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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – July 12, 2021

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This week saw Washington, D.C. on two divergent tracks. The first track was hopeful, as negotiations continued over a bipartisan plan to fund our core infrastructure needs, such as roads, bridges, rail, airports, ports, and waterways while ensuring that the bill is not financed through additional deficit spending. As negotiations continue, I am hopeful that an agreement can be reached that does not raise taxes on American families and businesses, while focusing funding on traditional infrastructure projects and not Green New Deal schemes.

The second track in Washington, DC, this week, unfortunately, was the partisan effort by the Biden Administration to add nearly $6 trillion dollars to our debt for bloated liberal proposals that endanger our fiscal stability as a Nation and add to the burden on future generations. Not only has the Democrat-led House Appropriations Committee been rubber-stamping these spending bills, but they have also been adding “poison-pill” riders that reverse decades of policies and implement some of the most outrageous ideas of the radical left. As a member of the Committee, I offered and supported several amendments last week in an attempt to remove some of the most extreme provisions, but when Democrats defeated them all in party-line votes, Republicans stood up for taxpayers and voted against the billions of dollars in excessive spending.

In spite of the partisanship on the Appropriations Committee, I continue to work as a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus to promote bipartisan ideas that improve the lives of American families. For example, this week I cosponsored with Rep. Phillips (D-MN) legislation to help improve mental health services for our Veterans. In addition, I joined Reps. Massie (R-KY) and Pingree (D-ME) as a cosponsor of the PRIME Act, legislation to help small cattle farms by removing duplicative and onerous federal processor regulations. The bill would make it easier for local farms to compete with big meat companies and make locally raised livestock processing more widely available.

This week, I also had the opportunity to visit with a VFW post in Harrisonburg to recognize its 100th anniversary. As cities across the country lift most COVID restrictions, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you intend to visit Washington. It is an honor to serve as your Congressman, and as I head back to DC for more committee work, know that I will continue advocating on your behalf.


Funding the Government:
The Appropriations Committee recently began its work of marking up the twelve pieces of legislation that will fund the Federal government for the next fiscal year. A markup is a process by which congressional committees debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation before a bill heads to the floor for final consideration. Unfortunately, not only were the spending levels offered in these bills excessive, but each of the six bills the committee has thus far considered contained language known as “Poison Pills” that make bipartisan support nearly impossible.

For example, in the State and Foreign Operations bill, Democrats removed long-standing provisions to ensure that no taxpayer funds could be used for abortions. The Interior and Environment Appropriations bill would require cattle farmers to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions from their facilities (yes, it’s exactly what you think). Not only would this new requirement be extremely burdensome and costly, but it’s also impossible to achieve compliance with any certainty. This kind of misguided “Green New Deal” logic would cripple small producers and the communities they serve. Additionally, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill eliminated provisions that prohibit the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the transfer of detainees accused of terrorism to the U.S. mainland. On top of all this, nearly every one of the six bills considered last week contained double-digit spending increases, which shows no regard to the deficit that has topped $28 trillion or to inflation rates that are at a 13-year-high. As consideration of the remaining bills continues this week, I will not stop my efforts to highlight the wasteful spending in these bills and to stand up for the American taxpayers.


Finding the Truth:

A recently released U.S. intelligence report confirms that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) fell ill in November 2019. Their symptoms were not only consistent with COVID-19 but were also severe enough that they sought medical attention at the hospital. This revelation has sparked continued debate regarding the origins of the virus that swept across the globe and killed millions. China has denied that COVID-19 originated in the WIV, and the lab’s director has denied that any of their researchers had been sick, which we know not to be true. Since the onset of the pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party has withheld information, hindered international investigations, and even attempted to cast blame on the U.S. military for being responsible for the virus. The American people deserve to know the truth about where COVID began, which is why I recently introduced an amendment in the Appropriations Committee that would require the declassification of U.S. intelligence related to any potential links between the WIV and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the amendment stated that funding to the World Health Organization would be withheld until such information is released. It’s time we get to the bottom of the origins of the virus to help prevent future pandemics.


