Thursday, June 23, 2016
Monday, June 20, 2016
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Congressman Robert Hurt's Weekly Column
Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of landowners, allowing challenges to federal regulatory decisions affecting personal property rights via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers vs. Hawkes. The Army Corps of Engineers is notorious for imposing an excessively broad and burdensome approach to the Clean Water Act (CWA) on individuals and businesses alike. Their permitting process is far more than just filling out a piece of paper – rather, it can be a year's long struggle costing landowners and small businesses thousands of dollars, only to be denied for activities that do not, in fact, violate the CWA.
Though I am grateful the Supreme Court stood up to the Corps' unreasonable permitting process, its long history of regulatory overreach has stood in the way of crucial job creation, including in our own backyard, and that has to change.
One example of this problem is the Corps' treatment of farm ponds. For many years, the agency has ignored provisions in the CWA that promote agriculture and forestry activity, which frustrates the growth of those two vital industries. I have worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to push back on this regulatory overreach, and this week's court decision recognizes that the Corps' enforcement practices and excessively broad interpretation of the CWA clearly have significant consequences for private property rights and the economy that must be addressed.
The onerous Corps' process has also hindered major economic development initiatives in Southside Virginia. Local officials in Danville-Pittsylvania County have recently worked together to acquire permits from the Corps to develop the Berry Hill mega park, a proposed economic development site aimed at attracting new manufacturing enterprises. The site is undoubtedly well-situated to generate economic activity, however, yet again, the regulatory obstacles presented by the Army Corps of Engineers have impeded its progress and thus job creation.
To remedy this frustrating problem, I introduced bipartisan legislation along with Representative Morgan Griffith and Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, known as theCommonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act, to scale back the Corps' arduous permitting process. This bill specifies that the lack of a committed end-user company should not be a reason to deny a permit that meets all other legal requirements. If passed, our legislation would effectively remove the regulatory roadblock that is preventing projects like Berry Hill from proceeding. It is essential that we continue to fight this federal red tape in order to ensure our economy and our fundamental rights are not obstructed for our future generations by a permitting process.
This past week's dismal jobs report, which found that the economy only created 38,000 jobs last month, underscores the need to overhaul misguided regulatory policies of which the Corps' approach is just one example. With thousands of young people preparing to enter the workforce after graduating high school and college, now is the time to get the government off the backs of those who will invest in innovation, entrepreneurship, and job development to provide great opportunities in our communities. We must do more to ensure our policies are not standing in the way of real economic and job growth, and I will remain focused on these policies for the hardworking people of Virginia's Fifth District and across our country.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Staff Members from Robert Hurt's Office to Hold Local Office Hours in Lunenburg and Halifax Counties
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Staff members from Congressman Robert Hurt's (R-Virginia) office will hold Local Office Hours in Lunenburg and Halifax Counties on Friday, June 10 to meet with constituents who need assistance with federal agencies. For more information, please visit our Local Office Hours Interactive Map.
Friday, June 10, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Lunenburg Office Hours
Lunenburg Administrator's Office, Conference Room
11413 Courthouse Road
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Halifax Office Hours
Mary Bethune Office Complex, Public Meeting Room, 2nd Floor
1030 Mary Bethune Street
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Forbes Leads 17 Members from Both Parties and Houses in Support of Basing Triton at Wallops
"Wallops is an ideal site for basing unmanned aircraft…," the letter said. "Despite its central location in the Mid-Atlantic, Wallops enjoys uncrowded airspace and its rural environs generate no encroachment issues. With two 8000-foot runways and the taxiways and apron space to support additional aircraft, Wallops is ready to accommodate Triton with minimal additional construction. In addition, it is already an established center of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) activity and home to a number of UAVs, including NASA's RQ-4 Global Hawks, an aircraft very similar to Triton."
Congressman Forbes recently visited Wallops Island and has been outspoken about the benefits of basing the Triton at Wallops Island. The Navy is currently considering Wallops as one of three East Coast options for permanently basing the MQ-4C Triton unmanned maritime patrol aircraft. The Triton provides real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in maritime and coastal regions. Should the Navy select Wallops as the permanent East Coast location, it would serve as both a launch and recovery site, as well as an operational-level maintenance hub, supporting rotational deployments of personnel and aircraft outside the United States. Roughly 400 additional personnel plus their families would be stationed there.
Wallops' central location in the Mid-Atlantic Region; its proximity to Patuxent River, Maryland where the Triton is developed; the presence of NASA's own RQ-4 Global Hawks (a similar aircraft) at Wallops; and the facility's relatively uncrowded airspace make it an ideal permanent location for this platform. Currently, the Navy is conducting an environmental assessment, with a decision on the permanent basing of the Triton expected later this year.
The facility at Wallops Island, Virginia is home to some of the most innovative work in the commercial space industry, and supports the needs of both NASA and the Department of Defense. Whether it is providing field carrier landing practice to Navy pilots, supporting rocket launches as part of Missile Defense Agency exercises, or serving as one of two U.S. sites launching vital cargo to support the International Space Station, Wallops is an integral part of U.S. space efforts.
See below for text of the letter:
May 18, 2016
The Honorable Ray Mabus Admiral John Richardson
Secretary of the Navy Chief of Naval Operations
1000 Navy Pentagon 2000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670 Washington, DC 20350-2000
Dear Secretary Mabus and Admiral Richardson,
We write in support of selecting Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as the East Coast Forward Operating Base for MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft. We believe Wallops will provide an ideal home for these revolutionary aircraft and for the Sailors and families supporting them.
