Feb 26 2021
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.
Statement of Senate Intel Chair Mark R. Warner on Declassified Report on the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi
Feb 26 2021
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.”
Statement of U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner on Supply Chain Security Meeting with President Biden and Bipartisan Members of Congress
Feb 24 2021
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.”
Warner, Thune, Stabenow, Fischer Reintroduce Bill to Protect U.S. From Digital Infrastructure Corruption
Feb 24 2021
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) today joined U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), to reintroduce the Network Security Trade Act, legislation to ensure U.S. communications infrastructure security is a clear negotiating objective of our country’s trade policy.
“Promoting the security and integrity of global digital infrastructure should be among the most paramount digital trade objectives the U.S. pursues,” said Warner. “It is long past time to make this a key negotiating objective in order to promote a more long-term, multilateral strategy to safeguard the global telecommunications market from providers like Huawei that could pose a serious risk to digital infrastructure across the globe.”
“There is a lot of promise with new and advanced technologies like 5G, but the United States can only deliver on those promises if we maintain the security of communications networks, both at home and abroad,” said Thune. “This legislation would ensure that the security of the equipment and technology that create the global communications infrastructure is front and center in our trade negotiations, because you can’t have optimal free trade if the global digital infrastructure is compromised.”
“When it comes to national security, one of our nation’s top priorities must be protecting our communication systems that we all depend on every day,” said Stabenow. “This bill helps leverage our trade negotiating powers to make sure our telecommunication networks like 5G are safe and secure.”
“The transition to 5G represents a major opportunity for American businesses, but it also poses serious challenges for America’s national security,” said Fischer. “Many other countries have plans to deploy equipment made by China’s untrustworthy Huawei. This bipartisan legislation makes clear that our concerns about Beijing are serious, and that future trade negotiations must account for our national security.”
The Network Security Trade Act would amend the 2015 Trade Promotion Authority, which is in effect until July 1, 2021, to include a negotiating objective related to the security of communications networks. Today, one of the largest manufacturers of 5G equipment and telecommunications infrastructure is Huawei Technologies, which is supported by the Chinese Communist Party. While the bill does not name specific state-owned companies, it would direct the executive branch to ensure that the equipment and technology that are used to create the global communications infrastructure are not compromised. It would achieve that goal by addressing barriers to the security of communications networks and supply chains and unfair trade practices of state-owned or state-controlled communications equipment suppliers in new trade agreements. Confronting these issues, which this legislation requires, is critical as the United States considers formal trade talks with the United Kingdom and other allies.
SSCI Chair & Vice Chair Statement on Anne Neuberger Tapped to Lead Biden Administration’s Response to SolarWinds Breach
Feb 10 2021
WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a joint statement after the Biden administration confirmed Anne Neuberger, the National Security Agency's cybersecurity director, will lead the administration’s response to the SolarWinds breach. Yesterday, Chairman Warner and Vice Chairman Rubio sent a letter to the Intelligence Community urging the Unified Coordination Group to name a leader in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies and thousands of private sector entities.
“The federal government’s response to date to the SolarWinds breach has lacked the leadership and coordination warranted by a significant cyber event, so it is welcome news that the Biden administration has selected Anne Neuberger to lead the response. The Committee looks forward to getting regular briefings from Ms. Neuberger and working with her to ensure we fully confront and mitigate this incident as quickly as possible.”
Warner & Rubio Urge DNI, NSA, FBI, and CISA to Assign a Leader in the United States' Response to the SolarWinds Cyber Breach
Feb 09 2021
WASHINGTON – Today, 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 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Avril Haines, National Security Agency (NSA) Director General Paul Nakasone, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Acting Director Brandon Wales, urging the Unified Coordination Group to name a leader in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies and thousands of other private sector entities.
In the letter to the intelligence community, the Senators wrote, “The briefings we have received convey a disjointed and disorganized response to confronting the breach. Taking a federated rather than a unified approach means that critical tasks that are outside the central roles of your respective agencies are likely to fall through the cracks. The threat our country still faces from this incident needs clear leadership to develop and guide a unified strategy for recovery, in particular a leader who has the authority to coordinate the response, set priorities, and direct resources to where they are needed.”
The text of the full letter is here and can be found below.
Dear Director Haines, General Nakasone, Director Wray, and Acting Director Wales:
We are writing to urge you to name and empower a clear leader in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies, and thousands of other private sector entities. The federal government’s response so far has lacked the leadership and coordination warranted by a significant cyber event, and we have little confidence that we are on the shortest path to recovery.
The briefings we have received convey a disjointed and disorganized response to confronting the breach. Taking a federated rather than a unified approach means that critical tasks that are outside the central roles of your respective agencies are likely to fall through the cracks. The threat our country still faces from this incident needs clear leadership to develop and guide a unified strategy for recovery, in particular a leader who has the authority to coordinate the response, set priorities, and direct resources to where they are needed.
The handling of this incident is too critical for us to continue operating the way we have been. Presidential Policy Directive-41 was not meant to impede a joint response to significant cyber incidents and clearly gives the Unified Coordination Group the authority, with mutual agreement and consistent with applicable legal authorities, to realign operational control of respective agency assets to respond to such incidents. We urge you to reach such an agreement and assign a clear leader to ensure we confront and mitigate this incident fully, and as quickly as possible.
WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Act to reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment, and discrimination on their platforms.
“When Section 230 was enacted in 1996, the Internet looked very different than it does today. A law meant to encourage service providers to develop tools and policies to support effective moderation has instead conferred sweeping immunity on online providers even when they do nothing to address foreseeable, obvious and repeated misuse of their products and services to cause harm,” said Sen. Warner, a former technology entrepreneur and the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Section 230 has provided a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card to the largest platform companies even as their sites are used by scam artists, harassers and violent extremists to cause damage and injury. This bill doesn’t interfere with free speech – it’s about allowing these platforms to finally be held accountable for harmful, often criminal behavior enabled by their platforms to which they have turned a blind eye for too long.”
