Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, the bipartisan senators from Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee sent a letter to Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), pressing for additional assistance to combat drug-trafficking in the Appalachian region.

“In Appalachia, law enforcement struggles to stem the tide of substance abuse,” wrote U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty (both R-TN). “In the words of then-Attorney General, William Barr, Appalachia has suffered the consequences of the opioid epidemic ‘more, perhaps, than any other region.’ In 2018, the overdose mortality rate for individuals ages 25-43 was 43 percent higher in Appalachia than the rest of the country. It is a region that needs the assistance that the HIDTA program was designed to provide.”

Since its creation in 1988, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) grant assistance program has provided for greater coordination and information sharing among federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies. These additional federal resources, allocated to areas deemed as critical drug trafficking regions, are essential in eliminating drug trafficking and its harmful consequences. ONDCP has the statutory authority to create new HIDTAs and add new counties to existing HIDTAs once it has received a formal petition from a coalition of law enforcement agencies.

Despite the enormous need, historically the Appalachian HIDTA has only gained approval for approximately 30 percent of petitions submitted. In the most recent round of designations, no counties within the Appalachian HIDTA – which encompasses Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Southwest Virginia – received the sought-after designation.

“This fact, juxtaposed with the region’s manifest need, suggests strongly that the process of awarding needs to be revisited,” the senators wrote in their letter to ONDCP. “Counties in the Appalachian HIDTA would benefit from the expansion of this program into their communities and it would be of immense help to the law enforcement agencies serving them and surrounding areas. As ONDCP reviews HIDTA designation petitions from Appalachia, we ask that you consider the devastating impacts of illegal drugs in the region in order to effectively disrupt and dismantle trafficking organizations and reduce drug-related crime.”

Concluded the senators, “We urge ONDCP to review its criteria to ensure that hard-hit regions like Appalachia remain competitive for HIDTA designations. We further request a written response describing the results of this review be provided in a timely manner.”

A copy of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Dr. Gupta:

We write today regarding the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program and certain deficiencies in the designation process for counties in the Appalachian region.

Since its creation in 1988, the HIDTA grant assistance program has provided for greater coordination and information sharing among federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies. These additional federal resources, allocated to areas deemed as critical drug trafficking regions, are essential in eliminating drug trafficking and its harmful consequences.

As you know, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) provides ONDCP the statutory authority to create new HIDTAs and add new counties to existing HIDTAs once it has received a formal petition from a coalition of law enforcement agencies. HIDTA designation is determined by four criteria, which include an evidence based description detailing the extent of illegal drug activity, the impact on the area and the United States, existing efforts to curtail it, and the increased need for federal resources to respond adequately to the area’s drug-related activities.

In Appalachia, law enforcement struggles to stem the tide of substance abuse. In the words of then-Attorney General William Barr, Appalachia has suffered the consequences of the opioid epidemic “more, perhaps, than any other region.” In 2018, the overdose mortality rate for individuals ages 25-43 was 43% higher in Appalachia than the rest of the country.  It is a region that needs the assistance that the HIDTA program was designed to provide.

Yet, historically, the Appalachian HIDTA has only gained approval for approximately 30% of petitions submitted. And in this most recent round of designations, no counties within the Appalachian HIDTA received the sought after designation. This fact, juxtaposed with the region’s manifest need, suggests strongly that the process of awarding the designation needs to be revisited.

Counties in the Appalachian HIDTA would benefit from the expansion of this program into their communities and it would be of immense help to the law enforcement agencies serving them and surrounding areas. As ONDCP reviews HIDTA designation petitions from Appalachia, we ask that you consider the devastating impacts of illegal drugs in the region in order to effectively disrupt and dismantle trafficking organizations and reduce drug-related crime.

We urge ONDCP to review its criteria to ensure that hard hit regions like Appalachia remain competitive for HIDTA designations. We further request that a written response describing the results of this review be provided in a timely manner.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (all D-VA)  and Reps. Jennifer Wexton, Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly issued the following statement on the release of U.S. citizen and Virginia resident Asim Ghafoor from detention in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he had been since July 14, 2022.

“Thanks to the courageous work of many, Asim Ghafoor is now home with his family. Since he was arrested on July 14, we have been outspoken advocates for Asim’s fair treatment and due process during his imprisonment and worked closely with his loved ones to raise awareness of his ordeal. Asim has clearly touched the lives of many, and we are relieved that he is free and back in Northern Virginia with his family.”

Asim Ghafoor is a board member for the nonprofit organization Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) which advocates for democratic reforms in the Middle East and a beloved and active member of the local Muslim community in the Northern Virginia region. He also represented Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered by Saudi officials in 2018. Asim Ghafoor was detained by UAE authorities on July 14 while transiting Dubai International Airport. He was convicted in absentia and sentenced to three years in prison without being provided any notification regarding his charges. His prison sentence was overturned by an Emirati court earlier this week, permitting him to return home to his family.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,124,300 in emergency rural health care funding to bolster federal support in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be provided to the Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, Tazewell Community Hospital in Tazewell, and Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap. This funding was awarded through the Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“As Virginia communities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we provide resources to help protect Virginians,” said the senators. “That’s why we are pleased to see these grants go towards COVID vaccination and testing, telehealth and food assistance services, ventilation systems, and financial aid.”

The funding will be awarded as below:

•             $36,800 for Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, VA to provide COVID-19 testing kits, rapid testing supplies, and vaccinations, as well as additional staffing to meet the needs of the rural counties served. This investment will benefit approximately 27,350 residents.

•             $1,000,000 for Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, VA to purchase telehealth, remote monitoring systems, COVID testing, mobile clinic and food assistance. In addition, the funds will be used to train current nursing staff. This project aims to connect rural patients to Valley Health telehealth services and Page County internet infrastructure. This project will benefit approximately 24,042 residents. 

•             $335,000 for Carilion Clinic (Tazewell Community Hospital) in Tazewell, VA to upgrade the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The HVAC system will follow the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 operational protocols for health care and will service the lab and patient care areas, as the current HVAC system is old and unreliable. This investment will benefit approximately 45,078 residents.

•             $752,500 for Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap, VA to replace lost health care revenue and help with financial difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will benefit approximately 70,997 residents.

The USDA’s Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program is designed to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, rural health care services, and food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for rural communities and health care access in the Commonwealth. Last year, both Sens. helped pass the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief bill that provided $20 billion to improve vaccine distribution, $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to procure essential medical equipment, and $50 billion for virus testing, genomic sequencing to detect new variants, contract tracing, and additional PPE. Additionally, Sen. Warner introduced legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Kaine, to expand telehealth services through Medicare, connecting patients to doctors and cutting costs for patients and providers. Sen. Kaine also introduced legislation to expand health care to rural areas through telehealth as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019. The bill passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens.  Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine highlighted some of the ways in which the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit Virginians. 

