Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Robert's Round-Up: We Are Here To Serve You

While people often associate the work of Congress with debates on legislation, our office provides a variety of additional services of which you should be aware. Our dedicated staff stands ready to assist you with any federal matter that you may encounter, and we hope you will not hesitate to contact us if we may be of service.

Listening to the views and priorities of Fifth District Virginians on legislative and policy matters is a critical part of my job as your representative, and I cannot be a voice for the best interests of the district without hearing from you. We receive hundreds of calls, letters, emails, and other communications from constituents each week, and we respond to every single message as quickly as we can. I hope you will continue to reach out to us with your views. Your input is essential to informing the debates that take place in Congress, and I am grateful to represent so many engaged citizens.

Working with federal agencies and programs can be challenging, but our office can help you cut through federal red tape. Whether it is helping secure your Social Security, Medicare, or Veterans' benefits or helping get a passport or visa, staff in our Charlottesville and Danville offices can answer questions you may have and work with you to resolve the problems you encounter. Our staff members also hold local office hours in every single locality throughout the district once each quarter. A schedule of upcoming local office hours can be found on our website.

We also love to see folks from the district who visit our office in Washington. Our office is happy to help coordinate your visit to our nation's capital, whether you are interested in touring the Capitol building, the White House, the monuments, or other points of interest. The museums, memorials, and buildings in Washington belong to you, the American people, and we are here to help you make the most out of your trip as you explore the history these places have to offer.

As it pertains to our young people, we also have the honor of nominating candidates for admission to the United States Military Service Academies each year. It is a great privilege to work with such outstanding young people who aspire to commit themselves to serving in our military. On April 30th, our office will host a Spring Academy Day, in which high school and middle school students, their parents, teachers, and counselors are invited to learn more about the United States service academies and their admission process. Though applications for nominations are not due until the fall, we encourage all of the interested students to begin preparing now.

We also take part in the Congressional Art Competition each year, which recognizes the artistic talents of high school students and the winner's artwork is displayed in the Capitol for the following year for visitors from around the country to enjoy. This year's deadline— April 20th— is rapidly approaching, and we are looking forward to reviewing all of the entries. As we have been each year in the past, there is no doubt we will be impressed by the talent and creativity of our youth in the Fifth District.

To learn more about any of the services listed above and other matters with which we can be of assistance, please visit our website,, which contains more information on these topics. You may also call any of our offices to speak with someone who can assist you with these matters whether in Charlottesville (434-973-9631), Danville (434-791-2596), Farmville (434-395-0120), or Washington (202-225-4711). We take our responsibility to serve all Fifth District Virginians very seriously, and we encourage you to be in touch with us if we can help in any way.

Congressman Robert Hurt
125 Cannon HOB Washington, DC 20515

Phone: (202) 225-4711
Fax: (202) 225-5681

An Open Letter to Those Who Served

By Congressman Randy Forbes
March 30, 2016

Ten days ago, our nation lost a hero. Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin was killed in a rocket attack by the Islamic State as he served with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines on a coalition base in Makhmur. He was only twenty-seven years old. Just this week, two Americans were killed and a U.S. Air Force officer and several of his family members were injured in the Islamic State's terrorist attacks on Brussels. When I heard of the news, I found myself reflecting once again on the incredible sacrifices all of our servicemen and women, and those who support them, make every day. One of my greatest privileges as I serve in Congress is being able to serve, meet, speak to, and hear from many who commit their lives' work to the national security of our citizens. As I reflect on the many stories I've encountered over the years, I want to take a moment to speak directly and openly to a few of the individuals who have shared them with me.

To the service member who deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan: Your first child was born just days after the towers fell. You remember the emotions. You remember the fear.  What was this world that you brought children into? Seven years later, you waved goodbye to two toddlers and a grade-schooler.  It was your third deployment – another year away. You still remember the look in your wife's eyes that day. She was trying her best to hide it, but she was tired, she was scared. But your country had asked again and you showed up again. You remained committed even when others doubt. You hear folks sneer when they talk about GI benefits or commissary privileges. 

Here is what I say to you – The success of our nation depends on the character of men and women like you. I do not take for granted your work for our nation. I am privileged to have shaken hands with many like you. To support you is my priority. I refuse to place the burden of our fiscal challenges on the backs of our service members. Resourcing our men and women in uniform is not the cause of our fiscal woes, and cutting the benefits earned by our brave servicemembers is not the solution.

To the veteran who served in Korea or Vietnam:  You still keep the uniform you wore in the back of your closet. It smells of starch all these years later. Occasionally you pull it out, brush the dust from the plastic dry cleaning cover, and remember. You can still see the faces of the men left behind. A few years ago you visited the memorial in Washington.  As you pressed your palm against the cold stone, tears clouded your eyes. It could have been you. How different things seem today. Being a veteran often means fighting red tape and waiting in lines at the VA clinic. You know personally about the mounds of paperwork and backlogs at the VA. You know our nation can do better for its veterans.

Here is what I offer to you – We are thankful for you. Our nation called. And you were one who answered that call. Our veterans are remarkable for not seeking any special attention for what they have contributed to this country. Just as you have fought for America, I will fight for you: for uncompromised care, excellence in hospital care, and benefits without strings.

To the defense civilian: You know you are part of something important, but your stomach drops every time you hear rumors of furloughs or layoffs or government shutdowns. You know your family budget depends on Washington doing its job and the government functioning. Too often, you feel forgotten in the tug-of-war that goes on in Washington.

Here is what I say to you – you are a patriot who has dedicated your life to supporting our Armed Services. You might not wear a uniform, but you have no less devotion to excellence in your work for our nation and deserve all Americans' respect and gratitude for what you do to support our warfighters. You deserve better than to be impacted by irresponsible cuts to our military or the uncertainty and dysfunction in Washington. Since voting against sequestration in 2011, I have repeatedly warned about its devastating effects. I will not stop fighting to support the heroes behind our heroes.

To the career soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine: You've made military service your life. As others climb the corporate ladder, you pack up your family every few years and watch as your daughter hugs her friends and cries when the moving truck pulls away.

