Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Rep Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) announced $6,000,000 in federal funding for improvements to Norfolk International Airport. The funding was made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which the lawmakers helped pass to improve air travel, roads, bridges, rail, broadband, and water infrastructure.

Specifically the funding will go towards the construction of a new Federal Inspection Service (FIS) international arrivals facility, which will process cargo and agricultural products, in order to meet U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements. This new center will replace the current outdated facility that has very limited processing capability, and will increase capacity at the facility to allow for multiple aircrafts to be processed simultaneously.

“Our regional airports service hundreds of flights weekly, and we’re glad this funding will help improve Norfolk International’s ability to process flights in a timely fashion, ensuring that the facility stays functional and safe,” said the lawmakers.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long supported efforts to improve Virginia’s airports, including by securing funding for regional airports throughout the Commonwealth. Last year, the senators announced a series of awards for Virginia’s airports as part of the $15 billion in direct grants to airports around the country as a result of the infrastructure law.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) announced $3,000,000 to initiate the Peninsula Regional Flood Risk Management feasibility study for the City of Hampton, VA and the surrounding region.  

As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the lawmakers previously secured $1.5 million for the Virginia Beach and Vicinity Coastal Storm Risk Management Study and nearly $399 million for the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project. Today’s announcement builds on that progress by extending the study of flood risk management strategies to the Peninsula. The study will investigate flood threats ranging from sea level rise, coastal storm surge, and rainfall events, and will develop mitigation solutions to reduce flood risk. This funding will allow work on the study to begin immediately.

 “Rising sea levels threaten lives and livelihoods, and in no place has that been more evident than this region, which has experienced record flooding in recent years,” the members said. “We’re glad to see this crucial funding finally head to the region in order to develop a comprehensive resilience plan for all of Hampton Roads.”

The Hampton Roads region is subject to the highest rate of historic relative sea level rise on the U.S. east coast and tenth worldwide in terms of value of assets exposed to flooding. Sea level rise conditions underscore the necessity for a comprehensive study to identify and address flooding challenges to ensure continued quality of life, economic growth, and ecosystem health for the region.

Since 2021, Sens. Warner and Kaine have requested funding for this project in order to build a comprehensive flood management and storm resilience plan for the region.   

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $10,000,000 in federal funding for St. Paul’s Blue Greenway, a multipurpose park that will be located in St. Paul’s Redevelopment Project in Norfolk. Specifically, this funding will be used for the park’s development, which includes uncovering a buried creek and creating a resilient creek area, which will provide the neighborhood with a green space that will also help prevent future flooding. Once finished, St. Paul’s Blue Greenway will feature two playgrounds, a 10-station fitness area, splashpad, overlook deck, channel pier, outdoor stage, game tables, bike racks, grills, and an outdoor public gathering area and pavilion. 

“We’re thrilled to see this federal funding go towards building an inventive green space that will serve families in the St. Paul’s community while addressing the complex flooding challenges facing the region,” the Senators said. “We will be following the development of this project and look forward to seeing Norfolk lead the way with innovative solutions that strengthen our climate resilience.”

This funding was awarded by the Department of the Interior’s Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program – a nationally competitive program targeting grant assistance to help economically disadvantaged urban communities with no, or almost no, access to publicly available, close-by, outdoor recreation.

The ORLP program is funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which was permanently authorized by Congress in 2020 as part of the Great American Outdoors Act – a once-in-a-generation law Sens. Warner and Kaine helped pass. The LWCF supports increased public access to and protection for federal public lands and waters — including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas — and provides matching grants to state governments for the acquisition and development of public parks and other outdoor recreation sites. Sens. Warner and Kaine have for years helped to deliver millions of dollars in federal support for resilience efforts in the St. Paul’s area, including through the Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot and BUILDS Programs; Housing and Urban Developments’ Choice Neighborhoods and Natural Disaster Resilience Programs; the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program; the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project; and through the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and the draft Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

This funding helps advance the Biden-Harris administration's America the Beautiful initiative, a locally led, voluntary conservation and restoration effort that aims to address the nature and climate crises, improve equitable access to the outdoors, and strengthen the economy

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) announced the inclusion of key Virginia priorities in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2024 draft funding bills. All 12 bills were passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on a bipartisan basis.

“We are proud to announce that the Senate’s draft government spending legislation for Fiscal Year 2024 includes critical funding that will keep the government open, back record investments in infrastructure and U.S. competitiveness, uplift rural and underserved communities, support servicemembers and military families, provide assistance to miners suffering from black lung disease, and support key industries that are central to Virginia’s economy. We’re also proud to have secured more than $111 million for specific community projects all throughout Virginia as we work to ensure our federal budget meets Virginians’ needs. We hope that our colleagues in the House of Representatives will negotiate in good faith in order to reach a compromise on a final deal that includes funding for these important priorities,” said Sens. Warner and Kaine.

As part of the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations process, members of Congress were able to work with the communities they represent to request funding for local community projects, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects in Virginia. The Senators worked to secure more than $111 million for community projects across the Commonwealth. In addition to battling for these priorities, the Senators will work to ensure funds obtained by Virginia House members also remain in the final spending bills. 

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

  • For projects in Northern Virginia, click here.
  • For projects in Central Virginia, click here.
  • For projects in the Shenandoah Valley, click here.
  • For projects in Southwest Virginia and Southside, click here.
  • For projects in Hampton Roads, click here.
  • For projects that impact communities in multiple regions across the Commonwealth click here.

 
The following list includes many provisions championed by Sens. Warner and Kaine on behalf of Virginia that were included in the 12 government funding bills: 

Boosting Local Economies: Includes $200 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and $20 million for the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission to support their work to build economic partnerships, create opportunity, and foster economic development.  

Implementing the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022: Includes $11 billion to implement the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, championed by Sens. Warner and Kaine. Funding will allow the U.S. to keep pace with China and other competitors in scientific fields that can power the economy, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, microelectronics, clean energy, and advanced communications. Sen. Warner first introduced the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act in June 2020 along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).  

Implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA): Provides full funding for numerous transportation programs authorized in the IIJA, including $29.5 billion for the National Highway Performance Program, $3.1 billion for the Highway Safety Improvement Program, $245 million for the Rail-Highway Grade Crossings Program, $14.3 billion for the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, and $2.4 billion for the Bridge Investment Program. Sen. Warner was a lead author and negotiator of the IIJA.  

Strengthening Transportation and Recreation Infrastructure: Provides $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and $45 million for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which supports multi-purpose trails. 

Making Our Communities Safer: Provides $732 million – a $32 million increase from Fiscal Year 2023 – for Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution programs to prevent violence and better support survivors. This legislation also includes over $534 million for Community Oriented Policing Services to support state and local law enforcement and communities in developing comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs based on partnerships between community residents, law enforcement, local government agencies, and other community stakeholders. This includes efforts to address gang and gun violence and improve school safety.

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

Investing in Children: Provides $8.7 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which provides financial assistance to help low-income families access child care. This is $700 million more than Fiscal Year 2023. The bill also includes $12.3 billion, $300 million more than Fiscal Year 2023, for Head Start, the national school readiness program. In July, Sens. Warner and Kaine urged the White House to provide additional funding to help stabilize the child care industry. In April, Sen. Kaine introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, legislation that would help ensure families can find and afford child care by expanding access to more high-quality options, stabilizing the child care sector, and helping ensure child care workers taking care of our nation’s kids are paid livable wages. The bill also includes $15 million for the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health program – a program that Sen. Kaine reauthorized via bipartisan legislation.  

Making Higher Education More Affordable: Provides a $250 boost to the maximum Pell Grant in the 2024-2025 school year, raising the maximum award to $7,645. The bill also includes over $1 billion, an increase of $5 million, for programs to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.

Supporting K-12 Education: Provides over $18.5 billion for Title I-A grants, which supports school districts with low-income students. This is $175 million more from Fiscal Year 2023. The bill also provides over $5 billion for the primary Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Special Education State grant program, an increase of $175 million from Fiscal Year 2023. In July, Sen. Kaine reintroduced the IDEA Full Funding Act, legislation that would ensure Congress fulfills its commitment to fully fund IDEA through regular, mandatory increases in spending.

Investing in Affordable Housing: Includes $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which provides fundingto state and local governments for housing construction, and $3.3 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which can be used to support affordable housing, community development, and economic development. Also includes $3.9 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG), to help families and individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Sens. Warner and Kaine are strong advocates for affordable housing funding each year.

