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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – November 9, 2020

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Representing the citizens of the Sixth District in the House has been the greatest honor of my life, and I am pleased to have the privilege of continuing to serve as your Congressman. Know that as the116th Congress comes to a close, I will remain an advocate for the citizens of our District. And as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, I am committed to providing Sixth District residents with the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus and believe you may find the resources listed below useful. Finally, as Veterans Day approaches, we honor all who served our Nation in uniform and the families who stand beside them.

Humbled and Honored:
I am incredibly humbled by the opportunity to continue serving on behalf of Sixth District residents in the 117th Congress. I take this responsibility seriously and look forward to once again fighting for the values we hold dear. Since being sworn in, I have advocated fiscal responsibility, stood for life, defended our Second Amendment, fought for farmers, attempted to repair our crumbling infrastructure, and supported our veterans and first responders. I remain a champion for conservative principles and always prioritize assisting residents across the District who need help dealing with the Federal government. Since January 2019, my dedicated staff and I have worked to close nearly 2,767 cases and fought to ensure constituents receive the benefits to which they are entitled. If you ever need help dealing with a federal agency, whether it be the Department of Veterans Affairs, IRS, State Department, or any other, please know that my office is here to help.

IRS Updates:
The IRS has designated this coming Tuesday, November 10, as National Economic Impact Payment Registration Day. This is part of the agency’s final push to encourage everyone who does not normally file a tax return to register to receive an Emergency Relief Check. If you are a non-filer and have yet to receive your check, click here to submit your information before the November 21 deadline.

Please be aware, the IRS is warning of a new text scam created by thieves that trick people into disclosing bank account information under the guise of receiving a $1200 Emergency Relief Check. Please know, the IRS will never request such information via text. To learn more, click here.


COVID-19 Resources:
Over the past several months I have strived to provide constituents with the most up-to-date information regarding the coronavirus and will continue to do so as our Nation navigates this pandemic. Below please find information and resources from across the Federal government that I believe you might find useful.

USDA: Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 Application
IRS: Non-Filers Tool (Emergency Relief Check)
CDC: Mental Heath and Coping During COVID-19
HHS: Explaining Operation Warp Speed

(B = Billion, M = Million, K = Thousand) Data as of October 9, 2020

Veterans and Military Families Month:
Knowing things at home are taken care of is vital to those serving our Nation. This month we honor and recognize these unsung heroes and their sacrifices as we celebrate National Veterans and Military Families Month. In the President’s proclamation in officially declaring this month as such, he said, “Our Nation’s service members — past and present — and their families represent the very best of America. Motivated by patriotism and love of country, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Space Warfighters serve at home and abroad with professionalism, ingenuity, integrity, and devotion. Their families always stand beside them in their missions and as they transition to civilian life. During National Veterans and Military Families Month, we celebrate the loved ones of our country’s men and women in uniform and recognize the sacrifices they have made in support of our Nation’s heroes.”

Veterans History Project:
The Veterans History Project, which was created by Congress in 2000 and is facilitated by the Library of Congress, collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American veterans so that future generations may hear directly from service members and better understand the realities of war. This week the project is celebrating its 20th anniversary and will be hosting a number of performances and panel discussions to mark the occasion. For a complete schedule of events and to stream them live, please visit the Veterans History Project Facebook page here. If you or someone you know may want to participate in a Veterans History Project of your own, my district offices are standing by to help.

 

 

If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

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

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Legislative Update

Warner reintroduces bill to spur investment in rural areas hard hit by economic crisis

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On May 18, 2021, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) along with Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Shelley Capito (R-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Boozman (R-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) reintroduced legislation to encourage greater private investment in rural and underserved areas, which have been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Seeking to build on the proven success of the New Markets Tax Credit (NTMC) program, the bipartisan Rural Jobs Act would increase the flow of capital to rural areas and will serve as an important tool in U.S. economic recovery efforts. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Jason Smith (R-MO).

“The New Market Tax Credit program has a proven track record of reviving local economies and creating needed jobs in communities around the country. Unfortunately, less than one in four jobs created by this program have been in rural communities,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation will bridge this job creation gap by earmarking additional tax credits specifically for rural and underserved regions, which are suffering tremendously due to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.”

