Mark Warner

WARNER REINTRODUCES BICAMERAL, BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO ENSURE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS ARE NO LONGER RESPONSIBLE FOR FORMER SPOUSES’ STUDENT LOAN DEBT

~ Bill would make a commonsense fix to make it easier for borrowers who need to separate their joint consolidation loans ~

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and U.S. Rep. David Price (D-NC) reintroduced bicameral, bipartisan legislation that would provide much-needed relief for individuals who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their spouse. While Congress eliminated the joint consolidation program in 2006, it did not provide a way for borrowers to sever existing loans, even in the event of domestic violence, economic abuse, or unresponsiveness from a former partner. The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, cosponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John Cornyn (R-TX), would fix this oversight, which has unfortunately left too many borrowers liable for their former spouse’s student loan debt.

“Victims of domestic violence who flee their dangerous living situations shouldn’t find themselves burdened with their partner’s debt when trying to move forward with their lives. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for some Americans who are stuck with joint consolidation loans,” said Sen. Warner. “This commonsense bill would help a vulnerable population who’s been unfairly held responsible for their former partner’s debt, by giving them the ability regain their financial independence.”

“This bill is a direct response to my constituent’s experience with a damaging joint consolidation loan. I introduced this bill to provide relief to borrowers who are victims of abusive or uncommunicative spouses by allowing them to sever these loans,” said Rep. Price. “The impact on borrowers is often crippling and I’m grateful for the bipartisan support that this common-sense bill has received. Congressional action is long overdue.” 

“Survivors of domestic violence should never have to pay the debts of their abuser,” Sen. Rubio said. “This legislation would provide financial independence to those survivors who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their partner. I am proud to join Senators Warner and Cornyn in reintroducing this legislation, and I urge my Senate colleagues to support this bill to deliver relief to these individuals.”

“Victims of domestic abuse should never, ever be on the hook for an abusive partner’s debt,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I am proud to join this commonsense, bipartisan effort that will be key in helping vulnerable Texans, and others across the nation, regain their financial autonomy.”

Specifically, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would allow borrowers to submit an application to the Department of Education to split the joint consolidation loan into two separate federal direct loans. The joint consolidation loan remainder – the unpaid loan and accrued unpaid interest – would be split proportionally based on the percentages that each borrower originally brought into the loan. The two new federal direct loans would have the same interest rates as the joint consolidation loan. 

Each borrower would also have the ability to transfer eligible payments made on the joint consolidation loan towards income-driven repayment programs and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act is supported by a number of organizations, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Consumer Law Center, North Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

“When survivors escape abuse, they should be able to start over without the debts of their abusers. We applaud this bill for creating a solution for those survivors who consolidated loans either in good faith or under duress and are now rebuilding their lives,” said Monica McLaughlin, Director of Public Policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. 

“For far too long, many student loan borrowers have been stuck in joint consolidation loans, and this bill ensures that struggling borrowers, including survivors of domestic and economic abuse, who previously consolidated their student loan debts, have the opportunity to regain their financial footing. We applaud Senator Warner and Representative Price for their efforts. This bill would benefit many vulnerable student loan borrowers, and we are proud to support it,” said Persis Yu, Director, Student Borrower Assistance Project for the National Consumer Law Center.

“Survivors of domestic violence in North Carolina face many barriers when they decide to leave an abusive relationship; shouldering the burden of an abusive partner’s debt should not be one of them. We applaud Congressman Price for filing this bill and helping survivors get one step closer to regaining rebuild their lives and regain their financial independence,” said Kathleen Lockwood, Legal & Policy Director at the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“The Action Alliance is pleased to support these efforts to provide victims of domestic and economic abuse with student loan relief. This bill will make a difference for people who need it, and I hope Congress will move swiftly to enact it,” said Jonathan Yglesias, Policy Director at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

A copy of the one-pager can be found here. A copy of the bill text and be found here.

WITH COVID-19 ADDING TO FINANCIAL STRAIN, BIPARTISAN SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO HELP RURAL HOSPITALS KEEP THEIR DOORS OPEN

~ Bill would ensure rural hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) today introduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 to fix a flawed formula that results in disproportionately low Medicare payments for hospitals in rural and low-wage areas. The bill would provide additional financial support for rural hospitals that are already operating on very thin margins and shutting down at record rates during the COVID-19 crisis – with more than 20 rural hospitals closing their doors in 2020 alone.

“In rural communities all over America, having a local hospital, as opposed to having to travel long distances for care, can mean the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated the financial instability many of these facilities were already facing, putting them at greater risk for closure,” said Sen. Warner. “That’s why we’ve got to level the playing field for federal reimbursement rates so that rural hospitals have a fighting chance at keeping their doors open and continuing to provide lifesaving care.”

“Rural hospital closures mean a loss of access to medical care for the millions of Americans who chose to live in those areas. In addition, when a rural hospital closes, a community often loses one of its largest employers. Rural hospital closures are devastating to those communities. Rural hospitals have closed in record numbers in recent years and Tennessee is at the top of the list for the number of facilities lost. One contributing facture is an unfair reimbursement system that favors urban hospitals over rural, the Medicare area wage index. The Save Rural Hospitals bill is bipartisan legislation to create a floor to this calculation that will be a lifeline for the 1 in 4 rural hospitals that are in danger of closing. According to CMS, over 50 hospitals in TN stand to benefit from this legislation. When the rural hospitals benefit, communities benefit. This legislation will protect access to health care for millions of Tennesseans,” said Sen. Blackburn.

“Rural communities in Georgia and across the nation have been devastated by the public health and economic consequences of this once-in-a-century pandemic, and hospitals in these areas that were already struggling to make ends meet have been some of the hardest hit by this crisis. Health care is a human right, and the federal government has a deep role to play in making sure all Georgians, regardless of income or zip code, have access to the care they need to stay healthy and thrive, and so I’m glad to join my colleagues in supporting this common-sense, bipartisan legislation that will help target federal health care dollars to the communities where these investments are most sorely needed,” said Sen. Rev. Warnock.

“Too often, rural hospitals don’t have the necessary support they need to continue providing care for their local communities,” said Sen. Kaine. “With the increased pressure they’ve faced over the last year, it’s so important for Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation to ensure rural hospitals across the country — including 19 in Virginia— have access to the necessary resources to stay afloat and continue serving their communities amid COVID-19.”

The Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 would help curb the alarming trend of hospital closures in rural communities by making sure hospitals are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government. The “Medicare Area Wage Index,” a formula used by Medicare to reimburse hospitals, is currently much lower for health care providers in rural communities, due to the fact that the formula is based on labor costs, which vary across the country. To make sure rural hospitals are fairly reimbursed, the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 would establish a national minimum “area wage index” of 0.85.

This legislation comes at a crucial time during the unprecedented COVID-19 public health emergency and as hospitals in rural areas already face financial uncertainty. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals in many places, including Virginia, were ordered to postpone profitable elective surgeries in an effort to conserve hospital capacity and scarce supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Reporting indicates that rural hospitals are now closing at an alarming rate, with more than 130 rural hospitals around the nation having closed since 2010.

According to 2021 CMS data, 19 Virginia hospitals will directly benefit from the Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021:

Johnston Memorial Hospital

Abingdon, VA

Lonesome Pine Hospital

Big Stone Gap, VA

LewisGale Hospital - Montgomery

Blacksburg, VA

Southampton Memorial Hospital

Franklin, VA

Twin County Regional Healthcare, Inc.

Galax, VA

Buchanan General Hospital

Grundy, VA

Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital

Harrisonburg, VA

Smyth County Community Hospital

Smyth, VA

Memorial Hospital

Martinsville, VA

Riverside Shore Memorial

Nassawadox, VA

Norton Community Hospital

Norton, VA

Wellmont Mountain View Regional Medical Center

Norton, VA

LewisGale Hospital - Pulaski

Pulaski, VA

Clinch Valley Medical Center

Richlands, VA

Russell County Medical Center

Russell, VA

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital

South Hill, VA

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital

Tappahannock, VA

Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital

Tazewell, VA

Wythe County Community Hospital

Wytheville, VA

The Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 also boasts the support of the National Association of Rural Health Clinics, National Rural Health Association, Tennessee Hospital Association, University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC), Covenant Health and Blount Memorial Hospital, Virginia Rural Health Association, Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, and Ballad Health System.

“Medicare payment policies can at times have unintended consequences in rural health,” said Nathan Baugh, Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Rural Health Clinics. “The Save Rural Hospitals Act will correct one of the flawed formulas contributing to the financial struggles of rural providers.”

“It is critical that we protect rural hospitals so individuals and families in less populated communities in Virginia, and across the United States, can access essential medical services when they need them 24/7/365,” said Sean T. Connaughton, President and CEO of Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of access to hospital-based acute care services at a moment’s notice when seconds and minutes truly matter. Across the country, 180 rural hospitals have closed in the past 17 years, including two in Virginia since 2013. Senator Warner’s Save Rural Hospitals Act of 2021 is a welcome proposal that recognizes the challenging conditions facing many rural hospitals and offers a common sense solution to appropriately adjust reimbursement rates so hospitals aren’t unfairly penalized under an outdated payment methodology that fails to account for current realities.”

“In the struggle to provide health care access, rural hospitals are on the front line nationwide for large numbers of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Alan Levine, Executive Chairman and CEO of Ballad Health, an integrated delivery system in the Appalachian Highlands of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. “The Save Our Rural Hospitals Act will fix long-standing problems in Medicare payment policy which has underpaid rural hospitals year after year, leaving many struggling financially or at worst, closing. This bill recognizes that rural hospitals are increasingly having to recruit nationwide for nurses and other staff in short supply, and Medicare’s Area Wage Index adjustments must account for that.”

Sen. Warner has been a champion for rural health care in Virginia. Earlier this week, Sen. Warner introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Rural Health Clinics Act that would protect nearly 30 rural health clinics in Virginia from unexpected payment cuts. Sen. Warner has also led efforts in Virginia to reopen the closed rural hospital in Lee County, Virginia. The Lee County hospital has now reopened as an urgent care facility and is on track to fully reopen as a hospital later this year.

A copy of the bill text can be found here. A one-page summary can be found here.

WARNER PRESSES IRS TO FIX PROBLEMS DELAYING RELIEF CHECKS

~ Urges IRS to address three specific issues that could delay latest round of direct relief payments for some recipients ~

WASHINGTON – With more than 7 million Virginians slated to get over $9 billion in relief as a direct result of the American Rescue Plan, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) urging the agency to ensure that families receive their promised COVID-19 stimulus payments by quickly and proactively addressing three common issues that Virginians experienced with the last round of economic impact payments (EIPs) earlier this year.

“I write today following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to raise specific issues my constituents had in accessing their second economic impact payments (EIP) in hopes those problems can be resolved and taken into consideration as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the third round of economic impact payments,” wrote Sen. Warner in his letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

In his letter to the IRS, Sen. Warner identified the three most prevalent issues Virginia families ran into when attempting to access their second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. The issues commonly heard from Virginians were:

  1. Couples who filed a 2019 tax return as married filing jointly who reported that only one spouse received a second EIP even though they received a joint EIP in the first round.
  2. Social Security recipients who received the first EIP via direct deposit or direct express card but did not receive the second EIP.
  3. Virginians who reported that the IRS’s Get My Payment application showed that they would either receive their payment via direct deposit or check but never received it.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for Virginians, working to ensure that they get the funds to which they are entitled. Last April, he pressed the Treasury Department to ensure that families who are not normally required to file taxes do not need to wait until the following year to receive the additional $500 payment per dependent child that they were promised. He also successfully pushed the Treasury Department to allow Social Security recipients to automatically receive CARES Act direct cash assistance without needing to file a tax return.

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

Dear Secretary Yellen and Commissioner Rettig,

I write today following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to raise specific issues my constituents had in accessing their second economic impact payments (EIP) in hopes those problems can be resolved and taken into consideration as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the third round of economic impact payments.

The Administration is well aware of the millions of Americans facing economic hardship, and should be applauded for its tireless work to deliver more relief as part of the ARPA. Further, I am appreciative of the IRS’s hard work throughout the pandemic. IRS employees have worked diligently to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in EIPs to Americans while managing the risks associated with COVID-19.

Virginians continue to reach out with specific problems they are having, particularly those trying to access their second EIP. Below, I lay out the three most prevalent issues my staff has identified. To help me respond adequately to my constituents, please review the three issues and answer the following related questions.

