WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $1,941,340 in federal funding to promote increased safety for Virginia drivers and motorists.
“Last year, we saw nearly 5,000 crashes and 100 fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles on Virginia’s roads. We are pleased to know that these federal dollars will go towards promoting greater safety on roadways and helping prevent future tragedies,” said the Senators.
The funding will be distributed as follows:
- $105,807 for Chesterfield County to help reduce the number of overall commercial motor vehicle (CMV)-related crashes by funding overtime enforcement in high-crash corridors throughout the county.
- $614,871 for Virginia Tech to increase knowledge of safe driving practices among drivers, including newly licensed teens and older adults. This funding will allow Virginia Tech to conduct in-class demonstrations in 80 high school driver education programs between the fall of 2022 and the spring of 2024. It will also enable Virginia Tech to conduct monthly outreach for the Tips for Sharing the Road with Commercial Motor Vehicles website and conduct two seminars for American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) volunteer driver education instructors. Additionally, it will allow Virginia Tech to work with AARP communications and roadway safety teams to develop a series of articles covering the key strategies for sharing the road with trucks.
- $180,328 for Chesterfield County to increase the understanding of the factors that contribute to CMV crashes in Virginia and support traffic enforcement decisions to reduce CMV crashes. As part of this project, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) will conduct a CMV crash corridor and crash causation analysis. Following this analysis, VTTI will conduct a pilot test of traffic enforcement to try to reduce the contributing factors in one of the identified CMV crash corridors.
- $1,040,334 for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to enhance crash data analysis by improving and increasing the reporting of data. This data will be used to evaluate program effectiveness, identify problems and trends, help target spending, and ultimately reduce the number of CMV crashes currently occurring on Virginia roadways.
These grants were awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s High Priority Grant program – a competitive grant program designed to provide federal financial assistance to carry out activities and projects that augment motor carrier safety.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the statement below after the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced a critical step in enacting a Warner-authored law that would require companies who are responsible for U.S. critical infrastructure to report cybersecurity incidents to the government.
“I’m excited to see CISA move forward with implementing this cybersecurity law, which will help us counter the growing threat of cyberattacks against our institutions and allies. This is an important effort to shore up our nation’s information security and I’m glad to see CISA act with the urgency it merits. I encourage stakeholders to participate in this process and look forward to seeing CISA continue to move expeditiously to adopt these vital safeguards.”
Specifically, CISA announced a series of public listening sessions as well as a Request for Information (RFI) – both of which seek to collect input from the public in order to help develop proposed regulations required by the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022.
Sep 09 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) announced $46.256 million in federal funding for the Virginia Department of Health Office of Drinking Water. The funding will go towards the replacement of lead service lines throughout Virginia in order to protect public health by reducing the amount of lead in Virginia’s drinking water.
“As we have seen with the situation in Jackson, Mississippi, maintaining our water infrastructure is critical for the health and safety of our communities. We are glad to see these federal funds go towards necessary infrastructure improvements that will replace lead water systems in the Commonwealth,” said the Senators.
This funding was awarded through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine.
Warner, Kaine & McEachin Celebrate New Funding for Petersburg/Richmond Made Possible By the American Rescue Plan
Sep 08 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) celebrated $52.9 million in funding from the federal government for the Petersburg/Richmond region to support job creation and increase American independence from foreign drug manufacturers.
This funding was recently awarded through the Economic Development Administration and funded by the American Rescue Plan, which was supported by the three lawmakers and passed through the Senate by a vote of 50 – 49 and the House by a vote of 220 – 211.
“The American Rescue Plan is the gift that keeps on giving – this time with $52.9 million that will go towards establishing Central Virginia as a hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing. This unparalleled federal investment will help boost American production of essential drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients while creating 21st century jobs for Virginians and tackling our nation’s dangerous overreliance on foreign supply chains for medicines,” said the lawmakers.
The Virginia Advanced Pharma Manufacturing (APM) and R&D Cluster – led by the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority– is one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge – the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. The projects funded as part of this award include expanding a nascent pharmaceutical manufacturing corridor in Central Virginia through investment in new wet lab space, development of critical infrastructure to sustain industrial capacity in Petersburg, and engagement with local business to enhance the regional pharmaceutical supply chain. The project will also catalyze a new partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia State University to create new pathways for underserved residents to high-quality training and jobs in the pharmaceutical industry.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) is an unprecedented competitive federal grant program that provides each regional coalition with significant investments to tackle a wide variety of projects – including entrepreneurial support, workforce development, infrastructure, and innovation – to drive inclusive economic growth. Each coalition’s collection of projects aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters – all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. Projects span 24 states and include $87 million to two primarily Tribal coalitions and over $150 million for projects serving communities impacted by the declining use of coal.
Sen. Warner helped negotiate portions of the American Rescue Plan and directly advocated for this project. In March, he sat down with the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority and other pharmaceutical industry professionals for a roundtable discussion on the need to manufacture more prescription drugs in Virginia.
While on Richmond City Council, Sen. Kaine played a major role in the formation and growth of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority, served on its board when he was Mayor of Richmond, and appointed board members while he was Governor. In addition to advocating for the American Rescue Plan, which provided the funding for the EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge, Sen. Kaine specifically advocated for this project to win this grant. He also visited the project’s facilities in Richmond and Petersburg in April of this year.
Rep. McEachin proudly supported the American Rescue Plan and engaged with the Biden administration throughout the BBBRC application and selection process in support of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority. He sent multiple letters to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo advocating for this project and held briefings with relevant stakeholders to keep them apprised of developments and receive timely updates.
