Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and one of the Senators tasked with negotiating the U.S. jobs and competitiveness package, delivered opening remarks at the first meeting of the congressional conference committee.

“We’ve seen America’s supply of semiconductors fall from about 33 percent of manufacturing down to single digits. We’ve almost seen the exact converse take place in terms of China’s investments,” Chairman Warner said in his opening statement. “My fear is that what we are seeing in semiconductors and the need for us to make investments, we may need similar types of approaches in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, synthetic biology. We need to maintain America and the West’s leadership in cutting-edge technologies.”

In April, Chairman Warner was selected to serve on the conference committee of Senators and House members working to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the jobs and competitiveness bill. This bill has been known variously as the Bipartisan Innovation Act, America COMPETES Act, the United States Innovation and Competition Act, and the Endless Frontier Act.

Once the conference committee comes to an agreement on a final version of the bill, the House and Senate will each vote on whether to send that bill to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.  

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission announced that they would be reviewing and updating guidelines on mergers:

“I welcome the decision by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to review and update their guidelines on both horizontal and vertical mergers. As a former technology entrepreneur, I know the incredible possibilities that can be achieved when companies bring together their resources and expertise in a merger. However, over the past few years, with the increasing concentration of power in the hands of a small group of companies, acquisition has become the only exit strategy for most startups, as the built-in advantages are too great to overcome. I look forward to working with the DOJ and FTC to ensure that these new merger guidelines strike the right balance between fostering innovation and preventing harmful consolidation.”

Sen. Warner, a former tech entrepreneur, is a cosponsor of the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act, sweeping legislation to reinvigorate America’s antitrust laws and restore competition to American markets.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led members of the Virginia congressional delegation in requesting at least $159 million in federal funding for the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project. In a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Shalanda Young and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor, the lawmakers requested that this funding be approved in part through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan, and through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

“Deepening Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet from its current 50 feet depth and widening Thimble Shoal Channel to 1,400 feet will enable safe, two-way traffic in and out of the harbor and will help prevent delays to commercial and military vessels – a necessity in today’s global trading landscape,” the lawmakers wrote. “Expanding Norfolk Harbor to allow for two-way traffic will also help prevent backlogs of commercial vessels that could cause costly delays and supply chain disruptions that are currently affecting some port facilities across the U.S.”

In their letter, the Members of Congress stressed the importance of federal funds in enabling the project’s on-time completion, as well as the important role the Port of Virginia plays in both the state and national economy.

“The Port of Virginia is a commercial and economic engine for the United States and continues to play an integral role in American foreign and domestic commerce and trade. Federal investment into this project will allow the Port to remain a prominent economic hub for the nation and a key player in domestic and international trade by generating more than $3.9 billion in net national economic development benefits,” they continued. 

Specifically, the lawmakers requested that a minimum of $75.3 million in funding be made available through the bipartisan infrastructure law that was passed earlier this year. These federal dollars would go towards fully funding construction of the inner harbor and advancing construction of the Atlantic Ocean Channel – measures that would help address capacity constraints at the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area.

Additionally, the lawmakers requested that at least $83.7 million in funding be maintained in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan, which allocates funding for civil works projects across the nation each fiscal year. Earlier this year, Sen. Warner celebrated the inclusion of $83.7 million in funding for the Norfolk Harbor project in President Biden’s budget request. These proposed funds were subsequently included in the spending bills approved by the House and Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittees. If included in the FY22 Work Plan, these federal dollars would fund construction for the Newport News Channel and a portion of the inner harbor.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long been strong advocates for the Norfolk Harbor project. In February, Sen. Warner spoke about the importance of the project during a Senate Banking Committee hearing. Sen. Warner also led the Virginia congressional delegation in a letter to OMB requesting a New Start designation for the project in January of this year. This request was also made in 2020. In July, Sen. Kaine advocated for the project to Assistant Secretary Connor as part of his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In 2018, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully fought for the inclusion of the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project, in addition to other coastal resiliency programs, in the bipartisan water infrastructure bill.

In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was signed by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Donald McEachin (D-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

Full text of the letter is here and below.

