Jeffrey Lane "Jeff" Fortenberry, born December 27, 1960) is the U.S. Representative for Nebraska's 1st congressional district, serving since 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district is based in Lincoln and includes most of the eastern third of the state outside the immediate Omaha area.
Early life, education and career
Fortenberry was a U.S. Senate Subcommittee staffer working on a special project examining the decline of agriculture land values in the 1980s and its impact on local government revenues. He has previously worked as an economist, in local economic development, and as a publishing executive for Sandhills Publishing.
He holds a master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University, a masters degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, and a bachelors degree in economics from Louisiana State University. He graduated from Catholic High in Baton Rouge.
Early political career
Fortenberry was an at-large member of the Lincoln City Council from 1997 to 2001. His main commitments in this role were community revitalization and increasing public safety, but doing both without raising taxation. Among the economic development and community revitalization projects he worked on were the transition of a major public hospital and building a new baseball stadium.
Fortenberry cites his work on City Council, maintaining a balanced budget while making "hard decisions about the numbers of firefighters and police officers, funding for parks and recreation, adequate city services, and reasonable taxes and fees to pay for city priorities," as an example of fiscal responsibility that citizens should demand from the federal government as well.
Fortenberry believes that "a strong ag economy, small business diversification, and Nebraskans’ practical sense regarding responsible lending, finance, and governance” have influenced Nebraska's economic success, and has called for leaders in Washington to look to the Heartland as a model of economic revitalization. He voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, otherwise known as the bailout bill, decrying the "too big to fail" paradigm and unsustainable taxpayer exposure.
Fortenberry introduced the Renewable Fuels for America’s Future Act of 2010, "a smart and thoughtful way to reduce subsidies for the production of ethanol" that would result in taxpayer savings of $5.67 billion, according to economists Ernie Goss of Creighton University and Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University.
Fortenberry supports patient-centered health care reform that lowers costs, improves outcomes, and protects vulnerable persons.
He introduced H.R. 321, the SCHIP Plus Act of 2009 to offer eligible families the choice of retaining coverage for their children in the State Children' Health Insurance Program or using SCHIP funds to help pay for a family insurance plan, saving both family and taxpayer dollars. Fortenberry voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill that was signed into law on March 23, 2010, noting "This health-care debate is no longer about real health-care reform; it’s about power. Thoughtful health-care reform could have been achieved with 80-percent support: Health-care reform that drove down costs, improved health-care outcomes, and protected vulnerable persons."
Fortenberry "is uncommonly well-informed on international issues", and has prioritized foreign affairs work on the Middle East and Africa while in Congress.
Fortenberry co-founded and co-chairs the Congressional Nuclear Security Caucus with Congressman Adam Schiff. He has been endorsed by Mitt Romney's Free and Strong America PAC.
Fortenberry received a 100% pro-life score from the National Right to Life Committee.
He is pro-life, believes women deserve better than abortion, and has spoken annually at the March for Life.
Fortenberry was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2004, succeeding Doug Bereuter. He was re-elected to additional terms in 2006 and 2008.
Fortenberry ran in 2004 for the seat being vacated by Bereuter. He won the Republican primary in a field of seven candidates with 39% of the vote. His most prominent opponent in the primary was Curt Bromm, the speaker of the Nebraska Legislature. He defeated State Senator Matt Connealy in the general election by 11 percentage points.
In the 2006 congressional election, Fortenberry was challenged by former Democratic Lieutenant Governor Maxine Moul.
Fortenberry defeated Moul by 18 percentage points.
Fortenberry is married to the former Celeste Gregory, and they have five children. He is a devout Catholic and is strongly pro-life.
December 11th, 2011