Press Releases

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, (both D-VA) today applauded the Senate’s passage of the Dr. Emmanuel Bilirakis and Honorable Jennifer Wexton National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act, legislation they cosponsored, which will direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set up a National Parkinson’s Project, under which HHS would create and update a national plan to address Parkinson’s and related conditions, provide an estimate of research needs, and establish an advisory council that would report to Congress. The legislation now heads to President Biden for his signature.

In April 2023, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) shared her diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, and in September of last year, her diagnosis was upgraded to progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare and incurable brain disorder that rapidly deteriorates mobility and speech.

“Our friend Jennifer Wexton has been a model of grace and perseverance in the face of a difficult diagnosis,” said the senators. “This legislation bearing her name will help all those who are suffering with Parkinson’s and related conditions, and we are proud to see it head to the president’s desk for signature.”

The National Parkinson’s Project is modeled after the National Alzheimer’s Project which, as co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, Sen. Warner led efforts to introduce and pass. Sen. Kaine’s bipartisan Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Reauthorization Act, legislation to reauthorize funding for public health initiatives across the country to combat Alzheimer’s disease and preserve brain health, passed out of the Senate HELP Committee this week. 

### 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after Senate Republicans defeated a bipartisan bill to address the situation at the U.S. southern border:

“This failed vote is the epitome of Washington dysfunction: after years of bellyaching about the situation at the U.S. southern border, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have shut down a border bill authored by a member of their very own party. It’s been nearly 40 years since Congress last reformed our immigration system, and it shows. The dysfunction at the border, the illegal movement of fentanyl through our ports of entry, the broken system in place for fearful asylum seekers – it’s a shame that Congress would turn down the opportunity to tackle all of these challenges today with the first real bipartisan immigration compromise we’ve seen in over a decade. As the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I worry this failure to address the situation at the border will only serve the interests of bad actors looking to jeopardize our national security. I will continue to push for solutions to fix this broken system.”

###

WASHINGTON – The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025 (IAA) today by a unanimous 17-0 vote. The bill authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).

“The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025 reflects the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan commitment to ensuring America’s intelligence agencies have the authorities and resources they need to protect against rapidly evolving conflicts and threats,” said Committee Chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA). “This year’s bill enhances the IC’s ability to identify and counter emerging technological threats posed by adversarial nations, including foreign adversaries’ efforts to use and dominate areas like artificial intelligence, biotechnologies, and next-generation energy. The IAA also designates foreign ransomware organizations as hostile cyber actors and ensures the IC has the tools it needs to counter economic coercion and illicit technology transfer, in particular by the People’s Republic of China. It also reforms the nation’s security classification system, strengthens the security of our election systems, and furthers the Committee’s efforts to ensure the IC can attract and expeditiously on-board a talented, diverse, and trusted workforce to meet the emerging challenges we face.”

“Our Intelligence Authorization Act represents significant improvements to our national security tools, legal authorities, Intelligence Community workforce, and ensures resources are focused on the most pressing threats, specifically from China, Russia, Iran, and their partners, including Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea, as well as terrorist organizations,” said Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “Importantly, this bill takes unprecedented steps to address counterintelligence risks to our  National Laboratories by prohibiting visitors from foreign adversary nations thereby protecting America’s research and competitive advantage. I look forward to moving our bipartisan legislation to the full Senate and final enactment.”

Background:

The IAA for Fiscal Year 2025 authorizes funding for the IC and ensures that it has the resources, personnel, and authorities it needs to protect our country and inform decision makers, while ensuring continued robust congressional oversight. The bill’s provisions focus on the following key areas:

  • Increases oversight of the national security threats posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including its attempts to evade sanctions and regulations, military capabilities, and investments in, and attempts to dominate, the supply chains of artificial intelligence (AI), next-generation energy technologies, and biotechnology, among others.
  • Enhances the IC’s ability to identify and counter threats relating to biotechnologies, including by improving and modernizing the roles, missions, and objectives of the National Counterproliferation and Biosecurity Center and by directing the IC to identify PRC plans, intentions, and timelines relating to illicit uses of biotechnologies.
  • Enhances sanctions enforcement against terrorist and ransomware organizations and revokes foreign nationals’ visas if they endorse/espouse terrorist activity.
  • Enhances policies relating to AI, including by requiring the President to develop procedures to ensure that Federal agencies better engage the private security on AI system-related threats, as well as establishing an AI Security Center within the National Security Agency to advance AI security research.
  • Enhances the IC’s ability to procure, transition, and incorporate emerging technologies, including by creating a fund for acquiring and transitioning such technologies.
  • Increases the IC’s focus on the growing threats to the United States by ISIS and affiliated terrorist organizations.
  • Promotes reform of the nation’s security classification system, by requiring the President to designate an Executive Agent for Classification and Declassification, improving the system for the classification and declassification of information, and requiring each Federal agency with access to classified information to establish an insider threat program to protect against unauthorized disclosures.
  • Prohibits entry into the Department of Energy National Laboratories by foreign nationals from adversary countries who pose counterintelligence risks.
  • Builds upon the Committee’s efforts relating to energy security by requiring a strategy to improve information sharing between the IC and the private sector regarding foreign adversary-based threats to U.S. critical minerals and other energy-related projects abroad.
  • Requires the IC to conduct an assessment of the likely course of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, and the effects of Western support to Ukraine.
  • Requires the IC to conduct an assessment of the Israel-Hamas war.
  • Improves oversight related to the Western Hemisphere, specifically when it comes to national security implications of visa-free travel by certain foreign nationals.
  • Enhances insight into the Venezuela Maduro regime’s relationship with state sponsors of terrorism and foreign terrorist organizations.
  • Requires the IC to establish an IC-wide policy authorizing a program for contractor-based sensitive compartmented information facilities, to improve public-private cooperation on technology innovation.
  • Requires a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office regarding unidentified anomalous phenomena reporting and Federal agency coordination.
  • Reforms management of controlled access programs to improve Congressional oversight.
  • Enhances election security by requiring that voting systems undergo penetration testing for certification processes.
  • Maintains strong congressional oversight of and enhances protections for IC whistleblowers.
  • Ensures continued support to the victims of anomalous health incidents (AHIs or “Havana Syndrome”) by improving funding flexibility for payments to qualified victims.
  • Safeguards important voluntary investments in watermarking and content authenticity by generative AI firms by establishing penalties for services that deliberately facilitate removal of those voluntary protections.

###

 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Renewable Natural Gas Incentive Act, bipartisan legislation to provide a tax credit for heavy-duty vehicles that use renewable natural gas.

“I am proud to introduce this legislation that will accelerate investment in clean vehicles and help lower emissions from the transportation sector,” said Sen. Warner. “This tax credit will help incentivize the use of clean, reliable, and affordable fuel sources and continue to aid the transition to a clean economy while creating good-paying jobs and reducing our reliance on foreign energy.”

“Renewable natural gas is a clean, affordable, and reliable fuel source that provide sustainable transportation for fuel industries across the country,” said Sen. Tillis. “This bill incentivizes the use of clean energy while promoting economic growth through lowering the cost of doing business and decreasing reliance on foreign energy. I am proud to introduce this commonsense legislation which will safeguard America’s energy independence.”  

Background:

Despite its ultra-low emissions and ability to deliver economic growth as a scalable alternative energy source, renewable natural gas received a lower tax credit than similar transportation fuels. The Renewable Natural Gas Incentive Act would create a $1.00 per gallon tax credit for sellers of renewable natural gas used for transportation.

Full text of the bill is available here

 

###

WASHINGTON –Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), and Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) introduced the Enabling New Agile Buying-power and Leveraging Enhancements in Intelligence Community (ENABLE IC) Acquisitions Act, which would enable the IC to streamline acquisition processes and give priority to small business concerns and nontraditional defense contractors: 

“Our adversaries are rapidly advancing their technological capabilities, and so must we,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation helps ensure that the Intelligence Community has the support, funding, and flexibility it needs to acquire and integrate the most cutting-edge emerging technologies to protect our national security.”

