Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $9,595,563 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to help fund projects at two airports in the Commonwealth. The funding does not require the standard 10 percent local match, thanks to the American Rescue Plan supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine.

“Investment in our Commonwealth’s infrastructure makes life easier for every Virginian. We are excited to see this funding go towards making improvements to our airports as travel restrictions begin to ease following the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Senators.

The funding will be distributed as follows:

These funds come after Sens. Warner and Kaine helped to secure an additional $15 billion for Airport Improvement Grants in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed the U.S. Senate on August 10th and awaits consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) sent a letter to the Virginia District Manager of the United States Postal Service (USPS) urging him to address the widespread delivery delays across Virginia in recent months. In their letter, the Senators called on Virginia District Manager Gerald Roane to create additional contingency plans to address existing staff shortages and capacity challenges and ensure that Virginians do not miss mail deliveries for days or weeks at a time.

We write to share great concern regarding the continued widespread delivery delays across Virginia in the recent months. We have heard from hundreds of constituents, specifically in the Central Virginia region, who have shared stories about severe delivery delays adversely impacting their lives. Additionally, we continue to seek answers about staffing shortages and other circumstances that have led to such delays and actions that are being taken to prevent future issues,” the Senators wrote to Virginia District Manager Gerald Roane.

In their letter, Sens. Warner and Kaine cite the concerns of one Charlottesville resident, who shared that she has not had a mail carrier assigned to her delivery route since January, leaving her “virtually no first class mail delivery” for more than eight monthsThe same constituent shared that she is missing bills and tax documents, among other things, due to this lack of postal service.

This troubling decline in on-time mail is causing constraints to many Virginians who are now receiving unexpected late fees due to delayed payments, missed paychecks, late prescriptions on critical medications, and much more,” they continued. “Deborah’s story is among countless others that we have received. Additionally, despite numerous requests, USPS officials have not provided relevant and updated data and mail delivery times. However, the outpour of constituent outreach demonstrates the substantial decline in on-time delivery in recent months and the devastating impact that it has had on millions of Americans. We urge you to review and implement processes to fill vacant postal positions and expedite the delivery of mail.”

In February, the Senators pressed U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on continued widespread mail service delays throughout the Commonwealth. 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been vocal about reversing any changes to USPS that have affected the reliability of mail delivery. In August 2020, they joined their colleagues in a letter asking  Postmaster General DeJoy not to take any further action that makes it harder and more expensive for states and election jurisdictions to mail ballots ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Additionally, last summer, the Senators raised concerns regarding the operational and structural changes implemented by Postmaster General DeJoy and the impact they would have on timely mail delivery. In response to these concerns, U.S. Postmaster DeJoy temporarily halted some, though not all, of the operational changes planned until after the November 2020 election. 

Full text of the letter is here and below.

Mr. Gerald Roane

Virginia District Manager

United States Postal Service

1801 Brook Road

Richmond, VA 23232

 

Dear Mr. Roane:

We write to share great concern regarding the continued widespread delivery delays across Virginia in the recent months. We have heard from hundreds of constituents, specifically in the Central Virginia region, who have shared stories about severe delivery delays adversely impacting their lives. Additionally, we continue to seek answers about staffing shortages and other circumstances that have led to such delays and actions that are being taken to prevent future issues. 

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has played a critical role in keeping Virginians connected and safe. Whether it is the delivery of groceries, household necessities, or medications, countless Virginians continue to depend on USPS as a critical link to vital resources. For this reason, we are deeply troubled to see that timely mail delivery has precipitously continued to decline in Virginia.

While we seek a general explanation of the factors contributing to substandard delivery rates, we specifically seek explanations with respect to two primary issues raised by our constituents:

1.      USPS government liaisons have cited temporary staff shortages and capacity challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic as contributing factors to recent delays. Constituents have shared stories about USPS’s inability to replace postal carriers who are temporarily out due to illness, injury, or on leave.[1] Insufficient staffing has had profound impacts on our constituents.

2.      Many of our constituents in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and surrounding jurisdictions are reporting that they are not receiving any mail for days or weeks at a time.[2]

We understand that many of these challenges could be due to staffing shortages, but implore you to create additional contingency plans to ensure that delivery routes do not miss mail deliveries for days at a time because a letter carrier is out.

This troubling decline in on-time mail is causing constraints to many Virginians who are now receiving unexpected late fees due to delayed payments, missed paychecks, late prescriptions on critical medications, and much more.[3] Specifically, I would like to direct your attention to one of our constituents, Deborah from Charlottesville, who recounts her firsthand frustration with recent USPS service.

Deborah shares that, “In addition to the nationwide problems with mail and the post office, those of us living in … Charlottesville, Virginia, have a special, additional difficulty hinging on the failure … to assign a mail carrier to our route. The person assigned our route went on maternity leave, as I understand it, in October, 2020, and as this is a new year, her additional 12 weeks maternity leave means she will stay off until approximately April 2021. During 2020, we had a wonderful substitute … But, starting in January, it seems we have had no person assigned this route. Hence, starting in January, we have had virtually no first class mail delivery … I personally have received none of my “informed delivery”, [and] have received in the last few weeks a total of approximately 5 pieces of first class mail, though I would normally get at least 3-5 times that much. Two of the 5 pieces were received on Friday January 29, but had been mailed Dec 28, and Jan 4. There are important items I need which cannot be emailed, and which have been remailed due to the apparent loss, and neither mailing has been received. I am also missing bills, tax documents and who know[s] what else. The rest of the community is in the same boat. Most urgently, I was contacted last night by an elderly neighbor who is desperate because she and her husband are not getting their pension checks. She visits the local P.O. regularly, she told me, pleading for her mail, but she says no one seems to care…” 

Deborah’s story is among countless others that we have received. Additionally, despite numerous requests, USPS officials have not provided relevant and updated data and mail delivery times. However, the outpour of constituent outreach demonstrates the substantial decline in on-time delivery in recent months and the devastating impact that it has had on millions of Americans. We urge you to review and implement processes to fill vacant postal positions and expedite the delivery of mail. 

Americans depend on the Postal Service for high-quality, reliable service, especially during the extraordinarily difficult times that they have experienced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

To that end, we ask that you answer the following questions by September 3, 2021: 

1.      To what does USPS attribute the rapid decline in on-time delivery rates of mail in the Charlottesville region? 

2.      Since December 2020, has USPS pursued any changes to remedy these drastic delays in mail and significant personnel shortages needed to meet the demand in mail? Please describe, in detail, if there were any efforts to surge resources and staffing in Charlottesville.

