Jeff Fortenberry

Jeff Fortenberry


Fort Report: Reshoring


This month, a young Nebraska woman named Autumn was awarded a "Women in Manufacturing STEP award" for her excellence in science, technology, engineering, and production. I had the pleasure of congratulating her for her hard work and ingenuity when she visited Washington. We talked about manufacturing's importance in providing good paying jobs that can support families and its role in strengthening and diversifying local economies. During our meeting, we also discussed a promising trend: "reshoring." The word “outsourcing” appeared several years ago to describe the business phenomenon of companies shifting manufacturing and other services overseas. As more and more industrial products lost their American branding, the transfer in manufacturing triggered widespread alarm. "Reshoring,” the term that describes the trend of jobs returning to America, is an encouraging pattern and a great opportunity to accelerate our economic recovery. Our recovery’s anemic pace has left the middle class circling in downward mobility, the working class struggling for economic security, and the poor trapped in generational stagnation. Americans are confronting static wages, an increased cost of living, and a de-industrialized market, which has been further harmed by government overreach impacting the small business sector. Declining blue collar earning power amid an entrepreneurial winter is disrupting the financial security of many families. But we have an opportunity on the horizon.  Manufacturing is central to small business success and to economic recovery. It has historically been one of America's—and Nebraska's—economic bright spots. Recently, it has experienced new growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nebraska has added thousands of manufacturing jobs in recent years. Many of these jobs are found in Nebraska's First Congressional District, in what I like to call Nebraska's "manufacturing triangle." The communities of Columbus, Fremont, and Norfolk all boast a strong industrial base rooted in specialized manufacturing. A number of factors contribute to "reshoring." Wage rates have leveled somewhat between the U.S. and other nations, while the cost of transporting raw materials and finished products has increased. Energy costs have dropped domestically, due to increased American energy production and the application of new practices and technology that increase energy efficiency. Another new word is mechatronics, which combines traditional fields of vocational education with advanced fields in the digital age: computer technology and engineering. Community colleges are beginning to implement programs in mechatronics, readying young people for extraordinary opportunities in manufacturing and empowering them to use their skill sets to provide high levels of wages and to create long term economic stability. It will be innovative manufacturers like Autumn, though, who will help ensure that "reshoring" is not just a trend, but an important component of America's economic recovery. If we are serious about rebuilding the "Made in America" label, the innovation and vision of manufacturing leaders and small business entrepreneurs in Nebraska offers the nation a solid model of how to move forward Read More

Fortenberry Statement on Senator Chambers


Lincoln, NE – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) today made the following statement regarding state Senator Ernie Chambers’ recent remarks before the Nebraska Legislature: “Senator Chambers’ long history of bullying, bigotry, and hatred has reached a new low. This latest episode of condoning violence against police is reckless and contradicts the sacred duty of a lawmaker to protect society. To refer to the police as ISIL further adds to the indignity. I ask that the Legislature – at a minimum – censure Senator Chambers, particularly in light of his refusal to take back his words.” Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and serves as co-chair of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus. ### Read More

Fortenberry Reintroduces Chief Standing Bear Trail Legislation


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and cosponsor Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) announced that the Natural Resources Committee approved their legislation directing the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail (H.R. 984). Fortenberry previously spoke before the House of Representatives in support of the legislation. A video of his remarks can be found below: [[{"fid":"270","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full"},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"Fortenberry Urges House Passage of Legislation to Designate Chief Standing Bear Trail","height":"380","width":"640","class":"media-element file-full"}}]]   “The story of the Ponca Chief Standing Bear is a story of strength, grace, and dignity in the protection of the most basic of human rights,” Fortenberry said. “I believe it is a story that needs to be told again and again, understood, and cherished by all Americans of coming generations. The establishment of the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail would honor both the courage and legacy of this brave individual and his contribution to the civil liberties of our nation.” “As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, I take great pride in remembering the achievements of brave Native American leaders like Chief Standing Bear,” Cole said. “His unwavering fight to secure equal treatment under the law for America’s native people helped pave the way for many more remarkable achievements that have been and will be made by Indians across America. Designating a trail in his memory would not only honor his legacy but inspire generations to come, and I am very pleased by Congressman Fortenberry’s commitment to making that a reality in the future.” Judi gaiashkibos, Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, said, “We welcome this vote by the House Natural Resources Committee passing with unanimous consent the Chief Standing Bear Trail Feasibility Study bill. This is a significant step forward toward federal recognition of the trail and its importance to United States civil rights history. We want to thank Congressman Fortenberry for his passionate stewardship and his unwavering commitment to bring Chief Standing Bear’s journey for justice to a National Audience.” A similar bill passed the House of Representatives last December. Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He first introduced legislation to honor Chief Standing Bear in the 110th Congress and the resolution by approved by the House in 2008. Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee, Budget Committee and Rules Committee. Representing the Fourth District of Oklahoma, Cole is one of only two Native Americans currently serving in Congress, where he is a leader on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments. ###   Read More

