Press Releases

WASHINGTON Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, (both D-VA) announced $17,136,632 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Labor will be coming to Virginia to support workforce development, expand Registered Apprenticeship programming, and benefit public-private partnerships across a range of industries, including K-12 education, clean energy, transportation, and advanced manufacturing.

“Creating jobs is one of our top priorities, which is why we were proud to help pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPS and Science Act,” said the Senators. “But it’s equally important that Virginians can access the training they need to harness new opportunities, including the many jobs those bills have produced. We’re thrilled that $17 million in resources is coming to the Commonwealth to help put those kinds of high-quality training programs within reach.”

The funding coming will be allocated as follows:

  • The Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement will receive two allocations of funding totaling $7,136,652 to support the expansion of Registered Apprenticeship in industries such as K-12 education, transportation, clean energy, supply chain, hospitality, care economy, and other public sector occupations. The Department will distribute the funding to entities throughout Virginia.
  • The Hampton Roads Workforce Council in Norfolk will receive $6,000,000 to support public-private partnerships that serve a range of industries and individuals to better workforce in in-demand fields.
  • Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale will receive $3,999,980 to support public-private partnerships that serve a range of industries and individuals to better workforce in in-demand fields.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) wrote to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger to quickly develop and release mandatory minimum cyber standards for the health care sector. This letter comes as cyberattackers continue to exploit vulnerabilities in many current systems.

“I write today to urge you to prioritize the development of mandatory minimum cyber standards and to propose them as soon as possible, given the increasing severity, frequency, and sophistication of cybersecurity threats and attacks. Health care is one of the largest sectors in the U.S. economy, with health expenditures accounting for 17 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product in 2022, and expected to grow to nearly 20 percent by 2032. More important than the economic risks cyberattacks pose to the health care sector are the vulnerabilities to patients’ access to care and private health information. Simply put, inadequate cybersecurity practices put people’s lives at risk,” Sen. Warner wrote. 

This letter comes months after a major cybersecurity incident at Change Healthcare affected billing and care authorization portals and led to prescription backlogs and missed revenue for providers. This attack, and other similar attempts, pose a serious risk not only to regular business operations, but also to patient care. In his letter, Sen. Warner highlighted that without basic security measures, these attacks are relatively easy to carry out and will happen with more frequency.  

Sen. Warner continued, “Due to some entities failing to implement basic cybersecurity best practices, such as the lack of multi-factor authentication resulting in the successful attack on Change Healthcare, the capability required of a threat actor to carry out an operation in the sector can be quite low.”

Sen. Warner has been a leader in the cybersecurity realm throughout his time in the Senate, crafting numerous pieces of legislation aimed at addressing these threats facing our nation. Recognizing that cybersecurity is an increasingly complex issue that affects the health, economic prosperity, national security, and democratic institutions of the United States, Sen. Warner cofounded the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus in 2016.  A year later, in 2017, he authored the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act. This legislation, signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2020, requires that any IoT device purchased with federal funds meet minimum security standards. As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner co-authored legislation that requires companies responsible for U.S. critical infrastructure report cybersecurity incidents to the government. This legislation was signed into law by President Joe Biden as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in March 2022.

Sen. Warner has also examined cybersecurity in the health care sector specifically. In 2022, Sen. Warner authored “Cybersecurity is Patient Safety,” a policy options paper, outlining current cybersecurity threats facing health care providers and systems and offering for discussion a series of policy solutions to improve cybersecurity across the industry.  Since publishing, Sen. Warner has launched the Health Care Cybersecurity Working Group with a bipartisan group of colleagues to examine and propose potential legislative solutions to strengthen cybersecurity in the health care and public health sector.

A copy of the letter can be found here are below. 

Dear Secretary Becerra and Ms. Neuberger:

Thank you for your continued commitment to improving cybersecurity in America’s health care system. I write today to urge you to prioritize the development of mandatory minimum cyber standards and to propose them as soon as possible, given the increasing severity, frequency, and sophistication of cybersecurity threats and attacks. Health care is one of the largest sectors in the U.S. economy, with health expenditures accounting for 17 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product in 2022, and expected to grow to nearly 20 percent by 2032. More important than the economic risks cyberattacks pose to the health care sector are the vulnerabilities to patients’ access to care and private health information. Simply put, inadequate cybersecurity practices put people’s lives at risk.

Financially-motivated threat actors realize that the sector has both highly valuable data in its possession and also faces tremendous pressure to respond quickly to a ransomware demand. Health records are more valuable than credit card records on the dark market and disruptions to operations of health care providers have direct impact on the life and well-being of their patients. Due to some entities failing to implement basic cybersecurity best practices, such as the lack of multi-factor authentication resulting in the successful attack on Change Healthcare, the capability required of a threat actor to carry out an operation in the sector can be quite low.

Further, both the size and increasingly interconnected nature of the sector create a vulnerable attack surface. Not only do attacks against the sector often result in the loss of highly personal and sensitive data, those attacks have also affected the ability of providers to maintain the availability and quality of their care. We have seen devastating incidents, including the recent cyberattack on Change Healthcare, that ultimately took down the ability of providers to pay their workers and prevented pharmacists from looking up patient insurance and co-pay information. The recent cyberattack on the nationwide provider, Ascension, has also resulted in delays in care. And we have a growing body of evidence that clearly demonstrates that cybersecurity is, above all else, a patient safety issue.

The health care sector must be fully engaged in developing, implementing, and maintaining a coherent and effective cybersecurity regime; accepting cyberattacks due to lack of preparedness cannot and should not be a cost of doing business. The stakes are too high, and the voluntary nature of the status quo is not working, especially regarding health care stakeholders that are systemically important nationally or regionally. Mandatory minimum cyber standards would ensure that all health care stakeholders prioritize cybersecurity in their work. 

Policymakers, cybersecurity professionals, and patients alike have long been raising the alarm that the voluntary nature of cybersecurity in health care is insufficient and dangerous. It’s critical that the Administration expeditiously act to create mandatory, enforceable policies in the health care sector.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $1,574,898 in federal funding for Seven Hills Food Company in Lynchburg to expand processing, address capacity limitations, add new value-added products to the plant, and support the addition of a farmer liaison to coordinate expanded production. The funding is possible thanks to the American Rescue Plan, which both senators voted for and passed in the Senate by one vote.

“By investing in local farmers and producers, we can strengthen our food supply chains, lower food costs for Virginians, and create a more sustainable local economy,“ said the Senators. “We’re glad to help secure this funding to enable Seven Hills to increase their processing capacity and help connect local producers to consumers.”

The investment is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Local Meat Capacity Grant program, which supports independently owned meat and poultry processing businesses with grant funds to provide more and better processing options for local livestock producers by modernizing, increasing, diversifying, and decentralizing meat and poultry processing capacity.  

Last year, Kaine met with farmers in Unionville, Verona, and Fishersville to discuss challenges they’re facing. He also met, alongside USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh, with underserved farmers and producers in Harrisonburg who benefited from USDA’s distressed borrowers program, which was created through the American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act, which both senators voted for and also passed in the Senate by one vote.

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WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), joined by U.S. Sens. Angus King (I-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ), introduced legislation to develop a strategy and global approach to ensure that the U.S., its allies and global partners can count on a diverse and secure end-to-end supply of critical minerals.

