On this day 50 years ago, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and spoke words heard around the world. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The years since Apollo 11’s crew touched down on the moon, America has led the world’s powers in space exploration. Our men and women in space have launched the world’s most powerful telescopes, satellites, and conducted experiments which have opened the eyes of scientists and non-scientists alike. We have even worked across borders to build the International Space Station.
President John F. Kennedy said in 1962, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” He knew the challenges America faced. Russia was advancing in a space race that had a lot at stake and yet he challenged our country’s engineers and scientists to achieve the impossible.
We live in a time where we have the world available in the palm of our hands, but many people forget that just half a century ago computers were not commonplace. The computing power necessary to put the Apollo 11 crew was unfathomable to the typical American in 1969, and yet the engineers at NASA met the challenge.
We should all be inspired by the accomplishments of the Apollo 11 crew and the scientists and engineers who worked on the mission. When met with the impossible, they found ways to make it happen. It is something we should work toward today. In Congress, we are also faced with seemingly impossible odds of reducing the national debt, reforming healthcare, addressing our nation’s immigration crisis, and defending our homeland and allies around the world. Oftentimes, Members of Congress have chosen to simply kick the can down the road. When I took office in January, it was during the longest government shutdown in history. Even today, Members of Congress refuse to fund a permanent boundary along the U.S.-Mexico border while the number of illegal crossings and detentions continues to rise.
The political fights have also continued in the months since the government re-opened. Disagreements persist over how to address the crisis at the Southern border and out-of-control government spending which will leave future generations paying the tab. In addition, partisan politics involving the President boiled over this week in the form of resolutions attempting to impeach him and condemning his “Tweets” on social media. I voted against both resolutions because these types of political attacks distract from the serious policy issues that are facing our country. However, I remain inspired by the men and women of Apollo 11 and the NASA program. Just as they put Neil Armstrong on the moon 50 years ago today, I believe Congress can come together to address America’s most pressing issues. It will take a lot of hard work and many difficult votes, but I am willing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help the American people achieve greatness. I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate will join me as we set forth on this journey of fixing our government and performing work of which the American people can be proud.
Highland County Town Hall
On Monday, I will host a town hall in Highland County. This town hall event is an opportunity for residents of Highland County to engage in a dialogue about important issues in the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia.
The town hall will take place Monday, July 22, from 1 – 2:30 p.m. at the Highland County Courthouse, 165 West Main Street, Monterey, VA 24465. Residents may RSVP to attend the town hall by visiting https://highlandcounty.eventbrite.com and clicking the “Register” button.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – November 26, 2021
While I was home in the beautiful Sixth District this week spending time with friends and family for Thanksgiving, my work on behalf of constituents continued. Legislatively, I cosponsored a resolution to protect the rights of parents to get involved in their children’s education, as well as joined nearly 100 of my Republican colleagues in introducing a bill to protect the rights of health care providers who refuse to participate in an abortion. I also took action to stand in defense of the Second Amendment by writing to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to express my outrage regarding a proposed federal gun registry. Further, as the border crisis rages on, my colleagues and I voiced our anger to President Biden regarding his Administration’s failure to reimplement the Remain in Mexico Policy as it had been ordered to do by a federal judge. Finally, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit several manufacturing facilities in the District and discuss the legislative process with AP Government students. It was a productive few days here at home, and I hope all families across our region had a happy and healthy holiday.
Parents Bill of Rights:
Parents want what’s best for their children and have become more involved in the direction and topics their kids are being taught in school. Unfortunately, these efforts are being met with resistance and hostility at the local and now federal levels. Elected officials and teachers’ unions want to dictate how and what our children should be taught in classrooms. We saw it when school districts worked to keep our schools closed for months on end despite the evidence showing they could open safely. We saw it when President Biden’s Department of Justice targeted parents for speaking up at school board meetings at the behest of an interest group that labeled concerned parents as “domestic terrorists.”
That is why I recently cosponsored the Parents Bill of Rights. This resolution will protect parental involvement by reinforcing their right to be heard, their right to see curriculums, and their right to be updated on any violent activity that happens on their children’s campus. America’s parents should never be made to feel powerless – they should be empowered and protected when it comes to influencing their own children’s education.