Warner Joins Hickenlooper, Fischer, Peters, Lummis in Urging Senate to Shore Up ‘Rip & Replace’ Program, Protect Rural Networks from Chinese Threats
Sep 08 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and more than 30 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership in support of closing the $3 billion funding shortfall impacting the Secure & Trusted Communications Networks Act’s Reimbursement Program. The shortfall leaves wireless networks—often in rural areas—vulnerable to espionage or disruption.
Due to security concerns, in 2020 the FCC prohibited the purchase of equipment manufactured by Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE and also prohibited the use of FCC-administered funds to expand or maintain networks with Huawei or ZTE equipment already present.
The reimbursement program helps small telecommunications providers remove and replace suspect Chinese network equipment manufactured by Huawei and ZTE. If the funding shortfall for the program is not closed, the FCC will not be able to fully cover the costs of removing, disposing, and replacing suspect network equipment which will leave U.S. wireless networks vulnerable to espionage and disruption.
“The highest priority class of telecommunications providers in the Reimbursement Program serve the most rural areas of the United States where wireless connectivity is a vital lifeline to accessing telehealth services, receiving emergency notifications, and participating in the 21st century economy,” wrote the Senators.
The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act was enacted in 2020 and given a $1.9 billion appropriation for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help small network providers remove and replace high-risk network equipment. While the initial $1.9 billion was based on a voluntary survey of possible costs small network providers would incur, supply chain disruptions and additional program requirements (such as proper disposal of suspect equipment) added to the overall costs within the Reimbursement Program.
“The bipartisan Senate support – thirty-four Senators! – in favor of a well-resourced Reimbursement Program sends a clear message, and I applaud the letter signatories, especially Senators Hickenlooper, Fischer, Peters, and Lummis, for their leadership on this critical national security issue. The funding shortfall must be addressed as soon as possible to ensure eligible small and rural carriers are adequately reimbursed for costs associated with removing, destroying, and replacing affected equipment. These carriers serve some of the most rural and hard-to-reach places across the country and, without adequate reimbursements, their ability to provide ongoing service to customers is seriously jeopardized,” said Steven K. Berry, president and CEO, Competitive Carriers Association (CCA).
Text of the letter is available here and below.
Dear Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell,
We write to express our support for the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Reimbursement Program under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (Secure Networks Act). The program’s success is critical to maintaining network resiliency in Rural America and our national security. Since the Secure Networks Act was signed into law in 2020, Congress has appropriated $1.9 billion to support the FCC’s ongoing implementation of the Secure Networks Act and the establishment of the Reimbursement Program to reimburse eligible small and rural telecommunications providers for costs associated with removing, destroying, and replacing “threats to the security of our nation’s communications networks posed by certain communications equipment providers.”
On February 4, 2022, the FCC announced providers, using guidance provided by the FCC, had requested close to $5.6 billion to remove and replace equipment in their networks—nearly three times more than a previous projection for the Reimbursement Program and creating a significant financial shortfall of $3.7 billion. On July 15, 2022, the FCC informed Congress that following an extensive review of applications submitted under the Reimbursement Program, the amount of supplemental funding needed to fully fund approved cost estimates is $3.08 billion. Pursuant to the Secure Networks Act, a funding shortfall requires the FCC issue a pro-rated reimbursement to eligible telecommunications providers—resulting in only 39.5% of funding for approved costs allocated for reimbursement.
The highest priority class of telecommunications providers in the Reimbursement Program serve the most rural areas of the United States where wireless connectivity is a vital lifeline to accessing telehealth services, receiving emergency notifications, and participating in the 21st century economy. Due to significant national security risks to U.S. communications infrastructure, the FCC has already prohibited monies from the Universal Service Fund (USF) from supporting the maintenance or expansion of any wireless network that has covered equipment from Huawei and ZTE present. While these actions are necessary, small rural wireless telecommunications providers rely upon USF funds, and rural America faces a perilous situation. Currently, rural wireless carriers may not maintain, service, or upgrade networks with USF with Huawei and ZTE equipment still present. We are jeopardizing vital communications networks nationwide and our national security.
Recognizing the importance of a well-resourced Reimbursement Program to maintaining critical telecommunications service in rural communities, we are committed to working with you on legislative solutions to promptly provide the financial resources necessary to mitigate national security vulnerabilities emanating from network equipment manufactured by untrusted companies such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to working with you to find a swift solution.
WASHINGTON – Last week, Sen. Warner hit the road, making 14 stops across Southwest and Southside Virginia to highlight a wealth of accomplishments from a session of Congress that he believes “will be looked back upon as one of the most productive years – literally – since the 1960s.”
From Wise to Washington to Wythe, and everywhere in between, Sen. Warner met Virginians, talking to kids about biscuits and civic engagement… to education leaders about access to high-speed internet… and to residents and volunteers about the devastation caused by flooding in Buchanan County. He also toured revitalization efforts in downtown Danville… sat down with community leaders to discuss manufacturing expansion opportunities in New River Valley… and even exchanged famous recipes with Russell County’s very own Linda Skeens, who won an astounding number of ribbons at the Virginia-Kentucky State Fair earlier this year. Rumor has it that Ms. Skeens has even agreed to include Sen. Warner’s tuna melt recipe in her upcoming cookbook.
Sen. Warner also proudly delivered millions in federal funding for very worthy projects that seek to improve access to rural health and dental care, as well as tackle food insecurity and substance use disorder. He also discussed and answered questions pertaining to some major accomplishments out of Washington, including his landmark infrastructure law, his law to restore American technological leadership and manufacturing of semiconductors, and President Biden’s recent signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, which lowers prescription drug costs, closes tax loopholes for billionaire corporations, and provides financial security for miners by extending the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate.
Bristol Herald Courier: Senator Warner's visit to Wise County Health Wagon is worth $1.25 million
WISE, Va. – U.S. Sen. Mark Warner looked around the most quiet Wise County Fairgrounds Monday and remembered more hectic times.