“Section 230 was passed in 1996 to incentivize then-nascent internet companies to voluntarily police illegal and harmful content posted by their users. Now, twenty-five years later, the law allows some of the biggest companies in the world turn a blind eye while their platforms are used to violate civil and human rights, stalk and harass people, and defraud consumers—all without accountability,” Sen. Hirono said. “The SAFE TECH Act brings Section 230 into the modern age by creating targeted exceptions to the law’s broad immunity. Internet platforms must either address the serious harms they impose on society or face potential civil liability.”
“We need to be asking more from big tech companies, not less. How they operate has a real-life effect on the safety and civil rights of Americans and people around the world, as well as our democracy. Holding these platforms accountable for ads and content that can lead to real-world harm is critical, and this legislation will do just that,” said Sen. Klobuchar.
The SAFE TECH Act would make clear that Section 230:
· Doesn’t apply to ads or other paid content – ensuring that platforms cannot continue to profit as their services are used to target vulnerable consumers with ads enabling frauds and scams;
· Doesn’t bar injunctive relief – allowing victims to seek court orders where misuse of a provider’s services is likely to cause irreparable harm;
· Doesn’t impair enforcement of civil rights laws – maintaining the vital and hard-fought protections from discrimination even when activities or services are mediated by internet platforms;
· Doesn’t interfere with laws that address stalking/cyber-stalking or harassment and intimidation on the basis of protected classes – ensuring that victims of abuse and targeted harassment can hold platforms accountable when they directly enable harmful activity;
· Doesn’t bar wrongful death actions – allowing the family of a decedent to bring suit against platforms where they may have directly contributed to a loss of life;
· Doesn’t bar suits under the Alien Tort Claims Act – potentially allowing victims of platform-enabled human rights violations abroad (like the survivors of the Rohingya genocide) to seek redress in U.S. courts against U.S.-based platforms.
These changes to Section 230 do not guarantee that platforms will be held liable in all, or even most, cases. Proposed changes do not subject platforms to strict liability; and the current legal standards for plaintiffs still present steep obstacles. Rather, these reforms ensure that victims have an opportunity to raise claims without Section 230 serving as a categorical bar to their efforts to seek legal redress for harms they suffer – even when directly enabled by a platform’s actions or design.
“Social media platforms and the tech companies that run them must protect their users from the growing and dangerous combination of misinformation and discrimination. As we have repeatedly seen, these platforms are being used to violate the civil rights of Black users and other users of color by serving as virtually-unchecked homes for hateful content and in areas such as housing and employment discrimination through the targeting and limiting of who can see certain advertisements. Section 230 must be strengthened to ensure that these online communities are not safe harbors for the violations of civil rights laws. LDF supports Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s bill as it addresses these critical concerns,” said Lisa Cylar Barrett, Director of Policy, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
“Tech companies must be held accountable for their roles in facilitating genocide, extremist violence and egregious civil rights abuses. We applaud Senators Hirono and Warner for their leadership in introducing a robust bill that focuses on supporting targets of civil and human rights abuses on social media while also addressing cyber-harassment and other crimes stemming from the spread of hate and disinformation. The sweeping legal protections enjoyed by tech platforms cannot continue,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of ADL (Anti-Defamation League).
“Platforms should not profit from targeting employment ads toward White users, or from targeting voter suppression ads toward Black users. Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s comprehensive bill makes it clear that Section 230 does not give platforms a free pass to violate civil rights laws, while also preserving the power of platforms to remove harmful disinformation,” said Spencer Overton, President, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
“I applaud the SAFE TECH Act introduced by Sens. Warner and Hirono which provides useful modifications to section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to limit the potential negative impacts of commercial advertising interests while continuing to protect anti-harassment and civil and human rights interests of those who may be wrongfully harmed through wrongful online activity,”
Ramesh Srinivasan, Professor at the UCLA Department of Information Studies and Director of UC Digital Cultures Lab, said.
“Congress enacted 47 USC 230 in the mid-1990s to support online innovation and free speech but the way in which courts have very generously read Section 230 have meant there is no legal mechanism that has done more to insulate intermediaries from legal accountability for distributing, amplifying, and carefully delivering unlawful content and facilitating dangerous antisocial connections. Racist, misogynist, and violent antidemocratic forces coalesce online because intermediaries rarely have to account for their social impacts. Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s proposed changes create a new and necessary incentive for such companies to be far more mindful of the social impacts of their services in areas of law that are of vital importance to the health of the networked information environment. It does this while not abandoning the protection for intermediaries' distribution of otherwise lawful content,” said Olivier Sylvain, Professor at Fordham Law School and Director of the McGannon Center for Communications Research.
“We applaud Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s important effort to reform Section 230 and thus bring greater accountability to the tech sector. Warner’s proposed reforms are crucial to protecting civil rights and making the web safer for those who have been negatively impacted by much that happens there, both online and off. We thank Senator Warner and Senator Hirono for tackling this critically important issue,” Wendy Via, Cofounder, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said.
“The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative welcomes this effort to protect civil rights in the digital age and to hold online intermediaries accountable for their role in the silencing and exploitation of vulnerable communities. This bill offers urgently needed provisions to limit and correct the overzealous interpretation of Section 230 that has granted a multibillion dollar industry immunity and impunity for profiting from irreparable injury,” said Mary Anne Franks, President, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and Danielle K. Citron, Vice President, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.
“For too long, companies like Facebook and YouTube have undermined the rights and safety of Muslims and communities of color in the U.S. and around the world. We have urged them to take responsibility for the targeted hate and violence, including genocide, facilitated by their platforms but these companies have refused to act,” said Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates Special Counsel for Anti-Muslim Bigotry. “We appreciate Senators Warner and Hirono for introducing the SAFE TECH Act, which includes essential adjustments to Section 230 and will finally hold these companies accountable for violating people’s rights.”
“The SAFE TECH Act is an important step forward for platform accountability and for the protection of privacy online. Providing an opportunity for victims of harassment, privacy invasions, and other violations to remove unlawful content is critical to stopping its spread and limiting harm,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, Interim Associate Director and Policy Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
“The SAFE TECH Act is the Section 230 reform America needs now. Over-expansive readings of Section 230 have encouraged reckless and negligent shirking by platforms of basic duties toward their users. Few if any of the drafters of Section 230 could have imagined that it would be opportunistically seized on to deregulate online arms sales, protect sellers of defective merchandise, permit genocidaires to organize online with impunity, or allow dating sites to ignore campaigns of harassment and worse against their users. The SAFE TECH Act reins in the cyberlibertarian ethos of Section 230 imperialism, permitting courts to carefully weigh and assess evidence in cases where impunity is now preemptively assumed,” Frank Pasquale, Author of The Black Box Society and Professor at Brooklyn Law School, said.
