Press Releases

WASHINGTON – As many Virginians adapt to life with a new pet in the wake of the pandemic, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) is requesting more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding a recent decision to temporarily suspend the importation of dogs from countries with heightened risk for rabies. In a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, the senator commended the CDC for working to keep animals and people safe, while also encouraging the agency to develop eventual plans to lift the ban, which has placed a strain on military and U.S. diplomatic families who own dogs.

“I understand this decision was prompted by several factors relevant to the pandemic, including a recent lack of facilities for quarantining dogs safely and a disruption to vaccination programs for animals and people. I applaud the agency for acting quickly to ensure that the canine rabies virus variant—which has been eradicated in the U.S. since 2007—is not reintroduced,” wrote Sen. Warner. “While I believe the decision was necessary, as reported cases of COVID-19 continue to decline with vaccination efforts underway, I also encourage the agency to develop plans to eventually lift the importation ban while still ensuring the health and safety of dogs in the aftermath of the public health emergency.”

“The temporary ban has been a cause for concern for the many U.S. diplomatic and military families who live in Virginia. While I know these families can be considered for a waiver, your agency’s website says these approvals are advanced ‘on an extremely limited basis,’ and this onerous application process has left pet owners scrambling to find a solution,” he continued. “I respectfully ask that the CDC work with Congress to find long-term solutions to this problem, specifically focusing on the following areas: the pandemic’s disruption on vaccination programs for animals and people, the lack of safe animal quarantine facilities in the U.S., the surge in breeders cutting corners due to the increasing demand for pets brought on by the pandemic, and the unique impact the ban has had on diplomatic and military families.” 

On July 14, the CDC temporarily suspended the importation of dogs from 113 countries classified as high risk for dog rabies. This was due, in part, to a significant 2020 increase in the number of imported dogs that were denied entry into the United States from high-risk countries. Due to reduced flight schedules, dogs denied entry are facing longer wait times to be returned to their country of departure, leading to illness and even death in some cases.

In the letter, Sen. Warner also asked the CDC to proactively engage in conversations and listening sessions with stakeholders that will be impacted by this ban, including rescue groups, representatives of U.S. diplomatic and military families, and other interested parties.  

Sen. Warner, a dog owner, has been an advocate for dogs in Virginia and throughout the country. In 2019, he wrote to the Department of State, raising alarm about reports that the Department sent highly-trained bomb-sniffing dogs to foreign partner nations without proper follow-up, resulting in the death of at least ten dogs from largely preventable illnesses.

A copy of the letter is available here and below. 

 

Dear Director Walensky: 

I write today regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recent decision to suspend the import of dogs from high-risk countries for canine rabies and inquire about the agency’s future plans related to this suspension.  

I greatly respect the CDC’s acute attention toward keeping both animals and people safe in its decision to limit the importation of dogs as the deadly COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the United States. I also appreciate the temporary nature of the suspension, and I hope to work with the CDC to limit the threat of rabies spreading in the U.S. while still protecting the rights of responsible pet owners.

I have, however, heard from many of my constituents with questions and concerns about the CDC’s decision to suspend dogs from 113 countries with heightened risk for rabies, which went into effect on July 14, 2021. I understand this decision was prompted by several factors relevant to the pandemic, including a recent lack of facilities for quarantining dogs safely and a disruption to vaccination programs for animals and people. I applaud the agency for acting quickly to ensure that the canine rabies virus variant—which has been eradicated in the U.S. since 2007—is not reintroduced.

While I believe the decision was necessary, as reported cases of COVID-19 continue to decline with vaccination efforts underway, I also encourage the agency to develop plans to eventually lift the importation ban while still ensuring the health and safety of dogs in the aftermath of the public health emergency. The temporary ban has been a cause for concern for the many U.S. diplomatic and military families who live in Virginia. While I know these families can be considered for a waiver, your agency’s website says these approvals are advanced “on an extremely limited basis,” and this onerous application process has left pet owners scrambling to find a solution.

I respectfully ask that the CDC work with Congress to find long-term solutions to this problem, specifically focusing on the following areas: the pandemic’s disruption on vaccination programs for animals and people, the lack of safe animal quarantine facilities in the U.S., the surge in breeders cutting corners due to the increasing demand for pets brought on by the pandemic, and the unique impact the ban has had on diplomatic and military families. I would also encourage that, in finding long-term solutions to this problem, the CDC proactively engages in conversations with stakeholders that will be impacted by this ban, including rescue groups, representatives of U.S. diplomatic and military families, and other interested parties.  In this vein we would recommend that the agency holds listening sessions with stakeholders impacted by the ban to better understand the needs of these communities and to ensure that any long-term solutions best serve the needs of both the CDC and the impacted communities.  

For years, the U.S. had strict quarantine and rabies vaccination procedures in place that proved highly effective in keeping animals in the U.S. safe from rabies. As we continue to adapt our ways of life in the aftermath of the pandemic, I look forward to your partnership in tackling these issues.

I appreciate your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to working together to ensure the health and safety of Americans and their pets.

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following after the U.S., European Union, and NATO allies and partners publicly attributed the Microsoft hack to Chinese state-sponsored actors: 

“Today’s news makes clear: state-sponsored cyberattacks that threaten our national security and economic stability will be traced and found. Cyberattacks aren’t a uniquely American problem; our allies are also grappling with a barrage of cyberattacks coming from our foreign adversaries. It’s why I have long called for building international cyber norms to confront our shared cyber vulnerabilities and why I’m pleased to see joint recognition from our NATO and EU allies about this threat. I applaud the Biden administration for publicly exposing the actions of these Chinese state-sponsored actors, pursuing diplomatic cooperation on these threats and for taking additional steps to bolster our cyber defenses. As we take these first steps in an international effort to confront these challenges, there’s still more work to do to address our cyber vulnerabilities.” 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following after the Biden administration announced plans to relocate thousands of Afghan interpreters and translators with special immigrant visas (SIV) to U.S. Army base Fort Lee in Petersburg, Va.:

“Virginia has a long history of standing up for our military, and those who have risked their lives for our country. For two decades, thousands of Afghans have put their own lives and safety in danger in order to work with U.S. and allied personnel to fight Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, ISIS and other terrorist groups. Their efforts contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the U.S. homeland. I applaud the President and his administration for acting to help bring these individuals to safety, and encourage further swift action to help the thousands of other Afghans and their family members who remain at risk because of their support for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.” 

Last week, Sen. Warner sent a letter to President Biden urging the administration to act swiftly in ensuring the safety of Afghans who have worked closely with U.S. intelligence in the country as American forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Committee, today sent a letter to President Biden, asking the administration to ensure the safety of Afghans who have worked closely with U.S. intelligence in the country.  

“For two decades, thousands of Afghans have risked their lives to work with intelligence professionals from the United States and other NATO countries to fight Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, ISIS and other terrorist groups. Their efforts contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the U.S. homeland,” the Senators wrote. “Given the increasingly precarious security situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s direct targeting of Afghan partners to the United States, we ask that you pursue a set of options to keep these Afghans safe, including approving Special Immigrant Visas, evacuations to a third country, and/or priority admission under the U.S. Refugee Admissions program.”