“Virginians have a lot to benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act. This historic legislation will help lower Virginians’ prescription drug and energy costs, help them access health care, and tackle climate change, which has had a devastating toll on communities all across the Commonwealth,” said the senators. “We were proud to vote for this bill and urge the House of Representatives to pass it and get it to President Biden’s desk ASAP.”

Lower Prescription Drug Costs:

  • The bill allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities—a provision Warner and Kaine have long fought to pass to lower prescription drug costs.
  • The bill establishes a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for seniors covered under Medicare Part D. In 2020, more than 36,000 Virginians with Medicare Part D spent more than $2,000 out-of-pocket on their prescription drugs.
  • The bill expands the Low-Income Subsidy program, a program that currently helps cover prescription drug costs for over 11,000 low-income Virginians with Medicare.
  • The bill provides free coverage for vaccines under Medicare Part D and improves access to vaccines under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In 2020, nearly 85,000 Virginians received a vaccine covered under Medicare Part D.

Affordable Health Care:

  • During the pandemic, Congress enhanced subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help lower health care premiums for millions of Americans. The Inflation Reduction Act would extend these enhanced subsidies for three years through 2025 to help make Virginians’ health insurance more affordable. Over 300,000 Virginians have ACA coverage in 2022.
  • The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that Virginians with ACA insurance would have seen a $71 increase in their premiums for the next coverage year if these subsidies weren’t extended.

Black Lung Benefits:

  • The bill permanently extends the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits. In Virginia, thousands of miners and their families have received benefits through the trust fund since it was established, including approximately 2,600 Virginians last year alone.

Clean Energy and Climate Provisions:

  • The bill will reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
  • The bill incentivizes investment in and production of renewable energy technologies like solar power and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.  The legislation expands the 48C investment tax credit for clean energy manufacturers, with $4 billion reserved for use exclusively in coal communities. All clean energy tax credits include a bonus for meeting domestic manufacturing requirements related to steel, iron, or other manufactured components. The bill also expands tax credits for residential clean energy and home efficiency improvements.
  • According to a recent analysis, the clean energy provisions are expected to create nearly 1 million jobs per year.
  • The bill includes tax credits for clean medium and heavy duty trucks, such as those produced at the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant.
  • The bill includes a $7,500 consumer credit for the purchase of new electric vehicles and incentivizes that vehicles are produced in North America.
  • The bill includes $9.7 billion for financial assistance to rural electric cooperatives to improve resilience and affordability.
  • The bill includes $2 billion for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program to provide competitive grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.
  • The bill includes $20 billion to help farmers and ranchers adopt agriculture conservation practices that improve landscape resilience.

Tax Fairness:

  • The legislation takes steps to make sure that the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, without increasing taxes on small businesses or families making less than $400,000 a year.
  • The bill also provides funding to modernize Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systems and improve customer service when paying taxes. This will help ensure the IRS has the resources it needs to process tax returns quickly, get rebates to taxpayers faster, and address challenges Americans have when filing taxes.

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 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $11,549,192 in federal funding for two Virginia transit systems. The funding was awarded through the Department of Transportation’s Fiscal Year 2022 Low or Now Emission Vehicle Program that helps state and local governments purchase or lease zero-emission and low-emission transit buses as well as acquire and construct support facilities, and was made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine.

“Electric and natural gas vehicles offer a clean and affordable alternative to traditional fuel vehicles,” the senators said. “We are glad to see Virginia receive this funding to support the adoption of more energy efficient vehicles and the needed infrastructure to continue our transition to a transportation system with a significantly lower impact on the environment.” 

The funding is distributed as follows:

  • $10,032,000 for the GRTC Transit System to replace natural gas buses that have reached the end of their useful life.
  • $952,192 for the GRTC Transit System to construct a vehicle storage facility.
  • $565,000 for the City of Suffolk to purchase new electric buses and charging stations.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently supported policies designed to bring down energy costs and support the transition to cleaner fuels with less environmental impact. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine included billions of dollars to support the transition to electric and zero-emission cars and buses. The Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed by the Senate last week, also included significant provisions to support the adoption of a clean energy future, and is expected to reduce carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after President Biden signed the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 into law. This legislation will expand health care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and authorize a new community-based outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads:

“Our nation’s veterans have made immense sacrifices in defense of our freedom, and Congress has a responsibility to ensure we’re providing them with the benefits they deserve. This bipartisan legislation signed by President Biden today will ensure millions of veterans, who were exposed to toxins and burn pits during their service, have access to the health care and resources they need. We’re also glad the bill will provide funding for a new outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads, helping to reduce wait times and improve care for Virginia’s veterans.”

Warner and Kaine voted to pass the Honoring Our PACT Act on June 16 and again on July 27.

The bill is named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, who died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service in Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard.

Specifically, the Honoring Our PACT Act will:

  • Expand VA health care to more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed post-9/11 combat veterans;
  • Authorize 31 major medical facility leases and allocate $5.5 billion to fund those facilities—including a new outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads;
  • Improve VA’s resources and training for toxic-exposed veterans;
  • Create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure;
  • Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions, including hypertension;
  • Expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure and include Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure;
  • Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure; and
  • Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in VA claims processing, the VA’s workforce, and VA health care facilities.

Virginia is home to more than 700,000 veterans. Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxins and burn pits during their service. The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), which Sens. Warner and Kaine voted to pass, included provisions to expand the VA’s list of medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. Warner and Kaine also cosponsored legislation that was signed into law in 2019 to extend VA coverage to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while stationed off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The bill also extended these benefits to servicemembers exposed to herbicides while serving in the Korean Demilitarized Zone and to children of servicemembers stationed in Thailand who were born with spina bifida.

In 2015, confronted with wait times in Hampton Roads that were three times the national average, Sen. Warner successfully urged the VA to send down a team of experts to address the problem. He also succeeded in getting the Northern Virginia Technology Council to issue a free report detailing how to reduce wait times. Most recently, in October 2020, Warner successfully saw through the signing of his legislation to expand veterans’ access to mental health services and reduce the alarming rate of veteran suicide. He’s also previously met with senior leadership at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center and Hampton VA Medical Center to discuss wait time reduction at their facilities and suicide prevention efforts. 

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Kaine has introduced the bipartisan Vet Support Act to provide better identification, intervention, and care to veterans coping with mental health issues in underserved areas. He also cosponsored legislation to allow doctors at the VA to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states like Virginia that have established medical marijuana programs.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $64,207,045 in federal funding for Virginia infrastructure projects courtesy of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine. The funding was awarded through the Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program that helps communities plan and carry out projects with local or regional impact.

