Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated final Senate passage of a bill to fund the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Education, and Labor for Fiscal Year 2019, which begins on October 1, and to fund the rest of the government through December 7 as negotiations continue. If the legislation is signed into law, it will avoid a government shutdown at the end of September—something Warner and Kaine have long called for—and offer the Department of Defense and other agencies some clarity on 2019 spending levels in regular budget order, helping to keep the country safer. President Trump has threatened to veto any spending bills that do not fund a border wall.  

“Despite the President’s continued attempts to cut vital federal programs, this bipartisan agreement upholds many defense, education, and workforce priorities that are important for Virginians,” said Warner. “As we continue to tackle the opioid crisis and combat the resurgence of black lung disease, this bill upholds our promise to save more lives. I’m also pleased to report that this bipartisan legislation provides the necessary resources to protect our men and women in uniform and supports Virginia’s critical national security footprint. While the Senate did its part to fund these programs, it’s now up to the House and the President to move swiftly and keep the government open.” 

“I’m proud that we were able to pass this legislation to avoid a shutdown and fund so many of the programs that Virginians care about,” Kaine said. “Health care, defense, education, and worker protections are all huge priorities as we ensure Virginians have access to the resources they need and that we are investing in the right ways to keep our country safe. I’m glad we were able to swiftly pass these bills, and I hope that President Trump will drop his threats to shut the government down over funding for his wall and quickly sign them into law.”

Warner and Kaine pushed for many priorities through the appropriations process that were included in this final bill:

 

Health Care:

  • Funds childhood disease research: The bill provides $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program to conduct pediatric cancer and disease research. Warner and Kaine worked to enact the legislation authorizing this program, named for 10-year-old Gabriella Miller of Loudoun County, who passed away from cancer in October of 2013.
  • Early detection of black lung disease: The bill also includes a provision Warner and Kaine advanced to improve the participation rate of coal miners in federal health surveillance programs that detect and treat black lung. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for coal miners and their families, supporting legislation that ensures they retain the health and retirement benefits they deserve. 
  • Protects the ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid: The Senators ensured that the bill did not include proposed language that would have restricted HHS’s authority to administer or enforce the ACA.  The bill keeps funding and program authorities consistent with 2018, thereby protecting Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ ability to administer Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA. 
  • Provides $5.7 billion to combat substance abuse:  The bill provides $5.7 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is $584 million more than Fiscal Year 2018. This includes $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response Grants, an increase of $50 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, and $105 million for the National Health Service Corps. It also expands loan repayment eligibility requirements to include substance use disorder counselors, which will support recruitment and retention of health professionals needed in underserved and rural areas.
  • Increases funding for Alzheimer’s and brain research: The bill provides $39.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase of $2 billion from last year’s level and $4.5 billion above the President’s suggested budget. The increase includes an additional $425 million for Alzheimer’s research for a total of $2.34 billion and an increase of $29 million for the BRAIN Initiative.

 

Defense:

  • Funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for servicemembers: Funds the pay raise that was authorized in the annual defense bill Kaine worked on with his colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Warner and Kaine strongly supported the pay increase.
  • Supports Virginia’s shipbuilding industry: Provides over $24 billion in Shipbuilding Accounts, with more than $12 billion going towards programs that will benefit Virginia like the Columbia & Virginia Class Submarines, Ford Class Carrier construction, and Nimitz Class overhaul. It also supports the Navy's goal of attaining a 355-ship fleet, which Warner and Kaine have both strongly endorsed.
  • Supports block-buy of Ford-class aircraft carriers:  The legislation preserves the Navy’s ability to pursue a block-buy of aircraft carriers once it completes an independent cost analysis and certifies that the strategy will save taxpayer dollars, as required by the 2019 Defense Bill.  
  • Offers budget certainty to our troops and military leaders: This legislation appropriates a full year of funds for the Department of Defense, addressing Warner and Kaine’s concerns, shared by military leaders, that Congress’ failure to return to regular budget order has interfered with DoD’s ability to plan ahead and that continuing resolutions have been painful to the country’s national security initiatives.
  • Addresses lead poisoning in military housing: Following reports of lead poisoning in military housing units, the legislation requires the Government Accountability Office in consultation with the Department of Defense to conduct an investigation and provide a report to Congress on toxic lead levels in all military housing. In August, Kaine and Warner sent a letter to the Secretary of the Army asking for a briefing after a report surfaced about lead poisonings and dangerous lead levels in housing on U.S. Army installations.
  • Improving cyber resiliency: This legislation provides $306 million in additional funding to expand and accelerate cyber research across the Department of Defense. Warner has been a strong advocate for cyber resiliency and stronger cyber tools at the DoD.
  • Defense Cyber Scholarship Program: The legislation includes Warner’s amendment to make available $7 million in funding for the DoD Cyber Defense Scholarship Program, bringing it in-line with the funding level from the House-passed appropriations package.  Warner successfully included a provision to boost the cyber scholarship program’s recruitment efforts in the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act. This amendment builds on the expansion of the program that Senator Kaine championed last year through his DoD Cyber Scholarship Program Act in the FY18 NDAA.

 

Education:

  • Provides funding to help teachers, social workers, military personnel, and other public servants cancel their student loan debt: For a second year includes $350 million for the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that mirrors Kaine’s bill to fix a technical glitch that will allow borrowers who were in the wrong repayment program to be eligible for PSLF. 
  • Includes language to help HBCUs access funds to make infrastructure improvements: Includes language from Kaine’s bill to require the HBCU Capital Financing Advisory Board, which provides financial guidance to the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to provide Congress with a report on the loans granted under the program along with recommendations to address issues related to construction financing for HBCUs. 
  • Provides additional funding for the HBCU Capital Financing Program: Includes an additional $10 million to ensure that all eligible institutions—including Virginia Union University—are able to access the program’s deferment authority. Warner and Kaine both called for this supplementary funding to provide additional flexibility for eligible HBCUs to meet their infrastructure needs.
  • Increases access to Pell Grants: Increases the maximum Pell Grant award to $6,195, a $100 increase from FY18, and also includes support for year-round Pell Grant funding. 
  • Increases funding for Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grants: Includes $1.17 billion, a $70 million increase from FY18, for K-12 public schools to create a well-rounded education, ensure safe and healthy students and support the use of technology in the classroom.
  • Increases funding for career and technical education: Increases funding for the recently reauthorized Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to $1.26 billion, a $70 million increase from FY18.

