Press Releases

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement regarding the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report: 

“We have received the redacted version of the Special Counsel’s report, and I am carefully reviewing its contents and findings.

“Even a preliminary review of the material makes it clear that the Attorney General fundamentally mischaracterized the Special Counsel’s findings in his pre-emptive press conference this morning. In the days to come, it is essential that Congress hear directly from the Special Counsel regarding his investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee continues its own investigation, and I expect to receive a full briefing, an unredacted report, and all the materials underlying the Special Counsel’s findings.”

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement regarding the arrest of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, today in the United Kingdom:

“Julian Assange has long professed high ideals and moral superiority. Unfortunately, whatever his intentions when he started WikiLeaks, what he’s really become is a direct participant in Russian efforts to undermine the West and a dedicated accomplice in efforts to undermine American security. It is my hope that the British courts will quickly transfer him to U.S. custody so he can finally get the justice he deserves.

“I would like to thank President Moreno and the Ecuadoran government for taking the long-overdue step of withdrawing sanctuary for Mr. Assange so that he can finally face justice for his actions.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), and 30 other Senators in condemning the President’s plan to cut national security funding to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In a letter to President Trump, the Senators reiterated that the U.S. Congress has already appropriated FY18 funds to advance the United States’ foreign policy priorities related to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.   

“Your shortsighted decision poses serious risks to our national security and will damage strategic U.S. efforts to address the underlying conditions driving citizens in all three countries to flee their homelands and migrate to the United States,” wrote the Senators. “Since taking office, you have consistently expressed a flawed understanding of U.S. foreign assistance. It is neither charity, nor is it a gift to foreign governments. Our national security funding is specifically designed to promote American interests, enhance our collective security, and protect the safety of our citizens.” 

Citing cabinet officials who have recently called for a rational response to the growing number of migrants fleeing violent conditions in Central America, the Senators urged the President to reverse his decision cutting funding to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The Senators continued, “Our foreign assistance programs provide our government essential leverage to support reforms in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that mitigate the root causes of migration to our southern border by enabling citizens from those countries to find security and economic opportunities in their communities. By obstructing the use of FY2018 national security funding and seeking to terminate similar funding from FY2017, you are personally undermining efforts to promote U.S. national security and economic prosperity.”

The Senators also noted that the Trump Administration’s decision undermines years of continuous bipartisan and bicameral congressional efforts to increase the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance to Central America. This assistance helps ensure consequential change and address root causes of irregular migration to the United States and Virginia, such as extreme poverty and lack of economic opportunity, which lead to unchecked violence and crime.                                        

In addition to Sens. Warner, Kaine, Menendez, and Carper, the letter was signed by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

 

The text of the letter can be found below:

 

President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Mr. President:

 

We write to express our outright opposition to your plan to cut national security funding that the Congress has appropriated to advance United States’ foreign policy priorities related to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Your shortsighted decision poses serious risks to our national security and will damage strategic U.S. efforts to address the underlying conditions driving citizens in all three countries to flee their homelands and migrate to the United States. 

 

Since taking office, you have consistently expressed a flawed understanding of U.S. foreign assistance. It is neither charity, nor is it a gift to foreign governments. Our national security funding is specifically designed to promote American interests, enhance our collective security, and protect the safety of our citizens.  Our foreign assistance programs provide our government essential leverage to support reforms in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that mitigate the root causes of migration to our southern border by enabling citizens from those countries to find security and economic opportunities in their communities.

 

By obstructing the use of FY2018 national security funding and seeking to terminate similar funding from FY2017, you are personally undermining efforts to promote U.S. national security and economic prosperity, including:

 

        Combatting Drug Trafficking: The State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) work jointly with specially trained and vetted units in the Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Honduran police forces to combat drug trafficking organizations and seize narcotics trafficked through Central America to the U.S. Your decision directly undercuts our ability to stop illicit drugs from entering our country.

 

        Countering Transnational Criminal Organizations: As part of their Transnational Anti-Gang (TAG) Task Forces, the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) collaborate with prosecutors and national polices forces in all three countries to address the violent crimes of MS-13 and other criminal organizations. By cutting U.S. foreign assistance to the region, you are depriving our government of key law enforcement intelligence needed to keep our citizens safe.

 

        Strengthening the Rule of Law: The State Department, Department of Justice, and the U.S. Agency for International Development work with the Attorneys General and judicial systems in each country in order to promote the effective application of local laws and hold accountable the perpetrators of violence, extortion, narcotics and human trafficking, and domestic violence. Your cuts will terminate efforts end the cycle of impunity that forces victims to flee their countries in search of safety in the U.S.

 

        Defending Human Rights and Democratic Principles: There are enduring challenges in the Northern Triangle countries related to government officials and security forces perpetrating gross violations of human rights and acts of corruption, which directly contribute to insecurity. By cutting USAID funding, you are weakening our support for citizens and civil society groups to hold their governments accountable.

 

        Advancing Economic Reforms: Extreme poverty and a lack of economic opportunity contribute to the unchecked violence and crime that Central American refugees are fleeing.  Your cuts to foreign assistance deny the U.S. Government leverage needed to encourage Central American governments to take steps that improve their citizens’ educational and economic opportunities and create the conditions for inclusive growth.

 

For the past five years, in a bipartisan and bicameral way, Congress has continuously worked to increase the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance to Central America, instituting strict conditions on our funding in order to ensure consequential change. We have routinely been unsatisfied with insufficient efforts by Central American leaders and have limited funding to their central governments, but we remain convinced that continued engagement is the best option to promote meaningful change. To that end, your announcement marks a clear attempt to circumvent Congressional prerogative and obstruct the funding priorities established in bipartisan appropriations bills.

 

By cutting national security funding for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, you also appear to be overturning the consensus within your own cabinet about the need for a rational response to the growing number of migrants fleeing violent conditions in Central America. Mere days before your announcement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a regional security compact with officials from Northern Triangle countries building on cooperative efforts made possible by U.S. funding. Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan expressed support for continuing funding to Central American governments in order to improve conditions in the region. And, at the 2017 Northern Triangle Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, Vice President Pence stated, “To further stem the flow of illegal immigration and illegal drugs into the United States, President Trump knows, as do all of you, that we must confront these problems at their source. We must meet them – and we must solve them – in Central and South America.”

 

We encourage you to listen to members of your own Administration and reverse a decision that will damage our national security and aggravate conditions inside Central America. We look forward to working with you and members of your Administration to ensure that U.S. foreign aid continues to reflect our values and advance our national security interests.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – On the Senate floor today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, requested that the Senate immediately take up and pass a resolution calling for the public release of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. However, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) objected to the unanimous consent request and blocked the immediate passage of the resolution, which previously passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 420 – 0.

“Simply put, a summary is not going to cut it,” Sen. Warner said on the floor. “This is an extraordinarily extensive investigation that yielded a rich collection of facts about Russia’s attack on our democracy. The American people deserve to see the results so they can judge the facts for themselves.”

Sen. Warner highlighted that the Attorney General’s four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s report only focused on the criminal portion of the Mueller probe, and barely mentioned the Special Counsel’s counter-intelligence investigation into Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials and intermediaries.

He continued, “Our committee has made multiple criminal referrals to the Special Prosecutor based on what we learned in witnesses’ efforts to lie to us and obstruct our investigation. This is what a counter-intelligence investigation is all about. We need to fully understand what the Russians were trying to do. And we need to be able to warn future campaigns and candidates about the lengths and new tools hostile governments will go to undermine our democracy… Let’s make sure the full Mueller report is released to Congress — including the underlying documents and intelligence. And then let’s make sure that the American people see as much of the report as possible, and as soon as possible. And let’s do it in that bipartisan way that protect sources and methods.”

Sen. Warner also emphasized that the resolution, H. Con. Res. 24, Expressing the Sense of Congress that the report of Special Counsel Mueller should be made available to the public and to Congress, ensures that the Special Counsel’s report is released in accordance with the law, without publicly revealing sources, methods, or grand jury information.

 

Below is a transcript of Sen. Warner’s full floor remarks:

Sen. Warner: Two weeks ago, after almost two years, Special Counsel Mueller filed his report with the Attorney General. The Attorney General sent us a short letter summarizing the major findings of the report.

Simply put, a summary is not going to cut it. The Attorney General’s own letter discusses the vast extent of the Special Counsel’s investigation, mentioning over 500 witness interviews, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 230 orders for communications records, and almost 50 orders for pen registers, and actually 13 requests to foreign governments. 

This is an extraordinarily extensive investigation that yielded a rich collection of facts about Russia’s attack on our democracy. The American people deserve to see the results so they can judge the facts for themselves.

