Jeff Fortenberry

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Jeff Fortenberry
Jeff Fortenberry Official.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nebraska's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded by Doug Bereuter
Personal details
Born (1960-12-27) December 27, 1960 (age 58)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Celeste Gregory Fortenberry
Residence Lincoln, Nebraska
Alma mater Louisiana State University, Georgetown University, Franciscan University
Occupation politician, economist
Religion Roman Catholic

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 early career

He graduated from Catholic High in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He holds a master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University, a master's degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a bachelor's degree in economics from Louisiana State University.

He has previously worked as an economist, in local economic development, and as a publishing executive for Sandhills Publishing. He was also a policy analyst for the Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations.[1]

Lincoln City Council (1997–2001)

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.[2]

Fortenberry cites his work on the 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.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives (2005–present)



Incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman Doug Bereuter of Nebraska's 1st congressional district decided to retire. Fortenberry decided to run and won the 7-candidate Republican primary with 39% of the vote. He defeated Curt Bromm (33%), the Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, and Club for Growth-endorsed businessman Greg Ruehle (21%).[16][4] In the general election, he defeated State Senator Matt Connealy 54%–43%. He won all but two counties: Thurston and Burt.[5][6]


Fortenberry won re-election to a second term, defeating former Lieutenant Governor Maxine Moul, 58%–42%, winning all but Burt County.[7][8]


He won re-election to a third term, defeating Marine veteran Max Yashirin 70–30%.[9]


He was challenged in the Republican primary for the first time since 2004. He drew two opponents and won with 84% of the vote.[10] He won re-election to a fourth term, defeating legislative staffer Ivy Harper, 71%–29%.[11]


He drew two opponents in the Republican primary again, but won with 86% of the vote.[12]


He won re-election to a sixth term, defeating attorney and Democrat Dennis Crawford.[13]



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.[14] 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.

Agriculture, energy, and environment

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" [15] 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.[16] In March of 2015, Fortenberry voted in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline.[17]


Fortenberry supports patient-centered health care reform that lowers costs, improves outcomes, and protects vulnerable persons.[18] 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's Health Insurance Program or using SCHIP funds to help pay for a family insurance plan, saving both family and taxpayer dollars.[19] 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.".[20]

Foreign affairs

Fortenberry claims to be "uncommonly well-informed on international issues,",[21] and has prioritized foreign affairs work on the Middle East and Africa while in Congress.

Nuclear security

Fortenberry co-founded and co-chairs the Congressional Nuclear Security Caucus with U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff. He has been endorsed by Mitt Romney's Free and Strong America PAC.[22]


Fortenberry received a 100% pro-life score from the National Right to Life Committee.[23] He speaks annually at the March for Life.


Fortenberry's office received an envelope full of glitter on March 4, 2015 from a group protesting the Congressman's pro-life stance. Fortenberry's spokesperson deplored the prank as an irresponsible waste of people's time and not the proper way to show political disagreement, and Fortenberry's office reported the mailing to the police, the FBI, and the US postal inspector.[24]

Committee assignments

Fortenberry was listed by Foreign Policy magazine in 2010 as a "new Republican powerbroker" on nuclear security issues.[26] He is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership.

Caucus memberships

  • Civil War Battlefield Caucus
  • Congressional Biofuels Caucus
  • Congressional Farmer Cooperative Caucus
  • House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus
  • International Conservation Caucus
  • Sportsmen's Caucus

Personal life

Fortenberry is married to the former Celeste Gregory, and they have five children. He is a devout Catholic.


External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Doug Bereuter (R)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nebraska's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Charlie Dent
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Virginia Foxx
R-North Carolina