Our nation is rich in natural resources, including fossil fuels such as oil, timber, and natural gas that have recently enabled the United States to be energy independent for the first time in over 50 years. This includes the Commonwealth of Virginia, which has an abundant supply of energy sources that could help us fund improvements to our infrastructure, roads, and local schools.
Unfortunately, this week the House voted on legislation that would block the potential for new research and investment in energy production off our Atlantic coastline. The legislation would stifle innovation, prevent job creation, and severely limit the ability of the United States to achieve its full potential of energy independence for the long term.
In my remarks against this legislation on the House Floor, I spoke about my visit earlier this spring to the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, where I was able to see firsthand the great strides that have been made in energy exploration, technology, and innovation. The amazing developments in ensuring that energy resources can be explored and extracted safely, with minimal impact to our environment, demonstrated to me that similar efforts can be achieved back home in the waters off the coast of Virginia. These new developments would ensure that our environmentally sensitive areas can be protected for future generations while we lower energy costs for residents and businesses across the Commonwealth.
Studies have shown that exploring offshore oil and natural gas resources would bring thousands of jobs to Virginia and significantly boost its economy. The legislation passed in the House would block millions of dollars from coming to Virginia, and the federal government should not be in the business of stifling Virginia’s economic growth.
Back in May, several colleagues and I introduced H.R. 2426, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, also known as the CASE Act. This week, I was pleased that this bill passed the Judiciary Committee and now awaits further action on the House Floor.
Should this bill become law, it will create a Copyright Claims Board within the Copyright Office to provide for an efficient and less expensive forum for small creators to better enforce their rights.
Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over copyright. However, because of the high cost of federal litigation, small creators, such as graphic artists, authors, songwriters, photographers, and others across the country, often have difficulty enforcing their rights and protecting their works from infringement. Due to the comparatively low value of their work compared to the high cost of federal litigation, most attorneys do not even consider taking these small cases. This leaves small creators with little remedy to protect their works and their livelihoods. The CASE Act, largely based on a Copyright Office study from 2013, provides these creators with an alternative option to protect their rights.
Protecting the Second Amendment:
Also this week, the Judiciary Committee took up the issue of gun control. Unfortunately, the majority voted in favor of three pieces of legislation that would not have prevented past acts of mass violence. In addition, they refused to consider any Republican bills that would actually work toward preventing future tragedies. Further, the Committee rejected all commonsense amendments, ensuring the bills will likely fail in the Senate.
Instead of searching for common ground, the committee passed legislation that limits our Constitutional rights and infringes on the Second Amendment. The bills that passed will lead to the deprivation of due process rights for citizens across this country. These pieces of legislation are broad and open to inconsistent interpretation and do nothing to address mental health, which is often a contributing cause of mass violence. I opposed these bills and will continue to defend the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
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.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – September 21, 2022
As Congress returned to Washington last week, Americans faced the impacts of one-party rule. The White House resumed its attempts to deceive the American people that inflation is no big deal, that the border is “secure,” and that Green New Deal anti-energy policies are not responsible for rising energy costs. Additionally, my colleagues and I continue to hold the Biden Administration accountable for undermining our military’s readiness because of their failed, unconstitutional policies, such as COVID vaccine mandates and canceling student loan debt. And I was proud to receive an award for my support of small businesses and met with VFW legislative representatives to hear about their priorities in helping Veterans. Lastly, this past week we paid tribute to the more than 81,500 American troops who remain missing from WWII to the Global War on Terror and every American war for freedom in between. We humbly honored those whose debt we can never repay. As the flag outside my Washington office indicates, “You Are Not Forgotten”.
Inflation Rages On, White House Parties
All across the Sixth District, inflation has pummeled the budgets of hardworking Virginians, largely caused by President Biden and House Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar spending spree. When President Biden took office in January ’21, inflation was 1.6%. Today, it is a shocking 8.3%. The result? Americans’ paychecks are shrinking as prices are rising: groceries +13.5%; electricity +15.8%; fuel oil +68.8%; gas +25.6.%; and rent +6.7%. Worse, a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showed that under the “Inflation Acceleration Act,” the debt will increase through 2026.
