Press Releases

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BROADCAST-QUALITY PHOTOGRAPHY, AUDIO, AND VIDEO FROM SEN. WARNER'S TREE DECORATION  

SANTA’S WORKSHOP (WASHINGTON) – Christmas cheer has spread to the Senate! Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) welcomed students from Dumfries Elementary School to his Capitol Hill office to kick off the holiday season with carols, milk and cookies, and decoration of the office Christmas tree. This year’s tree, a 12-foot Fraser fir, is from Mt. Rogers Tree Farm in Grayson County, Va.

The fifth-graders helped Sen. Warner decorate his tree with homemade ornaments before serenading members of his staff with classic carols such as “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” 

This holiday tradition has been held annually, and Sen. Warner was thrilled to once again host students following a two-year pandemic pause. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved President Biden’s nomination of Mr. Jamar Walker to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia:

“After proudly recommending Mr. Jamar Walker to the Biden Administration for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, we’re pleased the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to advance his nomination. We remain confident he will serve Virginia and our country with great distinction and urge the full Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.”

In March 2022, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending candidates, including Mr. Jamar Walker, for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Raymond A. Jackson’s decision to take senior status in November 2021. Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on their distinguished records and the advice of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth. The President announced his nomination of Mr. Walker in July 2022.

Mr. Walker’s nomination is now subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate voted to avert a rail shutdown:

“We’re relieved that we averted a rail shutdown, which would have had disastrous consequences on our economy right before the holidays. But we’re disappointed that our colleagues rejected a separate bill we supported to provide sick days for our rail workers. The workers who keep our trains and economy running are invaluable. They need and deserve paid sick leave. Especially after COVID, the notion of seven days of paid sick leave for full-time workers is basic common sense. It keeps coworkers and customers healthier when sick employees are able to take time off to attend to their health needs. And this adds to the productivity of workplaces. We will continue to look for ways to protect workers.”

Sens. Warner and Kaine voted for both the bill to avert a rail shutdown and the bill to provide paid sick leave for rail workers.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after the Senate voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and extend federal protections for gay and interracial marriages:

“Marriage is not only a spiritual bond between two individuals, it’s also a binding contract that cements essential benefits, rights, and privileges. This bill will ensure that gay marriages are recognized across the country, thereby protecting same-sex couples from discrimination that would otherwise block their access to health care, paid family medical leave, hospital visitation, and parental rights — among many others. I was proud to vote for this piece of legislation and urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass it and send it to the President’s desk soon.

“This is a meaningful step to protect rights already established by the Obergefell ruling, but Virginia still has a ban on same-sex marriages at the state level, and it’s time to repeal it.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 21 Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack urging him to update standards for commercial breeding facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In the letter, the Senators call on Secretary Vilsack to implement the strong standards for veterinary care, housing, and breeding of dogs suggested in the Puppy Protection Act, legislation that Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently cosponsored.

“We write to request that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) consider updating its standards of care for dogs living in commercial breeding facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA),” wrote the Senators. “This Congress, we introduced the Puppy Protection Act (S. 1385), which would amend the AWA and provide several critical updates for the humane treatment of dogs by licensed breeders operating in the United States.  The legislation would ensure dogs receive adequate housing, caging, feeding and watering, human and other animal socialization, and veterinary care.”

They continued, “American consumers assume that ‘USDA-licensed’ dog dealers meet high standards for raising dogs.  However, too many American consumers have been disappointed to find out their dog lived in substandard conditions before purchase, and often deal with the repercussions of a sick puppy once they’ve purchased the dog.  We are hopeful that USDA will take the long-overdue step of ensuring its regulatory standards of care for dogs meet the expectations and demands of the American public.”

Sen. Warner, a dog owner, has been an advocate for dogs in Virginia and throughout the country, earning a 100% on the Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Scorecard for 2021. In March, Sen. Warner secured the passage of new language requiring the Department of State to report on the status of dogs in the Explosive Detection Canine Program (EDCP). This program came under scrutiny in 2019 after an Inspector General (IG) report found that the Department failed to conduct proper follow-up after sending highly-trained dogs to foreign partner nations, resulting in the death of at least ten dogs from largely preventable illnesses. As Governor of Virginia, Kaine signed a law that imposed stricter legal penalties for dogfighting offenses.

A copy of the letter is available here and full text is below:

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

We write to request that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) consider updating its standards of care for dogs living in commercial breeding facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).   These updates are necessary to ensure breeding facilities provide dogs with proper care.  