3.      Please describe, in detail, the steps you have taken to respond to customers who have been harmed by these mail delays. Has USPS pursued initiatives to locate packages and mail that are significantly delayed (more than two weeks beyond expected delivery) and to expedite their processing and delivery? 

4.      Please provide monthly staffing numbers for postal carriers and mail handlers in all of the USPS offices in Charlottesville, Virginia since December 2020. How many postal carrier positions are currently vacant? How many positions need to be filled to meet capacity needs and ensure that the mail delivery division is properly staffed?

5.      Please share any data that you have on the delivery rates of mail-order medications in Charlottesville and the Virginia district. What action has USPS taken and does it plan to take to prioritize mail-order medications in light of mounting mail delays? 

6.      Please share any data on mail delivery performance in Charlottesville and the Virginia district.  

Thank you for your attention. We look forward to working with the United States Postal Service during the 117th Congress to ensure that it remains a working institution for all Americans.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $14,123,917 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide broadband service to people in central Virginia through the ReConnect Program. The funding will be awarded to Central Virginia Services Inc. in Arrington, VA to install a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network that will connect 13,886 people, 4,139 households, 193 businesses, and 65 farms spread over 65 square miles in the surrounding area to high-speed broadband internet. The funding will also benefit 37 educational facilities, three health care facilities, and 14 essential community facilities.

“Broadband isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity, but many Virginians still don’t have reliable access to internet,” said the Senators. “That’s why we’re glad to see these federal dollars go toward connecting people across Virginia, which will improve access to job opportunities and educational resources and help small businesses grow.”

Senators Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of expanding broadband access in Virginia. Earlier this week, they voted to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a comprehensive infrastructure package that delivers wins to communities across the Commonwealth, including at least $100 million to expand broadband across the Commonwealth. Under the bill, 1,908,000 or 23% of people in Virginia will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access and lower their bills. The legislation also provides over $44 billion in funding for broadband expansion across the nation, including an additional $2 billion to the ReConnect program and $42.45 billion in state grants. The legislation now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. Last year, Warner and Kaine introduced legislation to help ensure adequate home internet connectivity for K-12 students during the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2018, both Warner and Kaine worked to secure funding to establish the ReConnect Program and other federal programs that are critical to improving broadband access across the Commonwealth. 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,168,854 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide infrastructure improvements to six of the Commonwealth’s airports.

“We are glad to see these federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan being put to good use,” said the Senators. “This funding will enable the Commonwealth’s airports to continue supporting travelers and encourage economic opportunities for the surrounding regions.”

This funding was awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which Senators Warner and Kaine voted to pass in March. The legislation included significant funding to help Virginia’s airports continue delivering crucial supplies to the Commonwealth.

A breakdown of the funding is below:

  • Franklin Regional Airport will receive a grant of $200,000 to repair 4,000 feet of various taxiway surfaces,28,000 square yards of the existing apron surface, and 2,900 feet of the existing North Taxiway surface to extend the pavement's useful life.
  • Leesburg Executive Airport will receive a grant of $166,666 to restore 46,000 square yards of the existing south terminal apron.
  • Dinwiddie County Airport and Industrial Authority in Petersburg will receive a grant of $300,000 to update the airport’s master plan and airport layout plan to help better address issues and goals for future development.
  • Hanover County Municipal Airport in Ashland will receive a grant of $388,888 to restore 5,402 feet of an existing runway.
  • Lee County Airport in Jonesville will receive a grant of $613,300 to restore 5,003 feet of runway and 6,440 feet of the existing parallel and connector taxiways.
  • New River Valley Airport in Dublin will receive a grant of $500,000 to update the airport’s master plan and airport layout plan to help better address issues and goals for future development.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded $21,649,505 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury to support and advance business ownership among minority entrepreneurs in Virginia. The funding was awarded through the CDFI Rapid Response Program (RRP) – a program established and funded by a record $12 billion investment in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) that Sen. Warner authored and successfully fought to include in the December COVID-19 relief legislation. 

“As a former entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I know that the kind of opportunities that once allowed me to succeed are often out of reach for Black and brown folks, who due to historic and systemic inequities often lack the credit history or banking relationships needed to access capital. To make matters worse, these inequalities have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had disproportionate effects on minority and low-income communities,” said Sen. Warner. “This funding will provide critical resources to Virginia’s CDFIs, which specialize in supporting underserved communities. I’m thrilled to know that these dollars are now headed directly to Virginia to support key priorities including small businesses, affordable housing, and access to consumer financial services. This funding marks a successful first step towards ensuring the recovery is felt by all communities.”

As negotiated by Sen. Warner, the $12 billion investment in CDFIs and MDIs includes $3 billion in grants to be delivered through the CDFI Fund. The nearly $22 million awarded today is part of the first $1.25 billion tranche of that $3 billion in grant funding. These federal dollars will be distributed among 18 Virginia CDFIs – the financial institutions most connected to the Commonwealth’s minority communities – and will ultimately go towards supporting affordable access to credit for Virginians in Black, Latino and low-income communities. 

The funding will be distributed as follows:

Appalachian Community Capital Corporation

Christiansburg

 $1,826,265

ARN CAPITAL, LLC

Fredericksburg

 $200,000

Business Seed Capital, Inc.

Roanoke

 $200,000

Capital Impact Partners

Arlington

 $1,826,265

Community Business Partnership

Springfield

 $997,000

Community Investment Collaborative

Charlottesville

 $360,000

Democracy FCU

Alexandria

 $1,826,265

DuPont Community Credit Union

Waynesboro

 $1,826,265

ECDC Enterprise Development Group

Arlington

 $1,278,385

Freedom First Federal Credit Union

Roanoke

 $1,826,265

People Incorporated Financial Services

Abingdon

 $1,400,000

Peoples Advantage Federal Credit Union

Petersburg

 $1,826,265

Piedmont Housing Alliance

Charlottesville

 $279,000

RVA Financial Federal Credit Union

Richmond

 $1,826,265

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc.

Roanoke

 $375,000

Virginia Community Capital, Inc.