To help address this crisis, I have worked to push numerous pieces of legislation through the House to address inflation and rising energy prices. One example of this legislation is the American Energy Independence from Russia Act. This important bill includes strategies to encourage increased domestic production of crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas to offset Russian and foreign oil dependency, which would help bring down prices across the board and restore energy independence. In addition, my colleagues and I support a balanced budget that offers reasonable economic and fiscal policies, like keeping tax rates low, consolidating duplicate agencies, devolving responsibility over state programs, and implementing spending cuts to rescue this economy get our fiscal house in order.
“The Border is Secure,” Says VP Harris After 3.2 Million Illegal Crossings
The American people deserve the truth about President Biden’s historic border crisis. From day one, the Biden Administration’s disastrous open border and amnesty policies have made this crisis worse every single day, yet Biden is blind in seeing the chaos at our border. Americans should be outraged by his failed leadership. I’ve been to the southern border and one thing is clear – we need a border wall now. “Border Czar” Kamala Harris said, “the border is secure”. The only thing that’s secure is the cartels’ cash flow from Biden’s Border Crisis.
Fighting for Our Troops and Veterans
Our military is facing the lowest recruitment rates in history, and the Biden Administration is harming our military on multiple levels, from COVID vaccine mandates to student loan forgiveness.
Under Biden’s leadership, his military COVID vaccine mandate is set to kick out over 100,000 servicemembers, jeopardizing our military’s readiness. To address this threat to national security, my colleagues and I signed a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin demanding he ends this disastrous mandate and prioritize the readiness of America’s Armed Forces. Read more here.
Further, the promise of the GI Bill for military service is one of the top reasons individuals join the military. Ending this incentive, at a time when the Armed Services are failing to meet their recruiting goals, will potentially have a detrimental impact on military readiness, and on our Nation’s ability to fight wars and protect the homeland. That’s why I signed a letter with Congressman Pat Fallon (R-PA) and our colleagues to President Biden seeking answers on how cancelling student loan debt will impact military recruitment. Read more here.
Additionally, this week, I was proud to join my colleagues in supporting, in a bipartisan manner, legislation to care for our Veterans. The related bills that passed the House include:
-H.R. 7939 – Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act of 2022, enhances the portability of professional licenses of servicemembers and their spouses, which helps ease the unemployment rate of military spouses that is currently triple the national rate.
-H.R. 7846 – Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2022, would increase the amounts paid for certain Veterans disability benefits by the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) used to determine changes to Social Security benefits.
-H.R. 7735 – Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Benefit Act of 2022, directs the VA to update regulations regarding appraisals for VA home loans with the goal of decreasing the time it takes for a VA home loan to be finalized.
-H.R. 5916 – Wounded Warrior Access Act, directs the VA to establish and maintain a website to enable a claimant or their representative to make records requests related to VA claims and benefits.
-H.R. 8260 – Faster Payments to Veterans’ Survivors Act of 2022, shortens the timeframe in which the VA must pay insurance benefits to an alternative beneficiary.
Source: Department of Defense
Pictures from Washington
Last week in Virginia there was an average of 21 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, up from 20 last week. This week’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 17%, down from 22% last week. For more information, click here.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
Rep. Price and Senator Warner applaud passage of the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act
WASHINGTON, DC (September 21, 2022) —Today, Congressman David Price (D-NC), and Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) commend the passage of their bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, which will now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
“I introduced this bill in direct response to a constituent’s experience with a joint consolidation loan for which he remained wholly responsible for after a divorce. I am delighted by the passage of this common-sense bill that will bring immense relief to borrowers who are victims of abusive or uncommunicative spouses,” said Congressman David Price. “For decades, these borrowers have been trapped, with no legal options available, and this bill will give them the ability to regain their financial freedom. I look forward to this bill arriving on the President’s desk and delivering for America’s federal student debt borrowers.”
“For too long, individuals have been tied to abusive or unresponsive ex-partners through joint student loans,” said Senator Warner. “This legislation offers financial freedom to those who have spent decades unfairly held liable for their former partner’s debt. I am thrilled to see the House of Representatives pass this legislation and look forward to getting it in front of President Biden as quickly as possible to start offering relief to borrowers.”
From January 1, 1993, until June 30, 2006, married couples could combine their student loan debt into joint consolidation loans. Both borrowers agreed at the time to be jointly liable for repayment, which proved problematic if they wanted to separate the loans. Congress eliminated the joint consolidation program effective July 1, 2006, but did not provide a means of severing existing loans, even in cases of domestic violence, economic abuse, or an unresponsive partner. As a result, some borrowers nationwide remain liable for this consolidated debt without legal options for relief.
