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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 $161 million investment in George Washington Memorial Parkway; made possible by his landmark National Park law

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded $161 million in federal funding to rehabilitate the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP). This historic funding was made possible by the Great American Outdoors Act, a once-in-a-generation law authored and championed by Sen. Warner. The funding will come to Virginia by way of a contract issued by the National Park Service (NPS) in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 

“When we passed the Great American Outdoors Act, we knew it would help enable historic investments in national parks throughout the nation. Today, I’m proud to see these dollars come to Virginia to help rehabilitate one of the most important parkways in the nation,” said Sen. Warner. “Along with the funding that’s coming through our bipartisan infrastructure law, I look forward to seeing how these investments strengthen our Commonwealth, create local jobs, and reinvigorate our local economies.”

The George Washington Memorial Parkway is a scenic roadway that honors the nation’s first president and preserves cultural and natural resources along the Potomac River from Great Falls to Mount Vernon. The northern section of the parkway – from Spout Run to Interstate 495 – is the busiest section of the parkway and serves about 26 million drivers annually or roughly 70,000 vehicles per day. This section, which opened in 1962, has never undergone a major rehabilitation. The first phase of the project will be project design, and park visitors and drivers will experience little or no change to their routines. Construction, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2025, will impact drivers. Before construction begins, the NPS will provide detailed information to help drivers plan their trips.


Championed by Sen. Warner, the Great American Outdoors Act is a landmark law that preserves and protects our country’s national parks and public lands. The bipartisan law provides permanent and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and helps address the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks and other land management agencies. It also tackles $1.1 billion in deferred maintenance at Virginia’s national parks.

Sen. Warner’s effort to address the deferred maintenance backlog began in March 2017, when he worked with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to introduce the National Park Legacy Act. That same year, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced its own proposal, drawing heavily on the initial proposal from Sens. Warner and Portman. However, the Administration proposal would not have established a dedicated funding stream for NPS maintenance. In March 2018, after extensive negotiations, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan group introduced the Restore Our Parks Act, a consensus proposal endorsed by the Trump Administration, to invest in overdue maintenance needs at NPS sites.

In March 2020, following the President’s announcement that he would back the bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, as well as full and permanent funding for LWCF, Sen. Warner and his colleagues, introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law in August of 2020. According to the Park Service, approximately $249 million in funding from the Great American Outdoors Act has been allocated to national parks in Virginia thus far.

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Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – December 7, 2021

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With little more than two weeks left in this 1st Session of the 117th Congress, there are numerous items that demand our attention. One such matter is funding the Federal Government for the next year. Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats have focused on spending trillions of dollars of your hard-earned money, and they have been AWOL on this issue. Instead of passing the Appropriations bills which fund the government, they have chosen, for the thirteenth time in my three years in Congress, to ram through a short-term Continuing Resolution. This is no way to run a lemonade stand much less conduct our Nation’s business.

Immigration, keeping you safe, and standing up for the unborn continue to be issues that dominated the week in Congress. My colleagues and I wrote to the Biden Administration expressing our outrage over the $450,000 payments received by those who broke our laws by entering our country illegally. In that same vein, I spoke on the House Floor regarding the dangers of replacing our tough bail system with lenient catch-and-release policies, which was highlighted by the tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. On a more positive note, I was pleased that the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in Dobbs v Jackson. This case has the potential to be a significant step forward in the Pro-Life movement.

This week I also had the pleasure to recognize the Stuarts Draft High School Cheerleading Squad for winning the Class 2 state championship. I look forward to recognizing the accomplishments of all of our Sixth District High School athletics state champions over the next several months. And finally, as always, I appreciated the opportunity to meet with constituents throughout our region. There is much work to be done on behalf of the American people as the legislative session wraps up, and I will ensure the voices of residents in our area are heard in Washington.

