Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $166,800 in federal grants and loans for the towns of Alberta, Pembroke, and Chatham to purchase four police vehicles and equipment through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development. 

“We’re pleased to support rural communities in Virginia with federal funding to purchase updated police vehicles and equipment. This funding will help ensure that police officers have the resources they need to ensure to keep residents safe,”the Senators said.

The following localities will receive funding as follows: 

  • The Town of Alberta will receive a grant of $24,000 and loan of $46,400 to purchase a new fully furnished 2018 Chevy Tahoe 4x4 police vehicle. Additional equipment including a computer, radio, and lighting equipment which will be compatible with the upgraded emergency services radio system being implemented by Brunswick County will also be installed. This project will serve the 298 residents of the town of Alberta.
  • The Town of Pembroke will receive a grant of $20,100 and loan of $37,400 to purchase two new properly equipped all wheel drive police vehicles. The new vehicles will replace two older high mileage vehicles in the fleet that are not safe and reliable. The 1,128 residents of Pembroke will benefit from the improved services and cost savings that these new police vehicles will provide.
  • The Town of Chatham will receive a grant of $13,600 and loan of $25,300 to replace one older car with a modern fully equipped police vehicle. Currently, the town is using older, high mileage vehicles that are unreliable. 

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

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine praised grant funding for communities in Southwest Virginia through the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)’s Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) program, totaling $3,417,315.

“We are thrilled to support this economic investment in Southwest Virginia. This funding aims to support projects that will spur economic opportunity and create jobs across the region,” the Senators said. 

The funding will be awarded as follows: 

  • Virginia Community Capital in Christiansburg, VA will receive $2,500,000 to strengthen Central Appalachia’s economy and accelerate market development through Impact Appalachia: A Market-Making Fund for Central Appalachia. The funding will be used to support business development and advance emerging sectors in Central Appalachia, including communities in Virginia. Impact Appalachia will launch an investment fund to raise and deploy capital to expand infrastructure and invest in job-creating businesses that build local wealth and increase quality jobs.
  • LENOWISCO Planning District Commission in Duffield, VA will receive $917,315 for Project Intersection, a new 200-acre industrial site in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. LENOWISCO will partner with Norton Industrial Development Authority and Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority to develop the site into a regional industrial and business hub. The goal is to foster diversification and rejuvenation of the regional economy and lure private investment as well as new employment opportunities. Estimates suggest that the initial phase of development will create 75 jobs and an initial private capital investment of $10 million. Project Intersection is situated at the junction of U.S. Highways 23 and 58A, with the highest cumulative non-Interstate traffic volume in far Southwest Virginia.

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated more than 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic under development. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Warner and Kaine have continued to be advocates for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia. As Governor, Warner helped establish Virginia Community Capital (VCC) as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with an initial $15 million investment, with the goal of leveraging that initial investment for an economic return to underserved areas.

The ARC’s POWER Initiative provides grants to communities that have been affected by severe job losses in the coal industry and the changing dynamics of America’s energy production. These grants facilitate the growth of new industries in Appalachia and support job training and educational programs that help grow and diversify the region’s economy.

 

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Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), joined by 20 of their colleagues, sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging President Trump to raise Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and distinguished journalist, has been missing since October 2nd when he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. According to some reports, Mr. Khashoggi may have been murdered.   

“These conflicting reports and rampant speculation that he was murdered demand immediate answers from both Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We urge you to extend support from all appropriate U.S. federal agencies, such as the FBI, to these governments to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s case,” the Members wrote

“We sincerely hope that Mr. Khashoggi emerges unharmed and is free to return safely to the United States, especially given the growing and deeply troubling trend of targeting journalists and oppositionists, not only in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but around the world,” the Members added. “The U.S. must speak out loudly wherever and whenever this occurs.”

Connolly, Kaine, and Warner were joined on the letter by Representatives Beyer, Castro, Chabot, Cicilline, Delbene, Deutch, Dingell, Engel, Espaillat, Hastings, Lieu, McCaul, Meadows, Meeks, Price, Raskin, Schneider, Sherman, Sires, and Suozzi.

The full letter follows and is available here.

 

 

October 9, 2018

 

The President

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President,

 

We write to urge you to personally raise the issue of Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and welfare with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We also request that you offer U.S. support to any independent investigation into his disappearance.

 

As you know, Mr. Khashoggi is an internationally renowned journalist and columnist for the Washington Post. In fact, Mr. Khashoggi was granted an O-1 visa, which is reserved for those with “extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics…indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”

 

On October 2, 2018, Mr. Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in order to obtain paperwork related to his upcoming marriage. Reportedly, there has been no confirmation that he departed the consulate though Saudi officials maintain that Mr. Khashoggi did so shortly after he visited.  According to President Erdogan, the Justice Ministry and the chief prosecutor in Istanbul are undertaking an investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s whereabouts. 

 

These conflicting reports and rampant speculation that he was murdered demand immediate answers from both Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We urge you to extend support from all appropriate U.S. federal agencies, such as the FBI, to these governments to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s case. We sincerely hope that Mr. Khashoggi emerges unharmed and is free to return safely to the United States, especially given the growing and deeply troubling trend of targeting journalists and oppositionists, not only in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but around the world. The U.S. must speak out loudly wherever and whenever this occurs. 

 

Best Regards,

 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded Senate passage of the bipartisanAmerica’s Water Infrastructure Act. The final legislation included key projects for Virginia championed by Warner and Kaine, including authorization for a project to deepen and widen channels in and around Norfolk Harbor and to initiate new flood-resilience projects for Tangier Island and the broader Coastal Virginia region.

“From defending Virginia’s coastal communities against sea level rise, to funding key water infrastructure projects that boost our economic competitiveness, this bill is good for Virginia and good for our country,” the Senators said. “Throughout our travels on Virginia’s coast, we’ve heard from leaders concerned about the impacts of sea level rise and recurrent flooding, and this legislation builds on our efforts to respond to the urgent need to protect treasured pillars of Virginia’s economy. We’re pleased that our colleagues supported Virginia provisions we pushed for and we’re proud that we were able to find common ground to address challenges facing our communities.”    

Water infrastructure bills are often known as Water Resources Development Acts (WRDAs). America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, this year’s version of the bill, supports maritime infrastructure priorities such as dredging waterways and channels, protecting communities from flooding, and restoring key ecosystems like the Chesapeake Bay. The legislation will also help repair aging drinking water, wastewater, and irrigation systems. 

Virginia priorities that the Senators pushed for in the legislation include:

  • Norfolk Harbor and Channels Widening and Deepening—A provision that authorizes the deepening and widening of federal navigation channels in and around Norfolk Harbor—including the deepening of the main Norfolk Harbor Channel to 55 feet, the deepest draft currently authorized of any international port on the East Coast. This will allow the largest post-Panamax container ships to call on the Port of Virginia, bolstering its competitiveness with East Coast ports like New York/New Jersey and Savannah, GA. The deeper and wider channels will also support Navy and Coast Guard vessels and other commercial users of the port. This project is occurring in concert with other port infrastructure improvements, including the expansion of Norfolk International Terminals and Virginia International Gateway to provide a 40 percent increase in overall capacity; the modernization of the regional freight rail network; and the generational Craney Island Eastward Expansion that will add a new container terminal at the site of the Port of Virginia’s dredge fill facility. Last year, the Port of Virginia supported more than 4,000 jobs and $860 million in business investment in Virginia.
  • Provisions to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to generate detailed plans for Tangier Island and Coastal Virginia that reduce risk from sea level rise and recurrent flooding in these areas.