Protecting the Second Amendment:
Whether in Richmond or Washington, I have always been a staunch defender of the Second Amendment. That is why this week I joined my colleagues in writing to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to express my outrage about a proposed rule that would allow the agency to create a permanent database to track all lawful firearm sales. This would essentially serve as a federal gun registry, the creation of which has previously been prohibited by Congressional action. According to recently published documents, the ATF has already collected 54.7 million records in FY 2021 alone. It is an outrage that the federal government would maintain such extensive records of law-abiding citizens’ firearm transfers. This proposed rule is an affront to the Second Amendment and to the American people, and I will work to oppose it going into effect. To read the full letter, click here.
Securing our Border:
Since President Biden was sworn in, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has encountered more than 1.4 million illegal aliens unlawfully crossing the border. This number includes over 126,000 unaccompanied alien children and more than 450,000 aliens as part of alleged family units. However, this number does not include the estimated 300,000-400,000 aliens who were not stopped by the Border Patrol and have made their way into the heart of the country.
One of the many factors contributing to this crisis is the Biden Administration’s suspension of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as the Remain in Mexico Program. MPP is a program implemented by the Trump Administration that required certain aliens entering or seeking to enter the United States from Mexico to remain outside of the United States for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Therefore, MPP essentially ended “catch and release” by requiring aliens to wait outside of the United States instead of being released into the interior of the country. While the program was suspended when this Administration came to power, on August 13, 2021, Judge Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith[.]” Despite this ruling, DHS has failed to do so. Therefore, my colleagues and I wrote to the President demanding answers as to when his Administration plans to reimplement MPP in accordance with the federal judge’s ruling. We must secure our border to protect Americans and MPP works toward accomplishing that goal. The full letter can be found here.
Standing for Life:
Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have fought to advance pro-life legislation, and I will continue to be a voice for the voiceless here in Washington. To that end, I joined 100 of my Republican colleagues in reintroducing the Conscience Protection Act. This legislation upholds one of the most sincere fundamental American principles, which is the freedom of religion and conscience. This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to prevent any federal, state or local government from penalizing or discriminating against a health care professional if the provider refuses to participate in an abortion. No medical professional should be at risk of losing their license and job for upholding their oath to “do no harm.” This bill also ensures those whose conscience protection has been violated will be able to seek justice in court. I will continue to advocate for legislation that protects life and those who support it.
I always enjoy traveling throughout our region meeting with constituents and businesses. This week I had the pleasure of touring various manufacturing facilities and hearing from students during a “Take Your Legislator to School” event.
“We ordain that this day of our ships arrival, at the place assigned for plantation, in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
The above prayer was recited on December 4, 1619, not in Plymouth, Massachusetts but at Berkley Plantation, Virginia just over a year before the meal in Plymouth took place. The settlers who landed at Berkley were a small religious-minded group who decided that annually they would celebrate their successful and safe voyage from England with prayer.
This thousand-acre property, in what is modern-day Charles City County, Virginia, is the sight of the true first English Thanksgiving in the New World. When President John F. Kennedy issued the Thanksgiving proclamation in 1962, he failed to acknowledge Virginia’s role in establishing the holiday. After hearing from a Virginia Senator, Kennedy acknowledged that “over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and Massachusetts, far from home, in a lonely wilderness set aside a time of Thanksgiving.”
While the past year and a half have been difficult, this week we give thanks for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our country and its people. From my family to yours, I wish everyone across the Sixth District a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
This week in Virginia there was an average of 18.7 cases of COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents. This is up from an average of 16.8 cases from one week prior. This week’s positivity rate was 6.2%, the same as the week prior. 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.
Front Royal-Warren County Airport receives $790,000 in funding from infrastructure deal signed into law last week
On the busiest air travel day of the year, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that airports in Virginia are expected to receive $399,740,660 in federal funds over the next five years as a result of the bipartisan infrastructure deal signed into law last week.
