Happy Friday from the Warner press office. Sen. Warner is traveling around the Commonwealth this weekend – this afternoon, he was briefed in Richmond about the December 2021 cyber-attack on the Virginia General Assembly and spoke with the press about his proposed policy solutions. Earlier in the week, the Senate voted on sanctions and continued to work on voting rights.
Sen. Warner also participated in nomination hearings for Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve nominee Lael Brainard, and Sandra Thompson, President Biden’s nominee to be director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). In his capacity as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner also chaired the nomination hearing of Kenneth L. Wainstein, the nominee to be Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, and celebrated some exciting infrastructure funding announcements.
All of this (and more) in your Warner Weekly Wrap-Up:
BRIDGE OVER (WELL-FUNDED) WATERS
The bipartisan infrastructure law continues to make it rain for the Commonwealth of Virginia. This morning, the U.S. Department of Transportation launched its Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program – an exciting initiative devoted to repairing bridges nationally. Virginia will receive $536.8 million from this program, making it the largest EVER investment in Virginia bridges.
The funding comes at a critical time – with 577 bridges across the Commonwealth deemed “in poor condition,” this is an important investment in making transportation safer and more reliable.
In July 2021, Sen. Warner visited the historic Mayo Bridge in Richmond, which could receive funds as part of the law. Images from that visit here.
Sen. Warner was a key author and negotiator of this law, and he welcomed this latest announcement as just one of the transformative investments coming to Virginia as a result of its passage. In a joint statement with Sen. Kaine, he wrote,
“We’re thrilled to announce this record amount of funding to fix aging bridges across Virginia. Modernizing bridges will improve safety and support economic growth in every corner of the Commonwealth. Today’s announcement is one more reason we were proud to support the once-in-a-generation infrastructure investment that is improving lives and livelihoods across the country.”
Beyond bridges, Sen. Warner announced another win for VA infrastructure this week, with an additional $500,000 headed to the Town of Dungannon to replace 13,840 feet of waterline so individuals and businesses have better access to clean, reliable water.
RUSSIAN SANCTIONS DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE
Sen. Warner continues to be an outspoken advocate for engaging in strict diplomatic negotiations with Russia as they continue their armed buildup around Ukraine. While some of his Senate colleagues proposed a bill that would complicate the ongoing negotiations, Sen. Warner carefully considered and voted against this ultimately failed bill, writing,
“The bill that we’re considering today is neither well-targeted nor well-timed; in the midst of serious diplomatic conversations, it takes a shot at our European allies and risks undercutting negotiations. I look forward to working with my bipartisan colleagues to continue advancing the strong support that exists for Ukraine, and backing a clear and resolute stance in opposition to Russian aggression.”
Sen. Warner has instead signed on to a bill with 25 colleagues that would offer a more targeted approach to sanctioning Russia in the case of a renewed Kremlin invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement on this bill, he wrote,
“This bill reinforces the message that the Biden administration must be conveying to Russia in face-to-face meetings this week – that accelerated aggression towards Ukraine will only strengthen U.S. assistance for our Ukrainian partners, reinvigorate NATO’s collective defense posture, and bring about devastating consequences for the Russian economy.”
VOTING RIGHTS SOLDIERS ON
As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, conversations about the legacy and future of voting rights are heating up. Sen. Warner continued to be outspoken in favor of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act this week, issuing a statement, graphics, and several tweets on the topic.
Sen. Warner has also continued to support the idea of a carve-out to the filibuster to get it done. Next week, he will vote in favor of this legislation as Sen. Schumer will likely bring it to the floor. In Sen. Warner’s words,
“As a member of the greatest deliberative body in the world, I continue to believe that we must preserve the Senate’s ability to debate contrasting viewpoints on matters of public policy. However, voting is the bedrock of our democracy and it is a right that should never be up for contention. As President Biden doubles down on his efforts to safeguard democracy from the barrage of attacks by state legislatures, Virginians can be sure that I’ll be working in the Senate to do whatever it takes to protect Americans’ access to the ballot.”
