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Legislative Update

Warner and Kaine: Bills to avert a government shutdown head to the President’s desk

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U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) praised Senate passage of two bipartisan, bicameral spending bills to fund federal programs that are critical to Virginia and keep the federal government open through 2020. Following today’s Senate passage, the bills now head to the President’s desk for signature.

“Today I voted to avert another painful government shutdown like the one that hurt thousands of Virginia families earlier this year, during President Trump’s 35-day government shutdown,” said Sen. Warner. “Every year I advocate for much-needed resources to strengthen communities across Virginia and this year is no exception. In this bill, we finally secured health care and pension benefits that our miners have rightfully earned, and successfully pushed for a well-deserved pay raise for our federal workforce and men and women in uniform. This bill also forces the Department of Justice to finally adhere to a firm deadline on the full implementation of the Ashanti Alert system, just to name a few wins for Virginia. With so much critical funding at stake for the Commonwealth, I urge the President to swiftly sign these bills into law.”

“I’m proud many of our efforts to improve the lives of Virginians were included in our final spending package,” said Sen. Kaine. “This bipartisan legislation includes my bill to raise the tobacco age to 21 and a bill I cosponsored to protect the health and pension benefits of retired miners. It also includes significant funding I supported to boost resiliency at military installations at risk from threats like climate change, strengthen rural infrastructure, and support career and technical education. I’m thrilled our colleagues worked together to fund these crucial priorities.”

The following list includes many of the provisions Sens. Warner and Kaine advocated for:


400 Years of African-American History Commission: Includes $3.3 million in federal funding for the Commission to honor four centuries of African-American history. The Senators sponsored legislation, which was signed into law in 2018, to establish the Commission and participated in events this year to commemorate 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in English Colonial America at Point Comfort, Virginia.

 Ashanti Alert: Includes a provision supported by both Senators that would require the Department of Justice to provide Congress with a progress report of the Ashanti Alert implementation within 30 days. Additionally, the legislation requires that the DOJ establish a firm deadline for full implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act no later than 90 days after the bill is signed into law.

Tobacco 21: Includes the Tobacco-Free Youth Act introduced by Sen. Kaine and supported by Sen. Warner that would raise the nationwide minimum age to buy all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Additionally, the bill provides incentives to states to continue inspections and reporting to ensure retailers do not sell tobacco products to those under 21.

Miners’ Benefits: The Senators successfully pushed to include a fix for miners’ health care and pensions, which is headed for insolvency due to coal company bankruptcies. This bill will secure the pensions of 92,000 coal miners and protect healthcare benefits for 13,000 miners across the country – that includes hundreds of retirees in Southwest Virginia who were affected by the recent Westmoreland Coal bankruptcy. The bill also extends funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund until the end of 2020 by extending the tax on mining companies that helps fund the program.

Army Corps of Engineers: Provides $7.65 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $651.5 million above FY 2019, including $2.5 million for the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening project.

NASA: Provides $22.63 billion in federal funds, an increase of $1.13 billion above the FY 2019 enacted level. The bill also includes $783.9 million for NASA’s aeronautic research to advance aviation technology by cutting air traffic congestion and pollution, improving safety, and introducing new technologies for the future of flight. Aeronautics research at NASA is increasingly focusing on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management, which will improve the integration of drones into our national airspace. Earlier this year, Sen. Warner introduced legislation to boost aeronautics industry innovation, research and development.

Economic Development Administration: Includes $333 million for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), $30 million above FY 2019. Last year, Virginia received 12 EDA grants totaling $3.97 million. A majority of these funds went to the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) to support the construction for an expansion to house the CCAM Apprentice Academy, including classrooms, administrative support, a break room, and a high bay training area.

Richmond International Airport Reimbursement: The Senators successfully pushed for the inclusion of $40 million in federal funds to help reimburse airports that purchased security screening equipment following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Richmond International Airport spent almost $4 million in 2005 to protect passenger safety and was promised federal reimbursement, which it has yet to fully receive. The airport is expected to receive $734,314 from this tranche of funds, bringing total reimbursement to date to $2,386,522, more than halfway to the $4 million the airport was owed.

Census: Provides $7.56 billion in new discretionary funding, $1.4 billion above the President’s budget request, to enable the Bureau to effectively prepare for and conduct a thorough and accurate 2020 Decennial Census. The Senators introduced legislation to oppose efforts by the Administration to include politically motivated questions to the census that would curb participation.

FBI Headquarters: Provides no federal funds for the Trump Administration to follow through on their hasty and controversial proposal to rebuild the current FBI headquarters building without a proper and full analysis. Sens. Warner and Kaine have for years worked to secure funding for a new FBI headquarters to replace the current, deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, which was built in 1974. In 2017, the Trump Administration abruptly backed away from plans to possibly move the FBI headquarters to Virginia, announcing instead in February 2018 plans to demolish the existing FBI headquarters in Washington and build a new facility in its place.