Supporting Veterans:

This past week, I was pleased to co-sponsor H.R. 3674, the Vet Center Support Act. This bill would greatly improve access to mental health care for our Veterans. The legislation seeks to identify the gaps in mental health care services that Veterans desperately need and will take the necessary steps to ensure our military community and their families have access to these lifesaving services. Vet Centers are spaces where local mental health care providers can offer the necessary counseling and other services to Veterans, active-duty service members, and their families. Vet Centers have had tremendous success in preventing suicide, treating PTSD cases, assisting in Veteran reintegration, and helping our military community live more stable and healthier lives. Currently, experts report that 17 Veterans take their own lives every day. Making the services provided by these Vet Centers more important to help combat this national tragedy.

 

 

Biden’s Crime Surge:
This week, the White House made the absurd claim that Republicans in Congress have voted in favor of “Defunding the Police.” This statement is laughable, and even the Washington Post gave the assertion three Pinocchios. Republicans recognize the sacrifices law enforcement makes to protect and serve our communities and believe in providing them the resources necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively. Democrats, on the other hand, particularly the Squad, have been vocally in support of the “Defund the Police” movement. Many cities have caved to the Left’s wishes and the results have been glaring. On top of other violent crime, shootings are up 126% in Portland, 43% in New York City, 47% in Los Angeles, and 40% in Atlanta compared to the same time period in 2020. We must get this situation under control, and it begins with supporting the police.


VFW Post 632:

Founded in 1921, the Rion-Bowman VFW Post 632 was the first Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter founded in the Shenandoah Valley and is one of the oldest in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Combat Veterans of every conflict since World War One have called this post home, and it has been led by 73 dedicated commanders over the years. The current Senior Vice Commander Christopher Rexrode noted the significance of celebrating this milestone during the pandemic, which has forced far too many Veterans’ clubs across the country to close. He is thankful his post has been able to keep its doors open and continue serving as a place for Veterans to gather, connect, and share experiences and comradery on a daily basis. This week, I enjoyed meeting Veterans at the Post in Harrisonburg, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. I presented the group with a copy of the Congressional Record honoring this achievement and wished them many more years of success in serving our Veterans.

Visiting Washington:
As we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington DC is opening back up. While the White House and U.S. Capitol are still currently closed for tours, many other attractions and museums have reopened on a limited basis. A detailed list of reopenings can be found on my website here. Please do not hesitate to contact my Washington office with travel questions if you plan to visit our Nation’s capital.

COVID-19 Update:
As of July 11, 2021, Virginia has had 682,856 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 11,450. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of July 11th, 5,060,337 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 4,415,707 people are fully vaccinated.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

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Legislative Update

Senator Warner discusses bipartisan infrastructure framework on ‘Fox News Sunday’

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On July 25, 2021,  U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) appeared on Fox News Sunday with Martha MacCallum to discuss the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and America’s critical infrastructure needs.

On having a bipartisan infrastructure bill come Monday:

“Martha, I believe we will because the one thing I hear all across Virginia the last couple of days, people want us to invest in our infrastructure. If you step back, you know, we have in — we are investing at about half the rate that we invested in our infrastructure as we did in the 1990s. As a matter of fact, infrastructure became, as you know, a joke line during the last of administration.

They kept promising they were going to do infrastructure. It never came to pass. A group of us, ten of us, five Democrats, five Republicans, have been working on this for the last couple of months.


This is the same group who actually put together the last COVID-19 deal under President Trump, so we know each other, we trust each other. I think you’re going to see whether it’s $100 billion-plus for roads and bridges, whether it’s close to $50 billion for resiliency those coasts for having sea level rise, whether it’s making the kind of investments in cleaner buses. For example, our country is going to buy 20,000 new school buses over the next couple of years. Should those buses be made in China are made in America? I think they ought to be made in America, and there’s a host of new things around making our grades smarter.

Broadband, I think we’ve got a menu of options, and candidly, we’ve had those menus of spending items agreed to for weeks. We have had to work through because my Republican colleagues did not want to use enhanced or actually make sure we follow our IRS tax laws, so we had to replace some of those pay fors. We’re down to the last couple of items, and I think you’re going to see a bill Monday afternoon.”

