Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young and U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division. 
 
“We are pleased to recommend U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young and U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division, following the decision by Judge Rebecca Beach Smith to take senior status effective August 1, 2019. Both Judge Young and Judge Miller would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation,” the Senators said.
 
Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth as well as feedback from numerous bar associations in Virginia. The White House will now nominate one individual for the position to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.
 
Full text of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division letter is available here and below. 
 
 
March 19, 2020
 
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
We are pleased to recommend U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young and U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division, following the decision by Judge Rebecca Beach Smith to take senior status effective August 1, 2019. Both Judge Young and Judge Miller would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation.
 
Judge Young has served as a Magistrate Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, since 2014. In this capacity, he has drafted over 300 Report and Recommendations and presided over close to 300 settlement conferences. From 2002 to 2014, he worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, serving as Deputy Criminal Supervisor from 2012 to 2014. In that position, he supervised all drug and violent crime prosecutions, reviewed all indictments, and approved all charging decisions and plea agreements, all while litigating his own cases. Recommendations from various Bar Associations and their individual members within the Commonwealth reflect that practitioners would respect his rulings and that litigants would have reassurance of receiving a fair trial.
 
Likewise, we recommend Judge Miller, who has served with distinction as U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia since 2010. During this time, he has presided over criminal and civil matters, and has conducted numerous bench trials. Judge Miller has resolved most civil cases through dispositive motions practice and successful settlement conferences. He has written numerous reports and recommendations to the Article III judges on the Eastern District bench, and has authored over 400 opinions. Judge Miller exhibits the professionalism, integrity, and fairness sought in a sitting Article III judge, and he has been deeply devoted to his community and the Peninsula area where he resides.                    
 
Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.
 
Sincerely,

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released a statement after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its decision to release an additional 35,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas – a move that will benefit Virginia’s seafood processing industry, a community largely made up of rural, family-owned operations. This decision follows strong advocacy by Sen. Warner, who has repeatedly urged DHS to release additional visas in order to provide much-needed support to the seafood industry in the Commonwealth.

“I’m relieved to know that with harvest season approaching, Virginia’s family-owned seafood processors will be able to access these additional visas in order to hire more seasonal workers and keep their operations up and running,” said Sen. Warner. “I’ve heard from many seafood businesses how difficult it can be to fulfill labor needs in an industry with such tough and temporary jobs like processing crabs and shucking oysters. I know Virginia businesses still have questions about how the visas will be allocated and how soon they can get workers on the job. I will continue to stay in close contact with both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor and push for these answers. Going forward, we have to work to make sure that our seafood processors no longer have to worry about whether they will be forced to lose supply agreements due to a lack of labor. That’s why I’m going to continue fighting for legislation I introduced to strengthen the H-2B visa program and help seasonal employers better prepare for fluctuations in demand during peak seasons.”

H-2B visas allow employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrant workers to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States if U.S. workers are not available, after completing rigorous application and certification process. These visas are critical to the survival of Virginia’s seafood industry – particularly the seafood processing community around the Chesapeake Bay.

According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s last complete study of this kind, the commercial seafood industry in Virginia generates $407.9 million in economic output, which includes all economic activity from harvesters to restaurants. Of that $407.9 million, 62 percent comes from seafood processing/wholesaling firms – the primary companies who rely on the H-2B worker program. Additionally, according to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, in 2017, Virginia oysters alone had a dockside value of more than $48.9 million dollars, followed by Quahog Clams with more than $47.6 million and Blue Crabs with more than $38 million in dockside value.

Sen. Warner has long advocated for the release of these additional visas. Most recently, he led six of his Senate colleagues in urging DHS to release additional H-2B visas needed to support local seafood businesses. In February, in a bipartisan call, he pressed DHS Secretary Wolf to release the additional Congressionally-authorized H-2B visas, to publicly announce this intent, and to do so as quickly as possible. Additionally, earlier this year, he joined a bipartisan, bicameral letter calling on the Administration to increase the statutory cap of H-2B visas for FY20. He also recently met with DOL Secretary Eugene Scalia to discuss the impact of the H-2B program on Virginia and urge the Secretary to work alongside DHS to release the additional visas in a timely fashion.