Located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Wallops is located less than 100 miles from the fleet concentration area in Hampton Roads. Naval aviation already has a well-established presence at Wallops, with E-2 and C-2 aircraft using Wallops on a routine basis for fleet carrier landing practice. Basing the first operational Tritons at Wallops would locate those aircraft in close proximity to NAS Patuxent River and Naval Air Systems Command, where the Triton was developed and tested. It would also place them in close proximity to the fleet at Naval Station Norfolk, the Master Jet Base at NAS Oceana, and the entire Virginia Capes operating area. We believe that basing Triton in close proximity to these other Navy facilities, headquarters, and operating forces will create synergies and facilitate the faster integration of Triton into the Navy's battle network. We also believe that Wallops' location provides a superior base of operations for conducting maritime surveillance missions throughout the entire Atlantic.
Wallops is an ideal site for basing unmanned aircraft, in particular. Despite its central location in the Mid-Atlantic, Wallops enjoys uncrowded airspace and its rural environs generate no encroachment issues. With two 8000-foot runways and the taxiways and apron space to support additional aircraft, Wallops is ready to accommodate Triton with minimal additional construction. In addition, it is already an established center of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) activity and home to a number of UAVs, including NASA's RQ-4 Global Hawks, an aircraft very similar to Triton. Unlike at many other locations, UAVs are a familiar sight in Wallops' airspace. Air traffic controllers in the region are familiar and comfortable with UAVs, including the Triton, stemming from its development period at nearby Patuxent River. Compared to other locations being considered, Wallops is also less adversely impacted by severe weather and flooding, and enjoys lower costs for housing, living, and construction.
Last but not least, Wallops and other Navy, Department of Defense, and Federal facilities in Virginia benefit from the strong support of the communities of which they are a part. As those communities' representatives in the House and Senate, we pledge to fully support an expanded Navy mission at Wallops.
We look forward to further discussing this matter with you, and providing whatever support the basing selection process may require.
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
Senator Tom Carper
Senator Christopher A. Coons
Senator Tim Kaine
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski
Senator Mark R. Warner
Representative Donald S. Beyer, Jr.
Representative John C. Carney, Jr.
Representative Barbara Comstock
Representative Gerald E. Connolly
Representative Donna Edwards
Representative J. Randy Forbes
Representative Andy Harris
Representative Scott Rigell
Representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Representative Robert C. "Bobby" Scott
Representative Chris Van Hollen
Representative Robert J. Wittman
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Sean Maloney (D-NY) offered an amendment that would use the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, as a vehicle to undermine religious hiring protections that were included in yesterday's House-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. This vote failed by one vote, 212-213, with 29 Republicans voting 'yea.' Family Research Council opposed and scored the amendment because it authorizes the government to punish faith-based organizations and entities that operate consistent with their deeply held beliefs.
Family Research Council's David Christensen, Vice President of Government Affairs, released the following statement:
"Congress rejecting Rep. Sean Maloney's unfair and discriminatory amendment is a great victory for the freedom to believe. Last night, Congress passed the defense bill that preserved long-standing faith-based protections from assaults by Democrats who want the government to punish faith-based contractors, like the Salvation Army, that work and hire in accordance with their First Amendment rights. The Maloney amendment would have gutted these religious freedom protections and in turn would have caused faith-based contractors to lose contracts and likely cut jobs.
"Thousands of faith-based organizations and family-owned businesses contract with the federal government to offer amazing services to many American communities. Congress today rightly defeated this intolerance toward hard working Americans who do not want the government punishing them for what they believe. We applaud the rejection of the unfair and discriminatory Maloney amendment," Christensen concluded.
Forbes' Seapower Legislation, Included in Bill, Authorizes Most for Shipbuilding Since Reagan
"There is no higher Constitutional obligation than to provide for our national security, and the defense policy bill just passed by the House does that. My legislation to increase shipbuilding to the highest level since the Reagan-era, included in this bill, begins the process of building the 350-ship Navy our country requires. The next President will face a dangerous world with growing threats, and this legislation is a down-payment on the military needed to meet those threats. I look forward to working with the Senate to send legislation to the President's desk that gives our warriors the tools they need to execute their missions and come home safely."
Among the key provisions in Forbes' Seapower legislation that were included in the House-passed defense policy bill:
- Revitalizes Navy Shipbuilding and Accelerates Key Programs.The mark authorizes procurement of 3 additional ships ($433M for a destroyer, $856M for an amphibious ship, and $385M for a Littoral Combat Ship) above the administration's plan. Between the SCN account and the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, it authorizes $20.6 billion for shipbuilding—$2.3 billion more than the President's budget and the highest level of shipbuilding funding, accounting for inflation, since Fiscal Year 1988.
- Prohibits Inactivation of Navy Cruisers.The Seapower mark prevents the administration from inactivating 11 of 22 cruisers under a "phased modernization plan" and holds the administration accountable for cruiser modernization by withholding funding from the Office of the Secretary of Defense until modernization contracts have been signed.
- Denies Navy's Request for Authority to Disestablish a Carrier Air Wing.The mark, along with efforts made by the Readiness and Military Personnel Subcommittees in their marks, denies the Navy's request for authority to disestablish one of ten extant carrier air wings (CVW) and funds the continued operation of that critical element of force structure.
- Transfers Funding into the National Sea-Based Deterrent Fund and expands its authorities.The mark shifts the first procurement funding for the Ohio Replacement submarines into the NSBDF and grants the fund additional authority for "continuous production," allowing the Navy to procure components like missile tubes in one large production run at substantially lower costs.
- Calls for Navy to Build Aircraft Carriers 20% Faster.Forbes' legislation calls upon the Navy to build aircraft carriers every four years instead of five, a change in tempo that will increase the size of the carrier fleet. The mark also authorizes the "block buy" of components for multiple carriers, reducing costs for the taxpayer. Carriers will continue to be the backbone of the U.S. Navy's ability to prevent and win America's wars.