Press Releases

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,000,000 in federal funding for the Appalachian Veterinary Expansion project. The funding will be used to support construction of a new Veterinary Education and Technology (VET) building at Lincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine’s (LMU-CVM) DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center Campus (DVTC) in Ewing. The project will also increase the number of students in the region and attract new sources of investment in the Cumberland Gap region.

“We’re glad this federal funding will be used for the construction of a new building at the DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center Campus,” said the Senators. “This investment will help train more aspiring veterinarians and spur economic growth in Lee County and the surrounding region.”

LMU-CVM welcomed its inaugural class in 2014 and is the first veterinary school dedicated to serving Appalachia. In August 2014, Kaine visited LMU-CVM's campus to tour the facilities and learn about the school’s programs.

The funding was awarded through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, which provides federal resources to help create jobs in existing or new industries for communities affected by job losses in the coal industry. The Appalachian Veterinary Expansion project also received a $2 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

###

WASHINGTON - Today, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI), and Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act to ensure that Vladimir Putin and Russian elites don't use digital assets to undermine the international community’s economic sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The senators’ bill comes amid bipartisan concerns and warnings by federal agencies that Russian actors may try to evade economic sanctions by using digital currencies. Countries hit hard by sanctions, including North Korea and Iran, have been previously found to use cryptocurrency to curb the effects of economic sanctions. This legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tina Smith (D-MN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

“In order for the sanctions levied by the United States and our allies to have the maximum impact on Vladimir Putin and his oligarch friends, we must close off avenues they might use to evade those sanctions. This legislation will crack down on foreign actors who help sanctioned Russians use digital assets like cryptocurrencies to circumvent the crippling measures we’ve put in place to punish Russia for its barbaric invasion of Ukraine,” said Sen. Warner.

“Putin and his cronies can move, store, and hide their wealth using cryptocurrencies, potentially allowing them to evade the historic economic sanctions the U.S. and its partners across the world have levied in response to Russia’s war against Ukraine. I'm glad to introduce the Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act with my colleagues to strengthen our sanctions program and close off any avenues for Russian evasion,” said Sen. Warren. 

“The U.S. and its allies have imposed some of the strongest sanctions in history to try to stop Putin and his cronies from waging war on Ukraine.  A sanctions system without strong authorities to limit evasion using digital assets is like having a security system but leaving the front door open.  This bill would clarify Treasury’s authorities and strengthen our sanctions on Putin and his enablers,” said Sen. Reed.

 “Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine is a threat to democracies everywhere, and if we are going to hold him and his cronies accountable, we have to be sure they aren’t using digital tools to evade sanctions,” said Sen. Tester. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation that will make sure we isolate Putin and sends a message to America’s adversaries that folks who threaten freedom and democracy around the world cannot hide from the consequences of their actions.”

“We’ve imposed devastating sanctions on Russia, and we must ensure that there aren’t any loopholes that would allow Putin and his oligarchs to evade them,” said Sen. Cortez Masto. “This legislation gives the U.S. the tools it needs to crack down on any entity using cryptocurrency to trade with sanctioned banks or individuals. We must do all we can to completely isolate Putin, and that includes strengthening the enforcement mechanisms in all of our economic measures.” 

“Digital currencies can offer the Russian government and wealthy oligarchs an opportunity to evade the sanctions that President Biden has enacted on Russia as Putin continues to wage his unprovoked and inexcusable war of choice against Ukraine,” said Sen. Duckworth. “The United States can do more to ensure Putin and his cronies feel the full weight of the free world’s sanctions, which is one reason I’m proud to help introduce this legislation with Senator Warren to crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges that engage with Russian entities.”

“Russia must be held accountable for its cold-blooded, unprovoked attack on Ukraine. We’ve seen how economic sanctions can deliverer a major blow to the Russian economy, but we must do everything in our power to prevent Putin and his corrupt cronies from circumventing these sanctions using cryptocurrencies. This legislation provides the necessary tools to monitor and shut down any such loopholes,” said Sen. Van Hollen.

The Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act would combat the risk of Russian actors from using digital assets to evade international sanctions by discouraging foreign crypto firms from doing business with sanctioned Russian elites, providing the Administration with authority to suspend transactions with Russia-linked crypto addresses, and increasing transparency around crypto holdings. 

Specifically, the Digital Asset Sanctions Compliance Enhancement Act would close potential avenues for evasion of sanctions against Russia by:

  • Requiring the President to identify foreign digital asset actors that are facilitating evasion of sanctions against Russia, and authorizing the President to sanction such actors, prohibiting their transactions with U.S. persons and blocking their assets. 
  •  Providing the Treasury Secretary clear authority to prohibit digital asset trading platforms and transaction facilitators under U.S. jurisdiction from transacting with cryptocurrency addresses that are known to be, or could reasonably be known to be, in Russia.
  • Directing FinCEN to require U.S. taxpayers engaged in a transaction with a value greater than $10K of cryptocurrency offshore to file FinCEN Form 114 (FBAR).
  • Requiring the Treasury Department to report on its progress in implementing these provisions, including any resources needed by the Department to improve implementation and progress in coordinating with foreign partners.
  • Requiring the Treasury Department to issue a public report identifying foreign digital asset trading platforms that are determined to be high risk for sanctions evasion, money laundering, or other illicit activities.

Earlier this month, Sens. Warren, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chairman Sherrod Brown, and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed led a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raising concerns regarding the potential use of cryptocurrency to evade sanctions, which have become even more urgent amid the sanctions imposed on Russia after their invasion of Ukraine. 

 

###

 

WASHINGTON – Co-chairs of Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), commended the inclusion of $3.5 billion for Alzheimer’s and related dementia research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus spending bill. This funding is a $289 million increase over the previous year’s appropriations, and above the funding level that the NIH estimates–pursuant to Senator Markey’s Alzheimer’s Accountability Act– it will need to effectively treat or prevent Alzheimer’s by 2025. Currently, more than 6.25 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2060, that number is expected to double.

  “I am proud to co-chair the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, which has been instrumental in increasing the awareness of and advancing research in Alzheimer’s,” said Senator Warner. “In 2010 I lost my mother to Alzheimer's after her 10-year battle with the illness. I saw firsthand the challenges of this terrible disease. That is one reason why I am committed to supporting clinical and medical research into Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses. Investments like this $3.5 billion are crucial to better understanding, treating and ultimately curing Alzheimer’s disease.”

“As a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease, I have long championed increased investments for Alzheimer’s research, which hold great promise for putting an end to this disease that has a devastating effect on millions of Americans and their families,” said Senator Collins. “We have made tremendous progress in recent years to boost funding for biomedical research, and this legislation builds on that momentum. I am encouraged by the bipartisan commitment to reaching the national goal of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s by the year 2025.”

 “Consistent and robust investment in medical and clinical research for Alzheimer’s disease puts us on the path to defeating this devastating disease,” said Senator Markey. “Since my mother passed from Alzheimer’s in 1998 and I co-founded the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s disease, I have worked on a bipartisan basis alongside Alzheimer’s patients advocates, and caregivers to push for increased funding for Alzheimer’s research.  I am proud these efforts have successfully brought billions of federal research dollars to this disease. This year’s funding increase is another positive example of the work that must continue until we effectively prevent, treat, or cure Alzheimer’s disease.”

A copy of the Senators’ letter requesting the funding can be found here.

In Fiscal Year 2021, the Senators helped to secure $3.2 billion for Alzheimer’s and related dementia research at NIH.

 

###

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to Congress:

“I was incredibly moved by President Zelenskyy’s words this morning and by the powerful images of the destruction inflicted on the Ukrainian people as a result of Russia’s indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets. As President Zelenskyy noted, the U.S. has already taken unprecedented steps to rally the world to isolate Russia economically and to support Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself. We should heed President Zelenskyy’s call for additional defensive aid including anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles and for new sanctions on those responsible for supporting the Russian government’s barbaric invasion of a peaceful and sovereign neighbor.”

###

 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the statement below after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a new report with recommendations to realign and modernize the VA health care system nationwide:

“For years, I’ve pushed to make sure that Virginia’s veterans have access to quality and timely health care that they have earned through years of service to our country. I’m pleased to see the Department of Veterans Affairs issue these critical recommendations as a preliminary but notable step in meeting its obligations under the VA MISSION Act of 2018 – legislation I was proud to support. I look forward to engaging with veterans and communities around Virginia to make sure that these recommendations would live up to their stated aim of effectively meeting the future health care demands of our growing veteran population here in the Commonwealth.”

These recommendations come as a result of a nationwide analysis commissioned by Warner-supported legislation to determine whether health facilities are best aligned to meet the future needs and demands of the veteran population.  The Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) report includes the findings of a multi-year, nationwide review that evaluates a number of factors in the VA health care system, including facility quality, and geographic distribution relative to veteran population.