  1. Couples that filed a 2019 tax return as married filing jointly are reporting that only one spouse received a second EIP even though they received a joint EIP in the first round. When the spouse not receiving the payment checked the IRS’s Get My Payment App, there was no information. Is the couple’s only recourse to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC)? Is there a reason why the second EIP was treated differently in this situation? Can the IRS take steps to ensure the same problem does not occur with the third EIP?
  2. A number of my constituents who are Social Security recipients received the first EIP via direct deposit or direct express card but did not receive the second EIP. The IRS has said those constituents can file a tax return and claim a RRC but I am concerned for those Social Security recipients who are non-filers and are less equipped to file a tax return to claim their RRC. I am also concerned that these same constituents will not receive their third EIP. Please explain why the IRS did not send the second (December) round of EIPs automatically to Social Security recipients. Will the IRS commit to sending past due checks to Social Security recipients who should have received them? For the third round of EIPs, can the IRS commit to automatically sending checks to Social Security recipients? If not, why not?
  3. Last year, the IRS created a Non-Filers tool to allow non-filers to gain access to the first round of EIPs to address this problem and make it easier for non-filers to access their EIP. Why did the IRS not reopen the Non-Filers tool to help Americans access their second EIP? Will the IRS commit to reopening the Non-Filers tool for the third round of EIP to ensure non-filers can easily access their third EIP? And will they be allowed to use this tool to claim checks owed to them from the first two rounds?

A number of constituents reported that the IRS’s Get May Payment application showed that they would either receive their payment via direct deposit or check but they never received it. Although the payment was issued to them and they qualified based on their 2019 tax return, the RRC is based on their 2020 tax filing. In some situations this has eliminated constituents’ eligibility for the second EIP. Will the IRS offer any flexibility or recourse for constituents in these circumstances?

I know the IRS is working diligently to serve the American people, and I welcome our continued collaboration to help Americans across the country. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

WARNER, TESTER, KING INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO EASE BURDEN OF STUDENT DEBT & STIMULATE ECONOMY

~ Legislation will reset federal student loan interest rates and allow borrowers to refinance their existing student loans ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Angus King (I-ME) today introduced legislation to stimulate the economy and allow borrowers to get a better handle on their student debt during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. This legislation comes as student debt in the U.S. surpasses $1.7 trillion – all while an increasing number of borrowers find themselves unable to pay back their loans due to job scarcity and other extraordinary financial circumstances caused by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. 

“All over the country, we have young people who made a substantial decision to invest in their future, but now find themselves saddled by overwhelming student loan debt during a pandemic that has tanked the economy and shattered the job market,” said U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner. “The way to get our economy back on track is not by having an entire generation of people who are unwilling or unable to make future financial commitments because they are buried by the loans they took out in their late teens or early twenties. This legislation will give student borrowers a real shot at paying back their debt so that in the near future they are able to invest in a home, start up a business, or save for retirement.”

“Young folks across our country are facing unprecedented financial hardship simply because they made a choice to invest in their futures,” said Sen. Tester. “These are the current and future leaders of our communities and it’s critical that they have financial security so they can make investments and purchases to drive our economy forward and help America bounce back from this crisis. This bill will provide student borrowers with more opportunities to pay back their loans so that they are better able to participate in their local economies without the fear of drowning in debt.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has hit our economy hard – and that’s a major problem for the millions of Americans who took out student loans to invest in their future,” said Sen. King. “As the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout continues to unfold, Congress needs to take steps to help these young people have added flexibility and options to meet these obligations. Our legislation provides paths to help get this debt under control – if enacted, it can improve financial prospects for these borrowers while also supporting the overall health of the American economy.”

The Coronavirus Emergency Student Loan Refinancing Act of 2021 would ease the burden of the student debt crisis by:

  • Allowing student loan borrowers to refinance their federal student loans as long as they are in good standing and meet eligibility requirements based on income or the debt-to-income ratio established by the Department of Education. Under the legislation, borrowers would be able to apply to refinance their Direct Loan or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL).
  • Giving borrowers the option to refinance their federal student loans at lower interest rates to the lowest yield of the 10-year Treasury note in the preceding six months, plus a fixed percentage rate established by the Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013.
    • For undergraduate borrowers with Federal Direct Stafford, Unsubsidized, PLUS, and Consolidated loans, the interest rate would be equal to the lowest yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note in the preceding six months plus 2.05 percent;
    • For graduate borrowers with Federal Direct Stafford or Unsubsidized loans, the interest rate would be equal to the lowest yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note in the preceding six months plus 3.6 percent; and
    • For borrowers with PLUS loans, the new interest rate would be equal to the lowest yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note in the preceding six months plus 4.6 percent.

This legislation has the support of a number of organizations, including the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), the National Association of Realtors, and the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce:

“Loans keep people from going to college, loans force students to major in lucrative subjects rather than follow their true work interests and values, and loans force people to postpone making decisions like buying homes and forming families, which hurts all of us. We are fortunate that Senator Warner recognizes this and has stepped up to do something about it,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

“High student loan debt is deterring families and individuals from pursuing the American Dream of homeownership, and its impact has been particularly significant on minority and millennial households. In fact, a 2020 NAR report found that student loan costs have been the single biggest factor inhibiting Americans’ ability to save for a down payment over the past five years. Realtors® applaud Senator Warner for furthering the critical national conversation regarding the impact of student loan debt on the broader U.S. economy, and look forward to working with him to advance this legislation through Congress,” said Charlie Oppler, President of National Association of Realtors.

Bill text is available here. A one-page summary is available here.

WARNER ANNOUNCES BILL TO EXPAND AMERICANS’ ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE COVERAGE IN THE MIDST OF UNPRECEDENTED HEALTH CRISIS

~ As the Biden administration sets to roll out executive orders on health care, the Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 would make health care more accessible and affordable while continuing to protect Americans with preexisting conditions ~

WASHINGTON – With the Biden administration set to unveil details on a series of executive orders to reverse his predecessor’s relentless efforts to sabotage the success of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) will introduce the Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 to help counter the devastating effects the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has had on the record high number of people lacking insurance across the country. Specifically, the Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 aims to protect health care coverage for Americans living with preexisting conditions while also expanding access to quality and affordable health care coverage for working families.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have lost their employer-provided insurance. Amid one of the most unprecedented health and economic health crises our country has faced where an alarming number of Americans already lack health insurance, now is the time to deploy tools to meet the demands on our health care system. As the Biden administration readies its executive orders to expand health care coverage – including reopening the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act  – I’m also introducing legislation that would support the administration’s effort to get more families affordable health care coverage,” said Sen. Warner.

 The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 would lower costs for working families by:

  •  Capping health care costs on the ACA exchanges: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will ensure no individual or family pays more than 8.5 percent of their total household income for their health insurance. Currently, no family making more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line ($51,040 for an individual in 2020) is eligible for premium assistance on the ACA exchanges. This provision – which is supported in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan – expands premium assistance to individuals making more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line and places a cap on insurance costs for all individuals and families on the ACA exchanges.
  •  Establishing a low-cost public health care option: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a low-cost, public health care option for individuals who are eligible to enroll for health care coverage via the ACA exchanges. Establishing a public health care option will increase competition and ensure an added lower cost health care option for more American families.
  •  Authorizing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices: Under existing federal law, the government is explicitly banned from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices. The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will allow the federal government to leverage its purchasing power to negotiate prices and reduce drug costs for more than 37 million seniors on Medicare.
  •  Allowing insurers to offer health care coverage across state boundaries: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will allow insurers to offer health care coverage across state boundaries, increasing choice and competition among plans and driving down costs while maintaining quality, value and strong consumer protections.
  • Supporting state-run reinsurance programs: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will create a new “State Health Insurance Affordability and Innovation Fund” to support state run reinsurance programs and additional state efforts to reduce premium costs and expand health care coverage. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has previously estimated such programs could reduce health care premiums by 8 percent within one year.

The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will increase access to affordable health care coverage by:

  •  Incentivizing states to expand Medicaid: If all states were to expand their Medicaid programs, the number of uninsured Americans would decrease by more than 2 million. The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will provide additional incentive to states to expand their Medicaid program by temporarily increasing federal matching funds to states that expand their programs and reducing existing administrative payments to states that do not expand their programs. It would also provide retroactive payments to states like Virginia that were late to expand Medicaid and have not received their fair share of federal matching payments.
  • Expanding Medicaid eligibility for new moms: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will allow states to provide new mothers up to 12 months of postpartum Medicaid eligibility. This provision would significantly improve maternal health outcomes by ensuring mothers have access to vital health care services during the immediate months after giving birth.
  • Simplifying enrollment: There are over 7 million Americans currently eligible for cost-free Medicaid coverage, but who are not enrolled due a variety of factors including unnecessary paperwork and a confusing enrollment process. The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will simplify Medicaid and CHIP enrollment by permanently authorizing the successful Medicaid Express Lane Eligibility program and expanding it to include adults. The Department of Health and Human Services will also be required to conduct a study and develop recommendations to allow states to further implement Medicaid and CHIP auto-enrollment for individuals eligible for cost-free coverage.
  • Increasing Medicaid funding for states with high levels of unemployment: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will implement a counter-cyclical Medicaid matching payment from the federal government to ensure that states with high levels of unemployment receive a higher federal matching payment to appropriately account for an increase in Medicaid enrollment. This will ensure states can maintain affordable health care coverage during economic downturns and temporary periods of high unemployment.
  • Funding rural health care providers: Under current law, rural providers are unfairly compensated at a much lower rate than urban providers, making it more difficult for Virginia providers to keep their doors open in underserved communities. The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will create a rural floor for the Area Wage Index formula the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid use to reimburse rural providers. Fixing the Area Wage Index will boost access to affordable health care coverage in Virginia’s rural and medically underserved communities.
  • Reducing burdens on small businesses: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will modernize ACA employer reporting requirements to ensure that businesses can provide comprehensive health care benefits to their employees without additional administrative costs or unnecessary paperwork.

 “As Americans continue to face a once in a century public health crisis, Senator Warner is working to make health care more accessible and affordable for the American people. Senator Warner’s bill would take bold steps to reduce costs, expand coverage, and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions at a time when access to affordable health care has never been more critical. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans should work with Senate leadership to prioritize the health and well-being of Americans by building on the success of the Affordable Care and abandoning their health care sabotage agenda,” said Brad Woodhouse, Executive Director of Protect Our Care.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the deep, structural problems in our health care system: namely, cost is far too big of a burden and not enough people have adequate protection. We must make real reforms to health care, and Third Way applauds Senator Mark Warner for the leadership he has shown in the Health Care Improvement Act of 2020,” said Gabe Horwitz, Senior Vice President for the Economic Program at Third Way. “Among its very important provisions, this legislation would expand coverage by making enrollment in Medicaid automatic whenever a low-income uninsured patient accesses health care. As Third Way has long called for, automatic enrollment makes health care easier for people to navigate and is an important step to achieve universal coverage. The Warner legislation also builds on the Affordable Care Act and makes coverage affordable for millions of middle-class families who currently fall through gaps in the program. And it provides financial relief to states during economic downturns like the one we’re experiencing now by increasing the federal share of Medicaid payments to the states. Americans need far more security and stability in their health care, and we are excited about the vision shown in Senator Warner’s bill.”

“The Virginia Community Healthcare Association represents more than 150 health center sites, serving over 350,000 individuals across the Commonwealth with the goal of ensuring access to primary care for all Virginians. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for quality health care coverage more critical than ever. Senator Warner’s Health Care Improvement Act will advance our shared goal of reducing health care costs and expanding quality health care coverage to more Virginians. We thank him for introducing this legislation and look forward to working with him on this important effort,” said Rick Shinn, Director of Government Affairs for the Virginia Community Healthcare Association.

“Rising health care costs have increasingly become a burden for too many Virginians – making it more difficult to access quality and affordable health care coverage. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of ensuring every American has access to quality health care coverage, and also highlighted significant gaps in access to health care coverage for communities of color and people with low-incomes. Senator Warner’s legislation will improve access to quality health care by closing existing coverage gaps and reducing premiums costs for people who already have health care coverage. We look forward to working with Senator Warner to advance these important priorities,” said Freddy Mejia, Health Policy Analyst, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.

“The Virginia Poverty Law Center applauds Senator Warner’s introduction of comprehensive legislation on health care. The improvements in this bill address a wide range of critical issues that will reduce costs and expand access to care for consumers in Virginia and across the country. Specifically, we strongly support the Senator’s proposals that improve ACA health plan affordability, enhance premium assistance, provide additional incentives for states to expand their Medicaid programs, ensure continuity of health care for new mothers and reduce Medicare drug prices. We encourage Congress to move quickly on this vital legislation that will help so many consumers during and after the COVID pandemic,” said Jill Hanken, Health Attorney, the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

“We at the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) believe that access to quality health care is a right, not a privilege, and that access to comprehensive health services must be recognized and protected as a basic human right. Especially in light of this ongoing pandemic, we continue our commitment to ensuring health care for all. To that end, we support this effort to expand health care coverage in the U.S. AMSA especially supports Medicaid eligibility expansion, the simplification of enrollment procedures for Medicaid and SCHIP programs, and the expansion of federal financing. Moreover, we are excited to see efforts that work to reduce prescription drug prices and fight against surprise medical billing. AMSA applauds Senator Warner and the Health Care Improvement Act,” said Dr. Ali Bokhari, President of American Medical Student Association

“The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is aware of how access challenges and high costs in our health care system disproportionally affect people with disabilities. We appreciate Senator Warner’s commitment to work closely with the disability community as he leads efforts to ensure Americans have access to the care and coverage they need.  AUCD supports the Health Care Improvement Act and its commitment to address the pressing needs of reducing health care costs and protecting the rights of people with disabilities,” said Rylin Rodgers, Policy Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

This legislation also boasts the support of The Arc of Northern Virginia, The Autism Society of Northern Virginia, Healthcare for All Virginians Coalition, First Focus Campaign for Children, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Bill text is available here. A section-by-section explainer on the bill is available here.