    • The Tangier Island Study Authority will evaluate ecosystem restoration, flood risk management, and navigation options that reduce the island’s critical vulnerability to erosion and flood damage. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that if immediate action is not taken, Tangier Island could be substantially uninhabitable within the next 50 years due to erosion, widely believed to be caused by sea level rise due to climate change. The island currently shrinks by 15 feet each year. 
    • The Coastal Virginia Water Resources Authority will look at options to reduce storm and flood damage and make coastal infrastructure and communities less vulnerable to flooding and shoreline erosion associated with sea level rise and climate change. This follows a previous study for the City of Norfolk.
  • A provision that grants conditional approval for the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management project pending an evaluation from the Army Corps, known as the “Chief’s Report.” The conditional approval would allow the city to start preconstruction design and engineering of the project ahead of formal authorization needed by Congress at a later date. This project would address roughly $1.5 billion of flood control needs in the City of Norfolk. Norfolk was one of nine focus areas on the East Coast identified in an analysis of regional flood resilience needs following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The Hampton Roads region faces a range of 1 ½ to as much as 7 feet in sea level rise by the year 2100.

Full text of the legislation can be found HERE.

 

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WASHINGTON —U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, joined a group of 12 Senate Democrats in demanding CFPB leadership to explain how Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Policy Director Eric Blankenstein was chosen to oversee supervision, enforcement, and fair lending issues given his past racist writings.

Last week, the Washington Post uncovered a 2004 blog where Blankenstein, under an alias, posted bigoted writings on race, hate crimes, and women. In his current role as Policy Director at CFPB, Blankenstein is charged with enforcing consumer protection laws, including laws in place to prevent lending discrimination. CFPB leadership has failed to condemn Mr. Blankenstein’s writings, and failed to explain how someone with Mr. Blankenstein’s views came to be charged with fair lending responsibilities.

“Mr. Blankenstein was not hired through the competitive service process like most CFPB employees; he is one of your hand-selected political appointees. Further, you have specifically tasked him with overseeing the CFPB’s fair lending supervision and enforcement work at a time when you have decided to restructure the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity.”the Senators wrote.  “It is unclear whether his appointment is due to a failure to investigate Mr. Blankenstein’s background prior to his appointment, Mr. Blankenstein withholding information from you and the CFPB, or an informed decision on your part to ignore his public comments.”

Joining Sen. Warner on the letter are U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT),  Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). 

In his role as a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Warner has advocated for policies that support the well-being of diverse communities. Earlier this year, he led an effort in the Senate to urge banking regulators to take steps that would strengthen access to credit for disadvantaged communities under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

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

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20552

Dear Mr. Mulvaney,

We are deeply concerned that you have placed a person with a history of racist writing at a senior position within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). 

The Washington Post reported last week that Eric Blankenstein, a political appointee that you chose to oversee supervision, enforcement, and fair lending, wrote under an alias in defense of the use of racial slurs, and claimed without evidence that the majority of reported hate crimes were hoaxes. When confronted with his past writing on these and other subjects, Mr. Blankenstein acknowledged his authorship, but failed to denounce his writings. Only after an outcry from CFPB career staff did Mr. Blankenstein send a note apologizing for the “framing” and “tone” of his arguments – but he did not apologize for his defense of racial slurs, nor did he apologize for reflexively disbelieving victims of hate crimes. 

Mr. Blankenstein was not hired through the competitive service process like most CFPB employees; he is one of your hand-selected political appointees. Further, you have specifically tasked him with overseeing the CFPB’s fair lending supervision and enforcement work at a time when you have decided to restructure the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity. It is unclear whether his appointment is due to a failure to investigate Mr. Blankenstein’s background prior to his appointment, Mr. Blankenstein withholding information from you and the CFPB, or an informed decision on your part to ignore his public comments.

In order to ensure that the CFPB is fulfilling its fair lending mandate and thoroughly evaluating senior employees with fair lending responsibilities, it is critical for us to understand how someone with Mr. Blankenstein’s views was charged with this particular set of duties.

Please respond to the following requests no later than October 22, 2018.

1)      Were you personally aware of any of the writings referenced in The Washington Post article prior to hiring Mr. Blankenstein?

a.      If not, did you ask Mr. Blankenstein whether he had written anything that would reflect poorly on the CFPB or indicate that he was not an appropriate candidate for this role prior to extending an offer of employment? Did he respond verbally or in writing to any inquiry about past public statements?

b.      If so, how were you made aware of the writings? Why did you believe it was still appropriate to hire Mr. Blankenstein to oversee supervision, enforcement and fair lending?

2)      Please describe your process for identifying potential candidates for political appointment to senior CFPB positions and provide all written guidelines and procedures related to identifying potential candidates for appointment as senior CFPB officials. 

a.      Was Mr. Blankenstein recommended to you by a Member of Congress, a federal employee, or a person or entity subject to CFPB oversight?

b.      Were all established guidelines and procedures adhered to during your search for candidates to fill this position? Were any other candidates considered for this position?

3)      Please describe your process for vetting candidates for political appointment to senior CFPB positions, provide all written guidelines and procedures related to the performance of background checks or other due diligence, and specify whether such background checks include investigations into statements on social media, websites, or in other public forums.

a.      Were all established guidelines related to background checks or other due diligence adhered to in evaluating Mr. Blankenstein’s appointment? Have they been adhered to for all CFPB political appointments during your tenure?

b.      As part of any background check or other due diligence, was Mr. Blankenstein asked about past statements on social media, websites, or other public forums? If so, did Mr. Blankenstein properly disclose the above referenced writings? 

4)      Does Mr. Blankenstein have the confidence and support of the enforcement and fair lending staff he oversees? Will you further investigate Mr. Blankenstein’s past writings, and do you intend to take action if you find more troubling statements?

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following joint statement on the Department of Justice’s indictment of seven Russian GRU officers for international hacking and disinformation operations:

“Today’s charges further highlight the illegal and aggressive tactics Russia uses to undermine international institutions and wage disinformation campaigns. In recent years, Russia has reportedly hacked or attempted to hack democratic elections, the Olympics, the power grid in Ukraine, and now the international organization that investigates the illegal use of chemical weapons. As Justice Department officials stated today, these actions are part of a criminal conspiracy and are wholly unacceptable. We commend the Department of Justice and our Dutch and British allies on the steps they’ve taken to hold Russia accountable. Collectively, we will continue to combat Russia’s illegal activities and make clear that this reckless and belligerent behavior will not be tolerated.”

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WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS) now has the support of over 100 groups, adding momentum to a bill that has 32 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate and is supported by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and the Trump Administration. The Restore Our Parks Act passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on a bipartisan 19-4 vote earlier this week. The bill will now be referred to the full Senate. 

National Association of Counties: “Our National Park System serves as the crown jewel of our national conservation legacy. We must ensure that future generations can see and appreciate our rich natural history, and to learn more about the people and lands that have shaped us as a nation. Counties urge Congress to enact S. 3172 to protect our national parks, and ensure we continue to provide the best outdoor recreation and conservation experience in the world.”

