Washington, DC -- Senator James Lankford (OK) and Rep. J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, seeking answers as to why Bibles have been removed from Missing Man Table displays at multiple Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics around the country, including in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio and Houston, Texas.
“We have been informed that Bibles as part of Missing Man Table displays have been removed at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio and Houston, Texas, as well as at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” write Lankford and Forbes. “It is our understanding that the individual facility directors at the three VA clinics made the decision to remove the Bibles following complaints issued by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and that the November 7, 2014 Guidance on Religious Exercise and Expression in VA Facilities and Property Under the Charge and Control of VA was used to justify the removal…We request an explanation as to why the Bibles were removed from the three VA facilities, as well as any policy that will be applied going forward, including a summary of who will be responsible for implementing it.”
Since 1979, our nation has commemorated National POW/MIA Recognition Day, on September 16, as a day for all Americans to remember, honor, and respect those who were prisoners of war and those who remain missing as a result of the nation's conflicts. Another means of recognizing prisoners of war and those missing in action is the Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony. The Bible is traditionally included on the table as a symbol of the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
Senator Lankford and Congressman Forbes led 10 Senators and 31 Members of the House in sending this letter to Secretary McDonald, contending that the Bibles should remain in place and seeking an explanation as to why they were removed.
Congressman Forbes founded the Congressional Prayer Caucus to protect the fundamental human right of religious freedom. This bipartisan, bicameral caucus of nearly 100 lawmakers works to ensure every American — of all faiths or no faith — is free to exercise their First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religion without fear of punishment from the government.
A PDF of the letter is available here, and the full text is below:
The Honorable Robert McDonald
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20420
Dear Secretary McDonald,
We have been informed that Bibles as part of Missing Man Table displays have been removed at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio and Houston, Texas, as well as at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
It is our understanding that the individual facility directors at the three VA clinics made the decision to remove the Bibles following complaints issued by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and that the November 7, 2014 Guidance on Religious Exercise and Expression in VA Facilities and Property Under the Charge and Control of VA was used to justify the removal.
Since 1979, our nation has commemorated National POW/MIA Recognition Day, as a day of for all Americans to remember, honor, and respect those who were prisoners of war and those who remain missing as a result of the nation's conflicts.
Another means of recognizing prisoners of war and those missing in action is the Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony. The National League of POW/MIA families provides a script for this ceremony and a description of the table:
As you entered the room, you may have noticed a special table; it is reserved to honor our missing men. Set for six, the empty chairs represent Americans who were or are missing from each of the services – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard – and civilians, all with us in spirit.
Some here were very young, or not yet born, when the Vietnam War began; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call and served the cause of freedom in a special way.
Let me explain the meaning of this table, and then join me for a moment of silent prayer.
The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.
The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans….and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.
The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for their return and determination to account for them.
A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land.
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families - who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.
The chairs are empty – they are missing.
Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America’s POW/MIAs, to the success of our efforts to account for them, and to the safety of all now serving our nation!
As noted in the description, one of the objects on the table is a Bible, meant to “represent the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.”
As your guidance correctly notes, the Establishment Clause exists to ensure that the government cannot affirmatively impose or elevate one religion over another. However, it does not prohibit the government from referencing religion altogether, nor does it require that the government scrub all references of religion from the public square. Rather, the Establishment Clause ensures both that the government does not show preference to a certain religion, and that the government does not take away one’s ability to practice religion.
In 2014, the Navy Exchange Service Command issued a memo for the removal of Bibles in Navy Lodge guest rooms following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The Navy reversed course and announced that the Bibles would be replaced.
Similarly, the Establishment Clause does not require that you remove Bibles from the Missing Man Table displays. The mere presence of a Bible coerces no one.
The Supreme Court recently stated that “an Establishment Clause violation is not made out any time a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary views…” Town of Greece v. Galloway, 134 S. Ct. 1811 (2014).
