Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today requested additional funding for vital improvements to Interstate 81 (I-81) that would enhance safety and reduce traffic congestion.

In a pair of letters to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Senators emphasized I-81’s crucial role in commerce along the East Coast and stressed the need for federal dollars to tackle necessary repairs to the highway. The Senators also encouraged DOT to approve an application from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for federal grant funding to improve I-81, reduce congestion, and address safety problems along the route.

“While improvements have been made in past years to keep up with the growth, I-81 continues to experience heavy congestion and dangerous conditions, which have degraded the corridor,” the Senators wrote in the letter of support to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao. “The proposal put forth by VDOT will undoubtedly transform and improve the lives of many Virginians who travel the interstate every day. Furthermore, upgrades and repairs will improve the safety of those traveling through the Commonwealth.”

The Senators also encouraged the leaders of the EPW Committee to include robust funding for high-priority interstate improvement projects such as I-81 in the next surface transportation bill.

“As you continue to draft the surface transportation reauthorization bill, we urge you to include as much funding as possible for major, high priority interstate improvements projects such as I-81 in Virginia,” the Senators wrote to the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Robust funding through formula programs, as well as additional competitive grant programs like BUILD and INFRA, will be necessary to achieve funding goals for this, and other major projects that involve improvements to hundreds of miles of major interstate arteries.”

More than one-third of all trucks that drive through Virginia and approximately half of the Commonwealth’s value of goods are transported along I-81. In the last decade, I-81 has experienced significant traffic growth, with travel expected to continue increasing along the interstate. Increased I-81 traffic causes severe travel delays and puts travelers at risk, including the drivers involved in the more than 2,000 crashes that happen annually along the route.

A recent study by VDOT that found an unmet need of about $4 billion in improvements along the interstate – only half of which is expected to be covered by the increased truck registration fees and gas tax increases approved by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime advocates of robust financing for the Commonwealth’s infrastructure. In May, the Senators introduced legislation to provide critical safety reforms and strengthen oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Additionally, earlier this year, Sen. Warner introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic stimulus.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s decision to scrap plans to transfer Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the Department of Labor (DOL) and close nine Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers – including the Flatwoods Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Coeburn, a top performing center: 

“Job training facilities like Flatwoods are critical to prepare Virginians for success in our economy. It’s welcome news that following our bipartisan calls for the Trump Administration to reverse course on their misguided proposal, they listened and will keep the Flatwoods facility open. We are thrilled that Flatwoods will be able to keep expanding economic opportunities in Southwest Virginia.”

Following the initial USDA and DOL announcement that the Flatwoods Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Coeburn and eight other Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers were scheduled to close as part of the program’s transfer from USDA to DOL, Senators Warner and Kaine introduced legislation to prevent the Trump Administration from closing these facilities. The bipartisan Job Corps Protection Act would block the Administration from using federal government funds in 2019 or 2020 to close any Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers in the United States. The Senators also joined Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) in writing a letter urging DOL and USDA to reconsider the closure of these facilities. Separately, Warner and Kaine joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of 18 Senators and 33 Representatives in pushing USDA and DOL to reverse their decision to end the Civilian Conservation Center program in its current form and shutter nine facilities across the nation.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) along with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) met in Sen. Kaine’s office in Washington, D.C. with a delegation representing Lee County Hospital. The meeting included representatives from the Lee County Hospital Authority, the Virginia Department of Health, and Ballad Health, who spoke with the members of Congress about next steps in the process of reopening the Lee County Hospital.

“Folks in Lee County and in rural communities across Virginia deserve to have access to the health care services they need,” said the members of Congress. “Rural hospitals face unique challenges, but in our meeting, the delegation from Lee County laid out a plan for how we can get this done. We are cautiously optimistic that this six-year effort is reaching the finish line and we plan to do everything in our power at the federal level to get the Lee County Hospital reopened next year.”

In 2013, the Lee County hospital – then known as the Lee County Regional Medical Center – closed abruptly, leaving the county without access to a nearby hospital. This closure hurt economic development in the area and affected public safety, as patients were forced to wait longer for medical care, and community sheriffs and fire squads spent valuable time escorting individuals across county and state lines to other hospitals.

In February of 2019, Lee County Hospital Authority chose Ballad Health as a partner and announced its intent to reopen the hospital, which will focus on treating chronic problems as well as providing much-needed emergency medical care and other typical hospital services. It will also provide a line of ancillary services to meet various community needs.

Last July, Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with Rep. Griffith, met with the Lee County Hospital Authority and key stakeholders to facilitate the reopening of the hospital. Additionally, earlier this year, Sens. Warner and Kaine introduced legislation that would benefit hospitals in medically underserved areas like Lee County, where patients are more likely to be uninsured and hospitals have struggled to stay afloat financially. The States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019 would allow states that expanded Medicaid after 2014 to receive the same level of federal matching funds as states that expanded earlier, and according to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, it would save Virginia’s hospitals an estimated $300 million per year in the first three years of implementation.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today applauded an announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the City of Charlottesville and the Town of Pulaski will receive federal assistance to support revitalization strategies that improve quality of life and help develop each community’s local food economy. This assistance comes from Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) – a federal initiative designed to support communities seeking to improve access to nutritious foods, boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, preserve open space and farmland, protect air and water quality, and promote childhood wellness. 

