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.
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.
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.
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.
Warner & Kaine announce $2 million in federal funding to expand access to substance use prevention & treatment in Luray and Tappahannock
On September 26, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2 million in federal funding for the Virginia Rural Health Association in Luray and the Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance in Tappahannock to expand access to substance use disorder treatment and prevention services. The funding for Luray was awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, and the funding for Tappahannock was awarded through HRSA’s Medication Assisted Treatment Access Program.
In a joint statement, Senator Warner and Kaine said, “The opioid and substance use crisis continues to have a devastating impact on Virginians across the Commonwealth, particularly in communities with limited access to treatment and preventive services. Every Virginian struggling with a substance use disorder deserves critical care and support, and we’re glad this funding will provide greater resources for them.”
The funding will be distributed as follows:
- $1,000,000 for the Virginia Rural Health Association to expand treatment and prevention services for substance use disorders
- $1,000,000 for the Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance to establish a new medication-assisted treatment access point that will provide medications and support services for individuals with opioid and substance use disorders
Warner and Kaine have long worked to address the opioid and substance use crisis that has impacted communities across Virginia. Last month, Warner and Kaine pressed the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for additional assistance to combat drug trafficking in the Appalachian region. In March 2021, Warner and Kaine voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, which provided Virginia with nearly $70 million in funding to bolster mental health and substance abuse programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, Kaine was critical in passing a comprehensive bill to address opioid and substance use disorder treatment and prevention. Kaine recently held a roundtable with community leaders in Harrisonburg about the need to provide more support and treatment for Virginians with substance use disorders.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – September 21, 2022
As Congress returned to Washington last week, Americans faced the impacts of one-party rule. The White House resumed its attempts to deceive the American people that inflation is no big deal, that the border is “secure,” and that Green New Deal anti-energy policies are not responsible for rising energy costs. Additionally, my colleagues and I continue to hold the Biden Administration accountable for undermining our military’s readiness because of their failed, unconstitutional policies, such as COVID vaccine mandates and canceling student loan debt. And I was proud to receive an award for my support of small businesses and met with VFW legislative representatives to hear about their priorities in helping Veterans. Lastly, this past week we paid tribute to the more than 81,500 American troops who remain missing from WWII to the Global War on Terror and every American war for freedom in between. We humbly honored those whose debt we can never repay. As the flag outside my Washington office indicates, “You Are Not Forgotten”.
Inflation Rages On, White House Parties
All across the Sixth District, inflation has pummeled the budgets of hardworking Virginians, largely caused by President Biden and House Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar spending spree. When President Biden took office in January ’21, inflation was 1.6%. Today, it is a shocking 8.3%. The result? Americans’ paychecks are shrinking as prices are rising: groceries +13.5%; electricity +15.8%; fuel oil +68.8%; gas +25.6.%; and rent +6.7%. Worse, a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showed that under the “Inflation Acceleration Act,” the debt will increase through 2026.
To help address this crisis, I have worked to push numerous pieces of legislation through the House to address inflation and rising energy prices. One example of this legislation is the American Energy Independence from Russia Act. This important bill includes strategies to encourage increased domestic production of crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas to offset Russian and foreign oil dependency, which would help bring down prices across the board and restore energy independence. In addition, my colleagues and I support a balanced budget that offers reasonable economic and fiscal policies, like keeping tax rates low, consolidating duplicate agencies, devolving responsibility over state programs, and implementing spending cuts to rescue this economy get our fiscal house in order.
“The Border is Secure,” Says VP Harris After 3.2 Million Illegal Crossings
The American people deserve the truth about President Biden’s historic border crisis. From day one, the Biden Administration’s disastrous open border and amnesty policies have made this crisis worse every single day, yet Biden is blind in seeing the chaos at our border. Americans should be outraged by his failed leadership. I’ve been to the southern border and one thing is clear – we need a border wall now. “Border Czar” Kamala Harris said, “the border is secure”. The only thing that’s secure is the cartels’ cash flow from Biden’s Border Crisis.
Fighting for Our Troops and Veterans
Our military is facing the lowest recruitment rates in history, and the Biden Administration is harming our military on multiple levels, from COVID vaccine mandates to student loan forgiveness.