We request an explanation as to why the Bibles were removed from the three VA facilities, as well as any policy that will be applied going forward, including a summary of who will be responsible for implementing it. We respectfully request that you respond no later than May 3rd.
If you have any questions about this request, please contact Sarah Seitz in Senator Lankford’s office at 202-224-5754 or Amy Vitale in Congressman Forbes’ office at 202-225-6365. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
J. Randy Forbes
|Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, issued a statement following the House Armed Services Committee's passage of the annual defense policy bill:
“In the face of this Administration’s repeated efforts to dismantle our military, the bipartisan passage of the annual defense policy bill marks a critical step toward rebuilding America’s Armed Forces and providing our warriors with the tools they need to accomplish their missions and come home safely.Included in this bill is the legislation I authored to provide the most fundingfor shipbuilding since the Reagan era, preserve critical assets like our Navy's cruisers and Carrier Air Wing, and ensure major ship repair availabilities are occurring here in the U.S. rather than abroad. Not only does this legislation provide much needed stability for the Hampton Roads industrial base, it sends a clear message to this Administration: America has no higher priority than defending our defenders. I look forward to its passage in the House of Representatives.”
Among the provisions authored by Forbes that are included in the annual defense policy bill are the following:
Washington, D.C. -- Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) has been awarded the 2015 Award for Conservative Excellence by the American Conservative Union (ACU), in recognition of his stellar voting record and commitment to championing conservative values in Congress. The ACU bestows this award upon those Members of Congress who have shown unwavering dedication to America's core founding principles and a consistent record of protecting and upholding the Constitution.
"As Americans, we are stewards of this grand experiment in liberty and democracy we call the United States. We must not allow it to slip through our fingers," said Congressman Forbes. "I'm proud to be in the fight to rebuild our military, rein in out-of-control government spending, and stop political correctness from undermining our faith freedoms. Because the decisions we make today -- in Congress and in our communities -- will dictate the opportunities, future, and freedom of Americans tomorrow."
The ACU’s annual awards recognize Members of the House of Representative and the Senate whose voting records score within the top twenty percent on key issues, from wasteful government spending to national defense to free market enterprise. Congressman Forbes received a 96% rating for his work in the 114th Congress to strengthen national security, champion religious freedom, empower job creators, and protect individual liberty.To read the complete report,click here.
Washington, D.C. –Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, introduced several key provisions included in the Chairman's Mark to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“The United States is engaged in a tremendous struggle against Islamist extremism, and that battle must be won decisively," Forbes said. "At the same time, this country and its military cannot afford to lose sight of other challenges on the horizon, particularly the return to great power competition with Russia and China. My provisions in the NDAA Chairman's Mark are designed to focus our gaze on future threats and ensure that we are laying the foundations, whether through the maintenance of air dominance or the translation of key foreign-language military writings, to preserve our national security in the 21st century."
Among the provisions introduced by Forbes:
Requires the Air Force to Report on Possibility of Restarting F-22 Production. Forbes requested language requiring the Air Force to report on the potential costs of restarting production of the F-22 Raptor (or some variant or derivative aircraft) to meet the unmet demand for additional high-performance combat aircraft. Independent studies have consistently affirmed the need for such aircraft in future conflict scenarios.
Directs the Air Force to Report on the number of B-21 Bombers needed to meet Conventional and Nuclear Threats. Forbes requested language requiring the Air Force to report on the estimated number of B-21 bombers needed to meet Combatant Commander requirements.
Directs the Army to study the military utility of conventional intermediate rangeground-launched missiles. The Chairman’s mark includes an amendment Forbes made to the Strategic Forces mark, requiring the Army to assess the military utility of missiles currently prohibited by the INF Treaty.Russia is reportedly violating the INF Treaty, and Forbes believes this study is needed to inform future decisions and signal that continued Russian violation of the INF treaty could have consequences.
Requires Estimates of Chinese Missile Inventories in DoD’s Annual Report. Forbes requested language requiring DoD to bring back unclassified numerical estimates of Chinese ballistic and cruise missile inventories in its annual report on China’s military power.Such estimates used to be contained in the report, but have been absent in recent years.
