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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – July 5, 2021

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One of the ways in which the US Congress has abused the trust of the people over the years is in the wasteful way it spends your hard-earned money. In recent years, the House and Senate have passed massive spending bills that are out of balance and out of touch with the priorities of the American people. Unfortunately, this year is no different. In fact, this year Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have abandoned all pretense of fiscal responsibility by refusing to even pass a House Budget plan before taking up the twelve annual appropriations bills.

The Budget Plan is a blueprint for spending priorities that are supposed to be submitted by the President and passed by Congress in the springtime, and without it, the House Appropriations Committee is left to spend as much as it wants on whatever priorities it chooses. One reason I accepted an assignment to the House Appropriations Committee is to bring some sense of fiscal responsibility back to this broken process, and hopefully, I can inject some of the conservative philosophy from my time in Richmond that helped us to balance our budget in Virginia year after year. As I spend my first session with my colleagues on Appropriations, I am following through on my promise to remind them of four words they have forgotten in Washington: “We can’t afford it!”

Also this week, the full House addressed transportation by pushing through a partisan bill that neglected traditional infrastructure needs and instead provided nearly half its funding toward the Green New Deal. I am also continuing to fight against the abuses of Big Tech as a member of the newly-created Big Tech and Data Task Force, which will help find solutions to stop the abusive behaviors of Big Tech. I also enjoyed the opportunity to recognize the Amherst County High School Girls Softball Team for winning this year’s Class 4 State Championship. Finally, I am looking forward to hosting a Virtual Service Academy Day on Thursday for high school students interested in attending one of our Nation’s Service Academies. It was a busy week, and I hope everyone has been able to relax during the Independence Day holiday weekend and enjoy some time with friends and family.

Appropriations:
The House Appropriations Committee began debating the twelve bills that make up the funding levels for government agencies and programs. Throughout the process, my colleagues and I fought to rein in record levels of spending, opposed billions of dollars to fund Green New Deal initiatives, defended the rights of the unborn, and sought to protect our farmers and rural communities. One of my amendments would have prohibited millions of dollars in federal funding from being allocated to President Biden’s unauthorized Civilian Climate Corps, which would be the first major plank of the Green New Deal funded with your tax dollars. More about that amendment can be found here. As the appropriations process continues, the Committee should be looking for ways to address our growing national debt, not increasing the size and reach of the Federal government.


China Coverup:
From the very beginning, the Chinese Communist Party masked the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and hindered investigations at every turn. The American people, as well as the rest of the world, were subject to its devastating impact on lives, the economy, and families. That is why I introduced an amendment in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to require the Biden Administration to declassify intelligence related to any potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amendment also stated that funding authorized for the World Health Organization (WHO) in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill would be withheld until the Director of National Intelligence has declassified the aforementioned information. If passed, this amendment would have ensured a greater level of both transparency and accountability from the Federal government. Unfortunately, despite similar legislation passing unanimously in the Senate, Committee Democrats voted down my amendment, which can be found here.

I also introduced a separate amendment that would withhold funding from the WHO until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to Congress that the WHO has conducted a transparent international forensic investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and implemented amendments to the International Health Regulations to improve transparency in response to outbreaks of infectious diseases. This amendment was also voted down, despite significant failures at the WHO throughout the pandemic. Text of this amendment can be found here.

 

Green New Deal in Disguise:
Rather than working across the aisle as the Senate is doing on a bipartisan infrastructure plan that does not increase the deficit, House Democrats jammed a partisan bill through the House this week that puts America on a road to nowhere. The bill was nothing but a partisan wish list that prioritized the Green New Deal agenda over the core needs of our Nation’s infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Further, the legislation actually prevents the building of new roads – ripping away the ability of states to prioritize the needs of local communities. The Sixth District is in dire need of resources to modernize its aging infrastructure and relieve the congestion bottlenecks that afflict our highways – most notably is Interstate 81. Each year there are nearly 2,000 crashes on I-81, with over 25% involving heavy trucks, and more than 45 major crashes a year causing delays greater than four hours. Current conditions are not only frustration but a grave public safety concern. It is unconscionable that instead of focusing on public safety and improvements to our Nation’s roadways, such as Interstate 81, Democrats hijacked this transportation bill for their own political messaging. I was sent to Washington to ensure our government is transparent and accountable for every action it takes. Spending $1 out of every $2 to comply with Green New Deal mandates is ludicrous, and I could not accept a deal that puts big cities and big government over the interests of the American taxpayers that I represent in rural America. Republicans are willing and open to negotiating realistic ways to rebuild our highways and infrastructure, but it must be done in a fiscally responsible manner.

