Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined a bipartisan group of fifteen senators, led by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), in writing to Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly to express concern over proposed funding reductions for the Virginia Class submarine program, which could negatively impact both the United States’ undersea superiority and the submarine industrial base. Virginia Class submarines are constructed, in part, at Newport News Shipbuilding. The Navy’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request signals that the Navy will not exercise the option for a tenth Block V submarine, which as the senators note in their letter, “directly contradicts the National Defense Strategy and inexplicably delays the Navy’s goal of reaching 66 fast-attack submarines by 2048.”

The Senators said, “This gap could contribute to supplier instability and workforce shortfalls at a time when the industrial base should be simultaneously executing Columbia Class construction.”

The bipartisan letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Josh Hawley (R-MO).

In today’s letter, the Senators asked for additional information from the Navy to justify the proposed submarine fleet reduction, citing Assistant Secretary Geurts’ testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2019, which warned: “Our biggest shortfall…is in attack submarines. And that situation will get worse before it gets better. And so we are looking for any opportunity to accelerate that.”

The full text of the Senators’ letter is available here and copied below.

 

February 13, 2020 

The Honorable Thomas B. Modly

Acting Secretary of the Navy

1000 Navy Pentagon

Washington, DC  20350

Dear Acting Secretary Modly:

We write to express our concern regarding the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request, which includes only $4.9 billion in full procurement funding for the Virginia Class program. With this proposal, the Navy signals that it will not exercise the option for a tenth Block V submarine–a decision that directly contradicts the National Defense Strategy and inexplicably delays the Navy’s goal of reaching 66 fast-attack submarines by 2048. We request that you include funding for a second Virginia Class submarine on the Navy’s unfunded requirements list, and we request an assessment of how this budget request, if enacted, would impact the delivery schedule for the Virginia and Columbia Class programs and the submarine industrial base. 

In March 2019, Assistant Secretary Geurts testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee: “Our biggest shortfall…is in attack submarines. And that situation will get worse before it gets better. And so we are looking for any opportunity to accelerate that.” This budget request exacerbates this shortfall by decreasing investment in the Virginia Class program. Fast attack submarines will help ensure our asymmetric advantage and undersea superiority during a potential conflict with near-peer adversaries, and investment in the Virginia Class program is an indicator of progress toward countering Russian and Chinese aggression. 

Given the importance of the Virginia Class program in achieving our strategic objectives, we request additional information on any new fleet design proposals–particularly any reductions in submarines–and whether fully funding only one Virginia Class submarine in FY 2021 would compromise submarine force readiness. Although we anticipate that the upcoming Force Structure Assessment might recommend augmenting submarines with smaller surface and subsurface vessels, we are alarmed by any fleet design proposals that would decrease the size of the submarine fleet. Such a decision would likely yield a loss in capability that does not justify any short-term cost savings, particularly as Russia and China continue significant investment in their respective submarine fleets.

In FY 2020, Congress signaled support for ten submarines in Block V by appropriating an additional $200 million in advanced procurement funding for a tenth Virginia Class submarine with the Virginia Payload Module. But if the Navy does not intend to pursue the option submarine in Block V, we request an assessment of how procurement funding for only one Virginia Class submarine in the FY 2021 budget will impact the delivery schedules for both the Virginia and Columbia Class programs. Congress intended for the Navy to continue the two-per-year delivery cadence for the Virginia Class program that began in 2011, and we are concerned by the potential precedent of deviating from this cadence. With only 9 submarines in Block V, there would be a construction gap between the end of Block V construction and the beginning of Block VI construction. This gap could contribute to supplier instability and workforce shortfalls at a time when the industrial base should be simultaneously executing Columbia Class construction. We seek information about the broader impact on the submarine industrial base–which consists of almost 5,000 suppliers across almost all 50 states–and whether this budget proposal will prevent cost savings or compromise construction efficiencies.

The Navy’s budget request projects uncertainty about the future of submarine construction and lacks clarity regarding the long-term budgetary and strategic impact of only funding one Virginia Class submarine in FY 2021. We look forward to receiving additional information, and working with you during this budget cycle to ensure robust funding for the Virginia Class program.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Elaine Luria (D-VA), sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting $5.4 million in the Army Corps FY 2020 Work Plan for the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project. The funding will be used to complete the Preliminary Engineering and Design (PED) phase of the project. The first phase of the project was authorized in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which was supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine to develop mitigation solutions to reduce water surge risk in Norfolk. The project is eligible to be authorized for general construction in the 2020 WRDA.

“The City of Norfolk, Virginia is a highly urbanized area with most of the City falling below an elevation of 15 feet. The low elevation places Norfolk at risk from flooding due to high tides, nor’easters, and hurricanes. In August 2011, Hurricane Irene caused debilitating floods in the region resulting in millions of dollars in damages and the displacement of thousands of families. This flooding, because of the concentration of globally valuable military and economic assets located in Norfolk, poses great risk to key national assets,” wrote the members of Congress.

The Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project will establish a series of structural and non-structural barriers to reduce the risk of water surges in structures including:

  • The Hague / Downtown Storm Surge Barrier: This structural feature would be a 600 linear foot storm surge barrier with a pump and power station. The surge barrier would tie into 27,236 linear feet of constructed floodwall and 2,582 linear feet of earthen levee. Three pump stations also would be constructed and operated for interior drainage.
  • Pretty Lake Storm Surge Barrier: This structural feature would be a 114 linear foot storm surge barrier with a pump and power station. The feature would tie into 5,642 linear feet of floodwall.
  • Lafayette River Storm Surge Barrier: This structural feature would be a 6,634 linear foot storm surge barrier with a power station. The feature would tie into 1,535 linear feet of constructed earthen levee. Three tide gates would be constructed and operated.
  • Broad Creek Storm Surge Barrier: This feature would be a 1,291 linear foot storm surge barrier with four operational tide gates and a power station. The surge barrier would tie into approximately 8,787 linear feet of flood wall. One pump station also would be constructed and operated for interior drainage.
  • Natural and Nature-Based Features (NNBF): These Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) features would include approximately 0.3 acres of oyster reef and approximately 8.9 acres of living shoreline to increase resiliency.

In their letter, the members of Congress also emphasized that every additional year it takes to complete Norfolk’s flood risk management project only hurts the city’s ability to better prepare for extreme weather.

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

 

Dear Acting Director Vought and Assistant Secretary James:

We write today to urge you to include funding for the City of Norfolk, Virginia’s Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) project in the FY 2020 Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) Work Plan. Specifically, we request $5.4 million in the Work Plan to complete the Preliminary Engineering and Design (PED) phase of the project.

The City of Norfolk, Virginia is a highly urbanized area with most of the City falling below an elevation of 15 feet. The low elevation places Norfolk at risk from flooding due to high tides, nor’easters, and hurricanes. In August 2011, Hurricane Irene caused debilitating floods in the region resulting in millions of dollars in damages and the displacement of thousands of families. This flooding, because of the concentration of globally valuable military and economic assets located in Norfolk, poses great risk to key national assets. 

The City hosts Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world with a capital replacement value of over $4 billion. Norfolk is home to the United States Fleet Forces Command, including the former U.S. Atlantic Fleet and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allied Command Transformation, the only NATO command headquartered in North America. The City also hosts Norfolk International Terminals, which is the largest terminal of the Virginia Port Authority—the third busiest port on the eastern seaboard.  