Fort Report: You're Invited - Academies and Arts


Last year, I nominated a young man from Nebraska to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. An Army representative attended his graduation awards night and presented his appointment. The young man shook his hand and began to walk off the stage. The Army officer commandingly said, “Cadet, you have not been dismissed!” The young man froze in his tracks. The entire audience began to laugh and gave him a standing ovation. It was one of those moments where the community had reason to celebrate – and the young man got a dose of what was to come in his military service.  One of the most moving parts of my job is appointing young men and women to the military academies, helping the next generation to step up in service for our country. These institutions train students to excel in academics and military affairs. They seek well-rounded individuals with the highest levels of academic achievement as well as a demonstrated record of commitment to athletics, student activities, and civic organizations. Other young people throughout Nebraska will take advantage of other excellent opportunities to enlist or join officer training programs in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Merchant Marine, and Coast Guard, as well as Reserve and National Guard forces.  In collaboration with the offices of U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, my office is hosting the "2015 Academy and Military Information Day" on Saturday, March 28, at Lincoln East High School. The program will feature military and service academy representatives, beginning at 10:00 am. I invite you to join us and to forward this invitation to someone who may be interested. There’s another exciting opportunity for high school students who are interested in the arts. In the hallways of the Capitol, artwork from young people around America is displayed on the walls. One particular image stands out: an older couple with weathered faces who have worked hard, loved one another, and exude the beautiful gift of life. A high school student from Bancroft created this moving image.  My office is again hosting Nebraska’s First Congressional District Art Competition. The nationwide Congressional Art Competition began in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and serves as an opportunity for Members of Congress to showcase the artistic talents of high school students from their districts. Winning entries from across the country are displayed in the Capitol complex for one year, allowing visitors to see the work of talented young persons.  More information on these opportunities can be found below.  Academy and Military Information Day: The “2015 Academy and Military Information Day” will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2015 from 9:15 am to 12:00 pm at Lincoln East High School, located at 1000 South 70th Street in Lincoln. The program begins at 10:00 am, and military representatives will be available before and after the program. More information on the academy nomination process can be found at If you have additional questions, please contact Jeanne Walker on my staff at (402) 438-1598.  Art Competition: Art Competition entries can be submitted to my Lincoln office and are due by April 15, 2015. I encourage you to contact the office prior to bringing the artwork to assure that staff is available to take your submission. If you wish to mail your submission, please send your artwork to my office in Lincoln. More information on the competition can be found at If you have additional questions, please contact Marie Woodhead on my staff at (402) 438-1598.   Read More

Fort Report: The Budget Balance


In the midst of America’s many challenges—deep political divides, halting economic progress, ongoing conflict in the Middle East—our government is gearing up for the critical but difficult work of the budgetary cycle. I share the concerns of many people who worry about spending and growing debt, not to mention the frustration at our inability to reach a consensus on budgetary sanity. Partisan sniping and competing claims in the news complicate the impression of the process. Although budgeting rarely follows an orderly procedure, the prescribed order is fairly easy to understand. The House and Senate propose, work on, and agree to a budget number. The President also submits a budget, which does not necessarily have bearing on the Congressional version. With an overall number, the Appropriations Committee sets discretionary funding levels for federal agencies and programs ranging from the Department of Defense to National Parks, from the Peace Corps to Veterans Affairs. Other programs in Washington are called mandatory and include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. These programs, along with interest on the debt, account for more than two-thirds of the overall budget.  Repairing our national budget is one of my highest priorities in Congress. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have frontline responsibilities for delivering smart and effective government while moving us toward fiscal stability. Under the normal process, the discretionary budget is divided into 12 separate Appropriations bills. After these bills pass the Committee, they are considered before the entire House. This ensures more transparency over the vast enterprise of government.  I serve on three subcommittees with specialized roles. State and Foreign Operations has jurisdiction over the State Department, certain treasury procedures, and aspects of military financing. Military Construction and Veterans Affairs oversees our military infrastructure, including our nuclear architecture, and important veterans programs. Energy and Water Development helps govern a broad spectrum of energy programs, nuclear weapons security, and vast infrastructure projects across the country. The critical annual task of budgeting is underway. Fortunately, through aggressive work and negotiation, we have brought the discretionary budget below 2010 levels. However, the government still spends more than it receives. This year's projected spending is $3.677 trillion. Our country currently has a budget deficit of about $500 billion and a debt of $18 trillion, which has grown by $7 trillion in the last 6 years, harming economic recovery and national security. Although the deficit has fallen significantly due to spending reductions, tax code changes, and some economic growth, our debt continues to have consequences. It unfairly pushes the tax burden onto the next generation; it effectively shifts the assets of America to other countries, like China, which buy the debt; and it causes economic distortions that hurt the poor and those on fixed income the most. If we were to pay the debt off all at once, every American would owe more than $56,000. Confronting such significant numbers, Congress should have a new urgency as it reengages the slow, hard, messy process of keeping the government running. Disruptions to the normal budgeting process are counterproductive and result in year-end legislative packages called omnibus bills. While last minute omnibus packages are not the best way to govern, they often do reflect many of the changes made throughout the year by the Appropriations Committee. To help facilitate better understanding, I have created several charts that try to communicate this vast and complex topic in a digestible manner. They are visible on my website, which you can visit at, or you can download them here. I hope they help illustrate our current spending, our current programs—and where the math doesn’t add up.   Read More