“Virginia continues to benefit from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” the senators said. “We are thrilled to see this funding head to Virginia for improvements throughout the Commonwealth that will have a direct impact on Virginians’ daily lives.”

The funding is distributed as follows:

  • $20,000,000 for the Long Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Crossing Project in Arlington County, Virginia, and the District of Columbia for the creation of a new bicycle-pedestrian bridge that crosses the Potomac River between Long Bridge Park in Arlington, VA and East and West Potomac Parks in Washington, DC.
  • $19,300,000 for High Street Innovation in the City of Portsmouth for converting the existing four-lane undivided arterial to a two-lane divided road section allowing for road integration of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.
  • $18,400,000 for Arthur Ashe Boulevard Bridge in the City of Richmond for the replacement of the existing bridge structure over the CSX Railroad at the City's crossroads with the eastern seaboard interstate highway corridor.
  • $3,000,000 for the I-95/Route 1 Revitalizations Planning Project in Spotsylvania County for the planning of a project that will provide multimodal improvements along the US Route 1 corridor from I-95/Exit 126 to Route 208/Lafayette Boulevard.
  • $2,007,045 for the Three Notched Trail Shared Use Path Plan in Albemarle County for the planning of a project that will develop a shared use path between the City of Charlottesville, the community of Crozet, and Western Albemarle and Nelson County.
  • $1,500,000 for Community Connectivity and Mobility in Essex County for the planning to conduct a multimodal assessment and develop a master plan that will propose projects and cost estimates for future projects. Planning activities will also involve connecting select priority parcels and destinations.

This funding announcement comes following direct advocacy by Sens. Warner and Kaine. The senators have highlighted Virginia’s infrastructure needs for U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.  

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement after President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law:

“The Chips and Science Act will lower costs for families, strengthen our national security, and create good-paying manufacturing jobs here in the United States, and I’m proud to have shepherded it into law.”

Nearly everything that has an “on” switch – from cars to phones to washing machines to ATMs to electric toothbrushes – contains a semiconductor, but just 12 percent of these ‘chips’ are currently made in America. The CHIPS and Science Act includes $52 billion in funding championed by Sen. Warner to manufacture chips here on American soil – a move that will increase economic and national security and help America compete against countries like China for the technology of the future.

Sen. Warner, co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus and former technology entrepreneur, has long sounded the alarm about the importance of investing in domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Sen. Warner first introduced the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act in June 2020 along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine voted in the Senate to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, historic legislation to reduce inflation, lower costs, and fight climate change:

“This bill will lower the price of prescription drugs and healthcare, reduce the deficit, and invest in American energy to both address climate change and bring down energy bills. And in another big win for Virginia, it will help ensure that miners suffering from black lung and their families get the help they need,” said the senators. “While we will continue to look for ways to support the health and well-being of our communities, decrease inflation, and lower costs for Virginians, we’re proud that today we took a major step forward in addressing those challenges.”

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will fight inflation, reduce the deficit, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030, according to multiple independent assessments. Another survey found that the bill will save the average household hundreds of dollars annually on their energy costs. The Inflation Reduction Act will also lower health care bills by finally allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and extend the expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years, through 2025. Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act will permanently extend the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits.

The legislation will also take steps to make sure that the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, without increasing taxes on small businesses or families making less than $400,000 a year. According to a recent analysis, the clean energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act are expected to create nearly 1 million jobs per year.

The House of Representatives is now expected to take up the legislation next week before sending it to President Biden’s desk for signature.

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded unanimous Senate passage of bipartisan legislation Kaine helped craft to honor the public service of police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders by supporting the families of public safety officers lost to trauma-linked suicides, such as the families of Virginia Officers Jeffrey Smith and Howard Liebengood. The bill passed the Senate this week and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“Our public safety officers deserve a tremendous debt of gratitude for their sacrifice to our nation,” said the senators. “Especially after the tragic January 6th attack on the Capitol, where we lost officers to trauma-linked suicide, it is even more critical to pass this legislation to help families of officers access benefits. We urge President Biden to sign this legislation as quickly as possible.”

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program provides financial support to the families of firefighters, police officers, chaplains and emergency medical technicians who die in the line of duty or who have been permanently disabled as a result of a physical injury.

The Public Safety Officer Support Act, of which Kaine is an original cosponsor and was led by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and John Cornyn (R-TX), was introduced in February to improve the PSOB program to reflect the reality that law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency responders face a heightened risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorders that may lead to trauma-induced suicides, and that surviving family members of public safety officers that end their lives also face an elevated risk of self-harm as a result of a loved one’s loss being compounded by severe financial harm and significant emotional distress.

The Public Safety Officer Support Act would:

  • Create an avenue for officers to seek disability benefits for PTSD by directing the PSOB program to designate work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder as a line of duty injury for eligible officers as well as those who are permanently disabled as a result of attempted suicide.
  • Allow families of officers who die by trauma-linked suicide to apply for death benefits by directing the PSOB program to presume that suicides are a result of job duties in certain traumatic circumstances where there is evidence that PTSD or acute stress disorder would be the cause of the injury.

Kaine and Warner have long advocated for the granting of benefits to the families of officers who died by suicide after defending the Capitol on January 6.

The Public Safety Officer Support Act has been endorsed by a wide range of leading law enforcement and mental health agencies and organizations: U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ); National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG); National District Attorneys Association; Fraternal Order of Police (FOP); National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO); Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA); Sergeants Benevolent Association; National Sheriffs Association; Major County Sheriffs of America; National Border Patrol Council; United States Capitol Police Labor Committee; Blue H.E.L.P.; The Wounded Blue; National Narcotics Officers Associations’ Coalition; National Prison Council; International Association of Police Chiefs (IACP); AFSCME; International Union of Police Associations; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP); American Psychological Association (APA); National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health; International Society for Psychiatric Nurses; Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute; Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, SMART Recovery; Kennedy Forum; Inseparable; National Council for Mental Wellbeing; National Association for Rural Mental Health; American Mental Health Counselors Association; National Association of Social Workers; Postpartum Support International; National Association of State and Mental Health Program Directors; American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work; Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

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WASHINGTON — This week, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), and  Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced the bipartisan Improving Cybersecurity of Credit Unions Act to protect credit union members from cybersecurity threats that could jeopardize their identities, privacy, and security.

The bill will empower the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to assess cybersecurity risks posed by service providers and take action to protect credit union members.

The bill also restores previous NCUA authority to examine credit union service providers and mirrors the provisions of the Bank Service Company Act.

