U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes was the newest member of Congress on Sept. 11, 2001, having just won a special election. Since then, the 4th District congressman has spent much of his time in office shaping the United States' ability to respond to the terrorist attacks.
Forbes, 60, now serves as chairman of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee. He is seeking re-election in November and facing Democratic challenger Ella Ward, a Chesapeake City Council member.
But Forbes says he has bucked his party's establishment at times.
He's quick to point out he opposed the bank bailouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program backed by President George W. Bush and the auto-industry bailouts touted by President Barack Obama. Last year, he split with many Republicans by voting against the Budget Control Act of 2011, fearing the deal could lead to the now looming across-the-board defense cuts known as sequestration.
"I knew it was going to put us in the exact situation we're in right now," Forbes said in an interview with the Daily Press.
A deeply religious man, for more than 20 years Forbes has taught Sunday school at Great Bridge Baptist Church in Chesapeake. He is a founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. Last year he sponsored a House resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the national motto.
After Obama said in a speech in Turkey in 2009 that the United States was not a "Christian nation or a Jewish nation," Forbes penned an op-ed and spoke passionately on the House floor insisting the nation had been founded on "Judeo-Christian principles."
Forbes hasn't been afraid to clash with the Obama administration when he disagrees with its priorities, especially on defense issues. At a hearing in August he chided Navy Secretary Ray Maybus for testing biofuels in Navy warships.
"You're not the secretary of energy," Forbes said, according to a report in The New York Times. "You're the secretary of the Navy." http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/business/military-spending-on-biofuels...
Forbes said his biggest regret as a legislator has been "not working to force Congress to do more oversight or due diligence on the executive branch — President [George W.]Bush or President Obama."
He said he makes tries to question everybody who comes to hearings he attends on Capitol Hill. "I don't want to just hear their opinion. I want to see their analysis," Forbes said.
After a bipartisan "super committee" failed last year, making sequestration an increased reality, he set off on his own nationwide crusade, preaching the news of a looming catastrophe if the cuts go into effect.
During the tour, which he called "Defending the Defenders," Forbes tried to explain what the more than $500 billion in defense cuts could do not only to Hampton Roads, but throughout the country.
He said this year he spoke to a filled convention center in Arkansas about the cuts, along with Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican Sen. John Boozman.
When riding in the car with Boozman he passed long lines of people and television cameras. "Who are they here to see?" Forbes said he asked Boozman. The senator responded, "They're here to see you Randy."
J. Randy Forbes
Education: BA, Randolph Macon College, 1974 (valedictorian); LLB, University of Virginia School of Law, 1977
Experience: Virginia House of Delegates 1989-1997, Virginia State Senate 1997-2001, U.S. House of Representatives 2001 -Present