“Currently the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program offers one avenue for our Afghan allies, but its timeline – a years-long process with thousands in the pipeline – does not align with the pace of withdrawal and the rapid deterioration in security. While we urge you to expedite this program and stand ready to provide additional resources for a faster processing timeline, we also ask that you consider the other evacuation options listed above,” the Senators added. “Further, we ask that you consider whether there is sufficient capacity at U.S. facilities to process applications from those Afghan personnel who have made our efforts possible over the last two decades, or whether there is – given the rapid pace of withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan – sufficient capacity to evacuate our Afghan partners quickly as needs arise.” 

Concluded the Senators, “Abandoning these individuals, who have provided essential support to our intelligence community in Afghanistan, would send a damaging message to our allies and potential partners about the United States’ reliability and trustworthiness. It would also be a stain on our national conscience.”

A copy of the letter is available here, and the full text appears below. 

                                                            

Dear President Biden:

As your administration conducts its withdrawal of military personnel from Afghanistan, we ask that you ensure the safety and security of Afghans who have worked closely with our intelligence agencies and partners.   

For two decades, thousands of Afghans have risked their lives to work with intelligence professionals from the United States and other NATO countries to fight Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, ISIS and other terrorist groups.  Their efforts contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the U.S. homeland.    

Given the increasingly precarious security situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s direct targeting of Afghan partners to the United States, we ask that you pursue a set of options to keep these Afghans safe, including approving Special Immigrant Visas, evacuations to a third country, and/or priority admission under the U.S. Refugee Admissions program.  

Currently the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program offers one avenue for our Afghan allies, but its timeline – a years-long process with thousands in the pipeline – does not align with the pace of withdrawal and the rapid deterioration in security. While we urge you to expedite this program and stand ready to provide additional resources for a faster processing timeline, we also ask that you consider the other evacuation options listed above.  

Further, we ask that you consider whether there is sufficient capacity at U.S. facilities to process applications from those Afghan personnel who have made our efforts possible over the last two decades, or whether there is – given the rapid pace of withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan – sufficient capacity to evacuate our Afghan partners quickly as needs arise.

Abandoning these individuals, who have provided essential support to our intelligence community in Afghanistan, would send a damaging message to our allies and potential partners about the United States’ reliability and trustworthiness. It would also be a stain on our national conscience.

We stand ready to support your effort to ensure these Afghan partners are protected. 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Ahead of the ninth anniversary of Cuban political reformer Oswaldo Payá’s suspicious death, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), along with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) urged the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to advance its efforts on this case without further delay.  In 2013, Durbin sent a letter to previous Commission Executive Secretary Emilio Icaza originally urging the Commission investigate Payá’s suspicious death.  Subsequent letters urging continued attention were sent in 2014 and 2016.       

“We hope the Commission’s unique role in such matters will help advance such an accounting and continue to stand ready to assist with this important matter,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Tania Reneaum Panszi, newly appointed Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

In 2002, Payá started the Varela Project that sought greater political freedom in Cuba through a peaceful petition drive and referendum process as allowed for in the Cuban constitution.  Not only did the Cuban government reject the historic effort and brazenly change the constitutional provision allowing such public avenue for change, but also began a decade of shameful harassment of Payá and his movement.   

In July 2012, this persecution culminated in his car being rammed from behind by a tailing government vehicle, resulting in the death of Payá and fellow passenger and youth activist Harold Cepero.  The Cuban government has yet to provide a credible explanation, accounting, or justice for this tragic incident.  

Full text of the letter is available here and below: 

Dear Secretary Panszi:

Congratulations on your recent appointment to lead the Commission – a timely selection amid troubling democratic and human rights backsliding in Latin America.  In 2013, several of us sent the included letter to previous Commission Executive Secretary Emilio Icaza urging the Commission investigate the suspicious death of Cuban political reformer Oswaldo Payá.  With the ninth anniversary of this troubling event soon approaching and a refusal of the Cuban government to allow or provide for a credible investigation into the matter, we once again urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to advance its efforts on this case without further delay.

As you likely recall, in 2002 Payá started the Varela Project that sought greater political freedom in Cuba through a peaceful petition drive and referendum process as allowed for in the Cuban constitution.  Not only did the Cuban government reject the historic effort and brazenly change the constitutional provision allowing such public avenue for change, but also began a decade of shameful harassment of Payá and his movement.   

In July 2012, this persecution culminated in his car being rammed from behind by a tailing government vehicle, resulting in the death of Payá and fellow passenger and youth activist Harold Cepero.  The Cuban government has yet to provide a credible explanation, accounting, or justice for this tragic incident.  In fact, shortly after his death the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution honoring Payá’s work which also called on the “Government of Cuba to allow an impartial, third-party investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.”

We hope the Commission’s unique role in such matters will help advance such an accounting and continue to stand ready to assist with this important matter.   

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner, Tim Kaine (both D-Va.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging him to reopen Howard Bailey’s immigration proceedings and grant him humanitarian parole. Bailey is a U.S. Navy veteran who lives in exile in Jamaica after being deported in 2012 for a conviction that has since been pardoned.

“The Biden administration has committed to honoring family unity and redressing racial injustices where possible. Returning Mr. Bailey to the U.S., in light of his overwhelming positive equities and the injustice of his deportation, honors these priorities and is a small step toward restoring humanity to the U.S. immigration system,” wrote the Senators. “We urge you to join his motion to reopen his immigration proceedings and grant his application for humanitarian parole.”

Last week, Bailey was invited to testify at an Immigration Subcommittee hearing to examine how we can better honor the promises made to our brave military members, veterans, and their families in our immigration policy. At the conclusion of the hearing Padilla stated, “Mr. Bailey fought for our country and I am happy to fight for him.” Padilla also raised this issue directly to Robert Silvers, the Nominee for DHS Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans during a Homeland Security Committee hearing. 

Howard Bailey moved to the U.S. when he was around 17-years-old after obtaining lawful permanent residence status through his U.S. citizen mother. He joined the U.S. Navy after high school and served for nearly four years, including two tours in Operation Desert Storm. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and honorably discharged. After Mr. Bailey’s service to the U.S. Navy, he devoted himself to his wife and two U.S. citizen children, purchased a home, and started two small businesses including a thriving trucking company employing seven people. 

The full text of the letter is available HERE and below:

 

Dear Secretary Mayorkas:

We write to request that the Department of Homeland Security join U.S. veteran Howard Bailey’s motion to reopen his immigration proceedings and grant him humanitarian parole so that he can return to the United States.

