Connect with us

Legislative Update

Warner announces bill to expand access to affordable health care

Published

on

With the Biden administration set to unveil details on a series of executive orders to reverse his predecessor’s relentless efforts to sabotage the success of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) will introduce the Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 to help counter the devastating effects the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has had on the record-high number of people lacking insurance across the country. Specifically, the Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 aims to protect health care coverage for Americans living with preexisting conditions while also expanding access to quality and affordable health care coverage for working families.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have lost their employer-provided insurance. Amid one of the most unprecedented health and economic health crises our country has faced where an alarming number of Americans already lack health insurance, now is the time to deploy tools to meet the demands on our health care system. As the Biden administration readies its executive orders to expand health care coverage – including reopening the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act – I’m also introducing legislation that would support the administration’s effort to get more families affordable health care coverage,” said Sen. Warner.

The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 would lower costs for working families by:

• Capping health care costs on the ACA exchanges: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will ensure no individual or family pays more than 8.5 percent of their total household income for their health insurance. Currently, no family making more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line ($51,040 for an individual in 2020) is eligible for premium assistance on the ACA exchanges. This provision – which is supported in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan – expands premium assistance to individuals making more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line and places a cap on insurance costs for all individuals and families on the ACA exchanges.


• Establishing a low-cost public health care option: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a low-cost, public health care option for individuals who are eligible to enroll for health care coverage via the ACA exchanges. Establishing a public health care option will increase competition and ensure an added lower-cost health care option for more American families.

• Authorizing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices: Under existing federal law, the government is explicitly banned from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices. The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will allow the federal government to leverage its purchasing power to negotiate prices and reduce drug costs for more than 37 million seniors on Medicare.

• Allowing insurers to offer health care coverage across state boundaries: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will allow insurers to offer health care coverage across state boundaries, increasing choice and competition among plans and driving down costs while maintaining quality, value, and strong consumer protections.

• Supporting state-run reinsurance programs: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will create a new “State Health Insurance Affordability and Innovation Fund” to support state-run reinsurance programs and additional state efforts to reduce premium costs and expand health care coverage. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has previously estimated such programs could reduce health care premiums by 8 percent within one year.

The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will increase access to affordable health care coverage by:

• Incentivizing states to expand Medicaid: If all states were to expand their Medicaid programs, the number of uninsured Americans would decrease by more than 2 million. The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will provide additional incentives to states to expand their Medicaid program by temporarily increasing federal matching funds to states that expand their programs and reducing existing administrative payments to states that do not expand their programs. It would also provide retroactive payments to states like Virginia that were late to expand Medicaid and have not received their fair share of federal matching payments.

• Expanding Medicaid eligibility for new moms: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will allow states to provide new mothers up to 12 months of postpartum Medicaid eligibility. This provision would significantly improve maternal health outcomes by ensuring mothers have access to vital health care services during the immediate months after giving birth.

• Simplifying enrollment: There are over 7 million Americans currently eligible for cost-free Medicaid coverage, but who are not enrolled due a variety of factors including unnecessary paperwork and a confusing enrollment process. The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will simplify Medicaid and CHIP enrollment by permanently authorizing the successful Medicaid Express Lane Eligibility program and expanding it to include adults. The Department of Health and Human Services will also be required to conduct a study and develop recommendations to allow states to further implement Medicaid and CHIP auto-enrollment for individuals eligible for cost-free coverage.

• Increasing Medicaid funding for states with high levels of unemployment: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will implement a counter-cyclical Medicaid matching payment from the federal government to ensure that states with high levels of unemployment receive a higher federal matching payment to appropriately account for an increase in Medicaid enrollment. This will ensure states can maintain affordable health care coverage during economic downturns and temporary periods of high unemployment.

• Funding rural health care providers: Under current law, rural providers are unfairly compensated at a much lower rate than urban providers, making it more difficult for Virginia providers to keep their doors open in underserved communities. The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will create a rural floor for the Area Wage Index formula the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid use to reimburse rural providers. Fixing the Area Wage Index will boost access to affordable health care coverage in Virginia’s rural and medically underserved communities.

• Reducing burdens on small businesses: The Health Care Improvement Act of 2021 will modernize ACA employer reporting requirements to ensure that businesses can provide comprehensive health care benefits to their employees without additional administrative costs or unnecessary paperwork.

