Press Releases

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

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

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

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

 

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $43,246,753 in federal funding to support affordable housing development across Virginia. The funding, which will go to 26 municipalities across the Commonwealth, has been awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Public Housing Capital Fund.

“Families all across the Commonwealth should have access to safe and affordable housing,” the Senators said. “We are pleased that these federal dollars will help support the health and safety of Virginia communities.”

President Trump’s FY 2019 budget eliminates funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund. The Capital Fund provides critical federal dollars to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in Virginia for the development, financing, and modernization of public housing developments and for managementimprovements. In March, Sens. Warner and Kaine voted in favor of the omnibus bill that provides more than $2.75 billion in funding to the Capital Fund program.

 

The selected Virginia housing authorities and funding amounts are listed below:

 

Virginia Housing Authority Recipient

City

Amount

Portsmouth Redev. & Housing Authority

PORTSMOUTH

$2,184,978.00

Bristol Redevelopment & Housing Authority

BRISTOL

$803,731.00

Newport News Redev. & Housing Authority

NEWPORT NEWS

$4,021,967.00

Alexandria Redev. & Housing Authority

ALEXANDRIA

$1,957,491.00

Hopewell Redevelopment & Housing Authority

HOPEWELL

$800,481.00

Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority

NORFOLK

$8,576,413.00

Richmond Redev. & Housing Authority

RICHMOND

$10,911,250.00

Danville Redevelopment & Housing Authority

DANVILLE

$1,056,943.00

Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority

ROANOKE

$3,265,133.00

Chesapeake Redev. & Housing Authority

CHESAPEAKE

$1,037,894.00

Lynchburg Redev. & Housing Authority

LYNCHBURG

$820,492.00

Norton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

NORTON

$460,027.00

Charlottesville Redev. & Housing Authority

CHARLOTTESVILLE

$832,974.00

Hampton Redevelopment & Housing Authority

HAMPTON

$1,306,266.00

Franklin Redev. & Housing Authority

FRANKLIN

$147,828.00

Petersburg Redev. & Housing Authority

PETERSBURG

$1,025,085.00

Wytheville Redev. & Housing Authority

WYTHEVILLE

$462,256.00

Waynesboro Redev. & Housing Authority

WAYNESBORO

$390,498.00

Wise County Redev. & Housing Authority

COEBURN

$409,332.00

Suffolk Redev. & Housing Authority

SUFFOLK

$1,024,358.00

Williamsburg Redev. & Housing Authority

WILLIAMSBURG

$258,697.00

Cumberland Plateau Reg. Housing Authority

LEBANANON

$548,009.00

Marion Redevelopment & Housing Authority

MARION

$536,689.00

Scott County Redev. & Housing Authority

DUFFIELD

$210,200.00

Abingdon Redev. & Housing Authority

ABINGDON

$63,093.00

Lee County Redev. & Housing Authority

JONESVILLE

$134,668.00

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined a bipartisan letter calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to support long-term funding that would make broadband and voice services more accessible and affordable in rural communities. In the letter, the Senators thank the FCC for its work to support rural broadband and request that it prevent upcoming funding cuts to smaller operators that deliver broadband to the country’s most rural communities, which would otherwise go into effect on July 1.

“These recurring budget shortfalls result in lower speeds, more unserved locations, and higher prices for rural consumers and businesses,” the Senators said. “We share your goal of eliminating the digital divide and look forward to working with you to maintain accessible, affordable broadband for rural American consumers and businesses.”

The FCC fixed the budget shortfall for the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) High-Cost program for the current Fiscal Year, but has not addressed long term funding for the program. The USF program helps to ensure that consumers in rural areas pay comparable rates to those in urban areas by helping rural carriers cover some of their costs. The Senators make the case that funding the program encourages businesses to invest in broadband networks in regions of the country where service is needed, but where deploying broadband is difficult and costly.

Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of expanding broadband to rural communities in Virginia as Governors and Senators. Last year, Warner and Kaine joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to urge President Trump to include broadband in an infrastructure initiative. In October, Warner and Kainepraised a Senate Democratic proposal to invest $40 billion to build broadband infrastructure necessary to connect over 34 million Americans to high-speed internet. In November, Warner and Kaine announced $6 million in federal funding to construct broadband infrastructure in Buchanan and Scott Counties.

The full text of the Senators’ letter to Chairman Pai is available here and below:

 

May 15, 2018

 

The Honorable Ajit Pai

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, S.W.

Washington, DC 20554

 

Dear Chairman Pai:

 

We write to express our strong support and sincere gratitude for the recent Order addressing budget shortfalls in the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) High-Cost program. The Order is an essential, immediate step in the right direction, and we now encourage the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to continue down this path by acting quickly on the notice of proposed rulemaking to provide long-term, predictable support. Such additional steps are necessary to ensure rural Americans have access to high quality voice and broadband services.

The FCC’s recent Order approving an infusion of funds into the USF is greatly welcomed, and will provide needed support for small, rural carriers that rely on the High-Cost USF program. Despite this, persistent limitations on resources can affect the ability of smaller broadband providers to deliver services in our country’s most rural communities. The FCC’s cost model for smaller operators electing model-based USF support is not yet funded at the designed levels, and carriers not receiving model-based support will once again face significant funding cuts when the program’s new fiscal year takes effect on July 1, 2018. These recurring budget shortfalls result in lower speeds, more unserved locations, and higher prices for rural consumers and businesses.

Congress has expressed consistent, bipartisan support for addressing shortfalls in the USF program. In April 2017, 58 Senators called on the FCC to provide adequate resources for broadband delivery services to rural consumers in areas that are the hardest and costliest to serve. In May 2017, 102 Representatives wrote to the FCC, expressing similar concerns about the impacts of insufficient USF resources on rural consumers. 

We commend the FCC’s actions thus far to address and modernize USF support. Taking action on the notice of proposed rulemaking and establishing lasting solutions that allow the reformed High-Cost mechanism to work as designed would enable many smaller operators to offer high quality, affordable broadband to consumers across rural America. It is important to consider any modifications needed to meet the program’s objectives of ensuring consistent network build-out and strengthening ongoing service, for locations otherwise unserved, in our nation’s high-cost rural areas. 

Thank you for the actions you have undertaken thus far to support the USF and for considering this request. We share your goal of eliminating the digital divide and look forward to working with you to maintain accessible, affordable broadband for rural American consumers and businesses.

 

Sincerely,

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WARNER & KAINE ANNOUNCE $94.8 MILLION IN GRANTS FOR HOUSING & INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS ACROSS VIRGINIA

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $94,819,202 in federal funding to help Virginia communities with housing and infrastructure projects. The funding, which will go to more than 30 locations across Virginia, will be awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), HOME, and Housing Trust Fund (HTF) programs. 

“We are pleased to announce funding that will help provide many Virginia families with the safe and affordable housing they need,” the Senators said. “These grants will help strengthen the well-being of communities throughout our Commonwealth.” 

President Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposes eliminating the Community Development Block Grant, HOME, and Housing Trust Fund programs. The budget also proposes cutting ESG by 5.6% and cutting HOPWA by 12%. Warner and Kaine have opposed President Trump’s budget cuts to Virginia priorities and will continue fighting for this important HUD funding in Congress. 