The NMTC program currently provides a modest tax incentive to private investors to invest in low-income communities. The Rural Jobs Act would build on the success of this program by designating, for two years, $500 million in NMTC investments for “Rural Job Zones” – low-income communities that have a population smaller than 50,000 inhabitants and are not adjacent to an urban area. Under this new definition, Rural Job Zones would be established in in 342 out of the 435 congressional districts across the country, including communities in the following Virginia localities: Accomack, Albemarle, Alleghany, Appomattox, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt, Brunswick, Buchanan, Buckingham, Buena Vista, Campbell, Caroline, Carroll, Charlotte, Covington, Culpeper, Cumberland, Danville, Dickenson, Dinwiddie, Emporia, Essex, Fauquier, Floyd, Franklin, Frederick, Galax, Giles, Gloucester, Grayson, Greene, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Highland, Isle of Wight, King and Queen, King William, Lee, Lexington, Louisa, Lunenburg, Madison, Martinsville, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, Montgomery, Nelson, Northampton, Northumberland, Norton, Nottoway, Orange, Page, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Richmond, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Russell, Scott, Shenandoah, Smyth, Southampton, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Surry, Sussex, Tazewell, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wise, and Wythe.

Since the creation of the NMTC, a total of 77 businesses and economic revitalization projects in Virginia have received financing, contributing to $1.5 billion in total project investments.



“The Rural Jobs Zones initiative will drive more resources to projects such as the OnePartner/HMG Medical Center in Duffield, Virginia. Hampton Roads Ventures used the New Markets Tax Credit to finance a new facility that expanded medical services to residents in this medically underserved area. Rural Jobs Zones will benefit from billions in private sector financing for health centers, manufacturing businesses, broadband expansions, and Main Street revitalization efforts. We applaud Senator Warner for his continued commitment to rural economic development,” said Jennifer Donohue, CEO of Hampton Roads Ventures, LLC.

“Senator Warner’s bill, the Rural Jobs Act, will create a powerful new tool for economic and community development in rural communities across Virginia and across the nation, it will lead to more quality jobs and better futures in rural America,” said Rob Goldsmith, President, and CEO, People Incorporated Financial Services.

Under this legislation, Virginia would have more qualified census tracts than almost any other state, providing greater investment opportunities to support and grow businesses and create jobs in communities across the Commonwealth. The bill would also require that at least 25 percent of this new investment activity be targeted to persistent poverty counties and high-migration counties. There are approximately 400 persistent poverty counties in the United States, 85 percent of which are located in non-metro or rural areas.

Bill text is available here.

A bill summary is available here.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – May 16, 2021

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Students across the Sixth District are finally returning to their classrooms and their athletic fields, and I was honored to celebrate their achievements this week by visiting government students at Grace Christian School in Staunton and commending Riverheads High School football on the House Floor for winning their fifth consecutive state championship. Our country also celebrated National Police Week to recognize the tremendous service of our men and women in law enforcement. Unfortunately, this week our Nation was also reminded that leadership matters as we watched events in the Middle East further erode, saw a forced closure of a pipeline resulting in gasoline shortages and long lines, and the Department of Labor confirming that consumer prices for goods and services took its largest monthly jump in more than a decade. Finally, in an effort to continue to make myself accessible to those I am honored to represent, I held my tenth telephone town hall on Thursday evening. It was a productive week, and I will continue to advocate on behalf of the residents of the Sixth District as we head into another week of legislative business.

Standing With Israel:
Following protests turned riots in east Jerusalem earlier this month, we’ve seen the conflict between Israel and Palestine take a violent turn that’s become the worst in the region since 2000. Now, more than 100 people have been killed and hundreds injured in this conflict as Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group, have exchanged a barrage of rockets over the past week. However, while Israel’s defensive maneuvers have been aimed at Hamas’ military instillations, the terror group has targeted Israeli civilian populations with their rockets. Equally troubling is the fact the Biden Administration has been actively engaging in negotiations with Iran, which is widely known as the funding source of Hamas.

I have long stood by Israel, the only democracy and our greatest ally in the Middle East. In Congress, I have cosponsored bipartisan legislation opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and other efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel. Additionally, I cosponsored the United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, which seeks to make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions, such as Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system to block enemy rockets.

In the 2008 Vice-Presidential debate, then-Senator Biden said, “No one…has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden.” Yet now President Biden merely says Israel “has a right to defend itself” rather than telling Hamas, or any other antagonistic force, to not take aggressive action toward Israel. This Administration must make clear that an attack on Israel should be seen as an attack on the United States and that we are prepared to support our ally by any means necessary.


