Washington Update - Continued oversight of the Department of Justice, Held the IRS accountable for targeting particular groups, Reduced burdensome regulations

Congressman J. Randy Forbes
2013-08-05 10:21:26
Send me an email | Forward to a Friend July 22 - August 2, 2013 Twitter Facebook YouTube Digg RSS
Send me an email | Forward to a Friend
July 22 - August 2, 2013

Continued Oversight of the Department of Justice

Congressman Forbes joined all Judiciary Committee Republicans in sending a

Held the IRS accountable for targeting particular groups

Congressman Forbes cosponsored and supported the Stop Targeting Our Politics (STOP) IRS Act, .  In 1998, Congress enacted the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act, which provides that IRS employees can be terminated if there is a determination that the employee committed certain egregious acts.  The Act lays out ten specific offenses that would warrant termination; however, the targeting of a taxpayer for political purposes is not mentioned.  The STOP IRS Act adds political targeting to the existing list of offenses IRS employees can be immediately terminated for. The bill passed by voice vote. 

Reduced burdensome regulations

Congressman Forbes cosponsored and supported the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, This bill passed by a vote of 232-183.

Government Reform
Controlled wasteful government spending. Congressman Forbes supported the Stop Playing on Citizen's Cash Act, , which imposes a moratorium on IRS conferences until the recommendations of the Treasury Inspector General (IG) are implemented.  Earlier this year, the IG released a report detailing spending of $4.1million at an August 2010 conference held for executives and managers of the IRS Small Business/Self-Employed Division.   The report included nine recommendations for the IRS to implement, including verifying that conference costs and attendance are being tracked, using IRS personnel to plan future events, and establishing procedures for videos or other technology used in future conferences.   Congressman Forbes also supported the Government Spending Accountability Act, , which sets a $500,000 limitation on conferences held by federal agencies and requires the agency post information about conferences that their employees attend on their website for public disclosure.  Both bills passed by voice vote.

Increased Efforts to Prevent Further Abuse in Government.  Congressman Forbes supported the Stop Government Abuse Act, , which is a compilation of three separate pieces of legislation that 1) allow individuals to , with loss of pay, for misconduct, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or misappropriation of funds; and 3) limit, during any fiscal year in which sequestration is in force, This bill passed by a vote of 239-176.

Improved Customer Service within the Federal Government. Congressman Forbes supported the Government Customer Service Improvement Act, , which requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop standards and goals for continuous customer service improvements, efforts to modernize service delivery, and target response times for telephone calls, email, mail, benefit processing and payments. This legislation further requires the Director of OMB to establish a two-year Service Improvement Unit Pilot Program to assist agencies who do not meet Government-wide standards, and requires the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide administrative and other support for the implementation of this program. This bill passed by a voice vote.

Prevented Illegal Immigrants from Receiving Social Security Benefits.  Current law forbids an individual from receiving Social Security payments if they are here illegally, but their entire work history—even work done as an illegal immigrant—can count toward Social Security benefits if the individual later becomes a legal resident.  Congressman Forbes cosponsored the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act,

Chaired a Hearing to Evaluate Navy Surface Force Readiness. Congressman Forbes Chaired a Hearing on Ensuring Navy Surface Force Effectiveness with Limited Maintenance Resources. Members of the U.S. Navy testified in front of the Subcommittees on Readiness and Seapower and Projection Forces on the readiness of Naval Surface Forces. Defense budget challenges continue to pose an immediate threat to surface ship readiness and affect the greater readiness of the U.S. Navy as a whole. The Congressman has continued to fight against sequestration to prevent current budget limitations from being an even greater detriment to national security. 

Questioned Witnesses on DoD’s Strategic Choices and Management Review. Congressman Forbes participated in a House Armed Services Committee Hearing on the Initial Conclusions Formed by the Defense Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR). The Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter and the Vice Chariman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. testified in front of the Committee on the long-term devastating effects of sequestration. The Congressman voted against and has continued to fight against sequestration, knowing its devastating effects on military readiness and modernization will lead to the demise of America's great-power status. The SCMR process was called for by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in order to prepare the Department of Defense for the various budgetary scenarios the department may face as a result of sequestration.

Supported funding for national security. Congressman Forbes supported the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014, , which provides funding for programs that are vital to the national security of our nation. This bill passed by a vote of 315-109.

Voted to prohibit use of federal funds for targeting U.S. Citizens personal communications. Congressman Forbes supported an , which prohibits any funds from being used to acquire or store content of an American’s communications. This amendment passed by a vote of 409-12. 

