Jeff Fortenberry

Jeff Fortenberry


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

Fort Report: To Use Force


When I was a young college student, I spent several months in the country of Egypt. I lived for a time with farmers on a large oasis in the midst of the desert. English was limited so you did the best you could. One day I remember how a Muslim man took his neighbor’s wrist, pressed it to his forehead, and bowed slightly. His neighbor was a Coptic Christian. He wanted to show a sign of respect to his friend—and tell me that I was welcome. Members of the Coptic Church, which was founded nearly two millennia ago, often tattoo their wrists with crosses to signify their identity and faith. This man’s simple but profound gesture is difficult to reconcile with the scenes of terrorism that are dominating headlines from the Middle East. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has conquered large swaths of Syria and Iraq and continues its brutal religious and ethnic cleansing, even making propagandistic films to horrify its opponents and recruit radicalized conscripts around the world. While the civilized world is reeling from the scenes of the fiery death of a caged Jordanian Air Force pilot, a new film shows black-clad militants marching 21 captive Coptic men—poor migrant workers from Egypt—along the shore of the Mediterranean. They are then beheaded for no reason other than their Christian faith. The gruesome act occurred in Libya, demonstrating that ISIL has metastasized far beyond its original borders. ISIL has also murdered Americans. The White House confirmed that ISIL is responsible for the deaths of four American hostages, including Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old humanitarian worker who was kidnapped while assisting refugees in Syria. Recent shootings in Paris and Copenhagen demonstrate that ISIL could jeopardize our security at home—and nearly everyone agrees that one of Washington’s highest priorities should be keeping America safe. President Obama last week requested from Congress an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIL. The request, which comes amid ongoing American airstrikes that have already damaged the organization’s operations, is appropriate. The current legal parameters go back to the post-9/11 period and are clearly stretched.  Whether or not an authorization is granted, Congress can now debate the merits and strategies of a military effort to degrade and destroy ISIL. America’s airstrikes began last August against ISIL positions in Northern Iraq as part of a humanitarian intervention to save thousands of vulnerable religious minorities facing imminent genocide. The key to ultimately defeating ISIL should depend on the strength of an international coalition, including effective partner countries in the region who must fight for themselves. In response to the death of its pilot, Jordan escalated its air campaign. After the execution of the Coptic Christians, Egypt launched retaliatory airstrikes against ISIL targets in Libya. In Northern Iraq, the Kurdish Peshmerga, a moderate and capable force, show determined courage in fighting ISIL. The Kurds are winning a number of strategic victories and defending the values of tolerance and pluralism, sheltering hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Christians, Yezidis, and innocent Muslims who have fled ISIL’s relentless persecution. The Kurds deserve our robust support.  Authorizing the use of force is one of the most serious responsibilities of Congress. Admittedly, there is significant mistrust between Congress and the White House. Too broad of an authorization could lead to endless war. Too narrow of an authorization could hamper the flexibility of necessary operations. No authorization could give the President a weaker hand in security matters. What I also see is that other countries will gladly hide behind U.S. efforts and minimize their own risks. That can’t happen either.    Read More

Fortenberry Statement on Court Ruling Blocking President's Executive Amnesty


Lincoln, NE – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) today made the following statement after United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a preliminary injunction blocking President Obama's plans for executive amnesty: "The court ruling represents a sigh of relief for a majority of Americans who are rightfully concerned about the President's recent actions. President Obama cannot simply change the substance of the law on his own. The President's actions have derailed serious deliberation over immigration policy, and the court has appropriately taken an initial step to fix the problem." Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. ###   Read More

Fort Report: Nebraska Quarter


Given all the difficulties around the world, sometimes it’s good to take a break and celebrate things happening right here in Nebraska. The Homestead Act, one of the most consequential pieces of legislation ever enacted in the United States, was signed into law in 1862. More than 150 years later we look back and still see its substantive effects on how our society was shaped. Due to the law, about ten percent of United States land was transferred to private ownership. Acquiring property took only an $18 filing fee, a commitment to improve the land, and a dream. There are now an estimated 93 million descendants of homesteaders.  Earlier this week in Beatrice, the United States Mint launched a commemorative quarter honoring the Homestead National Monument of America. The coin is part of a series recognizing 56 national parks and other national sites. Homestead National Monument, a special unit of the National Park Service, is a gem of the Midwest and a treasure for all Americans. The monument, located on the site of one of the first homesteads, commemorates the lives and accomplishments of the pioneers.   The Monument celebrates the spirit of those hardy, visionary individuals who understood the appeal of life on the plains and who helped to reshape the American landscape. It also honors the first Americans—Native Americans who were the first stewards of our precious resources. Nebraska is forever linked to our homesteading ancestors, who populated this country and imparted to future generations a lasting spirit of courage, tenacity, and achievement. The monument highlights our best traditions—dedication, personal responsibility, and strong family life—while reflecting the vibrancy of rural America. The quarter will serve as a reminder of the Homestead Act of 1862 and the role it continues to play in shaping who we are today.  What made the Homestead Act of 1862 such a remarkable public policy success was its recognition of a universal desire to own and keep land and to feel connectedness and belonging to a certain place in a certain time. For so many who otherwise had so little, the Homestead Act created the chance to work hard, sustain the land, and create a new beginning. The release of the coin was the culmination of years of preparation and hard work by Mark Engler, Homestead’s superintendent, and many others in the Beatrice community. Admission to Homestead National Monument of America is free and I encourage everyone to visit this unique site, admire the impressive tallgrass prairie, and enjoy the unique Heritage Center. Read More