 

Energy Crisis:
On Friday, May 7, the country’s largest fuel pipeline, Colonial Pipeline, was the victim of a ransomware cyberattack, which forced it to temporarily shut down all pipeline operations and caused significant fuel shortages and outages throughout the southeast United States. At the height of its shortage, Virginia experienced fuel outages at 52 percent of the Commonwealth’s gas stations. On May 12, Colonial Pipeline resumed operations and a Jones Act exemption was granted lifting certain restrictions to enable fuel to be transported from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast more quickly. While these two actions are a positive sign, after having conversations with the Governor’s office, it is clear that it will still be several days before our fuel supply returns fully back to normal. Despite this situation being caused by a cyberattack, it highlighted the need for an all-of-the-above approach to secure our energy independence. In the 21st Century, we cannot rely on one source of energy or our adversaries overseas to power our Nation.

Rising Inflation:
This week, we learned that the Consumer Price Index rose by nearly 1 percent last month, marking the fastest increase of inflation since 2008. Further, the monthly gain in core inflation is now the largest since 1981. This means that Americans pay more to work, eat, and live in Biden’s America. Despite this, President Biden still wants to spend trillions of dollars and impose the largest tax increase in history even though Americans are already paying for this President’s disastrous policies. Now is not the time to raise taxes which will only burden the American people with even higher prices. Inflation is here and will likely get worse, which is what President Biden ought to be focused on combating.

National Police Week:
During this National Police Week, we recognize the men and women of law enforcement who protect and serve our cities, counties and states all across this great country. Each day, police officers put on their uniform and badge knowing the danger they face but do so selflessly in an effort to keep their neighbors and communities safe. Since 1786, more than 22,000 police officers in the United States have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their fellow man, including 125 just this year. And sadly, tragedy struck here in the Sixth District just a few short months ago. This week, we particularly remember and honor Stanley Police Officer, Nick Winum, who was killed in the line of duty. People like Nick, who are willing to lay their own lives down for others, are the reason that we can all sleep soundly at night. This week, we lift all of our law enforcement officers up, show them the respect they have earned and deserve, and thank them for their overwhelming contributions to our society.

5X State Champions:
This week, I took to the House Floor to recognize the Riverheads High School football team of Augusta County, which recently won the Commonwealth’s Class 1 State Football Championship. After a close first quarter, the Gladiators put up 34 points in the second quarter propelling them to a resounding 65 to 29 victory over the Galax Maroon Tide. Riverheads have now won a notable five consecutive state titles, and senior running back Zac Smiley, who led the team with 121 rushing yards, said, “It almost feels normal — but it’s not.” The Riverheads’ running game had been strong all season, which allowed the Gladiators to catch the Maroon Tide off guard with an impressive three passing touchdowns, culminating in an all-around unstoppable offense. When asked what the pressure was like to win again, head coach Robert Casto said, “We didn’t get caught up in all that stuff.” He said their victory, “was just a byproduct of the hard work these kids have put in.” Indeed, every state championship is earned, not given, and this squad certainly earned it. Congratulations to the players, coaches, and staff on their remarkable accomplishments.

Grace Christian School:
Since taking office, it has been a priority of mine to meet with students across the Sixth District from Faith Christian School in Roanoke to Warren County High School in Front Royal and everywhere in between. As they prepare for the next steps in their lives, whether that be continuing their education, entering the workforce, or joining the military I wish to instill in them the importance of service to others. This week, I visited Grace Christian School in Staunton and enjoyed hearing from senior government classes and discussing the “Capacities and Limitations for Impacting our Government as a Congressman.” Further, I listened to their concerns and answered students’ questions about the issues that are important to them. As more schools begin to reopen for in-person learning, I look forward to meeting with students and fostering the value of public service.

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

COVID-19 Update:
As of May 15, 2021, Virginia has had 670,184 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 11,018. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of May 15th, 4,356,689 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 3,414,563 people are fully vaccinated.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated individuals can safely resume most activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, regardless of the size of gatherings. This is great news and a huge step forward as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

 

 

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

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Legislative Update

Senators Warner and Kaine announce more than $1 million in federal funds to support Americorps projects in Virginia

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Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $1,037,043 in federal funding through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support seven AmeriCorps VISTA projects across Virginia. The AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program is a national service program that supports organizations dedicated to reducing poverty and increasing economic opportunities in the United States.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, local organizations have played a vital role in supporting communities in need,” said the Senators. “We’re pleased that this funding will ensure that seven organizations across the Commonwealth have the resources to continue serving their communities as we recover from the devastating health and economic effects of the past year.”

