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Legislative Update

President signs bill designating National George C. Marshall Museum and Library

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Tuesday (March 13) which would designate the George C. Marshall Museum and Research Library in Lexington, Virginia, as the National George C. Marshall Museum and Library. The facility is located at the Virginia Military Institute.

Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) introduced H.Con.Res. 14 on Tuesday, February 5. Language identical to Cline’s legislation to designate the national museum was included in a package of bills signed by the president this week.

Marshall served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1939-1945, Secretary of State from 1947-1949, and Secretary of Defense from 1950-1951. He is largely credited with formulating the Allied victory in Europe and the subsequent Marshall Plan to rebuild the continent after World War II.

“In Virginia, we remember George C. Marshall as a remarkable leader and public servant as well as a graduate of one of the country’s most storied military schools,” Cline said. “His contributions to world history are unparalleled, which is why designation as the National George C. Marshall Museum and Library on the post of VMI will bring a renewed interest in Marshall’s work and life for a new generation.”

“The designation as the National George C. Marshall Museum and Library recognizes our organization, with its vast collections of artifacts and records from Marshall’s career, as the ultimate authority on Marshall’s life and times, thereby encouraging those who wish to learn more about Marshall and his impact on world affairs to visit us and access our considerable resources. Simply stated, it further promotes our fundamental mission to ensure that General Marshall remains in the public consciousness and inspires future leaders,” said Russell Fletcher, Marshall Foundation Chairman of the Board and Acting President.

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Legislative Update

Congressman Ben Cline issues statement on H.R. 748 – the CARES Act

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WASHINGTON – Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) released the below statement following the House passage of H.R. 748 – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“Our Nation is facing a historic crisis. In the last month, COVID-19 has infected over 85,000 Americans, more than any other nation on Earth. Over 1200 of our fellow Americans have perished, and we are making every effort to stop the virus from taking from us thousands more of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. The first Virginian was infected only three weeks ago, and since then we have seen life as we know it across our Commonwealth come to a screeching halt.”

“The crisis created by this virus is twofold. It is first and foremost a health crisis, made worse by the stealth with which the virus spreads. Often those infected feel no symptoms and unsuspectingly pass the virus on to weaker and more vulnerable targets. And it takes advantage of the very characteristics that make us a great Nation, preying on our love of freedom, our love of social interaction, and our love of community. As the government has sought to eliminate the virus, it has urged practices that contradict many of these characteristics that make America great. Who would’ve thought that in America we would be advised not to gather in groups, eat out at a restaurant, or attend a graduation program, music concert, or church service?”

“The second crisis created by COVID-19 is economic, and the combination of the virus itself and the actions taken to fight the virus has brought our economy to its knees. As lock-downs are announced and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people enforced, the impact of our economy has been pronounced. The stock market has lost a third of its value, main streets across America are empty, and sporting events and other celebrations have been canceled. Just this week, it was announced that over 3 million people filed for unemployment last week, shattering the old record of 665,000 in March 2009. We cannot lose sight of the need to beat the virus on both the health front and the economic front.”

“With the passage of the CARES Act, Congress has acted to address both the health crisis and the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19, providing resources to hospitals and health care workers while supporting American workers and small businesses through this challenging time. While I did not agree with all of the provisions, I was pleased the Senate rejected Speaker Pelosi’s progressive wish list and proud to vote in favor of this legislation. It provides much-needed assistance to Sixth District residents and businesses and gives our hospitals and health care providers the best fighting chance to contain COVID-19 and rid it from our Nation.”

 

To read a more detailed summary of the bill, please click here.

For more information regarding the coronavirus, please visit cdc.gov, vdh.virginia.gov, or cline.house.gov/COVID-19.

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Legislative Update

Kaine releases statement on Senate passage of Coronavirus Economic Relief Package

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Senator Tim Kaine. File Photo by Gage Skidmore

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate approved a bipartisan coronavirus (COVID-19) economic relief package. The legislation includes Kaine’s priorities to provide direct payments to Americans, protect small businesses, expand access to child care, provide much-needed assistance to state and local governments, strengthen our health care system, ensure that funding for larger businesses is used to protect their employees, fund improvements to the nation’s public health data systems, help manufacturers affected by this crisis, expand unemployment assistance, put a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, support schools, strengthen America’s medical supply chain, increase nonprofit funding for maternal health, and increase funding for community action agencies.