Here at your new duty station, your spouse has been looking for a job. It's been three months now. It always takes a little time, but this time you wonder if it will happen at all. You've always reminded yourself of the retirement benefits you have been promised – it's one way you can give back to your family after all these years of sacrifice. But in recent years, you've heard talk of changes to the military retirement system. You worry whether that will affect your family, and that weighs heavily on you.

Here is what I say to you – your sacrifice, and your family's sacrifice, is noticed. You made a promise to defend our nation, and our nation needs to keep the promises it made to you. I have fought for the compensation and benefits that our military families deserve and have earned, and will continue to do so. Our military men and women simply cannot and should not have to bear an unfair amount of our fiscal burden.

To the young student considering service in our volunteer military: Since the time you held your grandpa's Purple Heart in your hands, it became your dream to join the military. You want to serve this nation. You know it will be hard work, but this is your calling. It's your time to serve. Only lately, you've heard the military may have to cut thousands of troops. You wonder if they even need you now.

Here is what I offer to you – our country does need you. Now more than ever. Your service and commitment to our nation will make us better. There will be hurdles, failures, triumphs, and fears. But there will always be those who are grateful for you.

As we reflect on the sacrifices our service men and women make, I want to say thank you to all who commit their lives to our nation. You've fought and given your all for us. There are still those of us who are proud to fight for you. 

2016 Congressional Art Competition

Every year since 1982, the United States House of Representatives has conducted an art competition for high school students across the nation as a way to highlight the importance of fine arts in schools. Since its inception, more than 650,000 students have participated. Winning pieces are displayed in the Cannon Tunnel, a prominent thoroughfare in the U.S. Capitol building, where they are viewed by thousands of visitors each year.

The 2016 Congressional Arts Competition is underway, and I would like to invite all high school students in the Fourth District of Virginia to participate. Through this competition, one student from Virginia's Fourth Congressional District will have the unique opportunity to have their artwork showcased in our Nation's Capitol, alongside compositions of other student artists from across the country. The student whose artwork is chosen to be displayed will also be invited to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Washington, D.C. in June.

You can read more about the competition on my website at
  • All submissions must be an original concept by the student
  • All artwork must be two dimensional
  • All artwork, including the frame, can be no larger than 28" x 28" x 4", and cannot weigh more than 15 pounds
All submissions must be received in one of my district offices by Wednesday, April 20th in order to be considered. Please send all entries to:

Chesapeake District Office
505 Independence Parkway, Suite 104
Chesapeake, VA 23320
(757) 382 - 0080

Chesterfield District Office
9401 Courthouse Road, Suite 202
Chesterfield, VA 23832
(804) 318-1363

I look forward to seeing the artistic ability that our students have to offer.

Yours in Service,


Sunday, March 27, 2016

WVEC: Rep Forbes Speaks About Captured Sailors

March 24, 2016

When Iran detained ten U.S. sailors in January, Americans here at home watched the video footage with anger and concern. To many of us, the incident revealed yet again how foolish and short-sighted the Administration's dealings with this anti-American regime really are. I also take it as another sign of the impact that devastating cuts to our military are having on the training and readiness of U.S. forces being sent in harm's way.

I recently received a briefing on the initial findings of the Navy's official investigation into the situation, and am deeply concerned by what I heard. That's why, when I was chairing a recent Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee hearing, I urged all Members of Congress to receive the same briefing on this incident as soon as possible, so that we can work immediately to ensure that it never happens again.

I will continue to fight every day to ensure that the service members who are sent into harm's way are equipped with the training and resources they need to successfully accomplish their missions and return safely home.

Yours in service,


Family Research Council Statement on Little Sisters of the Poor Supreme Court Oral Arguments

March 23, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Zubik v. Burwell, two of FRC's legal experts were present in the Courtroom to listen as attorneys for each side were challenged by the Justices.

Zubick v. Burwell was consolidated with six other cases (including Little Sisters of the Poor) with dozens of plaintiffs between them. All of these religious non-profits object to being forced by the HHS mandate to violate their faith-based principles by providing contraception, sterilization, and drugs and devices that can kill an embryo. They have brought claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and have asked the Supreme Court to protect them since their sincere religious beliefs have been substantially burdened. Meanwhile, the government has tried to show that it is advancing a compelling interest with its HHS mandate and is doing so through the least restrictive means possible.

Family Research Council attorneys Cathy Ruse, Senior Legal Fellow and former chief counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, and Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, were in the Courtroom during oral arguments. Both are graduates of Georgetown University Law Center.

Following oral arguments, Ruse made the following comments:

"Sitting in the courtroom today made me realize the extent of the Obama Administration's hostility toward people of faith. When the Chief Justice asked the Solicitor General whether he believed even churches could be forced to sign the form and follow the mandate against their sincere beliefs, Attorney General Verilli answered, 'Yes.' This is what the future may hold if Justice Scalia's replacement agrees with the Obama Administration."

Weber also commented after hearing the oral arguments:

"In court today, the government was hard-pressed to show it had a compelling interest which it was advancing by the least restrictive means. In addition, to rule for the Obama administration in this case, the Court would be signing off on the idea that the government can judge matters of religious doctrine sufficiently to determine whether they have been substantially burdened. That's not the American way and it's not what Americans want."

Forbes, Gosar Introduce Legislation to Block Amnesty

March 24, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Randy Forbes (VA-04) and Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statements after introducing H.R. 4856, legislation which would make aliens associated with a criminal gang inadmissible, deportable, and ineligible for immigration benefits:
"Year after year, we continue to hear stories of criminal gang members committing heinous crimes here in our country," said Forbes, who serves as a senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee. "This Administration continues to claim that gang members and felons are their priority for removal, yet not only has the Administration allowed gang members to enter the country, it is also releasing criminal aliens convicted of violent crimes back into our communities. I have long championed legislation to deport any alien in our nation who is a member of a violent criminal gang, and I urge Congress to act immediately to end the abuse of our immigration system, ensure criminals that are already here in the U.S. are brought to justice, and prevent future alien gang members from ever reaching our communities."
"The Obama Administration has failed to secure our border and has created an immigration crisis that continues to put our citizens at risk," Gosar said. "Shockingly, this Administration has given amnesty to gang members and violent criminal aliens, only to see these illegal immigrants return to our communities and murder American citizens. Rep. Forbes has done excellent work over the years to bring forth commonsense solutions for combatting these challenges. I am honored to be teaming up with him again today to put forth legislation that will improve public safety by allowing for the expedited removal of the most dangerous criminals and gang members."

