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VATICAN CITY – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine attended a general audience with Pope Francis in Vatican City and spoke with the Pope about the Holy See’s work to address the global refugee and migrant crisis. A photo of the meeting is attached and included below.

“I had a chance to visit with Pope Francis to discuss the global crisis of refugees and migrants which is relevant around the world and to my work in the Senate,” Kaine said. “As the Pope stated so clearly yesterday, it is a 'moral imperative' to protect and defend the 'inalienable rights' of refugees and respect their dignity, especially by adopting just laws that protect those fleeing dangerous or inhumane situations.”

“The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and the Holy See is tremendously important and the work we are doing together to address issues such as refugees, human trafficking, conflict resolution and reconciliation helps us advance peace in the world, as we try to end suffering and cooperate on issues of common good,” Kaine continued.

In Vatican City today, Kaine also met with the Foreign Minister of the Holy See Archbishop Paul Gallagher, participated in a discussion focused on Latin American issues with Vatican officials, and met with the Jesuit Refugee Service to discuss its work with refugees and asylum seekers. 

Photo taken by Paul Haring of Catholic News Service:


~ Bipartisan legislation would require V-A to provide benefits to veterans exposed to Agent Orange ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that thousands of Navy veterans from the Vietnam War – known as “Blue Water” veterans for their service in waters off the coast –are eligible to receive disability and health care benefits they have earned for diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act would clarify the existing law so that Blue Water veterans, who are currently excluded from receiving these benefits, are covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) if they served within “territorial seas,” or approximately 12 miles offshore of Vietnam. The bill would also make it easier for the V-A to process these veterans’ claims for service-connected health conditions and alleviate a portion of the V-A’s backlog by extending presumptive coverage of Agent Orange benefits to these veterans.

“Virginia is home to many Vietnam veterans who honorably served their country and paid a high price after being exposed to Agent Orange,” said Sen. Warner. “We should not be discriminating against this group of heroes simply because of how and where they served. They fought just as hard, risked just as much, and deserve to get the benefits they earned.”

“Thousands of Blue Water Navy veterans in Virginia are still facing serious health conditions from exposure to Agent Orange and our country needs to ensure they can access the benefits they deserve,” said Sen. Kaine. “I’m proud to continue my efforts with Senator Warner and a bipartisan group of our colleagues to advocate on behalf of Blue Water veterans and I hope Congress will swiftly pass our bill.”

“VVA strongly supports justice for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans! This bill would complete the obligation to those who served in the bays, harbors, and territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975 by recognizing exposure to the toxin Agent Orange and ensuring eligibility for all related Federal benefits that come with such presumption under the Agent Orange Act of 1991,” said John Rowan, National President and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of America.

“The VFW strongly agrees with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims that it is arbitrary and capricious for veterans who have served aboard ships in the coastal waters of Vietnam to be denied presumptive benefits associated with Agent Orange exposure. For this reason, we support your legislation which would end this injustice and ensure Blue Water Navy veterans receive the care and benefits they deserve,” said Raymond Kelley, Director of VFW National Legislative Service.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed approximately 20 million gallons of Agent Orange in Vietnam to remove jungle foliage. This toxic chemical had devastating health effects on millions serving in Vietnam.

In 1991, Congress passed a law requiring the V-A to provide presumptive coverage to Vietnam veterans with illnesses that the Institute of Medicine has directly linked to Agent Orange exposure. However, in 2002, the V-A decided that it would only cover Veterans who could prove that they had orders for “boots on the ground” during the Vietnam War. This exclusion prevents thousands of sailors from receiving benefits even though they had significant Agent Orange exposure from drinking and bathing in contaminated water just offshore.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been pushing for the V-A to soften its position on benefits for Blue Water veterans. Last year, they wrote to the department requesting the V-A to reconsider the unnecessary burdens it has placed on this group.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the legislation is sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act was previously introduced in the 114th Congress.


2019 marks 400 years since first documented arrival of Africans to America by way of Point Comfort, Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) reintroduced the bipartisan 400 Years of African American History Act – legislation that would establish a commission to plan programs and activities in 2019 across the country to recognize the arrival and influence of Africans in America. Kaine and Warner were the lead sponsors in the Senate when a version of this bill was introduced last Congress.

Similar commissions have been established to recognize English & Hispanic heritage, including the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, Florida. This commission would be charged with recognizing and highlighting the resilience and contribution of Africans and African Americans since 1619, as well as acknowledging the painful impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination have had on our nation’s history.

“I’ve been lucky to be a part of federal commissions that were established to study and celebrate English and Hispanic history, and there is no reason a similar one shouldn’t exist to celebrate the contributions of Africans and African Americans to our history,” said Kaine. “We need to share the stories that explain who we are as a nation.  This commission will help do that and hopefully further enrich our understanding of the journey and history of our country.”

“This commission will mark 400 years of rich African American history, including both the immeasurable contributions of African Americans to our diverse culture and their resilience in the face of injustice during slavery and in the decades of racial discrimination that have ensued,” said Warner. “It is my hope that it will serve as a testament to the lessons in racial diversity that we have learned as a country and bring to light those that we may still need to overcome.” 

“The story of our great nation cannot be fully told without the rich history of African Americans,” said Blunt. “I am proud to support the creation of a commission to celebrate 400 years of African American culture. America is a better nation when all our citizens learn more about our history.”

“African American history is American history; the black experience is the American experience. The commission established by this bill would shed light on the lives, events, atrocities, discoveries, and accomplishments that have shaped that experience and, in doing so, promote a deeper understanding of the beauty and fullness of our nation’s heritage” said Booker. “The commission will also be tasked with highlighting the ongoing struggle to fulfill the promise of liberty and equality on which this nation was founded—a struggle that began four hundred years ago, when the first slaves were brought to Point Comfort, VA.”

Virginia Representatives Bobby Scott and Don Beyer, along with G. K. Butterfield, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, led the introduction of similar legislation that passed the House of Representatives last Congress. The Senate version of the bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last year, but was not voted on by the full Senate before the end of the 114th Congress.

Virginia Senators React to Confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine reacted to a Senate vote confirming Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education on Facebook Live today shortly after leaving the Senate floor. Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, offered thanks to the tens of thousands of Virginia constituents who called his office, wrote letters and sent emails through his Senate website to express their deep concern about the DeVos nomination over the past few weeks.

“I do want to thank all of you. More people contacted my office about her nomination than any other topic in my four years in the Senate,” Kaine said. “The stories that you shared and your energy will help us in the HELP Committee on oversight to make sure she doesn’t do things that will harm our kids.”

You can watch Kaine’s Facebook video here.


~ On confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education ~

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the below statement after Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate to confirm Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education. Yesterday, Senator Warner spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in opposition to the nomination. Video of that speech is available here.Audio is available here.

“The Senate voted today by the most narrow margin in its history to confirm a Secretary of Education who does not demonstrate a firm grasp on even the most basic education policy principles.

