Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after President Trump announced Ret. Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, will serve as the Acting Director of National Intelligence, effective August 15:

“When I supported Admiral Maguire’s previous nomination, I made it clear I expected him to empower the intelligence professionals he led to do their important work free from political interference. Given the circumstances of his appointment as Acting DNI, it is more important than ever that Admiral Maguire stands by that commitment to speak truth to power. His success or failure in this position will be judged by the quality of work produced by the intelligence community, not by how those intelligence products make the President feel.

“After leading the men and women in the Navy and serving our country faithfully, the burden shouldered by this capable public servant is now much higher with a White House that continuously breaks longstanding norms that have governed the intelligence community. Shading intelligence to fit political views ultimately threatens the safety and effectiveness of America’s dedicated intelligence professionals and makes our country less safe. While Admiral Maguire demonstrates a continued willingness to serve our nation, it does not replace the President’s responsibility to nominate a permanent Director during this critical time for our country.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement ahead of the two-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. that resulted in the deaths of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates:

Nearly two years ago, white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville to spread a message of bigotry and intolerance. Their hate-fueled rally culminated in the deaths of three Americans – Heather Heyer, who was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into the crowd of counter-protesters, and Lt. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, who died in a helicopter crash as they tried to bring stability to the city.

“As we approach the two-year mark of this tragedy, I stand with the families of those we lost as well as the entire Charlottesville community in denouncing bigotry and radicalism in every form. With hate crimes and white nationalism on the rise, we must work to honor these individuals today and every day by stamping out the voices of hate and prejudice – from those on the streets, to those in positions of power – that undermine the nation we love and the values we believe in. Let us also take a moment to remember and celebrate the lives of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates by fostering a culture of acceptance and open-mindedness.”

Sen. Warner has introduced legislation in honor of counter-protester Heather Heyer. This legislation would help combat the recent surge in hate crimes by improving the reporting and recording of hate crimes and supporting law enforcement prevention, training, and education as it relates to hate crimes.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and 39 colleagues in urging Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin against unilaterally cutting capital gains taxes for the wealthiest Americans by an additional $100 billion over 10 years, an action that would defy longstanding Justice Department policy.

The request follows a letter signed by 21 Republican senators urging Secretary Mnuchin to circumvent Congress and index capital gains rates to inflation.

“Indexing capital gains would double down on the 2017 $1.5 trillion tax giveaway with at least another $100 billion tax cut. According to the Penn-Wharton Budget Model, more than 86 percent of the benefit of indexing capital gains would go to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, while just 2.5 percent of the benefit would go to the bottom 90 percent of Americans,” the Senators wrote.

Along with Sens. Warner, Kaine, and Wyden, the letter is signed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tina Smith (D-MN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

The full letter can be found here and below.

August 7, 2019
 
The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20220
 
Secretary Mnuchin:
 
We strongly urge against executive action to index capital gains for inflation, and disagree with our 21 Republican colleagues who have urged you to circumvent Congress in a signed letter. This unilateral move would almost exclusively benefit the wealthiest Americans, add to the ballooning federal deficit, further complicate the tax code, and ignore longstanding Justice Department policy.
 
Indexing capital gains would double down on the 2017 $1.5 trillion tax giveaway with at least another $100 billion tax cut. According to the Penn-Wharton Budget Model, more than 86 percent of the benefit of indexing capital gains would go to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, while just 2.5 percent of the benefit would go to the bottom 90 percent of Americans.
 
As the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected, the 2017 tax cuts are not paying for themselves through increased revenue. The FY 2019 deficit is projected to be $896 billion, up from $666 billion in FY 2017.  Cutting capital gains taxes for the wealthy by indexing gains would only exacerbate this problem.
 
While indexing capital gains would unquestionably add to the deficit, the $100 billion price tag is a conservative estimate because it does not consider the resulting tax sheltering opportunities. If Treasury indexes capital gains for inflation but does not also index capital expenses, like interest and depreciation, taxpayers would only pay taxes on the real portion of their gains while still deducting their full, nominal expenses. Taxpayers could therefore use their losses on paper to offset tax owed. Indexing both gains and expenses for inflation, meanwhile, would increase the tax code’s complexity and the compliance burden on taxpayers.
 
The proposal would do little to nothing to boost the economy as it would provide a windfall for existing capital assets rather than incentivize new investment. The Congressional Research Service notes that “it is unlikely… that a significant, or any, effect on economic growth would occur from a stand-alone indexing proposal.” This is yet another policy that would fail American workers. 
 
Apart from these serious policy concerns, we do not believe Treasury has the authority to index capital gains through regulation. Such action would defy longstanding Congressional intent and Justice Department policy. The tax code has always assessed capital gains on the difference between the cost a person pays to acquire a security or property, reduced for cost-recovery deductions, (“basis” in tax parlance) and the price for which it was sold.
We agree with legal opinions written by the Treasury and Justice Departments in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush, which concluded that Congress intended the word “cost” to mean the price paid in nominal dollars without adjustment for inflation.  That plain language definition of cost first appeared in the Revenue Act of 1918 and now appears in Section 1012 of the tax code.
 
Incomplete legislative action on a policy also does not signal congressional intent. Although Congress has previously considered proposals to index capital gains for inflation, it has never enacted them. The policy preferences of individual members of Congress, even if they happen to comprise majorities of both Houses, have no legal weight until legislation is passed by both Houses and signed into law by the president. 
 
For example, during consideration of the Revenue Act of 1978, the House adopted a provision expressly indexing the basis of capital assets for inflation only to have the Senate reject this approach, choosing instead to increase the percentage of (nominal) capital gains that could be excluded. The Senate’s approach was ultimately enacted.
 
We again urge you to reject unilateral action on this issue. To do otherwise would illegally circumvent Congress to benefit the most fortunate Americans. A major policy change like this one should be considered by Congress through regular order, where it can be weighed against competing priorities, like upgrading our failing national infrastructure, investing in health care or shoring up Social Security.
 
Sincerely,
 
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (both D-CA) and U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Mike Levin (D-CA), Brian K. Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Katie Hill (D-CA), sent a letter today to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, urging them to protect vital military housing protections for servicemembers as the Senate and House work to negotiate the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Once approved by both chambers of Congress, this bill would authorize the nation’s defense spending for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2019. 

“We write today to express our strong support for language reforming the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI), which was included in both the Senate- and House passed versions of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Provisions of each bill largely match what was in our own bill, the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act (S.703/H.R.1792), which aimed to force much needed change in the MHPI program,” wrote the members of Congress.

In 1996, the Department of Defense (DoD) and Congress established the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) with the intent to improve military housing conditions by transferring maintenance and construction responsibilities to private housing companies. However, recent reports by Reuters and military advocacy groups exposed health, safety, and environmental hazards in privatized military housing throughout the United States. As a result of these findings, Sens. Warner, Kaine, Feinstein, and Harris introduced the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act to provide much-needed reform and oversight over the privatized housing companies. Reps. Levin, Hill, Spanberger, Luria, and Fitzpatrick introduced a companion bill in the House.

They continued, “Like you, we have been appalled by the barrage of health, safety and environmental hazards found in privatized military housing. For too long, the companies operating this housing have failed to properly remedy hazards and to meet their fundamental obligations to servicemembers and their families to provide safe, healthy and high-quality housing. In addition, the military services, including installation commanders, housing officials and senior officials within the Department of Defense (DoD), have not provided sufficient oversight of the housing within their purview and have fundamentally failed the families who served under them.”

In June and July, the Senate and House passed the NDAA with key provisions of the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act. In today’s letter, the members of Congress urged the Chairmen and the Ranking Members to protect these House and Senate provisions in final negotiations between the House and the Senate. 

A copy of today’s letter is available here can be found below.

 

August 8, 2019

Senator James M. Inhofe

Chairman

Committee on Armed Services

United States Senate

Senator Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Committee on Armed Services

United States Senate

Congressman Adam Smith

Chairman

Committee on Armed Services

U.S. House of Representatives

Congressman Mac Thornberry

Ranking Member

Committee on Armed Services

U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Chairmen Inhofe & Smith and Ranking Members Reed & Thornberry:

We write today to express our strong support for language reforming the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI), which was included in both the Senate- and House passed versions of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Provisions of each bill largely match what was in our own bill, the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act (S.703/H.R.1792), which aimed to force much needed change in the MHPI program. 

Like you, we have been appalled by the barrage of health, safety and environmental hazards found in privatized military housing. For too long, the companies operating this housing have failed to properly remedy hazards and to meet their fundamental obligations to servicemembers and their families to provide safe, healthy and high-quality housing. In addition, the military services, including installation commanders, housing officials and senior officials within the Department of Defense (DoD), have not provided sufficient oversight of the housing within their purview and have fundamentally failed the families who served under them.

