"In the News"
Roanoke Times: Poff renovation costs climb to $80 million
By Jeff Sturgeon
April 2, 2014
The Poff Federal Building in downtown Roanoke will require an additional $15 million of work to its garage and cosmetic facade as add-ons continue to plague the renovation project begun as a way to save energy.
What began as a $51 million job paid for with federal stimulus dollars is now on course to run about $80 million.
U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, opposed the decision to mend the 39-year-old complex and says the General Services Administration, which oversees nonmilitary federal offices and real estate, is to blame for the project’s escalating cost.
“I believe this project has been handled in a reckless manner,” Goodlatte said by email Tuesday. “Most of these issues and add-on projects could have been discovered before taxpayer dollars were wasted if a proper inspection and analysis had been completed.”
Goodlatte pledged to lend the project and the GSA what he called needed additional oversight.
Commencing the largest renovation ever for the Poff, the GSA in 2011 undertook a series of energy upfits funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Barack Obama’s initiative to goose the economy.
But before construction began, an investigation revealed that the GSA had awarded the primary construction contract without competitive bidding in violation of federal law. In addition, the investigation found the GSA never rigorously compared its choice to repair the deteriorating structure against new construction in a cost-benefit analysis.
The GSA’s office of the inspector general said it couldn’t gauge the reasonableness of the price to which the government committed or know whether taxpayers got a good deal. But the renovation of the Poff building went forward anyway in late summer 2011.
The first phase, now winding down, cost an estimated $54 million, the GSA has said. To temporarily relocate the Roanoke office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs during the work, the GSA spent an additional $11.5 million, GSA spokeswoman Gina Gilliam said. Displaced personnel are scheduled to move back in this month. The structure has a new roof, climate control, lights, windows and public bathrooms.
While making the Poff energy efficient, crews discovered it is falling apart in places. A brick facade on each end of the building, which came loose in places and was removed from the west side, will be rehung. In addition, the GSA plans to renovate the staff parking garage because of severe deterioration due to improper drainage, water infiltration and the discovery of degraded concrete and steel elements. The two-level parking area is open but won’t last without improvements, according to an engineer’s assessment obtained by the GSA.
The GSA will have to bring back construction crews, probably in 2016, according to Jennifer Smith, project manager and architect for the Western District of Virginia federal courts.
The GSA has requested $15.1 million to complete those projects, according to a March 6 memorandum submitted to Congress and released by Goodlatte’s office Tuesday.
In yet another add-on, the GSA also plans to reconstruct a brick barrier that encircles its outdoor plaza, where an eye-level retaining wall is leaning slightly toward Franklin Road, Smith said. The GSA previously obtained the money for that work, estimated not to exceed $1.1 million, and intends to contract for services this month, Smith said.
All things included, the known costs associated with renovating the Poff come to about $80 million.
The GSA has yet to remount, or pay someone to remount, a sculpture that stood before the building. It’s unclear what that will cost, though the storage was furnished free by an art conservation organization at its facility in northern Ohio.
Could the bill to modernize the Poff go even higher? Maybe.
During the run-up to construction, Goodlatte said building personnel and others harbored “major security concerns with this building” given its location fronting on Franklin Road. Goodlatte believes those issues still have not been addressed, his spokeswoman Beth Breeding said.
RollCall: Bipartisan Road Map for Protecting and Encouraging American Innovation
By Bob Goodlatte
March 13, 2014
Throughout our nation’s history, great ideas have powered our economic prosperity and security, from the Industrial Revolution to the Internet age. Safeguarding those great ideas were so important to our Founding Fathers that they included patent protection in the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution charges Congress with overseeing a patent system to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.”
As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of our patent system, I take the charge to uphold our Constitution seriously. In recent years, we have seen an exponential increase in the use of weak or poorly granted patents by “patent trolls” to file numerous patent infringement lawsuits against American businesses with the hopes of securing a quick payday. This abuse of the patent system is not what our Founding Fathers provided for in our Constitution.
At its core, abusive patent litigation is a drag on our economy and stifles innovation. Everyone from independent inventors to startups to mid- and large-sized businesses face this constant threat. The tens of billions of dollars spent on settlements and litigation expenses associated with abusive patent suits represent truly wasted capital — wasted capital that could have been used to create new jobs, fund research and development, and create new innovations and technologies. Bad actors who abuse the patent system devalue American intellectual property and are a direct threat to American innovation.
Abusive patent litigation is also a drain on consumers. We will never know what lifesaving invention or next-generation smartphone could have been created because a business went bankrupt after prolonged frivolous litigation or paying off a patent troll. When a firm spends more on patent litigation than on research, money is being diverted from real innovation. The patent system was designed to reward inventors and incentivize innovation, bringing new products and technologies to consumers.