This Congress, we introduced the Puppy Protection Act (S. 1385), which would amend the AWA and provide several critical updates for the humane treatment of dogs by licensed breeders operating in the United States.  The legislation would ensure dogs receive adequate housing, caging, feeding and watering, human and other animal socialization, and veterinary care.

USDA has the authority to update these standards, and most responsible breeders are already meeting them.  More than half of the dog breeders regulated by USDA already reside in states with laws that prescribe higher standards of care, including Ohio, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.

American consumers assume that “USDA-licensed” dog dealers meet high standards for raising dogs.  However, too many American consumers have been disappointed to find out their dog lived in substandard conditions before purchase, and often deal with the repercussions of a sick puppy once they’ve purchased the dog.  We are hopeful that USDA will take the long-overdue step of ensuring its regulatory standards of care for dogs meet the expectations and demands of the American public. 

The need for increased standards of care for dogs in USDA-licensed facilities is evident through strong congressional support for the Puppy Protection Act.  We encourage USDA to update its regulatory standards of care to embrace the requirements embedded within this bill.  

While we commend USDA for its efforts to ensure that dogs and puppies are better protected under the AWA, we urge the agency to ensure the way dogs are cared for in USDA regulated facilities meets the expectations of the American public.  Thank you again for your consideration of this important issue.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement:

“Donald and Colette McEachin have been wonderful friends to me and Lisa for more than thirty years. We often bonded over stories and laughs about our mutual challenges raising families with three strong-willed daughters.

“Up until the very end, Don was a fighter. Even though he battled cancer and faced other trials in recent years, he never lost his focus on social and environmental justice. Tonight, Virginia has lost a great leader and I have lost a great friend.”

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) wrote to Sundar Pichai – the CEO of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google – urging him to curb deceptive advertisements and ensure that users receive accurate information when searching for abortion services on the platform. This letter comes on the heels of an investigation that reveals how Google regularly fails to apply disclaimer labels to misleading ads by anti-abortion clinics. It also follows a successful effort by Sen. Warner and Rep. Slotkin who previously urged Google to take action to prevent misleading search results for anti-abortion clinics. This push ultimately led Google to clearly label facilities that provide abortions and prevent users from being misled by fake clinics or crisis pregnancy centers.

“We are encouraged by and appreciative of the recent steps Google has taken to protect those searching for abortion services from being mistakenly directed to clinics that do not offer comprehensive reproductive health services. However, we ask you to address issues with misrepresentation in advertising on Google’s site and take a more expansive, proactive approach to addressing violations of Google’s stated policy,” wrote the lawmakers.

“According to an investigation by Bloomberg News and the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), depending on the search term used, Google does not consistently apply disclaimer labels to ads by anti-abortion clinics.  CCDH recently conducted searches that returned 132 misleading ads for such clinics that lacked disclaimers. Specifically, researchers found that queries for terms such as ‘Plan C pills,’ ‘pregnancy help,’ and ‘Planned Parenthood’ often returned results with ads that are not labeled accurately,” they continued. “Furthermore, the Tech Transparency Project found that some ads from ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ even when they were properly labeled, the ads themselves included deliberately deceptive verbiage aimed at tricking users into believing that they offer abortion services.  For example, ads for ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ were found to contain language such as ‘Free Abortion Pill’ and ‘First Trimester Abortion.’ Such deceptive advertising likely reduces the effectiveness of labels and may lead to detrimental health outcomes for users who receive delayed treatment.”

In addition to urging Google to rectify these issues, the lawmakers also requested answers to the following questions:

 

  1. What specific search terms does Google consider related to “getting an abortion”?
  2. What criteria does Google use to determine whether specific queries are related to “getting an abortion”?
  3. What additional steps will Google take to identify and remove ads with misleading verbiage that violates Google’s policies against misrepresentation?

A copy of the letter is available here and full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Mr. Pichai,

We write today regarding the responsibility that Google has to ensure users receive accurate information when searching for abortion services on your platform. We are encouraged by and appreciative of the recent steps Google has taken to protect those searching for abortion services from being mistakenly directed to clinics that do not offer comprehensive reproductive health services. However, we ask you to address issues with misrepresentation in advertising on Google’s site and take a more expansive, proactive approach to addressing violations of Google’s stated policy.

On June 17, 2022, we wrote to you, along with 19 other senators and representatives, regarding research that showed Google results for searches such as “abortion services near me” often included links to clinics that are anti-abortion, sometimes called “crisis pregnancy centers.”   We were extremely concerned with this practice of directing users toward “crisis pregnancy centers” without any disclaimer indicating those businesses do not provide abortions.