Sen. Warner has previously introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the H-2B visa program, and has requested an audit to determine the number of unused visas that could be made available to eligible petitioners.

###

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was joined by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) in announcing a path forward for the Restore Our Parks Act – legislation championed by Sen. Warner to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at national parks across the country. Yesterday, the President announced that he would back the bipartisan legislation, as well as full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For nearly three years, Sen. Warner has led the effort to provide relief to national parks in Virginia, where the increasing maintenance backlog currently sits at more than $1.1 billion dollars and surpasses that of every state except for California and the District of Columbia.

“We’ve been working on the parks legislation for the last four-plus years, and as Rob mentioned, it has broad bipartisan support,” said Sen. Warner. “We’ve got a nearly $12 billion backlog. In my state, Virginia, it is more than $1 billion dollars of that backlog. And we’re not only talking about trails and bridges. Anybody who lives in the national capital region – you commute on G.W. Parkway, you can see the deteriorated state of that road. That is one of those assets that we have deferred maintenance on.”

He continued, “Deferred maintenance is simply a bill put off. We’re going to provide in this legislation $6.5 billion dollars – so about 50 percent of those needs we’ve met. Once this bill gets implemented and put into law, it will put 100,000 Americans to work on this restoration – 10,000 in Virginia.”

The Restore Our Parks Act, which has been praised by key stakeholders, would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, not to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.

In November, the Restore Our Parks Act was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and sent to the Senate floor, where it awaits approval.

A full list of deferred maintenance needs at Virginia’s national parks can be found here.

A link to the full press conference is available here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) requested an update from the National Park Service (NPS) on the Northern Neck National Heritage Area Feasibility Study. Congress first directed NPS to conduct the study more than a decade ago as the first step in the process of designating the Northern Neck a National Heritage Area (NHA), which would provide federal recognition and resources to communities to protect, commemorate and promote the Northern Neck's unique place in American history. The study began a decade ago, and members pushed NPS to give an update on the study and to explain the apparent delays in its release.

“We understand the process of conducting a National Heritage Area feasibility study is rigorous and takes years to complete. However, we are concerned by the delayed timeline for the study and the lack of information communicated about its status," wrote the members in a letter to National Park Service Acting Director David Vela. “Designation as a National Heritage Area would allow the communities of the Northern Neck to better promote and protect this historical region. These communities are eager to begin collaborating with the Park Service and move to the next step in earning recognition for this important region.”

Congress has designated over 55 NHAs to recognize places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a nationally important landscape. This community-led conservation and development program promotes economic development, education and stewardship, and community engagement. The NHA designation process typically requires a two-step process. For the first step, the NPS conducts an initial study of the suitability and feasibility of designating the area an NHA. Legislation is enacted to designate the area as an NHA once a study is completed. Congress directed NPS to conduct the Northern Neck study as part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (P.L.111-11).

In their letter, the members asked for more information regarding the current status of the Northern Neck Feasibility Study, the next steps that remain in the process of releasing the study, and the estimated completion date. The members also asked for an explanation of the apparent delay given that the NPS website stated the study would be completed “sometime in 2019” and whether NPS requires additional resources to complete the study.

The members also underscored the Northern Neck’s unique and rich geography and history as the birthplace of James Madison, James Monroe, and the U.S.’ first president, George Washington. They also noted that the Northern Neck has maintained many of the scenic features of its past and character, making it a prime candidate for NHA designation.

 The text of the letter is available below.

 

Dear Acting Director Vela:

We write today on the status of the Northern Neck National Heritage Area Feasibility Study. Congress directed the National Park Service to study the feasibility and suitability of designating Virginia’s Northern Neck as a National Heritage Area in Section 8102 of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (P.L.111-11).

