Connect with us

Legislative Update

Senator Warner has made a list and checked it twice, tallying up some of his wins for Virginia in 2019.

Published

on

Warner’s press office released this end of year wrap up:

On Thursday, Congress gaveled out for the year after a whirlwind week of last-minute legislating. Specifically, Congress passed critical end-of-year funding bills to keep the government open for another year, as well as the annual defense bill. Contained in these bills are a number of Senator Warner’s top priorities for Virginia, including protections for military families in privatized housing, a pay raise for the troops, a pay raise and paid family leave for federal workers, and legislation preserving coal miners’ pensions and healthcare, among many others.

You can read about all the Virginia priorities included in the annual defense bill (known as NDAA) here and all of the Virginia priorities included in the annual government funding (or “appropriations”) legislation here.

This has been a busy year for Senator Warner, so as we head into the holiday season, Senator Warner has made a list and checked it twice, tallying up some of his wins for Virginia in 2019.


FOR VETERANS & MILITARY FAMILIES

Military Housing: As part of the annual defense bill, Sen. Warner secured passage of major portions of the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act, a bill to address hazardous living conditions in privatized military housing throughout the United States, including service members and their families living in homes with persistent mold blooms, water leaks and rodent and insect infestations. The NDAA also includes provisions establishing a tenants’ bill of rights for military families.

Fixed an Unfair Tax on Gold Star Families: As part of the annual appropriations package passed this week, Congress passed Warner-sponsored legislation correcting one of the many unintended consequences of the 2017 GOP tax bill that treats military and VA survivor benefits as trusts or estates, subjecting the benefits of many military families to a much higher tax rate. The Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act will fix this error by treating any military and VA survivor benefits as earned income, rather than at the trust or parent tax rate.

Repealed the Military Widows Tax: This week, Congress passed the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act, as part of the NDAA. This Warner-sponsored bill will repeal the unfair law that prevents as many as 67,000 surviving military spouses nationwide from receiving their full Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs survivor benefits.

Pay Raise for our Troops: As part of the NDAA, Sen. Warner helped secure a 3.1% pay raise for all military servicemembers beginning in 2020.

Doing Right by Vietnam Vets: In June, the President signed into law the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, a Warner-sponsored bill that ended the exclusion from VA benefits for Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to toxic herbacide Agent Orange while serving aboard US Navy ships. Later, as part of the annual appropriations legislation, Sen. Warner voted in favor of $153.6 million to fund the VA’s implementation of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. That funding package also includes language requiring the VA to report to Congress within 30 days 1) the reason for the two-year delay in expanding the presumptive list; 2) a cost estimate for adding new diseases; and 3) the date the VA plans to implement a decision.

Cut Red Tape to Improve VA Healthcare: In August, Sen. Warner secured approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget of lease prospectuses for new VA outpatient clinics in Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg. In September, he secured sign-off from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. These final moves are the culmination of a years-long effort led by Sen. Warner to address bureaucratic barriers to these new veterans clinics. Having cleared the final hurdles, the federal government is now accepting bids for the construction of the new facilities.

FOR OUR NATIONAL SECURITY

Funding for Virginia’s Shipbuilding Industry: The NDAA authorizes $23.9 billion dollars for shipbuilding, part of which will fund construction for two Virginia-class submarines and an aircraft carrier. As part of the NDAA, Sen. Warner also voted to fund the Navy’s block procurement of 9 Virginia-class submarines, 5 of which will be launched from Newport News. Sen. Warner has long advocated for block-buy efforts to save taxpayer money and provide stability for the Navy’s capabilities and Virginia’s shipbuilding industry.

USS Truman: The NDAA also authorizes funding for the mid-life refueling of the USS Truman, stationed out of Naval Station Norfolk.

F-22 program relocation to Norfolk: Following efforts by Sen. Warner and the Virginia delegation, the Air Force announced plans to permanently relocate an F-22 Raptor training squadron from Florida to Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

Passed the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA): As Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner spends hours each week cloistered away in a secure hearing room, performing oversight over the 17 government entities and numerous cleared private contractors comprising the U.S. intelligence community (many of which are headquartered in Virginia.) In addition to its oversight responsibilities, one task required of the Senate Intelligence Committee is to pass the annual Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA). This week, Congress passed the legislation as part of the annual NDAA bill. You can read about all of the specific, unclassified highlights of that bill here. Sen. Warner is particularly proud to have authored a provision providing 12 weeks of paid parental leave to intelligence personnel, including adoptive and foster parents, matching what many private sector companies are already providing.

Reducing the Security Clearance Backlog: Sen. Warner has been relentless in pushing the Pentagon, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to reduce the wait times for national security workers and contractors to receive security clearances, successfully pushing to get the security clearance backlog cut by more than half over the course of the year. The IAA also includes legislation authored by Sen. Warner to modernize the antiquated security clearance process, return the background investigation inventory that once stood at 725,000 cases to a healthy, stable level, and bring greater accountability to the system.

Bipartisan Senate Reports on Russia’s Intervention in 2016: As part of its oversight investigation into the intelligence community’s response to the 2016 Russian election interference campaign, the Senate Intelligence Committee released two reports, the first on Russia’s efforts against U.S. election infrastructure, and the second on Russia’s use of social media in the 2016 election.

Funding to Secure Our Elections: Sen. Warner helped secure $675 million in additional funding to help states and localities improve the security of their election infrastructure. However, as Sen. Warner has repeatedly and strenuously noted, additional funding is not a substitute for passing the multiple bipartisan election security and anti-misinformation bills that Senate GOP leadership has been blocking all year.

Standing with Hong Kong: President Trump recently signed into law Warner-backed legislation to defend the rights of the people of Hong Kong at a time when Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms are under assault by interference from the Chinese government and Communist Party, and to impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

FOR FEDERAL WORKERS

Passed Paid Family Leave for Federal Workers: Federal workers will soon be eligible for 12 weeks paid parental leave, thanks to a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Congress passed this week. Until now, new parents have had to tap into sick leave, vacation time, and unpaid leave in order to care for a child. This provision builds on language Sen. Warner was able to secure in the Intelligence Authorization Act providing 12 weeks of paid leave to new parents in the intelligence community.

Pay Raise for Federal Workers: As part of the end-of-year appropriations bill, Congress approved a 3.1% pay raise for federal workers, which Sen. Warner had formally requested earlier this year.