As you enter conference negotiations, we ask that provisions from the Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act remain in the final NDAA conference agreement. In particular we were pleased that the Senate version of the NDAA:

  • creates a standard for common credentials for health and environmental inspectors of privatized military housing (Sec. 3018);
  • requires the commander to review and approve mold mitigation and pest control plans annually (Sec. 3043, 2872c);
  • enables the withholding of rents (Sec. 3031) and incentive fees (Sec. 3045, 2874c) from landlords if they have not met established guidelines and procedures;
  • requires landlords to pay reasonable relocation costs in the event of health, safety or environmental hazards (Sec. 3044, 2872d);
  • requires the establishment of electronic work order systems and requires that tenants have the ability to access the systems in order to track the status and progress of work orders (Sec. 3021); and   
  • requires the Secretary of Defense to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the legal services that the Secretary may provide to members of the armed forces who have been harmed by a health or environmental hazard while living in military housing, as well as to make this information available to all members of the armed forces at U.S. DoD installations. (Sec. 3053).

In addition, the House-passed NDAA includes additional provisions of the Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act, and we ask you to retain:

Sections 2811 and 2886, which authorizes DoD Inspectors General to investigate allegations of retaliation against a military tenant in connection with a housing complaint; and

 Section 2811 and 2886c, which prohibit landlords from imposing supplemental payments in addition to rent.

Reforming the privatized military housing system requires urgent action, and we believe including the above provisions in the final FY2020 NDAA is vital to that effort. We appreciate your leadership on this important issue and look forward to continuing to work together to improve the housing stock available to our servicemembers and their families. 

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on the departure of Sue Gordon, Deputy Director of National Intelligence, effective August 15: 

"This is a real loss to our intelligence community. In more than 30 years of service to our nation, Sue Gordon has demonstrated herself to be a patriot and a consummate professional, eventually becoming the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and someone who garnered tremendous respect from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. Her retirement is a great loss not only to the intelligence community, but to the country. 

"President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is seemingly incapable of hearing facts that contradict his own views. The mission of the intelligence community is to speak truth to power; yet in pushing out two dedicated public servants in as many weeks, once again the President has shown that he has no problem prioritizing his political ego even if it comes at the expense of our national security."

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to Ashanti Alert Coordinator Katherine Sullivan, reiterating the need for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to get the national communication network swiftly up-and-running. This letter follows a July 29th in-person meeting between Sen. Warner and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sullivan.

“As I stated during our conversation, I remain strongly committed to monitoring its implementation and ensuring that the network can start saving lives soon. It was heartening to hear that as designated national coordinator, you are committed to swiftly implementing this potentially lifesaving system by working in collaboration with states to ensure that Ashanti Alert systems are established across the country with proper network guidelines,” wrote Sen. Warner.

After DOJ indicated that little progress had been made on the implementation of the federal Ashanti Alert system in March, Sen. Warner demanded an in-person meeting with DOJ officials to discuss the status of implementation efforts. During the meeting, Sen. Warner urged the DOJ to consult with Virginia state and local officials who passed state-wide legislation to create an Ashanti Alert network and successfully implemented it three months after it was signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam.

“Last year, Virginia successfully established its own Ashanti Alert system in only three months. Since then, the Commonwealth has sent out a number of alerts, some of which have helped find missing or endangered adults alive in under 24 hours. As we discussed, I believe that the officials in Virginia could provide valuable guidance to you and other states, so I urge you to seek out their guidance regarding this matter,” continued Sen. Warner.

On December 20th 2018, Sen. Warner successfully secured Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, which was then signed into law later in the month. Ever since, he has continued to pressure the DOJ to work with relevant stakeholders to promptly implement the alert network nationwide to help save lives.

“I was glad to hear that you have already thought about some actionable ideas on implementation, including your suggestion to include an Ashanti Alert workshop in the next national Amber Alert symposium. However, I continue to expect the Department to identify additional avenues and strategies to speed up the implementation process, while consulting with law enforcement agencies, stakeholders, and other relevant entities who played roles during the adoption of the Amber and Silver alerts,” concluded Sen. Warner.

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

 

Ms. Katherine Sullivan

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C., 20530

Dear Ms. Sullivan:

I appreciated our meeting on July 29, 2019 regarding the implementation status of the Ashanti Alert Act. As I stated during our conversation, I remain strongly committed to monitoring its implementation and ensuring that the network can start saving lives soon. It was heartening to hear that as designated national coordinator, you are committed to swiftly implementing this potentially lifesaving system by working in collaboration with states to ensure that Ashanti Alert systems are established across the country with proper network guidelines.

As I emphasized in our meeting, it has been almost eight months since President Trump signed the bill into law. I have been disappointed that the Department’s efforts thus far have made little progress on the alert system and I must reiterate that delayed implementation will only cost lives. Last year, Virginia successfully established its own Ashanti Alert system in only three months. Since then, the Commonwealth has sent out a number of alerts, some of which have helped find missing or endangered adults alive in under 24 hours. As we discussed, I believe that the officials in Virginia could provide valuable guidance to you and other states, so I urge you to seek out their guidance regarding this matter.

I was glad to hear that you have already thought about some actionable ideas on implementation, including your suggestion to include an Ashanti Alert workshop in the next national Amber Alert symposium. However, I continue to expect the Department to identify additional avenues and strategies to speed up the implementation process, while consulting with law enforcement agencies, stakeholders, and other relevant entities who played roles during the adoption of the Amber and Silver alerts.

I look forward to your timely updates on implementation efforts. Thank you for prioritizing the implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act and fully leveraging this opportunity to transform the lives and safety of Americans.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper following a report that the Department of Defense (DoD) will reexamine the process for awarding a $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud-computing contract.

 “The integrity of our federal procurement process rests in large part on its insulation from undue political influence, so that sound technical and business judgements can be used to make data- and evidence-based decisions. The importance of political noninterference is especially important in the context of Department of Defense procurements, where procurement decisions must focus on cost, quality, performance and other considerations directly related to promoting our national security in an increasingly complex global environment,” wrote Sens. Warner and Reed to DoD Secretary Mark Esper.    

In their letter to the DoD, the Senators inquired about the possibility that political pressure may have led to DoD’s abrupt decision to pause the process for awarding the contract. Additionally, the Senators called on Secretary Esper to explain the reasoning behind DoD’s decision to reexamine the contract.

“Successful procurement programs foster an open, fair, and competitive process, and are informed by technical and acquisition expertise and an understanding of the planned operational environment. The federal government benefits from being served by a variety of providers, ensuring competition that will deliver the best cost, quality, and performance. There are already built-in mechanisms for independent review of potential conflicts of interest– some of which have already been used in the JEDI initiative,” the Senators continued. “We appreciate your desire to review this initiative as you take on your new role as Secretary, but we urge you to resist political pressures that might negatively affect the implementation of sound acquisition practices and of the cloud strategy.”

A copy of the letter is found here and below.

 

Dr. Mark T. Esper

Secretary of Defense

U.S. Department of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Secretary Esper:

We urge you to take appropriate steps to ensure that the ongoing Department of Defense initiative to a contract for commercial cloud computing services through the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program, is pursued in a manner that is consistent with the Department’s cloud strategy and serves the best interests of taxpayers and execution of DoD missions. 

The integrity of our federal procurement process rests in large part on its insulation from undue political influence, so that sound technical and business judgements can be used to make data- and evidence-based decisions. The importance of political noninterference is especially important in the context of Department of Defense procurements, where procurement decisions must focus on cost, quality, performance and other considerations directly related to protecting our national security in an increasingly complex global environment.  In particular, efficiently executing DOD’s cloud strategy, which emphasizes the appropriate evaluation and use of best available commercial services and systems, is extremely important to meeting the goals of the National Defense Strategy.

Successful procurement programs foster an open, fair, and competitive process, and are informed by technical and acquisition expertise and an understanding of the planned operational environment. The federal government benefits from being served by a variety of providers, ensuring competition that will deliver the best cost, quality, and performance. There are already built-in mechanisms for independent review of potential conflicts of interest– some of which have already been used in the JEDI initiative.

It is our understanding that the Department of Defense’s Chief Information Officer is moving towards concluding the competition for the JEDI contract, and appreciate his efforts to keep Congress informed during a lengthy process of protests by competitors and in the development and execution of a very complex and ambitious acquisition plan.  We appreciate your desire to review this initiative as you take on your new role as Secretary, but we urge you to resist political pressures that might negatively affect the implementation of sound acquisition practices and of the cloud strategy.

For these reasons, we request that you respond to the following questions:

Did anyone outside of the Department of Defense direct you to delay or cancel the JEDI program or the award of this contract?

Has the Department of Defense obtained new information relative to the program that was not available to the Inspector General, Government Accountability Office, or U.S. Federal Court of Claims?

What prompted the new examination of the JEDI initiative?

We look forward to receiving your responses within the next week. If you should have any questions or concerns, please contact Caroline Wadhams in Senator Warner’s office at 202-224-2418 and Arun Seraphin in Senator Reed’s office at 202-224-3871.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senator Sherrod Brown and 31 of their Democratic colleagues in urging Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to abandon the Department’s current destructive approach to ongoing negotiations with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).  Despite VA and AFGE’s history of engaging in good-faith negotiations that equally benefit employees, veterans and the Department, the current negotiating tactics undercut VA’s mission and threaten the quality of the services it is entrusted to provide to our constituents, our nation’s veterans. 