OPM-GSA Merger: The bill does not provide funding for the Administration’s proposal to merge the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the General Services Administration (GSA). Earlier this week, Congress blocked the Trump Administration from executing their proposed merger without first providing Congress and the public transparency on the rationale behind the move, backed by sound, independent analysis of the potential costs and benefits. This mirrors an effort pushed by Sens. Warner and Kaine to prevent the federal workforce from being subjected to continued political attacks and increased political interference by the Trump Administration.

Election Security: Includes $435 million for a new round of election security grants ahead of the 2020 elections. The manager’s package included critical language specifying that the grants be used for the purchase of election equipment that uses paper ballots, the conduct of post-election audits, cybersecurity training of election officials, and other cyber-security related improvements.

VA leases: Includes a provision to urge the General Services Administration to expedite the lease procurement projects for new VA medical clinics – which includes an outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads run by GSA and an outpatient clinic in Fredericksburg run by the VA that Sen. Warner has continuously pushed to get open and operational to ease the wait times for Virginia veterans.

Defense Community Infrastructure Program: The bill provides $50 million for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program, which allows DoD to work with state and local governments to address critical infrastructure improvements affecting resiliency of our military installations.

MilCon: Includes nearly $500 million in funding for 11 military construction projects across the Commonwealth.

  • Fort Belvoir: Provides $60 million for a Secure Operations and Administration Facility.
  • Joint Base Langley-Eustis: Provides $55 million for an Advanced Individual Training Barracks Complex.
  • Naval Station Norfolk: Provides $79.1 million for a Mariner Skills Training Center.
  • Portsmouth Shipyard: Provides $48.9 million for Dry Dock Flood Protection improvements.
  • Quantico: Provides $70 million for a Wargaming Center.
  • Dam Neck Annex: Provides $12.7 million for a SOF Demolition Training Compound Expansion.
  • Defense Distribution Depot Richmond: Provides $98.8 million for an Operations Center.
  • Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story: Provides $32.6 million for the construction of a SOF Operations Support Facility and $13 million for a SOF Training Facility.
  • Pentagon: Provides $8.6 million for a backup generator and $20.1 million for a control tower and fire station.

Veterans: Provides $91.9 billion in funding for the VA, an increase of $5.4 billion above FY19. The bill would increase funding to several Veteran Health Administration priority areas, including $1.5 billion for electronic health record modernization, $9.4 billion to increase mental health services for veterans, and $221.7 million for suicide prevention programs. It includes $1.9 billion for homelessness programs such as $380 million for the Supportive Services for Veterans and Families program and $408.3 million for the Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which provides assistance to homeless veterans.

Agent Orange: The bill also provides $153.6 million to fund the VA’s implementation of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, legislation sponsored by the Senators and signed into law to get veterans benefits for illnesses related to toxic herbicide Agent Orange, including those who were stationed on ships off the Vietnamese coast, also known as Blue Water Navy veterans. The bill also includes language to force the Administration to explain the delay in expanding the presumptive list, a cost estimate for adding new diseases, and the date the VA plans to implement the decision. This week, Sen. Warner spoke on the Senate floor urging the Trump Administration to reverse its decision to block an expansion of approved Agent Orange–related conditions that qualify a veteran for benefits.

Gold Star Families: This legislation corrects one of the many unintended consequences of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 – legislation forced through by the GOP that, among other things, treats military and VA survivor benefits as trusts or estates, subjecting the benefits of many military families to a much higher tax rate. The Senators introduced legislation earlier this year to make sure surviving families aren’t unfairly penalized, and pay back those families that had to incur this unjust tax hike.

Shipbuilding: The bill provides over $13 billion in VA Shipbuilding priorities such as: Ford-class aircraft carrier construction ($2.27 billion), aircraft carrier overhaul ($650 million), and Virginia-class ($8.32 billion) and Columbia-class ($1.82 billion) submarine construction. The bill also provides over $13 billion for ship repairs.

Federal Employee & Military Pay Raise: Provides a 3.1 percent pay raise for federal civilian employees and our military. Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully pushed to override President Trump’s request for a punitive, across-the-board pay freeze for the federal workforce.

Animal Protection: The bill provides $1 million to ensure stronger enforcement of the Horse Protection Act to stop the cruel practice of horse soring, a $295,000 increase above FY 19. Sen. Warner introduced and Sen. Kaine cosponsored the bipartisan PAST Act to end horse soring, and both Warner and Kaine introduced legislation to protect domestic violence victims and their pets.

Chesapeake Bay Program: Includes $85 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program, an increase of $12 million over fiscal year 2019. The Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and protection efforts, and the majority of its funds are passed through to the states and local communities for on-the-ground restoration. The Senators wrote to congressional appropriators urging them to include significant increased funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program in the final spending bill. The bill also includes $3 million for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network, an increase of $1 million over FY 2019. The Senators introduced legislation to reauthorize the highly successful Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails program run by the National Park Service.

