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WASHINGTON – Today, a group of top Senate Democrats wrote to President Trump, urging him in the strongest possible terms to avoid meeting alone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a letter to the White House, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senate Armed Services Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI), Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) all encouraged the President to cancel the summit if he is not prepared to press Putin on Russia’s attack on the 2016 election and demand that Russian intelligence officials indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice be handed over to stand trial. 

“If you insist on meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, we write to urge that you include senior members of your team and not meet one-on-one with Mr. Putin, as reportedly planned. Mr. Putin is a trained KGB intelligence veteran who will come to this meeting well-prepared. As the Kremlin said last week, a one-on-one meeting with you ‘absolutely suits’ him. There must be other Americans in the room,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators also urged Trump to make Russia’s attack on the U.S. elections the top issue of the meeting, and pressed him to follow up on yesterday’s indictment of 12 Russians for hacking Democratic campaign officials and state elections boards. 

“If you are not prepared to make Russia’s attack on our election the top issue you will discuss, then you should cancel the Helsinki summit. Mr. Putin is not a friend of the United States. The unanimous judgment of the professional men and women of the United States intelligence community is that Russia, at Mr. Putin’s direction, undertook a sophisticated campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election – a judgment that was just last week upheld in a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee,” said the Senators. “Just yesterday, the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents with hacking the computer networks of U.S. political organizations. These follow previous indictments of 13 Russians associated with the St. Petersburg ‘troll factory.’ These individuals must be brought to the United States so that they can stand trial, and you should demand that Mr. Putin hand them over.”

Added the Senators, “We hope that you will use the opportunity of a meeting with Mr. Putin to advance a well-coordinated U.S. message, supported by senior leaders in your own administration, to hold Russia accountable for its unacceptable behavior. To do so, you must rely on the expertise and the experts of the State Department, Defense Department, CIA and other U.S. government agencies – not wing it on your own.”

The summit is part of a foreign trip planned by the White House which included visits to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels and London. During this trip, President Trump threatened to pull out of the military alliance. Undermining the U.S.- NATO relationship has been a longtime goal of Putin. 

“Our intelligence leaders unanimously assess that Mr. Putin will continue to try to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections. Russia continues its aggressive policy to undermine NATO, European solidarity, and Western institutions and norms. It continues to support a murderous regime in Syria, and to destabilize and occupy parts of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin wants to see the West divided and weakened. You must not play into his aims,” the Senators counseled.

The letter was sent a day after the U.S. Justice Department announced new charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Clinton campaign. The indictments are part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

 

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

 

July 14, 2018

 

President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Trump:

 If you insist on meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, we write to urge that you include senior members of your team and not meet one-on-one with Mr. Putin, as reportedly planned. Mr. Putin is a trained KGB intelligence veteran who will come to this meeting well-prepared. As the Kremlin said last week, a one-on-one meeting with you “absolutely suits” him. There must be other Americans in the room.

If you are not prepared to make Russia’s attack on our election the top issue you will discuss, then you should cancel the Helsinki summit. Mr. Putin is not a friend of the United States. The unanimous judgment of the professional men and women of the United States intelligence community is that Russia, at Mr. Putin’s direction, undertook a sophisticated campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election – a judgment that was just last week upheld in a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Just yesterday, the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian military intelligence agents with hacking the computer networks of U.S. political organizations. These follow previous indictments of 13 Russians associated with the St. Petersburg “troll factory.” These individuals must be brought to the United States so that they can stand trial, and you should demand that Mr. Putin hand them over.

Our intelligence leaders unanimously assess that Mr. Putin will continue to try to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections. Russia continues its aggressive policy to undermine NATO, European solidarity, and Western institutions and norms. It continues to support a murderous regime in Syria, and to destabilize and occupy parts of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin wants to see the West divided and weakened. You must not play into his aims.

We hope that you will use the opportunity of a meeting with Mr. Putin to advance a well-coordinated U.S. message, supported by senior leaders in your own administration, to hold Russia accountable for its unacceptable behavior. To do so, you must rely on the expertise and the experts of the State Department, Defense Department, CIA and other U.S. government agencies – not wing it on your own.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement today after the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for criminally interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election:

“Today’s indictment by the Department of Justice of 12 Russian spies for hacking our election is another testament to the quality and professionalism of the investigation being run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The President and his allies must cease and desist their baseless, inflammatory attacks on an investigation that, even before today, had already produced multiple indictments and secured guilty pleas from two Trump campaign aides as well as the President’s former national security adviser.    

“Just this morning in the United Kingdom, President Trump blamed the poor state of U.S.-Russia relations on ‘the rigged witch hunt,’ claiming that it ‘really hurts our country and it really hurts our relationship with Russia.’ The President is wrong. As today’s indictment makes crystal clear, tensions between our two nations exist because Russia attacked our democracy. 

“That’s all the more reason why he must not meet one-on-one with Vladimir Putin, who, in the absence of U.S. experts or advisers, will undoubtedly take full advantage of an ill-prepared President. And if the Administration is unwilling to make the facts laid out in today’s indictment a top priority for that discussion, then that meeting shouldn’t happen.”

 

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Washington, D.C. — Late yesterday, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats expressing deep concern that classified and highly sensitive documents have been made broadly accessible to all members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, rather than a select group of designated Members.  As the Democratic Leaders write, Director Coats’s decision to widely release these classified documents could put sources and methods at risk.

In the letter, the Members write: “While we understand the need for congressional oversight, this action - which we understand was taken at your direction - contravenes your representation to us and our colleagues that this information would not be shared outside that group. … All of the meeting's attendees agreed that the information discussed was among the most sensitive type of information and should be protected accordingly.  We believe your decision could put sources and methods at risk.”

 

 

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The full letter is below:

 

July 12, 2018

 

 

Honorable Daniel Coats

Director

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Washington, DC 20511

 

Dear Director Coats:

 

In recent days, we learned that certain classified documents that were originally made available to a small group of designated members have been made more broadly available to all members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.  While we understand the need for congressional oversight, this action - which we understand was taken at your direction - contravenes your representation to us and our colleagues that this information would not be shared outside that group.  