Reining in Big Tech:
The unbridled power of Big Tech is out of control and continues to grow. The industry has often failed to protect users’ personal information, curbed competition by eluding antitrust regulation, and limited the free speech of private citizens and elected officials, often from one particular political party. There is no denying Big Tech needs to be reined in, and this week I was pleased to be appointed by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to serve on the Big Tech and Data Task Force. The Task Force will examine the rapid proliferation of Big Tech’s influence over the American people and their daily lives by focusing on the three areas of concern listed below. I look forward to working with my colleagues to find reasonable and realistic solutions to check the power of Big Tech.

1. Big Tech Responsibility: Task Force members will consider avenues to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
2. Big Tech Power: Task Force members will focus on competition issues
3. Big Tech Data: Task Force members will explore data privacy and security matters

State Champions:
I was pleased to recognize the Amherst County High School Girls Softball Team for winning this year’s Class 4 State Championship. It was a defensive game all around, and Amherst County pitcher, Dylan McNerney, kept the Lancers in it with incredible performance – striking out 10 batters. With the game tied zero-zero at the end of regulation, it took extra innings for the Lancers to pull off the victory against the Hanover Hawks. Before the final inning began, Head Coach Samantha Thacker told the team, “this is our time, this is our inning, we’ve got to stay settled and be patient,” – and they did just that. In the top of the eighth, two errors by the Hawks put runners on base for Amherst County with one out. When Kayleigh Combs stepped up to bat, she put the ball into play and an overthrow allowed Cheyenne Wall to race home from third giving the Lancers a one-to-nothing lead. Soon after, a wild pitch brought Maegan Lloyd home adding another run to the board. With a two-to-nothing lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Lancers were able to keep the Hawks scoreless, securing the team’s first-ever state title. Congratulations to the players and coaches on a great season, they earned it.

Virtual Service Academy Day:
This coming Thursday, July 8, my office will host a Virtual Service Academy Day via Microsoft Teams. Students and their parents will be provided information on the application, nomination, selection, and appointment processes. Representatives from the various service academies are expected to be present on the video call to answer questions. An academy appointment is highly competitive, where each academy selects nominees based on moral character, scholastic achievement, physical fitness, leadership, and college admission test scores. The earlier a student begins preparation, the more competitive that student will be in the process. While Academy Days are usually held in person, this first event of the year will be held online to accommodate interested students throughout the entire Sixth District. Please stay tuned for updates on additional in-person regional Service Academy Days in the near future. To sign up for this event, please visit Eventbrite here. Once your registration is submitted, a member of my staff will provide details on how to join the video call. Registration closes at 5 pm on Wednesday, July 7.

National Dairy Month:
The Virginia Dairy Industry, directly and indirectly, supports more than 45,000 jobs and contributes $344 million annually to the Commonwealth’s economy. Unfortunately, Dairy farmers were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As normal wholesale markets such as schools and restaurants shut down, wholesale dairy farms had to shift their export strategy and fight to get their product into retail grocery stores that may have already had a contract with another dairy farm. Some farmers were simply unable to adjust their supply chain avenues in time and, due to the short shelf life of milk, much of their product was lost. As National Dairy Month comes to a close, I recognize the hardships dairy farmers have faced over the past year, and I am committed to continuing to support the industry that is so important to folks here in the Sixth District.

Independence Day:
On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia and voted to officially sever ties with Great Britain. Pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, 56 brave men proclaimed to the world the sovereignty of the Thirteen Colonies. This statement, made public two days later, has since become known as the Declaration of Independence, and its words are at the very core of the American Ideal.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I strive every day to uphold these values as your representative in Congress. I fight to ensure that the American Dream is never out of reach for any citizen in this country and that regardless of status, I will always work to preserve liberty and opportunity for all Americans.

COVID-19 Update:
As of July 5, 2021, Virginia has had 681,194 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 11,431. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of July 5th, 5,056,410 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 4,359,054 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.

Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

 

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Legislative Update

Warner & Kaine celebrate Inflation Reduction Act becoming law

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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.

Tax Fairness

  • 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.

 

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Legislative Update

Warner & Kaine announce more than $2.1 million in funding to address COVID-19 in rural Virginia communities

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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.

 

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Kaine, Murkowski, Sinema, and Collins introduce legislation to codify Roe v. Wade

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On August 1, 2022, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Reproductive Freedom For All Act.  This legislation would enact the essential holdings of Roe v. Wade and related cases in federal law, protecting abortion rights and contraception access.