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF): Provides $495 million for LWCF, an increase of $60 million over FY 2019. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the Virginia outdoors industry supports approximately $21.9 billion in annual consumer spending and 197,000 direct jobs. The bill also includes $2.42 million for land acquisition around Petersburg National Battlefield, which is a direct result of the Senators legislation to complete the expansion that was signed into law by President Obama. Additionally, the bill includes $1.36 million for land conservation efforts around the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Virginia Tribes: Includes $1.281 million for the New Tribes program, an increase of $161,000 over FY 2019. Last year, the Senators successfully secured federal recognition for Virginia’s six tribes.

National Park Service: Provides $3.37 billion for the Park Service, an increase of $154 million from FY 2019. This includes $1.15 billion for bridge repair and replacement, $70 million for nationally significant federal transportation assets, and $100 million for the Appalachian Development Highway System. In 2018, more than 25.8 million individuals visited Virginia’s 22 National Parks. Senator Warner has sponsored legislation, cosponsored by Kaine, to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at the National Park Service, half of which is transportation needs.

Healthy Food Financing Initiative: Includes $5 million for USDA’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), an increase of $4 million over FY 2019. The program closely follows Sen. Warner’s efforts in the Senate to eradicate food deserts and increase access to healthy, nutritious foods.

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA): Provides $17.18 million for MSHA, which will work to prevent death, illness, and injury from mining and promote safe and healthy workplaces for miners in Virginia. There are approximately 3,000 coal miners employed in Virginia.

Appalachian Regional Commission: Includes $175 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an increase of $10 million over FY 2019. Last fiscal year, ARC supported 32 projects in Virginia totaling $8.2 million in federal investment. This investment has been matched by nearly $20.5 million in state, local, and private investments. This funding helped create and retain 950 jobs in the region last year.

Hemp: The bill provides $16.5 million in new funding to implement the Hemp Production Program, which was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill included a provision sponsored by both Senators that removed hemp from the list of controlled substances, allowing Virginia farmers to grow and sell the plant as a commodity for use in agriculture, textile, recycling, automotive, furniture, food, nutrition, beverage, paper, personal care, and construction products. The bill also includes $2 million for the FDA to research and develop policies on CBD. Senators Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of hemp as an agricultural commodity and they successfully secured Virginia’s inclusion in a pilot to develop a crop insurance program for industrial hemp.

Job Corps: After the Administration’s failed attempt to close the Flatwoods Jobs Corps Program in Coeburn, Va., the bill secures $1.7 billion in federal funding, an increase of $25 million, to support the Jobs Corps program, the nation’s largest career technical training and educational program for at-risk youth that also supports locations in Marion and Monroe. Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to the Secretaries of Labor and Agriculture calling on the Trump Administration to reverse plans to close the Flatwoods facility and introduced legislation to prevent the Administration from using any federal funding to close Jobs Corps facilities across the country.

Secure Rural Schools Program: Extends for two years the Secure Rural Schools program that provides funding for public schools and Virginia communities located near or within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. In the last fiscal year, 51 Virginia counties received a combined $1.34 million in SRS payments

Preschool Development Grants. Provides a $25 million increase for Preschool Development Grants for a total of $275 million. These grants will improve coordination of existing early childhood care and education programs. Virginia received a $9.9 million Preschool Development Grant in January 2019 and received $17.5 million for four consecutive years (FY 14-FY 17).

TRIO Program: TRIO programs help low-income and first generation students get into and complete college. The bill provides $1.1 billion for TRIO programs, a $30 million increase from FY19. During the 2018-19 school year, Virginia’s TRIO programs served more than 14,500 students with more than $17 million in federal resources.

HBCU & MSIs: Provides $93 million in critical funding to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). This bill would provide money for the five HBCUs in Virginia to make campus improvements and strengthen financial management, academic resources and endowment-building capacity. Earlier this month, Sens. Warner and Kaine successfully pushed to get the FUTURE Act signed into law to restore  $255 million in federal funding for these critical institutions.

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants: Includes $50 million for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants. In November 2019, Virginia received $1.1 million through this program. The funding was awarded to the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, the University of Virginia (UVA), George Mason University, and the Community Memorial Hospital. The Community Memorial Hospital, for example, will use the funds to provide medical services via interactive video conferencing equipment to four sites in Mecklenburg County and will benefit approximately 11,000 residents.

Rural Broadband Grants: Includes $550 million for the ReConnect Pilot Program rural broadband grants, a program established by USDA last year to expand broadband infrastructure and service in rural communities. In the first round of ReConnect Pilot Program investments in 2019, USDA invested nearly 3.8 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for more than 1,250 rural households, two volunteer fire departments, and four educational facilities in Mecklenburg County.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Reauthorization: Includes a Warner-led provision that would reauthorize for another ten years the research institute established by the Affordable Care Act that provides independent evidence on the effectiveness, benefits and harms of different treatment options for a condition.