Among others, the report recommends constructing new VA Medical Centers (VAMC) in Newport News, Norfolk, and Roanoke, as well as relocating certain services to more modern and conveniently located facilities for veterans, and establishing new community-based outpatient clinics in places like Bedford, Mechanicsville, Petersburg, and Chesterfield. These recommendations seek to increase VA capacity, and expand access to a variety of services as needed, including primary care, residential rehabilitation treatment programs, community living centers, outpatient mental health, and outpatient surgical and specialty care services.

Over the next year, the bipartisan, presidentially appointed and congressionally approved AIR Commission will review those recommendations. During this time, stakeholders, veterans, and members of the community will have an opportunity to evaluate the report and submit any feedback to the commission, which will hold public hearings, visit VA facilities, meet with employees and VA partners, and listen to veterans in order to assess the recommendations before submitting them, along with any necessary changes, to President Biden. If the President ultimately signs off on the final recommendations, Congress will have 45 days to reject or accept the entire slate of recommendations.

During his time in the Senate, Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for improving care for Virginia’s veterans. In 2015, confronted with wait times in Hampton Roads that were three times the national average, Sen. Warner successfully urged the VA to send down a team of experts to address the problem. He also succeeded in getting the Northern Virginia Technology Council to issue a free report detailing how to reduce wait times. Most recently, in October 2020, Sen. Warner successfully saw through the signing of his legislation to expand veterans’ access to mental health services and reduce the alarming rate of veteran suicide. He’s also previously met with senior leadership at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center and Hampton VA Medical Center to discuss wait time reduction at their facilities and suicide prevention efforts. 

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Bob Menedez (D-NJ), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and a bipartisan, bicameral group of colleagues in a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig urging the IRS to provide much needed relief as the agency struggles to address customer service and processing issues. The IRS’s lack of action is causing unnecessary confusion, as the current tax filing season is underway.

“We remain concerned that the IRS does not have a comprehensive plan to remedy the numerous problems affecting taxpayers, despite the fact that this filing season is already well underway,” the lawmakers wrote. “For example, there is continued confusion about which notices may be unilaterally suspended by the IRS, beyond the notices the IRS has already suspended, among other issues.”

In the letter, the lawmakers requested the IRS specifically address which notices are statutorily required to be issued within a specific time, and explain why there are still certain notices that have not yet been suspended.

This letter is supported by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), Padgett Business Services, National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), National Society of Accountants (NSA), National Conference of CPA Practitioners (NCCPAP), National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. (NABA), Latino Tax Pro, Diverse Organization of Firms Advocacy Committee , National Society of Black Certified Public Accountants (NSBCPA), Prosperity Now, and National Society of Tax Professionals (NSTP).

Sen. Warner first raised concerns over the IRS backlog in January, calling on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commissioner Rettig to quickly address reports of unprocessed tax returns for the 2020 filing season. Later that month, Sens. Warner and Kaine called on the IRS to provide relief for taxpayers amidst the backlog. Last month, Sen. Warner continued his push to reduce delays, joining colleagues in another letter to Commissioner Rettig urging for immediate action to be taken to reduce backlogs and improve customer service during the 2022 filing season. Additionally, in a February Senate Finance Committee hearing, Sen. Warner questioned IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins about the IRS backlogs and about the measures being taken to address the situation.

In addition to Sens. Warner, Kaine, Menendez and Cassidy, the Senate letter was signed by Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (R-OK), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tim Scott (R-SC), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Todd Young (R-IN).

A copy of the Senate version of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Commissioner Rettig,

We appreciate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)’s ongoing efforts to eliminate the unprecedented backlog at the IRS. We remain concerned that the IRS does not have a comprehensive plan to remedy the numerous problems affecting taxpayers, despite the fact that this filing season is already well underway. For example, there is continued confusion about which notices may be unilaterally suspended by the IRS, beyond the notices the IRS h as already suspended, among other issues.

Given that the IRS has not provided us with any additional information since your last correspondence dated February 8, 2022, we ask for responses to the following questions, no later than the close of business on Monday, March 14, 2022:

1. Which remaining unsuspended notices does the IRS have the authority to suspend? Please explain why the IRS has left these remaining notices unsuspended.
 
2. Is the IRS in the process of working to suspend additional notices? If so, when will that work be completed?
 

3. Which notices are statutorily required to be issued within a specific time? Would the IRS suspend these statutory notices if the IRS had the legal authority to do so?
 
4. Explain why the IRS has not suspended notice CP2000, Notice of Underreported Income? 
 
5. Notwithstanding the publication of Notice 2021-39, widespread controversy surrounding Schedules K-2 and K-3 remains, including recent additional instructions, the inability to electronically file, and lingering uncertainty surrounding many requirements. As such, is the IRS contemplating relief, such as delaying implementation to 2023?
 
6. In early February, the IRS advised Congress that it was considering a systemic process to identify pending penalty abatement requests, and likewise evaluating penalty relief options. Has the IRS determined if it can provide penalty relief for taxpayers as previously offered by the IRS for the 2020 and 2021 tax year? If not, why not?

Thank you for your continued attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine issued the following statement to mark the one-year anniversary of President Biden signing the American Rescue Plan (ARP)—COVID-19 relief legislation they helped pass into law:

“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we’re on our way toward a comeback after COVID-19. Virginians in every community experienced firsthand the benefits of this legislation, from direct payments for families and easier vaccine access, to support for schools and child care centers. We wouldn’t be where we are today without these investments, and we’re going to keep working to build on the progress we’ve made over the last year.”

ARP was first introduced in the Senate in March 2021, and was ultimately passed by 50 Democratic Senators and a tiebreaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris. The legislation funneled critical resources to communities throughout Virginia to help the economy recover after the pandemic. When ARP passed, the unemployment rate was 6 percent. Since then, it has dropped to 3.8 percent.

Investments the legislation made in Virginia priorities include:

Assistance for Virginia households:

  • The bill provided advanced expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments – tax cuts for parents – that benefited 1.6 million Virginia children, including more than 200,000 children living below the poverty line. The vast majority of families in Virginia received $3,000 per child ages 6-17 years old and $3,600 per child under 6 as a result of the increased 2021 Child Tax Credit.
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) payments for childless workers boosted earnings for more than 400,000 Virginia workers. The ARP nearly tripled the EITC to roughly $1,500 for workers without children.
  • The legislation also included additional funding for emergency rent and utility relief—which has now provided over $500 million to help keep Virginia families in their homes and keep utilities from being shut off during the pandemic.

Child care: Virginia received $488 million to help child care providers stay open and ensure families have access to affordable child care options so they can return to work. The expanded Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit has provided working Virginia parents with relief from the high cost of child care. Virginia families with incomes below $125,000 will get back up to half of what they spent on child care in 2021 while working or studying—saving up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children under age 13. Families earning up to $438,000 will get a partial credit. 

 

State, local, and tribal aid: The legislation provided $7.2 billion for state and local aid for Virginia. This funding helped Virginia continue to take public health measures and address the negative economic effects of COVID while also including more flexibility to help local Virginia governments experiencing revenue shortfalls prevent budget cuts. Some examples of how Virginia communities are putting this funding to use include:

  • $250 million for ventilation improvements in public school facilities to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission and support safe schools across Virginia.
  • $700 million for broadband deployment across Virginia, which will result in universal broadband coverage in the Commonwealth by 2024, four years earlier than predicted.
  • $8.6 million to help Frederick County participate in a regional project to develop fiber-to-the-home broadband service. This put broadband within reach for roughly 42,700 previously unserved locations in the region.
  • $3.7 million for Virginia Beach to provide 65 emergency rental vouchers to help households at high risk of housing instability afford rent. The program will expand on the 35 vouchers previously awarded to the city through federal programs.
  • $1 million for Prince William County to support the costs associated with the COVID-19 emergency response program, including community vaccination efforts.
  • $600,000 for Albemarle County to provide emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing to individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • $570,000 for Danville to provide utility assistance to 1,300 households that were financially impacted by the pandemic. This assistance aims to prevent residents from being displaced due to unpaid utility costs.
  • $560,000 for Alexandria to use for workforce development programs. These programs incorporated work-based learning, vocation-based English for Speakers of Other Languages (V-ESOL) training, digital literacy and equity for employment, and included access to supportive services. Participants will earn as they learn, and hosting companies will receive support and a chance to assess a good fit before making a hiring decision on a prospective employee.

Health care provider mental health: The bill included over $100 million, including over $5 million for Virginia, to boost mental health support for front line health workers. This funding was modeled after the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, legislation Kaine sponsored in honor of a physician from Charlottesville, Virginia, who died by suicide after working on the frontlines of the pandemic in New York. The Breen Act subsequently passed the Senate in February 2022.

