The rule of power. For much of human history, governments and their laws were based solely on who had the power.
The American experiment turned that notion on its head. Rather than on the rule of power, our founders established the United States of America on the rule of law. It was a somewhat novel concept in practice, that those governed by the law were both subject to it and protected by it. Most exceptional, however, was the system of checks and balances the rule of law created – it separated the power.
Today we often think of the rule of law in terms of the court system, assessing how effective it is, whether judges are fulfilling their roles as charged, and whether the law is interpreted accurately. Indeed, the conversation about “restoring the rule of law” is partly about restoring courts to their constitutional role of protecting individual liberties. But its impact stretches far beyond that. At its core, the rule of law is about protecting a set of immutable rights that are anchored in our Constitution and birthed by concepts in the Declaration of Independence.
So when President Obama said last year he would no longer enforce U.S. immigration laws and later allowed millions of illegal immigrants to stay and work in the U.S. without a vote of Congress, he didn’t just usurp power belonging to other government branches. He sent a message that the rule of law doesn’t matter. The implications of such an action stretch far beyond the White House, the halls of Congress, or even the steps of the Supreme Court.
Today the short-term debate in Congress is over funding for the Department of Homeland Security and rolling back executive actions on immigration. I prepared a brief memo breaking down the actions of both the House and the Senate, the process Congress is currently engaged in, and the options for moving forward, which you can find on my website at www.forbes.house.gov. On February 27, 2015, DHS funding is set to expire and, currently, Congress is lacking the consensus necessary to avoid a partial shutdown. Many people are questioning political strategies and what Congress should do next. But from a broader perspective, this debate is about so much more than DHS funding or even the immigration crisis. It’s about whether any president has the authority to selectively enforce and unilaterally rewrite democratically passed laws. It’s about whether the president is above the rule of law.
It’s difficult to surmise all of the levels of society the concept of rule of law touches, in part because we expect the rule of law to be there. It’s one of those things that you may not notice because it’s built into the inner machineries of our government and our way of life in America. It isn’t perfect, by all means. But on the whole, it works, allowing freedom in property, business, family, education, health, to name a few. The Heritage Foundation lists rule of law as one of the four freedom categories used to create its Index of Economic Freedom. Why? Because the rule of law creates economic freedom by introducing certainty into economic relationships.
In order to work, however, a nation built on the rule of law requires interdependence. We call it separation of powers, but what that really means is that through a system of checks and balances, authority is shared between three branches to ensure the government itself is held accountable to the law. In that way, we are interdependent on each other in a system of checks and balances that assumes no one has the upper-hand except the Constitution itself.
This is why unilateral action by the executive to exert authority that properly lies with the legislature is so egregious. It sets a standard opposite of the intentions of our founding documents. It gives future presidents authority to selectively enforce and unilaterally rewrite democratically passed laws. It lays the groundwork for ironhanded governing. This should frighten all Americans – no matter where they are on the political spectrum and regardless of where they stand on the policy issue at hand.
Our institutions, our Constitution, and our nation’s foundation are built on the rule of law. When the system is weakened through disregard for the law, we may not notice the impacts right away. But slowly we will realize that to chip away at the rule of law is to weaken all other pillars of our society.
The rule of law isn’t a piece of our government structure. It is the guardian thread that runs through every fiber of our government structure. Rule of law is a necessary condition for justice and liberty to work. Without it, our government will crumble.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Randy Forbes announced today that a representative from his office will hold open office hours on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, from 1:00 PM am until 2:00 PM, at the Dinwiddie County Government Center, 14016 Boydton Plank Road, Dinwiddie, Virginia23841.
For years, I’ve headed to the Virginia Diner to meet with my Farmers Advisory Board, a group of Fourth District family farmers who counsel me on issues that are impacting the agricultural industry. It’s a fitting spot – the Virginia Diner (known by many for its Virginia ham and buttery biscuits that draw visitors down Rt. 460) is surrounded by farmland, nestled right in the heart of the Fourth District’s agricultural industry. We come to our Advisory Board meetings hungry, not just for those buttermilk biscuits, but for answers to challenges farmers face every day.
Like many other industries, our farmers face significant challenges and the need for practical solutions. But unlike other industries, family farms find themselves in a unique spot.
Farmers are business owners. They care about growing their farms – they want to be the most efficient and most productive at what they do. Most farmers also have a deep appreciation for their land. About 90 percent of Virginia farms are owned and operated by individuals or families, so many of these farmers have worked their land for years. They know their plots inside and out, and they care about the proper treatment of the environment and resources around them.
Our farmers also contribute to the strength of their communities. They look for new ways to nourish the surrounding regions with their food supplies. American farmers truly labor at the intersection of innovation, business, food supply, and environmental management.
And every day, and increasingly more year after year, our farmers face the burden of unbridled regulations. Many of the conversations my Farmers Advisory Board and I have around those red-checkered tables at the Virginia Diner fall on the topic of regulations.
