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Legislative Update

Rep. Cline statement on vote to advance Articles of Impeachment to the full House

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Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) released the following statement on the House Judiciary Committee voting today to advance Articles of Impeachment to the full House of Representatives.

“It is a sad day in America, as Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have failed the American people by voting out two unproven Articles of Impeachment against the President after only 3 days of hearings and no fact witnesses. No matter how hard they try, they cannot show that the President committed high crimes or misdemeanors as required by Article 2 Section 4 of the Constitution. Instead, the evidence shows four facts that will never change: both President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky have said there was no pressure on the July 25 call, there was no conditionality of aid in the call summary, the Ukrainians were not aware that aid was withheld when the presidents spoke, and Ukraine still received aid and a meeting with President Trump without taking any action. The claim that the President abused his power has not been proven. In fact, the only abuse of power I have seen is by Speaker Pelosi and her caucus as they try to remove the duly elected President from office and overturn the will of 60 million Americans.”

“The Articles also argue that the President has obstructed Congress. The Majority suggests that because President Trump has sought judicial review regarding his claims of executive privilege involving the possible testimony of his closest advisors, he has circumvented the law and Congress. We live in a country where the Rule of Law still exists, and to claim that availing himself of the courts is the equivalent of obstruction of Congress is ridiculous.”

“This partisan impeachment circus has been flawed from the very beginning. At every turn, both Congressional Republicans and President Trump have been denied fairness and due process. While transcripts of the testimony in the Intelligence Committee were eventually made public, most Judiciary Committee members were not able to watch the hidden proceedings, question witnesses, or ensure the accuracy of the transcripts we were provided. We learned that Chairman Schiff at times ordered witnesses not to answer Republican questions, lied about his contact with the whistleblower, and surreptitiously obtained phone records of Members of Congress and the press. Hearsay, speculation, and inferences are not enough to remove a sitting President, and for all of these reasons, I could not support these partisan Articles of Impeachment.”


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Legislative Update

Drug Enforcement Administration is more than a decade overdue to finalize rules allowing doctors to prescribe controlled substances via telehealth

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today (May 3rd, 2021) urged the Biden administration to finalize regulations long-delayed by prior administrations allowing doctors to prescribe controlled substances through telehealth.

“I am very concerned that – despite repeated outreach from myself and others in Congress – the previous Administration did not take long-term action to address this issue,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Chris Evans. “I also recognize that much of this delay has been the result of previous Administrations and I hope to work with you all on a new approach that best serves patients.”

In January 2020, Warner similarly urged the Trump administration to finalize the long-awaited rules to expand the use of telehealth services but never received a response.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of increased access to telehealth services and providers across the country continue to be frustrated there is no long-term solution for them to provide adequate care to their patients,” wrote Sen. Warner. “The DEA’s failure to promulgate the rule has meant that – despite Congress’ best efforts – millions of patients could be left without access to long-term treatment via telehealth.”



While the Ryan Haight Act of 2008 prohibited the delivery, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance by means of the internet, the law also required the DEA to establish rules allowing certain providers to prescribe and treat their patients without an in-person visit. Despite that requirement, and the passage of several subsequent bipartisan laws reiterating that directive, more than ten years later, the DEA has still not finalized the regulations allowing for prescriptions to be issued following a telehealth appointment.

Sen. Warner noted in today’s letter, “In practice, the DEA’s failure to address this issue means that a vast majority of health care providers that use telehealth to prescribe controlled substances to and otherwise treat their patients have been deterred in getting them the quality care they need. These restrictions have been temporarily waived during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and I welcome that, but patients and providers need a more permanent and long-term solution to this long-delayed rulemaking.”

Sen. Warner has been a longtime advocate for increased access to health care through telehealth. Last week, he reintroduced legislation to expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to safely connect with their doctors. Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner sent a letter to Senate leadership calling for the permanent expansion of access to telehealth services. In 2018, Sen. Warner successfully included a provision to expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. In 2003, then-Gov. Warner expanded Medicaid coverage for telemedicine statewide, including evaluation and management visits, a range of individual psychotherapies, the full range of consultations, and some clinical services, including in cardiology and obstetrics. Coverage was also expanded to include non-physician providers. Among other benefits, the telehealth expansion allowed individuals in medically underserved and remote areas of Virginia to access quality specialty care that isn’t always available at home.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Attorney General Garland and Acting Administrator Evans:

I am writing to follow up on my January 2020 letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regarding implementation of critical provisions in the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (Ryan Haight Act) (Public Law 91-513) that ensure patients can successfully access medical treatment via telehealth. I am very concerned that – despite repeated outreach from myself and others in Congress – the previous Administration did not take long-term action to address this issue. I also recognize that much of this delay has been the result of previous Administrations and I hope to work with you all on a new approach that best serves patients.