STRENGTHENING PROTECTIONS: Sen. Warner signed onto a letter with 31 colleagues calling on the administration to offer or extend Temporary Protected Status protections for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua.
HEAR YE HEAR YE: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Warner held a nomination hearing for Kenneth L. Wainstein, the nominee to be Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, he also questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, whom President Biden has nominated to serve another term atop the Central Bank, about the effects of inflation and child care on our economic growth.
FRIEND OF THE (BIG TECH) POD: Sen. Warner appeared on the Big Technology podcast to discuss why 2022 is the year Congress should finally take action and put guardrails around Big Tech.
ARP DELIVERS FOR RURAL VA: Another round of funding from the American Rescue Plan was announced Friday morning, delivering an additional $7.4 million for Virginia health providers and suppliers who serve rural Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare beneficiaries. This brings the total to $130 million for 882 providers across the Commonwealth as a result of the ARP.
This weekend, Sen. Warner will continue his travel around Virginia and attend the inauguration of governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, and (weather permitting) will participate in events on Monday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day. When the Senate readjourns on Tuesday, he expects to participate in debates on voting rights. He plans to hold a remote media availability for the press in Virginia, so stay tuned for an announcement on that.
Warner Weekly Wrap-Up: Firing on all cylinders
From volunteering to voting rights to inflation letters, Sen. Warner had another busy week. He kicked it off by traveling around NoVa for a day of action on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, before returning to DC to advocate and vote for the reauthorization of a law King championed – the Voting Rights Act. Sen. Warner also continued his push to fight inflation, announced a new round of funding from the infrastructure law, and issued statements on major Intelligence Committee issues, including Havana syndrome. He’s ending the week traveling around the Commonwealth again, making stops in Richmond and Hampton Roads.
Let’s go through it:
LIVE LIKE KING JR.
For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sen. Warner embodied Coretta Scott King’s vision of a “day on, not a day off,” and traveled to meet with and serve alongside constituents. He started off delivering Meals on Wheels with members of Alexandria’s City Council – a bit of a family tradition, as the Senator’s late dad Robert Warner volunteered with Meals on Wheels well into his nineties. Then he met with recently resettled Afghan refugees and commended the work of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, where he and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield rolled up their sleeves and got to work sorting donated goods. Finally, he wrapped up the day by speaking about the legacy of voting rights activism at the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.
Sen. Warner brought this energy back to the Capitol, where he continued the week by fighting for voting rights legislation. While the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act ultimately didn’t proceed, Sen. Warner continues to advocate for commonsense laws that protect democracy and prevent election subversion.
For months, Sen. Warner has continued to monitor and address inflation on a variety of fronts. From negotiating and passing his bipartisan legislation to ease the supply chain and restore American competitiveness in the semiconductor field, to support the nomination of Fed officials devoted to tackling inflation, he remains committed to addressing the issue.
While he trusts economic forecasts that suggest the effects will likely be temporary, Sen. Warner is still trying to do everything he can to get more solutions now. This week, he wrote a letter to National Retail Federation (the world’s largest retail trade association, representing companies like Target and Wal-Mart) inquiring about efforts to ease the supply chain and offering federal assistance to help these initiatives. He said:
“I write today concerned with the challenges posed by elevated levels of inflation in our economy. Despite the unprecedented challenges associated with reopening the nation and fighting the Delta and Omicron variants, our economy has recovered significantly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, increasing prices continue to threaten our progress. I understand that persistent supply/demand imbalances and supply chain disruptions are contributing to inflation and urge you to continue working with me, my colleagues, and the Biden Administration to identify ways to alleviate these supply chain issues as quickly as possible.”
MONEY FLOWS INTO VA PORTS
So you’ve probably heard this one before: Virginia is getting another round of major funding thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law that Sen. Warner negotiated.