According to the NCUA, Georgia has roughly 2.25 million credit union members statewide.

“Credit unions serve communities all across Virginia,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m proud to join Senator Ossoff and Senator Lummis in offering this bipartisan proposal to improve cybersecurity for credit union customers.”

“Georgians should not have to fear that their identity or data could be stolen by hackers who target their bank or credit union,” Sen. Ossoff said. “This bipartisan bill will strengthen protections against hacking and identity theft. I thank Senators Lummis and Warner for joining me in this bipartisan effort.”

“Many people in Wyoming choose to keep their money or get a loan at their local credit union, and unfortunately, all too often, their sensitive information is targeted by cyber hackers,” said Sen. Lummis. “I’m proud to join my colleagues, Senators Ossoff and Warner, in introducing the Improving Cybersecurity of Credit Unions Act to help safeguard data at credit unions.”

Full text of the legislation is available here.  

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) cosponsored bipartisan legislation led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and a number of their Senate colleagues to address hazing incidents on college campuses. Since 2000, there have been more than 50 hazing-related deaths on America’s college campuses, including that of Adam Oakes, a Virginia Commonwealth University student who died in a fraternity hazing incident.

“Parents who send their kids off to college never imagine that their child may be injured, seriously impaired, or killed by the actions of their friends or peers. Unfortunately, this has been the reality for too many families, including the family of 19-year-old Adam Oakes, who died in a hazing incident at VCU last year,” said the Senators. “We owe it to parents and students to pass this legislation to provide transparency and accountability around these incidents, as well as education on the dangers and life-long consequences of hazing.”

The Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act would require hazing incidents to be reported as part of a college’s annual crime report and establish a definition of hazing to clarify what constitutes a reportable offense. The legislation would also require institutions to establish a campus-wide, research-based program to educate students about the dangers of hazing.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after the Senate voted 95-1 to approve adding Finland and Sweden to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):

“The NATO alliance has formed the foundation of the peace in Europe since the end of the second World War. With Vladimir Putin’s brazen and illegal invasion of Ukraine, strengthening NATO is more important than ever and today’s vote in the Senate sends a strong message that democracies across the globe will continue to stand up to Russian aggression.

“Three-quarters of NATO allies have now ratified Finland and Sweden’s applications, and it is essential that all remaining countries do so expeditiously to ensure that Finland and Sweden become full NATO members as soon as possible.”

In June, Chairman Warner led a bipartisan congressional delegation from the Senate Intelligence Committee on official visits to Finland and Turkey, where the senators met with intelligence and security officials in both countries and discussed Finland’s bid to join NATO. Following those meetings, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped his country’s public opposition to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Rob Portman (R-OH) today introduced legislation to clarify the digital asset reporting requirements signed into law as part of last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Last August, the senators announced an agreement  with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) on an amendment to the infrastructure package that would have clarified the definition of “broker” with respect to who must report to the government information about a digital asset transaction. The amendment specifically excluded from reporting requirements services like mining and wallet providers who do not take custody of other individuals’ cryptocurrency, nor are able to comply with the reporting requirements of a broker. While the amendment had strong bipartisan support, including from the Biden administration, the Senate was never afforded the opportunity to vote on and pass this amendment last August due to a procedural hurdle. The legislation introduced today is the exact same text introduced as a bipartisan amendment nearly one year ago.

“There’s been a lot of confusion about the reporting requirements included in the bipartisan infrastructure law,” said Sen. Warner. “As a former venture capitalist and someone who’s enthusiastic about innovation, I want to maintain America’s lead in financial innovation, including distributed ledger technologies. This bipartisan bill will underscore that the reporting requirements in the IIJA do not apply to crypto validators and other actors not providing broker-like functions while maintaining sensible guidelines to ensure that financial networks aren’t enabling illicit activity.”

“While there’s no question that digital asset exchanges behaving as brokers should be required to comply with existing reporting requirements, the bill signed into law last year would impose these requirements on many people who don’t even have the information needed to comply with them,” said Sen. Toomey. “By clarifying the definition of a broker, our legislation will protect innovation by exempting miners, network validators, and other service providers from onerous and unworkable requirements. This amendment had strong bipartisan support last August, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be signed into law.”

“The Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act placed unnecessary burdens on digital asset mining and wallet providers, and we must fix these reporting requirements,” said Sen. Lummis. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation which will ensure our tax system reflects the realities of the digital asset industry.”

“As more Arizonans utilize digital assets, our commonsense, bipartisan legislation ensures that everyday users of crypto – miners, stakers, and software developers – won't be subjected to reporting requirements that are intended for brokers of digital assets,” said Sen. Sinema.

“This legislation is designed to ensure that the digital asset reporting requirements signed into law as part of last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are implemented as intended,” said Sen. Portman. “I am pleased to see the Senate come together in bipartisan fashion to ensure that we provide clarity in the law and guidance around cryptocurrencies to maintain our edge in financial innovation.”

In addition to maintaining strong bipartisan support in the Senate, this legislation is widely supported by the digital asset industry.

“Coin Center supports any effort to improve the status quo created by the ill-advised crypto tax provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” said Jerry Brito, Executive Director of Coin Center. “We applaud Sen. Toomey for leading a bipartisan effort to address some of these issues and appreciate the support of Senators Warner, Sinema, Lummis and Portman.”

"We thank Senators Toomey, Sinema, Portman, Lummis, and Warner for their bipartisan leadership in this nuanced space,” said Sheila Warren, Chief Executive Officer of the Crypto Council for Innovation. “Clarifying how people can use and report on digital assets is important for the industry. We look forward to supporting the continued growth of innovation in the U.S. and working with policymakers on this issue."

“The Chamber of Digital Commerce commends Senator Toomey and co-sponsors for listening to the concerns of the digital asset community and continuing to advocate for regulatory clarity,” said Cody Carbone, Director of Policy, Chamber of Digital Commerce. “The infrastructure bill included burdensome reporting requirements for nearly every participant within the ecosystem and this bipartisan bill will ensure digital asset reporting requirements match the technology’s operation. We urge that this legislation is swiftly passed into law and look forward to working with all interested parties on policy that provides additional certainty for the digital asset space.”

"ADAM applauds Senators Toomey, Sinema, Portman, Lummis, and Warner for their continued bipartisan leadership to provide clarification on the definition of a broker as it relates to the 2021 Infrastructure Bill,” said Robert Baldwin, Head of Policy, Association for Digital Asset Markets. “Definitions matter and an overly broad interpretation of the broker definition as passed has the potential to dampen innovation and lead to the offshoring of various digital assets projects in the rapidly growing sector. This bill fixes the tax definitional issue. ADAM looks forward to continued bipartisan cooperation on this bill and other policy topics so that the U.S. can ensure a long-term position of leadership in digital assets.”