Supporting Nutrition Programs: The bill includes $6.3 billion – a $615 million increase from Fiscal Year 2023 – for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to ensure over 6 million women, infants, and children can access adequate nutrition. It also fully funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to serve an estimated 42 million people per month – with no new restrictions on eligibility – and fully funds the Child Nutrition Programs to help serve an estimated 5 billion lunches and 2.6 billion breakfasts to kids across the country. 

Fighting Global Hunger: Provides $1.8 billion for the Food for Peace program and $248.3 million for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program, while the State and Foreign Operations bill provides a $691 million increase in funding for humanitarian assistance programs, including increased investments in addressing global hunger and enhancing food security.  

Preventing and Treating Substance Use: Provides $5 billion – an increase of $125 million over Fiscal Year 2023 – for opioid treatment and prevention. This includes $40 million for the Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Block Grant; $20 million for the State Opioid Response grants; $10 million for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program; and $20 million for NIH opioid research programs. 

Fighting the Flow of Fentanyl: Includes $719 million to improve the detection and seizure of fentanyl and other narcotics at ports of entry with new technology and personnel. Invests $105 million in new resources to disrupt transnational criminal organizations and stop fentanyl and illicit drugs at their source. Sens. Warner and Kaine are both cosponsors of the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, a sanctions and anti-money laundering bill targeting the illicit fentanyl supply chain. Earlier this year, Sens. Kaine and Joni Ernst (R-IA) led bipartisan legislation to direct increased federal attention to fentanyl trafficking by utilizing the tools of the Department of Defense and involving Mexico as an active partner to combat the fentanyl crisis. That legislation was included in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

Addressing Long COVID Needs: Includes $10 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to support access to comprehensive, coordinated, and person-centered care, particularly for underserved, rural, vulnerable, or minority populations that are disproportionately impacted by the effects of Long COVID. Also includes $5 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to establish a network of Long COVID Centers of Excellence that can gather, develop and disseminate data regarding evidence-based treatment; educate and train providers on best practices; conduct outreach to affected populations and community organizations; and coordinate access to care. Sen. Kaine has been a strong advocate for helping individuals with Long COVID, including by leading the bipartisan Long COVID Support Act with Sen. Todd Young (R-IN).

Supporting Rural Health: Includes a $12 million increase for Rural Health programs. This includes a $10 million increase in the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program and a $2 million increase for the Rural Health Outreach program, which supports projects that demonstrate new and innovative modes of outreach in rural areas. Also includes $5 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish an Office of Rural Health. Sen. Kaine supported the establishment of this office as a cosponsor of the Rural Health Equity Act, and led a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee in FY23 requesting this funding.

Addressing the Maternal Mortality Crisis: Includes an increase of $10 million for the Implementing a Maternal health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) Initiative to combat alarming rates of maternal mortality, as well as an increase of $2.5 million for programs to improve health outcomes during and after pregnancy and reduce disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. Also includes $110.5 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Safe Motherhood and Infant Health programs, which is a $2,500,000 increase from fiscal year 2023 and more than $1.7 billion for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which is a $10,000,000 increase from fiscal year 2023. Sen. Kaine led a bipartisan letter to the Appropriations Committee asking for robust funding for these programs.

Pandemic Preparedness: Includes $3.67 billion for the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR). This includes a $20 million increase for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support the advanced development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and devices for potential serious public health threats, and $75 million to establish a new program in manufacturing and production to ensure that critical resources including medical countermeasures and ancillary supplies are manufactured in the United States. 

Increasing Funding for Pediatric Research: Provides $12.6 million to further fund the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act—legislation championed by Sens. Warner and Kaine and named after a child from Loudoun County who died from a brain tumor in 2013. 

Supporting the Refugee Resettlement Program: Includes $133 million for refugee settlement to meet the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions for Fiscal Year 2024. 

Expanding Home Energy Assistance: Includes $4.075 billion – an increase of $75 million from Fiscal Year 2023 – for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides assistance to low-income households to help heat or cool their homes. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for lowering energy costs and have consistently advocated for robust funding for LIHEAP. 

Expanding High-Speed Internet Access: Includes $98 million for the USDA’s ReConnect Program to expand access to high-speed broadband to remote underserved areas. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal advocates for expanding broadband. As Governors and Senators, Sens. Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding broadband access in Virginia. During the pandemic, they secured significant funding for broadband through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Sens. Warner and Kaine also joined a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership requesting this funding earlier this year, and Sen. Warner personally secured billions of dollars for broadband expansion in both the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

Increasing Military Pay and Compensation: Fully funds the 5.2 percent pay raise for servicemembers, while providing $29.6 billion for housing and $8.4 billion for subsistence – including BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) and BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence—food for servicemembers not living in government quarters).

Economic Support for Underserved Communities: Provides $341 million for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund. Sens. Warner and Kaine requested this funding. Sen. Warner has led efforts in Congress to support CDFIs through legislation including the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act and the creation of the bipartisan Senate Community Development Finance Caucus.  

Small Businesses: Provides $1.2 billion to the Small Business Administration to help small businesses thrive. This funding will support SBA’s lending programs, which increase access to capital for small businesses, as well as their entrepreneurial development programs, which include services that help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, such as the Small Business Development Center and Women’s Business Centers networks.

Addressing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Delays and Customer Service Issues: Includes $12.3 billion for the IRS, which will enable it to continue to update ancient computer systems, improve customer service, and reduce wait times for refunds and other services. Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently pushed the IRS to address poor customer service and severe delays within the department.  

Support for Miners: Includes $12.19 million for Black Lung Clinics. Sens. Warner and Kaine have actively worked to secure benefits for miners and their families suffering from black lung disease. In July, Sens. Warner and Kaine reintroduced the Relief for Survivors of Miners Act, which would ease restrictions to make it easier for miners’ survivors to successfully claim benefits. In June, the Senators also urged the Biden Administration to issue new silica standards to protect miners across America – a push that helped contribute towards the release of those standards.

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay: Includes $93 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program, the primary federal program that coordinates Chesapeake Bay restoration and protection efforts throughout the Bay watershed.

Strengthening Our Ports: Provides $1.2 billion for the Maritime Administration (MARAD), including $213 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), which supports the buildout and modernization of our nation’s ports including the Port of Virginia.

Advancing Scientific Discovery: Includes $8.43 billion – an increase of $330 million from Fiscal Year 2023 – for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science. DOE’s Office of Science sponsors basic research in the physical sciences and supports 22,000 researchers at 17 national laboratories across the country, including Jefferson Lab in Newport News, Virginia.

Protecting our Courts: Provides $11.4 million to improve security of the Walter E. Hoffman Courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia. Sen. Kaine visited the Hoffman Courthouse in 2020 to observe the serious security vulnerabilities firsthand and the Senators have been fighting to enhance its security ever since. The Senators last wrote to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in January 2023 to push for the long delayed security measures.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $25,144,014 in federal funding for Virginia Beach to protect critical infrastructure from the impacts of consistent flooding and rising sea levels. The project will fund several upgrades – including stormwater pump stations – to support coastal resilience across the city and along Shore Drive. 

“Rising sea levels threaten lives and livelihoods, and also risk the continued strength of our roads and bridges,” the senators said. “We’re glad to see $25 million headed straight to Virginia Beach to further shore up resilience efforts across Hampton Roads, protecting residents from the danger of severe weather, the threat of property damage, and the frustration of flooded roads.”

This grant will protect vital infrastructure in Virginia Beach and along Shore Drive that is being impacted by rising sea levels, higher tidal systems, and stormwater runoff that results in regular roadway floods during normal rain events. This project will include two large stormwater pump stations, an automated tide gate, two significant outfall discharges, collection systems, a rain garden, and canal deepening and widening to alleviate flooding in the community. This project will protect up to a 100-year base flood elevation, mitigate flooding on transportation infrastructure and on 11 Repetitive Loss properties, and provide drainage to 614 buildings.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently fought for more resilience measures across Hampton Roads. As part of the bipartisan infrastructure law (BIL), Sens. Warner and Kaine secured $1.5 million for the Virginia Beach and Vicinity Coastal Storm Risk Management Study. Also through the BIL, they secured nearly $399 million for the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project, which will reduce and manage flooding in Norfolk through a system of surge barriers, tidal gates, floodwalls, levees, pump stations, and non-structural measures. In June, Sens. Warner and Kaine visited Norfolk for the signing of the Project Partnership Agreement, which kicked off the formal partnership between the City of Norfolk and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, allowing the project to commence. 

This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program. The BRIC program provides funding for proactive upgrades to areas at greater risk of damage from hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires.

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $171,555,620 in federal funding for five transit projects in Virginia. This funding was authorized by the bipartisan infrastructure law supported by both Senators and signed into law by President Joe Biden. Specifically, these federal dollars will go towards investing in bus facilities and American-built buses that will be manufactured with American parts and labor.  