“For far too long online platforms have placed profit over accountability and decency, and allowed misinformation, algorithmic discrimination, and online hate to be weaponized. When the Communications Decency Act was passed in 1996, no one imagined it would be used to shield the most valuable companies in the world from basic civil rights compliance,” said David Brody, Counsel and Senior Fellow for Privacy and Technology, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This bill would make irresponsible big tech companies accountable for the digital pollution they knowingly and willfully produce, while continuing to protect free speech online. Black Americans and other communities of color are frequent targets of online hate, threats and discrimination, and many of these online behaviors would not be tolerated if they occurred in a brick-and-mortar business. It is time that big tech stop treating our communities of color like second-class citizens, and give them the protection they deserve.”
“It is unacceptable that Big Tech enjoys near total legal immunity from the harm that their platforms expose to children and families. Tech companies should not be able to hide behind Section 230 to avoid abiding by civil rights laws, court injunctions, and other protections for families and the most vulnerable in society. Reforms proposed by Sens. Warner and Hirono begin to change that. It is time to hold these companies accountable for the harms their platforms have unleashed on society,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and Founder, Common Sense.
“The deadly insurrection at the Capitol made clear that lawmakers must take immediate action to ensure multi-billion-dollar social media companies, whose business models incentivize the unchecked spread of hate-fueled misinformation and violent clickbait conspiracies, can no longer abuse Section 230’s broad protections to evade civil rights laws,” said Arisha Hatch, Color Of Change Vice President and Chief of Campaigns. “The SAFE TECH Act from Sen. Warner and Sen. Hirono is critical. The proposed reform would not only prevent power-hungry social media companies from leveraging Section 230 to turn a blind eye to civil rights violations on their platforms, but it would also incentivize them to take down dangerous paid and organic content — and establish better protections against real world harms like cyberstalking, which disproportionately impacts Black women. We strongly encourage members of Congress to support this legislation, which represents a significant step towards finally holding Big Tech accountable for their years-long role in enabling civil rights violations against Black communities.”
“After 2020 no-one is asking if online misinformation creates real-world harms - whether it's COVID and anti-vaxx misinformation, election-related lies or hate, it is now clear that action is needed to deal with unregulated digital platforms. Whereas users can freely spread hate and misinformation, platforms profit from traffic regardless of whether it is productive or damaging, the costs are borne by the public and society at large. This timely bill forensically delineates the harms and ensures perpetrators and enablers pay a price for the harms they create. In doing so, it reflects our desire for richer communication technologies, which enhance our right to speak and be heard, and that also respect our fundamental rights to life and safety,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO, Center for Countering Digital Hate.
“Our lives are at stake because hate and white supremacy is flourishing online. On January 6th we saw the results of what continuous disinformation and hate online can do with the insurection and domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, where five lives were lost,” said Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition. “It is time to hold online platforms accountable for their role in the radicalization and spread of extremist ideologies in our country. NHMC is proud to support Senator Warner's limited reform of Section 230, and applauds his efforts to safeguard our democracy and the Latinx community.”
“Senator Mark Warner is a leader in ensuring that technology supports democracy even as it advances innovation. His and Senator Hirono’s new Section 230 reform bill now removes obstacles to enforcement against discrimination, cyber-stalking, and targeted harassment in the online world. The events of Jan 6 demonstrated that what happens online isn’t just a game. Online conspiracy theories, discrimination, and harassment are a public danger. The Warner-Hirono bill would go a long way toward addressing these dangers, and incentivizing platforms to move past the current, ineffective whack-a-mole approach to these important online harms,” said Karen Kornbluh, Director of the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund of the US and Former US Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following after a Moscow judge sentenced Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 3.5 years in prison:
“The cruel absurdity of Putin’s government is encapsulated by the sentencing of Alexei Navalny to prison for failing to check in with his parole officer while he was literally lying in a coma after being poisoned by Putin’s FSB. Knowing his life was in danger, Navalny nonetheless courageously returned to his home country and inspired tens of thousands of ordinary Russians to publicly demand an end to government corruption. The Russian authorities must immediately end their violent crackdown and release Alexei Navalny along with the thousands of peaceful protesters who have been detained by the government simply because they embarrassed Vladimir Putin. The United States Congress and the Biden administration can and will hold Russian officials accountable for their abuses.”
Jan 28 2021
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner joined Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07), in a bipartisan, bicameral reintroduction of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation would permanently repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also joined Shaheen to lead the introduction of the legislation in the Senate, which has 46 total cosponsors. The House companion legislation has 173 cosponsors.
The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, is an executive order that bans federal funds for foreign non-governmental organizations that use non-U.S. funds to provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of comprehensive family planning services. This forces clinics to choose between providing limited reproductive health services while accepting U.S. foreign aid or providing inclusive family planning and reproductive health care with a limited budget. The ill-conceived policy was rescinded by the Obama administration, only to be reinstated and expanded under the Trump administration. President Trump expanded the policy numerous times during his term in office to unprecedented levels, all of which Senator Shaheen vehemently opposed. Yesterday, President Biden rescinded the policy.
“The Global Gag Rule compromised women’s health and well-being in some of our most vulnerable communities around the world. The impact of the last administration’s actions to implement and significantly expand this policy will take years to repair,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m very pleased by President Biden’s decision to rescind this policy and I’m eager to work with his administration to build on that effort in Congress, starting with legislation I’ve introduced – the Global HER Act. The Global HER Act is a bipartisan bill to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, ensuring that women’s access to important health services are not dependent on the person in the White House. And a permanent repeal is needed now more than ever. The Trump administration’s unprecedented and exponential expansion of the Global Gag Rule cannot be repeated. Frontline organizations need certainty on funding and services so they can best serve their patients. The life and health of a mother on the other side of the world shouldn’t be at the whim of a President’s partisan politics. It’s time to end the Global Gag Rule.”
