We are one week into Session and it has been an eventful week here in Richmond. On Saturday, I was joined by my colleagues and hundreds of supporters and friends at the State Capitol to participate in the inauguration of our 74th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. We also witnessed the swearing-in of our new Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares.
I tell you what – watching these three conservative leaders and public servants take office was one of the most satisfying occurrences in recent memory. We all worked so hard this past election season to elect these three fine individuals and I am excited to get to work in partnering with them to legislate effectively.
I am proud to bring a host of bills this year to protect our liberties and advocate for efficient, limited government.
First, I am working with Governor Youngkin on a bill to help expand Virginias’ access to charter schools. It’s time for Virginia to open its arms and embrace public charter schools. Who could oppose giving more flexibility to schools and teachers and more choice for families? It’s an honor to partner with this new administration in this important effort. To read more about my Senate bill 125, click here.
I am also carrying two bills to increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections. My first bill, Senate bill 390 (click here to read it), would require the local electoral boards and general registrars to annually conduct a post-election audit of at least one-fifth of all ballot scanner machines. These measures will undoubtedly help restore confidence in our elections – a confidence that has been eroded by Democrat policies over the past few years.
The second bill had to do with voter identification. Democrats here in Virginia repealed the mandate requiring photo identification to vote. There’s no doubt this repeal undermined voter confidence in the fairness of our elections. My Senate bill 127 (click here to read it) would have reinstated the mandate to require a photo ID to vote. Unfortunately, that bill met a quick death by “PBI” (an acronym that stands for “passed by indefinitely”) in the Democrat-controlled Senate Privileges and Elections committee.
I am deeply concerned with the increase in the financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults. Preventing this exploitation has been a priority of mine for years and this year I have introduced two bills to address it. First is, Senate Bill 124 (click here to read it), which creates a new class 1 misdemeanor for someone who knowingly or intentionally abuses the power of attorney to financially exploit an incapacitated adult. Second is Senate Bill 126 (click here to read it), to expand the definition of “incapacitated adult” in the law to provide more financial protection for the elderly. I’m proud to say that both these bills are supported by our Attorney General Jason Miyares.
In addition to sponsoring legislation, I am also responsible for voting on my colleagues’ proposed bills in the committees on which I sit. These include Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Commerce and Labor, Judiciary, and Transportation. From time to time in this weekly update, I will highlight bills of note on which I voted in committee. This morning, the Judiciary Committee met for the first time.
One bill in particular worth noting from Judiciary this morning was SB 105 which effectively eliminates ALL mandatory minimum sentences from the Code of Virginia. Mandatory minimums have long since provided closure and security to victims of crimes and their families as well as Virginians as a whole. This blanket repeal will make our streets and communities less safe.
The elimination of these mandatory minimums hits close to home for those of us who have lived in the Shenandoah Valley for a few decades. It arose from the case of Daniel Lee Zirkle, who was executed in 2002 for the killing of his 4-year-old daughter and her 14-year-old half-sister (read about the murders here). Zirkle committed these heinous acts in a fit of rage, after being released from jail days after violating the terms of a protective order for the 4th time. That minimum sentence would have kept Zirkle in jail longer allowing him to cool off and may have prevented these awful deaths.
While I would consider the elimination of some mandatory minimums, this blanket repeal goes way too far. Take, for example, it repeals the sixty-day mandatory minimum sentence for the repeat violation of domestic violence protective orders. This mandatory minimum was adopted in 2009 by unanimous vote in the House and Senate and it was signed into law by then-governor Tim Kaine.
The passage of this bill out of committee this morning was lauded by liberal groups like the Progressive Prosecutors of Virginia who proclaimed it as an “excellent moment in Virginia history.” This liberal-driven approach represents a missed opportunity to review some mandatory minimums that should be reconsidered.
The one silver lining about the passage of this bill is that Republicans in the Virginia Senate are no longer the last line of defense for liberal bills like these (like we have been for two years). I’ve said for years that elections have consequences and a positive one of the 2021 elections was that we now have a Republican majority in the House of Delegates and a Republican governor in Glenn Youngkin who will have an opportunity to veto liberal bills like these.