The Honorable Shalanda Young

Acting Director

Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20503

 

The Honorable Michael L. Connor

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

441 G Street, NW

Washington, DC 20314 

 

Dear Acting Director Young and Assistant Secretary Connor:

As lawmakers representing the Commonwealth of Virginia, we write today concerning funding needs for the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Widening and Deepening project. In order to keep this essential project for Virginia on schedule, we request at least $159 million in federal funding in Fiscal Year 2022 through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan and funding made available through the recently enacted bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

The Port of Virginia is one of the largest and busiest ports on the East Coast and is one of the Commonwealth’s most powerful economic engines. Annually, the Port of Virginia is responsible for more than 400,000 jobs and $92 billion in spending across Virginia and generates more than seven and half percent of the Commonwealth’s Gross State Product. The Port’s reach also extends throughout the Mid-Atlantic and into the Ohio Valley and Midwest. U.S. exports account for more than half of its container movements and serve a robust rail market to and from American farmers and manufacturers throughout the Midwest and Ohio Valley.

The widening and deepening of Norfolk Harbor is essential to continue safe and timely passage of ever-increasing commercial and military vessels through the harbor. Deepening Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet from its current 50 feet depth and widening Thimble Shoal Channel to 1,400 feet will enable safe, two-way traffic in and out of the harbor and will help prevent delays to commercial and military vessels – a necessity in today’s global trading landscape. Expanding Norfolk Harbor to allow for two-way traffic will also help prevent backlogs of commercial vessels that could cause costly delays and supply chain disruptions that are currently affecting some port facilities across the U.S.

Construction on the first constructible element of the Norfolk Harbor project, deepening Thimble Shoal Channel – West, began in December 2019, 18 months ahead of schedule. In August 2021, the Port awarded a contract to deepen and widen Thimble Shoal Channel – East. Both segments are scheduled to be complete by August 2022. Both contracts are funded and administered by the Port and are in full compliance with federal standards under a Memorandum of Understanding with USACE in July 2017. Further, the construction work is eligible as Work-In-Kind once a Project Partnership Agreement is signed. The Commonwealth of Virginia has provided full funding of $20 million for Preconstruction Engineering and Design and $330 million for construction in its FY19-20 biennial budget.

We were pleased that the President’s FY22 Budget Request included $83.7 million and a New Start designation for the Norfolk Harbor project. We were also pleased to see this funding maintained in the House and Senate Fiscal Year 2022 Energy and Water Subcommittee Appropriations bills. As the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations process continues, we respectfully request this amount be maintained in the USACE Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan. This amount will fund construction for the Newport News Channel and a portion of the inner harbor. In addition, we request at least $75.3 million in funding through the recently signed IIJA to fully fund inner harbor construction and advance Atlantic Ocean Channel construction to address capacity constraints at the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area. Allocating at least $159 million in federal funding to Norfolk Harbor in Fiscal Year 2022 will allow this nationally significant project to remain on track for completion by early 2025.

The Port of Virginia is a commercial and economic engine for the United States and continues to play an integral role in American foreign and domestic commerce and trade. Federal investment into this project will allow the Port to remain a prominent economic hub for the nation and a key player in domestic and international trade by generating more than $3.9 billion in net national economic development benefits. Completion of this project will also support the construction of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project – a 2.6-gigawatt commercial offshore wind project off Virginia’s coast that will power up to 660,000 Virginia homes and the Commonwealth’s push to become a hub for offshore wind development along the East Coast.

Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions regarding this request. We look forward to continue working with you to support this critical project for Virginia and our nation’s ports and harbors.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the statement below regarding the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) to expand and deepen trade and transatlantic investment ties for the 21st century economy:

“I am pleased to see the announcement of the inaugural U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Meeting. For several years now, I have been leading calls to update our approach to digital trade, working with like-minded allies to develop rules to reflect and uplift democratic values. For too long, the U.S. position on digital trade has been to promote continued laissez faire, even as we saw the downsides of this approach to technology governance over recent years. I am hopeful that Secretary Blinken, Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai will work with our European allies to update our digital trade policies to promote innovation, privacy, competition, and consumer protection.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) in sending a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. The letter calls the agencies to address the harmful retaliatory tariffs that inhibit trade of whiskey, other spirits, and wine between the United States and European Union (E.U.) and United Kingdom (U.K.). The letter comes as the European Union tariff on American whiskey is scheduled to double to 50 percent in June.

Twenty five percent retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey were imposed by the E.U. and the U.K. in 2018 in response to the Trump Administration’s Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

In their letter, the Senators stressed the negative impact that an increase in these tariffs would have on local businesses, as many are still struggling to stay afloat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“These tariffs have negatively impacted the U.S. beverage alcohol sector and placed American producers at a severe competitive disadvantage in what had been a growing export market for them,” the Senators wrote

“Securing an agreement to permanently lift these tariffs on wine and spirits will help restaurants, bars, and craft distilleries across the country as they recover from the pandemic,” the Senators continued

Along with Senators Warner, Kaine, and Young, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mike Braun (R-IN).