 

As you know, during our meetings on this sensitive matter we discussed at great length the importance of protecting sources and methods and ongoing investigations.  All of the meeting's attendees agreed that the information discussed was among the most sensitive type of information and should be protected accordingly.  We believe your decision could put sources and methods at risk.

 

Further, we are concerned that your action was in direct contravention of our verbal and written requests (letters on June 5, 2018 and June 27, 2018) to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Wray.  

 

This is a matter of serious importance and we believe a follow-on meeting of the Gang of Eight is needed as soon as possible.

 

Sincerely,

 

NANCY PELOSI

House Democratic Leader

CHUCK SCHUMER

Senate Democratic Leader

ADAM SCHIFF

Ranking Member, House Intelligence Committee 

MARK WARNER

Vice Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner hosted a roundtable with representatives of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Virginia Latina Advocacy Network, and other women’s healthcare advocates to discuss President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. 

“What I heard from physicians, community health organizations, and advocates is that communities across the Commonwealth fear for the future of safe access to women’s reproductive healthcare,” said Sen. Warner. “As the Senate considers Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, it’s important for me to hear from Virginians about issues that could affect their freedoms and well-being.” 

President Trump has repeatedly stated that he will nominate candidates to serve on the Supreme Court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. On Monday, July 9, President Trump nominated Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Sen. Warner plans to closely examine Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record thoroughly during the nomination process. Sen. Warner has warned that he cannot support a Supreme Court nominee who would undermine healthcare protections, women’s rights, workers’ rights, voting rights, or LGBT rights.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking and Finance Committees, joined Senate colleagues in urging the Chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees to include a Senate-passed amendment cosponsored by Sen. Warner that would reinstate penalties against ZTE in their upcoming NDAA FY2019 Conference Report. Earlier this year, intelligence leaders testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee warning that ZTE, Huawei, and other Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies have the capacity for espionage and intellectual property theft, posing clear threats to the national security, people, and economy of the United States. This week, President Trump’s Commerce Department announced an agreement to lift the ban preventing Chinese telecom giant ZTE from doing business with American suppliers.

Additionally, Senators urged the conferees to include the reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which were a part of the recently passed Senate NDAA bill. These reforms, also known as the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), would ensure that foreign investments in the U.S. do not pose a national security risk.

Sen. Warner, a former technology executive, has long expressed concern that ZTE poses a significant threat to our national security. He recently wrote to the administration urging President Trump to re-consider a deal with the China-based company.

The text of the letter to NDAA conferees can be found here and below:

 

Dear Chairmen McCain and Thornberry, and Ranking Members Reed and Smith:

 

We write to express our strong support for measures in the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2019 NDAA) that would reinstate U.S. government penalties against ZTE, a Chinese state-directed telecommunications company, and modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).  As you begin deliberations over the final version of the FY 2019 NDAA, we request that you include these two measures.

 

Section 6702:  Prohibition on Modification of Civil Penalties under Export Control and Sanctions Laws and Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications Equipment.

 

We strongly oppose the June 2018 deal with ZTE negotiated by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to lift the seven-year ban against the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE.  BIS imposed this seven-year ban and other penalties against ZTE in April 2018 in response to its numerous violations of U.S. export controls and sanctions laws. 

 

We also note that our nation’s six top intelligence leaders testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018 about their concern that ZTE, Huawei, and other Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies are beholden to the Chinese government and Communist Party, which provides the capacity for espionage and intellectual property theft, and therefore poses clear threats to the national security, people, and economy of the United States.  

 

As you prepare the Conference Report, we therefore urge you to retain—and further strengthen—Section 6702 of the Senate-passed FY 2019 NDAA, which would not only reinstate the April 2018 penalties against ZTE and prohibit the modification of any penalties against a Chinese telecommunications firm unless certain conditions are met, but also prohibit the U.S. government from using or procuring equipment from, or entering into a contract with ZTE or Huawei. 

 

Title XVII:  Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018

 

We also thank you for your work protecting our national security and intellectual property by ensuring that foreign countries are not engaged in illicit behavior when investing in the United States.

 

As you are aware, the Senate version of the FY 2019 NDAA includes important reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that were part of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA).  Those reforms are vital to protecting our national security and preventing intellectual property theft by foreign countries—including the People’s Republic of China. 

 

As you negotiate a conference report for the 2019 NDAA, we urge you to include the Senate-passed CFIUS reforms and ensure that the final language fully addresses our national security and competitiveness concerns.  We believe that efforts to weaken the robust protections in the FIRRMA will embolden our adversaries and present threats to our national security.

 

We thank you for your leadership, and we appreciate your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

  

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that three Virginia organizations will receive $891,303 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Labor to help homeless veterans re-enter the workforce. 

The funds – in the form of three competitive Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants – include $227,263 for Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, Inc.; $355,050 for STOP Inc., in Hampton Roads; and $308,990 for River City Comprehensive Counseling Services in Glen Allen, Va. 

“Virginia’s veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to fight for our nation. Now, we need to fight for them and help ensure that they have the resources they need to succeed and thrive after completing their service,” said the Senators. “These grants will provide homeless veterans with counseling and a variety of career services in order to help them re-integrate into the workforce.” 

HVRP funds are awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards; local public agencies and nonprofit organizations; tribal governments; and faith-based and community organizations. Homeless veterans may receive occupational skills training, apprenticeship opportunities, and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance. Grantees under the HVRP program will coordinate their efforts with other federal programs, such as the Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families program and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care program.

