Thursday, May 19, 2016
Make Your Reservations Early
May 13, 2016
"Family Research Council is strongly opposed to the new Obamacare final rule mandating federally funded health care providers offer services that include gender transition and even abortion. HHS's final rule concocts out of thin air a redefinition of sex discrimination to include both gender identity and abortion. This intolerant and unjust rule, in turn, threatens to force health care providers to participate in and perform services that substantially violate their consciences. HHS's regulatory overreach to force "gender identity" into Obamacare through the language of "sex discrimination" mirrors the administration's actions earlier today imposing gender identity on America's public schools. Despite concerns raised by FRC and others that the proposed rule also included abortion, the administration chose instead not to exclude it. This action erodes Americans' freedom to believe and act in accordance with their beliefs, not only as it relates to the privacy of the bathrooms but also now when it comes to the taking of innocent human life. We urge Congress to address this gross injustice," Christensen concluded.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Congressman Forbes Recognized by the American Conservative Union for Outstanding Conservative Record
"As Americans, we are stewards of this grand experiment in liberty and democracy we call the United States. We must not allow it to slip through our fingers," said Congressman Forbes. "I'm proud to be in the fight to rebuild our military, rein in out-of-control government spending, and stop political correctness from undermining our faith freedoms. Because the decisions we make today -- in Congress and in our communities -- will dictate the opportunities, future, and freedom of Americans tomorrow."
The ACU's annual awards recognize Members of the House of Representative and the Senate whose voting records score within the top twenty percent on key issues, from wasteful government spending to national defense to free market enterprise. Congressman Forbes received a 96% rating for his work in the 114th Congress to strengthen national security, champion religious freedom, empower job creators, and protect individual liberty. To read the complete report, click here.
The American Conservative Union (ACU) is one of the nation's largest and most well-respected conservative organizations. It was founded in 1964 with the goal of promoting liberty and upholding the Constitution. For more information, please visit http://conservative.org/.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) today released the below statement following a vote by the House of Representatives to approve H.R. 4498, the Helping Angels Lead our Startups (HALOS) Act, which ensures that startup companies can connect with angel investors without inadvertently violating SEC rules. This bill, which Hurt introduced along with Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), which was initially favorably reported from the Financial Services Committee with a bipartisan vote of 44-13, today was passed by the full House of Representatives on a bipartisan 325 to 89 vote. After the House vote, Congressman Hurt released the following statement:
"At a time when Virginia's Fifth District continues to face unacceptably high unemployment rates, we remain committed to removing overregulation of small businesses as a barrier to job creation. The HALOS Act would alleviate the burden placed on startup companies with regard to privacy and compliance concerns, which often require entrepreneurs and startups to take on burdens that they do not have the means to handle. In doing so, it allows them to focus on innovating and expanding, creating the jobs we so desperately need. The HALOS Act is a simple, bipartisan, bicameral solution that will ensure that investors and companies can continue their interaction. I was pleased to see the House of Representatives approve all this bill, and urge the Senate to take up this legislation and work with us to allow our small businesses to prosper. I remain committed to removing unnecessary, bureaucratic red tape to make it easier for small businesses to strengthen our economy."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) released the following statement after voting in favor of a resolution to disapprove and nullify the rule submitted by the Department of Labor (DOL) to amend the definition of the term "fiduciary." This vote builds off of a bill passed by the House of Representatives in October, the Retail Investor Protection Act, which would require the DOL to defer to the expertise of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rather than apply its own proposed fiduciary rule:
"The Department of Labor's rule will harm investors by diminishing their access to financial advice, reducing consumer choice, and increasing costs for folks looking to save for their retirement. This rule will undoubtedly make it more difficult for hardworking Americans, especially folks who are starting to save or who have lower account balances to save for retirement. Unfortunately, the DOL seems to be ignoring the impact on both savers and financial advisors, as well as the bipartisan message from Congress urging DOL to halt this rule.
