J. Randy Forbes

J. Randy Forbes


The Story of Virginia’s Ports


In a national economic slump, we often look for those indicators of economic muscle that show us America is moving, innovating, and poised to take on the next era of global commerce.

In Virginia, you can see it along our waterways. And residents of Virginia's Fourth District, in particular, can see them just off of the James River Bridge or the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel - massive ship-to-shore gantry cranes that stretch tall above the waterways, and hundreds of shipping containers that, from a distance, look like a collection of colorful Legos stacked up.

These are Virginia's ports. Those cranes are more than steel. They’re the results of decades of innovation - reminders of how far our shipping industry has come since the sailing vessels of our colonial past. Those Lego-like containers are full of goods that fuel our economy. Our ports move cargo in and out of the Commonwealth every day, bringing supplies to shop owners, farmers, manufacturing companies, warehouses, retail stores, and more. They allow businesses to meet their growth goals, better serve customers, and move agricultural products.

For Virginia, our ports are gateways to economic opportunity, connecting our businesses to each other and to others across the globe. The industry has been incredibly successful in providing the muscle we need today, and best of all, it remains poised to take on the next era of shipping too. Many people are still not aware that the Port of Virginia is one of the few deep-water ports in the United States that can accept large ships that will come as a result of the Panama Canal expansion. 

This important lifeline in the Fourth District, the Commonwealth, and the nation needs our continued commitment. To make sure our ports continue to provide easy access for business. To minimize choke points. To keep connecting Virginia to the world. To make sure our nation's ports are prepared for a new era of commerce, and to ensure the United States and Virginia remain a global leader in commerce and transportation. There are two focus areas where our government can help:

Prepare for growth. Ships will only come to ports which are prepared to receive and process their cargo timely and efficiently. Continuing in the tradition of Virginia’s ports, policy makers in Washington, D.C. must be strategic and forward-thinking – making preparations in international shipping, trade, and transport ­– to take full advantage of economic opportunities with our ports. That’s why I’ve worked to form the bipartisan Congressional Panama Canal Expansion Caucus, which highlights steps Congress needs to take to ensure our ports are prepared for a new era of commerce

Minimize regulations. Virginia’s ports, transportation companies, and businesses depend on each other to bring goods to consumers in an efficient way. Yet, they all face varying areas of regulation that limit their ability to partner together. Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve worked under the principle that government should act as an enabler rather than a barrier to economic success. To that end, removing burdensome government regulation is vital to this link in our economic chain.

The extent to which we can take advantage of the bright spots in our economy, the quicker we will see expanded economic growth. Giving this economic muscle the attention it deserves not only helps us today, but gives us tremendous economic opportunity tomorrow. 

Virginia's ports represent part of who we are as Virginians, and as Americans. They represent innovation, entrepreneurship. They symbolize hard work and creating value. They speak to our region's history, and symbolize our region's future. By prizing that heritage and investing in the opportunity it presents, we can ensure future generations of Virginians will enjoy the benefits of even greater economic growth and opportunities than ever before. 

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Forbes: ICE Cover Up of Aggravated Felons’ Release Is Dangerous & Concerning


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) issued the following statement in response to records confirming that a number of the over 2,000 undocumented immigrants the Administration released were aggravated felons.

“The fact that ICE would release thousands of undocumented immigrants – including violent offenders and individuals who have faced serious criminal charges – and then blatantly deny the severity of these offenses to the American people and to Members of Congress is not only deeply concerning, it is dangerous. The United States government has a duty to be transparent and accountable, and to prioritize protecting the citizens it serves. This is an egregious example of an abdication of that responsibility.”

Last year, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Congressman Forbes questioned then-ICE Director John Morton directly for specifics on the criminal records of the people the agency had freed, asking, "No one on that list has been charged or convicted with murder, rape or sexual abuse of a minor, were they?" Director Morton answered, "They were not." Watch a video of the questioning, here.

In addition to the misleading testimony, in response to written inquiries regarding the release of the undocumented immigrants, Forbes’ office received written communication from ICE specifically stating, “Detainees with serious criminal histories are a detention priority and have not been released.”

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Forbes: DHS Policy on Travel from Ebola-Affected Countries Insufficient


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) issued the following statement in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement today that all individuals traveling from Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone to the U.S. will be required to travel through one of five major U.S. airports where additional Ebola screening measures have been implemented.

“The additional restrictions that the Administration announced today are a minimal improvement over what we had in place yesterday, and far from sufficient. The United States government needs to immediately place a moratorium on travel to and from West African countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks, and to craft a comprehensive, preventative, containment strategy to ensure Americans’ safety. I continue to believe Congress is obligated to reconvene immediately to develop such a strategy and prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the United States.”

Last week, Forbes issued statements calling for the U.S. government to implement temporary travel restrictions to and from Ebola-stricken West African countries, and for Congress to reconvene to address Ebola containment. Those statement are available here and here.