We were pleased to see the changes you have made in response to our letter, such as the new refinement tool that allows users to only see facilities verified to offer abortion services, while still preserving the option to see a broader range of search results.  The steps you have taken will help prevent users from mistakenly being sent to organizations that attempt to deceive individuals into thinking they provide comprehensive health services and instead, regularly provide users with disinformation regarding the risks of abortion.  As many states are increasingly narrowing the window between getting a positive pregnancy test and when you can terminate a pregnancy, every day counts.

But we find ourselves again asking that Google live up to its promises with regards to preventing misleading ads on its platform. According to an investigation by Bloomberg News and the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), depending on the search term used, Google does not consistently apply disclaimer labels to ads by anti-abortion clinics.  CCDH recently conducted searches that returned 132 misleading ads for such clinics that lacked disclaimers. Specifically, researchers found that queries for terms such as “Plan C pills,” “pregnancy help,” and “Planned Parenthood” often returned results with ads that are not labeled accurately.  We believe Google’s failure to apply disclaimer labels to these common searches appears to be a violation of your June 2019 policy that requires “advertisers who want to run ads using keywords related to getting an abortion” to go through a verification process and be labeled as a provider that “Provides abortions” or “Does not provide abortions.”

Furthermore, the Tech Transparency Project found that some ads from “crisis pregnancy centers,” even when they were properly labeled, the ads themselves included deliberately deceptive verbiage aimed at tricking users into believing that they offer abortion services.  For example, ads for “crisis pregnancy centers” were found to contain language such as “Free Abortion Pill” and “First Trimester Abortion.” Such deceptive advertising likely reduces the effectiveness of labels and may lead to detrimental health outcomes for users who receive delayed treatment. These ads appear to violate Google’s policy on misrepresentation, which prohibits ads that “deceive users.”  Your responsiveness to our first letter gives us hope that you are willing to see this issue through. We, therefore, would appreciate answers to the following questions:

  1. What specific search terms does Google consider related to “getting an abortion”?
  2. What criteria does Google use to determine whether specific queries are related to “getting an abortion”?
  3. What additional steps will Google take to identify and remove ads with misleading verbiage that violates Google’s policies against misrepresentation?

We urge you to take proactive action to rectify these and any additional issues surrounding misleading ads, and help ensure users receive search results that accurately address their queries and are relevant to their intentions.

Thanks for your consideration, and we look forward to your timely response. 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine along with U.S. Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton (all D-VA) released the following statement today, five years after the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar:

“Today marks five years since Bijan was shot and killed by U.S. Park Police. While we appreciate that the current leadership of the Department of the Interior has taken several positive steps to ensure that the failures that led to the tragic death of this young man don’t happen again, we remain deeply disappointed that the Ghaisar family’s pleas for justice and closure have not yet been answered. Bijan’s friends and family deserve closure for the killing of Bijan, which includes making sure that the individuals responsible for his death are finally held accountable.

“Investigations involving use of force should be handled in a timely manner and include constant information sharing with the families involved and the public. Failure to do so undermines public trust in law enforcement and our institutions. It is our sincere hope that through increased transparency and communication, the Ghaisar family will finally receive the closure they need.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $4,999,975.50 in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funding for planning broadband expansion projects in the Commonwealth. Awarded to Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, this first phase of funding will allow Virginia to develop their plans for deploying funding made available under the bipartisan infrastructure law to expand access to high-speed internet.

“Last year, we passed  once-in-a-generation funding for infrastructure projects across the country, and we’ve heard from communities across the Commonwealth about the difference these resources will make, from fixing unsafe bridges to modernizing our local airports,” the Senators said. “But in the twenty-first century, infrastructure doesn’t stop at roads and bridges—it must include access to broadband. That’s why we fought to make sure the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would also help close the digital divide in Virginia and provide access to affordable, reliable broadband to every corner of the Commonwealth.”

The BEAD program, created and funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law which Sen. Warner negotiated and Sen. Kaine supported, will support Virginia’s development of a Five-Year Action Plan to deploy universal broadband. Specifically, the grant will support planning and pre-deployment activities in the Commonwealth including providing technical assistance to sub grantees and further developing plans to build broadband capacity In rural and underserved areas.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long fought to expand access to broadband in Virginia. During negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure law, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding to help deploy broadband, increase access, and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. The BEAD Program was created and funded through this landmark legislation and provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all states and territories.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after voting in favor of a resolution terminating the COVID-19 national emergency under the National Emergencies Act originally declared by President Trump in March of 2020:

“When COVID-19 hit, Congress acted with urgency under a number of emergency declarations to provide the flexibilities and funding needed to save lives, roll out a vaccine, and keep our economy afloat. We’ve come a long way since then, and while it might be easier to kick the can down the road, I think it’s time to have a bipartisan conversation about how we unwind from these emergency actions and move forward with the valuable lessons we’ve learned. Today’s resolution won’t affect critical flexibilities, such as the ones facilitating access to telehealth. Rather, this vote should serve as the beginning of a productive and bipartisan effort to examine which mitigation efforts and flexibilities are worth embedding permanently into our lives, and which are no longer relevant or necessary.”