With President Biden’s expected executive order announcement later today and the introduction of his American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration is set to act on additional priorities Sen. Warner has long called for to improve our nation’s health care system such as re-opening the Affordable Care Act exchanges so that more uninsured individuals can enroll in health care coverage. During the COVID-19 health crisis, Sen. Warner called on the Trump Administration and Congress to make this important change to address the health care coverage crisis we now face.

In line with the forthcoming announcement by the Biden administration, Sen. Warner’s Health Care Improvement Act provides $100,000,000 in funding to support the administration’s effort to fully fund programs to help more Americans enroll in affordable health care coverage. Additionally, President Biden plans to roll back the Trump administration’s actions to sabotage the Affordable Care Act which has undermined our preparedness for and ability to respond to COVID-19 and protect health care coverage for millions of Americans. In 2019, Sen. Warner led the entire Senate Democratic Caucus in a legislative maneuver to protect health coverage  for Americans with preexisting conditions from the Trump Administration’s attempts to undermine those safeguards.

WARNER URGES FACEBOOK, TWITTER & GOOGLE TO REINFORCE EFFORTS AGAINST POLITICAL CONTENT ABUSE AHEAD OF NOVEMBER ELECTION

~ Pushes social media giants to fully embrace the requirements of his bipartisan Honest Ads Act ~

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), former telecommunications entrepreneur and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today urged Facebook, Twitter, and Google to implement robust accountability and transparency standards ahead of the November election, including requirements outlined in the Honest Ads Act – bipartisan legislation championed by Sen. Warner to help prevent foreign interference in elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements.

In individual letters to FacebookGoogle, and Twitter, Sen. Warner detailed the various ways in which each company continues to contribute to the spread of disinformation, viral misinformation, and voter suppression efforts. He also warned about the imminent risk of bad actors once again weaponizing American-bred social media tools to undermine democracy ahead of the November election, and urged each company to take proactive measures to safeguard against these efforts.

In his letter to Facebook, Sen. Warner criticized the platform’s efforts to label manipulated or synthetic content, describing these as “wholly inadequate.” He also raised alarm with instances of Facebook’s amplification of harmful content.

“The pervasiveness of political misinformation on Facebook – and the ways in which your company chooses to amplify it – was on display just this week, when a baseless conspiracy about Vice President Biden was highlighted on Facebook’s own News Tab, a result of Facebook choosing to amplify The Daily Caller as a verified news publisher and fact-checker despite its long track record of promoting false information,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “More broadly, Facebook has repeatedly failed to ensure that its existing policies on political advertising are being enforced– an issue that my colleagues and I recently raised in a separate context relating to Facebook’s failure to enforce its policies against violent far-right organizations.  Facebook has long been accused of facilitating divisive advertisements from dark money groups.  A recent report by Avaaz revealed that despite Facebook’s claims to prohibit false and misleading information in ads by outside political groups, it allowed hundreds of such ads in key swing states earlier this month to be run by super PACs.  And despite your personal pledge to stamp out voter suppression efforts on Facebook, a recent report by ProPublica revealed that voting misinformation continues to flourish on Facebook.”

Similarly, in a letter to Google, Sen. Warner raised concern with the company’s efforts to combat harmful misinformation – particularly disinformation about voting, spread by right-leaning YouTube channels. He also criticized the comprehensiveness of Google’s ad archive, which presently excludes issue ads.

“Concerns with the comprehensiveness of Google’s archive extend beyond simply Google’s under-inclusive policies. Prominent researchers have identified multiple glaring examples where qualifying political advertisers have been omitted from the ad archive… Moreover, a marketer recently demonstrated how easy it is to circumvent Google’s verification systems for political ads – running a series of search ads, targeted to run alongside election-related search queries, that attacked Presidential candidates without being included in Google’s ads database or being accompanied by a disclaimer,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “Further, researchers found a particularly egregious example of election disinformation – spread via Google search ads – that ostensibly targeted to users looking for information about voter fraud.  The ad would not appear in Google’s ad archive, given its exclusion of issue ads; moreover, the ad clearly violated ad policies relating to “claims that are demonstrably false and could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.” The same researchers have found similar ads promoting false information about the election  – ostensibly indicating a systemic failure by Google in enforcing its advertising policies.”

In his letter to Twitter, which has banned paid political content and placed restrictions on cause-based advertising, Sen. Warner noted that doctored political content continues to spread organically without adequate labeling that slows its spread or contextualizes it for users. 

“I ask that Twitter examine and strengthen its synthetic and manipulated media policy as it applies to political misinformation – particularly in the context of organic content,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “I appreciate the leadership Twitter has demonstrated to take steps against the promotion of false, deceptive, and manipulated political content; however, more must be done to secure our political discourse from disinformation on digital platforms like yours. Under your company’s existing policy, manipulated media has still reached millions of users with only limited response from your platform. 

In all three letters, Sen. Warner urged the companies to reinforce their efforts against abuse of paid and organic content policies, and to more aggressively identify, label, and remove manipulated or synthetic media to prevent efforts to amplify disinformation by Russia and other bad actors, both foreign and domestic. Sen. Warner also posed a series of different questions for each company on a number of issues, including the availability of political ad targeting information, the enforcement of companies' own policies, the adoption of a bounty to remunerate researchers who identify policy violations, and the measures being taken to slow the coordinated dissemination of deceptive, synthetic, or manipulated media.

The Honest Ads Act, as introduced by Sens. Warner, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would safeguard the integrity of American democracy by requiring large online platforms to maintain public records of advertisers who purchase political ads. It would:

  • Amend the definition of ‘electioneering communication’ in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, to include paid internet and digital advertisements.
  • Require digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly visitors to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. This file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
  • Require online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.

Sen. Warner has written and introduced a series of bipartisan bills designed to protect consumers and reduce the power of giant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. Among these are the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act – bipartisan legislation to require data harvesting companies to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit; the Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act – bipartisan legislation to prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces to trick consumers into handing over their personal data; and the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act – bipartisan legislation to encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose.

STATEMENT OF SENATE INTEL VICE CHAIR SEN. MARK R. WARNER ON THE INTEGRITY OF OUR ELECTIONS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the below statement:

“Our nation has a 200-year history of successful elections, followed by a peaceful transfer of power. Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee received a briefing on election security from our nation’s top officials. We all know that the election process will look different this year, in light of COVID-19, and we may not know the results on election night. The Intelligence Community (IC) warned that, as a result, the period immediately before and after the election could be uniquely volatile. But we should continue to have faith in the state and local officials who are responsible for the conduct of our elections and the IC and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) officials who help to protect them, and make sure that all the votes are counted. 

“The President of the United States should not be aiding and abetting foreign adversaries who are working  to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the American election system.”

In February 2020, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the third volume in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russian election interference, “U.S. Government Response to Russian Activities,” which was approved on a bipartisan basis by the Republican-led Committee. That report included a series of recommendations for improving the security of our elections in the future, including:

(U) Sitting officials and candidates should use the absolute greatest amount of restraint and caution if they are considering publicly calling the validity of an upcoming election into question. Such a grave allegation can have significant national security and electoral consequences, including limiting the response options of the appropriate authorities, and exacerbating the already damaging messaging efforts of foreign intelligence services. (Page 45)

SCOTT, WARNER INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO INCREASE ACCESS FOR DIABETES CARE

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the PREVENT DIABETES Act. This legislation would increase access to the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) Expanded Model by allowing CDC-recognized virtual suppliers to participate in the program.

"Diabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in South Carolina and disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable communities,” said Senator Tim Scott. “The PREVENT DIABETES Act could deliver life-saving results for older Americans in the Palmetto State and across the country."

"It’s no secret that diabetes is a disease that has disproportionately affected minority communities across the country. To ensure that all individuals have the tools needed to combat this preventable disease, the PREVENT DIABETES Act would help expand access to virtual classes under the existing Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program. This commonsense and cost-saving expansion will ensure that more Americans at-risk of developing diabetes who are living in either rural or medically underserved communities, can participate in this critical program that has been proven to delay the full onset of this preventable disease," said Sen. Warner.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is a higher prevalence of diabetes within minority populations. Diabetes affects 16.4 percent of Black adults, 14.9 percent of Asian adults, and 14.7 percent of Latino adults, compared to 11.9 percent of White adults. To help combat these alarming trends, the PREVENT DIABETES Act would provide access to virtual programs under the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) to help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. The MDPP Expanded Model (EM) leverages evidence-based interventions to prevent the full onset of type 2 diabetes in at-risk Medicare beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the existing MDPP Expanded Model is only available through in-person sessions, making it more difficult for individuals in rural or medically underserved areas to participate in the program.

In October 2019, Senators Scott and Warner wrote to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging him to expand the program by administrative action and more recently, to allow beneficiaries to access the program via a virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS has temporarily allowed individuals to access the program via a virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this administrative change still excludes a number of providers and does not ensure long-term access to a virtual benefit. This legislation will improve access to the program by ensuring individuals can access the MDPP Expanded Model via virtual suppliers.

This legislation is supported by American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists, The Connected Health Initiative, Endocrine Society, Healthcare Leadership Council, Livongo, Noom, National Kidney Foundation, Novo Nordisk Inc., Omada Health, and YMCA of the USA.

To view the one-pager, click here.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS DEMAND RESPONSE FROM BUREAU OF PRISONS REGARDING WORSENING CONDITIONS AT VIRGINIA FACILITIES

~ Lack of PPE, limited access to essential facilities & worsening food are among some of the issues at Virginia’s facilities ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with Reps. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), demanded answers from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) regarding reports of troubling conditions at Virginia facilities amid the COVID-19 crisis. Expressing frustration with Director Michael Carvajal’s failure to respond to a letter from earlier this year, the lawmakers pressed for answers concerning an ongoing lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and diminished quality of life for incarcerated individuals.

“Nearly four months ago, we sent you a letter detailing the significant risks and challenges COVID-19 posed to the health and safety of staff, incarcerated individuals at FCC Petersburg and USP Lee, and the surrounding communities. We remain deeply concerned that the conditions within those facilities have failed to improve – and in many ways, appear to have deteriorated,” the lawmakers wrote. “One area of particular concern is the continued lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). According to employees at FCC Petersburg, both staff and incarcerated individuals are forced to re-use supplies and masks, which presents serious health and safety risks. Given the close quarters and frequent person-to-person interaction, correctional staff and incarcerated individuals are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Lack of PPE also creates additional risk of community spread outside the facilities. Relatedly, we have learned from facility staff that showers are restricted for individuals incarcerated at FCC Petersburg, a policy which further exacerbates sanitation and hygiene issues during a global pandemic.”

“We have also received numerous reports related to other declining conditions at FCC Petersburg. It is our understanding that access to outdoor recreation, exercise facilities, and phones have been reduced due to the pandemic. We recognize the importance of limiting large group gatherings, and that coordinating these activities can present logistical, health, and safety challenges. However, it is imperative that correctional facilities find new ways to maintain and support a healthy quality of life for incarcerated individuals during this crisis,” they continued. “We have also heard disturbing reports that the food the incarcerated individuals are receiving has declined significantly in both quantity and quality, including being served spoiled food. Such conditions are unacceptable.”

In Virginia, there are two federal correctional institutions in operation, including the U.S. Penitentiary in Lee County and the Petersburg Federal Correctional Complex. Correctional officers at Virginia’s facilities are responsible for approximately 4,144 incarcerated individuals.

In their letter, the four members of Congress also raised concern with reports that correctional staff at FCI Petersburg continue to be denied a lunch break despite working shifts as long as sixteen hours – an issue originally raised in the lawmakers’ May 21st letter. Calling this “unacceptable and dangerous,” they encouraged Director Carvajal to institute a nation-wide break policy in order to address correctional staff’s basic needs.

Additionally, they expressed dismay regarding the transfer of incarcerated individuals between facilities, highlighting that at least one person with a positive case of COVID-19 was transferred to USP Lee. The lawmakers noted that this this lapse in judgment could result in an entirely preventable COVID-19 outbreak inside the prison, endangering staff, inmates and local communities.