“These extreme tactics are not in the interest of VA’s federal employees, nor are they in the interests of the veterans these employees serve,” the Senators wrote. “We urge VA to return to the bargaining table with AFGE immediately to negotiate in good faith and we look forward to reviewing your response to our concerns and specific questions.” 

In addition to Warner, Kaine, and Brown, the letter is signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

A copy of the Senators’ letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Wilkie can be found below and HERE:

 

The Honorable Robert Wilkie

Secretary

Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20420

Dear Secretary Wilkie:

We write today to express our deep concern regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) anti-worker, anti-union negotiating tactics with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).  A strong labor-management relationship is essential to the effective and efficient operations of VA and improves the provision of care and benefits to veterans.  We urge the Department to abandon its current destructive approach to the talks with the union and to negotiate in good faith and in a manner that is consistent with U.S. law. 

For decades, VA and AFGE have sat together at the bargaining table to forge an agreement that benefits employees, veterans and the Department.  These negotiations, however, have been entirely different.  From the outset, VA has taken multiple steps to ensure the negotiations with AFGE do not succeed.  The Department refused to negotiate ground rules such as when and where to meet, or to pay for travel to the talks.  In an unprecedented action, VA sent those decisions to an impasse panel immediately, clearly demonstrating that the agency had no intention of engaging in a productive contract negotiation.  In addition, the Department has made the draconian proposal to eliminate 28 articles from the 2011 Master Agreement without providing justification.  VA negotiators also proposed reducing 14 additional articles to generic language about the Department following appropriate procedures in law and regulations.  In total, VA is proposing to effectively scrap 63 percent of the existing contract without providing any legitimate rationale for doing so.  The articles proposed for elimination cover issues including procedures for local level bargaining, labor management cooperation, and grievance procedures, all of which are crucial for an effective labor-management partnership.

VA has also changed the members of its bargaining team, which is another clear delaying tactic.  Furthermore, your agency has also referred negotiations to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service after only 10 days.  The talks were scheduled to continue to December, and the request for a federal mediator is an effort by VA to short-circuit negotiations on important topics.  These extreme tactics are not in the interest of VA’s federal employees, nor are they in the interests of the veterans these employees serve.     

To better understand the Department’s approach to these contract negotiations, we ask you to respond to the following specific questions:

1)      Did the White House, Office of Management & Budget (OMB), or any entity outside of VA provide direction, guidance or suggestion on any proposals VA negotiators have submitted? If so, please describe the nature and source of this input.

2)      Did the White House, Office of Management & Budget (OMB), or any entity outside of VA provide direction, guidance or suggestion on any tactics VA representatives have used in these negotiations? If so, please describe the nature and source of this input.

3)      Please explain and provide documented evidence of the demonstrated need for each of the following proposals:

a.      Extension of contract term to 10 years;

b.      Authority of VA to change contract outside of negotiations during those 10 years but no equal authority for the union;

c.       Requirement that leave taken for doctors’ appointments be taken in 60 minute increments and some leave requests, including those for some medical appointments, must be made 60-90 days in advance;

d.     Requirement that grievances must be handled at the national level, instead of in local offices;

e.      Elimination of labor-management cooperation;

f.        Requirement that dues withholding be renewed by each federal employee at VA on an annual basis;

g.      Elimination of all memorandums of understandings and past practices; and

h.      Requirement that the union pay for all management time and Department attorney’s fees spent dealing with union matters, which has no basis in U.S. law.

4)      Has VA, anyone in the Trump Administration, or a third party completed an analysis of the employment impact of the Department’s negotiating positions? If not, why not? If so, please describe the methodology of the analysis, the process by which data was collected, and the conclusions of the analysis. Please provide all associated documentation.

VA employees provide medical care, process education benefits, and adjudicate disability claims and appeals on behalf of veterans and their families. Attracting and retaining high quality, motivated employees will better serve our nation’s veterans and ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent.  The harsh negotiating tactics currently being taken by your agency undermine VA’s mission and threaten the quality of the services it is entrusted to provide to our constituents, our nation’s veterans. 

We urge VA to return to the bargaining table with AFGE immediately to negotiate in good faith and we look forward to reviewing your response to our concerns and specific questions.  

Sincerely,

Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR)

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, wrote to President Trump to request that he direct a review of the Executive Office of the President’s (EOP) compliance with security clearance policies and procedures after several alarming media reports suggesting abuses in the process at the White House.

“Over the last two years, public reporting has raised serious concerns about irregularities and questionable decisions related to eligibility determinations for EOP personnel access to classified information.  Among other things, reports allege that individuals have been granted interim clearances, to include access to Secure Compartmented Information, without undergoing a complete background investigation; that the EOP has extended these temporary clearances  beyond the usual six month timeframe; that the EOP has overruled unfavorable adjudication recommendations by career security professionals in more than 30 cases; and that the EOP has threatened to revoke former officials’ eligibility for access to classified information for reasons other than the adjudicative guidelines,” the Senators wrote.

The Democratic request follows an earlier letter sent in March 2019 to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG), requesting a review of the Trump administration’s compliance with security clearance protocols. In a pair of responses four months later, the DNI and the ICIG told the Senators that, despite having conducted such a review of the EOP’s practices in 2015, the DNI lacks the authority to conduct such a review unless expressly directed by the President.

According to press reports, President Trump ignored objections from then-White House Counsel Donald McGahn and then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to grant security clearances to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner. Additional reports have alleged that former White House Staff Secretary Robert Porter was allowed to handle extremely sensitive information for over a year with an interim clearance, despite his record of domestic abuse, and that the White House overturned at least 30 clearance adjudication recommendations made by career security professionals.

“We believe a new review is necessary to address the allegations that have been raised and, if necessary, implement corrective action. Without such a review, it will be incumbent upon Congress to take a more direct role in overseeing and legislating on EOP security clearances to protect national security,” the Senators told the President.

Sen. Warner has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s abuse of the security clearance process. He believes it significantly distracts from the shared agenda that he has with the administration to reform an antiquated process that does not reflect today’s threats, use advanced technologies and analytics, or support an increasingly mobile workforce. He has championed comprehensive legislation, included in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, to modernize the government’s security clearance system and reduce the background investigation backlog. He has also teamed up with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to introduce bipartisan legislation to protect the integrity of the security clearance process and ensure that it cannot be abused for political purposes. 

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

 ?

President Donald Trump

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We request that you direct the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) perform a Security Executive Agent National Assessment Program (SNAP) review of the Executive Office of the President’s (EOP) compliance with security clearance policies and procedures.   

Over the last two years, public reporting has raised serious concerns about irregularities and questionable decisions related to eligibility determinations for EOP personnel access to classified information.  Among other things, reports allege that individuals have been granted interim clearances, to include access to Secure Compartmented Information, without undergoing a complete background investigation; that the EOP has extended these temporary clearances  beyond the usual six month timeframe; that the EOP has overruled unfavorable adjudication recommendations by career security professionals in more than 30 cases; and that the EOP has threatened to revoke former officials’ eligibility for access to classified information for reasons other than the adjudicative guidelines. 

A SNAP review will assess compliance with statutory requirements and executive-branch policies and procedures governing security clearances and access to Sensitive Compartmented Information.  Such policies and procedures ensure proper due diligence in exercising the granting, denying, and revoking of access to classified information. The DNI has conducted scores of SNAP reviews to ensure rigorous application of proven standards and to give Congress faith that classified information is being properly protected. 

In a recent letter, the Office of the DNI advised us that, despite completing a SNAP review of the EOP personnel security program in 2015, it does not have the legal authority under Executive Order 13467 to conduct a SNAP review of the EOP unless you specifically direct it to do so.  We believe a new review is necessary to address the allegations that have been raised and, if necessary, implement corrective action. Without such a review, it will be incumbent upon Congress to take a more direct role in overseeing and legislating on EOP security clearances to protect national security.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

###

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to improve burdensome employer reporting requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Commonsense Reporting Act of 2019 would streamline and modernize ACA reporting requirements, ensuring that the Treasury Department has the necessary data to determine availability of affordable coverage, while cutting down on unnecessary paperwork and administrative costs for businesses. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Adrian Smith (R-NE).

“Businesses in Virginia and across the nation are working hard to comply with our nation’s health care law, and we need to make sure they’re not being penalized due to flaws in the law,” said Sen. Warner. “By improving and modernizing the employer reporting system, this bipartisan legislation will take an important step towards making sure that our health care system works for everyone, including employers who strive to provide suitable coverage for their workers.”  

“We thank Senator Mark Warner for his leadership to improve the employer reporting system under the Affordable Care Act. Local businesses are challenged by extensive reporting requirements and paperwork mandates, especially with a flexible workforce. Capital Ale House supports commonsense, bipartisan legislation to streamline the employer reporting system and we appreciate Senator Warner’s efforts on this issue,” said Matthew Simmons, Co-Founder and President, Capital Ale House in Richmond, Va.