On voting on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and budget reconciliation before August recess:

“I sure want to, and by the way, I mean, there’s a little bit of workmanship going on here. There were a half-dozen times when Mitch McConnell was the leader of the senate where he would put up what’s called a shell bill because you’re not finished with the details. Then you substitute the actual text once you get into the negotiations because there will be amendments on this infrastructure bill. But, still, we will have that text; it will be out there tomorrow.

After we’re done with the bipartisan bill, I would love to have some of my Republican friends join on the reconciliation left for it, the larger effort that looks at things like universal preschool, that looks at things like free community college, that looks at things like a broad-based tax cut for every family that has a child in terms of the child tax credit. I would hope some Republicans would join us on that, but if not, I think the group of 50 Democrats have to work through that resolution as well.”

Video of Sen. Warner’s interview on Fox News Sunday can be found here. A transcript follows.

Fox News Sunday

MARTHA MACCALLUM: So you said you thought there would be an infrastructure bill that could be looked at on Monday and that you all were working through the weekend. Will you have that bill in place for everybody to look at come tomorrow?

SEN MARK WARNER: Martha, I believe we will because the one thing I hear all across Virginia the last couple of days, people want us to invest in our infrastructure. If you step back, you know, we have in — we are investing at about half the rate that we invested in our infrastructure as we did in the 1990s. As a matter of fact, infrastructure became, as you know, a joke line during the last of administration. They kept promising they were going to do infrastructure. It never came to pass. A group of us, ten of us, five Democrats, five Republicans, have been working on this for the last couple of months. This is the same group who actually put together the last COVID-19 deal under President Trump, so we know each other, we trust each other. I think you’re going to see whether it’s $100 billion-plus for roads and bridges, whether it’s close to $50 billion for resiliency those coasts for having sea level rise, whether it’s making the kind of investments in cleaner buses. For example, our country is going to buy 20,000 new school buses over the next couple of years. Should those buses be made in china are made in America? I think they ought to be made in America, and there’s a host of new things around making our grades smarter. Broadband, I think we’ve got a menu of options, and candidly, we’ve had those menus of spending items agreed to for weeks. We have had to work through because my Republican colleagues did not want to use enhanced or actually make sure we follow our IRS tax laws, so we had to replace some of those pay fors. We’re down to the last couple of items, and I think you’re going to see a bill Monday afternoon.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: I know there was that dispute over whether the IRS part of that deal would go through. Would you want to see $800 billion in unspent COVID-19 funds? Is that going to happen?

SEN MARK WARNER: Well, the interesting thing, Martha, is everybody was for some of these unspent COVID-19 funds that came from the 2020 legislation. Again, most of that legislation passed under President Trump, everybody is for scraping most dollars until you go back and look at the actual programs. For example, hospital relief. For example, some of the programs for small businesses. We have agreed jointly on roughly $70 billion of funds that were not already spent that will be redeployed to help pay for this infrastructure package.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: What do you say to the criticism?

SEN MARK WARNER: The challenge, Martha, is that you’ve got folks who want to make big, bold statements but sometimes don’t want to roll up their sleeves; get into the details and make the very hard choices about where we find these pay fors.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: You heard Senator Scott and others say they didn’t have a bill to vote on last week, and this is what Senator Schumer said about his intention and his timeline.

“I have every intention of passing both major infrastructure packages, the bipartisan infrastructure framework, and budget resolution with reconciliation instructions before we leave for the August recess. That’s the schedule we laid out at the end of June, and that’s the schedule I intend to stick to.”

I mean, that’s very ambitious. Democrats hold the House, the Senate, and the White House. Can you get those two things done by this August recess, senator?

SEN MARK WARNER: I sure want to, and by the way, I mean, there’s a little bit of workmanship going on here. There was a half-dozen times when Mitch McConnell was the leader of the senate where he would put up what’s called a shell bill because you’re not finished with the details. Then you substitute the actual text once you get into the negotiations because there will be amendments on this infrastructure bill. But, still, we will have that text; it will be out there tomorrow. After we’re done with the bipartisan bill, I would love to have some of my Republican friends join on the reconciliation left for it, the larger effort that looks at things like universal preschool, that looks at things like free community college, that looks at things like a broad-based tax cut for every family that has a child in terms of the child tax credit. I would hope some Republicans would join us on that, but if not, I think the group of 50 Democrats have to work through that resolution as well.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: Well, Senator, there’s a lot of concern about the inflation that we see rising in the country, and Senator Graham spoke to this just the other day. Let’s watch that.