“There are important advancements in intelligence products being made in the private sector, but our intelligence agencies must fight bureaucratic delays throughout the acquisition process,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would give our Intelligence Community the flexibility it needs to speed up the acquisition of cutting-edge technologies and leverage American innovation across the country to get the most capable tools into the hands of our intelligence collectors and analysts.”

 “Our Intelligence Community works hard every day to protect our nation without any recognition or glory, but they are also fighting our own government with the amount of time it takes to process newer technology,” said Sen. Lankford. “The bad actors and foreign adversaries who are coming after us every day are not going to wait around while our Intelligence Community waits on bureaucratic delays. Our nation must have the ability to stop whatever new technology is being used against us without unnecessary delays.”

“Ensuring our Intelligence Community can get timely access to state-of-the-art products and tools will strengthen our national security and help us maintain an edge over adversaries,” said Sen. Kelly. “By cutting unnecessary red tape, our bill provides new acquisition options, further drives national security innovation, and ensures the U.S. is always one step ahead.”

Background:

In light of global threats to national security, acquisition leaders in the Intelligence Community must be able to explore the use of private capital partnerships to secure technological advantages for the intelligence community through the identification, development, and transfer of promising technologies to full-scale programs capable of meeting IC requirements.

This legislation would create a fund to assist in transitioning useful IC products from the research and development phase to the contracting and production phase, with priority given to small business concerns and nontraditional defense contractors. It would also enable the IC to use streamlined acquisition processes and enhances existing authorities to facilitate exchanges between the private sector and the IC.

###

 WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, (both D-VA) have cosponsored the Dr. Emmanuel Bilirakis and Honorable Jennifer Wexton National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act. In April 2023, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) shared her diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, and in September of last year her diagnosis was upgraded to progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare and incurable brain disorder that rapidly deteriorates mobility and speech.

Specifically, this legislation would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set up a National Parkinson’s Project, under which HHS would create and update a national plan to address Parkinson’s and related conditions, including Rep. Wexton’s diagnosis of PSP, provide an estimate of research needs, and establish an advisory council that would report to Congress.

 “Our friend Jennifer Wexton has been a model of grace and perseverance in the face of a difficult diagnosis,” said the senators. “We are proud to introduce this legislation that will devote time and resources towards tackling Parkinson’s disease and its related conditions so that one day we can find a cure for this devastating disease.”

The National Parkinson’s Project is modeled after the National Alzheimer’s Project which, as co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, Sen. Warner led efforts to introduce and pass. Sen. Kaine is leading the bipartisan Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Reauthorization Act, legislation to reauthorize funding for public health initiatives across the country to combat Alzheimer’s disease and preserve brain health.

### 

WASHINGTON – With under six months until the U.S. general election, Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today pushed tech companies to follow up on commitments made at the Munich Security Conference and take concrete measures to combat malicious misuses of generative artificial intelligence (AI) that could impact elections. In February, a group of AI companies signed the Tech Accord to Combat Deceptive Use of AI in 2024 Elections, a high-level roadmap for a variety of new initiatives, investments, and interventions that could improve the information ecosystem surrounding this year’s elections. Following that initial agreement, Sen. Warner is pushing for specific answers about the actions that companies are taking to make good on the Tech Accord. 

“Against the backdrop of worldwide proliferation of malign influence activity globally – with an ever-growing range of malign actors embracing social media and wider digital communications technologies to undermine trust in public institutions, markets, democratic systems, and the free press –  generative AI (and related media-manipulation) tools can impact the volume, velocity, and believability of deceptive election,” Sen. Warner wrote.

This year, elections are taking place in over 40 countries representing over 4 billion people, while AI companies are simultaneously releasing a range of powerful and untested new tools that have the potential to rapidly spread believable misinformation, as well as abuse by a range of bad actors. While the Tech Accord represented a positive, public-facing first step to recognize and address this novel challenge, Sen. Warner is pushing for effective, durable protections to ensure that malign actors can’t use AI to craft misinformation campaigns and to prevent its dissemination on social media platforms. To that end, he posed a series of questions to get specific information on the actions that companies are taking to prevent the creation and rapid spread of AI-enabled disinformation and election deception.

“While high-level, the commitments your company announced in conjunction with the Tech Accord offer a clear roadmap for a variety of new initiatives, investments, and interventions that can materially enhance the information ecosystem surrounding this year’s election contests. To that end, I am interested in learning more about the specific measures your company is taking to implement the Tech Accord. While the public pledge demonstrated your company’s willingness to constructively engage on this front, ultimately the impact of the Tech Accord will be measured in the efficacy – and durability – of the initiatives and protection measures you adopt,” Sen. Warner continued.

The letter concludes by pointing out that several of the proposed measures to combat malicious misuse in elections would also help address adjacent misuses of AI technology, including the creation of non-consensual intimate imagery, child sexual abuse material, and online bullying and harassment campaigns. Sen. Warner has been consistently calling attention to and pushing for action from AI companies on these and other potential misuses. On Wednesday, Sen. Warner will host a public Intelligence Committee hearing where leaders from the FBI, CISA, and the ODNI will provide updates on threats to the 2024 election.

Sen. Warner sent letters to every signatory of the Tech Accord: Adobe, Amazon, Anthropic, Arm, Eleven Labs, Gen, GitHub, Google, IBM, Inflection, Intuit, LG, LinkedIn, McAfee, Microsoft, Meta, NetApp, Nota, Open AI, Snap, Stability AI, TikTok, Trend, True Media, Truepic, and X.

A copy of every letter is available here and one example is included below:

Earlier this year, I joined to amplify and applaud your company’s commitment to advance election integrity worldwide through the Tech Accord to Combat Deceptive Use of AI in 2024 Elections. As generative artificial intelligence (AI) products proliferate for both commercial and general users, a multi-stakeholder approach is needed to ensure that industry, governments, and civil society adequately anticipate – and counteract – misuse of these products in ways that cause harm to vulnerable communities, public trust, and democratic institutions. The release of a range of powerful new AI tools – many enabled or directly offered by your [company/organization] -- coincides with an unprecedented number of elections worldwide. As memorialized during the Munich Summit, elections have occurred – or will occur – in over 40 countries worldwide, with more than four billion global citizens exercising their franchise. Since the signing of the Tech Accord on February 16th, the first round of India’s elections have already concluded. European Parliament elections will take place in early June and– as primary contests are already well underway – the U.S. general election will take place on November 5th

While policymakers worldwide have begun the process of developing measures to ensure that generative AI technologies (and related media manipulation tools) serve the public interest, the private sector can – particularly in collaboration with civil society – dramatically shape the usage and wider impact of these technologies through proactive measures. Against the backdrop of worldwide proliferation of malign influence activity globally – with an ever-growing range of malign actors embracing social media and wider digital communications technologies to undermine trust in public institutions, markets, democratic systems, and the free press –  generative AI (and related media-manipulation) tools can impact the volume, velocity, and believability of deceptive election information.

While high-level, the commitments your company announced in conjunction with the Tech Accord offer a clear roadmap for a variety of new initiatives, investments, and interventions that can materially enhance the information ecosystem surrounding this year’s election contests. To that end, I am interested in learning more about the specific measures your company is taking to implement the Tech Accord. While the public pledge demonstrated your company’s willingness to constructively engage on this front, ultimately the impact of the Tech Accord will be measured in the efficacy – and durability – of the initiatives and protection measures you adopt. Indeed, many of these measures will be vital in addressing adjacent misuses of generative AI products, such as the creation of non-consensual intimate imagery, child sexual abuse material, or content generated for online harassment and bullying campaigns. I request that you provide answers to the following questions no later than May 24, 2024.