“As Americans continue to face a once in a century public health crisis, Senator Warner is working to make health care more accessible and affordable for the American people. Senator Warner’s bill would take bold steps to reduce costs, expand coverage, and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions at a time when access to affordable health care has never been more critical. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans should work with Senate leadership to prioritize the health and well-being of Americans by building on the success of the Affordable Care and abandoning their health care sabotage agenda,” said Brad Woodhouse, Executive Director of Protect Our Care.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the deep, structural problems in our health care system: namely, the cost is far too big of a burden and not enough people have adequate protection. We must make real reforms to health care, and Third Way applauds Senator Mark Warner for the leadership he has shown in the Health Care Improvement Act of 2020,” said Gabe Horwitz, Senior Vice President for the Economic Program at Third Way. “Among its very important provisions, this legislation would expand coverage by making enrollment in Medicaid automatic whenever a low-income uninsured patient accesses health care. As Third Way has long called for, automatic enrollment makes health care easier for people to navigate and is an important step to achieve universal coverage. The Warner legislation also builds on the Affordable Care Act and makes coverage affordable for millions of middle-class families who currently fall through gaps in the program. And it provides financial relief to states during economic downturns like the one we’re experiencing now by increasing the federal share of Medicaid payments to the states. Americans need far more security and stability in their health care, and we are excited about the vision shown in Senator Warner’s bill.”

“The Virginia Community Healthcare Association represents more than 150 health center sites, serving over 350,000 individuals across the Commonwealth with the goal of ensuring access to primary care for all Virginians. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for quality health care coverage more critical than ever. Senator Warner’s Health Care Improvement Act will advance our shared goal of reducing health care costs and expanding quality health care coverage to more Virginians. We thank him for introducing this legislation and look forward to working with him on this important effort,” said Rick Shinn, Director of Government Affairs for the Virginia Community Healthcare Association.

“Rising health care costs have increasingly become a burden for too many Virginians – making it more difficult to access quality and affordable health care coverage. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of ensuring every American has access to quality health care coverage, and also highlighted significant gaps in access to health care coverage for communities of color and people with low-incomes. Senator Warner’s legislation will improve access to quality health care by closing existing coverage gaps and reducing premiums costs for people who already have health care coverage. We look forward to working with Senator Warner to advance these important priorities,” said Freddy Mejia, Health Policy Analyst, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.

“The Virginia Poverty Law Center applauds Senator Warner’s introduction of comprehensive legislation on health care. The improvements in this bill address a wide range of critical issues that will reduce costs and expand access to care for consumers in Virginia and across the country. Specifically, we strongly support the Senator’s proposals that improve ACA health plan affordability, enhance premium assistance, provide additional incentives for states to expand their Medicaid programs, ensure continuity of health care for new mothers and reduce Medicare drug prices. We encourage Congress to move quickly on this vital legislation that will help so many consumers during and after the COVID pandemic,” said Jill Hanken, Health Attorney, the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

“We at the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) believe that access to quality health care is a right, not a privilege and that access to comprehensive health services must be recognized and protected as a basic human right. Especially in light of this ongoing pandemic, we continue our commitment to ensuring health care for all. To that end, we support this effort to expand health care coverage in the U.S. AMSA especially supports Medicaid eligibility expansion, the simplification of enrollment procedures for Medicaid and SCHIP programs, and the expansion of federal financing. Moreover, we are excited to see efforts that work to reduce prescription drug prices and fight against surprise medical billing. AMSA applauds Senator Warner and the Health Care Improvement Act,” said Dr. Ali Bokhari, President of the American Medical Student Association

“The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is aware of how access challenges and high costs in our health care system disproportionally affect people with disabilities. We appreciate Senator Warner’s commitment to work closely with the disability community as he leads efforts to ensure Americans have access to the care and coverage they need. AUCD supports the Health Care Improvement Act and its commitment to address the pressing needs of reducing health care costs and protecting the rights of people with disabilities,” said Rylin Rodgers, Policy Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

This legislation also boasts the support of The Arc of Northern Virginia, The Autism Society of Northern Virginia, Healthcare for All Virginians Coalition, First Focus Campaign for Children, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Bill text is available here. A section-by-section explainer on the bill is available here.

With President Biden’s expected executive order announcement later today and the introduction of his American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration is set to act on additional priorities Sen. Warner has long called for to improve our nation’s health care system such as re-opening the Affordable Care Act exchanges so that more uninsured individuals can enroll in health care coverage. During the COVID-19 health crisis, Sen. Warner called on the Trump Administration and Congress to make this important change to address the health care coverage crisis we now face.

In line with the forthcoming announcement by the Biden administration, Sen. Warner’s Health Care Improvement Act provides $100,000,000 in funding to support the administration’s effort to fully fund programs to help more Americans enroll in affordable health care coverage. Additionally, President Biden plans to roll back the Trump administration’s actions to sabotage the Affordable Care Act which has undermined our preparedness for and ability to respond to COVID-19 and protect health care coverage for millions of Americans. In 2019, Sen. Warner led the entire Senate Democratic Caucus in a legislative maneuver to protect health coverage for Americans with preexisting conditions from the Trump Administration’s attempts to undermine those safeguards.