The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation (JCLS) Act would allow both borrowers to submit a joint application to the Department of Education (ED) to split their joint consolidated loan into two separate federal direct loans. It would also allow one borrower to submit a separate application if they are experiencing domestic or economic abuse or cannot reasonably reach the other borrower. The remainder of the joint consolidated loan will be split proportionally.
While the universe of borrowers still making payments on a joint consolidation loan is relatively small, this legislation would greatly benefit the individual borrowers who are most in need of relief (including victims of abuse and those who are unable to get in touch with their ex-spouse).
This bill has the support of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Consumer Law Center, American Federation of Teachers, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. This bill was included in the Education and Labor Committee’s Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization during the last two Congresses.
Warner & Kaine secure nearly $135 million for Virginia in Senate FY2023 budget bills
WASHINGTON, D.C. —On September 13, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced that they successfully secured nearly $135 million in federal funding for Virginia in pending government funding bills for the Fiscal Year 2023, as the latest text of the bills was recently unveiled by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The next step for the legislation is markup and advancement by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is expected later this year, followed by Senate floor consideration.
“I’m proud to have worked to secure these investments for communities all throughout Virginia,” said Warner. “By propelling impactful local projects, these dedicated federal dollars will further build on the progress we’ve made through the bipartisan infrastructure law and the many rounds of COVID-19 relief funding authorized by Congress. I look forward to seeing these diverse projects generate jobs, support Virginia’s tourism economy, make neighborhoods safer, and bring communities together.”
“The annual budget is always an important opportunity to fight for Virginia priorities and America’s leadership worldwide—and I’m pleased with how that effort is shaping up for the upcoming Fiscal Year,” said Kaine. “I will keep fighting to keep the many critical components of these bills intact as we get this budget across the finish line—from keeping Virginia communities safe from gun violence, COVID, and future health crises; to addressing food insecurity and the root causes of migration.”
As part of last year’s budget process, the Senate revived a process allowing Congress members to make Congressionally Directed Spending requests, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects.
Through strong advocacy, the senators secured—and will fight to keep—Congressionally Directed Spending dollars in the funding bills for the following projects in Virginia:
- For projects in Northern Virginia, click here.
- For projects in Central Virginia, click here.
- For projects in Southwest Virginia and Southside, click here.
- For projects in the Shenandoah Valley, click here.
- For projects in Hampton Roads, click here.
- For projects that impact communities in multiple regions across the Commonwealth, click here.
In addition, should they be passed as-is, the budget bills include funding for the following Warner and Kaine priorities:
Boosting Local Economies: Includes $200 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and $7 million for the Southwest Crescent Regional Commission to support their work to build economic partnerships, create opportunity, and foster economic development.
Strengthening Transportation and Recreation Infrastructure: Provides $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and $25 million for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which supports multi-purpose trails.
Making Our Communities Safer: Provides $50 million for Community Violence Prevention grants to support communities in developing comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs, including efforts to address gang and gun violence, based on partnerships between community residents, law enforcement, local government agencies, and other community stakeholders.
Support for Missing Persons Program: Includes $1 million to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. In 2018, Warner secured unanimous Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, legislation that created a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18-64. The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018.
Addressing Gun Violence: Provides $100 million for new violence intervention programs to prevent mass casualty or gang-related gun violence. Additionally, provides $60 million—a $30 million increase compared to Fiscal Year 2022—to support research into effective ways to prevent firearm-related injuries.
Fighting Hunger: Includes over $2 billion to combat global hunger and malnutrition, following Kaine’s emphasis on the threat Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses to food security worldwide and Warner’s successful efforts to support non-governmental organizations responding to the food crisis.
Fighting COVID: Includes $16 billion in funding for the procurement of additional COVID vaccines and therapeutics and to support the development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics that could better protect Virginians against new COVID variants.
Addressing Americans’ Long COVID Needs: Includes $15 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to provide the research needed to ensure those experiencing long COVID have access to the patient-centered, coordinated care they need; address disparities in diagnosis and treatment of long COVID; and identify treatments for the condition. Also provides the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with $25 million to continue studying long COVID. Both of these efforts were first outlined in Senator Kaine’s CARE for Long COVID Act.