“There’s a mandate in this bill to require every employer to offer paid family leave. That sounds good, I guess, on its face, until the employer has to come up with the cash to meet the mandate in this bill. Guess what the employer is going to do? They are going to increase their prices because the government has increased their cost. And over time, as we increase taxes in this bill, which they will have to do, there’s less money to do things that businesses need to do, like modernizing and hiring people. So this is a nightmare for American business. It’s going to be a nightmare for American consumers if this reconciliation bill passes.”

So he’s talking about driving up the costs for American businesses across this country and what the impact might be on consumers. Do you share those concerns about this in the three-and-a-half trillion dollar bill?

SEN MARK WARNER: Like many of the folks I work with within the senate, I spent 30 years in business. I was involved in the telecommunications industry, started a very large company. I can actually read a balance sheet, which is something that some of my colleagues can’t. The amazing thing that Lindsay just mentioned is there is every industrial country in the world, with the exception of the United States, providing some level of paid leave if somebody is having a baby or has got a death in the family. Other countries have managed to do that, and their economies are still moving forward. As a matter of fact, if there are inflationary pressures, it is because we put $5 trillion into the economy, three and a half trillion of that under President Trump, to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. I think history will actually treat that — those investments — as appropriate because we are seeing our economy rebounds. We’ve added three million jobs in the last five months, and, Martha, I just got to tell you, as somebody who spent longer in business than I have in politics, if we don’t invest in road, rail, water, and sewer systems, broadband, those infrastructure investments will actually help us grow the economy, virtually every economist from left to right agreed on that.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: As somebody who spent 30 years in business, as you say, what about the bottom line? What about these trillions and trillions of dollars that have been spent since COVID-19? The fear is that all of this money that you talk about that’s being thrown at this problem is going to ignite inflation that will not just be transitory, that will be long-lasting, and I don’t think Americans have a long memory for what that actually feels like companies and individuals. Are you concerned about that as you seek to push through this $3.5 trillion deal?

SEN MARK WARNER: Well, again, am I concerned about inflation? I’m always concerned about inflation, but I also believe the federal reserve has pointed out that they think this is short-term in nature. We’ve already seen things like the cost of lumber, which went sky high, start to come down. We’ve already seen a little bit of relaxing in the used car market. One of the problems around our car market is that it would not have available semiconductor chips. We need to make investments there to keep up with China, and when you talk about some of these numbers, 3.5 trillion, big, big number, but that is spent out over ten years, so that’s not —

MARTHA MACCALLUM: It is still a big, big number.

SEN MARK WARNER: Right, but —

MARTHA MACCALLUM: It’s unprecedented.

SEN MARK WARNER: Nothing near to the 5 trillion we spent in the last year under both Trump and Biden.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: All right. Just in general, as a Democrat, when you look at this period of time with control over the White House, the House, and the Senate, are you disappointed with what you’ve been able to get done so far?

SEN MARK WARNER: Well, I actually think the American Rescue Plan ended up providing, for example, a middle-class tax cut for every family that makes less than $150,000 that got children with the child tax credit, I think, makes sense. I think state and local government sure those up who lost revenues during COVID-19 make sense and I was a telegram guy. We are going to make sure every household in Virginia has high-speed broadband 2024. that would only happen because of the American Rescue Plan. I frankly think, and I would hope, every state would do that same kind of plan because if you don’t have broadband going forward, your chances for any kind of economic future is not going to be bright buried.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: Before I let you go, do you think the President should move to get behind the idea of eliminating the filibuster in order to get some of these things through while this window is still open?