Share the News:

Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – October 23, 2021

Published

on

Last week began with the House kicking the can down the road regarding the debt ceiling for two short months as House and Senate Democrats continue to struggle to find support to pass their massive tax and spend reconciliation bill. Included in that boondoggle is a proposal to allow the IRS to have access to all private citizens’ bank transactions over $600. This is a ridiculous proposal, and I wrote to the Treasury Secretary expressing my concerns. I also wrote to the President last week expressing my dismay for his abandonment of sound energy policy for this country. Before the President took office, the United States was enjoying energy independence, but now as a result of the Biden Administration’s policy initiatives, we are now once again reliant on our adversaries overseas. With energy costs skyrocketing, this is another failure of leadership as the economic and inflation crisis gets worse. I will continue to advocate for sensible solutions to these problems and will be sure to voice the views of my constituents in Washington, which I continue to gather as I travel throughout the Sixth District.

Debt Ceiling:
Last Tuesday, the House was called back into session to vote on raising the debt ceiling. I voted no on this measure for several reasons. First and foremost, voting to raise the debt ceiling only encourages President Biden and Democrats to pursue their $4.3 trillion tax and spend package, which is nothing more than a wish list of Far-Left Socialist policies. Some of the most ridiculous proposals in this package include $630 billion to prop up the Green New Deal, amnesty for 8 million illegal immigrants, and a $2.1 trillion tax increase on American families and job creators. Further, this package is expected to add at least $1.75 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years.

If Democrats want to continue to spend trillions of dollars that we cannot afford, they should not expect Republicans to bail them out. Democrats could have used the reconciliation process to achieve their goal of raising the debt limit, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate. However, rather than start this process in a timely manner, they blamed Republicans and incorrectly claimed Democrats did not have the ability to act. This poor governance by Democrats is a major blunder of their own making, and therefore, House Republicans opposed raising the debt ceiling for two short months. The Left is driving us over a fiscal cliff and shows no signs of slowing down.

Invading Your Privacy:
Among many of the egregious proposals included in the Democrats’ $4.3 trillion reconciliation bill is a new policy that would mandate banks to report all transactions of private citizens over $600 to the IRS. To enforce this plan, the legislation would also provide funding to double the number of IRS agents, who would target American families and small businesses. The Federal government has no place in people’s bank accounts and the proposal is the height of government invasiveness. I recently joined my colleagues in writing a letter to the Treasury Secretary expressing our serious concerns.


Further, in 2013, we learned the IRS had been targeting conservative groups for years and to this day, not a single person involved has faced consequences. Just this year, the IRS leaked personal tax records of wealthy Americans to prove a political point and yet again, no one was charged. The last thing we should do is delegate more power to an institution that tolerates corruption and discrimination.



Energy Independence:

Since taking office, President Biden has taken several actions that have resulted in the United States no longer being energy independent, most notably perhaps was the canceling of the Keystone Pipeline. Now as gas prices soar, President Biden has asked OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), which includes countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Venezuela, to produce more oil in an effort to drive prices down – a request that was denied. My colleagues and I wrote to the President recently insisting that instead of continuing to call for increased prosperity for OPEC+ affiliated nations that seek to harm the United States, we should meet American needs with American-produced energy. Accordingly, we urged him to reverse course and embrace an American solution by rescinding Executive Orders and other policies designed by his Administration to reduce access to our country’s oil and natural gas resources, which reduces the global competitiveness of American companies and workers. The full letter can be found here.


Economic Crisis:

Last week, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain quote tweeted a tweet from former President Obama’s Economic Advisor Jason Furman, which claimed that inflation and other economic problems facing Americans are “high-class problems.” This is an insulting comment to millions of hard-working Americans. Inflation is a tax on everyone, and it has gone up every single month of Joe Biden’s presidency. Instead of addressing the root cause of inflation (out-of-control government spending), Biden and House Democrats are continuing to push their multi-trillion-dollar tax and spending package, which will only add fuel to America’s skyrocketing inflation.

The Consumer Price Index rose 5.4% year over year in September, which is the fastest increase in 13 years. As a result of this, Americans are paying more for just about everything while making less because of inflation:
• Gasoline is UP 42.1%
• Propane, kerosene, and firewood are UP 27.6%
• Gas Utilities are UP 20.6%
• Bacon and related products are UP 19.3%
• Televisions are UP 12.7%
• Eggs are UP 12.6%
• Boys’ and girls’ footwear are UP 11.9%
• Electricity is UP 5.2%
• Transportation is UP 4.4%

 

Constituent Events:
I always enjoy the opportunity to travel throughout our region meeting with constituents and businesses. Recently, I met with the Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA in Roanoke, as well as toured manufacturing facilities in Weyers Cave and Lynchburg.

Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA (Roanoke)

 

Comsonics (Weyers Cave)

 

Belvac (Lynchburg)


COVID Update:

As of October 17, 2021, Virginia has had 907,882 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 13,486. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of October 17th, 5,882,459 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 5,292,282 people are fully vaccinated.

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.

