Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (Both D-Va.) and Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (Both D-Md.) wrote to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) CEO Paul Wiedefeld Thursday urging cooperation, transparency, and action to address safety concerns and restore public confidence in the transit agency.

The senators called for WMATA’s full cooperation with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission in the effort to identify the factors leading to last week’s derailment, and that this cooperation must include answering questions about the history of WMATA’s awareness, since as early as 2017, of safety concerns with the 7000 series cars.

“Residents of the National Capital Region deserve a safe, reliable, and well-functioning transit system,” the senators wrote. “While your cooperation and information sharing with the NTSB and WMSC require your urgent attention, please know that we will be eager to hear from you in a timely manner on your plans to address the specific safety concerns associated with last week’s derailment, to restore public confidence in your organization, and to embed safety more effectively into your organizational culture—a repeated focus of our discussions with you since you took the helm of WMATA six years ago.”

The full letter follows and can be downloaded here.

Mr. Paul J. Wiedefeld

General Manager and CEO

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

600 5th Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Mr. Wiedefeld:

We regret that we must write to you about another safety issue with Metrorail. Last week’s derailment of WMATA Train 407, a Kawasaki-made 7000 series railcar, near Arlington Cemetery thankfully ended without fatalities or serious injuries. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has indicated that the nature of the derailment and the equipment failure that made it possible could have led to a much worse outcome. It is imperative that WMATA cooperate fully with the NTSB and the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) to ascertain all factors that led to this derailment and to implement a lasting solution to the Kawasaki 7000 series rail cars’ susceptibility to failure and to prevent future derailments. WMATA’s transparency with the public throughout this process is critical.

We appreciate your early indications that you will cooperate with the NTSB investigation. Our expectation is that this will include thorough and timely responses to questions about the history of WMATA’s awareness of safety concerns with the 7000 series rail cars. We are deeply troubled by the possibility that WMATA knew about this safety concern as early as 2017, but failed to implement a course of action sufficient to prevent last week’s derailment.

Residents of the National Capital Region deserve a safe, reliable, and well-functioning transit system. While your cooperation and information sharing with the NTSB and WMSC require your urgent attention, please know that we will be eager to hear from you in a timely manner on your plans to address the specific safety concerns associated with last week’s derailment, to restore public confidence in your organization, and to embed safety more effectively into your organizational culture—a repeated focus of our discussions with you since you took the helm of WMATA six years ago.

In addition, the abrupt reduction in service has been difficult for riders. We appreciate the briefings that have been provided or scheduled thus far. Please continue to provide us and the public with details on the actions WMATA is taking to assist riders, including steps to expand bus service, provide accurate train schedules and real-time arrival information, and protect public health in stations and on trains and buses while the rail system operates with a reduced fleet.

We look forward to more complete information on WMATA’s plans to address these serious concerns. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued the statement below after voting for a procedural motion to advance the Freedom to Vote Act – landmark legislation to secure American elections and protect the right to vote. The legislation failed to move forward by a vote of 49-51 after falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to open debate on the bill, with no support from Republicans.

“Today, I voted to move forward with a bill to secure our elections and protect the right to vote – a cornerstone of American democracy. If we are to preserve this democracy, we must make sure that future generations of voters have the same reasonable, unencumbered access to the ballot box that so many Virginians currently enjoy as they cast their votes ahead of the November election. As we face an alarming barrage of attacks on our most solemn ideals and our most precious institutions, it’s discouraging that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would refuse to even debate this set of commonsense measures.”

 

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WASHINGTON  – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today led 48 of their Senate colleagues in writing a bipartisan letter requesting President Joe Biden to receive His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew next week in a manner befitting the spiritual leader of the second largest Christian church in the world. His All Holiness’ trip to Washington comes during the 30th anniversary year of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch.

“We appreciate the fact that His All Holiness is a world-leading advocate for interfaith dialogue and peace,” the senators wrote, specifically commending his historic dialogue and prayer for peace with Pope Francis at Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem in 2014 and noting the high regard within which the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is held as a preeminent international environmental leader. “This visit is an excellent opportunity for our Congress and your Executive Branch to follow in the Ecumenical Patriarch’s footsteps and demonstrate our mutual desire for the spirit of peace and cooperation.”

The senators also lauded President Biden’s previous exceptional welcome of His All Holiness in 2009 in addition to his assistance in securing His All Holiness’ Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest honor, in 1997.

Joining Chairman Menendez and Senator Rubio in signing the letter were Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Angus King (I-Maine), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Penn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

Find a copy of the letter HERE and below.

Dear Mr. President:

With our many constituents in the Orthodox Christian community across the country, we are looking forward to your welcome of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the last week of October, 2021. We are hopeful that this trip to Washington, D.C. will be met in the extraordinary manner and appropriate protocol with which you hosted him as Vice President in 2009. This year marks the 30th Anniversary of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch.  As you know, an exceptional welcome is appropriate for the spiritual leader of the second largest Christian Church in the world and a person of his many valuable accomplishments.

We appreciate the fact that His All Holiness is a world-leading advocate for interfaith dialogue and peace. We value his historic dialogue and prayer for peace with Pope Francis at Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem in 2014.  As you know, this brotherly gathering was appropriate as the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Pope are the brother-Apostles Andrew and Peter’ 268th and 265th direct successors, respectively.  We know that Peter began his Church and ministry in Rome and Andrew began his in what is today Turkey, the locale of His All Holiness’ headquarters and Ecumenical Patriarchate.  

We admire the high regard within which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is held as a preeminent international environmental leader, sometimes known as the “Green Patriarch.”  We are pleased that his recognitions include our Congress’ highest honor – the Congressional Gold Medal – which we understand you helped secure in 1997.

This visit is an excellent opportunity for our Congress and your Executive Branch to follow in the Ecumenical Patriarch’s footsteps and demonstrate our mutual desire for the spirit of peace and cooperation. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, and 17 other colleagues in a letter to the Department of Justice seeking an update on the actions of the Department’s Election Threats Task Force, which was established in July to receive and assess reports of threats against election workers. The Senators specifically requested information on the Task Force’s plans to facilitate the reporting, investigation, and prosecution of threats against election officials and election workers. This request follows a survey of election workers earlier this year which found that nearly one in three felt unsafe because of their job, nearly one in six received threats of violence, and more than one in six were concerned about their lives being threatened.

“In the last year, we have seen election officials and election workers face a barrage of threats and abusive conduct from those seeking to interfere with the certification of the 2020 election or overturn the results,” the Senators wrote.

“While existing laws protect voters from intimidation and violence, additional specific protections are needed for officials, workers, and volunteers responsible for operating polling stations, counting and processing ballots, and certifying election results. The lack of clear guidance for law enforcement left many election workers at risk, and in some instances election workers were told that threats against their safety are ‘protected political speech.’ The Department of Justice has previously acknowledged the ‘inadequate’ response to threats against election workers, and the need to do more to protect them from harm,” they continued.

“We commend the Department of Justice for taking these threats seriously and establishing the Election Threats Task Force earlier this year to receive and assess allegations and reports of threats against election workers,” they concluded. 

Senators Warner and Kaine, who were in the Capitol during the violent attack orchestrated by people wanting to overturn an election, have long supported commonsense measures to protect our democracy from attacks. Kaine, a former civil rights lawyer, recently introduced his Freedom to Vote Act, comprehensive legislation that reflects feedback from state and local election officials to advance commonsense election integrity reforms — including expanding access to the ballot, protecting our democracy against election interference, ensuring transparency of election expenditures, and ending partisan gerrymandering. The Senate will vote on the bill tomorrow.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Angus King (I-ME), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

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

Dear Attorney General Garland:

We write to express our concerns regarding the unprecedented rise in threats against election officials and election workers in recent months and to request an update on the efforts of the Department of Justice’s recently established Election Threats Task Force. We appreciate the Department’s commitment to combating these threats to our democracy.