“With an estimated 1 million Virginians living in food deserts, we are thrilled to know that Charlottesville and Pulaski will be receiving federal help to develop plans that increase food access for families,” said the Senators. “We look forward to seeing these communities continue to build healthier, stronger neighborhoods.”

Charlottesville and Pulaski were two of 15 communities selected nationwide out of a pool of more than 70 applications. In Charlottesville, the Charlottesville Food Justice Network plans to develop an integrated strategy to use affordable food markets and urban agriculture to advance food equity in low-income neighborhoods. Additionally, the Town of Pulaski plans to use this assistance to explore the effects of increased food access and healthy living programs on ongoing downtown revitalizations. 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long stressed the importance of providing better resources to low-income, rural and urban communities who have limited or no access to nutritious foods. In March, Sen. Warner introduced the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act (HFAAA) – legislation to incentivize food service providers like grocers, retailers, and nonprofits to expand access to nutritious foods in underserved communities. Additionally, earlier this year Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with a group of 45 other Senators urged the Trump administration to rescind a proposed rule that would take away nutrition benefits from Americans struggling to find stable employment. Last month, Sen. Kaine visited Pulaski to hear about ongoing economic revitalization.

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with Southwest Virginia coal miners from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) at his office in Washington, D.C. During the meeting, Sen. Warner stressed the need to pass the American Miners Act, legislation he sponsored that would permanently protect the healthcare and pension benefits for thousands of Virginia’s retired coal miners and their families.

The bill will also protect healthcare coverage for 500 Virginia miners who are at risk of losing their benefits due to the 2018 bankruptcy of Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co., which previously operated in Wise County, VA. During the meeting, miners and union representatives told Sen. Warner that Westmoreland miner benefits are currently expected to run out no later than October.

The Westmoreland miners’ healthcare benefits are about to run out, and that’s a crisis for these miners and their families,” said Sen. Warner. “Southwest Virginia’s retired coal miners worked hard to power this country, and the least we can do is make sure they’re able to retire with the pensions and benefits they earned. The American Miners Actwould protect the hard-earned benefits these miners and their families count on, while also making sure we’ve got the resources necessary to address the black lung outbreak in coal country.”

“For some of the miners in my local, people are going to start falling beneath the poverty line if Congress doesn’t do something,” said Gary Kennedy, a retired UMWA mine worker from Appalachia, VA who worked in Westmoreland’s Bullitt Mine. “For some people, it’s going to mean the difference between ‘Do you eat three times a day?’ or ‘do you eat twice?’ ‘Do you pay the power bill?’ ‘or ‘do you buy prescriptions?’ That’s what it’s going to mean.”

Currently, the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan is on the road to insolvency due to coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis. The American Miners Act of 2019 will shore up the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan to make sure that 87,000 current beneficiaries and an additional 20,000 retirees who have vested won’t lose the pensions they have paid into for decades. In Virginia alone, there are approximately 7,000 pensioners who are at risk of losing their benefits if Congress does not act.

In May 2017, Sen. Warner worked with several colleagues to pass bipartisan legislation to protect healthcare for retired miners – including more than 10,000 miners and their families in Virginia – who were orphaned by coal bankruptcies. But the recent Westmoreland bankruptcy has endangered health care benefits for additional miners and dependents – including 500 people in Virginia. This legislation will extend the fix to ensure that miners who are at risk due to 2018 coal company bankruptcies will not lose their healthcare.

Lastly, the bill also calls for an extension of the tax that finances medical treatment and basic expenses for miners suffering from black lung. The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was established in 1978 to pay benefits to disabled miners suffering from black lung disease when the coal company responsible for paying benefits is bankrupt, closed or otherwise not able to pay. More than 25,000 coal miners and their dependents rely on the fund. The fund, which due to a variety of factors is currently more than $4 billion in debt, is supported by an excise tax that was cut in half at the end of 2018. The American Miners Act of 2019 will extend the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund tax at $1.10 per ton of underground-mined coal and $0.55 per ton of surface-mined coal for ten years. You can read his Bristol Herald Courier op-ed on the legislation here.

Sen. Warner is a strong advocate for coal miners and their families. In August 2018, he introduced and passed into law legislation to improve early detection and treatment of black lung disease among coal miners. 

The American Miners Act of 2019 is also sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Bob Casey (D-PA). For more information on the American Miners Act of 2019, click here.

  

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to introduce the Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More (RECLAIM) Act of 2019 to provide opportunities for coal reclamation and economic development in communities impacted by the downturn in the coal industry.

“As technologies evolve and our economy changes, we cannot forget about the coal mining communities that for years fueled our nation. The RECLAIM Act reiterates our economic commitment to these mining communities by fast-tracking the release of $1 billion from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund and using it to fund projects that reinvigorate communities, promote economic growth and counteract the environmental effects of coal mining locally,” said Warner

"Mine reclamation supports hundreds of jobs in Virginia each year, strengthens our economy, and helps clean up the environment,” said Kaine. “This bill would let money already sitting in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund be used to boost economic development in coal communities.”

The RECLAIM Act of 2019 releases $1 billion from the remaining, unappropriated balance in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to states to be spent on reclamation projects in communities impacted by abandoned mine lands (AML) and the recent decrease in coal mining production. The RECLAIM Act will also require states to carry out reclamation projects that will create favorable conditions for economic development.