 

Workers:

  • Funds black lung health clinics: Authorizes black lung health clinics at $11 million, $1 million above its full authorization level.
  • Provides $30 million to train rural and Appalachian workers: Includes $30 million to provide workforce training to dislocated workers in rural areas with a specific priority for Appalachian communities.
  • Provides $160 million to support apprenticeships: Includes $160 million for registered apprenticeship programs.
  • Requires better tracking of career and technical occupations to help prepare the future workforce: Directs the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) to track and report on improvements they are making to the Current Population Survey (CPS) to collect data about career and technical occupations. With this data, the country will have more information to track where improvements are needed and ensure that the workforce is trained with the skills needed for jobs available in today’s economy.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine criticized President Trump for escalating the trade war with China by placing an additional $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, which the Chinese government has recently matched with $60 billion in tariffs on American goods. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has warned that this move will threaten an additional $899 million in Virginia exports. Warner and Kaine have long supported tougher trade negotiations, especially with countries like China that violate U.S. laws, but do not believe a trade war where Virginia farmers, manufacturers, and families pay the highest price is a responsible approach. 

“Global trade wars threaten everything from Virginia’s emerging craft brewery industry to soybean farmers and now the coal fields. We have pushed President Trump for months to stop his foolish antics, form a coalition with like-minded allies he is currently alienating like Canada and Europe, and jointly confront China with a coordinated strategy to find an acceptable deal. This escalating trade war is going to cost many Virginians their jobs at a time when they will see rising prices for the goods they buy every day. While we agree that we should be targeting the theft of U.S. intellectual property by China, imposing across-the-board tariffs that stick hardworking American consumers with the costs is the wrong approach. Once again, we call on this Administration to stop using as collateral some of our most vital local industries in order to pursue a reckless and dangerous trade policy,” the Senators said.  

According to the Chamber, Virginia’s hardest hit products from the new retaliatory Tariffs are: 

  1. Soybeans - $361 million of soybeans are exported annually to China. For a comprehensive list of Va.  soybean production, click here.
  2. Bituminous Coal (Not Agglomerated) - $105 million are exported annually to China
  3. Corrugated Paper Waste (Scrap unbleached) - $50 million exported annually to China

 For months, Warner and Kaine have spoken out against President Trump’s escalating trade war and encouraged substantive negotiations. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed that China is the Commonwealth’s biggest export market for agricultural goods and suggested President Trump’s tariffs could hurt Virginia businesses and employees. President Trump has tweeted that “trade wars are good.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $366,788 in federal funding for Lynchburg, Amissville, and Fairfax Fire Departments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The funding will be awarded through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.

“We’re proud to support funding to help local fire departments purchase equipment and support staff training, ensuring they are prepared to serve their communities,” the Senators said.

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

  • Lynchburg Fire and EMS will receive $217,905 to purchase personal safety and rescue bailout equipment including ropes, harnesses, carabiners, and pulleys.
  • Amissville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company will receive $17,143 to purchase rapid intervention equipment.
  • The City of Fairfax Fire Department will receive $131,740 to support training.

The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG program is to enhance 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 – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, and agreed to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s investigation:

“Today’s admission of criminal guilt by Paul Manafort clearly demonstrates that the President’s 2016 campaign manager conducted illegal activity in conspiracy with Russian-backed entities and was beholden to Kremlin-linked officials. The guilty plea also underscores the seriousness of this investigation. The Special Counsel must be permitted to follow the facts wherever and however high they might lead, because in the United States of America no one is above the law. Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or otherwise interfere in this investigation would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”

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WASHINGTON— As Hurricane Florence continues its approach, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.) today offered to assist the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in providing all necessary resources to ensure Virginia veterans will be cared for during and in the aftermath of this potentially devastating storm. The Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) is currently in the process of performing a full inpatient evacuation of the main hospital and will be closing all Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Albemarle until September 17th. Most, if not all, of these patients are being moved to medical centers in North Carolina, West Virginia, and elsewhere in Virginia in order to continue receiving assistance. 

 “Virginia is home to over 700,000 veterans, many of whom live in Hampton Roads – an area that is especially susceptible to significant flooding and life-threatening storm surges. We urge you to use all tools at your disposal to continue to provide benefits and services to veterans when possible during and after the storm, as well as to seek additional assistance as required,” wrote the Senators in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. 

The letter comes after the Senators, along with the entire Virginia congressional delegation, successfully advocated for President Trump to issue a federal emergency declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia, which allows federal agencies to begin offering preemptive assistance to affected states. Gov. Northam has declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for the hurricane and has ordered the evacuation of more than 200,000 residents. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been requesting coordination and assistance from federal agencies in preparation for the hurricane, including the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and FEMA. The Senators will continue monitoring additional storm developments that may require increased federal assistance.

“Following the storm, we look forward to working with you to ensure that VA programs and facilities in Hampton Roads and throughout the Commonwealth are operational as quickly as possible in order to ensure the safety of our veterans who require regular assistance. Please keep us updated on the status of the evacuation and the implementation of the VA’s storm management plan,” concluded the Senators.

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

The Honorable Robert Wilkie

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20420

 

Dear Secretary Wilkie:

 

As the Commonwealth of Virginia prepares for the landfall of Hurricane Florence, we urge the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide all necessary resources to ensure our veterans will be cared for during and in the aftermath of this potentially devastating storm, and to seek further support as needed. We stand ready to help. 

 

Virginia is home to over 700,000 veterans, many of whom live in Hampton Roads – an area that is especially susceptible to significant flooding and life-threatening storm surges. We urge you to use all tools at your disposal to continue to provide benefits and services to veterans when possible during and after the storm, as well as to seek additional assistance as required.

 

In preparation for Hurricane Florence, we understand that the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) is performing a full inpatient evacuation of the main hospital and will be closing all Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Albemarle until September 17th. It is our understanding that most, if not all, of these patients are being moved to medical centers in North Carolina, West Virginia, and elsewhere in Virginia in order to continue receiving assistance.  

 

Following the storm, we look forward to working with you to ensure that VA programs and facilities in Hampton Roads and throughout the Commonwealth are operational as quickly as possible in order to ensure the safety of our veterans who require regular assistance. Please keep us updated on the status of the evacuation and the implementation of the VA’s storm management plan.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working with you to provide veterans affected by Hurricane Florence the support needed to recover from this disaster. Please let us know how we can be helpful to ensure a continuation of services to our veterans during this difficult situation.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded congressional passage of bipartisan legislation to fund federal programs and build new military construction and facilities under the Department of Veteran Affairs (V-A), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Defense (DoD).

The conference report to accompany the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations package that covers funding for energy and water development, military construction and veterans affairs (MilCon-V-A), the legislative branch, and all of their related agencies, passed in both chambers and now heads to the President’s desk for signature. 

“We are proud to have worked with our colleagues on a bipartisan funding agreement that upholds our promise to our nation’s veterans,” said the Senators. “Although the President has threatened to pull funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission time and time again, this legislation will continue to support this critical federal partnership to boost economic opportunity in Southwest Virginia. Additionally, this bill provides necessary funding for military maintenance, construction of new military facilities, and makes new investments to support research and development at J-Lab.”