“Since Ms. DeVos’ nomination, tens of thousands of my constituents have expressed serious concerns about her focus on charter schools and voucherizing federal education dollars. Educators and parents of students with special needs are rightfully concerned, as am I, about Ms. DeVos’ lack of understanding or even awareness of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“During her confirmation hearing, she demonstrated a similar lack of awareness of federal education policies related to campus sexual assault and school safety.

“While I did not support Ms. DeVos’ confirmation, I intend to hold her accountable for serving our students’, teachers’, parents’, and school leaders’ best interests, and I look forward to looking for areas of agreement where possible.”

Sen. Warner previously announced he will vote against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, Health & Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price, Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin, and OMB Director nominee Mick Mulvaney.

Virginia Senators Respond to Budget Vote Beginning ACA Repeal

The United States Senate has begun the process of repealing the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, that some have called Obamacare. Instead of doing this in the light of day and allowing any form of debate, the Republican led Senate has used the Budget Amendment process to stifle debate and prevent a Democratic filibuster.

Repealing the ACA with no suitable replacement would cause major job losses in every state and contract the economy to the point that, according to some economists, we could be driven back into recession. One study puts the job losses at three million and $1.5 Trillion in lost gross state product.

Virginia job losses are expected to be around 52,000. If the ACA is repealed, Virginia will likely loose $39 Billion in gross state product, $53 Billion in business output and $923 Million in state and local tax revenue. These losses will be on top of what the state has already lost in the last few years when they refused to expand Medicaid.

There is bipartisan support for slowing the repeal process down while alternate plans are developed. Currently the only replacement plan offered by the Republicans is Healthcare Savings Accounts.

Many people who have insurance through the Marketplace can only afford it with the subsidy that they receive. These subsidies have been the catalyst for job growth in the insurance and healthcare industries. Many rural hospitals have only survived because of the ACA and the expansion of Medicaid in some states.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on last night’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Resolution vote to begin a fast-track process of repealing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement:  

“Last night, Senate Republicans moved our country one step closer to health care chaos. I voted against the budget resolution because I believe it’s health care malpractice – as well as economic malpractice –  to jumpstart a legislative process that would result in hundreds of thousands of Virginia families being kicked off their insurance coverage with no plan for a replacement in sight. We should be working to fix our health care system, not break it.”


~ On Senate vote to proceed with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a viable replacement~

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued a statement today on the 51-48 FY 2017 Budget Resolution vote by the Senate, which would begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without providing a viable replacement:

“Anybody who thinks it is a good idea to repeal the ACA without even the hint of a viable replacement plan does not understand how markets work. The uncertainty created by this flawed, political strategy will fundamentally destabilize the healthcare system. More than 20 million Americans will be left in the lurch, including nearly 700,000 Virginians. There is a smarter way to do this, and I have long advocated for targeted, commonsense improvements to the ACA that will reduce costs and ease requirements on employers. But this “show vote” to repeal it without a plan to replace it is bad for businesses, bad for Virginians, and will bring chaos to the healthcare market.”


Legislation authorizes new water infrastructure in Virginia and maintains resiliency efforts in Hampton Roads

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine applauded final passage of the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act), also known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes water infrastructure projects across the nation. This bill makes investments in harbor dredging, maintenance of locks and dams, flood control, ecosystem restoration and other water-related priorities. Additionally, the bill includes a package of measures to address the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, as well as steps to lessen risks for similar communities across the country with aging drinking water infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ biennial infrastructure report card gives Virginia an overall grade of C- for the state of its water and transportation infrastructure.

“We voted for this bill because it makes overdue investments in many priorities important to Virginia – dredging and port infrastructure, restoration of important ecosystems like the Chesapeake Bay, and resilience to flooding and sea level rise for large coastal communities like Hampton Roads and small rural ones like Chincoteague. This bill also devotes emergency funding to deal with lead-contaminated drinking water for the people of Flint, Michigan. We appreciate the inclusion of Virginia provisions we authored and applaud the bipartisan vote on this commonsense infrastructure bill,” the Senators said.

The following list includes several provisions for which Warner and Kaine advocated that were included in the final bill:

  • A study of Chincoteague Island evaluating the perennial flooding and erosion challenges facing the region and examining options of how to fix these issues, how much they would cost, and how much the federal cost-share would be. With nearly 2.3 million visitors last year, Assateague Island National Seashore and the adjacent Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are premiere tourism destinations on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Extreme weather events have occurred frequently in recent years, including last January’s blizzard that caused some $725,000 in damage and nearly destroyed the recreational beach parking lot. 
  • Reauthorization and funding increase for the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration Program, a successful public-private partnership among the Army Corps of Engineers, states, localities, and groups like The Nature Conservancy. This program has helped reverse years of declining oyster populations in the Bay by supporting oyster reef projects in key Virginia locations, such as the Rappahannock, Lafayette and Piankatank Rivers. The additional funds authorized in this provision will help Virginia and other Bay watershed states reach the 2025 pollution reduction goals laid out in the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
  • Section 4013 updates an existing coastal resiliency program to prioritize federal funds for projects in communities threatened by sea level rise while creating an interagency working group to coordinate data on sea level rise across federal agencies. It also requires federal consultation with state organizations working to coordinate resilience investment across federal, state, regional, and local bureaucratic entities. This will promote more informed decision-making about sea level rise planning in key regions like Hampton Roads, while ensuring that resilience-related grants from multiple agencies are serving complementary objectives. This provision will also provide formal federal backing for state-sponsored task forces like the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency – an interagency, cross-jurisdictional clearinghouse for Hampton Roads sea level rise planning co-led by Old Dominion University and William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.


~ Senators, Congressmen applaud inclusion of legislation to triple the size of key Civil War site in must-pass defense authorization bill ~ 

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that legislation to add more than 7,000 acres to the Petersburg National Battlefield is on track to be approved by Congress as soon as next week.

Text of the annual defense authorization bill released by a congressional conference committee includes legislation sponsored by the two Virginia Senators authorizing the National Park Service to acquire additional historic land sites related to the Siege of Petersburg, the longest military event of the Civil War. The National Defense Authorization Act is expected to pass the House of Representatives on Friday, with the Senate projected to follow suit early next week.

“The Petersburg National Battlefield bore witness to the longest sustained siege in our nation’s military history and draws visitors from all across the country, injecting millions of dollars into the local economy every year,” said Sen. Warner. “Expanding the park will encourage tourism to the region while preserving this important piece of American history for future generations. After working on this legislation for several years now, it’s great news that we are so close to seeing it a reality.”

“The NDAA ensures that the Petersburg National Battlefield will become the nation's largest protected battlefield,” Sen. Kaine said. “This hallowed ground bears witness to one of the longest, hardest and most decisive contests of the Civil War.   The stories of all the combatants--including more than 16,000 African-American troops--will now be more accessible to the current generation.  I thank my colleagues for their support and acknowledge the work of my predecessor Jim Webb in getting us to this day.”