We know from court filings, news reports, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s own investigations that the Russians attempted to influence the Trump campaign in many ways. At least 17 individuals in the Trump orbit had over 100 publicly released contacts with Russian officials or intermediaries. And yet, with all those 100 contacts during the midst of a campaign, somehow not one of those individuals — even those contacted with explicit offers of assistance from a hostile government — called the FBI to report those offers.

And yet, the Attorney General’s four-page summary of this sprawling investigation, a summary that according to press reports may not even accurately reflect the Mueller report, focuses almost exclusively on the criminal portion of the Mueller probe — with barely any mention of the Special Counsel’s counter-intelligence investigation into these contacts.

The Senate Intelligence Committee — the only bipartisan counter-intelligence investigation still standing — has documented extensive efforts by Russians to reach out to those around then-candidate Trump.

A few examples we have documented and have been in the public domain: Candidate Trump’s efforts to negotiate a business deal to build what was going to be called the largest building in all of Russia, negotiating on that deal throughout the whole primary process and even potentially, at least according to his attorney Mr. Giuliani, maybe negotiated all the way through the election. Data that may, in itself, not have violated laws, but I frankly think that if I were a Republican primary voter, I would have liked to have known that my potential presidential candidate was still trying to do a deal with Vladimir Putin’s government.

We also in our investigation have exposed ongoing communications between the President’s campaign chairman, Mr. Manafort, and Konstantin Kilimnik, who has ties with both Russian intelligence and the oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Our committee has made multiple criminal referrals to the Special Prosecutor based on what we learned in witnesses’ efforts to lie to us and obstruct our investigation.

This is what a counter-intelligence investigation is all about. We need to fully understand what the Russians were trying to do. And we need to be able to warn future campaigns and candidates about the lengths and new tools hostile governments will go to undermine our democracy.

Now, I believe that we can’t make that full guidance to future campaigns without a full release of this report.

Now some observers have said that the report cannot be released without jeopardizing sources and methods. Let me be clear: as Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, no one is more sensitive to those concerns than I am. But the resolution that we have specifically states that the report should be released to the public in accordance with the law. Clearly, sources and methods would not be released under this standard. Nor would grand jury information.

What we are talking about here is basic transparency. Let’s make sure the full Mueller report is released to Congress — including the underlying documents and intelligence. And then let’s make sure that the American people see as much of the report as possible, and as soon as possible. And let’s do it in that bipartisan way that protect sources and methods.

Therefore, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that as if in legislative session, the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of H Con RES. 24, Expressing the Sense of Congress that the report of Special Counsel Mueller should be made available to the public and to Congress, which is at the desk. Further, that the concurrent resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. 

Presiding Officer: Is there objection?

[Sen. Rand Paul objects]

Presiding Officer: Does the Senator from Virginia wish to modify his request?

Sen. Warner: Reserving the right to object, I would simply point out to my colleague from Kentucky that the Intelligence Community in their January 2017 report reached a unanimous conclusion. That conclusion was that Russia massively interfered in our elections. They did it in forms of hacking into personal information, and releasing it subjectively, they did it in terms of at least touching the electoral systems in 21 of our states’ election systems in ways that frankly found a great deal of vulnerabilities, and they did it in ways that manipulated social media, that quite honestly caught our Intelligence Community and social media companies off guard.

Our Intelligence Committee spent a year reviewing the conclusions of the Intelligence Community and in January of 17 unanimously agreed that the Intelligence Community’s findings were correct, the Russians interfered, they did it on behalf of one candidate, Mr. Trump, against another candidate, Mrs. Clinton, and for those reasons I respectfully object to my colleague from Kentucky.

Presiding Officer: Is there objection to the original request?

[Sen. Rand Paul objects]

Presiding Officer: Objection is heard.

Sen. Warner: Mr. President, I’ll simply close out. I hope we can move past this, the President himself has called for the release of the report, the House in a rare stroke of unanimity, voted 420 – 0. I think many in this body would like to move beyond this issue and the only way we are going to be able to move beyond this is to get this report released, get it out to the American public, let those of us who are charged with the Intelligence Community responsibilities see all of the report including the underlying documents. I hope we can get to that point.

Thank you Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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Washington, D.C.— Following reports of the arrest of Chinese national Yujin Zhang, who was apprehended by Secret Service after making false statements to enter Mar-a-Lago while carrying a thumb drive containing malware, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) today urged FBI Director Christopher Wray to assess the risks at Mar-a-Lago in light of the security vulnerabilities exposed by this latest incident. The senators asked the FBI to determine the steps needed to detect and deter adversary governments or their agents from attempting to gain access to or conduct electronic surveillance or acquire material at Mar-a-Lago or President Trump’s other properties.

According to reports, Ms. Zhang stated that she was invited to attend a non-existent event by an associate of Li “Cindy” Yang, who senior members of the congressional intelligence and judiciary committees recently asked the FBI to criminally investigate, given the credible allegations of potential human trafficking, unlawful foreign lobbying and other activities by Ms. Yang, and to assess the risks or related concerns associated with any interactions between her and the president. So far, the FBI has failed to respond. Today’s letter requests answers to the intelligence and judiciary committees’ previous letter and an assessment of the security vulnerabilities exposed by this latest incident involving Yujin Zhang.

 

The Senators’ letter can be found here and below: 

 

April 3, 2019

 

The Honorable Christopher Wray

Director

Federal Bureau of Investigation

935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20535

 

Dear Director Wray:

 

We write regarding the arrest of Yujin Zhang, a Chinese national who was apprehended by Secret Service after she allegedly made false statements to bypass security at Mar-a-Lago while carrying multiple electronic devices and a thumb drive containing malicious malware.

 

According to the information provided in the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Ms. Zhang was allowed access to the property after security staff employed at Mar-a-Lago believed her to be a relative of a member of the club. After she passed into a restricted area and was eventually questioned by a receptionist, Ms. Zhang stated that she had been invited to Mar-a-Lago to attend a non-existent United Nations Chinese American Association event by an apparent associate of Li “Cindy” Yang, who had reportedly promoted events at the club on Chinese-language social media.

 

On March 15th, senior members of the congressional intelligence and judiciary committees asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct criminal and counterintelligence investigations into credible allegations of potential human trafficking, unlawful foreign lobbying and other activities by Ms. Yang as well as an assessment of the risks or related concerns associated with any interactions between her and the President. While this request came after Ms. Yang was photographed with the President and reports that she created a business that attempted to sell access to the President and his family to clients in China, Congress has not yet received a response. 

 

This latest incident raises very serious questions regarding security vulnerabilities at Mar-a-Lago, which foreign intelligence services have reportedly targeted. The apparent ease with which Ms. Zhang gained access to the facility during the President’s weekend visit raises concerns about the system for screening visitors, including the reliance on determinations made by Mar-a-Lago employees. As the White House Communications Agency and Secret Service coordinate to establish several secure areas at Mar-a-Lago for handling classified information when the President travels there, these potential vulnerabilities have serious national security implications.  

 

Accordingly, we ask that the FBI, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, assess the risks at Mar-a-Lago posed by establishment of areas for classified information at facility accessible to the public and foreign nationals. We also ask that you determine, in consultation with the Secret Service, the steps needed to detect and deter adversary governments or their agents from attempting to gain access to or conduct electronic surveillance or acquire material at Mar-a-Lago or President Trump’s other properties.

 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We ask that you provide Congress with a written response to this letter as well as the questions related to Ms. Yang that were enumerated in the March 15th letter without delay.   

 

Sincerely,  

 

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

 

Senate Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

 

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA)

 

Enclosure

 

cc:       The Honorable Dan Coats

            Director of National Intelligence

 

            The Honorable Randolph D. Alles

            Director, U.S. Secret Service

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) called on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act portions of an essential bill to address hazards in private military housing. The Senators introduced the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act last month in response to a Reuters investigation that exposed health, safety and environmental hazards in privatized military housing throughout the United States.

“While we are pleased that the military services have realized the scope and severity of the problem, and have begun to circulate a ‘Resident Bill of Rights’ for servicemembers living in privatized housing, we strongly believe that Congress must enact legal protections for our military families and strengthen accountability mechanisms for these private companies,” the Senators wrote. 

They concluded, “We believe these reforms are necessary to ensure that contractors are responsive to servicemembers’ concerns, that military housing officials are exercising proper oversight, that servicemembers are empowered to leave any home they feel is unsafe for their family without fear of incurring a financial penalty, and, most importantly, for servicemembers and their families to live in safe and secure housing.”

