J. Randy Forbes

J. Randy Forbes


A personal reflection on Paris


Friday night brought back vivid memories of 9/11.

I closed my eyes and saw the T.V. screen flashing with images now seared into our national memory. I remembered the horror and shock of struggling to grasp the reality of what was happening before our eyes.

When news broke of terrorist attacks in Paris, an echo of that same adrenaline snapped in our veins. Our throats tightened as we watched the headlines churning out of France, confronted with the horror of yet another act of brutal terror, begging the question, Where next? Will it be here?

When clocks read 10:00PM in France on Friday, approximately 100 people lay dead. Others lay in pools of blood –strangers’ and their own -- frozen with fear, envisioning the faces of loved ones they might never see again, as they waited for the circling gunmen to depart. Streets were in chaos. Strangers held one another, crying. Cell phones were passed around as people frantically tried to contact family members, forcing shaky fingers to send that text and ask the feared questions, “Where are you? Are you ok?” 

Waking up the next morning, the count had risen to more than 300 wounded and over 120 who lost their lives in Paris that night. Include the victims in recent terrorist attacks in Ankara, Beirut, Baghdad, Kenya, and elsewhere, and that count skyrockets. In the aftermath, our televisions and Facebook newsfeeds are flooded with stories of strangers turned heroes. We read about the man who put his body between a 22-year-old girl, whom he had never seen before, and the gunmen at the Bataclan theater. Our ears echo with the sound of hundreds of voices singing the French national anthem as they filed out of the stadium where smoke was still settling from the explosion of two suicide bombers. Our hearts stiffen against the walls of our chest in anger that these innocent lives were taken. We watched as the world came together, but also wonder, with pricks of fear, what will happen next – and where. Flags are lowered. Monuments and other buildings across the globe are lit up in red, white, and blue. We grip loved ones a little closer. We worry about the future for our children and grandchildren. We pray.

Friday’s horrific acts of terror serve as a searing reminder not only of the evil that is in the world, but also that the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism is not a distant danger. As a Member of Congress serving on both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, I have received the classified briefings. I have warned of the growing threat posed by the Islamic State. My highest priority is providing for the common defense, strengthening our national security, and protecting America.

Those were not random acts of terror in the streets of Paris. They were the latest developments in the Islamic State’s concerted assault on Western civilization, and on the principles of democracy and freedom. We must stare evil directly in the eyes. Pretending this is anything other than globally ambitious Islamist extremism will do nothing to prevent further atrocities or protect the U.S. and our allies.

Rather, we must be equipping our military, intelligence services, and law enforcement with the resources necessary to protect national security. We must secure our borders, and make sure terrorists and those who would do us harm are prevented from entering this country. We must make the safety of U.S. citizens our number one priority. We must confront the fact that trying to contain this threat is not enough -- only a concerted strategy to dismantle and utterly destroy ISIS will ensure our national security.

America stands with France. We must stand ready.  Read More

Forbes Applauds Supreme Court Decision to Hear Obamacare Challenges from Faith-Based Organizations


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to hear challenges from faith-based nonprofits to the Affordable Care Act’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, which requires religious ministries and nonprofits to provide insurance coverage for potentially abortion-inducing drugs:

“Essential to human dignity is the ability to live by one’s moral convictions and not be coerced by the government to compromise those convictions. As Americans, we don’t check our faith at the door when we enter the public square. Forcing faith-based organizations to provide coverage that they deem morally objectionable – or pay punitive fines – contradicts this core, constitutional right. I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to hear these challenges to Obamacare’s HHS mandate and urge a decisive reinforcement of every American’s freedom to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of punishment by the government.”

The challenges the Supreme Court agreed to hear include parts of seven different cases from religious non-profit institutions, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who have dedicated their lives to serving the elderly poor, and five Christian colleges in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania that are seeking to live by the same faith that drives the mission and teaching of their educational institutions.

Congressman Forbes is the Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, a bipartisan, bicameral group of members who engage the legislative process to protect free exercise for Americans of any faith or no faith.





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Forbes: Ma-Xi Talks Should Be Followed By Taiwan-U.S. Presidential Meeting


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, released the following statement on the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou:

“For too long, U.S. policy toward Taiwan has been governed by fear of offending China. The presidential meeting between China and Taiwan, the first such exchange in 66 years, is a prime opportunity to reevaluate many of the needless restrictions on American interactions with our Taiwanese partners. If a Chinese leader can meet with Taiwan’s elected head of state, so can an American President. At the very least, U.S. general and flag officers should be able to meet with their Taiwanese counterparts openly and in uniform. The time for petty restrictions on the relationship between the U.S. and one of its closest partners has come and gone.”