  • The full text of H.R. 4856 can be found HERE.
  • This legislation is endorsed by NumbersUSA and Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)
  • This bill is a companion to S.1120, legislation introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley, Thom Tillis,  and Richard Burr. The Senate version came about in response to the killing of four individuals in Charlotte, North Carolina in February 2015. Jesus Rangel-Hernandez, a known gang member, was granted deferred action under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action. According to an April 23, 2015 article by Townhall, "Hernandez was scheduled for deportation, applied for DACA, was approved and was able to stay." This request was approved on August 26, 2013, 18 months before the murders were committed.
  • Two other Americans, Kate Steinle of San Francisco and Grant Ronnebeck of Arizona, were both allegedly murdered by criminal illegal aliens who were released from jail.
  • While the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's injunction to stop President Obama's unconstitutional expansion of DACA and creation of DAPA, this legislation is still extremely necessary as the Obama Administration fails to fully secure our border from criminal aliens.
  • Just last week, a Salvadoran alien "wanted for a triple murder and attempted murder in his home country" was deported from South Texas. The Washington Times also recently reported that Central American children are prime recruits for joining notoriously violent criminal gangs, including MS-13 gang. The gang is responsible for "at least eight homicides in Virginia and Maryland over the past year."
  • Current Cosponsors of this legislation include: Brian Babin, Mo Brooks, Ken Calvert, Paul Cook, Scott DesJarlais, Jeff Duncan, John Duncan, Blake Farenthold, Trent Franks, Morgan Griffith, Jody Hice, Tim Huelskamp, Walter B. Jones, Steve King, Pete Olson, Ted Poe, Mike Rogers, David Schweikert, Pete Sessions, and Randy Weber.

Congressman Forbes: Countering ISIS Requires More than Seven Pages of the Same


Administration's Middle East Plan Fails to Articulate Serious Strategies to Defeat Jihadist Terrorism

Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released a statement today on the submission of the Administration's "Strategy for the Middle East and to Counter Violent Extremism." The report can be viewed here.

"The nation's highest-ranking military officer recently admitted that the Administration's top defense strategy documents do not even account for the rise of ISIS or the continuous presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Administration's seven-page report on its Middle East strategy is more of the same, containing virtually no new information on how the United States plans to counter the growing threat of jihadist terrorism. In the wake of the Brussels attacks that killed two Americans, it is inexcusable that the Administration is incapable of articulating a serious plan to protect our country and its interests from terrorists intent on our destruction." Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released a statement today on the submission of the Administration's "Strategy for the Middle East and to Counter Violent Extremism." The report can be viewed here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Castro Castigates America. . . Obama Agrees

By Gary L. Bauer

Yesterday's joint press conference between Barack Obama and Raul Castro was a sorry spectacle to behold. Predictably, Castro launched into a tirade against America, castigating us for a variety of alleged sins and human rights violations. Obama's defense of our values was about as limp as his wrist.

At one point Obama said, "I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels that we're falling short."

Of course, any American conservative who tells Obama where he is falling short is quickly branded a bigot. But when it comes to the Marxist Castro, Obama welcomes the critique.

Cubans have been fleeing the "workers' paradise" for decades. Even after the supposed thaw in relations, they are still choosing to leave, coming across the Texas border in record numbers.

But there's more. Castro also lectured Obama about a favorite left-wing theme -- the notion that women in America are paid less for equal work. Sadly, Obama didn't have the courage to remind Castro that equal pay for equal work in Cuba amounts to about $20 a month for men and women. Isn't socialism wonderful? Everyone is equally poor!

FRC Experts To Attend Supreme Court Arguments in Support of the Little Sisters of the Poor

March 22, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Tomorrow, the Director of FRC's Center for Human Dignity, Arina Grossu, will be speaking at the Women Speak for Themselves "Let Them Serve" rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Family Research Council attorneys Cathy Ruse, Senior Legal Fellow and former chief counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, and Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, will be inside the courtroom to hear oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell. This case includes the Little Sisters of the Poor and other challengers to the HHS Mandate such as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, Priests for Life, and multiple Christian universities.

The question in this case is whether the HHS contraceptive-coverage mandate and its so-called "accommodation" violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, by forcing religious nonprofits to act in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs, when the government has not proven that this compulsion is the least restrictive means of advancing any compelling interest.

Under the mandate, non-profit employers still remain the legal gateway for such objectionable services as potentially abortion-causing drugs for their employees through the employer's health insurance company. These religious non-profits do not want to be forced to be complicit by providing contraceptives, sterilization, and drugs and devices that can kill an embryo.

Cathy Ruse, FRC's Senior Legal Fellow, will also be speaking at a press conference in front of the Supreme Court immediately after the oral arguments with her reaction to the case.


Cathy Ruse, FRC's Senior Legal Fellow

Arina Grossu, Director of FRC's Center for Human Dignity

Travis Weber, Director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty

Meg McDonnell, Executive Director of Women Speak for Themselves

Alveda King and Janet Morana, Directors at Priests for Life

Little Sisters of the Poor and others

WHAT: Let Them Serve Rally in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor

WHEN: Tomorrow March 23rd at 10 AM Eastern Time

WHERE: In front of the US Supreme Court, 1 First St NE, Washington, DC 20543

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Congressman Forbes Meets with Philippine Ambassador to the U.S

March 17, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and Co-Chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, met today with His Excellency Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Philippine Ambassador to the United States, to discuss the contribution of Filipino veterans to U.S. security and the importance of the U.S.-Philippine alliance for stability in the Asia-Pacific. Also attending the meeting were Pio Batino, Under Secretary for Defense, Emmanuel T. Bautista, Undersecretary and Former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Eduardo Oban, Undersecretary and Former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

"As China's behavior continues to undermine stability in Asia, the U.S.-Philippine alliance remains a bedrock of security in the region," Congressman Forbes said. "As Ambassador Cuisia and I have discussed, not only has the alliance between Washington and Manila helped guarantee peace in Asia for over sixty years, Filipino veterans have played an indispensable role in preserving freedom for both our countries while Filipino-Americans have contributed so much to our communities here in the U.S. In the years ahead, I have every confidence that this decades-old partnership will only strengthen."
Congressman Forbes' work on behalf of the U.S.-Philippine alliance includes:
• Co-sponsored the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act in the 114th Congress to award a single gold medal collectively to Filipino veterans of World War II in recognition of their heroic contributions to Allied victory.