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Forbes Releases Statement on the Retirement of Dr. Andrew Marshall


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 pending retirement of Dr. Andrew Marshall, Director of the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) at the Department of Defense:

“For over four decades, Andy Marshall has been one of the United States’ leading national security thinkers, anticipating future threats and realizing opportunities that others often missed. Through the strategists he mentored and advanced, Dr. Marshall’s legacy of analytical rigor and strategic foresight will continue for decades to come. In his absence, the Office of Net Assessment must continue to be at the forefront of strategic thinking and innovation if the United States is to maintain its military strength in the years ahead and successfully confront the national security challenges of the 21st century.”

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Forbes calls for Congress to Reconvene Session to Address Ebola Containment


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) issued the following statement:

 “The continued spread of Ebola infections in the United States, coupled with lax travel oversight of persons in contact with the lethal virus, have frayed the confidence of many in this Administration's ability to further contain this deadly disease.  Given calls from world health leaders for urgent international response within the next 60 days to prevent an unprecedented situation, I believe both houses of Congress should immediately suspend district work and return to Washington to develop a thoughtful, coordinated, all-of-government containment strategy to prevent the spread of this disease. Delaying this critical work until after the election would be foolish and dangerous.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization warned that, at current rates, nearly 10,000 West Africans a week will contract the Ebola virus by the end of December. Yesterday, Forbes issued a statement calling for the U.S. government to immediately implement temporary travel restrictions to and from the West African countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks. That statement is available here.

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What will history say?


For decades, we’ve been prepared. We’ve led. We’ve made innovative breakthroughs. We’ve made significant advances in trade, diplomacy, global trust, and modernization. We’ve protected the American way of life. But what will history say about our ability to take on the challenges of today?

The National Defense Panel – a bipartisan group tasked with reviewing the future of national defense strategy, budgets, and reforms – offered stark conclusions: unless we change course from the failures of recent years, our military is at a high risk of not being able to fully guarantee our national security.

To take these warnings lightly would be foolish. Our world today is dangerous. One needs to look no further than the front page of a newspaper or the breaking news alerts on Twitter to understand the many threats we are up against - the emergence of the Islamic State, the continued struggle with Al Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iran’s unrelenting pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and China’s growing belligerence across the Asia-Pacific region.

However, instead of equipping our nation’s defenders, the Administration (and many in Congress) has fixed its attention on cutting our military resources. Year after year, a new reform has brought major cuts to our military’s capacity and capability. What is extraordinary about these cuts is that even as the Administration has directed them, it has also called for additional commitment of American military resources. We have traditionally had the strongest, best equipped, most capable military in the world, but we cannot continue to ask our military men and women to perform new missions under the constraints of defense budget cuts and sequestration.

An American public tinged by war might wonder why all of this matters. “Couldn’t we just shift our focus to home?” many ask. As Americans, we must at the moment realize something: the lack of defense strategy, repeated budget cuts, and miscalculated decisions that chip away at military resources create vacuums. And vacuums have detrimental effects on our ability to focus at home. Vacuums embolden our adversaries, allowing them to exhibit muscle on the world stage. Vacuums demand responsiveness. Vacuums force us to turn our attention abroad. Vacuums create risks – risks that, under defense cuts, we simply cannot afford.

To build an unparalleled American military power is a principal U.S. constitutional duty. But we don’t build a strong military to use it. To the contrary, we build a strong defense to prevent conflict; to constantly remind our adversaries and competitors that “today is not the day”. We build a strong defense so our military men and women can stay home rather than serve across the world for multiple deployments in treacherous, hard environments. We build a strong defense so Americans can attend school, go to church, attend high school football games, and gather with friends in their backyards unburdened by the worry of adequate national security.

When we have a strong defense, something freeing happens for our nation. Released from the weight of strained resources and low manpower, our nation has the opportunity to exercise prudence and use discretion in defense decisions. When we have the capabilities and strength to go the distance, we can make decisions out of calculated strategy, rather than snap judgments.  

When we have a strong defense, we can focus on military innovation. With adequate resources, we can retain highly skilled military men and women – engineers, scientists, and technologists – who have an eye on efficiency and a determination for innovation. We can shift our focus to home, confident that our strong defense is prepared to protect us from those who would do us harm. Our military can focus on becoming better at what it does, so it can be more efficient. We can aim for best-in-class defense that offers strong leadership and success admired across the world. We build a strong military – fully prepared and always ready – today so we don’t have to deploy it tomorrow.

What will history say about our ability to take on the challenges of today? If we continue a tradition of a strong defense, I’m confident history will tell the story of a strong America.

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Forbes: Implement Travel Restrictions in Response to Ebola


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) issued the following statement in response to the death of the Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, and the subsequent infection of two healthcare workers within the United States:

 “To prevent the growing crisis in West Africa from leading to additional cases here in the United States,the U.S. government needs to immediately implement temporary travel restrictions to and from the West African countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks. Due to the unprecedented scope of this Ebola virus outbreak, and due to the virus’ tremendously high mortality rate now hovering near 70%, taking such proactive precautions to ensure the safety and health of American citizens is simply common sense."