Public Health Data Modernization: The bill includes funding Sen. Kaine has fought for to shore up our public health data infrastructure to expedite identification and response to public health threats. The legislation provides $50 million to modernize public health data systems at CDC.

Funds Childhood Disease Research: Provides $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program to conduct pediatric cancer and disease research. The Senators worked to enact the legislation authorizing this program, named for 10-year-old Gabriella Miller of Loudoun County, who passed away from cancer in October of 2013.

Gun Violence Research: Includes $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Health (NIH) to support firearm injury and mortality prevention research for the first time in 20 years, with the potential to identify interventions to help save lives. The Senators introduced legislation earlier this year to fund firearms safety and gun violence prevention research at the CDC.

BUILD Infrastructure Grants. Provides $1 billion for competitive transportation grants through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, formerly known as “TIGER” grants. Virginia has previously used these grants for projects including I-95 Express Lanes, I-564 connector from Norfolk International Terminals at the Port of Virginia, I-64 Delta Frames Bridges in Rockbridge County, the Pulse bus-rapid transit system in Richmond, and Northstar Boulevard in Loudoun County near Dulles.

WMATA: Includes the full federal funding of $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to fund critical capital investment and safety projects. In May, the Senators introduced legislation to renew the federal funding commitment to Metro, provide critical safety reforms, and strengthen oversight of WMATA.

UAS Research: Provides $24 million for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research. Drone research will benefit applications like disaster response, search and rescue efforts, infrastructure inspection, package delivery, and countless others. The Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) is an FAA-designated test site for unmanned aircraft systems. One key project at MAAP has been drone-delivery technology, and Virginia Tech has been the site of some of the most significant testing in the country. The program has received money in the past and will benefit from this continued funding.

Remote Tower System:  Includes the Senators’ amendment to provide $7 million for the Federal Aviation Administration to continue its remote tower system pilot program at smaller airports. This includes the Remote Air Traffic Control Tower at Leesburg Executive Airport, the first of its kind in the United Sates, which has been run as a partnership between Leesburg Airport and Saab Technologies. As part of the program, air traffic controllers are able to work remotely, which could help ease capacity and staffing constraints. There are also similar remote tower projects being planned across the country.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): The bill includes Sen. Kaine’s request to direct the Department of Education to remove bureaucratic hurdles the Department created for student loan borrowers in accessing the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) and also directs the Department to improve outreach to borrowers who have been denied TEPSLF and PSLF. The Senators have urged the U.S. Department of Education to take steps to improve PSLF and recently called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide greater oversight of the program.

Contingent “Gig” Workers: Directs the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) to provide an annual supplement to the Current Population Survey to allow for collection of data on contingent and alternative work arrangements every two years and data on other topics related to the labor force in alternate years. Sen. Warner has continued to push the federal agency to conduct further research on the contingent workforce and introduced bipartisan legislation to test and evaluate innovative portable-benefits models for independent workers.

New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC): Extends New Markets Tax Credit through 2020 to help increase the flow of private dollars to distressed and underserved areas. Sen. Warner introduced legislation earlier this year to direct more NMTC investment in rural areas across the Commonwealth.

Brand USA: The bill reauthorizes the Brand USA Program through 2027, which is a highly effective public-private promotion program which drives important foreign tourism to the Commonwealth. In 2018, we had over 1.1 million international tourists visit the Commonwealth, who spent $2 billion in our economy. The Senators cosponsored the Brand USA Extension Act earlier this year and Sen. Warner spoke at the VA-1 Tourism Summit about the issues facing Virginia’s booming tourism industry, including the need for Brand USA reauthorization.

 

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Legislative Update

Warner applauds inclusion of key priorities in draft of annual defense bill

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U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) applauded the inclusion of a number of Virginia priorities in the draft of the nation’s annual defense bill that was announced late last night after weeks of talks between House and Senate negotiators. A full summary of the draft FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is available here.

“As the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m glad to see an agreement on draft legislation that will help bolster our military readiness, support critical Virginia jobs, tackle the needs of military families, and reinforce our commitment to Ukraine in its fight against authoritarianism. I look forward to considering this legislation in the Senate,” said Sen. Warner.

The proposal supports $857.9 billion in funding for our nation’s defense and includes a number of Warner-championed provisions that would:

  • Help provide better housing support for servicemembers and their families. These provisions direct DoD to reevaluate methodologies for calculating the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to better reflect servicemembers’ housing needs and look at barriers to homeownership that are unique to military members. These provisions are based on two Warner-sponsored bills, the BAH Calculation Improvement Act and the Increasing Home Ownership for Servicemembers Act.
  • Authorize more than $285 million in funding for 14 military construction projects in Virginia, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Dahlgren, Newport News, Ft. Belvoir, Langley, and at the Pentagon.
  • Accelerate the construction of two new Child Development Centers in Hampton Roads to help provide critical child care for infants and children on installations. This provision mirrors a Congressionally Directed Spending request made by Sen. Warner to help address the larger challenges military families face with the supply of available child care.
  • Overhaul how the military understands and studies food insecurity among military members. Based on an amendment led in the Senate by Sen. Warner, the provision will improve how the military collects data and analyzes rates of food insecurity among servicemembers and their families to better measure and more effectively address the concerning issue of food insecurity in the military.
  • Support the critical work of the U.S. Intelligence Community by including the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (IAA). The IAA allocates funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight of the Intelligence Community.
  • Bring federal data collection into the 21st century and boost financial transparency by modernizing data collection by federal financial regulators. This provision is based on Sen. Warner’s Financial Data Transparency Act, which requires these regulators to develop common data formatting standards that promote the usability and organization of financial data they already collect from regulated institutions – rules that will make data easier for the public to use and for agencies to process.