• Introduced the Asia-Pacific Region Priority Act in the 113th Congress, including language recognizing the Philippines as "at the heart of the United States policy and engagement in the area."

• Called on U.S. allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific to join the U.S. in conducting freedom of navigation operations near China's artificial features in the South China Sea, which directly threatens the Philippines' sovereignty and territorial integrity.

• Delivered keynote address on protecting regional stability in the South China Sea during continued Chinese aggression at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Fifth Annual South China Sea Conference in July 2015.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Well-Guarded Peace

By Congressman Randy Forbes
March 14, 2016

It's been called the Forgotten War, but it left a strong mark here in Virginia. The War of 1812 tested both the quality of our Navy and its importance. At that time, the American fleet barely had a dozen ships to its name. Our country was young and relatively inexperienced– and so was its Navy.

In the years prior to that war, our nation was questioning what sort of military America was going to have and, in particular, whether the U.S. should have a strong Navy. We knew we were a seafaring nation.  But could we rely upon others' navies to protect our interests? Could we even afford a Navy? What value and benefit would it bring to our society? There were sharp debates over this topic, and they were largely left unresolved – until the War of 1812.

Our Navy had inadequate funding, forces, and manpower when we found ourselves in the midst of war– with the enemy right at the water's edge. British naval power far exceeded that of the U.S.  The Royal Navy had 500 active warships, 140,000 sailors, and was renowned for its recent victories against Napoleon.

The British blockaded the Atlantic coast, including the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The British captured merchant vessels and crews. They raided coastal communities—including Washington, DC—and set the White House and Washington Navy yard ablaze. The blockade crushed the fledgling American economy and cost us over $100 million, a huge hit to a brand new nation.

Nevertheless, a handful of American ships were able to sneak past the British blockaders.  Thanks to the quality of their construction and the bravery of their captains and crews, these ships were able to raid British commerce and best their Royal Navy counterparts in a number of ship-to-ship duels.  These successes helped convince Britain to sue for peace and retreat from our shores.

The War of 1812 was not a decisive victory for our nation, but it proved the value of a robust Navy.  It answered those tough questions our nation was considering. Was a Navy worth it? Yes, our leaders decided. We needed a maritime force. And not just any maritime force – we needed the best in the world. The investment and commitment to build a strong Navy was necessary to protect and defend the nation we had worked so hard to create.

Today, to say that our Navy has served us well is an understatement. Time and again, our Navy has protected and defended our nation. It's kept enemies at bay. Because our leaders decided to "provide and maintain" a robust Navy, we defend ourselves today – not at the water's edge of our nation – but at the water's edge of other nations. The freedoms and comforts we enjoy exist largely because our nation, in commitment to our Constitution, has placed great priority on a dedication to a well-guarded peace.

However, in the past couple decades we've witnessed a sea change. We have seen that we live in a world where threats are becoming more global. We have seen that there are those who want to hurt America and rob us of our freedoms, and that just like during the War of 1812, their reach can cross our shores.  Abroad, we've seen a rise in naval competition that we haven't seen since the Cold War: nations – like China and Russia – are building up their naval strength.

At home, national defense cuts have put us in a position that undermines our ability to meet national security requirements.  Over the last 30 years the size of our fleet has shrunk by half, and shortfalls in sailors, ships, munitions, and other key factors are reducing our naval strength.

American economic prosperity and national security have always been tied to the sea in some form.  The War of 1812 made that painfully clear.  And yet, over 200 years later, we find ourselves asking the same questions our forefathers considered. Is it worth it to have a strong Navy? Is it valuable? Can we afford it?

From my vantage point as Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, the answer is still an unequivocal yes. We cannot afford to under-resource our Navy. If we do, we stand to invite conflict back to our water's edge. We will undermine our national security. We will imperil our freedoms.

This debate is crucial for our region. Virginia is known for its role in national defense.  Our harbors, airfields, and neighborhoods are home to the world's most powerful Navy, but all of our military services have a presence here.  The cooperation among the services, the industries, and the communities here in Virginia strengthens our military and our national defense.

My priority is to ensure that the men and women who wear this country's uniform have the training, the cutting-edge capabilities, and support they need to defeat any adversaries and protect American citizens and interests. Not just because a weak national defense is more often an invitation to confrontation than an overture of peace. But also because, for us here in Virginia, supporting our military is more than a priority – it's personal. These are our brothers, daughters, neighbors, and friends. We want to ensure they are the best trained, best prepared, and best equipped so that they can accomplish their missions and return safely home to us.

The danger of eroding our naval and military strength stretches beyond the oceans and the battlefields. The ripple effects extend past our men and women in uniform, federal workers or defense civilians. They don't just touch the Commonwealth of Virginia. The losses impact every aspect of the American way of life – from our economy, to our safety, to our families, to our freedoms.

Staff Members from Robert Hurt's Office to Hold Local Office Hours in Bedford, Cumberland, and Nelson Counties

Monday, March 14, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Staff members from Congressman Robert Hurt's (R-Virginia) office will hold Local Office Hours in Bedford, Cumberland, and Nelson Counties on Friday, March 18 to meet with constituents who need assistance with federal agencies. For more information, please visit our Local Office Hours Interactive Map.  In the event of inclement weather, please contact our Danville office at (434) 791-2596 to confirm Local Office Hours will be held as scheduled.