On Tuesday, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) released the agency’s updated response and safety procedures, as well as the creation of the CDC’s Ebola response team. Additionally, increased entry screening of those traveling from affected countries byU.S.Customs and BorderProtectionare in place at select points of entry in the United States.

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My thoughts on government dysfunction


According to a Gallup survey released last year, Americans were more likely to name “dysfunctional government” as the most important problem facing the nation – more than the economy, unemployment, the deficit, and healthcare.

And who can blame them? It’s government dysfunction that brought us to sequestration. To mortgaging our children’s future to pay for yesterday’s expenses. To regularly failing to even pass a budget. Not much has changed since last year. If anything, even more situations have added to the public’s sentiments about dysfunction in Washington. The IRS scandal and the VA scandal come to mind, among others. What is most telling about Americans’ sentiments is just how wide-sweeping Washington’s dysfunction is, touching a number of government agencies and issues.

Many people would say the dysfunction in Washington stems from disagreement. I – no irony intended – disagree.  There is a difference between disagreement and dysfunction, and between standing on principle and standing for polarization. Our government was founded in disagreement. Disagreement is in our DNA as a nation. From our inception, we have welcomed disagreement as a starting point for debate and a place where new concepts are launched. Why? Because the best ideas often come from places of disagreement. It forces individuals with different opinions to work together for the best solution.

So if disagreement isn’t necessarily causing dysfunction in our nation today, what is? A wall of disrespect exists between government leaders, which has made working together nearly impossible. When we receive breaking news alerts simply because Republicans and Democrats have come together for a face-to-face meeting, we’ve hit an all-time low. Politics has become the thing we abhor instead of the very catalyst to create the best possible future for our nation. Dysfunction carries a steep price: Our nation remains stagnant. If bickering continually pushes us to the eleventh hour before we act,  then we do not have sufficient time to engage in meaningful debate over the most effective means of addressing the challenges we face.  If we are focused on opportunities to score political points, we are taking time away from focusing on innovative policy issues that move our nation forward.

We can move our country from dysfunctional, to a functioning, forward-thinking government quite easily – by committing to a posture of statesmanship.

Statesmanship doesn’t mean kicking our disagreements under the rug. It doesn’t mean government leaders have to be “yes men.”  Statesmanship doesn’t even dictate that two individuals have to compromise principles. Statesmanship doesn’t discriminate between political ideologies. In fact, I am good friends with both Democrats and Republicans whom I consider fine statesmen and women.

True statesmanship depends on a commitment to lead by principles and values. Perhaps more than that, it depends on the ability to come together to build consensus, not a patchwork of compromises.  True statesmanship births a desire for common ground. If we posture ourselves as statesmen, we come to the table with respect for each other, an open mind to ideas, and an understanding of each other’s unwavering principles. Statesmanship requires hard work and respect. It is not the easy way out. But it’s necessary if we want a healthy, thriving, functioning government.

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Forbes Releases Statement on Japan-U.S. Defense Guidelines


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released the following statement regarding the release of an interim report on the revision of the Japan-U.S. Defense Guidelines:

“I applaud today’s release of an interim report on the revision of the Japan-US Defense Guidelines. This refresh of the Guidelines – the first in 17 years – is a necessary step to tackle emerging challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, including an unstable and dangerous North Korea and a People’s Republic of China that continues to resort to coercion to pressure the maritime status quo.This ongoing effort, which so many American and Japanese officials have worked to negotiate over the past several years, is also a testament to the enduring alliance and longstanding relationship between Washington and Tokyo. I look forward to continuing to work with our Japanese allies to enhance the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”

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Forbes Recognized with Manufacturing Award for Pro-Jobs Record


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) has been awarded The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence, in recognition of his pro-jobs, pro-manufacturing voting record.

“Our manufacturing plants represent what American production should be about – creating new, innovative products, building useful resources, and taking waste and redirecting to areas where it too can be used in an efficient way,” said Congressman Forbes. “The industry is ripe for global competitiveness, as well as national innovation and job creation. I remain committed to working to ensure that, instead of acting as a barrier, the government is doing its very best to enable growth and competitiveness in this crucial component of our economy.”

Congressman Forbes was honored with this award based on his voting record on important manufacturing issues, ranging from energy to federal regulations. His rating from NAM is an outstanding 100 percent on key manufacturing votes in the 113th Congress.

In August, Congressman Forbes conducted a manufacturing tour of various manufacturing plants in the Fourth District, to meet with leaders and employees in this crucial industry. To learn more about Congressman Forbes’ pro-jobs, pro-manufacturing work, click here.

The Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence is given to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate who have demonstrated an excellent understanding of manufacturing’s key role in our economy and society through their voting records. The voting records were based on NAM’s positions on Key Manufacturing Votes. The National Association of Manufacturers is the United States’ largest industrial trade association as well as the leading manufacturers association. It is proud to represent manufacturers of all sizes in all 50 states and every industrial sector. For more information, visit http://www.nam.org/.


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Armed Services


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.

Serving With

Rob Wittman


Scott Rigell


Robert Hurt


Bob Goodlatte


Morgan Griffith


Frank Wolf


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