“The Global Gag rule leaves behind a chilling effect every time the United States changes administrations, undercutting the longstanding goals of the policy,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This harmful policy interferes with doctor-patient relationships by restricting crucial information and health services for vulnerable communities around the world. We can no longer undermine the sustainability of global health programs and our pace of progress, so I’m proud to be co-leading this effort with my colleagues. I’m looking forward to advancing the Global HER Act in the House and Senate with an administration that understands the importance of this issue."
“I want to applaud President Biden for taking the important step of issuing an Executive Order to repeal the Global Gag rule, saving lives and protecting the health of women around the world,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Access to comprehensive reproductive health services and information will not only reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, but also prevent injuries and death that result from unsafe abortions. Once again, the United States, the single largest funder of global health, is stepping up to prevent negative maternal health outcomes. I am proud to co-lead the Global HER Act to permanently repeal this harmful policy and ensure that future Administrations don’t bring it back.”
“I’m grateful President Biden rescinded the Global Gag Rule, which jeopardizes life-saving global health programs and makes it even harder for women and families in vulnerable populations to access critical reproductive health care. This policy also hinders our ability to fight against epidemics like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Trump Administration shamefully expanded this policy, leading to disastrous results for women and families across the world at a time when the global community was already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Bera. “Congress must act to ensure no future Administration can implement this harmful policy. I’m proud to join my colleagues in the House and Senate in reintroducing the Global HER Act to permanently end the Global Gag Rule and its attack on reproductive rights.”
“The Global HER Act would allow U.S. global health assistance funding for foreign non-governmental organizations, using their own funds, to provide the full scope of family planning services to women in developing countries,” said Senator Collins. “The global gag rule forces health care organizations to make a Hobson’s choice: either give up desperately needed funds for family planning and a broad array of other important health care services, or renege on their responsibility to provide patients with full and accurate medical information. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that U.S. investments in global health are effective and are administered efficiently.”
“In 2017, President Trump issued a presidential memorandum that restored the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. The expansion of this policy that occurred over the last four years had a detrimental impact on clinical providers, community health workers and public health partners around the world providing women and girls with essential services,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m proud to help reintroduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation which would permanently repeal that rule. By doing so, we remove eligibility restrictions that could unintentionally create barriers to critical, often life-saving services and help ensure women around the world have access to more comprehensive, quality healthcare.”
The Global HER Act would:
- Ensure that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad, particularly those that provide legal health services to women -- including counseling, referral, and legal abortion services -- with their own, non-U.S. funds;
- Guarantee that foreign NGOs will not be forced to sacrifice their right to free speech in order to participate in U.S.-supported programs abroad; and
- Help expand access to health programs for women around the world to improve health and development outcomes for entire families, communities and developing countries.
A member of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, Senator Shaheen has been a fierce advocate for women and girls around the globe, including advocating on behalf of family planning and women’s global health, spearheading efforts to end gender-based violence, authoring legislation to address barriers that girls around the world face in accessing education and securing women leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations.
In addition to Sen. Warner, the Global HER Act is cosponsored by Senators Collins (R-ME), Murkowski (R-AK), Menendez (D-NJ), Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hassan (D-NH), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Kelly (D-AZ), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Ossoff (D-GA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Sinema (D-AZ), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warnock (D-GA), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI) and Wyden (D-OR).
The Global HER Act is endorsed by 132 organizations representing global health, women’s reproductive rights, women’s equality, civil rights and other relevant advocacy constituencies. The full list is available here.
Text of the Global HER Act can be read here.
Jan 20 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Senate confirmed Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence:
“Given the critical importance of the role of the Director of National Intelligence to our country’s security, it is appropriate that Avril Haines has now become the first member of the new administration to be confirmed by the Senate in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. After being deliberately undermined for four years, the Intelligence Community deserves a strong, Senate-confirmed leader to lead and reinvigorate it. I am confident Ms. Haines will serve capably and honorably in the role and I look forward to working with her.”
Prior to the vote, Sen. Warner spoke on the floor, urging senators to support Ms. Haines’ nomination. Broadcast-quality video and audio of that speech is available for download here.
Statement of Incoming Senate Intel Chair Mark R. Warner Following Haines Hearing, Incoming Senate Intel Chair Urges Swift Confirmation
Jan 19 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:
“In today’s open and classified sessions, Ms. Haines demonstrated professionalism, commitment to the men and women of the Intelligence Community, and a keen grasp of the challenges facing our national security. The Intelligence Community needs a strong, Senate-confirmed leader and Ms. Haines will be that leader. The Committee will work to schedule a vote on her nomination as soon as possible, and I urge the Senate to confirm her without any unnecessary delay.”
Statement of U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner on the nomination hearing of Janet Yellen to be Treasury Secretary
Jan 19 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement regarding the nomination of Janet Yellen to be Secretary of the Treasury. Due to a conflict with the confirmation hearing for the Director of National Intelligence-designate in the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner was unable to attend the nomination hearing for Yellen earlier today in the Finance Committee.
“Dr. Yellen is exactly the type of leader we need at the Treasury to see our economy through these challenging times. Her deep understanding of our economy and financial markets will allow her to hit the ground running as we work to rebuild and recover from COVID-19,” said Sen. Warner. “She should be swiftly confirmed.”
“I look forward to working with Secretary Yellen to advance our shared priorities, including expanding investments into minority and underserved communities, reforming our tax code, preparing American workers to compete in a 21st century economy, and implementing key reforms to our anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership laws, among other urgent challenges facing our fragile economy,” Sen. Warner added.
Rubio, Warner Request DNI Provide Information on Intelligence Community Efforts for Biden's Inauguration
Jan 15 2021
Washington, D.C. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) requested information from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe regarding how the Intelligence Community is preparing for the inauguration on January 20, 2021.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Director Ratcliffe:
In light of the recent violence at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, we request that you provide the Committee with a detailed description of how the Intelligence Community (IC) is supporting relevant customers in the Congress, Executive Branch, and state and local law enforcement in preparation for the inauguration on January 20, 2021.
- Please update the Committee on all intelligence related to efforts by foreign actors to disrupt the inauguration. Please describe the process by which this reporting will be shared with federal, state, and local stakeholders.
- What products and briefings do you intend to issue to provide indications and warning of any potential unrest, whether foreign or domestic in origin, before and during the inauguration?