Last year, I introduced the Innovation Act (HR 3309), legislation designed to eliminate the abuses of our patent system, discourage frivolous patent litigation and keep U.S. patent laws up to date. In December, the House of Representatives, with overwhelming bipartisan support and the support of the White House, passed the Innovation Act. This important bill will help fuel the engine of American innovation and creativity, creating new jobs and growing our economy. Effective patent reform legislation requires the careful balance that was achieved in the Innovation Act.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., ranking member Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa., and committee members John Cornyn, R-Texas, Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, among others, are leading efforts in the Senate to combat abusive practices within our patent system that inhibit innovation. I am optimistic that as the Senate moves toward consideration of legislation they will act just as the House did and pass comprehensive patent litigation reform that includes all of the necessary reforms made in the Innovation Act, including heightened pleading standards and fee shifting.
In 2011, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the America Invents Act (PL 112-29), which brought the most comprehensive change to our nation’s patent laws since the 1836 Patent Act. We are continuing to work again in a collaborative, bipartisan way to end abusive patent litigation to help the American economy and American people. I am optimistic that these important reforms will be enacted to stop the abuse of our patent system and restore the central role patents play in our economy.
Half measures and inaction are not viable options. The time is now, and the Innovation Act has helped set a clear bipartisan road map toward eliminating the abuses of our patent system, discouraging frivolous patent litigation and keeping U.S. patent laws up to date.
Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
FoxNews.com: Mr. Obama, our Constitution is clear -- your executive overreach must stop
By Bob Goodlatte
March 12, 2014
The Constitution is clear: it is the role of Congress to make all laws, the Judiciary to interpret the laws, and the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
This system was wisely set into place by our country’s framers because they saw the effects of executive overreach by the crown in England and designed the Constitution to avoid concentrating power in one leader or one branch of government.
The framers knew first hand that the concentration of power in the same hands was a threat to individual liberty and the rule of law.
Unfortunately, as prominent law professor Jonathan Turley – who stated in his testimony that he voted for President Obama – observed at a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, there has been “a massive gravitational shift of authority to the Executive Branch that threatens the stability and functionality of our tripartite system.”
Although this trend has occurred over the past several decades under both Republican and Democratic administrations, some constitutional scholars note that executive overreach has accelerated at an alarming rate under President Obama.
In President Obama’s State of the Union address in front of Congress and the American people, the president vowed to act alone and that “where [Congress] won’t act, I will.”
He also boldly asserts that he has a “pen and a phone” to change our laws through executive decrees. These have not been empty proclamations and should be troubling to every American, regardless of political party.
Throughout the past five years, President Obama has routinely failed to enforce laws that he disagrees with for policy reasons and has stretched his authority to put policies in place that the American people, through their elected representatives, have rejected.
For example, President Obama has refused to enforce those parts of our nation’s immigration laws that are not to his political liking, has waived portions of our welfare laws, has stretched our environmental laws to accommodate his policy objectives, and has waived testing accountability provisions required under the “No Child Left Behind” education law.
Political appointees at the Justice Department have announced that rather than work with Congress to amend the federal criminal code, they will simply stop prosecuting low-level drug offenders under mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
And now that his signature health care law has not been working and revealed his empty promises, President Obama has changed that law unilaterally over 20 times.
While there are varying opinions on these important issues within Congress, the Constitution grants Congress, not the president, the power to make legislative decisions. The Constitution does not confer upon the president the executive power to circumvent Congress and write, or rewrite, laws through executive fiat.
We cannot allow President Obama, or any president, to ignore the constitutional limits on executive power. The framers did not expect America’s elected representatives in Congress and the federal judiciary to sit on the sidelines and watch as one branch aggrandized its own powers and exceeded the authority granted it by the Constitution.
Without Congress and the courts stepping in, the constitutional requirement that the President “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” will become an unenforceable and meaningless check on presidential ambition.
The House Judiciary Committee has studied this growing problem, received input from constitutional scholars, and approved carefully-crafted legislation that reins in executive overreach. The House will vote on this legislation this week, taking us one step closer to restoring balance to the separation of powers.
These bills—the ENFORCE the Law Act and the Faithful Execution of the Law Act—allow Congress to challenge executive overreach in the courts, expedite judicial review of those challenges, and increase accountability and transparency when the Executive Branch decides not to enforce our nation’s laws.
With an unrestrained Executive Branch that knows no limits, it is ultimately up to the Congress and the courts to check the President’s overreach and restore balance to our system of government.
Preventing the president from overstepping the boundaries of his constitutional authority is not about partisan politics. It is about preserving the fundamental premise of our constitutional design: That a limited government, divided into three separate branches exercising enumerated powers, is necessary to protect individual liberty and the rule of law.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
News Virginian: Goodlatte testifies about Renewable Fuel Standard
By Brian Carlton
December 12, 2013
The Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t working and Virginia residents are suffering as a result. That was the testimony from Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte last week, as he spoke before the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA held a hearing on proposed changes that would cut down the amount of ethanol required in gallons of gasoline.
“Every cattle producer who faces higher feed costs, every family who shops in a grocery store or dines at a restaurant, and every motorist who fills up their tank at the gas station pays the price of this unworkable policy,” Goodlatte testified to agency officials.