Met with the Director of Undersea Warfare. Congressman Forbes met with Rear Admiral Richard P. Breckenridge, Director of Undersea Warfare and Strategic Programs. Anti-submarine and mine warfare, two components of undersea warfare, are vital to the United States’ ability to penetrate anti-access/area-denial areas of operation. The Congressman is a strong supporter of the Virginia-class program and the planned Ohio-class Replacement Program.

Questioned Witnesses on the Administration’s 'Rebalance' to the Asia-Pacific. Congressman Forbes participated in the Full House Armed Services Committee Hearing on Rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific Region and Implications for U.S. National Security. Four experts in the field from various organizations testified in front of the committee on the importance of the Asia-Pacific region. The Congressman has been a strong advocate for American engagement in the region and upholding our commitments to our allies and partners.

Chaired Hearing on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program. Congressman Forbes chaired a hearing on the Littoral Combat Ship Hearing in front of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. Three experts from the Department of Defense and U.S. Government Accountability Office testified in front of the Subcommittee on the development and acquisition of the LCS as well as continuing problems with the program. The Congressman questioned the witnesses on the concurrency between LCS seaframes and modules and the formulation of a realistic concept of operations. The LCS has a critical role to play in the Navy’s future and it is incumbent upon the Seapower Subcommittee to ensure the success of this program.

Foreign Affairs
Met with Israeli Officials. Congressman Forbes met with Governor Gershon Mesika from Israel, who oversees the Samaria region of the nation, located in the Northern portion of the West Bank. The Congressman has worked to ensure continued support for Israel, one of America’s closest allies in the world. With the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Palestine, it is important to ensure Israel’s security and interests are protected.

Voted for stronger sanctions on Iran. Congressman Forbes joined members on both sides of the aisle in passing, The bill passed by a vote of 400-20. 

Supported greater human rights in Vietnam and greater oversight on foreign aid.  Congressman Forbes supported the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, , which caps future U.S. assistance to Vietnam at fiscal year 2012 levels – other than humanitarian assistance such as disaster relief, food, medicine or refugee U.S. aid.  This legislation prevents increases in non-humanitarian aid until the President certified to Congress that Vietnam has made substantial progress in respecting religious freedom, property rights and human rights during the past year.   The bill passed the house by a vote of 405-3. 

Health care
Kept the IRS out of health care.  Congressman Forbes supported the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act, , to prohibit the Treasury Secretary — or any delegate of the secretary, including the Internal Revenue Service — from implementing or enforcing any provisions of the health care law.  This bill passed by a vote of 232- 185. 

Gave College Bound Students Loan Certainty.  Congressman Forbes supported the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, , to retroactively fix the rates for subsidized and unsubsidized student loans for students which doubled on July 1st.  H.R. 1911 would enable student loan interest rates to move with market rates but would fix the rates for the life of the loan at the rate at which the loan was taken out.  This bill passed by a vote of 392-31.

Supported transparency of regulations from the EPA.  Congressman Forbes supported the Energy Consumers Relief Act, , which prohibits the EPA from finalizing energy-related regulations estimated to cost more than $1 billion if the Department determines that the regulations will cause significant adverse effects to the economy. If EPA determines that a proposed regulation would cost more than $1 billion, it must submit a report to Congress and the Energy Department first. The bill passed the house by a vote of 232-181. 

Expanded Choice in Consumer Mortgages.  Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Consumer Mortgage Choice Act, , to promote access to affordable mortgage credit without overturning the important consumer protections which were set in place after the financial crisis.  The bill amends the definition of a Qualified Mortgage (QM) in the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act to promote access to affordable credit by ensuring that safer, properly underwritten mortgages pass the QM test. Under Dodd-Frank, to qualify as a QM, a mortgage cannot have “points and fees” in excess of three percent of the loan amount.  Loans failing to meet the QM requirements are unlikely to be made due to Dodd-Frank’s liability provisions.  H.R. 1077 would modify and clarify the way “points and fees” are calculated to exclude from the computation of such points and fees: (1) the amount of any loan level price adjustment payment set by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), or similar government entity or government-sponsored enterprise; (2) any compensation paid by a mortgage originator or a creditor to an individual person employed by the mortgage originator or creditor; and (3) any escrow for future payment of insurance. 

About Washington Update

Washington Update serves as a resource to the constituents of the Fourth Congressional District of Virginia on the work of Congressman Forbes. It is published weekly while Congress is in session. Hyperlinks to bill information are provided if the information disseminated by the House of Representatives is available at the time of distribution.

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