Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined 44 of their Senate colleagues to introduce the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 to restore and strengthen the landmark Voting Rights Act

“There is no more sacred right as an American than the right to vote. Unfortunately, more than 50 years after the enactment of the landmark Voting Rights Act, and particularly after the Shelby County decision, many Americans still face barriers to fair participation in our elections,” said Warner. “This bill would restore the vital voter protections to ensure that all Americans have the unfettered access to the ballot box.”

“The right to vote is at the heart of American democracy, but hundreds of thousands of people are still denied that right today,” said Kaine. “More than 50 years after the original Voting Rights Act, Congress must not allow systematic disenfranchisement to continue to plague our elections. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort to protect voting rights and ensure voting is no longer treated as a privilege.”

In 2013, the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision gutted Section 5 of the landmark Voting Rights Act, consequently crippling the federal government’s ability to prevent discriminatory changes to state voting laws and procedures. In the wake of Shelby County, states across the country unleashed a torrent of voting restrictions that have made voting more difficult and systematically disenfranchised communities of color. The Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and modernize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, improve and modernize the landmark legislation, and provide the federal government with other critical tools to combat what has become a full-fledged assault on Americans’ right to vote.

Sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 is also cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tom Udall (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jon Tester (D-MT), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

The legislation is also supported by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center For Justice, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the Human Rights Campaign.

The full text of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 can be found here.

An outline of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 can be found here.

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PROVIDENCE FORGE, VA – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) attended the 67th annual Chickahominy Pow Wow over the weekend to celebrate the tribe's recently secured federal recognition. Sens. Warner and Tim Kaine, as well as Rep. Rob Wittman, passed legislation in January finally granting the tribe recognition centuries after the Chickahominy and five other Virginia tribes first made contact with  English settlers. Sen. Warner participated in the Pow Wow Grand Entry, a ceremony honoring veterans in attendance, and greeted the crowd of several hundred, alongside Chickahominy Chief Stephen R. Adkins, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Del. Lamont Bagby, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson and other local officials.

“It should not have taken 341 years to get federal recognition for the Chickahominy people, but I'm glad to be here celebrating this long overdue victory,” said Sen. Warner. “All of Virginia's tribes pay such respect to our country and to our veterans, and it was a moral slight that they did not have this recognition until this year. The day when Chief Adkins and the other chiefs of Virginia's tribes sat in the Senate gallery as we won federal recognition was one of my proudest days this year.”

"The Chickahominy are a sovereign nation within these United States," said Chief Adkins. "Federal recognition wouldn't have happened without Sen. Warner, Sen. Kaine, Congressman Wittman, their staffs and many others who worked on this bill. But as Sen. Warner remarked, there was a spiritual atmosphere in the Senate on the day the recognition bill passed. All of us know what that spirit is. So praise God, the Creator was on our side."

The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act was signed into law on January 29, 2018, after decades of bipartisan efforts by Virginia’s elected officials. Sens. Warner and Kaine secured final passage of the bill earlier that month. Six Virginia tribes—the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond— now have the federal recognition they have waited centuries for. Many of these tribes include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. These tribes had received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but had not received federal recognition, which will grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.

This federal recognition allows Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it allows tribes to:

  • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
  • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
  • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

For more information on the Chickahominy Pow Wow, you can visit the Chickahominy Tribe's website.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va. on August 11-12, 2017 that claimed the lives of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates:

“Today we remember the lives lost following the deadly rally that occurred a year ago in Charlottesville, when a group of white nationalists came to a peaceful Virginia town seeking to use hate and division to incite violence against fair-minded, innocent civilians. Their words and their actions betrayed President Lincoln’s appeal to ‘the better angels of our nature,’ forcing us to confront some of the demons that still plague our society today. These purveyors of hate and bigotry were emboldened to take their message public by a President who has refused to categorically and unequivocally condemn their message and actions in clear terms.

“Let us take a moment today to celebrate and honor the lives of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates. As we honor their memories, we must also continue to heal the racial wounds of our past. We must show that what sets us apart as citizens of this country are our values of respect, openness, and tolerance towards one another. Without that, we cannot fulfill the promise of a more perfect union.”

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One Year After Deadly Charlottesville Rally, Warner & Kaine Press DOJ for Updates on Combating Racial Hate

Letter presses the Administration on carrying out actions to combat hate crimes as outlined in joint resolution led last year by Warner and Kaine

Aug 10 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) wrote a letter to John Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ), pressing for more answers on how the Administration is implementing actions specifically outlined by S.J.Res.49, a joint resolution condemning racial hate and directing a coordinated federal effort to address hate violence, following the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va. on August 11 and August 12, 2017.