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Legislative Update

U.S Senator Mark Warner: Statement on DOL Proposed ESG Rule

Published

on

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, released the following statement on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule enabling retirement plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their decision-making:

“I am glad that the Employee Benefits Security Administration has moved to reverse one of the Trump Administration’s efforts to ignore the calamitous effects of climate change, including its associated financial risks, by proposing a rule enabling retirement plans to consider Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations in investment decisions. Companies do not operate in a vacuum and investment fiduciaries should have the ability to consider the sustainability of the broader community without running afoul of their fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders. With the publication of this proposed rule, the Biden Administration has taken a step towards protecting the long-term financial security of pensioners and workers across the country.

“This proposed rule also highlights the continued importance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) effort to establish clear ESG disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies. Investors increasingly clamor for consistent ESG reporting because they understand companies that invest in their workers, minimize harmful environmental impacts, and enact strong worker safety measures, also tend to perform better in the long-run.”

Under the proposed rule, retirement plan administrators will continue to act in the sole interest of the plan’s participants but will now be able to more freely include ESG factors, including in their initial analysis of investment options. Sen. Warner has previously called on Congress to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to require consideration of ESG factors as part of fiduciary duty. While this rule does not require consideration of ESG factors by plan managers, it grants critical flexibility to do so.


Share the News:

Continue Reading

Legislative Update

Warner Weekly Wrap-Up: Raise the Roof

Published

on


This week, the Senate considered a number of executive nominations, resolutions, and pieces of legislation, including a bill to extend the nation’s debt limit through early December. Following last week’s spending bill to temporarily keep the government open, the Senate continued to negotiate with the White House and the House of Representatives in an effort to raise the debt limit, pass historic infrastructure legislation, and find a compromise on the budget reconciliation.

RAISE THE ROOF

This week, Sen. Warner was focused on avoiding a dangerous debt default that loomed come mid-October, after Republican leaders spent weeks insisting that they would not vote to honor the debts already incurred under the last presidential administration.

Failure to make good on the full faith and credit of the United States would have irreversible consequences for American families, businesses and local communities. Seniors could stop receiving Social Security checks. Families would stop getting their child tax credits. And costs would be passed onto consumers… as mortgages, car loans, and credit cards get more expensive.


Nothing about raising the debt limit obligates any new spending. This is just about paying for the debt that was already incurred – to the tune of $8 trillion under President Trump.

Momentarily staving off financial and economic disaster, a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday evening voted to temporarily extend the nation’s debt limit through early December, giving congressional leaders an additional two months to figure out a way to avoid a catastrophic default.

Following the vote to extend the nation’s debt limit Sen. Warner issued the following tweet:

 

Sen. Warner, who has been vocal about the need to reform the nation’s debt ceiling, said this, in a call to Virginia reporters:

“Having this arbitrary political tool out there that allows extremists on either end of the political spectrum, by giving them a live hand grenade and having them pull the pin to self-inflict damage, is crazy.”

He doubled down on the importance of debt limit reform in an interview with ABC News’ Phil Lipof:

“When we come to December…my hope is we can include elimination of this frankly crazy requirement because it is nothing but a political tool, used by both parties, to extract a pound of flesh without a meaningful policy debate…if we were to put into jeopardy the full faith and credit of the United States it would have both national security and hugely catastrophic economic consequences.”

GOING POSTAL

For months, Charlottesville residents have experienced some of the worst mail delays in the country – sometimes going days or even weeks without any mail delivery at all. For months, Virginians have been missing out on needed medications, incurring late fees for bills that don’t arrive on time, and, of late, waiting on absentee ballots that should have arrived weeks ago.

Over the weekend, many Charlottesville residents finally started to see some relief, as a surge of postal carriers from across Virginia descended on the region to help tackle the backlog of piled-up mail, with an additional 55 carriers Saturday and 63 carriers Sunday joining local postal workers in an all-hands-on-deck blizzard of mail activity. The blitz followed an August visit by Sen. Warner to the Charlottesville post office, where he called on the U.S. Postal Service to immediately address the unacceptable levels of service in the area. Sen. Warner was also joined by Sen. Kaine in writing to Virginia District Manager of the United States Postal Service Gerald Roane, urging him to address the problem.

 

After last weekend’s surge, Sen. Warner held a remote media availability to specifically address to the problem of mail delivery delays in Charlottesville and throughout the Commonwealth. Speaking to reporters, Sen. Warner expressed frustration in the lack of communication and transparency from the postal service as well as the lack of progress made in regards to a permanent solution.

“Some of these management errors and lack of transparency frustrates the heck out of me. Now at the end of the day…there’s only so much rattling of the cage I can do. I really think it’s going to take pressure from me, pressure from the press, and others to get more clarity.”

Following Sen. Warner’s media availability, the post office announced a Saturday job fair to recruit more mail carriers. In the meantime, a number of extra carriers will be staying in the area to help keep up with the flow of mail and continue working to eliminate the mail backlog.