The policy Goodlatte referred to is the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires by 2022 that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be part of the country’s fuel supply. Last month, EPA officials announced they would consider waiving the rule for 2014, as the current supply of ethanol isn’t enough to meet those requirements. This hearing was part of the debate over whether to push forward with that idea or not. If approved, this would mark the first time since the bill’s creation in 2007 that the amount of ethanol supplied in this country has dropped.
In the past, Goodlatte argued that because corn is used to make ethanol, it depletes the supply of that food for farmers to feed their livestock and drives up the cost for producers and consumers. This past spring, he filed two bills to address that. One of those, the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act, would cap ethanol use at 10 percent. The other bill, the Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act, does just that, eliminating the standard. In testimony, Goodlatte said that the EPA’s proposal doesn’t solve the problem.
“We appreciate that EPA has proposed a slight reduction of the RFS for 2014,” Goodlatte said. “While this is an acknowledgement that the mandate is unworkable, it is not enough to provide the much-needed relief businesses, farmers, and consumers need.”
In his testimony, Goodlatte said by using the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal government is telling a private company that they have to buy one product, while ignoring other groups that depend on that product. As a result, the standard creates an artificial supply and demand.
“The RFS is the federal government disrupting the marketplace by putting its heavy thumb on one side of the scale, tipping it in favor of one side over the other,” Goodlatte said. “In the debate over ethanol, the government is picking winners and losers.”
All total, 169 Democrats and Republicans from the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to the EPA requesting at least a reduction in Renewable Fuel Standard levels. The change is currently just a proposal, as opponents still have more than 30 days to respond.
National Review Online: Restore the Founders’ Patent System
By Bob Goodlatte & Mike Lee
Throughout American history, innovation has been central to our economy and our quality of life. American inventions, whether in medicine, travel, or communications, have benefited the world and played no small part in the advancement of our modern society.
Since the beginning of the industrial economy, the protection of intellectual property has been key to spurring this innovation. Inventors and researchers invest significant time and effort in their work at least in part because of the expectation that their labor will be rewarded.
The Founding Fathers knew well the value of intellectual property and its role in encouraging innovation. Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the Constitution provides for a national system of intellectual-property protection and charges Congress with running the system to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.”
As members of Congress sworn to support and defend the Constitution, we take that charge seriously. And so it is with real concern that we have viewed recent abuses of the patent system that turn the value of intellectual property on its head and threaten the system of American innovation.
With troubling and increasing frequency, bad actors leverage the complexity of our patent laws to extort illegitimate fees from unsuspecting businesses. Start-ups and small businesses that do not have large litigation budgets are hit particularly hard by this devious practice.
Of course, large companies and retailers are also negatively affected. Confronted with meritless litigation, these businesses must choose between doling out large payments to settle a frivolous case or paying significant lawyers’ fees to fight back. These unnecessary costs mean American consumers pay more for the products they buy.
No one disputes the value of intellectual property. But the recent abuses we have seen do not protect legitimate intellectual-property rights or the interests of inventors. Instead, they serve only to enrich opportunistic litigants or “patent trolls,” who have no interest in innovation or patents.
We have seen the terrible effects of patent trolls and how their fabricated claims of intellectual property can threaten hard-working American businesses. We have heard accounts of start-ups, small businesses, and companies in our home states of Virginia and Utah and across the United States that have been forced to shut down or reduce their businesses because of these abuses.
The success of the patent-troll model has only fueled more and more frivolous litigation. This cycle is an unnecessary strain on our nation’s innovators. Resources set aside for research and development are wasted on needless patent lawsuits and litigation expenses instead of the next life-improving or life-saving invention. Small businesses are closing up shop, innovators are afraid to chase their next idea, and businesses face ever-increasing costs for lawyers and unnecessary settlements.
We must put an end to abuse of the patent system and make the necessary changes to ensure that it serves its constitutional purpose: protecting innovators and their inventions.
For this reason, both houses of Congress are working hard to pass legislation that will reduce the harmful effects of patent trolls and restore the central role of innovation in our patent system.
In the House, the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Goodlatte, recently reported the Innovation Act, H.R. 3309. This legislation includes commonsense changes to make the patent-litigation process more transparent, as well as necessary reforms to ensure that patent owners provide necessary information in court pleadings, so that businesses can know the basis on which they are being sued. The bill also requires courts to determine the merits of a patent earlier in the case to avoid costly litigation on invalid patents, and requires those who file frivolous patent claims to pay the attorneys’ fees of the business or individual they have needlessly sued.
In the Senate, Senator Lee has joined with Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy to introduce legislation that would increase transparency in patent ownership, prevent the widespread sending of frivolous demand letters that threaten businesses with meritless lawsuits, and (like the House bill) protect customers from frivolous patent lawsuits that should properly be brought against the manufacturer instead. Other Republican members of the Judiciary Committee have likewise introduced important legislation to require litigants to provide necessary information in court pleadings, to reform the process by which courts conduct discovery in patent litigation, and to require patent trolls to pay lawyers’ fees.
These legislative proposals are targeted at practices within our patent system that inhibit innovation. For our system of intellectual property to function properly in the long run, we must enact reforms to stop abuse of that system and restore the value patents add to our economy.