“We are thrilled to see the bipartisan infrastructure law continue to deliver for communities,” said the Senators. “This funding will help deliver state-of-the-art buses and bus facilities that are better for our environment and make Virginia’s transit systems more reliable and comfortable for riders. We’re proud to know that this funding will support American jobs while making our communities more accessible.” 

The funding will be distributed as follows:

  • The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will receive $104 million to convert its Lorton, VA, bus garage to a fully electric facility, buy approximately 100 battery-electric buses, and develop a workforce training program for drivers, mechanics, and first responders to ensure safe and efficient operations of the fleet. This project will support WMATA’s plans to accelerate its transition to a 100-percent zero-emission bus fleet and create good paying construction jobs, which will be supported through a project labor agreement and registered apprenticeships.
  • The City of Alexandria will receive $23,984,700 to buy 13 battery-electric buses and charging equipment and perform utility upgrades to the DASH transit system. The project includes worker training to introduce new skills to the existing and future workforce to maintain the electric buses, charging infrastructure and associated technology. The buses will accelerate DASH's transition to a 100% zero-emission fleet.
  • Loudoun County will receive $13,880,910 to buy 37 compressed natural gas buses, build a fueling station and improve its maintenance facility, the first step in its 10-year net-zero energy strategy.  The buses will anchor the agency's fleet and service the county's environmental justice communities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads will receive $25,000,000 to replace the 39-year-old Parks Avenue Maintenance Facility in Virginia Beach to accommodate future zero-emission buses. The new Southside Bus Operating Facility will help the agency support and maintain its current fleet while preparing to support expanded regional transit service.
  • The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will receive $4,690,010 to replace the oldest buses operated by 11 rural transit providers. The project includes the purchase of a few dozen replacement buses that are vital to reducing a backlog of adequate vehicles. 

Funding for these projects was distributed through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities and Low- and No-Emission (Low-No) Vehicle programs.

The Buses and Bus Facilities program provides federal funding for transit agencies to buy and rehabilitate buses and vans and build and modernize bus facilities. The bipartisan infrastructure law provides nearly $2 billion through FY 2026 for the program. The Low-No program makes funding available to help transit agencies buy or lease American-built low- or zero-emission vehicles, including buses and vans; make facility and station upgrades to accommodate low- or zero-emission vehicles; and purchase supporting equipment like chargers for battery electric vehicles. The bipartisan infrastructure law provides $5.5 billion through FY 2026 for the Low-No Program – more than six times greater than the previous five years of funding combined.  

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $ 17,744,862 in federal funding to enhance beach access at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore. Specifically, these federal dollars will be used to relocate the existing public recreational beach to a more stable part of the island. This funding will also go towards constructing a new access road, four new parking lots, new boardwalks, and paving for a multiuse path. 

“This award would not have been possible without the bipartisan infrastructure law, which we were proud to help usher into law. We are thrilled to see these federal dollars go towards enhancing beach access at Chincoteague and Assateague – a project that will help preserve this natural treasure, provide visitors with a better experience, and generate more economic activity in the region,” said the Senators.  

This funding, awarded through the Department of Transportation’s Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects (NSFLTP) Program, was only made possible by the passage of the Warner and Kaine-backed bipartisan infrastructure law, which reduced minimum project sizes from $25 million to $12.5 million and increased the federal share of projects on Tribal transportation facilities to 100 percent. 

The Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program (NSFLTP) provides funding for the construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of nationally-significant projects within, adjacent to, or accessing Federal and tribal lands. The program provides an opportunity to address significant challenges across the nation for transportation facilities that serve Federal and tribal lands.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $6,710,000 in federal funding for three Virginia airports. The funding was awarded through the Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Airport Improvement Program (AIP).  

“Virginia’s airports serve thousands of flyers every day and we are thrilled to deliver funding that will make travel through Virginia safer, more convenient, and more accessible for all,” the Senators said. “This funding will allow our Commonwealth’s airports to start important maintenance and planning projects that will help meet their communities’ needs for years to come.”

The funding is distributed as follows:

  • $5,000,000 for Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport in Arlington, VA for the construction of a taxiway.
  • $1,350,000 for Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in Newport News, VA for to fund an update to the Airport Master Plan.
  • $360,000 for Winchester Regional Airport in Winchester, VA for the construction of a taxiway.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have championed continued investment in Virginia’s airports in order to make travel easier across the Commonwealth. Last month, the Senators announced over $1 million in funding for Luray Caverns Airport in Luray, Virginia courtesy of the AIP. Earlier this year, Sens. Warner and Kaine announced over $29 million in federal funding for improvements to three Virginia airports, Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Norfolk International Airport (ORF), and Richmond International Airport (RIC). Additionally, the Senators have announced nearly $400 million in funding for various Virginia airports secured through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act.

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WASHINGTON – With summer just around the corner, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) has seen a steady rise in requests for assistance regarding passport applications and renewals. Many constituents are expressing frustration caused by prolonged and unexplained delays as to the status of their travel documents. Today, Sen. Warner sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to ensure that the State Department is taking proper steps to clear the passport backlog and fulfill renewal requests.

Specifically, Sen. Warner wrote to Sec. Blinken regarding the now-closed Online Passport Renewal (OPR) System, which received more than 500,000 requests from August 2022 to February 2023. The online system has been unable to keep up with demand, leaving travelers scrambling to replace their passports at the last minute. In addition to costly delays, many constituents who filed to renew their passports online are receiving little to no information on the progress being made with applications regardless of how well in advance of planned travel their requests were filed, leaving many in limbo waiting for their documents.

“In an increasingly online age, I welcome the ability for my constituents to renew their passports through a secure paperless process,” wrote Sen. Warner. “However, the OPR system seems to be fraught with significant errors that have caused Virginians headaches, stress, and unfortunately in some instances, delayed or missed travel. Simply put, the service my constituents have received is unacceptable.”

In his letter, Sen. Warner posed a series of questions to better understand how the State Department plans to address the backlog:

  • How does the agency’s handling of passport applications submitted online differ from those that are filed through traditional processes, either by applying at a Passport Acceptance Facility in person or by U.S. Mail?
  • How does the agency determine the assignment of OPR applications to their Passport Agencies across the country? How does this compare to the assignment of traditional applications received?
  • What is the current average processing time of an application submitted through the OPR process compared to those submitted through the traditional process? Please indicate the processing time for applications submitted under both expedited and routine processing.
  • Does agency data reflect that some Passport Agencies are more successful in processing OPR applications timely than others? If so, what does the agency believe is the source of this imbalance, and how is the agency addressing this problem?
  • Members of my staff have been told by Passport Agency officials that “technical issues” can at times impede the processing of an OPR application and that officials must transfer the application into the traditional system for final processing. Can you further explain these technical issues and what steps the agency is taking to fix these issues?

Sen. Warner’s constituent casework team works daily to help Virginians with a variety of federal agency needs, including help with passport renewal. Constituents experiencing any problems with new passport applications or passport renewals through both online and traditional applications can reach out to Sen. Warner for assistance through his website, available here.

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

Dear Secretary Blinken:

I write today to express my concern and frustration with the State Department’s Online Passport Renewal (OPR) system. 

The OPR system opened to the public in a pilot status in August 2022, and the agency reports it received more than 500,000 applications before they system closed in February 2023. During that time, many Virginians participated in utilizing this system to submit their passport renewals. Since the start of 2023, my office has received a significant increase in requests from Virginians who are experiencing considerable delays in the processing of their renewal applications filed through the OPR system prior to its closure. In many cases, my constituents filed well in advance of their travel date and paid for expedited processing. That said, the applicants still faced delays and, in some cases, ultimately needed to physically travel to a Passport Agency, often the day before their scheduled travel, in order to have their passport issued.

In an increasingly online age, I welcome the ability for my constituents to renew their passports through a secure paperless process. However, the OPR system seems to be fraught with significant errors that have caused Virginians headaches, stress, and unfortunately in some instances, delayed or missed travel. Simply put, the service my constituents have received is unacceptable. Therefore, I ask that you please address the following questions:

1.      How does the agency’s handling of passport applications submitted online differ from those that are filed through traditional processes, either by applying at a Passport Acceptance Facility in person or by U.S. Mail?
2.      How does the agency determine the assignment of OPR applications to their Passport Agencies across the country? How does this compare to the assignment of traditional applications received?
3.      What is the current average processing time of an application submitted through the OPR process compared to those submitted through the traditional process? Please indicate the processing time for applications submitted under both expedited and routine processing.
4.      Does agency data reflect that some Passport Agencies are more successful in processing OPR applications timely than others? If so, what does the agency believe is the source of this imbalance, and how is the agency addressing this problem?
5.      Members of my staff have been told by Passport Agency officials that “technical issues” can at times impede the processing of an OPR application and that officials must transfer the application into the traditional system for final processing. Can you further explain these technical issues and what steps the agency is taking to fix these issues?