The following list includes many of the provisions Sens. Warner and Kaine advocated for on behalf of Virginia that were included in the final appropriations package: 

Appalachian Regional Commission: Following President Trump’s attempts to defund ARC, the bill fully funds this successful federal-state partnership by providing $165 million to continue its efforts to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia, strengthen and maintain the region’s infrastructure, and provide additional educational and workforce opportunities for citizens of Appalachia so that they can compete in a 21st century global economy.

Military Construction: Provides more than $131 million in new construction throughout the Commonwealth. 

  • Joint Base Langley-Eustis: Funds nearly $23 million on three projects at the base.
  • Forts A.P. and Belvoir: Receive nearly $18 million to build new training facilities.
  • Portsmouth Ship Maintenance: Provides $26 million for a ship maintenance shop in Portsmouth, Virginia. 

Both Senators advocated for these projects, and more, when the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act passed the Senate.

Veterans Affairs: Provides $86.4 billion in funding for the V-A, an increase of $5 billion above fiscal year 2018. The bill would increase funding to several Veteran Health Administration priority areas, including $1.1 billion for electronic health record modernization and $8.6 billion to increase mental health services for veterans. It includes $1.8 billion for homelessness programs like the Supportive Services for Veterans and Families program, which provides assistance to homeless veterans; $206 million to increase suicide prevention outreach; $78 billion to help provide high-quality and timely health care services to veterans; $174 million to improve the veteran appeals process; and more than doubles FY18 funds to provide $1.8 billion for the construction of new V-A medical facilities.

Jefferson Lab Nuclear Physics Research: Provides $615 million for nuclear physics research within the Department of Energy’s Office of Science in order to fulfill DOE’s Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science. The funds will enable scientists at labs across the country, including at Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, VA, to engage in critical research that will maintain U.S. leadership and preeminence in this field.

Hampton Roads Infrastructure:

  • Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Projects: Provides $2.18 billion for construction of water infrastructure projects and $3.74 billion for operations and maintenance of existing infrastructure related to harbor maintenance, flood and storm damage control, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. Total funding for the Corps of Engineers is $171 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $2.2 billion above the President’s budget request. 
  • Donor and Energy Transfer Ports: Provides $50 million to ensure that ports like the Port of Virginia receive equitable levels of funding to reinvest in and modernize their infrastructure. 
  • North Landing Bridge: Provides $1.6 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to continue studying the feasibility of replacing the federally-owned North Landing Bridge, which connects Chesapeake, VA, and Virginia Beach, VA. Two years ago, Warner and Kaine were instrumental in securing federal funding to replace a similar Army Corps asset, the Deep Creek Bridge, which was a safety hazard and regional traffic bottleneck.
  • Norfolk Harbor: Includes $300,000 to conclude the study phase of – and advance to construction – the deepening and widening of navigation channels in Norfolk Harbor and tributaries, which will allow the largest deep-draft container ships to call on the Port of Virginia. This project, in concert with the expansion and new marine terminal at the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area (CIDMMA), will be a generational investment in the infrastructure and economic competitiveness of the Port of Virginia.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, released the following statement after President Trump signed an executive order “Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election”: 

“In order to deter foreign interference in future elections, we must make it clear to Russia and other adversaries that interference is unacceptable, and will have painful consequences. 

“Unfortunately, President Trump demonstrated in Helsinki and elsewhere that he simply cannot be counted upon to stand up to Putin when it matters. While the Administration has yet to share the full text, an executive order that inevitably leaves the President broad discretion to decide whether to impose tough sanctions against those who attack our democracy is insufficient.

“If we are going to actually deter Russia and others from interfering in our elections in the future, we need to spell out strong, clear consequences, without ambiguity. We remain woefully underprepared to secure the upcoming elections, and an executive order is simply no substitute for congressional action, such as the strong measures included in the bipartisan DETER Act.”

Sen. Warner is a co-sponsor of the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act.


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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expedite disaster relief efforts in Virginia ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. The Senator, along with the entire Virginia congressional delegation, previously requested that President Trump issue a federal emergency declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Administration took this step yesterday, allowing FEMA and other federal agencies to begin offering preemptive assistance ahead of the storm. 

“Even as the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and localities continue their precautionary efforts, I am concerned about the potential of severe flooding in the Commonwealth. Hurricane Florence is expected to cause serious flash flooding, mudslides, and river flooding in parts of Virginia that do not have a history of flooding and have already received large amounts of rainfall this year. These areas may not have the resources available to immediately respond to large scale flooding. I urge you to work with VDEM and localities in Virginia to coordinate disaster relief efforts and ensure that these communities have the resources and technical assistance they need to respond to this storm,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

Gov. Northam has declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, and has ordered the evacuation of more than 200,000 residents living in affected areas. Sen. Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine have been requesting coordination and assistance from federal agencies in preparation for the hurricane, including the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), following reports that Naval Station Norfolk warned its employees of potential flooding at the base, and will continue monitoring additional storm developments that may require increased federal assistance.

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

Dear Administrator Long,

 

I write to you today to express my concerns about the potential effects of Hurricane Florence on the Commonwealth of Virginia. Hurricane Florence remains an exceptionally powerful storm that is expected to make landfall in the Carolinas and Virginia later this week. On Tuesday, September 11, 2018, President Donald J. Trump declared a state of emergency in Virginia, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies to offer preemptive assistance to the Commonwealth. I urge you to move expeditiously to implement disaster relief efforts to ease the hardship for Virginians who will be impacted by this storm.

 

Even as the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and localities continue their precautionary efforts, I am concerned about the potential of severe flooding in the Commonwealth. Hurricane Florence is expected to cause serious flash flooding, mudslides, and river flooding in parts of Virginia that do not have a history of flooding and have already received large amounts of rainfall this year. These areas may not have the resources available to immediately respond to large scale flooding. I urge you to work with VDEM and localities in Virginia to coordinate disaster relief efforts and ensure that these communities have the resources and technical assistance they need to respond to this storm.

 

Hurricane Florence has the potential to cause significant damage in certain areas of Virginia. I urge you to act quickly to make all necessary resources available to alleviate the impacts of this dangerous storm. Thank you for your attention to this matter and please let me know how I can work with you to ensure a swift and effective recovery effort.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mark Warner

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced a total of $5,524,852 in federal funding for Washington Dulles International and Warrenton-Fauquier Airports through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). 

“We are pleased to support upgrades at airports in Northern Virginia that will improve travel for Virginians and visitors. These are long-term investments in cleaner technology and upgraded infrastructure,” the Senators said.