Supporting Health Care Providers: Includes $30 million further to implement the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Act, legislation Kaine wrote and named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a physician from Charlottesville who was working on the front lines of the pandemic in New York and died by suicide in the spring of 2020. The resources will go toward comprehensive and evidence-based support to prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care providers. Kaine led a bipartisan push to include this funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
Addressing the Maternal Mortality Crisis: Includes $496 million—an increase of $304 million above Fiscal Year 2022 funding—for the Maternal Mortality Initiative, following a bipartisan push led by Kaine for funding to prevent maternal deaths, eliminate inequities in maternal health outcomes, and improve maternal health.
Pandemic Preparedness: Includes $10.5 billion in non-emergency funding for global health—a $680 million increase compared to the Fiscal Year 2022—and $5 billion to support national COVID vaccination campaigns in countries with low vaccination rates. This funding is critical to protecting Americans from the impacts of disease outbreaks worldwide.
Modernizing America’s Health Data Infrastructure: Includes $200 million—an increase of $100 million compared to the Fiscal Year 2022—to modernize the public health data systems that help support healthy communities throughout America. Kaine, who pushed for this funding, also crafted the Improving Data Accessibility Through Advancements (DATA) in Public Health Act, legislation to increase timely and accurate information sharing between local, state, and federal public health departments to improve our preparedness and response to emerging public health threats.
Increasing Funding for Pediatric Research: Provides $12.6 million to fund further the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act—legislation championed by Warner and Kaine and named after a child from Loudoun County who died from a brain tumor in 2013.
Reducing Tobacco Use: Includes $20 million in funding to support the CDC, states, and territories’ continued efforts to reduce tobacco use among disparate populations and regions with high tobacco prevalence and mortality and to expand the highly successful and cost-effective Tips from Former Smokers media campaign. The investment follows a successful bipartisan push by Kaine to raise the tobacco age from 18 to 21 and a push to ensure that the Food and Drug Administration could regulate synthetic nicotine.
Addressing the Root Causes of Migration: Provides resources for diverse programs to help improve the conditions that drive migration from Central America, including programs focused on counter-narcotics efforts and economic development.
Expanding High-Speed Internet Access: Includes $400 million for the USDA’s ReConnect Program to expand access to high-speed broadband to remote, underserved areas. Warner and Kaine have been vocal advocates for expanding broadband. As Governors and Senators, Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding broadband access in Virginia. During the pandemic, they secured significant funding for broadband through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Warner and Kaine also joined a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership requesting this funding earlier this year. Warner also secured billions of dollars for broadband expansion in the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Increasing Military Pay and Compensation: Includes $1.5 billion to fund a 4.6 percent pay raise for servicemembers fully. Also includes roughly $1.5 billion in additional funding for compensation to help with rising costs and $373 million for several military family support programs. Warner, who pushed for this funding, has long stressed the need for increased support for servicemembers through legislation such as the Military Hunger Prevention Act, which helps low-income military families put food on the table.
Economic Support for Underserved Communities: Provides $324 million for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institution Fund. Warner, who requested this funding, has led efforts in Congress to support CDFIs through legislation, including the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act and the creation of the bipartisan Senate Community Development Finance Caucus.
Addressing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Delays and Customer Service Issues: Includes $310 Million for the IRS, which will enable IRS to continue to update ancient computer systems, improve customer service, and reduce wait times for refunds and other services. Warner and Kaine have consistently pushed the IRS to address poor customer service and severe delays within the department.
Support for Miners: Includes $11.845 million for Black Lung Clinics. Warner and Kaine have actively worked to secure benefits for miners and their families suffering from black lung disease. In August, the Inflation Reduction Act, supported by both Warner and Kaine, permanently extended the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits.
In addition to battling for these priorities, the Senators will work to ensure that funds obtained by Virginia House members also remain in the ultimate budget package.
Warner & Kaine celebrate Inflation Reduction Act becoming law
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law:
“We’re proud that this law will lower the price of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, bring down energy bills and fight climate change. We’re also glad that it will help ensure that miners suffering from black lung and their families get the care and benefits they deserve. We will continue to look for ways to support the health and well-being of our communities, decrease inflation, and lower costs for Virginians.”
Below are some of the ways the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit Virginians:
Lower Prescription Drug Costs
- The law allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities—a provision Warner and Kaine have long fought to pass to lower prescription drug costs.
- The law establishes a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for seniors covered under Medicare Part D. In 2020, more than 36,000 Virginians with Medicare Part D spent more than $2,000 out-of-pocket on their prescription drugs.