- To what extent is the IC working with and/or supporting law enforcement agencies in tracking any threats to the inauguration, and what is the IC’s current assessment of such threats?
- What scenario planning are you conducting in advance of inauguration day?
- What capabilities do the Intelligence Community plan on deploying during inauguration day?
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Statement of Incoming Senate Intel Chairman on President-elect Biden Selecting Bill Burns as CIA Director
Jan 11 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of Bill Burns as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):
“For decades, Bill has faithfully served our nation with honor and dignity. As a career diplomat under Democratic and Republican presidents, he has established himself as a smart and tested public servant who is free from political interference. Now more than ever, our intelligence and defense communities deserve leaders who will notpoliticize our national security institutions.”
Statement of Incoming Senate Intel Chairman on New Sanctions Against Russia-linked Disinformation Network
Jan 11 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced new sanctions against seven individuals and four entities involved in a Russia-linked foreign influence network:
“Even as our attention turns to the real-world impacts of domestic-led disinformation campaigns, we cannot forget that our foreign adversaries have relied upon many of the same tactics. Moreover, much of the false information spread about President-elect Biden during and since the campaign had its roots in the entities being sanctioned today, as we saw Russian entities seed or amplify dangerous narratives that gained significant traction in far-right media. We must redouble efforts to build public confidence in our democratic process and work to develop reforms that make our information ecosystem more resilient to disinformation and wider exploitation efforts.”
Sen. Warner, as Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, helped lead the only congressional committee to conduct a successful bipartisan investigation into Russia’s unprecedented interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Warner Urges Wireless Carriers and Social Media Companies to Preserve Evidence Related to the Attack on the U.S
Jan 09 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), former telecommunications entrepreneur and incoming Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today urged mobile carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon and social media companies Apple, Facebook, Gab, Google, Parler, Signal, Telegram, and Twitter to immediately preserve content and associated meta-data connected to Wednesday’s insurrectionist attack on the United States Capitol.
In all eleven letters to the companies’ CEOs, Sen. Warner emphasized how the rioters took the time to document the event “later posting them to their social media accounts or sharing them via text or mobile messaging platforms to celebrate their disdain for our democratic process.”
“The United States Capitol is now a crime scene,” wrote Sen. Warner in his letters to AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Apple, Facebook, Gab, Google, Parler, Signal, Telegram, and Twitter. “The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are currently investigating the events of that day, and trying to piece together what happened and the perpetrators involved. The prospect of litigation on behalf of the victims of the mayhem also is highly likely. Messaging data to and from your subscribers that may have participated in, or assisted, those engaged in this insurrection – and associated subscriber information – are critical evidence in helping to bring these rioters to justice.”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after Facebook announced an indefinite suspension of President Trump from the platform:
“While I’m pleased to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take long-belated steps to address the President’s sustained misuse of their platforms to sow discord and violence, these isolated actions are both too late and not nearly enough. Disinformation and extremism researchers have for years pointed to broader network-based exploitation of these platforms. As I have continually said, these platforms have served as core organizing infrastructure for violent, far right groups and militia movements for several years now – helping them to recruit, organize, coordinate and in many cases (particularly with respect to YouTube) generate profits from their violent, extremist content.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, took to the Senate floor this evening just hours after a mob of Trump supporters breached and stormed the U.S. Capitol in an act of insurrection.
In remarks delivered after Congress resumed its count of electoral college votes, Sen. Warner warned his Senate colleagues about the national security implications of calling into question the validity of one of the most secure elections in the modern history.
In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Warner said, “What I was going to talk about was the work that I'm most proud of since I've been here, with my good friend Richard Burr and all the members of the Intelligence Committee, about a multi-year report we did into foreign interference in our elections. Probably our top recommendation of that five-volume bipartisan report was that any official or candidate should use restraint and caution when questioning results of our elections. Because when you do so, you often carry out the goals of our foreign adversaries.”
“Use caution, because whether knowingly or unknowingly, and whether that adversary is in Russia or China or Iran, their goals are pretty simple. They want to make it appear to Americans, to folks around the world, to their own people, that there's nothing special about American democracy,” he continued. “You can pull up photos from any newspaper or any television feed anywhere across the world. And what is this photo of? It's of thugs. Thugs in the halls of this Capitol. Diminishing everything we say, we believe in, in this democracy. And when you look at those images, you realize those images are priceless for our adversaries.”
Concluded Sen. Warner, “God willing tonight, in an overwhelming way, we're going to take a small step in a bipartisan way to start restoring that trust of our people and hopefully billions of people around the world who believe in that notion of American democracy.”
The full text of Sen. Warner’s remarks appears below:
Mr. President, I think like most of us, I'm still pretty reeling from what happened today.
What I was going to talk about was the work that I'm most proud of since I've been here, with my good friend Richard Burr and all the members of the Intelligence Committee, about a multi-year report we did into foreign interference in our elections.
Probably our top recommendation of that five-volume bipartisan report was that any official or candidate should use restraint and caution when questioning results of our elections. Because when you do so, you often carry out the goals of our foreign adversaries.
Use caution, because whether knowingly or unknowingly, and whether that adversary is in Russia or China or Iran, their goals are pretty simple. They want to make it appear to Americans, to folks around the world, to their own people, that there's nothing special about American democracy.
I was going to try in a feeble way to maybe reach some of the rhetorical heights of Ben Sasse and I knew I couldn't do that. So instead – I know I'm violating rules here, today is the day for violating rules [holds up cell phone image] – this is a photo that appeared today on one of the most prominent German newspapers.
You don't need to – you can pull up photos from any newspaper or any television feed anywhere across the world. And what is this photo of? It's of thugs. Thugs in the halls of this Capitol. Diminishing everything we say, we believe in, in this democracy. And when you look at those images, you realize those images are priceless for our adversaries.
God willing tonight, in an overwhelming way, we're going to take a small step in a bipartisan way to start restoring that trust of our people and hopefully billions of people around the world who believe in that notion of American democracy. But remember, these images will still endure. I yield back.