My office has been told that the agency is experiencing “an unprecedented volume of early demand for passports this year.” I commend officials at Passport Agencies across the country for their tireless work in adjudicating millions of passport applications each year. However, it appears that the OPR system’s flaws are directly inhibiting this effort, and I look forward to understanding how the agency will address existing challenges and improve the system for future use.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), joined by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), John Boozman (R-AR), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Roger Wicker (R-MS), reintroduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act - legislation to help curb the trend of hospital closures in rural communities by making sure hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government.

First introduced in 2020 as a response to the record number of rural hospitals that closed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 33 nationwide since 2020, the Save Rural Hospitals Act would amend the flawed Medicare Area Wage Index formula that has disproportionately harmed rural and low-income hospitals. Currently, many hospitals in rural areas lack the resources available to those in more populated areas to offer competitive salaries. Due to those salary differences, rural hospitals receive lower reimbursements from the federal government, which contributes to their lack of resources and perpetuates a harmful staffing crisis.  

The Save Rural Hospitals Act would establish a national minimum of 0.85 for the Medicare Area Wage Index, which is used to adjust a hospital’s overall payment from the Medicare program on the basis of geographic differences in labor costs, to ensure that rural hospitals receive fair payment for the care they provide. In Virginia alone, 16 hospitals across the Commonwealth would benefit from this floor being put in place.

“Rural hospitals across the country and the Commonwealth of Virginia are struggling to recruit and retain quality health care professionals,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation aims to ensure that all hospitals are able to deliver appropriate care by attracting employees and compensating them fairly for their lifesaving work – regardless of where they are located.”

“As I speak with Tennessee leaders and medical professionals, rural health care is a top priority. By establishing an appropriate national minimum to the Medicare hospital area wage index, we can help ensure rural hospitals have the resources to recruit and retain quality health care professionals. I’m pleased to join Senator Warner in this bipartisan effort,” said Sen. Blackburn.

The Save Rural Hospitals Act would offer a permanent fix to Medicare’s unfair Wage Index, which is harming rural and low-income hospitals. Earlier this year, Sens. Warner, Blackburn and a bipartisan group sent a letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure requesting a four-year extension of the current Low Wage Index Hospital Policy, which serves as a temporary fix, raising the payments of hospitals in the bottom wage index quartile.

“Rural hospitals must have the capacity to recruit and retain high-quality professionals to serve their communities,” said Beth O’Connor, Executive Director of the Virginia Rural Health Association. “The Save Rural Hospitals Act by Senators Warner, Kaine, and Blackburn will help ensure the Commonwealth’s rural hospitals can continue to do just that.”

“The unfortunate reality is that the survival of many rural hospitals is financially endangered – nearly 200 have closed across the U.S. since 2005, including two in Virginia. Protecting rural hospitals is vital to the health and well-being of people in less populated communities across the Commonwealth and the United States so they can access essential medical services whenever they need them,” said Sean T. Connaughton, President and CEO of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. “We applaud Senator Warner for sponsoring legislation, the Save Rural Hospitals Act, that recognizes the challenging conditions facing many rural hospitals and offers a common sense approach to appropriately adjust reimbursement rates so hospitals aren’t unfairly penalized under an outdated payment methodology that fails to account for current realities.”

“As hospitals across Tennessee face unprecedented financial and workforce challenges, I applaud Senator Blackburn for her leadership on critical legislation to address the flawed area wage index that has strained Tennessee hospitals for decades. Currently 73 percent of Tennessee hospitals are below the floor the Save Rural Hospitals Act would establish. This legislation will help to level the playing field and ensure patients across Tennessee have access to the care they need.”  Dr. Wendy Long, President and CEO, Tennessee Hospital Association

“In the struggle to provide health care access, rural hospitals are on the front line nationwide for large numbers of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Alan Levine, Executive Chairman and CEO of Ballad Health, an integrated delivery system in the Appalachian Highlands of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. “The Save Our Rural Hospitals Act will fix long-standing problems in Medicare payment policy which has underpaid rural hospitals year after year, leaving many struggling financially or at worst, closing. This bill recognizes that rural hospitals are increasingly having to recruit nationwide for nurses and other staff in short supply, and Medicare’s Area Wage Index adjustments must account for that.”

A copy of the bill text is available here.

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CLICK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD BROADCAST-QUALITY AUDIO AND VIDEO: 

ON THE COMMONWEALTH’S POLICY CHANGES 

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF AN EFFECTIVE ASHANTI ALERT SYSTEM 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) is applauding crucial changes to the deployment of the Ashanti Alert, which provides rapid dissemination of information to law enforcement agencies, media, and the public about adults who have been reported missing. This revised policy follows relentless advocacy by the Senator, who has worked publicly and behind the scenes to ensure that the Ashanti Alert is utilized effectively and able to save lives.

“I’m pleased to see the Commonwealth approach this issue in a thoughtful manner and act to ensure that the Ashanti Alert is able to achieve its intended purpose of saving lives. While it’s impossible to design a perfect system that prevents every tragedy, it’s my hope that Virginia’s revised missing person report form will increase transparency and clarity, and that the Commonwealth’s commitment to proactively contact local police to see if an Ashanti Alert is necessary will prevent urgent cases from slipping through the cracks. I look forward to seeing the Virginia State Police work to inform local law enforcement about the Ashanti Alert process and ensure that it is closely followed,” said Sen. Warner.

The revised policy – detailed in a letter from the Commonwealth of Virginia – comes in response to a formal inquiry by Sen. Warner, who wrote to the Youngkin administration in December expressing concern with the Ashanti Alert’s deployment. In the letter, the Senator underscored the case of Marie Covington, whose Ashanti Alert was issued two days after she was reported missing and two hours before she was found murdered. In the letter, the Senator posed a number of questions about the alert’s deployment, and urged the Youngkin administration to re-examine the criteria used to decide when and whether to issue an alert.

A champion for the Ashanti Alert, Sen. Warner secured unanimous passage of the Ashanti Alert Act through the Senate on December 6, 2018 and the bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018. Since its implementation, Sen. Warner has consistently secured $1 million annually in government spending to support states who chose to implement an Ashanti Alert system. That funding was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 government spending bill.

The Ashanti Alert Act is named after Ashanti Billie, the 19-year-old who was abducted in Norfolk, Va. on September 18, 2017. Her body was discovered in North Carolina 11 days after she was first reported missing. At the time of Ashanti’s abduction, she was too old for an Amber Alert and too young for a Silver Alert. The Ashanti Alert, like the other alert systems, would notify the public about missing or endangered adults through radio and television broadcast systems to assist law enforcement in the search.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) applauded passage of their legislation to preserve invaluable local resources and help generate economic activity in the Northern Neck. By officially designating the region as a National Heritage Area (NHA), the Northern Neck National Heritage Area Act will deliver critical federal dollars, encourage public-private partnerships, and assign a specific entity – the Northern Neck Tourism Commission – to help protect the Northern Neck’s natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources. After unanimously passing the Senate, the House voted today to approve the bill, which now heads to President Biden for his signature.

NPS defines National Heritage Areas as congressionally designated places where “natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.” Through their resources, NHAs communicate “nationally important stories” that celebrate the nation’s diverse heritage. Under this legislation, the NHA designation would apply to the land between the Potomac River and Rappahannock River, spanning King George, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland counties.

“The Northern Neck is a national treasure, and a source of immense pride, history and economic development for the Commonwealth,” said Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Wittman. “We’re proud to have worked together on this successful bipartisan effort to highlight the natural beauty of the Northern Neck and leverage federal dollars to spur long-lasting economic opportunity in the region.”

The legislation follows the completion of the Northern Neck National Heritage Area Feasibility Study, which concluded that the Northern Neck’s themes, local traditions, and natural and historic resources retain “sufficient integrity and opportunities for public engagement” to be eligible for an NHA designation.  

This legislation would also make federal funding available to the region and empower the Northern Neck Tourism Commission to carry out an area management plan by:

  1. Protecting and restoring relevant historic sites and buildings;
  2. Carrying out programs and projects that recognize, protect, and enhance important resources;
  3. Developing recreational and educational opportunities in the area;
  4. Establishing and maintaining interpretive exhibits and programs;
  5. Promoting a wide range of partnerships among the federal government, state, tribal and local governments, organizations, and individuals;
  6. Increasing public awareness and appreciation for natural, historical, scenic, and cultural resources in the area; and
  7. Ensuring that clear, consistent, and appropriate signs identifying points of public access and sires of interest are posted throughout the area.