— Representative Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) serves as ranking member on the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
News Virginian: Goodlatte to convene hearing on presidential responsibility
December 3, 2013
Sixth District Rep. Bob Goodlatte said a House Judiciary Committee hearing he is convening this morning is to provide the necessary checks and balances and congressional oversight on President Obama's exercise of executive power.
The congressman, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the hearing will examine whether the president is following his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws. Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, said he has seen repeated instances of executive orders and other exercises without congressional approval.
"The respect for the rule of law is the foundation of any free people,'' said Goodlatte, who said he hopes the executive branch will listen to the testimony offered today.
Goodlatte and two of the witnesses at today's hearing, each say the president has repeatedly violated his constitutional responsibilities.
In a press release announcing today's hearing, Goodlatte said the hearing would focus on Obamacare, including the employer mandate delay, the waiver for non-compliant health plans, and the contraceptive mandate that Goodlatte says violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Goodlatte said the hearing will also address the president's decision to ignore enforcing immigration and federal drug laws.
"President Obama has blatantly disregarded the Constitution's mandate to faithfully execute the laws,'' Goodaltte said in a statement. "He has changed key provisions in Obamacare without congressional approval, failed to enforce our immigration and drug laws, and ignored his constitutional duties for the sake of politics."
Goodlatte said he anticipates a "spirited debate'' among Judiciary Committee members and witnesses today about whether America's system of checks and balances is working. "The White House and president seem more and more dedicated to circumventing Congress,'' he said.
Several legal scholars will testify at today's hearing, including George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley.
Turley said he would testify that the president has "exceeded his authority in a variety of areas, including immigration and health care by circumventing Congress. The non enforcement of key provisions of these federal statutes is a direct challenge to the separation of powers underlying our constitutional system. While I may agree with many of his policies, I do not see the president's authority in taking such unilateral action. Indeed, it represents a dangerous assertion of presidential power in my view."
Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute, will offer a lengthy statement about Obama's failure to execute the Affordable Care Act properly. Cannon said the president has attempted to impose billions in taxes and spending in violation of the law. Cannon said in his statement that his objections are not partisan.
"The president's failure -- or any president's failure -- to honor his constitutional duty to execute the laws faithfully is not a partisan issue," Cannon said.
The White House Press Office was contacted for a response to the hearing, but did not provide one.
WSLS: Goodlatte doubtful over Iranian nuclear deal
November 25, 2013
A local congressman joins others on both sides of the political aisle, in questioning the Iran nuclear deal announced over the weekend.
The deal offers Iran some relief from economic sanctions and the ability to keep some of its nuclear program in exchange for not increasing its nuclear capabilities and allowing international inspections.
I spoke with Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte today who says he believes the deal is not in the best interest of the USA, saying the democrat-brokered deal doesn't provide for enough verification.
“I am very concerned about the fact that Iran, which has shown a determination to build nuclear weapons for a long time, needs two things -- money and time and they get both things with this deal. And we do not get a full verification process where we can go to any facility anywhere in Iran where we suspect there is nuclear enrichment bomb making activity taking place. And instead, what we wind up with is a situation where we have to trust them some anyway. I agree with the Prime Minister of Israel who called this a historic mistake,” said Goodlatte.
The agreement, which was reached Sunday night, is popular in Iran, but not in Israel, where the prime minister has been highly critical and says the deal does not go far enough to disarm Iran's military nuclear capability.
News Leader: Goodlatte: Entitlement reform needed for fiscal balance
By Calvin Trice
November 8, 2013
HARRISONBURG — Federal lawmakers will have to reform entitlement programs if the government is going to bring spending and deficits under control in the long run, U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte told members of a local chamber of commerce.
The across-the-board sequestration cuts that set in automatically this year have slowed the growth of the federal debt, but that effect will only be temporary, Goodlatte told the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
Sequester cuts only affect about 30 percent of the federal budget that funds discretionary items like defense, parks and education. The other 70 percent that includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disability payments and other programs that pay out to everyone who qualifies for benefits must be reformed to bring the budget under control, Goodlatte said.
“They’re growing at an average about four times the rate of inflation, and that is a serious problem,” he said.
A January tax increase and the spring sequestration leveled off the deficit growth, but because those changes don’t affect growing entitlement spending, overall deficit growth will resume within a couple of years, Goodlatte said.
Making the fiscal problem worse is the recent decline in the size of the nation’s workforce, meaning fewer workers contribute payroll taxes to support entitlement programs for older Americans.
“With so many people going onto those different programs, and the cost of those programs growing at four times the rate of inflation … fewer and fewer people working cannot sustain that,” Goodlatte said.
Washington’s budget challenges highlights the fact that federal health care reform has been passed at a time when the country can’t afford it, Goodlatte said. The technical problems people have encountered trying to sign up under the Affordable Care Act represent just the surface of what’s wrong with the legislation often referred to as Obamacare, he said.
“Those things are in my opinion serious problems, and they need to be addressed, but they only mask the underlying problem here which is that this is another program that we simply cannot afford given the fact that we’re doing nothing to reform the already-existing programs,” he said.