  1. What steps is your company taking to attach content credentials, and other relevant provenance signals, to any media created using your products? To the extent that your product is incorporated in a downstream product offered by a third-party, do license terms or other terms of use stipulate the adoption of such measures? To the extent you distribute content generated by others, does your company attach labels when you assess – based on either internal classifiers or credible third-party reports – to be machine-generated or machine-manipulated?
  2. What specific public engagement and education initiatives have you initiated in countries holding elections this year? What has the engagement rate been thus far and what proactive steps are you undertaking to raise user awareness on the availability of new tools hosted by your platform?
  3. What specific resources has your company provided for independent media and civil society organizations to assist in their efforts to verify media, generate authenticated media, and educate the public?
  4. What has been your company’s engagement with candidates and election officials with respect to anticipating misuse of your products, as well as the effective utilization of content credentialing or other media authentication tools for their public communications? 
  5. Has your company worked to develop widely-available detection tools and methods to identify, catalogue, and/or continuously track the distribution of machine-generated or machine-manipulated content?
  6. (To the extent your company offers social media or other content distribution platforms) What kinds of internal classifiers and detection measures are you developing to identify machine-generated or machine-manipulated content? To what extent to these measures depend on collaboration or contributions from generative AI vendors?
  7. (To the extent your company offers social media or other content distribution platforms) What mechanisms has your platform implemented to enable victims of impersonation campaigns to report content that may violate your Terms of Service? Do you maintain separate reporting tools for public figures?
  8. (To the extent your company offers generative AI products) What mechanisms has your platform implemented to enable victims of impersonation campaigns that may have relied on your models to report activity that may violate your Terms of Service? 
  9. (To the extent your company offers social media or other content distribution platforms) What is the current status of information sharing between platforms on detecting machine-generated or machine-manipulated content that may be used for malicious ends (such as election disinformation, non-consensual intimate imagery, online harassment, etc.)? Will your company commit to participation in a common database of violative content?

Thank you for your attention to these important matters and I look forward to your response.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $14,070,000 in federal funding for three conservation projects in the Commonwealth. The funding, courtesy of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Legacy Program (FLP), was made possible through annual Land and Water Conservation Funding (LWCF) as well as the Inflation Reduction Act, which the senators helped pass.

“We are proud to announce this funding to support conservation efforts, protect wildlife, and help Virginians safeguard our natural lands for generations to come,” the senators said. “This funding will preserve thousands of acres of scenic land and boost outdoor recreation, a critical part of local economies across the Commonwealth.”

The funding is broken down as follows:

  • The Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve Expansion Project in Floyd and Carroll Counties will receive $9,500,000 in Land and Water Conservation Funding to protect 3,311 acres of the Southern Appalachian Rich Cove Forest and productive white pine, as well as nearly 14 miles of mountain streams at the headwaters of the New River. The funding will secure public access to outdoor recreation activities, alleviate pressure on existing Preserve resources, and support the tourism economy of surrounding communities.
  • The Assamoosic Pinelands State Forest Project in Southampton County will receive $3,265,000 in federal funding courtesy of the Inflation Reduction Act to establish a new state forest. The state-recognized Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia will enter into a co-stewardship agreement with the Virginia Department of Forestry and The Nature Conservancy to collaboratively manage the property in the center of the former Nottoway Indian Tribe reservation.
  • The Cedar Mountain Project in Albemarle County will receive $1,305,000 in federal funding courtesy of the Inflation Reduction Act to construct a conservation easement that will protect 767 acres of family-owned forestland. The project will help ensure the Appalachian Corridor's protection and enhance critical habitat connectivity and climate resiliency in the region. 

Sens. Warner & Kaine have long supported efforts to protect and preserve Virginia’s landscapes. Last year, the senators introduced the Virginia Wilderness Additions Act, which would add a total of 5,600 acres to the existing Rough Mountain and Rich Hole wilderness areas within the George Washington National Forest in Bath County, Virginia. The senators also successfully pushed to pass legislation to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating the Great Dismal Swamp and its associated sites as a National Heritage Area, as well as legislation to establish the Northern Neck as a National Heritage Area, both of which President Biden signed into law. Sens. Warner and Kaine also authored and championed the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation to preserve and protect our country’s public lands.

###

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced their intention to object to a plan to fast track a short-term extension of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act until there is a commitment that there will be a vote on their amendment to eliminate a dangerous provision in the proposed long-term FAA reauthorization bill that would add five incoming and five outgoing flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The proposed one-week extension would allow Senate leadership to run out the procedural clock on consideration of the FAA bill without allowing a vote on any amendments.

“Last month’s near miss at DCA is a flashing red warning light that this airport is overburdened and that cramming more flights onto the busiest runway in America is a terrible idea. But now, the same senators who crafted a provision in the FAA bill to do just that, behind closed doors and against the advice of all four capital region senators, are asking us to smooth a procedural path to the finish line for that bill without a promise to bring our amendment—or any amendment—up for a vote. We can’t in good conscience greenlight that plan until we have a commitment that there will be an opportunity to put our amendment to a vote, and to persuade our colleagues to prioritize the safety of millions of passengers over a few senators’ desire for a direct flight home.”

Kaine spoke on the Senate floor yesterday about the need to remove the additional flights in the FAA reauthorization.

The additional ten flights at DCA would risk passenger safety and increase delays by 725 minutes per day, leading to a total of 12,734 minutes of overall daily delay at the airport. DCA’s main runway is the busiest in the country with nearly 25 million passengers every year and is operating at near peak capacity. In April, two aircraft narrowly avoided a crash on the runway.

Warner and Kaine have repeatedly sounded the alarm about the addition of flights at DCA and opposed changes to the slot and perimeter rules, which govern the number and distance of flights that can safely operate out of the airport. Last week, Kaine spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to strike the additional DCA flights from the FAA reauthorization bill. Also last week, the senators sent a letter to their Senate colleagues expressing concern over this provision in the FAA reauthorization.

###

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement regarding the Senate’s ramming through of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act without a vote on their amendments regarding a dangerous provision that will add five incoming and five outgoing flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA):

“The Senate abdicated its responsibility to protect the safety of the 25 million people who fly through DCA every year. Just weeks after two aircraft nearly crashed into one another at DCA, this body refused to take up our commonsense amendment to remove a dangerous provision that would have crammed more flights onto the busiest runway in America. We even offered a compromise: another amendment that would have given the Secretary of Transportation the power to settle this matter after considering the implications more flights would have on delays and passenger safety. But some of our colleagues were too afraid to let the experts make the call. They didn’t want to show the American people that they care more about a few lawmakers’ desire for direct flights than they care about the safety and convenience of the traveling public. That is shameful and an embarrassment.”

Warner and Kaine have long warned about the consequences of more flights at DCA. DCA is severely overburdened. The addition of ten flights to and from DCA is an enormous risk to passenger safety and will cause alarming delays. DCA’s main runway is the busiest in the country with nearly 25 million passengers every year, and the provision will increase delays by 725 minutes per day, leading to a total of 12,734 minutes of overall daily delay at the airport, according to FAA data. In April, two aircraft narrowly avoided a crash on the cramped runway.

Last week, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to his Senate colleagues expressing concern over this provision in the FAA reauthorization.

In March, they sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee opposing any changes to the rules in the FAA reauthorization. They penned an op-ed last June urging their colleagues to oppose changes to the rules. 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a former fair housing attorney, announced $98,617,544 in federal funding for affordable housing, community development, and homelessness assistance throughout the Commonwealth. The funding is awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME)Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, and Housing Trust Fund.

“No Virginian should be worried about whether they’ll have a place to sleep at night,” said the senators. “We’re glad this funding will support community development projects, improve and construct affordable housing options, and help more Virginians stay in their homes.”

Warner and Kaine have long supported efforts to increase access to affordable housing. Earlier this week, the senators announced over $55.5 million in federal funding improve affordable housing throughout Virginia. Also this week, Kaine also cosponsored the Housing Alignment and Coordination of Critical and Effective Supportive Health Services (ACCESS) Actlegislation to address the intersecting crises of homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorder.