The funding will be distributed as follows:

• In Alexandria, United Way Worldwide will receive $351,540 to increase access to economic opportunities by improving job readiness and increasing financial literacy.


• In Bristol, the Appalachian Sustainable Development will receive $105,462 to develop programming on sustainable food production and distribution of agricultural products for local farmers. Volunteers will also support efforts to increase access to affordable, healthy food in rural communities.

• In Lynchburg, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg will receive $35,154 to increase access to mentorship programs and services for low-income youth. The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg provides educational opportunities to youth in an effort to reduce high school drop-out rates.

• In Norfolk, the Hampton Roads Workforce Foundation will receive $105,462 to expand access to job opportunities through career and workforce development.

• In Richmond, the Virginia Housing Alliance will receive $246,078 to support statewide and local homelessness response systems and increase access to affordable housing in the area.

• In Washington County, the Bristol Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $105,462 to assist with capacity building projects and the creation of a service delivery model across the Commonwealth.

• In Washington County, the Friends of Southwest Virginia will receive $87,885 to expand access to workforce development and improve job readiness.

The AmeriCorps VISTA program partners with non-profit organizations, schools, and local government agencies to reduce poverty through capacity building. AmeriCorps VISTA members focus on reducing homelessness and food insecurity, supporting community projects, and improving students’ academic performance. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers have also been assisting local COVID-19 testing efforts and vaccine distribution.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – May 10, 2021

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Last week, the Biden Budget proposal finally arrived at Capitol Hill, and several of his Cabinet Secretaries appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to defend it. This is one of the few times these officials face questioning from Members of Congress, so I used my opportunity to press them on some of the more misguided policies of the new Administration. Further, I recently joined my colleagues in writing to Vice President Harris, who was tasked by President Biden with addressing the crisis at our southern border, calling for previously appropriated funds to continue to be used for border security. Additionally, I was pleased to support new legislation to ensure military spouses have access to employment opportunities. Finally, I met with a number of constituents and students to listen to their concerns and to find out what issues they care most about. Next week it is back to Washington to advocate on behalf of the Sixth District as we head into another two weeks of legislative business.

Protecting the Second Amendment:
In his first 100 days, President Biden has used Executive Actions to infringe on the Second Amendment and moved to strip law-abiding citizens of their ability to protect themselves and their families from harm. One of his most egregious acts is his nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF). Throughout his career, Mr. Chipman has made clear that he opposes the Second Amendment and has proposed banning one of the most popular rifles in the United States, made false claims about suppressors, and is on the record having made entirely false statements regarding the tragedy in Waco, Texas – a case in which he was involved. He is the entirely wrong person to lead the ATF, and on Monday, my colleagues and I wrote a letter to Senate Leadership urging them to oppose his nomination. To read the letter, click here.

This week, I also had the opportunity to question the Attorney General during his testimony before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. I asked him several questions relating to this Administration’s stance on the Second Amendment. I inquired about the Justice Department’s position on a case pending before the Supreme Court that could effectively prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying a firearm for self-defense, I asked about whether the $100 million the DOJ was requesting to fund a “buyback” program would essentially be used to confiscate guns, and questioned the double standard of the Biden Administration’s support of requiring a government-issued ID for folks to practice their constitutional right to own a firearm but not their constitutional right to vote. The Attorney General’s answers were concerning, but know that I will continue to fight to protect the Second Amendment rights of all Americans for however long I am blessed with the opportunity to serve in Congress.

 

Biden’s Education Priorities:
Rather than pursuing the unfair practice of canceling student debt, we must look at ways to make college more affordable. Last Congress I offered an amendment that would have provided necessary reforms by returning much of the administrative oversight power to the states, increased accountability, and transparency, and pushed down the rising cost of tuition. This week, I asked the Secretary of Education his thoughts on the matter.


Questioning the Commerce Secretary:
Over the last year, the cost of construction materials has skyrocketed. Oriented strand board (OSB) has jumped over 250% per sheet in price since March 2020. What had been $8 is now over $65 and R-19 insulation was $28 per roll, and today it is over $50 and climbing. This spike is adding thousands of dollars to the costs of new homes contributing to a buying panic around the country. This week, among other issues, I asked the Secretary of Commerce what resources have been dedicated by her Department to look into the causes of skyrocketing lumber prices and what impact this is having on the economy.