The $94,819,202 in funding will be awarded through HUD grants as follows:

 

Recipient

CDBG18

HOME18

ESG18

HOPWA18

HTF18

Total

Alexandria

$941,853

$536,873

$0

$0

$0

$1,478,726

Blacksburg

$482,932

$672,718

$0

$0

$0

$1,155,650

Bristol

$254,487

$0

$0

$0

$0

$254,487

Charlottesville

$408,417

$624,013

$0

$0

$0

$1,032,430

Chesapeake

$1,182,627

$550,827

$0

$0

$0

$1,733,454

Christiansburg

$111,703

$0

$0

$0

$0

$111,703

Colonial Heights

$94,495

$0

$0

$0

$0

$94,495

Danville

$865,416

$270,868

$0

$0

$0

$1,136,284

Fredericksburg

$186,790

$0

$0

$0

$0

$186,790

Hampton

$1,156,814

$557,513

$0

$0

$0

$1,714,327

Harrisonburg

$559,588

$0

$0

$0

$0

$559,588

Hopewell

$177,848

$0

$0

$0

$0

$177,848

Lynchburg

$733,913

$438,772

$0

$0

$0

$1,172,685

Newport News

$1,257,434

$786,711

$0

$0

$0

$2,044,145

Norfolk

$4,323,842

$1,278,608

$351,181

$0

$0

$5,953,631

Petersburg

$624,601

$0

$0

$0

$0

$624,601

Portsmouth

$1,557,075

$452,783

$0

$0

$0

$2,009,858

Radford

$165,992

$0

$0

$0

$0

$165,992

Richmond

$4,442,476

$1,500,301

$366,794

$1,050,009

$0

$7,359,580

Roanoke

$1,732,287

$606,064

$139,611

$0

$0

$2,477,962

Suffolk

$466,234

$377,689

$0

$0

$0

$843,923

Virginia Beach

$2,000,832

$1,122,655

$164,230

$1,524,127

$0

$4,811,844

Waynesboro 

$193,586

$0

$0

$0

$0

$193,586

Winchester

$231,081

$615,483

$0

$0

$0

$846,564

Arlington County

$1,363,320

$762,215

$0

$0

$0

$2,125,535

Chesterfield County

$1,390,089

$558,425

$0

$0

$0

$1,948,514

Fairfax County

$5,574,509

$2,103,044

$447,834

$0

$0

$8,125,387

Henrico County

$1,692,829

$897,341

$138,560

$0

$0

$2,728,730

Loudoun County

$1,334,299

$0

$0

$0

$0

$1,334,299

Prince William County

$2,504,696

$919,946

$201,653

$0

$0

$3,626,295

Funds for Virginia to administer to lower population areas

$18,289,253

$10,094,628

$2,771,457

$962,389

$4,672,562

$36,790,289

Total

$56,301,318

$25,727,477

$4,581,320

$3,536,525

$4,672,562

$94,819,202

 

 

Additional details on each program from HUD:

 

The Community Development Block (CDBG) Grants program provides annual grants to states and local units of government to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.

 

The HOME program helps to expand the supply of decent, affordable housing to low- and very low-income families by providing grants to states and local governments to fund housing programs that meet local needs and priorities.

 

The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program provides funding to engage homeless individuals and families living on the street; improve the number, quality, and operations of emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families; provide essential services to shelter residents, rapidly re-house homeless individuals, and families, and prevent families and individuals from becoming homeless. 

 

The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program provides housing assistance and related supportive services to local units of government, states and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families.

 

The Housing Trust Fund (HTF) is a new affordable housing production program that will complement existing Federal, State and local efforts to increase and preserve the supply of decent, safe, and sanitary affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income households, including homeless families.

 

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Sen. Warner met with ARC Co-Chair last month in his Senate office in Washington

 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Tim Thomas, President Trump’s nominee to be the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission: 

I was proud to support Mr. Thomas’ nomination to lead federal efforts to foster economic development in Appalachia,” said Sen. Warner. “Despite the Administration’s attempt to defund the Appalachian Regional Commission, I worked with my colleagues on a bipartisan funding agreement this week that just increased its funding by $3 million—the highest level approved in decades. Now that he has been confirmed as its co-chair, I trust Mr. Thomas will carry out his duties with a clear focus on expanding economic opportunities in the region and I look forward to working together to achieve this.” 

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that has invested in 25,000 projects across Appalachia’s 420 counties. For more than fifty years, ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia.

A bipartisan Congressional budget agreement passed by Congress this week included a $3 million increase in additional funding for ARC, for a total of $155 million in FY18. In his budget plan, President Trump had proposed eliminating funding for the ARC entirely. In response, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan coalition of Senators who represent Appalachian states called on President Trump to reverse his proposal to zero out funding for this important federal-state partnership. In 2017 alone, Sen. Warner announced over $7 million in ARC grant funding for projects in Virginia’s Appalachian counties.

Sen. Warner serves as a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Appalachia Initiative, which has laid out a roadmap for bipartisan legislation to jumpstart economic growth in the region. He has introduced bipartisan legislation to support and encourage public-private partnerships in Appalachia that improve regional infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurship, and create jobs.  

Mr. Thomas served on the state staff of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a field representative based in the Senator’s Bowling Green office. A native Kentuckian, Thomas previously served in the administration of former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher as a special assistant to the secretary of the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet, handling matters including legislative initiatives for the agency, according to the ARC In a meeting last month, Sen. Warner and Thomas discussed their shared priorities for Appalachia, including workforce development and combatting the opioid crisis.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced bipartisan legislation to help local communities in Appalachia expand economic opportunity. The Appalachia Opportunity Act establishes a $100 million annual grant program to support and encourage public-private partnerships in Appalachia that will improve regional infrastructure, encourage entrepreneurship, and create jobs.  

While federal-state partnerships like the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) have made great strides at helping the region modernize and adapt to economic shifts over the last several decades, the federal government and states are still largely tasked with selecting which of these projects receive funding. This bipartisan bill establishes a competitive grant program that would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to incentivize local communities to engage in public-private partnerships that would advance local economic development projects. At $100 million annually, the new grant program would nearly double the level of federal funding specifically set aside for expanding economic development in Appalachia. The funds will come from the Dislocated Worker Reserve Fund, a program that provides assistance to dislocated workers who are disproportionately impacted by large layoffs and natural disasters.

“You shouldn’t have to leave your hometown to find a high-paying job and get a world-class education,” said Sen. Warner. “But Southwest Virginia and other parts of Appalachia have been hit hard by economic shifts of the last several decades. While there’s no magic formula that will fix all of the economic problems facing rural communities overnight, the federal government can and should do more to support homegrown initiatives that will expand economic opportunities in the region. This bipartisan bill incentivizes the private sector to make long-term investments in Appalachia, and encourages rural communities to experiment with new and innovative ways to create and attract 21st century jobs.”

“Federal investments and partnerships with local leaders are both critical in helping prepare Appalachian economies and communities for the future,”said Sen. Capito. “As we continue efforts to give our communities the tools they need to grow and prosper, encouraging collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors is key for ensuring success and sustainability in the region. This bill will encourage cooperation and help deliver critical new resources for economic development in West Virginia and all of Appalachia.”