“I’m so proud that Senate Democrats stood together and made sure that the bill we passed today will backstop the American economy by protecting workers and their families. Compared to the partisan proposal that the GOP hoped to jam through, this bill is far better for working people and the small businesses that make up the heart of our economy. It makes sure that funds to large businesses cannot be used to raise executive pay or for stock buybacks and guarantees transparency so that all Americans can know immediately who is receiving help. Finally, it is a Marshall Plan for the American health care system as it deals with a pandemic.

“These gains for regular Americans and our health care system would not have occurred had Democrats just gone along with the GOP proposal. There was enormous pressure to simply vote on a bill and be done, but we stayed on task until we got the details right.

“We now have to make sure the three bills we have passed in recent weeks are implemented promptly and fairly. And we need to keep our eye on our number one priority: getting through this health crisis by following science-based guidance. We lost 6-8 weeks at the front end of this pandemic due to the President choosing to downplay the threat of COVID-19 even as other nations like South Korea and Australia were ramping up testing and production of critical medical supplies. We cannot waste any more time on foolishly denying the scope of the problem.

“For America to get back to work, and for Americans to get past their natural fears and anxieties, we have to be smart from this point forward as we battle this virus. All people have a role to play in this by practicing social distancing to protect one another. I have confidence that Virginians and all Americans will meet this challenge.”

The following Kaine priorities were included in the package:

Direct payments to Americans: The legislation includes direct cash payments to all low- and middle-income Americans: $1,200 per single filer and $2,400 for joint filers, with an additional $500 per minor dependent. Kaine and his Democratic colleagues successfully called for cash relief that does not leave out America’s most vulnerable families, while the initial Republican proposal provided insufficient relief for these households.

Small business funding: The legislation provides nearly $350 billion in funding for forgivable small business loans. Funding will be provided through local banks and can be used to cover payroll, rent, mortgage interest, utilities, and other expenses. The portion that is forgiven will be scaled related to how many workers the business retains through the crisis.

Expand access to child care: The legislation includes Senator Kaine’s proposal with Senator Todd Young to increase funding, flexibility, and eligibility for the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to help ensure health care providers and other essential workers have access to child care during the pandemic.

State and local coronavirus relief fund: The legislation includes a $150 billion fund to support state, local, and tribal area efforts to address COVID-19. Funding will be provided directly to states, counties, and tribal areas.

Historic investment in the health care system: Democrats fought for and secured a $150 billion Marshall Plan for the health care system to support hospitals and other health care providers impacted by COVID-19 with necessary personal protective equipment, testing supplies, infrastructure, and more.

Guardrails for large business assistance: Democrats were able to secure additional guardrails on loans made to larger businesses, including restrictions on stock buybacks and protections that will lead to more workers being maintained on the payroll. Additionally, funding provided under this section will be subject to strict transparency and accountability requirements, including the establishment of a new Inspector General to oversee distribution, usage, and repayment of funds.

Data modernization: The legislation includes $500 million for public health data modernization, which Sen. Kaine has long championed. Last year, he introduced with Senators Isakson and King the Saving Lives Through Better Data Act, bipartisan legislation to modernize public health data infrastructure so clinicians, state health departments, and the CDC can work together more quickly and seamlessly to identify and respond to health threats like the coronavirus.

Help for American manufacturers: The legislation includes key provisions of bipartisan legislation Kaine introduced with Senator Chris Coons to help Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers, including the Commonwealth’s MEP affiliate Virginia GENEDGE, stay open during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. MEP centers provide critical resources for small and medium manufacturers.

Expand unemployment assistance: The legislation includes key provisions of legislation Kaine cosponsored to provide federally-funded unemployment assistance to those affected by the coronavirus. Under the agreement, unemployment insurance would be provided to workers impacted by the coronavirus, including gig workers and freelancers.

Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures: The legislation implements temporary moratoriums on eviction and foreclosure proceedings. Single- and multi-family property owners in mortgages backed by federal agencies will be given the option for forbearance – allowing them to defer payments and add to the end of the loan. Renters in buildings covered by the Fair Housing Act or backed by federal funding will be protected against evictions for 120 days. Last week, Senator Kaine urged Senate leaders to place a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and defaults for families and businesses during this national emergency.

Support for schools: The legislation provides $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions. Last week, Kaine joined Senator Casey in urging Senator leaders to address concerns he has heard from Virginia institutions of higher education like providing stable housing and issues accessing technology needed for online learning.

Strengthen America’s supply chain: The legislation includes elements of the Strengthening America’s Supply Chain and National Security Act, bipartisan legislation Kaine introduced with Senator Rubio to combat vulnerabilities in America’s pharmaceutical supply chain.

Increase nonprofit funding for maternal health: The legislation includes Kaine’s bill to smooth pension funding for March of Dimes, based in Arlington, Virginia, allowing the organization to boost its public health work at this critical time.

Increase funding for community action agencies: The legislation includes $1 billion for Community Service Block Grants (CSBG) to support local community-based organizations providing social services and emergency assistance to those most in need. Last week, Kaine joined Senator Collins in calling for appropriators to include robust funding for CSBG to help address on-the-ground challenges that communities are facing.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – March 22, 2020

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Coronavirus Update.

As the coronavirus continues to dominate the news cycles, I want to take a moment to ensure that you have all the latest updates about the virus and information about how to protect yourself during this evolving situation.

Across our Nation, there is a great deal of fear and confusion regarding this virus, and that is why I have been working hard both from the District and Washington, DC to ensure Sixth District residents are informed.

First, I have created a new page on my website that provides the latest updates and resources from the CDC and across the Federal Government. I’ve also been sharing a great deal of information you may find useful on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Further, I have continued to pass on information gathered from numerous conference calls I participate in each day, including calls with the Administration, Governor’s Office, state and federal health officials, and my colleagues in the House and Senate.

Additionally, I am looking forward to hearing from constituents during my coronavirus telephone town hall this coming Tuesday at 2:00 pm. If you would like to sign up for this event, please click here. The contact information for each of my offices can be found at the bottom of this page. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or require assistance.

I’ve also been out and about in the community hearing from local businesses about how this situation has impacted them. I have assured them that there are resources available to help their business get through this difficult time.

 

Rep. Cline supports a local Roanoke restaurant by ordering takeout. Click to watch report from Channel 13 News.

 

In addition to keeping constituents informed, my colleagues and I in Congress, in conjunction with federal, state, and local officials, have been working to curb the virus from spreading to more of our Nation’s citizens. As demonstrated below, our goal is to “flatten the curve.” That is, we should slow the spread of COVID-19 so that as more cases arise, our healthcare system has time to adapt to meet demand, and medical professionals and scientists have time to develop vaccines and cures.

 

On March 4, I voted for and Congress passed $8.3 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for our public health agencies, which the President subsequently signed into law. New funding of $7.8 billion will be used to address this public health crisis, while $500 million will be used to replenish reserve funds that have been depleted over the past several weeks.

Additionally, this emergency funding invests over four billion dollars to make diagnostic kits more available. It allocates nearly one billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exclusively for state and local response efforts. And it allows for billions in low-interest loans to small businesses, limiting the economic impact of the disease.

Further, Congress most recently passed a second bill mandating paid leave for employees of some small businesses, appropriating additional funds for state unemployment and Medicaid programs, and providing for free coronavirus testing. While there were several provisions in the second coronavirus bill with which I agree, I could not support the flawed and rushed process by which it was considered.

Currently, Congress is working on the third piece of coronavirus legislation that would make direct payments to certain individuals, provide assistance to small businesses, and supports some of our largest transportation and financial entities to help them remain solvent. It is expected that the Senate will pass the bill early next week, and I look forward to reviewing the legislation when it is sent over to the House for consideration.

Finally, in addition to these pieces of legislation, I have signed onto several letters to House Leadership and various Administration officials urging them to support policies that help combat this crisis and keep our Nation financially strong. Among them are letters promoting telemedicine in rural communities, ensuring our farms have the needed workforce to provide an adequate food supply and urging Speaker Pelosi to keep the House in session to effectively manage this crisis.