SEN MARK WARNER: I don’t want the Senate to become like the House. Still, I do believe when it comes to voting rights when it comes to that basic right to exercise and participate in democracy, I get very worried about what’s happening in some of these states where they are actually penalizing, saying if you give somebody water waiting in line to vote, or in states like Texas where they are seeing a local government can overcome the results of a local election, that is not democracy. If we have to do a small carve-out on filibuster for voting rights, that is the only area where I would allow that kind of reform.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: Do you don’t think that’s a slippery slope?

SEN MARK WARNER: Listen, I would wish we wouldn’t even have started this a decade ago. When the democratic leaders actually changed the rules, I don’t think we have the Supreme Court we did if we still had a 60 vote margin on the filibuster, but we are where we are in the idea that somehow to protect the rights of the minority in the senate were going to cut out rights of minorities and young people all across the country, that’s just not right to me.

MARTHA MACCALLUM: Senator Warner thank you, good to have you here today.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – July 19, 2021

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Although the House did not have any votes on the Floor this week, Speaker Pelosi and her liberal leadership in Washington was busy behind the scenes, working to undermine the fiscal integrity of our Nation by forcing massive spending bills through the House Appropriations Committee. As one of the newest members of the Committee, I was appalled by how quickly the Democrats on the Committee voted for 20 percent, 30 percent, or even bigger increases in spending on Washington bureaucracies over the current fiscal year. Worse, the bills were stuffed full of liberal legislative riders that changed decades of policy with little or no debate. By the end of the week, all twelve appropriations bills were approved by Democrats in party-line votes. Seated in the back corner of the Committee room with the other newly-appointed Republicans, my colleagues and I became known by the Democrats as “the Paper Caucus,” because we offered most of the amendments to the bills as they were considered. We offered amendments to reduce spending, defend the Constitution, protect life, and stand against the Green New Deal, among others. While we were unsuccessful in our efforts, the Democrats on the Committee were given notice that the days of doing things “the same old way” are over. Republicans will continue to stand up in Committee for the people we represent against the defenders of the status quo and the Washington bureaucracy.

Further, on Friday, I introduced bipartisan legislation to expand opportunities for veterans and make it easier for them to open their own small businesses. I also joined Fox Business to discuss my recent appointment to the Big Tech Censorship and Data Task Force, where we’ll examine ways to rein in the Tech Industry. Finally, I was pleased that we won a fight against a bureaucratic change at the Office of Management and Budget that would have hurt services and the people who depend on them across the Sixth District.

Appropriations Committee:
This week, the House Appropriations continued its work of marking up the 12 bills that will fund the Federal government for the next fiscal year. While Republicans worked hard to get provisions included in the bills that support conservative initiatives, the final price tag on each piece of legislation this week was fiscally irresponsible, and most included “poising pills” that made it impossible to vote in favor of the bills. A few examples of the issues can be found below:

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
In one of the most egregious moves by the Democrats, the historically bipartisan Hyde Amendment was removed from the bill for the first time in 45 years. As you may know, the Hyde Amendment ensures that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund or perform abortions – a notion that more than 60 percent of Americans support. Further, this bill also excluded the Weldon Amendment, which ensures that health care providers cannot be forced to provide abortion services – protection that has been in place since 2005. We should never force our health care workers to participate in abortion when they have taken an oath to heal and to do no harm. To put a health care provider’s license in jeopardy by mandating they perform a procedure they are morally opposed to is simply wrong. For this and many other reasons, I could not vote in favor of this bill.



Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Instead of prioritizing security challenges, this bill focused on funding new, overlapping, and potentially duplicative programs. The bill also contained onerous and controversial provisions that would have effectively defunded police who bravely protect and serve our local communities. Additionally, language included for many years to protect the Second Amendment was stripped from the bill. Moreover, the legislation creates a National Gun Buyback Program. The Federal government should not be operating programs that purchase firearms it never owned in the first place from the civilian population. I offered an amendment to remove this provision from the bill and redirect resources at the Justice Department to fight human trafficking. Unfortunately, the Democrats voted it down along party lines. As written, this bill was a bad deal for the taxpayer, and thus, I voted against the final passage.