In March 2023, the senators cosponsored the Downpayment Toward Equity Actlegislation to provide federal grants to first-generation homebuyers to cover down payment costs, closing costs, and costs to reduce the rates of interest. In April 2023, Kaine introduced the Fair Housing Improvement Act to protect veterans and low-income families from housing discrimination. In July 2023, Warner introduced bicameral legislation cosponsored by Kaine to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers – predominately Americans of color – build wealth much more rapidly by offering a 20-year mortgage for roughly the same monthly payment as a traditional 30-year loan.

A breakdown of the funding by program is below.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): The CDBG program provides flexible funding to states, cities, and counties to support community development, including infrastructure, economic development projects, housing construction or rehabilitation, public facilities upgrades, homeowner assistance, and more. 

City/County

Amount of Funding

Commonwealth of Virginia

$19,107,637

Alexandria

$1,114,668

Blacksburg

$541,225

Bristol

$259,696

Charlottesville

$438,617

Chesapeake

$1,164,868

Christiansburg

$163,666

Colonial Heights

$91,001

Danville

$857,190

Fredericksburg

$187,161

Hampton

$907,516

Harrisonburg

$491,620

Hopewell

$242,417

Lynchburg

$722,622

Newport News

$1,345,362

Norfolk

$4,427,764

Petersburg

$582,410

Portsmouth

$1,563,930

Radford

$172,251

Richmond

$4,366,108

Roanoke

$1,811,295

Staunton

$328,268

Suffolk

$519,451

Virginia Beach

$2,081,498

Waynesboro City

$167,321

Winchester

$234,286

Arlington County

$1,329,439

Chesterfield County

$1,612,449

Fairfax County

$5,804,077

Henrico County

$1,610,554

Loudoun County

$1,466,683

Prince William County

$2,559,056

TOTAL

$58,272,106

HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME): The HOME Program provides grants to states and localities that communities use - often in partnership with nonprofits - to build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing and provides direct rental assistance to low-income individuals.

   

City/County

Amount of Funding

Commonwealth of Virginia

$9,536,456

Alexandria

$594,309

Blacksburg

$547,113

Charlottesville

$651,111

Chesapeake

$520,599

Danville

$284,497

Hampton

$505,716

Lynchburg

$302,774

Newport News

$800,547

Norfolk

$1,198,575

Portsmouth

$455,398

Richmond

$1,358,981

Roanoke

$568,452

Suffolk

$380,722

Virginia Beach

$1,018,348

Winchester

$570,716

Arlington County

$698,792

Chesterfield County

$568,229

Fairfax County

$2,037,491

Henrico County

$804,180

Loudoun County

$439,635

Prince William County

$794,851

TOTAL

$24,637,492

Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG): The ESG program provides funding for emergency shelter for people in crisis, outreach and essential services to those living on the streets, re-housing services, and homeless prevention programs.

City/County

Amount of Funding

Commonwealth of Virginia

$3,069,615

Norfolk

$389,171

Richmond

$381,608

Roanoke

$156,904

Virginia Beach

$177,050

Fairfax County

$499,429

Henrico County

$145,231

Prince William County

$228,267

TOTAL

$5,047,275


Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA): The HOPWA program provides housing assistance and support services to low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

City/County

Amount of Funding

Commonwealth of Virginia

$1,660,100

Richmond

$2,044,113

Virginia Beach

$3,117,530

TOTAL

$6,821,743

Housing Trust Fund (HTF): The HTF program provides grants to states to preserve, build, and rehabilitate affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income households.

Commonwealth of Virginia

$3,838,928

###

 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a former fair housing attorney, announced $55,516,821 in federal funding to improve affordable housing in 26 communities across the Commonwealth. The funding is awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Capital Fund Program, which annually provides funds to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to build, renovate, and modernize the public housing in their communities.

“All Virginians deserve access to safe, affordable housing,” said the senators. “We’re glad this federal funding will help our communities expand, renovate, and improve affordable housing units, and will continue to do all that we can to expand access to affordable housing in Virginia.” 

The funding is distributed as follows:

·       $14,365,691 for the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $10,700,670 for the Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $4,923,972 for the Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $3,658,188 for the Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $2,214,776 for the Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $2,047,487 for the Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $1,714,697 for the Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $1,608,481 for the Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $1,584,848 for the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority

·       $1,361,850 for the Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $1,266,189 for the Petersburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $1,244,327 for the Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $1,207,251 for the Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $1,177,309 for the Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $1,013,715 for the Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $895,502 for the Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority

·       $806,492 for the Marion Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $753,444 for the Norton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $739,207 for the Wytheville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $627,569 for the Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $619,466 for the Waynesboro Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $382,263 for the Williamsburg Redevelopment & Housing Auth.

·       $299,312 for the Scott County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $193,411 for the Lee County Redevelopment & Housing Authority

·       $103,565 for the Abingdon Redevelopment and Housing Authority

·       $7,139 for the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority

Capital grants can be used to address maintenance needs, reduce vacancies, relocate residents, fund programs supporting economic self-sufficiency, support resident security, safety, and homeownership activities, integrate utility management and energy saving measures, and make other improvements.

Warner and Kaine have long supported efforts to increase access to affordable housing. Last year, they announced $98,345,447in federal funding for affordable housing, community development, and homelessness assistance throughout the Commonwealth. In March 2023, they cosponsored the Downpayment Toward Equity Act, legislation to provide federal grants to first-generation homebuyers to cover down payment costs, closing costs, and costs to reduce the rates of interest. In April 2023, Kaine introduced the Fair Housing Improvement Act to protect veterans and low-income families from housing discrimination. Last July, Warner introduced bicameral legislation cosponsored by Kaine to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers predominately Americans of color  build wealth much more rapidly by offering a 20-year mortgage for roughly the same monthly payment as a traditional 30-year loan. This week, Kaine also cosponsored the Housing Alignment and Coordination of Critical and Effective Supportive Health Services (ACCESS) Act, legislation to address the intersecting crises of homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorder.

###

WASHINGTONThis week, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to introduce the Access to Birth Control Act, legislation that would guarantee timely access to birth control at pharmacies nationwide. The bill comes two years after it was leaked that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization would overturn Roe v. Wade, which opened the floodgates for draconian restrictions on reproductive freedom across America.

“Birth control is an essential part of health care for so many women,” said Sen. Warner. “As the Supreme Court and states across the nation continue to roll back essential protections for reproductive care, I’m proud to be standing up to protect access to contraception. The Access to Birth Control Act will take critical steps forward to make sure that patients can always access contraception without delay, harassment, or intimidation.” 

“Every woman should have the freedom to make her own health care decisions—including those regarding birth control—without delay or interference by the government,” said Sen. Kaine. “With women’s reproductive rights under threat across the country, I will continue to push for legislation like the Access to Birth Control Act and my Reproductive Freedom for All Act to protect access to contraception.”

The Access to Birth Control Act would ensure that patients have access to contraception at the pharmacy without delay and that pharmacies do not operate an environment where patients are intimidated, threatened, or harassed when seeking access to contraception or medication related to contraception. If a pharmacy violates one of these requirements, the bill establishes liability for civil penalties for the pharmacy and a private cause of action for patients to seek relief. 

Warner and Kaine are active supporters of reproductive freedom and access to health care. Following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court ruling, Kaine introduced the bipartisan Reproductive Freedom for All Act, legislation that would enact the essential holdings of Roe v. Wade to protect abortion rights and contraception access. Last year, Warner and Kaine also introduced the Right to Contraception Act, legislation to enshrine the right to contraception into federal law.    

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing the Kids Off Social Media Act, legislation that would set a minimum age of 13 to use social media platforms and prevent social media companies from feeding algorithmically-targeted content to users under the age of 17. Joining Sens. Warner, Schatz and Cruz in introduction are U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Katie Britt (R-AL), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ted Budd (R-NC), John Fetterman (D-PA), and Angus King (I-ME).

