Washington Update - Fighting for a way forward, not just a way out

Congressman J. Randy Forbes
2013-10-21 17:26:09
Send me an email | Forward to a Friend September 9 - October 16, 2013 Twitter Facebook YouTube Digg RSS
Send me an email | Forward to a Friend
September 9 - October 16, 2013 Twitter Facebook YouTube Digg RSS

Fighting for a way forward, not just a way out

Congressman Forbes voted to provide funding for the federal government,

Protecting our servicemembers
Congressman Forbes supported the Pay Our Military Act,
, which provided for pay and allowances to members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces who perform inactive-duty training during such period. Finally, Congressman Forbes supported a resolution,

Honoring our nation’s veterans
Congressman Forbes supported the Honoring our Promise to America’s Veterans Act,
 He also supported the Honoring the Families of Fallen Soldiers Act, to ensure that death benefits would be paid, and the Open Our National Parks and Museums Act,

Protecting federal workers:
Congressman Forbes supported the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act,

Protecting seniors:
Congressman Forbes
 
While the government was shutdown, Congressman Forbes put forward
and supported several bills to provide funding for key portions of the government such as nuclear safety ( Head Start program (

Ultimately, Congressman Forbes opposed the final bill, This bill passed by a vote of 285 – 144, and was signed into law by the President.

Defense

Requested briefing for all Members on impact of sequestration.  After hearing testimony from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that they could not meet the requirements necessary to comply with the our defense strategy under full sequestration, Congressman Forbes sent a bipartisan A briefing of this nature will allow all Members to gain a full appreciation for the devastation sequestration will have on our defense policy.

Questioned witnesses on sequestration and the Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR). Congressman Forbes participated in a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Planning for Sequestration in Fiscal Year 2014 and Perspectives of the Military Services on the Strategic Choices and Management Review. The uniformed leadership of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps testified on how sequestration will affect their individual services and the current state of readiness. When asked whether their services could executive the national defense strategy under another year of sequestration, each one of them responded, “No.” 

Addressed experts on the defense industrial base (DIB). Congressman Forbes addressed defense experts and media at an event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments on strategies for identifying the critical areas of DIB competition and capabilities. The DIB is not a spigot that can simply be turned on and off, and there are long-term costs to short-term decision making. It is necessary to replace current short-term planning with long-term strategy, and although this is a difficult task that faces both bureaucratic and budgetary hurdles, it is a necessary one to preserve America’s competitive advantages.

Worked to increase Modeling and Simulation (M&S) awareness. Congressman Forbes met with Admiral Robb from the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA) to discuss increased integration of M&S across industries from defense to energy to health care. There are few industries that would not benefit from the increased use of M&S. These technologies increase efficiency and reduce costs, playing a vital role in maintaining our nation’s competitive edge in the future.  

Met with the Air Force Chief of Staff to discuss his trip to China. General Welsh recently spent a week meeting with his counterparts in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force as one of several visits by U.S. senior military leadership and reciprocal Chinese military leadership visits to the United States. Upon Gen. Welsh’s return, he met with Congressman Forbes to discuss the U.S. – China military-to-military relationship and the opportunities and limits of expanded cooperation.

Met with the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance. Congressman Forbes met with Vice Admiral Ted Branch, whose portfolio includes intelligence, cyber, information technology, maritime domain awareness, and space for the U.S. Navy.

Chaired hearing on undersea warfare capabilities and challenges. Congressman Forbes chaired a hearing of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee to examine the current state of undersea warfare capabilities as well as challenges facing the program. Rear Admiral Breckenridge and Rear Admiral Johnson testified on trends in the undersea force structure, shortfalls in undersea forward presence, and the Ohio-class replacement program. The Navy’s continued dominance in undersea warfare must be a major priority in the years ahead.

Supported services at airports for our servicemembers. Congressman Forbes cosponsored , which directs the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security to transfer unclaimed money recovered at airport security checkpoints to nonprofit organizations to provide places of rest and recuperation at airports for members of the Armed Forces and their families. Currently, unclaimed money is retained by the Transportation Security Administration for civil aviation security.

Protected dual military technicians from sequestration. Congressman Forbes cosponsored , which amends the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 to provide that military technicians shall be included in military personnel accounts for purposes of any sequestration order issued by the President after January 1, 2013. In this way, military technicians’ pay will be protected from the effects of sequestration in the same way military personnel accounts are exempted.

Foreign Affairs

Called for development of critical foreign affairs training center. Congressman Forbes voted against and , which authorized funding for embassy security, but failed to provide for the development of a new, consolidated Foreign Affairs Security Training Center.  The State Department has made it clear that current facilities are inadequate to provide the training necessary for sending our diplomats into the most high-risk, high-threat regions of the world, and has advocated for the development of this new center at Fort Pickett.  This bill passed by a vote of 384-37. 

Reaffirmed support for Israel. Congressman Forbes cosponsored th anniversary of the reunification of the city and congratulates the people of Israel on the 65th anniversary of their independence. The resolution also states that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group remains protected and strongly urges the President to begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Opposed threats to U.S. sovereignty and the Second Amendment. Congressman Forbes joined 180 other members of Congress in sending a

Called on China to end the practice of organ harvesting from prisoners. Congressman Forbes joined a bipartisan group of almost 150 Representatives in cosponsoring

Strengthened U.S. – Taiwan commercial and cultural relations. Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Taiwan Policy Act, , which supports human rights in Taiwan, increased relations between senior U.S. and Taiwanese officials, and the establishment of a bilateral free trade agreement. The resolution also authorizes the President to make available to Taiwan defense items or services including air, maritime and ground capabilities and capacity for partnership with friendly foreign militaries.