Directs Asia-Pacific Air Base Hardening and Dispersal Strategy.Forbes requested language requiring the Air Force to report to Congress on its strategy for air base hardening and dispersal in the Asia-Pacific region. These bases face a growing threat from Chinese air, naval, and missile forces, and Forbes believes that efforts to mitigate that threat should be guided by an overarching strategy.
Encourages DoD to Facilitate Translation of Foreign Military and Technical Writings. Forbes requested language encouraging DoD to make translations of foreign military and technical writings more widely available to defense policymakers and the broader analytic community.Forbes believes better and more widespread understanding of foreign military and technical will aid the making of good strategic, policy, and programmatic decisions by the Department of Defense.
Expresses Congressional Support for US-Singapore Defense Cooperation.Forbes requested language recognizing the importance of US-Singapore defense cooperation in light of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed in December of last year and 2016 being the 50thyear of US-Singapore relations.
Expresses Congressional Support for US-Japan-South Korea Cooperation.Forbes requested language encourage closer trilateral defense cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Koreain light of the historic rapprochement between the two important US allies on the issue of comfort women.
Washington, D.C. –Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, introduced several key ship repair and readiness provisions included in the annual defense policy bill.
“I am pleased that the House Armed Services Committee’s annual defense policy bill increases funding for the Navy’s readiness and maintenance needs while also strengthening the national strategic asset that is the Hampton Roads ship repair industrial base,” Congressman Forbes said. “By raising the threshold for major ship repair availabilities conducted outside the United States, this legislation provides greater stability for homeport shipyards and avoids inflicting additional hardship on sailors’ families. We owe the men and women who serve this country in uniform nothing less.”
Among the provisions introduced by Forbes:
Forbes will also be offering an amendment before the full Committee that:
Here’s a question for you to consider: Do you know what your taxpayer dollars are funding at the United Nations (UN)? You probably don’t – and you would have difficulty finding out. The reality is, the federal government doesn’t even have a full grasp on exactly how the UN is using its money.
I believe it is unconscionable that the United States (and more accurately the U.S. taxpayer) is the largest contributor to the United Nations, yet we are not confident we can account for how that money is being spent. In the ten year span between 2002 and 2012, funding for the United Nations nearly tripled, from roughly $15 billion to $41.5 billion, according to the Heritage Foundation. Also according to the Heritage Foundation, on average the U.S. provided approximately one-fifth of the contributions for that time period. All of this at a time when the United States is trillions of dollars in debt.
The UN is a mammoth organization demanding mammoth funding levels. Within it, there are many distinct agencies, each with their own funding streams and their own objectives and activities. And, although the UN is subjected to audits in some cases, the organization is fraught with a history of scandal, corruption, and fraud. As such, the audits don’t always tell the whole story. In 2014, an Associated Press story detailed news that top officials within the UN tampered with evidence so as to prevent investigations into corruption cases.
Funding to the UN also largely operates in a “no-strings-attached” model. Dollars are appropriated to various agencies and funds with little accountability or understanding of how those dollars might be used. Because it’s difficult to trace the money, U.S. funding can get tied up in activities that are deeply opposed to our national interests. Taxpayer dollars, for instance, are believed to have been used in the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), which has been linked to China’s brutal one child policy. U.S. contributions may also have been used to fund conferences, some of which have become platforms to promote anti-democratic, anti-American values.
The more of an investment you make in something, the greater the stakes become. At a bare minimum, the United States government has a responsibility to do its due diligence in making sure the UN’s intent is being carried through and that our national interests are not at risk. We have a responsibility to demand transparency and accountability, tracking dollars and then pulling funding entirely when necessary.
In Congress, I’m working to demand full accountability for the U.S. dollars being funneled into the United Nations, so the American people know where and how their taxpayer dollars are being spent. Our government has a responsibility to ensure that money is not being wasted or spent contrary to U.S. interests. We have an obligation to make certain that American sovereignty is never undermined.