The Administration has taken a government-wide approach and initiated a $50 billion economic assistance package to support small businesses and workers harmed by the outbreak, as well as expanding loans to businesses, deferring tax payments for certain businesses and individuals negatively impacted, and calling on Congress to pass payroll tax relief.

On March 13, the President declared a State of Emergency, thus allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to exercise the authority under the National Emergencies Act to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the public health emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

To protect the health of Americans, the Administration is bringing together government and private industry in a collaborative process to expand testing capacity and access to pharmaceuticals, general-use face masks, therapeutics, and vaccines.

Further, testing is now available in every state lab in the country, and commercial labs are now deploying tests to localities, which will help generate a dramatic increase in availability.

This week, the Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Medicare will now temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries across the entire country.

In an effort to better understand and fight COVID-19, I have included two resources that provide valuable information that you may find beneficial from the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. While the CDC is working toward vaccines and cures, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from infection:

Graphic released by the CDC on March 16, 2020. For more information, please visit coronavirus.gov.

 

By taking these simple steps in your day-to-day life, you are helping “flatten the curve.”

As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” If you experience symptoms or have been to an area where coronavirus is spreading, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.

Rest assured, I will continue to monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country and will work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this insidious and deadly virus.
CDC Resources:

How to Protect Yourself

Symptoms and Testing

If You Are at Higher Risk

If You Are Sick

Frequently Asked Questions

• Follow @CDCgov on Twitter

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.

For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

 

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Legislative Update

Warner Weekly Wrap-up: Hunkering Down

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This week, the Senate passed a second bipartisan coronavirus relief package, focused on helping people feeling the economic consequences of the outbreak. Negotiations on a third, larger economic relief bill are currently ongoing.

Here’s your Warner Weekly Wrap-up:

“PHASE II”

That’s what they’re calling the initial bipartisan coronavirus economic relief package Congress passed on Wednesday. Among other provisions, this legislation:

• Guarantees testing for coronavirus will be free
• Expands unemployment insurance and reduces barriers for workers applying for UI
• Extends paid sick leave to some workers if they seek treatment for coronavirus, quarantine, or care for a family member with the virus
• Provides payroll tax credits to companies offering paid sick leave to their employees for coronavirus treatment
• Expands nutrition assistance for low-income families
• Provides additional funding for state Medicaid programs dealing with the coronavirus

Sens. Warner and Kaine, who both voted in favor of the legislation, issued a joint statement following the vote, saying:

“This legislation is a critical step forward to support workers and families impacted by the coronavirus. We’re pleased the bill includes our priorities to guarantee free coronavirus testing and establish paid sick leave for some American workers. This is one of many steps we must take to confront this pandemic. We will keep fighting for the resources Virginia needs to defend against this virus and help our economy recover from its consequences.”

“PHASE III”

The next step for Congress is what’s being called Phase III of the coronavirus response. Negotiations for this even larger economic stimulus and public health legislation are ongoing, and Sen. Warner is working around the clock to ensure that it contains provisions that will help Virginians who are struggling due to the coronavirus outbreak. Sen. Warner outlined two of his top priorities explicitly this week:

First, he is especially focused on disaster unemployment insurance for workers who have fallen through the cracks of our social safety net. As he stated in a video update to his constituents today, his priority is to expand unemployment insurance to cover furloughed workers, hourly workers, gig workers, and others who are missing paychecks but have not formally been laid off.

Click to listen to update.

Second, Sen. Warner is working to ensure small and mid-sized businesses have sufficient cash flow to stay open during the coronavirus outbreak. In a statement this week, he proposed an emergency lending facility to provide credit to small and mid-sized businesses. His statement reads, in part:

“…We have to get cash flow back to our small and mid-sized businesses so that they can remain open, retain their employees, and survive through this public health emergency. Nearly 18 million people are employed in industries whose revenues are severely curtailed and are vulnerable to layoffs. Many businesses, particularly small and mid-sized firms, are running down their cash and credit lines. As we see more areas enforce tighter social distancing restrictions, this problem is only set to get worse.