Sens. Warner and Kaine both have long records of advocating for the nation’s veterans through the appropriations process and legislation they have championed to reduce veteran homelessness, improve job training opportunities for veterans, and expand access to veterans’ health care.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Banking and Finance committees, issued the below statement regarding the U.S. Department of Commerce’s agreement to lift the ban on Chinese telecom giant ZTE doing business with American suppliers:

“I share the grave concerns of our military and the intelligence community, which are unanimous in their conclusion that ZTE — a state-controlled company with ties to Chinese intelligence — presents an ongoing threat to our national security. I also share many of the concerns the President has voiced in the past about China’s unfair trade practices, which have cheated American workers and permitted Chinese companies to steal the intellectual property of American firms with virtually no consequences. 

“This sweetheart deal not only ignores these serious issues, it lets ZTE off the hook for evading sanctions against Iran and North Korea with a slap on the wrist.”

 

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WASHINGTON – In response to President Trump’s abuse of Section 232 to unilaterally impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from our closest allies, the Senate today voted 88-11 to re-assert Congress’ constitutional role in U.S. trade policy. U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), who is a leading sponsor of bipartisan legislation requiring the White House to seek Congressional approval before issuing tariffs designated in the interest of national security, applauded today’s move.

“President Trump’s ill-considered steel and aluminum tariffs will make it more expensive for Virginians to buy something as big as a new car or as small as a can of beer. They’re also causing unnecessary pain and uncertainty for Virginia’s ag producers as our allies impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports of soybeans, pork, and more,” said Sen. Warner. “I believe that we should hold China accountable for unfair trade practices, and I support strong trade enforcement rules that protect American workers. But the President should not be relying on a law intended to uphold national security in order to impose tariffs on our strongest allies.” 

Added Senator Warner, “A majority of Senators from both parties have sent a message to President Trump that using ‘national security’ as a pretext to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from our closest allies is unacceptable. While today’s vote was non-binding, it’s a good first step in re-asserting Congress’ constitutional responsibility on trade policy. We must act in order to make sure that Americans can keep buying affordable products and selling our goods abroad.”

Today’s vote was a procedural motion on what’s known as a “motion to instruct,” directing Senators working to reconcile differences between separate funding packages passed by the House and the Senate to push for the inclusion of language that would give Congress a say in the White House’s national security tariffs. One way lawmakers could comply with the motion to instruct would be to adopt language closely mirroring legislation introduced by Sen. Warner along with Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. President Trump has used this provision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs that target imports from some of the United States’ closest allies like Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. As a result, businesses that make products containing these materials, such as Virginia craft beer producers, expect to see increased production costs that will likely mean higher prices for Virginia consumers. 

In addition, several countries have announced they plan to impose retaliatory tariffs on key Virginia agricultural exports in response to the Administration’s trade policy. Just last week, as retaliation for the President’s trade moves, Beijing slapped a 25 percent tariff increase on imports of several U.S. products, including soybeans and pork. Given that the Chinese are the world’s leading consumers of pork, and the country purchases nearly one-third of all U.S. soybean production, the maneuver is expected to further hurt pork producers and soybean growers in Virginia who were already reeling as a result of President Trump’s trade policies.

The bill, which has 16 bipartisan Senate co-sponsors, has been endorsed by more than 270 business and agricultural groups, including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. A longer list of organizations supporting the bill is available here. 

 

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WASHINGTON – Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats asking whether assessments by our nation’s Intelligence Community (IC) align with the Trump Administration’s public pronouncements regarding North Korean denuclearization. 

On July 8, 2018, following talks with North Korean officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We had detailed, substantive conversations about the next steps toward a fully verified and complete denuclearization… There will be verification connected to the complete denuclearization. That’s what President Trump and Chairman Kim both agreed to.”

A joint statement issued by the President and the North Korean leader on June 12, 2018, similarly stated that “Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”  

Additionally, on June 13, 2018, the President declared via tweet that “everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat [sic] from North Korea.”

In light of those statements, Sen. Warner asked DNI Coats to produce and deliver to the congressional intelligence committees a definitive IC assessment regarding:

  • The willingness of Kim Jong Un to take concrete measures that would significantly reduce North Korea’s nuclear weapons stockpile or nuclear production capability in a way that would match his supposed commitment to “complete denuclearization”;
  • The willingness of Kim Jong Un to accept the kind of intrusive inspections that would verifiably demonstrate that North Korea has abandoned and dismantled its nuclear program;
  • What a complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization process would look like from the IC’s perspective; and
  • A description of how North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program presents a persistent threat to the United States, U.S. territories, and our allies.

A copy of Sen. Warner’s letter to DNI Coats is available here. 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement on the passing of former Mayor Bill Ward, the longest serving mayor of the City of Chesapeake:

“I am saddened to hear that my friend Bill Ward has passed away. Bill had the distinction of being the longest-serving mayor in Chesapeake history, helping it become the city that it is today. As the city’s first – and so far only – African-American mayor, his election also helped open the door to the promise of more diverse representation in the region.

“Bill remained deeply involved in his community after leaving elected office, teaching at Norfolk State University for 27 years and working with local organizations to help protect the history of this city and provide mentorship and support to local high school students. His service to our community was a clear testament to his commitment to Chesapeake and the region. 

“My deepest sympathies go out to his wife of nearly 60 years, Rose, and the rest of his family, friends, and colleagues. His strong sense of duty and service will be dearly missed.”

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) met with Robert Wilkie, President Trump’s nominee to be the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). During the meeting, Sen. Warner and Wilkie discussed the need to reform the VA without privatizing the system, improve care for veterans at VA facilities, and continue reducing wait times for veteran patients. 

“The VA’s mission is one of the most important, and difficult jobs of all of our federal agencies,” said Sen. Warner. “As VA Secretary, Mr. Wilkie’s leadership will be essential in continuing to reform and strengthen the VA to ensure that it provides the very best care to our veterans.”

Virginia is home to three VA medical centers that serve the Commonwealth’s veteran population: McGuire VA Medical Center (Richmond), Hampton VA Medical Center, and Salem VA Medical Center.