Farmers tell me how federal mandates force them to choose what kinds and amounts of crops to grow, not based on business decisions, but on government demands. They tell me how regulations have hampered their ability to reinvest in their farms because they have to keep up with the cost of fuel, permit, and machinery requirements. In fact, when you look at the list of regulations facing farmers, it’s incredible the red tape they have to untangle just for the regular, daily operation of a farm.
There are rules regulating the flow of agriculture products into the market, including the way they are labeled and advertised. There are rules regulating natural farm dust and other normal activities of farming, which are classified as “particulate matter” and defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as pollution.
There are rules requiring farmers to implement expensive and often unnecessary infrastructure improvements to comply with storage regulations. There are rules requiring farmers to implement lengthy spill prevention plans.
There are rules for inspecting, sampling, and testing seeds. There are rules for what abbreviations can be used in labeling seeds. There are rules for livestock feeding operations. There are rules that limit the way crop producers can utilize crop protection chemicals to fight against invasive species that threaten their production yields. There are rules regarding how farms must respond to natural farm byproducts that have moved due to normal rainfall or snowmelt.
There are rules that prohibit farmers from protecting their livestock from predators like the Black Vulture because they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. There are rules that require costly containment facilities and infrastructure improvements. There are rules that require inspection and certification processes.
These are just a few. In fact, you can look at the EPA website or the Department of Agriculture for full lists.
To be fair, not all regulations are bad, nor were they intended to create undue hardship for our farmers. We need common sense regulations that protect human health. We need regulations that provide for safety, protect our environment, and ensure the humane treatment of animals. However, too many of these regulations are duplicative, overly stringent, and create unintended consequences. The result is costly mandates on our farmers that lead many to consider leaving the occupation they love and have lived – many of them for generations. It is why many farmers tell me that now either their children have opted out of a farming career, or the farmers themselves told their children not to follow in their footsteps.
In Virginia, agriculture is our largest industry. It has an economic impact of $52 billion annually and provides more than 311,000 jobs in the Commonwealth, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report earlier this month stating that net income for farmers is expected to fall by nearly 32 percent this year as prices for some crops remain low and expenses creep higher. We cannot afford to allow federal regulations to drag down such an important pillar in our economy nor contribute to our facing a day when we rely as heavily on foreign countries for our food as we do oil.
As we work to rein in federal regulations all around, we also have to start chipping away at burdensome farm regulations. That’s why I’ve supported legislation like the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act, or the FUELS Act, which requires regulations be revised to reflect a farmer’s spill risk and financial resources. I have engaged the Secretary of Agriculture to provide flexibility for farmers seeking to protect their livestock from predators like the Black Vulture. I have also cosponsored the Waters of the U.S. Regulatory Overreach Protection Act to prevent agencies like the EPA and the Army Corps from heaping new regulatory burdens onto the shoulders of our already overburdened agriculture community. These are small steps, but ones that will make a big difference in the lives of American farmers.
Although many of us may be several generations removed from the daily upkeep of a family farm, we are all very much connected to the agricultural industry through our food supply and our economy. For years, our farmers have led us in a commitment to community, a love for our environment and countryside, and a resolve to work hard and succeed. It’s our turn to empower family farms to continue to lead the way.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Randy Forbes announced today that a representative from his office will hold open office hours on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM, at the Hopewell Maude Langhorne Nelson Public Library, 209 East Cawson Street, Hopewell, Virginia 23860.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, will chair a hearing on the “Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request” on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM.
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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Randy Forbes announced today that a representative from his office will hold open office hours on Monday, March 2, 2015, from 4:00 pm until 5:00 pm, Powhatan County Administration Building, 3834 Old Buckingham Road, Powhatan, Virginia 23139.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Randy Forbes announced today that a representative from his office will hold open office hours on Monday, March 2, 2015, from 1:00 PM until 2:00 PM, at the Nottoway County Administration Building, 344 West Courthouse Road, Nottoway, Virginia 23955.
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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Randy Forbes announced today that a representative from his office will hold open office hours on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, from 2:30 PM until 3:30 PM, at The Prince George Public Library, 6605 Courts Drive, Prince George, Virginia 23875.
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Randy Forbes announced today that a representative from his office will hold open office hours on Monday, March 2, 2015, from 2:30 PM until 3:30 PM, in the Amelia County Administration Building, 16360 Dunn Street, Amelia, Virginia 23002.
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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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Good news today on the passage in the House of HR 529, which will improve college savings & prepaid tuition plans & make them more flexible
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In light of the atrocities being committed against Christians & other religious minorities, we cannot remain silent http://t.co/7dV9bnVDJH
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Briefed on current capabilities & long range plans for expansion at Richmond Executive-Chesterfield County Airport: http://t.co/caarv7i2c4
As the debate in Congress continues over how to fund the important priorities of the DHS, without funding its implementation of the President’s
Snowy morning on Capitol Hill – and I know the 4th District is getting even more weather than Washington. What does it look like out your window?
This week, the Heritage Foundation released a new study describing how the US military has been decimated by sequestration under this Administration,
Good news today on the passage in the House of HR 529, which will improve college savings and prepaid tuition plans and make them more flexible.
In the face of the atrocities being committed against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, this Administration cannot