Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today announced that Mr. Robert Miller of Louisa County, Va. will attend as his guest at President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday, March 7. Mr. Miller, owner of Small Country Campground in Louisa County, Virginia, will be joining Sen. Warner as he highlights how small business owners in rural and underserved areas have benefitted from being able to connect to broadband internet for the first time thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law.

“In the 21st century, broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. For too long, residents and small business owners in rural areas had to rely on antiquated technologies while traditional internet companies looked at their balance sheets, unable to justify the cost of bringing broadband to these remote areas,” said Sen. Warner. “As one of the negotiators of the bipartisan infrastructure law, I am thrilled to be joined by Mr. Miller, one of the many small business owners who are now able to rely on high-speed internet to expand and grow their business.”

“Before high-speed internet arrived in Louisa County, Small Country Campground ran on a spotty landline and a laggy reservation system. Now, we boast a reliable internet-based phone system that’s accessible across 80 acres of property, as well as a faster and more responsive online reservation system,” said Mr. Miller. “My family and I are thankful for the broadband dollars in the infrastructure law, which have allowed us to attract remote workers, improve the overall guest experience, and generate more business for our community.”

As Virginia’s Senator and former Governor, Sen. Warner has championed efforts to expand broadband affordability and access in Virginia. As an author and negotiator of the bipartisan infrastructure law, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding to help deploy broadband and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. Virginia alone has received over $1.5 billion through the BIL to expand broadband. Louisa County is just one of many communities that has benefitted, or will soon benefit, from broadband dollars. The Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill supported by Sen. Warner included $364 million for the ReConnect program — funding that will support additional projects that will help rural communities access the internet. 

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WASHINGTON– U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined a letter led by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY-6) in support of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s proposal to expand the E-Rate program, which helps schools and libraries access affordable broadband. Under the proposal, the E-Rate program would be updated to allow schools and libraries to loan Wi-Fi hotspots to students and educators. In their letter, the lawmakers call for the expansion and modernization of the E-Rate hotspot program to help reduce educational disparities and ensure that all students can access the internet. 

The lawmakers wrote, “[We] are excited that the Commission has proposed to update the E-Rate program to allow schools and libraries to provide Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless internet services to students and educators. This proposal properly recognizes that learning now extends beyond the physical premises of school buildings.”

The lawmakers continued, “With millions of students at risk of losing internet access at home, we are glad to see the FCC exercising this authority and modernizing the E-Rate program, and we encourage the Commission to provide schools and libraries with the flexibility to adapt their programs to local conditions while continuing to effectively guard against fraud and waste.” 

Students who lack internet access at home face significant disadvantages in school, and a recent study found they receive lower grades than their classmates. Expanding the E-Rate program will build on the progress made through the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which Warner and Kaine helped pass as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP),?to provide devices and connectivity for students and educators at home. With the ECF set to expire at the end of this year and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) set to run out of funding soon, expanding the E-Rate program would also help prevent many students from losing internet access.

Joining Sens. Warner, Kaine, Markey, Van Hollen, and Meng on the letter in the Senate are Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). 

Warner – one of the principal authors of the ACP – and Kaine have long fought to expand access to broadband. The senators urged congressional leadership to extend funding for the ACP, which was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) Warner and Kaine helped pass. They also announced nearly $1.5 billion in federal funding to expand high-speed internet through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, which was also made possible by the BIL. They’ve introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that funding for broadband deployment from the BIL and the ARP, will not be considered taxable income.

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Chairwoman Rosenworcel,

We write in strong support of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal to allow libraries and schools to provide Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless internet services to students and educators through the E-Rate program. This effort represents an important modernization of the E-Rate program and a recognition that learning now extends beyond the school and library premises. As the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated, students without access to the internet at home are at a distinct disadvantage compared to their better-connected peers. We urge the Commission to move ahead with the E-Rate hotspot program to help reduce educational disparities and ensure that low-income students are not left behind.

Although the E-Rate program has successfully connected nearly every school and library in the country, the changing nature of education has reconstituted some of the inequalities that led Congress to create E-Rate in 1998. Back then, better-resourced schools gained internet access ahead of low-income and disadvantaged schools, providing an advantage to their students. Today, that inequality exists among individual households. Now, wealthy and middle-class students almost universally can access high-speed internet at home, but low-income and disadvantaged students lag behind. As schools adopt online resources and homework increasingly requires an internet connection, this “Homework Gap” favors students in wealthy households over their low-income classmates.

If this inequality was not clear before 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic made it obvious. Although the pandemic had serious consequences for students of all backgrounds, low-income students — especially those without access to the internet at home — have faced the greatest impact. In surveys of students at different grade levels, the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress has repeatedly shown that high-performing students had much better access to the internet at home. A recent study of Michigan students also found that a student without access to home internet earned significantly lower grades — 0.6 lower, on the 4.0 scale — than his or her connected classmates. A different study using Census Bureau data estimated that individuals with greater access to a computer and the internet at home spent 28 percent more hours learning than those without such access. As this evidence on home connectivity piles up, there should be no debate: Students without access to high-speed internet at home are seriously disadvantaged compared to their better-connected classmates.

Fortunately, during the pandemic, the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) — which Congress created in 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act — helped close this homework gap. The ECF program included $7.17 billion for schools and libraries to distribute devices and internet services to students and educators. Thanks to the hard work of the FCC staff, the Commission quickly stood up this program and began distributing these funds. Over the past two years, the ECF has helped roughly 18 million students at 11,500 schools connect to the internet at home. The program has provided nearly 13 million connected devices and more than 8 million broadband connections to students and educators. Unfortunately, the ECF program is set to sunset at the end of June, leaving students — and schools and libraries — in a potentially dire situation: Without action, millions of low-income students could lose access to the internet at home, a devastating digital cliff that would reverse the ECF’s important achievements. The potential expiration of the Affordable Connectivity Program, which helps low-income households afford broadband, would further exacerbate this impact on disadvantaged students.

Given these stakes, we are excited that the Commission has proposed to update the ERate program to allow schools and libraries to provide Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless internet services to students and educators. This proposal properly recognizes that learning now extends beyond the physical premises of school buildings. When a sixth grader is completing a homework assignment through an online educational platform or a ninth grader is attending class through a video conferencing application, they are clearly engaged in educational activities. In the Communications Act, Congress rightfully provided the FCC with the flexibility to structure and strengthen the E-Rate program as educational conditions change. With millions of students at risk of losing internet access at home, we are glad to see the FCC exercising this authority and modernizing the E-Rate program, and we encourage the Commission to provide schools and libraries with the flexibility to adapt their programs to local conditions while continuing to effectively guard against fraud and waste.

Thank you for your continued commitment to closing the digital divide.

Sincerely,

WASHINGTON, – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and 29 of their colleagues in urging Congressional leadership to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which is set to run out in a few months. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which Warner and Kaine helped pass, to lower high-speed internet costs for low-income Americans. Over one million households in Virginia are eligible for the ACP, and approximately 424,000 Virginia households are currently enrolled in the program. 

“We write to urge you to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides over 21 million working families with financial assistance for broadband access, to help bridge the digital divide so they can continue to afford the broadband services they need for work, school, health care, and more,” wrote the senators. “Should ACP funding not be extended, millions of Americans could be at risk of losing access to broadband.”

“Failing to extend funding would be irresponsible,” they continued. “We urge you to extend funding for the ACP in a government appropriations package and include a long-term solution that ensures efficient spending of taxpayer dollars.”

Virginians can go to GetInternet.gov to sign up for the ACP and find participating providers in their area.

As Governors and Senators, Warner and Kaine have long championed efforts to expand broadband access and lower internet costs in Virginia. Virginia has received over $1.5 billion through the BIL to expand broadband. The Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill that Warner and Kaine voted for included $364 million for the ReConnect program to help rural communities access the internet. During the pandemic, the senators secured significant funding for broadband through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the December 2020 government funding bill, which included COVID relief, and the American Rescue Plan Act.

In addition to Warner, Kaine, and Rosen, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján  (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full letter can be found here and below.

Dear Leader Schumer, Speaker Pro Tempore McHenry, Leader McConnell, and Leader Jeffries:

We write to urge you to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP); which provides over 21 million working families with financial assistance for broadband access; to help bridge the digital divide so they can continue to afford the broadband services they need for work, school, health care, and more. 

The ACP has been crucial to increasing broadband connectivity for millions of Americans, allowing them to maximize educational opportunities, stimulate economic growth, lower health care costs, and increase telehealth opportunities, while also ensuring that Americans can access the tools necessary to succeed in our growing and diversifying economy. As you finalize a government appropriations package, we urge you to include full funding for the ACP as well as a long-term solution that provides a sustainable, responsible funding stream, so that millions of Americans don’t lose access to critical connectivity services.

Established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the ACP lowers the out-of-pocket cost of broadband service and devices for working families. The program provides a monthly discount of up to $30.00 per month off the cost of Internet service and equipment as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 off a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.2 In qualifying rural communities and qualifying Tribal lands, the monthly discount may be up to $75.00 per month.  This means that hardworking families across the country, small business owners, veterans, and seniors are all able to receive financial assistance to afford high-speed internet.

We know how important having reliable broadband is to the over 21 million households participating in the ACP, representing approximately 41 percent of eligible households enrolled nationwide.  More are signing up every day because they need assistance to afford broadband where they live, work, and learn. At the current rate of usage, if Congress does not appropriate additional funds to the ACP, the program’s funds will be exhausted in just a few short months, several years earlier than the target date in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

Should ACP funding not be extended, millions of Americans could be at risk of losing access to broadband. We would take significant steps backward in the progress we’ve already made to connect more Americans to the internet through additional federal broadband investments. In just the last 6 months, we’ve invested billions of dollars to build out critical infrastructure, making sure the most rural areas of our country have access to broadband services. The ACP ensures families can now afford those services. We cannot let them face a connectivity cliff by letting this program run out of money with no future assistance.

Failing to extend funding would be irresponsible. Without an extension, nearly 21 million families already enrolled in the ACP will lose access to affordable broadband services that are critical to their everyday lives; and, should this funding lapse, hardworking families previously enrolled in the ACP would have to go through the process of reenrolling, creating unnecessary obstacles for obtaining affordable, reliable broadband.

Thanks to the ACP, access to broadband services is becoming a reality for families and providing new opportunities for success. If this is the digital future, we cannot shut people out. We must extend funding for this vital program to ensure that the families already signed up, and the millions of other families that are still eligible to sign up, are not forced off a program that has given them a lifeline to access high-speed internet, including essential access to work, school, and health care services. We urge you to extend funding for the ACP in a government appropriations package and include a long-term solution that ensures efficient spending of taxpayer dollars. We appreciate your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $16,395,565.20 in federal funding, courtesy of the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, awarded to the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC) to deploy broadband and expand access to high-speed internet throughout Virginia.