Critical minerals, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements, are necessary inputs for technologies that play critical roles in our national security, including military equipment and defense systems, as well as emerging technologies such as electric vehicles and storage for our power grid. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) currently dominates the mining, processing, and manufacturing of the majority of these minerals. U.S. dependence on the PRC for the procurement of these critical minerals raises substantial economic and national security concerns. To combat the dominance of the PRC, this legislation would ensure a secure supply of these minerals.

“The global demand for critical minerals continues to grow at exponential rates, and it is crucial that the U.S. identify secure sources of these minerals so that we can count on them for national security and critical infrastructure applications,” said Chairman Warner. “Currently, China dominates the critical mineral industry and is actively working to ensure that the U.S. does not catch up. The U.S. must, alongside allies, take meaningful steps to protect and expand our production and procurement of these critical minerals. This legislation will serve as a roadmap for the U.S. to counter China’s dominance in this sector.”

“Our national security interests are heavily dependent on critical minerals, which are vital for modern technology and national defense. The U.S. must have a comprehensive response to China’s dominion over the global critical mineral industry. With our consensus package, Senator Warner and I hope to free our nation's supply chains from China’s industrial monopoly,” said Vice Chairman Rubio.

Specifically the legislation would enhance diplomatic and financial tools to support public and private sectors in securing and processing these minerals by:

  • Streamlining diplomatic efforts for securing minerals;
  • Establishing diplomatic support for private sector investments abroad;
  • Enhancing financial tools of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM);
  • Creating a fund to assist investments in critical minerals;
  • Enhancing public-private information sharing on manipulative adversary practices;
  • Creating a public website to assist private sector companies in navigating government resources and financial support; and
  • Expanding allied partnerships to secure critical minerals.

The legislation would also work to increase U.S. procurement of critical minerals in order offset China’s ability to manipulate and monopolize the market, including by:

  • Requiring a report on the use of and need for new or expanded authorities to increase domestic production and procurement;
  • Requiring an assessment on imposing duties on imported minerals, in particular from China; and
  • Requiring a whole-of-government effort to develop workforce training programs to advance end-to-end critical mineral capabilities.

This is latest step that the Senate Intelligence Committee leaders have taken to counter China’s dominance in this key sector. Last year, Chairman Warner and Vice Chairman Rubio hosted government officials and domestic industry leaders for a roundtable discussion on access to critical minerals. During that roundtable, industry leaders asked for more robust government support in identifying unfair and corrupt practices by foreign adversaries. Specifically, private sector companies attempting to secure critical mineral projects abroad have faced PRC efforts to spread disinformation to foreign host governments about U.S. companies, steal U.S. company IP, and sabotage U.S. company contracts. As a result of that meeting, earlier this year, Chairman Warner and Vice Chairman Rubio introduced legislation to improve information sharing between the Intelligence Community and U.S. companies in order to mitigate foreign adversaries’ efforts to thwart U.S. involvement in projects relating to energy generation and storage, including in the critical minerals industry.

Chairman Warner and Vice Chairman Rubio have also led efforts to secure supply chains and reduce U.S. reliance on the PRC for critical minerals through increased government support to U.S. private sector companies that are investing and operating in critical mineral projects.

Text of the bill is available here.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded an announcement from the Department of Energy that Mack and Volvo Trucks will be awarded over $208 million in federal funding through the Domestic Manufacturing Conversion Grant Program. The funding was made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, which the senators voted to pass. The funding will upgrade operations, sustain 7,900 union jobs, and create 295 new jobs in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In Virginia, it will support electric heavy-duty vehicle production at Volvo’s New River Valley (NRV) truck manufacturing facility by creating a mixed model assembly line. Warner and Kaine wrote a letter in support of Mack and Volvo Trucks’ application earlier this year.

“I am thrilled to see today’s announcement investing in the domestic manufacturing of clean vehicles. This funding, courtesy of the Inflation Reduction Act I was proud to help pass, will help transform Volvo’s work in the New River Valley, bringing jobs to the region and boosting the local economy,” said Sen. Warner. “This funding will also continue to bring American manufacturing into the 21st century by boosting the production of electric heavy-duty vehicles and the necessary infrastructure to support these vehicles.”

“The Inflation Reduction Act, which we passed in the Senate by one vote, made historic investments to increase domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help ensure clean air for generations to come,” said Sen. Kaine. “And now those investments are coming to Volvo Trucks to expand its operations in the New River Valley. I was glad to visit Volvo’s Dublin plant last year to see the hard work of the facility’s employees and test drive an electric truck. I’m thrilled to see how this investment will create jobs, expand the facility’s capacity and production, and boost economic growth in the region.”

NRV is the largest Volvo Trucks manufacturing facility in the world. Volvo Trucks is the second largest employer in the New River Valley, sustaining 3,600 jobs in Dublin, including 3,200 United Automobile Workers (UAW) jobs. In April 2023, Kaine toured the Volvo Trucks NRV facility in Dublin, met with employees, and drove a Volvo VNR Electric truck.

The Inflation Reduction Act provided $2 billion in grants for the Domestic Manufacturing Conversion Grant Program to increase domestic production of efficient hybrid, plug-in electric hybrid, plug-in electric drive, and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

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WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on the Senate’s failure to advance the Reproductive Freedom for Women Act, Warner-cosponsored legislation that would affirm the Senate’s support for protecting and restoring access to abortion and reproductive health care across the country:

“In the two years since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, we have seen unprecedented attacks on women’s reproductive health care in Virginia and across the country. This legislation posed a simple question – do you support protecting access to abortion and reproductive care? I am disappointed by how many of my colleagues answered ‘no’ today, but I will continue working to ensure that women have the right to make their own decisions about their health care.”

Following the Dobbs decision, Sen. Warner has strongly advocated for legislation to protect Americans’ access to reproductive health care. Earlier this year, Sen. Warner cosponsored and voted to pass the Right to IVF Act, legislation that would have protected and expanded access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) services nationwide, as well as the Right to Contraception Act, legislation to codify a right to birth control. Both of these efforts were blocked by Republicans. Last year, Sen. Warner also cosponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), federal legislation to guarantee access to abortion care across the country.

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WASHINGTON Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) met with U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to receive a status update on the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) ongoing work to improve service in Virginia while implementing new efficiency reforms. A representative from U.S. Representative Jennifer McClellan’s (D-VA-04) office attended the meeting as well.

Today, we met with Postmaster DeJoy for a productive conversation on the progress made since our last meeting—and continued to voice the concerns of Virginians who know there is still significant room for improvement,” the members said. “While we are glad to see some gains in the on-time delivery rate in Virginia, there’s much more work to do. We will continue to press for increased transparency, greater engagement with the public, and a higher standard of service for communities across Virginia.”

Following advocacy by the Virginia Congressional Delegation, the one-time delivery rate of first-class mail in Virginia improved from 66% to 77.4% during the first quarter of this year. More recent data shows additional improvement. But there is still much work necessary to meet the USPS goal of 93%.

Today’s meeting came after an April meeting between DeJoy and members of Virginia’s congressional delegation, in which the members emphasized their concerns regarding the USPS IG’s report on the Richmond Regional Processing and Distribution Center (RPDC) in Sandston. The report highlighted various issues including an egregious lack of attention to detail, such as pieces of mail falling off conveyor belts and being lost; poor synchronizing between machines processing mail at the facility and the trucks transporting mail to and from the facility; and broader questions about whether the RPDC model is generating the promised cost savings and efficiency improvements. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, (both D-VA) announced $1,935,757 in Public Health funding from AmeriCorps — the federal agency for national service and volunteerism — and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This funding for Virginia will go towards building the capacity of the public health workforce and bolstering efforts relating to mental health, chronic disease prevention, and public health readiness. Through this funding, Public Health AmeriCorps members will continue to gain experience in the public health field while supporting local health efforts and community-based organizations.