The funding will be distributed to Virginia airports over five years as follows:
• Washington Dulles International: $120,399,725
• Ronald Reagan Washington National: $116,734,485
• Richmond International: $35,608,215
• Norfolk International: $33,098,390
• Charlottesville-Albemarle: $15,444,835
• Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional: $14,977,645
• Newport News/Williamsburg International: $10,194,005
• Lynchburg Regional/Preston Glenn Field: $6,497,230
• Shenandoah Valley Regional: $5,066,130
• Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field: $3,735,000
• Leesburg Executive: $3,735,000
• Virginia Highlands: $1,480,000
• Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive: $1,480,000
• Culpeper Regional: $1,480,000
• Danville Regional: $1,480,000
• New River Valley: $1,480,000
• Blue Ridge: $1,480,000
• Chesapeake Regional: $1,480,000
• Hampton Roads Executive: $1,480,000
• Richmond Executive-Chesterfield County: $1,480,000
• Hanover County Municipal: $1,480,000
• Warrenton-Fauquier: $1,480,000
• Winchester Regional: $1,480,000
• Franklin Regional: $790,000
• Front Royal-Warren County: $790,000
• Twin County: $790,000
• Louisa County/Freeman Field: $790,000
• Luray Caverns: $790,000
• Mountain Empire: $790,000
• Accomack County: $790,000
• Orange County: $790,000
• Dinwiddie County: $790,000
• New Kent County: $790,000
• William M. Tuck: $790,000
• Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional: $790,000
• Stafford Regional: $790,000
• Suffolk Executive: $790,000
• Tappahannock-Essex County: $790,000
• Middle Peninsula Regional: $790,000
• Emporia-Greensville Regional: $550,000
• Farmville Regional: $550,000
• Ingalls Field: $550,000
• Lee County: $550,000
• Tazewell County: $550,000
• Tangier Island: $550,000
• Lonesome Pine: $550,000
• Brookneal/Campbell County: $550,000
The funding represents Virginia’s share of $15 billion in direct grants to airports expected around the country as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a bipartisan, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness that was negotiated by Sen. Warner and strongly supported by Sen. Kaine.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – November 23, 2021
After months of Democrat infighting and strong-arming by Speaker Pelosi, the House passed the President’s “Build Back Bankrupt” reconciliation bill this week. Rather than working to stabilize our economy and drive costs down, this partisan $1.75 trillion tax and spend bill prioritizes the Green New Deal, grants amnesty for illegal immigrants, creates 150 new government programs, and weaponizes the IRS – all the while raising taxes on families and businesses. I voted against this legislation because it would be disastrous for our Nation.
We also learned this week that the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice lied when it said they were not monitoring parents who spoke up at school board meetings. A whistleblower came forward and we now know the FBI was not only using anti-terror tools to track parents, but they were also being labeled with “threat tags.” This is highly inappropriate, and I spoke out against this injustice. I also continue to take action against another form of government overreach – federal vaccine mandates. While I encourage folks to get the vaccine at their discretion, no one should be forced to choose between a shot and their job. I remain committed to advocating for the rights of the residents of the Sixth District.
Additionally, I appreciated the opportunity to connect with various constituents this week while I traveled throughout the area attending several events and touring local businesses. Further, I was pleased to honor the life of Bernard Marie, who spent decades promoting the welfare of WWII Veterans. And finally, I enjoyed hearing from college and university presidents from throughout the District to discuss issues relating to higher education. It was a busy week both at home and here in Washington, but I am always grateful for the opportunity to serve as your representative in Congress.
Build Back Bankrupt:
I voted against the Democrats’ bloated Budget Reconciliation bill this week because it would destroy our economic recovery and harm our Nation’s fiscal health. From the grocery store to the gas station, folks are paying more for goods and services. As inflation rates hit a 31-year high, families have seen their paychecks lose their purchasing power since President Biden took office. And while this Administration claims that inflation is just a “high-class problem,” middle- and low-income Americans are the ones truly hurting. Biden has already admitted that his previous $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” is largely responsible for the current rising costs, but that didn’t stop Nancy Pelosi and the far-Left from ramming another bloated, multi-trillion-dollar tax and spend spree through the House this week.