As you may know – the Ryan Haight Act prohibits the sale of controlled substances without at least one in-person examination by a health care provider, but also directs the DEA to draft rules exempting certain health care providers from this prohibition. The spirit and clear intent of this law is to prevent the illicit use and sale of dangerous controlled substances online while maintaining the ability for legitimate healthcare providers to treat patients in need.

In 2018, I worked with my colleagues in Congress to further clarify this intent by passing the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) (Public Law 115-271). That legislation includes a provision I authored to enable Medicare-eligible individuals suffering from substance use disorder to be diagnosed and treated via telehealth. However, providers treating many of these patients via telehealth are often handicapped by the DEA’s delayed rulemaking and unable to use telehealth to prescribe them the medications they need.

It has now been more than 10 years since the Ryan Haight Act mandated the DEA establish a rule ensuring health care providers can successfully prescribe controlled substances via telehealth, but the DEA still has not acted. The SUPPORT Act again mandated the DEA issue rulemaking by October 2019 and more recently the Fiscal Year 2021 final appropriations report requested DEA establish these rules.

In practice, the DEA’s failure to address this issue means that a vast majority of health care providers that use telehealth to prescribe controlled substances to and otherwise treat their patients have been deterred in getting them the quality care they need. These restrictions have been temporarily waived during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and I welcome that, but patients and providers need a more permanent and long-term solution to this long-delayed rulemaking.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of increased access to telehealth services and providers across the country continue to be frustrated there is no long-term solution for them to provide adequate care to their patients. The DEA’s failure to promulgate the rule has meant that – despite Congress’ best efforts – millions of patients could be left without access to long-term treatment via telehealth.

I am requesting that DEA act as soon as possible to promulgate rulemaking on this issue. I am also requesting that, in the interim, DEA provide my office with an update on its plan and timeline to promulgate such rules. Thank you in advance for your attention to this request and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely,

 

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Legislative Update

Special Report: Biden’s First 100 Days

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Regardless of party, the American people expect Congress to act on their behalf, and I have made it a practice to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address many of the critical issues facing our Nation. Bipartisanship must be the goal in moving the country forward, and I was hopeful that following President Biden’s calls for unity in his inauguration speech he would govern in a productive and positive manner. But sadly, the President has abandoned his pledges of unity and bipartisanship and has completely ceded to the left-wing base of his party. In his first 100 days, he has created a dangerous crisis at the southern border that threatens our national and health security, refused to lead the way in reopening our schools and our businesses, gutted thousands of jobs, bailed out failed liberal states and cities with taxpayer dollars, made moves to raise taxes on American families, and proposed or spent nearly $6 trillion in an effort to fundamentally alter our economy and push our Nation further into the abyss financially. This Administration and the Democrat Party no longer think in terms of millions or billions of dollars, but rather trillions and American workers and families will soon pay the price for the runaway deficit spending we’ve seen over the past few months.

Border Crisis:
Through promises of amnesty and open borders, the Biden Administration has created an out-of-control surge of illegal immigrants and drugs along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Customs and Border Protection, there has been more than a 400 percent increase in the number of migrants apprehended in March 2021 compared to March 2020, and there has been a 233 percent increase in fentanyl seizures at the border.

President Biden refuses to take responsibility for his actions, and Vice President Harris, who has been tasked with handling this crisis, has yet to visit the southern border. This crisis is only getting worse, and with nearly 520,000 migrants have already crossed the border since January, we are on track to hit more than 2 million illegal crossings by the end of this fiscal year.

As holding facilities continue to exceed capacity, the Biden Administration has even gone so far as to sign a six-month, $86 million contract to put illegal aliens up in hotels, which is ridiculous considering our homeless veterans don’t even get this kind of treatment. Further, 40 percent of Border Patrol agents are being pulled away from their national security duties to help manage the humanitarian issues in holding facilities – meaning there is less manpower at the border. This crisis is the result of failed border policies this Administration has implemented since President Biden took office.