The funding will be used to construct approximately 130 miles of new fiber to build eight open-access middle mile fiber segments, the physical high-capacity fiber optic cables needed to connect internet service providers to larger data centers and local networks, which will support service for residential and business customers and provide critical broadband connectivity to 32 industrial and business park sites in 12 Virginia localities across Central and Southside Virginia.

“Access to high-quality, high-speed internet is crucial in the 21st century,” said the senators. “We are proud to have played a key role in creating and passing legislation that continues to deliver substantial funding to Virginia in order to achieve universal broadband coverage across the Commonwealth.”

“We are absolutely thrilled and deeply honored to be a part of this transformative project, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our electric cooperatives, ISPs, and other telecom providers,” said Tad Deriso, President & CEO of MBC. “The substantial infrastructure investment in middle mile fiber by the NTIA and GO Virginia represents a remarkable triumph for rural Virginia, as it paves the way for significant strides in bridging the digital divide and attracting more economic development investments to the region. MBC has a proven track record of executing fiber infrastructure projects on time and within budget, and we eagerly anticipate collaborating with our funding partners, our telecom provider customers, and the communities involved to make this project a resounding success.”

Details on the eight middle mile fiber segments are as follows:

  • The South Hill to Kenbridge segment will improve the capacity of the fiber route that supports the marketability and feasibility of the Kenbridge Commerce Center site in Lunenburg County as well as residential and business customers along the route.
  • The Blackstone to McKenney segment will support additional broadband capabilities at Fort Barfoot, a Virginia Army National Guard installation near Blackstone, VA for future rapidly mobilized national security operations and the expanding federal and private contractor workforce.
  • The Dinwiddie to Prince George segment will enable fiber connectivity for industrial, business, education, and biotech/pharmaceutical clusters in Dinwiddie County, Prince George County, and the City of Petersburg.
  • The MAMaC in Greensville County segment supports economic development in Greensville County by providing diverse fiber to enhance the marketability of the 1,600 acre MaMaC Megasite in Greensville County.
  • The Heartland Innovative Technology (HIT) Park in Prince Edward County segment will provide new diverse fiber to the recently established Heartland Innovative Technology Park.
  • The Sussex Mega Site in Sussex County segment will create middle mile fiber diversity for the Sussex County Mega Site, enhancing the site’s marketability for advanced manufacturing.
  • The Heartland Innovative Technology (HIT) Park to Cumberland segment will provide a diverse fiber route from HIT park to the north, to tie into other fiber backbone routes that extend to Ashburn, Culpeper and Charlottesville.
  • The Shannon Hill Regional Business Park in Louisa County segment will provide diverse fiber to the 700-acre Shannon Hill Regional Business Park for the park’s targeted industries of manufacturing, data centers, biotechnology, and logistics and distribution.

The Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program provides funding to expand and extend middle mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting areas that are unserved or underserved with current broadband infrastructure. The program was created by the bipartisan infrastructure law (BIL). 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long fought to expand access to broadband in Virginia. Last month, Sen. Warner visited Big Stone Gap to celebrate $25 million in funding for the deployment of broadband in Southwest Virginia. These announcements come in addition to over $1.4 billion in previously announced funding for the deployment of broadband throughout the Commonwealth as a result of the bipartisan infrastructure law. 

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $25,000,000 in federal funding from the Department of Agriculture awarded to Scott County Telephone Cooperative to deploy broadband and expand access to high-speed internet in Southwest Virginia. Tomorrow, Sen. Warner will join Rural Utility Services Administrator Andrew Berke, members of the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, and community leaders in Big Stone Gap, VA to celebrate this funding and touch on the importance of bringing high-speed internet to rural communities.

“For almost two decades, dating all the way back to my time as governor, I have stressed the need for access to broadband coverage and high-speed internet in every corner of the Commonwealth, and I was proud to negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure law that has made significant progress on this front,” said Sen. Warner. Access to fast, reliable, and affordable internet is crucial to ensuring our rural communities grow and thrive, and I’m thrilled that this $25 million investment for Norton, Wise County, and Lee County will help our small businesses, students, and residents stay connected.”

“High-quality internet is crucial to reach services like health care, work, and educational opportunities,” said Sen. Kaine. “Every Virginian, no matter where they live, deserves access to affordable, reliable internet access. I’m glad this funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which I was proud to help pass, will help thousands of Virginians in Norton, Wise County, and Lee County do just that.”

The funding will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will provide high-speed internet to more than 17,000 residents, 1,018 businesses, 37 farms and 49 educational facilities in Norton City, Wise County and Lee County Virginia. This funding was awarded though the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program, and funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law (BIL).

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long fought to expand access to broadband in Virginia. Earlier this year, the Senators announced over $1.4 billion in funding for the deployment of broadband throughout the Commonwealth. As a key author and negotiator of the BIL, Sen. Warner also previously secured $65 billion in funding to help deploy broadband and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet, and Sen. Kaine voted for the BIL to help make the funding possible. As part of that funding, Virginia received $5 million to help make a strategic plan to deploy coverage. 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $9,685,734 in federal funding to support the expansion of broadband at three Virginia Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Awarded through the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, this funding will allow Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union University to improve existing internet networks and provide workforce development opportunities to students and surrounding communities. 

“High-speed internet is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a need-to-have, particularly at our institutions of higher ed,” the Senators said. “This funding for Norfolk State, Virginia State, and Virginia Union represents strong steps towards closing the digital divide, developing a tech savvy workforce, and improving connectivity at three of Virginia’s HBCUs and in their surrounding communities.”

The funding is distributed as follows:

  • $3,898,789 for Norfolk State University to improve fiber connection on campus, create workforce development opportunities in STEM, IT, and cybersecurity careers, and provide off-site internet-focused training for students and local community members. These projects will leverage partnerships with Norfolk City Schools and local churches to expand job readiness for students of all ages and citizens of Norfolk.
  • $2,987,765 for Virginia Union University to improve wireless connectivity on campus, hire additional IT staff, and offer digital skills development opportunities for prioritized students, faculty, and community members. 
  • $2,799,180 for Virginia State University to upgrade and install fiber optic cable, purchase laptops to distribute to freshmen, and implement a community coding initiative for K-12 students in the Ettrick-Petersburg region.

The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program is a $268 million competitive grant program available to expand internet access and train information technology personnel at HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). The funding was originally authorized by the government spending bill and COVID-19 relief package that was negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long fought to expand access to broadband in Virginia. During negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure law, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding to help deploy broadband and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. As part of that funding, Virginia recently received $5 million to help make a strategic plan to deploy coverage. Sen. Warner also recently introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to ensure broadband investments are not considered taxable income.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) along with U.S. Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA-16) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) reintroduced the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act (BGTTA) legislation that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to ensure that funding for broadband deployment from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will not be considered taxable income. This legislation was first introduced last Congress in both the Senate and the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. 

Grants awarded for the purposes of broadband deployment are currently factored into a company’s income and are subject to taxation. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation moves to exclude broadband deployment grants awarded through the IIJA, ARP, and Tribal Broadband Connectivity Fund from an organization’s income, ensuring the entirety of federal dollars awarded to companies for the purpose of deploying broadband around the country can be used wholly for that purpose, rather than making their way back to the government through taxes.

“We have made significant strides to ensure that access to high-speed internet is available to more Americans than ever,” said Sen. Warner, a member of the Finance Committee that oversees the nation’s tax code and a primary author of the broadband provisions in the IIJA and ARP. “But taxing broadband investment awards diminishes our efforts. This legislation ensures that individuals and businesses are able to reap the benefits of every dollar set aside for broadband expansion and deployment so that we can accomplish our goal of bringing reliable broadband to every corner of Virginia.”

“Reliable, high-speed internet is more crucial than ever for Kansans to run their businesses, access telehealth or pursue an education,” said Sen. Moran. “This commonsense legislation would make certain federal grants provided for broadband deployment are not counted as taxable income to maximize the impact and success of these resources.”

More than 800,000 Pennsylvanians, including 520,000 rural Pennsylvanians, lack quality broadband internet access,” said Rep. Kelly, Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Tax. “This bill will not only help to change to that, but it will also work to make that access more affordable. It also ensures federal grant dollars, especially those made available to local governments through pandemic relief funding, will give constituents the best return on their investment. Internet connectivity brings together all Americans; it strengthens small businesses and E-Commerce; and it expands educational opportunities for our children. This legislation allows for existing grant funding to be spent as effectively as possible to help all American families from farm communities in California to the shores of the Great Lakes in Pennsylvania.”

“Although we were able to pass legislation last Congress providing major investments in our nation’s broadband, many small businesses who get that federal funding, to construct networks and connect our homes, may face steep taxes,” said Rep. Panetta. “The Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act would exempt those grants from federal taxation and ensure that the funding is allocated for universal broadband.  We will continue to work across the aisle in the House and across the U.S. Capitol with Senators to close the digital divide with investment and incentives that will bolster connectivity for every American.”

Joining Sens. Warner and Moran as co-sponsors are Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Angus King (I-ME), James Risch (R-ID), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Original co-sponsors in the House of Representatives are U.S. Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), Drew Ferguson (R-GA-03), Buddy Carter (R-GA-01), and Dan Kildee (D-MI-08).

“Access to high-speed internet is essential for telehealth, remote work, virtual learning, and more. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan made important investments to expand high-speed internet to more households in Virginia and across the country,” said Sen. Kaine. “Protecting these investments from being taxed will help ensure Virginians are getting the most out of these federal dollars.”

“The federal government should be lowering barriers to high speed internet access, not raising them,” said Sen. Wicker. “Taxing grants for broadband expansion only reduces their impact and penalizes providers who are working to close the digital divide.”

“High-speed broadband in North Dakota increases access to telehealth services, enhances learning pathways for students, and expands e-commerce opportunities for local businesses,” said Sen. Cramer. “We secured robust rural broadband grant funding in the infrastructure law, and this bill will help us maximize every dollar allocated.”

“Access to affordable, reliable broadband is vital to the success and growth of our communities across West Virginia,” said Sen. Manchin. “That’s why I helped author both the $65 billion broadband provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the $48 billion broadband provisions in the American Rescue Plan to provide historic funding to expand Internet access for all West Virginians, regardless of where they live across our great state. I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to ensure the full amount of these critical grants are invested in expanding broadband access and I will continue fighting to promote the full participation of all West Virginians in today’s digital economy.”

“When Congress funded grant programs to help deploy broadband in underserved states like West Virginia, it was intended for all of those funds to be used for exactly that purpose – for broadband deployment,” said Sen. Capito. “Taxing federal broadband grants as gross income undermines our intent for these programs and would further delay efforts to close the digital divide in areas that need broadband connectivity the most. I’m proud to join my colleagues to reintroduce this legislation, and will continue to work toward solutions that help us close the digital divide in West Virginia and rural America.”

“Rural communities are the backbone of our nation, and we want to ensure that Americans living in these communities have access to high-speed internet,” said Sen. Tuberville. “Taxing broadband grants would undermine federal efforts to prioritize rural broadband expansion. I am proud to support this legislation so that those living in rural America have internet needed to run their businesses, access healthcare, and pursue educational opportunities.”