“The IRS’s employer reporting requirements offer a significant, complex challenge to Virginia small businesses and employees. With new legislation, Congress can take immediate action to relieve employers and employees of this annual reporting burden and unintended tax implications. We thank Senator Warner for advancing a bipartisan, streamlined solution under the Commonsense Reporting Act,” said Eric Terry, President, Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association.

“The Commonsense Reporting Act moves employers to a voluntary reporting system and decreases the amount of information requested by the IRS and other agencies. This bipartisan legislation provides individual consumers with much-needed safety nets, employers with relief from the burdensome reporting requirements, and state and federal Exchanges with an additional tool to verify tax credit and subsidy eligibility. The federal government can lend businesses and workers a helping hand by streamlining burdensome reporting requirements and enacting this important reform, as employers would only need to report on employees that have purchased coverage through an Exchange rather than reporting for the entire workforce,” said Gary Cox, Ideal Insurance.

“I have heard from hundreds of employers in Ohio that have spent hundreds of administrative hours attempting to comply with the reporting requirements in the Affordable Care Act. This added time and resources has not improved the quality of health insurance employers offered but only further discouraged employers from offering health insurance and hiring more workers. This bipartisan bill will help streamline the reporting process by allowing employers to report information to the IRS prospectively, easing the burden for employers and employees,” said Sen. Portman.

“It’s critical to ensure that we are making health care as accessible as possible for patients and as easy as possible for businesses to offer. That’s why I am proud to reintroduce the Commonsense Reporting Act, a bipartisan bill to streamline the health insurance reporting process for employers and protect patients from unfair claw backs of their insurance subsidies by making tax credit determinations more accurate. This is a simple way to improve health care access for our communities and ensure businesses can better provide coverage,” said Rep. Thompson.

“Too often employers who provide health insurance are burdened with arbitrary reporting mandates such as those created by the Affordable Care Act. This legislation would create a more efficient reporting system, reducing the risk of surprise financial penalties for both employers and employees. I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this commonsense bill signed into law,” said Rep. Smith.

Currently, employers and insurers are required under the ACA to report health insurance coverage information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the end of the tax year. However, these retrospective reporting requirements create a heavy back-end burden for employers and can lead to reporting discrepancies that end up subjecting employers to IRS tax penalties as well as additional compliance costs and burdens.

The Commonsense Reporting Act of 2019 directs the Treasury Department to implement an alternative, voluntary reporting system that allows employers to report pertinent information about their health plan to the IRS before open enrollment begins. It also modernizes the system by allowing electronic transmission of employee and enrollee statements rather than requiring that this information be sent through the mail. The legislation also limits the collection of useless data and safeguards personally identifiable information by clarifying that the IRS can accept full names and dates of birth in lieu of dependents’ and spouses’ Social Security numbers.

The Commonsense Reporting Act has also been endorsed by American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Rental Association, American Staffing Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., Associated General Contractors of America, Auto Care Association, the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, Food Marketing Institute, HR policy Association, International Franchise Association, National Association of Health Underwriters, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Society for Human Resource Management, NATSO for America’s Truck and Travel Stops, and National Association of Home Builders.

A summary of this legislation can be found here. The full text is available here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Trump announced his plan to impose an additional 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods beginning September 1:

“We continue to have grave concerns regarding this Administration’s nonexistent trade strategy. Let’s be clear: trade policy should not be done through tweet; it should be through thoughtful collaboration with our allies to address China’s unfair trade practices. Instead, today’s erratic reversal on trade will only raise prices for Virginians and give China motivation to retaliate, which would further hit Virginia's already-hurting agricultural producers even harder. For years, China has been one of Virginia’s top agricultural customers, but escalating the trade war will only continue to threaten a critical industry that’s borne the brunt of this incoherent strategy.”

Sens. Warner and Kaine have continued to warn the Trump Administration about how its haphazard approach on trade hurts Virginia’s families, businesses, and economy. According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), China is Virginia’s number-one agricultural export market for soybeans. In 2018, Virginia exported more than $58 million soybean products to China – an 83 percent decrease from 2017.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today following the Senate passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, a two-year bipartisan budget deal that would suspend the debt ceiling until July 2021:

“Today I voted to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States and steer us away from another harmful government shutdown in the fall. By suspending the debt ceiling for two years, the bipartisan budget agreement guarantees that the United States will continue to pay our bills, while also preventing harmful sequester cuts that would hurt our military and jeopardize important programs that serve our veterans, prepare our children for the future, and rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges.

“Even with this deal, overall spending on education, research and development, homeland security, and other important investments will still be near historic lows as a percent of the economy. Our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges are real, but they are primarily due to declining tax revenue and a failure to reform our mandatory spending programs. It is disappointing that congressional and White House negotiators chose to pay for only a fraction of this deal, with fee increases and cuts to spending, when there are more sustainable and equitable ways we could have paid for this must-pass legislation. We should be asking large corporations and the wealthiest among us to contribute more—not putting $2 trillion in tax breaks that disproportionately benefit them on the nation’s credit cards. I continue to believe that we must do more to strengthen our nation’s balance sheet, so it is strong enough to sustain continued economic growth for the long term, and I urge my colleagues from both parties to more seriously address our financial challenges in the future.”

The legislation, which passed the House of Representatives on July 25 by a vote of 284 – 149, now heads to the President’s desk for approval.

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WASHINGTON — Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with Jennifer Flynn, Superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, as well as Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, at Sen. Warner’s office in Washington, D.C.

In the meeting, Sen. Warner emphasized the need to pass the Restore Our Parks Act – bipartisan legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog at national parks across the country. Recent figures from the National Park Service (NPS) show that the deferred maintenance backlog grew by more than $313 million last year – with a $100 million increase in Virginia alone. The maintenance backlog at Shenandoah National Park increased by more than $9 million in 2018, bringing its total to $88,765,195. The total overall cost of backlogged maintenance projects at NPS sites nationwide now reaches $11.9 billion, with Virginia accounting for over $1 billion of this backlog.

“Shenandoah National Park, like many national parks, is in dire need of maintenance,” said Sen. Warner. “If Congress fails to act, key infrastructure at the park will continue to deteriorate, harming the local economies and communities that rely on this national treasure. We need to properly invest in our national parks and their surrounding communities by passing the Restore Our Parks Act.”

According to the National Park Service, the 1.26 million visitors to Shenandoah National Park in 2018 spent $87 million in the surrounding communities. This visitor spending supports 1,077 local jobs and more than $116 million in economic output.

The Restore Our Parks Act has widespread support among legislators and conservation groups. It would reduce the maintenance backlog by establishing the “National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund” and allocating existing revenues from onshore 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, not exceeding $1.3 billion each year for the next five years.

The latest data on Virginia’s national park deferred maintenance backlog as of 2018 is available here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $9,771,259 in federal funding to support access to safe and affordable housing in Norfolk, Roanoke City, and Loudoun County. This funding, from the United States Department of Housing (HUD), was awarded through three grant programs – the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), and the Emergency Solutions Grants Program (ESG).

“We are happy to know that these federal dollars will help back efforts in Norfolk, Roanoke City, and Loudoun County to increase access to suitable, reasonably-priced housing for families who need it the most,” said the Senators.

The funding will be awarded as below.

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing, and expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons:     

Recipient

Amount

 

Norfolk

$4,384,883

Roanoke City

$1,734,157

Loudoun County

$1,324,740

 

The HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) provides formula grants to states and localities to fund a wide range of activities including building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership as well as providing direct rental assistance to low-income people. HOME is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households:

Recipient

Amount

 

Norfolk

$1,191,349

Roanoke City

$622,255

The Emergency Solutions Grants Program (ESG) provides funding to engage homeless individuals and families living on the street, improve the number and quality of emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families, rapidly re-house homeless individuals and families, and prevent families and individuals from becoming homeless:

Recipient

Amount

 

Norfolk

$366,887

Roanoke City

$146,988


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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) praised Senate passage of U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria’s (VA-02) legislationsupported by the entire Virginia delegation – to rename a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox.  On May 31, Mr. Cox, a longtime public utilities employee, sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.  

“The Commonwealth will forever be grateful to Mr. Cox for the selfless actions he took that tragic day to protect his fellow Virginians,” said the Senators. “It’s our hope that the President will swiftly sign this bill into law so that we can pay a proper tribute to this heroic Virginian.”

“I thank Senators Kaine and Warner and the entire Virginia U.S. House delegation for supporting our legislation to honor Keith Cox,” said Rep. Luria. “I hope the President quickly signs this bill into law so we can properly remember a true hero. This is our chance to tell Keith’s story – to showcase his bravery to our community, our Commonwealth, and our nation.”

The United States Postal Service (USPS) facility is located at 2509 George Mason Drive in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Earlier this month, Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Committee that oversees USPS, in support of the legislation to honor Cox’s heroism. In June, Sens. Warner and Kaine secured unanimous passage of a Senate resolution honoring the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting. 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led the Senate Democratic Caucus in introducing a Congressional Review Act resolution to stop the Trump Administration from pushing “junk plans” that don’t fully protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. Under the Trump Administration’s 1332 waiver rule, these junk plans once again allow insurance companies to discriminate against Americans based on their medical history in an effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), this resolution must be considered within 60 legislative days of July 15 and can pass the Senate with the support of a simple majority of Senators. 