The bill also includes a number of other crucial measures supported by Sen. Warner.


To support investments in our nation’s defense and diplomatic capabilities, this bill would: 

  • Support Navy shipbuilding with $32.6 billion in funding for the procurement of 11 battle force ships, including full funding for the Columbia-class submarine program and for the procurement of two Virginia-class submarines. The bill also would reverse plans for the early retirement of 12 vessels in the coming year. 
  • Support the critical work of the U.S. State Department by advancing funding and a range of provisions vital to supporting our nation’s diplomatic efforts and the men and women who work tirelessly to advance those around the world.
  • Support the work of the U.S. Coast Guard with more than $28 billion in funding.
  • Authorize nearly $132 million for defense research activities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions. Last year, Sen. Warner successfully led an effort in the NDAA to better position HBCUs and MSIs to compete for federal research dollars.

For members of the military and their families, this bill would:

  • Authorize a 4.6 percent pay raise to servicemembers and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians.
  • Take steps to address the suicide and mental health crisis in the military by directing the DoD to undertake more detailed research into mental health and rates of suicide. This provision seeks to better understand the different ramifications across military career fields. It also directs an Inspector General review of efforts by the Navy to prevent and respond to suicides in light of deaths in the Hampton Roads region and elsewhere.
  • Make historic reforms to the military justice system’s handling of certain offenses, including sexual assaults. Following years of tireless effort by advocates, this bill would remove commanders from all prosecutorial and judicial functions for various covered offenses. Sen. Warner is a proud sponsor of Sen. Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act of 2021, which, combined with bipartisan efforts across both Chambers this year, formed the foundation for these reforms.
  • Tackle issues with military housing by:
  • Extending DoD’s authority to raise the Basic Allowance for Housing for military families living in higher-cost areas of the country.
  • Improving oversight over military housing issues and codifying the position of Chief Housing Officer. Sen. Warner has pushed to have a single, designated lead for housing at DoD to improve accountability to residents and Congress and promote and increase coordination.
  • Requiring the Secretary of Defense to implement health-related recommendations by the Department’s Inspector General regarding privatized military housing.
  • Tackle food insecurity by:
  • Expanding eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance will help ensure that all men and women in uniform and their families have the necessities they need. The Basic Needs Allowance was created through the Warner-sponsored Military Hunger Prevention Act, which aims to combat disturbing rates of food insecurity in the military.
  • Creating a pilot program to better address rates of food insecurity among veterans. This provision would offer grant funding to organizations that are actively working to address this challenge.
  • Adding $210 million in authorized funding for the military’s commissary system to help support food access for servicemembers and their families.
  • Increase access to timely child care for military families who undergo a permanent change of station by creating a pilot program to provide child care-related reimbursement to these families.

For the ongoing effort to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s authoritarianism, this bill would: 

  • Extend the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) – one of the main tools used by the U.S. in support of Ukraine’s defensive needs – and authorize $800 million for this program in the coming fiscal year.
  • Authorize more than $6 billion to fully fund the European Deterrence Initiative.
  • Hold Russia accountable for its atrocities by stating that the United States will collect, analyze, and preserve evidence related to Russian war crimes and will assist in pursuing appropriate accountability for those responsible.
  • Increase transparency and accountability by taking steps to ensure that Inspectors General are able to adequately conduct oversight of U.S. funding to ensure it is most effectively being applied in support of Ukraine’s efforts.
  • Express the full commitment of the United States to NATO and to continuing Ukrainian assistance during Russia’s violent and illegal invasion.
  • Authorize more than $2.7 billion for munitions production capacity, and direct a long-term assessment of our defense industrial base’s capacity.