Mr. Bailey joined the U.S. Navy after high school. During his subsequent four years of service, he served on a critical supply ship often in danger zones as a part of Operation Desert Storm and Project Comfort. After he left the Navy, he started a trucking business, purchased his home with a V.A. loan, and built a stable life for his family. He was living the American Dream in every sense of the phrase. Mark Warner

Soon after his honorable discharge, Mr. Bailey was arrested after a package of marijuana was mailed to his home for a friend. Despite not knowing the contents of the package, he pled guilty to a marijuana charge based on counsel from his attorney, who also failed to advise him of the immigration consequences of his plea. Fifteen years later, when Mr. Bailey applied for citizenship, he disclosed that he had a marijuana conviction from 1995. ICE learned of his conviction only when Mr. Bailey himself brought it to the agency’s attention as he applied for U.S. citizenship. ICE then initiated deportation proceedings against him on the basis of this sole marijuana conviction—arresting him on his front lawn with his daughter, son, and wife as witnesses.

In the years after his deportation to Jamaica, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such convictions no longer render people like Mr. Bailey deportable or make them ineligible for discretionary relief from deportation. More recently, in 2017, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe issued a pardon for Mr. Bailey’s marijuana conviction in light of his service to the U.S. Navy and the increasing decriminalization of marijuana nationwide. Today, the conviction that led to his deportation is no longer a part of his record, and the law makes clear that he is eligible for relief from deportation.

On May 27, 2021, a memorandum was issued by DHS headquarters to ICE OPLA attorneys explicitly encouraging DHS to join motions to reopen cases like Mr. Bailey’s where “an individual is eligible for relief under the law and merits relief as a matter of discretion.” The memo lists factors that should be taken into account in joining a motion and that weigh in favor of his case. These include his prior military service, his prior lawful permanent residence status, decades of residency in the U.S. with significant family ties, the length of time since his conviction (26 years) and the compelling humanitarian circumstances in his case such as the severe mental health challenges suffered by his daughter.

As the Secretary of Homeland Security, you have the authority under current law to grant humanitarian parole for cases like Mr. Bailey’s where urgent humanitarian considerations and significant public benefit apply. In addition to the public benefit of bringing home a U.S. veteran who has proudly served his country, paroling Mr. Bailey into the United States is also an appropriate next step to address the profoundly devastating impact of his deportation on his two U.S. citizen children. His daughter, only 11-years-old at the time ICE officers took her father away, continues to face significant mental health challenges and has been unable to attend college, a dream both her and her father shared for her. His son—traumatized by the loss of his father and the subsequent economic challenges including suffering from hunger—has had trouble with the criminal legal system.

The Biden administration has committed to honoring family unity and redressing racial injustices where possible. Returning Mr. Bailey to the U.S., in light of his overwhelming positive equities and the injustice of his deportation, honors these priorities and is a small step toward restoring humanity to the U.S. immigration system. We urge you to join his motion to reopen his immigration proceedings and grant his application for humanitarian parole.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement upon the release of a congressionally-mandated declassified report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP):

“I was first briefed on these unidentified aerial phenomena nearly three years ago. Since then, the frequency of these incidents only appears to be increasing. The United States must be able to understand and mitigate threats to our pilots, whether they’re from drones or weather balloons or adversary intelligence capabilities. Today’s rather inconclusive report only marks the beginning of efforts to understand and illuminate what is causing these risks to aviation in many areas around the country and the world.”

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WASHINGTON -- Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and a bipartisan group of 37 senators in calling for $500 million to fully fund U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs in the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022. Israel’s missile defense system is made up of four operational layers: Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow 2 and now Arrow 3. In addition to contributing to ballistic missile defense, the funding will support crucial work on research, development and test activities to counter hostile unmanned aerial systems.  

The bipartisan group of senators wrote, “the U.S.-Israeli cooperation has resulted in a system that can, and has, countered numerous missile threats from state and non-state actors from adversaries in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere. This system provides Israel with the ability to protect lives at home and on the battlefield, keeping its citizens and soldiers out of harm’s way.”

In addition to Senators Warner, Gillibrand, and Rounds, the letter was signed by Senators Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Cramer (R-ND), Daines (R-MT), Duckworth (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Fischer (R-NE), Hassan (D-NH), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Kaine (D-VA), Kelly (D-AZ), Klobuchar (D-MN), Lankford (R-OK), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Padilla (D-CA), Peters (D-MI), Rosen (D-NV), Rubio (R-FL), Schatz (D-HI), Sinema (D-AZ), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Thune (R-SD), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warnock (D-GA), Wyden (D-OR) and Young (R-IN).

The text of the letter appears below:

 

Dear Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Shelby: 

Thank you for this committee’s strong support of U.S.-Israel collaborative defense programs, including Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow as well as our continued cooperative work on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). As you begin work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Defense Appropriations bill, we write seeking $500 million for continued support for these in order to meet the United States’ and Israel's national security needs.

Joint U.S.-Israel missile defense collaboration on Israel’s multilayer missile defense system has been foundational to the defense of Israel since the 1980s. Congress has consistently supported this project. Israel’s missile defense system is made up of four operational layers: Iron Dome (short-range), David’s Sling (medium-range), Arrow 2 (longer range), and now Arrow 3 (very long range). The U.S.-Israeli cooperation has resulted in a system that can, and has, countered numerous missile threats from state and non-state actors from adversaries in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere. This system provides Israel with the ability to protect lives at home and on the battlefield, keeping its citizens and soldiers out of harm’s way.

This cooperative program has also created an important flow of data and invaluable insight to support vital U.S. missile defense technology while safeguarding our strategic ally Israel and our service members in the region. This program synergizes with our ongoing operations in the area increasing interoperability between U.S. and Israeli systems and forces. Moreover, the program supports critical elements of the industrial base and important jobs here in the United States through co-development and co-production agreements. 

Another area of critical importance to both the United States and Israel, is in the field of UAS, and perhaps just as importantly, counter-UAS. In February 2020, the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit announced it had selected Israeli firm D-Fend Solutions to field a counter-drone system for the FBI and U.S. military. This technology was co-developed with the U.S. Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office. CTTSO has played a crucial role in U.S.-Israel cooperation and innovation.  

For FY 2022, in addition to ballistic missile defense, $500 million will continue critical work on research, development and test activities to counter hostile unmanned aerial systems. This funding will further development of a range of systems designed to handle the imminent threats American and Israeli forces face. 

Together, these programs confront the compelling challenges facing both Israel and the United States and form a strong foundation of the enduring friendship of our nations. We look forward to working with you on these important programs. 

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on President Biden’s executive order on protecting sensitive data from foreign adversaries:

“This executive order by the Biden administration adopts a risk-based, transparent, and comprehensive approach to evaluating the security and privacy risks of foreign technology products, a clear contrast to the previous administration’s uncoordinated approach on this issue. I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues on ways in which we can codify these approaches to better ensure long-term consistency and predictability in our national policies in this area.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on the disclosure by Microsoft of a Russian hacking operation targeting USAID and other government agencies, think tanks, consultants, and non-governmental organizations :

“We have to step up our cyber defenses, and we must make clear to Russia – and any other adversaries – that they will face consequences for this and any other malicious cyber activity.” 

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WASHINGTON —In a bipartisan effort to support American public servants who have incurred brain injuries from probable microwave attacks, a bipartisan group of 15 Senators introduced the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks  (HAVANA) Act today that would authorize additional financial support for injured individuals.  The legislation was co-authored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), and James Risch (R-ID).