“It’s clear that the Trump Administration is determined to limit Americans’ access to health care and undermine protections for millions of people with pre-existing conditions,” said Sen. Warner. “The junk plans pushed forward by this Administration will inevitably disrupt our health care system, stripping basic coverage while increasing costs for Virginia families. Congress should protect coverage for vital services like prescription medicines, visits to the emergency room, and maternity care by overturning the Administration’s ill-advised plan to expand the use of junk plans. We have an opportunity here to send a message to the President that instead of attacking the Affordable Care Act, he must work with Congress on targeted, bipartisan fixes that will lower health care costs and expand access to comprehensive, affordable health care coverage.”

The resolution mirrors Sen. Warner’s legislation, Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act, that would prevent the Trump Administration from promoting “junk” health care plans that lack protections for people with pre-existing conditions and would increase costs for millions of Americans.

Sen. Warner was joined on the resolution by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and the entire Senate Democratic Caucus.

“After failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act through Congress, the Trump Administration has taken a series of steps to sabotage it, like pushing the use of plans that can discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions,” said Sen. Kaine. “With this resolution, we are standing up against the Administration’s attacks on health care and working to protect people with pre-existing conditions.”

“President Trump is proving yet again that we have to believe what he does, not what he says. That he can claim to care about protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, while simultaneously rolling back pre-existing condition protections, reeks of the utmost hypocrisy,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “I challenge my Republican colleagues who claim to support pre-existing condition protections to actually do something about it, and join us in voting in favor of our resolution to get rid of this harmful rule. When Senate Democrats force a vote on this resolution, we will see if Republicans finally put their money where their mouth is.”

The following organizations support the resolution: National Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Heart Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Pulmonary Hypertension Association, Mended Little Hearts, Hemophilia Federation of America, Chronic Disease Coalition, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, National Organization for Rare Disorders, WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, Susan G. Komen, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, COPD Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Hemophilia Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, National Psoriasis Foundation, Alpha-1 Foundation, ALS Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Immune Deficiency Foundation, March of Dimes, American Liver Foundation, National Health Council, National Patient Advocate Foundation, Protect Our Care, and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.

Democrats in the House of Representatives also announced support for the measure to block the Trump Administration from weakening pre-existing condition protections. An identical resolution will be introduced in the House by Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) when the House of Representatives returns to Washington in September.

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Washington, D.C. – Citing the vital need for a secure U.S. industrial base, U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) have introduced bipartisan legislation to guard against attempts by the People’s Republic of China and others to undermine U.S. national security by exploiting and penetrating U.S. supply chains.  The Manufacturing, Investment, and Controls Review for Computer Hardware, Intellectual Property and Supply (MICROCHIPS) Act (S. 2316) would develop a national strategy to assess and prevent risks to critical U.S. technologies. 

“Actions by the People’s Republic of China have contributed to an unfair and unsafe advantage in its technological race against the United States,” said Senator Crapo.  “Through government investments and subsidies, as well as intellectual property theft of companies like Idaho’s Micron, China aims to dominate a $1.5 trillion electronics industry, which creates serious, far-reaching threats to the supply chains that support the U.S. government and military.  The MICROCHIPS Act would create a coordinated whole-of-government approach to identify and prevent these efforts and others aimed at undermining or interrupting the timely and secure provision of dual-use technologies vital to our national security.”

“While there is a broad recognition of the threats to our supply chain posed by China, we still lack a coordinated, whole-of-government strategy to defend ourselves,” said Senator Warner.  “As a result, U.S. companies lose billions of dollars to intellectual property theft every year, and counterfeit and compromised electronics in U.S. military, government and critical civilian platforms give China potential backdoors to compromise these systems. We need a national strategy to unify efforts across the government to protect our supply chain and our national security.”

Chinese companies export telecommunication technology equipment into software, hardware, and services used in the United States, and hope to export fifth generation technology (5G) to the U.S. that could potentially harm and expose both consumer and U.S. military information.  Malicious chips or counterfeit parts could create backdoors enabling the monitoring or stealing of consumer data or cause broader system malfunctions.  Even with high investments in cybersecurity, the United States remains vulnerable to advanced cyber attackers like Russia and China.  A 2018 Government Accountability Office report stated that, despite multiple warnings since the early 1990s, cybersecurity has not been a focus of weapon systems acquisitions within the military community.  The Department of Defense’s (DOD) continuous acquisition of weapons systems without making security a key priority could potentially lead to loss of U.S. intellectual property and technological advantage of the U.S. Armed Forces, contribute to unnecessary risks to human life and interfere with the ability of the Armed Forces to execute their missions.

The MICROCHIPS Act would address China’s practice of four major non-kinetic areas of warfare, including supply chain exploitation through supplying faulty software hardware and components; cyber-physical attacks on U.S. systems with real-time operating deadlines, such as missiles, aircraft and electrical grids; cyber-attacks on computer systems; and bad actors gaining sensitive information.  S. 2316 contains four sections with the following main components:

  • Summarizes key findings of Congress regarding supply chain security;
  • Directs the Director of National Intelligence, DOD and other relevant agencies to develop a plan to increase supply chain intelligence within 180 days;
  • Establishes a National Supply Chain Security Center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to collect supply chain threat information and disseminate it to agencies with the authority to intervene; and
  • Makes funds available under the Defense Production Act for federal supply chain security enhancements.

Section two of the bill was included in the House-passed version of the Intelligence Authorization Act, and the Senate adopted section four of the bill through its version of the National Defense Authorization Act.

A copy of the bill text is available HERE, and a one-page summary of the legislation is available HERE.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), along with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), led the entire Senate Democratic Caucus in introducing the Democracy for All Amendment, a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and other disastrous court decisions, help get big money out of politics, and put power back in the hands of the American people.

The full text of the amendment is available HERE. A background summary is available HERE, and a section-by-section with FAQs is available HERE

Citizens United and other disastrous Supreme Court decisions have unleashed a flood of unlimited corporate spending in U.S. elections and opened the door for wealthy special interests to have an outsized voice in our government. These decisions have wrongfully equated money with free speech, and wrongfully determined that big, wealthy corporations have the same first amendment rights as people. The Democracy for All Amendment gives the power back to Congress and the states to set reasonable campaign finance rules and limit corporate spending in elections. The amendment would enshrine in the Constitution the right of the American people to regulate the raising and spending of funds in public elections, and curb the concentration of political influence held by the wealthiest Americans.   

“Thanks to Citizens United and other disastrous court decisions, our electoral system – and as a result, our democracy – have reached a crisis point,” said Udall. “Ever since the Supreme Court ruled to open the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending in our elections, secret special interest money has poured in – and drowned out the voices of the American people. And the door has opened even wider for the ultra-wealthy and well-connected to root themselves in our government and pull the levers of our democracy. Now, citizens are losing faith in our institutions because they have every reason to believe that their government no longer answers to them. It’s time to restore the power of the American people to regulate the out-of-control, secret spending in our elections, and make sure that our elections aren’t put up for sale to the highest bidder. Our Democracy for All Amendment would help unrig the system and put power back in the hands of all Americans, instead of a privileged and powerful few.”

“Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, our political system has been flooded with money from special interest groups,” said Shaheen. “We have also seen the growing influence of dark money pouring into our elections. Dark money allows secret groups with hidden agendas, even foreign actors, to influence elections without disclosing their political donations. We need only look to the 2016 presidential election to understand the lengths that foreign adversaries are willing to go to attempt to influence our elections and sow confusion in the electoral process. This legislation would help shore up our elections from these malign efforts and also reclaim the integrity of our political process by ensuring elected representatives reflect the will of the public, not special interests.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates for dark money to pour into our elections and tipped the scales in favor of the ultra-wealthy and the most powerful corporations,” said Schumer. “The Democracy for All Amendment would undo the tremendous damage done by this decision. It is the best antidote to the surge of unlimited, undisclosed money that’s poisoned our politics and deepened the swamp. Senate Democrats are determined to fix a system that remains beholden to big corporations and put power back in the hands of hardworking Americans.”

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). In addition to Udall, Shaheen, and Schumer, the Democracy for All Amendment is co-sponsored by the entire Senate Democratic Caucus: U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz).

“I was proud to preside over a hearing and lead the markup of this amendment as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights in 2014.  While we successfully reported the amendment out of the Judiciary Committee that year, Republicans unfortunately filibustered it on the Senate floor,” Durbin said.  “And we know why.  They benefit from a broken campaign finance system that elevates the voices of special interests and wealthy donors over the millions of Americans who are worried about health care bills, housing costs, and tuition payments.  We must continue fighting to enshrine this amendment in our Constitution and ensure that our democracy is responsive to all Americans—not just corporations and multi-millionaires.