In the Senate, Sen. Warner spearheaded a bipartisan effort to approve overdue VA medical leases, including two new outpatient clinics in Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg, a measure which Congress approved last year. He also led a legislative effort to restore tax payments to combat-injured veterans, which resulted in more than 133,000 notifications sent to veterans by the Department of Defense (DoD). Recently, he pressed the VA on critical failures that have endangered veterans at the D.C. Medical Center and the quality of care at nursing homes in Virginia and across the country. 

Mr. Wilkie, a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, currently serves as the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, a position he was nominated to by President Trump and approved unanimously by the Senate. Wilkie previously served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs under Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld. He also served as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush for National Security Affairs and as Senior Director of the National Security Council under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In the Senate, he served as an aide to Sens. Jesse Helms (R-NC), Trent Lott (R-MS), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

President Trump nominated Mr. Wilkie to serve as his next VA Secretary in May, a position that at the time he was filling temporarily following the firing of former VA Secretary David Shulkin. Last month, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing to consider Mr. Wilkie’s nomination and a vote by the full committee is expected later today. It is not clear when the full Senate will vote on his confirmation.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Congressman Bob Goodlatte announced $750,000 in federal funding to help the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission bring new non-stop service from Roanoke Regional Airport to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and/or Detroit, Michigan. The Commission can use the funds for a revenue guarantee, a marketing program, and fee waivers. This effort was a community collaboration where the Roanoke Regional Chamber and the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce worked with local businesses, who are frequent users of Roanoke Regional Airport, to secure pledges to match these funds. The Roanoke Regional Airport Commission led the process to secure the public sector funding. This funding will be formally announced at the Roanoke Regional Chamber today at 10:00 AM.

“Roanoke Regional Airport is vital to the economic health of the entire region and Virginia as a whole. We are proud to announce these grant dollars that will ensure the airport continues to offer flights that attract tourism and business and offer Virginians more travel options,” the Senators and Congressman said. “Congratulations to the Airport Commission and the local Chambers that worked so hard together to secure these funds.”    

“The Roanoke Regional Airport Commission is thrilled to have been awarded a Small Community Air Service Development Grant. We sincerely appreciate the support from the community and our stakeholders, including Sens. Kaine and Warner and Rep. Goodlatte. We are hopeful that given two and a half’s years of passenger growth, these funds will help secure additional service to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver and/or Detroit. Air service is a critical component for economic development and we feel this is a significant step in the right direction,” Tim Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport, said.

“Better connectivity from ROA will open new markets throughout the country for existing businesses and help attract new investment in the Roanoke region. We are excited to see how this grant will improve service from ROA, and we appreciate the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission’s commitment to supporting our community’s needs and economic growth,” Joyce Waugh, Roanoke Regional Chamber President & CEO, said. 

“Collaborative efforts such as this support existing business travel needs, ensure our region remains attractive to new business, and create new economic opportunities.  We look forward to continuing to work with our regional partners and our elected representatives to bring more opportunity to rural areas in Virginia’s Blue Ridge,” Sheri Winesett, Botetourt Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said. 

The funding was awarded through the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) under the Department of Transportation. These funds help smaller communities address air service access and high fares. 

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with Jim Carroll, the Acting Director and President Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the office in charge of combating the national opioid epidemic. During the meeting, Sen. Warner and Acting Director Carroll discussed the importance of expanding substance abuse treatment programs for rural communities in Virginia that have been hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic. 

“There are too many families in Virginia that have been devastated by the opioid epidemic. I appreciate the opportunity to hear how Acting Director Carroll plans to spearhead one of the Administration’s most critical offices to combat this national health crisis,” said Sen. Warner. “While I remain deeply concerned about the Trump Administration’s proposed steep cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I will closely monitor Acting Director Carroll’s nomination process to ensure he is the right candidate to tackle the national crisis on our hands.”

More Virginians died of opioid overdoses in 2017 than in any year in at least the past decade. In just five years, Virginia went from 572 annual opioid-related overdose deaths to 1,227 deaths due to overdoses. The ONDCP plays a significant role in the Administration’s effort to combat the national opioid crisis. The office is tasked with leading and coordinating the development, implementation and assessment of U.S. drug policy. It administers the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas and Drug-Free Communities grants and oversees the drug control activities of 16 federal agencies.

In his FY19 budget, President Trump proposed cutting 95 percent of ONDCP’s funding, which will force the office to shift its two main grant programs to the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The shift could pose negative consequences on the overall effectiveness of the programs in tackling the opioid epidemic.

In February 2018, Trump nominated Carroll to serve as the Director of ONDCP. Prior to his nomination, Carroll was tapped as the Acting Director for ONDCP and served as the Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to John Kelly. On Thursday, July 11, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Carroll’s nomination.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court:

“There is much at stake with President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by Justice Kennedy’s retirement. The next Supreme Court justice will determine whether women will maintain their constitutional right to reproductive health care; whether we will continue to protect people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination; whether we are a country that lives by our values when it comes to voting rights, women’s rights, workers' rights, and the rights of LGBT Americans. The stakes are made that much higher by an Administration that routinely violates longstanding norms and pushes ethical boundaries past the breaking point. We need a Supreme Court that can act as a check on the executive branch now more than ever. 

“Time and time again, President Trump has said that he will only nominate candidates who will vote to undermine those rights and who will work to overturn Roe v. Wade. That simple fact, and that this nominee comes from a list put together by ultra-conservative groups who do not support these core values, give me grave concerns that Judge Kavanaugh is not the right pick to serve on our nation’s highest court.

“I plan to carefully examine Judge Kavanaugh's record and judicial philosophy. I cannot and will not support a nominee who would take this country backwards by undermining our fundamental rights and American values.” 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement on President Trump’s trade war, which has resulted in China imposing tariffs today on Virginia goods: 

“China engages in unfair trade actions that must be addressed, but today, President Trump’s mishandling of the trade situation caused China to officially retaliate against the U.S. by placing tariffs on $34 billion worth of American goods. And who will be hit the hardest? Virginia farmers, manufacturers, and consumers. The trade war that President Trump created moves us further away from a solution, punishes American workers, and raises prices on the products families rely on. President Trump needs to resolve this irresponsible dispute quickly before he does irreparable damage to Virginia’s agricultural industry and economy.”