The members of Congress have advocated for vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Earlier this year, they requested answers from Director Carvajal regarding issues at the Virginia facilities. Sen. Warner also joined his Senate colleagues in a letter to BOP and the three largest private prison operators inquiring about any policies and procedures in place to manage a potential spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, Sen. Warner and Kaine have urged the Trump Administration time and time and time again to cease the inter-state transfer of people held at immigration detention facilities during the public health crisis.

Full text of today’s letter is available here or below.

Dear Director Carvajal:

We write to reiterate our serious concerns about the health and safety of staff and individuals incarcerated at Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Petersburg and United States Penitentiary (USP) Lee, the two federal correctional facilities in Virginia, and to express our severe frustration at your failure to respond to our letter from May 21, 2020. After speaking with employees and the families of individuals incarcerated at both facilities, it is clear that the situation is worsening. According to figures shared with our offices, there are over 200 incarcerated individuals and at least 12 staff who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at FCC Petersburg.

Nearly four months ago, we sent you a letter detailing the significant risks and challenges COVID-19 posed to the health and safety of staff, incarcerated individuals at FCC Petersburg and USP Lee, and the surrounding communities. We remain deeply concerned that the conditions within those facilities have failed to improve – and in many ways, appear to have deteriorated.

One area of particular concern is the continued lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). According to employees at FCC Petersburg, both staff and incarcerated individuals are forced to re-use supplies and masks, which presents serious health and safety risks. Given the close quarters and frequent person-to-person interaction, correctional staff and incarcerated individuals are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Lack of PPE also creates additional risk of community spread outside the facilities. Relatedly, we have learned from facility staff that showers are restricted for individuals incarcerated at FCC Petersburg, a policy which further exacerbates sanitation and hygiene issues during a global pandemic.

We have also received numerous reports related to other declining conditions at FCC Petersburg. It is our understanding that access to outdoor recreation, exercise facilities, and phones have been reduced due to the pandemic. We recognize the importance of limiting large group gatherings, and that coordinating these activities can present logistical, health, and safety challenges. However, it is imperative that correctional facilities find new ways to maintain and support a healthy quality of life for incarcerated individuals during this crisis. We have also heard disturbing reports that the food the incarcerated individuals are receiving has declined significantly in both quantity and quality, including being served spoiled food. Such conditions are unacceptable.  

Further, as we detailed in our letter nearly four months ago, correctional staff at FCC Petersburg continue to be denied a lunch break, despite reportedly working shifts as long as sixteen hours. This is unacceptable and dangerous. We once again encourage you to institute a break policy—not only at the Petersburg facility, but at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) facilities across the nation—that more appropriately responds to correctional staff’s basic needs.

Additionally, we are particularly dismayed to learn that, despite our concerns, BOP is transferring individuals to facilities without a record of COVID-19 cases. A group of individuals was recently transferred to USP Lee, which included at least one person with a positive case of COVID-19. Such transfers are a potentially deadly lapse in judgment. USP Lee is one of the largest employers in Lee County, Virginia, and not only could this transfer result in an entirely preventable outbreak inside the prison, it is also dangerous for the public health of local community members. 

Finally, your failure to respond to our serious concerns is further heightened by the recent announcement from the BOP that facilities will allow visitations to resume in early October. While we agree that resuming visitations is incredibly important for incarcerated individuals and their families, proper protocols must be in place and followed to ensure the health and safety of the incarcerated individuals, their families, and the surrounding communities. We urge you to take all available steps to ensure vitiations can resume as soon as possible while preserving the health and safety of visitors, staff, and incarcerated individuals.

Given the magnitude of the worsening conditions at USP Lee and FCC Petersburg, we demand an immediate response to how BOP is addressing our concerns by no later than October 5, 2020. As COVID-19 continues to present a significant health challenge at FCC Petersburg and USP Lee, and the surrounding communities, we are committed to working with you to address the needs of incarcerated individuals and correctional staff.

We appreciate your attention to these important issues impacting our constituents and look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

 

 

Governor Northam Statement on the Passing of Former Lieutenant Governor John H. Hager

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam issued the following statement today on the passing of former Lieutenant Governor John H. Hager.

“John Hager devoted his life to public service, and I admired his love for our country and for Virginia. 

“He served in the Army and worked as a businessman, but he will be remembered as a volunteer, an athlete, an author, and a patriot. 

“I first met John after running for public office, and he helped me learn the job of being Lieutenant Governor. Anyone who worked in Virginia politics quickly learned that John was everywhere, and no one outworked him. He earned victory and knew defeat, and he kept going. John held fast to his principles, and he knew when to reach across the aisle to compromise. Our country misses his example. 

“Most of all, John was a family man. Pam and I send our thoughts and prayers to Maggie, Jack, Henry, and the entire Hager family. 

“I have ordered Virginia state flags to be flown at half-staff for ten days in John’s honor.”

Governor’s Flag Order for the Commonwealth of Virginia

This is to order that the flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia is to be flown at half-staff over the state Capitol and all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in respect and memory of former Lieutenant Governor John H. Hager.

I hereby order that the flag shall be lowered until sunset, September 2, 2020.

Ordered on this, the 23rd day of August, 2020.

STATEMENT OF U.S. SEN. MARK R. WARNER

~ On the passing of John Hager ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on the passing of John Hager, former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia:

“I’ve known John Hager for more than 30 years and I can attest that John epitomized the very definition of a true public servant. We worked together on the Virginia Health Care Foundation to ensure all Virginians had access to health care. And during my time as Governor, I was proud of the work he did on my Cabinet, serving as the Director of Homeland Security. John was a great Virginian, who, despite the remarkable obstacles he faced in his personal life, was able to persevere and give back to his community. John was a great friend to me and the Commonwealth he served.

“I want to offer my sincerest condolences to Maggie, the boys, and the entire Hager family on their loss. I will miss him greatly.”

WARNER JOB-CREATING BILL SIGNED INTO LAW

~ The Great American Outdoors Act will help address $1.1 billion in maintenance needs at Virginia national parks ~

~ Bill could create 10,000 Virginia jobs ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. The bipartisan legislation includes Sen. Warner’s Restore Our Parks Act, which would help tackle the $1.1 billion in deferred maintenance at Virginia’s parks and could create up to 10,340 jobs in the Commonwealth alone. The legislation overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives earlier this week and was approved by the Senate in June.

“As the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to financially strain communities across the country, this new law will help create tens of thousands of jobs and make a positive economic impact for gateway communities that depend on our national parks,” said Sen. Warner. “Now that this bill is the law of the land, Virginia’s historical sites will finally start receiving crucial repairs that have been postponed for years. I want to thank my colleagues for joining me in my years-long effort to create jobs and make sure our nation’s historical treasures are around for years to come.”

Today’s bill signing comes nearly three years after Sen. Warner’s initial effort to provide relief to national parks in Virginia, where the maintenance backlog currently sits at $1.1 billion dollars.

In June, the National Park Service released a report that estimated that an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs would be supported nationally by the Restore Our Parks Act if passed as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. In Virginia, it is estimated that 10,340 jobs would be created or supported as a result of Sen. Warner’s push to address the national parks backlog.

In addition, a recent NPS study highlighted the financial impact national parks sites have on Virginia’s economy. Last year, 22.8 million individuals from around the world visited national parks in Virginia, spending $1.2 billion. Additionally, national parks in Virginia helped support 17,300 jobs and contributed over $1.7 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy. Because of the economic impact national parks have on communities across the country, more than 800 organizations have pledged their support for the Great American Outdoors Act.

Sen. Warner’s effort to address the maintenance backlog began in March 2017, when he worked with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the National Park Legacy Act, which would have eliminated the NPS maintenance backlog by creating a thirty-year designated fund to take care of maintenance needs at visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds, as well as transportation infrastructure operated by NPS such as the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Arlington Memorial Bridge. That same year, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced its own proposal, drawing heavily on the initial proposal from Sens. Warner and Portman. However, the Administration proposal – which was introduced in the Senate as the National Park Restoration Act by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Angus King (I-ME) – would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance.

In March 2018, after extensive negotiations among Sens. Warner, Portman, Alexander, and King, the bipartisan group introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan consensus proposal endorsed by the Trump Administration, to invest in overdue maintenance needs at NPS sites. The bill 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. In February 2019, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act and, the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November.

In March 2020, following the President’s announcement that he would back the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act as well as full and permanent funding for LWCF, Sen. Warner, along with Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Portman, King, Alexander, and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide $9.5 billion over five years to the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education to address the deferred maintenance backlog at these agencies. The legislation would also provide permanent, mandatory funding for the LWCF, which provides states and local communities with technical assistance, recognition, and funding to help preserve and protect public lands. Virginia has received approximately $368.5 million in LWCF funding over the past four decades to help protect dozens of national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, trails and more.

 

SENATE PASSES WARNER BILL TO CREATE 10,000 VIRGINIA JOBS & TACKLE $1.1 BILLION IN OVERDUE MAINTENANCE NEEDS AT VIRGINIA NATIONAL PARKS

 

~ Bipartisan bill will address the $12 billion backlog at National Parks nationwide ~ 

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill championed by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) that would address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at National Park Service (NPS) sites across the country and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bipartisan legislation includes Sen. Warner’s Restore Our Parks Act, which would help tackle the $1.1 billion in deferred maintenance at Virginia’s national parks and create up to 10,340 jobs in the Commonwealth alone. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for approval.
 
“Over the past few years, I’ve been sounding the alarm on the mounting costs associated with repairing and maintaining our national park sites across the Commonwealth. Frankly, the National Park Service hasn’t had the federal resources it needs to preserve our natural treasures in Virginia and across the country. Failing to act now would have put these historical treasures at risk, and would have taken a devastating toll on small towns and communities whose economies depend on Virginia’s outdoor tourism industry,” said Sen. Warner. “Last year, Virginia’s national parks helped to support and create 17,300 jobs – an increase of 1,300 from 2018. And once this bill is signed into law, more than 10,000 jobs could be created in Virginia just by the work needed to restore and maintain Park Service sites. I’m proud that the Senate finally passed this commonsense bipartisan solution, and now it’s up to the House to ensure we protect and preserve these irreplaceable resources for years to come.”
 
Today’s Senate passage comes more than three years after Sen. Warner first led the effort to provide relief to national parks in Virginia, where the increasing maintenance backlog surpasses that of every state except for California and the District of Columbia.
 
Earlier this month, the National Park Service released a report that estimated that an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs would be supported nationally by the Restore Our Parks Act if passed as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. In Virginia, it is estimated that 10,340 jobs would be created or supported as a result of Sen. Warner’s push to address the national parks backlog. 
 
Last week, a new NPS study highlighted the financial impact national parks sites have on Virginia’s economy. Last year, 22.8 million individuals from around the world visited national parks in Virginia, spending $1.2 billion. Additionally, national parks in Virginia helped support 17,300 jobs and contributed over $1.7 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy. Because of the economic impact national parks have on communities across the country, more than 800 organizations have pledged their support for getting the Great American Outdoors Act swiftly passed and signed into law.
 
Sen. Warner’s effort to address the maintenance backlog began in March 2017, when he worked with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the National Park Legacy Act, which would have eliminated the NPS maintenance backlog by creating a thirty-year designated fund to take care of maintenance needs at visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds, as well as transportation infrastructure operated by NPS such as the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Arlington Memorial Bridge. That same year, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced its own proposal, drawing heavily on the initial proposal from Sens. Warner and Portman. However, the Administration proposal – which was introduced in the Senate as the National Park Restoration Act by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Angus King (I-ME) – would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance.
 
In March 2018, after extensive negotiations among Sens. Warner, Portman, Alexander, and King, the bipartisan group introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan consensus proposal endorsed by the Trump Administration, to invest in overdue maintenance needs at NPS sites. The bill 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. In February 2019, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Restore Our Parks Act and, the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November.
 
In March 2020, following the President’s announcement that he would back the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act as well as full and permanent funding for LWCF, Sen. Warner, along with Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Portman, King, Alexander, and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which would provide $9.5 billion over five years to the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education to address the deferred maintenance backlog at these agencies. The legislation would also provide permanent, mandatory funding for the LWCF, which provides states and local communities with technical assistance, recognition, and funding to help preserve and protect public lands. Virginia has received approximately $368.5 million in LWCF funding over the past four decades to help protect dozens of national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, trails and more.

 
“Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) is a remarkable achievement in advancing historic bipartisan legislation for our national parks. The National Park Foundation is grateful for Senator Warner’s steadfast commitment to Virginia’s national parks and a bright future for all of our special places with his leadership on this bill. GAOA will ensure that national parks receive the funding required to address deferred maintenance needs, that parks remain accessible to all Americans, and continue to serve as economic engines for local communities in Virginia and across the country,” said Will Shafroth, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation.
 
“Senator Warner helped make history when the Senate passed the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act today, an effort that culminates his years of work to restore our national parks. If the House of Representatives follows through, this will be one of the most significant pieces of conservation and recreation legislation enacted in more than 50 years,” said Marcia Argust, Project Director of the restore America’s parks campaign at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Investment in our parks and public lands will have a high rate of return for park resources, visitors, and local economies, especially in Virginia, where park tourism supports over 17,000 jobs annually.” 
 