Washington Dulles International will receive $4,000,000 to install 112 electrical recharging stations for electrical ground support equipment.    The project aims to implement clean technology infrastructure to reduce ground emissions and improve air quality through the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Program.

Warrenton-Fauquier will receive $1,524,852 to complete the construction of an airplane ramp and finish the new terminal area.

The funding was awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program within DOT. The program supports infrastructure improvement projects at airports across the country, including runways, taxiways, aprons, terminals, aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles, and snow removal equipment.  Warner and Kaine have long fought for funding for Virginia’s airports and pushed back against the Trump Administration’s suggested budget cuts to DOT to ensure that critical upgrades like these can happen. The Senate is expected to consider an FAA reauthorization measure in the coming weeks.

 

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) wrote to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to offer assistance in protecting military facilities and personnel in Virginia ahead of Hurricane Florence. Virginia has a significant footprint for each of the branches of our nation’s military and is home to Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval complex in the world. This week, the station warned its employees about the possibility of flooding and urged them not to leave their vehicles parked at the base during the storm.  

“As sea levels rise, these installations in particular have faced increased frequency and severity of flooding in recent years. Given the critical role that Hampton Roads military installations play in supporting our nation’s security, we ask that you keep us apprised of any assistance you may need to ensure the safety of servicemembers and their families, installations, and infrastructure, and to swiftly address any potential damage resulting from the storm. We look forward to working with you to ensure that the military is able to quickly recover following Hurricane Florence,” wrote the Senators in a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

On September 8, 2018, Gov. Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. On Monday, Sens. Warner and Kaine led the Virginia congressional delegation in a letter calling on President Trump to support the Governor’s request to issue a federal emergency declaration ahead of the storm.

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

The Honorable James N. Mattis
Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Mattis,

As Hurricane Florence strengthens in the Atlantic on its projected path toward the East Coast, we write to offer our assistance and support as  the Department of Defense takes the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of its personnel and infrastructure in Virginia. Our state hosts significant footprints for each of the branches of our nation’s military, and is home to the largest naval complex in the world, Naval Station Norfolk.

In preparation for the storm, the Commonwealth of Virginia has declared a state of emergency, and has requested Federal support in dealing with potential emergency response. Additionally, we understand that the Navy has ordered Sortie Condition Alpha, meaning ships from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek and Naval Station Norfolk will be getting underway to avoid the worst of the storm. We are grateful for the steps the Department of Defense has taken so far.

As sea levels rise, these installations in particular have faced increased frequency and severity of flooding in recent years. Given the critical role that Hampton Roads military installations play in supporting our nation’s security, we ask that you keep us apprised of any assistance you may need to ensure the safety of servicemembers and their families, installations, and infrastructure, and to swiftly address any potential damage resulting from the storm.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that the military is able to quickly recover following Hurricane Florence. Thank you again for your preparation on this critical effort.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement today on his decision to vote against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court:

“This is the most consequential Supreme Court vacancy in a generation, yet it has been the least transparent confirmation process in recent history. Thanks to unprecedented efforts by the Trump Administration to conceal large portions of Judge Kavanaugh’s record and the nominee’s unwillingness to answer basic questions before the Judiciary Committee, much of Judge Kavanaugh's record and judicial philosophy remain a mystery to the American people. But what we have seen provides reason enough to vote against this nominee.

“His past rulings, writings, and evasive answers before the Judiciary Committee lead to the inescapable conclusion that, as a Supreme Court justice, Judge Kavanaugh would seek to undermine and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, and would fail to protect people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination by insurance companies.

“I am also deeply troubled by Judge Kavanaugh’s views on executive power. We currently have a president whose conduct is at the center of a federal criminal investigation, but in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh refused to say whether he thinks it is constitutional for presidents to be investigated, and whether he continues to believe that the president has the power to fire a prosecutor criminally investigating him. In this country, no one, not even the president, is above the law. Should the president’s legal team decide, as they have threatened, to contest that principle in court, it is imperative that the Supreme Court ensure that the president is held accountable.

“For all these reasons, I must vote no on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $3,714,216 million in federal funding for ten Virginia fire departments through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The funding, which will go to fire departments in Patrick Springs, Forest, Strasburg, Chatham, Martinsville, Norfolk, Spotsylvania, Exmore, Fries, and Yorktown will be awarded through FEMA’s Assistant to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs.                                               

 “Firefighters put their lives on the line every day. These federal dollars will help fire departments across Virginia update and purchase new equipment and support essential staffing needs, ensuring they have the resources to do their jobs,” the Senators said. 

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

  • Patrick Springs Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. will receive $90,000 to purchase personal protective equipment.
  • Forest Volunteer Fire Company will receive $95,910 to purchase personal protective equipment.
  • Strasburg Fire Department will receive $52,143 to update its source capture exhaust system technology.
  • Chatham Fire Department will receive $15,239 to support search and rescue training.
  • Dyers Store Volunteer Fire Department in Martinsville will receive $166,896 purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment.

 

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

  • Norfolk Fire – Rescue will receive $1,035,021 to support hiring efforts.
  • Spotsylvania County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management will receive $1,149,277 to support hiring efforts.
  • Community Fire Company, Inc. in Exmore will receive $232,800 to support recruitment efforts.
  • Fries Fire Dept. will receive $178,616 to support recruitment efforts.
  • York County Fire and Life Safety will receive $698,314 to support hiring efforts.

The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG program is to enhance 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. The primary goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments’ ability to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards. FEMA’s SAFER program specifically provides funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained firefighters available in their communities.

 

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to urge the Administration to consider expanding the dual enrollment Pell experiment to meet the goal of 10,000 participating low-income high school students. Under the Department’s experiment, a limited number of high school students taking college-credit courses have access for the first time to federal Pell Grants. One of the participating sites is Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) in Lynchburg, Virginia. Sen. Warner visited CVCC earlier this year and heard firsthand from students, teachers, and administrators involved with the dual enrollment program about the program’s success. 

In addition to assessing whether the experiment is on-track to have 10,000 participating students—and, if not, considering accepting another round of applications—the letter from Sens. Warner and Portman also raises two funding issues that were discussed on the visit and recommends potential solutions.

“Central Virginia Community College and other institutions participating in the Department’s experiment continue advancing our understanding of how best to implement dual enrollment programs that access Pell Grant funding,” said Sen. Warner. “We should take every opportunity to harness their experience and expertise to better meet the needs of students who may apply for similar programs in the future.”

“The cost of college tuition and fees continue to rise, and early college high schools can play a critical role in helping students get head start on college,” said Sen. Portman.  “I strongly support expanding access to programs that help students get college credit while in high school.  I will also continue to push for our bipartisan legislation ‘Go to High School, Go to College’ to make this pilot permanent and provide more options for college to low-income students.”