Warner, D-Va., returned to the fairgrounds – longtime host site of Remote Area Medical clinics -- to formally present $1.25 million to the Health Wagon for construction of its new dental clinic.
“The reason why this fairgrounds is so special, it was 2002 – the first year I was governor – and I’d heard about what you guys were doing here,” Warner said prior to the check presentation. “I remember dentists from all over the commonwealth, but who was going to show up? It ended up being thousands and thousands of people – not only Southwest Virginia but from Michigan, from Florida – driving for days just to come here and get dental assistance.”
Warner returned many times, brought each of his children to help volunteer and had his Senate staff members come from across the state to volunteer so they better understood the issues.
“The memories I have are of hot days, 60-70 chairs at once where people were being taken care of,” he said. “One of the things that was so typical of Southwest was it was people caring for people. No matter how much crummy stuff was going on in the country or around the world, you could not come to the whole effort and not come away with a belief in the basic goodness of people.”
Similar efforts – on a lesser scale -- are underway at the fairgrounds for much of this week. About 100 military personnel and volunteer dentists and other health care providers are offering free health care, X-rays, dental care and vision screenings. Similar to RAM, the event is the Move Mountains medical mission. Appointments are required, but there is no charge for care.
“What’s happening at the fairgrounds is great. It is not a permanent, long-term solution,” Warner said. “
The $1.25 million in Congressionally designated spending will go toward construction of the Health Wagon’s new dental clinic, now being built in Wise.
Martinsville Bulletin: Stuart hospital to reopen in 2023; two mobile health units coming to Patrick Co. soon
The Stuart hospital that closed in 2017 has an aggressive timeline of being reopened in 2023 with the help of a bipartisan effort between Virginia officials and a $600,000 check to better the health care available in Patrick County with the addition of two mobile medical units.
Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick in Stuart closed in 2017 after filing for bankruptcy in 2016 due to financial hardships. A crowd of over 30 people gathered to hear the official announcement of the reopening.
“At this time last year, we were a county that didn’t have a hospital or even one on the horizon and had extremely limited means of providing adequate health care to our citizens, tourists and local businesses,” Patrick County Director of Economic Development Sean Adkins said. “Fast forward to today, and we stand at the site of our future Foresight Hospital of Patrick County opening in 2023.”
“This is a team effort,” Warner (D-Va.) said. “Patrick County is a special place … Getting these hospitals reopened is an enormous, enormous challenge and what your delegate [Virginia Delegate Wren Williams (R-9th District)] did, the process … was expedited. This would not be happening anywhere near this time without his good work.”
“Over the last 25 years, there have been close to a thousand rural hospitals that have closed across America,” Warner said. “And there have been virtually none that have reopened … There will be federal hurdles that we’ve got to go over … This is a very aggressive timeline … But the idea of getting this hospital reopened by 2023, ambitious, but you’ve got our commitment that we’ll do our part in the federal stage.”
Coalfield Progress: Senator talks health care, brings funding
WISE — U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and state Sen. Todd Pillion discussed the area’s dental services, insulin prices and black lung benefits Monday when visiting The Health Wagon’s Move Mountains Medical Mission.
Roughly 100 Army, Navy and Air Force medical personnel were on site to render medical service as part of an Innovative Readiness Training program.
Warner thanked the troops for protecting the country, which involves providing medical assistance to those in need, he said.
Health Wagon CEO Teresa Tyson said dental work has seen the highest demand, with more than 1,600 procedures performed since the start of the mission, Aug. 15.
The General Assembly recently improved the reimbursement rates for dentists providing Medicaid services for the first time in 17 years, said Pillion, and this momentum needs to continue.
Warner later presented Health Wagon officials a $1.25 million check to build a new dental office, which is currently under construction. Warner and U.S. Sen Tim Kaine secured the money through Congress' member-directed funding policy.
Warner said insulin prices need to be capped and that if the Democrats win the majority in the November congressional elections, the effort to achieve this will be renewed.
The $35 cap on insulin copays for Medicare beneficiaries should extend to everyone, Warner said.
While mentioning the exponentially increasing rate of black lung in young miners, Warner said the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act establishes black lung benefits on a permanent basis.
The act includes a permanent extension of the Black Lung Excise Tax, which is the only revenue source for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.
RICHLANDS, Va. – U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D – Va.) came to Richlands Monday on the heels of a string on legislative victories that has transformed a stalled Democratic agenda to a series of accomplishments the senator could tout to constituents.
He said the major infrastructure bill has money that should allow 98% of Southwest Virginia homes to have high speed internet at a rate of less than $35 per month by 2024-2025.
Warner said miners and their families now have Black Lung benefits guaranteed thanks to legislation introduced by him and Joe Manchin.
He said the U.S. is going to do what Canada and other countries do and use the power of negotiation to bring down the cost of medicine. Warner said the hope is to get the cost of insulin below $35 for senior citizens right away and eventually for everyone.
Warner spoke with State Senator Travis Hackworth about the need for affordable housing. Hackworth said the area from New River Valley down has a projection of 10,000 new jobs but the biggest drawback is the need for affordable housing.
He said the people of Ukraine have given him hope and restored his faith that we have the best system of government.
“The people In Ukraine have said we will sacrifice our lives to have the kind of system you have. The right to vote, the right to a free press and the right to disagree with each other,” Warner said.
Bristol Herald Courier: Warner aims to bring microchip production back to America
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner made stops in Marion and Wytheville Tuesday on a three-day tour of Southwest and Southside Virginia to talk with community leaders.
Among the topics at the forefront of the conversation were the state of the manufacturing industry, improving Virginia’s infrastructure and Warner’s CHIPS bill.
At both stops Warner touted the recent passing of what he called a “once in a generation infrastructure law.”