“Access to the internet is not a luxury, it is a fundamental necessity. However, too many families remain on the wrong side of the digital divide. Students, workers, families, innovators, and businesses of all sizes depend on reliable, affordable broadband more than ever, and that’s why we made historic investments in broadband deployment and digital equity during the last Congress,” said Sen. Menendez. “This commonsense bipartisan legislation will maximize the impact and success of these investments by ensuring these dollars support expanding access to broadband.”

“Coloradans rely on affordable, high-speed internet to stay in touch with family, discuss health concerns with their doctors, and enjoy the economic opportunities presented by the digital era,” said Sen. Bennet. “This bipartisan legislation will update our tax code to ensure that grants to connect our communities—including a program based off my BRIDGE Act that makes the single largest broadband investment in American history—are spent bridging the digital divide and building infrastructure for the 21st century.”

“As the COVID-19 has shown, access to reliable high-speed internet remains critical to the success of our communities,” said Rep. Sewell. “I am proud to support this rational bill ensuring that such resources can be utilized to the fullest extent without the tax code hindering growth in my district and across the state.”

“Broadband is essential 21st century infrastructure and every community – regardless of zip code – should have access to this critical tool and the growing opportunities it provides,” said Rep. Ferguson. “These federal grant funds must strictly be used for the intended purpose of building out broadband in rural and underserved communities, and not redirected back to the federal government. This important legislative fix ensures every federal dollar allocated is maximized and goes towards closing the digital divide.”

“The internet is no longer optional. From remote work to online learning, bill payments and more, we must ensure that federal dollars intended to help Georgians improve their digital access, particularly in rural areas, is not clawed back by the IRS,” said Rep. Carter.

“Reliable and affordable internet access is essential for Michiganders in today’s economy,” said Rep. Kildee. “The last Congress passed a new law, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to expand high-speed broadband to every Michigan household. Our new bipartisan legislation would exempt broadband infrastructure grants from federal taxation for local governments and small businesses, to ensure we are maximizing this investment.”

As Senator, and during his tenure as the 69th Governor of Virginia, Sen. Warner has been a staunch advocate for expanded access to broadband. With more Virginia families relying on the internet for telework and telehealth following the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding within the bipartisan infrastructure law to help deploy broadband, increase access, and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. Sen. Warner was also a key supporter of the American Rescue Plan, which delivered $17 billion in funding for broadband expansion across the country, including a $10 billion Capital Projects Fund that Sen. Warner authored and secured in the bill specifically for infrastructure projects to help rural and low- and moderate-income communities gain access to high-quality internet.

“CCA supports the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act, and I thank Senators Warner and Moran for reintroducing the legislation. Grant funding should be free from taxation to ensure all broadband grants awarded can be used to reach Americans with connectivity needs. Many rural and underserved communities will see great benefit from enhanced wireless broadband services, and every dollar granted should be used for that purpose,” said Competitive Carriers Association President & CEO Tim Donovan.

“We applaud Senators Warner and Moran's ongoing efforts to repeal the tax on broadband grants,” said USTelecom Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Brandon Heiner. “To achieve universal connectivity, Congress must eliminate this unnecessary tax to ensure that federal resources remain in the communities they seek to serve. If Congress is serious about achieving universal connectivity, they should ensure that 100 percent of broadband grants go toward that goal.”

“CTIA commends Senators Warner and Moran for reintroducing the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act. This bipartisan effort encourages investments that reinforce and accelerate broadband deployment needed to close the digital divide in unserved and underserved communities. We must ensure that all grant funds can be optimally spent as intended to help build out equitable digital access that connects Americans across the country,” said CTIA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Kelly Cole.

“The once-in-a-lifetime resources in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the American Rescue Plan have provided our members with an amazing opportunity to build networks of the future,” said INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering. “While this investment will help spur competition and radically upgrade our broadband infrastructure, there are still too many barriers to deployment. Onerous taxes should not be one of them. I am pleased to see Senator Warner and Senator Moran reintroduce this vital piece of legislation and wholeheartedly support their efforts to get this signed into law and deliver on our promise to truly have Internet for All.”

“WTA applauds the historic federal investment in rural broadband, but the tax code needs to be amended so that the more than 370 small, locally-based broadband providers we represent don’t have to divert money received from grant funding to build broadband networks to paying taxes on that funding,” said Derrick B. Owens, Senior Vice President for Government and Industry Affairs for WTA - Advocates for Rural Broadband. “We support the bipartisan efforts of Senators Warner, Moran, and others to streamline the tax code so as much broadband funding goes toward building networks, and connecting all Americans to broadband, as quickly as possible. We hope to see the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act passed by Congress.”

“We are grateful that Congress committed tens of billions of dollars to broadband deployment grants through recent bills seeking to help close the digital divide in our country. But taxing broadband grants – requiring recipients to pay back to the government a portion of what they receive from the government – will dramatically reduce the impact of these programs and likely leave the hardest-to-reach communities without essential connectivity for even longer,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “It is critical that all broadband grant funds go toward their intended purpose of network deployment. NTCA is proud to support the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act, and on behalf of our members, I want to thank Senators Warner and Moran for reintroducing the bill. This legislation will maximize the impact of every dollar granted for broadband deployment and further the mission of getting every American connected.”

“Congress has made tremendous investments in recent years to ensure universal access to broadband for all Americans with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP). However, a significant percentage of the funds needed to accomplish this goal could be returned to the Treasury in the form of taxes, ultimately undermining the deployment of needed broadband infrastructure. This would significantly restrain efforts by America’s frontline providers in the digital divide – the small ISPs working in rural, under-resourced and Tribal areas of our country – who need every dollar they can obtain to ensure the goal of universal broadband connectivity is properly met,” said Eric Slee, VP of Government Affairs, WISPA – Broadband Without Boundaries. “WISPA commends Senators Warner and Moran for introducing the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act, a common sense and necessary solution, which would eliminate the tax on broadband grants.  WISPA wholeheartedly supports their efforts in exempting IIJA and ARPA dollars from taxation and we are hopeful that similar treatment will eventually also apply to grants awarded through other federal programs.  We know this will make federal broadband deployment programs more effective and ubiquitous.”

"The Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act is a common sense, bipartisan solution and a swift passage will ensure that the BEAD Program funding Congress appropriated via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be used for its intended purpose," said Melissa Newman, vice president of government affairs at TIA. "Bridging the digital divide and delivering reliable, high-speed broadband is what the BEAD Program is designed to do, and taxing the grant funds would be counterproductive to the objective of this investment in America's infrastructure."

“I appreciate Senators Warner and Kaine introducing legislation to prevent the taxation of broadband grants,” said Bill Franklin, CEO, Scott County Telephone Cooperative. “One of the requirements for these grants is financial sustainability. This tax burden would make many rural unserved and underserved areas ineligible due to their inability to meet the financial sustainability requirement. I appreciate Senator Warner’s business knowledge and experience to recognize that fact. This legislation will ensure many rural Virginians and rural households across the US get access to reliable and robust broadband!”

Full text of legislation is available here

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WASHINGTON – Ahead of a key deadline today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) is calling attention to a challenge submitted by the Virginia Office of Broadband to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), pointing to a significant number of locations in Virginia that are currently incorrectly reported on the most recent FCC broadband coverage map.

In November, after a sustained push from Sen. Warner, the FCC released a new map with their best estimates of broadband coverage across the country. Once finalized, the FCC map will help determine how broadband funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the bipartisan infrastructure law negotiated and written by Sen. Warner, will be allocated to states. Sen. Warner asked Virginians to review the released draft map to ensure it accurately reflected current broadband conditions at their address, and encouraged residents submit a challenge to the FCC if the information was incorrect. Virginians must submit their challenges by today, January 13, 2023 to ensure that they are adjudicated prior to the allocation of IIJA funding.

In addition to individual challenges submitted, the Virginia Office of Broadband has submitted a bulk challenge of locations currently reported as served but found to be unserved, based on the office’s analysis. In a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Sen. Warner highlighted the need for the map to accurately reflect the current state of broadband coverage in Virginia and asked the FCC to carefully consider Virginia’s submitted challenges.

“In partnership with Virginia Tech, the Virginia Office of Broadband found that there are approximately 358,000 locations in Virginia that are reported on the new map as being served when, in fact, they currently lack access to broadband. Given that the funding provided to states by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program is calculated based on the number of unserved locations in each state, it’s important that the number of unserved locations is accurately calculated,” Sen. Warner wrote in the letter. “I hope that you will carefully review the challenges submitted by individual Virginians as well as the bulk challenge submitted by the Virginia Office of Broadband. I appreciate your attention to this important issue and thank you for your efforts to close the digital divide.”   

Regarding Virginia’s submitted challenges, Dr. Tamarah Holmes, Director of the Office of Broadband at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, said today, “The number of locations in Virginia the FCC thinks are unserved directly affects the amount of money Virginia will receive under BEAD. We plan to challenge hundreds of thousands of locations we believe are incorrectly reported as served in the FCC's map, potentially securing additional funding for Virginia and allowing the Commonwealth to achieve universal access in Virginia.”

Sen. Warner has long fought to expand access to broadband in Virginia. During negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure law, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding to help deploy broadband, increase access, and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, created and funded through this landmark legislation, provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all states and territories. An accurate map will play a critical role in ensuring that this funding is used efficiently.

 

A copy of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Chairwoman Rosenworcel,

I write today to urge the Federal Communications Commission to give all due consideration to the challenges to the FCC’s new national broadband map submitted by the Virginia Office of Broadband. Ensuring that the new map is as accurate as possible is critically important to closing the digital divide and providing access to affordable, reliable broadband to every single American.

In 2021, I was proud to help negotiate the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides $65 billion to increase broadband availability and affordability across the United States. In order to ensure that funding is spent effectively, Congress determined that the allocation of broadband funding should be based on the new FCC map created as a result of the Broadband DATA Act. That legislation required the FCC to change how it maps broadband access, providing more granular, location-specific information instead of the previous map’s census-block level data. This endeavor is incredibly complex, and I appreciate the efforts of you, your colleagues, and the FCC staff to develop this new map.

As you have said, the success of this effort depends on stakeholder engagement. To that end, I have encouraged Virginians to review the new map and submit location and availability challenges if they believe information is incorrect. Furthermore, the Virginia Office of Broadband has been conducting their own analysis of the new map. In partnership with Virginia Tech, the Virginia Office of Broadband found that there are approximately 358,000 locations in Virginia that are reported on the new map as being served when, in fact, they currently lack access to broadband.

Given that the funding provided to states by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program is calculated based on the number of unserved locations in each state, it’s important that the number of unserved locations is accurately calculated. I hope that you will carefully review the challenges submitted by individual Virginians as well as the bulk challenge submitted by the Virginia Office of Broadband. I appreciate your attention to this important issue and thank you for your efforts to close the digital divide.

            Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) is calling on Virginians to provide feedback on internet coverage in their communities. Last month, after a sustained push from Sen. Warner, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a new map with their best estimates of broadband coverage across the country. Now, Sen. Warner is asking Virginians to review the FCC map to ensure it accurately reflects the current broadband options available at their address. Funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – the bipartisan infrastructure law negotiated and written by Sen. Warner – will be allocated to states proportionally based on the number of individuals living in each state who do not have access to high-speed internet.  If Virginians disagree with the information in the map, they should challenge the map through the FCC website. While challenges will be accepted on a rolling basis, Virginians must submit their challenges by January 13, 2023 to ensure that it is adjudicated prior to the allocation of IIJA funding.

“There are folks all over rural Virginia who know that the FCC broadband map isn’t always accurate,” said Sen. Warner. “Now is the time to make sure that it are using the best data available, so Virginia can get the investments to which it is entitled and achieve the goal of universal broadband access.”

In an email sent to constituents, Sen. Warner asked households to look up their address on the FCC Broadband Map website and make sure that the information available matches their broadband experience. If the FCC has incorrect information about either the address or coverage options, individuals can submit a “Location Challenge” or “Availability Challenge” directly through the website in order to accurately reflect current accessibility.

In addition to challenges submitted by individuals, The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development's (DHCD) Office of Broadband is currently analyzing the data and is in the process of formulating a statewide challenge to the new FCC map. That challenge will include thousands of locations that are unserved but currently noted as served. 

Ensuring this map is accurate is a crucial step to making sure that Virginia receives the investments needed to deploy universal broadband. Last month, Virginia received $5 million to help make a strategic plan to deploy coverage, courtesy of the bipartisan infrastructure law, and will be eligible for more once the initial plan is completed.

Sen. Warner has long fought to expand access to broadband in Virginia. During negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure law, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding to help deploy broadband, increase access, and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, created and funded through this landmark legislation, provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all states and territories. An accurate map will play a critical role in ensuring that this funding is used efficiently.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) applauded introduction of the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Mike Kelly (R-PA-16), Terri Sewell (D-AL-7), and Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3), all members of the House Ways & Means Committee. Sen. Warner introduced the Senate version of the legislation in September. 

“Ensuring that the investments that Congress has made to ensure Americans have access to high-speed internet have the maximum possible impact is a bipartisan – and now bicameral – goal,” said Sen. Warner, a member of the Finance Committee that oversees the nation’s tax code and a primary author of the broadband provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and American Rescue Plan (ARP). “I appreciate Representatives Panetta and Kelly introducing this legislation in the House of Representatives, and I look forward to working with them to get it over the finish line before the end of the year.”

Since introduction on September 29, 2022, six additional senators – Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Deb Fischer (R-NE) – have signed on to the legislation which would prevent critical broadband investments from counting as taxable income for grant recipients. They join original co-sponsors Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV),  

Already supported by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and WTA - Advocates for Rural Broadband, the legislation has also received several additional endorsements since introduction.

"We appreciate the leadership of Senators Warner and Moran for their efforts to eliminate the tax on broadband grants," said Brandon Heiner, USTelecom Senior Vice President of Government Affairs. "With an eye toward 100 percent connectivity, Congress made a historic investment in the broadband grant program in 2021. However, requiring grant recipients to return as much as 20 percent of those grants in the form of taxes jeopardizes our shared goal of universal connectivity. It is vital that Congress move to eliminate this tax, as America’s broadband providers carefully plan and prepare to allocate resources to connect as many Americans as possible."

“CTIA applauds Senators Warner and Moran for their work to protect investments that strengthen and expand broadband infrastructure," said CTIA Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Kelly Cole. "Ensuring grants can be used for their fullest purpose to deploy broadband to unserved and underserved communities is critical to bringing the benefits of connectivity to all Americans.”

“I appreciate Senators Warner and Kaine introducing legislation to prevent the taxation of broadband grants," said Bill Franklin, CEO, Scott County Telephone Cooperative. "One of the requirements for these grants is financial sustainability. This tax burden would make many rural unserved and underserved areas ineligible due to their inability to meet the financial sustainability requirement. I appreciate Senator Warner’s business knowledge and experience to recognize that fact. This legislation will ensure many rural Virginians and rural households across the US get access to reliable and robust broadband!”

Full text of the bill is available here 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $4,999,975.50 in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funding for planning broadband expansion projects in the Commonwealth. Awarded to Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, this first phase of funding will allow Virginia to develop their plans for deploying funding made available under the bipartisan infrastructure law to expand access to high-speed internet.

“Last year, we passed  once-in-a-generation funding for infrastructure projects across the country, and we’ve heard from communities across the Commonwealth about the difference these resources will make, from fixing unsafe bridges to modernizing our local airports,” the Senators said. “But in the twenty-first century, infrastructure doesn’t stop at roads and bridges—it must include access to broadband. That’s why we fought to make sure the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would also help close the digital divide in Virginia and provide access to affordable, reliable broadband to every corner of the Commonwealth.”

The BEAD program, created and funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law which Sen. Warner negotiated and Sen. Kaine supported, will support Virginia’s development of a Five-Year Action Plan to deploy universal broadband. Specifically, the grant will support planning and pre-deployment activities in the Commonwealth including providing technical assistance to sub grantees and further developing plans to build broadband capacity In rural and underserved areas.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long fought to expand access to broadband in Virginia. During negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure law, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding to help deploy broadband, increase access, and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. The BEAD Program was created and funded through this landmark legislation and provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all states and territories.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $682,479 in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for projects in Carroll County and the towns of Hurley and Whitewood. The funding will go toward expanding access to broadband and supporting recovery efforts following devastating flooding in Buchanan County.

“We are proud to announce these investments in Southwest Virginia,” said the Senators. “This funding will help rebuild homes that were devastated by flooding and bring critical infrastructure to rural communities by expanding access to high-speed internet.”

The funding is distributed as follows:

  1. $582,479 to Carroll County for the Pipers Gap Fiber Project to install 8.2 miles of fiber to expand wireless broadband and fiber in the area. The Pipers Gap Fiber Project is expected to expand access to 402 households that currently do not have high-speed internet.
  2. $100,000 to United Way of Southwest Virginia, Inc. for the Hurley-Whitewood Disaster Recovery Project to help the towns of Hurley and Whitewood recover from multiple devastating flooding events. The Hurley-Whitewood Disaster Recovery Project will assist 129 households with disaster relief and constructing or rehabilitating 50 homes.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments, including Virginia, with a mission to build community capacity, strengthen economic growth, and bring the Appalachian region into socioeconomic parity with the nation. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for a fully funded ARC that can increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have pushed for federal assistance following the August 2021 flooding in Hurley and July 2022 flooding in Whitewood. In October 2021, they successfully pushed the President to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Buchanan County. In September 2022, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully urged President Biden to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for Buchanan and Tazewell Counties following the July 2022 flooding.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), joined by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), introduced the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act (BGTTA) legislation to amend the Internal Revenue Code to ensure that funding directed for the implementation of broadband from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will not be considered taxable income.

Grants awarded to industry for the purposes of broadband deployment are currently factored into a company’s income and will soon be subjected to additional taxes due to scheduled changes to the corporate tax code that kick in beginning next year – unless Congress acts now to address the problem. This new bipartisan legislation moves to exclude broadband deployment grants awarded through the IIJA and ARP from an organization’s income, ensuring the entirety of federal dollars awarded to companies for the purpose of deploying broadband around the country can be used wholly for that purpose, rather than making their way back to the government through taxes.

“In order to fully reap the benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the American Rescue Plan, every dollar that was set aside to fund broadband expansion and deployment should be used for that purpose,” said Sen. Warner, a member of the Finance Committee that oversees the nation’s tax code and a primary author of the broadband provisions in the IIJA and ARP. “Taxing these broadband investments awards would be counter-productive, and could ultimately diminish efforts to give more Americans access to high-speed internet.” 

“Reliable, high-speed internet is more crucial than ever for Kansans to run their businesses, access telehealth or pursue an education,” said Sen. Moran. “This commonsense legislation would make certain federal grants provided for broadband deployment are not counted as taxable income to maximize the impact and success of these resources.”

“The pandemic underscored the need for everyone to have a high-speed internet connection—which is why Congress stepped up to help more households get connected through the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Sen. Kaine. “Ensuring that those investments won’t be taxed will help speed our progress toward that goal and expand access to online learning tools, remote work opportunities, and telehealth services.”

“Many underserved communities will soon see the benefits of new federal investments in internet infrastructure, but new federal tax changes would reduce the grants’ reach,” said Sen. Wicker. “Broadband providers that are trying to close the digital divide should not be hit with tax penalties.”

“When Congress funded grant programs to help deploy broadband in underserved states like West Virginia, it was intended for all of those funds to be used for exactly that purpose – for broadband deployment,” said Sen. Capito. “Taxing federal broadband grants as gross income undermines our intent for these programs and would further delay efforts to close the digital divide in areas that need broadband connectivity the most. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation, and I will continue working toward our shared goal of helping bridge the digital divide in West Virginia and rural America.”

“The pandemic forced many of us to live even more of our lives online. Hardworking Georgia families need reliable internet access for their jobs, education, health care and so much more,” said Sen. Rev. Warnock. “I’m pleased to be a champion for broadband access and to be a part of this bipartisan coalition working to ensure rural regions in Georgia and across the nation have access to the resources they need to deploy broadband. The Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act will help  connect Georgians so they can thrive in our bustling economy.”

As Senator, and during his tenure as the 69th Governor of Virginia, Sen. Warner has been a staunch advocate for expanded access to broadband. With more Virginia families relying on the internet for telework and telehealth following the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding within the bipartisan infrastructure law to help deploy broadband, increase access, and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. Sen. Warner was also a key supporter of the American Rescue Plan, which delivered $17 billion in funding for broadband expansion across the country, including a $10 billion Capital Projects Fund that Sen. Warner authored and secured in the bill specifically for infrastructure projects to help rural and low- and moderate-income communities gain access to high-quality internet.

“We are grateful that Congress committed tens of billions of dollars to broadband deployment grants through recent bills seeking to help close the digital divide in our country. But taxing broadband grants – requiring recipients to pay back to the government a portion of what they receive from the government – will dramatically reduce the impact of these programs and likely leave the hardest-to-reach communities without essential connectivity for even longer,” said Chief Executive Officer of NTCA Shirley Bloomfield. “It is critical that all broadband grant funds go toward their intended purpose of network deployment. NTCA is proud to support the “Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act,” and on behalf of our members, I want to thank Senators Warner and Moran for introducing the bill. This legislation will maximize the impact of every dollar granted for broadband deployment and further the mission of getting every American connected.”