HAVANA PASSAGE

For years, intelligence and diplomatic personnel serving abroad have been falling victim to “unexplained health incidents” caused by mysterious attacks from an unknown source. “Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an illness that surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016. Since then, dozens of U.S. diplomats and members of the intelligence community at other locations have suffered symptoms including dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, and memory loss that a study by the National Academy of Sciences found was consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.

President Biden signed into law the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, legislation authored by Sen. Warner, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), to provide health and financial support to the public servants injured as a result of these directed energy attacks.

Sen. Warner issued the following statement celebrating the HAVANA Act being signed into law:

“Every day, American diplomats and intelligence officers around the world put themselves at risk to keep our nation safe. In return, we have an obligation to provide ample support when these brave men and women are injured in the line of duty. As the Senate Intelligence Committee continues to look into the mysterious and debilitating attacks on U.S. personnel abroad, I’m proud to know that these officials will now be able to count on the compensation and care they deserve, thanks to President Biden’s signing of our Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act.”

This legislation authorizes the CIA Director, the Secretary of State, and other agency leaders to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries.  Both the CIA and State Department will be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment. The legislation also requires the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.

GRAB BAG

LEADERS IN TECH: Sen. Warner sent a letter urging the Biden Administration to make technology policy a priority at the upcoming ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY: Sens Warner and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent presidential abuse of “national security” tariffs by reinstating congressional authority over trade.

KNOW ANYONE: Sens. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, to succeed United States District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson, who will assume senior status effective November 23, 2021.

 CONFIRMED: Sens. Warner and Kaine released a statement upon the Senate voting to confirm Jessica Aber as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) and Christopher Kavanaugh as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA).

RIGHT TO VOTE: Sens. Warner and Kaine joined Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in introducing legislation to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act and stop the spread of voter suppression.

WEEK AHEAD

The Senate will be in recess next week. Sen. Warner is expected to hit the road, where he’ll hold events across Virginia.

Share the News:


Continue Reading

Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – October 6, 2021

Published

on

Once again the American people were failed by the Democratic leadership in the U.S. Congress. After days of canceling scheduled votes in an attempt by Speaker Pelosi to get her caucus in line, Democrats failed to pass their bloated “infrastructure” package, even after a Capitol Hill visit from President Biden. Instead, they passed a 30-day extension of the existing surface transportation law. However, the fight is not over. Speaker Pelosi will use the next 30 days to attempt to wrangle the votes she needs to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which serves as the key for progressives to unlocking the massive $4.3 trillion tax and spending spree reconciliation legislation.

We also heard this week from Generals Milley and McKenzie, as well as Secretary of Defense Austin, regarding the disastrous withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. These advisors testified that they recommended leaving a stabilizing force in the country, which is in direct contradiction to the President’s claims.

On a more positive note, there was movement on several pieces of legislation that I have cosponsored, including the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act, which was signed into law. Further, this week, I took action to support our veterans, expressed residents’ concerns to the US Postal Service, and honored a local charitable foundation. It was a busy few days, but I appreciate the honor to serve on your behalf.

“Infrastructure”:
The House was in disarray this week as the Speaker tried desperately to unite her party around a $1.2 trillion boondoggle infrastructure package. After days of canceling votes, the Speaker was forced to temporarily concede after she and President Biden failed to get the bill over the finish line. The far-Left wing of their caucus refuses to vote for the $1.2 trillion package unless the behemoth $4.3 trillion reconciliation bill is passed first in the Senate. This delay is a win for the American people as neither bill truly addresses infrastructure and instead prioritizes Green New Deal initiatives and pork-barrel spending, all the while raising taxes on American families and saddling future generations with crippling debt.


By the time Friday evening came and no deal was reached, the Speaker was forced to pass a 30-day extension of the existing surface transportation law. I voted no when the bill came to the Floor because this legislation is simply a tool being used by the Speaker to buy more time that will be used to coerce Democrats to support the larger “infrastructure” package. I will continue to oppose these two bills as they would be detrimental to the long-term viability of the US economy and would cause inflation to soar to even higher levels than we are already experiencing.

Democrats Mismanagement of Government:
The past few days once again highlighted the dysfunction that occurs when Democrats are left to govern. After playing a game of “chicken” by trying to tie passage of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government to an increase in the debt ceiling, the Left was forced to split the bills in order to avert a government shutdown. While the House and Senate did pass a CR to keep the government open, the debt ceiling issue still remains. Contrary to Democrat claims, the responsibility for default would fall squarely on the shoulders of the Left. Democrats control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and they have the procedural tools and time necessary to raise the debt ceiling ahead of the Treasury’s deadline. However, if Democrats would like this to be a bipartisan initiative, they must make serious reforms to rein in reckless spending.

Afghanistan Revelations:
The withdrawal from Afghanistan was an avoidable disaster and the following facts are indisputable: hundreds of Americans were abandoned and many remain stranded, thousands of Afghan allies are still stuck with little hope of escape, billions of dollars worth of US provided military equipment are now in the hands of the Taliban, thousands of hardened Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists were freed from prison, 10 innocent Afghans were killed in a botched airstrike, and 13 of our brave service members were murdered by a coward in a suicide vest.