“The Northern Neck has been working together for over 20 years in pursuit of the National Heritage Area Designation.  With designation, the Northern Neck Region will have a greater voice in sharing its stories which contribute to understanding the early origins of our nation. The National Heritage Area Designation recognizes the region for the special place it is, historically, culturally, and for its natural resources. It aligns with the region's tourism strategy as an important economic development driver in this rural area,” said Jerry W. Davis, AICP, Executive Director of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission.    

Sen. Warner, Sen. Kaine, and Rep. Wittman have long advocated for the designation of the Northern Neck as a National Heritage Area. The lawmakers previously penned a letter pressing for an update from the National Park Service on the area’s feasibility study following apparent delays in its release.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today wrote the Youngkin administration expressing concerns with the deployment of the Ashanti Alert, which provides rapid dissemination of information to law enforcement agencies, media, and the public about adults who have been reported missing, along with suspect information in cases of suspected abduction.

“Since the enactment of the state law in 2018, there have been eight Ashanti Alerts issued in Virginia. Data provided by the Virginia State Police (VSP) indicates that, of the eight alerts, three victims were safely located, three victims were found murdered, and two victims are currently unaccounted for. Based on these results, I am deeply concerned that the Ashanti Alert, as currently implemented, is not living up to its full potential,” Sen. Warner wrote. 

“The story of Marie Covington underscores this concern. Ms. Covington was last seen on August 17, 2022 at 9:57pm and was reported missing to Virginia Beach Police (VBP) by her family on August 18, 2022 at 10:25pm. Despite Covington’s disappearance meeting the activation criteria, VSP did not issue an Ashanti Alert until August 20, 2022 at 9:50pm – two days after she was reported missing. In that time period, police had already located her car, which was driven by the individual who was later arrested for her murder. The Ashanti Alert was issued only two hours before she was found deceased,” he continued. “The Ashanti Alert program was created to facilitate cooperation and improve communication between public safety entities, with the ultimate goal of saving the lives of endangered individuals. To that end, it is imperative that Ashanti Alerts in Virginia be issued promptly to maximize their effectiveness and serve their purpose.”

In order to ensure proper use of the alert, Sen. Warner requested answers to the following questions:

  1. What proportion of missing persons cases result in the issuance of an Ashanti Alert?
  2. In a specific case, who is responsible for making the determination that “abduction poses a credible threat,” as required by the Ashanti Alert program?
    1. What policies govern the substance of this determination?
    2. What policies govern the timing of this determination?
    3. Were these policies revised as a result of the delay in the Covington case?
  3. Why was an Ashanti Alert not issued in the Covington case until two days after Marie Covington was reported missing?
  4. In the seven cases for which we do not have data, how much time elapsed between the missing person report and the issuance of an Ashanti Alert?
  5. Who has general oversight authority over the implementation of the Ashanti Alert law?
    1. If there is no state official with this authority, why not?

Sen. Warner secured unanimous passage of the Ashanti Alert Act through the Senate on December 6, 2018 and the bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018. Since its implementation, Sen. Warner has consistently secured $1 million annually in government spending to support states who chose to implement an Ashanti Alert system. This funding is included in the Fiscal Year 2023 government spending bill that is being considered in the Senate.

A copy of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Governor Youngkin,

I write to you today regarding the execution of the Ashanti Alert program in the Commonwealth.

As you may be aware, in 2018, Virginia enacted the Critically Missing Adult Alert Plan, also known as the Ashanti Alert, following the tragic death of Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old who was abducted in Norfolk, Virginia and whose body was discovered 11 days after she was first reported missing. Because Ashanti was too old for an Amber Alert to be issued and no similar network for adults existed at the time, her parents, family, and friends struggled to get word out of her disappearance in a timely fashion.

In the Senate, I was proud to champion the bipartisan passage of the federal Ashanti Alert Act and have subsequently secured federal funding for its implementation every year since its enactment. Today, almost half of all states have a similar alert system that meets the requirements of the federal Ashanti Alert program.

Since the enactment of the state law in 2018, there have been eight Ashanti Alerts issued in Virginia. Data provided by the Virginia State Police (VSP) indicates that, of the eight alerts, three victims were safely located, three victims were found murdered, and two victims are currently unaccounted for. Based on these results, I am deeply concerned that the Ashanti Alert, as currently implemented, is not living up to its full potential.

The story of Marie Covington underscores this concern. Ms. Covington was last seen on August 17, 2022 at 9:57pm and was reported missing to Virginia Beach Police (VBP) by her family on August 18, 2022 at 10:25pm. Despite Covington’s disappearance meeting the activation criteria, VSP did not issue an Ashanti Alert until August 20, 2022 at 9:50pm – two days after she was reported missing. In that time period, police had already located her car, which was driven by the individual who was later arrested for her murder. The Ashanti Alert was issued only two hours before she was found deceased.

I know you share my goal of ensuring that we do everything in our power to make sure missing persons in Virginia are returned home safely. To that end, I am seeking the following information from your office:

  1. What proportion of missing persons cases result in the issuance of an Ashanti Alert?
  2. In a specific case, who is responsible for making the determination that “abduction poses a credible threat,” as required by the Ashanti Alert program?
    1. What policies govern the substance of this determination?
    2. What policies govern the timing of this determination?
    3. Were these policies revised as a result of the delay in the Covington case?
  3. Why was an Ashanti Alert not issued in the Covington case until two days after Marie Covington was reported missing?
  4. In the seven cases for which we do not have data, how much time elapsed between the missing person report and the issuance of an Ashanti Alert?
  5. Who has general oversight authority over the implementation of the Ashanti Alert law?
    1. If there is no state official with this authority, why not?

The Ashanti Alert program was created to facilitate cooperation and improve communication between public safety entities, with the ultimate goal of saving the lives of endangered individuals. To that end, it is imperative that Ashanti Alerts in Virginia be issued promptly to maximize their effectiveness and serve their purpose. Thus, I seek your cooperation and that of relevant state agencies and stakeholders in ensuring that the Ashanti Alert program succeeds in preventing future tragedies and protecting the safety of Americans.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $25,000,000 in federal funding for the expansion of I-64 in New Kent County. Awarded through the Department of Rural Surface Transportation Grant program (RURAL), this funding will add a third lane to I-64 in each direction, widen shoulders, add rumble strips and wider and flatter clear zones for an approximately 10-mile segment in New Kent County.

“This substantial investment for improvements to I-64 will make the highway safer, easier to travel, and help connect our rural communities,” the Senators said. “We see this grant as a sign of progress toward fulfilling the administration’s commitment to closing the I-64 gap by adding a third lane all the way from Hampton Roads to Richmond, but more work remains. We are glad to see the bipartisan infrastructure law continue to deliver funding that will help improve and ease the stress on Virginia’s highway system.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently pushed for infrastructure funding for Virginia to help fund much-needed improvement projects across the Commonwealth. As part of the bipartisan infrastructure law Sen. Warner helped negotiate and Sen. Kaine supported, the Department of Transportation’s RURAL grant program was created to provide funds that paved the way for investments in highway infrastructure throughout Virginia and the country. In May, Sen. Kaine led a push that Sen. Warner joined to urge the U.S. Department of Transportation to make investments to reduce congestion in the I-64 corridor between Richmond and Hampton Roads.

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* High-quality photographs of Sen. Mark R. Warner are available for download here *

Photos may be used online and in print, and can be attributed to ‘The Office of Sen. Mark R. Warner’

 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that $29,856 in federal funding will be awarded to three credit unions in Virginia. The funding, classified as Digital Service and Cybersecurity grants, will go towards strengthening the credit unions’ cybersecurity systems, acquiring technology that allows employees to work remotely, or implementing digital services for members like mobile or online banking. The grants, awarded through the National Credit Union Administration’s 2022 Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, are specifically designed to support low-income credit unions and underserved consumers.

“Credit unions help ensure all Virginians have access to the financial resources they need to save for their families, buy a home, or start a business,” the senators said. “This funding will directly support these organizations’ operations so that they can continue to reach out to underserved communities in the Commonwealth.” 

The funding is distributed as follows:

  • $10,000 for the Virginia Educators Credit Union in Newport News, VA.
  • $10,000 for RVA Financial in Richmond, VA.
  • $9,856 for the Richmond Heritage Federal Credit Union in Richmond, VA.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long worked to ensure that underserved communities have better access to financial services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sens. Warner and Kaine secured funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) in pandemic relief packages modeled after Sen. Warner’s Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act.

