Warner & Kaine Applaud Plans to Allow Adoption of Nearly Four Thousand Dogs From Envigo Breeding Facility in Cumberland
Jul 02 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the statement below, celebrating a joint plan between the Department of Justice and Envigo RMS LLC. to facilitate the surrender of nearly four thousand dogs from an Envigo breeding facility in Cumberland, Va., which has been repeatedly cited for egregious animal welfare violations. Under the agreement, ownership and physical custody of the dogs will be transferred to the Humane Society of the Unites States (HSUS), which will work to place these dogs into homes. This transfer is the result of a warrant and subsequent lawsuit filed by federal authorities after Sens. Warner and Kaine shed light on the issue and demanded federal action. After a preliminary injunction against the facility was issued in the Western District of Virginia, Envigo and its parent company agreed to close the facility permanently, meaning that soon no more dogs will be made to suffer in the horrific conditions at the Cumberland, Virginia site.
“After months of advocacy, we’re heartened to know that nearly 4,000 Envigo dogs will be spared a lifetime of suffering and will instead head to loving homes. We’re also pleased to know that Inotiv – Envigo’s parent company – will shutter its Cumberland facility and that no more dogs will be subject to the appalling conditions and inexcusable distress endured by so many dogs and puppies at the facility. We will continue working in the Senate to prevent the mistreatment of innocent animals across Virginia and the nation,” said the senators.
In March, Sens. Warner and Kaine expressed horror and demanded immediate and aggressive action by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) following more than 70 animal welfare violations at the Envigo breeding and research facility in Cumberland. After these calls for action, the federal government stepped in, seizing 446 beagles in acute distress and placing a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the breeding, sale, or otherwise dealing of beagles at the Cumberland facility.
Sen. Warner, a dog owner, has been an advocate for dogs in Virginia and throughout the country, earning a 100% on the Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Scorecard for 2021. In March, Sen. Warner secured the passage of new language requiring the Department of State to report on the status of dogs in the Explosive Detection Canine Program (EDCP). This program came under scrutiny in 2019 after an Inspector General (IG) report found that the Department failed to conduct proper follow-up after sending highly-trained dogs to foreign partner nations, resulting in the death of at least ten dogs from largely preventable illnesses.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been consistent cosponsors of the Puppy Protection Act, which would amend the Animal Welfare Act to include additional care and safety standards for dog breeders like Envigo. Under the bill, breeders would be required to house dogs in appropriately sized enclosures with solid ground and keep them on a regular diet and exercise routine. As Governor of Virginia, Kaine signed a law that imposed stricter legal penalties for dogfighting offenses.
Warner & Kaine Announce More Than $2 Million in Federal Funding For Martinsville-Based Manufacturing Partnership
Jun 30 2022
WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,140,321 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the A.L. Philpott Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP), also known as GENEDGE Alliance, in Martinsville. This funding will help GENEDGE better support small and medium-sized manufacturing companies across Virginia with expanding their reach, growing our manufacturing industry, using high-tech solutions, optimizing their facilities, boosting efficiency, and training and mentoring workers.
“The pandemic and war in Ukraine have underscored the importance of supporting domestic manufacturing. We’re excited to announce this funding, which will grow Virginia’s manufacturing industry,” the senators said. “This investment will help ensure small and medium-sized manufacturers have the resources they need.”
GENEDGE is a part of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network. In Fiscal Year 2021, the MEP National Network generated $26.20 in new sales growth for manufacturers for every one dollar received in federal funding.
Warner & Kaine Announce Nearly $7 Million in Funding for Reentry Training & Employment Programs in Newport News and Roanoke
Jun 29 2022
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $6,999,632 in federal funding for the Hampton Roads Community Action Program and Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley to provide training and career counseling services to incarcerated individuals so that they are prepared for employment opportunities and able to successfully transition into the workforce following their release.
“By expanding employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated Virginians, we can help them successfully transition back into the community, reduce recidivism, and strengthen our neighborhoods,” said the senators. “This federal funding will help individuals find employment and stay on the right track.”
The funding is distributed as follows:
- $3,999,633 for the Hampton Roads Community Action Program, Inc. in Newport News
- $2,999,999 for Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, Inc. in Roanoke
The grants were awarded through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA)’s Pathway Homes program, which works to improve employability outcomes for adults during the reentry process from incarceration.
In 2018, Warner and Kaine voted to pass the First Step Act, which reauthorized grant funding for state and local reentry programs that reduce recidivism. In 2015, Warner and Kaine successfully urged President Obama to “ban the box” on federal job applications to help expand job opportunities and reduce recidivism among ex-offenders. “Ban the Box” refers to the section on job application forms that inquired whether the applicant has ever been convicted.
Statement of Warner, Kaine, Luria & Scott on Inspector General Report Detailing Failures at Hampton VAMC
Jun 28 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined by Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) and Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) issued the following statement in response to the release of a Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General report detailing failures at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Hampton, VA that led to a delayed cancer diagnosis during the period of 2019 to 2021:
“We are appalled and disheartened to learn that a series of failures at the Hampton VA Medical Center led to a veteran’s delayed cancer diagnosis. Veterans and their families must be able to trust that they are receiving high-quality, comprehensive, and timely health care whenever they turn to the VA — and it is the VA’s responsibility to provide that level of care to its patients. The findings outlined in the Inspector General report suggest a dangerous series of care coordination and communication failings, both at the individual and systemic level. We commit to engaging directly with the senior leadership at Hampton and pursuing appropriate accountability. We are also committed to conducting close oversight as the Hampton VAMC works to implement the Inspector General’s recommendations, and put in place processes to guard against future failings as happened here.”
Warner, Baldwin Lead Colleagues in Urging Biden Administration to Support Made in USA Masks, Prevent Future Shortages
Jun 27 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) led a group of their colleagues in sending a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure expressing their strong support for a CMS proposal that encourages hospitals to buy American products and bolsters American mask manufacturers to help prevent future shortages of lifesaving personal protective equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the shortage of American made, medical use-approved masks that are essential for the protection of healthcare workers, and the proposed effort by CMS will help prevent future shortages and support American manufacturers.
“It is critically important now and moving forward for our country to possess a ready-supply of NIOSH-approved surgical N95 respirators and raw material inputs that are wholly domestically made,” said the senators. “U.S. companies and their workers are ready to support this effort, and we applaud your work to ensure that hospitals and health systems have the resources needed to buy American-made masks.”
The letter was also signed by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bob Casey (D-PA).
