This week, the Senate passed a second bipartisan coronavirus relief package, focused on helping people feeling the economic consequences of the outbreak. Negotiations on a third, larger economic relief bill are currently ongoing.
Here’s your Warner Weekly Wrap-up:
That’s what they’re calling the initial bipartisan coronavirus economic relief package Congress passed on Wednesday. Among other provisions, this legislation:
• Guarantees testing for coronavirus will be free
• Expands unemployment insurance and reduces barriers for workers applying for UI
• Extends paid sick leave to some workers if they seek treatment for coronavirus, quarantine, or care for a family member with the virus
• Provides payroll tax credits to companies offering paid sick leave to their employees for coronavirus treatment
• Expands nutrition assistance for low-income families
• Provides additional funding for state Medicaid programs dealing with the coronavirus
Sens. Warner and Kaine, who both voted in favor of the legislation, issued a joint statement following the vote, saying:
“This legislation is a critical step forward to support workers and families impacted by the coronavirus. We’re pleased the bill includes our priorities to guarantee free coronavirus testing and establish paid sick leave for some American workers. This is one of many steps we must take to confront this pandemic. We will keep fighting for the resources Virginia needs to defend against this virus and help our economy recover from its consequences.”
The next step for Congress is what’s being called Phase III of the coronavirus response. Negotiations for this even larger economic stimulus and public health legislation are ongoing, and Sen. Warner is working around the clock to ensure that it contains provisions that will help Virginians who are struggling due to the coronavirus outbreak. Sen. Warner outlined two of his top priorities explicitly this week:
First, he is especially focused on disaster unemployment insurance for workers who have fallen through the cracks of our social safety net. As he stated in a video update to his constituents today, his priority is to expand unemployment insurance to cover furloughed workers, hourly workers, gig workers, and others who are missing paychecks but have not formally been laid off.
Second, Sen. Warner is working to ensure small and mid-sized businesses have sufficient cash flow to stay open during the coronavirus outbreak. In a statement this week, he proposed an emergency lending facility to provide credit to small and mid-sized businesses. His statement reads, in part:
“…We have to get cash flow back to our small and mid-sized businesses so that they can remain open, retain their employees, and survive through this public health emergency. Nearly 18 million people are employed in industries whose revenues are severely curtailed and are vulnerable to layoffs. Many businesses, particularly small and mid-sized firms, are running down their cash and credit lines. As we see more areas enforce tighter social distancing restrictions, this problem is only set to get worse.
“I am proposing that we immediately set up a small and mid-sized business liquidity facility, jointly run by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, to provide companies affected by the virus with federally-guaranteed loans at low rates throughout the crisis. The loans would be delivered through local financial institutions and backed by up to $1T in federal financing. A few important elements of this proposal include:
– Simple terms and underwriting requirements in order to quickly deliver cash flow to these businesses;
– Protections to ensure that any company taking a loan is required to retain a large portion of its workforce; and
– Some specific mechanisms to avoid any moral hazard and hold financial institutions accountable.
“If we do not take action immediately, thousands of American businesses and millions of their employees are at enormous risk. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming days to provide them the assistance they need to weather the current crisis.”
As Yahoo Finance noted this week, Sen. Warner’s proposal, “…would include some protection that would require a borrower to commit to keeping their employees on the payroll. Warner said he is also considering additional measures that may restrict executive compensation.”
Sen. Warner, a notorious worker of the phones since his days as Governor, has been actively engaging with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, working to ensure Virginia’s priorities are represented in the next phase of coronavirus legislation. Stay tuned.
HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
While Sen. Warner continues to push for this larger emergency liquidity facility, some emergency capital just became available to Virginia small businesses. On Thursday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a statewide economic injury disaster loan declaration.
This declaration unlocks emergency long-term, low-interest loans for small businesses for up to $2 million to help cover operating costs during the coronavirus outbreak.
Sen. Warner applauded the announcement and quickly began spreading the word for eligible businesses.