“After working for years with my colleagues to secure the expansion of the Petersburg National Battlefield Park, I am proud to be able to say that we have protected these hallowed grounds and ensured that the lands and history of this battlefield will be preserved for future generations,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who introduced the legislation in the House.  

"Having worked toward this goal for years, I am pleased to see this important legislation being made into law during my final weeks in office,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), who sponsored the House legislation. “The Petersburg area contains so much of history and heritage, and I thank my colleagues in both parties and both chambers for their efforts to protect it.”

The Petersburg National Battlefield – which injects more than $10 million into the local economy annually – currently protects over 2,500 acres of battlefield and historic buildings that were involved in General Ulysses S. Grant’s 10 month Siege of Petersburg, Virginia in 1864-1865. During the Civil War, Petersburg was an important supply post for General Robert E. Lee’s army and the Confederate Capital of Richmond, Virginia. General Grant’s victory over Lee’s army at Petersburg in March of 1865 directly precipitated Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. This was the longest siege in American military history and was an important event for the United States Colored Troops (USCT) as over 16,000 African-American soldiers served in battle.

In 2005, the National Park Service recommended modifying the Petersburg National Battlefield to include 7,238 acres of significant core battlefield land. The land identified for inclusion was the site of 18 major battles during the Civil War and are in danger of being lost to development. These sites are not currently protected within the National Battlefield and have been identified by the Civil War Trust as one of the most endangered group of historic battlefields in the country. The Petersburg National Battlefield Boundary Modification Act does not spend any money, only authorizes the National Park Service to acquire the land. The legislation also authorizes one small land transfer between Fort Lee and the battlefield.

The acquisition – through purchase or donation of the land – would make the Petersburg National Battlefield the largest Civil War historic battlefield in the nation. Several nonprofits, including the Civil War Preservation Trust, already acquired key acreage that will be turned over to the National Park Service to expand the Battlefield.

In August of this year, Sen. Warner joined the National Park Service on a tour of Grant’s Headquarters at the Petersburg National Battlefield. Photos from that visit are available for media use here.

Sen. Kaine’s bill to reauthorize and expand the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program was signed into law in 2014, and his bill to create a National Park Service commission honoring 400 years of African American history has passed out of committee and is before the full Senate.


~ Funds will continue effort to assist low-income homeless and at-risk veterans and their families ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) will award $9,476,756 to housing authorities and nonprofit organizations to help ongoing efforts in the Commonwealth to prevent veteran homelessness and provide stable housing for low-income veterans and their families.

“Our country has a duty to honor our commitments to support the men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform, and these federal funds will support state and local agencies and nonprofit organizations,” said Sen. Warner. “This funding also adds additional support to Governor McAuliffe’s successful efforts to end veteran homelessness in Virginia by working to provide shelter, stable housing and employment opportunities before veterans fall through the cracks.”

The following Virginia organizations will receive funding:

United States Veterans Initiative will receive $2,020,000 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Fairfax and Arlington

Friendship Place will receive $2,020,000 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William

Housing Counseling Services will receive $1,036,721 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Fairfax and Arlington

Volunteers of America Chesapeake will receive $824,830 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William

Operation Renewed Hope will receive $476,821 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William

Virginia Supportive Housing will receive $1,234,458 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Emporia and Charlottesville; Counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Goochland, Powhatan, Charles City, New Kent, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Surry, Sussex, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Nelson, Greene and Louisa

Total Action Against Poverty In Roanoke Valley will receive $367,781 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Roanoke and Franklin; Counties of Botetourt, Bath, Alleghany, Craig, Rockbridge, Montgomery, Highland, Augusta, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell

Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation will receive $815,048 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Franklin; Isle of Wight County

Hampton Roads Community Action Program, Inc. will receive $269,185 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Newport News, Hampton and Williamsburg; Counties of James City and York

STOP Incorporated will receive $411,912 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach; Counties of Isle of Wight, Southampton, Northampton and Accomack

The organizations receiving these grants will continue to provide eligible veteran families with outreach, case management, and assistance obtaining V-A and other benefits, which may include health care, income support services, financial planning, child care, legal services, transportation, housing counseling, among other services. This funding was made available through the V-A’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, which helps thousands of very low-income veteran families around the nation who are permanently housed or transitioning to permanent housing. More information on this announcement can be found here.

In Miami, Tim Kaine Joins the Democratic Ticket

At a rally in Miami on Saturday, Hillary Clinton introduced her running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, one of the most qualified vice presidential candidates in history. She applauded his lifelong commitment to public service: his work with missionaries in Honduras; as a civil rights lawyer and his leadership as city council member, mayor of Richmond, Governor of Virginia, and U.S. Senator. Throughout his career, he has brought people together to deliver for those he represents. “And that’s why I am so thrilled to announce that my running mate is a man who doesn’t just share those values, he lives them.” Clinton said.

Kaine agreed with Clinton that we must build an economy for all, not just those at the top and that when Americans stand together we are stronger together. “And I know that because Hillary knows that we’re stronger together; we’re stronger when we work together, when we grow together, when we pull together […] So I could not be any more honored to stand by Hillary’s side in this very important campaign.” Kaine said.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and Representative Bobby Scott applauded unanimous House passage of a bipartisan bill that would recognize the resilience and contributions of African Americans to the United States since 1619. Kaine and Warner introduced the Senate version and Scott the House version of the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act in February. The bill would establish a commission to plan programs and activities across the country in 2019 to highlight the arrival and influence of Africans in America.  

Today’s House-passed bill was introduced by Virginia Representative Bobby Scott, and cosponsored by Representatives Scott Rigell, Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, Barbara Comstock, Rob Wittman, and Randy Forbes, as well as members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Chairman G.K Butterfield and Congressman John Lewis.

The commission  would be charged with recognizing and the resilience and contribution of African Americans since 1619, as well as acknowledging the painful impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination have had on our nation’s history. Similar commissions have been established to recognize English & Hispanic heritage, including the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, Florida. Kaine testified in support of this bill in front of the a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee this month.

“This bill is so connected to our country’s history and heritage, and we are excited that it is one step closer to final passage,” Sen. Kaine said. “Every dimension of American life, across generations, has been influenced by African Americans. We need to tell that story – in its tragedy and triumph- as we approach the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans at Point Comfort, Virginia. We will continue to work to advance this bill in the Senate in the coming months.”

“I applaud my colleagues in the House for passing this bill,” said Rep. Scott.  “The history of Virginia and our nation cannot be fully understood or appreciated without knowing about the first Africans who arrived at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619.  The commission established by this bill will be charged with the important task of planning, developing and implementing a series of programs and activities throughout 2019 that fully tells the story of African Americans, their contributions to the fabric of our nation, and their resilience over the last 400 years.”