This week, Sen. Warner applauded $359 million in federal funding for various key infrastructure projects around the Commonwealth, including $249 million for the City of Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project and $69 million for the Norfolk Harbor Deepening and Widening Project. These investments are part of a key effort to support resiliency across Virginia, and ensure that its ports are ready to face the evolving threat of climate change. These wins follow years of advocacy from Sen. Warner to get these projects more funding.
In a joint statement with Sen. Tim Kaine, Rep. Elaine Luria and Rep. Bobby Scott (all D-VA), Warner said,
“We applaud the Biden administration and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for recognizing the invaluable role the Port of Virginia and Norfolk Harbor have in supporting our nation’s economy. Additionally, we applaud the administration’s significant investment in the City of Norfolk to protect this community from the increasing threat of rising seas and significant flood events. After years of advocating for this funding, we are thrilled that Virginia will receive the federal dollars it needs to carry out these projects, which will help further strengthen our supply chains, mitigate the growing risks of sea-level rise, and secure our economic and national security interests in and around the region.”
As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner carefully monitors the activities of the U.S. intelligence community. This week, he issued two key statements surrounding developments in these communities, first applauding steps by President Biden’s administration to improve the cybersecurity of federal government computer systems and networks. He said,
“I applaud President Biden for signing this order to improve our nation’s cybersecurity. Among other priorities, this National Security Memorandum (NSM) requires federal agencies to report efforts to breach their systems by cybercriminals and state-sponsored hackers. Now it’s time for Congress to act by passing our bipartisan legislation that would require critical infrastructure owners and operators to report such cyber intrusions within 72 hours.”
Cybersecurity remains one of Sen. Warner’s top priorities – at the end of last week, he attended a briefing in Richmond about the cyber-attack against the General Assembly last December.
In other news in the Intelligence community, Sen. Warner offered a statement after the CIA released a report by their interim task force on anomalous health incidents (also known as AHIs or so-called “Havana syndrome,” after the location where these incidents first emerged). Since 2016, more than 1000 intelligence, diplomatic and military personnel have reported a constellation of troubling and mysterious health ailments, including brain injuries. As the leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner has been working to get to the bottom of these cases, many of which have required significant medical treatment. In October 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act into law. The new law, which Warner introduced with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and others, authorizes financial support and ensures medical care for American public servants who have suffered brain injuries.
In response to work by the CIA to identify the cause of these mysterious symptoms, which some have speculated is the result of a directed energy weapon developed by one of our nation’s adversaries, Sen. Warner said:
“While Director Burns has earned the trust of the Senate Intelligence Committee that he is taking this challenge seriously, it’s important to note that today’s assessment, while rigorously conducted, reflects only the interim work of the CIA task force. The Senate Intelligence Committee will continue pressing for answers on a bipartisan basis, and we look forward to robust engagement with the intelligence community, as well as the conclusions of the outside experts’ panel that has been assembled to seek answers to these very urgent and difficult questions.”
BROADBAND BRIEFING: Today, Sen. Warner met with the Governor’s Broadband Advisory Council to discuss the path to achieving universal broadband coverage.
WMATA GOODBYES: Sen. Warner issued a statement thanking the WMATA CEO and General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld as he announced his retirement.
SUPPORTING TRIBAL COVID RESPONSES: Sens. Warner and Kaine applauded $2 million in federal funding awarded to the Chickahominy Eastern Division and Nansemond Indian Nation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, made possible by their votes on the American Rescue Plan. This follows a visit from Sen. Warner to the Nansemond Indian Nation in April 2021.
MERGING REGULATIONS: Sen. Warner welcomed the announcement by the FTC and DOJ to update their guidelines on horizontal and vertical mergers. He also celebrated the advancement of the first major tech antitrust bill to arrive on the Senate floor, of which he is a cosponsor.
This weekend, Sen. Warner is traveling to Richmond and Hampton Roads. The Senate will be in recess next week, and Sen. Warner plans to use the time to get ahead on legislative planning for the rest of the year.