Small business owners in need of assistance should first read this SBA fact sheet, then apply online using the SBA website.
ADDITIONAL CORONAVIRUS ACTIONS
Here is a list of additional steps Sen. Warner has taken this week to assist Virginians impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak:
• TELEHEALTH: Sen. Warner applauded the announcement that Medicare would begin paying clinicians across the country for telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries during the coronavirus outbreak. This decision was enabled by passage earlier this month of provisions from Sen. Warner’s bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act of 2019, as part of the initial $8.3 billion coronavirus response package.
• VIRGINIA VETERANS: In letters sent today, Sens. Warner and Kaine urged four Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers to expend every effort to ensure that veterans and the health providers who care for them are safe amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In letters to the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, the Salem VA Medical Center, the Hampton VA Medical Center, and the Washington DC VA Medical Center, the Senators asked for more information on each facility’s efforts to address the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the health of VA employees.
• NO CAPS: Sen. Warner applauded announcements by several major internet service providers that they would adopt practices to better accommodate the use of remote technologies that students, workers, and public health officials will rely upon during the coronavirus outbreak.
• DAYCARE: Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, urging the agency to issue clear guidance for child care providers to determine whether these centers should remain open amid the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak.
• AMERICANS ABROAD: Sen. Warner urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to provide State Department guidance and assistance to Americans stuck abroad after heightened travel restrictions, lockdowns, and border closures across the globe to curb the spread of coronavirus have left U.S. citizens stranded in foreign countries indefinitely.
• POWER BILLS: This week, Sens. Warner and Kaine urged the body that regulates public utilities including electricity, natural gas, and water in Virginia to promptly issue an order suspending the charging of late fees through the duration of Virginia’s state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
• FEDERAL WORKERS: Sen. Warner led seven of his Senate colleagues in a letter calling on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to post department and agency contingency plans amid the COVID-19 outbreak so that Americans know what services to expect as more federal agencies begin to ramp up teleworking capabilities to mitigate the spread of the virus.
• DoD GUIDANCE: On Friday, Sen. Warner pushed the Department of Defense (DoD) to issue guidance for uniformed, civilian, and contractor personnel to help them better understand their options for paid leave and telework amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
• UNEMPLOYMENT: Following the passage of the bipartisan coronavirus economic relief package that day, Sen. Warner led a letter urging state governors and workforce administrators to implement its provisions easing restrictions on emergency unemployment benefits.
• NURSING HOMES & DISABILITIES: Sens. Warner and Kaine joined more than 30 of their Democratic colleagues to press the Coronavirus Task Force on their preparedness and response plans for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
• AD SCAMS: Sens. Warner and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, expressing deep concern that Google – despite claiming to ban ads that capitalize on novel coronavirus fears – continues to run ads for products such as face masks and hand sanitizer.
• HOSPITALITY & TOURISM: The Virginia and Maryland Senators sent a letter to the financial regulators asking them to take action to mitigate the adverse impacts of the coronavirus on workers in the hospitality and tourism industry.
• RURAL RESPONSE: In light of the unique challenges facing rural communities, Sen. Warner sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to enable thousands of federal civil servants, who have experience with rapid emergency response, to assist rural communities that are increasingly overwhelmed by the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
• TELEWORK FOR FEDS: Following a mixed message from the administration to federal workers and contractors, Sen. Warner joined 24 of his colleagues in urging the President to immediately issue an executive order directing agencies to maximize the use of telework.
(NON-CORONAVIRUS) GRAB BAG
• EASTERN DISTRICT: Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young and U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.
• DREAMERS: Sen. Warner joined a group of 36 Senators and 87 Representatives in pressing the Trump Administration on reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is preparing mass deportations of Dreamers, young immigrants who grew up in the United States and know no other home.
• GW PARKWAY: Last Friday, Sen. Warner led a bicameral letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the National Park Service’s grant application for $102 million in federal funds to reconstruct nearly eight miles of the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Social distancing. The Senate is expected to vote on a third coronavirus relief package in the coming days.