Spending trillions of dollars on programs we do not need with money we do not have is the picture of poor governance. Propping up the Green New Deal won’t solve the economic crisis. Weaponizing the IRS against Americans won’t lower inflation. Giving amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants won’t make filling up at the gas pump hurt less. Creating 150 new government programs won’t help put goods back on store shelves. And leveling crippling tax hikes on American families and businesses takes money out of people’s pockets. Further, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed just hours before the vote what we already knew – the bill is not paid for and would add more than $367 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. With the national debt nearing $29 trillion, we can’t afford Nancy Pelosi and President Biden’s trillion-dollar “Build Back Bankrupt” bill.
DOJ Targeting Parents:
Being a parent is a sacred responsibility, and every parent simply wants what’s best for their kids. That’s why over the past year we saw parents speak up at local school board meetings all across the country. Whether it was pushing back against the radical teaching of Critical Race Theory or voicing their opposition to COVID lockdowns, parents were standing up for their kids.
However, the National School Board Association (NSBA) deemed people exercising their First Amendment rights as domestic terrorists, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) used this narrative to launch investigations into parents. Disturbingly, this week, we even learned from a whistleblower that the FBI was using anti-terror tools to monitor parents and adding “threat tags” to files to track them. This is absurd, and we should never criminalize parents for speaking up for their children. To make matters worse, we now know the Attorney General lied under oath when he said there was no coordination between the DOJ and the NSBA. This Administration has weaponized the DOJ for political gain and has chosen to stand with teachers’ unions over parents and students. These actions are tyrannical, and Congress must know the extent to which parents were spied on.
Opposing Federal Vaccine Mandates:
Businesses across the country are desperate for workers, and our Nation is facing a critical supply chain shortage. As grocery store shelves sit empty, and communities struggle to recover, President Biden should be doing everything possible to encourage Americans to show up to work. Instead, it is the Administration’s plan to implement a vaccine mandate that would force millions of Americans out of work. The Federal government should not be mandating vaccines on American citizens and threatening the jobs of folks who don’t comply is simply wrong. That is why I have taken several actions to protect the rights of citizens across this country. Below are several pieces of legislation I have cosponsored on the matter.
HR 5860 – Keeping Our COVID19 HEROES Employed Act
This bill would exempt essential workers from COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by the federal government, a public or private federal contractor, a private entity receiving federal funds, or a private entity receiving COVID-19 relief funds appropriated by Congress.
HR 3860 – Military COVID Vaccine
This bill would prohibit the use of federal funds to require a member of the Armed Forces to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The bill also prohibits adverse action (e.g., punishment) being taken against a member of the Armed Forces because the member refuses to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
HR 5892 – Our Veterans Earned It Act
This bill would ensure that no service member loses their VA benefits for choosing not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
HJ Res 65 – Congressional Review Act Resolution
This resolution would nullify OSHA’s emergency temporary standard mandating vaccines for private-sector employers.
HR 5811 – No Vaccine Mandate Act
Amends the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2022 to prohibit the use of funds related to any rule requiring a COVID-19 vaccination.
Higher Education Roundtable:
Virginia’s Sixth District is home to more institutions of higher education than nearly any other district in the country. With more than 20 colleges and universities within our borders, students from across the United States flock to the Sixth District to pursue their education. For this reason, it is critically important that I foster an open dialogue between myself and our region’s schools to ensure that I am best representing their and our students’ interests in Congress. That is why I hosted my Third Annual Higher Education Roundtable, which was attended by representatives from eight schools throughout the District. We discussed a wide array of topics ranging from college affordability, 21st-century learning, and of course, how their institutions have adapted to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a thorough and thoughtful conversation, and I hope to continue these sorts of productive forums in the future.