• Halted construction of the border wall

• Reduced immigration enforcement

• Reimplemented “Catch and Release”

• Ended “Remain in Mexico” policy

• Promised citizenship for millions causing caravans to race to the border

• Canceled asylum agreements with our Central and South American partners

Election Payback in Disguise:
We all agree that we must improve our crumbling roads and bridges, and fixing our Nation’s infrastructure should be a bipartisan issue. However, sadly, the Biden Administration has found a way to ensure that it is not. The recently proposed $2.25 trillion packages offered by the President and Speaker Pelosi fails to prioritize traditional infrastructure needs. Instead, it includes $174 billion to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, $213 billion for sustainable housing, $35 billion for climate science research, $45 billion for the EPA, $10 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps, and $27 billion for a National Green Bank.

To make matters worse, the Biden Administration plans to pass the largest tax increase in more than 30 years to help pay for it. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help revitalize our Nation’s infrastructure such as I-81. But any plan must be fiscally responsible, a true transportation bill and not climate legislation, and address the needs of rural communities like ours.

 

 

Court Packing:
The Democrat Majority has shown their willingness to fundamentally alter our National institutions simply to consolidate their power, including taking action to pack the Supreme Court. President Biden has launched a commission to study expanding the Supreme Court, and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has introduced legislation to increase the number of Justices from 9 to 13. Packing the Supreme Court simply because one party doesn’t like the current makeup or is seeking revenge for past appointments is reckless and the epitome of partisanship.

The idea of packing the court has been viewed as nonsensical even by prominent members of the Democrat Party and the High Court’s most liberal Justices. Hopefully, the House Majority and this Administration will listen to the words of those that came before them.

• When President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose portrait is prominently displayed above the fireplace in President Biden’s Oval Office, attempted to pack the Supreme Court to push his political agenda, Democrats in 1937 argued this plan should be so “emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented”.

• Then-Senator Joe Biden warned in 1983 that court-packing could “put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body…in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said: “There are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges. I think that was a bad idea…if anything would make the court appear partisan.”

Justice Steven Breyer said recently: “Structural alteration [to the Court] motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust.”

DC Statehood:
Not caring that a majority of Americans do not support DC statehood, House Democrats recently jammed through H.R. 51, which would make the District of Columbia a state and effectively add two new Democrats to the Senate. While the Founders never intended for the Capital to be a state, I recognize that every American deserves to have an equal voice in Congress. That is why I support the DC-Maryland Reunion Act, which would transfer the residential portions of DC back to Maryland, which is what had previously been done with Arlington and Virginia. This bill would give current DC residents full voting rights as new Maryland residents, avoiding any need for a 51st state.

 

Green New Deal:
Rather than continue Trump-era policies that had our Nation on track toward energy independence and allowed the U.S. to export more crude and petroleum products than we imported for the first time since 1991, the Biden Administration launched an all-out assault on this country’s energy industry through executive orders. Among his first major acts, President Biden canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline, rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, and suspended new oil and gas leasing on federal land. These moves made it clear that he plans to prioritize a Green New Deal Agenda rather than working to secure America’s energy independence and ensure our national security. These actions are a threat to millions of American jobs, which makes Biden’s approach toward energy policy all the more concerning.

Further, this Administration and Congressional Democrats have fully embraced the Green New Deal, which was recently reintroduced. If somehow the policy initiatives called for in the resolution were to be implemented, it could cost $93 trillion over the next ten years, which is more money than the Federal Government has spent combined since 1979. In the name of “climate justice,” this outrageous proposal would crush jobs, cost an average American household nearly $700,000 through 2029, provide paychecks for people unwilling to work, abolish airplanes, fossil fuels, and would require the rebuilding or retrofitting of “all existing buildings” in America. Moreover, it calls for a ban on affordable energy that heats our homes and the elimination of 99% of cars that aren’t “zero-emission vehicle[s].” The resolution is a plan that even Speaker Pelosi has called, “the green dream or whatever they call it.”

While most recognize this plan will never actually come to fruition, it highlights the belief that rather than seeking energy independence through non-government innovation and the free-market, it plans to continue looking to the government as opposed to the private sector to address our Nation’s energy needs. I am a supporter of an “all of the above” energy strategy to meet the current global energy need. Wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, natural gas, renewable nanotechnologies, and fossil fuel usage should all be encouraged, and I am optimistic that consumers will have clean, safe, and reliable choices well into the future. The Green New Deal is a distraction to the discussion of envisioning a 21st Century America that is energy independent, leading in clean energy through private sector innovation, with a prosperous free-market economy offering opportunity for all.