Sea level rise combined with land subsidence exacerbates storm flooding. The frequency, extent, and duration of flooding has increased in recent years in the region and is projected to rise in the future. Norfolk is one of the cities with the highest rate of relative sea level rise (combined sea level and subsidence) among Atlantic coastal communities, as documented in the “Evidence of Sea Level Acceleration at U.S. and Canadian Tide Stations, Atlantic Coast, North America,” and the U.S. Geological Survey Report, “National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise.” Recent storms that flooded major portions of Norfolk were Hurricane Isabel in 2003, the November 2009 nor’easter, Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. For these reasons, the Army Corps identified Norfolk as one of the nine areas of high risk by the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS).

The purposes of the City of Norfolk, Virginia Coastal Storm Risk Management project are to provide structural and/or non-structural solution sets for mitigating the impacts of flooding, and to assist the City of Norfolk in making prudent decisions regarding their water resource needs. 

Extreme weather events will always be a concern in this region. Each additional year it takes to complete Norfolk’s flood risk management project is another opportunity for the next hurricane to devastate this low-lying coastal area. By mitigating future risks, the government can save money on cleanup costs, while providing area families and communities an assurance of safety in the event of catastrophic weather.

The City of Norfolk’s flood risk management project is a major priority for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we encourage you to consider this request for inclusion in the FY 2020 Work Plan.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) announced that he will be inviting a Medicaid recipient and health care advocate from Chesapeake, Va. as his guest to the President’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. Terry “Bean” White, who lost his private insurance in 2008 when severe arthritis forced him to give up his job in the Newport News shipyards, is one of nearly 400,000 Virginians who gained coverage under Virginia’s Medicaid expansion and who are in danger of losing their health care coverage if the Trump Administration is successful in its effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in court.

Mr. White, who has congestive heart failure and has been previously treated for prostate cancer, became eligible for coverage after the Commonwealth expanded Medicaid at the beginning of last year – a move that was made possible under the ACA. Prior to that, Mr. White incurred an enormous amount of medical debt and had no choice but to move in with his sister, her daughter, and her two-year-old granddaughter.

“Despite the Trump Administration’s best efforts to dismantle our nation’s health care law, people like Mr. White are proof that Obamacare is working for Americans, and that Medicaid expansion is thriving in Virginia,” said Sen. Warner. “Bean was a hard worker who lost his health insurance through no fault of his own and soon found himself drowning in health care debt – all while struggling to manage his medical conditions. Thankfully, he was able to access coverage after Virginia voted to expand Medicaid under the ACA. But now, under the Republican-backed lawsuit that seeks to wipe out our nation’s health law, hundreds of thousands of Virginians like Bean are at risk of losing the coverage that in many cases keeps them alive and stands between them and bankruptcy. I hope that his presence will serve as a reminder of the potentially devastating consequences if the Trump Administration’s shameful lawsuit succeeds in overturning the health care law Congress passed back in 2010.”

“It is an honor to be invited to the State of the Union and I would like to thank Senator Warner,” said Mr. White. “The senator understands that without the ACA some of us, like myself, wouldn't be here. I am diabetic and recently survived prostate cancer. If it weren’t for Medicaid expansion, I would pay about $7,000 a month in medication costs.”

In December, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the individual mandate as unconstitutional and remanded the Texas vs. United States lawsuit to the lower court, instructing it to rule on which parts of the ACA should be eliminated. If the President’s lawsuit is successful, more than 20 million Americans and nearly 400,000 Virginians could lose their health coverage, with costs going up for millions.

In Virginia, Medicaid expansion made more than 400,000 Virginians like Mr. White eligible for low- or no-cost health care coverage. As of January 2020, more than 375,000 people have actually enrolled in the program. Prior to this expansion, these individuals fell into a “coverage gap” due to incomes that were too high to be eligible for Medicaid, but too low to receive tax credits to purchase affordable coverage in the health care marketplace.

Sen. Warner has been a champion of health care access for all Virginians amid this Administration’s relentless efforts to dismantle our nation’s health care law in Congress and now in court. Last week, Sen. Warner denounced a new plan by the Trump Administration to allow and incentivize states to cut Medicaid funding, thereby undermining Medicaid’s critical financing structure and putting care for vulnerable Americans on the chopping block. Last year, Sen. Warner introduced legislation to allow Virginia, and any other states that expanded Medicaid after the 2014 deadline, to receive the same federal matching funds as states that expanded earlier under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, this bill would save Virginia’s hospitals an estimated $300 million per year in the first three years of implementation. Additionally, in October, Sen. Warner forced a Senate vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would have overturned a Trump Administration waiver rule that destabilizes the nation’s health insurance market and weakens protections for three million Virginians with preexisting conditions.  

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined his colleagues in a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf urging the Administration to immediately increase the statutory cap of H-2B visas for fiscal year 2020. The government funding bills that were signed into law authorize the DHS Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, to release over 60,000 additional H-2B visas for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020.

The H-2B temporary non-agricultural visa program is vital to helping small and seasonal employers across the Commonwealth sustain their businesses, and supporting Virginia jobs dependent upon seasonal business industries, such as seafood. H-2B visas are critical to ensuring Virginia’s seafood businesses, many of which have been family-owned for generations, have the labor force they need during peak harvest season.

“These American businesses depend on seasonal employment to meet the demand across many industries. Without immediate and meaningful H-2B cap relief, seasonal businesses will be forced to scale back operations, cancel or default on contracts, lay off full-time U.S. workers and, in some cases, close operations completely. By taking quick action to release additional H-2B visas, seasonal businesses and U.S. workers across the country will avoid these harmful consequences, and instead, help contribute to the American economy,” wrote the members of Congress.

In their letter, the members of Congress also emphasized that due to the continued low unemployment rate and the growing demand for H-2B workers, the Administration must promptly make these additional visas available.

Sen. Warner has a long record of fighting for Virginia’s seafood industry. Earlier this month, Sen. Warner met with Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia to discuss the impact of the H-2B program on Virginia and urged him to work with DHS to release the additional H-2B visas as quickly as possible. Sen. Warner has also introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the H-2B visa program, requested an audit to determine the number of unused visas that could be made available to eligible petitioners, and has repeatedly pushed DHS to provide necessary relief in the event that the visa cap gets close to being reached. 

In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was also signed by 188 members of Congress, including several members of the Virginia congressional delegation: U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

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

 

The Honorable Chad F. Wolf

Acting Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security        

3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW                          

Washington, DC 20528          

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

We write on behalf of seasonal businesses in our states from industries such as tourism and hospitality, landscaping, fairs and carnivals, seafood processing, golf courses, reforestation, contractors and horse racing, who continue to struggle with seasonal labor shortages that are made worse by the inadequate H-2B visa cap. Under the “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020”, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL), is authorized to provide expeditious H-2B cap relief for our local businesses’ upcoming seasonal labor needs.

These American businesses depend on seasonal employment to meet the demand across many industries. Without immediate and meaningful H-2B cap relief, seasonal businesses will be forced to scale back operations, cancel or default on contracts, lay off full-time U.S. workers and, in some cases, close operations completely. By taking quick action to release additional H-2B visas, seasonal businesses and U.S. workers across the country will avoid these harmful consequences, and instead, help contribute to the American economy.

The recently passed Fiscal Year 2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations bill provides DHS with the authority to lift the existing 66,000 H-2B visa cap. The language is identical to the language that was enacted in each of the past three years. In each of those years, DHS has provided supplemental cap relief in the amounts of 15,000, 15,000 and 30,000 respectively. While these supplemental visas helped some employers who were shut out of the program, they were not sufficient to satisfy the total need for H-2B workers. Additionally, these visas were not released until well into many businesses’ peak seasons, which caused significant harm to the seasonal industry. We urge you to release a significant number of additional visas as soon as possible to prevent this from happening in FY 20. According to the Department’s May 2019 rule entitled “Exercise of Time-Limited Authority to Increase the Fiscal Year 2019 Numerical Limitation for the H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker Program,” you are authorized to release 64,716 additional visas under this language.