Build the Wall:
When President Biden took office he immediately halted construction of the border wall and froze more than $1 billion that had been appropriated by Congress to fund this project. Not only is this a potential violation of the Impoundment Control Act, which limits a president’s ability to withhold congressionally authorized funds, but it is a terrible decision as illegals continue to flow across the border in record numbers. I recently joined my colleagues in writing to Vice President Harris calling for previously appropriated funds for border security to be used immediately to address this crisis. Click here to read the letter.

Connecting With Students:
Since taking office, it has been a priority of mine to meet with students across the Sixth District. As they prepare for the next steps in their lives, whether that be continuing their education, entering the workforce, or joining the military I wish to instill in them the importance of service to others. This week, I visited Stonewall Jackson High School in Quicksburg and enjoyed answering students’ questions about the issues that are important to them. I also spoke virtually with students at Valley Elementary School and Millboro Elementary School in Bath County to discuss how the legislative process works. As more schools begin to reopen for in-person learning, I look forward to meeting with students and fostering the value of public service.

Stonewall Jackson High School

 

Valley Elementary School and Millboro Elementary School

Supporting Military Families:
As we celebrated Military Spouse Appreciation Day on Friday, I was pleased to announce my support for H.R. 2974, the Military Spouse Hiring Act. Military spouses experience unemployment of almost 30% and regular moves present a challenge to finding and keeping a job. This legislation expands 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. Providing an incentive for businesses to hire these unsung heroes is the right thing to do and a great way to honor their sacrifices.

Constituent Meetings:
Regardless of whether I’m in Washington or home in the Sixth District, I always make time to meet with constituents. This week I met with several Sixth District residents to discuss the issues that matter most to them. Among the many groups, I met with this week were the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Frozen Food Institute. As the Commonwealth slowly reopens, I look forward to meeting with constituents in person whenever I can. If you would like to schedule a meeting with me or my staff, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my offices.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

 

American Frozen Food Institute


COVID-19 Update:

As of May 9, 2021, Virginia has had 666,650 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 10,895. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of May 9th, 3,986,885 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 2,955,864 people are fully vaccinated.


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Legislative Update

Drug Enforcement Administration is more than a decade overdue to finalize rules allowing doctors to prescribe controlled substances via telehealth

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today (May 3rd, 2021) urged the Biden administration to finalize regulations long-delayed by prior administrations allowing doctors to prescribe controlled substances through telehealth.

“I am very concerned that – despite repeated outreach from myself and others in Congress – the previous Administration did not take long-term action to address this issue,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Chris Evans. “I also recognize that much of this delay has been the result of previous Administrations and I hope to work with you all on a new approach that best serves patients.”

In January 2020, Warner similarly urged the Trump administration to finalize the long-awaited rules to expand the use of telehealth services but never received a response.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of increased access to telehealth services and providers across the country continue to be frustrated there is no long-term solution for them to provide adequate care to their patients,” wrote Sen. Warner. “The DEA’s failure to promulgate the rule has meant that – despite Congress’ best efforts – millions of patients could be left without access to long-term treatment via telehealth.”


While the Ryan Haight Act of 2008 prohibited the delivery, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance by means of the internet, the law also required the DEA to establish rules allowing certain providers to prescribe and treat their patients without an in-person visit. Despite that requirement, and the passage of several subsequent bipartisan laws reiterating that directive, more than ten years later, the DEA has still not finalized the regulations allowing for prescriptions to be issued following a telehealth appointment.

Sen. Warner noted in today’s letter, “In practice, the DEA’s failure to address this issue means that a vast majority of health care providers that use telehealth to prescribe controlled substances to and otherwise treat their patients have been deterred in getting them the quality care they need. These restrictions have been temporarily waived during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and I welcome that, but patients and providers need a more permanent and long-term solution to this long-delayed rulemaking.”

Sen. Warner has been a longtime advocate for increased access to health care through telehealth. Last week, he reintroduced legislation to expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities, improve health outcomes, and make it easier for patients to safely connect with their doctors. Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner sent a letter to Senate leadership calling for the permanent expansion of access to telehealth services. In 2018, Sen. Warner successfully included a provision to expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment in the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. In 2003, then-Gov. Warner expanded Medicaid coverage for telemedicine statewide, including evaluation and management visits, a range of individual psychotherapies, the full range of consultations, and some clinical services, including in cardiology and obstetrics. Coverage was also expanded to include non-physician providers. Among other benefits, the telehealth expansion allowed individuals in medically underserved and remote areas of Virginia to access quality specialty care that isn’t always available at home.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Attorney General Garland and Acting Administrator Evans:

I am writing to follow up on my January 2020 letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regarding implementation of critical provisions in the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (Ryan Haight Act) (Public Law 91-513) that ensure patients can successfully access medical treatment via telehealth. I am very concerned that – despite repeated outreach from myself and others in Congress – the previous Administration did not take long-term action to address this issue. I also recognize that much of this delay has been the result of previous Administrations and I hope to work with you all on a new approach that best serves patients.