“AmeriCorps members across Virginia work hard to create positive change for the communities they serve,” said the Senators. “This federal funding will allow volunteers to continue their important work of addressing some of the Commonwealth’s biggest health care needs.”

The funding, which was made possible through the annual federal budget that Sens. Warner and Kaine helped pass, is broken down as follows:

  • Volunteers of America, Inc. in Alexandria, VA will receive $432,000 in funding to continue supporting 16 AmeriCorps members;
  • The City of Richmond will receive $431,317 in in funding to continue supporting 16 AmeriCorps members;
  • Catholic Charities USA in Alexandria, VA will receive $314,306 in funding to continue supporting 14 AmeriCorps members;
  • Blue Ridge Medical Center in Nelson County, VA will receive $312,659 in funding to continue supporting 34 AmeriCorps members;
  • Boat People SOS, Inc. in Falls Church, VA will receive $226,797 in funding to continue supporting 12 AmeriCorps members;
  • The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, VA will receive $218,678 in funding to continue supporting 15 AmeriCorps members.

Since the launch of Public Health AmeriCorps in 2021, more than 4,700 AmeriCorps members have added much-needed capacity to health departments, community-based organizations, schools and more. This partnership has capitalized on AmeriCorps’ people power and infrastructure and leveraged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s technical expertise as the country’s leading public health agency to address communities’ most pressing public health challenges and create new pathways to public-health related careers.  

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) applauded the announcement that LS GreenLink is investing $681 million in Chesapeake to build a state-of-the-art facility to manufacture high-voltage subsea cables used for offshore wind farms. LS GreenLink is building the facility thanks to $100 million in tax credits that were made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which incentivizes clean energy investments. The facility marks the first offshore wind cable manufacturer in the United States and is expected to create over 330 jobs.

“The Inflation Reduction Act continues to deliver. Thanks to this once-in-a-generation legislation, the clean energy industry is growing, and Virginia is benefiting,” said Sen. Warner. “This LS GreenLink facility will help support the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind industry, bring hundreds of jobs to Hampton Roads, and spur investment the region.”

“I’m thrilled hundreds of clean energy manufacturing jobs are headed to Virginia thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act we passed by one vote,” said Sen. Kaine. “LS GreenLink’s decision to build a facility in Chesapeake is a testament to Hampton Roads’ talented workforce and strong community. This new facility is a win for workers, our economy, and all who rely on clean energy.”  

“Hampton Roads is leading the way in offshore wind production. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act’s inclusion of the Offshore Wind Manufacturing Act, which I co-led with my colleagues, LS GreenLink will be able to utilize tax credits for projects that expand clean energy. Their investment in this new facility in Chesapeake will play a key role in building the domestic green energy supply chain. This investment in Hampton Roads is bringing high-paying jobs to our local economy and boosting our community's transition towards clean, affordable energy,” said Rep. Scott.

“LS GreenLink’s investment in Virginia will showcase the Commonwealth as a leader in offshore wind industry manufacturing,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin. “LS GreenLink has recognized that Virginia has the skilled talent, world-class logistics location, and business environment that will allow it to serve its growing global customers for submarine power cables.”

Sens. Warner, Kaine, and Rep. Scott wrote a letter to the Department of Energy to advocate for IRA funding for the project.

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WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the statement below, following a press briefing from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on the foreign threat landscape ahead of the election.

“I have long pushed the Intelligence Community to be more open with the public about the complex and serious foreign influence threats targeting the United States – particularly in the context of U.S. elections. Today’s press briefing is a strong step in that direction. I applaud the ODNI, FBI, and CISA for commencing these regular public updates on foreign efforts to manipulate our democratic processes and undermine our election. There is no doubt that these updates – in addition to efforts by civil society and the private sector – will serve to better inform and prepare the public.
 
“As the 
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I would encourage all Americans to stay informed and alert. Social media, in particular, continues to be a popular vector for foreign covert influence attempts, and our adversaries remain focused on stoking social, racial, and political tensions among Americans. The best thing Americans can do to help safeguard our election is avoid succumbing to nefarious foreign efforts to create division and sow chaos. I am committed to working with the Intelligence Community to declassify more information and further increase transparency.”

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WASHINGTON Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $50,591,220 in federal funding for Fairfax County to purchase new low-emission diesel-electric hybrid buses under the county’s fleet replacement plan. The funding, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will enable the Fairfax transit agency to buy and lease U.S.-built low- or no-emission vehicles, make facility and station upgrades, and buy support equipment for low- and no-emission buses.

“Robust public transit systems are vital to helping Virginians get where they need to go and investing in green infrastructure is key to our future,” said the Senators. “We’re proud to have supported the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which has already brought billions to Virginia and now will invest an additional $50 million to improve public transit options in Fairfax County and boost air quality by reducing emissions.”

The Fairfax County Connector Hybrid Bus Procurement project is a part of the Low- or No-Emission grant program, which makes federal resources available to transit agencies to acquire low- and no-emission vehicles. Managed by the Federal Transit Administration, this program has funded more than 1,100 American-made buses in 47 states. These environmentally friendly buses reduce air pollution and help meet President Biden’s goal of zero emissions by the year 2050.

Sens. Warner and Kaine were proud to support the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) landmark legislation that made this funding possible and brings critical investments to our communities to fix crumbling roadways, bolster public transit systems, bridge the broadband gap, and strengthen our coastal resiliency. As of November 2023, two years after President Biden signed the BIL into law, Virginia had received over $8.4 billion in funding to benefit Virginians across the Commonwealth.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement:

“Another Trump term would be perilous for rule of law and for our democracy. President Biden has made America stronger, guiding the nation through some of our most difficult days. I am proud of my work on his agenda.

“With so much at stake in the upcoming election, now is the time for conversations about the strongest path forward.

“As these conversations continue, I believe it is incumbent upon the President to more aggressively make his case to the American people, and to hear directly from a broader group of voices about how to best prevent Trump’s lawlessness from returning to the White House.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner  and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are urging the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to work with American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) International, a nonprofit that recently released safety standards to address hazards posed by detached and flyaway beach umbrellas, to evaluate and finalize these new standards.

CPSC estimates that nearly 3,000 individuals across the country are sent to the emergency room each year due to umbrella-related accidents. This includes last week’s incident in Cocoa Beach, Florida, as well as the tragic 2016 death of Lottie Michelle Belk of Chester, Va. who was struck in the torso and killed while vacationing in Virginia Beach with her family.

“As we enter the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with millions of Americans enjoying our country’s beaches, lakes, and rivers, it is vital that beachgoers are safe from dislodged beach umbrellas. Improperly secured umbrellas can result in death or serious injury. We believe that recent actions by CPSC and the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM), including the release earlier this year of the ASTM F3681-24 safety standard, are good steps forward. We urge CPSC and industry to work together quickly to finish any outstanding suggested improvements or other modifications to this standard,” the Senators wrote.

They continued, “As the Beach Umbrellas Task Group continues to consider additional guidance and safety improvements to the ASTM F3681-24 standard, it is important that the group move swiftly and with thoroughness. We encourage the group to evaluate the full scope and harm of unsecured beach umbrellas to maximize safety for beachgoers.”