Preventing the Elimination of OPM: The defense bill passed this week prevents the Trump Administration from merging the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the General Services Administration (GSA) without first providing Congress and the public transparency on the rationale behind the move, backed by sound, independent analysis of the potential costs and benefits. This mirrors an effort pushed by Sen. Warner to prevent the federal workforce from being subjected to continued political attacks and increased political interference by the Trump Administration.

Shutdown Back Pay: In January, the President signed Warner-sponsored legislation providing back pay to federal workers affected by the 35-day government shutdown.

Relief for Relocated Federal Workers: As part of the NDAA, Congress passed the bipartisan Relocation Expense Parity Act, a bill Sen. Warner sponsored that will provide financial relief to certain civilian federal employees who have to relocate for work. The bill will ensure that all federal employees who qualify to have their moving costs reimbursed by the government are also repaid for the taxes owed on relocation reimbursements.

MAJOR WINS FOR NOVA

Transportation Funding: The appropriations package approved this week provides $1 billion for competitive transportation grants through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, formerly known as “TIGER” grants. Virginia has previously used these grants for projects including I-95 Express Lanes, I-564 connector from Norfolk International Terminals at the Port of Virginia, I-64 Delta Frames Bridges in Rockbridge County, the Pulse bus-rapid transit system in Richmond, and Northstar Boulevard in Loudoun County near Dulles.

WMATA $$$: The spending bill also included the full federal funding of $150 million for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) capital improvements. In May, Sen. Warner introduced legislation to renew the federal funding commitment to Metro, provide critical safety reforms, and strengthen oversight of WMATA.

Leesburg Airport: It also includes $7 million for the Federal Aviation Administration to continue its remote tower systems pilot program at smaller airports, including the Remote Tower Center partnership between Leesburg Executive Airport and Saab Technologies, as well as similar remote tower pilot projects being developed around the country.

WMATA Safety: When it was reported that a state-owned Chinese company was a likely frontrunner for the contract to manufacture the new 8000 series rail cars, Sen. Warner successfully pressured WMATA to add additional cybersecurity requirements to the procurement process, in order to reduce the risks that Metro could be vulnerable to hacking or cyberespionage.

CENTRAL VIRGINIA:

Honoring Captain Kahn: In April, legislation sponsored by Sen. Warner was implemented, renaming a Charlottesville Post office in honor of the late U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Richmond Airport: As part of the end-of-year spending package, Sen. Warner secured an additional $734,314 to reimburse Richmond International Airport for baggage screening equipment purchased after 9/11.

COASTAL VIRGINIA:

Honoring a Virginia Beach Hero: In August, the President signed Warner-sponsored legislation into law renaming a Virginia Beach post office after Ryan “Keith” Cox, a longtime public utilities employee who sacrificed his own life to save others during the shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

Virginia Beach Strong: In December, Congress sent Sen. Warner’s Virginia Beach Strong Act to the President’s desk, where it awaits signature into law. The bill will make technical fixes to the tax code allowing contributions to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund to be tax-deductible.

Supporting NASA Wallops: Sen. Warner wrote and passed into law legislation to boost aeronautics industry innovation, research and development, and supported successful legislation to reimburse the Town of Chincoteague for the purchase and installation of new production wells to replace contaminated wells located on NASA Wallops Flight Facility property.

… & SWVA:

Passed the Bipartisan Miners Act: Following years of efforts by Sen. Warner to safeguard benefits for mine workers and secure pensions for our nation’s retired miners, Congress passed the Warner-sponsored Bipartisan American Miners Act as part of the end-of-year appropriations bill. The legislation would shore up the 1974 United Mine Workers of America Pension Plan – which is currently headed for insolvency due to coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis – protecting pension benefits for 92,000 miners, and healthcare benefits for 13,000 miners, including 800 retirees in Virginia affected by the 2018 bankruptcy of Westmoreland Coal Co.

Caring for Miners with Black Lung Disease: The annual appropriations bill also extends an expired funding source for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund through 2020, shoring up the stability of this fund established in 1978 to treat coal miners affected by black lung disease. Sen. Warner helped spearhead a Senate effort to restore funding for the Fund after the tax that supports it expired at the end of 2018.

Saved the Flatwoods Job Corps: Sen. Warner helped lead an effort to protect the Flatwoods Job Corps facility in Coeburn, Virginia. In May 2019, USDA and DOL announced they were terminating an interagency agreement that provided for the operation of the Civilian Conservation Center program within the Forest Service. As part of the reorganization, DOL announced plans to close nine of the 25 CCCs operated in eight states, including the Flatwoods center in Coeburn, Virginia. The proposed closures were expected to lead to the loss of nearly 1,100 Forest Service jobs. Under pressure from Sen. Warner and others, the Trump Administration later reversed course, saving a facility that employs ~70 individuals and can accommodate up to 180 students.

Record Funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission: Sen. Warner secured $175 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an increase of $10 million over fiscal year 2019. In April, Sen. Warner led a Senate appropriations letter in support of increased ARC funding. Last fiscal year, ARC supported 32 projects in Virginia totaling $8.2 million in federal investment, matched by nearly $20.5 million in state, local, and private investments. This funding will help create and retain 950 jobs in the region.

Lee County Hospital: In October, after a six-year bipartisan effort spearheaded by Sens. Warner and Kaine, Rep. Morgan Griffith, and local officials, the Lee County Hospital reopened its urgent care center, six years after the hospital closed in 2013, leaving the county without access to a nearby hospital. It is expected to be fully reopened next year. Sen. Warner is also the lead sponsor of legislation to benefit hospitals in medically underserved areas like Lee County, where patients are more likely to be uninsured and hospitals have struggled to stay afloat financially. The States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2019 would allow states like Virginia that expanded Medicaid after 2014 to receive the same level of federal matching funds as states that expanded earlier, and according to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, it would save Virginia’s hospitals an estimated $300 million per year in the first three years of implementation.

Funding for SWVA Forest Farming: Sen. Warner was successful in securing nearly $600,000 in federal funding for Appalachian Sustainable Development/Virginia Tech to continue and expand their Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition. This funding will be used to increase membership and improve opportunities and capabilities among forest farmers in Central Appalachia. This grant is essential for the program to continue its operations for the next three years.