The bipartisan resolution introduced by Sens. Warner and Kaine along with Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), unanimously passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by President Trump on September 14, 2017. The resolution explicitly condemned white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups involved in prompting the deadly attack in Charlottesville, Va. that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer, injured several others, and led to the deaths of two Virginia state troopers responding to the violence. Additionally, the resolution outlined specific actions for the Administration to take to fight hate violence, including thoroughly investigating all acts of hate crimes and domestic terrorism by hate groups, and calling upon the Administration to “use all resources available to the President and the President's Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.”

Now, nearly one year after the bipartisan resolution was signed into law by President Trump, Sens. Warner and Kaine are pressing for answers on actions the Administration is taking - or not taking - to uphold the terms of the resolution calling for a coordinated federal effort to fight hate violence. 

“We are particularly interested if you have implemented, or plan to implement, the following: the creation of a task force dedicated to addressing hate violence, sufficient funding for civil rights offices, robust data collection procedures to document the prevalence and nature of hate crimes in the U.S., a federal website on hate violence to convene resources and communicate effectively to the public, the development of incentives for participation in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crime Statistics Act reports, increased training and education for jurisdictions that underreport hate crimes, and the use of grants to promote strong enforcement on these issues,” wrote the Senators.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

 

John M. Gore
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Acting Assistant Attorney General Gore:

Nearly one year has passed since the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia between August 11 and August 12, 2017. As the one year anniversary of that tragedy approaches, we write regarding the progress made by the Department of Justice in carrying out the actions called for in S.J.Res.49, a joint resolution condemning that event.

President Trump signed the resolution into law (P.L. 115-58) on September 14, 2017. As Virginia’s Senators, we led the effort that unanimously passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by the President. The legislation rejects White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and other hate groups, and urges action from the President and his administration to combat this growing threat.

Specifically, the law urges the Attorney General to work with “the Secretary of Homeland Security to investigate thoroughly all acts of violence, intimidation, and domestic terrorism by these groups to determine if any criminal laws have been violated and to prevent those groups from fomenting and facilitating additional violence.” Further, the law directs the Attorney General to collaborate with “the heads of other Federal agencies to improve the reporting of hate crimes and to emphasize the importance of the collection, and the reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of hate crime data by State and local agencies.”

More broadly, the law directs the administration to use all available resources to address the growing prevalence of hate groups.

Given the direction provided to the Department of Justice in this legislation, we request that you provide our offices an update within 30 days of receipt of this letter on activities that you have undertaken in furtherance of the provisions of S.J. Res 49, as well as a full report on the multi-agency efforts on hate crimes data collection.

As you implement this request, we are particularly interested if you have implemented, or plan to implement, the following: the creation of a task force dedicated to addressing hate violence, sufficient funding for civil rights offices, robust data collection procedures to document the prevalence and nature of hate crimes in the U.S., a federal website on hate violence to convene resources and communicate effectively to the public, the development of incentives for participation in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crime Statistics Act reports, increased training and education for jurisdictions that underreport hate crimes, and the use of grants to promote strong enforcement on these issues.

We appreciate your attention on this important matter and look forward to your response within 30 days.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined more than two hundred of their Senate and House colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar expressing opposition to the implementation of a domestic gag rule on Title X, the only federal grant program solely dedicated to family planning and related preventive services. This new gag rule would interfere with doctors’ ability to provide patients information about reproductive care. According to reports, President Trump could direct HHS to implement the rule as early as this month. 

Each year, roughly four million people rely on Title X-funded health centers for basic preventive health care, including cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted infection screenings, pregnancy testing, and well-woman exams that include breast and pelvic examinations along with a pap smear. In Virginia, more than 140 health centers rely on Title X funding. In keeping with longstanding legal, ethical and medical standards of health care, Title X providers can offer patients medically accurate counseling on and referrals for all pregnancy options-including parenting, adoption, and abortion.

"The domestic gag rule would bar patients from receiving information to support their ability to make informed decisions about their own reproductive health," wrote the Senators. "We strongly oppose efforts to undermine the integrity of the Title X program and harm the millions of people who rely on it for care. Federal health policy should be evidence-based and produced with the best interests of patients in mind."

Reinstatement of the gag rule, which has never been fully implemented, would be President Trump's latest attempt to fulfill his pledge to "defund Planned Parenthood," whose health centers serve 40 percent of the patients who go to Title X for contraceptive care. If Planned Parenthood were eliminated as a Title X-funded provider, other Title X-funded health centers would have to expand their contraceptive caseloads by an average of 70 percent. The move would disproportionately impact communities of color, the uninsured, and low-income individuals, and could reverse progress made in critical areas. Title X has helped women avoid 822,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 387,000 unplanned births and 278,000 abortions. Title X also yields critical cost savings to the American healthcare system - every dollar invested in Title X saves more than seven dollars in Medicaid-related costs.