Homeland Security

Everyone agrees that we must ensure that those who keep us safe have the resources necessary to do their job, and that includes those who keep us safe on the US border. While there were provisions in the bill that I support, the final legislation did nothing to secure our southern border. Instead, it incentivizes more mass illegal migration that will worsen the crisis at the border created by the Biden Administration. One provision in the bill would even put the locations and types of surveillance technology used by Border Patrol on a website available to the general public (and the Mexican drug cartels). This is dangerous and hinders the work and safety of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. I offered an amendment to strike this reckless provision from this spending bill, but the Democrats voted it down. The legislation did not do nearly enough to secure the homeland, and thus, I could not support the bill.

Veterans Entrepreneurship Act
Supporting Veterans in the Sixth District and across the country is one of my top priorities as your Congressman, and I will continue to work to advance legislation that will aid those who served our Nation. That is why this week I introduced H.R. 4433, the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2021. This bipartisan legislation will expand the options under which Veterans can access their benefits in the GI Bill. Currently, GI Bill benefits can only be used to help Veterans further their education. However, not all Veterans wish to continue their education after returning to civilian life. Many wish to pursue professional development, enter the workforce, or start their own small business. This legislation will allow funds under the GI Bill to be applied to special business training programs or resource grants to help Veterans achieve their goals. The bill establishes a 3-year pilot program where 250 Veterans will participate in a training program and receive assistance in putting together a business plan that, if approved, will win them a grant which they can use to realize their plan. The Veterans Entrepreneurship Act is grounded in the idea of allowing Veterans to choose how to best use their earned benefits to help accomplish their goals. Learn more here.

 

Reining in Big Tech:
Recently, I was pleased to be named to the Big Tech Censorship and Data Task Force. Together we will explore data privacy and security matters, examine competition issues, and most importantly, search for avenues to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 is what gives social media companies their liability shield from lawsuits stemming from the content on their platforms. However, if Big Tech is going to censor speech, remove posts, and filter content, then they should be deemed publishers and no longer entitled to that shield. Further, Big Tech has destroyed the ability of small businesses to compete on a level playing field either by simply buying their competition out, underpricing their own products on their platforms, and giving their own products priority which does not allow private sellers to have a fighting chance. We must help foster a truly free and fair market. Finally, Big Tech too often is reckless and careless in protecting private data, and Congress must work to hold negligent companies liable for these breaches of trust. I am hopeful that this Task Force will be able to work toward solutions to solve these issues. Click the image to hear more.


Metropolitan Statistical Areas:

Earlier this year, the Office of Management and Budget proposed raising the population criteria for Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) from 50,000 residents to 100,000 residents. As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, a Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Area is that of a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core. These designations are used in part to determine Federal funding levels and economic development opportunities. If this change were to have occurred, cities like Harrisonburg and Staunton would have lost their MSA designation, and thus would not qualify for higher levels of Federal funding. Fortunately, in response to a letter my colleagues and I wrote to the Office of Management and Budget, the agency announced this week that it is rescinding the proposed change to the population criteria. Therefore, for at least the next ten years, Harrisonburg and Staunton will be afforded the proper level of Federal funding that they deserve. I am proud to have played a part in ensuring this arbitrary proposal did not come to fruition.


Scam Alert:

Recently, authorities have been made aware of cyberattacks being perpetrated in the Sixth District. Several residents of Botetourt County have received Facebook messages supposedly from the Economic Development Agency about a grant opportunity, asking for money or personal information in return. Be advised that these messages are scams and can cause serious harm. If you receive a suspicious message, do not click on the link even if it seems to be from someone you know. Please note that the EDA never requires the disclosure of personal information or any processing fees. EDA grants can only be received by following the steps listed on the EDA’s website. If you are a victim of one of these scams, contact the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General or the Federal Trade Commission.

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.

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Legislative Update

Historic child tax credit payments starting, Warner & Kaine applaud monthly checks to Virginia families

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As historic Child Tax Credit payments begin for 39 million families across the nation, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement applauding the new monthly payment to millions of U.S. households. Starting July 15, eligible parents will begin receiving automatic monthly payments for the next six months of $250 for every child aged 6 to 17 and $300 for every child under 6. The American Rescue Plan, which both Warner and Kaine voted for, made these payments possible. An estimated 1.6 million children across Virginia will benefit from the expanded child tax credit, including 249,000 children in the Commonwealth who are currently in poverty. The expansion will lift 85,000 Virginia children out of poverty.