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an illness that first surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016.  Since then, at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy,” and there have been according to the press more than 130 total cases among American personnel, including on U.S. soil.  Ailments have included dizziness, tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years later. The HAVANA Act would give the CIA Director and the Secretary of State additional authority to provide financial support to those suffering from brain injuries as a result of these attacks. 

“This bipartisan legislation is an important first step in ensuring that our diplomats and intelligence officers who have been injured in the field are afforded access to the healthcare and the benefits that they need, especially for symptoms that are consistent with those of traumatic brain injury. For almost five years, we have been aware of reports of mysterious attacks on U.S. government personnel stationed in Cuba and in other countries around the world,” said Senator Warner. “The Intelligence Committee has pushed the government to find out what is going on, hold those responsible to account, and ensure these attacks stop.  But we also need to guarantee that the brave men and women – and their families – who represent America overseas and keep our nation safe every day are taken care of if they are injured in the line of duty. As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know the hardships, sacrifices and risks our IC officers, diplomats and other personnel serving overseas endure. The very least we can do is to put financial safeguards in place to ensure that for those afflicted by these attacks can get proper medical attention and treatment.”

“The injuries that many ‘Havana Syndrome’ victims have endured are significant and life-altering.  To make matters worse, some of the victims did not receive the financial and medical support they should have expected from their government when they first reported their injuries.  This is an outrageous failure on behalf of our government,” said Senator Collins. “I have spoken to CIA Director Burns about these attacks, and I am heartened by the commitments that he and others have made to the Senate Intelligence Committee to care for the victims and to get to the bottom of these attacks.  We need a whole-of-government approach to identify the adversary who is targeting American personnel.  The public servants who work in our embassies and consulates overseas make many personal sacrifices to represent America’s interests abroad.  They deserve our strong support when they are harmed in the line of duty just as we care for soldiers injured on the battlefield.”

“It’s unacceptable that American public servants and their families have suffered alone for years with these mysterious brain injuries, without full transparency or guarantee of treatment. Our personnel deserve better. That’s why I’ve been sounding the alarm to get to the bottom of these attacks and provide critical support to those who’ve fallen victim to these attacks,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to join Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to build on my efforts and provide more equitable care for those who’ve been injured so we can ensure all those affected – regardless of what agency they served – are properly compensated for injuries they suffered while serving our country. I’ll continue to work across the aisle in Congress to make this issue a top priority and will keep raising this with the administration to form a whole-of-government response to uncover the source of these attacks and take care of those who’ve been targeted.”

“I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation to provide the CIA Director and the Secretary of State the authorities needed to properly assist U.S. personnel who have endured these attacks while serving our nation,” Senator Rubio said. “There is no doubt that the victims of the Havana Syndrome, who have suffered brain injuries, must be provided with adequate care and compensation.”

The HAVANA Act would authorize the CIA Director and the Secretary of State to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries.  Both the CIA and State Department would be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment.  This legislation would also require the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.  

Click HERE to read the text of the bill.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and a group of 27 Senators in calling for an immediate ceasefire agreement in Israel and the Palestinian territories to prevent further loss of life and further escalation of violence.

Sens. Warner and Ossoff is joined by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

“To prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, we urge an immediate ceasefire,” the 28 Senators said in a joint statement.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, requesting that the Committee favorably report the Air America Act of 2021 (S. 407) to the full Senate as soon as possible. Senators Warner and Rubio reintroduced the legislation on February 24, 2021.

Air America, a government-owned corporation, employed several hundred U.S. citizens, mainly flight crew members, until 1976. During its existence, approximately 286 Air Americans were killed in the line of duty while conducting covert operations in designated war zones. In 1975, the last helicopter mission that rescued personnel from the rooftops in Saigon was planned and executed by Air America and the United States Marine Corps. This legislation would ensure that these individuals receive the benefits they are owed under the Civil Service Retirement System.

“The fight to ensure Air America employees receive the benefits they have earned is not a partisan issue, nor is it a new issue,” wrote the Senators. “It is time for Congress to act.”

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Portman: 

We respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs consider and report S. 407, the Air America Act of 2021, to the full Senate as soon as possible. 

The bill, which was first introduced last Congress, would ensure the brave employees of Air America receive the retirement benefits they have earned. As you may be aware, Air America was a government-owned corporation that conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War and operated under the direct policy control of the White House, Department of Defense, and the Department of State while under the management of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The fight to ensure Air America employees receive the benefits they have earned is not a partisan issue, nor is it a new issue. Legislation to provide benefits to Air America employees was first introduced by then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2005. The bill currently has 29 bipartisan cosponsors, including five members of your committee from both sides of the aisle. Over the last 16 years, the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence have all concluded that Congressional action is required. It is time for Congress to act. 

For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to consider and report to the full Senate this important bill as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on President Biden’s executive order on cybersecurity:

“The recent Colonial, SolarWinds, and Hafnium attacks have highlighted what has become increasingly obvious in recent years—that the United States is simply not prepared to fend off state-sponsored or even criminal hackers intent on compromising our systems for profit or espionage. This executive order is a good first step, but executive orders can only go so far. Congress is going to have to step up and do more to address our cyber vulnerabilities, and I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to close those gaps.”

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WASHINGTON– Today, Virginia U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, urged President Joe Biden to fully consider how the Trump Administration’s decision to relocate U.S. Space Command may affect Intelligence Community (IC) dependencies and missions and the country’s ability to maintain superiority in space 

On January 13, 2021, the Administration announced that Huntsville, Alabama would be the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command. Following this announcement, reports surfaced that President Donald Trump politicized the process, choosing to relocate U.S. Space Command from its provisional headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

In a letter to President Biden, Bennet and Warner, members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cite the collaboration and interoperability between the IC and Department of Defense, and urged the administration to review the process by which this decision was made and to ensure intelligence community missions and capabilities are fully considered.

“The Committee has encouraged collaboration in the space domain between the IC and the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to increase the unity of effort and effectiveness in space operations. In Colorado, important investments have been made in recent years to enhance this collaboration and interoperability, in particular at the National Space Defense Center (NSDC),” wrote the senators. “It is critical that any decision to move Space Command from its current location take into account the potential effects of such a move on the operational integration between the IC and DoD space communities at NSDC and at other joint sites in Colorado.”

The senators also noted the importance of spending resources in a manner that effectively meets the accelerating pace of threats to U.S. space capabilities. Colorado is already home to many specialized defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors. The cost of relocating personnel, as well as the high costs for constructing a new Space Command headquarters, should be considerations for permanently keeping it in Colorado Springs. 

“Furthermore, we are keenly aware of the threats in space and the criticality of maintaining U.S. superiority in the face of an evolving threat landscape,” the Senators continued. “According to a 2019 estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, construction costs for the new command headquarters could be as high as $1.1 billion. Workforce disruption is another key consideration, given the many defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors working on space programs in Colorado at the highest levels of classification. Space is a critical national security issue, and we cannot squander time, talent, or money on unnecessary expenditures or delays.” 