Under Biden’s leadership, his military COVID vaccine mandate is set to kick out over 100,000 servicemembers, jeopardizing our military’s readiness. To address this threat to national security, my colleagues and I signed a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin demanding he ends this disastrous mandate and prioritize the readiness of America’s Armed Forces. Read more here.
Further, the promise of the GI Bill for military service is one of the top reasons individuals join the military. Ending this incentive, at a time when the Armed Services are failing to meet their recruiting goals, will potentially have a detrimental impact on military readiness, and on our Nation’s ability to fight wars and protect the homeland. That’s why I signed a letter with Congressman Pat Fallon (R-PA) and our colleagues to President Biden seeking answers on how cancelling student loan debt will impact military recruitment. Read more here.
Additionally, this week, I was proud to join my colleagues in supporting, in a bipartisan manner, legislation to care for our Veterans. The related bills that passed the House include:
-H.R. 7939 – Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act of 2022, enhances the portability of professional licenses of servicemembers and their spouses, which helps ease the unemployment rate of military spouses that is currently triple the national rate.
-H.R. 7846 – Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2022, would increase the amounts paid for certain Veterans disability benefits by the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) used to determine changes to Social Security benefits.
-H.R. 7735 – Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Benefit Act of 2022, directs the VA to update regulations regarding appraisals for VA home loans with the goal of decreasing the time it takes for a VA home loan to be finalized.
-H.R. 5916 – Wounded Warrior Access Act, directs the VA to establish and maintain a website to enable a claimant or their representative to make records requests related to VA claims and benefits.
-H.R. 8260 – Faster Payments to Veterans’ Survivors Act of 2022, shortens the timeframe in which the VA must pay insurance benefits to an alternative beneficiary.
Source: Department of Defense
Pictures from Washington
Last week in Virginia there was an average of 21 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, up from 20 last week. This week’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 17%, down from 22% last week. For more information, click here.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
Rep. Price and Senator Warner applaud passage of the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act
WASHINGTON, DC (September 21, 2022) —Today, Congressman David Price (D-NC), and Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) commend the passage of their bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, which will now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
“I introduced this bill in direct response to a constituent’s experience with a joint consolidation loan for which he remained wholly responsible for after a divorce. I am delighted by the passage of this common-sense bill that will bring immense relief to borrowers who are victims of abusive or uncommunicative spouses,” said Congressman David Price. “For decades, these borrowers have been trapped, with no legal options available, and this bill will give them the ability to regain their financial freedom. I look forward to this bill arriving on the President’s desk and delivering for America’s federal student debt borrowers.”
“For too long, individuals have been tied to abusive or unresponsive ex-partners through joint student loans,” said Senator Warner. “This legislation offers financial freedom to those who have spent decades unfairly held liable for their former partner’s debt. I am thrilled to see the House of Representatives pass this legislation and look forward to getting it in front of President Biden as quickly as possible to start offering relief to borrowers.”
From January 1, 1993, until June 30, 2006, married couples could combine their student loan debt into joint consolidation loans. Both borrowers agreed at the time to be jointly liable for repayment, which proved problematic if they wanted to separate the loans. Congress eliminated the joint consolidation program effective July 1, 2006, but did not provide a means of severing existing loans, even in cases of domestic violence, economic abuse, or an unresponsive partner. As a result, some borrowers nationwide remain liable for this consolidated debt without legal options for relief.
The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation (JCLS) Act would allow both borrowers to submit a joint application to the Department of Education (ED) to split their joint consolidated loan into two separate federal direct loans. It would also allow one borrower to submit a separate application if they are experiencing domestic or economic abuse or cannot reasonably reach the other borrower. The remainder of the joint consolidated loan will be split proportionally.
While the universe of borrowers still making payments on a joint consolidation loan is relatively small, this legislation would greatly benefit the individual borrowers who are most in need of relief (including victims of abuse and those who are unable to get in touch with their ex-spouse).
This bill has the support of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Consumer Law Center, American Federation of Teachers, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. This bill was included in the Education and Labor Committee’s Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization during the last two Congresses.