Shirking Responsibility:
Once again Congress failed to do its Constitutional duty to pass long-term appropriations bills to fund the government. Instead, Congressional Democrats negated their responsibility this week by simply passing a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government’s lights on through mid-February. Time and again the Democrat Majority circumvents the regular appropriations process, and this legislation’s passage marks the thirteenth time Congress has voted on this type of stop-gap funding bill since I was sworn in three years ago. This is nothing more than an extension of the negligence by Democrats in addressing the critical issues facing American families. Whether it’s the inflation crisis, the border crisis, the energy crisis, or the crisis in Afghanistan, the failures of Nancy Pelosi and the Biden Administration were on full display for the American people this week.


Perhaps Congress would not have been up against a government shutdown had the Democrats not spent months pushing a $1.75 trillion social spending bill. And while Republicans were willing to come to the table on this bill, the Left sidestepped the decades-old budget process and were not willing to negotiate in good faith. When our Nation is on the edge of a fiscal cliff and staring down a $29 trillion debt, we cannot simply continue to put a band-aid on a broken budget process and expect things to change.

Dobbs v. Jackson:
Nearly 50 years ago in 1973, when Roe v Wade was decided, babies were considered viable at 28 weeks. Since then, medical advancements have increasingly pushed the age of viability earlier and earlier. With today’s medical care, premature babies are increasingly able to survive at 22 weeks or even earlier with aggressive care. That means babies are able to live at least a month and a half earlier than they were when Roe was decided.

Fortunately, on Monday, the Supreme Court heard Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, which has the potential to be a significant step forward for the Pro-Life movement. In 2018, Mississippi passed a law limiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the life and preserve the physical health of the mother, or in cases of severe fetal abnormality. The law was passed by overwhelming majorities in the state legislature and signed by then-Governor Phil Bryant. Because the law is in direct conflict with Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court announced in May 2021 it would review the Mississippi law and will specifically consider the question, “Are all pre-viability bans on abortion unconstitutional?” States must have the right to protect their unborn citizens, and I am hopeful that by answering this question the Supreme Court will soon truly give them that power. Since the first day I was elected, I have worked to advance the Pro-Life movement, and I remain committed to ensuring that life always prevails.

Keeping Communities Safe:
It is becoming increasingly common in legislatures around the Nation and in Washington that the voices of victims are being drowned out by activist reformers seeking to eliminate the bail system – people who would rather see criminals walk free on our streets than see the Rule of Law upheld. Without appropriate incentives to appear before the court, we run the risk of defendants fleeing justice while victims and their families are left with nothing but fear and anguish. We cannot allow our system to fail them, as it did those in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Prior to plowing into the Christmas parade, convicted felon and career criminal, Darrell Brooks was released on an inappropriately low $1,000 bond after being arrested for punching a woman and running her over with his SUV. That is astonishing. Considering the charges and with his record, Mr. Brooks’ bail should have never been so low. I urged my colleagues on the other side of the aisle this week to think of the victims of this tragedy the next time they suggest eliminating or drastically reforming the bail system. Reasonable bail keeps criminals off the street and our communities safe.

Failed Border Policies:
Since taking office, President Biden has not only worked to open our southern border but he has incentivized illegal immigration. During the past year, a record-breaking 1.6 million illegal aliens have unlawfully entered our country. To make matters worse, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security (DHS), and Health and Human Services (HHS) were considering payments of $450,000 per person, or close to $1 million per family, to those who illegally crossed the U.S. southern border and were separated from their families – as the law requires. Such policies only incentivize increased border crossings and more instances of dangerous criminals being released into our local communities – and it is American citizens who pay the consequences. My colleagues and I recently condemned the Administration’s plans and urged President Biden to instead compensate Americans harmed by these failed border policies. The full letter can be found here.