Money for Unmanned Systems: Sen. Warner has been a longtime champion of unmanned systems research, believing the new industry could be a game-changer for Virginia. He personally lobbied Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao to secure $15 million in federal grant money for the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) in Blacksburg, and helped include $24 million in the end-of-year spending package for continued research at sites like the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP).

FOR VIRGINIA’S DIVERSE COMMUNITIES

African-American History Commission Funding: As part of the end-of-year appropriations bill, Sen. Warner helped secure $3 million in funding for the 400 Years of African-American History Commission, which was established by legislation Sen. Warner passed with Rep. Bobby Scott and Sen. Kaine in 2017.

Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal: In November, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Sens. Warner and  Kaine to award four African-American women scientists the Congressional Gold Medal for their work at NASA Langley was signed into law by President Trump.

Passed the FUTURE Act: Yesterday, the President signed into law the bipartisan FUTURE Act, legislation Sen. Warner supported that permanently restored $255 million in annual funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) that expired on September 30. Virginia is home to five HBCUs – Virginia Union University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Hampton University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg – that last year received more than $4 million in funding through the program.

Money for Historically Black Colleges and Universities: In addition, the appropriations bill includes another $93 million to support HBCUs and MSIs, providing money for HBCUs in Virginia to make campus improvements and strengthen financial management, academic resources and endowment-building capacity.

Saved Historic HBCU Sites: With Sen. Warner’s support, Congress renewed the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grant Program, a public lands program that supports the preservation of sites on HBCU campuses that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Last year, Virginia Union, Hampton University, Virginia State, and Virginia University of Lynchburg received grants totaling $2.27 million under the HBCU grant program.

TPS for El Salvador: After the Trump Administration announced plans to end the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) designation that allows nearly 200,000 Salvadorans to live and work in the U.S., Sen. Warner successfully urged the Administration to reverse course and extend the TPS designation for El Salvador, allowing 21,500 Salvadorans to continue working, living and thriving in Virginia.

Reversing Foreign Aid Cuts to Northern Triangle countries: Following an outcry by Sen. Warner and other lawmakers, the Trump Administration reversed plans to block aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras (together commonly referred to as the Northern Triangle countries). Sen. Warner has also introduced legislation to tackle the root causes of the migrant crisis forcing many women, children and families from those countries to seek refuge in the U.S.

Ensuring an Accurate Census: Sen. Warner successfully pushed back on the Trump Administration’s attempts to add a politically-motivated question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

Virginia Tribes: As part of the appropriations package, Sen. Warner secured $1.281 million for the New Tribes program, an increase of $161,000 over last year. In 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Kaine successfully passed legislation granting federal recognition to six Virginia tribes.

FOR VIRGINIA FARMERS AND PRODUCERS

Reversing the Chinese Ban on U.S. Poultry: In November, the Chinese government announced that it was lifting its import ban on U.S. poultry products that had been in place since 2015. Opening up the China market has been a top Warner priority since the ban was announced. The Virginia poultry industry has estimated that the lifting of the ban could boost the Commonwealth’s poultry exports by over $20 million a year.

Industrial Hemp Crop Insurance: Following the 2018 passage of Warner-sponsored legislation legalizing industrial hemp, Sen. Warner successfully led an effort to include Virginia in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop insurance pilot program. Crop insurance is often critical for farmers to guard against unforeseen disasters. Drafts of this pilot program initially did not include Virginia, potentially giving growers in other states an unfair advantage in the new market. Following a bipartisan effort to persuade Agrilogic, the private company selected by USDA to run the pilot program, Virginia was included.

FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC LANDS

Record levels of Chesapeake Bay Funding: Sen. Warner – in coordination with other Chesapeake Bay delegation members – was able to secure $85 million for EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, record funding for the program. The Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts throughout the region, and the majority of its funds are passed through to the states and local communities for on-the-ground restoration. The Chesapeake Bay Program is managed by the EPA through the Chesapeake Bay program office. In his initial budget requests, the President proposed slashing Chesapeake Bay funding to just $5 million.

Permanently Renewed LWCF: Sen. Warner supported a successful effort to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which protects and preserves Virginia’s public lands.

Passed the Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act: Sen. Warner was able to secure passage of the Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act in the Natural Resources Management Act (S.47). This legislation allows Good Samaritans, or eligible search and recovery operations, expedited access to certain public lands so that they may conduct searches for missing persons. Sen. Warner’s involvement in this issue was prompted by the experience of Jodi Goldberg of Alexandria, whose brother, Keith, was killed and whose body was left at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area near Las Vegas, Nevada in 2012. His family worked for 10 months to get the permits and secure a one million-dollar liability insurance policy required by the National Park Service before it would allow a trained volunteer search and recovery team to search for his body in the national park.

Passed 9/11 National Memorial Trail Resolution: Sen. Warner with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) secured Senate passage of the 9/11 National Memorial Trail resolution. This resolution highlights the significance of the September 11th National Memorial Trail – a 1,300-mile network of roads and paths that connect the Pentagon Memorial (Arlington, Va.), the Flight 93 National Memorial (Shanksville, Pa.), the National September 11th Memorial and Museum (New York City, N.Y.), and the 9/11 Memorial Garden of Reflection (Yardley, Pa.). The NMT also passes through parts of Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

FOR FAMILIES, WORKERS AND CONSUMERS

Ashanti Alert Act Implementation Funding: President Trump signed into law Sen. Warner’s bill to establish a nationwide alert system for missing adults at the end of last year, but the Department of Justice has been too slow to get the Ashanti Alert up and running. As part of his efforts to pressure DOJ to start saving lives with this system, Sen. Warner secured language in the end-of-year spending bill requiring the Department of Justice to provide Congress with a progress report of the Ashanti Alert implementation within 30 days. Additionally, the legislation requires that the DOJ establish a firm deadline for full implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act no later than 90 days after the funding bill is signed into law. The law is named after Ashanti Billie, the 19-year-old who was abducted in Norfolk, Va. on September 18, 2017, and whose body was discovered in North Carolina 11 days after she was first reported missing.

Ending Annoying Robocalls: On Thursday, Congress sent President Trump a Warner-backed bill cracking down on illegal robocall scams, setting the bill up to become law in the coming days. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases civil forfeiture penalties for those who are caught, requires service providers to adopt call authentication and blocking, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally break laws.

Saving Money on Health Care: Congress signed off on Sen. Warner’s bill to reauthorize the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the independent nonprofit corporation established under the Affordable Care Act to save Americans money on their health care costs and help patients better understand their diagnostic and treatment options.