These projects must be conducted in areas that have been adversely affected by a reduction in coal mining related activity and/or in communities that have traditionally relied on coal mining for a substantial portion of their economy.  Under the RECLAIM Act, $195 million will be distributed to uncertified states and tribes with approved AML programs each year from Fiscal Year 2020 to 2024. 

Virginia has over 71,000 acres of land that has been impacted by coal mining. It is estimated that it would take approximately 55 years at the current rate of funding and reclamation construction to reclaim Abandoned Mine Land sites in the Commonwealth. The estimated price tag for reclamation is over $313 million. The RECLAIM Act would provide additional funding to the Virginia Abandoned Mine Land program and help speed up reclamation efforts in Southwest Virginia.

To learn more about the RECLAIM Act click here and to read the full bill text click here.

 

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with miners from the United Mine Workers of America at his office in Washington, D.C.

In the meeting, Sen. Warner stressed the need to pass the American Miners Act, legislation he sponsored that would permanently protect the healthcare and pension benefits for thousands of Virginia’s retired coal miners and their families. The bill will also protect healthcare coverage for 500 Virginia miners who are at risk of losing their benefits due to the 2018 bankruptcy of Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co, which previously operated in Wise County, VA.

“Southwest Virginia’s retired miners worked hard their entire careers to power this country, and the least we can do is make sure they’re able to retire with the pensions and benefits they earned,” said Sen. Warner. “Frankly, this is a crisis for the 500 Virginians who stand to lose their benefits in the near future. The American Miners Act would protect the hard-earned benefits these families and thousands more across the Commonwealth count on, while also taking needed action to address the black lung outbreak facing coal country.” 

Currently, the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan is on the road to insolvency due to coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis. The American Miners Act of 2019 will shore up the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan to make sure that 87,000 current beneficiaries and an additional 20,000 retirees who have vested won’t lose the pensions they have paid into for decades. In Virginia alone, there are approximately 7,000 pensioners who are at risk of losing their benefits if Congress does not act. 

In May 2017, Sen. Warner worked with several colleagues to pass bipartisan legislation to protect healthcare for retired miners – including more than 10,000 miners and their families in Virginia – who were orphaned by coal bankruptcies. But the recent Westmoreland bankruptcy has endangered health care benefits for additional miners and dependents – including 500 people in Virginia. This legislation will extend the fix to ensure that miners who are at risk due to 2018 coal company bankruptcies will not lose their healthcare. 

Lastly, the bill also calls for an extension of the tax that finances medical treatment and basic expenses for miners suffering from black lung. The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was established in 1978 to pay benefits to disabled miners suffering from black lung disease when the coal company responsible for paying benefits is bankrupt, closed or otherwise not able to pay. More than 25,000 coal miners and their dependents rely on the fund. The fund, which due to a variety of factors is currently more than $4 billion in debt, is supported by an excise tax that was cut in half at the end of 2018. The American Miners Act of 2019 will extend the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund tax at $1.10 per ton of underground-mined coal and $0.55 per ton of surface-mined coal for ten years.

Sen. Warner is a strong advocate for coal miners and their families. In August 2018, he introduced and passed into law legislation to improve early detection and treatment of black lung disease among coal miners. 

The American Miners Act of 2019 is also sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Bob Casey (D-PA). For more information on the American Miners Act of 2019, click here.

  

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for awarding $2,296,533 in federal funding to communities in Southwest Virginia through its Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) program. 

“We are thrilled to support this economic investment in Southwest Virginia,” the Senators said. “This funding aims to stimulate the local economy by promoting job growth, increasing access to capital, and supporting local businesses.” 

The funding will be awarded as follows: 

  • Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) in Abingdon, VA will receive $1,250,000 to enhance a multi-state food network across Appalachia through mediation between private industry and small-scale farmers, fostering aggregation and distribution opportunities. It will increase the region’s produce supply, attracting more regional and national buyers to purchase local produce. It is anticipated that the project will improve 238 businesses, create 38 new businesses and 85 jobs, and leverage $732,666 of private investment.
  • People Incorporated Financial Services (PIFS) in Abingdon, VA will receive $486,769 for the New Market Tax Credit Project – Growth in Appalachia. This funding will allow PIFS to focus on providing technical assistance and advisory services to start-up and emerging businesses, local government and community based organizations. PIFS anticipates this will create a minimum of 50 jobs and leverage $10 million in new capital into local communities.
  • Bland County will receive $459,764 for the Bland County Broadband Deployment Project to construct a 33 mile fiber run that will be used to supply broadband to 37 businesses, Bland County Schools, the Board of Education Offices and the Bland County Health Clinic.
  • Friends of Southwest Virginia in Abingdon, VA will receive $100,000 for a multi-state plan that would develop common natural and cultural assets that can boost regional economic diversification. This process will bridge communities in Southwest Virginia with their neighbors in North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky, to create a community-driven identification and planning process.

The ARC’s POWER Initiative provides grants to communities that have been affected by severe job losses in the coal industry and the changing dynamics of America’s energy production. ARC's mission is to innovate, partner, and invest in the growth of new industries in Appalachia to diversify the region’s economy. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia. 

 

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WASHINGTON – On the Senate floor today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) urged his Senate colleagues to support bipartisan legislation that would provide back pay to low- and middle-income federal contractors who otherwise will never see the 35 days’ worth of wages they missed during the partial government shutdown. 