“I am proposing that we immediately set up a small and mid-sized business liquidity facility, jointly run by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, to provide companies affected by the virus with federally-guaranteed loans at low rates throughout the crisis. The loans would be delivered through local financial institutions and backed by up to $1T in federal financing. A few important elements of this proposal include:

– Simple terms and underwriting requirements in order to quickly deliver cash flow to these businesses;
– Protections to ensure that any company taking a loan is required to retain a large portion of its workforce; and
– Some specific mechanisms to avoid any moral hazard and hold financial institutions accountable.

“If we do not take action immediately, thousands of American businesses and millions of their employees are at enormous risk. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming days to provide them the assistance they need to weather the current crisis.”

As Yahoo Finance noted this week, Sen. Warner’s proposal, “…would include some protection that would require a borrower to commit to keeping their employees on the payroll. Warner said he is also considering additional measures that may restrict executive compensation.”

Sen. Warner, a notorious worker of the phones since his days as Governor, has been actively engaging with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, working to ensure Virginia’s priorities are represented in the next phase of coronavirus legislation. Stay tuned.

HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

While Sen. Warner continues to push for this larger emergency liquidity facility, some emergency capital just became available to Virginia small businesses. On Thursday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a statewide economic injury disaster loan declaration.

This declaration unlocks emergency long-term, low-interest loans for small businesses for up to $2 million to help cover operating costs during the coronavirus outbreak.

Sen. Warner applauded the announcement and quickly began spreading the word for eligible businesses.

Small business owners in need of assistance should first read this SBA fact sheet, then apply online using the SBA website.

ADDITIONAL CORONAVIRUS ACTIONS

Here is a list of additional steps Sen. Warner has taken this week to assist Virginians impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak:

• TELEHEALTH: Sen. Warner applauded the announcement that Medicare would begin paying clinicians across the country for telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries during the coronavirus outbreak. This decision was enabled by passage earlier this month of provisions from Sen. Warner’s bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act of 2019, as part of the initial $8.3 billion coronavirus response package.

• VIRGINIA VETERANS: In letters sent today, Sens. Warner and Kaine urged four Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers to expend every effort to ensure that veterans and the health providers who care for them are safe amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In letters to the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, the Salem VA Medical Center, the Hampton VA Medical Center, and the Washington DC VA Medical Center, the Senators asked for more information on each facility’s efforts to address the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the health of VA employees.

• NO CAPS: Sen. Warner applauded announcements by several major internet service providers that they would adopt practices to better accommodate the use of remote technologies that students, workers, and public health officials will rely upon during the coronavirus outbreak.

• DAYCARE: Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, urging the agency to issue clear guidance for child care providers to determine whether these centers should remain open amid the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak.

• AMERICANS ABROAD: Sen. Warner urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to provide State Department guidance and assistance to Americans stuck abroad after heightened travel restrictions, lockdowns, and border closures across the globe to curb the spread of coronavirus have left U.S. citizens stranded in foreign countries indefinitely.

• POWER BILLS: This week, Sens. Warner and Kaine urged the body that regulates public utilities including electricity, natural gas, and water in Virginia to promptly issue an order suspending the charging of late fees through the duration of Virginia’s state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

• FEDERAL WORKERS: Sen. Warner led seven of his Senate colleagues in a letter calling on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to post department and agency contingency plans amid the COVID-19 outbreak so that Americans know what services to expect as more federal agencies begin to ramp up teleworking capabilities to mitigate the spread of the virus.

• DoD GUIDANCE: On Friday, Sen. Warner pushed the Department of Defense (DoD) to issue guidance for uniformed, civilian, and contractor personnel to help them better understand their options for paid leave and telework amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

• UNEMPLOYMENT: Following the passage of the bipartisan coronavirus economic relief package that day, Sen. Warner led a letter urging state governors and workforce administrators to implement its provisions easing restrictions on emergency unemployment benefits.