Most recently, Sen. Warner launched the bipartisan Senate Community Development Finance Caucus to serve as a platform where policymakers can coordinate and expand on public and private-sector efforts in support of the missions of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $6,999,632 in federal funding for the Hampton Roads Community Action Program and Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley to provide training and career counseling services to incarcerated individuals so that they are prepared for employment opportunities and able to successfully transition into the workforce following their release.

“By expanding employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated Virginians, we can help them successfully transition back into the community, reduce recidivism, and strengthen our neighborhoods,” said the senators. “This federal funding will help individuals find employment and stay on the right track.”

The funding is distributed as follows:

  • $3,999,633 for the Hampton Roads Community Action Program, Inc. in Newport News
  • $2,999,999 for Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, Inc. in Roanoke

The grants were awarded through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA)’s Pathway Homes program, which works to improve employability outcomes for adults during the reentry process from incarceration. 

In 2018, Warner and Kaine voted to pass the First Step Actwhich reauthorized grant funding for state and local reentry programs that reduce recidivism. In 2015, Warner and Kaine successfully urged President Obama to “ban the box” on federal job applications to help expand job opportunities and reduce recidivism among ex-offenders. “Ban the Box” refers to the section on job application forms that inquired whether the applicant has ever been convicted.

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), and U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott and Elaine Luria (both D-VA), issued the following statement, applauding an additional $223,871,000 in federal funding for key Virginia projects, including the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening Project, the City of Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project, and the Virginia Beach Coastal Storm Risk Management Study:

“We’re elated to see the bipartisan infrastructure law continue to deliver wins for Hampton Roads. This funding will advance key infrastructure projects in the region that will invest in the Port of Virginia, boost the local economy, create good-paying jobs, and preserve Virginia’s status as a leader in maritime trade and defense. We’re particularly excited to see that this funding will allow Virginia Beach to initiate its Coastal Storm Risk Management Study – an important step in protecting the community from the devastating effects of climate change.” 

This funding, awarded through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), was made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law, which was negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine and Reps. Scott and Luria.

The Norfolk Harbor Deepening and Widening Project will receive an additional $72,371,000 to improve navigation and expand capacity by deepening and widening Norfolk Harbor’s shipping channels. Specifically, $40 million will be used to dredge and widen Thimble Shoal Channel West. $32,371,000 will be used to complete the remaining features of the project, including the Atlantic Ocean Channel and the channel to Newport News. This project received $69,331,000 through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in January 2022 and an additional $83,700,000 in March 2022 through the Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus. Completion of this project will enable safer access for larger commercial and military vessels and provide significant new economic opportunities for the region.

The City of Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project will receive an additional $150,000,000, to build the downtown Norfolk to Ghent floodwalls with gates at the Hague. This funding will also go towards continuing designs for phases within other portions of the city, and starting on the non-structural flood neighbor components of the project. This project received $249,331,000 through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in January 2022 to initiate construction. When completed, this project will help reduce and manage flooding for major portions of the City of Norfolk through a system of surge barriers, tidal gates, floodwalls, levees, pump stations, and non-structural measures.

The Virginia Beach and Vicinity Coastal Storm Risk Management Study will receive $1,500,000 to initiate and complete the project’s feasibility study phase. Sens. Warner and Kaine and Rep. Luria have long advocated for federal funding to support this project, which is crucial to the long-term vitality and resilience of the City of Virginia Beach and the entire Coastal Virginia region.

Sens. Warner and Kaine and Reps. Scott and Luria have long worked to secure funding for these key projects. In January, they applauded $369 million in federal funding for a number of projects awarded through the USACE. The lawmakers have consistently urged the Biden administration and the USACE for funding to start construction on the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project, including in 2020 and 2021. They similarly pressed for funding for the Norfolk Harbor Project in 2020 and 2021. In 2018, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully got Norfolk Harbor and the Virginia Beach and Vicinity Coastal Storm Risk Management Study authorized as part of the Water Resources Development Act. They also successfully pushed for the authorization of construction of the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project as part of the 2020 Water Resources Development Act.   

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 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $1,530,000 in federal funding awarded to school districts across the Commonwealth. The funds were administered through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of two programs: the 2021 American Rescue Plan Electric School Bus Rebates and the annual 2021 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates. The funds will go towards the replacement of old diesel school buses with new electric, propane, compressed natural gas, diesel or gasoline buses that will reduce harmful emissions in the environment.

“We are glad to see so many Virginia school districts receive funding to invest in electric school buses and cleaner vehicles,” the Senators said. “This investment will significantly benefit our communities by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to helping Virginia school districts compete for additional funding through the $5 billion clean and electric school bus grant program in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”  

The funds will be broken down as follows:

  • $900,000 for three school buses for Petersburg City Public Schools as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Electric School Bus Rebates.

This new program provides funds to replace old diesel school buses with new, zero-emission electric school buses. The funds are reserved exclusively for school districts in underserved communities, Tribal schools, and private fleets serving those schools.

  • $250,000 for 10 buses for Newport News Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $200,000 for 10 buses for Loudoun County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $100,000 for five buses for Carroll County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $80,000 for four buses for Culpeper County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.

This program funds the replacement of old diesel school buses with new electric, diesel, gasoline, propane, or compressed natural gas school buses meeting current emission standards.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced the designation of $52,738,308 in federal funding awarded to the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads to make up for lost revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are glad to see these federal dollars go directly to Hampton Roads to invest in the region’s transportation grid,” the Senators said. “As we continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that the federal government continue to provide the assistance needed to aid economic recovery.” 

“This funding will enable Hampton Roads Transit to execute the Board’s multi-year strategy of providing critical transit services to support the recovery and resilience of the regional economy,”  President and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit William Harrell said. “This federal allotment will help mitigate ongoing risks and ensure long-term sustainability and operational performance of transit that supports citizens going to work, school, medical appointments, and other lifeline destinations. We applaud our Federal Delegation and Administration for their commitment to our great nation!”

ARP Additional Assistance Funding is awarded to transit systems demonstrating a need for additional assistance to cover operating expenses related to maintaining day-to-day operations, cleaning and sanitization, combating the spread of pathogens on transit systems and maintaining critical staffing levels. This funding is supplemental to the $56,164,715 in Federal Transit Authority (FTA) Urbanized Area Formula funds distributed through ARP.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led the entire Virginia Congressional Delegation in requesting that the Biden administration continue its support of the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project by including at least $76.9 million in federal funding for the project in President Biden’s FY23 budget request.

In a letter to President Biden, the members stressed the importance of securing these funds in FY23 to ensure that the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project remains on schedule to be completed by early 2025. This critical project is expected to expand Norfolk Harbor’s shipping channels and ensure that larger commercial and military vessels can continue to pass through Norfolk Harbor safely, especially in light of the rapid growth of vessels entering maritime trade.

“Allocating the remaining $76.9 million of the Federal share to Norfolk Harbor in Fiscal Year 2023 is essential to keep this nationally significant project on track for completion by early 2025 and allow the Norfolk District to award the Inner Harbor segment in a timely manner,” the lawmakers wrote. 

“The Port of Virginia is one of the Commonwealth’s most powerful economic engines. On an annual basis, the Port is responsible for more than 400,000 jobs and $100 billion in spending across our Commonwealth and generates more than eight percent of our Gross State Product. However, the Port’s true reach extends throughout the Mid-Atlantic and into the Midwest and Ohio Valley. The Port maintains a balanced portfolio of container and bulk trade, and it serves a robust rail market to and from the American farmers and manufacturers throughout the Midwest and Ohio Valley,” they continued. 

The Norfolk Harbor project was included in President Biden’s FY22 budget request as a construction New Start. The proposed funds for the project were subsequently included in the FY22 House and Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee spending bills that are currently pending before Congress.

Last year, Sen. Warner led the Virginia Congressional Delegation in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) requesting a New Start designation for the project in the USACE Fiscal Year 2021 Work Plan – a request that was also made in 2020. In December, Sen. Warner led members of the Virginia Congressional Delegation in requesting funding for Norfolk Harbor through the resources made available to USACE by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was granted by USACE on January 19, 2022. In July 2021, Sen. Kaine advocated for the project to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor as part of his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Furthermore, in 2018, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully fought for the inclusion of the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project, in addition to other coastal resiliency programs, in the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act.

In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was signed by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and Bob Good (R-VA).

Full text of the letter is here and below.

Dear President Biden:

As representatives from the Commonwealth of Virginia, home to the Port of Virginia – the fifth largest and fastest growing port in the nation – we write today concerning the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Widening and Deepening project and your FY23 budget request. We respectfully request that you include $76.9 million in funding for the Norfolk Harbor project in your FY23 budget request to ensure this nationally significant project continues to move forward on schedule.

