Wednesday, December 9, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act, which will make strides to ensure that individuals entering the United States through the Visa Waiver Program do not pose a threat to our national security:
"The Islamic State and its agents of evil will seek to exploit any avenue they can to come to the United States and inflict harm on our citizens. At present, the Visa Waiver Program clearly demonstrates vulnerabilities that the Islamic State seeks to exploit. The Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act will suspend a country's ability to participate in the Visa Waiver Program if it is not sufficiently meeting a number of new requirements, all of which are designed to keep those who seek to do us harm from coming to our shores. Failure to fix these weaknesses and close these gaping loopholes leaves our nation vulnerable and allows unacceptable levels of risk to persist. It is my hope the Senate will consider this commonsense legislation immediately and send it to the President's desk. This is one small, but vital, step to improve our national security, but we must do more to destroy the Islamic State and all agents of terror seeking to perpetuate evil in our country and across the globe."
· Presently, the Security of Homeland Security can only suspend participation in the Visa Waiver Program because of imminent security threats, but this legislation will allow the Secretary to suspend participation in the Program if countries do not continually share necessary information.
· This bill will require all participating countries to use INTERPOL's criminal and law enforcement databases and require the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend a country's participation in the Visa Waiver Program if they do not meet INTERPOL's requirements.
· The legislation will also require individuals in the Visa Waiver Program to use Electronic Passports by April 1, 2016, and it directs the Department of Homeland Security to report to Congress steps to strengthen the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
· Finally, this bill requires annual national security threat assessments for "high-risk" countries and allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to suspend a country's participation in the Visa Waiver Program if it is deemed "high-risk."
By Gary L. Bauer
Trump Ups The Ante
Yesterday, in a prepared statement and in follow-up interviews, he called for a moratorium on all Muslim immigration to the United States. He was immediately condemned not only by big media and the political left, but also by many Republicans and even some conservatives in good standing.
So on one side, Obama seems intent on flooding the country with at least 250,000 Muslim immigrants a year. He wants to increase the number of Syrian refugees in the name of compassion but is completely ignoring Syria's Christian refugees who pose virtually no terror risks. Obama appears to be effectively banning the very groups -- Christians -- who are targets of genocide. Trump's answer is to ban all Muslim immigration.
The appropriate conservative answer is to implement a major reform of our immigration process that adds much more stringent checks for terror connections. I also strongly support a screening process that blocks any immigrant, Muslim or otherwise, who expresses hatred for Christians, Jews and other faiths.
No one should be admitted who wants the Constitution to be superseded by Sharia law or any other dogma. We must stop importing hatred. This is not a religious test. It is a commonsense, self-preservation test that protects all Americans of every faith and creed.
Reform The Refugee Program
As you know, the Obama White House resisted calls to tighten screening of refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks. We were told over and over that refugees are subjected to intense security checks. But the intelligence community has apparently been warning that radical Islamists are attempting to infiltrate our refugee program.
Yesterday, Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, released portions of a classified letter from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The letter states that "individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria [have attempted] to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program."
Moreover, the NCTC warns that "all immigration programs" are "vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West."
Intelligence officials have expressed their concerns about the adequate vetting of refugees since the beginning of the year. Obama knows our intelligence community is worried about terrorists infiltrating the program, yet he is attacking conservatives for saying the same thing.
By the way, since the Paris terrorist attacks, only one Syrian Christian has been admitted to the U.S. under Obama's refugee program. Just one. Where is the outrage about that?
Clearly, this program is in desperate need of reform, and the American people support reform.
A new CNN poll finds that 61% of Americans oppose Obama's policy of resettling Syrian refugees in America. This is in line with the results from other recent surveys. (Here, here and here.)
There is a tremendous opportunity here for Republicans to seize the reform mantle and go on the attack over the issues of border security and national security. We don't have to win hearts and minds on this. The American people are already with us. Few other issues on the GOP agenda would poll so well.
"The Congressional App Challenge reinforces the important role that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education play in the future of our students and of our nation," Forbes said. "This academic challenge was designed to engage students' creativity, and encourage their interest and participation in these crucial fields. I am proud of the skill and hard work of our Fourth District students, and look forward to seeing their submissions this year."
Every year, each Member of Congress is given the opportunity to sign up and allow high school students from their district to participate in this challenge. All submissions will be considered by a panel of judges selected by the Member of Congress and one winner from each participating district will be selected. The winner from the Fourth District will have their app displayed in a U.S. Capitol exhibit and also be invited to Washington, D.C. to meet Congressman Forbes.
Guidelines and information packets have been sent to all high schools in the Fourth Congressional District. Students wishing to participate must submit their app no later than Friday, January 15th, 2016. All entries must be submitted online through Congressman J. Randy Forbes' Congressional App Challenge page.