To bolster our ability to compete in the 21st century, this bill would:

  • Continue to strengthen U.S.-India relations by directing the Departments of Defense and State to pursue greater engagement and expanded cooperation with India related to emerging technology, joint R&D, defense and cyber capabilities, and other opportunities for collaboration – including for reducing India’s reliance on Russian-built defense equipment. These provisions support an effort by Sen. Warner, co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, to highlight the importance of our defense partnership with India, and to support accelerated efforts by India to diversify defense systems.
  • Better invest in emerging technologies by boosting funding for basic and applied research and development of advanced tech by $2.85 billion.
  • Support the commercialization of critical capabilities by authorizing $300 million in funding for new bio-manufacturing facilities.
  • Authorize an increase of $120 million for 5G technology R&D and transition support. 
  • Authorize an increase of $75 million for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as it looks to implement recommendations put forward by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI). It would also authorize an increase of $50 million for AI at U.S. Cyber Command and require more strategic, longer-term planning related to DoD’s efforts to rapidly adopt AI to relevant cyber missions.
  • Support DARPA’s quantum computing activities with an increase of $20 million.
  • Increase productivity and cooperation in microelectronics by establishing a working group of government, private sector, and academia experts to better enable coordination and consultation related to R&D and manufacturing.
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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – November 23, 2022

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Last week, voters decided on Election Day that one-party rule should come to an end in Washington, D.C., as Republicans won a majority of seats in Congress and will control the House of Representatives for the next two years. Congressional Democrats and President Biden will no longer be able to jam partisan legislation through with impunity. We promised the American people through our Commitment to America that we would work as a majority to make our cities and neighborhoods safer, rebuild our economy, bring accountability to government, and secure our borders. Additionally, last week, I highlighted the pain of rising prices as the holiday season approaches, and outlined solutions Republicans will offer to improve the economy. Finally, I honored the Harrisonburg Police Department for 150 years of service, and I spoke with government students from Northside High School. From my family to yours, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Bidenflation is on the Thanksgiving Menu
The American people are getting the short end of the wishbone this Thanksgiving, as inflated grocery prices will make gathering around the table more expensive this year. Up and down the menu, prices have risen – a 23% increase in turkeys, eggs are up 43%, butter is up 27%, and milk is up 15%. For those traveling far to see their families and loved ones, airline fares are up 43% from last year. While everyone is having to tighten their budgets, those working two jobs or on fixed incomes are getting hit hardest – forcing roughly one in four Americans to forgo Thanksgiving dinner altogether. To get America back on track, Congress needs to cut spending, unleash energy independence, and push pro-growth economic policies.


Click here to watch my House floor speech on rising costs during the holiday season.

The Biden Border Crisis Continues
Gas and grocery prices are not the only things skyrocketing. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) statistics tell us that there has been over a 221% increase in encounters at the border since President Biden took office, and in the last year, the number has risen by 40%. In October alone, there were 230,678 illegal migrant encounters at the southern border. Biden must end his open border & amnesty policies now. Unsurprisingly, just last week, DHS Secretary Mayorkas again told Congress that the border was secure, but the numbers don’t lie. As Republicans take control of the House of Representatives come January, Secretary Mayorkas will be held accountable for his dereliction of duty to secure the homeland and reckless disregard for U.S. immigration law. I’ve been to the border, and I’ve seen how understaffed, under-resourced, and unsupported the CBP is. Republicans will ensure accountability in the 118th Congress.



Happy 150th Birthday, Harrisonburg Police Department!
I was glad to recognize the Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD) for passing a major milestone and joining the Harrisonburg community in celebrating the 150th anniversary of HPD’s founding in 1872. Current HPD Captain Jason Kidd said of the anniversary, ‘‘It is so important to reach this milestone because the city has grown tremendously and developed tremendously during these past 150 years.” The growth of the department, personnel, added positions, and technological improvements have allowed the department “to police better and police smarter and just do the best job they can for the community.’’

Engaging with High School Students
Our young people are the future leaders of our great country. I enjoyed speaking to Government students at Northside High School in Roanoke about the value of public service. I appreciated their thoughtful questions and informative insights about current events.

 

COVID-19 Update
Last week in Virginia, there was an average of 10 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, down from 12 last week. This week’s COVID-19 test positivity rate remained at 8%.  For more information, click here.

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

For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, please follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

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Legislative Update

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner on vote terminating COVID-19 National Emergency

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after voting in favor of a resolution terminating the COVID-19 national emergency under the National Emergencies Act originally declared by President Trump in March 2020:

“When COVID-19 hit, Congress acted with urgency under a number of emergency declarations to provide the flexibilities and funding needed to save lives, roll out a vaccine, and keep our economy afloat. We’ve come a long way since then, and while it might be easier to kick the can down the road, I think it’s time to have a bipartisan conversation about how we unwind from these emergency actions and move forward with the valuable lessons we’ve learned.

Today’s resolution won’t affect critical flexibilities, such as the ones facilitating access to telehealth. Rather, this vote should serve as the beginning of a productive and bipartisan effort to examine which mitigation efforts and flexibilities are worth embedding permanently into our lives, and which are no longer relevant or necessary.”