“What does that mean for Virginia? It means $8 billion for our road system… it means rail all the way to Christiansburg, and I’m committed as long as I have this job to making sure that rail system goes all the way to Bristol. It means money for all the airports… It means resources for water and sewer.”
The package also includes $65 billion to improve broadband access, an effort Virginia has already begun to tackle.
Warner also discussed his bill to increase semiconductor production in the U.S., saying the supply chain issues with the chips are a contributing factor to high inflation, particularly with the price of vehicles.
“We have tens of thousands of cars that American auto companies have made,” Warner said. “They are sitting in lots in Michigan and Ohio and can’t get to market because we don’t make enough semi-conductor chips.”
Thirty to 40 years ago, Warner said, the U.S. made about 40% of all semiconductor chips in the world.
“Now we make 12%,” Warner said.
He said the U.S. doesn’t make the cutting-edge chips used in advanced technology, airplanes or satellites.
“They’re made in China. They’re made in Taiwan. And I can assure you, as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, it is a national security risk if we don’t bring that semiconductor manufacturing back to this country,” Warner said.
Richmond Times Dispatch: Chesterfield, Henrico, 2 other Va. localities vie for semiconductor chip sites
Hadis Morkoc, a professor of electrical engineering and physics, led a tour Thursday at VCU’s Virginia Microelectronics Center for a group that included Sen. Mark Warner.
Four local governments — including Chesterfield and Henrico counties — are pitching potential sites for large semiconductor chip factories to take advantage of a new federal law that dangles billions of dollars of incentives to return manufacturing of the critical microelectronic component to the United States.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., one of the principal authors of the CHIPS + Science Act that President Joe Biden signed into law on Aug. 9, convened a roundtable discussion in Richmond on Thursday to showcase sites that the state is marketing to attract big investments by manufacturers eager to take advantage of $40 billion in new federal subsidies for domestic production of semiconductor chips.
“I think Virginia is going to be very competitive,” Warner said in an interview after the meeting and a tour of the Virginia Microelectronics Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. “But we have to realize that certain states at this point are a bit ahead.”
“We’re going to have to put up incentive packages that are frankly much larger than we have in the past,” he said, citing competition from states such as Ohio, Texas, Arizona and New York.
The 90-minute meeting included big county delegations led by Chesterfield County Administrator Joe Casey and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas as well as representatives for other potential semiconductor chip manufacturing sites in Pittsylvania County, outside of Danville, and Chesapeake in southeastern Virginia.
Virginia Business: Va. officials woo chip manufacturers
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and state and local economic development officials are vying to attract semiconductor chip manufacturing facilities to four Virginia industrial sites as the commonwealth gears up to fight for a piece of the financial pie from sweeping federal legislation that promises to ramp up chip production in the U.S.
Representatives of Chesterfield, Henrico and Pittsylvania counties and the cities of Chesapeake and Danville joined with Warner, Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Jason El Koubi and Micron Technology Inc.’s senior vice president and general counsel, Rob Beard, Thursday during a meeting at Virginia Commonwealth University to discuss how to make Virginia more competitive. Officials from VCU and Virginia Tech also attended the meeting, which was closed to the press and public.
The meeting coincided with President Joe Biden issuing an executive order Thursday to kickstart the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act, calling for swift implementation of a component of the bill that provides $52.7 billion in funding for domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research. Biden’s executive order establishes an interagency steering council to coordinate implementation of that funding, co-chaired by National Economic Director Brian Deese, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Alondra Nelson, the acting director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
It was initially introduced in 2020 in an earlier form by Warner, Virginia’s Democratic senior senator, and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn; the act was passed by Congress this summer and Biden signed it into law on Aug. 9.
According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the U.S.’s share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has decreased from 37% in 1990 to 12% today because other nations have been outpacing the U.S. in investing in the industry.
As chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Warner has been outspoken about the need for domestic chip manufacturing. It’s a refrain he returned to Thursday as he toured labs at VCU’s C. Kenneth and Dianne Harris Wright Virginia Microelectronics Center.
“We’ve seen over the last 30 years, America dominated this industry to now … we only make about 12%,” Warner said. “And America, on the manufacturing side, we don’t make any of the cutting-edge chips.”
‘In the hunt’
Several sites in Virginia offer the space needed for the potential manufacture of semiconductors, which can require up to 1,000 acres, Warner said. A likely location for a new plant could be found in rural Southern or Southwestern Virginia.
While there may be shovel-ready sites to lure manufacturers, those locations alone might not be enough.
New York, Texas, Arizona and Ohio have “really raised the bar in going after semiconductors,” Romanello said.
To compete, Virginia needs to offer greater incentives.
“One of the things I think Virginia is going to need to do is both have sites prepared but also be willing to put more resources into these packages if we’re going to be competitive,” Warner said, citing New York’s corporate subsidy of up to $10 billion in tax credits for “green” semiconductor manufacturers over a 20-year period, enacted on Aug. 11, among other states’ incentives.
Beyond attracting the major chip manufacturers, officials told Virginia Business they’re looking at the entire semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem, which includes the supply chain for components and related materials. And that provides even more opportunities, El Koubi said.
“We are both looking at opportunities for Virginia to attract the semiconductor [fabrication] opportunities themselves for large semiconductor plants, but we’re also looking at ways to cultivate the ecosystem, building on Virginia’s existing strengths in the semiconductor space,” he said.
Those strengths include close to 30 companies in the semiconductor industry — providing production, equipment testing, construction and other services — and an advanced manufacturing and related industries workforce numbering almost 350,000.
Warner wants to see Virginia increase its capacity to manufacture the tools and equipment that go onto the “fab floors.” That’s a niche that has not yet been co-opted by Asian countries that otherwise dominate the semiconductor industry.
Danville Register & Bee: Swinging through Danville, Warner tours downtown, praises growth
Sen. Mark Warner made a stop in Danville on Wednesday afternoon, where he toured the River District and dropped by a few businesses.