Sens. Warner and Portman have championed legislation that would permanently expand Pell Grant eligibility to early college high school students, and led efforts toexpand access to dual and concurrent enrollment in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

A copy of the Senators’ letter is available here and below. 

 

September 11, 2018

 

The Honorable Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20202

 

Dear Secretary DeVos:

 

We write today regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s ongoing institution-based experiment to provide access to Pell Grants for eligible students participating in dual enrollment programs. Specifically, we write to request the Department consider accepting another round of applications for additional institutions to join the experiment, and to relay feedback we have received on the experiment’s current construction and offer recommendations as to how it might be modified for an additional round of applications to have an even greater impact for low-income students and the institutions that serve them. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

 

Under the Department’s dual enrollment experimental site, 43 diverse programs nationwide run by approved Institutions of Higher Education have been selected to allow up to 10,000 low-income high school students to access their Pell grants in order to participate. Access to federal financial aid under the experiment is designed to offset the costs of tuition, fees, and books for dual enrollment programs that provide students with the opportunity to earn a minimum of twelve college credits on a pathway towards a degree or credential as well the support services necessary to ensure their success. We request that the Department assess whether the currently participating institutions are likely to meet the Department's goal of 10,000 participating students; and consider accepting another round of applications for additional institutions to join the experiment beginning with the next school year.

 

We would also encourage the Department to consider making changes to the experiment for any new institutions admitted, responsive to feedback from the initial set of institutions selected to participate in the experiment. The experiment presently requires that, “Participating institutions…ensure that after all Federal Pell Grants, State, local, institutional aid, or other resources have been applied to student charges, students are not responsible for any remaining institutional charges as a result of enrolling in the postsecondary program as part of the institution's dual enrollment arrangement under the experiment.” While we appreciate the presumed intent of this requirement to ensure access and affordability, it has come to our attention that this stipulation has had the unintended consequence of impeding or imperiling some students’ ability to participate in the experiment altogether.

 

It is our understanding that at least one institution has already withdrawn from the experiment because they were unaware of the sizeable financial obligation and unable to fulfill it. Another institution would have followed suit were it not for extraordinary measures taken by the state’s higher education coordinating body and community college system to identify and allocate the necessary funds. At a minimum, we would encourage the Department to make this fiduciary requirement clearer in future iterations of the experiment and provide participating schools—many of them community colleges or minority-serving institutions—with guidance on identifying funding sources. We would also urge you to consider making additional federal funding available to participating schools or allowing students to contribute some modest amount towards their postsecondary courses to help institutions offset costs.

 

Further, the experiment requires that participating schools demonstrate that, “Federal Pell Grants made available to students to enroll in participating institutions through this experiment must not supplant public and institutional sources of funding for an institution’s dual enrollment arrangement(s).” While we share the Department’s desire to see expanded access to dual enrollment programs for low- and moderate-income students, this requirement, too, has had unintended consequences in its implementation. One school district that would have otherwise been qualified and eager to participate in the experiment was deemed ineligible to apply because they already finance their Pell-eligible students’ costs. Were the experiment’s supplement-not-supplant language crafted differently, this school district would have been able to reach even more students—expanding dual enrollment access across the board, while still providing access for their Pell-eligible population. While we share the experiment’s objective to encourage additional investment in dual enrollment access, we would encourage you to consider and adopt a more tailored supplement-not-supplement requirement that gives schools slightly more latitude in determining how to allocate funds amongst dual enrollment participants.

 

Thank you for your continued commitment to the Department’s Pell dual enrollment experimental site, and for your consideration of these recommendations. Please do not hesitate to have your staff contact Lauren Marshall at (202) 527-0431 or Lauren_Marshall@warner.senate.gov or Megan Harrington at (202) 224-3353 or Megan_Harrington@portman.senate.gov with any questions. We look forward to continuing to work with you on this promising initiative.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration for awarding Accomack County Airport $3,649,906 in federal funding. Accomack County will use the funding to rehabilitate and improve lighting on the runway.

“These federal dollars will help make improvements to ensure safer travel to and from Accomack for both Virginians and visitors,” the Senators said.

The funding was awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program within DOT. The program supports infrastructure improvement projects at airports across the country, including runways, taxiways, aprons, terminals, aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles, and snow removal equipment.  Warner and Kaine have long fought for funding for Virginia’s airports and pushed back against the Trump Administration’s suggested budget cuts to DOT to ensure that critical upgrades like these can happen. The Senate is expected to consider an FAA reauthorization measure in the coming weeks.

 

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (VA-01), Scott Taylor (VA-02), Bobby Scott (VA-03), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Tom Garrett (VA-05), Bob Goodlatte (VA-06), Dave Brat (VA-07), Don Beyer (VA-08), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Barbara Comstock (VA-10), and Gerry Connolly (VA-11), called on President Donald Trump to issue a federal emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Florence, a tropical storm which was recently upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to make landfall somewhere on the southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast Thursday night. Virginia’s congressional delegation wrote to the President in support of a request from Gov. Ralph Northam in advance of the storm’s potentially devastating effects on the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence. Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents,” wrote the Virginia Senators and Representatives.

On September 8, 2018, Gov. Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. It is increasingly likely that Virginia will face damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and potentially life-threating storm surge flooding. Many localities have already ordered mandatory evacuations to prevent potential physical harm or loss of life. 

The full text of the letter can be found below:

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

We write today to express our support for Governor Ralph S. Northam’s request for a federal emergency declaration in advance of Hurricane Florence’s potentially devastating effects on the Commonwealth of Virginia.

 

As you may know, on September 8, 2018 Governor Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. It is increasingly likely that Virginia will face damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and potentially life-threating storm surge flooding due to Hurricane Florence. Many localities have already ordered mandatory evacuations to prevent potential physical harm or loss of life.

 

Governor Northam’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local recovery efforts. The Commonwealth has activated the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response to assess the storm’s potential effects and the Virginia Emergency Operations Center is already coordinating the state’s response with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

 

A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence.

 

Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents.

 

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, was sentenced for lying to the FBI about his interactions with suspected Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential campaign: 

“Despite constant attacks by the President and his allies, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team have once again demonstrated that they are conducting a serious, professional investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians during the 2016 election.  

“As an influential foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, Mr. Papadopoulos was informed that Russia had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails’ at a critical time during the campaign. He also had access to, and communications with, the campaign’s top leaders. That’s not conjecture – that is according to Mr. Papadopoulos himself.

“I still have significant questions about how high that information went, and I know the Senate Intelligence Committee would like to hear directly from Mr. Papadopoulos.”


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine praised grant funding for seven Virginia fire departments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), totaling $1,482,078 . The funding, which will go to fire departments in Montross, Newport, Ivanhoe, Abingdon, Coeburn, Dungannon, and Bloxom, will be awarded through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. 

“Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities. We are pleased they will receive federal dollars to support them as they help keep Virginians safe,” the Senators said. 

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

  • The Westmoreland Volunteer Fire Department Inc. in Montross will receive $81,280 to update its source capture exhaust system technology.
  • The Simmonsville Volunteer Fire Department in Newport will receive $240,000 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment. 
  • The Ivanhoe Volunteer Fire Department in Wythe County will receive $72,858 to purchase personal protective equipment. 
  • The Abingdon Fire Department in Washington County will receive $778,910 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment. 
  • The Coeburn Volunteer Fire Department in Wise County will receive $85,715 to purchase personal protective equipment. 
  • The Dungannon Volunteer Fire Department in Scott County will receive $61,410 to purchase personal protective equipment. 
  • The Bloxom Volunteer Fire Company in Accomack County will receive $161,905 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment.  

The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG program is to enhance 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— U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), along with Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), introduced the Health Care Staffing Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation to make common-sense changes in staffing policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve veterans’ care at VA health care facilities.

At many VA health centers around the country, veterans face wait times of weeks or even months for an appointment. These severe roadblocks to providing timely and quality health care to veterans stem in part from a shortfall of tens of thousands of medical staff. The Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act would reduce bureaucratic obstacles to make it easier for the VA to boost staffing at VA health centers and reduce wait times.

“Our veterans face too many obstacles in accessing the world-class care they deserve,” said Sen. Warner. “Long wait times at VA medical facilities prevent our nation’s veterans from getting the care they should receive given the sacrifices they have made for this country. This bipartisan measure will help create a steady pipeline of qualified health care professionals who are instinctively familiar with the needs of our growing veteran population.”

“Our veterans have stood up for us, and we must stand up for them,” said Sen. Merkley. “Long wait times put our veterans’ health in jeopardy and are simply unacceptable. It’s common sense to eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles, and to create a ‘docs-to-doctors’ pipeline so that servicemembers who have served in health care roles in the military can easily transition their service into the VA system.”

“For too long, the VA has struggled to recruit and retain frontline health care providers, further exacerbating the issues already plaguing the VA system,” said Sen. Tillis. “The Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act directly addresses this problem by reducing bureaucratic barriers and by creating a streamlined process for transitioning servicemembers to bring their invaluable training and experience to the VA, which will make it easier for VA facilities across the nation to provide our veterans with the high quality care they need and deserve.”

“Our veterans deserve the highest quality of care,” said Sen. Brown. “This bill will remove red tape so we can put veterans’ needs first, increase the quality of care provided to those who served our country, and empower VA to hire enough staff to improve the overall veteran experience at different facilities.”

The legislation would make it easier for servicemembers who have served in medical roles to transfer directly into the VA system and make it easier to transfer or share medical staff and services across VA facilities. 

To provide VA with a large pool of trained medical staff who are already serving their country, the “Docs-to-Doctors” program improves the ability of the VA to recruit veterans who served as health care providers while in the military by:

                 Requiring that VA receive a list of servicemembers who served in a health care capacity while in the military or as part of the Coast Guard and have filed for separation in the previous 12 months; and 

                 Treating these veterans as applicants from within the VA to allow for a more expeditious hiring process.

Currently, certain VA medical professionals have to “recredential” every time they change hospitals or provide services at a hospital outside of their VA regional healthcare system. VA health care providers report that his can take from six weeks to three months, or even longer. In a unified health care system like the VA, it needlessly limits the VA’s flexibility to have medical professionals provide services where they are most needed. The Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act would require the VA Secretary to create uniform credentialing rules for medical professionals across the Veterans Health Administration.

The Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and The American Legion.

“DAV has long advocated for Congress and federal departments to work with state and local governments, employers, trade unions, and licensure and credentialing entities, to establish a clear process so that military training meets civilian certification and licensure requirements and allows veterans to take their vocational certifications and training directly into the civilian sector once they leave military service,” said Garry J. Augustine, DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director. “If passed and signed into law, the Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act will eliminate employment barriers for military healthcare workers, allowing them to continue serving their fellow citizens by utilizing their top-notch vocational training without delay.”

“Veterans from medical occupational fields should be able to count their military service and experience when transitioning to the civilian healthcare workforce,” said Brett Reistad, National Commander, The American Legion. “The Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act would streamline the process for separating veterans and help address the staffing shortage at VA medical facilities across the country. This bill, as currently written, is good for our veterans and good for America.” 

The Health Care Staffing Improvement Act has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Justice filed charges against a North Korean spy in connection with the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and the 2017 Wannacry ransomware attack:

“This indictment is the result of years of hard work by the FBI and the Department of Justice, and it is an important step in making clear to our adversaries that these kinds of criminal activities are unacceptable. It also points to the need for a clearly thought-out and articulated strategy for deterring and punishing state-sponsored cyberattacks.”


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressmen Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) announced their plans to introduce bicameral resolutions to commemorate Arthur Ashe, a Richmond, VA native, on the 50th anniversary of his historic win at the 1968 U.S. Open Tennis Championship. The resolution honors Ashe’s humanitarian contributions to civil rights, education, the movement against apartheid in South Africa, and HIV/AIDS awareness. The 2018 U.S. Open Tennis Championship is currently underway. 

“Virginians will always be proud of what Arthur Ashe accomplished on and off the court,” Kaine said. “He set an example of how to be a leader, and 50 years after his historic win, he deserves this recognition.” 

“As an avid tennis player, I’ve always been a fan of Arthur Ashe. Not only was he an incredible athlete, but he was also a great humanitarian and an advocate for many important causes. He built his legacy both on the court and through the many other efforts he championed around the world, and I’m excited to sponsor this resolution honoring that legacy,” Capito said.

“Although most remember Arthur Ashe as a fierce competitor on the tennis court, he was also an activist and an incredible force for racial and social justice,” said Warner. “This much deserved tribute honors him for using his platform to be a champion for all.” 

“I am so proud to introduce a House Resolution honoring the life, legacy, and leadership of the great Arthur Ashe,” said McEachin. “Ashe’s contributions to American history continue to make his fellow Richmonders proud – just as we were on the historic day 50 years ago.”

 “This bicameral resolution will further solidify the legacy of Arthur Ashe by honoring his legacy both on and off the court. As Virginians and Americans we are inspired by his achievements,” said Scott.

 

Full text of the resolution is below:

 

Title: Commemorating Arthur Ashe, a native of Richmond, Virginia, on the 50th anniversary of his historic win at the 1968 U.S. Open Tennis Championship and honoring his humanitarian contributions to civil rights, education, the movement against apartheid in South Africa, and HIV/AIDS awareness.

