Del. Barbara Comstock Opens "Victory" Campaign Office in Haymarket
September 09, 2014 | Haymarket Beat
Delegate Barbara Comstock (R), Congressman Rob Wittman and local elected officials were on hand for the grand opening of the Haymarket "Victory" office August 2. The campaign office will serve Comstock in her run for U.S. Congress to become the Virginia Representative from the 10th District.
The office opening shows a strong coalition of support for Comstock and the Republican ticket.
Other elected officials present included Delegate David Ramadan, Delegate Rich Anderson, Prince William County Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland, Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish, Gainesville District School Board Member Alyson Satterwhite, Prince William County Chairman Bill Card and 10th District Chairman John Whitbeck.
"It was great to see the growing momentum and to have so many supporters join us for opening our Haymarket Victory Office," Barbara Comstock said, following the opening. "As we head into these critical next two months, our Haymarket office will be an important location to help us reach voters and keep our grassroots efforts strong. We all know how important this election is to get the country back on the right track, create jobs, grow the economy, and restore our military and national security."
Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1) also expressed his excitement about the opening of the new campaign office.
"I was thrilled with the show of support for Barbara Comstock from so many folks in Haymarket on Saturday. Virginians in the 1st and 10th Districts are committed to commonsense principles that will ensure this nation remains the greatest the world has ever known, and I will continue fighting for those principles as I serve the 1st District."
Comstock has been endorsed by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National and Virginia Realtors, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Association of Builders and Contractors, Virginia Credit Union League, and many Virginia business, community and elected leaders across the District.
Residents are invited to visit the Haymarket Victory Office located at 14550 John Marshall Highway, Haymarket, VA 20169.
Written by Barbara Comstock's campaign staff.
Key Republican visits Newport News shipyard
September 05, 2014 | Daily Press
NEWPORT NEWS - Rep. Mac Thornberry hails from Texas, where they say everything is bigger. But even he was impressed after a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding and an up-close look at aircraft carrier and submarine construction.
"It is incredibly impressive," said Thornberry, a top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. "Clearly this shipyard is a national treasure."
For the shipyard to thrive, it needs congressional allies such as Thornberry to ensure a steady flow of funds. The nuclear-powered warships built by Newport News, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, are produced on a set schedule. When congressional gridlock delays that money, which has happened in the past, it becomes more difficult for shipyards to plan and can drive up project costs.
Pointing to different hot spots around the world, Thornberry said he'd like to see U.S. shipyards get a lot busier.
"Naval ships equals U.S. presence around the world," he said. "There is currently some question about our leadership in the world, our presence around the world. I think part of the answer is, we have to put more ships in the water."
Joining Thornberry at a press conference were Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News; Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake; and Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland.
Forbes and Wittman chair subcommittees on House Armed Services; Forbes deals with sea power and Wittman handles military readiness.
Wittman said the Virginia delegation "learns a little bit more" after every visit. And Forbes echoed Thornberry's call for a bigger fleet, which is projected to stand at 274 ships next year. Forbes cited a Navy admiral who said if the fleet drops to 260, the U.S. ceases to become a world power and becomes a regional power.
"We want to turn that curve around," he said.
Hampton Roads lawmakers aim to protect Langley Air Force Base
September 05, 2014 | Daily Press
HAMPTON - The region's four U.S. representatives had breakfast with local officials Friday to discuss a topic that's crucial to the area's economy - how best to defend Langley Air Force Base in a time of military budget cuts and uncertainty.
Langley contributes an estimated $1.2 billion a year to the Hampton Roads economy, but federal spending cuts are already whittling away at that number. The Air Force announced in July it will cut 742 positions at the Combat Command headquarters at Langley. Air Force officials haven't said how many current civilians or active-duty troops will be affected because some positions are vacant.
The local congressmen - Reps. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News; Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach; Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake; and Rob Wittman, R-Montross - agreed that one key to a successful defense will be speaking with a unified voice.