Higher education: Virginia received over $948 million for 120 colleges and universities, including $297 million for community colleges due to the American Rescue Plan—much of which will provide financial relief to students. For a more in depth breakdown of Virginia higher education funding, including funding for community colleges, HBCUs, and MSIs, click here.

Expanding health care access: The legislation included a two-year authorization of provisions from Kaine’s Medicare-X Choice Act to help low- and middle-income Americans pay their health care premiums by providing a larger tax premium subsidy for Americans living below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and expanding tax credit eligibility to families above 400% of the FPL. Kaine continues to advocate for the passage of his legislation to make those changes permanent. In Virginia, over 307,000 people are now seeing reduced health care costs through the Health Insurance Marketplace, a 18% increase since the American Rescue Plan passed.

 

###

 

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) applauded the Senate’s passage of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (IAA) as part of the omnibus spending bill. The House of Representatives passed the legislation earlier this week. The IAA authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community.

“The Intelligence Authorization Act ensures that the men and women of our Intelligence Community have the resources, personnel and authorities they need to keep our country safe while operating under vigorous supervision and oversight,” said Committee Chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA). “The funding and authorities provided in the IAA will increase the Intelligence Community’s ability to detect and counter cyber threats, ransomware attacks, and other emerging threats, including those from adversaries such as China and Russia. This IAA will also reinforce oversight of the IC by strengthening protections for whistleblowers, reforming the security clearance process, and mandating a robust response to reported cases of ‘Havana Syndrome.’”

“Our annual Intelligence Authorization Act provides critical authorities and funding for the U.S. Intelligence Community and its dedicated personnel, who provide our first line of defense to protect our nation,” said Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “This year’s Act provides increased capabilities to confront the multitude of threats facing our nation, including the Chinese Communist Party and other autocratic states like Russia, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela; the dispersed terrorist and cyber threats; and also provides the tools for leveraging the commercial sector’s innovation to address intelligence challenges.”    

Background:

The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 ensures that the Intelligence Community (IC) can perform its critical mission to protect our country and inform decision makers, while under robust Congressional oversight, including in the following key areas:

  • Increasing oversight and investments to address the growing national security threats and challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party and its related influence operations, including in technology, infrastructure, procurement, and digital currencies; 
  • Improving the IC’s response to the anomalous health incidents (AHI), known as “Havana Syndrome,” by establishing an independent medical advisory board at the CIA, ensuring benefits eligibility and access to expert medical advice and facilities, and requiring protocols on testing, information safeguards, and reporting mechanisms;
  • Improving the IC’s ability to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies;
  • Bolstering investments in commercial imagery and analytic services to provide more unclassified collection and analysis to policymakers and warfighters in a more timely manner;
  • Continuing the Committee’s commitment to reform and improve the security clearance process, including mandating a performance management framework to assess the adoption and effectiveness of the Executive Branch’s “Trusted Workforce 2.0” initiative; more accurately measuring how long it takes to transfer clearances between Federal agencies so it can be shortened; and creating IC-wide policies to share information on cleared contractors to enhance the effectiveness of insider threat programs;
  • Ensuring strong congressional oversight of and protections for IC whistleblowers who come forward to report waste, fraud or abuse;
  • Addressing intelligence requirements in key locations worldwide, including in Latin America and Afghanistan to confront foreign adversaries’ efforts to undermine the U.S. abroad;
  • Strengthening the IC’s ability to conduct financial intelligence; and
  • Supporting the IC’s efforts to assess unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), further building upon the work of the UAP Task Force.

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today voted for the passage of the $1.5 trillion government spending bill. This package funds the federal government through Fiscal Year 2022, delivers $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine, provides critical legal and funding authorities to the intelligence community, allows for full implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law, reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, and delivers countless wins for families in Virginia and across the country.

“Today the Senate voted to pass a full-year spending bill. While this deal took too long to come together, and concessions were made on both sides, I am proud that we have a bipartisan package that will deliver urgently needed humanitarian aid and military assistance to the people of Ukraine, avert a costly government shutdown, and deliver on key funding for projects that will boost our economy and invest in communities across the country and throughout the Commonwealth. This package will also deliver on key priorities I have been fighting for, including supporting military families, expanding access to rural broadband, addressing the IRS backlog that has delayed returns across the country, and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act for the first time since 2013,” said Sen. Warner. “Also in this spending package are the Intelligence Authorization Act and our bipartisan cyber incident reporting bill, key pieces of legislation that will enhance congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community – a critical move as we face some of the gravest global security threats of the past century. It will also improve transparency between private entities and the government in the event of broader cyber attacks. I am glad that we in Congress finally worked in a bipartisan way to get this done and start delivering for the American people.”

“This legislation is monumental for both our efforts here at home and on the international stage, by providing support for critical Virginia priorities and Ukraine’s security and humanitarian needs following Russia’s unjustified invasion,” said Sen. Kaine. “I’m also thrilled that I was able to include legislation I’ve been fighting for to ensure children of Gold Star families have access to the maximum Iraq and Afghanistan Service awards, as well as money specifically for projects addressing issues across Virginia, from mental health and teacher shortages to our infrastructure needs. America is at its best on days like this, when we face our challenges head on and provide needed leadership.”

The following list includes many of the provisions Warner and Kaine advocated for on behalf of Virginia that were included in the omnibus bill:

  • Support for Ukraine: To support the people of Ukraine as they continue fighting Putin’s brutal and unprovoked assault, this bill includes $13.6 billion in funding to:
    • Bolster the defensive capabilities of both the Ukrainian military and those of NATO Eastern flank countriesProvide urgently-needed humanitarian aid including migration and refugee assistance, and emergency food assistance, health care, and urgent support for vulnerable populations and communities
    • Expand diplomatic programs to maintain American Citizen Services, support operations that were forced to vacate Ukraine, and increase State Department capabilities to target Russian oligarch assets
    • Aid DOJ Ukraine Task Force efforts to address cybercrime and ransomware threats, trace and seize proceeds of crime, prosecute sanctions violators, and address export control, sanctions and cyber cases.   

 

  • Cyber Defenses: Includes $2.6 billion in funding for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to bolster the nation’s cyber-defenses. It also includes Warner-sponsored legislation to require companies responsible for U.S. critical infrastructure to report cybersecurity incidents to the government.

  • Military Pay Increase: Supports a pay increase of 2.7 percent for servicemembers and Department of Defense civilian personnel, and funds a $15 minimum wage for DoD personnel, in support of President Biden’s Executive Order.

 

  • Military Families: Provides $1.4 billion in funding to improve and maintain housing, and address challenges related to privatized military housing impacting servicemembers and their families. It also provides $278.1 million in housing assistance and $119.6 million for food assistance efforts for servicemembers and their families. For years, Sens. Warner and Kaine have fought to improve housing conditions. Sen. Warner has also been focused on improving food access for servicemembers and their families.

 

  • Medical Care for Veterans: Provides $97.5 billion for medical care at the VA – an 8.7 percent increase over last year – to address the health care needs of our nation’s veterans, both ongoing and deferred care due to the pandemic. This includes $840 million in gender-specific healthcare for women. 

 

  • Benefits Boost: Provides $3.5 billion to provide compensation benefits to veterans and their survivors, which will aid the VA in decreasing the claims backlog, and supporting new toxic exposure claims.

 

  • Veterans’ Mental Health: Provides $13.2 billion in funding, which includes $598 million for suicide prevention outreach.

 

  • Veterans’ Rural Health: Provides $2.4 billion for telehealth services to reach veterans, and $327 million to support improved access to care in rural areas.

 

  • Veterans’ Homelessness: Provides $2.2 billion for efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans and their families.

 

  • IT Modernization: Includes $5.5 billion in funding for IT modernization efforts at the VA.

 

  • Shipbuilding: Provides more than $26 billion in funding for critical Navy shipbuilding priorities, many of which have a direct connection to Virginia and the Hampton Roads region, to include: Ford-class Aircraft Carrier Construction ($2.34 billion), Aircraft Carrier Overhaul ($2.48 billion), and Virginia- ($6.33 billion) and Columbia-class ($4.77 billion) Submarine construction.

 

  • Virginia military construction: Provides more than $361 million in funding for 11 military construction projects across the Commonwealth, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Quantico, Ft. Belvoir, Sandston, Troutville, and at the Pentagon. 

 

  • School Construction: Includes more than $500 million in funding for public schools on military installations nationwide, to fund construction, expansion, renovation, and repairs.

 

  • Climate Resilience: Provides $100 million for the Department of Defense to address resilience issues at installations stemming from climate change.

 

  • Intelligence Authorization Act: Includes the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community – a priority for Sen. Warner as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

 

  • Havana Syndrome: Provides additional funding to support personnel who have been impacted by anomalous health incidents. Chairman Warner and Sen. Kaine have been outspoken on the need to support afflicted personnel. 