The Kids Off Social Media Act aims to address concerns regarding the mental health crisis of children and teens in relation to their use of social media. No age demographic is more affected by the ongoing mental health crisis in the United States than kids, especially young girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 57 percent of high school girls and 29 percent of high school boys felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, with 22 percent of all high school students—and nearly a third of high school girls—reporting they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the preceding year.

Studies have shown a strong relationship between social media use and poor mental health, especially among children. From 2019 to 2021, overall screen use among teens and tweens (ages 8 to 12) increased by 17 percent, with tweens using screens for five hours and 33 minutes per day and teens using screens for eight hours and 39 minutes. Based on the clear and growing evidence, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory last year, calling for new policies to set and enforce age minimums and highlighting the importance of limiting the use of features, like algorithms, that attempt to maximize time, attention, and engagement.

“Parents across the country are struggling to protect their kids from the harmful effects of too much social media, and studies show that today’s unregulated social media landscape has fostered a toxic environment for young people, promoting bullying, eating disorders, and mental health struggles unchecked,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to enact some common sense guardrails for kids and teens using social media platforms.”

Specifically, the Kids Off Social Media Act would:

  • Prohibit children under the age of 13 from creating or maintaining social media accounts, consistent with the current practices of major social media companies;
  • Prohibit social media companies from pushing targeted content using algorithms to users under the age of 17;
  • Provide the FTC and state attorneys general authority to enforce the provisions of the bill; and
  • Follow existing CIPA framework to require schools to block and filter social media on their federally funded networks, which many schools already do.

Sen. Warner, a former tech entrepreneur, has been a vocal advocate building a safer online environment, specifically for young people. Last year, he introduced the Kids Online Safety Act, legislation that provides young people and parents with the tools, safeguards, and transparency they need to protect against online harms. He has also introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at holding Big Tech accountable, including the SAFE TECH Act, which would reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, online harassment, and discrimination on social media platforms; the Honest Ads Act, which would require online political advertisements to adhere to the same disclaimer requirements as TV, radio, and print ads; and most recently, seeing through the passage of the national security supplemental aid package, which included a requirement that the prominent social media platform TikTok divest from China-owned parent company ByteDance within one year.

“Public Citizen stands in strong support of this legislation intended to protect the nation’s children from the pernicious impacts of social media. Frequent use of social media can harm vulnerable children and teens as their identities and feelings of self-worth are forming. A straightforward ban for younger children and stopping abusive algorithmic engagement with teens just makes sense. We applaud Senator Schatz for his commonsense bill,” said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President of Public Citizen.

“We survey mothers on pressing issues they face and on the federal bills that seek to address them. We do this because mothers’ first-hand experiences and knowledge are critical sources of information in the policy-making process. This bill, newly renamed the ‘Kids Off Social Media Act,’ had more support by mothers -- across the political spectrum -- than any bill we've studied. Mothers are on the frontlines of this issue, and according to our quantitative and qualitative study, they overwhelmingly believe that social media companies' products and practices should be regulated using age limits and guardrails, similar to other harmful substances,” said Jennifer Bransford, Founder of Count on Mothers.

“Our nation is facing a severe crisis in children’s mental health,” said Dr. Regena Spratling, President of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. “Every day pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) focused on children’s health see the serious impact that social media can have on our young people’s well-being. The ‘Kids Off Social Media Act’ will help to provide parents the tools they need to safeguard their children from threats in the digital world.”

“Preparing nurses to help address our country’s growing mental health problems is one of nursing education’s highest priorities,” said Dr. Beverly Malone, President and CEO of the National League for Nursing. “The National League for Nursing is pleased to support the ‘Kids Off Social Media Act’ as an important step to help parents and health care professionals shield our young people from harmful online content that can lead to behavioral health problems.”

“KIDS TOO strongly supports comprehensive legislation that protects kids on social media. Senator Schatz's Kids Off Social Media Act solidifies prohibiting youth under 13 from maintaining or creating social media accounts. This bill gets to the root of the issue by eliminating the chance of young kids being vulnerable to harmful tactics by predators, bullies and drug dealers,” said Tania Haigh, Executive Director of KIDS TOO.

“We’re still learning about the long-term implications that unfettered access to social media has on children and adolescents. Until then, especially considering evidence showing that the way people use social media can impact mental health outcomes, it makes sense to put safeguards in place. As we learn more, we can modify these safeguards as needed. But we need to begin somewhere, and this legislation would provide an opportunity to more clearly understand whether modest safeguards can protect children and adolescents and what responsible measures look like,” said Chuck Ingoglia, President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

The Kids Off Social Media Act is supported by the American Counseling Association, KidsToo, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Tyler Clementi Foundation, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, Count on Mothers, Parents Television and Media Council, Parents Who Fight, Public Citizen, National Federation of Families, National Organization for Women, National Association of School Nurses, National League for Nursing, and American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Full text of the legislation is available here.

 

###

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD) filed an amendment to strip a provision from the negotiated text of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act that adds five incoming and five outgoing flights to the overburdened Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which would risk passenger safety and worsen flight delays.

“We are introducing an amendment to block additional flights in and out of DCA from this year’s FAA Reauthorization Act because passenger safety should be the number one priority when it comes to legislation impacting our airports. We understand that some of our colleagues have to travel a long way to get to D.C. But the convenience of a handful of members is not as important as the safety of the 25 million people who use DCA every year. Last month’s near-miss at this airport is a startling reminder of what’s at stake if Congress jams even more flights onto the busiest runway in America. We urge our colleagues to join us in stopping this dangerous effort,” said the senators.

DCA is operating at near peak capacity, and adding an additional five round trip flights would increase delays by 725 minutes per day, leading to a total of 12,734 minutes of overall daily delay at DCA, according to FAA data. In April, two aircraft narrowly avoided a crash, underscoring the urgent need to reject additional flights at DCA.

The announcement follows a letter sent Monday by Warner, Kaine, Cardin, and Van Hollen to all 96 of their Senate colleagues urging them to oppose the provision.

The senators have repeatedly opposed changes to the slot and perimeter rules, which govern the number and distance of flights that can safely operate out of DCA. In April, Warner and Kaine spoke on the Senate floor regarding the near miss at DCA and the need to block additional flights at the airport. In March, Warner, Kaine, Cardin, and Van Hollen sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committees opposing any changes to the rules in the FAA reauthorization. They also penned an op-ed last June urging their colleagues to oppose changes to the rules.

The amendment is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO). Full text of the amendment is available here.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Thom Tillis (R-NC) – the bipartisan co-chairs of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus – introduced the Secure Artificial Intelligence Act of 2024, legislation to improve the tracking and processing of security and safety incidents and risks associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Specifically, this legislation aims to improve information sharing between the federal government and private companies by updating cybersecurity reporting systems to better incorporate AI systems. The legislation would also create a voluntary database to record AI-related cybersecurity incidents including so-called “near miss” events.

As the development and use of AI grow, so does the potential for security and safety incidents that harm organizations and the public. Currently, efforts within the federal government – led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – play a crucial role in tracking of cybersecurity through their National Vulnerability Database (NVD) and the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures Program (CVE), respectively. The National Security Agency (NSA), through the Cybersecurity Collaboration Center, also provides intel-driven cybersecurity guidance for emerging and chronic cybersecurity challenges through open, collaborative partnerships. However, these systems do not currently reflect the ways in which AI systems can differ dramatically from traditional software, including the ways in which exploits developed to subvert AI systems (a body of research often known as “adversarial machine learning” or “counter-AI”) often do not resemble conventional information security exploits. This legislation updates current standards for cyber incident reporting and information sharing at these organizations to include and better protect against the risks associated with AI. The legislation also establishes an Artificial Intelligence Security Center at the NSA to drive counter-AI research, provide an AI research test-bed to the private sector and academic researchers, develop guidance to prevent or mitigate counter-AI techniques, and promote secure AI adoption.