 

Second Amendment:
President Biden has made clear his disdain for the Second Amendment and the House Majority has, in turn, sought to restrict the constitutional rights of Americans. Two bills that the Administration has supported and the House passed this year are H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446. These bills continue the systematic and coordinated attempt by the Democrat Party to undermine our Second Amendment rights. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle claim that these bills will save lives. However, nothing in them would have stopped any of the recent mass casualty shootings that have occurred in our country. Rather than go after criminals who break the law, Democrats want to create a false narrative that will criminalize private gun ownership. Democrats will tell you that these bills close loopholes.

However, the loophole that they believe exists is that law-abiding Americans are able to own guns. The sole objective of this gun control package and other anti-firearm initiatives pushed by this Administration is to remove constitutional safeguards and put in place criminal penalties that would unjustly go after responsible gun owners. The Second Amendment is crystal clear that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to protect us from the government and gave individuals the Second Amendment to protect themselves and their families. I voted no on these two bills and will continue to defend the Second Amendment as the Administration and Speaker Pelosi continue their efforts to undermine our constitutional rights.

 

Stifling Workers’ Rights:
Since taking office, President Biden has prioritized big labor unions rather than actual workers. Recently, the Democrat-controlled House, with the Administration’s support, passed the PRO Act. This bill would more appropriately be titled the PRO Union Bosses Act because it is nothing more than a political gift to labor unions at the expense of workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers. H.R. 842 would wipe out right-to-work laws in 27 states, including here in Virginia. This bill undermines worker rights, traps employers in unrelated labor disputes, wreaks havoc on the economy, and forces Americans to join a union. No one should ever be forced to join a union simply to hold a job or be required to pay dues toward an organization that doesn’t share their values.

This country was founded on the principle that every American deserves the right to create their own success from their own hard work, but at its core, this bill strips citizens of their liberty. As our Founding Father and fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” I will continue to stand with American workers, which is why I introduced the National Right-to-Work Act with my GOP colleagues. This legislation ensures that no American is forced to join a union to keep a job by erasing automatic-dues clauses in federal statute.

Weakening Election Security:
The Constitution vests primary responsibility in state legislatures to set the “times, places, and manner” of congressional elections, allowing states and localities to determine how best to conduct elections that suit the needs of voters in their communities. However, the Biden Administration supported H.R. 1, which passed in the House in early March. This bill reverses the longstanding history of state control over the electoral process and makes unconstitutional changes to our election laws through a top-down federal power grab. Further, rather than strengthening the election process by working with Republicans to find bipartisan solutions, this bill was written without any input from Republican Members.

A few of the most ridiculous provisions embraced by President Biden included in this bill are listed below:

• Allows politicians to line their campaign coffers with taxpayer funds

• Nullifies state voter ID laws

• Mandates that states allow ballot harvesting

• Mandates same-day registration in all 50 states

• Abolishes the signature/notarization requirements for mail-in ballots

• Mandates that absentee ballots be accepted up to 10 days after Election Day

 

 

Executive Orders:
On the campaign trail, President Biden said, “You can’t [legislate] by the executive order unless you’re a dictator… We need consensus.” 100 days later President Biden — loving his dictatorial pen and forgetting the need for consensus — has smashed modern records for executive actions in his first 100 days, signing nearly double that of Presidents Trump and Obama in the same time frame. Biden’s orders include halting construction of the border wall thus opening the gates for the current border crisis, lifting the travel ban on terrorist-ravaged countries, stopping the U.S. from withdrawing from the WHO, and ruining women’s sports by allowing biological men to compete against them.

Worse yet, his orders took thousands of jobs away from hardworking Americans by canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and subjugating the U.S. to energy standards China and India won’t follow, and suspending new oil and gas leasing on federal land. This is a far cry from the “consensus” in governance Joe Biden has preached about. Having been in Washington for 50 years, President Biden should know what regular order is – we must get back to Congress doing the legislating and the Executive enforcing it.