“Global DCA applauds the tireless efforts to clarify the definition of a broker with respect to the digital asset markets,” said Gabriella Kusz, CEO, Global Digital Asset and Cryptocurrency Association. “This common-sense solution will protect innovation while ensuring that those who are buying and selling cryptocurrency pay legitimate taxes that are owed. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Toomey, Senator Sinema, Senator Portman, Senator Lummis, and Senator Warner to ensure there is responsible regulation without excessive federal overreach.”

“The proposed revisions to Internal Revenue Code regarding Information Reporting for Brokers and Digital Assets marks a key legislative opportunity that we believe will begin to unlock the best benefits of digital assets and blockchain,” said Ron Quaranta, Chairman of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance. “By clarifying what it means to be a broker in light of this important innovation, the bi-partisan legislation paves the way for further innovations that can evolve markets and ultimately improve the overall financial lives of Americans. We are thankful for the continued effort and thought leadership of Senators Lummis, Portman, Sinema, and Warner, and on behalf of our members look forward to continued dialogue and collaboration with policymakers in the future.”

“Americans need common sense and fair guidance for engaging with blockchain protocols,” said Alison Mangiero, the Executive Director of The Proof of Stake Alliance (POSA). “POSA appreciates Sen. Toomey, Sen. Sinema, Sen. Warner, Sen. Lummis, and Sen. Portman’s, leadership and efforts to make clear that validators, those who do important work to secure blockchain protocols, are recognized appropriately for tax reporting purposes.  We urge the Senate to take up and pass this simple but important bill to provide much-needed clarity and help America grow its web3 economy.”

To read the full text of the bill click here.  

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated Senate passage of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 following obstruction efforts by Senate Republicans last week. This legislation will expand health care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and authorize a new community-based outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads:

“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed so much while serving in the Armed Forces, and we must honor that sacrifice by ensuring they have access to the benefits they’ve earned and deserve. We’re glad the Senate has finally done the right thing by passing this bipartisan legislation to expand much-needed health care benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxins and burn pits while serving our country,” the senators said.

Sens. Warner and Kaine voted to pass the Honoring Our PACT Act on June 16 and again on July 27.

The bill is named in honor of Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson, who died in 2020 from toxic exposure as a result of his military service in Kosovo and Iraq with the Ohio National Guard.

 Specifically, the Honoring Our PACT Act will:

  • Expand VA health care to more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed post-9/11 combat veterans;
  • Authorize 31 major medical facility leases and allocate $5.5 billion to fund those facilities—including a new outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads;
  • Improve VA’s resources and training for toxic-exposed veterans;
  • Create a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection related to toxic exposure;
  • Add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to VA’s list of service presumptions, including hypertension;
  • Expand presumptions related to Agent Orange exposure and include Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll as locations for Agent Orange exposure;
  • Strengthen federal research on toxic exposure; and
  • Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in VA claims processing, the VA’s workforce, and VA health care facilities.

The bill will now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Virginia is home to more than 700,000 veterans. Sens. Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxins and burn pits during their service. The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), which Sens. Warner and Kaine voted to pass, included provisions to expand the VA’s list of medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. Warner and Kaine also cosponsored legislation that was signed into law in 2019 to extend VA coverage to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while stationed off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The bill also extended these benefits to servicemembers exposed to herbicides while serving in the Korean Demilitarized Zone and to children of servicemembers stationed in Thailand who were born with spina bifida.

In 2015, confronted with wait times in Hampton Roads that were three times the national average, Sen. Warner successfully urged the VA to send down a team of experts to address the problem. He also succeeded in getting the Northern Virginia Technology Council to issue a free report detailing how to reduce wait times. Most recently, in October 2020, Warner successfully saw through the signing of his legislation to expand veterans’ access to mental health services and reduce the alarming rate of veteran suicide. He’s also previously met with senior leadership at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center and Hampton VA Medical Center to discuss wait time reduction at their facilities and suicide prevention efforts. 

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Kaine has introduced the bipartisan Vet Support Act to provide better identification, intervention, and care to veterans coping with mental health issues in underserved areas. He also cosponsored legislation to allow doctors at the VA to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states like Virginia that have established medical marijuana programs.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hanes to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA):

“After recommending Judge Hanes for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, we are pleased that the Senate voted to confirm her today. With her previous experience and commitment to public service, we know she will serve our Commonwealth and country with great distinction.”

Last year, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Judge Hanes for the position following Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.’s decision to take senior status. President Biden announced her nomination on April 27, 2022. Judge Hanes has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2020.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after the death of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri:

“Al-Qaeda has been responsible for brutal attacks in not only the U.S., but Asia, Africa, and Europe. I commend the efforts of our intelligence officers and servicemembers for finally – 21 years after the horrific 9/11 attacks – bringing one of its last remaining leaders to justice.

“I applaud the tireless work of the intelligence community and the bravery of our military personnel in continuing to counter terrorism abroad. In my capacity as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I will keep working to support the IC’s counterterrorism efforts and keep Americans safe.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) announced the creation of the Senate Community Development Finance Caucus (CDFC), a bipartisan caucus dedicated to supporting the missions of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) to scale their activities and fuel more lending in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities.

The 14-member caucus is bipartisan and evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans including Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Tina Smith (D-MN), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

CDFIs play a critical role in providing responsible and affordable credit to underserved communities. During the pandemic, CDFIs demonstrated their ability to deliver billions of dollars to underserved businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), totaling approximately $34 billion.

On a bipartisan basis, Sen. Warner worked with Sen. Crapo, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and other colleagues to introduce the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act, which passed as part of the December 2020 COVID relief package. The bill made a historic $12 billion investment in CDFIs and MDIs, which included $3 billion for grant funding and $9 billion for tier-one capital investments in CDFIs and MDIs, which could be leveraged 10 to 1.

“CDFIs and MDIs play an essential role in providing access to capital in underserved communities. While Congress took significant steps to support community-based lenders over the last two years on a bipartisan basis, CDFIs continue to need more long-term patient capital, operating capital, and resources to modernize their systems and compete in an era of rapid financial innovation. I am happy to announce the creation of this caucus with Sen. Crapo to improve communication between industry and policymakers and continue working in a bipartisan fashion towards robust investments in CDFIs and MDIs,” said Sen. Warner.

“I have consistently heard positive news and success stories about CDFIs in Idaho and across the country, and their responsiveness to the small business community, particularly during these last few challenging years of the pandemic,” said Sen. Crapo. “Sen. Warner and I are proud to launch this caucus to educate members and staff about the important role CDFIs play in their communities, and to create a forum to share ideas and policy proposals that foster strong economic growth in local communities.