As you may know – the Ryan Haight Act prohibits the sale of controlled substances without at least one in-person examination by a health care provider, but also directs the DEA to draft rules exempting certain health care providers from this prohibition. The spirit and clear intent of this law is to prevent the illicit use and sale of dangerous controlled substances online while maintaining the ability for legitimate healthcare providers to treat patients in need.

In 2018, I worked with my colleagues in Congress to further clarify this intent by passing the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) (Public Law 115-271). That legislation includes a provision I authored to enable Medicare-eligible individuals suffering from substance use disorder to be diagnosed and treated via telehealth. However, providers treating many of these patients via telehealth are often handicapped by the DEA’s delayed rulemaking and unable to use telehealth to prescribe them the medications they need.

It has now been more than 10 years since the Ryan Haight Act mandated the DEA establish a rule ensuring health care providers can successfully prescribe controlled substances via telehealth, but the DEA still has not acted. The SUPPORT Act again mandated the DEA issue rulemaking by October 2019 and more recently the Fiscal Year 2021 final appropriations report requested DEA establish these rules.

In practice, the DEA’s failure to address this issue means that a vast majority of health care providers that use telehealth to prescribe controlled substances to and otherwise treat their patients have been deterred in getting them the quality care they need. These restrictions have been temporarily waived during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and I welcome that, but patients and providers need a more permanent and long-term solution to this long-delayed rulemaking.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of increased access to telehealth services and providers across the country continue to be frustrated there is no long-term solution for them to provide adequate care to their patients. The DEA’s failure to promulgate the rule has meant that – despite Congress’ best efforts – millions of patients could be left without access to long-term treatment via telehealth.

I am requesting that DEA act as soon as possible to promulgate rulemaking on this issue. I am also requesting that, in the interim, DEA provide my office with an update on its plan and timeline to promulgate such rules. Thank you in advance for your attention to this request and I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely,

 

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Legislative Update

Special Report: Biden’s First 100 Days

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Regardless of party, the American people expect Congress to act on their behalf, and I have made it a practice to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address many of the critical issues facing our Nation. Bipartisanship must be the goal in moving the country forward, and I was hopeful that following President Biden’s calls for unity in his inauguration speech he would govern in a productive and positive manner. But sadly, the President has abandoned his pledges of unity and bipartisanship and has completely ceded to the left-wing base of his party. In his first 100 days, he has created a dangerous crisis at the southern border that threatens our national and health security, refused to lead the way in reopening our schools and our businesses, gutted thousands of jobs, bailed out failed liberal states and cities with taxpayer dollars, made moves to raise taxes on American families, and proposed or spent nearly $6 trillion in an effort to fundamentally alter our economy and push our Nation further into the abyss financially. This Administration and the Democrat Party no longer think in terms of millions or billions of dollars, but rather trillions and American workers and families will soon pay the price for the runaway deficit spending we’ve seen over the past few months.

Border Crisis:
Through promises of amnesty and open borders, the Biden Administration has created an out-of-control surge of illegal immigrants and drugs along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Customs and Border Protection, there has been more than a 400 percent increase in the number of migrants apprehended in March 2021 compared to March 2020, and there has been a 233 percent increase in fentanyl seizures at the border.

President Biden refuses to take responsibility for his actions, and Vice President Harris, who has been tasked with handling this crisis, has yet to visit the southern border. This crisis is only getting worse, and with nearly 520,000 migrants have already crossed the border since January, we are on track to hit more than 2 million illegal crossings by the end of this fiscal year.

As holding facilities continue to exceed capacity, the Biden Administration has even gone so far as to sign a six-month, $86 million contract to put illegal aliens up in hotels, which is ridiculous considering our homeless veterans don’t even get this kind of treatment. Further, 40 percent of Border Patrol agents are being pulled away from their national security duties to help manage the humanitarian issues in holding facilities – meaning there is less manpower at the border. This crisis is the result of failed border policies this Administration has implemented since President Biden took office.