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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:

“Since Russia launched its brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine nine months ago, there has been fear that this conflict could spill over into neighboring NATO countries and result in a dangerous escalation that would lead to devastation and destruction across Europe. As U.S. national security officials engage directly with Polish allies to confirm details about today’s events, the deaths of civilians following a reported Russian strike inside Poland underscore the disastrous and destabilizing effects of Putin’s unjust war. The United States has been clear in our continued support for Ukraine, as well as in our commitments to our NATO allies.”


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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement regarding the shooting at the University of Virginia, which took three lives and injured two others on November 13, 2022:

“We are heartbroken to hear about the tragic shooting at UVA and are praying for those who were injured, the families who lost loved ones, and the entire UVA community. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and urge everyone to follow the directions of local law enforcement as they continue searching for the suspect."

UVA has an Emergency Hotline (877-685-4836) for family and friends with questions.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $703,900 in federal funding for communities throughout Southwest Virginia in order to boost economic development and upgrade old and out-of-date equipment used for critical public services. The funding is awarded through two programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development division, which aims to support economic development and essential services that improve quality of life in rural communities.

“We are glad to support investments that will spur economic development and fund much needed equipment for public works,” the Senators said. “These grants will help to ensure that Virginia’s rural communities have equipment they need to safely and effectively serve residents, from trash collection and construction to providing community safety services and well-maintained gathering spaces.”

Awarded through the USDA Rural Business Development Grants:

  • $250,000 to the Town of Hillsville, VA to assist with the completion of the fifth phase of the Southwest Virginia Farmers Market, including pavement, curb, and gutter.
  • $105,000 to the Town of RichlandsVA to create a revolving loan fund that will serve as a recruitment and retention tool for micro- and small businesses.

Awarded through the USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program

  • $200,000 to Grayson County for the purchase of two sanitation vehicles to replace older vehicles that are unreliable and in need of costly repairs.
  • $93,700 to the Town of Coeburn for the purchase of a backhoe to be used by the public works department. 
  • $50,000 to Alleghany Highlands Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Covington, VA for the purchase of two fourteen-passenger vehicles, which will help replace older, unsafe vehicles.
  • $5,200 to the Town of Boones Mill for the purchase of a law enforcement vehicle to replace an older, unsafe vehicle in need of costly repairs. 

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $682,479 in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for projects in Carroll County and the towns of Hurley and Whitewood. The funding will go toward expanding access to broadband and supporting recovery efforts following devastating flooding in Buchanan County.

“We are proud to announce these investments in Southwest Virginia,” said the Senators. “This funding will help rebuild homes that were devastated by flooding and bring critical infrastructure to rural communities by expanding access to high-speed internet.”

The funding is distributed as follows:

  1. $582,479 to Carroll County for the Pipers Gap Fiber Project to install 8.2 miles of fiber to expand wireless broadband and fiber in the area. The Pipers Gap Fiber Project is expected to expand access to 402 households that currently do not have high-speed internet.
  2. $100,000 to United Way of Southwest Virginia, Inc. for the Hurley-Whitewood Disaster Recovery Project to help the towns of Hurley and Whitewood recover from multiple devastating flooding events. The Hurley-Whitewood Disaster Recovery Project will assist 129 households with disaster relief and constructing or rehabilitating 50 homes.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments, including Virginia, with a mission to build community capacity, strengthen economic growth, and bring the Appalachian region into socioeconomic parity with the nation. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for a fully funded ARC that can increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have pushed for federal assistance following the August 2021 flooding in Hurley and July 2022 flooding in Whitewood. In October 2021, they successfully pushed the President to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. In September 2022, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully urged President Biden to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for Buchanan and Tazewell Counties following the July 2022 flooding.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $76,530,000 in federal funding for the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, also known as Jefferson Lab, in Newport News to support multiple projects that are critical to ensuring the U.S. remains a leader in science and technology. The funding was made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, legislation Sens. Warner and Kaine helped pass in August to lower costs for Virginians and build a strong foundation for future national security and economic growth, in part by accelerating scientific programs and national laboratory infrastructure projects.