"I believe that the SEC, not the DOL, is in the best position to oversee and regulate the conduct of those who provide investment advice. This resolution disapproves the DOL's disastrous rule, and I am proud to support this resolution and pleased to see it pass the House with bipartisan support today. It is my hope that the Senate and the President will work with us to ensure that hardworking Americans will have the ability and freedom to properly plan for their futures."
"We have been informed that Bibles as part of Missing Man Table displays have been removed at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio and Houston, Texas, as well as at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base," write Forbes and Lankford. "It is our understanding that the individual facility directors at the three VA clinics made the decision to remove the Bibles following complaints issued by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and that the November 7, 2014 Guidance on Religious Exercise and Expression in VA Facilities and Property Under the Charge and Control of VA was used to justify the removal…We request an explanation as to why the Bibles were removed from the three VA facilities, as well as any policy that will be applied going forward, including a summary of who will be responsible for implementing it."
Congressman Forbes and Senator Lankford led 10 Senators and 31 Members of the House in sending this letter to Secretary McDonald, contending that the Bibles should remain in place and seeking an explanation as to why they were removed. Congressman Forbes founded the Congressional Prayer Caucus to protect the fundamental human right of religious freedom. This bipartisan, bicameral caucus of nearly 100 lawmakers works to ensure every American — of all faiths or no faith — is free to exercise their First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religion without fear of punishment from the government.
A PDF of the letter is available here, and the full text is below:
The Honorable Robert McDonald
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20420
Dear Secretary McDonald,
It is our understanding that the individual facility directors at the three VA clinics made the decision to remove the Bibles following complaints issued by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and that the November 7, 2014 Guidance on Religious Exercise and Expression in VA Facilities and Property Under the Charge and Control of VA was used to justify the removal.
Since 1979, our nation has commemorated National POW/MIA Recognition Day, as a day of for all Americans to remember, honor, and respect those who were prisoners of war and those who remain missing as a result of the nation's conflicts.
Another means of recognizing prisoners of war and those missing in action is the Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony. The National League of POW/MIA families provides a script for this ceremony and a description of the table:
As you entered the room, you may have noticed a special table; it is reserved to honor our missing men. Set for six, the empty chairs represent Americans who were or are missing from each of the services – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard – and civilians, all with us in spirit.As noted in the description, one of the objects on the table is a Bible, meant to "represent the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God."
Some here were very young, or not yet born, when the Vietnam War began; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation's call and served the cause of freedom in a special way.
Let me explain the meaning of this table, and then join me for a moment of silent prayer.
The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.
The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.
The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans….and their loved ones and friends who keep the faith, while seeking answers.
The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for their return and determination to account for them.
A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land.
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families - who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.
The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.
The chairs are empty – they are missing.
Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America's POW/MIAs, to the success of our efforts to account for them, and to the safety of all now serving our nation!
As your guidance correctly notes, the Establishment Clause exists to ensure that the government cannot affirmatively impose or elevate one religion over another. However, it does not prohibit the government from referencing religion altogether, nor does it require that the government scrub all references of religion from the public square. Rather, the Establishment Clause ensures both that the government does not show preference to a certain religion, and that the government does not take away one's ability to practice religion.
In 2014, the Navy Exchange Service Command issued a memo for the removal of Bibles in Navy Lodge guest rooms following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The Navy reversed course and announced that the Bibles would be replaced.
Similarly, the Establishment Clause does not require that you remove Bibles from the Missing Man Table displays. The mere presence of a Bible coerces no one.
The Supreme Court recently stated that "an Establishment Clause violation is not made out any time a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary views…" Town of Greece v. Galloway, 134 S. Ct. 1811 (2014).
We request an explanation as to why the Bibles were removed from the three VA facilities, as well as any policy that will be applied going forward, including a summary of who will be responsible for implementing it. We respectfully request that you respond no later than May 3rd.