U.S Senator Mark Warner: Statement on DOL Proposed ESG Rule
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, released the following statement on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule enabling retirement plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their decision-making:
“I am glad that the Employee Benefits Security Administration has moved to reverse one of the Trump Administration’s efforts to ignore the calamitous effects of climate change, including its associated financial risks, by proposing a rule enabling retirement plans to consider Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations in investment decisions. Companies do not operate in a vacuum and investment fiduciaries should have the ability to consider the sustainability of the broader community without running afoul of their fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders. With the publication of this proposed rule, the Biden Administration has taken a step towards protecting the long-term financial security of pensioners and workers across the country.
“This proposed rule also highlights the continued importance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) effort to establish clear ESG disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies. Investors increasingly clamor for consistent ESG reporting because they understand companies that invest in their workers, minimize harmful environmental impacts, and enact strong worker safety measures, also tend to perform better in the long-run.”
Under the proposed rule, retirement plan administrators will continue to act in the sole interest of the plan’s participants but will now be able to more freely include ESG factors, including in their initial analysis of investment options. Sen. Warner has previously called on Congress to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to require consideration of ESG factors as part of fiduciary duty. While this rule does not require consideration of ESG factors by plan managers, it grants critical flexibility to do so.
Warner Weekly Wrap-Up: Raise the Roof
This week, the Senate considered a number of executive nominations, resolutions, and pieces of legislation, including a bill to extend the nation’s debt limit through early December. Following last week’s spending bill to temporarily keep the government open, the Senate continued to negotiate with the White House and the House of Representatives in an effort to raise the debt limit, pass historic infrastructure legislation, and find a compromise on the budget reconciliation.
RAISE THE ROOF
This week, Sen. Warner was focused on avoiding a dangerous debt default that loomed come mid-October, after Republican leaders spent weeks insisting that they would not vote to honor the debts already incurred under the last presidential administration.
Failure to make good on the full faith and credit of the United States would have irreversible consequences for American families, businesses and local communities. Seniors could stop receiving Social Security checks. Families would stop getting their child tax credits. And costs would be passed onto consumers… as mortgages, car loans, and credit cards get more expensive.
Nothing about raising the debt limit obligates any new spending. This is just about paying for the debt that was already incurred – to the tune of $8 trillion under President Trump.
Momentarily staving off financial and economic disaster, a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday evening voted to temporarily extend the nation’s debt limit through early December, giving congressional leaders an additional two months to figure out a way to avoid a catastrophic default.
Following the vote to extend the nation’s debt limit Sen. Warner issued the following tweet:
Sen. Warner, who has been vocal about the need to reform the nation’s debt ceiling, said this, in a call to Virginia reporters:
“Having this arbitrary political tool out there that allows extremists on either end of the political spectrum, by giving them a live hand grenade and having them pull the pin to self-inflict damage, is crazy.”
He doubled down on the importance of debt limit reform in an interview with ABC News’ Phil Lipof:
“When we come to December…my hope is we can include elimination of this frankly crazy requirement because it is nothing but a political tool, used by both parties, to extract a pound of flesh without a meaningful policy debate…if we were to put into jeopardy the full faith and credit of the United States it would have both national security and hugely catastrophic economic consequences.”
For months, Charlottesville residents have experienced some of the worst mail delays in the country – sometimes going days or even weeks without any mail delivery at all. For months, Virginians have been missing out on needed medications, incurring late fees for bills that don’t arrive on time, and, of late, waiting on absentee ballots that should have arrived weeks ago.
Over the weekend, many Charlottesville residents finally started to see some relief, as a surge of postal carriers from across Virginia descended on the region to help tackle the backlog of piled-up mail, with an additional 55 carriers Saturday and 63 carriers Sunday joining local postal workers in an all-hands-on-deck blizzard of mail activity. The blitz followed an August visit by Sen. Warner to the Charlottesville post office, where he called on the U.S. Postal Service to immediately address the unacceptable levels of service in the area. Sen. Warner was also joined by Sen. Kaine in writing to Virginia District Manager of the United States Postal Service Gerald Roane, urging him to address the problem.