“The Supreme Court fundamentally misapprehended the nature of money in politics, and its decision has unleashed a corruption of inaction in Washington, where elected officials fear that action on issues like gun violence or climate change will lead a super PAC to spend $20 million and end their career,” said Bennet. “We need the Democracy for All Amendment to turn the page on Citizens United and reconnect the American people with our government.”

“Since Citizens United, we’ve seen a sharp rise of secretive, unregulated money in politics. We have no idea who is spending money on campaigns and candidates, and that is profoundly troubling for our democracy,” said Smith. “This amendment will help get big money out of politics and put power back in the hands of Americans.”

“Our campaign finance system is broken and Americans are fed up with big money influencing our elections. We should be making it easier for voters to make their voices heard, not drowning them out by allowing big money to pour into our campaigns. Forcing candidates to rely on big donors, powerful corporations and lobbyists for funding fundamentally threatens our First Amendment rights. Our democracy should actually represent the people we serve, not corporations and special interests,” said Murphy.

“The American public is rightfully angry about the torrents of corporate money — including all the secret money spent by shadowy groups — that has flooded our political system since the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United. In our democracy, corporations should not be treated like people and voters should know who is spending gobs of money to influence their vote. That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues in support of this constitutional amendment to end the corporate takeover of our elections by overturning the Citizens United decision. It’s time we finally end the outside influence of special interest spending that is corrupting our democracy,” said Van Hollen.

“Affordable health care or profits for drug companies?  Good schools for our kids or tax cuts for giant corporations? Real solutions to the climate crisis or more pollution robbing the next generation of their future?  If the government works for the privileged and powerful instead of for the people, we get the wrong answer every time,” said Merkley. “If we want to get serious about fixing the most pressing issues facing our nation, we need to put power back in the hands of the people—and that means overturning Citizens United.

"Corporate special interests have an out-sized voice in Washington -- we must give power back to the people," said Hassan. "Granite Staters and Americans across the political spectrum agree: we need to reduce the influence of money in politics. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join us in working to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision."

“Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United opened the floodgates for super PAC spending in our elections. The Democracy for All constitutional amendment will block corporations and rich donors from buying elections to restore power and influence to the voters,” said Feinstein. 

“Nine years ago, the Supreme Court unleashed a flood of dark money into our elections with its Citizens United decision. Since then, corporate interests have funneled millions and millions of dollars to right-wing politicians who are packing our courts with ideologically-driven conservative judges who consistently rule in favor of corporations over individual rights,” Hirono said. “Everyday Americans should get to decide how our country should be run, not wealthy corporations and a handful of partisan, conservative judges. That’s why it’s so important that we restore democratic power to the American people by enacting this amendment.”

The Democracy for All Amendment is backed by a broad range of campaign finance and government reform advocates, including End Citizens United, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, American Promise, Common Cause, Free Speech For People, and Union of Concerned Scientists. Statements of support are available HERE.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) introduced legislation to add approximately 40 coastal acres of land to Fort Monroe National Monument, a move that would unify the two divided sections of Fort Monroe and achieve an unbroken coastline along the Chesapeake Bay. This legislation comes after the failure of the Trump Administration to accept approximately 40 acres of land from the Commonwealth of Virginia, which has offered to donate the land to the Department of Interior.

“With its rich history, Fort Monroe is unlike any other national monument. It’s uniquely positioned to tell some of our nation’s most significant stories on a compact and highly accessible site in the middle of an urban area,” said the Senators. “This legislation will finally unify Fort Monroe, from Old Point Comfort north to the end of the property, thus protecting the land’s iconic history and its recreational value on the Chesapeake Bay.”

Fort Monroe was built between 1819 and 1834 to protect the entrance to Hampton Roads. During the Civil War, Major General Benjamin Butler issued his famous "contraband decision” at Fort Monroe, ordering that escaped slaves who reached Union lines could not be returned to bondage. It was this courageous decision that earned Fort Monroe the nickname “Freedom's Fortress.”

In addition to adding approximately 40 acres of land in the eastern part of the Wherry Quarter, the Fort Monroe National Monument Land Acquisition Act would require the Secretary of the Interior to work with the Commonwealth to solve the issue of managing several non-historic buildings on the land.

“Transferring this parcel to the National Park Service will help connect and protect important natural, cultural, and historic resources at Fort Monroe. We look forward to Congress passing this important legislation.” – Matthew J. Strickler, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources.

“We are very pleased that Senators Warner and Kaine have introduced a bill providing for the addition of 44 acres of Chesapeake Bayfront land to Fort Monroe National Monument. The addition of this critical land, to be generously donated by Virginia, will both physically unite the National Monument and permanently preserve more valuable Chesapeake Bay shoreline for the American people. This long awaited addition has been structured to minimize any additional costs for the National Park Service and will serve to increase the appeal of Fort Monroe overall, thus promoting the financial sustainability of Fort Monroe as a whole.” – Mark Perreault, President, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park.

“We commend Senators Warner and Kaine for their efforts to strengthen Fort Monroe by uniting divided sections of the monument into a contiguous national park. As the birthplace of the Civil War-era sanctuary movement, Fort Monroe serves as a powerful touchpoint for our nation’s history in regards to slavery, the Civil War and the civil rights movement. Since the monument’s creation in 2011, NPCA and our supporters have worked diligently to connect these lands to make one united park. Thanks to their leadership, visitors to Fort Monroe National Monument will enjoy the star fort and an unbroken coastline along the Chesapeake Bay, and learn just how much Freedom’s Fortress means for our nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia.” – Theresa Pierno, President and CEO, National Parks Conservation Association.

“The partnership between the Fort Monroe Authority and the National Park Service allows for the property at Fort Monroe to be seamlessly available to the public. This additional land will unify the beaches under one property owner and guarantee the public access for all future generations.” – Glenn Oder, Executive Director, Fort Monroe Authority.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime advocates of expanding Fort Monroe. In June 2018, the Senators, along with a bipartisan coalition of the Virginia Congressional Delegation, sent a letter to then-Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke requesting that the Park Service accept the Commonwealth’s land donation offer.

The full text of the bill is available here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) are urging the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to launch a public safety campaign to educate the public about the dangers of beach umbrellas. The popular beach accessories can quickly become hazards when propelled by wind through the air, as has happened on several occasions in recent years, as in 2016, when Lottie Michelle Belk was struck in the torso and killed while vacationing in Virginia Beach with her family. Last month, a toddler was nearly impaled by a flying beach umbrella in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Today’s letter to Acting CPSC Chairwoman Ann Marie Buerkle is a follow-up to one the Senators sent in May along with Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-NJ) regarding the documented safety risks posed by beach umbrellas. In a June response, the CPSC noted that an estimated 2,800 beach umbrella-related injuries were treated in emergency departments nationwide from 2010 to 2018. Despite that, the CPSC also noted that it currently does not regulate the safety of beach umbrellas and is unaware of any voluntary standards specifically for beach umbrellas. Today, the four lawmakers urged the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) to take more aggressive action to protect beachgoers from the dangers of wind-swept beach umbrellas that can cause serious injury or even death. 

“As Americans flock to the beach this summer season, we believe it is imperative that the CPSC ensure that a day at the beach isn’t turned into a day at the emergency room,” the Senators wrote.  

The lawmakers mentioned other notable CPSC public education campaigns that have proven successful in changing people’s behavior and encouraging greater precaution. Specifically, they pointed to the 2010 “Safe Sleep Campaign” to educate parents and caregivers about how best to make nurseries safe; the 2015 “Anchor It!” campaign to warn of the dangers of furniture tip-overs; the annual July 4th fireworks safety campaign; and a 2017 alert to the public of fidget spinner choking hazards.  

The Senators also pressed CPSC on whether it has considered the efficacy of a weighted system or other safety measures that could be taken to reduce the risk of umbrellas becoming airborne and endangering beach-goers.                                               

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

 

July 29, 2019

Ann Marie Buerkle

Acting Chair, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

4330 East West Highway

Bethesda, MD 20814

Dear Chairman Buerkle,

We write in the wake of your June 7, 2019 response to our May 2, 2019 letter regarding the documented safety risks posed by beach umbrellas. Your letter stated that, over the nine-year period from 2010-2018, an estimated 2,800 people sought treatment in emergency rooms for injuries related to beach umbrellas. A majority of those injuries were caused by a wind-blown beach umbrella. As we noted in our letter, unsafe beach umbrellas have even proved fatal to our constituents. 

As Americans flock to the beach this summer season, we believe it is imperative that the CPSC ensure that a day at the beach isn’t turned into a day at the emergency room. To that end, we write to specifically ask that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launch a public safety campaign to educate the public about the dangers of beach umbrellas. In addition, we write with additional follow-up questions regarding whether the Commission considered the efficacy of certain design or technical changes to beach umbrellas.

As your letter acknowledges, there is currently no CPSC-led public education campaign on the dangers of beach umbrellas. Yet, a July 6, 2019 tweet and Instagram post from the CPSC’s social media accounts remind consumers to properly stake their beach umbrellas.  We were pleased to see the CPSC take the issue of beach umbrella safety seriously. Notably, your June 7 letter states: “CPSC technical staff believes that an information sheet on the potential hazards could be developed.” We agree, and formally request that the CPSC develop safety and educational resources for the public. As you know, the CPSC has a history of such public safety campaigns.