Warner’s visit was part of the Democrat’s three-day swing through Southwest and Southside Virginia, which included a visit to Stuart before he came to Danville and then headed to South Boston.
During a meeting with about 20-25 community leaders after his walk with officials downtown, Warner praised the growth that has taken place in the River District.
He pointed out how empty downtown was several years ago and the resurgence of the River District since then, when “warehouses didn’t have a lot in them.” Now there are numerous locally owned businesses, including restaurants, retailers and other establishments.
“There are great things happening in a lot of communities across Virginia,” Warner told officials in the former Pepsi Building next to the Danville Science Center. “I don’t think there’s anything on a per-capita basis that is close to what you guys are doing here.”
Danville is attracting more people from other areas to come live here, he added.
“Sixty percent of the people coming into the community are not from the community...” Warner said.
He also pointed out Averett and Danville Community College in the city. With a one-bedroom unit renting for $1,100 in the River District and “you’re all full up is really an enormous, enormous accomplishment,” Warner said.
“I want to, you know, give you all the credit,” Warner said. “I hope that the community at large recognizes [that].”
He also referred to the decline of tobacco and textiles in the late 90s and early 2000s, which culminated in the closing of Dan River Inc.
“Very few communities got whacked as hard as Danville did,” Warner said.
City leaders, including the mayor, economic development director and others, led Warner on a tour of downtown on a hot August day. Stops included Ma’s Cakes and Moss Mountain Outfitters on Main Street, The Bee Hotel on South Union Street and Knitting Mills Lofts on Lynn Street.
During the meeting with leaders after the walk downtown, Warner said cooperation between Danville and Pittsylvania County is one factor that has made the community special.
“We’re stronger combined than separated,” he said, adding that it is the model that can enable a lot of other communities around Virginia to perform better.
Warner also touched upon national issues during his meeting with local officials.
Everybody should have access to high-speed, affordable internet, Warner said, challenging local leaders to get training for the region’s workforce to meet that need. About 750,000 broadband installers will be needed across the country, he said.
Danville needs a pop-up training center for that, he said.
“I think that’s going to be an opportunity there,” Warner said, adding that Virginia also needs to get a microchip manufacturing site.
Gazette Virginian: Warner calls Southside ‘the comeback region’ in South Boston stop
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner spoke to a crowd of about 50 local leaders, professionals and residents Wednesday afternoon at the SOVA Innovation Hub in South Boston.
The visit was one stop on the senior senator from Virginia’s multi-community tour of Southside.
Innovation Hub staff treated Warner to a brief tour of the facility, as the crowd waited for the senator’s comments.
“I have known him for 30 years; he’s been a consistent friend of Southern Virginia,” South Boston Mayor Ed Owens said as he introduced the senator. “He’s one of the smartest businessmen I’ve ever met.”
Warner expressed his admiration for Southside leaders and the community at large for their collective accomplishment of economic revitalization.
“There is no part of the state that is more ‘the comeback region’ than Southside Virginia, and that has required grit, determination — lesser communities would have thrown in the towel,” Warner said.
Warner focused on the accomplishments of Congress this year, suggesting that 2022 has been one of the most significant congressional terms since the civil rights era.
“I think this last year in the United States Congress will be looked back upon as one of the most productive years, literally since the 1960s,” he said.
Warner further added that bipartisanship has figured into the equation of the successes he sees in legislative action this year focusing on the infrastructure bill among other efforts.
Bristol Herald Courier: Biscuit complaints bring Warner to Ridgeview Middle School
CLINTWOOD, Va. - It was complaints about bad biscuits that brought Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) to Ridgeview Middle School Monday.
Last school year, Ridgeview seventh-grade teachers April Hay and Portia Fletcher noticed their teenage students were not eating breakfast.
“Especially boys, when they are not eating, something is wrong. I started questioning them about why they were not eating and they said, ‘Well, we don’t really like it,’” Hay said. “It was whole wheat instead of the white wheat, and they were just not eating it.”
The director of food services suggested Hay write a letter to the senator about the issue. Hay took the suggestion a step further and worked with Fletcher to turn petitioning the government for better biscuits into a writing assignment.
“We went through the writing process to learn how to write a letter,” Hay said. “We sent those to the senator and I got a call one day from Richmond about it.”
Senator Warner’s office said Warner had seen and read the letters and wanted to help. The first response came last year in the form of breakfast from Hardee’s for the class from Warner. Then representatives from Warner’s office said the senator wanted to come meet the students in person about their project.
“We thought maybe we would get a nice letter or something from the senator,” Hay a teacher for 25 years said. “We never expected this much. This has been the highlight of our careers.”
So on the first day of the school year for Dickenson County, Warner met with the now eighth-grade class to say hello and answer questions, including a query asking if he has any aspirations beyond being a U.S. senator, which would be a run for president. After explaining he felt like he was in a good place to get things done for Virginia as senator, Warner did not reveal any potential presidential run to the auditorium full of eighth graders.
“I’m not sure that is in my future,” Warner said. “I don’t think it probably is in my future.”
Warner also met with area school superintendents and county officials discussing a variety of topics such as broadband access, mental health assistance for students and the issues surrounding teacher shortages.
Warner said he fears the recent controversies surrounding school boards would dissuade citizens from running for office leaving seats vacant in the future.
“I can’t think of a job that’s got less perks or upside and more grief. School board members have always been citizens who care about their community and I just worry that sometimes people’s anger and frustration have gotten so awful at some of these school board meetings around the country that people will just say, ‘I’m done,’ and that would be a huge loss not just to our education system, but to our democracy,” Warner said.
Bristol Virginia Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Perrigan was one of the local school officials in attendance at the event. He said Warner has always been a big supporter of the public school system.