“Last fall I teamed up with several Senators from the Appalachian region to co-chair The Appalachia Initiative, and today I am excited to continue our important work to tackle the unique needs facing Appalachian communities,” said Sen. Manchin. “Rural communities in West Virginia are facing some tough challenges and grant programs like this will help foster the public-private partnerships needed to get local projects off the ground. This bipartisan bill is part of a comprehensive effort to help drive pragmatic, locally driven efforts to spur economic progress in Appalachian communities.”  

“Over the past 50 years, targeted federal investments through the Appalachian Regional Commission have been a driving force for economic development and job creation in North Mississippi and greater Appalachia,” said Sen. Wicker. “This new program would provide additional competitive funding to spur long-term private investment and develop critical infrastructure, making a difference in the lives of the millions of people who call the region home.”

For ten years, the bill would provide $100 million annually to the Appalachia Innovation Program to fund ideas generated by local Appalachian communities. In order to be eligible for these grants, communities will convene public-private teams to collaborate on projects that increase economic growth and education in the Appalachian region. Teams will include representatives from local economic development boards, private companies and associations, and regional institutions of higher learning, including technical schools, community colleges, or four-year institutions. 

In order to encourage collaboration across localities and improve the economy for the whole region, projects are required to involve at least two bordering counties, and have access to additional sources of funding representing at least 10 percent of the project’s overall cost, either through local matching funds or private sector investment. To be eligible, projects must also have a measurable economic impact, and seek to do at least one of the following:  

  • Create jobs 
  • Expand regional capacity of post-secondary education
  • Grow tourism rates 
  • Benefit public health 
  • Upgrade regional infrastructure 

“BPC Action applauds the introduction of the Appalachia Opportunity Grants Act, which contains recommendations from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Appalachia Initiative. This bill responds to the economic challenges in Appalachia by offering a bipartisan approach to advance prosperity and accelerate growth for more than 25 million people that call this region home,” said Jason Grumet, President of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

"This is indeed a great day for the Appalachian Region. The bill almost doubles the resources dedicated to this region and will go a long way toward growing a viable future for the people of Appalachia.  The structure is a direct linkage to federal funding for local people to solve their economic challenges with their own solutions. I applaud this long overdue effort,” said Thomas M. Hunter, Former Executive Director of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“The Appalachia Opportunity Act will provide important resources to spur economic growth throughout the region. We thank Senator Warner for his leadership and applaud his ability to gain bipartisan support for his proposal. We look forward to participating in the public-private collaborative process that will identify worthy projects and work to realize the jobs they’ll bring for our people,” said Christian T. Beam, President & COO Appalachian Power Co.

“The UMWA supports every opportunity for economically devastated communities throughout Appalachia to revitalize themselves while increasing badly needed employment opportunities. The Appalachia Opportunity Act will help jump-start this process, and we wholeheartedly support it,” said Cecil E. Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). 

“What an exciting outcome of our work on the BPC task force! This grant program will have a tangible impact on economic development across the regions of Appalachia. The focus on grant allocations to teams of public and private groups for collaboration on regional projects has great potential to create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship, and expand the regional capacity of higher education. I support the Appalachia Opportunity Act and look forward to its impact on the future UVa-Wise,” said Dr. Donna Price Henry, Chancellor of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Sens. Warner and Manchin, along with Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), are co-chairs of the bipartisan Appalachia Initiative, a task force convened with the Bipartisan Policy Center to find pragmatic, bipartisan solutions to Appalachia’s challenges. Last year, they released a report with a set of bipartisan recommendations to boost economic growth in Appalachia.

A summary of the legislation can be found here. Full bill text can be found here

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that Virginia localities and organizations in Alexandria, Danville, Chesapeake and Harrisonburg will receive $2,301,433 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The grants will help these entities hire or retain service coordinators to assist public housing residents in finding jobs and educational opportunities, and achieving economic and housing independence.

“These funds will strengthen Virginia communities and improve quality of life for public housing residents,” said the Senators. “This investment will help residents obtain higher paying jobs so they can be self-sufficient and regain financial independence.”

The funding, provided through HUD’s Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency – Service Coordinators Program (ROSS-SC) helps grantees hire or retain "service coordinators" who work directly with residents to assess their needs and connect them with education, job training and placement programs, and/or computer and financial literacy services available in their community to promote self-sufficiency. 

A list of grant recipients and amounts is included below:

  • Can I Live, Inc. (Alexandria) - $940,033
  • Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority - $246,000
  • Cardinal Village Tenant Association, Inc. (Danville) - $231,000
  • Pleasant View Tenant Association, Inc. (Danville) - $231,000
  • Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority - $231,000
  • Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority - $246,000
  • Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority - $176,400

The purpose of HUD’s ROSS-SC program is to encourage innovative and locally driven strategies that link public housing assistance with public and private resources to enable HUD-assisted families to increase earned income; reduce or eliminate their need for welfare assistance; and promote economic independence and housing self-sufficiency. These grants provide funding to hire and retain Service Coordinators who will assess the needs of residents of conventional Public Housing or Indian housing and coordinate available resources in the community to meet those needs. In addition, ROSS-SC grants help improve living conditions for seniors, enabling them to age-in-place.

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WASHINGTON –  U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released a statement on today’s White House nomination of Thomas T. Cullen to serve as United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia:

“Tom Cullen is an experienced federal prosecutor who has practiced in North Carolina and Virginia. He will make an excellent U.S. Attorney, and we are proud to support his nomination to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District,” said the Senators. 

Cullen was one of two candidates recommended to the White House by Sens. Warner and Kaine in July. Cullen’s nomination was supported by a panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth selected by Sens. Warner and Kaine to interview all candidates who applied for the position.

Mr. Cullen is currently a Principal/Partner at Woods Rogers PLC in Roanoke, where his practice focuses on white-collar defense and government investigations. He entered the private sector following a career with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District, where he served as Deputy Criminal Chief at the request of former U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy. Mr. Cullen previously served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also served as an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force prosecutor during his time in Charlotte. Mr. Cullen began his legal career as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne in the Eastern District, followed by a clerkship with Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Mr. Cullen received his law degree from William and Mary School of Law in 2004 where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif and a B.A. cum laude from Furman University.

The Western District of Virginia has offices in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Abingdon, Lynchburg, Danville, Big Stone Gap and Harrisonburg.

 

# # #

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Chicken Caucus, joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce theFair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act. The bill would protect farmers, cattlemen, and livestock markets from burdensome EPA reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. These requirements were not intended to affect animal agriculture and instead were meant to address dangerous industrial pollution, chemical plant explosions, and the release of hazardous materials into the environment.

“Virginia cattlemen and farmers should not be burdened by regulations that were designed to apply to industrial pollution and toxic chemicals – not farms and production facilities,” said Sen. Warner. “Our local agricultural industry is an economic driver and job creator in the Commonwealth and this commonsense fix balances strong environmental protections with the needs of these hardworking livestock producers.”

“On behalf poultry farmers in Virginia, we greatly appreciate Senator Warner for his leadership on the FARM Act. This bill will ease the burden of Virginia turkey and chicken farmers from having to report low-level ammonia emissions from the natural decomposition of animal manure,” said Hobey Bauhan, President, Virginia Poultry Federation.