In his remarks, Sen. Warner recalled various conversations he had with furloughed contractors and federal workers during the shutdown and highlighted the lingering consequences that continue to affect federal families. He also cited a recent survey that found that as a result of the shutdown, 62 percent of federal workers depleted all or most of their savings, 42 percent were forced to take on new debt and 25 percent tapped into their retirement savings. 

Additionally, Sen. Warner stressed the importance of ensuring that the government stays open and called on Congress to override the President Trump’s veto if the President decides to once again shut down the government.

 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) introduced the American Miners Act of 2019, legislation that would secure pensions and healthcare benefits for our nation’s retired coal miners – including 500 Virginians affected by the recent bankruptcy of a Colorado-based mining company. 

“Congress made a promise in 1946 to protect coal miners after a lifetime of arduous and dangerous work to help power this nation,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation would ensure that we fulfill that promise by protecting retired coal miners across the country, including in Virginia, where roughly 500 miners and their dependents are at risk of losing their healthcare following the bankruptcy of Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Company. This bill will also protect miners’ hard-earned pensions, and makes important changes I’ve been pushing for to defend and strengthen the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which provides healthcare and benefits for thousands of retirees suffering from this deadly disease.” 

“Virginia’s miners earned their pensions and health care benefits after years of difficult and dangerous work to provide us energy,” said Sen. Kaine. “I hope that Congress will quickly act on this legislation and give miners peace of mind.”

Currently, the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan is on the road to insolvency due to coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis. TheAmerican Miners Act of 2019 will shore up the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan to make sure that 87,000 current beneficiaries and an additional 20,000 retirees who have vested won’t lose the pensions they have paid into for decades. In Virginia alone, there are approximately 7,000 pensioners who are at risk of losing their benefits if Congress does not act.

The bill will also protect healthcare coverage for 500 Virginians. In May 2017, Sens. Warner and Kaine secured passage of bipartisan legislation to protect healthcare for retired miners – including more than 10,000 miners and their families in Virginia – who were orphaned by coal bankruptcies. But the 2018 bankruptcy of Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co. has endangered health care benefits for additional miners and dependents – including 500 people in Virginia. Today’s legislation will extend the fix to ensure that miners who are at risk due to 2018 coal company bankruptcies will not lose their healthcare.

Lastly, the bill also calls for an extension of the tax that finances medical treatment and basic expenses for miners suffering from black lung. The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was established in 1978 to pay benefits to disabled miners suffering from black lung disease when the coal company responsible for paying benefits is bankrupt, closed or otherwise not able to pay. More than 25,000 coal miners and their dependents rely on the fund. The fund, which due to a variety of factors is currently more than $4 billion in debt, is supported by an excise tax that automatically expired at the end of 2018. The American Miners Act of 2019 will extend the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund tax at $1.10 per ton of underground-mined coal and $0.55 per ton of surface-mined coal for ten years.

Sens. Warner and Kaine are strong advocates for coal miners and their families. In August 2018, they introduced and passed into law legislation to improve early detection and treatment of black lung disease among coal miners.

The American Miners Act of 2019 is also sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Doug Jones (D-AL) and Bob Casey (D-PA). For more information on the American Miners Act of 2019, click here.

  

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are urging congressional leadership to include in end-of-year legislation an extension of the coal excise tax at current levels for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, the addition of orphan miners from 2018 bankruptcies into the Coal Act, and a permanent fix to ensure the solvency of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1974 Pension Plan.

“Our nation’s coal miners made a commitment to provide our nation with the energy we needed to power our nation to prosperity and they risked their health and lives to do so.  Now is not the time to pull back on funding or abandon our miners in their hour of need.  It is time for us to keep our full promise to them and ensure their benefits are not lost,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Senate and House leaders.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the letter was signed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and U.S. Reps. Matt Cartwright, Conor Lamb, Mike Doyle, Marcia Fudge, Wm. Lacy Clay, Bennie Thompson and Brenda Lawrence.

Sens. Warner and Kaine are strong advocates for coal miners and their families. In August, they introduced and passed into law legislation to improve early detection and treatment of black lung disease among coal miners. Last year, they successfully fought to permanently protect more than 10,000 retired coal miners and their families in Virginia who were in danger of losing their health benefits. Sens. Warner and Kaine are also leading sponsors of the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act to ensure black lung claims are processed fairly and quickly, and of the American Miners Pension Act, which would protect the pensions of more than 7,000 retired Virginia coal miners who are in danger of losing their benefits if the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan becomes insolvent.

 

The full text of the letter to congressional leadership is available here and below: 

 

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi:

We write to ask you to include key assistance for our nation’s miners in end-of-year legislation.  Our nation’s coal miners have done the heavy lifting for our country and, yet, they continually are burdened with fighting for the health care and retirement benefits they have earned over lifetimes of back-breaking work.  We urge you to include an extension of the coal excise tax for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, the addition of orphan miners from 2018 bankruptcies into the Coal Act, and a permanent fix to ensure the solvency of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1974 Pension Plan. 