“The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on families across the Commonwealth, exacerbating the challenges that low- and middle-income families face,” said the Senators. “In response, Democrats expanded the Child Tax Credit and instructed IRS to make advance payments as part of the American Rescue Plan. These monthly payments will make a huge difference in the lives of families in Virginia and across the nation by providing low- and middle-income parents with money to help pay for necessities like food, housing, and health care. We are proud to have supported this expansion, which will cut child poverty in half and improve lives across the Commonwealth.”

To qualify for the monthly Child Tax Credit payments, families must have:

Filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return and claimed the Child Tax Credit on the return; or given their information in 2020 to the IRS to receive the Economic Impact Payment using the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool; and


A main home in the United States for more than half the year (the 50 states and the District of Columbia) or file a joint return with a spouse who has a main home in the United States for more than half the year; and

A qualifying child who is under age 18 at the end of 2021 and who has a valid Social Security number; and

Made less than certain income limits: households earning less than $75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for heads of households, and $150,000 for joint filers.

Warner and Kaine urge eligible Virginia families to make sure they receive their checks by visiting the IRS website to ensure they are enrolled. Most families who are eligible will not need to do anything to receive these payments; IRS will use the information they have on file to automatically deposit the funds into their bank account or through a mailed check.

If you believe you are eligible but have not filed a tax return for 2019 or 2020, please file your return or register for payments as a non-filer to automatically receive your monthly payment. For more information, click here.

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Legislative Update

Kaine Introduces legislation to support Direct Care Workforce & Family Caregivers

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On July 14, 2021, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, introduced the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act to authorize over $1 billion in supporting the direct care workforce and family caregivers. Given low wages and high turnover, the direct care workforce has long experienced staffing shortages. Now, with a growing number of older adults and people with disabilities in the U.S. and following the COVID-19 pandemic, investing in our direct care workforce and family caregivers to support people in their homes and communities is more important than ever before. The bill aligns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which calls for substantial investments to meet the growing demand for home and community-based services.

Currently, 4.5 million workers – including nearly 2.3 million home care workers – make up the direct care workforce, and this industry is expected to grow by more than a million jobs by 2028, not including the jobs that will need to be filled as existing workers leave the field or exit the labor force. Better pay and benefits, strategies to recruit and retain professionals in the field, education and training enhancements, and better career advancement opportunities are some investments needed to meet the demands of this workforce shortage.

The shortage of direct care workers often puts pressure on family caregivers. The number of American caregivers providing unpaid caregiving has increased over the past 5 years, and 23% of caregivers say that caregiving has made their health worse.

“Direct care workers and family caregivers provide critical support to older Americans, people with disabilities, and other individuals with chronic conditions,” said Senator Kaine. “Now more than ever, we must ensure they have the resources they need to continue their important work.”


 

“If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic lifted a veil and exposed how critically important America’s direct care workforce is for older Americans and people with disabilities who rely on them,” said Joseph Macbeth, President, and CEO of National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc. “The Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act will begin to address a decades-long failure in recruiting, training and educating, retaining, and advancing of direct care professionals and provide much-needed support for family caregivers. This legislation will help us build a stable, competent, and professional direct care workforce that supports millions of Americans to remain living at home and in their communities will go a long way in fulfilling the promises of the Olmstead Decision and the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Specifically, the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act would:

Direct the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration on Community Living (ACL), to award grants to states or other eligible entities for initiatives to build, retain, train, and otherwise promote the direct care workforce, including self-directed workers and direct care supervisors or managers, and to provide grants for states or other eligible entities for educational and training support for both paid and unpaid family caregivers.

Direct ACL to develop a center to offer technical assistance to grant awardees and other entities interested in direct care workforce development and in supporting family caregivers, aimed at collaboration across federal agencies. The assistance at the center includes:

Working with states, key stakeholders, and other interested entities to establish career development and advancement strategies for direct care professionals, which may include occupational frameworks, national standards, recruitment campaigns, pre-apprenticeship and on-the-job training opportunities, apprenticeship programs, career ladders or pathways, specializations or certifications, or other activities.