Warner seeks more information from major retailers on supply shortages & rising costs
WASHINGTON – On January 20, 2022, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) requested more information from major retailers regarding omicron-related supply chain problems and shortages that are contributing to inflation and rising costs. In a letter to the National Retail Federation – the world’s largest retail trade association, representing large retail companies like Target and Wal-Mart – Sen. Warner expressed concern with the ongoing supply chain disruptions and stressed that companies and the government must work together to tackle the problems that are leading to higher prices and directly hitting Americans’ pockets.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges associated with reopening the nation and fighting the Delta and Omicron variants, our economy has recovered significantly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, increasing prices continue to threaten our progress. I understand that persistent supply/demand imbalances and supply chain disruptions are contributing to inflation and urge you to continue working with me, my colleagues, and the Biden Administration to identify ways to alleviate these supply chain issues as quickly as possible,” Sen. Warner wrote.
He continued, “I am also continuing to advance legislation that addresses targeted supply chain issues that have shown to have sweeping impacts on our economy, including the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act which includes $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing. However, it is clear that these efforts will likely take time to bear fruit, and that more needs to be done now to help Americans facing rising prices.”
In the letter, Sen. Warner asked companies what they are doing to resolve the supply chain problems and what more the federal government can do to support those efforts. Specifically, he posed the following series of questions to better understand the steps being taken by companies to alleviate supply chain pressures and to inquire about any additional measures that Congress can take to assist with this effort:
1. Alleviating existing backlogs continues to be an immediate priority for the private sector as well as the government. Can you please explain what your companies are doing to alleviate backlogs and what challenges you are facing? Are there any constraints that lend themselves to policies that Congress should pursue?
2. How long do you see supply chain pressures lasting? Do you believe the supply chain problems we are seeing will begin to soften in 2022?
3. What more can Congress, or the federal government, do to support your efforts to clear these backlogs and strengthen our nation’s supply chains?
Obenshain: Time for Virginia to embrace public charter schools
We are one week into Session and it has been an eventful week here in Richmond. On Saturday, I was joined by my colleagues and hundreds of supporters and friends at the State Capitol to participate in the inauguration of our 74th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. We also witnessed the swearing-in of our new Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares.
I tell you what – watching these three conservative leaders and public servants take office was one of the most satisfying occurrences in recent memory. We all worked so hard this past election season to elect these three fine individuals and I am excited to get to work in partnering with them to legislate effectively.
I am proud to bring a host of bills this year to protect our liberties and advocate for efficient, limited government.
First, I am working with Governor Youngkin on a bill to help expand Virginias’ access to charter schools. It’s time for Virginia to open its arms and embrace public charter schools. Who could oppose giving more flexibility to schools and teachers and more choice for families? It’s an honor to partner with this new administration in this important effort. To read more about my Senate bill 125, click here.
I am also carrying two bills to increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections. My first bill, Senate bill 390 (click here to read it), would require the local electoral boards and general registrars to annually conduct a post-election audit of at least one-fifth of all ballot scanner machines. These measures will undoubtedly help restore confidence in our elections – a confidence that has been eroded by Democrat policies over the past few years.
The second bill had to do with voter identification. Democrats here in Virginia repealed the mandate requiring photo identification to vote. There’s no doubt this repeal undermined voter confidence in the fairness of our elections. My Senate bill 127 (click here to read it) would have reinstated the mandate to require a photo ID to vote. Unfortunately, that bill met a quick death by “PBI” (an acronym that stands for “passed by indefinitely”) in the Democrat-controlled Senate Privileges and Elections committee.
I am deeply concerned with the increase in the financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults. Preventing this exploitation has been a priority of mine for years and this year I have introduced two bills to address it. First is, Senate Bill 124 (click here to read it), which creates a new class 1 misdemeanor for someone who knowingly or intentionally abuses the power of attorney to financially exploit an incapacitated adult. Second is Senate Bill 126 (click here to read it), to expand the definition of “incapacitated adult” in the law to provide more financial protection for the elderly. I’m proud to say that both these bills are supported by our Attorney General Jason Miyares.