After last weekend’s surge, Sen. Warner held a remote media availability to specifically address to the problem of mail delivery delays in Charlottesville and throughout the Commonwealth. Speaking to reporters, Sen. Warner expressed frustration in the lack of communication and transparency from the postal service as well as the lack of progress made in regards to a permanent solution.
“Some of these management errors and lack of transparency frustrates the heck out of me. Now at the end of the day…there’s only so much rattling of the cage I can do. I really think it’s going to take pressure from me, pressure from the press, and others to get more clarity.”
Following Sen. Warner’s media availability, the post office announced a Saturday job fair to recruit more mail carriers. In the meantime, a number of extra carriers will be staying in the area to help keep up with the flow of mail and continue working to eliminate the mail backlog.
For years, intelligence and diplomatic personnel serving abroad have been falling victim to “unexplained health incidents” caused by mysterious attacks from an unknown source. “Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an illness that surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016. Since then, dozens of U.S. diplomats and members of the intelligence community at other locations have suffered symptoms including dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and memory loss that a study by the National Academy of Sciences found was consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.
President Biden signed into law the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, legislation authored by Sen. Warner, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), to provide health and financial support to the public servants injured as a result of these directed energy attacks.
Sen. Warner issued the following statement celebrating the HAVANA Act being signed into law:
“Every day, American diplomats and intelligence officers around the world put themselves at risk to keep our nation safe. In return, we have an obligation to provide ample support when these brave men and women are injured in the line of duty. As the Senate Intelligence Committee continues to look into the mysterious and debilitating attacks on U.S. personnel abroad, I’m proud to know that these officials will now be able to count on the compensation and care they deserve, thanks to President Biden’s signing of our Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act.”
This legislation authorizes the CIA Director, the Secretary of State, and other agency leaders to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries. Both the CIA and State Department will be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment. The legislation also requires the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.
LEADERS IN TECH: Sen. Warner sent a letter urging the Biden Administration to make technology policy a priority at the upcoming ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY: Sens Warner and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent presidential abuse of “national security” tariffs by reinstating congressional authority over trade.
KNOW ANYONE: Sens. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, to succeed United States District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson, who will assume senior status effective November 23, 2021.
CONFIRMED: Sens. Warner and Kaine released a statement upon the Senate voting to confirm Jessica Aber as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) and Christopher Kavanaugh as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA).
RIGHT TO VOTE: Sens. Warner and Kaine joined Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in introducing legislation to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act and stop the spread of voter suppression.
The Senate will be in recess next week. Sen. Warner is expected to hit the road, where he’ll hold events across Virginia.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – October 6, 2021
Once again the American people were failed by the Democratic leadership in the U.S. Congress. After days of canceling scheduled votes in an attempt by Speaker Pelosi to get her caucus in line, Democrats failed to pass their bloated “infrastructure” package, even after a Capitol Hill visit from President Biden. Instead, they passed a 30-day extension of the existing surface transportation law. However, the fight is not over. Speaker Pelosi will use the next 30 days to attempt to wrangle the votes she needs to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which serves as the key for progressives to unlocking the massive $4.3 trillion tax and spending spree reconciliation legislation.
We also heard this week from Generals Milley and McKenzie, as well as Secretary of Defense Austin, regarding the disastrous withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. These advisors testified that they recommended leaving a stabilizing force in the country, which is in direct contradiction to the President’s claims.
On a more positive note, there was movement on several pieces of legislation that I have cosponsored, including the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act, which was signed into law. Further, this week, I took action to support our veterans, expressed residents’ concerns to the US Postal Service, and honored a local charitable foundation. It was a busy few days, but I appreciate the honor to serve on your behalf.