“After the Supreme Court gutted a woman’s right to make personal health care decisions, Congress must restore that right,” said Senator Kaine. “That’s why I’ve worked with my colleagues to find common ground on this bipartisan compromise that would do just that. The Reproductive Freedom For All Act would restore the right to abortion and protect access to contraception by enshrining those freedoms into federal legislation.”

“Every American should have autonomy over their own health care decisions, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs has made it imperative for Congress to restore women’s reproductive rights. I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation with my colleagues to write into law the protections provided through Roe and Casey as well as affirming access to contraception provided in Griswold and other cases,” said Senator Murkowski. “For five decades, reproductive health care decisions were centered with the individual – we cannot go back in time in limiting personal freedoms for women.”

“A woman’s health care decisions should be between her, her family, and her doctor. Our bipartisan, commonsense legislation protects the health and wellbeing of women in Arizona and across the country by ensuring all women – no matter where they live – can access the health care they need and have the ability to make their own decisions about their futures,” said Senator Sinema.


“The Supreme Court’s recent abandonment of longstanding precedent erodes the reproductive rights on which women have relied for half a century. These basic rights need to be the same for American women regardless of the state in which they reside. Our bill would restore the right to obtain an abortion by enacting in federal law Roe v. Wade and other seminal Supreme Court decisions pertaining to reproductive freedom. In addition, our bill would protect access to contraception,” said Senator Collins. “By reinstating—neither expanding nor restricting—the longstanding legal framework for reproductive rights in this country, our bill would preserve abortion access along with basic conscience protections that are relied upon by health care providers who have religious objections.”

According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, more than 60 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Overturning Roe has resulted in immediate bans on all abortions in several states. In the future could potentially call into question other important rights, including the right to access birth control, outlined in Griswold v. Connecticut, Eisenstadt v. Baird, and Carey v. Population Services International. That is why the Reproductive Freedom For All Act would enact not only the core holdings of Roe v. Wade but also key subsequent cases: Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, as well as the holdings of Griswold v. Connecticut, Eisenstadt v. Baird, Carey v. Population Services International.

The Reproductive Freedom For All Act protects the ability of women to make health care choices for themselves. It would:

  • Prohibit state regulations that impose an undue burden on a woman’s access to pre-viability abortions while allowing states to enact reasonable restrictions on post-viability abortions – provided that states cannot ban abortions that are necessary to protect the life or health of the mother;
  • Protect access to contraceptives; and
  • Preserve conscience protections.

The full text of the legislation is available here.

 

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – July 29, 2022

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House Democrats spent last week moving legislation that accomplished little other than increasing our Federal debt and trying to shore up their base in the polls. Desperate to distort, distract, and deceive the American people from the failed agenda of Nancy Pelosi and President Biden, Congress considered a massive spending bill and other legislation that fails to help address the impact of rising prices of food, fuel, and housing.

Among other bills, Congress considered legislation regarding contraception and gay marriage, despite there being no indication that the Supreme Court is moving to overturn the right to contraception created in Griswold (1965) or the right to gay marriage created in Obergefell (2015). Additionally, Congress considered a non-binding resolution calling for the expansion of NATO, which would force American taxpayers to pay more for the security of Europeans and put U.S. troops at greater risk of involvement in a destabilizing war in Europe. I also had the chance to welcome constituents to Washington and to recognize an outstanding local softball team on the House Floor. As always, I will continue to vigorously represent your interests as your Representative in Congress.

Appropriations Minibus
This last week Congress passed a massive spending bill which funded six areas of government for the next fiscal year. This $402 billion package was an overall 13% increase above funding for last year and contained several provisions that backed away from long-standing pro-life policies.

Much of our current economic slide can be traced to the runaway spending of the current Democrat Congress, which has led to a 40-year high inflation rate, rising prices of goods and services, and paychecks being stretched to the breaking point. Even so, the House pushed through Appropriations bills that included a 17% increase for Financial Services and General Government, an 18% increase for Interior and Environment, and a 12.2% increase for Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.


Inflation is a hidden tax on all Americans, and at a time when Americans are struggling to pay for gas and groceries, the Federal government should be reducing spending. We should prioritize core responsibilities such as our national security, and we must cut wasteful and inefficient social programs. I will continue to be a leader in championing fiscal responsibility.

NATO
Desperate to hold on to power, Democrats put forth several political messaging bills last week instead of working to address inflation, secure our border, stop crime, and strengthen education. While the power to ratify treaties resides in the Senate, House Democrats pushed a non-binding resolution to support the expansion of NATO membership to include Finland and Sweden. As the U.S. supports the Ukraine resistance against the invasion of Russia, expanding NATO to the Russian-Finnish border during the fighting increases the risk of drawing American troops into a broader European conflict, something to which I have been consistently opposed. Further, NATO needs significant reform, and I have long called for NATO members to pay their pledged fair share — 2 percent of GDP — and while Finland has done this, Sweden has not.