That’s why I’ve cosponsored H.R. 1034, which requires the Office of Management and Budget to provide a report to Congress each year, detailing all U.S. contributions to the UN and its affiliated agencies. The report requires a detailed description and purpose of each contribution, as well as the percentage of U.S. contribution to each agency compared to contributions from other sources, like other nations. All American funds should be withheld until the United Nations can demonstrate this level of transparency and accountability for U.S. dollars. Period.
Transparency and accountability in funding at the UN is an economic and spending issue, but it is also an issue of what is in the American people’s best interest. The U.S. should not be forced to support activities that are wholly opposed to our national interests and what we, as a nation, stand for. America operates best when it is governed of the people, by the people, for the people – not of the people, by the people, for the United Nations.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released a statement on the 100th anniversary of Langley Air Force Base this year:
“I congratulate and thank the men and women of Langley Air Force Base, both uniformed and civilian, for their dedication to our country and the role they play in continuing a 100-year tradition of service and sacrifice. From patrolling the Atlantic coast during World War II to fielding the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft today, Langley is at the center of preserving U.S. national security. All Americans can be proud of the work these dedicated patriots do, day in and day out.”
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released today the legislative language of his Subcommittee’s mark of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Chairman Forbes led the Subcommittee in producing a mark which funds and sets priorities for large parts of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
“The last eight years have shown that bowing down to bullies or ignoring them does not make them go away. We need to make sure that when we have men and women from this country who are willing to stand up to them, that they have the resources they need to win that fight. Among those resources are the ships and planes necessary to win and come home safely,” Chairman Forbes said.
“Our military has been asked too often to choose between capacity and capability. My Subcommittee’s mark fundamentally rejects this false choice,” Chairman Forbes said. “This mark increases shipbuilding to $20.6 billion, $2.3 billion more than the President’s budget, and the highest level of shipbuilding funding since the Reagan-Lehman era, adjusting for inflation.It also rejects the administration’s plan to layup 11 cruisers once more, and prevents the disestablishment of one of 10 carrier air wings. With this legislation, we are rejecting further budget cuts, bending the curve lines, and making a down payment on the 350-ship Navy we need for national defense.”
Highlights of the Seapower Subcommittee mark includes:
Revitalizes Navy Shipbuilding and Accelerates Key Programs. The mark authorizes procurement of 3 additional ships ($433M for a destroyer, $856M for an amphibious ship, and $385M for a Littoral Combat Ship) above the administration’s plan.Between the SCN account and the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, it authorizes $20.6 billion for shipbuilding—$2.3 billion more than the President’s budget and the highest level of shipbuilding funding, accounting for inflation, since Fiscal Year 1988.
Prohibits Inactivation of Navy Cruisers. The Seapower mark prevents the administration from inactivating 11 of 22 cruisers under a “phased modernization plan” and holds the administration accountable for cruiser modernization by withholding funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense until modernization contracts have been signed.
Denies Navy’s Request for Authority to Disestablish a Carrier Air Wing. The mark, along with efforts made by the Readiness and Military Personnel Subcommittees in their marks, denies the Navy’s request for authority to disestablish one of ten extant carrier air wings (CVW) and funds the continued operation of that critical element of force structure.
Transfers Funding into the National Sea-Based Deterrent Fund and expands its authorities. The mark shifts the first procurement funding for the Ohio Replacement submarines into the NSBDF and grants the fund additional authority for “continuous production,” allowing the Navy to procure components like missile tubes in one large production run at substantially lower costs.
Calls for Navy to Build Aircraft Carriers 20% Faster. Forbes’ legislation calls upon the Navy to build aircraft carriers every four years instead of five, a change in tempo that will increase the size of the carrier fleet. The mark also authorizes the “block buy” of components for multiple carriers, reducing costs for the taxpayer. Carriers will continue to be the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s ability to prevent and win America’s wars.