Among other things, the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act would create stronger oversight mechanisms, allow the military to withhold payments to contractors until issues are resolved, and prohibit contractors from charging certain fees. It would also require the military to withhold incentive fees to poorly performing contractors.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long advocated for servicemembers and military families. Last week, they filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget resolution to ensure military families have safe and healthy housing. Sen. Warner also recently met with military families in Newport News to hear about their experiences living in privatized military housing, and Sen. Kaine recently toured privatized military housing near Naval Station Norfolk. Last month, the Senators also visited Fort Belvoir to hear from military families about their experiences with military housing.

In addition to Sens. Warner, Kaine, Feinstein, and Harris, the letter was signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Jon Tester (D-MT). 

Full text of the letter is below and a copy can be found here.

 

April 1, 2019

 

The Honorable James Inhofe

Chairman

Senate Committee on Armed Services

Russell Senate Building, Room 228

 

The Honorable Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Senate Committee on Armed Services

Russell Senate Building, Room 228

 

Dear Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed:

 

We write today to request that the Armed Services Committee include provisions of our legislation, entitled the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act, to improve privatized military housing, in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

 

As you know, major problems with privatized military housing have surfaced since Reuters first published a series of articles last year. The Reuters articles, and hearings held by your committee, have revealed that many servicemembers and their families have been forced to live in homes with serious health, safety and environmental hazards, without sufficient recourse.

 

The contractors who operate privatized military housing have too often failed to properly remedy these hazards, or outright ignored servicemembers’ concerns. The military housing officials and installation commanders responsible for ensuring that our servicemembers have safe housing have frequently fallen well short of their charge.

 

While we are pleased that the military services have realized the scope and severity of the problem, and have begun to circulate a “Resident Bill of Rights” for servicemembers living in privatized housing, we strongly believe that Congress must enact legal protections for our military families and strengthen accountability mechanisms for these private companies.

 

To that end, our bill would:

 

1)      Require installation commanders to withhold payment of a servicemember’s basic allowance for housing (BAH) until a military housing official has inspected an environmental, safety or health hazard, verified that appropriate remediation has taken place, and the servicemember concurs that the remediation is satisfactory. In the case that the hazard requires the servicemember to leave the housing unit, the contractor will pay all relocation costs. 

 

2)      Prohibit payment of a deposit, and any fee or penalty related to ending a lease early, except for normal wear and tear. The bill also requires contractors to reimburse servicemembers for damage to their private property caused by a hazard. 

 

3)      Require the Secretary of Defense to withhold incentive fees to any contractor who persistently fails to remedy hazards.

 

4)      Create standard credentials for health, safety and environmental inspectors across the services, and including contractors, to ensure consistent inspection practices.

 

5)      Require the DOD to establish an electronic system so that installation commanders and servicemembers can track and oversee work orders.

 

We believe these reforms are necessary to ensure that contractors are responsive to servicemembers’ concerns, that military housing officials are exercising proper oversight, that servicemembers are empowered to leave any home they feel is unsafe for their family without fear of incurring a financial penalty, and, most importantly, for servicemembers and their families to live in safe and secure housing.

 

We thank you for your leadership and we look forward to continuing to work on this vitally important issue.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, joined his colleagues in sending a letter to the country’s three largest election system vendors with questions to help inform the best way to move forward to strengthen the security of our voting machines. In the U.S., the three largest election equipment vendors—Election Systems & Software, LLC; Dominion Voting Systems, Inc.; and Hart InterCivic, Inc.—provide the voting machines and software used by ninety-two percent of the eligible voting population. However, voting and cybersecurity experts have begun to call attention to the lack of competition in the election vendor marketplace and the need for scrutiny by regulators as these vendors continue to produce poor technology, like machines that lack paper ballots or audibility.  

The letter was signed by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Rules Committee, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. 

“The integrity of our elections remains under serious threat. Our nation’s intelligence agencies continue to raise the alarm that foreign adversaries are actively trying to undermine our system of democracy, and will target the 2020 elections as they did the 2016 and 2018 elections,” the senators wrote. “The integrity of our elections is directly tied to the machines we vote on – the products that you make. Despite shouldering such a massive responsibility, there has been a lack of meaningful innovation in the election vendor industry and our democracy is paying the price.”

 

The full text of the letter is below:

 

March 26, 2019

 

 

Mr. Phillip Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Hart InterCivic, Inc.

 

Mr. Tom Burt

President and Chief Executive Officer

Election Systems & Software, LLC

 

Mr. John Poulos

President and Chief Executive Officer

Dominion Voting Systems

 

Dear Mr. Braithwaite, Mr. Burt, and Mr. Poulos: 

 

We write to request information about the security of the voting systems your companies manufacture and service.

 

The integrity of our elections remains under serious threat. Our nation’s intelligence agencies continue to raise the alarm that foreign adversaries are actively trying to undermine our system of democracy, and will target the 2020 elections as they did the 2016 and 2018 elections. Following the attack on our election systems in 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated election infrastructure as critical infrastructure in order to protect our democracy from future attacks and we have taken important steps to prioritize election security. We appreciate the work that your companies have done in helping to set up the Sector Coordinating Council (SCC) for the Election Infrastructure Subsector.

 

Despite the progress that has been made, election security experts and federal and state government officials continue to warn that more must be done to fortify our election systems. Of particular concern is the fact that many of the machines that Americans use to vote have not been meaningfully updated in nearly two decades. Although each of your companies has a combination of older legacy machines and newer systems, vulnerabilities in each present a problem for the security of our democracy and they must be addressed. 

 

On February 15, the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Commissioners unanimously voted to publish the proposed Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0 (VVSG) Principles and Guidelines in the Federal Register for a 90 day public comment period. As you know, this begins the long-awaited process of updating the Principles and Guidelines that inform testing and certification associated with functionality, accessibility, accuracy, auditability, and security. The VVSG have not been comprehensively updated since 2005 – before the iPhone was invented – and unfortunately, experts predict that updated guidelines will not be completed in time to have an impact on the 2020 elections. While the timeline for completing VVSG 2.0 is frustrating, these guidelines are voluntary and they establish a baseline – not a ceiling – for voting equipment. Furthermore, VVSG 1.1 has been available for testing since 2015.

 

In other words, the fact that VVSG 2.0 remains a work in progress is not an excuse for the fact that our voting equipment has not kept pace both with technological innovation and mounting cyber threats. There is a consensus among cybersecurity experts regarding the fact that voter-verifiable paper ballots and the ability to conduct a reliable audit are basic necessities for a reliable voting system. Despite this, each of your companies continues to produce some machines without paper ballots. The fact that you continue to manufacture and sell outdated products is a sign that the marketplace for election equipment is broken. These issues combined with the technical vulnerabilities facing our election machines explain why the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reportedly working to develop an open source voting machine that would be secure and allow people to ensure their votes were tallied correctly.  

 

As the three largest election equipment vendors, your companies provide voting machines and software used by 92 percent of the eligible voting population in the U.S. This market concentration is one factor among many that could be contributing to the lack of innovation in election equipment. The integrity of our elections is directly tied to the machines we vote on – the products that you make. Despite shouldering such a massive responsibility, there has been a lack of meaningful innovation in the election vendor industry and our democracy is paying the price.

 

In order to help improve our understanding of your businesses and the integrity of our election systems, we respectfully request answers to the following questions by April 9, 2019:

 

  1. What specific steps are you taking to strengthen election security ahead of 2020? How can Congress and the federal government support these actions?

 

  1. What additional information is necessary regarding VVSG 2.0 in order for your companies to begin developing systems that comply with the new guidelines?

 

  1. Do you anticipate producing systems that will be tested for compliance with VVSG 1.1? Why or why not?

 

  1. What steps, if any, are you taking to enhance the security of your oldest legacy systems in the field, many of which have not been meaningfully updated (if at all) in over a decade?

 

  1. How do EAC certification requirements and the certification process affect your ability to create new election systems and to regularly update your election systems?

 

  1. Do you support federal efforts to require the use of hand-marked paper ballots for most voters in federal elections?  Why or why not?

 

  1. How are you working to ensure that your voting systems are compatible with the EAC’s ballot design guidelines (i.e. “Effective Designs for the Administration of Federal Elections”)? 

 

  1. Experts have raised significant concerns about the risks of ballot marking machines that store voter choice information in non-transparent forms that cannot be reviewed by voters (i.e. such as barcodes or QR codes), noting that errors in the printed vote record could potentially evade detection by voters. Do you currently sell any machines whose paper records do not permit voters to review the same information that the voting system uses for tabulation? If so, do you believe this practice is secure enough to be used in the 2020 election cycle?

 

  1. Do you make voting systems with Cast Vote Records (CVRs) that can be reliably connected to specific unique ballots, while also maintaining voter privacy? If not, why not? Does your company make voting systems that allow for a machine-readable data export of these CVRs in a format that is presentation-agnostic (such as JSON) and can be reliably parsed without substantial technical effort? If not, why not?