In addition to sponsoring legislation, I am also responsible for voting on my colleagues’ proposed bills in the committees on which I sit. These include Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Commerce and Labor, Judiciary, and Transportation. From time to time in this weekly update, I will highlight bills of note on which I voted in committee. This morning, the Judiciary Committee met for the first time.
One bill in particular worth noting from Judiciary this morning was SB 105 which effectively eliminates ALL mandatory minimum sentences from the Code of Virginia. Mandatory minimums have long since provided closure and security to victims of crimes and their families as well as Virginians as a whole. This blanket repeal will make our streets and communities less safe.
The elimination of these mandatory minimums hits close to home for those of us who have lived in the Shenandoah Valley for a few decades. It arose from the case of Daniel Lee Zirkle, who was executed in 2002 for the killing of his 4-year-old daughter and her 14-year-old half-sister (read about the murders here). Zirkle committed these heinous acts in a fit of rage, after being released from jail days after violating the terms of a protective order for the 4th time. That minimum sentence would have kept Zirkle in jail longer allowing him to cool off and may have prevented these awful deaths.
While I would consider the elimination of some mandatory minimums, this blanket repeal goes way too far. Take, for example, it repeals the sixty-day mandatory minimum sentence for the repeat violation of domestic violence protective orders. This mandatory minimum was adopted in 2009 by unanimous vote in the House and Senate and it was signed into law by then-governor Tim Kaine.
The passage of this bill out of committee this morning was lauded by liberal groups like the Progressive Prosecutors of Virginia who proclaimed it as an “excellent moment in Virginia history.” This liberal-driven approach represents a missed opportunity to review some mandatory minimums that should be reconsidered.
The one silver lining about the passage of this bill is that Republicans in the Virginia Senate are no longer the last line of defense for liberal bills like these (like we have been for two years). I’ve said for years that elections have consequences and a positive one of the 2021 elections was that we now have a Republican majority in the House of Delegates and a Republican governor in Glenn Youngkin who will have an opportunity to veto liberal bills like these.
This week, we were honored to welcome a number of individuals to our office – both in person and virtually. Some of our visitors included advocates from the Virginia Citizens Defense League and members of the Virginia Federation of the Blind. If you would like to meet with me or my office, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come by our office in the Pocahontas Building, office 502E.
I’ll continue to provide regular updates throughout the session so stay tuned!
Warner & Kaine applaud more the $2 million in Federal funding for Virginia Tribes to address COVID-19
WASHINGTON, D.C. —On Januart18, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded $2,008,250 in federal funding awarded to the Chickahominy Eastern Division and Nansemond Indian Nation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program, which was extended under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, legislation Senators Warner and Kaine voted for in March 2021. The American Rescue Plan allocated more than $31 billion to Native American communities across the country, including funding that will benefit Virginia’s federally recognized tribes.
“As the Omicron variant continues to create challenges for people across the Commonwealth, we’re glad to see that these federal dollars will provide critical relief for communities hit hard by the pandemic,” said the Senators. “This funding will help provide these tribes with services necessary to protect their health and safety.”
The funding will be awarded as follows:
· Chickahominy Eastern Division will receive $1,010,000 to rehabilitate homes to improve indoor air quality.
· Nansemond Indian Nation will receive $998,250 to expand and enhance their community center, which is used to distribute COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and food. This funding will help increase capacity for social distancing, upgrade kitchen facilities to prepare more meals for those in need, and install solar panels and battery storage to improve energy efficiency and resiliency during emergencies.
In 2017, Senators Kaine and Warner led legislation to grant federal recognition to six Virginia tribes, including the Chickahominy and Nansemond tribes. After centuries of being denied federal recognition, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act was signed into law on January 30, 2018, making it possible for these tribes to receive federal funding.
In April 2021, Senator Kaine visited Nansemond Indian Nation to hold a roundtable with tribal members to discuss the challenges that the community has faced throughout the pandemic and encourage vaccinations.