As you know, the first half H-2B visa cap for FY 20 was reached on November 15, 2019, almost a month earlier than previous years. The DOL has certified the need for approximately 51,000 H-2B workers with a date of need between October 1 and March 31 with approximately 2,500 petitions still under review. Therefore, between 18,000 and 20,500 needed H-2B worker positions will remain vacant without the expeditious release of additional visas.

Additionally, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced that within the first 24 hours of opening the Foreign Labor Application Gateway System for peak filing season that opened on January 2, 2020, employers filed 4,930 applications for more than 87,298 worker positions with an April 1, 2020, or later, work start date. By the end of the filing deadline on January 6, 2020, OFLC had received a total of 5,677 H-2B applications requesting 99,362 worker positions. This is more than triple the number of visa applications currently available for the second half of the fiscal year.

As a result, we urge DHS to release the maximum number of additional visas without delay. Congress was clear in the report accompanying the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020” that DHS rely on past rulemaking and act as quickly as possible in releasing additional visas. The report language states that, “USCIS is encouraged to leverage prior year materials relating to the issuance of additional H-2B visas, to include previous temporary final rules, to improve processing efficiencies.” As you know, the FY 19 temporary final rule was only released eight months ago, and there are no new legislative authorities or technical facts to review. Therefore, additional rulemaking should not be required.

Given the continued low unemployment and growing demand for H-2B workers, as evidenced by the recent number of applications for the second half of the fiscal year, we urge the Department to promptly make available all 64,716 additional visas authorized under the law as soon as possible. These vital American businesses depend on the expeditious release of a sufficient number of additional visas. We thank you in advance for your attention to this pressing matter.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – After repeated delays and unresponsiveness by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr urging the agency to comply with the law and fully implement the Ashanti Alert system by the March 19th deadline. This date was imposed by Sen. Warner, who successfully included language in the government funding bills directing the DOJ to take swift measures to get the critical life-saving alert system fully implemented. 

“I am profoundly disappointed that the Department has failed to implement the Ashanti Alert system in a well-organized and competent way.  I look forward to the Department’s report and expeditious implementation,” wrote Sen. Warner.

Sen. Warner is a champion of the Ashanti Alert system. On December 6, 2018, Sen. Warner secured unanimous passage of the Ashanti Alert Act through the Senate. In August 2019, he reiterated the need for the alert’s swift implementation, following a meeting with Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sullivan. He has also previously demanded in-person meetings with the DOJ, repeatedly pressed the DOJ for implementation updates, and urged congressional appropriators to provide full funding for the timely implementation of the Ashanti Alert.

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

 

Dear Attorney General Barr:

Over a year ago, President Trump signed the bipartisan Ashanti Alert Act (P.L.115-401) into law.  I write today to draw your attention to language I included in the FY20 Consolidated Appropriations Act directing the Department of Justice to take swift measures to fully implement the Ashanti Alert system.  

Specifically, Congress directs the Department “to provide a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees no later than 30 days after enactment” of the FY20 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 116 –93) detailing progress on the implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act. Further, the language directs the report to set out a final deadline for implementation no later than 90 days after enactment.  As the FY20 Consolidated Appropriations Act was enacted on December 20, 2019, I will look for the Department’s initial report next week, which should include a plan for full implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act by March 19, 2020.

As I have noted in three previous letters, the Ashanti Alert system will save lives by closing the existing gap in our nation’s missing person alert systems.  This crucial public safety system is named in honor of Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old who was abducted in Norfolk, Virginia on September 18, 2017.  Ashanti was found murdered – 11 days after she was initially reported missing.  Because of Ashanti’s age, she did not qualify for AMBER or Silver Alerts and thus critical resources were not used to locate her whereabouts.

I am profoundly disappointed that the Department has failed to implement the Ashanti Alert system in a well-organized and competent way.  I look forward to the Department’s report and expeditious implementation.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting that the Virginia Beach Regional Coastal Storm Risk Management Study be included in the Army Corps FY 2020 Work Plan. The study was authorized in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which was supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine to analyze the flood risk threats from sea level rise, coastal storm surge and rainfall events, and to develop watershed-based mitigation solutions to reduce flood risk in the cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake.

“This study is crucial to the long-term vitality and resilience of the City of Virginia Beach and the entire Coastal Virginia region. This region is home to four critical military bases, which employ 33,000 military and civilian personnel and their families. If the Army Corps approves this study, the City of Virginia Beach will be able to continue its efforts in mitigating sea level rise and recurrent flooding, serving as a model to coastal cities in need of more resilient infrastructure, economies, and communities,” wrote the members.

In their letter, the members of Congress also emphasized that the study will help reduce the risk of flooding for vulnerable populations and critical infrastructure in Hampton Roads, which includes critical military installations for the U.S. Navy. The Hampton Roads region is considered one of the country’s most flood-prone areas, facing anywhere from 1.5 to 7 feet of sea level rise by the year 2100.

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

 

Dear Director Vought and Assistant Secretary James:

We write today to express our support for the City of Virginia Beach’s Comprehensive Regional Coastal Storm Risk Management Study, and ask that it be included in the FY 2020 Army Corps Work Plan.

The authority for this study is the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 Section 1201 (9) for Coastal Virginia. This study will analyze the flood risk threats from sea level rise, coastal storm surge and rainfall events, and will develop watershed-based mitigation solutions to reduce flood risk in the cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake, Currituck County, North Carolina, and the Joint Expeditionary Base at Little Creek- Fort Story. The City of Virginia Beach has support from the USACE North Atlantic Division and Norfolk Division, and has garnered additional support from the business and environmental communities.

This study is crucial to the long-term vitality and resilience of the City of Virginia Beach and the entire Coastal Virginia region. This region is home to four critical military bases, which employ 33,000 military and civilian personnel and their families. If the Army Corps approves this study, the City of Virginia Beach will be able to continue its efforts in mitigating sea level rise and recurrent flooding, serving as a model to coastal cities in need of more resilient infrastructure, economies, and communities. Specifically, the Regional Coastal Storm Risk Management Study advances the Corps’ mission of building long-term coastal resilience as outlined in USACE’s North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study: Resilient Adaptation to Increasing Risk.

In addition, the study will lead to a reduced risk to vulnerable populations, property, ecosystems, and infrastructure – including significant military installations – in one of the country’s most flood-prone population centers and augments existing federal resiliency investments in Virginia Beach and the greater Hampton Roads region.

As the Army Corps works with the Office of Management and Budget to develop its FY20 Work Plan, we encourage you to include the Virginia Comprehensive Regional Coastal Storm Risk Management Study. The City of Virginia Beach is a long-standing civil works partner with the Corps of Engineers and is prepared to provide the matching non-federal cost share to move this vital project forward.

Thank you again for your attention to this issue. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) along with U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) led the entire Virginia congressional delegation in sending a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting a New Start designation for the Norfolk Harbor widening and deepening project in the Army Corps Work Plan. A New Start designation would allow the Norfolk Harbor project to advance to its next stage of construction and receive Army Corps funding. Currently, the project is progressing using a combination of state and local funds.

“Thanks to the cooperation between the Port of Virginia, the Norfolk District, and the rest of the Army staff, construction on the first constructible element, deepening Thimble Shoal Channel – West, began in December 2019, 18 months ahead of schedule,” wrote the members of Congress. “The next steps are to complete the Design during Construction (DDC) on the remaining elements and prepare the next segment for award and construction. In order to maintain this schedule, the project requires a New Start designation and $2.5 million for construction in the 2020 Work Plan as well as $49.4 million in the President's 2021 budget request.”