“This funding is a powerful example of how the Inflation Reduction Act, which we proudly helped pass earlier this year, will accelerate the development of key technologies,” said the Senators. “We’re glad Jefferson Lab’s research programs and infrastructure projects are receiving this support and look forward to seeing Virginians at the lab continue to lead the way in technological innovation.”

This funding will help make critical laboratory upgrades and support Jefferson Lab’s cutting-edge work in various fields, including projects that will help increase our understanding of the fundamental building blocks and forces at work in our universe—information that can play a key role in the development of an array of technologies, including those with clean energy and medical implications. It is part of $1.5 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act for national laboratories to research and develop new technologies to help the U.S. meet its energy, climate, and security needs.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently advocated for funding for Jefferson Lab and its programs. 

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WASHINGTON, — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced two direct loans for Virginia from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program: a loan of up to $82.6 million to help finance the I-81 Regular Project—which is focused on various improvements in Roanoke County, including the construction of additional lanes and bridge replacements—and $15 million for the I-81 Rural Project to extend highway on and off ramps in Frederick, Pulaski, Rockbridge, Shenandoah, Smyth, Washington, and Wythe Counties, as well as in Abingdon and Wytheville.

“Anyone who has traveled on I-81 knows that it’s in desperate need of repair. That’s why we’ve fought for upgrades that will make it easier and safer for Virginians to travel I-81 for work or for fun, and for Virginia businesses to ship their products to customers near and far,” said the Senators. “We’re pleased these loans are headed to Virginia to help make I-81 improvements possible, and will keep working to build on the progress we made with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to ensure that Virginia communities can build and maintain their roads and bridges.”

More than one-third of all trucks that drive through Virginia and approximately half of the Commonwealth’s value of goods are transported along I-81. In the last decade, I-81 has experienced significant traffic growth, with travel expected to continue increasing along the interstate.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently championed infrastructure funding for Virginia. In 2019, Warner and Kaine wrote to DOT and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), requesting funding for vital improvements to I-81 that would enhance safety and reduce traffic congestion. Warner and Kaine have long supported transportation projects to address traffic congestion and expand transportation options in the Commonwealth, including by passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The BIL reauthorized and expanded the TIFIA program to help fund future infrastructure projects like this. Kaine successfully included his bipartisan legislation in the BIL to streamline the application process for TIFIA loans, helping more Virginia communities access TIFIA financing.

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WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) published “Cybersecurity is Patient Safety,” a policy options paper, outlining current cybersecurity threats facing health care providers and systems and offering for discussion a series of policy solutions to improve cybersecurity across the industry.  

Over the last decade cyberattacks in the health care sector have risen exponentially, with attacks on providers reaching an all-time high in 2021. The white paper, assembled by Sen. Warner’s staff, drawing on input from health care and cybersecurity experts, argues that improving cybersecurity in the health care sector will require collaboration from both the public and private sectors, and calls for improving federal leadership, strengthening health care providers’ cybersecurity capabilities, and building a robust response system in order to efficiently recover from attacks.

“Unfortunately, the health care sector is uniquely vulnerable to cyberattacks and the transition to better cybersecurity has been painfully slow and inadequate. The federal government and the health sector must find a balanced approach to meet the dire threats, as partners with shared responsibilities,” wrote Sen. Warner.

Divided in three parts, the white paper is organized as follows:

  1. Chapter one covers areas that the federal government needs to address to improve our national risk posture when it comes to cybersecurity in the health care sector. Specifically, it notes seven key challenges facing federal government agencies with jurisdiction over health care providers and cybersecurity, details the current state of play regarding cybersecurity threats, and outlines policy options for shoring up existing vulnerabilities.    
  2. Chapter two covers ways that the federal government can help the private sector meet this threat through a combination of potential mandates and voluntary incentives to adopt best practices.
  3. Chapter three covers policies that could help health care providers respond to attacks in the event of a cybersecurity failure. Specifically, it notes ways institutions can recover following successful cyberattacks, and how to limit the resulting impact on patients and systems.

Sen. Warner has been a leader in the cybersecurity realm throughout his time in the Senate, crafting numerous pieces of legislation aimed at addressing these threats facing our nation. Recognizing that cybersecurity is an increasingly complex issue that affects the health, economic prosperity, national security, and democratic institutions of the United States, Sen. Warner cofounded the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus with former Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in 2016.  A year later, in 2017, he authored the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act with Sen. Gardner. This legislation, signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2020, requires that any IoT device purchased with federal funds meet minimum security standards. As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner co-authored legislation that requires companies responsible for U.S. critical infrastructure report cybersecurity incidents to the government. This legislation was signed into law by President Joe Biden as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in March 2022.