Honoring Bernard Marie:
This week I honored the life and legacy of Bernard Marie, who recently passed away at the age of 82. As a young five-year-old living in Normandy, France, Marie often told the story of being rushed into his home’s basement by his grandparents in the early morning of June 6th, 1944. It was there his family sat for 16 hours in the dark without food or water before his mother emerged from the cellar to hug an American GI after realizing their village had finally been liberated from German occupation. Marie said that witnessing the D-Day invasion instilled in him a lifelong respect for World War II Veterans, and he was forever grateful to those who secured his country’s freedom.
Later in life when he moved to the United States, he began hosting an annual luncheon to honor local World War II Veterans wherever he was living to show his support for them and their families. When he settled in Roanoke in 2001, he brought the event with him. These luncheons served as a place for Veterans to come together and share their experiences – some for the first time. Aside from the luncheon, Marie helped raise money for the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, sat by the bedside of service members when they were ill, and even worked to award the French Legion of Honor medal to nearly 150 American Veterans. He said that his goal was not only to honor these heroes but to ensure they were never forgotten. Marie meant a great deal to our community, and he will not soon be forgotten.
I always enjoy traveling throughout our region meeting with constituents and businesses. This week I had the pleasure of touring various manufacturing facilities, hearing from students during “Take Your Legislator to School” events, and hearing about the good work happening at an advocacy center.
This week in Virginia there was an average of 16.8 cases of COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents. This is up from an average of 15.9 cases from one week prior. This week’s positivity rate was 6.2% compared to last week’s 6.4%. 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.
Warner Weekly Wrap-Up: It’s Finally Infrastructure Week
From the Warner press office! Congress celebrated some big wins this week: First, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Monday.
In addition, early on Friday the House took another monumental step towards advancing President Biden’s agenda by passing the $1.9 trillion Build Back Better Act.
Also this week, the Senate voted to advance the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the floor. Sen. Warner is championing multiple provisions in the bill that will help military families.
Without further ado, here is this week’s wrap-up:
On Monday, Sen. Warner joined a bipartisan group of colleagues at the White House to witness President Biden sign into law historic infrastructure legislation that makes once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s communities.
Following the signing, Sens. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) celebrated the accomplishment, saying:
“It’s with great pride that we applaud President Biden’s signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – a historic law that will bring critically-overdue funding into our communities and create a new generation of good-paying American jobs. The investments made possible by this law will bring Virginia’s infrastructure into the twenty-first century by fixing crumbling roadways, bolstering public transit systems, bridging the broadband gap, and strengthening our coastal resiliency. As former governors of Virginia, we know that getting a bill signed into law is only the beginning, and we’ll be working with folks on the ground to ensure this bill is implemented quickly and efficiently.”
Sen. Warner highlighted what this law means for Virginians on his social media throughout the week:
Earlier this week, the Senate advanced debate on the nation’s annual defense budget. Sen. Warner is advocating for measures that will give servicemembers and their families the support they deserve by proposing several amendments to the bill aimed at addressing major problems experienced by members of the military, including food insecurity, poor housing conditions, and access to quality health care.
In response to a 2021 survey by the Military Family Advisory, which found that one in five members of our military reported experiencing food insecurity, Sen. Warner is pushing for multiple provisions to be included in this year’s NDAA that would direct relevant agencies to review and oversee the problem of food insecurity among our ranks.
In addition, he is fighting for a provision that would create a pilot program at nine commissaries across the country. This program would allow the DoD to offer food boxes full of fresh produce to service members facing food insecurity.
Sen. Warner is also advocating for provisions to address poor housing conditions for service members, including accountability around privatized military housing.
Explaining the importance of these measures Sen. Warner explained:
“The brave men and women who serve in our military should never have to worry about putting food on the table, about having a safe place to live, or about being able to access the timely and quality health care they have earned. That’s why I’m proud to introduce these amendments to our nation’s annual defense bill to further protect military families in Virginia and around the country.”
JOB WELL DONE: Sens. Warner, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Jon Tester (D-MT) issued a statement after the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law.
NOT TOLERATED: Sen. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement after the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges Thursday against two Iranians and the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against six Iranian individuals and one Iranian entity for attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
COMMUNITY EFFORT: Sens. Warner and Kaine announced $718,750 in federal funding from the Department of Justice through the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) COPS Hiring Program (CHP).