Full text of the letter can be found here and below: 

The Honorable Katherine Tai

United States Trade Representative

Executive Office of the President

600 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20508

 

The Honorable Gina M. Raimondo

Secretary

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20230

 

Dear Ambassador Tai and Secretary Raimondo,

We write today to emphasize the importance of working to remove harmful retaliatory tariffs on distilled spirits and wine to promote free and fair trade between the United States, European Union and United Kingdom. These tariffs have negatively impacted the U.S. beverage alcohol sector and placed American producers at a severe competitive disadvantage in what had been a growing export market for them.

American craft spirits production has grown substantially in recent decades, and in 2020 more than 2,000 distillers operated in the United States, employing tens of thousands of workers spread across all 50 states. With this growth came overseas opportunities. American Whiskey in particular saw a significant rise in exports, with exports to the EU growing by 40 percent from 2008 to 2018. The implementation of retaliatory tariffs, though, have inhibited this growth. Since June 2018, American Whiskey has faced a 25 percent tariff in the EU and UK. Whiskey exports to the EU have dropped by 37 percent since then and exports to the UK have been cut in half. This tariff is currently scheduled to increase to 50 percent in the EU on June 1, 2021.

Like other small businesses involved in the food and drink industry, American craft distillers have struggled during the pandemic, as on-site sales and sales to restaurants and bars declined substantially. Nearly a third of craft distillers’ employees have been furloughed since the start of the pandemic. These employers are just now starting the road to recovery and the continuation, and potential increase, of these tariffs will inhibit this recovery.

The recent suspension of tariffs related to the WTO large civil aircraft subsidy dispute, including on U.S. rum, brandy, and vodka, has provided critical relief for many in the hospitality and beverage alcohol sector at a critical time. Securing an agreement to permanently lift these tariffs on wine and spirits will help restaurants, bars, and craft distilleries across the country as they recover from the pandemic.

As the Biden administration works to address trade disputes with our allies in Europe, we urge the administration to work to secure the immediate suspension of tariffs on American Whiskey and, ultimately, the permanent removal of all retaliatory tariffs on American, EU, and UK spirits and wine.

Thank you for your attention to this critical issue. 

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) today joined U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), to reintroduce the Network Security Trade Act, legislation to ensure U.S. communications infrastructure security is a clear negotiating objective of our country’s trade policy.

“Promoting the security and integrity of global digital infrastructure should be among the most paramount digital trade objectives the U.S. pursues,” said Warner. “It is long past time to make this a key negotiating objective in order to promote a more long-term, multilateral strategy to safeguard the global telecommunications market from providers like Huawei that could pose a serious risk to digital infrastructure across the globe.”

“There is a lot of promise with new and advanced technologies like 5G, but the United States can only deliver on those promises if we maintain the security of communications networks, both at home and abroad,” said Thune. “This legislation would ensure that the security of the equipment and technology that create the global communications infrastructure is front and center in our trade negotiations, because you can’t have optimal free trade if the global digital infrastructure is compromised.”

“When it comes to national security, one of our nation’s top priorities must be protecting our communication systems that we all depend on every day,” said Stabenow. “This bill helps leverage our trade negotiating powers to make sure our telecommunication networks like 5G are safe and secure.”

“The transition to 5G represents a major opportunity for American businesses, but it also poses serious challenges for America’s national security,” said Fischer. “Many other countries have plans to deploy equipment made by China’s untrustworthy Huawei. This bipartisan legislation makes clear that our concerns about Beijing are serious, and that future trade negotiations must account for our national security.”

The Network Security Trade Act would amend the 2015 Trade Promotion Authority, which is in effect until July 1, 2021, to include a negotiating objective related to the security of communications networks. Today, one of the largest manufacturers of 5G equipment and telecommunications infrastructure is Huawei Technologies, which is supported by the Chinese Communist Party. While the bill does not name specific state-owned companies, it would direct the executive branch to ensure that the equipment and technology that are used to create the global communications infrastructure are not compromised. It would achieve that goal by addressing barriers to the security of communications networks and supply chains and unfair trade practices of state-owned or state-controlled communications equipment suppliers in new trade agreements. Confronting these issues, which this legislation requires, is critical as the United States considers formal trade talks with the United Kingdom and other allies.

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