Jan 05 2021
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Co-Chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, issued the statement below after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and the National Security Agency (NSA) released a joint statement attributing the SolarWinds hack to Russia:
“It’s unfortunate that it has taken over three weeks after the revelation of an intrusion this significant for this Administration to finally issue a tentative attribution. I would hope that we will begin to see something more definitive, along with a more public pronouncement of U.S. policy towards indiscriminate supply chain infiltrations of this sort in the future. We need to make clear to Russia that any misuse of compromised networks to produce destructive or harmful effects is unacceptable and will prompt an appropriately strong response.”
Jan 04 2021
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) issued the following joint statement on the deal to give European Union businesses a preferential investment environment in China:
“America’s go-it-alone approach to trade over the past four years has harmed American workers, consumers, and businesses, all of whom have paid the cost of various punitive tariff campaigns. It also diminished domestic economic growth, alienated longstanding allies, and undermined America’s global standing.
“It is encouraging that President-elect Biden would like the European Union to wait until he takes office to finalize an investment deal with China. A multilateral approach is necessary to confront China on issues like its abusive labor conditions, unfair and opaque subsidies, forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft, and more.
“The United States has a long history of working with our allies to break down barriers to expanding trade and promoting a rules-based system founded on transparency, reciprocity, and fairness. Another such opportunity exists right now. We strongly encourage our friends in the European Union to delay any agreement with China so that the next Congress and president can work alongside them in ending China’s illegal and unfair trade practices and threats to global supply chain integrity.”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:
“Multiple courts and state legislatures have found that there is no evidence to support allegations of substantial fraud in the 2020 election. Continued efforts on the part of so many Republican senators to enable the undemocratic temper tantrum of a decisively defeated president only serve to undermine faith in the security and sanctity of our elections and represent everything our country’s Founders warned against. I urge my colleagues in the strongest possible terms to reconsider the likely consequences of their actions, for I fear they will do damage to our democracy and our global credibility that cannot be easily repaired.”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Senate voted to override President Trump’s veto of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“Today, I voted to override the President’s veto of the NDAA. This annual defense bill is critical to U.S. national security. Failure to pass it would jeopardize our country’s military readiness and national defense, cybersecurity, the well-being of our U.S. service members and their families, and more. The stakes are just too high to risk further delay.”
The FY21 NDAA, which passed through the Senate earlier this month, contains a number of Warner-led provisions, including ones to combat illicit finance, prioritize U.S. innovation and technology development in 5G and semiconductors, protect military families, create a more diverse Pentagon workforce, enable greater SCIF flexibility, fund the procurement of a second Virginia-class submarine, and expand the list of service-connected presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange exposure.
Earlier this week, the House voted 322-87 to override President Trump’s veto of the NDAA. Following today’s Senate vote, the bill will become law.
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after President Trump vetoed the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) over a provision requiring the military to rename bases named for Confederate military leaders and over the lack of language repealing Section 230.
“It’s unconscionable that the President would choose to throw a wrench into the passage of a bill as critical as our nation’s annual defense bill.
“The President’s decision to veto this bipartisan legislation on his way out the door poses a serious threat to U.S. national security. It jeopardizes mission readiness and the well-being of our U.S. servicemembers and their families, as well as military construction projects, investments in innovation and technology, and other critical defense priorities. It also threatens the economy in Virginia, which houses the Pentagon, major headquarters for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, as well as Naval Station Norfolk – the largest naval base in the world.
“I look forward to overriding the President’s fruitless and ridiculous attempt to undermine our national security over his shifting rationale for his decision to veto, including a provision to rename bases honoring Confederate military leaders – a provision that many in the President’s own party have supported.”
The FY21 NDAA, which passed through the Senate earlier this month, contains a number of Warner-led provisions, including ones to combat illicit finance, prioritize U.S. innovation and technology development in 5G and semiconductors, protect military families, create a more diverse pentagon workforce, enable greater SCIF flexibility, fund the procurement of a second Virginia-class submarine, and expand the list of service-connected presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange exposure.
Sen. Warner is a cosponsor of the Confederate Monument Removal Act, which would remove statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. He has also spoken publicly about the need to remove public symbols—including military post names—honoring the Confederacy as part of broader efforts to advance racial justice. He has spoken out about the need to have a thoughtful conversation about Section 230 and the ways in which it has enabled platforms to turn a blind eye to misuse.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded Senate passage of the bipartisan, bicameral spending bill to fund federal programs crucial to Virginia and keep the federal government open through 2021. The legislation also includes comprehensive measures to help Americans amid the ongoing economic and public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following today’s Senate passage, the bill now heads to the President’s desk for signature.
“For nine long months, folks waited for Congress to deliver critical relief as they watched COVID-19 further devastate their communities. Today, despite that unacceptable delay, relief is officially on its way,” said Warner. “I’m proud to have worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to help get this legislation into shape and in the hands of House and Senate leaders. And while I know that this bill is not perfect, I’m glad to know that it will help American families weather this winter and get through the holidays.”
“While this relief should have been passed much earlier, I’m pleased to see families, small businesses, hospitals, schools, and more get the assistance they need,” Kaine said. “This legislation makes critical investments in unemployment assistance, food aid, housing assistance, and other areas to directly help those struggling amid the pandemic. Though we still have more work to do to help Americans get back on their feet, I’m relieved Congress was able to come to this bipartisan compromise and fund these priorities before the holidays.”
The following list includes some of the priorities Warner and Kaine advocated:
- Assistance for out of work Virginians: Extends federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, preventing hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Virginians from losing benefits over the holidays. The senators were cosponsors of the legislation that provided the model for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), through which more than 9 million Americans are currently receiving benefits. More recently, the Senators called on leadership to extend and add additional weeks of federal employment benefits to both PUA and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs. Additionally, it gives states the option to offer additional weekly financial relief for Americans with a mix of traditional (W-2) and independent employment income who are not able to claim their full benefit, modeled after Senator Warner’s legislation.
- Stimulus checks: Includes a stimulus payment for low- and middle-income Americans; with $600 for individual filers and $1,200 for joint filers, with an additional $600 for each qualifying child in the household. Early in the crisis, Senator Kaine called for stimulus efforts to include direct payments to households.
- Vaccines: Includes over $19 billion for vaccines and therapeutics and an additional $8.75 billion to support vaccine distribution, particularly for states and localities, to slow the spread of the pandemic and take a step towards a future where COVID-19 is managed.