Norfolk Daily News: Fortenberry offers his take on America


After decades of societal changes in the United States and all of the internal arguments about what the country should be, the world still views America as, well, America. U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry told members of the Norfolk Rotary Club on Tuesday that despite a preoccupation with pop culture and squabbling over health care, the U.S. is still regarded as a reference point on the world map and moral compass. Fortenberry, a member of the House state and foreign operations subcommittee, made stops in several cities in his 1st District on Tuesday to provide an update on a project to create a World War II memorial as a gift to France. But the conversation quickly moved into a self assessment of America. Click here to read the entire article.  Read More

Fort Report: 72 Years of the Nebraska Breakfast


When you are visiting Washington, you are welcome to attend the Nebraska Breakfast! Each week when the House and Senate are in session, the Nebraska delegation gathers on Wednesday mornings in an unbroken tradition that extends 72 years. The Nebraska Breakfast began in 1943 when Senator Hugh Butler began meeting informally with the other members of the Congressional delegation and their guests. The breakfast is a unique event on Capitol Hill, and as this year’s host, I am happy to extend this invitation to you.   We get started at 8:00 AM in the Dirksen Senate cafeteria. Each delegation member gives a brief update on current issues and introduces their guests. Persons having business with the government, dignitaries, families on vacation, and school groups make the event a diverse and welcome addition to a Washington political environment that is often burdened with partisan cynicism. Sometimes people from other states and visitors to the Capitol join us for the breakfast. We try to inject a little levity into the event, which offers an intimate forum for political news, for meeting with other visitors from Nebraska, and for having a little fun.   Particularly in the summer, we welcome school groups and young students. It's good to see young people eager to engage in deepening their understanding of our civic culture. One organization that regularly visits is the 4-H Club, which has a long-established program in citizenship. Growing up, I was very active in 4-H and participated in the trip to Washington. I owe a great deal to this organization, which provided extraordinary opportunity and good formation. I still carry those experiences with me.   So it is with great pride that during 4-H Club visits I invite everyone to stand and recite the 4-H pledge:   I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.   The pledge is a good summary statement for America's narrative of responsibility and service, and it captures the spirit of our breakfast as well. Many Nebraskans know it by heart, and the words seem to come back pretty effortlessly. The pledge brings back happy memories, provides a seventh inning stretch during our hour long gathering—and honestly, helps keep the kids awake during our speeches!   This year’s remaining Nebraska Breakfasts are scheduled for March 18 and 25; April 15, 22, and 29; May 13 and 20; June 3, 10, 17, and 24; July 8, 15, 22, and 29; September 9, 16, and 30; and October 7.   I hope you can join us! I will be there with my budget slides—and if you time it right, you might get to recite the 4-H pledge. For more information and to attend, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-4806 or at   Read More