“We cannot move forward as a country unless we recognize the injustices that occurred in our past,” said Sen. Warner. “The creation of this commission is an opportunity to institutionalize the contributions made by African Americans in our country, and a monument to their resilience in the face of adversity. It is my hope that this legislation paves the way for future efforts to honor the important role African Americans have played in our history, and highlight ways we can work together to forge a path towards a better future.”

“Understanding our 400 years of African-American history is crucial to understanding our national story: what we got right, what we got horribly wrong, and what we still have to accomplish,” said Rep. Beyer. “This bill will help us grapple with that history, and I thank my friends Bobby Scott and Tim Kaine and my other Virginia colleagues for putting it forward.”

“As a student of history, I can’t help but look to the lessons of the past when contemplating the future. In addition to being reminded of the ramifications of slavery in our nation, I can recall state constitutional provisions that led to segregation policies which extended into my childhood, when I attended segregated schools in the first and second grades. Additionally, one of my favorite teachers, my sixth grade teacher Mrs. Spurlock, had previously taught in the segregated system. I appreciate this bill’s efforts to highlight the immeasurable influence of African Americans such as Mrs. Spurlock, and am honored to support the legislation,” said Rep. Griffith.

“I am pleased the House passed this bipartisan, bicameral bill,” said Rep. Rigell. “The ‘400 Years of African-American History Commission’ will help our nation to properly reflect upon the significant contributions African-Americans have made to our country, and the struggles they have endured during our history. I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important bill and send it to the President’s desk for signature immediately.”

“I am pleased the House passed this legislation to create a commission that will tell the important story of the significant contributions made by African-Americans to our Commonwealth and the country.  We cannot tell the whole story of America without including the first African-Americans who arrived to the shores of Virginia in 1619 to Point Comfort.  I look forward to the work this commission will do in educating our entire community and hope the U.S. Senate will pass this quickly,” said Rep. Comstock.

"This bipartisan legislation honors 400 years of African American contributions here in the U.S.,” said Rep. Wittman. “The men and women who first arrived in Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619 faced adversity of every kind and at every turn, and their perseverance carried them as they shaped our national heritage. Theirs are stories that deserve to be told, and the commission that this legislation will create provides necessary tools to make sure that future generations can benefit from learning about their vigilance. I want to thank my Virginia colleagues in both the House and Senate for their hard work on this bill, and I look forward to their continued support."

“2019 will mark 400 years since the first documented arrival of Africans by way of Point Comfort, Virginia. It’s time for our nation to commemorate the contributions and resilience African Americans have made throughout history. I am pleased to have been a part of the introduction of H.R. 4539, which, when passed, will establish a commission to highlight the influence and contributions African Americans have made in our country since 1619. It will also recognize the painful impact of slavery 400 years ago, as well as the racial discrimination and oppression that continues today. I congratulate Congressmen Bobby Scott and Don Beyer on House passage of H.R. 4539. I also thank U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner for sponsoring the Senate companion, and Hilary Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau, for supporting this Act,” said Rep. Butterfield.

The bill is supported by the National NAACP, National Urban League and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine addressed the first class of 20 Career and Technical Education (CTE) Presidential Scholars, who were recognized for their outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in CTE fields. In 2014, Kaine, founding co-chair of the Senate CTE Caucus, led a successful bipartisan effort to expand the Presidential Scholars program to include fields in CTE.

“For too long, CTE has been stigmatized as a second-class educational field, but today’s CTE Presidential Scholars demonstrate the current renaissance of interestin career and technical fields,” said Kaine. “I applaud the Administration for highlighting the inspiring work of some of our country’s brightest students in both CTE and other academic fields. America’s future success depends on how well we invest in the education of our next generation of leaders, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress on ways to increase access to CTE programs nationwide.”

In addition to successfully urging the Obama Administration to recognize CTE as a Presidential Scholars field, Kaine authored various CTE-related provisions that were included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the bipartisan rewrite of No Child Left Behind. Some of the provisions added CTE as a core academic subject and called for integrating CTE into school curriculums and teacher professional development.

This year, 161 Presidential Scholars, including three Virginians, were also recognized for their outstanding work and achievements in various educational fields. Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored almost 7,000 of the nation's top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during the annual ceremony in D.C. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine testified in support of the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, bipartisan legislation introduced last February that would establish a commission to plan programs and activities across the country in 2019 to recognize the arrival and influence of Africans in America. Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director for Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science at the Department of Interior, also testified in support of the commission. Her testimony can be found here.

 “Every dimension of American life—business, academics, law, military, spirituality, culture, diplomacy, government, medicine, social justice, innovation—has been profoundly influenced by countless generations of African Americans,” Kaine testified.  “And it is important that we tell that story – in all its pain and triumph—as we approach 2019. Congress saw fit through the creation of a federal commission to affirm that our English roots matter.  Congress saw fit through the creation of a federal commission to affirm that our Hispanic roots matter.  I have introduced this bill in the belief that Congress should also affirm through the creation of a federal commission that our African roots matter.”

This commission would be charged with recognizing and highlighting the resilience and contribution of African Americans since 1619, as well as acknowledging the painful impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination have had on our nation’s history. Similar commissions have been established to recognize English & Hispanic heritage, including the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, Florida.

The bill is supported by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Virginia Congressmen Bobby Scott (D-VA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Randy Forbes (R-VA), as well as members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). It has also been endorsed by the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Kaine’s full testimony, as prepared for delivery:

I appreciate the opportunity to be here today. The year 2019 will mark 400 years since the arrival of twenty Africans at Point Comfort, Virginia (current day Hampton, Virginia).  These Africans were forcibly sold into slavery, captured by the English from a Portuguese slave ship and brought to Virginia.  Their arrival was the beginning of the slave trade in America, which led to a total slave population of nearly 4 million by the Civil War.

The history is a tragic and painful one, but also a history of triumph over adversity.  For nearly 250 years after Point Comfort, most African Americans were held in slavery and even free blacks were not accorded basic legal rights of citizenship.  For the next 100 years, from the end of the Civil War to the passage of major civil rights legislation in the 1960s, free African Americans were burdened by second-class citizenship in voting, housing, employment, education, access to public accommodations and other basic areas of life.  It has only been in the last 50 years that African Americans have enjoyed full legal equality as American citizens, though huge social disparities exist to this day.

Despite this tragic history, the contributions of Africans and African Americans to who we are as a nation are remarkable.  Every dimension of American life—business, academics, law, military, spirituality, culture, diplomacy, government, medicine, social justice, innovation—has been profoundly influenced by countless generations of African Americans.  And it is important that we tell that story – in all its pain and triumph—as we approach 2019.

When I served as Governor of Virginia, we held a major commemoration of 400 years of the English roots of America, recognizing the founding of the Jamestown Colony in 1607.   Congress passed a resolution establishing a federal commission to assist in events and educational materials appropriate to that important anniversary.  And last year, as Honorary Chair of the U.S./Spain Council, I participated in events commemorating 450 years of the Hispanic roots of America, recognizing the foundation of St. Augustine, Florida in 1565.  Again, Congress passed a resolution to establish a federal commission to assist in events and educational materials appropriate to that important anniversary.