The Port of Virginia is an important commercial and economic engine for the Commonwealth, generating more than $78 million annually. In their letter to OMB, the members of Congress reiterated that the funding is critical to ensure timely completion of a two-way traffic channel to better accommodate commercial ships and vessels deploying from Naval Station Norfolk.

“As you know, one lane traffic is not sustainable at the Port of Virginia as the size of commercial vessels continues to grow. One lane traffic creates uncertainty and inefficiency for businesses and their supply chains. Additionally, as home to the world’s largest naval base – Naval Station Norfolk – the deepening and widening of Norfolk Harbor will support the critical functions of the U.S. Navy. The completion of this project will ensure the continued safe and timely passage of larger commercial and military vessels through Norfolk Harbor,” they continued. “The rapid growth of larger vessels entering maritime trade makes it essential that this project proceed as quickly as possible. The public and private non-federal interests have invested billions of dollars on land-side infrastructure and are prepared to provide their cost share to complete this crucial navigation project in a timely manner.”

In December, Sens. Warner and Kaine voted in favor of the government funding bill that included $2.5 million for the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project and critical language authorizing six Army Corps New Starts. The Army Corps will announce which projects will receive New Start designations in their Work Plan, which must be released no later than 60 days after the Energy and Water appropriations bill was signed into law.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine and Reps. Scott and Wittman, the letter was signed by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

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

 

Dear Director Vought:

We write today concerning the development of the Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan and the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Project. As the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) and your office complete work on the Fiscal Year 2020 Work Plan and the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget request, we write to reiterate the importance of the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Project.

Thanks to the cooperation between the Port of Virginia, the Norfolk District, and the rest of the Army staff, construction on the first constructible element, deepening Thimble Shoal Channel – West, began in December 2019, 18 months ahead of schedule. The next steps are to complete the Design during Construction (DDC) on the remaining elements and prepare the next segment for award and construction. In order to maintain this schedule, the project requires a New Start designation and $2.5 million for construction in the 2020 Work Plan as well as $49.4 million in the President's 2021 budget request.

As you know, one lane traffic is not sustainable at the Port of Virginia as the size of commercial vessels continues to grow. One lane traffic creates uncertainty and inefficiency for businesses and their supply chains. Additionally, as home to the world’s largest naval base – Naval Station Norfolk – the deepening and widening of Norfolk Harbor will support the critical functions of the U.S. Navy. The completion of this project will ensure the continued safe and timely passage of larger commercial and military vessels through Norfolk Harbor. The rapid growth of larger vessels entering maritime trade makes it essential that this project proceed as quickly as possible. The public and private non-federal interests have invested billions of dollars on land-side infrastructure and are prepared to provide their cost share to complete this crucial navigation project in a timely manner.

The Port of Virginia is a commercial and economic engine for the United States and continues to play an integral role in American foreign and domestic commerce and trade. Continued federal investment into this project will allow the Port to remain a prominent economic hub for the nation and a key player in domestic and international trade by generating more than $78 million in annual national economic development benefits.

Thank you for your consideration. If we can be of any assistance to you going forward, please contact us.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in support of Virginia’s joint application with Amtrak for matching funds to improve passenger rail service.

Following a recommendation by the National Surface Transportation Board to retire many existing railcars, some of which are over 40 years old, Virginia is pushing for funding under DOT’s Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program to help modernize Amtrak’s fleet and improve ride quality for Virginians. 

“Maintaining and repairing current equipment is costly in terms of both safety and efficiency. New railcars will provide safer, better, and more reliable mobility,” the Senators wrote in their letter to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao. “This funding, in conjunction with Virginia's numerous high priority passenger rail projects, will help make state-sponsored service a more reliable and pleasant transportation alternative.”

Virginia is one of 17 states and regional authorities to fund the state-sponsored Amtrak business lines of service, which account for nearly 50 percent of total Amtrak ridership nationwide. In FY2019, nearly one million individuals used the Amtrak Northeast Regional service, the highest number of riders recorded in the Commonwealth’s history. Stops along the Northeast corridor include Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Roanoke.

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

 

Dear Secretary Chao:

We write to express our support for the Commonwealth of Virginia's application, submitted jointly with Amtrak, for funding under the U.S. Department of Transportation's 2019 Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program.

The Commonwealth is leading efforts, not only with Amtrak but also with 16 other states, to procure new railway vehicles to replace its aging stock.  The National Surface Transportation Board has recommended that many existing railcars be retired, some of which are over 40 years old.  Maintaining and repairing current equipment is costly in terms of both safety and efficiency.  New railcars will provide safer, better, and more reliable mobility.  This funding, in conjunction with Virginia's numerous high priority passenger rail projects, will help make state-sponsored service a more reliable and pleasant transportation alternative.

Virginia is one of 17 states and regional authorities to fund the state-sponsored Amtrak business lines of service, which account for nearly 50% of total Amtrak ridership nationwide.  Currently, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation administers state funding for six daily Amtrak Northeast Regional round trips, originating in Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Roanoke, connecting Virginians to stops along the Northeast Corridor.  In federal Fiscal Year 2019, over 924,000 individuals used the service - the highest number in the Commonwealth's history.  Pending award of this grant and action by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Virginia is prepared to commit an additional $15 million in state funding and $32.5 million in Amtrak revenues to the project.

Please give full and fair evaluation to this project, which will benefit the safety and comfort of the travelling public.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) along with Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) released the following statement after the Department of Energy (DoE) announced that Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) was not selected as the national laboratory site to host the first Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) in the United States, a machine that’s key for the U.S. to maintain its leadership in nuclear physics:

“We are disappointed by the Department of Energy’s announcement today that Jefferson Lab was not selected to house the proposed Electron Ion Collider. We expect the Department of Energy to provide a full and transparent explanation into its site selection process for this project. Regardless, Jefferson Lab will continue to be heavily involved in the EIC project, and we will work with the Department to secure additional opportunities for Jefferson Lab moving forward – including in the advanced computing space."

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $96,425 in federal funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to support the loading and unloading of barges and research vessels at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Wallops Island. The grant was awarded through the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway grant program.

“We are glad to see these federal dollars go towards helping equip MARS with the resources it needs to continue to carry out important operations and research,” said the Senators. “We have no doubt that with this funding, this facility will continue to help boost our nation’s competitiveness in aeronautics.”

“Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is pleased to learn through Senator Warner’s office that grant funding was awarded from the America’s Marine Highway Program to fund the design and engineering of a new dock/ramp located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Unmanned Systems Airfield on Wallops Island. MARAD should be applauded for leaning forward, uniquely leveraging funds to enhance the M-95 highway by embracing Virginia’s Spaceport and its vision to become a truly intermodal hub with access via Land, Space, Air, and now Sea,” said Virginia Space CEO and Executive Director Dale Nash.

The funding will be used to design a new 520’ long x 30’ wide access trestle and combination dock/ramp to support the loading and unloading of barges and research vessels at MARS. In addition, funds will be used for engineering and consulting services for the integration of the MARS Port with the UAS runway on the north end of Wallops Island.

