Special Report: Surrender of Afghanistan
The consequences of ill planning became clear as we surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban, leaving an untold number of American citizens behind. America also saw the compassion of its people in relief efforts throughout Virginia and the country to those families who made it to safety. While the mission has moved to Qatar, the goal of making sure every single American is rescued and that no one is left behind must become our focus. Anything short of this will be unacceptable. When books are written and military strategy is taught about the catastrophic withdrawal of Afghanistan, those lessons will, unfortunately, include a focus on its failures and mistakes. There will also be a reckoning for those responsible, beginning with President Biden. I urge Speaker Pelosi to begin an immediate investigation into the failures of this Administration’s plan and into the civilian and military leadership who carried it out. We owe this to every American taxpayer and especially to those families impacted by this war and its conclusion.
Despite increasing Taliban violence in the first three months of 2021 and intelligence that the Taliban and al-Qaida were maintaining close ties, on April 14, 2021, President Biden announced a full United States troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. During this announcement, the President said, ‘‘We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit’’ and, ‘‘We’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely.’’ This was despite the assessments from his own intelligence community about prospects for the fall of the government in Kabul.
Matters were made worse on July 6, when the US military was withdrawn from Bagram Air Base, reportedly without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander. Further, on July 12, President Biden ordered 4-star General Austin Miller, Commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces-Afghanistan, to relinquish his position and depart Afghanistan, leaving the remaining United States presence without a seasoned leader in the face of a growing Taliban offensive. Additionally, despite the President saying, “there’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan,” and that, “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely,” the situation still rapidly devolved.
On August 6, the first Provincial capital, Zaranj, fell to the Taliban and led to a violent onslaught of offensives throughout other Provinces. By August 15, the United States Embassy in Kabul was evacuated and Taliban fighters soon stood outside chanting ‘‘Death to America.’’ From there, the stories of devastation only got worse. Americans and our Afghan partners struggled desperately to get to the airport for evacuation – many of which never made it – billions of dollars of US military equipment fell into the hands of the Taliban to now be used against our troops in the region, violence erupted in the streets, women, and girls had their freedoms stripped from them, and of course, worst of all, 13 brave US service members lost their lives following two cowardly suicide bombings outside of Hamid Karzai Airport. Each of these tragedies was preventable. Bad decision after bad decision from this Administration, compounded in an utter failure that has resulted in the loss of Afghanistan for generations. Those responsible must be held accountable for this disaster.
Leave No One Behind:
On August 19, President Biden told ABC News unequivocally that the US would not leave any Americans stranded. He said, “If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out.” As the August 31 deadline came and went, President Biden broke his promise. He caved to the Taliban’s demands, abandoned his fellow Americans in a hostile country, and left thousands of Afghan partners to be hunted and slaughtered by the Taliban. In a matter of just a few weeks, the mantra of the United States military went from, “leave no one behind,” to, “we’re content leaving some of you behind.”
President Biden has claimed that the overwhelming majority of Americans left in Afghanistan wanted to stay. But this notion was undercut by his own military leadership. General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said Monday that Americans tried to get to the Kabul airport for the final evacuations but couldn’t. He said, “We maintained the ability to bring them in up until immediately before departure, but we were not able to bring any Americans out. That activity ended probably about 12 hours before our exit, although we continued the outreach and would have been prepared to bring them on until the very last minute. But none of them made it to the airport, and were able to be accommodated.” At the current time, the State Department estimates that there are at least 100 to 200 Americans still stranded in the country. This is on top of the thousands of Afghan allies who aided the war effort and protected American troops. This President failed our people and neglected the promises we made to our allies.
The United States owes a debt of gratitude to Afghan citizens who aided the war effort in various capacities over the past 20 years. We must honor our commitments to those who put their lives on the line to protect American soldiers, and they deserve to be given refuge from the brutality of the Taliban as they were promised. However, the hurried evacuation of more than 100,000 Afghan nationals over the past several weeks raises serious concerns about the vetting process that has been done for those evacuees. On August 29, 2021, President Biden directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to serve as the lead agency to coordinate the federal government’s efforts to resettle Afghans in the United States.