Sen. Warner has also examined cybersecurity in the health care sector specifically. In 2019, Sen. Warner sent a letter to several health care providers and industry trade associations – from large hospital networks to trade associations representing rural providers and medical technology vendors – asking a series of questions related to the steps their organizations and/or members had taken to improve their cybersecurity posture. Sen. Warner received a number of thoughtful responses to those questions that revealed a wide-range of cybersecurity capabilities and depth of understanding of the problems health care providers are facing.

Sen. Warner is releasing this policy options document with the intent of soliciting feedback from stake-holders on the potential options described within. Any individuals, researchers, businesses, organizations, or advocacy groups that are interested in submitting comments – specific to the content and questions outlined in this document or additional ideas or language for inclusion in eventual legislation – should send a letter or an email to cyber@warner.senate.gov.

A copy of full policy options paper can be found here.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $115,675,266 in federal funding to help low-income individuals and families in Virginia pay for home heating costs, cover unpaid utility bills, and make cost-effective home energy repairs that will lower their heating and cooling bills ahead of the winter season. The funds are being awarded through the Administration for Children and Families’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and they were made possible by the Fiscal Year 2022 government funding bill, the stopgap government funding bill passed in September, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which the senators voted to pass last year.

“Especially with cold winter months approaching, it’s critical that every Virginian has access to the heat they need to stay safe,” said the Senators. “We’re glad this funding will help people pay their energy bills and make home energy improvements that will lower their energy costs. We will continue to look for additional ways to lower costs for families.”

The funding will be allocated to the Commonwealth and distributed based on need.

Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for lowering energy costs and have consistently advocated for robust funding for LIHEAP, which provides federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs. In April, the senators announced over $65.5 million in federal funding to make homes more energy efficient and lower utility costs. In August, the senators voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which will help lower energy costs by making energy efficient appliances more affordable, investing in home energy repairs, and supporting the costs of solar projects.

Qualified Virginians should apply through the Virginia Department of Social Services by going to commonhelp.virginia.gov or calling 1-855-635-4370 (Monday-Friday, 7 AM-6 PM).

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 WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) announced that the Silver Line expansion to Washington Dulles International Airport will open on Tuesday, November 15, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday:

“We are pleased to see WMATA move forward on its promise to safely open the Silver Line’s service to Dulles—just in time to provide Virginians with a more convenient and sustainable way to get to the airport to visit loved ones this holiday season. We will continue to work with WMATA and the Metro Safety Commission to ensure Metro riders can safely and easily access the economic, entertainment, and travel opportunities the region has to offer.”

Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently urged WMATA and the Metro Safety Commission to safely and quickly open the Silver Line extension. While Sen. Kaine was Governor, he helped broker the deal between Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), WMATA, the Commonwealth, and local governments to construct the Silver Line.  He also led efforts to secure $900 million in federal funds for Phase I of the project.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $30,810,000 in federal funding to help Virginia schools purchase 81 clean and zero-emission school buses that will accelerate the transition to zero-emissions vehicles and produce cleaner air in communities across the Commonwealth. The funding, awarded through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Warner and Kaine helped pass last year.

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, school districts in Virginia are set to receive millions in funding for zero-emission and low-emission school buses that will help provide students with safe and reliable transportation to and from school,” said Senator Warner. “As we continue to look for ways to reduce pollution and combat climate change, I am glad to see this federal funding directed towards replacing old school buses with 21st century, eco-friendly equipment.”

“Virginia students deserve buses that won’t accelerate climate change and pollute the air in their communities. This is one of many examples of how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which I helped pass last year, is going to make a real difference for Virginians across the Commonwealth and help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m glad to see Virginia is receiving federal funding so that school districts can purchase more energy efficient school buses.”

A breakdown of the funding is as follows:

  • $7,900,000 for Carroll County Public Schools for the purchase of 20 buses.
  • $1,185,000 for Charlotte County Public Schools for the purchase of three buses.
  • $790,000 for Floyd County Public Schools for the purchase of two buses.
  • $1,185,000 for Franklin City Public Schools for the purchase of three buses.
  • $790,000 for Galax City Public Schools for the purchase of two buses.
  • $1,185,000 for Goochland County Public Schools for the purchase of three buses.
  • $1,580,000 for Grayson County Public Schools for the purchase of four buses.
  • $790,000 for Lee County Public Schools for the purchase of two buses.
  • $9,875,000 for Lynchburg City Public Schools for the purchase of 25 buses.
  • $790,000 for Nelson County Public Schools for the purchase of two buses.
  • $3,950,000 for Powhatan County Public Schools for the purchase of 10 buses.
  • $1,975,000 for Wise County Public Schools for the purchase of five buses