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe won the U.S. Open Tennis Championship on September 9, 1968, in the first year the tournament was open to professionals, while he was on active duty based at the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe’s victory, following his amateur U.S. National Championship title two weeks earlier, marked the first time an African-American man won a major title;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia, on July 10, 1943, and raised by his widowed father in a house on the grounds of Brook Field, the largest playground for blacks in Richmond, the segregated capital of the former Confederacy;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe first learned to play tennis at 7 years old and showed enough talent to later receive coaching and guidance from Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, a pioneer for black tennis players;

 

Whereas, although prohibited in Richmond from competing in tournaments and practicing at municipal indoor courts because of segregation, Arthur Ashe won the National Junior Indoor tennis title, becoming the first African-American male to do so and earning a scholarship in 1963 to play tennis at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and was assigned to West Point by the United States Army, where he earned promotions to first lieutenant and also led the tennis program;

 

Whereas the amateur and professional tennis accomplishments of Arthur Ashe included National Collegiate Athletic Association singles and doubles titles, the Australian Open title in 1970, and the Wimbledon title in 1975;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe became the first black player selected to the Davis Cup team for the United States, which he later coached;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe’s accomplishments on the tennis court gave him a platform to pursue social justice during a turbulent time in the civil rights era;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe’s activism included efforts to end apartheid in South Africa;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe pushed for, and eventually earned, a visa to play in the National Championships in South Africa in 1973;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe was arrested twice, first for protesting outside the Embassy of South Africa in Washington, D.C., and later for protesting the repatriation of Haitian refugees by the United States Government;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe researched the history of African-American athletics and published a groundbreaking book, “Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete”, celebrating the accomplishments of heroes known and unknown;

 

Whereas after suffering a heart attack in 1979 and contracting HIV/AIDS as a result of a blood transfusion, Arthur Ashe resolved to educate the people of the United States and the world about the disease and advocated for more resources to end an epidemic that disproportionately affected marginalized communities, including communities of color;

 

Whereas Arthur Ashe succumbed to complications from HIV/AIDS and died on February 6, 1993, and became the first African American to lie in state at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond; and

 

Whereas President Bill Clinton posthumously awarded Arthur Ashe the Presidential Medal of Freedom on June 20, 1993, and the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to erect a statue on historic Monument Avenue to honor his achievements: Now, therefore, be it

 

Resolved, That the Senate—

 

(1) honors Arthur Ashe, a native of Richmond, Virginia, on the 50th anniversary of his historic win at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship; and

 

(2) celebrates his contributions to education, scholarship, the anti-apartheid movement, and HIV/AIDS awareness.

 

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) cosponsored legislation to overturn President Trump’s expansion of “junk insurance” plans. The Trump Administration recently released its final regulation on allowing Short-term Limited Duration Insurance (STLD) plans to expand eligibility for bare-bones health insurance plans, which do not have to provide the same level of minimum coverage as individual policies sold under the Affordable Care Act. According to experts, this move will undermine protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions by allowing insurance companies to market and sell more plans without vital consumer protections. In addition, this change will destabilize our country’s health care system and drive up health care costs for patients by shrinking the number of individuals in plans on the individual insurance marketplace. 

The resolution of disapproval introduced in the Senate and cosponsored by 44 Senators, including Sens. Warner and Kaine, would rescind the final “junk insurance” plan rule. Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproval resolutions that obtain the support of 30 Senators on a discharge petition force a vote on the Senate floor. Senators now have the support needed to file a discharge petition and force a vote under the CRA. A simple majority vote in the Senate would pass the resolution and send it to the House of Representatives.

“Virginians have a lot to lose if the Trump Administration is allowed to continue its policy allowing junk plans that will deny coverage to those with preexisting conditions and take away access to essential services like prescription drugs, emergency room visits, and maternity care,” said the Senators. “Congress should overturn this misguided attempt to undermine these critical consumer protections and refocus on reducing the growing insurance costs caused by the President’s ongoing attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.”

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) has said President Trump’s rule “poses a serious threat to cancer patients’ ability to access quality, affordable health coverage.” ACSCAN also said the rule “will likely leave older and sicker Americans in the individual insurance marketplace with few, if any, affordable health coverage choices” and that “patients living with serious conditions will be left paying more for the coverage they need if they can afford coverage at all.” 

For months, Sens. Warner and Kaine have been sounding the alarm on President Trump’s plans to undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions by expanding health care plans that do not have many vital consumer protections. They have urged the Administration to take swift action to stabilize the insurance marketplace and halt the expansion of “junk” health insurance plans.  

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the resolution is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

 

Text of the resolution is available here.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $416,248 in federal funding for James City County to prevent violence against women. The funds will be used toward a program that will educate domestic violence survivors about risk factors for homicide and provide them with support services, train and educate criminal justice professionals and allied agencies on best practices to investigate and prosecute crimes against women, and identify potential high-risk offenders. The money is awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice through the Violence Against Women Act.

“We are proud to announce this federal funding to help James City County address and prevent violence against women,” the Senators said. “We are thankful to local leaders who are collaborating with non-profits and criminal justice professionals to protect the community.”

In 2013, Warner and Kaine supported the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a bill that authorized the funding available in today’s grant and created essential protections for survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse.  Congress must reauthorize the law, which expires every five years, before the end of the month.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and 41 of their Democratic colleagues in a letter to Secretary DeVos condemning her reported plans to allow states and school districts to use federal funds to purchase firearms and firearm trainings for teachers and other school staff. The grants Secretary DeVos is considering using were created in the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and are intended to keep students safe and healthy, provide a well-rounded education, and help school districts more effectively use education technology.

“This plan runs counter to the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act and will make our schools more dangerous, and our students less safe,” wrote the Senators. “We urge you to abandon this proposal immediately, deny state and school district requests to use federal funds for this purpose, and instead work with us and other stakeholders to focus on other efforts that enhance student safety and prevent violence.” 

If Secretary DeVos goes through with this plan, the New York Times reports this would be the first time a federal agency authorized the purchase of weapons without a Congressional mandate. Just a few months ago, Congress once again reiterated this position by preventing federal funds from being used to purchase firearms or firearms training in the bipartisan Stop School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training program. 

“Students across the country deserve to learn in an environment that is safe and free of weapons. Introducing more guns into schools and classrooms is likely to lead to more, not less, violence. Reports of an unintentional firing in a classroom and even a gun being left in an elementary school bathroom illustrate the very real dangers to our children of arming teachers and other school staff,” continued the Senators. 

In addition to Warner, Kaine, and Murray, the letter was signed by Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Nelson (D-FL), Schumer (D-NY), Murphy (D-CT), Blumenthal (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Markey (D-MA), Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Heinrich (D-NM), Hirono (D-HI), Jones (D-AL), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Shaheen (D-NH), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Udall (D-NM), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).

