Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today made the statement below on the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Report on “A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election.”
“Today’s Inspector General report confirms that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received special treatment from the Obama Justice Department during its investigation of her use of a private email server. The Justice Department and FBI didn’t treat her like any other criminal suspect and didn’t follow standard investigative procedures. In fact, one of the lead investigators texted he would ‘stop’ Trump from becoming President. These actions have tarnished the reputations of our nation’s top law enforcement agencies and have undermined Americans’ confidence in their justice system. Equality under the law is a core American value. Our laws are to be administered and enforced with impartiality. But this was not the case in the Clinton investigation.
“Next week, the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees will hold a joint hearing on the Inspector General’s report. We will hear from Inspector General Horowitz on the report’s findings and have the opportunity to ask him questions about it. Further, today’s report underscores the importance of the House Judiciary Committee’s ongoing joint investigation with the House Oversight Committee into decisions made by the Justice Department and FBI in 2016. This report states that the Office of the Inspector General did not second-guess investigative or prosecutorial decisions made in the Clinton investigation. But the report also makes clear they should have.”
Details on Joint Judiciary-Oversight Hearing: On Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at 10:00 a.m., the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform will hold a joint hearing on “Oversight of the FBI and DOJ Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election.” At the hearing, Inspector General Michael Horowitz will testify before the Committees on the findings of the today’s report on Justice Department and FBI actions in advance of the 2016 presidential election. The hearing will take place in Room 210 of the House Capitol Visitor Center (HVC-210).The hearing will be webcast live at judiciary.house.gov and oversight.house.gov.
In October 2017, the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced a joint investigation into decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 and 2017. To date, the Committees have interviewed several key witnesses and reviewed thousands of documents.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – October 27, 2021
This week, as the Department of Justice and local school boards seek to stifle parents’ First Amendment rights, House Republicans are working legislatively to defend parents’ freedom of speech and their ability to act in the best interest of their school-aged children. Republicans are also taking steps to address Biden’s avoidable energy and border crises that have caused gas prices to soar and historic levels of illegal migrants to flood into our country. While I will continue to address these issues here in Washington, I had the opportunity to tour several local businesses and meet with constituents earlier in the week. As always, it is an honor to serve our region in the House, and I will continue to ensure Sixth District voices are heard in Congress.
Parental Involvement in Education:
Over the past year, schools have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, school board meetings this year have taken on a new importance, as parents express their concerns about continued virtual learning, distress about their children’s learning environment and curricula, and their opposition to the teaching of content based on fringe theories such as “CRT,” or Critical Race Theory. In response to parents packing local school board meetings, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent the Biden Administration a letter where they labeled parents who were worried about their children’s education, as “domestic terrorists.” While the NSBA has apologized for the letter, the Department of Justice used it as an excuse to take the unprecedented step of implementing, “a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.” Shockingly, the Justice Department will be investigating parents in an attempt to intimidate them as they speak up for their kids.
Parents should always be involved in their kids’ education, and threatening them with federal investigations for exercising their First Amendment rights is tyrannical and wrong. My colleagues and I have been taking action to combat this unconstitutional action. First, we have written two letters to the Attorney General expressing our grave concerns and demanding answers. Those two letters can be found here and here. I have also cosponsored two House resolutions that show support for parents and call for the protection of their First Amendment rights. Text of those resolutions can be found here and here. I will not sit idly by as Biden’s Department of Justice attempts to erode parents’ freedom of speech and their right to be involved in the educational needs of their children.
Remain in Mexico Policy:
Since day one President Biden has actively worked to open our southern border, and his efforts have created an immigration crisis of unmatched severity. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is asking officials to be prepared for the possibility of 350,000 to 400,000 more illegal border encounters in October. This would be the largest number of encounters in American history, and already, since February 1, 2021, more than 1.2 million illegal immigrants have been encountered crossing the border.
Among many actions I have taken to combat this crisis, I recently cosponsored H.R. 1259, the REMAIN in Mexico Act. This bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to implement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or the Remain in Mexico Program, in accordance with former Secretary Nielsen’s January 2019 memorandum. MPP is a program implemented by the Trump Administration that required certain aliens entering or seeking to enter the United States from Mexico to remain outside of the United States for the duration of their immigration proceedings.
Therefore, MPP essentially ended “catch and release” by requiring aliens to wait outside of the United States instead of being released into the interior of the country. President Biden has been trying to end MPP since his first day in office. However, on August 13, 2021, Judge Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas ordered DHS to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith[.]” DHS has announced that it will be restarting MPP next month, but given the Biden Administration’s track record, Congress cannot rely on them to actually implement the program in good faith, especially because they have already announced that they are planning to attempt once again to terminate MPP if Judge Kacsmaryk’s injunction is lifted.
Our Nation is facing avoidable crises on many fronts. As a result of President Biden and the Democrats’ failed leadership, Americans are dealing with a border crisis, an inflation crisis, a crime crisis, and a crisis in Afghanistan. And now, with the national average for a gallon of gas hitting $3.30 last week, a seven-year high, we are also facing an energy crisis. This is President Biden’s fault, and his anti-energy agenda has destroyed American jobs and ended America’s energy independence.
On his first day in office, the President killed 11,000 jobs by canceling the Keystone Pipeline and one of his first Executive Orders paused new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands and waters. That Executive Order alone will cost approximately one million American jobs in the near term and will decrease U.S. Gross Domestic Product by $700 billion. That same Order also puts America’s energy security at risk. To make up for the slowed production in the United States, U.S. oil imports from foreign sources will increase by 2 million barrels a day, and through 2030, we will spend $500 billion more on energy from foreign suppliers. And unfortunately, instead of making it easier for American companies to increase domestic oil and gas production and hire more U.S. workers, Biden begged OPEC and Russia to increase global output to ease rising prices.