 

  • IRS Backlog: Provides $12.6 billion for IRS funding. This funding will help continue to eliminate the 2020 tax return backlog, more efficiently process 2021 tax returns, and improve customer service. Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently supported sufficient funding to allow the IRS to meet the needs of taxpayers. 

 

  • Small Businesses: Provides $1 billion to the Small Business Administration to support investments in programs to help underserved entrepreneurs access capital and contracting opportunities. 

 

  • Funding for Community Development Financial Institutions: Provides $295 million for the CDFI Fund, including $173 million for financial and technical assistance grants and $35 million for the Bank Enterprise Award Program. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Warner has successfully pushed for increased funding for CDFIs to support and advance access to capital for underserved communities in Virginia.

 

  • Fighting Violence Against Women: Reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, marking the first time in nearly a decade that VAWA has been reauthorized. The bill also provides $575 million, the highest level ever, in funding provided for multiple competitive and formula grant programs that support training for police officers and prosecutors, state coalitions to respond to domestic violence and sexual assault, rape prevention programs, lethality assessment and homicide reduction initiatives, domestic violence hotlines, and women’s shelters and transitional housing support services.

 

  • Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act: Includes $5 million to assist state and local governments with entering data into the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which will improve how hate crimes are collected by the FBI, establish hate crime reporting hotlines, and develop and adopt policies on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes. Sens. Warner and Kaine first introduced the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act legislation in 2019. It is partially named after Heather Heyer, a Virginia constituent who was killed in the 2017 white supremacy protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

 

  • Ashanti Alert: Includes $1 million to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. In 2018, Sen. Warner secured unanimous Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, legislation that will create a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18-64.  The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018. 

 

  • Pell Grant: The omnibus provides a $400 boost to the maximum Pell Grant in the 2022-23 school year to raise the maximum award to $6,895. This is the largest increase to the Pell Grant since the 2009-2010 school year. Over 137,500 Virginia students receive the Pell Grant each year.  The omnibus also included the technical fix based on Sen. Kaine’s Protecting Our Gold Star Families’ Education Act to exclude the Iraq And Afghanistan Service Grant from sequestration and ensure that recipients of this grant have access to the maximum Pell Grant award. 

 

  • Rural Broadband: Provides more than $550 million for expansion of broadband service, including an additional $450 million for the ReConnect program to expand rural broadband access. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime champions for increased access to broadband. As part of the American Rescue Plan, they secured $10 billion to help states, territories and tribal governments expand access to broadband.

 

  • Rural Health Care: Provides more than $366 million for HHS rural health care programs, an increase of $36,593,000.

 

  • Miners: Provides more than $11.8 million for clinics that provide critical health care for coal workers with job-related lung diseases. The bill also directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prioritize maintenance of its Black Lung health screening mobile unit and urges the CDC to consider purchasing an additional unit, noting that early screening and detection of black lung can improve health outcomes and reduce mortality.

 

  • Infrastructure Investments: The omnibus will finally fully fund the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, specifically programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund. Without a full-year funding bill, Virginia could have lost out on $364 million in highway funding and $53 million in transit funding just this fiscal year. This also enables the new Carbon Reduction Program and PROTECT grants to get started.

 

  • Shipyard Infrastructure: Includes $564 million to make significant and much-needed investments in our nation’s public shipyards, in support of the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP).

 

  • Norfolk Harbor and Channels Deepening Project: Provides an additional $83.7 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and expand capacity by deepening and widening the harbor’s shipping channels. This will enable safer access for larger commercial and naval vessels and provide significant new economic opportunities to the region. This funding is in addition to the more than $69.3 million the Senators announced in January as a result of the IIJA.

 

  • Colonial National Historical Park: Provides $128.7 million to help rehabilitate sections of the Colonial Parkway. This funding was included in the President’s FY22 budget request and was made available by the Great American Outdoors Act negotiated by Sen. Warner.

 

  • Appalachian Regional Commission: Includes $195 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an increase of $15 million from FY21. This is in addition to the $1 billion provided to ARC through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years.

 

  • Blue Ridge Parkway: Includes $32.8 million to help rehabilitate sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This funding was included in the President’s FY22 budget request and was made available by the Great American Outdoors Act negotiated by Sen. Warner.

 

  • Chesapeake Bay Program: Includes $88 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program. This funding is in addition to the $238 million provided to the Chesapeake Bay Program over five years through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

 

  • Telehealth: Extends core telehealth flexibilities for 151 days past the expiration date of the Public Health Emergency (PHE).

 

  • Synthetic Nicotine: Provides a legislative fix to clarify the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate products containing synthetic nicotine as tobacco products. Nicotine that can be chemically synthesized in a laboratory—rather than derived from tobacco—currently falls outside of FDA’s statutory definition of a tobacco product, which contributed to the explosion of youth use of e-cigarettes. Sen. Kaine worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to successfully secure this language, aimed at reducing the number of children and teens addicted to harmful e-cigarettes.

 

  • Maternal Vaccination: Includes provisions calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider the importance of vaccination awareness in carrying out public awareness campaigns. Specifically, the Secretary is asked to take into consideration the importance of increasing awareness and knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to prevent disease in pregnant and postpartum women and infants, and the need to improve vaccination rates in such communities. This provision stems from Sen. Kaine’s bill, S.345, the Maternal Vaccinations Act.

 

  • HBCU funding: Virginia’s five HBCUs, Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg will receive additional support in Fiscal Year 2022 as HBCU’s nationwide will see a $35 million (8.0%) increase in funding.

 

  • Head Start: Head Start received an increase of $289 million (2.7%) over last year’s funding level which will mean more than a $4 million increase in Virginia, a critical boost to Virginia’s 393 Head Start centers across the Commonwealth that provide early childhood education and care to nearly 15,000 young Virginians.

 

  • CCDBG: The Child Care and Development Block Grant will receive over $250 million more (4.3% increase) than last year. Support for CCDBG is critical in helping low-income families access affordable child care. This funding increase comes in addition to $580 million in supplemental CCDBG funding for Virginia through the COVID-19 relief bills, and the nearly $488 million provided by the American Rescue Plan to child care providers to enable them to stay open.

 

  • Southeast Crescent Regional Commission: The bill provides $5 million, an increase of $4 million above the fiscal year 2021 level and $2.5 million above the President’s request. This funding targets the economic development needs of distressed portions of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. In July, Kaine and Representative McEachin were joined by Warner in sending a delegation letter to President Biden advocating for this historic funding and the appointment of a federal co-chair.

As part of FY2022 appropriations, the Senate also revived a process that allows members of Congress to make Congressionally Directed Spending requests, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects. Through strong advocacy, Sens. Warner and Kaine were able to secure dedicated funding for Virginia communities totaling more than $85 million dollars. 

More information regarding specific projects in Virginia that will receive Congressionally Directed Spending is available below:

 

###

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) issued the following statement applauding today’s House passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 spending package, which will fund the federal government, deliver crucial aid to Ukraine, and finally release hundreds of millions of dollars in funding available through the bipartisan infrastructure law:

“We are pleased to see the House of Representatives vote to pass a full-year spending package, which will prevent a costly shutdown and provide key federal funding for some of Virginia’s top priorities. This bill will also deliver crucial humanitarian aid and military assistance to the people of Ukraine as they continue to fight against Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion. Once signed by the President, this bill will also allow historic infrastructure investments to proceed full steam ahead by finally funding new programs authorized under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law last year. We stand ready to work with our Senate colleagues to pass this bill quickly and send it to the President’s desk.” 

As part of FY2022 appropriations, the Senate revived a process that allows members of Congress to make Congressionally Directed Spending requests, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects. Through strong advocacy, Sens. Warner and Kaine were able to secure dedicated funding for Virginia communities totaling more than $85 million dollars. 