“The federal government is making an enormous investment in rural broadband, but the effects of the tax code make it harder for the small, locally-based broadband providers we represent to maximize the amount of funding going to build out the network,” said Derrick B. Owens, Senior Vice President for Government and Industry Affairs for WTA - Advocates for Rural Broadband. We applaud the Senators for introducing this bipartisan legislation, which would streamline the tax code so that we’ll get as much broadband built as quickly as possible."

"We appreciate the leadership of Senators Warner and Moran for their efforts to eliminate the tax on broadband grants," said Brandon Heiner, USTelecom Senior Vice President of Government Affairs. "With an eye toward 100 percent connectivity, Congress made a historic investment in the broadband grant program in 2021. However, requiring grant recipients to return as much as 20 percent of those grants in the form of taxes jeopardizes our shared goal of universal connectivity. It is vital that Congress move to eliminate this tax, as America’s broadband providers carefully plan and prepare to allocate resources to connect as many Americans as possible."

“CTIA applauds Senators Warner and Moran for their work to protect investments that strengthen and expand broadband infrastructure," said CTIA Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Kelly Cole. "Ensuring grants can be used for their fullest purpose to deploy broadband to unserved and underserved communities is critical to bringing the benefits of connectivity to all Americans.”

I appreciate Senators Warner and Kaine introducing legislation to prevent the taxation of broadband grants," said Bill Franklin, CEO, Scott County Telephone Cooperative. "One of the requirements for these grants is financial sustainability. This tax burden would make many rural unserved and underserved areas ineligible due to their inability to meet the financial sustainability requirement. I appreciate Senator Warner’s business knowledge and experience to recognize that fact. This legislation will ensure many rural Virginians and rural households across the US get access to reliable and robust broadband!”

Full text of the bill is available here

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BROADCAST-QUALITY B-ROLL AVAILABLE HERE

HIGH-QUALITY PHOTOS AVAILABLE HERE

 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was joined by the White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling in announcing $219.8 million in broadband funding for Virginia, which comes from the $10 billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund authored by Sen. Warner and included in the American Rescue Plan.

As part of the announcement, Sen. Warner and Sperling were joined by NOVA President Anne M. Kress, PhD and NOVA Medical Education Provost Shelly L.S. Powers, DMSc, MA, PA-C in a demonstration of a hybrid Radiation Oncology course, during which they got a first-hand look at the invaluable role of broadband in expanding access to opportunity through quality higher education. The course also serves students in Roanoke, as it is taught by faculty from Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) through specialized instructional equipment only available at NOVA’s Medical Education Campus.

“In Virginia, broadband is absolutely critical to the economic prosperity, education, and health of every family. Today we saw a partnership between two institutions on either side of the Commonwealth who are able to reach more students and expand access to high-quality higher education thanks to the power of high-speed internet,” said Sen. Warner. “I was proud to negotiate this historic investment as part of last year’s emergency COVID-19 relief bill, and am thrilled to know that Virginia is among the first four states to receive its slice of the pie. I look forward to seeing Virginia achieve universal broadband coverage in the very near future.”

“There were a lot of people involved in the American Rescue Plan negotiations, folks like Senators Manchin, King, Hassan, Tester, Sinema, Hickenlooper, and many others, and of course, a lot of people at the White House were involved. But if you lined them all up and asked who was the leader and who was responsible for this $10 billion for broadband and connectivity, the verdict would be unanimous: we would not be here giving $220 million to Virginia if it wasn’t for Senator Mark Warner," said White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling at the event today. 

“Expanding access to healthcare education programs will help our region address critical nursing and staffing shortages, especially in rural communities,” said NOVA President Anne M. Kress, PhD. “As the only Virginia community college with a dedicated medical education campus, NOVA is proud to share its knowledge and state-of-the art equipment with peer institutions and their students across the Commonwealth. With expanded access to affordable and reliable broadband, more students will have the opportunity to choose and succeed in rewarding career pathways like healthcare, earning degrees and certificates that advance their families and our communities.”

“The pandemic exposed longstanding challenges that workers and families face when they don’t have adequate access to the internet, especially those living in rural areas and other unconnected communities. That is why these broadband investments are so urgently needed across the cuntry,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “This funding through the American Rescue Plan will help connect thousands of communities in Virginia with affordable, high-speed broadband service. Treasury commends Virginia for targeting this funding to places where it is most urgently needed across the state.”

Virginia’s $219.8 million represents 100 percent of its available CPF funding and will expand last-mile broadband access to an estimated 76,873 locations. Through a competitive grant-making program overseen by the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), local governments in partnership with internet service providers will apply for funds with the goal of deploying universal coverage solutions in the localities involved. 

As approved by the Department of Treasury, VATI’s plan is designed, upon project completion, to deliver reliable internet service that meets or exceeds symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps), speeds that are needed for a household with multiple users to simultaneously access the internet to telework and access education and health monitoring. In accordance with Treasury’s guidance, each state’s plan requires all service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare, and more by providing a discount of up to $30 per month.  The FCC estimates that about 48 million families are eligible for the program—nearly 40 percent of households. 

The CPF provides $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency. A key priority of the program is to make funding available for reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure and other digital connectivity technology projects.

As Senator, and during his tenure as the 69th Governor of Virginia, Sen. Warner has been a staunch advocate for expanded access to broadband. With more Virginia families forced to rely on the internet for telework and telehealth as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner secured $65 billion in funding within the bipartisan infrastructure law to help deploy broadband, increase access, and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet.

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 WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded  President Biden’s announcement of new efforts to lower high-speed internet costs for Virginians and all Americans, including commitments from 20 internet providers to either increase speeds or cut prices to no more than $30/month for Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)-eligible households. Warner and Kaine helped create the ACP, which was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Warner negotiated and they both voted to pass. 1,908,000 or 23% of people in Virginia will be eligible for the ACP.  

“We’ve made great progress in expanding broadband in Virginia, but too many Virginians still face challenges in accessing internet due to high costs. These steps to lower internet costs for families are critical to address that gap. We’re glad the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help more families stay connected with friends and loved ones, access telehealth services, and find job and educational opportunities online,” Sens. Warner and Kaine said.

Specifically, the ACP program provides a $30 per month discount, or $75 per month for households on tribal lands, for low-income families to use toward any internet service of their choosing. Today’s commitments from the 20 internet providers will mean tens of millions of ACP-eligible households will receive high-speed internet at no cost. Households can also receive a one-time $100 discount for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Eligible households must have an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or have a family member that meets at least one of these criteria outlined by the Federal Communications Commission. Virginians can go to GetInternet.gov to sign up for the ACP and find participating providers in their area.

As Governors and Senators, Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding broadband access in Virginia. During the pandemic, they secured significant funding for broadband through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the December 2020 government funding bill, which included COVID relief, and the  American Rescue Plan. They also introduced legislation to help students access the internet at home. The Fiscal Year 2022 government funding bill supported by Warner and Kaine included $550 million to expand access to broadband and $450 million for the ReConnect program to help rural communities access the internet.

 

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 WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement on the President’s budget proposal:

“I’m glad to see that President Biden’s proposed budget doubles down on the administration’s efforts to strengthen relationships with our allies and continue to support Ukraine. This budget would also help bolster our economy and ensure that hardworking Americans are able to get ahead through strong investments in education, child care, health care, broadband, and clean energy.

“I’m pleased that the President has continued to prioritize increased funding for community-based lenders who work with underserved communities, including Community Development Financial Institutions. The President’s Budget included $331 million for the CDFI Fund to continue promoting entrepreneurship and economic mobility among our most vulnerable communities. I was also glad to see funding to implement the Ashanti Alert Communications Network, and to help combat hate crimes, as authorized by the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.

“I’m also pleased that this budget builds on gains made through the bipartisan infrastructure law by requesting robust federal dollars for transportation, including $150 million for WMATA. For a stronger military, this budget requests funding for two Virginia-class submarines, five military construction projects in the Commonwealth, and a new VA outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads. It also requests the largest pay raise in 20 years for our servicemembers and civilian personnel. Additionally, I’m thrilled to see that this budget proposal includes key funding to continue tackling the deferred maintenance backlog at our national parks, as required by my Great American Outdoors Act.”

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine issued the following statement to mark the one-year anniversary of President Biden signing the American Rescue Plan (ARP)—COVID-19 relief legislation they helped pass into law:

“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we’re on our way toward a comeback after COVID-19. Virginians in every community experienced firsthand the benefits of this legislation, from direct payments for families and easier vaccine access, to support for schools and child care centers. We wouldn’t be where we are today without these investments, and we’re going to keep working to build on the progress we’ve made over the last year.”

ARP was first introduced in the Senate in March 2021, and was ultimately passed by 50 Democratic Senators and a tiebreaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris. The legislation funneled critical resources to communities throughout Virginia to help the economy recover after the pandemic. When ARP passed, the unemployment rate was 6 percent. Since then, it has dropped to 3.8 percent.

Investments the legislation made in Virginia priorities include:

Assistance for Virginia households:

  • The bill provided advanced expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments – tax cuts for parents – that benefited 1.6 million Virginia children, including more than 200,000 children living below the poverty line. The vast majority of families in Virginia received $3,000 per child ages 6-17 years old and $3,600 per child under 6 as a result of the increased 2021 Child Tax Credit.
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) payments for childless workers boosted earnings for more than 400,000 Virginia workers. The ARP nearly tripled the EITC to roughly $1,500 for workers without children.
  • The legislation also included additional funding for emergency rent and utility relief—which has now provided over $500 million to help keep Virginia families in their homes and keep utilities from being shut off during the pandemic.

Child care: Virginia received $488 million to help child care providers stay open and ensure families have access to affordable child care options so they can return to work. The expanded Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit has provided working Virginia parents with relief from the high cost of child care. Virginia families with incomes below $125,000 will get back up to half of what they spent on child care in 2021 while working or studying—saving up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children under age 13. Families earning up to $438,000 will get a partial credit. 

 

State, local, and tribal aid: The legislation provided $7.2 billion for state and local aid for Virginia. This funding helped Virginia continue to take public health measures and address the negative economic effects of COVID while also including more flexibility to help local Virginia governments experiencing revenue shortfalls prevent budget cuts. Some examples of how Virginia communities are putting this funding to use include:

  • $250 million for ventilation improvements in public school facilities to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission and support safe schools across Virginia.
  • $700 million for broadband deployment across Virginia, which will result in universal broadband coverage in the Commonwealth by 2024, four years earlier than predicted.
  • $8.6 million to help Frederick County participate in a regional project to develop fiber-to-the-home broadband service. This put broadband within reach for roughly 42,700 previously unserved locations in the region.
  • $3.7 million for Virginia Beach to provide 65 emergency rental vouchers to help households at high risk of housing instability afford rent. The program will expand on the 35 vouchers previously awarded to the city through federal programs.
  • $1 million for Prince William County to support the costs associated with the COVID-19 emergency response program, including community vaccination efforts.
  • $600,000 for Albemarle County to provide emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing to individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • $570,000 for Danville to provide utility assistance to 1,300 households that were financially impacted by the pandemic. This assistance aims to prevent residents from being displaced due to unpaid utility costs.
  • $560,000 for Alexandria to use for workforce development programs. These programs incorporated work-based learning, vocation-based English for Speakers of Other Languages (V-ESOL) training, digital literacy and equity for employment, and included access to supportive services. Participants will earn as they learn, and hosting companies will receive support and a chance to assess a good fit before making a hiring decision on a prospective employee.