 

  1. Would you support federal legislation requiring expanded use of routine post-election audits, such as risk-limiting audits, in federal elections? Why or why not?

 

  1. What portion of your revenue is invested into research and development to produce better and more cost effective voting equipment?

 

  1. Congress is currently working on legislation to establish information sharing procedures for vendors regarding security threats. How does your company currently define a reportable cyber-incident and what protocols are in place to report incidents to government officials?
  2. What steps are you taking to improve supply chain security? To the extent your machines operate using custom, non-commodity hardware, what measures are you taking to ensure that the supply chains for your custom hardware components are monitored and secure?

 

  1. Do you employ a full-time cybersecurity expert whose role is fully dedicated to improving the security of your systems? If so, how long have they been on staff, and what title and authority do they have within your company? Do you conduct background checks on potential employees who would be involved in building and servicing election systems?

 

  1. Does your company operate, or plan to operate, a vulnerability disclosure program that authorizes good-faith security research and testing of your systems, and provides a clear reporting mechanism when vulnerabilities are discovered? If not, what makes it difficult for your company to do so, and how can Congress and the federal government help make it less difficult?

 

  1. How will DARPA’s work impact how your company develops and manufactures voting machines?

 

We look forward to your answers to these questions, and thank you for your efforts to work with us and with state election officials around the country to improve the security of our nation’s elections.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced that the Air Force recommends relocating the F-22 Flight and Maintenance Formal Training Unit (FTU) to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton Roads: 

“We are pleased that after careful evaluation, the U.S. Air Force has determined that Joint Base Langley-Eustis should permanently house the F-22 training squadron. There is nowhere better to house these aircraft, the unit and supporting personnel and their families than Hampton Roads – a region celebrated for its defense assets and long history of strengthening our nation’s national security. We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force and the Virginia Air National Guard as it moves forward with the relocation process.”

While Joint Base-Langley Eustis (JBLE) is designed to accommodate three squadrons, the base currently houses two squadrons. In February, Sens. Warner and Kaine led the entire Virginia delegation in a letter urging the Air Force Secretary to permanently house the F-22 training squadron at JBLE after Hurricane Michael devastated Tyndall Air Force Base. The unit was then temporarily relocated to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida while the Air Force determined the most appropriate permanent home for the Formal Training Unit. 

Today, the U.S. Air Force announced that it has determined JBLE is the most suitable F-22 location to support Formal Training Unit operations. The Air Force will make its final basing decision following compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory and planning processes.

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) along with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), members of the Senate Committee on the Budget, filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget resolution to ensure military families have safe and healthy housing. The amendment would protect the wellbeing of our nation’s military families by creating a reserve fund to address health hazards in military housing.

“Thousands of servicemembers call Virginia home, and their experiences with unsafe living conditions in housing are disturbing and unacceptable,” said Sen. Warner. “This amendment would ensure we can improve housing conditions for servicemembers and their families, whether they’re stationed here in the Commonwealth or across the country.” 

“Too many of our troops and their families are living in unacceptable conditions,” said Sen. Kaine. “When servicemembers are deployed, their families not only have to worry about their loved ones in harm’s way, but many of them have to endure added anxiety caused by lead, mold, or rodent infestations in their homes. Military families sacrifice so much to serve our nation – they shouldn’t have to tolerate horrible housing conditions, and our amendment is part of an effort to make sure they never have to again.” 

“Members of our military and their families in California and across the nation make sacrifices every day and their housing should be clean and free from health hazards,” said Sen. Harris.  “I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this common-sense amendment to ensure our nation’s military families live in the safe and comfortable housing that they deserve.”  

The proposed amendment would reaffirm a commitment by Congress to address pervasive allegations of health hazards at privatized military housing under the budget resolution. The health hazard allegations include mold blooms, lead poisoning, cockroaches, rodent infestations, and water leaks.  

In February, Sens. Warner, Kaine and Harris introduced the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act, which would create stronger oversight mechanisms over private military housing, allow the military to withhold payments to contractors until issues are resolved, and prohibit contractors from charging certain fees. It would also require the military to withhold incentive fees to poorly performing contractors.

The Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to begin its two-day markup on the FY20 budget resolution on Wednesday, March 27.

 The budget amendment text can be found here.

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), joined with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Committee, to introduce bipartisan legislation to protect the integrity of the security clearance process and ensure that it cannot be abused for political purposes.

“Americans should be able to have confidence that the security clearance process is being used only to protect our nation’s greatest secrets,” said Sen. Warner. “Our bipartisan bill will make clear that security clearances are not to be used as a tool to punish political opponents or reward family members, but to ensure personnel are thoroughly vetted to the highest standards.”

“The security clearance system is critical to protecting our country from harm and safeguarding access to our secrets. Americans should have the utmost confidence in the integrity of the security clearance process,” said Sen. Collins. “This bipartisan bill would make the current system more fair and transparent by ensuring that decisions to grant, deny, or revoke clearances are based solely on established adjudicative guidelines.” 

The Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act will ensure that the security clearance process is fair, objective, transparent, and accountable by requiring decisions to grant, deny, or revoke clearances to be based on published criteria. It explicitly prohibits the executive branch from revoking security clearances based on the exercise of constitutional rights, such as the right to freely express political views, or for purposes of political retaliation. It also bans agencies from using security clearances to punish whistleblowers or discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, religion, age, handicap, or national origin.

The bipartisan bill also codifies in statute the right of government employees to appeal decisions to deny or revoke a security clearance, and requires the government to publicly publish the results of such appeals – providing transparency, accountability and basic due process rights in an otherwise opaque and irregular process. 

The legislation aims to enhance the rigor and accountability of our security clearance process and to prevent abuses. It complements other reforms the executive branch is undertaking to modernize how the government processes clearances, and was developed with input from a wide range of experts across the government and in private law practice. 

A copy of the bill text is available here. 

 

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Washington – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, wrote today to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, requesting areview of the Trump administration’s compliance with security clearance policies and procedures. This request comes on the heels of alarming reports that detail how President Trump ignored objections from White House Counsel Donald McGahn and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, and granted security clearances to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner.

“We write to request that you review compliance by the Executive Office of the President (EOP) with policies and procedures governing security clearances and access to secure compartmented information (SCI),” the Senators wrote. “We also request that you review the adequacy of policies and procedures to ensure that mitigation measures are implemented when eligibility to access to classified information is granted despite potential security risks. We believe that you have the authority and expertise to conduct this review, including in your role as Security Executive Agent under Executive Order 13467.” 

The improper handling of these clearances is just the latest in a series of allegations that highlight substantial irregularities and questionable decisions by the Trump Administration. Additional reports claim that former White House Staff Secretary Robert Porter was allowed to handle extremely sensitive information for over a year with an interim clearance, despite his record of domestic abuse, and that the White House overturned an unprecedented 30 clearance adjudication recommendations made by career security professionals. 

Noting that the Trump Administration is currently working on transforming the security clearance system to reflect new threats, modern technologies, and the nation’s mobile workforce, the Senators emphasized the need to ensure that today’s system operates with integrity, especially at the White House.

Sen. Warner has been an outspoken critic of the Trump Administration’s abuse of the security clearance process. He also recently reintroduced legislation to modernize the government’s antiquated security clearance system and reduce the background investigation backlog.

 

Full text of the letter is below and a copy can be found here.

 

March 8, 2019

 

The Honorable Daniel Coats

Director of National Intelligence

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Washington, DC 20511

 

The Honorable Michael K. Atkinson

Inspector General of the Intelligence Community

Washington, DC 20511

 

Dear Director Coats and Inspector General Atkinson:

 

We write to request that you review compliance by the Executive Office of the President (EOP) with policies and procedures governing security clearances and access to secure compartmented information (SCI).  We also request that you review the adequacy of policies and procedures to ensure that mitigation measures are implemented when eligibility to access to classified information is granted despite potential security risks.  We believe that you have the authority and expertise to conduct this review, including in your role as Security Executive Agent under Executive Order 13467.

 

Public reporting over the last two years has raised serious concerns of alleged irregularities and questionable decisions related to eligibility determinations for EOP personnel access to classified information. These allegations include abuse in granting interim clearances, to include for access to SCI; revoking a former senior intelligence official’s eligibility for access to classified information seemingly for reasons of political retribution; overruling unfavorable adjudications made by career security professionals in some 30 cases; and the President’s decision himself to grant his daughter and son-in-law clearances despite the documented concerns from the White House Counsel and Chief of Staff.