When the Senate returns after Thanksgiving, it will continue work on NDAA and take up debate on the Build Back Better Act, passed today by the House. Senator Warner will also continue working with his colleagues to fund the government past the current December 3rd deadline and raise the debt limit past the current December 15th “X Date”.
Amanda Chase seeking the Republican nomination for the 7th Congressional District
This morning at 7:05 am, Senator Amanda Chase made an announcement on the John Reid Morning Show and at 9:05 am on the John Fredericks Show that she is officially seeking the Republican nomination for the 7th Congressional District to challenge current Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger.
“We Virginians have suffered from the failed leadership and liberal agenda sweeping our Commonwealth for the last several years and we need to take back the 7th District. We need a proven, experienced leader with a backbone and a demonstrated record we can trust, and who we know will actually do what they say; stand up for the people. We need a representative who will be more than just a placeholder. I will continue to be a strong voice for the people and will continue to push back against the far-left’s extreme agenda. As a 2nd term Virginia State Senator I have a proven 7-year conservative voting record you can trust.”
“If you believe in our Constitutional Freedoms, our First Amendment Rights, our Second Amendment Rights, if you are supporters for faith & liberty and believe that Virginians deserve to live in a state of prosperity without the government controlling their lives, please support me in this congressional race.”
“I’m fighting for “We The People.” As such, this is a grassroots campaign and my financial backing will come from people just like you, who don’t typically give to political campaigns. The lobbyists and political action committees know that I work for you, not them. Will you please give your most generous donation today so that I can be your voice in Congress?”
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – November 14, 2021
Honoring our Nation’s Veterans
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns of World War I finally fell silent, and the armistice with Germany went into effect. Out of the ashes of this day rose what was originally called Armistice Day, but since 1954 has been recognized and set aside as Veterans Day.
As we celebrated Veterans Day this week, we recognized the roughly 20 million living veterans who have served this country in both war and peace, and as a Nation, we extended a hand of gratitude to all our Veterans who put their lives on the line daily to protect freedom on our soil and around the globe.
As a Member of Congress, advocating for our Veterans and their families is a top priority. My district offices in Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Staunton help Veterans with their claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and in Washington, I am always looking for new ways to do more to support those who have supported us.
During his second inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln made clear, for the first time, the national obligation, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” Since coming to Congress, I have tried to make sure that President Lincoln’s charge is followed and have remained committed to caring for Veterans and their families. Our Nation’s 20 million living Veterans span numerous generations. From the World War II era to the Global War on Terror, these heroes face differing challenges as they age. Veteran care is complex and generational, and with the ending of the war in Afghanistan, the needs of Veterans from that era will become paramount. We must never neglect their care and continue to improve the VA system that cares for them. Below are several actions I have taken throughout the past year in the 117th Congress to support our service members.
Introduced: HR 4433, Veterans Entrepreneurship Act
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.
Cosponsored: HR 2974, Military Spouse Hiring Act
Military spouse unemployment rates surged during the COVID-19 pandemic up to 38 percent. This bill would help close that gap by expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to include the hiring of qualified military spouses, allowing employers to claim a tax credit equal to a portion of the wages paid to those spouses.
HR 3674, Vet Center Support Act
This legislation would identify barriers to constructing new Vet Centers and increase staff capacity to assess how well Veterans’ mental health needs are being met in underserved areas. Vet Centers are community-based health providers that offer mental health services and readjustment counseling to Veterans, active duty, National Guard members, Reservists, and their families. Yet, despite their proven track record of suicide prevention and excellent care, as well as the growing demand for their services, the number of these facilities has not increased to sufficient levels to meet the need of Veterans.