The Marine Highway Program seeks to expand the use of America's navigable waters by working closely with public and private organizations to develop and expand marine highway service options and facilitate their further integration into the current U.S. surface transportation system, especially where water-based transport is the most efficient, effective and sustainable option. It also works to highlight the benefits, increase public awareness and promote waterways as a viable (in some cases a superior) alternative to "landside" shipping and transportation options.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime advocates of Virginia’s space launch facilities. In 2014, the Senators secured $20 million in funding for Wallops Flight Facility to support repairs following a launch failure in October 2014 that caused significant damage to a MARS launch pad. Additionally, last April, Sen. Warner was joined by Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in touring MARS Pad 0A and a newly-constructed MARS payload processing facility on Wallops Flight Facility. Senator Kaine also toured the facility last May, where he met with Wallops staff to discuss infrastructure improvements in preparation for upcoming missions, construction on the Rocket Lab’s launch pad, and new capabilities at the airfield. Sen. Warner, co-chair of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, has also introduced bipartisan legislation to support innovation, research and development in the aeronautics industry occurring at Wallops. 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after their legislation to treat Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund donations as tax-deductible contributions was signed into law:

“Following the horrific shooting in Virginia Beach, we were heartened to see the community come together to support victims and their families by helping alleviate some of the financial burden of the tragedy,” the Senators said. “Our bill will now make sure that the community’s generosity is treated appropriately by making donations to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund tax-deductible. We are thrilled that Congress and the White House were able to put any partisanship aside and rapidly get this bill signed for the sake of Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth.”

On May 31, 2019, a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, killing 12 people and injuring four. Soon after, the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund was created to support the wounded victims and the families of those killed. However, because the fund was set up exclusively for the benefit of those affected by the tragedy, it violates a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable tax rule that requires a charitable organization to serve a charitable class of persons that is indefinite or of sufficient size. Accordingly, charitable funds can’t be earmarked for specific individuals. As a result, donors are not able to receive a tax deduction for their contributions. The Virginia Beach Strong Act rectifies this flaw by classifying any contribution made on or after May 31, 2019 through June 1, 2021 as tax-deductible.

Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) have been fierce advocates for the victims and families affected by the May 31st shooting. Earlier this month, the Senators secured congressional passage of this legislation and in June, they wrote to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify that victims and families were not being taxed on the contributions they were receiving. In August, the President signed into law legislation the Senators introduced to rename a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox, a longtime public utilities employee who, alongside other victims, sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting. Additionally, the Senators secured unanimous passage earlier this year of a Senate resolution honoring the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.


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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) applauded Congressional passage of the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). After the Senate approved the bill by a vote of 86-8, sending the legislation to the President’s desk for signature, Sen. Warner released the following statement:

“I’ve heard gut-wrenching stories from servicemembers and their families about being subjected to dangerous living conditions in privatized military housing. I’ve walked through these homes in communities across the Commonwealth and have seen firsthand mold and insect-infested conditions that no one should ever be exposed to. Military families shouldn’t have to worry that their homes might make their families sick, nor should they feel powerless when facing companies charged with providing high-quality housing. I’m proud to have secured large portions of my legislation within this bill to provide greater oversight over military housing and to live up to the promises we’ve made to our men and women in uniform.

“I’m also pleased that today’s bill provides a 3.1 percent pay raise for our military and repeals the unjust tax on more than 4,000 military widows in Virginia, which has prevented them from receiving all the benefits to which they are entitled. This bipartisan bill also guarantees 12 weeks of paid parental leave for Virginia’s 170,000 federal civilian employees, which will serve as an important recruitment and retention tool as more and more existing federal workers become eligible for retirement. Additionally, with the passage of today’s bill we are able to provide consistent funding to support our world-class shipbuilding fleet in Hampton Roads. This includes $11 billion for ship repair and the restoration of mid-life refueling for the USS Truman (CVN 75). It also provides funding to execute the Navy’s recently announced block buy of Virginia-class submarines, which will generate 25,000 jobs and save billions in taxpayer dollars. Collectively, these essential shipbuilding programs will support thousands of jobs in the region and help advance our nation’s security and military readiness.

“I also successfully pushed for the inclusion of the bipartisan Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) to provide our intelligence community with the resources they need to protect our country from emerging threats from countries such as China, Russia, and North Korea. The IAA also includes much-needed reforms to modernize our antiquated security clearance process to make sure we have the personnel we need to tackle emerging cyber and technology threats. While we’ve substantially reduced the background investigation backlog to under 300,000, down from 725,000, this bill includes many of my provisions to establish a vetting system that reflects today’s threats, supports our mobile workforce and capitalizes on modern technology.”

Following reports of health hazards in privatized military housing across the Commonwealth and the country, Sen. Warner has fought to improve housing conditions for servicemembers and their families, introducing the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act to make much-needed reforms to privatized military housing. After pushing Congressional negotiators to protect these vital military housing provisions from the NDAA that passed earlier this year in the Senate, Sen. Warner successfully secured large portions of his legislation in this annual defense bill.

In March, Sen. Warner joined then-Secretary of the Army, now-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in visiting Fort Belvoir for a private tour and roundtable discussion to hear directly from military families about their experiences with military housing. Sen. Warner has also met with military families in Norfolk and at Fort Lee. To keep up the pressure on addressing the deplorable housing conditions, Sen. Warner wrote to four private military housing companies requesting a plan of action from each company, and has urged the Department of Defense to develop long-term solutions for fixing the overall privatized housing program by reopening and renegotiating the agreements with the private companies.

As a strong advocate of Virginia’s defense and shipbuilding community, Sen. Warner has supported a block buy of aircraft carriers, saving billions in taxpayer dollars, and pushed for robust funding for shipbuilding and ship-repair in the annual defense bill. In December 2017, Sen. Warner joined 16 Senators in a letter to then-Defense Secretary James Mattis to support a block buy. Last week, Sen. Warner praised the Navy’s block buy of nine Virginia-class submarines, poised to create 25,000 jobs in Hampton Roads, that was authorized in today’s defense bill package.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner also successfully pushed for the inclusion of the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018-2020, to ensure the intelligence community is postured to effectively address the growing array of threats to our national security. This includes provisions Sen. Warner sponsored to make the security clearance system simpler and more effective, including demanding plans to reduce the number of security “tiers,” creating an electronic portal for applicants to track their progress, and much more. The broader defense bill also carries a provision providing twelve weeks of paid parental leave to civilian federal employees. The IAA included an amendment offered by Senator Warner that would have provided a similar benefit to intelligence community employees.

Additionally, the final defense bill prevents the Trump Administration from merging the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the General Services Administration (GSA) without first providing Congress and the public transparency on the rationale behind the move, backed by sound, independent analysis of the potential costs and benefits. This mirrors an effort pushed by Sen. Warner to prevent the federal workforce from being subjected to continued political attacks and increased political interference by the Trump Administration. Also included in the legislation is a provision led by Sen. Warner to provide financial relief to certain civilian federal employees who have to relocate for work.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $883,881 in federal funding from a collaborative program between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The funding will help homeless veterans find affordable and stable housing.

“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed so much in service to our nation, and we owe them our support as they make the transition to civilian life,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased to announce this funding to help those who have served get access to safe and affordable housing.”

The funding will be awarded as follows:

  • Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $38,883 for 5 housing units.
  • Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $37,583 for 5 housing units.
  • Hopewell Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $31,701 for 5 housing units.
  • Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $42,294 for 5 housing units.
  • Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $35,633 for 5 housing units.
  • Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $26,356 for 5 housing units.
  • Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $25,139 for 5 housing units.
  • Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $37,620 for 5 housing units.
  • Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $304,980 for 25 housing units.
  • Petersburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $34,024 for 5 housing units.
  • Virginia Beach Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation will receive $38,464 for 5 housing units.
  • Prince William County Office of Housing and Community Development will receive $231,204 for 20 housing units.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program combines rental assistance voucher programs for homeless veterans administered by HUD with case management and clinical services provided by the VA.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded the Senate passage of the Virginia Beach Strong Act, a bill that would make contributions to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund tax-deductible. The legislation cleared the Senate unanimously following Monday’s passage in the House of Representatives and will now head to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

“Following the tragic shooting in Virginia Beach, folks from across the Commonwealth came together to provide financial relief for victims and families by donating to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund,” said the Senators. “Unfortunately, those donations aren’t considered tax-deductible because the IRS generally disallows a deduction unless the donations go towards a charitable class of sufficient size, as opposed to a small group of individuals. But with Congress passing the Virginia Beach Strong Act, we can now fix this error with a stroke of the President’s pen.”