“The Virginia Cattlemen's Association is pleased that Senator Warner joined in patronizing the FARM Act and supporting a common sense approach to deregulation when unintentional targets like livestock production are included in a rule written for other industries.  We appreciate Senator Warner and others who signed on showing their commitment to making sure regulation is efficient and supportive of results over unnecessary bureaucracy,” said Jason H. Carter, Executive Director, Virginia Cattlemen's Association & Virginia Beef Industry Council.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) are laws on the books that require entities to notify authorities when they release large quantities of hazardous materials. In 2008, the EPA published a final rule exempting most livestock operations from the laws’ reporting requirements.

In April 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled EPA did not have the authority to create this exemption for agriculture, creating confusion and uncertainty for America’s Ag producers.   

The FARM Act would:

  • Maintain the exemption for certain federally registered pesticides from reporting requirements within CERCLA.
  • Exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements under CERCLA.
  • Provide agriculture producers with greater certainty by reinstating the status quo producers have been operating under since EPA’s 2008 final rule.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with Tim Thomas, President Trump’s nominee to be the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. During the meeting, Senator Warner and Thomas discussed their shared priorities for Appalachia, including workforce development and combatting the opioid crisis.

“While I remain concerned about the Trump Administration’s proposal to defund the Appalachian Regional Commission, I was encouraged to hear Mr. Thomas lay out his priorities for an active ARC that carries out its mission of fostering economic development in Appalachia,” said Sen. Warner. “When it comes to jumpstarting the region’s economy, we need to take off our Republican and Democratic hats and work together. I encourage my colleagues from both parties to give fair consideration to Mr. Thomas’ nomination for this important post.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that has invested in 25,000 projects across Appalachia’s 420 counties. For more than fifty years, ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia.

In his FY2018 budget, President Trump proposed eliminating funding for the ARC entirely. In response, Senator Warner and a bipartisan coalition of Senators who represent Appalachian states called on President Trump to reverse his proposal to zero out funding for this important federal-state partnership. In 2017 alone, Senator Warner announced over $7 million in ARC grant funding for projects in Virginia’s Appalachian counties, including:

  • Falls Mills Senior Center Project (Tazewell County) - $500,000. This grant to the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, Inc., in partnership with the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, will help build a community service and senior facility at the Falls Mills Elementary School site.
  • Alleghany Highlands Drone Zone (Covington, Va.) - $100,000. This grant will be matched with $100,000 in local funds to complete a feasibility study and design, marketing, and business plan for the new “Alleghany Highlands Drone Zone,” a business accelerator program and facility to support local enterprises in this emerging industry. It is anticipated that space for 12 businesses will be available in a city owned building that has been identified for renovation, and the project is expected to support the creation of three to five new businesses a year, according to ARC.
  • Floyd Regional Commerce Center (Floyd County) - $1,081,958. This grant leverages $30 million in private investment—will fund approximately 0.21 miles of access road, an industrial cul-de-sac, as well as pedestrian and bike path to facilitate Floyd County’s development of the Floyd Regional Commerce Center. The Floyd County Economic Development Authority estimates that completion of the Commerce Center would promote economic development with the potential to support more than 100 new jobs in the region.
  • William King Museum of Art (Abingdon, Va.) - $500,000. This grant will help the William King Museum of Art will help fund Phase 1 of a larger cultural campus expansion project. The funds will go towards access improvements, additional parking and renovating a currently vacant facility that will become the new Center for Studio Art and Education. With the improvements at the campus, 10 artisans will take up residency at the facility, 2 jobs will be created and 2,500 new visitors are anticipated. In addition to ARC funds, local sources will provide $657,000, bringing the total project funding to $1,157,000. 
  • Southwest Virginia Early Childhood Workforce Development (Abington, Va.) - $99,933. This grant will help United Way of Southwest Virginia assist 70 workers obtain child care credentials and improve child development services for 20 existing businesses in a 13-county area. In addition, the grantee will provide training and other assistance to individuals who wish to establish their own childcare programs in underserved areas, resulting in 10 new enterprises capable of serving 120 children. In addition to ARC funds, local sources will provide $61,783 in matching funds. 
  • Project Discovery Program (Abingdon, Va.) - $75,844. This grant will help People Incorporated of Virginia expand its academic advancement and college attendance program to serve more low-income, first-generation college-bound high school students. The project will provide assistance to 60 students with college readiness skills and financial opportunities. The project will serve Dickenson, Buchanan, Russell, and Washington Counties. In additional to ARC funds, local sources will provide $39,391, bringing the total project funding to $113,235.
  • Frog Level Phase II Water Project (Lee County) - $500,000. This grant will help provide reliable public water supply to Lee County as well as support economic development for the newly-established school of veterinary medicine. In addition to ARC funds, state sources will provide $948,680, and local sources will provide $108,652, bringing the total project funding to $1,557,332.
  • Cool & Connected Pennington Gap Project (Pennington Gap, Va.) - $7,500. This grant will help the city of Pennington Gap fund the renovation of space and the creation of a community computer center at the basement of the Lee Theatre, purchase computer equipment, and provide Wi-Fi access in Leeman’s field. In addition to ARC funds, Sunset Digital Communications will provide $4,000, bringing the total project funding to $11,500.
  • Cool & Connected Jonesville Project (Jonesville, Va.) - $7,500. This grant will help fund the renovation of a community computer center in Jonesville, Virginia at an existing town-owned building located in the town’s Cumberland Bowl Park. The minor renovations will include computer equipment and Wi-Fi access at the park. In addition to ARC funds, Sunset Digital Communications will provide $4,000, bringing the total project funding to $11,500.
  • Tacoma Sewer Project (Wise County) - $500,000. The grant will help the Wise County Public Service Authority begin a project that will provide public sewer collection to a previously unserved community of 48 households and two businesses, and eliminate public and environmental health concerns related to improperly disposed raw sewage. In addition to ARC funds, state sources will provide $750,000, and local sources will provide $155,901, bringing the total project funding to $1,405,901.
  • Lyric Theater Project (St. Paul, Va.) - $300,000. This grant will help the Town of St. Paul renovate and stabilize the interior and exterior of the Lyric Theater to stabilize the building. The renovation will equip the building to hold conferences, events and performing arts for visitor and tourists. The facility will be affiliated with The Crooked Road Music Heritage Trail. In addition to ARC funds, local sources will provide $135,000, bringing the total project funding to $435,000.
  • Spearhead Trails in SW Virginia Project (Coeburn, Va.) - $92,300. This grant will help the Southwest Regional Recreation Authority (SRRA) to fund a study that will examine existing and potential economic benefits of the Spearhead Trails on the surrounding region, identify priorities for future development, and help SRRA develop a sustainable organizational model. SRRA was chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2008 to support outdoor recreation and tourism investment in the Coalfields of Southwest Virginia. In addition to ARC funds, state sources will provide $30,000 and local sources will provide $7,700, bringing the total project funding to $130,000.
  • Donnkenny, Breaks and Tivis Pump Stations Replacement Project (Dickenson County) - $441,740. This grant will help replace three deteriorating below-ground pump stations with above-ground facilities that meet current design standards. The new pump stations will provide water to 571 households and 10 businesses in distressed communities, as well as to nine tourism-related businesses in the Breaks Interstate Park, and will ensure that reliable infrastructure is in place to support future economic development, particularly that which is related to tourism. In addition to ARC funds, state sources will provide $150,000, and local sources will provide an additional $102,260, bringing the total project funding to $694,000.