This announcement follows a memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security to US Customs and Border Protection on August 23, 2021, indicating that the agency found it appropriate to exercise discretionary authority to parole certain Afghan nationals into the United States. Since then, there have been multiple media reports of individuals with criminal records or potential ties to terrorist organizations being evacuated from Afghanistan. For example, the Washington Times has reported that an individual who was, “convicted of rape and deported from the US was allowed to board an Afghan evacuation flight and reach America.” Further, according to multiple media accounts, a US government official warned that as many as 100 Afghan evacuees flown out of Afghanistan are on government watch lists. These reports are extremely troubling, and we must ensure that anyone being brought to the United States has been fully vetted. That is why this week I joined my colleagues in writing to Secretary Mayorkas seeking answers to several key questions regarding the vetting process. That letter can be found here.
Office Available to Help:
From the very onset of this humanitarian crisis, my office heard from concerned constituents across the Sixth District, as well as from families who had loved ones and fellow American citizens stranded in Afghanistan. My office exhausted every possible resource and worked with the State Department to provide folks with the necessary tools to get to the airport before US forces left this week. Fortunately, we were successful in several cases in assisting the State Department in evacuating folks from the country. However, there is more work to be done. My office continues to process requests and will continue working the proper channels to aid those still in need to the best of our ability. Please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my District offices listed at the bottom of the page if you or someone you know needs assistance. For the latest resources from the State Department, click here.
Resources for Veterans:
Veterans who answered the call to serve our Nation – including over the last two decades in Afghanistan – deserve our thanks and respect. They also need to know they are not alone. Listed below are resources available to Veterans, provided through the US Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations. For emergency mental health care, Veterans can also go directly to their local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care. September is Suicide Prevention Month. If you are experiencing depression or thoughts of suicide, please know that there is help available.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
Warner & Kaine announce $2 million in federal funding to expand access to substance use prevention & treatment in Luray and Tappahannock
On September 26, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2 million in federal funding for the Virginia Rural Health Association in Luray and the Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance in Tappahannock to expand access to substance use disorder treatment and prevention services. The funding for Luray was awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, and the funding for Tappahannock was awarded through HRSA’s Medication Assisted Treatment Access Program.
In a joint statement, Senator Warner and Kaine said, “The opioid and substance use crisis continues to have a devastating impact on Virginians across the Commonwealth, particularly in communities with limited access to treatment and preventive services. Every Virginian struggling with a substance use disorder deserves critical care and support, and we’re glad this funding will provide greater resources for them.”
The funding will be distributed as follows:
- $1,000,000 for the Virginia Rural Health Association to expand treatment and prevention services for substance use disorders
- $1,000,000 for the Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance to establish a new medication-assisted treatment access point that will provide medications and support services for individuals with opioid and substance use disorders
Warner and Kaine have long worked to address the opioid and substance use crisis that has impacted communities across Virginia. Last month, Warner and Kaine pressed the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for additional assistance to combat drug trafficking in the Appalachian region. In March 2021, Warner and Kaine voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, which provided Virginia with nearly $70 million in funding to bolster mental health and substance abuse programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, Kaine was critical in passing a comprehensive bill to address opioid and substance use disorder treatment and prevention. Kaine recently held a roundtable with community leaders in Harrisonburg about the need to provide more support and treatment for Virginians with substance use disorders.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – September 21, 2022
As Congress returned to Washington last week, Americans faced the impacts of one-party rule. The White House resumed its attempts to deceive the American people that inflation is no big deal, that the border is “secure,” and that Green New Deal anti-energy policies are not responsible for rising energy costs. Additionally, my colleagues and I continue to hold the Biden Administration accountable for undermining our military’s readiness because of their failed, unconstitutional policies, such as COVID vaccine mandates and canceling student loan debt. And I was proud to receive an award for my support of small businesses and met with VFW legislative representatives to hear about their priorities in helping Veterans. Lastly, this past week we paid tribute to the more than 81,500 American troops who remain missing from WWII to the Global War on Terror and every American war for freedom in between. We humbly honored those whose debt we can never repay. As the flag outside my Washington office indicates, “You Are Not Forgotten”.
Inflation Rages On, White House Parties
All across the Sixth District, inflation has pummeled the budgets of hardworking Virginians, largely caused by President Biden and House Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar spending spree. When President Biden took office in January ’21, inflation was 1.6%. Today, it is a shocking 8.3%. The result? Americans’ paychecks are shrinking as prices are rising: groceries +13.5%; electricity +15.8%; fuel oil +68.8%; gas +25.6.%; and rent +6.7%. Worse, a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showed that under the “Inflation Acceleration Act,” the debt will increase through 2026.