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.  

Dear President Biden:

We write concerning the Trump administration’s decision to move United States Space Command from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Huntsville, Alabama. As members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, we are concerned this decision did not take into account how such a move may affect Intelligence Community (IC) dependencies and missions. We therefore request you review the process by which this decision was made, and to ensure IC equities are fully considered.

The Committee has encouraged collaboration in the space domain between the IC and the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to increase the unity of effort and effectiveness in space operations. In Colorado, important investments have been made in recent years to enhance this collaboration and interoperability, in particular at the National Space Defense Center (NSDC). It is critical that any decision to move Space Command from its current location take into account the potential effects of such a move on the operational integration between the IC and DoD space communities at NSDC and at other joint sites in Colorado.

Furthermore, we are keenly aware of the threats in space and the criticality of maintaining U.S. superiority in the face of an evolving threat landscape. We have consistently made this a priority in recent years, with careful oversight of dollars spent and an eye toward the allocation of scarce resources among national security priorities. According to a 2019 estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, construction costs for the new command headquarters could be as high as $1.1 billion. Workforce disruption is another key consideration, given the many defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors working on space programs in Colorado at the highest levels of classification. Space is a critical national security issue, and we cannot squander time, talent, or money on unnecessary expenditures or delays.

We therefore ask you to review the parameters and method by which this decision was evaluated, to ensure we are appropriately valuing existing collaboration and interdependencies between the IC and DoD space communities in Colorado, taking advantage of the current co-location of these communities and pools of expertise, and spending resources in a manner that effectively meets the accelerating pace of threats to our overhead space capabilities.

We appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (Both D-Va.) and Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (Both D-Md.) are urging President Joe Biden to resume the process of selecting a new home for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that meets the stringent security and logistical needs for our nation’s premier law enforcement agency. In a letter to the president Friday, the lawmakers press for the General Services Administration and FBI to pick up where they left off before the Trump administration upended the national security project. In 2014, after an exhaustive process, GSA narrowed down the list of potential locations to two sites in Prince George’s County, Md., and one site in Springfield, Va. 

“For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track,” the Senators wrote.

“We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible,” they added. 

In 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a resolution which provided the GSA with official guidance on the framework for the project. Drafted to reflect the FBI’s needs and priorities, the Senate resolution outlined requirements for proximity to the Metro System and Washington Beltway, minimum acreage for the site, and a financing strategy which directed GSA to enter into a private sector lease with a private firm to build a 2.1 million square foot, secure facility on federally owned land that would be leased to the FBI and ownership of which would revert to the Federal government at the end of the lease at no additional cost. 

The full letter follows and can be found at this link

Dear President Biden:

We write today to request that you provide clear direction to the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Justice to move forward expeditiously on the process of constructing a new consolidated headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track.

Since 2011, Congress has repeatedly called for action to address the FBI’s outdated and inadequate facilities at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, through the approval of GSA resolutions and the inclusion of funding in various appropriations bills. After the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a GSA resolution that set forth guidelines for the site selection process in 2011, GSA issued its Phase I Request for Proposals (RFP) and announced eligible sites for the new headquarters in 2014. In 2015, GSA identified a short list of offerors to proceed to Phase II of the RFP, and the Office of Management and Budget announced that the FBI would reduce its footprint in the Washington, DC region, consolidating both the Hoover Building and multiple leased buildings into one location, and narrowed the list to three sites. In January 2016, GSA issued the Phase II RFP to these qualified offerors. 

The Trump Administration’s move in 2017 to cancel the project ignored the intent of Congress and scrapped years’ worth of planning, organizing, and resources devoted to the project. Inquiries by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate into the White House’s role in canceling the project were met with obfuscation by agency officials. In a last-ditch effort to ensure the FBI remained on Pennsylvania Avenue, the former President advocated for funding for renovating the existing FBI headquarters in a COVID-19 relief package, which Congress rejected.

We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible. Congress has appropriated close to a billion dollars for this endeavor, between direct appropriations and transfer authorities, available until expended, and, according to the enacted FY21 Omnibus Appropriations bill, required GSA to submit a plan to the committees of jurisdiction consistent with a typical prospectus request by March 27, 2021.  As of this date, a plan has not been submitted and although GSA continues to coordinate with FBI, it is unclear when the required report will be submitted to Congress.

The FBI’s current headquarters facility – the J. Edgar Hoover Building – has significantly deteriorated over the past 45 years. The building has crumbling facades, aging infrastructure, and security limitations that are severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions.

Further delay on a new FBI headquarters creates added risks, costs, and missed opportunities. Despite the political obstacles of recent years, we hope you will consider our request and provide the direction needed for this crucial project to move forward expeditiously.  

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden requesting that he fund the initiatives to restore semiconductor manufacturing to American soil from the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act that were signed into law as part of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act. 

They wrote, “We write today to encourage you to prioritize securing funding to implement the initiatives authorized in the CHIPS for America Act that were enacted into law as part of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. 

“We would specifically request you consider joining us in support of funding levels that are at least the authorized amounts proposed in the original bill as you work with Congress on a package of policies to better compete with China and how best to strengthen our country’s economic competitiveness and resiliency as well as national security.”

He was joined on the letter by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), James Risch (R-ID), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Angus King (I-ME), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). 

The full text of the letter is here and below.

Dear President Biden,

We write today to encourage you to prioritize securing funding to implement the initiatives authorized in the CHIPS for America Act that were enacted into law as part of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (referred to as the ‘CHIPS provisions’). We would specifically request you consider joining us in support of funding levels that are at least the authorized amounts proposed in the original bill as you work with Congress on a package of policies to better compete with China and how best to strengthen our country’s economic competitiveness and resiliency as well as national security. 

While signing your Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains on February 24, 2021, we were pleased to hear your comments: “bipartisan work has already been done…We need to make sure these supply chains are secure and reliable. I’m directing senior officials in my administration to work with industrial leaders to identify solutions to this semiconductor shortfall and work very hard with the House and Senate.” We agree that the United States must build on the bipartisan Congressional efforts to authorize the CHIPS provisions and now swiftly move to fund these programs so they can be implemented and begin to address the current supply-chain vulnerabilities that threaten our national and economic security and ensure our nation’s continued global leadership in this critical technology. We are especially encouraged by the opportunity to do emergency mandatory funding for implementation of CHIPS as part of a competitiveness package the Senate is currently compiling, and would welcome your support in that effort.

The United States cannot wait to provide these resources over the years ahead. The halted production lines for consumer technology, auto manufacturers, truckers, and other critical industries due to a semiconductor shortage further highlights the pressing need to act quickly and fund the enacted bipartisan provisions. 

In your Build Back Better initiative, you recognized the value of restoring critical supply chains to U.S. soil to help revitalize our domestic manufacturing capacity and create good-paying jobs. Full funding and implementation of CHIPS would reinvigorate our economy by creating high-paying jobs, developing talent pipelines for American workers, and increasing technological innovation. The CHIPS provisions authorize funding for manufacturing, R&D and job-training programs, with a focus on creating pathways for Americans to acquire the skills necessary for these jobs, including expanding employment opportunities for disadvantaged workers. Ensuring these provisions are fully funded would support thousands of American jobs and create a ripple effect throughout the economy, benefiting countless industries, communities and working families.