During his inauguration speech, President Biden talked about unity and bipartisanship. His first 100 days have had little of both. Instead, his term has been hijacked by Speaker Pelosi and the Squad, leading to a far-left tax and spend government knows best policy approach that will push our country further into debt. His policy proposals will fundamentally change the role government plays in citizen’s lives from cradle to grave. The United States is headed down a slippery slope, and I will stop this degression by fighting for less government, more self-reliance, energy independence, and protecting the most innocent among – the unborn. The President has a choice – reverse course before it’s too late or preside over a Nation that is no longer the “Shining City Upon a Hill” highlighted by President Reagan.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

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Legislative Update

Warner Weekly Wrap-Up – April 23, 2021

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The Senate was in session again this week, taking up a number of bills, resolutions, and executive nominations, including that of Vanita Gupta, a fellow Virginian and President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Associate Attorney General at the Department of Justice. In case you missed it, Sen. Warner touted Gupta’s qualifications and accomplishments in a floor speech last Thursday, where he called her “an outstanding public servant” who has “spent years and years collaborating with people from across the spectrum to promote a more fair and equal justice system.”

And now, here’s your Warner Weekly Wrap-Up:

JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD
On Wednesday, after less than 12 hours of deliberation, a jury in Minnesota convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after being placed in an illegal hold during an arrest last May. And while nothing will bring George Floyd back to his loved ones, Tuesday’s verdict was one step in a long march towards justice and accountability for Mr. Floyd and his family.

Acknowledging the verdict’s importance and the need for legislative action, Sen. Warner said:




As Americans of color already know far too well, what happened to George Floyd wasn’t an isolated incident. Whether in Windsor, Virginia, or Minneapolis, Minnesota, Black Americans have long been subjected to unacceptable discrimination and brutality at the hands of those who have been tasked with protecting and serving their communities.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act takes a comprehensive legislative approach to ending police brutality and changing the culture of law enforcement by holding police accountable in court for misconduct, increasing transparency through better data collection, and improving police practices and training.

Specifically, this legislation would:

· Reform qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that as currently interpreted shields law enforcement officers from being held legally liable for violating an individual’s constitutional rights;

· Create a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problem-officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability;

· Save lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants;

· Require police to wear body cameras; and

· Limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local enforcement.

This legislation has the support of a broad coalition of civil rights organizations including Demand Progress, Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Action Network, National African American Clergy Network, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), Black Millennial Convention, and the National Urban League. It passed the House last month and currently awaits Senate action.

HATE HAS NO HOME HERE
This week, in a rejection of Anti-Asian hate and bigotry, the Senate came together to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Warner to counter the recent trend of violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

The legislation, as passed by the Senate, includes important provisions from the Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act, legislation championed by Sen. Warner to improve the reporting of hate crimes and expand assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes.

Applauding the Senate passage of the bill, Sen. Warner said:

“Across the country, domestic extremists have used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to unleash a wave of hatred and violence towards Asian Americans. Unfortunately, Virginians are painfully familiar with the toll of bigotry, which was in full display at the Unite the Right rally in 2017, where a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of peaceful protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring others. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act – which includes important provisions from the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act – will work to curtail these vicious crimes and ensure that victims have the support they need.”

This legislation would direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to designate a point person to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes. This bill would also provide support for state and local law enforcement agencies to respond to these hate crimes, and promote coordination with local and federal partners to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic.

Additionally, provisions in the bill will:

· Improve Reporting of Hate Crimes: This legislation will support the implementation of and training for the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the latest crime reporting standard, in law enforcement agencies without it. This will allow law enforcement agencies to record and report detailed information about crimes, including hate crimes, to the FBI.

· Encourage Law Enforcement Prevention, Training, and Education on Hate Crimes: This legislation will provide support to law enforcement agencies that establish a policy on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes; train officers on how to identify hate crimes; develop a system for collecting hate crimes data; establish a hate crimes unit within the agency, and engage in community relations to address hate crimes in that jurisdiction.

· Establish Hate Crime Hotlines: This legislation will provide grants for states to establish and operate hate crime hotlines, record information about hate crimes, to redirect victims and witnesses to law enforcement and local support services as needed.

· Rehabilitate Perpetrators of Hate Crimes through Education and Community Service: This legislation will allow for judges to require individuals convicted under federal hate crime laws to undergo community service or education centered on the community targeted by the crime.

As you may remember, Sen. Warner took to the floor last week to express his support for both pieces of legislation, and call attention to the surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act now heads to the House of Representatives, which will need to vote to pass the bill before it can head to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

KICKING OFF THE SEAFOOD PROCESSING SEASON
For years, Virginia’s seafood processors have struggled to find American workers willing to do the temporary, labor-intensive jobs associated with processing seafood. Thus, these rural and family-owned operations often rely on seasonal, non-immigrant workers to fill the critical labor gap and perform some of the industry’s toughest jobs like handpicking seafood meat, packing fish, and shucking oysters, clams, and crabs.