Prior to the withdrawal, President Biden repeatedly said that the Taliban takeover was not inevitable; that we had plenty of time to safely evacuate Americans and Afghan allies; and that this was not going to be like the Fall of Saigon. When all of these events did eventually happen, he claims his military advisors had not warned him of these possibilities nor that he had received a recommendation to leave a stabilizing force of US troops in the country to prevent such a disaster. However, this week, those assertions by the President were contradicted by Secretary Austin, General Milley, and General McKenzie during their testimony before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. It’s clear that President Biden ignored the advice of his top military advisors, which resulted in a disastrous and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Finally, it is ridiculous that Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller is, to date, the only military official who has suffered any consequence for the failed Afghanistan withdrawal. For speaking out and demanding accountability from civilian and military leadership LtCol Scheller was removed from command and ultimately placed in the brig. This is unacceptable, and my colleagues and I demanded he is removed from confinement immediately. The full letter can be found here.


Congressional Budget Transparency Act:

Throughout my career, I have worked to make government at all levels more transparent to the people it serves. Transparency in and of itself is key to good governance and is not a partisan issue. That is why I was pleased to work with both sides of the aisle to get the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act signed into law. Congressional budget justifications are plain language explanations of how agencies propose to spend money that they request from Congress. While agencies produce an annual congressional budget justification, they are not always made publicly available. With this bill now being signed into law, agencies are required to post those justifications on a single, searchable, publicly available database. This is a win in ensuring the Federal government is more accountable to the taxpayer.



Veterans Backlog:

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is the central repository of personnel-related records for both the military and civil services of the United States Government. Unfortunately, the agency is currently operating at only 10 percent capacity, despite a $15 million appropriation from Congress. As a result, the NPRC has a backlog of more than half a million records requests – predominantly for DD-214 forms – that have been unfulfilled. A DD-214 form is a Veteran’s primary document used to prove his or her service in the United States military. It is required to obtain an identification card needed to receive Veteran benefits like health and dental care, access preferential hiring for federal jobs, shop and receive services at military bases, and more. Without this verification, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Veterans to access the benefits they have earned through hard work and sacrifice to our country. My colleagues and I recently wrote to the President, the Archivist of the United States, and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to urge them to take swift action to address this issue. Veterans are our Nation’s heroes, and they should not be left behind because of bureaucratic red-tape and staffing shortages. To read the full letter, click here.

Solving Postal Issues:
The United States Postal Service (USPS) provides a vital national service, especially for those in rural areas like ours. Unfortunately, my office hears regularly from Sixth District residents about frustrations they have with the USPS. Chief among these concerns is slow mail delivery or folks not receiving their mail at all. This is a serious issue that must be addressed. In addition to this, residents often experience issues with facility accessibility, employee interactions, and the safety of mailbox locations. Please know that I am aware of these difficulties and am taking steps to address them. This week, I met with the USPS government affairs team to voice these concerns and called on them to take corrective action. Rest assured I will keep constituents apprised of any update related to this situation. In the meantime, if you are experiencing issues with the USPS, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my District Offices.

Rep. Cline meets with representatives from the USPS


Community Foundation:
This week I was pleased to recognize the 20th anniversary of the Community Foundation for Rockbridge, Bath, and Alleghany. In its first year as an independent organization in 2011, the Foundation was able to provide $32,000 in grants to the community. Through the support of many individuals, families, and businesses over the years, the organization has grown exponentially, and in the past ten years, the Community Foundation has been able to grant a cumulative $2.5 million to nonprofit organizations, projects, and programs across the organization’s service area. Just this year alone, the group will be awarding more than $300,000 in community grants and an additional $30,000 in scholarships. These grants are made possible through the generosity of individuals and businesses and primarily support projects related to arts and culture, community betterment, education, health, and human services. In celebration of their 20 years, the organization pledged to give away $20,000 in 20 days to various nonprofits throughout our region. The work of the Community Foundation is truly inspiring, and I thank them for their tireless efforts. I wish the organization another 20 plus years of success.

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.

 

Share the News:

Continue Reading

Legislative Update

U.S. Senator Mark Warner: Government won’t shutdown, but disappointed it’s only a temporary measure

Published

on

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after voting in favor of a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown by keeping the government funded at current levels through December 3, 2021:

“I’m pleased to know that the government won’t shut down tonight, but disappointed that we’ve once again been forced to resort to last-ditch measures. Although we voted to avert a shutdown crisis today – sparing the livelihoods of federal workers everywhere and preserving much-needed stability for Americans – we continue to head towards economic calamity by failing to act in a bipartisan way to lift the debt ceiling. Once this stopgap bill is in place, I urge my friends on the other side of the aisle to put the country first and act to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States as we have done so many times in the past.”