U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“I am glad to see swift Senate passage of the Virginia Beach Strong Act and I thank Senators Warner and Kaine for their continued support of our Virginia Beach community following the May 31 mass shooting,” said Rep. Luria. “Six months later, many families of the victims are still facing financial hardships related to the shooting, in addition to the devastating loss of a loved one. I remain hopeful that President Trump will join this bicameral, bipartisan effort to support these families by signing into law the Virginia Beach Strong Act.” 

On May 31, 2019, a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, killing 12 people and injuring four. Soon after, the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund was created to support the wounded victims and the families of those killed. However, because the fund was set up exclusively for the benefit of those affected by the tragedy, it violates a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable tax rule that requires a charitable organization to serve a charitable class of persons that is indefinite or of sufficient size.  Accordingly, charitable funds can’t be earmarked for specific individuals. As a result, donations to the fund are not currently tax-deductible for those making the contributions. Once signed into law, the Virginia Beach Strong Act would rectify this flaw by classifying any contribution made on or after May 31, 2019 as tax-deductible.

Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with Rep. Luria have been fierce advocates for the victims and families affected by this mass shooting. In June, Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify that victims and families were not being taxed on the contributions they were receiving. In August, the President signed into law legislation the Senators introduced to rename a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox, a longtime public utilities employee who, alongside other victims, sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting. Additionally, the Senators secured unanimous passage earlier this year of a Senate resolution honoring the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined ship sponsor and former U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Navy and the shipbuilding community in celebration of the christening for aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) at the Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Newport News, Va.

In today’s remarks, Sen. Warner recognized Virginia’s strong defense community, including the more than 14,000 men and women who support the Commonwealth’s shipbuilding industry, and applauded the more than 800 ships built by Newport News Shipbuilding since its founding in 1886.

“We are gathered today in celebration of the Kennedy’s entrance into America’s storied carrier program but also in recognition of what it took to get here. I want to commend the nearly 5,000 shipbuilders each of whom played an indispensable role in building this ship. They truly are the greatest shipbuilders in the world,” said Sen. Warner in his remarks.

The John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) is the first aircraft carrier in the Ford Class to utilize electric power, replacing many legacy steam?powered systems, and is the second aircraft carrier built by Newport News Shipbuilding named after JFK. The ship’s design will reduce necessary maintenance by 30 percent and is estimated to save the Navy more than $4 billion over the ship’s 50?year life. 

In October 2017, Sen. Warner joined Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin and shipbuilders on a tour of the main deck of the John F. Kennedy, which was only 60 percent complete at the time.

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate of Virginia’s defense and shipbuilding community. He has supported a block buy of aircraft carriers, saving billions in taxpayer dollars; and pushed for robust funding for shipbuilding and ship-repair in the annual defense bill. In December 2017, Sen. Warner joined Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and 15 Senators in a letter to then-Defense Secretary James Mattis to support a block buy. Earlier this week, Sen. Warner praised the Navy’s block buy of nine Virginia-class submarines that is poised to create 25,000 jobs in the region.

 

Sen. Warner’s full remarks as prepared for delivery can be found below:

Thank you, President Boykin. It’s an honor to celebrate this great day for our Navy… for our Commonwealth… and for our Country.

To Ambassador Kennedy and our honored guests, allow me to welcome you to the Commonwealth.

December 7th is a somber day in our history — a reminder of both the sacrifice and courage displayed at Pearl Harbor… 78 years ago today. I think it’s fitting that we christen this great ship in honor of a man… whose legacy is defined by courage… both as a Naval Officer and as our Commander-in-Chief.

It will stand as a testament to the service members gathered here today… and the thousands more who will Serve with Courage aboard the USS John F. Kennedy for years to come.

The truth is, our aircraft carriers are the foundation of America’s stabilizing influence… in a turbulent world. Their combat capabilities can match any threat… on land… in the air… and at sea.

But these floating cities also represent unmatched humanitarian and disaster relief capabilities… empowering the Navy to exercise the compassion of the American people throughout the world.

We are gathered today in celebration… of The Kennedy’s entrance into America’s storied carrier program… but also in recognition…of what it took to get here.

I want to commend the nearly 5000 shipbuilders… each of whom played an indispensable role in building this ship.

Our shipbuilders comprise a community of nearly 14,000 Virginia workers… whose jobs are supported by the carrier industrial base. They represent the greatness of America’s manufacturing potential… and a long, proud tradition of skilled shipbuilders here in Virginia. They truly are the greatest shipbuilders in the world.

So much of our Naval history has been written here in Hampton Roads. And the more than 800 ships built by Newport News Shipbuilding define a significant part of that history.

And with the contract signed just this week… to block-buy nine new Virginia-Class submarines… this shipbuilding tradition will continue here in Newport News… sustaining thousands of good-paying jobs for years to come.

Smart investments in our military readiness… and strong, consistent funding for our nation’s shipbuilding base are absolutely critical:

…for advancing our national security

…for sustaining American manufacturing jobs

… and for strengthening communities like Hampton Roads that make it all possible.

So to our shipbuilders…to our men and women in uniform… and to all who have gathered here today: Thank you for what you do… and for allowing me to join in celebrating the USS John F. Kennedy.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement after the Navy signed a contract to block buy nine Virginia-class submarines:

“We’re glad the Navy reached this deal to save taxpayer dollars and help protect our nation. We’ve long supported Virginia-class submarines, and we’re excited that this move will strengthen our shipbuilding community in Hampton Roads, where these submarines are built.”

Warner and Kaine have supported funding for the submarines in the annual defense bill and discussed the benefits of Virginia-class submarines with military leadership.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded the inclusion of the Aeronautics Innovation Act – legislation he introduced to help boost aeronautics industry innovation, research and development – in the NASA Authorization Act that was approved today by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. The NASA funding bill, led by Commerce Committee leaders Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), would provide the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the clear direction needed to advance the nation’s space initiatives and investments and assert the United States’ global leadership in the final frontier.

“If we want to lead the way in aeronautics innovation, we have to make decisive investments in long-term research and development,” said Sen. Warner. “I applaud my colleagues on the Commerce Committee for including key provisions of my Aeronautics Innovation Act into this year’s NASA funding bill and for their work in getting this through the committee. These provisions will help secure our nation’s standing as the leader in cutting-edge aeronautics innovation and technology.”

Earlier this year, Sens. Warner and Jerry Moran (R-KS), co-chairs of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, reintroduced the Aeronautics Innovation Act to provide a five-year funding commitment to advance innovation and supplement research in the aeronautics industry.

In 2017, the U.S. aerospace and defense industry produced approximately 2.4 million jobs and generated $865 billion in economic output. However, without the proper strategy and investment, the U.S. risks falling behind other industrialized nations in developing and advancing the next generation of aircraft. Forecasts estimate that the world’s demand for passenger aircraft fleet above 100 seats will double over the next 20 years, generating between 35,000 and 40,000 new plane orders, which will be worth more than $5 trillion by 2035.