National Parks Conservation Association: “The importance of preserving our history, culture and public lands is something we can all agree on. Tackling the deferred maintenance in our national parks is not a political issue but an American one, and all who are supporting this important legislation recognize that. We commend the dedication and leadership of Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King for working to push this important bill through congress, and making a strong investment in our national parks.” 

The Pew Charitable Trusts: “Key committees in the Senate and House of Representatives have given their bipartisan stamp of approval to legislation to fix our aging and deteriorating national parks. With strong bipartisan support for our parks not only on Capitol Hill but in communities across the nation, Congress should act now to get the legislation over the finish line this year.”

US Travel: “Our national parks are a huge attraction for visitors from all over the world. Not only are our national parks environmental treasures, but they are also an incredible economic engine for our country. In 2017 alone, the national parks generated $18 billion in economic demand, supporting thousands of local jobs and businesses. The Restore Our Parks Act, would help protect our National Parks for future generations by investing in their maintenance. We applaud Sen. Portman and bill supporters for ensuring our parks can be accessed and enjoyed well into the future.”  

America Outdoors Association: “On behalf of hundreds of outfitters who are members of our respective organizations, we are writing to express our support for S. 3172, The Restore Our Parks Act. The fund established by this Act will cover about half of the $11.6 billion in deferred National Park maintenance of trails, visitor centers, campgrounds, water and sewer, and visitor facilities backlogs. It will create a dedicated fund that may be used by the NPS year after year without further appropriation to enable the planning and completion of multi-year projects.” 

The Outdoor Industry Association: “OIA applauds this bipartisan effort to solve the National Park Service backlog issue and appreciates the dedication of Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King to this effort. The backlog impacts the recreation economy and Americans’ ability to explore and enjoy their public lands. As we know, and passage of bills like the Restore Our Parks Act out of committee shows, the health and vitality of America’s public lands system is a bipartisan issue that unites us. We look forward to continued progress and appreciate the Senate bill Sponsors’ focus on the critical infrastructure that supports the growing $887 billion outdoor recreation economy.”

The Corps Network: “We applaud the Senate’s work on this bipartisan legislation to address the multi-billion maintenance backlog plaguing the National Park Service. We welcome support of the Secretary of the Interior to move these issues forward and bring them much needed attention.”

National Trust for Historic Preservation: “We strongly endorse the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act (S. 3172) introduced by Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King that we believe makes a substantial and meaningful investment in our national parks. Further, we are pleased the legislation provides dedicated funding financed by unobligated federal mineral revenues in such a way that allocations to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Historic Preservation Fund are not impacted. The National Trust is a strong supporter of both these programs and believes that both should receive the dedicated funding they have long been promised.”

Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks: “The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks supports S. 3172, the Restore Our Parks Act, which is a bipartisan effort led by Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King to establish a fund to address the deferred maintenance backlog of the National Park Service.”  

The following groups support the Restore Our Parks Act: The Pew Charitable Trusts, National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, U.S. Travel Association, National Association of Counties, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Planning Association, Outdoor Industry Association, The Mission Continues, Public Lands Alliance, Vista Outdoor, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Southeast Tourism Society, The Corps Network, RV Industry Association, Land Improvement Contractors of America, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, American Forests , American Hiking Society , International Inbound Travel Association , National Park Hospitality Association , Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Student Conservation Association , United States Tour Operators Association, Western States Tourism Policy Council, National Association of Women in Construction, American Segmental Bridge Institute, Outdoor Research, American Foundry Society, American Mountain Guides Association, The Chickasaw Nation, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Skal International USA, National Asphalt Pavement Association, The Associated General Contractors of America, National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, American Cultural Resources Association, American Anthropological Association, Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Delaware North Parks& Resorts, Historic Tours of America, Hornblower Cruisers and Events, Forever Resorts, American Society of Landscape Architects, American Institute of Architects, American Battlefield Trust, National Marine Manufacturing Association, Sierra Club, Evangelical Environmental Network, New Mexico Business Coalition, Friends of Acadia, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Atomic Heritage Foundation, Friends of Fort McHenry, Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, The Shenandoah National Park Trust, Timucuan Parks Foundation, Voyageurs National Park Association, Washington’s National Park Fund, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Orange County Taxpayers Association, Montana Contractors' Association, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Conservation Northwest, Dade Historic Trust, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Tourism Association, Maine Innkeepers Association, Maine Restaurant Association, Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association, Alger County Chamber of Commerce, REI, Greater Munising Bay Partnership for Commerce Development, Munising Downtown Development Authority, Raton Chamber of Commerce, Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Dayton Development Coalition, Ohio Cast Metals Association, Associated Builders and Contractors - Northern Ohio Chapter, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555, Visit Bend, Central Oregon LandWatch, Columbia Pacific Building Trades, Texas Society of Architects, Associated Heating-Plumbing-Cooling Contractors of Texas, Washington's National Park Fund, Washington Wild, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Wisconsin Counties Association, Friends of the Mississippi River, Recreation Northwest, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, American Society of Landscape Architects – Florida, Pacific NW Regional Council of Carpenters, Orange County Business Council, North Orange Council Chamber of Commerce, Washington Trails Association, California Asphalt Pavement Association, The Conservation Alliance , California Parks Company, Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Fort Sumter Tours, Redwood Parks Company, Gettysburg Tours, TRF Concession Specialists of Florida, Grand Teton Lodge Company, Fresno Chamber of Commerce, Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce, The Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau.

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

Virginia contains 22 national parks and affiliated areas that are spread throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, the Park Service maintains over 120 National Historic Landmarks throughout Virginia, including Mount Vernon, Montpelier, Monticello, and the State Capitol Building. In 2017, over 24 million individuals from around the world visited national parks in Virginia, spending over $1 billion. National parks in Virginia helped support more than 15,000 jobs and contributed over $1.4 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy.  

For more information on the Restore Our Parks Act or for a list of NPS operated sites in Virginia, click here. 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,425,864 in federal funding will be awarded to Virginia Commonwealth University through the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher and Leader Preparation and Professional Development Grant Program. Warner and Kaine had written in support of VCU receiving the funding, which will be used to recruit, prepare, license, and retain teachers in high-need school districts as well as strengthen the teaching of mathematics and science.

“Teacher shortages have plagued schools in Richmond and across Virginia, but it’s a problem we can solve. We’re thrilled VCU has shown a commitment to this important endeavor through partnerships with high-need school districts and we believe this funding will assist them in helping the entire community,” the Senators said.

Warner and Kaine each wrote to the U. S. Department of Education in support of Virginia Commonwealth University’s application for federal grant funding.

Teacher shortages have affected students across Virginia.  In July, Kaine introduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act to address teacher and principal shortages in underserved communities and ensure that there are enough teachers and principals with the right skills and tools to educate students and prepare them for the future. Warner has also introduced the bipartisan Teacher and School Leaders need Education and Development to be Empowered Resources in Schools (LEADER) Act to improve and support programs that recruit, select, and train educators who aspire to fill leadership roles in high-need schools.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded $1,052,562 in grant funding to help bolster school security and provide training to students and faculty. The funds will also support law enforcement officers and first responders who arrive on the scene of a school violence incident. The grants were made available through DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ (COPS) School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP).

“We are pleased that Virginia schools have received these grants to help improve campus safety,” said the Senators. “These federal funds will help train students on how to respond in violent situations and provide additional resources for faculty and local law enforcement.”