• Halted construction of the border wall

• Reduced immigration enforcement

• Reimplemented “Catch and Release”

• Ended “Remain in Mexico” policy

• Promised citizenship for millions causing caravans to race to the border

• Canceled asylum agreements with our Central and South American partners

Election Payback in Disguise:
We all agree that we must improve our crumbling roads and bridges, and fixing our Nation’s infrastructure should be a bipartisan issue. However, sadly, the Biden Administration has found a way to ensure that it is not. The recently proposed $2.25 trillion packages offered by the President and Speaker Pelosi fails to prioritize traditional infrastructure needs. Instead, it includes $174 billion to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, $213 billion for sustainable housing, $35 billion for climate science research, $45 billion for the EPA, $10 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps, and $27 billion for a National Green Bank.

To make matters worse, the Biden Administration plans to pass the largest tax increase in more than 30 years to help pay for it. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help revitalize our Nation’s infrastructure such as I-81. But any plan must be fiscally responsible, a true transportation bill and not climate legislation, and address the needs of rural communities like ours.

 

 

Court Packing:
The Democrat Majority has shown their willingness to fundamentally alter our National institutions simply to consolidate their power, including taking action to pack the Supreme Court. President Biden has launched a commission to study expanding the Supreme Court, and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has introduced legislation to increase the number of Justices from 9 to 13. Packing the Supreme Court simply because one party doesn’t like the current makeup or is seeking revenge for past appointments is reckless and the epitome of partisanship.

The idea of packing the court has been viewed as nonsensical even by prominent members of the Democrat Party and the High Court’s most liberal Justices. Hopefully, the House Majority and this Administration will listen to the words of those that came before them.

• When President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose portrait is prominently displayed above the fireplace in President Biden’s Oval Office, attempted to pack the Supreme Court to push his political agenda, Democrats in 1937 argued this plan should be so “emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented”.

• Then-Senator Joe Biden warned in 1983 that court-packing could “put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body…in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said: “There are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges. I think that was a bad idea…if anything would make the court appear partisan.”

Justice Steven Breyer said recently: “Structural alteration [to the Court] motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust.”

DC Statehood:
Not caring that a majority of Americans do not support DC statehood, House Democrats recently jammed through H.R. 51, which would make the District of Columbia a state and effectively add two new Democrats to the Senate. While the Founders never intended for the Capital to be a state, I recognize that every American deserves to have an equal voice in Congress. That is why I support the DC-Maryland Reunion Act, which would transfer the residential portions of DC back to Maryland, which is what had previously been done with Arlington and Virginia. This bill would give current DC residents full voting rights as new Maryland residents, avoiding any need for a 51st state.

 

Green New Deal:
Rather than continue Trump-era policies that had our Nation on track toward energy independence and allowed the U.S. to export more crude and petroleum products than we imported for the first time since 1991, the Biden Administration launched an all-out assault on this country’s energy industry through executive orders. Among his first major acts, President Biden canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline, rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, and suspended new oil and gas leasing on federal land. These moves made it clear that he plans to prioritize a Green New Deal Agenda rather than working to secure America’s energy independence and ensure our national security. These actions are a threat to millions of American jobs, which makes Biden’s approach toward energy policy all the more concerning.

Further, this Administration and Congressional Democrats have fully embraced the Green New Deal, which was recently reintroduced. If somehow the policy initiatives called for in the resolution were to be implemented, it could cost $93 trillion over the next ten years, which is more money than the Federal Government has spent combined since 1979. In the name of “climate justice,” this outrageous proposal would crush jobs, cost an average American household nearly $700,000 through 2029, provide paychecks for people unwilling to work, abolish airplanes, fossil fuels, and would require the rebuilding or retrofitting of “all existing buildings” in America. Moreover, it calls for a ban on affordable energy that heats our homes and the elimination of 99% of cars that aren’t “zero-emission vehicle[s].” The resolution is a plan that even Speaker Pelosi has called, “the green dream or whatever they call it.”

While most recognize this plan will never actually come to fruition, it highlights the belief that rather than seeking energy independence through non-government innovation and the free-market, it plans to continue looking to the government as opposed to the private sector to address our Nation’s energy needs. I am a supporter of an “all of the above” energy strategy to meet the current global energy need. Wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, natural gas, renewable nanotechnologies, and fossil fuel usage should all be encouraged, and I am optimistic that consumers will have clean, safe, and reliable choices well into the future. The Green New Deal is a distraction to the discussion of envisioning a 21st Century America that is energy independent, leading in clean energy through private sector innovation, with a prosperous free-market economy offering opportunity for all.