The full letter can be found here or below:
The Honorable Chiquita Brooks-LaSure
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21244
Dear Administrator Brooks La-Sure:
We write to express our strong support for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal to bolster American mask manufacturers and encourage hospitals to buy American. Specifically, we appreciate CMS’ recognition of the need for a robust domestic supply of surgical N95 respirators in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule. It is critically important that the agency move forward with a final rule that would provide payment adjustments to support hospitals’ purchase of domestically produced NIOSH-approved surgical N95 respirators.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, American hospitals faced severe shortages of NIOSH-approved surgical N95 respirators. These surgical respirators are essential for the protection of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and those who provide care to patients, and we must do everything we can to prevent future shortages. Thankfully, for the past two years, American companies and American workers have retooled manufacturing lines to meet the need for this essential product. The entrepreneurship and patriotism of these companies has saved lives, and we now have dozens more manufacturers of N95 respirators, their components and raw materials, based here in the United States than we did before the pandemic, when less than 10 percent of N95 respirators were manufactured domestically.
Unfortunately, too many U.S.-based manufacturers are struggling to exist as hospitals and health systems continue to grapple with the choice between purchasing more expensive domestically-made N95s or cheaper masks made in China. We agree that implementation of a payment adjustment for purchases of wholly domestically made NIOSH-approved surgical N95 respirators would help sustain “a level of supply resilience for surgical N95 respirators that is critical to protect the health and safety of personnel and patients in a public health emergency.” Both approaches outlined by the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule would improve our nationwide preparedness for future threats, promote the safety of providers and patients, and bolster our domestic manufacturing supply chains by supporting our Made in America economy. Further, we encourage CMS to examine ways to incentivize purchases of other domestically manufactured PPE, including surgical and isolation gowns, face masks, face shields, and eyewear, during future rulemaking.
It is critically important now and moving forward for our country to possess a ready-supply of NIOSH-approved surgical N95 respirators and raw material inputs that are wholly domestically made. U.S. companies and their workers are ready to support this effort, and we applaud your work to ensure that hospitals and health systems have the resources needed to buy American-made masks.
WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, important legislation to reduce gun violence, into law:
“Gun violence has scarred too many communities in Virginia and across the country. But today, for the first time in decades, meaningful legislation to curb gun violence has been signed into law. However, our fight to make our communities safer is not over. Success begets success, and today’s victory lays the foundation for more progress.”
The bipartisan proposal includes similar provisions to those proposed by Sens. Warner and Kaine in their Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence—a bill they introduced last year based on a series of commonsense measures adopted by Virginia. These provisions include improving background checks, strengthening safeguards for victims of domestic violence, and incentivizing states to implement their own Extreme Risk Protection Orders to remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others.
Van Hollen, Cardin, Kaine, Warner Present Prisoner of War Medals to Maryland Veteran Ronald Dolecki & Virginia Veteran David Strickland
Jun 24 2022
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Sens. Mark R Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) in presenting POW medals to Virginia veteran David Strickland and Maryland veteran Army Specialist Ronald Dolecki.
“In 1975, Army Specialist David S. Strickland was abducted while serving our nation. He spent four months in captivity, enduring ongoing physical and psychological hardships and not knowing when, or if, he would ever see his family again,” said Sen. Warner. “Although this recognition is more than 46 years overdue, I’m very proud to join my colleagues in recognizing Specialist Strickland’s sacrifice with the Prisoner of War Medal he rightfully deserves.”
“This is about fairness. The change that was made in the NDAA is not only opening up opportunities for Army Specialist David S. Strickland and Army Sergeant Ron Dolecki to be recognized with the POW medal. The change that has been made is going to enable many, many others who have long been denied to eventually see the day that they do as well. That work is already underway thanks to this effort. I know I speak for all of us: we feel honored to play a part in getting here,” said Sen. Kaine.
“Ron Dolecki’s story is the story of American heroism. After making a daring escape from captivity in Ethiopia, he helped save his two mission partners who were also taken prisoner. He displayed true courage in action, and after a years-long effort to award him the Prisoner of War Medal, we were finally able to secure the recognition he so clearly deserves,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “It is my honor to congratulate Ron and thank his family and friends who helped get this across the finish line.”
“We cannot overstate our gratitude for all the sacrifices made by Specialist Dolecki while serving this country. He is a hero who endured excruciating conditions while held captive,” said Sen. Cardin. “It is a privilege to join in honoring Mr. Dolecki for his incredible spirit, patriotism, grit and bravery.”
Statement of U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner On Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
Jun 24 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the federal constitutional right to abortion in America:
“This decision jeopardizes the health and autonomy of millions of American women and turns back the clock on nearly 50 years of settled and reaffirmed law – reflecting a Court that has increasingly issued politicized rulings that undermine the fundamental rights of Americans. This decision will take control over personal health care decisions away from individuals and give it to politicians in state legislatures across the country. I am heartbroken for the generations of women who now have fewer rights than when they were born, many of whom will be forced into life-threatening or prohibitively expensive circumstances to access health care as a result of this radical decision. For them and for all Virginians and Americans, I will continue working to protect needed access to safe, legal abortion.”
In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman's freedom to choose to have an abortion. The Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade means that after nearly 50 years, this freedom is no longer guaranteed nationwide, and more than half of states are expected to ban or harshly limit access to abortion following today’s ruling. In several states, there will be no exceptions for women who become pregnant through rape or incest or in cases where abortion is necessary to protect the health of the woman.
Overturning Roe v. Wade also opens the door for states to attempt to restrict or ban common birth control methods such as Plan B or intrauterine devices.
Virginia and Maryland Senators Welcome Silver Line Expansion Milestone, Urge Safe, Expeditious Completion of Project
Jun 23 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD) released the following statement regarding Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) announcement that the Silver Line expansion project, which will provide service to Loudoun County, is fully constructed and now ready for final operational readiness testing:
“Today’s news takes us one big step closer to our shared goal of ensuring that our transportation infrastructure is reliable, convenient, and capable of keeping up with the National Capital Region’s growth. We welcome this development and encourage WMATA to safely and expeditiously put the finishing touches on this project so the Silver Line can fully open for customer service.”
While he was Governor, Kaine helped broker the deal between Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), WMATA, the Commonwealth and local governments to construct the Silver Line. He also led efforts to secure 900 million in federal funds for Phase I of the project.
Warner, Hagerty Send Letter to House Leadership Urging Immediate Passage of Emergency Funding Bill to Protect U.S. Supreme Court Justices
Jun 23 2022
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sens. Mark R Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee today sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urging the House of Representatives to immediately pass and send to the President’s desk—before adjourning this week—the Warner-Hagerty bipartisan legislation providing emergency security resources to protect the U.S. Supreme Court, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent yesterday.
“There is no question that the Supreme Court, its justices, their families, and court employees are under unprecedented threat, as evidenced by recent highly publicized threats against Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Sotomayor. These threats may very well become more acute in the coming weeks, as the Court concludes its term. There is no question that protecting the Court from these threats requires additional, unexpected resources in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22),” the senators wrote.
The Supreme Court Security Funding Act of 2022, which the senators introduced last week, provides an additional $10.3 million to the U.S. Marshals Service and $9.1 million to the U.S. Supreme Court to cover unexpected, increased security costs for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). If the funding is not immediately provided, the Court and Marshals Service will be forced to transfer funds from other critical functions and entities.