To help address this crisis, I have worked to push numerous pieces of legislation through the House to address inflation and rising energy prices. One example of this legislation is the American Energy Independence from Russia Act. This important bill includes strategies to encourage increased domestic production of crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas to offset Russian and foreign oil dependency, which would help bring down prices across the board and restore energy independence. In addition, my colleagues and I support a balanced budget that offers reasonable economic and fiscal policies, like keeping tax rates low, consolidating duplicate agencies, devolving responsibility over state programs, and implementing spending cuts to rescue this economy get our fiscal house in order.
“The Border is Secure,” Says VP Harris After 3.2 Million Illegal Crossings
The American people deserve the truth about President Biden’s historic border crisis. From day one, the Biden Administration’s disastrous open border and amnesty policies have made this crisis worse every single day, yet Biden is blind in seeing the chaos at our border. Americans should be outraged by his failed leadership. I’ve been to the southern border and one thing is clear – we need a border wall now. “Border Czar” Kamala Harris said, “the border is secure”. The only thing that’s secure is the cartels’ cash flow from Biden’s Border Crisis.
Fighting for Our Troops and Veterans
Our military is facing the lowest recruitment rates in history, and the Biden Administration is harming our military on multiple levels, from COVID vaccine mandates to student loan forgiveness.
Under Biden’s leadership, his military COVID vaccine mandate is set to kick out over 100,000 servicemembers, jeopardizing our military’s readiness. To address this threat to national security, my colleagues and I signed a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin demanding he ends this disastrous mandate and prioritize the readiness of America’s Armed Forces. Read more here.
Further, the promise of the GI Bill for military service is one of the top reasons individuals join the military. Ending this incentive, at a time when the Armed Services are failing to meet their recruiting goals, will potentially have a detrimental impact on military readiness, and on our Nation’s ability to fight wars and protect the homeland. That’s why I signed a letter with Congressman Pat Fallon (R-PA) and our colleagues to President Biden seeking answers on how cancelling student loan debt will impact military recruitment. Read more here.
Additionally, this week, I was proud to join my colleagues in supporting, in a bipartisan manner, legislation to care for our Veterans. The related bills that passed the House include:
-H.R. 7939 – Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act of 2022, enhances the portability of professional licenses of servicemembers and their spouses, which helps ease the unemployment rate of military spouses that is currently triple the national rate.
-H.R. 7846 – Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act of 2022, would increase the amounts paid for certain Veterans disability benefits by the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) used to determine changes to Social Security benefits.
-H.R. 7735 – Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Benefit Act of 2022, directs the VA to update regulations regarding appraisals for VA home loans with the goal of decreasing the time it takes for a VA home loan to be finalized.
-H.R. 5916 – Wounded Warrior Access Act, directs the VA to establish and maintain a website to enable a claimant or their representative to make records requests related to VA claims and benefits.
-H.R. 8260 – Faster Payments to Veterans’ Survivors Act of 2022, shortens the timeframe in which the VA must pay insurance benefits to an alternative beneficiary.
Source: Department of Defense
Pictures from Washington
Last week in Virginia there was an average of 21 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, up from 20 last week. This week’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 17%, down from 22% last week. For more information, click here.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
Rep. Price and Senator Warner applaud passage of the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act
WASHINGTON, DC (September 21, 2022) —Today, Congressman David Price (D-NC), and Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) commend the passage of their bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, which will now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
“I introduced this bill in direct response to a constituent’s experience with a joint consolidation loan for which he remained wholly responsible for after a divorce. I am delighted by the passage of this common-sense bill that will bring immense relief to borrowers who are victims of abusive or uncommunicative spouses,” said Congressman David Price. “For decades, these borrowers have been trapped, with no legal options available, and this bill will give them the ability to regain their financial freedom. I look forward to this bill arriving on the President’s desk and delivering for America’s federal student debt borrowers.”
“For too long, individuals have been tied to abusive or unresponsive ex-partners through joint student loans,” said Senator Warner. “This legislation offers financial freedom to those who have spent decades unfairly held liable for their former partner’s debt. I am thrilled to see the House of Representatives pass this legislation and look forward to getting it in front of President Biden as quickly as possible to start offering relief to borrowers.”
From January 1, 1993, until June 30, 2006, married couples could combine their student loan debt into joint consolidation loans. Both borrowers agreed at the time to be jointly liable for repayment, which proved problematic if they wanted to separate the loans. Congress eliminated the joint consolidation program effective July 1, 2006, but did not provide a means of severing existing loans, even in cases of domestic violence, economic abuse, or an unresponsive partner. As a result, some borrowers nationwide remain liable for this consolidated debt without legal options for relief.