 

The Administration is undertaking an important transformation of the security clearance system to reflect today’s threats, today’s mobile workforce, and modern technologies.  While we must stay focused on that larger reform effort, we must ensure that today’s system operates with integrity, particularly at the White House.

 

We look forward to your attention to this matter and request you brief us on the results of your reviews within 60 days.

 

Sincerely,

 

###

 

Washington – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, urged Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to issue a comprehensive and unclassified report on China’s participation in the international standard-setting bodies (ISSBs) for fifth-generation wireless telecommunications technologies (5G). This report would allow companies in the U.S. to fully assess any existing threats to fair competition and push back against them.

“In 2012, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s study on Huawei and ZTE drew attention globally to the security concerns associated with certain Chinese telecommunication and information technology companies,” wrote the Senators.“Similarly, we believe Chinese influence in our ISSBs is not fully appreciated, and the IC can play an essential role in filling the publicly available information gap—a necessary first step to countering this trend.”

American companies do not currently have access to crucial information regarding China’s alleged use of political influence in ISSBs or other anti-competitive practices, such as the state-directed coordination of large Chinese telecommunications firms. These practices can undermine fair competition, hinder the ability of us companies to sell and scale their technologies, and raise serious economic and security concerns for U.S. networks and future generations of wireless technologies.

Prompted by a series of anecdotal concerns raised to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) regarding China’s attempt to politically influence the ISSBs, the Senators urged Director Coats to issue a report detailing: 

1.             Overall trends in the ISSBs over the past decade and the implications of politicization of ISSBs;

2.             Specific examples of attempts by China and other foreign adversaries to exert pressure or political influence within the ISSBs or at major telecommunication conferences to secure standards that are favorable to Chinese companies and patent holders, or that might introduce deficiencies into 5G networks; and,

3.             How Chinese-led standards for 5G technologies will affect U.S. economic and security interests, including efforts by U.S. companies to sell and scale its technologies, the ability of the U.S. to position itself for future generations of wireless technology, and to protect against cyber intrusions and security vulnerabilities.

They concluded, “We hope that this report will be part of an ongoing effort to share more timely and relevant information with U.S. companies and our allies. The U.S. cannot tackle this issue alone and must work closely with our international partners—including the European Union, Great Britain, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada—on how we may collectively strengthen security standards, supply chain management, and market share of critical technologies. To the greatest extent possible, we urge the IC to declassify relevant information.”

Sens. Warner and Rubio are the lead sponsors of bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China. Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies. On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. Warner has also urged the Administration to work with our allies to combat these technology threats. Sens. Warner and Rubio are also the authors of bipartisan legislation to enforce full compliance by ZTE with all probationary conditions of a U.S. Commerce Department’s deal struck with the company last year that ended U.S. imposed sanctions.

 

Full text of the letter is below and a copy can be found here.

 

Director Dan Coats

Director of National Intelligence

1500 Tysons McLean Drive

McLean, VA 22102

 

Dear Director Coats:

 

We are writing to request an unclassified report on the participation of China and other adversarial nations in the international standard-setting bodies (“ISSBs”)  for fifth-generation wireless telecommunications technologies (“5G”). Over the past year, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (“SSCI”) has heard anecdotal concerns that China is attempting to exert pressure or political influence in the ISSBs, which have historically functioned as technological meritocracies. Not only does political influence undermine fair competition, it also raises serious economic and security concerns for 5G and future generations of wireless technologies.

 

Currently, U.S. companies do not have access to critical information about the nature of this threat, and the degree of state-directed coordination amongst large Chinese telecommunication firms seeking to gain a critical edge in wireless technologies. Without adequate information, U.S. companies cannot effectively push back against this behavior, nor can the United States coordinate with our allies to deter anticompetitive practices in the ISSBs. 

 

Specifically, we request a detailed and unclassified report, to the extent possible, from the Intelligence Community (“IC”) on the following items:

 

1.                  Overall trends in the ISSBs over the past decade and the implications of politicization of ISSBs, if there is evidence of such trends;

 

2.                  Specific examples and case studies of attempts by China and other foreign adversaries to exert pressure or political influence within the ISSBs or at major telecommunication conferences to secure standards that are favorable to Chinese companies and patent holders, or that might introduce deficiencies into 5G networks; and,

 

3.                  Implications of Chinese-led standards for 5G technologies and how that will affect U.S. economic and security interests, including efforts by U.S. companies to sell and scale its technologies, the ability of the U.S. to position itself for future generations of wireless technology, and to protect against cyber intrusions and security vulnerabilities.

 

In 2012, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s study on Huawei and ZTE drew attention globally to the security concerns associated with certain Chinese telecommunication and information technology companies. Similarly, we believe Chinese influence in our ISSBs is not fully appreciated, and the IC can play an essential role in filling the publicly available information gap—a necessary first step to countering this trend. 

 

We hope that this report will be part of an ongoing effort to share more timely and relevant information with U.S. companies and our allies. The U.S. cannot tackle this issue alone and must work closely with our international partners—including the European Union, Great Britain, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada—on how we may collectively strengthen security standards, supply chain management, and market share of critical technologies. To the greatest extent possible, we urge the IC to declassify relevant information.

 

We appreciate your attention to this important matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) wrote today to the Secretaries of the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force, asking for detailed information regarding the military’s contracts with private companies to provide on-base housing for military families in Virginia. Prompted by pervasive allegations of health hazards – including lead poisoning, cockroaches, mice, mold blooms and water leaks – the Senators raised concerns about existing contracts with several private companies that manage thousands of family housing units at military bases across Virginia, and asked each of the services to provide copies of any existing policies and operating procedures meant to hold companies accountable for health and safety failures.  

“Military families make great sacrifices for our nation and they deserve housing that is safe and healthy,” said the Senators. “It is crucial that military leaders prioritize the well-being of military families and hold private housing companies accountable for anyhealth hazards or issues.” 

The specific contracts and locations for which the Senators requested information include:

  • Lincoln Military Housing, a residential real estate management company that provides 36,000 housing units for military families nationwide, including 5,700 units for Navy and Marine Corps servicemembers stationed at Dahlgren, Wallops, Quantico, and throughout Hampton Roads; 
  • Balfour Beatty Communities, Clark Realty Capital and Hunt Military Communities, which manage military homes for families stationed at Fort Belvoir, Fort Story, Fort Eustis, and Fort Lee; and
  • Hunt Military Communities, which manages approximately 1,430 units at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.  

In letters addressed to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, the Senators asked for: 

  • Copies of housing contracts with private companies;
  • Copies of any service- or department-level guidance and policy documents that relate directly to contracting for on-base privatized housing;
  • Any information about any cure notices that may have been sent to contractors regarding failures to adhere to contractual obligations at Virginia installations; and
  • Copies of standard operating procedures to responding to and rectifying problems in government-owned housing, such as mold, mildew, lead paint,  and other habitability, safety, and health complaints in government-owned housing. 

This is not the first time that Sens. Warner and Kaine have taken actions to address concerns with military housing conditions. In August of 2018, both Senators pressed Secretary Esper to address lead poisoning concerns at a number of Army installations, including Fort Belvoir. Additionally, last November, Sen. Warner asked the Department of Defense to provide a detailed briefing outlining the Defense Department’s plan to ensure the safety of military families residing in both public and private housing. He alsomet with Secretary Esper earlier this month to emphasize the importance of prioritizing improvements to military housing conditions. In the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Kaine has called on military leaders and private companies charged with maintaining housing to work together to quickly address these problems.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate India Caucus, released the following statement on rising tensions in the Kashmir Region, following the reported downing by Pakistan of an Indian military plane and a terrorist attack that killed 40 Indian military police earlier this month:

“We condemn the horrific attack on Indian security forces by a known terrorist group based in Pakistan. For too long Pakistan has harbored terrorist groups that have threatened stability in Asia and around the world. At the same time, it is critical that both India and Pakistan take immediate measures to deescalate the volatile situation along their border. We urge the governments of both nuclear-armed neighbors to step back and avoid further provocative actions while keeping open lines of communication and working to reduce tensions.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The Democratic National Security leadership in the U.S. Senate today wrote a letter to President Donald Trump expressing their views about his upcoming summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  Reiterating their support for “a path forward for tough and principled diplomacy to secure, monitor, and verify the denuclearization of North Korea,” the group of Senators added that President Trump’s meeting with Chairman Kim must not merely serve as a photo-opportunity benefiting North Korea and also requested regular, classified briefings on the ongoing diplomatic process to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons and key missile programs.  

Today’s letter was signed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader and Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Ranking Member Dick Durbin, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chair Mark Warner, Senate National Security Working Group Co-Chair Dianne Feinstein, Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chair and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed. 