Nearly two-thirds of Title X patients have incomes at or below the federal poverty level, and 43 percent of patients are uninsured. In 2016, nearly 4,000 Title X-funded health centers provided 720,000 Pap tests, nearly one million women with breast exams, and 1.2 million HIV tests. Title X providers offer confidential, medically accurate, and evidence-based care. Implementing a domestic gag rule would do enormous harm to the millions of patients across the country who count on the high standard of medical care provided by these health centers.

The full text of the Senate letter can be found here and below. 

Dear Secretary Azar,

We are writing today in support of the Title X family planning program (Title X) and to express our strong opposition to any changes to Title X that would restrict access to affordable, high-quality and lifesaving reproductive healthcare in communities across the country.

Title X is the nation’s only federal program dedicated to providing family planning services to low-income and otherwise underserved individuals. Each year, roughly four million women, men, and adolescents rely on Title X-funded health centers for basic preventive health care, including cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings, pregnancy testing, and well-woman exams. Nearly two-thirds of Title X patients have incomes at or below the federal poverty level, and 43% of patients are uninsured. In 2016, nearly 4,000 Title X-funded health centers performed 720,000 Pap tests, provided nearly one million women with breast exams, and administered 1.2 million HIV tests. Title X providers offer confidential, medically accurate, and evidence-based care, ensuring that patients receive the highest standard of medical care.

In addition to providing care to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals, Title X yields critical cost savings to the American healthcare system. Every dollar invested in Title X saves more than seven dollars in Medicaid-related costs. By helping individuals obtain the preventive services they need, Title X advances the health and well-being of individuals, families and our nation as a whole while saving taxpayer dollars in the process.

In keeping with longstanding legal, ethical and medical standards of healthcare, Title X providers offer patients medically accurate counseling on and referrals for all pregnancy options—including parenting, adoption and abortion. The Title X program has never funded abortion services at its health centers. Health centers that receive Title X to provide family planning care may also separately provide abortions using non-federal funds. 

In spite of the critical role that Title X-funded health centers play in promoting the health and wellbeing of millions of people, President Trump may seek to dramatically reduce the reach of Title X by reinstating the “domestic gag rule,” which was first issued under the Reagan administration but was never fully implemented.  This “gag rule” would bar patients from receiving information to support their ability to make informed decisions about their own reproductive health. This means that the millions of patients who obtain care at Title X-funded health centers annually would be denied the ability to receive complete and accurate information about their medical options, including counseling on, and referrals, for abortion. On top of the ban on counseling and referrals, the “gag rule” would impose additional requirements intended to bar providers from participating in Title X that also separately provide abortion services. 

Calls to reinstate these policies directly acknowledge this effort as an opportunity for President Trump to fulfill his pledge to “defund Planned Parenthood,” whose health centers remain an essential part of the family planning safety net, serving 40 percent of Title X patients. In reality, other providers of Title X-funded care would face immense challenges in attempting to absorb the patients that would lose access to care if Planned Parenthood were eliminated as a Title X-funded provider. According to recent analyses, other Title X-funded providers would have to expand their contraceptive caseloads by an average of 70 percent just to maintain access to contraceptive care at current levels. 

A “domestic gag rule” would have a devastating impact on the overall Title X network and the millions of individuals who rely on it for care. This move would disproportionately impact communities of color, the uninsured, and low-income individuals, and it could reverse progress made in critical areas. For example, unintended pregnancy rates in the U.S.—including those among teenagers—have been declining.  We cannot threaten to reverse this progress by crippling Title X: in 2015 alone, the contraceptive services supported by Title X helped women to avoid 822,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 387,000 unplanned births and 278,000 abortions.

We strongly oppose efforts to undermine the integrity of the Title X program and harm the millions of people who rely on it for care. Federal health policy should be evidence-based and produced with the best interests of patients in mind.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) today requested that Bureau of Indian Affairs schedule a briefing as soon as possible with six newly federally recognized tribes in Virginia so that they can fully understand what benefits and resources will now be available to them after a successful, decades-long effort to secure federal recognition. Congress last month passed and the president signed into law H.R. 984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017, which for the first time grants federal recognition to six Virginia tribes.

“As new federally recognized tribes, the Chickahominy, the Chickahominy - Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond, have a right to understand all the benefits and resources that are available to them under this designation,” wrote the members in a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, whose Department oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

 The tribes had received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but until now had not received federal recognition, which will grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. It also allows the tribes to:

  • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
  • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
  • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

“Now, after many years, these individuals have the opportunity to fully reclaim their heritage and take advantage of a designation that has been withheld from them for far too long,” Sen. Warner, Sen. Kaine and Rep. Wittman wrote. “Due to the amount of time it has taken these tribes to acquire federal recognition status, we are requesting that this briefing take place as soon as possible, so these tribes can appropriately plan for the next year and beyond. We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.”

The text of today’s letter appears below.