“Today, because of the leadership of Congressional park champions like Senator Warner, the momentum to fix our national parks and public lands is stronger than ever before,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. “On top of cuts to funding and staffing, our parks also face billions of dollars in needed repairs, from aging water systems at Grand Canyon to crumbling trails at Shenandoah. Senator Warner has spoken up in support of these treasured places and all they protect for years, and because of his inspiring work on this legislation, we are one step closer to preserving America’s legacy and providing much needed relief to local economies across the country.”
 
“Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act with overwhelming bipartisan support brings us one step closer to an historic achievement on behalf of historic and cultural resources and our public lands. This legislation is a bipartisan solution that would provide $9.5 billion in dedicated funding over five years for much needed repairs of the National Park Service and other federal agencies. Along with fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, this bill would ensure preservation of some of our nation’s most iconic historic places. We thank Senator Warner, along with Senators Portman, Alexander, King, Manchin, Gardner, Daines, Cantwell and others for their leadership on this once-in-a-generation legislative accomplishment for our public lands,” said Tom Cassidy, Vice President for Government Relations and Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
 
“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is an outstanding accomplishment for the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing critical funding for desperately needed repairs and maintenance at our treasured national park sites,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “Virginia is home to national icons including Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and offers some of the most beautiful places in the world for travelers to get outside, slow down, and connect with nature and each other. The funding from the Great American Outdoors Act will greatly benefit our natural wonders, from the shores of Coastal Virginia to the mountainous cliffs of Southwest Virginia. We owe a deep gratitude to Senator Warner for his leadership and for pushing forward such significant legislation, providing vital resources to preserve the beauty and abundance of our natural resources in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
 
“The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than just a scenic road and a connector to the region’s landscape. It is an economic driver for adjacent communities creating a $1.4 billion impact in economic benefits,” said Landon Howard, President of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. “Thanks to Senator Warner’s leadership to restore our national parks, Roanoke, one of the largest communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway, will benefit greatly from the restoration contributing to jobs and the economy in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.”
 
A full list of deferred maintenance needs at Virginia’s national parks can be found here.

Portman, Warner, Alexander, King Announce National Parks Study Showing Restore Our Parks Legislation Will Support More Than 100,000 Jobs Over Next Five Years

NPS Report Estimates an Average of 40,300 Direct Jobs and 100,100 Direct and Indirect Jobs Supported by Restore Our Parks Act

WASHINGTON, DC – June 4 2020, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King (I-ME) announced that a new National Parks Service (NPS) study of their Restore Our Parks legislation found that the legislation will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and a total of 100,100 direct and indirect jobs over the next five years to help address the more than $12 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the NPS. Next week, the Senate will consider S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act, landmark legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog across the federal land management agencies and to provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Great American Outdoors Act includes the Restore Our Parks legislation, which will provide up to $6.5 billion over five years to address priority deferred maintenance needs at our national parks.

“America is hurting right now and folks need jobs. That’s why I’m so pleased the National Parks Service study shows that my bill with Senators Warner, King, and Alexander, the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, will support more than 40,000 direct jobs over the next five years as we rebuild our national parks infrastructure. The Restore Our Parks Act will address the $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at our national park sites throughout the country, including the more than $100 million maintenance backlog in Ohio’s eight national parks. We need our parks more than ever, and our parks need us. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation when it comes to the Senate floor,” said Portman.

“For years, Congress has critically underfunded our national parks resulting in the buildup of $12 billion in deferred maintenance costs. Despite receiving more than 318 million visitors annually, our national parks have been unable to maintain upkeep and repairs on visitor centers, rest stops, trails, campgrounds, and transportation infrastructure operated by the Park Service. Addressing these critical needs will not only help preserve America’s story for generations to come, but it will help support the communities across the country that rely on the economic activity generated by our national parks. In the Commonwealth alone, our national parks support more than 16,000 jobs and contribute $953 million dollars in value added to our economy. I’ve been calling on Congress for years to make these much-needed investments and it’s time we get it done,” said Warner.

“The Great American Outdoors Act is the most important legislation in 50 years to help our national parks and public lands. In addition to cutting in half the deferred maintenance backlog for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and our nation’s 418 other national parks, the National Park Service just announced the legislation will help support over 100,000 new jobs, which is good news for a lot of American families. With the strong support of President Trump and over 800 conservation and sportsmen’s organizations and 59 Senate cosponsors, it should become law by the 4th of July,” said Alexander.  

“Each year, millions of people come from across the globe to see the sun rise from Cadillac Mountain, walk to Thunder Hole, or explore any other of the breathtaking, one-of-a-kind vistas Acadia National Park has to offer,” said King. “When those people come to our state, they spend money – supporting Maine jobs, shops, industries, and communities. Today’s report makes clear just how vital ANP and other national parks around the country are to America’s economy, and emphasizes the importance of our bipartisan Restore Our Parks legislation – which, in light of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on tourism, is needed now more than ever.”

NOTE: Earlier this year, Portman joined several of his colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act. Notably, the legislation includes Senators Portman, Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Angus King’s (I-ME) Restore Our Parks Act, legislation to help address the backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects at the National Park Service (NPS), including over $100 million in deferred maintenance at Ohio’s eight national park sites. Portman worked with his colleagues to expand his legislation in the Great American Outdoors Act to also include funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog at the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education. The Great American Outdoors Act now provides $1.9 billion per year for five years into the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund from half of unobligated on and offshore energy revenues to address maintenance needs on all federal lands.

An Open Letter from Senator Mark Warner

I’m sure folks have seen the protests this weekend in response to George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officers, and years of violence against the Black community. As of writing this email, three of the officers involved have not been charged. We need a full investigation and accountability for all involved in this crime.

Black Americans have been denied justice in our country for far too long. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others should still be alive today — and the painful truth is that if they were white, they probably would be.

For some this moment is a wake up call. For others, this is the America they have always known — simmering just below the surface. We all have a responsibility to challenge racist systems and demand not only justice, but accountability, and meaningful change — starting at home.

It’s easy to simply say hate has no place in America, but as your Senator it’s my duty to do more. Throughout my time in the Senate, I’ve supported measures to prevent discrimination against people of color at work, at school, and at the ballot box. You have my promise that I will continue to fight for legislative changes that make our Commonwealth — and our country — a more just place.

This is a moment to act. I hope you will join me in confronting biases, hate, and discriminatory systems in place in our communities, schools, and in our justice system.

It is not now, nor has it ever been enough, to simply say we believe in equality. We have to show up and do the work to fight against injustice and racism. For some, that means joining protests, or signing a petition. For others, that may mean making a donation amid this challenging time in our country. If you’re looking for ways to take action, consider supporting the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, or an organization in your community focused on securing justice.

And, I leave you with this: the fact remains that the vast majority of us want to live together and want justice for everyone in this country. We must join together to achieve that goal.

Thank you,



— Mark Warner

WARNER, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ENSURE NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS ACTIVATED IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 RECEIVE FULL BENEFITS DURING PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing legislation to ensure that all National Guard troops activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic receive full benefits. The National Guard COVID-19 Response Stability Act would extend Title 32 authority for all troops activated in response to the crisis through the end of the public health emergency – a move that would ensure that the federal government continues covering 100 percent of the costs of this activation. Currently, states have to continue requesting support to avoid a lapse in authorities or federal funding for the troops on the frontline of this crisis. While the Trump Administration gave an extension, it cynically chose a peculiar date that was later revealed to result in a hard deployment stop at 89 days for thousands of National Guard members – one day short of the 90-day threshold to receive additional federal benefits, like access to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

“Our nation is lucky to be able to count on the men and women of the National Guard who are stepping up during this public health crisis,” said Sen. Warner. “While we may not be able to repay them for their selflessness and courage, the very least we can do is make sure they have access to full benefits as they work to fight this deadly pandemic.”

“The Trump Administration’s repeated attempts to nickel and dime members of the National Guard would be wrong under any circumstance, but it is particularly offensive when these troops are responding to a deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed more than 90,000 Americans,” said Sen. Duckworth. “This legislation would ensure that all National Guard troops activated to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are provided with the full benefits they’ve earned and will give states much-needed certainty during these uncertain times.”

Specifically, this legislation would amend federal law to authorize state governors to order members of the National Guard to active duty in connection with COVID-19 response with full federal benefits. This enhanced authority would be in place through the end of the Trump Administration’s declared public health emergency, plus an additional 30 days to allow the Guard to shift away from Title 32 operations. Most recently, the public health emergency declaration was renewed on April 26, 2020 for a period of 90 days.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Duckworth, the legislation was co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for National Guard troops during this crisis. In March, he wrote a letter urging the President to approve Governor Northam’s request to deploy the National Guard to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak in Virginia.

Warner Weekly Wrap Up for May 15th 2020

Happy Friday from the Warner press office. The Senate was once again in session this week, at an appropriate distance, and considered a series of nominations as well as intelligence-related legislation.

 

Here’s your Warner Weekly Wrap-up:

 

 

PAYCHECK SECURITY

 

As the New York Times reported this week, a bipartisan consensus is emerging around a proposal Sen. Warner is supporting to provide relief to Americans who’ve lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. From conservative Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to self-described Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and mainstream members like Sen. Warner somewhere in between, support is growing for the idea of putting paychecks in the hands of Americans who have been laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus.

 

Together with Sanders and Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Warner has released a draft policy white paper proposing a “Paycheck Security Program,” which would effectively guarantee the paycheck of every American furloughed or laid-off worker making under $90,000/year at a business that has suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. This proposal differs in the details from Sen. Hawley’s proposal and another put forward by a group of House Democrats, but the core idea keeping workers on the payroll, with the federal government paying their salary, rather than unemployment benefits, is largely the same.

 

Sen. Warner took to the floor of the Senate on Wednesday to push for inclusion of a Paycheck Security Program in the next coronavirus relief bill and warned that the U.S. could soon face another economic depression if Congress fails to act.

 

 

Sen. Warner, a longtime advocate for reducing the deficit, acknowledged the potential cost of such a program, but he warned that failure to assist the more than 36 million out-of-work Americans could be even costlier, saying:

 

It will be expensive—and I say this as someone who has spent a long time working on trying to reduce the deficit. But when we compare it to the over $600 billion we’ve spent on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has only helped one section of our economy—businesses under 500 employees—that’s done nothing for mid-sized businesses with 500-10,000 workers, I think the alternative will be much cheaper. And it will be pennies compared to the damage that will be done if we fail to adequately assist our fellow Americans in this moment of economic crisis.

 

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives released and voted on its initial proposal for the next coronavirus relief bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he does not plan to bring the bill up for a vote, and so the negotiation process continues. Expect Sen. Warner to continue pushing for inclusion of the paycheck security program in an eventual deal.

 

 

HEALTH PRIVACY

 

As the United States looks for a “new normal” in the age of coronavirus, one of the tools experts say will be critical to combatting the spread of COVID-19 is “contact tracing.” It refers to the technique used by public health officials to track who a person infected with a disease has come into contact with, so that they can be quarantined and treated if necessary. For a pandemic on the scale of coronavirus, that will likely involve the use of technologies such as cell phone location data to determine who an infected person may have come into contact with. In April. Sen. Warner raised concerns about reports that the President’s son-in-law and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner had assembled technology and health care firms to establish a far-reaching national coronavirus surveillance system.

 

This week, as tech companies and public health agencies continue to deploy contact tracing apps and digital monitoring tools to fight the spread of COVID-19, Sen. Warner and a group of his colleagues from the House and Senate introduced the Public Health Emergency Privacy Act to set strong and enforceable privacy and data security rights for health information.

 

After decades of data misuse, breaches, and privacy intrusions, Americans are reluctant to trust tech firms to protect their sensitive health information – according to a recent poll, more than half of Americans would not use a contact tracing app and similar tools from Google and Apple over privacy concerns. The bicameral Public Health Emergency Privacy Act would protect Americans who use this kind of technology during the pandemic and safeguard civil liberties. Strengthened public trust will empower health authorities and medical experts to leverage new health data and apps to fight COVID-19.

 

The Public Health Emergency Privacy Act would:

 

  • Ensure that data collected for public health is strictly limited for use in public health;
  • Explicitly prohibit the use of health data for discriminatory, unrelated, or intrusive purposes, including commercial advertising, e-commerce, or efforts to gate access to employment, finance, insurance, housing, or education opportunities;
  • Prevent the potential misuse of health data by government agencies with no role in public health;
  • Require meaningful data security and data integrity protections – including data minimization and accuracy – and mandate deletion by tech firms after the public health emergency;
  • Protect voting rights by prohibiting conditioning the right to vote based on a medical condition or use of contact tracing apps;
  • Require regular reports on the impact of digital collection tools on civil rights;
  • Give the public control over their participation in these efforts by mandating meaningful transparency and requiring opt-in consent; and
  • Provide for robust private and public enforcement, with rulemaking from an expert agency while recognizing the continuing role of states in legislation and enforcement.