The House was in disarray this week as the Speaker tried desperately to unite her party around a $1.2 trillion boondoggle infrastructure package. After days of canceling votes, the Speaker was forced to temporarily concede after she and President Biden failed to get the bill over the finish line. The far-Left wing of their caucus refuses to vote for the $1.2 trillion package unless the behemoth $4.3 trillion reconciliation bill is passed first in the Senate. This delay is a win for the American people as neither bill truly addresses infrastructure and instead prioritizes Green New Deal initiatives and pork-barrel spending, all the while raising taxes on American families and saddling future generations with crippling debt.
By the time Friday evening came and no deal was reached, the Speaker was forced to pass a 30-day extension of the existing surface transportation law. I voted no when the bill came to the Floor because this legislation is simply a tool being used by the Speaker to buy more time that will be used to coerce Democrats to support the larger “infrastructure” package. I will continue to oppose these two bills as they would be detrimental to the long-term viability of the US economy and would cause inflation to soar to even higher levels than we are already experiencing.
Democrats Mismanagement of Government:
The past few days once again highlighted the dysfunction that occurs when Democrats are left to govern. After playing a game of “chicken” by trying to tie passage of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government to an increase in the debt ceiling, the Left was forced to split the bills in order to avert a government shutdown. While the House and Senate did pass a CR to keep the government open, the debt ceiling issue still remains. Contrary to Democrat claims, the responsibility for default would fall squarely on the shoulders of the Left. Democrats control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and they have the procedural tools and time necessary to raise the debt ceiling ahead of the Treasury’s deadline. However, if Democrats would like this to be a bipartisan initiative, they must make serious reforms to rein in reckless spending.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan was an avoidable disaster and the following facts are indisputable: hundreds of Americans were abandoned and many remain stranded, thousands of Afghan allies are still stuck with little hope of escape, billions of dollars worth of US provided military equipment are now in the hands of the Taliban, thousands of hardened Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists were freed from prison, 10 innocent Afghans were killed in a botched airstrike, and 13 of our brave service members were murdered by a coward in a suicide vest.
Prior to the withdrawal, President Biden repeatedly said that the Taliban takeover was not inevitable; that we had plenty of time to safely evacuate Americans and Afghan allies; and that this was not going to be like the Fall of Saigon. When all of these events did eventually happen, he claims his military advisors had not warned him of these possibilities nor that he had received a recommendation to leave a stabilizing force of US troops in the country to prevent such a disaster. However, this week, those assertions by the President were contradicted by Secretary Austin, General Milley, and General McKenzie during their testimony before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. It’s clear that President Biden ignored the advice of his top military advisors, which resulted in a disastrous and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Finally, it is ridiculous that Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller is, to date, the only military official who has suffered any consequence for the failed Afghanistan withdrawal. For speaking out and demanding accountability from civilian and military leadership LtCol Scheller was removed from command and ultimately placed in the brig. This is unacceptable, and my colleagues and I demanded he is removed from confinement immediately. The full letter can be found here.
Congressional Budget Transparency Act:
Throughout my career, I have worked to make government at all levels more transparent to the people it serves. Transparency in and of itself is key to good governance and is not a partisan issue. That is why I was pleased to work with both sides of the aisle to get the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act signed into law. Congressional budget justifications are plain language explanations of how agencies propose to spend money that they request from Congress. While agencies produce an annual congressional budget justification, they are not always made publicly available. With this bill now being signed into law, agencies are required to post those justifications on a single, searchable, publicly available database. This is a win in ensuring the Federal government is more accountable to the taxpayer.