Warner & Kaine secure nearly $135 million for Virginia in Senate FY2023 budget bills
WASHINGTON, D.C. —On September 13, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced that they successfully secured nearly $135 million in federal funding for Virginia in pending government funding bills for the Fiscal Year 2023, as the latest text of the bills was recently unveiled by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The next step for the legislation is markup and advancement by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is expected later this year, followed by Senate floor consideration.
“I’m proud to have worked to secure these investments for communities all throughout Virginia,” said Warner. “By propelling impactful local projects, these dedicated federal dollars will further build on the progress we’ve made through the bipartisan infrastructure law and the many rounds of COVID-19 relief funding authorized by Congress. I look forward to seeing these diverse projects generate jobs, support Virginia’s tourism economy, make neighborhoods safer, and bring communities together.”
“The annual budget is always an important opportunity to fight for Virginia priorities and America’s leadership worldwide—and I’m pleased with how that effort is shaping up for the upcoming Fiscal Year,” said Kaine. “I will keep fighting to keep the many critical components of these bills intact as we get this budget across the finish line—from keeping Virginia communities safe from gun violence, COVID, and future health crises; to addressing food insecurity and the root causes of migration.”
As part of last year’s budget process, the Senate revived a process allowing Congress members to make Congressionally Directed Spending requests, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects.
Through strong advocacy, the senators secured—and will fight to keep—Congressionally Directed Spending dollars in the funding bills for the following projects in Virginia:
- For projects in Northern Virginia, click here.
- For projects in Central Virginia, click here.
- For projects in Southwest Virginia and Southside, click here.
- For projects in the Shenandoah Valley, click here.
- For projects in Hampton Roads, click here.
- For projects that impact communities in multiple regions across the Commonwealth, click here.
In addition, should they be passed as-is, the budget bills include funding for the following Warner and Kaine priorities:
Boosting Local Economies: Includes $200 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and $7 million for the Southwest Crescent Regional Commission to support their work to build economic partnerships, create opportunity, and foster economic development.
Strengthening Transportation and Recreation Infrastructure: Provides $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and $25 million for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which supports multi-purpose trails.
Making Our Communities Safer: Provides $50 million for Community Violence Prevention grants to support communities in developing comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs, including efforts to address gang and gun violence, based on partnerships between community residents, law enforcement, local government agencies, and other community stakeholders.
Support for Missing Persons Program: Includes $1 million to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. In 2018, Warner secured unanimous Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, legislation that created a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18-64. The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018.
Addressing Gun Violence: Provides $100 million for new violence intervention programs to prevent mass casualty or gang-related gun violence. Additionally, provides $60 million—a $30 million increase compared to Fiscal Year 2022—to support research into effective ways to prevent firearm-related injuries.
Fighting Hunger: Includes over $2 billion to combat global hunger and malnutrition, following Kaine’s emphasis on the threat Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses to food security worldwide and Warner’s successful efforts to support non-governmental organizations responding to the food crisis.
Fighting COVID: Includes $16 billion in funding for the procurement of additional COVID vaccines and therapeutics and to support the development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics that could better protect Virginians against new COVID variants.
Addressing Americans’ Long COVID Needs: Includes $15 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to provide the research needed to ensure those experiencing long COVID have access to the patient-centered, coordinated care they need; address disparities in diagnosis and treatment of long COVID; and identify treatments for the condition. Also provides the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with $25 million to continue studying long COVID. Both of these efforts were first outlined in Senator Kaine’s CARE for Long COVID Act.
Supporting Health Care Providers: Includes $30 million further to implement the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Act, legislation Kaine wrote and named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a physician from Charlottesville who was working on the front lines of the pandemic in New York and died by suicide in the spring of 2020. The resources will go toward comprehensive and evidence-based support to prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care providers. Kaine led a bipartisan push to include this funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
Addressing the Maternal Mortality Crisis: Includes $496 million—an increase of $304 million above Fiscal Year 2022 funding—for the Maternal Mortality Initiative, following a bipartisan push led by Kaine for funding to prevent maternal deaths, eliminate inequities in maternal health outcomes, and improve maternal health.