Friday, March 18, 2016

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Local Office Hours in Bedford County

Town of Bedford Municipal Office, Conference Room

215 East Main Street

Bedford, VA


9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Local Office Hours in Cumberland County

Cumberland County Public Library

1539 Anderson Highway

Cumberland, VA


1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Local Office Hours in Nelson County

Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, Conference Room

8521 Thomas Nelson Highway

Lovingston, VA


Congressman Robert Hurt Votes to Condemn The Islamic State

March 14, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) released the following statement after voting in favor of H. Con. Res. 75, which expresses the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria, including Christians, Yezidis, Kurds, and other groups, include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide:

"The congressionally mandated deadline for the Obama Administration to make a judgement on whether the Islamic State is committing genocide is March 17, but there is no question that this radical Islamic organization has deliberately perpetrated unspeakable acts of terror against innocent people.  There is no doubt it has committed horrific crimes against humanity, and it should not take the Administration three more days to reach this conclusion.  While the President repeatedly continues to shirk his constitutional responsibility to present a thorough strategy to defeat the Islamic State, the House of Representatives continues to focus on our national security and stands resolute against this radical terrorist organization.  I remain committed to doing everything within my power to maintain our national security and to protect American lives from the scourge of terror." 


FRC Commends House Vote on Genocide designation for ISIS Atrocities

March 14, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.Tonight, the House of Representatives voted on U.S. Rep. Fortenberry's (R-Nebr.) efforts to characterize ISIS' violence against Christians and others as genocide. ISIS has targeted religious minorities including Christians, Yezidis and many others.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins commented:

"I commend the House for unanimously voting to declare ISIS' atrocities against Christians and others as genocide. While condemning and stopping ISIS' bloody rampage against Christians and other religious minorities is a priority for the House of Representatives and most of the Western world, including the European Parliament, it has unfortunately not been a priority for the Obama administration.

"President Obama keeps talking about 'rising above ideology and partisanship.' Maybe it's time he took his own advice. More than 200 Democrats and Republicans cosponsored this House resolution addressing an issue it shouldn't have to: the genocide in the Middle East. If the Obama administration were as 'appalled,' 'horrified,' and 'concerned' about the annihilation of Christians as the White House says it is, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebr.) wouldn't have had to take the unusual step of addressing the crisis before the president does so.

"America has lost its chance to take the lead against ISIS. But regardless of the timing, our national security, vital interests, and essential values demand that we act. While the word 'genocide' alone won't stop the suffering, it will certainly go a long way to sparking a series of mostly non-military actions that can bring help and hope to our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering for nothing more than being identified as followers of Jesus Christ.

"Every day that goes by without America's help is a lost opportunity.

"Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in ISIS territory. And pray for our nation, which should always be leading on religious liberty -- not following," concluded Perkins.

Congressman Robert's Round-Up: Today’s Students Are Tomorrow’s Innovators

March 15, 2016

This past week, we had the opportunity to visit a number of schools across the Fifth District and learn about the curricula our students have been studying. We visited schools in Rocky Mount, Gretna, Chatham, Altavista, Brookneal, Cumberland, Palmyra, Farmville, Stanardsville, and Charlottesville discussing topics ranging from computer science to political science.

During our time at Franklin County High School, Fluvanna County High School, and Albemarle High School, we visited with the winners and honorable mention recipients of this year's Fifth District Congressional App Challenge. The Congressional App Challenge is an annual competition designed to engage student creativity and encourage their participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education fields and the entries we had this year were exceedingly impressive.

At Altavista High School, we visited their new TEALS (Technology, Education, and Literacy in Schools) Program. The TEALS class in Altavista started in 2015, and it is one of the first rural schools to have on site instruction through this exciting program. Training our students in programs like this is vital to ensuring they are prepared for their future.

We also visited a team of seventh graders at Charlottesville's Burley Middle School entered in this year's SchoolsNEXT contest who showed us their presentation. SchoolsNEXT is a global competition that involves designing what a school would look like in 2050. Their project involved both a computer generated model and a physical model of what they envisioned for their school of the future, and we were again thoroughly impressed.

We stopped by William Monroe Middle School's National History Day, in which the contestants presented their trifolds of a specific event in our history. The history of Virginia's Fifth District is rich, and it was exciting to see these young people demonstrate thorough understanding of our past.

Each of the students we had the opportunity to visit reinforced the unique importance of one bill in particular that recently passed in the House of Representatives and was signed into law. The No Child Left Behind Act, originally enacted in 2002, had good intentions and sought to improve student achievement. It was unfortunately also rooted in the idea that Washington knows what is best for our students. The law invited excessive federal intrusion into K-12 classrooms and prioritized test-taking over quality learning environments where local schools and parents worked together to foster children's development. But recently, we passed the Every Student Succeeds Act to significantly reduce the federal government's role in the classroom and eliminate a number of ineffective programs. This measure restores state and local government's control of their education systems and empowers parents, teachers, and school administrators to design the curricula that will be most effective in their communities – not federal bureaucrats.

Programs involving STEM education, such as TEALS and the SchoolsNEXT competition, are extraordinarily important to allow our students to innovate and evolve in ways that would not be possible within a rigid curriculum handed down by the federal government. The more control we allow our students and parents to have over their own learning, the more innovation we will see. The students we visited with this week all desired to work beyond the core curriculum and pursue opportunities that would further enhance their education. Through the Every Student Succeeds Act, we reformed No Child Left Behind to empower our local schools and encourage the innovation and ingenuity our Fifth District schools are promoting. In the House, we understand that a well-educated, well-trained workforce is essential to maintaining a competitive economy, and we remain committed to keeping the federal government out of our local schools.

If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.

Congressman Forbes Receives U.S. Chamber’s “Spirit of Enterprise”Award

March 15, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Spirit of Enterprise Award" in recognition of his unwavering support of job growth and free enterprise, as reflected by his voting record during the first legislative session of the 114th Congress.

"We are pleased to recognize Congressman Randy Forbes for engaging in pro-business policymaking that helps strengthen our nation's spirit of enterprise," said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "The Spirit of Enterprise Award honors those members of Congress who are committed to ensuring that American businesses can continue to operate and succeed in a free enterprise system."