If you have any questions about this request, please contact Sarah Seitz in Senator Lankford's office at 202-224-5754 or Amy Vitale in Congressman Forbes' office at 202-225-6365. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
J. Randy Forbes
Member of Congress
United States Senator
"I am pleased that the House Armed Services Committee's annual defense policy bill increases funding for the Navy's readiness and maintenance needs while also strengthening the national strategic asset that is the Hampton Roads ship repair industrial base," Congressman Forbes said. "By raising the threshold for major ship repair availabilities conducted outside the United States, this legislation provides greater stability for homeport shipyards and avoids inflicting additional hardship on sailors' families. We owe the men and women who serve this country in uniform nothing less."
Among the provisions introduced by Forbes:
- Increases Navy Operations & Maintenance and manpower funding to sustain carrier air wing, cruisers, and prevent a hollow force. The full committee legislation increases funding for Navy Operations & Maintenance and manpower to support Forbes' efforts to prevent the inactivation of cruisers and deactivation of the Navy's 10th carrier air wing.
- Increases funding for ship repair, depots, and readiness. With Forbes' support, the full committee legislation authorizes an additional $1.3 billion in funding for Navy Operations and Maintenance on top of the President's budget request. This includes $158 million for afloat ship readiness, $308 million for ship depots, and $275 million for Navy sustainment, restoration, and modernization projects.
- Raises the threshold for competing ship repair availabilities outside homeports. At Forbes' request, the full committee legislation includes a provision that raises the threshold requiring major ship repair availabilities to be performed in homeport from 6 months to 10 months. This change provides greater stability for homeport shipyards, saves sailors and their families the hardship of moving to other ports, and gives the Navy more flexibility in mitigating workload valleys.
Forbes will also be offering an amendment before the full Committee that:
- Prohibits the Navy from performing major availabilities on forward-deployed naval forces overseas. Forbes' amendment prohibits the Navy from performing any overhaul, repair, or maintenance work that exceeds six months on forward-deployed naval vessels in foreign shipyards. This change will help sustain our domestic ship repair industrial base and ensure that work on forward-deployed vessels maintains U.S. standards.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Wednesday, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, Family Research Council's Executive Vice President and former Delta Force commander, and Travis Weber, Esq., Director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty, a former naval aviator and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, will attend oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in the case of United States v. Sterling.
In this case, the court will decide whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) protects a Marine lance corporal's decision to post scripture verses at her workstation. The lance corporal desired to post the verses to give her inspiration and strength, but military superiors ordered her to remove the verses she posted. A lower court refused to protect her religious expression, interpreting RFRA in a constrained manner to protect only certain types of religious exercise. FRC and numerous other religious freedom advocates are urging the court to overturn this harmful decision.
Lt. General Boykin commented on the case:
"If one thing is clear from my 36 years in the military, it is that religious faith is indispensable for the soldier facing danger and the possibility of death in battle. Throughout the history of our magnificent military, faith has played a role not just in strengthening weak knees and frail hearts, but has actually made a difference in the actions of service members who act on this faith to accomplish deeds of valor. To rob the service member of the right to express this faith will do incalculable damage to the armed forces," concluded Boykin.
Weber, who has testified before Congress about the need for increased religious freedom protections in the military, commented on the case:
"While the military is certainly different from civilian society in many ways, the suppression of constitutional rights is not one of them. Service members retain their freedom of religion in the military, and indeed, are often strengthened by its exercise. Whether we all individually agree with the religious exercise at issue is not the point; what matters is the principle that all Americans have the freedom to believe and live out those beliefs.
"The Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that RFRA broadly protects religious exercise from unnecessary and burdensome government action. The court should reverse this overly narrow ruling and recognize the broad understanding of RFRA clearly affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court," Weber concluded.
This case has broader implications for the military. As Lt. General Boykin and other retired general officers noted in an amicus brief they filed in the case, "the [lower court] decision undermines one of the greatest strengths of America's military: the religiosity of its members. It effectively tells service members to keep their religious beliefs hidden or face discipline." It is difficult to argue with their observation that "[m]ilitary men and women who swear to uphold the Constitution should also be afforded its protections."
To review the amicus brief filed by General Boykin and other retired general officers, please see: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF16D53.pdf
To review Travis Weber's testimony before the Subcommittee on Military Personnel of the House Armed Services Committee, please see: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF14K61.pdf