Researching the Causes of Gun Violence: For the first time in 20 years, Congress signed off this week on $25 million to support scientific studies on gun violence, which kills more than 1,000 Virginians annually. Sen. Warner introduced legislation earlier this year to fund firearms safety and gun violence prevention research at the at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Investing in Workers: For years, Sen. Warner has been calling for companies to do a better job investing in their workforce. After Sen. Warner weighed in, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently proposed modernizing the reporting and disclosure of human capital management practices, which will allow investors to see whether a company is making the appropriate investments in its workforce.

Beach Safety: Sen. Warner successfully encouraged the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to launch a public awareness campaign about the dangers of improperly secured beach umbrellas, after a woman was killed in Virginia Beach in 2016 when she was struck in the torso by an airborne beach umbrella.

Export-Import Bank: As part of the appropriations package, the Export-Import Bank was reauthorized for seven years through 2026. Last year, the Ex-Im Bank supported $51 million in Virginia exports.

Brand USA: Sen. Warner sponsored legislation, which was included in the appropriations package, to reauthorize the Brand USA Program through 2027. Brand USA is a highly effective public-private promotion program which drives important foreign tourism to the Commonwealth. Last year, 1.1 million international tourists spent $2 billion visiting Virginia.

Law Enforcement: Sen. Warner helped secure $547.2 million for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, the leading source of federal justice funding for state and local jurisdictions, supporting a range of law enforcement and courts programs. Sen. Warner also helped secure $235 million for the COPS Hiring Program, placing 1,300 more police officers on the streets of our communities.

CASEWORK – BY THE #’S

One of Sen. Warner’s most integral duties is assisting constituents with federal services, like Social Security, Medicare, veterans or military affairs, taxes, passports, and immigration issues. Each year, Sen. Warner’s office assists thousands of Virginians in navigating the federal bureaucracy. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Number of Casework Letters Sent – 13,723

Cases Closed – 2,259

Agency Funds Recouped to Virginians: Nearly $7 million from the IRS, VA, Social Security Administration, and other agencies

Just a couple of highlights from a busy year in casework:

Homecoming: Sen. Warner’s office assisted former UVA Women’s Basketball Coach Joanne Boyle with an immigration issue that had prevented her from bringing her adopted daughter home from Senegal. You can read more about her daughter’s story at ESPN.com.

Approved: After 21-month-old Daryn Sullivan was denied access to a life-changing gene therapy by her insurance company because of its cost, Sen. Warner’s office worked her family to get that decision reversed. You can read more in the Washington Post.

Sen. Warner also helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grant money for projects all over Virginia: whether it’s major bucks ($50 million to Virginia Commonwealth University to research the long-term impacts of mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions on service members and veterans … $60 million to expand access to affordable housing in Norfolk and Newport News) or smaller amounts ($400,000 to the University of Virginia to expand telemedicine treatment in underserved parts of Virginia), every federal $ makes a BIG difference at home.

Share the News:

Legislative Update

US Senator Mark Warner gives area update on American Rescue Plan

Published

on

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

 

 

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – April 3, 2021

Published

on

This week we mourn the loss of Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans, who was killed during an attempted breach of the Capitol Building Complex with a vehicle. Those who protect the institution of Congress do so selflessly and provide security and safety to Members of Congress, their staff, and the community. Elizabeth and I offer our condolences to the Evans family and continue to pray for a second officer who was injured. We extend our thanks to the entire Capitol Police Force for their continued service to our Nation.

Signed Into Law:
In 2019, I introduced and had signed into law the Small Business Reorganization Act, which simplified the process for entrepreneurs to use bankruptcy as a means of reorganization instead of closing down. Under this bill, businesses with less than $2.7 million of debt could file for bankruptcy in a timelier and more cost-effective manner. While in bankruptcy reorganization, a small business can negotiate with creditors while keeping the doors open, employees on the payroll, and suppliers and vendors paid. In 2020, a provision in the CARES Act raised the $2.7 million threshold in my initial bill to $7.5 million. While this provision was set to expire on March 27, 2021, Judiciary Chairman Nadler and I introduced the COVID–19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act of 2021, which extends this provision, and thus the $7.5 million threshold, for an additional year. I was pleased that on March 27 the President signed this bill into law, meaning significantly more businesses struggling from the pandemic can take advantage of this bill. Having this legislation signed into law is a great example of how both parties can put partisanship aside and work to find realistic solutions to benefit the American people.

Deficit Spending:
Unfortunately, as we’ve come to know, not all legislation in Congress is bipartisan. While improving our Nation’s infrastructure should be, the Biden Administration has proposed a massive $3 trillion package that fails to prioritize our crumbling roads, bridges, ports, and rail systems. 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 fair for rural communities like ours.


Connecting with Constituents:

Before the Coronavirus pandemic began, I promised to hold in-person town halls throughout the Sixth District. In fact, since being elected, I have hosted 25 in-person town halls – with at least one being held in each locality throughout our region. I hope to continue those sorts of in-person forums in the near future but, for now, as restrictions on public gatherings remain in place, virtual town halls remain one of the best and safest options to connect directly with constituents to ensure their voices are heard in Washington. While my first seven telephone town halls were District-wide, I’ve begun hosting regional forums, which allow me to focus on the unique issues facing each of our individual communities. This week, I was pleased to host my ninth telephone town hall for residents of Roanoke City and Roanoke County. I look forward to holding similar events like this throughout the District in the future.


Vaccine Clinic:
Frontline workers across the Sixth District have been working tirelessly to administer COVID-19 vaccines to those who choose to get it since December of last year. One of the largest vaccination sites in the area is hosted by the Roanoke City Alleghany Health District and Carilion Clinic at the Berglund Center in Roanoke. On Wednesdays, the site vaccinates around 3,500 people and upwards of 1,500 individuals on Thursdays. This week, I was pleased to tour the facility and take time to thank those working there. Their efforts are paying off, and on Wednesday, the clinic celebrated the vaccination of more than 100,000 people. As someone who has chosen to receive the vaccine, I am grateful to these dedicated folks for all their hard work.