“Senator Warner, even back when he was governor, has always been a huge supporter of public education,” Perrigan said. “Obviously, at the federal level he doesn’t have the same opportunities that he did when he was governor, but he is always willing to listen and willing try to find a solution.”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that $29,856 in federal funding will be awarded to three credit unions in Virginia. The funding, classified as Digital Service and Cybersecurity grants, will go towards strengthening the credit unions’ cybersecurity systems, acquiring technology that allows employees to work remotely, or implementing digital services for members like mobile or online banking. The grants, awarded through the National Credit Union Administration’s 2022 Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, are specifically designed to support low-income credit unions and underserved consumers.
“Credit unions help ensure all Virginians have access to the financial resources they need to save for their families, buy a home, or start a business,” the senators said. “This funding will directly support these organizations’ operations so that they can continue to reach out to underserved communities in the Commonwealth.”
The funding is distributed as follows:
- $10,000 for the Virginia Educators Credit Union in Newport News, VA.
- $10,000 for RVA Financial in Richmond, VA.
- $9,856 for the Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union in Richmond, VA.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have long worked to ensure that underserved communities have better access to financial services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sens. Warner and Kaine secured funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) in pandemic relief packages modeled after Sen. Warner’s Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act.
Most recently, Sen. Warner launched the bipartisan Senate Community Development Finance Caucus to serve as a platform where policymakers can coordinate and expand on public and private-sector efforts in support of the missions of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement after a court released a redacted version of the affidavit that prompted federal law enforcement to search Mar-a-Lago.
“It appears, based on the affidavit unsealed this morning, that among the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago were some of our most sensitive intelligence – which is one reason the Senate Intelligence Committee has requested, on a bipartisan basis, a damage assessment of any national security threat posed by the mishandling of this information.
“The Department of Justice investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference.”
According to the affidavit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation found 184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET, and documents bearing labels that indicated they contained information on clandestine human sources.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today welcomed an announcement from Google that it will make changes to its search results to clearly label facilities that provide abortions so that users seeking abortions are not misled by anti-abortion fake clinics or crisis pregnancy centers. Today’s action follows a bicameral June 17 letter led by Warner and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) to the CEO of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, Sundar Pichai, urging him to take action to prevent misleading Google search results and ads that lead to anti-abortion clinics.
In response to Warner and Slotkin’s letter, today Google announced that those who search for “abortion clinics near me” will only see facilities that have been verified to provide abortions in the Local Search results box on Google, unless they affirmatively choose to see additional, potentially less relevant results. Additionally, Google will clearly label results for searches such as “abortion clinics” to indicate whether the facility provides abortions.
“I welcome the changes that Google has announced today so that women seeking abortion services aren’t directed towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services. Importantly, this isn’t about silencing voices or restricting speech – it’s about returning search results that accurately address a user’s query and giving users information that is relevant to their searches,” said Sen. Warner today.
Warner Pushes for Plan to Ensure Patient Access to Care Pending Expiration of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Aug 17 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) asking the agencies to explain their plan to ensure continuity of care for patients being prescribed controlled substances via COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) telemedicine flexibilities. The current PHE declaration is set to expire on October 13, 2022 without intervention from the Biden Administration. Upon expiration current access to certain prescribed medications via telemedicine appointments will be stopped in order to remain in accordance with the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008.
During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, DEA has waived certain requirements of the Haight Act, including in-person or Special Registration requirements in order to prescribe controlled substances via telehealth.
“At the onset of the COVID-19 PHE, I was pleased to see the DEA act swiftly to ensure that patients could continue to access medically necessary controlled substances, including treatment for opioid use disorder, via telehealth by waiving the requirement that the patient have a prior in-person visit, regardless of their location, for the duration of the PHE,” wrote Sen. Warner.
He continued, “In the more than two years since that flexibility was put into place, patients have successfully continued and established treatment virtually, without reports of widespread harm. The pandemic has shown that telehealth is an appropriate modality for a great deal of health care services, and that health care providers and their patients should be at the center of modality decision-making.”
Sen. Warner posed a series of questions to ensure that there is a plan to continue to provide uninterrupted service:
- Does DEA plan to extend any current waivers or flexibilities regarding prescribing controlled substances over telehealth beyond the expiration of the PHE?
- If so, in what way(s)?
- If not, why not? Would additional authorities from Congress be needed?
- For patients who are under the care of a health care provider and are at risk of such care being interrupted or terminated upon PHE expiration, what flexibility or assistance will DEA provide such provider and patient to ensure appropriate continuity of care after the expiration?
- As opioid overdoses and deaths continue to impact our communities, is DEA considering continuing some of these telehealth flexibilities under the ongoing nationwide opioid crisis Public Health Emergency designation?
- If so, what are the agency’s plans?
- If not, why not?
- It is unacceptable that Americans have waited 14 years for the Special Registration rule; as telehealth will continue to expand, what is DEA’s plan to ensure appropriate access to legitimate health care services prior to the rule being finalized and implemented?
Earlier this year, Sen. Warner pushed the DEA to finalize a special registration for providers to prescribe controlled substances over telehealth, which has been required by Congress for nearly 14 years. Following this push, the DEA has drafted a rule, which is currently waiting for White House approval.
Sen. Warner has been a consistent leader for expanding telehealth accessibility. In May of this year, Sen. Warner led a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in legislation to expand telehealth services for patients undergoing dialysis. Sen. Warner was also an original co-sponsor of the 2016 Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, reintroduced in 2021, and has been a longtime advocate for the expansion of telehealth in order to ease access to health care.