In February, I introduced the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, S. 2548.  This legislation would establish a commission to plan programs and activities across the country in 2019 to recognize this historic moment.  A companion measure was introduced in the House by Congressman Bobby Scott.  The bill has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.  The House measure is supported overwhelmingly by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. G. K. Butterfield and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.  The bill also received support from the National NAACP, the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights and the National Urban League.

Congress saw fit through the creation of a federal commission to affirm that our English roots matter.  Congress saw fit through the creation of a federal commission to affirm that our Hispanic roots matter.  I have introduced this bill in the belief that Congress should also affirm through the creation of a federal commission that our African roots matter.

I urge the committee to consider this legislation swiftly so it can be brought before the full Senate.  The year 2019 is fast approaching, and this legislation needs to be enacted into law this year.


Kaine amendments include measure to revise and sunset the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force & ISIL-specific authorization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, introduced two amendments to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) focused on the war against ISIL. The first measure, encourages a revision of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in the wake of September 11, 2001 by sunsetting the 2001 AUMF two years after the new Administration takes office, and requiring the new Administration to propose legislation to modify or repeal it.  The second is a reintroduction of the bipartisan, ISIL-specific authorization Kaine introduced with U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) last year. A companion version of the Kaine-Flake AUMF was also introduced in the House of Representatives last December.

“Nearly two years into an executive war against ISIL, the unwillingness of this Congress to authorize the war not only shows a lack of resolve, it sets a dangerous precedent,” said Kaine. “It’s not hard to imagine a future president using this inaction to justify the hasty and unpredictable initiation of military action against new enemies on new fronts without the permission of Congress. Short of passing an ISIL-specific authorization this year, it’s my hope that we can revise the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force – a broad, open-ended measure passed just days after September 11, 2001 – to better tailor the U.S. fight against terrorism and non-state actors globally, as well as clarify our mission for the American people and those servicemembers we are asking to risk their lives.”

Key provisions of the Kaine amendment to revise the 2001 AUMF:

1) Requires the President to submit to Congress proposed legislation that refines, modifies, or repeals the 2001 AUMF by September 20, 2017;

2) Provides for certain expedited Congressional procedures to quickly begin debate on such legislation;

3) Necessitates that a new Administration detail to Congress its comprehensive strategy to protect Americans from Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIL, and other transnational terrorist organizations that threaten the U.S. national security and specify the military actions that are being taken to address this threat including the specific entities and geographic location of operations;

4) Requires greater transparency of the military actions the U.S. is currently conducting in foreign countries, including the list of organizations, persons, or forces being targeted and the legal justification being relied upon for such action;

5) Repeals the 2001 AUMF on January 1, 2019. 

The Kaine-Flake amendment would authorize the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against ISIL based on the following key provisions:

1) A narrow purpose to protect the lives of U.S. citizens and to provide military support to regional partners in their battle to defeat ISIL.  The amendment also specifies that the use of significant U.S. ground troops in combat against ISIL, except to protect lives of U.S. citizens from imminent threat, is not consistent with such purpose;

2) A sunset after three years unless reauthorized;

3) A repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force;

4) A clause to make this authorization the sole statutory authority for U.S. military action against ISIL (rather than the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force).


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced that the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) are awarding $736,284 to Virginia housing authorities and local VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) to help homeless veterans find affordable and stable housing.

“We owe our veterans the best-quality care and support in their communities and we are pleased to see governments at all levels working together to address it,” the Senators said. ”Today’s federal funding will help Virginia’s heroes access safe and affordable housing.”

The following VAMCs will receive funding:

  • Hampton VA Medical Center andNorfolk-VA Beach Community-Based Outpatient Clinic will receive $410,244;
  • Washington, DC VA Medical Center(Fairfax & Prince William Counties) will receive $194,256;
  • Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Centerin Richmond will receive $98,280 and;
  • Salem VA Medical Centerwill receive $33,504.

HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) provides critical housing and services to veterans experiencing homelessness. This effort also includes HUD’s Homeless Assistance Programs, as well as VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) and Grant and Per Diem (GPD) programs. More information on today’s announcement can be found here.


Federal grant expected to create 1,191 jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced that the Greensville County Water and Sewer Authority will receive $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) for infrastructure improvements to support development of the Mid-Atlantic Advanced Manufacturing Center in Greensville County.

“We are pleased to see the federal government partner with local authorities to provide Virginians with better public services while creating jobs for Greensville County,” said Warner and Kaine.

The Mid-Atlantic Advanced Manufacturing Center is one of Virginia’s primary mega-site developments. The improvements will help strengthen and enhance diversification of the region’s advanced manufacturing cluster, boost new commercial and industrial development, and create opportunities for job creation in the region. According to the EDA, the project is expected to create 1,191 jobs.


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine today introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent the Department of Defense (DoD) from privatizing commissaries at five major installations until a study, requested in last year’s NDAA, to assess the costs and benefits of privatization is completed and properly taken into consideration by Congress.

“It would be imprudent for Congress to authorize this privatization of commissaries – possibly jeopardizing an important benefit for our military men and women, their families, as well as retired servicemembers – before receiving the thorough study on the potential impacts as requested in last year’s NDAA,” said Warner and Kaine.

The following Senators joined Warner and Kaine in introducing the amendment: U.S. Sens. John Boozman (R-AR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (R-OK), Edward Markey (D-MA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Udall (D-NM), David Vitter (R-LA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The Senate’s NDAA for Fiscal Year 2016, as passed out of committee on May 14, 2015, included language that sought to launch a pilot program to begin the privatization of military commissaries at five locations. Specifically, the amendment:

  • Required a study on the impact privatizing commissaries would have on military families before a pilot program could be implemented and would look at modifications to the commissary system, common business processes, privatization in whole or in part, analysis of different pricing constructs and impacts on MWR programs.
  • Required a comptroller-general assessment of the plan no later than 120 days after the report is submitted.

The amendment was adopted on the Senate floor and included in the final NDAA signed into law by the President last year.

The requested study is currently underway but has not been completed at the time of this press release. This year’s amendment would block language in the Senate bill that, once again, seeks to begin the process of privatization, and would restrict any such action until completion of the study and thorough review by Congress.