“Last week, Congress passed—and the President signed into law—important legislation by Senators Cornyn and Coons to increase the scope of authorized Supreme Court Police protection to include the justices’ immediate family members. There should be no question regarding whether Congress will similarly provide the resources necessary to protect the Supreme Court during this hour of need. We look forward to the House swiftly passing this legislation so that it can be enacted into law before the Supreme Court concludes its term in the next couple of weeks,” the senators concluded.
A copy of the letter can be found below.
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy,
Yesterday, the Senate passed by unanimous consent the Supreme Court Security Funding Act of 2022, which we introduced last week. This bipartisan legislation provides emergency security resources to protect the Supreme Court of the United States. We strongly urge the House of Representatives to immediately pass H.R. 4346, as amended by the Senate, before adjourning this week, so that this time-sensitive legislation is sent directly to the President’s desk.
The need for and urgency of this security funding is plain. There is no question that the Supreme Court, its justices, their families, and court employees are under unprecedented threat, as evidenced by recent highly publicized threats against Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Sotomayor. These threats may very well become more acute in the coming weeks, as the Court concludes its term. There is no question that protecting the Court from these threats requires additional, unexpected resources in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). This legislation provides those necessary resources.
More specifically, the U.S. Marshals Service has been providing around-the-clock security for the nine Justices at their homes and needs $10.3 million in additional funding to cover these costs for the remainder of FY22. The Supreme Court needs $9.1 million to cover its increased security costs for FY22, from overtime pay for Supreme Court Police officers to mutual-aid payments to assisting law enforcement agencies and increased physical security around the Supreme Court Building.
If Congress does not immediately provide this funding, the Court and Marshals Service will have to transfer funds from other critical functions and entities, like the U.S. District Courts and U.S. Courts of Appeals.
Last week, Congress passed—and the President signed into law—important legislation by Senators Cornyn and Coons to increase the scope of authorized Supreme Court Police protection to include the justices’ immediate family members. There should be no question regarding whether Congress will similarly provide the resources necessary to protect the Supreme Court during this hour of need.
We look forward to the House swiftly passing this legislation so that it can be enacted into law before the Supreme Court concludes its term in the next couple of weeks.
Jun 23 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced the designation of $9,000,000 in federal funding to three Virginia-based organizations helping to provide affordable housing and services to low-income individuals. The funds were administered by the United States Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund through the department’s Capital Magnet Fund.
“Affordable, safe housing should be available to every Virginian,” the senators said. “This funding will allow Virginia organizations to continue their crucial work of securing housing for those in need.”
The funds will be broken down as follows:
- $5,000,000 for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Inc. in Arlington, VA.
- $2,000,000 for AHC Inc. in Arlington, VA.
- $2,000,000 for the Piedmont Housing Alliance in Charlottesville, VA.
This funding comes in addition to the nearly $115 million in funding for affordable housing in Virginia announced earlier this year. Sens. Warner and Kaine, a former fair housing attorney, have long supported efforts to increase affordable housing in Virginia. The Senators have introduced legislation that would address rising home prices, assist first-generation homebuyers, and close the widening wealth and homeownership gaps. Also today, Kaine led the introduction of the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2022, which would expand protections under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to include banning discrimination based on source of income, giving more individuals and families access to affordable housing and a shot at economic mobility.
Sen. Warner has also been a leader in Congress for CDFI investment. To combat the hemorrhaging of jobs and economic opportunities during the pandemic, Sen. Warner led a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act. Sen. Warner was later able to secure provisions from the bill in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, providing an unprecedented $12 billion in funding for CDFIs. Last week, Sen. Warner introduced legislation to help unlock more equity and long-term financial capital for CDFIs to boost economic growth in low-income communities.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after the Senate voted to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – landmark legislation to curb gun violence in the wake of horrific mass shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, and cities across the nation:
“Virginians know all too well the pain of gun violence—pain no one should have to experience. While nothing can bring back a life lost to gun violence, we are hopeful that the reasonable measures advanced through this bill will help curb the plague of shootings that continue to haunt American communities. We will continue to work to build on today’s milestone by advocating for additional measures to protect our neighborhoods from further senseless attacks. In the meantime, we urge our colleagues in the House to move quickly so that this bill can start saving lives.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes similar provisions to those proposed by Sens. Warner and Kaine in their Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence—a bill they introduced last year based on a series of commonsense measures adopted by Virginia. These provisions include improving background checks, strengthening safeguards for victims of domestic violence, and incentivizing states to implement their own Extreme Risk Protection Orders to remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others.
Jun 23 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded the Senate passage of legislation to extend critical COVID-era school lunch flexibilities that have prevented children all over the country from going hungry during the summer and throughout the school year. The passage of the Keep Kids Fed Act comes just one week before waivers are set to expire, imposing cumbersome restrictions on parents just as summer break kicks off.
“Parents across Virginia are facing higher costs across the board – the last thing they need right now is to lose the commonsense flexibilities that have made it easier for them to keep their kids fed. We’re very proud to have voted to pass bipartisan legislation that will extend these flexibilities and help keep food insecurity at bay. We hope that the House will pass this bill expeditiously and send it to the President’s desk for approval,” said the senators.
The Keep Kids Fed Act will:
- Extend flexibilities for summer meals in 2022 by waiving area eligibility so summer providers can serve all children for free and continuing options like meal delivery and grab-and-go.
- Extend some of the administrative and paperwork flexibilities for schools through the 2022-23 school year.
- Allow students with a family income at or below 185 percent of poverty level to qualify for free or reduced-cost meals for the 2022-23 school year.
- Increase the reimbursement rate for school lunch and school breakfast to help offset the increased cost of food and operating expenses. Schools will receive an additional 40 cents for each lunch and 15 cents for each breakfast served.
- Provide an additional 10 cents per meal or snack for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) daycares and home providers, and expand eligibility to more providers. When combined, these actions will help offset increase costs for providers.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about the need to ensure that children have continuous access to healthy meals. They have expressed alarm about the imminent expiration of the child nutrition waivers and recently pushed Senate leadership to extend these flexibilities before the waivers expire. In April, they introduced the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act – similar legislation to grant the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) additional flexibility so that schools and summer meal sites can stay open.
WASHINGTON – The Senate Finance Committee today voted 28-0 to advance the Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act. The legislation includes a bipartisan proposal from Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) to make it easier for tens of thousands of retired firefighters and police officers like Wally Bunker from Culpeper to get a tax benefit to pay for health coverage they’ve earned. Warner introduced the measure, which has been endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, and International Association of Fire Fighters, with Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Thune (R-SD) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) last month.
“Virginia’s first responders put themselves at risk every day to protect our communities – the least we can do is ensure that they are taken care of in retirement,” said Sen. Warner, a member of the Finance Committee, after voting to approve the legislation today. “This commonsense bill will make it easier for retired fire fighters and police officers to access quality healthcare after a career of working to keep our communities and our families safe.”