Pandemic Preparedness: Includes $10.5 billion in non-emergency funding for global health—a $680 million increase compared to the Fiscal Year 2022—and $5 billion to support national COVID vaccination campaigns in countries with low vaccination rates. This funding is critical to protecting Americans from the impacts of disease outbreaks worldwide.
Modernizing America’s Health Data Infrastructure: Includes $200 million—an increase of $100 million compared to the Fiscal Year 2022—to modernize the public health data systems that help support healthy communities throughout America. Kaine, who pushed for this funding, also crafted the Improving Data Accessibility Through Advancements (DATA) in Public Health Act, legislation to increase timely and accurate information sharing between local, state, and federal public health departments to improve our preparedness and response to emerging public health threats.
Increasing Funding for Pediatric Research: Provides $12.6 million to fund further the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act—legislation championed by Warner and Kaine and named after a child from Loudoun County who died from a brain tumor in 2013.
Reducing Tobacco Use: Includes $20 million in funding to support the CDC, states, and territories’ continued efforts to reduce tobacco use among disparate populations and regions with high tobacco prevalence and mortality and to expand the highly successful and cost-effective Tips from Former Smokers media campaign. The investment follows a successful bipartisan push by Kaine to raise the tobacco age from 18 to 21 and a push to ensure that the Food and Drug Administration could regulate synthetic nicotine.
Addressing the Root Causes of Migration: Provides resources for diverse programs to help improve the conditions that drive migration from Central America, including programs focused on counter-narcotics efforts and economic development.
Expanding High-Speed Internet Access: Includes $400 million for the USDA’s ReConnect Program to expand access to high-speed broadband to remote, underserved areas. Warner and Kaine have been vocal advocates for expanding broadband. As Governors and Senators, Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding broadband access in Virginia. During the pandemic, they secured significant funding for broadband through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Warner and Kaine also joined a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership requesting this funding earlier this year. Warner also secured billions of dollars for broadband expansion in the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Increasing Military Pay and Compensation: Includes $1.5 billion to fund a 4.6 percent pay raise for servicemembers fully. Also includes roughly $1.5 billion in additional funding for compensation to help with rising costs and $373 million for several military family support programs. Warner, who pushed for this funding, has long stressed the need for increased support for servicemembers through legislation such as the Military Hunger Prevention Act, which helps low-income military families put food on the table.
Economic Support for Underserved Communities: Provides $324 million for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institution Fund. Warner, who requested this funding, has led efforts in Congress to support CDFIs through legislation, including the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act and the creation of the bipartisan Senate Community Development Finance Caucus.
Addressing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Delays and Customer Service Issues: Includes $310 Million for the IRS, which will enable IRS to continue to update ancient computer systems, improve customer service, and reduce wait times for refunds and other services. Warner and Kaine have consistently pushed the IRS to address poor customer service and severe delays within the department.
Support for Miners: Includes $11.845 million for Black Lung Clinics. Warner and Kaine have actively worked to secure benefits for miners and their families suffering from black lung disease. In August, the Inflation Reduction Act, supported by both Warner and Kaine, permanently extended the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits.
In addition to battling for these priorities, the Senators will work to ensure that funds obtained by Virginia House members also remain in the ultimate budget package.
Warner & Kaine celebrate Inflation Reduction Act becoming law
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law:
“We’re proud that this law will lower the price of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, bring down energy bills and fight climate change. We’re also glad that it will help ensure that miners suffering from black lung and their families get the care and benefits they deserve. We will continue to look for ways to support the health and well-being of our communities, decrease inflation, and lower costs for Virginians.”
Below are some of the ways the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit Virginians:
Lower Prescription Drug Costs
- The law allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities—a provision Warner and Kaine have long fought to pass to lower prescription drug costs.
- The law establishes a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for seniors covered under Medicare Part D. In 2020, more than 36,000 Virginians with Medicare Part D spent more than $2,000 out-of-pocket on their prescription drugs.
- The law expands the Low-Income Subsidy program, a program that currently helps cover prescription drug costs for over 11,000 low-income Virginians with Medicare.