Senator Warner serves as a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Appalachia Initiative, which has laid out a roadmap for bipartisan legislation to jumpstart economic growth in the region.

Mr. Thomas currently serves on the state staff of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a field representative based in the senator’s Bowling Green office. A native Kentuckian, Thomas previously served in the administration of former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher as a special assistant to the secretary of the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet, handling matters including legislative initiatives for the agency, according to the ARC.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $350,000 in federal funds towards the development and implementation of a comprehensive economic development strategy for rural communities across Virginia. The funds will be awarded to planning district commissions in Accomack County, Smyth County, Russell County, Scott County, and Augusta County. The funding will be used to establish an economic development planning framework, process, and strategy that supports private capital investment and job creation in each region.

“These grant awards provide an opportunity for long-term economic planning, supporting growth and development in rural counties,” the Senators said. “These are important investments to promote job creation and draw in new business in these communities.” 

  • The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission in Accomack County will receive $70,000 for economic development planning.
  • The Mount Rogers Planning District Commission in Smyth County will receive $70,000 for economic development planning.
  • The Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission in Russell County will receive $70,000 for economic development planning.
  • The Lenowisco Planning District Commission in Scott County will receive $70,000 for economic development planning.
  • The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission in Augusta County will receive $70,000 for economic development planning.

This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s Economic Development District Planning Awards. The Trump Administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposed to eliminate funding for the Economic Development Administration. Warner and Kaine wrote to the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting that this proposal be overruled.

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Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL), Alexander Acosta, urging him to keep the Respirable Dust Rule to protect mine safety and miners health. This letter comes after the rule was included in the Unified Agenda for re-examination. 

The Senators said in part: “Given this increase in black lung disease and the devastating impact that this disease has on coal miners and their families, we believe that it is critical that we maintain this rule. Claims that the Respirable Dust Rule is unnecessary, imposes a costly burden, or provides little to no benefit to society ignore the fact that it can take up to a decade or longer for simple black lung disease to develop.

“We are also keenly aware that the rate of black lung disease fell after Congress passed the Coal Act of 1969 and that comprehensive evidence that this rule has been effective will not be fully available until 2026 at the earliest. We should not abandon our coal miners three short years after the rule went into effect.”

Read the full letter below or click here:

 

Dear Secretary Acosta, 

On December 14, 2017, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) published its fall Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan, a semiannual list of federal regulatory and deregulatory actions.  We write to express our concerns regarding the decision to list several rules under the purview of the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) for re-examination in the Unified Agenda.  These rules are meant to protect the health and safety of our nation’s coal miners.  

The Trump Administration has made clear its commitment to reducing regulatory burdens. We agree that unnecessary, outdated, or duplicative regulations should be examined for elimination or modification.  However, we believe that worker safety is of the utmost importance and we unequivocally oppose rolling back the Respirable Dust Rule (“the rule”) which is meant to protect the safety, health, and – in effect – the livelihood of our coal miners.  

In particular, the rule, which took effect in 2014, was promulgated by MSHA in an effort to reduce occupational lung diseases - namely coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP), commonly known as “black lung disease”.   Black lung disease is a common but preventable disease that has plagued coal miners in Appalachia for decades.  The impacts of black lung disease are debilitating and, in the most serious cases, fatal.  

In 2010, the Secretary of Labor, acting under the authority of the Federal Mine Safety Health Act of 1977, proposed the rule.  The rule lowers the acceptable threshold for concentrations of respirable coal mine dust with the goal of making the air that miners breathe in coal mines less toxic.  The final rule decreased the dust limits from 2.0 milligrams per cubic meter to an improved level of 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter.   

Unfortunately, recent research, most notably a report from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has indicated the prevalence of black lung in Appalachian coalfields is worse than previously thought.  Furthermore, black lung clinics in Appalachia report that younger coal miners are being diagnosed with the disease at increasing rates.   

Given this increase in black lung disease and the devastating impact that this disease has on coal miners and their families, we believe that it is critical that we maintain this rule. Claims that the Respirable Dust Rule is unnecessary, imposes a costly burden, or provides little to no benefit to society ignore the fact that it can take up to a decade or longer for simple black lung disease to develop. 

We are also keenly aware that the rate of black lung disease fell after Congress passed the Coal Act of 1969 and that comprehensive evidence that this rule has been effective will not be fully available until 2026 at the earliest. We should not abandon our coal miners three short years after the rule went into effect. 

In short, we believe in worker safety first and foremost.  MSHA’s mission is a critical one for the safety and health of our nation’s miners and the Respirable Dust Rule is vital to ensuring that MSHA succeeds in that mission.   We urge you to retain the Respirable Dust Rule and prevent the unnecessary erosion of vital mine safety and health standards.

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Warner, Kaine Announce More Than $300,000 to Help Rural Communities in SWVA Combat Opioid Epidemic

Funds will provide Virginia youth and families living in rural areas with health education to prevent opioid abuse

Nov 21 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will provide $321,638 to support health education initiatives spearheaded by the Virginia Cooperative Extension aimed at preventing opioid abuse among vulnerable communities in rural Southwest Virginia.  

“This grant will help educate young Virginians and other at-risk individuals about the growing risks of prescription drugs, which now claim as many as 60,000 lives every year,” said the Senators. “The funds will help empower rural communities in the fight against this growing health epidemic by promoting the responsible use of opioids and helping save lives.”

The grant will fund a project to target those individuals in rural Southwest Virginia who are most at risk of the negative effects of prescription opioids. Its goal is to provide prevention education for youth at a vulnerable stage in their development and their families in order to provide skills and support to make healthy decisions with drugs. The project will also target hospital patients to help make them aware of the dangers associated with use of opioid pain medications and provide access to support should they or a family member experience problems related to opioid use.

The grant is provided through NIFA’s Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grant Program, which seeks to address the needs of rural Americans through individual and family health education programs delivered via cooperative extension. The program assist relevant, evidence-based, non-formal education programs and services informed by the human, social, and behavioral sciences to promote and aggrandize rural health, strengthen economic vitality and, in the long run, mollify the effects of rural privation.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach program of Virginia's land-grant universities: Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, and a part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine expressed their concern over the House Republicans’ tax plan that would eliminate the Federal Historic Tax Credit, which communities across Virginia use to draw in new business, create jobs, and revitalize cities and towns. The Federal Historic Tax Credit, a critical component of public-private partnerships, helps to attract development projects by providing a tax credit to developers after the restoration of a qualifying historic building. Virginia has been a top recipient of this federal funding, which has been used to redevelop more than one thousand buildings across the Commonwealth since 2002, including affordable housing, office space, restaurants, hotels, retirement homes, child care centers and shopping centers. Notable projects that have used these funds include the Wayne Theatre in Waynesboro, the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, and the Bolling Wilson (George Wythe) Hotel in Wytheville.

“This tool has helped Virginia communities preserve historically significant buildings while creating quality jobs and stimulating long-term economic growth,” said Warner. “We should not be targeting this proven economic engine, which would leave many localities hanging while some companies and high income earners receive a tax break.”