Health care provider mental health: The bill included over $100 million, including over $5 million for Virginia, to boost mental health support for front line health workers. This funding was modeled after the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, legislation Kaine sponsored in honor of a physician from Charlottesville, Virginia, who died by suicide after working on the frontlines of the pandemic in New York. The Breen Act subsequently passed the Senate in February 2022.

Higher education: Virginia received over $948 million for 120 colleges and universities, including $297 million for community colleges due to the American Rescue Plan—much of which will provide financial relief to students. For a more in depth breakdown of Virginia higher education funding, including funding for community colleges, HBCUs, and MSIs, click here.

Expanding health care access: The legislation included a two-year authorization of provisions from Kaine’s Medicare-X Choice Act to help low- and middle-income Americans pay their health care premiums by providing a larger tax premium subsidy for Americans living below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and expanding tax credit eligibility to families above 400% of the FPL. Kaine continues to advocate for the passage of his legislation to make those changes permanent. In Virginia, over 307,000 people are now seeing reduced health care costs through the Health Insurance Marketplace, a 18% increase since the American Rescue Plan passed.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today voted for the passage of the $1.5 trillion government spending bill. This package funds the federal government through Fiscal Year 2022, delivers $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine, provides critical legal and funding authorities to the intelligence community, allows for full implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law, reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, and delivers countless wins for families in Virginia and across the country.

“Today the Senate voted to pass a full-year spending bill. While this deal took too long to come together, and concessions were made on both sides, I am proud that we have a bipartisan package that will deliver urgently needed humanitarian aid and military assistance to the people of Ukraine, avert a costly government shutdown, and deliver on key funding for projects that will boost our economy and invest in communities across the country and throughout the Commonwealth. This package will also deliver on key priorities I have been fighting for, including supporting military families, expanding access to rural broadband, addressing the IRS backlog that has delayed returns across the country, and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act for the first time since 2013,” said Sen. Warner. “Also in this spending package are the Intelligence Authorization Act and our bipartisan cyber incident reporting bill, key pieces of legislation that will enhance congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community – a critical move as we face some of the gravest global security threats of the past century. It will also improve transparency between private entities and the government in the event of broader cyber attacks. I am glad that we in Congress finally worked in a bipartisan way to get this done and start delivering for the American people.”

“This legislation is monumental for both our efforts here at home and on the international stage, by providing support for critical Virginia priorities and Ukraine’s security and humanitarian needs following Russia’s unjustified invasion,” said Sen. Kaine. “I’m also thrilled that I was able to include legislation I’ve been fighting for to ensure children of Gold Star families have access to the maximum Iraq and Afghanistan Service awards, as well as money specifically for projects addressing issues across Virginia, from mental health and teacher shortages to our infrastructure needs. America is at its best on days like this, when we face our challenges head on and provide needed leadership.”

The following list includes many of the provisions Warner and Kaine advocated for on behalf of Virginia that were included in the omnibus bill:

  • Support for Ukraine: To support the people of Ukraine as they continue fighting Putin’s brutal and unprovoked assault, this bill includes $13.6 billion in funding to:
    • Bolster the defensive capabilities of both the Ukrainian military and those of NATO Eastern flank countriesProvide urgently-needed humanitarian aid including migration and refugee assistance, and emergency food assistance, health care, and urgent support for vulnerable populations and communities
    • Expand diplomatic programs to maintain American Citizen Services, support operations that were forced to vacate Ukraine, and increase State Department capabilities to target Russian oligarch assets
    • Aid DOJ Ukraine Task Force efforts to address cybercrime and ransomware threats, trace and seize proceeds of crime, prosecute sanctions violators, and address export control, sanctions and cyber cases.   

 

  • Cyber Defenses: Includes $2.6 billion in funding for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to bolster the nation’s cyber-defenses. It also includes Warner-sponsored legislation to require companies responsible for U.S. critical infrastructure to report cybersecurity incidents to the government.

  • Military Pay Increase: Supports a pay increase of 2.7 percent for servicemembers and Department of Defense civilian personnel, and funds a $15 minimum wage for DoD personnel, in support of President Biden’s Executive Order.

 

  • Military Families: Provides $1.4 billion in funding to improve and maintain housing, and address challenges related to privatized military housing impacting servicemembers and their families. It also provides $278.1 million in housing assistance and $119.6 million for food assistance efforts for servicemembers and their families. For years, Sens. Warner and Kaine have fought to improve housing conditions. Sen. Warner has also been focused on improving food access for servicemembers and their families.

 

  • Medical Care for Veterans: Provides $97.5 billion for medical care at the VA – an 8.7 percent increase over last year – to address the health care needs of our nation’s veterans, both ongoing and deferred care due to the pandemic. This includes $840 million in gender-specific healthcare for women. 

 

  • Benefits Boost: Provides $3.5 billion to provide compensation benefits to veterans and their survivors, which will aid the VA in decreasing the claims backlog, and supporting new toxic exposure claims.

 

  • Veterans’ Mental Health: Provides $13.2 billion in funding, which includes $598 million for suicide prevention outreach.

 

  • Veterans’ Rural Health: Provides $2.4 billion for telehealth services to reach veterans, and $327 million to support improved access to care in rural areas.

 

  • Veterans’ Homelessness: Provides $2.2 billion for efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans and their families.

 

  • IT Modernization: Includes $5.5 billion in funding for IT modernization efforts at the VA.

 

  • Shipbuilding: Provides more than $26 billion in funding for critical Navy shipbuilding priorities, many of which have a direct connection to Virginia and the Hampton Roads region, to include: Ford-class Aircraft Carrier Construction ($2.34 billion), Aircraft Carrier Overhaul ($2.48 billion), and Virginia- ($6.33 billion) and Columbia-class ($4.77 billion) Submarine construction.

 

  • Virginia military construction: Provides more than $361 million in funding for 11 military construction projects across the Commonwealth, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Quantico, Ft. Belvoir, Sandston, Troutville, and at the Pentagon. 

 

  • School Construction: Includes more than $500 million in funding for public schools on military installations nationwide, to fund construction, expansion, renovation, and repairs.

 

  • Climate Resilience: Provides $100 million for the Department of Defense to address resilience issues at installations stemming from climate change.

 

  • Intelligence Authorization Act: Includes the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community – a priority for Sen. Warner as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

 

  • Havana Syndrome: Provides additional funding to support personnel who have been impacted by anomalous health incidents. Chairman Warner and Sen. Kaine have been outspoken on the need to support afflicted personnel. 

 

  • IRS Backlog: Provides $12.6 billion for IRS funding. This funding will help continue to eliminate the 2020 tax return backlog, more efficiently process 2021 tax returns, and improve customer service. Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently supported sufficient funding to allow the IRS to meet the needs of taxpayers. 

 

  • Small Businesses: Provides $1 billion to the Small Business Administration to support investments in programs to help underserved entrepreneurs access capital and contracting opportunities. 

 

  • Funding for Community Development Financial Institutions: Provides $295 million for the CDFI Fund, including $173 million for financial and technical assistance grants and $35 million for the Bank Enterprise Award Program. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Warner has successfully pushed for increased funding for CDFIs to support and advance access to capital for underserved communities in Virginia.

 

  • Fighting Violence Against Women: Reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, marking the first time in nearly a decade that VAWA has been reauthorized. The bill also provides $575 million, the highest level ever, in funding provided for multiple competitive and formula grant programs that support training for police officers and prosecutors, state coalitions to respond to domestic violence and sexual assault, rape prevention programs, lethality assessment and homicide reduction initiatives, domestic violence hotlines, and women’s shelters and transitional housing support services.

 

  • Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act: Includes $5 million to assist state and local governments with entering data into the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which will improve how hate crimes are collected by the FBI, establish hate crime reporting hotlines, and develop and adopt policies on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes. Sens. Warner and Kaine first introduced the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act legislation in 2019. It is partially named after Heather Heyer, a Virginia constituent who was killed in the 2017 white supremacy protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

 

  • Ashanti Alert: Includes $1 million to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. In 2018, Sen. Warner secured unanimous Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, legislation that will create a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18-64.  The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018. 

 

  • Pell Grant: The omnibus provides a $400 boost to the maximum Pell Grant in the 2022-23 school year to raise the maximum award to $6,895. This is the largest increase to the Pell Grant since the 2009-2010 school year. Over 137,500 Virginia students receive the Pell Grant each year.  The omnibus also included the technical fix based on Sen. Kaine’s Protecting Our Gold Star Families’ Education Act to exclude the Iraq And Afghanistan Service Grant from sequestration and ensure that recipients of this grant have access to the maximum Pell Grant award. 

 

  • Rural Broadband: Provides more than $550 million for expansion of broadband service, including an additional $450 million for the ReConnect program to expand rural broadband access. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime champions for increased access to broadband. As part of the American Rescue Plan, they secured $10 billion to help states, territories and tribal governments expand access to broadband.

 

  • Rural Health Care: Provides more than $366 million for HHS rural health care programs, an increase of $36,593,000.

 

  • Miners: Provides more than $11.8 million for clinics that provide critical health care for coal workers with job-related lung diseases. The bill also directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prioritize maintenance of its Black Lung health screening mobile unit and urges the CDC to consider purchasing an additional unit, noting that early screening and detection of black lung can improve health outcomes and reduce mortality.

 

  • Infrastructure Investments: The omnibus will finally fully fund the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, specifically programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund. Without a full-year funding bill, Virginia could have lost out on $364 million in highway funding and $53 million in transit funding just this fiscal year. This also enables the new Carbon Reduction Program and PROTECT grants to get started.

 

  • Shipyard Infrastructure: Includes $564 million to make significant and much-needed investments in our nation’s public shipyards, in support of the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP).

 

  • Norfolk Harbor and Channels Deepening Project: Provides an additional $83.7 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and expand capacity by deepening and widening the harbor’s shipping channels. This will enable safer access for larger commercial and naval vessels and provide significant new economic opportunities to the region. This funding is in addition to the more than $69.3 million the Senators announced in January as a result of the IIJA.

 

  • Colonial National Historical Park: Provides $128.7 million to help rehabilitate sections of the Colonial Parkway. This funding was included in the President’s FY22 budget request and was made available by the Great American Outdoors Act negotiated by Sen. Warner.

 

  • Appalachian Regional Commission: Includes $195 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an increase of $15 million from FY21. This is in addition to the $1 billion provided to ARC through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years.