Many public safety officers retire early because of the unique physical demands and hazards they face on the job. As a result, many lose access to their employer-sponsored health coverage but are still years away from being eligible for Medicare. To alleviate the burden of paying out-of-pocket for health insurance, Congress included in the Healthcare Enhancement for Local Public Safety (HELPS) Retirees Act a provision that allows retired public safety officers to withdraw $3,000 tax-free from their pension plan annually to pay health or long-term care insurance premiums. The 2006 law required that pension plans pay the $3,000 directly to the insurer — but many smaller pension plans in Virginia and other states use a third-party system for disbursing payments, therefore preventing many retirees from accessing the benefit.
The Warner-Brown-Thune-Grassley proposal, which would eliminate the “direct pay” provision and ensure that retired first responders in Virginia can access the benefit, was incorporated into a larger package of retirement reforms passed by the Senate Finance Committee today as part of the EARN Act. The EARN Act is expected to be combined with a related set of proposals that were approved earlier this month by the HELP Committee, and the comprehensive package will be put before the full Senate sometime in the coming weeks.
Jun 22 2022
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee secured passage of their bipartisan legislation that provides an additional $10.3 million to the U.S. Marshals Service and $9.1 million to the U.S. Supreme Court to address the unprecedented, current security threats to the justices, their families, and court employees.
The legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
“This money will go to paying officers’ overtime, purchasing physical security measures, and covering other much-needed security costs to protect the Court,” said Sen. Warner. “I am glad to work with Senator Hagerty on this important effort.”
“I appreciate the partnership of Senator Warner in this important effort to provide much-needed resources to protect one of our three branches of government that is facing unprecedented threats,” said Sen. Hagerty. “It is regretful that this emergency funding is needed, but I commend the Senate for providing these resources. It is imperative that the House of Representatives follow suit as quickly as possible.”
The U.S. Marshals Service continues to provide around-the-clock security for the nine Justices at their homes and has requested additional funding for costs that have been and will be incurred to provide this protection for the rest of Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). Similarly, the Supreme Court requested additional resources to cover its unexpected, increased security costs.
Hagerty and Warner used a House-passed legislative vehicle—H.R. 4346, which sought to make appropriations for the Legislative Branch for FY22 but was rendered moot by the FY2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act—and substituted the text of their bill. By using this vehicle, Hagerty and Warner avoid a potential blue-slip issue in the House of Representatives and allow the House to immediately pass this bill.
WASHINGTON – The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (IAA) today on a unanimous 16-0 vote. The bill authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community.
“The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 reflects the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan commitment to ensuring America’s intelligence agencies have the resources they need to protect our country,” said Committee Chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA). “This year’s bill will enhance the country’s ability to confront our adversaries, including by providing support to Ukraine and strengthening sanctions against Russia. It also takes significant steps to promote U.S. technology leadership and cybersecurity, increasing our ability to compete with China. Finally, I am pleased that this year’s bill drives serious improvement to the IC’s hiring and security clearance processes, so that the IC can attract and expeditiously on-board a talented, diverse, and trusted workforce.”
“This year’s Intelligence Authorization Act directs action and resources in the Intelligence Community where they are needed most – to counter the ever-increasing threats from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea as well as rogue states in our hemisphere including Cuba and Venezuela,” said Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “Additionally, this bill protects America’s national security, technology, and innovation from multiple foreign adversaries, while increasing our foreign intelligence collection and analysis, as well as enhancing personnel talent and expertise.”
The IAA for Fiscal Year 2023 authorizes funding and ensures that the Intelligence Community (IC) has the resources, personnel, and authorities it needs to protect our country and inform decision makers, while under robust Congressional oversight, including in the following key areas:
- Confronting the growing national security threat posed by China by increasing hard target intelligence collection and analysis, as well as by identifying and exposing China’s online influence operations, leadership corruption, forced labor camps, and malign economic investments in telecommunications and semiconductors;
- Bolstering intelligence support for Ukraine as it fights to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty since Russia’s second unprovoked invasion, including by assessing the effects of sanctions on Russia and its allies and opportunities to mitigate threats to food security at home and abroad;
- Driving improvements to the IC’s hiring and security clearance processes by keeping the IC accountable for progress, including for timeliness in bringing cleared personnel on-board, ensuring that key management and contract oversight personnel in industry can obtain clearances, and assessing the utilization rates and accessibility of government and contractor secure facilities;
- Establishing counterintelligence protections for IC grant funding against foreign-based risks of misappropriation, theft, and other threats to U.S. innovation;
- Strengthening oversight of national security threats associated with the regimes in Cuba and Venezuela;
- Establishing an Office of Global Competition Analysis to ensure U.S. leadership in technology sectors critical to national security;
- Ensuring continued support to the victims of anomalous health incidents (“Havana Syndrome”) and maintaining continued oversight over the IC’s investigations into the causes of anomalous health incidents;
- Maintaining strong congressional oversight of, and protections for, IC whistleblowers who come forward to report waste, fraud or abuse;
- Promoting cybersecurity enhancements and establishing cybersecurity minimum standards across the IC, including for classified systems;
- Enhancing oversight of IC and Department of Defense collection and reporting on Unidentified Aerospace-Undersea Phenomena; and
- Increasing transparency and promoting efforts to reform the declassification process.
WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, who served as Virginia’s Governor during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, released the following statement after the release of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act text—based on a framework to reduce gun violence that was announced on June 12 and applauded by Warner and Kaine:
“Congress can no longer stand by as the scourge of gun violence tears apart communities. Following tragedy after tragedy, action to make our communities safer couldn’t be more urgent. We support this bipartisan legislation that will improve background checks for buyers under 21, strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence, and make significant investments in community-based mental health services. There is more that can—and must—be done to address gun violence, but we welcome this meaningful progress and look forward to voting for this bill soon.”
A summary of the bill is available here.
The bipartisan proposal includes similar provisions to those proposed by Warner and Kaine’s Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence, such as improving background checks, strengthening safeguards for victims of domestic violence, and incentivizing states to implement their own Extreme Risk Protection Orders to remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others.
Full text of the bill is available here.
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) released a statement following a briefing from the General Services Administration (GSA) on the future location of a new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI):
“This morning, the Virginia congressional delegation received a briefing from the General Services Administration on the future location of a consolidated headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). We are pleased the Biden Administration agrees that Springfield, Virginia is a viable and competitive location for the new FBI headquarters. This is an important milestone in the site selection process, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to bring an FBI headquarters that best supports the mission of the FBI, to Northern Virginia.”