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – October 28, 2022

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It was another beautiful fall week here in Virginia’s Sixth District. I enjoyed being home and having the opportunity to meet with constituents and listen to their thoughts and concerns. In Hot Springs, I met with members of the Brick Industry Association, and in Edinburg and Mount Jackson, I spoke to Vietnam-era Veterans and then toured a local food processing facility. Further, the latest data from Customs and Border Protection shows that the situation at our border is only getting worse, with no solution in sight by the Biden Administration. Additionally, the CDC is continuing its interference with parents’ roles in their children’s health regarding child COVID-19 vaccine recommendations. And finally, as the deadline for applications to the Congressional App Challenge approaches, be sure to find more information below if you or someone you know is interested in applying. As the House continues its District Work Period, I look forward to another week of meeting folks across the District.

Biden’s Border Crisis Rages On
Since taking office, President Biden has halted border wall construction, stopped the “Remain in Mexico” policy, reinstated ‘catch-and-release,’ canceled asylum cooperative agreements, and requested amnesty for millions. These actions have had disastrous consequences and resulted in a humanitarian, economic, and national security crisis. Just last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported more than 227,000 border apprehensions, which marks the highest number in 22 years. Further, these numbers make September the seventh straight month in which illegal border crossings have surpassed 170,000. Worse, more than 2.3 million illegal crossings have occurred this year alone – the highest in American history. The illegal immigration crisis is only getting worse, and this Administration must take corrective action immediately.

The CDC Continues to Interfere With Parents’ Roles in Their Children’s Health
The benefit of childhood vaccination against COVID-19 is questionable and, in some cases, has been deadly. Despite multiple studies showing that children face minimal risk from COVID-19, an advisory board of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended that a COVID-19 vaccine be added to the CDC’s immunization schedule for childhood vaccines beginning as early as six months of age. While the CDC has no authority to mandate the vaccine as a condition for school attendance, there will be some states that will likely begin making the shot mandatory. The CDC has misserved the American people multiple steps of the way throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and should prioritize vaccination against COVID-19 among those most at risk: those 65 and older, as well as those who may carry certain health risks. As Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has made clear, we must support parents being the drivers behind not only their children’s education but also whether their children receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Advocating for Brick Producers
The Sixth District is home to one of the largest brick producers in the Nation, and it was a pleasure to join them at the Brick Industry Association’s fall meeting in Hot Springs. Americans rely on our hardworking brick producers to build and maintain beautiful homes. Unfortunately, burdensome regulations from Washington bureaucrats and a one-size-fits-all government approach hurts our brick producers’ ability to thrive and compete in the marketplace, especially small businesses. I have worked to push legislation that cuts government red tape, like the Lessening Regulatory Costs and Establishing a Federal Regulatory Budget Act (HR 968) that I cosponsored, which establishes procedures and provides statutory authority to reduce the number of federal regulations.




Supporting Our Vietnam Veterans

I was honored to join Chapter 936 of the Vietnam Veterans of America in Edinburg at their monthly meeting. I appreciated the opportunity to thank the Veterans in attendance for their service, as well as highlight how Congress is continuing its work to address issues related to their time serving overseas. For example, I cosponsored and had a bipartisan measure included in the new PACT Act, which expands health care and benefits for Vietnam-era Veterans. As always, I will continue fighting for legislation that works to create a VA that provides quality health care in a timely
manner and one that meets the increasing needs of Veterans from all eras of service.

Bowman Andros Products
Bowman Andros Products is one of the largest fruit processing companies located right here in VA-06. They are providing fruit-based products, including apple sauce made from Virginia-grown apples, and good-paying jobs for Virginians. I had the pleasure of touring their facility and hearing more about their work getting products on our shelves.

Reminder: 2022 Congressional App Challenge Application Deadline Approaching
We are pleased to announce that the Congressional App Challenge (CAC), a competition designed to encourage student participation in computer science and coding, will be hosting our annual coding competition this year. It is a great opportunity for students interested in STEM to showcase their coding skills.

Middle and high school students are encouraged to register online and submit their app by November 1st. For more information, visit the official Congressional App Challenge website or email questions directly to StudentSupport@CongressionalAppChallenge.us.


COVID-19 Update

Last week in Virginia, there was an average of 12 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, down from 15 last week. This week’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 9%, down from 10% 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.

For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, please follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

 

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – October 18, 2022

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Americans continued to face another month of Democrat-controlled Washington not working for them. Prices rose 8.2% in September compared to last year, proving what we all knew: President Biden and the Democrats ‘Inflation Expansion Act’ did not reduce inflation. Americans are in for a winter with higher heating bills, and their savings and paychecks are worth less. Families on a fixed or low income are suffering the most. That’s why Republicans offer a brighter future, and this week I’ll focus on our Commitment to America’s fourth pillar, a Future Built on Freedom. Additionally, deadlines to apply for my office’s Service Academy nominations and the Congressional App Challenge are approaching. Finally, I was pleased to visit a local Boys & Girls Club and a new restaurant in Waynesboro as the Sixth District enjoys the fall weather and better days ahead.

A Commitment to America, Pillar IIII: A Future That’s Built on Freedom
After previously sharing House Republicans’ Commitment to America plan for an economy that’s strong, a Nation that’s safe, and a government that’s accountable, our focus this week will be on our commitment to a freer future. A future built on freedom means putting students’ futures first, achieving longer, healthier lives for Americans, and confronting Big Tech’s censorship of free speech.