Despite clear warnings from China that they would retaliate with high tariffs on soybeans, Virginia’s number one agricultural export, President Trump placed tariffs on China at 12:01 am on Friday, July 6. China quickly responded today with tariffs on $34 billion of American goods, including soybeans, beef, cotton, and dairy. Soybean production in Virginia accounts for roughly $187 million in economic output, which helps supports thousands of jobs in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed that China is the Commonwealth’s biggest export market for agricultural goods and suggested President Trump’s tariffs could hurt Virginia businesses and employees.  China is also imposing tariffs on more than 500 other American goods exported to the country. President Trump has tweeted that “trade wars are good.”

Warner and Kaine spoke out for months asking President Trump to avoid the tariffs that China imposed today.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded the $86,200 in funds awarded to Virginia communities by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development. The funds will go towards the purchase of police and public works vehicles and equipment for rural communities in the towns of Shenandoah, Louisa, and Clintwood, and in the city of Norton.

“We are pleased this funding will allow communities in Virginia to update their public works and safety programs,” the Senators said. “This money will help the towns of Louisa and Clintwood and the city of Norton purchase new police vehicles. It will also help support community investments in the towns of Shenandoah and Louisa. These are funds that will help improve public safety and revitalize local communities.” 

The following localities will receive funding:

 

  • The Town of Shenandoah will receive $16,200 towards the purchase of new full-size backhoe that will help provide public works services and upkeep the town’s property. 
  • The Town of Louisa will receive $20,000 towards the purchase of one police vehicle and one public works vehicle.
  • The Town of Clintwood will receive $25,000 towards the purchase of one police vehicle.
  • The City of Norton will receive $25,000 towards the purchase of two police vehicles.

 

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

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced more than $2.05 million to preserve six historic battlefields in Virginia. These grants were awarded through the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is one of more than a dozen programs operated by NPS that provide states and local communities with technical assistance, recognition, and funding to help preserve their own history and create close-to-home recreation opportunities.

“Virginia is home to some of our nation’s most significant history,” said the Senators. “These funds will help local conservation groups and localities protect these important sites for future generations.”

Earlier this year, President Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposed to significantly cut funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), reducing the program by more than 95 percent from the $400 million level previously appropriated by Congress. The budget also proposed eliminating American Battlefield Protection Program acquisition grants, which are funded from LWCF—a cut of $10 million. The LWCF has long served as the primary tool for acquiring key sites or otherwise expanding historic and cultural parks managed by the NPS. In total, the proposed budget requested just $8.1 million for federal land acquisition programs across the Department of the Interior.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have worked to preserve and protect Virginia’s historic battlefield sites. They successfully passed legislation to add more than 7,000 acres to the Petersburg National Battlefield through the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Last week, Sen. Warner worked with colleagues and the Trump Administration to introduce bipartisan, consensus legislation to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at NPS operated sites, including more than a $1 billion in Virginia alone. When Kaine first joined the Senate, he introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) that was signed into law in 2014 to reauthorize and expand the American Battlefield Protection Program. As Governor, Kaine worked across the aisle to preserve more than 400,000 acres of open space in Virginia. 

The following historic battlefields will receive funding from the Department of the Interior:

  • Second Manassas Battlefield will receive $519,515 in federal funding.
  • Opequon Battlefield will receive $910,500 in federal funding.
  • New Market Battlefield will receive $143,248 in federal funding.
  • New Market Heights Battlefield will receive $193,722 in federal funding.
  • Rappahannock Station II will receive $240,306.25 in federal funding.
  • Trevilian Station Battlefield will receive $47,751 in federal funding.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced a $2.5 million dollar loan for Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc. to open a new health care facility in Eastville, Virginia offering affordable medical and dental care. The new center will replace the aging Bayview and Franktown Community Health Center with a facility that offers expanded operating hours, more lab services, increased access to dental care, and opportunity to incorporate telemedicine in their practice. 

“We are pleased to support efforts to launch a new health care facility on the Eastern Shore to help meet the shortage of medical and dental care in the area and encourage more health care providers to expand coverage to the region,” the Senators said.

The funding is awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development. Additional funding for the health care facility comes from Eastern Shore Rural Health System Inc., as well as private corporations and foundations.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the Committee’s unclassified summary of its initial findings on the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Russian activities in the 2016 U.S. elections. The Committee finds that the overall judgments issued in the ICA were well-supported and the tradecraft was strong. The course of the Committee’s investigation has shown that the Russian cyber operations were more extensive than the hack of the Democratic National Committee and continued well through the 2016 election.  

“The Committee has spent the last 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the Intelligence Community Assessment and sees no reason to dispute the conclusions,” said Chairman Burr. “The Committee continues its investigation and I am hopeful that this installment of the Committee’s work will soon be followed by additional summaries providing the American people with clarity around Russia’s activities regarding U.S. elections.”  

“Our investigation thoroughly reviewed all aspects of the January 2017 ICA, which assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign to target our presidential election and to destabilize our democratic institutions,” said Vice Chairman Warner. “As numerous intelligence and national security officials in the Trump administration have since unanimously re-affirmed, the ICA findings were accurate and on point.  The Russian effort was extensive and sophisticated, and its goals were to undermine public faith in the democratic process, to hurt Secretary Clinton and to help Donald Trump.  While our investigation remains ongoing, we have to learn from 2016 and do more to protect ourselves from attacks in 2018 and beyond.”

The summary is the second unclassified installment in the Committee’s report on Russian election activities.  

The Committee held a closed door hearing in May to review the ICA on “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.” Members heard testimony from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan and former Director of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers, which informed the Committee’s report. 

You can read a copy of the unclassified summary here.

 

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WASHINGTON – Ahead of President Trump’s scheduled trip to Europe for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit and a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA)—Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence—and top Senate Democrats laid out expectations for President Trump to stay focused on reaffirming America’s commitment to our longstanding transatlantic NATO allies and against Russian aggression around the world.  