“I’ve heard from mayors and local leaders across Virginia who agree it would be a short-sighted mistake to eliminate a successful program that’s strengthened local economies in every corner of the Commonwealth,” said Kaine. “We should be helping Virginia’s rural communities get ahead, but instead this cut in the Republican tax plan hurts their ability to succeed and redirects funds toward tax cuts for those at the very top.”

Between Fiscal Years 2002 and 2016, developers completed more than one thousand projects in Virginia using the Federal Historic Tax Credit. Elected officials have also voiced concern that eliminating this credit may impact the completion of buildings that are part of existing projects, which localities have already invested in.

The Senate version of the Republican tax plan similarly aims to limit the Federal Historic Tax Credit. Warner, a member of the Senate Finance Committee that is debating the Republican plan this week, has cosponsored a measure that would amend the legislation to protect and expand this tax tool.

Below is a list highlighting some of these notable projects throughout Virginia. For a more comprehensive list please click here

City

Original Name

Address

Year

Use

Current Use

Bristol

Bristol Warehouse Company

221 Moore St

2016

Commercial

Studio Brew

Bristol

Bristol Building Supply Company Building

220 Lee Street

2012

Office

Bristol School Board Offices

Buena Vista

Peoples Bank Of Buena Vista

128 21St Street

2010

Library

Bank

Charlottesville

The Paramount Theater

215 East Main Street

2005

Other

The Paramount Theater

Danville

John W. Ferrell & Company Furniture Store

533-535 Main Street

2012

Multi-Use

Retail

Danville

North Theater

629 North Main Street

2005

Housing

The Historic North Theatre Performing Arcts Center

Danville

Continental Tobacco Company

610 Craghead St

2015

Housing

The Continental Lofts complex

Galax

Ye Ole Galax Post Office

201 N. Main

2003

Restaurant

Macado's

Harrisonburg

Cassco Ice House

217 S. Liberty Street

2015

Commercial

Harrisonburg Ice House

Hillsville

Nuckolls Drug Store

510 North Main Street

2008

Other

Pizza Perfect On Main

Lexington

McCampbell Inn

11 N Main St

2015

Multi-Use

The Georges Inn

Lynchburg

Craddock Terry Shoe Corp. Southland

1326-1328 Commerce Street

2007

Hotel

Craddock Terry Hotel

Marion

Marion High School Building

203 N Church St

2015

Theater

Wayne C. Henderson School for the Arts

Marion

Lincoln Theatre

117 E. Main Street

2006

Hotel

General Francis Marion Hotel

Norfolk

Portlock Building

241 Granby Street

2003

Multi-Use

Brick Anchor Brew-House

Richmond

Maggie L. Walker High School

1000 N. Lombardy Street

2002

School

Maggie Walker School

Richmond

Lady Byrd Hat Company Building

140 Virginia Street

2009

Multi-Use

Retail

Roanoke

Patrick Henry Hotel

617 South Jefferson Street

2011

Multi-Use

The Patrick Henry Ballroom & Conference Center

Roanoke

Jefferson Center Auditorium

550 West Campbell Avenue

2001

Theater

Jefferson Center

Roanoke

Burrell Memorial Hospital

611 Mcdowell Avenue SW

2004

Multi-Use

Blueridge Behavioral Healthcare

South Boston

Taylor Tobacco Prizery

340 Ferry Street

2009

Housing

Taylor Lofts Apartments

South Boston

The Prizery-R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Warehouse

900 Bruce Street (Previously 716 Seymour Drive)

2005

Theater

Performing arts venue called the Prizery

Staunton

Stonewall Jackson Hotel And The Blackfriars Playhouse

24 S. Market Street

2006

Hotel

Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center

Waynesboro

Wayne Theatre

521 W Main St

2016

Theater

Wayne Theatre - Ross Performing Arts Center

Winchester

The Old Star Building

29-31 33-35 East Boscawen Street

2013

Multi-Use

Commercial/Office space and apartments

Wytheville

George Wythe Hotel

170 East Main Street

2015

Hotel

Bolling Wilson Hotel

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $115,700 in Economic Impact Initiative Grants from the United States Department of Agriculture towards the purchase of police vehicles, public works vehicles, and equipment for rural communities in the towns of Orange, Pound, Pulaski, Weber City, Wise, and Page County.

“We are pleased to announce funding for these communities to upgrade and improve public safety equipment,” the Senators said. “This funding will help ensure that our first responders in these communities have the resources they need to keep Virginians safe.”

The following localities will receive funding through the USDA:

·         The Town of Orange will receive $25,000 towards the purchase of three police vehicles and equipment.

·         The Town of Pound will receive $25,000 towards the purchase of one police vehicle, one public works vehicle and equipment.

·         The Town of Pulaski will receive $25,000 towards the purchase of two police vehicles and equipment.

·         The Town of Weber City will receive $25,000 towards the purchase of one police vehicle and equipment.

·         The Town of Wise will receive $5,200 towards the purchase of one police vehicle and equipment.

·         Page County will receive $10,500 towards the purchase of two police vehicles and equipment.

The USDA’s Economic Impact Initiative Grant program provides funding for rural communities facing high unemployment and economic challenges. Funding awarded through this program seeks to improve community facilities that are used for health care, public safety, and public service.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R.  Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a bipartisan coalition of 16 Senators to introduce the Sugar Policy Modernization Act, which will make commonsense reforms to the federal sugar support program that will save money for a variety of manufacturers that support jobs in Virginia and across the nation. 

The Sugar Policy Modernization Act would repeal domestic supply restrictions, reduce market distortions caused by sugar import quotas, and ensure taxpayers don’t foot the bill for bailouts of the sugar industry. The Sugar Policy Modernization Act has a broad coalition of support from consumer, business and environmental groups. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Virginia is home to the U.S. headquarters of both Mars and Nestle and has manufacturing and distribution facilities across the state – such as the McKee Foods plant in Stuarts Draft, Nestle packaging plant in Danville, Purina pet food plant in King William County, Frito-Lay plant in Lynchburg, Gatorade bottling facility in Wytheville, Sabra plant in Colonial Heights, and others – comprising thousands of jobs in industries whose growth is determined in part by sugar prices.

“This bill would make reasonable, commonsense reforms to federal sugar policies that artificially raise costs for consumers and American taxpayers,” said Sen. Warner. “These changes will save taxpayers money and protect thousands of manufacturing jobs in Virginia.”

“Senators from the right, left, and everywhere in between support this bill because it’s good for the economy,” said Sen. Kaine. “Manufacturing is driven by a variety of input costs, and this is an opportunity to reduce one of those costs, which is not only good policy generally but will also make Virginia even more competitive in attracting these manufacturing plants and the jobs that go with them.”

Sugar is the only commodity whose federal support program was not reformed by the most recent five-year reauthorization of agricultural programs in 2014.

The Sugar Policy Modernization Act would repeal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sugar marketing allotments, which restrict the amount of sugar each domestic processing company can sell. No other U.S. commodity is under similar government supply controls. The bill would also repeal a program that requires the government to buy surplus sugar and sell it to ethanol companies at a loss.