The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation (JCLS) Act would allow both borrowers to submit a joint application to the Department of Education (ED) to split their joint consolidated loan into two separate federal direct loans. It would also allow one borrower to submit a separate application if they are experiencing domestic or economic abuse or cannot reasonably reach the other borrower. The remainder of the joint consolidated loan will be split proportionally.
While the universe of borrowers still making payments on a joint consolidation loan is relatively small, this legislation would greatly benefit the individual borrowers who are most in need of relief (including victims of abuse and those who are unable to get in touch with their ex-spouse).
This bill has the support of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Consumer Law Center, American Federation of Teachers, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. This bill was included in the Education and Labor Committee’s Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization during the last two Congresses.
Warner & Kaine secure nearly $135 million for Virginia in Senate FY2023 budget bills
WASHINGTON, D.C. —On September 13, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced that they successfully secured nearly $135 million in federal funding for Virginia in pending government funding bills for the Fiscal Year 2023, as the latest text of the bills was recently unveiled by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The next step for the legislation is markup and advancement by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is expected later this year, followed by Senate floor consideration.
“I’m proud to have worked to secure these investments for communities all throughout Virginia,” said Warner. “By propelling impactful local projects, these dedicated federal dollars will further build on the progress we’ve made through the bipartisan infrastructure law and the many rounds of COVID-19 relief funding authorized by Congress. I look forward to seeing these diverse projects generate jobs, support Virginia’s tourism economy, make neighborhoods safer, and bring communities together.”
“The annual budget is always an important opportunity to fight for Virginia priorities and America’s leadership worldwide—and I’m pleased with how that effort is shaping up for the upcoming Fiscal Year,” said Kaine. “I will keep fighting to keep the many critical components of these bills intact as we get this budget across the finish line—from keeping Virginia communities safe from gun violence, COVID, and future health crises; to addressing food insecurity and the root causes of migration.”
As part of last year’s budget process, the Senate revived a process allowing Congress members to make Congressionally Directed Spending requests, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects.
Through strong advocacy, the senators secured—and will fight to keep—Congressionally Directed Spending dollars in the funding bills for the following projects in Virginia:
- For projects in Northern Virginia, click here.
- For projects in Central Virginia, click here.
- For projects in Southwest Virginia and Southside, click here.
- For projects in the Shenandoah Valley, click here.
- For projects in Hampton Roads, click here.
- For projects that impact communities in multiple regions across the Commonwealth, click here.
In addition, should they be passed as-is, the budget bills include funding for the following Warner and Kaine priorities:
Boosting Local Economies: Includes $200 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and $7 million for the Southwest Crescent Regional Commission to support their work to build economic partnerships, create opportunity, and foster economic development.
Strengthening Transportation and Recreation Infrastructure: Provides $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and $25 million for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which supports multi-purpose trails.
Making Our Communities Safer: Provides $50 million for Community Violence Prevention grants to support communities in developing comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs, including efforts to address gang and gun violence, based on partnerships between community residents, law enforcement, local government agencies, and other community stakeholders.
Support for Missing Persons Program: Includes $1 million to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. In 2018, Warner secured unanimous Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, legislation that created a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18-64. The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018.
Addressing Gun Violence: Provides $100 million for new violence intervention programs to prevent mass casualty or gang-related gun violence. Additionally, provides $60 million—a $30 million increase compared to Fiscal Year 2022—to support research into effective ways to prevent firearm-related injuries.
Fighting Hunger: Includes over $2 billion to combat global hunger and malnutrition, following Kaine’s emphasis on the threat Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses to food security worldwide and Warner’s successful efforts to support non-governmental organizations responding to the food crisis.
Fighting COVID: Includes $16 billion in funding for the procurement of additional COVID vaccines and therapeutics and to support the development of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics that could better protect Virginians against new COVID variants.
Addressing Americans’ Long COVID Needs: Includes $15 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to provide the research needed to ensure those experiencing long COVID have access to the patient-centered, coordinated care they need; address disparities in diagnosis and treatment of long COVID; and identify treatments for the condition. Also provides the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with $25 million to continue studying long COVID. Both of these efforts were first outlined in Senator Kaine’s CARE for Long COVID Act.