More than 25,000 coal miners and their dependents rely on the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to pay for critical medical treatment and basic expenses.   These miners dedicated years to working in the coal mines, providing energy for our nation, and are now facing the devastation of coal workers' pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, caused by inhaling coal mine dust.  After their years of service, it is our responsibility to ensure that they have the care and support that they need.  Black lung is a devastating disease.  One pulmonologist described it as “suffocating while alive.”   And it is only getting worse.  We are seeing more and more cases of black lung – particularly the worst form of the disease – and we are seeing it in younger and younger miners who have spent less time in the mines.  That is why we urge you to extend the coal excise tax at current levels before the end of the year.  This important tax, which is set to decrease by 55% without Congressional action, funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.  If the tax is not extended, this already indebted Trust Fund could face borrowing costs of more than $15 billion by 2050. 

Coal company bankruptcies continue to devastate our coal communities, often leaving coal miners without the benefits they were promised.  Due to 2018 coal company bankruptcies, there are approximately 1,200 miners and dependents who will be left without health care in the coming months.  It is imperative that Congress act to ensure these coal miners’ health benefits are protected.

And, we continue to seek a fix to the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan crisis – this fund was well-managed but, as a result of the 2008 financial crisis and ongoing coal bankruptcies, our nation’s retired miners are at risk of losing their hard-earned pension benefits.  In the last two years alone contributions have dropped by more than $100 million, leaving less than $25 million per year still coming in to the Plan.

And, by no fault of their own, these miners are now at risk of losing the modest pensions they earned.  While the average UMWA pension is less than $600 per month, these benefits are critical to so many miners and their families.  We must protect the pensions of these 87,000 current beneficiaries and 20,000 more whose pensions have vested.

If the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan collapses beneficiaries and their dependents will be dropped into the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), destroying that agency and requiring the American taxpayer to foot the bill.  The UMWA 1974 Plan actuaries currently expect the Plan to become insolvent in the 2022-2023 time-frame, however any market downturn will rapidly accelerate insolvency.  The time to act is now. 

Our nation’s coal miners made a commitment to provide our nation with the energy we needed to power our nation to prosperity and they risked their health and lives to do so.  Now is not the time to pull back on funding or abandon our miners in their hour of need.  It is time for us to keep our full promise to them and ensure their benefits are not lost.  

Our miners are the hardest working people in America.  We look forward to working with you to ensure all of these benefits are secured and protected for our nation’s miners. 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $16,557,883 million in federal grant funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for Head Start programs throughout Virginia.

“We’re pleased to announce funding through the Head Start program to support young children across Virginia,” the Senators said. “The Head Start program is important to ensuring that schools and organizations have the resources they need to support early childhood development.”

The following organizations will receive funding: 

·         Lynchburg Community Action Group Inc. will receive $3,344,772.

·         Eastern Shore AAA/CAA in Exmore will receive $1,932,019.

·         People Incorporated of Virginia in Abingdon will receive $4,449,701.

·         Buchanan County Head Start in Grundy will receive $1,463,253.

·         Clinch Valley Community Action, Inc. in Tazewell will receive $1,665,748.

·         Augusta County School Board in Verona will receive $2,257,832.

·         Lee County School District in Jonesville will receive $1,444,558.

 

As Governors and Senators, Warner and Kaine have advocated for investments in early childhood education. Head Start programs promote school readiness for children under 5 years old from low-income families through health, education, family support, and social services.

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $4,799,911 in federal funds to boost broadband access in Southwest Virginia and on the Eastern Shore. The funding, awarded through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Connect Grant Program, will be used to construct and expand broadband access in rural and underserved communities. 

“Broadband access is vital to the economic success of the Commonwealth and the nation,” the Senators said. “These federal funds will help Virginia connect to the digital age while expanding access to healthcare, educational, and job opportunities.” 

The Scott County Telephone Cooperative will receive $3,000,000 to construct a fiber-to-the home broadband system that will provide internet access to 554 households and 20 businesses in Scott County, Virginia. A community center will also be established where residents will have free access to computers and WiFi. 

Eastern Shore Communications, LLC will receive $1,799,911 to construct a broadband fiber fixed-wireless high-speed network capable of servicing residents of Chincoteague, Wallops Island, Accomac, Exmore, Cape Charles, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk with speeds of at least 25 megabits downstream and 3 megabits upstream. 

Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of expanding broadband access in Virginia as Governors and Senators. In February, Warner and Kaine joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to urge President Trump to include broadband in an infrastructure initiative.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $239,490.47 in federal funding to support organizations in Charlottesville and Roanoke in their efforts to alleviate substandard housing problems for low-income households. The funding was awarded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development’s Housing Preservation Grant Program.

“We’re pleased to announce funding to support repair and rehabilitation efforts for 75 households in Charlottesville, Roanoke, and Southwest Virginia. This funding will help make needed housing updates for low-income individuals and families,” the Senators said.

The following organizations will receive funding as follows:

  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District in Charlottesville will receive $119,745.24 to alleviate substandard housing problems in the area. The funding will supplement and enhance planned rehabilitation efforts to assist 35 households.
  • Renovation Alliance in Roanoke will receive $119,745.23 to alleviate substandard housing problems for 40 very-low income households in the Counties of Roanoke, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, and Franklin in Southwest Virginia.

 The USDA’s Housing Preservation Grant Program provides grants to organizations supporting the repair and rehabilitation of housing owned or occupied by low- and very-low income rural households.