This week, we were honored to welcome a number of individuals to our office – both in person and virtually. Some of our visitors included advocates from the Virginia Citizens Defense League and members of the Virginia Federation of the Blind. If you would like to meet with me or my office, please email me at email@example.com or come by our office in the Pocahontas Building, office 502E.
I’ll continue to provide regular updates throughout the session so stay tuned!
Warner & Kaine statement on bipartisan bill commemorate Moton Museum in Farmville becoming law
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On May 12, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after their bipartisan bill to commemorate historic sites that catalyzed litigation leading to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, was signed into law by President Biden:
“We’re excited our legislation to commemorate the Moton Museum in Farmville and other historic sites associated with the Brown v. Board of Education decision was signed into law today by President Biden,” said Senators Warner and Kaine. “This bill will preserve the site and help ensure future generations can learn about its significance, as well as the history of Barbara Johns, who led her classmates in a protest against school segregation at the Moton School.”
The Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park Expansion and Redesignation Act will expand the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Kansas and designate National Park Service (NPS) Affiliated Areas in Delaware, South Carolina, Kansas, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Specifically, it will recognize the Moton Museum, formerly the Robert Russa Moton High School, in Farmville, Virginia, where Barbara Johns led a protest against school segregation and demanded better conditions for Black students. This designation would help protect the site.
The 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka transformed the United States, overruling Plessy v. Ferguson and striking down school segregation as unconstitutional. The Brown decision was a major catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
The bill unanimously passed the Senate and the House of Representatives in April. U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) led the Senate version of the bill. Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC 6) led companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Senators Warner and Kaine secured $500,000 in funding for critical facility upgrades at the Moton Museum in Farmville through the Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus appropriations bill, and supported efforts to honor Barbara Johns as one of Virginia’s two statues in the United States Capitol.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner: Senate’s failure to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, released the statement below after voting for a procedural motion to advance legislation to codify reproductive rights into law. The legislation failed to move forward by a vote of 49-51 after falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to open debate on the bill.
“I’m gravely concerned by the Senate’s failure to codify Roe. For almost 50 years, women have had the right to make private medical decisions about their own reproductive health. If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe soon, women in many states will be stripped of their right to a safe abortion – including in cases of sexual assault, incest, or high-risk pregnancies. This is not what the majority of Virginians or Americans support, and it sets an extremely dangerous precedent for rolling back established rights. I’m extremely disappointed that the Senate chose inaction, but I’ll keep supporting measures to allow women to access the care they need.”
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – May 9, 2022
While I was home in Virginia this week for District Work Period, it was still a busy few days policy-wise. The week began with an unprecedented leak from the Supreme Court. While I was disturbed by the violation of this sacred institution’s confidentiality, I am hopeful that the court reaffirms the sanctity of life when it rules on Roe v. Wade later this summer. Further, this week, I introduced legislation with my colleagues to defund the Biden Administration’s recently announced “Disinformation Governance Board,” which is a gross federal overreach and an assault on the First Amendment. Additionally, I was pleased that the Department of Interior responded to calls from me and other Members of Congress to resume Park Police escorts for the Honor Flight Network, an organization dedicated to bringing Veterans to the war memorials recognizing their service. Finally, as the United States continues to face an economic downturn, I visited several small businesses and with other groups to ensure the voices of Sixth District residents are heard in Washington. It is an honor to serve the people of western Virginia, and I will continue fighting for the values that make our region a great place to live and raise a family.
Recently, in an unprecedented moment for the Supreme Court, a draft opinion was leaked, which indicates the High Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This leak is of great concern, as the judicial process must be non-political and always be rooted in the letter of the law. A breach of this nature undermines the confidence the American people have in the Supreme Court, it erodes the trust the Justices have in one another, and it hurts the confidentiality necessary for the Court to discuss cases before them. This was a disgraceful attempt to leverage public pressure to influence the Justices, and it will now be used by the Left to try to end the filibuster and pack the Court with radical liberals. With that said, I will always seek to protect the sanctity of life, and I hope and pray that the Supreme Court will do so when it rules on the case later this year.