Lawmakers must reduce federal spending with entitlement reform, he said, then make a habit of balancing the budget, a cause for which Goodlatte has championed with a proposal to amend the Constitution.
Goodlatte spoke for about a half hour at the chamber gathering of about 40 people, then fielded questions for another 30 minutes for responses that covered budgeting and immigration reform, a topic at or near the top of the House Judiciary Committee that he chairs.
News Virginian: Goodlatte says entitlement reform a must
By Bob Stuart
November 8, 2013
HARRISONBURG -- Sixth District Rep. Bob Goodlatte said Thursday that the $17 trillion federal deficit and future federal spending won't be improved without across-the-board reform of entitlement programs.
Those 70 mandatory spending programs include Social Security, Medicare and others such as Medicaid and SNAP. "Those programs are growing four times the rate of inflation,'' the congressman told members of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce.
While federal sequestration and tax increases are helping cut the federal deficit in the short term, Goodlatte said the expected increases in entitlement spending are not sustainable over the next several years.
Goodlatte said next year alone, Medicare will cost $600 billion and serve 50 million Americans. And there is the newest entitlement program -- the federal Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. "This is another program we can't afford,'' Goodlatte said.
The recent problems with the health care program's website and the program's management by U.S. Health and Human Services "are serious problems. They (the problems) must be addressed,'' Goodlatte said.
The congressman said it is past due time for members of the U.S. Senate and House to come together and look at entitlement reform. He said the U.S. House budgets the past three years have included such reform.
"Each of the 70 programs should be reformed on their own merits,'' Goodlatte said. The reforms could include means testing for eligibility.
"I hope the Senate will put out their ideas for reforming,'' the congressman said. "If you don't like our ideas, put your ideas on the table and let's sit down and negotiate."
The expansion of the Medicaid program has been left to individual states. Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe wants to expand the program. He has said the expansion will create jobs, and it is estimated the expansion would reach another 400,000 Virginia residents. But Goodlatte said the federal government lacks the money to cover a larger Medicaid program.
"We don't have the money. The money won't be there to pay for it,'' he said.
And while Tuesday's statewide elections did not go well for Republicans, Goodlatte said it is important for the Republican Party to continue to stick to the philosophy of limited government and individual responsibility, and to encourage private sector development.
The Hill: House Judiciary chairman calls for 'further protections' from NSA
By Brendan Sasso
September 18, 2013
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said on Wednesday that he plans to push legislation to rein in the National Security Agency.
In a statement following a classified briefing with senior intelligence officials, Goodlatte said he is "convinced that further protections are necessary."
"I am committed to working with members of the House Judiciary Committee, House leaders, and other members of Congress to ensure our nation’s intelligence collection programs include robust oversight, additional transparency, and protections for Americans’ civil liberties while maintaining a workable legal framework for national security officials to keep our country safe from foreign enemies," Goodlatte said.
The classified committee hearing included testimony from James Cole, the deputy attorney general; Robert Litt, the general counsel for the Director of National Intelligence; John Inglis, the deputy director of the National Security Agency; and Andrew McCabe, the FBI's assistant director of counter terrorism.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has introduced legislation that would end the agency's bulk collection of records on all U.S. phone calls.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the original author of the Patriot Act, is also working on legislation to limit the phone data collection and increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
News Virginian: Goodlatte hears about challenges for small business
By Bob Stuart
September 4, 2013
Chris Runion is president of Eddie Edwards Signs, a Harrisonburg commercial sign company that does business in the Shenandoah Valley and five states.
His company has grown to 29 employees, and he has invested in expensive digital printing equipment to improve the manufacturing he needs to compete against other sign companies.
But on Wednesday, Runion and other Shenandoah Valley businessmen were focused on talking to 6th District Rep. Bob Goodlatte about some of the challenges making it complicated for their companies to turn a profit.
Runion said the new federal health care law has increased his employees' insurance premiums 14 to 20 percent. Others in attendance at Eddie Edwards Signs on Wednesday spoke of how the federal government tries to compete with private industry and has an unfair advantage.
Goodlatte agreed. He recalled how the federal government had considered a free language software program similar to that of the Shenandoah Valley's Rosetta Stone. And he said the Internal Revenue Service is now looking at a software program that would allow taxpayers to do their taxes instead of consulting with a business.
"It's a waste of taxpayer money and offers an unfair advantage,'' Goodlatte said of the now dormant effort of the government to offer a language program.
As for the federal health care law, Goodlatte said efforts continue in the U.S. House to defund the program. "I'm not averse to getting rid of this horrible law,'' he said.
The congressman spoke of less government and less regulation. His message resonated with Runion. "Government needs to get out of the way and give us an opportunity,'' Runion said.
Goodlatte told the businessmen to consider certain steps in their battle against the government. He said lawsuits can curb the power of government. He also urged the businessmen to back political candidates who understand how small business operates. "Small business is where the jobs are created,'' Goodlatte said.
And while repealing a law is difficult, Goodlatte said it is important for Congress to pass laws that better structure the way laws are written.
He spoke of the cumbersome nature of the federal health care law. The law creates 158 agencies and programs and 20,000 pages of regulation.