Assault Weapons Ban
Realizing there is only a limited number of legislative days before November’s election, Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats are playing politics with the Constitution and are attempting to move on an assault weapons ban through the House of Representatives.

Under this plan, Democrats want to make it a felony for any American to sell, manufacture, or possess an AR-15, or any one of over 200 similar firearms, and criminalize the gifting of legally owned firearms to a family member, friend, or neighbor. This assault on the Second Amendment is an attempt to disarm law-abiding Americans, and I am continuing to fight their efforts and defend our Constitution.

All Star Darlings One Minute
On the House Floor last week I had the honor of recognizing an incredible achievement in youth sports. The Amherst All Star Darlings, a girls youth softball team of 7- and 8-year-olds, just finished their season undefeated. After winning both the district and state championships, they have their eyes set on Cochran-Beckley, Georgia, where the girls’ softball world series will be played later this month. These young ladies worked hard and were hungry for competition, and their determination to win throughout the length of their season is nearly unmatched. Now they are planning and working towards making their trip to Georgia possible to get the chance to make this Cinderella story a reality. Their efforts are a story of comradery, hard work, and laying the foundation for a bright future not only in sports but in all of their future endeavors. The Sixth District will be cheering them on when they compete on July 31st in the Dixie youth softball league world series. Congratulations to the Amherst All Star Darlings for representing Virginia and the Sixth District so well.

COVID-19 Update
Last week in Virginia there was an average 35 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, down from 36 daily cases last week. This week’s COVID-19 test positivity rate dropped to 22%. 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.

For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, please follow my Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Kaine statement on Senate passage of bill to boost domestic chip manufacturing

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On July 27, 2022,  U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement after helping the Senate pass legislation to incentivize private investment in domestic chips manufacturing and provide a combined $157 billion of support for chips production and science research in America:

“Increasing chips manufacturing in Virginia and throughout America is a win-win-win for job creation, our national security, and lowering costs—all while helping us outcompete China,” said Kaine. “America has a lot to gain with this bill not only because it’ll strengthen our manufacturing economy but also because it’ll boost our many great research institutions. I’m glad we took this step forward today and won’t give up in the fight to build on this momentum to make our economy even more competitive.”

America currently only produces 12 percent of the global supply of chips, which are required by everything from cars, computers, and phones to televisions, LED lightbulbs, and washing machines. Meanwhile, East Asia—where other governments incentivize their own domestic chip manufacturing that makes it significantly cheaper to produce chips than in America—has become the production point for 75 percent of the world’s chips.

COVID-related chip supply strains have hindered American manufacturing output, resulting in decreased supply and higher prices for cars and other goods. Today’s shortages indicate how catastrophic future chip shortages could be for America’s economy, technological competitiveness, and military capabilities.


This legislation aims to create a resurgence in American chip manufacturing to protect America from the threat of future chip shortages by offering private companies a tax credit for investments in domestic chip manufacturing facilities and making $52 billion in funding available for chips researchers and manufacturers so they can make more chips in America.

Kaine has been a consistent advocate for the need to onshore chip production and has emphasized the important role Virginia can play in strengthening chip supply and creating chip manufacturing jobs. Virginia is already home to some of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, which will be able to apply for funding from today’s legislation once it is signed into law by President Biden.

In addition to investments in and incentives for chips manufacturing, the legislation would help support the scientific research America’s economy needs to be competitive in the 21st century by including:

·         Over $81 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) over the next five years, including $20 billion for the first-of-its-kind NSF program to accelerate domestic development of national and economic-security critical technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced manufacturing, 6G communications, energy, and material science;

·         $13 billion to invest in America’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce by supporting STEM education through scholarships, fellowships, and traineeships to train workers in critical fields, including through an artificial intelligence scholarship-for-service program, a national network for microelectronics education, and cybersecurity workforce development programs; and

·         $11 billion for the Regional Innovation Engines to advance multidisciplinary and collaborative research and development in key technology focus areas at institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, civil society organizations, and industrial firms in relevant sectors. These hubs will focus on technology development, job creation, and expanding U.S. innovation capacity.