Sen. Warner has consistently pushed for the permanent expansion of telehealth services, writing letters to congressional leadership in June 2020 and February 2022. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Warner included a provision to expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. In 2003, then-Gov. Warner expanded Medicaid coverage for telemedicine statewide, including evaluation and management visits, a range of individual psychotherapies, the full range of consultations, and some clinical services, including in cardiology and obstetrics. Coverage was also expanded to include non-physician providers. Among other benefits, telehealth expansion allows individuals in medically underserved and remote areas of Virginia to access quality specialty care that isn’t always available nearby.
A copy of the letter is available here and below.
Dear Attorney General Garland, and Administrator Milgram:
As we await release of the proposed rule to create the Special Registration for Telemedicine, as directed by Congress first in 2008 in the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act and subsequently in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act and appropriations legislation, I am writing today to request information about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s plan to ensure continued patient access to care upon expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE).
At the onset of the COVID-19 PHE, I was pleased to see the DEA act swiftly to ensure that patients could continue to access medically necessary controlled substances, including treatment for opioid use disorder, via telehealth by waiving the requirement that the patient have a prior in-person visit, regardless of their location, for the duration of the PHE. In the more than two years since that flexibility was put into place, patients have successfully continued and established treatment virtually, without reports of widespread harm. The pandemic has shown that telehealth is an appropriate modality for a great deal of health care services, and that health care providers and their patients should be at the center of modality decision-making.
I am concerned for patients who are at risk of having their health care interrupted or terminated when DEA PHE flexibilities end. As you know, the goal of the Ryan Haight Act was not to stymie appropriate access to care, but to prevent illicit use and sale of controlled substances. To that end, it is critical that Congress understands what DEA’s plan is for the time between when the PHE expires and the Special Registration is implemented to ensure constituents receive the continued health care they need and deserve. Specifically, I would like to know:
(1) Does DEA plan to extend any current waivers or flexibilities regarding prescribing controlled substances over telehealth beyond the expiration of the PHE?
- If so, in what way(s)?
- If not, why not? Would additional authorities from Congress be needed?
(2) For patients who are under the care of a health care provider and are at risk of such care being interrupted or terminated upon PHE expiration, what flexibility or assistance will DEA provide such provider and patient to ensure appropriate continuity of care after the expiration?
(3) As opioid overdoses and deaths continue to impact our communities, is DEA considering continuing some of these telehealth flexibilities under the ongoing nationwide opioid crisis Public Health Emergency designation?
- If so, what are the agency’s plans?
- If not, why not?
(4) It is unacceptable that Americans have waited 14 years for the Special Registration rule; as telehealth will continue to expand, what is DEA’s plan to ensure appropriate access to legitimate health care services prior to the rule being finalized and implemented?
It is unacceptable that Americans have waited 14 years for the Special Registration rule; as telehealth will continue to expand, what is DEA’s plan to ensure appropriate access to legitimate health care services prior to the rule being finalized and implemented?
It is critical that the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Congress work together to ensure Americans receive the health care they need, both during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and afterwards. I also urge you to expeditiously finalize the rulemaking for the Special Registration, as directed by Congress. Thank you in advance for your attention to this request and I look forward to hearing back from you.
Mark R. Warner
cc: The Honorable Shalanda D. Young, Director, Office of Management and Budget
Aug 17 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $1,943,222 in federal funding for the construction of an innovation hub in Farmville, Virginia. The funding will support the Longwood University Real Estate Foundation’s efforts to construct a facility that will serve as a business development and community training center with coworking spaces, business consulting, and educational training rooms.
“This innovation hub will be a game-changer for businesses still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the senators said. “This funding will help the Farmville area build a community space that will allow local businesses to work and expand while promoting economic development throughout the region.”
“On behalf of the Commonwealth Regional Council, I am excited that the Longwood SEED Innovation Hub has received the last piece in the puzzle for needed funding to bring this project to life,” Melody Foster, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Regional Council, said. “I am thrilled we were able to assist Longwood in obtaining this funding for a facility that will be a great asset for the greater Farmville community.”
“SEED Innovation Hub is the culmination of months of collaboration and regional strategy development between Longwood University’s Office of Community and Economic Development, Longwood Small Business Development Center and our partners at GO Virginia Region 3, SOVA Innovation Hub and Hampden-Sydney College,” Sheri McGuire, Longwood University Associate VP for Community and Economic Development, said. “SEED will be a creative intersection of partners, entrepreneurs, ideas, and supportive programming for all ages, cultivating regional innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities for years to come. We are excited and appreciate the investment US EDA, alongside VA TRRC and Go Virginia, are making to bring this vision to life.”
The funding was awarded through the Economic Development Administration as part of the American Rescue Plan designed to aid economic development efforts in communities still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a bipartisan group of House and Senate members in a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig reiterating concerns regarding persistent customer services issues within the agency, and urging the IRS to eliminate the ongoing processing delays, improve customer service, extend the suspension of automated notices and collections, and continue making maximum use of overtime and surge teams.
“Since last year, numerous Members of Congress in the House and Senate have sent several letters regarding customer service issues, processing delays, and the outstanding backlog of returns,” wrote the bicameral group of lawmakers to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. “Yet, we are writing again to urge the IRS to extend the suspension of automated collections, continue the pause on automated notices, keep its surge teams in place until hiring challenges and processing backlogs are adequately addressed.”
The lawmakers continued, “[W]e believe that the IRS must take additional steps to improve customer service issues, decrease processing delays, and work-down the backlog of paper returns and correspondence by continuing the maximum use of overtime and surge teams, as well as the continued suspension of automated notices and collections—which have been critical in reducing pandemic-related tax return and correspondence backlogs.”
The letter came just before the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act — legislation Sens. Warner and Kaine helped pass in the Senate—which provides funding to modernize 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.