In 2010, the CPSC implemented the “Safe Sleep Campaign” in part to “educate parents and caregivers about the most effective ways to make a nursey safe.”  In 2015, the CPSC launched “Anchor It!”, a national public safety campaign to educate the public about the dangers of furniture tip-overs.  In addition, every July 4th the CPSC reminds the public of the dangers of fireworks.  In August 2017, the CPSC went so far as to warn the public of the dangers of fidget spinners, stating that the popular toys pose a choking hazard.  Surely, the dangers of a beach umbrella turned flying spear – and the large number, and often gruesome nature, of these incidents – warrant the attention of the Commission. 

Your June 7 letter stated that “[t]echnical staff does not believe a safety standard would have a substantial effect on injuries from beach umbrellas incidents.” The letter states that the CPSC considered requiring a performance standard, requiring umbrellas to “contain venting”, the development of a staking requirement, and the development of a warning label system. Your letter does not however indicate whether the CPSC considered the efficacy of a weighted system, or any other alternative system options. To that end, we request responses to the following questions:

1.      Has the CPSC considered whether a weighted system or another alternative, could best mitigate the risk of a wind-blown beach umbrella?

2.      What information would factor into a decision as to whether the CPSC would recommend a weighted system or an additional or alternative safety feature for beach umbrellas? 

3.      Is the CPSC aware of any instance where an umbrella secured with a weighted system caused an injury?

We appreciate CPSC’s willingness to consider this issue and look forward hearing back from you by August 30, 2019.  Should you have further questions please contact Shelby Boxenbaum in Senator Menendez’s office at 202-224-4744.  

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced that eight Virginia airports will receive $13,260,486 in funds from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help enhance new and existing infrastructure. The airports receiving funding serve the following Virginia cities: Charlottesville, Culpeper, Danville, Farmville, Mattaponi, Melfa, Quinton, and Roanoke.  

“We’re pleased to announce this funding to help Virginia airports improve their infrastructure,” said the Senators. “These grants will support our local airports as they work to make travel easier for Virginians.”

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport will receive a grant of $3,690,181 to expand an apron.

Culpeper Regional Airport will receive a grant of $330,400 to remove obstructions.

Danville Regional Airport will receive a grant of $3,553,544 to rehabilitate an apron.

Farmville Regional Airport will receive a grant of $3,437,861 to rehabilitate a runway as well as reconstruct its lighting.

Middle Peninsula Regional Airport will receive a grant of $1,624,500 to rehabilitate a taxiway.

Accomack County Airport will receive a grant of $94,500 to rehabilitate an apron.

New Kent County Airport will receive a grant of $300,000 to conduct an environmental study.

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport will receive a grant of $229,500 to reconstruct airfield guidance signs, reconstruct runway lighting, and reconstruct taxiway lighting.

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

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Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and 43 of her fellow Democratic senators sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar slamming the Trump-Pence Administration’s new gag rule that compromises the Title X family planning program and the health care of millions of people who rely on Title X-funded providers for cancer screenings, STI screenings, contraceptive care, family planning services, and more. The letter came as the Administration’s minimal and conflicting guidance about its harmful rule has caused confusion and concern among providers. The Senators called on the Trump Administration to reverse course on the rule and maintain the essential care Title X-funded clinics provide for over four million patients nationwide.

“Over the past few weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided minimal and conflicting guidance to health care providers about how and when the Department intends to enforce the Trump Administration’s Title X rule. This rule will undermine the essential confidential nature of the patient-provider relationship at the nearly 4,000 health centers receiving Title X funding. It will also needlessly compromise health care for the millions of people who rely on the critical services provided by those centers, including comprehensive family planning and screening for diseases such as HIV and cancer. In light of this dangerous impact and the many concerns raised by health care providers, patients, and other stakeholders throughout the development of this rule, we believe the rule should be rescinded,” wrote the Senators.

“Four million patients who rely on Title X-funded programs now face limited options, as clinics and providers recognize the new regulation will force them to choose between receiving federal funds and upholding the confidential relationship between patient and health care provider,” the Senators warned.

The Trump Administration’s gag rule undermines the historically bipartisan Title X family planning program and will impact roughly 4,000 Title X-funded clinics operating in all 50 states. The rule interferes with the essential confidential nature of the patient-provider relationship and needlessly compromises health care for the millions of people—particularly poor and low-income patients—who seek care at Title X-funded clinics.

The letter was also signed by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Angus King (I-ME), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Mark Warner (VA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

Read the full letter below or access the PDF version HERE:

 

July 26, 2019
 
The Honorable Alex M. Azar II                    
Secretary        
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services      
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
 
Dear Secretary Azar, 

Over the past few weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided minimal and conflicting guidance to health care providers about how and when the Department intends to enforce the Trump Administration’s Title X rule. This rule will undermine the essential confidential nature of the patient-provider relationship at the nearly 4,000 health centers receiving Title X funding. It will also needlessly compromise health care for the millions of people who rely on the critical services provided by those centers, including comprehensive family planning and screening for diseases such as HIV and cancer.

In light of this dangerous impact and the many concerns raised by health care providers, patients, and other stakeholders throughout the development of this rule, we believe the rule should be rescinded. 

For decades, Title X-funded clinics have provided high quality health care to patients. The historically bipartisan program is intended to offer a full range of confidential and unbiased family planning services. Title X-funded clinics not only provide access to contraception, allowing women to choose whether and when to start a family, but also offer cancer and HIV screenings, STI screenings and treatment, and related preventive services. Four million patients who rely on Title X-funded programs now face limited options, as clinics and providers recognize the new regulation will force them to choose between receiving federal funds and upholding the confidential relationship between patient and health care provider. That is why health care providers, including the American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and nearly half of all States have filed lawsuits against HHS to challenge this rule. 

In fact, health care providers have indicated the ideology-based restrictions put them in the untenable position of deciding between offering substandard care and withdrawing from the program, potentially compromising health care access for the poor and low-income patients who rely on them. Six in ten of the women who obtain publicly funded contraceptive care at a safety-net health center, receive that care through a Title X-funded center.  HHS should be seeking to increase access to contraceptive care, not advancing policies that sow confusion and make it harder for women to access the health care they need. 

We urge you to reconsider this harmful rule and instead work with health care providers to maintain policies that will help ensure that women have access to the family planning services, cancer screenings, and STI screenings and treatment that they rely on Title X-funded clinics to provide. Please contact Laurel Sakai with Senator Murray’s HELP Committee staff with any questions at (202) 224-7675.  

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate has designated tomorrow, July 26, 2019 as “United States Intelligence Professionals Day,” following passage of a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC), and every member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The text of the resolution, adopted today by unanimous consent, celebrates the courage, fidelity, sacrifice, and professionalism of the hardworking men and women of our nation’s intelligence agencies, just ahead of the 72nd anniversary of the National Security Act of 1947 that laid the foundation for today’s intelligence community.  

“The courageous men and women of our intelligence community are one of the first lines of defense for our country,” said Vice Chairman Warner. “Because of the secret nature of their jobs, their sacrifice, loyalty, and hard work often go unheralded, even as they save American lives. They should have our respect and our tremendous gratitude not only today, but every day of the year.”

“As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’ve witnessed the dedication, professionalism, and sacrifice the men and women of our intelligence community bring to their jobs each day,” said Chairman Burr. “I understand the magnitude of their work, which is done without public acknowledgment or credit, and what it means to America’s national security. Today and every day, these patriots deserve our recognition and gratitude for their service to keeping our nation safe.”

“Having served on the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2001, I am very familiar with the work of the men and women of our intelligence community. This work is often dangerous and is rarely able to be fully appreciated, but nonetheless it’s essential to keep our nation safe. Too many of their successes go unnoticed by the general public, so I’m proud to cosponsor this resolution thanking these dedicated women and men for their hard work and service,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee I see firsthand the incredible commitment that our nation’s intelligence professionals exhibit,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said. “The public often never learns of the accomplishments and sacrifices of the men and women of our intelligence community. Nevertheless, we are grateful for the important work that they do to serve our country, often in the shadows, and keep Americans and our allies safe. I am proud to join my colleagues in publicly honoring these dedicated patriots.”

“To ensure the safety of our country and our citizens, the hard working men and women serving in the intelligence community make countless sacrifices every day,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).  “I am continuously impressed by the high level of professionalism, patriotism, and courage that our intelligence professionals exhibit.  Our resolution will ensure that these Americans, who must operate in the shadows, receive well-deserved recognition for their public service.”