“We hope you will execute a serious diplomatic plan, which includes a sequenced process to verifiably freeze and roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs in conjunction with continued appropriate sanctions and other pressure; a robust deterrence posture; strengthened alliances; intensified diplomatic and economic engagement; and a deepening of North-South dialogue that over time can provide the pathway to full denuclearization and a durable peace agreement,” wrote the Senators, noting that, according to the U.S. Intelligence Community, Pyongyang had made little progress towards the goal of full denuclearization. “We believe your next meeting with Kim thus must demonstrate tangible, verifiable progress on denuclearization and reducing tensions with the North.”

Today’s letter follows a similar request sent before President Trump’s first Summit with Kim Jong Un last year which outlined the necessary conditions for Congress to lift sanctions as part of any deal with North Korea.

“The Singapore meeting gave Kim -- the leader of perhaps the world’s most repressive regime -- legitimacy and acceptance on the global stage while effectively undermining our policy of maximum pressure and sanctions, which now appear to be in the process of showing strain, and putting at risk vital alliance relationships,” concluded the Senators, urging the President to provide Congress with regular briefings on any diplomatic engagement with North Korea.

 

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

 

 

February 24, 2019

 

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

As you prepare for your second meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, we write to express our shared desire for a diplomatic solution which will ensure the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. A successful diplomatic agreement with North Korea that advances the goals described in the Singapore Statement of “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula” and “complete denuclearization of the peninsula” would represent a historic accomplishment.  

While we acknowledge Kim Jong Un’s change in behavior since your first meeting, we remain concerned owing to testimony on January 29, 2019 before the Senate Intelligence Committee, when our community intelligence leaders reported that the U.S. Intelligence Community is observing North Korean “activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization,” a statement that runs counter to the multiple assertions you have made about progress in the past year, including your claim after the Singapore meeting that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat. While you may disagree, we also note the assessment of ODNI Director Coats that “we currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.”

The Singapore meeting gave Kim -- the leader of perhaps the world’s most repressive regime -- legitimacy and acceptance on the global stage while effectively undermining our policy of maximum pressure and sanctions, which now appear to be in the process of showing strain, and putting at risk vital alliance relationships. 

As strong advocates for a diplomatic pathway to resolve the North Korea threat, we still believe there is a path forward for tough and principled diplomacy to secure, monitor, and verify the denuclearization of North Korea.  

We are pleased to see seasoned professionals like Special Representative Steve Biegun working to achieve this goal.  We hope you will execute a serious diplomatic plan, which includes a sequenced process to verifiably freeze and roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs in conjunction with continued appropriate sanctions and other pressure; a robust deterrence posture; strengthened alliances; intensified diplomatic and economic engagement; and a deepening of North-South dialogue that over time can provide the pathway to full denuclearization and a durable peace agreement. We believe your next meeting with Kim thus must demonstrate tangible, verifiable progress on denuclearization and reducing tensions with the North. 

As the U.S. pursues this goal, it is crucial that we maintain our alliances in Asia, and in particular with the Republic of Korea and Japan, at the center of our policy towards North Korea.  Resolving the North Korea nuclear threat is a national security imperative, and deepening our alliances, maintaining our military posture, and strengthening our partnerships are fundamental to building the architecture of a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

Meeting the challenge of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, as well as addressing other issues such as North Korea’s systemic, gross violations of human rights, is of concern to all Americans and to our allies and partners. We believe that Congress therefore has an important role to play in working with the administration to shape U.S. policy toward North Korea.  To that end, we would like to establish a process for regular and substantive briefings, including classified briefings, on U.S. policy and strategy and diplomatic engagements.

We look forward to working with your administration to secure a meaningful agreement to address the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea in a manner that significantly enhances the security of the United States, our allies, and the world.

Sincerely,

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) were joined by every member of the Virginia congressional delegation in urging U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to relocate the F-22 Flight and Maintenance Formal Training Units (FTU) to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton Roads. Originally located at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael in October of 2018, the squadron is being temporarily held at Eglin Air Force Base, awaiting a decision by Secretary Wilson as to where it will be housed permanently.

“Beyond the existing ramp space and infrastructure at Langley that would allow it to quickly receive aircraft at minimal additional cost, a decision to move the F-22 FTU to Langley would leverage a number of key benefits that Langley and the surrounding areas have,” said the members of Congress. “The Hampton Roads area has a long history of supporting our nation’s military and their families, and would provide strong recruiting and retention ability.”

“Additionally, the Virginia Air National Guard stands uniquely positioned to support the FTU, with experienced instructors and maintainers well versed on the platform,” they continued. “We ask that you give full consideration to Joint Base Langley-Eustis as a host to this mission.”

Built to accommodate three squadrons, Joint Base Langley-Eustis is currently underutilized, housing only two F-22 squadrons and supporting maintenance units. Moving the F-22 FTU would advance an important recommendation put forward by the Government Accountability Office, which has emphasized the need for improving aircraft availability by consolidating the fleet into larger squadrons or wings.

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

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

 

The Honorable Heather Wilson

Secretary of the Air Force

1670 Air Force Pentagon

Washington, DC 20330-1670

 

Dear Secretary Wilson:

In December 2018, you announced that the Air Force would conduct a Strategic Basing Process to determine the new location for the F-22 Flight and Maintenance Formal Training Units (FTU). As the Air Force looks to move this mission from Tyndall AFB, and its temporary location at Eglin AFB, we write to express our strong support for moving the mission to Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

While Joint Base Langley-Eustis currently has two F-22 squadrons, as well as supporting maintenance units, it was built for the beddown of three squadrons, thereby underutilizing the airspace and Air Force investment in ramp, hangar, and operations support facilities. The east coast Mid-Atlantic training ranges provide an excellent opportunity to train with other 4th and 5th generation aircraft in the region. Moving the F-22 FTU to Langley would advance one of the recommendations put forward by the Government Accountability Office regarding F-22 organization: the need for “consolidating the fleet into larger squadrons and/or wings in order to improve aircraft availability.” 

Beyond the existing ramp space and infrastructure at Langley that would allow it to quickly receive aircraft at minimal additional cost, a decision to move the F-22 FTU to Langley would leverage a number of key benefits that Langley and the surrounding areas have. The Hampton Roads area has a long history of supporting our nation’s military and their families, and would provide strong recruiting and retention ability. Additionally, the Virginia Air National Guard stands uniquely positioned to support the FTU, with experienced instructors and maintainers well versed on the platform. 

We ask that you give full consideration to Joint Base Langley-Eustis as a host to this mission. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for any additional information.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

###

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper and pressed him on what the Army is doing to resolve serious hazards in military housing reported at several bases in Virginia.

A recent investigation by Reuters alleged significant problems in base housing such as cockroaches, mice, mold and leaks, and described the difficulty that military families have encountered in getting the private management companies that own and operate the housing to address issues posing health hazards for families living in the homes. As part of its investigation, Reuters identified problems at several facilities across the country, including Fort Belvoir, Quantico, Oceana Naval Air Station, and other military bases in Hampton Roads. 

“Our nation’s military families deserve better than this. They deserve safe and healthy housing, free from mold, lead, pests, and other hazards,” said Sen. Warner. “In our meeting today, I told Secretary Esper that I expect the Army to make improving military housing conditions a top priority and hold accountable any companies who may have profited off the mistreatment of military families.” 

In November, Warner sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis regarding the “unacceptable conditions” documented in the homes. In the letter, he demanded a briefing from the Defense Department on the current situation, as well as a plan from DoD to ensure the safety of military families residing in private housing moving forward. 

In August, Sen. Warner – along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) – also pressed Secretary Esper to address problems with lead poisoning affecting families at several Army bases around the country, including Fort Belvoir.

This isn’t the first time Sen. Warner has intervened on behalf of military families experiencing health hazards in military housing. Back in 2011, dozens of military families stationed in Norfolk described problems with Lincoln Military Housing, one of the contractors identified in Reuters’ recent reporting. As now, the affected families – experiencing issues such as leaks, mold, and infestation – recounted major difficulties in getting the company or the Navy to take the complaints seriously. After Sen. Warner got involved, however, Navy brass and Lincoln executives pledged to improve their responsiveness, and the company took steps to address mold and other hazards.  

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Doug Jones (D-AL) today re-introduced the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act, a bipartisan bill to enforce full compliance by ZTE, a Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm that repeatedly violated U.S. laws, with all probationary conditions in the Commerce Department’s July 2018 deal to lift the denial order’s seven-year ban against the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE. If the Commerce Secretary cannot regularly certify ZTE’s full compliance with the deal and with relevant U.S. export controls and sanctions laws, the denial order’s crippling punishments will be reinstated against ZTE. 