Under today’s announcement, the following Virginia communities will receive funding:

  • Bedford County: $91,124
  • Chesterfield County: $500,000
  • Hanover County: $75,188
  • City of Virginia Beach: $386,250

These grants are authorized by the STOP School Violence Act, and are intended to improve school security by helping students and teachers reduce exposure to risks, prevent acts of violence, and quickly recognize and respond to violent attacks. The School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) is a competitive award program designed to provide funding to improve security at schools and on school grounds in the jurisdiction of the grantee through evidence-based school safety programs. For more information on this program, click here. 

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service (NPS) cleared a major legislative hurdle. The Restore Our Parks Act, which is cosponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Angus King (I-ME), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on a bipartisan 19-4 vote. The consensus proposal is the product of bipartisan discussions among the senators who had previously introduced bills to address the Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog. The bipartisan bill, which will now be referred to the full Senate, is supported by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Outdoor Industry Association, and dozens of additional conservation and recreation organizations. 

“For over a year, I’ve led bipartisan efforts in the Senate to address the state of disrepair of critical infrastructure in the National Park System. It’s alarming the rate at which the maintenance backlog at the Park Service continues to grow, with Virginia adding $250 million in the last year, surpassing a billion dollars and ranking third among all states in total deferred maintenance,” said Sen. Warner. “We can no longer wait to fix the $12 billion maintenance backlog at our national parks and ignore the long-term effects of allowing these national treasures to simply crumble. I’m very pleased that the bipartisan, consensus bill we introduced earlier this year has now cleared this important hurdle and look forward to working with my colleagues from across the aisle and the Administration to make sure it becomes law.” 

“Today’s committee approval is good news and an important step forward in our efforts to address the long-delayed maintenance projects at our national parks,” Sen. Portman said.  “For more than a century, the National Park Service has been inspiring Americans to explore the natural beauty of our country.  But in order to keep that work going, we need to ensure that they have sufficient resources to maintain our national parks. This bipartisan legislation will help tackle the more than $100 million maintenance backlog at Ohio’s eight national park sites. I’d like to thank Senators Warner, Alexander, and King as well as the cosponsors of this legislation for their leadership on this issue and urge my colleagues to support it when it comes to the floor.”

“Rebuilding National Parks infrastructure has been at the top of my priority list since before I was even sworn in to office. I'm happy to see the Restore our Parks Act pass with such strong bipartisan support. We have 417 national parks across the country, unfortunately we also have a $12 billion backlog in maintenance needs spanning everything from roads and bridges to visitors centers and restrooms. Thanks to Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander, and King national parks are one step closer to getting the vital funding they need to rebuild the aging infrastructure,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

The importance of preserving our history, culture and public lands is something we can all agree on,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association. “Tackling the deferred maintenance in our national parks is not a political issue but an American one, and all who are supporting this important legislation recognize that. We commend the dedication and leadership of Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King for working to push this important bill through congress, and making a strong investment in our national parks.”

"Key committees in the Senate and House of Representatives have given their bipartisan stamp of approval to legislation to fix our aging and deteriorating national parks,” said Marcia Argust, who directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to restore America’s parks. “With strong bipartisan support for our parks not only on Capitol Hill but in communities across the nation, Congress should act now to get the legislation over the finish line this year.”

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

“Our nation’s parks can be key economic engines for many gateway counties across the country,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “With National Park Service infrastructure in need of repair, the visitor experience is diminished, and surrounding communities see declines in tourism. We thank Senators Portman, Warner, Alexander and King for sponsoring the Restore Our Parks Act. Counties urge action on this legislation to strengthen our national parks, support conservation and cultivate outdoor experiences that are second to none.” 

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

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

Virginia contains 22 national parks and affiliated areas that are spread throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, the Park Service maintains over 120 National Historic Landmarks throughout Virginia, including Mount Vernon, Montpelier, Monticello, and the State Capitol Building. In 2017, over 24 million individuals from around the world visited national parks in Virginia, spending over $1 billion. National parks in Virginia helped support more than 15,000 jobs and contributed over $1.4 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy.  

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

 

Full text of the bill can be found here.

 

VA National Park Deferred Maintenance as of 2017*

 

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

$1,998,224

Assateague Island NS

$2,774,577

Blue Ridge Parkway

$186,619,608

Booker T Washington National Monument

$1,370,913

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP

$327,072

Colonial National Historical Park

$421,872,932

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

$1,848,864

Fort Monroe National Monument

$2,280,548

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Battlefields Mem NMP

$10,371,731

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

$1,306,614

George Washington Memorial Parkway

$233,441,316

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

$64,760

Maggie L Walker National Historic Site

$531,648

Manassas National Battlefield Park

$6,516,560

Petersburg National Battlefield

$11,754,041

Prince William Forest Park

$18,619,932

Richmond National Battlefield Park

$6,581,205

Shenandoah National Park

$79,208,621

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

$31,149,289

Total

$1,018,629,457


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

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement on the announcement by Facebook that it discovered a security issue affecting almost 50 million accounts: 

“The news that at least 50 million Facebook users had their accounts compromised is deeply concerning. A full investigation should be swiftly conducted and made public so that we can understand more about what happened.  

“Today’s disclosure is a reminder about the dangers posed when a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax are able to accumulate so much personal data about individual Americans without adequate security measures. 

“This is another sobering indicator that Congress needs to step up and take action to protect the privacy and security of social media users. As I’ve said before – the era of the Wild West in social media is over.”  

To kick start the debate around social media legislation, Sen. Warner in July released a white paper containing a suite of potential policy proposals for the regulation of social media.


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced a total of $1,413,108 in federal funding for drug courts with the Northern Neck Regional Jail and in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.  The dollars are awarded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s FY 18 Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program. Fairfax and Loudoun County will each receive $500,000 and Northern Neck Regional Jail will receive $413,108 to support drug courts that integrate evidence-based substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and transitional services in a court setting to address opioid abuse reduction. 

“Tackling the substance abuse crisis requires a comprehensive strategy that addresses it from all angles including prevention, treatment, and recovery. This funding is crucial to supporting drug courts that mandate treatment services, enhance public safety, reduce crime and give those suffering from addiction a better chance at recovery,” the Senators said.  

In September, Warner and Kaine voted in support of legislation to dedicate $5.7 billion to combat substance abuse and played a critical role in the passage of a comprehensive opioid and substance abuse bill.

 

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) applauded passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2023. The bill also incorporates several provisions of the Safe DRONE Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Warner to advance the development of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and encourage American innovation and competitiveness.

“This compromise bill provides robust reforms that will allow further innovation in unmanned aircraft systems technology and advance research, providing a five-year extension of the FAA-designated test site at Virginia Tech. I’m also pleased that other major pieces of legislation I’ve introduced are part of the bill, which will promote the safe and responsible use of UAS technology while creating a pipeline of skilled workers in this transformative industry,” said Sen. Warner. “And once again, we have successfully prevented the addition of more slots at Reagan National, an effort that would have fundamentally undermined the balance among Northern Virginia’s airports and the economy that is based upon that balance.” 