In the last year, we have seen election officials and election workers face a barrage of threats and abusive conduct from those seeking to interfere with the certification of the 2020 election or overturn the results. This is despite the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security calling the election “the most secure in American history.”  We must respond to these threats head on to protect those who are working on the frontlines of our democracy.

The increase in threats is widespread. According to a survey of election workers earlier this year, nearly one in three felt unsafe because of their job, nearly one in six received threats of violence, and more than one in six were concerned about their lives being threatened.  This onslaught of threats against election workers is unacceptable, and it also raises serious concerns about the ability to recruit and retain election workers needed to administer future elections. 

While existing laws protect voters from intimidation and violence, additional specific protections are needed for officials, workers, and volunteers responsible for operating polling stations, counting and processing ballots, and certifying election results. The lack of clear guidance for law enforcement left many election workers at risk, and in some instances election workers were told that threats against their safety are “protected political speech.” The Department of Justice has previously acknowledged the “inadequate” response to threats against election workers, and the need to do more to protect them from harm.  

One investigation identified hundreds of hostile messages received by election workers or their families following the 2020 election, 102 of which were threats of death or violence.  However, that same investigation found only four known arrests and none of those resulted in a conviction. 

We must ensure that election workers are able to do their jobs free from threats, intimidation, or other improper influence. While Congress must pass stronger protections for election workers such as those in the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act, the Preventing Election Subversion Act, the Election Worker and Polling Place Protection Act, and the Freedom to Vote Act, we also urge the Justice Department to take additional action under existing law. It is for this reason that we respectfully request an update on the actions that the Department’s Task Force has taken so far and on its plans to facilitate the reporting, investigation, and prosecution of threats against election officials and election workers. We also ask that you provide the following information:

  1. The number of threats against election workers, officials, volunteers or their families that have been identified by the Task Force, broken down by state.
  2. The number of completed and ongoing investigations based upon those identified threats.
  3. Any guidance issued to or by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or United States Attorney’s Offices regarding the prioritization of investigations and prosecutions of threats against election officials and election workers.

We commend the Department of Justice for taking these threats seriously and establishing the Election Threats Task Force earlier this year to receive and assess allegations and reports of threats against election workers. The Task Force makes clear that the Justice Department is prioritizing the identification, investigation, and prosecution of those who threaten or seek to harm election workers.

Thank you for your attention to the important matter and for your efforts to protect the election workers who administer the free and fair elections essential to our democracy.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced bipartisan legislation to restore competition online by establishing commonsense rules of the road for dominant digital platforms to prevent them from abusing their market power to harm competition, online businesses, and consumers.

Since announcing the legislation last week, support for the bill has grown. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) has joined Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Kennedy (R-LA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) as an original cosponsor, and companies including Spotify, Roku, Match Group, and DuckDuckGo have endorsed the bill.

“As dominant digital platforms – some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen – increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed,” said Klobuchar. “Support for this bill continues to grow because American consumers, workers, and businesses know that it is past time to update our competition laws for the digital era. I am proud to introduce this much-needed legislation alongside Senator Grassley and a bipartisan group of our colleagues, and I look forward to it passing the Senate and being signed into law.”

“As Big Tech has grown and evolved over the years, our laws have not changed to keep up and ensure these companies are competing fairly. These companies have continued to become a larger part of our everyday lives and the global economy, controlling what we see and how we engage on the internet,” said Grassley. “Big Tech needs to be held accountable if they behave in a discriminatory manner. Our bill will help create a more even playing field and ensure that small businesses are able to compete with these platforms.”

“Time and again we have seen Big Tech use its power to stifle online competition and manipulate the marketplace,” said Daines. “This bipartisan bill will help level the playing field and ensure Montana business owners are able to have full access to the online marketplace to grow and create Montana jobs and support local economies.”

Sumit Sharma, senior researcher, tech competition at Consumer Reports, said, “These market rules should mean that consumer choice is not artificially constricted by the largest online platforms and consumers can more easily tailor services to suit their own needs. The rules will help break down the closed product and service ecosystems that so many of us find ourselves trapped in today.”

“We applaud this bipartisan group of senators, led by Sens. Klobuchar and Grassley, for taking a major step forward towards bringing real accountability and change to Big Tech. This legislation, combined with other bipartisan bills in the U.S. House are a serious and substantive set of solutions to address the power and abuses of Big Tech that have resulted in real harms to workers, small businesses, consumers, and innovation. We look forward to moving this proposal forward as well as additional measures to address the range of Big Tech abuses,” said Alex Harman, competition policy advocate for Public Citizen.

“Nondiscrimination protections like the ones in this bill are crucial for breaking down the power of Big Tech. Right now, dominant platforms can pick winners and losers to stay in power and benefit their own bottom line—to the detriment of the people who rely on them: consumers, innovators, and the small businesses. This bipartisan bill marks a meaningful step forward in the fight to protect consumers and competition online. We look forward to continuing to work with Chairwoman Klobuchar, Ranking Member Grassley, and the bipartisan group of cosponsors to strengthen the nondiscrimination protections in this bill. We want to cut down on the additional hoops enforcers have to jump through to bring a case against Big Tech discrimination, so that competition on and against dominant digital platforms will have a fair shot,” said Charlotte Slaiman, Competition Policy Director at Public Knowledge.

“Big Tech corporations have been abusing their monopoly power for years, blatantly self-dealing and rigging marketplaces under the presumption that Congress would fail to stop them. Amid historic polarization in Washington, this bipartisan show of force sends an unmistakable message that the era of impunity is over. This bill takes direct aim at some of the most exploitative tactics Silicon Valley giants have long employed to unfairly entrench their dominance at the expense of consumers and competition. And it demonstrates unequivocally that lawmakers are ready to work across the aisle to take significant action to rein in Big Tech. We thank Senators Klobuchar and Grassley for their bipartisan leadership, and look forward to Congress moving forward on the full suite of aggressive antitrust reforms needed to unwind decades of corporate consolidation that – along with other Big Tech abuses that must separately be addressed – has undermined American democracy,” said Jesse Lehrich, co-founder of Accountable Tech.

“We applaud today’s introduction of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. We thank Chair Klobuchar and Senator Grassley for the thoughtful crafting of this legislation. If passed into law, the proposal would strengthen and expand the tools at the government's disposal to restore competitiveness in the online market and promote an open and pluralistic web for consumers,” said Luther Lowe, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at Yelp.

“Gatekeeper platforms use their power to distort markets by manufacturing self-serving advantages at the expense of American consumers and competitors.  They offer users fewer, less innovative choices and insulate themselves from competition, which leads to higher prices for consumers. At Spotify, we welcome the bipartisan introduction of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and thank Senators Klobuchar and Grassley for their steadfast leadership. With both the House and Senate now hard at work to modernize competition law, we look forward to Congress bringing an end to these discriminatory practices for the sake of consumer choice and the digital economy,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Head of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer at Spotify.

“Roku supports bipartisan efforts such as the American Innovation and Choice Online Act to modernize our competition laws, promote innovation, and protect consumers in the Digital Age,” said John Kelly, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications at Roku.

"This legislation directly addresses the threats to a competitive and fair marketplace that Senators Klobuchar and Lee identified during their April hearing. We support this bipartisan approach from Senators Klobuchar and Grassley, which establishes important protections that will put a stop to monopolies using their dominant position to charge discriminatory monopoly rents and unfairly control access to customers,” said Mark Buse, Senior Vice President of Global Policy at Match Group.