 

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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, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine praised grant funding for communities in Southwest Virginia through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)’s Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) program, totaling $3,417,315.

“We are thrilled to support this economic investment in Southwest Virginia. This funding aims to support projects that will spur economic opportunity and create jobs across the region,” the Senators said. 

The funding will be awarded as follows: 

  • Virginia Community Capital in Christiansburg, VA will receive $2,500,000 to strengthen Central Appalachia’s economy and accelerate market development through Impact Appalachia: A Market-Making Fund for Central Appalachia. The funding will be used to support business development and advance emerging sectors in Central Appalachia, including communities in Virginia. Impact Appalachia will launch an investment fund to raise and deploy capital to expand infrastructure and invest in job-creating businesses that build local wealth and increase quality jobs.
  • LENOWISCO Planning District Commission in Duffield, VA will receive $917,315 for Project Intersection, a new 200-acre industrial site in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. LENOWISCO will partner with Norton Industrial Development Authority and Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority to develop the site into a regional industrial and business hub. The goal is to foster diversification and rejuvenation of the regional economy and lure private investment as well as new employment opportunities. Estimates suggest that the initial phase of development will create 75 jobs and an initial private capital investment of $10 million. Project Intersection is situated at the junction of U.S. Highways 23 and 58A, with the highest cumulative non-Interstate traffic volume in far Southwest Virginia.

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated more than 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. 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 under development. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Warner and Kaine have continued to be advocates for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia. As Governor, Warner helped establish Virginia Community Capital (VCC) as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with an initial $15 million investment, with the goal of leveraging that initial investment for an economic return to underserved areas.

The ARC’s POWER Initiative provides grants to communities that have been affected by severe job losses in the coal industry and the changing dynamics of America’s energy production. These grants facilitate the growth of new industries in Appalachia and support job training and educational programs that help grow and diversify the region’s economy.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has approved $500,000 in grant funding for the Blue Ridge Discovery Center (BRDC), a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, discovering, and sharing the natural history of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The ARC funding will go towards renovating the former Luther Konnarock Training School that will serve as a location for educational programs centered on the biodiversity of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Within three years of the project’s completion, BRDC expects to host 95 programs that will serve nearly 4,000 participants and receive more than 2,500 visitors annually.

“Southwest Virginia is known for its biodiversity and abundance of natural resources,” said the Senators. “We are pleased to announce these federal dollars that will increase local tourism and continue to spur economic opportunity.”

ARC project grants are awarded to local and state government entities and non-profits. The ARC funds are then matched by local funding sources. In addition to the ARC funds, local sources will provide $1,750,000, bringing the total project funding to $2,250,000. 

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated more than 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. 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. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Sens. Warner and Kaine have continued to advocate for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia.  

  

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has approved $392,588 in grant funding to the Town of Narrows, Va.

 The ARC funding will go towards a series of projects designed to improve the waterfront business district, including the development of a new multi-use 1,425 linear trail along Wolf Creek that will generate increased revenues to ten local businesses. Additionally, the funding will also help the town acquire a vacant warehouse to establish an outfitter post to spur recreational tourism.

“Southwest Virginia is known for its wide variety of outdoor recreation activities, which are an important economic driver for the region,” said the Senators. “We are pleased to announce these federal dollars that will increase local tourism and continue to spur economic opportunity.”

ARC project grants are awarded to local and state government entities and non-profits. The ARC funds are then matched by local funding sources. In addition to the ARC funds, local sources will provide $392,775, bringing the total project funding to $785,363. 

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated more than 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. 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. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Sens. Warner and Kaine have continued to advocate for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia.    

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WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that nine Virginia airports will receive a total of $10,669,159 in federal funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

“We are pleased to announce these funds that will allow Virginia airports to make the necessary improvements to ensure safer travel to and from the Commonwealth,” the Senators said. “This federal funding will not only help to revitalize our airports, but will also help boost tourism across Virginia.”

Airports and project amounts are listed below:

  • Norfolk International Airport—$5,974,019. These funds will go towards rehabilitating Concourse A and to help construct a 5,000 square foot general aviation customs inspection facility.
  • Tappahannock-Essex Airport—$274,050. These funds will go towards an environmental study to evaluate any potential environmental impacts related to the proposed extension of the parallel taxiway and a non-aeronautical development area identified on the airport's layout plan.
  • New Kent County Airport—$991,901. These funds will help to rehabilitate 24,000 square yards of the existing terminal apron pavement.
  • Washington Dulles International Airport—$492,188. These funds will go towards acquiring 75 Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) squitter units for airport ground vehicles to improve surface situational awareness and safety. ADS–B is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked.
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport— $492,188. These funds will go towards acquiring 75 Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) squitter units for airport ground vehicles to improve surface situational awareness and safety. ADS–B is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked.
  • Louisa County/Freeman Field Airport—$346,500. These funds will help the construction of perimeter fences to deter unauthorized persons and vehicles from entering onto the airfield, thereby increasing airport safety.
  • Ingalls Field Airport (Bath County, VA)$81,000. These funds will help to construct a 360 square foot hangar building to assist the airport in being revenue-generating and in turn self-sustaining. Funds will also go towards construction of a similarly sized snow removal equipment building that will help extend the life of the equipment by protecting it from adverse weather conditions.
  • Luray Caverns Airport—$184,230. These funds will go towards the construction of a 12,500 square yard terminal apron to provide aircraft parking.
  • Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional/Woodrum Field Airport—$1,833,083. These funds will go towards the implementation of additional security enhancements.