- The law expands the Low-Income Subsidy program, a program that currently helps cover prescription drug costs for over 11,000 low-income Virginians with Medicare.
- The law provides free coverage for vaccines under Medicare Part D and improves access to vaccines under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In 2020, nearly 85,000 Virginians received a vaccine covered under Medicare Part D.
Affordable Health Care
- During the pandemic, Congress enhanced subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help lower health care premiums for millions of Americans. The Inflation Reduction Act will extend these enhanced subsidies for three years through 2025 to help make Virginians’ health insurance more affordable. Over 300,000 Virginians have ACA coverage in 2022.
- The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that Virginians with ACA insurance would have seen a $71 increase in their monthly premiums for the next coverage year if these subsidies weren’t extended.
Black Lung Benefits
- The law permanently extends the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits. In Virginia, thousands of miners and their families have received benefits through the trust fund since it was established, including approximately 2,600 Virginians last year alone.
Clean Energy and Climate Provisions
- The law will reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
- The law incentivizes investment in and production of renewable energy technologies like solar power and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. The Inflation Reduction Act expands the 48C investment tax credit for clean energy manufacturers, with $4 billion reserved for use exclusively in coal communities. All clean energy tax credits include a bonus for meeting domestic manufacturing requirements related to steel, iron, or other manufactured components. The law also expands tax credits for residential clean energy and home efficiency improvements.
- According to a recent analysis, the clean energy provisions are expected to create nearly 1 million jobs per year.
- The law includes tax credits for clean medium and heavy duty trucks, such as those produced at the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant.
- The law includes a $7,500 consumer credit for the purchase of new electric vehicles and incentivizes that vehicles are produced in North America.
- The law includes $9.7 billion for financial assistance to rural electric cooperatives to improve resilience and affordability.
- The law includes $2 billion for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program to provide competitive grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.
- The law includes $20 billion to help farmers and ranchers adopt agriculture conservation practices that improve landscape resilience.
- The law takes steps to make sure that the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, without increasing taxes on small businesses or families making less than $400,000 a year.
- The law also provides funding to modernize Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systems and improve customer service when paying taxes. This will help ensure the IRS has the resources it needs to process tax returns quickly, get rebates to taxpayers faster, and address challenges Americans have when filing taxes.
Warner & Kaine announce more than $2.1 million in funding to address COVID-19 in rural Virginia communities
On August 12, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,124,300 in emergency rural health care funding to bolster federal support in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be provided to the Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, Tazewell Community Hospital in Tazewell, and Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap. This funding was awarded through the Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“As Virginia communities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we provide resources to help protect Virginians,” said the Senators. “That’s why we are pleased to see these grants go towards COVID vaccination and testing, telehealth and food assistance services, ventilation systems, and financial aid.”
The funding will be awarded as below:
- $36,800 for Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, VA, to provide COVID-19 testing kits, rapid testing supplies, and vaccinations, as well as additional staffing to meet the needs of the rural counties served. This investment will benefit approximately 27,350 residents.
- $1,000,000 for Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, VA, to purchase telehealth, remote monitoring systems, COVID testing, a mobile clinic, and food assistance. In addition, the funds will be used to train current nursing staff. This project aims to connect rural patients to Valley Health telehealth services and Page County internet infrastructure. This project will benefit approximately 24,042 residents.
- $335,000 for Carilion Clinic (Tazewell Community Hospital) in Tazewell, VA, to upgrade the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The HVAC system will follow the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 operational protocols for health care and will service the lab and patient care areas, as the current HVAC system is old and unreliable. This investment will benefit approximately 45,078 residents.
- $752,500 for Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap, VA, to replace lost health care revenue and help with financial difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will benefit approximately 70,997 residents.
The USDA’s Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program is designed to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, rural health care services, and food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities.
Senators Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for rural communities and health care access in the Commonwealth. Last year, both Senators helped pass the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief bill that provided $20 billion to improve vaccine distribution, $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to procure essential medical equipment, and $50 billion for virus testing, genomic sequencing to detect new variants, contract tracing, and additional PPE. Additionally, Senator Warner introduced legislation, cosponsored by Senator Kaine, to expand telehealth services through Medicare, connecting patients to doctors and cutting costs for patients and providers. Senator Kaine also introduced legislation to expand health care to rural areas through telehealth as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019. The bill was passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.
Kaine, Murkowski, Sinema, and Collins introduce legislation to codify Roe v. Wade
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.