The Port of Virginia is one of the Commonwealth’s most powerful economic engines. On an annual basis, the Port is responsible for more than 400,000 jobs and $100 billion in spending across our Commonwealth and generates more than eight percent of our Gross State Product. However, the Port’s true reach extends throughout the Mid-Atlantic and into the Midwest and Ohio Valley. The Port maintains a balanced portfolio of container and bulk trade, and it serves a robust rail market to and from the American farmers and manufacturers throughout the Midwest and Ohio Valley.

The deepening and widening of Norfolk Harbor is essential to continue safe and timely passage of ever-increasing commercial and military vessels through the harbor. Deepening Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet from its current 50 feet depth and widening Thimble Shoal Channel to 1,400 feet will enable safe, two-way traffic in and out of the harbor and will help prevent delays to commercial and military vessels – a necessity in today’s global trading landscape. Expanding Norfolk Harbor to allow for two-way traffic will also help prevent backlogs of commercial vessels that could cause costly delays and supply chain disruptions that are currently affecting some port facilities across the U.S.

We are pleased that the Norfolk Harbor project recently received a New Start designation and an initial tranche of Federal funding that will allow the Port and USACE to initiate a Project Partnership Agreement. As the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations process continues, the additional $83.7 million, which was originally included in the President’s FY22 Budget request and has been carried forward in both the House and Senate’s Fiscal Year 2022 Energy and Water Appropriations bills, will allow the Norfolk District to advertise the Atlantic Ocean Channel segment this summer.

The Commonwealth of Virginia provided full funding of $20 million for Preconstruction Engineering and Design and $330 million for construction in its FY19-20 biennial budget. The deepening of Thimble Shoal Channel – West as well as the deepening and widening of Thimble Shoal Channel – East are both currently under construction with scheduled completion by August 2022. Both contracts are funded and administered by the Port and are in full compliance with Federal standards under a Memorandum of Understanding with USACE in July 2017. Further, the construction work is eligible as Work-In-Kind once a Project Partnership Agreement is signed, which may happen as soon as this month now that Federal funds have been received.

However, a recent Army Corps cost estimate update and approval of the previously authorized widening of Thimble Shoal Channel – West as a cost-shared element of the project have increased the projected Federal share of the project to $235.9 million. Allocating the remaining $76.9 million of the Federal share to Norfolk Harbor in Fiscal Year 2023 is essential to keep this nationally significant project on track for completion by early 2025 and allow the Norfolk District to award the Inner Harbor segment 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. Completion of 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 $3.9 billion in net national economic development benefits. 

Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions regarding this request. We look forward to continue working with you to support this critical project for Virginia and our nation’s ports

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), and U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott and Elaine Luria (both D-VA), applauded $369,000,000 in federal funding for a number of key projects, including the City of Norfolk’s Coastal Storm Risk Management project and the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project. This funding, awarded through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), was made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law, which was negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine and Reps. Scott and Luria.

“We applaud the Biden administration and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for recognizing the invaluable role the Port of Virginia and Norfolk Harbor have in supporting our nation’s economy. Additionally, we applaud the administration’s significant investment in the City of Norfolk to protect this community from the increasing threat of rising seas and significant flood events. After years of advocating for this funding, we are thrilled that Virginia will receive the federal dollars it needs to carry out these projects, which will help further strengthen our supply chains, mitigate the growing risks of sea level rise, and secure our economic and national security interests in and around the region,” said the lawmakers. “These projects are just a few examples of how the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is starting to work for the American people by providing the resources needed to improve communities and create jobs.”

The City of Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project will receive $249,331,000 to initiate the first construction contract of the project, which will help reduce and manage flooding for major portions of the city through a system of surge barriers, tidal gates, floodwalls, levees, pump stations, and non-structural measures.

The Norfolk Harbor Deepening and Widening Project will receive $69,331,000 to improve navigation and expand capacity by deepening and widening the harbor’s shipping channels. This will enable safer access for larger commercial and naval vessels and provide significant new economic opportunities to the region.

Other funding awarded to Virginia through the USACE FY22 Work Plan includes:

  • $281,295 and $2.2 million for Eastern Shore and Southwest Virginia
  • $120,000 for Indian Run
  • $300,000 for Hampton Roads Beneficial Use 
  • $325,000 for Manchester Canal
  • $3.5 million for Gathright Dam and Lake Moomaw
  • $11.525 million for John H Kerr Lake 
  • $2.56 million for Lynnhaven Inlet
  • $5.675 million for Milford Haven
  • $24.4 million for Philpott Lake

Sens. Warner and Kaine and Reps. Scott and Luria have long worked to secure funding for these key projects. They have consistently urged the Biden administration and the USACE for funding to start construction on the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project, including in 2020 and 2021. They similarly pressed for funding for the Norfolk Harbor Project in 2020 and 2021. In 2018, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully got Norfolk Harbor authorized for construction as part of the Water Resources Development Act. They also successfully pushed for the authorization of the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project as part of the 2020 Water Resources Development Act.   

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced that the Virginia Port Authority will receive $20 million in funding from the Department of Transportation for improvements to Portsmouth Marine Terminal that will allow it to serve as a staging area to support the manufacturing and movement of offshore wind goods to support the 2.6 gigawatt Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project and other commercial offshore wind projects up-and-down the East Coast.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia has firmly established itself as a leader in the burgeoning offshore wind industry in the U.S.,” said the Senators. “This funding is a recognition of the Commonwealth’s leadership in this space and will go a long way towards establishing Virginia as a hub for offshore wind development along the East Coast.”

This funding was awarded through the Department of Transportation’s Port Infrastructure Development Program, a competitive discretionary grant program administered by the Maritime Administration. In September 2021, Warner, Kaine, and Rep. Scott led a Virginia Congressional Delegation letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in support of the Port’s grant application.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) were joined by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) and Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) in sending a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting the inclusion of at least $60 million in funding to start construction on the City of Norfolk’s Coastal Storm Risk Management Project. This funding is being requested as part of the amount made available to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

In their letter, the lawmakers highlighted the importance of this project, which will serve as a much needed solution to help protect the area as the region suffers increased damage and weather-related harm due to climate change. 

“The rate of sea level rise within the city and surrounding area is one of the highest along the East Coast, exacerbating the city’s vulnerability to flood events. Recent storms that resulted in significant flood events for Norfolk include Hurricane Isabel in 2003, the November 2009 nor’easter, Hurricane Irene in 2011, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. For these reasons, USACE identified Norfolk as one of the nine areas of high risk by the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS),” the lawmakers wrote. 

The Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project establishes a system of surge barriers, tidal gates, floodwalls, levees, pump stations, and non-structural measures to reduce and manage flooding including:

  • The Ghent, Hague / Downtown Structural System  – This system includes a 600 linear foot (lf) storm surge barrier with a pump and power station. The surge barrier would tie into approximately 27,236 (lf) of constructed floodwall and 2,582 (lf) of earthen levee. Four pump stations and tide gates would also be constructed and operated for interior drainage. In addition, Natural and Nature Based Features (NNBF) include approximately 7,200 (lf) of living shoreline and 5,250 (lf) of oyster reef.  Mitigation includes an additional 3,800 (lf) of living shoreline.
  • Pretty Lake Structural System – This system would include a storm surge barrier approximately 114 (lf) long with a pump and power station. This feature would tie into 5,642 (lf) of floodwall. In addition, NNBF include approximately 560 (lf) of oyster reef.  Mitigation includes approximately 2,375 (lf) of living shoreline.
  • Lafayette River Structural System – This system includes a storm surge barrier of approximately 6,634 (lf) with a power station. The feature would tie into 1,535 (lf) of constructed earthen levee. Three tide gates would be constructed and operated. NNBF includes approximately 6,200 (lf) of living shoreline and 3,290 lf of oyster reef.  Mitigation includes 5,150 (lf) of living shoreline and 1,100 lf of wetland.
  • Broad Creek Structural System – This system would include a storm surge of approximately 1,291 (lf) with a power station. The storm surge barrier would tie into approximately 8,787 (lf) of floodwall. One pump station and four tide gates would also be constructed and operated for interior drainage.

The lawmakers previously requested funds for the projects as part of Army Corps FY 2020 Work Plan. 

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

The Honorable Shalanda Young

Acting Director

Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20503

 

The Honorable Michael L. Connor

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

441 G Street, NW

Washington, DC 20314 

 

Dear Acting Director Young and Assistant Secretary Connor:

We write today concerning the City of Norfolk’s Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) project and funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) made available in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). We respectfully request the inclusion of at least $60 million in the IIJA USACE spend plan to initiate the first construction contract of this essential $1.6 billion project for the City of Norfolk.