HR 2192, Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021
Over a 30-year period spanning the 1950s through the 1980s, thousands of Marines, their families, civilian workers, and personnel used government-provided tap water that was contaminated with harmful chemicals, found at levels ranging from 240 to 3400 times the levels permitted by safety standards. These exposures likely increased the risk of cancers, such as renal cancer, multiple myeloma, leukemia, and more. It also likely raised their risk of adverse birth outcomes, along with other negative health effects. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act allows a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, and/or their family members, that were injured or died as a result of the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to file under the Federal Tort Claims Act for fair compensation. This type of claim would already be permitted anywhere else in the United States, but because of a unique provision in North Carolina law, this legislation is necessary for those harmed at Camp Lejeune to seek justice.
HR 1217, Veterans’ 2nd Amendment Protection Act
This legislation prohibits the VA from transmitting personally identifying information of a Veteran or a beneficiary to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) solely on the basis that such Veteran or beneficiary has an appointed fiduciary to manage their benefits unless there is an order or finding of judicial authority that such Veteran or beneficiary is a danger to themselves or others. We must protect the Second Amendment rights of all Americans, especially Veterans, and this bill seeks to accomplish that goal.
H.R. 1476, PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Program Act
The Dwyer Program in New York established a successful peer-to-peer support model to provide a safe, confidential, and educational platform where all Veterans are welcome to meet with other Veterans in support of each other’s successful transition to post-service life. The program seeks to build vet-to-vet relationships that enhance positive change through common experiences, learning, and personal growth. H.R. 1476 would expand the Dwyer Program to the national level by authorizing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make grants to state and local entities to carry out peer-to-peer mental health programs all across our Nation and help ensure all of our Veterans have access to the support they need.
HR 1448, PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act
As many as 20% of Veterans who return from combat suffer from PTSD, and on average, 20 Veterans die a day from suicide. The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, which has been signed into law, creates a pilot program that will expand opportunities for Veterans to get involved with training and adopting service dogs. Studies show that service animals can help reduce depression, anxiety, anger, and alcohol and substance abuse, as well as lessen sleep disturbances. Further, properly trained service dogs can alert Veterans to PTSD triggers, such as crowded areas or unanticipated risks, and provide security and a calming effect to alleviate anxiety.
Letter on Rolling to Remember
My colleagues and I urged President Biden to reverse his Administration’s decision that stripped Rolling to Remember of a permit to use the Pentagon’s parking lot during their Memorial Day motorcycle rally in D.C. Rolling to Remember is an annual motorcycle demonstration to raise awareness of the critical issues facing our Nation’s Veteran and to demand action for the 82,000 service members missing in action, as well as raise awareness of the 20+ Veterans who die by suicide each day. The letter can be found here.
Letter Supporting Rural Veterans
My colleagues and I brought VA Secretary McDonough’s attention to the 4.7 million Veterans who live in rural communities who have decreased proximity to a VA center near them, less access to care, fewer physician practices and transportation options, and a myriad of other concerns that need to be on the top of the VA’s agenda. While we are pleased the VA’s FY 2022 budget request includes increased funding for telehealth services and rural Veteran transportation services, improving healthcare outcomes for rural Veterans must be a top priority. The Letter can be found here.
Letter Supporting ATLAS Program Expansion
I encouraged VA Secretary McDonough to expand the Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS) Program to deliver more Veteran-centric telehealth to the Sixth District. The ATLAS Program is a collaboration between the VA, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), The American Legion, and Philips, a leading health technology company, to build and donate 8×8 enclosure rooms called pods to be placed on location at VFW halls and Legion posts. The healthcare pods offer Veterans the convenience of consulting with their VA clinicians in a space closer to home as opposed to traveling to the nearest VA facility, which may be hours away. Using telehealth technology such as these pods improves access to care for Veterans in underserved areas where there are limited healthcare providers.
Resources for Veterans:
Please know that my District offices are here to assist constituents who are having difficulties dealing with a Federal agency. If you are struggling to receive the benefits you have earned from the Veterans Benefits Administration or are having issues making a doctor’s appointment with the Veterans Health Administration, caseworkers at one of my offices listed at the bottom of this page may be able to help.
Further, those who served often experience scenes and situations that civilians could not even begin to imagine. These experiences can often lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other emotional and mental struggles. If you are experiencing hardship, particularly following the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, there are resources available. The Veterans Crisis Line below is confidential and can be reached 24/7.
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.