In addition to enabling sustainable economic growth today, funding the CHIPS provisions is a top national security priority. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has aggressive plans to reorient and dominate the semiconductor supply chain, pouring over $150 billion in semiconductor manufacturing subsidies and investing $1.4 trillion in their efforts to become the dominate global technological power. Even full funding of the originally filed CHIPS provisions pales in comparison to the investments being made by the CCP, which speaks to why consideration of an even higher level of funding is worthwhile.

The United States must also work with our allies and strategic partners to out-scale the CCP in manufacturing capabilities for advanced semiconductors. If we lose these highly-skilled jobs and know-how to China, the United States will never recapture them. Further, we risk dependence on a strategic competitor for the advanced semiconductors that power our economy, military, and critical infrastructure.

As you develop your FY 2022 budget request, we encourage you to include some initial investments to support semiconductor R&D and manufacturing at agencies like Commerce, DOD, DOE, and NSF as intended by CHIPS. 

Finally, should you explore executive actions to address this urgent semiconductor matter, we encourage you to continue pursuing a technology neutral approach.

We are committed to meeting the national imperative of securing our critical supply chains and look forward to working with you and your Administration to achieve this vital objective.

Sincerely, 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Biden administration announced several steps to respond to Russian aggression, including interference in the 2020 election, the hack impacting thousands of SolarWinds customers, bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, and the illegal annexation of Crimea:

“I am glad to see the Biden administration formally attributing the SolarWinds hack to Russian intelligence services and taking steps to sanction some of the individuals and entities involved. The scale and scope of this hack are beyond any that we’ve seen before, and should make clear that we will hold Russia and other adversaries accountable for committing this kind of malicious cyber activity against American targets. Across both the public and private sector, we have a lot of work to do to deter our adversaries from conducting these types of damaging intrusions, and to guard against future interference in our elections. But this is a good first step in making clear that these sorts of actions are unacceptable and will be met with consequences.”

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WASHINGTON – Today Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led a bipartisan group of Senators in urging President Joe Biden to request at least $3 billion as part of his budget request to Congress for the adoption of 5G alternatives to Chinese-made equipment. Specifically, the Senators urged Biden to request at least $1.5 billion each for two funds established by Congress to encourage the adoption of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) equipment, which would allow additional vendors to enter the 5G market and compete with manufacturers like Huawei, which is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government.

“Current RAN infrastructure relies on closed, end-to-end hardware solutions that are expensive to operate and dominated by foreign companies. For example, Huawei, a company with inextricable links to the Chinese government and a history of disregard for the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, offers end-to-end RAN hardware, which poses significant counterintelligence concerns. For years, we have called on telecommunications providers in the U.S., as well as our allies and partners, to reject Huawei 5G technology, but we have not provided competitively-priced, innovative alternatives that would address their needs,” the Senators wrote in a letter. “As wireless networks adapt to the growing demands for 5G connectivity, a new Open RAN architecture will allow telecommunications providers to migrate from the current hardware-centric approach into a software-centric model that  relies heavily on cloud-based services. This architecture will break down the current end-to-end proprietary stack of hardware; lower barriers to entry and prompt innovation; diversify the supply chain and decrease dependence on foreign suppliers; and spur Open RAN deployments throughout the United States, particularly in rural America. Providing resources for these Funds in your budget request presents an opportunity to realize this vision.”

Today’s letter was signed by bipartisan members of the Senate Intelligence Committee: Chairman Warner, Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The full text of the letter appears below, and a copy is available here

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.   

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

As you prepare your budget request for Fiscal Year 2022, we ask that you provide at least $1.5 billion each for both the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund and the Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund.  These Funds provide critical foundations for  robust, secure, and efficient fifth-generation (5G) networks, and will be integral to the ability of the United States and its allies to adopt Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) equipment at a scale necessary to compete with the equipment vendors of our strategic rivals, including China.

These Funds, established in Section 9202 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, are consistent with your Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which calls for investments to retain our scientific and technological edge, build secure 21st century digital infrastructure (including secure 5G networks), and partner with democratic friends and allies.  Investments in these Funds will also enable the development and deployment of an Open RAN approach to network standardization for nationwide 5G (and successor) wireless capabilities.

Current RAN infrastructure relies on closed, end-to-end hardware solutions that are expensive to operate and dominated by foreign companies.  For example, Huawei, a company with inextricable links to the Chinese government and a history of disregard for the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, offers end-to-end RAN hardware, which poses significant counterintelligence concerns.  For years, we have called on telecommunications providers in the U.S., as well as our allies and partners, to reject Huawei 5G technology, but we have not provided competitively-priced, innovative alternatives that would address their needs. 

As wireless networks adapt to the growing demands for 5G connectivity, a new Open RAN architecture will allow telecommunications providers to migrate from the current hardware-centric approach into a software-centric model that  relies heavily on cloud-based services.  This architecture will break down the current end-to-end proprietary stack of hardware; lower barriers to entry and prompt innovation; diversify the supply chain and decrease dependence on foreign suppliers; and spur Open RAN deployments throughout the United States, particularly in rural America.  Providing resources for these Funds in your budget request presents an opportunity to realize this vision.

We look forward to working with you in a bipartisan manner on this critical national priority. 

Cc:

Mr. Ronald A. Klain, White House Chief of Staff

Mr. Jacob J. Sullivan, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Mr. Robert Fairweather, Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget

The Honorable Gina M. Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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WASHINGTON – Today, a bipartisan group of U.S. national security leaders penned a letter to the Biden administration urging it to strongly consider the provisions laid out in the bipartisan Democracy Technology Partnership Act. The bill – introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and a bipartisan group of Senators earlier this month – aims to develop a partnership and strategy among democratic countries to compete against growing technological strength and influence by the Chinese Communist Party and other authoritarian regimes.  

The letter is penned by a broad bipartisan cohort of national security experts including, Ash Carter, former U.S. Secretary of Defense; Jim Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI); Richard Danzig, former U.S. Secretary of the Navy; Michèle A. Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Richard Fontaine, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS); Stephen J. Hadley, former U.S. National Security Advisor; Michael V. Hayden, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA); Admiral William H. McRaven, retired U.S. Navy four-star Admiral and former Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; Stephanie O’Sullivan, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence; and Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America and former Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State.

“We believe the bill offers an important idea: creating a diplomatic mechanism to execute a national security strategy, which places technology competition and international partnerships at its center,” the bipartisan national security leaders wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and U.S. National Security Advisory, Jake Sullivan. “The strength of the United States – politically, economically, and militarily – will depend on the ability of the United States and like-minded democratic countries to lead in the development and deployment of emerging and critical technologies. Significant advances are occurring across a variety of technology sectors, including wireless telecommunications, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum computing, with major implications for every aspect of American life.” 

In the letter, the national security leaders describe how the Democracy Technology Partnership Act would help set international standards and norms on emerging and critical technologies. 