Warner & Kaine Join Colleagues in Calling for Extension of Child Nutrition Waivers & Measures to Curb Food Insecurity
Jun 17 2022
WASHINGTON – With summer break already underway in a number of school districts across Virginia, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and 30 of their Senate colleagues in a push to extend the child nutrition waivers that have kept many children from going hungry throughout the pandemic, both during the school year and in the summer. In the letter, the Senators stress the need for Congress to extend these programs before the waivers expire on June 30, 2022, as well as create a nationwide Summer EBT program and expand community eligibility (CEP) – a flexible meal service option for school districts in low-income areas.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the child nutrition programs and the role they play in keeping hunger at bay for millions of children across the country. As schools close for summer across the country, families will soon lose access to free school meals and be faced with the prospect of increased food insecurity, weight gain, and learning disruptions,” wrote the Senators. “As Congress develops legislation to support families impacted by high food costs, we must help ease the burden of these challenges and ensure that these child nutrition programs can fully meet children’s nutritional needs while they are at school, afterschool and summer programs, and childcare.”
"More must be done to fuel children's health and learning as millions of families continue to struggle with the fallout of COVID-19. Extending the child nutrition waivers, expanding community eligibility, and creating a nationwide Summer EBT program are surefire ways for our nation's children to have access to the nutrition they need to grow and thrive in the classroom and beyond," said Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). “We call on Congress to act quickly and include these provisions in any upcoming legislative vehicle. Hungry children can’t wait.”
“In a typical year, Boys & Girls Clubs across the country serve 95 million meals and snacks to kids at no cost. Clubs also continually adapt to support the needs of communities during times of crisis including during the peak of the pandemic, providing more than 24 million meals to nearly a half million families nationwide," said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "Extending the child nutrition waivers is critical to support the essential needs of kids, families, and communities still recovering from the economic and social impacts of the last two years. We urge Congress to make child nutrition and hunger a priority by extending the waiver authority and investing in programs that keep youth healthy, safe, and learning.”
“Summer is underway and YMCAs across the country are working to get healthy meals to every child in need. This summer, only 1 in 7 eligible children will have access to these meals, and Congress’ unwillingness to extend child nutrition waivers beyond June 30 is hampering our ability to provide meals when kids need them most," said Suzanne McCormick, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “We need to be able to use every possible tool to feed kids this summer, so the recommendations outlined by Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues cannot be passed soon enough. We are hopeful Congress works to enact these provisions, which will help ensure that every child has a summer free of hunger.”
In addition to Sens. Warner, Kaine, and Gillibrand this letter was signed by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Tina Smith (D-MN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).
This letter is endorsed by Food Research & Action Center, YMCA of the USA, Afterschool Alliance, Boys & Girls Club of America, Feeding America, School Nutrition Association, American Heart Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, First Focus Campaign for Children, MomsRising, Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Parent Teacher Association, National Farm to School Network, School Superintendents Association, Save the Children, National Education Association, National Center for Health Research, Healthy Food America, Food Corps, Community Food Advocates, National CACFP Association, Society of Behavioral Medicine, Center for Food Equity & Economic Development, California Association of Food Banks, Healthy Schools Campaign, Voices for Georgia’s Children, and Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about the need to ensure that children have continuous access to healthy meals. In April, they introduced the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act – legislation to grant the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) additional flexibility so that schools and summer meal sites can stay open.
Full text of the letter is available here or below.
Dear Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Leader McCarthy,
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the child nutrition programs, and the role they play in keeping hunger at bay for millions of children across the country. As schools closed across the country, families faced the same challenges they face every summer when they lose access to free school meals: increased food insecurity, weight gain, and learning disruptions.
As the Senate develops legislation to support families being impacted by high food costs and provide pandemic relief, we ask that it include the following three things in any upcoming packages to help ensure that the child nutrition programs are able to support recovery from the impact of the pandemic. School children have to have access to the nutrition they need to grow and thrive while they are at school and during the summer. These provisions will also set the stage for a much stronger Child Nutrition Reauthorization that can take additional steps to ensure that the child nutrition programs are able to fully meet children’s nutritional needs while they are at school, afterschool and summer programs, and in childcare.
- Extend the Child Nutrition Waivers. The waiver authority that we provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 has allowed school nutrition programs, local government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to keep feeding children in the face of the numerous challenges the pandemic created by providing the necessary program flexibility. In addition, the waivers have been a critical support to school nutrition programs. According to a USDA survey of school nutrition programs during School Year 2021-2022 school year, 90 percent used the Seamless Summer Option, 92 percent reported supply chain challenges, and nearly one in four school nutrition departments reported staffing challenges ; while 51% of afterschool and summer providers reported staffing challenges.
- Expand Community Eligibility. Community eligibility offers an important and viable path forward for schools as they transition from pandemic operations. For the schools that adopted it prior to the pandemic, it transformed their school breakfast and lunch programs, allowing schools to offer meals to all students at no charge, which reduces paperwork for schools and families, and eliminates unpaid school meal fees. Most importantly, it ensures that all students have access to the nutritious meals at school that they need to learn and thrive. Under the current rules, too many high need schools are not eligible. For schools that are eligible, the reimbursement structure can keep them from adopting community eligibility. Congress should lower the eligibility threshold to make more schools eligible to implement community eligible and increase the funding (raising the multiplier from 1.6 to 2.5) so that more schools are able to implement community eligibility. And as a growing number of states move to create statewide programs that offer school meals to all students at no charge, offering a statewide community eligibility option can support those efforts.
- Create a Nationwide Summer EBT Program. This approach offers an important way to complement the Summer Nutrition Programs. When schools close, families lose access to healthy free or reduced-price school meals for their children. The result is increased food insecurity among families with children. The existing summer nutrition programs are designed to replace school meals and often support much-needed summer programming, but the reach of these meals is too low. Prior to the pandemic, just one child for every seven who count on free or reduced-price school meals during the school year were served a summer meal. A nationwide Summer EBT program would provide families an EBT card to purchase food when schools are closed. Evaluations of Summer EBT demonstrations have found that they reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition.
We look forward to working with you to include these provisions in the upcoming legislative vehicles being developed by Congress.
Jun 17 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) led colleagues in a letter 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 the letter, the lawmakers note that 37 percent of Google Maps results and 11 percent of Google search results for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” in states with so-called “trigger laws” – laws that would effectively ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned – were for anti-abortion clinics. Additionally, 28 percent of Google ads displayed at the top of search results were for anti-abortion clinics. Amid a draft opinion of a Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe and the passage of several state laws that would curtail access to reproductive health care, the lawmakers are pushing for quick action to display accurate information.
“Directing women towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services is dangerous to women’s health and undermines the integrity of Google’s search results,” wrote the lawmakers. “Google should not be displaying anti-abortion fake clinics or crisis pregnancy centers in search results for users that are searching for an ‘abortion clinic’ or ‘abortion pill.’ If Google must continue showing these misleading results in search results and Google Maps, the results should, at the very least, be appropriately labeled.”
In addition to Sen. Warner and Rep. Slotkin, the letter was also signed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Tina Smith (D-MN). It was also signed by Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Jason Crow (D-CO), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Katie Porter (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Jackie Speier (D-CA).
The lawmakers requested Sundar Pichai respond to the letter and provide:
1. A plan to limit anti-abortion clinics in Google search results, ads, and Maps
2. A plan to add disclaimers that clearly indicate whether a search result does or does not provide abortions
3. Information on Google’s attempts to provide accurate search results pertaining to health care
Sen. Warner has been a longtime supporter of both abortion rights and increasing transparency online. He is a cosponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade, and several pieces of tech legislation that would promote transparency and curb manipulative patterns.
