Robert William "Bob" Goodlatte (born September 22, 1952) is the U.S. Representative for Virginia's 6th congressional district, serving since 1993. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district is based in Roanoke and also includes Lynchburg, Harrisonburg and Staunton.
Early life, education, and early career
Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, Goodlatte received a B.A. in political science from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1974. He also holds a Juris Doctor from Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, which he earned in 1977.
Goodlatte was an attorney in private practice in his early professional career before becoming a staff aide for 6th District U.S. Congressman M. Caldwell Butler from 1977 to 1979.
U.S. House of Representatives
After Butler's successor, Democrat Jim Olin, opted not to run for reelection in 1992, Goodlatte won the Republican nomination. In the November general election, he defeated Democrat Stephen Musselwhite, who had defeated Olin's preferred choice at the district Democratic convention, with 60 percent of the vote.
He has been reelected eight times without serious difficulty, and even ran unopposed in 1994 and from 2000 to 2004. He has only faced substantive opposition once, when Roanoke mayor David Bowers challenged him. However, Goodlatte turned back this challenge fairly easily, winning 69 percent of the vote.
Before his appointment as Ranking Republican of the House Agriculture Committee at the start of the 110th Congress, Goodlatte served as Chairman of the full Committee. He was elected to serve as Chairman of the full House Agriculture Committee in January 2003 at the start of the 108th Congress. He served as Chairman of the Committee throughout the 108th and 109th Congresses, convening 132 Full and Subcommittee hearings and guiding 38 bills under the Committee’s jurisdiction to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
He has served on the House Agriculture Committee since first being elected to Congress in November 1992. Before becoming Chairman of the full Committee, Goodlatte served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Department, Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. An active subcommittee chairman, he held fourteen hearings in the 107th Congress alone. The hearings covered a wide range of issues including implementation of the national fire plan, domestic nutrition programs, invasive species, and civil rights programs at the USDA. He served as a conferee on the 2002 Farm Bill. He took a leadership role on issues such as welfare reform and forestry policy, working with his colleagues on the Agriculture and Resources Committees to introduce George W. Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative.
- Federal budget
One of Representative Goodlatte's top legislative initiatives was his Constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget so that Congress would be forced to control spending. However, conservative Republican Representatives Paul Ryan, Justin Amash, David Dreier and Louie Gohmert voted against the amendment because it failed to control government spending and raised taxes on Americans. Representative Ryan released a statement after the vote: "I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes. Spending is the problem, yet this version of the Balanced Budget Amendment makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished.
Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this Amendment.”
Goodlatte is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online gambling. In 2006, he sponsored H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. In September 2006, working with now defeated Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, Goodlatte was a major House supporter of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The Act was passed at midnight the day Congress adjourned before the 2006 elections. Prior to it being added to the bill, the gambling provisions had not been debated by any Congressional committee. The bill was made sure to exclude online horse racing gambling. They claimed moral reasons for pushing for a ban on Internet gambling, but critics charge that it was due to campaign contributions from the horse racing industry.
Goodlatte sat on the 105th United States Congress and introduced NET Act on July 25, 1997, which removed the requirement of financial gain for criminal prosecution of copyright infringement. NET Act was passed only after the House suspended the rules.
Goodlatte is one of the original sponsors and creators of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), H.R. 3261. The bill establishes a system for shutting down websites that the Justice Department determines to be dedicated to copyright infringment. The DoJ or the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action against any site they deem to have "only limited purpose or use other than infringement," and the DoJ would be authorized to demand that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services block access to the targeted site. SOPA's critics charge that the bill has a serious impact on innocent website owners and operators who have violated no laws; authorizes the Attorney General to prevent search engines and Internet Services Providers from delivering websites to customers; undermines the current Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which already provides copyright holders with immediate recourse when they discover online infringement; violates the first amendment; establishes Internet firewalls; hurts the tech industry's ability to create and sustain jobs; changes the architecture of the Internet and hinders online users from sharing information. Conservatives criticize the bill for increasing government regulation and intervention in free markets.
Goodlatte is the Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Internet Caucus, Chairman of the House Republican High-Technology Working Group, and Co-Chairman of the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus. He has been named a cyber champion by the Business Software Alliance, ranked as one of the top high-tech lawmakers in the House of Representatives, and has a 100% lifetime rating on the Information Technology Industry Council’s Congressional High-Tech scorecard. He has also been named the most Internet-friendly Member of the House of Representatives by Yahoo! Internet Life and has been named Legislator of the Year by the Information Technology Industry Council.
Goodlatte has been a leader in Congress on a number of Internet and high-tech issues including encryption, piracy prevention, anti-counterfeiting, online service provider copyright liability, high speed data access, privacy, digital signatures, Internet tax moratorium, copyright term extension, H-1B visas, patent reform, cyber-squatting, Y2K litigation, class action reform, spam and spyware prevention and providing local television networks to rural areas on satellite systems.
- Presidential proof of citizenship
On May 5, 2009, Goodlatte signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1503, a bill to require future presidential candidates to provide proof of citizenship by submitting copies of their birth certificate. The bill has been described as a response to the theories which claim that U.S. President Barack Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen.
February 27, 2012