 

 

BROADBAND

 

It’s estimated that more than 20 million Americans continue to lack access to meaningful broadband service, with at least 770,000 Virginians currently unserved. As schools have moved online, this has particularly impacted students

The “homework gap” is experienced by 12 million students in this country who do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework. Research has shown that this gap affects students in both rural and urban areas and disproportionately affects lower-income students and students of color.  Students without internet access at home consistently score lower in reading, math, and science.  This existing inequity has been exacerbated during this current public health emergency as schools suspend in-person classes and transition to remote learning over the internet to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff.

 

This week, Sens. Warner and Kaine introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act, legislation aimed at ensuring K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity and devices during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Specifically, the Emergency Educational Connections Act would:

  1. Provide $4 billion in federal support for elementary and secondary schools and libraries, including tribal schools and libraries, to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices (as well as internet service through such equipment) to students, staff, and patrons;
  2. Allow schools and libraries to continue to use the equipment after the emergency period; and
  3. Ensure schools and libraries prioritize support for those most in need, following the guidelines of the E-Rate program.

 

As the coronavirus pandemic develops, the E-Rate program offers an immediate solution that may help mitigate the impact of this crisis on our most vulnerable families. Additional funding for E-Rate would greatly narrow the homework gap and help ensure that all students can continue to learn.

 

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, Sen. Warner has made broadband access has been a top priority for the coronavirus response. Last month, he urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take immediate action to ensure that individuals all across the country have access to broadband, as more Americans are forced to rely on the internet for telework, telehealth, and online learning amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In March, Sen. Warner led 17 of his colleagues in sending a letter to the CEOs of eight major internet service providers (ISPs) calling on the companies to take steps to reduce barriers that could prevent customers from using telepresence services for telework, online education, telehealth, and remote support services. Within days, AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, and Cox Communications, as well as a number of smaller ISPs not included on the letter, announced plans to accommodate the unprecedented demand for telepresence services.

 

 

VOTE SAFE

 

Already multiple primary elections have been besieged by public health concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, in Wisconsin, voters experienced long lines and hours-long wait times, after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a court order that would have extended the period for voters to return absentee ballots—forcing many voters to vote in-person at a limited number of polling places. Multiple voters tested positive for COVID-19 after this election.

 

Sen. Warner has long been a leader in the Senate on protecting the right to vote, and now he’s joined Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and U.S. Reps. James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) in introducing the VoteSafe Act, legislation to expand voting options and improve the safety and accessibility of polling places across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic

 

The VoteSafe Act would:

 

  • Require states to provide no-excuse mail-in absentee voting for the 2020 elections and guarantee minimum due process protections for these voters;
  • Require states to maintain an early in-person voting period of at least 20 days for the 2020 elections;
  • Authorize $2.5 billion for states to meet their obligations to offer no-excuse absentee voting and early in-person voting; and
  • Provide $2.5 billion in additional discretionary grant funding for states to further improve the safety and accessibility of voting options during the pandemic, including:
    • Ensuring that elections are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
    • Ensuring adequate protections for language minority voters.
    • Ensuring voting access for American Indian, Alaska Native, and rural voters.
    • Implementing and promoting curbside voting.
    • Implementing and meeting a maximum wait time standard or publishing current wait times for voters.
    • Providing for the training and recruitment of poll workers.
    • Improving access to voter registration.

 

 

GRAB BAG

 

  • HEALTHCARE: With the Trump Administration actively pursuing a lawsuit to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act and its protections for pre-existing conditions, Sen. Warner joined the entire Senate Democratic caucus in filing an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in the case, California v. Texas. The lawsuit, which was brought by several Republican Attorneys General and the Trump Administration, is currently pending before the Supreme Court and represents a direct threat to the Affordable Care Act and health care coverage for millions of Americans.

 

  • SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES & FRONTLINE WORKERS: This week, Sen. Warner spoke on the Senate floor about the budgetary challenges facing state and local governments due to the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak. In his remarks, Warner urged Congress to provide additional financial assistance to states and localities and flexibility in how they use coronavirus relief funds. Warner cautioned that failure to address these budget shortfalls could threaten the jobs of first responders and other public servants on the front lines of the pandemic.

 

  • PROTECTING MINERS: This week Sens. Warner and Kaine joined a bipartisan group of coal state Senators in introducing the COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act which would require the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) within 7 days of enactment to protect our miners from COVID-19 exposure at the mines. Additionally, the bill would forbid mine operators from retaliating against miners for reporting infection control problems to their employer or any public authority.

 

  • SAVE THE BAY: This week, Sen. Warner joined Chesapeake Bay delegation members in sending a bicameral letter to Bay Watershed Governors urging them to maintain rigorous environmental standards crucial to the health of the Bay, despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to relax enforcement of these standards.

 

  • AVIATION JOBS:  Along with his fellow co-chair of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sen. Warner introduced legislation that would create a Private-Public Partnership between the federal government and aviation manufacturers designed to protect the workforce and industry impacted by COVID-19.
  • VACCINES: Today, Sen. Warner joined Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 38 of their colleagues in introducing a resolution that encourages U.S. engagement with the international community on the COVID-19 response given the Trump Administration’s failure to participate in global summits on vaccines and therapeutics.  The resolution focuses on the indisputable facts that only with concerted global collaboration and coordination can the COVID-19 pandemic be addressed, and that the U.S. has failed so far to participate in a number of key global collaborative efforts on this issue. 

 

  • RUSSIA REPORT: Also today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, of which Sen. Warner is the Vice Chairman, submitted the fifth and final volume of its bipartisan investigative report into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election to the Office of Director of National Intelligence for classification review. In addition to submitting the full, classified report, and in order to help facilitate the Intelligence Community’s review, we have also submitted what we assess to be a properly redacted, unclassified version of the report, totaling nearly 1,000 pages.

 

  • HARRISONBURG TRANSIT: On Wednesday, Sens. Warner and Kaine applauded $5,445,336 in federal funding for public transportation in Harrisonburg. The funding was authorized by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by the Senators.

 

 

WEEK AHEAD

 

On Saturday, Sen. Warner will speak via Zoom at a graduation celebration for the UVA Center for Politics. The event is open to press and the public, and you can tune in here at 11:30 AM. On Tuesday, he will participate in a Senate Banking Committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell. On Wednesday afternoon, he will hold an outreach call with local leaders from Tazewell County. The Senate will adjourn on Thursday for the Memorial Day recess.

WARNER, KAINE APPLAUD MORE THAN $1.8 MILLION IN FUNDING FOR RURAL VIRGINIA HOSPITALS

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded $1,854,974 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to assist the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in supporting rural hospitals across the Commonwealth as they combat the COVID-19 crisis. The federal funding was made possible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which allocated $150 million to assist hospitals funded through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) respond to this public health emergency.

“Hospitals everywhere are being squeezed during this pandemic, but those in rural areas face an additional set of challenges as they strive to make the most of limited resources to treat patients and fight this crisis,” said the Senators. “We are very pleased to see this funding go towards helping rural hospitals in Virginia keep their doors open to the community and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Per the CARES Act, this flexible funding can be used to expand testing and laboratory services as well as to purchase of personal protective equipment to minimize COVID-19 exposure. 

The funding was awarded through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) which helps states support rural hospitals with 49 beds or fewer. SHIP allows small rural hospitals to become or join accountable care organizations (ACOs), participate in shared savings programs, and purchase health information technology (hardware and software), equipment, and/or training to comply with quality improvement activities such as advancing patient care information, promoting interoperability, and payment bundling.

WARNER, FISCHER ANNOUNCE GROWING SUPPORT FOR PROTECTING CONSUMERS AGAINST DARK PATTERNS ONLINE

~ Senators announce two new bipartisan cosponsors to bill that combats dark patterns” designed to trick users into giving up their personal data ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) announced two new bipartisan co-sponsors for their legislation to protect consumers from being tricked into giving away their personal data online. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD), two senior members of the Senate Commerce Committee, have co-sponsored the Warner-Fischer legislation to prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces, known as “dark patterns” to trick consumers into handing over their personal data.

“Whether you bought Christmas gifts online, downloaded a new messaging app, or tried to navigate a major browser’s byzantine privacy settings, chances are you were a victim of a dark pattern. In fact, if you wanted to score that extra discount at checkout, these design tactics most likely manipulated you into handing over more than just your email address to get that deal,” Sen. Warner. “I’m grateful to have the support of Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Thune on this important bill to make sure Americans have more transparency about, and control over, their interactions online.”

“Nearly every time Americans use a new app on our smart phones or browse social media from our laptops, we run into dark patterns. These unethical tricks online platforms use as they battle to capture attention and manipulate users must be stopped. I am pleased to have expanded bipartisan support for this legislation that combats risks to consumer choice and privacy online,” said Sen. Fischer.

“Dark patterns are manipulative tactics used to trick consumers into sharing their personal data. These tactics undermine consumers’ autonomy and privacy, yet they are becoming pervasive on many online platforms,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This legislation would help prevent the major online platforms from using such manipulative tactics to mislead consumers, and it would prohibit behavioral experiments on users without their informed consent.”

“We live in an environment where large online operators often deploy manipulative practices or ‘dark patterns’ to obtain consent to collect user data, so I’m glad this bills takes meaningful steps to advance consumer transparency,” said Sen. Thune. “I particularly applaud the provisions of this bill that require large online operators to be more transparent about when users are subject to behavioral or psychological research for the purpose of promoting engagement on their platforms. I want to thank Sens. Warner and Fischer for leading this effort, and I’m glad to join them and Sen. Klobuchar in cosponsoring this important legislation.”

The bipartisan Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act aims to curb manipulative dark pattern behavior by prohibiting the largest online platforms (those with over 100 million monthly active users) from relying on user interfaces that intentionally impair user autonomy, decision-making, or choice. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Enables the creation of a professional standards body, which can register with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to focus on best practices surrounding user design for large online operators. This association would act as a self-regulatory body, providing updated guidance to platforms on design practices that impair user autonomy, decision-making, or choice, positioning the FTC to act as a regulatory backstop.
  • Prohibits segmenting consumers for the purposes of behavioral experiments, unless with a consumer’s informed consent. This includes routine disclosures for large online operators, not less than once every 90 days, on any behavioral or psychological experiments to users and the public. Additionally, the bill would require large online operators to create an internal Independent Review Board to provide oversight on these practices to safeguard consumer welfare. 
  • Prohibits user design intended to create compulsive usage among children under the age of 13 years old.
  • Directs the FTC to create rules within one year of enactment to carry out the requirements related to informed consent, Independent Review Boards, and Professional Standards Bodies.

Sen. Warner has been raising concerns about the implications of social media companies’ reliance on dark patterns for several years. In 2014, Sen. Warner asked the FTC to investigate Facebook’s use of dark patterns in an experiment involving nearly 700,000 users designed to study the emotional impact of manipulating information on News Feeds.

Sen. Warner is also recognized as one of Congress’ leading voices in an ongoing public debate around social media and user privacy. He has written and introduced a series of bipartisan bills designed to protect consumers and promote competition in social media. The Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act will require data harvesting companies such as social media platforms to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers, and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit.​ The Honest Ads Act will help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act is a bipartisan bill to encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose.

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WARNER URGES SENATE TO SWIFTLY RENEW FUNDING FOR VIRGINIA HBCUs

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Caucus, joined Senate colleagues and leaders from HBCUs – including a student from Virginia Union University in Richmond – in calling on the Senate to pass the bipartisan FUTURE Act, which would restore $255 million in federal funding for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) that expired on September 30. While the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the FUTURE Act in September, Senate Republicans have blocked this critical legislation from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.

Virginia is home to Virginia Union University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Hampton University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg – all of which stand to lose funding if the Senate fails to act.

“In Virginia, we’re talking about nearly $4 million in funding last year that is at risk unless we pass the FUTURE Act,” said Sen. Warner during today’s press conference. “This is an investment in our students. It’s an investment in the middle class. And it’s time for the federal government to live up its commitment.”

Sen. Warner was also joined today by Jalynn Hodges, a biology major currently serving as the first-ever elected student representative for the Board of Trustees at Virginia Union University (VUU), who underscored how renewing this funding would enable the Virginia Union community to continue to support students who pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“When I arrived at my prestigious HBCU in fall of 2017, I entered the gateway into my future. During my first year, I conducted research in our neuroscience and chemistry laboratory where I learned technical and analytical skills that are essential to my long-term academic and professional goals,” said Jalynn Hodges, biology major at VUU.  “With continued mandatory funding, students and faculty will be afforded access to ever changing equipment and laboratories that are consistent with industry standards. It is because of VUU that I am a better version of myself - one who is confident and assured that resources that have been afforded to me have prepared me for my graduate studies in medicine.”