 

February 7, 2018

 

The Honorable Ryan Zinke

Secretary

United States Department of Interior

1849 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20240

 

Dear Secretary Zinke:

We write today to request a comprehensive briefing on federal recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for the six newly federally recognized tribes in Virginia. As new federally recognized tribes, the Chickahominy, the Chickahominy—Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond, have a right to understand all the benefits and resources that are available to them under this designation.

After nearly twenty years of inaction, Congress passed the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 (H.R.984) on January 11, 2018. President Donald J. Trump signed this historic bill into law on January 29, 2018. This legislation grants federal recognition status to six Virginia tribes, whose ancestors played a pivotal role in our nation’s history. All the aforementioned tribes are recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and several were a part of the oldest recognized treaty in the country – the Treaty of Middle Plantation (1677).

While these six Virginia Indian tribes were formally recognized by the British and the Commonwealth of Virginia, they were not able to attain formal recognition status by the United States government for decades. Many of the tribes’ official documents were destroyed in the burning of Virginia’s courthouses during the Civil War, and the remnants of their records were lost through the passage of a Virginia law, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which almost erased the identities of these tribes. Now, after many years, these individuals have the opportunity to fully reclaim their heritage and take advantage of a designation that has been withheld from them for far too long.

Due to the amount of time it has taken these tribes to acquire federal recognition status, we are requesting that this briefing take place as soon as possible, so these tribes can appropriately plan for the next year and beyond. We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner celebrated the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 finally being signed into law, after decades of bipartisan efforts by Virginia’s elected officials. Kaine and Warner secured final passage of the bill earlier this month. Six Virginia tribes—the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond—will now have the federal recognition they have waited centuries for. Many of these tribes include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. These tribes had received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but had not received federal recognition, which will grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.

“Today closes a chapter on a decades-long pursuit of justice for Virginia’s tribes,” the Senators said. “Virginia’s tribes have loved and served this nation, and today our country is finally honoring them with the recognition they deserve. We are inspired by the tribes’ leaders who never gave up and thankful to our colleagues Representatives Connolly, Beyer, and Scott, and Wittman for working with us to ensure this was the year that we righted a historical wrong.”

This federal recognition allows Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it allows tribes to:

· Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
· Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
· Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner secured final passage of the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017. Once signed by the President, the legislation will grant federal recognition of six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. Many of these include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. Kaine and Warner worked with Democratic and Republican colleagues to ensure that the bill made it through to final passage. These tribes had received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but had not received federal recognition, which will grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. 

U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives from Virginia have pushed for federal recognition since the 1990s, with Senators George Allen and John Warner first introducing this legislation in the Senate in 2002. Kaine and Warner introduced this legislation in the Senate in the 113thand 114th Congresses, and Warner had introduced it in prior Congresses.

“This is about Virginia tribes that were here and encountered the English when they arrived in [Jamestown] in 1607, the tribes of Pocahontas and other wonderful Virginians. They are living tribes, never recognized by the federal government for a series of reasons. . . . It's a fundamental issue of respect, and fairly acknowledging a historical record, and a wonderful story of tribes that are living, thriving and surviving and are a rich part of our heritage. This is a happy day to stand up on their behalf,” Senator Kaine said on the Senate floor ahead of passage. 

“We and some of the folks who are in the gallery today were not sure this day would ever come, but even here in the United States Congress and the United States Senate, occasionally we get things right. And boy, oh, boy, this is a day where we get things right on a civil rights basis, on a moral basis, on a fairness basis, and to our friends who are representatives of some of the six tribes who are finally going to be granted federal recognition, we want to say thank you for their patience, their perseverance, their willingness to work with us and others,” Senator Warner said on the Senate floor ahead of passage. 

This version, which originated in the House of Representatives and was introduced by Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman, passed in the House unanimously in May. 

Congressman Wittman said, “Today we have taken a critical step forward in correcting the Federal Government’s failure to recognize the ‘first contact' tribes of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Decades in the making, federal recognition will acknowledge and protect historical and cultural identities of these tribes for the benefit of all Americans. It will also affirm the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Virginia tribes, and help create opportunities to enhance and protect the well-being of tribal members. I want to thank Senators Kaine and Warner for their support to give these tribes the recognition they have long deserved.”

Once signed by the President, federal recognition will allow Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it would allow tribes to: 

  • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
  • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
  • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

These tribal leaders were in attendance in the Senate Gallery for the vote:

  • W. Frank Adams, Chief, Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe
  • Stephen R. Adkins, Chief, Chickahominy Indian Tribe
  • Wayne B. Adkins, Chair of VITAL
  • Dean Branham, Chief, Monacan Nation
  • Lee Lockamy, Chief Nansemond Indian Tribe
  • Frank Richardson, representing Chief Anne Richardson, Rappahannock Tribe
  • Gerald A. Stewart, Assistant Chief, Eastern Chickahominy Indian Tribe 

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