"When Google and other dominant tech companies self-preference their own products across their platforms, forcing people to use their services by default, it unfairly and purposefully blocks competitors like DuckDuckGo. And in the case of companies like Google and Facebook in particular, not only does this hurt competitors like us, it also significantly damages our society and democracy by pushing people into their surveillance business models. We support the American Innovation and Choice Online Act because it will make clear that self-preferencing behavior like this is illegal as well as allow consumers to actually choose the services they want to use without interference from dominant platforms,” said Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and Founder of DuckDuckGo.

“The Coalition for App Fairness is encouraged that members of Congress in both parties are paying attention to the anti-competitive practices of Apple and other tech gatekeepers,” said Meghan DiMuzio, executive director of Coalition for App Fairness. “We appreciate Senators Klobuchar and Grassley for their leadership and look forward to continuing our work to address the specific concerns of app developers and consumers around the world.”

“Choice is fundamental to competition. American consumers have been systematically denied access to critical information about their market choices. This new bill will fight strong arm tactics used by Big Tech to disadvantage their consumers and exclude competitors from the marketplace,” said Durbin.

“This legislation will help end Big Tech’s self-serving market manipulation. For too long, tech giants have been able to use their vast market dominance to unfairly boost their own products and services—and to disadvantage competitors. I’m proud to back this bipartisan bill to level the playing field, ensuring smaller competitors have a fighting chance and consumers have more options at fairer prices,” said Blumenthal.

“Big Tech has a track record of unfairly limiting consumer choices and thwarting free-market competition. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would help offer consumers more options at competitive prices from businesses online, which is what the American economy is supposed to do best,” said Kennedy.

“The nation’s largest tech companies, such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, have faced accusations of prioritizing their own products on their platforms, using their market power to edge out competitors, and limiting consumers’ choice,” said Booker. “These discriminatory practices have been an issue for far too long, and it's time for Congress to step up and help restore competition to the digital marketplace. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would hold the largest tech platforms accountable by prohibiting these discriminatory practices, and ensure that their competitors can participate fairly in the marketplace.”

“In the absence of any meaningful regulations, Big Tech platforms are using the data they collect from companies on their platforms to create unfair advantages for themselves. These practices have stifled innovation and harmed their very consumers with a lack of choice. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would level the playing field and make sure that consumers and merchants in Wyoming have fair access to the marketplace,” said Lummis.

“Our competition laws haven’t kept pace with today’s economy. The result is online giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google who roll over potential competitors and harm consumers,” said Hirono. “By preventing tech giants from preferencing their own products, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act will bring real competition back to the online world.”

“For our digital economy to work for all Americans and all innovators, we need fair rules of the road. This bill ensures that dominant platforms aren’t engaging in self-preferencing or other discriminatory conduct that tilts the playing field in their favor and entrenches their dominance,” said Warner.

Hawley said, “For too long, Big Tech has run roughshod over small businesses, and lax antitrust enforcers have refused to do anything. No more. Congress is finally beginning to take these issues seriously. This bill will outlaw much of the discrimination and self-preferencing that tech companies currently get away with.”

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act will:

  • Set clear, effective rules to protect competition and users doing business on dominant online platforms, including:
    • Prohibiting dominant platforms from abusing their gatekeeper power by favoring their own products or services, disadvantaging rivals, or discriminating among businesses that use their platforms in a manner that would materially harm competition on the platform; and
    • Prohibiting specific forms of conduct that are harmful to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers, but that do not have any pro-competitive benefit, including:
      • Preventing another business’s product or service from interoperating with the dominant platform or another business;
      • Requiring a business to buy a dominant platform’s goods or services for preferred placement on its platform;
      • Misusing a business’s data to compete against them; and 
      • Biasing search results in favor of the dominant firm.
  • Give antitrust enforcers strong, flexible tools to deter violations and hold dominant platforms accountable when they cross the line into illegal behavior, including significant civil penalties, authority to seek broad injunctions, emergency interim relief, and potential forfeiture of executive compensation.
  • Prevent self-preferencing and discriminatory conduct by the most economically significant online platforms with large U.S. user bases which function as “critical trading partners” for online businesses. For such platforms, the rules target harmful conduct, allowing the platforms to innovate, do business, and engage in pro-consumer conduct, including protecting user privacy and safety, preventing unlawful behavior, and maintaining a secure online experience for users.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner and Senator Tim Kaine, announced $8,615,000 in federal funding for water improvement projects in Virginia. The funding, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was awarded through the Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grant program.

“As we continue working to build back better, it’s vital for Virginians to have safe and up-to-date water distribution and wastewater systems,” said the Senators. “We’re glad to know that these federal dollars will be put toward addressing much-needed infrastructure improvements in the Commonwealth.”  

The funding will be distributed as below:

  • The Town of Appomattox will receive a $1,125,000 grant and $500,000 loan to make needed improvements to the town's water distribution system. Construction includes the replacement of approximately 6,225 linear feet of four-inch water line with eight-inch water line, and related appurtenances in the Church Street area. It is estimated that this project will benefit more than 1,700 people in the region.
  • The Town of Hillsville will receive a $177,000 loan to replace approximately three miles of outdated, leaking water lines and to replace aging water meters, benefitting 2,700 people.
  • Northumberland County will receive an $810,000 grant to make equipment updates to the Reedville and Callao wastewater treatment plants. It is estimated that this project will benefit 1,925 people in the region.
  • The Town of Craigsville will receive a $3,900,000 loan to upgrade the town’s aging water distribution system. The project will include the replacement of 1,568 linear feet of four-inch water line; 15,766 linear feet of six-inch water line; 2,763 linear feet of 10-inch water line; 176 water meters; 25 fire hydrants; blow-off valves; air release valves; and additional related items. This project will benefit 990 people.
  • The Town of Pennington Gap will receive an $823,000 grant and $653,000 loan to make vital repairs to the town’s water treatment plant to stabilize the foundation and repair cracks, spalls, delamination, and joints. It is estimated that this project will benefit 2,261 people.
  • The Town of Strasburg will receive a $107,000 grant and $520,000 loan to make improvements to the town's wastewater collection system. Improvements include the removal and replacement of approximately 1,640 linear feet of gravity sewer pipe and concrete manholes; slip-lining approximately 140 linear feet of pipe; cleaning approximately 260 linear feet of sewer main; and other related items as necessary. This project will ensure the town’s system is compliant with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality regulations. It is estimated that this project will benefit approximately 6,800 people.

The USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, released the following statement on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule enabling retirement plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their decision-making:

“I am glad that the Employee Benefits Security Administration has moved to reverse one of the Trump Administration’s efforts to ignore the calamitous effects of climate change, including its associated financial risks, by proposing a rule enabling retirement plans to consider Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations in investment decisions. Companies do not operate in a vacuum and investment fiduciaries should have the ability to consider sustainability of the broader community without running afoul of their fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders. With the publication of this proposed rule, the Biden Administration has taken a step towards protecting the long-term financial security of pensioners and workers across the country.

“This proposed rule also highlights the continued importance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) effort to establish clear ESG disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies. Investors increasingly clamor for consistent ESG reporting because they understand companies that invest in their workers, minimize harmful environmental impacts, and enact strong worker safety measures, also tend to perform better in the long-run.” 

Under the proposed rule, retirement plan administrators will continue to act in the sole interest of the plan’s participants but will now be able to more freely include ESG factors, including in their initial analysis of investment options. Sen. Warner has previously called on Congress to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to require consideration of ESG factors as part of fiduciary duty. While this rule does not require consideration of ESG factors by plan managers, it grants critical flexibility to do so.

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 WASHINGTON – Today, the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act—legislation authored by Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to support American public servants who have incurred brain injuries likely from directed energy attacks—was signed into law. The legislation, which passed Congress unanimously, authorizes additional financial support for injured individuals. 