In a letter signed by Vice Chairman Warner and Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Democratic Whip; and Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senators warned the President not to make any concessions that could further compromise the post-World War II order. 

“Clear U.S. leadership is necessary to counter President Putin’s efforts to undermine the NATO alliance and its founding values,” wrote the Senators, citing Russia’s interference in democratic elections, aggressions in Ukraine, occupation of Crimea, and its steadfast support of the Assad regime in Syria. “While there is a place for dialogue between nations on disagreements and common challenges, such as reducing nuclear dangers, we are deeply concerned that your Administration continues to send mixed messages regarding the Russian security threat.” 

The Senators also listed critical topics for President Trump to discuss with NATO allies, adding, “it is imperative that you make a strong statement of support for the democratic nations that make up the Alliance and make clear that the United States stands with—not in opposition to—our oldest and closest allies.”  

“We stand ready to engage with your Administration, and with our NATO partners, to further the implementation of [CAATSA] and a coherent, coordinated U.S. policy toward Russia that reflects the realities of Russia’s aggression and our nation’s deepest democratic values,” concludes the letter. 

A copy of the letter to President Trump can be found here and below.

 

July 2, 2018

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

We strongly disagree with your past statements praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, in spite of overwhelming evidence from our intelligence community that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, its illegal occupation of Crimea, its support for a war criminal in Syria, as well as its other destabilizing actions against the United States and our allies.  If you continue with your plan to meet with President Putin, you must hold him accountable for these actions. During your trip to Europe, we urge you to remember at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit in Brussels that NATO’s collective security principles have served to keep our nation secure and prosperous since the end of the Second World War.  

 

Clear U.S. leadership is necessary to counter President Putin’s efforts to undermine the NATO alliance and its founding values. In the last few years, the Kremlin has conducted a widespread campaign of interference in democratic processes around the globe, including in our own U.S. elections. From its violent aggression in eastern Ukraine, to its illegal occupation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, to its support for the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria – there is no evidence that the Government of the Russian Federation has changed or plans to change its behavior. If anything, the Kremlin appears to feel emboldened that it can launch attacks against the U.S. and our NATO allies – in the form of cyber attacks, disinformation, misinformation, and political interference, including the use of chemical agents on UK soil – with impunity.

 

While there is a place for dialogue between nations on disagreements and common challenges, such as reducing nuclear dangers, we are deeply concerned that your Administration continues to send mixed messages regarding the Russian security threat. 

 

During your meeting with President Putin, we ask that you convey that there will be clear consequences for Russia’s interference in democratic processes in the United States and elsewhere, its support for violence and bloodshed in Ukraine and Syria, and the illegal occupation of Crimea.  We strongly urge you to stand steadfast on the U.S. commitment to the mutual defense of our Allies and to the people of Ukraine. Congress will strongly oppose any step to degrade our strong bilateral relationship with Ukraine, including decreasing security assistance. In keeping with the United States’ longstanding support for human rights, we urge you to also raise the plight of prisoners in Russia and areas under Russian control who have been detained simply for peacefully expressing their political views and/or religious beliefs.

We agree with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement on April 27, 2018 that NATO has been “an essential pillar of American security interests for decades” and that, “In light of Russia’s unacceptable actions, NATO is more indispensable than ever.” In addition to urging NATO allies to meet their commitments to spend 2% of GDP on defense, working to boost NATO rapid mobility and readiness capacities, and addressing cyber threats and other evolving forms of hybrid warfare, it is imperative that you make a strong statement of support for the democratic nations that make up the Alliance and make clear that the United States stands with—not in opposition to—our oldest and closest allies.

The United States’ NATO allies rushed to collectively defend the security and freedom of the United States when—for the first and only time—Article 5 of the NATO treaty was invoked following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Brave citizens of our NATO allies have since put their lives on the line alongside U.S. military and civilians, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to combat terrorism and to tackle a range of security threats, sometimes paying the ultimate sacrifice in the process. This is a legacy that merits renewed efforts by the United States to reinforce the alliance, rather than diminish it.

Secretary Pompeo also said in April that “NATO should not return to business as usual with Russia until Moscow shows a clear change in its actions and complies with international law.” As you know, Congress is virtually unanimous on its concerns over Russia, as demonstrated by the passage of last year’s Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act which you signed into law in August 2017. We stand ready to engage with your Administration, and with our NATO partners, to further the implementation of this law and a coherent, coordinated U.S. policy toward Russia that reflects the realities of Russia’s aggression and our nation’s deepest democratic values.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia has received $9,807,162 in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency responsible for AmeriCorps and other national service programs. 

These grants will ensure 1,448 AmeriCorps members can continue to volunteer their service to communities across the Commonwealth through nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and faith-based groups.

Since 2017, the Trump Administration advocated for drastic cuts to critical national service programs, including CNCS. Earlier this year, Sens. Warner and Kaine supported the omnibus spending bill that included more than $1 billion in funding for CNCS.

“AmeriCorps members across Virginia help create positive change for the communities they serve,” said the Senators.  “From helping to tackle the opioid crisis, to protecting our historic public lands, their volunteer work goes a long way to building a better, stronger Commonwealth. We are pleased to announce continued funding for this important work.”