Supporting Health Care Providers: Includes $30 million further to implement the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Act, legislation Kaine wrote and named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a physician from Charlottesville who was working on the front lines of the pandemic in New York and died by suicide in the spring of 2020. The resources will go toward comprehensive and evidence-based support to prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care providers. Kaine led a bipartisan push to include this funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
Addressing the Maternal Mortality Crisis: Includes $496 million—an increase of $304 million above Fiscal Year 2022 funding—for the Maternal Mortality Initiative, following a bipartisan push led by Kaine for funding to prevent maternal deaths, eliminate inequities in maternal health outcomes, and improve maternal health.
Pandemic Preparedness: Includes $10.5 billion in non-emergency funding for global health—a $680 million increase compared to the Fiscal Year 2022—and $5 billion to support national COVID vaccination campaigns in countries with low vaccination rates. This funding is critical to protecting Americans from the impacts of disease outbreaks worldwide.
Modernizing America’s Health Data Infrastructure: Includes $200 million—an increase of $100 million compared to the Fiscal Year 2022—to modernize the public health data systems that help support healthy communities throughout America. Kaine, who pushed for this funding, also crafted the Improving Data Accessibility Through Advancements (DATA) in Public Health Act, legislation to increase timely and accurate information sharing between local, state, and federal public health departments to improve our preparedness and response to emerging public health threats.
Increasing Funding for Pediatric Research: Provides $12.6 million to fund further the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act—legislation championed by Warner and Kaine and named after a child from Loudoun County who died from a brain tumor in 2013.
Reducing Tobacco Use: Includes $20 million in funding to support the CDC, states, and territories’ continued efforts to reduce tobacco use among disparate populations and regions with high tobacco prevalence and mortality and to expand the highly successful and cost-effective Tips from Former Smokers media campaign. The investment follows a successful bipartisan push by Kaine to raise the tobacco age from 18 to 21 and a push to ensure that the Food and Drug Administration could regulate synthetic nicotine.
Addressing the Root Causes of Migration: Provides resources for diverse programs to help improve the conditions that drive migration from Central America, including programs focused on counter-narcotics efforts and economic development.
Expanding High-Speed Internet Access: Includes $400 million for the USDA’s ReConnect Program to expand access to high-speed broadband to remote, underserved areas. Warner and Kaine have been vocal advocates for expanding broadband. As Governors and Senators, Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding broadband access in Virginia. During the pandemic, they secured significant funding for broadband through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Warner and Kaine also joined a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership requesting this funding earlier this year. Warner also secured billions of dollars for broadband expansion in the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Increasing Military Pay and Compensation: Includes $1.5 billion to fund a 4.6 percent pay raise for servicemembers fully. Also includes roughly $1.5 billion in additional funding for compensation to help with rising costs and $373 million for several military family support programs. Warner, who pushed for this funding, has long stressed the need for increased support for servicemembers through legislation such as the Military Hunger Prevention Act, which helps low-income military families put food on the table.
Economic Support for Underserved Communities: Provides $324 million for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institution Fund. Warner, who requested this funding, has led efforts in Congress to support CDFIs through legislation, including the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act and the creation of the bipartisan Senate Community Development Finance Caucus.
Addressing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Delays and Customer Service Issues: Includes $310 Million for the IRS, which will enable IRS to continue to update ancient computer systems, improve customer service, and reduce wait times for refunds and other services. Warner and Kaine have consistently pushed the IRS to address poor customer service and severe delays within the department.
Support for Miners: Includes $11.845 million for Black Lung Clinics. Warner and Kaine have actively worked to secure benefits for miners and their families suffering from black lung disease. In August, the Inflation Reduction Act, supported by both Warner and Kaine, permanently extended the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits.
In addition to battling for these priorities, the Senators will work to ensure that funds obtained by Virginia House members also remain in the ultimate budget package.
Warner & Kaine celebrate Inflation Reduction Act becoming law
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law:
“We’re proud that this law will lower the price of prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, bring down energy bills and fight climate change. We’re also glad that it will help ensure that miners suffering from black lung and their families get the care and benefits they deserve. We will continue to look for ways to support the health and well-being of our communities, decrease inflation, and lower costs for Virginians.”
Below are some of the ways the Inflation Reduction Act will benefit Virginians:
Lower Prescription Drug Costs
- The law allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors and people with disabilities—a provision Warner and Kaine have long fought to pass to lower prescription drug costs.
- The law establishes a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs for seniors covered under Medicare Part D. In 2020, more than 36,000 Virginians with Medicare Part D spent more than $2,000 out-of-pocket on their prescription drugs.