That’s why this week, Sen. Warner joined Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and his Maryland colleagues in applauding an announcement by the Biden administration that it will release an additional 22,000 H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas, which will allow Virginia’s seafood processors to hire the workforce they need for the harvesting season, which began on April 1.

Praising the decision, the Senators said:

“As the harvest season begins on the Northern Neck and the Eastern Shore, we are pleased that seafood processors will be able to hire additional seasonal workers to keep their operations up and running. These businesses – most of them small and family-owned – are essential to the coastal economies in Virginia and Maryland, and so we appreciate that the administration listened to our requests and released these additional visas, ensuring that they will have the workforce they need as the processing season kicks up.”

The H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Visa Program allows U.S. employers to hire seasonal, non-immigrant workers during peak seasons to supplement the existing American workforce. In order to be eligible for the program, employers are required to show that there are not enough U.S. workers available to do the temporary work, as is the case with the seafood industry. However, caps on H-2B visas have made it incredibly difficult for seafood processors to hire the laborers they need.

This week’s announcement releasing another 22,000 temporary worker visas follows strong advocacy by Sen. Warner and his colleagues, who previously penned a letter to the Biden administration, urging it to quickly make available the maximum number of Congressionally-authorized H-2B visas.

Sen. Warner has long advocated for Virginia’s seafood processing industry. Last February, he joined a number of his colleagues in asking the Trump administration to release additional visas. Additionally, he has introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen and reform the H-2B visa program.

GRAB BAG

ABUSIVE TAX DEDUCTIONS: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Warner joined his colleagues in urging the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to challenge any abusive tax deductions that opioid companies may take for settlements that they are paying out related to their role in fueling the opioid epidemic.

SEMICONDUCTOR PRODUCTION: Chairman Warner joined Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden requesting that he fund the initiatives to restore semiconductor manufacturing to American soil from the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act that were signed into law as part of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act.

RETIREMENT SAVING PLANS: Sen. Warner joined Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in introducing the SIMPLE Plan Modernization Act to provide greater flexibility and access to small businesses and their employees seeking to utilize the popular SIMPLE plans as an option for saving for retirement.

SUPPORTIVE MEASURES: Sen. Warner joined Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and a bicameral group of lawmakers in sending a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), requesting that the agency include measures to better support the involvement of residential and small commercial energy consumers as it works to establish the Office of Public Participation (OPP).

FEDERAL FUNDING: Sen. Warner joined Sen. Kaine in announcing that the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) will receive $6,505,200 in federal funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help individuals with transportation needs get to state-run Community Vaccination Centers.

WEEK AHEAD
The Senate will be in session again next week before breaking for May recess. Sen. Warner is expected to participate in a number of virtual meetings, including with the Virginia Association of Community Banks.

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Legislative Update

$6.5 million in Federal funds to support transportation to community vaccination centers announced

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U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) will receive $6,505,200 in federal funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deliver individuals that have transportation needs to state-run Community Vaccination Centers.

“We’re glad to see these federal dollars go towards helping Virginians who have transportation needs get vaccinated,” said the Senators. “As Virginians 16 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, we remain committed to expanding opportunities so that all eligible students, workers, and residents can get their shots as soon as possible.”

Sens. Warner and Kaine strongly supported the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan, which included $7.5 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and public health departments to expand vaccine distribution and administration, and several billion dollars in additional funding for local community health centers and medical personnel to assist in administering vaccines.

 

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – April 18, 2021

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Following a productive District Work Period where I met with constituents and toured a number of businesses, the House gaveled back into session on Tuesday. I continue to monitor the crisis on our southern border and in a subcommittee hearing this week, I questioned HHS Secretary Becerra about the Administration’s lack of a plan to address the worsening crisis. Additionally, the Majority introduced a reckless bill to add four Justices to the Supreme Court, which should be of grave concern to all Americans. However, in a moment of bipartisanship, fellow members of the Problem Solvers Caucus and I wrote to House Leadership urging an end to the practice of going around congressional rules to pass legislation. Further, the House passed a number of bipartisan bills to aid small businesses that are struggling. While it was a busy week, I always appreciate the opportunity to advocate for those I am honored to represent here in Washington.

Trivium Packaging:
Trivium Packaging has facilities all over the world, including a manufacturing plant in Roanoke, which employs 125 area residents. This company delivers innovative and sustainable metal packaging to help leading brands protect their products and stand out. And since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Trivium has been essential in ensuring our shelves remain stocked by supplying packaging to America’s food and beverage industries. This week, before my return to Washington, I enjoyed the opportunity to tour the plant and see their innovative work firsthand, as well as hear from management and staff about how Congress can help them continue to grow.