The Clean School Bus Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts, and produce cleaner air. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and cause them to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities. Phasing out these diesel engines will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, and school staff working near the bus loading areas, as well as the communities through which the buses drive each day.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced an agreement with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) that will allow for the opening of the Silver Line ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday:

“After brokering productive discussions with WMATA and Metro Safety Commission last week and over the weekend, we are pleased to see a plan that will allow more 7000 series cars back on the tracks ahead of the busy holiday season. This plan, if carefully followed, will allow the safe and timely opening of the Silver Line to Dulles by Thanksgiving, assuming the remaining routine matters are handled diligently. Once open, the Silver Line will alleviate road congestion and enhance access to economic, entertainment, and travel opportunities in the region—all without compromising rider safety. We look forward to continuing to work with WMATA and the Metro Safety Commission to provide oversight over the careful execution of this plan.”

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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 Department of Justice unsealed charges against Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intelligence officers who attempted to sabotage Huawei investigation:

“The charges announced today by the Department of Justice further illustrate Huawei’s inextricable ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its brazen but unsurprising disregard for the rule of law. The Intelligence Community has repeatedly warned about the economic and national security threats posed by Chinese telecommunications companies like Huawei, which are backed by the CCP and exploited in the interest of authoritarian goals and ambitions. I applaud the dedicated work of the Department of Justice and law enforcement officials, and I look forward to seeing any investigations against Huawei proceed unimpeded.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressing concern and requesting more information regarding Meta’s practice of collecting user’s health information through tracking applications.

In the letter, Sen. Warner highlighted the need for user privacy and increased transparency around how user data is collected online, which has become increasingly important as the use of telehealth appointments, online appointment booking, and electronic record keeping have risen exponentially over the course of the pandemic.

“As we increasingly move health care online, we must ensure there are strong safeguards in place surrounding the use of these technologies to protect sensitive health information,” wrote Sen. Warner.

Specifically, Sen. Warner called attention to Meta Pixel, a tracking tool that sends Meta a packet of data whenever a user clicks a button to schedule a doctor’s appointment – without the knowledge of the individual making the appointment.

He continued, “I am troubled by the recent revelation that the Meta Pixel was installed on a number of hospital websites – including password-protected patient portals – and sending sensitive health information to Meta when a patient scheduled an appointment online.  This data included highly personal health data, including patients’ medical conditions, appointment topics, physician names, email addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, and other details about patients’ medical appointments.”

Sen. Warner also noted allegations that this practice of data harvesting and collection has been used by Meta to target advertisements across their platforms. In August of this year, two lawsuits were filed against the company over the alleged unlawful collection and sharing of health data without consent.

To address these concerns, Sen. Warner requested Meta respond to the following questions:

  1. What information does Meta have access to or receive directly from the Meta Pixel, either currently or previously?
  2. How does Meta store information received through the Meta Pixel?
  3. Has information Meta received from the Meta Pixel ever been used to inform targeted advertisements on Meta’s platforms?
  4. How does Meta handle sensitive information that it receives from third parties that violate its business guidelines?
  5. What steps is Meta taking to safeguard sensitive health information, particularly with third-party vendors? Since the release of The Markup’s report in June, what additional steps have been taken?
  6. According to the report released by the New York State Department of Financial Services last year, Meta stated that the filtering system was “not yet operating with complete accuracy.” What improvements have been made to make the filtering system more effective? How is Meta testing and evaluating the filtering system’s ability to identify sensitive health information?
  7. Where required by law, does Meta always comply with any and all notification requirements when the Meta Pixel handles or transmits protected information, in the manner and time required by such laws?

Sen. Warner has been a leader in Congress pushing for increased transparency and protections surrounding user data and privacy. He introduced the DASHBOARD Act, which works to increase transparency around data collection; the DETOUR Act, which would prohibit companies like Meta from using deceptive dark patterns to manipulate users into handing over their data; and the Public Health Emergency Privacy Act, which would set strong and enforceable privacy and data security rights for health information.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

October 20, 2022

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:

I write to you today to express my concern regarding Meta’s collection of sensitive health information through the Meta Pixel tracking tool without user consent.

As you know, I have long worked to protect user privacy and increase transparency around how user data is collected and shared. This mission is more urgent than ever as the last two years have shown us the importance of health care technology, with many relying on electronic health records, online appointment booking, and virtual patient portals to receive care during the pandemic. As we increasingly move health care online, we must ensure there are strong safeguards in place surrounding the use of these technologies to protect sensitive health information.