The funding was awarded through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program within DOT. The program supports infrastructure improvement projects at airports across the country, including runways, taxiways, aprons, terminals, aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles, and snow removal equipment. Sens. Warner and Kaine have long fought for funding for Virginia’s airports and pushed back against the Trump Administration’s suggested budget cuts to DOT to ensure that critical upgrades like these can happen. The Senate is expected to consider a long-term FAA reauthorization measure in the coming weeks.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner today introduced bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), to boost participation in federal programs that detect and treat black lung disease among coal miners.

According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health, cases of black lung are at a 25-year high in Appalachian coal mining states, with as many as one in five underground coal miners in the region having evidence of black lung. In order to address this worsening public health crisis, Sen. Warner has filed an amendment to the defense, labor, health and education spending package currently under consideration on the floor of the U.S. Senate aiming to improve the participation rate of coal miners in federal health surveillance programs that detect and treat black lung. Specifically, the amendment requires the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to submit a report to Congress on ways to boost outreach efforts to increase participation in the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP) and to identify barriers that deter miners with black lung from accessing treatment. CWHSP is a national program that offers free health screening services to coal miners, including chest X-rays, lung function testing, respiratory health assessment questionnaires, and extended health surveillance. However, the current national participation rate in CWHSP is approximately 35 percent among active miners and even lower among retirees.

“Black lung is a deadly disease, but the earlier it’s detected, the better the outcomes are. Underground coal miners help keep the heat and the lights on, but often at a significant cost to their own health. By improving outreach efforts, we can make sure that more miners are getting screened so we can catch cases of black lung early, and make sure that they can get the treatment they need,” said Sen. Warner.

“West Virginia coal miners have worked tirelessly for decades to keep industries and communities in this country moving,”Sen. Capito said. “These resources dedicated to the early detection of black lung could be life-saving for thousands of hardworking West Virginians. Amazing work is being done in this area by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Respiratory Health Division in Morgantown, and I am honored to help that work continue and provide assistance to those who have given so much to our state.” 

“Virginia’s coal miners have worked for decades, often at the expense of their own health, to keep the country’s lights on, and we owe it to them to ensure they’re aware of their options to access black lung detection and treatment resources,”said Sen. Kaine.

“Coal miners sacrifice a lot to keep our lights on, heat our homes, and power our businesses, including their own health. Black lung cases are at a 25-year high and with today’s technology and our knowledge of this disease, that is simply unacceptable. Our amendment will make sure more miners participate in early detection so we can catch it and treat it quicker. The health and safety of our miners should always be our number one priority and I will be fighting for this amendment to be included in the final spending bill,” Sen. Manchin said.

“No worker should have to sacrifice their health and safety on the job to provide for their family,” said Sen. Casey. “Black lung claims too many lives but the earlier it’s detected the better chance individuals have fighting its impact. We owe it to our nation’s miners to put in place policies that help detect and prevent this fatal disease.”  

“Ohio miners put their health at risk to power our country. Finding ways to increase outreach and miner participation in the screenings that help prevent and manage conditions like black lung is the least we can do,” said Sen. Brown.

“Eliminating barriers to participation in the Coal Worker’s Health Surveillance Program is a strong first step towards improving the health and wellness of active and retired coal miners in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This amendment will assist Congress in determining how to improve the Program, thereby enabling it to best serve miners. The amendment could also lead to better participation in the Surveillance Program, help save lives, improve early identification of black lung, and ultimately improve health outcomes for current and future health center patients throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. We support this amendment to H.R. 6157 and encourage its inclusion in the final version of the appropriations package,” said Rick Shinn, Virginia Community Healthcare Association, Director of Government Affairs.

“The NIOSH Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program is vital to the detection of Black Lung Disease. Ensuring Program access to as many active and non-active coal miners as possible will help miners be aware of their health status, reduce continued exposure to harmful dust, and seek treatment as early as possible. This amendment will assist Congress in determining how to improve the Program, thereby enabling it to best serve miners,” said James L. Werth, Jr., PhD, Stone Mountain Health Services, Black Lung Program Director.

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for coal miners and their families. In 2017, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act to ensure black lung claims are processed fairly and quickly, and he has pushed for more funding for black lung health clinics in Virginia. In December, he joined several of his colleagues in urging Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta to keep the Respirable Dust Rule to protect mine safety and miners health. Last year, Sen. Warner successfully fought to permanently protect more than 10,000 retired coal miners and their families in Virginia who were in danger of losing their health benefits. He has also introduced the American Miners Pension Act, which would protect the pensions of more than 7,000 retired Virginia coal miners who are in danger of losing their benefits if the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan becomes insolvent.

 

Text of Sen. Warner’s amendment is available here.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $75,000 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support small businesses and job creation in rural Southwest Virginia communities affected by changes in the coal industry. The funds were awarded to Virginia Community Capital, Inc., which will provide technical assistance – such as one-on-one counseling, education, and workshops – to a minimum of ten small businesses in order to help them succeed and grow. 

“As the nation’s economy continues to recover, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure struggling communities aren’t left behind,”said the Senators. “That is why we’re pleased to announce these critical federal dollars to help small businesses in Southwest Virginia receive tools they need to thrive in a 21st century economy.”