Prior to his roundtable discussion with the small businessmen, Goodlatte took a National Federation of Independent Business challenge at Eddie Edwards Signs. He toured the company and helped make a sign.
Runion said business is strong for his company now.
But he fears that the increasing cost of health care will limit the future options for his business. "I want the chance to make my customers satisfied,'' he said. He said accomplishing that goal becomes harder if he lacks the future dollars to invest in equipment and employee training.
WHSV:Goodlatte Discusses Possible Actions Against Syria
September 4, 2013
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- In a 10-7 vote Wednesday, a Senate resolution would permit President Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground.
A lot of passionate protests nationally have people both for and against action in Syria.
Meanwhile, Syrian refugees pile into camps to escape the violence.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte was at an event put on by the National Federation of Independent Business to talk about his plans for the embattled country.
He took a tour of Eddie Edwards Signs, a small business here in the valley.
Goodlatte also participated in a discussion about their concerns.
One of his concerns next week will be his stance on a possible military strike on Syria.
He has some skepticism and lots of questions.
"Congress, and I in particularly, and many other members of Congress have lots of questions that are not answered about will be the ramifications of this. How will this work out? How will we extract ourselves? Will we be able to stop them from using chemical weapons in the future by a limited action that we might take?" said Goodlatte.
Goodlatte said although he's skeptical about a military strike, he will not make a decision for or against it until he hears from all sides, including President Obama next week.
He said so far many of his constituents are against a military strike in Syria.
WDBJ7: Google's self-driving car rolls on the Smart Road
By Joe Dashiell
September 3, 2013
BLACKSBURG, Va. - There were no hands on the wheel and two congressmen in the back seat, when Google's self-driving car hit the Smart Road Tuesday afternoon.
More from WDBJ7.com
The Google car made a couple of passes for the cameras, but it has been in Blacksburg for weeks, taking part in a study at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Researchers are assessing how people interact with the systems used in automated cars, and the congressmen stopped by for a closer look.
"When people see this car with the spinning top on the road, and they'll see it more and more," said 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte, "they'll know that great technology is being developed for their future safety."
9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith agreed. "I just think it's great to see technology here in southwest Virginia showing the world that we are a player when it comes to major new innovations in technology," he said.
With GPS and other sensors spinning on the roof, Google's self-driving cars have now traveled over 500-thousand miles during testing.
The Hill: Judiciary chairman slams new ICE policy on parental rights
By Russell Berman
August 24, 2013
The Obama administration on Friday announced a policy directive aimed at reducing the disruption to families during the deportation process, drawing praise from advocates for children and criticism from a senior House Republican.
The directive from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency would make it easier for parents to visit a child in a detention center and to participate in person or via video conference in deportation hearings. It would also give enforcement agents more leeway to take family considerations into account when making deportation decisions, and it would allow, in some cases, for a deported parent to return to the U.S. to attend a hearing for a child.
“ICE personnel should ensure that the agency’s immigration enforcement activities do not unnecessarily disrupt the parental rights of both alien parents or legal guardians of minor children,” the directive stated.
The move comes as the administration is pressuring the Republican-led House to take up comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The legislation that passed the Senate includes an expanded version of family reunification provisions, but House GOP leaders have vowed not to bring it for a vote.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the ICE directive, saying it “poisons the debate surrounding immigration reform and shows that the administration is not serious about fixing our broken immigration system.”
“President Obama has once again abused his authority and unilaterally refused to enforce our current immigration laws by directing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to stop removing broad categories of unlawful immigrants,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “The primary reason why our immigration system is broken today is because our immigration laws have largely been ignored by past and present administrations. It’s imperative that we prevent this from happening again by taking away the enforcement ‘on/off’ switch from the president.”
The Judiciary Committee in June approved the Safe Act, which seeks to limit the authority of the administration to ignore enforcement of immigration laws and gives states and localities more power to enforce the laws on their own.
The decision from ICE drew praise from the First Focus Campaign for Children, an advocacy group.
“The Family Interest Directive is a major victory for children, reducing the likelihood that immigration enforcement will tear families apart and reducing the harm to kids when separation is unavoidable,” said Bruce Lesley, the organization’s president. “But only Congress can give these critical reforms the force and permanence of law and deliver the other protections children need.”
Daily Caller: Goodlatte slams Obama administration’s asylum loophole, presses DHS for answers
By Caroline May
August 22, 2013
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte is pointing the finger of blame for the recent surge in asylum seekers at the Obama administration.
Since FY 2009, “credible fear” asylum requests, largely from Mexico, have quadrupled from 5,369 to 19,119 through May of FY 2013 — and if current trends persist, 28,679 total requests for FY 2013, or a 434 percent increase over five years, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
According to the Virginia Republican, the increase in “credible fear” requests correlate with the Obama administrations’ policy, instituted in 2010, of prematurely releasing asylum seekers — a policy Goodlatte explained runs contrary to immigration law.