I am troubled by the recent revelation that the Meta Pixel was installed on a number of hospital websites – including password-protected patient portals – and sending sensitive health information to Meta when a patient scheduled an appointment online.  This data included highly personal health data, including patients’ medical conditions, appointment topics, physician names, email addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, and other details about patients’ medical appointments. Additionally, of particular concern are the recent allegations that Meta has used Meta Pixel data to inform targeted advertisements on Meta’s platforms.  The use of the Meta Pixel is widespread, as the tool was installed in the systems of 33 of the top 100 hospitals in the country and inside the patient portals of seven health systems at the time of the investigation.

Unfortunately, privacy issues involving the Meta Pixel are not new, as there has been previous scrutiny of the Meta Pixel outside of the health care context. Reports published earlier this year found that the Pixel sent personal information to Meta that was collected from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the website of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office within the U.S. Department of Education.  Data sent to Meta includes applicant first and last name, email addresses, and zip codes. Additionally, this is not the first time that your company has been involved in the wrongful collection of sensitive health information. In 2021, an investigation by the New York State Department of Financial Services found that Meta (then Facebook) collected user data from several health and wellness apps, including results from blood pressure and heart rate readings, menstruation and fertility tracking, pregnancy status, and other deeply personal information. 

Meta’s own business guidelines state that the company “[doesn’t] want websites or apps sending [Meta] sensitive information about people,”  including sensitive health information, which Meta identifies as medical conditions, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, details regarding medical devices and trackers, treatments, test results, body specifications or cycles, locations of treatment, and other health-related data.  Yet, in this most recent case and as we have seen previously, Meta is continuing to access this highly sensitive information.

It is critical that technology companies like Meta take seriously their role in protecting user health data. Without meaningful action, I fear that these continuing privacy violations and harmful uses of health data could become the new status quo in health care and public health.

To address the concerns raised in this letter, I request that you provide responses to the following questions by November 3, 2022:

  1. What information does Meta have access to or receive directly from the Meta Pixel, either currently or previously?
  2. How does Meta store information received through the Meta Pixel?
  3. Has information Meta received from the Meta Pixel ever been used to inform targeted advertisements on Meta’s platforms?
  4. How does Meta handle sensitive information that it receives from third parties that violate its business guidelines?
  5. What steps is Meta taking to safeguard sensitive health information, particularly with third-party vendors? Since the release of The Markup’s report in June, what additional steps have been taken?
  6. According to the report released by the New York State Department of Financial Services last year, Meta stated that the filtering system was “not yet operating with complete accuracy.” What improvements have been made to make the filtering system more effective? How is Meta testing and evaluating the filtering system’s ability to identify sensitive health information?
  7. Where required by law, does Meta always comply with any and all notification requirements when the Meta Pixel handles or transmits protected information, in the manner and time required by such laws?

I look forward to your prompt responses.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement regarding the status of the Silver Line extension:

“The United States government, the Commonwealth of Virginia, local governments, taxpayers and commuters have spent billions to construct a state-of-the-art Silver Line. It’s taken decades to realize the dream of Metro service to Dulles and now travelers along the corridor can see tracks, gleaming new stations, and test trains moving along the route. All that remains is for WMATA and the Safety Commission to get their acts together and remember that they are not in existence to wage turf battles but to serve the transportation needs of area residents. We are making it clear to both agencies: it’s time to get this done.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $4,165,000 in federal funding for four economic development projects in Southwest Virginia.

“We are excited to support this investment in Southwest Virginia’s economic development. These funds will create jobs, increase recreational opportunities, improve public health, and make necessary advancements for Virginia’s underserved communities as we continue to support increasingly diverse local economies,” the Senators said.

The funding is broken down as follows:

  • $1,500,000 to Appalachian Sustainable Development for the Food Sector Workforce Development in Central Appalachia Project to address new opportunities and challenges facing agricultural producers and food processors across Southwest Virginia.
  • $1,500,000 to the New River Valley Regional Commission for the New River Water Trail Expansion Project to construct or improve four public launches along the New River Water Trail in Fairlawn, VA.
  • $665,000 to Henry County for the Dick & Willie Passage Trail 6A Completion Project to complete the last mile of an existing gap in the D&W Trail in Henry County, VA.
  • $500,000 to St. Mary’s Health Wagon for the Expansion of Dental Services for Central Appalachia Project to facilitate education and training of new dental professionals in Clintwood, Virginia.

This funding was awarded through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)'s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative. This initiative provides grants to communities that have been affected by severe job losses in the coal industry and the changing dynamics of America’s energy production.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for a fully funded ARC that can increase employment and economic opportunities in Appalachia 

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