- Emergency housing aid and protections: Creates a new $25 billion emergency rental assistance fund to prevent evictions during the pandemic, which will be delivered through state and local governments. Earlier this year, the Senators joined their colleagues in introducing legislation to provide emergency housing assistance for those facing potential evictions. The bill will also extend the CDC eviction moratorium to allow time for implementing the emergency housing aid.
- Relief for hard-hit small businesses and nonprofits: Provides targeted relief for small businesses struggling with the effects of the pandemic. This includes a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans for small businesses and nonprofits that experienced a substantial revenue decline in 2020, as well as other funds for small business relief. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is directed to provide guidance to ensure priority access for underserved communities, such as minority-owned businesses. The bill also includes grants for small businesses and nonprofits in sectors likely to continue to see substantial drops in revenue in 2021, particularly in the live entertainment sector. This aid will ensure that Virginia’s small businesses are able to stay afloat during the pandemic, keep workers on payroll, and return to job creation as COVID-19 is controlled. The Senators have been strong supporters of providing relief to small businesses, cosponsoring the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act, which included many of the provisions in the final bill, and the Save our Stages Act, on which the live entertainment grants are modeled.
- Targeted relief for underserved communities: Provides the largest single investment in our country's history for minority-owned and community-based lending institutions. Largely drawn from Senator Warner’s Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act, the provision provides $12 billion to community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs) to build capital and unlock affordable access to credit for underserved and minority neighborhoods, which have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19.
- Education Stabilization Fund: Provides $82 billion to provide emergency support to K-12 schools and higher education institutions. The legislation includes provisions of Kaine’s Coronavirus Relief Flexibility for Students and Institutions Act that allow colleges to use emergency stabilization funds to cover lost revenue and better target funds designated for colleges hardest hit by COVID-19 by requiring an application to demonstrate need.
- Broadband: Includes $7 billion towards broadband, including $3.2 billion for an Emergency Broadband Benefit to help low-income families maintain their internet connections, $285 million to support broadband access in minority communities, and $300 million in broadband grants modeled on provisions Senator Warner drafted with bipartisan Senators. Additionally, the bill includes an extension of the deadline to use Coronavirus Relief Funds so that state and localities interested in using the money for broadband expansion have more time, as Senator Warner called for.
- Support for child care providers and families: Includes $10 billion in flexible funding for the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to help support child care providers and ensure that working parents have access to child care during the pandemic. The bill also includes $250 million for Head Start programs.
- Public health data modernization: Includes Senator Kaine’s Saving Lives Through Better Data Act, which will improve the nation’s public health data systems at CDC and through grants to state and local health departments to expand and modernize their systems, promoting more seamless communication, which can save lives when we’re faced with public health threats such as COVID-19. The omnibus authorizes $100 million for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2025.
- Telehealth: Includes Senator Kaine and Senator Schatz’s Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act of 2019, which creates a grant program to evaluate, develop, and expand the use of distance health education models such as ECHO to increase access to specialty care in rural and medically underserved populations. The omnibus authorizes $10 million for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026. The funding bill also permanently expands coverage of and payment for telehealth to treat mental health care, which is in line with Senator Warner’s CONNECT for Health Act, which Senator Kaine is a cosponsor.
- Ends surprise billing: Includes a provision to end surprise billing, something Senators Warner and Kaine have long advocated for.
- U.S. Postal Service: Converts the CARES Act $10 billion loan into direct funding for USPS without requiring repayment. These funds will be used for operational costs and other expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Warner is a cosponsor of the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act, which would provide USPS with significant direct funding.
- Veterans: Provides $104.4 billion in funding for the VA, an increase of $12.5 billion over FY20 levels. This funding increase provides $2.7 billion more than the previous fiscal year for health care delivered at VA facilities nationwide. The bill provides robust funding in several areas important for Virginia veterans, including $815 million for critical VA Medical and Prosthetic research, an increase of $1.18 billion over FY20 levels for electronic health record modernization, nearly $2 billon in support of programs to prevent veteran homelessness and $312.6 million for suicide prevention.
- Infrastructure: Includes funding for key projects that were championed by Warner and Kaine to benefit Virginia’s infrastructure:
- Includes a provision pushed for by Senators Warner and Kaine to allow for the construction of a new Long Bridge on the Potomac River, which will double the capacity of the rail crossing between Virginia and D.C. The current two-track Long Bridge is the only rail bridge connecting Virginia to Washington, D.C., and it is at 98 percent capacity during peak hours, which means it is one of the most significant rail chokepoints along the East Coast. The new Long Bridge program will double the capacity of the Potomac River rail crossing by adding a second two-track bridge adjacent to the existing bridge and including a new bike-pedestrian shared use path spanning the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Potomac River. Senators Warner and Kaine introduced the Long Bridge Act of 2020 in August to allow for this construction.
- Includes the full federal funding of $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to fund critical capital investment and safety projects. In addition, the bill provides $14 billion in emergency relief for public transit agencies to continue operations during the pandemic, ensuring access to transportation for frontline workers and civil servants.
- Includes a one year extension of Community Development Block Grant funds to the City of Norfolk and other localities to build climate resilient infrastructure projects. Senators Kaine and Warner joined Senator John Hoeven in introducing S.4017 in June, which would also have provided an extension for the NDRC program.
- Includes $87.5 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program—an increase of $2.5 million from FY 2020. The Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts, and the majority of its funds are passed through to the states and local communities for on-the-ground restoration.
- Authorizes federal funds to cover 65% of the costs associated with construction projects to address close to $1.5 billion of flood control needs in the City of Norfolk.
- Grants a critical cost adjustment to allow work to continue on the Deep Creek Bridge inChesapeake to address traffic concerns.
- Authorizes over $102.7 million in federal funds for construction of the North Landing BridgeReplacement project.
- Provides up to $9 million for the Federal Aviation Administration to continue its remote tower system pilot program at smaller airports, including the Remote Air Traffic Control Tower at Leesburg Executive Airport.
- Great American Outdoors Act: With Senator Warner’s Great American Outdoors Act now law, the FY21 omnibus affirms funding for several deferred maintenance projects in Virginia:
- George Washington Memorial Parkway – A $207 million project to restore 7.6 miles of northern section of the GW Parkway and implement critical safety measures. The Senators have long advocated for federal funding for this project for several years as seen here and here.