- The law expands the Low-Income Subsidy program, a program that currently helps cover prescription drug costs for over 11,000 low-income Virginians with Medicare.
- The law provides free coverage for vaccines under Medicare Part D and improves access to vaccines under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In 2020, nearly 85,000 Virginians received a vaccine covered under Medicare Part D.
Affordable Health Care
- During the pandemic, Congress enhanced subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help lower health care premiums for millions of Americans. The Inflation Reduction Act will extend these enhanced subsidies for three years through 2025 to help make Virginians’ health insurance more affordable. Over 300,000 Virginians have ACA coverage in 2022.
- The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that Virginians with ACA insurance would have seen a $71 increase in their monthly premiums for the next coverage year if these subsidies weren’t extended.
Black Lung Benefits
- The law permanently extends the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits. In Virginia, thousands of miners and their families have received benefits through the trust fund since it was established, including approximately 2,600 Virginians last year alone.
Clean Energy and Climate Provisions
- The law will reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
- The law incentivizes investment in and production of renewable energy technologies like solar power and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. The Inflation Reduction Act expands the 48C investment tax credit for clean energy manufacturers, with $4 billion reserved for use exclusively in coal communities. All clean energy tax credits include a bonus for meeting domestic manufacturing requirements related to steel, iron, or other manufactured components. The law also expands tax credits for residential clean energy and home efficiency improvements.
- According to a recent analysis, the clean energy provisions are expected to create nearly 1 million jobs per year.
- The law includes tax credits for clean medium and heavy duty trucks, such as those produced at the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant.
- The law includes a $7,500 consumer credit for the purchase of new electric vehicles and incentivizes that vehicles are produced in North America.
- The law includes $9.7 billion for financial assistance to rural electric cooperatives to improve resilience and affordability.
- The law includes $2 billion for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program to provide competitive grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.
- The law includes $20 billion to help farmers and ranchers adopt agriculture conservation practices that improve landscape resilience.
- The law takes steps to make sure that the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans pay their fair share in taxes, without increasing taxes on small businesses or families making less than $400,000 a year.
- The law also provides funding to modernize Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systems and improve customer service when paying taxes. This will help ensure the IRS has the resources it needs to process tax returns quickly, get rebates to taxpayers faster, and address challenges Americans have when filing taxes.
Warner & Kaine announce more than $2.1 million in funding to address COVID-19 in rural Virginia communities
On August 12, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $2,124,300 in emergency rural health care funding to bolster federal support in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be provided to the Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, Tazewell Community Hospital in Tazewell, and Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap. This funding was awarded through the Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“As Virginia communities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that we provide resources to help protect Virginians,” said the Senators. “That’s why we are pleased to see these grants go towards COVID vaccination and testing, telehealth and food assistance services, ventilation systems, and financial aid.”
The funding will be awarded as below:
- $36,800 for Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahannock, VA, to provide COVID-19 testing kits, rapid testing supplies, and vaccinations, as well as additional staffing to meet the needs of the rural counties served. This investment will benefit approximately 27,350 residents.
- $1,000,000 for Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, VA, to purchase telehealth, remote monitoring systems, COVID testing, a mobile clinic, and food assistance. In addition, the funds will be used to train current nursing staff. This project aims to connect rural patients to Valley Health telehealth services and Page County internet infrastructure. This project will benefit approximately 24,042 residents.
- $335,000 for Carilion Clinic (Tazewell Community Hospital) in Tazewell, VA, to upgrade the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The HVAC system will follow the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 operational protocols for health care and will service the lab and patient care areas, as the current HVAC system is old and unreliable. This investment will benefit approximately 45,078 residents.
- $752,500 for Wellmont Health System in Big Stone Gap, VA, to replace lost health care revenue and help with financial difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will benefit approximately 70,997 residents.
The USDA’s Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care program is designed to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, rural health care services, and food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities.
Senators Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for rural communities and health care access in the Commonwealth. Last year, both Senators helped pass the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief bill that provided $20 billion to improve vaccine distribution, $10 billion for the Defense Production Act to procure essential medical equipment, and $50 billion for virus testing, genomic sequencing to detect new variants, contract tracing, and additional PPE. Additionally, Senator Warner introduced legislation, cosponsored by Senator Kaine, to expand telehealth services through Medicare, connecting patients to doctors and cutting costs for patients and providers. Senator Kaine also introduced legislation to expand health care to rural areas through telehealth as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019. The bill was passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.