Additional information is available on Congressman Forbes' website at
http://forbes.house.gov/constituentservices/app-challenge.htm including official guidelines and information. Students may also contact Nicole Bunce in Congressman Forbes' Chesterfield Office at (804) 318-1363 for more information.
Congressman Robert Hurt
Weekly Column 12/07/15
Last Wednesday, our nation was struck by a horrific terrorist attack – the deadliest terror attack in our nation since 9/11. I am deeply saddened by the violence that occurred in San Bernardino. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those we lost as law enforcement continues to investigate what appears to be an act of terror. We mourn for the 14 individuals we lost, and we continue to pray for the full recovery of the 17 who were injured.
As more information has come to light, it has become clear that the couple responsible for this evil attack was inspired by the Islamic State's reign of terror. There is even evidence that one of these terrorists had social media connections with one of the most active and effective ISIS recruiters.
This despicable act of terror underscores the need to destroy the Islamic State and other agents of terror that are spreading their message of hate in the effort to incite violence in the U.S. and around the world. Their threat to the United States is even more real now than ever.
On Sunday, the President addressed the nation in response to the tragic events in recent weeks. While I appreciated his call for unity in the face of the threat of terror, I was disappointed that the President did not articulate any new tactics or strategy in the effort to destroy ISIS. Instead, he said that we would keep doing the same things we are already doing despite the fact that we have not made significant progress in the effort to destroy ISIS.
The President also called on Congress to adopt an Authorization for the Use of Military Force for his campaign against ISIS. While I agree that Congress should authorize military engagement of this degree, and I am disappointed we have not authorized the airstrikes and special operations the President has employed, the President must do more than state four bullet points on television if he wants the American people to support a proper military strategy.
The President must develop and present a thorough strategy to defeat the Islamic State and outline the metrics for our goals. It is the Commander-in-Chief's constitutional responsibility alone to detail this plan, and it is incumbent upon Congress to consider his proposal, once he has outlined such a strategy.
I did appreciate the President's comments on the need to review and tighten our immigration protocols in light of the circumstances involved in the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. We have learned that one of the terrorists in San Bernardino came to the United States on a K-1 visa, more commonly known as a fiancé visa. While she was screened before entering the country, clearly that screening was insufficient; we have heard about similar vulnerabilities in the visa waiver program and with the vetting of refugees. We must address these weaknesses, close the loopholes, and gather the intelligence necessary to make our screening processes effective. Failure to do so allows unacceptable levels of risk to persist.
The House has already passed legislation to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in light of our screening issues, and this week, the House will consider legislation to tighten our visa-waiver program. This bill will allow the Department of Homeland Security to suspend a country's participation in the visa-waiver program if that country does not provide us with the necessary intelligence information we need to prevent terrorists from traveling to the United States.
While this is legislation is critically important, we have much more to do to improve our ability to protect ourselves from radicalization at home and abroad and to destroy the agents of terror seeking to perpetuate evil across the globe. I remain committed to doing everything within my power to maintain our national security and to protect American lives from the scourge of terror.
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, December 8, 2015
Monday, December 7, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) today released his November Video Report. Text of the address is available below, as well as video. You may view the video by clicking the image below, or by clicking here.
"I'm Robert Hurt. Thank you for tuning into our Monthly Video Report for the month of November.
"I hope that you and your family had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. I also hope you were able to take time to give thanks for the thousands of brave Americans serving in our military and their families. Our servicemen and women and their families make tremendous sacrifices to protect the freedoms we hold dear, and our nation is grateful for all they do to preserve our freedoms.
"Indeed, the events of recent weeks are a solemn reminder of the perils which our military personnel face on a regular basis. On November 13, the world witnessed a vicious terrorist attack on the people of Paris. Our hearts and prayers remain with the nation of France and her people in this time of mourning, and we stand resolved to destroy these forces of evil that threaten peace and prosperity in America and across the globe. Despite his claims that the Islamic State has been 'contained,' the President must recognize that his efforts to defeat the Islamic State have clearly been a failure. As we all know, the Islamic State has continued to grow and expand its reign of terror, in part, because America has failed to effectively lead on the world's stage.
"In response to these recent attacks, it is incumbent upon the President to articulate a complete and thorough strategy to destroy the Islamic State. It is the Commander-in-Chief's responsibility alone to set forth to Congress and to the American people a comprehensive strategy for achieving this critical goal. Likewise, it is the obligation of the Congress to take up and debate the President's proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force. Now is the time for the Administration to swiftly develop a strategy for Congress, and now is the time for Congress to take up this Authorization and exercise its fundamental responsibility under Article I of the Constitution.