The resolution will now head to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

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. Earlier this week, he introduced the Stop STUPIDITY (Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage In The Coming Years) Act, legislation to prevent future government shutdowns.


Share the News:


Continue Reading

Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – September 29, 2021

Published

on


The events of the last week in the House are a prime example of how to poorly run our Nation’s government. Even though one party controls the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, the Federal Government is expected to run out of funds on October 1. Last Tuesday, Democrats passed a Continuing Resolution in an attempt to keep the Government open. However, in an unprecedented move, the Speaker attached a poison pill to raise the debt ceiling but included no reforms to control future runaway spending. The Left will attempt to fault Republicans for a government shutdown or a default should one happen, but considering they have the votes and procedural tools to pass this solely on their own, their attacks are simply a deflection from their own problems.

Further, the House passed a flawed National Defense Authorization Act last week. While this bill is necessary to ensure our servicemembers have the tools necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively, the bill failed to hold the Biden Administration accountable for their incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Democrats also passed a bill that virtually allows abortions on demand until birth. I rose in strong opposition to the measure and advocated for the rights of the unborn.

And finally, as we look toward this week, the Speaker is preparing to call up the Senate’s $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” package, which will be tied to the massive $4.3 trillion “human infrastructure” bill. This boondoggle will do little to improve our Nation’s roads and bridges while saddling future generations with the soaring national debt. One positive development of the past week was that we were able to secure $1 billion in funding for the Iron Dome protecting our ally Israel after “The Squad” had initially forced the Speaker to remove it from the Continuing Resolution. I also had the honor to meet with Sixth District constituents to hear about the issues most important to them. As the House returns to session, I will continue to be a voice of fiscal responsibility during the spending madness with your tax dollars.


Continuing Resolution/Debt Ceiling:
While Republicans have urged the Majority to engage in bipartisan negotiations to keep the government open, Speaker Pelosi unilaterally decided to attach a debt ceiling increase to the Continuing Resolution, providing Democrats a blank check for trillions of dollars in future spending. This measure, which had no bipartisan input and no reforms to rein in future wasteful spending, will not pass the Senate nor be signed into law. Democrats control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they have the procedural tools necessary to raise the debt ceiling without Republican support. My Republican colleagues and I refused to help Democrats in their march toward socialism, and any attempt to blame Republicans for a potential government shutdown is simply a deceiving messaging tactic. If they want Republican support for either measure, they should be prepared to make concessions to rein in wasteful spending, something Democrats refuse to support.

“Infrastructure”:
Since I arrived in Congress in 2019, I have made it a top priority to improve our infrastructure. I have repeatedly advocated for and testified in favor of repairing and expanding our roadways and bridges across the Sixth District, including Interstate 81. While I applaud those in the House and Senate who originally tried to negotiate improvements to our core physical infrastructure, the reality is that the final legislation has gone “off the rails”. In fact, the Senate agreement allocates just $110 billion for roads and bridges, less than 15% of the total bill funding.

In addition, on Saturday, the Budget Committee, on which I serve, marked up the $4.3 trillion reconciliation bill. This legislation is a trojan horse filled with Far-Left Democrats’ socialist dreams. It included $7.5 billion to create a Civilian Climate Corps to promote the Green New Deal, $80 billion for more IRS agents, $42.3 billion in tax credits for the wealthy to buy expensive electric vehicles, and amnesty for illegal aliens. It will kill American jobs, increase taxes on families, increase inflation, provide amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, encourage the elimination of right-to-work laws, expand government control of healthcare, and so much more. The reconciliation package also calls for the highest sustained federal spending levels in American history and proposes $68 trillion in total spending over the next ten years, $16.3 trillion of total deficit spending over ten years, and increases the national debt by $17 trillion, growing to $45 trillion by 2031. This level of spending is reckless with inflation already at a 13-year high and the national debt currently about $29 trillion.

Finally, the $4.3 trillion reconciliation package includes $3 trillion in tax increases, the largest tax increase since 1968. The plan would raise our corporate tax rate to higher levels than even Communist China with a combined state-federal rate of 30.9 percent. American companies would pay this higher global minimum tax for operating abroad while also paying Democrats’ higher corporate rate for operating at home—making America even less competitive and driving jobs, manufacturing, research, and investment overseas. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the Biden Administration’s global minimum tax would destroy up to one million U.S. jobs. Further, middle-class families will undoubtedly bear the burden of Democrats’ corporate income tax hike. The Joint Committee on Taxation found that over 66 percent of the tax increase will be borne by middle- and lower-income earners. This would come in the form of lower wages, unemployment, and higher utility bills. This crippling tax hike comes at a time when American families are dealing with a stagnant economy, skyrocketing inflation, and higher prices triggered by Democrats’ out-of-control spending. This proposal, particularly the corporate tax increase, will be shouldered by the middle-class and small businesses, send jobs and businesses fleeing overseas, and gives America’s competitors an advantage. I voted no on this debacle when it came for a vote in the Budget Committee.