The legislation would also direct the Secretary of Agriculture to manage the nation’s sugar program to ensure sugar is distributed in adequate amounts and reasonable prices, and it would repeal laws that arbitrarily restrict USDA’s authority to administer import quotas during certain times of the year. This bill would also express that it is the sense of Congress that U.S. trade policy goals should include elimination of sugar subsidies and pursuit of trade agreements that liberalize sugar trade. 

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the bill is sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Ed Markey (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $500,000 in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, Inc., in partnership with the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, to build a community service and senior facility at the Falls Mills Elementary School site.

 “We are pleased to announce this important investment that will help build a facility to support seniors in Southwest Virginia,” the Senators said. “This facility will provide care for the elderly in Tazewell and lessen the burden on their families who care for them.”

The community service and senior facility will provide adult day care, serve nutritional meals to meet the needs of seniors, provide assistance with supplemental nutrition assistance program applications, and help with health care enrollment and options counseling.

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. President Trump’s budget proposes eliminating the program entirely. 

In June, Warner and Kaine joined a group of six other U.S. Senators urging Senate appropriators to fully fund the Appalachian Regional Commission in 2018 at $152 million, and reject the Trump Administration’s proposal to end the state-federal partnership. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) in introducing the bipartisan American Miners Pension Act (AMP Act).

Currently, the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan is on the road to insolvency. The American Miners Pension Act will shore up the 1974 UMWA Pension Plan to make sure that nearly 87,000 retired miners receiving pensions, as well as another 20,000 who are vested, won’t lose the pensions they have paid into for decades. In Virginia alone, there are more than 7,300 pensioners who are at risk.  

“Congress made a promise in 1946 to protect coal miners after a lifetime of arduous and dangerous work to help power this nation,” said Sen. Warner. “Earlier this year, we fulfilled part of that promise by making sure healthcare benefits for them and their widows were protected. We need to finish the deal and pass this bipartisan legislation that will ensure retired coal miners in Virginia and across the country get to keep their hard-earned pensions.”

“I am proud to join Senator Warner and our colleagues in introducing this bill to support Virginia’s retired miners who have undoubtedly earned their pensions through difficult and dangerous work,” said Sen. Kaine. “When I met with Castlewood miners a few months ago I reassured them I’d fight for their health care and I’d fight for their pensions. Now that we have secured a permanent health care fix, passage of this legislation would give our miners the peace of mind to know they are protected and their pensions are secure, allowing them to retire with confidence.”

The AMP Act would: 

  • Uses the provision from the Miners Protection Act to allow transfers of excess funds in the Abandoned Mine Land program to the 1974 UMWA pension plan.
  • Direct the Treasury Department to loan the Pension Plan funds annually.
  • Cap the annual loan amount at $600 million and set the interest rate at 1%.
  • Require the fund to pay interest for the first 10 years and then pay back the principal plus interest over a 30-year term.
  • Require the fund to certify each year that the pension plan is solvent and able to pay back the principal and interest.

In May, part of legislation introduced by Sens. Warner & Kaine was passed by Congress as part of a government spending bill which secured healthcare benefits for 22,600 of our nation’s miners.

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WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that Southwest Virginia will receive a total of $2,524,817 in federal funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to improve infrastructure and promote economic development.  

“The Appalachian Regional Commission is an engine for economic development in Southwest Virginia and these grants show the important role it plays in helping revitalize the region,” the Senators said.“These funds will support needed improvements to critical infrastructure and create jobs that will increase economic opportunities for these communities.”

Project descriptions and grant amounts are listed below:

  • William King Museum of Art (Abingdon, Va.) $500,000. This grant will help the William King Museum of Art will help fund Phase 1 of a larger cultural campus expansion project. The funds will go towards access improvements, additional parking and renovating a currently vacant facility that will become the new Center for Studio Art and Education. With the improvements at the campus, 10 artisans will take up residency at the facility, 2 jobs will be created and 2,500 new visitors are anticipated. In addition to ARC funds, local sources will provide $657,000, bringing the total project funding to $1,157,000. 
  • Southwest Virginia Early Childhood Workforce Development (Abington, Va.) $99,933. This grant will help United Way of Southwest Virginia assist 70 workers obtain child care credentials and improve child development services for 20 existing businesses in a 13-county area. In addition, the grantee will provide training and other assistance to individuals who wish to establish their own childcare programs in underserved areas, resulting in 10 new enterprises capable of serving 120 children. In addition to ARC funds, local sources will provide $61,783 in matching funds. 
  • Project Discovery Program (Abingdon, Va.) - $75,844. This grant will help People Incorporated of Virginia expand its academic advancement and college attendance program to serve more low-income, first-generation college-bound high school students. The project will provide assistance to 60 students with college readiness skills and financial opportunities. The project will serve Dickenson, Buchanan, Russell, and Washington Counties. In additional to ARC funds, local sources will provide $39,391, bringing the total project funding to $113,235.
  • Frog Level Phase II Water Project (Lee County) - $500,000. This grant will help provide reliable public water supply to Lee County as well as support economic development for the newly-established school of veterinary medicine. In addition to ARC funds, state sources will provide $948,680, and local sources will provide $108,652, bringing the total project funding to $1,557,332.
  • Cool & Connected Pennington Gap Project (Pennington Gap, Va.- $7,500. This grant will help the city of Pennington Gap fund the renovation of space and the creation of a community computer center at the basement of the Lee Theatre, purchase computer equipment, and provide Wi-Fi access in Leeman’s field. In addition to ARC funds, Sunset Digital Communications will provide $4,000, bringing the total project funding to $11,500.
  • Cool & Connected Jonesville Project (Jonesville, Va.) - $7,500. This grant will help fund the renovation of a community computer center in Jonesville, Virginia at an existing town-owned building located in the town’s Cumberland Bowl Park. The minor renovations will include computer equipment and Wi-Fi access at the park. In addition to ARC funds, Sunset Digital Communications will provide $4,000, bringing the total project funding to $11,500.
  • Tacoma Sewer Project (Wise County) $500,000. The grant will help the Wise County Public Service Authority begin a project that will provide public sewer collection to a previously unserved community of 48 households and two businesses, and eliminate public and environmental health concerns related to improperly disposed raw sewage. In addition to ARC funds, state sources will provide $750,000, and local sources will provide $155,901, bringing the total project funding to $1,405,901.
  • Lyric Theater Project (St. Paul, Va.) - $300,000. This grant will help the Town of St. Paul renovate and stabilize the interior and exterior of the Lyric Theater to stabilize the building. The renovation will equip the building to hold conferences, events and performing arts for visitor and tourists. The facility will be affiliated with The Crooked Road Music Heritage Trail. In addition to ARC funds, local sources will provide $135,000, bringing the total project funding to $435,000. 
  • Spearhead Trails in SW Virginia Project (Coeburn, Va.) - $92,300. This grant will help the Southwest Regional Recreation Authority (SRRA) to fund a study that will examine existing and potential economic benefits of the Spearhead Trails on the surrounding region, identify priorities for future development, and help SRRA develop a sustainable organizational model. SRRA was chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2008 to support outdoor recreation and tourism investment in the Coalfields of Southwest Virginia. In addition to ARC funds, state sources will provide $30,000 and local sources will provide $7,700, bringing the total project funding to $130,000.
  • Donnkenny, Breaks and Tivis Pump Stations Replacement Project (Dickenson County) - $441,740. This grant will help replace three deteriorating below-ground pump stations with above-ground facilities that meet current design standards. The new pump stations will provide water to 571 households and 10 businesses in distressed communities, as well as to nine tourism-related businesses in the Breaks Interstate Park, and will ensure that reliable infrastructure is in place to support future economic development, particularly that which is related to tourism. In addition to ARC funds, state sources will provide $150,000, and local sources will provide an additional $102,260, bringing the total project funding to $694,000.