This letter is the latest push by Sens. Warner and Kaine to ensure the safety and wellbeing of beachgoers. In 2019 letter to CPSC, they drew attention to the unexpected danger of flying beach umbrellas to beachgoers, and in 2021 the Senators pushed ASTM International for increased safety measures. These efforts culminated in ASTM’s release of new safety standards earlier this year.

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Chair Hoen-Saric:

We write today requesting swift action by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ensure that beach umbrellas sold in the United States are safe for consumers and the public. To achieve this goal, we urge the Beach Umbrella Task Group within CPSC to finalize strong and clear consumer safety guidance for the design, manufacture, and use of beach umbrellas and anchor devices.

As we enter the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with millions of Americans enjoying our country’s beaches, lakes, and rivers, it is vital that beachgoers are safe from dislodged beach umbrellas. Improperly secured umbrellas can result in death[3] or serious injury.[4] We believe that recent actions by CPSC and the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM), including the release earlier this year of the ASTM F3681-24 safety standard, are good steps forward. We urge CPSC and industry to work together quickly to finish any outstanding suggested improvements or other modifications to this standard.

Following our sustained engagement on this issue over the last several years, the CPSC has worked with ASTM and other industry stakeholders to develop the ASTM F3681-24 safety standard and released it in April 2024. ASTM F3681-24 establishes minimum requirements for the safe anchoring of beach umbrellas, which should protect beachgoers from dislodged and airborne umbrellas.

As the Beach Umbrellas Task Group continues to consider additional guidance and safety improvements to the ASTM F3681-24 standard, it is important that the group move swiftly and with thoroughness. We encourage the group to evaluate the full scope and harm of unsecured beach umbrellas to maximize safety for beachgoers.

We appreciate your attention to this critical and timely matter and urge CPSC to work with industry stakeholders to strengthen protections for consumers across the Commonwealth and nation.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the statement below in response to new Department of Education guidance for individuals affected by joint consolidated student loans. This guidance follows longtime efforts by Sen. Warner to provide relief for individuals who previously consolidated their federal student loan debt with a spouse under a program that was created by Congress and subsequently eliminated without providing a way for spouses to sever existing loans – even in the event of domestic violence, economic abuse, or an unresponsive partner. In 2022, in culmination of these efforts, Sen. Warner secured the passage of the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act of 2021 in order to help borrowers who remain liable for their abusive or uncommunicative spouse’s portion of their consolidated debts.

“For years, borrowers in joint consolidated loans have faced frustrating bureaucratic hurdles and dismal prospects for severing their loans, keeping them trapped in financial agreements with unresponsive or abusive ex-spouses and preventing them from accessing loan forgiveness programs. I’m proud to have written the law that finally made separation a possibility, and I’m glad to see the Department of Education take another important step towards finally freeing borrowers from these burdensome loans. I look forward to working with the Department to ensure that it is meeting its established deadlines so all borrowers can finally separate their loans and move on with their lives,” said Sen. Warner.

According to new Department of Education guidance, the Office of Federal Student Aid will finalize and publish the application and promissory note for joint consolidation loan co-borrowers in the Fall of 2024. Upon availability, borrowers will be able to submit a:

  • Joint Application: Both co-borrowers submit individual App/Notes to the Department, which will separate the JCL and create a new, individual Direct Consolidation Loan for each individual; or,
  • Separate Application: An individual JCL applicant submits an App/Note to the Department without regard to whether or when the co-borrower applies, if the applicant has experienced an act of domestic violence or economic abuse from the other co-borrower, or if they are unable to reasonably reach or access the loan information of the other co-borrower.

Once the loans are separated, the applicants’ loan obligation will be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan if both borrowers completed the joint application process. For those who submit a separate application, the loan obligation will follow the same process as the joint application process, but if the remaining co-borrower does not complete an application, their loan obligation will remain a JCL with one borrower.

According to the Department of Education guidance, the Office of Federal Student Aid aims to begin processing applications, in partnership with federal student loan servicers, by the end of the year. Borrowers and interested parties are encouraged to monitor the Department’s Homeroom Blog, FSA’s Electronic Announcements page, and the dedicated Joint Consolidation Loan Separation News and Updates webpage for details on webinars and general updates for potential applicants during implementation.

Sen. Warner’s Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, originally introduced in 2017, was inspired by Sara, a constituent from McLean, Virginia who contacted Sen. Warner to communicate her struggles with a joint consolidation loan. Sara was raising two children on a public school teacher’s salary in Northern Virginia and trying to keep up with payments on her student loans. Unfortunately, her ex-spouse, whom she had divorced and moved thousands of miles away from to start fresh, refused to pay his share of their joint loan. Because joint consolidation loans create joint and several liability for borrowers, Sara faced the threat of having her wages as a public school teacher garnished if she did not pay both her and her ex-husband’s portions of their debt. Sen. Warner did not think this was fair and sought to create a solution, so that constituents like Sara could control their own financial futures. You can hear Sen. Warner tell Sara’s story here.

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WASHINGTON – Following significant problems with the rollout of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) this year, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are urging the Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) to issue a quick review of problems with the form’s rollout and provide a course for corrective action. This move by Sens. Warner and Kaine comes as incoming high school seniors across the country prepare to fill out the FAFSA form as part of the college application process that typically begins in the late summer and early fall.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is currently investigating a broader and full-scale review of the 2024-2025 FAFSA rollout. While GAO and the IG are working together on this review, it is on a longer timeline and likely will not be complete when the FAFSA reopens this fall. The faster “management alert” review being requested by the Senators would focus on the immediate problems that need to be resolved ahead of relaunching the application.

In highlighting the need for a faster review to address urgent problems ahead of next school year, the Senators pointed to the cost that these problems had on students.

“In particular, issues with the form leading to long periods of uncertainty have had a major ripple effect on students and colleges alike,” the Senators wrote. “Students experienced delayed access to the application, technical glitches impacting timely submission, and processing errors. As a result of these setbacks, higher education institutions received student financial data months later than expected, causing slowdowns in the process of providing prospective students with complete financial aid packages ahead of college enrollment deadlines. Many colleges and universities pushed their enrollment deadlines, leading to fragmentation in the college decision timeline.”

And while significant progress has been made to address these issues, the Senators highlighted that lingering issues are still plaguing many who rely on financial aid to make their college decision.

They continued, “And, while most problems have been fully resolved or provided temporary fixes, we remain concerned about continuing challenges, including that students from a mixed immigration status family and whose contributors do not have a Social Security Number are still unable to successfully submit the FAFSA form. Such FAFSA hurdles particularly impact individuals who need financial aid the most, including low-income, first-generation, and traditionally underserved students. For many of these students, the biggest consideration in committing to a college is deciding how to finance it.”

In their letter the Senators also specifically asked that the OIG, in working with GAO, ensure that the broader FAFSA review includes a full assessment of the following:

  • A detailed chronology of the development, implementation, and management of the form;
  • Contributing factors to the form delay, technical malfunctions and backend complications, formula miscalculations, data and processing errors, and other issues;
  • The role of contractors in the launch of the FAFSA form;
  • The Department’s oversight, performance standards, and review of contractors;
  • The Department’s communication and information sharing with impacted communities, including students and higher education institutions;
  • The impact of funding and other competing priorities on implementation;
  • The deadline for implementation, which was pushed from July 1, 2023 to July, 1, 2024;[10]
  • Potential challenges that the Department will need to anticipate ahead of the coming academic year and beyond; and
  • Recommendations for corrective action.