The Biden Administration’s decision to create a Disinformation Governance Board, or probably better known as the ‘Ministry of Truth,’ is dystopian in design, almost certainly unconstitutional, and clearly doomed from the start. The government has no role whatsoever in determining what constitutes permissible truth or acceptable speech, and further, the President’s choosing of Nina Jankowicz to serve as the Board’s Executive Director is of equal concern. Jankowicz, who refers to herself as the “Mary Poppins of Disinformation,” is a frequent purveyor of falsehoods, and appears sympathetic to the cause of censoring Americans. President Biden should dissolve this Board immediately, but assuming he won’t do so, my colleagues and I introduced legislation this week to bar federal tax dollars from funding it. Additionally, several Members of Congress also wrote to the Secretary of Homeland Security expressing our concerns that this Board’s creation is an alarming attempt by the Biden Administration to use the Department as a political tool. The full letter can be found here.
Honor Flight Network:
Since its founding in 2005, the Honor Flight Network has taken more than 250,000 World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and terminally ill Veterans on an all-expense-paid trip to visit our Nation’s capital. Veterans visit – many for the first time – the very war memorials dedicated to their service to our country. During these trips, Veterans share memories and accounts from their time in service, pay tribute to their lost comrades, and build important bonds with fellow participants. Honor Flights Hubs meticulously plan these experiences to further the Honor Flight Network’s vision of a country where “all of America’s Veterans experience the honor, gratitude, and community of support they deserve.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the National Park Police halted their escorts of the groups’ buses. This made the trips far more difficult as parking near the memorials is limited, and many of the Veterans are handicapped. That is why my colleagues and I wrote to the Secretary of Interior requesting that Park Police once again be allowed to provide such escorts. Fortunately, following our letter, the decision was reversed, and escorts will resume on June 1. To read the full letter, click here.
Over the last two years, the CDC found the power to shut down the cruise ship industry, stop landlords from evicting tenants who had not paid their rent and required that people using public transportation wear masks. These actions were a gross federal overreach, and the CDC blatantly violated the law by using the Public Health Services Act as justification for these mandates. The interpretation of this statute was unconstitutional and egregious, and I recently asked Attorney General Garland why he was appealing a federal judge’s ruling specifically overturning the mask mandate.
President Joe Biden and House Democrats’ liberal policies and out-of-control government spending are driving the American economy off the cliff. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, America’s GDP decreased at an annual rate of 1.4% in the first quarter of 2022. Instead of addressing the economic crisis they created, Biden and House Democrats continue to double down on their Far-Left policies and out-of-control spending. Gas prices have soared, grocery costs are through the roof, folks are spending more to heat/cool their homes, and now, interest rates are rising .5% – the highest one-time raise in over two decades. This means, on top of all of the other cost increases Americans are facing, folks will now pay more for home, auto, and business loans. Families are already struggling, and this is yet another example of how Biden’s broken economy will hurt their bottom lines.
Small Business Week:
As we celebrated National Small Business Week, I took time to visit small businesses in our area, such as Deb’s Frozen Lemonade in Cave Spring, to hear from owners like Keith Liles about how they’re handling the current economic downturn. Small businesses are vital to the economic success of our Nation, employing more than 61 million Americans or nearly 47% of the workforce. Further, small businesses create two-thirds of new jobs and deliver 43.5% of the United States’ GDP. As mom-and-pop shops continue to recover from COVID lockdowns and struggle to cope with inflation, I wanted to ensure I can take their concerns up to Washington. In Congress, I will continue fighting for pro-business policies that help spur economic growth.
As the Representative for Virginia’s Sixth District, one of my top priorities is making myself available to meet with constituents whether I’m here in the Commonwealth or in Washington. This week, I enjoyed visiting with small businesses, student groups, manufacturing facilities, and more.
