is equally frustrating for Americans who still want to know something is being done in Congress about immigration. Our immigration system is a mess. It needs to be fixed. And we have a Constitutional process for fixing it. That’s why I’ve worked with my colleagues in the House Judiciary Committee to pass meaningful reforms that focus on what must be our priority: enforcement of our immigration laws and ensuring the security of our borders.
Now in the face of the President’s executive actions on amnesty, we must pivot our attention from meaningful immigration reform to addressing his executive actions. I stand in strong support of the House Judiciary Committee in its use of every tool at its disposal to fight the Administration’s unilateral action defying the American people, their elected representatives, and the Supreme Law of the Land.
This is not a dispute between the Administration and Congress, or the President and Republicans, or between political parties; this is a dispute between the Administration and the Constitution of the United States.Read More
Congressman J. Randy Forbes, (VA04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released the following statement on the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel:
In those days, Great Bridge High School would play our rival high school, Norview, in football on the morning of Thanksgiving. This wasn’t just any football game. The Great Bridge community was smaller at the time – a rural community where most people were connected in some way to the school – so the whole town would come out for the game. Thousands of community members filled the stadium. Families stood on rooftops just to be a part of the big game.
But there was no bigger fan of that Thanksgiving football game than my grandmother. Neither a frigid weather report nor a turkey waiting in the oven could keep her away from the game. From the moment she stepped into the stadium, she was all in. Her docile, sweet spirit faded into a fully committed shouting, cheering, and hollering fan. It was her favorite way to start Thanksgiving.
I think fondly on those days when we would pack up our bags, throw on our scarves and hats, and head down the road to the football game. I am grateful for them because it is on that foundation that my love for communities grew. In that football game, I saw the unity of the Great Bridge community. I came to appreciate the energy and excitement that comes with being together.
In all the busyness of the season, what matters are those moments when we come together as neighbors and friends. As a nation and as community members, we face seasons of hardship, of shadows, of plenty, and of celebration. But on Thanksgiving, across football stadiums, cities, states, political ideologies, and family histories, we stand together and cheer. We cheer for games. We cheer for family. We cheer for accomplishments. We cheer for an enriching future and the hope of a new year.
In what ways do you appreciate being together on Thanksgiving?
For my grandmother and me, it was a high school football stadium crowded with community members.
Maybe for you it’s spending the day with others at a soup kitchen or a neighborhood outreach to serve those in our community who face great needs.
Maybe for you it’s gathering in the living room with plates full of great-grandma’s famous pumpkin pie to watch a football game on TV.
Maybe for you it’s holding the hand of a loved one in an assisted living home.
Maybe for you it’s the silly road trip games – even when you’ve played 20 questions too many times, and the license plate game is stalled at a short list of Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland.
This historical foundation of Thanksgiving is based on togetherness and gratitude.
Whatever it is for you, these moments unite us. They remind us, in small and big ways, what it means to be together. As we approach Thanksgiving, I’d like to hear how you come together with your family or your community over the holiday. Share it with us on Facebook at facebook.com/randyforbes using #MyThanksgiving.Read More
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2014 Report to Congress:
“The USCC report is unambiguous about China’s continued efforts to alter the military balance in the Asia-Pacific region in its favor,” Congressman Forbes said. “Whether advanced, long-range missiles, a sophisticated space and cyberspace capability, or a growing investment in undersea warfare, Beijing is matching its military capabilities with an aggressive regional posture that worries its neighbors and calls into question the stability of East Asia. The United States must endeavor to sustain the military balance in our favor, uphold the regional rules-based order, and reassure our friends and allies in the region that our commitment is unwavering.”
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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No words to describe the horrific act of the Taliban, killing over 100 children &teachers. Prayers from around the world are w/ the families
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Congratulations to Hopewell high DECA students for their victories at the State Fair this year http://t.co/OQTDXPfhBC
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Congrats to the Powhatan County School District for being honored w/ placement on 5th annual AP District Honor Roll http://t.co/AL2YYtWRjS
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Today take a moment to pay tribute to those who dedicate their lives to serving our country. Remember Pearl Harbor http://t.co/4MjkjMlTUe
No words to describe the horrific act committed by the Taliban, who took the lives of over one hundred innocent children and teachers. Prayers
ACTION ALERT: Just cosponsored a new anti-amnesty amendment to defund the Administration's executive amnesty. Learn more below:
Congratulations to Hopewell high DECA students for their victories at the State Fair this year.
Congratulations to the Powhatan County School District for being one of only six school districts in Virginia honored by the College Board with
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