Sunday, June 12, 2016

What Forbes Means to Virginia and the Country

Friend --

Each time I view the awesome, mighty battleship USS Wisconsin, I am reminded of the resounding support the Tidewater community gave the bipartisan Congressional team, which I led, to secure legislation authorizing the Navy to prepare the ship for transfer to the City of Norfolk. With serenity, the ship symbolizes the many generations of Tidewater citizens who have "manned the watch" to protect and expand our nation's largest collection of Naval and maritime facilities, all committed to vital missions protecting our nation's national security and freedom of international navigation.

Since my retirement from the Senate in 2009, I have, by choice, been on the sidelines of state and national politics. But with such unprecedented complexity looming over the coming elections, I believe I have the duty to step up now in support of a former colleague, Chairman Randy Forbes.

Randy, in many ways, is following in my footsteps. He is now Chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee; I was a former Senate Chairman of the Navy Seapower Subcommittee. As my seniority increased, I became Full Committee Ranking Republican and eventually was elevated by the Full Committee to serve as Chairman. Through persistence and hard work, Forbes continues to move up to where he will be eligible to take "the helm" and become Chairman of the House Full Committee. 

Randy and I served together in the Congress for nearly a decade before my retirement; and I remember so very well how he sought my advice, when he was first elected, in setting up his Tidewater district offices to function in sync with my state constituent service offices, thereby providing Tidewater the broadest help possible to its residents and the many valued retired military and their families.

During his years in Congress, Forbes has become nationally recognized as one of the leading advocates for modernizing and enlarging the U.S. Navy. He has consistently led efforts to strengthen America's naval and maritime services. For example, the most recent defense authorization bill, which passed the House of Representatives last month, included language written by Forbes specifically growing the Navy's shipbuilding budget -- possibly to the highest level since the Ronald Reagan era. Assuming the Senate passes it, and it becomes law, it represents a historic achievement in the constant challenge to enable our Navy to better maintain its cutting edge of superiority over the growing strength of other Navies worldwide, particularly China and Russia. The record clearly reflects that a large measure of credit for this Congressional effort is owing to Randy Forbes' persistent and convincing leadership among his colleagues. 

As one works in Congress to achieve such goals, there is no "playbook," "textbook," or other "manual" on "how to do it!" The path to success is earned by long hours, presiding over long hearings, and long separations often from families and friends, that lawmakers endure as they work with and learn from their fellow colleagues on both sides of the aisle. There is no substitute for years of hands-on experience. Seniority is built up by leadership, persistence, and earning the respect and confidence of your colleagues.

Randy Forbes has been among the most consistent voices warning against the dangers of both budget sequestration and the President's repeated efforts to lower national defense spending. His position, which required overcoming some opposition in his own party, foresaw accurately the dangers of sequestration and its impact on the men and women who proudly wear our nation's uniform. Now, as the House strongly supported defense spending this year, it is our hope that we will soon have a strong joint House and Senate defense bill for the coming fiscal year that will begin to reverse some of these devastating cuts. 

Apart from budget considerations, there is always the fierce competition from other states to acquire parts of the extensive defense structure geographically located throughout the Tidewater area. I experienced it day in and day out -- as does the current Congressional Virginia Delegation. It is unfortunate that the Tidewater is losing two very respected Members of Congress; all the more reason to keep in Congress the strong, persistent voice of Randy Forbes. 

An example of this occurred when the Administration proposed retiring the aircraft carrier USS George Washington from the Fleet -- Forbes worked on a bipartisan basis to keep this critical capability in active status and maintained properly. He was similarly effective in leading joint efforts to "squash" plans to remove the Navy's cruisers from service, and to inactivate a Carrier Air Wing.

The citizens of Hampton Roads have a centuries-long tradition of supporting a strong national security, going back to before the American Revolution. The economy of this region is intimately connected to an adequately financed military. Decisions made in Washington can directly impact tens of thousands of well-paying jobs. During my 30 years in the Senate, Virginia was blessed with legislators of talent and integrity, with a deep commitment to national defense, and the needed level of seniority in Congress to protect the Hampton Roads defense industrial base – truly a national asset.

I've been privileged to know and work with Forbes off and on for nearly 40 years, and have watched him continue to grow and to assume more and more responsibility and leadership. I can attest he is truly a man of strong character, humble about his commitment to patriotism, and one who believes his highest duty is serving the men and women in uniform who serve our country. 

On June 14th, this Tuesday, your vote is most important. I urge you to consider fairly and objectively Forbes' long, dedicated period of public service to Tidewater, to the full state of Virginia, and to our country.  

And, may I humbly thank you for the opportunity to share with you my views. In years past, your support made my career possible! 

John Warner

U.S. Senator, VA, Retired (1979-2009)
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Former Secretary of the U.S. Navy


Randy Forbes for U.S. Congress · United States
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