Today’s announcement is expected to result in the creation or retention of 15 jobs in rural communities that were impacted by a shift in coal production. The funding was awarded through the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small businesses in rural areas. 

As Governor, Warner help establish Virginia Community Capital (VCC) as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with an initial $15 million investment, with the goal of leveraging that initial investment for an economic return to underserved areas. Since its inception, VCC has grown that original investment into more than $1 billion in statewide impact, with VCC-financed projects creating or retaining more than 6,495 jobs across the Commonwealth. In the Senate, Sens. Warner and Kaine have pushed for federal dollars to support rural communities in Southwest Virginia, including fully funding the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration. 

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has approved $500,000 in grant funding for St. Mary’s Health Wagon, a non-profit organization that provides health services to underserved individuals. The funding will be used to construct a new healthcare clinic in Clintwood, Va. that is expected to serve 3,500 uninsured and underinsured patients annually.

“Every year, the Health Wagon helps thousands of Virginians get access to healthcare they otherwise could not afford. As Governors and as Senators, we have been proud to support the important work of the Health Wagon. Worthy projects such as this clinic are why we have fought so hard in Washington to protect funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission. This new facility in Dickenson County will allow the Health Wagon to continue providing health, vision and dental services to underserved patients in Southwest Virginia,” said the Senators. 

“We are so pleased that ARC chose to fund a much-needed construction grant for a brand-new stationary free health clinic in Dickenson County, the county where St. Mary’s Health Wagon began almost forty years ago. The Health Wagon is the region’s only free clinic, serving Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan and Russell Counties and is a medical home to over 10,000 patients. The new free clinic will be located in Clintwood, Virginia, and will bring a variety of new innovative patient resources and economic benefits such as medical tourism and new jobs to the region.  The new clinic will have dedicated optometry, dental, ultrasound and x-ray suites,” said Dr. Teresa Tyson, Health Wagon Executive Director.

The current Health Wagon clinic in Clintwood has only two exam rooms, limiting the ability of physicians to accommodate patient needs. Construction of the new 5,000-square foot clinic will provide additional exam rooms for medical, dental, and vision care services, as well as administrative offices and spaces for x-ray, pharmacy, laboratory and telehealth use. Governor McAuliffe recommended funding for this project at the end of tenure, which has now been formally approved by ARC.

ARC project grants are awarded to local and state government entities and non-profits. The ARC funds are then matched by local funding sources. In addition to the ARC funds, local sources will provide $730,600, bringing the total project funding to more than $1.2 million. Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. 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. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Warner and Kaine have continued to vote to fully fund ARC.

As Governors, Warner and Kaine both advocated for additional funding for the Health Wagon, a partner in the annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic that provides dental care, exams and treatment at no cost.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Town of Saltville will receive $22,500 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help determine how to make the town’s water and sewer systems sustainable and financially efficient.

“We are pleased to announce these funds to help Saltville improve their waste and water treatment systems,” said the Senators.“These investments will ensure that the town’s utility system continues to be upgraded and kept efficient, which will save money and help protect the environment over the long-term.”

The town of Saltville’s sewer collection system experiences a large amount of inflow and infiltration, and the town is currently under a Consent Order issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. To assist in addressing the Consent Order, the town is currently in a construction phase to revamp the sewer system by replacing sewer lines and manholes, repairing main lines, and improving pump stations. The entire project will cost $30,000, with the town contributing $7,500 and the remaining amount provided by USDA. The Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Reports funded through this grant will assist in determining how to repair and sustain the town’s utility system moving forward. 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which covers medical and living expenses for coal miners diagnosed with black lung disease, will be more than $15 billion in debt by 2050, putting coal miners’ benefits at risk.  

“Black lung disease has had a devastating impact on coal miners and their families across Virginia. Since my time in the Senate, I have fought on their behalf to ensure they receive their rightfully owed compensation for this debilitating illness.  We must ensure that we keep our promise to the thousands of coal miners suffering with black lung. Strengthening the system’s financing does that, without shifting the cost of these important payments onto taxpayers.”

The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was established in 1978 to pay benefits to disabled miners suffering from black lung disease when the coal company responsible for paying benefits is bankrupt, closed or otherwise not able to pay. The Fund paid out $184 million in benefits last year to 25,700 coal miners suffering from the fatal mine dust disease, and their dependents. The Fund is supported by an excise tax on coal companies, but due to a variety of factors, the Fund has often had to borrow money from the U.S. Treasury in order to cover costs, leaving the Fund in the red by billions of dollars – a problem that will be exacerbated if Congress fails to take action by the end of this year, when the tax is set to be cut by more than half.  

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for coal miners and their families. In 2017, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act to ensure black lung claims are processed fairly and quickly, and he has pushed for more funding for black lung health clinics in Virginia. In December, he joined several of his colleagues in urging Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta to keep the Respirable Dust Rule to protect mine safety and miners health. Last year, Sen. Warner successfully fought to permanently protect more than 10,000 retired coal miners and their families in Virginia who were in danger of losing their health benefits. He has also introduced the American Miners Pension Act, which would protect the pensions of more than 7,000 retired Virginia coal miners who are in danger of losing their benefits if the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan becomes insolvent.

 

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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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