Chris’s Coffee & Custard:

Beth and Alan Woodrum of Roanoke are the proud parents of three boys – their youngest of whom, Chris, has Down Syndrome. Amazing folks like Chris with a disability oftentimes struggle to find employment – not because they are incapable of doing the job, but because many aren’t willing to give them a chance. As of 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 17.9 percent of people with a disability were employed. To help bridge this gap, the Woodrum family recently opened Chris’s Coffee & Custard in Roanoke. This tremendous coffee shop creates opportunities for gainful and meaningful employment for individuals with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. I enjoyed visiting with the staff this week to see their operation first-hand and try their tasty treats. I must say, their custard was out of this world.


Integrated Textile Solutions:

Integrated Textile Solutions (ITS), headquartered in Salem with a brick-and-mortar shop in Vinton, is one of the Department of Defense’s most trusted manufacturers in Virginia. Since its founding in 1936, the company has grown both in size and in the products it makes. For the past 30 years, the company has worked to protect those whose job it is to protect all of us. Not only do they provide equipment to the U.S. Military like shelters, body armor, decontamination products, and tactical gear, but they also provide products that have been invaluable during the pandemic such as masks, medical gowns, hoods, and tunics. I appreciated the chance to tour ITS’ facility this week and hear from the owner about the company’s mission to serve those serving us.


Roanoke Rescue Mission:

The Roanoke Rescue Mission has been dedicated to providing assistance to struggling individuals and families since 1948. This week, I had the privilege of touring the Mission and volunteered for a shift serving meals to those in need. On any given night, the Roanoke Rescue Mission’s dedicated staff and volunteers provide emergency shelter for nearly 250 men, women, and children and serve upwards of 600 meals a day. Not only do they provide food and shelter, but also offer several other services to those suffering from homelessness, disabilities, addiction, or abuse. The overwhelming contributions this organization makes to the Roanoke community simply cannot be overstated.


Other District Travels:

 

Valley Health Vaccine Clinic (Woodstock)

 

Rocco Building Supplies (Harrisonburg)

 

Roanoke Economic Development Update

COVID-19 Update:
As of April 3, 2021, Virginia has had 623,881 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 10,287. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of April 3rd, 2,704,038 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 1,467,640 people are fully vaccinated.

Happy Easter:
To those celebrating throughout the Sixth District, I wish you a blessed and healthy Easter.

“Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” ~ Matthew 28:5-6

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

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – March 29, 2021

Published

on

It was great to be home in the Sixth District as the House met for a Committee Work Week. In between several virtual Appropriation subcommittee hearings, I met with various advocacy groups and constituents about the issues that matter most to them. And while Members of Congress were home in their Districts, that does not mean legislative work is not ongoing. I continue to monitor the crisis at our border, and I am following developments on a potential infrastructure package that may come before the House when Congress returns to Washington. With Spring weather right around the corner, I was pleased that the Governor plans to lift some capacity restrictions on recreational activities, but I would encourage him to go further in restoring the freedoms that Virginians enjoy. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to serve as the Sixth District’s representative and look forward to connecting with folks in-person over the next two weeks before returning to the session.

Immigration Crisis:
President Biden stopped the construction of the border wall, rescinded Trump-era policies that prevented the mass flow of migrants into our country, and promised a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million illegal immigrants. Now, just less than 90 days into his presidency, our country is facing a historic crisis at our southern border – more than 16,000 migrant children are in U.S. custody, migrants are being released into our country without a court date, and even his own DHS secretary admits “we are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.” This entire situation poses a humanitarian, economic, and national security threat to our Nation. With CBP encountering more than 3,000 migrants illegally crossing the border a day and 200,000 already having entered the country in 2021, it’s time for President Biden to act. We must finish building the wall and invest resources to ensure border patrol agents have the tools necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively.



More Reckless Spending?:

The next big push by the Biden Administration seems to be to pass portions of the “Green New Deal” and call it an infrastructure package. While improving our roads and bridges is necessary, early reports indicate that the proposal will have a massive price tag of $3 trillion and will include countless unrelated initiatives, including charging stations for electric vehicles, free community college, and expanding the failed Obamacare policies. To make matters worse, President Biden plans to pass the largest tax increase in the past 30 years – in the middle of a pandemic. At a time when millions of Americans are struggling with COVID-19, imposing hefty tax increases on families and businesses will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and hurt our fragile economy. Further, on the heels of a $1.9 trillion spending boondoggle that spent little on programs to actually combat COVID-19, our Nation cannot afford to maintain these levels of spending. Even drunken sailors are embarrassed by Biden’s outrageous spending plans.

Reopen Virginia:
This week Governor Northam announced that he would be rolling back certain COVID-related capacity restrictions throughout the Commonwealth. This comes on the heels of writing to the Governor encouraging him to increase the maximum number of spectators allowed at outdoor recreational sporting events like high school football – a copy of the letter can be found here. While I’m pleased that the Governor upped maximum attendance at high school football games to 500, I’m disappointed occupancy will still be capped at 30% capacity and that cheerleaders and band members will continue to be considered spectators. As a whole, lifting some of these restrictions was a good start, but the Governor did not go far enough. With vaccination rates rising and case numbers dropping, I encourage the Governor to continue restoring the freedoms that Virginians enjoy by fully reopening our economy and schools. It’s time to get folks back to work, kids back in the classroom, and allow residents of the Commonwealth to go about their daily lives.


Constituent Meetings:
Regardless of whether I’m in Washington or home in the Sixth District, I always make time to meet with constituents. This week I met with a number of Sixth District residents to discuss several health care-related initiatives. Among the many groups, I met with this week were the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the GO2 Foundation of Lung Cancer, VCU Health System, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. I also met with members from the Energy Independence Summit, the Citizens Climate Lobby, and the leadership of the University of Virginia. As the Commonwealth begins to reopen, I look forward to meeting with constituents in person again. If you would like to schedule a meeting with me or my staff, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my offices listed at the bottom of this page.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

 

American Academy of Physician Assistants

 

GO2 Foundation of Lung Cancer

 

VCU Health System

American Society of Addiction Medicine

COVID-19 Update:
As of March 28, 2021, Virginia has had 615,336 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 10,198. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of March 27th, 2,337,858 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 1,253,021 people are fully vaccinated.

This week President Biden signed the Save Lives Act into law, which recently passed through Congress unanimously. This legislation removes legal barriers that prevented veterans who were not enrolled in the VA system from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at one of the Department’s facilities. This bill now makes all veterans, their spouses, and their caregivers eligible to receive a vaccine at a VA facility.