This letter comes after Sen. Warner met with Virginia students to discuss the problems with this year’s rollout of the new FAFSA form and hear how the botched process impacted their college decision process. Earlier this year, the Senators also pushed the Department of Education to quickly address the problems for current students.

A copy of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Inspector General Bruce:

We write to you regarding the launch of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which was unveiled on December 31, 2023. In 2020, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act1 , intending to streamline and demystify the federal financial aid process, redesign the FAFSA, and increase access to grants, student loans, and work-study opportunities. 

The “Better FAFSA” form impressively simplified the federal financial aid application from over 100 questions to as few as 18, allowing many students to retrieve income data directly from the Internal Revenue Service and apply for aid in less than thirty minutes. According to the Department of Education, the updated student aid determination formula, as part of the FAFSA Simplification Act, is expected to provide an additional 665,000 students from low-income backgrounds with access to federal grants and more than 1.7 million students with the maximum grant amount. This includes 16,626 Virginia students who will have new access to the Pell Grant and an additional 37,916 Virginians who will go from partial Pell Grant funding to full, expanding affordability and paving paths towards higher education.

Despite this progress, we are disappointed to report that we have heard from countless students, parents, educators, high school counselors, financial aid administrators, and higher education institutions sharing their experiences and expressing great worry with the implications of the 2024-2025 FAFSA rollout.

In particular, issues with the form leading to long periods of uncertainty have had a major ripple effect on students and colleges alike. Students experienced delayed access to the application, technical glitches impacting timely submission, and processing errors. As a result of these setbacks, higher education institutions received student financial data months later than expected, causing slowdowns in the process of providing prospective students with complete financial aid packages ahead of college enrollment deadlines. Many colleges and universities pushed their enrollment deadlines, leading to fragmentation in the college decision timeline.

We welcomed the Department’s efforts over the last few months to provide workarounds to some of aforementioned issues and new steps to support schools and students,6 which has resulted in the successful submission of 8.95 million forms.7 However, the FAFSA impediments and other persisting obstacles have, unfortunately, left prospective students with inadequate time to consider financial aid packages prior to college decision day. In some cases, students have had to commit to a school without a complete understanding of their aid or forgo enrolling in school altogether – the exact opposite of what the new form was intended to achieve.

And, while most problems have been fully resolved or provided temporary fixes, we remain concerned about continuing challenges, including that students from a mixed immigration status family and whose contributors do not have a Social Security Number are still unable to successfully submit the FAFSA form. Such FAFSA hurdles particularly impact individuals who need financial aid the most, including low-income, first-generation, and traditionally underserved students. For many of these students, the biggest consideration in committing to a college is deciding how to finance it.

Further, recent data demonstrates that current national and state-level FAFSA completion rates are lower than last year. According to the National College Attainment Network, as of May 17, only 41.5% of the high school class of 2024 completed the FAFSA – a 15.5% drop from the previous class.8 We are greatly concerned that, as a result of FAFSA related issues and the continuation of such issues, more students will consider opting out of pursuing higher education in the coming years.

We recognize that the Department of Education, and in particular, the Office of Federal Student Aid, was under a difficult implementation timeline while managing limited funding and resources for an extensive financial aid portfolio. We also want to highlight that the contractors responsible for overseeing the implementation played a leading role in the deployment of the form and ensuing complications.

As such, we express great concern with the deployment of the 2024-2025 FAFSA form and the potential consequences it will have on students seeking federal financial aid and pursuing higher education in the fall and the academic years after. We also are concerned about the potential for continued disruptions for the 2025-2026 FAFSA. That is why, we respectfully request that the Office of the Inspector General review and assess the development, implementation, and management of the “Better FAFSA” and swiftly provide direction for corrective action to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted application process for the upcoming academic year and beyond.

We are cognizant of the existing investigations currently open by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). We ask the Office of the Investigative General (OIG) work to ensure that both entities are working in coordination and that investigative efforts are not duplicative. We also understand that GAO investigations operate on a long-term scale and that the current issues regarding the 2024-2025 FAFSA are time sensitive because of the expected to roll out on October 1, 2024. Notwithstanding the GAO investigations, we ask that the OIG consider issuing a separate “management alert” that identifies that current issues with the FAFSA form, potential issues that may arise ahead of October 1, and recommendations to ensure a smooth application period.

Additionally, we ask that your larger and full review of the “Better FAFSA” form and the implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act include, along with any other topics you find appropriate, include a full assessment of the following:

  • A detailed chronology of the development, implementation, and management of the form;
  • Contributing factors to the form delay, technical malfunctions and backend complications, formula miscalculations, data and processing errors, and other issues;
  • The role of contractors in the launch of the FAFSA form;
  • The Department’s oversight, performance standards, and review of contractors;
  • The Department’s communication and information sharing with impacted communities, including students and higher education institutions;
  • The impact of funding and other competing priorities on implementation;
  • The deadline for implementation, which was pushed from July 1, 2023 to July, 1, 2024;[10]
  • Potential challenges that the Department will need to anticipate ahead of the coming academic year and beyond; and
  • Recommendations for corrective action.

The FAFSA form is a gateway to college accessibility and affordability and through this review and recommendations for improvement, we aim to ensure that doors to postsecondary institutions remain open to interested students.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this request.

Sincerely,

###



 

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and 14 of his Democratic colleagues in releasing draft legislation to address the rising trend of labor and delivery unit closures in rural and underserved hospitals.

“Rural hospitals across the country and the Commonwealth of Virginia are struggling to keep their doors open, and expectant mothers are bearing the brunt of the impact,” said Sen. Warner. “This draft legislation aims to ensure that all hospitals are able to continue delivering obstetrics care to people in need.” 

The Keep Obstetrics Local Act (KOLA) would increase Medicaid payment rates for labor and delivery services at eligible hospitals in rural and high-need urban areas, provide “standby” payments to cover the costs of staffing and maintaining an obstetrics unit at low-volume hospitals, create low-volume payment adjustments for labor and delivery services at hospitals with low birth volumes, and require all states to provide postpartum coverage for women in Medicaid for 12 months, among other steps. The proposal makes sure that hospitals are required to use these additional resources to invest in the maternal health care needs of the local communities they serve.

Virginia has experienced a scourge of closures and challenges to obstetrics care in recent years:

  • In April 2024, HCA LewisGale Hospital Montgomery in Blacksburg, VA temporarily ceased obstetrics services, citing the continuing challenge of recruiting full-time OB-GYNs;
  • In August 2023, Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in South Boston, VA ended obstetric services, citing the significant decrease in births in recent years;
  • In 2022, Sovah Health Martinsville in Martinsville, VA temporarily paused Labor & Delivery services, citing a 60 percent decline in deliveries since 2015;
  • In 2019, Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA closed its maternity unit, citing insufficient demand;
  • In 2018, Valley Health Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, VA closed its maternity unit.

Between 2012 and 2022, approximately one quarter of all rural hospitals stopped providing obstetrics services, impacting 267 communities. This trend of closures is caused by several overlapping challenges, including the high fixed operating costs of these units, low volumes of births, and difficulties in attracting and retaining OB-trained clinical staff, all of which is made worse by inadequate federal reimbursement for labor and delivery services.

Sen. Warner has led efforts in the Senate to help curb the trend of hospital closures in rural communities. Last year, he introduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act, legislation to help curb the trend of hospital closures in rural communities by making sure hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government.