 

Full text of the letter is below and PDF is HERE.

 

The Honorable Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20202

 

Dear Secretary DeVos: 

We write to express our strong opposition to the Department’s reported plans to allow States and school districts to purchase firearms or firearms training for teachers and other school staff with federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funds.[1] This plan runs counter to the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and will make our schools more dangerous, and our students less safe. We urge you to abandon this proposal immediately, deny state and school district requests to use federal funds for this purpose, and instead work with us and other stakeholders to focus on other efforts that enhance student safety and prevent violence.

 

The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, authorized under Title IV-A of ESSA in 2015, provides funds to States and school districts for a range of activities intended to keep students safe and healthy, provide a well-rounded education, and help school districts more effectively use education technology. Congress never intended for these funds to be used to purchase weapons, or train teachers in how to use weapons in schools. In fact, Congress denounced the presence of firearms in schools in ESEA section 4102(5)(B), when it defined the term “drug and violence prevention” as a program that fosters “the creation and maintenance of a school environment free of weapons.”[2]

 

Within the realm of education, it is the Federal government’s longstanding position to prohibit federal funds from being used to purchase weapons. Just a few months ago, Congress reiterated that position with the bipartisan Stop School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training program, which ensures “No amounts provided as a grant under this part may be used for the provision to any person of a firearm or training in the use of a firearm.”[3]  According to the New York Times, your Department acknowledges that moving forward with this plan would be the first time a federal agency has authorized the purchase of weapons without Congressional mandate.[4] Establishing such a precedent would be dangerous and clearly against Congressional intent.

 

Educators already face the daunting task of educating our next generation. Teachers and other school staff should be focused on providing instruction, engaging families, and providing students with the skills and supports they need to succeed in the workforce and in life, not on managing and potentially responding to threats with deadly force. In fact, a recent poll showed that the overwhelming majority of educators do not want to be armed, and instead many believe social emotional learning, mental health supports, and increased wraparound services and funding are a more effective way to keep students safe.[5]

 

Students across the country deserve to learn in an environment that is safe and free of weapons. Introducing more guns into schools and classrooms is likely to lead to more, not less, violence. Reports of an unintentional firing in a classroom[6] and even a gun being left in an elementary school bathroom[7] illustrate the very real dangers to our children of arming teachers and other school staff.

 

Title IV-A provides the opportunity for states and school districts to tailor their programming to local needs and improve school safety and student learning. The Administration’s proposal to allow States and school districts to use federal ESEA funds to arm teachers and other school staff not only runs counter to Congressional intent and established federal precedent, but would take schools and communities backwards in pursuit of these goals. We urge you to disallow any State or local educational agency from using ESEA funds for these purchases and to work with Congress to ensure our students are healthy, safe, and well-supported.

 

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/us/politics/devos-guns-in-schools.html

[2] Elementary and Secondary Education Act, section 4102(5)(B) 

[3] H.R.1625 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/us/politics/devos-guns-in-schools.html

[5] https://teachplus.org/news-events/press-release/teachers-overwhelmingly-oppose-idea-arming-teachers-schools-new-national

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/03/14/teacher-accidentally-discharges-firearm-in-calif-classroom-he-was-trained-in-gun-use/

[7] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cops-teacher-left-gun-in-bathroom-elementary-kids-found-it/

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today released the following statement on President Trump’s unilateral move to freeze federal employee pay in 2019: 

“Let’s be clear: the President’s decision to cancel any pay increase for federal employees is not motivated by a sudden onset of fiscal responsibility. Today’s announcement has nothing to do with making government more cost-efficient – it’s just the latest attack in the Trump Administration’s war on federal employees. 

“I’ve worked for years in the Senate to reduce duplicative and wasteful spending, and make government more efficient. If President Trump seriously wants to make that a priority, then I’d be happy to work with the White House on that effort. But let’s be honest: the President and his party, which controls both houses of Congress, have had every chance over the last 18 months to get serious about tackling our fiscal challenges. Instead, the President ballooned the deficit by trillions of dollars with a tax giveaway primarily benefitting big business and the wealthiest Americans. I can think of nothing more hypocritical or disingenuous than to turn around and throw hardworking federal employees under the bus on the pretext of fiscal responsibility.

“Congress can and must stand up to the President and reject this assault on our federal workers by passing the 1.9 percent pay raise that the Senate approved on August 1.”


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WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that nine Virginia airports will receive a total of $10,669,159 in federal funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

“We are pleased to announce these funds that will allow Virginia airports to make the necessary improvements to ensure safer travel to and from the Commonwealth,” the Senators said. “This federal funding will not only help to revitalize our airports, but will also help boost tourism across Virginia.”

Airports and project amounts are listed below:

  • Norfolk International Airport—$5,974,019. These funds will go towards rehabilitating Concourse A and to help construct a 5,000 square foot general aviation customs inspection facility.
  • Tappahannock-Essex Airport—$274,050. These funds will go towards an environmental study to evaluate any potential environmental impacts related to the proposed extension of the parallel taxiway and a non-aeronautical development area identified on the airport's layout plan.
  • New Kent County Airport—$991,901. These funds will help to rehabilitate 24,000 square yards of the existing terminal apron pavement.
  • Washington Dulles International Airport—$492,188. These funds will go towards acquiring 75 Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) squitter units for airport ground vehicles to improve surface situational awareness and safety. ADS–B is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked.
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport— $492,188. These funds will go towards acquiring 75 Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) squitter units for airport ground vehicles to improve surface situational awareness and safety. ADS–B is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked.
  • Louisa County/Freeman Field Airport—$346,500. These funds will help the construction of perimeter fences to deter unauthorized persons and vehicles from entering onto the airfield, thereby increasing airport safety.
  • Ingalls Field Airport (Bath County, VA)$81,000. These funds will help to construct a 360 square foot hangar building to assist the airport in being revenue-generating and in turn self-sustaining. Funds will also go towards construction of a similarly sized snow removal equipment building that will help extend the life of the equipment by protecting it from adverse weather conditions.
  • Luray Caverns Airport—$184,230. These funds will go towards the construction of a 12,500 square yard terminal apron to provide aircraft parking.
  • Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional/Woodrum Field Airport—$1,833,083. These funds will go towards the implementation of additional security enhancements.

The funding was awarded through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program within DOT. The program supports infrastructure improvement projects at airports across the country, including runways, taxiways, aprons, terminals, aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles, and snow removal equipment. Sens. Warner and Kaine have long fought for funding for Virginia’s airports and pushed back against the Trump Administration’s suggested budget cuts to DOT to ensure that critical upgrades like these can happen. The Senate is expected to consider a long-term FAA reauthorization measure in the coming weeks.

 

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