More information regarding specific projects in Virginia that will receive Congressionally Directed Spending is available below:

This bill also includes major funding for a number of Warner and Kaine priorities:  

  • Shipbuilding: The bill provides more than $26 billion in funding for critical Navy shipbuilding priorities, many of which have a direct connection to Virginia and the Hampton Roads region, to include: Ford-class Aircraft Carrier Construction ($2.34 billion), Aircraft Carrier Overhaul ($2.48 billion), and Virginia- ($6.33 billion) and Columbia-class ($4.77 billion) Submarine construction.
  • Virginia military construction: Provides more than $361 million in funding for 11 military construction projects across the Commonwealth, including in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Quantico, Ft. Belvoir, Sandston, Troutville, and at the Pentagon.
  • IRS backlog: Provides $12.6 billion for IRS funding. This funding will help continue to eliminate the 2020 tax return backlog, more efficiently process 2021 tax returns, and improve customer service. Sens. Warner and Kaine have consistently supported sufficient funding to allow the IRS to meet the needs of taxpayers. 
  • Fighting Violence Against Women: Reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, marking the first time in nearly a decade that VAWA has been reauthorized. The bill also provides $575 million, the highest level ever, in funding provided for multiple competitive and formula grant programs that support training for police officers and prosecutors, state coalitions to respond to domestic violence and sexual assault, rape prevention programs, lethality assessment and homicide reduction initiatives, domestic violence hotlines, and women’s shelters and transitional housing support services.
  • Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act: Includes $5 million to assist state and local governments with entering data into the National Incident-Based Reporting System, which will improve how hate crimes are collected by the FBI, establish hate crime reporting hotlines, and develop and adopt policies on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes. Sens. Warner and Kaine first introduced the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act legislation in 2019. It is partially named after Heather Heyer, a Virginia constituent who was killed in the 2017 white supremacy protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. 
  • Ashanti Alert: Includes $1 million to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. In 2018, Sen. Warner secured unanimous Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, legislation that will create a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18-64.  The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018. 
  • Funding for Community Development Financial Institutions: Provides $295 million for the CDFI Fund, including $173 million for financial and technical assistance grants and $35 million for the Bank Enterprise Award Program. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Warner has successfully pushed for increased funding for CDFIs to support and advance access to capital for underserved communities in Virginia.
  • Military Families: Provides $1.4 billion in funding to improve and maintain housing, and to address challenges related to privatized military housing impacting servicemembers and their families. It also provides $278.1 million in housing assistance and $119.6 million for food assistance efforts for servicemembers and their families. For years, Sens. Warner and Kaine have fought to improve housing conditions. Sen. Warner has also been focused on improving food access for servicemembers and their families.
  • Pell Grant: The omnibus provides a $400 boost to the maximum Pell Grant in the 2022-23 school year to raise the maximum award to $6,895. This is the largest increase to the Pell Grant since the 2009-2010 school year. The omnibus also included the technical fix based on Sen. Kaine’s Protecting Our Gold Star Families’ Education Act to exclude the Iraq And Afghanistan Service Grant from sequestration and ensure that recipients of this grant have access to the maximum Pell Grant award. Over 137,500 Virginia students receive the Pell Grant each year.
  • Intelligence Authorization Act: Includes the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community – a priority for Sen. Warner as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  • Cyber Incident Reporting: Includes Warner-sponsored legislation to require companies responsible for U.S. critical infrastructure to report cybersecurity incidents to the government.
  • Havana Syndrome: Provides additional funding to support personnel who have been impacted by anomalous health incidents. Chairman Warner and Sen. Kaine have been outspoken on the need to support afflicted personnel. 
  • Rural Broadband: Provides more than $550 million for expansion of broadband service, including an additional $450 million for the ReConnect program to expand rural broadband access. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime champions for increased access to broadband. As part of the American Rescue Plan, they secured $10 billion to help states, territories and tribal governments expand access to broadband.
  • Miners: Provides more than $11.8 million for clinics that provide critical health care for coal workers with job-related lung diseases. The bill also directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prioritize maintenance of its Black Lung health screening mobile unit and urges the CDC to consider purchasing an additional unit, noting that early screening and detection of black lung can improve health outcomes and reduce mortality.
  • Colonial National Historical Park: Provides $128.7 million to help rehabilitate sections of the Colonial Parkway. This funding was included in the President’s FY22 budget request and was made available by the Great American Outdoors Act negotiated by Sen. Warner.
  • Appalachian Regional Commission: Includes $195 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an increase of $15 million from FY21. This is in addition to the $1 billion provided to ARC through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years.
  • Synthetic Nicotine: Provides a legislative fix to clarify the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate products containing synthetic nicotine as tobacco products. Nicotine that can be chemically synthesized in a laboratory—rather than derived from tobacco—currently falls outside of FDA’s statutory definition of a tobacco product, which contributed to the explosion of youth use of e-cigarettes. Sen. Kaine worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to successfully secure this language, aimed at reducing the number of children and teens addicted to harmful e-cigarettes.
  • Maternal Vaccination: Includes provisions calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider the importance of vaccination awareness in carrying out public awareness campaigns. Specifically, the Secretary is asked to take into consideration the importance of increasing awareness and knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to prevent disease in pregnant and postpartum women and infants, and the need to improve vaccination rates in such communities. This provision stems from Sen. Kaine’s bill, S.345, the Maternal Vaccinations Act.
  • Norfolk Harbor and Channels Deepening Project: Provides an additional $83.7 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and expand capacity by deepening and widening the harbor’s shipping channels. This will enable safer access for larger commercial and naval vessels and provide significant new economic opportunities to the region. This funding is in addition to the more than $69.3 million the Senators announced in January as a result of the IIJA.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: Includes $32.8 million to help rehabilitate sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This funding was included in the President’s FY22 budget request and was made available by the Great American Outdoors Act negotiated by Sen. Warner.
  • Chesapeake Bay Program: Includes $88 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program. This funding is in addition to the $238 million provided to the Chesapeake Bay Program over five years through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

This legislation now heads to the Senate, which will need to pass it before sending it off to the President’s desk for approval.

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement regarding President Biden’s executive order on ensuring responsible innovation in digital assets:

“Today’s executive order does a commendable job of balancing the potential opportunities and benefits of digital assets in financial innovation, economic inclusion, and global payments modernization against the risks and challenges they present to core U.S. interests. I applaud the executive order’s recognition that maintaining the centrality of the United States in the global financial system – and, in particular, the role of American governance standards and the primacy of the U.S. dollar – is absolutely fundamental to our efforts with regard to digital assets. The EO’s urgency with respect to a strategy for a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is especially welcome, and I look forward to working with the administration on further steps to engage on international norms and standards related to CBDCs.

“Today, we face a highly motivated adversary that is actively searching for opportunities to evade the substantial sanctions imposed by the Biden administration and our allies around the globe. We must ensure that all participants in the digital assets marketplace are actively complying with sanctions, and we need to develop clearer guardrails and improved enforcement to address fraud, illicit finance, and insecurity in the wider digital assets industry.”

Last week, Sen. Warner sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raising concerns regarding the potential use of cryptocurrency to evade sanctions imposed on Russia after their invasion of Ukraine.

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement on President Biden’s decision to ban Russian oil imports amid Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine:

“By banning Russian oil imports, President Biden has made clear once again that Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine will not go unpunished. Right now, Ukrainians are fighting with their lives against authoritarian rule to preserve the same freedoms we hold sacred. While only three percent of U.S. crude imports come from Russia, we cannot stand with the Ukrainian people while also continuing to support Russia’s energy economy. As the conflict in Ukraine continues to contribute to rising gas prices worldwide, I am committed to working with the administration and my colleagues in Congress to do what we can to address the pain Americans are feeling at the gas pump.”

Last week, Sen. Warner joined Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in introducing the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act – legislation to prohibit the importation of Russian crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal into the United States.

###

 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $1,530,000 in federal funding awarded to school districts across the Commonwealth. The funds were administered through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of two programs: the 2021 American Rescue Plan Electric School Bus Rebates and the annual 2021 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates. The funds will go towards the replacement of old diesel school buses with new electric, propane, compressed natural gas, diesel or gasoline buses that will reduce harmful emissions in the environment.

“We are glad to see so many Virginia school districts receive funding to invest in electric school buses and cleaner vehicles,” the Senators said. “This investment will significantly benefit our communities by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to helping Virginia school districts compete for additional funding through the $5 billion clean and electric school bus grant program in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”  

The funds will be broken down as follows:

  • $900,000 for three school buses for Petersburg City Public Schools as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Electric School Bus Rebates.

This new program provides funds to replace old diesel school buses with new, zero-emission electric school buses. The funds are reserved exclusively for school districts in underserved communities, Tribal schools, and private fleets serving those schools.

  • $250,000 for 10 buses for Newport News Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $200,000 for 10 buses for Loudoun County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $100,000 for five buses for Carroll County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.
  • $80,000 for four buses for Culpeper County Public Schools as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebates.

This program funds the replacement of old diesel school buses with new electric, diesel, gasoline, propane, or compressed natural gas school buses meeting current emission standards.

###

 

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded Senate passage of a bipartisan resolution condemning a recent series of bomb threats at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and reaffirming the government’s commitment to combatting violence against students, faculty, and staff. The resolution was led by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Tim Scott (R-SC) and passed unanimously in the Senate.

Since January, the FBI has reported 44 bomb threats to HBCUs, including at Norfolk State University and Hampton University.

“The unanimous passage of this resolution underscores the strong condemnation of recent threats against HBCUs and need to conduct thorough investigations to hold perpetrators accountable,” said the Senators. “We’ll continue to help HBCUs access federal resources to keep their campuses safe, and we remain committed to combatting hate and violence.”