 

  • Blue Ridge Parkway: Includes $32.8 million to help rehabilitate sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This funding was included in the President’s FY22 budget request and was made available by the Great American Outdoors Act negotiated by Sen. Warner.

 

  • Chesapeake Bay Program: Includes $88 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program. This funding is in addition to the $238 million provided to the Chesapeake Bay Program over five years through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

 

  • Telehealth: Extends core telehealth flexibilities for 151 days past the expiration date of the Public Health Emergency (PHE).

 

  • Synthetic Nicotine: Provides a legislative fix to clarify the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate products containing synthetic nicotine as tobacco products. Nicotine that can be chemically synthesized in a laboratory—rather than derived from tobacco—currently falls outside of FDA’s statutory definition of a tobacco product, which contributed to the explosion of youth use of e-cigarettes. Sen. Kaine worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to successfully secure this language, aimed at reducing the number of children and teens addicted to harmful e-cigarettes.

 

  • Maternal Vaccination: Includes provisions calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider the importance of vaccination awareness in carrying out public awareness campaigns. Specifically, the Secretary is asked to take into consideration the importance of increasing awareness and knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to prevent disease in pregnant and postpartum women and infants, and the need to improve vaccination rates in such communities. This provision stems from Sen. Kaine’s bill, S.345, the Maternal Vaccinations Act.

 

  • HBCU funding: Virginia’s five HBCUs, Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg will receive additional support in Fiscal Year 2022 as HBCU’s nationwide will see a $35 million (8.0%) increase in funding.

 

  • Head Start: Head Start received an increase of $289 million (2.7%) over last year’s funding level which will mean more than a $4 million increase in Virginia, a critical boost to Virginia’s 393 Head Start centers across the Commonwealth that provide early childhood education and care to nearly 15,000 young Virginians.

 

  • CCDBG: The Child Care and Development Block Grant will receive over $250 million more (4.3% increase) than last year. Support for CCDBG is critical in helping low-income families access affordable child care. This funding increase comes in addition to $580 million in supplemental CCDBG funding for Virginia through the COVID-19 relief bills, and the nearly $488 million provided by the American Rescue Plan to child care providers to enable them to stay open.

 

  • Southeast Crescent Regional Commission: The bill provides $5 million, an increase of $4 million above the fiscal year 2021 level and $2.5 million above the President’s request. This funding targets the economic development needs of distressed portions of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. In July, Kaine and Representative McEachin were joined by Warner in sending a delegation letter to President Biden advocating for this historic funding and the appointment of a federal co-chair.

As part of FY2022 appropriations, the Senate also revived a process that allows members of Congress to make Congressionally Directed Spending requests, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects. Through strong advocacy, Sens. Warner and Kaine were able to secure dedicated funding for Virginia communities totaling more than $85 million dollars. 

More information regarding specific projects in Virginia that will receive Congressionally Directed Spending is available below:

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) issued the following statement applauding today’s House passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 spending package, which will fund the federal government, deliver crucial aid to Ukraine, and finally release hundreds of millions of dollars in funding available through the bipartisan infrastructure law:

“We are pleased to see the House of Representatives vote to pass a full-year spending package, which will prevent a costly shutdown and provide key federal funding for some of Virginia’s top priorities. This bill will also deliver crucial humanitarian aid and military assistance to the people of Ukraine as they continue to fight against Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion. Once signed by the President, this bill will also allow historic infrastructure investments to proceed full steam ahead by finally funding new programs authorized under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law last year. We stand ready to work with our Senate colleagues to pass this bill quickly and send it to the President’s desk.” 

As part of FY2022 appropriations, the Senate revived a process that allows members of Congress to make Congressionally Directed Spending requests, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects. Through strong advocacy, Sens. Warner and Kaine were able to secure dedicated funding for Virginia communities totaling more than $85 million dollars. 

More information regarding specific projects in Virginia that will receive Congressionally Directed Spending is available below:

This bill also includes major funding for a number of Warner and Kaine priorities:  

  • Shipbuilding: The bill provides more than $26 billion in funding for critical Navy shipbuilding priorities, many of which have a direct connection to Virginia and the Hampton Roads region, to include: Ford-class Aircraft Carrier Construction ($2.34 billion), Aircraft Carrier Overhaul ($2.48 billion), and Virginia- ($6.33 billion) and Columbia-class ($4.77 billion) Submarine construction.
  • Virginia military construction: Provides more than $361 million in funding for 11 military construction projects across the Commonwealth, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Quantico, Ft. Belvoir, Sandston, Troutville, and at the Pentagon.
  • IRS backlog: Provides $12.6 billion for IRS funding. This funding will help continue to eliminate the 2020 tax return backlog, more efficiently process 2021 tax returns, and improve customer service. Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently supported sufficient funding to allow the IRS to meet the needs of taxpayers. 
  • Fighting Violence Against Women: Reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, marking the first time in nearly a decade that VAWA has been reauthorized. The bill also provides $575 million, the highest level ever, in funding provided for multiple competitive and formula grant programs that support training for police officers and prosecutors, state coalitions to respond to domestic violence and sexual assault, rape prevention programs, lethality assessment and homicide reduction initiatives, domestic violence hotlines, and women’s shelters and transitional housing support services.
  • Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act: Includes $5 million to assist state and local governments with entering data into the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which will improve how hate crimes are collected by the FBI, establish hate crime reporting hotlines, and develop and adopt policies on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes. Sens. Warner and Kaine first introduced the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act legislation in 2019. It is partially named after Heather Heyer, a Virginia constituent who was killed in the 2017 white supremacy protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. 
  • Ashanti Alert: Includes $1 million to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. In 2018, Sen. Warner secured unanimous Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, legislation that will create a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18-64.  The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018. 
  • Funding for Community Development Financial Institutions: Provides $295 million for the CDFI Fund, including $173 million for financial and technical assistance grants and $35 million for the Bank Enterprise Award Program. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Warner has successfully pushed for increased funding for CDFIs to support and advance access to capital for underserved communities in Virginia.
  • Military Families: Provides $1.4 billion in funding to improve and maintain housing, and to address challenges related to privatized military housing impacting servicemembers and their families. It also provides $278.1 million in housing assistance and $119.6 million for food assistance efforts for servicemembers and their families. For years, Sens. Warner and Kaine have fought to improve housing conditions. Sen. Warner has also been focused on improving food access for servicemembers and their families.
  • Pell Grant: The omnibus provides a $400 boost to the maximum Pell Grant in the 2022-23 school year to raise the maximum award to $6,895. This is the largest increase to the Pell Grant since the 2009-2010 school year. The omnibus also included the technical fix based on Sen. Kaine’s Protecting Our Gold Star Families’ Education Act to exclude the Iraq And Afghanistan Service Grant from sequestration and ensure that recipients of this grant have access to the maximum Pell Grant award. Over 137,500 Virginia students receive the Pell Grant each year.
  • Intelligence Authorization Act: Includes the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community – a priority for Sen. Warner as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  • Cyber Incident Reporting: Includes Warner-sponsored legislation to require companies responsible for U.S. critical infrastructure to report cybersecurity incidents to the government.
  • Havana Syndrome: Provides additional funding to support personnel who have been impacted by anomalous health incidents. Chairman Warner and Sen. Kaine have been outspoken on the need to support afflicted personnel. 
  • Rural Broadband: Provides more than $550 million for expansion of broadband service, including an additional $450 million for the ReConnect program to expand rural broadband access. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime champions for increased access to broadband. As part of the American Rescue Plan, they secured $10 billion to help states, territories and tribal governments expand access to broadband.
  • Miners: Provides more than $11.8 million for clinics that provide critical health care for coal workers with job-related lung diseases. The bill also directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prioritize maintenance of its Black Lung health screening mobile unit and urges the CDC to consider purchasing an additional unit, noting that early screening and detection of black lung can improve health outcomes and reduce mortality.
  • Colonial National Historical Park: Provides $128.7 million to help rehabilitate sections of the Colonial Parkway. This funding was included in the President’s FY22 budget request and was made available by the Great American Outdoors Act negotiated by Sen. Warner.
  • Appalachian Regional Commission: Includes $195 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an increase of $15 million from FY21. This is in addition to the $1 billion provided to ARC through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years.
  • Synthetic Nicotine: Provides a legislative fix to clarify the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate products containing synthetic nicotine as tobacco products. Nicotine that can be chemically synthesized in a laboratory—rather than derived from tobacco—currently falls outside of FDA’s statutory definition of a tobacco product, which contributed to the explosion of youth use of e-cigarettes. Sen. Kaine worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to successfully secure this language, aimed at reducing the number of children and teens addicted to harmful e-cigarettes.
  • Maternal Vaccination: Includes provisions calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider the importance of vaccination awareness in carrying out public awareness campaigns. Specifically, the Secretary is asked to take into consideration the importance of increasing awareness and knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to prevent disease in pregnant and postpartum women and infants, and the need to improve vaccination rates in such communities. This provision stems from Sen. Kaine’s bill, S.345, the Maternal Vaccinations Act.
  • Norfolk Harbor and Channels Deepening Project: Provides an additional $83.7 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and expand capacity by deepening and widening the harbor’s shipping channels. This will enable safer access for larger commercial and naval vessels and provide significant new economic opportunities to the region. This funding is in addition to the more than $69.3 million the Senators announced in January as a result of the IIJA.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: Includes $32.8 million to help rehabilitate sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This funding was included in the President’s FY22 budget request and was made available by the Great American Outdoors Act negotiated by Sen. Warner.
  • Chesapeake Bay Program: Includes $88 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program. This funding is in addition to the $238 million provided to the Chesapeake Bay Program over five years through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

This legislation now heads to the Senate, which will need to pass it before sending it off to the President’s desk for approval.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after attending the White House bill signing ceremony for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

“It’s with great pride that we applaud President Biden’s signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – a historic law that will bring critically-overdue funding into our communities and create a new generation of good-paying American jobs. The investments made possible by this law will bring Virginia’s infrastructure into the twenty-first century by fixing crumbling roadways, bolstering public transit systems, bridging the broadband gap, and strengthening our coastal resiliency. As former governors of Virginia, we know that getting a bill signed into law is only the beginning, and we’ll be working with folks on the ground to ensure this bill is implemented quickly and efficiently.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a comprehensive infrastructure package that delivers wins to communities across the Commonwealth and the nation to maintain our roads, bridges, rail systems, and other critical infrastructure needs, including:

Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects: 

  • $110 billion to repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on equity, safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians, and first of its kind attention to climate change mitigation and resilience. This includes:
    • $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. 
    • $7 billion for Virginia highways and $537 million for Virginia bridge replacement and repairs over five years.
    • In Virginia, there are 577 bridges and over 2,124 miles of highway in poor condition.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Public Transit:

  • Renews the federal funding commitment for WMATA through fiscal year 2030 at current annual levels. The federal government’s commitment to WMATA funding is based on legislation previously introduced by Senators Warner and Kaine. 
  • An estimated $1.2 billion over five years to improve public transportation in Virginia.
  • Over $39 billion over five years for public transit systems across the nation. 