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“According to the most recent data available, DHS is permitting 92% of these claimants to move forward to further proceedings, despite the fact that press reports indicate that up to 91% of these claimants from Mexico are ultimately denied,” Goodlatte wrote Wednesday in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“In addition, most are likely being released into the U.S. pending further proceedings before Immigration Judges as opposed to being detained as required by law,” he added. “I am concerned that credible fear claims are being exploited by illegal immigrants in order to enter and remain in the United States.”
Goodlatte noted that according to recent press reports many of the asylum claims are fake and the result of coaching.
“The aliens allegedly claim that they have a credible fear of return to Mexico based on drug cartel and gang violence. According to critics, asylum claims from Mexico are highly unusual and often are an orchestrated sham,” He wrote.
ABC News 10 reported earlier this month that there is a $300 video available for purchase in Mexico as well as instructional classes that teach immigrants what to say, using “key words and phrases,” to be allowed entry to the United States.
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“Not only is the rise in credible fear claims concerning, but I am concerned with the inability of the Administration to follow the current law that pertains to the asylum process. Pursuant to §235(b)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), arriving aliens are subject to mandatory detention whether they are found to have credible fear or not,” Goodlatte wrote, noting that on December 9, 2010 former ICE Director John Morton issued a policy directive allowing arriving aliens that have “been found to have a credible fear and can establish identity, that they are not a flight risk, or a danger to the community” to be released.
“And not surprisingly, the timing of this memo appears to correlate with the uptick of credible fear claims in recent years. Additionally, while ICE is not detaining these aliens, Fiscal Year 2012 Executive Office of Immigration Review statistics demonstrate that 29% of released aliens failed to appear for their immigration court proceedings,” he continued.
Goodlatte concluded his letter said that his committee will be conducting oversight on the matter in as it proceeds with the House’s step-by-step approach to comprehensive immigration reform and requested a briefing on the matter with the Department of Homeland Security.
Illegal immigrants claiming asylum have overwhelmed processing centers on the Southern border. Harried ICE agents bought $99-a-night hotel rooms earlier in August for the immigrants before releasing them into major cities.
The Hill: Dairy supply management bad for consumers
By Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and David Scott (D-Ga.)
June 18, 2013
Plain and simple — the farm bill should not be used as an avenue to increase dairy prices and distort the dairy market. As the House prepares to consider the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act — also known as the farm bill — a new dairy supply management program included in the legislation threatens to push dairy prices higher.
The farm bill being brought to the House floor contains a program called the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP) that will manipulate and control the supply of milk produced and sold in the United States. This will result in a spike in milk prices and the cost of dairy products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream. As dairy prices are artificially inflated, consumers will be faced with the dilemma of either taking the hit of these high prices or simply avoiding the dairy aisle in the grocery store altogether.
The Consumers Union, Consumers Federation of America, Consumer Action and National Consumers League all oppose the dairy supply management program in the farm bill because it would “increase milk and dairy product prices for consumers.” Increased dairy prices mean that families will be forced to stretch their food budgets further.
In essence, the dairy program passes the bulk of its costs down to the consumer, harming the public economically as well as nutritionally. The federal government purchases 20 percent of domestic milk production for use in anti-hunger programs. If the price of milk goes up due to effects of the program, so will the cost of our nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the National School Lunch Program. Professor Scott Brown with the University of Missouri recently released a report that showed that under Dairy Market Stabilization Program, monthly milk price spikes could raise school milk costs by more than $13 million for just one month! Our local school districts, families on budgets and taxpayers cannot afford to absorb these increased costs.
It is clear that supply management is bad for consumers.
During the farm bill debate, we will offer an amendment to provide dairy farmers with a viable safety net that does not prop up the price of milk. This amendment strikes the DMSP that limits supply, controls industry growth and meddles in the free market. The reforms in the Goodlatte-Scott amendment will give farmers the necessary tools to manage their risk without requiring them to participate in yet another government program. Our amendment will protect dairy farmers, but also lower costs for families and businesses, as well as keeping nutritional programs viable for those in need.
While the farm bill addresses reforms for numerous facets of our agriculture policy, it fails to adequately reform our country’s dairy program. We can help dairy farmers by providing risk management tools, such as the Dairy Producer Margin Protection Plan included in the Goodlatte-Scott amendment, which would provide help in tough times without negative dairy market consequences.
As we mark National Dairy Month in June, there is no time like the present to reject the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and embrace dairy policies that will keep dairy products affordable for the American people. The Goodlatte-Scott amendment to the farm bill will help dairy producers without forcing the consumer to pick up the bill.
Goodlatte and Scott are members of the House Committee on Agriculture.
Washington Times: GOODLATTE: No command and control for the cows
By Rep. Bob Goodlatte
June 18, 2013
The House is expected to consider this week the reauthorization of the farm bill, a multiyear plan for the future of American farming. While much of the media coverage of the debate in the Senate centered on nutrition programs, an important battle is brewing in the House regarding dairy policy.
As the House Agriculture Committee debated dairy policy, Chairman Frank D. Lucas, Oklahoma Republican, worked with the entire dairy community to eliminate ineffective dairy programs and consolidate them into a margin insurance program that provides an important support backstop for American dairy farmers.