For the better half of a century, the United States led in scientific research and the development of transformational technologies, translating into significant economic and military benefits for the American people. This leadership also enabled us to set the rules of the road governing the use of new technologies in ways that reflected our democratic values,” they continued. “However, in recent years, as U.S. leadership has eroded, the People’s Republic of China has stepped up its efforts to dominate critical and emerging technologies. Their approach has included heavily subsidizing Chinese companies, conducting forced technology transfers, investing significantly in research and development, heavily promoting the global adoption of Chinese technologies, and leveraging international standard setting bodies. They have used these technologies for undemocratic ends internally, such as censorship and surveillance, and exported these technologies, with their illiberal values, abroad.”

“Given the size of the PRC and the scale of its investments, the United States cannot protect its technologies nor compete on its own. The world’s major liberal-democratic nations must work together to help set international standards and norms, conduct joint research, coordinate export controls and investment screening, and make collaborative investments abroad. The Democracy Technology Partnership Act outlines an important vision and strategic plan for how the United States should collaborate with friends and allies on a technology strategy while promoting and protecting our common interests. We ask for your strong consideration of its provisions,” they concluded.

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

 

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520

 

Mr. Jake Sullivan

National Security Advisor

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear Secretary Blinken and Mr. Sullivan:

We write to convey our support for the bipartisan Democracy Technology Partnership Act (S.604), recently introduced by Senators Warner, Menendez, Schumer, Young, Cornyn, Sasse, Rubio and Bennet. The bill establishes an office that would seek to create a new diplomatic partnership of the world’s tech-leading democracies to coordinate technology policy, standards, and development. We believe the bill offers an important idea: creating a diplomatic mechanism to execute a national security strategy, which places technology competition and international partnerships at its center.

The strength of the United States – politically, economically, and militarily – will depend on the ability of the United States and like-minded democratic countries to lead in the development and deployment of emerging and critical technologies. Significant advances are occurring across a variety of technology sectors, including wireless telecommunications, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum computing, with major implications for every aspect of American life.   

For the better half of a century, the United States led in scientific research and the development of transformational technologies, translating into significant economic and military benefits for the American people. This leadership also enabled us to set the rules of the road governing the use of new technologies in ways that reflected our democratic values.  

However, in recent years, as U.S. leadership has eroded, the People’s Republic of China has stepped up its efforts to dominate critical and emerging technologies. Their approach has included heavily subsidizing Chinese companies, conducting forced technology transfers, investing significantly in research and development, heavily promoting the global adoption of Chinese technologies, and leveraging international standard setting bodies. They have used these technologies for undemocratic ends internally, such as censorship and surveillance, and exported these technologies, with their illiberal values, abroad.

Given the size of the PRC and the scale of its investments, the United States cannot protect its technologies nor compete on its own. The world’s major liberal-democratic nations must work together to help set international standards and norms, conduct joint research, coordinate export controls and investment screening, and make collaborative investments abroad. 

The Democracy Technology Partnership Act outlines an important vision and strategic plan for how the United States should collaborate with friends and allies on a technology strategy while promoting and protecting our common interests. We ask for your strong consideration of its provisions. 

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released a statement after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a declassified Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Foreign Threats to the 2020 U.S. Elections. As part of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY18, FY19, and FY20, ODNI was required to release the declassified report examining elections interference in 2020:

“This report highlights the ongoing and persistent efforts by our adversaries to influence our elections, which all Americans should be informed about. Russia, in particular, has expended real effort, not just in 2020, but also as we all recall in 2016, to influence election results. I believe that the intelligence community has gotten much better at detecting these efforts, and we have built better defenses against election interference. But the problem of foreign actors trying to influence the American electorate is not going away and, given the current partisan divides in this country, may find fertile ground in which to grow in the future.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN), today introduced legislation to develop a partnership and strategy among democratic countries to compete against growing technological strength and influence by the Chinese Communist Party and other authoritarian regimes. The Democracy Technology Partnership Act would establish a U.S. interagency office at the State Department, tasked with creating a partnership among democratic countries to help set international standards and norms, conduct joint research, and coordinate export controls and investment screening on emerging and critical technologies.

“The Chinese Communist Party is working to surpass the U.S. technologically and economically and to export their technologies globally. In order to compete and counter the expansion of Chinese dominance in critical technology sectors, we need to create a strategy that leverages the power of American partnerships to protect and advance our technological edge,” said Sen. Warner. “This bipartisan legislation will help foster partnerships among the U.S. and like-minded democratic countries to better protect and compete against China in critical emerging technologies while helping set global rules, standards, and protocols for the market.”

“After four years of consistent failure under the Trump administration, one of our most important challenges will be to forge a coherent new national security strategy, particularly on cybersecurity and emerging technology, led by our values, centered on our democratic allies and partners, and implemented with consistency,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Democracy Technology Partnership Act is a bipartisan recognition that we have entered a new era of technology and geo-economic strategic competition with Beijing, and an acknowledgement that we will not overcome this challenge without technology partnerships and shared human ingenuity. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to invest in a broad diplomatic and security architecture that restores our nation’s position as the world’s greatest innovator and allows us to actually outperform China.” 

“Both Democrats and Republicans know that competing with China is one of the biggest challenges in the 21st Century,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “For years, I have been committed to confronting the Chinese government for cheating and stealing its way to economic growth. That’s why I am proud to help champion the bipartisan Democracy Technology Partnership Act, which will give like-minded democracies the edge needed to compete with the Chinese Communist Party. This initiative is an important next step in our mission to boost American competitiveness, leverage our alliances abroad and fight China’s predatory practices.”

“It’s no secret the Chinese Communist Party wants to reshape the emerging technology landscape to benefit their authoritarian aims. It is essential that the United States and our like-minded democratic allies around the world work together to set global standards that uphold our universal values,” said Sen. Young. “This bipartisan legislation marks a significant step forward for the United States in our ongoing effort to out-compete China and I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this passed into law.”

“Winning the long-term tech race with the Chinese Communist Party is foundational to our strategic relevance in the world. Chairman Xi has laid out an ambitious plan to displace the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower and install his version of techno-authoritarianism in its place. The United States cannot meet this challenge alone and must lead our freedom-loving allies and partners to craft creative solutions to our shared technological challenges. This bill is a good step towards that goal,” said Sen. Sasse.

“It’s critical for democracies around the world to collaborate in research and development as well as manufacturing of advanced technologies to compete against China,” said Sen. Rubio. “Too many nations fall prey to the trap of incentives associated with Chinese tech that only results in lost privacy, reduced autonomy, and greater dependence on Beijing.  The U.S. must lead likeminded countries in establishing and supporting alternatives that are safer and technologically more advanced.  I hope this bill will push the Administration to lead in this space.”    

“The Chinese Communist Party is working rapidly and strategically to dominate in technologies that will underpin our economic and national security, and to export its illiberal technology across the globe,” said Sen. Bennet. “America’s competitiveness and security require an international technology strategy that leads with our values and allies. This bipartisan approach will empower the United States and our democratic partners to compete with China and set the rules of the road for next generation technologies.”