Text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. Pichai,
We write today regarding disturbing new reports that Google has been directing users who search for abortion services towards anti-abortion ‘fake clinics,’ also known as ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ or ‘pregnancy resource centers’ without any disclaimer indicating these businesses do not provide abortions and seek to steer women away from certain health decisions. In the wake of the leaked Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, we find these reports especially concerning and would appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.
According to research by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a U.S.-based nonprofit that fights online hate and misinformation, 11% of results for searches for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” in states with so-called ‘Trigger Laws’ – laws that would effectively ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned – were for anti-abortion fake clinics. Directing women towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services is dangerous to women’s health and undermines the integrity of Google’s search results.
This problem is even more pronounced on Google Maps, where CCDH found that 37% of search results were for anti-abortion fake clinics. Google should not be displaying anti-abortion fake clinics or crisis pregnancy centers in search results for users that are searching for an ‘abortion clinic’ or ‘abortion pill.’ If Google must continue showing these misleading results in search results and Google Maps, the results should, at the very least, be appropriately labeled.
CCDH also found that 28% of Google Ads displayed at the top of search results were for anti-abortion fake clinics. Since facing criticism over misleading ads related to anti-abortion fake clinics in 2019, Google has provided a disclaimer – albeit one that appears in small font and is easily missed – for ads from anti-abortion fake clinics. However, no such warning is present on non-sponsored search results on Google Search. The prevalence of these misleading ads marks what appears to be a concerning reversal from Google’s pledge in 2014 to take down ads from crisis pregnancy centers that engage in overt deception of women seeking out abortion information online.
Given this disturbing research, we would appreciate answers to the following questions:
1. What steps will Google take to limit the appearance of anti-abortion fake clinics or so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ in Google search results, Google Ads, and on Google Maps when users search for “abortion clinic,” “abortion pill,” or similar terms?
2. If Google will not take action to prevent anti-abortion fake clinics from appearing in search results, will Google add user-friendly disclaimers that clearly indicate whether or not a search result does or does not provide abortions?
3. What additional steps will Google take to ensure that users are receiving accurate information when they search for health care services like abortion on Google Search and Google Maps when users search for “abortion clinic,” “abortion pill,” or similar terms?
We urge you to take action to rectify these issues and help ensure women seeking health care services are directed to the basic information they request. Many thanks for your consideration, and we look forward to your timely response.
Warner & Kaine Statement on Senate Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Expand Benefits for Toxic-Exposed Veterans
Jun 16 2022
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (bot D-VA) applauded Senate passage of the bipartisan Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, legislation that will expand health care and resources for toxic-exposed veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and authorize a new community-based outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads.
“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed so much while serving in the Armed Forces, and we owe it to them to ensure they have access to the benefits they’ve earned,” said the senators. “We’re glad the Senate passed this bipartisan legislation to expand health care for millions of veterans across generations of service, who were exposed to toxins and burn pits. We’re also thrilled that this bill will authorize and provide funding for another outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads, helping reduce wait times and increase access to timely care for the region’s growing military community.”
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 PACT Act will:
- Expand VA health care to more than 3.5 million toxic-exposed post-9/11 combat 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;
- Improve VA’s resources and training for toxic-exposed veterans; and
- Set VA and veterans up for success by investing in VA claims processing, VA’s workforce, and VA health care facilities.
- Authorize 31 major medical facility leases and allocates $5.5 billion to fund those facilities – including a new outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for a vote. The House passed similar legislation led by Representative Mark Takano in March 2022.
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 Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which 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. Virginia is home to more than 700,000 veterans.
During his time in the Senate, Warner has advocated improving care for Virginia’s veterans. In 2015, confronted with wait times in Hampton Roads that were three times the national average, 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.
Jun 16 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Sherrod Brown (D-OH) encouraged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to continue focusing on improving human capital disclosures and on reforms that would ensure shareholders can properly evaluate public companies’ human capital practices and investments in their workers. The letter urges the SEC to implement the recommendations included in a petition from the Working Group on Human Capital Accounting Disclosure, which seeks to level the playing field between investments in workers and investments in physical equipment.
“As the Commission considers improvements to Regulation S-K and human capital disclosure, the working group’s recommendations would go a long way in ensuring shareholders can properly evaluate public companies’ human capital practices and investments in their workers. Strengthening human capital disclosure is needed to reflect the modern economy, where public firms are increasingly deriving their value from intangible assets,” the senators wrote.
They continued, “Human capital does not receive the same treatment as even R&D in this respect, placing spending on workers at a further disadvantage. Unlike R&D, human capital spending is included as part of a company’s administrative expenses and not as a stand-alone item. As a result, investors are not given the information to differentiate between a firm with poor human capital management and one that is making a concerted effort to invest in its workforce to increase worker capability and performance.”
On June 7, 2022 the Working Group on Human Capital Accounting Disclosures petitioned the Commission to improve human capital disclosures including the following recommendations:
- Requiring managers to disclose, in the Management’s Discussion & Analysis section of Form 10-K, what portion of investments in workers should be considered as an investment in the firm’s future growth to allow investors to distinguish between labor expenses and value-adding investments, like training or upskilling;
- Treating workforce costs similar to investments in R&D by ensuring workforce costs are disclosed; and
- Disaggregating labor costs to allow investors to clearly understand employees’ job function, expected value creation, and contributions to their company.
Since 2018, Sen. Warner has stressed the importance of updating human capital disclosure requirements to reflect the priorities of modern companies. Sen. Warner has long focused on prioritizing better reporting on human capital management and on making sure that companies are not discouraged – based on accounting or reporting rules – from investing in their workers. In a May 2020 letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Sen. Warner and Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) urged the SEC to require that human capital management information be made publicly available in a timely and accurate manner to help determine whether a company will be successfully able to weather risks following the COVID-19 crisis.
In May 2021, Sen. Warner and Rep. Axne reintroduced the Workforce Investment Disclosure Act to require public companies to disclose crucial workforce management metrics, including investments made in skills training, workforce safety, and employee retention. Sen. Warner also leads legislation, the Investing in American Workers Act, modeled on the R&D tax credit to further incentivize investments in companies’ most important asset, their workers.
A copy of the letter is available here and below.
Dear Chairman Gensler,
We are writing to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to adopt the recommendations included in the Working Group on Human Capital Accounting Disclosure’s petition to the Commission on June 7, 2022. As the Commission considers improvements to Regulation S-K and human capital disclosure, the working group’s recommendations would go a long way in ensuring shareholders can properly evaluate public companies’ human capital practices and investments in their workers. Strengthening human capital disclosure is needed to reflect the modern economy, where public firms are increasingly deriving their value from intangible assets.