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an unknown illness that surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016.  Since then, dozens more U.S. diplomats and members of the intelligence community have suffered symptoms that a study by the National Academy of Sciences found are consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.

Symptoms have included severe headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, visual and hearing problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years after the attacks. 

“Every day, American diplomats and intelligence officers around the world put themselves at risk to keep our nation safe. In return, we have an obligation to provide ample support when these brave men and women are injured in the line of duty,” said Chairman Warner. “As the Senate Intelligence Committee continues to look into the mysterious and debilitating attacks on U.S. personnel abroad, I’m proud to know that these officials will now be able to count on the compensation and care they deserve, thanks to President Biden’s signing of our Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act.”

“As American diplomats and personnel continue to be targets of directed energy attacks by malign actors and rogue states, I’m proud to see my bipartisan initiative become law,” said Vice Chairman Rubio.  “We need to stand in support of our diplomatic corps, and their relatives, as they face long-term health challenges and demand that those who are responsible face justice.”

“I have spoken personally with Havana Syndrome victims who were forced to battle the bureaucracy while dealing with their own health challenges.  These Americans who experienced traumatic brain injuries from likely directed energy attacks while serving our country should have been treated the same way we treat a soldier who suffered a traumatic brain injury on the battlefield,” said Sen. Collins.  “Now that the HAVANA Act has been signed into law, Havana Syndrome victims will finally receive the financial assistance and medical support that they deserve.  As we continue our efforts to support victims, we must also redouble our whole-of-government approach to identify and stop the heartless adversary who is harming U.S. personnel.”

“For far too long, U.S. public servants and their loved ones who’ve suffered from directed energy attacks have been denied the care they need and deserve. That’s unacceptable, and is why I’ve partnered with Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to ensure affected Americans have access to long-term, emergency health benefits,” said Sen. Shaheen. “By removing barriers to critical medical attention and paving the way for personnel with brain injuries to recover, the HAVANA Act is an important step forward. I’m very pleased President Biden has signed our bipartisan legislation into law, and I’ll continue to fight to get to the bottom of these attacks and protect our national security.”

The HAVANA Act authorizes the CIA Director, the Secretary of State, and other agency leaders to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries.  Both the CIA and State Department will be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment.  This legislation also requires the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required. 

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) are now accepting applications for the position of United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, to succeed United States District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson, who will assume senior status effective November 23, 2021.

 An independent panel of lawyers assembled by the senators will review applications and interview qualified individuals. The senators will then use those recommendations, as well as input from experts, practitioners, and bar associations from around the Commonwealth, as they consider potential nominees to recommend to the President. The White House will then nominate an individual whose nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

Interested applicants should visit Senator Warner’s website for application instructions. The application period will close November 8, 2021.

 WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement upon the Senate voting to confirm Jessica Aber as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) and Christopher Kavanaugh as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA):

“We are pleased the Senate has confirmed Jessica Aber and Christopher Kavanaugh to these critical positions. We were deeply impressed by their exceptional backgrounds. We believe they will serve the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia with distinction.”

Jessica Aber is a distinguished attorney with more than a dozen years of criminal justice experience in the EDVA U.S. Attorney’s Office and as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. She has worked as both an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) handling complex financial fraud, violent crime, and child exploitation cases and as EDVA’s Deputy Criminal Chief supervising operations across the District’s four divisions. Ms. Aber has lived in Virginia for over 20 years, receiving her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond and her Juris Doctor from the William & Mary Law School.     

Chris Kavanaugh is an AUSA in the Western District of Virginia. Mr. Kavanaugh is currently serving as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Kavanaugh has practiced before every judge in the Western District and has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office since 2014, handling a wide variety of federal criminal offenses involving domestic terrorism, civil rights violations, national security, and white-collar offenses and violent crimes. Mr. Kavanaugh received his Bachelors of Science from Georgia Tech and his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law.

In March, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending candidates for the U.S. Attorney vacancies in the EDVA and WDVA. In their letter, the Senators recommended Jessica Aber for the EDVA position and Christopher Kavanaugh for the WDVA position.

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WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Patrick Leahy in introducing legislation to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act and stop the spread of voter suppression. The legislation—the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—is named for the late Congressman John Lewis, an icon of the Civil Rights movement, and reflects an update to legislation introduced in the last Congress.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging Shelby County decision in 2013—which crippled the federal government’s ability under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to prevent discriminatory changes to voting laws and procedures—many states across the country have unleashed a torrent of voter suppression schemes that have systematically disenfranchised tens of thousands of American voters. The Supreme Court’s Brnovich decision earlier this year delivered yet another blow to the Voting Rights Act, making it significantly harder for plaintiffs to win lawsuits against discriminatory voting laws or procedures.   

“It is critical that we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect the fundamental right to vote,” the Senators said. “We are proud to cosponsor this legislation that will restore the full protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a landmark achievement of the civil rights movement.”

Last month, Kaine introduced the Freedom to Vote Act to improve access to the ballot for Americans, advance commonsense election integrity reforms, and protect our democracy from attacks. The Freedom to Vote Act, supported by Senator Warner, contains provisions expanding voting by mail, early voting, and taking other steps to make voting easier and safer, while the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would prevent undue restrictions on the right to vote by restoring the Department of Justice’s power to review potential restrictive changes to voting rules.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is endorsed by the following leading civil rights organizations: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The full text of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.

A section-by-section analysis of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act can be found here.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), today introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent presidential abuse of “national security” tariffs by reinstating congressional authority over trade. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) are original cosponsors on the legislation.

The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act would make any presidentially-proposed tariffs or quotas applied for national security purposes (via Section 232 authority) subject to review and approval by Congress prior to going into effect. Prior administrations have unilaterally abused Section 232 tariffs to protect favored industries, which has resulted in economic disruption, damage to U.S. relationships with our allies, and harmful retaliatory tariffs on American farmers and manufacturers.

“For too long, Congress has allowed presidents to unilaterally impose tariffs by invoking spurious claims of ‘national security’ – regardless of whether or not the import in question poses any genuine threat to national defense. These wrongfully-imposed tariffs have increased costs for American consumers, substantially burdened domestic manufacturers, and have undermined our relationships with our allies. Through the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, we can restore Congress’ authority by once again requiring tariffs imposed for so-called ‘national security’ purposes to be approved by Congress, including those previously enacted on steel and aluminum in 2018,” said Senator Toomey.

“As our economy continues to recover from the economic crisis, we must ensure that Congress has a say in any future actions that could restrict trade or impose consequential changes,” said Senator Warner. “This legislation, which we introduced under the last administration, will help prevent any future president from abusing national security authorities to impose unilateral tariffs. It will also help guarantee that any efforts to crack down on unfair or illegal trade practices are strategic, and done in concert with our allies.”

Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Congress conditionally delegated certain tariff and quota authority to the executive branch in the event an import is a threat to national security. Historically, Section 232 investigations have been rare and have infrequently resulted in imposition of tariffs – prior to 2018, a president last took action under Section 232 in 1986.

However, the previous Administration used Section 232 widely, unilaterally imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum and conducting investigations into six additional products. In the 60-year history of the Section 232, approximately one-fourth of investigations have occurred in only the last four years.

To prevent future misuse of Section 232 authority, the Senators’ bill would require Congressional approval in the event the executive branch chooses to adjust import levels. It would also restore the national security intent to the statute, by defining the term “national security” to include articles specifically related to military equipment, energy resources, and critical infrastructure.