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is the central repository of personnel-related records for both the military and civil services of the United States Government. Unfortunately, the agency is currently operating at only 10 percent capacity, despite a $15 million appropriation from Congress. As a result, the NPRC has a backlog of more than half a million records requests – predominantly for DD-214 forms – that have been unfulfilled. A DD-214 form is a Veteran’s primary document used to prove his or her service in the United States military. It is required to obtain an identification card needed to receive Veteran benefits like health and dental care, access preferential hiring for federal jobs, shop and receive services at military bases, and more. Without this verification, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Veterans to access the benefits they have earned through hard work and sacrifice to our country. My colleagues and I recently wrote to the President, the Archivist of the United States, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to urge them to take swift action to address this issue. Veterans are our Nation’s heroes, and they should not be left behind because of bureaucratic red-tape and staffing shortages. To read the full letter, click here.
Solving Postal Issues:
The United States Postal Service (USPS) provides a vital national service, especially for those in rural areas like ours. Unfortunately, my office hears regularly from Sixth District residents about frustrations they have with the USPS. Chief among these concerns is slow mail delivery or folks not receiving their mail at all. This is a serious issue that must be addressed. In addition to this, residents often experience issues with facility accessibility, employee interactions, and the safety of mailbox locations. Please know that I am aware of these difficulties and am taking steps to address them. This week, I met with the USPS government affairs team to voice these concerns and called on them to take corrective action. Rest assured I will keep constituents apprised of any update related to this situation. In the meantime, if you are experiencing issues with the USPS, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my District Offices.
This week I was pleased to recognize the 20th anniversary of the Community Foundation for Rockbridge, Bath, and Alleghany. In its first year as an independent organization in 2011, the Foundation was able to provide $32,000 in grants to the community. Through the support of many individuals, families, and businesses over the years, the organization has grown exponentially, and in the past ten years, the Community Foundation has been able to grant a cumulative $2.5 million to nonprofit organizations, projects, and programs across the organization’s service area. Just this year alone, the group will be awarding more than $300,000 in community grants and an additional $30,000 in scholarships. These grants are made possible through the generosity of individuals and businesses and primarily support projects related to arts and culture, community betterment, education, health, and human services. In celebration of their 20 years, the organization pledged to give away $20,000 in 20 days to various nonprofits throughout our region. The work of the Community Foundation is truly inspiring, and I thank them for their tireless efforts. I wish the organization another 20 plus years of success.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner: Government won’t shutdown, but disappointed it’s only a temporary measure
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after voting in favor of a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown by keeping the government funded at current levels through December 3, 2021:
“I’m pleased to know that the government won’t shut down tonight, but disappointed that we’ve once again been forced to resort to last-ditch measures. Although we voted to avert a shutdown crisis today – sparing the livelihoods of federal workers everywhere and preserving much-needed stability for Americans – we continue to head towards economic calamity by failing to act in a bipartisan way to lift the debt ceiling. Once this stopgap bill is in place, I urge my friends on the other side of the aisle to put the country first and act to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States as we have done so many times in the past.”
The resolution will now head to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.
Sen. Warner has been a vocal critic of government shutdowns, which take a toll on federal workers and employees who are often left with no other recourse than to drain their savings, tank their credit, or choose between putting food on the table or keeping a roof above their heads. Earlier this week, he introduced the Stop STUPIDITY (Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage In The Coming Years) Act, legislation to prevent future government shutdowns.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – September 29, 2021
The events of the last week in the House are a prime example of how to poorly run our Nation’s government. Even though one party controls the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, the Federal Government is expected to run out of funds on October 1. Last Tuesday, Democrats passed a Continuing Resolution in an attempt to keep the Government open. However, in an unprecedented move, the Speaker attached a poison pill to raise the debt ceiling but included no reforms to control future runaway spending. The Left will attempt to fault Republicans for a government shutdown or a default should one happen, but considering they have the votes and procedural tools to pass this solely on their own, their attacks are simply a deflection from their own problems.
Further, the House passed a flawed National Defense Authorization Act last week. While this bill is necessary to ensure our servicemembers have the tools necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively, the bill failed to hold the Biden Administration accountable for their incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Democrats also passed a bill that virtually allows abortions on demand until birth. I rose in strong opposition to the measure and advocated for the rights of the unborn.