Warner and Kaine are longtime advocates of HBCUs. Kaine successfully pushed to pass legislation he cosponsored called the HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students (PARTNERS) Act, which strengthens partnerships between federal agencies and HBCUs. Warner successfully pushed to promote defense research at HBCUs in the most recent defense authorization bill which included a version of his Building Equitable Access to Contribute to Our National Security (BEACON) Act.

Joining Coons, Scott, Warner, and Kaine in cosigning the resolution were Senators Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The resolution text is available here.  

 

###

 

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BROADCAST QUALITY AUDIO AND VIDEO OF SEN. WARNER'S STATEMENT 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded the passage of the Postal Service Reform Act, a bipartisan bill to strengthen the United States Postal Service (USPS) by setting standards and increasing transparency within the USPS. This legislation comes as residents in Charlottesville, and throughout the Commonwealth, continue to experience severe delays in mail delivery.

“This legislation is a strong first step towards improving the costly and unacceptable delays within the United States Postal Service,” Sen. Warner said. “The USPS provides essential services to Americans across the country, and it is crucial that we maintain a healthy and solvent USPS moving forward. I am proud to support this bill, which will increase transparency and work to address the widespread delays experienced by Virginians.” 

The Postal Service Reform Act includes multiple provisions that will: 

  • Eliminate the aggressive prefunding requirement that has hurt the Postal Service financially, and integrate postal worker retirees’ health care with Medicare. Together, these two reforms would create over $49 billion in savings for the Postal Service over the next ten years. 
  • Require the Postal Service to maintain its standard of delivering at least six days a week.
  • Improve transparency of Postal Service operations to both customers and Congress by requiring the publication of easily accessible weekly service data on the Postal Service website, as well as issuing a detailed report to Congress every six months on Postal Service finances and operations.

Sen. Warner has been an active and vocal proponent of addressing the mail delay problems affecting Virginians all across the Commonwealth. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with families increasingly relying on USPS, Sen. Warner raised concerns regarding the operational and structural changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and their impact on timely mail delivery. In February 2021, after hearing from hundreds of Virginians, Sen. Warner urged U.S. Postmaster General DeJoy to rescind the harmful policy changes delaying mail delivery. Shortly thereafter, Sen. Warner pressed DeJoy for answers on measures to restore on-time mail delivery, and called on congressional leaders to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominees to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors.

During August and November visits to Charlottesville, Sen. Warner has continued to push for a long-term solution and increased communication from USPS.     

Sen. Warner has long been an advocate for postal reform. In 2015, he cosponsored the Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency (iPost) Act  that aimed to improve service of the USPS through a series of new standards.  

Full text of the Postal Service Reform Act is available here.

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine today announced $350,000 in federal funding for Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc. (HOME) in Richmond to support fair housing. The funding was awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Fair Housing Initiatives Program. Supplemental funding for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program was included in the American Rescue Plan , supported by Senators Warner and Kaine.

“Too many Virginians are denied equal housing opportunities because of illegal discrimination,” said Senator Kaine. “As a former fair housing attorney, I’ve seen how housing impacts a family’s health and financial well-being. I’m glad this funding will help HOME ensure more Virginians have access to safe and affordable housing.”

“Discriminatory practices should never prevent Virginians from accessing affordable and fair housing opportunities,” said Senator Warner. “I am glad to see these funds go towards providing HOME with the resources needed to help more Virginians in need.” 

Specifically, HOME will use the funding for virtual fair housing workshops and enforcement-related activities. HOME will also hold a Fair Housing Pandemic Roundtable and conduct interviews with Virginians who have been evicted or displaced during the pandemic.

As a former fair housing attorney, Kaine represented Virginians who were denied housing due to discrimination. His first case as a lawyer was referred by HOME, and he subsequently worked with the organization on dozens of other cases.

Warner and Kaine have long supported efforts to increase affordable housing and homeownership. In September 2021, Warner and Kaine introduced the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers (LIFT) Act, which would establish a new program to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers – predominately Americans of color – by offering new homeowners a 20-year mortgage for roughly the same monthly payment as a traditional 30-year loan. In October 2021, Warner and Kaine also joined their colleagues in introducing the Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021, which would provide federal grants to assist first-generation homebuyers with qualifying expenses toward purchasing their first home, including downpayment costs, closing costs, and costs to reduce the rates of interest.

###

DENVERToday, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), chair of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, met with leadership from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Intelligence Community (IC) at Schriever Space Force Base and Buckley Space Force Base.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and violation of international rules and norms demonstrates the urgency of the U.S. maintaining a stable space domain. The senators’ meetings highlighted the defense and intelligence elements in Colorado key to U.S. space missions, including U.S Space Command, and underscored the central role Colorado maintains in both space and national security innovation. 

“Amid Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and an increasingly congested and contested space domain, it’s more important than ever that the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense work together to protect and defend against threats to our nation’s space assets,” said Warner. “Today’s visit further demonstrates the need to keep Space Command in Colorado, where the IC and DoD are working in concert on a number of critical national security programs.”

“As Russian aggression threatens the international norms that have kept Americans safe, U.S. leadership and stability in space is more critical than ever, and I’m grateful Chairman Warner joined me today to see first-hand Colorado’s extensive space and national security assets,” said Bennet. “We should be spending money to build on investments that have already been made to our space mission, not on moving Space Command and starting from scratch. Our visits today, once again, reinforced that Colorado is the most strategic choice for the permanent home for USSPACECOM.”

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced the designation of $52,738,308 in federal funding awarded to the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads to make up for lost revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are glad to see these federal dollars go directly to Hampton Roads to invest in the region’s transportation grid,” the Senators said. “As we continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that the federal government continue to provide the assistance needed to aid economic recovery.” 

“This funding will enable Hampton Roads Transit to execute the Board’s multi-year strategy of providing critical transit services to support the recovery and resilience of the regional economy,”  President and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit William Harrell said. “This federal allotment will help mitigate ongoing risks and ensure long-term sustainability and operational performance of transit that supports citizens going to work, school, medical appointments, and other lifeline destinations. We applaud our Federal Delegation and Administration for their commitment to our great nation!”

ARP Additional Assistance Funding is awarded to transit systems demonstrating a need for additional assistance to cover operating expenses related to maintaining day-to-day operations, cleaning and sanitization, combating the spread of pathogens on transit systems and maintaining critical staffing levels. This funding is supplemental to the $56,164,715 in Federal Transit Authority (FTA) Urbanized Area Formula funds distributed through ARP.

 

###

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as well as a bicameral group of their colleagues, in urging U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Thomas Vilsack to issue guidance clarifying college students’ eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to address the growing food insecurity crisis among college students.

“College students represent the future of America. Not only is it critical that we don’t saddle students with debt, but the Administration should also use its executive authority to ensure low-income students have the information they need to access SNAP and other federal benefits to help them stay focused and successful in their studies,” the senators wrote. “USDA has the authority to change that.”

“While we work on securing legislation to both make permanent and expand the [Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act] student provisions, we strongly urge USDA to use its authority to expeditiously issue guidance that clarifies the student SNAP eligibility rules, which would expand on the Biden Administration’s actions to ensure students have access to federal nutrition resources to meet their basic needs,” the senators concluded.

The senators specifically call on USDA to issue guidance to clarify that the following groups are eligible for SNAP benefits without work requirements: low-income students who have been approved for federal or state work study; low-income students enrolled in community college and in four-year college programs that are career-focused or in paths resulting in high employability after graduation; and low-income students with disabilities, including students with learning disabilities and serious medical conditions.

Students experiencing hunger have a harder time succeeding in school. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a GAO report found that nearly two million students at risk of going hungry were potentially eligible for SNAP but did not report receiving benefits in 2016. The COVID-19 pandemic has also worsened food insecurity among college students and exacerbated racial disparities in hunger. A 2020 survey conducted by the Hope Center at Temple University found 32 percent of Virginia Community College System’s (VCCS) students had experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days.

Since the pandemic began, Warner and Kaine have secured federal funding to expand access to food assistance for students, including successfully pushing USDA to make food distribution policies more flexible for Virginia’s families. They also helped secure Virginia’s request to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to ensure children have access to healthy food while at home.

In addition to Warner, Kaine, and Warren, the letter was also signed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Chris Murphy (D-CO), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Representatives Al Lawson (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), and Norma J. Torres (D-CA).

The full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We are writing urging you to issue guidance clarifying Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility to address the growing food security crisis among college students. While we appreciate the Biden Administration’s recent actions to support college students during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic1 – particularly given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on low-income college students, students of color, first-generation college students, and single parents2 – there remains an urgent need to ensure that low-income students are both informed about and have access to critical federal benefits, including nutrition benefits.