Funds Unmanned Carrier-Based Aircraft Development, While Continuing to Advocate for High-End Capabilities. The mark funds development of the unmanned carrier-based aircraft refueling system (CBARS, a.k.a. RAQ-25, MQ-25, MQ-XX, Stingray) while expressing the Committee’s enduring belief that the Navy should develop carrier-based unmanned aircraft with strike capabilities and the ability to operate in contested environments.
Directs Navy to Study Increasing Attack Submarine Production. Forbes’ legislation directs the Navy to report to Congress on options for building additional Virginia-class submarines. These vessels will be vital for sustaining America’s undersea advantage in the years ahead.
Fully Funds the Air Force’s Next-Generation Bomber.The mark fully funds the B-21 Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) as RDT&E funding for this critical power projection asset doubles in FY2017.
Fully Funds the Air Force’s KC-46A Tanker Program. The mark fully supports the KC-46A air-refueling tanker program by procuring 15 new aircraft in FY2017.
Enhances Navy Lethality Through Cutting-Edge Investments. The mark invests in next-generation munitions like the Standard Missile-6 and Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), solid state upgrades for Aegis transmitters, and over-the-horizon missiles for testing aboard Littoral Combat Ships. It also authorizes $20 million in funding for the Office of Naval Research’s “SwampWorks” and the Navy’s new rapid prototyping and experimentation efforts in order to encourage and accelerate innovation.
Doubles Tomahawk Missile Procurement. The mark doubles procurement of the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) to keep the line running at 198 missiles per year until the missile’s upgrade and recertification process begins.
Provides Funding for Additional Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer. The mark authorizes an additional $443 million to fully fund construction of the destroyer that was partly funded last year. As the Surface Fleet faces increasing demands on a shrinking number of hulls, this investment is crucial to the long-term health of the Navy’s surface force.
Authorizes Funds for Acceleration of Amphibious Ship Construction. The Seapower mark provides funding and grants authority to the Secretary of the Navy to accelerate procurement of either the next-generation LX(R) amphibious ship or a 13th San Antonio-class amphibious ship (LPD-29), enabling the Navy and Marine Corps to more rapidly mitigate the shortfall in amphibious lift.
Invests in Amphibious Connectors. The mark restores funding for the service life extension of 4 air-cushioned landing craft (LCACs), continuing a service life extension program (SLEP) prematurely truncated in the President’s budget. It also authorizes procurement of 3 additional ship-to-shore connectors (SSCs) on the Navy’s unfunded requirements list.
Restores Funding for a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The mark authorizes $385 million for the third LCS that had previously been struck from the President’s Budget. The LCS will continue to fulfill a variety of Small Surface Combatant missions for the Fleet in the decades ahead.
Prohibits Further Retirement of Mine Countermeasure (MCM) Ships. The mark prohibits the Navy from retiring Avenger-class MCM ships until a replacement is ready, ensuring that the Fleet maintains a robust anti-mine capability in the interim.
Supports Airlift Recapitalization for Active and Reserve Components. The mark adds 3 C-130J and 4 C-40 airlifters from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps Unfunded Requirements List, and authorizes upgrades for older C-130s that are disproportionately flow by the Guard and Reserves.
In addition to these provisions in Chairman Forbes’ Seapower legislation, Forbes has worked to include a number of provisions related to Asia-Pacific strategy and critical DoD oversight issues that will be contained in other marks. Additional information on these provisions will follow later in the week.
# # #
Highlights of the Seapower Subcommittee mark include:
In addition to these provisions in Chairman Forbes’ Seapower legislation, Forbes worked to include provisions in the broader annual defense policy bill that:
# # #
Years ago, I was with my family at the beach sitting several yards back from the water. Ahead of us near the shoreline, two children knelt down playing in the sand just inches from where the foamy cusp of the waves rescinded back into the ocean. The boys used red and yellow buckets, packing sand together and flipping them over into small mounds. They were "building" sandcastles…but mostly they were just fighting over the buckets and hitting each other with their plastic shovels.