The President has made us more reliant on dangerous adversaries overseas, rather than maintaining policies that made America a net exporter of energy. Joe Biden must reverse course and once again turn to an all-of-the-above American energy solution that ensures we are reliant on no one but ourselves.
Meeting with Constituents:
It is always a pleasure to meet with constituents both in Virginia’s Sixth District and here in DC. This week I toured Wurth Revcar Fasteners, Inc in Roanoke as well as met with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the 2021 Virginia Teacher of the Year, Anthony Swann of Vinton, in my office in Washington. To request a meeting, please visit my website.
As of October 24, 2021, Virginia has had 918,700 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 13,745. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of October 24th, 5,921,619 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 5,324,523 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.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – October 23, 2021
Last week began with the House kicking the can down the road regarding the debt ceiling for two short months as House and Senate Democrats continue to struggle to find support to pass their massive tax and spend reconciliation bill. Included in that boondoggle is a proposal to allow the IRS to have access to all private citizens’ bank transactions over $600. This is a ridiculous proposal, and I wrote to the Treasury Secretary expressing my concerns. I also wrote to the President last week expressing my dismay for his abandonment of sound energy policy for this country. Before the President took office, the United States was enjoying energy independence, but now as a result of the Biden Administration’s policy initiatives, we are now once again reliant on our adversaries overseas. With energy costs skyrocketing, this is another failure of leadership as the economic and inflation crisis gets worse. I will continue to advocate for sensible solutions to these problems and will be sure to voice the views of my constituents in Washington, which I continue to gather as I travel throughout the Sixth District.
Last Tuesday, the House was called back into session to vote on raising the debt ceiling. I voted no on this measure for several reasons. First and foremost, voting to raise the debt ceiling only encourages President Biden and Democrats to pursue their $4.3 trillion tax and spend package, which is nothing more than a wish list of Far-Left Socialist policies. Some of the most ridiculous proposals in this package include $630 billion to prop up the Green New Deal, amnesty for 8 million illegal immigrants, and a $2.1 trillion tax increase on American families and job creators. Further, this package is expected to add at least $1.75 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years.
If Democrats want to continue to spend trillions of dollars that we cannot afford, they should not expect Republicans to bail them out. Democrats could have used the reconciliation process to achieve their goal of raising the debt limit, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate. However, rather than start this process in a timely manner, they blamed Republicans and incorrectly claimed Democrats did not have the ability to act. This poor governance by Democrats is a major blunder of their own making, and therefore, House Republicans opposed raising the debt ceiling for two short months. The Left is driving us over a fiscal cliff and shows no signs of slowing down.
Invading Your Privacy:
Among many of the egregious proposals included in the Democrats’ $4.3 trillion reconciliation bill is a new policy that would mandate banks to report all transactions of private citizens over $600 to the IRS. To enforce this plan, the legislation would also provide funding to double the number of IRS agents, who would target American families and small businesses. The Federal government has no place in people’s bank accounts and the proposal is the height of government invasiveness. I recently joined my colleagues in writing a letter to the Treasury Secretary expressing our serious concerns.
Further, in 2013, we learned the IRS had been targeting conservative groups for years and to this day, not a single person involved has faced consequences. Just this year, the IRS leaked personal tax records of wealthy Americans to prove a political point and yet again, no one was charged. The last thing we should do is delegate more power to an institution that tolerates corruption and discrimination.
Since taking office, President Biden has taken several actions that have resulted in the United States no longer being energy independent, most notably perhaps was the canceling of the Keystone Pipeline. Now as gas prices soar, President Biden has asked OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), which includes countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Venezuela, to produce more oil in an effort to drive prices down – a request that was denied. My colleagues and I wrote to the President recently insisting that instead of continuing to call for increased prosperity for OPEC+ affiliated nations that seek to harm the United States, we should meet American needs with American-produced energy. Accordingly, we urged him to reverse course and embrace an American solution by rescinding Executive Orders and other policies designed by his Administration to reduce access to our country’s oil and natural gas resources, which reduces the global competitiveness of American companies and workers. The full letter can be found here.
Last week, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain quote tweeted a tweet from former President Obama’s Economic Advisor Jason Furman, which claimed that inflation and other economic problems facing Americans are “high-class problems.” This is an insulting comment to millions of hard-working Americans. Inflation is a tax on everyone, and it has gone up every single month of Joe Biden’s presidency. Instead of addressing the root cause of inflation (out-of-control government spending), Biden and House Democrats are continuing to push their multi-trillion-dollar tax and spending package, which will only add fuel to America’s skyrocketing inflation.
The Consumer Price Index rose 5.4% year over year in September, which is the fastest increase in 13 years. As a result of this, Americans are paying more for just about everything while making less because of inflation:
• Gasoline is UP 42.1%
• Propane, kerosene, and firewood are UP 27.6%
• Gas Utilities are UP 20.6%
• Bacon and related products are UP 19.3%
• Televisions are UP 12.7%
• Eggs are UP 12.6%
• Boys’ and girls’ footwear are UP 11.9%
• Electricity is UP 5.2%
• Transportation is UP 4.4%
I always enjoy the opportunity to travel throughout our region meeting with constituents and businesses. Recently, I met with the Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA in Roanoke, as well as toured manufacturing facilities in Weyers Cave and Lynchburg.
As of October 17, 2021, Virginia has had 907,882 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 13,486. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of October 17th, 5,882,459 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 5,292,282 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.
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.