- Shenandoah National Park – A $27 million project to pave and restore nearly 50 miles of Skyline Drive and various overlooks. Shenandoah will also receive nearly $3.5 million to remove unnecessary buildings and restore greenspace within the park.
- Colonial National Historical Park – A $16.5 million project to restore nearly 5 miles of shoreline along the York River.
- FBI Headquarters: Provides no funding for a new FBI headquarters and includes language that encourages General Services Administration (GSA) to provide a new prospectus, particularly after the Trump Administration abruptly abandoned plans to develop a new campus headquarters for the FBI. Earlier this year, Senators Warner and Kaine opposed an attempt in an earlier Republican COVID-19 relief package that would have provided $1.75 billion for construction of a new FBI HQ in its current downtown D.C. location.
- Miners’ Benefits: Extends the funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund until the end of 2021 by extending the tax on mining companies that helps fund the program. Both Kaine and Warner introduced the Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Solvency Act calling on Congress to extend the excise tax through the end of 2030.
- Shipbuilding & MILCON funding: Provides $23.27 billion for shipbuilding for 10 battle force ships including full funding for a second Virginia-class submarine, which Senators Warner and Kaine personally advocated for. The bill also appropriates $237 million for 6 MILCON projects in Virginia, including:
- Humphreys Engineer Center, Training Support Facility (Army) - $51m
- Norfolk, E-2D Training Facility (Navy) - $30.4m
- Norfolk, Corrosion Control and Paint Facility (Navy) - $17.671m
- Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Access Control Point Main Gate with Land Acquisition (Air Force) - $19.5m
- Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Story, Operations Facility and Command Center (Def-Wide) - $54.5m
- JEB Little Creek-Story, NSWG Facilities (Def-Wide) - $58m
- Federal contractors: Senators Warner and Kaine also pushed to extend a provision from CARES (3610), which allows contractual adjustments for a paid leave program, allowing contractors to keep employees on the payroll if federal facilities close due to the pandemic – an important provision for our defense industrial base and cleared national security workforce.
- Foster care and homeless youth: Includes key provisions of Senator Kaine’s bill with Senator Murray and Senator Portman, the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act, to remove barriers to financial aid for students experiencing homelessness or students formerly in foster care by easing the application and determination for becoming eligible for aid. The bill also includes language allowing foster youth to remain in the system until October 1, 2021, regardless of their age—a move that Senators Warner and Kaine called for in a recent letter to the administration.
- Funds Childhood Disease Research: Provides $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program to conduct pediatric cancer and disease research. The Senators worked to enact the legislation authorizing this program, named for 10-year-old Gabriella Miller of Loudoun County, who passed away from cancer in October of 2013.
- Supporting working students and families: Includes key provisions of Senator Kaine’s bill with Senator Baldwin, the Working Students Act, to reduce the “work penalty” that many students who work while attending school face. Currently, students who work while attending school often are eligible for less financial aid due to their work income. The appropriations bill enacts a 35% increase for working students and 20% increase for families to the income protection allowance (IPA), shielding more of their income from reducing their financial aid.
- Student Loan Repayment: Extends an important change to existing tax policy allowing employers to use pre-tax dollars to help pay down employees’ student debt until 2025 – a provision modeled after Senator Warner’s bipartisan Employer Participation in Repayment Act to help more than 44 million Americans with student loan debt.
- Ashanti Alert: Includes $1 million in federal funding to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. Following the abduction of 19-year old Ashanti Billie, who did not meet the criteria for an Amber or Silver Alert, Senator Warner secured unanimous passage of this national alert system through the Senate on December 6, 2018, and has been a leader in the fight to implement the Ashanti Alert nationwide ever since.
- Nutrition: Provides $13 billion in nutrition assistance, including a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through June 30, 2021 for all SNAP participants. Excludes unemployment compensation from being counted as income for the purposes of calculating SNAP benefits and eligibility. Provides $400 million for food banks through The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
- Farmers: Provides $13 billion for direct payments, purchases, and loans to producers who have suffered losses due to the pandemic, including funds to support the food supply chain through food purchases, donations to food banks, and support for local food systems. Additionally, it includes $5 billion for supplemental payments to row crop producers; $3 billion for supplemental payments to cattle producers and contract growers of livestock and poultry, dairy farmers, and producers who were forced to euthanize livestock or poultry; $225 million for producers of specialty crops; and $1.5 billion to purchase food for distribution to those in need.
- Timber Harvesting/Hauling: Provides up to $200 million to support timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses impacted by COVID-19.
- Dairy: Provides up to $400 million for a Dairy Product Donation Program, modeled after the 2018 Farm Bill pilot program to facilitate the donation of dairy products and minimize food waste.
- Textiles: Allows USDA to make payments to users of upland cotton and extra-long staple cotton.
- Fisheries: Provides $300 million in assistance to help fisheries mitigate COVID-19 related impacts.
- Water Utility Bill Assistance: Provides $638 million for a new program to help low-income families cover the costs of drinking water and wastewater utility bills by making funds available to states and Tribes. These localities will provide dollars to owners or operators of public water systems or treatment works to reduce arrearages and rates for low-income households.
- Appalachian Regional Commission: Includes a record $180 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission, an increase of $5 million from FY20.
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Sen.s Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5) and Tom Reed (R-NY-23) called on Congress to deliver immediate COVID-19 relief to the American people. Earlier this week, the Senators and the Problem Solvers Caucus shared two bills, one of which, the bipartisan COVID-19 Emergency Relief Act of 2020, is serving as the framework for the final COVID-19 relief package.
“Today we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 310,000 Americans, and hours away from a government shutdown that threatens to delay urgent aid to people in need throughout the nation. We must set our differences aside. The American people elected us to govern on their behalf, and at a time when they need us more than ever we must end the partisan games and meet this moment together for the good of the country. On Monday, our bipartisan, bicameral group presented a bill that helps provide for the emergency needs of the millions of families struggling to make ends meet. Once again, we encourage the leaders to finish what we started and deliver immediate assistance to the workers, families and businesses that need it most.”