The following 43 organizations are opposed to the privatization language currently in the bill:

  • Air Force Sergeants Association
  • American Federation of Government Employees
  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Teamsters
  • American Legion
  • American Logistics Association
  • American Military Retirees Association
  • American Military Society
  • American Retirees Association
  • American Veterans
  • Armed Forces Marketing Council
  • Army and Navy Union
  • Association of the United States Army
  • Association of the United States Navy
  • Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States
  • Fleet Reserve Association
  • Gold Star Widows
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
  • Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
  • Military Officers Association of America
  • Military Order of Foreign Wars
  • Military Order of the Purple Heart
  • National Association for Uniformed Services
  • National Defense Committee
  • National Guard Association of the United States
  • National Industries for the Blind
  • National Military Family Association
  • National Military and Veterans Alliance
  • Naval Enlisted Reserve Association
  • Military Partners and Families Coalition
  • Reserve Officer Association
  • Society of Military Widows
  • The American Military Partner Association
  • The Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits
  • The Flag and General Officers Network
  • The Retired Enlisted Association
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
  • Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees
  • United States Army Warrant Officers Association
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Vietnam Veterans of America


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Committee’s Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes a number of provisions he advocated for to benefit Virginia’s shipbuilding industry and defense community. The bill was reported out of committee today and will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

“I’m proud this bill includes many provisions that will benefit Virginia’s hardworking defense community, including support for our servicemembers and their families and funding to maintain our carrier fleet and bolster the shipbuilding industry. Virginia is one of the states most connected to the military – through our servicemembers, military families, veterans, contractors and infrastructure – and ensuring that our national defense policies fuel continued growth for the Commonwealth is one of my highest priorities.

“While I appreciate Chairman McCain’s goal of making the Department of Defense more efficient, I’m concerned by the process that led to department reforms in this year’s NDAA, which were proposed without full input of stakeholders in the defense community or any other outside agency. During Committee debate, I offered an amendment that would create a commission to study many of the challenged areas in the Department of Defense and propose reform recommendations for Congress to consider and debate. I was disappointed that my proposal wasn’t adopted, but following my suggestions, Committee leadership made improvements to reduce the severity of some proposals and potential career impacts across the Department of Defense and the services. I still have serious concerns about some of the provisions in the bill. As the bill heads to the Senate floor, I’ll keep urging my colleagues to get the public’s input before making far-reaching reforms that could inadvertently dilute our military capability and deter talented young individuals from contemplating a career in the greatest military in the world.”

During Committee debate, Kaine offered an amendment that would have empowered a Commission to study the Department of Defense, the Combatant Commands and various other internal staff functions of the Department and then make reform recommendations. Read his full remarks here.

The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Kaine advocated for during the markup process that were included in the final bill:

Supports Shipbuilding: Provides funding for research, procurement and sustainment of an 11-carrier fleet. The bill continues to fund construction of the USSGerald R. Ford (CVN 78), USSJohn F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and research and purchasing of the future USSEnterprise (CVN 80). Additionally, the bill funds the refueling and complex overhauls (RCOH) of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The bill also authorizes full funding for the Virginia-class and Ohio-classsubmarine programs, the LHA-8 amphibious assault ship and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The bill ensures the strength of Virginia shipyards by supporting the President’s budget request for Navy Operations and Maintenance account.

Improves Credentialing Process for Servicemembers: The authorization includes a provision Kaine introduced to continue to reduce veterans’ unemployment by ensuring that servicemembers receive high-quality accredited credentials that will prepare them for a successful transition to civilian employment. Building off of previous credentialing victories, the bill expands the scope of authorized credentials to additional skills servicemembers acquire throughout their service.

Bolsters DoD-Virginia Tech Industry Relationship: The bill included a Kaine provision to permanently authorize the Information Technology Exchange Program (ITEP) which exchanges best practices and IT personnel between the Department and the private sector. The provision encourages greater outreach to private sector partners in Northern Virginia and other high density technology hubs.

Puts Committee on Record Against Sequestration: Kaine put the Committee on record denouncing the shortsighted, non-strategic and across-the-board sequestration cuts and their harmful impact on our national security. Kaine’s amendment states the Committee’s belief that these methods remain an unreasonable and inadequate budgeting tool to address deficits and debt and that relief from sequestration should come for both defense and non-defense programs.

No BRAC Round: The bill rejects the Department of Defense proposals for a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.

Authorizes Military Construction (MILCON): The committee authorizes $59.2 million in critical military construction projects throughout the Commonwealth.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement today on the executive actions President Obama announced to reduce gun violence:

“We’ve seen tragedies in countless cities and towns including Charleston, Newtown and Blacksburg. In Roanoke last year, we saw a horrific shooting take the lives of two young journalists. It’s also important to remember that countless instances of gun violence occur outside the purview of the mainstream media – domestic disputes in homes, suicides and urban violence,” Kaine said. “I support the President’s steps today. Partnering with law enforcement to encourage the use of smart technology to develop safer guns, increasing access to mental health treatment and investing in gun violence research are all steps that can help prevent tragedy.”


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on Senate passage of a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the activities and financing of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through Fiscal Year 2017, which includes proposals Kaine supported to strengthen security at Virginia’s airports:

“I’m glad the Senate was able to pass a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. With 66 public airports in Virginia and 45 million travelers flying through Dulles International and Reagan National Airports last year, Virginia relies on a strong aviation system to move people and goods, provide jobs and support economic activity. This bill authorizes overdue investments in airport infrastructure - including runway repairs - and makes critical improvements to aviation safety, including strengthened security in areas like check-in and baggage claim. I’m also pleased we’re taking steps to provide for the responsible use of unmanned aircraft systems in concert with robust safeguards for safety and privacy.”



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine hiked to the summit of The Stony Man Trail in Shenandoah National Park (SNP) today to celebrate the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial and to encourage fellow Virginians to “Find Your Park” throughout the year. Kaine started his day at SNP Headquarters near Luray to meet with SNP Superintendent Jim Northup, SNP Deputy Superintendent Jennifer Flynn, park rangers, NPS staff and community leaders. They discussed preservation work and planning efforts around this year’s Centennial celebration. Photos from today’s hike can be found here

“It was fun to come out to Shenandoah National Park today to shine a light on its beauty, while also encouraging people to get out and find their parks this year and enjoy the National Park Service Centennial,” Kaine said. “Today reminds us how blessed we are to have these special places and will hopefully urge us to be better stewards in this centennial year of the parks so our grandkids and great grandkids can have the same experiences.”

To celebrate the NPS Centennial, Kaine and members of his staff plan to visit every national park in Virginia over the course of the year. More information on Kaine’s NPS Centennial celebration can be found here.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, April 11, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will meet with staff at Shenandoah National Park Headquarters and thank them for their work before hiking to the summit of Stony Man Trail to celebrate the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial and to encourage fellow Virginians to “Find Your Park” throughout the year. Following the hike, Kaine will meet with park supporters and community leaders to discuss preservation and planning efforts.

“There is natural beauty wherever you look in Virginia and it’s especially striking in Shenandoah National Park,” said Kaine. “To mark the National Park Service turning 100 this year and all the contributions parks make to our economy and quality of life, I’m encouraging everyone across Virginia to ‘Find Your Park’ at any of the twenty-one national parks in Virginia.”

To celebrate the NPS Centennial, Kaine and members of his staff plan to visit every national park in Virginia over the course of the year. In last year’s omnibus appropriations bill, Kaine supported an increase in funding for the National Park Service to support the centennial.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have called on Senate appropriators to increase federal funding to address the nation’s prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.  As the Senate Appropriations Committee drafts its FY 2017 spending proposals, Warner and Kaine joined 20 Senators from both sides of the aisle to express strong support for effective drug prevention and treatment programs that will save lives, reunite families and strengthen communities. 