As we continue to embrace all the opportunities that AI brings, it is imperative that we continue to safeguard against the threats posed by – and to -- this new technology, and information sharing between the federal government and the private sector plays a crucial role,” said Sen. Warner. “By ensuring that public-private communications remain open and up-to-date on current threats facing our industry, we are taking the necessary steps to safeguard against this new generation of threats facing our infrastructure.”

"Safeguarding organizations from cybersecurity risks involving AI requires collaboration and innovation from both the private and public sector,” said Sen. Tillis. "This commonsense legislation creates a voluntary database for reporting AI security and safety incidents and promotes best practices to mitigate AI risks. Additionally, this bill would establish a new Artificial Intelligence Security Center, within the NSA, tasked with promoting secure AI adoption as we continue to innovate and embrace new AI technologies."  

Specifically, the Secure Artificial Intelligence Act would:

·         Require NIST to update the NVD and require CISA to update the CVE program or develop a new process to track voluntary reports of AI security vulnerabilities;

·         Establish a public database to track voluntary reports of AI security and safety incidents;

·         Create a multi-stakeholder process that encourages the development and adoption of best practices that address supply chain risks associated with training and maintaining AI models; and

·         Establish an Artificial Intelligence Security Center at the NSA to provide an AI research test-bed to the private sector and academic researchers, develop guidance to prevent or mitigate counter-AI techniques, and promote secure AI adoption.

“IBM is proud to support the Secure AI Act that expands the current work of NIST, DHS, and NSA and addresses safety and security incidents in AI systems. We commend Senator Warner and Senator Tillis for building upon existing voluntary mechanisms to help harmonize efforts across the government. We urge Congress to ensure these mechanisms are adequately funded to track and manage today’s cyber vulnerabilities, including risks associated with AI,” said Christopher Padilla, Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, IBM Corporation.

“Ensuring the safety and security of AI systems is paramount to facilitating public trust in the technology. ITI commends U.S. Senators Warner and Tillis for introducing the Secure Artificial Intelligence Act, which will advance AI security, encourage the use of voluntary standards to disclose vulnerabilities, and promote public-private collaboration on AI supply chain risk management. ITI also appreciates that this legislation establishes the National Security Agency’s AI Security Center and streamlines coordination with existing AI-focused entities,” said ITI President and CEO Jason Oxman.

“AI security is too big of a task for any one company to tackle alone,” said Jason Green-Lowe, Executive Director of the Center for AI Policy. “AI developers have much to learn from each other about how to keep their systems safe, and it's high time they started sharing that information. That's why the Center for AI Policy is pleased to see Congress coordinating a standard format and shared database for AI incident reporting. We firmly support Senator Warner and Tillis's new bill."

Full text of the legislation is available here. A one-page summary of the legislation is available here

###

 

WASHINGTON –  U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Reps. Jennifer McClellan (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) met today with U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to discuss the severe mail delays affecting communities in Virginia and the related implementation of new reforms by the United States Postal Service (USPS).

“Today, we met with Postmaster DeJoy for a productive conversation and voiced what we’ve been hearing for months: mail delivery in the Commonwealth is falling short for Virginians who rely on it. It was encouraging to hear the postmaster accept responsibility for the problems, share data about recent improvement, and pledge to make the Richmond Distribution Center a top-notch performer in necessary postal reforms. But it’s clear that USPS has a long way to go in regaining the trust of Virginians. This meeting is just the beginning and we will continue to press for increased transparency, greater engagement with the public, and a higher standard of service for the communities it serves.”

Today’s meeting follows a report by the USPS Inspector General (IG) on the Richmond Regional Processing and Distribution Center (RPDC) in Sandston – the first consolidated processing center in the country that was opened to centralize outgoing mail and package processing as part of USPS’s 10-year Delivering for America plan. The report highlighted various issues on the local, regional, and national levels that have impacted service in Virginia. The issues include an egregious lack of attention to detail (pieces of mail falling off conveyor belts and being lost), poor synchronizing between machines processing mail at the facility and the trucks transporting mail to and from the facility, and broader questions about whether the RPDC model is generating the promised cost savings and efficiency improvements.

###

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD) released the following statement blasting a provision in the negotiated text of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, which was released in the middle of the night, that adds five incoming and five outgoing flights to an overburdened Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), risking passenger safety and causing flight delays:

“We are deeply frustrated that Committee leadership with jurisdiction over the FAA Reauthorization Act—none of whom represent the capital region—have decided to ignore the flashing red warning light of the recent near collision of two aircraft at DCA and jam even more flights onto the busiest runway in America. It should go without saying that the safety of the traveling public should be a higher priority than the convenience of a few lawmakers who want direct flights home from their preferred airport. We will continue to fight against this ridiculous and dangerous provision.”

DCA is operating at near peak capacity, and adding an additional five round trip flights would increase delays by 725 minutes per day, leading to a total of 12,734 minutes of overall daily delay at DCA according to FAA data. In April, two aircrafts narrowly avoided a crash, underscoring the urgent need to reject additional flights at DCA.

Also today, the senators wrote to all 96 of their Senate colleagues urging them to oppose the provision.

“While the bill contains many positive features, the Senate is poised to consider a provision that could impair safety and will significantly increase delay and inconvenience experienced by the nearly 25 million passengers who use Reagan National Airport (DCA) every year,” wrote the senators. “The provision will overburden the already congested main runway at DCA and, as shown by a recent near-collision at the airport, increase the risk of a serious accident there.”

“We understand the desire of senators to shorten their commutes home, but this proposal would benefit few while impacting many, first and foremost in safety but also in delays and in reducing the economic competitiveness of smaller destinations within the perimeter. The senators representing the region and the people who most use this airport stand uniform against a provision negotiated without us that will guarantee more unacceptable delay and compromise passenger safety,” the senators concluded.

The senators have repeatedly opposed changes to the slot and perimeter rules, which govern the number and distance of flights that can safely operate out of DCA. In April, Sens. Warner and Kaine spoke on the Senate floor regarding the near miss at DCA and the need to block additional flights at the airport. In March, they sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee opposing any changes to the rules in the FAA reauthorization. They penned an op-ed last June urging their colleagues to oppose changes to the rules.

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Colleagues:

When we return, we will take up the FAA reauthorization bill. It is an important bill necessary to improve air travel. While the bill contains many positive features, the Senate is poised to consider a provision that could impair safety and will significantly increase delay and inconvenience experienced by the nearly 25 million passengers who use Reagan National Airport (DCA) every year. The provision will overburden the already congested main runway at DCA and, as shown by a recent near-collision at the airport, increase the risk of a serious accident there.  

We have made our opposition to this provision known to Committee for a very long time. Our position, that Congress should not jam more flights onto an overburdened runway that is already the busiest in the United States, prevailed in the House. But the Senate Commerce Committee has insisted that 5 slots (a total of 10 flights) be added to the daily schedule. This is directly contrary to the advice from FAA and is opposed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, established by Congress to operate DCA and Dulles. It was also agreed to with absolutely no consultation with the four Senators representing the two states with airports impacted by this.

DCA is an airport built on a small land footprint that cannot be expanded. There is one primary runway and two shorter runways designed for commuter aircraft. It was intended to be used by approximately 15 million passengers a year. Its current usage is nearly 25 million passengers a year. Because of advances in airline fleet configuration, most planes flying into DCA cannot now use the secondary runways. Nearly 90% of all flights must use the primary runway. This makes the main runway at DCA the busiest in the United States.

The passenger volume at DCA and the overuse of the main runway have made DCA one of the most congested airports in the country as measured by passenger delay. Over 20% of ingoing and outgoing flights experience delay. And the average delay experienced on those flights is already 67 minutes. DCA has functionally equivalent service, in some years more service, than Dulles International Airport even though DCA is 860 acres and Dulles is nearly 12,000 acres. DCA also ranks 3rd for airborne holds, which is when air traffic control keeps an aircraft looping in a holding pattern while the aircraft waits for an opening to land. In 2022, the airport had the 3rd worst cancellation rate among the nation’s busiest airports. And these delays not only affect DCA but cause missed connection flights and other inconveniences throughout the system.