A summary and section by section of the draft legislation can be found here. A copy of the draft bill text is available here.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) voted to pass the Fire Grants and Safety Act, legislation that will renew critical grant programs that fund essential equipment and resources for fire stations, and also help hire, train, and retain new firefighters. Originally passed by the Senate in 2023, today’s final passage also includes Warner-supported provisions that will promote nuclear energy deployment across the country.

“During my visits to fire stations across the Commonwealth, I’ve seen firsthand how these grant programs help stations hire and retain firefighters and secure important equipment upgrades. Firefighters put their lives on the line day in and day out to keep our communities safe – the least we can do is make sure they have the equipment and the personnel they need to do their jobs safely. I’m glad we finally got this legislation across the finish line, and I’m also happy to see it take important steps forward in another critical arena – improving the nuclear regulatory space. This legislation invests in our clean energy future by cutting senseless red tape, promoting American energy independence, and paving the way to bring more green jobs and infrastructure to communities across Virginia,” said Sen. Warner. 

Specifically, this legislation would reauthorize the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, which provides funding to help firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards. It would also reauthorize the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, which provides funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, "frontline" firefighters available in their communities. Finally, it would reauthorize and increase funding for the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the lead federal agency for fire data collection, fire research, and fire service training.

Since 2015, 273 AFG grants and 77 SAFER grants have been awarded to communities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2023, 37 awards were made to localities and fire departments across Virginia totaling over $25 million in funding.

In 2023, the following entities in Virginia received 26 awards totaling over $6 million in funding through the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) grant program:

  • Isle of Wight County received $959,020
  • The City of Lynchburg received $830,636
  • The City of Alexandria received $600,000
  • Frederick County received $463,450
  • Franklin County received $438,238
  • Chesterfield County received $313,880
  • City of Hopewell received $294,645
  • Loudoun County Fire & Rescue received $278,345
  • Virginia Department of Fire received $203,736
  • Patrick-Henry Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. received $186,857
  • City of Portsmouth received $177,272
  • Poquoson Fire/Rescue received $172,095
  • The Bland County Volunteer Fire Department received $163,476
  • Prince Edward County received $162,585
  • Buena Vista Firefighters received $158,914
  • Bloxom Volunteer Fire Co received $150,000
  • Couple District Volunteer Fire Department received $130,144
  • The Courtland Volunteer Fire Department received $130,144
  • Dolphin Volunteer Fire Department received $126,433
  • Brumley Gap Vol. Fire Department received $102,857
  • City of Danville Municipal Building received $83,740
  • Forest Volunteer Fire Co Foundation received $83,515
  • The Scruggs Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad in Franklin County received $66,666
  • Brookville-Timberville Volunteer Fire Department received $53,181
  • Natural Bridge Volunteer Fire Department received $33,034
  • Woodstock Fire Department received $19,047

In 2023, the following entities in Virginia received 11 awards totaling over $19 million in funding through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program:

  • The County of Albemarle received $7,146,642
  • The City of Suffolk received $4,115,448
  • The City of Manassas Park received $3,582,866
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs received $2,667,697
  • Rappahannock County received $561,617
  • Goochland County received $556,972
  • The Town of Chatham received $204,804
  • Greene County received $176,445
  • The Woodstock Fire Department received $133,043
  • Hanover County received $41,800
  • Stephens City Fire and Rescue Company in Frederick County received $21,068

The Fire Grants and Safety Act also contains provisions from the Warner-supported ADVANCE Act, bipartisan legislation that would make it easier to build nuclear power infrastructure. More specifically, the Fire Grants and Safety Act will facilitate American leadership in nuclear energy, reduce regulatory costs associated with licensing nuclear reactors, incentivize the development of next-generation reactors, strengthen the nuclear fuel supply chain, and allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to modernize and address staffing issues. Sen. Warner, a strong supporter of nuclear energy, recently launched the Senate Advanced Nuclear Caucus and has pushed directly on the Department of Defense to ensure consistent, reliable power sources for critical missions, including through the development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors.  

Sen. Warner is a strong supporter of our firefighters across the Commonwealth, and previously voted to pass the Fire Grants and Safety Act in April 2023. Since then, he has visited fire stations in Richmond and Suffolk to highlight the urgent need to secure final passage of this legislation. Following wildfires across the Shenandoah Valley earlier this year, Sen. Warner met with first responders in Harrisonburg to discuss federal resources for firefighters.

This legislation recently passed with a huge bipartisan margin in the House of Representatives. It now heads to President Biden’s desk.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on the Senate’s failure to advance the Right to IVF Act, Warner-cosponsored legislation that would protect and expand access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) services nationwide.

“For years, millions of women have safely and successfully used IVF to start and grow families, making their plans a reality and their dreams come true. Yet we’ve seen judges and politicians take direct aim at fertility care, including in Alabama, where a state Supreme Court ruling upended families’ access to IVF overnight. It isn’t a far-off threat or a fearmongering tactic – we’re in the middle of a targeted assault on women’s access to reproductive care, and we need federal protections in place so families in all 50 states have the freedom to grow if they wish to do so. I’m deeply disappointed that my colleagues failed to protect access to IVF today, including robust protections for servicemembers and military families. I stand firmly with a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and I’ll never stop fighting to protect and expand a right to IVF.”

The Right to IVF Act includes provisions from the Warner-cosponsored Access to Family Building Act, and would establish a right for individuals to access IVF and ART services, as well as an adjacent right for doctors to provide these services. It also includes measures from the Veteran Families Health Services Act, which would improve fertility treatment and counseling options for veterans and servicemembers and promote research on servicemember and veteran reproductive health. It would also take several steps to increase affordability, including through mandating coverage of fertility treatments through employer-sponsored insurance plans and other public plans, as well as the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) Program.

Sen. Warner is a longtime advocate for comprehensive protections for reproductive care. In April, Sen. Warner urged the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to require all insurance carriers in the FEHB Program to cover in-vitro fertilization (IVF) medical treatments and medications. He also cosponsored and voted to pass the Right to Contraception Act, which would codify a right to birth control, and the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect abortion access, both of which have been blocked by Republicans.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg raising concerns about the near collision of two planes at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on May 29 and the airport’s capacity for more flights. They asked Secretary Buttigieg about how DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plan to implement a provision in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, which Warner and Kaine strongly opposed, that adds ten additional flights in and out of DCA and ensure there are no additional risks to passengers, airport personnel, and facilities.

“These recent near misses underscore the critical importance of ensuring the highest safety standards at our nation's airports, particularly for an airport as busy and nationally significant as DCA,” wrote the senators. “Recent near-miss incidents raise serious questions about the current capacity of DCA to handle additional flights without compromising safety of air traffic control operations.”

“We urge you to implement these changes at DCA with the utmost caution and concern for public safety, and without adding undue and unsustainable stress to its already overburdened infrastructure and personnel. At minimum, we owe this enhanced level of scrutiny to the passengers, airline staff, and airport workers who utilize this airport every day and rely on federal government regulations to keep them safe,” they continued.

The senators asked DOT to “… please provide information on any actions that the Department is taking in light of these two near misses, including the rationale behind those actions and any potential future actions under consideration. We also request that the Department share its plans for minimizing added risk to DCA’s facilities and personnel as these additional flights are forced in to the daily schedule.”

