Joins Gillespie and Adams in unveiling policy solutions to save lives, fight addiction, and help sufferers seek hope through recovery programs
FAIRFAX, VA – This morning, Jill Vogel, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, joined her running mates Ed Gillespie and John Adams in releasing a comprehensive plan to tackle Virginia’s epidemic of opioid abuse at a Tuesday morning roundtable listening session held with a number of stakeholders and families who have personally suffered.
Speaking with those affected, Vogel and her running mates expressed their commitment to taking the bold, swift action needed to save lives and bring this crisis under control.
“With opioid overdoses claiming more lives than car accidents, the time for action is now,” explained Jill Vogel. “Our policy approach strengthens Virginia’s commitment to preventing abuse and overdoses while unveiling new treatment and recovery programs to help those suffering from addiction get their lives back on track.”
In Virginia’s Senate, Vogel has worked on a number of bills to fight the opioid crisis. This year, her bill banning a dangerous synthetic opioid eight times stronger than heroin was signed into law, as was a bill expanding naloxone availability and training to help save lives by reversing overdoses. In 2012, legislation she worked on expanding reporting requirements for drug-exposed infants was also passed and signed into law.
In 2016, Vogel introduced the Behavioral Health Docket Act to reform the criminal justice system by helping accused nonviolent offenders suffering drug addiction or mental health issues receive treatment for the underlying condition which motivated the offense.
The bold new policy approach unveiled today begins with a recognition that arresting opioid addicts will not solve the problem, because scientific research demonstrates that addiction is a disease with a biological basis, not a moral failing.
In response, the plan calls for a focus on intervention, from implementing evidence-based addiction prevention programs in public schools, to dedicating new funding to more effective treatment programs offering a same-day response to those seeking help.
Under the plan, Virginia’s leaders will work with health insurance companies to ensure treatment services are covered, while making sure quality resources also exist for the many addicts who lack access to health care, and expanding the use of medication-assisted treatment for those who did not find success in a conventional program.
This new approach also reforms Virginia’s criminal justice system. By expanding drug courts, nonviolent offenders will have a chance to treat their underlying addiction instead of facing jail time. Other reforms allow those on probation to seek treatment through their probation officer, without fear that asking for help could lead to more charges.
“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” added Vogel. “By focusing on evidence-based prevention, treatment, and innovative diversion programs, we can save lives and help more Virginians find new beginnings through the road to recovery.”
You may read the full plan by clicking here.
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 email@example.com 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.
Warner Weekly Wrap-Up: Build bridges, not walls
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 & Kaine announce Virginia to receive $536.8 million for bridge repair
On January 14, 2022, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced the largest-ever federal investment in Virginia’s bridges, made possible by the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law negotiated by Sen. Warner and supported by Sen. Kaine. Virginia will receive $536.8 million over five years to address highway bridge needs, which include 577 bridges across the Commonwealth that are currently rated as being in “poor” condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“We’re thrilled to announce this record amount of funding to fix aging bridges across Virginia,” said the senators. “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.”
In July 2021, Sen. Warner joined Richmond officials for a tour of the Mayo Bridge, which was constructed in 1913 to cross the James River and is one of the hundreds of bridges across Virginia that are currently considered structurally deficient and expected to benefit from the investment announced.
In December 2021, Sen. Kaine joined U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in Richmond and Henrico County to discuss how the $7.7 billion in federal funds Virginia expects to receive from the infrastructure bill will be used to repair and replace roads and bridges and improve public transportation.