Several outside groups have voiced support for the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, including: National Foreign Trade Council, Tariff Reform Coalition, Business Roundtable, Chamber of Commerce, Retail Industry Leaders Association, National Retail Federation, Autos Drive America, Precision Metalforming Association, Precision Machined Products Association, Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users, Associated Builders and Contractors, Industrial Fasteners Institute, Hands-On Science Partnership, National Tooling & Machining Association, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, and American Apparel & Footwear Association.

On September 24th, the Biden Administration launched a new Section 232 investigation into the national security impacts of imported Neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets—rare earth magnets—which are used in the production of wind turbines, electric vehicles, and a number of other items.

The bill text is available here.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter urging the Biden Administration to make technology policy a priority at the upcoming ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In the face of unprecedented advances by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Russia and other authoritarian regimes, Sen. Warner has stressed the importance of U.S. leadership on issues such as 5G telecommunications and semiconductors. In today’s letter to Secretary of State Blinken ahead of the meeting October 5-6, Warner highlighted the new threats facing democratic nations as a result of the PRC’s efforts to dominate next-generation technologies through a variety of tactics.

“Many countries have woken up to the risks of having a PRC-linked entity serve as the telecommunications infrastructure for their citizens and the risks of PRC access to the security and integrity of their citizens’ data and communications,” Sen. Warner wrote. “These risks extend to other next-generation technologies that rely on, and transmit, sensitive data and communications.”  

“In addition, governments are building – and exporting – integrated systems relying on these technologies to conduct large-scale surveillance and censor speech,” Sen. Warner continued. “Efforts by the PRC and Russia to institute robust, scalable firewalls, preventing the free flow of ideas and commerce across the internet, have become the envy of authoritarian leaders across the world.” 

Sen. Warner has long been a leader on U.S. technology innovation and has previously led bipartisan efforts to encourage U.S. advancement in the race for 5G, providing over $1 billion to invest in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE. 

The OECD has a strong record of coordination around technologies such as artificial intelligence, wireless communications, semiconductors and bio-technology. It also released a report in May 2021 entitled, “Standard-Setting Review: Five-Year Report (2016-2021),” which reviewed existing OECD legal instruments and made recommendations on how to improve the OECD’s standard-setting activity.

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

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520

 

Dear Secretary Blinken:

I am writing to urge you to bolster the administration’s efforts to coordinate U.S. technology strategies with democratic partners and allies. As seen with 5G telecommunications and semiconductors, authoritarian governments seek to undercut U.S. leadership and dominate strategic and emerging technologies, frequently using them to advance anti-democratic objectives domestically and globally.  The upcoming ministerial for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) offers an important opportunity to build upon the OECD’s existing work on standards for emerging technologies and to advance additional norms and practices related to technology policy alongside countries whose democratic values we share. 

In the face of this rising threat from authoritarian governments, I have pushed for cooperation on technology policy with democracies through the creation of an International Democracy Technology Partnership.  In May 2021, as you know, the U.S. Senate also passed the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, which, among other measures, included an International Technology Security and Innovation Fund to advance these efforts.

Your recent establishment of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, as well as the inclusion of technology issues within the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue structure with Japan, India and Australia and the AUKUS agreement – a security pact with Australia and the United Kingdom--  are important steps in ensuring closer alignment around the development and deployment of strategic technologies and the accompanying policies and standards.  However, we must do more to utilize existing international fora and a broader set of international partners as part of a well-resourced technology diplomacy strategy. 

The OECD, an economic grouping largely made up of likeminded democratic countries, provides a forum for collaboration on rules and norms across a set of emerging technology issues in the face of growing challenges from authoritarian governments.  In particular, the world is witnessing the People’s Republic of China’s efforts to dominate next generation and cutting edge technologies through a variety of tactics. For example, it works to influence standard setting bodies and multilateral bodies and organizations, subsidizes the participation by domestic firms in standardization efforts, provides government directed funds and subsidies to strengthen Chinese companies, and supports exports by preferred domestic firms through the government’s Belt and Road Initiative. 

The PRC government’s push for the adoption of Huawei technology and Huawei-led standards for 5G has been the most prominent example of this trend.  The PRC’s national champion, Huawei, strives to export 5G networking equipment globally, along with its standards. Many countries have woken up to the economic and security risks of having a PRC-linked entity provide the telecommunications infrastructure for their citizens and the risks of PRC access to the security and integrity of their citizens’ data and communications. These risks extend to other next-generation technologies that rely on, and transmit, sensitive data and communications.  

Moreover, authoritarian governments are working to embed anti-democratic values into the standards and norms surrounding these technologies.  We have seen this practice most acutely with artificial intelligence-related and facial recognition technology, as the PRC government is using these new technologies to facilitate massive surveillance and social control of its citizens, most prominently in Xinjiang. In addition, a number of governments are building – and exporting -- integrated systems that rely on these technologies to conduct large-scale surveillance and censor speech.  Efforts by the governments of PRC and Russia to institute robust, scalable and impenetrable firewalls, preventing the free flow of ideas and commerce across the internet, have become the envy of other authoritarian leaders across the world.

The OECD has a strong record of coordination around technologies such as artificial intelligence, wireless communications, semiconductors and bio-technology. For example, the OECD recommended principles and guidelines for AI in 2019, and established an AI Policy Observatory in February 2020 for governments to share best practices in AI policy. It also released a report in May 2021, entitled, Standard-Setting Review: Five-Year Report (2016-2021), which reviewed existing OECD legal instruments and made recommendations on how to improve the OECD’s standard-setting activity.  It has also provided important guidance on government guidance funds and state subsidies in the semiconductor supply chain.  

I urge you to use the OECD’s upcoming ministerial meeting on October 5-6, 2021 to work to establish rules and norms around strategic technology issues, including development and governance strategies and best practices for communications applications, AI-enabled products and services, next-generation networks, Internet of Things devices, blockchain and fintech products, and renewable energies. 

These technologies and their associated standards and norms are being developed now across various markets and international standards-setting organizations, with immediate repercussions for the economic competitiveness and national security of democratic nations. I urge you to leverage multilateral frameworks such as the OECD to advance coordination and establish norms surrounding these technology areas in concert with our likeminded allies and partners.

I stand ready to support these efforts in Congress. 

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced their co-sponsorship of the Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021, legislation to address growing concern of rising home prices, lack of access to home-buying assistance, and the widening wealth and homeownership gaps in Virginia and throughout the country. This bill would provide federal grants, administered through local entities, to aid first-generation homebuyers with qualifying expenses toward purchasing their first home—including downpayment costs, closing costs, and costs to reduce the rates of interest. The Senators are pushing to include the legislation in the Build Back Better package.

“As a former fair housing attorney, I have long worked to increase access to affordable housing for Virginia families,” said Senator Kaine. “This bill will not only help first-time homebuyers achieve their dream of owning a home; it will also strengthen our communities by helping families build wealth and economic stability for generations to come. As I work with my colleagues to pass the Build Back Better bill, I will continue pushing to include this critical support to make homeownership more accessible for families across the Commonwealth.”

“The number one way Americans build wealth in this country is through homeownership, and this bill will make it easier for more people to own a home — particularly those who have been held back from this opportunity by structural inequality and racism for far too long. I am proud to join my colleagues in making the American dream more accessible to all Americans,” said Senator Warner.  

Introduced by Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), the bill is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Accompanying legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters and has received enthusiastic support from housing, homeownership, and racial equity organizations across the country.

The Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021 has vast statewide and national support. A full list of endorsing organizations can be found here.

To find the full bill text of the Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021, click here and to find a one-pager, click here.

Last month, Warner and Kaine introduced the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers (LIFT) Act to establish a new program to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers – predominantly Americans of color – build wealth much more rapidly. The LIFT Act will establish a program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, to sponsor low fixed-rate 20-year mortgages for first-time, first-generation homebuyers who have incomes equal to or less than 120 percent of their area median income to increase access to homeownership for millions of families.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today celebrated the 25th anniversary of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA). The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution this week recognizing the milestone for this critical intelligence agency, which collects, analyzes and distributes a variety of imagery and geospatial information to service members and policymakers across the U.S. government.