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Admirals: More Carrier Gaps Will Occur During 2015 and 2016 in Asia-Pacific, Increasing the Likelihood of Conflict



Admirals: More Carrier Gaps Will Occur During 2015 and 2016 in Asia-Pacific, Increasing the Likelihood of Conflict 

Rep. Forbes: Carrier Gaps in Pacific and Middle East Dramatically Impact U.S. Ability to Deter Conflict

Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, chaired a joint hearing with the Subcommittee on Readiness on Tuesday, November 3rd entitled, “Aircraft Carrier- Presence and Surge Limitations. Expanding Power Projection Options.”

During this hearing, senior U.S. Navy witnesses admitted that the Navy will be unable to provide an aircraft carrier strike group in the U.S. Pacific Command at several points this year and next. This “gap” follows the widely-reported inability to maintain an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle East during parts of 2015. The strains on the U.S. carrier force will be exacerbated for years to come by the delay in deploying the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), which is not expected to be on station until 2021.

“ ‘Gaps’ in carrier coverage threaten to undermine both the U.S. ability to deter conflict and respond to crises,” Congressman Forbes said. “Every American President for seventy years has asked “where are the carriers?” in the moment of crisis. When our next President asks a similar question, the response may be silence.”

Hearing witnesses included Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition Sean Stackley; Vice Adm. John Aquilino, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans & Strategy (N3/N5); Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, Director for Air Warfare (N98); and Rear Adm. Thomas J. Moore, Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers.

Quotes on the “carrier gap” from the Navy witnesses:

  • There is no replacement for a carrier strike group in any phase of any type of conflict.”- Adm. Manazir
  • “We require 11 carriers to meet the full range of operational requirements…we are at 10 today…until we get back up to 11 carriers, we will be operating at a deficit.”- Sec. Stackley
  • “Carriers are at the very core our maritime strategy for deterring conflict.”- Sec. Stackley
  • “We currently are experiencing a [carrier] gap in the CENTCOM Area of Operations (AOR)…in the next year there will be a similar gap in the PACOM AOR.”- Adm. Aquilino
  • “The delay to responding with a ‘surge’ of forces will put missions and personnel at risk.”- Adm. Aquilino
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Forbes Recognized as a Champion of Healthcare Innovation By National Healthcare Leaders


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) was recognized as a “Champion of Healthcare Innovation” by The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), a coalition of leaders of the nation’s premier healthcare companies and organizations, at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., on November 3, 2015.

“As we strive to conquer illness, elevate population health and make our healthcare system more affordable and sustainable, the answer lies in dynamic and continual innovation,” said Healthcare Leadership Council President Mary R. Grealy. “For this to happen, we need federal policies that encourage progress and new breakthroughs in care. We applaud Representative Randy Forbes for the leadership, vision, and commitment that patients and healthcare consumers need.”

“Healthcare should center not only on treating diseases, but also on curing and preventing them,” said Congressman Forbes. “To accomplish this, it is critical that government serves as a catalyst for discovery, unleashing innovation and investing in medical research. Receiving the ‘Champion of Healthcare Innovation’ Award is an honor, and I will continue to work to push our country to a patient-centric system, where people come before politics, and innovation— not bureaucracy – drives America’s healthcare policies."

The award presentation took place at the Council’s annual Healthcare Innovations Expo on Capitol Hill. The day-long event is dedicated to showcasing new developments in healthcare technologies, treatments, and practices. 

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Forbes: Budget Deal Hands Administration a Blank Check


Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released the following statement regarding the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 by the House of Representatives: 

“At a time when we’ve seen consistent cuts to national defense and the systematic dismantling of our military, this bill continues to under-resource our military by cutting national security spending $5 billion below the level of funding that the last Chairman of Joint Chiefs called, “the ragged lower edge” of what we need for America’s national defense.  On top of that, it doesn’t just raise the debt ceiling, but suspends it entirely until March 15, 2017 -- handing the Administration a blank check which history has shown he will not only use, but use recklessly.”

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Forbes Calls on U.S. Allies to Join Freedom of Navigation Operations in South China Sea


Forbes Calls on U.S. Allies to Join Freedom of Navigation Operations in South China Sea


Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and Co-Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, released the following statement urging U.S. allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific to follow the U.S. lead and conduct similar freedom of navigation operations near China’s artificial features in the South China Sea:


“Freedom of navigation is not just an American principle—it is universal. China’s unwarranted claims to sovereignty twelve nautical miles from artificial features in the South China Sea impacts U.S. allies and partners just as much, or more, than it does the United States. The international community has firmly rejected China’s specious assertions, and U.S. allies like Australia, Japan and others should follow Washington’s lead in conducting freedom of navigation operations to conclusively demonstrate that Beijing’s destabilizing behavior has succeeded only in isolating it from its neighbors.”