In addition to advancing aeronautics industry innovation, research and development, the NASA Authorization Act of 2019 would:

  • Authorize NASA to reimburse the Town of Chincoteague for the purchase and installation of new production wells to replace contaminated wells located on NASA Wallops Flight Facility property.
  • Support NASA’s human spaceflight and exploration efforts to return American astronauts to the Moon and prepare for future journeys to Mars.
  • Extend authorization for the International Space Station through 2030 and direct NASA to take steps to grow the “space economy.”
  • Require the United States to maintain a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit through and beyond the useful life of the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Support NASA’s leadership in coordinating the development of next generation spacesuits.
  • Leverage private sector investment to bolster human space exploration.
  • Authorize NASA's Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL) authority. EUL allows companies to lease vacant or underutilized buildings owned by NASA with lease proceeds helping to fund capital improvements at the NASA centers.
  • Provide rapid acquisition authorities similar to those that have proven successful at the Department of Defense and other agencies.
  • Direct NASA to maintain and upgrade irreplaceable rocket launch and test infrastructure. 
  • Support vital life and physical science research to ensure that humans can live in deep space safely.
  • Direct NASA to improve upon its planetary defense measures in order to protect Earth from asteroids and other near-Earth objects.
  • Affirm NASA’s commitment to aeronautics research by supporting a robust X-plane program as well as work on efficient propulsion concepts and advanced composites.
  • Support NASA’s STEM education and workforce efforts.

Last week, the President signed into law a bill introduced by Sens. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) to award the Congressional Gold Medical to four African-American women scientists for their work at NASA Langley.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine to award four African-American women scientists the Congressional Gold Medal for their work at NASA Langley was signed into law by President Trump. The award distinguishes Katherine Johnson, Dr. Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, posthumously awarding the medal to the latter two. It serves to commend these women for their contributions to NASA’s success during the Space Race and highlight their broader impact on society — paving the way for women, especially women of color, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“We are thrilled that these four trailblazers are being recognized with this honor,” the Senators said. “Their engineering and calculations were essential to our nation’s success in the Space Race, but for too long, they didn’t receive the acknowledgment they deserve.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the U.S. It is awarded to those who have performed an achievement that has had an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized in the recipient’s field for years to come.

The Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act will honor:

  • Katherine Johnson, who calculated trajectories for multiple NASA space missions including the first human spaceflight by an American, Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission. She also calculated trajectories for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission to orbit the earth. During her time at NASA, she became the first woman recognized as an author of a report from the Flight Research Division.
  • Dorothy Vaughan, who led the West Area Computing unit for nine years as the first African American supervisor at National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became NASA. She later became an expert programmer in FORTRAN as a part of NASA’s Analysis and Computation Division.
  • Mary Jackson, who petitioned the City of Hampton to allow her to take graduate-level courses in math and physics at night at the all-white Hampton High School in order to become an engineer at NASA. She was the first female African-American engineer at the agency. Later in her career, she worked to improve the prospects of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers, and scientists as Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager.
  • Dr. Christine Darden, who became an engineer at NASA 16 years after Mary Jackson. She worked to revolutionize aeronautic design, wrote over 50 articles on aeronautics design, and became the first African-American person of any gender to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service at Langley.

The lives and careers of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden were featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly. That book was adapted into the 2016 film Hidden Figures, which the Senators showed at a Capitol Hill screening for hundreds of Virginia students in 2017. In addition, Sens. Warner & Kaine honored Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson by acknowledging their achievements in an official statement that was enshrined in the Congressional Record.

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Caucus, joined Senate colleagues and leaders from HBCUs – including a student from Virginia Union University in Richmond – in calling on the Senate to pass the bipartisan FUTURE Act, which would restore $255 million in federal funding for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) that expired on September 30. While the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the FUTURE Act in September, Senate Republicans have blocked this critical legislation from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.

Virginia is home to Virginia Union University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Hampton University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg – all of which stand to lose funding if the Senate fails to act.

“In Virginia, we’re talking about nearly $4 million in funding last year that is at risk unless we pass the FUTURE Act,” said Sen. Warner during today’s press conference. “This is an investment in our students. It’s an investment in the middle class. And it’s time for the federal government to live up its commitment.”

Sen. Warner was also joined today by Jalynn Hodges, a biology major currently serving as the first-ever elected student representative for the Board of Trustees at Virginia Union University (VUU), who underscored how renewing this funding would enable the Virginia Union community to continue to support students who pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“When I arrived at my prestigious HBCU in fall of 2017, I entered the gateway into my future. During my first year, I conducted research in our neuroscience and chemistry laboratory where I learned technical and analytical skills that are essential to my long-term academic and professional goals,” said Jalynn Hodges, biology major at VUU.  “With continued mandatory funding, students and faculty will be afforded access to ever changing equipment and laboratories that are consistent with industry standards. It is because of VUU that I am a better version of myself - one who is confident and assured that resources that have been afforded to me have prepared me for my graduate studies in medicine.”

Earlier this week, Sen. Warner joined more than three dozen Senators in a letter to Senate leaders calling for passage of the bipartisan FUTURE Act legislation to renew this vital funding for Virginia’s HBCUs.

“As Virginia’s most affordable 4-year public university, Norfolk State provides access to a quality higher education in a culturally diverse and supportive learning environment. Failure to restore Title III Part F mandatory funding for HBCUs will represent more than a $5.8 million loss for NSU. Without this funding, Norfolk State’s educational programs in both teacher preparation and the STEM fields will be put at risk at a time when we are working to increase diversity in the front of our classrooms, and grow the pipeline of diverse STEM graduates to fill the jobs of the new economy. Norfolk State University expresses appreciation to Senators Warner and Kaine for their leadership on this critical issue, and urges all Senators to join them in securing the future of America’s HBCUs and the students they serve by passing the FUTURE Act,” said Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, President of Norfolk State University.

“Failure to pass the FUTURE Act will have serious consequences for America’s HBCUs, their students, and my peers. Norfolk State University’s supportive and culturally aware learning environment has helped me to grow as a leader and put me on the path to success. I would likely not have had these opportunities at other schools. All students regardless of their socio-economic background deserve access to a quality higher education and the opportunity to realize their full potential. It is time for Congress to stand with the students of America’s HBCUs by voting to pass the FUTURE Act,” said Linei Woodson, President of Norfolk State University’s Student Government Association.  

In the mid-1990s, as a successful tech entrepreneur, Warner – who is also a former member of the Board of Trustees at Virginia Union – helped to create the Virginia High-Tech Partnership (VHTP) to connect students attending Virginia’s five HBCUs with internship opportunities in tech firms across the Commonwealth.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with David Collins, the new Director of the Hampton VA Medical Center, at Sen. Warner’s office in Washington, D.C.

In the meeting, Sen. Warner and Director Collins discussed staffing challenges and shortages at the Hampton VA Medical Center and how these factors may have contributed to the problems raised last month by an Inspector General report related to managing and tracking supplies. Additionally, they spoke about suicide prevention efforts and strategies for reducing wait times for medical services, including primary care and mental health care. During the meeting, Sen. Warner also reiterated his commitment to increasing access for one of the fastest growing veterans populations in the nation and pushing for the completion of a new VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in South Hampton Roads.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for the nation – the least we can do is to make sure they get top-notch medical care once they are back home,” said Sen. Warner. “I am committed to working with Director Collins to help mitigate the challenges at Hampton VA Medical Center. But the VA also needs more capacity in the Hampton region to meet the growing demands of our veteran population. While we may have cleared the last Congressional hurdle for approving the new clinic lease prospectus in South Hampton Roads, our work is not done until this clinic is fully-functional and serving our veterans.”