The City of Norfolk, with a population of approximately 240,000, is highly vulnerable to flooding from coastal storms and rising sea levels. The rate of sea level rise within the city and surrounding area is one of the highest along the East Coast, exacerbating the city’s vulnerability to flood events. Recent storms that resulted in significant flood events for Norfolk include Hurricane Isabel in 2003, the November 2009 nor’easter, Hurricane Irene in 2011, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. For these reasons, USACE identified Norfolk as one of the nine areas of high risk by the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS).

The recommended project is the result of the Final Integrated City of Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement, Norfolk, Virginia, that concluded in February 2019 with a Report of the Chief of Engineers. The City of Norfolk CSRM project consists of a system of surge barriers, tidal gates, floodwalls, levees, pump stations, and non-structural measures to reduce and manage flooding for major portions of the city.

The estimated total cost of construction for the Norfolk CSRM project is approximately $1.6 billion, with an estimated Federal cost of $1.043 billion and an estimated non-Federal cost of $562 million. The Norfolk District USACE Office has indicated it is able to begin construction on this project and accept at least $60 million in Federal funding to initiate the Federal share of the Downtown to Harbor Park floodwall element. Utilizing funding from the IIJA to initiate construction of the Norfolk CSRM project would help move the project forward toward reducing risk for our constituents from the threats of ever-increasing storms and sea level rise, while also helping to secure nationally significant economic and military interests located in and around Norfolk.

The City of Norfolk’s CSRM project is a critical priority for the Hampton Roads region and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events will always be a concern for Norfolk. Each additional year it takes to construct this CSRM project provides another opportunity for the next extreme weather event to wreak havoc on our constituents in Norfolk. By investing in this project, we can help mitigate future risk and save money on future disaster relief, while providing the people of Norfolk with increased assurance of safety in the event of future extreme weather events.

Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions regarding this request.

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led members of the Virginia congressional delegation in requesting at least $159 million in federal funding for the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project. In a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Shalanda Young and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor, the lawmakers requested that this funding be approved in part through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan, and through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

“Deepening Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet from its current 50 feet depth and widening Thimble Shoal Channel to 1,400 feet will enable safe, two-way traffic in and out of the harbor and will help prevent delays to commercial and military vessels – a necessity in today’s global trading landscape,” the lawmakers wrote. “Expanding Norfolk Harbor to allow for two-way traffic will also help prevent backlogs of commercial vessels that could cause costly delays and supply chain disruptions that are currently affecting some port facilities across the U.S.”

In their letter, the Members of Congress stressed the importance of federal funds in enabling the project’s on-time completion, as well as the important role the Port of Virginia plays in both the state and national economy.

“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. 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 $3.9 billion in net national economic development benefits,” they continued. 

Specifically, the lawmakers requested that a minimum of $75.3 million in funding be made available through the bipartisan infrastructure law that was passed earlier this year. These federal dollars would go towards fully funding construction of the inner harbor and advancing construction of the Atlantic Ocean Channel – measures that would help address capacity constraints at the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area.

Additionally, the lawmakers requested that at least $83.7 million in funding be maintained in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan, which allocates funding for civil works projects across the nation each fiscal year. Earlier this year, Sen. Warner celebrated the inclusion of $83.7 million in funding for the Norfolk Harbor project in President Biden’s budget request. These proposed funds were subsequently included in the spending bills approved by the House and Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittees. If included in the FY22 Work Plan, these federal dollars would fund construction for the Newport News Channel and a portion of the inner harbor.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long been strong advocates for the Norfolk Harbor project. In February, Sen. Warner spoke about the importance of the project during a Senate Banking Committee hearing. Sen. Warner also led the Virginia congressional delegation in a letter to OMB requesting a New Start designation for the project in January of this year. This request was also made in 2020. In July, Sen. Kaine advocated for the project to Assistant Secretary Connor as part of his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In 2018, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully fought for the inclusion of the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project, in addition to other coastal resiliency programs, in the bipartisan water infrastructure bill.

In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was signed by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Donald McEachin (D-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

Full text of the letter is here and below.

The Honorable Shalanda Young

Acting Director

Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20503

 

The Honorable Michael L. Connor

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

441 G Street, NW

Washington, DC 20314 

 

Dear Acting Director Young and Assistant Secretary Connor:

As lawmakers representing the Commonwealth of Virginia, we write today concerning funding needs for the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Widening and Deepening project. In order to keep this essential project for Virginia on schedule, we request at least $159 million in federal funding in Fiscal Year 2022 through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan and funding made available through the recently enacted bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

The Port of Virginia is one of the largest and busiest ports on the East Coast and is one of the Commonwealth’s most powerful economic engines. Annually, the Port of Virginia is responsible for more than 400,000 jobs and $92 billion in spending across Virginia and generates more than seven and half percent of the Commonwealth’s Gross State Product. The Port’s reach also extends throughout the Mid-Atlantic and into the Ohio Valley and Midwest. U.S. exports account for more than half of its container movements and serve a robust rail market to and from American farmers and manufacturers throughout the Midwest and Ohio Valley.

The widening and deepening of Norfolk Harbor is essential to continue safe and timely passage of ever-increasing commercial and military vessels through the harbor. Deepening Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet from its current 50 feet depth and widening Thimble Shoal Channel to 1,400 feet will enable safe, two-way traffic in and out of the harbor and will help prevent delays to commercial and military vessels – a necessity in today’s global trading landscape. Expanding Norfolk Harbor to allow for two-way traffic will also help prevent backlogs of commercial vessels that could cause costly delays and supply chain disruptions that are currently affecting some port facilities across the U.S.

Construction on the first constructible element of the Norfolk Harbor project, deepening Thimble Shoal Channel – West, began in December 2019, 18 months ahead of schedule. In August 2021, the Port awarded a contract to deepen and widen Thimble Shoal Channel – East. Both segments are scheduled to be complete by August 2022. Both contracts are funded and administered by the Port and are in full compliance with federal standards under a Memorandum of Understanding with USACE in July 2017. Further, the construction work is eligible as Work-In-Kind once a Project Partnership Agreement is signed. The Commonwealth of Virginia has provided full funding of $20 million for Preconstruction Engineering and Design and $330 million for construction in its FY19-20 biennial budget.

We were pleased that the President’s FY22 Budget Request included $83.7 million and a New Start designation for the Norfolk Harbor project. We were also pleased to see this funding maintained in the House and Senate Fiscal Year 2022 Energy and Water Subcommittee Appropriations bills. As the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations process continues, we respectfully request this amount be maintained in the USACE Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan. This amount will fund construction for the Newport News Channel and a portion of the inner harbor. In addition, we request at least $75.3 million in funding through the recently signed IIJA to fully fund inner harbor construction and advance Atlantic Ocean Channel construction to address capacity constraints at the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area. Allocating at least $159 million in federal funding to Norfolk Harbor in Fiscal Year 2022 will allow this nationally significant project to remain on track for completion by early 2025.

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. 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 $3.9 billion in net national economic development benefits. Completion of this project will also support the construction of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project – a 2.6-gigawatt commercial offshore wind project off Virginia’s coast that will power up to 660,000 Virginia homes and the Commonwealth’s push to become a hub for offshore wind development along the East Coast.

Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions regarding this request. We look forward to continue working with you to support this critical project for Virginia and our nation’s ports and harbors.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner and Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded $1,502,141 in federal funding the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded to the Hampton Roads Workforce Council to support job training and reemployment services for unemployed and underemployed Virginians in Hampton Roads. This funding was provided by DOL’s Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery (CAREER) National Dislocated Worker Grant program, which supports organizations serving individuals most affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19, in particular those from historically marginalized communities.

“As the economy continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, we must ensure that Virginians most affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19 have access to the resources they need to enter or reenter the workforce,” said the Senators. “We are pleased to see this federal funding go toward helping Virginians access jobs that will be part of our economic recovery.” 

CAREER National Dislocated Worker Grants fund various reemployment services that help job seekers with search assistance, career guidance, and child care and transportation costs. Recipients can deliver training services in classroom, virtual, or work-based settings. They can also use grants to develop or upgrade virtual services, online platforms, data structures, and other technological improvements to support accessibility for job seekers. 

Both Warner and Kaine have been leaders in the Senate on efforts to support job training programs to prepare students for good-paying, in-demand jobs and help Virginians get back to work amid COVID-19. In March, Kaine reintroduced his bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, cosponsored by Warner, legislation to help improve access to job training programs by expanding Pell Grant eligibility. 

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