Senator Warner comments on decision by FTC & DOJ to revise merger guidelines
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission announced that they would be reviewing and updating guidelines on mergers:
“I welcome the decision by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to review and update their guidelines on both horizontal and vertical mergers. As a former technology entrepreneur, I know the incredible possibilities that can be achieved when companies bring together their resources and expertise in a merger. However, over the past few years, with the increasing concentration of power in the hands of a small group of companies, the acquisition has become the only exit strategy for most startups, as the built-in advantages are too great to overcome. I look forward to working with the DOJ and FTC to ensure that these new merger guidelines strike the right balance between fostering innovation and preventing harmful consolidation.”
Sen. Warner, a former tech entrepreneur, is a cosponsor of the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act, sweeping legislation to reinvigorate America’s antitrust laws and restore competition to American markets.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – January 17, 2022
Last week saw an attempt by Democrats to build support for an unconstitutional power grab under the guise of increasing “voting rights.” In reality, the bill would nationalize our election laws, legalize ballot harvesting, and use taxpayer dollars for political campaigns. While this bill has passed the House, the Senate will be debating and voting on the bill this week. Last week, I also wrote several letters along with my colleagues calling on President Biden to remove Education Secretary Cardona for vilifying parents, as well as demanding answers as to how our Nation is facing a testing shortage, despite more than $80 billion being appropriated by Congress to enhance testing. Finally, as the Virginia Supreme Court released the new Congressional maps following the 2020 census, I wanted to take the time below to explain what it means for Sixth District residents. Again, I’d like to thank everyone who has wished me well this week as I recovered from COVID-19, and I look forward to returning to Washington on Tuesday to serve the good people of western Virginia.
Over the past several weeks, Senate Democrats have been advocating for the abolishment of the filibuster, which dates to 1837, in order to pass two unconstitutional and far-reaching “voting rights” bills that would strip rights away from the states and nationalize elections. The Senator leading the charge, Chuck Schumer, once said that eliminating the filibuster would, “be a doomsday for Democracy.” Further, Schumer himself has voted more than 500 times throughout his career to sustain the filibuster, and in 2020 alone, the Democrats used the filibuster 327 times. Yet that hasn’t stopped him or the Democrats from now flip-flopping on their position in order to pursue a liberal agenda. This is the height of hypocrisy.
The Constitution reserves to the States the primary role in establishing, “the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.” Yet, the bill the Senate is attempting to pass would give President Biden’s Department of Justice and Federal courts the power to exert considerable control over state and local election laws. For example, one of the main provisions in the bill would give the Biden Administration authority to veto states’ voter ID laws, despite a recent survey finding that 81 percent of Americans support voter identification laws. Further, these bills would allow politicians to fill their campaign coffers with tax-payer dollars through a contribution matching scheme. For instance, based on current fundraising levels, under these bills Speaker Pelosi would receive up to $22.7 million in public dollars for her reelection campaign, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer would receive up to $44.1 million for his reelection campaign. This is unacceptable, and American tax dollars should never be used to fund political campaigns. Further, another provision in the proposal would legalize ballot harvesting, which allows third-party individuals, volunteers, or campaign workers to collect and submit completed absentee or mail-in ballots from voters. This is a dangerous concept and presents a very real opportunity for voter fraud. At their core, these two bills seek to politicize voting and push a false narrative that there is a crisis in voting rights, when in fact there was record turnout amongst all demographics in the last election. Republicans support expanding access to voting, but these pieces of legislation are nothing more than a power grab attempting to federalize elections and ensure Democratic control of Congress.
Standing With Parents:
President Biden’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, lied to the American people when he denied requesting a letter from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that compared concerned parents to “domestic terrorists” in September during an interview with “CBS Mornings,” on Wednesday. He said, “We didn’t ask for that letter. We didn’t…No. Specifically, with that letter, we had no — we didn’t request that there was no involvement in that.” However, newly revealed emails contradict that assertion and confirm that Secretary Cardona, in fact, did solicit the letter. This is in addition to previous emails that revealed the NSBA coordinated with Biden’s White House and the Department of Justice for weeks about their letter’s content before publicly sending it. These revelations show an egregious act of betrayal on the part of the Federal government toward American families. Parents deserve an Education Secretary that will fight for them and their rights, not one who actively seeks to vilify them. For these reasons, I joined my colleagues in writing to President Biden urging him to fire Secretary Cardona. The full letter can be found here.