Sen. Warner has been a longtime advocate of improving care for veterans in the Commonwealth. In 2017, he successfully pushed for Congress to approve overdue medical leases on 28 major Veteran’s Affairs (VA) facilities, including one in Hampton Roads, which is projected to ease the workload at the Hampton VA Medical Center, and another in Fredericksburg. Since then, Sen. Warner has pushed to get these facilities up and running by pressuring the GSA and the VA to move these projects forward, pushing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to sign off on these clinics’ lease prospectuses, and successfully urging the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) to bring up the prospectuses for approval.

Sen. Warner has also long fought to reduce wait times for veterans in Hampton Roads. In 2015, confronted with wait times that were three times the national average, Sen. Warner successfully urged the VA to send down a team of experts to try 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.

Director Collins, who was appointed director of the Hampton VA Medical Center in August of 2019, is a 28-year Veteran of the Navy Medical Service Corps, whose recent appointments include service as the Executive Assistant to the Navy Surgeon General, Commanding Officer of the Jacksonville Naval Hospital, and Chief Operating Officer of the Naval Hospital in Bremerton, Washington. He also spent time as the Executive Officer for NATO’s Multinational Medical Unit in Afghanistan, demonstrating an ability to relate to other military Veterans with a similar background. He is a current resident of the Hampton and Chesapeake Community.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued a statement today on the passing of former state Del. Alan A. Diamonstein:

Alan Diamonstein was a powerful force in Virginia, national politics and his community. He was a major figure in making our Commonwealth a more inclusive, forward-looking and fairer place.

“I was proud to call him an adviser and a mentor, but most importantly – my dear friend.

“I will miss Alan very much, and will be thinking of Beverly and their children during this difficult time.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), member of the Senate Finance Committee, along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) have introduced legislation to provide financial relief to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund to help Virginia Beach shooting victims get the financial assistance they need. The Virginia Beach Strong Act would ensure that any donations made to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund on behalf of the families of the dead or wounded victims of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach are tax-deductible.

“There is nothing we can do to undo this tragedy or bring back the individuals we lost in this senseless act of violence, but we can try to make it as easy as possible for families and those injured to get the relief they need,” said the Senators. “This legislation will further incentivize donations to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund by making sure that contributions to victims and families are permitted to be treated as charitable contributions.”

U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives that is supported by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

“On May 31st, our Virginia Beach community experienced an unspeakable tragedy that led to the loss of 12 wonderful people,” Rep. Luria said. “In the wake of our community’s darkest day, we saw countless selfless people donate to provide relief for grieving families. I am introducing the Virginia Beach Strong Act to make it easier to help bring more urgently-needed support to grieving families.”

On May 31, 2019, a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, killing 12 people and injuring four. Soon after, the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund was created to support the wounded victims and the families of those killed. However, because the fund was set up exclusively for the benefit of those affected by the tragedy, it violates a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable tax rule that prohibits charitable funds from being earmarked for specific individuals. As a result, donations to the fund are not currently tax-deductible for those making the contributions.

The Virginia Beach Strong Act would clarify that any contribution made for the relief of the families of the dead or wounded victims is treated as a tax-deductible contribution. This legislation would also apply retroactively, classifying any such contribution made on or after May 31, 2019 as tax-deductible.

Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with Rep. Luria have been fierce advocates for the victims and families affected by this mass shooting. In August, they successfully passed bicameral legislation to rename a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox, a longtime public utilities employee who, alongside other victims, sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting. In June, Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify that victims and families were not being taxed on the contributions they were receiving. Additionally, the Senators secured unanimous passage earlier this year of a Senate resolution honoring the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.

The full text of the bill is available here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $23,185,283 in federal funding from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to support improvement projects at 11 airports.

“We’re excited to announce that these federal dollars will benefit 11 Virginia airports,” said the Senators. “We look forward to seeing how these grants will help improve safety and increase efficiency at airports all across the Commonwealth.”

  • Washington Dulles International Airport will receive $854,786 to support Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) infrastructure.
  • Manassas Regional Airport/Harry P. Davis Field will receive $3,513,300 to construct a taxiway, improve a runway safety area, and rehabilitate a runway.
  • Warrenton-Fauquier Airport will receive $150,000 to rehabilitate a taxiway and rehabilitate a runway.
  • Leesburg Executive Airport will receive $205,000 to construct an apron.
  • Richmond International Airport will receive $8,733,800 to construct a taxiway.
  • Lynchburg Regional Airport/Preston Glenn Field will receive $305,148 to rehabilitate and construct aprons, and rehabilitate a taxiway.
  • Norfolk International Airport will receive $3,591,524 to acquire land for approaches, install airfield guidance signs, rehabilitate taxiway lighting, rehabilitate a taxiway and acquire friction-measuring equipment.
  • Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport will receive $90,000 to conduct a study.
  • Virginia Highlands Airport will receive $4,150,000 to extend a runway.
  • Luray Caverns Airport will receive $1,291,725 to construct an apron.
  • Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport will receive $300,000 to construct a taxiway and acquire safety and/or security equipment.

The funding was awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which supports infrastructure improvement projects at airports across the nation. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for greater infrastructure investments, including for Virginia’s airports. They have pushed back against the Trump Administration’s suggested budget cuts to DOT to help ensure that critical upgrades like these can happen. Earlier this year, Sen. Warner introduced a bill to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic stimulus.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,455,722.85 in federal funding for the Lexington, Manassas, Bristol, and Portsmouth Fire Departments. The funding will be awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.

“It’s crucial for firefighters to have the tools necessary to best serve their communities,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased to announce this funding to help local fire departments across Virginia purchase equipment to enhance public safety.”

The following Virginia fire departments will receive funding under the AFG program:

  • The City of Lexington Fire Department will receive $88,460.95 to purchase equipment.
  • The City of Manassas Fire Department will receive $332,500 to purchase personal protective equipment.
  • The City of Bristol Fire Department will receive $404,761.90 to purchase communications equipment.
  • The City of Portsmouth Fire Department will receive $630,000 to purchase equipment.

FEMA’s AFG program works to strengthen the safety of the public and firefighters by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations, and State Fire Training Academies for critically-needed resources.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine condemned the Trump Administration’s plans to build portions of President Trump’s border wall by diverting $3.6 billion in military construction funds, including by taking funding from four projects in Virginia:

“The decision by the President to divert funding meant to support U.S. national security interests so that he can build a border wall only makes us less safe,” said Warner. “Taking money away from our military – including funding to support critical projects here in Virginia – will mean we are less equipped to tackle threats here at home and abroad.”

“I’m deeply concerned about President Trump’s plan to pull funding from critical national security projects – including millions of dollars from important projects in Virginia – so he can build his border wall. The well-being of American troops is the core responsibility of every commander in the military, yet the Commander-in-Chief is shirking that duty so he can advance his own political agenda,” said Kaine.

The Department of Defense informed Warner and Kaine that the Trump Administration plans to take the following funding away from military construction projects in Virginia:

  • Cyber Operations Facility at Joint Base Langley-Eustis will lose $10,000,000.
  • Navy Ships Maintenance Facility in Portsmouth will lose $26,120,000.
  • A project to replace a hazardous materials warehouse in Norfolk will lose $18,500,000.
  • A project to replace a hazardous materials warehouse in Portsmouth will lose $22,500,000.

Warner and Kaine have been outspoken against President Trump’s plan to pull money from military construction projects to build his border wall since it was initially announced earlier this year. Kaine has demanded details on the projects that will lose funding and called on his colleagues in the Senate to oppose the Administration’s efforts.  

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