In fact, they spent more time snatching the buckets from each other than they did perfecting their castle.
As I watched these boys argue over how high to stack the sand and who was going to use the blue shovel, I could see a wave-- much bigger than all the other waves previously -- come racing towards the shore. I realized at that moment that the two boys had no idea what was about to happen and, sure enough, the wave came crashing up over their shoulders and washing away every grain of their sandcastle. As the wave rescinded back to the sea, the boys sat staring at each other and the small lumps of sand that remained, and they didn’t say a word. I can imagine what they were thinking. What happened? Why did we spend so much time fighting over the buckets and shovels that we didn’t even see the wave coming?
I’ve always thought Washington operates a bit like these two boys – arguing over who gets the shovel without paying attention to the massive waves roaring towards the shoreline.
With swelling frustration, Americans have watched as arguments, spin, sleight of hand tactics, scandals, and empty sound bites have become the modus operandi for Washington. Government dysfunction keeps getting worse (and along with it, public sentiment towards Washington).
But as Washington fights over buckets and shovels, major waves roar in on the horizon. Every moment spent bickering over castles in the sand threatens to wash away our very core beliefs, as well as the things we have stood for and worked towards for hundreds of years.
As the Administration dismantles the greatest military the world has ever known, waves threaten to wash away a core constitutional tenet to provide for the common defense. While Washington focuses on short-term budget fixes and fails to address our ever-growing national debt, more waves roll in, threatening America’s fiscal prosperity and our children’s future. While Americans are pressured to be politically correct and chastised for standing publicly for their faith convictions, waves threaten to erode our religious freedom. While the Administration uses unilateral executive action to allow the legalization of illegal immigrants, waves tear away at the rule of law and our constitutional approach to government.
Washington needs to change, and not merely because it's exhausting to listen to politicians bicker over buckets and shovels and watch them throw sand. It needs to change in order to “save the sandcastle” and ensure the best possible future for our nation.
That’s why, as a Subcommittee Chairman on the House Armed Services Committee, my top priorities are rebuilding our military, defeating ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism, protecting national security, and defending our defenders. It’s why, as a senior Member on the Judiciary Committee, I’m fighting to stop the Syrian refugee program, rein in the Administration’s executive overreach, and secure our borders. Sometimes it may seem like an uphill battle, but it’s worth the fight. Because our country is worth the fight.
Our Founding Fathers didn’t work to create our democracy because it would bring them self satisfaction or bring them personal fame. They did it because they knew they were creating something powerful and unique – a constitutional Republic carefully crafted to withstand the waves. They did it because they believed it was crucial to fight for a concept called freedom and to build a nation that was, as Thomas Jefferson said, the greatest hope of the world.
Now more than ever, with the waves we face today, we need those who are willing to fight for America, rather than themselves. We need to stand on principle, stop throwing sand, and train our eyes to be focused on the biggest challenges our nation faces. We need government to grow smaller so the interests of the people can be made greater. We need leaders who realize the purpose and power of our Constitution and why it is so important to fight for it and let it be our guiding light.
Because if we don’t, we know that we will be left, like those two children on the beach, staring at the sand where our castle once stood wondering what happened to the America that was.
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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Great day at Newport News Shipbuilding for the keel laying ceremony for the Delaware - the 18th sub of the Virginia class submarines and the
This morning, the annual defense policy bill passed with a bipartisan vote out of the Armed Services Committee. In the face of this Administration’s
We have an Administration that crafted an over 2,500 page healthcare law, while its strategy to combat ISIS was a mere 7 pages. A Commander-in-Chief
HAPPENING NOW: The House Armed Services Committee is marking up the annual defense policy bill – one of the few bills to be consistently passed
Today, we have a Commander-in-Chief who vetoed funding for our Armed Forces over funding for the EPA and IRS. I believe equipping our men and