With House Democrats tying passage to the two bills, I must oppose both when they come before the House of Representatives for a vote. Instead, I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address core infrastructure needs across Virginia and throughout the United States.

NDAA:
I support our brave men and women in uniform and appreciate the great sacrifices they and their families make. The National Defense Authorization Act should make sure that our warfighters are the best equipped, most well-trained military in the world. Unfortunately, this bill instead ties the hands of the Department of Defense with more bureaucratic red tape, and it did nothing to address the failures of senior military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan. It also includes “red flag laws” that would impact the Second Amendment rights of soldiers, prioritizes funding Critical Race Theory for our service members, and subjects our daughters to the draft. It is my hope that the Conference Committee will take steps to address these issues and send back to the House a bill that I can support.

Defending Life:
Last week, Democrats continued to push their anti-life agenda on the American people with the passage of the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act.” This extreme bill would override state pro-life laws on informed consent, parental notification in the case of a minor, prohibiting dismemberment abortions, and prohibiting abortions based on a Down Syndrome diagnosis, the baby’s sex, when a baby can feel pain, and when the baby’s heartbeat can be detected. Essentially, the Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act removes nearly all pro-life protections for the unborn at both the state and federal levels. Under this law, every state will be a late-term abortion state where abortions can be performed until birth for almost any reason. I voted against this legislation and will continue to advocate for pro-life policies in Congress. We must defend those who are society’s most defenseless.

Constituent Meetings:
As the Representative for the Sixth District, I remain committed to meeting with constituents and advocacy groups both at home and in Washington. This week, I enjoyed hearing from constituents in-person and virtually to learn more about the issues that matter most to them.

Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority

 

Virginia Poultry Federation

 

Centra Specialty Hospital


COVID:19 Update:

As of September 26, 2021, Virginia has had 849,865b total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 12,511. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of September 26th, 5,757,774 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 5,117,614 people are fully vaccinated.

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.

Share the News:

Continue Reading

King Cartoons

Front Royal
57°
Cloudy
7:34am6:19pm EDT
Feels like: 55°F
Wind: 17mph WNW
Humidity: 54%
Pressure: 29.64"Hg
UV index: 2
WedThuFri
66/45°F
63/54°F
59/50°F

Upcoming Events

Oct
28
Thu
10:00 am Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 28 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]
1:00 pm Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 28 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Grades 4th and 5th. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: 9 and 10 years old Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at[...]
7:00 pm Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Oct 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
White Horse Auto Wash is excited for the first Haunted Tunnel at their new Front Royal location this year! Located next to Lowe’s at 214 Country Club Road, Front Royal, VA. The event will be[...]
Oct
29
Fri
9:00 am Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 29 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Edmonds Lane Field: Join The Piedmont Environmental Council, Friends of the Rappahannock, Goose Creek Association, John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District and We Plant Trees, for volunteer tree planting at Sky Meadows State Park![...]
6:00 pm Trunk or Treat @ Family Dollar Parking Lot
Trunk or Treat @ Family Dollar Parking Lot
Oct 29 @ 6:00 pm – Oct 30 @ 9:00 pm
Trunk or Treat @ Family Dollar Parking Lot
Non-profit organization Crown Vic Kiings & Queens, of Winchester, Virginia, is hosting our annual car club TRUNK OR TREAT, in Front Royal, on October 29th. The event is free but donations are greatly appreciated, as[...]
7:00 pm Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Oct 29 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
White Horse Auto Wash is excited for the first Haunted Tunnel at their new Front Royal location this year! Located next to Lowe’s at 214 Country Club Road, Front Royal, VA. The event will be[...]
Oct
30
Sat
9:00 am Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 30 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Edmonds Lane Field: Join The Piedmont Environmental Council, Friends of the Rappahannock, Goose Creek Association, John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District and We Plant Trees, for volunteer tree planting at Sky Meadows State Park![...]
1:00 pm Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Oct 30 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Fort Valley Museum Fall Craft Festival – Annual Fundraiser October 30 & 31, 2021 | Saturday 1-4pm, Sunday 2-5pm Come by and support the Fort Valley Museum at our annual Fall Craft Festival (formerly “Christmas[...]
1:00 pm Feed the Homeless Trunk or Treat @ T-Bone's Bar & Grill
Feed the Homeless Trunk or Treat @ T-Bone's Bar & Grill
Oct 30 @ 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Feed the Homeless Trunk or Treat @ T-Bone's Bar & Grill
Non-profit organization Crown Vic Kiings & Queens, of Winchester, Virginia, is hosting our annual car club FEED THE HOMELESS/TRUNK OR TREAT on October 30th. The event is free but donations are greatly appreciated, as Crown[...]
7:00 pm Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Oct 30 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
White Horse Auto Wash is excited for the first Haunted Tunnel at their new Front Royal location this year! Located next to Lowe’s at 214 Country Club Road, Front Royal, VA. The event will be[...]