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

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Legislative Update

Warner & Blunt introduce legislation to amend legislative error, protect rural health clinics

Published

on

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced legislation today to prevent further financial instability for rural health clinics and safeguard the care they provide to underserved communities. The bipartisan Strengthening Rural Health Clinics Act of 2021 would make a technical fix to protect existing rural health clinics from a sudden and unexpected Medicare payment rate change that was erroneously brought on by the December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill.

“In the past year, rural health clinics have played an essential role in bringing urgent and lifesaving care to some of our most vulnerable communities. Unfortunately, this crisis has served to further throw these facilities into financial distress,” said Sen. Warner. “By fixing a legislative error, our bill will help avoid further financial volatility and allow rural health clinics in Virginia and across the country to continue serving the communities that need it the most.”

“Many Missourians rely on rural health clinics for affordable, quality care close to home,” said Sen. Blunt. “This bill will fix a technical error to protect these clinics from added financial strain on top of the challenges they’ve faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge our colleagues to join us in supporting the vital role these clinics play in improving health care – and the quality of life – in rural communities.”

The emergency COVID-19 relief bill that was signed into law in December included a provision to reform Medicare payment rates for future rural health clinics. While this provision intended to “grandfather” existing rural health clinics at their current payment rates in order to ensure their financial stability, a technical error ultimately excluded clinics that were established after December 2019. As a result, hundreds of rural health clinics nationwide, and even more clinics that were in the “mid-build” phase, now face serious financial uncertainty. Among these are nearly 30 clinics in Virginia:



Shenandoah Medical Associates Front Royal, VA
Valley Health Family Practice Rutherford Crossing, VA
New Warren Memorial Hospital Campus Front Royal, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Clifton Forge, VA
Carilion Clinic Internal Medicine Hardy, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Buena Vista, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Rocky Mount, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Buchanan, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Floyd, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Rocky Mount, VA
Carilion Clinic Family & Internal Medicine Galax, VA
Carilion Clinic Family & Internal Medicine Martinsville, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Tazewell, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Wytheville, VA
Carilion Clinic Family & Internal Medicine Boones Mill, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Bedford, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Hillsville, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Bluefield, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Raphine, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine Lexington, VA
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine – Westlake Hardy, VA
Volens Family Medicine Nathalie, VA
Clarksville Family Medicine Clarksville, VA
Sentara Obstetrics & Gynecology South Boston, VA
Halifax Pediatrics South Boston, VA
Chase City Family Medicine Chase City, VA
Halifax Family Medicine South Boston, VA

In order to protect these clinics from the chaos associated with a sudden payment rate change, this legislation would amend existing law to grandfather at the 2020 or first-year payment rate any qualified rural health clinic that was in existence, in “mid-build”, or that had either submitted an application or had a binding written agreement with an outside unrelated party for the construction, purchase, lease, or other establishments of such a rural health clinic prior to December 31, 2020.

This legislation has the support of a number of organizations including the National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC), National Rural Health Association (NRHA), Virginia Rural Health Association (VRHA), Virginia Healthcare and Hospital Association, Missouri Hospital Association, Missouri Rural Health Association, West Virginia Hospital Association, Carilion Clinic, Valley Health System, Sentara Healthcare, Forrest General Hospital, Highland Community Hospital, Marion General Hospital, Walthall General Hospital, Jefferson Davis Community Hospital, Pearl River County Hospital, Braden Health, Braden Patient Safety Organization, Mississippi Hospital Association, and McLaren Health Care.

“In December, Congress passed significant and positive payment reforms for rural health clinics,” said Nathan Baugh, Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Rural Health Clinics. “This legislation will ensure that all rural health clinics in existence at the time the law was changed, as well as those who were in the process of becoming a rural health clinic, are fairly grandfathered into the program.”

“On behalf of Valley Health which serves communities in VA and WVA, I would like to thank Senators Warner and Blunt for introducing this important legislation. Rural health clinics are the lifeblood of healthcare delivery in these rural underserved areas. Ensuring that Rural Health Clinics receive proper reimbursement is critical to their continued sustainability. This legislation addresses the concerns of many across the country that was developing rural clinics in previous years and will go a long way in protecting access to care in these communities which is especially important during the pandemic,” said Mark Nantz, President & CEO of Valley Health System.

“The past year has again reminded us of the critical importance of protecting and strengthening access to health care for all people, including those in rural communities,” said Sean T. Connaughton, President and CEO of Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. “This legislation aims to correct an oversight in existing law to ensure the adequacy of Medicare reimbursements for designated health care providers treating patients in underserved rural communities. We appreciate the work of Senator Warner and Senator Blunt in sponsoring the Strengthening Rural Health Clinics Act of 2021 and we are proud to support it.”

“Thank you to Senator Warner for his ongoing efforts to assist citizens in rural areas of the Commonwealth with sustainable and expanded access to affordable, high-quality health care,” said Nancy Howell Agee, President, and CEO of Roanoke-based Carilion Clinic. “Much of Carilion’s service area is rural with an aging population. Our community needs assessments consistently reflect concerns about access to primary and specialty care. Our Rural Health Clinics and expanded digital solutions, including telehealth, help us better serve the health care needs in the region and provide more sustainable access to care. Senator Warner has consistently worked to ensure that health care services are available for our rural citizens to the greatest degree possible. His efforts to help stabilize access to these services through our Rural Health Clinics is important and appreciated.”

A copy of the bill is available here. A one-page summary can be found here.

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Legislative Update

Warner presses IRS to fix problems delaying relief checks

Published

on

With more than 7 million Virginians slated to get over $9 billion in relief as a direct result of the American Rescue Plan, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) urging the agency to ensure that families receive their promised COVID-19 stimulus payments by quickly and proactively addressing three common issues that Virginians experienced with the last round of economic impact payments (EIPs) earlier this year.

“I write today following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to raise specific issues my constituents had in accessing their second economic impact payments (EIP) in hopes those problems can be resolved and taken into consideration as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the third round of economic impact payments,” wrote Sen. Warner in his letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

In his letter to the IRS, Sen. Warner identified the three most prevalent issues Virginia families ran into when attempting to access their second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. The issues commonly heard from Virginians were:

1. Couples who filed a 2019 tax return as married filing jointly reported that only one spouse received a second EIP even though they received a joint EIP in the first round.