Richmond

 $1,826,265

Virginia Community Development Fund, Inc.,

Richmond

 $1,750,000

The Virginia Foodshed Capital

Charlottesville

 $200,000

 

Total:

 

 

$21,649,505

The COVID-19 crisis has only served to exacerbate the existing economic challenges faced by Black and brown Americans. Throughout this crisis, thousands of minority-owned small businesses have closed for good, in part due to difficulty securing bank loans and accessing assistance such as the Paycheck Protection Program. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that while overall small business ownership in the U.S. dropped 22 percent between February and April 2020, Black and Latino ownership dropped by 41 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Unemployment rates for Black and brown Americans have also been consistently higher than that of White Americans.

To combat the hemorrhaging of jobs and economic opportunities during the pandemic, Sen. Warner in July teamed up with then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act in order to strengthen the financial institutions that serve communities of color and increase lending to minority-owned businesses and lower-income borrowers. The effort secured endorsements from the Black Economic Alliance, the NAACP, the National Bankers Association, the National Urban League, the Center for Responsible Lending and a host of other advocacy organizations and civil rights groups. Sen. Warner was later able to secure provisions from the bill in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020, providing an unprecedented $12 billion in funding for lenders that predominantly operate in underserved communities.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner and Senator Tim Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, announced $2,699,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA)’s YouthBuild grant program to provide job training and education for at-risk youth. 

“These dollars will provide additional resources for at-risk young Virginians and help put them on a path toward successful careers,” the Senators said. “These federal investments in community-based job programs will be crucial to our country’s economic recovery.”

Warner and Kaine have been leaders in the Senate on efforts to support skills training programs to prepare students and workers for good-paying, in-demand jobs. In March, Kaine reintroduced the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, cosponsored by Warner, to help improve access to job training programs by expanding Pell Grant eligibility. In May, Kaine also reintroduced the Assisting Community Colleges in Educating Skilled Students (ACCESS) to Careers Act to boost student success and career readiness. 

YouthBuild is a pre-apprenticeship program that provides education and work training opportunities for vulnerable youth ages 16-24 who dropped out of high school. As part of the program, these young Americans will split time between job training and the classroom, where they earn high school diplomas or equivalency degrees and prepare for postsecondary training opportunities. This national program serves more than 6,000 youth annually in more than 40 states. 

The funding will be distributed as follows: 

Recipient

City

Amount

New River-Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Area Consortium

Radford

$1,500,000

Goodwill Industries of the Valleys

Roanoke

$1,199,000

Total:

$2,699,000

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,040,321 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the A.L. Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership, also known as GENEDGE, in Martinsville. GENEDGE is a part of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network, based at NIST. The partnership aims to help small and medium-sized manufacturers lower costs, boost efficiency, develop the industry’s workforce, create new products, and expand to new markets.

“We’re excited to see this investment in Virginia’s manufacturing industry,” said the Senators. “We’ll continue working to support the growth of good jobs and expansion of businesses in the Commonwealth as we continue to recover from the economic hardships of the last year.”

MEP is a public-private partnership with resource locations called “Centers” in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Last year, MEP Centers interacted with 27,574 manufacturers, leading to $13.0 billion in sales, and helped create or retain 105,748 jobs.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $10,575,962 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to help fund projects at 7 airports across the Commonwealth. The funding was awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which supports infrastructure improvement projects at airports across the nation. A portion of the funding also comes from the American Rescue Plan supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine.

“With the COVID-19 crisis almost in the rearview mirror and families beginning to plan their summer getaways, we’re pleased to see these funds go towards safety improvements at airports across the Commonwealth,” said the Senators.

The American Rescue Plan provided additional funds to help airports weather the effects of COVID-19. To further assist with much-needed infrastructure updates at airports, Sen. Warner introduced bicameral, bipartisan legislation, which would set up a funding stream to help strengthen Virginia’s infrastructure and create jobs.  

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in announcing that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.1 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the County of Alleghany, Covington, Virginia, for trail improvements along the Jackson River and to bolster the local tourism economy. This EDA grant, to be matched with $600,000 in state funding, is expected to create more than 30 jobs.

“Virginia’s abundance of outdoor recreation activities such as hiking and fishing are at the heart of the Commonwealth’s tourism industry,” said Senator Mark Warner. “With the weather getting warmer and more families taking trips to visit the Commonwealth’s scenic views, I’m pleased to announce these funds to make necessary improvements that will help create jobs and attract more tourism dollars to our communities.” 

“President Biden is committed to getting our tourism sector back up to speed and Americans back to work,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This EDA investment in the County of Alleghany will aid in the reopening of the local tourism economy and will retain critical tourism, hospitality, and manufacturing jobs in the state.”

“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This EDA investment will allow for completion of the Jackson River Scenic Trail and the addition of outdoor amenities, which will bolster tourism in Virginia, providing new jobs and economic opportunities.”

“Virginia is home to some of the nation's most beautiful parks, trails, and rivers,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “I’m grateful for this investment in Alleghany County, which will support tourism in the region and boost our quickly-recovering economy.” 

“I am pleased to see this CARES Act funding go toward improvements along the Jackson River,” said Senator Tim Kaine. “This vital investment will help tourism rebound and spur economic activity in Alleghany County.”

This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, provides a wide range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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WASHINGTON – Amid the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, a bill written and passed into law by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner is set to create more than 18,851 jobs nationwide in 2021, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Great American Outdoors Act, which was championed by Sen. Warner and signed into law by President Trump last year, provides for up to $1.6 billion a year for five years to help address a multi-billion-dollar deferred maintenance backlog at national parks and other public lands.

Warner announced today that among the projects that will receive funding this year are overdue upgrades at three National Park Service (NPS) sites in Virginia: the GW Memorial Parkway ($207.8 million in overdue upgrades); Colonial National Historical Park ($10 million in upgrades); and Skyline Drive ($26.2 million in upgrades), as well as additional repairs at Shenandoah National Park (to the tune of $3.5 million).

“Amid the COVID-19 crisis, this law will create thousands of jobs,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m proud that Virginia’s national park sites will finally be receiving crucial repairs that have been postponed for years. Future generations will reap the benefits of this once-in-a-lifetime investment in our national treasures.”

The Great American Outdoors Act is a product of Sen. Warner’s effort of more than three years to provide relief to national parks in Virginia, where the overall maintenance backlog currently sits at $1.1 billion dollars. A previously released estimate found that the law is expected to create or support more than 10,000 jobs in Virginia over the life of the bill.  

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded the Biden administration for increasing the amount of federal dollars that Virginia will receive for five emergency projects across the Commonwealth. By adjusting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s federal cost share from 75 percent to 100 percent, the Biden administration will help deliver an additional $22,915,050 in federal funding to cover the cost of communicating COVID-19 warnings and guidance to Virginians and procuring and utilizing medical supplies and equipment to combat the virus.