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. President Trump’s budget proposes eliminating the program entirely.

In June, Warner and Kaine joined a group of six other U.S. Senators urging Senate appropriators to fully fund the Appalachian Regional Commission in 2018 at $152 million, and reject the Trump Administration’s proposal to end the state-federal partnership.

 

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WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that four Virginia airports will receive a total of $8,457,339 in federal funding from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve and enhance airport infrastructure.

“Virginia airports face growing demands in ensuring travelers have access to high quality facilities,” the Senators said. “This federal funding will help our local airports improve their conditions and maintain critical infrastructure so travelers can feel confident in the safety of their airports.”

Airports and project amounts are listed below:

  • Warrenton-Fauquier Airport - $3,765,800. This grant will help fund the construction of a 20,000 square yard apron to accommodate the increased use of the general aviation facilities and a 1,600 foot access road to provide access to the new mid-field apron. 
  • Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional/Woodrum Field Airport - $3,080,553. This grant will fund seal coat rehabilitation of two runways to maintain the structural integrity of the pavement and to minimize foreign object debris, and the installation of a canopy over the passenger walkway. 
  • Farmville Regional Airport - $1,310,986. This grant will help reconstruct 12,000 square yards of the existing terminal apron pavement that has reached the end of its useful life.
  • Orange County Airport - $300,000. This grant will help fund crack seal rehabilitation for existing taxiway pavements and terminal aprons that have reached the end of their useful life.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,081,958 in federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funding for the Floyd County Economic Development Authority to construct a new access road for the Floyd Regional Commerce Center. The funding, which leverages $30 million in private investment—will fund approximately 0.21 miles of access road, an industrial cul-de-sac, as well as pedestrian and bike path to facilitate Floyd County’s development of the Floyd Regional Commerce Center. The Floyd County Economic Development Authority estimates that completion of the Commerce Center would promote economic development with the potential to support more than 100 new jobs in the region. 

“The Appalachian Regional Commission has supported communities in Appalachia since its formation and we are proud to advocate for the program in the Senate and announce funding for projects like this that expand economic development and opportunity in the region,” the Senators said. “This funding will allow Floyd County to improve its access to the Regional Commerce Center and spur further opportunities for growth in the area. We hope that projects like this, and the impact they have in Southwest Virginia, will encourage President Trump and House Republicans to rethink their choice to end ARC in their 2018 budget proposals. ”

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated over 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. President Trump’s budget proposes eliminating the program entirely.

In June, Warner and Kaine joined a group of six other U.S. Senators urging Senate appropriators to fully fund the Appalachian Regional Commission in 2018 at $152 million and reject the Trump Administration’s proposal to end the state-federal partnership.

The project will be administered through the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,357,959 in federal funding for nine Virginia fire departments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The funding for nine fire departments in Concord, Chilhowie, Fairfax, Gasburg, Glade Spring, Kenbridge, Lovingston, Newport News, and Norton will be awarded through FEMA’s Assistant to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.

“This federal funding will provide fire departments with critical support to enhance training operations and purchase life-saving equipment that will help keep Virginians safe,” the Senators said.

The following Virginia fire departments will receive funding under the AFG program:

  • The Concord Volunteer Fire Department will receive $64,762 to purchase vehicle extrication equipment;
  • The Town of Chilhowie Fire & EMS Department will receive $60, 313 to purchase portable and mobile radios;
  • The City of Fairfax Fire Department will receive $136, 182 to support training operations for firefighters;
  • The Gasburg Volunteer Fire Department will receive $46,116 to purchase an air compressor and fill station equipment;
  • The Glade Spring Volunteer Fire Department will receive $38,096 to purchase an air compressor and fill station equipment.
  • The Kenbridge Fire Department will receive $54,739 to update its source capture exhaust system technology;
  • The Lovingston Volunteer Fire Department will receive $142,381 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment;
  • The City of Newport News Fire Department will receive $404,600 to purchase power lift cots and stretchers and;
  • The City of Norton Fire Department will receive $320,358 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment and face pieces.

The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations and State Fire Training Academies for critically-needed resources. 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced today that nine Virginia airports will receive $18,826,746 in funds from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help enhance new and existing infrastructure. The airports receiving funding serve the following Virginia counties: Accomack, Brunswick, Campbell, Franklin, Frederick, Hanover, Mecklenburg, Suffolk, Washington, and Wise.

“This funding is essential to help Virginia’s airports make necessary upgrades to infrastructure,” said the Senators. “These grants will help our local airports improve travel and plan for future operations and growth.”

Airports and grant amounts are listed below:

  • Virginia Highlands Airport (Washington County) - $5,924,328. This grant will help construct a 1,029 foot runway extension to allow Runway 06/24 to meet the operational needs of the airport, specifically funding drainage improvements necessary to adequately handle storm water runoff associated with the extension of Runway 06/24.
  • Suffolk Executive Airport - $3,756,000.This grant will fund the rehabilitation of the runway’s lighting.
  • Hanover County Municipal Airport - $2,773,436. This grant will help construct a 29,200 square yard apron on the east side of the airport. The new apron will increase parking capacity for transient and based aircraft.
  • Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional Airport- $2,666,151. This grant will fund the rehabilitation of 1,200 feet of the existing t-hangar taxiway pavement that requires rehabilitation to ensure safe airfield operations and the rehabilitation of 8,000 square yards of the existing terminal apron to maintain the structural integrity of the pavement.
  • Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport - $1,736,100. This grant will help fund a 1,250 foot extension of the parallel taxiway and an additional 570 feet for the connector taxiways. This project will enhance safety by eliminating the need for aircraft to back-taxi on the runway.
  • Lynchburg Regional Airport - $1,111,500.00. This grant will fund the partial rehabilitation of the current Taxiway B and Taxiway G lighting system that has reached the end of its useful life and requires rehabilitation to enhance safe airfield operations during low visibility conditions.
  • Accomack County Airport - $376,131. This grant will help fund the rehabilitation of 5,000 feet of Runway 3/21 to maintain the structural integrity of the pavement and to minimize foreign object debris and will fund the rehabilitation of the current Runway 3/21 lighting system that has reached the end of its useful life and requires rehabilitation to meet FAA standards.
  • Winchester Regional Airport - $316,600.This grant will help fund the relocation of 5,500 feet of Taxiway A to assist the airport in meeting design standards, will provide funding for the acquisition of 0.52 acres of land adjacent to the existing airport property, will fund the removal of tree obstructions in the Runway 14 approach surface, and will provide funding for the removal of 6 acres of tree obstructions.
  • Lonesome Pine Airport (Wise County) - $166,500. This grant will fund an update to the existing airport master plan study to show current and future needs of the airport.

This funding was granted through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), a program that provides grants for the planning and development of public-use airports that are significant to national air transportation.

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