The legislation includes a directive for the FAA to develop a plan for commercial package delivery by drone within a year. Current regulations prohibit carriage of property by drone for compensation or hire, a rule that stifles innovation and growth in this emerging industry. Authorizing the practice will unlock an important application of this technology by allowing companies to develop package delivery services. A 2015 report by the Teal Group, an aerospace and defense market analysis firm based in Fairfax, VA, estimated that UAS production accounts for more than $4 billion of total economic activity annually and is expected to grow to $14 billion annually by 2025, totaling $93 billion. The bill also includes language to codify the Department of Transportation’s UAS Integration Pilot Program, which was announced last fall and for which Virginia Tech was selected as a participant. Inclusion of this provision provides Congressional backing and formalizes the pilot program.

Provisions from Sen. Warner’s bipartisan Safe DRONE Act included in the FAA bill will:

  • Extend authorization of FAA-designed UAS test sites—including Virginia Tech—for five more years, through fiscal year 2023;
  • Advance the FAA’s development of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems and technology to assist with increased safe integration of UAS operations into the national airspace;
  • Require a multi-agency assessment of current spectrum demands and challenges for use by the UAS industry; and
  • Create a Center of Excellence for Community Colleges to offer training for UAS operations and maintenance to build a skilled workforce.

In addition, the FAA bill maintains the current High Density (“Slot”) and Perimeter rules at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, preserving the regional balance among Reagan, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Thurgood Marshall Baltimore Washington International Airport – a significant victory for the National Capital Region.

Other measures included in the FAA reauthorization legislation include:

  • Consumer Protections: The bill includes a requirement that FAA develop minimum standards for aircraft seat size, as well as a prohibition on involuntary bumping of passengers who have already boarded.
  • Geospatial Data Act: The bill includes bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Warner and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to improve coordination, reduce duplication, and increase data transparency in the acquisition of geospatial data.
  • Reauthorizations: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reauthorized for three years and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for four years.
  • Emergency appropriations: $1.68 billion of federal emergency funds for disaster and hurricane relief efforts.

Sen. Warner has been a strong supporter of research and investment in unmanned systems, including driverless cars, drones, and unmanned maritime vehicles. He has introduced bipartisan legislation designed to advance the development of UAS and build on the FAA’s efforts to safely integrate them into the National Airspace System. Virginia is home to one of seven FAA-approved sites across the country where researchers are testing the safest and most effective ways to incorporate UAS into the existing airspace – including the first-ever package delivery by drone to take place in the United States. The UAS test site at Virginia Tech has also developed a partnership with Google’s parent company to research package delivery using drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles.

In May 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) announced the selection of Virginia to participate in the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program.

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has approved $500,000 in grant funding for the Blue Ridge Discovery Center (BRDC), a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, discovering, and sharing the natural history of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The ARC funding will go towards renovating the former Luther Konnarock Training School that will serve as a location for educational programs centered on the biodiversity of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Within three years of the project’s completion, BRDC expects to host 95 programs that will serve nearly 4,000 participants and receive more than 2,500 visitors annually.

“Southwest Virginia is known for its biodiversity and abundance of natural resources,” said the Senators. “We are pleased to announce these federal dollars that will increase local tourism and continue to spur economic opportunity.”

ARC project grants are awarded to local and state government entities and non-profits. The ARC funds are then matched by local funding sources. In addition to the ARC funds, local sources will provide $1,750,000, bringing the total project funding to $2,250,000. 

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated more than 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Sens. Warner and Kaine have continued to advocate for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia.  

  

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today met in Washington, D.C. with Dr. David Ellena, Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Midlothian, Va., and the 2018 Virginia Principal of the Year. The recognition is given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals to outstanding middle and high school principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.  

Dr. Ellena earned the recognition as 2018 Virginia Principal of the Year for his innovative intervention program for struggling students. The system involves administrators creating a biweekly report of students with Ds and Fs, meeting with each student individually, and then establishing a study and organization plan moving forward. The program has helped reduce the number of failures at Tomahawk Creek Middle School and assisted in severely limiting the number of retentions in each grade level. Dr. Ellena also spearheaded the development of a makerspace at Tomahawk Creek Middle, where students have designed and 3D-printed everything from prosthetic hands to drones. His commitment to project-based and service learning enhances students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills, and further enriches their educational experience. 

“Guiding our students and ensuring they are equipped with all the tools to succeed is no small task. Educators who go above and beyond to help all students achieve academic excellence – like Dr. Ellena – deserve not only our gratitude, but our full support,” said Sen. Warner. “I was glad to have the opportunity to hear directly from such an outstanding administrator about the ways the federal government can make sure teachers everywhere have the resources they need to help students thrive inside and outside of the classroom. Congratulations to Dr. Ellena for earning this well-deserved recognition.”

Dr. Ellena has been in public education for more than 30 years. He started as a physical education teacher in 1985 and has served as principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle for five years. He is active in the Virginia Association of Secondary Schools Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, having served on the board of directors for both organizations. 

“It’s wonderful to be able to speak with legislators like Sen. Warner to make sure we’ve got the resources we need and that our kids need, especially the kids who need it the most,” Principal Ellena said. “We’ve got 12 middle schools in Chesterfield, and it’s so important that we have federal support for special education, teacher recruitment and training, and well-rounded education that includes arts, social sciences, and STEM education.”

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), introduced bipartisan legislation to establish new quality measures that would improve treatment for Americans battling opioid and substance addiction. Quality measures help establish national standards of care, used by health care professionals, when treating illnesses, diseases, cancer or other national health epidemics.  

In order to break the cycle of addiction, patients seeking treatment must have access to quality care that is proven to be safe and effective. However, a lack of standard quality measures for opioid and abuse treatment has led to gaps in care for patients suffering from addiction. In order to address this problem, the Addiction Treatment Quality Improvement Act would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to work with a coalition of healthcare providers to identify treatment gaps. Most importantly, the legislation will require CMS to develop a plan to eliminate the identified treatment gaps to ensure the best course of treatment for patients to overcome their addiction. 

“The national opioid crisis has affected every corner of our nation. In order to address this national health epidemic that has claimed too many lives, we need to make sure that Americans seeking help have access to safe and effective treatment,” said Sen. Warner.

“One of the most effective ways to reverse the tide of the opioid epidemic is to make sure those battling addiction receive quality care. Addiction exists everywhere. So should the battle to end it. This bipartisan legislation directs federal agencies to develop nationwide quality measures to prevent gaps in care and ensure a level of consistency in care for patients across the country,” said Sen. Grassley. 

“The opioid crisis is wreaking havoc on communities in Florida and nationwide,” said Sen. Nelson. “This bill aims to help those addicted get the best course of treatment.”

“APTA supports this important legislation that will gather meaningful data related to the opioid crisis, and support measure development, implementation, and alignment,” said Justin Elliott, Vice President of Government Affairs at American Physical Therapy Association.

“Patients need to know their care is safe and effective and this bill will identify opportunities to best assess and improve quality.  I applaud Senators Warner and Grassley for their leadership and continued commitment to drive quality improvement for the millions Americans and their loved ones affected by this tragic epidemic,” said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, President and CEO, National Quality Forum. 

“In addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, the actions we take must be effective and evidence-based.  The Addiction Treatment Quality Improvement Act is an essential step in ensuring that the resources devoted to opioid and substance use disorders are making a difference.  Senators Warner and Grassley are making an important contribution toward solving this public health challenge.  We applaud their efforts and support this legislation,” said Mary R. Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council.  