2. Social Security recipients who received the first EIP via direct deposit or direct express card but did not receive the second EIP.

3. Virginians who reported that the IRS’s Get My Payment application showed that they would either receive their payment via direct deposit or check but never received it.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for Virginians, working to ensure that they get the funds to which they are entitled. Last April, he pressed the Treasury Department to ensure that families who are not normally required to file taxes do not need to wait until the following year to receive the additional $500 payment per dependent child that they were promised. He also successfully pushed the Treasury Department to allow Social Security recipients to automatically receive CARES Act direct cash assistance without needing to file a tax return.

Here is a copy of the letter.

Dear Secretary Yellen and Commissioner Rettig,

I write today following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to raise specific issues my constituents had in accessing their second economic impact payments (EIP) in hopes those problems can be resolved and taken into consideration as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) administers the third round of economic impact payments.

The Administration is well aware of the millions of Americans facing economic hardship and should be applauded for its tireless work to deliver more relief as part of the ARPA. Further, I am appreciative of the IRS’s hard work throughout the pandemic. IRS employees have worked diligently to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in EIPs to Americans while managing the risks associated with COVID-19.

Virginians continue to reach out with specific problems they are having, particularly those trying to access their second EIP. Below, I lay out the three most prevalent issues my staff has identified. To help me respond adequately to my constituents, please review the three issues and answer the following related questions.

1. Couples that filed a 2019 tax return as married filing jointly are reporting that only one spouse received a second EIP even though they received a joint EIP in the first round. When the spouse not receiving the payment checked the IRS’s Get My Payment App, there was no information. Is the couple’s only recourse to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC)? Is there a reason why the second EIP was treated differently in this situation? Can the IRS take steps to ensure the same problem does not occur with the third EIP?

2. A number of my constituents who are Social Security recipients received the first EIP via direct deposit or direct express card but did not receive the second EIP. The IRS has said those constituents can file a tax return and claim a RRC but I am concerned for those Social Security recipients who are non-filers and are less equipped to file a tax return to claim their RRC. I am also concerned that these same constituents will not receive their third EIP. Please explain why the IRS did not send the second (December) round of EIPs automatically to Social Security recipients. Will the IRS commit to sending past due checks to Social Security recipients who should have received them? For the third round of EIPs, can the IRS commit to automatically sending checks to Social Security recipients? If not, why not?

Last year, the IRS created a Non-Filers tool to allow non-filers to gain access to the first round of EIPs to address this problem and make it easier for non-filers to access their EIP. Why did the IRS not reopen the Non-Filers tool to help Americans access their second EIP? Will the IRS commit to reopening the Non-Filers tool for the third round of EIP to ensure non-filers can easily access their third EIP? And will they be allowed to use this tool to claim checks owed to them from the first two rounds?

3. A number of constituents reported that the IRS’s Get May Payment application showed that they would either receive their payment via direct deposit or check but they never received it. Although the payment was issued to them and they qualified based on their 2019 tax return, the RRC is based on their 2020 tax filing. In some situations this has eliminated constituents’ eligibility for the second EIP. Will the IRS offer any flexibility or recourse for constituents in these circumstances?

I know the IRS is working diligently to serve the American people, and I welcome our continued collaboration to help Americans across the country. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – March 22, 2021

Published

on

 

This past week was a continuation of Speaker Pelosi’s House passing legislation that didn’t go through the normal committee process and allowed few if any, amendments from the Republican minority. However, in a rare show of bipartisanship, the House did pass my COVID–19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act, which will provide significant aid to struggling small businesses. Last week I also had the opportunity to visit with constituents in Verona and hear from advocacy groups about the issues that matter most to them. As the House wrapped up a busy two months of session, I am looking forward to being home in the Sixth District these next few weeks connecting with those I am honored to represent.

Immigration Crisis:
When I visited the southern border two years ago, I saw firsthand the tremendous job that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was doing to curbing the influx of illegal immigration. These dedicated men and women put themselves on the line each day to ensure the safety and security of the American people. The difference between then and now was that President Trump made sure our border patrol agents had the resources necessary to do their jobs effectively when there was an uptick in illegal crossings. Sadly, however, we are once again facing an immigration crisis. When President Biden assumed office, he essentially slapped an open sign on our southern border. In the past two months, the President has halted the construction of the border wall, reduced immigration enforcement, reimplemented “catch and release”, promised citizenship for millions, and canceled asylum agreements with our Central and South American partners. These actions have created a disastrous situation.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 200,000 individual migrants have already illegally crossed the border, which is a seven-year high and a 173 percent increase from this time last year. There has also been a 163 percent increase in families apprehended these past two months. On top of this, at least four individuals on the FBI’s terrorist screening database have come across our border illegally in recent months, and apprehensions at the border jumped 28 percent last month compared to January. Even President Biden’s own Secretary of Homeland Security said we are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years. There is no denying that the entire situation is a humanitarian, economic, and national security crisis. Yet despite all of this, the House passed two bills last week that reward illegal immigration and say to the world that our laws no longer matter – I voted against both pieces of legislation. As your Congressman, I will fight to secure our borders and protect the homeland of the United States.

 

Aiding our Small Businesses:
In 2019, I introduced and had signed into law the Small Business Reorganization Act, which simplifies the process for entrepreneurs to use bankruptcy as a means of reorganization. Under this bill, when initially passed, businesses with less than $2.7 million of debt were able to file for bankruptcy in a timelier and more cost-effective manner. While in bankruptcy reorganization, a small business can negotiate with creditors while keeping the doors open, employees on the payroll, and suppliers and vendors paid. In 2020, a provision in the CARES Act raised the $2.7 million thresholds to $7.5 million. This provision was set to expire on March 27, 2021. Therefore, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, and I introduced, and the House passed, the COVID–19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act of 2021, which extends this temporary provision, and thus the $7.5 million thresholds, for an additional year. By extending the debt threshold for eligibility, significantly more businesses who have been impacted by government-mandated lockdowns will benefit from the Small Business Reorganization Act, which has served as a lifeline for struggling businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, since the inception of the bill, 80 percent of small business debtors have chosen to proceed under the provisions of my bill.