We applaud the SEC for working on improvements to human capital disclosures as part of its regulatory agenda. In 2018, Senator Warner urged the Commission to focus on the treatment of human capital and noted the significant discrepancy between the treatment of physical investments and spending on human capital and research and development (R&D). A physical investment can be listed on a balance sheet and is often capitalized, whereas human capital and R&D investments are expensed. R&D is disclosed on its own expenditure line – reflective of its importance for firms’ valuation, competitiveness, and long-term performance – so that investors can assess company expenditures on R&D separately from other firm costs.
Human capital does not receive the same treatment as even R&D in this respect, placing spending on workers at a further disadvantage. Unlike R&D, human capital spending is included as part of a company’s administrative expenses and not as a stand-alone item. As a result, investors are not given the information to differentiate between a firm with poor human capital management and one that is making a concerted effort to invest in its workforce to increase worker capability and performance. The strengthened human capital disclosure must be focused on the discrepancy laid out above.
To do so, we respectfully urge the SEC to adopt the Working Group’s recommendations to improve human capital disclosures. Those recommendations include:
- Requiring managers to disclose, in the Management’s Discussion & Analysis section of Form 10-K, what portion of investments in workers should be considered as an investment in the firm’s future growth to allow investors to distinguish between labor expenses and value-adding investments, like training or upskilling;
- Treating workforce costs similar to investments in R&D by ensuring workforce costs are disclosed; and
- Disaggregating labor costs to allow investors to clearly understand employees’ job function, expected value creation, and contributions to their company.
These quantifiable and comparable disclosures would significantly improve investors’ ability to understand firms’ human capital practices. While there are tradeoffs and costs associated with mandating additional disclosures, firms already collect most of this information for tax reporting. In addition, few could argue that these disclosures would be unimportant for investors, particularly at a time when public companies’ value is increasingly determined by intangible assets like its workforce.
We look forward to continued engagement with the SEC on this critical issue, and appreciate your consideration of these recommendations as the Commission moves forward with updating Regulation S-K to strengthen human capital disclosures. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Jun 16 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was joined by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) in introducing bipartisan legislation to promote lasting economic prosperity in Black, brown and low-income communities. This bill would help unlock more equity and long-term financial capital for community development financial institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs often serve as a backbone for low-income or minority-owned businesses, which tend to have fewer banking relationships and less access to traditional forms of funding.
“As a former entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I know that talent and ambition is not confined by income bracket or zip code. Unfortunately, access to start-up capital often is. CDFIs and MDIs do the invaluable work of bridging the gap and reaching small businesses in our most vulnerable communities – a role that became even more critical during the pandemic,” said Sen. Warner. “Despite the historic investments we were able to deliver through the emergency COVID-19 relief package, CDFIs remain in need of additional equity and capital to continue serving their communities. This legislation will create a new tax credit, helping spur important private-sector investments and allowing these community lenders to grow."
“Small businesses, including those in low-income and minority communities, are a pillar of the economy in Mississippi and across the nation,” said Sen. Wicker. “CDFIs and MDIs help support businesses, individuals, and entrepreneurs by providing access to capital and alternatives to predatory loans in low-access areas. I am glad to join my colleagues on this bipartisan measure to create an additional tax credit to support and expand this private-sector investment.”
“CDFI investments are a critical source of capital for small business growth in many Mississippi communities and around the country. This bill would create a tax credit structure to attract greater private-sector investments in CDFIs, which would increase their ability to spur more long-term growth in disadvantaged areas,” said Sen. Hyde-Smith.
“Investing in our small businesses generates more shared prosperity in our communities and CDFIs are a key force multiplier, particularly in financing businesses and projects in economically underserved communities. This legislation will leverage long-term, private sector investments to support their good work and help them expand their efforts to support new and growing small businesses,” said Sen. Van Hollen.
This bill will help direct support to lenders that focus on underserved communities by creating a CDFI Tax Credit for private sector investors that make equity, equity-equivalent investments, or long-term patient capital available to CDFIs. The bill would benefit CDFIs of all types including bank CDFIs, credit union CDFIs, venture capital CDFIs, and CDFI loan funds, while providing institutions with the maximum flexibility and financial support they need to increase wealth in low- and moderate-income communities.
This legislation has the support of a number of organizations, including Community Development Bankers Association, National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders, Community Development Venture Capital Alliance, LISC, Opportunity Finance Network, CDFI Coalition, Inclusiv, and the Enterprise Community Loan Fund, among others.
“CDBA and its members strongly support the CDFI Tax Credit Investment Act. The credit will provide an invaluable tool for leveraging private investment into underserved markets. This will be a game changer,” said Jeannine Jacokes, Chief Executive Officer, Community Development Bankers Association.
“The CDFI Tax Credit Act is a practical, bipartisan way to marshal the long-term capital that struggling urban and rural communities need. It will create jobs, grow small businesses, and strengthen families by providing health services and child care. It's a smart investment in America's future,” said Buzz Roberts, President & CEO, National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders.
“CDVCA strongly supports the CDFI Tax Credit Investment Act. It will give incentive for investors to provide flexible, long-term risk capital to create good jobs, productive wealth, and entrepreneurial capacity in underinvested communities throughout the nation,” said Kerwin Tesdell, President, Community Development Venture Capital Alliance.
“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) applauds Senators Warner and Wicker for introducing the Community Development Tax Credit Act of 2022. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have time and time again proven their ability to leverage public and private capital to support investments in some of the most underserved communities in the country. This tax credit, by incentivizing long term investments in CDFIs, will allow CDFIs to in turn provide longer term, lower cost loans to finance affordable housing, small businesses, homeownership and essential community facilities in their neighborhoods,” said Matt Josephs, Senior Vice President for Policy, LISC.
“OFN applauds Senators Warner and Wicker’s continued leadership in supporting community development financial institutions (CDFIs). The CDFI Tax Credit Investment Act will help drive more private capital to CDFIs offering affordable, responsible financing to low-wealth urban, rural, and Native communities across the country,” said Jennifer A. Vasiloff, Chief External Affairs Officer, Opportunity Finance Network.
“The CDFI Coalition is pleased to add its voice in strong support for the legislation sponsored by Sens. Warner and Wicker to establish a tax credit for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs provide financial products and services in urban neighborhoods and rural areas underserved by traditional financial institutions, particularly those communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment. Throughout the last economic downturn, CDFIs served as economic shock absorbers, providing flexible and patient capital, rigorous risk management, and commitment to the projects in their communities and the sustainability of their borrowers. While traditional lenders fled economically distressed communities, CDFIs stepped in to fill the void. Since the advent of the economic crisis prompted by the pandemic, CDFIs have been on the frontlines of providing financial and technical assistance to small and minority-owned businesses. CDFIs fill a vital niche in the nation's financial services delivery system by serving communities and market sectors that conventional lenders cannot - with the ultimate goal of bringing CDFI customers into the mainstream economy as bank customers, homeowners and/or entrepreneurs. The proposed CDFI Tax Credit will provide a new avenue for CDFIs to raise capital that will be deployed to finance small businesses, construct affordable housing, and support community facilities in disadvantaged communities across the country. CDFIs leverage over $12 in private capital to every $1 in federal support, so the resources authorized by the tax credit will extend far beyond the amount authorized and help CDFIs to fill the widening credit gap encountered by economically disadvantaged communities across the country,” said Ceyl Prinster, President and CEO, Colorado Enterprise Fund and Chair of the CDFI Coalition.