Rail: 

  • $66 billion for passenger and freight rail to upgrade speed, accessibility, efficiency, and resilience, including $22 billion in grants to Amtrak, $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion for partnership grants for intercity rail service including high-speed rail, $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants, and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements.
  • These dollars will help Virginia fund current projects announced with CSX, Norfolk Southern, Amtrak, and VRE — such as the $1.9 billion Long Bridge project that both Senators Warner and Kaine supported by successfully passing their Long Bridge Act of 2020 as part of the FY21 Omnibus. The legislation allowed for the construction of a new Long Bridge across the Potomac River to double the capacity of rail crossing between Virginia and DC, but still required federal funding to move forward.          
    • This funding will improve reliability and travel options not just in Virginia, but along the East Coast.

Airports, Ports, and Waterways:

  • $25 billion to improve our nation’s airports including runways, gates, terminals, and concessions.
  • $16.6 billion for port infrastructure to fund waterway and coastal infrastructure, inland waterway improvements, and land ports of entry.

Army Corps of Engineers:  

  • $9.55 billion for Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure priorities like harbor dredging, coastal resiliency, and repairing damages to Corps Projects caused by natural disasters. 

Broadband: 

  • $65 billion for broadband deployment to increase access and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet.
  • Virginia will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to expand broadband across the Commonwealth, including providing access to the at least 473,000 Virginians who currently lack it. 
  • 1,908,000 or 23% of people in Virginia will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.

Resilience: 

  • $47 billion for climate resilience measures that will help our communities weather increasingly severe storms, droughts, floods, fires, heat waves, and sea level rise, including funding for FEMA flood mitigation grants, making infrastructure investments to increase coastal resilience, and improving mapping and data so that households and businesses can better protect themselves from future flood events.
  • $238 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program for ecosystem resiliency and restoration.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging: 

  • $7.5 billion to build electric vehicle charging stations across the country along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging where people live, work, and shop. 
  • $2.5 billion for electric, zero-emission school buses.
  • An estimated $106 million for Virginia over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the Commonwealth. Virginia will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.

Support for Minority Businesses:

  • The legislation includes a provision based on Senator Kaine and Senator Wicker’s Reaching America’s Rural Minority Businesses Act, introduced in May 2021. 
  • The provision will enable the Minority Business Development Agency to partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to establish business centers to support minority-owned small businesses in rural areas to provide education, training, and technical assistance to help them grow and thrive.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $1,558,976 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand access to high-speed internet, health care, and educational services in rural Virginia. 

“Teleservices are essential in today’s world, especially in rural areas where folks have to travel long distances to access resources. These investments will help close the digital divide across our Commonwealth and extend valuable educational and health opportunities to many Virginians,” the Senators said.

The funding will be distributed as follows:

  • Bristol Virginia Public Schools will receive $993,840 in federal funds to purchase interactive video conferencing equipment to deliver distance learning and telehealth services to 21 schools in eight rural Virginia communities.
  • University of Virginia will receive $267,036 in federal funds to purchase telemedicine equipment to serve a Tribal Nation, a Critical Access Hospital, a new Opioid Use Disorder and Substance Use Disorder clinic, and two federally qualified health centers serving the Appalachian region of Virginia. This equipment will help address urgent health needs, including those related to COVID-19, severe respiratory disease, the opioid crisis, and Type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that over 3,000 patients will receive treatment from this project.  
  • Mountain States Health Alliance will receive $298,100 in federal funds to expand virtual access to behavioral health, urgent care, and specialty care in Rural Appalachia. An estimated 33,000 patients will benefit from the telemedical care available facilitated by this project.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded $49,943,399.02 in federal funding to date from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The funding is committed for schools and libraries across the Commonwealth to help expand access to internet connectivity for learning, and close the Homework Gap for students who currently lack internet access. Earlier this year, Congress authorized the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The $49 million in funding has been issued in three waves since late September – with the latest wave being issued this week. 

“We’re proud to see these federal dollars go toward keeping Virginia’s communities connected. This investment will help close the digital divide, while improving access to job opportunities and educational resources for Virginians as we continue to recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” said the Senators.

A detailed breakdown of the funding can be found here.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long been strong supporters of expanding broadband access in Virginia. In August, they voted to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a comprehensive infrastructure package that delivers wins to communities across the Commonwealth, including at least $100 million to expand broadband across the Commonwealth. Under the bill, 1,908,000 or 23% of people in Virginia will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access. Last year, Warner and Kaine introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act, legislation to help ensure adequate home internet connectivity for K-12 students during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded an announcement by the U.S. Treasury Department that Virginia is eligible to receive $219,812,354 from the American Rescue Plan to support broadband expansion in the Commonwealth. The funding is the result of a $10 billion investment Sen. Warner secured in the American Rescue Plan that will help states, territories and tribal governments carry out critical capital projects to enable telework, online education, and tele-health in connection with COVID-19. State governments will also be permitted to use funds to increase broadband efficiency and reduce the costs of providing broadband services.

“Broadband is to the 21st century what electrification was to the 20th. The COVID-19 crisis exposed that far too many Americans are being left behind without access to high-speed internet for work, school or telehealth. That’s why I fought to secure a record $10 billion in federal funding to expand broadband access and affordability as part of the American Rescue Plan,” said Sen. Warner. “Today the Treasury Department announced that Virginia will be eligible to receive at least $220 million of this funding in order to expand broadband to households across the Commonwealth.” 

More information from the Treasury announcement today is available here

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $14,123,917 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide broadband service to people in central Virginia through the ReConnect Program. The funding will be awarded to Central Virginia Services Inc. in Arrington, VA to install a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network that will connect 13,886 people, 4,139 households, 193 businesses, and 65 farms spread over 65 square miles in the surrounding area to high-speed broadband internet. The funding will also benefit 37 educational facilities, three health care facilities, and 14 essential community facilities.

“Broadband isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity, but many Virginians still don’t have reliable access to internet,” said the Senators. “That’s why we’re glad to see these federal dollars go toward connecting people across Virginia, which will improve access to job opportunities and educational resources and help small businesses grow.”

Senators Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of expanding broadband access in Virginia. Earlier this week, they voted to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a comprehensive infrastructure package that delivers wins to communities across the Commonwealth, including at least $100 million to expand broadband across the Commonwealth. Under the bill, 1,908,000 or 23% of people in Virginia will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access and lower their bills. The legislation also provides over $44 billion in funding for broadband expansion across the nation, including an additional $2 billion to the ReConnect program and $42.45 billion in state grants. The legislation now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. Last year, Warner and Kaine introduced legislation to help ensure adequate home internet connectivity for K-12 students during the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2018, both Warner and Kaine worked to secure funding to establish the ReConnect Program and other federal programs that are critical to improving broadband access across the Commonwealth. 

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ABINGDON— U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner and Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia plans to invest $700 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expedite the deployment of last-mile broadband infrastructure to unserved areas and close the digital divide within the next three years. This proposal will accelerate the Governor’s 10-year goal for achieving universal internet access from 2028 to 2024, with the majority of connections obligated within the next 18 months. In May, Governor Northam and General Assembly leaders released a joint statement outlining shared priorities for allocating the $4.3 billion in federal funds available to the Commonwealth from the American Rescue Plan.

The Governor made the announcement at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon and was joined by U.S. Senator Mark Warner, State Senator Janet Howell and Delegate Luke Torian, who chair the General Assembly’s money committees, and State Senator Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Roslyn Tyler, who lead Virginia’s Broadband Advisory Council. Governor Northam also reported that the Commonwealth has successfully bridged half of the digital divide, with an estimated 233,500 unserved locations remaining. 

“With telehealth and telework becoming permanent staples across the nation, access to broadband is more critical than ever,” said U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner. “Earlier this year, I was proud to help deliver more than $3.7 billion dollars in direct fiscal relief for the Commonwealth through the American Rescue Plan, including hundreds of millions of dollars for broadband. I’m hopeful that my friends in the General Assembly will use $700 million of that funding to expand access to broadband, thereby creating economic opportunity and ensuring that every Virginian can meaningfully participate in our 21st century economy.”

“It’s time to close the digital divide in our Commonwealth and treat internet service like the 21st century necessity that it is—not just a luxury for some, but an essential utility for all,” said Governor Northam. “The pandemic has reinforced how important high-quality broadband is for the health, education, and economic opportunity, and we cannot afford to leave any community behind. With this historic $700 million investment, universal broadband is now within our reach. I am grateful to Senator Warner for fighting to include this funding in the American Rescue Plan, which will be key to the success of local connectivity efforts and to ensuring every Virginian has affordable, reliable, and equitable access to high-speed internet.”

Since 2018, the Commonwealth has awarded approximately $124 million in broadband grants and connected over 140,000 homes, businesses, and community anchors. Governor Northam and the General Assembly made historic investments—$50 million in 2020 and an additional $50 million in 2021—in the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), a public-private partnership that provides targeted financial assistance to extend broadband service to areas currently unserved by a provider. With this $700 million allocation of federal dollars and continued state investment, the Commonwealth has the necessary resources to meet the tremendous demand from localities and broadband providers and close the digital divide in Virginia.

“Localities and broadband providers have stepped up over the past three years and helped the Commonwealth connect thousands of unserved Virginians,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “With today’s announcement, large regional projects that achieve universal service can be funded across the Commonwealth without delay.” 

Because Governor Northam prioritized broadband expansion well before the pandemic, Virginia is on track to be one of the first states in the country to achieve universal broadband service. In 2019, the Governor worked with the General Assembly to establish a pilot program that promotes collaboration between localities, electric utilities, and internet service providers to connect unserved areas to high-speed internet. In just two years of the pilot program, Virginia’s utility companies have helped connect more than 13,000 homes and businesses across the Commonwealth. Earlier this year, Governor Northam signed bipartisan legislation that makes the pilot program permanent.

“The Commonwealth continues to prioritize funding for universal broadband access and I’m encouraged to see these investments coming ahead of schedule,” said Senator Janet Howell, Chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. “This appropriation of federal dollars will go a long way towards supporting the investments that the Commonwealth has already made to bridge the digital divide.” 

“Funding for broadband is more critical now than ever,” said Delegate Luke Torian, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “We must continue to ensure that all citizens of the Commonwealth have access to quality internet access.”

“The Broadband Advisory Council has long prioritized funding to reduce the cost of broadband access and connect unserved Virginians,” said Senator Jennifer Boysko, Chair of the Broadband Advisory Council. “With this investment of American Rescue Plan dollars, we will greatly accelerate our progress.” 

“I have lived in a rural area my entire life and I know that the Commonwealth benefits as a whole when we lift up all communities,” said Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Vice Chair of the Broadband Advisory Council. “This investment will have a tremendous impact on countless Virginians and allow our communities to prosper and grow.”

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