• NURSING HOMES & DISABILITIES: Sens. Warner and Kaine joined more than 30 of their Democratic colleagues to press the Coronavirus Task Force on their preparedness and response plans for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

• AD SCAMS: Sens. Warner and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, expressing deep concern that Google – despite claiming to ban ads that capitalize on novel coronavirus fears – continues to run ads for products such as face masks and hand sanitizer.

• HOSPITALITY & TOURISM: The Virginia and Maryland Senators sent a letter to the financial regulators asking them to take action to mitigate the adverse impacts of the coronavirus on workers in the hospitality and tourism industry.

• RURAL RESPONSE: In light of the unique challenges facing rural communities, Sen. Warner sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to enable thousands of federal civil servants, who have experience with rapid emergency response, to assist rural communities that are increasingly overwhelmed by the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

• TELEWORK FOR FEDS: Following a mixed message from the administration to federal workers and contractors, Sen. Warner joined 24 of his colleagues in urging the President to immediately issue an executive order directing agencies to maximize the use of telework.

(NON-CORONAVIRUS) GRAB BAG

• EASTERN DISTRICT: Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending U.S. Magistrate Judge Roderick C. Young and U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.

• DREAMERS: Sen. Warner joined a group of 36 Senators and 87 Representatives in pressing the Trump Administration on reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is preparing mass deportations of Dreamers, young immigrants who grew up in the United States and know no other home.

• GW PARKWAY: Last Friday, Sen. Warner led a bicameral letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the National Park Service’s grant application for $102 million in federal funds to reconstruct nearly eight miles of the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

WEEK AHEAD

Social distancing. The Senate is expected to vote on a third coronavirus relief package in the coming days.

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Legislative Update

Keeping you informed – COVID-19 Update

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As the coronavirus persists in dominating the news cycles, I want to take a moment to ensure that you have all the latest updates about the virus and information about how to protect yourself during this evolving situation.

I recognize that there is a great deal of fear and confusion regarding this virus, and a pandemic such as this certainly warrants unease. Although coronaviruses are not new, they usually infect animals and rarely infect humans as this new strain has.

Since the outbreak, Congress and the federal government, in conjunction with state and local officials, have taken numerous steps to curb the virus from spreading to more of our Nation’s citizens. As demonstrated below, our goal is to “flatten the curve.” That is, we should slow the spread of COVID-19 so that as more cases arise, our healthcare system has time to adapt to meet demand, and medical professionals and scientists have time to develop vaccines and cures.

 

On March 4, I voted for and Congress passed $8.3 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for our public health agencies, which the President subsequently signed into law. New funding of $7.8 billion will be used to address this public health crisis, while $500 million will be used to replenish reserve funds that have been depleted over the past several weeks.

Additionally, this emergency funding invests over four billion dollars to make diagnostic kits more available. It allocates nearly one billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exclusively for state and local response efforts. And it allows for billions in low-interest loans to small businesses, limiting the economic impact of the disease.

 

Last week, the Administration also took several steps aimed at protecting the health and well-being of the American people. First, the President is putting forth a $50 billion economic assistance package to support small businesses and workers harmed by the outbreak, as well as expanding loans to businesses, deferring tax payments for certain businesses and individuals negatively impacted, and calling on Congress to pass payroll tax relief.

On March 13, the President declared the State of Emergency, thus allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to exercise the authority under the National Emergencies Act to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the public health emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

To protect the health of Americans, the Administration is bringing together government and private industry in a collaborative process to expand testing capacity and access to pharmaceuticals, general-use face masks, therapeutics, and vaccines.

Further, testing is now available in every state lab in the country, and commercial labs are now deploying tests to localities, which will help generate a dramatic increase in availability.

This week, the Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Medicare will now temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries across the entire country.

In an effort to better understand and fight COVID-19, I have included two resources that provide valuable information that you may find beneficial from the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. While the CDC is working toward vaccines and cures, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from infection:

Graphic released by the CDC on March 16, 2020. For more information, please visit coronavirus.gov.

 

By taking these simple steps in your day-to-day life, you are helping “flatten the curve.”

As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” If you experience symptoms or have been to an area where coronavirus is spreading, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.

Rest assured, I will continue to monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country and will work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this insidious and deadly virus.