"Throughout our country's history, it has been the individual who powers America -- individual workers, individual businesses, and individual jobs," said Forbes. "Today, it is still the collective power of that workforce that creates the backbone of our American economy. That's why I've made working to empower our job creators a priority of mine as I serve in Congress. We need to get Washington out of the way, and empower American entrepreneurs to light up the economy again."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Spirit of Enterprise" award is given annually to members of Congress based on their votes on critical business legislation as outlined in the Chamber publication, How They Voted. Members who supported the Chamber's position on at least 70 percent of those votes qualify to receive the award. According to the scorecard, Representative Forbes maintained a 75% rating with the Chamber this session and collectively holds an 87% ranking during his tenure in Congress.

As the world's largest business organization, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents over 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions. For more information on the Chamber of Commerce or this award visit

Congressman Robert Hurt Votes to Expand Broadband Access

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act, which would loosen burdensome regulations on smaller Internet Service Providers imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Open Internet Order, allowing them to focus on expanding consumer access to broadband:

"From the Environmental Protection Agency to the FCC, Washington continues to force unnecessary regulations on the American people and our small businesses.  In the House of Representatives, we are committed to cutting this bureaucratic red tape and allowing our small businesses to flourish.  This bipartisan legislation will protect small businesses from the burdensome requirements in the FCC's Open Internet Order, allowing them to dedicate their resources to expanding and innovating.  Furthermore, it allows smaller Internet Service Providers to focus on building networks, deploying broadband, and improving connectivity for rural consumers, which is critical to job creation.  Access to broadband is key to economic development, and expanding access is essential to a robust economic recovery.  The House remains committed to creating an economic environment that allows our small businesses to grow and create jobs.  It is my hope the Senate and the President join our efforts." 



Judge Garland is No Consensus Nominee; Senate is Right to Defer to the American People

March 16, 2016

Washington, D.C. -- Today, President Obama nominated Merrick B. Garland to serve on the United States Supreme Court, to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia's unexpected death.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:

"Judge Garland is far from being a consensus nominee and would be an incredibly different jurist than Justice Scalia. In fact, he was opposed by almost a quarter of the Senators who voted on his nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court in 1997, and some of Judge Garland's most recent opinions and dissents raises serious questions about his ability to serve as a constitutionalist.

"During this presidential election year, there is not time to provide any nominee the thorough review necessary to adequately consider a person's appointment to the Supreme Court. In fact, it has been almost a century and a half since a Supreme Court vacancy occurred and was filled in an election year when the White House and Senate were controlled by different parties.

"This November, Americans will speak to who they want nominating the next Justice for the United States Supreme Court. The American people should have a say, and the Senate should respect Americans' desire to speak to this important issue by declining to schedule hearings and votes on a Supreme Court nominee this year.

"Declining to vote on this nominee is, in effect, withholding consent to the nominee. Twenty-five other nominees to the Supreme Court have not received an up-or-down vote.

"The Supreme Court has become the centerpiece of this presidential election, and in a few months, the American people will choose a president who will nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia's seat," concluded Perkins.

Obama's Supremely Bad Nominee, McConnell Responds

By Gary L. Bauer

Obama's Supremely Bad Nominee

At the White House this morning, President Obama announced his nominee for the Supreme Court -- Judge Merrick Garland of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The media are dutifully attempting to spin Garland as a "centrist" or a "consensus choice." Consider this headline from the Los Angeles Times: "It's Going To Be Hard For Conservatives To Oppose The Careful, Moderate Merrick Garland."

Don't be fooled, my friends. Barack Obama was never going to nominate a moderate to the Supreme Court. It won't be hard at all to oppose Merrick Garland.

There was considerable concern in recent days among far-left activists that Obama might nominate Garland. After all, they kept hearing about how moderate he was, and they really want a dedicated liberal.

With that in mind, consider these soothing words from the radical blog Think Progress: "To be clear, Garland's record does not suggest that he would join the Court's right flank if confirmed to the Supreme Court. He would likely vote much more often than not with the Supreme Court's liberals."

I agree completely. Here's what we know about Judge Garland that big media won't tell you:

  • Garland clerked for Justice William Brennan, described by the New York Times as "a towering figure in modern law who embodied the liberal vision of the Constitution as an engine of social and political change."

  • Brennan was a leading advocate of abortion and affirmative action. He was a fierce opponent of the death penalty and bitterly resisted efforts of the Reagan Administration to bolster the conservative legal philosophy of originalism. In other words, Garland's mentor at the Supreme Court was the exact opposite of Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Obama is attempting to replace.

  • Garland spoke at an event in 2005 honoring the legacy of Justice Harry Blackmun, author of the notorious Roe v. Wade decision that forced every state in the union to allow abortion on demand.

  • Garland was on the wrong side of Supreme Court's Heller decision. The 5-to-4 decision, authored by Justice Scalia, upheld an individual's right under the Second Amendment to own a firearm for self-defense.

    But as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Garland voted for the District of Columbia's outrageous anti-Second Amendment gun ban. Thankfully, Justice Scalia struck down Garland's distorted view of our constitutional rights.

    So, once again, it is absolutely clear that Obama has nominated a liberal judge who would undo Justice Scalia's legacy and further erode our constitutional rights.

    McConnell Responds

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following statement today on the Senate floor in response to Obama's nomination:

    "The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course the American people should have a say in the court's direction.

    "The Senate will continue to observe the 'Biden Rule' so the American people have a voice in this momentous decision. The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate somebody very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy."

    When Senator McConnell insists he wants the voters to decide this November who should fill Scalia's vacancy, it means that this election will decide the future of our Second Amendment rights and so much more.

    My friends, the future of the Republic and the values we cherish are at stake. Please make sure all your friends and family members are registered to vote.

  • Air Force Space Commander Testifies to Wallops Island’s Importance

    March 16, 2016

    Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, used a recent hearing to ask the head of Air Force Space Command about the value of Wallops Island, Virginia as a launch site for military missions.