A summary deck describing the caucus can be found here. More information on the caucus can be found on its webpage here.

The Community Development Finance Caucus has the support of a number of organizations and financial institutions.

“The National Bankers Association is proud to endorse the bipartisan U.S. Senate Community Development Finance Caucus, which will develop legislative efforts to support MDIs and CDFIs while providing direct lending opportunities. We commend Sen. Mark Warner for his leadership and commitment to ensuring MDIs have the resources to serve our nation's low- and moderate-income communities,” said Nicole Elam, President and CEO, National Bankers Association.

“The Community Development Bankers Association is excited about the formation of the Community Development Finance Caucus.  The CDFI sector has emerged as a critical component of the financial services sector because it works to ensure access by underserved markets.  Addressing growing income disparity, promoting racial equity, and building financial wellness are important national priorities and the need for the Caucus is great,” said Jeannine Jacokes, CEO of CDBA.

“Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) applauds the leadership of Sens. Mark Warner and Mike Crapo in launching the Community Development Finance Caucus. Providing affordable, mission-drive financing to underinvested communities is the special expertise that community development financial institutions (CDFIs) offer. The CDFI industry looks forward to working with the Community Development Finance Caucus on strengthening public sector understanding and support of CDFIs and the positive community development impact they have in low-wealth communities,” said Jennifer A. Vasiloff, Chief External Affairs Officer, Opportunity Finance Network.

“Inclusiv, the largest CDFI network representing near 500 community development credit unions providing responsible and sustainable financial products to over 18 million predominantly low income and minority consumers, expresses its strong support for the formalization of a congressional caucus that will be focusing on community development, financial inclusion and the economic revitalization of minority communities through CDFIs. This body will provide a platform to engage the CDFI industry and inform the development of public policy that’s both impactful and sustainable. We are grateful to Sens. Warner, Crapo, and all caucus members for spearheading this important initiative and call on other senators to lend their support,” said Cathie Mahon, President and CEO of Inclusiv.

“The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), is proud to partner and collaborate with INCLUSIV on ensuring that there is equitable financial futures for all people – especially the marginalized and underserved – usually the Colored Majority.  A Community Development Finance Caucus would provide the appropriate forum for ideas and strategies to be discussed and executed,” said Renée Sattiewhite, President and CEO of the African American Credit Union Coalition.

“On behalf of the National Association of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, we applaud Sens. Warner, Crapo, and all caucus members for leading the organizing of a CDFI Caucus that will give lawmakers a platform to support the critical work of CDFIs play in low income and communities of color as financial first responders and engines of economic revitalization. Our organization is in full support of this initiative and asks members of the Senate to support it as well,” said Maria Martinez, Board Chair, National Association of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals.

“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) thanks Sens. Warner and Crapo for forming a Community Development Finance Caucus. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are the backbone of this sector, providing capital, credit, and financial services in distressed communities and to underserved individuals throughout the country. CDFIs serve borrowers and geographic areas that are not readily served by mainstream financial institutions, providing loans to first-time homebuyers, financing for affordable housing and community facilities, and small business financing. The CDFI sector has grown significantly over the last 20 years, and this growth would not have been possible without bipartisan congressional support. LISC applauds Sens. Warner and Crapo for forming a Community Development Finance Caucus, which will focus on how Congress can continue to meet the needs of CDFIs and their work to serve underserved people and places,” said Matt Josephs, Senior Vice President for Policy, LISC.

“We applaud Sens. Warner and Crapo for their strategic and coordinated approach to strengthening CDFIs and MDIs and helping them reach their full potential. We stand ready to work with the Community Development Finance Caucus to leverage public-private partnerships to promote access to capital in areas served by these critically important institutions,” said Rob Nichols, President and CEO, American Bankers Association.

“CDFIs with proven records of serving underbanked people and communities of color are vital to an inclusive economy.  The creation of the Caucus represents an important step in ensuring that America’s financial system works for everyone,” said Bill Bynum, Hope Credit Union CEO.

“The access to responsible, flexible capital that Community Development Financial Institutions provide has had a transformative impact in the Northern Rockies and across the country, helping those outside the financial mainstream gain self-sufficiency and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities. At MoFi, we’re greatly appreciative of efforts by Sens. Mark Warner, Mike Crapo, Steve Daines, Cynthia Lummis, and others to form the Community Development Finance Caucus. It will be an important bipartisan venue for sharing information, discussing legislation, and tracking programs as lawmakers work to remove barriers and promote access to capital for all underserved Americans,” said Dave Glaser, President of MoFi.

“The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) applauds Sens. Warner and Crapo for organizing the Community Development Finance Caucus. There are currently 144 Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) serving roughly 600 minority-majority communities nationwide. There are roughly 300 Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) banks, primarily serving low-to-moderate income markets and maintaining accountability to those target markets. Their impact in the communities they serve is significant and must be leveraged for greater reach. ICBA looks forward to working with the Community Development Finance Caucus to further support our long-standing commitment to MDIs and CDFIs,” said Rebeca Romero Rainey, President and CEO of ICBA.

"I would like to applaud the hard work from Sens. Crapo and Warner toward the development of the Community Development Finance Caucus. We are excited at the opportunity to have a caucus dedicated to the work and efforts of the many CDFI practitioners working on the ground every day,” said Ted Piccolo, Executive Director Northwest Native Development Fund, former Chair Native CDFI Network.

“On behalf of the Native CDFI Network (NCN), NCN applauds the bipartisan effort of Sens. Crapo and Warner to establish a Community Development Finance Caucus within the United States Senate.  Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) have proven to be an irreplaceable mechanism for channeling critically needed capital into low- and moderate-income communities. This is especially true in Indian Country, where Native communities have long experienced substantially higher rates of poverty and unemployment than mainstream America. They also face a unique set of challenges to economic growth, such as: poor/lacking physical, legal, and telecommunications infrastructure; limited access to affordable financial products and services for consumers, aspiring homeowners, and would-be entrepreneurs; and limited workforce development strategies to support Native people’s full participation in their local economies. NCN looks forward to the opportunity to have a Caucus that supports the work of CDFI’s,” said Pete Upton, Interim Executive Director, Native CDFI Network.