Sincerely,

 

 

Ben Cline
Member of Congress

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Legislative Update

Legislative update from State Senator Mark Obenshain: Yes, We Are Still Open…

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My Senate office is open and fielding calls to assist our businesses and citizens about the Coronavirus and other matters pertaining to state government. The following is information on several of the issues we are most frequently asked about. If you have questions about any of these issues or about available government resources or if we may be of any other help, please call my office at 540-437-1451or email me at mark@markobenshain.com.

Public Health
The Virginia Department of Health’s website has lots of resources about the virus, the extent of the outbreak across Virginia and materials for how each of us can best help prevent the spread as individuals and members of various organizations.

Electricity, Water, and Gas
The State Corporation Commission issued an order directing utilities it regulates, such as electric, natural gas, and water companies in Virginia, to suspend service disconnections for 60 days to provide immediate relief for any customer, residential or business.

Support for Impacted Workers
The Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission will waive the one-week waiting period to ensure workers can receive benefits as soon as possible. Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. If a worker has been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official and is not receiving paid sick or medical leave from their employer, they may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. In addition, a worker may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they must stay home to care for an ill family member and are not receiving paid family medical leave from their employer. For individuals receiving unemployment insurance, the Virginia Employment Commission will give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.

Support for Impacted Employers
Regional workforce teams will be activated to support employers that slow or cease operations. Employers who do slow or cease operations will not be financially penalized for an increase in workers requesting unemployment benefits.

The Governor is authorizing rapid response funding, through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, for employers eligible to remain open during this emergency. Funds may be used to clean facilities and support emergency needs.

Department of Motor Vehicles
All of Virginia’s 75 DMV offices, as well as mobile units, are closed to the public. Online services will remain available, and anyone needing to renew a license or vehicle registration is encouraged to do so online. For those who cannot renew online, or whose license or registration expires before May 15, DMV will grant a 60-day extension.

State Courts
The Supreme Court of Virginia granted a judicial emergency until Monday, April 6. All non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings in all district and circuit courts are suspended absent a specific exemption.

SBA Loans
It’s our understanding that the Governor is in the process of applying with the Small Business Association at the federal level so that our small businesses here in the Commonwealth may be eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans. We will share more information about this as we receive it. The SBA has some very informative information about these loan programs, what the funds can be used for, and the current interest rates at their site here.

Jails and Prisons
The Department of Corrections has canceled offender visitation at all facilities until further notice. Off-site video visitation is still available. A dedicated COVID-19 public information line with an updated, recorded message is operational. The phone number is (804) 887-8484. DOC has implemented a screening protocol for offenders coming into state facilities from local jails. Virginia provided detailed guidance to correctional facilities and other work locations regarding approved hand washing, sanitizing, and disinfectant products, and instructions for the proper use of those products to provide protection from COVID-19.

Thank you to everyone who is doing their part to help their fellow Virginians!

Best,

 

 

Mark Obenshain

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Upcoming Events

Mar
28
Sat
9:00 am TechPilots Camp @ Randolph-Macon Academy
TechPilots Camp @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Mar 28 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
TechPilots Camp @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Randolph-Macon Academy will host “TechPilots Camp” on Saturday, March 28th. This one-day immersion experience is for students in grades six through nine. They will explore the fields of drones, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), computer-aided design,[...]
10:00 am Crochet Market Bag @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Market Bag @ Strokes of Creativity
Mar 28 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Crochet Market Bag @ Strokes of Creativity
Advanced beginner class | If you are comfortable with some basic crochet stitches and are ready to move on, join us and learn how to make a pretty and useful, reusable market bag. Note: Instruction[...]
12:30 pm Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Mar 28 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop Do you have a crochet project you need a little help with? Already bought the supplies, but need help reading the pattern? All skill levels are invited to this Bring Your Own Project[...]
2:00 pm Mystery in the Library @ Samuels Public Library
Mystery in the Library @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mystery in the Library @ Samuels Public Library
A well-known historical character has disappeared from the library. Favorite book characters who were there at the time are all suspect. Teens are invited to dress up as popular book characters, and enjoy snacks as[...]
Mar
31
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 31 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
1
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 1 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
2
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 2 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 2 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
3
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]