For months, Warner and Kaine sounded the alarm about adding more flights at DCA as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. They filed an amendment to remove the ten additional flights in and out of DCA from the bill. Prior to the Senate vote, Kaine spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to strike the additional flights. Warner and Kaine ultimately voted against the bill because of this dangerous provision.

Full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Secretary Buttigieg:

We write to express our serious concern following the alarming near miss between two aircraft at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on May 29, 2024. We understand the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to investigate this incident, which follows another near miss that occurred on April 18, 2024. These recent near misses underscore the critical importance of ensuring the highest safety standards at our nation's airports, particularly for an airport as busy and nationally significant as DCA.

As you are aware, DCA operates under unique landside size constraints and, with flights taking off and landing at the airport nearly every minute of every day, the airport’s slot and perimeter rules are in place to manage the high volume of air traffic and ensure the safety and efficiency of operations. DCA, originally designed to accommodate 15 million passengers, now serves over 25 million annually. This situation that has led to significant stress on the airport’s facilities and infrastructure.

Despite the public objections of the regional Congressional delegations, a provision in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 tacks on ten additional flights in and out of DCA that are exempt from perimeter rules. It is now up to the Department and FAA to implement these changes within 60 days of enactment of this legislation. However, recent near-miss incidents raise serious questions about the current capacity of DCA to handle additional flights without compromising safety of air traffic control operations.

Ensuring that the National Airspace System is the safest and most reliable in the world must always be our top shared priority as senators and as Secretary. Therefore, we urge you to implement these changes at DCA with the utmost caution and concern for public safety, and without adding undue and unsustainable stress to its already overburdened infrastructure and personnel. At minimum, we owe this enhanced level of scrutiny to the passengers, airline staff, and airport workers who utilize this airport every day and rely on federal government regulations to keep them safe.

We ask that you please provide information on any actions that the Department is taking in light of these two near misses, including the rationale behind those actions and any potential future actions under consideration. We also request that the Department share its plans for minimizing added risk to DCA’s facilities and personnel as these additional flights are forced in to the daily schedule. That information should include discussions with DCA, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, affected carriers, and communications with other stakeholders responsive to this request.

We look forward to your prompt response and to working together to ensure that DCA remains a safe and efficient hub for air travel.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Mark R. Warner (both D-VA) introduced the Response to Conflict in Sudan Act, legislation to bolster and coordinate the U.S. response to the war in Sudan by codifying the Special Envoy for Sudan position at the U.S. Department of State. Specifically, the bill would elevate the position and require the Special Envoy to report directly to the Secretary of State; the Envoy currently reports to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. The bill would also require the Envoy to be confirmed by the Senate, reaffirming the Senate’s role in advice and consent for the appointment of senior national security officials, and ensure the Department of State appropriately staffs and resources the Envoy’s office to respond to this complex and worsening crisis. 

“I remain gravely concerned by the mass atrocities and ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan,” said Warner. “Tom Perriello, the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan, has worked diligently to deliver humanitarian aid and prioritize the safety of civilians who have been displaced by violent conflict. His efforts as Special Envoy are critical to supporting a path to ending the ongoing violence. We must ensure that the envoy role is fully resourced and elevated, and reflects the absolute seriousness of the need to secure an immediate and peaceful resolution.” 

“The conflict in Sudan has resulted in more than 150,000 civilian deaths, the displacement of millions, and a devastating humanitarian crisis. While I’m pleased that the Administration finally appointed Virginian Tom Perriello as Special Envoy for Sudan, which I strongly advocated for, we need to do more to ensure he’s empowered to fulfill his mandate,” said Kaine. “I have heard consistently from Virginians, including members of the Sudanese diaspora, about the urgent need for the U.S. to step up its engagement on this crisis. A robust U.S. response is critical to helping prevent further instability, holding the perpetrators of human rights atrocities accountable, coordinating a humanitarian response, and avoiding yet another refugee crisis. I’m introducing this bill to strengthen the role of the Special Envoy for Sudan and reaffirm the need to end the war in Sudan and secure a democratic future for the country.”  

Kaine and Warner successfully urged the Administration to appoint a Special Envoy for Sudan and applauded the appointment of Virginian Tom Perriello to the role last year. They have been focused on bringing an end to the war in Sudan and increasing humanitarian assistance to civilians. Following the outbreak of violence, Kaine held a roundtable in Richmond and Warner hosted a virtual town hall with members of Virginia’s Sudanese American community to hear their concerns. They sent a letter to the Administration urging them to extend the re-registration period for Temporary Protected Status for migrants from Sudan, which the Department of Homeland Security announced last year. In December, they sent a letter to the Administration reaffirming his urgent request for the appointment of a Special Envoy for Sudan. Kaine also participated in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Sudan in May.

Full text of the bill is available here.

  

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in introducing the Right to IVF Act, legislation to protect and expand access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) services nationwide. The Senate is expected to vote on the Right to IVF Act soon.

“For decades, millions of women have used IVF to start or grow their families and make their dreams come true,” said Sen. Warner. “It’s clear that lawmakers and judges across the country won’t stop at banning abortion – we’re witnessing a broad-scale attack on reproductive freedom that includes access to assisted reproductive technology and contraception, too. I’m glad to be standing up to these attacks by introducing the Right to IVF Act and other comprehensive measures to protect reproductive care, and I won’t stop fighting for families to have the freedom to access basic health care.”

“Following the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that restricted IVF access, Elizabeth Carr, the first person born via IVF in the United States in Norfolk, said she felt like an endangered species. I invited her to the State of the Union this year to shine a light on this issue because no one should be made to feel that way. We must take steps to protect Americans’ freedom to decide whether, when, and how to start or build their families amid state restrictions on reproductive health care,” said Sen. Kaine. “I’m proud to be introducing this comprehensive bill to protect and expand access to IVF and ART services. I hope my colleagues will pass it when it comes to the Senate floor next week.”

Specifically, the Right to IVF Act includes provisions from four bills:

  • The Access to Family Building Act, which Warner and Kaine cosponsored to
    • Establish a statutory right for individuals to access, providers to provide, and insurers to cover IVF and ART services.
    • Authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce these statutory rights.
    • Authorize a private right of action to allow adversely affected parties to sue.
  • The Veteran Families Health Services Act of 2023, which Kaine cosponsored to
    • Permanently authorize and enhance fertility treatment and counseling options for veterans and servicemembers, expand family-building assistance, improve eligibility rules, and strengthen research on servicemember and veteran long-term reproductive health.
    • Expand servicemembers’ access to fertility services before deployment to a combat zone or hazardous duty assignment and after an injury or illness.
  • The Access to Fertility Treatment and Care Act to
    • Increase affordability of fertility care, including IVF, by requiring employer-sponsored insurance plans and other public insurance plans, cover fertility treatments.
    • Standardize baseline of high-quality fertility treatment coverage under private health insurance plans and protect Americans against excessive out-of-pocket costs.
  • The Family Friendly FEHB Fairness Act to
    • Promote the standardization and widespread availability of affordable fertility treatment coverage under employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
    • Require insurance carriers that participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) Program to cover ART, including IVF treatments.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for reproductive freedom in Congress. Following an Alabama Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that led to restricted access of IVF, Warner and Kaine cosponsored the Access to Family Building Act to protect Americans’ right to IVF and other assisted reproductive technology services. In April, Warner and Kaine urged the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to require health insurance coverage of IVF medical treatments and medications for federal employees. In March, Kaine invited Norfolk-born Elizabeth Carr, the first person born in the United States via IVF, to join him as his guest at the State of the Union. Kaine held two roundtables in Norfolk and Arlington to discuss the need to protect IVF. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, Kaine worked across the aisle to introduce the Reproductive Freedom For All Act, a bipartisan bill to protect access to abortion and contraception.