As you know, National Heritage Areas play an important role in the recognition and preservation of natural, cultural, and historic resources that are part of the fabric of American history. Virginia’s Northern Neck has a unique and rich geography and history. Beginning in the upland forests of Westmoreland County, the Northern Neck is surrounded by the Potomac River, the Rappahannock River, and the Chesapeake Bay. Originally home to members of eight Algonquian tribes, it was scouted by English explorer Capitan John Smith more than 400 years ago and settled by the English in the mid-17th century. The Northern Neck is the birthplace of James Madison, James Monroe, and our first President, George Washington, who called the Northern Neck “the garden of Virginia.”

The Northern Neck has maintained many of the scenic features of its past and its character, in part because of the farmers and watermen who continue the legacy of earning their livelihoods from the rich soil and surrounding waters. Designation as a National Heritage Area would allow the communities of the Northern Neck to better promote and protect this historical region. These communities are eager to begin collaborating with the Park Service and move to the next step in earning recognition for this important region. 

We understand the process of conducting a National Heritage Area feasibility study is rigorous and takes years to complete. However, we are concerned by the delayed timeline for the study and the lack of information communicated about its status. The Park Service’s Northeast Regional Office initiated this study in 2010, and we understand it was scheduled for completion in 2019. In order to provide our stakeholders with more information about the status of the feasibility study, we request answers to the following questions:

1.      What phase of completion is the Northern Neck Feasibility Study currently in? What are the next steps in the review process for this study?

2.      Is there an estimated completion date for the Northern Neck Feasibility Study? Why was the completion date for this study been delayed from what was listed on the Park Service’s website?

3.      Does the Park Service require additional funding or resources to complete the Northern Neck Feasibility Study?

We appreciate all the Park Service does to protect our national treasures. The Park Service is instrumental in telling America’s story and supporting communities across Virginia and the country. Given the importance the National Heritage Area designation would have for communities in the Northern Neck and the Commonwealth, we would appreciate a prompt response to these questions.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.

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WASHINGTON – The United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to honor Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, a NASA pioneer who passed away Monday at the age of 101.

“Katherine Johnson was essential to NASA’s success in the Space Race. But as an African-American woman working at Langley Research Center in the era of Jim Crow, she went unrecognized for decades. Thankfully this trailblazer lived to see the recognition she deserved – including a blockbuster movie, a Congressional Gold Medal, and a building named in her honor on the campus where she was once forced to use separate facilities because of the color of her skin,” said Sen. Warner. “Katherine Johnson’s life is evidence that we as a nation must continue to strive towards equality of opportunity for all our citizens. While she is no longer with us, Katherine Johnson will continue to inspire generations of Americans, especially young women thinking of careers in math and science.”  

“Katherine Johnson’s pioneering contributions to orbital mechanics helped our nation reach the stars. As one of the first African American women to work as a NASA scientist, she paved the way for generations to come. This resolution is a small reminder of her amazing contributions,” Sen. Kaine said.

“A White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia native, Katherine Johnson not only completed groundbreaking work at NASA during the space race, but also broke the barriers of race and gender during a critical time in our nation. Katherine graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia State College in 1937 with degrees in mathematics and French and became the first African-American woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University. She began her work as a mathematician for NASA, eventually running the equations that sent the first American astronaut to orbit Earth. Because of the accomplishments of intellectual leaders like Katherine Johnson, more young women have, and will, blaze their own trails in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, and will continue to make our state and entire nation proud. We cannot thank Katherine enough for her contributions to our state and our nation and she will be missed greatly by us all,” said Sen. Manchin.

“Katherine Johnson proved to us that no obstacle is too high if you work hard and believe in your goals,” said Sen. Capito. “As a West Virginian, Katherine used her toughness and grit to surpass societal barriers and turn her dreams into a reality. The legacy of Katherine Johnson will be remembered every time we look up at the moon and remember how her work took us there for the first time. As the first female U.S. Senator from West Virginia, I am not only continuously inspired by Katherine’s story, but I am also inspired by her kindness and humility. Generations of little girls who also aspire to reach the stars will draw strength and encouragement from Katherine’s legacy. Her work is no longer hidden by the shadows of the men she put on the moon. Katherine Johnson will forever be a star in the Mountain State and will be significantly missed by all.”