In the Senate, Sen. Warner has been working on ways to combat the opioid crisis that has had a devastating effect for communities in Virginia. Last week, the Senate passed a funding bill that includes $5.7 billion to respond to the opioid crisis. In addition, the Senate passed a comprehensive opioid package that includes four of Sen. Warner’s proposals to expand the use of telehealth services for substance abuse treatment and improve data sharing on substance use disorders.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has approved $392,588 in grant funding to the Town of Narrows, Va.

 The ARC funding will go towards a series of projects designed to improve the waterfront business district, including the development of a new multi-use 1,425 linear trail along Wolf Creek that will generate increased revenues to ten local businesses. Additionally, the funding will also help the town acquire a vacant warehouse to establish an outfitter post to spur recreational tourism.

“Southwest Virginia is known for its wide variety of outdoor recreation activities, which are an important economic driver for the region,” said the Senators. “We are pleased to announce these federal dollars that will increase local tourism and continue to spur economic opportunity.”

ARC project grants are awarded to local and state government entities and non-profits. The ARC funds are then matched by local funding sources. In addition to the ARC funds, local sources will provide $392,775, bringing the total project funding to $785,363. 

Since its inception in 1965, ARC has generated more than 300,000 jobs and $10 billion for the 25 million Americans living in Appalachia. ARC has provided funding and support for job-creating community projects across the 13 Appalachian states, producing an average of $204 million in annual earnings for a region often challenged by economic underdevelopment. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed eliminating the program entirely. Sens. Warner and Kaine have continued to advocate for a fully funded ARC so that it can continue to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia.    

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WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Novak for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.  

“We are pleased to recommend Ms. Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Novak for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division following Judge Henry E. Hudson’s decision to take senior status in June. Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation,” the Senators said.

Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth as well as feedback from numerous bar associations in Virginia. The White House will now nominate one individual for the position to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

Full text of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division letter is available here.

 

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PROVIDENCE FORGE, VA – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) attended the 67th annual Chickahominy Pow Wow over the weekend to celebrate the tribe's recently secured federal recognition. Sens. Warner and Tim Kaine, as well as Rep. Rob Wittman, passed legislation in January finally granting the tribe recognition centuries after the Chickahominy and five other Virginia tribes first made contact with  English settlers. Sen. Warner participated in the Pow Wow Grand Entry, a ceremony honoring veterans in attendance, and greeted the crowd of several hundred, alongside Chickahominy Chief Stephen R. Adkins, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Del. Lamont Bagby, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson and other local officials.

“It should not have taken 341 years to get federal recognition for the Chickahominy people, but I'm glad to be here celebrating this long overdue victory,” said Sen. Warner. “All of Virginia's tribes pay such respect to our country and to our veterans, and it was a moral slight that they did not have this recognition until this year. The day when Chief Adkins and the other chiefs of Virginia's tribes sat in the Senate gallery as we won federal recognition was one of my proudest days this year.”

"The Chickahominy are a sovereign nation within these United States," said Chief Adkins. "Federal recognition wouldn't have happened without Sen. Warner, Sen. Kaine, Congressman Wittman, their staffs and many others who worked on this bill. But as Sen. Warner remarked, there was a spiritual atmosphere in the Senate on the day the recognition bill passed. All of us know what that spirit is. So praise God, the Creator was on our side."

The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act was signed into law on January 29, 2018, after decades of bipartisan efforts by Virginia’s elected officials. Sens. Warner and Kaine secured final passage of the bill earlier that month. Six Virginia tribes—the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond— now have the federal recognition they have waited centuries for. Many of these tribes include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. These tribes had received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but had not received federal recognition, which will grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.

This federal recognition allows Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it allows tribes to:

  • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
  • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
  • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

For more information on the Chickahominy Pow Wow, you can visit the Chickahominy Tribe's website.

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WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia will receive $6,349,505 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combat the opioid epidemic. The funds will help Virginia communities combat this crisis by expanding access to quality substance use disorder and mental health services, including in rural populations. 

 “Communities across the Commonwealth have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid abuse that continues to spread across the country,” said the Senators. “These funds will help Virginia stem the alarming rise in overdose deaths and increase prevention and treatment efforts that will help save lives.”

The opioid epidemic has devastated many communities across Virginia. In 2017, the Virginia Department of Health estimated that 1,445 people died in Virginia as a result of a fentanyl, heroin, or prescription opioid overdose. Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in Virginia, surpassing car accidents and gun violence.

Last week, the Senators voted in support of a funding bill that provides approximately $5.7 billion to respond to the opioid crisis by developing non-opioid pain medication, and behavioral health workforce training. Sens. Warner and Kaine also celebrated the passage of a comprehensive opioid substance abuse bill that included their own previously introduced legislation.

The full list of grant awardees is below:

GRANTEE

CITY 

TOTAL 

Neighborhood Health

Alexandria

$285,000

Urban Strategies LLC

Arlington

$200,000

Blue Ridge Medical Center Inc.

Arrington

$285,000

One Care Of Southwest Virginia, Inc.             

Cedar Bluff

$200,000

Free Clinic Of The New River Valley Inc.

Christiansburg

$285,000

Piedmont Access To Health Services Inc.

Danville

$285,000

Clinch River Health Services, Inc.

Dungannon

$210,000

Harrisonburg Community Health Center, Inc.

Harrisonburg

$285,000

St Charles Health Council Inc.

Jonesville

$329,250

Tri-Area Community Health

Laurel Fork

$285,000

Rockbridge Area Free Clinic

Lexington

$257,371

Johnson Health Center

Madison Heights

$285,000

Martinsville Henry County Coalition For Health And Wellness

Martinsville

$217,644

Highland Medical Center

Monterey

$224,500

Central Virginia Health Services, Inc.

New Canton

$206,750

Peninsula Institute For Community Health, Inc.

Newport News

$285,000

Portsmouth Community Health Center, Inc.

Portsmouth

$285,000

Daily Planet Inc.

Richmond

$297,500

Richmond, City Of

Richmond

$285,000

Kuumba Community Health & Wellness Center, Inc.

Roanoke

$186,133

Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems, Inc.

Saltville

$237,773

Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance

Tappahannock

$200,000

Greater Prince William Area Community Health Center, Inc.

Woodbridge

$285,000

Virginia Department of Health

Richmond

$200,000

 

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WASHINGTON— Thanks to bipartisan legislation authored and passed into law by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Virginia consumers will be able to freeze and unfreeze their credit files for free, beginning today. 

The free credit freezes – which experts say are one of the best tools available to protect against identity theft – are the result of a provision included in a bipartisan bill Sen. Warner wrote and introduced to boost economic growth and protect Virginia consumers. After five years of bipartisan negotiations that Sen. Warner helped lead, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law by President Trump in May. Following a series of high-profile data breaches that have exposed consumers’ personal and financial information, the bill includes a provision requiring all three major credit agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to allow consumers to freeze their credit for no fee.

 “Credit freezes are one of the best ways that consumers can protect themselves against identity theft that could hurt their credit scores,” said Sen. Warner. “Good credit is essential if you want to buy a house, get a small business loan, or simply apply for a new credit card. Free credit freezes give consumers a new tool to protect themselves against criminals seeking to steal their identity.”