"It's a very knowledgeable group who can articulate the process we need to do," Hampton Mayor George Wallace said. "The trick in the task is pulling it off."
The conversation at the Hampton Roads Convention Center rarely touched on the ground-floor efforts local leaders need to accomplish to protect Langley and instead veered toward the debate about national spending and cuts to the military as a whole.
The congressmen said deep spending cuts have already reduced the country's military might to the point that it may affect the nation's ability to extinguish global flash points and protect international routes of commerce.
They are working to find new tenants for Langley. The Air Force announced last month it would temporarily locate a new support center at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, but the lawmakers said Langley would be a good host for the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (Provisional) when it is permanently located in the coming months.
"We're working with the secretary of the Air Force to bring the mission support center to Langley to try to offset many of those layoffs," Scott said. "Base-closing will be back on the agenda, and they're unpopular, but we'll try to put them off for as long as possible."
Scott was referring to the Base Realignment and Closure process, known as BRAC, which was created to take politics out of the discussion of military needs. The most recent BRAC round, in 2005, led to the decommissioning of Fort Monroe and posed a threat to Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. No new BRAC round has been scheduled, but another round of base-closings is always a possibility.
Rigell said the area's congressional delegation needs to approach colleagues with a unified voice.
"We really need to circle the wagons on this," Rigell said. "Your congressional delegation needs to lean into this and put its best foot forward."
Specifics were harder to come by.
Finding federal funding to protect the nation's military is the fundamental challenge facing Virginia's delegation, and there are no easy answers.
Simplified, Congress is split along party lines about whether to raise taxes or find further spending cuts to free up dollars for national defense.
Congressman On HHS Surprising States With Children: "There Is A Total Lack Of Communication"
July 17, 2014 | Daily Caller
WASHINGTON - When Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman discovered that immigrant children were being sent to his district, he demanded during a congressional hearing that "the administration fully divulge exactly where these children are going."
"There is a total lack of communication here. The taxpayers deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent. What the policy is - not just now, but in the long term? What are we going to do to address these unaccompanied alien children?" Wittman told D.C.-based radio station WMAL on Wednesday.
The congressman finds it "unbelievable that they would just go about and scatter these children across the country without telling anybody what they are doing, how they are doing it and what their long-term plan is."
In Wittman's congressional district, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart was the one to discover the children coming to the area, but it was not the federal government who told him.
It was an official from a Christian non-profit Youth for Tomorrow in Bristow, Va., who gave him the heads up that the federal government had contracted with the organization to house and care for the immigrant children.
Stewart wants to know how many more children the government plans to send his way.
"What really peeves us about this is that the federal government is doing this without informing us," the Prince William County official told WMAL Radio.
Prince William County, Va. is not alone.
In the neighboring state of Maryland, word had spread last week in Carroll County that the Department of Health and Human Services officials were eyeing Westminster's former Army Reserve facility as a location to house immigrant children.
Community leaders pushed back on the idea.
Rep. Andy Harris, whose district includes Carroll County, threatened to use his position in Congress to impact the purse strings of HHS if it went forward with the plan.
The congressman released this statement last Friday: "Should HHS attempt to proceed with housing them at this facility, Congressman Harris will use any and all resources at his disposal as a member of the House Appropriations Committee and in particular the subcommittee that oversees the HHS budget to stop this."
Over the span of one weekend, the mounting pressure led the feds to retreat from the idea of using the facility.
Fox News reporter Ed Henry pressed White House press secretary Josh Earnest on why government officials in each state are "finding out in the last-minute" or not at all about undocumented immigrant children being relocated to their neighborhoods.
"The public does have a right to know what's happening and that's why the administration has been trying to communicate clearly with the public about the steps we are taking to address the problem at the border," Earnest responded at Wednesday's White House press briefing.
The White House spokesperson added a caveat: "At the same time, there are privacy rights that are included in the law that this administration is committed to enforcing and following."
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman scoffed at the Obama administration's secretive transporting of illegal children as a matter of protecting "the privacy" of these underage minors.