“As you consider spending priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2017, we are writing to request the highest possible funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant – a critical program distributed to all States that supports lifesaving substance use disorder treatment, prevention, and recovery services,” the Senators wrote. “In our view, the scope of this epidemic requires our continued focus and attention, and stemming its tide requires sufficient federal resources to help support state and local efforts.”

Warner and Kaine have supported legislation at the federal level to strengthen prevention efforts and help prevent opioid overdose deaths, which outnumbered car accident fatalities in Virginia in 2014. Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a bipartisan bill introduced by Kaine that would encourage physicians to co-prescribe the life-saving drug naloxone alongside opioid prescriptions and make naloxone more widely available in federal health settings.

Full text of the letter:

Dear Chairmen Cochran and Blunt, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, and Ranking Member Murray,

Thank you for your leadership to address the nation’s prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.  As you consider spending priorities for fiscal year (FY) 2017, we are writing to request the highest possible funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant – a critical program distributed to all States that supports lifesaving substance use disorder treatment, prevention, and recovery services.   

As you know, the nation is in the midst of an opioid abuse crisis.  The number of Americans aged 12 or older using opioids non-medically has reached approximately 4.5 million (SAMHSA, 2015).  Individuals who misuse prescription opioid painkillers are forty times more likely to be addicted to heroin, and prior prescription drug use appears to have been a common initial step on the pathway to heroin addiction, with 80 percent of new heroin users previously misusing prescription opioids (CDC 2015; SAMHSA 2013).  As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that over the last 10 years, heroin use has more than doubled among young adults ages 18 to 25.  Further, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there was a 6-fold increase in the total number of heroin-related overdose deaths from 2001 to 2014.  According to the CDC, in 2014, prescription opioid misuse and heroin addiction resulted in a total of 28,647 deaths.

The opioid abuse epidemic has also placed incredible pressures on our nation’s substance use disorder treatment system.  Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Treatment Episode Data System (TEDS) show that in 2012, nearly one-third of all treatment admissions were for prescription opioids or heroin, up from 14.9 percent in 1992.  According to the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), 39 States reported increases in treatment admissions for heroin during the past year (NASADAD, 2015).  Further, according to SAMHSA, admissions to treatment for opioid pain relievers increased by a staggering 500 percent from 2000 to 2012.  It is clear that more must be done to support effective treatment and prevention programs.  

The SAPT Block Grant, distributed to all States and Territories, provided treatment services for almost 2 million Americans in FY 2014.  In FY 2015, of clients discharged from treatment, over 72 percent were abstinent from illicit drugs and more than 83 percent were abstinent from alcohol.  The prevention funds included in the SAPT Block grant represent 70 percent of primary prevention funding managed by State substance abuse agencies. While the nation continues to grapple with an opioid abuse crisis of growing proportions, over the past 10 years, SAPT Block Grant funding has not kept up with inflation, resulting in a significant decrease in actual funding.    

We were pleased to see included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 a significant increase in funding for prevention and treatment initiatives related to addressing opioid abuse.  In our view, the scope of this epidemic requires our continued focus and attention, and stemming its tide requires sufficient federal resources to help support state and local efforts.  As work moves forward on appropriations for FY 2017, we urge you to maintain the highest possible level of funding for the SAPT Block Grant.  While we understand the current constraints on federal spending, we strongly support sensible investments in effective prevention and treatment programs that will save lives, reunite families and strengthen communities.  Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the CTE Excellence and Equity Act to support re-designing the high school experience by making courses more relevant to students’ future careers. The bill would provide federal funding forpartnerships between school districts, employers and institutions of higher education  in Virginia and other states that integrate high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs into high schools. Recently, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation (SB 336/HB 895) championed by Governor Terry McAuliffe that will change graduation requirements to focus more heavily on career readiness and work-based learning opportunities.

“To grow the most talented workforce in the world, we need to equip students with the skills to succeed in the 21st-century economy,” said Kaine. “A high school education should prepare students for any pathway they choose, whether that’s attending a four-year university, earning credentials from a community college program or getting a high-skilled job after graduation. Our bill would provide federal fundingto support schools as they redesign curriculum to incorporate impressive CTE programs like the ones I’ve visited at schools across Virginia.”

“Far too many young people don’t have an opportunity to gain the skills and experience get a good paying job,” Portman stated. “The CTE Excellence and Equity Act would help give more high school students the opportunity to participate in high quality CTE programs that provide college credit, workplace skills, and opportunities for internships and apprenticeship programs.”

“The only way we can meet workforce readiness challenges effectively, is if we have strong public-private partnerships that are supported by a Congress working across party lines,” said Baldwin. “There is a growing belief among both parties that Career and Technical Education is one of the most effective vehicles for responding to labor market changes and the workforce readiness needs of business and industry. This bipartisan legislation will help us do a better job of supporting CTE students so that they are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow.”

“By promoting career and technical training in high school, we can better prepare our students for the workforce of today and the future,” said Capito. “As West Virginia continues to grapple with high unemployment, it is critical that we do everything possible to prepare our workers for the jobs of the 21st century and create an environment in West Virginia where businesses want to invest. The CTE Excellence and Equity Act is a positive step in the right direction.”

TheCTE Excellence and Equity Act would provide federal funding through a competitive grant programto support innovative approaches to redesigningthe high school experience for students as schools develop curriculum, assess student performance and teach workplace skills through job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships. The bill would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which is expected to be considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this year.

“There is a mismatch between the traditional high school experience and the expectations of higher education and employers,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “This bipartisan legislation casts a wide net, bringing in employers, school districts, colleges, and others with a stake in the quality of the nation’s high school graduates to make the high school experience more engaging for students and more relevant to today’s job market.”

The CTE Excellence and Equity Act is supported by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the National Skills Coalition, the Society for Women Engineers and the Opportunity America Jobs and‎Career Coalition.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine praised passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bill that will help expand opioid abuse prevention and education efforts. The bill takes a comprehensive approach toaddressing a crisis that claimed more lives in Virginia in 2014 than vehicle crashes. It also includes a bipartisan amendment that Kaine introduced to help protect seniors who are vulnerable to medication abuse.  

“Across Virginia, we continue to see the tragic consequences of opioid abuse on our communities. I hear from parents who lost children to overdoses, law enforcement officers who face increased drug-related crimes, and people coping with addiction who struggle to get help. Their stories led me to fight this epidemic at the federal level andwe saw today that there is a strong consensus in the Senate that we must act. This bill will increase drug treatment services to help get people back on their feet and give first responders and law enforcement the resources they need to save lives. I look forward to continue working in the Senate to advance commonsense legislation that can build on the measures in today’s bill,” Kaine said.