“Our nation's intelligence professionals are dedicated, patriotic men and women who make real sacrifices to help keep our country safe and free. I am proud to recognize them for their public service,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

“We live in an increasingly complex and dangerous world, and the contributions made by our intelligence professionals play a critical part in our national security,” said Sen. Angus King (I-ME). “These men and women are our first line of defense, working diligently – and often in the shadows – to assess threats and gather information so policy makers can be fully informed as to the scope of the threats against the American people. Perhaps most importantly: these professionals are patriots, working not on behalf of an individual or a political party but for the safety of the American people. The dedication, skill, and patriotism demonstrated by intelligence professionals day in and day out provide peace of mind in complicated times.  For their efforts, they are owed our utmost respect and gratitude.”

“Intelligence professionals work tirelessly to ensure decision makers have all the facts they need to protect our nation,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). “Today is a unique opportunity to recognize these heroes and show our gratitude for all they do to keep America safe.”

“Our intelligence professionals do essential work to help us understand the threats we face as a nation. Theirs can often be a thankless job, and today we recognize them for their service and patriotism,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

“We owe the men and women who serve in our nation’s intelligence community a profound debt of gratitude,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). “So often, the work intelligence professionals do to keep our nation safe happens behind the scenes and involves individuals whose stories will never be told. I’m proud to join with my colleagues today to express our deepest thanks to these courageous Americans.”

“The men and women of our Intelligence Community serve with quiet courage and sacrifice, and without expectation of recognition or acknowledgement,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). “Today we honor their unwavering professionalism, commitment to mission, and spirit of service, and thank them for their tireless efforts to protect our country.”

“The patriots working in America’s intelligence community are on the front lines of national defense,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). “Their relentless professionalism and quiet strength protect our freedom every day. While their hard-fought victories are rarely disclosed, the American people are grateful for these men and women.”

The resolution was sponsored by every member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led by Vice Chairman Warner and Chairman Burr, and including Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), James Risch (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Text of the resolution can be found here and below.

 

Designating July 26, 2019, as ‘‘United States Intelligence Professionals Day’’.

Whereas on July 26, 1908, Attorney General Charles Bonaparte ordered newly-hired Federal investigators to report to the Office of the Chief Examiner of the Department of Justice, which subsequently was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation;

Whereas on July 26, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.), creating the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thereby laying the foundation for today’s intelligence community;

Whereas the National Security Act of 1947, which appears in title 50, United States Code, governs the definition, composition, responsibilities, authorities, and oversight of the intelligence community of the United States;

Whereas the intelligence community is defined by section 3 of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3003) to include the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, other offices within the Department of Defense for the collection of specialized national intelligence through reconnaissance programs, the intelligence elements of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the Department of State, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis of the Department of the Treasury, the elements of the Department of Homeland Security concerned with the analysis of intelligence information, and other elements as may be designated;

Whereas July 26, 2019, is the 72nd anniversary of the signing of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.);

Whereas the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108–458; 118 Stat. 3638) created the position of the Director of National Intelligence to serve as the head of the intelligence community and to ensure that national intelligence be timely, objective, independent of political considerations, and based upon all sources available;

Whereas Congress has previously passed joint resolutions, signed by the President, to designate Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, Patriot Day on September 11, and other commemorative occasions, to honor the sacrifices of law enforcement officers and of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001;

Whereas the United States has increasingly relied upon the men and women of the intelligence community to protect and defend the security of the United States in the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001;

Whereas the men and women of the intelligence community, both civilian and military, have been increasingly called upon to deploy to theaters of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere since September 11, 2001;

Whereas numerous intelligence officers of the elements of the intelligence community have been injured or killed in the line of duty;

Whereas intelligence officers of the United States are routinely called upon to accept personal hardship and sacrifice in the furtherance of their mission to protect the United States, to undertake dangerous assignments in the defense of the interests of the United States, to collect reliable information within prescribed legal authorities upon which the leaders of the United States rely in life-and-death situations, and to ‘‘speak truth to power’’ by providing their best assessments to decision makers, regardless of political and policy considerations;

Whereas the men and women of the intelligence community have on numerous occasions succeeded in preventing attacks upon the United States and allies of the United States, saving numerous innocent lives; and

Whereas intelligence officers of the United States must of necessity often remain unknown and unrecognized for their substantial achievements and successes: Now, therefore, be it

1 Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) designates July 26, 2019, as ‘‘United States Intelligence Professionals Day’’;

(2) acknowledges the courage, fidelity, sacrifice, and professionalism of the men and women of the intelligence community of the United States; and

(3) encourages the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

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WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 333-96 to approve the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) to protect horses from the abusive practice known as “soring,” in which show horse trainers intentionally apply substances or devices to horses’ limbs to make each step painful and force an exaggerated high-stepping gait rewarded in show rings. Although federal law currently prohibits soring, a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General (IG) has found that some horse trainers often go to great lengths to continue this inhumane practice.

“Horses have been a part of our Commonwealth’s history and culture since the settling of Jamestown, and like all animals, they deserve to be treated with care and compassion,” said Sen. Warner. “Now that the House has voted, on a bipartisan basis, to protect these animals from the cruel practice of inflicting deliberate suffering for show purposes, the Senate must act.”

The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act would:

  • Eliminate self-policing by requiring the USDA to assign a licensed inspector if the show's management indicates intent to hire one. Licensed or accredited veterinarians, if available, would be given preference for these positions.
  • Prohibit the use of action devices and pads on specific horse breeds that have a history of being the primary victims of soring. Action devices, such as chains that rub up and down an already-sore leg, intensify the horse's pain when it moves so that the horse quickly jolts up its leg.
  • Increase consequences on individuals caught soring a horse, including raising the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony, which is subject to up to three years' incarceration, increasing fines from $3,000 to $5,000 per violation, and permanently disqualifying three-time violators from participating in horse shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.

The PAST Act has support from the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, among others.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) voted in the Senate Finance Committee to approve bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs, sending the legislation to the full Senate for consideration. One recent report on the cost of prescription drugs in Virginia found that the annual cost of prescription drug treatment increased by 57.8 percent between 2012 and 2017, dramatically outpacing the 8.5 percent growth in Virginians’ incomes over the same period. The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 (PDPRA), which was approved by a bipartisan Committee vote of 19-9, will help address the rising cost of prescription drugs by taking on industry price hikes and protecting seniors with the highest out-of-pocket costs.

The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 takes key steps to lower prescription drug costs by overhauling the Medicare Part D program and creating a $3,100 yearly out-of-pocket cap to protect seniors with high drug costs. In addition, the legislation creates a price hike penalty for pharmaceutical companies if they raise the cost of a prescription drug faster than the rate of inflation. The bill also includes a provision similar to Sen. Warner’s bipartisan legislation that would allow state Medicaid programs grappling with rising drug costs to explore value-based pricing arrangements that peg the price of a drug to its effectiveness.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 (PDPRA) will save seniors $27 billion in out-of-pocket costs and will generate more than $100 billion in taxpayer savings over the next 10 years.

In Congress, Sen. Warner has long pushed for policy changes to help lower prescription drug costs for Virginia seniors and families. In January, Sen. Warner re-introduced legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices—a move that would cut costs for nearly 43 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D.

Following today’s Committee vote, Sen. Warner released the below video statement:

 

“Hi, I’m Senator Mark Warner and I want to talk about out-of-control prices on prescription drugs.

“I think every family in Virginia has seen increasing costs on prescription drugs. Matter of fact, the overall cost of drugs in our country have doubled since 2002. I hear on a regular basis from Virginians who say they have to choose between paying for their drugs or paying for food or rent. In a country like ours, that’s just unacceptable.

“I also know how many families have to deal with, particularly, family members who’ve got pre-existing conditions. My three daughters – I’ve got one daughter with juvenile diabetes and another daughter with asthma – and I’ve seen the cost of their drugs go up exponentially. One of the worst cases has been the enormously increasing costs on insulin – a drug that’s been around, literally, for close to one hundred years, yet we’ve seen its prices almost quadruple.

“Now, I’m pretty lucky because I’ve got insurance that takes care of that. But too many families across Virginia and across our country – they don’t have full coverage in insurance, or even within Medicare, many of our seniors are confronted with something called the donut hole where they have to pay too much in out-of-pocket costs.

“Now, in a country like ours, that shouldn’t be the case. So I’m actually proud to report that as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, today we passed legislation that will start to put a cap on drug prices.  We’ve put plans in place to make sure that drug prices can’t rise faster than inflation. Matter of fact, the bill that we passed out today ends up saving seniors over $27 billion dollars.

“Now, this legislation doesn’t go as far as I’d like. I actually believe that in America we ought to be able to negotiate for drug prices the same way that other governments do around the world and I’m going to continue to work towards that, but this first step of legislation that we’ve taken today will end up creating savings and put downward pressure on the increasing price of drugs. Now, there’s more work we need to do. We need to get this bill out of the Senate Finance Committee – which we did today – get it to the floor of the Senate, get it passed, and get it to the President’s desk.

“There’s no issue that more Virginians and more Americans face on a daily basis than increasing drug prices and we’ve got to make sure that we continue bipartisan efforts to both bring these costs down and to make sure that as new drugs come to the market, they don’t come to the market with extraordinarily high prices.

“I’ll do all I can to continue this fight but today we took an important first step forward.

“Thanks so much.”

 

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