 

Honoring Champions:
As I do for every state champion team from a high school in the Sixth Congressional District, this week I took to the House Floor to recognize the Stuarts Draft High School Cheerleading squad for winning the Class 2 State title. After COVID-19 shrank the number of teams that could make it to the state tournament last spring, the Cougars fell just two points shy of qualifying for the 2020 competition. Coming off of this defeat and facing the loss of nine seniors, the team was determined to redeem themselves in the 2021 season. And after much hard work and determination, their efforts paid off, winning this year’s state championship.

The Cougars dominated the competition earning a score of 257.5 with their closest competition trailing by 35 points. With this victory in the books, Stuarts Draft Cheer has now claimed the state title in four of the past five years – highlighting just how talented this team is. Following the win, Co-captain Kay-Lee Freeman said, “To not even make it last year then come back to win, I just feel so redeemed. People said there was no way we were ever going to rebuild, but look at us now.” Congratulations again to the Stuarts Draft Cougars on this accomplishment, it’s well deserved.

Constituent Visits:
I always enjoy traveling throughout our region meeting with constituents, students, and businesses. This week I had the pleasure of touring Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater and hearing from students at Fort Defiance High School during a “Take Your Legislator to School” event.

Dynamic Aviation (Bridgewater)

 

Fort Defiance High School (Fort Defiance)

COVID-19 Update:
This week in Virginia there was an average of 18.3 cases of COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents. This is up from an average of 18.1 cases from one week prior. This week’s positivity rate was 6.8%, up from 6.2% from 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.

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US Senator Mark Warner comments on diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, China:

“I applaud President Biden’s decision to impose a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. A diplomatic boycott of the Games sends a powerful message to the Chinese Communist Party that the United States will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s increasing aggression globally and its disturbing human rights abuses, a list that is long and growing and includes vast and systematic repression of Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang; cultural destruction in Tibet; the silencing of those deemed threatening to the CCP, such as tennis player Peng Shuai, and companies and individuals around the world who do not adhere to the CCP’s narrative; escalating threats against the people of Taiwan; and the destruction of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong.”

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Legislative Update

US Senator Mark Warner comments on looming threat of a government shutdown

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the statement below, following reports that Republicans may force a government shutdown this Friday:

“With government funding set to run out this Friday, it’s my sincere hope that my Republican colleagues will not stand in the way of a measure to keep our nation’s lights on. As we head into winter and brace for the effects of the new Omicron variant, it would be negligent to shut down our government – all in the name of fighting a vaccine requirement designed to boost vaccination rates and save lives. I urge my Republican colleagues to work in good faith to avoid a harmful shutdown that could devastate federal workers and American families just three weeks ahead of the holidays.”

Sen. Warner has been a vocal critic of government shutdowns, which take a toll on federal workers and employees who are often left with no other recourse than to drain their savings, tank their credit, or choose between putting food on the table or keeping a roof above their heads. Government shutdowns can also wreak havoc for veterans, seniors, and other Americans who rely on timely government services. In September, Sen. Warner reintroduced the Stop STUPIDITY (Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage In The Coming Years) Act, legislation to prevent future government shutdowns.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – November 26, 2021

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While I was home in the beautiful Sixth District this week spending time with friends and family for Thanksgiving, my work on behalf of constituents continued. Legislatively, I cosponsored a resolution to protect the rights of parents to get involved in their children’s education, as well as joined nearly 100 of my Republican colleagues in introducing a bill to protect the rights of health care providers who refuse to participate in an abortion. I also took action to stand in defense of the Second Amendment by writing to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to express my outrage regarding a proposed federal gun registry. Further, as the border crisis rages on, my colleagues and I voiced our anger to President Biden regarding his Administration’s failure to reimplement the Remain in Mexico Policy as it had been ordered to do by a federal judge. Finally, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit several manufacturing facilities in the District and discuss the legislative process with AP Government students. It was a productive few days here at home, and I hope all families across our region had a happy and healthy holiday.