Leadership and competitiveness in emerging and critical technologies will determine the political, economic, and military strength of countries in the 21st century. Currently, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is using every tool in its arsenal to achieve dominance in key technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors and more. Its approach to technology includes heavily subsidizing Chinese companies, investing extensively in research and development, incentivizing foreign countries to adopt its technologies, leveraging international standard-setting bodies to advance its vision, imposing unfair restrictions on foreign companies, and accessing technologies through illicit means. 

Simply put, the U.S. cannot counter these practices or compete with the PRC and other authoritarian governments on its own. To compete against these technological advancements, the Democracy Technology Partnership Act would establish an interagency office at the U.S. Department of State to lead in the creation of a new partnership among the world’s tech-leading democracies. The partnership between the democratic countries would ensure that these technologies advance democratic institutions, norms, and values, contributing to global peace and prosperity.  

Specifically, the interagency office would be responsible for:

·         Creating a technology-based partnership of democratic countries to develop harmonized technology governance regimes and to fill gaps on specific technologies;

·         Identifying existing, and when needed, new multilateral mechanisms to advance the objectives of the Technology Partnership; 

·         Coordinating with such countries regarding shared technology strategies; and

·         Developing strategies to provide alternatives to countries who are at risk of acquiring technologies from authoritarian regimes. 

The criteria for participation in the global partnership – as laid out by the legislation – requires that the country be a democratic national government with a strong commitment to democratic values, have an economy with advanced technology sectors, and have a demonstrated record of interest or expressed interest in international cooperation and coordination with the U.S. on defense and intelligence issues. 

In addition, the Democracy Technology Partnership Act creates a $5 billion International Technology Partnership Fund to support joint research projects between government research agencies, universities, technology companies and other businesses from partner countries, as well as to make technology investments in third-country markets. The legislation also creates a Public-Private Board, called the International Technology Partnership Advisory Board, made up of individuals with demonstrated expertise in the fields of emerging technologies and international trade to provide advice and recommendations to the Technology Partnership Office and on the bill’s implementation. 

“I commend Senators Warner and Menendez for this bold new legislation, which will help ensure that democratic values and partnerships are at the center of America’s strategy to win the global technology competition. The new Technology Partnership they are proposing would be a powerful diplomatic tool to counter authoritarian influence. It would also promote new avenues of cooperation between democratic nations to secure a better future for us all,” said Madeline Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State.

“The Technology Partnership, as proposed by Senators Warner, Menendez, Cornyn, Young, Sasse, and Schumer, is a worthy initiative, rightly identifying the most important challenge facing the United States for the next decade.  The legislation wisely creates a multilateral mechanism for the United States to coordinate with like-minded, democratic countries to counter and compete with the People’s Republic of China.  As the PRC works to dominate critical emerging technologies, essential to U.S. military, political and economic strength, democracies must come together to coordinate technology policy that reflects democratic values,” said Stephen J. Hadley, former U.S. National Security Advisor.

“The Democracy Technology Partnership Act outlines an important vision and strategic plan for how the United States should collaborate with allies and friends on a technology strategy which promotes and protects our common interests.  Its placement at the State Department, with interagency representatives and a public-private board, ensures that the effort will be a key part of America’s global diplomatic strategy, tapping into the great talent available across the U.S. government and in the private sector.  This is an innovative approach to one of the toughest challenges facing the United States and our community of democracies,” said Ambassador Marc Grossman, Vice Chairman of the Cohen Group, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

“The United States’ leadership in technology and innovation is at risk, as the PRC works to surpass the US in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and data science, quantum information systems, biotechnology, 5G, and semiconductor technologies. The United States needs a national strategy for innovation, and this legislation outlines an essential element in that larger strategy: a coalition of democratic countries to coordinate on defense of technologies, set standards, and develop common policies for emerging technologies,” said Admiral William H. McRaven, U.S. Navy (Retired).  

A copy of the bill section-by-section can be found here. A two-page summary can be found here. A copy of the bill text can be found here.

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive, has been a leading voice on issues related to the national security challenges facing the United States as a result of China’s growing power and influence. Last week, Sen. Warner participated in a bipartisan meeting with President Biden on securing U.S. supply chains for critical and essential goods to help counter China’s efforts to expand its influence and economic power. Sen. Warner has also successfully pushed for the inclusion of his bipartisan Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act in the FY21 defense bill to encourage and support U.S. innovation in the race for 5G dominance.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a declassified report on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi:

“For too long, the United States failed to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the brutal murder of journalist, dissident, and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi. I’m encouraged to see the new administration taking steps to rectify that by releasing this long-overdue congressionally mandated report into his killing.”

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WASHINGTON — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice-Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) filed legislation (S. 640) to extend Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act from its current expiration of March 31, 2021 to September 30, 2021. The provision allows a critical lifeline for federal agencies to maintain contractors, who would otherwise be at risk for layoff or furlough due to the pandemic. Warner and Rubio also sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requesting that Section 3610 be extended “as freestanding legislation, as we have introduced, or as a provision on the next appropriate legislative vehicle.”

A coalition of organizations wrote in support of Warner and Rubio's efforts to extend Section 3610, highlighting that “numerous organizations representing the breadth of the government industrial base, including manufacturers and service providers, from large companies to small businesses, have emphasized the importance of the 3610 authority and the need for an extension.” 

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell,

We write to ask that Section 3610 Federal Contractor Authority of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act be extended to September 30, 2021, as freestanding legislation, as we have introduced, or as a provision on the next appropriate legislative vehicle.

This authority was last extended in the omnibus appropriations act for fiscal year 2021 and is due to expire on March 31, 2021. We believe extending this authority given the prolongation of the global pandemic is critically important to the resilience of our national security industrial base. Section 3610 has proven to be an important means of providing necessary relief during the pandemic to critical Intelligence Community industry partners—and particularly to small businesses that provide highly specialized capabilities—to retain key national security capabilities.

We look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement following a meeting at the White House with President Biden and bipartisan members of the House and Senate to discuss securing U.S. supply chains for critical and essential goods:

“I applaud the Biden Administration for engaging lawmakers on a bipartisan basis on supply chain security, particularly as it relates to semiconductors. To counter China’s efforts to expand its influence and economic power, we have to make investments here at home, which is why I introduced bipartisan legislation, the CHIPS for America Act, to boost U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and research and create jobs.

“Maintaining U.S. competitiveness in semiconductor manufacturing is a national security issue as well as an economic one, because semiconductors are the critical driver of innovation and defense computing capabilities. Today, these chips power an unimaginable range of products big and small, expensive and cheap, high-tech and low-tech. Today’s Executive Order is a good first start but much more work remains to be done – and quickly – including fully funding a number of enacted bills related to promoting supply chain security, resiliency and greater American competitiveness in key foundation technologies like semiconductors and wireless infrastructure. I was encouraged that in today’s meeting, there was a bipartisan consensus that supply chain security must remain a priority, and I look forward to working with President Biden and my colleagues in the Senate on this issue.”

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