Disorder at the Border:
This week, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released new data regarding the crisis at our border. Last month alone, more than 170,000 migrants illegally crossed our border, which is a 400 percent increase from March of last year and a 71 percent increase from February. This now means more than 350,000 migrants have tried to cross the border in 2021. Further, there is double the record number of unaccompanied minors in custody, which currently stands at 20,000+ between CBP and HHS holding facilities. To make matters worse, the President’s $1.52 trillion budget proposal includes a zero percent funding increase for the Department of Homeland Security to help CBP do their jobs effectively. Finally, the President has tasked Vice-President Harris as the de facto “Border Czar,” yet she has yet to visit our border to see the crisis firsthand. This Administration must address this worsening humanitarian and economic crisis.

Protecting Life:
A baby born alive, even after an attempted abortion, should be afforded the same constitutional protections as every other American. That’s why, this week, I joined my GOP colleagues in signing a discharge petition to force a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This legislation would require health care practitioners who are present at the live birth of a child following a failed abortion to exercise skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the baby—the same degree of care that would be offered to any other child born prematurely of the same gestational age. After those efforts, the health care workers must transport and admit the child to a hospital. Further, it requires health care practitioners and hospital employees to report violations to law enforcement authorities, thus reducing the number of born-alive abortions that go unreported. It also penalizes the intentional killing of a born-alive child by a physician through fines or up to 5 years imprisonment. Protecting living and breathing babies outside the womb should not be a partisan issue. However, since Speaker Pelosi has refused to call this bill for a vote, I am hopeful that the discharge petition will garner the 218 signatures necessary to trigger an immediate vote on the House Floor.



Regular Order:
With narrow majorities in the House and Senate, we need bipartisan support and solutions to get bills passed in both houses and ultimately signed into law by the President. The best way to do this is by having a deliberative and open process that promotes transparency and allows members to help shape legislation through committee hearings, markups, and Floor amendments. Unfortunately, with a majority of only six seats, Speaker Pelosi has been rushing bills to the Floor, bypassing committees, and limiting amendments. This is not how the legislative process should work, and I recently joined my colleagues in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in writing to House leadership urging a return to regular order. Doing so will make for a higher functioning representative government that truly works for the American people. To read the letter, click here.

Court Packing:
This week, President Biden launched a commission to study expanding the Supreme Court and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler introduced legislation to increase the number of Justices from 9 to 13. This is ridiculous and packing the Supreme Court simply because one party doesn’t like the current makeup or is seeking revenge for past appointments is as reckless as it gets. This would set a wildly dangerous precedent and be detrimental to the American Justice System. Democrats are showing their willingness to dismantle our institutions simply to consolidate power. Throughout modern history, the idea of packing the court has been viewed as nonsensical even by prominent members of the Democrat Party and the High Court’s most liberal Justices. Hopefully, the House Majority will listen to the words of those that came before them.

• When President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose portrait is prominently displayed above the fireplace in President Biden’s Oval Office, attempted to pack the Supreme Court to push his political agenda, Democrats in 1937 argued this plan should be so “emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented”.

• Then-Senator Joe Biden warned in 1983 that court-packing could “put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body…in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

• Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said: “There are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges. I think that was a bad idea…if anything would make the court appear partisan.”

• Justice Steven Breyer said recently: “Structural alteration [to the Court] motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust.”

Fighting for Small Businesses:
This week, I was pleased that the House considered a number of pieces of legislation to aid small businesses. Far too many mom and pop shops have been forced to close their doors this past year, and Congress continues to work to assist those in need. I am hopeful that the legislation listed below, all of which I voted in favor of and passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, will serve as lifelines to the small business community and help them keep their doors open as many still face hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

• H.R. 1502 – Microloan Improvement Act of 2021 – H.R. 1502 builds on the strengths of the Microloan Program by introducing flexibility and more features for small dollar borrowers to utilize as they move through the Microloan lending process.

• H.R. 1487 – Microloan Transparency and Accountability Act of 2021 H.R 1487 requires the SBA to perform an annual portfolio risk analysis of the Microloan Program to examine defaults and charge-off rates to ensure taxpayer money is safeguarded.