“COVID-19 created an immediate threat to the health and safety of our country requiring emergency response and protective measures. We thank the Biden administration for recently adjusting the federal cost share to help the Commonwealth manage, control, and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said the Senators. “As Virginians continue to wear a mask, social distance, and get tested and vaccinated, we remain committed to ensuring that the Commonwealth has the necessary tools and procedures to continue to tackle this health crisis.”

The following projects will receive funding as listed below:

Recipient

Location

FEMA Share Previously 

 

Cost Share Adjustment

Fairfax County

Fairfax

$5,147,564.33

$1,715,854.77

City of Alexandria

Alexandria

$3,675,732.45

$1,225,244.15

Virginia Department of Emergency Management

Richmond

$50,773,516.83

$16,924,505.61

Centra Health

Lynchburg

$4,285,914.02

$1,428,638.00

Virginia Department of Emergency Management

Richmond

$4,862,422.42

$1,620,807.47

Total: 

 

$68,745,150.05

$22,915,050

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), joined by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), introduced the Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) Act. The legislation aims to expand access to affordable and nutritious food in areas designated as “food deserts” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).                                                                                       

“Today, too many Americans lack access to fresh nutritious and healthy foods. Unfortunately, that reality has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, which has made it even more difficult for working families to seek out and afford healthy foods,” said Sen. Warner. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that will serve as an important tool to combat food insecurity in our communities.”

“Over the past year, we have seen unprecedented need at food banks as Kansans line-up seeking access to nutritional food,” said Sen. Moran. “Even while living in the breadbasket of our nation, food insecurity affects far too many Kansans, a need that has only increased during COVID-19. This bipartisan legislation, which would incentivize food providers to establish and renovate grocery stores, food banks and farmers markets in communities that traditionally lack affordable, healthy and convenient food options, is now more important than ever during this pandemic.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made routine tasks like going to the grocery store difficult for millions of Americans—especially for families who live in a food dessert and have to travel an extended distance to access healthy foods.” said Senator Casey. “No one in America should be burdened by a simple trip to the grocery store. The bipartisan Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act would provide critical support to expand access to healthy food in underserved communities,” said Sen. Casey.

“Many Americans living in rural communities—including those in West Virginia—have difficulty accessing fresh and nutritious foods. I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation, which will go a long way in helping to improve access to groceries and healthy foods across West Virginia and make it easier for businesses and non-profit organizations to serve our rural communities,” said Sen. Capito.

According to recent data from USDA, nearly 40 million Americans live in food deserts, areas defined to be without grocery stores within one or more miles in urban regions, and ten or more miles in rural regions. In Virginia alone, there are more than one million individuals living in food deserts. Studies have shown that Americans who live in communities with low-access to healthy food options are at higher risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Additionally, according to USDA’s own study, people of color are more likely to reside in a food desert.

In an effort to eliminate food deserts in the U.S., the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act would provide incentives to food providers to expand access to healthy foods in these underserved communities and reduce the number of food deserts nationwide.

Specifically, the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act, which defines a grocery market as a retail sales store with at least 35 percent of its selection (or forecasted selection) dedicated to selling fresh produce, poultry, dairy, and deli items – would spark investment in food deserts across the country that have a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher, or a median family income of less than 80 percent of the median for the state or metro area. It would grant tax credits or grants to food providers who service low-access communities and attain a “Special Access Food Provider” (SAFP) certification through the Treasury Department. Incentives would be awarded based on the following structure:

  • New Store Construction – Companies that construct new grocery stores in a food desert will receive a onetime 15 percent tax credit after receiving certification.
  • Retrofitting Existing Structures – Companies that make retrofits to an existing store’s healthy food sections can receive a onetime 10 percent tax credit after the repairs certify the store as an SAFP.
  • Food Banks – Certified food banks that build new (permanent) structures in food deserts will be eligible to receive a onetime grant for 15 percent of their construction costs.
  • Temporary Access Merchants – Certified temporary access merchants (i.e. mobile markets, farmers markets, and some food banks) that are 501(c)(3)s will receive grants for 10 percent of their annual operating costs.

The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act boasts the support of numerous organizations, including Feeding America, the National Grocers Association, Share Our Strength, and Bread for the World.

“Feeding America commends Senator Warner for confronting the unfortunate fact that the burdens faced by the 40 million Americans living with hunger are even worse for those who live in food deserts. Our network of 200 member food banks understands that areas without affordable, healthy food options have higher rates of food insecurity exacerbated by the lack access to adequate transportation to the nearest food pantry or grocery market. Feeding America supports the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act and believes it is a critical step to give nonprofits and retailers support to increase food access in underserved areas,” said Kate Leone, Chief Government Relations Officer at Feeding America. 

“The National Grocers Association embraces Senator Warner’s efforts to remove the obstacles faced by grocers looking to expand access to nutritious food for rural and urban communities without a supermarket,” said Molly Pfaffenroth, Senior Director of Government Relations at National Grocers Association. “Independent community grocers are the heartbeat of the areas they serve and historically are leaders in reaching out to those most in need of better food options. Communities are stronger both physically and economically when they have better access to healthy food, so we look forward to working with Congress on this important bipartisan legislation.”

“To end childhood hunger in America, we must ensure that low-income families, have equitable access to healthy, affordable food options no matter their zip code or circumstances. Ending food deserts will help more families put food on the table and help children get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong. Share Our Strength supports The Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act and thanks Sens. Warner, Moran, Casey, and Capito for their leadership on this issue,” said Billy Shore, Founder and Executive Chair of Share Our Strength. 

“Bread for the World is once again excited to see a bipartisan effort to address food deserts and improve access to nutritious food in low-income areas across America.  With 1 in 6 Americans and 1 in 4 children experiencing food insecurity during this pandemic, this legislation is desperately needed. Bread for the World thanks Senators Warner, Moran, Casey and Capito for introducing this bill to reduce hunger in communities and improve health across the country,” said Heather Valentine, Director of Government Relations of Bread for the World. 

Companion legislation will soon be introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and A. Donald McEachin (D-VA).

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate of expanded access to food assistance for families in the Commonwealth amid the COVID-19 crisis. He has put pressure on the USDA to formally authorize Virginia’s request to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Online Purchasing Pilot Program, successfully pushed USDA to waive a requirement that made it more difficult for families to receive USDA-reimbursable meals, and secured a USDA designation that allows food banks to distribute food directly to Virginia families in need while limiting interactions between food bank staff, volunteers, and recipients. In August, Sen. Warner also successfully pushed for USDA to extend critical food waivers to help make sure students have access to nutritious meals while school districts participate in distance learning. The COVID-19 relief package signed into law in December provides $13 billion in nutrition assistance, including a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits. Last month, Sen. Warner introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that allows federal government to pay all costs to states to partner with restaurants and provide food to vulnerable populations.

Bill text for the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act can be found here. A summary of the bill can be found here.

 

Population of Virginians by city or county living in food deserts as defined in this bill*

Accomack: 4401

Albemarle: 3765

Amherst: 10217

Augusta: 11919

Bath: 4731

Bland: 3901

Botetourt: 7792

Brunswick: 8041

Buckingham: 8400

Campbell: 8756

Caroline: 3278

Carroll: 4767

Charlotte: 12586

Chesterfield: 38638

Culpeper: 18511

Cumberland: 10052

Dinwiddie: 12196

Essex: 8026

Fairfax: 11213

Floyd: 9102

Franklin: 25439

Grayson: 5277

Halifax: 27851

Hanover: 4243

Henrico: 39618

Henry: 22130

Highland: 2321

James City: 4014

King and Queen: 3881

Loudoun: 3869

Mecklenburg: 17632

Montgomery: 32249

Nelson: 5696

Nottoway: 9783

Orange: 4934

Patrick: 11262

Pittsylvania: 23119

Prince Edward: 10624

Prince George: 8543

Prince William: 55128

Rappahannock: 7373

Rockbridge: 15873

Rockingham: 11530

Scott: 7959

Shenandoah: 9068

Smyth: 3913

Southampton: 7958

Spotsylvania: 21803

Stafford: 12818

Sussex: 6377

Tazewell: 12740

Warren: 14335

Wise: 9566

Wythe: 6773

Bristol: 13982

Buena Vista: 6650

Charlottesville: 6616

Chesapeake: 33605

Covington: 3098

Danville: 15545

Franklin City: 8582

Fredericksburg: 8988

Hampton: 38928

Harrisonburg: 9016

Hopewell: 12120

Lexington: 7042

Lynchburg: 29886

Manassas: 7678

Manassas Park: 6248

Martinsville: 6166

Newport News: 38292

Norfolk: 62583

Petersburg: 22639

Portsmouth: 11862

Radford: 12260

Richmond City: 62381

Roanoke City: 39950

Salem: 10424

Suffolk: 9752

Virginia Beach: 27205

Waynesboro: 5240

Williamsburg: 4138

Total: 1,186,877

*The most recent year for which data is available is 2017.

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $1,879,967 in federal funding to help Virginians in 19 localities reduce their dependency on federal assistance and rental subsidies. The funding, awarded through the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will help connect Virginia families to public and private resources that help them increase their earned income and transition to more stable housing.

“These funds will empower Virginia families by providing educational opportunities, job training, and counseling to help them make lasting progress towards economic independence,” said the Senators. “We applaud the Department of Housing and Urban Development for taking this approach to give Virginians the tools they need to increase their income and move up the economic ladder.”

The funding will be distributed as follows:

  • Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $78,659;
  • Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $49,627;
  • Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $167,400;
  • City of Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $151,470;
  • City of Virginia Beach Department of Housing: $56,347;
  • Loudoun County: $74,080;
  • Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $24,818;
  • Fairfax County Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $152,078;
  • Franklin Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $60,000;
  • Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $60,152;
  • Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $35,103;
  • Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $72,000;
  • James City County Office of Housing & Community Development: $28,500;
  • Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $112,031;
  • Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $360,000;
  • Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $226,656;
  • Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $72,000;
  • Suffolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $52,368;
  • Waynesboro Redevelopment & Housing Authority: $48,638.

The FSS program helps HUD-assisted families increase their earned income and reduce their dependency on federal assistance and rental subsidies. Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) work in collaboration with a Program Coordinating Committee (PCC) to secure commitments of public and private resources for the operation of the FSS program, to develop the PHA’s FSS Action Plan (the FSS policy framework), and to implement the program.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $13,670,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s FY 20 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant Program to install over 70 miles of rail and other infrastructure upgrades for the Buckingham Branch Railroad North Mountain Subdivision line between Charlottesville and Clifton ForgeVirginia.

“We’re pleased to announce these federal funds to make much-needed improvements on the rails and bridges that will improve efficiency and reliability for this rail system,” said the Senators. “These improvements will also help local industries transport their freight and bolster economic development opportunities in the region.”

The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant Program funds projects that improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail. Specifically, the federal funding will go towards upgrading 70 miles of rail, associated ballast, upgrades to 14 grade crossings and 5 bridges, constructing new drain systems in the Afton tunnel liner to reduce ice buildup, and improving clearances in two additional tunnels on Class III Buckingham Branch Railroad’s rail line.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia Fire Departments will receive $9,571,649.04 in federal funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. The AFG program supports local fire departments by providing funds for new equipment and training.

“Our firefighters put themselves in harm’s way every day. It’s critical that the federal government provides them with the tools necessary to carry out their duties safely and effectively,” the Senators said. “These grants will strengthen Virginia fire departments’ abilities to protect communities across the Commonwealth from fire and other hazards.”

The funding was awarded as follows: 

  • Warren County Fire and Rescue will receive $1,216,724.04;
  • Albemarle County Fire Rescue will receive $1,939,680.00;
  • Roanoke County Fire & Rescue will receive $2,916,945.00;
  • City of Charlottesville Fire Department will receive $3,498,300.00.

The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire-related hazards by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations and State Fire Training Academies for critically-needed resources to equip and train emergency personnel, recognize standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability, and support community resilience. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) had awarded $1,282,917 in federal funding to promote entrepreneurship, startup creation, innovation, and commercialization in Martinsville and Blacksburg. 

“This funding is another step in the right direction, helping to boost startups through investments in technology, health, and life sciences,” said the Senators. "By supporting these programs and giving them the tools they need to be successful, we can help spur entrepreneurialism and job creation across the Commonwealth.”

The funding was awarded as follows:

  • $300,474 for the Patrick Henry Community College’s IDEA: Innovate, Design, Engineer, Accelerate (IDEA) to Support Entrepreneurial Growth and accelerate company growth in its rural service region through building the resources and capabilities of the IDEA Center in Martinsville, VA.
  • $982,443 for Valleys Innovation Council's Growing our Innovation Ecosystem: Scaling the Success of the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program (RAMP) project to support scalable startups in technology and health and life sciences in Roanoke and Blacksburg, VA.

EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon the application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility, and the availability of funds. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $5,115,615 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault in Charlottesville, Norfolk, Marion, and Richmond.  

“Community-based intervention programs are an invaluable tool in the fight against violence against women,” said the Senators. "We are pleased to announce these critical funds to support communities across the Commonwealth in their effort to end domestic violence.”

The funding was awarded as follows:

·       $340,313 for the Sexual Assault Resource Agency’s Engaging Men Program in Charlottesville, VA.

·       $369,340 for the Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program to YWCA South Hampton Roads in Norfolk, VA.

·       $744,326 for the Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program to Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society in Marion, VA.

·       $3,661,636 for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program in Richmond, VA. 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have worked to secure funding that better supports victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. In April, the senators wrote a letter to Congressional leadership requesting that any future legislation to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) provides funding to support victims and survivors, including programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In December, the Senators also joined their colleagues in introducing companion legislation to the House-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act that would reauthorize VAWA through 2024.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $35,719,247 in federal funding to support access to safe and affordable housing throughout Virginia, particularly in communities whose households face a higher rate of eviction. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The funding is part of the $5 billion in supplemental CDBG funding authorized by the CARES Act in March.

 “Too many Virginians are in danger of losing their homes due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus,” said the Senators. “We’re pleased to see significant funding go directly towards supporting affordable housing, and we will continue fighting to ensure people across the Commonwealth get the federal assistance they need.”

 The CDBG program offers annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

 The following localities will receive funding through the CDBG program:

 

Recipient                      Amount

Alexandria

$943,356

Blacksburg

$210,594

Bristol

$116,003

Charlottesville

$335,024

Chesapeake

$876,358

Christiansburg

$111,118

Colonial Heights

$104,710

Danville

$228,845

Fredericksburg

$205,866

Hampton

$688,562

Harrisonburg

$326,630

Hopewell

$125,506

Lynchburg

$389,143

Newport News

$971,659

Norfolk

$1,250,901

Petersburg

$189,765

Portsmouth

$426,191

Radford

$74,893

City of Richmond

$1,362,346

Roanoke

$546,786

Staunton

$125,136

Suffolk

$323,149

Virginia Beach

$2,069,846

Waynesboro City

$117,476

Winchester

$182,191

Arlington County

$1,348,826

Chesterfield County

$1,216,799

Fairfax County

$4,850,209

Henrico County

$1,417,098

Loudoun County

$1,448,141

Prince William County

$2,145,011

Virginia Nonentitlement

$10,991,109

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in calling on the seven largest internet service providers (ISPs) to do their part to limit the economic and social disruption caused by COVID-19 and help ensure that children are able to meaningfully participate in their education. These letters come as unprecedented numbers of students rely on remote learning to kick off the fall semester due to the ongoing public health crisis. 

In a letter sent to the CEOs of AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, T-Mobile, and Verizon, the Senators called on companies to take concrete measures to suspend limits and fees associated with increased broadband use, which is needed to participate in online courses or remote work. They also called for the companies to expand coverage areas, as the public health emergency has highlighted the devastating impact of the nation’s lingering broadband gaps.

“As a new school year commences, the need to accommodate an unprecedented reliance on data services to provide education continues. We have heard from public schools who express appreciation for internet service options that enable remote learning, but are also concerned with ongoing data limitations and continued lack of service for many households,” the Senators wrote. “In many situations, online learning activities require additional data allowances beyond plans readily available for students. We kindly request that you again take immediate action to help students connect to the online resources they need to learn, including expanding coverage areas and rolling out new service plans that better meet the needs of these families.” 

“With many schools closed and students now relying on the internet to connect with their teachers, instruction materials, and assignments, sufficient data allowances are even more essential for students’ success now and throughout their future. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many parents to work from home, increasing their monthly broadband usage,” they continued. “For these crucial reasons, we ask again that you temporarily suspend data caps and associated fees or throttling for affected communities, and work with public school districts, colleges, and universities to provide free, or at-cost broadband options for students whose schools are closed due to COVID-19 and don’t have sufficient access at home. These options are essential for students, regardless of household billing histories. Working with school administrations to facilitate qualification for discounts based on the schools’ personal knowledge may be especially helpful. For example, students qualifying for free/discounted lunches may also prequalify for free/discounted broadband services as well.”

According to findings from a Pew Research study, the “homework gap” of students lacking reliable access to internet connectivity or a computer at home is more pronounced among Black, Hispanic and lower-income households. In addition to the toll it takes on individual students and their families, the economic cost of this gap has been identified by McKinsey and Company as having deprived the economy of at least $426 billion between 2009 and 2019.

In their letter, the Senators noted numerous complaints that have come in to their offices from parents and educators who are grappling with usage caps and limited bandwidth, which prevent daily video calls needed to learn and work from home. The Senators also stated they’ve heard of families being deemed ineligible for the new services offered for low-income families due to previous missed payments. 

Sen. Warner has long fought for increased access to broadband in the Commonwealth during his tenure as Governor and during his time in the Senate. In March, Sen. Warner led 17 of his colleagues in urging major internet service providers to take steps to accommodate the incoming unprecedented reliance on telepresence services. After this effort, a number of major internet service providers announced the adoption of practices to better accommodate the use of remote technologies. Earlier this year, Sen. Warner also introduced legislation to help ensure adequate home internet connectivity for K-12 students during COVID-19. He has also pushed the FCC to ensure that millions of Americans are made aware of their eligibility for the FCC’s Lifeline program – the primary federal program charged with helping low-income families obtain broadband and telephone services. 

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

 

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires returning students across the United States to rely on remote learning and online courses, we write to ask for your assistance to help ensure students can take full advantage of essential education opportunities this fall. In March, we were thankful that your company answered our request to make a range of accommodations and service changes to help Americans shifting to unprecedented levels of online education and telework, including suspending some broadband data limits on a temporary basis. Your decisive and timely actions helped cushion the impacts to families across the nation during the spring months. 

As a new school year commences, the need to accommodate an unprecedented reliance on data services to provide education continues. We have heard from public schools who express appreciation for internet service options that enable remote learning, but are also concerned with ongoing data limitations and continued lack of service for many households. In many situations, online learning activities require additional data allowances beyond plans readily available for students. We kindly request that you again take immediate action to help students connect to the online resources they need to learn, including expanding coverage areas and rolling out new service plans that better meet the needs of these families. Unprecedented numbers of students now rely on remote access for education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and remote education is only as effective as available internet service. 

Effective remote learning requires capable devices and adequate broadband internet access. The Pew Research Center found in March the “homework gap” of students lacking reliable access to a computer at home is a significant challenge for many students, and even more pronounced for Black, Hispanic and lower income households. With many schools closed and students now relying on the internet to connect with their teachers, instruction materials, and assignments, sufficient data allowances are even more essential for students’ success now and throughout their future. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many parents to work from home, increasing their monthly broadband usage.

Our offices have fielded numerous complaints from parents and educators frustrated by usage caps and limited bandwidth, which prevent daily video calls needed to learn and work from home. And those who have no other option find themselves buried in overage fees. In some cases, we’ve learned that eligibility for new services announced for low-income households is barred if that household has missed monthly payments in the past. These predicaments shine a light on our growing digital divide and threaten the education and subsequent futures of our students. In June, McKinsey and Co. reported that this education achievement gap limited the growth of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by at least $426 billion between 2009 and 2019. The necessary closing of schools during the public health crisis and transition to remote education has exacerbated these gaps.

For these crucial reasons, we ask again that you temporarily suspend data caps and associated fees or throttling for affected communities, and work with public school districts, colleges, and universities to provide free, or at-cost broadband options for students whose schools are closed due to COVID-19 and don’t have sufficient access at home. These options are essential for students, regardless of household billing histories. Working with school administrations to facilitate qualification for discounts based on the schools’ personal knowledge may be especially helpful. For example, students qualifying for free/discounted lunches may also prequalify for free/discounted broadband services as well. 

We look forward to promptly hearing from you about what steps you will take to help limit the economic and social disruption that COVID-19 is posing at this challenging time. We recognize that many broadband providers have experienced significant business growth since the onset of this crisis. We ask that you identify ways to give back to the communities you serve through deployment of expanded service and additional service plans and policies that respond to the concerns we’ve heard from constituents about access, affordability, and data rates.

Containing the health impact of COVID-19 will depend on observance of social distancing measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health authorities. But containing the economic and social impact of COVID-19 requires a whole-of-society effort. At this time of great strain on our economic and education systems, we encourage you to do everything you can to cushion the impacts on American families and students. Our offices would be happy to connect you with local education officials and administrators to facilitate this effort.

We appreciate your time and consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $5,354,487 in federal funding to provide economic relief to the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport and the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport. The funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A portion of this funding comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine.

“We are glad to announce that these federal funds will go towards helping ensure that both the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport and the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport are able to continue to serve Virginians and other folks traveling into the region,” said the Senators.  

The funding will be distributed as follows:

  • Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport will receive $4,065,070 to reconstruct the existing Runway 6/24 lighting system, the Runway 16/34 lighting system, and the entire existing taxiway lighting system, all of which require reconstruction to meet FAA standards. This funding will also go towards reconstructing all the existing airfield guidance signs. 
  • Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport will receive $1,289,417 to extend Runway 12/30 to 5,500 feet to meet the operational needs of the airport.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long fought for increased investments to infrastructure, including for Virginia’s airports, and have pushed back against the Trump Administration’s suggested budget cuts to DOT to ensure that critical upgrades like these can happen. Additionally, last year, Sen. Warner introduced a bill to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic stimulus.

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $4,138,947 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help support health centers across the Commonwealth as they continue battling the COVID-19 crisis. 

“We’re thrilled to announce that these federal dollars will go towards supporting Virginia’s health centers as they continue to provide essential care during this pandemic,” said the Senators. 

The funding for health centers was awarded as follows:

  • $280,654 for Eastern Shore Rural Health System in Accomack County, Va.
  • $353,441 for Neighborhood Health in Alexandria, Va.
  • $222,750 for Johnson Health Center in Amherst County, Va.
  • $75,905 for Bland County Medical Clinic in Bland County, Va.
  • $335,491 for Central Virginia Health Services in Buckingham County, Va.
  • $215,250 for Tri-Area Community Health in Carroll County, Va.
  • $222,750 for Portsmouth Community Health Center in Portsmouth, Va. 
  • $224,446 for St. Charles Health Council in Lee County, Va.
  • $282,459 for Rockbridge Area Free Clinic in Lexington, Va.
  • $126,094 for Loudoun Community Health Center in Loudoun County, Va.
  • $40,000 for Southern Dominion Health Systems in Lunenburg County, Va.
  • $240,953 for Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness in Martinsville, Va.
  • $207,750 for Free Clinic Of The New River Valley in Montgomery County, Va.
  • $220,818 for Blue Ridge Medical Center in Nelson County, Va.
  • $317,485 for Greater Prince William Community Health Center in Prince William County, Va.
  • $227,936 for Daily Planet Health Services in Richmond, Va.
  • $217,856 for Kuumba Community Health and Wellness Center in Roanoke, Va.
  • $222,750 for Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems in Smyth County, Va.
  • $104,159 for Horizon Health Services in Southampton County, Va. 

This funding was awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Health Center Program, which provides funds to community-based health care providers that provide primary care services in underserved areas. These health centers must meet a stringent set of requirements, including providing care on a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay and operating under a governing board that includes patients.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $1,600,000 in federal funds for planning district commissions in Virginia to support redevelopment and revitalization in order to diversify and strengthen regional economies. The funding was authorized by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine.

"We're pleased to announce this critical funding which will support Virginia's planning district commissions in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak that has devastated our communities. We must ensure they are equipped with the tools necessary to continue to provide essential services while keeping workers safe," said the Senators

The funding will be distributed as follows: 

  • The Crater Planning District Commission will receive $400,000
  • The Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission will receive $400,000
  • The West Piedmont Planning District Commission will receive $400,000
  • The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission will receive $400,000.

Through the CARES Act, Congress provided $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. The funding was awarded through the EDA’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which provides financial assistance to communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the pandemic's fallout.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $8,978,420 in federal funding to help Virginians access affordable housing across the Commonwealth. The funding was awarded through the Housing Choice Voucher Program and authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by Warner and Kaine.

“As housing insecurity continues to rise for many Virginians, now more than ever, Congress needs to offer critical assistance to those in need,” the Senators said. “We’re pleased to announce these federal funds that will go directly towards supporting some of the most vulnerable communities right now.”  

Through the CARES Act, Congress provided $1.25 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, which funds the Housing Choice Voucher program that helps lower-income families, the elderly, and disabled individuals afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing. This funding includes $400 million for increased subsidy costs and $850 million for administrative and other expenses incurred by public housing authorities (PHAs), including activities to support or maintain the health and safety of assisted individuals and families, and costs related to retention and support of participating owners.

The funding will be awarded as below:

Recipient                                                                                          City                            Amount

Abingdon Redevelopment and Housing Authority                                 Abingdon                  14,067

Accomack-Northampton Regional Housing Authority                            Accomack                  70,053

Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                  Alexandria                384,750

Arlington County Dept. of Human Services                                         Arlington                   382,489

Big Stone Gap Redevelopment and Housing Auth.                               Big Stone Gap           14,895

Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                        Bristol                       44,015

Buckingham Housing Development Corp. Inc.                                     New Canton              12,112

Charlottesville Redevelopment & Housing Authority                             Charlottesville           60,969

Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                Chesapeake              273,293

County of Albemarle/Office of Housing                                               Charlottesville           68,308

Covington Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                   Covington                 6,188

Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                      Danville                    202,837

Fairfax County Redevelopment & Housing Authority                             Fairfax                      1,343,712

Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority                                   Franklin                     39,053

Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                    Hampton                   546,358

Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority                              Harrisonburg              118,122

Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                   Hopewell                    83,304

James City County Office of Housing                                                 Williamsburg               26,718

Lee County Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                 Jonesville                   60,122

Loudoun County Department of Family Services                                Leesburg                   141,428

Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                 Lynchburg                102,166

Marion Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                     Marion                       32,611

Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority                          Newport News           457,534

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                    Norfolk                      670,205

Norton Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                    Norton                       13,554

People Inc. of Southwest Virginia                                                   Abingdon                  18,907

Petersburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority                              Petersburg                120,138

Portsmouth Redevelopment & Housing Authority                             Portsmouth               332,279

Prince William County Office of HCD                                              Woodbridge               467,993

Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority                               Richmond                  506,406

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                 Roanoke                    250,704

Scott County Redevelopment & Housing Authority                           Duffield                     28,438

Staunton Redevelopment & Housing Authority                                Staunton                   26,821

Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority                                Suffolk                      158,077

Virginia Beach Dept. of Housing & Neighborhood Pres.                     Virginia Beach          363,274

Virginia Housing Development Authority                                         Richmond                 1,381,408

Waynesboro Redevelopment & Housing Authority                           Waynesboro              46,973

Wise County Redevelopment & Housing Authority                            Coeburn                    90,291

Wytheville Redevelopment & Housing Authority                               Wytheville                17,848

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $1,787,477 in federal funding for fire departments in Virginia through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. The AFG program supports local fire departments by providing funds for new equipment and training.

“We are pleased to announce this critical funding to support Virginia’s firefighters. We must ensure they are always equipped with the tools and training necessary to keep them safe as they protect us from fires and other dangers in the community,” the Senators said. 

The following Virginia fire departments will receive funding for operations and safety under the AFG program:

  • The Wintergreen Fire Department will receive $203,809;
  • The Warren County Fire and Rescue will receive $725,454;
  • The Fries Volunteer Fire Department will receive $34,077;
  • The Stephens City Fire & Rescue Company will receive $94,285;
  • The Lynchburg Fire Department will receive $88,941
  • Richmond County Fire and Emergency Services will receive $640,909.

The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire-related hazards by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations and State Fire Training Academies for critically-needed resources to equip and train emergency personnel, recognize standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability, and support community resilience.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) urged President Trump to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create and deploy teams of epidemiologists to the immigration detention center in Farmville, Va., where nearly every detainee has contracted COVID-19. This disastrous situation comes despite repeated requests by Sens. Warner and Kaine, who have urged the Trump Administration time and time again to cease the transfer of detained individuals during the current public health crisis.

“In early June, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE transferred over 70 detainees to Farmville ICA from COVID-19 hotspots in Florida and Arizona. Within two weeks of their transfer, more than half of these detainees tested positive for COVID-19. There are now 287 confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst detainees, which is approximately 80% of the population housed at Farmville, and 26 confirmed cases amongst staff members,” wrote the Senators.

They continued, “The Farmville ICE facility and surrounding community now face a dire situation where almost every detainee at the Farmville facility has tested positive for COVID-19. This presents a clear risk to individuals within the facility, but also endangers the broader community as facility staff and released detainees have interaction with the general public.”

In the letter, the Senators requested that the Trump Administration bring teams of epidemiologists to Farmville to conduct an overall assessment of the situation at the immigration detention facility – a request that has been backed by Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam. 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have repeatedly pushed this Administration to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia detention facilities. In June, after a transfer that resulted in a spike of more than 50 COVID-19 cases at Farmville, the Senators urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prioritize the health of detainees and workers. Nearly a month later, with approximately 80 percent of the Farmville population testing positive for COVID-19, the Senators once again pressed ICE and DHS to stop transfers between facilities. They also posed a series of questions regarding the measures in place to safeguard the health of people in custody, staff members, and the community.

Full text of today’s letter is available here or below.

 

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Trump: 

On July 16, 2020, we sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Matthew Albence regarding the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) at the ICE detention facility in Farmville, Virginia.  Among other things, we asked Acting Secretary Wolf and Acting Secretary Albence to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create and deploy teams of epidemiologists to conduct an overall assessment of the situation at the Farmville facility.  We write today to reiterate that request, which Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam also supported in a July 22, 2020 letter to you.

In early June, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE transferred over 70 detainees to Farmville ICA from COVID-19 hotspots in Florida and Arizona. Within two weeks of their transfer, more than half of these detainees tested positive for COVID-19. There are now 287 confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst detainees, which is approximately 80% of the population housed at Farmville, and 26 confirmed cases amongst staff members. 

The Farmville ICE facility and surrounding community now face a dire situation where almost every detainee at the Farmville facility has tested positive for COVID-19.  This presents a clear risk to individuals within the facility but also endangers the broader community as facility staff and released detainees have interaction with the general public.  It is incumbent upon your administration to work with the CDC to create and deploy teams of epidemiologists to conduct an assessment of the pandemic’s impact at the Farmville ICE facility. State and local officials stand ready to support the CDC in efforts to help contain the current outbreak before it spreads to the surrounding Farmville community.

We must prioritize the health and well-being of the detainees and staff at the Farmville ICE facility as well as the Farmville community. We appreciate your attention to these issues and look forward to working together to address the public health crisis at the ICA Farmville detention facility.

Sincerely,

Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine

Cc: Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

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