    When asked if Wallops Island would be of increased utility as military satellites grow smaller, General John Hyten, Commander of the Air Force Space Command, testified that "As we move into a different structure where we have smaller satellites… and maybe "cubesats" as well someday to do certain missions, we will need to take advantage of it [Wallops]."  General Hyten also testified that Wallops "also builds resiliency into our launch infrastructure.  We have vulnerabilities when everybody knows that the only place we launch our rockets from are at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg.  It's better to have more places to launch from."

    "Wallops Island has already been integral to commercial space efforts," Congressman Forbes said. "As we enter a new era of smaller satellites and contested space operations, there is a clear need to incorporate Wallops Island into a more resilient military launch posture.  Given General Hyten's recent comments, I look forward to advocating for further expansion of Wallops' role."

    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.

    Congressman Forbes: Allowing The President to Cement His Agenda Through The Supreme Court is a Mistake America Cannot Afford

    March 16, 2016

    Washington, D.C. – Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) released the following statement in response to President Obama's announcement today of his nomination to the United States Supreme Court:

    "Allowing this President to cement his agenda through the Supreme Court is a mistake America cannot afford. I introduced legislation urging the Senate to only consider a nominee with a proven record of defending the Constitution. It is crucial Americans have confidence that our Supreme Court Justices are bound -- not by the agenda of an Administration -- but by the Supreme Law of the Land."

    Congressman Forbes introduced a resolution (H.Res.615), urging the Senate to only consider a nominee to the Supreme Court with a proven record of adhering to the restraints placed on the federal judiciary by the Constitution.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2016