Parents Bill of Rights:
Parents want what’s best for their children and have become more involved in the direction and topics their kids are being taught in school. Unfortunately, these efforts are being met with resistance and hostility at the local and now federal levels. Elected officials and teachers’ unions want to dictate how and what our children should be taught in classrooms. We saw it when school districts worked to keep our schools closed for months on end despite the evidence showing they could open safely. We saw it when President Biden’s Department of Justice targeted parents for speaking up at school board meetings at the behest of an interest group that labeled concerned parents as “domestic terrorists.”

That is why I recently cosponsored the Parents Bill of Rights. This resolution will protect parental involvement by reinforcing their right to be heard, their right to see curriculums, and their right to be updated on any violent activity that happens on their children’s campus. America’s parents should never be made to feel powerless – they should be empowered and protected when it comes to influencing their own children’s education.

Protecting the Second Amendment:
Whether in Richmond or Washington, I have always been a staunch defender of the Second Amendment. That is why this week I joined my colleagues in writing to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to express my outrage about a proposed rule that would allow the agency to create a permanent database to track all lawful firearm sales. This would essentially serve as a federal gun registry, the creation of which has previously been prohibited by Congressional action. According to recently published documents, the ATF has already collected 54.7 million records in FY 2021 alone. It is an outrage that the federal government would maintain such extensive records of law-abiding citizens’ firearm transfers. This proposed rule is an affront to the Second Amendment and to the American people, and I will work to oppose it going into effect. To read the full letter, click here.


Securing our Border:
Since President Biden was sworn in, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has encountered more than 1.4 million illegal aliens unlawfully crossing the border. This number includes over 126,000 unaccompanied alien children and more than 450,000 aliens as part of alleged family units. However, this number does not include the estimated 300,000-400,000 aliens who were not stopped by the Border Patrol and have made their way into the heart of the country.

One of the many factors contributing to this crisis is the Biden Administration’s suspension of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as the Remain in Mexico Program. MPP is a program implemented by the Trump Administration that required certain aliens entering or seeking to enter the United States from Mexico to remain outside of the United States for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Therefore, MPP essentially ended “catch and release” by requiring aliens to wait outside of the United States instead of being released into the interior of the country. While the program was suspended when this Administration came to power, on August 13, 2021, Judge Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith[.]” Despite this ruling, DHS has failed to do so. Therefore, my colleagues and I wrote to the President demanding answers as to when his Administration plans to reimplement MPP in accordance with the federal judge’s ruling. We must secure our border to protect Americans and MPP works toward accomplishing that goal. The full letter can be found here.



Standing for Life:

Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have fought to advance pro-life legislation, and I will continue to be a voice for the voiceless here in Washington. To that end, I joined 100 of my Republican colleagues in reintroducing the Conscience Protection Act. This legislation upholds one of the most sincere fundamental American principles, which is the freedom of religion and conscience. This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to prevent any federal, state or local government from penalizing or discriminating against a health care professional if the provider refuses to participate in an abortion. No medical professional should be at risk of losing their license and job for upholding their oath to “do no harm.” This bill also ensures those whose conscience protection has been violated will be able to seek justice in court. I will continue to advocate for legislation that protects life and those who support it.

Constituent Visits:
I always enjoy traveling throughout our region meeting with constituents and businesses. This week I had the pleasure of touring various manufacturing facilities and hearing from students during a “Take Your Legislator to School” event.

Wegmann USA, Inc. (Lynchburg)

 

E.C. Glass High School (Lynchburg)

 



Giving Thanks:

“We ordain that this day of our ships arrival, at the place assigned for plantation, in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

The above prayer was recited on December 4, 1619, not in Plymouth, Massachusetts but at Berkley Plantation, Virginia just over a year before the meal in Plymouth took place. The settlers who landed at Berkley were a small religious-minded group who decided that annually they would celebrate their successful and safe voyage from England with prayer.