Sen. Warner has been pressing the IRS to address pandemic-related processing delays for the last two years. Sen. Warner first raised concerns over backlogs at the IRS in February 2021, as millions of Americans waited for delayed stimulus payments and processing of their tax returns. In January 2022, as the tax filing season opened, Sen. Warner again called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commissioner Rettig to quickly address reports of unprocessed tax returns for the 2020 filing season. Later that month, Sens. Warner and Kaine called on the IRS to provide relief for taxpayers amidst the backlog – a request they again reiterated in a bipartisan and bicameral March letter.
In April of this year Sen. Warner questioned Commissioner Rettig during a Senate Finance Committee hearing about IRS-backlog related issues regarding Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Additionally, in a separate hearing of the Committee, Sen. Warner questioned IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins about the backlogs and about the measures being taken to address the situation, and joined colleagues in another letter to Commissioner Rettig urging immediate action to reduce backlogs and improve customer service during the 2022 filing season.
A copy of the letter is available here and below.
Dear Commissioner Rettig:
Thank you for your continued work to eliminate the unprecedented backlog at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Since last year, numerous Members of Congress in the House and Senate have sent several letters regarding customer service issues, processing delays, and the outstanding backlog of returns. Several Members of Congress have urged you to provide penalty relief for taxpayers, have continually pressed the agency to pursue maximum overtime options for staff who are working on the backlog and on surge teams, and have asked the agency to deploy additional surge teams and other resources in an effective manner to reduce the backlog. Yet, we are writing again to urge the IRS to extend the suspension of automated collections, continue the pause on automated notices, keep its surge teams in place until hiring challenges and processing backlogs are adequately addressed.
In a Senate Finance Committee Hearing on April 7, 2022, you estimated that the IRS would return to a “healthy state” by the end of 2022 and that the IRS expected to hire 10,000 customer service representatives between this year and next year. Yet, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), the paper return backlog has actually increased by 1.3 million from the same point as last year and that the IRS was only able to meet 12 percent of its hiring goals for processing center employees earlier this year. NTA also noted that the IRS has not met its 5,000 employee hiring goal for submission processing positions—falling short by 3,417 employees, and that while historically the IRS has paid refunds from paper returns in four to six weeks, refunds are currently taking six months or longer.
Accordingly, we believe that the IRS must take additional steps to improve customer service issues, decrease processing delays, and work-down the backlog of paper returns and correspondence by continuing the maximum use of overtime and surge teams, as well as the continued suspension of automated notices and collections—which have been critical in reducing pandemic-related tax return and correspondence backlogs. Additionally, the IRS must improve its recruitment and retention efforts to adequately address the backlog and increase levels of taxpayer service.
In order to gauge the extent of hiring and processing challenges still facing the Agency, we ask that you provide answers to the following questions no later than August 19, 2022:
- How do you plan to keep your promise to eliminate the backlog?
- What is a “healthy level” of unprocessed tax returns? How does this level align with average carryover levels, prior to the pandemic? Please provide the average carryover level over the ten years prior to FY2020, and the current carryover levels.
- How would you quantify a “manageable” carryover level? How does this compare to average carryover levels prior to the pandemic? Please provide a breakdown of average carryover levels for accounts management, submission processing, and returns in suspense.
- By how much do you estimate the carryover level will increase following the October 15, 2022 extension filing deadline?
- Do you believe your answers to questions 2-4 call your end-of-year estimate for a “healthy” IRS into question?
- For this filing season, what is the average refund delivery period? For comparison, please provide the average refund delivery period over the past ten years including the COVID-19 pandemic and excluding the COVID-19 pandemic.
- How long will the surge teams continue? Will they continue through the end of the fiscal or calendar year, or beyond?
- What effect does the use of surge teams to process the backlog have on the IRS’ other activities, particularly answering phones?
- What steps is the Agency taking to speed up its processing of tax returns? Please specifically note whether the agency prioritizes the processing of returns with refunds.
- What is the status of IRS efforts to implement scanning technology, as recommended by the NTA?
- How many contractors is the IRS currently utilizing? How do contractors factor into the IRS’ stated hiring goals for submission processing and accounts management positions?
We appreciate your consideration of these requests and attention to these issues.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law:
“We’re proud that this law will lower the price of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, bring down energy bills and fight climate change. We’re also glad that it will help ensure that miners suffering from black lung and their families get the care and benefits they deserve. We will continue to look for ways to support the health and well-being of our communities, decrease inflation, and lower costs for Virginians.”
Below are some of the ways the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit Virginians:
Lower Prescription Drug Costs
- The law 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 law 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 law 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 law 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 will 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 monthly premiums for the next coverage year if these subsidies weren’t extended.
Black Lung Benefits
- The law 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 law will reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
- The law incentivizes investment in and production of renewable energy technologies like solar power and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. The Inflation Reduction Act 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 law 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 law includes tax credits for clean medium and heavy duty trucks, such as those produced at the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant.
- The law includes a $7,500 consumer credit for the purchase of new electric vehicles and incentivizes that vehicles are produced in North America.
- The law includes $9.7 billion for financial assistance to rural electric cooperatives to improve resilience and affordability.
- The law 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 law includes $20 billion to help farmers and ranchers adopt agriculture conservation practices that improve landscape resilience.
- The law 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 law 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.
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.
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.
Warner & Kaine Announce More Than $2.1 Million in Funding to Address COVID-19 in Rural Virginia Communities
Aug 12 2022
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.
Aug 11 2022
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.
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.
- 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.
Warner & Kaine Statement on Bipartisan Bill to Expand Benefits for Toxic-Exposed Veterans Becoming Law
Aug 10 2022
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.
Aug 09 2022
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.
Aug 09 2022
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).
Aug 07 2022
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.
Warner & Kaine Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Support Families of Public Safety Officers
Aug 04 2022
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.
Sens. Warner, Ossoff, Lummis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Credit Union Members from Identity Theft & Cyber Threats
Aug 03 2022
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.
“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. # # #
“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.