The projects funded by the AmeriCorps grants are:

  • American National Red Cross DC, Red Cross Corps—Fairfax, Va.—$1,066,400 AmeriCorps Funding; $473,600 Education Awards: members will install and test smoke detectors in neighborhoods vulnerable to natural disasters, especially wildfires.
  • City of Richmond-Human Services Commission, Richmond Area Healthy Futures Project—Richmond, Va.—$138,186 AmeriCorps Funding; $59,200 Education Awards: members will help expand services geared towards the prevention of opioid and heroin addiction and assist in recovery efforts.  
  • CARITAS, CARITAS AmeriCorps—Richmond, Va.—$235,106 AmeriCorps Funding; $100,640 Education Awards: members will help provide services to individuals and families who are homeless achieve affordable housing, assist with job placement efforts, and mentorship programs to help substance abuse recovery.
  • Institute for Advanced Learning & Research, Dan River Year AmeriCorps—Danville, Va.—$235,444 AmeriCorps Funding; $93,655 Education Awards: members will assist with STEM literacy among children and adults.
  • Catholic Charities USA, CCUSA AmeriCorps Peer Navigators—Alexandria, Va.—$118,400 Education Awards: members will help veterans and military families with accessing their benefits and ensuring their educational, social services, and physical/emotional needs.
  • Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Charities USA Refugee Resettlement—Alexandria, Va.—$271,491 AmeriCorps Funding; $142,080 Education Awards: members will assist with the resettlement of 3,000 refugees and other eligible populations, by helping them to assimilate in the U.S. 
  • Student Conservation Association, Inc., SCA AmeriCorps—Arlington, Va.—$321,602 AmeriCorps Funding; $2,505,102 Education Awards: members will engage in a number of projects that aim to protect, restore, and enhance public lands and waterways.
  • Student Conservation Association, Inc., SCA AmeriCorps Stewardship Teams—Arlington, Va.—$177,600 Education Awards: members will help inspire future leaders to become good stewards of the environment.
  • The Nature Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy National AmeriCorps—Arlington, Va.—$328,504 AmeriCorps Funding; $130,240 Education Awards: members will engage in local, state, and national environmental conservation work.

CNCS will also provide an additional $3,800,517 in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards, a post-service benefit that can be used to cover the costs of post-secondary education or help pay off student loans. In addition, the federal investment announced today will help generate an additional $18,211,236 from the private sector, foundations, and other sources – further increasing the return on the federal investment.

The federal investment today also includes $3,409,912 for the Virginia Office of Volunteerism and Community Service, the Governor-appointed state service commission, to support additional AmeriCorps programs in the state.

 

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS). The consensus proposal is the product of bipartisan discussions among the senators who had previously introduced bills to address the Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog. The legislation has been praised by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign, and the Outdoor Industry Association. 

Due to years of chronic underfunding, NPS has deferred maintenance for a year or more on visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds in Virginia, as well as transportation infrastructure operated by NPS such as Blue Ridge and George Washington Memorial Parkways. In the last year, the maintenance backlog at Park Service sites in Virginia grew by $250 million, to over a billion dollars. That figure includes roughly $80 million of overdue maintenance at Shenandoah National Park, one of the crown jewels of our nation’s park system.

“In the last year, the maintenance backlog at Park Service sites in Virginia grew by $250 million, to over a billion dollars. Virginia now ranks third among all states in total deferred maintenance, trailing only California and the District of Columbia. The longer we wait to address the crumbling infrastructure in our national parks, the worse the problem gets. Today’s introduction marks a step forward in the process of finally fixing the $12 billion maintenance backlog at our national parks. I will continue to work with my colleagues to get this bill passed so that we can make much-needed investments in national treasures like Shenandoah National Park, which has nearly $80 million in overdue maintenance needs,” said Sen. Warner. 

“For more than a century, the National Park Service has been inspiring Americans to explore the natural beauty of our country,” Sen. Portman said. “But in order to keep that work going, we need to ensure that they have the right resources to maintain our national parks. This bill will create the Legacy Restoration Fund to provide the National Park Service with funds for deferred maintenance projects. This legislation will help tackle the nearly $75 million in maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national parks and will ensure the National Park Service can continue preserving American treasures like Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”

“Senators Portman and Warner deserve great credit for their leadership in developing this compromise legislation, which could do more to restore our 417 national parks than anything that has happened in the last half century. The bipartisan legislation that I developed with Senator King and other senators is now part of the Portman-Warner compromise legislation, which should have near unanimous support. The end result is $6.5 billion toward eliminating the national park maintenance backlog, $215 million of which is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Sen. Alexander.

“Our national parks amaze, astound, and awe millions of Americans each year – but in order to accommodate so many visitors, the parks need to be well-maintained,”Sen. King said. “The existing $12 billion maintenance backlog threatens to prevent future generations from accessing these beautiful public lands, which is simply unacceptable. This bipartisan legislation would help address this backlog, and ensure that parks from Acadia to Zion will remain open and available for years to come.”

“Since my confirmation hearing, I’ve been adamant that we must address the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our National Parks. I’m happy to see Senators Portman, Warner, King and Alexander teamed up to craft a very strong and historic bill to rebuild our national parks,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.“Park infrastructure is about access for all Americans. In order for families, children, elderly grandparents, or persons with disabilities to enjoy the parks, we need to rebuild basic infrastructure like roads, trails, lodges, restrooms and visitors centers. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue, and I think that the bipartisan body of lawmakers who put this bill forward is proof. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Administration and Congress to see this come to fruition.” 

NPS maintains more than 75,000 assets across the country, including campgrounds, natural lands, historic trails, irrigation and electrical systems, as well as thousands of miles of roads. More than half of these are in need of repairs. In Virginia, NPS operates 34 parks, trails and battlefields and historic sites, including Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Assateague Island, Booker T. Washington National Monument, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, Colonial National Historical Park, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Fort Monroe National Monument, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Battlefields Memorial National Military Park, George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Petersburg National Battlefield, Prince William Forest Park, Richmond National Battlefield Park, Shenandoah National Park, and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.  

Over the past decade, Congressional financial support for park maintenance has decreased by 40 percent, and the last time Congress directly addressed the infrastructure needs of the park system was in 1956. The Restore Our Parks Act would establish the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury, providing up to $6.5 billion over the next five years specifically to address deferred maintenance needs of the National Park Service. 