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Forbes Issues Statement on Award of Air Force’s Long Range Strike-Bomber Contract


Forbes Issues Statement on Award of Air Force’s Long Range Strike-Bomber Contract


Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Air Force’s bomber, tanker and airlift assets, issued the following statement on the award of the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program:


“I am pleased that the Air Force has now moved into the next phase of this important program. The long range strike bomber will serve our country for most of the 21st century and promises to provide critically-needed capabilities in the contested environments we will face. Now more than ever, getting this program completed on time and on budget is crucial not just for one service or one mission but for the United States’ ability to project power around the world.”

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Forbes and Lankford Send Letter in Support of High School Coach’s Freedom to Pray with Students


Rep. J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) and Senator James Lankford (OK), Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, today sent a letter to the Superintendent of Bremerton School District and Principal of Bremerton High School.Since 2008, the assistant High School football coach has a tradition of praying at the fifty yard line after the conclusion of school football games. At times, students have chosen to pray with him. After seven years, however, the Bremerton School District ordered him to stop these prayers.

Following the team’s homecoming game on October 16, Coach Kennedy knelt by himself to pray after the game.He was voluntarily joined by a crowd of others, including coaches and members of the opposing team. On October 23, the District told him if he repeated his tradition of praying, his actions would be “grounds for discipline, up to and including discharge from District employment.”

Today, Congressman Forbes and Senator Lankford led 47 Members of Congress in sending a letter to the District, arguing that the District’s high school football coach’s non-coercive tradition of personally praying after the conclusion of games is not a violation of the Establishment Clause.

The Member letter contends that Coach Kennedy’s prayers do not pose an Establishment Clause concern because the prayers occur after the conclusion of the game and are optional: “[T]he mere act of a single individual kneeling alone after the conclusion of a game to quietly pray coerces no one, even when that individual is a school employee.That others may choose to join him of their own free will is irrelevant, and an exercise of their own constitutional freedoms.”

A PDF of the letter is available here, and the full text is below:

October 27, 2015

 Aaron LeavellJohn Polm
Superintendent, Bremerton School District Principal, Bremerton High School
134 Marion Avenue N.1500 13th St.
Bremerton, WA 98312Bremerton, WA 98337

Dear Superintendent Leavell and Principal Polm,

We write to express our concern over reports that the Bremerton School District views Coach Joseph Kennedy’s tradition of quietly praying at the fifty yard line after the conclusion of school football games as unlawful under the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.

Among the most basic rights that Americans enjoy are the free exercise of religion, free speech, and the freedom of association. 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 government officials proactively 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 an individual’s ability to exercise religion.

The Supreme Court recently stated, “It is an elemental First Amendment principle that government may not coerce its citizens to support or participate in any religion or its exercise.” Town of Greece v. Galloway, 134 S. Ct. 1811 (2014). The Court went on to state that “an Establishment Clause violation is not made out any time a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary views . . . .” Id.

These guiding principles from the Court were written in the context of a challenge to a small town’s practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer.The challengers did not like that most of the prayers offered were Christian in nature, even though participation was voluntary and anyone was welcome to offer a prayer. However, the Court rejected the feeble argument that a reasonable observer would believe that the government was favoring Christianity over other religions. The content of what was volunteered was irrelevant, so long as all were welcome.

These crucial principles are no less applicable here. The Supreme Court has made clear that the voluntary observance of a brief prayer at the beginning of a legislative session—a tradition that is also embraced by both the United States Senate and House of Representatives—does not in and of itself present an Establishment Clause problem. Likewise, the mere act of a single individual kneeling alone after the conclusion of a game to quietly pray coerces no one, even when that individual is a school employee. That others may choose to join him of their own free will is irrelevant, and an exercise of their own constitutional freedoms.

The District acknowledged in its letter to Coach Kennedy’s legal counsel that he “is free to engage in religious activity, including prayer, even while on duty, so long as doing so does not interfere with performance of his job duties, and does not constitute District endorsement of religion.” We would urge you to also consider the fact that Coach Kennedy’s personal actions are not only non-coercive, but also admirable and respectable as they represent his commitment to the welfare of the young men on his team.

The Establishment Clause does not require quarantining private, non-coercive religious expression to private quarters or off-duty hours. Thank you for your service to the students and families of Bremerton.


 J. Randy Forbes
Member of Congress

James Lankford
United States Senator

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Forbes Praises Imminent U.S. Navy Transit Near Chinese Artificial Features in South China Sea


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, today praised the U.S. Navy’s imminent transit within 12 nautical miles of China’s man-made features in the South China Sea. Congressman Forbes had previously led a bipartisan group of 29 Members of Congress in urging President Obama to conduct freedom of navigation operations in this area.

“The passage of U.S. vessels within 12 nautical miles of China’s man-made features in the South China Sea is a necessary and overdue response to China’s destabilizing behavior in the region. International law is clear that China has no legitimate claim to sovereignty over these waters, and it is high time that this administration reaffirmed America’s enduring commitment to freedom of navigation and the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

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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

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Scott Rigell


Robert Hurt


Bob Goodlatte


Dave Brat


Morgan Griffith


Barbara Comstock


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