And finally, as we look toward this week, the Speaker is preparing to call up the Senate’s $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” package, which will be tied to the massive $4.3 trillion “human infrastructure” bill. This boondoggle will do little to improve our Nation’s roads and bridges while saddling future generations with the soaring national debt. One positive development of the past week was that we were able to secure $1 billion in funding for the Iron Dome protecting our ally Israel after “The Squad” had initially forced the Speaker to remove it from the Continuing Resolution. I also had the honor to meet with Sixth District constituents to hear about the issues most important to them. As the House returns to session, I will continue to be a voice of fiscal responsibility during the spending madness with your tax dollars.
Continuing Resolution/Debt Ceiling:
While Republicans have urged the Majority to engage in bipartisan negotiations to keep the government open, Speaker Pelosi unilaterally decided to attach a debt ceiling increase to the Continuing Resolution, providing Democrats a blank check for trillions of dollars in future spending. This measure, which had no bipartisan input and no reforms to rein in future wasteful spending, will not pass the Senate nor be signed into law. Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they have the procedural tools necessary to raise the debt ceiling without Republican support. My Republican colleagues and I refused to help Democrats in their march toward socialism, and any attempt to blame Republicans for a potential government shutdown is simply a deceiving messaging tactic. If they want Republican support for either measure, they should be prepared to make concessions to rein in wasteful spending, something Democrats refuse to support.
Since I arrived in Congress in 2019, I have made it a top priority to improve our infrastructure. I have repeatedly advocated for and testified in favor of repairing and expanding our roadways and bridges across the Sixth District, including Interstate 81. While I applaud those in the House and Senate who originally tried to negotiate improvements to our core physical infrastructure, the reality is that the final legislation has gone “off the rails”. In fact, the Senate agreement allocates just $110 billion for roads and bridges, less than 15% of the total bill funding.
In addition, on Saturday, the Budget Committee, on which I serve, marked up the $4.3 trillion reconciliation bill. This legislation is a trojan horse filled with Far-Left Democrats’ socialist dreams. It included $7.5 billion to create a Civilian Climate Corps to promote the Green New Deal, $80 billion for more IRS agents, $42.3 billion in tax credits for the wealthy to buy expensive electric vehicles, and amnesty for illegal aliens. It will kill American jobs, increase taxes on families, increase inflation, provide amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, encourage the elimination of right-to-work laws, expand government control of healthcare, and so much more. The reconciliation package also calls for the highest sustained federal spending levels in American history and proposes $68 trillion in total spending over the next ten years, $16.3 trillion of total deficit spending over ten years, and increases the national debt by $17 trillion, growing to $45 trillion by 2031. This level of spending is reckless with inflation already at a 13-year high and the national debt currently about $29 trillion.
Finally, the $4.3 trillion reconciliation package includes $3 trillion in tax increases, the largest tax increase since 1968. The plan would raise our corporate tax rate to higher levels than even Communist China with a combined state-federal rate of 30.9 percent. American companies would pay this higher global minimum tax for operating abroad while also paying Democrats’ higher corporate rate for operating at home—making America even less competitive and driving jobs, manufacturing, research, and investment overseas. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the Biden Administration’s global minimum tax would destroy up to one million U.S. jobs. Further, middle-class families will undoubtedly bear the burden of Democrats’ corporate income tax hike. The Joint Committee on Taxation found that over 66 percent of the tax increase will be borne by middle- and lower-income earners. This would come in the form of lower wages, unemployment, and higher utility bills. This crippling tax hike comes at a time when American families are dealing with a stagnant economy, skyrocketing inflation, and higher prices triggered by Democrats’ out-of-control spending. This proposal, particularly the corporate tax increase, will be shouldered by the middle-class and small businesses, send jobs and businesses fleeing overseas, and gives America’s competitors an advantage. I voted no on this debacle when it came for a vote in the Budget Committee.