“The CDFI Coalition supports the establishment of a CDFI Caucus and applauds the leadership of Sens. Warner and Crapo in establishing this bipartisan Caucus and thanks Sens. Smith, Klobuchar, Lummis, Van Hollen, Daines, Ossoff, Braun, Reed, Hyde-Smith, Warnock, Moran, and Rounds for joining. The establishment of a CDFI Caucus will bring attention to the important role that CDFIs play in revitalization in disadvantaged rural and urban communities across the country and build support for bipartisan future bipartisan initiatives,” said Ceyl Prinster, President and CEO, Colorado Enterprise Fund, Chair, CDFI Coalition.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner today joined Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and 27 of their Senate Democratic colleagues in calling on the Biden Administration to work urgently to increase the rate of refugee admissions for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. In a letter to President Joe Biden, the Senators further urge the President to maintain or increase the target of 125,000 refugee admissions in FY 2023 and take meaningful steps to meet this target.

“According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a record high of more than 89.3 million people, 42 percent of whom are children, were displaced at the end of 2021. The displaced population includes 27.1 million refugees,” the senators wrote. “UNHCR estimates that in 2023 over two million refugees will need to be resettled. In our own region, Central America faces a growing refugee crisis, with more than 800,000 people who have sought refuge in neighboring nations or have been internally displaced… We urge your Administration to ensure that the United States scales up capacity to process refugees in these regions and across all nationalities with protection needs, particularly those who have been languishing in precarious situations awaiting resettlement, such as family reunification cases.”

Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year, until the Trump Administration slashed the refugee admissions ceiling each year it was in office, ending at an historic low of just 15,000 for FY 2021. These drastic cuts have hobbled the resettlement infrastructure in this nation and made it difficult to quickly rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The U.S. resettled 11,411 refugees last fiscal year, the lowest figure since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980.

The senators continued, “We commend you for recommitting the United States to its historic role as a global leader in refugee resettlement by setting a ceiling of 125,000 for FY 2022. However, we are deeply concerned that as of June 30, 2022, the United States has only resettled 15,100 refugees this fiscal year. Despite the challenges of rebuilding the USRAP that your Administration inherited, we can and must do better. The dismantling of programs by the Trump Administration has hindered our efforts to resettle more refugees, and as such, your Administration must take the necessary steps to promptly ensure the United States has a robust, functioning, durable refugee resettlement system.”

The senators concluded, “The success of [Operation Allies Welcome] and Uniting for Ukraine have proven that, under your leadership, our country is fully capable of bringing vulnerable displaced people to safety in the United States when you commit the government to doing so. We urge you to expeditiously and safely admit all qualified refugees who are waiting to be resettled. Additionally, we urge you to set a robust target for USRAP in FY2023 as soon as possible and devote sufficient resources to meet this target.”

In addition to Warner, Durbin and Warnock, the letter was signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Angus King (I-ME), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tina Smith (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

The full text of the letter to President Biden is available here and below.

Dear President Biden:

We respectfully ask that you work urgently to increase the rate of refugee admissions for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. Furthermore, we urge you to maintain or increase the target of 125,000 refugee admissions in FY 2023 and take meaningful steps to meet this target.

We applaud your Administration’s work to expeditiously bring to the United States 85,000 Afghan nationals, U.S. citizens, and lawful permanent residents through Operation Allies Welcome (OAW). Similarly, we commend your support for those displaced by Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine through the Uniting for Ukraine parole program, which has allowed Americans to welcome and support more than 20,000 people in just the first three months of its operation. The success of these initiatives demonstrates our government’s capacity to swiftly offer protection to vulnerable people fleeing war and persecution.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a record high of more than 89.3 million people, 42 percent of whom are children, were displaced at the end of 2021. The displaced population includes 27.1 million refugees. UNHCR estimates that in 2023 over two million refugees will need to be resettled. In our own region, Central America faces a growing refugee crisis, with more than 800,000 people who have sought refuge in neighboring nations or have been internally displaced. Haiti is also facing a rapid decline in internal security and a compounding political, environmental, and humanitarian emergency. In West Africa, amidst an ongoing civil war, Cameroon is facing high levels of internal displacement, as well as receiving thousands of foreign refugees. These are just a few examples of the current refugee challenges around the world. We urge your Administration to ensure that the United States scales up capacity to process refugees in these regions and across all nationalities with protection needs, particularly those who have been languishing in precarious situations awaiting resettlement, such as family reunification cases.

 

Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year, until the Trump Administration slashed the refugee admissions ceiling each year it was in office, ending at an historic low of just 15,000 for FY 2021. We understand that the Trump Administration’s drastic cuts to refugee admissions also hobbled the resettlement infrastructure in United States, with many refugee resettlement organizations closing offices and laying off employees.

 

Combined with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing vacancies resulting from a yearlong hiring freeze at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services imposed by the previous Administration, these cuts have made it difficult to quickly rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Although you raised the refugee ceiling to 65,000 for FY 2021, the United States only resettled 11,411 refugees last fiscal year, the lowest figure since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980.

 

We commend you for recommitting the United States to its historic role as a global leader in refugee resettlement by setting a ceiling of 125,000 for FY 2022. However, we are deeply concerned that as of June 30, 2022, the United States has only resettled 15,100 refugees this fiscal year. Despite the challenges of rebuilding the USRAP that your Administration inherited, we can and must do better. The dismantling of programs by the Trump Administration has hindered our efforts to resettle more refugees, and as such, your Administration must take the necessary steps to promptly ensure the United States has a robust, functioning, durable refugee resettlement system.

 

It is imperative that your Administration continue to invest in the sustainability of the refugee resettlement program. We appreciate the steps that your Administration has taken this fiscal year to rebuild the overseas and domestic infrastructure to ready the USRAP for higher arrival numbers. However, more work needs to be done so that we can restore and expand our nation’s capacity to welcome the most vulnerable refugees from around the world.

 

The success of OAW and Uniting for Ukraine have proven that, under your leadership, our country is fully capable of bringing vulnerable displaced people to safety in the United States when you commit the government to doing so. We urge you to expeditiously and safely admit all qualified refugees who are waiting to be resettled. Additionally, we urge you to set a robust target for USRAP in FY2023 as soon as possible and devote sufficient resources to meet this target.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement after the House of Representatives voted 243-187-1 to approve the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, a historic bill to incentivize domestic manufacturing of semiconductors and improve U.S. technological competitiveness:

“I first began sounding the alarm about the need to reduce our reliance on other nations and safeguard our national security by bringing semiconductor production back to the U.S. more than two years ago. Since then, we’ve seen the consequences of semiconductor shortages all the way up the supply chain and down to consumers, who have faced rising costs on a variety of goods both large and small.

“This bipartisan bill will lower costs for families, strengthen our national security, and create good-paying manufacturing jobs here in the United States. I am glad that after years of unnecessary delay, it is finally being sent to the President’s desk.”

On Tuesday, Sen. Warner spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate, urging his colleagues to pass the chips bill. Video of that speech is available for download here.