COVID-19 has worsened food insecurity among college students and exacerbated racial disparities in hunger. A nationwide survey of students in fall 2020 by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found that 70% of Black and 70% of American Indian or Alaska Native students experienced food insecurity, housing insecurity, or homelessness—rates substantially higher than their white peers.3 Overall, 3 in 5 students do not have enough to eat or a stable place to live.4 The setbacks will be even more significant for students who are low-income, the first in their families to attend college, and parenting students.

The Biden Administration has taken critical steps to support college students’ basic needs during the pandemic, including by providing nearly $200 million in American Rescue Plan funds through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds.5 We also applaud the use of financial aid data to communicate with students about SNAP and federal benefits for which they may be eligible.6 This builds on the important interagency work that the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Education (ED) started to better coordinate implementation of the temporary student provisions authorized under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA) title of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.7

Yet even after the public health emergency ends, the economic repercussions of the pandemic will be felt for years. College students represent the future of America. Not only is it critical that we don’t saddle students with debt, but the Administration should also use its executive authority to ensure low-income students have the information they need to access SNAP and other federal benefits to help them stay focused and successful in their studies.

In December 2018, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a detailed report analyzing 31 studies that identified widespread food insecurity among students.8 The GAO report concluded that college students experiencing hunger have a harder time succeeding in school and found that nearly two million students at risk of going hungry were potentially eligible for SNAP but did not report receiving benefits in 2016.9 Given that the GAO report and related studies were conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are deeply concerned that significantly more college students may struggle in accessing SNAP benefits after the temporary CRRSAA provisions sunset.10

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the public messaging around SNAP for college students routinely suggested that college students must show they “work at least 20 hours a week”11 to qualify for benefits and failed to highlight the additional statutory exemptions under 7 U.S.C. § 2015 (e) that expand eligibility for students who do not satisfy these work requirements. As the GAO report found, thousands of low-income students who should qualify for SNAP never accessed these benefits, in large part because of the very complex SNAP eligibility rules.12 USDA has the authority to change that under 7 U.S.C. § 2015 (e).

While we acknowledge and appreciate the additional effort USDA and ED have taken to encourage states to reach potentially eligible students by using financial aid data while the temporary CRRSSA provisions are in place,13 this does not resolve the importance of clarifying the long-standing student eligibility rules, given the well-documented barriers students face to accessing SNAP benefits. Specifically, we urge USDA to issue guidance to states that clarifies, in accordance with the exemptions listed under 7 U.S.C. § 2015 (e), that students under the following circumstances, at a minimum, are not required to satisfy any work requirements to access SNAP benefits:

Low-income students approved for federal or state work study are eligible for SNAP benefits while they search for available work study positions or funding, whether or not their college is able to secure them a position. Cash-strapped colleges may not have the requisite matching funds for federal work study grants awarded to students, but students should not be denied SNAP benefits simply because their financial aid awards are not fulfilled.

Low-income students are SNAP eligible when enrolled in community college and in four-year college programs that are career-focused and/or in paths resulting in high employability after graduation. All states should be afforded the discretion to exempt students at community colleges, and in such four-year college programs, from the work requirement and should be encouraged to use this discretion to broadly expand SNAP access. Students’ academic success should not be delayed or derailed because they need to take on additional work responsibilities to access nutrition benefits.

Low-income students with disabilities, including students with learning disabilities as well as serious medical conditions, are eligible for SNAP under the “physical or mental unfitness” exemption. Many students qualify for accommodations at their colleges based on their disabilities or health conditions, including tutoring, extra time on exams and projects, and mental health services as well as students enrolled through their state’s Rehabilitation Act or veterans rehabilitation program.14 Burdening these students with an additional 20 hours per week of work effectively undermines successful completion of their education.

While we work on securing legislation to both make permanent and expand the CRRSAA student provisions, we strongly urge USDA to use its authority to expeditiously issue guidance that clarifies the student SNAP eligibility rules, which would expand on the Biden Administration’s actions to ensure students have access to federal nutrition resources to meet their basic needs.

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and a bipartisan group of Senate and House members in introducing the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act, which would prohibit the importation of Russian crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal into the United States.

In 2021, the United States imported an average of 670,000 barrels of oil and petroleum products daily, with a high of 848,000 barrels per day in June 2021. Total imports of Russian crude oil and petroleum products were up 24% in 2021 over 2020. The U.S. has also imported Russian LNG and coal despite having some of the largest reserves domestically. The continued importation of Russian energy commodities would only help support Vladimir Putin’s ongoing illegal invasion of Ukraine and his ability to stay in power.

“Since Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has pulled together an impressive international coalition to impose swift and severe sanctions on Russia. While these measures have already put intense pressure on Russia’s economy, it’s clear more must be done to punish Putin for the tragedies occurring in Ukraine. As Putin continues his vicious assault on the citizens of Ukraine, we should not continue to support Russia’s energy economy by importing these commodities. That’s why I’m proud to support this legislation that would strike at the heart of the Russian economy by banning the importation of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal into the United States,” said Senator Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“The entire world is on edge as Vladimir Putin terrorizes the sovereign democratic nation of Ukraine. The U.S. cannot continue to purchase more than half a million barrels of oil per day because in doing so, we are emboldening Putin to continue using his greatest weapon of war – energy exports,” said Chairman Manchin. “The Ban Russian Energy Imports Act would declare a national emergency with respect to Russian aggression and immediately prohibit the importation of Russian energy products. Importantly, this bipartisan bill shows our strong commitment to stand behind the valiant efforts of the Ukrainian people and the measures our allies in Europe are taking to rebuke Putin and his continued aggression. I urge Leader Schumer to quickly bring this bipartisan bill to the floor and urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support it.”

“The world is watching in shock as Russia wages an unprovoked war on Ukraine, killing innocents as it attempts to destroy a fragile democracy. While the Biden administration has taken noteworthy steps to try to convince Vladimir Putin and his regime to stand down, we need an all-encompassing approach that uses every viable tool at our disposal. By leaving Russia’s energy exports untouched, the United States is ignoring one of our most potent options to stop the bloodshed. We must ban Russia’s energy imports into the U.S. so that Americans aren’t forced to help finance their growing atrocities and halt the Russian aggression. I’m proud to sponsor this bill with Senator Manchin and urge the Senate to pass it immediately,” said Senator Murkowski.

Sens. Warner, Manchin and Murkowski were joined in introducing the legislation by U.S Sens. John Tester (D-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rob Portman (R-OH). U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5) will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Ban Russian Energy Imports Act would:

  • Declare a national emergency specifically with respect to the threat to our national security, foreign policy, and economy that exists as a result of Russian aggression against Ukraine and directs the President to prohibit imports of crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, LNG, and coal from Russia.
  • The President has had the authority to take these actions since 1917; this legislation does not grant additional authority. This approach is modeled on the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.  
  • The ban would be in place during the national emergency and either the President or Congress would be able to terminate the emergency and the import ban. 
  • The bill exempts product that is already loaded or in transit at the time of enactment. 

Full text of the Ban Russian Energy Imports Act is available here. To learn more about the legislation click here.

###

 

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter today urging the Ukrainian government to ensure that Africans in Ukraine are not blocked from evacuating the country or seeking safety amid Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine.

 This letter comes on the heels of reports that individuals from Africa and Asia have been discriminated against while attempting to flee Ukraine. According to online videos and first-hand reporting, individuals from Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt and India, as well as other nations seeking to escape the war in Ukraine, have been physically abused, barred from boarding trains and buses, and denied entry into border nations, among other things.

 “Regarding the refugee crisis that President Putin has created through his violent invasion – which so far, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, has seen more than one million men, women, and children flee their homes to safety in neighboring countries – I will continue supporting efforts to ensure that Ukraine and its neighboring countries are resourced appropriately to address this challenge,” wrote Sen Warner in a letter to Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States.

 “In the meantime, I want to call attention to a growing body of disturbing reports along Ukraine’s western borders, which allege discriminatory treatment and processing of certain non-Ukrainian individuals – in particular, individuals from African nations,” he continued. “Many of these individuals are students studying in Ukraine. As you well know, at least 20 percent of the more than 80,000 international students studying in Ukraine come from an African nation, with sizable populations of Moroccan, Nigerian, and Egyptian students. These students and other individuals must be able to seek safety, and any discriminatory treatment or actions that deny them that ability are unacceptable. I echo the sentiments of the African Union, the US Department of State, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and highlight this right of all people who are fleeing conflict.”

Acknowledging the challenging circumstances being navigated by Ukrainian security personnel who are rapidly working to facilitate historic refugee flows, Sen. Warner stressed the importance of affording all individuals the ability to seek safety, regardless of race, religion, or nationality.