Last year, Sens. Warner and Portman introduced the National Park Service Legacy Act, which would have eliminated the NPS maintenance backlog by creating a thirty-year designated fund that would address NPS maintenance needs. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its own proposal, which bore substantial similarities to the Warner-Portman bill. However, the Administration proposal – which was introduced in the Senate as the National Park Restoration Actby Sens. Alexander and King – would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance, instead relying upon a massive expansion of offshore drilling or a significant increase in the price of oil in order to provide additional funding to the NPS. Prior to that, the Administration had pressed – unsuccessfully – to dramatically increase entrance fees at national parks as a way of funding overdue maintenance. 

The Restore Our Parks Act, introduced in the Senate late Thursday, is the result of months of negotiations among Sens. Warner, Portman, Alexander, King, and the Trump Administration to find a consensus proposal to address the NPS backlog.   

“National parks bring people together and help bridge political party lines. Under the leadership of Senators Warner and Portman, this compromise legislation will put a significant investment into the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog needs. We commend the leadership of these two park champions for their bill that makes a strong investment in our parks that they desperately need and deserve. America’s national parks include our most treasured landscapes and historic and cultural sites that must be protected and maintained so that future generations have the opportunity to learn about the people and places that have shaped our nation’s legacy,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association

“Pew has been committed to ensuring that the best provisions of the various deferred maintenance measures are incorporated into a final proposal that can be enacted and will provide a significant reduction to the national parks backlog,” said Marcia Argust, project director for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign. “The compromise bill introduced today by Sens. Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King meets that goal.”

“OIA applauds this bipartisan effort to solve the National Park Service backlog issue and appreciates the dedication of Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King to this important issue. The backlog impacts the recreation economy and Americans’ ability to explore and enjoy their public lands. As we know, and the support for bills like National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund shows, the health and vitality of America’s public lands system is a bipartisan issue that unites us. We look forward to progress on the issue and appreciate the Senate Bill Sponsors’ attention to this critical infrastructure issue that supports the growing $887 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association.

 

A list of Virginia organizations supportive of addressing the NPS backlog can be found here

 

Full text of the bill can be found here.

 

VA National Park Deferred Maintenance as of 2017*

 

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

$1,998,224

Assateague Island NS

$2,774,577

Blue Ridge Parkway

$186,619,608

Booker T Washington National Monument

$1,370,913

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP

$327,072

Colonial National Historical Park

$421,872,932

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

$1,848,864

Fort Monroe National Monument

$2,280,548

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Battlefields Mem NMP

$10,371,731

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

$1,306,614

George Washington Memorial Parkway

$233,441,316

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

$64,760

Maggie L Walker National Historic Site

$531,648

Manassas National Battlefield Park

$6,516,560

Petersburg National Battlefield

$11,754,041

Prince William Forest Park

$18,619,932

Richmond National Battlefield Park

$6,581,205

Shenandoah National Park

$79,208,621

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

$31,149,289

Total

$1,018,629,457


*Due to the continuously changing nature of facilities data, only final, year-end data is reported by the National Park Service. The last year for which data is available is FY 2017.

 

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WASHINGTON- The U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by violence against their pets. The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act was included in the 2018 Farm Bill passed by the Senate on a bipartisan 86-11 vote and now moves to the House for consideration.   

“We are pleased that the Senate passed this bipartisan legislation, which will help domestic violence survivors flee their abusers without having to compromise the safety of their beloved family pets,” the Senators said. “This is a step forward in solving this serious, yet often overlooked problem, and we look forward to seeing this bill signed into law.” 

Multiple studies have shown that domestic abusers often seek to manipulate or intimidate their victims by threatening or harming their pets, but according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), only three percent of domestic violence shelters across the country accept pets. Many victims choose not to leave their home if they cannot take their pets with them. 

The PAWS Act expands existing federal domestic violence protections to include threats or acts of violence against a victim’s pet, and provides grant funding to programs that offer shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets. The bill also requires the full amount of the victim's losses for purposes of restitution in domestic violence and stalking offenses to include any costs incurred for veterinary services relating to physical care for the victim's pet. The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes $3 million a year for a FY19-23 grant program that will provide emergency and transitional housing assistance for victims of domestic violence and their pets.

The PAWS Act is supported by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Link Coalition, the Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) Program, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, RedRover, the National Animal Care & Control Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, YWCA USA, the American Kennel Club, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association. 

Sheltering services currently assist the victims of domestic violence who would be aided by the PAWS Act by placing their companion animals out of harm's way so that they may seek safety for themselves. A list of these “safe havens” in Virginia can be found here.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will receive $823,698 in federal funding to conduct research that aims to promote the emotional and behavioral well-being for early elementary students (children ages six through eight) in the classroom.

“We are pleased to announce funding to support Virginia Commonwealth University’s research to ensure all children have the ability to thrive in the classroom,” said the Senators. “Their work will be critical in breaking down barriers that prevent many children from achieving academic success.” 

The funding was awarded under the Education Research Program of the National Center for Education Research (NCER). NCER supports rigorous research aimed at improving the quality of education for all students. NCER’s federal funding will allow VCU to test the effectiveness of a pre-existing classroom-based intervention, known as BEST in CLASS, with students in early elementary school. The BEST in CLASS intervention has demonstrated effectiveness with preschool-age children at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), yet remains untested for early elementary school-age children at risk for EBD.

The research will occur across eight elementary schools in Virginia and eight elementary schools in Florida, and will include 576 students and families, and 192 kindergarten to second-grade teachers.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine praised final Senate passage of legislation to rename a U.S. Postal Service office located in Palmyra, Virginia as the U.S. Navy Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby Post Office. Seaman Rigsby died on the USS Fitzgerald on June 17, 2017 following a collision with a merchant vessel off the coast of Japan. He was a native of Palmyra.

“Seaman Rigsby served his country and his community with honor beginning in high school as a volunteer firefighter and then through his service in the Navy. We’re proud Congress came together to pay him tribute with this designation,” the Senators said.

In March, Warner and Kaine called on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security to support this designation to honor Seaman Rigsby’s memory and contributions to the community. The post office is located at 13683 James Madison Highway in Palmyra. The legislation, which has now passed the House and Senate, will next go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

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