“When it comes to violating U.S. sanctions and deceiving our government, ZTE is a repeat offender. Companies like ZTE threaten our security and compromise American interests but this administration has failed to hold them accountable. This much-needed legislation will force the telecom firm to play by the rules by imposing punitive measures if ZTE once again violates trade restrictions or its agreement with the U.S,” said Senator Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to hold the Chinese state-directed telecoms company, ZTE, accountable for repeated violations of U.S. exports controls and sanctions laws," Senator Rubio said. “China’s communist government continues to threaten our national security interests through state-directed actors and, while it was a mistake to strike a ‘deal’ with ZTE in the first place, this bill would ensure ZTE is held accountable if and when it cheats again.” 

“ZTE’s actions represent a threat to our national security. While we work on a broader strategy to combat China’s theft of advanced U.S. technology and brazen violation of U.S. law, we must act to ensure ZTE is not able to violate the current agreement with the Department of Commerce or break our laws. This bipartisan legislation will help hold their feet to the fire and should be considered without delay,” Senator Van Hollen said. 

“Having continuously violated American sanctions on Iran and North Korea, ZTE’s disregard for U.S. laws undermines our national security interests and cannot be tolerated,” Senator Collins said. “Our bipartisan bill would require the Department of Commerce to monitor ZTE and effectively put ZTE out of business if they are found to be noncompliant, ensuring the safety of our economy and national security.” 

“ZTE – with the support of the Chinese government – has repeatedly violated U.S. sanctions, and they must be held accountable for their actions,” Senator Moran said. “The bipartisan ZERO Act would authorize the Commerce Department to monitor ZTE and make certain they are not violating the current trade agreement. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to protect our national security interests from bad actors and ensure ZTE faces severe penalties if they break the law again.” 

“ZTE must be held accountable for violating our sanctions laws and threatening U.S. national security interests, not given a slap on the wrist and allowed to do business in the United States,” Senator Warren said. “I’m glad to work with Senators in both parties on a bill to ensure that this company faces severe penalties if it breaks the law again or violates its settlement agreement.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Navy and Huntington Ingalls Industries announced a final contract to block buy two Ford-class aircraft carriers:

“A big congratulations is due to the Navy and Huntington Ingalls Industries for finalizing a deal that will save 4 billion in taxpayer dollars and help keep the country safe,” Senators Warner and Kaine said. “Virginia’s shipbuilders make the finest carriers in the world, and we have long pushed the Navy to make this smart investment by block buying the newest class of ships. We are also glad that this move will help provide stability for the Hampton Roads defense community, ensuring that the shipyards can maintain the workforce they will need to help us reach the Navy’s goal of a 355-ship fleet.”   

Warner and Kaine have long supported the block buying of aircraft carriers. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kaine championed language that was included in the annual defense bill to allow for a block buy. Warner and Kaine both supported this effort in funding bills and discussed the benefits with military leadership.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, reintroduced legislation to modernize our antiquated security clearance system, reduce the background investigation backlog and ensure the government has the trusted workforce necessary to perform its national security and public safety missions. Last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) added the government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Process to their High-Risk List of federal areas in need of broad-based transformation or specific reform to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.  This legislation was first introduced in December 2018 and draws on provisions from the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018/2019, which was unanimously reported out of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 2018. 

Sen. Warner also wrote to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Director of National Intelligence Coats and other key officials, to reiterate his call for urgent and aggressive implementation of needed reforms. 

“The current vetting process for security clearances and positions of trust is too complicated, takes too long, costs too much, and fails to capitalize on modern technology and processes,” wrote Sen. Warner. “We are taking too many security risks and losing talented people who are not willing to endure a years-long process. Our current system is broken and needs a revolution.” 

“In order to achieve our shared objectives, we must avoid politicizing and delaying reform efforts,” he continued. “We must act now, especially amidst allegations of inappropriate granting and revoking of clearances and anxieties caused by the government shutdown.”

The Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act would:

  • Hold the Executive Branch accountable for addressing the immediate background investigation backlog crisis.
  • Provide a plan for consolidating the National Background Investigation Bureau at the Department of Defense.
  • Implement practical reforms so that policies and clearance timelines can be designed to reflect modern circumstances. 
  • Require that reforms be implemented equally for all departments, and for personnel requiring a clearance, regardless of whether they are employed by the government or industry.
  • Strengthen oversight of the personnel vetting apparatus by codifying the Director of National Intelligence’s responsibilities as the Security Executive Agent.
  • Promote innovation, including by analyzing how a determination of trust clearance can be tied to a person, not to an agency’s sponsorship. 

“PSC and the contractor community owe Vice Chairman Warner thanks for his tenacious and persistent focus on modernizing and streamlining the federal government’s security clearance processes,” said David J. Berteau, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council. “Excessive backlogs and wait times add risk to government missions, contract performance, and the ability of both the government and contractors to recruit and hire the talent we need. Enactment of the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act will reduce these negative impacts while maintaining integrity in the system and better protecting our national security.”

“We deeply appreciate Senator Warner’s leadership on critical security clearance reform. For our members to attract and retain technology talent, we must seriously reduce the clearance cycle time. This is crucial for our ability to serve the nation effectively,”said Bobbie Kilberg, CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council.  

“While the security clearance backlog is slowly getting smaller, we need urgent steps to ensure the U.S. government and U.S. companies doing critical national security work can recruit, hire, and retain talented individuals to work on classified programs. AIA supports the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2018 as a positive step towards resolving the security clearance backlog and positioning us to employ the workforce essential to ensuring our security into the future," said Eric Fanning, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. 

Sen. Warner has been a strong voice on security clearance reform, urging the White House to prioritize reforms to the clearance process. 

During the recent partial government shutdown, Sen. Warner wrote to the Administration to ensure that federal employees did not have their security clearances jeopardized through no fault of their own, due to their loss of pay.

For more information on this legislation, click here. 

The bill is available here. The full text of the letter is available here and below.

 

 

January 31, 2019

 

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney

Acting White House Chief of Staff

The White House

Washington, DC  20503

 

The Honorable Margaret Weichert

Deputy Director of the Office of Management & Budget,

Acting Director, Office of Personnel Management

Chair, Performance Accountability Council

The White House

Washington, DC 20503

 

The Honorable Daniel Coats

Director of National Intelligence

Washington, DC 20511

 

The Honorable Joseph Kernan

Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence

5000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-5000

 

Dear Mr. Mulvaney, Ms. Weichert, Mr. Coats, and Mr. Kernan:

 

I write you to reiterate my March 13 and September 25, 2018, letters to then-chief of staff John F. Kelly, calling for urgent and aggressive implementation of reforms to the government’s antiquated process for ensuring we have a trusted government and contract workforce.

 

The current vetting process for security clearances and positions of trust is too complicated, takes too long, costs too much, and fails to capitalize on modern technology and processes.  We are taking too many security risks and losing talented people who are not willing to endure a years-long process.  Our current system is broken and needs a revolution.  In order to achieve our shared objectives, we must avoid politicizing and delaying reform efforts.  We must act now, especially amidst allegations of inappropriate granting and revoking of clearances and anxieties caused by the government shutdown.

 

A new vetting paradigm should be built on a few basic principles, delineated in a bill I introduced last year and am reintroducing in the 116th Congress, S. 3724, Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2018.

 

·         Accountability: requiring plans for reducing the background investigation inventory to a steady state of roughly 200,000 from its high point of 725,000 in April 2018; consolidating the National Background Investigation Bureau (NBIB) in the Department of Defense; and maintaining transparency in the costs of background investigations; and ensuring reciprocity. 

 

·         Reform: rethinking the current suite of investigative methods; adopting consistent and clear policy for interim clearances, uniform treatment of government and contract personnel, and use of automated records checks; setting bold design goals to process applications for SECRET clearances in 30 days and TOP SECRET clearances in 90 days; and ensuring prompt reciprocity. 

 

·         Oversight: codifying the roles and responsibilities of the DNI as the government’s Security Executive Agent in statute.  

 

·         Innovation: employing a process that reflects current threats, a mobile workforce, and modern technologies; reduces the complexity of a five-tier system; enables sharing of derogatory information between and among government agencies and contractors; and reexamines which positions even need a clearance.

 

The good news is that I believe the executive branch is contemplating many of these reforms.  An executive order to consolidate NBIB at the Department of Defense has been under consideration for many months.  The Performance Accountability Council is poised to implement a Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative with a comprehensive policy and process framework, but that first requires White House endorsement. 

 

I urge you to act swiftly and aggressively to push forward these much needed reforms.