This approach reduces federal bureaucracy by eliminating four current programs — the Dairy Product Price Support Program, the Milk Income Loss Contract Program, the Dairy Export Incentive Program, and the Federal Milk Marketing Order Review Commission — and moves the dairy program to a margin insurance program. These are good reforms and should be embraced as a concrete step toward modernizing the dairy safety net.
Where the true dairy debate begins, however, is over another provision in the farm bill — the Dairy Market Stabilization Program. It is a supply-management program that will directly intervene in markets and increase milk prices, ultimately costing Americans more money at the grocery store and forcing businesses to raise their prices. This program thrusts government directly into private commercial transactions, and will unnecessarily increase prices that families pay for products such as milk, yogurt and cheese. Simply put, the program is designed to keep milk at artificially high prices, unfairly hurting consumers and driving up the cost to run a business.
During floor consideration, I will offer an amendment with my Democratic colleague from Georgia, Rep. David Scott, to eliminate the Dairy Market Stabilization Program. Like the base text of the farm bill, the Goodlatte-Scott amendment will eliminate four current dairy programs and move dairy farmers into a margin insurance program, but does so without implementing the new federal supply-management program.
For members just now focusing on the upcoming dairy debate as a part of the farm bill reauthorization, I would note that there is one basic choice to be made on dairy policy. The question on the table will be: Do you support the creation of a new federal supply-management program that will control milk production for American farmers and raise the prices of dairy products, or not? Both the farm bill and the Goodlatte-Scott amendment make much-needed base reforms to existing dairy policy and move toward a margin insurance program. The only real difference between the two is whether or not you support market intervention.
Furthermore, the Congressional Budget Office has determined that implementing the program will cost more than moving forward with the Goodlatte-Scott amendment. With all of the great reforms made in the farm bill, why would the House support the creation of a new bureaucratic program to control the production of American dairy farmers, and at a greater cost than the alternative?
Let’s move away from 1930s-style command-and-control supply-management programs and toward a system that encourages the production of American dairy products for domestic and international distribution. I encourage my colleagues to support the Goodlatte-Scott amendment to the farm bill to eliminate the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and support dairy farmers and consumers.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, is a former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and currently chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Fox News: House Republicans challenge Holder testimony on reporter surveillance
May 29, 2013
Top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee openly challenged Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday over his testimony two weeks ago in which he claimed to be unaware of any "potential prosecution" of the press, despite knowing about an investigation that targeted a Fox News reporter.
Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., R-Wis., voiced "great concern" in a letter to Holder. They asked a litany of questions about the department's dealings with the press, and pointedly alleged that the Fox News case "contradicts" his testimony at a May 15 hearing.
"It is imperative that the committee, the Congress, and the American people be provided a full and accurate account of your involvement," they wrote.
The letter comes a day after the committee confirmed it was looking into Holder's testimony. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15, Holder insisted that "the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material" is not something he was involved in or knew about.
But days later, it emerged that the Justice Department obtained access to the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen -- after filing an affidavit that accused him of being a likely criminal "co-conspirator" in the leak of sensitive material regarding North Korea. Rosen was never charged, and never prosecuted. But he was effectively accused of violating the federal Espionage Act.
"The media reports and statements issued by the Department regarding the search warrants for Mr. Rosen's emails appear to be at odds with your sworn testimony before the Committee," Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner wrote in the letter Wednesday. They did not accuse Holder of committing perjury, but noted he was "under oath."
Among other questions, they asked Holder how he could claim to have never heard of the potential prosecution of the press. And they asked him to clarify whether he "personally approved" the search warrant request. Sensenbrenner, in an interview on Fox News, threatened to subpoena Holder to come before the committee if necessary.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, though, said on Wednesday that it appears Holder testified truthfully. He said President Obama "absolutely" has confidence in him.
The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, said he thinks Holder "was forthright and did not mislead the Committee."
"Certainly, there are policy disagreements as to how the First Amendment should apply to these series of leak investigations being conducted by the Justice Department, and that is and should be an area for the committee to consider. However, there is no need to turn a policy disagreement into allegations of misconduct," he said.
Holder could argue that, in fact, Rosen was never prosecuted -- and so his testimony was not misleading.
A federal law enforcement official said last week that the department had to establish probable cause in the affidavit in order to obtain the search warrant, per the terms of the Privacy Protection Act.
"Saying that there is probable cause to believe that someone has committed a crime and actually charging the person with that crime are two very different things," the official said.
Meanwhile, one of the country's most prominent liberal legal scholars called Wednesday for Holder to be "fired," joining the growing list of left-leaning pundits slamming his department's pursuit of journalists' phone and email records.
Jonathan Turley, an attorney and law professor at George Washington University, hammered Holder in a USA Today column Wednesday. He charged that Holder has "supervised a comprehensive erosion of privacy rights, press freedom and due process," aided by Democrats who looked the other way.
But in the wake of the reporter records scandal, Democrats are starting to join with Republicans in questioning whether Holder continues to be the right man to lead the Department of Justice in President Obama's second term.