Last week in Virginia, there was an average of 18.6 daily cases of COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents. This is up from an average of 15.3 cases from one week prior. This week’s positivity rate was 9.3%, up from an average of 7.8% 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.
Warner & Kaine applaud administration’s new efforts to lower internet costs
On May 9, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine applauded President Biden’s announcement of new efforts to lower high-speed internet costs for Virginians and all Americans, including commitments from 20 internet providers to either increase speeds or cut prices to no more than $30/month for Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)-eligible households. Warner and Kaine helped create the ACP, which was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Warner negotiated, and they both voted to pass. 1,908,000 or 23% of people in Virginia will be eligible for the ACP.
“We’ve made great progress in expanding broadband in Virginia, but too many Virginians still face challenges in accessing the internet due to high costs. These steps to lower internet costs for families are critical to address that gap. We’re glad the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help more families stay connected with friends and loved ones, access telehealth services, and find job and educational opportunities online,” said Senators Warner and Kaine.
Specifically, the ACP program provides a $30 per month discount, or $75 per month for households on tribal lands, for low-income families to use toward any internet service of their choosing. The commitments from the 20 internet providers will mean tens of millions of ACP-eligible households will receive high-speed internet at no cost. Households can also receive a one-time $100 discount for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Eligible households must have an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or have a family member that meets at least one of these criteria outlined by the Federal Communications Commission. Virginians can go to GetInternet.gov to sign up for the ACP and find participating providers in their area.
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, the December 2020 government funding bill, which included COVID relief, and the American Rescue Plan. They also introduced legislation to help students access the internet at home. The Fiscal Year 2022 government funding bill supported by Warner and Kaine included $550 million to expand access to broadband and $450 million for the ReConnect program to help rural communities access the internet.
US Senator Mark Warner: Boeing announced their intent to relocate its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington.
Wheels up, Arlington! Sen. Warner revealed this week that his years of persuasion had paid off as Boeing announced their intent to relocate its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington. This move by Boeing, a leader in the aeronautics industry, represents the relocation of their corporate headquarters and their research and development hub, solidifying Virginia’s status as a leader in the “innovation ecosystem,” as Sen. Warner likes to say.
As a longtime advocate for this relocation, Sen. Warner lauded this announcement as both a short-term gain for Virginia’s prominence as a home for businesses but also a long-term investment in making Virginia a research and technology hub that could create even more jobs across the entire Commonwealth over the next several decades. Fortunately, this move is not expected to cause major population density changes in Arlington that might exacerbate local traffic or housing shortages.
In a statement on the decision, Sen. Warner said,
“For well over a year, I’ve been making my case to Boeing senior leadership that Virginia would be a great place for its headquarters, and late last year, I was happy to learn that my efforts were successful. As the former Governor of Virginia, I was proud to secure Virginia’s standing as the best state for business and the best-managed state, among other honors, and I’ve been proud to work in my role as Senator to help continue to cultivate the kind of pro-business environment that world-class companies like Boeing need to grow and thrive.”
U.S. Senator Mark Warner statement on the proposed change to Community Reinvestment Act regulations
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, released the following statement after the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced a proposed change to regulations surrounding the Community Reinvestment Act:
“I am pleased that federal banking agencies worked together to produce this joint notice of proposed rulemaking to modernize and strengthen their regulations implementing the Community Reinvestment Act. The CRA is one of the best tools we have to drive investments in underserved and underbanked communities, but it needs to be updated to reflect the fundamental changes we have seen in the banking sector since 1995, the last time there were significant revisions to the rules. As a former entrepreneur, I understand how important access to capital is to start a business and build wealth. Ensuring broader access to affordable credit, whether it’s to buy a house, start a business, or pay for emergency expenses, is vital to address inequalities and close the racial wealth gap. I look forward to reviewing the proposed rule in coordination with all stakeholders to ensure we end up with a strengthened, 21st-century CRA that can continue to drive meaningful change in low- and moderate-income communities.”