Fort Report: Health Care Repair


When I was a young person buying health insurance on my own, the price was very expensive, as it is for many people. Given the cost, I chose a plan with a very high deductible. On one occasion, a very bad and lingering headache compelled me to seek medical treatment. To save money, I assumed it would be best to go straight to a specialist due to the intensity of the pain. The Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor tried to diagnose my condition. She took an X-ray and said, “I can't determine your problem, so I need to do a CAT scan.” I responded by saying that I understood the difficulty with medical liability and the need to be thorough, but do you really need the test? She responded: "Why are you telling me this?" I said, "Because I'm paying for these tests!" She then paused and suggested we call both places in town, compare prices, and ask for a discount given that we didn’t need the intensity of a standard CAT scan. Partnering with my doctor to better manage my resources, we found a place to provide the tests for much less. Perhaps more importantly, by asking a simple question, community resources were better allocated with no waste. This model, although not new, is the future of medicine—families in partnership with their doctors, asking the proper questions to get the right treatment while saving money. Our current health care law has helped some but hurt many others. Costs are skyrocketing and one new government subsidized insurer has collapsed. With seemingly no way out of the problem, we need health care repair: a new framework for the right type of health care reform that will reduce costs, improve outcomes, and protect vulnerable persons. Building on these principles I introduced a suite of health care bills that strengthens the opportunity for all Americans to acquire catastrophic insurance and health savings accounts. The Health Savings Account Act and Care for All Act provide better vehicles for the next generation to solve health care difficulties. The combination of a tax-advantaged savings account with access to guaranteed quality insurance is the right way forward for many Americans. This will make us better stewards of ordinary medical costs while protecting us if something significant goes wrong. Another part of this new approach has to be price transparency. No one goes into a grocery store and asks for 20 bottles, 10 pounds, and a few sacks of whatever they stock. People look at prices first. The medical system has to adjust to this reality—and the government should incentivize that adjustment. We should not return to the days when some Americans were excluded from buying quality affordable insurance. But our current model is flawed, creating anxiety and economic damage. A new architecture of health care repair is needed that combines the incentive to watch first dollar costs, with renewed vibrancy in the  insurance market place. We can restore excellence in health care--and give peace of mind to you and your doctor.      Read More

Fortenberry, Colleagues Reintroduce Health Care Conscience Rights Act


Washington, D.C. – Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Diane Black (R-TN), and John Fleming (R-LA) today announced the reintroduction of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940). This legislation would protect Americans’ freedom of conscience by offering full exemption from the Health and Human Services mandate that creates ethical dilemmas for health care providers and small business owners. The bill ensures protections for individuals and health care entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer patients to abortion providers because of their deeply held beliefs.    The legislation would also address the unlawful violation of religious freedom in California, where the state Department of Managed Health Care issued a directive requiring that all insurance plans offered on the state exchange include coverage for abortions, including plans provided by churches, religious entities, and others with conscionable objections to such procedures.    “The rights of conscience and religious freedom preexist the government,” Fortenberry said. “They are rights grounded by the demands of human dignity and are enshrined in our Constitution. It is a true poverty—that in the name of health care—this most cherished American principle is under assault, violating longstanding legislative agreement and precedent. The Health Care Conscience Rights Act restores this principle for all Americans.”    The Health Care Conscience Rights Act currently has 110 bipartisan cosponsors. Fortenberry, Black, and Fleming originally introduced H.R. 940 in the 113th Congress.  Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.  ### Read More

Fortenberry Introduces Farm to School Act


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) today joined Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) to introduce the Farm to School Act to expand and strengthen the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to School Grant program. Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.  “Schools throughout Nebraska and across the U.S. are eagerly embracing local foods from local farms,” Fortenberry said. “More than 10,000 schools participate in Farm to School programs and we can incentivize this important trend. The Farm to School Act creates a win-win-win for schools, students and area farmers. Schools have more options to purchase fresh food, students receive nutritious meal choices, and farmers and ranchers are given new market opportunities.” The Farm to School Act promotes the use of fresh, locally produced foods in schools. The legislation will expand the existing USDA Farm to School Grant program to include preschools and summer and after school programs. Tribal schools will also see increased access to foods from tribal producers.      In the 2008 Farm Bill, Fortenberry sponsored language allowing optional geographic preference in sourcing local foods for school nutrition programs and helped improve USDA’s Farm to School initiative.   Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He is a former chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Credit.    ### Read More

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Contact Information

1514 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-4806
Fax 202-225-5686

Committee Assignments


Jeff Fortenberry was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2004 to serve Nebraska’s First Congressional District. His work in Congress is rooted in the belief that the strength of our nation depends on the strength of our families and communities. Jeff is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which appropriates United States government expenditures. He serves on three subcommittees with importance for Nebraska: Agriculture, Energy and Water, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

Jeff previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee where he placed particular focus on human rights concerns, Middle Eastern affairs, and nuclear weapons non-proliferation. He also represented Nebraska on the Agriculture Committee, where his work on two Farm Bills advanced opportunities for young and beginning farmers and promoted agricultural entrepreneurship.

Prior to serving in Congress, Jeff worked as a publishing industry executive in Lincoln, where he also served on the Lincoln City Council from 1997-2001. Jeff also has significant personal experience in small business, and early in his career he worked as a policy analyst for the United States Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations. Jeff earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and two master’s degrees, one in public policy. He and his wife Celeste live in Lincoln and have five daughters.

Serving With

Adrian Smith


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