 

Second Amendment:
President Biden has made clear his disdain for the Second Amendment and the House Majority has, in turn, sought to restrict the constitutional rights of Americans. Two bills that the Administration has supported and the House passed this year are H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446. These bills continue the systematic and coordinated attempt by the Democrat Party to undermine our Second Amendment rights. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle claim that these bills will save lives. However, nothing in them would have stopped any of the recent mass casualty shootings that have occurred in our country. Rather than go after criminals who break the law, Democrats want to create a false narrative that will criminalize private gun ownership. Democrats will tell you that these bills close loopholes.

However, the loophole that they believe exists is that law-abiding Americans are able to own guns. The sole objective of this gun control package and other anti-firearm initiatives pushed by this Administration is to remove constitutional safeguards and put in place criminal penalties that would unjustly go after responsible gun owners. The Second Amendment is crystal clear that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to protect us from the government and gave individuals the Second Amendment to protect themselves and their families. I voted no on these two bills and will continue to defend the Second Amendment as the Administration and Speaker Pelosi continue their efforts to undermine our constitutional rights.

 

Stifling Workers’ Rights:
Since taking office, President Biden has prioritized big labor unions rather than actual workers. Recently, the Democrat-controlled House, with the Administration’s support, passed the PRO Act. This bill would more appropriately be titled the PRO Union Bosses Act because it is nothing more than a political gift to labor unions at the expense of workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers. H.R. 842 would wipe out right-to-work laws in 27 states, including here in Virginia. This bill undermines worker rights, traps employers in unrelated labor disputes, wreaks havoc on the economy, and forces Americans to join a union. No one should ever be forced to join a union simply to hold a job or be required to pay dues toward an organization that doesn’t share their values.

This country was founded on the principle that every American deserves the right to create their own success from their own hard work, but at its core, this bill strips citizens of their liberty. As our Founding Father and fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” I will continue to stand with American workers, which is why I introduced the National Right-to-Work Act with my GOP colleagues. This legislation ensures that no American is forced to join a union to keep a job by erasing automatic-dues clauses in federal statute.

Weakening Election Security:
The Constitution vests primary responsibility in state legislatures to set the “times, places, and manner” of congressional elections, allowing states and localities to determine how best to conduct elections that suit the needs of voters in their communities. However, the Biden Administration supported H.R. 1, which passed in the House in early March. This bill reverses the longstanding history of state control over the electoral process and makes unconstitutional changes to our election laws through a top-down federal power grab. Further, rather than strengthening the election process by working with Republicans to find bipartisan solutions, this bill was written without any input from Republican Members.

A few of the most ridiculous provisions embraced by President Biden included in this bill are listed below:

• Allows politicians to line their campaign coffers with taxpayer funds

• Nullifies state voter ID laws

• Mandates that states allow ballot harvesting

• Mandates same-day registration in all 50 states

• Abolishes the signature/notarization requirements for mail-in ballots

• Mandates that absentee ballots be accepted up to 10 days after Election Day

 

 

Executive Orders:
On the campaign trail, President Biden said, “You can’t [legislate] by the executive order unless you’re a dictator… We need consensus.” 100 days later President Biden — loving his dictatorial pen and forgetting the need for consensus — has smashed modern records for executive actions in his first 100 days, signing nearly double that of Presidents Trump and Obama in the same time frame. Biden’s orders include halting construction of the border wall thus opening the gates for the current border crisis, lifting the travel ban on terrorist-ravaged countries, stopping the U.S. from withdrawing from the WHO, and ruining women’s sports by allowing biological men to compete against them.

Worse yet, his orders took thousands of jobs away from hardworking Americans by canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and subjugating the U.S. to energy standards China and India won’t follow, and suspending new oil and gas leasing on federal land. This is a far cry from the “consensus” in governance Joe Biden has preached about. Having been in Washington for 50 years, President Biden should know what regular order is – we must get back to Congress doing the legislating and the Executive enforcing it.

During his inauguration speech, President Biden talked about unity and bipartisanship. His first 100 days have had little of both. Instead, his term has been hijacked by Speaker Pelosi and the Squad, leading to a far-left tax and spend government knows best policy approach that will push our country further into debt. His policy proposals will fundamentally change the role government plays in citizen’s lives from cradle to grave. The United States is headed down a slippery slope, and I will stop this degression by fighting for less government, more self-reliance, energy independence, and protecting the most innocent among – the unborn. The President has a choice – reverse course before it’s too late or preside over a Nation that is no longer the “Shining City Upon a Hill” highlighted by President Reagan.

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

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