The FAA has advised the Senate that any increase in the number of operations at DCA will increase the number and duration of delays. They have assessed that the delay attributable to adding 10 flights will affect 183 flights for a total of 751 minutes (or 12 hours) of additional delay per day. When added to the existing delay, DCA would experience 12,734 minutes of delay per day! The FAA also notes that this figure does not take into account any delay that might result from gate constraints caused by adding flights.

But the delay issue is not as important as passenger safety. On April 18, there was a near miss at DCA as two planes jockeyed for position—one on the primary runway and one on a secondary runway. The planes averted a collision by a mere 300 feet. The audio from the FAA air traffic controllers is chilling—with one heard frantically yelling “Stop! Stop!” The FAA is investigating the incident, but the likelihood of a serious accident is already high at this overburdened airport and adding 10 more flights will only raise the possibility of a tragic outcome. We believe that this near miss is a bright red warning light flashing before Congress.

There are alternatives to Congress jamming in 10 more flights. The Commerce Committee settled the pilot training hours debate by deferring to the Secretary to determine how many virtual training hours are safe. In this case, Commerce, says more slots are safe. The senators representing the region, in consultation with DOT, say they aren’t. Why not let the Secretary make the call?

We understand the desire of senators to shorten their commutes home, but this proposal would benefit few while impacting many, first and foremost in safety but also in delays and in reducing the economic competitiveness of smaller destinations within the perimeter. The senators representing the region and the people who most use this airport stand uniform against a provision negotiated without us that will guarantee more unacceptable delay and compromise passenger safety.

Sincerely,

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD) released new data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) demonstrating the detrimental impacts adding more flights at an overburdened Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) would have on flight safety and timeliness. New flights were approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and may be included in this year’s final FAA reauthorization bill.

In response to a request for information, the FAA provided an analysis of operations that found:

  • DCA is operating at near peak capacity, and every slot during normal hours is fully allocated to existing commercial flights. Adding more flights, even at 6am or 11pm, would cause more delays into the next hour and cascading throughout the rest of the day. The FAA notes that DCA only has one primary runway for large body commercial airplanes, which means that most of the commercial flights in and out of the airport operate on a singular runway;
  • 20 percent of departures and 22 percent of arrivals at DCA already experience delays, with a delayed passenger at DCA currently experiencing, on average, 67 minutes of delays;
  • DCA is more prone to delays than other airports around the country, and any new flights added will only increase congestion and delays;
  • According to the FAA, an additional 5 round trip flights will increase delays by 725 minutes per day, leading to a total of 12,734 minutes of overall daily delay at DCA.

Said Sens. Warner, Kaine, Cardin, and Van Hollen today, “Just last week, two planes came within 300 feet of colliding on DCA’s runway – a frightening and visible demonstration that DCA is at capacity. Thankfully, there was no loss of life – this time. But this new analysis from the FAA demonstrates conclusively once and for all that passengers simply cannot afford for Congress to further meddle in airport operations by jamming more flights onto DCA’s already-overburdened runway. Our colleagues should listen to the FAA and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and heed the warning light of last week’s near collision. There is no reason to compromise the safety and timeliness of 25 million passengers for the benefit of a few members of Congress who want more flights into DCA.”

DCA currently averages 819 overall daily commercial takeoffs and landings on a singular main runway. Designed to accommodate 15 million passengers annually, last year, DCA saw 25.5 million aircraft passengers come through its doors. In 2022, the airport had the third-worst cancellation rate among the nation’s busiest airports.

Today’s data underscores the urgent need to reject any changes to slot and perimeter rules, which govern the number and distance of flights that can safely operate out of DCA. In February, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved changes to the current slot and perimeter rules to increase the number of flights in and out of DCA as part of the Senate version of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act.

The senators have repeatedly opposed changes to the slot and perimeter rules. In March, they sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee opposing any changes to the rules in the FAA reauthorization. They penned an op-ed last June urging their colleagues to oppose changes to the rules.

###

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11), and a bicameral group of their colleagues in urging the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to require all insurance carriers in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program to cover in-vitro fertilization (IVF) medical treatments and medications. 12 million people around the world have been born from IVF and other assisted reproductive technology services.

“Out of pocket costs for one cycle of IVF can cost the patient between $15,000 and $30,000, with prescription drug costs accounting for 35 percent of that cost,” wrote the members. “As OPM begins to prepare for plan year 2025, we strongly urge you to build on the impressive progress the Biden administration has made in empowering the Federal Government to effectively recruit and retain the next generation of civil servants by requiring all FEHB carriers to cover IVF medical treatments and medications in plan year 2025.”

They continued, “Requiring FEHB carriers to cover IVF medical treatments and medications for plan year 2025 would reflect the reality that IVF is one of the most effective treatments for families struggling with infertility, and growing in popularity, with its usage nearly doubling from 2012 to 2021. Importantly, it would also sharpen the Federal Government’s competitive advantage in competing for talented workers, as surveys demonstrate that employees experiencing infertility without adequate IVF coverage will express dissatisfaction with their employer and seek new professional opportunities.”

Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for reproductive freedom in Congress. Following an Alabama Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that led to restricted access of IVF, Warner and Kaine cosponsored the Access to Family Building Act to protect Americans’ right to IVF and other assisted reproductive technology services. In March, Kaine invited Norfolk-born Elizabeth Carr, the first person born in the United States via IVF, to join him as his guest at the State of the Union. Kaine held two roundtables in Norfolk and Arlington to discuss the need to protect IVF. Kaine also cosponsored the Veteran Families Health Services Act of 2023, legislation that would expand the fertility treatments and family-building services for servicemembers and veterans. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, Kaine worked across the aisle to introduce the Reproductive Freedom For All Act, a bipartisan bill to protect access to abortion and contraception.

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Director Ahuja:

We write to commend your leadership, on behalf of the Biden administration, in strengthening the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) commitment to helping our Nation’s dedicated civil servants build their families through expanded coverage of assisted reproductive technology (ART) services under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.

For plan year 2024, OPM succeeded in providing Federal employees with 24 FEHB plan options providing varying levels of coverage of ART. Critically, for the first time in FEHB’s history, OPM secured inclusion of a national plan with ART coverage, ensuring that every Federal employee, no matter where they live, will be guaranteed at least some coverage of ART services.

OPM also deserves significant credit for requiring FEHB carriers to cover in vitro fertilization (IVF) medications for three cycles annually. Out of pocket costs for one cycle of IVF can cost the patient between $15,000 and $30,000, with prescription drug costs accounting for 35 percent of that cost. While significant work remains to be done to improve IVF access, which includes ensuring comprehensive plan designs are inclusive of LGBTQ and solo individuals who rely on medical intervention to build their families, your leadership in making sure FEHB plans cover IVF medications represents meaningful progress in expanding access to fertility treatments, which will ultimately prove life-changing for families across the country.

As OPM begins to prepare for plan year 2025, we strongly urge you to build on the impressive progress the Biden administration has made in empowering the Federal Government to effectively recruit and retain the next generation of civil servants by requiring all FEHB carriers to cover IVF medical treatments and medications in plan year 2025. At a time when IVF is increasingly under attack by the extreme personhood movement, President Biden would send a strong message that his administration, in word and deed, are true champions of safeguarding the right of families to decide if, when and how to build a family.

Requiring FEHB carriers to cover IVF medical treatments and medications for plan year 2025 would reflect the reality that IVF is one of the most effective treatments for families struggling with infertility, and growing in popularity, with its usage nearly doubling from 2012 to 2021. Importantly, it would also sharpen the Federal Government’s competitive advantage in competing for talented workers, as surveys demonstrate that employees experiencing infertility without adequate IVF coverage will express dissatisfaction with their employer and seek new professional opportunities.