“As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m pleased to recognize the 25th anniversary of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, headquartered in Springfield, Virginia,” said Sen. Warner. “For 25 years, employees of the NGA have provided warfighters and policymakers with the intelligence needed to protect Americans and our national security. I want to express my gratitude to all the men and women of the NGA for their past and continued efforts to provide timely and accurate geospatial intelligence in defense of the United States.”

The bipartisan resolution recognizing the NGA’s 25th anniversary on October 1 was also co-sponsored by Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Committee member Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after voting in favor of a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown by keeping the government funded at current levels through December 3, 2021:

“I’m pleased to know that the government won’t shut down tonight, but disappointed that we’ve once again been forced to resort to last-ditch measures. Although we voted to avert a shutdown crisis today – sparing the livelihoods of federal workers everywhere and preserving much-needed stability for Americans – we continue to head towards economic calamity by failing to act in a bipartisan way to lift the debt ceiling. Once this stopgap bill is in place, I urge my friends on the other side of the aisle to put country first and act to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States as we have so many times in the past.” 

The resolution will now head to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

Sen. Warner has been a vocal critic of government shutdowns, which take a toll on federal workers and employees who are often left with no other recourse than to drain their savings, tank their credit, or choose between putting food on the table or keeping a roof above their heads. Earlier this week, he introduced the Stop STUPIDITY (Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage In The Coming Years) Act, legislation to prevent future government shutdowns.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) introduced legislation today to put an end to future government shutdowns, such as the one that would happen later this week absent cooperation from Senate Republicans, who voted to block legislation that would have kept the government funded through December 3.

The Stop STUPIDITY (Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage In The Coming Years) Act would protect federal workers and employees, who are often forced to go without pay during government shutdowns, by keeping the government running in the case of a lapse in funding. This legislation would also help prevent the chaos that shutdowns can wreak on the lives of veterans, seniors, and other Americans who rely on timely government services. Additionally, it would help prevent the kind of backlogs and delays commonly associated with government shutdowns, including those affecting the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Our nation’s federal workers have worked day-in and day-out during the pandemic to make sure that American families and businesses can count on the government in their time of need. I can’t think of a worse way to repay these civil servants than by shutting down the government in the midst of an ongoing health and economic crisis. My legislation would spare federal workers from the volatility of government shutdowns, and preserve the stability our government necessitates as we continue to fight COVID-19,” said Sen. Warner.

In the past, government shutdowns have left federal employees no other recourse than to drain their savings, tank their credit, or choose between putting food on the table or keeping a roof above their heads. The Stop STUPIDITY Act would allow federal workers to keep receiving a paycheck during shutdowns by automatically renewing government funding at the same levels as the previous fiscal year, with adjustments for inflation. This legislation would fund all aspects of the government, except for the legislative branch and the Executive Office of the President – effectively forcing Congress and the White House to come to the negotiating table without putting the economy at risk or hurting the American public. 

A copy of the bill text is available here.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) introduced legislation to provide much-needed tax relief to working artists by updating the Qualified Performing Artist (QPA) tax deduction, which allows certain performing artists to deduct the cost of expenses incurred in the course of their employment. The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act would update the thresholds of the QPA deduction to ensure that more lower- and middle-income artists can benefit from the tax break.

The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act is endorsed by numerous organizations advocating for the rights of emerging artists, including the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, the Actors’ Equity Association, the Theatre Communications Group, the Recording Academy, and the Nashville Songwriters Association.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for performers and artists,” Sen. Warner said. “Even as widespread vaccinations allow venues to reopen, many actors, musicians and performing artists are still struggling to recover. I’m glad to be working on a bipartisan solution to help ease some of the burden on working artists during a very difficult time.”

“As a son of Tennessee and my state’s former Commissioner of Economic & Community Development, I appreciate how vital our entertainment sector is to both Tennessee’s rich culture and its economy,” Sen. Hagerty said. “I’m pleased to introduce and work on a bipartisan basis with Senator Warner on this important legislation that will help Tennessee’s creative industry and the performing artists who make it truly thrive. Under our legislation, lower- and middle-income performing artists from Mountain City to Memphis will get to keep much more of their hard-earned wages because it updates a Reagan-era tax deduction that helps artists account for the costs of work-related expenses and adjusts it for the damaging impacts of inflation.”

The Qualified Performing Artist tax deduction has not been updated since its inception in 1986 and is currently only available to those making less than $16,000 a year, meaning that very few artists qualify. The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act will update and increase the income ceiling to $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for married joint filers, allowing many more lower and middle-income performing artists to receive tax relief for work-related expenses. 

A copy of the bill text can be found here. Companion legislation has been sponsored in the House of Representatives by Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL).   

“I want to thank Senator Mark Warner and Senator Bill Hagerty for drafting and introducing this important legislation. They are great champions of the creative professionals that keep our industry successful,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher. "We have been fighting for this legislation because it will allow working class entertainment and media professionals legitimate deductions so that they can retain more of their hard earned money during these most challenging times.”

“I am grateful for the leadership of Senators Warner and Hagerty as they fight for tax fairness for performing artists while the industry is in a historic crisis,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “The overwhelming majority of Equity stage managers and actors are working-class people who work hard to make ends meet, and unlike other workers, they often have to spend 30 percent of their income on business expenses. Our producers can deduct their business expenses, and we should be able to do so too. The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act will put more money in the pockets of working performers when they need it the most as we work toward recovery in the arts sector.”

“Ensuring union creative professionals can once again deduct work expenses is a top priority for DPE and our affiliated unions in the arts, entertainment, and media industries. We commend Senators Warner and Hagerty for introducing this important legislation in the Senate, which will put money back in the hands of hard-working, middle class professionals,” said Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) President Jennifer Dorning.

“As the Senate Finance Committee moves to complete deliberations on its fiscal 2022 tax proposals, it should be noted that the more than 80,000 professional musicians of the American Federation Musicians have long used the Qualified Performing Arts Tax Parity Act provisions of the IRS code to recover usual and necessary expenses that employers in this industry have for decades refused to reimburse,” said AFM President Ray Hair. Working musicians continue to struggle while recovering from the loss of a bulk of their live music performance income due to the COVID19 pandemic. The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act is sensible legislation that we can all agree on.  It will restore these deductions and help musicians and other entertainment professionals recover from the ravages of the pandemic, which brought our industry to a screeching halt, while helping working artists and their families become whole again.”

“I commend Senators Warner and Hagerty for joining Representatives Chu and Buchanan in putting aside partisanship to help thousands of middle class behind-the-scenes entertainment workers and creative professionals,” stated IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb. “The inability to deduct work expenses has been hurting our members long before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down our work and wiped out our wages. Now, with a full return to work in sight, Congress should pass this bill, establish tax fairness, and ensure our workers come back stronger than before.”

“Theatre Communications Group is pleased to endorse the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, a tax correction sorely needed by performing artists, especially now, as their lives have been upended by COVID-19,” said Laurie Baskin, Director of Advocacy for Theatre Communications Group.

“RIAA strongly supports this bipartisan effort to make the tax code work for artists and musicians. This legislation will strengthen our music ecosystem and create new jobs and opportunities in touring, recording, and more – all while opening the door just a little wider for the next generation trying to break through. We applaud Senators Warner and Hagerty for fighting for tax fairness for working artists and musicians,” said RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, a member of the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Senate Budget Committee reintroduced the School Infrastructure Modernization Act, legislation to help modernize schools in Virginia and across the nation. This bill would adjust the current federal historic rehabilitation tax credit to make school buildings that continue to operate as schools eligible for the credit. Under current law, the credit only applies to buildings renovated to serve a different function than before. This bill would waive this ‘prior use’ clause for school renovation projects, allowing school districts with aging infrastructure and tight budgets to partner with private entities to finance renovations that the districts otherwise would not be able to afford. Older schools can often be renovated for less money than the cost of new construction. Representative Dwight Evans (D-PA-3) introduced companion legislation on the House side.