• H.R. 1490 – 504 Modernization and Small Manufacturer Enhancement Act of 2021 – H.R. 1490 modernizes the 504/CDC (Certified Development Company) Loan Program and enhances how the program assists small manufacturers by increasing the loan amount and resource availability. The legislation also streamlines the complicated 504 Loan Program closing process for small businesses.

• H.R. 1482 – 504 Credit Risk Management Improvement Act of 2021 – The 504 Credit Risk Management Improvement Act strengthens the oversight capabilities of the SBA as it pertains to the 504 Loan Program.

Congressional Art Competition:
This week, my office announced its participation in the 2021 Congressional Art Competition. The Congressional Art Competition is sponsored by the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and is an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent in the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia. The competition is open to all high school students in the District and the winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol alongside other pieces from across the country. For more information including rules, deadlines, and submission requirements, visit my website here. Emily McClung of Lexington was the Sixth District’s 2020 winner, and her painting “Lemonade,” featured below, currently hangs in the U.S. Capitol.

COVID-19 Update:
As of April 17, 2021, Virginia has had 644,828 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 10,564. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of April 17th, 3,345,853 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 2,059,882 people are fully vaccinated.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

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Legislative Update

US Senator Mark Warner gives area update on American Rescue Plan

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Following a multi-day swing through the Shenandoah Valley and Roanoke Valley, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) held a remote media availability to discuss what he heard from business owners, community leaders, and health experts regarding the American Rescue Plan and the much-needed support it will provide to end the COVID-19 economic and health crisis.

Signed into law last month, the American Rescue Plan includes robust funding to boost vaccination efforts, financial aid for struggling Virginia businesses, assistance for state and local governments, funding for broadband infrastructure expansion, and more.


How Virginia benefits under the American Rescue Plan

 

 

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Upcoming Events

May
9
Sun
2:00 pm Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Mother’s Day Weekend Paint Party... @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
May 9 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Mother's Day Weekend Paint Party - Daisies @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Bring Mom to The Studio for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special. Buy two tickets and save! This will be a lovely piece to add to your collections… and so much fun to paint. Join us[...]
May
13
Thu
6:30 pm Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
Law Enforcement Officers Memoria... @ Front Royal Gazebo
May 13 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service @ Front Royal Gazebo
Please join Warren County/Front Royal Back the Blue, in partnership with the Fraternal Order of Police and Front Royal/Warren County Lodge #33, during National Police Week as we honor our local Law Enforcement Officers who[...]
May
14
Fri
12:00 pm Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
May 14 @ 12:00 pm
Millionaire Maker Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Join us for the 2021 Millionaire Maker held at award-winning Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club. The Millionaire Maker is a combined golfing and networking experience! Serious, amateur, and novice golfers are welcome. *Four golfers who[...]
May
15
Sat
7:30 am Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf ... @ Bowling Green Country Club South
May 15 @ 7:30 am – 3:00 pm
Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament @ Bowling Green Country Club South
Please join us for the Captain’s Choice/Best Ball Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Linden Volunteer Fire Department. The event will be held Saturday, May 15, 2021, at Bowling Green Country Club South (768 Bowling[...]
10:00 am Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
May 15 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Fort Loudoun Day: Living History @ Historic Fort Loudoun Site
Bring the family and enjoy a fun day learning about the history of the French & Indian War era at the site of Colonel George Washington’s headquarters for the Virginia Regiment. Meet living history interpreters[...]
11:00 am National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 15 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Children’s Discovery Area: This National Kids to Parks Day, join us for fun-filled activities and music at our interactive discovery stations. Kids, pick up a scavenger hunt brochure and hike on the Track Trail. Just[...]
May
16
Sun
9:00 am Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
May 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Virginia Psychic Fair @ Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge
Psychic Fair for both those who are serious and for those who are just curious. Event can be a life changing experience or just a fun time! Many of the best psychics, mediums, healers, and[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 16 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive construction to[...]
May
19
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12:00 pm Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
May 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Tap into Your CEO Power @ Online Event
Many business owners struggled with the consequences of COVID-19 in 2020. Now, more than a year later, many of those same business owners have turned chaos into creativity finding new opportunities for growth. The Fauquier[...]
May
22
Sat
10:00 am Backcountry Basics: Earth Connec... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Backcountry Basics: Earth Connec... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Backcountry Basics: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Carriage Barn in Historic Area. Connect with the park’s landscape and get a taste of the skills you need to thrive in the backcountry. Participants will join experienced outdoor skills instructor Tim[...]