Earlier this week, Sen. Warner joined more than three dozen Senators in a letter to Senate leaders calling for passage of the bipartisan FUTURE Act legislation to renew this vital funding for Virginia’s HBCUs.

“As Virginia’s most affordable 4-year public university, Norfolk State provides access to a quality higher education in a culturally diverse and supportive learning environment. Failure to restore Title III Part F mandatory funding for HBCUs will represent more than a $5.8 million loss for NSU. Without this funding, Norfolk State’s educational programs in both teacher preparation and the STEM fields will be put at risk at a time when we are working to increase diversity in the front of our classrooms, and grow the pipeline of diverse STEM graduates to fill the jobs of the new economy. Norfolk State University expresses appreciation to Senators Warner and Kaine for their leadership on this critical issue, and urges all Senators to join them in securing the future of America’s HBCUs and the students they serve by passing the FUTURE Act,” said Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, President of Norfolk State University.

“Failure to pass the FUTURE Act will have serious consequences for America’s HBCUs, their students, and my peers. Norfolk State University’s supportive and culturally aware learning environment has helped me to grow as a leader and put me on the path to success. I would likely not have had these opportunities at other schools. All students regardless of their socio-economic background deserve access to a quality higher education and the opportunity to realize their full potential. It is time for Congress to stand with the students of America’s HBCUs by voting to pass the FUTURE Act,” said Linei Woodson, President of Norfolk State University’s Student Government Association.  

In the mid-1990s, as a successful tech entrepreneur, Warner – who is also a former member of the Board of Trustees at Virginia Union – helped to create the Virginia High-Tech Partnership (VHTP) to connect students attending Virginia’s five HBCUs with internship opportunities in tech firms across the Commonwealth.

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WARNER, KAINE INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL RELIEF TO VIRGINIA BEACH TRAGEDY FUND

~ Bill would permit the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund to receive tax deductible donations ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), member of the Senate Finance Committee, along with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) have introduced legislation to provide financial relief to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund to help Virginia Beach shooting victims get the financial assistance they need. The Virginia Beach Strong Act would ensure that any donations made to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund on behalf of the families of the dead or wounded victims of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach are tax-deductible.

“There is nothing we can do to undo this tragedy or bring back the individuals we lost in this senseless act of violence, but we can try to make it as easy as possible for families and those injured to get the relief they need,” said the Senators. “This legislation will further incentivize donations to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund by making sure that contributions to victims and families are permitted to be treated as charitable contributions.”

U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives that is supported by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).

“On May 31st, our Virginia Beach community experienced an unspeakable tragedy that led to the loss of 12 wonderful people,” Rep. Luria said. “In the wake of our community’s darkest day, we saw countless selfless people donate to provide relief for grieving families. I am introducing the Virginia Beach Strong Act to make it easier to help bring more urgently-needed support to grieving families.”

On May 31, 2019, a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, killing 12 people and injuring four. Soon after, the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund was created to support the wounded victims and the families of those killed. However, because the fund was set up exclusively for the benefit of those affected by the tragedy, it violates a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable tax rule that prohibits charitable funds from being earmarked for specific individuals. As a result, donations to the fund are not currently tax-deductible for those making the contributions.

The Virginia Beach Strong Act would clarify that any contribution made for the relief of the families of the dead or wounded victims is treated as a tax-deductible contribution. This legislation would also apply retroactively, classifying any such contribution made on or after May 31, 2019 as tax-deductible.

Sens. Warner and Kaine, along with Rep. Luria have been fierce advocates for the victims and families affected by this mass shooting. In August, they successfully passed bicameral legislation to rename a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox, a longtime public utilities employee who, alongside other victims, sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting. In June, Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote to the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify that victims and families were not being taxed on the contributions they were receiving. Additionally, the Senators secured unanimous passage earlier this year of a Senate resolution honoring the 12 victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.

The full text of the bill is available here.

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WARNER, KAINE ANNOUNCE MORE THAN $23 MILLION FOR VIRGINIA AIRPORTS

~ Grants will help fund projects at 11 airports across the Commonwealth ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today announced $23,185,283 in federal funding from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to support improvement projects at 11 airports.

“We’re excited to announce that these federal dollars will benefit 11 Virginia airports,” said the Senators. “We look forward to seeing how these grants will help improve safety and increase efficiency at airports all across the Commonwealth.”

  • Washington Dulles International Airport will receive $854,786 to support Voluntary Airport Low emissions (VALE) infrastructure.
  • Manassas Regional Airport/Harry P. Davis Field will receive $3,513,300 to construct a taxiway, improve a runway safety area, and rehabilitate a runway.
  • Warrenton-Fauquier Airport will receive $150,000 to rehabilitate a taxiway and rehabilitate a runway.
  • Leesburg Executive Airport will receive $205,000 to construct an apron.
  • Richmond International Airport will receive $8,733,800 to construct a taxiway.
  • Lynchburg Regional Airport/Preston Glenn Field will receive $305,148 to rehabilitate and construct aprons, and rehabilitate a taxiway.
  • Norfolk International Airport will receive $3,591,524 to acquire land for approaches, install airfield guidance signs, rehabilitate taxiway lighting, rehabilitate a taxiway and acquire friction-measuring equipment.
  • Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport will receive $90,000 to conduct a study.
  • Virginia Highlands Airport will receive $4,150,000 to extend a runway.
  • Luray Caverns Airport will receive $1,291,725 to construct an apron.
  • Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport will receive $300,000 to construct a taxiway and acquire safety and/or security equipment.

 The funding was awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which supports infrastructure improvement projects at airports across the nation. Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for greater infrastructure investments, including for Virginia’s airports. They have pushed back against the Trump Administration’s suggested budget cuts to DOT to help ensure that critical upgrades like these can happen. Earlier this year, Sen. Warner introduced a bill to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic stimulus.

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WARNER RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT CYBERSECURITY PRACTICES AMID BREACHES INVOLVING SENSITIVE BIOMETRIC DATA

~ Requests answers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Suprema HQ Inc. ~

 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and former tech entrepreneur, wrote to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and South Korean company Suprema HQ, following separate but alarming incidents that impacted both entities and exposed Americans’ personal, permanently identifiable data. In a letter to CBP, Sen. Warner inquired about the information security practices of CBP contractors, in light of a June cyberattack that resulted in the theft of tens of thousands of facial images belonging to U.S. travelers. In a separate letter, Sen. Warner requested more information from Suprema HQ, the company that owns web-based biometric lock system, Biostar 2, which experienced a cyber incident in August, resulting in the exposure of permanently identifiable biometric data belonging to at least one million people worldwide.
 
“While all of the stolen information was sensitive and required protection, facial image data is especially sensitive, since such permanent personal information cannot be replaced like a password or a license plate number,” wrote Sen. Warner to Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.  “It is absolutely critical that federal agencies and industry improve their track records, especially when handling and processing biometric data. Americans deserve to have their sensitive information secured, regardless of whether it is being handled by a first or a third-party.”
 
In June, CBP announced the theft of at least 100,000 traveler ID photos from a CBP subcontractor that had improperly transferred copies of these photos from CBP servers to its own company database. In addition to facial images, the cyberattack resulted in the theft of several gigabytes of data, including license plate photos, confidential agreements, hardware blueprints for security systems, and budget spreadsheets.
 
In the letter to CBP, Sen. Warner expressed alarm regarding the failure of federal agencies to ensure that Americans’ sensitive information is safe in the hands of contractors. He also asked CBP to provide timely answers to a series of questions regarding the information security practices of CBP contractors and subcontractors. Among these questions, Sen. Warner requested details on CBP’s third-party contractual requirements concerning database encryption, biometric data management, vulnerability management, logging data retention, and identity and access management, among other security measures.
 
Similarly, in his letter to Suprema HQ, Sen. Warner raised concerns about the Biostar 2 incident, which exposed permanently identifiable biometric data, including user photos.
 
“Unlike passwords, email addresses and phone numbers, biometric information in voices, fingerprints, and eyes are unique data that are impossible to reset. Biometric data can be used effectively for unauthorized surveillance and access to secure facilities, to steal identities, and is even valuable in developing deepfake technologies,” wrote Sen. Warner to Suprema HQ CEO James Lee. “It is my understanding that your customers use your biometric security system to provide access to secure facilities, and that the product has also been integrated into Nedap’s AEOS access control systems, which are used by at least 5,700 organizations in 83 countries, including banks and foreign law enforcement entities.  Given the sensitivity of this information, it is absolutely critical that companies like yours exercise exceptional due care when collecting and securing biometric information, and when contracting with customers that collect permanent personal information.”
 
The Biostar 2 breach resulted in the online exposure of more than one million fingerprint records, in addition to user images, personal details, usernames and passwords, and employee security clearances. The breach also revealed that large portions of the Biostar 2 database were unprotected and unencrypted. In the letter, Sen. Warner asked Suprema HQ to list which U.S. businesses are served by the company. He also requested more information on the company’s practices regarding server security, biometric data storage security, and database encryption.
 
Sen. Warner has been a champion for cybersecurity throughout his career, and has been an outspoken critic of poor cybersecurity practices that compromise Americans’ personal information. In May, Sen. Warner introduced bold legislation to hold credit reporting agencies accountable for data breaches. He also introduced legislation earlier this year to empower state and local government to counter cyberattacks, and to increase cybersecurity among public companies.

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Toomey, Warner Introduce Measure Recognizing September 11th National Memorial Trail

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are working together to further honor the heroes of September 11th, 2001.

In a bipartisan resolution, Senators Toomey and Warner highlight the significance of the September 11th National Memorial Trail (NMT) – a 1,300 mile network of roads and paths that connect the Pentagon Memorial (Arlington, Va.), the Flight 93 National Memorial (Shanksville, Pa.), the National September 11th Memorial and Museum (New York City, N.Y.), and the 9/11 Memorial Garden of Reflection (Yardley, Pa.). The NMT also passes through parts of Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

“September 11th, 2001 was one of the darkest days in American history, claiming the lives of thousands of American heroes. Pennsylvania remembers that had it not been for the sacrifice of those who overtook the terrorists on Flight 93, it could have been much worse,” said Senator Toomey. “In the wake of these attacks, the very best of our country shined through. First responders performed extraordinary acts of valor, communities from across the country donated food, blood, and money, and we honored those we lost. The September 11th National Memorial Trail connects key landmarks in a way that helps our country move forward positively and offers solemn remembrance to hallowed grounds.”

“The September 11th National Memorial Trail provides an opportunity for Virginians to reflect on those we lost and those who sacrificed their lives saving others,” said Senator Warner. “I am proud to know that our resolution will recognize this important trail and continue to honor the brave individuals who fought for our freedom. I encourage folks across the Commonwealth to take some time to appreciate the trail’s natural beauty and remember America’s heroes and their loved ones.”

RESOLUTION

Recognizing the September 11th National Memorial Trail as an important trail and greenway all individuals should enjoy in honor of the heroes of September 11th.

Whereas September 11th, 2001, is the date of one of the worst terrorist attacks on United States soil, claiming nearly 3,000 lives at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Virginia, and the Flight 93 crash site near Shanksville, Pennsylvania;

Whereas the United States came together to honor the loved ones who were victims of the attack and the heroes of September 11th, including the first responders, in the days, weeks, and months after the attack by erecting the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, the Pentagon Memorial, and the Flight 93 National Memorial;

Whereas, as a further tribute to first responders and the individuals who lost their lives, the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, in partnership with State and local governments and other nonprofit organizations, was formed to develop a 1,300-mile trail and greenway to connect the 3 memorials;

Whereas the September 11th National Memorial Trail is a biking, hiking, and driving trail that provides a physical link between the 3 memorials;

Whereas the September 11th National Memorial Trail passes through Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and the District of Columbia;

Whereas the September 11th National Memorial Trail forms an unbroken triangle that links the cities, towns, and communities along the trail that are home to State and local memorials and other significant sites that reflect the spirit of United States patriotism and resilience;

Whereas the September 11th National Memorial Trail—

(1) starts at the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia;

(2) follows the Mt. Vernon Trail and then extends north along the 184-mile Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

National Historical Park;

(3) connects at Cumberland, Maryland, with the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage, which the Trail then follows to Garrett in Somerset County, Pennsylvania;

(4) turns northeast and continues for approximately 21 miles to the Flight 93 National Memorial;

(5) continues east through the communities and historic sights of Pennsylvania until arriving at the 130-mile Liberty Water Gap Trail in New Jersey, which the Trail then follows to New York City;

(6) continues to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City;

(7) returns south, following important sections of the East Coast Greenway and connecting the 9/11 Memorial Garden of Reflection to the trail;

(8) continues along the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; and

(9) ends at the Pentagon Memorial;

Whereas the September 11th National Memorial Trail serves as an important recreational and transportation venue for promoting tourism, economic development, healthy bodies and minds, and cultural and educational opportunities;

Whereas the September 11th National Memorial Trail has the support of States, local communities, and the private sector;

Whereas recognition by the Senate of the September 11th National Memorial Trail does not confer any affiliation of the Trail with the National Park Service or the National Trails System;

Whereas recognition by the Senate of the September 11th National Memorial Trail does not authorize Federal funds to be expended for any purpose related to the Trail; and

Whereas States, local communities, and the private sector are encouraged to join together to complete the September 11th National Memorial Trail: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate recognizes the September 11th National Memorial Trail as an important trail and greenway all individuals should enjoy in honor of the heroes of September 11th.