Kaine’s amendment to protect seniors from medication abuse was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and is based on legislation he introduced last August called the Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act. The amendment, which is included inCARA, authorizes Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription plans to utilize a patient review and restriction tool, or ”lock-in” measure. This measure would help identify individuals at risk of addiction, connect them with resources, and restrict them to one pharmacy and one provider when accessing controlled substances. Kaine, a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, held a field hearing in Loudoun County last month to examine the ongoing fight against opioid misuse and abuse among older Americans.

Kaine has been a leading voice in the Senate on the importance of addressing the opioid abuse crisis that has had a harmful impact on Virginia communities. Last November, he introduced the Co-prescribing Saves Lives Act, a bipartisan bill that would encourage physicians to co-prescribe the life-saving drug Naloxone alongside opioid prescriptions and would make it more widely available in federal health settings. The bill is scheduled to be marked up by members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee next week. He is also a cosponsor of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, bipartisan reform legislation aimed at providing safer and more effective pain management services through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA).

Nationwide, heroin and opioids account for approximately 25,000 deaths per year. CARA will expand the availability of Naloxone to first responders and law enforcement. The overdose antidote has reversed more than 26,000 overdose cases between 1996 and 2014. CARA will also support additional resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals struggling with substance use disorders, expand drug take-back efforts to promote safe disposal of unused or unwanted prescriptions, strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, and launch prescription opioid and heroin treatment and intervention programs.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement after President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address tonight:

“Tonight, President Obama reflected on the significant progress our country has made over the past seven years and challenged us to reach higher. After assuming office in the midst of a global fiscal collapse and two open-ended wars, President Obama has patiently worked to rebuild a more sustainable economy, inspire an innovative and cleaner energy future, advance the equality and health of all citizens and reinvigorated diplomacy as a major measure of American strength. Challenges remain, at home and abroad, but the American spirit is strong and it stands in stark contrast to the histrionic pessimism emanating from a few headline grabbing presidential candidates.

“I appreciate President Obama’s renewed call for Congress to finally come together to recognize ISIL as our enemy and authorize the use of military force against the terrorist group, but I’m disappointed another State of the Union has gone by without action from our country’s elected leaders on this critical issue – one that has left our servicemembers deployed to fight over the past 17 months without the most important signal of support we can offer.

“I am also pleased the President touched on the issue of opioid abuse – a growing epidemic in Virginia and the reason I invited Don Flattery, a resident of Alexandria, to be my guest tonight. Don lost his son Kevin – a 26-year-old graduate of the University of Virginia – to an opioid overdose in 2014. Don is such a powerful advocate because his story shows us that this epidemic goes beyond shocking statistics; it’s impacting families from all walks of life and robbing us of young people like Kevin who have incredible potential. I’m hopeful Congress will soon take action to help stop the opioid addiction crisis by increasing access to the life-saving drug Naloxone, addressing the over-prescription of opioids, ensuring those in need have affordable treatment options and improving prevention efforts in communities across the country.”


Kaine visited Emporia, South Hill, Boydton & South Boston

WASHINGTON, D.C.  - Continuing his five-day swing through Virginia today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine made stops in Emporia and South Hill to meet with local leaders and discuss opportunities for economic development and job creation. In the morning, Kaine met with Emporia Mayor Mary Person and went on a retail walk through the town. Photos are available here.

"I sat down with Mayor Person and other local leaders today to hear their advice for ways I can be helpful, from pushing for long-term infrastructure investments to improving K-12 education and workforce training,” Kaine said. “Emporia's strategic location at the intersection of Route 58 and I-95 and the work I saw today to renovate its historic downtown will be critical as they work to attract new business to the city."

Kaine also stopped in South Hill to tour the historic Colonial Theatre with Mayor Earl Horne, Town Manager Kim Callis and other local leaders. Photos are available here.

“I’ve been looking forward to revisiting the renovated historic Colonial Theatre,” Kaine said. “The performing arts play an integral role in community building and local economic development. It’s great that South Hill has such a historic attraction in its town.”

Later in the day, Kaine visited the Microsoft Data Center in Boydton and ABB Halifax in South Boston to take tours of the facilities, met with employees and discussed the importance of investments in career and technical education (CTE) to grow a workforce. Kaine, co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, recently introduced the JOBS Act to expand federal Pell Grants to students who enroll in short-term job training programs, which would help workers afford high-quality training in advanced manufacturing and other industries.





WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on Senate confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the United States:

"In confirming Loretta Lynch as our next Attorney General, the Senate has chosen a distinguished legal mind and experienced public servant to lead the Department of Justice. Throughout her career, Lynch has developed a reputation for her integrity and trusted leadership, which will serve the nation well as she addresses recent tensions between law enforcement and communities across the country. While it is unacceptable that is has taken the Senate 166 days to act on such a well-qualified and highly-regarded nominee, I am proud that we have finally confirmed Loretta Lynch, and I am confident that she will work hard to ensure justice for all Americans.”

On March 12, Kaine spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to swiftly confirm Lynch as Attorney General.


Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The PRE-K Act will help more kids enter kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing federal-state partnerships that incentivize states to both improve the quality of state preschool programs and expand those programs to serve more children in need.  

“Expanding access to early childhood education helps close the achievement gap and prepare students for a lifetime of learning,” said Senator Kaine, who expanded the Virginia Preschool Initiative as Governor. “To keep our economy strong, we need a long-term plan that produces the best workforce in the world. A key step in growing our talented workforce is ensuring that all children are prepared to enter school ready to learn. Last year, I successfully urged the U.S. Department of Education to give Virginia a $17.5 million Preschool Development Grant to expand high-quality preschool programs for children from low and moderate income families. The PRE-K Act would build upon this grant, providing Virginia and the nation with opportunities to strengthen and expand our preschools.”

The PRE-K Act creates a new federal-state partnership to improve state preschool programs and expand current programs to serve more children in need. States with small or newer programs could apply for startup funds if they submit a plan to establish a high-quality preschool program within two years. PRE-K Act funds could help states hire and train early educators, expand preschool days and hours, or provide comprehensive services such as health screenings and meals.

Kaine has been a long-time champion of access to quality early learning programs. As Governor, he championed early childhood education by increasing Pre-K enrollment by 40 percent in the Commonwealth. As a Senator, he introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act in the last Congress to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children under the age of five.

Kaine introduced the PRE-K Act with the following cosponsors: Mazie Hirono, Sherrod Brown, Dick Durbin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Brian Schatz and Ron Wyden.

Similar legislation is also being introduced in the House by Reps. Mark Pocan and Mike Honda.

The PRE-K Act of 2015 has been endorsed by the following national organizations:

  • American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
  • Association of Education Service Agencies (AESA)
  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education - CEC
  • Early Care and Education Consortium
  • First Focus Campaign for Children
  • Good Beginnings Alliance
  • HighScope Educational Research Foundation
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE)
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition (NREAC)
  • National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)
  • Parents As Teachers
  • School Social Work Association of America (SSWA)


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