He further stated this point in letters to the ambassadors of neighboring nations – Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova – who are working with Ukraine to process and provide refuge in response to the mass migration spurred by Russia’s aggression. He also stated he will continue to monitor the conditions relating to the African diaspora and other forcibly displaced persons at the Ukrainian borders.

As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine and has repeatedly condemned Russia’s aggression and invasion of the sovereign nation. Last week, he urged major social media companies to prevent misuse of their platforms by Russia and Russia-linked entities.

A copy of the letter to Ambassador Markarova is available here and below.

Dear Ambassador Markarova:

I write to you today at a moment of great tragedy for your nation, as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his violent, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, in violation of your country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The United States stands firmly with the people of Ukraine, and you have my commitment that, as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I will continue pressing the United States Government to share as much intelligence support as possible with Ukraine. I will also continue advocating for punishing sanctions and economic costs against President Putin and Russia, security assistance for the Ukrainian military, and robust economic and humanitarian assistance for the Ukrainian people.

Regarding the refugee crisis that President Putin has created through his violent invasion – which so far, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, has seen more than one million men, women, and children flee their homes to safety in neighboring countries – I will continue supporting efforts to ensure that Ukraine and its neighboring countries are resourced appropriately to address this challenge.

In the meantime, I want to call attention to a growing body of disturbing reports along Ukraine’s western borders, which allege discriminatory treatment and processing of certain non-Ukrainian individuals – in particular, individuals from African nations. Many of these individuals are students studying in Ukraine. As you well know, at least 20 percent of the more than 80,000 international students studying in Ukraine come from an African nation, with sizable populations of Moroccan, Nigerian, and Egyptian students. These students and other individuals must be able to seek safety, and any discriminatory treatment or actions that deny them that ability are unacceptable. I echo the sentiments of the African Union, the US Department of State, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and highlight this right of all people who are fleeing conflict.

I certainly acknowledge the incredibly challenging circumstances that Ukrainian security personnel are under as they work to quickly and effectively facilitate historic refugee flows in response to dire and urgent circumstances. I also recognize the stated commitments that Ukraine’s neighbors have made to take in people fleeing to safety. I urge all governments and authorities to ensure that all individuals – regardless of race, religion, or nationality – are afforded equal access to their right to seek safety. Please know that I am also writing to officials of neighboring countries to ensure that their authorities are not the cause of further allegations. I will continue to monitor conditions related to forcibly displaced persons at the borders – including the African diaspora – and I will continue to support resources for Ukraine to aid in these efforts.

I thank you for your government’s attention to this matter, and I reiterate my earnest support for the Ukrainian people in this conflict. The strength and resolve that they have shown in the face of this violent invasion has inspired and rallied so many in the international community to stand with Ukraine.

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced a Senate resolution celebrating the centennial of Navy aircraft carriers.

“Aircraft carriers are instrumental to our national security,” said the Senators. “In the century since America’s first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley, was commissioned in Portsmouth, Virginia has continued to play a major role in building these ships. Every worker involved should be recognized for their contributions to our safety.”

The Senators’ resolution recognizes aircraft carriers as a powerful tool of the Navy that has furthered America’s interests. These ships have been integral to U.S. operations, from naval battles in the Pacific Ocean during World War II to joint force operations in the Middle East and present-day deterrence strategy in numerous locations around the world.

There are more than 2,450 companies in 48 states that contribute to the construction and maintenance of advanced military ships, including aircraft carriers, which are built at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Full text of the resolution is available here.

###

 

 

 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) and Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD) announced $120,145,016 in federal funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). This funding, awarded through the Department of Transportation (DOT), was authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) supported by the Senators and signed by President Joe Biden.

“One year ago, we voted to pass a historic piece of legislation to help strengthen our nation amid a global health and economic crisis. As we work to overcome the most recent challenges presented by the Omicron spike, we’re proud to see the American Rescue Plan continue to deliver needed support to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. This funding will help ensure that WMATA is able to meet the needs of its riders, including public servants, residents, and commuters in the DMV region,” said the Senators.

“We are thankful to our Congressional delegation as well as the Biden Administration for their support of WMATA’s grant application under the American Rescue Plan which provides Metro $120 million in operating funding and will support continued operations. These funds will be helpful in our continued preparation to keep the region moving as many reenter the workplace and resume leisure activities," said Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Weidefeld. 

ARP Additional Assistance Funding is awarded to transit systems demonstrating a need for additional assistance to cover operating expenses related to maintaining day-to-day operations, cleaning and sanitization, combating the spread of pathogens on transit systems and maintaining critical staffing levels. This funding is supplemental to the $1,406,707,926 in Federal Transit Authority (FTA) Urbanized Area Formula funds distributed through ARP.

###

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) led a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raising concerns regarding the potential use of cryptocurrency to evade sanctions, which have become even more urgent amid the sanctions imposed on Russia after their invasion of Ukraine. 

“We write to inquire about the Treasury Department’s progress in monitoring and enforcing sanctions compliance by the cryptocurrency industry and to express our concern that criminals, rogue states, and other actors may use digital assets and alternative payment platforms as a new means to hide cross-border transactions for nefarious purposes,” the senators wrote. “Given the need to ensure the efficacy and integrity of our sanctions program against Russia and other adversaries, we are seeking information on the steps Treasury is taking to enforce sanctions compliance by the cryptocurrency industry.”

The cryptocurrency industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with its market capitalization roughly tripling in 2021 to reach nearly $3 trillion. Recognizing the rapid growth of the market, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released its “Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry” last October, which outlines best practices for compliance and makes clear that all actors in the cryptocurrency space are “responsible for ensuring that they do not engage, directly or indirectly, in transactions prohibited by OFAC sanctions.” 

“Strong enforcement of sanctions compliance in the cryptocurrency industry is critical given that digital assets, which allow entities to bypass the traditional financial system, may increasingly be used as a tool for sanctions evasion,” the senators wrote.

There are growing concerns that Russia may use cryptocurrencies to circumvent the broad new sanctions it faces from the Biden administration and foreign governments in response to its invasion of Ukraine. This could include the use of dark web marketplaces that are powered by cryptocurrencies to move funds and conduct transactions; the use of crypto wallets and mixing services that allow sanctioned entities to transfer and hide their wealth; deployment of a digital ruble that would allow Russia to conduct foreign trade without converting their currency into dollars; and ransomware attacks that would allow Russian actors to recoup revenues lost to sanctions. Nearly three-quarters of all global ransomware revenue last year, or more than $400 million in cryptocurrency payments, is estimated to have gone to Russia-affiliated entities.

Moreover, when OFAC has brought enforcement actions against cryptocurrency industry participants, it has generally accorded substantial deference to mitigating factors in assessing penalties – even in cases where a company has not voluntarily self-disclosed apparent violations. This approach has yielded penalties that are orders of magnitude below even the base civil monetary penalties for violations.

“These reports are even more troubling because of analyses that suggest that the cryptocurrency industry may not be fulfilling its responsibility to comply with U.S. sanctions,” the senators continued. “We are concerned that OFAC has not developed sufficiently strong and effective procedures for enforcement in the cryptocurrency industry.”

The senators have requested responses to their questions no later than March 23, 2022. 

For full text of the letter click here.  

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine today sent a letter to President Biden recommending candidates for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In their letter, the Senators recommended Mr. Jamar Walker, who has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2015, and Judge Kevin Duffan, who has been a Circuit Court Judge on the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Virginia Beach, Virginia since April 2020.

“We are pleased to recommend Mr. Jamar Walker and Judge Kevin Duffan for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following the decision by Judge Raymond A. Jackson to take senior status effective November 23, 2021,” wrote the Senators. “Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation.”

Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on their distinguished records and the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth. The President will now nominate one individual for the vacancy to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

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

Dear Mr. President:

We are pleased to recommend Mr. Jamar Walker and Judge Kevin Duffan for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following the decision by Judge Raymond A. Jackson to take senior status effective November 23, 2021. Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation.

Mr. Walker has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2015 where he prosecutes financial and public corruption crimes. He began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge Jackson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. While an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Mr. Walker co-founded an office-wide Committee on Race, Policing, and Prosecution. He is a current member of the Old Dominion Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Association of Black Attorneys, and DOJ Pride. He was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and considers Tidewater his home. Together, these experiences qualify Mr. Walker for this nomination and we are honored to recommend him.

Judge Duffan has been a Circuit Court Judge on the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Virginia Beach, Virginia, since April 2020. Prior to joining the Circuit Court, Judge Duffan served as a judge in the Virginia Beach Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. Judge Duffan is engaged in the community and with young lawyers as a mentor. He has served on the Virginia Beach African American Cultural Center Board as Vice President, The Governor's School for the Arts Foundation Board, and was President-elect of the Virginia Beach Bar Association before ascending to the bench. These experiences give us confidence that Judge Duffan would make an excellent nominee for this seat.

Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.

###