    Rules at the 2016 Republican National Convention

    Rules at the 2016 Republican National Convention
    By Morton Blackwell
    No one who has not participated in the rules-making process for the national Republican Party is likely to understand all provisions of the current rules, much less how those rules, whether as they now read or how they might be changed, would affect what happens at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
    Changed or not, The Rules of the Republican Party will have huge effects not expected or predicted by any of the national pundits who make their livings now commenting on the Republican presidential nomination contest.
    Some surprising aspects of these effects are already becoming better known.  A greater number of people have recently learned that, as the national rules now stand, no delegate votes cast for any presidential candidate will be counted in the tally of first ballot votes unless that candidate had earlier demonstrated his support from a majority of the delegations from at least eight states or territories.
    That's exactly what happened at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. 
    No votes for any candidate other than Mitt Romney were counted in the final tally of the votes on the first and only ballot in Tampa.  That caused a great uproar and many hard feelings.  Large numbers of Delegates went home furious.  They had come to Tampa to cast their votes for other candidates, but their votes weren't even counted!
    The Romney campaign used the power of the incoming presidential nominee in the national convention's Rules Committee to impose a great many rules changes, including a change that had the intended effect of eliminating the counting of votes for anyone but Romney.
    Romney was the only candidate who could demonstrate the support of a majority of delegates in at least eight states, and a rules change he pushed through prohibited even the counting of delegate votes for any other candidate.
    Of course, Romney already had a big majority of the convention's delegates.  He had the nomination sewed up, but he used his power, as establishment Republicans often do, in a ruthless power grab to marginalize non-establishment Republicans.
    As the Virginia Republican National Committeeman and Virginia's member of the Republican National Committee's Standing Committee on Rules, I attempted at the RNC's January 2016 meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, to correct this outrageous, unfair, and counterproductive 2012 Romney power grab.  I came close there to removing the prohibition on counting the votes of any credentialed Delegates who cast their votes according to their state party rules and state law.  More about that later.
    As the national rules now stand, no delegate votes will be counted in Cleveland that are cast for any 2016 candidate who can't show support from the majority of the delegations from at least eight states or territories.  If one candidate arrives at the Cleveland convention with a majority (1,237) of all the Delegates at the convention, a great many legitimate Delegates whose votes won't be counted will be furious.  But that candidate would already have a majority, so the eight-state threshold wouldn't affect who wins the nomination.
    On the other hand, let's examine what would happen if no candidate receives 1,237 delegate votes on the first ballot for the Republican presidential nomination. 
    First, a sizeable number of delegate votes cast will not be counted in the final tally of the first ballot because they will be cast for candidates who did not demonstrate, before the first ballot, that they had majorities in at least eight state delegations.
    Second, the national rules provide that no one will get the presidential nomination on any ballot until someone receives at least 1,237 tallied delegate votes.
    Third (and this will come as a surprise to most people), although delegate votes from states that hold primaries will be allocated by those state primaries to specific candidates on the first ballot, that does not mean that on subsequent ballots all delegates are free to vote for whomever they choose and to have those votes counted in a final tally on any ballot
    In fact, as it now stands, the same Romney-created rule, Rule 40(b), that prevents votes from being tallied for candidates who could not prove majority support from at least eight state delegations also provides that candidates must prove that they meet the eight-state threshold "not less than one (1) hour prior to the placing of the names of candidates for nomination pursuant to this rule and the established order of business."  In other words, when the first ballot begins, no additional candidates can qualify to receive votes that will be counted.
    Only candidates who meet the eight-state threshold required to receive votes that count on the first ballot can receive votes that count on subsequent ballots.
    Under the current rules, therefore, it's nonsense to talk about any candidate coming from behind to win the nomination unless that candidate meets the eight-state threshold before the first ballot, much less to talk about breaking a possible convention deadlock by nominating anyone who is not right now a candidate for the nomination.
    The current Republican rules regarding these matters are unprecedented and anti-democratic.
    In Virginia, for example, our proportional presidential primary on March 1 allocated delegate votes to five different candidates.  A national party rule requires some Virginia delegate votes be cast for each of those candidates, but another of those rules forbids the counting of Virginia delegate votes cast for any candidate who didn't win the support of a majority of delegates in eight states.  This is a foolish and unfair contradiction in the national rules.
    I have personally attended meetings of every Convention Rules Committee at every Republican National Convention starting in 1972, and I've served as Virginia's member of the Republican National Committee's Standing Committee on Rules since 1988.  Not once before the Romney power grabs at the 2012 Convention Rules Committee meeting in Tampa was it ever suggested that the votes of duly elected and credentialed Delegates should not be counted even though they voted in accord with the applicable state party rules and state laws.
    At every national convention before 2012, from time immemorial, a duly elected delegate not bound otherwise by state party rules or state law was free under the national rules to vote to nominate anyone for President, without regard to whether or not that person was accorded the honor of a nominating speech and a floor demonstration.
    Throughout the history of the Republican Party, state parties often supported "favorite sons" for President, often with dramatic speeches and floor demonstrations.  Unbound Delegates were free to vote for anyone, even those who had little or no chance to be the Republican presidential nominee.  Nevertheless, Republicans almost always picked our nominee on the first ballot.
    When TV began to broadcast proceedings of the national conventions, many believed that "favorite sons" ate up too much convention time and weren't very interesting to the national TV audience.  So the party rules were changed to limit the honor of nomination speeches and floor demonstrations to candidates who met some threshold of proven support. 
    That required threshold varied from time to time.  As the 2012 convention convened in Tampa, the threshold for qualifying for nominating speeches and floor demonstrations was proof of plurality support from the delegations of five states. 
    To make sure that Ron Paul didn't qualify, the Romney campaign changed the threshold to require demonstrated proof of support from the majority of the delegations from eight states. 
    The Romney campaign went even farther and changed the rules to prevent even the counting of delegate votes cast for candidates who didn't meet the eight-state threshold.  That unfairness threw out the votes earned by all candidates except Romney.  This caused a bitter commotion on the convention floor in Tampa and hurt Romney in the November election.
    Prior to the meeting in January 2016 of the RNC Standing Committee on Rules in South Carolina, I circulated to all RNC members a proposed amendment to The Rules of the Republican Party to provide that "the votes of all credentialed delegates properly cast according to state party rule and state law shall be reported by the state delegation chairman, repeated by the Convention Secretary, and included in the Convention Chairman's announced tally of the votes on that ballot."  This would have restored the "threshold" question's application only to the matter of candidates qualifying for nominating speeches and floor demonstrations, as it had always been.
    I arrived days early for the meeting and received commitments of support from many RNC members, including some who routinely vote with the party establishment.
    At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Rules, I introduced my amendment.  It was seconded.  Debate began.
    Member after member spoke in support of my proposal.  To my surprise, the RNC General Counsel rose, and the meeting transcript shows that he spoke favorably about my amendment, among other things saying, "I think we need to honor the intent of the voters in the states by recognizing the instructions they have given to their delegates."  He also said later in the discussion, "So I think in order to be true to our own rules and our intent, we need to allow of these votes to be counted and the voice of the people to be heard.  I think it's self-evident."
    Unlike previous RNC General Counsels who also served simultaneously as members themselves of the RNC, the RNC's current General Counsel serves as Chairman Reince Priebus' point man in debates in the RNC Standing Committee on Rules.  The General Counsel and I agreed on what was to me a minor, non-substantive amendment to my proposal, and the Standing Committee passed my slightly altered amendment by an overwhelming voice vote.
    A few minutes later another RNC lawyer who is known to be very close to Chairman Priebus left his place by the Standing Committee Chairman at the head table and went over to the side of the room to the table of RNC lawyers there.  He said and loudly kept repeating that candidates who were not nominated should not receive any delegate votes.
    For several minutes further business was halted while RNC lawyers and several RNC members held a discussion at the lawyers' side table.
    Then the General Counsel moved to reconsider my amendment which the Standing Committee had just passed with his support.  It became clear that the powers-that-be had switched signals.  The motion to reconsider my amendment passed.
    Then the General Counsel moved to delete from my amendment the words "and included in the Convention Chairman's announced tally of votes on that ballot."  His motion passed, restoring that Romney power grab from the Tampa convention.
    Long experience has taught me that articulate lawyers can make a case with a straight face for anything, and many of them can reverse their positions on a dime.
    In this case, my amendment would have restored the historically honored rights of duly elected and credentialed Delegates to have their votes counted, as long as they acted in accord with their state party rules and state law.  It would also have eliminated one reason for a great many Delegates to go home feeling cheated because their votes weren't counted.
    The counter-argument was expressed by little else than loudly repeating the claim that candidates not nominated may not receive votes.  That's absurd, of course. 
    Many un-nominated candidates from time to time have won election by write-in votes by legitimate voters.  Any organization has the right to write its own rules.  Our Party adopted the "threshold" rule to prevent delay of our national conventions by nominating speeches and floor demonstrations, without any thought or intent to deprive legitimate Delegates of the right to vote for candidates they support or for whom they were bound by their state party primaries.
    Under the current rules, the 2016 convention could be deadlocked because so many legitimate Delegates' votes couldn't be counted that no one could assemble the required 1,237 delegate votes.  Or after a deadlock, a majority of the Delegates might be ready to nominate someone they couldn't vote for because that preferred candidate didn't meet the required threshold before the first ballot.
    And in the best possible scenario under the current rules, many legitimate Delegates will go home disgusted because their votes weren't counted.
    There are still four ways any rules regarding the 2016 nomination process at the convention can be changed. 
    First, the RNC Standing Committee on Rules could adopt changes, including once again reversing itself and restoring legitimate Delegates' right to have their votes counted.
    Second, the RNC itself could in Cleveland amend the report of its Standing Committee on Rules.
    Third, the Convention Rules Committee, comprised of two Delegates, a man and a woman elected by each state's Delegation, can and always does make amendments to the proposed new rules package it receives from the Republican National Committee.
    Fourth, when the report of the Convention Rules Committee is received by the national convention, the convention itself can adopt new amendments, but only if the convention receives a minority report signed by at least 25% of the members of its Convention Rules Committee.
    Unfortunately, the January RNC meeting in South Carolina was the last time it was likely to be possible to make changes dispassionately based on what is fair and best for our Party in the rules governing the nomination process at the coming convention.  Now every proposed rule change will be evaluated by the effect it would have on the respective candidates still in the nomination contest.
    The Romney campaign in 2012 broke with the practice of incoming nominees for many decades of allowing the Convention Rules Committee to make its own decisions. If any 2016 candidate comes to the convention with 1,237 or more committed delegates, he might use his power to reform the national Party rules.
    And it might be possible for two or more of the current four candidates to agree to support a set of reforms in the Party rules that would make those rules more fair and increase the extent to which power in our Party can flow from the bottom up.