Domestic Violence Legislation:
Domestic violence is a persistent problem across our nation, and the effect of lockdowns on families in many states has led to an increase in reports of domestic violence. As a former domestic violence prosecutor, I have supported efforts at the local, state, and federal levels to provide resources to those programs that help domestic violence victims. Last year, I introduced the bipartisan POWER Act with Congresswoman McBath (D-GA), which aimed to ensure that support services remained available to domestic violence victims during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two bills affecting domestic violence programs came before the House last week, and while I supported the intent of both bills, one of the bills was unfortunately hijacked for partisan purposes. The first bill, which I supported, was a bill to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund, H.R. 1652. The bill strengthens the Victims of Crime Act, or VOCA, which funds thousands of victim service providers around the country, including programs serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking, and drunk driving. VOCA grants also fund victim compensation, including paying medical bills, covering lost wages, and paying for funeral costs. It is critical that we ensure that these important grants continue to support victims across the country, and I was pleased to support the passage of this bill. The second bill was to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, a law that I strongly support. Unfortunately, the previously bipartisan law that I have supported and voted for was amended to include several controversial provisions that I could not support. These included provisions that undermine and jeopardize due process; that curtail prosecutorial discretion; that weaken programs for female victims; that could re-victimize abused women, and that fail to provide religious hiring exemptions for faith-based grant recipients. For these reasons, I could not vote for the VAWA reauthorization proposed by Democrat leadership, and instead, I supported and voted for the Republican substitute to re-enact the most recent bipartisan version of the VAWA law.

Project GROWS:
I enjoyed the opportunity to visit Project GROWS in Verona last week. Founded in 2010, the group partners with various community organizations to address childhood obesity, malnutrition, and diabetes in the Shenandoah Valley through farm-based education. The group also strives to support its students’ physical, mental, and social well-being. Our region thanks Project GROWS for addressing these pressing issues affecting our region’s youth.

 

 

AIPAC:
I was pleased to meet with members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s national board to discuss continued steps to ensure the safety and security of this vital ally. I have always been a staunch supporter of Israel, and in the 116th Congress, I cosponsored several pieces of legislation seeking to protect the Holy Land. One such bill was H.R. 1837 – the United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, which authorizes increased security assistance to Israel, including the transfer of reserve stock weapons and boosting defense funding over the next five years. Further, I cosponsored H. Res. 246 – Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement targeting Israel. The BDS movement seeks to weaken the Jewish State’s footing on the international stage, which is simply unacceptable. I will continue to support our closest ally in the Middle East in the 117th Congress, and I look forward to co-sponsoring similar legislation when introduced.

COVID-19 Update:
As of March 21, 2021, Virginia has had 604,904 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 10,117. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of March 20th, 2,039,437 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 1,114,156 people are fully vaccinated.

Additional COVID Information:
The IRS announced this week that it will delay the federal April 15 tax-filing deadline until May 17. Taxpayers can also delay payment of any money owed to the IRS until said date. Additionally, Virginia extended its filing deadline to May 17 as well.

Further, the Salem VA Health Care System announced recently that vaccination appointments are now open for all enrolled veterans. Individuals are encouraged to reach out to their primary care teams or call the vaccination hotline between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to schedule appointments. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, veterans should call 540-982-2463 and choose Option 2.

Finally, last week the House approved a 60-day extension of the Paycheck Protection Program which is set to expire on March 31. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the new deadline would be May 31. To apply for a PPP loan, click here.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman.  If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

Share the News:


Continue Reading

King Cartoons

Front Royal
46°
Partly Cloudy
6:31am7:52pm EDT
Feels like: 46°F
Wind: 0mph E
Humidity: 80%
Pressure: 29.89"Hg
UV index: 0
SunMonTue
64/45°F
68/46°F
72/54°F

Upcoming Events

Apr
18
Sun
9:30 am Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 18 @ 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Join Kim Strader, ANFT Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, for a gentle walk (no more than a mile or two) where we will wander and sit. Through a series of invitations and prompts, we[...]
10:00 am 2nd United States Cavalry – Civi... @ Sky Meadows State Park
2nd United States Cavalry – Civi... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 18 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
2nd United States Cavalry - Civil War Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Get up-close and personal with history. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment. Interact with the 2nd US Cavalry as they perform daily tasks of the Union soldiers. Activities[...]
Apr
20
Tue
all-day Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 20 – Apr 23 all-day
Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department Mad Science Kit contains experiments that focus on fun, interactivity, and entertainment. Participants ages 6-12 will be able to perform four (4) experiments, including Dyed Carnations, Lava Lamps,[...]
10:00 am Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 20 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Players will enjoy several hands of Mah Jongg against skilled opponents. This club meets on Tuesdays from April 6, 2021 through April 27, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Warren County Community[...]
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 20 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
24
Sat
10:00 am Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 24 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
On this Earth Day, celebrate safely by doing your part to restore our earth and joining the Great Global Cleanup. Stop by one of our tables at the Explorer Outpost, Picnic Area, or Lost Mountain[...]
12:00 pm Empty Bowl Supper “To Go” @ Downtown Market
Empty Bowl Supper “To Go” @ Downtown Market
Apr 24 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Empty Bowl Supper “To Go” @ Downtown Market
Come out to enjoy our favorite fundraiser to benefit the House of Hope, the Empty Bowl Supper “TO GO”! DATE: Saturday, April 24 from 12noon-3pm Ticket Link: eventbrite.com/empty-bowl-supper LOCATION: Main Street & Downtown Market Check in near the[...]
12:00 pm SHS Band Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
SHS Band Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Apr 24 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
SHS Band Golf Tournament @ Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club
Join us for an afternoon of golf at Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club in Front Royal! 1 pm Shotgun, Registration from 12pm – 12:45pm. $85/Player $340/Team Help us celebrate Skyline High School Band’s success while[...]
12:30 pm Color Run Fundraiser @ Warren County Department of Social Services
Color Run Fundraiser @ Warren County Department of Social Services
Apr 24 @ 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Color Run Fundraiser @ Warren County Department of Social Services
Save Our Children Front Royal is hosting a Color Run/Walk to raise money for The Child Safe Center, located in Winchester, Virginia. The Child Safe Center is a local non-profit who supports sexually abused victims[...]
Apr
25
Sun
4:00 pm Paint with a Superhero @ Downtown Market
Paint with a Superhero @ Downtown Market
Apr 25 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Paint with a Superhero @ Downtown Market
$30 per painter or 4 painters for $100. Bring the whole family and save! Join us for a special Paint with a Superhero event! Be sure to dress up as your favorite hero or villain[...]