A security freeze makes it harder for criminals to use stolen information to open fraudulent accounts or borrow money using a stolen identity. Previously, credit bureaus charged as much as $10 per bureau to place a freeze on a consumer’s credit file. A similar fee would also be charged to temporarily remove the freeze if a consumer wanted to apply for new credit.  As a result, one study by the AARP found that fewer than 15 percent of American adults have ordered a security freeze on their credit more than a year after an enormous data breach at Equifax exposed the personal information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, driver’s license numbers and other sensitive details, of about 148 million Americans, or nearly half the U.S. population.

With the provision in the law going into effect today, the three nationwide credit agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – must each set up a webpage for requesting fraud alerts and credit freezes. To place a credit freeze on their accounts, consumers will need to contact all three credit bureaus. The Federal Trade Commission has also posted links to those webpages on IdentityTheft.gov. Freezing prevents activity that could impact a consumer’s credit score – such as fraudulent loans taken out by someone who has stolen your identity. 

Under the new law, parents can also freeze their children’s credit report. Because children generally have a clean credit slate, they are especially valuable for identity thieves; according to research, more than 1 million children were victims of identity theft last year, and two-thirds of them were age 7 or younger. Experian has estimated that one in four minors will be a victim of identity theft before reaching adulthood. 

In addition to providing free credit freezes and unfreezes, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act included provisions to: 

  • Protect consumers’ credit by extending the duration of a fraud alert on a consumer’s credit report from 90 days to one year. A fraud alert requires businesses that check a consumer’s credit to get the consumer’s approval before opening a new account.
  • Provide free credit monitoring for all active-duty service members.
  • Protect the credit ratings of veterans wrongly penalized by medical bill payment delays by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  • Protect seniors by extending immunity from liability to certain people who disclose suspected exploitation of seniors.
  • Protect consumers from cyber security threats by requiring the Treasury Department to submit a report to Congress on the risks of cyber threats to financial institutions and the U.S. capital markets.

Sen. Warner’s bill is also providing needed relief for community banks and credit unions so they can support consumers in small and rural Virginia communities, where regulations designed for big banks have made it harder for small lenders to provide mortgages or loans to expand small businesses and family farms.                                                                                                                   

Sen. Warner has also written legislation that would hold large credit reporting agencies like Equifax accountable for data breaches involving consumer data. The Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act, which Sen. Warner introduced along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) back in January, would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) more authority to enforce data security and assess financial penalties on credit bureaus if they fail to adequately protect consumer data against theft. The bill has been referred to the Senate Banking Committee, of which Sen. Warner is a member.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in requesting that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate a decision by the General Services Administration (GSA), made at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to rescind a long-studied proposal for consolidation of the FBI Headquarters at a new facility in either Springfield, VA, Greenbelt, MD or Landover, MD. Specifically, the Senators are asking DOJ to examine the extent to which President Trump and the White House were involved in the abrupt decision to reverse course on plans for the FBI consolidation project, and whether that involvement was appropriate. 

Warner and Kaine have for years worked with the Maryland Senators as well as the bipartisan Virginia delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives to secure funding for a new FBI headquarters to replace the current, deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington D.C., which was built in 1974. In 2014, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced that a site in Springfield, VA was one of three finalists for a consolidated HQ that would house all 11,000 area FBI employees, who are currently scattered across multiple sites in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. However, in July 2017, the Trump Administration abruptly backed away from more than five years of government preparations to relocate the FBI HQ, announcing instead in February 2018 plans to demolish the existing FBI headquarters in Washington and build a new facility in its place.  

“Many resources have been devoted over the last decade to this project for which there is consensus that the FBI’s existing Headquarters building is in serious disrepair and must be replaced,” the Senators wrote. “Despite reaching significant milestones in this process, earlier this year, the GSA reversed course and revised its plan for the FBI Headquarters consolidation project. This announcement was met with much confusion and skepticism.” 

The Senators continued, “In light of the [GSA] IG’s findings, we believe it is critical that your office conduct an investigation into the decision-making process the FBI used to produce the revised plan for consolidation of the FBI Headquarters, as well as the extent to which influence from or communications with the White House impacted this process.”

The Senators’ request follows a formal review of the GSA’s decision-making process by the GSA Inspector General that found that a GSA Administrator’s testimony before the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee may have been misleading with regard to the White House’s involvement in the project. The review also found discrepancies in the cost comparisons between previous cost estimates and the revised plan for consolidation.

A copy of the letter can be found here, and the full text of the letter is below:

 

 

September 20, 2018

 

The Honorable Michael Horowitz

Inspector General 

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20530-0001 

 

Dear Mr. Horowitz,

 

We write today to request that you initiate an audit of the recent decision by the General Services Administration (GSA), made at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to rescind a long-studied proposal for consolidation of the FBI Headquarters.  Specifically, we ask that you examine the extent to which President Trump and the White House were involved in the abrupt decision to reverse course on plans for the FBI consolidation project, and whether that involvement was appropriate. 

 

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report stating “the FBI’s headquarters facilities—the Hoover Building and the headquarters annexes—do not fully support the FBI’s long-term security, space, and building condition requirements.” In response, the GSA and the FBI conducted a thorough review of FBI’s facility needs.

 

Many resources have been devoted over the last decade to this project for which there is consensus that the FBI’s existing Headquarters building is in serious disrepair and must be replaced. Despite reaching significant milestones in this process, earlier this year, the GSA reversed course and revised its plan for the FBI Headquarters consolidation project. This announcement was met with much confusion and skepticism.[1]

 

In reaction to this reversal, and the issuance of a revised FBI Headquarters consolidation plan, the GSA Inspector General (IG), Carol Ochoa, reviewed the GSA’s decision-making process. The IG’s review[2] found[3] that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy’s testimony before the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee “was incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with White House officials in the decision-making process about the project.”[4] In addition, the IG found discrepancies in the cost comparisons between previous cost estimates and the revised plan for consolidation, concluding that officials are greatly underestimating the cost of keeping the headquarters in the District. Specifically, the GSA excluded the $750 million value for the J. Edgar Hoover Building exchange in its total shortfall calculation, and did not acknowledge the $65,000 per person increase associated with rebuilding in a new location.

 

In light of the IG’s findings, we believe it is critical that your office conduct an investigation into the decision-making process the FBI used to produce the revised plan for consolidation of the FBI Headquarters, as well as the extent to which influence from or communications with the White House impacted this process. Specifically, we request your office assess the following:

 

1.      The detailed process the FBI followed to determine, over a matter of months, that rebuilding in place at the J. Edgar Hoover Building was preferable to its original plan to move to a consolidated campus.

2.      How the new plan accounts for prior documentation outlining unresolvable security deficiencies at the J. Edgar Hoover Building. The GAO highlighted these issues in its November 2011 report, “Actions Needed to Document Security Decisions and Address Issues with Condition of Headquarters Buildings”.[5] In response to that report, the FBI agreed and wrote: “[T]he operations impact of a fragmented workforce located at multiple sites across a wide geographic area is the FBI’s primaryconcern and is the driving force behind our urgency of finding a long term resolution to this situation. . . . The FBI’s current headquarters is both inefficient and expensive. The inadequate design of the J. Edgar Hoover Building does not support an agile workforce in the 21st Century. This poor design coupled with the redundancies and the inefficiency associated with 22 separate locations, 3,092,654 Rentable Square Feet (RSF), costing $170 million annually in rent and operating expenses support the need for a new FBI headquarters.”