Fortenberry Calls on United States and Allies to Arm the Kurds


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) today issued the following statement calling on the United States and key allies to increase military assistance to the Kurdish peshmerga—a military force on the front lines of the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  “The international campaign to defeat ISIL depends in great part on the strength and effectiveness of trusted partners in the Middle East. The Kurdish peshmerga is a moderate and capable force. The Kurds are showing determined courage in fighting ISIL. The Kurds are winning a number of strategic victories. The Kurds are defending the values of tolerance and pluralism, sheltering hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Christians, Yezidis, and Muslims who have fled ISIL’s onslaught. They deserve robust support.   “Their foe is a threat to regional stability and to American national security. Driven by a twisted form of Islam, ISIL’s militants are 8th century barbarians wielding 21st century weaponry. The recent videotaped immolation of a caged Jordanian pilot is a horrific reminder of their brutality. The White House yesterday confirmed that they are now responsible for the deaths of four American hostages, including Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old humanitarian worker who was captured while assisting refugees in Syria. Confronted by such acts, the United States, Sunni Arab nations, and key allies, including Germany, Britain, and France, should enhance military support for the Kurds.” Fortenberry, along with colleagues Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), led passage of a bipartisan resolution (H. Res. 683) last summer condemning the severe persecution that Christians and other ethnic and religious minority communities are suffering in Iraq. The resolution also called for an international humanitarian intervention to aid these innocent civilian groups.   Fortenberry is a Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. He was recently appointed Co-Chair of the Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East. ###   Read More

Fort Report: Super Bowl Commercials


I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. And I have to say, it was a great game: the back and forth drama, athleticism, and spectacular plays, particularly in the end. As I sat in my chair, watching the sportsmen compete in this great tradition that remains one of America’s cultural touchstones, I did, so to speak, keep the remote close at hand. The Super Bowl commercials that weave between great plays might be a fascinating survey of social trends, but I am a father—not a social scientist—and perhaps like you, I am responsible for distracting attention when advertisements get out of hand. Among the silly commercials (the Kardashian one), the stupid commercials (the Kardashian one), and the risqué commercials (the Kardashian one—and others), I found some uplifting surprises. Several advertisements channeled genuine charm and warmth. One was reminiscent of the poignant “God Made the Farmer” commercial from two years ago. Several car companies offered tributes to fatherhood with moving presentations of relationships between dads and their sons and daughters. A soap company asked “What makes a man stronger?” and answered with a montage of fathers and children in family life, ending with a humorous pitch for their product. Another car commercial concluded with “The world is a gift: play responsibly”—a good way of expressing a deeper truth. A fast food company agreed to give away food when customers called their mothers. Super Bowl commercials are a barometer of American culture. Often shown just once a year, these colorful and inventive advertisements highlight seismic social and commercial trends. Marketing executives around the world dream of 30 second game spots that can capture the moment and sell a product. For better or for worse, these game time commercials are a reflection of our identity—or at least of the direction where Hollywood and big business want us to go. Maybe Hollywood and big business have concluded that their power can have major impact on the imagination of people around the country. Rather than appealing to that which is degraded and exploitive, perhaps marketing executives are realizing Americans yearn for a message focused on something higher and good, something beneficial to persons, which in turn is good for business. Read More

Fremont Tribune: Fortenberry visits Bergan’s government class


Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – those are the founding principles of the United States. On Friday, U.S. government students at Archbishop Bergan Catholic High School had a special guest to help affirm that lesson. U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry spent time outlining those funding principles and answering a variety of questions prepared by the students. Click here to read the entire article. Read More

Fort Report: Drones


A friend of mine told me of an incident that happened while she was working outside of her home. They live in the country and the rest of the family was gone. She was tending to their garden when she heard an odd noise. An eerie feeling came over her. She suspected that she was being watched but couldn’t place the source. She is convinced that a drone of some kind had flown over her property. Along with the invasion of privacy, she felt a deep sense of personal violation.  No American should have to feel this way. An intense debate is underway in Washington over the use of drones—an especially sensitive subject with competing privacy and security concerns. America is increasingly turning to drones for purposes that range from science to economics to national security. Drones facilitate difficult research, flying into wilderness areas and harsh climates where people cannot travel. Entrepreneurs use them for commercial reasons. Farmers are deploying the technology for better crop management.  Congress first mandated developing drones for military missions. Drones have effectively gathered intelligence, and in some cases crippled terrorist leadership structures without risk to troops. On battlefields without defined borders, drones have been integrated into defense strategy. The United States remains the world leader in developing and applying this technology, but soon enough small and undetectable drones might begin flying from other nations into our territory. Imagine an undetected armed drone nearing a crowded football stadium.   This week a commercial drone crashed on the White House grounds. The incident triggered worry about the President’s security. Initial accounts indicated that a civilian was piloting the “quadcopter” for recreational purposes when a problem sent the drone plunging onto the White House lawn. It turns out the individual was a government employee. One thing is clear: as the technology becomes less expensive, these flying objects will become more pervasive.   A balance must be struck between using drones appropriately for research, socially beneficial market innovation, and national security—while also protecting civil liberties and personal privacy. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has compiled a roadmap for integrating unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace; however, the FAA has not completed the congressionally mandated set of regulations for proper government and commercial use. A Congressional Research Service report has highlighted a myriad of potential legal difficulties of drone proliferation. The President has expanded drone programs, but after the White House incident, he is now calling for more regulations. In 2015, Congress must reauthorize funding for the FAA, perhaps providing a broader legislative platform for the debate on the future use of drones in our country.   When I was a child, I enjoyed building and flying model airplanes. I had to warm the engine with a battery and carefully start the propeller with a finger. Then I flew the plane in a circle by controlling two wires that connected to the rudder. Technology has certainly changed. As 21st century advances in engineering, robotics, and aeronautics continues, the drone debate raises deeper questions about how technology must serve the good of society and not infringe upon basic liberties. Read More

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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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