While Mayor of Richmond, Kaine led a coalition to utilize the historic tax credit to finance the renovation of a closed public school and reopen it as the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further underscored the need to ensure our schools are modern and safe learning environments,” said the Senators. “By modernizing schools, we can help more students learn, support local economies with construction jobs, and maintain the character of these historic institutions.”

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program has played a role in rehabilitating historic structures and revitalizing communities for more than 35 years. In the Commonwealth alone, the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HTC) has helped restore more than 1,200 structures since 1997. According to a June report from the Virginia Department of Education, over half of all schools in Virginia—more than 1,000 schools—are at least 50 years old.

Earlier this month, Kaine joined Representative Evans on a letter calling for the inclusion of this legislation in the final Build Back Better bill. The legislation was included in the latest House Ways and Means Committee draft of the Build Back Better bill. In March, Kaine joined Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) in introducing the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, legislation that would build on Kaine and Warner’s bill by investing $130 billion over ten years to modernize K-12 classrooms across the country and help schools upgrade their physical and digital infrastructure. 

To see full text of the School Infrastructure Modernization Act, please click here.

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner and Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded $1,502,141 in federal funding the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded to the Hampton Roads Workforce Council to support job training and reemployment services for unemployed and underemployed Virginians in Hampton Roads. This funding was provided by DOL’s Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery (CAREER) National Dislocated Worker Grant program, which supports organizations serving individuals most affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19, in particular those from historically marginalized communities.

“As the economy continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, we must ensure that Virginians most affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19 have access to the resources they need to enter or reenter the workforce,” said the Senators. “We are pleased to see this federal funding go toward helping Virginians access jobs that will be part of our economic recovery.” 

CAREER National Dislocated Worker Grants fund various reemployment services that help job seekers with search assistance, career guidance, and child care and transportation costs. Recipients can deliver training services in classroom, virtual, or work-based settings. They can also use grants to develop or upgrade virtual services, online platforms, data structures, and other technological improvements to support accessibility for job seekers. 

Both Warner and Kaine have been leaders in the Senate on efforts to support job training programs to prepare students for good-paying, in-demand jobs and help Virginians get back to work amid COVID-19. In March, Kaine reintroduced his bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, cosponsored by Warner, legislation to help improve access to job training programs by expanding Pell Grant eligibility. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia health centers will receive $28,545,390 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to better serve vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Health centers are vital to the communities they serve, and too often they are lacking the resources they need to provide the care Virginians need. These challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Senators said. “These funds will give care centers the ability to adequately treat patients and continue their lifesaving work during the global pandemic.”

The funding will be distributed as follows:

  • Stony Creek Community Health Center in Stony Creek will receive $98,988
  • Central Virginia Health Services Inc. will receive $1,003,679
  • Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems Inc. will receive $663,636
  • Free Clinic of The New River Valley Inc. will receive $556,210
  • Greater Prince William Area Community Health Center Inc. will receive $711,255
  • Southern Dominion Health Systems Inc. will receive $637,313
  • Blue Ridge Medical Center Inc. will receive $594,380
  • Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness will receive $552,591
  • Clinch River Health Services in Dungannon will receive $529,689
  • Daily Planet Inc. in Richmond will receive $575,000
  • Kuumba Community Health & Wellness Center Inc. in Roanoke will receive $603,873
  • Rockbridge Area Free Clinic in Lexington will receive $573,612
  • Johnson Health Center in Lynchburg will receive $776,265
  • Highland Medical Center in Monterey will receive $520,658
  • Tri-Area Community Health will receive $609,340
  • Neighborhood Health will receive $821,057
  • St. Charles Health Council in Jonesville will receive $689,013
  • Piedmont Access to Health Services Inc. in Danville will receive $712,311
  • Eastern Shore Rural Health System Inc. will receive $848,194
  • The City of Richmond will receive $657,135
  • Loudoun Community Health Center in Leesburg will receive $637,808
  • Harrisonburg Community Health Center Inc. will receive $671,611
  • Portsmouth Community Health Center in Portsmouth will receive $641,603
  • Bland County Medical Clinic Inc. in Bastian will receive $570,455
  • Horizon Health Services Inc. will receive $551,062 

In addition, the Virginia Department of Health will receive $12,738,652 from the Ryan White Title II Formula Grants Program.

The funding was awarded through the American Recue Plan, which both Senators voted in favor of, and will help modernize, renovate, and expand health centers that have been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with Reps. Dean Phillips (D-MN-3) and David Cicilline (D-RI-1) led a number of their congressional colleagues in a bicameral request urging President Biden to form an initiative to coordinate federal policies that will reshape and rebuild the economy so that it works for all. In a pair of letters penned by the three Senators and 18 House Representatives, the lawmakers requested that the proposed White House Initiative on Inclusive Economic Growth – originally envisioned by a coalition of impact-oriented organizations – build on the Administration’s ongoing efforts to address three monumental crises facing the nation: the COVID-19 economic fallout; a widening racial wealth gap; and climate change.

“While we support passing much of your Build Back Better Agenda through a budget reconciliation package, we believe it is also essential that the Administration prioritize executive action to reform capitalism in such a way that short-term profits and shareholder primacy no longer take center stage,” wrote the Senators. “A White House Initiative on Inclusive Economic Growth could play a central coordinating role between policy councils, executive agencies, and independent agencies in promoting equitable economic policy. The Initiative could also serve to convene private sector and civil society organizations that increasingly recognize the critical nature of a transition towards stakeholder capitalism.”

The Senators continued, “By changing the incentives for corporations and investors, we can lessen the disregard too often shown towards workers, environmental harms, or racial and gender inequity. And by renewing focus on community investing, we can work to mitigate the historic harms of disinvestment in Black, brown, tribal, and rural communities.”

In a separate letter, the House Representatives wrote, “The past year has exacerbated existing crises and brought the United States to an existential crossroads. The pandemic and the resulting economic fallout, systemic racial injustice, and the rising threat of climate change call for bold but necessary action: rebuilding our economy so that it works for all Americans. To address these issues, we need to change the underlying structures that have perpetuated them.”

“Several agencies are already beginning to prioritize more inclusive economic growth and community investing, including Treasury, the SEC, the Department of Commerce and others. In order to realize the full potential of these reforms across the federal government, we need coordination and prioritization from the Biden Administration,” they continued. “The principles behind stakeholder capitalism and community investing are increasingly being embraced across industries and in both the public and private sectors. With this new Initiative, we believe the White House can tap into a growing movement and ensure we transform these ideas into lasting, impactful policy.”

This bicameral effort has the support of organizations like B Lab and USIIA.

“We are motivated and excited by the support we are seeing for the White House Initiative on Inclusive Economic Growth. Now, more than ever, we have the momentum to drive inclusive economic growth through a partnership with the White House and Congress, have a say in rules and incentives for many of our decision-makers in corporate boardrooms and on Wall Street, and catalyze new investment for small businesses that line Main Street,” said Andrew Kassoy, co-founder and CEO of B Lab, a global network of organizations transforming the global economic system and one of the more than 50 organizations calling for the proposed White House Initiative.