Ronald Reagan said in his First Inaugural Address as Governor of California, “Freedom is a fragile thing, and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction.” Building on this, Republicans propose to provide parents with the freedom to be involved in their children’s education, to champion free speech over Big Tech censorship, and foster a health care system that provides quality and timely care rather than a top-down, one-size-fits-all government approach.

Over the last four weeks, I have highlighted our plan to lead America if given the opportunity. Our Nation faces many challenges, and its families are hurting. Inflation is eating away at their paychecks and savings, the scourge of drugs is killing a record number of citizens, crime is rampant, and the skyrocketing costs of food, gas, and just about everything else have lowered the standard of living. We can do better, and we will. That is Republicans’ commitment to you.


Prices Rise, Paychecks Shrink, Biden Vows More of the Same
We all knew that the Democrat-passed ‘Inflation Expansion Act’ would not reduce inflation. In fact, prices rose 8.2% in September compared to last year. From the grocery store to the gas pump to everything in between, American families are still paying more for everyday goods and services:

X Fuel oil is up 58.1%
X Airline fares are up 42.9%

X Eggs are up 30.5%

X Gas is up 18.2%

X Electricity is up 15.5%

X Milk is up 15.2%

I’ve heard from families across the Commonwealth, and they are struggling. Biden, Pelosi, and the Democrats’ self-inflicted inflation crisis, fueled by massive government spending and failed Green New Deal policies, has pushed costs higher, and it’s not getting any better. Families want to see real change in this country and keep more of their hard-earned money, not have their savings wiped away. If House Republicans are given a chance, we will cut wasteful spending and taxes, unleash American energy to drive down prices across the board, and restore fiscal responsibility in Washington.

 


Reminder: Service Academy Nominations Deadline Approaching

One of the greatest honors I have serving as the Representative for Virginia’s Sixth District is the privilege of nominating individuals to one of four United States Service Academies. Applicants to the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy require a recommendation from a Member of Congress or another nominating authority.

Those interested in a nomination must have their application postmarked by October 21st. For more information and to find the required application packet, please visit my website here.


2022 Congressional App Challenge Available to VA-06 Students

We are pleased to announce that the Congressional App Challenge (CAC), a competition designed to encourage student participation in computer science and coding, will be hosting our annual coding competition this year. It is a great opportunity for students interested in STEM to showcase their coding skills.
Middle and high school students are encouraged to register online and submit their app by November 1st. For more information, you can visit the official Congressional App Challenge website or email questions directly to StudentSupport@CongressionalAppChallenge.us.

Meetings with Constituents

It was great visiting the Boys & Girls Club in Waynesboro and shooting hoops with the kids!

 

I stopped by “The Barn” in Waynesboro, that serves up delicious fried chicken and coconut pie.

COVID-19 Update
Last week in Virginia, there was an average of 15 daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, up from 13 last week. This week’s COVID-19 test positivity rate remained at 10%. For more information, click here.

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

For the latest updates from Washington and across the Sixth District, please follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

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Legislative Update

Senator Warner applauds FCC decision to ban sale of new Huawei and ZTE devices

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement in response to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to ban new sales of Chinese-based  Huawei and ZTE technologies on the bases of national security:

 

“Several years ago, a bipartisan group of senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence began raising the alarm about the threat that Huawei and ZTE posed to our national security. I’m proud of the steps that Congress has since taken to confront this challenge, including passing the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 – which I co-wrote to incentivize carriers to replace Huawei and ZTE equipment in their networks. I’m glad to see the Federal Communications Commission finally take this step to protect our networks and national security.”

 

Senator Warner, a former telecommunications entrepreneur, has long been outspoken about the dangers of allowing the use of Huawei equipment in U.S. telecommunications infrastructure and that of U.S. allies.

 

Last year, Sen. Warner, joined by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), introduced legislation to prohibit federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act from being used to purchase Chinese telecommunications equipment, including from Huawei and ZTE. In 2020, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan group of leading national security Senators introduced legislation to encourage and support U.S. innovation in the race for 5G, providing over $1 billion to invest in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE.


 

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Dec
10
Sat
10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 10 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
Dec
14
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 14 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
17
Sat
1:00 pm The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
Dec 17 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Nutcracker 2022 @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of the seasonal ballet The Nutcracker, to be presented in Front Royal, VA, on Saturday December 17th 2022. Tickets: $35 and $25 Under 16:[...]
Dec
21
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 21 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
28
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 28 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jan
1
Sun
5:30 am First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jan 1 @ 5:30 am – 3:00 pm
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. While the American tradition of celebrating the New Year occurs at midnight on New Year’s Eve, other cultures celebrate by enjoying the sunrise on New Year’s Day. As part of the continuing American[...]
Jan
4
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 4 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]