The Right to IVF Act is endorsed by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, MomsRising, the Endocrine Society, Indivisible, and the What to Expect Project.

Full text of the bill is available here.

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WASHINGTON – Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) cosponsored Tyler’s Law, a bill directing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide hospitals with guidance on how emergency rooms can implement fentanyl testing in their routine drug screens. The bill is named for Tyler Shamash, a teenager who died of an overdose in part because – unbeknownst to the physician – he was not tested for fentanyl upon being checked into the emergency room.

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of 17-year-old Fairfax County resident Malcolm Kent, who died of a fentanyl overdose that might have been prevented by more comprehensive testing protocols. It’s clear that we need to start employing every mechanism we have at our disposal to catch and treat overdoses before they occur,” said Sen. Warner. “While this law will never bring back Malcolm Kent, Tyler Shamash, or the thousands we’ve lost too soon to overdoses, in their memory I am glad to push to save more lives by instituting more robust guidance on testing for fentanyl during a suspected overdose.”

In January 2023, Malcolm Kent, a 17-year-old Fairfax County resident, went to the emergency room while experiencing an overdose but was not tested for fentanyl. He died of a fentanyl overdose shortly after being discharged. His mother, Thurraya Kent, has advocated for robust measures to test for fentanyl in emergency rooms and expand access to treatment.

Tyler’s Law would direct the Secretary of HHS to:

  • Complete a study to determine how frequently emergency rooms are currently testing for fentanyl when patients come in for an overdose, as well as the associated costs and benefits/risks, and
  • Issue guidance to hospitals on implementing fentanyl testing in emergency rooms.

In 2022, 1,967 Virginians died due to overdose of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, accounting for nearly 79% of all drug overdose deaths in Virginia. Nationally, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were responsible for just over 63% of all drug overdose deaths that year. Since the start of the COVID pandemic, fentanyl has more than doubled overdose deaths among children ages 12 to 17.

Sen. Warner has consistently pushed for robust action to address the opioid epidemic, particularly by expanding telehealth so more Virginians experiencing substance use disorder can access treatment. He leads the TREATS Act, which would permanently (and without any special registration) allow telehealth prescribing of controlled substances to treat opioid use disorder, such as buprenorphine. He also repeatedly pushed the DEA to preserve pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities and create a special registration  so that quality providers can permanently prescribe controlled substances safely via telehealth. To address trafficking, he recently celebrated passage of the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, a sanctions and anti-money laundering law that targets fentanyl traffickers. He also introduced the Stop Fentanyl at the Border Act, legislation that would increase staffing capacity and technology to detect drugs that are being smuggled through points of entry. 

Tyler’s Law is led by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mike Braun (R-IN), and also cosponsored by Bob Casey (D-PA), Todd Young (R-IN), Alex Padilla (D-CA). The full text of the bill is available here.  

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a cosponsor of the Right to Contraception Act, issued the following statement after voting to advance legislation to codify the right to access contraception into law. The legislation failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to move forward by a margin of 51-39.

“For over 50 years, Americans’ right to contraception has been protected by the Supreme Court. But in the years since Roe v. Wade was overturned, we have seen countless attacks on reproductive rights across the country including, unfortunately, in Virginia. Birth control is an essential part of health care, and the right to decide if and when to start a family should never be taken away from individuals. This legislation would have protected the right of women and families to access contraception without delay, harassment, or intimidation. I’m disappointed by today’s vote, but I will continue supporting measures that allow women to access the care they need.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Warner cosponsored legislation that would guarantee timely access to birth control at pharmacies nationwide. Today’s vote follows a move by Virginia state legislators to preserve contraception access in the Commonwealth, though that effort was eventually vetoed by the Governor.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today applauded the announcement that Envigo – a breeding facility in Cumberland, Va. that engaged in egregious animal welfare violations – has plead guilty to felony violations of the Animal Welfare Act and Clean Water Act. This victory was made possible by Sens. Warner and Kaine, who began shedding light on this issue in 2022 and demanding federal action.

“Today’s settlement represents an enormous victory for animal welfare, as the perpetrators of horrific abuse against innocent dogs will pay a historic settlement for their negligence. After our advocacy for these animals, we’ve been deeply heartened to hear stories of their adoption into loving, safe homes, and this settlement takes another step critical towards justice. We’re glad to see Envigo held accountable for its crimes, and we’ll keep pushing to root out animal abuse across Virginia.”

In March of 2022, Sens. Warner and Kaine expressed horror and demanded immediate and aggressive action by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) following more than 70 animal welfare violations at the Envigo breeding and research facility in Cumberland. After these calls for action, the federal government stepped in, seizing 446 beagles in acute distress and eventually helping facilitate the surrender of nearly 4,000 dogs to the Humane Society of the Unites States (HSUS), which worked to place these dogs into homes.

Following this action, Envigo today pled guilty and agreed to pay $22 million in fines and $13.5 million to upgrade their facilities and support animal welfare and environmental projects. The settlement represents the largest-ever fine in an animal welfare case ever pursued by the Department of Justice. Envigo’s parent company, Inotiv, will face additional animal care standards and be assigned a compliance monitor.

Sen. Warner, a dog owner, has been an advocate for dogs in Virginia and throughout the country, earning a 100% on the Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Scorecard for 2021. In March, Sen. Warner secured the passage of new language requiring the Department of State to report on the status of dogs in the Explosive Detection Canine Program (EDCP). This program came under scrutiny in 2019 after an Inspector General (IG) report found that the Department failed to conduct proper follow-up after sending highly-trained dogs to foreign partner nations, resulting in the death of at least ten dogs from largely preventable illnesses.

Sens. Warner and Kaine—who have received perfect scores on the Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Scorecard in previous years—have been consistent cosponsors of the Puppy Protection Act, which would amend the Animal Welfare Act to include additional care and safety standards for dog breeders like Envigo. Under the bill, breeders would be required to house dogs in appropriately sized enclosures with solid ground and keep them on a regular diet and exercise routine. As Governor of Virginia, Kaine signed a law that imposed stricter legal penalties for dogfighting offenses.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced $1,000,000 for Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond to educate and train the primary care and supportive care workforces to provide age-friendly and dementia-friendly care to older Americans. The funding, made possible by the Fiscal Year 2024 government funding bill that Warner and Kaine helped pass, was awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP). The program was made permanent as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Warner and Kaine voted to pass.

“All Americans deserve to age with dignity, and we should make it easier for older adults to get the care they need in their communities,” said the senators. “We’re glad this funding is headed to VCU to train more health care professionals to provide care to older Americans and address health care workforce shortages.”

Warner and Kaine have long worked to expand access to care for older Americans. As a member of the Senate HELP Committee, Kaine is working to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA), which provides nutritional services, family caregiver support, long-term care programs, and other services to older Americans. In March, he introduced two witnesses from Virginia during a HELP Committee hearing on the OAA. Kaine has also introduced legislation to revitalize the long-term care workforce. As co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, Warner led efforts to introduce and pass the National Alzheimer’s Project to treat and prevent the disease. Kaine’s bipartisan BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Reauthorization Actlegislation to reauthorize funding for public health initiatives across the country to combat Alzheimer’s disease and preserve brain health, passed out of the Senate HELP Committee last month.

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