“We are thankful for the leadership and support we have received from Sen. Warner, Reps. Phillips and Cicilline and many of their colleagues. The proposed initiative is the brainchild of more than 50 organizations that have dedicated their work to driving impact for underserved communities and in turn, building toward a more just and equitable economy. We look forward to partnering with Congress, the Administration and peers in the private sector on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to build back better and ensure that local economies and the capital markets work for all Americans,”said Fran Seegull, president of U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, one of the more than 50 organizations calling for the proposed White House Initiative.

Joining Reps. Phillips and Cicilline in the House letter are U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY-05), Adam Smith (D-WA-09), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ-09), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), André Carson (D-IN-07), Joe Neguse (D-CO-02), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-09), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-07), Donald Beyer Jr. (D-VA-08), and Kathleen Rice (D-NY-04).

Full text of the Senate letter is available here. Text of the House letter is available here. 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) issued the following statement after the Judiciary Committee approved President Biden’s nominations of Virginia Solicitor General Toby J. Heytens for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael S. Nachmanoff for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division:

“We are pleased that the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to advance the nominations of Toby Heytens, Patricia Tolliver Giles, and Michael Nachmanoff.  We recommended Mr. Heytens, Ms. Tolliver Giles, and Judge Nachmanoff to President Biden and are confident all three nominees will serve Virginia and the country with distinction. We urge our colleagues to swiftly confirm Mr. Heytens to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Ms. Tolliver Giles and Judge Nachmanoff to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.” 

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been supporters of the three nominees. In May, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the President, recommending Mr. Heytens for the vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, following Judge Barbara M. Keenan’s decision to take senior status in August 2021. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is based in Richmond and hears federal appeals from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

In April, the Senators sent a letter to President Biden, recommending Ms. Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge Nachmanoff for the vacancy in the Alexandria Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Liam O’Grady’s decision to take senior status. Shortly thereafter, another vacancy opened in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to succeed Judge Anthony Trenga, who assumed senior status June 1, 2021.

These nominations will now head to the Senate floor to be considered by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) in introducing a bipartisan resolution to support the designation of September 19-25 as “Telehealth Awareness Week.” The resolution recognizes that telehealth has helped millions of patients access quality health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it will continue to be essential beyond the public health emergency.

“Telehealth makes it possible for more people to safely get the care they need, where and when they need it,” said Senator Schatz. “This is an opportunity for Congress to demonstrate its broad, bipartisan support for telehealth and help more people learn how to access these important services.”

“Telehealth services have brought quality health care to more Americans in more places during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Senator Wicker said. “This Telehealth Awareness Week, I am glad to join my colleagues to celebrate the importance of telehealth and commit to making these services available to more Americans permanently.”

The resolution recognizes the bipartisan support in Congress for telehealth and encourages expanded access to telehealth services for all individuals, including members of rural and underserved communities. It concludes that “Telehealth Awareness Week” will unite the efforts of patients, caregivers, health care providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to advance the role of telehealth in health care.

In addition to Senators Warner, Schatz, and Wicker, the resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss).

To read the full resolution, click here.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA), members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) today introduced the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers (LIFT) Act to establish a new program to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers – predominately Americans of color – build wealth much more rapidly.  By offering new homeowners a 20-year mortgage for roughly the same monthly payment as a traditional 30-year loan, LIFT will allow them to grow equity twice as fast.   

“The number one way that middle class Americans build wealth is through homeownership, an opportunity that due to racism and structural inequality has been denied to too many families of color. Today, Black families in this country have an average net worth just one-tenth the size of their white counterparts,” said Sen. Warner. “The LIFT Act will help close the racial wealth gap by allowing qualified home buyers to build equity – and wealth – at twice the rate of a conventional 30-year mortgage.”

“Homeownership is a key tool for Americans to grow their wealth and build economic stability, but for far too many people, especially people of color, this goal remains out of reach. This is a direct result of the systemic racial discrimination that has plagued our nation’s housing policies for generations. It’s time to right this wrong and implement policies that will allow us to close this gap. I’m proud to introduce this legislation that will help all first-time, first-generation homebuyers succeed in building more wealth through homeownership with a 20-year mortgage. I’ll be working to pass this crucial bill to help bring more economic opportunity and prosperity to all,” said Sen. Van Hollen.

“For too long, too many of our neighbors have been excluded from our nation’s housing market, unable to build equity and security after buying and moving into their first home,” said Sen. Reverend Warnock. “Home equity accumulation is one of the best ways to build generational wealth for hardworking families in Georgia and across the nation, and to close the racial wealth gap. For that, I am proud to stand alongside Sen. Warner in introducing the LIFT Act, which will help to level the playing field by making it easier for first-time homebuyers to build wealth all while boosting our state and national economy.”

“This is about helping first-time homebuyers pay down their mortgages and build wealth in their homes more quickly. I'm teaming up with Senator Warner to help low-income Georgians and first-time homebuyers build generational wealth,” Sen. Ossoff said.

“As a former fair housing attorney, I have long been passionate about giving more families access to stable housing and economic mobility,” said Sen. Kaine. “This bill will help families in their pursuit of the American dream by making home ownership more accessible to first-generation homebuyers and enabling them to build equity faster. I will continue working in the coming weeks to deliver Americans historic reforms to make housing more affordable.”

The LIFT Act will establish a program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, to sponsor low fixed-rate 20-year mortgages for first-time, first-generation homebuyers who have incomes equal to or less than 120 percent of their area median income. Working through Ginnie Mae, Treasury would subsidize the interest rate and origination fees associated with these 20-year mortgages such that the monthly payment would be in line with a 30-year Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgage. By allowing borrowers to build equity through their homes at twice the rate of a comparable 30-year loan without meaningfully increasing the monthly payment, LIFT will improve the power of homeownership for millions of families. Coupled with well-targeted down-payment assistance, the LIFT program will make meaningful progress in closing the racial wealth gap, expanding and greatly strengthening the wealth-building benefits of homeownership in communities too long left behind by our existing financial structures.

A two-page summary of the bill is available here. Text of the legislation is available here.

“The LIFT Act would be a groundbreaking new approach to help close the nation’s significant and troubling shortfall in homeownership among people of color and the associated substantial wealth racial gap.  Focusing eligibility on first-time, first-generation homebuyers would target this assistance to families and individuals most in need of assistance while also narrowing racial homeownership gaps. And the use of subsidies to make a 20-year mortgage as affordable as a 30-year loan puts homebuyers on a path to rapidly accumulate home equity while also making homeownership less risky. The proposed approach is also highly cost effective by leveraging federal subsidies to enable homeowners to build wealth over time more quickly and effectively,” said Chris Herbert, Managing Director, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“Homeownership is the major source of wealth and assets for most American families. Senator Warner's proposed LIFT Act is a worthy initiative that can help families build equity faster and Opportunity Finance Network is pleased to endorse this legislation,” Jennifer A. Vasiloff, Chief External Affairs Officer, Opportunity Finance Network, said.

“Homeownership is the best way to build wealth, especially for lower and moderate income households and families of color, and LIFT supercharges that wealth-building. By helping homeowners get a 20-year mortgage with a lower monthly payment consistent with a 30-year mortgage, LIFT preserves affordability and supports homeownership, but also allows homeowners to rapidly accumulate equity in their homes,” said Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics. “LIFT is among the most effective ways policymakers have to address the nation’s pernicious problem of large and widening economic disparities.”

“The Virginia Housing Alliance applauds Senator Warner’s leadership and commitment to ensuring that the wealth building opportunity of homeownership becomes a reality for many more Americans through the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers Act (LIFT Act). In Virginia, the homeownership rate for non-Hispanic white households is 73% compared to just 48% for Black households. The LIFT Act will provide a transformative opportunity to close this gap and make the American dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of first time homebuyers in Virginia,” said Brian Koziol, Executive Director, Virginia Housing Alliance. 

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