As our Nation’s largest employer-sponsored group health insurance plan, FEHB is a national trend setter for employer-sponsored coverage choices and making IVF coverage a default requirement would accelerate the adoption of pro-family policies beyond FEHB to ensure that more workers with employer-sponsored coverage are able to access IVF medical treatments.

Simply put, at a time when seemingly every politician is loudly declaring their support for IVF—even when many of those same politicians support the personhood movement that has endangered IVF’s future—President Biden has an opportunity to demonstrate strong leadership by taking decisive action to make the scientific miracle that is IVF accessible to many more Americans, beginning with our dedicated Federal workforce.

Thank you in advance for considering our request to enhance FEHB’s IVF coverage for plan year 2025, and we look forward to working with you to advance these important initiatives.

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on Congressional passage of the supplemental foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and the Indo-Pacific:

“For the last two years, U.S. aid has been indispensable in helping Ukraine stave off Russia’s unlawful, brutal attacks. Without risking the life of a single American or NATO soldier, Ukraine has imposed enormous losses on Russia’s military, preserved democracy over autocracy, and thwarted Putin’s imperial ambitions. Today, the Senate has once again acted to stand with our NATO allies and keep our word to Ukrainians. It never should have taken this long, but I’m tremendously relieved that Congress has finally passed this critical aid and averted a potentially historic, catastrophic failure.

“At the same time, the bill takes square aim at several other pressing national security concerns. By including the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, it takes long overdue steps to curb the flow of fentanyl into our country. It delivers support to Israel and humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. To counter the rise of China, it secures aid for our partners in the Indo-Pacific and compels the divestiture of TikTok from its parent company, ByteDance, which is legally required to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party. Across Europe, the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific, and at home, this legislation makes critical investments in keeping Americans safe and protecting our trust and position on the global stage. I look forward to President Biden’s signature.”

###

 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $156,120,000 in federal funding to help low-income and disadvantaged communities in Virginia more easily access solar energy. The funding, awarded to the Virginia Department of Energy, will be used to eliminate barriers to solar development in the Commonwealth by reducing upfront costs, enabling broader access to leasing and power purchase agreements, increasing access to financing for low-income homeowners, and removing barriers to interconnection. The funding will lower energy costs for families and create good-quality jobs while advancing tackling the effects of climate change. 

“Solar energy is one of the keys to addressing the climate crisis, and has the added benefit of reducing energy costs for families,” said the senators. “Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, communities across the Commonwealth will benefit from these lower energy costs while gaining access to good-paying jobs and continuing to tackle to effects of climate change.”

The funding is awarded through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Solar for All program—made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), landmark legislation that both Sens. Warner and Kaine supported—that helps lower energy costs by making energy efficient appliances more affordable, invests in home energy repairs, and supports the costs of solar projects.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long supported efforts to expand and promote clean energy across the Commonwealth. In August, Sen. Warner broke ground on the largest-ever clean energy project at a U.S. airport alongside Dominion Energy, which will power 37,000 homes and businesses in Northern Virginia. Last year, Sen. Kaine hosted an event with the U.S. Department of Energy in Big Stone Gap to bring local leaders, state and federal government officials, and businesses together to strategize on how to take advantage of the IRA’s clean energy provisions and help create jobs and boost economic development in Virginia. Additionally, Sens. Warner and Kaine have advocated for and secured hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for initiatives that reduce utility costs for Virginians, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine and U.S. Representative Jennifer McClellan released the following statement after Topsoe announced it will build a new manufacturing facility in Chesterfield County, Virginia thanks to nearly $136 million in tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which the lawmakers championed in 2022. Topsoe is a Danish company that manufactures solid oxide electrolyzer cells (SOEC), a crucial component for producing clean hydrogen. The project is expected to bring more than $400 million in investments and create at least 150 new jobs in Virginia. Warner, Kaine, and McClellan wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to advocate for the project’s application. 

“The Inflation Reduction Act represented a bold step towards maintaining American leadership in manufacturing, creating the next generation of clean energy jobs, and combatting climate change,” said Warner. “I’m glad to see that vision executed in Chesterfield County with the announcement of a new Topsoe manufacturing facility. Thanks to tax credits from this landmark law, Virginia will continue to power our nation and lead the clean energy transition by creating good-paying manufacturing jobs across the Commonwealth.”  

“I’m thrilled that Topsoe will be setting up a state-of-the-art facility in Chesterfield County to help manufacture clean energy components,” said Kaine. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the investments we made in the Inflation Reduction Act, which I was proud to have helped pass in the Senate by one vote. I look forward to seeing how this project will boost economic growth, create jobs, and help us build a clean energy future.”

“This new Topsoe facility in Chesterfield County will create hundreds of new jobs and stimulate millions of dollars in economic activity right here in Virginia’s Fourth,” said McClellan. “I will continue fighting with Senators Warner and Kaine to supercharge our transition to a clean-energy future and bring federal investments to our Commonwealth.”

“We are thrilled to announce our plans for a new state-of the art US facility that will manufacture Solid Oxide Electrolyzer Cell stacks (SOEC), the key element to the world’s most efficient electrolyzer technology for producing clean hydrogen,” said Roeland Baan, CEO of Topsoe. “Through legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act and strong support from individual states such as Virginia, the US government is helping to accelerate the clean energy transition. With our strong dedication to innovation, we will help the US achieve its goals of driving down the cost of clean hydrogen and delivering clean energy jobs.”

The IRA included a number of provisions and tax credits to incentivize investments in clean energy. Topsoe received a tax credit through the DOE’s Advanced Energy Project Credit (48C) program, which was expanded as part of the IRA. The 48C tax credit covers 30 percent of the amount invested in new or upgraded facilities that build renewable energy components. The IRA included a set-aside in the 48C program for coal communities, which Chesterfield qualified for due to the retirement of a nearby coal-fired electric generating unit.

###

WASHINGTON  – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after a narrowly avoided crash between two aircraft at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA): 

“Today’s near crash at DCA is a horrifying example of why it’s crucial that we beat back efforts to undermine slot and perimeter rules for our capital region airports. DCA’s overburdened runway is already the busiest in the country—and we fear that adding more flights could put passenger safety at serious jeopardy. We are thankful there was no loss of life or injuries, but this close call is unacceptable and we must ensure even near misses never occur again. To state the obvious: passenger safety should be a higher priority than whether some lawmakers have a direct flight home from DCA.”

 A visualization of the near miss is available here. 

The near-miss underscores the urgent need to reject any changes to slot and perimeter rules, which govern the number of flights that can safely operate out of DCA and the distance of those flights. In February, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted to alter the current slot and perimeter rules to increase the number of flights in and out of DCA as part of the Senate version of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. 

The senators have repeatedly opposed changes to the slot and perimeter rules. In March, they sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee opposing any changes to the rules in the FAA reauthorization. They also penned an op-ed last June urging their colleagues to oppose changes to the rules. 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement:

“Over the past two years, the US has spent only a tiny fraction of its defense budget to help Ukraine inflict enormous losses on Russia’s military, hold the line in the fight for democracy over autocracy, and thwart Putin’s ambitions to take over Ukraine. Despite the clear security interests in continuing this support, and the commitments we’ve made to both the Ukrainian people and our NATO allies, House Republicans have spent months delaying the renewal of this critical aid. The best time to do this would have been months ago. The second best time is right now. I urge the House to act swiftly to get this done and end this painful and embarrassing delay. Failing to do so would be a mistake of historic proportions.

“At the same time, the House also has the opportunity to take important steps to shore up our national security in other avenues. For years, I’ve been raising the alarm about the powerful national security threat posed by TikTok, and I strongly support their divestiture from a company legally required to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party. Amid deeply troubling and escalating violence across the Middle East, it’s also critical that we provide robust and desperately needed humanitarian aid in support of the millions of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and continue supporting Israel’s security. I look forward to the House’s swift action on all these priorities and to championing their passage in the Senate.”

On February 13, 2024, the Senate passed a national security supplemental package to aid Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and the Indo-Pacific with a bipartisan 70-29 margin.

###