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WASHINGTON – With Virginians increasingly concerned about violence and crime in their communities, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04) today announced $996,000 in federal funding allocated to Virginia Commonwealth University for gun violence prevention efforts in Richmond. The funding comes through the Department of Justice as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 Byrne Discretionary Grants Program and was secured through the appropriations process by the lawmakers in the FY2022 government spending bill.  

Specifically, the funding will go towards hospital-based crisis intervention for families, friends, and survivors of violence; establishing a data-sharing network for information among law enforcement, health systems, social service providers, and other community partners; as well as evaluation and quality assurance to evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts.

“We need to do everything we can to combat the scourge of gun violence in our communities,” the lawmakers said. “We are proud to have secured funding for this program that will help save lives by implementing strong, evidence-based intervention methods to prevent crime.”

“We thank Senators Warner and Kaine and Representative McEachin for their continued support and commitment as we work with public agencies and community partners to tackle gun violence and other social determinants of health that continue to impact our communities,” said Art Kellermann, M.D., senior vice president for health sciences at VCU and CEO of VCU Health System. “Funding for the Richmond Gun Violence Prevention Framework will be instrumental in reducing the number of injuries related to violence treated in our hospital."

As part of FY2022 appropriations, Congress revived a process that allows members to make Congressionally Directed Spending requests, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects. Through this process, Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with Rep. McEachin, were able to secure this dedicated funding for the VCU Health System to lead a collaborative gun violence prevention effort with the City of Richmond and other community stakeholders.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been active supporters of increased gun violence prevention measures. Last month, the senators voted in favor of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – landmark legislation to curb gun violence.

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner released the following statement applauding the Senate passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, which includes key provisions to deepen and widen channels in and around Norfolk Harbor, improve Virginia’s coastal resiliency, and strengthen Virginia’s wastewater treatment infrastructure:

“High-quality water infrastructure—from easy access to clean drinking water to protection from rising sea levels—plays a vital role in the health, well-being, and future of Virginia communities. That’s why we always fight to include funding and support for the Commonwealth in the annual bipartisan water infrastructure bill, and this year was no exception. Today’s legislation will help us plan for much-needed dredging in the Norfolk Harbor, protect drinking water, and safeguard communities from rising sea levels. We’re going to keep working to get it signed into law as quickly as possible.”

The legislation will help repair aging drinking water, wastewater, and irrigation systems across America, and Warner and Kaine successfully fought to include the following priorities for Virginia:

  • An increase in the authorization of the Western Lee County Sewer Project from $20 million to $52 million. This project—which will create new opportunities for economic growth—is needed to serve residents of Western Lee County who currently do not have access to a public wastewater collection or treatment system, which poses a threat to public health and the area’s surface water and groundwater quality. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included $281,295 to complete design of the Western Lee County Sewer Project and $2.2 million to initiate construction of this project. Increasing this authorization will allow the Army Corps to fully budget and carry out this project—pending Congressional appropriations.
  • A study to support needed modifications to Anchorage F of the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Deepening and Widening project for improved safety and navigation; and
  • A change in policy to give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flexibility to incorporate federal installations of other federal agencies as part of a flood or Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) project sponsored by the Army Corps. This addresses longstanding challenges encountered during the Norfolk CSRM study phase, where Naval Station Norfolk and the NOAA Maritime Operations Center were excluded from the plan. Hampton Roads is home to at least 7 federal agencies and 17 installations that could benefit from this provision. The change comes after the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which resulted in $399.3 million in construction funding for Norfolk’s CSRM, and $1.5 million for Virginia Beach’s CSRM to cover the costs of a planning study. Senators Warner and Kaine have requested funding for a similar study for the City of Hampton and the surrounding area as a Congressional Directed Spending request to the Senate Committee on Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill.

The next step for the legislation is a conference committee between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, before returning to each body for final votes.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced a total of $5,511,125 in federal funding from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration for regional airports in Virginia.

“This funding will support a series of important projects in different stages at regional airports throughout the Commonwealth,” the senators said. “These airports serve the transportation needs of thousands of Virginians every year and we are happy to see this funding go towards critical improvements.”

The funding is distributed as follows:

  • $4,555,463 for Lonesome Pine Airport in Wise, VA for the final phase of rehabilitating runway lighting.
  • $450,090 for Chesapeake Regional Airport in Chesapeake, VA for the removal of non-hazard obstructions in order to comply with FAA standards.
  • $216,688 for Blue Ridge Airport in Martinsville, VA for the final phase of expanding the existing terminal apron to accommodate increased use.
  • $178,200 for Freeman Field in Louisa County, VA for the construction of new taxiways.
  • $110,684 for William M Tuck Airport in Halifax County, VA for replacing path indicators, end identifier lights, and runway lighting systems.

Last week, Sens. Warner and Kaine announced nearly $6 million for airports across the Commonwealth in addition to $50 million to Virginia airports apportioned earlier this month. The senators also announced nearly $400 million for Virginia airports secured through the bipartisan infrastructure law in November of last year. 

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement regarding the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, legislation that is expected to pass through the Senate’s budget reconciliation process next week:

“Lowering costs, expanding access to high-quality health care, and addressing climate change are priorities we’ve heard about from Virginians in every region of the Commonwealth. We look forward to voting on the Inflation Reduction Act so we can take meaningful steps toward those goals. We will continue to look for other opportunities to lower costs, like child care expenses, for Virginia families.”

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will fight inflation, reduce the deficit, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030. The bill will lower health care costs by finally allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and extend the expanded Affordable Care Act program for three years, through 2025. The legislation will require the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes. There are no new taxes in this bill on families making $400,000 or less and no new taxes on small businesses.

A summary of the legislation is available here.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $789,913 in federal funding to help Virginians with disabilities access housing. The funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Mainstream Voucher program, which is similar to other Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) but specifically assists non-elderly persons with disabilities between ages 18 to 62.

“Rents and home prices have skyrocketed, making it harder and harder for Virginians to find affordable housing,” said the senators. “We need to make sure all Virginians, especially those from vulnerable populations, have a safe place to live, and this funding is critical to doing that.”

A breakdown of the funding is below:

  • $441,684 for the Fairfax County Redevelopment & Housing Authority
  • $266,670 for the Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority
  • $81,559 for the County of Albemarle/Office of Housing

Sen. Kaine began his career as a lawyer specializing in the representation of people who had been denied housing due to their race, disability, or family status, and has long worked alongside Sen. Warner to increase affordable housing in Virginia. Earlier this year, the senators announced nearly $115 million for affordable housing in Virginia. They’ve also introduced legislation  that would address rising home prices, assist first-generation homebuyers, and close widening wealth and homeownership gaps.

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