Exploring the national data gaps, workforce shortage areas, and data collection strategies for direct care professionals.

Developing recommendations for training and education curricula for direct care professionals and family caregivers.

Disseminating information and best practices from lessons learned through the grants.

To read the bill text for the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act, click here.

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) are original co-sponsors of the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act.

This legislation is supported by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the ARC of the United States, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, Inc. (NADSP), PHI, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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Legislative Update

Rep. Cline introduces bipartisan bill to increase opportunities for veterans

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Only July 16, 2021, Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) introduced H.R. 4433, the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2021. Cline was joined by Congressmen Lou Correa (D-CA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) in introducing this bill.

The Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2021 would allow veterans the opportunity to pursue their small business and entrepreneurial aspirations by giving them access to resources through the Small Business Administration and their GI Bill benefits. The key components of the Veteran Entrepreneurship Act are:

• The establishment of a 3-year pilot program overseen by the Administrator of the Small Business Administration that will enable up to 250 GI Bill benefit-eligible veterans to pursue an educational entrepreneurial training program

• The pilot program includes a thorough application process and requires participation in an approved entrepreneurial training program


• Veterans are required to develop a business plan to be approved by their training program advisor and the SBA’s Associate Administrator for Veterans Business Development

• The grant available to veterans participating in this pilot program may be equivalent to the GI Bill maximum amount of 36 months of educational assistance at the rate in effect for each veteran through the GI Bill benefit program

• If approved, the grant can be used by a veteran to open their own business or purchase a franchise

Rep. Ben Cline said, “Veterans face a daunting mission when they separate from service and transition into civilian life. Higher education is essential for many, but some have a different calling. Veterans are seeking more options and want the choice to use their GI Bill benefit to start their own business. It’s common sense to offer veterans a choice in accessing resources, training, and support to pursue the American dream to start a small business, create jobs and generate growth in our economy. I thank Congressmen Correa and Fortenberry for joining me in this effort to give back to those who have given so much in service to our country.”

Rep. Lou Correa said, “By helping veterans start businesses, we are investing in America’s best and brightest. When our service members transition into civilian life, they bring considerable skills and experiences with them. Each is a trained leader who has proven they can get things done in the most stressful environments. Veterans know how to manage risk on the battlefield. That’s what soldiers train to do. And that’s what a successful entrepreneur does — manage risk. Our veterans are uniquely capable of contributing to our communities. I’m proud to join with Rep. Ben Cline to introduce bipartisan legislation that invests in entrepreneur veterans and encourages them to pursue the American Dream.”

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry said, “Veteran-owned businesses represent nearly 10% of U.S. small businesses, employing more than five million Americans. I am pleased to support the reintroduction of the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act to give our veterans access to entrepreneurial training and capital through the use of their G.I. Bill benefits.”

Text of the bill can be found here.

 

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Legislative Update

Rep. Cline statement on Metropolitan Statistical Areas Population Criteria

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On July 14, 2021,  in response to a letter Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) co-authored to the Office of Management and Budget, the agency announced it is rescinding a proposed change to the population criteria used to designate Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).

As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, a Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Area is that of a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core. These designations are used in part to determine Federal funding levels and economic development opportunities.

Earlier this year, the Office of Management and Budget proposed raising the population criteria for Metropolitan Statistical Areas from 50,000 residents to 100,000 residents.

Had the Office of Management and Budget not rescinded this proposal, cities like Harrisonburg and Staunton would have lost their MSA designation, and thus would not qualify for higher levels of Federal funding.


“The proposal to change the population criteria for Metropolitan Statistical Areas would have hurt Sixth District localities, and I am pleased that the Office of Management and Budget acknowledged my concerns and reversed course,” Cline said. “The decision to maintain the 50,000 resident thresholds is a win for the people of Harrisonburg and Staunton, and I am proud to have played a part in ensuring this arbitrary proposal did not come to fruition.”

The Office of Management and Budget’s announcement can be found here.

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