“NASA is deeply saddened by the loss of a leader from our pioneering days, and we send our deepest condolences to the family of Katherine Johnson. Ms. Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space. Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars. Her Presidential Medal of Freedom was a well-deserved recognition. At NASA we will never forget her courage and leadership and the milestones we could not have reached without her. We will continue building on her legacy and work tirelessly to increase opportunities for everyone who has something to contribute toward the ongoing work of raising the bar of human potential,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

On November 8, 2019, the President signed into law bipartisan legislation to award Katherine Johnson with the Congressional Gold Medal, along with her fellow “Hidden Figures” Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the U.S., awarded to those who have performed an achievement that has had an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized in the recipient’s field for years to come.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,844,898 in federal funding to support residents of public housing in five cities across Virginia. The funding, awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Resident Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) program, helps individuals and families work towards economic independence and housing self-sufficiency. The program aims to help residents increase earned income and enhance their quality of life.

“This federal funding is important to help Virginians build self-sufficiency and make economic progress,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased to see this investment go towards making sure more people across the Commonwealth have access to these supportive services.”

The Virginia housing authorities that will receive funding are listed below:

City                            Virginia Housing Authority Recipient                                      Amount

Hopewell                  Hopewell Redevelopment and Housing Authority                   $230,916.00

Norfolk                      Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority                       $478,500.00

Portsmouth               Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority                $239,250.00

Bristol                         Bristol Redevelopment and Housing Authority                         $178,482.00

Richmond                  Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority                  $717,750.00

 

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Democratic Whip Dick Durbin along with 29 of their Democratic colleagues to introduce the Restoring Military Priorities Act of 2020.  The bill would reverse and restore the Trump Administration’s recent short-sighted transfer of $3.8 billion from Pentagon priorities to build part of President Trump’s border wall.  The bill also reduces DoD’s transfer authority so that DoD cannot once again attempt to divert additional funding for President Trump’s border wall from Congressionally appropriated DoD funds. 

The most recent DoD reprogramming targeted the men and women of the National Guard and a variety of additional programs funded by Congress to address shortfalls that were in many cases identified by military leaders.  This was the third time in less than one year that the Administration has used this unilateral process to bypass Congress and divert funding to President Trump’s border wall.

“Clearly, this Administration is not afraid to drain essential funding from the Department of Defense to build an ineffective wall across our southern border. Therefore, Congress has a responsibility to make sure that these dollars actually go towards supporting our national security interests and providing our men and women in uniform the resources they need to carry out their duties,” said Warner. “Our legislation will reverse the President’s irresponsible decision to divert $3.8 billion from crucial defense projects in Virginia and across our nation, and will make sure that the DoD cannot bypass Congress in the future and give away essential Defense funding.”

“President Trump is again raiding defense programs to fund his own political pet project. Our bill would reverse this reckless reprogramming and protect the Defense Department’s funding to ensure that it is used to support our men and women in uniform as well as the critical national security projects that Congress initially allocated the money for,” Kaine said.

In the spring of 2019, the Defense Department transferred $2.5 billion in funding to be used to build part of President Trump’s border wall, and the President later raided an additional $3.6 billion in military construction funds for his wall.  Earlier this month, the Defense Department reprogrammed another $3.8 billion from the men and women of the National Guard and a variety of programs added by Congress to address shortfalls that were in many cases identified by military leaders as critical equipment. 

In January, it was reported that President Trump intended to raid $7.2 billion in DoD funds this year to pay for his wall, diverting funding from military families and forcing American taxpayers to pay for his wall.

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

Full text of the legislation is available here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was joined by six of his Senate colleagues in calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release the additional H-2B visas needed to support local seafood businesses in Virginia and states like Alaska, Maryland, and North Carolina. The letter, signed by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (D-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), urges the DHS to quickly authorize additional visas for temporary non-agricultural workers so that seafood industries around the country can hire seasonal workers and continue operations. 