"As we have vividly seen over the last few months, one of the heart-breaking consequences of the chaos in Syria and Iraq has been the displacement of Syrians and Iraqis from their home countries. This refugee crisis has resulted in serious security concerns for Europe and now for the United States. Within days of the Paris attacks, the House of Representatives quickly acted to address the security concerns posed by the refugee crisis. I was pleased to see a strong bipartisan support for the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, also known as the SAFE Act— which would pause the admittance of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the United States until national security officials can certify that our background check system is sound and secure.
"After attending briefings by Administration on the terrorist attacks in Paris and the refugee resettlement program, I remain deeply concerned about the effectiveness of our current screening process. America has a proud tradition of being the most generous nation in the world, and we should maintain our commitment to providing humanitarian aid to innocent Syrians where we can and to assisting them in finding refuge in places closer to their homeland. However, we simply cannot justify the risks of admitting Syrian and Iraqi refugees without proper screening. The SAFE Act is a vital step in protecting the American people, and I hope the Senate will pass this bipartisan commonsense measure, and I hope the President will sign it.
"In addition to dealing with the ongoing concerns about the threats to our national security, we also took time on Veteran's Day to salute to our nation's veterans -- those brave men and women who have sacrificed to ensure our national security. I especially appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Veteran's Day ceremony hosted at the home of Colonel James Monroe - Ash Lawn - Highland in Albemarle County. During that week we also visited those VA medical centers that serve those veterans that live in Virginia's Fifth District. We spent time at the McGuire VA Medical Center, the Salem VA Medical Center, and at the three Community-Based Outpatient Clinics in Danville, Lynchburg, and Charlottesville. As I have been in the past, I always appreciate meeting with the veterans who use these facilities and with the healthcare providers who take care of their patients. I was impressed with the healthcare providers with whom we met. And while I believe we have made some strides in reforming the way our veterans receive the healthcare, we still have a long way to go. During our visits we learned that bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork and technical rules still slow down the process of getting patients in front of providers as soon as possible.
"As we continue to work to implement better long-term solutions, I encourage our veterans and our active-duty members of the armed forces to contact our office if we may ever be of assistance in dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs or any other federal agency.
"In closing, please remember that if we may ever be of service to you in any way be sure to contact one of our district offices or our Washington office. We can always be reached at our website at hurt.house.gov -- where you can also sign up for regular legislative updates. And don't forget to join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
"Once again, thank you for tuning in to our November Monthly Video Report."
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) released the following statement after voting in favor of S.J. Resolution 23 and S.J. Resolution 24, which express congressional disapproval of portions of the President's Clean Power Plan:
"Every day, burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and regulations hinder job growth and continue to make life more difficult for Fifth District Virginians. The Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan is a textbook example of this harmful bureaucratic overreach. This Washington-engineered plan comes with enormous costs to states and American consumers and will unduly increase the cost of energy and negatively affect our struggling economy. States have long been responsible for the oversight of electric utilities and the protection of American consumers from increased energy costs, and, once again, the EPA is overstepping its bounds and furthering its war on coal. I was proud to support these resolutions-- which passed the Senate earlier this month-- expressing congressional disapproval of these misguided EPA rules. It is my hope that President Obama will listen to the American people and put an end to this bureaucratic overreach that will only increase energy costs and further depress job growth across our country."
Thursday, December 3, 2015
December 3, 2015
The CARDER Act would make it easier for law enforcement to prosecute foreign criminals who trade in Americans' stolen credit cards. These "carders" act as middlemen by linking computer criminals with those who use stolen credit card information to make fraudulent purchases. Taking down carder forums can make it significantly more difficult to sell credit card data and simultaneously increase the chances of identifying and arresting the hackers responsible for the initial theft.
"Protecting everyday Americans' sensitive financial information from cybercrime is a critical 21st century issue, requiring 21st century laws to ensure bulky, outdated requirements don't hinder the Department of Justice's ability to prosecute criminals outside the U.S. who commit crimes that harm Americans," said Forbes. "I am proud to cosponsor and support the CARDER Act to ensure our law enforcement and prosecutors are equipped with the necessary tools to begin to attack the problem of cybercrime against U.S. citizens and businesses at its core. I applaud the House Judiciary Committee's passage of the bill and urge the full House to do the same."
"From large corporations to small businesses across the country, security breaches and the theft of American credit card data have reached epidemic proportions, costing time and money for both businesses and consumers," said Langevin. "Cybercrime has a very real financial impact on those affected, and also on the underlying cost of doing business, and we must provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to bring these criminals to justice. I thank Rep. Forbes for his steadfast support of the bill and Chairman Goodlatte for bringing it before the Judiciary Committee. I look forward to its expeditious consideration by the full House."
Current criminal law makes it difficult to prosecute carders, as they are often located outside of the United States. Carders must store either the stolen numbers or the gains from their illicit activities within the jurisdiction of the United States in order to be prosecuted. The CARDER Act, which is supported by the Department of Justice, would close this loophole.