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Warner, Kaine, Wexton, Beyer, Connolly press Biden to raise the detention of Virginian Asim Ghafoor with Emirati government

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Only July 22, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, alongside Representatives Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Don Beyer (VA-08), and Gerry Connolly (VA-11), pressed President Biden to raise Asim Ghafoor’s detention with the highest levels of the Emirati government and advocate for his fair and humane treatment. Asim Ghafoor—a U.S. citizen and Virginia resident—was reportedly tried in absentia, detained without notice of his conviction, and sentenced to prison on to-date unsubstantiated charges by United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities.

Ghafoor was a close personal friend of and reportedly served as legal counsel to Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered by Saudi officials in 2018, in an operation that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) assessed was approved by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

“…[W]e strongly urge you and your Administration to raise Mr. Ghafoor’s case immediately at the highest levels of the Emirati government and advocate for his fair treatment, including assurances regarding his health and safety while in Emirati custody. It is critical the Administration makes clear that the hasty detention of U.S. citizens like Mr. Ghafoor cannot become normalized as an appropriate tactic of U.S. partners,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We welcomed the Department of State’s July 18, 2022, statement that the United States had ‘not sought’ Ghafoor’s arrest. However, absent concrete evidence of Ghafoor’s alleged criminal behavior, the UAE’s repeated claim that this arrest was conducted in coordination with the United States government in order to ‘combat transnational crimes’ raises concerns about oversight of U.S. involvement in that partnership,” they continued.


Additionally, the lawmakers requested that the Biden Administration:

  • Call on Emirati authorities to allow Mr. Ghafoor regular access to his family and to his attorneys;
  • Ensure that the U.S. embassy continues to receive consular visits with Mr. Ghafoor and that U.S. embassy staff are permitted to attend all trial proceedings;
  • Confirm with UAE officials that Mr. Ghafoor will receive humane and fair treatment while in Emirati custody, including immediate access to required medical care; and
  • Solicit additional information from the Emirati government regarding the legal proceedings against Mr. Ghafoor, in order to determine if his arrest should be considered wrongful detention or an act of transnational repression.

 

Here’s the full text of the letter :

Dear Mr. President,

We request your Administration’s urgent attention to the recent detention of U.S. citizen and Virginia resident Mr. Asim Ghafoor by United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities. Mr. Ghafoor was convicted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on currently unsubstantiated charges of money laundering and tax evasion, in absentia and, reportedly, without his knowledge. Mr. Ghafoor was detained by UAE authorities on July 14, 2022, while transiting Dubai International Airport, and was sentenced to three years in prison on July 16, 2022. The UAE’s decision to detain Mr. Ghafoor – without notice or opportunity to seek legal counsel – represents a gross violation of his due process rights.

Mr. Ghafoor is a board member for the nonprofit organization Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN), which advocates for democratic reforms in the Middle East and has at times criticized the Emirati government. In his capacity as an attorney, Mr. Ghafoor is reported to have represented his friend Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, who was also a Virginian and who was brutally murdered by Saudi officials in 2018. Noting your July 16, 2022, meeting with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan and your invitation for him to visit the United States by the end of this year, as well as the close relationship between the Saudi and Emirati governments, we strongly urge you and your Administration to raise Mr. Ghafoor’s case immediately at the highest levels of the Emirati government and advocate for his fair treatment, including assurances regarding his health and safety while in Emirati custody. It is critical the Administration makes clear that the hasty detention of U.S. citizens like Mr. Ghafoor cannot become normalized as an appropriate tactic of U.S. partners.

The UAE has claimed the United States played a role in Mr. Ghafoor’s detention, and as such we further urge your Administration to clarify the nature of the United States’ potential involvement. We welcomed the Department of State’s July 18, 2022, statement that the United States had “not sought” Ghafoor’s arrest. However, absent concrete evidence of Ghafoor’s alleged criminal behavior, the UAE’s repeated claim that this arrest was conducted in coordination with the United States government in order to “combat transnational crimes,” raises concerns about oversight of U.S. involvement in that partnership.

As your Administration works to ensure that Mr. Ghafoor is treated humanely and fairly, we respectfully request that you take the following interim measures:

1. Call on Emirati authorities to allow Mr. Ghafoor regular access to his family and to his attorneys.

2. Ensure that the U.S. embassy continues to receive consular visits with Mr. Ghafoor and that U.S. embassy staff are permitted to attend all trial proceedings.

3. Confirm with UAE officials that Mr. Ghafoor will receive humane and fair treatment while in Emirati custody, including immediate access to required medical care.

4. Solicit additional information from the Emirati government regarding the legal proceedings against Mr. Ghafoor, in order to determine if his arrest should be considered a wrongful detention or act of transnational repression.

 

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