This thousand-acre property, in what is modern-day Charles City County, Virginia, is the sight of the true first English Thanksgiving in the New World. When President John F. Kennedy issued the Thanksgiving proclamation in 1962, he failed to acknowledge Virginia’s role in establishing the holiday. After hearing from a Virginia Senator, Kennedy acknowledged that “over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and Massachusetts, far from home, in a lonely wilderness set aside a time of Thanksgiving.”

While the past year and a half have been difficult, this week we give thanks for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our country and its people. From my family to yours, I wish everyone across the Sixth District a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

COVID-19 Update:
This week in Virginia there was an average of 18.7 cases of COVID-19 per every 100,000 residents. This is up from an average of 16.8 cases from one week prior. This week’s positivity rate was 6.2%, the same as the week prior. 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.

Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

 

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Legislative Update

Front Royal-Warren County Airport receives $790,000 in funding from infrastructure deal signed into law last week

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On the busiest air travel day of the year, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that airports in Virginia are expected to receive $399,740,660 in federal funds over the next five years as a result of the bipartisan infrastructure deal signed into law last week.

The funding will be distributed to Virginia airports over five years as follows:

• Washington Dulles International: $120,399,725
• Ronald Reagan Washington National: $116,734,485
• Richmond International: $35,608,215
• Norfolk International: $33,098,390
• Charlottesville-Albemarle: $15,444,835
• Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional: $14,977,645
• Newport News/Williamsburg International: $10,194,005
• Lynchburg Regional/Preston Glenn Field: $6,497,230
• Shenandoah Valley Regional: $5,066,130
• Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field: $3,735,000
• Leesburg Executive: $3,735,000
• Virginia Highlands: $1,480,000
• Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive: $1,480,000
• Culpeper Regional: $1,480,000
• Danville Regional: $1,480,000
• New River Valley: $1,480,000
• Blue Ridge: $1,480,000
• Chesapeake Regional: $1,480,000
• Hampton Roads Executive: $1,480,000
• Richmond Executive-Chesterfield County: $1,480,000
• Hanover County Municipal: $1,480,000
• Warrenton-Fauquier: $1,480,000
• Winchester Regional: $1,480,000
• Franklin Regional: $790,000
• Front Royal-Warren County: $790,000
• Twin County: $790,000
• Louisa County/Freeman Field: $790,000
• Luray Caverns: $790,000
• Mountain Empire: $790,000
• Accomack County: $790,000
• Orange County: $790,000
• Dinwiddie County: $790,000
• New Kent County: $790,000
• William M. Tuck: $790,000
• Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional: $790,000
• Stafford Regional: $790,000
• Suffolk Executive: $790,000
• Tappahannock-Essex County: $790,000
• Middle Peninsula Regional: $790,000
• Emporia-Greensville Regional: $550,000
• Farmville Regional: $550,000
• Ingalls Field: $550,000
• Lee County: $550,000
• Tazewell County: $550,000
• Tangier Island: $550,000
• Lonesome Pine: $550,000
• Brookneal/Campbell County: $550,000

The funding represents Virginia’s share of $15 billion in direct grants to airports expected around the country as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a bipartisan, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness that was negotiated by Sen. Warner and strongly supported by Sen. Kaine.


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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Family Preservation Services

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Groups Recover Together

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Main Street Travel

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

Northwestern Community Services Board

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Examiner

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Salvation Army

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

Studio Verde

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

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

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

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
8
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 8 @ 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
10
Fri
7:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 10 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
7:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 10 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
7:30 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Dec 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church 1 West Main Street | Front Royal, VA 22630 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108[...]
Dec
11
Sat
2:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 11 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
7:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 11 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
Dec
12
Sun
2:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 12 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
3:00 pm Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
Dec 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christmas Story @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
3:00 pm Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Valley Chorale's Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
This year’s yuletide concert is titled THIS SHINING NIGHT.  Join us for a selection of seasonal songs — ranging in style from classical to spirituals to pop — sure to brighten your holiday and lift[...]
4:00 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108 John Mosby Hwy. | Upperville, VA 20184 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees