Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $3,910,184 in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funding for communities in Southwest and Southside Virginia. The funding, awarded through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, will go towards addressing substance-use disorders, improving broadband connectivity, strengthening rural economies and improving local infrastructure. 

“We are thrilled that these federal dollars will go help fund some of the top priorities for communities in Southwest and Southside Virginia,” said the Senators. “As the COVID-19 crisis continues, it’s essential that we keep bolstering rural economies, ensuring internet reliability, and supporting some of the most vulnerable Virginians.”

“POWER grants are playing a critical role in supporting coal-impacted communities in the Appalachian Region as they recover from COVID-19 by building and expanding critical infrastructure and creating new economic opportunities through innovative and transformative approaches,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “Projects like this are getting Appalachia back to work.”

The funding will be awarded as below:

  • $1,494,000 for the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Area Consortium Board in Radford, Va. to tackle the substance-use disorder problem by coordinating the healthcare sector and the economic development and workforce sector to build a recovery ecosystem.
  • $793,500 for St. Mary’s Health Wagon in Wise County, Va. to establish a substance-use disorder treatment program using medication-assisted treatment.
  • $50,000 for LENOWISCO to develop a strategic plan to establish a fiber network in a 13-county region throughout Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
  • $39,744 for the Center for Rural Development to create a Rural Leaders Institute for Southwest Virginia.
  • $32,940 for the New River Valley Regional Commission to develop a plan to boost tourism and job growth by cultivating the natural assets around the New River.
  • $1,500,000 for Henry County, Va. to make utility improvements to provide a natural gas pipeline to the Commonwealth Crossing Business Center.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian region. Its mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia and help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. ARC’s POWER Initiative targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $2,271,091.11 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to repair damages to Ringgold Rail Trail and Sandy Creek Bridge from overland and waterway flooding in Pittsylvania County

“The damage to Ringgold Rail Trail and Sandy Creek Bridge caused by tropical storm Michael in Pittsylvania County in 2018 has had lasting impacts for residents, travelers, and commuters in the region. The federal funds will help shoulder the cost of repairs,” said the Senators. “Investing in repairs to these historic sites will ease the burden on Virginia residents and strengthen our Commonwealth.”

The funding was awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and authorized under Section 406 of the Robert T. Stafford Act. 

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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, 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 $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 – 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 – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) applauded the House passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill he championed that would address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at National Park Service (NPS) sites across the country and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). With the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this bipartisan bill will help create more than 100,000 jobs across the country and stimulate local economies that rely on outdoor tourism industry. In June, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan legislation and with today’s passage in the House of Representatives, the bill will now head to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

“In passing the Great American Outdoors Act, the House has reaffirmed Congress’ bipartisan commitment to preserving America’s irreplaceable natural and historic resources for future generations. The House vote clears the final hurdle to getting this bill to the President’s desk, closing a years-long effort to address the mounting deferred maintenance costs that have accumulated at national parks across the Commonwealth and the country,” said Sen. Warner. “After the economic devastation we’ve seen come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is another tool in the toolbox to help stimulate our nation’s struggling economy and create up to 110,000 additional infrastructure-related jobs. I am grateful for all those who contributed to this process. I look forward to the President quickly signing this momentous legislation into law, which could create 10,000 new jobs in the Commonwealth, help preserve vital tourism for communities, and ensure that future generations of Americans will continue to experience and take advantage of America’s historical and natural treasures.”

Congressional passage of the bill comes nearly three years after Sen. Warner’s initial effort to provide relief to national parks in Virginia, where the maintenance backlog currently sits at $1.1 billion dollars.

In June, the National Park Service released a report that estimated that an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs would be supported nationally by the Restore Our Parks Act if passed as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. In Virginia, it is estimated that 10,340 jobs would be created or supported as a result of Sen. Warner’s push to address the national parks backlog. 

In addition, a recent NPS study highlighted the financial impact national parks sites have on Virginia’s economy. Last year, 22.8 million individuals from around the world visited national parks in Virginia, spending $1.2 billion. Additionally, national parks in Virginia helped support 17,300 jobs and contributed over $1.7 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy. Because of the economic impact national parks have on communities across the country, more than 800 organizations have pledged their support for the Great American Outdoors Act.

Sen. Warner’s effort to address the maintenance backlog began in March 2017, when he worked with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the National Park Legacy Act, which would have eliminated the NPS maintenance backlog by creating a thirty-year designated fund to take care of maintenance needs at visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds, as well as transportation infrastructure operated by NPS such as the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Arlington Memorial Bridge. That same year, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced its own proposal, drawing heavily on the initial proposal from Sens. Warner and Portman. However, the Administration proposal – which was introduced in the Senate as the National Park Restoration Act by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Angus King (I-ME) – would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance.

In March 2018, after extensive negotiations among Sens. Warner, Portman, Alexander, and King, the bipartisan group introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan consensus proposal endorsed by the Trump Administration, to invest in overdue maintenance needs at NPS sites. The bill would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues from onshore and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, not exceeding $1.3 billion each year for the next five years. In February 2019, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act and, the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November.

In March 2020, following the President’s announcement that he would back the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act as well as full and permanent funding for LWCF, Sen. Warner, along with Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Portman, King, Alexander, and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide $9.5 billion over five years to the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education to address the deferred maintenance backlog at these agencies. The legislation would also provide permanent, mandatory funding for the LWCF, which provides states and local communities with technical assistance, recognition, and funding to help preserve and protect public lands. Virginia has received approximately $368.5 million in LWCF funding over the past four decades to help protect dozens of national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, trails and more.

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WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate voted 80-17 to take up the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill championed by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) that would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at National Park Sites (NPS) across the country. The bipartisan legislation includes Sen. Warner’s Restore Our Parks Act, which would help tackle the $1.1 billion in deferred maintenance at Virginia’s parks and create up to 10,340 jobs in the Commonwealth alone. Today’s procedural vote – known as a “cloture vote on the motion to proceed” – sets up the bill for a final up-or-down vote in the Senate later this week.

“We are one step closer to passing this critical bill that would preserve our cherished national parks and help create jobs in the Commonwealth during this time of economic crisis. For years, I have been sounding the alarm about urgently-needed repairs to our trails, buildings, roads, and bridges that have been ignored for too long,” said Sen. Warner. “If Congress continues to delay addressing these infrastructure challenges, our local communities will be at further risk of losing out on important tourism dollars on top of the economic challenges they are currently facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Virginia’s national parks supporting more than 16,000 jobs and contributing $953 million dollars in value added to our economy,that’s a loss we just can’t afford. After clearing an important first step on this bipartisan bill today, we’re now closer than ever to making sure our bipartisan solution to the parks backlog becomes law.”

Last week, the National Park Service released a report that estimated that an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs would be supported nationally by the Restore Our Parks Act if passed as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. In Virginia, where the maintenance backlog currently sits at more than $1.1 billion dollars in overdue projects and surpasses that of every state except for California and the District of Columbia, it is estimated that 10,340 jobs would be created or supported as a result of Sen. Warner’s push to address the national parks backlog.

Today’s vote comes more than three years after Sen. Warner wrote and introduced the first comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to provide relief to national parks across the country. In March 2017, Sen. Warner teamed up with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the National Park Legacy Act, which would have eliminated the NPS maintenance backlog by creating a thirty-year designated fund to address maintenance needs at visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds, as well as transportation infrastructure operated by NPS such as the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Arlington Memorial Bridge. That same year, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its own proposal, drawing heavily on the initial proposal from Sens. Warner and Portman. However, the Administration proposal – which was introduced in the Senate as the National Park Restoration Act by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Angus King (I-ME) – would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance. (In an attempt to address overdue maintenance needs at national parks nationwide, the Administration has also unsuccessfully pressed to dramatically increase entrance fees.)

In March 2018, after extensive negotiations among Sens. Warner, Portman, Alexander, and King, the bipartisan group introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan consensus proposal endorsed by the Trump Administration, to invest in overdue maintenance needs at NPS sites. The bill would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues from onshore and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, not exceeding $1.3 billion each year for the next five years. In February 2019, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act and, the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November.

In March 2020, following the President’s announcement that he would back the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act as well as full and permanent funding for LWCF, Sen. Warner, along with Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Portman, King, Alexander, and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide $9.5 billion over five years to the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education to address the deferred maintenance backlog at these agencies. The legislation would also provide permanent, mandatory funding for the LWCF, which provides states and local communities with technical assistance, recognition, and funding to help preserve and protect public lands. Virginia has received approximately $368.5 million in LWCF funding over the past four decades to help protect dozens of national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, trails and more.

A list of organizations in support of the Great American Outdoors Act can be found here

A full list of deferred maintenance needs at Virginia’s national parks can be found here

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), spoke on the Senate floor about the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill championed by Sen. Warner that would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at National Park Service (NPS) sites across the country. The bipartisan legislation includes Sen. Warner’s Restore Our Parks Act, which would help tackle the $1.1 billion in deferred maintenance at Virginia’s parks and create up to 10,340 jobs in the Commonwealth alone. Yesterday, the bill cleared a key procedural hurdle– known as a “cloture vote on the motion to proceed”  by a vote of 80-17, setting up the bill for a final up-or-down vote in the Senate later this week.

In his remarks on the Senate floor, Sen. Warner said: “This represents one of the largest investments in the infrastructure of our national parks in the over 100-year history of the National Park Service. In addition to preserving our national treasures for future generations to enjoy, this legislation will also create tens of thousands of jobs across the country and provide a positive economic impact for gateway communities that depend on our national parks. A recent study by the National Park Service indicates that the Great American Outdoors Act will support over 100,000 jobs and contribute $17.5 billion in total economic output through funding deferred maintenance projects at the Park Service. In Virginia, over 10,000 jobs could be created by eliminating the maintenance backlog at Park Service sites.”

Background on the Great American Outdoors Act: 

Last week, the National Park Service released a report that estimated that an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs would be supported nationally by the Restore Our Parks Act if passed as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. In Virginia, where the maintenance backlog currently sits at more than $1.1 billion dollars in overdue projects and surpasses that of every state except for California and the District of Columbia, it is estimated that 10,340 jobs would be created or supported as a result of Sen. Warner’s push to address the national parks backlog.

The Senate’s action on this bill comes more than three years after Sen. Warner wrote and introduced the first comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to provide relief to national parks across the country. In March 2017, Sen. Warner teamed up with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the National Park Legacy Act, which would have eliminated the NPS maintenance backlog by creating a thirty-year designated fund to address maintenance needs at visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds, as well as transportation infrastructure operated by NPS such as the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Arlington Memorial Bridge. That same year, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its own proposal, drawing heavily on the initial proposal from Sens. Warner and Portman. However, the Administration proposal – which was introduced in the Senate as the National Park Restoration Act by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Angus King (I-ME) – would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance. (In an attempt to address overdue maintenance needs at national parks nationwide, the Administration has also unsuccessfully pressed to dramatically increase entrance fees.)

In March 2018, after extensive negotiations among Sens. Warner, Portman, Alexander, and King, the bipartisan group introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan consensus proposal endorsed by the Trump Administration, to invest in overdue maintenance needs at NPS sites. The bill would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues from onshore and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, not exceeding $1.3 billion each year for the next five years. In February 2019, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act and, the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November.

In March 2020, following the President’s announcement that he would back the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act as well as full and permanent funding for LWCF, Sen. Warner, along with Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Portman, King, Alexander, and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide $9.5 billion over five years to the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education to address the deferred maintenance backlog at these agencies. The legislation would also provide permanent, mandatory funding for the LWCF, which provides states and local communities with technical assistance, recognition, and funding to help preserve and protect public lands. Virginia has received approximately $368.5 million in LWCF funding over the past four decades to help protect dozens of national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, trails and more.

A list of organizations in support of the Great American Outdoors Act can be found here.  

A full list of deferred maintenance needs at Virginia’s national parks can be found here.

  

The full text of Sen. Warner’s remarks as prepared for delivery appears below: 

Mr./Madam President, I rise today to join my colleagues in support of the Great American Outdoors Act.

This historic legislation represents the most significant investment in our public lands in a generation… and a job-creating investment in our outdoor economy.

The Great American Outdoors Act will provide up to $9.5 billion over five years to address the deferred maintenance backlogs at the National Park Service, and other federal land agencies. This bill also finally provides full and mandatory for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). It has been a long road getting to this point, but I am thrilled we are finally considering this important, job-creating legislation.

Years of chronic underfunding has forced the Park Service to defer maintenance on countless trails, buildings, and historic structures – as well as thousands of miles of roads and bridges. Today, the National Park Service faces a deferred maintenance backlog of $12 billion. Over half of all Park Service assets are currently in desperate need of repairs. In Virginia alone, the deferred maintenance backlog sits at over $1.1 billion… more than any other state but California and the District of Columbia. 

To address this growing problem in Virginia and across the country, Sens. Portman, King, Alexander, and I introduced legislation – the Restore Our Parks Act – that would provide $6.5 billion to the Park Service to reduce its maintenance backlog utilizing unobligated energy revenues. In March, our bill was combined with Sen. Gardner and Sen. Manchin’s LWCF legislation to form the Great American Outdoors Act.

This bill on the floor today will provide up to $6.65 billion over five years to repair our national parks. That’s enough to address more than half of the current deferred maintenance backlog and completely fund the highest-priority deferred maintenance projects within the agency. This represents one of the largest investments in the infrastructure of our national parks in the over 100-year history of the National Park Service.

In addition to preserving our national treasures for future generations to enjoy, this legislation will also create tens of thousands of jobs across the country and provide a positive economic impact for gateway communities that depend on our national parks.

A recent study by the National Park Service indicates that the Great American Outdoors Act will support over 100,000 jobs and contribute $17.5 billion in total economic output through funding deferred maintenance projects at the Park Service. In Virginia, over 10,000 jobs could be created by eliminating the maintenance backlog at Park Service sites. And I want to give a few examples of how this legislation will create jobs and help preserve our natural heritage in my home state.

Here in the National Capital Region, the George Washington Memorial Parkway—which is managed by the National Park Service—has over $700 million in deferred maintenance. Matter of fact, anyone who travels on that road knows that north of the T.R. Bridge, we actually had a sinkhole appear in the parkway within the last year—an enormous safety threat as well as an inconvenience to the traveling public. Our legislation would help rebuild this critical transportation route between Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland… reducing traffic and creating jobs.

In Virginia, we’re blessed with a number of historic battlefields. The Richmond National Battlefield Park has over $5 million in deferred maintenance. And the nearby Petersburg National Battlefield has nearly $9 million in deferred maintenance. Our legislation would help preserve these important pieces of our heritage, while also supporting the local economies.

At Shenandoah National Park, one of the crown jewels of the National Park Service, the maintenance backlog sits at $90 million. Our legislation will put people to work on these overdue repairs…including to Skyline Drive and stretches of the Appalachian Trail… which are at the heart of Virginia’s outdoor tourism industry.

As you head Southwest, the Blue Ridge Parkway has accumulated over $508 million in deferred maintenance needs. That’s over $1 million per mile of the Parkway. The Great American Outdoors Act will put Virginians to work on these repairs… so visitors can continue to appreciate the beauty of the Appalachian Highlands and support the local economy.

I’ll give one final example: Colonial National Historical Park, which is home to Historic Jamestown and Yorktown Battlefield. At this park containing some of our country’s most significant sites, there are deferred maintenance needs totaling over $433 million. With this legislation, the wait on these repairs is over. We’re going to create jobs and make sure this important part of our history is around for years to come.  

In addition to securing up to $9.5 billion to address the maintenance backlog at our public land agencies, the Great American Outdoors Act provides full, mandatory funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF is the most important tool the federal government and states have to conserve natural areas, water resources, and cultural heritage, and to expand recreation opportunities to all communities.

Over the past four decades, Virginia has received over $368 million in LWCF funding that has been used to protect critical places in the Commonwealth like Rappahannock River Valley and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuges and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. With full funding for LWCF, we will be able to conserve additional critical lands in the Commonwealth and provide more recreation opportunities for Virginians from the coalfields to the Chesapeake Bay and everywhere in between.

In closing, I urge my colleagues to support this historic legislation that will help restore our national parks and public lands, create tens of thousands of jobs across the country, and expand recreation opportunities for millions of Americans.

Thank you, Mr./Madam President. I yield back. 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure rural hospitals in Virginia can keep up with the cost of providing care amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Fair Medicare Hospital Payments Act would help curb the trend of hospital closures in rural areas by making sure hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government. This legislation comes at a crucial time as hospitals in Virginia continue to lose needed revenue despite playing an essential role in serving their communities and providing lifesaving care during the biggest public health crisis in a century.

“The current payment policy has long placed some of Virginia’s most rural hospitals at a disadvantage and made it more difficult to provide quality care in communities that need it most,” said Sen. Warner. “The COVID-19 public health emergency has made it more important than ever to do everything we can to support our rural hospitals and this legislation is absolutely critical in doing that.” 

“Last year, the Trump Administration updated the formula that determines how much Medicare will reimburse hospitals for patient care, taking into account, among other things, the cost of labor in that geographic area – called the Medicare Area Wage Index. And because of this change, Alan Levine, who leads Ballad, announced a $10 million investment in pay increases to nurses. However, these changes are temporary and will expire in three years, and many hospitals are concerned that hospital reimbursements could revert to the lower rates,” said Sen. Alexander. “Given COVID-19 impacts on rural hospitals, any changes that lower reimbursement would have significant impact. Tennessee has the second highest rate of hospitals closures in the country, with 13 hospitals having closed since 2010, and this is, in large part, due to lower reimbursements. This legislation will help keep up with the cost of providing care and help curb the trend of Tennessee rural hospital closures by setting an appropriate national minimum for the Medicare Area Wage Index.” 

The Medicare Area Wage Index, a formula used by Medicare to reimburse hospitals, is much lower for states like Virginia and Tennessee, due to the fact that the formula is based on labor costs, which vary across the country. This flawed formula often results in disproportionately low Medicare reimbursement payments to hospitals in rural and low-wage areas.

Specifically, the legislation would establish an appropriate national minimum (0.85) for the Medicare Area Wage Index and ensure that rural hospitals are paid for the care they provide, while preserving the existing reimbursements for urban hospitals. This legislation would also help ensure fairness in reimbursements for hospitals across the country – including the many hospitals that are facing closures in rural areas – and fix severe and disproportionate disadvantages that unfairly penalize hundreds of communities and hospitals across the United States.

At a minimum, 14 Virginia hospitals would benefit from this legislation, with the number of beneficiaries growing in future years. The 14 hospitals that would immediately benefit include:

Locality:

Hospital:

Buchanan County

Buchanan General Hospital

Franklin

Southampton Memorial Hospital

Galax

Twin County Regional Hospital

Halifax County

Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital

Mecklenburg County

Community Memorial Hospital

Norton

Norton Community Hospital

Pulaski County

Lewisgale Hospital Pulaski

Russell County

Russell County Hospital

Smyth County

Smyth County Community Hospital

Tazewell County

Clinch Valley Medical Center

Tazewell County

Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital

Washington County

Johnston Memorial Hospital

Wise County

Lonesome Pine Hospital

Wythe County

Wythe County Community Hospital

According to the American Hospital Association, Medicare accounts for about 43 percent of reimbursements for hospitals nationally, underscoring the role that Medicare payments play in keeping hospitals open and functioning – particularly in Virginia’s underserved and economically-struggling regions.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Alexander, the legislation was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Doug Jones (D-AL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL).

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $309,729,392 in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide economic relief to 47 airports across the Commonwealth. 

“The COVID-19 crisis has affected every aspect of our economy and our airports are no exception. In fact, the necessary precautions we have taken to slow the spread of the virus have hit our airports especially hard,” said the Senators. “That’s why we’re glad to know that airports across Virginia will be able to count on some economic relief so that they can continue critical safety projects. These funds will also help make sure that once this crisis is over, airports can safely resume serving Virginians and individuals traveling in and out of the Commonwealth.”

The CARES Act, which was supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine, includes $10 billion in funds for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP) to provide relief for eligible U.S. airports affected by the prevention, preparation, and response surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will be distributed as follows:

 

Locality

Airport Name

Funding Amount:

Abingdon

Virginia Highlands

$69,000

Arlington

Ronald Reagan Washington National

$85,708,037

Ashland

Hanover County Municipal

$30,000

Blacksburg

Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive

$69,000

Brookneal

Brookneal/Campbell County

$1,000

Charlottesville-Albemarle 

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport

$6,279,972

Chesapeake

Chesapeake Regional

$69,000

Chesapeake

Hampton Roads Executive

$69,000

Chesterfield

Richmond Executive-Chesterfield County

$69,000

Culpeper

Culpeper Regional

$30,000

Danville

Danville Regional

$69,000

Dublin

New River Valley

$30,000

Dulles

Washington Dulles International

$143,395,227

Farmville

Farmville Regional

$30,000

Front Royal

Front Royal-Warren County

$30,000

Halifax

William M Tuck

$20,000

Highland Springs

Richmond International

$18,814,584

Hillsville

Twin County

$20,000

Hot Springs

Ingalls Field

$20,000

Isle of Wight

Franklin Regional

$30,000

Jonesville

Lee County

$20,000

Leesburg

Leesburg Executive

$69,000

Louisa

Louisa County/Freeman Field

$30,000

Luray

Luray Caverns

$30,000

Manassas

Manassas Regional/Harry P Davis Field

$157,000

Mattaponi

Middle Peninsula Regional

$30,000

Melfa

Accomack County

$30,000

Moonlight

Emporia-Greensville Regional

$1,000

Newport News

Newport News/Williamsburg International

$4,135,878

Norfolk

Norfolk International

$19,847,270

Orange

Orange County

$30,000

Quinton

New Kent County

$30,000

Richlands

Tazewell County

$20,000

Roanoke

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional/Woodrum Field

$20,709,748

Smyth (County)

Mountain Empire

$30,000

South Hill

Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional

$30,000

Spencer

Blue Ridge

$69,000

Stafford

Stafford Regional

$30,000

Suffolk

Suffolk Executive

$30,000

Sutherland

Dinwiddie County

$30,000

Tangier

Tangier Island

$20,000

Tappahannock

Tappahannock-Essex County

$30,000

Timberlake

Lynchburg Regional/Preston Glenn Field

$6,647,475

Warrenton

Warrenton-Fauquier

$69,000

Weyers Cave

Shenandoah Valley Regional

$2,652,201

Winchester

Winchester Regional

$69,000

Wise

Lonesome Pine

$30,000

CARES Act funding will allow airports to meet ongoing needs including retaining workers, managing operation and maintenance, and paying for cleaning supplies in the midst of severe financial challenges brought on by COVID-19. 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 the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) was joined by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) in announcing a path forward for the Restore Our Parks Act – legislation championed by Sen. Warner to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at national parks across the country. Yesterday, the President announced that he would back the bipartisan legislation, as well as full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). For nearly three years, Sen. Warner has led the effort to provide relief to national parks in Virginia, where the increasing maintenance backlog currently sits at more than $1.1 billion dollars and surpasses that of every state except for California and the District of Columbia.

“We’ve been working on the parks legislation for the last four-plus years, and as Rob mentioned, it has broad bipartisan support,” said Sen. Warner. “We’ve got a nearly $12 billion backlog. In my state, Virginia, it is more than $1 billion dollars of that backlog. And we’re not only talking about trails and bridges. Anybody who lives in the national capital region – you commute on G.W. Parkway, you can see the deteriorated state of that road. That is one of those assets that we have deferred maintenance on.”

He continued, “Deferred maintenance is simply a bill put off. We’re going to provide in this legislation $6.5 billion dollars – so about 50 percent of those needs we’ve met. Once this bill gets implemented and put into law, it will put 100,000 Americans to work on this restoration – 10,000 in Virginia.”

The Restore Our Parks Act, which has been praised by key stakeholders, would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, not to exceed $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.

In November, the Restore Our Parks Act was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and sent to the Senate floor, where it awaits approval.

A full list of deferred maintenance needs at Virginia’s national parks can be found here.

A link to the full press conference is available here.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $10,500,000 in funding from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve airport infrastructure at two airports in Arlington and Martinsville.

“We’re pleased to announce this funding to enhance airport infrastructure,” said the Senators. “These grants will support local airports as they help Virginians travel more efficiently.”

  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington will receive a grant of $3,500,000 to rehabilitate an apron.
  • Blue Ridge Airport in Martinsville will receive a grant of $7,000,000 to expand an apron.

This funding was granted through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), a program that provides grants for the planning and development of public-use airports that are significant to national air transportation.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today applauded $1,197,247 in rural development funding to further telemedicine at the University of Virginia, George Mason University, VCU Health’s Community Memorial Hospital in Mecklenburg County, Va. and the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens in Tazewell County, Va. This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program.

“Telehealth services have the power to decrease travel time and increase access to specialized health care in some of Virginia’s most underserved communities,” said the Senators. “We are thrilled to see these grants go to boosting telemedicine services and provider training at the University of Virginia, George Mason University, VCU’s Community Memorial Hospital, and the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens.”

The funding will be awarded as below:

  • $154,600 for the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens to provide telemedicine services to low-income elderly and disabled individuals who will attend the adult day care facility located in Falls Mills. The facility will provide medical care, nutrition services, and day care and care coordination, while also providing economic development for the community and educational opportunities for the public. This rural investment will benefit approximately 25,000 residents at nine sites across a four-county area.
  • $397,668 for the University of Virginia to enable the Rector and Visitors Center to implement the Virginia Telemedicine Network for Cardio-metabolic disease, Opioid Use Disorder, Ophthalmology, Black Lung Disease and Cancer. The University of Virginia Health System (UVAHS) will serve as the hub site to deliver health care services and training to 19 community health care providers in 12 counties, including federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and free clinics that serve economically distressed regions of Virginia. This project will reach 750,000 rural residents.
  • $500,000 for George Mason University to implement a telemedicine project to provide training of medical professionals in the area of opioid dependency and treatment. This program will serve a population of almost 177,000 residents across Virginia and West Virginia.
  • $144,979 for Community Memorial Hospital to create the Rural Center for Integrated Telemedicine. This center will provide medical services via interactive video conferencing equipment, to four sites in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and will benefit approximately 11,000 residents.

The USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. Applicants eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants include most State and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for rural communities and health care access in the Commonwealth. Last year, the Senators saw through the passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which included a provision by Sen. Warner to expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment. Additionally, Sen. Warner introduced legislation – cosponsored by Sen. Kaine – last month to expand telehealth services through Medicare, make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors, and help cut costs for patients and providers. Sen. Kaine also introduced legislation to expand health care to rural areas through telehealth. The bill passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in June as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019. And in 2003, then-Gov. Warner expanded Medicaid coverage for telemedicine statewide, including evaluation and management visits, a range of individual psychotherapies, the full range of consultations, and some clinical services, including in cardiology and obstetrics.

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WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $300,000 for Southside Business Technology Center, Inc. in Danville, a group that funds local entrepreneurs to support start-up companies. This money will support the Launch Place Seed Fund2, a non-profit that is working to diversify the Dan River region’s economy through entrepreneurship. The goal of the project is to support the region’s transition to an economy that recruits, retains, and develops start-up businesses and supports expansions.

“We’re thrilled to announce funding to drive start-up creation in Danville. These dollars will help create innovative jobs in the region and stimulate growth by diversifying the local economy,” the Senators said.

This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s Seed Fund Support Grants. The Trump Administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposed to eliminate funding for the Economic Development Administration. Following a letter from Warner and Kaine to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Congress rejected this proposal.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $166,800 in federal grants and loans for the towns of Alberta, Pembroke, and Chatham to purchase four police vehicles and equipment through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development. 

“We’re pleased to support rural communities in Virginia with federal funding to purchase updated police vehicles and equipment. This funding will help ensure that police officers have the resources they need to ensure to keep residents safe,”the Senators said.

The following localities will receive funding as follows: 

  • The Town of Alberta will receive a grant of $24,000 and loan of $46,400 to purchase a new fully furnished 2018 Chevy Tahoe 4x4 police vehicle. Additional equipment including a computer, radio, and lighting equipment which will be compatible with the upgraded emergency services radio system being implemented by Brunswick County will also be installed. This project will serve the 298 residents of the town of Alberta.
  • The Town of Pembroke will receive a grant of $20,100 and loan of $37,400 to purchase two new properly equipped all wheel drive police vehicles. The new vehicles will replace two older high mileage vehicles in the fleet that are not safe and reliable. The 1,128 residents of Pembroke will benefit from the improved services and cost savings that these new police vehicles will provide.
  • The Town of Chatham will receive a grant of $13,600 and loan of $25,300 to replace one older car with a modern fully equipped police vehicle. Currently, the town is using older, high mileage vehicles that are unreliable. 

The USDA’s Community Facilities Direct Loans and Grants Program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. Funding awarded through this program seeks to purchase, construct, and/or improve community facilities that are used for health care, public safety, community support, and public service.

 

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $43,246,753 in federal funding to support affordable housing development across Virginia. The funding, which will go to 26 municipalities across the Commonwealth, has been awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public Housing Capital Fund.

“Families all across the Commonwealth should have access to safe and affordable housing,” the Senators said. “We are pleased that these federal dollars will help support the health and safety of Virginia communities.”

President Trump’s FY 2019 budget eliminates funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund. The Capital Fund provides critical federal dollars to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in Virginia for the development, financing, and modernization of public housing developments and for managementimprovements. In March, Sens. Warner and Kaine voted in favor of the omnibus bill that provides more than $2.75 billion in funding to the Capital Fund program.

 

The selected Virginia housing authorities and funding amounts are listed below:

 

Virginia Housing Authority Recipient

City

Amount

Portsmouth Redev. & Housing Authority

PORTSMOUTH

$2,184,978.00

Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority

BRISTOL

$803,731.00

Newport News Redev. & Housing Authority

NEWPORT NEWS

$4,021,967.00

Alexandria Redev. & Housing Authority

ALEXANDRIA

$1,957,491.00

Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority

HOPEWELL

$800,481.00

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

NORFOLK

$8,576,413.00

Richmond Redev. & Housing Authority

RICHMOND

$10,911,250.00

Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

DANVILLE

$1,056,943.00

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority

ROANOKE

$3,265,133.00

Chesapeake Redev. & Housing Authority

CHESAPEAKE

$1,037,894.00

Lynchburg Redev. & Housing Authority

LYNCHBURG

$820,492.00

Norton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

NORTON

$460,027.00

Charlottesville Redev. & Housing Authority

CHARLOTTESVILLE

$832,974.00

Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

HAMPTON

$1,306,266.00

Franklin Redev. & Housing Authority

FRANKLIN

$147,828.00

Petersburg Redev. & Housing Authority

PETERSBURG

$1,025,085.00

Wytheville Redev. & Housing Authority

WYTHEVILLE

$462,256.00

Waynesboro Redev. & Housing Authority

WAYNESBORO

$390,498.00

Wise County Redev. & Housing Authority

COEBURN

$409,332.00

Suffolk Redev. & Housing Authority

SUFFOLK

$1,024,358.00

Williamsburg Redev. & Housing Authority

WILLIAMSBURG

$258,697.00

Cumberland Plateau Reg. Housing Authority

LEBANANON

$548,009.00

Marion Redevelopment & Housing Authority

MARION

$536,689.00

Scott County Redev. & Housing Authority

DUFFIELD

$210,200.00

Abingdon Redev. & Housing Authority

ABINGDON

$63,093.00

Lee County Redev. & Housing Authority

JONESVILLE

$134,668.00

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined a bipartisan letter calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to support long-term funding that would make broadband and voice services more accessible and affordable in rural communities. In the letter, the Senators thank the FCC for its work to support rural broadband and request that it prevent upcoming funding cuts to smaller operators that deliver broadband to the country’s most rural communities, which would otherwise go into effect on July 1.

“These recurring budget shortfalls result in lower speeds, more unserved locations, and higher prices for rural consumers and businesses,” the Senators said. “We share your goal of eliminating the digital divide and look forward to working with you to maintain accessible, affordable broadband for rural American consumers and businesses.”

The FCC fixed the budget shortfall for the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) High-Cost program for the current Fiscal Year, but has not addressed long term funding for the program. The USF program helps to ensure that consumers in rural areas pay comparable rates to those in urban areas by helping rural carriers cover some of their costs. The Senators make the case that funding the program encourages businesses to invest in broadband networks in regions of the country where service is needed, but where deploying broadband is difficult and costly.

Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of expanding broadband to rural communities in Virginia as Governors and Senators. Last year, Warner and Kaine joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to urge President Trump to include broadband in an infrastructure initiative. In October, Warner and Kainepraised a Senate Democratic proposal to invest $40 billion to build broadband infrastructure necessary to connect over 34 million Americans to high-speed internet. In November, Warner and Kaine announced $6 million in federal funding to construct broadband infrastructure in Buchanan and Scott Counties.

The full text of the Senators’ letter to Chairman Pai is available here and below:

 

May 15, 2018

 

The Honorable Ajit Pai

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, S.W.

Washington, DC 20554

 

Dear Chairman Pai:

 

We write to express our strong support and sincere gratitude for the recent Order addressing budget shortfalls in the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) High-Cost program. The Order is an essential, immediate step in the right direction, and we now encourage the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue down this path by acting quickly on the notice of proposed rulemaking to provide long-term, predictable support. Such additional steps are necessary to ensure rural Americans have access to high quality voice and broadband services.

The FCC’s recent Order approving an infusion of funds into the USF is greatly welcomed, and will provide needed support for small, rural carriers that rely on the High-Cost USF program. Despite this, persistent limitations on resources can affect the ability of smaller broadband providers to deliver services in our country’s most rural communities. The FCC’s cost model for smaller operators electing model-based USF support is not yet funded at the designed levels, and carriers not receiving model-based support will once again face significant funding cuts when the program’s new fiscal year takes effect on July 1, 2018. These recurring budget shortfalls result in lower speeds, more unserved locations, and higher prices for rural consumers and businesses.

Congress has expressed consistent, bipartisan support for addressing shortfalls in the USF program. In April 2017, 58 Senators called on the FCC to provide adequate resources for broadband delivery services to rural consumers in areas that are the hardest and costliest to serve. In May 2017, 102 Representatives wrote to the FCC, expressing similar concerns about the impacts of insufficient USF resources on rural consumers. 

We commend the FCC’s actions thus far to address and modernize USF support. Taking action on the notice of proposed rulemaking and establishing lasting solutions that allow the reformed High-Cost mechanism to work as designed would enable many smaller operators to offer high quality, affordable broadband to consumers across rural America. It is important to consider any modifications needed to meet the program’s objectives of ensuring consistent network build-out and strengthening ongoing service, for locations otherwise unserved, in our nation’s high-cost rural areas. 

Thank you for the actions you have undertaken thus far to support the USF and for considering this request. We share your goal of eliminating the digital divide and look forward to working with you to maintain accessible, affordable broadband for rural American consumers and businesses.

 

Sincerely,

###

 

 

WARNER & KAINE ANNOUNCE $94.8 MILLION IN GRANTS FOR HOUSING & INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS ACROSS VIRGINIA

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $94,819,202 in federal funding to help Virginia communities with housing and infrastructure projects. The funding, which will go to more than 30 locations across Virginia, will be awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), HOME, and Housing Trust Fund (HTF) programs. 

“We are pleased to announce funding that will help provide many Virginia families with the safe and affordable housing they need,” the Senators said. “These grants will help strengthen the well-being of communities throughout our Commonwealth.” 

President Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposes eliminating the Community Development Block Grant, HOME, and Housing Trust Fund programs. The budget also proposes cutting ESG by 5.6% and cutting HOPWA by 12%. Warner and Kaine have opposed President Trump’s budget cuts to Virginia priorities and will continue fighting for this important HUD funding in Congress. 

The $94,819,202 in funding will be awarded through HUD grants as follows:

 

Recipient

CDBG18

HOME18

ESG18

HOPWA18

HTF18

Total

Alexandria

$941,853

$536,873

$0

$0

$0

$1,478,726

Blacksburg

$482,932

$672,718

$0

$0

$0

$1,155,650

Bristol

$254,487

$0

$0

$0

$0

$254,487

Charlottesville

$408,417

$624,013

$0

$0

$0

$1,032,430

Chesapeake

$1,182,627

$550,827

$0

$0

$0

$1,733,454

Christiansburg

$111,703

$0

$0

$0

$0

$111,703

Colonial Heights

$94,495

$0

$0

$0

$0

$94,495

Danville

$865,416

$270,868

$0

$0

$0

$1,136,284

Fredericksburg

$186,790

$0

$0

$0

$0

$186,790

Hampton

$1,156,814

$557,513

$0

$0

$0

$1,714,327

Harrisonburg

$559,588

$0

$0

$0

$0

$559,588

Hopewell

$177,848

$0

$0

$0

$0

$177,848

Lynchburg

$733,913

$438,772

$0

$0

$0

$1,172,685

Newport News

$1,257,434

$786,711

$0

$0

$0

$2,044,145

Norfolk

$4,323,842

$1,278,608

$351,181

$0

$0

$5,953,631

Petersburg

$624,601

$0

$0

$0

$0

$624,601

Portsmouth

$1,557,075

$452,783

$0

$0

$0

$2,009,858

Radford

$165,992

$0

$0

$0

$0

$165,992

Richmond

$4,442,476

$1,500,301

$366,794

$1,050,009

$0

$7,359,580

Roanoke

$1,732,287

$606,064

$139,611

$0

$0

$2,477,962

Suffolk

$466,234

$377,689

$0

$0

$0

$843,923

Virginia Beach

$2,000,832

$1,122,655

$164,230

$1,524,127

$0

$4,811,844

Waynesboro 

$193,586

$0

$0

$0

$0

$193,586

Winchester

$231,081

$615,483

$0

$0

$0

$846,564

Arlington County

$1,363,320

$762,215

$0

$0

$0

$2,125,535

Chesterfield County

$1,390,089

$558,425

$0

$0

$0

$1,948,514

Fairfax County

$5,574,509

$2,103,044

$447,834

$0

$0

$8,125,387

Henrico County

$1,692,829

$897,341

$138,560

$0

$0

$2,728,730

Loudoun County

$1,334,299

$0

$0

$0

$0

$1,334,299

Prince William County

$2,504,696

$919,946

$201,653

$0

$0

$3,626,295

Funds for Virginia to administer to lower population areas

$18,289,253

$10,094,628

$2,771,457

$962,389

$4,672,562

$36,790,289

Total

$56,301,318

$25,727,477

$4,581,320

$3,536,525

$4,672,562

$94,819,202

 

 

Additional details on each program from HUD:

 

The Community Development Block (CDBG) Grants program provides annual grants to states and local units of government to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

 

The HOME program helps to expand the supply of decent, affordable housing to low- and very low-income families by providing grants to states and local governments to fund housing programs that meet local needs and priorities.

 

The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program provides funding to engage homeless individuals and families living on the street; improve the number, quality, and operations of emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families; provide essential services to shelter residents, rapidly re-house homeless individuals, and families, and prevent families and individuals from becoming homeless. 

 

The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program provides housing assistance and related supportive services to local units of government, states and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families.

 

The Housing Trust Fund (HTF) is a new affordable housing production program that will complement existing Federal, State and local efforts to increase and preserve the supply of decent, safe, and sanitary affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income households, including homeless families.

 

###

 

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) expressed increased concern over how President Trump’s trade war would hurt Virginia’s soybean production, which is the Commonwealth’s number one cash crop. China’s Ministry of Commerce has recently announced they will begin proactively taxing Chinese companies that import some American agricultural products at 178.6% to discourage imports. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed that China is the Commonwealth’s biggest export market for agricultural goods and suggestedPresident Trump’s tariffs could hurt Virginia businesses and employees. Soybean production in Virginia accounts for roughly $187 million in economic output, which helps supports thousands of jobs in the Commonwealth. Amid escalating rhetoric by the Trump Administration, China announced that it is considering raising tariffs on soybeans, beef, and other critical agriculture commodities produced in Virginia.  

“Virginia’s soybean producers should not be held hostage to the uncertainty of President Trump’s trade games,” said Sen. Warner. “While China should be held accountable for its unfair trade practices, this should not be done at the expense of the hardworking soybean farmers in this country. President Trump needs to work with us to find the best way to resolve these disputes and avoid threatening an industry that creates thousands of new jobs and brings millions of dollars to rural communities in Virginia.”

“Clearly China is not taking President Trump’s threats lightly and we’re going to start feeling the pain of his rash actions. Our farmers deserve better than this,” said Sen. Kaine. “President Trump says he wants to create jobs and stimulate the economy yet his actions will have the opposite effect. His inflammatory, bullying tactics are going to hurt Virginians.”

“Exports are a vital source of income for Virginia’s farmers and here in the Commonwealth we have worked hard to open new markets around the world for our agriculture and forestry exporters. However, these efforts are jeopardized by threats of tariffs and trade wars at the national level,” said Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “I hope that our trade negotiators will keep our hardworking farmers and agribusinesses front of mind when working with their Chinese counterparts to solve this trade dispute.”

“The Virginia Soybean Association is concerned with the potential of trade wars within the global marketplace, including China. International trade is vital for the economic viability of the soybean industry,” said Nick Moody, President of the Virginia Soybean Association. “Uncertainty in trade agreements directly affect the stability of markets and price, which is a major concern for producers in a business that is already largely dependent on weather. Our hope is for the administration to work with leaders in international markets to create solid solutions to these trade disputes, which will not continue to disrupt soybean markets.”

According to VDACS, agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, with an economic impact of $70 billion annually that provides more than 334,000 jobs.The agriculture and forestry industries combined have a total economic impact of over $91 billion and provide more than 442,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.7 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy. Production agriculture alone employs 54,000 Virginians and accounts for more than $3.8 billion in economic output. Almost 10 percent of Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is directly tied to agriculture and forestry.

Sens. Warner and Kaine previously raised concerns about how President Trump’s trade war with China could hurt Virginia businesses and employees, listing the set of products grown and made in Virginia that have been targeted by the Chinese for duties. They also wrote to the Administration last week warning that withdrawing from the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—another significant source of agricultural exports for Virginia—would negatively impact Virginia’s agricultural industry.

 

Below is a detailed list of soybean producing areas in Virginia as of 2017. A comprehensive list can be found here

 

COUNTY

PRODUCTION (Bushels)

NORTHERN VA/VALLEY

 

Culpeper

524,000

Fauquier

642,000

Frederick

68,500

Loudoun

301,000

Madison

384,000

Page

25,400

Rockingham

405,000

Shenandoah

259,000

Other NOVA counties

314,100

 

 

CENTRAL VIRGINIA

 

Amelia

429,000

Bedford

20,300

Campbell

162,000

Caroline

1,056,000

Chesterfield

66,000

Cumberland

134,000

Goochland

183,000

Louisa

224,000

Orange

380,000

Prince Edward

48,400

Spotsylvania

180,000

Other Central Counties

1,413,300

 

 

EASTERN SHORE

 

Accomack

1,577,000

Charles City

434,000

Essex

971,000

Gloucester

284,000

King and Queen

718,000

King George

222,000

King William

740,000

Northampton

937,000

Northumberland

767,000

Richmond

779,000

Westmoreland

895,000

Other Eastern Counties

1,041,000

 

 

SOUTHSIDE

 

Charlotte

240,000

Halifax

299,000

Lunenburg

148,000

Nottoway

128,000

Pittsylvania

193,000

Other Southside Counties

253,000

 

 

HAMPTON ROADS

 

Brunswick

364,000

Dinwiddie

553,000

Greensville

353,000

Isle of Wight

728,000

Prince George

437,000

Southampton

992,000

Surry

592,000

Chesapeake

887,000

Suffolk City

898,000

Virginia Beach

454,000

Other HRVA Counties

1,459,000

 

 

TOTAL

25,960,000

###

Sen. Warner met with ARC Co-Chair last month in his Senate office in Washington

 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Tim Thomas, President Trump’s nominee to be the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission: 

I was proud to support Mr. Thomas’ nomination to lead federal efforts to foster economic development in Appalachia,” said Sen. Warner. “Despite the Administration’s attempt to defund the Appalachian Regional Commission, I worked with my colleagues on a bipartisan funding agreement this week that just increased its funding by $3 million—the highest level approved in decades. Now that he has been confirmed as its co-chair, I trust Mr. Thomas will carry out his duties with a clear focus on expanding economic opportunities in the region and I look forward to working together to achieve this.” 

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that has invested in 25,000 projects across Appalachia’s 420 counties. For more than fifty years, ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia.

A bipartisan Congressional budget agreement passed by Congress this week included a $3 million increase in additional funding for ARC, for a total of $155 million in FY18. In his budget plan, President Trump had proposed eliminating funding for the ARC entirely. In response, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan coalition of Senators who represent Appalachian states called on President Trump to reverse his proposal to zero out funding for this important federal-state partnership. In 2017 alone, Sen. Warner announced over $7 million in ARC grant funding for projects in Virginia’s Appalachian counties.

Sen. Warner serves as a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Appalachia Initiative, which has laid out a roadmap for bipartisan legislation to jumpstart economic growth in the region. He has introduced bipartisan legislation to support and encourage public-private partnerships in Appalachia that improve regional infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurship, and create jobs.  

Mr. Thomas served on the state staff of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a field representative based in the Senator’s Bowling Green office. A native Kentuckian, Thomas previously served in the administration of former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher as a special assistant to the secretary of the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet, handling matters including legislative initiatives for the agency, according to the ARC In a meeting last month, Sen. Warner and Thomas discussed their shared priorities for Appalachia, including workforce development and combatting the opioid crisis.

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced bipartisan legislation to help local communities in Appalachia expand economic opportunity. The Appalachia Opportunity Act establishes a $100 million annual grant program to support and encourage public-private partnerships in Appalachia that will improve regional infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurship, and create jobs.  

While federal-state partnerships like the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) have made great strides at helping the region modernize and adapt to economic shifts over the last several decades, the federal government and states are still largely tasked with selecting which of these projects receive funding. This bipartisan bill establishes a competitive grant program that would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to incentivize local communities to engage in public-private partnerships that would advance local economic development projects. At $100 million annually, the new grant program would nearly double the level of federal funding specifically set aside for expanding economic development in Appalachia. The funds will come from the Dislocated Worker Reserve Fund, a program that provides assistance to dislocated workers who are disproportionately impacted by large layoffs and natural disasters.

“You shouldn’t have to leave your hometown to find a high-paying job and get a world-class education,” said Sen. Warner. “But Southwest Virginia and other parts of Appalachia have been hit hard by economic shifts of the last several decades. While there’s no magic formula that will fix all of the economic problems facing rural communities overnight, the federal government can and should do more to support homegrown initiatives that will expand economic opportunities in the region. This bipartisan bill incentivizes the private sector to make long-term investments in Appalachia, and encourages rural communities to experiment with new and innovative ways to create and attract 21st century jobs.”

“Federal investments and partnerships with local leaders are both critical in helping prepare Appalachian economies and communities for the future,”said Sen. Capito. “As we continue efforts to give our communities the tools they need to grow and prosper, encouraging collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors is key for ensuring success and sustainability in the region. This bill will encourage cooperation and help deliver critical new resources for economic development in West Virginia and all of Appalachia.”

“Last fall I teamed up with several Senators from the Appalachian region to co-chair The Appalachia Initiative, and today I am excited to continue our important work to tackle the unique needs facing Appalachian communities,” said Sen. Manchin. “Rural communities in West Virginia are facing some tough challenges and grant programs like this will help foster the public-private partnerships needed to get local projects off the ground. This bipartisan bill is part of a comprehensive effort to help drive pragmatic, locally driven efforts to spur economic progress in Appalachian communities.”  

“Over the past 50 years, targeted federal investments through the Appalachian Regional Commission have been a driving force for economic development and job creation in North Mississippi and greater Appalachia,” said Sen. Wicker. “This new program would provide additional competitive funding to spur long-term private investment and develop critical infrastructure, making a difference in the lives of the millions of people who call the region home.”

For ten years, the bill would provide $100 million annually to the Appalachia Innovation Program to fund ideas generated by local Appalachian communities. In order to be eligible for these grants, communities will convene public-private teams to collaborate on projects that increase economic growth and education in the Appalachian region. Teams will include representatives from local economic development boards, private companies and associations, and regional institutions of higher learning, including technical schools, community colleges, or four-year institutions. 

In order to encourage collaboration across localities and improve the economy for the whole region, projects are required to involve at least two bordering counties, and have access to additional sources of funding representing at least 10 percent of the project’s overall cost, either through local matching funds or private sector investment. To be eligible, projects must also have a measurable economic impact, and seek to do at least one of the following:  

  • Create jobs 
  • Expand regional capacity of post-secondary education
  • Grow tourism rates 
  • Benefit public health 
  • Upgrade regional infrastructure 

“BPC Action applauds the introduction of the Appalachia Opportunity Grants Act, which contains recommendations from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Appalachia Initiative. This bill responds to the economic challenges in Appalachia by offering a bipartisan approach to advance prosperity and accelerate growth for more than 25 million people that call this region home,” said Jason Grumet, President of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

"This is indeed a great day for the Appalachian Region. The bill almost doubles the resources dedicated to this region and will go a long way toward growing a viable future for the people of Appalachia.  The structure is a direct linkage to federal funding for local people to solve their economic challenges with their own solutions. I applaud this long overdue effort,” said Thomas M. Hunter, Former Executive Director of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“The Appalachia Opportunity Act will provide important resources to spur economic growth throughout the region. We thank Senator Warner for his leadership and applaud his ability to gain bipartisan support for his proposal. We look forward to participating in the public-private collaborative process that will identify worthy projects and work to realize the jobs they’ll bring for our people,” said Christian T. Beam, President & COO Appalachian Power Co.

“The UMWA supports every opportunity for economically devastated communities throughout Appalachia to revitalize themselves while increasing badly needed employment opportunities. The Appalachia Opportunity Act will help jump-start this process, and we wholeheartedly support it,” said Cecil E. Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). 

“What an exciting outcome of our work on the BPC task force! This grant program will have a tangible impact on economic development across the regions of Appalachia. The focus on grant allocations to teams of public and private groups for collaboration on regional projects has great potential to create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship, and expand the regional capacity of higher education. I support the Appalachia Opportunity Act and look forward to its impact on the future UVa-Wise,” said Dr. Donna Price Henry, Chancellor of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Sens. Warner and Manchin, along with Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), are co-chairs of the bipartisan Appalachia Initiative, a task force convened with the Bipartisan Policy Center to find pragmatic, bipartisan solutions to Appalachia’s challenges. Last year, they released a report with a set of bipartisan recommendations to boost economic growth in Appalachia.

A summary of the legislation can be found here. Full bill text can be found here

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that Virginia localities and organizations in Alexandria, Danville, Chesapeake and Harrisonburg will receive $2,301,433 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The grants will help these entities hire or retain service coordinators to assist public housing residents in finding jobs and educational opportunities, and achieving economic and housing independence.

“These funds will strengthen Virginia communities and improve quality of life for public housing residents,” said the Senators. “This investment will help residents obtain higher paying jobs so they can be self-sufficient and regain financial independence.”

The funding, provided through HUD’s Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency – Service Coordinators Program (ROSS-SC) helps grantees hire or retain "service coordinators" who work directly with residents to assess their needs and connect them with education, job training and placement programs, and/or computer and financial literacy services available in their community to promote self-sufficiency. 

A list of grant recipients and amounts is included below:

  • Can I Live, Inc. (Alexandria) - $940,033
  • Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority - $246,000
  • Cardinal Village Tenant Association, Inc. (Danville) - $231,000
  • Pleasant View Tenant Association, Inc. (Danville) - $231,000
  • Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority - $231,000
  • Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority - $246,000
  • Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority - $176,400

The purpose of HUD’s ROSS-SC program is to encourage innovative and locally driven strategies that link public housing assistance with public and private resources to enable HUD-assisted families to increase earned income; reduce or eliminate their need for welfare assistance; and promote economic independence and housing self-sufficiency. These grants provide funding to hire and retain Service Coordinators who will assess the needs of residents of conventional Public Housing or Indian housing and coordinate available resources in the community to meet those needs. In addition, ROSS-SC grants help improve living conditions for seniors, enabling them to age-in-place.

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WASHINGTON –  U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released a statement on today’s White House nomination of Thomas T. Cullen to serve as United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia:

“Tom Cullen is an experienced federal prosecutor who has practiced in North Carolina and Virginia. He will make an excellent U.S. Attorney, and we are proud to support his nomination to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District,” said the Senators. 

Cullen was one of two candidates recommended to the White House by Sens. Warner and Kaine in July. Cullen’s nomination was supported by a panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth selected by Sens. Warner and Kaine to interview all candidates who applied for the position.

Mr. Cullen is currently a Principal/Partner at Woods Rogers PLC in Roanoke, where his practice focuses on white-collar defense and government investigations. He entered the private sector following a career with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District, where he served as Deputy Criminal Chief at the request of former U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy. Mr. Cullen previously served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also served as an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force prosecutor during his time in Charlotte. Mr. Cullen began his legal career as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne in the Eastern District, followed by a clerkship with Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Mr. Cullen received his law degree from William and Mary School of Law in 2004 where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif and a B.A. cum laude from Furman University.

The Western District of Virginia has offices in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Abingdon, Lynchburg, Danville, Big Stone Gap and Harrisonburg.

 

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