 

I stand ready to help provide legislative and oversight leadership an effective, efficient, accountable, and fair process to ensure we have a trusted workforce.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON— Today, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Committee member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced that their bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China has picked up four new bipartisan Senate co-sponsors. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have co-sponsored Warner and Rubio’s legislation to create an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House responsible for coordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains. 

Companion legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives on January 16 by Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Jim Himes (D-CT), and Will Hurd (R-TX).  

China and other nations are currently attempting to achieve technological and economic superiority over the United States through the aggressive use of state-directed or -supported technology transfers. At the same time, the U.S. is also facing major challenges to the integrity of key supply chains as a result of reliance on foreign products that have been identified as national security risks. A national response to combat these threats and ensure our national security has, to date, been hampered by insufficient coordination at the federal level.

The Warner-Rubio bill would guarantee that there is a federal entity responsible for proactively coordinating interagency efforts and developing a national strategy to deal with these challenges to our national security and long-term technological competitiveness. Under the bill, the Office of Critical Technologies & Security would be directed to coordinate and consult with federal and state tech and telecom regulators, the private sector, nongovernmental experts and academic stakeholders, and key international partners and U.S. allies to ensure that every available tool is being utilized to safeguard the supply chain and protect emerging, foundational and dual-use technologies. The Office would also be responsible for raising awareness of these threats and improving the overall education of the American public and business leaders in key sectors about the threats to U.S. national security posed by the improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies by foreign countries and reliance on foreign products – such as those manufactured by Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei – that jeopardize the overall security of private sector supply chains.

“Our message is clear: We need a whole-of-government technology strategy to protect U.S. competitiveness in emerging and dual-use technologies and address the Chinese threat,” said Sen. Warner, a former technology and telecommunications executive. “I thank Senator Bennet, Senator Blunt, Senator Coons and Senator Collins for their support of this measure, and I look forward to working with them and the Executive Branch to improve coordination and respond to this threat.”  

“I thank my Senate colleagues for recognizing the importance of this legislation and the continued threat posed by Chinese government’s assault on U.S. intellectual property, U.S. businesses, and our government networks and information with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Rubio said. “The United States needs a more coordinated approach to directly counter this critical threat and ensure we better protect U.S. technology, and this important, bipartisan legislation will streamline efforts across the government. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to enact this legislation and guard against these national security threats.”

“The United States must sharpen efforts to address technology threats from China and other nations that undermine our economic and national security, erode democratic norms, and leave vulnerable our supply chains. Successfully combatting these threats requires a long-term strategy for maintaining U.S. competitiveness in technologies of the future. We must work across public and private sectors to galvanize efforts that ensure our technological competitiveness,” said Sen. Bennet.

“It’s more important than ever for the federal government to have a comprehensive strategy to combat the increase in tech-related security threats from China and other nations,” said Blunt. “This bill is an important step to better protect our critical supply chains and push back against state-sponsored technology theft,” Sen. Blunt said. 

“The United States needs a strategy to protect our critical infrastructure and safeguard technologies in industries of the future like 5G, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and biotech,” said Sen. Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I am proud to support a bill that can improve our government’s capacity to secure our supply chains and prevent forced technology transfer. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill and other similar efforts into law.”

“China’s theft of critical U.S. technologies and increased efforts to expand into our telecommunications market pose as serious threats to our national security and to consumers,” said Sen Collins.  “This bipartisan bill would ensure greater coordination and cooperation between government at the federal and state levels, as well as with nongovernmental experts and the private sector, to develop a long-term strategy on combatting foreign attempts to acquire U.S. technologies.”

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies. On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. Warner has also urged the Administration to work with our allies to combat these technology threats. Sens. Warner and Rubio are also the authors of bipartisan legislation to enforce full compliance by ZTE with all probationary conditions of a U.S. Commerce Department’s deal struck with the company last year that ended U.S. imposed sanctions.

For a copy of the bill text, click here

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement after the Department of Justice charged Huawei with the theft of trade secrets, sanctions violations and obstruction of justice: 

“There is ample evidence to suggest that no major Chinese company is independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party – and Huawei, which China’s government and military tout as a ‘national champion,’ is no exception. It has been clear for some time that Huawei poses a threat to our national security, and I applaud the Trump Administration for taking steps to finally hold the company accountable. 

“This is also a reminder that we need to take seriously the risks of doing business with companies like Huawei and allowing them access to our markets, and I will continue to strongly urge our ally Canada to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of its 5G infrastructure.

“This action further underscores the need for a coordinated, whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to dealing with the threat posed by an increasingly forceful China. I will continue to urge the Trump Administration to make China’s rampant IP theft a top priority in ongoing trade negotiations, and will continue pressing for a more coherent, cohesive national strategy to protect U.S. technology and ensure U.S. technological competitiveness.” 

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies.

Earlier this month, Sen. Warner and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to create an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House responsible for coordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains. 

On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. 

In September, Sen. Warner joined several colleagues to introduce the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act. The bipartisan bill would enforce full compliance by ZTE—a Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm that repeatedly violated U.S. laws – with all probationary conditions outlined in a Commerce Department deal with the company that lifted a denial order banning the export of U.S. parts and components.

 

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WASHINGTON— Today, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Committee member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China and ensure U.S. technological supremacy by improving interagency coordination across the U.S. government. To do this, the bill creates an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House responsible for coordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains. 

“It is clear that China is determined to use every tool in its arsenal to surpass the United States technologically and dominate us economically. We need a whole-of-government technology strategy to protect U.S. competitiveness in emerging and dual-use technologies and address the Chinese threat by combating technology transfer from the United States, ” said Sen. Warner, a former technology and telecommunications executive. “We look forward to working with the Executive Branch and others to coordinate and respond to this threat.”

“China continues to conduct a coordinated assault on U.S. intellectual property, U.S. businesses, and our government networks and information with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Sen. Rubio. “The United States needs a more coordinated approach to directly counter this critical threat and ensure we better protect U.S. technology. We must continue to do everything possible to prevent foreign theft of our technology, and interference in our networks and critical infrastructure. By establishing the Office of Critical Technologies and Security, this bill will help protect the United States by streamlining efforts across the government. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to enact this legislation and guard against these national security threats.”

China and other nations are currently attempting to achieve technological and economic superiority over the United States through the aggressive use of state-directed or -supported technology transfers. At the same time, the U.S. is also facing major challenges to the integrity of key supply chains as a result of reliance on foreign products that have been identified as national security risks. A national response to combat these threats and ensure our national security has, to date, been hampered by insufficient coordination at the federal level.

The Warner-Rubio bill would guarantee that there is a federal entity responsible for proactively coordinating interagency efforts and developing a national strategy to deal with these challenges to our national security and long-term technological competitiveness. Under the bill, the Office of Critical Technologies & Security would be directed to coordinate and consult with federal and state tech and telecom regulators, the private sector, nongovernmental experts and academic stakeholders, and key international partners and U.S. allies to ensure that every available tool is being utilized to safeguard the supply chain and protect emerging, foundational and dual-use technologies. The Office would also be responsible for raising awareness of these threats and improving the overall education of the American public and business leaders in key sectors about the threats to U.S. national security posed by the improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies by foreign countries and reliance on foreign products – such as those manufactured by Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei – that jeopardize the overall security of private sector supply chains. 

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies. On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. Warner has also urged the Administration to work with our allies to combat these technology threats. Sens. Warner and Rubio are also the authors of bipartisan legislation to enforce full compliance by ZTE with all probationary conditions of a U.S. Commerce Department’s deal struck with the company last year that ended U.S. imposed sanctions.

 

For a copy of the bill text, click here

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement after the Director of National Intelligence concluded that Russia and other foreign countries used social media and additional means of influence to target Americans during the 2018 midterm elections:

“As the Director of National Intelligence reminds us, the Russians did not go away after the 2016 election. Now that the Russian playbook is out in the open, we’re going to see more and more adversaries trying to take advantage of the openness of our society to sow division and attempt to manipulate Americans. Congress has to step up and enact some much-needed guardrails on social media, and companies need to work with us so that we can update our laws to better protect against attacks on our democracy.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the below statement after the Department of Justice announced charges against two hackers associated with the Chinese government:

“The Department of Justice, and in particular Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, should be congratulated for their work on this announcement. DOJ’s recent moves to hold China accountable are important in exposing some of the threats posed by China as it attempts to pursue economic and technological dominance over the United States.

While legal action is important, a truly effective response will require a coordinated approach with our allies and a comprehensive strategy to protect our national security and enhance U.S. competitiveness and resiliency. We have to punch back against China’s malign activities – but we also have to do more than play defense if we’re going to truly check China’s bad behavior.” 

 

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