“Many of the seafood businesses we represent are family-owned operations that go back multiple generations, often in rural areas of our states. Despite good faith efforts to find local seasonal workers, our seafood industries rely on H-2B workers for tough jobs such as shucking oysters and processing crabs,” wrote the Senators. “These businesses are entirely reliant on the forces of nature that determine, for example, when salmon will run and be ready for harvest. Without H-2B visas, some local businesses will be forced to reduce the size of their American workforces.”

“We urge the Department to promptly make available sufficient visas to meet the labor needs of our states’ seafood industries, and to announce its intent to do so by March 1, 2020,” they continued. “Local seafood businesses earn their livelihoods based on perishable products, and need H-2B workers to harvest and process their respective seafood products so they can sell those products. If these local businesses lose a customer base one year, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to come back into the industry. We have already heard from local businesses that will be forced to shut down ahead of the 2020 season if a sufficient number of Congressionally-authorized H-2B visas are not released.”

H-2B visas allow employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States if U.S. workers are not available, after completing rigorous application and certification process. These visas are critical to the survival of Virginia’s seafood industry – particularly the seafood processing community around the Chesapeake Bay. Last month, Sen. Warner met with Virginia seafood processors in Tappahannock, who expressed concern with their inability to fill their seasonal labor needs, resulting in lost supply agreements with grocery stores and other customer suppliers who are then forced to turn to foreign imports for their orders.

According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s last complete study of this kind, the commercial seafood industry in Virginia generates $407.9 million in economic output, which includes all economic activity from harvesters to restaurants. Of that $407.9 million, 62 percent comes from seafood processing/wholesaling firms – the primary companies who rely on the H-2B worker program. Additionally, according to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, in 2017, Virginia oysters alone had a dockside value of more than $48.9 million dollars, followed by Quahog Clams with more than $47.6 million and Blue Crabs with more than $38 million in dockside value.

In the letter, the Senators note that the Congressionally-authorized FY20 Consolidated Appropriations Act gives the DHS Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the authority to raise the cap on H-2B visas, and issue additional visas as needed.

Sen. Warner has long advocated for Virginia’s seafood processing industry – a community largely made up of rural, family-owned operations. Earlier this month, in a bipartisan call, he pressed DHS Secretary Wolf to release the additional Congressionally-authorized H-2B visas, to publicly announce this intent, and to do so as quickly as possible. Additionally, in January, he joined a bipartisan, bicameral letter calling on the Administration to increase the statutory cap of H-2B visas for FY20. He also recently met with DOL Secretary Eugene Scalia to discuss the impact of the H-2B program on Virginia and urge the Secretary to work alongside DHS to release the additional visas in a timely fashion. Sen. Warner has previously introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the H-2B visa program, and has requested an audit to determine the number of unused visas that could be made available to eligible petitioners.

The letter is available here and below.

 

The Honorable Chad F. Wolf

Acting Secretary

United States Department of Homeland Security

3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20528

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

We write on behalf of local seafood businesses in Virginia, Alaska, Maryland, and North Carolina who need the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release additional H-2B visas in order to hire seasonal workers and continue operations.  We were encouraged to hear that you have been working diligently on this issue when we spoke with you last week. 

Many of the seafood businesses we represent are family-owned operations that go back multiple generations, often in rural areas of our states.  Despite good faith efforts to find local seasonal workers, our seafood industries rely on H-2B workers for tough jobs such as shucking oysters and processing crabs.  These businesses are entirely reliant on the forces of nature that determine, for example, when salmon will run and be ready for harvest.  Without H-2B visas, some local businesses will be forced to reduce the size of their American workforces.

Under the “Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020”, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL), is authorized to provide expeditious H-2B cap relief for our local businesses’ upcoming seasonal labor needs.  We urge the Department to promptly make available sufficient visas to meet the labor needs of our states’ seafood industries, and to announce its intent to do so by March 1, 2020. 

Local seafood businesses earn their livelihoods based on perishable products, and need H-2B workers to harvest and process their respective seafood products so they can sell those products.  If these local businesses lose a customer base one year, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to come back into the industry.  We have already heard from local businesses that will be forced to shut down ahead of the 2020 season if a sufficient number of Congressionally-authorized H-2B visas are not released. 