Promoted religious freedom. Congressman Forbes supported a bill, , to provide for the establishment of the special envoy to promote the religious freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.   This bill passed by a vote of 402-22.                               

Health care

Promoted fairness within the President’s health care law.  Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Obamacare Delay Act, , to delay any provision of the Affordable Care Act, set to take effect on January 1, 2014 or later, by one year. Congressman Forbes also voted to combat fraud and abuse under the law by supporting the No Subsidies without Verification Act, , which prohibits federal financial assistance from being provided to individuals who purchase health care coverage through the new state exchanges until a system for income verification program is in place. H.R. 2775 passed by a vote of 235-191. 

Called for defunding of health care law.  Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Defund Obamacare Act, , to deauthorize all future appropriations, in addition to rescinding past appropriations for implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and eliminating any entitlements created under the law. 

Opposed Abusive Spending of Taxpayer Dollars to Promote Obamacare.  Congressman Forbes joined 81 of his colleagues in sending a

Worked to prevent detrimental cuts to home health care.  Congressman Forbes joined 144 of his colleagues in sending a

Protected payments to hospitals. Congressman Forbes cosponsored to close loopholes for labor related payments under Medicare that cost Virginia hospitals roughly $15 million last year.  Currently, labor-related payments to urban hospitals under Medicare have a floor (known as the "rural floor") that is equal to wages at a state’s rural hospitals.  Urban hospitals in a state cannot get paid less than rural hospitals, which are typically located in lower-income areas. However, there is a loophole that some states have been able to exploit at the expense of other states, such as Massachusetts, who’s only rural hospital is the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, a 19-bed hospital located on an island where the median home price is more than $1 million. Because the Nantucket Cottage Hospital receives the rural reimbursement rate, all of Massachusetts’ other hospitals also qualify for this inordinately high rural floor rate.  Consequentially, since these payments come from Medicare, which is a fixed, national pool of funding, it means when urban hospitals that qualify for such payments in extremely wealthy areas, such as Massachusetts, Connecticut and California, profit from this rule, (by roughly, in Massachusetts' case $250-$350 million more a year than they would normally receive) other states lose access to the reimbursement money. 

Worked to protect seniors and provide clarity for medical centers.  On August 2nd, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule regarding criteria for inpatient admissions to hospitals.  The new guidance set forth a “two-midnight” rule that alters the structure for which treatments under Medicare are reimbursed.  CMS had issued and October 1st implementation deadline for this new rule, allowing little time for hospitals and medical centers to update electronic health systems and train staff, and leaving open the potential for Medicare beneficiaries to assume a higher financial burden for their care under the new policy.  Congressman Forbes joined over 100 of his colleagues in sending a On September 26th, CMS announced it will delay full implementation of the "two-midnight" rule until December 31, 2013.

Agriculture

Continued support for a farm bill.  Congressman Forbes supported the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, , to reauthorize the nutrition title of the farm bill.  The bill reauthorizes nutrition programs for three years, through FY 2016, and ensures work requirements cannot be waived for able bodied adults without children.  The legislation seeks to reign in any wasteful or abusive spending, while ensuring those who depend on the programs continue to receive assistance.  The reauthorization of the nutrition title was the last hurdle before the House and the Senate were able to appoint conferees to work out a final, reauthorization of the farm bill. This bill passed by a vote of 217-210.

Government Reform

Called for an end to government-funded cell phones.  Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Stop Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act,

Economy

Increased global competiveness.  Congressman Forbes supported the Global Investment in American Jobs Act, , which directs the Commerce Department to conduct a review of U.S. laws and policies regarding direct investment by foreign companies in the United States and to develop recommendations to make our nation more competitive in attracting and retaining investments from abroad.  This bill passed by a vote of 379-32.

Family Values

Urged protections for conscience rights and the unborn.  Congressman Forbes joined 72 of his colleagues in sending a to Speaker of the House, John Boehner, urging that protections for rights of conscience and the unborn be included in any continuing resolution or legislation addressing the debt ceiling.  The Affordable Care Act infringes on the religious liberty of countless American by requiring individuals, charities, and businesses to purchase health insurance coverage that includes services to which they have a moral or religious objection.  

Protected First Amendment religious freedoms.  Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, , which prohibits the federal government from discriminating against an individual or an organization because of a moral or religious belief in traditional marriage.  The Act prohibits the denial or revocation of an organization’s tax exempt status, the denial of a federal tax deduction for a charitable contribution, or the denial or exclusion of an individual or organization from qualifying for loans, licenses, certifications, accreditation, employment, or federal contracts.

Called on the Office of Personnel Management to comply with the law, refrain from subsidizing abortion.  Congressman Forbes joined 84 of his colleagues in sending a to Elaine Kaplan, the Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), asking how OPM plans on complying with the Smith Amendment as OPM determines what role it will play in overseeing the health plans of federal employees under the new health care law.  The Smith Amendment prohibits OPM from engaging in administrative duties in connection with Insurance plans that include abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. 

Protected young girls from the harmful effects of drugs intended for adults.  Congressman Forbes cosponsored the Schoolchildren’s Health Protection Act, , which would prohibit schools that receive federal funding from distributing powerful emergency contraceptive drugs to children.  Many schools distribute these drugs to minors without informing the child’s parents and without consulting the child’s doctor. 

Labor

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.

As always, Congressman Forbes welcomes your comments. To share your thoughts on legislation, votes or issues, please visit http://randyforbes.house.gov to send an e-mail or call any of Congressman Forbes' three district offices.

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