- The law provides free coverage for vaccines under Medicare Part D and improves access to vaccines under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In 2020, nearly 85,000 Virginians received a vaccine covered under Medicare Part D.
Affordable Health Care
- During the pandemic, Congress enhanced subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help lower health care premiums for millions of Americans. The Inflation Reduction Act will extend these enhanced subsidies for three years through 2025 to help make Virginians’ health insurance more affordable. Over 300,000 Virginians have ACA coverage in 2022.
- The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that Virginians with ACA insurance would have seen a $71 increase in their monthly premiums for the next coverage year if these subsidies weren’t extended.
Black Lung Benefits
- The law permanently extends the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits. In Virginia, thousands of miners and their families have received benefits through the trust fund since it was established, including approximately 2,600 Virginians last year alone.
Clean Energy and Climate Provisions
- The law will reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
- The law incentivizes investment in and production of renewable energy technologies like solar power and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. The Inflation Reduction Act expands the 48C investment tax credit for clean energy manufacturers, with $4 billion reserved for use exclusively in coal communities. All clean energy tax credits include a bonus for meeting domestic manufacturing requirements related to steel, iron, or other manufactured components. The law also expands tax credits for residential clean energy and home efficiency improvements.
- According to a recent analysis, the clean energy provisions are expected to create nearly 1 million jobs per year.
- The law includes tax credits for clean medium and heavy duty trucks, such as those produced at the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant.
- The law includes a $7,500 consumer credit for the purchase of new electric vehicles and incentivizes that vehicles are produced in North America.
- The law includes $9.7 billion for financial assistance to rural electric cooperatives to improve resilience and affordability.
- The law includes $2 billion for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program to provide competitive grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.
- The law includes $20 billion to help farmers and ranchers adopt agriculture conservation practices that improve landscape resilience.
- The law takes steps to make sure that the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, without increasing taxes on small businesses or families making less than $400,000 a year.
- The law also provides funding to modernize Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systems and improve customer service when paying taxes. This will help ensure the IRS has the resources it needs to process tax returns quickly, get rebates to taxpayers faster, and address challenges Americans have when filing taxes.
Warner & Kaine announce more than $2.1 million in funding to address COVID-19 in rural Virginia communities
On August 12, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,124,300 in emergency rural health care funding to bolster federal support in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be provided to the Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, Tazewell Community Hospital in Tazewell, and Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap. This funding was awarded through the Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“As Virginia communities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we provide resources to help protect Virginians,” said the Senators. “That’s why we are pleased to see these grants go towards COVID vaccination and testing, telehealth and food assistance services, ventilation systems, and financial aid.”
The funding will be awarded as below:
- $36,800 for Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, VA, to provide COVID-19 testing kits, rapid testing supplies, and vaccinations, as well as additional staffing to meet the needs of the rural counties served. This investment will benefit approximately 27,350 residents.
- $1,000,000 for Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, VA, to purchase telehealth, remote monitoring systems, COVID testing, a mobile clinic, and food assistance. In addition, the funds will be used to train current nursing staff. This project aims to connect rural patients to Valley Health telehealth services and Page County internet infrastructure. This project will benefit approximately 24,042 residents.
- $335,000 for Carilion Clinic (Tazewell Community Hospital) in Tazewell, VA, to upgrade the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The HVAC system will follow the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 operational protocols for health care and will service the lab and patient care areas, as the current HVAC system is old and unreliable. This investment will benefit approximately 45,078 residents.
- $752,500 for Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap, VA, to replace lost health care revenue and help with financial difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will benefit approximately 70,997 residents.
The USDA’s Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program is designed to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, rural health care services, and food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities.
Senators Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for rural communities and health care access in the Commonwealth. Last year, both Senators helped pass the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief bill that provided $20 billion to improve vaccine distribution, $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to procure essential medical equipment, and $50 billion for virus testing, genomic sequencing to detect new variants, contract tracing, and additional PPE. Additionally, Senator Warner introduced legislation, cosponsored by Senator Kaine, to expand telehealth services through Medicare, connecting patients to doctors and cutting costs for patients and providers. Senator Kaine also introduced legislation to expand health care to rural areas through telehealth as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019. The bill was passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.