“CDFI credit unions deliver credit and responsible banking services in communities long-excluded by the financial system. Credit union lending runs the gamut from helping households access small emergency loans to meet basic needs; to repairing; to purchasing that first home or starting or expanding a small business. Together CDFI credit unions are able to channel and recycle billions of dollars of loans in local economies across the country. In order to grow reach and impact, these high-impact lenders need long-term equity like investment. The proposed legislation by Senators Warner and Wicker to establish a CDFI Tax Credit is groundbreaking. This bill will provide an incentive for private sector investors to make flexible long-term investments that enable our institutions to grow, expand their lending and increase wealth in low- and moderate-income communities,” said Cathie Mahon, President and CEO, Inclusiv.
“Senators Warner and Wicker's innovative proposal to drive more resources into our communities is forward-thinking and much needed. CDFIs, whose missions are to create economic opportunity for all, already leverage private capital sources to develop community-centered investments and sustain the communities they serve. Unfortunately, the community need is outpacing the resources available to CDFIs. Additional investment options like the CDFI Tax Credit will be a game-changer for the industry across the country. The VA CDFI Coalition is excited by the possibilities these investments could create across Virginia and hope to see this pass,” said Leah Fremouw, Board President, VA CDFI Coalition.
“Enterprise enthusiastically supports the CDFI Tax Credit Act introduced by Senators Warner and Wicker. The legislation exponentially builds on the power of CDFIs to leverage private capital and supercharges their work to address systemic inequities in access to capital in low-income communities. Over three decades, we've invested $2.4 billion in under-served communities, and we know that CDFI investments are key to equitable development and broad-based economic growth,” said Elise Balboni, President, Enterprise Community Loan Fund.
To combat the hemorrhaging of jobs and economic opportunities during the pandemic, Sen. Warner has been a leader in Congress for CDFIs and MDIs. In July of 2020, he teamed up with then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act – an effort that secured endorsements from a host of other advocacy organizations and civil rights groups.
Sen. Warner was later able to secure provisions from the bill in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, providing an unprecedented $12 billion in funding for CDFIs.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led a letter to Mr. Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), asking for a study on supporting the technology modernization needs of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs). This study – part of a suite of efforts by the Senator to support CDFIs and MDIs – would help lay the groundwork for additional measures related to CDFI and MDI technology modernization. Sen. Warner was joined in sending the letter by House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA).
“In the Federal Reserve’s annual survey of CDFIs, more than 75% of CDFIs indicated they were unable to provide all the products or services they would like to offer on a sustained basis. In addition to further federal capital support, increasing access to technology tools will play a critical role as CDFIs and MDIs begin to leverage the historic funding provided by Congress. Technology resources can further empower community-based lenders with deep expertise and an understanding of their communities’ needs,” wrote the lawmakers. “There have been several private-sector and philanthropic efforts and partnerships to support technology investments in CDFIs and MDIs. In addition, several think tanks and policy organizations have highlighted these investments as a critical need for supporting CDFIs, MDIs, and the communities they serve. We are requesting GAO examine the scope of CDFIs and MDIs’ needs in technology and what else the federal government could do to support those needs.”
Beyond capital and staffing constraints, another significant barrier for CDFIs and MDIs is access to technology, because the cost to implement new systems is expensive and difficult to prioritize against the more immediate challenges of raising capital, staffing, and delivering for their communities. However, CDFIs and MDIs’ experience with the Paycheck Protection Program showed that technology investments can increase efficiency, support more lending, and improve the ability of these institutions to serve their communities.
To combat the hemorrhaging of jobs and economic opportunities during the pandemic, Sen. Warner has been a leader in Congress for CDFIs and MDIs. Most recently, Sen. Warner introduced legislation with Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to deliver more long-term patient capital for CDFIs.
Sen. Warner also led successful efforts to secure a historic, $12 billion investment in CDFIs and MDIs in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020. Of that $12 billion, $9 billion was used to create the Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP) to make tier one capital investments in depository CDFIs and MDIs. The Department of Treasury began to close on ECIP investments earlier this year and is expected to be finished closing its investments in the coming months. The remaining $3 billion in grant funding is also in the process of being fully distributed. On June 15, 2021, Treasury awarded the first tranche of $1.25 billion through the Rapid Response Program to 863 CDFIs. In addition, this week, Treasury opened the Equitable Recovery Program, the remaining $1.75 billion, up for applications.
A copy of the letter is available here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded the Senate passage of the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act of 2021, legislation to provide much-needed relief for individuals who previously consolidated their student loan debt with a spouse. Although Congress eliminated the program on July 1, 2006, it did not provide a means of severing existing loans, even in the event of domestic violence, economic abuse, or an unresponsive partner. As a result, there are borrowers across the country who remain liable for their abusive or uncommunicative spouse’s portion of their consolidated debts. This legislation provides relief to these individuals by allowing borrowers to split this debt.
“The Senate passage of this commonsense legislation is a huge step for survivors of domestic violence and financial abuse who have spent decades fighting for their financial freedom. By finally allowing individuals to sever their joint consolidation loans, this bill will provide needed respite to vulnerable individuals who are being unfairly held responsible for the debt of a former partner. I urge my House colleagues to act with urgency and send this bill to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”
The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would allow borrowers to submit an application to the Department of Education to split the joint consolidation loan into two separate federal direct loans. The joint consolidation loan remainder – the unpaid loan and accrued unpaid interest – would be split proportionally based on the percentages that each borrower originally brought into the loan. The two new federal direct loans would have the same interest rates as the joint consolidation loan. Additionally, the bill would enable borrowers to access student loan relief programs, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program and income-driven repayment programs for which they were previously ineligible due to their joint consolidation loans.
Sen. Warner authored the original version of the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act in 2017 after a constituent of his, Sara from McLean, Virginia, contacted him to communicate her struggles with a joint consolidation loan. Sara was raising two children on a public school teacher’s salary in Northern Virginia and trying to keep up with payments on her student loans. Unfortunately, her ex-spouse, whom she had divorced and moved thousands of miles away from to start fresh, refused to pay his share of their joint loan. Because joint consolidation loans create joint and several liability for borrowers, Sara faced the threat of having her wages as a public school teacher garnished if she did not pay both her and her ex-husband’s portions of their debt. Sen. Warner did not think this was fair and sought to create a solution, so that constituents like Sara could control their own financial futures. You can hear Sen. Warner tell Sara’s story here.
The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act has been supported by a number of organizations, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Consumer Law Center, North Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.