Without answers on H-2B visa cap relief for 2020, our seafood industries remain in a unique and perilous position.  We urge you to quickly announce your intent to make available sufficient H-2B visas authorized as Congress.  Thank you for your careful attention to this critical matter.  

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) released the following statement today regarding a bipartisan call the Senators participated in last night with the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf:

“The release of additional H-2B visas to allow our local businesses to hire seasonal workers is of vital and urgent importance to Maryland and Virginia’s seafood industries. Last night, on a call with the Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, we stressed this need and pressed the Secretary to act immediately. We were pleased to hear that he has been working diligently on this issue, and we will continue pushing to ensure that additional visas are released quickly. Without these additional visas, our states’ treasured crab and oyster industries – which are made up of many small, family-owned businesses and are crucial to the economies of the Eastern Shore and Northern Neck – will be forced to scale back operations, default on contracts, lay off full-time American workers or, in some cases, close operations completely. We will keep fighting to protect this important regional industry and to address this issue long-term.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $94,523,140 in federal funding to support access to safe and affordable housing throughout Virginia. This funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was awarded through four grant programs – the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program.

“We are very glad to see nearly $95 million dollars go towards supporting access to affordable housing for folks with the highest need in localities throughout Virginia,” said the Senators. “We will continue fighting for grant opportunities that help promote accessible housing in the Commonwealth, including the Community Development Block Grant Program, which the President has proposed eliminating in next year’s budget.”

The funding will be awarded as below.

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons:

Recipient

Amount

 

Alexandria

$1,141,608

Arlington County

$1,410,969

Blacksburg

$534,243

Bristol

$270,304

Charlottesville

$419,367

Chesapeake

$1,173,205

Chesterfield County

$1,464,122

Christiansburg

$105,791

Colonial Heights

$105,797

Danville

$880,085

Fairfax County

$5,960,799

Fredericksburg

$196,004

Hampton

$999,391

Harrisonburg

$534,269

Henrico County

$1,729,959

Hopewell

$210,670

Loudoun County

$1,414,208

Lynchburg

$714,865

Newport News

$1,308,649

Norfolk

$4,510,021

Petersburg

$632,301

Portsmouth

$1,614,295

Prince William County

$2,695,308

Radford

$179,253

Richmond

$4,561,838

Roanoke

$1,795,505

Staunton

$352,891

Suffolk

$480,588

Virginia Beach

$2,056,051

Virginia Nonentitlement

$18,711,859

Waynesboro city

$193,941

Winchester

$227,149

 

Total CDBG:

 

$58,585,305

The HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program helps to expand the supply of decent, affordable housing to low- and very low-income families by providing grants to states and local governments to fund housing programs that meet local needs and priorities:

Recipient

Amount

 

 

Alexandria

$585,127

Arlington County

$763,647

Blacksburg

$616,181

Charlottesville

$644,752

Chesapeake

$541,217

Chesterfield County

$603,376

Danville

$268,392

Fairfax County

$2,141,854

Hampton

$535,029

Henrico County

$919,624

Lynchburg

$424,288

Newport News

$768,487

Norfolk

$1,271,867

Portsmouth

$429,589

Prince William County

$939,588

Richmond

$1,609,365

Roanoke

$676,053

Suffolk

$386,943

Virginia Beach

$1,071,400

Virginia Nonentitlement

$10,662,286

Winchester

$594,194

 

Total HOME:

 

$26,453,259

The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program provides annual grants to state, local, and private entities to assist people in quickly regaining stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis and/or homelessness. In addition to rapid re-housing and homelessness prevention, the ESG program also provides limited funding for street outreach as well as for improving the quality and number of emergency homeless shelters:

Recipient

Amount

 

 

Fairfax County

$492,880

Henrico County

$147,484

Norfolk

$385,289

Prince William County

$229,582

Richmond

$392,068

Roanoke

$152,376

Virginia Beach

$175,778

Virginia Nonentitlement

$3,008,913

 

Total ESG:

 

$4,984,370

 

The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program provides housing assistance and related supportive services to local units of government, states and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS:

 

Recipient

Amount

 

 

Richmond

$1,336,130

Virginia Beach

$1,939,442

Virginia Nonentitlement

$1,224,634

 

Total HOPWA:

 

$4,500,206

 

###

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,191,750 in federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help seven Virginia tribes develop and manage affordable housing.