COVID Testing Shortages:
In May of 2021, Politico reported that the Biden Administration withdrew more than $2 billion out of programs authorized by Congress, including funding to expand coronavirus testing and emergency medical supplies. These funds were diverted to cover the cost of sheltering a surge of migrants that have crossed our southern border illegally in the past year – an influx that is no doubt a result of the President’s decision to sign executive orders reversing successful Trump Administration immigration policies. Due to this Administration’s decision to prioritize illegal border crossers over the health of American citizens, there are now countless reports of millions of Americans across our Nation waiting in lines for hours to receive a COVID-19 test. These same Americans are then forced to wait days to receive their results, putting their loved ones at risk. As a result of the shortage of COVID-19 tests and a severe backlog of samples that need testing, my colleagues and I wrote to the President demanding answers as to how his Administration plans to rectify the situation. The full letter can be found here.
This week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed what Americans already know – that the prices of everyday goods have skyrocketed in the past twelve months. New data shows that the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation index, hit a 40-year high in December. The CPI rose 7% last month compared to a year ago, marking the largest annual increase since 1982. The CPI report is the latest sign that Biden’s and Democrats’ out-of-control spending is only worsening the economic crisis as Americans are now making less while paying more for just about everything. Further, on Monday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also released the December Jobs Report, which was the worst of the Biden Presidency. The United States added only 199,000 jobs in December, falling more than 200,000 short of what experts had predicted. The hits only keep coming, and the Biden Administration has made clear that they have no plan to get our economy back on track.
The Virginia Supreme Court recently released the finalized Congressional maps for the Commonwealth following the conclusion of the 2020 Census. While the majority of the Sixth District will remain the same, it now will include Frederick, Clarke, and Alleghany counties, in addition to the Cities of Winchester, Covington, and Salem. Unfortunately, though, the boundaries of the new Sixth District will no longer contain Bedford and Amherst Counties, nor the City of Lynchburg. However, please know, the new District lines will not officially go into effect until January 3, 2023. Therefore, I will still represent folks in Lynchburg, Bedford, and Amherst until the end of this year. Until January of 2023, folks in Frederick, Clarke, and Winchester should continue to contact Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, and folks in Alleghany, Covington, and Salem should continue to contact Congressman Morgan Griffith for all legislative and casework needs. While I would like to assist individuals in these areas with such matters before January of 2023, House Ethics Rules prohibit me from doing so. If you have any further questions about redistricting, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.
Mobile Office Hours:
Virginia’s Sixth District stretches more than 150 miles from Strasburg in the north to Roanoke in the south. While I have four District offices throughout our region in Harrisonburg, Staunton, Roanoke, and Lynchburg, my goal has always been to make myself and my staff as accessible as possible to folks in the Sixth District. For that reason, my staff regularly hold Mobile Office Hours throughout the District to assist residents with any issues they may have with a Federal agency, as well as hear folks’ concerns regarding legislative matters. This coming week, my staff will hold Mobile Office Hours in Lexington and Woodstock. For more information, please visit my website here.
This week in Virginia there was an average of 178.5 cases of COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents. This is up from an average of 161.7 cases from one week prior. This week’s positivity rate was 40.2%, up from 33.9% from last week. As many of you know, I was one of those who tested positive for COVID last week. I deeply appreciate the well-wishes from friends and constituents across the Sixth District. While I enjoyed working from home during my time recovering, I was disappointed to have missed the inaugural festivities in Richmond for Governor Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Governor Winsome Sears, and Attorney General Jason Miyares. Nevertheless, better to be safe than sorry when it comes to COVID. For more information, click here.
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.