With House Democrats tying passage to the two bills, I must oppose both when they come before the House of Representatives for a vote. Instead, I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address core infrastructure needs across Virginia and throughout the United States.
I support our brave men and women in uniform and appreciate the great sacrifices they and their families make. The National Defense Authorization Act should make sure that our warfighters are the best equipped, most well-trained military in the world. Unfortunately, this bill instead ties the hands of the Department of Defense with more bureaucratic red tape, and it did nothing to address the failures of senior military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan. It also includes “red flag laws” that would impact the Second Amendment rights of soldiers, prioritizes funding Critical Race Theory for our service members, and subjects our daughters to the draft. It is my hope that the Conference Committee will take steps to address these issues and send back to the House a bill that I can support.
Last week, Democrats continued to push their anti-life agenda on the American people with the passage of the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act.” This extreme bill would override state pro-life laws on informed consent, parental notification in the case of a minor, prohibiting dismemberment abortions, and prohibiting abortions based on a Down Syndrome diagnosis, the baby’s sex, when a baby can feel pain, and when the baby’s heartbeat can be detected. Essentially, the Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act removes nearly all pro-life protections for the unborn at both the state and federal levels. Under this law, every state will be a late-term abortion state where abortions can be performed until birth for almost any reason. I voted against this legislation and will continue to advocate for pro-life policies in Congress. We must defend those who are society’s most defenseless.
As the Representative for the Sixth District, I remain committed to meeting with constituents and advocacy groups both at home and in Washington. This week, I enjoyed hearing from constituents in-person and virtually to learn more about the issues that matter most to them.
As of September 26, 2021, Virginia has had 849,865b total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 12,511. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of September 26th, 5,757,774 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 5,117,614 people are fully vaccinated.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
Warner and Kaine announce more than $28 million in federal funding for Virginia health care facilities
WASHINGTON –On September 28, 2021, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that Virginia health centers will receive $28,545,390 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to better serve vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Health centers are vital to the communities they serve, and too often they are lacking the resources they need to provide the care Virginians need. These challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Senators said. “These funds will give care centers the ability to adequately treat patients and continue their lifesaving work during the global pandemic.”
The funding will be distributed as follows:
• Stony Creek Community Health Center in Stony Creek will receive $98,988
• Central Virginia Health Services Inc. will receive $1,003,679
• Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems Inc. will receive $663,636
• Free Clinic of The New River Valley Inc. will receive $556,210
• Greater Prince William Area Community Health Center Inc. will receive $711,255
• Southern Dominion Health Systems Inc. will receive $637,313
• Blue Ridge Medical Center Inc. will receive $594,380
• Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness will receive $552,591
• Clinch River Health Services in Dungannon will receive $529,689
• Daily Planet Inc. in Richmond will receive $575,000
• Kuumba Community Health & Wellness Center Inc. in Roanoke will receive $603,873
• Rockbridge Area Free Clinic in Lexington will receive $573,612
• Johnson Health Center in Lynchburg will receive $776,265
• Highland Medical Center in Monterey will receive $520,658
• Tri-Area Community Health will receive $609,340
• Neighborhood Health will receive $821,057
• St. Charles Health Council in Jonesville will receive $689,013
• Piedmont Access to Health Services Inc. in Danville will receive $712,311
• Eastern Shore Rural Health System Inc. will receive $848,194
• The City of Richmond will receive $657,135
• Loudoun Community Health Center in Leesburg will receive $637,808
• Harrisonburg Community Health Center Inc. will receive $671,611
• Portsmouth Community Health Center in Portsmouth will receive $641,603
• Bland County Medical Clinic Inc. in Bastian will receive $570,455
• Horizon Health Services Inc. will receive $551,062
In addition, the Virginia Department of Health will receive $12,738,652 from the Ryan White Title II Formula Grants Program.
The funding was awarded through the American Rescue Plan, which both Senators voted in favor of, and will help modernize, renovate, and expand health centers that have been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.