“We’re pleased to announce this funding to expand access to low-income housing for Virginia’s tribes,” the Senators said. “These grants will help ensure these communities have a safe and affordable place to live.”

The tribes that received funding are listed below:

 Location                                           Recipient                                                      Amount

Providence Forge                     Chickahominy Indian Tribe                                   $265,991

Providence Forge                     Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division           $74,594

Amherst                                 Monacan Indian Nation                                         $372,748

Suffolk                                   Nansemond Indian Tribe                                       $150,023

King William                           Pamunkey Indian Tribe                                          $74,594

Indian Neck                            Rappahannock Tribe, Inc.                                      $74,594

King William                           Upper Mattaponi Tribe                                           $179,206

 

The grant was awarded through HUD’s Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) Program which provides grants, loan guarantees, and technical assistance to Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages for the development and operation of affordable housing.

In 2018, a bipartisan Warner and Kaine bill to grant federal recognition to six Virginia tribes was signed into law. The legislation granted these six Virginia tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government, allowing the tribes to compete for grants only open to federally recognized tribes.

###

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

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

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

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

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

 

February 13, 2020 

The Honorable Thomas B. Modly

Acting Secretary of the Navy

1000 Navy Pentagon

Washington, DC  20350

Dear Acting Secretary Modly:

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

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

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

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

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

 

###

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $47,220,892 in federal funding to support public housing and workforce development programs in 26 localities across Virginia. The funding was awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Job Plus Initiative and Public Housing Capital Fund programs.

“It’s important for every Virginian to have the opportunity to secure stable housing and employment,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased that these federal funds will help ensure more Virginians have access to affordable homes and upward mobility.”

The Jobs Plus Initiative program develops locally-based, job-driven approaches to advance employment outcomes and increase earnings for residents of public housing.

The Capital Fund provides federal funding for the development, financing, and modernization of public housing developments.

The Virginia housing authorities that received funding from the Jobs Plus Program are listed here: 

City                                                          Virginia Housing Authority Recipient                                Amount

PORTSMOUTH

Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority

$2,300,000

 

The Virginia housing authorities that received funding from the Capital Fund are listed here:

 

City                                                          Virginia Housing Authority Recipient                                Amount

ABINGDON

ALEXANDRIA

Abingdon Redevelopment & Housing Authority

Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$70,754

$1,907,939

BRISTOL

Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$930,998

CHARLOTTESVILLE

Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$960,618

CHESAPEAKE

Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,261,470

COEBURN

Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$459,136

DANVILLE

Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,202,845

DUFFIELD

Scott County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$219,382

FRANKLIN

Franklin Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$168,040

HAMPTON

Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,583,634

HOPEWELL

Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$888,611

JONESVILLE

Lee County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$146,191

LEBANON

Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority

$615,483

LYNCHBURG

Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$926,987

MARION

Marion Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$573,088

NEWPORT NEWS

Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$4,295,157

NORFOLK

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$7,978,621

NORTON

Norton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$515,977

PETERSBURG

Petersburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$930,090

PORTSMOUTH

Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,628,891

RICHMOND

Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$11,547,123

ROANOKE

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$3,702,478

SUFFOLK

Suffolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$1,161,115

WAYNESBORO

Waynesboro Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$453,879

WILLIAMSBURG

Williamsburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$263,260

WYTHEVILLE

Wytheville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

$529,125

 

 

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Acting Director Vought and Assistant Secretary James:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Honorable Chad F. Wolf

Acting Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security        

3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW                          

Washington, DC 20528          

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

###

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Attorney General Barr:

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

###

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Director Vought and Assistant Secretary James:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Director Vought:

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dear Secretary Chao:

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The funding will be awarded as follows:

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

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

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