"We are talking potentially illegal individuals in this country and they are going to get 'privacy' protections that legal citizens don't get?" the Nebraska governor said to Fox Business Network host Melissa Francis on Wednesday.
Heineman has been critical of the administration's handling of the border crisis since he recently discovered over 200 illegal children were sent to his state without warning.
"It is about cooperation, transparency and my question is 'what are they hiding?' Why are they afraid to give us this information?" he inquired.
The governor has received no response from the federal government about his questions regarding the children and the strain on his state's resources.
"Who are these illegal unaccompanied children? Who is their sponsor? Where are you sending them?" Heineman wants to know.
He continued: "We need to know all this information to protect our state and our citizens... We will be responsible for educating these children. Who will pay for that?"
Mary Fallin, governor of Oklahoma, said she was "alerted through the media" about 600 unaccompanied minors arriving at Ft. Sill in her state.
"It was quite a shock to us. It's a military installation that we're taking these children to," Gov. Fallin told Fox News on Wednesday.
One mayor in California welcomes the immigrants to his city.
"We've already talked to HHS. Many of their parents are here. Before you get partisan and tell me where you are on immigration, these are children. Let's get them some place safe and secure. Let's get them legal representation which is what this country has always stood for," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a forum.
A mayor in Massachusetts said her town has become "overwhelmed" by illegal immigration and it has been a drain on the town's resources.
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy in Lynn, Mass., said, "We have been aware of the unaccompanied children issue for quite a while but now it's gotten to the point with our school system is overwhelmed. Our health department is overwhelmed. The city's budget is being substantially altered."
Massachusetts Sheriff Tom Hodgson described the nationwide immigrant influx best: "We're all becoming border states now."
Local lawmakers split on immigration reform
July 11, 2014 | Daily Press
Hampton Roads' representatives to Congress split along party lines Wednesday on the best way to approach immigration reform.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform act last month. The bill includes a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million people now living in the U.S. without legal authorization and increased security at the U.S.-Mexico border. Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine both supported the bill.
But Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said the House would not consider the Senate bill and several bills addressing specific aspects of immigration have been put forth by House Republicans.
Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, said he opposes the Senate bill and amnesty. He said immigration reform is so complex that it needs to be examined piece by piece.
"There's a tendency to say, 'Let's lump a bunch of issues together,'" he said. "1,000-page-plus bills are not the way to take this piece of legislation up."
Among the issues that need to be addressed, Wittman said, are assessing the effectiveness of border control strategies and determining how to deal with those who live in the U.S. illegally. He said the solution is to break the issue down into simple, understandable parts and build one piece of legislation on another, which he calls "foundational legislating."
As far as the citizenship question, Wittman said different groups are seeking different things - those who have expired visas, for example, have different goals from those here on work permits - and some don't want full citizenship status.
"Many people aren't desirous of a path to citizenship," Wittman said.
One alternative being pushed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Henrico, scales back the scope of the path to citizenship outlined in the Senate bill and replaces it with a provision allowing those who came to America as children to earn citizenship.
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, said he doesn't support an amnesty plan like that in the Senate bill. For immigration reform to be successful, he said, mechanisms to execute the law need to be a priority.
"There's (a path to citizenship) out there now and people just don't comply with it," Forbes said. "Enforcement is crucial."
Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News, supports the Senate bill, but said as long as the key provisions - a path to citizenship, measures bolstering border security and a plan for future immigration - are included, immigration reform will be a success.
However, he says breaking the bill apart to vote on it will mean some important points may get less support than if the previsions were all bundled together.
"I just don't see how you can pass legislation unless it's comprehensive," Scott said. He said he was unhappy with the expensive border security provisions in the Senate bill but said he would accept them "if that's what it takes to get the bill passed."
A spokesperson for Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, who also represents parts of Hampton and Newport News, said the congressman would not support the Senate bill as is and that immigration reform is "a complex problem with no easy answers."