3.      Whether the cost justifications provided support the revised plan.

4.      The sequence of events that led to the current state of affairs, beginning, with the issuance of the GSA prospectus in 2016.

5.      The origin of the revised plan at the FBI:

o    Who was involved in the decision to reverse course?

o    Did the proposal to remain at the current FBI location emanate from or was influenced by entities outside the FBI or the Department of Justice? If so, who, when, and in what manner?

o    Who first brought forward the idea to keep the FBI Headquarters at its current location, and when and under what circumstances?

6.      Whether the Director or any Department of Justice or FBI official received direction or suggestions from the President of the United States or senior White House staff with regard to this project. If so, who? What was the specific direction or suggestion?

7.      Whether the FBI participated in the preparation for Ms. Murphy’s testimony regarding this project. If so, which staff participated and what counsel did they provide?

8.      Whether the testimony of Mr. Richard L. Haley, II, Assistant Director, FBI Finance Division, to Congress on February 28, 2018 was complete, accurate, and transparent. 

 

It is our hope that these questions can begin to provide transparency on the decision-making process for the consolidation of the FBI Headquarters. The process is rife with inconsistencies and questions, and raises concern that there is a coordinated effort to conceal facts or mislead members of Congress. For these reasons, we request that your office conduct a thorough investigation. If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact Michal Freedhoff and Kenneth Martin on the Environment and Public Works Committee staff at 202-224-8832.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) led a letter of 34 Democratic Senators to President Trump to express strong opposition to his decision to cut more than $500 million in aid to the Palestinian people – funding that was passed into law to provide clean water, food, education, and critical medical services to families in the West Bank and Gaza. 

“We are deeply concerned that your strategy of attempting to force the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table by withholding humanitarian assistance from women and children is misguided and destined to backfire. Your proposed cuts would undermine those who seek a peaceful resolution and strengthen the hands of Hamas and other extremists in the Gaza Strip, as the humanitarian crisis there worsens,” the Senators wrote. 

They continued, “For these reasons, we strongly believe it is in the national security interest of the United States, our ally Israel, the Palestinian people, and our other partners and allies in the region to expeditiously obligate the FY17 Economic Support Fund assistance originally planned for the West Bank and Gaza and to sustain U.S. contributions to UNRWA. We urge you to reverse your decision and look forward to your prompt response.” 

Working with United States Agency for International Development’s implementing partners, Senator Van Hollen’s office has prepared a snapshot of programs and partnerships impacted by these cuts in funding that can be found here

In addition to Senators Van Hollen, Feinstein, and Coons, the letter was signed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patricia Murray (D-Wash.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Udall (D-Colo.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

 

The full text of the letter is available below and here.

 

 

Dear President Trump:

 

We write in strong opposition to your decision to cut some $200 million in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) Economic Support Fund assistance originally planned for the West Bank and Gaza and to end U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), including more than $300 million in assistance this fiscal year. Eliminating funds for programs that provide clean water, food, education, and medical services for Palestinians will exacerbate poverty, fuel extremism, further reduce the chance of a future peace agreement and threaten Israel’s security. Both the FY17 and FY18 funds were approved by the Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support—a recognition among Republicans and Democrats alike that these programs are in the U.S. national interest. We urge you to reverse course and obligate these funds as Congress originally intended. 

 

By law, U.S. foreign assistance cannot be directed to the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Instead, Congress has appropriated funds to provide assistance directly to the Palestinian people, including millions of children in the Palestinian territories. The cuts you have proposed would make a desperate situation even worse.

 

Specifically, according to the organizations implementing USAID-funded programs in the West Bank and Gaza, these cuts will prevent:

  • nearly 140,000 individuals from receiving emergency food aid;
  • 3,000 children and their caregivers from receiving healthcare for anemia and malnutrition;
  • up to 71,000 individuals from receiving access to clean water;
  • 800 children from receiving rehabilitation services for cerebral palsy; and,
  • 16,000 women from receiving clinical breast cancer treatment.

 

In addition, your decision to end U.S. contributions to UNRWA puts at risk:

  • civilian, secular education for 525,000 kids, 50 percent of which are girls, in more than 700 schools;
  • food assistance to one million residents in Gaza, half of its population; and,
  • public health in the refugee population, where UNRWA has long achieved a 100 percent vaccination rate.

 

We are deeply concerned that your strategy of attempting to force the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table by withholding humanitarian assistance from women and children is misguided and destined to backfire. Your proposed cuts would undermine those who seek a peaceful resolution and strengthen the hands of Hamas and other extremists in the Gaza Strip, as the humanitarian crisis there worsens. 

 

For these reasons, we strongly believe it is in the national security interest of the United States, our ally Israel, the Palestinian people, and our other partners and allies in the region to expeditiously obligate the FY17 Economic Support Fund assistance originally planned for the West Bank and Gaza and to sustain U.S. contributions to UNRWA. We urge you to reverse your decision and look forward to your prompt response.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine praised new federal funding for Loudoun County Fire and Rescue awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, totaling $1,486,000. The fire department will use the funding to support fitness assessment and counseling for firefighters. 

“We’re pleased Loudoun County Fire and Rescue will receive federal dollars to support staff training and ensure the firefighters are prepared to serve the community,” the Senators said.

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

 

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with David Vela, President Trump’s nominee to be the Director of the National Park Service (NPS) to discuss the need to address the $12 billion NPS maintenance backlog. Due to years of chronic underfunding, the Park Service has deferred maintenance on tens of thousands of visitor centers, rest stops, trails, and campgrounds, as well as thousands of miles of roads and countless bridges. In Virginia, the backlog has grown to more than $1 billion and the Commonwealth now ranks third among all states in total deferred maintenance, trailing only California and the District of Columbia.

Sen. Warner is the author of the Restore Our Parks Actbipartisan bill that would address the growing maintenance backlog. Over the years, Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for protecting NPS infrastructure, originally introducing the legislation that became the basis for this consensus proposal. The Restore Our Parks Act is the product of months of bipartisan discussions among senators who had previously introduced legislation and the Trump Administration. The bipartisan bill is supported by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Outdoor Industry Association, and dozens of additional conservation and recreation organizations. 

“For years, I’ve been sounding the alarm on the need to address the growing NPS maintenance backlog and urging the Senate to pass our bipartisan bill,” said Sen. Warner. “I was pleased to hear that Mr. Vela understands the devastating effects this chronic underfunding can have on an already old and crumbling NPS infrastructure and has vowed to be a partner so we can work with the Administration to get this done. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Mr. Vela to draw down the maintenance backlog and find a long-term maintenance funding structure for the Park Service that preserves our national treasures for generations to come.”  

Virginia contains 22 national parks and affiliated areas that are spread throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, the Park Service maintains over 120 National Historic Landmarks throughout Virginia, including Mount Vernon, Montpelier, Monticello, and the State Capitol Building. In 2017, over 24 million individuals from around the world visited national parks in Virginia, spending over $1 billion. National parks in Virginia helped support more than 15,000 jobs and contributed over $1.4 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy. 

On August 31, 2018, President Trump announced David Vela as his nominee to lead the National Park Service. If confirmed, Mr. Vela would be the first Hispanic Director of the National Park ServiceHis nomination was formally submitted to the Senate on September 6, 2018. A confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled. 

 

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