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WARNER INTRODUCES AMENDMENT TO ANNUAL DEFENSE BILL TO MANDATE REPORTING OF FOREIGN ELECTIONS INTERFERENCE

~ Follows last week’s unanimous consent request, which was blocked by Senate Republicans ~
 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has introduced an amendment to the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require presidential campaigns to report foreign interference in U.S. elections. The amendment introduction follows Sen. Warner’s attempt last week to pass the legislation by unanimous consent, which was blocked by Senate Republicans.

“Protecting our democracy is a national security issue,” said Sen. Warner. “President Trump’s own FBI Director and Director of National Intelligence have warned that the Russians – and others – will be back in 2020. Then last week, President Trump, sitting in the Oval Office, rolled out the welcome mat for Russia, China or any of our other adversaries to interfere in the 2020 election. So let’s be extra-clear: if a foreign country contacts you to interfere in an U.S. election, you don’t say ‘thank you’ – you call the FBI.”

Sen. Warner originally introduced the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act last month. The proposed NDAA amendment, based on the FIRE Act, would require presidential campaigns to disclose attempts at foreign elections interference to the appropriate federal authorities at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

This amendment requires presidential campaigns to report only contacts with foreign nationals offering explicit assistance that is already forbidden under existing law, or offers to collaborate or coordinate with a foreign government or agent thereof. Routine contacts with foreign nationals, including meetings on official government business, personal conversations, contact with journalists, or contact with non-citizens expressing political views, including conversations with DREAMers, would continue to be exempt from any reporting requirements. 

The amendment has been co-sponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Angus King (I-ME), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

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Boozman-Warner Legislation Aims to Expand Outreach, Create Measurement Tool to Improve Effectiveness in Fight Against Veteran Suicide

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced legislation to improve coordination of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and to better measure the effectiveness of these programs in order to reduce the alarming number of veteran suicides.

The IMPROVE (Incorporating Measurements and Providing Resources for Outreach to Veterans Everywhere) Wellbeing for Veterans Act creates a new grant program to enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct additional outreach through veteran-serving non-profits in addition to state and local organizations.

“Congress has provided significant resources to the VA to decrease veteran suicides, yet the number of veterans who take their own lives everyday remains unchanged,” Boozman said. “We all share the goal of saving the lives of veterans. We must have better coordination of existing programs; a common tool to measure the effectiveness of our programs; and better information sharing, data collection and continual feedback in order to identify what services are having the most impact. Creating a framework for these necessary pieces is essential to empowering organizations to work together in the fight against veteran suicide.” 

“Of the 20 veterans who commit suicide every day in this country, roughly 14 of them don’t receive treatment from the VA,” said Warner. “This legislation will target that group by providing grant funding to private organizations with a proven track record of strong mental health and suicide prevention efforts among veterans. It’s my hope that broad coordination between the VA, state veterans affairs departments, first responders, and local leaders, will allow us to support more at-risk veterans and make a meaningful impact on reducing veteran suicide rates in this country.”

In Fiscal Year 2010, the VA requested $62 million for suicide prevention outreach. In Fiscal Year 2020, that number nearly quadrupled to $222 million. Despite the sharp increase in funding, the rate of veterans suicides has remained roughly unchanged at 20 per day. Only six of those 20 veterans are receiving healthcare services at the VA. This points to a significant need to empower the VA to work through community partners to expand outreach. At the same time, national data indicates there are more than 50,000 organizations that provide suicide prevention services for veterans, yet they are hard for veterans to find, access, apply for and use.

To date, policy makers have assessed capacity and access to services as a measurement for effectiveness. Despite significant capacity increases, the rate of veterans suicides remains the same. There are no shared tools to measure the effectiveness of programming at improving mental resiliency and outlook, which would be indicators of reduced suicide risk.

To address these programmatic gaps, the IMPROVE Wellbeing for Veterans Act will accomplish three broad objectives:

  • Enable the VA to directly or indirectly reach more veterans than it currently does.
  • Increase coordination among currently disparate community resources that serve a wide variety of veteran needs – all of which play a part in reducing the purposelessness that ends in suicide.
  • Create and inspire broad adoption of a measurement tool that will indicate effectiveness of services provided for veterans suicide prevention.

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are original cosponsors of the legislation.

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WARNER, KAINE BILL THAT AWARDS CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL TO FOUR AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN FOR THEIR WORK AT NASA LANGLEY PASSES SENATE

~ Bipartisan legislation will award Congressional Gold Medals to Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden for their groundbreaking contributions ~

WASHINGTON – Today, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) to award four African American women scientists the Congressional Gold Medal for their work at NASA Langley passed the U.S. Senate with unanimous support. The bill would give this distinction to Katherine Johnson and Dr. Christine Darden and posthumously award the medals to Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. It serves to commend these women for their contributions to NASA’s success during the Space Race and highlight their broader impact on society – paving the way for women, especially women of color, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives, where a companion bill has been introduced.

“These four remarkable women and their contributions to the success of the Space Race remained unacknowledged for far too long,” said the Senators. “We are thrilled that their achievements while at NASA Langley—particularly during a tough period of racial inequality—continue to be brought to light. This recognition will help carve their rightful place in history and inspire a new generation of diverse women to lead the way in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the U.S. It is awarded to those who have performed an achievement that has had an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized in the recipient’s field for years to come.

The Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act will honor:

  • Katherine Johnson, who calculated trajectories for multiple NASA space missions including the first human spaceflight by an American, Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission. She also calculated trajectories for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission to orbit the earth. During her time at NASA, she became the first woman recognized as an author of a report from the Flight Research Division.
  • Dorothy Vaughan, who led the West Area Computing unit for nine years, as the first African American supervisor at National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became NASA. She later became an expert programmer in FORTRAN as a part of NASA’s Analysis and Computation Division.
  • Mary Jackson, who petitioned the City of Hampton to allow her to take graduate-level courses in math and physics at night at the all-white Hampton High School in order to become an engineer at NASA. She was the first female African-American engineer at the agency. Later in her career, she worked to improve the prospects of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers, and scientists as Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager.
  • Dr. Christine Darden, who became an engineer at NASA 16 years after Mary Jackson. She worked to revolutionize aeronautic design, wrote over 50 articles on aeronautics design, and became the first African-American person of any gender to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service at Langley.

The lives and careers of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden were featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly. That book was adapted into the 2016 film Hidden Figures, which the Senators showed at a Capitol Hill screening for hundreds of Virginia students last year. In addition, Sens. Warner & Kaine honored Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson by acknowledging their achievements in an official statement that was enshrined in the Congressional Record.

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TRUMP SIGNS WARNER & KAINE PROVISIONS TO ADDRESS OPIOID CRISIS INTO LAW

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated key provisions from their bills to address the opioid crisis becoming law. The comprehensive substance abuse treatment bill, known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, was just signed into law by President Trump after it passed the Senate 98-2 and the House 393-8. The legislation includes four proposals from Warner that initially passed out of the Senate Finance Committee as part of the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 and three proposals from Kaine that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.

“This comprehensive legislation takes significant steps to stem the opioid epidemic that has devastated communities across the Commonwealth. By making necessary improvements to substance abuse treatment and recovery services, we can help save lives. That’s why I’m proud to report that this historic package includes several proposals that I championed to expand telehealth services to ensure more families get the addiction treatment they need,” said Warner.

“This bill is the product of a strong bipartisan effort to tackle the addiction crisis that is taking lives in Virginia and across the country. I’m proud the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act includes my proposals to help ensure job training is incorporated into recovery programs and that the kids who are hurt by this crisis get the resources they need. This comprehensive effort aiming to address prevention, treatment, and recovery is an important step toward solving the addiction crisis,” Kaine said.

Warner and Kaine have worked over the years to move legislation forward to combat the substance abuse epidemic, which in 2017 accounted for more than 72,000 deaths nationwide.The final bill included provisions from four Warner bills to:

  • Expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment.
  • Make clear how Medicaid funds can be used for substance use disorder treatment through telehealth.
  • Help ensure children suffering from substance use disorders receive the assistance they need through telehealth services.
  • Improve data collection on substance use disorders among Medicaid recipients.

The final bill included proposals from three Kaine addiction treatment bills to:

  • Give states the resources and guidelines to ensure recovery homes are effectively helping residents sustain recovery from opioid and substance use disorders.
  • Incorporate job training into drug addiction recovery programs.
  • Afford schools the opportunity to apply for grants to directly offer trauma support services to students impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Last month, Warner and Kaine voted for a FY19 funding bill that increased funding to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support programs related to the opioid crisis, including an additional $3.8 billion for treatment, prevention and research.

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Virginia Delegation Calls on President Trump to Issue Federal Emergency Declaration Ahead of Hurricane Florence

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (VA-01), Scott Taylor (VA-02), Bobby Scott (VA-03), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Tom Garrett (VA-05), Bob Goodlatte (VA-06), Dave Brat (VA-07), Don Beyer (VA-08), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Barbara Comstock (VA-10), and Gerry Connolly (VA-11), called on President Donald Trump to issue a federal emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Florence, a tropical storm which was recently upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to make landfall somewhere on the southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast Thursday night. Virginia’s congressional delegation wrote to the President in support of a request from Gov. Ralph Northam in advance of the storm’s potentially devastating effects on the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“The health and well-being of my constituents is my top concern, which is why I joined the entire congressional delegation of Virginia to call on President Trump to give full consideration to Governor Northam’s request to issue a federal emergency,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “If this storm continues as predicted, making federal resources available will help us achieve a speedy recovery.”

“A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence. Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents,” wrote the Virginia Congressional Delegation.

On September 8, 2018, Gov. Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. It is increasingly likely that Virginia will face damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and potentially life-threating storm surge flooding. Many localities have already ordered mandatory evacuations to prevent potential physical harm or loss of life.

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Mr. President:

We write today to express our support for Governor Ralph S. Northam’s request for a federal emergency declaration in advance of Hurricane Florence’s potentially devastating effects on the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As you may know, on September 8, 2018 Governor Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. It is increasingly likely that Virginia will face damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and potentially life-threating storm surge flooding due to Hurricane Florence. Many localities have already ordered mandatory evacuations to prevent potential physical harm or loss of life.

Governor Northam’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local recovery efforts. The Commonwealth has activated the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response to assess the storm’s potential effects and the Virginia Emergency Operations Center is already coordinating the state’s response with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence.

Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents.

 

 

NIKE

During U.S. Open, McEachin, Kaine, Capito, Warner, Scott Commemorate Arthur Ashe on 50th Anniversary of Historic Win

WASHINGTON – Congressmen A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) and Bobby Scott (VA-03) and U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, Shelley Moore Capito, and Mark Warner announced their plans introduce bicameral resolutions to commemorate Arthur Ashe, a Richmond, VA native, on the 50th anniversary of his historic win at the 1968 U.S. Open Tennis Championship. The resolution honors Ashe’s humanitarian contributions to civil rights, education, the movement against apartheid in South Africa, and HIV/AIDS awareness. The 2018 U.S. Open Tennis Championship is currently underway.

“I am so proud to introduce a House Resolution honoring the life, legacy, and leadership of the great Arthur Ashe,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “Ashe’s contributions to American history continue to make his fellow Richmonders proud – just as we were on the historic day 50 years ago.”

“Virginians will always be proud of what Arthur Ashe accomplished on and off the court,” Kaine said. “He set an example of how to be a leader, and 50 years after his historic win, he deserves this recognition.”

“As an avid tennis player, I’ve always been a fan of Arthur Ashe. Not only was he an incredible athlete, but he was also a great humanitarian and an advocate for many important causes. He built his legacy both on the court and through the many other efforts he championed around the world, and I’m excited to sponsor this resolution honoring that legacy,” Capito said.

“Although most remember Arthur Ashe as a fierce competitor on the tennis court, he was also an activist and an incredible force for racial and social justice,” said Warner. “This much deserved tribute honors him for using his platform to be a champion for all.”

“This bicameral resolution will further solidify the legacy of Arthur Ashe by honoring his legacy both on and off the court. As Virginians and Americans, we are inspired by his achievements,” said Scott.

Arthur Ashe was the first African-American man to win the singles title at the U.S. Open and to be ranked number one in the world. Click here for full text of the resolution.

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